Easy Whole orange (rind and all) and mint cake

This easy whole orange cake (rind and all) recipe is perfect for lazy bakers like me!

Easy whole orange and mint cake

You just boil a couple of whole oranges for a long time, then chop and process them in a food processor, along with 4 other ingredients and pop in the oven for an hour or so!

Place a flat bowl or plate on top of the oranges to keep them submerged.

I was too lazy to swop out the water too many times, so I just boiled the oranges for half an hour, with a flat bowl placed on top, to keep the oranges submerged. Then I did it once more for another half an hour. This process removes the bitterness from the rind so is important, but doesn’t require much attention or effort.

Slice the oranges and allow to completely cool

I love using a food processor to make this cake, as it really is a one bowl cake with little washing up and no fussing. Definitely a very easy cake to make!

Whizz the cooled chopped oranges until a smoothish purée forms
Easy whole orange and mint cake

Turned out my fan forced oven is probably a bit hotter than others so next time I’d probably heat it to 150 degrees Celsius and cook it for about an hour an ten minutes so it doesn’t get as dark on top. Mind you it still tasted great the way it turned out!

The resulting moist cake full of orange flavours and a slight hint of mint is delicious! I made this and took it to work today and it disappeared in a jiffy. Orders for more have already been placed.

Moist whole orange and mint cake

I used this great recipe from Recipe Tin Eats but added a small handful of very finely diced up fresh mint leaves to the batter right at the end to add the minty zest. Totally optional though.

Thanks Recipe Tin Eats for the very easy and delicious recipe!

Neil’s Nifty Nachos and Chilli

On our last night at Arcadia Retreat in Rarotonga our friend Neil made this delicious and nifty version of nachos and chilli.

Neil’s Nifty Nachos and chilli

As we know Nachos are usually multi-layers of tortilla chips with cheese and a variety of toppings often including versions of chilli con carne or meatballs. Inevitably the chips go soggy in parts, but with Neil’s Nifty Nachos, there is no danger of that!

The nifty trick is simply serve the cheesy tortillas baked in the oven separately to the chilli, sour cream and guacamole!

His recipe for the chilli con carne is also delicious, imbued with spices such as cinnamon and cloves!

Tips for great nachos

In exploring tips for great nachos I found these two articles which focus on the more traditional multi-layered versions.

This story from the Cape Cod Times suggests using the cheese as a buffer zone to protect the crispiness of the chips. (This story also has some interesting suggestions about the creation and naming of nachos.)

And Bon Appetit lays out 10 rules for making nachos.

But neither suggest Neil’s Nifty Nachos version of simply separating the chips and sauce and completely avoiding any chance of soggy chips in the first place!

So here’s how he does it.

Neil’s Nifty Nachos and Chilli Recipe

Make the chilli first, but don’t forget to get the ingredients for the nachos and sides when you go shopping!

Chilli Ingredients

  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 1 can kidney beans (do not drain, it will go in with the brine!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 3-4 fresh red chillies finely chopped (deseed if you prefer)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 green capsicum diced
  • 1 fresh tomato diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large heavy based pot or pan with a lid, and add cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds and bay leaf ..heat until fragrant.

2. Add pork and beef mince, garlic, onion, chopped chilli and chilli powder.

3. Turn up heat frying and breaking up mince continuously with a spoon for about 5 minutes until well coloured and onions are translucent. It’s important to dry fry the mince rather than allow it to stew.

Fry rather than stew the mince mixture

4. Add tinned tomato, tomato paste and can of kidney beans with brine and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or so to allow mince to absorb flavours, adding 1 cup water if mixture is sticking.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste to mince mixture.

5. Add green capsicum, half the fresh coriander and fresh tomato and cook for another 15 minutes until sauce is reduced and capsicum is just cooked.

6. Add the rest of the fresh chopped coriander and mix through.

7. Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, pickled jalapeños and guacamole on the side.

Neil’s Nifty Nachos and chilli

Nachos ingredients:

  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese (as chunky grate as you can)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • Baking paper

Method:

1. Turn on your grill to high heat and line baking pan with baking paper.

2. Alternately layer tortilla chips generously sprinkling the two types of cheese between them, saving enough for a thick layer of cheese on top.

Chunky grated cheese for Neil’s tortilla chips

3. Grill chips until cheese is melted and chips are crispy. Serve immediately on the side with Neil’s chilli, sour cream, pickled jalapeños and sour cream on the side.

Crispy, cheesy grilled tortilla chips

Serving Neil’s Nifty Nachos and Chilli

Lift the cheesy tortilla chips with the baking paper onto a platter or just place baking pan (on a placemat) on the table with chilli con carne and sides such as sour cream, guacamole and pickled jalapeños to the side.

Guests serve themselves, layering the chips with the chilli and sides to their taste, but you can be guaranteed that the chips stay crispy and the chilli is delicious!

Neil’s Nifty Nachos and chilli

Scrumptious: Citizens of Gramercy

Had a truly scrumptious breakfast with Australian style strong coffee at Citizens of Gramercy (362 2nd Ave) on my visit to New York last year.

The Citizens group has 3 neighbourhood cafes in Gramercy, Soho and Chelsea and serves all day breakfast including their excellent smashing avocado.

All day breakfast at Citizens in New York, New York!

The Smashing Avocado features avocado tossed with feta, lime, cilantro on top of thick cut multigrain toast, garnished with pickled onion, radish, pumpkin seeds and beetroot hummus…yummy!

Also tried the big breakfast (without the poached eggs that they normally come with) and the crispy bacon with chorizo baked beans which was delicious too. The smoky flavour of the beans even reminded me of my homemade baked beans recipe!

Scrumptious Big Breakfast at Citizen of Gramercy
Baked beans, chorizo and bacon on sourdough toast

Service was friendly and the Sunday morning breakfast vibe was happy and buzzy. The Gramercy location exudes a beachside shack atmosphere: casual, laidback with great food and coffee but smack-bang in downtown Manhattan. Definitely a scrumptious start to the day at Citizens of Gramercy!

Beach shack vibes at Citizens of Gramercy

Great find!

Zesty Finger Lime Cucumber Salad

This zesty finger lime cucumber salad was a delicious accompaniment to our warm beef salad, and would also be lovely with grilled or poached fish or chicken.

Zesty Finger Lime Salad

A friend of ours had gifted us native Australian finger limes which are becoming a very trendy ingredient on restaurant menus “down-under”, but they are still difficult to find in shops. If you see any, make sure you grab them as you will love their unique “caviar” like texture with tiny balls of lime that pop in your mouth.

You can read more about this intriguing fruit https://tuckerbush.com.au/finger-lime-citrus-australasica/

Australian native finger limes

I really wanted to make a dish that would showcase their flavour n texture ad thought cucumbers would be a good “backdrop” for this purpose.

I found this great recipe on The Devil Wears Salad but didn’t have all the ingredients to hand so improvised with things I had to hand.

The resulting cucumber salad topped with the caviar-like pearls of finger lime was delicious and the perfect zesty accompaniment to our warm beef salad.

(Thanks Helen for gifting us such a wonderful new ingredient!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers
  • 4-5 ripe finger limes
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or rice vinegar

Method:

1. Slice and chop one cucumber into small chunks. I slice then quarter each slice. Then using a large vegetable peeler, “peel” the second cucumber into long ribbons. Mix the 2 styles of cucumber in a bowl and set aside.

2. Chop the chilli finely and crush the ginger.

3. Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed ginger , chopped chilli, and vinegar in a small bowl.

3. Cut the finger limes in half, horizontally. Onto a plate, Squeeze the end of each half gently but firmly until “pearls” of lime emerge. Repeat with all lime halves until you have a glistening pile of finger lime “caviar”. (You want to do this as close to serving your salad as possible so the finger lime pearls don’t dry up and clump together in lumps)

Finger lime caviar squeezed from halved lime

5. Gently toss dressing through cucumbers, then place the dressed cucumbers on a serving plate and scatter the finger lime caviar over the salad and serve immediately.

Zesty Finger Lime and Cucumber Salad

Fabulous Fava Bean Hummus

Had this delicious Fava bean hummus at Nomad restaurant in Surry Hills in Sydney last night. The hummus is served with vivid green parsley oil and crispy split and fried Fava beans on top. It is a visually spectacular dish filled with flavour and texture.

Fava bean hummus at Nomad Restaurant, Surry Hills Sydney

Making it at home would indeed be a “labour of love“ as Stephanie Mary says in her blog on My Tiny Laguna Kitchen. Her recipe looks great but the double peeling of the Fava beans is the time consuming part.

But it would make for a stunning starter especially if paired with yummy wood fired flatbread like it is at Nomad.

Wood fired flatbread at Nomad Restaurant Sydney

And here’s a link to making the bright green parsley oil from Delicious.com.au

Parsley oil recipe from delicious.com.au

Some inspiration for the future or if you are lucky like us, back to Nomad for more!

Certainly was a great way to start to what was a delicious dinner.

Spicy Southern Thai pork rib dry curry

A shortcut recipe for a Southern Thai Pork ribs curry with a zesty, spicy, sweet, sour Thai curry sauce…yum.

I was looking for dinner ideas yesterday and stumbled upon a recipe for this traditional Southern Thai “dry curry”, called this because it doesn’t have coconut milk in it. Now this is a new delicious discovery!

Shortcut Recipe

The traditional Thai dry curry recipe involves making the hot spice paste from scratch, which looked quite involved ..probably worth it if a larger amount and all the fresh ingredients required are available.

To bypass making the paste from scratch, but try to achieve the flavours outlined in the original recipe, I decided to use a bought red curry paste as a base and add additional ingredients such as turmeric, lemongrass, lime zest, fresh chillies and garlic pounding these to a paste first and then adding the bought curry paste.

The resulting paste worked really well. This is the only hard work you will have to do as the rest is just simmering it all together for about an 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Using lean pork ribs with very little fat also meant that the end result wasn’t overly oily/fatty.

My additional ingredients

I also added small eschallots and chopped green beans which are optional but the sweetness of the onions and crunch of the green beans went well with the succulent, lip smacking ribs!

This will be going on a family favourites list!

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large rack of “American style” pork ribs, ask the butcher to cut in half vertically. (About 600g)
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 fresh red chillies
  • Knob of fresh ginger (about equal to quantity of garlic)
  • 1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp,paste (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 7 heaped teaspoons of bought Thai red curry paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups of water

Method:

1. Cut all the ribs into individual pieces slicing between them.

2. Slice 1/2 the stick of lemongrass, chop up 3 chillies, ginger, garlic and put into a mortar and pestle. Add the lime zest and pound all the ingredients until a paste forms.

3. Add the turmeric powder to the paste and mix through.

4. Add the bought curry paste and shrimp,paste and pound/mix together with your paste to amalgamate.

5. Heat oil in a heavy based pot (which has a lid), add curry paste and the 3 other chillies (left whole with stems removed). Stir fry paste until it is fragrant.

6. Add 1/2 cup or so of water to loosen up the paste, then add pork ribs and stir to coat ribs in sauce stirring continuously so ribs don’t stick and paste doesn’t burn. Add additional water if necessary. You just want the meat to “seal” rather than brown.

7. Add kaffir lime leaves, rest of water, fish sauce, black pepper, white pepper, sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes.

8. Add eschallots, lime juice and stir.

9. After another 15-20 minutes, check curry is not sticking, see if your meat is tender. Add green beans, and a bit more water if necessary.

10. Cook for 5-8 minutes until green beans are just tender. Sauce should be well reduced and you will see the oil separating slightly on the sides. You want the sauce to be coating the ribs!

11. Garnish with finely sliced lime leaves, chopped coriander and serve with jasmine rice, and an empty bowl on the side for your rib bones!