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This recipe came together out of pure experimentation. I woke up the other morning with a craving for lemon cake so I decided I would make my Lemon Bliss Cupcakes. IAfter I made the cake batter and I made a last minute decision to pour the batter into a bundt pan. I have never used and thought why not try now! It came out of the oven and I thought, hey wouldn't a nice lemoney syrup work with this. So I made one up and poured it all over the cake. Looking at it I remembered that I read a recipe for swiss meringue and wouldn't that look cool encasing the bunt- so I whipped some up and covered my bunt in it! And thats how I came to this:




It was kind of like choose your adventure cooking that turned out well and I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself! What have you created out of pure experimentation?

Hope all my Sydney readers are keeping safe in this horrible weather. It sure is the perfect weather for staying in and experimenting in the kitchen ;)

Ingredients

Cake
3 eggs
2 cups butter
3 cups icing sugar
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups S.R flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons milk powder
2 lemons


Syrup
1 cup icing sugar
3/4 warm water
juice of 1/2 lemon

Meringue
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar


Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C (320F). From the cake ingredients, in a bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add 1 cup butter and the caster sugar, then mix until light and fluffy.
2. Sift the flour and milk powder, about eight times (sifting it multiple times means a softer and fluffier cake). Add the flour to the egg mixture, along with the milk and vanilla essence. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until light and creamy.
3. Fold into the mixture the zest from one the lemons and the juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons.
4. Pour the mixture into a bundt tray and cook for 25 minutes.

5. Once the cake has cooled, mix the syrup ingredients together and pour all over the cake

6. Fill a small pot with water and allow it to simmer over a stove. Place a bowl on top of this, dont allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. In the bowl whisk together the egg whites and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
7. Remove from the heat and beat until stiff peaks forms.
8. Dollop the meringue onto the cake, I used a blowtorch to add browness but its fine to serve as it.
Two friends of mine and myself are such Masterchef fans that we have set up a special whatsapp group so we can chat together while we watch it. We are also such big fans, that when we found out that Andy Allen was working at Three Blue Ducks in Bronte we wanted to go so we would stalk him   go so we could try his fabulous cooking! We had been saying we should go for over a year but finally we said okay next weekend it’s happening. With definite plans set we were excited at the thought of potentially meeting Andy and eating something he had cooked. 

A few days before we were meant to go we noticed that on his social media pages said that he was in America (I swear, we aren’t stalkers!) and fretted that he may not even be working when we went. Despite the high chance that Andy would not be working we kept with our plans (See, not stalkey) and just be satisfied with the fact that we would be somewhere Andy had been (okay, maybe a little stalkey).

The café was packed when we arrived, and a small crowd was waiting to be seated. Despite this, the wait for a table wasn’t too long. 

I ordered the flaked house salmon ($22). The egg yolks were runny and the labneh added some nice flavour (more would have been appreciated). Overall, the dish was nice and not heavy, although I wouldn’t say it was worth the hour drive we had all made for it (unless you got to also meet Andy too! Haha). The other perk was that you knew everything was fresh so didn’t have to feel guilty. 



After brunch we wondered down to the café’s little garden which has a beehive and chickens. Unfortunately the chickens were also on holiday when we visited. I think it was cool we could visit the garden that the café grew some of their produce, added to the fun, friendly vibe of the café.

Despite Andy not being at the café, we had a nice time at Three Blue Ducks and it’s quite close to Bronte Beach so go on a nice day so you can make a beach day out of it (which we ended up doing).

The back Garden

Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon
The Easter weekend is over, and if you are anything like me you probably almost overdosed on chocolate! Its time to balance out that chocolate with some savoury and some chilli. Enter my spicy, fried chicken wings! Sorry if you were hoping for a healthy recipe to ease your chocolate guilt, this recipe is to please your taste buds not your hips!




Ingredients

Chicken Wings
16 chicken wings, halved at the joint
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon chicken salt
1/2 tablespoon paprika

Chicken Batter
4 eggs
4 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups flour

Seasoning
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons salt

Dipping Sauce
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons horseradish cream
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Rub all the dry ingredients in the chicken wing section on the wings, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
2. After the two hours, mix together all the batter ingredients, except for the flour. Place the flour on a plate.
3. Prepare your fryer or frying oil (I poured some vegetable oil in a deep pot).
4. Cover each wing in the batter, then the flour before placing them into the oil to be fried. Cook three to five wings at a time, depending on the size of your pot. The wings should turn a golden colour, and will need to be cooked for about 10 minutes
5. Once cooked, place the wings in a tray lined with paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil
5. Mix together the seasoning ingredients, and sprinkle over the cooked chicken
6. Mix together the dipping sauce ingredients and serve with the cooked chicken



Easter is almost among us and that means chocolate season! Any time is a good time for chocolate but when its Easter you almost have to have it. So keeping with the Easter and chocolate theme, I bring you my latest recipe. Totally decadent, totally naughty and totally easy to make!




Ingredients

200 grams chocolate
20 grams butter
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 cup thickened cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips
4 tablespoons chocolate sauce
120 grams chocolate biscuits, crushed (I used chocolate ripple biscuits)
12 small easter eggs (I used Reece's Pieces Eggs to add a peanut butter hit)

Method

1. Place the 200 grams chocolate and butter in a small saucepan, and melt until smooth over a low heat.
2. Allow it to cool slight, a mix in the egg yolks, one at a time. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat together the egg whites until peaks begin to form, sprinkle the sugar on top then beat some more until the peaks stiffen some more.
4. Folder together the egg white with the chocolate mixture, then fold in the cream and chocolate chips. Set in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
5. In four serving glasses of your choice layer the crushed cookies, chocolate sauce and mousse. I chose to have a layer of cookies, then mouse, then chocolate sauce, then mouse, more cookies and then more more mousse. Place the three eggs of the top of each glass. Like I mentioned above I added peanut butter filled eggs to add a new flavour.





One of my favourite school camp activities was the high ropes course, so I was excited to relive camp memories last weekend by visiting Grose River's Trees Adventure. Despite the exitement, I was a little intimated when I saw the various course structures amongst the treetops- I didn't remember them being up that high when I was in school! As our harnesses and safety equipment were handed out, my nerves began to grow but there were a heap of kids also being kitted up so I convinced myself it couldn't be that scary!

Source: Daily Telegraph
After a quick course on how to belay and keep safe on the different course elements, we were set free to navigate the courses independently. There are various colours which indicate level difficulty, and they also age restricted (over 16s can do any course, including the hardest level- black). 

We decided to take it easy and first try level two of the second easiest colour (green), despite the apparent easiness, there were a few elements that made me a little nervous (for example a tightrope where you only had a hanging horizontal bar to hold on to). We then jumped to red (the second hardest level), this course was higher up in the trees and had harder obstacles that required more balance (like a hanging, swinging logs you had to walk across, moving from one to log to the other). An added scary elements in this course were the spiders that had weaved their webs among the obstacles, definitely motivated you to get past it! The ending on this course was sitting on the edge of a platform that was maybe about 10m above and jumping down to the floor! Once you actually push yourself off the edge, its actually a slow descend and not as bad as you prepared yourself for.

We finished off with the two variations of the black course, and some obstacles were so hard/ seemed impossible that I had belay myself onto the rope and pull myself through it (aka cheat my through).

These courses were certainly a workout, I was exhausted at the end and my arms were like jelly (and quite sore the next day!) but it was fun challenging ourselves, pushing past our fears and tackling the different obstacles. The obstacles are in a very pretty scenic area so while you are zipping through on a flying fox or balancing across a tightrope- look around and take it in (hopefully nature will calm your nerves!).

For the two of us, we paid $105 for three hours (concession pricing), but you can also do a two hour package which is the typical offering. I would definitely recommend this as a fun, active way to a day.

This is NOT a sponsored post

Last month, I turned the big twenty-five. Its definitely an age you thought was an "adult" age (or even old!) when you were a child, but as I turned it I definitely didn't feel totally grown up and was not ready to be considered old, so I threw a party to celebrate turning 25 but not being old with a "Childhood" themed party, since I grew up in the 90s it also doubled as a 90s party.

Guests were told to dress in costumes reminiscent of their childhood. Sailor Moon was a big part of my childhood, and I remember fondly watching it every morning before school on Cheez TV. And I wasn't the only girl who was a fan of Sailor Moon, so the uni girls and I were quick to pick the Sailor Scouts as our costume. I chose to go as Sailor Mars as she was my favorite growing up (I always thought Sailor Moon was a bit of a cry baby).

Party pic of the Sailor Scouts

With my costume sorted, my next focus was making sure the theme carried out at the party. There were two elements to this: the entertainment and the food.

Entertainment

There were a range of games we all played in our childhood that I could of picked for my party, such as pass the parcel, but I decided to only pick two games. I thought picking two would allow room for the natural flow of the party and keep it fun so I selected pin the tail on the donkey (I figured this was a fun game - funnier yet after a few drinks! And added some cute decor to the party) and a pinata (because most people's sweet tooth didn't die after childhood).


I purchased the pin the tail on the donkey from the Big W party store and made the pinata using a balloon and classic paper mache using newspaper and coloured crepe paper (google it). I was worried that the games may be a miss with an adult crowd but they ended up being hit, probably because it had been so long since we had all played them.

I also bought some cheap photobooth props off Ebay so people could play around with them and take selfies.

Food

Lollies, party pies, mini sausage rolls, chips. These were all staples at parties when I was a kid so they were all featured on the food table at my party. I also whipped up two other Aussie kid party classics: chocolate crackles and fairy bread!


Chocolate Crackles
I loved chocolate crackles, and would whip up a batch most school holidays so it was a must at my Childhood party. They are also super easy to make. Melt 250 grams of Copha in a saucepan over low heat, mix in 4 cups of Cocoa Puffs, 1 cup Icing Sugar, 3 tablespoons of Icing Sugar and 1 cup of desiccated Coconut. Spoon the mixture evenly into patty cups. Because I was also trying to establish a rainbow theme, I sprinkled some 100s and 1000s on top before allowing them to set in the fridge.




Fairy Bread
Not only was this a kid's party must have dish, the rainbow sprinkles went with the rainbow theme I was also trying to establish. Fairy bread (if you live under a rock) is super easy to make: get your bread, spread butter and then cover in 100s and 1000s (sprinkles). To make it a bit more cuter, I first used a cookie cutter to cut the bread into little bit size circles.



For over year I had been salivating over the Instagrams and blog posts featuring what many exclaimed to be “the best French toast ever”.  If you are a Sydney foodie you have probably guessed what café I’m talking about. If you have no idea, I’m talking about Redfern’s Three Williams.

Despite all the attempts to organise brunch or lunch there (once it even included travelling all the way there to discover the kitchen was closed), I only got to try Three Williams last week. And it was totally worth the wait (spoiler alert!).

We arrived at 11am on Wednesday and the staff showed us our seating options (of which there was plenty). Our waiter then asked if we wanted any drinks and handed us the menu (he actually asked us if we wanted drinks so many times we wondered if he made a special commission from drink sales). The reason I came there was the crunchy brioche french toast with berries($16), but I was actually craving savoury so I also ordered zucchini flower stuffed with marinated ricotta for three reasons 1) it sounded delicious, 2) it was cheap ($3), 3) I assumed it was be small and not ruin my appetite before the toast.

My cousin and sister decided to share one of their narnies and the other French toast option which featured a chocolate and caramelised banana.



All our food arrived at the same time, which meant no awkward “you can start, seriously your meal will get cold” debate.

I first dug into the zucchini flower which was served with some sort of tomato sauce/relish. I am always hesitant with ricotta stuffed foods, as I sometimes find it a bit bland but they hit the spot with theirs, very well-seasoned. I did find the tomato relish drowned the yumminess of the zucchini flower and it tasted better without.




Then it was time for the dish of honour. I am not going to lie, looking at the other French toast option I did get a little pang of food envy (the reason I didn’t order it was because I am not a banana fan) but after tasting my dish, I was in love. Sweet and crispy on the outside, fluffy bread on the inside which worked well the berries, nuts and yogurt. Soo good, and soo worth the hype. I had a taste of the other option, and besides the fact I didn’t like the banana, I was really glad I ordered what I did because I thought it was a bit too heavy because of the rich ganache. Think that one definitely would have benefited from adding berries, to add some tartness.

We left very satisfied and I was really glad I finally made the trip and hope it’s not another year before I get to try that delicious French toast wonder again!


Three Williams on Urbanspoon
I was overseas for Australia Day so when my cousin made her first trip to Australia recently, I jumped at the chance to make an appropriately themed treat to welcome her! I immediately thought of lamingtons because I hadn't made them before and was keen to try and also, how could you go wrong with a chocolate covered cake?

To make it extra Australian, I decided to also try my hand at marbling for the first time and marble the inside with green and gold. 

The lamingtons were a total hit at the welcome lunch and I think it definitely gave my cousin a good impression of what Australia has to offer!



Ingredients
125 grams butter, softened
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
Yellow and Green food colouring
3 cups desiccated coconut
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter (for the icing)
1/2 cup boiling water

Note: This recipe requires preparation overnight

Directions
1.  Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until well combined, should be light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beating each egg for a minute before adding the next.
2. Slowly sift in the flour, folding as you go. 
3. Fold in the milk, and fold until well combined.
4. Pour mixture in a greased tray (I used a tray that was about 10cm by 25cm, and 4cm deep). On the top drip little droplets of green and yellow food colouring (not too many, maybe 6 little dots). Using a fork, gently fold through the food colouring to streak the batter with yellow and green.
5. Bake at 180 degrees Celcius for 25 minutes. Check if its cooked by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean, its cooked!
6. Once the tray has been removed from the oven and has cooled, place on a wire tray and keep in a safe place overnight (I put it back in the oven once it had cooled)

7. Mix together the last four ingredients until well combined. 
8. Cut the cake into a desirable shapes, I cut them into little squares and that yielded 25 lamingtons.
9. Pour half a cup of the desiccated coconut onto a plate (keep topping up the plate as you need).
10. Dip each square into the chocolate icing, drip off any excess then cover in coconut. Place on a wire tray to set.

What it looks like on the inside


Soo I have been a bad blogger in January. Instead of posting I was too busy celebrating turning the big 2-5 (Don't know if everyone thinks its a big birthday but I am trying to make it the new 21st) and jetting over for a quick vacay in Sri Lanka. But these activities have inspired some of my future February posts, including this one!

One of the highlights of my trip this year was definitely white water rafting down the Kelani River in Kitulgala. Because most of my family live in Sri Lanka, we have been making trips there since I was in diapers. Having been there so frequently, I was surprised to read about a town called Kitulgala which was touted as the adventure capital of Sri Lanka. The surprise quickly turned into determination, determination to ensure I payed Kitulgala a visit.

Although there are a range of activities offered in this town, including abseiling and trekking, the one I read most about was white water rafting. Since I have never been white water rafting, and because it looked a lot cheaper to do in Sri Lanka than Australia, this was the activity I was most keen on.

A quick Google search a few days before the trip led me to Ceylon Adventure/ Kitulgala Adventures, who offered a white water rafting package that looked pretty good; a welcome drink, 5km guided rafting, a buffet lunch and evening tea. It costs 3000 rupees (a little under $30 AUD) for foreigners and 1850 for locals.

We made it a day trip from Colombo, but they also offer accommodation and overnight packages. Google maps indicated that the trip from Colombo to Kitulgala would take about 1.5 hours but in reality it was closer to 3, that's Sri Lankan traffic for you.

Upon arriving they presented us with our fresh fruit drink and then showed us to our private base camp which consisted of two large tents sitting on a large balcony area that overlooked the tops of the forrest. Very glamping. This area was given to us as a changing and rest area. 

Pre rafting group shot

After changing we made our way to the rafting start point, a journey which included a quick ride in a Tuk and a short trek down the lush forrest to the river. From there we boarded onto our raft and began our adventure. It was a lot of fun and it was a Grade 3 so wasn't very strenuous and good for beginners. There were a lot of spots where we could "relax" (one of the terms we had to learn in our 2 minute pre training), not row and just enjoy the beautiful view and take pictures. We even had a chance to jump out of the raft and go for a little swim. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we were all super keen to plan our next rafting adventure. Although, next time I am eager to go for a longer raft as we all felt 5km was a bit short (they also offer 8km and 10km).

Once we finished our rafting, we were treated to a buffet lunch which was a very classic, traditional Sri Lankan meal which included chicken curry, mushroom curry and dhall etc. I thought this would be such a great package for tourists because not only do they get to explore natural Sri Lanka on a raft but they also get to try traditional home style cooking.

Post rafting river dip

After lunch we were welcome to relax as long as we wanted in our base camp. Not being much of a rester I decided to instead take a swim in the river and trek around. I was then keen to make it back to Colombo as I had dinner plans and knew the journey would be long. I don't know if they thought we were in a rush to go home or forgot but we never got offered our afternoon tea, although it wasn't too big a deal because we had had an amazing experience.

All in all, I would totally recommend doing white water rafting in Kitulgala. It was a great way to spend some time in Sri Lanka's natural wonders and was a really good bargain. And Ceylon Adventure is definitely not the only white water rafting provider, the river is lined with providers so could even be a sponatous adventure where you pick someone one the day you decide to do it!



Happy New Year! If your new years resolution was to eat clean, then back away from this post. This gnocchi recipe is an indulgent, "I had a big weekend and now I want to sit down and treat myself" kinda dish. Alternatively, its also perfect for a cosy night in. 

Ingredients
500 gm gnocci, cooked as instructed on package
400 gm can of crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup thick cream
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbs minces garlic
1 tbs oil of your choice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Heat oil in a small saucepan, once hot add garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes
2. Add the cream and tomatoes, stir and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir through cooked gnocci, remove from heat and serve as is or with a helping of shaved Parmesan.