Madhur Jaffrey's Rogan Josh

My new obsession is Indian food after watching a few episodes of Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation. To my luck I found one of her cookbooks on the bookshelf, one that my parents apparently used to use before I was even born! I had a read and then decided we were having Rogan Josh for supper. After a few hours I'm still feeling so good for having this; its just so hearty, spicy and comforting. You can also alter the hot factor to this dish without compromising on flavour or colour, just decide your own ratio of paprika to cayenne pepper. I did ever so slightly adapt her original recipe; I ommitted the 1 tsp salt just to be healthier and added 2 more tbsp of yogurt since I had a lot of cayenne pepper! Serve it with basmati rice, greens and an aubergine side dish.


2 x 2.5cm cubes of ginger
8 garlic cloves
4 tbsp + 275ml water
10 tbsp vegetable oil
900g boned meat from lamb shoulder or leg
10 cardamon pods
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
10 black peppercorns
2.5cm stick of cinnamon
200g finely chopped onions
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp bright red paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (makes a hot curry!)
8 tbsp plain natural yogurt
a sprinkling of garam masala
freshly ground black pepper

  • Take the ginger, garlic, 4 tbsp of water and combine into a paste (use a food processor or fine grater and stir them together)
  • Brown the lamb in a wide, heavy pot over a medium/high flame with the 10 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Remove the browned lamb from the pot, set aside and add the cardamon pods, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick in the same hot oil, stir for 30 seconds
  • Toss in the finely chopped onions and fry for 5 minutes until medium-brown
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste, stirring for 30 seconds followed by the coriander, cumin, your chosen paprika-cayenne pepper ratio, salt (if you wish) and stir for 30 seconds
  • Put the the browned meat back into the pot and stir for 30 seconds
  • 1 tbsp at a time, add the yogurt; stirring in between each addition
  • Fry the curry for 3-4 minutes before pouring in 275ml water and stirring to combine everything
  • Bring to the boil, cover, turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour to slowly cook and tenderise the lamb
  • Take the lid off, turn the heat up and allow the excess liquid to evaporate to give a thick and rich sauce
  • Sprinkle the garam masala and freshly cracked pepper before serving


Strawberry Tiramisu

This is so incredibly easy you'll want to make it all summer. Perfect for summer barbecues and a nice twist on the usual strawberries and cream. This is also a non-boozy tiramisu which is a bonus for some.

It was the first thing I made with my orange Kmix stand mixer which I absolutely love. It was fairly expensive and there were times whilst on holiday when I thought mmm I shouldn't have bought it but no its amazing, it does everything - including making lovely desserts for summer :)

To make this you'll need:

400g of mascarpone
½ cup of heavy cream
¼ cup of sifted icing sugar
3 cups of strawberries
2 tbsp of caster sugar
1 package of lady fingers

Chop the strawberries roughly and place in a bowl with the sugar sprinkled on top. Cover and set aside for one hour to allow them to sweeten.

With your stand mixer or bowl with spoon, combine the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar.
Take your chosen container (I picked a glass trifle bowl but you can use anything that is reasonably deep)

Start layering! it needs to go lady fingers - mascarpone mix - strawberries. You may need to crush up some of the fingers if you're using a round bowl like I did.

Cover the dessert with cling film and refrigerate over night. You can take it out after a few hours but if you leave it longer the lady fingers get more time to soak in the strawberry juice (YUM!)

Take the tiramisu out when you're ready to serve.

Marinaded scallops wrapped in bacon

In Australasia it seems quite normal to eat a lot of seafood in the summer, especially at Christmas which was when we had these. I was inspired by a recipe I found in the local paper but I've tweaked it for my own taste. These make a great appetiser and I hope you like them as much as I do!

You'll need:
3 x 300g bags of small scallops
2 packs of streaky bacon
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
lots of toothpicks 
  1. Defrost your scallops if you need to by putting them into a bowl of water and covering for a few hours
  2. Combine the maple syrup, soy sauce and dijon mustard to make the marinade; add the defrosted scallops, stir so they're all coated and leave for an hour
  3. Take the streaky bacon and cut each slice in half so they're now short strips
  4. Wrap a strip around the outside of one scallop and pin in place with a toothpick; wrap all the scallops with the short bacon strips
  5. Once all scallops are wrapped place on a greased baking tray
  6. Cook them at 190 degrees C for 15 minutes on each side; this will turn the scallops opaque and the bacon will crisp. Everyone's oven is different mind so keep an eye on them! 


Shiraz Chocolate Cake

It's been a very stressful last few months; with my boyfriend getting so sick and the awful university study catch up that came with it. Luckily it's all done now and Simon is getting better. We're actually spending a week in the Coromandel which so far has been so nice to just unwind forget about the stresses of life and remember what really matters. During my rough ride through Simon's illness I've realised a few things;

1) I should not take my health for granted - truth is you only start to appreciate it once someone close to you almost loses their's...
2) Who my real friends are 
3) To not take life quite so seriously 

I finished my exams last Friday and started off my summer by baking my Dad a Shiraz Birthday cake on Sunday. I'm really pleased with how this turned out! Its a monster cake, prepare for richness.

How to make this rich Shiraz Chocolate cake:

The cake:
  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed sea salt
  • 1 cup of extra light olive oil (you can also use sunflower or canola)
  • 2 whisked eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ cup of your favourite Shiraz (I used Talyors Promised Land Shiraz)
The buttercream:

  • 1 cup of Shiraz
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 225g of softened butter
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • An extra slash of Shiraz
To finish:
  • 500g of good quality dark chocolate (I used Whittaker's 72% cocoa Dark Ghana)
  • Half a punnet of blackberries
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt. 

One at a time, in this order mix in the olive oil, eggs, wine and vanilla essence. 

The mixture needs to be added to a 9 inch round baking pan thats approximately 1.5 inches deep. Grease the pan and bake in the oven at 180C until its done. I never usually specify a time because all ovens are different and depending on your oven and the pan you chose the time to cook the cake will vary, I usually go and check the cake when I can smell it around the house. Then I stick a knife inside and see if its clean. If so, take it out and allow it to cool completely. My cake took about 45 minutes to cook. 

All my cakes that I use oil in end up with this cracked effect on the top. It's fine if its going to be covered in frosting anyway and it adds a real gooey-ness to the cake so its worth it :) Also better for you!

To make the Shiraz buttercream:
  • 1 cup of Shiraz
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 225g of softened butter
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • An extra slash of Shiraz
Pour the 1 cup of Shiraz and the caster sugar into a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and form a syrup. This now needs to completely cool or it will melt the butter later.

Once cooled the butter and the icing sugar to create the buttercream. Add the syrup you made so you get a pink buttercream. Also add the extra splash of Shiraz. 

Assuming the cake is cool, cut it in half (preferably with a cake cutter so you have even layers). Take the bottom layer and add all of the Shiraz buttercream onto it. The idea is to get a very even and thick layer onto the cake. It takes some effort to get it even - it needs to reach the edges!

Next put the other layer of cake on top to make a sandwich. Because you made sure the buttercream was all even it should lie flat on top of the Shiraz buttercream. 

Break the dark chocolate up into chunks and melt over a low heat in a saucepan. Once melted and cooled just slightly, pour over the cake. I put the cake onto a cooling tray over the top of a plate to I could cover the sides without it building up at the bottom. It takes some effort and a bit of time to get the chocolate all evenly coating the top and sides of the cake. Once you've run out and the plate if getting full, pick the tray up and transfer to another plate and use the used plate to pour the chocolate back on. 

Once the cake is all evenly coated stick as many blackberries as you like onto the cake. I chose blackberries because I think they go really well with the Shiraz. Especially this one which I find to be quite blackberry like in flavour. 

The cake needs to set if possible. In the New Zealand summer this is hard to I needed to put it in the fridge for 10 minutes. It didn't totally set but I found that slightly melted is easier for cutting and gives the cake an extra gooey-ness. 


Lemon and poppyseed drizzle loaves

The weekend just gone was a fairly miserable one in our household. Everyone has a cold, its cold outside, and its the end of the holiday...ohh no. Time to make cake and eat it.

I really didn't want to go out to the supermarket to get ingredients so I just used what I had at home to make these. Not a bad creation I have to say :)

You will need:

For the cake:
170g of Flora
170g of Caster Sugar
3 large eggs
170g of Self-raising flour
2 teaspoons of poppy seeds
The zest of 2 lemons

For the drizzle:
120g of icing sugar
The juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon of poppy seeds

I've used this recipe of equal fat, sugar and self-raising flour for fairy cakes and realised that flora, not butter, just tastes so much better. Its really true. When you think about it, the idea of eating a margarine cake sounds gross because margarine is quite gross on its own, as oppose to butter which just tastes great wherever. In a cake though, the margarine gives it a much lighter texture and you feel slightly better in that it won't clog up your arteries either. So may we call this a guilt free cake considering its a cake? :P

Take the Flora and caster sugar in one large mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. Crack in the eggs next, stir and then add the flour. Mix until you get a uniform mixture. Zest the lemons over the bowl and add the poppy seeds. Once stirred thoroughly pour into one large loaf mould or a pan of mini loaves like I used. This mixture makes one large loaf and 8 mini loaves.

Bake at 180 degrees C for about 30 mins but keep an eye on it as it will depend on your oven and what kind of cake mould you used.

When they're done and cooling slightly you can make the drizzle. Just combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and poppy seeds. While the cakes are still hot and in the moulds still, poke the cakes with a skewer to dot a few holes on each one. You can then pour over your drizzle and let the cakes to cool  allowing the drizzle to set.



Skinny carrot fritters

Vegetable fritters are awesome. Filling, healthy and almost no calories :D win win win

I loved Rosie Londoner's greek courgette fritters and I make them every few weeks but I decided to try create my own. I am very pleased with this recipe and I encourage you to try it too.

You'll need:
3 large carrots
1 large cucumber
1 spring onion
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of paprika
sea salt and black pepper to season
3 eggs
some oil for frying

Start by grating your carrots and cucumber into a colander over a bowl or saucepan. This may take some time but see it as burning more calories  :P it'll tire your arms. Sprinkle liberally with the sea salt and leave for half an hour while the water drains out. After half an hour you'll have to get your hands in and really force out the water. the more water you can get out the better and you can always save the carrot and cucumber juice for a drink later? when the mixture is thoroughly squeezed out you can start adding the other ingredients. Chop up the spring onion finely and add it along with the garlic, sesame seeds paprika and black pepper. Mix it up so its all even. Beat 3 eggs in a separate bowl and add to the mixture when you're ready for cooking the fritters. Heat up some oil in a pan and when it gets really hot  you can start adding small mounds of the mix. Cook evenly on each side for a few minutes each and slide them all onto a plate to share. These are quite sweet naturally from the carrot so you could serve them with a kind of tangy sauce or just lemon juice to balance it out. 

Simon and I made ours ready to watch X factor New Zealand. Theres only 4 acts now!


One Tree Grill

Since I wasn't (going to) be able to go to Lisa's 21st on Wednesday, and neither was Jennie, we decided to take Lisa out for dinner so we could have our own 21st for her. I'm now able to go to her 21st and am pretty excited for it but I was also pretty keen for a meal out anyway. We've all seriously earned this after exams :)

Jennie picked out One Tree Grill...in...you guessed it, One Tree Hill, in Central Auckland for those that aren't familiar. It was gorgeous. Probably the most expensive meal I've had to pay for yet but it was so lovely and I'll be wanting to go back again.

They had these really cool menus on iPad minis. When you clicked on the dish it would show you a photo! We took forever to decide...

Raspberry and Rose Mojito,

Caribbean sunsets...

Lisa and I both ordered  the duck and Jennie ordered the Serloin with a bernaise sauce

Cool menus came back for dessert!
we chose ice creams, creme brûlée and petit fours. 

Time to give Lisa her present :) 
Together Jennie and I picked out a bracelet from Coast and I also got her a little silky makeup bag with 4 hand creams from L'Occitane.

My bill came to $83 something...for main, dessert, cocktail and me paying for our extra bread rolls. Its kind of fried my bank account but thats okay, its the holidays :) and the duck was soooo good. I'd go back for that same dish :P