Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday I'm In Love: Before I die.

The other day at work, my friend asked me what bands I would most like to see before I died. 
I couldn't think of a single band. 

When people put me on the spot I get all flustered and I could only think of stupid bands (The Spice Girls), or ones that I've seen already (Tegan & Sara). And to make matters worse, her answers were all trendy (Radiohead, Daft Punk, Portishead) and so were everyone else's. 

But I couldn't stop thinking about it. What bands would I most like to see? Out of all the bands, ever, there must be someone that I would most like to see. Surely.
I didn't take my first steps on a dance floor as a baby just to have no answer to this question. 

But I thought long and hard about it, and I came up with a list, and I could probably tell you one memory related to each song: 

I think my dad introduced me to Bjork. Or maybe when I was a kid I just really liked the umbrella dance routine in 'It's oh so quiet', either way, I now own all her albums and went through a stage when I wanted to listen to Hyperballad every day. 

I like their upbeat stuff more than their gothic stuff, but I just can pass up all that big hair. I liked 'Love Cats' long before I realised who The Cure actually were. And then in year 11 it was really cool to listen to them, and I jumped on that bandwagon for life. 

I listened to The Smiths a lot in years 11 and 12. They remind me of my friends Leah and Susan, when we'd stay at each others' houses and drink cheap champagne. Those were the days... 

I'm pretty sure that my aformentioned friend Susan introduced me to Arcade Fire. When Brent and I were in  Glasgow, we went to a pub that had this album playing on repeat. Now that's all I can think about when I listen to them. Ahhh... Scotland.

Mostly I like the way Tom Waits sounds like he's been drinking lots of whisky and smoking even more cigarettes for a really long time. But it's all beautiful. I think my dad also introduced me to Tom Waits. I remember him listening to it as a kid, and I had no idea why he wanted to listen to that weird guy with the deep, crackly voice.

What bands would you most like to see before you die?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Onion marmalade


Everyday around 5.30, Brent and I start the what-are-we-going-to-have-for-dinner routine.
"How about stir-fry?"
"Nah. What about pasta?"
"Nah... But we do have to eat that chicken in the fridge..."
"Yeah... How about take-away pizza?"
But some days I get inspired, and I make something special for us (Although, it's happening less and less these days as the semester draws to an end).

Yesterday we had pan-fried Moroccan chicken with onion marmalade. It was spicy and sweet and easy for a Tuesday night meal. Particularly because I made this marmalade earlier in the day.

Here's to dinner inspiration!


Onion Marmalade:
Adapted from Shutterbean

I didn't make very much of this, because I made it just for dinner. Although, I did get carried away sterilising the jar that the onions were going to live in for a few hours. I'm going to give you my very small recipe which made less than a cup. Refer to Shutterbean's original recipe if you're planning on making lots of this (which is probably a good idea, because it's delicious and goes with everything).

1 red onion
1/2 brown onion
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp white sugar
3 tbsp chicken stock

Slice the onions.
Place the onions in a non-stick pan with a splash of olive oil.
Cook on medium heat, covered, for about 15 minutes, until onions are translucent. Stir occasionally.
Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
Place the onions into a container, and let cool before covering. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

[I've been listening to The Radio Dept.'s album on repeat while studying in the library. I know that soon I won't be able to listen to this album at all, but at the moment, it's everything I need.]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chocolate & almond cake.


Every birthday deserves cake. It just wouldn't be the same otherwise.
This cake was for my friend Kirby's birthday.
It's full of chocolate and almonds and even more chocolate.


But when you turn 23, you don't get candles or singing on your birthday. Especially not in a lovely cafe when you're eating lunch.
We had a lovely lunch at Jam Jar, and there was sav blanc and lovely ladies and warm winter salads.


After lunch, there were more drinks, and more friends, and cocktails that came in bear-shaped jars.
The rest of the night looked like this, dark and a little bit blurry.

(I'm not even sure that I'm allowed to call Kirby 'turdy'. I don't know where the nickname came from, and I don't know if people still call her that. But it kinda just happened on the cake bunting and so we'll just go with it.)


Chocolate & Almond Cake:
Slightly adapted from Julia Child's "Mastering the art of French cooking"

I doubled Julia's original recipe to make the layer cake above. But if you just want to make this to bring to a nice family dinner, halve the recipe back down. Although, it won't look quite as impressive that way...

200g dark chocolate
250g butter, softened
300g sugar
6 eggs
pinch salt
2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease two 20cm springform pans.
Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Don't let the water touch the bowl. When melted, take of the heat and set aside.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a large bowl.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until soft peaks form (about 1-2 mins). Sprinkle the sugar over and continue beating on high until stiff peaks are formed (another few minutes). Set aside.
Beat the butter, sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl, until pale.
Stir the melted sugar into the butter mixture. Stir in the almond meal and extract.
Quickly stir in a quarter of the egg whites.
Fold in a third of the remaining whites. When partially incorporated, add a third of the flour and continue folding.
Continue alternating between adding eggs and flour, until all ingredients are incorporated.
Divide the batter between the two pans.
Bake for 25 mins, until the edges are cooked, but the middle is not quite set. A skewer should come out clean around the edge, but be slightly oily in the middle.
Leave to cool for at least 2 hours before icing.

Chocolate ganache:
Slightly adapted from Julia Child

200g dark chocolate
100g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence

Place all ingredients in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Don't let the bowl touch the water.
Allow the mixture the melt before stirring until smooth.
Plunge the bowl into a larger bowl of ice cold water, and quickly whisk with a spoon until the mixture has cooled and thickened.
You have to work really fast with the icing, because once it has begun to set, it hardens very quickly and becomes difficult to work with.
Use a spoon/knife dipped in hot water to spread the icing onto the cakes, and sandwich them together. Continue dipping the spoon into hot water to smooth the icing.
Decorate with roasted almonds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cold oranges & yoghurt.


As much as I wish it was summer already, I am enjoying the late winter oranges. At the moment they're sweet and juicy and perfect for breakfast.
But before we go any further, I want you to know: This is not a recipe. It is merely a suggestion.

Oranges pair perfectly with thick, plain yoghurt. They make a complete breakfast sprinkled with a few oats, and enjoyed with a cup of tea in the sunshine.

This suggestion is a very loose interpretation of this recipe. I wish I was organised enough to actually make this recipe, but I'm not.
Plus, I'm lazy. That's a bad combination.

If you're a bit more organised, you could toast your oats until they're crisp, and drizzle with honey before sprinkling on the oranges. The combination of hot crisp oats, and cold sweet oranges is pretty good.


Oranges with yoghurt:
Serves 1

1 orange, a few spoonfuls of plain or Greek yoghurt, oats.
Peel and segment the orange (I really enjoy this part). Place in a bowl and spoon over the yoghurt. Sprinkle with oats, and drizzle with maple syrup, if you're feeling fancy-free. Don't forget the cinnamon! Eat greedily in the sunshine.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sea Salt & Rosemary Focaccia


I like bread a lot. In fact, I'd go so far as saying I was all about it.
I think I've only made bread once before, but this was different.
Making bread is much easier that I imagine it to be. Even though it's all kneading and rising, bread isn't hard. Probably because it's all kneading and rising. I'd love to make bread all the time, but I don't have the time to wait around for it to rise. How did they do it in the old days, when they had fresh bread in the morning? You'd have to get up three hours before you wanted breakfast. Three Hours! I couldn't do that. I like to have tea and toast as soon as I'm dressed. It's just how I roll.


This bread was a lazy weekend activity. I made the bread in the morning and we ate it for lunch, stuffed with grilled haloumi and fresh salad. In that respect, it kind of requires planning, because the bread has to rise for 3 hours in total. But this does mean that you can do whatever you want while you're waiting, because the bread doesn't need babysitting. You could visit your parents, go for a run, make a dress, clean your house, play with your cat. The possibilities are endless!


The toppings for this focaccia are also endless. This one had roasted garlic, fresh rosemary, pink sea salt, and olive oil. I think the garlic was unnecessary, and if I made this again, I wouldn't use it. Garlic olive oil might be better. I think chopped olives or chilli might be nice. I also think that the focaccia should be baked thinner than I made it. You don't even really need a square tin to bake the bread in, you could just spread the dough out onto a flat metal tray and make a really thin, rustic bread. Drizzled with oil and sprinkled with sea salt, this would be the perfect accompaniment to summer salad and enjoyed with friends at a barbecue.

Sea salt & rosemary focaccia:
Adapted slightly from Food On Paper

If you want to use roasted garlic as well, simply wrap three unpeeled garlic cloves in al-foil, and bake at 200C for 30 minutes. Chop and sprinkle onto the dough before baking.
Use the best sea salt flakes you can. I used Murray River pink salt flakes.

¼ teaspoon caster sugar
1 sachet of instant dry yeast (7g)
400ml warm water
500g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil, Fresh or dried rosemary & Sea salt flakes to top. 

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, yeast and 60ml of warm water. Cover and leave in a warm spot for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate (it should become foamy and almost rise up. If it doesn't, start again).
In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, yeast mix, and half the warm water. Stir with a spoon to combine.
Add more water as necessary, until a solid dough starts to form. You may not need all the water, so add a bit at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough for 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl (a glass or plastic bowl is good because you can see it rising). Cover with cling wrap and a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm, draught free place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, take off the cling wrap and the towel and punch the dough down with your fist to remove any air bubbles. 
Line a baking tray with baking paper (the smaller the tray, the higher the bread after its baked) and put the dough into the tray. Spread the dough out with your fingers, reaching to the corners of the tray.
Cover the tray again with cling wrap and the tea towel and leave in a warm place for another 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Take the wrappings off the dough and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes and rosemary.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and crisp to the touch.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil before serving. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Be right back...

Hello there! I haven't been around because I've got a lot of work to do, but I keep thinking about writing posts, because I miss my little blog, so I thought I'd stop by to say hello, and that I'm coming back with lots of recipes for foccaccia and jaffa cake. Soon! Very soon.

In the meantime, here's a (blurry) picture of me with my new glasses:


And here's a lovely song for you:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday I'm In Love: Dance dance dance.

Most of these songs have featured on apples & almonds at one point or another, but there's good reason for that. All these songs make me wanna bust a move in the lounge room, and sometimes even on the street. Most of these songs have been around for a while, but they're still good, if you ask me. It's an odd mix of songs, but put your dancing shoes on for Friday.

The Strokes: Last Nite.
I really like proper British songs where you can hear their cute accents. I often listen to this album on my way to work and this song always comes on just as I'm starting to walk through the park, and sometimes I have to stop myself from dancing in the middle of the park.

Kimbra: Cameo Lover.
I've talked about how much I like Kimbra before. But her new album just came out and it's really great. She's really pop-y and dance-y, and I have to admit that I really like pop music. There. I said it. I like pop music.

The Knife: Heatbeats.
This song reminds me of parties at my friend's house back in the day when we used to drink vodka cruisers. Those were some good times.

Foster The People: Call It What You Want.
I'm not normally into dance music, but this song is just really good.

 Florence And The Machine: Drumming Song.
I like to turn this song up really loud on my headphones and jump around. Those drums sure get me going!

The Cure: Close To Me.
I've always liked The Cure, but my love grew stronger when I lived with some other girls who loved them as much as I did. It reminds me of drinking tea on our front porch.

Michael Jackson: Billie Jean.
You can't go past Michael Jackson to get your feet tapping. Classic.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A good thing.


A good thing: Spending the afternoon with your best friend in the sunshine, drinking cider and looking at summer dresses.

Another good thing: Biscuits. Especially ones that you don't feel guilty about eating for breakfast.


These biscuits are good for breakfast. They're also good for afternoon tea, and any time of the day, really. They're full of healthy and delicious things: carrots, oats, dates, coconut, almond meal, maple syrup. That's it really.

I was really full after eating two these little cookies for breakfast (which went perfectly with a cup of Russian Caravan tea). They're just so satisfying and wholesome: a good start to the day. Especially on your day off.


Feel free to play around with the fruit/nut/flour elements. You can see different variations here and here (My recipe is based on the former). The carrot flavour isn't really noticeable, it just makes you feel healthy, which is always a good thing, y'know? But I think next time I'll make these, I'll use honey instead of maple syrup, just because maple syrup is SO expensive, and using a 1/4 cup in these makes me a bit giddy (I like to save my maple syrup for pancakes, rather than just making biscuits for myself at breakfast).

I also don't know what to call these. Calling them Carrot Biscuits doesn't really do them justice, and also doesn't make them sound very appetising. I might just leave them without a name. Nameless biscuits.

Adapted from 101 cookbooks

I halved the original recipe before adapting it. Feel free to double it back up if you're feeding lots of people. I also baked half the cookies, and then left the remaining uncooked mix in the fridge, then made fresh cookies the next day rather than making them all at once.

1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
pinch salt
1/2 cup oats
1/4 tsp each of cinnamon and ground ginger
1/2 cup grated carrot (about 1/2 a large carrot)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped dates (about 6 dates)

Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray.
IN a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Form into balls (I liked bigger biscuits better than little ones, much bigger than a tablespoon), and place on lined tray.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until brown on the bottom and top, but they'll still be quite soft.