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One of my favourite things about working from home is the fact I can cook myself something for lunch. Even though back when I used to work in an office I would get very creative with my take-to-work salads, the ability to just fry up some haloumi, or throw down a noodle stir fry is very satisfying indeed.

The other really great thing about working from home is the amount of procrastibaking I can do. If I get an overwhelming desire to spend the morning making a cake and deal to deadlines at bedtime, then heck, I will. And oh, I do. 

Staying true to my love of all things seasonal, I have been buying up rhubarb by the bunch lately, and making this rhubarb and vanilla cake a lot. About 4 times in as many weeks lately, which is a lot of cakes. My friend's birthday and then my Mum's, and then as a thank you present, and one because I just damn well felt like it. 

Recipe inside!

Rhubarb and vanilla cake

This recipe is from The Caker's Seasonal Fruit Cake

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla paste

3 free range eggs

150g spelt flour

50g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup full fat unsweetened natural yoghurt

2 cups chopped rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan bake. Grease and line 2 x 22cm cake tins.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Note: this takes ages! I always give it a good 10-15 minutes to get it really pale and really fluffy. It's worth it! 

Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix them in gently, along with the yoghurt and the ground almonds. Be careful not to over mix.

Evenly divide the batter between the two tins and gently press in the rhubarb.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch.

Cool the cakes for around 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

For the cream cheese icing, beat cream cheese, honey and lime juice until smooth.

To decorate: 

Once the cakes are cool, you can either ice the cakes separately - I like to ice over the fruit side, or you can sandwich them together with jamor icing or both, and then ice the top and decorate. I love a good layer cake, but I also love the single layer cake as a nice small gift. 

 

As The Caker does, fresh flowers and freeze dried fruit powder always make a cake look pretty. See how you go! 

Store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 3:31 PM // Labels: cake, rhubarb, the caker
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Just as the NZ Winter set in a couple of months back, I made a bit of a jaunt over to Sydney. A visit to my sister and her husband who have moved to Coogee upon their return from London, and a bit of a long-weekend slightly-romantic getaway. On our last night there, big sis and I needed a night cap. We'd had a food and beer and footy filled weekend. The boys went to bed, and we sat under a duvet on the couch streaming Girls. It was funny because we probably hadn't done that since about 2002, when we'd sneak Mum's Bailey's Irish Cream and drink it on ice watching The Strip and Sex and the City. That was probably close to the last time we lived in the same city, but old habits die hard.  

Recipe inside!

the Rice Russian

This is great for those who can't have dairy! 

30mL vodka

30mL Kahlua, or another coffee flavoured liqueur like Tia Maria

Rice milk

1. Fill a short tumbler or rocks glass with plenty of ice [a note about ice: lots of ice will mean it dilutes slower, but keeps it cold which is very necessary for creamy cocktails. It's counterintuitive but it totally works.]

2. Add the vodka, some rice milk, and then pour over the kahlua. Top with more rice milk if necessary.

 

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 3:16 PM // Labels: friday drinks, kahlua, sydney
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In the immortal words of Scribe, congratulations, you've made it. It's Friday, and you deserve a drink. Welcome to a new regular feature on heartbreak pie, aptly called Friday Drinks. There was a time, when I was a young professional mid-twenty something, where I would very much look forward to getting home and pouring myself a beverage. I still do, even though my weeks are a lot more fluid these days, and it's not uncommon for me to work on the weekends, and ease up on myself during the week. Come Friday though, sometimes at the end of a long week, just one is enough to take the edge off, before curling up on the couch with takeaways watching the Graham Norton show. If that's the case, you might as well make it a beauty. 

Recipe inside!

the bitter botanist g+t

Remember folks, a gin and tonic is a cocktail, which means your BBG+T needs a 45mL pour of gin, instead of a standard drink's 30mL. 

Ingredients

3 large ice cubes

45mL The Botanist gin

150-200mL Quina Fina Bitter Lemon 

Method

1. Place ice in a stemless wine glass.

2. Add a thin slice of lemon, then the gin. 

3. Add bitter lemon to half way. Gently stir and serve.

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 5:14 PM // Labels: friday drinks, gin
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Last year my friend Josie was doing publicity for The Illusionists magic show. The show had a live band, and she ended up hanging out with them and showing them round Auckland. A couple of them loved food, and so she invited me along last year for a day trip to Waiheke, with these 5 musicians, who when they weren't playing on a magic show, played backup for rapper Nas at festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury.

We ate at the Oyster Inn, and on the ferry back I got chatting to Tom Terrell, a trumpet player, who told me for his final music recital for his music degree at UCLA, he got a community grant and cooked an 8 course meal, pairing a musical piece to each one. I'd recently quit my job to throw dinner parties so naturally we hit it off, and it was one of those conversations that stuck. We had to get in the kitchen together, so I said I'd come to LA. 

Recipe inside!

Kir Royale

1 part Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)

5 parts sparkling white wine (prosecco works well)

In a variety of mismatched glassware, pour a small amount of creme de cassis, and top with bubbles. 

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 12:59 PM // Labels: dinner party, cocktails
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Since ditching the comfort of a salary-paying office job, for a life of freelance writing and throwing events and cooking (I am for hire by the way) I have reached new levels of procrastination. I don't know what it is in my brain that means I can only do something I'm supposed to if there's an intense time pressure on me, but it is something I'm working on trying to change. 

Working from home I've gotten pretty good at procrasticleaning - a spotless kitchen before starting a story undoubtedly makes for a better piece of writing. Today though I hit a new low (or was it a high?) in procrastinating: I procrastinated baking with baking. 

I was supposed to have already prepared my recipe for tomorrow morning's TV appearance on Good Morning. It had been on my ever growing to-do list, but all of a sudden it was glaring at me from my diary. I've not been a guest cook on the show since they changed the format last year, but during 2011 in Wellington and then 2012 in Auckland, every few weeks I would take a morning off work to head to the studios and wreak havoc in the kitchen on live national TV. 

Recipe inside!

Cheese Scones

Recipe from Wellington's Ministry of Food, as seen here on the Cuisine website.

I halved the recipe, which made four perfect scones. Seriously, best scones I've ever made. 

2 cups flour (I used rye flour, which gave a very savoury flavour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper - optional (I used a generous pinch of smoked paprika)
2 cups grated tasty cheese (I used edam, with a little parmigianno regianno)
1 cup full-cream milk

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper into a bowl.

Mix in the grated cheese.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk.

Mix lightly then turn out on a floured bench.

Shape into a rectangle about 3cm high. Cut into 8 and transfer on to a baking tray.

Bake at 220°C for 15-20 minutes until deep golden.

Serve slathered in butter with a cup of tea!

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 10:07 PM // Labels: baking, scones, Good Morning
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I nearly called this post 'Life is a roller coaster' but knew I'd never forgive myself if I immortalised Ronan Keating like that. It's true though, life has been a roller coaster lately, an emotional one and a financial one. And so it was I found myself last Tuesday standing at my kitchen bench staring into space, procrastinating probably, and without the energy to vacuum, contemplating why I couldn't just invite Vodafone over for dinner instead of paying my overdue bill, and whether my landlord might accept cookies this week instead of rent.

These cookies, I'd been wanting to make them for a while. It was weeks ago now we were at my delightful friend Gwen's house for dinner, which was followed by drinking tea and eating cookies on the couch. Gwen is one of the most inspiring domestic goddesses I know. Her home is her to a tee: vintage pots and pans, and recycled fabric covering the chairs, and there's always a cup of tea or a gin and something homemade on offer. Even if all you want is a glass of water you'll be offered ice with the option of crushed or cubed. These were the cookies gracing her tins this time around, and they were like a really great chocolate chip cookie, but with a healthier taste and a lot more texture. I was instantly smitten and made notes as Gwen read out the recipe.

Recipe inside!

Dark chocolate and raisin oat cookies

Thanks to my dear friend Gwen for this recipe.

125g unsalted butter (I used coconut oil, which I weighed while it was solid, then melted)

75g soft brown sugar

2 tbsp honey

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla extract

150g flour (I used spelt flour because I have a cupboard full of weird flours. If using coconut oil, you might need to add a little more flour at the end to make a dough consistency)

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch sea salt

100g whittakers Dark Ghana, roughly chopped

50g oats

100g raisins (in the spirit of Nigella's banana bread, I heated my raisins in a little whisky, heyo!)

75g almonds, roughly chopped (Gwen said any nuts, but especially almonds and walnuts are good)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (the TradeAid stuff is spicy and delicious)

Method

1. Melt the butter (or coconut oil if you're using it) and honey together. Set aside to cool slightly. 

2. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 

3. Add the egg to the honey mixture and mix well. Add to the dry ingredients, along with all remaining ingredients, and mix together well to form a chunky dough. Sprinkle over a little more oats or flour if your mixture is too wet (I had to when using coconut oil).

4. On a lined baking tray, spoon out tablespoons of dough and press lightly. 

5. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until golden. 

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 10:32 PM // Labels: baking, Nigella Lawson, cookies
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So, it's only taken me over a month to get this here, no surprises there? I've been slack, and I know it. I've been getting harrassed by everyone about the lack of activity here, and believe me, I feel a bit bad, but I've also been busy getting new food writing jobs, like being the new fortnightly food columnist for the Herald on Sunday! 

Recipe inside!

4-hour lamb with anchovies, mustard and sage

Ingredients

1 lamb shoulder
10 anchovies in oil, drained and cut in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons mustard (I used dijon)
Large handful sage
cracked black pepper
zest of one lemon
Olive oil
1 cup stock (good quality beef stock is great)
1 cup white wine

Roll out the lamb and score it with a small sharp knife. Place in a roasting tray. Rub over a little olive oil, and the lemon zest and pepper. Rub in well.

Put anchovies, garlic, sage, mustard, and more pepper in a mortar and pestle. Mix well, adding olive oil slowly to help make a thick paste.

Rub all over the lamb and place in a 200C oven. After about 25 minutes, remove from the oven, and add 1 cup stock and 1 cup white wine. Cover with tinfoil and return to the oven, reducing the temperature to 150C.

Cook for about 3 hours, checking on it a couple of times in that time, and basting it with the liquid. Remove tinfoil for the last 20 minutes or so. Rest for 10 minutes before serving, the meat should fall apart in chunks.

Serve with gremolata (a mixture of olive oil, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest).

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 11:08 AM
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Personal taste is a funny thing. I have a friend who not only microwaves bacon, but was once eating those sickly sweet wafer biscuits, alongside a tub of marinated mussels, and dipped the biscuit in the mussel juice, declaring it a delicacy. Foul. Some people elect to mess up the near-perfect avocado on toast with all sorts of unnecessary things: with some foods I'm a purist, and with others I'm a total weirdo. One thing that polarises people, which I have always, ever since I was little, been a big fan of, is peanut butter and jam. 

Recipe inside!

smoothie: the pb & j

Serves one.

In a blender, place:

- one banana

- 4 tbsp frozen berries (boysenberries are great)

- 1 cup almond milk

- 1 large teaspoon peanut butter (make it a good quality one, like Pic's or Nutz)

- a sprinkle of oat bran (for fillingness and fibre)

- a small squeeze of runny honey

- a few flecks of coconut oil

Blend up well and enjoy! 

 

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 9:36 PM
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Heartbreak Pie turns four this week. Four years old. I know that I've really let myself go in the blogging department a bit, and that's a lot to do with turning food writing and cooking into a career, but it's also due to the fact that despite having once been a lawyer, and now a freelance writer, cook, nanny, and organiser of events, my time management can be abysmal.

But I still love and appreciate that this blog is where it all began. Well, this blog before it was beautifully redesigned. And I still love that you're all here reading. Hi! I have endless posts yet-to-be-written; photos I've taken, recipes I've created, trips I've been on, and 'HBP' is constantly on my never-ending to-do list. But tonight (now last night), in my cute little house in Auckland, while waiting for my sister to come over, with Great North's excellent new album playing, I threw together a salad for dinner, a very delicious salad with what I had in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and I thought: this is how it all began! Just throwing dinner together, taking a badly lit photo, and writing the recipe out amongst some carthartic rambling about my emotional state.

Recipe inside!

autumn salad with roast kumara, greens, bacon and walnuts

This was a throw-together salad, which is loose on quantities. 

Take a couple of kumara and cut into small chunks. Place on a baking tray, drizzle over a little olive oil, freshly cracked salt and pepper, some chilli flakes, some smoked paprika, and a sprinkle of coarse polenta, for texture. Roast at about 200C while you prepare the rest of the salad (about 40 minutes). 

Take a head of brocolli, and cut into florets, keeping some stalk on. Take some brussels sprouts, chop the ends off and discard any loose manky leaves. Quarter them longways.

Place the brocolli and the brussels sprouts on an oven tray and drizzle with oil. I've actually been experimenting with coconut oil lately, so I flecked some of that on these veges. A little salt and pepper and a few chilli flakes go here too. Chuck them in the oven, these take about 20 minutes. You might need to shift them to quite high up the oven and crank them on grill for the last 5 minutes to get them crisp. 

Take a few bits of free range streaky bacon. Or any bacon really. I opt for whatever is on special at Farro Fresh. The Harmony one I used was nice and smoky. Chop into 1-2cm chunks and carefully fry on medium-high heat to get a whole heap of crispy bits. I found using a wooden spoon and constantly scraping worked well. 

Dry roast some walnuts in a small frying pan without any oil.

When the kumara is done, put it in a large bowl. Add the green veges. Add two tablespoons of basil pesto (I just happened to have some in the fridge). I sprinkled over some black sesame seeds too, because I'm currently addicted to them. Then the walnuts, and the bacon, and mix together gently but well, and serve!   

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 11:45 PM
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Frantic is one word for my life lately. Chaos, fun, and an inability to keep on top of my email inbox are some others. This new career has seen a blurry line develop between work and life, and all of my time is occupied with writing and eating and cooking and planning events. Never knowing what opportunity will next pop up is extremely exciting, and I'm not missing working in a law office one bit. 

Recipe inside!

Cloudy Bay clams with chorizo and garlic

Serves two

For the clams:

1 medium chorizo, chopped into small cubes/chunks

½ a large fresh chilli, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Approx 1kg fresh Cloudy Bay clams, rinsed

2 tbsp Lewis Road Creamery butter

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup Brancott Estate special reserve sauvignon blanc (or another white wine)

4 tbsp flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Wedges of lemon to garnish

  1. Take a large frying pan (with a lid) and heat the oil on a medium heat.
  2. Add the chorizo, and gently fry until aromatic.
  3. Add the butter and the garlic, and mix together. 
  4. Keep on medium heat so the garlic doesn’t burn. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the clams and the wine and increase the heat. Put the lid on the pan.
  6. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the clams open.
  7. Serve the clams and some of the broth with the chorizo on the rice, and garnish liberally with the chopped parsley. These are also great with crusty bread on the side.

For the saffron rice:

½ cup brown basmati rice

1 cup boiling water

1 pinch saffron

½ a lemon

pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then turn heat down to very low and cook for 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is fluffy. 

// Posted by Heartbreak Pie at 11:27 AM
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