Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chocolate, Orange and Macadamia Meringue Cake

Chocolate, Orange and Macadamia Meringue Cake

Having girlfriends over for lunch from school and university days, is a great excuse to break out the chocolate.  What was said over lunch stays there, but here's what we ate for dessert.
I have been wanting try out this lovely cake since seeing it on the Australian Macadamia Nut Society's website and yesterday was just the excuse I needed.

This recipe called for 5 eggs whites, which was fine, as I used the yolks in the main course, which was quiche.  

I am also getting a lot of use out of this vintage egg beater.  I must be one of the few bloggers who does not own a Kitchenaid. I would love to change that, but it is unlikely.

When I need to beat eggs, I start with my stick blender, a kitchen appliance which I think is about the most useful of them all. As the eggs start to take shape, I whip them into glossy peaks with a manual workout, using the egg beater.  My grandmother used one and if I could be half as good a baker as her, well then I would be brilliant.

When you are cooking with egg whites, you have to expect the cake to dip a little in the middle as it cools and the air escapes, but this cake only did that slightly. 

The orange, chocolate and nut combo was sublime and my girlfriends said they loved it.  They both read my blog, so I mentioned something about having a reputation to maintain after raving on here, about how much I love to cook.  Apparently their expectations were high.  It was a simple lunch, because that's how I cook, but I think they enjoyed my fare.

I love macadamia nuts. Being an Australian native, they are a sustainable and delicious option. I have them in salads daily.  I often have a handful of nuts around 3pm when my blood sugars drop.  They are high in protein, so a small handful will get you through until dinner time.  Mix them up with a small amount of sultanas and you have a sweet treat to have with your 3pm cuppa.

Chocolate, Orange and Macadamia Meringue Cake
1/4 cup plain flour
1 cup raw macadamia nuts
1 x 200g block milk cooking chocolate
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Plus a little more orange zest to garnish
Icing sugar and macadamia nuts to garnish
Cream, ice cream or yoghurt to serve

Preheat the oven to 170C
Line the base and lightly spray a spring form tin with olive oil.

Place flour, macadamia nuts and chocolate in a food processor and pulse to develop a course crumb.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  
Spoon  the sugar into the egg whites in batches and beat again after each sugar addition.
Gently fold chocolate and nut mixture and the zest through the eggs.
Spoon the cake batter into the spring form tin.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before releasing and decanting onto a wire rack.

Use a knife to loosen the sides of the tin if required.

Dust with icing sugar and extra orange zest.

Serve with sweetened yoghurt, ice cream or cream

Adapted from an Australian Macadamia Nut Society recipe

This cake is completely delicious and not at all difficult.  It is incredibly moist too.

I've got loads of other easy and delicious baking and dessert recipes here, if you need some inspiration.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Garage Sale Wrap Up and A Husband of the Year Award

I know some of you will be interested to learn how the garage sale went, so here goes.

Firstly,  I am completely exhausted and my body aches in nooks I never knew I had.  But it is a good tired.

My week was filled with getting ready for the sale.

I have a thing about ornate frames and painting them gold, silver and white.  I spent a lovely sunny afternoon foofing in the back yard last week, bringing these pieces that people had thrown out, back from the brink.

I was very happy with the way this mirror turned out, considering the state in which I found her.  The plaster was chipped, the back was loose, so the mirror was falling out.  She didn't sell, but I am fine with that, as she is now happily hanging in our bedroom.  I really enjoy repurposing these things, as they come up so well from where they started out.

The chipped plaster is now unnoticeable,

and here she is now.  I kind of like the industrial nature of the chain, juxtaposed against the feminine frame.

These dresses didn't sell either, but after the weight I've lost, they fit me, so you may see them out and about in the near future.  I am wearing the champagne dress to a vintage clothing party this Friday night.  She is a stretchy crimpoline, so she covers my curves.  She is in great shape considering her age, the dress I mean.

The big news surrounding the garage sale, is that Mr Beach House gets 'Husband of the Year" award.  He arrived home on Friday night in the dark.  My vintage was spread out all over the lawn.  I told him it would be impossible to get it into and onto 2 cars.  He said, "Just watch me."  He then started singing the Beverly Hill Billy's song and trust me, after he had tied it all on, the cars looked just like that.  When he finished, he said he was ready for more stuff.  But seriously, I doubt one more stick of anything would have fitted, without the tyres falling off the cars. 

Then up Saturday morning, at 5.30am and off to market.

 Of course in the rush, I forgot to take a shot of the cars.  We did however, get some strange looks on the road.

  Mr Beach House helped me transport my stock, unload it and bring home what didn't sell.  He put his own needs on hold to help me realise mine and I really appreciate him for that.  It's so nice to be on the receiving end of his kindness.  His friends know he'd give them the shirt off his back, if they asked and that day I felt very grateful for his efforts and help.

When we got all the stuff unloaded, I set up the ladders as shelving to display some of the kitchenalia.  I began to wish I had brought some flowers or greenery, to make it more pretty, but these events are such a learning curve and I will get better with each one I do.

Wishing I had centred that suitcase better.  Or perhaps someone moved it.
Both times I have done this, I always get lots of comments about 'the beautiful stuff' I have, which is great, but of course, people want to pay nothing for it.  There are lots of tyre kickers and often on the same items.  There were lots of queries about the galvanised tubs and the ladders.  They are still much cheaper than retail vintage stores, but people still turn their noses up when you tell them the price. 

My prices were higher this time than last, so I sold less, but I did end up making more money.  Last time I practically sold out, which does mean a much easier trip home.  I am yet to determine which theory is the best.  Sell everything at rock bottom prices and not have to re pack the car, or sell less, but at higher prices and have to reload the car again.

The other interesting thing, is that the left over stuff that didn't sell last time, sold easily this time.  So the shoppers are different in different locations and just because people don't want it this time, doesn't mean they won't next  time.

One thing is absolutely certain, I am often at my happiest surrounded by vintage, socialising with people, kids running a muck in the background and making a little bit of money on the side, selling off my junk.  It's a shedload of work, literally, but a thoroughly enjoyable experience hanging out with people who see the beauty, style and the potential in this stuff.

Have a great week Beach Dwellers.

I am sending out my newsletter tonight.  If you'd like to receive Desire Empire updates in your inbox you can sign up here.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Healthy Wholemeal Banana and Cinnamon Pancakes

Healthy Wholemeal Banana and Cinnamon Pancakes

My family love French crepes, but they rarely get a run at the Beach House, because they are definitely only sometimes food.  I am not advocating you eat these ones every day either, but as part of a well balanced and healthy diet, they are fine for a Sunday family breakfast.  They are certainly a healthier option than their French cousins.

And so it was last Sunday, that I felt motivated to whip up these yummy pancakes for breakfast.  You can see it is breakfast time, because the light was a little harsh for food photography.

My sweet little hand model helped cook the pancakes and I wouldn't be lying, if I said it would be a great pleasure to me, if she was to make a career out of food.  I wish I had, so I am giving her every opportunity to develop a meaningful and creative relationship with food, at my apron strings.

There was a squeal of delight as the biggest Beach House Brat walked out onto the deck for breakfast that morning too.  He gobbled them up and disappeared back to the media room.  Personally, I wish X box never graced the face of the earth, but it is our reality and we have to deal with it.  At least we are eating well.

Wholemeal Banana and Cinnamon Pancakes
Makes about 12 pancakes

1.5 cups wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bi carb of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1.5 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
3 bananas 
oil spray for frying
maple syrup and yoghurt to serve

Combine flour, bicarb of soda and cinnamon in a bowl.
Mash 2 bananas and reserve one to slice as a garnish.
Separate eggs whites and yolks into bowls.
Whisk skim milk, vanilla and maple syrup into the yolks.
Fold egg yolk mixture and mashed bananas into the flour.  Use a whisk to remove any lumps.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold into the pancake batter.
Spray a small (23cm) non stick pan with oil and place over a moderate heat.  Ladle (3/4 full) the mixture into the pan.
Swirl around the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until small bubbles form.
Gently loosen the pancake and flip.
Stack the pancakes on a serving plate.
Garnish with sliced banana, drizzle with pure maple syrup and serve with yoghurt.

These pancakes were even delicious straight out of the fridge as left overs, with a cup of tea on a hot day.

For all my other sweet and easy treats and baking ideas you can find them here.

Also, I'm on the Garage Sale Trail this Weekend. Follow me on Twitter @desireempire or instagram to catch all the action on the day.

If you are on the Northern Beaches, pop in and say hi at stall 49.  I'm up the back.  I hope to see you there.

You can have a look here at some of the vintage I am selling.

The Garage Sale Trail
Saturday 26 October
Maria Regina Primary School
42 Central Road
From 7am-1pm

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Come Vintage Garage Sailing with Me this Weekend

This weekend I will have a stall on the Garage Sale Trail. Come on in and check out some of the things I will have there.  Looking at it all, I am wondering how I will get it down to the sale.

Most things are in original condition, so you will need to use your imagination.  With a little loving and a bit of a style makeover, some of these pieces would add wow factor to any room.

Take this cane chair.  Painted white, with a lovely blue and white square cushion, it would be beautiful as a desk, foyer, or bedroom chair

This cane table needs a glass top but she will be going cheap.

I have seen these swivel cane chairs in the home section of several magazines lately.  Painted black with a sheep skin rug and a stunning throw cushion, they are hot right now.

I have hung on to the this pretzel cane lounge in the hope of finding a spot for her at The Beach House, but alas, I have only got an uncovered outdoor area and I fear she will be ruined in the weather.

I was going to make a coffee table out of the Malibu, but I then found the lovely coffee table I have now, so am letting this one go.  The Egan surfboard is up for grabs too.

I have 2 of these galvanized wash tubs.  The bucket will be there too.  Imagine her full of roses or lavender.

The galvanized wash tubs could be hung in a vintage look laundry, or drill a few holes in the bottom and plant out with succulents.

Shutters are handy and I have seen them used for anything  from bed heads, plant stands to wall hangings.  They are great as a study organiser to hang notes, cards and keepsakes with pegs.

Paint this baby white and stack it with the other suitcase I have going and you have an instant coffee table with storage.

In addition to this magazine rack, I have a cute cane one on sale as well.

This esky has seen better days, but she is original and looks very efficient and intact on the inside.

Remember these?  I loved them.

A coal scuttle, a milk can and a removable tray with stand.

Old boxes and a lantern and please excuse the empty bottle of wine on the kitchen bench, but I will need a drink after this weekend I think.

In addition I have lamp stands, pictures, books, work horses, a towel stand,  telephones, a vintage tennis racquet, a deck chair and so much more.

My girlfriend Lisa, will be selling her range of vintage clothing on the same stall.  So be prepared for a trip back in time.

Pop in and say hi at stall 49.  I'm up the back.  I hope to see you there this weekend. 

Saturday 26 October
Maria Regina Primary School
42 Central Road
From 7am

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Sydney Opera House Memories

I have a few.  As the old girl is celebrating the 40th anniversary of her opening today, I thought I'd share a few memories of experiences I've had in the building, with you.

I was there 40 years ago today, when the Queen officially opened the Sydney Opera House.  I was a small child and it was my first experience with the 'ethnic community', as it was called back in those days.  They invited some kids on stage to dance their special dances with them, me included and it was brilliant.  That day I decided I wanted to be an actress, because I loved it so much.  Apart from the odd appearance in school productions thereafter, that career move never got a run, but I still remember the Opera House opening as a wonderfully inspiring and happy day.

Roll forward many years and I attended a university party on the northern side of the building in front of the big painting, which is usually covered by a curtain.  I was sitting at the top of these stairs flirting with a boy and someone grabbed my stiletto clad ankles and pulled me down the stairs on my back.  I'd had a few drinks, but I vaguely remember it was a boy who had the hots for me.  Officially we were just good friends.  I got up laughing, as it was very funny.  But much to my horror, there was a trail of sequins, which had detached from my top, running down the length of the stairs.

Another time I was part of a mass sacking from the Opera House.  In between northern and southern hemisphere ski seasons, I used to do agency waitressing in Sydney.  One night, I got a job on a cocktail party at the Opera House.  They were supposed to feed us, but hadn't, so we all helped ourselves to the left over hor d'eurves as they came back into the kitchen to be binned.  The snooty maitre d' got the pip and all the agency staff were pulled off the job. 

I was sent to another catering job across town, which was a board room dinner, thrown together at short notice.  In contrast to the Opera House job, the gorgeous guy in charge over catered, and I remember he loaded me up with cartons of Chinese take away food to take home to my parents after the event.

These days my interactions with the Sydney Opera house are somewhat more bourgeois.  I was down there last week with my mum to catch South Pacific, which was a fabulous production.  Although a little corney, it  must have been considered quite racy in the 1950's on Broadway, with it's bare chested love scenes.  Unfortunately, the racism themes never date. Lisa McCune was very impressive and Teddy Tahu Rose, a complete and utter spunk.

So there you have it.  A few memories from how this building has been part of my history.  Not a big part, but a much appreciated constant in this Sydneysiders life.

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Do you have any shareable memories of the Sydney Opera House?
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Blue and White Ginger Jars and some Coastal Shelves

I have wanted to add a bit more of a blue and white feel to my living room for some time now.  With a birthday quietly coming and going last month, I saw an opportunity to receive something I have coveted for some time.  A large blue and white ginger jar. 

My lovely mum gave me this piece of gorgeousness and I set to work styling it in amongst other coastal pieces I had.

Ginger jars and coral seem to have a lovely synergy. 

I would love to create more of a Ralph Lauren inspired feel to my living room, but of course it will be on a tight budget.  I intend on getting my wing backed chair recovered soon to assist in that goal.  I am thinking blue with white piping or perhaps something geometric.

I found this vase and hydrangeas at a jumble sale for a few dollars, some time ago and they look very pretty contrasted against the coastal painting by Noeline Miller.

The vintage surfboard I still love, so it stays whether it is Ralphesque or not.

I love the look I have achieved here and look forward to building on it in time.  I love mini make overs that freshen a corner of my home.  I guess that is one reason to celebrate a birthday, even if they seem to fly by way too regularly.

Have a lovely weekend Beach Dwellers.

I am sending out the Desire Empire Newsletter tonight.  It's full of easy and delicious recipes which may be useful to you over Summer, tips on what to do in Sydney and some beautiful coastal homes as well.  You can sign up here to stay in touch with living beautifully, by the beaches on a budget.

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