Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes

I went to the gym today.

Partly because I lack restraint around food, partly because I have a gym membership till July next year, and mostly because all of my friends are doing it. So I came up with a brilliant plan to get up early on Monday and go to the gym..

I devour cupcakes

 ..Which didn't really eventuate. So I tried again today and managed to drag my sleepy self out of bed at 5:30am at the sound of Jason's encouraging words -"Come on, babe, you've been talking about this for days. You need to try it at least once!"

I also devour mint bubbly chocolate
And now I have "jelly legs" which makes it incredibly difficult to climb up (or down) stairs but boy, does it feel like I've accomplished something. All to eat these delicious peppermint cupcakes..

..They are very yummy though
So the plan for the next year (or until my membership runs out, at least) is to make time for the gym so I can continue to munch on goodies and not feel too guilty about it -if all those other working folk can do it, I can too!
To get the red stripes
In the mean time, you should try these beautiful, fluffy cupcakes. They are ridiculously moreish and the peppermintiness makes them perfect for the holidays!

Also, does anyone appreciate my attempt at food photography (refer to picture below)? Any tips for a wannabe hobby food photographer/stylist?

Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cups caster sugar
half a block of Cadbury's Mint Bubbly for the mixture, roughly chopped
6 squares of Cadbury's Mint Bubbly for topping, roughly chopped
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

Peppermint Icing
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoon margarine
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint essence 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
2. Place all your dry ingredients and the first batch of chocolate into a bowl and combine
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into a measuring jug and mix together
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and spoon into a lined cupcake pan. Fill these about half way up
5. Divide the second batch of chocolate among the cupcakes and sprinkle on top.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes.

7. Place margarine and cream cheese in a bowl and combine thoroughly
8. Add icing sugar and continue mixing
9. Add peppermint essence and vanilla paste
10. Continue to mix until a nice piping consistency. You may need to add some more icing sugar

1. To get the red stripes, paint the sides of your piping bag/gun with some vertical stripes (with red food colouring) before filling it up with icing.
2. I also used some crushed candy canes as a cute topping

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Edible Christmas Wreath

My family isn't really into Christmas. It's not a Chinese thing.

I, however, love it!

Green + Red = Christmas
Well.. I love any opportunity to stuff my face and open presents!

Step 7. Dot the filling evenly over the dough
Having spent last December in China, where Christmas means that the shops are open EVEN later and there are even MORE people on the streets, I was quite relieved that I would be spending Christmas at home and not trying to fight my way through crowds. 

8. Twist the two strands loosely together
Living in a relatively sparsely populated country has made me claustrophobic even in the smallest of crowds -even shopping at the mall near Christmas time makes me a little anxious!

9. Form into a ring
So this year, I'm going to eat, lay in the sun and, most importantly, spend Christmas with those I love (not with masses of strangers on the street).

Edible Wreath (From Alison and Simon Holst)

Ingredients for Dough:

3 teaspoon active dried yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
50g butter, softened
3 cups plain flour

Ingredients for Filling:

50g butter, softened
2 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
3/4 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup red glace cherries, chopped
1/4 cup green glace cherries, chopped

Ingredients for Egg Glaze:

1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Ingredients for Warm Icing (optional):

1 cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoon lemon juice

1. Measure the first 5 ingredients into a large bowl only using half of the flour. Mix thoroughly, then cover and leave for about 15 minutes.
2. Add the remaining flour and mix to form a soft dough, adding a little flour so that it's just firm enough to knead.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface a knead for about 10 minutes until the dough springs back with gently poked.
4. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and leave for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
5. Prepare the filling by mixing together the first 4 filling ingredients and adding the fruit and nuts afterwards.
6. Once the dough is ready, lightly knead and roll out into a 25 x 70cm rectangle.
7. Dot the filling evenly over the dough and then roll up tightly.
8. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise and then twist the two strands loosely together.
9. Form into a ring on a baking sheet and brush lightly with egg glaze (everything mixed together).
10. Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes or about lightly browned.
11. Drizzle with icing (mix everything together) while still warm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hot and Spicy Tofu Steaks

I cannot believe that I have been blogging for exactly a year now! 

It seems like only yesterday when Asia showed me the Stumbleupon toolbar which introduced me to the wonderful world of food blogging. I have to thank Grace and Kate (the lovely girls in my first ever posts) for helping me come up with the title "Lucyeats" when I got momentarily depressed that "food for thought" was taken.

Firm tofu steaks can be found in the fridge of your local Asian food store
And lastly, I want to thank Jason. The ever supportive boyfriend who doesn't mind being my guinea pig and is always willing to try a new restaurant with me (well.. I suppose it's a win-win situation there). He also reads and edits my posts when I'm feeling tired and bad-at-spelling..

Letting the sauce simmer down
Since I started food blogging, I've suddenly found a common ground with many others around me who were apparently all closet foodies and now I can't get them to shut up!

One of my recent conversations with a family friend of ours started because she noticed that all the food that I had made for a BBQ (Spinach Dip Loaf, Chopped Turkish Salad, Garlic Flat Bread, Potato Gratin) were all european and remarked that it was such a shame that all Chinese children these days (including her own) couldn't cook a Chinese dish to save their own skins and could only make simple things like cupcakes.

Needless to say, I was a little outraged. Can't cook Chinese food? Moi?!

So anyway, I managed to convince her that Chinese food was one of the easiest things to get right as long as you have the essential ingredients that form most dishes: soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger, sugar, and a little chili if you like spicy food. Anything can be made to taste good if you have these in your pantry -like these tofu steaks I cooked up for lunch the other day. Enjoy =) 

Hot and Spicy Tofu Steaks 


5-8 Tofu steaks (you can find these at your local Asian store. Make sure they're the firm kind)
2 Tablespoons cold water
1 Teaspoon Masterfoods Chilli
1 Tablespoon coriander, chopped
2 Cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Teaspoon brown sugar
Extra coriander for garnish
Oil for frying


1. Pour enough oil to just cover the bottom of your frying pan (a small one will do)
2. When the oil is hot, fry the garlic till fragrant and carefully place your tofu steaks in the pan. Be careful, as the oil may spit. Give each side about 30 seconds on each side.
3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the ingredients making sure the brown sugar dissolves completely in the water. 
4. Cover and simmer until the water evaporates and sauce becomes sticky.
5. Garnish with extra coriander before serving.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chopped Turkish Salad

I try very hard to eat healthy. I really do. But whatever steps are taken toward green leafy things are inevitably undone when winter rolls around and things like potatoes, cheese and casseroles take priority. Who wants to touch cold salad when nice warm things are around?

Tis a pomegranate!

Enter Summer.

My attempt at an artistic shot
Oh, how I love Summer! Aside from being able to wear dresses and go to the beach, the abundance of juicy Summer fruits makes it incredibly easy to eat nothing but. Among my favourites is the delicious, ruby red pomegranate

You eat the seeds
Native to Iran, the pomegranate is one of the only fruits where you eat the seeds and discard the flesh. Each individual seed is a burst of sweet and acidic flavour in your mouth and you can be assured that they're good for your body -high in Vitamin C, and potassium, a great source of fiber, and low in calories as well. It's no wonder they've been heralded as the new super food!

Add 1/4 cup olive oil
I had enjoyed these throughout my childhood, so it was quite funny when Jason's mother approached me with this "new and exotic fruit that could be found at the gourmet food store." I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had already discovered the pomegranate a few years ago..

The Turkish salad she used it in, however, was a complete revelation! The addition of pomegranate seeds provides bursts of sweetness and acidity to the refreshing cucumber and tomatoes. 

It also tastes great for lunch with some crusty bread
 And best of all, it's so easy that Jason doesn't mind making it!

Chopped Turkish Salad from Dish magazine


2 Large vine tomatoes
1 Cup diced cucumber
1 Cup diced fennel or celery
1/4 Chopped olives
2 Spring onions, finely chopped
Seeds from 1 fresh pomegranate (you can substitute this for 1/3 cup of dried cranberries)
A small handful of basil, finely chopped
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Clove garlic, crushed
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper


1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Potato Gratin

Look at this. 

It's a potato!

Now look at it close up.

More importantly, it's my potato!

Isn't it the most loveliest, most gorgeous potato you've ever seen?

If you're wondering why I've gone gaga over this particular potato, it's because it came from my garden. To be honest, I can't claim this harvest as my own because it was from a potato plant that the previous owners of my house had left but boy, am I going to get excited about it!

Remember to wash the dirt off. No one likes eating dirt.
The previous owners of our new place were a lovely old couple who were obviously very into gardening and had set us up with the perfect (although quite worn) arrangement of tiered planter boxes, garden planters and a good collection of potato, silverbeet and baby carrots ready to harvest. 

Layer: potato, salt, pepper, cream, garlic, butter. Repeat. Then  cheese. Mmmm.. Cheese..
Now that Jason and I have started work, we've decided to start our own garden of tomatoes, baby chili peppers, spinach and a variety of herbs -if they go well, maybe we'll add some more exciting things!

Golden brown with dark edges

In the meantime, the potatoes are going to good use in a really yummy Potato Gratin recipe (which is a fancy way of saying "Scalloped potatoes" or a less fancy way of saying "Potato Dauphinoise"). 
Giving your meal an extra "oomph"
Seeing as it's BBQ season here in New Zealand (although wouldn't know it with all the lingering rain), be sure you have this easy to make accompaniment to your steak  -it's an absolute classic, which can be dressed up with herbs or be completely basic depending on how you feel. Today, I chose to dress mine up with a sprinkle of fries sprinkle from Masterfoods which gave the dish a great kick!

Potato Gratin

1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 5mm will do)
4 Tablespoons butter
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup cream
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley for garnish
Masterfoods Fries Sprinkle (optional)

1. Slice the potatoes and soak in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes to remove some of the starchiness
2. Preheat the oven to 190 C
3. Butter the bottom and sides of your casserole dish -a lasagna dish works fine, too but make sure it's a big!
4. Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of sliced potatoes
5. Dot knobs of butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a few spoonfuls of cream and some garlic -don't worry, there are no wrong measurements here
6. Repeat these layers with the remainder of your ingredients and end with some butter on the top and a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan and salt and pepper
7. Place in the oven for an hour or until the potatoes have absorbed all the cream and the top is a golden brown with dark edges
8. Sprinkle about 3 teaspoons of fries sprinkle over the top for some extra flavour
9. Serve with the parsley garnish.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

South African Milk Tart

If you had read my last post, you would have known that I recently started a full time job at an engineering firm. 

Scratch that.

I started a full time CAREER.

I was, at first, very excited that I no longer had to spend time completing assignments and study for exams outside of normal lecture hours. Although I have now regained my weekends, I have discovered that a 9 to 5 job doesn't leave you with very much time in the day. Add that to the Saturdays I spend teaching piano, it's not very much time at all to sit down and relax.

Cornflour + sugar + egg yolks + milk
But now it's almost Christmas and with it comes work parties, presents and lots and lots of food! And a holiday.

I really need one.

Adding the margarine and vanilla essense
For some reason, my family has been elected to have all the "get togethers" for family and friends this year and, because of all our busy timetables, we have turned to easy (but very yummy) recipes that can easily be prepared ahead of time so we're not in such a rush on the day! Luckily, we've been blessed with friends who have such recipes in their arsenal and are willing to share.

The South African Milk Tart was introduced to us by my mother's former work colleague and is different to most others that I have come across as the filling does not need to be baked but cooked over the stove and refrigerated. The creamy filling tastes like the food of angels (honestly!) and is not overly sweet. It also differs to the traditional "Melktert" in that it imparts a subtle coconut flavour thanks to this secret ingredient:

The packet tells me that Tennis biscuits are South Africa's favourite and I can certainly see why. Light and crunchy with a splash of syrup and coconut, these are the perfect base for the tart. The no-nonsense square shape also makes a square/rectangular pan perfect for laying the base -unfortunately I don't own one, so I spend ages breaking off little bits to cover the bottom..

Go on. Try this recipe. 

Glynnis' South African Milk Tart

3 cups milk
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon of margarine
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 packet of Tennis biscuits (available in your international food aisle. I have also been told that Arnotts "Nice" biscuits work too)
5 heaped Tablespoons of cornflour
1 teaspoon of salt

1. Separate egg yolk and whites into two separate bowls
2. Mix cornflour, sugar and egg yolks together to form a paste. Add extra milk if needed (don't worry, this won't throw off any ratio)
3. Boil milk and add the above mixture. Whisk until a custard-like consistency
4. Turn heat to low and cook again for about 10 minutes
5. Take the mixture off the stove. Add margarine and vanilla essence and fold through the mixture
6. In your other bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the mixture
7. Cover the bottom of your tart dish with biscuits -don't worry about being neat and tidy
8. Pour mixture over the biscuits and spread evenly
9. Let it cool and cover with glad wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
10. Sprinkle cinnamon or grated chocolate over the top before serving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Garlicky Flat Bread, Veggies, and Hummus

Now that I have completed 17 years of education and am starting full time work in a few days, it has suddenly dawned on me that my friends and I are becoming adults -with full blown CAREERS!

I'm going to be honest. It's a little weird.

Garlicky Flatbread: All purpose flour, yeast, sugar, water, salt, butter, and garlic. Not pictured: parsley
I always knew that adulthood was inevitable and was even looking forward to being all grown up,  having my own house and HOSTING DINNER PARTIES. This is not one of those "where did my life go" posts because, honestly, I couldn't be happier with my life right now. 

Flatbreads ready to go into the oven

A few of my uni friends have already started their careers opting to forgo the 2 months of summer holidays. I start in 5 days and could not be more excited -about doing actual engineering, I mean. Not too thrilled about starting a 9-5 job though.

Brush on garlic butter as soon as flatbread comes out

To further stress the fact that we are growing up, Jason, his sister and I have been charged with house sitting for his parents which includes looking after the dogs and cooking our own meals which suits me just fine. 

Simple Hummus: Chickpeas, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne pepper

On the menu tonight, I decided, was going to be something spectacular. Jason's parents had kindly left steak in the freezer and what better than roasted vegetables and garlic bread as accompaniment?

Loveliest grilled veggie marinade: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic
And with flat bread, must come hummus. These recipes make for a ridiculously easy and delicious meal which is perfect for the upcoming summer. Enjoy =)

Garlicky Flat Bread (makes 10-12)

1Tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
50g butter, melted or 1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped parsely

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes until it gets frothy.
2. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour yeast. Slowly add 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix until elastic.
3. Place dough on a floured surface and knead for 15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
4. Roll the dough into a ball and place it into a bowl which is coated with olive oil. Cover and let sit for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
5. Preheat oven to 260°C and make sure your tray is also preheated and sitting at the bottom position of your oven.
6. Divide the dough into 10 - 12 pieces and leave for 10 minutes.
7. Roll out each ball into a circle that is about 12cm in diameter and 0.5cm thick.
8. Bake for 4 minutes until the rounds puff up and turn over and bake for another 2 minutes.
9. While they're baking, combine the garlic, melted butter and chopped parsley.
10. Brush garlic mixture onto flat bread immediately after removing from oven.

Easy Hummus

Simple Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained 
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon

1. Blend everything together in a food processor. 
2. Just jokes. There is no second step.

Yummy Veggie Marinade (great for eggplant)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix everything together.
2. Brush both sides of your veggie slices with this mix before placing on a preheated grill.
3. Go wild.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coca Cola Chicken Nibbles

The only thing better than cooking a yummy meal is cooking a yummy meal that doesn't take hours of preparation. Here's a yummy recipe that is delicious, and so incredibly easy that you will want to make these every night.

In our circle of family friends, my mother is somewhat famous for her marinated chicken and doesn't share it with anyone despite being asked dozens of times. Unfortunately, the recipe below is not her's as I have been sworn to secrecy but it's pretty damn good. Oh, and you only need 2 ingredients!

Pictured: 3/4 ingredients
 Well, 3 ingredients if you're counting the chicken nibbles themselves..
Oh, and 4 ingredients if you count the oil for frying..

After frying one side
..Ahh lets just say that the marinade requires only 3 ingredients.

Adding the coke. Your chicken should be cooked once the sauce becomes sticky
 Don't worry about the chicken tasting like coke as long as it just imparts a sweet flavour to offset the saltiness of the soy sauce. This is why it's so important that normal coke is used and not a diet version.

Or a bed of veggie noodles
This is by far the easiest thing to make and the ingredients are far more easily accessible than the dozens required in my mother's recipe. Coca Cola Chicken is perfect as a snack when you have people over or simply had with steamed rice.

Coca Cola Chicken Nibbles

500g to 1kg chicken (nibbles work best)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (light)
1/2 cup Coca Cola (Note: Don't use diet!)
Oil for shallow frying

1. Coat the chicken in the soy sauce and mix well. Leave to marinate for at least 15 minutes
2. Pour enough oil to just cover the bottom of your pan. Place your chicken in the pan once it has heated and fry for 5 minutes on each side. Watch out for splatters
3. Turn the heat down to medium, add coke and cover for another 5 minutes
4. The chicken should be ready once the sauce has gone sticky. To check, prick the chicken with a fork and the juice should run clear when cooked.
5. Enjoy