Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fabulous chocolate celebration cake for Peter

One of our colleagues, Peter, finished up on Friday.  He has been an admirer of my baked goods, so I couldn't let the occasion go by without a cake in his honour.

Knowing that chocolate is generally a favourite, I decided to make a chocolate cake, and I couldn't go past the Fabulous Chocolate Celebration Cake recipe by Barbara Broccoli at p231 of Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity.  Barbara is the producer of several James Bond films.

This cake is not half-hearted in its chocolatiness, as it contains around 400g of chocolate (including the ganache).  However, if chocolate punch is what you want, that is what you will get with this cake.  Behold the undressed cake:

Inside, this is what you get from this double-decker creation:

To make it, you will need:


200g dark chocolate
6 tablespoons milk
175g softened butter
175g sugar
4 large beaten eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100g ground almonds


275ml thickened cream
200g chopped dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line 2 cake tins, each 20cm in diameter.

Break the chocolate for the cake into pieces, place into a heatproof bowl with the milk and melt over simmering hot water, stirring from time to time.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and light.  Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and almond meal and combine either on low speed in the mixer or using a rubber spatula.  Add the melted chocolate and combine well.  Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins, smooth off the tops, and bake in the preheated oven for ~30 minutes or until cooked through.  Unmould the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan on the stovetop until it is just boiling, then remove from the heat.  Stir in the chopped chocolate until smooth.  Place the ganache into the fridge to firm up for an hour or so until it thickens up and is spreadable.

To assemble the cake, place the bottom cake onto a cake board or serving plate.  Spread one third of the ganache over the top of the cake.  Place the second cake on top of the first, and spread the entire top and sides of the cakes with ganache. Decorate as desired.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday food, Diksteins, a mobile phone and Dr Martin Clegg

Dr Martin Clegg (Source: Ten's Offspring website)
Who would have thought that the eccentric Dr Martin Clegg from Offspring would save my mobile phone?  Well, in a curious way, he did.  Let me explain ...
Friday was a great day food-wise.  I had lunch at the Cajun Kitchen in Elizabeth Street, where I had wanted to go for ages:

I tried the pulled pork po' boy ($10.50):

This was huge - bread roll, filled to the brim with spicy pulled pork, with lettuce, pickle, tomato, onion, coleslaw and mayo.  The bread roll was not as good as it might be (the ones at Roll'd are better), but I could not fault the filling.  The only thing is that as a personal preference, I would have liked less mayo, as it left a greasy taste and texture in my mouth all afternoon.  The staff were friendly, and service was reasonably fast - but it seemed to be faster if you had take-out rather than eating in.

After work, I caught up with Tim for drinks at our fave, Zuffas, in Little Collins Street - only to find out it was last drinks at Zuffas forever.  Their lease is expiring, so we will have to find ourselves a new watering hole.  We liked Zuffas because it was reasonably quiet and we could always get in. 

We then went on to Diksteins in Little Collins Street for their excellent $10 pizzas.  We had the pork and pear:

and pumpkin, spinach and gorgonzola:


Both pizzas were delish, but the pumpkin one with its sweet roasted pumpkin, crunchy almonds and sharp gorgonzola was my favourite.

In taking these photos, my problems began - although I didn't know it at the time.  You see, when putting my phone camera away (or so I thought), I must have missed my handbag and the phone fell to the floor under the table.  Blissfully unaware of that fact, Tim and I trundled off to Lindt in Collins Street for a coffee and a macaron.  I was regaling Tim with details of this week's episode of Offspring, and couldn't resist reciting a pearl of wisdom from Dr Martin Clegg, on Dr Patrick expressing surprise that he also had a law degree:

"Everybody's got a law degree these days; they're like iPods."

This tickled my fancy because I am a lawyer - or perhaps  I just have an odd sense of humour.  So what has this got to do with my phone?  After reciting this quote from Clegg, I wanted to find a Youtube clip of his voice for Tim, because actor Lachy Hulme (Clegg's alter ego) gives Martin Clegg the most peculiar accent for comedic effect.  That was when I realised - my mobile phone was not in my handbag!!!! 

Luckily, I knew exactly where I had the phone last, so I sculled my coffee (it wasn't hot so that was easy), and Tim and I flew back to Diksteins, with me not being very hopeful that my phone would still be there.  However, it was my lucky day, and my phone was on the floor against a wall under the table where we had sat, and the same ladies who took our table when we left were still there.  You could not wipe the smile off my dial when I found that  my phone was still there. Phew!

Sooo ... I only realised I had lost my phone so quickly because of Dr Martin Clegg.  I will therefore be eternally grateful to the fictitious Dr Clegg.

Have a great weekend.
Cajun Kitchen
136 Elizabeth St
Melbourne VIC  3000
Diksteins Corner Bar
Cnr Bank Place and Little Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000

Thursday, June 27, 2013

FFWD - Socca from Vieux Nice

This week's French Friday with Dorie challenge was educational - the dish is Socca from Vieux Nice.  I have never heard of Socca before, but for those like me who have never heard of it before, it is a chickpea flour pancake.  The other educational aspects of making this dish is (a) finding out where to buy chickpea flour; and  (b) finding out that in Australia, chickpea flour is sold as besan flour.  Whew!  All that learning in one simple dish.

I really didn't know what I'd think about this dish.  It is very simple - flour, water, oil, rosemary.  However, I was pleasantly surprised - it was really tasty eaten on its own while still warm.  I only made a half recipe, which turned out the perfect thickness in my pan, but unfortunately made it a little delicate, but made it hard to get out of the pan in one piece, hence the mangled appearance.

I'd make this again - which is lucky, as I have a whole bag of very pricey chickpea flour.

To see what the other Dorie cooks thought, visit the LYL section of the website.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Daring Bakers - Crack Pie for The Life of Pi Challenge

Have you ever got caught up in the hype of something and been desperate to try it because everyone else in the whole world except you seems to have tried it and deemed it good?  At the moment, the "in" thing is cronuts - every other day there is an article in the newspaper or a TV story about cronuts.  Apparently, there is even a black market for cronuts.  If I decide that I really have to try a cronut, I will skip the black market and make my own.

A couple of years back, Momofuku Milk Bar's crack pie was the cronut of today - everybody had to have it.  Bon Appetit says about Crack Pie, "Anyone who has taken a bite of this Milk Bar best seller immediately knows the reason for the sassy name. Once you start eating this rich, salty-sweet pie with its oat cookie crust, you won't be able to stop."  I have read about crack pie on plenty of blogs, but as New York is a long way away, and a single pie costs $44, I won't be having the real thing anytime soon. However, never fear ...

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

One of the recipe options that Rachael gave to us is the Bon Appetit recipe for crack pie.  This gave me the opportunity after all this time to finally find out about crack pie for myself.  Looks good, doesn't it:

It's hard to explain what crack pie is like, but unchilled, it really is like pecan pie without the pecans (as someone else suggested), and chilled, it is like caramel fudge pie.  The pie has an oat cookie crust that melds into a brown sugar toffee-like substance when the pie is filled and baked, and the filling really does taste like caramel fudge.

I almost didn't make this because milk powder here costs a squillion and the smallest bag you can buy is 1kg (what ever happened to small cans of Sunshine Milk Powder?) when all I needed was a tablespoon to make the pie, but I relented on the basis that as the cost of a crack pie is $44 from Momofuku, I am still ahead.

And the verdict?  I liked this pie - in fact I liked it better warm than chilled (which  is how it is meant to be served).  However, I haven't developed an addiction to it - I prefer good old fashioned caramel tart.

To see what the other Daring Bakers made this month, you can take a look at the slide show on the Daring Bakers website on the 27th, US East Coast time. 

How To Get Exposure Through Press Release

In conventional print media press releases are simply news articles released for the primary purpose of informing readers about particular news worthy developments. The news focus can be a company launch, expansion thrust or the opening of a new branch, etc. In the cyber business landscape press releases take a totally different and powerful function and purpose. Press releases are powerful marketing tools for businesses that need an authoritative online presence. The guidelines outlined in this piece will empower you to know how to get exposure through press release writing and submitting. 

Why you should submit press releases 
  • Press releases are cost-effective. 
  • Press release spread far and wide through news wires giving your website maximum exposure.
  • Press releases achieve the double impact of communicating important developments about your company while also generating valuable back links to improve the visibility and ranking for your website.
Press releases are normally the best place for start-up businesses with limited marketing and advertising budgets to begin their online presence drives and campaigns. Principles of how to get exposure through press releases involve knowing what format a professionally written press relapses takes. A press release must be factual yet interesting. The write-up must be expertly weaved so as to generate interest and compel readers to click provided links and come to your website. Once a press release is written it can be submitted to various news wire websites and PR websites. Certain submission services require a fee while some are free to use and still give maximum exposure for submitted press releases.

What Can Press Release do for the visibility of your website? 

Plying the volatile and ever growing cyber landscape as an entrepreneur is all about the visibility for your website. So how do press releases enhance the visibility of your website? The cyber business terrain is a steep business play field. Unlike the conventional business world; the cyber sphere pits your competitors just a click away. This means that your target market online is made of people that have so many options they can shift to in a single click. Press releases go viral around the web especially on news sites, blogs and news wire websites. The links strategically embedded in your release are great for your link building drive. Search engines consider these links when they return pages with relevant content against user search queries. Research has proved that in online marketing thrusts press releases are some of the most effective ways of generating the coveted organic traffic. 

Press Releases and Organic traffic 

Setting up a powerful website that does not get any visitors is meaningless. Getting visitors who are not interested in what you are offering is not fruitful either. Without attracting relevant target traffic to your website your web pages will record a high bounce rate. Bounce Rate denotes the amount of time visitors spend on your site. A high bounce rate means visitors come to website and leave as soon as they arrive. This basically means that visitors coming to your website are not interested in the products and services you are offering. With the visibility that press releases can achieve for your website search engines will begin to recognize your website as an authority site and they will channel relevant organic traffic to your website. Target traffic means your web pages are getting relevant users (mostly from search engines) looking for what you are offering. This kind of traffic leads to high conversion and profitability. 

Principles on How to Get Exposure through Press Release
  • Establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
  • Identify news wires with the widest and cost-effective coverage.
  • Generate keen interest.
The write-up of your press release must be such that it establishes your website as an authoritative source of information or solutions in the subjects or market needs related to your niche. Once the readers get a sense of your clout they will be compelled to turn to your website for the services and products they need. As you search for the best press release websites ensure that you choose websites with the widest and broad coverage. This will give your press release and your website maximum exposure at very cost-effective rates. Expert online marketing experts are capable of identifying such press release publishing platforms. Most importantly the experts can weave keen interest generating releases that will compel readers to flock to your website.

Author Bio :
Jason Smith has been in the internet marketing industry for more than 6 years. He is an expert on SEO & PPC tactics and in his free times likes to research on water therapy and exercise

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WWDH - Apple and Dark Chocolate Wontons

For this week's Wednesday with Donna Hay, Chaya has chosen Apple and Dark Chocolate Wontons from Donna's website.

These little packages are pretty straight forward - sandwich a pice of apple and a piece of chocolate between two wonton wrappers, brush with melted butter and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Celsius:

Dust the finished product with icing sugar to serve.

These wontons tasted nice - crispy on the outside, soft and gooey chocolate contrasting with the tartness of the apple on the inside.  It was my first time working with wonton wrappers.  I have heaps of them left over, so I hope to make some pot stickers with the remainder.

To see what Chaya, Kayte and Margaret thought of these wontons, visit their websites,

Monday, June 24, 2013

Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid

If you run a business and have a website, chance are good you’ve been introduced to three powerful but often misunderstood letters: SEO.  It’s no longer good enough to simply have a web presence, now that web presence must be easy to locate through a search engine.  With only 6% of Google searches making it past the first page- and about 1/3 not making it past the first result- poor SEO could have a tremendous negative effect on your business.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid in your efforts to raise your ranking:

Keeping it too simple with keywords: Do your research!  Don’t assume you know the best keywords to use, or how to use them.  You could end up missing opportunities to integrate search friendly terms into your website.  Think synonyms and words with similar meanings that could be substitutes for each other in a search term. Picture and photo, for example, or optometrist and eye doctor.  You should also try to get inside the mind of potential clients that are searching for your product or service- what terms would you use if you were a potential customer of your own business?  People often search in questions, like “What’s the best restaurant in NYC?”, so you might consider incorporating relevant questions into the text of your website as well.

If you’re purchasing keywords from Google, make sure you fully understand the system so you don’t waste your money.  Broader is not better.  Choose some strategic but specific key phrases that will target your ideal audience. 

SEO First, user experience second: Search engines, especially Google, design their algorithms to find the best sites and content for their users.  That means a frequently updated website with rich content that’s well organized with page titles and descriptions will have a natural advantage on the results page.  The primary purpose of your website and the text it contains is to serve your customers, not your search ranking.  Always keep keywords in mind, but don’t stuff your page with search friendly terms at the expense of quality, informative content- search engines will punish you for it in the long run.

Search term blinders:  Look beyond search terms and keywords.  Both inbound links and social media exposure (or lack thereof) can affect your search standing.  Retweets, likes, and shares are all indications of quality and reputability within a search engine’s algorithm, as are links to your site from other respected websites.  With links especially go for quality and not quantity, though.  Links from less reputable sites- or worse, those known for spam- will count against you. 

Getting complacent:  You’ve researched your search terms, added content accordingly, and you have an impressive web presence that extends to social media and other websites.  That’s a great milestone to reach, but it doesn’t mean your SEO obligations have been satisfied.  Search engines and their algorithms are constantly changing, as is the web content you’re competing with in the search rankings.  To stay at the top of the results page, you’ll need to keep reinforcing your web presence with fresh content, and you’ll want to periodically re-evaluate your keywords and search terms as well.

SEO is a complicated- but high stakes- cat and mouse game.  The top search engines don’t make their algorithms public so you’re never completely sure how to get your site treated well in the results, and constant tweaks and updates to those algorithms mean a good ranking today may not carry over to tomorrow.  The good news is that the basic set of SEO best practices are fairly stable, so you’ll never go wrong by avoiding the above mistakes.  Quality content and well researched keywords will always strongly correlate to high search rankings. 

Bio: Eric Thomas is author and Brand Manager for Brandme. He enjoys writing about marketing and business topics. 

Beechworth Bakery, Echuca

Over the weekend just past, Tim and I went to Echuca-Moama.  Echuca is on the Victoria side of the border, and Moama is on the New South Wales side of the border.  Both towns are set on the banks of the Murray River. Echuca means "meeting of the waters", and you may know it from the eighties TV mini-series All the Rivers Run.  The weekend weather was crisp and cold in the mornings and evenings, giving rise to beautiful clear, warm days.

 While in Echuca, we stopped by the Beechworth Bakery, one of a famous chain of bakeries.  Out the front, they have a lovely old-fashioned bread truck:

Inside, there is a lengthy lunchtime queue, but thankfully, it moves rapidly.  It wasn't a hassle to queue, as it gave me time to admire the baked goods on show in the generous glass display cases at the bakery: 

Of particular note were these lovely riverboat shaped biscuits, perfect for the region:

For lunch, I ordered a Bushranger Foccacia ($8.20), with roast beef, sundried tomatoes and roast pumpkin, topped with fresh spinach, Spanish onion, chutney & tasty cheese:

This foccacia is served toasted and is outrageously good, with two of my favourite things - chutney and pumpkin.

For dessert, I ordered an old-fashioned favourite, the vanilla slice ($3.20): 

The custard in this slice was perfectly light, fresh and tasty, but I would have liked the pastry to be slightly flakier. 

Tim ordered a beef curry pie ($4.95):

and for dessert, a slice of orange and almond cake ($3.95):

He approved wholeheartedly of both.

I also bought the Secrets of the Beechworth Bakery cookbook ($24.95) so I could take a slice of the bakery home with me.  Watch this space as I try out some of their recipes. I like the philosophy of Tom O'Toole, founder of the Beechworth Bakery - keep it simple, and keep it fresh.  He also has no problems with sharing his recipes in the book, because as he says, he has pinched ideas from all over the place over the years, and he believes that ideas are to be shared.  Isn't that so true with recipes - all of them are derivative of what someone else has done before in some way.

If you are near a Beechworth Bakery in your travels and love old-fashioned, "from scratch" baked goods, do drop in - it's definitely worth the visit.

Beechworth Bakery
513 High St
Echuca VIC 3564
Ph: 1300 233 784

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Ruffled Piped Buttercream

My colleague, Linda, asked me to make 36 cupcakes for her grand daughter's birthday party.  The party is princess themed, and Linda wanted the icing to be ruffled just like this, with 12 cupcakes each in light pink, light blue and light yellow.

I know that Linda likes the Crabapple Bakery Vanilla Daisy Cupcake recipe, so that is what I used for the base cakes.  It's an old reliable that yields consistent results and tastes good.  I was glad of that, because as part of the cake is left bare by the ruffled icing technique the cakes need to look good!

For the buttercream, I used the Primrose Bakery Vanilla Buttercream icing recipe for its taste and consistency. (Ignore the photo of the icing in the article - it looks nothing like the actual icing, and I suspect that the photo is just a stock photo of cupcakes bunged into the article.)  The trick is to ensure that the icing is stiff enough to stand up and hold its shape once piped.  For the colours, I used liquid colouring, added a drop at a time, for the pink and blue icing, and gel colouring (because I didn't have yellow liquid colouring!) for  the yellow icing.

The technique for the ruffled icing is shown in this video on Youtube.

I did order ribbon to make the princess flags on 3 June from an Australian supplier, but it is yet to arrive - so no flags.  However, I did find Multix pink princess cupcake papers in the supermarket (Woolworths came through for once!).

There is going to be some maxing out on sugar at Linda's party, as there is 1 1/2 kilos of icing sugar in the icing for the 36 cakes - yikes!  But as Linda says, the kids just eat the icing off the cake and the cake gets abandoned, so maximum icing is the way to go. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

FFWD - Sable Breton Galette - er, Cookies

It's Friday again, and that means French Friday with Dorie.  This week's recipe is Sable Breton Galette with Berries.  However, Dorie's Bon Idee  is to turn the galette into cookies by adding a bit more flour and adding two egg yolks instead of one whole egg to the mixture.  As cookies are more portable and I wanted to take the dish to work, the cookie suggestion was perfect.

I used the slice and bake method for my cookies - why make life harder by rolling out the dough?

These cookies may not win any beauty contest, but they taste fantastic - crisp and buttery, and not trying too hard for attention.

To see whether the other Doristas made galette or cookies and what they thought about it, visit the LYL section of the website.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Make the most out of email marketing

Online retail is really going to get your business jumping. The internet is as well used throughout the retail world as the high street for shopping. In fact the popularity of web is a tremendous boost to your company.

Emailing customers does not just give you more chance of making a sale, it is about value, customer relationship and putting your marketing right in-front of the user, and in a much more direct way then any commercial could have been able to do for you before. Think of it as an advertisement board, hooked up to the shop you want to get to.   

There are many things that can make or break your email. And really I need to go over them in some detail for you to understand and master it. The stages of an email begin with building a campaign idea. 

Planning your sell
Think of the items you’d like to promote, it may well be a themed range, such as new in, summer, men’s, women’s, shorts, hats, sneakers. 

During this time, your marketing team must strategize a banner, design and theme, strapline and overall brand communication. You want to point at selling your products and services to your consumer, so think through the basic essentials, you can’t underestimate the power of verbalisation. Specify why the product is worth value; suggest some lifestyle choices to go along with it. 

Creating your headline
Be too vague and expect email opens and clicks to be poor. Create something intent on selling and it is off-putting. Get straight to the point, because you have no time to pull back people’s attention once they are withdrawn. Tell the customer you need them to sign on the dotted line, tell them you need them to be on the website right away because this is important.

Making an email that incorporates your brand name, and people will open your email on recognition! Bring some empathy to the client and think about what they need, is it a special offer or a new in promotion. Find out something that they want and incorporate this into the title.

Designing your email
Creative visuals produce results. Design needs clean white areas, allowing the text and images to do the talking. CSS designed alt text is an added bonus, because it enables customers to read more about your promotion without clicking the view images button.

Creating a responsive design is great for the mobile market, and with about 2 thirds of all internet users going mobile, that isn’t a bad idea. Adding that fluidity could bring the level of engagement that users are asking for too. Responsive is just one design that re-scales to the device. Good design wireframe will work wonders for your click through.

Using a good email provider
The budget is fairly just when buying an email provider that really knocks out the sales.  While Mail Chimp is wildly appreciated for its bargain of analytics and social connectivity, you still have to create your emails by manual. With a powerful tool such as Silverpop by comparison, using its tools including Behavioral Database:
Behavior, Data and List Management, emails can be automated.

A specialised email for every customer is very smart, because people engage more when they see items that are similar to what they want, rather than a mass broadcast.

What we do at my company

At The Genuine Gemstones Company we like to work towards building the best service we can provide for our clients. We need to optimize our online campaigns so that they are covered over our websites, Facebook, Twitter and emails. A new promotion for emerald rings gets sent out on a Thursday afternoon, we need to deliver it to a gigantic email list, so we have the best online strategies in place to do this correctly.

Communication is important and every week we will email a new marketing promotion.  Our brands Gems TV and Rocks TV are strong in the UK and USA respectively, however it is through our online marketing that we can bring customers back to the show as well as back to our eCommerce website.

Our online marketing team is always looking to develop our email strategies. We have mastered a better engagement through using some of the technical information used in this article, and we are always trying to better our last email, with more intelligent ideas and client communication.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What should be the Post-Penguin 2.0 Digital Marketing Practices?

Many of the most popular SEO practices a few years ago are now cursed and considered foolish because they will either get you penalized or the costs far outweigh the benefits. While the Penguin update has certainly changed many things about online marketing, you can still gain exposure by abiding by Google’s rules.

Not Just Content
First of all, content isn’t the only thing that you need to worry about. All of the major search engines are checking your website's loading speed. A website that loads very slowly takes away from the user experience. Many studies show that if your website just takes a tenth of a second longer to load than similar websites, then your sales will drop by one percent.

Not only that, but the search engines penalize slow websites because people don’t like them. If you want to do some serious marketing, then ensure that you choose a fast Web host.

Organic Linkbait
Before Penguin, many marketers would use automated programs to build hundreds of links. These automated solutions are practically banned from Google and they will ensure that you get penalized. At the same time, you can use linkbait content to organically build hundreds of links.

You need to create content that is commonly shared. This includes infographics, funny or interesting videos, images, case studies and free guides. These content types will help you quickly build many links without having to use blackhat techniques.

Use Social Media
For the longest time, marketers said that social media was good for bringing in traffic, but that it didn’t help SEO. The post-Penguin consensus is quite the opposite because Google has said that social signals do matter. You can improve your ranking and get indexed faster just by updating and using your social media accounts.

The best way to do this is to share and create unique content on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages. This will have a direct impact on your SEO and you can also gain extra traffic from your direct social media followers.

Useful Content
You need to post useful content that Google will love. Google is obsessed with the user experience and they will increase your website’s ranking if your content is useful. The problem with this is that Google is an automated system that really can’t tell useful content from garbage.

At the same time, the search engine spiders are looking for the common signs of useful and meaty content. First of all, try to make your posts much longer. Many marketers say that a 500-word article is good enough, but others are saying that 1,000-word articles are much better. You should also include a list and at least a few resources.

Blatant Optimization
You can’t be blatant about your optimization. Penguin demands subtlety if you want the best growth. Instead of using your keyword as much as possible, it’s a much better idea to use it about four to six times. You still need to optimize your content, but the optimization should be subtle so that you aren’t penalized.

Penguin didn’t really make marketing harder. It just changed around the focus of marketing. Instead of building your own links and writing short articles, you need meaty and useful content and linkbait to build organic links. Just follow Google’s rules and you’ll have no problems improving your traffic. 

Derek is currently blogging for Hudson Horizons, an integrated web agency located in northern New Jersey. He enjoys blogging about multiple SEO topics like link building, user experience, Google+ and different SEO techniques. When he is not blogging or working, he enjoys relaxing with his girlfriend and watching the best show on television, Game of Thrones. 

WWDH - Mushrooms with Pasta

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay pick comes from Margaret, who chose Mushrooms with Pasta from p22 of Off the Shelf.

This dish involves making a creamy mushroom sauce with stock, chilli, basil and cheese to coat fettucine.

I thought this was really quite nice.  I cut down the pasta from 400g to 250g and made the whole amount of sauce, which gave me three hearty serves of pasta.  It was another quick, easy, tasty dish.  I even bought pre-cut mushrooms to cut down in preparation time.

To see what Margaret, Kayte and Chaya thought, visit their websites.  And if you want to cook along with us each week, feel free to join us - just contact one  of us to let us know, and we will add you to our mailing list.

How To Connect Your Network to the Cloud

1. The Cloud welcomes you!

The new storage utility is simple, fast and welcoming. Enter into an enlightened path of digitally managing your work loads and times. You will find with cloud computing that there’s an endless trail for building up your data and your network. Users may access data as and when they there are needed to see it. 

You’ve probably seen more domesticated services including iCloud and Drop Box incorporate cloud-ware applications to users. They have easy to deploy and simple attitudes, enabling cloud share between you and your devices. Share from desktops, phones, tablets, between yourself and friends, family or businesses.

2. What’s for me to expect?

With differencing levels of services, from basic file sharing to more advanced platforms with apps, to infrastructure such as data servers and firewalls, there’s a plethora of cloud software offerings to think of. Over time cloud computing will simplify existing systems, as people are more widely accepting of the internet and its interconnectivity to phones and tablets, and any other potential pieces of software available in the future.

Setting up a cloud network is a lot easier too, and let you get people working sooner. They are much more time-effective then a network or CRM, which take a lot of man hours to set up and more time to then teach everyone individually. Google cloud apps let you manage projects in a dynamic format, all inclusively of charts, graphs and plenty of other formats that other CRMs charge much more money to use.

3. Clouds everyone can see

Internet cloud access for networking includes Oracle CloudWorld, Cloud Pro and vCloud by VM Ware, providing data on Performance Management, Customer Insight, integrated with Sales and other aspects of your overall business plan. It’s great that there are programs capable of managing data for large companies, with lots of employees.

These larger companies will in fact have full support of virtual private networks (VPNs), which are great for making your data private. One important point to make about data protection is that not all computing providers will have the support of encrypted tunnels, so there’s an issue about safety that one might address. There are also some drawbacks to data encryption on cloud-ware because of slowing of transfer speed through high volumes of traffic.

Despite these certain draw backs to time-delays, the technology is getting better at dealing with working in real-time with business applications following suit now as well.

4. Is cloud computing really the future?

The prospectus for the future sights a rapid expansion of growth, with business insights already indicating it is on a healthy growth curve. In a new report from independent business information provider Visiongain; ‘'World Cloud Computing Market 2013 – 2018” emphasises the expanse of the cloud computing industry.

In this report, Visiongain state that cloud computing services are to grow by the end of 2013 by up to $35.6 billion. Cloud computing is changing the business landscape, and it’s seen by many as the answer to the issues of slow deployment applications, that are limited in resources and have unpredictability in their system configurations that can occur in an IT infrastructure.

5. What we do at my company

The Genuine Gemstones Company sells jewellery live on TV, and we enjoy being innovative with ideas and enjoy embracing technology. Our brands Gems TV and Rocks TV are popular in the UK and the USA respectively for a TV audience who are shopping savvy and fashion-concious.

We use cloud technology to expand our reach within our organization. As we host a variety of departments, we are also reliant on data for a number of essential projects. Storing these on the cloud enables our own CRM, with charts, statistics and month on month analytics and insights.

Just one example of this is when we want to research popular buys in our product ranges. Such as silver pendants diamond earrings, or a bright blue gemstone sapphire ring for example. Once we get collating data on the cloud, we can log into any digital device connected to the internet, and analyse the data to create dynamic charts immediately. With the sheer quantity of apps, you are almost spoiled for choice for making our all in one CRM for order frequency and filtering out of variables effectively.

The team are always working on keeping up to speed with the latest technology, because it is in the nature of the business grow year on yeah, by continuation of achievements, and using the best solutions to work with.


Written by Edward Meeks, digital marketing executive at The Genuine Gemstones Company

Monday, June 17, 2013

BWJ - Cheese and Tomato Galette

Congratulations to Harrison Craig from Melbourne who was announced last night as The Voice Australia for 2013.  Harrison has a voice that is smooth like honey and deep and rich like chocolate, which is especially wonderful because he has a stutter in his speaking voice and is only 18 years old.  He is marvellous - I'll be watching this space for Harrison's next career move.

This week for Baking with Julia, we take a walk on the savoury side, and make Cheese and Tomato Galette.   For the uninitiated, a galette is a free form pie.  This one is made with sour cream dough, and contains cheese, tomato and basil.

Here is a peek inside:

I used low fat tasty cheddar cheese, as I refused to buy any extra cheese - I am not a huge cheese eater, and it is rather wasteful to throw out cheese that has gone mouldy or hard from lengthy periods spent languishing in the fridge.  I added salt to the filling and sprinkled it on top of the dough because I thought that it needed it.

I took this to work, and much to my surprise, it disappeared.  Lovely Lisa even complimented me on it in the lift going home - yet I was worried that no-one would want it because the dough was below par as I made a boo boo when halving the recipe and ended up having to add way more flour than was desirable.    I am happy that people liked it anyway.

To see what our other merry members of BWJ thought of this galette, visit the LYL section of the website.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Neil Perry's Olive Oil and Sauternes Cake

I came into her room half an hour before the bridal dinner, and found her lying on her bed as lovely as the June night in her flowered dress — and as drunk as a monkey. She had a bottle of Sauterne in one hand and a letter in the other.
“’Gratulate me,” she muttered. “Never had a drink before, but oh how I do enjoy it.”
Chapter 4, The Great Gatsby,  F Scott Fitzgerald 

A couple of weekends ago, my family and I went on a day trip to Stanthorpe in Queensland. Stanthorpe is a rich fruit and wine area, so we were looking forward to a day of great eating (which indeed transpired).

At the cafe where we ate lunch, they sold a wide variety of locally made alcohol. I bought a bottle of Sauternes, a sweet dessert wine, having confused it with Calvados, an apple brandy, because of the apple on the label. I was a little disappointed when I discovered my mistake, as I had wanted to cook with Calvados. However, a trusty Google search later, I found that there were plenty of recipes using Sauternes as a component. We were back in business.

The recipe that particularly caught my eye was a one for Olive Oil and Sauternes Cake by Neil Perry, a famous Australian chef.  He served his cake with roasted pears, but as I did not have any pears, I made the cake by itself.  It is a plain but moist affair, and I can see why it would be a perfect vehicle for roasted fruit and syrup or poached fruit, as it would soak it up like a good bread with pasta sauce or rice with a curry.

Despite the non-obstrusive nature of this cake, it was popular at work and was gone in a flash.  The next day, a lovely girl whom I don't know ( but who clearly knows who I am!) complimented me on that cake.  I love getting feedback, so I was very pleased that this cake was a quiet achiever.

Have a great week.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

FFwD - Back-of-the-Card Cheese and Olive Bread

It's French Fridays with Dorie time, and this week's recipe is Back-of-the-Card Cheese and Olive Bread.  Why?  Because the recipe was off  card provided by a cheesemaker.

I was sceptical about this one, especially as it is an unyeasted loaf.  However, I needn't have worried - it was absolutely delicious.  I am not normally a fan of savoury cakes and muffins, but I loved this.  I ate slices of it as is - no spread is required.  It is good warm and cooled.

To see what the other Doristas thought, visit the LYL section of the website.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WWDH - Chicken Spaghetti Salad

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay recipe is Chicken Spaghetti Salad, chosen by Kayte from p57 of Modern Classics Book I.

This salad is so simple but so good - shredded chicken breast, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, spaghetti, egg, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

It is absolutely delicious - I could have this again.

To see what Kayte, Margaret and Chaya thought of this dish, visit their websites.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rwandan chicken casserole

I have previously mentioned Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity, sales of which support Women for Women International.  If you are looking for a cookbook that is both beautiful and has something for everyone, this is it, and by buying it, you are supporting a very worthy cause. 

I have been enjoying cooking various recipes out of this book, and recently, I made Rwandan chicken casserole from p133 of the book.  This is a wonderful spicy casserole with a thick, rich sauce - just the kind of meal I love in the winter.  There are various very similar recipes on the Web, but to make this casserole, the recipe is as follows:

3 tbspns vegetable oil
1.5kg chicken pieces
1 thinly sliced onion
3 chopped tomatoes
2 sliced sticks celery
1 minced chilli
250-300ml chicken stock
salt and pepper

Brown the chicken in the hot oil in a large, deep fry pan.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.  Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft and browned.  Return the chicken to the pan with the tomatoes, celery, chilli and salt and pepper to taste. Add the stock, bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covering the pan, for  30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve the casserole over rice (or in my case, cous cous).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

FFwD - Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine

Life is full of surprises, and this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is no exception.  We had to make Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine, which I imagined to be a tart, but is in fact, bread topped with goats cheese, strawberries and balsamic vinegar.

Instead of baguette, I used apricot delight fruit loaf.  I tried it with the bread both fresh and toasted, and loved it both ways.  This truly was superb - it is so good that when I ran out of strawberries, I kept going with tinned peach slices instead, which is an equally delicious combination.

Who knew that goat cheese and strawberries on bread tasted fabulous?  Dorie obviously, but I don't recall of anyone else ever suggesting such a thing.  All I can say is try it- I loved it.

To see what the other Dorie participants thought, visit the LYL section of the website. 

Baseema - A treat from South Sudan

Do you like trying recipes where there is no photo and you have no idea how the dish will turn out?  With the Internet, you can always browse for a photo of what you are about to make, but it doesn't always yield results.

Baseema is a South Sudanese dessert that I had never heard of before, but I was curious about it after reading the  recipe on p41 of Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity. According to the recipe, "baseema" means "delicious" - how could I resist?  I did browse for a photo of Baseema so that I had some idea of what I was making, and the golden, fluffy looking cake that I found encouraged me.

I was very pleased with the Baseema.  There is no photo of it in Share, but with ingredients like yoghurt and coconut, I couldn't go wrong.  The end result was as light and fluffy as these photos suggest, and Baseema tastes wonderful and moist without any frosting or other additions.

To make Baseema, you will need:

5 eggs
140g icing sugar
200ml vegetable oil
500g plain yoghurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
300g plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
110g dessicated coconut

350g sugar
1 tbspn lemon juice
225ml cold water

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 23cm x 33cm cake tin.

Beat together the eggs and icing sugar until light and frothy, then stir in the oil, yoghurt and vanilla.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and coconut.  Fold these dry ingredients into the egg mixture, and pour the resulting batter into the prepared cake tin. 

Bake the baseema for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.

While the baseema is baking, put the sugar, lemon juice and water into a small saucepan, bring the mixture to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes to thicken up the syrup.

Pour the syrup over the baseema while it is still warm from the oven, and leave the syrup to soak in for a while before cutting the baseema  into squares to serve.