Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WWDH - Spinach with sesame dressing

 
 
This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay recipe was chosen by Kayte from Modern Classic Book I - spinach with sesame dressing.
 
I used baby spinach instead of spinach, halved the recipe and used Shao Xing Rice Wine rather than mirin (because that is what I had).  My sauce ended up being rather chunky with the ground sesame seeds - hmmm, the photo in the book shows the sauce as being quite liquid.
 
In any event, I liked it - not enough to make it again (I found the rice wine had a slightly peculiar flavour to my palate), but enough to eat it.
 
To see what Kayte, Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their sites.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Toffee-Topped Almond and Rhubarb Cake - Gluten Free and Dairy Free


Recently, I had a minor day procedure, and even though I only live two blocks away from the hospital, I was not permitted to walk home or leave alone.  My friend Craig saved the day and picked me up so that I was allowed to leave.  To say thank you, I made him a cake all for himself. 

As Craig is gluten and dairy intolerant, his cake had to be gluten free and dairy free.  I was pretty excited, as this gave me a chance to use my scrumptious new book, Honeybuns Gluten Free Baking by Emma Goss-Custard. Honeybuns is a UK bakery that started in Oxford but is now based in Dorset.  One flick through the delicious looking pages of the Honeybuns book, and I knew I had to have it in my library.  The recipes in Honeybuns are not dairy free, but it doesn't take a genius to make them that way.

For Craig, I chose the Toffee-Topped Almond and Rhubarb Cake (p21 Honeybuns).  How could I not - it has rhubarb cooked two ways, oodles of caramel-like brown sugar and  almonds.  Yum!

Although you need to prep the rhubarb before you can make the cake, it is fairly easy and quick to make.  So that I could taste the end result, I made myself a mini cake:


And the verdict? Delish!  Unfortunately, I did not have any toffee on top of mine, but otherwise it was a replica of Craig's cake.  Because the cake contains polenta and almond meal, it has both texture and crunch, and the polenta gives the crumb a lovely golden hue.  The rhubarb adds moisture and flavour, and the brown sugar gives a glorious caramel flavour to the cake.  There is also rhubarb on top of the cake in the recipe, but because I didn't want to make the cake soggy to give to Craig, who obviously wouldn't be eating it straight away, I left it off the top.  However, there is plenty of rhubarb in the cake itself.

 To make this cake with my adjustments, you will need:

Baked rhubarb

100g rhubarb cut into 5 cm lengths
25g brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy

Toffee Rhubarb

75g dairy free spread (I used Nuttelex)
70g brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup

100g rhubarb cut into 5cm lengths

Cake

225g dairy free spread, melted
3 eggs
140g ground almonds
70g polenta
70g sorghum flour (I just used a commercial gluten free flour mix)
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
140g brown sugar
140g chopped toasted almonds (I left these out)
1teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Toffee almond topping

55g roughly chopped almonds
90g white sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper, spray with non-stick cooking spray and dust with rice flour.

For the baked rhubarb, put the rhubarb onto an oiled or lined baking tray, sprinkle with brandy and bake for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.  Remove the rhubarb from the oven and allow it to cool, but leave the oven on and reduce the temperature to 170 degrees Celsius (I didn't reduce it).

To make the toffee rhubarb, melt the dairy free spread in a saucepan, and add the sugar, golden syrup and rhubarb.  Stir until a toffee sauce forms, then simmer for around 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft but still maintains its shape.  Take off the heat.

Break the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and add all the dry ingredients, the extracts, the melted dairy free spread and the toffee rhubarb and baked rhubarb.  Beat with the paddle attachment until well combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for an hour.  Unmould the cake onto a cake board or plate. 

Make the almond toffee topping by putting the almonds and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved and turned golden, and the almonds are coated with the liquid.  Pour the toffee over the top of the cake and allow to cool and set before serving.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kamel, Albert Park


In Australia, we are in the middle of winter, and the last week seems to be telling us that winter has only just begun.  As the Northern hemisphere is cold at Christmas time, Aussies like to celebrate a second "Christmas" in July so that we too can comfortably enjoy all of those wintery Christmas treats that are wholly inappropriate when the sun is blazing and it is thirty plus degrees outside.

To celebrate Christmas in July, a group of ladies from my work went to lunch at Kamel in Albert Park.  Kamel serves Middle Eastern and North African inspired mezze dishes - right up my alley.

Our table was right beside the cosy fireplace:



The interior of Kamel in the room where we were sitting is lined with shelves of books, which patrons can read if it takes their fancy:


Here is our merry band of ladies, waiting in anticipation for our feast: 



I started the ball rolling with a fruity fez fizz - vodka soaked blueberries in sparkling wine ($9.50):


The vodka certainly packed a punch!

With seven of us, we decided to go for the $42 banquet menu.  For starters, we were served marinated kalamata olives:


and pistachio crumbed goats cheese, fig paste & turkish bread:



The pistachio crumbed goats cheese was  revelation - I loved it.

Next came baked saganaki prawns in spiced tomatoes, spanish onion & red capsicum:


I was not such a fan of cheesy prawns, but it was OK.

However, I was a fan of the warm moroccan salad of cauliflower, red & white quinoa, pinenuts, chickpeas & feta:



I cannot begin to explain how devine this was, and it was a hit with everyone at my end of the table.  I laughed when my friend Sandra happily dug into this salad, but fished out the cheese (as she doesn't like dairy).

On came the main course - first up was chicken breast stuffed with dates & pistachios on roast vegetable couscous :



I just had to read those ingredients to fall in love.  I like meat and fruit together, and to have dates, one of my favourite things ever, feature in the dish was a treat.

Next up came honey & fennel pork belly with fennel, orange & black olive salad:


I thought this was OK, but I liked the chicken better.  People were incredulous that I did not want the crackling - but just the thought of crispy fat makes me shudder.

On the side, we had patatas bravas with roast baby onions & aioli:


As you can imagine, these potatoes were addictive - so addictive that we had to ask the staff to take them away so that our heaving bellies could fit in some dessert.

And the dessert was worth the wait - a platter of turkish delight, baklava, turkish fairy floss, halva icecream and turkish delight icecream.  I adore Turkish delight, and there was no competition for either the cube of rose flavoured  or vanilla flavoured Turkish delight - so it was all for me!



The Turkish delight icecream was a favourite of everyone at our end of the table, but the little baclavas were a tad dry.

Everyone unanimously voted the food spectacular, and that it was a fabulous way to celebrate Christmas in July.

When you are finished eating, if walking does not seem too impossible after all of that food, there are lovely little shops near Kamel.  In a pet accessories store, Sandra and I met a gorgeous miniature schnauzer named Mimi who happily took all the attention we could give her.  There is also a fine bookshop and some lovely homewares stores, not to mention an organic grocer.  Accordingly, a visit to Kamel is a great opportunity for an all round outing. 


Kamel
19 Victoria Avenue
Albert Park, VIC
Ph: +61 3 9696 1386

Friday, July 26, 2013

Daring Bakers - Strawberry Mirror Cake (Bakers Choice)


This month's Daring Bakers challenge is a choose your own adventure. 

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

For me, the choice was easy.  I was inspired to join the Daring Bakers by Peabody's choice from July 2007, the Strawberry Mirror Cake by the California Culinary Academy, so this is the challenge I have chosen to make.

There are lots of eggs and lots of strawberries in this challenge, meaning that I had lots of incentive not to stuff it up, because a mistake would be expensive.  In the end, I was very happy with the results:



My mirror finished on top of the cake, was smooth and didn't tear, my Bavarian cream filled in all the spaces it was supposed to, and everything set.  The only variations from the recipe for me were that I didn't dye the mirror or the Bavarian cream with food colouring, and I (accidentally) did not strain the strawberry puree for the Bavarian cream.  I don't think it mattered a jot. 



This cake was smooth and light, not overly sweet or creamy, and is a perfect summer breeze through a miserable winter's afternoon.    I think this cake should be served at a garden party with ladies in dainty tea dresses and dapper gents, with long tall glasses of Pimms and lemonade on the side.

To see what challenges the other Daring Bakers selected this month, visit the slide show at the Daring Kitchen.

This will be my last Daring Bakers challenge for now.  I have been a member since January 2008, when I made lemon meringue pie, and have completed 66 challenges, so I think I have proved my daring. I now want to free up some space in my life for other things.  I think that making the cake that inspired me to join the group is a fitting way to bow out.  It's hard to pick a favourite challenge, but I particularly enjoyed making the Caramel Cake, the decorated sugar cookies, the Povitica, the Battenberg cake and the recent Princesstarta.  Best wishes to the continuing Daring Bakers - be daring!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

FFWD - Dieter's Tartine


Welcome to another French Friday with Dorie. This week's recipe is Dieter's Tartine.

This dish is comprised of toasted sourdough topped with cottage cheese (I left out the sour cream), cucumber , tomato, salt and pepper and chives. It tasted really good - better than I had thought it would. I would never have tried this on my own.

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

WWDH - Brussels sprouts with lemon, garlic and almonds



This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay recipe was selected by Chaya, and is Brussels Sprouts with Lemon, Garlic and Almonds.

I really enjoyed this dish, the recipe for which is online here.  The almonds gave a lovely crunch to the sautéed Brussels sprouts.  This one is definitely a keeper.

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

Best iPad & Tablet Apps of 2013

New apps are being developed every single day. It is almost impossible to keep track of what is available in the android and iOS markets. As the same apps are available for tablets and smaller devices, it is often difficult to know what applications will have the best resolution; features and work better on larger tablet surfaces. With some advice, it is easy to make the most of your gadget and get the best apps for you. As more people opt for smartphone, android and iOS devices, it is essential to take care of them with relevant gadget insurance and utilise them with the best apps on the market. Here are some of the best iPad and tablet apps of the year.

Solar Walk

Solar Walk is an impressive app that shows off the amazing visual capabilities of the iPad. It boasts a beautiful 3D model of our solar system and when used with Retina display, it really is a pleasure to the eye. It is the first app in the app store that supports 3D TV. Even when zoomed out, detail on the planets is visible. The pixel wide orbit lines of the moon are impressive but not in your face. Explore our neighboring planets and moons in a quick, easy fashion. The impressive high-resolution interface and texture of the planets makes it a really true to life experience. The app is not available on android yet, it is available from the Apple app store for €1.89.

Real Racing 2 HD

If you are a gamer, you are in for a treat with Real Racing 2 HD, available for both iOS and Android devices. It is the most critically acclaimed racing simulation on Android. Its high definition graphics, easy to use controls and high performance gameplay set you up for hours of gaming. Drive on a 16 car grid and test your racing power from 30 officially licensed cars. Choose from 15 different locations with over 40 miles of highly detailed graphics race tracks, speedways and city circuits. Handling power is amazing, with its touch or tilt to steer capabilities, as well as customisable options for your own personal driving style. The app is €4.49 and available in the app store and play store now.

Glasses.com
Glasses.com is a truly impressive app that allows you to try on thousands of styles of glasses and sunglasses. Simply upload your image, and you can view yourself on the screen at any angle wearing the specs of your choice, from Ray- Ban, Gucci, Versace and Burberry all scaled to perfectly fit your face. It may seem like a simple concept, but the quality of delivery is second to none. You can use the app for pure entertainment or genuine research before purchasing glasses. The 180-degree 3D facial mapping software gives you a real life 3D view in a fun manner. The app allows you to view up to 4 looks in a single view and tap to look at your head from each side. What’s even better is that the app is free!

NASA Earth as Art is another great app brought to you by NASA. It offers an amazing set of images of earth seen from satellites and are best displayed on larger iPad or tablet screens rather than smaller mobile screens for optimum display. The New York Times app is also best enjoyed on an iPad or tablet. Its high quality, easy navigation and stunning imagery are optimised on these impressive screens. Take the time to do research into the best apps for your device, to utilise your gadget to their full potential. You literally have the world at your fingertips. Happy downloading!

Iveta Ivanova is a web and technology enthusiast who lives in Dublin. She has lots of interests such as SEO, digital marketing and social media. Although she is fond of tech and gadgets, she basically loves blogging on different topics. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lemon baby cakes for the Royal baby

 
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge's baby was born yesterday, 22 July 2013, at around 4.24 pm.  It was a baby boy, and it is a very exciting event for Britain and the Commonwealth. 
 
Unfortunately, I was tucked up in bed when the baby arrived, but the night before, when I knew that Kate was in labour, I made some celebratory lemon baby cakes for the occasion.  I made them yellow, being a gender-neutral colour, as I could not guess whether the Royal bub would be a boy or a girl.
 
I made my baby cakes in some cute London fairy cake papers I picked up in Daylesford, bedecked with red double decker buses and Royal Guard soldiers in bear skin hats: 
 
 
There is even a soldier on the base of the cupcake paper:
 
 
The recipe that I used was for mini lemon meringue cupcakes from The Primrose Bakery Book (suitably from a London bakery), sans the meringue. Instead, I topped the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream tinted yellow.  I only made a third of the recipe, as I didn't want to have to ice 36 cupcakes in the middle of the night.
 
These cupcakes are light and spongy, and rather more on the sweeter side than I would normally like.  Next time, I would up the lemon factor by rubbing lemon zest into the sugar rather than just using a minimal amount of lemon juice, as the flavour was not very lemony.
 
To try out these cupcakes for yourself, you will need (for the full recipe, which makes 36 mini cupcakes):
 
110g softened butter
225g sugar
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
90ml milk
30ml lemon juice
1tbsp sour cream (I left this out)


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Beat the butter and the sugar together in a stand mixer until light   amd creamy, then beat in the eggs.
 
In a small jug, mix together the milk, lemon juice and sour cream.  Sift the flours together in a separate bowl.
 
Alternately add to the sugar/butter/egg mixture one third of the flours and one half of the milk mixture, combining well between each addition, and repeat until all of the flour and all of the milk has been added to the mixture, beginning and ending with the flours.
 
Spoon the batter into mini muffin tins lined with papers, ensuring that you do not fill the papers more than 2/3 full, and bake in the prepeheated oven for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked through and golden.
 
Immediately unmould the cakes from the tins (otherwise the papers will sweat off), and allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack.  Once cooled, ice the cakes and decorate as desired.  I used this buttercream recipe and piped it in ruffles on top of the cakes.
 
Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son!   


Sunday, July 21, 2013

6 Mistakes That Wordpress Bloggers Make


It is widely accepted that WordPress is currently the most popular blogging platform with features and capabilities very few content management system software packages can match. Most internet marketers love WordPress for the SEO value it adds to their e-commerce website although a good part of the population is more inclined to channeling traffic to websites or blogs they built using the CMS software. To keep you followers interested, below are six things you need to emphasize on if you are one of those who believe in the power of WordPress.


1. Always update your blog content

One of the reasons why most people's blogging efforts fail is reluctance to update their posts. It is understandable that some posts might only be valuable for a short period of time but this does not necessarily mean that you should overlook the essence of updating as it would cost you in the long run. For instance, if you have a post whose title is "Must have gadgets for 2013" it would be necessary to update it "Must have gadgets for the year 2014". If you have noted, a web user visiting your blog in the year 2014 would navigate away if the change and other modifications were not made.

2. Protect your website

Malicious software can cripple your blogging efforts and even discourage you from ever posting again. Consider a situation where you blog is banned from major search engines and not to forget the devastating message which warns visitors of malware whenever they land on it. The short term effects of such an attack would be losing your followers after which you would be forced to start all over again with an aim at seeing your blog get back on major search engine rankings. To prevent this from happening invest in an Antivirus software and security plug-ins which protect your site from malware.

3. Update your WordPress website and all your plug-ins

To ensure convenience for its users, WordPress makes regular updates to its software. The reason why installing these updates is necessary is because they fix bugs and other issues which might expose you to malware and malicious hack attempts. Remember, hackers are always looking for challenges and will soon loop holes which might cost you a lot if ignored. Update all your plug-ins regularly as one of your security strategies.

4. Keep abreast with information about new WordPress plug-ins 

As a WordPress blogger, it would be difficult to survive without using plug-ins. Most of them are intended to help you keep ahead of your competition by making certain webmaster tasks easier. For instance, a tool like WP polls allows you to get information from your web visitor and displays it in an attractive way which can be used to influence more people into making a certain decision. Most people like Plug-ins because they allow them to improve the look and feel of their website without necessarily reviewing their CSS files. 

5. Reply to those who comment on your blog

Replying to those who comment on your blog might not be necessarily a good strategy for SEO but it helps where one wants to improve their conversion rate. Communicating with your followers helps you win their trust and hence makes it easier to convince them into taking a required action. Besides, a follower feels good when a comment they made is replied to; this increases the chances of such a customer revisiting your blog for more information in the future. If you are after making a long emailing list, you could use your replies to manipulate visitors by promising them free informational products like e-books.

6. Take care of your wording

People read blogs because they need views or advice about something. Although it is important to portray yourself as an authority in your niche, your wording should not make you sound as if you are bragging about your expertise in the field. Always use a tone which will make your visitors believe that you intend to help them and all you are doing is sharing valuable information and not selling it.

With these tips, you will soon notice an improvement in your search engine rankings and more important your conversion rate. Emphasize on them and do whatever you can to keep ahead of your competition.



Author Bio:
Jason Smith is an online manager for High Concrete Group. He likes blogging about online strategies that are related to SEO, Content, PPC & Lead generation.

Algorithm Updates - Google

Google's algorithm updates scared internet marketing fellows. Each year thousands of SEO's get affecting.
Are you ready for the SEO battle ?   Stay tuned!

2011 > PANDA
2012 > PENGUIN
2013 > ZEBRA
2014 > ORCA


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Top 10 Dictation Apps for Your iPhone


The good thing with new mobile devices today, like iPhones, is that you can use amazing applications with them that will make life very convenient for you. One particular area that can be made much easier is taking dictations and transcribing them into text. There will always be a need to take important notes to prevent forgetting vital information that is related to your job or assignment, whether at school or at work. Taking notes manually is difficult because there is a chance to miss important parts of the lecture or interview. Now, with the help of software applications for iPhones, you can use your device to record important audios, which gives you the option to transcribe them later on your own or with the help of dictation companies. If you are planning to download an application, you can choose from the following top ten dictation applications.


1. Dragon Dictation

This is a voice recognition application, which means that whatever you dictate will be automatically converted into a text format. With this application, sending email messages, text messages, posting a new blog to your site, or making Twitter updates can be as easy as speaking straight to your device. If a brilliant idea pops up on your mind, you no longer need to pick up a pen and a paper, just turn on this application on your device and watch your dictation transform into words in your notepad or to-do lists.

2. Vlingo

Having Vlingo in your device is like having a virtual assistant. It does not simply convert your voice into text format, but also follows commands. For instance, tell it to text a friend, send an important email, or even update your Facebook status, all with just the use of your voice.

3. PocketDictate

This voice recorder application not only allows you to record easily with its user-friendly controls, but it also lets you edit your recordings. You can overwrite or insert extra notes to recorded sound files. This app can also compress your files, so it would be easier for you to send large files through emails.

4. iRecorder Pro

iRecorder Pro also produces clear and crisps sounds to make sure that your recordings are of utmost quality. Even when your iPhone is on sleep mode, you can continue recording through this app. It also has a SmartSplit feature, which splits large files into multiple smaller files for easy sending through email.

5. QuickVoice2Text Email

This application produces quality sound, which makes it ideal for all purposes, like recording meetings, lectures, your dictations, or even your own music. It has a lot of bundled up features. For instance, you can use your recording as a ring tone for your phone's contacts and you can do lengthy recordings, as long as your device has the required memory. Its best feature is that you can email your recording and the recipient will receive both the sound file and its transcription.

6. Audio Memos

This voice recorder app can be used with your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Its intuitive interface can make any recording task simpler. One thing that sets this recorder above the rest is its sound quality. Your recordings will be heard loud and clear so you do not miss any vital word or phrase. It is very easy to use, has no set limit on the recording length, and with its iCloud feature, you can access your recording everywhere.

7. Recorder

Be it short interviews or hour-long lectures, this app will help you record everything. Aside from that, it can also record outgoing calls, which may be essential for you if you need your correspondences documented on file.

8. iTalk Recorder

This voice recorder app lets you choose between three levels of sound quality in which you want your audio recorded. Then, with the use of iTalk, you can directly email your recordings and you also have the option to share your files through iTunes.

9. Voice Answer

Here is another virtual assistant that can help you in many ways, from doing online searches, to sending emails, and even playing your favorite tune. Would you like to know the time in Malaysia now? Or learn more about historical figures? Just give the proper audio command and this app will do as you say.

10. Dictamus

Forget about waiting for your transcriptionist before you can start with your dictation. Dictamus lets you record your dictations straight on your iPhone in different kinds of audio formats. You can then send it to your transcriptionist through email, file sharing, or even in Dropbox.


Author Bio:
Jason Smith is an online manager for Athreon. He likes blogging about online strategies that are related to SEO, Content, PPC & Lead generation.

Spiced Coffee, Date and Pomegranate Loaf



I have an eye for unusual cakes, and so when I saw Karen Martini's recipe for Spiced Coffee, Date and Pomegranate Loaf, it went straight to the "must make" list.

This cake has strong flavours from coffee, orange zest (or in my case, mandarin zest), dates, walnurs (I used almonds), cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and pomegranate molasses. I was pleased to finally be able to use my pomegranate molasses! This cake has big flavour, and is very moist, almost fudgy inside. Kids would not generally like this cake.

In the end, although I found the flavour and texture of this cake to be unusual, I enjoyed it. The only thing that I would change is the pomegranate molasses on top of the cake. I didn't like the sweet and sour taste in that context, and next time I would leave it off.

If you are looking for a cake that is a little different, you can't go past this one.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why You Should Learn About Black Hat SEO

Any SEO practitioner worth their salt knows that black hat tactics should be avoided. While such activities may boost your rankings in the short term, they will ultimately have a negative impact on your website, and it takes a lot of work to rectify the problems that will occur.

Rather than ignoring black hat SEO completely though, the best approach is to educate yourself in the area. Here’s why.

It gives you a broader understanding of how search works

SEO is a complicated field, and if you want to get it right, it’s wise to know about the potential pitfalls that you could hit along the way. It’s only through gathering as much knowledge as possible that you can do this. A good tactic here is to review your site whenever you learn about a new black hat process. Checking that you haven’t accidentally broken any rules will help to protect your site.

The rules are always changing

Some SEO practices that were commonplace in the past are now widely accepted as being black hat, so it’s important that you keep on top of any developments and tweak your campaigns accordingly. Not gathering new knowledge whenever you can means that you’re putting yourself at risk of falling foul of ethical guidelines.

It can help you to spot bad SEO practitioners

If you’re using the services of an SEO practitioner for your campaigns, it’s a good idea to be aware of how they’re developing your site and the sort of activities that they’re carrying out on behalf of your business. And perhaps more importantly, you need to know what they really shouldn’t be doing, as it can harm your business. Part of the reason for hiring a professional SEOcompany is that you can leave the tricky stuff to someone else. Whilst this is true, it’s always best to know sufficient about the field yourself, so you can choose the very best practitioners to work with.

Of course, now the main question is how you gather all the information that you need. Due to the fast paced nature of the field, the internet is your best resource here. Pinpoint around five of your favourite blogs and news sources, and make a point of checking them on a regular basis. Any more might be too overwhelming, so it isn’t a viable long-term option. This sort of dedication to ongoing learning is bound to have a positive impact on your skills, and ultimately, your search engine rankings.


This article was brought to you by Ruth Richards on behalf of WebSearch SEO. WebSearch SEO is based in London and offers link building packages and other SEO services to businesses that want to get ahead online. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

FFWD - Mediterranean Swordfish sans Frilly Herb Salad



It's Friday again - I am glad to have made it.  Highlights of this week were enjoying a Mad Mex beef burrito and a Corona with Tim before seeing a free screening of Before Midnight courtesy of Mimco, going to an excellent talk on Social Media and the Law at one of the law firms,  and enjoying a single caramel dome chocolate from Ganache Chocolate as a lunchtime treat.

Friday also means French Fridays with Dorie, and this week, our recipe is Mediterranean Swordfish with (or in my case, without) Frilly Herb Salad.

 I have never had swordfish before, and can't even remember seeing it at the supermarket.  Accordingly, after a visit to the dentist, I walked up to swanky Hawksburn Village to see if I could buy some there - I figure that the cashed up end of town would be more likely to have swordfish than anywhere else.  Sure enough, I found my swordfish - at $5.10 per 100g. Ouch!  Needless to say, I only bought one swordfish steak for the princely sum of $10.20.

In the end, although this was a pricey dine at home option, I found the marinated swordfish, cooked until just opaque, to be absolutely delicious.  It sure beats the rubbery flake option that I sometimes indulge in at home.  The fish had a delicate flavour  complemented by the lightly spiced marinade, and it melted in your mouth.  Fabulous!

There was no way I was going to spend about $9 on herbs to make a salad that I didn't really want in the middle of winter, so I went the more traditional route of fish and chips. The chips were so so because they have been living in my freezer for quite a long time, but they plumped out the meal.  If they had been fresher, I think that this upmarket fish and chips would have been totally grouse. 

To see what the other Doristas thought of this week's pick, visit the LYL section of the website.

Finally, I wish you a lovely weekend, and share the following video with you, with a message that I need to remember:


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

WWDH - Pork Dumplings



Who knew you could make dumplings?  Dumplings are those mysterious but wonderful flavour-filled packages that you buy at Chinese restaurants.  I never dreamed that you could make your own quite easily at home.

This week for Wednesday with Donna Hay, I learned that you could.   Margaret chose Dumplings from Off the Shelf, to use up our wonton wrappers from last month.

These little parcels comprise wonton wrappers filled with pork mince (in my case, Otways pork mince bought in Hawksburn Village), sweet chilli sauce, hoisin sauce and coriander, then steamed or poached in stock.  I didn't have any hoisin sauce, so I used citrus honey sauce instead, and I poached my dumplings in beef stock.  I served the dumplings with sweet chilli sauce on the side.

I was amazed - not only did the finished product look the part, but it tasted great too.  Yum!!!

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

BWJ - Summer Vegetable Tart


This week's Baking with Julia recipe is Summer Vegetable Tart.  It comprises a phyllo pastry shell filled with mushrooms, garlic, capsicum, onion and goats cheese.  I made one mini tart just for me.

I thought this tart was fine taste-wise, although I had a fight with my very old phyllo while making it (hence the dishevelled appearance of my tart). 

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

This will be my last Baking with Julia for now, as I want to clear some space to concentrate on other things for a while.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oscar W's, Echuca



At the end of June, Tim and I went on a road trip for a weekend in Echuca-Moama.  Echuca is on the Victorian side of the border, and Moama is its sister town on the New South Wales side of the border.  Both towns are on the banks of the Murray River, and Echuca was once a thriving cargo port for paddle steamers.  This led to a mini series called All the Rivers Run, based on the novel by Nancy Cato, being filmed in Echuca in the early 1980s. 

Echuca turned on perfect weather for us, and we went for a trip down the Murray on a paddle steamer, PS Alexander Arbuthnot.  This is one of the original paddle steamers that were used for cargo that has been restored and is now used for the tourist trade.  One of my favourite boats on the tour was this mini replica paddlesteamer, the Billy Tea:  


The Murray River Flag flies proudly from the front of the PS Alexander Arbuthnot:



The dark blue bars represent the Murray River and each of the rivers that run into it:  the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan and the Darling.  The stars each represent the five states of Australia, and the Union Jack is for the mother country, England.

We also took an educational Wharf Walk tour through the historical parts of Echuca.  You can find out more details about the walk here.

In the evening, we went back to the Port of Echuca for dinner at Oscar W's (after Oscar Wilde).  Oscar W's overlooks the Murray River, and we were lucky enough to score a window table.

 Our meal started with lovely complimentary sour dough bread with oil:


We started with the redgum grilled flat bread served with feta, dukkah and spinach pesto ($17.50):


This was fabulous, as the local feta was spreadable, smooth and creamy, and the dukkah crunchy and nutty.

For main, Tim ordered the kangaroo with bacon, parsnip, beetroot, crostini and onion marmalade ($37.90):  


I went for the harissa spiced chicken with pumpkin, date, borlotti beans and citrus yoghurt sauce ($39.90):


This dish had just the right amount of kick, with the spicy chicken contrasting with the sweetness of the dates and pumpkin.  All of the diverse flavours subtly blended in with each other, so no one flavour overwhelmed the dish.  I would definitely eat this again!

On the side, we ordered green beans with pine nuts and parmesan ($10), and Paris mashed potato with truffle oil ($11):


The mash was smooth and creamy, while the beans were crispy and texturally crunchy.

Despite being full, we could not resist dessert.  We ordered the cheesecake with oat and raisin crumble, marshmallow icecream, frosted walnuts and carrot jam ($16.90):



As you can see, it is a deconstructed cheesecake, and it was quite wonderful.  I especially loved the frosted walnuts.

If you ever get the chance to visit Echuca-Moama, I highly recommend dropping in to Oscar W's, with beautiful views, friendly service and fabulous food.  You can't lose!

Oscar W's
101 Murray Esplanade
Echuca VIC 3564
        Ph: (03) 5482 5133

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quiche Lorraine for Bastille Day and Tour de France


Today is Bastille Day or French National Day, and what better way to celebrate than by making a French dish.  In my case, I have chosen a perennial favourite, Quiche Lorraine.  It also ties in with Tour de France, so I have used the recipe for Quiche Lorraine from Gabriel Gate's Taste le Tour cookbook.   Gabriel does a food show every year on SBS during the Tour de France which showcases dishes from the regions through which the Tour is being conducted. 

This Quiche Lorraine recipe, by Philippe Mouchel, is also available online here.  My modifications were to use 200ml skim milk and 200ml light cream instead of 100:300 full cream milk and heavy cream, and to use 50g smoked cheddar and 50g mature cheddar.  I also did not use extra butter to fry the bacon.  In the pastry, I used a whole egg instead of just the yolk, as I didn't want yet another egg white hanging   around (my freezer is full of them).


This quiche out beautifully cheesy and creamy, although I believe that more bacon would have been better.  It is a really nice, easy dish, and I would make it again.

Vive la France!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

FFwD - Whole Cherry Clafoutis



We have reached the end of another working week, which coincides with French Friday with Dorie.  This week's recipe is Whole Cherry Clafoutis.  Why?  Because unusually, the recipe contains cherries, pits and all.

I ended up using a combination of pitted and unpitted frozen cherries because I didn't have enough of either to use just one type.

My clafoutis took about double the time stated in the recipe to cook (~1 hour in total), but I think it turned out all right in the end: 


It was custardy inside, like it should be, so I think that's all that matters.

To see what the other FFwD cooks thought of this recipe, visit the LYL section of the website.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

WWDH - Pine Nut Brown Butter with Green Beans



This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay pick comes from Kayte, who has chosen Pine Nut Brown Butter with Green Beans.

As the title of the recipe suggests, this recipe is comprised of browned butter, mixed with pine nuts (I toasted mine for extra flavour), and poured over green beans (I boiled mine rather than steaming them).

I like beans, so this was never going to disappoint; however, I like Beans A La Sunday, with cream instead of butter, better.

To see what Kayte, Margaret and Chaya thought, visit their sites.