Roast Sweet Potato, Cranberry, Rice & Quinoa Salad

This salad is jam-packed full of flavour! It has definitely become my go-to in terms of a quick and easy work lunch lately. I’ve seriously probably made this over 5 or 6 times in the last month. It is incredibly light, full of flavour and very filling! There is just something about the mix of the roasted kumara, and the crunch of the quinoa. The dried cranberries add a little hint of sweetness too, without being too overpowering.

The first time I made this salad, I’m pretty sure I devoured a substantial portion in one sitting. The original recipe has quite a bit of watercress in it but feel free to omit like I did. It is very simple to make and can be served as a main dish or side dish. It is good warm and straight from the fridge – bonus!

Roast Sweet Potato, Cranberry, Rice & Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds..
  • 800g sweet potato, peeled, diced into 2cm-ish cubes
  • 2 x 250g pouches SunRice Steamed Rice & Quinoa
  • 55g sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Put nuts on baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes – keep a close eye on these as they burn easily! Set aside.

Put sweet potato and 2 tablespoons of water in a large microwave dish. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes, or until tender. Drain well, then set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, microwave each SunRice packet for approximately 90 seconds each. Transfer to a both, and separate grains with a fork. Add sweet potato, cranberries, nuts, and the chives.

Whisk together orange juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Add liquid to the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

The salad will last in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days (I think). Mine didn’t quite last that long! Yours probably won’t either…

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Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

Hello! Apologies for not blogging since early October! How many slack of me. Truth is, it’s been an extremely busy last few months and the last thing I’ve felt like doing is blogging my evenings away. Excuses, excuses..I. know. I do wonder, sometimes, how all you other bloggers carry on with such momentum…it’s truly awesome.

I’m back though, with some festive treats over the next couple of weeks. First up is a delightful recipe, and something that truly reminds me of my childhood, and also rather fitting for this time of year. They make a perfect treat for your workmates, or just wrap in cellophane for a cheap, and easy gift.

This recipe is so unbelievably easy to prepare, using the food processor. The smell of gingerbread will be wafting through your kitchen within minutes!

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Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 150 grams butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • Lollies to decorate (pebbles are great)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

This is the easy part! Sift flour, baking soda and ground ginger together and place in a bowl or food processor. Add butter and rub in with fingertips or pulse in food processor until resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and stir or pulse to mix. Ta da!

If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little more flour to the mix and wrap in cling wrap. Likewise if a little too dry, add 1 tbsp of warm water. Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.

Roll out on lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Using cookie cutters, cut shapes and place on tray. Form leftover dough into a ball and re-roll and repeat cutting out until all the dough is used up.

Bake the gingerbread cookies for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked and golden. Remove from oven and cool on baking rack.

Of course these cookies taste superb on their own, but if you’d like to get a little creative, make the icing by adding 11⁄2 tsp water to the icing sugar. Drop a small amount under each spot where you wish to place a lolly.

When you’re done, store the cookies in an airtight container. Enjoy.

Cherry Ripe Mud Cake

I really enjoyed making this cake. Mainly, because it made a change from to my usual fall back recipe - chocolate guinness cake.

Stupidly,  I left a bunch of my recipe books out recently, and my flatmate picked up my copy of Food We Love - a great little collection of favourite recipes from the Australian Women’s Weekly Test Kitchen. He came across an extremely mouth-watering image of a very dense chocolate cake, made with Cherry Ripe bars. Next came a request for a birthday cake. I didn’t really need any more convincing…

P.S. I really wish I had a much more exciting, colourful image to post with this recipe, but sadly that will have to wait until next time…..enjoy.

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Cherry Ripe Mud Cake

  • 250gm butter, chopped
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 400ml coconut cream
  • 200gm dark cooking chocolate
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (110gm) self raising flour
  • 1 cup (150gm) plain flour
  • 1/4 cup (25gm) dark cocoa
  • 2/3 cup fine coconut
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5x (50gm) Cherry Ripe Bars, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 150°C, grease and line 1 x 23cm springform tin. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add coffee, sugars and stir in chocolate until melted. Add coconut cream, stir till combined then set aside to cool. Whisk in sifted dry ingredients then coconut, vanilla and egg. Stir in ½ the Cherry Ripes (chop coarsely). Sprinkle rest of Cherry Ripes on top of cakes. Pour mixture into the tin and bake 40-50 min until top is set and is still a bit wobbly. Stand cake  for 10 minutes then remove sides and cool on wire rack.

This recipe is also my entry for Sweet New Zealand this month – hosted by Lucy from Lucy Eats. Check out all the fancy recipes on her blog at the end of the month.

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Granola for breakfast!

What’s not to love about Bill Granger? I came across his name when I was on holiday in Sydney earlier in the year. The recommendation came through from a colleague that I must *must* visit Bill’s in Surry Hills, for breakfast one morning.

Bill Granger is known for his modern twist on breakfast and brunch-food and excels in such dishes. While I was in Australia, I was lucky enough to enjoy a couple of bowlfuls of what is labeled on the menu as ‘Bill’s Granola’ – served with greek yoghurt and fruit compote, this was divine. I went back a few more times to enjoy the same meal.

Recently I was back over in Sydney and a visit to Bill’s in Surry Hills had become quite high on my list. Surry Hills is a delightful wee suburb, minutes on foot from the CBD and well worth the small trek especially in the early morning sunshine and fresh spring air. I went back for the granola again, and then later in the week tried the ricotta hotcakes, with banana, topped with a slice of honeycomb butter - this dish was also pretty exceptional and I could have done with a tub of the honeycomb butter to take home with me. I have since found the recipe online, and this will be appearing on my blog one day very soon.

When I eventually arrived home I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across Bill’s granola recipe in a blog post written by the man himself, and couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen and make it…so here we are (with some of my own additions….).

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Granola for breakfast!
Serves 4

  • 100 grams jumbo porridge oats
  • 50 grams mixed seeds
  • 50 grams blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 50 grams pecans, roughly chopped
  • 25 grams desiccated coconut
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • Greek yoghurt, to serve
  • rhubarb, or a selection of berries

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all of the granola ingredients together. Tip out on to a lined baking sheet and spread out to form an even layer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times until the nuts are toasted and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Serve with rhubarb and thick Greek yoghurt. Enjoy!

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Sweet New Zealand: By After Taste

Jeepers! June tomorrow, what the? Uh, where did this month even go?! Where has the year gone. Just to remind me of this, I walked past a shop the other day and saw a sign saying “Christmas countdown: 210 days”..things I didn’t need and/or want to know. Admittedly, they were a children’s toy shop…

More importantly, during the month of May, After Taste hosted ‘Sweet New Zealand’. This event was originally started by Alessandra Zecchini in 2011 and really encourages kiwi food bloggers to share their secret recipes, discover new delights and of course, get to know other New Zealand food bloggers, living both here and overseas.

Here are the entries from May:

1. Dulce de leche cupcakes by Alessandra Zecchini

These look incredible Alessandra, and yet another great photograph from you! I have heard a lot about dulce de leche but I am yet to try it or use it in my baking. I will definitely be bookmarking this fabulous entry. Looks like I might also have to plan a trip to Uruguay, Chile, or Argentina. If you’d like to make your own dulce de leche, follow the instructions here.

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2. Dolce Milanese by Greedybread

Michelle at Greedybread sent in this recipe for Dolce Milanese this month. I’m also quite partial to a good fruit bread, Michelle so you certainly hit the spot with this one. Fruity, rich, and buttery..a perfect accompaniment to a large cup of coffee on a cold Winter’s day. Beaut.

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3. Nutella muffins by Greedybread

Another excellent recipe from Michelle! What a great idea for a treat for Mother’s Day – if they last that long. They look like they would be wonderful straight from the oven. Nothing wrong with a bit of  choc overload every now and then!

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4. Torta Caprese by Italian Kiwi

Lisa (all the way from France) from the blog Italian Kiwi has sent in a recipe for a typical chocolate cake made in Southern Italy, which she was lucky enough to experience (and get the recipe for!) while on holiday in Puglia. The cake has a great brownie-like consistency, and uses a secret ingredient called Strega, which translates as “Witch” in English – excellent. For everyone else in New Zealand, Lisa suggests using Cognac to replace the Strega. Thanks for the great accompanying photograph, Lisa! :-)

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5. Rose Water, Cranberry & Pistachio Truffles by My Little Chequered Kitchen

Monique has sent through a lovely recipe which, quite frankly, the title kind of makes me drool. This recipe has been adapted from Jo Seagar’s recipe in “It’s Easier Than You Think” book. I enjoy anything with the combination of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit. Looks like this recipe might be just perfect for Christmas. Thanks Monique!

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6. Chocolate Banana Loaf by eat, etc …

Lesley from eat, etc.. has presented us with what looks like a beautiful, yummy dense, chocolate banana loaf! Short, sharp, and ALL the icing is the message I get from this blog post. Thanks Lesley – it looks very inviting!

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7. Manjar and Alfajores by Delissimon

Thanks to Monica from Delissimon for two fabulous recipes this month – Manjar (meaning delicacy) and Alfajores which are little shortbread biscuits sandwiched with dulce de leche. After another recipe that includes dulce de leche this month, I’m pretty much sold on this. And it seems that only way to do this properly is to make it from scratch. I now have a project and so fitting for the long weekend ahead. I must say, the photography on Delissimon deserves a special mention too - love it!

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8. Plum Oat Bars by Couscous & Consciousness

Sue from Couscous & Consciousness presents us with plum oat bars – this is an adapted recipe from the book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. I was particularly sold by the tartness of the plum combined with the  sweetness of the caramel nut topping. Definitely going on my list of items to try next month. Thanks Sue.

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9. Gooey Salted Caramel Slice by After Taste

Now, I haven’t had much time to get into the kitchen myself this month and get creative! So here is a delightful recipe I go back to time and time again – gooey salted caramel slice! I thought it was also quite fitting with our string of caramel-related entries this month too. Enjoy.

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Thanks for all the fantastic and salivating recipes this month guys! I will leave you with a great big shout-out to the next host for June, Sue from http://couscous-consciousness.blogspot.co.nz! Enjoy, and have a great Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

After Taste presents Sweet New Zealand…….

After Taste is hosting Sweet New Zealand again this month, so get your entries ready!

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This event was originally started by Alessandra Zecchini in 2011 and really encourages food bloggers to share their secret recipes, discover new delights and of course, get to know other New Zealand food bloggers, living both here and overseas. Here are some super simple rules:

  1. This event is open to all bloggers living in New Zealand (even if you are not a Kiwi), as well as all Kiwi bloggers living and blogging overseas.
  2. You can enter anything sweet (as simple or complicated as you like): cakes, biscuits, slices, desserts, even drinks, and you may submit as many entries as you like, including old posts if you like.
  3. Your entry must contain the following: the phrase “Sweet New Zealand”, a link to the host (my blog homepage), a link to this post and include the Sweet New Zealand badge (just right-click and download the image from this post), and if you are submitting an older post remember to update it accordingly with all of the above.
  4. To submit your entry email me at aftertasteblog@gmail.com by 30th May with:

- your name
- your blog name
- a link to your blog
- a link to the post you’re contributing (and name of recipe)
- a photo from your post (not more than 250 kb if possible)

I’ll do a round up of all entries at the end of May. I am really looking forward to seeing all the entries :-)

After Taste

Chocolate Guinness Cake

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I’m pretty sure I’ve come across a winner here. The first time I sampled this gorgeous cake, which a friend made, it was absolutely to die for. That was it, I sourced the recipe and I don’t think I’ve made another chocolate cake recipe since.

I’m not a huge beer fan but it works perfectly with the chocolate, and the end result is super moist, chocolaty with an ever so slight taste of the Guinness.

For a slightly less elaborate presentation, you can definitely get away with a dusting of icing sugar. However, because I am pretty much in love with cream cheese, I definitely can’t pass up a decent spread of icing. And the combination of the creamy white topping on the dark black cake is visually stunning in my books.

This is hands-down the best chocolate cake ever. Moist, dark, chocolaty, and with a great silky texture so make sure you try it :-)

Chocolate Guinness Cake

For the cake

  • 250 ml guinness
  • 250 grams butter
  • 75 grams cocoa powder
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 142 ml sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 275 grams plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsps baking soda

For the icing

  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 50 grams butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and butter and line a 23 cm springform tin.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter – in spoons or slices – and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and the baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese with the butter until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them all together until it makes a spreadable consistency. Spread the icing on top of the cake.

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