Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

Hello Everyone! I’ve got a special post for you this evening as today marks 4 years of Amcarmen’s Kitchen! Don’t worry, I’ll still post a Breakfast Smoothie Bowl up for you guys most probably towards the end of the week since I already had the post and pictures prepared for it.

Anyway, technically I started this blog on April 16th, but it wasn’t until 2 days after on the 18th that I posted my very first recipe! You can check it out here: Cheesy Mushroom Omelette with Avocado Mint Greek Yoghurt & Wilted Spinach. Yes, you could say I was less talkative (wordy) for my first few posts, mainly because I had no clue on what else I could write about. When I started this blog out of pure procrastination way back in 2014 during my uni mid-semester break, I didn’t think I would be able to make it this far to be honest! I did slack behind a bit (a lot) towards the end of last year as it wasn’t easy juggling both a very demanding job, this blog, time for family and friends, and wanting some free time to myself as well. I have been doing a better job at keeping up so far, but it’s too early to tell to be honest, since I only just started getting back into this last month.

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

I want to say that I promise that I will try to do better this year, but even I know that that’s a promise that I won’t be able to keep, so bear with me my dear followers! I know it is not in any way an obligation for me to share with you guys every single week, but I feel a sense of accomplishment for when I do so, and I don’t ever want this blog to drift away. It’s the only passion that I have going on for me right now because of my busy work schedule, and I don’t want all the hard work I’ve put into this blog for the past now coming 4 years to just become all for nothing.

With that being said, tonight I will be sharing a recipe that I tackled last November actually… For my 26th birthday! I never got around to posting it, and since I literally just got back from Hong Kong last night and had to report straight to work this morning, I’ve had no time to bake a new cake to celebrate Amcarmen’s Kitchen turning 4. So here’s my Pear & Walnut Cake that I drew inspiration from Olivia over on Liv for Cake. The cake itself was moist, not too sweet and had a lovely texture from the soft pear chunks and crunchy toasted walnuts. The honey buttercream was light and fluffy, beautifully contrasted by the deep red pears sitting atop a white-frosted cake.

(Apologies for not having an ingredient shot like how I normally do for almost all my recipe posts, but the photo didn’t turn out so great so I just decided not to post it)

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the pear and walnut cake

  • 2 & 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (plus extra to top)
  • 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely shredded
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the honey Swiss meringue buttercream

  • 4 large free range eggs, whites only
  • 360g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Optional: for the spiced red wine poached pears to top

METHOD

  1. Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears: Follow the recipe method provided in the link above.
  2. Pear and Walnut Cake: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease and flour two 8-inch cake rounds and line with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the plain flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Next, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Reduce the speed and add the eggs in one at a time to allow to fully incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk altogether). Make sure to fully incorporate after each addition. Then, gently fold in the toasted walnuts and shredded pears, and divide the mixture evenly between the two pans.
  6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of both cakes come out mostly clean. Place the cakes on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool further.
  7. Honey Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until combined.* Place the bowl over a double boiler on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approximately 3 minutes), or until it registers 70C/160F on a candy thermometre.
  8. Place the bowl back on your stand mixer and whisk on medium-high speed until the meringue is stiff and has cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approximately 5 to 10 minutes).
  9. Switch to a paddle attachment and slowly add in the butter (cubed). Mix until smooth.** Add the honey and whip until smooth. Set aside.
  10. Assembly: Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 1 cup of the buttercream and repeat with the remaining layer. Crumb coat the cake and place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.
  11. Continue to frost the top and sides of the cake in a rustic manner. If desired, add toasted walnuts along the bottom and top, and place the poached pears on top. Secure pears in place with toothpicks and drizzle with the poaching syrup.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

* Ensure that there are NO traces of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue won’t stiffen.

** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Blackberry, Pineapple, & Spinach Smoothie

Hello Everyone! First of all, I apologise that it has taken me this long to be able to edit this part of the post. If you do not already know, I had a flight to catch on Wednesday evening to Singapore. Upon arriving in Singapore at about 7:20pm that evening, I headed straight for the hotel to drop my things off, and then quickly headed back out again with my sister for a very late dinner. After dinner, we shopped for a bit, mainly to buy some water and a comb since I forgot to pack mine. We then said our goodbyes at the train station and headed in opposite directions. I didn’t get back to my hotel until about 10:30pm, maybe 10:45pm that night, and I hadn’t prepared my usual Wednesday post. Nevertheless, I quickly got it up because I am very particular about getting my posts up on its scheduled day – I just haven’t shared it on my other social media pages because I wanted to write this part out properly.

So yes! I am in Singapore until this coming Wednesday 9th March. I’m here to do some important errands, and of course to have some rest and relaxation from work, and of course to do some shopping! Aside from that, it’s my sisters birthday as well (March 04). We’ll be celebrating by going on a River Safari all day Saturday, and then spending the Sunday café hopping with my friend Pamela. I also have plans to meet up, cook, eat, and catch up with some friends from high school so that should be fun!

Anyway, so before we race on to the recipe, please check out the original over on Way Fair. I replaced the milk with coconut water for a diary-free option, and coconut water is filled with electrolytes and potassium, which are two nutrients your body craves when expending lots of energy. It’s low in calories, fat, and sugar meaning that this is the liquid-base you want when working out. In addition, blackberries contain a handful amount of vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, and K. Blackberries also include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. They are a good source of amino acids and essential dietary fibre without offering any harmful cholesterol. If you’d like to read up more on the health benefits of blackberries, click here.

 

Blackberry, Pineapple, & Spinach Smoothie Ingredients

PREP TIME <5 MINS | COOKING TIME — MINS | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup pineapple
  • Handful of walnuts

METHOD

  1. Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Blackberry, Pineapple, & Spinach Smoothie Ingredients

Blackberry, Pineapple, & Spinach Smoothie

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Avocado & Roast Pumpkin, Kale Salad

Avocado & Roast Pumpkin, Kale Salad

Hello Everyone! Sorry for not getting this post up on Tuesday night (please forgive me) – it was quite a stressful day for me trying to get important things done. I hoped to have finished them by the evening so that I could move on and write this post for you, but it didn’t happen. Today I am a little bit more relaxed as I pretty much finished what I could do yesterday. So here is what was meant to go up for Tuesday’s post, today!

This recipe is one that started off a little bit more simpler than what you’ve seen above. It was one that I used to make a while back during my second year of University, and during that time avocados were not only in season, but cheap as well! I wanted to try out various recipes that used avocados and I came across a simple avocado and roast pumpkin mixed leaf salad. I would always pair it with marinated oven-baked chicken drumsticks or a whole chicken leg. I won’t post the marination recipe for our chicken on my blog as it’s a secret blend of ingredients that my mom came up with, but I mean, you can basically pair it with your own secret recipe or keep it simple with just the salad.

Avocado & Roast Pumpkin, Kale Salad

Over time I started to add a few extra ingredients here and there that I thought might jive well together in terms of flavour and texture. I added toasted walnuts, and then pomegranate seeds after I made the dish a few times with just the addition of the walnuts. There was also one time where our avocados were very overripe and basically couldn’t add it to the salad, and instead I added marinated feta cheese because that’s what I had in my fridge at the time that was sort of creamy in texture to substitute; of course flavour was no where near. Lastly, the supermarket didn’t have pre-bagged mixed leaf salad leaves so I had to go with what they did have on the shelves – kale! Quite a transformation from just an avocado and roast pumpkin mixed leaf salad to begin with I must say.

Avocado & Roast Pumpkin, Kale Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into small chunks
  • 1 bunch kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium-sized butternut pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large pomegranate, peeled and deseeded
  • Handful of walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Marinated feta cheese
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Season the pumpkin with a bit of salt, ground pepper, and olive oil. Line a baking tray with foil and spread the pumpkin over the lined tray. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the kale and simmer for about 6-8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving plate.
  3. Top the kale with avocado, roasted pumpkin, feta, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts.
  4. Enjoy the salad as it is or as a side with your preferred choice of meat.

We had ours with Mama G’s Special Spicy Roast BBQ Whole Leg Chicken!

Avocado & Roast Pumpkin, Kale Salad with Roast Chicken

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Persian Lunch

Persian Lunch

May the 4th be with you.

About a month ago or so (I actually cannot remember) I saw a post on the UNSW Food Lovers Society page that linked to a Facebook page called mamaCOOKoo. As intrigued as I was to know more about it, I clicked on their page and found out that they are a community that “connects amazing home cooks with hungry locals”. I then went onto their website to find out more about what they do. I read up on the story of how mamaCOOKoo came to be and found it interesting, and smart. Basically, husband and wife, both terrible at cooking, wanted to find a cost-effective solution to their troubles, and thus the birth of mamaCOOKoo, food that reminds us of home, mamas and grandmas, and their magic in the kitchen. You could register as a foodie, or as an amazing home cook. Torn between the two, I decided to sign up as a foodie as a craved for delicious home-cooked meals and mainly because I am curious to know about and experience the different cuisines out there in my area. I mean, yeah my cooking is good, but I don’t know about the ‘amazing’ part, just yet.

So about 2 weeks ago I got an email from Rumana, the founder of mamaCOOKoo, inviting me to eat Persian food. When I read the menu, I was on board immediately. Also, I’ve never really had Persian food before so I was really interested to taste authentic home-cooked Persian food. I feel that if you really want to experience a new cuisine, authentic, home-cooked is always the way to go first. I feel that restaurants today, especially in Australia, rarely have that authentic taste, and is always in some way tweaked and fused with a bit of a western touch. The really authentic restaurants are often difficult to find as well.

I got to experience authentic, home-cooked Persian food today and I definitely have no regrets.The food, AMAZING. And of course the people that we shared the meal with were also amazing. I invited my fellow food buddy Jialing and her boyfriend Zargham. We met Rumana and her husband Nilesh, Aadil and of course Arash who was our home cook for the day. We also got to know his wife who came in just as we were about to have dessert (not Persian, but still amazing with the ‘scotch-butter’ sauce). Lots of fun talking about random things I might add, from experiences with fire alarms, to cats and dogs (and of course which of the two were better, dogs hands down), and just all things food in general. We also got to know Arash, about his inspirations and how he started cooking by learning from his mom.

Here are some shots of the food that we had today:

Persian Lunch: Mirza Ghosayme
Mirza Ghosayme – Smoked bbq eggplant with eggs, garlic and tomatoes; this was a winner for me! I could just eat this all day, everyday!

Persian Lunch: Albaloo Pollo
Albaloo Pollo – Sour cherry rice; I am generally not a fan of cherries (probably scarred from those horrible preserved cherries in a jar), but this changed my view on cherries! Such a creative and vibrant dish and definitely something I’ve not seen in restaurants before!

Persian Lunch: Adas Pollo
Adas Pollo – Lentils, sultana, nuts (almond, pistachio) and rice; again, sultanas aren’t my thing but it felt like it wasn’t even there, the dish was just so good. SO good.

Persian Lunch: Gaymeh Pollo
Gaymeh Pollo – Slow cooked lamb, saffron, tomatoes, split peas, potato and rice; perfection on a plate.

Persian Lunch: Fesunjun
Fesunjun – Slow cooked chicken breast with pomegranate and walnuts; so tender and YUM.

Persian Lunch: Dolmeh
Dolmeh – Eggplant and capsicum stuffed with mushrooms, beans and rice, cooked in a tomato and tarragon sauce; just WOW.

Persian Lunch: Poached Pear with a 'scotch-butter' sauce and a dollop of cream
and lastly our not-so-Persian dessert (more French-inspired), Poached Pear with a ‘scotch-butter’ sauce and a dollop of cream; scotch-butter is in fact just butterscotch sauce, but Arash calls in scotch-butter because he couldn’t pronounce it at first. We love us some scotch-butter!

Overall, an amazing experience, both the food and the company. I’m glad that I came across mamaCOOKoo and I’m glad that they have started up this community. The only downside to this is that I probably will have to start running/walking again after such a full-on breakfast/lunch/dinner all in one go (I didn’t have breakfast because I believed that it would ruin my Persian lunch experience, and I was obviously too full to have dinner afterwards). But hey, if you have not experienced this feeling before, then I have news for you. You are NOT a true foodie at heart.

Also, if you are based in NSW, you can order the food that you see in this blog if you don’t have time to cook, or don’t like to cook at all, and are after a nice home-cooked meal. You can also order food for parties! I recommend that you register with mamaCOOKoo so you can find out more about home cooks around your area. Or hey! If you are an amazing home cook then do get in touch with Rumana! Links below:

– Ally xx