Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gluten Free Luscious Lemon Syrup Cake

As a young child, I had always wanted to be a victim of some sort of dehabilitating disease so the other kids at school would think that I was cool and give me lots of attention. They would think that I was incredibly brave for living a normal life despite my condition and then I would achieve great things and there would be a book and perhaps a movie would follow. I was about 7. Then came the period where I remember really wanting to break some bones so I could get one of those cool plaster casts and an equally cool story about how I ended up in hospital -fighting invisible ninjas or something..

I really liked attention. Well.. I really liked the idea of getting attention.

Among these ridiculous day dreams, I even considered pretending to be allergic to certain foods because I thought being a picky person was pretty cool. Looking back, an older and more mature me is very thankful that I am able to eat anything I want and can down almost anything with my iron stomach. I love cake, chocolate milk and peanutty things and I cannot imagine ever having to go without! Along with this revelation, I also realised that being allergic to certain foods is not a choice people make to attract attention but a real hinderance to their lives..

..Which brings me to Coeliac Awareness Week..

My lovely friend brought to my attention that, although she loves reading my blog, the lack of gluten free baking prevents her from trying any of these delicious recipes. This one's for you, Anna =) I trolled through a whole stack of Healthy Food Guides to find the perfect cake for you.

Ingredients you will need. Not pictured: water, which I incidentally left out of my cake mix
I'll also take this moment to gush to you about how much I love reading Healthy Food Magazines. They have amazing recipes for everybody which are low cost and even some menu plans -not that I use them, but the idea is appealing..

The gluten free aisle at my local Countdown supermarket
So I started my day by dragging Jason to the local supermarket to explore the treats it had to offer the gluten free world and, to my surprise, there was actually quite a lot on offer -everything from gluten free baking mixes to gluten free pasta. This was pretty exciting and I found myself wanting to try all the products so I could see whether or not one was able to taste the difference between "normal" food. Jason only let me leave with the gluten free baking mix.

Step 3: Beating until thick. It's a pity I didn't bring my electric mixer. At least we'll get strong arm muscles!
 Let me take another moment to gush about one of my favourite bloggers -the InTolerant Chef. Gluten and Lactose are not her friends but she doesn't let that get her down! She is totally an inspiration and her blog has heaps and heaps of gluten (and lactose) free recipes for you.

Step 4: Add everything except the baking mix. Remember the water.
As with everything new, I somehow got it into my head that gluten free baking would be vastly different to everyday baking and had a hard time accepting that my cake would turn out "O.K." This thought had taken hold so much that I didn't even think twice when my cake mixture turned out quite stiff and doughy -"It's just that gluten free mix. Poor Coeliacs" I thought.

I even thought this would level off in the oven due to the heat
It never occured to me that I had left out the water.

Although I had made such a big mistake, the cake turned out fine. The only difference was that it was a bit dry and had a scone-like shape but other than that, IT WAS DELICIOUS! Especially with the lemon syrup.

The plus side is that now I have a bag of gluten free baking mix to experiment new recipes with (and not screw up) and another opportunity to make this cake look nice!

Maybe Anna will get a cake!

Luscious Lemon Syrup Cake (From the Healthy Food Guide)


1/2 cup oil 
1/4 cup water
2 cups Healtheries Simple Baking Mix
1 tsp lemon zest (I always like to add more. I really like my lemon)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
extra 1/4 cup sugar 


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
2. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
3. Place the sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat until thick.
4. Gradually pour in oil, water, lemon zest and mix.
5. Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
6. Place lemon juice and extra sugar in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. (Make sure that you don't heat your mixture for too long or you'll end up with toffee that gets all stuck in your teeth!)
7. Pour the lemon syrup over your baked cake.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baked Zucchini Sticks

If there's one thing I love, it's the idea of being healthy. Unfortunately for me, I lack the restraint to limit myself to a few handfuls of potato chips and I find it way too hard to stop my legs from taking me towards the nearest source of deep fried food. Oh, and I hate running and most forms of exercise.

Mmm.. Baked Zucchini Fries

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like my fruits and veggies -I like them quite a lot actually, but the call of the salty and deep fried is just too strong.
It then becomes quite exciting when I find that I can combine my love for getting my five plus a day with a few bread crumbs and cheese so imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Aggies Kitchen and her delicious parmesan zucchini sticks! Bread crumbs and cheese make everything better.

Step 1: Long planks
Along with eggplants, zucchinis are one of my favourite vegetables. I love them so much that I try to incorporate zucchini into my meals as frequently as possible -risotto, noodles and even sandwiches! It's because they aren't really like your average vegetables. They taste.. meaty..

Steps 4 and 5: Dipping and Breading stations are go
Do you know what I mean?

Dressed and ready to go into the oven

Please tell me you do. I don't want to seem like a crazy person with her crazy meaty veggies!

Into the oven they go

Anyway.. I think it's the texture that appeals to me so much. It becomes mushy, but manages to keep its shape when cooked and has the ability to soak up all the yummy ingredients that have been put in the pot with it -in this case, yummy parmesan cheese.


These are one of the best party snacks I've come across. Zucchini sticks require minimal preparation, cheap and are a great hit with everybody. Perhaps it's a great way to make your picky kid eat their veggies?

Please tell me you know what I mean by "meaty vegetables"..

Baked Zucchini Sticks


3 large zucchini, sliced longways, halved and cut into sticks
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried garlic powder
Olive oil spray 


1. Slice zucchini into long planks, then halve and then into sticks. You know, like chips.
2. Beat the eggs in a large, shallow bowl and set aside. This will be your glue.
3. In another shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and oregano and garlic powder. This is the yummy.
4. Start by dipping your zucchini sticks, 3 or 4 at a time, into the egg mixture and allow any extra to drip off.
5. Coat the zucchini sticks in the bread crumb mixture by rolling it around and place it on the baking paper.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as needed.
7. Spray the zucchini sticks with a light coating of olive oil and place into the oven (which you have preheated to 220°C)
8. Bake for around 10 minutes and flip them all over with a spatula and stick them back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
9. They should be quite yummy now. Sweet chilli sauce goes very well with these =)


Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Double Downs Burger

When "My Wedding and Other Secrets" came out in the movie theatres, I heard nothing but how I should totally go and see it because I, the Asian girl, have a Kiwi boyfriend and could therefore relate. This is what it has been like with every movie that has ever been released. My friends tell me how hilarious it is and hype it up so much that, when I finally do watch it, I am inevitably let down because I had such high expectations. This is also what it was like with KFC's new Double Down Burger.

I use the term "burger" loosely.

Really not impressed
Very loosely.

After having great success in the U.S. the Double Down Burger has finally made its way to New Zealand and caused a lot of controversy -it even has it's own Facebook page! It's like any other burger, except it has two of the Colonel's original recipe chicken fillets instead of the bread bun and, if you wanna choose the 'healthy' alternative, you can go for grilled chicken fillets.

Even the pictures I find on the internet aren't very appetising

Now I'm a great fan of chicken, but even I know that there is a line. But the protein overload wasn't my main concern. Neither was the massive amounts of calories this burger contains (which, apparently, isn't much more than most burgers from other fast food chains).

My original fear of this burger that the chicken fillets would leave my fingers all gross and greasy but KFC had obviously thought of that and wrapped it in a paper bag to protect my delicate little fingers.

From top to bottom: Chicken fillet, cheese sauce (montery jack and pepperjack cheese), bacon, chicken fillet
The burger was quite a bit smaller than we had expected but we were pleasantly surprised -any bigger and we would have had to split the burger into more than just halves.

"All it needs is a bun, some lettuce and tomato" says Jason.

I must admit, he's not wrong, but some small part of me really enjoyed slapping quality food in the face and digging in to this protein monstrosity. I just really like chicken. The biggest problem was how salty the bloody thing was. It's as if they were trying to make up for the lack of burger qualities by rolling the fillet around in the Dead Sea every step of the way.

Pepperjack and monterey jack cheese left at the bottom of our box
 I felt really bad about myself after finishing it though. But it's ok, I washed it down with a mint chocolate milkshake and I forgot everything as I fell back into a food coma..

Placemat: I love how they have an emergency stock of chicken. It shows how dedicated they are.
So all in all, it wasn't as great as it was hyped up to be, but not as bad as some of the facebook status' I read. It was just so so. Would I try it again? Probably not. What if there was a gun held to my head? Happily.


Official title: KFC's Double Down Sandwich
Ingredients: Two boneless Original Recipe® Filets, two strips of bacon, two slices of monterey jack and pepperjack cheese, Colonel's Sauce.
Price: $7.50
Combo Meal Price: $10.90 (includes fries and a large soda).
Fat: 32 grams
Sodium: 1380 milligrams

Verdict (as of Saturday 14th May, 2011) as told by Jason and Lucy:

Taste: 4/10 It wasn't terrible. It's pretty hard to stuff up chicken, bacon and cheese but, as Jason said, it needs a bun, lettuce and tomato. SO MUCH SALT! Make sure you have a drink on hand or you will dehydrate and turn into a prune.

Appearance: 2/10 Definitely could improve in this area. Surely KFC has enough money to hire a food stylist. Pfft

Ease of eating: 6/10 Despite the attempt at keeping my fingers clean, the paper bag does little to prevent the cheese from going all over your face reducing you to a sad, sad mess.

The idea of having an emergency stock of chicken: Priceless

Oh yeah, we have yet to see My Wedding and Other Secrets..

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

Not to blow my own trumpet, but this is the best chicken and sweetcorn soup I've ever had -probably because it's tailored exactly to my own tastes and I've had years to perfect it. It's also easy to make and very very comforting to have on a cold, winters day. Kids love this too. I almost always get requests for my chicken and sweetcorn soup when family friends with children come over.
Step 4: Mixing through the celery
This was also one of my favourite things to have at Chinese restaurants but, as I got older, I slowly caught on to how much of a rip off a bowl of this could be. Six WHOLE dollars for one little bowl of soup with only a few pieces of chicken?! I think not. Little Lucy had grown wise -it only cost her about $7 to make a whole pot (Sorry, I'm not entirely sure why I'm referring to myself in the third person)!

So you start off with some shredded chicken. Your deli will have some pre-shredded or pPerhaps you have some left over from the roast you had last night?
 The best thing about homemade soups is that you know exactly what's gone in it and each chunk you come across is no longer mysterious. At this point Jason reminds me that, growing up, he's never had soup with chunks in it and I conclude it must be a Chinese thing -puréeing soups is not done where I come from. It's much more satisfying having something to bite into. Anyone else with me on that one?
Pile on the celery. In case you haven't noticed, this is a few steps on from the previous picture
Well.. there's not much more for me to say except that winter is coming up (or is it here already?) and I highly recommend this recipe. It goes great with some garlicky bread and a warm fire of sorts. I can't promise you that it's authentic because, well.. What is authentic anyway? I can tell you that I've never seen this soup on a menu in China although I can promise you that it's delicious and your tastebuds (and your stomach) will thank you for it!

This was my lunch. I had another bowl an hour after that. I couldn't resist.
 Sorry, I have kept this post short because I've just come home from lunch and am currently suffering from a food coma. Perhaps I'll sleep it off..

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, Lucy style (serves about 6 but you can keep it for a few days in the fridge. I prefer to eat it all myself)


1 Tbs oil
200g bacon, coarsely chopped
300g cooked chicken, shredded
2 cans creamed corn
4 cups cold water, added at different times
1/4 celery, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs cornflour (makes it nice and goopy)
Soy sauce to taste
Pepper to taste (I like to use both black and white pepper)
* Note: You can also use chicken stock in place of water in which case you won't need the soy sauce.


1. Heat oil in a large pot and add bacon until it starts to brown.
2. Throw in the shredded chicken and creamed corn and mix through.
3. Pour 1 cup of water and stir through and reduce the heat.
4. When the mixture starts to bubble, add celery and 2 more cups of water and stir through.
5. Dissolve the cornflour in the last cup of water and add to the pot when it starts to bubble. (Note: it is very important that you add it when the mixture is bubbling, otherwise it won't mix through your soup properly and you'll get lumps throughout)
6. Pour beaten eggs in a thin stream while stirring so it is distributed through the whole soup.
7. Add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. (I use soy sauce because I like the reddish hue it brings to the colour of my soup. Feel free to use salt instead).

Saturday, May 7, 2011


The worst thing about mid-semester break is the fact that it is actually not a break. Contrary to popular belief, the mid-semester "break" is the two weeks given in the middle of the semester to catch up on the massive pile of work that has inevitably formed some sort of towering structure on your bedroom floor. You have no choice. This always happens. Don't fight it. Just accept it.

Hum on a sunny day
The best thing about it is the chance to catch up with friends and the yummy food you get to try in the process. One thing I have noticed lately is the gradual change that Highbury is making from an abandoned mall with weird little shops to quite a trendy area with fancy cafes and gourmet food shops. Now if only we could get rid of the loitering teenagers..

The perfect view to judge people. Don't give me that look, you do it too!
Every time I drive through the new Highbury I must resist the urge to pull over to have a nosey but, alas, I never find the time or the weather is just not the nicest. Today, however, I was offered the chance to pick and I knew I had to go to the cafe with the cool as bench on the footpath overlooking the other shops and pedestrians. I had no idea what it was called -all I knew was that I would get to enjoy a meal in the sunshine whilst being able to comment on the dishevelled mothers pushing their babies around or the teenageers who are showing waaay too much skin. OMG, I am getting old.

Fresh NZ Scallop Pie -$8.50

 Anyway, I digress, this isn't about the rude comments we made. It's about the FOOD. Formerly the Palm Cafe, the new owners have refurbished the cafe into the more trendy and modern "Hum."

Look! Real scallops! There were more than one!

After spending about 10 minutes oooh-ing and ahh-ing at the cabinet food, I was faced with the excrutiating task of choosing between ordering off the menu or from the cabinet. After another 10 minutes of deciding, I finally settled on the gorgeous fresh NZ scallop pie. This was possibly the best decision I made all day. The creamy white sauce fully brought out the flavour of the scallops (there was more than one!) and enhanced by the presence of silverbeet while the crunchy salad added a nice change of texture. Oh yeah, I even chomped down the onion -the pie was really good!

Eggs Benedict with portabella mushroom, avocado and spinach -$15.50
Francesca had given up sweets and meat for lent and hence had to settle for the vegetarian options. Luckily, the eggs benedict with grilled portabella mushroom, avocado and spinach was to die for. "Don't forget to add that the hollandaise is amazing and tastes homemade!" says Francesca -"Oh, and the ciabatta bread is so fresh!"

Roast pumpkin, spinach and feta filo -$8.50
At this point, Jason could not resist my boasting of my yummy lunch and joined us for a late lunch of filo pastry filled with roast pumpkin, spinach and feta. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations as it was a little bland although it was made a little better by the presence of onion chutney.

This or cabinet food? Such a tough choice
Hum can be found in the heart of Highbury at 6 Mokoia Rd, Birkenhead, North Shore City, Auckland, New Zealand.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

The WTF fruit


This, my friends, is a Kiwano Horned Melon

Seriously. What the hell?

DO NOT, by any means, buy this if you are planning to eat it.

Let this be a warning to anyone who is suckered in by the pretty yellowy-orange swirls and it's badass spikes: I don't think it's for eating. 

But I gave it ago anyway..
So it started when some of my father heard that a few of his friends were visiting from China. As a great host, he went on the hunt around Auckland in search of foods they'd have never experienced -naturally occuring paua, yummy salmon, kiwifruit and.. Kiwano. He was certain that they had never tasted this spikey fruit before. Because he, himself, hadn't. In fact, no one in our family had ever tasted it before or even knew how to go about eating it!

Ingredients for Kiwano Sorbet: Kiwano, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup chopped pineapple
Wikipedia tells me that the Kiwano, or Horned Melon, is supposed to taste like a banana with the texture of cucumber -and I'm here to tell you that it's total lies. While it does have the texture of cucumber (the slimy centre) it, in no way, taste of banana. Unfortunately, I can't actually tell you what it tastes like. It's about 90% slime. Green slime. Like boogers.

Juicing the Kiwano

So basically we ended up with 3 of these really pretty, albeit gross fruits that no one ate and they sat in the fruit bowl for days while I contemplated how I was going to save them from the bin.

When the sieve stops being effective, use muslin cloth and SQUEEZE
After quite an extensive search, I concluded that no real Kiwano recipe exists and that it probably means that you shouldn't eat them unless you hate yourselves a little bit. But, if you have already been tricked by it's outside appearance, here's something you can do with it: Sorbet!

Bear in mind that the Kiwano is not, by any means, the main part of this recipe -it is just a means of using up the Kiwano you've got sitting up there. But seriously, don't buy it.

Kiwano, Banana and Pineapple Sorbet 



2 bananas, frozen solid
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, frozen
Juice of one kiwano (1/3 cup of any fruit juice would also work)
Honey or other liquid sweetenerto taste


1. Put the frozen fruit in a food processor and allow it to thaw for about 10 minutes. 
2. Mix the honey with the kiwano juice. 
3. Start up the food processor and pulse to chop the fruit thoroughly. 
4. Add the juice-agave mixture and process until smooth and creamy. 
5. Serve immediately in the shells of the kiwano or in small bowls.