Archive for the ‘Something’ Category

Red Cross Big Cake Bake – Cake Stall at Kerbside Lane Markets

We are holding a cake stall!

Big Cake Bake is a fun, new fundraising inititaive inviting generous people just like you to support Red Cross and the tremendous work it carries out each day by helping people in need, including some of the most vulnerable families across Australia and overseas.

And so for our part in the Big Cake Bake we are holding a cake stall at the Kerbside Lane Markets.

Big Cake Bake – Cake Stall

Sunday October 9th
1pm to 6pm

Kerbside Lane Markets
Ann St, Cnr Constance St
Fortitude Valley

 Grab some delicious cupcakes and cake in exchange for a donation to Red Cross.

If you can’t make it on the day and still want to donate you can do so here:

Want to run your own Big Cake Bake event? More info here:

Where will your donation go?


will help provide a nutritious breakfast to a child living in a remote Australian community where fresh and nutritious food isn’t always available.


will contribute to programs that reconnect families torn apart by war, conflict and disasters.


will help to record a child reading a story book to send to her mum or dad in prison so families feel more connected.


will support Aboriginal community-led education programs to help create strong, safe families and help prevent violence and abuse.


will enable a parent, struggling with a mental illness, to reconnect with his community through supportive social contact and long-term goal setting.


could contribute to culturally relevant materials and resources that support Aboriginal communities to improve child and family safety.


will help install a well to provide safe and ongoing fresh water for a family in Cambodia.


will help to support a teenage mother, who grew up in foster care, to learn positive parenting skills.


will help meet immediate needs such as clothing, food and somewhere to stay the night for an Australian family who has lost everything in a house fire.


will support Aboriginal-led partnerships to improve maternal health and reduce the distressingly high rates of low birth weight babies in some communities.


will help run a prison visitors centre where volunteers create a comfortable environment for children visiting their mum or dad.


will help tutor 10 newly arrived refugee parents on where to find affordable and fresh ingredients in Australia and what to cook to provide well balanced and nutritious meals for their families.

Home Festival & Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

I’ve been helping out the beautiful Annie, with the grass roots community festival she is organising in Kangaroo Point’s Raymond Park this Sunday. It’s going to be a FANTASTIC event with lots and lots going on. So you should check it out.

Raymond Park, Kangaroo Point (Behind the Pineapple Hotel), Sunday June 19th from 11am.

I’ll be there! So come say hi.

To reward all our facebook likers, I promised them a delicious cupcake recipe. Annie had promised them she would eat her hat at 450 likes, but that didn’t sound as tasty as a red velvet cupcake. So at 500 likes, I passed on a yummy recipe. You can find it here:

And you can LIKE the home festival here:

Wedding Cake Jars – Vegan

Two of my very dear friends were married to each other on the weekend and I was tasked with making their wedding desserts. I have been friends with the bride for longer than I wish to disclose to you. She’s a vegetarian and over the years I’ve enjoyed making sure she has yummy vegetarian food to eat when I’m entertaining. While she’s always been easy to please (basically give her anything with potato and she’s happy), I decided that for her wedding dessert she probably needed something besides a pile of fried potato (as tasty as that sounds).

Drawing inspiration from some cake in jars I’d stumbled across on the internet and Bakerella this is what I ended up creating for the couple’s reception. (Big thanks to Huy & Seleana Bui for allowing me to use their beautiful photographs from the wedding).

At the back are non-cake, cake pops. There are two fillings – cherry and coconut and also apricot and coconut, coated in dark chocolate or candy coating in the wedding colours.

The rest are vegan cake (vegan cupcakes) in jars made in the wedding theme colours. The flavours are peach iced tea (peach coloured), mojito – lemon, lime, mint (green) and blue lemonade, which of course are the blue ones.

The big jar in the middle is the bride and groom’s vegan wedding cake for “cutting” for photos. That has layers of two flavours, a rose sponge and the peach iced tea flavour with layers of the different frosting as well.

If you are going to do something like this yourself I have a few tips that may help you out.

  1. Get helpers to clean the jars and tie the ribbons. If you use small jars like I did, it’s extremely fiddly and you will be thankful you gave this task to someone else.
  2. I cooked my vegan cake as  cupcakes - partly because I used a cupcake recipe and also because it was faster to cook in the oven. Cake sized would work as well, be careful about the edges getting too brown and hard, unless you like the texture. (My helpers happily ate all the cupcake tops).
  3. I used gel colouring and used it sparingly. I only just touched the tip of a spoon to get colouring then added more as I went. Gel colouring gives brilliant colours and it’s easier to add more later than wonder what to do with bright green cupcakes. (unless that’s what you’re going for).
  4. Using 4cm jars, about 2 to 3 dozen cupcakes filled 30 jars. It’s better to make more than you think you will need and just eat the extras.
  5. Do a trial well in advance. This allows you to experiment with colours. Make sure to document the quantities for the final batch.

I adjusted a recipe from one of my absolute favourite baking cookbooks – Humming Bird Bakery’s Cake Days. Making this recipe vegan was not difficult and I think it surprised everyone that they tasted great and you wouldn’t have noticed whether they were vegan or non-vegan. Yes, vegan foods can taste delicious too.

Notes for non-vegan: just replace the nuttlex with unsalted butter, the rice milk with milk and the egg replacer with egg. Voila!

Peach Iced Tea Vegan Cupcakes

2 sachets of peach iced tea powder
3 tbsp just boiled water
80gm nuttlex
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200ml rice milk
2 egg equivalent of egg replacer
Food colouring (I use drops of gel colouring) Yellow and Pink Wilton colours for the peach colour.

Vegan Peach Tea Frosting

1 sachet peach iced tea powder
25ml rice milk
500g icing sugar
160g nuttlex
Food colouring (as above)

Preheat oven 190°C.

Dissolve peach iced tea powder with the just boiled water.

Use an electric beater or stand mixer to mix the nuttlex, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on low speed until it becomes a fine breadcrumb texture.

Whisk rice milk, egg replacer, tea and food colouring together.

The ratio of pink to yellow I used is about 2 yellow to 1 pink.

Pour 3/4 of the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on low to combine.

Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth and thick.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining wet mixture.

Mix on medium until smooth and well mixed.

Bake 18 – 20 minutes until well risen and springy. You can use a skewer to test the centre of a cupcake and make sure it comes out clean.


Dissolve iced tea powder in the rice milk.

Add the food colouring to the tea mixture.

Mix the icing sugar and nuttlex with an electric beater until it reaches a sandy consistency. Be careful not to go past this point.

Gradually pour the tea milk mixture in while mixing on low.

Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy.

Cake Jar Assembly

To construct the cake jars, all you need to do is crumble the cupcakes into a big bowl.

Then gently press bits of cupcake into the jars until you reach the rim or just under the rim.

Once all your jars are filled, pipe the frosting onto the tops of jars as you would do with a normal cupcake.

Serve and enjoy!

Yes that’s me on the right. Frosting is delicious.

I’m at the International Incident Gumbo Party

I have been meaning to participate in more International Incident Parties but keep missing them since the dumpling party. I even prepared something for the salt party and have no idea how I let cakepop party pass me by.

So this month it’s a gumbo party! I am not familiar with gumbos. I’d heard of them, but never had one, yet alone made one. One of our dinner guests said “I just remember gumbo from Disney”, to which I replied “it’s gumbo not dumbo”… but she hadn’t meant the elephant at all.

I adapted my recipe from the Alabama Gumbo recipe I found on Nigella’s website:

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and fast it was to make and also how delicious it was.

So here we go! Feel free to substitute any seafood for what you prefer.

Gumbo with Chorizo, Mussels, Moreton Bay Bug meat and prawns.

  • 2 sweet onions diced (I used what was labelled as spring onions at my grocer, white bulbs with long green tops)
  • 3 eschallots chopped (I really get all my onion family things mixed up, these were the long slender onion things, which I thought were actually spring onions…)
  • 1 medium red capsicum (diced)
  • 1 medium yellow capsicum (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (crushed and roughly chopped)
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 chorizo sausages (sliced) – I would probably add more, maybe double?
  • 500 g prawns (I removed heads, but left shells on, just sliced the back to devein)
  • meat from 2 moreton bay bugs – chopped into chunks
  • 12 mussels – washed, beards removed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (you can adjust this to your taste)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • dash of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 75g butter
  • 1/2 cup flour



  1. Heat a large cast iron pot/flame proof casserole dish on medium heat.
  2. Add some butter to the pot about half to one tablespoon.
  3. Add the onions, garlic and capsicum to the pot and saute until glistening – ensuring not to burn.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stire until warmed through.
  5. Add the sausag, chicken stock, bay leaves, paprika, chilli flakes, thyme, oregano and salt and pepper.
  6. Stir and allow to come together to a very slow boil. Keep it on a low boil.
  7. Add the worcestershire sauce and stir.
  8. Add the seafood.
  9. Now while the seafood is cooking, start to prepare your roux. That is, add butter and flower to a second saucepan and stir over low heat until it becomes a thick golden brown colour. Turn off the heat of the roux when it has reached a slightly brown colour.
  10. Add some of the stock from the seafood pan to the roux  and mix together to make a gravy.
  11. Add the gravy to the pot of seafood and stir it all together. The gumbo should thicken. You will know the seafood is cooked when the prawns change colour and the mussels open. Be careful not to overcook the seafood.
  12. Serve in bowls with rice or bread. ENJOY!

Head over to Jeroxie’s site to see more gumbo action!

Progressive Dinner – West End Central

West End Central was closed for 7 weeks due to flooding. They experienced a lot of issues trying to reopen and felt helpless that they couldn’t get the electricity back on and their staff were without work. Plus they weren’t able to order from their suppliers since they had no business to run. One shop not able to operate has affected so many, the staff, their suppliers, the people those suppliers employ. When they finally had their electricity back on after 6 weeks, a big storm hit Brisbane and there was more flooding that shorted out their electricity again.

The businesses of West End Central are now back and operational. So to show support I am gathering a group of willing eaters to have a progressive dinner at some of the restaurants.

When: Wednesday March 23rd – 6.30pm (If you cannot make the 23rd, we may have a second outing April 6th).

Where: West End Central – Boundary St, West End

1st course – Tapas at Suburban Cafe

Main – Orexi Greek Cafe

Dessert – Freestyle Tout

Cost: Everyone pay for their own food & drinks. ;)

RSVP: As soon as you can for booking purposes. You can post a comment here or find me on twitter @monkylicious :D email monky [a.t]

If you cannot make it, I encourage you to think about dining at these restaurants, or any of the other restaurants that were affected. Some of them are still not open yet. But will be soon! Jellyfish and Moo Moo dining have been closed for an even longer amount of time! Jelly fish was completely under water!

Coupons Poopons

Just felt like having a bit of a whinge. I wish I had written down every time I tried to call this restaurant to book a night to use my Scoopon just to show you what a hassle it was. I’m talking about these coupon sites that feature one or more coupons per day for basically anything. My first experience with coupons was a good one. I bought a coupon for all you can eat pizza and pasta and about 20 of us went together and the food was good.

My latest experience has not been so nice. I admit that part of the blame is on me for not using the coupon earlier. I do have some excuses which I like to use in my defence. I was busy, then it was Christmas, I went on holiday, Feb was really busy because it was my birthday, there are 4 other people I’ll be dining with and we have to coordinate the date and time, the restaurant is on the Gold Coast so it’s a bit of a hike for a meal.

But when we finally worked out when we could all go, it took several attempts at contacting the restaurant before I actually spoke to a human being to arrange a reservation. I made calls both during business hours and in the day and left messages. I was then faced with another problem. This is the last month that this coupon is valid, and the restaurant is completely booked out on weekends. They can only fit me in on a Monday or Tuesday night. So then I had to tell them I would call back after checking with the others. I wish I had just booked a date. Because then it took a good week of calls before I was able to speak to anyone again.

I don’t blame the restaurant. The idea would sound enticing. These sites have huge mailing lists, their subscribers are inviting you to give them a deal they can’t refuse and with less than a day to respond, the response is fast. But the problem might be that the response is also overwhelming. If hundreds of people buy a voucher for cheap coffee, how can you control when they stop by? Can these businesses handle serving all these customers if they turn up on the same day and most likely at bare profit or even a loss? What about their regular customers, who are full-paying customers, that they cannot service if they have 500 coupons to fulfil? Maybe they work for some businesses, but I don’t think it works for all of them. But I’ll leave the business perspective analysis to others. I’m here to talk about my experience as a consumer.

I have decided I am going to be more cautious about buying these coupons in the future. Seeing the countdown on the page and a little meter telling me how many others have already grabbed this deal fuelled this idea in my mind that I had to buy one NOW if I was remotely interested in what was on offer. But in hindsight did I really want to battle hundreds of people to book, yet alone eventually eat at a restaurant? Especially if like me, they weren’t able to use the coupon or forgot about it till the last moments before it expires.

The restaurant I am finally booked into eat at, is an award winning establishment. I consider it fine dining. I had a high expectation of what I will experience when I go there. But now I am not sure what to expect. @OMGemma_ told me that a restaurant she went to had run out of 75% of the food on the menu the day before her deal expired. I’m sure service in these situations will most likely be compromised. I’ve heard that businesses and customers have had arguments over these coupons. So how does that help a restaurant improve it’s business or a customer trying to save money but still have a nice night out? It doesn’t.

Some businesses are offering their own coupons through their site, facebook page or twitter. This is probably a more practical way to provided discounts to customers, maybe even nurture customer loyalty and have them refer their friends. I had a chat with Mel Kettle ( about this and she has some great insight and ideas about how businesses can use the coupon/discount concept in a much more beneficial way. She’s probably the person to talk to if you are a business in need of some marketing advice. Look out for a future blog post from her about the same subject. :)

Sadly it seems like the real winners are the coupon sites.

And one more note, with all these unfortunate disasters lately, a lot of businesses are also feeling the pinch. These businesses employ your neighbours. We are all trying to get by, so if you can, please support your local businesses and as always try to buy local produce.

Head filled with Old Spice

It has been a strange day. Only a few days ago I was sending emails to some friends who had been equally impressed with the Old Spice “I’m on a boat” Super Bowl ad. (If you haven’t seen it before - I was sending them links to equally entertaining follow up ads.

Then only this morning I was shown a link to one of the most ingenious uses of youtube and social media that has gone viral.

Visually pleasing “Old Spice Man” (aka. Isaiah Mustafa) is sending video responses to tweets, youtube comments and even questions on Yahoo Answers. What wouldn’t you do to hear him say your name (screen name) in that voice of his that, admit it, you cannot get out of your head?

I didn’t leave home to go to work until I had watched every video response that had been posted at the time. Now I find that I can’t stop talking to people about it. I was asked the question, but has this made me want to go out and buy some Old Spice body wash. I then admitted that in fact, a few weeks ago I actually was looking for Old Spice body wash when I went shopping. My husband DOES complain about my choice of body wash (I tend to use natural types of body wash or sensitive skin friendly types). I argue with him that if he wants something different then he should go shopping for it himself but he of course doesn’t. So being the good wifey that I am, one day I did try to find something more “man-friendly” and the name “Old Spice” was definitely in my head while shopping.

To further prove how much of an effect this has had, after telling this story to a friend, he replied with “your husband doesn’t want to smell like ladies scented body wash”. Now if you excuse me, I need to go and watch the commercial again.

P.S. I love his monocle smile.

Food Connect

Here are some more pictures of my food connect orders.

As you can see the produce in the Gourmet Boxes varies from week to week.

I love all the colours and finding out what’s inside each week.

Othello (our fluffy black cat) likes to snif the box when I bring it home and tries to jump inside. Since he’s had a thing for destroying cardboard boxes lately I have to put the box away quickly so I can bring it back to be re-used. Not sure if boxes with cat bite marks would be welcome haha.

I’ve been learning to use up produce I think will spoil quickest first, then move onto the other items. I am ashamed to admit that I have wasted a few things due to poor planning and forgetting that it was in my fridge or in the pantry. Food wastage makes me feel incredibly guilty. I’ve started giving away half my box to mum and a workmate until this set of boxes run out and I can make some adjustments to suit our eating habits a bit better.

Food Art

Picked up these lovely prints from Renee Anne at

I love this “Shop Local, Ride More, Eat Organic” print especially. I try to shop locally and eat organic as much as possible. The bike riding I’ll leave to hubby since he’s the one with the bike.

I also ordered 4 other prints, which are individual prints of the elements of this print.

The ones I have ordered are a little bit different. I’ll post a picture once I get them have put them on the wall.

I’m at the International Incident Dumpling Party

Did I just see the word “dumpling” flash across my twitter feed? Right next to the word “party”?

It’s the May International Incident and I am fashionably late for the Dumpling Party (sorry @jeroxie).

So my plan was to make my own dumpling skin, which I would have done if I wasn’t so ill-prepared. I have made them before when Froggy came over for a day of making dumplings. She has since stolen my dumpling recipe book which after a year I gave up hope of ever seeing again and so I bought another one (and now have  mis-placed it or let someone else borrow it). So problem #1: no recipe. Internetting will solve that.

Then I realise I don’t have the right flour, problem #2.

Also I’m already 2 days late in making these things and hungry and a little bit lazy, problem #3.

Solution: store bought wonton wrappers.

So a sudden wave of genius hit me and these are the types of dumplings I decided to make.

Wait for it…

1. Red curry with duck and lychee dumplings

2. Chicken dumplings…. given the katsu treatment! Yes, Chicken Dumpling Katsu.

I have to admit, they tasted pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. The spicy curried bits of duck mixed with the sweet lychee. Oh and every time I had a little fatty bit of duck I was in heaven.

Don’t even get me started on the Katsu’d dumplings. I’ll say it again, why have I never thought of this before? Crispy pillows of dumpling skin with juicy chicken inside. Don’t forget the Japanese mayo!

Red curry with duck and lychee dumplings

For the red curry dumplings, I drew inspiration from the Spirit House red curry with duck and lychee recipe.

Red Curry Paste (recipe from Spirit House Thai Cooking – Helen Brierty and Annette Fear)

This will make about 2 cups of paste. What you don’t use for dumplings, use in a curry and don’t share it with anyone unless you really love them.

15 dried red chillies
2 tablespoons coriander root, chopped
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
2 small red onions
12 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemon grass, finely sliced
1 tablespoon galangal, chopped
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons shrimp paste, roasted

*Hint* If you are either lazy or not very good at finely chopping things (eg. ginger, galangal) just use a grater or zester.

Soak chillies in hot water for 30 minutes. Remove from water and chop finely. In a mortar, grind the coriander root and seeds, cumin and white peppercorns. Add remaining ingredients and pound to a smooth paste. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in refrigerator. Keeps for 2-3 weeks.

Red Curry Duck and Lychee Dumplings

Makes approx 16

1 duck breast*
1 tablespoon red curry paste
5 lychees (tinned is fine)
2 tablespoons coconut cream *approximately, I forgot to measure
Dumpling skins (yellow wonton ones used this time)

water to seal dumplings

*You could probably just use meat from a chinese roast duck and it would be fine. I bought a duck breast to use this time.

In a hot pan place duck breast, skin side down and let the fat render off for about 3 or 4 minutes. Then turn the duck breast over and cook for another minute on the other side.

Remove from pan and cut into little cubes/pieces roughly half to 1 cm big. Smaller is better.

Put duck meat into a bowl with 1 tablespoon of red curry paste and mix till well coated. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

Cut lychees into small pieces (about the same size as the duck).

Put marinated duck meat into a heated pan and add the coconut cream. Stir and cook until almost done. Add lychees and stir. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Put about 1 generous teaspoon of filling into each dumpling skin and wrap into whatever shape you care for, remember to seal with water and try to have as little air inside as possible (a few of my dumplings fell apart in the water).

I made a simple soup to cook some instant noodles, bok choy and the dumplings in. This was adapted from the soup recipe for the pork and crab wonton soup recipe in the Spirit House Thai Cooking book.

1 cup chicken stock (You can use all chicken stock, or more stock if you want a stronger flavoured soup)
1 litre of water
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons  fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon palm sugar
Splash of lychee juice from the tin of lychees (because I felt like it)
1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder (when I realised I had made it too sweet with the lychee juice hehe)

Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.

Add dumplings and cook for about 5 minutes.

You can also add vegetables or noodles to the soup at the same time.


Chicken Dumpling Katsu

Why have I never tried this before? Combined the awesomeness of dumplings with the fantastical art of deep frying?

Makes 16

2 chicken thighs*
2 tsp salt
2 or 3 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves of minced garlic will also work)
1 tsp white pepper

Dumpling skin (yellow wonton skin)
1 egg beaten
1 cup panko crumbs
1 litre of oil – or enough to deep fry them in a pan or wok.

Japanese mayo to serve
Katsu sauce optional

You can use chicken mince instead, or even pork mince. I was using what I had. Mince would have been MUCH easier.

Cut chicken thighs into tiny pieces (smaller than 1cm cubes), essentially I was trying to mince it, hence using mince would have been smarter. Although I can never seem to find organic chicken mince so maybe this was better *end rant*.

Mix chicken with salt, garlic powder and white pepper. My measurements are approximate, I’m quite liberal with the seasoning.

Fry chicken in a pan with only a little oil if required, till either cooked or almost cooked. *I get quite paranoid that chicken won’t be cooked properly, especially in things like dumplings where I can’t see the chicken during cooking which is why I pre-cooked the filling.

Remove chicken from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Put about 1 heaped teaspoon of filling into each dumpling skin. Fold/seal into a shape that is quite flat, either triangle or rectangle. This will make it easier to coat in panko crumbs and fry.

Coat dumplings in the beaten egg. Then coat dumplings in panko crumbs, pressing down lightly to make sure the crumbs have stuck.

Heat oil in pan. Once the oil is ready, add dumplings to the pan and cook until golden. You may have to turn the dumplings to make sure both sides are cooked. My dumplings had air in them and they puffed up into little pillows and floated to the surface so I needed to make sure I turned them over.

Drain on paper towel.

Serve with Japanese mayo and katsu sauce and EAT!

I had lots of fun doing this, I can’t wait for the next International Incident Party! :D

Original Invite to the Dumpling Party:

The round up: