Monday, 17 August 2015

Best Ever Chocolate Bundt Cake

I have always LOVED Bundt cakes.
There is something super special and exotic about them.
There is definitely something majestic in the shapes- which are many and varied!

Recently, Mr Girlfriend had a weeks leave and we spent the entire week filling our day time with trips to cafes, galleries, a bit of shopping & junk shop scavenging and lots of getting little jobs done that we never find the time to do.
It was one of the best weeks ever and felt so much more indulgent as the kids were all at school and WE. WERE. ALONE.
It was the actual BEST.

On one of these outings I found the most exquisite new Bundt tin at this shop.
I ummed and aaahed as to whether I should buy it.
But I am SOOOO glad I did. I have already had so much joy out of it!

I don't think Bundt cakes will ever lose their WOW factor for me.

My understanding of these cakes is that they originated in Europe- Austria, Germany & Poland. In Austria the cakes are known as Guglhupf- but are also known in other places as BundKuchen. The Bund in this word referring to Community. These cakes were cooked in cast iron or ceramic shaped baking vessels.
The name Bundt was actually coined by an American kitchenware company in the 50's. The owner invented a lightweight aluminium version of these shaped cake tins, added a 'T' to Bund and trademarked the name & that is what most of us know them to be now.
No doubt the internet will jump to the opportunity of sharing it's knowledge about Bundt cakes here also.

Have you ever made one or perhaps you have been too scared?
I'm here to teach you Bundt Success! Oh yes siree!

There is a trick to getting a Bundt cake to turn out of it's tin without the tear-inducing disaster of it sticking.
Spray oil carefully around all of the tin and dust with flour (or cocoa powder if a chocolate cake).
Tap out any excess and then pour batter in as usual.

Make sure you also leave the cake in the tin for at least 15 minutes once it has come out of the oven before turning on to a cooling rack.

This recipe is SUPER EASY and is deliciously moist & chocolatey.
It would make a super great SPECIAL OCCASION cake- for like......Sunday Breakfast for instance.
Well that may just be us but I really encourage you to be naughty and do the very same.
It will fill your heart with joy- i PROMISE!
Imagine having this made for your birthday! You would totally feel like a Queen, or a King, or just like you were totally LOVED at the very least!


This recipe will also go into a regular 30cm cake tin (bake 35-40 mins) or make great cupcakes (about 20-25mins)- but please always check with a skewer as all ovens vary dramatically.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa powder (best quality you can afford)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bi-carb soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
for the glaze 
  • 3 tablespoons Cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
Heat oven to 175C.

In a large bowl stir together sifted flour, cocoa, baking powder, bi-carb, sugar & salt.
Add eggs, milk, vanilla & oil.
Mix together well for 2 minutes.
Now stir in the boiling water.
The batter will be runnier than you are used to- this is ok.
Pour the batter into the oiled & dusted Bundt tin (as described in the post above).
Place into oven for 50-55 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before turning out on to a cake rack to let completely cool before applying the glaze.
For the glaze: Melt butter completely, stir in cocoa and icing sugar.
Mix well to remove all lumps before adding the boiling water.
Stir & then drizzle over the top of the cool Bundt cake.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Have you guys heard of Green Goddess dressing?
It's one of those food things that does the rounds every now and then.
A really moreish & versatile dressing that is a bit like a mix of Salsa Verde & mayonnaise & Sour Cream.
You can read more about it here.

I had one of those lovely school holiday days yesterday where the lads & I were busy doing fun activities and totally lost track of time.
You can have a look at what we were up to here. SO FUN!

but all of a sudden it was 6 and I had 5 hungry lads wanting dinner.
Luckily over the weekend we had a large Mexican feast to feed one of our lads and his friends to celebrate his birthday, so I had a fridge filled with delicious Mexican leftovers.
I like to transform the leftovers into something different so we don't just eat the same thing over & over.

I used inspiration from Green Goddess dressing to invent a Mexican flavoured one.
We ended up having delicious zingy Nachos using the leftover pulled pork & the Corn & toasted almond salad spread through delicious Organic unflavoured Corn chips which I drizzled with the sauce I invented.

I named the sauce after everyone's favourite Mexican Goddess- FRIDA KAHLO- of course!
It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge after making and can be used for all manner of things- on Potato salads, drizzled on iceberg, on Sweet Potato fries, on top of Nachos, over Tacos, over gilled fish - ENDLESS possibilities........

I used the Green Goddess sauce as inspiration- however I wanted to omit the mayonnaise component and so I substituted that with a whole avocado and added some of my Taco seasoning for flavouring.
If you are vego you can easily omit the anchovies- you may need to add a bit of extra salt. 


  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of Taco seasoning 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 red chillies
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1 bunch of well washed coriander (roots and all!) 
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a paste.
Check seasoning and add S & P if necessary.
Place in an airtight jar. Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Season Of Salt & Honey : Author interview & BOOK GIVE AWAY

Earlier this year I had a conversation with Hannah Tunnicliffe regarding the upcoming publication of her second novel : Season of Salt & Honey.
Season of Salt & Honey

I agreed to sharing it with you guys as I thought it would be of great interest to you all.
Hannah has already written another novel 'The Colour of Tea', which also weaves food into the storytelling.
When she is not writing books Hannah also writes a food blog (along with her friend Ria) aptly titled Fork & Fiction.
Hannah found me through our mutual friend Beth.
I promised I would share her book with you guys after I had read it (sorry it has taken so long! - crazy busy life & then the flu got in the way!! Once I did start it I couldn't put it down.....)

Hannah has also VERY generously given me a copy of Season of Salt & Honey to giveaway to one lucky reader. To be eligible just leave a comment below letting us know the strongest food memory you have that relates to family (good or bad!) A winner will be chosen randomly.  Entries close Friday 19th June 5pm. Entries must be Australian residents.

'Season of Salt & Honey' is a novel about a period on the life of Frankie, whose life is turned upside down with the unexpected death of her fiancĂ©.  Frankie escapes her own overbearing Italian-American family by fleeing to a forest cabin belonging to Alex's (the fiancĂ©) parents.
Peppered throughout the book are gorgeous authentic recipes that are woven into the story. The story is about food, love, grief, recovery, connection to nature & the complexities of human relationships.
I LOVE the way the recipes are such a strong part of the storytelling &  help paint a picture of how food is such a big part of the way we remember events in our lives. Hannah also gives us historical information about the recipes too.

 Rather than spending a lot of time talking about her book, I thought it would be cool to do a little interview with Hannah so you could learn a little more about the gal behind the words.
I interviewed Hannah a few weeks ago- fulfilling my long held dream of pretending to be Jennifer Byrne from the Book Show.
Here is the transcript of that interview:

Can you tell us all a little about where you live?


Sure! I currently live in Auckland, NZ. I grew up here but have done a lot of travelling, including living overseas, over the recent years. Before moving back to NZ I lived in Vancouver, Sydney and Macau. Before that it was London, Melbourne and a campervan called Fred (for a few months travelling around Western Europe


Was it work that took you away from Auckland? or your heart?


Great question! Originally it was a scorching desire for adventure that lead me away from NZ. Then, eventually, once I had done a lot of adventuring, I could not wait to get back to NZ to make a life here. I love raising my kids and living in this little pocket of the world. My husband is an Aussie (from Sydney) and I am a Kiwi and we often talk about having "the best plan B in the world" (i.e. to return Downunder). I think this plan B is what makes Kiwis and Aussies such enthusiastic intrepid travellers.


In your travels you must have eaten some great food!
Can you share us about your favourite food memory during your travels?


Oh man, that is a TOUGH question! One very cold Autumn day in Kyoto my husband and I stumbled across a tiny, family run tempura restaurant. It was freezing outside but inside the restaurant was small and cosy; we were the only ones in it! The food was so good. In fact, ALL the food we ate in Japan was incredible and served with such care and calmness. I'm in a bit of a hurry to get back there, I loved Japan.
*runner up favourite meals include a feast in rural Thailand after a long day of trekking, siu long bao in Shanghai and sticky kouign amann from a market in Brittany... hmmmm....drool...


That Japanese meal DOES sound very special indeed.
A memory that involves more than the food- the very best kind of food experience.
And can you share your most challenging food experience of your travels with us?
Perhaps it was the ingredient or the situation that made it challenging?


I'll eat just about anything so I can't think of many ingredients that put me off (I am such an omnivore, it's not funny!) The food experiences that have been the most challenging are the times when, due to illness, I haven't been able to eat what I like (aka EVERYTHING.) This past Christmas I got sick during travels to Whistler and Hawaii and everything tasted dreadful. I was absolutely devastated. Food = Joy. Am I right?  *wink emoticon*


No argument from me!
Can you tell us a little about how a 'Day in the life of Hannah' looks?


Briefly? Wake up grumpy, drink tea (feel better), grab something to eat, procrastinate, write, wrangle small children, chores, chores, chores, forget something, instagram something, eat!, more procrastination, more wrangling, think about all the things I should have gotten done, eat something, worry that I am eating too many somethings or the wrong somethings, send emails, read, chat to husband a bit, sleep.


How many children do you have? And what ages are they?


I have two beautiful, exasperating, cheeky, wonderful daughters. My eldest is five, my youngest is three.


Is writing something you have always felt intrinsically compelled to do?


This shouldn't be a hard question but strangely I find it really hard to answer! The truth is - yes and no. I loved books as a kid and I loved writing too, but i never thought of it as an "option", you know? As a real proper career choice? For me? Writing was something I kept very close to my heart, hardly ever actually doing it, in case I failed, which would shatter me. Preferring instead to try my hand at things I was less in love with and less attached to. Because failing at those things would be less heart-breaking. Finally one day, due to life circumstances (I'd become burnt out in my job in Human Resources, had quit and was living in Macau, China) I was provided time and an opportunity to finally be vulnerable and a bit brave and give it a try. I had the sense that if I didn't try then, in that moment, I might never try. So I did.


Being vulnerable is the most courageous act of all I think.
I'm glad for you it brought the bounty of success.
I think that a lot of us have inner secret things we want to try but are scared of failure.
A very wise friend of mine once said to me- the only failure is not giving it a go.
When did your interest in food begin?


You are so right - vulnerability IS the most courageous act of all! have you listened to or watched Brene Brown? She is amazing.
Anyway, I digress...
Ah, food, well...always?? Aside from the food = joy equation, I believe food is love too. It's our first experience of love, as babies, from our mothers / carers, so I'm convinced our fascination is biological. It's essential, it brings us together, it celebrates, it affirms. I'm also a very sensual person (that sounds wrong, bear with me) - I love beautiful art, colours, scents and music. And food is such a wonderful sensory experience... what's not to love?


Yes I agree with you.
I think there is a commonality amongst food lovers & art lovers.
A process of wonderment at the beauty in our world & things that can be shared- especially love.
What gave you the idea to combine your fiction writing with real life-recipes?


Good question and I cannot claim credit there. My wonderful US editor, Miya Kumangai, suggested adding recipes to the manuscript after I submitted it and at first I was a bit dubious. For two reasons - a) I am not a chef and b) I didn't want them to seem gimmicky or distract from the story. In the end I selected recipes that were already mentioned in the manuscript (not a single one was slotted in just for the purpose of adding a recipe!) and made, tested and adapted recipes. It was great fun and I learnt a lot about Sicilian cooking and culture in particular. The recipes are a good mix of easy / hard, vegetarian / including meat, American / Sicilian. A lot of the food references are symbolic and therefore have or add extra meaning too. I'm really proud of the end result. I think I owe Miya a drink. Next time I am in New York..!


I have just two more questions to ask you- I am conscious of taking your time!
Can you tell us your favourite cookbook & why & also what is your favourite music to cook to?


Sounds good, this has been really fun! Okay - favourite cookbook...
Okay, may I have three?? The first is by Sophie Dahl and is called 'Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights' I love it because the recipes are simple and delicious and organised into seasons,and because she writes about food truthfully and lovingly and because she is the star of The BFG. The second is 'Little and Friday: Celebrations" because the food is decadent and feast-y and Little and Friday is my favourite cafe and second home. The third is not a cookbook per se but my friend Beth's website, BabyMac. I make her lasagne and chocolate cake all the time. She is very funny and frank and her recipes are great. *smile emoticon*


And your favourite music to cook to?


Eeek, I don't cook with music generally! Too many things to concentrate on to involve music in the muddle and chaos. BUT, in saying that, if I do cook with music it has to be duets by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Old school, I know. 'April in Paris' makes me feel oh so happy.


Thankyou so much for sharing with us today.


Thank you so much for 'having me over'!!  Cheers! x

NB: GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED- Winner notified

Friday, 29 May 2015

Sausage, Spinach & Potato Soup

We are now well into Soup & Braise cooking territory in Melbourne.
The chill has set in & in our house the lurgies are amongst us too.

That's what the doctor ordered.

"BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo- oop of the e- e- evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo- oop of the e- e- evening,
Beautiful, beauti- FUL SOUP!"
Lewis Carroll 

I don't know about you but I tend to trot out similar soups time & time again- delicious nonetheless but it was time for a change.
This was the result.
It relies on VERY GOOD quality all-meat sausages - sausages with fillers and other stabilisers just won't do, so if you don't have great quality sausages replace them with Chorizo or bacon.
I use sausage this way in pasta often- an old Italian method but have never used it in soup before. it worked well.
  • 4 Pork & Fennel sausages (see notes above) If replacing sausages, use 3 coarsely chopped rashers bacon or 1 chorizo sausage in their place.
  • 4 large waxy potatoes, skin on & chopped into large cubes
  • 300g washed & drained spinach
  • 1 bunch Parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • S & P.
  • olive oil
Heat a large fry pan and add a small dollop of Olive oil.
Gently squeeze the sausage out of the casing so it falls into the fry pan in small meatball shapes.

Continue with this until all sausages are browned.
Remove from pan and set aside on kitchen paper to drain.
Now place a large saucepan on the stove and heat to medium heat.
Use a glug of fresh olive oil and add the onion, garlic & bay leaf.
Cook until Onion is translucent and the garlic fragrant.
Add the cubed potato, chopped parsley & the reserved browned sausage.
Now add chicken stock, increase heat and bring to boil.
Immediately reduce heat to simmer and cook until spuds are soft.
Now add cream and bring back to simmer.
Check seasoning (i think this soup is best with a VERY generous amount of black pepper).
And just before serving add the rinsed Spinach and stir until just wilted - this keeps the spinach's nutritious goodness and also keeps it's glorious GREEN!
Serve with extra chopped parsley & some Sourdough & Chorizo crumb.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

GG Kool Kids in the Kitchen Challenge

"Children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for."

This sentence is one I have used time & time again in my writing on this blog over the years.

Reading this article on the NY times today I found myself nodding in agreement.

We don't and have never paid our children to do chores either. I see them as a must-do part of living communally & not as something my children should be fiscally rewarded for. But rather as a way of teaching my children to recognise that we notice there are other people around us and we care about them. It's also about self care. I see my job as helping prepare my kids to be independent functioning members of society. These tasks are part of a normal functioning life. 
Learning how to cook good nutritious food is also part of that.
Somewhere along the way we have lost the understanding of how to cook.
We lean on 'quick' packaged options filled with nasties instead of maybe boiling an egg or whipping up a 10 minute pasta instead. 
We have lost sight of the fact that nutritious and delicious food can be quicker than lots of the packets out there.
We choose these because of a lack of simple skill sets.
I want to see this turned around.
I see it as URGENT.
We have a health crisis looming. One that will affect every single one of us. And we all need to be a a part of the solution.
And I believe it starts in our very own kitchen.

Getting this generation of kids in the kitchen is also one of the biggest motivating factors behind why I designed my Kool Kids Cooking pack.

Encouraging our kids into the kitchen at a young age is so so good for them- and for us. Teaching basic skills in the kitchen is the key to changing the disastrous health crisis hovering over us. This health crisis is all of our responsibility.  We all need to be part of the solution.  We are in this together. Learning how to make a pancake or biscuits develops into skills that will enable them to eventually be capable and confident enough to make an entire meal for the family.ON. THEIR. OWN.

From now until the end of June I want to see you getting your Kids in the Kitchen.
It will be messy.
It will be chaotic.
You may tear your hair out- but......

It will be an opportunity to spend focussed time with your children.
It will be an opportunity for you to teach your child new & important skills.
It will be an opportunity for you to start conversations about food and where it comes from.
It will be an opportunity for you to gift your child with a growing knowledge of independent and healthy living.
It will be FUN & 
It will be AWESOME.

Join me in a hashtag on Instagram with ‪#‎ggkoolkidsinthekitchen‬.
If you are not on Instagram then you can email me your contributions at gourmetgirlfriend (at) me (dot) com.

Get your kids cooking. Cooking biscuits, cooking pancakes, cooking cakes, rolling pasta, baking veggies, cooking dinner! Just get them in the kitchen cooking REAL food from SCRATCH. 

I am going to be giving away 4 of my Kool Kids packs (valued at $45.00 each) to 4 young people who take part in this activity (packs to be sent out at the end of June.)

You can look at the packs here ~

And you can read the Terms & Conditions here .