Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Make a Nappy Cake (and Sock Roses)

Not quite a food post....but it's still a cake.....

My dear sweet friend Danuta had invited me to her baby shower so this was a great opportunity for me to try make a nappy cake. It's fiddly I must admit but if I can do it, so can you. I did need a couple more hands to help me out (while I took photos of course) but other than that it's achievable.

Danuta and I have known each other since kindy, we went to primary, high school and uni together and she was one of my 5 bridesmaids. We've also lived on the same street together for the past 23 odd years. Some of my fondest memories were spent with her, her sister (Teresa - who also did an awesome job organising the baby shower!) and I in my front yard chatting and playing Big 2 after school and on the weekends......good times they were : ) So she's a special friend of mine and deserves a special gift. Ok enough of the soppy stuff.....onto the nappy cake.....
What you need
- Newborn nappies (a box of huggies has 108 nappies but I think I used around 40-50. Depends on on how big and how many tiers you want)
- A box of rubber bands
- Maybe a dowel to hold the tiers in place (although I used the cardboard roll from the cellophane)
- Sticky tape
- String
- Ribbons
- Cellophane
For the base you can buy a cake base but I just cut up a nappy box and folded it over to make sure it's thick and strong, then covered it with foil.
Finally, you'll need various baby items to decorate (I used 3 pack baby blanket, thermometer, baby lotion, baby oil, cutlery set, socks and a hooded towel)

Lay the nappy face down with the "open" side towards you
Roll it up towards the "closed" end

Secure with a rubber band

Space the rubber band out so the nappy holds it's shape better and more securely (not necessary, but I can be a bit anal....)

The stack of nappies
Bottom tier - surround the cardboard roll with the nappies and secure with rubber band

Add more nappies and tie a string around to keep them in place

Before you cover the bottom tier, start on the middle tier (trust me, it's just easier to do this now). Slide this off so you can cover the bottom tier with a blanket
Another view

Wrap the blanket around the bottom tier like so...
and tie string around the bottom tier to keep the blanket in place

Make sure you gather it around the roll neatly (and in our case the blanket wasn't long enough to go the full way around so we cut some blue paper just to hide the nappies....again not necessary but yeah....anal....)
More example of the gathering

Yeah I think you guys get the picture now

Secure a rubber band at the top

Remember how we started on the second tier before? Well slip that back on now

Wrap the second tier with another blanket, tie it up with string

Top tier - I used the hooded towel as my top tier and shoved the last blanket at the top to hide the carboard roll

Using larger ribbon (maybe 2cm width) tie them around each tier to hide the string. Then place your baby items all around and secure with smaller ribbon

But wait there's still more!
Sock Roses!

Lay the sock down with the toe part towards you

Roll it up towards the opening

Make sure there is the "bud" forming

Once you get to the end, fold the opening inside out covering the base of the flower

Sock rose or flower

Pin the sock roses carefully onto the blankets (as you don't want to pierce any nappies) and voila!

Side view

Back view

Other side view

Cover it in cellophane and tie the top off with ribbon and you have your nappy cake

Congratulations Danuta and Simon!
May your little man be blessed with good health, a loving soul and a happy life : )

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chorizo Pasta

This is probably my favourite pasta to cook because it's so simple and delicious. You don't need many ingredients because the chorizo oil provides the flavour....mmmmmm chorizo oil.....

2 chorizos
1 diced onion
2 garlic cloves
1 can diced tomatoes
400-500g pasta
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
100ml cream (optional)

1. Fry the sliced chorizos and set aside. DO NOT throw out the chorizo oil. Leave it in the pan to cook the other ingredients
2. Cook the diced onion and garlic

3. Add the can of diced tomatoes (I only had whole tomates at the time but it still works. Crush them or break them to segments while you are cooking and stirring)

4. Add the parsley, salt and pepper

5. Add the cooked chorizo and simmer for around 10mins

6. Option - add the cream before you are about to serve. Stir well.

Serve over cooked pasta

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bistro Lilly

A rare dinner for 2 at a nice restaurant without the kids. Comes by once a year ; )
I picked Bistro Lilly for our 5 year wedding anniverary. I was after something nice but not over the top or too extravagant. Did some research and eventually decided on Bistro Lilly. It was their fast courteous email reply that won me over.

The specials currently available are 2 courses for $39 or 3 courses for $46 where you must arrive before 6.30pm. Or you could go for the 5 course degustation for $69. We went for the early bird 3 course special.
Nice romantic ambiance

Optional extra - Bread roll, roast garlic and truffle butter ($1.75pp)

Entree 1 - Polenta Dusted Baby Calamari, Basil Aioli and Rocket
Baby calamari are the way to go! They were so tender and they had a nice crunch with the polenta curst. The basil aioli was very subtle. Mmmm good dish.

Entree 2 - Truffled Duck Liver Pate, Cherry Vinegar, Red Onion Relish and Toasted Brioche ($19 off ala carte menu)
For me, I'm don't like pate so I can't say I enjoyed this. But my husband thought it was lovely : )

Mains 1 - 180 day Grain Fed Angus Beef Fillet, Sauteed Spinach and Shiraz ($35.90 off ala carte menu)
Our version tonight came with pumpkin puree, mash and onion relish. The steak was awesome! Seriously, the knife just slid down the meat. Really beautiful. And cooked just as we asked.

Side - Crisp Royal Blue Potatoes Lyonnaise ($9.50)
Very good. But again with the onion relish?
Main 2 - Confit Duck Leg, Braised Red Cabbage, Caramelised Pears and Chestnuts ($34.90 off ala carte menu)
On the night the ingredients were changed slightly. It was broccolini with pomegranate sauce. This was gorgeous! Loved the crispy duck skin and the fall apart meat. And the pomegranate sauce goes really well with the duck.

And to my camera battery died just before the entree : ( Couldn't believe it. Oh well. I ended up having the Vanilla Bean Brulee with Lavender Sable. Lovely and creamy with the ever important top you can crack with a spoon. My husband chose the White Chocolate Parfait, Liquorice and Fresh Raspberries. He absolutely adored this. And I was impressed with the Liquorice Parfait as I don't like liquorice in it's "normal state" but this was really good.
My one gripe? Onion relish was a bit of an overkill. Only the pate (entree) mentioned onion relish so to get it on the beef (mains) and potatoes (side) was a bit too much. Or I guess it's just bad luck that those were the dishes my husband chose.
Overall, a really nice place. Not too fancy, smart casual (but a couple rocked up in jeans and a t-shirt) and the service was attentive - our water was filled up regularly without any need to hail someone down. Har! We got a phone call in the middle of entree to see if we still wanted to keep our booking ha ha ha!

Happy 5 year anniversary : )
Love forever

Monday, October 11, 2010

Baked Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Creamed Corn

I first had this dish a couple of years ago from Cafe De Coral in Hong Kong. This "Cafe" is actually a fast food franchise which popped up everywhere we went....guess it was Hong Kong's equivalent to our MacDonalds. And like MacDonalds, we ate here a lot, possibly way too many times considering there were so many other great places we could have eaten at. Still, at least I came away with this dish : )

4 pork chops
2 cloves garlic
1 onion (cut into wedges)
1 tin diced tomatoes
1/2 can creamed corn
1 cup chicken stock
1 capsicum (cut into wedges)
4 cups cooked rice
Diced tasty cheese (about 150g but that's a guess because I just throw on whatever I have or feel like)
Salt and Pepper

1. Heat a pan, shake some salt and pepper on the pork chops then cook it for about 2mins each side (doesn't have to be cooked through as you will be adding other ingredients and placing in oven later).
2. Add the garlic and onions and cook for further 5mins.

3. Add the tin of tomatoes, creamed corn and chicken stock, cook another 5mins.

4. Meanwhile, spread the cooked rice out on a casserole dish.

5. Add the capsicum, stir and taste to see if you need more salt or pepper.

6. Pour the pork chop mixture over the rice.
6. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake in the oven for around 20mins.

Or in our case we add LOADS of cheese

Fresh out of the oven