Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

When the lovely Claire from ClaireKCreations contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in joining a ‘Foodie Secret Santa’ with other food bloggers from around Australia I squealed with delight. Why of course I’d love to receive gifts in the mail so the answer was yes. She then said its not one present or two, but 3 different presents and I squealed some more!

This was back in November so for the last month I had ideas swirling through my mind as to what I would mail out to my 3 secret Santa participants.

I settled on orange and spice because those flavours remind me of Christmas and decided I’d make dark chocolate coated candied orange peel. I absolutely love orange and chocolate anything and it was so hard not to just polish the plate I had to mail out.

So yes lucky Secret Santa recipient’s, twas I, the Gourmet Wog that made that box of yumminess.

What I didn’t really take into consideration though was the weather and as I was standing at the post office with my 3 goodies all boxed and wrapped up searching through my blackberry to find the email with the recipient’s home address’s is that all 3 were located in the sunny north. QLD. Nice.

My beautifully decorated choc coated orange peel would arrive as one box of melted chocolate mess with orange things floating through it. I’m sure/hope it still tasted good!

I skinned 3 kilos of oranges to get enough peel for 3 participants. It turned out to be just enough and I ended up freezing the actual oranges once they were peeled for later use.

If you’re curious to see what other bloggers received, we tracked our goodies using hashtag #foodiesecretsanta in twitter, facebook and instagram.


What did I receive? Well this lucky gal was just so grateful to receive something other than bills in the mail, and even luckier because all 3 goodies were so delicious. Present one was Bread and Butter Pickles and homemade dukkah, present 2 was home made honey mustard, and present 3 was salted caramel peanut brittle and maple dukkah. Amazing! Thanks Secret Santa!! xx

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

  • 3 kilo’s oranges, peeled.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • About 10 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 200 grams good quality dark chocolate

Remove the skin from the oranges (pith/white part too) and cut into strips. If you’re fussed about presentation or OCD you can make square them up and make them all even in size but I went for the ‘rustic’ look (or the ‘I can’t be bothered doing the extra step because I have a crazy cat two year old running amok beside me). Actually, I like the rustic look, it makes them appear home made!


Put orange peel into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to the boil for 2 minutes. Drain it, then repeat the process 3 times. This helps reduce the bitterness from the peel.

After you do this 3 times, bring all the listed ingredients (except the chocolate) to a boil and simmer away on a mid to low heat for 1 hour until the peel is translucent.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Remove the peel from the syrup and place on a drying rack for a minimum of 6 hours. I did this step at night and left it to dry overnight for a better effect.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and carefully dip each orange peel into the melted chocolate. Place the choc coated orange peel onto some parchment/baking paper to dry.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Once the chocolate has set, you can store them for up to 2 weeks.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel


Vegan Spiced Tahini and Orange Cake aka Tahinopita

Vegan Spiced Tahini and Orange Cake aka Tahinopita

My daughter has started going through a fussy toddler eating stage. It’s not that she doesn’t like the flavours, it’s because she’s defying me and just wants to be stubborn.

The one thing she will eat though is cake.

So everything that comes out of our kitchen is now called cake.

Savoury quiche for dinner? We’re having “ham cake” for dinner tonight! Hooray!

Breakfast? “It’s tomato and cheese omelette cake” Hooray!

After saying the word cake 3 times a day for the last week, I actually woke up with a craving of cake today but couldn’t be bothered to venture outdoors. With no eggs or milk left in the fridge, I started trawling the internet for vegan recipes and came across this beauty. Tahinopita, a Greek tahini cake that is completely vegan and uses no fat, except for the natural oils found in tahini. Hooray!

This cake is not overly sweet. It is however quite dense and a stick to your teeth kind of cake. The tahini flavour is quite dominant but the subtle orange zest does shine through. Perfect with a cup of tea for breakfast!

Vegan Spiced Tahini and Orange Cake aka Tahinopita

  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 ¼ cups plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 tablespoon oil to grease the cake pan

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease your cake pan of choice

Before you pour a cup of tahini, be sure to use a spoon and give the jar a good mix. Beat tahini, sugar and orange zest for 3-4 minutes until fluffy on a high speed. Gradually and slowly add the orange juice until all combined and smooth.



Meanwhile sift together all the dry ingredients and fold into the tahini mix


The mix will be quite dense and not at all like a traditional cake batter. Pour it into you pre-greased tin and bake for 40 minutes. Let the cake cool down before you remove it from the tin.

Pour yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.


Homemade Ricotta Cheese! Easier than you think!

homemade ricotta cheese recipe

“Cheese, I just love cheese! Really I do!!”

Does anyone else remember this cartoon? A little female mouse declaring her love of the good stuff? I remember watching this cartoon on 1001 Rabbit Tales as a young child and it’s the one line that has stuck with me throughout the years.

I can’t say the word ‘Cheese’ without putting on my best southern belle accent ‘I love cheese, really I do!’

Once you’ve tried my recipe for homemade ricotta you’ll never buy the supermarket version again. It’s almost too easy to make it at home and the taste is out of this world. Eat it warm, eat it cold, bake it, spread it, sweet or savoury.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

  • 2 litres full cream milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or plain white vinegar


Pour the milk, cream and salt into a saucepan. Heat the milk, stirring it constantly to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Just before it comes to the boil, add the lemon juice or vinegar, stir it once only and let it simmer it 1-2 minutes only. Remove from the heat and let the pot sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.

seconds after the lemon juice was added

seconds after the lemon juice was added

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth (minimum 2 layers) and place it over a large bowl. Pour the curds and whey gently into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. The liquid collected in the bowl is whey.


After straining at room temperature for an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese.

I usually discard the whey into our vegetable patch, however there are many uses for it from baking with it to bathing in it a la Cleopatra

Homemade ricotta cheese will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge, in a sealed container.

homemade ricotta cheese recipe


I’ve given in and joined Twitter. Yes, it’s time I embrace modern social media and get with the times, so if you would like to hear my head chatter, follow me HERE

While we’re at it, be sure to say hi on my Facebook page and ‘like’ me. You know you want to 😉


Kataifi Kunefe Walnut and Cinnamon Syrup Muffins

Walnut Kataifi Muffin

When Celia posted her IMK post in May, she listed a packet of Kataifi asking for suggestions on how to use the packet. I have to admit; I got so excited about making Greek style Walnut Kataifi and started obsessing over it, salivating over the prospect of popping a sugar and cinnamon filled Kataifi in my mouth.

The dessert we’re making is called Kataifi, as is the name of the packet of soft flaky, noodle like pastry. It can be found in most deli fridges. The Greeks call the dessert Kataifi, and Kunefe in the Middle East.

The day after I saw Celias post, I went to my local deli in my work lunch break and picked up packed of Kataifi eager to get home and make the dessert of my dreams. I brought the packet back to work and stored it in the staff fridge so it stays fresh. Then the unthinkable happened. Someone stole my packet! I was so upset and started to point fingers at my employees, give everyone around me the evil eye and no longer trusted any of my colleagues. I raced to the deli after work but it was closed for the day. I was devastated.

I have since left that workplace. I told my friends who work at other companies and they too don’t trust placing items in the communal staff fridge. Appealing lunches and grocery items have disappeared. Who would do that?!!

So fast forward another week and we went to my mother’s place for dinner. She hadn’t made dessert but said she’d do it when I arrived so “we could take pictures for your blog” Isn’t she sweet?! A packet of Kataifi was chilling in the fridge and I was thrilled!

So here we are in my childhood home, my mother’s warm hands making sweet, luscious, nutty, crunchy, buttery Kataifi.

Kataifi/Kunefe Walnut and Cinnamon Syrup Muffins

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 packet (or 375g) Kataifi pastry
  • 250g butter

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Strips of Lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Start by making your sugar syrup by combining the sugar, water, lemon rind and lemon juice into a pot and bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it boil for 15 minutes until it reduces and thickens. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.

lemon rind and cinnamon sugar syrup

Melt the block of butter (yes it’s a lot of butter but it’s totally worth the calories!!) meanwhile empty the packet of Kataifi into a bowl and gently pry the ‘noodles’ until they’re lightly separated. Pour the melted butter onto the Kataifi and rub it evenly in until the Kataifi is completely yellow.

Kataifi pastry and melted butter

Kataifi pastry and melted butter

Pour melted butter into the Kataifi pastry and use your fingers to evenly distribute

Pour melted butter into the Kataifi pastry and use your fingers to evenly distribute

Meanwhile crush the walnuts in a processor, mortar and pestle or by placing them into a zip lock bag and going for your life with a rolling pin

Combine the crushed walnuts with the cinnamon and sugar.

Now to roll! Place a handful of the buttered Kataifi onto a clean surface and level it out flat. Place two tablespoons of the walnut mix onto the top centre. Fold in the sides of the Kataifi and roll the pastry. As we’re using a muffin tray, the shape doesn’t matter as long as the walnuts are enclosed in the pastry.


Place it into a muffin tin. You don’t need to pre grease the tin as your Kataifi pastry is laden with enough butter to ensure it doesn’t catch.

Kataifi in muffin tray

Repeat with the remaining pastry and walnuts.

Bake the Kataifi muffins at 180 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Pour the cooled down sugar syrup directly into the muffin tray evenly distributing the liquid gold between the muffins.

Kataifi pastry

Allow the sugar syrup to absorb into the Kataifi muffins for at least an hour if you can.


Enjoy with a hot cup of tea. Bliss!

Walnut Kataifi Muffin

2 ingredient Banana and Egg pancakes!


What to have for breakfast? Hmmmm fruit bowl has a banana, eggs in the fridge. Banana in a shake or boil up a couple of eggs? Why not combine the two and have these delicious gluten free banana pancakes that call for NO sugar, flour, salt and no nasties.

That’s right, 2 measly ingredients!!

What results is fluffy, and delicious pancakes that are good for you and you could eat more and more without the guilt. Now, what you choose to pour on top may not make these ‘healthy’ anymore if you’re thinking slatherings of butter, syrup or ice cream, but who cares, the pancakes themselves are guilt free so go nuts!

Perfect for adults and babies alike, this is a great food option for parents who are practicing baby led weaning.

Gluten free Banana pancakes.

  • 1 large banana
  • 2 eggs
  • Oil to grease the pan.

Pick the most ripe banana and mash it up until its gooey. Whisk eggs and combine with the mashed banana. Pour into a hot greased pan and cook on a low to medium heat until one side bubbles. Flip and cook the other side for 30 seconds or until golden brown.

Serve with berries, cinnamon, ice cream, maple syrup, honey, sugar and lemon, coconut butter or whatever floats your boat!

banana egg pancakes

Sweet Pumpkin & Syrup Dessert with Crushed Walnuts

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Me: “Oh gosh I’m stuffed, I ate too much”

Hubby/Sister/Brother/Mum/Dad: “Me too!! Why didn’t you stop when you were full?”

Me: “Because it tasted so good, I kept going back for more”

This is a common conversation between the family following each meal at my parents house. My mum is known for cooking for an army. It’s the Wog thing to do! What should be a simple dinner for the 7 of us when we’re altogether every Wednesday night usually involves a spread fit for a King, lavish by all means with servings that could easily feed 20.

Loosening of belts and buttons is a common occurence. So is the following conversation:

Me: “I don’t think I could fit another ounce of food in my mouth”

My sister: “Oh maybe something sweet though in about half an hour?”

Me: “Oh gosh no, are you serious? I’m stuffed!!”

10 seconds of consideration later:

Me: “hmmmm maybe just a little something sweet!!” 

And so we raid the fridge and freezer. Belly’s singing, sweet tooth’s crying out for attention.

My Mum’s pretty good at whipping up a dessert within a short time span using whatever is on hand. My Dad on the other hand criticises us all for being a ‘Pis Boghas’ which translates from Armenian to English as ‘Dirty Appetites’ and angrily walks away.

So it came as a great surprise when my Dad entered the kitchen last week after our family dinner, pulled out a pumpkin and a packet of walnuts from the freezer (if you weren’t already aware of this, a great trick to keep your nuts fresh is storing them in the freezer) and proceeded to make us all a wonderful sweet dessert, using 3 ingredients! Pumpkin, sugar and walnuts

Babas Sweet Pumpkin with roasted walnuts

  • 2 kilograms pumpkin
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 150 grams crushed walnuts

Peel and dice the pumpkin and place it in a saucepan, cover with the sugar and cook on high covered for 25 minutes. Do not add water. The important thing here is to make sure you add the pumpkin first so it sits on the bottom of the saucepan and add the sugar on top.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

When the pumpkin has softened but is not completely mash, it will release its water that has now, combined with the sugar, turned into a syrup.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Transfer the pumpkin and syrup to a shallow baking dish and grill it on high for 10 minutes till the tips caramelise and go crispy.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Serve the caramelised pumpkin along with the sugar syrup while still warm, sprinkled with crushed walnuts on top.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Apricot Coconut Balls

Apricot Coconut Balls
So here’s the scenario. You have visitors coming over at short notice. You have no time to hit the shops to buy something sweet to go with the tea and coffee you’re going to serve, because your house is a bomb and you need to stay home to clean up. You can spare 5 minutes in the kitchen.

You check your pantry. You have three dessert ingredients! Desiccated coconut, a can of condensed milk and dried apricots. What do you do?! WHAT DO YOU DO?!

Well, you could serve the condensed milk by the spoonful and I’m certain you really would please many (me for instance), or you could make apricot coconut balls, the ultimate no cook quickie, made in a flash!

Apricot Coconut Balls. Makes 25 balls

· 225grams dried apricots, diced finely

· 1 tin condensed milk

· 2 ½ cups desiccated coconut

Apricot Coconut Balls

Combine the dried apricots, condensed milk and 2 cups coconut, mix well with a wooden spoon. Set aside the ½ cup coconut in a separate bowl.

Take small handfuls of the mixture and roll them into balls as large or small as you like. Toss the formed balls into the extra coconut to coat, and set aside on a clean plate.

Apricot Coconut Balls

Place the apricot balls in the fridge to set for a minimum of one hour or until your guests arrive.

The best part about this recipe, is that you can double the ingredients and freeze a batch. Place the balls in a freezer safe container, already rolled and coated in coconut with a layer of baking paper between layers. They hold their shape and freeze well for 3 months so you’ve always got some on hand for a sugar hit, the next school fete, short notice visitors or when you need to take a plate to a party.