Archive for April, 2009

Stuffed Capsicums – Cooking Class 3

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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You may be wondering what has happened to our family cooking classes… Well they have continued, even with the busy process of moving. Although there was an added delay due to possibly deleted photos – and I didn’t want to post without photos 😛 . Yay – photos found… now I’ll continue…

Our third family cooking class was a lovely stuffed capsicum dish, with a rice, lamb, onion, tomato and spice stuffing in capsicums which had been boiled in salted water (a step I had never done before) then cooked on the stove (another step I hadn’t done – I’ve always cooked them in the oven) in diced tomatoes and lemon juice.

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It may have taken a bit longer than we had expected, as it often takes a while to figure out what you’re meant to be doing from the recipe and trying to make sure everyone gets a go. They are relatively easy though, even though I mentioned it took a while, especially if you have made the rice or filling beforehand. I’m sure for those who do not want or are unable to get lamb mince, that you could substitute it with beef mince or a vegetable filling of mushrooms, eggplant etc and it would still taste fantastic!

Nonetheless, once you’ve got these capsicums in and cooking, there is plenty of time to make naan bread and/or clean up from the preparation.

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Stuffed Capsicums
Recipe adapted from rice and risotto (sorry I’m not sure of the author as this isn’t from one of my books)

Serves: 6

6 capsicums
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 spring onions, finely chopped
150g minced lamb
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup yellow split peas
1/2 – 1 cup cooked long grain rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon cinnamon
juice of two lemons
2-4 tablespoons tomato puree
400g (one or two cans) chopped tomatoes
tablespoon butter
salt and ground pepper
natural yoghurt and naan bread, to serve

Cut the tops off the capsicums, remove seeds and core. If the capsicums are going to fall over, trim a little off the bottom, so they stand. Cook in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.

Place the split peas in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook onion and spring onions until golden brown. Add the garlic and lamb and cook over medium heat until well browned. Stir in split peas, cooked rice, herbs, cinnamon, juice of lemon and tomato puree into the meat mixture. Stir to combine, then stuff into the capsicums. Place capsicum lids on top.

Place chopped tomatoes, butter and juice of one lemon into a large saucepan. Place capsicums on top of tomato mix with stems upwards. Bring to boil, cover with lid and cook on low/medium for 40-45minutes until peppers are tender.

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Serve with the tomato mixture, yoghurt and naan bread.

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Pear and Raspberry Bread

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Do you think I’ve gone a bit “pear” crazy and obsessed?

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Perhaps…

I love pears… although for the last few years I’ve bought bad batches of them – not ripening, still hard on the outside but rotten inside.

This year I found the quality of pears available here in Sydney were fantastic. So what did I do? Buy, buy, buy!! I ended up buying pears at three different places as I kept finding them for better prices – and I love a bargain!

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This means that I could finally use this lovely recipe that I’ve had for a year now, given to me by a friend at work. I had forgotten all the tips she gave me and have no idea where she got the recipe from, perhaps a magazine or newspaper?

The pear and raspberry bread is unlike a bread, as it contains no yeast. I was hoping for it to be similar to the bought pear and raspberry bread that you buy at café’s and is toasted and served with butter. This bread (or cake) is a bit more crumbly than the bought bread, but the beautiful combination of brown sugar and cinnamon with the pear and raspberries make this a big winner anyway!

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Pear and Raspberry Bread

125g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup unprocessed bran
2 pears, cored, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until mixture lightens in colour. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Sift flours, baking powder and cinnamon and add to mixture with bran. Fold in gently until combined.

Add chopped pears, folding through followed by raspberries – make sure to fold gently to try and keep raspberries intact. Spoon into prepared loaf tin and cook in preheated oven for 1 hour or until browned and cook through. Leave in tin for 10 minutes, remove and cool, then slice thickly.

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Serve as is or toasted under grill and served with butter. Store any leftovers in a container or wrap up cooled slices in plastic and freeze.

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Lemon Curd Friands

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

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I have been introduced to a number of foods (mainly baked goods) at work and one of these was the friand, a lemon curd one to be precise. I tried it a while ago and the colleague at work left before I had a chance to get the recipe. As I knew she read the delicious magazine, and thought I remembered hearing her mention it about the friands, I was excited when I found this recipe from the delicious magazine on Taste.com.au.

When deciding to make them, I made sure I could use up the remaining egg yolks and as Portuguese Custard Tarts are one of my favourite foods now, I made almost a double batch of these to use up the egg yolks.

These friands were lovely, I’m not sure if they were the same as what I had tasted, mine seemed a little denser than I expected. I also realise I probably should have swirled the lemon curd in a bit more into the friand mix too, as it was a bit sticky on the top (or bottom, if you turn them over to show the pretty friand star). The lemon curd complemented the friand perfectly and was lovely for afternoon tea or perhaps even a high tea, which is on my list of things to do 😛 .

Lemon curd friands
Recipe from delicious magazine and also found on Taste.com.au

Makes: 10-12

1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 1/2 cups (185g) almond meal
1/3 cups (200g) pure icing sugar, sifted, plus extra to dust
5 eggwhites
200g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
5 teaspoons lemon curd, plus extra to serve
Whipped cream (optional), to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 10-hole or 12-hole friand pan or line with paper cases.

Mix the flour, almond meal and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggwhites with a fork until foamy, then add to dry ingredients with butter and zest and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Divide batter among friand pans. Place 1/2 teaspoon of curd on each friand and use a wooden skewer to swirl through batter.

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Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden. Cool, then dust with extra icing sugar. Serve with extra lemon curd, and whipped cream if desired.

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Corn Bread

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

After seeing corn bread being made on Food Safari for their USA episode, Nick was inspired to make some. We saw versions using corn kernels, corn off the cob and creamed corn. The ones on food safari looked so easy and very convenient in the muffin tin, that he decided to go with that recipe.

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This was a very easy recipe, just combine all ingredients and spoon into muffin tins. Once cooked they smelled lovely and tasted great when we let them cool down a bit. We had made quite a few muffins and accidentally forgot to take them to share with people, leaving us with quite a few in our container at home (we had also frozen some). When trying these a couple days later they had already started going bad, they weren’t fresh and became a little soggy around the edges. So if you’re likely to not get through all the corn bread on the day of baking or the day after, make sure you individually freeze them!!!

I think it would be lovely with a bit of crispy bacon on top… perhaps next time.

Corn Bread
Recipe from Food Safari

Makes: 12 muffins ( I can’t remember if Nick doubled the recipe – ours made 24 muffins)

½ cup polenta
1½ cup self raising flour
½ cup castor sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 cup of creamed corn
1 cup full cream milk

Mix polenta and self-raising flour, castor sugar, salt, melted butter and eggs.

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Add creamed corn and milk. Mix until you get a nice creamy consistency.

It took a bit of mixing to get to this stage, and was a bit lumpy (perhaps we should have added the creamed corn and milk a bit at a time)

It took a bit of mixing to get to this stage, and was a bit lumpy (perhaps we should have added the creamed corn and milk a bit at a time)

Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown in color.

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Remove muffin tray from the oven and let them cool until they are ready to be remove from the tray.

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Once cooled either store in air-tight container for up to one day or alternatively wrap indivually with cling film and store in freezer. Remove from freezer and thaw when required, heating in microwave or oven to make a bit fresher.

Vodka Cream Pasta

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

You won’t be single for long!!!

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Well, this is what was claimed on TV, when a family member of mine saw this recipe on a TV show, with women claiming that once they made this for their partner they were proposed to.

Wow! This pasta must be a absolutely fantastic for someone to propose after eating it. (I must admit there are some foods were I would have seriously considered accepting a proposal, although they tended to be decadent chocolate desserts 🙂 yep, that’s me – loving the desserts!)

So we decided to make the pasta and I’ll admit that I’ve made it more than once as it’s very easy, with few ingredients and quite tasty.

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I wasn’t proposed to immediately after Nick tried this pasta – let’s say maybe a year after (does that still count?) 😛

I wouldn’t go on to suggest that anyone will be proposed to after serving this pasta, it is good, but not propose-worthy good. I would suggest trying it though, if it’s a Friday night and you can’t be bothered spending too long on dinner.

I have tried this without the vodka too – with skeptics suggesting it didn’t contribute to the pasta at all (as most is steamed out of the dish). So after trialing out the non-vodka version, it still tasted good, there was some small taste missing, so I would recommended adding a little or half the vodka if the budget is tight or you really hate vodka, otherwise try the whole amount and alter the recipe from there.

Vodka Cream Pasta

Recipe from Foodnetwork.com

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 brown onion, finely diced
½ -1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (820g)
Coarse salt and pepper
500g pasta, such as penne or fettuccine
½ cup heavy or thickened cream
Fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn, to serve
Herb or crusty bread, to serve

Heat a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic and onion. Gently sauté onion for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to pan. Reduce vodka by half; this will take 2 or 3minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

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While sauce simmers, cooks pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente. While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Serve pasta with crusty bread.

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Easy Chocolate Brownies

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

This is a recipe I use a lot and as Sarah has requested on my About page, I’ve gotten around to posting it 🙂

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This is one recipe where I have no idea where it originated. I received it from someone at uni, who got it from someone at uni… and I don’t know where they got it from.

I’ve doubled the recipe, because there really is no point in only making just one batch (16 brownies) of these (as you can freeze left-overs and take them to work or school). They are great! And even though there are other more decadent recipes for chocolate brownies, which include rich chocolate pieces and toasted nuts, these are easy and pretty cheap too!

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Chocolate Brownies

Makes: 32 brownies

250g butter
1 cup cocoa
4 eggs
2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or imitation vanilla
1 cup self-raising flour
1 heaped cup dark choc bits, plus a few tablespoons extra

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for a fan forced oven). Grease and line two 20cm square cake tin.

Put butter into saucepan and melt over low/medium heat. Add cocoa and whisk until well blended and smooth. (Add extra choc bits at this stage). Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Don’t be tempted to lick the whisk… many a passer-by have succumbed to it’s beauty… but cocoa and butter just isn’t as good as it looks! :)

Don’t be tempted to lick the whisk… many a passer-by have succumbed to it’s beauty… but cocoa and butter just doesn't taste as good as it looks! :)

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and caster sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

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Beat in butter and cocoa mixture and vanilla essence. Sift flour over the top and fold in gently. Then fold in dark choc bits.

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Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 40-45 mins or until firm to touch at the centre. Take care not to over bake the brownies as they dry out. (If you accidentally undercook them, just say they were meant to be fudgey brownies 🙂 .

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Leftover brownies can be frozen and thawed at room temperature.

Almond Butter Biscuits

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

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One of my favourite memories of foods growing up is these almond butter biscuits. I remember getting a few at the beginning of every school year and always wanting more and requesting them throughout the year.

Melt in your mouth Heaven… with a bit of crunch from the almonds dusted in sweet icing sugar. The icing sugar can be a bit of a mess when eating, especially over black clothes, although this is a small price to pay for something so good.

Almond Butter Biscuits

Makes around 50 biscuits

8oz (250g) butter or margarine (I use salted butter)
3 tablespoons castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
¾ cup chopped blanched almonds or slivered almonds
1/2 – 1 cup icing sugar or mixture

Cream butter with sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

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Sift flour and salt together and blend into creamed mixture then stir in almonds (make mixture just stiff enough to be able to roll it into balls in hand i.e. add a little more flour if necessary).

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Place in balls the size of walnuts or in crescent shapes on an ungreased tray.

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Bake in moderate oven (180°C/350°F) for 15 minutes. Remove from tray and cool slightly. Roll in icing sugar. (Sift icing sugar on the bottom of the biscuits first then on the top)

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White Chocolate Mud Cake

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

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Ever since trying the first white chocolate hazelnut mud cake muffin as a potential for our wedding cake I have thought and thought about trying to get a great recipe.

First off, I decided to trial out a White Chocolate Mud cake without the hazelnuts (although I hope to add ground hazelnuts to the next one I try). I found this recipe on a website which gives great variations for the recipe, from dark chocolate to white chocolate, caramel and chocolate with hazelnut mud cakes.

I decided to make this cake as a thank you to those at work for their lovely present and well-wishes for my Wedding (yes, a long-ish time ago now). The cake is lovely and moist, with beautiful subtle flavours. The combination of the glaze with the cake worked wonderfully.

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I had to cook the cake for a lot longer than the recipe stated and as I didn’t have a solid round tin, I had to use a springform tin instead, with a tray underneath to catch drips. The glaze didn’t turn out exactly how I had hoped, as it was a little too runny – I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t let it cool enough. I had made slightly less glaze (due to a shortage of cream in the house) in case anyone was wondering why I didn’t have enough to fully cover the cake.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and I’ll try and keep you updated with my next trial/s. 🙂

White Chocolate Mud Cake
(Recipe by kel11 on HubPages)

350g white chocolate pieces
225g butter
600ml water
3 eggs
400g (almost 2 cups) castor sugar
400g (2 ¾ cups) self-raising flour

Chocolate Glaze
225g chocolate pieces
165ml double or whipping cream

Grease and line a 23cm/ 9” round cake tin (use a non-spring-tin as it will probably leak a little). Preheat oven to 170ºC, 150ºC fan forced.

In a saucepan over low heat, heat chocolate, butter and water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

White chocolate, butter and water melted

White chocolate, butter and water melted

In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Gradually beat cooled chocolate mixture into eggs. Whisk sugar and flour into chocolate mixture, continue until smooth and well blended.

Pour mixture into cake tin. Cake for 45 minutes or until skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.

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Turn cake onto wire rack to cool.

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Chocolate Glaze
In a saucepan over low heat, heat chocolate and cream, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Keep warm.

Once cake is cooled, you can cut the cake into layers and spread a truffle mixture through – see the original recipe.

Place the cake on wire rack and pour warm glaze over the top. With a palette knife spread glaze to cover top and size evenly.

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Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

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I love the smell of hot cross buns and raisin toast… although the only problem with these is my dislike for raisins and sultanas and other dried fruits. Luckily there are chocolate chip hot cross buns sold at many shops now, which have the lovely spices, without the fruit and with the addition of chocolate. Yum! Around Easter time, I would normally buy a packet a week, eat a few, freeze some, take some to work… and best of all, cut them open, toast and put a little butter on top…

What’s better than store bought ones – Fresh Home-made Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns!! These are the best (almost) straight out of the oven, or at least on the same day as baking. The next day they are already not as fresh, and probably require being heated and/or toasted under the grill, with the addition of butter (if you so wish).

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I thought I’d share this recipe before the Easter weekend for anyone wanting to make them. If the thought of waking up and smelling fresh fragrant hot cross buns sounds appealing and the thought of actually making them after waking up doesn’t sound as appealing – I’ve gone to the effort to test whether the mixture can be made the night before, with the second rising of dough done overnight in the fridge. The results: they did not rise as much as I had hoped overnight, maybe half the amount the normal batch did (not sure whether I was supposed to let it rise before putting in the fridge). After baking in the morning, they still hadn’t risen as much as the normal buns, although they had the same lovely flavour and texture – so I would recommend it if you are low on time for the morning.

Enjoy and have a great Easter long weekend!

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns
(Recipe from Woman’s Day)

Makes: 9 buns

150 ml milk, warmed
8g sachet (1 tablespoon) dry yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
50g butter, chopped
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 egg

Crosses
1-2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons water

Glaze
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons caster sugar

Preheat oven to hot, 200°C. Lightly grease a 22cm square cake pan.
In a medium jug, combine milk, yeast and sugar. Leave in a warm place for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is frothy.

Activated yeast

Activated yeast

Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bowl. Using fingertips, rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through chocolate chips and sugar.

Whisk egg into yeast mixture. Add to flour mixture and mix to form a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Smooth dough

Smooth dough

Place in lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Wait until it's doubled in size

Wait until it's doubled in size

Punch dough down once with fist to release gas. Knead lightly. Divide dough into 9 equal pieces. Knead each piece until smooth. Shape into rounds. Arrange in pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and stand 20 minutes, in a warm place, until doubled in size.

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Buns that have risen - you could certainly leave it to rise for a bit longer

Buns that have risen - you could certainly leave it to rise for a bit longer

Crosses: in a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa and water to create a smooth paste. Pipe crosses on buns. Bake 12-15 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped.

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Glaze: in a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, without stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 1-2 minutes, until mixture thickens slightly. Brush over hot buns. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

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Toasted under the grill and serve with some butter

Toasted under the grill and serve with some butter

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Midori Splice

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Bold cocktails are beautiful, especially when layering is involved. And anything that takes you back to a relaxing holiday on a beach is a definite… either on holiday or back home.

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Even though it is getting cooler here in Sydney at the moment, I’m sure there’s still space for a cocktail or two, perhaps on the upcoming long weekend…

The addition of the coconut rum really makes this cocktail remind me of summer, the beach and relaxing. The beautiful layering of green, yellow and white also inspire holiday-like day-dreaming.

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Midori Splice

Serves: 1

1 shot (30ml) Malibu (Coconut rum)
1 shot (30ml) Midori
Pineapple juice
Ice
Thickened or Fresh Cream

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Put ice in a tall glass. Pour in Malibu and Midori.
Fill glass with pineapple juice (leaving about 3-5cm at the top). Pour on cream. Serve and relax.

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