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Easy Korean Beef and Broccoli with Garlic Pickled Cucumber

This Korean Beef and Broccoli is my new savoury favourite – the juicy beef mince takes on the perfect blend of sweet, salty and spicy and goes so well with a bowl of rice! It takes the simplest Asian cooking approach and has the aroma from garlic, ginger and spring onions. If that doesn’t sound good enough yet, let me tell you it uses the simplest ingredients (mostly staple) and takes only 15 mins to whip up as a super quick dinner! If you like simple Asian dishes like this, do check out my most popular Japanese Salmon Fried Rice.



 

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Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Born and raised in Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to try cuisines from all over the world easily in the “Food Paradise”. Korean is one of my favourite Asian cuisines as I realised that their savoury dishes tend to lean towards the sweet side, which definitely hits the spot for me. The sauce for this Korean Beef and Broccoli is intense and packed with flavours. I modified the recipe so that it is well-balanced that the sweetness, and saltiness and spiciness can work together without being overpowering. Spoon the sauce over your fragrant, fluffy rice and I guarantee you will keep coming back for more because the sauce is THAT good. To keep the beef tender and soft, try to just cook the beef just enough in the saucepan to let it absorb the goodness of the sauce without being overcooked.

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Chilli Garlic Pickled Cucumber

To pair the main dish, I made a garlic chilli pickled cucumber salad that is THE perfect side dish – it is so refreshing that it got the right kick from the garlic and chilli but still cuts through the intensity of the meat. This side dish is usually available in traditional Chinese restaurants but I thought it’s a good fusion idea. All you have to do is to mix all the ingredients to make the sauce and coat your cucumber well with it. It is best to prepare this dish the night before to let the flavours sink in. I hope you will enjoy this easy recipe. Please let me know your thoughts! Cheers.



Ingredients:

Korean Beef

  • 1 kg regular beef mince
  • 3 garlic colves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 – 1.5 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds, for garnishes

1 Broccoli Floret, cut into pieces

Garlic Chilli Pickled Cucumber 

  • 1 cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp Laoganma Chilli Sauce (you can substitute with other brand’s chilli sauce found in asian groceries store if not available) 
  • 2 tbsp chilli oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions:

Korean Beef with Broccoli

  1. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, water, sesame oil, light brown sugar, black pepper, dried chilli flakes. Set aside.
  2. Wash and cut the broccoli into pieces. Prepare a pot of hot water with 1 tsp of salt to cook the broccoli.
  3. In a large sauce pan, heat up 3 tbsp of oil on medium high heat and cook ginger and garlic until fragrant. Around 2 mins. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. Turn the stove to high heat, add the beef mince in one go and continuously break the meat down with your spatular or wooden spoon while cooking.
  5. Add in the pre-mixed sauce and bring to boil. Turn the stove to medium heat and simmer for 2 mins.
  6. Now it’s the time to cook the broccoli. Boil the broccoli pieces in the prepared hot water for around 3-4 mins, depending on your preferences. I like to reserve the crunchiness of vegetables. Drain and set aside to serve.
  7. Add in spring onions and sesame seeds to the beef before serving.

Garlic Chilli Pickled Cucumber 

1. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 mins, preferably overnight.

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

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Greek-Inspired Halloumi Lamb Sausage Tomato Stew

This hearty, greek-inspired halloumi lamb sausage tomato stew beautifully combines all the familiar greek cuisines flavours – lamb, halloumi, olives, oregano – and it is possibly the best dinner recipe to warm your body (AND SOUL) on a cold night. Cook the sauce in a pan and finish it off in the oven – EASY. The best part of this stew? It definitely is the golden brown, crispy halloumi that tastes divine when perfectly grilled. 

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This recipe was inspired by the Sausage Halloumi Bake by Lucy Loves.  The moment I saw the recipe my mind already went crazy thinking about how good it would taste. If you know me well, you’d know that Greek food is my favourite cuisine and lamb is my favourite meat type at all times, so yeah, I’d kill for a souvlaki lamb wrap right now. Anyway, I wrote this recipe with the three main ingredients in mind – lamb sausage, halloumi and tomato – and I added some twists to it. I always like working with red sauce because it simply never goes wrong; so flavourful and nutritious at the same time. To accentuate the mediterranean theme and to give a little sweetness for taste balance, I added some dried oregano and olives to the sauce as well. 

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You can basically do anything with this stew – eat it on its own, mix it with pasta, or dip it in bread etc. And of course, feel free to use your own imagination and creativity to make changes to the recipe – play with the sausage type and throw in whatever ingredients you like to make it your own best stew. I promise you that you’re going to love it! And again, thanks for reading my blog and have a good weekend! 

Ingredients:

  • 500g lamb sausage, cut into small pieces
  • 200g Halloumi, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, choped  
  • 3 tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp raw sugar (you can adjust the amount of sugar to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup water (optional, if the sauce becomes too dry)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Fresh basil leaves to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until golden brown (they don’t have to be fully cooked as they will continue cooking in the oven). Take them out and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add onions and saute until translucent, about 3-4 mins. Add garlic and cook for another 1 minute (be careful not to burn the garlics). Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, olives, and dried oregano. Cook for about 3 mins until tomato starts to release juice. Add ½ cup of water if the sauce becomes too dry. Add baby spinach and stir and let it wilt. Reduce heat to low, add sausages back to the pan and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer the stew mixture to a baking dish, evenly put the halloumi cheese slices on top. Grill for 15 mins until golden brown.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Yum




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Banana Salted Caramel Mascarpone Parfait




This banana salted caramel mascarpone parfait is everything you’re looking for as a party dessert or romantic dessert for two – it has its own visual impact while pleasing your palate to the last bit. It is intricately layered with light mascarpone cream, banana slices, biscuit crumbs, salted caramel, and topped with salted caramel cream and cocoa powder.




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The idea of making this parfait came up more than a month ago, but I was hesitant to make it because I didn’t have (and didn’t want to spend extra money to buy) the glasses that I thought were the best fit for the parfait. Students’ problems. However, for some reasons, I gave in as the urge of making this dessert became irresistbably strong when I was making tiramisu at work. As you can see, the plastic containers that I decided to use surprisingly looked good in the end!

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This mascarpone cream is essentially the cream used for tiramisu – it’s light and airy using just the simplest ingredients for baking. The recipe for the mascarpone cream is not sweet at all so it’s preferable to use riped bananas and, of course, you can go a little bit crazy with the salted caramel drizzles! To me, the key to a heart-winning parfait is having different layers and textures that well complement each other. For this reason, I added biscuit crumbs in the middle layer as the needed crunch among the smooth. Also, just to accentuate the flavours of salted caramel, I mixed it with the remaining mascarpone cream and pipe little cute blobs dusted with cocoa powder on top as the finishing touch. A small reminder: as the cocoa powder absorbs moisture very quickly after dusting, you should only dust it right before serving.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 50g  salted caramel* (to mix with cream)
  • 80g salted caramel (to drizzle)
  • 2 bananas, thinly sliced
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 70g biscuit, crushed
    * I used the Homemade Salted Caramel recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction for this parfait.

Mascarpone cream

  • 350 mascarpone cheese
  • 250g pure cream (semi-whipped)
  • Sabayon:
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 100g caster sugar  
  • Meringue:
    • 2 egg white
    • 35g caster sugar

 

Instructions:

  1. Semi-whip cream and keep it in fridge until ready to use.
  2. Make meringue by whipping egg white and caster sugar until stiff peak. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. While the meringue is whipping. Put and whisk well egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in bowl. Heat the mixture over bain marie while stirring occasionally to 65C. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on high speed to make sabayon (it’s also called the ribbon stage when the egg mixture becomes pale yellow and thick).
  4. Turn to low speed, add mascarpone cheese to sabayon and mix until incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula, gently fold in the meringue in 2 times until just incorporated. Then, gently fold in the whipped cream just until the mixture becomes homogeneous.
  6. Reserve 200g of cream in the mixing bowl, transfer the remaining mixture to a piping bag topped with a round nozzle.
  7. Add 50g salted caramel to the mixing bowl, mix with the reserved cream on medium cream until well mixed. Set aside.  

Assemble:

  1. Pipe a layer of mascarpone cream into each mould.
  2. Sprinkle biscuit crumbs.
  3. Arrange a layer of banana slices.
  4. Generously drizzle salted caramel.
  5. Pipe another layer of mascarpone cream until it fllls up the mould.
  6. Smoothen the surface with a palette knife.
  7. Squeeze out any remaining cream from the piping bag, and transfer the salted caramel mascarpone cream into the same piping bag. Pipe cream on top.  
  8. Dust with cocoa powder.

Yum




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Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto




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This avocado pesto pasta with crispy prosciutto is super creamy, delicious, and full of nutritional values; basically, the addition of avocado takes the pesto game to a whole new level.

This avocado pesto pasta with crispy prosciutto is super creamy, delicious, and full of nutritional values; basically, the addition of avocado takes the pesto game to a whole new level. The buttery, sweet taste of avocado goes incredibly well with the salty parmesan cheese, and of course, a generous amount of basil leaves would freshen up the overall taste. I made this pasta a while ago but never got the chance to photography it properly. Luckily, this Sunday afternoon, I got my own personal space without school and work and simply enjoyed playing with food in the kitchen (although my peace of mind got disrupted when I accidentally broke my wok’s lid and all the all the glass shattered into a million of pieces..). Oh well.



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When it comes to savoury, I am all about taste and efficiency, and this pasta dish is no exception. To make the avocado pesto sauce, all you have to do is blend all the ingredients in a food processor until it reaches the consistency you want. I personally wouldn’t go too far on that, because I want to have some texture left to bite on. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and you are good to go. To give my pasta little bit of crunch, I also made some crispy prosciutto that complements well with the sauce. Yeap, that’s pretty much it. So if you’re quick, this pasta can be done in 15 mins. Try this recipe and let me know about your thoughts! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 servings of bowtie pasta

Toppings

  • a few pieces of prosciutto
  • Fresh basil leaves to garnish

Pesto

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nut
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package instruction. Reserve some pasta water. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cook the prosciutto in a sauce pan on medium-high heat until fragrant and crispy. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, put all the pesto ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a food processor or blender. Blend until generally smooth (you can retain some texture if you want). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce in the sauce pan. If the sauce is too thick, thin it out by adding some reserved pasta water. Serve immediately with the crispy prosciutto and some fresh basil leaves.

Yum




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Japanese Salmon Fried Rice




Happy Mother’s Day!



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With the aroma of spring onions, garlic and ginger, this salmon fried rice is packed with Asian flavours and it is so flavourful, delicious, and deeply satisfying as a quick-mix meal. Also, it uses minimal ingredients and takes little time to make – excluding the time to cook rice, it takes literally less than 30 mins to finish. Funny enough, this Japanese Salmon Fried Rice was made because I overcooked my salmon fillets one night; just before I surrendered and decided to eat the salmon anyway, my body refused and the idea of breaking the salmon into small pieces to make fried rice popped up. That’s when magic happened.  

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I came up with this recipe taking reference from Just One Cook Book. People usually say it’s best to use leftover rice to make fried rice so that all the grains can remain separated. However, let’s face it – sometimes making fried rice is a last-min decision just because WE CRAVE FRIED RICE AND WE WANT IT TODAY. If that’s the case, you can simply reduce the amount of water used to cook rice ( 85% water :  100% rice) and quickly pop them in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of ingredients.



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To me, the essence of the seasoning of this fried rice has to be sesame oil. Confession: I love adding sesame oil whenever I make Asian dishes, because its strong nutty taste enriches and brings out all the flavours of the dish. Also, I’d recommend using tamari soy sauce as it comes with a stronger taste and aroma.

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If you are an international student like me who loves food, you’d understand how essential it is to do meal prep cost-effectively without sacrificing taste. In Australia, a pack of salmon fillet costs me approximately AUD13. Yes, compared to other meat types like chicken, salmon still remains a luxurious option. But when you think about it, this salmon fried rice can possibly be splitted into 4-5 portions to freeze, so budget-wise it’s not too bad at all :). Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!

Ingredients :

  • 3 cup cooked rice
  • 460g salmon fillet
    • Marinade: 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper)  
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced  
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • white pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the baking pan with aluminum foil. Prepare the marinade and coat the salmon fillets evenly with it. Place the salmon on the foil and loosely wrap it to prevent it from drying out in the oven. Bake for 15-20 mins until cooked through. Let cool and break the salmon into small pieces for later use.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, add 1 tbsp of oil to the wok and heat the wok over medium high heat. When the wok is hot, add the eggs and mix with a spatula until the eggs are almost cooked. Take the eggs out and set aside.
  3. Add another tbsp oil to the wok, add spring onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir-fry until they’re nicely coated with oil and you can smell their aroma.
  4. Add the rice and break the chunk of rice with your spatula. Stir fry until the rice is nicely separated and well mixed.
  5. Add the prepared eggs and salmon pieces to the rice and break them into smaller pieces as you continue to stir fry.
  6. Season the fried rice with sesame oil, soy sauce, white pepper, black pepper and salt. Enjoy while it’s hot.






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A Taste of Heaven @Janice Wong Dessert Bar

You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t update my blog much the past three weeks. The reason being a rainy getaway in Tokyo. The next thing you might notice is that this post is deliberately poetic. It can’t be helped – I felt obligated to express my feelings here after my visit to Janice Wong Dessert Bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Truth be told, I miss being a university student studying English and films a bit too much at the moment.

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Janice Wong, my idol, so bold, so brave, so adventurous, for her my admiration is like a tidal wave – unstoppable and recurring. A renowned Singaporean pastry chef, forever changing and challenging people’s perception of food. What she offers to the world is an edible form of art; she artfully puts forward a performance full of surprises, one that simultaneously stuns and mesmerises her “audience” in the most devilish ways. That said, looking through her dessert menu was eye-opening enough, for every dessert seemed so heavenly and well-designed that I couldn’t wait to devour all of them.

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After some intense struggles, I decided to order Chocolate H2O (please tell me who doesn’t find chocolate irresistible). One of the main factors of the unique eating experience here is that you, as the curious customers, get to witness/engage in the dessert-making process – I could see the focus and passion in the staff’s eyes when they brought the desserts into life, attending to every single detail of the final dish. As I watched, my hungry soul was already aching to have a taste.

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Chocolate H2O (Bitter chocolate water mousse/Salted caramel/ Yuzu kalamansi gel/ Yuzu sorbe) definitely made its presence felt through its visual aesthetics. One thing I can’t resist about Janice Wong’s dessert is how every single element of the dish maneuvers its ways into creating some sheer magic. The bitterness of the chocolate was effectively elevated by the salted caramel, but then balanced by the slightly sour yuzu components. Such a fine combination of flavours made every bite an absolute pleasure – it instantly filled my heart with happiness, as if some sort of ecstasy flew through my blood.

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To end this post, I am going to put up Janice Wong’s philosophy about her approach to food as a timely reminder for myself.

“Welcome to our artistic gastronomic world of flawless imperfection and flawed perfection.

It is not to complex. Open your mind as I have and you will, too, see, taste and feel differently.

These seemingly disparate sources of inspiration and the creation that stem from them are all threaded by a commonality a pursuit for perfection in imperfection, and an appreciation of imperfection in perfection.”

Note to self:

  • Be fearless and resilient, because
  • as long as you know what you’re aiming at, the sky is the limit to how far you should go to achieve it.
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Vibrant lemon curd

Lemon curd is one of the greatest inventions on Earth. I love it because it’s refreshingly sweet & tart at the same time. Making it yourself may sound intimidating enough that you’d opt for store-bought ones in the supermarket. But let me get this straight – making lemon curd yourself only sounds sophisticated – it’s actually SO very easy. In fact, you might start thinking about giving away jars and jars of lemon curd to your friends, family or even your neighbours whenever the occasion calls for it LOL.

Full jar of Lemon Curd
This delicious and simple recipe is by Cupcake Jemma. I first came across her when I was searching for cupcake videos on YouTube. The cupcakes she made in her videos looked so good that I finally overcame my irrational fear of making them, and made my first round as soon as I could (but let’s leave that for next time). I absolutely admire her, for her unquestionable talent in baking, self-confidence, beauty, and tattoos. She has simplified the making process so much that I couldn’t wait to give it a go. And you know what? She didn’t lie; it’s just that simple.
Spoon of Lemon Curd
Once you have made a whole jar of lemon curd (applause!), there are limitless things you can do with it.  Stay tuned, as for the next few blog posts, I am going to share some of my fav lemon curd dessert recipes with you all!

Ingredients:

  • 5 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 110 ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 60g cold chopped butter

Instructions:

  1. Prepare a double boiler. To do so, fill a saucepan with 1-1.5 inches high of water and bring it to simmer. Find a heatproof bowl that fits in the saucepan without directly touching the water.
  2. Put all ingredients except the butter into the heatproof bowl. Using a whisk, stir the mixture continuously but gently to slowly cook the eggs. The lemon curd is ready when it starts to thicken up. This process will take about 5-7 mins. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the cold chopped butter into the mixture. Mix until the butter completely melts.
  4. Put the lemon curd into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

*You may sieve the lemon curd if you want a creamier texture, just remember that you only add the lemon zest in the end. 

 

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Fresh baked Zucchini Maple Yogurt Pecan Bread
Let’s keep the loaf cake/bread train going, shall we? The idea of putting zucchini into desserts sounded absolutely strange to me last year; I mean, why would you do it? It’s a vegetable! If you are having the same doubts now, do read on, I assure you you’ll be convinced.

Freshly sliced Zucchini Maple Yogurt Pecan BreadBecause of the ingredient substitutions (i.e. coconut oil, maple syrup and yogurt etc), I would say this bread is on the devilish side of healthy – something just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, and you’d be dying to devour in the morning (without feeling TOO guilty). Truth be told, you can’t really taste the zucchini much in this bread, but what it does here is to add enough moisture and, of course, loads of nutrients to the final dish. What you get is the right balance of dry and wet, making it moist but not overly gooey. When you add pecans, it creates a nutty crunch that renders the bread a textural feast.
Slice of Zucchini Maple Yogurt Pecan Bread
Is that it? Well, one unmissable element of this bread is orange zest. A bit of this sweet-scented goodness in the cake batter brings about a refreshing aroma, leading you on a journey to a secret citrus patch. Easily whipped up in less than 20 mins and ready to eat an hour later, this bread is a sure win.Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • one orange, zest of
  • 1 cup pecan (~125g), chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease it with butter or oil; set aside.
  2. Shred a medium size zucchini until you get a cup of shredded zucchini. Squeeze shredded pieces with your hand to get rid of excessive water content; set aside.
  3. In a bowl, sift in and combine well the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, yogurt, egg, vanilla, zucchini, orange zest and pecan until smooth.
  5. Pour the dry flour mixture into the wet ingredients in three batches, stirring continuously. Stir the batter gently with a spatula until everything is just incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan several times to break any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 50-55 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When the cake is cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and let it continue to cool on the wire rack before serving. 
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