Sunday, November 22nd, 2009


I love scones. Almost nothing is as good as jam and whipped cream on some fresh scones.


Even better is when they’re so quick and easy to make – and these ones surely are. They were seen on a masterclass show on MaterChef, although had dates and lemon. I’m sure this flavour combination would be great, but without them the recipe is lovely.



Recipe adapted from MasterChef’s Date and Lemon Scone recipe

150ml-175ml milk
150ml cream
1 egg
3 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Cream & jam, to serve

Preheat oven 200°C fan forced. Line large flat oven tray with baking paper.

Whisk 150ml milk, cream and egg together until well combined. Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir gently to a soft dough, adding remaining milk if necessary. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together.

Press dough out to 2cm-thick.


Cut scones from dough and place onto tray flat-side up. Press dough together gently and repeat using the remaining dough.


Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen. Serve hot with jam and cream.



Butterscotch Surprise Cake

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009


In my family, we get to choose our own dinner and cake for our birthday. I tend to choose the same thing each year (most of us choose chicken schnitzel), although this year I decided on Beef Wellington (as we had chicken schnitzel a few days prior to my birthday dinner). For my cake I chose the cake I choose every year – a butterscotch surprise cake.


I love butterscotch, so this cake (as well as butterscotch puddings) are among my favourite. The cake consists of light and lovely vanilla cake, with a swirl or line of butterscotch in the middle.

It’s a little more difficult than the recipe suggests and my mum had to do a bit of experimenting to get the layering right. If there’s not enough cake on the bottom, the butterscotch sinks, and if there’s not enough on top, you can’t cover the butterscotch. Trying to spread a thick cake mix over a reasonably liquid butterscotch is quite difficult. My mum’s trick is to place 2/3rds of the cake mix on the bottom and level the top, then add the butterscotch and spoon the remaining cake on top, spreading gently and cautiously with a fork.


Let me know if you give it a go – it is my favourite!

Butterscotch Surprise Cake

Recipe from AWW Menu Planner No.5 1988

125g butter, softened
¾ cup castor sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup plain flour
½ cup self-raising flour
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Butterscotch Filling
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons custard powder
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons butter
1 egg

Note: Cake can be made up to 2 days ahead; store in an airtight container. This recipe is unsuitable to freeze or microwave.

Combine butter, sugar, eggs, sifted flours, milk and essence in large bowl of electric mixer, beat on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until smooth and lighter in colour.

Spread half the cake mixture into greased 20cm ring pan, pour butterscotch filling evenly over mixture, top with remaining cake mixture.






Bake in moderate oven 30 to 40 minutes, stand 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool. Dust top with sifted icing sugar when cold.



Butterscotch Filling: Combine brown sugar and custard powder in saucepan and gradually stir in milk. Stir constantly over heat until mixture boils and thickens, stir in butter, cool 5 minutes, stir in egg, use while warm.





Macarons – Daring Bakers Challenge October 2009

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Unfortunately, my two attempts at this recipe were quite disappointing. I had made macarons a few times before (not having perfected them…yet), so I thought I would manage quite well and hoped that this would be the perfect recipe and the macarons would look gorgeous. This was not the case. My macarons looked worse than all other trials – including my first one, when I didn’t even know what they should look like. The macarons didn’t form “feet”, didn’t have a nice crisp top – they just puffed a bit in the oven then the top dried a bit and they sunk back down. Fortunately they were still moist and tasted quite good.

For the filling, I made salted caramel which had mixed reviews. Most people enjoyed it immensely, others found it extra sweet, and I just found the taste a bit strange, I think I’m just not a caramel liking person, unfortunately. I like butterscotch, flavours, so I’m not sure why I don’t like caramel?


I made two batches of this recipe, as I thought the first time it mustn’t have worked because, perhaps I didn’t beat my meringue mixture enough (as it says stiff peaks and other recipes state glossy meringue), or that drying them out in the oven caused the problems that occurred. Neither seemed to be the cause, I decided to keep beating the meringue, but it just would not form a glossy meringue. Either I put my KitchenAid on too fast and over beat the meringue, added my sugar too late or there may not have been enough sugar to form the meringue, although I’m not totally sure.

I have decided to share all my previous macaron experiences with you all, to give you an idea of problems I have had through each recipe, as well as give everyone suggestions for recipes they may or may not like to try. I never got around to posting these (apart from the latest one), as each had something slightly wrong with it (not necessarily the recipe, most are my mistakes while learning and trying to achieve the perfect macaron, inside and out).

The following photo was my first ever attempt at macarons and was Nigella Lawson’s pistachio macarons from How to be a domestic goddess. The recipe did not state to leave the macarons to form a skin, resulting in biscuit looking macarons. This flavour was beautiful and as I recall the inside texture was also lovely, with the only problem being the look. They had half the recipes’ pistachio buttercream in them (the full amount is way too much, like stated on many other blogs).


After reading many more macaron tips, I had decided to trial out the pistachio macarons using Syrup and Tang’s French meringue method (replacing the almond meal for pistachio meal). After leaving them to sit for half and hour the formed quite lovely macarons that probably could have been beaten a few more times, for a better look and because they were a bit meringue-y still. Also – half almond, half pistachio may have worked better. I filled these with a rosewater buttercream. (For the buttercream: 25g butter, 1/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1/8 teaspoon rose water – beat the butter till soft and lightened in colour. Beat in the cream, then the sifted icing sugar or mixture with the rose water).


I had heard that the Italian meringue method was by far the most reliable and best around, I used Syrup and Tang’s Italian meringue method for these macarons. The two problems I had (apart from my enthusiasm with the pink food colouring) were the sugar syrup forming large chunks when drizzled into the egg white mix, as well as bumpy tops. The first problem may have occurred as my sugar thermometer didn’t reach into the sugar syrup, so I had to keep tipping the saucepan up to read the temperature. This disruption may be the cause of the sugar lumps. The second problem may have been able to be fixed by beating the mix a few more times. I would like to try this again as the inside was lovely and moist, filled the entire shell and seemed the perfect consistency. These were filled with white chocolate and raspberry ganache from Gourmet Traveller.


The recipe that produced the most beautiful macaron was Helen’s from Tartlette. Helen’s recipe produced a gorgeous glossy smooth top with pretty feet. My only problem with these were a bit of a hole under the shell of the macaron – could this be an oven problem? I filled these with a simple chocolate ganache.


My latest trial were hazelnut macarons, which had a beautiful flavour, although were lacking slightly in appearance.



Recipe adapted by Ami S from Claudia Felming’s The Last Course.

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.) (I used castor sugar)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature) (I aged mine overnight at room temperature, covered in a paper towel)

Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).


Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored. (I also tried leaving them at room temperature for 30 mins at room temperature, bu they still didn’t rise like they should).


Cool on a rack before filling.

I filled my macarons with salted caramel

Salted Caramel

Recipe from Chef Pang Kok Keong on Chubby Hubby’s blog

200g sugar
1 vanilla pod
200g cream
3.75g fleur de sel (I used salt flakes, as that’s all I had 🙁 )
140g butter, chilled

In a 1 litre heavy based pot, cook the sugar, stirring all the time to get an even caramel. Then add in the vanilla pod, scraped. Add in the warm cream a bit at a time as it will bubble up and splatter. Then add in the fleur de sel. Stir to make sure all the caramel has dissolved. Cool the mixture to approximately 40 degrees Celsius. Add in the well chilled butter, cut into cubes. Using an immersion blender, blend in the butter till you achieve a smooth glossy paste. Line the surface of the caramel with plastic wrap or greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the fridge until needed.



Monday, October 19th, 2009


I have quite a good memory when it comes to foods I want to cook.

After watching an episode of Food Safari a year ago, we still hadn’t made one of the lovely Greek dishes we watched being made. Finally, we had the ingredients and I am so happy to have tasted this great dish.


With layers of crisp filo pastry and melted butter, filled with feta, ricotta and spinach it was marvelous! Even for those who dislike spinach, I would suggest giving this a go.

We had a few problems with the filo pastry getting stuck together, as we used the frozen pack of filo pastry, which just doesn’t pull apart as easily as the fresh packs. Although, once cooked, we couldn’t notice the tears of pastry in the layers.


We’ve already made this again, and just a note – even if your spinach is a bit old and wilted, still use it – it still tastes great!


Recipe from Food Safari

Serves: 8

1 bunch (about 320g) English spinach or silverbeet
2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped (optional, I use it when I have it)
4 green shallots, chopped (if I don’t have green shallots, I use a small onion, chopped finely)
300g feta cheese
100g ricotta cheese (sometimes I just make it half/half for ricotta and feta, or more ricotta, either way it tastes great)
40g (½ cup) finely grated hard cheese like kefalograviera, parmesan or pecorino
5 eggs
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
60ml olive oil
Melted butter or olive oil for greasing dish
375g packet fresh (not frozen) filo pastry
185ml melted butter, approximately

Trim the roots from the English spinach, or if using silverbeet, remove leaves from tough stems. Wash leaves and drain well. Coarsely shred the leaves and tender stalks of the spinach and set aside.

Place the feta in a large bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Add the ricotta, kefalograviera, eggs, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, pepper and oil. Mix with the fork to combine. Add the spinach and set aside while preparing the pastry case.

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm x 5cm deep baking dish.

Lay the filo out on a bench. Cover with a dry tea towel then a damp one to keep it from drying out. Line dish with a sheet of filo and butter the filo. Top with another sheet of filo and butter and continue until about half the sheets of filo are used.

Using your hand or a large metal spoon, gently mix the spinach filling until thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared pastry base and spread evenly. Top with remaining filo, buttering each sheet, ensuring the final sheet is well buttered. Trim any overhanging pastry and tuck in the sides.


Use a sharp knife to mark pastry top into diamonds, allowing the knife to pierce the pastry once or twice to allow air to escape during baking. Sprinkle lightly with water and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until well browned and set. Gently shake the pan and the spanakopita will slide easily when cooked. Cover with foil if over browning. Cool on rack for 15 minutes before cutting to serve.



Note: The spinach can be prepared a day ahead. It must be as dry as possible to ensure the spanakopita does not become soggy.


Caramelised Onion Tart

Sunday, September 6th, 2009


Now what am I supposed to do with 10kg of onions? Some may think it’s a little crazy to buy 10kg of onions – especially for me who really didn’t fancy them and used to pick them out of every meal (Sorry Mum).

Well, this is the second time we’ve bought a bag this big and we easily went through the last one. I wanted to make both a caramelised onion tart and French onion soup with the onions, but never got around to it. This time I made sure we made use of these onions and tried some new recipes.


And we are so happy to have tried this recipe. I can’t wait to make it again. It was absolutely gorgeous, very easy and didn’t require many ingredients or steps. As long as you’ve got someone who doesn’t cry too much cutting onions, you’ll be fine and it’s easy. It even heated up quite well at work – an extra bonus!


Caramelised Onion Tart

Serves: 4 mains or 8 small entrees

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brown onions, sliced
3 sprigs thyme
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
14 Kalamata olives, chopped (pits removed)
2 sheets puff pastry

Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan forced).

Heat a saucepan on medium heat. Add butter and oil, once bubbling add onions and thyme and continue to stir. After a few minutes add the salt, sugar and honey and continue to cook and stir until onions become translucent and eventually caramelise. This will take 10-20 minutes.

Place each sheet of puff pastry on a baking paper lined tray and cook in oven for 5-10minutes, until starting to brown very slightly. Remove from oven and place caramelised onions on top, leaving a 2cm border around the edges. Top with sliced olives and place back in the oven and cook for 10-20 minutes, until the pastry is nice a golden brown colour. (It may puff a little, but will deflate once taken out of the oven).



Spicy Pumpkin Bread

Friday, August 21st, 2009


Nick loves making breads… Naan bread, tortillas, bread rolls… and I love eating bread!!!! Therefore, I would say we work very well together 🙂

So when Nick said he wanted to make some pumpkin bread, I was all for it!

He was a little suspicious that it was an actual bread due to the exception of yeast… can you really have a bread without yeast? Maybe…


Either way, it is a lovely savoury pumpkin bread (or loaf) with a brilliant orange colour, great flavours of spices and works especially well for morning tea or with a meal.

Spicy Pumpkin Bread
Recipe slightly adapted from

Melted butter, to grease
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mild chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
450g (1 cup) mashed cooked pumpkin
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
60g butter, melted, cooled
2 eggs, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush an 11 x 21cm (base measurement) loaf pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

Place the pumpkin, milk, butter and egg in a jug, and use a whisk to stir until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, and stir with a large metal spoon until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle evenly with pepitas.


Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven. Set aside in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.


Note: You’ll need to steam about 500g peeled, deseeded, chopped pumpkin for this recipe. This bread is great for sandwiches and as an accompaniment to a chargrilled lamb salad.

Mushroom and Cheese Strudel

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009


Sometimes you find good recipes from the strangest of sources.

I find great recipes on the internet, food blogs, magazine sites, magazines and my lovely books (even if many of the recipes from them are already on the internet somewhere, they’re just lovely to have).

But… even though I have all these resources available to me, I still sometimes take the recipes card at supermarkets, and this particular time, it paid off. I tend to like the look of many of the mushroom-based recipes on the recipe cards from a mushroom growers group (I think).


This strudel is lovely and slightly sweet due to the honey, and creamy due to the brie. It is great for a light(ish) meal, served with a salad or steamed vegetables.

Mushroom and Cheese Strudel
Recipe from a Mushroom pamphlet 🙂

Serves: 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onions, halved, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons honey
500g button mushrooms, sliced
150g brie cheese, chopped (it’s easier to chop if you put it in the freezer for a bit)
1-2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and ground black pepper
2-3 sheets frozen ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten (or a little milk, for glazing)

Preheat oven 200°C. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes or until soft and light golden. Stir in the honey, cook for 2 minutes.

Add mushrooms, increase heat to high and cook for 8 minutes or until all the liquid evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.


Stir the cheese, parsley and salt and pepper into the mushroom mixture.

Cut each sheet of pastry in half, place one half onto a greased baking tray or one lined with baking paper, and allow room for spreading. Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly over the pastry halves, leaving a 1-2cm border around the edges. Place the other halves on top, pressing the edges together or folding them over and using the back of a knife to press the pastry ever 1-2cm of the pastry to create a nice edges.




Cut a cross in the centre, brush with egg and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.



Coconut and Cardamon Burfi

Friday, July 24th, 2009


If you’re still not full after that entire banquet, perhaps you should make a few more naan breads, as this Indian sweet won’t fill you up, but it will end the meal very nicely.

It is lovely and sweet with beautiful coconut and cardamom flavours with little chunks of pistachio. The sweetened condensed milk joins them all together and they are best eaten at room temperature, as they loose a bit of flavour straight from the fridge.


This recipe is from Food Safari, which I turned to for advice on desserts or sweets to make. I didn’t really see a huge difference in the mixture from mixing to heating for 10 minutes, but perhaps it did combine and roll a bit easier.

Coconut and Cardamon Burfi
Recipe from Food Safari

250g desiccated coconut
395g can sweetened condensed milk
10 cardamom pods – grind/crush seeds into a powder
Handful of pistachio nuts, roughly crushed

Mix 200g of the coconut and the remaining ingredients in a bowl.


Heat a non-stick pan on low heat and add mixture to the pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture starts to dry and rolls easily into a ball. Remove from the heat. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes until cool enough to handle.


Place the remaining coconut onto a plate. Using damp hands, roll the mixture into balls and then roll in coconut to coat. The coconut balls can be refrigerated for up to a week.


Pista Kulfi

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009


Having never tried Indian desserts, even though I’ve been to Indian restaurants many, many times, I was not sure what to try… I have made a pistachio and cardamom ice cream before, which was very nice (although Nick did REALLY crush the cardamom pods, rather than crack them). This is a quite refreshing and not too heavy dessert, quite milky with delicate cardamom and pistachio flavours. You definitely need to have something not too heavy after a lot of rice, curry and naan bread, and this works a lot better than one of the non-Indian desserts I have made previously after an Indian Banquet, like a self-saucing pudding.

I found it a bit difficult to judge when the milk had reduced to a third of its original volume and I don’t know what effect this has had on the dessert, except for making it go a little further to serve 8 people, with quite a reasonable size serving.

I didn’t have Kulfi moulds and therefore just left the mixture in the large bowl I added the mixture to, as my ice cream maker didn’t seem to freeze the kulfi to an appropriate level. This happened even after I left the mixture in the fridge overnight to cool it down for the machine. Therefore around every hour for 3-4 hours I stirred the kulfi to reduce ice crystal formation and make it more fluffy. When the mixture was almost un-stirrable I added the remaining pistachios on top, and a few more hours later the kulfi was sliced into 8 slices and served. (The first was the most difficult to remove from the bowl.)

Pista Kulfi
Recipe from Indian Food Forever

Serves: 8

4 cups milk
8 teaspoons sugar or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom seeds (chotti elaichi)
1 tablespoon skinned pista (pistachios), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon skinned badam (almonds), finely ground (optional)

Put the milk into a wide, heavy pan and bring to boil over high heat, stiring constantly.
Now lower the heat and cook the milk, stirring constantly, until it has thickened and reduced to about 13/4th cups. (This will take about 40-45 minutes). Stir the sides of the pan constantly to avoid scalding.


Now add the sugar, nuts and cardamom seeds, stir well, allow to cool.


Pour the mixture into Kulfi molds or small ramekins, distributing evenly. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and freeze until set, about 6 hours.



To serve, remove the ice-cream from the molds by running a sharp knife around the edges of the pista kulfi. Slip each kulfi on to a dessert plate, cut across into 3-4 slices, and serve.


Naan Bread

Friday, July 17th, 2009


A lot of trial and error has gone into making naan breads at our place. Salt quantity, rising time, trying to figure out how to cook naan bread in an Australian kitchen…
We have tried two ways to date, cooking under the oven grill and cooking on the grill on the BBQ. Both ways work quite well, resulting in a nice, soft bread which is slightly crunchy on the outside. It’s served with a small amount of butter rubbed on top, which melts into the bread.

It is just fantastic with all the curries we make, so get in there, tear a bit off, use it to grab some curry (with rice if you like) and enjoy yourself!


Naan Bread
Recipe adapted from VahRehVah

Makes: 6

3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon oil
3 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup milk (approximately)

Add warm water into the dry yeast and sugar, set aside to allow yeast to be activated.

Sieve flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil to water and yeast mixture and mix well, then add to the flour, mix and add milk to make a soft, sticky dough. Use a bit of oil on your hand if it starts to stick. Lightly flour a clean bench. Knead the dough until smooth. Break dough into six portions and knead lightly. (You can let it stand for a while to prove if you like, although we found it didn’t make much difference to the overall texture).


Heat the grill on very high (approximately 220°C). Stretch each ball into a naan shaped piece of dough (roughly 20-30cm long and 10-15cm across). Place two naan on the grilling tray and cook, watching constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn, and turn when the naan has browned in patches.


Brush some butter on top of the naan and serve with curries.


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