Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cinnamon Teacake

This is an afternoon quickie - G is working weekends at the moment - he is coming up to the end of a big project he's been working on for a while so I whipped up this cake for him to take in to work today and share with the troops (doesn't that make me sound hideously domesticated!)

This is a simple old fashioned cake and best served straight from the oven all warm and fragrant.

Cinnamon Teacake
(adapted from a Margaret Fulton recipe)

1 egg, separated
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup self raising flour
30g melted butter

30g melted butter
1 Tbsp castor sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Grease a small round cake pan (or several small bundt pans)

Add the salt to the egg white and beat till stiff peaks are formed. Add the egg yolk the gradually beat in sugar.

Add the vanilla to the milk. Beating slowly alternatively add the milk and flour till well combined.

Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake in the centre of a medium oven (180 degrees) for 20-25 mins.

When the cake is done - invert onto a plate and using a pastry brush paint the top with melted butter. Sprinkle the mixed cinnamon and sugar on top.

Serve warm.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

SHF #35 - The Beautiful Fig

This month's Sugar High Friday is being be hosted by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and her chosen theme is the fig. It's summer in the northern hemisphere and figs are in season - we in Australia are just coming into spring so while fresh figs are available they are prohibitively expensive. So dried figs it is....

I have only recently come round to the pleasures of figs - fresh or dried - their mild taste and creepy squashed look when dried has never really inspired me. Recently we have been occasionally shopping at a local organic market that sells the most divine fruit bread from La Tartine filled with raisins and divine chunks of dried figs. It is a little expensive but toasted with a little butter it makes the most divine weekend breakfast.

But I digress -when deciding what to make for SHF this month I looked at variations on fig bars or biscuits - I looked at what I currently bake with dates (fig scones anyone?) and finally decided on a coffee cake with a fig filling.

Fig-filled Streusel Coffee Cake

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter


1 cup dried figs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup butter
1/2 sugar
1 vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

To make topping, combine flour and sugars in small bowl. Rub butter in with your fingers until crumbly. To make cake batter preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a springform pan.

Pulse the dried figs in a food processor until finely chopped, mix in walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cream the butter, gradually add sugar and beat until light. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Alternately beat flour mixture and sour cream into batter. Spoon cake batter in bottom of pan.

Spoon fig mixture carefully on top of cake batter and spread to even layer. Sprinkle streusel topping over top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes.

Serve straight from the oven with custard for dessert or room temperature for afternoon tea

A food blog eating itself

I was watching cooking dinner the other weekend - Australian Idol was on ( I was not watching it I swear!) and a comment Dicko made about pop culture eating itself given that many of the new Idols were singing Kelly Clarkson songs made me giggle.

It struck me again as I was taking photos of my lunch yesterday and planning to blog it here - a recipe I got from a favorite food blogger, Luisa of The Wednesday Chef

The recipe in question is Tomato Bread Soup and I have to say it is every bit as good as Luisa expounds, even with spring, just ripe tomatoes rather than the height of summer sun ripened tomatoes. The soup has a fresh taste and the bread takes on a gorgeous custard like texture - perfect with a sprinkling of grated mild cheese. Divine on a wet afternoon!

Bill Telepan's Tomato Bread Soup - via The Wednesday Chef

1.5 kg ripe tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups of cubed sourdough bread - crusts removed
1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata - we used a mild Spanish cheese as the miserable weather meant we really didn't want go out and shop.

Core and quarter plum tomatoes. Place tomatoes in food processor and pulse to chop, but not too fine.

Heat oil in 4-quart saucepan. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, but not browned. Add tomatoes and their juices. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a slow simmer and cook 45 minutes, covered, stirring from time to time.

When the soup has simmered for 45 minutes, stir the bread cubes into the soup and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Serve hot or at room temperature, with grated ricotta salata and minced basil strewn on each serving.

** Next time I make this - and I will make it again - I think I'll add some stock to thin the soup a little - the tomatoes I used weren't really juicy so the soup was a little thick - especially after I added the bread and it soaked up a lot of the liquid **

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A quick trip to France

Well I have been a very lazy food blogger haven't I? I have been and long returned from a trip to France and Japan. I was lucky enough to spend just over 3 weeks away and seems I have been in holiday mode ever since!

I wasn't sure what to expect in France - despite traveling for around 4 years I have never been to Europe (I know!) and have never really eaten a lot of traditionally French food so I was really unsure of what I'd eat past pain au chocolat, baguettes and loads of wine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the supermarkets and local markets - I found the restaurants a little hit and miss, but I suppose that is true everywhere! I was totally put of my depth with the wine but enjoyed what I drank - I'll never be able to tell you what it was though.

Here are some of the photographic food highlights.

You have to love breakfast cereal with dark chocolate, 70% no less- who needs Coco Pops?

Another breakfast favourite - Chanson Pomme (apple filled pastries) from the boulangerie near our houseboat on the Seine.

Evening drinks on the houseboat - French champagne (of course) and cheese.

We went to a couple of local 'marche's' while driving from Paris to Bourgogne. I have to say the standard of the produce was amazing - from the fresh butter and cheese to the fruit!

Mom and I literally stumbled on Laduree while looking for the Musee D'orsay in Paris - we had a gorgeous mid-afternoon break full of macaroons and rose flavoured pastries

We had a lovely afternoon in Sancerre - a wine growing region in the Loire . They have a great museum that explains the region and goes through the history of the growers collective.

Another wine highlight was going with our family friend, Camille to buy wine for her cave. We wound our way down a little suburban street to the vineyard version of a petrol station and bought several 33 litre 'bag in a box' to bottle back at Camille's house.

Bottling the wine was a family affair with a mini production line in place. Corking the bottles took some muscles! I have to admit that I only helped bottle one 33 litre cask and that was plenty.

Other highlights were several lovely meals in little bed and breakfasts, the range of aperitifs served before dinner and the epiphany of a beer cocktail - really not as weird as it sounds!

I promise it won't be so long between posts again - I am well and truly out of holiday mode now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Taste for Change Dinner

Eating food by top chefs for a good cause = my idea of heaven

This year's Taste for Change dinner brings together acclaimed Australian chefs
  • Michael Kean (Host chef, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney)
  • John Lanzafame and Peter Evans (Hugo's)
  • Dave Pegrum (Forbes & Burton)
  • Darren Simpson (la Sala)
  • Dietmar Sawyere and Chris Edwards (Restaurant Forty One)
  • Peter van Es (Amora Hotel Jamison)

Each chef will create a one of the 6 courses to be served on the night, check out the grab your fork post from the 2006 event . The Taste for Change dinner is a fundraising event for the Oxfam International Youth Partnership (OIYP) program.

The OIYP program brings 300 young leaders from 90 different countries to share their ideas, energies and aspirations for bringing about positive change in their own communities.

G and I are looking forward to gorging our selves for a good cause.

If you are interested in attending and treating yourself for a very good cause the dinner will be held at:

Music will be performed by Old Man River and Dan Sultan.

When: Thursday 26 July 2007, 6:30pm–11pm

Where: Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

Cost: $200 per person

You can buy tickets here

** In the interest of the full disclosure I should let you know that my husband G work for Oxfam - and no that doesn't get a me a free ticket!**

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I am busily preparing to go overseas next week for a holiday - I'm very excited, I have a couple of weeks in France and nearly a week in Tokyo. I am so excited about going back to Japan, it will be the first time since G and I moved back to Australia after nearly 3 years living there. I have list as long as my arm of things I'm going to do - starting unsurprisingly with eating my body weight in sushi. Bliss!

Before I go I'm co-hosting a wedding shower for one of G's cousins - it will be the second wedding in the family this year, when the other cousin was married earlier in the year my mother-in-law and I hosted a high tea for the bride to be. It was a lovely Autumn afternoon and we had polished the silver and chilled the champagne, it was a decedent and suitably girly afternoon.

The little pastry cases come from Pasteles Bakehouse in Botany - they make a beautiful selection of sweet and savoury tart cases in a range of sizes - perfect for filling with smoked salmon or goats cheese. I highly recommend them.

I'll try to post a couple of times while I'm overseas but if I can't I'll catch you when I get back in mid July.

No recipes today, just a little bit of food porn!

An army of of silverware ready for tea

Can't have a high tea with out scones, jam and double cream

The full spread

Individual chilled strawberry mousse

Smoked salmon tarts with dill and lime marscapone

The fine china out and ready for tea

Deviled eggs

Pasteles Bakehouse
1545 Botany Rd
Botany NSW 2019
Tel: 02 9666 5477
Fax: 02 9666 5257

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Roast Chicken with Grapes

One of my favorite meals growing up was my Mom's Roast chicken with grapes - I'm pretty sure it was a dinner party classic in the 70's but it has, in my opinion at least stood the test of time.

Pieces of juicy roast chicken rest on steamed julienned potatoes topped with tarragon scented gravy and crisp green grapes. To me it is the perfect meal witha glass of crisp white wine and a couple of friends. Or just my husband and a couple of beers, or straight of the fridge for lunch the next day. Just perfect.

I don't have a recipe for this meal - I learnt to cook it with my Mom so please excuse the lack of precise instructions.

Roast Chicken with Grapes

Stuff a roasting chicken with an one onion cut into quarters and season well - roast until the skin is crispy and the juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of the chicken.

Peel 2 medium potatoes for each person you are cooking for - cut into strips like you are making french fries. Steam in the microwave until soft.

When the chicken is cooked take it out of the pan and let is rest before carving it. Pour as much oil as you can off the pan juices and put it on the stove on a low heat. Add tarragon, salt and a couple of tablespoons of flour. Stir until the pan juices thicken taking care to break up any lumps. Add a good slosh of white wine and enough water to get the gravy to a good consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the fresh grapes - about 2 big handfuls.

Put the steamed potatoes in the bottom a serving dish and top with the chicken pieces. Pour over the gravy and serve

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A cozy afternoon of baking

It is starting to get cold here in Australia - I've already dug my ugg boots out from the back of the wardrobe and am sleeping in my favorite flannel pajamas (they have sushi on them!)
So after a long walk with the dog it was imperitave to bake something sweet and warm to have with a cup of tea.

Oatmeal and date biscuits
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

Sift together:
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt

Cream together:
225g butter
200g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add:
300g rolled oats
200g chopped dates

Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten with a fork and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned all over and almost form when pressed in the middle.

The ticket here is when the house gets all warm and cozy, smelling of brown sugar and spices and you're on the couch with a cup of tea and a warm biscuit not to forget the batch that's in the oven!

These biscuits are NOT Weight Watchers friendly so will be packed up to share with work colleagues on Monday.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Eating for a weigh-in

One of the down sides of loving food, cocktails and ummm well everything really is the propensity to overdo it a bit and gain weight. Factor in a general unwillingness to get out bed early for exercise recently I'm sure you can understand why I've re-joined Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers recipes have come a long way from the 70's and the points system they use allows me to balance my food so that I can drink cocktails on a Friday night and still lose a little weight.

One recipe that I come back to time and time again - even when I'm not counting points is this salad. It's good at a barbecue with grilled meat, it keeps well so it's really good for work lunches and people it has fried cheese in it - what other reason do you need?

Cous cous salad with haloumi

I have adapted this recipe slightly from the original by adding chick peas - it does bump up the points slightly but I think they're worth it.

1 cup cous cous prepared according to directions (I make my mine with stock to add a little more flavour)
1 can chick peas
100g haloumi cheese sliced
Rocket or baby spinach leaves
Capsicum (or any other salad vegetables you like)
Lemon juice

Combine the cooked cous cous with the drained chick peas and dress with lemon juice to taste.
Add the sliced vegatable and rocket and toss. Taste and season if needed.

Heat a frying pan and use spray oil to grease. Fry the slices of haloumi until they are heated through and just starting to brown. Place on salad and serve.

This makes 4 generous portions and I have calculated it to be about 5 points per serve. You can decrease the points by adding more vegetables or salad leaves and decreasing the amount of cous cous you use.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Easter Feasting

**I'm sorry it's been so long, things have been busy but I'm back with a guest post from my lovely husband Geoff**

Lamb in the Ashes

For the H and the M Clans camping at Easter is a given. Every year the pilgrimage begins with a 4 hour drive North West of Sydney to a friends property in the Upper Hunter. The camp site has changed a couple of times in the last 30 odd years but the tradition of 'Lamb in the Ashes' on Saturday night has remained the same.

When we were kids it was always the oldies that cooked lamb in the ashes, this all changed a couple of years ago when the old folk started a revolution....... apparently when a child reaches the age of 30 they have to feed themselves....... so the tradition has now moved from the oldies to the kids. It was the first year the M kids had cooked lamb in the ashes and you could feel the tension around the campfire.

Cooking lamb in the ashes is not an overly complicated processes however if it goes wrong you could end up with a blackened Easter meal.

The M's first took time to prepare the campfire by building it up a healthy pile of hot coals through out the afternoon burning big hard wood logs. While the fire was settling down 4 whole legs of lamb were seasoned and marinated with olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, black pepper and salt. Once the lamb is seasoned the legs are covered thoroughly in foil. This is crucial process as if the legs aren't completely wrapped and sealed they will dry out. The next step is to wrap the legs in a second layer of damp newspaper.

Now the fun part, All the hot coals from fire are dragged to one side and a hole is dug in the base of the fire twice the depth of the lamb. Quickly the wrapped lamb legs are placed in the pit and covered immediately with the hot coals. If you faff about too much your lamb will just go up in smoke. Once the legs are buried leave the lamb to cook for 2 hours. Its always a bit of guess work as to when the lamb is cooked, over the years 2 hours has been found to be about perfect.

And that's it, the M's made a awesome sauce of olives, fetta, garlic and lemon rind to go with the lamb and accompanied by baked veggies and corn. It was an awesome meal one of the all time Lamb in the Ashes. There is something special about a roast dinner cooked without any of the usual creature comforts, served on the finest of plastic plates without a matching piece of cutlery as far as the eye can see......... pure camping bliss.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Family Favorites

As I'm sure everyone does, I often associate people or places with certain foods - my collection of recipes is littered with the names of people who gave me the recipe or who I associate the food with - my Sister's little passionfruit cupcakes, my Mother in law's friend's brownies - my Grandma's shortbread recipe.

My Grandma had a fantastically sweet tooth - she was the only person I knew who ate Mars Bar slice outside children's birthday parties and she would always had a tin full of sweet baked goods on the fridge when we'd visit. Her shortbread was legendary and always plentiful. One of my childhood cooking memories is Grandma teaching me to make shortbread - I managed to burn quite a few trays then and since to a total crisp before I was able to produce a tray even half way close to the quality of hers.

G and I spent Christmas with my Mom and my Aunt D's family in Queensland this year - my Aunt D is a fantastic cook and she had cooked all the old time family favorites including Grandma's shortbread.
A perfect finish to a celebratory meal or with a cup of tea after a swim - or anytime really

My Grandma's Shortbread

250g butter, softened
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup corn flour

Process the butter till pale in a food processor, add the remaining ingredients.
Press into a brownie tin (you don't need to grease it) and bake in a moderate oven till pale golden brown and cooked through. Slice while warm. Store in an airtight container

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Blogging by Mail surprise!

Blogging by mail is a physical extension of the international food swap that is food blogging. Organized this round by the lovely Stephanie, The Happy Sorceress, all the way back in September last year!
I sent my parcel full of Australian goodies to a fellow blogger in the US and eagerly awaited my parcel from some far flung part of the globe. And waited and waited....
Just when I had given it up for lost or confiscated by customs and just before Christmas I came home after a grueling day at work to find a LARGE parcel on the back step! It literally made my day!
With much excitement I opened the beautifully wrapped box and surveyed my bounty from the very generous and sweet Abby from North Carolina.

Every piece of the parcel had a label attached explaining it's heritage and meaning to Abby and her family. I was thoroughly charmed!

My favorite things in the parcel were hands down the Moravian biscuits - wafer thin and beautifully spiced - they were perfect with a cup of tea. Abby thoughtfully provided the recipe and while it was challenging to roll them as thin as the ones that were sent they were delicious.
Abby is a Moravian and the biscuits are part of her communities Christmas tradition so I was very pleased to be able to bake them for my friends and family along with my traditional Christmas fare. The other highlights were the hot sauce always a favorite with G and the MapleNut candy - teeth achingly sweet but great!

I apologise for it taking a little while, well okay a couple of months to get this post up - I really have no excuse - just the usual - the holidays, work blah blah.

I have always loved receiving mail and this event and parcel was a fantastic experience - and thank you again Abby!

Thank you

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone and thank you for your support with the Menu for Hope event. All up we managed to raise a mind boggling $60, 925 for the UN World Food Program. I wish you the very best of luck in 2007 and hope you all bag a prize!
For a more complete round up check out Chez Pim.