Friday, May 26, 2017

White Chocolate Cake - 10 year blogiversary

Today is this blog's 10th birthday.  I can't believe it has been 10 years, but it has.  Despite all the changes in my life over those 10 years, this blog has been a constant.

I started off as a blog lurker 2 years before I started my own blog, and gradually I decided that I could blog too!  Many of the blogs that I used to read no longer exist, and the number of blogs has skyrocketed since I started.

My plans for this blog were quite simple - to document the food that I made.  That was my plan then, and it remains the same.  This simple goal keeps blogging pleasurable.

I am combining my blogiversary with this month's Red Tractor recipe, which is for white chocolate cake.

Here is the calendar quote for the month, to tie in with Mother's Day:

First up, I made this white chocolate cake from the calendar recipe (top sliced off):

To make a half recipe (which is what I did), you will need:

100g chopped white chocolate
175g chopped butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 9" round cake tin. 

Pu the chocolate, butter, sugar and milk into a large saucepan.  Stir over low heat until smooth.  Pour the batter into a large bowl and cool for 20 minutes.  Whisk in the flours, vanilla and eggs.  Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 45-50 minutes, or until cooked through.  Cool the cake in the tin.

It was not clear what kind of chocolate the Red Tractor recipe called for in the ganache recipe. For that reason, I used another recipe for white chocolate ganache, online here.

Once the ganache had started to set up, I decorated the top of the cake with wafer flowers and butterflies and pink disco glitter.

This is a peek inside the cake.  I found the cake to be quite sweet, which is not surprising considering the white chocolate.  If white chocolate is your thing, this may just be the cake for you.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

EwE - Chicken Paella with Sausages - As You Like It

For Eating with Ellie this week, I chose the theme of As You Like It.  This has nothing to do with Shakespeare's play of the same name - it simply means, make what you want.

I chose to make Ellie's Chicken Paella with Sausages and Olives from So Easy.  However, there was one slight problem.  When I went to use my jarred olives, they had grown a healthy layer of grey mould on top - so no olives in my paella.

This was simple to make and very tasty.  I like that the paella is finished off in the oven, which makes things super-simple by taking away the supervision factor. I would definitely make this again.

To see what everyone else liked to make this week, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

TWD - Pistachio and Berry Gratins

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Pistachio and Berry Gratins.  Berries are combined with sugar to help create a syrup from their juices, then placed in ramekins.  The berries are then topped with a pistachio cream.

I used raspberries for my gratins.  I made just two of them by quartering the recipe.

These gratins made a delicious dessert - not too sweet and full of flavour.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Oat Pancakes

Tim recently gave me a sheet of recipes from a nutritionist who had visited his work.  The recipe that immediately caught my eye was for oat pancakes.  I had been thinking of making pancakes for a couple of weeks and not gotten around to it, so I was spurred into action when this recipe landed in my lap.

These pancakes are so easy and delicious:

To make them, you will need:

2 cups oats
2 eggs
1 banana
3/4 cup water

Blend the oats in a food processor to a fine meal.  Add the remaining ingredients and process til smooth.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frypan, and add spoonfuls of batter to the   pan.  Cook until bubbles appear, then flip the pancakes and cook the other side until just browned.

Serve with toppings of your choice.  I used maple syrup, Greek yoghurt and microwaved frozen cherries.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

EwE - Grilled Shrimp Po'Boy - Roll It Up, Roll It Up

For Eating with Ellie this week, Margaret chose the theme of Roll It Up, Roll It Up.  I decided to interpret this as something in a roll, and made Ellie's Grilled Shrimp Po'Boy from Comfort Food Fix

This Po'Boy was very easy and very tasty - grilled prawns in a roll with veggies and a tasty, zingy sauce.  I had to buy a few things I don't normally use (eg horseradish) but it was worth it.  I'd make this again.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beef Goulash, The Hairy Dieter's Way

I love a good stew, especially during the colder months.  Despite my wishing it otherwise, Melbourne is plunging head long into winter - and we are only half way through May!

I am a fan of The Hairy Dieters books, and I found a recipe for beef goulash in The Hairy Dieters - Eat for Life.  You can also find the recipe online here

What is not to like here - beef cooked with the sweet heat of paprika, and smothered in onions and tomatoes and capsicums.  It is rich and hearty, and perfect for those feral cold days where you need something to warm the soul.

I have been making a few Hairy Dieters' recipes recently, and will share them in due course because they are so good, and they won't mess up your diet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TWD - Goat Cheese and Chive Cookies

This week's Tuesday with Dorie (Cookies) recipe is Goat Cheese and Chive Cookies.  These are, as the name suggests, savoury cookies flavoured with goat cheese and chives.

I'll be honest - these were not exactly my cup of tea.  I quartered the recipe and made 6 cookies.  I think they'd be good perhaps with quince paste or cheese on top, but as they were, the didn't do much for me.

To se what everyone else thought of these cookies, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Glass Den, Coburg

A couple of weeks ago, I went for lunch with some friends to The Glass Den in Coburg.  It is set in part of the former Pentridge Jail. 

On the day that we visited, the place was bustling.  We were seated at one end of a communal table in the middle of the cafĂ©.

After ordering coffees, it was on to the serious business of lunch. I ordered a meatball sub ($17.50), which is as pretty as a picture despite its unromantic name: 

The sub is served on a pumpkin brioche roll, which was rather good.  The sauce on the sub had quite a sinus-clearing zing to it, and I loved it.

For dessert, I order The Mafia Boss - millionaire's shortbread with white chocolate and salted caramel:

Everything at The Glass Den is gorgeously presented.  If you have a serious sweet tooth, they do some amazing sweet breakfast dishes, complete with Persian fairy floss.  However, while the ladies seated next to us were delighted when they were presented with the same, I knew that I just couldn't go there.

If you want unique food that is poles apart from the offerings at your local greasy spoon, The Glass Den is the place for you. 

15 Urquhart St, Coburg VIC 3058

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Devil's Food Cake with Mint Frosting for Swee's Birthday

It was my friend Swee's birthday on Thursday, so I squeezed in making her a cake as a surprise when I met her for lunch.  I know Swee likes the choc mint flavour combination, so that is what I went with again this year.

Last year was the Andes Mint (aka Frankenstein's Head) cake.  I wanted this year's cake to be an aesthetic improvement as well as being choc mint.  This year, I made up my own choc mint combination.

First of all, I made the Devil's Food Cake from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook that came with me all the way from NYC two years ago (wow, has it been that long?): 

There was a slight issue in that I forgot to add the egg whites - oops.  However, I had made myself a separate little cupcake so I could taste the result, and apart from the cake being a teensy bit crumblier than usual, it tasted just fine.  (There is baking powder and baking soda in the recipe so density was not an issue.) 

I then mixed up a half batch of Crabapple Bakery's buttercream frosting, and flavoured it with around five drops of vanilla (three, as recommended in the boo, did not cut it) and coloured it green (this year using the dropper to avoid The Hulk look).  I then frosted the bottom layer, whizzed up a Peppermint Crisp bar in the food processor, and sprinkled it on top:

The second layer was added and the whole cake frosted.  To make it pretty, I piped some white icing (thanks to Dr Oetker) around the top and bottom borders with a star tip, and positioned green cachous strategically around the top border.  Finally, I cut another Peppermint Crisp into pieces and positioned them on top of the cake:

I think it looks pretty!

Not sure how the cake went down, but I think it should have been pretty good, having tasted the components.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EwE - Apple and Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops with Mustard Wine Sauce - Mother's Favourite

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is Mother's Favourite, chosen by Kayte.  It coincides with Mother's Day this Sunday.
My mother likes very plain food, and I strongly suspect that many of Ellie's recipes would not appeal to her.  I therefore took the liberty of choosing what I would like for my favourite instead.
The recipe that I selected is Apple and Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops with Mustard Wine Sauce from Comfort Food Fix.  As the title of the dish suggests, pork chops are stuffed with apple, spinach - and sauerkraut!  The hardest part was cutting the pocket in the chops, and on the last one, I managed to cut my finger.
This dish was very hearty and good to eat.  I would make it again.
To see what the others made for this week's theme, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

TWD - Plain and Simple Almond Cake

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I made Plain and Simple Almond Cake.  It is exactly what it says on the tin - a cake containing fat only from eggs, with almond meal and sugar making up the other components of the cake.

Despite its beautiful texture, I did find the cake a little too plain for my taste by itself, so I took up Dorie's suggestion and added jam in the middle of my slice, with some icecream on the side: 

This was a pleasant cake, which was very unassuming in flavour and can be dressed up, for example with berries and cream, to make a lovely dessert. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Queen's Birthday Cake for Sandra

My friend Sandra loves the British Royal family, and in particular, she has a soft spot for Queen Elizabeth II.  She found this recipe for the Queen's birthday cake last year, and asked me to make it.

As it was Sandra's birthday recently, I decided to make this cake for her.  It uses a lot of ingredients - 8 eggs and 450g of chocolate jump out.

This cake did not go that great for me, but Sandra was happy with it.

Here is the cake before being dressed:

It is a sponge cake with just a touch of cocoa.  The cake is then sandwiched with ganache and covered with more ganache - holy dooley:

The layers did not cut nicely for me - I tried for three, but only got two very wonky layers.
Here is a peek inside:

I would not make this cake again, if only because of the incredible amount of ingredients for an end result that was just OK (I am not a huge fan of sponge cake), and high stakes if the end result was not edible.

In any event, Sandra was happy with her cake, which is all that matters in the end.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pussy Cat Cupcakes for Ellie

I recently started tap dancing again for the first time in 15 years or so.  I was inspired, like half the universe, by La La Land - the dance sequence with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling looked like such fun.  And I still had the shoes!!!

My tap class is led by Miss Jane, who is ably assisted by Miss Ellie.  Miss Ellie let us know the week before that it was her birthday, so of course I was going to make her cake if I got the chance.

Luckily, I did get the chance, and I decided to make Ellie some pussy cat  cupcakes (because our dance studio is called Glamour Puss).

I used my favourite Primrose Bakery recipe for the cupcakes and the buttercream frosting:

I then topped the cupcakes with pink rolled fondant (already tinted thanks to Dr Oetker).  The eyes and the bow are cut freeform from rolled white fondant.  For the features, I used edible marker pens, inspired by designs that I found on Google images.

Ellie had also made herself a gorgeous cake but forgot to bring a knife to share it.   Cupcakes are made for sharing, so problem solved!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Echidna Cake - Animals in Autumn - Melbourne Cake Club

The Melbourne Cake Club met on Thursday evening a couple of weeks back, and our theme was Animal Cakes. 

I had by chance purchased a book called Aussie Cakes for a mere $7 prior to this theme being chosen, and as you would expect, it contains quite a lot of ideas on how to make Aussie animal cakes.  This book is more of a design and concept "how to" book; you wouldn't buy it for the recipes as it talks about packet cakes and ready made icing.  However, some of the cake designs are really clever and it is a fun book if you are into Australiana.

After being tempted by the Barbara the Bat cake (after my Bendigo trip), I went for the Emma the Echidna Cake.  The concept is quite simple:  make two chocolate cakes, one large and round for the back (I used a metal mixing bowl to give it a more 3D effect), and one small and rectangular for the snout:  

Carve your snout and glue it to the body with a little melted jam: 

Smother your cakes in chocolate buttercream and use chocolate bits, chocolate melts and a jelly snake to create the  eyes, nostrils and tongue:

Get 3 packets of Woolies choc finger biscuits and arrange them as the echidna's spines, et voila:

Linda Lomelino probably did not have an echidna cake in mind when she wrote her recipe for Chocolate and Espresso Cake in Lomelino's Cakes, but that is the recipe for the cake and icing that I used.  (Yes, as the folks on the Amazon forum point out, the recipe omits what to do with the melted butter in the method for the cake; if you are a baker at all, you can work it out.) Someone else has posted the recipe online here, fixing up the omission,  if you are interested in making this cake and don't have the book (which, by the way, is scrumptious, especially the espresso icing).   

That's me done.  Now onto the other animal cakes brought by the Club.

Here is Sue's gluten free hummingbird cake - a moist tropical delight with cream cheese frosting:

This is Karen's gorgeously decorated Noah's Ark Cake, which hides an orange cake with fig buttercream icing:

Dalya, our Club founder, made a gluten free chocolate hedgehog cake which was superbly moist (and can I add, I just loved those Flake spines):

Our fun evening was hosted by the good folks at Pause Bar in Balaclava, who were very gracious in accommodating us and our cakes.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

EwE - Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas - Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, so Peggy has chosen the seasonal theme of Cinco de Mayo Fiesta for this week's Eating with Ellie.

I decided to make Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas from So Easy - because they were so easy!  There was a traditional Mexican stew in another of my books, but it called for ingredients that I would find hard to obtain (hominy, tomatillos).

I was a bit worried that Chicken and Mushroom would be a little bland, but it is far from it - Ellie spices things up with cumin, chilli and oregano, so the end result is anything but bland.  I also highly recommend investing in the salsa and sour cream for the side.  I bought them thinking that they went into the quesadillas, and was miffed to learn that they were sides.  However, they really made the quesadillas delicious.

To see what everyone else made for Cinco de Mayo, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

TWD - Chocolate Cornflake Haystacks

Tuesdays with Dories - Dorie's Cookies is baking Chocolate Cornflake Haystacks this week.  The closest Australian equivalent is Honey Joys. 

These are cornflake cookies containing coconut, pecans, raisins (or in my case, cranberries)   and chocolate.

These are simple to make and good to eat - not much more to them than that.

To see what the other Dorie bakers thought of these cookies, visit the LYL section of the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Egg Tomatoes for the Anniversary of Margaret Preston's Birth

Today marks the anniversary of Margaret Preston's birth on 29 April, 1875.  Margaret was an Australian modernist artist.  She worked in many different mediums in a career that spanned Europe as well as Australia, but is most famous for her beautiful paintings and wood block prints. 

Her art evolved in style over the years, but she always favoured still life as the subject matter of her paintings.  I first came to know of Margaret's work through a joint exhibition of her work with that of Grace Cossington-Smith in Brisbane in the late 1990s.  At that stage of my life, I thought it was the done thing for a young educated woman to visit the art gallery.  The work of both Margaret and Grace delighted me, but I found Margaret's work particularly striking.  I loved it so much that I bought a print of one of Margaret's still lifes and had it framed for my mother, and it still hangs in her kitchen.

Margaret also championed various aspects of domestic arts, including interior decorating and cooking.  I was delighted to find a book called Margaret Preston - Recipes for Food and Art late last year, which I have been slowly reading before bed over the last few months.  That book, as suggested by the title, is a biography of Margaret Preston that not only discusses her life and art, but also contains numerous recipes from Margaret's own recipe books. 

To mark the anniversary of Margaret's birth, I decided to make a recipe from one of Margaret's recipe books.  I wanted to make something that I had all the ingredients to hand (as winter is nearing and it was cold and dark by the time I started cooking), and which was practical in that I could eat it all without needing to have someone share it with me.

I decided on Margaret's recipe for Egg Tomatoes.  The title of the recipe might not sound inspirational, but the end result surprised me at how tasty it was.  I had indulged in some rich food with friends earlier in the day, so an Egg Tomato was just the nutritious, light supper that I needed.  Even better, you can make it easily for one, two or however many people you need to - you just have to have one egg and one tomato each.

The recipe for egg tomatoes is very easy. For each person, you need:

1 ripe tomato
1 teaspoon seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 

Cut the top off the tomato, and scoop out the flesh.  Pour out the excess moisture, and sprinkle with salt.

Place the teaspoon of breadcrumbs in the base of the tomato, then crack the egg on top.  Season with salt and pepper, place on an oven tray, then bake in the pre-heated oven until the egg is set (mine took around 40 minutes).  Eat and enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Eggless Ginger Cake with Chocolate Icing

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
Cheerio, here I go, on my way
Harry Parr-Davies

Growing up, I wanted to be Vicky Dean from A Country Practice.  I didn't mind that she was a grown woman who regularly sported pigtails and whose wardrobe largely comprised khaki overalls and wellies.  She was a vet, which meant she was smart and loved animals; she lived in the country; and she drove a hulking four wheel drive.  I decided that was the life for me! 

When Vicky married Dr Simon Bowen, they played Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye at their wedding reception as the going away song.  It made a huge impression on me, as I have remembered it all these years later.  With the advent of the Internet, it is easy to find out what was the song and the lyrics.  I just had to wait over a decade to do so.

Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye was originally sung by Gracie Fields for a movie, but the song was adopted during World War II as a song for the troops.  With that in mind, I decided to give a recipe from Marguerite Patten's Victory Cookbook a spin. I selected her Eggless Ginger Cake, which is featured in the Street Parties chapter, mainly because it sounded quick and easy and I had all of the ingredients.  The recipe is as follows:

175g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g margarine
50g sugar
6 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of vinegar

Grease and flour an 8" cake tin, and pre-heat your oven to 190C.

Sift the flour and baking powder with the ginger into a mixing bowl.  Rub in the margarine with your finger tips, mix in the sugar and then the milk.

Blend the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar together, then beat into the cake mixture.

Spoon the cake batter into the tin (I pressed it in as it is like a dough!) and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. 

Unfortunately, when baked, this cake had the look and texture of a large ginger scone, so I decided to make some icing for it.  In trying to stay authentic, I used this recipe involving golden syrup, margarine and cocoa powder.  The icing tasted a little odd, but on the ginger cake, it just gave it a bit of oomph of flavour.  It's just a little unfortunate that it looks like Vegemite. 

This was a fun experiment in wartime cookery, but not one I'll be repeating.

I will be starting a new chapter myself next week - wish me luck!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

EwE - Good For You Shepherd's Pie - Mash-Ups

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is Mash Ups, chosen by me.  My pick for this theme is Ellie's Good For You Shepherd's Pie.

At first glance, it looks similar to any other Shepherd's Pie.  However, the "mash up" topping is not just potato - it is potato and cauliflower.  And the potatoes have their skins left on!  Also, there are heaps of veggies in the mince part of the pie - normally, a Shepherd's Pie has no veggies in the mince part.

I think that next time, I'd add a spoon of promite or similar to spice up the mince a bit, but otherwise, I really enjoyed this version of Shepherd's Pie, which is very satisfying.

To see what Mash Up madness everyone else got up to this week, visit the LYL section of EwE website.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Apple Crumble with ANZAC Biscuit Topping

We would remember them today
Who from their homeland sailed away
So blithely and so willingly
To give their lives for you and me
Father guard their sleeping.
                                          Bene Gibson Smythe

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand.  It is a holiday to remember Australians and New Zealanders who served their country in all wars.  The day is the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli, Turkey in World War I. 

Our primary school always did a great job of teaching us about ANZAC Day and its significance.  ANZAC Day ribbons were sold in the classrooms every year to raise money for war veterans, and the choir learned various ballads about those who served in the wars, including the verse above.  We had a special school assembly at which the choir sang the aforesaid songs, and a member of the band played the last post on their trumpet while the assembly remained silent. 

In high school, much less was said about ANZAC Day.  However, we watched the film, Gallipoli, as part of our English studies. It is the ending of that film that always gets me.

To commemorate ANZAC Day in my own way while I am coccooned at home, I made the April recipe from my Red Tractor calendar, being Apple Crumble with ANZAC Biscuit Topping.

April's calendar quote is another  sage saying:

Apple crumble is the British/Australian version of a Brown Betty.  What makes this version unusual and ANZAC Day appropriate is the ANZAC biscuit topping:

This is one delicious dessert.  The recipe makes one big crumble with 4-6 serves.  I quartered the recipe to make two individual serves in ramekins.  My adapted version of the recipe is as follows:


3/8 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar (I cut this to 1/8 cup)
1/4 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/4 tablespoon dessicated coconut
45g butter
1/16 cup golden syrup
1/4 tablespoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Combine the sugar, oats and coconut in a small bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium heat,   melt the butter, golden syrup, water and bicarbonate of soda together.  Pour over the dry ingredients, then chill in the fridge while making the apple filling.

Stewed Ginger Apples

1 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/16 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/16 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and lightly grease 2 ramekins.

Put all of the filling ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the fruit is tender.


Divide the apples evenly between the two ramekins.  Remove the ANZAC biscuit mixture from the fridge and crumble into smallish pieces.  Sprinkle the biscuit pieces evenly over the top of each ramekin, then bake in the preheated oven until the top is crisp and golden (~20 minutes). 

Serve warm with icecream and custard, if desired.

TWD - Lemon Meringue Tart A New Way

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Lemon Meringue Tart A New Way.  Lemon Meringue Pie is a perennial favourite, and when I brought this one to work, it was no exception.  Someone was disappointed that they missed out because they were trying to be good, then they changed their mind and there was no pie left. 

Lemon Meringue Pies can be hit and miss.  Too much meringue, it can be too sweet.  Filling too lemony - it is not balanced out by the sweetness of the meringue (reminds me of the infamous "Sunlight Soap" lemon pie served to us at college, to much derision). Oh, and some recipes have a weepy filling - check out the Daring Bakers version that I made many moons ago

However, this lemon meringue "tart" suffered from none of those shortcomings.  The "new way", according to Dorie, is that this lemon tart has a flan-like filling.  I believe that Dorie's introduction comes from the perspective that this tart is different to a traditional tarte au citron, which has a curd-like filling.  However, it is very much the type of lemon meringue pie that I am used to, and which is a staple of Australian cafes.

And what a lovely lemon meringue tart it is.  The filling is a lemony pastry cream rather than a curd, so there is no weepiness, and it is smooth and silky.  It also set up like a dream.  The meringue was good, although someone said she would have liked more.  To solve this, you could just use the two additional egg whites that are left over from this recipe to make a more voluminous meringue.

I have neither a blow torch nor a broiler, so I just put my tart into the oven for an extra ten minutes after adding the meringue topping.  It may have made the crust a little too brown around the edges, but it didn't detract from the flavour.

Verdict - a thumbs up.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.