Friday, December 26, 2008

Smoked Trout Heaven

For years I have been buying the smoked trout dip from the deli down at Barkly Square in Brunswick & I’m yet to meet a person who doesn’t absolutely love it, its very addictive. Well I finally have found a recipe that’s incredibly even better than the deli version & oh so easy to prepare, though I’m not sure if it works out any cheaper. From memory its abt $22.00 per kilo from the deli, which works out to abt $12.00 for a fullish small tub. The piece of lemon pepper smoked trout I bought to use in the dip (funnily enough also from the deli at Barkly Square) was $8.95 so once you add in the extras not much difference. Does anyone else make their own smoked trout dip, maybe its always been this easy & I just haven’t tried it before? For those who are interested the recipe I used came from Nigella’s Express though I used lemon pepper flavoured smoked trout which gave it a lovely zing & omitted the cayenne pepper as I felt it didn’t need it. Fantastic served with some fresh bread or crackers & a lovely Christmas Eve nibble enjoyed by all

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My first ever broad bean harvest

Way back a few months ago I planted some teeny tiny seeds in my new veggie patch. I have never grown broad beans before so had no idea what to expect. In the photos you can see they did very well & towered over Chloe. The beans in the photos are at about the time I picked my first batch which it turned out still had a way to go. The beans were still quite small & there was not much yield for all of the hard work of double podding, yet they were still too big to eat after only one podding as they had formed the tough bitter outer skin already. For example I used 500g one day to make some broad bean fritters, I halved the recipe & was still supposed to get about 8 yet after all my work ended up with one measly (though delicious) fritter!

A couple of weeks later & we had already moved out to my mums when I picked most of the rest which were now quite big. I had over 5kgs of the beauties. I used some fresh in salads, some simply blanched, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice & herbs served with fish, some in this lovely fresh pasta pictured, more on a delicious bruschetta and then single podded & froze a few for future use. I love them & even though my mum & some others cant see how I can be bothered, I think it’s a labour of love & enjoy sitting down quietly podding away, the end result of eating something so fresh & wholesome from your own garden is definitely worth it for me.

In front of the beans you can see I am growing some leeks, when I planted them I had no idea they took 9 months to grow, so will be keeping my eye on them when I do my weekly inspections of the works to the house, cant wait to start cooking them all up too & have my eye on heaps of delish looking recipes as well as some old faves waiting to be recreated. Also pictured to the right are some beets which were delicious & have already finished off all of the sugar snap & snow peas, not bad for my first crop me thinks. Cant wait to move back in & start the next batch, I still have a whole world of summer veg to experiment with.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weekend Brekky in the Sun

Michael, Chloe & I had a pretty relaxed Grand Final day, no rowdy parties & drinking all day for us so I thought I would start the day with a leisurely breakfast which we ate outside in the sun given the beautiful weather. I made these fantastic Egg & Bacon Pies with an Oat pastry that I saw Maggie whip up on The Cook & The Chef, the recipe can be found here. I didn’t have any spring form tins of that size so just made them in pie dishes which was fine although I couldn’t serve them out of the dish so they might not have looked as pretty. I used Ottway pork free range bacon which I buy from the deli at Barkly square & in my opinion is the best tasting bacon out there & I wouldn’t make my brekky with anything else. Some fresh free range eggs & chives from the garden finished it off & well you can probably see from the photo how delicious they were, mmmm as I type I wish I had another sitting in front of me right now! Luckily Chloe was more interested in going to the park afterwards & hasn’t quite caught onto the magic of bacon & eggs just yet so we got to eat them all to ourselves too.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome Spring & a lunch to celebrate with friends

Hasn’t the weather just been gorgeous lately? I am so happy the sun has been shining, the heater has been turned off & Chloe & I can finally spend a lot more time outdoors, not that the bad weather ever stopped her from wanting to go outside, she would spend every waking moment outdoors, rain or shine if she could.

So the other day in some beautiful sunny & windy (can do without that part) weather Sim & Maya came over for lunch & a catch up. I cooked these delicious vegetarian tarts for lunch & made a batch of these fantastic cookies for the girls to munch on afterwards. Chloe is finally at the age where she sort of lets me cook now, especially anything containing chocolate as I bribe her with promises of spoon licking at the end. The tarts were form a recent mag, sorry cant remember if it was Delicious or Donna Hay. As you can see from the pic of Chloe they were very much appreciated.

Roasted tomato, basil & goats cheese tart

Serves 2

1 red onion, chopped
2 roma tomatoes sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g goats cheese
¼ cup (50g) fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 200c. Combine onion, tomato, garlic & oil in a baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes until softened. Combine the cheeses, basil, lemon, salt & pepper & roasted garlic in a bowl. Cut pastry sheet in half & score edges with a knife to make a border. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, spread over cheese mixture, top with tomato mixture, drizzle with oil & bake for 15 minutes or until pastry is puffed & golden.

Oaty Choc Chip Cookies

Makes about 25

125g unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
½ cup firmly packed (100g) brown sugar
½ tspn vanilla extract
1 egg
1 ¼ cups (110g) rolled oats
1 cup (150g) plain flour
½ tspn baking powder
½ tspn bicarb of soda
175g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 170c. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Cream butter, sugars & vanilla until pale & thick. Beat in egg until just combined. Fold in oats. Sift over flour, baking powder, soda & ½ teaspoon salt over mixture & fold in. Mix in the chocolate.

Place balls of about 1 heaped tablespoon of dough on trays about 4cm apart. Flatten slightly then bake for approx 10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool so biscuits can crisp up.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More baking – Chocolate Banana Coconut Bread

After my recent dry spell I’ve been doing a lot of baking once again. Last week I made this scrumptious loaf. Kikimiss highly recommended the recipe which can be found here. Firstly it’s incredibly easy to make, you really just stir everything together, no beating, whipping or processing required & then place in the oven for a good hour or so while you watch it rise & smell the delicious aroma of fresh baking fill the house. Secondly its really fabulous, I love banana bread with chocolate thrown in & the added coconut gives it a fantastic texture & added depth of flavour. Being me I had to tuck into it while it was still warm & it was nice but I wouldn’t rave about it, however when it cooled down completely I just adored it. This is strange for me as I usually find these sorts of cakes/breads taste better while warm. Lastly I didn’t bother with the cream cheese as suggested but feel free to give it a go, I don’t think it needed it at all. Bake away & enjoy

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pumpkin Scones

For those that have been wondering, for the last month or two I have been cooking some wonderful food, I just haven’t been all that inspired to write about it in between running around sorting out house plans, working, playing with Chloe & freezing through this long winter. Especially at night when dinner is cooked & there is no good light to photograph, we usually just dig right in before even thinking about the potential to show everyone what we have been eating. So there has been lots of slow cooking as you would expect, soups, pasta & other soul warming dishes perfect for winter.

Last weekend I had an itch to bake, I’m sure it had been at least 2 weeks since my last effort & trying to be a teensy bit healthy for Chloe’s sake, I decided on pumpkin scones, they still have the butter & sugar but the pumpkin gave them good brownie points so that I was happy for Chloe to munch away. I’ve never made pumpkin scones before & I was very pleasantly surprised, they were lovely & sweet & the hint of nutmeg gave them a delicious aroma. I cant say mine rose as much as the ones in the recipe picture though it didn’t seem to make a difference, they were very delicious & Chloe loved them too which is always a surprise as she seems to only enjoy one food group at the moment – hot ‘chippies’!

Pumpkin Scones (Florence Bjelke-Petersen's recipe as published in Gourmet Traveller)

250g peeled jarrahdale or QLD blue pumpkin, cut into 3cm pieces
300g (2 cups) self raising flour)
½ tspn ground nutmeg
75g (1/3 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted
40g butter, softened
1 egg yolk
Milk for brushing

Preheat oven to 200c. Place pumpkin in a steamer over a saucepan of boiling water, cover & steam until tender (about 15 minutes), then transfer to an oven tray and bake for about 10 minutes to fry out. Cool, then pass through a coarse sieve.

Sift flour, nutmeg and 1 tspn salt into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat icing sugar & butter until pale & fluffy, add egg yolk and beat to combine. Using a wooden spoon, stir in pumpkin, then half the flour mixture and, using your hands, bring together to make a dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth (dough should still be a little sticky).

Roll out to 2cm thick and using a 5.5cm diameter cutter dipped in flour, cut rounds from dough and transfer to a lightly greased oven tray. Re-roll scraps & repeat. Brush tops with milk and bake until golden & sound hollow when tapped (10-15 minutes). Serve hot or at room temperature with butter.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weekend Brunch

I’ve had a bit of a sweet breakfast craving thing going on lately so when I caught up with Rach this weekend I thought I would make it brunch so I could try out a recipe I have had my eye on for a while. This sweet French toast that I whipped up was based on a recipe in Delicious magazine, it is a recipe from Sydney café Two Good Eggs. If the rest of their food is as good as this turned out then I recommend all you Sydney siders pay a visit soon. I didn’t have any blackberries handy so I made a blueberry sauce instead, after all banana & blueberry is a fantastic combination too. It was pretty impressive & the thing I liked was that unlike the usual pan fried French toast, once you pop it in the oven you can forget about it until its time to slice up & serve. Very delicious.

Banana stuffed French toast with berry sauce

4 eggs
240ml pure (thin) cream
1 load sourdough bread
2 bananas, thickly sliced on an angle
Thick Greek-style yoghurt, toasted almond flakes & pure maple syrup, to serve

Berry sauce
100g fresh or thawed frozen blackberries or blueberries

Preheat oven to 200c. Line a baking tray with baking paper & grease well.

For the sauce, place berries, sugar & ¼ cup (60ml) water in a small pan over medium low heat. Stir to dissolve sugar, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Place the eggs & cream in a bowl & whisk until combined, transfer to a large jug. Trim the ends off the bread & slice into 8 even slices – not touching the bottom. Tuck 2-3 banana slices into every second cut. Place the loaf into a large dish & slowly pour the egg mix over the loaf, being sure to pour between all the slices for proper soaking. Pour any excess batter back in jug & repeat until all absorbed. Transfer to the tray & bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Cut into 4 sandwiches & serve with a dollop of yoghurt, nuts, maple syrup & berry sauce.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Long Weekend Dinner Party

The long weekend meant that I had some spare time on my hands so what better way to spend it then by slaving for a day in the kitchen so I could have friends over for dinner? For some this might seem too much like hard work yet is the perfect way to spend a day for me. Everything turned out lovely even though I don’t think dessert quite came together as per the recipe.

To start with we had a Caramelised leek, chevre & sage tart, the recipe was in a recent Gourmet Traveller & can be found here. I love the combination of leek & goats cheese & have made many different variations on this classic recipe over the years, this one was particularly good & I got to use some fresh sage from my newish herb garden.

Next up was a warming Basque Style Seafood stew from Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’ book ‘Food with Friends’. I love this book as most of the recipes are quite simple yet impressive at the same time. This one was brilliant in that you make the base first & then all you need to do when your guests are there is heat it up & add the seafood so there is not too much time wasted in the kitchen where you might miss out on the potentially juicy conversation in the other room! The smoky paprika, saffron & red onions really gave it a Spanish flavour & some crusty bread to mop up the juices made it more than enough to fill our bellies to bursting.

Desserts were these warm chocolate-espresso fondants also from Gourmet Traveller, the recipe again can be found on-line here. Again most of the prep was done in advance so I just had to put them together before baking in the oven and in the end although they tasted pretty good I don’t think it quite worked for me, the batter was very thick & as a result the sides didnt seal properly around the oozy centre & they also didn’t rise much so I only got 4 puddings where the recipe stated 6 & I used a smaller mould than stated. Still as I said, delish though I wont be making this one again.

For those of you who would love to try the stew which I very highly recommend, here is the recipe, note - I omitted the crabs & I only added half of the almonds which I think was heaps.

Basque-style seafood stew

Serves 6-8

60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
2 Spanish onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 small red chillies, deseeded & diced
2-3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
12 saffron threads, infused in 2 tablespoons boiling water
250ml (1 cup) white wine
750ml (3 cups) chicken or fish stock
1 x 400g can tomatoes
500g pipis or mussels
500g firm white fish fillets, cut into chunks
18 green prawns, peeled & de-veined
2 red capsicum, roasted, peeled & sliced
150g blanched almonds, chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add oil & onion & cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add garlic & chillies & cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add bay leaves, paprika, saffron & white wine. Bring to the boil & reduce by half. Add stock & tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce heat & simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.

Wash pipis or mussels & remove beards. If using live crabs, freeze for 1 hour to put them to sleep. Cut each crab into quarters, leaving claws attached. Rinse each piece under cold running water to remove innards. Drain well & refrigerate until needed along with fish & prawns.

Reheat sauce, check seasoning, add capsicum & almonds. Once boiling, add crabs, cook for 3 minutes & then add pipis or mussels and prawns. Cook for 2 minutes then add fish & cook for 1 minute. Season to taste. Sprinkle with parsley, serve in large bowls with crusty bread to mop up all of the juices.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Miso Ramen with Five Spice Roast Pork

Here is a warming, quick & healthy meal just perfect for a cold midweek dinner. Everything is prepared in the time it takes the pork to cook & then its really just throwing things into the pot at different stages, I couldn’t believe how easy it was & thought it was sure to be a disaster as it seemed too simple, yet it was delicious & my parents even raved about it, they are big fans of asian style soups & since a recent bout of food poisoning have been too scared to eat any out lately. My only concern was that the miso I used had msg in it, do they all & is it really all that bad for you, it didn’t seem to have any ill effects on us last night?

Miso ramen with 5 spice roast pork (based on a recipe from Delicious)

600g pork tenderloin fillet
sesame oil
1 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn five spice powder
2.5 litres salt reduced chicken stock
200g dried thin egg noodles
4 large mushrooms, sliced
2 x 18g sachets miso soup paste
Bunch baby bok choy
Soy sauce to aste
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 200c. Rub the pork fillet with a few drops of sesame oil & then coat with the blended coriander, five spice & salt & freshly ground black pepper. Place in a roasting pan, then roast for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Cover with foil & rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add noodles & mushrooms, then reduce heat to medium & simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the miso, then the bok choy & simmer for a further 2 minutes or until greens are just wilted. Stir in soy sauce to taste. Divide the noodles & vegetables among 4 bowls & top with sliced pork. Ladle the soup on top & add a few drops of sesame oil to each. Garnish with spring onions.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Biscuit Time

It seems like lately it’s been cakes, cakes & more cakes & way too much chocolate, so much so that in fact I am a bit sick of chocolate & cant believe I am even saying that! So to put matters right I baked some biscuits for Megan’s visit this week. I had a little left over lemon curd that had been sitting in the fridge for ages which I was dying to use up & for the rest of the biscuits I opened a jar of sunny ridge strawberry jam which we bought from the farm on our recent long weekend away, super sweet & yum. Tasty bickies with a choice of sweet or tangy too so something to suit everyone (with a sweet tooth that is!)

Lemon Curd & Jam Biscuits

180g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 ½ tspns vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder
Lemon Curd

Preheat oven to 180c. Place the butter, sugar & vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer & beat until light & creamy. Add the egg & beat well. Stir through the flour & baking powder & mix to form a dough. Roll 2 teaspoons of the mixture into balls & place on baking paper lined trays leaving space between each to spread. Press deep dents into each with the back of a spoon & fill with either curd or jam. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Moroccan loveliness

This tagine I made for dinner the other night was not only easy but it really tasted delicious, my mum even loved it despite the fact that it had fresh coriander in it which she swears she hates (obviously I didn’t tell her I’d snuck it in until she decided she loved it). The spice paste was so simple yet seemed to give the tomatoes a very tangy flavour, definitely the saffron & lemon juice working wonders there I think. The addition of the eggs at the end was unique for me, I have never made a tagine like this before & it finished off the dish nicely lifting it beyond the ordinary every day, though having said that it is perfect for a simple week night dinner. I served this with some simple couscous.

Kofta Tagine (Recipe by Ben O’Donoghue published in Delicious)

1 large red onion, grated
500g lamb mince
2 tblspn chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tspn ground coriander
2 tbspn olive oil
800g canned chopped tomatoes
4 eggs
Coriander leaves, to serve

Spice paste

1 garlic clove
1-2 tbsn finely chopped coriander root
½ red onion, grated
1 tspn groun cumin
2 small pinches saffron threads
Juice of 1 lemon

For paste, pound garlic to a puree with a pinch of salt using a mortar & pestle. Add all other ingredients except juice, then work into a paste. Stir in juice & set aside.

Mix onion, mince, parsley & ground coriander well with salt & pepper. Use hands to shape into 12 balls. Heat oil in a heavy based pan over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown all over, then remove & set aside. Add paste & stir for 1 minute until aromatic. Return meatballs to pan, add tomato & simmer over low heat for 30 minutes until meatballs are cooked & sauce has thickened. Carefully crack eggs on top for a few minutes until cooked through. Serve with coriander.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

I had another birthday yesterday & to celebrate I made this luscious cake that I saw Maggie Beer whip up on the Cook & the Chef, it is very decadent containing orange zest, whisky soaked raisins, a LOT of very rich chocolate & almonds just to name a few of the ingredients. I went to The Retreat for dinner with the family which was nice & relaxing, for a change there was no mad running around after work cooking & causing chaos in the kitchen & best of all no dishes for anyone.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saturday Night Dinner Party

On the weekend I had a couple of friends & their son over for a bit of a dinner party. As I have just started doing ‘dinners’ again I went all out & spent the day in a baking/cooking frenzy. I thought all of the food was delicious & intend to keep all the recipes to make again & again. In particular the flatbread was so easy & the flavour combinations you could come up with are endless though the garlic & rosemary will be hard to beat, even Chloe loved it, the other little boy didn’t. I am very impressed, Chloe seems to already have an advanced palate, accepting tastes that other kids seem to just spit out. Her is the menu

To start with, the above mentioned Garlic & Rosemary Oil Flatbread, (note I did use the salt as I love the stuff)

For the main course we had Salmon en croute with pea puree served with mashed potato & a garden (from mine!) salad. I though it looked very pretty with the contrast of the pink salmon against the bright green pea mixture all enclosed in the golden brown flaky pastry. It was quite easy to prepare too, I made the pea puree & crème fraiche mixture earlier in the day so all I had to do was assemble & cook when needed. I wasn’t game to do this before as I wasn’t sure if the salmon would make the pastry go all soggy & uncrispable, it would be even better if you could have the whole dish ready to just whack in the oven at the last minute. I loved it though it was a bit on the dry side as I forgot to serve with the lovely crème fraiche herb mix on the side, I kicked myself when I remembered as it was also so delicious & really would have brought the whole dish together, oh well maybe next time I will have my head together & actually get it out of the fridge.

Salmon en croute with Pea Puree

Based on the recipe in a recent Delicious issue

3 cups podded fresh or frozen peas
1 tbspn each chopped mint & flat leaf parsley
200g crème fraiche
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 spring onions, finely chopped
4 puff pastry sheets, thawed
Plain flour, to dust
800g piece salmon, skinned, pin-boned (preferably center cut)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180c. Place a baking tray inside the oven & allow to heat up. Cook peas in a pan of boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes or 3 minutes if frozen. Drain & cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the mint and parsley with the crème fraiche & season. Place 1 tablespoon in a food processor with the peas, lemon zest, onion & pulse to roughly chop. Keep remaining crème fraiche in the fridge until ready to serve.

Lay 2 sheets of pastry down on a sheet of baking paper & join the centre edges to form one long piece. Pile pea mixture down the centre, spread out to the width of the salmon. Season the salmon then place best side down, on top of the pea puree. Brush the exposed pastry around the edges with the beaten egg. Join the other 2 sheets of pastry together & place on top of the salmon, press edges to seal & cut away excess pastry. Carefully turn the package over, and using a small knife, score the top of the pastry in a criss cross pattern, taking care not to cut all of the way through (like I did – oops). Brush with egg & transfer to baking tray in the hot oven & bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Rest for 2 minutes before serving with the herbed crème fraiche.


And finally dessert was this wicked & decadent apple & rhubarb pie. The pastry was really very good & with 300g of butter & 200g icing sugar plus the rest why wouldn’t it be? It was also nice & light & not tough at all. The filling was so much nicer than just your average apple pie filling, the rhubarb gave it some extra sweetness & the ginger helped to spice it up & make it a real adult pie – the kids were not impressed at all though Chloe was quite partial to the pastry. Again though, I forgot to heat up the syrup to serve with it though in this case I don’t think it did any harm as the calvados cream was more than enough to go with it. Also by this time we had crammed so much food in such a small space of time (the guests had a 2 year old that had to go home to bed quite early) that hardly anyone could even fit the pie in. I didn’t have a problem with this as we have been happily living on leftovers since. Again I made the pastry, filling & cream in advance & assembled at the last minute – same note re assembly – does anyone know – could you put it together & cook later without the whole thing becoming a soggy mess?

Apple, rhubarb & ginger pie with calvados cream

Based on the recipe published in a recent Delicious issue, extracted from Philip Johnson’s ‘Decadence’

100g unsalted butter
6 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, thickly sliced
370g brown sugar
10 rhubarb stalks, trimmed, strings removed, cut into 3sm pieces
1 cinnamon quill
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tspn grated fresh ginger
grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar
2 egg yolks, plus 2 lightly beaten eggs, to brush
500g plain flour, sifted

Calvados cream
1 cup (250ml) pure (thin) cream
2 tbsn icing sugar
¼ cup (60ml) Calvados (apple brandy)

For the pastry, cream butter & sugar together in a food processor. Add egg yolks, mix well, then add the flour & mix to just bring the pastry together, add 1-2 tbspns chilled water if necessary. Knead lightly on a floured surface & refrigerate for 1 hour.

Grease a 24cm loose bottomed tart pan. Roll out half the pastry to 3mm thick & gently ease into the pan, trimming the edges. Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes. Roll out remaining pastry to 3mm thick to use as the pie lid, enclose in plastic wrap & refrigerate until needed.

Blind bake pastry shell in a preheated 180c oven. Cover base & sides of pastry with baking paper & fill with pastry weights, bake for 10-12 minutes, remove lining & weights, brush with some of the beaten egg & bake for a further 5-8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over medium heat. Increase heat to high, add apple & cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar & rhubarb and stir to combine. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg & ginger & cook for 6-8 minutes until the fruit just begins to soften. Stir in the zest & juice. Remove from heat & strain, reserving the cooking liquid & discard the cinnamon quill & vanilla pod. Spread the fruit in a shallow dish & allow to cool.

Spoon the filling into the pastry case, brush edges with egg, then top with pastry lid. Trim edges & crimp together to seal. Brush top with egg. Make 2 incisions in to the top to allow steam to escape, then bake for 40 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, in a pan, bring the reserved cooking liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat & simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Set aside.

For Cream, whisk cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Fold through Calvados, refrigerate until required.

Serve wedges of pie with syrup drizzled over the top & a dollop of cream.


Some people seem to think I am crazy cooking so much but as you know I love it & love the excuse to cook all day & things I wouldn’t normally do just for the 2 of us

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another great pancake recipe

To start the long weekend off I thought it would be nice to cook up a hot brekkie and of course my favourite is still pancakes. The pancakes in this recipe were nothing new and were quite simple for a change, ie no whisking up egg whites separately to fold in for a light & airy effect as a lot of recipes seem to do nowadays. Despite this they were incredibly light & fluffy & the thing that made them was the sensational blueberry butter, very bad smothering on that much butter disguised as fruit but irresistible let me tell you. Luckily I had a quick glance at the recipe the night before & noted that you had to let the butter set for 2 – 3 hours so I whipped it up the night before. With Chloe there is no waiting 2-3 hours for breakfast & let me tell you she has not been a huge pancake fan so far but absolutely loved these ones. Once again I managed to use at least one item from my garden, lemons & to save money I used frozen blueberries which for a recipe like this where freshness doesn’t matter it is much more economical, the price of a 300g bag was cheaper than one 150g punnet by far.

Buttermilk pancakes with blueberry & lemon butter

A Rick Stein recipe from a recent (?) issue of Delicious

Make the butter a day ahead

50g unsalted butter
1 ½ cups (225g) self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
175ml each buttermilk * milk
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla extract
icing sugar, to dust

Blueberry & Lemon Butter

150g blueberries
¼ cup (caster sugar
finely grated zest & juice of half a lemon
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For butter, cook berries, sugar & juice in a small pan over low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. Increase heat to medium-low for 1 minute until fruit just bursts. Add butter & zest. Remove from heat, stir to combine (don’t crush berries). Pour into 4 ramekins and chill for 2-3 hours or overnight until thick (it wont harden).

For pancakes, melt butter in a small pan over low heat. Pour top layer of clear (clarified butter) into a bowl. Discard milky layer at base. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center, add milk & eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Brush with a little clarified butter. Using ¼ cup batter for each, pour 2-3 pancakes into pan, spaced well apart. Cook 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on top. Turn & cook for a further minute until golden. Keep warm while you cook the rest of the pancakes, brushing pan with butter in between batches. Pile 3 pancakes on each plate & serve with a ramekin of butter. Dust with icing sugar. Serves 4.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cooler Weather = Soup Season

As soon as the weather starts cooling down in Autumn each year I get very excited about cooking soup again. I love to make a big pot every week or so for dinner, the leftovers are then frozen for lunch either at home or to take to work. I have my favorites that I cook again & again, chickpea & leek, tomato & red lentil, pumpkin & of course minestrone to name a few, however I am always looking out for new exciting recipes or boring ones for that matter which offer me some new combinations. So far this Autumn I have tried out a very easy beetroot & vegetable soup – using tinned beets so really very quick, an asparagus soup that didn’t quite hit the mark & this week this great hearty bean & pasta soup. It ticked off all marks on my checklist, yummy, easy, filling & relatively healthy – ie not too much fat content. I also got to use some thyme from the garden & hopefully when the season is right I will also have some zucchini & beans from my very own garden to add.

Bean & Pasta Soup with Autumn greens

Based on the recipe from Donna Hay Autumn 08

¼ cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup thyme leaves
8 small zucchini, trimmed & chopped
2 litres chicken stock
200g orechiette pasta
500g green beans, trimmed & halved
sea salt & cracked black pepper
pecorino, to serve

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme & zucchini & cook for 5-8 minutes or until softened (for me this took a lot longer). Add half the stock & stir to combine. Puree with a stick blender until smooth then add the remaining stock & stir. Return to the heat & add the pasta & cook for 10 minutes. Add beans, salt & pepper & cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Top with cheese to serve. Serves 6.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Busy days & first pick of the crop

My apologies to all for the serious lack of posting, my only excuse is that I have been busy, busy, busy. I have been doing a lot of great cooking, though its all been so rushed that by the time I am half way finished eating it, I’m always thinking ‘oops, should have taken a photo of this one’. So what has been keeping me so busy? Well to start with I am back at work 3 days a week which as anyone with kids would know puts a serious dent into my free time. Next I have actually had quite a busy social life lately, weddings, hens nights, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, afternoon sitting in the beer garden at The Retreat with Chloe & some other mums & bubs on a nice sunny afternoon (sadly no alcohol was consumed!), which has all been fabulous fun.

Lastly in my spare time I have been working on our garden – in the photos you can see what a great help Chloe has been with the digging (she screams if we take her out of the dirt!) & also the mixed lettuces nearly ready to eat a couple of weeks ago. Both the veggie patch in the back & the front garden are slowly coming along & the veggie patch in particular I am most pleased with & have my fingers crossed that most things will actually grow & bear fruit. My herb garden is fantastic, it’s so much nicer being able to plant in a garden rather than trying to fit everything in pots on a shelf, a lot easier to keep alive in my opinion too. I have planted, oregano, chives, sweet basil, purple basil, Thai basil, coriander, mint, Vietnamese mint, rosemary, Italian flat leaf & curly parsley, sage & purple sage & tarragon – I think that’s all of them & most are pretty well established so are regularly being thrown into the kitchen pot.

As for the rest I have inherited with the house a very weird looking lemon tree, it has some sort of wasp disease that I have to cut away as soon as the fruit has ripened so the branches that are left look quite awkward. I have my kafir lime tree which I transplanted from my old courtyard, a miniature peach tree, some strawberries, a couple of chilli plants & have now planted some broad beans, leeks, garlic, beetroot, sugar snap & snowpeas. A couple of months & if it all holds on I will be harvesting some beautiful crops from my very own (and first) veggie garden. Oh & I cant forget the lettuces which I have just started picking as needed, much nicer than buying from those supermarket bins or even whole lettuces I find can be quite dodgy lately too.

So there you have it & hopefully so more food blogging very soon as I do have several cakes & a dinner party coming up with some potentially luscious dishes to show off.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Long Weekend Celebrations

To celebrate our 3rd Wedding Anniversary Michael & I went all out this year. Firstly on the actual date we had a scrumptious feast at Rockpool for dinner, this meal was sensational & lived up to all of my expectations, especially the steak. I wont go into any more detail except to say if you want a night out with great food, wine & service – give it a go.

The next event was a long weekend getaway – the first trip with Chloe since our holiday in Noosa back in November. We stayed at Morning Sun Vineyard in Main Ridge which was nice & central to everything, minutes away from wineries & a short drive to the beach. The place was fantastic, a modern 3 bedroom apartment with magnificent views overlooking the terrace & vines. The kitchen was stocked with breakfast provisions for each day, sausages, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn flakes, muesli, fruit, milk, orange juice & of course tea & coffee, all we had to do was cook it up on the brand new cook top – in fact there was so much food that we barely touched the provisions & felt very bad for not eating such gorgeous food, what we did eat was lovely, even the sausages which take a lot to impress me, unfort for Michael I am just not a snag girl, unless of course it’s a nice big kransky – but that is another story.

Being so small, with only 4 wines on offer, the staff were all very friendly & more than helpful with any questions we had & even arranged for the cleaner to come later in the day of our departure so we could hang around a bit longer. Chloe loved the big lassie like dog, Hero running around the garden & he was great with her too. The outdoor restaurant area also had great views & sitting under the shade of the grape vines was very relaxing, our wood fired margarita pizza was simple yet oozing with goodness. A great place to stay & for now the prices at $200.00 a night I thought were quite reasonable compared to most of what I saw when searching the net.

We also had another casual lunch & more pizza at T’Gallant. I love this place & last time I was in the area I dined in the restautant so this time I wanted to try the outdoor casual piazza experience. We had a mushroom & gorgonzola pizza & a garden salad, Michael declared the pizza possibly the best of its kind so top marks there. I also love their wines & as well as tasting great they come in beautiful bottles with romantic names such as Romeo & Juliet, so was very happy doing a fair bit of tasting & spending after my lunch, lucky we had the cheap lunch or I couldn’t have bought the wine! Note that this place is very popular & you may have to share a table or wait for a while, we were lucky we just managed to squeeze onto someone elses table as soon as we arrived.

Our best food experience by far for me was our private picnic at Montalto, I have been wanting to do this for years & finally made it. We thought the idea was perfect for Chloe, ie she could happily play while we ate to our hearts content instead of being stuck inside a restaurant with nothing to do but try & escape & make a lot of embarrassingly loud noise in complaint. You pay $70.00 pp plus whatever wine you select. On arrival you are given a map with clear instructions on how to stroll to your picnic spot which you then leisurely walk to past the vines & taking in the sculptures on display. On arrival there is a table set with white linen, crockery, cutlery & glassware just as if you were dining in the restaurant. There is a portable fridge off to the side which keeps your 3 courses of food cool & ready to eat when you are ready & a picnic blanket is also left out in case you feel the need for a nap or in our case was perfect for Chloe to play on. As you can see from the photos it a fantastic spread, firstly a plate of dips, relishes, bread & olive oil to wet the taste buds, next was a very generous & delicious ‘meat’ plate, rare & tender melt in the mouth roast beef on a green salad, duck breast with potato salad & quail on couscous. By this time as you can imagine we are nearly bursting out of our clothes but one look at the dessert plate & I was in, (I even took home the leftovers with me to enjoy later), the crème brulee was superb & one of the best I have ever eaten, a choc fudge brownie, some almond cake, cheeses, muscatels & a fresh fig to top it all of. All in all a fantastic food experience with a whole lot of romance thrown in for good measure, highly recommended once again.

All that and a bottle of Dom Perignon & I’m one happy girl

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Birthday & Another Cake

My good friend Jane has been visiting from the sunny shores (though mostly cold & raining lately) of the Gold Coast & happened to time her trip perfectly to fit in her birthday celebrations, which for a change I was able to join in on. Of course this meant I had to make her a cake. She requested chocolate so what better place to look for inspiration than Nigella’s Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame in Feast. When the Feast series was aired recently on the abc I caught her making the honey chocolate cake which I had overlooked until now. Its funny I can see a recipe a hundred times & not think much of it yet when I see it cooked on the telly it makes me drool & want to bake it right there & then, that for me is one great reason to watch food porn on tv – it makes me want to recreate what I see even more than looking in a shiny, glossy cook book. And of course Nigella with all of her suggestive oohs & aahs whilst cooking really makes you believe that it will be the most luscious thing you are yet to taste.

So for the cake, the mixture was really very runny with the addition of 250ml of boiling water which I was very dubious about, I’m sure the tv version didn’t look so watery. Anyway not to worry, I had to bake it for quite a while longer than the recommended time and it still came out lovely & very light & moist in the end. The sticky honey icing was rich, gooey & fabulous & for the finishing touch I even went so far as to make the bees even though Jane is in her 30’s. They were sort of cute though inedible unless of course that is you love almond icing in big chunks which I’m not a huge fan of even when it’s a thin layer to top a cake. Everyone loved the cake & it was described as not your normal chocolate cake as in ‘really you have to try some’. A great result & not too much effort if you skip the bees, so one to keep for future use.

The recipe can be found here at Caper berry Gravy where it was just as welcome it seems, for anyone interested in making this delicious cake

Happy Birthday Jane!

Monday, February 25, 2008

More birthday celebrations for Chloe!

Yesterday we had the big family party for Chloe’s 1st birthday – about 40 people plus a few kids which was just manageable – lucky I have a backyard now as there is no way they would have fit in the old place & lucky the weather held off & it turned out to be a great day despite the forecast. For food I decided on a nice table spread rather than a bbq as I thought it would give me much more time to sit & relax which was a nice theory but still didn’t work, food needed to be heated, passed out & drinks pushed on people too of course. I spent the previous weekend making loads of quiches which always leave the plate before they even hit the table, I think I only managed to score 1 myself yesterday which is a shame as I sit here starving today & wishing for leftovers. Also on the menu were dozens of sandwiches, fairy bread, sausage rolls & some cocktail franks which I thought would be fun for a kids party but I think are not going down too well today.

There was also a very delicious punch full of champagne, riesling, kirsch, lemonade, strawberries, oranges & apples.

For the fun part the cakes, I made this amazing pink cake, it’s a shame you cant see the inside as it was a vivid purply color thanks to the raspberries & pink food colouring. The recipe comes from Rosie Bakes a Peace of cake though I did change her decorating just a little to suit the theme, great recipe, great cake that not only looked good but tasted fantastic too, everyone loved it. I also made these yummy yoghurt & orange blossom cakes from Gourmet Traveller, which have been blogged about here previously if you want the recipe. They look fantastic & I love the Persian fairly floss. Note that I cheated a bit & made them as cup cakes to save time on icing them completely, great idea seeing as how I was still finishing the cakes as the guests were arriving. My mum also made loads of fairy cakes & cup cakes & I cant believe that every last bite got eaten, so much for my feast of leftovers today….

So the first year is over & I’m really looking forward to the 2nd – sure it will just as much fun as the first if not more.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday Chloe!

Yesterday my gorgeous little baby Chloe turned 1, I cant believe the year has gone so fast. We are having a big party for her on the weekend so yesterday I made a simple but yummy cake to celebrate, as well as being full of butter & sugar it also had pumpkin & prunes so I figured the first cake Chloe would eat wouldn’t be as bad as it could, we will leave that for the weekend! She loved it which is the main thing anyway. This recipe is courtesy of my friend Suzanne, I first tried it at her place a few months ago & loved it. It is light & moist & the orange flavour stands out, and don’t worry you cant taste the pumpkin if that would bother you. More cakes coming soon if I am satisfied with the results this weekend.

Reflecting on the last year with Chloe, it has been amazing, completely different to how I expected motherhood to be, as my friends would tell you I was probably the least maternal or settled of the lot of us so it came as a big surprise how quickly Chloe stole my heart completely. The year has been challenging, full of fun & laughter & nice to slow down for a change. I cant say I am ready to leave her to go back to the office so I’m glad that I am lucky enough to only be going back part time, that will be hard enough (just over 1 week to go). I wont get too mushy on you all now but will leave you of a photo of the pretty girl herself.

Pumpkin and Prune Cake

250g butter
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup orange juice
¾ cup cold mashed pumpkin (not butternut)
½ cup finely chopped prunes
2 cups SR flour
1/3 cup milk, approx

Cream butter, orange rind & sugar together until light & fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in orange juice, then sifted flour alternately with enough milk to give a soft consistency. Stir in pumpkin & prunes.

Spread into a greased Deep 20cm round cake or ring tin lined with greaseproof paper. Bake in a moderate oven for 1-1 ¼ hours (round tin) or 45 mins (ring tin) until ready when tested with a cake skewer. Stand for 5 minutes to cool then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For my icing, I mixed up some icing sugar, lemon juice & rind & boiling water, pour over cake & top with shredded coconut.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Oz Day

In a mad long weekend of barbecues & lunches with family & friends, as well as a spot of beach cricket, the only cooking I got around to was a lovely lamb casserole for Chloe which I would be highly tempted to eat myself & some breakfast this morning before heading off. This was actually the first breakfast I have cooked in the new house if my memory serves me correct, over 1 month & we have been so busy getting organized that cooking just didn’t manage to make it onto the morning menu until now. Hopefully there will be more to come soon too as I love a leisurely weekend breakfast to start the day & usually get me through to dinner time too.
I chose Bill Grangers French toast with Fresh berry sauce from Bills Food which was divine & an absolute cinch to make too. I grew up on savoury French toast with grated cheese on top, though lately thanks to some excellent local cafes I have been switched on to the other sweet, luscious, side of this dish. This one starts off with thick slabs of panettone, a quick dunk in an egg & milk wash & into the frying pan before topping with some whizzed up berries, sugar & lemon juice. Try it, you will love it I swear.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Housewarming to Michael, the beautiful Chloe & Me!

Last weekend I decided to host a housewarming just one month after we moved in, if you know me by now you would know that I love to throw a party so I was itching for the inaugural party at the new pad. We had a load of people coming, half with babies & most under 1 so lucky for that big backyard except for the last minute panic attack that was ‘Oh god there is no shade we have to buy a sail from Bunnings before everyone gets burnt to a crisp’ that with the first rain of the year on Saturday soon turned into ‘Oh god there is no cover how on Earth am I going to fit 40 people into my tiny house when there is nowhere undercover out the back for them’. Anyway to ease my mind we bought a sail & borrowed a waterproof gazebo so both angles were covered. In the end the rain held off & the sun mainly stayed away too so it was quite nice outside without any help.

For the food I kept it very simple this time, some snacks, wasabi peas, rice snacks, pretzels & a dip donated by my mum. For the main event 4 different types of sausages, 3 from the local butcher, lamb, beef tomato & basil & pork & fennel as well as some fabulous kransky (I never bbq without kransky) that everyone loved, some lamb chops & some chicken yakitori skewers that disappeared so quick that most people didn’t know they were there & I didn’t even get to taste them but apparently they were good, I will have to make them again some time soon so I can find out for myself. I also made lots of salads, a 3 bean salad that as well as tasting great, looked fab with the 3 different coloured beans, a couscous salad, greens & tomato salad & my mums famous potato salad (also made by her!). For the first time ever as each batch of meat came out it disappeared in minutes & for a moment there it looked like we would run out of food, luckily Michael kept it coming strong & we were even left with a few snags for Mondays dinner after all.

Desserts for me were the highlight, I decided on fridge food so I could do it all the night before which was a great idea until all of our power points went out at 11.00pm on Saturday night & we had to find a 24hour electrician before the food went off, great fun to be up til 1am (very late for us nowadays) the night before a big party. Anyway there were saved, number 1 was Nigella’s luscious & wicked Chocolate, cherry trifle from Feast – oh my god – everyone loved this one & it was so simple to make apart form the fact that I had to make a couple of packet chocolate cakes for the base as I couldn’t find anything premade that wasn’t iced or filled with cream. Anyway, chocolate cake, morello cherries, cherry brandy, chocolate custard & whipped cream, what more do I need to say! Number 2 were some champagne, berry & elderflower jellies from Jamie Oliver’s Happy days which were really great though with the cold weather were not too popular so guess what I have been eating since Sunday?

All in all, I was very happy with our first bash & am already planning the next one, Chloe’s big 1st birthday party in about 1 month. I might have a little rest after that, what do you think?

And here is the 3 bean salad recipe on request for Megan...

3 bean salad
1 can butter beans, rinsed & drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
500g frozen broad beans, thawed & peeled
1 tomato, chopped coarsley
1 red onion, chopped coarsley

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combines all salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients & pour over salad, mix well

Very simple indeed

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Upside Down Plum Cake

Last night Michael & I went to the lovely Dr Megs for dinner. It was wonderful to actually go out at night time for a civilized sit down dinner, its not very often we do this nowadays as (a) our friends don’t invite us over for dinner anymore now that we have a baby, (b) up until recently it was just all too hard with the lovely young Chloe demanding 110% of our attention & (c) the whole restaurant scene is not very welcoming to people with prams although we do find that pubs are much more accommodating & we love a good dinner in a beer garden with Chloe now that it is daylight savings, The Edinburgh Castle in Brunswick, our new local has a great menu & atmosphere & Chloe loves to stand around babbling & just generally keeping anyone amused as long as you bribe her with a piece of bread or cheese first.

Anyway back to dinner, as always when invited to dinner or lunch or just anywhere that I have the opportunity I stuck my hand up & volunteered dessert, another chance to test the new oven. I tried out this upside down cake from Bill Grangers, Simply Bill. As I have mentioned before, I love plums & am always trying out new recipes featuring them when they are in season. I didn’t read the recipe properly so was surprised when I came to make it that it was actually cooked much in the same way as a tarte tartin, ie making a caramel with the fruit in a frying pan first, then pouring over the cake mixture & baking in the frypan in the oven before turning out onto a serving plate, the difference being that it was a cake mixture & not pastry. The oven did really well with this cake, I cranked it up about 30c higher than the recipe asked to try & get the temp in my oven right for & it was cooked perfectly in the right amount of time, I think the fact that it was in an already hot frypan helped. I really need to buy me a thermometer of some sort to test out my ovens temp, sure you must be able to buy them in kitchen stores.

As I made this very early in the morning when Miss Chloe was sleeping I couldn’t serve hot out of the oven as suggested, instead serving at room temp with some double cream. Everyone had 2 big helpings which I think was a pretty good indication that it was a hit, the recipe is definitely a repeater & as always Bill didn’t let me down with this cake, soft cooked plums, sugary caramel on the top with a beautiful moist cake underneath & mmm of course I woke up wishing I hadn’t left the rest of the cake with Megan, though my body is thanking me. And a huge thanks to Megan & Andrew for a fantastic dinner, especially their first ever fresh pasta making effort of salmon filled ravioli - a big winner.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Well it seems like only yesterday that I was in my old place with my pristine kitchen fitted out with all the mod cons, ie lovely fan forced oven & dishwasher! To say the last couple of weeks have been hectic is an understatement. We moved into the new house on 21st December, worked day & night to unpack most of our stuff in a few days then had my family over on Christmas Eve for my mums birthday. So for my first opportunity to entertain we decided on mainly using the bbq just in case the stove & oven didn’t work. To start with I made some lovely bruschetta & dips, my favourite topping had to be the cannellini bean, rosemary & garlic, it was fantastic & definitely something I will be making again & again. So first thing to check off the list was that the stove top worked & even though it is very, very old it is gas so just perfect. The one bad thing about my last house was the electric hotplate which in my opinion is never as nice to cook on as a gas flame.

Next we did some white fish (so long ago I cant remember what), salmon & prawns on the bbq with some dipping sauces teppanyaki style, great idea & nice & light before getting into the man sized meat course. The main course was lamb chops, some fantastic kransky & some snags, along with an old fashioned potato salad courtesy of my mum, a green bean salad & a Capri salad with some Shaw River Buffalo mozzarella which as most of you would know is a dream when you can get your hands on it, unfortunately my parents thought it a bit bland! To finish off I tested out the oven by baking a chocolate pecan pie from the Green & Black cookbook which was delicious though a bit oozy, I’ve since found out that if I up the temp just a bit & cook for a few minutes longer, I have better results with my baking. I haven’t experimented all that much with the oven yet as its been stinking hot every other day & the new kitchen heats up a beauty. Hopefully I can get to know it well & be cooking up a storm very soon as in the old days.

As you can imagine, even though all of this food was spaced out over a long day, we were stuffed silly by the end & nearly falling asleep on the couch before everyone even went home, I didn’t even feel like eating all that much Christmas day so luckily for the main event we just had a simple lunch on at Michaels parents. Chloe had a nice first Christmas even though she didn’t have a clue what was going on, think next year will be much more exciting for her.

So anyway with xmas over & done with, Michael went off to the cricket on boxing day while I had a bit of a break with a couple of friends over for lunch. Since then it has been a whirlwind of shopping, lots of ikea assembling, some gardening & trying to get a bit more organized before we have our housewarming next weekend, please God don’t let it be too hot as we have practically NO SHADE in our backyard. I have picked the site for my veggie patch & cant wait to dig it all up & start planting so I have some excellent produce to cook with soon.

A couple of questions for you readers out there, does anyone know where you can buy stem/candied ginger in Melbourne, and ditto for a wide variety of miniature fruit trees, think blood plum, apricot, apple????

Hope to have some proper cooking blogging up & running again soon