Friday, 27 December 2013

What does your pantry look like?

With all the renovations going in on at my house that didn't finish till Christmas Eve!!Ugh! there was not time for sorting out the pantry cupboards. Dare I open them and show you? My food cupboards are situated either side of the fridge.  They are not ideal as this makes them very deep.  I would like them transformed into pull out cupboards so you can easily access items at the rear.  Something for 2014.
Right hand pantry houses breakfast supplies, tea selections and coffee, herbs, spices, condiments, dried fruit and nuts, baking items and tinned food.

Left hand pantry houses medicine and first aid supplies (on the top shelf!), staples - rice, pulses, pasta, biscuits, flours, eggs and a whole compartment dedicated just to all the ingredients you would need for Chinese recipes. What does your pantry look like?
Joining with Belleau Kitchen for December challenge.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Chocolate Cake in a Mug

I know everyone has probably made these quick cake in a mug recipes, but I thought amongst all the expensive Christmas presents they will probably receive from Santa I would throw in a little after-Christmas activity for my grandchildren. Something easy they can make with just a little help from Mum and Dad.
I put together the dry ingredients and wrapped them in greaseproof paper and packed them into the mugs. The wet to be provided at their own home.

These little Christmas mugs are only a half cup size so perfect for little tummies.

Dry Ingredients
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa

Wet Ingredients
1  egg whisked add 1 tablespoon only (1 egg will be enough for about 3 little cakes)
3 teaspoons milk (15ml)
3 teaspoons oil (15ml)

What to do….
Thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients in a small jug
Add wet ingredients ( 1 tablespoon of egg, 3 teaspoons milk and 3 teaspoons oil)
Mix to a nice smooth paste
Pour into the cup and microwave for approximately 1 minute depending on the microwave
My cake rose over the top of the mug in 95 seconds.
Allow to cool a little, spoon out the centre and pour in cream or custard or tip out and have with ice-cream.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Silent Sunday


 I have been going through some renovations lately that seem to have dragged on and on.  The house is still undercover - it feels like Miss Haversham's from Great Expectations! Very Halloween, except enough is enough - I'm tired with it all now, the constant cleaning so the mess doesn't get walked all around the house, workers in and out.  Its annoying having to flip up the sheets every time you want to find something.  This was the case the other day.  I flipped up a sheet annoyingly and down plopped a book, very random! The Commonsense Cookery Book. First published in 1914 (although my book is relatively new).  Its a very plain book no pictures or photos and few diagrams. The black ribbon marker was neatly pressed inside the book and when I opened it at the page the receipe was for scones - plain and simple. So scones it was.


2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 tablespoons or 60g buter or margarine
1 cup of milk

What to do

Preheat the oven in readiness - it needs to be hot.
Grease or flour a baking tray
Sift flour and salt together
Melt butter and make up to 1 cup liquid with milk (keeping the rest of the milk in reserve for glazing)
Mix ingredients into a soft dough
Turn onto a floured board - knead lightly and quickly
Roll out to approx 2cm thick and cut with a round cutter 4.5cm makes about 12
Place on the greased tray and brush with milk
Cook quickly 8-10 minutes in a hot oven 230-260C
Cool on a tray and resist not breaking them open there and then!

They can be served with jam and whipped cream for the traditional English afternoon tea or a generous spread of butter or just nude!

Sending this off to Belleau Kitchen for November Random Recipe Challenge

Friday, 8 November 2013

This moment

Ah Friday night, end of the week - chinese restaurant and glass of wine - Joining with soulmama

Monday, 28 October 2013


I have had the most horrendous time lately.  What started off as an ensuite renovation turned into a major nightmare.  When the contractors pulled out the existing bathroom they discovered half the house was sinking and needed restumping, to lift the house up to level.  The red gum stumps over the last 60 years had rotted and needed replacing! No choice really it needed to be done before anything else could continue. The house had to be jacked up on hydraulic jacks and new concrete stumps installed.  No mean task and no cheap exercise. Consequently I have a large number of large cracks in my plaster that has started falling off my freshly painted walls and my neat and tidy house is covered in dust and dirt.  What seems like a dozen  workmen are back and forward from front to back to disappear down the hole in the ensuite floor much like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. To add to this there is no electricity, so computer, TV and  oven are null and void.  The stream of workmen is very distracting which makes it near impossible to settle with a book or magazine.

Cooking could be the answer except the stove top is the only thing in operation (gas) and all recipes would have to rely on elbow grease. Hence I ended up flicking through my cookbooks waiting for a "jump out at me" recipe to appear.
I have had "Marion - Recipes and Stories from a Hungry Cook" up and down from the bookshelf for a few weeks but now with some recently bought beetroots her "Colour-me-Autumn Salad (even though we are crawling through Spring) looked pretty good.
Marion Grasby competed in the 2nd Australian series of Master Chef back in 2010. Everyone thought she was the favourite to win but was eliminated just before the finals which made front page news down under.
So with my fresh beetroots and  some local Boosey Creek Blue Cheese from a recent visit to the Royal Melbourne Show  a salad seemed to be the answer.
4 large beetroots
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons honey
125g cheese
Mixed Salad leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used Maggie Beers Vino Cotta)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 What to do…….
I debated boiling the beets and then the electricity came back on!
So wrap the beets in tin foil and roast in a preheated oven at 180C for 45-60 mins (depending on size).
To test beets, use a skewer or sharp knife to pierce through the foil and if they are tender all the way through they are cooked.

 While the beetroots are cooking, spread walnuts on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and drizzle with honey. Bake for 5 mins or until toasted and caramelised. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Remove from the paper before they are completely cool.
Remove beets from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes,   wearing rubber gloves gently peel off the skins, which should come away easily, cut off the tops and bottoms.  Cut into quarters.

Crumble or break into chunks the cheese. Lay salad leaves on a plate, lay on the warm beetroots, toss on the cheese, scatter over the honeyed walnuts, drizzle with balsamic or in my case the beautiful rich vino cotto and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This made my day just so much better. I am squeezing into Dom's Challenge for October Random Recipes and Local with this lovely cheese and beets.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder with Red Wine

Before the weather gets too warm spring is the best time to cook lamb.  I spied lamb shoulders recently that took me back to my childhood and as they were only $7.50 per kg I couldn't walk past them and decided to buy a couple for a Sunday roast.  My mother would always buy shoulder instead of leg when we were living at home - probably for economic reasons but we loved it hot and then cold in sandwiches.

So I bought my shoulder vaccum packed and on the back was this basic recipe that I just had to try.


2kg shoulder lamb
olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper
2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste
1 whole bulb of garlic broken into cloves
1 handfull of fresh rosemary
1 handful of fresh thyme
3 carrots pealed and roughly chopped
2 onions quartered
2 sticks of celery cut into pieces

3 potatoes diced
1 large leek washed thoroughly and chopped
8-10 tomatoes halved
3 bay leaves
2 x 400g tins of diced tomatoes
750ml of red wine

What to do...

Preheat oven to 160C
Rub lamb with oil salt and pepper
Place in a roasting tin ( put mine on a rack)
Make small incisions all over lamb and insert quartered cloves of garlic
Add rest of garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, leeks tomato paste and tomatoes to the tray around the meat.
Tuck rosemary and thyme under meat.
Pour tinned tomatoes over the top and fill tray with red wine.
Cover tray with tin foil and roast in oven and walk away for 3 hours !
Remove foil from tray and continue cooking for an additional hour or until lamb is soft and tender.
Remove from the oven and rest the meat on a board for at least 10 minutes
Continue to roast the veg in the red wine until you are ready to serve the lamb.

Gently break up the meat pull out the bones!

I had great reservations that this would happen, but amazingly the shoulder bone gently came away from the lamb so easily I couldn't believe it.

Remove any herb stalks. Season to taste.

Serve with the thick vegetable wine sauce and any other vegetables you fancy.

This serves 6 and takes four stress free hours to cook - So delicious!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Wish I was in Sydney tonight!

Just watched the spectacular fireworks, light show, music and Last Post played on the Harbour in Sydney tonight on TV (click her to see ABC coverage) to commorate the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet. It was the most wonderful sight, wished I was there!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Damper - Australian Bushman's Bread

I have been meaning to make damper for a while, admiring the simple recipe on the back of the flour bag for ages. Tonight was the night and spurred on by Kate at whatkatebaked I got my act into gear. Tea Time Challenge this month is bread.

500g Wallaby's Bakers Flour
20g Baking Powder
10g Milk Powder
5g salt
15g Canola Oil (I used vegetable oil)
310g water

What to do....
Combine oil and water
Sift and mix all dry ingredients together
Add the liquids and knead into a dough.
Turn out onto the bench and knead until smooth
Dust with flour and bake in a conventional oven for 20 minutes at 210C

Tap the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds hollow it is cooked. 
I made mine plain but you can add cheese, bacon, herbs for savoury or fruit, sugar or cinnamon for a sweet version.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Jean's Ginger Fluff Sponge

On the weekend my mother-in-law gave me one of her cook books- Encyclopedia of World Cookery by Elizabeth Campbell published 1958, an unexpected gesture.  The pages are very very yellow and the linen cover quite worn and stained. By chance I just flicked to the very back and there was her famous Ginger Fluff Sponge recipe! I decided that the ingredients were written by one of her young daughters and the method written in an adult hand.  The ingredients at the bottom of that page, she told me, was for a plain sponge, and nothing to do with the one above.
I remember clearly as a young wife this ginger fluff sponge made an appearance at every BBQ, every birthday, christening or afternoon tea.  In fact any family occasion, the ginger fluff sponge was in attendance. We looked for it first on the cake table and if it didn't appear we asked the question WHY?
As you can see the recipe has been well used.  This would be perfect to enter into this month's Random Recipe Challenge over at Belleau Kitchen for September. Dare I make it?

Ingredients (as above)
4 eggs,
3/4 cup of sugar (I presumed caster)
2 dessert spoons flour (not sure if this was plain or self raising so I used SR. Was intrigued by the dessert spoon measure too!)
1 dessert spoon of golden syrup
1/2 cup arrowroot (not something I had in my pantry so a special trip to the shops for this one)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon carb soda or 1 tea spoon baking powder - strange options but I presume you made do with whatever you had in the cupboard.

How to do it......
Grease and line with greaseproof paper two small 8" sandwich tins (I only had 6" ones)
Separate the eggs and beat the whites until thick ( I found this difficult to judge)
I lightly whisked the yolks with a fork and beat them through the whites
Add sugar and golden syrup and beat until thick and creamy.Fold in sifted arrowroot and spices (do this in small amounts as the arrowroot can go lumpy!)
Add sifted flour, cream of tartar and either soda or baking powder which I used.
Pour into sandwich tins and bake in a moderate oven (what is a moderate oven?  As my oven is fan forced and tends to be very hot I opted for 160C) in retrospect it probably should have been hotter.
Bake for 20-25mins. I baked for 18 mins and then took the sponges out as they were as brown as I would have liked and when tested with a skewer  came out clean.
Cool and fill with whipped cream.

Well I think I have a long way to go, to even come close to my mother-in-law's ginger fluff sponge, as mine was quite dense, edible, but definitely not fluffy! I decorated mine with whipped cream on the top and a little sprinkle of cinnamon.

 In by the skin of my teeth once again to Random Recipes No. 32 at Belleau Kitchen Pop over and join in if you can.