Friday, 26 December 2014

My Christmas Fridge

My fridge is a scary thing!  Visitors who open it are taken aback …. they turn and look at me for an explanation.  The only thing I can say is "its got nothing to do with me" and then they give me that look of pity and then empathy. I live with a fridge obsessive, what more can I say.
Joining with Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe #46 your #Christmas Fridge
Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Coconut Ice for the Birthday Girl

Matilda was 2 yesterday and had an "Alice in Wonderland - Mad Hatter's Tea Party" on Sunday which was a glorious day. Dress ups were in order and so was a table full of tea party cakes!

I haven't made coconut ice for years but inspired recently by the blog of "Hotly Spiced" with delicately  pink jewels gracing her page, I thought this would make a perfect addition to the themed tea party.
This way to Matilda's party
Chalkboard with Chapter 1- Alice in Wonderland
Coconut Ice is better made the day before so that it has plenty of time to set hard in the fridge. Even though there is no cooking involved I remember there being some fairly heavy mixing action required. But I have some quick tips for that!

Matilda's amazing birthday cake

Matilda's mummy setting up the cake table
Ingredients ............…..
4 cups dessicated coconut
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 x 390 gm tin condensed milk
Pink food colouring

1x 8" square cake tin

What to do......................

Sift icing sugar into a mixing bowl,
Add coconut and mix thoroughly  so that the coconut and sugar are evenly distributed.

Cake Table

Now here is the trick......…..

Divide this coconut and sugar combo in half and place into separate mixing bowls.

Bowl No.1 will remain white

Bowl No.2 will be coloured pink

Pour half the tin of condensed milk into Bowl No.1 and mix with a knife to combine all the liquid, mix with your hands to combine as required, so that this becomes a smooth ball.

Set aside this white coconut ice.

Add a few drops of pink food colouring to the remaining half tin of condensed milk and stir to make it an even colour.

Pour the pink condensed milk into Bowl No.2  and repeat mixing process above.

This is so much easier than trying to add food colouring to an already solid ball of mixed ingredients. I was a little heavy handed with my Rose colouring, but then what little girls don't like a vibrant splash of pink at a party? I must get a dropper for this purpose in the future.

Lightly oil/grease an 8" square cake tin

Press the first layer of white mixture into the bottom of the cake tin - ensuring the mixture is evenly spread over the bottom of the tin.

Then add the pink layer on the top.

Cover with glad wrap and place in the fridge over night.

The next day turn the coconut ice out onto a board and cut into bite size pieces.  Mine made 64 small pop straight in your mouth - 1 bite size pieces perfect for little birthday parties.

Matilda in her Alice dress


Friday, 31 October 2014

From the sunbed - Far North Queensland

I have not done much cooking over the last couple of days but we have done quite a bit of eating and drinking. Holidays are such wonderful things!
We  rose on Wednesday at the ungodly hour of 3.30am, left home at 4.30am and after a brisk walk across the Tarmac at Tullamarine  board the plane at 5.30am and flew north to Cairns arriving at 9.30am Queensland time (no daylight savings here). Another hours drive north by bus along the idyllic coastline to Port Douglas and into the grounds of the Sheraton mirage resort. Ah... A deep breath's like coming home it is so familiar to us.. It means relax, completely chill and do nothing for the next 10 days, except whatever we want at a slow tropical pace. Over the last decade it is one of our most favourite places to holiday without having to leave the mainland.
The Sheraton Mirage was built on the shoreline of Four Mile Beach by the infamous Christopher Skase back in the 70s, it spreads over acres of beautiful tropical gardens, villas built within the  18 hole golf course, and crystal clear man-made swimming lagoons surround the hotel itself. Back in the 70s it was THE places for the rich and famous to holiday. Now days the huge hotel is in need of a makeover, it is a little tired in places and the maintenance and upkeep would be never ending. But the grandeur the vision and design of the resort is timeless and there is nothing like it in Port Douglas. And I have to say we love it even though some of it is a little dated.

Over the years we have done all the tourist things, been out to the Great Barrier Reef, on the Quick Silver, down in the glass bottom boat to view the coral and fish life, up in a helicopter to view the Daintree and reef from above and down the Inlet through the mangroves in a flat bottom tinnie to capture a glimpse of the crocs that survive in the warm tributaries. So now days our main focus is on sun,swim and where to eat, and there are plenty of those.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Pumpkin Soup

I am dragging myself around the house, off work for a couple of days with a virus (so the doctor said) and a hacking cough, that keeps me awake half the night.  No medication but Panadol 3 times a day and rest!
Its cold outside and is the perfect Melbourne day for soup, given my condition, its all I feel like making.
I am a little partial to pumpkin and with a couple of kilos in the fridge and because it takes such little effort, it was the obvious choice for lunch.
1 kg of pumpkin (I used Kent pumpkin)
1 large onion
Enough water  to cover vegetables + 1 stock cube or homemade stock (which ever is to hand) at least 500ml
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
For the garnish some chopped fresh herbs of choice, a grind of black pepper, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a retro swirl of cream.

What to do…..
A kilo of pumpkin might sound like a lot but once its peeled, deseeded and chopped up small its the perfect amount for two large hearty bowls.

  • Put the chopped pumpkin in a medium sized pot and cover with a generous amount of water or stock
  • If you are not using stock add a stock cube to the water.
  • Chop onion and add to the pot.
  • Sprinkle on the cinnamon and coriander
  • Bring to the boil and simmer until vegetables are soft and easily mashed.
  • With a stick/hand held wizzer, blend the pumpkin to a smooth consistency in the pot, you can pour this into a blender, but that is more washing up!
  • Don't forget to make a little tent with the tea towel over the stick wiz and the pot to stop any splatter, I hate having to clean pumpkin off the walls!

And its done, ready to serve.
Pour into a bowl or large mug and top with chopped herbs (I had mint and parsley from the garden), cracked black pepper, chilli flakes to boost the immune system and a dribble of cream to make it creamy!
Now that has to make you feel better.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

ANZAC Biscuits

Plain ANZAC biscuits ready for the oven

ANZAC Day drew the biggest crowds ever recorded in Melbourne this year.  A sign that "We Will not Forget". It was also the coldest morning for the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne - Click Here
However, the day unfolded into perfect sunshine for the diggers to march through Melbourne to lay their wreaths and poppies at the Shrine, followed by one of the biggest days in AFL football outside of Grand Final Day, with the traditional game between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG. You could hear a pin drop in the Stadium as the Last Post was played.

Watching the game with family with a bit of knitting between quarters! Love that footy jumper.
I was a bit late making my ANZAC biscuits this year - but better late than never.  I thought I would try a variation and add some homemade fig jam…..but in the end I decided why mess with a perfect recipe and stuck to the traditional ingredients. Crisp on the outside, chewy centre. See here for recipe.

Nan these are for you RIP 25 April 2003
          See also:

ANZAC Biscuits

Joining with Belleau Kitchen for April Random Recipe and Ros at AlphaBakes  "A"

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Daniel's Zesty Easter Coleslaw

Easter Sunday at our house is like a mini Christmas with all the family, old and young, not to mention the excitement of the Easter Egg Hunt in the front garden.  This year not wanting to go for the full blown sit down Sunday lunch we opted for cold roast chicken, hot jacket potatoes and coleslaw buffet lunch, find a seat or stand up, casual affair for about 25!

I began the coleslaw the night before, using my new "Slicer Dicer", and sliced finely a whole cabbage, grated 6 large carrots and a couple of sticks of celery. Sunday I started to mix in the whole egg (shop bought) mayonnaise as people started to arrive.  No. 2 son took over the coleslaw and added a couple of his own ingredients - the zest and juice of 1 very large lemon, together with a heavy handed glug of extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste and a strong arm to mix thoroughly. A fresh grind of pepper and sprigs of celery leaves to dress for the table.  Everyone said how much they loved my coleslaw!

1 large whole cabbage
6 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 large or 2 small lemons - zest and juice
Olive oil enough to loosen the volume of cabbage
440g whole egg real mayo (good shop bought)
Salt to taste
Black ground pepper and celery leaves to dress.

What to do. . . .
Mix together vegetables in a large bowl
Add zest, lemon juice and mix
Add mayo and enough olive oil to loosen the vegetables.
Salt to taste
Turn onto a nice serving plate
Grind pepper on top and dress with celery leaves.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Evolution Potato Salad

With each week of this Jamie Ministry of Food course I am attending, there are some lovely recipes to take away and repeat at home.  Some of these methods I would not necessarily have tried on my own especially when they seemed so simple like this Evolution Potato Salad and I have enjoyed the different choice of ingredients.

Its very welcoming when we arrive at the pop up trailer kitchen. Fresh herbs displayed outside and our aprons folded neatly on the boards ready for us to cook.  We go through some OH&S rules and kitchen etiquette, and then its full steam ahead.

Each week we come away with not only left overs but our folders are becoming stuffed with recipes.
The emphasis of this series of lessons is not to overcook the food especially vegetables and potatoes are no exception. It also concentrates on using less salt, sugar and fats.

This serves 4.

750g new potatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
a small bunch of fresh chives chopped
4 tablespoons natural yogurt
zest of 1 lemon

What to do…..
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil
scrub potatoes (leaving the skins on)
Chop large potatoes in half
Add potatoes to the boiling water and bring back to the boil for about 10-15 mins, depending on size.
Test potatoes with the point of a knife to make sure they are cooked through.
When cooked drain well in a colander and put them into a bowl.
Lightly whisk olive oil and lemon in a separate bowl
Season with salt and pepper and stir well.
Toss the hot potatoes in the dressing
Sprinkle over the chives and mix
Add the yogurt  and zest of lemon and combine so all the potatoes are well coated.

 Try this simple potato salad for yourself, you will love it.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Guinness Cake

I meant to make this cake for a chocolate challenge last month over at Belleau Kitchen but I didn't get anywhere near the deadline, then I meant to make it for a couple of  virtual birthdays but no, it didn't happen, so here it is in time for St. Patrick's Day - how appropriate.

This was selected from Books for Cooks No. 8 but is actually a Nigella cake from her book Feast, that  has a nice photo of what this cake should look like a dark black looking cake with a white frothy top of cream cheese icing, just like a pint of Guinness. Its a very easy cake to put together…. and it will serve 12 - a feast indeed.


For the Cake
250ml Guinness
250g butter
400g caster sugar
75g cocoa
140ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoons natural vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

For the topping
200g cream cheese
80ml double cream
100g icing sugar

What to do…

Heat the oven to 180C (160 fan forced).
Butter a 24cm (9 1/2in) springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper
Put Guinness with the butter into a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients and warm over a low heat until the butter has melted.
Take the pan from the heat and stir in caster sugar and sift in the cocoa.
Let cool slightly.
In a bowl beat the sour cream, eggs and vanilla together.
Pour this cream mixture into the pot, sift over the flour and soda and beat well until smooth with no trace of flour.
Pour into the buttered and lined cake tin and bake for about 1 hour  - until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean and the side of the cake have shrunk slightly away from the tin.
Take from the oven and cool completely in the cake tin before turning out.

To make the topping - do this by hand as electric mixer may curdle the cheese.
Beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy
Gently mix in the cream.
Sift over the icing sugar and fold in until completely smooth.
Spread the frosting onto the completely cooled cake swirling so that it look like the creamy froth of a pint of Guinness.

Oh My this is just sooooooo good! Dark, rich, chocolatey, but not heavy or dry.

This keeps well and can be baked up to two days ahead.
Cool completely before storing at room temperature in an airtight container.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Chicken Breast with Prosciutto

Jamie Oliver calls this Chicken Breast with crispy Posh Ham and you can find it in his book Jamie's Ministry of Food.

I attended my second Friday evening at Jamie's Ministry of Food, five week course, in the Jamie pop up kitchen that popped up close to work. Its an amazing kitchen inside, a converted trailer that houses 4 work bench tops including hotplates and fully stocked with all the cooking pots and utensils you might need, 4 sets of wall ovens and 4 sinks. So 12 participants, 1 instructor with a demonstration bench and 1 volunteer assistant.  Amazingly we all fit and cook quite well.

The first week was all about Kitchen safety and etiquette and eggs. We cooked spinach frittata, poached and boiled eggs. And we ate it all before I even thought to take any photos.

Even though I consider myself a pretty good cook we have so far cooked some different things and I am very happy to pick up some tips along the way e.g. knife techniques, bashing techniques (with a fry pan) and different ways of doing things that I can incorporate into my home cooking.

Last week was this lovely chicken dish accompanied with Evolution Potato Salad and Lemony Green Beans all of which can be found in Jamie's book by the way, which has now come down from my bookshelf!

It seems that most of these recipes at the course are designed for two - we eat one at the Pop-up kitchen with the rest of the participants and bring one home - this saves cooking on a Friday night which I am quite liking!

We started with this Evolution Potato Salad and put the potatoes on to boil (I'll come back to this later) and then set about the chicken.


2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 small  skinless chicken breasts (approx 120g each)
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
4 slices of prosciutto
olive oil

What to do…….

Pick thyme leaves off the stalks.
Carefully score the underside of the chicken breasts in a criss cross fashion so once it starts to cook will lay flat in the pan.
Season with pepper
Lay out some glad wrap (cling film)
lay two slices of prosciutto on the film
lay on the chicken breast
sprinkle with thyme and zest of the lemon (to your taste)
drizzle with oil
fold the prosciutto ends over the chicken to complete the parcel.
Lay on some more cling film and give the chicken a good bash with the bottom of your fry pan until the breast is even in thickness - about 1cm and quite flat.
Repeat with the other breast.

Heat the fry pan over a medium heat.
Remove cling film and carefully transfer breasts to the pan.
Drizzle with a little oil.
Cook for approx 3 mins on each side turning halfway through, giving the ham time to crisp.

These were delicious and took very little time to prepare and cook.

Looking forward to tomorrow and the next class.

Including this in Lavender and Lovage Cooking with herbs this month which features rosemary that I think would work equally well in this dish.