2 October 2013

One Bowl Easy Apple Cake with Cinnamon Apple Chips

Everyone needs a one bowl cake mix up their sleeve that is no fuss and tastes amazing. This is it, you don't even need to peel the apples. I don't know where the original recipe comes from, it's one of those ones from my childhood which is written on a recipe index card in my mum's scrawling hand with Terry Bac inked in the upper right corner, Terry gave this recipe to my mum many many years ago and it is still the apple cake we go back to time and time again. Thank you Terry! The apple pieces melt into little pockets of apple mush and the cake goes a dark moist caramel studded with toasty walnuts. Autumn on a plate... in Southern Spring. 

21 August 2013

Sweet Potato, Sage and Hazelnut Ravioli

Oh you poor neglected blog! True to 'bear' type when the cold dark days set in I went into hibernation mode. I had all the best intentions of warming slow cooked dinner's and crumbly baked desserts... unfortunately this was combined with the lethargy of black bear who had gorged on pine nuts and found a warm den to curl up in. 

3 June 2013

Pistachio, Orange & Fennel Salad

Sometimes you need to remind yourself to slowdown, to sleep more, to eat better, to appreciate the simple things like warm doonas and cuddling cats on a cold morning, or piles of yellow ginkgo leaves in the park. Whatever you are doing - or overdoing - it's almost the middle of the year and it's time to have a break, not take on so much and just say no to things to free up time for you. This recipe is simple, super quick to prepare, good for you and delicious. We have just had the first day of winter so to stave off a cold, and generally keep you feeling fit, pistachios are ideal as they are energy rich with mono-unsaturated fat, antioxidants, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins and full of beneficial minerals like copper, zinc and selenium. Combine this wonder nut with the vitamin C in oranges and fennel, your vitamins A and K (among many others) from spinach and you have energy in a bowl.

27 May 2013

Pistachio Crumbed Chicken

The last 2 weeks have been busy with proof reading and exhibition organisation at work and international visitors at home, with no time to cook let alone blog. It's been very frustrating having lots of ideas and ingredients and no time to spare to cook so finally this weekend I caught up on some much needed sleep, washing and cooking and now my freezer is full of yummy things to eat for lunch and dinner for the coming week and I actually have clean clothes to wear. A couple of weeks ago was the farmers market and there was a great little stand selling pistachios - fresh, dry roasted, and roasted and salted. I bought bags of each and have been leaving great piles of pistachio shells in my wake ever since. (Don't add your dry roasted or fresh shells to the ever increasing landfill, instead add them to compost or mulch, they take around a year to start to break down and help stop the soil compacting).

12 May 2013

Pomegranate Syrup Date Cake for Mother's Day

It's mother's day today and even though I am on the other side of the country to my family this cake is for my mum who is nothing short of wonderful and for my sister who will celebrate her first mother's day today! Even though you aren't here with me to try this cake I hope you both have something delicious today xx

This cake has a dense semolina crumb with the sweetness of dates countered by the tart pomegranate syrup. The syrup should soak almost all of the way through the cake. You don't need more than a small piece of syrup cake and it goes especially well with a good strong cup of coffee. The recipe I have given below is for a half mix as mine was too high so the syrup didn't soak through enough. This tin is from Ikea and can still be used for a half mix, it just won't be as thick.

9 May 2013

Pomegranate & Thyme Cocktail

When I started thinking of the pomegranate and thyme combination I wanted to make a tart crimson sorbet with just a hint of herb. Try as I might I just haven't got the texture quite right. First it was too icy so I added some Cointreau and some syrup, then it wouldn't quite set but made an amazing slushie which got me thinking about cocktails. No messing about with the freezing temperatures of invert sugar - just shake and serve!

7 May 2013

Pomegranate & Preserved Lemon Couscous Salad

Last week we were in Perth visiting family, it was 27 degrees, blue skies,  sunshine, walks on the beach, lots of amazing food and an introduction to my new beautiful niece. My parents have a great garden with mandarin, lemon and lime trees, olives, roses, chillis, herbs, nasturtiums cascading and a pomegranate tree, its branches heavy with deep red fruit. This morning back in Melbourne its raining but I have several pomegranates filled with crimson arils, each one a little burst of sunshine as a pick me up. This salad is a wonderful mix of flavours and textures, the slightly warm robust pearl couscous, lots of fresh herbs, spiced sweet potato that's crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, the depth of the preserved lemon and then that pop of pomegranate seeds, all topped off with a nutty, tart, creamy mix of yoghurt, tahini and pomegranate molasses. All in all a beautiful and delicious autumn salad.

24 April 2013

Anzac Biscuits 3 ways - Traditional, with Rosemary and Gluten Free

Tomorrow is Anzac Day. I have had the privilege of visiting Gallipoli, a place both powerful and poignant, and a physical reminder that we must never forget. I visited on a warm spring day, the smell of rosemary in the air from the many bushes dotted through the peninsula scrub, fat bees lazily looping around their flowers. The sky was a cloudless blue endless except for the white streak from a jet engine and Anzac cove was calm, the only noise the gentle lapping waves despite the numerous visitors milling around, we were all mute, silent with contemplation, trying to reconcile what we knew of this place with the bright landscape itself. It is hard to imagine just how difficult this terrain is until you stand on the escarpment and look down on the narrow strip of beach where the troops landed. How it would feel landing in darkness on that beach, coming under fire and looking up at the series of ridges you cannot ascend is a horror I cannot imagine.

22 April 2013

Roast Garlic and Butter Bean Dip

For a few weeks now I have had two beautiful bulbs of organic garlic sitting in what is meant to be a fruit bowl but instead has become some sort of bowerbird nest of seasonal bibs and bobs, only the bowerbird is colour blind and eschews the brilliant blues for the brown and autumnal. Russet leaves snatched up before they are sullied by the drizzle only to be crushed in my pockets. Dried leathery seed pods whose satisfying rattle amuse for two blocks then are absentmindedly shoved into my bag. Tiny conifer cones, seeds dispersed, gathered with notions of never to occur craft projects involving silver spray paint. Only remembered when I reach into my pocket on returning home and discover the rumpled (and lets be honest, suddenly drab) remnants of autumn... then I throw them in the bowl and forget about them once more.

17 April 2013

Heavenly Caramelized Garlic and Goats Cheese Tart

If you do not already own an Ottolenghi cookbook - buy one today, any of them, all of them, it doesn't matter so long as you have one to inspire your own cooking. They are filled with recipe after recipe that you just want to make, each one such a perfect pairing of flavours and textures you wonder why you aren't eating them right now. If I am stressed I like to go to a foreign supermarket where I am so quickly distracted by the unknown ingredients with their exotic possibilities I relax immediately. If I am exhausted I have a hot bath and either read the New Scientist starting with the "feedback" page, or flick through a cookbook, not really reading recipes but absorbing the pictures and letting ingredients lodge themselves in my psyche. Recently I was  neck deep in hot water, holding Ottolenghi's "Plenty" aloft so as not to turn it into a soggy mess and this recipe caught my attention - caramelized garlic, soft goats cheese AND mature goats cheese in a flaky pastry shell, I was instantly relaxed... to the point of drooling.

15 April 2013

Ode (Odour) to an Allium - Confit Garlic

Last week felt long. Late nights at work, yo-yo weather, saying yes to too many things and way too much coffee and sugar. My body definitely wasn't happy with last week, my shoulders have the tension of an olympic weightlifter without any actual strength; no amount of dewy moisturising mist with outrageous youthful claims would put me in the 95% of the people surveyed who look "10 years younger" and thank god for YSL touche eclat for those under eye circles lest someone mistake me for Fester Adams older sister. Enter the wondrous properties of my favourite allium - garlic (and a glorious weekend sleep in). These paper skin encased, pungent bulbs have been lauded for their medicinal properties for centuries, with everyone from the ancient Egyptians and Hippocrates to modern dieticians promoting its health benefits. On top of all that, it tastes great. Good for me and tasty? Hell yes I will eat you.

7 April 2013

Nashi Pear Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

About a month ago on a roasting hot day I was driving back from a day in Healesville and stopped at one of those roadside fruit stalls, enticed by the promise of local stone fruit direct from the tree. I went straight past the apples and pears and was fondling the nectarines when the stall owner cut into a Nashi pear and offered me a slice. It was perfect - cold, crisp and unbelievably juicy. I left with a big bag of Nashi's and nothing else. 

5 April 2013

Saffron and Maple Poached Pears

When I was in primary school I had to do a presentation on armadillos. I have always been terrified of public speaking so to shift the focus from me and under the guise of ‘armadillo education’ I made a cake shaped like an armadillo decorated with alternate bands of chocolate chips and slivered almonds, complete with a life-saver eye. It was a huge success; whatever I said in that 5 minute presentation was completely eclipsed by my seriously awesome cake. Needless to say I got 100% for that assessment. Did I learn anything? Australia doesn’t have armadillos and kids will always want the slice of cake decorated with chocolate chips instead of almonds.

2 April 2013

Autumn Pork with Pear, Potato and Fennel

Autumn is here and while I always imagine crisp mornings and clear days will ensue with big piles of crunchy brown leaves in the streets Melbourne is not, nor has ever been, one for clear concise seasons (nor is Australia known for its deciduous trees). Last week it was baking hot with wild winds, this weekend has been cold with rain turning any leaves on the ground to mush and prompting a thorough sort out of of my clothes in preparation for whatever may come this week. All I know for sure is that pears will be involved. Pears personify the colours of Autumn with Beurre Bosc in cinnamon tones, Red Sensation Bartlett's with orange sunset hues and the Nashi all green tinged with yellow. Good enough to eat!

31 March 2013

Easter French Toast

Happy Easter Sunday! I have tried making hot cross buns a few times in the lead up to Easter but haven't been completely happy with any I made (though they all vanished anyway). I am a planner, I like to have an outline of what I'm going to be making for the blog weeks in advance, plan what will be available in different seasons, or what festive occasion is coming and play around with recipes so when the time comes it's easy. So even though I wasn't happy with my hot cross buns I still thought 'I have Saturday to get them right'... then I woke up with a cracking headache. At this point I cursed myself for having: (A) decided to start a blog in the first place when I could have days of absolutely nothing stretching out in front of me; and (B) deciding that my blog would have groupings of 3 recipes! Idiot! 

29 March 2013

Hot cross Easter pikelets

I don't know about you but the idea of spending several hours of my Easter weekend making hot cross buns just didn't appeal this year (plus I am yet to find a recipe that I really love and am willing to share). Instead these pikelets are super simple, quick to make and taste a lot like the real thing without all the waiting around or wondering how it is that shop bought ones stay soft for so long? Eat them warm or cold with lots of salted butter!

27 March 2013

Paasbrood (Dutch Easter Bread)

I literally do not know where time has gone this year... seemingly a minute ago it was Christmas and the long days stretched out before me. I would get home from work and lazily make some dinner, photograph it, eat it cold (one of the side effects of food blogging) then still have time to do... I'm not entirely sure what, but there was time for it anyway. Now it's Easter... I mean really, Easter? How on earth did that sneak up so quickly. The days are suddenly noticeably shorter and will only get shorter still in a couple of weeks when daylight savings ends. After the blur that has been the year so far the four day Easter break couldn't come soon enough, four blissful days of sleep and red tulip Easter eggs, of lazy breakfasts around midday and if the weather holds lying in the park eating more red tulip eggs.

18 March 2013

Three refreshing drinks inspired by WOMAD 2013

This time last week I was sitting under the boughs of a magnificent tree avoiding the direct heat of a particularly ferocious sun, drinking my first fresh coconut of the day and listening to the voices of the world. I was at WOMADelaide, a celebration of the World of Music, Arts and Dance, and an absolutley renewing four days for the body, soul and stomach. I love the respect people have for the venue, the beautiful botanic gardens in Adelaide and the way people of all shapes, sizes and varying levels of reservation leave all that behind and dance with utter abandon as the music goes through them - from the truly gifted whose whole bodies move with the rhythym, to those with arms flailing and legs contorting but radiating such joy it's infectious. So infectious that only now a week later have the tweaks subsided in what I can only assume are muscles I never knew existed in my armpits. It was dark, Jimmy Cliff in his 70's was rocking out with high kicks and ska dancing and if he was going to give it his all, then by god so was I!

9 March 2013

Pomegranate and Rose Water Marshmallows

Pomegranate and rose is a winning combination, aromatic with a hint of tartness. These marshmallows are the palest pink and are, dare I say it, a 'sophisticated marshmallow' (is this an oxymoron?), not dissimilar to Lokum (Turkish delight) but much lighter and not actually as sweet. Pomegranates have been an important part of culture and cooking for centuries, and have captured endless imaginations resulting in Greek myths involving them, cities names after them, countless golden age still-lifes painted of them and their inclusion on heraldic badges. Would Persephone be tricked by Hades into eating these pomegranate marshmallows? Well, if the underworld has pomegranates and marshmallows I think most people would be tempted...

7 March 2013

Indoor S'mores

If for whatever reason you can’t get out camping, or if camping appeals to you as much as sweet curdled egg white (we’ll get back to that in a minute), there is no reason you should have to miss out on the pure joy of campfire S’mores. I was lucky enough to grow up with an American mum who brought the S’more tradition to outback Australia, and to have a family who camped – a lot. Even when not camping we had a big open fireplace and would toast marshmallows on the end of sticks until the outside was charred and the middle oozing soft white goo, then carefully transfer it to a prepared granita biscuit with a square of milk chocolate. We always ended up happy with sticky hands and faces, and a trail of crumbs to our sleeping bags. Patience has never been a virtue of mine so instead of golden toasted marshmallows, I would jam mine right into the fire until it burst into flames, then wave it madly until it either went out or slipped off the stick into the ashes.

5 March 2013

Brown Sugar Marshmallows

There is something hugely satisfying about turning out a big slab of soft, springy, fluffy marshmallow covered in a drift of icing sugar and thinking, ‘I made that!’ After eating 15 marshmallows you think, 'OOohhhhhhhhhhhhh why did I make a giant slab of marshmallow when I am home by myself and am severely lacking in willpower’. Sometime later when they are all gone and you’re licking icing sugar off your fingers and out of the corners of the Tupperware you start thinking, they were so light, like eating air, maybe I’ll make more, I could easily double a batch! Do it…
I should clarify, do make marshmallows, they are easier than you imagine to make, but don’t double the batch unless you are planning on seeing lots of people soon.  They are just too easy to eat, dissolving in your mouth with a puff of sweetness and then you think, ‘just one more...’ . Before you know it the marshmallow has re-formed in your stomach as one giant marshmallow man and you are wishing the Ghostbusters were real and that they would help you with digestion, or save you from yourself by eating the rest of the marshmallows. Then you’d all sit around toasting marshmallows while Bill Murray tells jokes and compliments you on your cooking.

2 March 2013

Nasu Dengaku: Japanese Miso Glazed Eggplant (Aubergine)

On a cool summer's night wandering deep in an ancient cedar grove through a Japanese Buddhist cemetery we followed the faint light emanating from stone lanterns through the advancing mist. As we walked on from a place of deep calm and contemplation I turned to my husband and absentmindedly said, "Do you know... I really love eggplants". From that day forth in moments profound and solemn, in the middle of serious conversations about life or the future he turns to me with the greatest (feigned) sincerity and utters those words...

Yes, it was a little absurd to be pondering eggplant while walking through Koyasan, an extraordinary place of religion, history and beauty. In my defence we had just had dinner at the Shubuko temple lodging we were staying at and it was an extraordinary meal both simple and complex, thoughtful and thought provoking. Central to Koyasan cooking is the non-use of meat (including fish), garlic or onions, allowing you to really taste the ingredients, and the idea of balancing the food with the seasons so as to incorporate the flavours, presentation and colours of the season in the food being eaten for a holistic approach to food and your environs. Each dish is artfully prepared and arranged.

28 February 2013

Zaalouk: Moroccan Smokey Eggplant (Aubergine) Salad

First it's hot and muggy, now its cold and raining, there is so much humidity that anything crisp becomes chewy in a matter of minutes, not to mention that if I hear the whining of one more mosquito I may actually throw more than the latest issue of New Scientist at the wall. Such is the sleep deprivation that comes with February weather and an old house with gaps under every door. Thick soupy weather calls for full flavours and this smokey, spicy, warm eggplant salad has flavour by the truckload. In Morocco lunch is usually the largest meal of the day and can stretch out for hours starting with the more than substantial mezze course before moving on to the tagine and finished with a cinnamony flaky pastry bastilla... and a nap to escape the heat. Very civilised. The mezze is always generous and consists of several small salads, often of cooked vegetables, served with fresh crusty bread. My favourite is the silky Zaalouk which it is closer in texture to a chunky dip and while it isn't the prettiest of salads it doesn't sit around long enough for anyone to notice.

25 February 2013

Lamb & Eggplant (Aubergine) Moussaka

I have been wanting to do a series of eggplant (aubergine) posts for a while now as there is something so appealing about the glossy purple black form of the globe eggplant that I am drawn to them whenever I see them. It must be something deeply seeded in my brain as growing up we always had an eggplant growing soft in the back of the fridge as my mum too could not go past them without acquiring one. As it happens, this week when I decided it was finally eggplant week - could I find all the different varieties of eggplant I wanted? No, of course not. I did get some lovely glossy globe eggplants though and am holding out hope that there will suddenly be an influx of different eggplant varieties at my local fruit and veggie store by the end of the week...

When I canvassed my friends on what they thought of as quintessential eggplant dishes moussaka came up every time. I very rarely order Moussaka out as I have had too many disappointingly bland huge portions topped with gelatinous béchamel that do not do justice to eggplants, or cooking in general for that matter. I also very rarely make moussaka as it is a dish that is not for a 'quick' dinner as each component is made separately then layered together and cooked further. That said, you can make most of the components the night before then just assemble and bake... this recipe is rich and flavourful, perfect with a zesty salad and glass of wine. 

22 February 2013

Treacle Brandy Snap Cones

Bubbly, buttery, crunchy, heavenly spiced cones… Have I got your attention yet?
I relish brandy snap - baskets, tubular biscuits, cones, any format they care to come in really. At boarding school they were one of the few and far between desserts (along with chocolate self-saucing pudding) that I actually a) wanted to eat  and b) wanted seconds of… needless to say we didn’t get them often. In our little kitchen we had tried a few times to make brandy snap baskets without much success, ending with hot batter (albeit wonderful tasting batter) that wouldn’t hold its shape. The trick is the cooking time.

20 February 2013

Pistachio, Cardamom & Orange Flower Water Ice Cream Cones

When I cook with orange flower water I dab a little on my wrists, or a put a splash behind my ear as it's so fresh, light and perfumed it is the perfect scent for warm summer afternoons. It is also the perfect flavour for summer, in sorbet or a refreshing cocktail, and pairs especially well with pistachios. I wanted a thin buttery cone that could stand alone as a wafer thin biscuit, but would also compliment everything from a good vanilla bean ice cream to a rose sorbet. I ate more of these hot from the oven than made it to 'cone' stage, I kept trying them 'to make sure they were done'. I also persevered with putting three on a tray to bake even though I knew I only had time to roll two of them into cones before they were too cool and cracked. I hate wasting food so I really HAD to eat the cracked ones rather than let them go to waste.

18 February 2013

Homemade Chocolate Waffle Cones

In the words of the soca singer Alphonsus "Arrow" Cassell I'm feeling hot hot hot, feeling hot hot hot; hear it from the top feeling hot, hear it from the top feeling HOT! Although unlike the song the last thing I want to do is party in this heat, instead I'd settle for sitting in a cold bath eating ice cream! I am obsessed with Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream which I will happily eat from the tub, unfortunately without some form of portion control I will happily eat my way through the whole tub, such is its deliciousness. Enter the Ice Cream Cone. Bowls come in many sizes but ice cream in a cone is limited to the size of the cone, and these chocolate ones are perfect mini-cones.

12 February 2013

Buckwheat 'Galettes' with Asparagus and Gruyere

Happy Pancake Day! If you think you have missed the boat on celebrating with a breakfast pancake, fear not... you have the whole day ahead of you. Years ago when I was still young enough for mum to cook most of our meals, she happened to be away and dad was left in charge of dinner. We all dutifully ate grown up food along the 'meat and three veg' lines every night, except one night when mum called just as we were sitting down to dinner and asked what we were having... pancakes with golden syrup. Sigh, we really should have just had pancakes every night.
In France beautiful savoury crepes made with buckwheat flour are called 'galettes', and are filled with cheese and/or ham and sometimes come with a cracked egg on top, the whites just set and the yolk all runny. Anyone who has ever had breakfast with me knows I cannot abide runny yolks. I would rather cook an egg until it doubles as a bouncy ball than chance softness of any sort, such is my loathing of oozing yolk. As such, I have not gone down the egg route, instead opting for a simple combination of asparagus, béchamel sauce with nutmeg and lots of gruyere topped with freshly cracked black pepper.

11 February 2013

Sesame & Ricotta Hotcakes with Tahini Honey Butter

I am loving experimenting with pancakes in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday, they just may be my ideal food as they are quick to make and can be modified endlessly to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While I usually tend towards the thin lacy crepe I feel it is my duty (tough though it is) not to neglect the thicker hotcake. Maybe my years of shunning the hotcake is unfair to a 'genre' of pancake but I have eaten a lot more mediocre thick pancakes in my time than I have crepe failures... there is just a lot more that can go wrong with the consistency. These hotcakes are super light and fluffy with the added depth and nuttiness of sesame seeds and tahini, a good source of antioxidants and calcium (these are practically a health supplement!).

10 February 2013

Streusel Crepes with Candied Orange Syrup

It's only 2 days until Pancake Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday) and I am going to make pancakes for everyone at work on Tuesday morning as we all hit the ground running this year and it's nice to take time in the morning to a) eat and b) talk... not my usual start to the morning which involves a coffee on the hoof and a "don't talk to me, I'm not ready to face people yet" glare. Pancakes are a staple Sunday breakfast for many as they usually have all the ingredients in the house and are quick to make, but I want to make something that my colleagues wouldn't make themselves. I love streusel topping on most things, it is a simple (and quick) addition that adds so much extra flavour and texture to muffins, cakes, pies.. the list goes on, and now I urge you to try it on pancakes or crepes. The candied orange syrup take a little longer but can be made early and then stored in the fridge for up to a week. It is like the mild, sweet natured cousin of marmalade, with just a hint of rind which stops it being sickly sweet and has the consistency of honey with a golden orange glow.

2 February 2013

Simple Tomato Salsa

Tomato salsa is so basic but so remarkably satisfying. I can demolish a large bowl in a matter of minutes as it hits all the receptors in my brain for good food - it's fast, fresh and full of flavour. My Great Uncle Henry, a strawberry farmer from Watsonville, California, was a gruff man with a penchant for bolo ties, a dead pan humour that terrified me as a child and could make fresh salsa using only tomatoes, fresh jalapeños and red onion that was out of this world. Maybe it was the Californian sunshine, the absolutely ripe red tomatoes or it could be the juxtaposition between the salsa and the crates of sweet fat strawberries we lived on but something about this tomato salsa was memorable.

31 January 2013

Nectarine & Mango Salsa

I have not eaten anywhere near enough stone fruit this season so am stocking up while I still have the chance. My favourite are white nectarines which seem to only come as rock hard or 'eat me now or tomorrow I will be brown'. So as well as 'au naturale', I have been brûléeing like mad to top Pavlova, yoghurt and ice cream; and now with a warm day I am breaking out the salsa. Sweet and chilli hot salsa goes beautifully with all summer foods - as a nibble with poppadums for a gathering, alongside a piece of grilled fish or with that addictive warm salty squeaky cheese haloumi.

29 January 2013

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Oh Melbourne, while I do love your idiosyncratic weather, sometimes... let's just say the Australia Day public holiday... I wish you were a little more consistent. After all it is summer, and summer in the 'sunburnt country', so one might reasonably expect sunshine, warmth and a lazy day around a BBQ wearing a hat and heaven forbid, shorts! Instead I ventured out for my morning coffee (to wash down a vitamin D) in long sleeves...
Today's current lack of sunshine aside, the long days and fresh ripe produce make "cooking" easy, for me summer food is all about colour, flavour and sharing. Salsa in its innumerable forms can make a great accompaniment for BBQ'd meats and fish, or on top of quick quesadillas toasted on the grill. Above all else it is a healthy, easy to assemble, flavour packed grazing food that can fill the gap between lunch and twilight on those summer days that feel dreamy and endless.

25 January 2013

Brown Sugar & Spice Pavlova with Brûléed Nectarines

Modern Australia is made up of so many cultures and traditions, from the original inhabitants of the land  through to the newest of migrants. For me, Australia Day is about celebrating this diverse multicultural range and what better way than through food. I am a first generation Australian and thinking about my own heritage I have come up with my Australia Day Pavlova to represent me - Brown Sugar & Spice Pavlova... with brûléed nectarines just because they are amazing.
Using brown sugar is a nod to my American mum who taught me the wonders of candy making (and love of cooking in general), this pavlova tastes like a wonderful light version of American brown sugar fudge "penuche". From my Dutch father I have incorporated those aromatic Trade Route Spices which I (and the Dutch) can't get enough of - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cardamom. The Pavlova bakes to a sun kissed creamy brown with flecks of spice throughout and the combination of flavour and texture is heavenly.  

23 January 2013

Decadent Chocolate & Cherry Pavlova

All I can say is cream and fruit can cover a myriad of structural problems so even when a Pavlova is a "failure" it is a success… and this tasted phenomenal.
This Pavlova started with all the hallmarks of a successful show-stopping dessert. Cherries are in cheap, ripe abundance at the moment so I wanted to use Nigella’s chocolate Pavlova as a platform for fresh cherries by incorporating the flavours of that Aussie classic chocolate bar the Cherry Ripe (dark chocolate, moist coconut and glacé cherries) into the meringue before cooking. The idea being that with the shell made the night before, I would be destined for an effortless end of meal flourish with a dab of cream and scattering of glossy cherries. Unfortunately my kitchen appliances had other ideas…

21 January 2013

Classic Pavlova: for Australia Day

Happy New Year and Happy Australia Day week! While the end of January seems a little late in the year to be giving New Years' wishes, I have been a little lax in getting back into the swing of things since Christmas. So with the first week back at work under my belt and now my first blog for the year I will race past Christmas and towards that merciful public holiday for those back at work with the year stretching out in front of them - Australia Day. Christmas was the ideal antidote to a busy year with a long relaxing break in WA with family reading, camping, snorkelling, fishing and of course eating - glazed ham, black brim from river to BBQ in a matter of minutes, caramel flan with a hint of orange, iced cherries, zesty quinoa salad, turkey quesadillas with exceptionally hot jalapenos, chicken curry with eggplant from the garden, Dad's corn chowder (it's not camping without it)... the list of good, restorative, tasty food goes on.

I ummed and ahhed over Australia Day fare, with vegemite and lamingtons being the forerunners, or some canny composition of the two (the idea of which was met with concerned amusement by my husband, turning to horror when he realised I was not joking). I have not entirely shelved the idea but without time to experiment I am going for that "Aussie" favourite that is so perfect for summer get togethers while every berry and stone fruit imaginable is ripe and ready, the Pavlova.