Tuesday, March 26, 2019

TWD - Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sables


This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sables.  These cookies contain toasted buckwheat flour, which gives the cookies their distinctive flavour and colour. They are also studded with chopped chocolate.

I loved the smell of these cookies while they were baking - the buckwheat’s distinctive nutty aroma filled the kitchen.

I also enjoyed the flavour of these cookies - they are so good. And I was delighted that the cookies did not spread into each other!

These cookies are what other Doristas call “keepers”.

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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Popcorn Chocolate Chip Honeycomb Cookies


You can't spell truth without Ruth.
                                                    Aminatou Sow, RBG

When I made my Irish Gold Rush Cupcakes, I made a big ol' batch of honeycomb for decoration, and had tonnes left over.  I ate some and gave some away, but I still had a heap of it, so I thought that the honeycomb would  go great in these Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies in place of nuts.

I used salted olive oil popcorn that I had been given at a screening of RBG but did not eat.  Rather than waste the popcorn, I took it home to cook with.  If you haven't seen RBG, I seriously recommend that you seek it out and watch it.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg changed the course of life for Western women through her legal activism for equality for men and women.  She herself had to overcome a strong prejudice against women lawyers to succeed.  Ruth also had an amazing husband by her side who was ahead of his time, supporting Ruth's career and doing all the cooking (because she is apparently a lousy cook). It is a terrific documentary, and Ruth's life is inspiring.

Let me tell you, these cookies may not be lookers, but they are seriously delicious.  My cookies were a little more spread than they should be - maybe it was the hot weather, maybe it was the melting honeycomb, it matters not.  The taste is all that counts, and they were good.

If you would like to try these Popcorn Chocolate Chip Honeycomb Cookies, you will need:

1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped honeycomb

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  With the stand mixer on low speed, add the flour into the butter mixture and beat until just combined.

Using your hands, lightly crush the popcorn. Using a rubber spatula, fold the popcorn, chocolate chips and honeycomb into the cookie dough.

Place tablespoons of   cookie dough onto the baking sheets, about 3 cm apart.  (Mine still spread into each other.)  Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until they turn golden brown (~ 15 minutes).

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets before carefully removing them with a plastic spatula.

Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

All Day Breakfast (Bauernfruhstuck)



Rise and shine, it's brekky time!  I have never been one for skipping breakfast, as I wake up ravenous pretty much every day.  During the working week, my breakfast is consistently cereal with fruit because that is a quick and easy option.  However, on the weekends, I will sometimes take the time to experiment with other things for breakfast because I have the time to cook, and I have whatever is in my fridge at my disposal.



A novel way to try a fry up is Anja Dunk's recipe for All Day Breakfast.  It is a hearty way to start the day, hence its other name, the farmer's breakfast, as it would provide enough nutrition to keep a hard working farmer on the go.  



The All Day Breakfast is a little like a frittata, in that it is based on eggs, and then you add whatever you like to them.  For example, I did not have the suggested ham on hand, but I did have sliced silverside, which I popped into my dish.  This dish also features potatoes, so if hash potatoes are a big part of your breakfast, you can also cover off that base in this one delicious dish.

To make your own all day breakfast in a size sufficient to serve 4-6 people (I obviously made a serve for one), you will need:

25g butter
500g thinly sliced cooked potatoes
6 thinly chopped spring onions
6 thinly chopped slices ham
100g blanched green beans, chopped
5 eggs, whisked
100ml sour cream or cream
80g grated cheese
40g grated Parmesan (I skipped this as I didn't have any)
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Melt the butter in a large oven proof frying pan, then add the potatoes.  Fry the potatoes for 5 minutes until they start to turn brown at the edges.

Add the spring onions, ham and beans to the pan and fry for another 2 minutes.

In a large jug, whisk together the eggs, cream, cheeses and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan, tilting the pan from side to side to ensure the egg mixture is evenly spread across the pan.  Fry the mixture for 2 minutes.

Put the frying pan into the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is golden brown on top and the eggs are set.

Eat and enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

TWD - Moroccan Semolina and Almond Cookies


This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Moroccan Semolina and Almond Cookies.  

These unusual cookies are made with semolina, almond meal, lemon zest and icing sugar.  They puff up and crackle in the oven, giving them a distinctive appearance.

These cookies are slightly grainy in texture, but are utterly delicious - crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.  I really enjoyed them and would make them again.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Irish Goldrush Cupcakes for St Patricks Day


It is St Patrick's Day today, so time to get out your best green finery, drink green beer and sing Irish songs.  In Australia, there is a St Patrick's Day parade held in many cities and towns around the country so that people can celebrate their Irish heritage - or their wannabe Irishness!

I decided to make cake to celebrate St Patrick's Day, because that is what I do.  I saw what looked like a great idea for Irish Gold Rush cupcakes online here. These cupcakes look super, but unfortunately I encountered a few problems trying to make them.  First up, the recipe lists sugar in the ingredients, but not in the method, so there was no prompt to add sugar to the cake batter.  I wondered about the weird rubbery texture of my batter and stuck my cupcakes in the oven for 10 minutes before I re-read the ingredients and realised that there was no sugar in the batter. Those cakes went straight to the garbage.  

Instead, for round 2, I made the good old reliable Primrose Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes and dyed them green.  Here are the cakes with their centres all hollowed out, ready for the chocolate sauce (or in my case, Nutella) filling:


And here they are again, filled with a teaspoon of Nutella: 


I skipped the alcohol in the filling, as these cupcakes were going to be taken to work for my colleagues.

My next hurdle came trying to make the honeycomb for the topping, using the Scranline method.  The method said to boil the ingredients until they turned golden brown - umm, but they were golden brown almost straight away because one of the ingredients was golden syrup.  If you watch the video that accompanies the recipe (which I only did afterwards), you are told to boil the ingredients for 5-6 minutes.  There was no timing given in the written recipe. I believe that I removed my attempt at honeycomb from the heat way too soon, as I ended up with a delicious but sticky, stretchy, taffy-like substance, which also went to the bin.  

I remembered that Johanna had made honeycomb recently, so I went to her blog and made the recipe she gives for honeycomb instead.  Success: 


I now have a metric tonne of honeycomb (or what seems like it!), but it worked like a charm so that I had viable, crunchy honeycomb for the gold nuggets on top of my cupcakes.

As I had now diverged so far from the original recipe for the Irish Goldrush Cupcakes, I decided to keep going down that track.  I used my favourite vanilla frosting from the Primrose Bakery, dyed a festive shade of Irish green, to ice the cakes, and in addition to the gold honeycomb nuggets, I added a rainbow (to represent the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - get it?) in the form of a sour strap:  


I was pretty pleased with the end result, and the cupcakes were delicious if I say so myself.  I liked the "surprise inside" of the Nutella, which complemented the honeycomb nicely.  No-one at work got the Irish theme until I explained it, but that's OK.

Are you doing anything for St Patrick's Day?  Do you have an annual tradition like going to your local for a green beer or marching in the St Patrick's Day parade?

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

TWD - Banana-Chocolate Chaussons

 
This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Banana-Chocolate Chaussons.  I am not a French speaker, so I had no idea what this was until I read the recipe.  I was relieved to see that a chausson is simply a turnover - puff pastry filled with a sweet filling.


I am rather time poor this week, so I was glad that this was an easy recipe.  Basically, it involves cutting puff pastry sheets into squares, filling them  with chopped banana, chopped chocolate, sugar, butter and nutmeg, and baking them until puffed and golden.

The bananas meld into the chocolate during baking, so the filling is like a very smooth, creamy chocolate paste, not unlike Nutella.  I enjoyed my chausson as is, but you could serve it with cream or icecream to jazz it up if you wish.  The only requirement is that the chaussons are served warm (my favourite) or at room temperature.  Delicious and easy - a winner!

To see what everyone   else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lemon Chia Seed Cake


Recently, I picked a copy of a Delicious magazine cookbook.  I was attracted by the lovely looking dishes with a slightly healthier twist.

The first recipe that caught my eye was a Lemon Chia Seed Cake, which a Web search indicated is by Sydney chef, Matt Moran. This cake is made entirely on wholemeal flour, which intrigued me, because I would have thought it would make the resulting cake quite dense.


Wrong!  The cake was as light as a feather, and absolutely delicious.  It went like hotcakes at work, and I admit to taking an extra slice because I liked to so much.  

The cake contains black chia seeds, which pleased me because I could use up some of the chia seeds I already had (and now don't know what to do with).  It  is lightly flavoured with lemon, and lemon zest decorates the cake, which adds to the light lemon flavour.


Instead of the yoghurt icing, I made a lemon glaze, for the sole reason that the glaze is more transportable.  However, if you were making this at home, yoghurt icing would be perfect.


To make this cake, you will need:

2 tablespoons black chia seeds
80ml milk
400g wholemeal plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g butter
200g light muscovado sugar (I just used brown sugar)
2 eggs
juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
250g Greek yoghurt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and lightly grease or oil a 22cm ring tin or bundt pan.

Combine the chia seeds and milk in a small bowl and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy ("creamed", in the old parlance).  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Add the chia seed mixture and the lemon juice and zest and beat on low until just  combined.

Alternately add the flour and yoghurt to the cake batter in two batches, beating on low until just combined.

Scrape the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

Once the cake has cooled, unmould it and ice with yoghurt icing or a simple lemon glaze (made with a mixture of icing sugar and lemon juice).  Decorate with more lemon zest, if desired.

Serve and enjoy!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Spottiswoode Hotel, Spotswood

 
Work isn't just about money, Mr. Wallace. It's about dignity.
(Mr Ball to Mr Wallace in the movie Spotswood (The Efficiency Expert in the US))
                   
 
Have you seen the Australian movie Spotswood?  It is one of my favourite movies, and is named after a suburb in Melbourne.  Spotswood is the location of the fictitious Balls, a moccasin factory owned by the benevolent Mr Ball, who is privately selling off  his assets to keep the factory afloat for his less than diligent workforce.  The workers seem to spend more time on tea breaks and slot car racing than actually making moccasins, so it is not surprising that the factory is going broke.  Mr Ball brings in Mr Wallace (Anthony Hopkins), an efficiency expert, to try and find a way to stem the losses from the factory.  Mr Wallace learns from Mr Ball that there is much more to life than profit, which I think is a terrific message. 
 
Carey (played by the magnificent Ben Mendelsohn), is the main character and one of the factory workers, who is tasked with helping Mr Wallace review the workings of the factory.  He fruitlessly pursues the romantic attentions of Mr Ball's daughter (played by Rebecca Rigg, who is married to the gorgeous Simon Baker in real life), while being blinkered to the affection right before him of Wendy (played by the talented Toni Collette).  One of my favourite scenes in the movie is right at the end, when Carey and Wendy sit overlooking Port Philip Bay, while Donovan's fabulous 60s ballad Catch the Wind plays through the credits. 
 
Just before Christmas, Tim and I went to Spotswood for lunch at The Spottiswoode Hotel.  The Spottiswoode Hotel is conveniently located just across the road from the railway station, so the easiest way to get there is to catch a Werribee line train and get off at Spotswood.  There is a lovely old fashioned fireplace in the hotel dining room, which is perfect to warm body and soul on the many chilly days in Melbourne.
 
 
A glass of wine or beer doesn't hurt either:
 

We went to The Spottiswoode Hotel on a Sunday so that we could partake of the Spottiswoode Hotel's Sunday lunch special - roast meat with vegetables and gravy for $10 .  Bargain!

 
The serve is very generous, so you won't leave hungry.
 
Afterwards, we went for a walk around Spotswood to burn off some of our lunch and make room for dessert.  We chose the Candied Bakery, on the same road as The Spottiswoode Hotel, for cake and coffee.  Candied Bakery styles itself as "An Aussie bakery with an American twist and European influence." In other words, it has two bob each way.
 
Candied Bakery has an amazing selection of pies, cakes, tarts and biscuits. My personal favourites are the jam filled lamingtons and the custard filled doughnuts.  However, on this occasion, because it was nearly Christmas, we each ordered a fruit mince pie:
 

The lovely, buttery pastry shell of the pie gave way to a generous amount of spicy, fruity filling:


If you haven't been to Spotswood, it is well worth the trip.  They also have a Science Museum for the young and young at heart, and a walk along the footpath near the bay is a very pleasant way to spend some time. 

The Spottiswoode Hotel
62 Hudsons Rd
Spotswood VIC 3015

Candied Bakery
81A Hudsons Rd
Spotswood VIC 3015

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

TWD - Honey-Blue Cheese Madeleines


For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I made Dorie's Honey-Blue Cheese Madeleines.  This recipe arose from Dorie eating honey and blue cheese in a bar, and her love of the flavour combination inspired this recipe.

I would not have expected blue cheese to work in madeleines, which I primarily associate with sweet flavours, but these madeleines surprised me.  The blue cheese worked well with the honey, and I found the flavour of these madeleines much more interesting (in a good way) than plain old madeleines, which I find slightly uninteresting but for their elegant shell shape. The blue cheese adds a salty, sharp tang to the madeleines, which Dorie recommend serving with wine.


I was pleased that my madeleines had the desired "hump" on the reverse face.  The batter more than filled my 12 madeleine moulds, so I used up the rest of the batter by baking it in a patty cake tin.  It worked a charm, and I kind of like the flying saucer look of the patty cake madeleines.

To see what everyone else baked this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Monday, March 4, 2019

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes


Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday.  It is the last day in the church calendar before fasting begins on Ash Wednesday.  I think it is fitting to share a really good pancake recipe with you today that you can make for your own observance of Pancake Tuesday, if you choose.

This recipe is for Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes, and comes from the Quaker Oats website.  You don't have to add the blueberries, but if you have them on hand, they make the pancakes luscious and fruity.  I liked this recipe as it included oats to beef up the pancakes and to make them a little healthier with the fibre and protein they provide.


To make these pancakes, you will need:

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup traditional rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 lightly beaten egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix together the flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  In a medium jug, whisk together the milk, oil and egg.

Pour the ingredients from the jug into the bowl of dry ingredients, and fold together with a rubber spatula until all of the dry ingredients have been just moistened.  Gently fold through the blueberries.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter.  Put one quarter cup lots (one per pancake) into the frying pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Flip the pancakes when they are bubbly on top and the edges look set.  Once cooked on both sides, flip the pancakes onto a plate to serve.

I served my pancakes with yoghurt, maple syrup, LSA and raspberries.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Fig Clafoutis Tart


Today is Transfiguration Sunday.  I only know this because for the first time in years, I attended church.  I have accompanied a friend to her church, where her husband preaches, a few times in recent years, but I cannot remember the last time I attended a church of my own denomination before today.  

I had a number of motivations for deciding to attend - not least of all the fellowship of other human beings, and the wonderful music that is part and parcel of the services in my church.  There was morning tea afterwards, where I met a few of the parishioners over sandwiches and tea.  The service made me feel lighter and relaxed, and took me back many years to the church school that I attended, making me feel younger!

The sermon was pertinent to me, although the visiting pastor who prepared it could have no idea of this.  It centred around the transfiguration of Jesus into brightness before three of his disciples atop a mountain.  The pastor commenced the sermon by mentioning how people that we think we know can be transfigured by revealing things or a side of themselves that we never knew before, which can be unsettling in either a good or a bad way.  I have had an experience recently where someone that I know, not very well, revealed a side of themselves that unsettled me, in a good way, so the sermon was helpful to me in working through my own thoughts.


Baking itself is a transfigurative process, whereby humble ingredients are transformed into something different and surprising.  Flour by itself is not something I would want to eat, but combine it in the right way with butter, sugar, eggs and other ingredients, and you end up with something altogether different and amazing.

So it is with today's recipe for Fig Clafoutis Tart.  I have made it my mission this summer to bake with as many different summer fruits as I could, and figs were one of the  things on my list.  There are many delicious recipes for baked goods featuring figs.  In the end, I was swayed into making this recipe from the Gumnut Patisserie in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, because it was two desserts in one - a tart and a clafoutis.  How could I resist that? 



As you can see from the photo, this short crust tart has a lovely, custard-like filling, studded with juicy fresh figs.  How could you resist a slice of that?


To make this tart, you will need:

10 fresh figs
110g butter
110g + 35g sugar
4 eggs
240g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
165ml heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon kirsch (optional)

First up, make  the pastry for the tart shell.  Put the softened butter and 110g sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until well combined.  Crack one of the eggs into the bowl and beat well.  Add the flour and baking powder, then mix on low speed until just combined. 

Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of baking paper and form into a rough disc shape, then place another sheet of baking paper on top of the disc.  Roll out the dough into a circle approximately 20cm in diameter.  Place the dough onto a baking tray to keep it flat, and put it into the freezer for about an hour.

Spray a 20cm round tart tin with a removable base with cooking oil.  Remove the tart dough from the freezer and allow it to sit until just malleable.  Peel one side of the baking paper off the dough, replace it, then turn the dough over and peel off the other piece of baking paper (and leave it off).  Carefully line the tart tin with the tart dough, using the remaining piece of baking paper to lift it and to ease it evenly into the tart tin.  Ensure that you press the dough into all of the indentations in the tart tin and into the edges.  Don't worry if the dough tears (I found this dough quite sticky and soft, so it did tear) - just patch up any tears with extra dough.  Trim off the dough handing over the edges of the dough, then rest the dough in the tin for another half an hour in the fridge.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Place a piece of foil sprayed with oil, oily side down, over the tart dough and pour in rice or baking weights, then put the tart tin into the oven to allow the dough to partly bake for 5 minutes before removing from the oven.  Remove the baking weights.  Make an egg wash by whisking an egg with a splash of cold water, then brush the partly baked tart shell with the egg wash and bake for another 2 minutes.  Remove the tart shell from the oven while you make the filling.

Now it's time to make the clafoutis filling.  In a large bowl, break in the remaining two eggs and 35g sugar, and whisk until well combined.  Whisk in the cream, then the kirsch (if using), and set aside.

Cut the figs into wedges (I cut each fig into eight wedges), and place them into the partly baked tart shell, cut side up.   Pour over the clafoutis filling, then place the tart into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is just set.  Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.  

This tart would be wonderful served with a little icecream or cream, but of course it is delicious on its own.   Enjoy!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Rainbow Cupcakes for Mardi Gras


I have not made cupcakes for some time, and had been longing to do so.  After a quick Internet search, I thought it would be super fun to try my hand at making some rainbow cupcakes to coincide with the Sydney Mardi Gras parade, which takes place this evening.  I chose this recipe from All Recipes because it very handily gave the colour proportions for the cake batter so that I did not have to do it by trial and error. The frosting is my favourite Primrose Bakery Vanilla Buttercream.

 Here are the pots of coloured batter, ready to go into the cupcake pans:


This is what the cakes looked like fresh out of the oven:


And here they are looking pretty after being iced to hide the surprise inside:


But peel off the wrapper, and the rainbow is revealed:


To make 12 of these cupcakes, you will need:

125g sugar
125g butter
2 eggs
125g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
Liquid food colouring in red, blue, green and yellow

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and line a 12 cup cupcake tray with cupcake wrappers.

Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs to the bowl, one at a time with a small amount of flour, and beat in until well combined.

Add the vanilla extract and beat in.  Next, alternately beat in the remaining flour and the milk in three tranches, starting and ending with flour, until just combined (but do not overmix or your cakes will be tough).

Evenly divide the batter into six bowls.  Colour the bowls of batter with the liquid food colouring, using the cap of the liquid colouring bottles as a measure, as follows:

Bowl 1 - 1/2 cap red
Bowl 2 - 1/2 cap red and 1/2 cap yellow
Bowl 3 - 1/2 cap yellow
Bowl 4 - 1/2 cap green
Bowl 5 - 1/2 cap blue
Bowl 6 - 1/2 cap blue and 1/2 cap red

Evenly divide the purple batter between the 12 cupcake liners, spreading the batter to the edge of the cupcake wrapper with a skewer or small palette knife (this ensures that you will see the colour when the cupcake is unwrapped).  Repeat with the remaining batter in the order of blue, green, yellow, orange and red to replicate the colours of the rainbow.

Place the cupcakes in the preheated  oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.

You can leave the cupcakes uniced or make your favourite frosting and decorate as desired. For my cupcakes, I made a half recipe of the Primrose Bakery Buttercream referred to above, and piped on the icing using a star tip, starting from the centre of the cakes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

TWD - Almond Stripes


This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Almond Stripes.  The name does not really befit these beautiful, chewy, almond flavoured biscuits. which are incredibly elegant and would hold their own on any high tea table.


I had the benefit of reading the reviews of this recipe from the other Dorie bakers, with the biggest issue being how difficult the mixture for these biscuits is to pipe into the stripes for which they are named.  Unfortunately, even knowing that, I had exactly the same issue.  I added the whole egg white instead of just a tablespoon to the mixture, but still managed to tear a sturdy plastic piping bag in the process of trying to force the biscuit dough through the piping tip.

No matter - they worked out in the end.  I decided to dip one end of my almond stripes into dark chocolate because - well, chocolate!  It also made the biscuits appear more striking.

These biscuits were a winner taste-wise, but the relative difficulty in piping them is a factor against making them very often.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2019

George Banks Bistro, Toowoomba


While I was on leave over Christmas, I spent time with my family in Toowoomba, Queensland.  One of my friends and former colleagues is also from Toowoomba, and we were lucky enough to find the time to catch up with each other over the break.

My friend chose George Banks Bistro as the venue for our catch up.  George Banks is a rooftop bar and restaurant with magnificent views across the CBD:


It is very stylish and modern, and streets ahead of the types of establishment that I grew up with in Toowoomba: 


Here is one of the views from the balcony of George Banks, overlooking the street scape:


As it was a girls' day out, we both decided to have a cocktail.  Because it sounded so fabulous, we both had a Supercalifrangelisticexpialidocious - vanilla infused Belvedere, passionfruit, passoa and sparkling ($17):


I can attest to the fact that this cocktail was wonderful, and went down a treat on a hot January day.

For main, I had the Schulz pork with peach, baby leek, chilli and skordallia ($34):


This dish was absolutely delicious, with the sweet peach complementing the pork nicely, and not being too much food to handle.  My only minor issue was that the skordallia was very garlic-y and knocked my socks off a bit.  I hope that my friend could not smell my breath afterwards.

My friend ordered the Wagyu burger, with comte, spiced ketchup, smoked onion and pickles on a brioche bun ($18), served with a side of polenta chips: 


My friend also enjoyed her meal.  her only disappointment was that there was no sauce or mayo to have on the chips.

The service was friendly and efficient, and the atmosphere delightful.

I highly recommend a visit to George Banks Bistro if you are in Toowoomba - I will be back based on this experience.

George Banks Bistro
Corner Ruthven and Margaret Streets
Toowoomba Qld 4350
Ph: (07) 4580 0808 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Steamed brown sugar and coconut milk cake


On 5 February, it was Chinese New Year, marking the start of the Year of the Pig. In a recent column in the Good Weekend magazine, Helen Goh noted that cakes are important during Chinese New Year celebrations as they symbolise a rich, sweet life.  I knew there was some reason I love to make cakes!

Helen's recipe for Chinese New Year cake was a Steamed Brown Sugar and Coconut Cake.  I already had some coconut milk and the remaining ingredients are pantry staples for me, so I just had to make this cake.


The pleats in the cake are there on purpose, as the cake is meant to look rustic.  I ended up cooking my cake in a pudding steamer, as I did not have a bamboo or metal steamer large enough to accommodate the batter and leave room for rising.

I thought this cake turned out pretty well (after an initial emergency when I turned it out after the advised cooking time and noticed it had "sprung a leak" - back into the steamer!).  The cake is light and fluffy, and is a perfect vehicle for the sweet, heavy golden syrup with which it is served.


If you would like to make this cake, you will need:

5 eggs
180g dark brown sugar (I just used light brown)
zest of 1 orange (I left this out)
90ml vegetable oil
100ml coconut milk
220g plain flour
25g custard powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
golden syrup to serve

Grease and line an 18cm round cake tin (or if you don't have a steamer big enough to hold the tin, just use a pudding  steamer).  Fill a large saucepan two thirds full and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and orange zest until the mixture is thick, pale and trebled in volume.

Whisk together the oil and milk in a jug and set aside.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, custard powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

When the egg mixture is ready, fold through the oil and milk mixture using a hand whisk.  In two batches, sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold in gently.

Scrape the cake batter into the prepared tin and place in a metal or bamboo steamer.  Increase the heat on the water to a rolling boil, and place the steamer with the cake inside over the water, and seal the steamer tightly with its lid.

Steam the cake for 40 minutes or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.  (I omitted to test mine and it was not quite ready at 40 minutes.)  Remove the tin from the steamer.

Let the cake rest in the tin  for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a serving plate.  Leave the baking paper on the pudding until ready to serve, then remove the paper  and drizzle with golden syrup to serve.  The cake can be eaten warm or cold.