Friday, November 30, 2012

FFwD - Beef daube with carrots & elbow macaroni

This week's FFwD recipe is Beef [cheek] daube with carrots & elbow macaroni.  There are no cheeks here - just beef.

This was absolutely delicious, and a complete meal in a pot:

To see what the other FFwD cooks thought, visit the LYL section of the website.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daring Bakers - November - Twelve Days of Cookies

It's time for November Daring Bakers.

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

I am very time poor at the moment, so I only made one of Peta's 12 cookie recipes, and the simplest one I could find.  My choice was the Foaming Milk Cookies.  Peta explains:

Foaming Milk Cookies are an old family recipe from my mother in-law, perfect for the allergy sufferers. There are no eggs in the recipe. I have made these with water, juices and a variety of milk substitutes. I have used butter and margarines. I have used gluten free, rice, nut and coconut flours. I have added spices, nuts, dried fruits and chocolate chips. This recipe always works.

Even better, they take 10 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to freeze while you go off and have a life, and 10 minutes to bake.  What could be easier?

The dough was very soft, but froze into logs well.  I rolled my logs in red sanding sugar to make them festive with as little effort as possible.

Here is te recipe for those who are interested in making these cookies:


1½ cups (340 gm) (12 oz) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) milk
4 cups (560 gm) (20 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) softened butter
1 teaspoon (5 gm) bi-carbonate soda
2 tablespoons (30 ml) hot water


1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4.
2. Rub the butter into flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs or blitz together in a food processor.
3. If you use your food processor tip the flour and butter into a metal bowl.
4. Melt the milk and sugar together.
5. Dissolve the bi-carbonate soda into the hot water.
6. Add to the milk and sugar and mix quickly into the flour/butter until well combined.
7. The mixture will be runny but it will firm up as it cools.
8. When the dough has cooled roll it out to 1/5-inch (1/2-cm) thick and cut out with the cookie cutters or roll into logs and freeze for ½ - 1 hour until firm and cut it.
9. Place on greased trays and bake in a moderate oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden.
10. Allow to cool slightly on the tray and then move to cooling rack.

Thanks to Peta for hosting us this month.  To check out many other Christmas cookies, view the slideshow in the Daring Kitchen website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

FFwD - Herbed Olives

This week's French Friday with Dorie recipe is Herbed Olives.  Just like it says on the tin, this recipe involves macerating olives in herbed oil that you make yourself.  Flavours include coriander, fennel, rosemary, thyme, garlic, chilli, pepper, salt and bay.  I didn't have fresh seeds, so I used the crushed variety instead.  I used a mixture of black and kalamata olives that I had in my fridge.

If you can see the olives in my photo, you are doing better than me.

I have no idea what these olives taste like, as they are meant to macerate for at least 8 days before being eaten.  I only just made mine, so I won't know for a while yet.  However, if the smell coming from the pan in which I made the oil is anything to go by, these will taste fabulous!

To see some more herbed olives, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

WWDH - Roast Vegetable Frittata

This week's Wednesday with Donnay Hay recipe, chosen by Chaya, is Roast Vegetable Frittata, from Modern Classics I or online.

 I was having a dinner party, and one of my guests was vegetarian, so this frittata turned out to be a delicious choice for the main course, served with a bean salad and a tomato bocconcini salad:

To sse what Chaya and Margaret thought of this dish, visit their websites.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BWJ - Best Ever Brownies

For Baking with Julia this week, we were assigned Best Ever Brownies.  Our host was Monica of A Beautiful Mess. Now, I am a little cynical about recipes claiming to be the best ever - that is a pretty broad and subjective claim.  I am not sure that these brownies are "the best ever", but they are pretty good.

I made mine with the proper chocolate for the first time ever, courtesy of my US trips:

As a heads up, "unsweetened" and "bittersweet" chocolate are not the norm in Australia, hence my chocolate came from the Ghirardelli store in The Great Mall, Milpitas, CA.

I probably baked my brownies a smidge too long (~30 minutes), as they were fudgy rather than gooey inside, but this was good - I could not imagine that the critical audience that I have to deal with would have appreciated "gooey" and would instead have interpreted it as "underdone".

To see what the other BWJ bakers thought of these, visit the LYL section of the BWJ website.

Friday, November 16, 2012

FFwD - Goats Cheese Mini Puffs

Friday has rolled around again, and yes, it is French Friday with Dorie time.  This week's recipe was Goats Cheese Mini Puffs.  Luckily, I had a dinner party last weekend, so I had plenty of helpers to eat these puffs.

Basically, this recipe involves making choux buns and filling them with a goats cheese-based filling.  I didn't have any cream cheese, so my filling was 150g goats cheese, some chopped fresh chives (in lieu of herbed goats cheese), and enough cream so that the filling was smooth when beaten together with an electric mixer.

Et voila - you end up with a delicious little savoury that is so good, it is difficult to stop eating.

To see some more of these, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website.

Have a good weekend.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Betty's of Harrogate Christmas Pudding and Mincemeat

This year, I had not so much a stir-up Sunday but  stir-up Tuesday on the Melbourne Cup public holiday in Melbourne.  As well as a Christmas cake, I made a Christmas pudding and mincemeat using recipes from Betty's of Harrogate published in The Guardian here.

This was a bit of risk taking, because I have never heard of Betty's of Harrogate.  However, the illustrations of the Christmas pudding and cake were so good that I decided to give it a burl.

And boy, was it worth it - I was rewarded with the handsome pud at the top of this post, albeit after 5 hours of steaming. After last year's disasters, I was ecstatic.

I have also used the Betty's of Harrogate  recipe for mincemeat in the same article:

Tim says he loves fruit mince tarts, so I have made this mincemeat in the hope that it will mature nicely and be the perfect basis for some fruit mince tarts. 

I am so excited that Christmas is coming - I can't wait to get stuck into the rest of my Christmas baking.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday with Donna Hay - Smoked Ham and Cheddar Quiche

This week's Wednesday wih Donna Hay pick comes from Margaret, who chose Smoked Ham and Cheddar Quiche.  You can find the recipe online here, as well as in Modern Classics I

After a few insipid quiche offerings from cafes, I had gone off quiche, but this dish reignited my love for it.  Even though I messed with the pastry by using margarine to cut down on saturated fats, and I substituted half the cream for skim milk, I still loved the end result.

I served my quiche with some steamed veg - and it was perfect, as well as colourful.

To see what Margaret and Chaya thought of this quiche, go visit them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nigel Slater's Chrismas Cake - Take II

Melbourne Cup Day was Christmas cake baking day for me.  I like to bake a different recipe every year, and I thought I was being novel when I chose Nigel Slater's Christmas Cake from The Kitchen Diaries, which is also online here.

However, if I thought I was going where I had not been before, I was sadly mistaken.  A quick Google search led me to my very own post on the same Christmas cake, two years ago.

Oh well, it may be an oldie but it is certainly a goodie.  I was very pleased with how my cake turned out, and I will happily feed it with brandy between now and Christmas.  I may even branch out and ice it this year - who knows?

The gorgeous Santa atop the cake comes from the Christmas shop in Carmel, CA - I bought it on my June holiday to the States.  I had forgotten all about him until I baked my cake and pudding and was looking for ways to decorate them - and out popped Santa.

How is your Christmas preparation going?  Have you baked your cake yet? Or are you too busy with Thanksgiving to have got that far yet? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Toblerone cheesecake

On Saturday night, I had three friends over for dinner.  It has been a record year for dinner parties for me, as this was the third one I have had this year.  The first one, I actually forgot about until my friend texted me to confirm the time; the second one went OK, but I was slightly flustered as I was not quite ready when the came; but this one seemed to be almost hitch free (if you discount the fact that I knocked over a carton of cream in the fridge).

For dessert, I made a Toblerone cheesecake that I had tried at a relative's birthday party back in March, but it has taken me until now to get around to making it.  Here's a peek inside:

It was delicious, but next time I would use less Toblerone, as it tended to set up and make hard lumps of chocolate inside the cheesecake.  Not that the punters were complaining; it just makes the cheesecake hard to cut.  The recipe, from my second cousin Kay Lewis, is as follows (formatted as Kay wrote it):



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Daylesford Escape Part 2 - Mercato Restaurant and Harvest Cafe

While we were in Daylesford, I took Tim for a belated birthday dinner at Mercato Restaurant.  At Mercato, the food is modern Australian - but however, you describe it, the food is excellent.

On our way to Mercato, we passed this unusual redback spider gate, an homage to Aussie culture:

and a gallery featuring this Australian-inspired Alice sculpture:

and this trio of children on a horse outside The Royal in town: 

The reception area at Mercato sets the scene for the evening, with walls lined with glasses and wine:

I was already feeling full from our Silver Streak train trip, so we skipped entree and went straight to main course.  Tim ordered seared fillet of kangaroo, thyme scented potato gnocchi, baby spring vegetables, red wine sauce ($37.50):

while I opted for the spiced spatchcock, quinoa pilaf, sautéed chard, pistachio nuts,
mint & lime infused Meredith sheeps milk yoghurt ($38.50):

The spatchcock was absolutely devine, with three large pieces of spatchcock coated in a heavenly spice mix.  I would definitely have this again.

For side dishes, we ordered steamed beans with toasted almonds ($8.50) and roasted pumpkin, Persian fetta, pine nuts and thyme ($10.50): 

My pick of these was the pumpkin - the fetta was a lovely smooth contrast against the sweetness of the pumpkin.

Despite being incredibly full by now, and although we had a rather lacklustre slice of commercially made lemon tart on the Silver Streak (the only real letdown), we ordered a dessert to share, and I am glad that we did.  Tim chose lemon curd, Italian meringue, shortbread crumb and macerated raspberries ($15.50):

This dessert was like a deconstructed lemon meringue pie.  It was really devine, with a smooth, just tangy lemon curd bedecked with piped meringue that had been hit with a blow torch, the traditional pie crust being converted into shortbread crumbs, and some macerated raspberries to add a bit more tang to contrast with the sweetness of the meringue.

Next morning, after a satisfying, well-fed sleep, Tim and I headed out for breakfast at The Harvest Cafe.  Tim ordered this fabulous fruit toast, that I was lucky enough to share:

The plate was even decorated with three tiny flowers, hidden under the strawberry in the above shot.  The fruit toast was studded with a delicious mix of raisins, apricots and cranberries, and was served with the most wonderful tasting strawberry jam (it was so good that I bought a huge pot of it for $9).

We both ordered the muesli, again decorated rather prettily:

and served with milk, yoghurt and honey:

We really liked the honey too, and found out that it was local Des O'Toole's Honey.  Tim had been asked to bring home some honey, so we went and bought some at the Daylesford Sunday Market.

I couldn't resist showing you this charming bicycle sculpture inside The Harvest Cafe: 

Isn't it cute?

We spent the rest of our time in Daylesford exploring.  This included scaling the steepest hill in the world (well, maybe I exaggerate - a little) to visit the Convent Gallery:

The Convent Gallery is complete with its own chapel, where you can hold a wedding if desired:

Our efforts in climbing the hill were rewarded with this magnificent view from the balcony of the Convent Gallery:

I couldn't close off this post without sharing this funny sign with you:

It was outside Frangos & Frangos, where we finished off our Daylesford adventure with a local beer.

32 Raglan Street
Daylesford VIC 3460
Ph  03 5348 4488
29 Albert Street
Daylesford VIC 3460
Ph 03 5348 4022
Cnr Hill & Daly Streets
Daylesford VIC 3460
Ph 03 5348 3211

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daylesford Escape Part 1

Last weekend, Tim and I went to Daylesford in country Victoria to get away from it all.  We stayed in this pretty house (Carrington House), which was conveniently close to town.

We went for walks by picturesque Lake Daylesford:

where we saw a really funny looking bird:

along with regular ducks and black swans.  We also went for walks down flower-bedecked country roads:

with plenty of ups and downs to keep it interesting.

On Saturday evening, we went to Daylesford railway station

and took a ride on the Silver Streak:
with the Rusty Relics, Richard Bevan and John Meir, entertaining us with music:

until we reached Musk, where the station sign had fallen off and had to be nailed back up:

We got off the train at Musk and were served some lovely finger food by caterer Jennie: 


and we were also served with finger food on the train, including these spinach and ricotta traingles with asparagus:

and we were plied with as much as alcohol as we could drink:

For me, this was not very much.

We did it all again on the return journey from Musk to Daylesford and lived happily ever after.  It was lots of fun.

Friday, November 9, 2012

FFwD - Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse - Epic Fail

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe was Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse.  Unfortunately, in my case, it was more like Chocolate Soup with Chunky Bits.  As soon as I added the egg yolks to the chocolate, the chocolate seemed to set, so trying to stir egg whites through it was a lost cause.  In the end, it was a sloppy sea of chocolate  with bits of hardened chocolate through it.  Ewww!

As a welcome distraction, I present my Aussie 12 Days of Christmas teatowel that I bought in Daylesford on the weekend:  

I think any true blue Aussie would love this teatowel with its Aussie references - where else but Oz would you have 6 boomers hopping or 9 nippers racing?

Also, I discovered some new flavours of Allens lollies this week:

There are caramel chicos (in addition to the ordinary chocolate ones), Milk Bottle Mania (containing chocolate, vanilla, lime, banana and caramel milk bottles), and Mad About Teeth'n'Stuff for lovers of "foam" lollies.  I love the milk bottles and caramel chicos, and am yet to try the teeth etc.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

White Chocolate Cake for Tim

It was Tim's birthday recently, so you know what that means, right - cake time!  Tim loves white chocolate, so I chose a white chocolate cake recipe, and frosted it with white chocolate ganache - killer combination, wouldn't you agree?

The recipe I used for the cake is from The Golden Book of Patisserie, and was actually a recipe for white chocolate cupcakes; I just placed all the batter in a 20cm round tin and baked it for around 40 minutes (but if you try it, just test the cake to see if it is cooked through).

Once baked and frosted, I decorated the cake with piped dark chocolate, M&Ms and cola sour strips.  I am informed by Tim that he and his brother devoured the whole cake - so I am guessing it tasted OK.

To make the cake, you will need:

100g chopped white chocolate
150ml light cream
150g self raising flour

1/8 teaspoon salt
90g softened butter
200g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate and cream together over a bain marie.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. 

In another bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one a time.  On low speed, beat in the flour mixture and chocolate mixture.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and bake for ~ 40 minutes or until cooked through. 

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes, then unmould the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost the cake with white chocolate ganache.  I made my  ganache using 3 parts chocolate to one part cream.

Decorate as desired.