Monday, December 31, 2018

Browned Butter, Blueberry and White Chocolate Friands

If you have leftover egg whites from making pastry or custard, a great way to use them up is to make friands (known in some parts of the world as financiers).  Australian friands are traditionally baked in a unique pan with oval shaped wells, but you could also bake them in muffin tins if you don't have a special friend tin.

I have a friend who loves white chocolate, so I found the perfect friand for him when I found Carrot and Crumb's recipe for Browned Butter, Blueberry and White Chocolate Friands.  The browned butter gives the friands a lovely nutty flavour, the white chocolate adds a lovely caramelly sweetness, and the blueberries add fruity lusciousness.

If you would like to make these, you will need:

140g butter
100g almond meal
50g plain flour
130g icing sugar
5 egg whites
80g blueberries
80g chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Spray a 12 hole friand or muffin tin liberally with spray oil.

Put the butter into a saucepan over medium heat and heat the butter until it turns golden brown.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal and icing sugar.  

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they are frothy, then pour them into the flour mixture and fold in to  combine.

Pour the browned butter into the mixture and fold through gently.  Reserve 24 blueberries, and gently fold the remaining blueberries and the white chocolate into the mixture.

Divide the mixture evenly between the friend or muffin tin holes.  Place two blueberries on top of each friand and press down lightly.

Bake the friands in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the friands from the oven and gently turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  If they stick, run a knife around the edge of the friend or muffin holes to loosen.

Allow the friands to cool completely before lightly dusting with icing sugar to serve.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hacienda Sydney, Circular Quay

When we were in Sydney in November, Tim spotted a new-to-us bar from the ferry as we were pulling into Circular Quay.  It stood out because of the plants thrusting out from the balcony. We decided to check it out.

The bar in question is Hacienda, meaning a large estate or plantation: 

The impressive art deco style entrance, set above the boardwalk at Circular Quay, leads into a spacious, airy bar with magnificent views of Sydney Harbour:

The lady in the front left of my photo had an impressive looking drink that I wanted to try. It is a Fresa Spritz ($20), with St Germain liqueur, strawberry syrup, soda water and Prosecco:

It tasted as good as it looks and was very refreshing - perfect for a warm day. 

To accompany our drinks, we ordered the trio of dips with tortilla chips ($17):

The dips were beetroot, baba ganoush and hommus.  There are some more substantial options available on the menu if you wish to have your main meal at Hacienda

This is just one of the stunning views from Hacienda:

We stayed until after dark when the black velvet of the sky was illuminated by the city lights.  It was rather magical, and all of the tourists (including ourselves)  took turns photographing each other against the breathtaking backdrop.

Hacienda is the perfect place to have a drink in a stunning atmosphere, and is well worth seeking out.

Hacienda Sydney
61 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9256 4083

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Baklava Slice - QBC

A while ago, the Queen Baking Club recipe was Baklava Slice - a mashup between baklava and a slice, making it a little easier to eat than a traditional baklava.

This nutty slice contains cinnamon, pecans, walnuts and in my case, almonds, smothered in an orange-kissed honey syrup. 

If you are looking for a break from chocolate treats, or have some leftover nuts from the Christmas feast, this slice is a delicious treat which is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

You can join the Queen Baking Club on Facebook here.  A new recipe is posted every second Friday.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Beef and Lemongrass Meatloaf - Helen Goh recipe

How were your Christmas celebrations?  I hope you had a fabulous time with family and friends.

Now that Christmas is over, it is back to normal in the eating and drinking department.  If you are looking for a break from that leftover turkey and ham, I can highly recommend Helen Goh's Chicken and Lemongrass Meatloaf.  Helen states that it can also be made with pork or beef mince, so I chose beef.

This meatloaf is unique in that it contains lots of Asian flavours - lemongrass, chilli, ginger, coriander, fish sauce and soy.  It is quite a big meatloaf - I got 10 serves out of it, perfect for freezing some for another day.

If you would like to try this meatloaf, you will need:

2 slices white bread
120ml milk
2 tablespoons oil
1 chopped onion
2 minced cloves garlic
thumb sized knob of ginger, minced
2 minced stalks lemongrass
1 minced red chilli
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves and stalks
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 kg chicken, pork or beef mince
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Tear the crusts off the bread and rip the slices into small pieces. Put the bread pieces in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle over the milk, and set aside to soak.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli, cook for a minute, then remove from heat. Add the onion mixture to the bread mixture and allow to cool.

Add the coriander, fish sauce, soy sauce, eggs, sugar, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix with your hands to combine. Add the minced meat and mix gently until combined. Chill the mixture in the fridge and preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Press the mixture into a 23cm x 12cm x 7cm loaf tin, packing it down to remove any air pockets. Cover the pan loosely with a large, double layer of aluminium foil, then place a rimmed baking tray over it. Carefully flip over the tray so that the foil is on the bottom and the meatloaf is upside down, with the loaf tin over it. Loosen the foil and spread it out, as if lining the base of the baking tray. Put the meatloaf in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove the meatloaf from the oven and carefully lift off the loaf tin. Return the meatloaf to the oven without the loaf tin and bake for a further 20 minutes. 

While the meatloaf is cooking, make the glaze by combining the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 22o degrees Celsius. Spoon the glaze over the top of the meatloaf and return it to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes, brushing the meatloaf with the glaze a couple of times during that time. 

Take the meatloaf out of the oven and allow it to rest on the baking tray for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas from Melbourne!!

Mitre Tavern

St Collins Lane

Federation Square

Federation Square

St Collins Lane

Auburn Hotel

Malvern Town Hall

Work choir (Photo credit: Anh Nguyen) 

Arts Centre

Federation Square

TWD - Alsatian Christmas Bread

Merry Christmas! For the last Tuesday with Dorie this year, our recipe is Alsation Christmas Bread.  It is not bread in the traditional sense, but rather is comprised of dried fruits, nuts and almond meal.  It is also known as "baerewecke", meaning "pear bread".

As its name suggests, dried pears are an important element of the dried fruits.  I used some glace pears that I had bought at a French festival. There are also prunes, dried apricots, dried figs and sultanas.  These are joined by chopped walnuts, black pepper, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger and cardamom.

The result is not pretty, but if you are a fan of dried fruit, it is utterly delicious.  the spices make the Alsatian Christmas bread perfect for the holiday season.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

May your Christmas be blessed.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Nectarine and Blueberry Cake

It is summer in Australia, and with summer comes all of the best fruits.  I love stone fruits, tropical fruits and berries, and they are all cheap and available at the moment.

A great way to enjoy your favourite  fruits, apart from just eating them au naturel, is to include them in your baking.  Recently, Jordan Rondel featured a lovely recipe for a nectarine and blueberry cake which is a perfect way to showcase two summer fruits.  Best of all, it is very easy to make. 

The cake is double layered, and sandwiched together with a luscious cream cheese frosting:

If you'd like to try this wonderful summery treat, you will need:

150g butter
150 sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g almond meal
100g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 nectarines sliced into thin sections
1 cup fresh blueberries


150g butter
2 cups icing sugar
100g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line 2 x 22cm cake tins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  One at a time, beat in the eggs, then beat in the vanilla.  Fold in the almond meal, flour, baking powder and salt, then the sour cream.

Divide the mixture evenly between two tins.  Evenly place the nectarine slices and blueberries on top of each cake and press down lightly.    Bake for 30 minutes or until cooled through, rotating the pans half way through the cooking time.

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto wire racks to cool.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the icing sugar.  Cube the cream cheese, then beat it into the mixture gradually until the frosting is smooth.  

Spread half the frosting between the cake layers to sandwich them together, and spread the remaining half of the frosting over on top of the cake.  (* Or do what I did, and halve the frosting and only put frosting in between the two cake layers.)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mini Plum Puddings

Are you looking for an easy recipe for Christmas treats? Well, you have found the place. These mini plum puddings could not be easier. Just crumble up ready made plum pudding or Christmas cake, bind with melted chocolate, add some booze for a little cheer and roll into balls. Simple!

The recipe for these puddings comes from Best Recipes. You will need:

700g plum pudding or Christmas cake
250g dark chocolate
1/4 cup brandy
50g white chocolate
Glacé cherries

Crumble up the pudding or cake in a large bowl (I used my own homemade cake but store bought is perfect). Melt the chocolate and add it to the bowl with the brandy. Mix well to thoroughly coat the cake with chocolate.

Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls. Chill for an hour or so to set up the balls.

Quarter the glacé cherries.  Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top of each ball to resemble custard. Top each pudding ball with a quarter of a glacé cherry.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

TWD - Christmas Spiced Greek Honey Dainties plus Miss Biscuit

For the last Dorie's Cookies Tuesday with Dorie this year, the recipe is Christmas Spiced Greek Honey Dainties.  I looked at the photo of these in the book and wasn't taken with them, but the photo does not do them justice - these cookies are delicious, if a little fiddly.

First up, you make the dough, which is surprisingly sturdy.  You can leave out the Christmas spices for other times of the year, but there was no way I was not going to make the Christmas spiced version.  The smell of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves is just devine.  The dough is shaped into little eggs and baked.

The cookies have holes poked in them before baking so that after they have baked and cooled, you can drench them in a honey syrup.  After applying the syrup, you put chopped walnuts on top of the cookies, which adhere to the sticky honey syrup.

These cookies were fabulous - I had two in a row.  I would definitely  bake these again.

On Sunday, I attended a Christmas cookie decorating class at Miss Biscuit in Seddon.  I did one of her courses over two years ago, but was intrigued by her Christmas cookies and wanted to know how to make them.  

A few things have changed since the first class, with the equipment becoming a little fancier - a Joseph Joseph rolling pin instead of two dowels to measure cookie dough thickness, and proper cookie tools for the whole class instead of skewers.  At home, I'll be doing it the old way!  I don't make decorated cookies enough to worry about things like a dehydrator, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun.  

I learned from the last time that when flooding cookies, you are better to go big, otherwise your flooding won't have a smooth finish.  

I think you will agree that these cookies are just gorgeous.  These cookies are iced gingerbread, whereas last time, I did a vanilla cookie selection.  And yes, they are easy enough that this was the selection from the beginner's class.  The white Christmas tree with roses was done more to show us the technique (which is nifty and very very easy.)

If you are interested in learning the art of royal icing cookie decoration, or just want to learn some new techniques, I highly recommend taking a Miss Biscuit class - she has shops in Sydney and Melbourne but also travels to Brisbane to host classes.   

65a Charles Street
Seddon VIC 3011

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Eton Mess Passionfruit Cheesecake - Queen Baking Club

I'm looking forward to Christmas
Though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus
I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
                                                                                  Tim Minchin, White Wine in the Sun

For the Queen Baking Club Facebook group recently, the allocated recipe from the Queen website was Eton Mess Passionfruit Cheesecake.  This recipe was not difficult, but had a number of elements, meaning that it is not a recipe to hurry.  

This cheesecake is a mashup of Eton Mess, the famous English dessert made with crushed meringues, strawberries and lashings of cream,  and a cheesecake.  This no-bake cheesecake comprises a crushed biscuit base, a creamy two-tone (yellow and orange) passionfruit cheesecake filling, Chantilly cream, sliced mango and passionfruit, and striped mini meringues (though the yellow stripes don't show up well in the photos).

As you can see, it is a rather rich and luscious confection, with a very summery appeal. 

I thought the mini meringues were rather cute, albeit very fragile.  An intriguing technique used in making these meringues was to heat the sugar in the oven before adding it to the beaten egg whites.  Perhaps this was to aid in combining these two elements more easily.

My notes on the recipe are as follows:
  • I used the base of a glass to smooth out the biscuit base rather than the back of a spoon.
  • I poured the boiling water over the gelatine to dissolve it - I found that merely sprinkling the gelatine over the water was not sufficient to melt the gelatine, which would have then made a lumpy, rubbery mess in the cheesecake.
  • I softened and chopped up the cream cheese  before beating it to allow it to beat as smoothly as possible.
  • Don't top the cheesecake until you want to serve it, as everything goes very soft very quickly once the fruit is added.
For people celebrating Christmas in warmer climes, this cheesecake would make a lovely alternative to Christmas pud to have after a cold seafood main course.  (But me, I love my roast and hot Christmas pud with lashings of custard.)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Crispy Chocolate Puddings

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in every store
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door
                                                                                 Johnny Mathis

The last post in my Christmas box series is amazing but simple twist on the Chocolate Crackle to make them Yuletide-fit.  This recipe for Crispy Chocolate Puddings comes from the Woolworths website, and is a simple but effective Christmas treat. 

To make these puddings, you will need:

1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
200g dark chocolate, chopped
80g diced butter
3 cups Rice Bubbles (rice krispies)
1/4 shredded coconut
50g white chocolate
12 red glace cherries

Lightly spray a 12 hole muffin tin with oil.

Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave proof bowl, and melt together in the microwave, stirring well to combine.

In a big bowl, combine the rice bubbles, sultanas, walnuts and coconut. Add the melted chocolate/butter mixture to the bowl and stir well to combine.  Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin holes, and press in firmly.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Loosen each pudding from the sides of the muffin tin with a  spatula and carefully unmould upside down.  Melt the white chocolate, and cool slightly before spooning over the top of the puddings to resemble custard, and put a glace cherry on the top of each pudding.  Allow the white chocolate to set before serving.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Rocky Road and Rum Balls

This is the penultimate Christmas box post for this year, and I will make it easy for you and me with treats that I have made before.  First up is the Rocky Road at the top of this post, which I first made nearly nine years ago (wow, it does not feel like that long).  The recipe is from the Loreto Cooks cookbook, given to me years ago by Mayor Steve before he was mayor, and contains chopped marshmallows, Cherry Ripes and Turkish Delights - three of my favourite things! 

Next up is Rum Balls, a perennial favourite, for which I first posted the recipe in the infancy of this blog in 2007.  This year I rolled the rum balls ultra small and only the first wave of box recipients received them, as they were a stop gap until the next wave came along.

Are you giving edible gifts this year?  If so, what did you make, and what was your favourite?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

TWD - Speculoos

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Speculoos, a spicy European biscuit that happens to be perfect for Christmas.

Dorie's recipe suggests simply slicing and baking these biscuits, which is exactly what I did, although you could also roll out the dough and cut out the biscuits.

Before slicing my biscuit dough logs, I brushed them with egg wash and rolled them in gold sanding sugar.  I think it added to the festive nature of these spicy cookies, and I added them to this year's Christmas boxes as an efficiency so that I didn't have to bake extra biscuits for the boxes.

I thought these Speculoos biscuits were rather tasty (I ate the gnarly offcuts from the ends of the dough logs).

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

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Roast Pork with Cherry Sauce - Red Tractor December

Well, this year is nearly over - where did it go?  I have reached December in my Red Tractor calendar, and the final recipe for this year is Christmas Pork with Cherry Sauce.

The calendar quote says it all:

I was very pleased with the crackle that I got on my roast pork - it is a fabulous colour:

My unusual choice of vegetables with the finished pork arose from the fact that I originally had planned to make stir fry for the week, but ended up making this pork instead. The stir fried vegetables were good, even if they did clash a little with the cherry sauce.

To make your own Christmas Pork with Cherry Sauce, you will need:

2kg boned and rolled pork shoulder (I used pork leg)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Celsius (fan forced).  Unroll the pork and pat the skin dry with a paper towel.  Score the skin diagonally with a sharp knife (and I mean sharp - I used a box cutter).  Re-roll the pork and tie  with string to secure.  

Brush the oil over the pork and rub with sea salt.

Put the pork on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes or until the skin starts to blister.  Decrease the oven temperature to 170 degrees Celsius, and cook the pork for another 70-90 minutes or until the crackling is golden and crisp.

Rest the pork for up to half an hour before serving.

For the cherry sauce:

Melt 60g chopped butter in a saucepan.  Add 2 chopped shallots and 2 teaspoons chopped thyme.  Stir over the heat for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, and cook for a further minute or until reduced by half.  

Add 300g pitted cherries (fresh or frozen), 1/4 cup cherry jam and 1/4 cup water to the saucepan.  Bring  the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the sauce until slightly thickened.  Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Candy Cane Fudge

This year's Christmas box production line is well under way, and a new item that I made for this year's boxes is Candy Cane Fudge from the Australian Women's Weekly website.

If you are scared of making sweets, don't be with this fudge - it is super duper simple.  If you can melt things together without burning them, then you can absolutely make this fudge.

The finished product is creamy and sweet, and the peppermint tones down the sweetness as well as adding festive red and white colour.

To make it, you will need:

500g white chocolate melts
395g can condensed milk
30g butter
1/3 cup crushed candy canes (I blitzed them in the food processor)
extra crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top of the fudge

Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

Put the chocolate melts, condensed milk and butter into a medium sized heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (ie a homemade bain marie).  Stir the ingredients over the simmering water until melted and smooth.

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the 1/3 cup crushed candy canes.  Working quickly before the fudge starts to set, scrape the fudge into the prepared cake tin and spread evenly in the tin.  Rap the tin on the bench a few times to eliminate air bubbles.

Put the fudge into the fridge for ~ 2 hours to set before  cutting into squares.

Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

TWD - Double-Ginger Crumb Cookies

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Double-Ginger Crumb Cookies.  They earn their moniker from fresh minced ginger in the cookie dough and ground ginger in the crumb on top.

When I went to make these, I looked at the photo and thought, "meh".  However, don't be fooled by their appearance - these cookies taste seriously delicious.  They also smell devine when baking.  The ginger taste is subtle rather than in your face.

My cookies baked quicker than the 21-23 minute cooking time stated in the recipe, so it pays to watch them carefully and rely on your nose.

In a first, the recipe said the batch made 18 cookies, and I got 18 cookies!  I was quietly pleased with this as it means I rolled the dough to the right thickness and made the cookies the size intended by their creator, Dorie.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Blueberry Jam

Planning for this year's Christmas boxes is well under way, and I have taken another step in the project by making another item for 12 of the boxes - small jars of blueberry jam.

I used this recipe for blueberry jam from  It was very easy to make, just time consuming in that you have to stay close by the jam while it is on the stove so that it doesn't burn while your back is turned.  The jam gets a terrific citrus-flavoured lift from the addition of Cointreau, which not only brightens the flavour, but makes the jam a little less sweet.

To make the jam look a little bit fancy, I added some free labels from A Family Feast and CSR Sugar:

If you have a yen to make this easy blueberry jam, you will need:

4 x 125g punnets blueberries
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Cointreau
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Put all of the ingredients into a large heavy based saucepan.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Allow the jam to simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the jam reaches the correct consistency (ie when you put some onto a plate that has been in the freezer and run your finger through it, the jam does not run back to fill the gap).

Spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, put the lid onto the jars and turn the jars upside down to allow the hot jam to contact all the surfaces of the jars, then turn the jars the right way up.  Allow the jam to cool completely in the jars before adding labels.  Makes ~ 500ml jam.

Give as gifts or enjoy yourself!