Sunday, July 29, 2018

Blueberry Pie Muffin Cake with Lemon Glaze

I bought canned blueberry pie filling on sale at my supermarket thinking it would be a cheap way to make a blueberry pie.  However, when I opened the can, I was less than enthused by the claggy, sickly sweet contents.  I thought that there was no way I was making that stuff the feature in a pie, so I searched the Internet for recipes where I could use it in a less intense fashion.  (I still have one can left.)

I found a great recipe for a Blueberry Pie Muffin Bread with Lemon Glaze at The Recipe Critic. Perfect!  To avoid confusion, this recipe is for a cake, not a yeasted bread.

I really enjoyed this cake.  My favourite part is the lovely crusty streusel topping.  It really made this cake.   The claggy blueberry pie filling was distributed throughout the cake, which diluted its sweetness and gooeyness.

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

2 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 x 21 ounce can blueberry pie filling


1/4 cup cubed cold butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour


1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 380 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 9" x 5" inch loaf tin.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the sugar and vegetable oil and beat together. Add the egg, milk and vanilla, and beat together until smooth. Fold in the dry ingredients.

Add the canned pie filling to the bowl and swirl in gently with a rubber spatula to create a marbled effect. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin and level the top.

To make the topping, combine butter, flour, and brown sugar in a bowl and use a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers to form crumbs. Sprinkle the  top of the cake batter evenly with the crumb topping.

Bake for 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven or until cooked through.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for around 15 minutes. Unmould the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, whisk together the icing sugar, cream, and lemon juice, then drizzle on top of the cake.

Slice and enjoy!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Fondue at The Swiss Club

A couple of Friday’s ago, a group of us celebrated a girls’ night out at The Swiss Club in Melbourne. One of our group had bought a Groupon for four people for fondue, and given it is perfect weather for it (it doesn’t snow here in winter but is cold), I was definitely in!

The Swiss Club is a big room with a bar at one end and a kitchen at the other, with walls decorated with all manner of Swiss memorabilia:

We started with two entrees in addition to our fondue. The first entree we tried was the Prawn Madras:

The other entree was the Swiss anti-pasto platter of Swiss cured meats with potatoes and pickled vegetables:

Then came the star of the show that had brought us here - cheese fondue served with bread cubes, chopped vegetables and sausage pieces for dipping in the rich cheese mixture:

The fondue came with a house rule that if you dropped your bread in the fondue, you had to shout the table a round of schnapps. One of us (not me!) did this twice, so on top of a couple of glasses of red wine (one of which was included in the price of the Groupon), I downed two shots of apple schnapps.

We had a fun time eating the fondue:

It is a highly recommended experience!

Level 1, 89 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 9650 1196

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Nigella’s Brownies and Icecream Pudding for Xmas in July

December in Australia is generally too hot and humid for most people to enjoy traditional Christmas fare like roast turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding.  Most would prepare seafood or a backyard barbecue to the traditionally heavy, hot Christmas dinner served in the Northern hemisphere.

However, that does not mean that Australians do not enjoy traditional Christmas fare, so to ensure we don't miss out on the fun, we celebrate Christmas in July.  It is basically an opportunity to eat a traditional Christmas dinner in the winter months, when it is cooler and more conducive to such fare.

On the weekend, I hosted my own Christmas in July with some friends.  It was my first dinner party at my new flat, so it doubled as a kind of house warming.

For starters, I served an assortment of nuts, cheeses, dips, crackers and dates stuffed with gorgonzola:   

Dinner comprised a pork loin roast with gravy, roasted potatoes and carrots, and Adam Liaw's roasted broccoli with chilli and parmesan.

Then onto the best part - dessert.  After consulting with one of my friends and being inspired by an episode of Nigella's Feast, I made brownies (using gluten free flour for my friend):

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson's Feast.  It was originally a "snow flecked" brownie with white chocolate chips, but I left out the snow.  After all, I am not a fan of white chocolate and it doesn't snow where I live.  These are fudgy brownies of the kind that Nigella describes as "damp".
To make these brownies, you will need:
375g butter
375g dark chocolate
6 eggs
350g sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
225g plain flour

Preheat your oven to 180C and line a 33 x 23 x 5cm rectangular tin with baking paper.
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in heavy based saucepan over a low heat and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract, the fold into the chocolate mixture.
Finally, fold in the flour and scrape the mixture into the prepared tin.  Bake for 25 minutes or until set on top and not wobbly in the middle.  Cool in the tin before dusting with icing sugar and slicing into squares.

The other dessert that I made was a festive Icecream Pudding from Kitchen Classics - Celebration:

To make it, you will need:

50g chopped toasted almonds
205g dried mixed fruit
80ml rum
105g glace cherries, quartered 
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 litre each of chocolate icecream and vanilla icecream, softened
Ice Magic and extra glace cherries, to decorate

Put the dried fruit, almonds and rum into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to soak overnight.

Line a pudding basin with cling film and chill it in the freezer overnight.

In a large bowl, combine the vanilla icecream with the glace cherries, and press around the sides of the pudding basin, leaving a hollow in the middle.  Freeze for a couple of hours.

Combine the chocolate icecream with the spice, fruit and nuts and use it to fill the hollow in the vanilla icecream, evening off the top.  Freeze overnight. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate and decorate with Ice Magic and glace cherries before cutting into wedges to serve.

Happy Christmas in July!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

TWD - Vanilla Bean Sables

Our last July recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie is Vanilla Bean Sables.  These biscuits are a slice and bake shortbread, with the outside of the log rolled in sanding sugar so that the finished biscuits have a lovely sweet crunch on the outside.

These biscuits were very easy to put together and the result was delicious.  I made a half batch so that I was not drowning in biscuits.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TWD - Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. These bars comprise chocolate chips, coconut and dried apricots baked into a chewy dough in a cast iron pan.

These bars were not the prettiest thing I have baked this year, but they were tasty.  They were a surprise hit at work too, and I received a request for the recipe.  As well as being published in Dorie's Cookies, the recipe is online here

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Soup - Red Tractor July

This month's Red Tractor calendar recipe is Roasted Cauliflower Soup.  I will be honest and say that this recipe did not appeal to me.  I am not a huge soup fan to start with, and roasted cauliflower soup is not a flavour that is high on my desired list.  However, in the spirit of my project, I made the soup anyway.

The calendar quote for this month comes from  Anne of Green Gables:  

I am a big fan of Anne, and this statement reflects Anne's dauntless optimism.  In the middle of winter, now that I am older, I find it hard to muster up this kind of optimism, but it is an inspirational attitude to have.

Now for the soup.  It tasted better than I imagined, but it's still not something I would ever make again.  The potatoes and apples help to balance the cauliflower so that the soup doesn't smell like an old sock.

If roasted cauliflower soup is something that may float your boat, you can make it with the following ingredients:

1 cauliflower cut into florets
3 red apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 finely chopped stalks of celery
2 large potatoes, finely chopped
6 cups boiling water
2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
1/2 cup cream

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Toss the cauliflower, apple and garlic together with the olive oil in a large bowl. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then cook the onion and celery until soft.  Add the cauliflower, apples, garlic, potatoes, boiling water and stock cubes, bring to the  boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. 

Puree the ingredients in the saucepan with a stick blender, then stir in the cream and serve.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Sweet Cherry and Marzipan Buns

In The Guardian recently, Ruby Tandoh of GBBO fame published a recipe for Sweet Cherry Marzipan Buns.  “Cherry” and “marzipan” instantly had my attention and I wanted to make these buns.

The buns comprise a sweet bread dough that is shaped with a hollow, into which you pop a marzipan disk and cherry compote before baking. Fresh out of the oven, the buns are completed with a sweet glaze.

These buns were delish - like a cherry danish with bread instead of pastry. As Ruby says, if you have a lazy weekend afternoon to make them, then I highly recommend giving these tasty buns a go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

TWD - Classic Fruit Tart

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is a classic - Classic Fruit Tart.  Who doesn't like custard topped with berries delivered on a pastry crust?

This dessert looks a million bucks but is, to quote Amazon, "easy az".  It is especially easy when you press the pastry into the tin to create the crust.  The pastry doesn't end up as thin or even as rolling it out, but it is much quicker and causes less drama. 

And this is the end result!  Who cares if the crust gets a bit thick in parts?  I just love the decadent combination of berries and fruit - so pretty, so delicious, and just right.  This is definitely one I'd make again.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week, visit the LYL section of the Tuesdays with Dorie website. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sweet Potato, Mince and Pasta Bake

In my quest for the perfect lunch dish, I recently found a recipe for Sweet Potato and Mince Pasta Bake published in the Australian Women's Weekly featured in an advertisement for sweet potatoes.  I liked the sound of the ingredients, which included both meat and vegetables.

I made some changes to the recipe  that were mostly accidental.  I used fusilli rather than penne because that is what I found at my supermarket.  I left out the spinach because I forgot to buy it, and the pine nuts because I couldn't find them in my pantry cupboard.

I recommend using a food processor to grate the vegetables as this will save you a lot of time and grief. 

This is a really hearty, warming winter lunch, and I would happily make it again.  

If you think that you'd like to make this dish (my version), you will need:

  • 350g dried pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 500g beef mince
  • 400g sweet potato, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1 small zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup  beef stock
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 100g ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese

Preheat your oven to 220°C.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Heat the oil in a frypan and cook  the onion and garlic until softened. Add the mince and cook until browned. Add the sweet potato and zucchini and cook until softened slightly.  

Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, stock and thyme, then simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until thickened slightly.

Combine the pasta and the sweet potato mixture in a large ovenproof dish. Crumble over the ricotta, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and serve with a garden salad. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Chocolate Licorice Loaf Cake

Are you a licorice lover? And if yes, do you like all kinds of licorice or just certain kinds? I like most licorice except the Dutch salted stuff, but funnily enough I hate all other black lollies, including black jelly beans.

In The Age recently, they published this recipe for Chocolate Licorice Loaf Cake.

This cake was absolutely delicious, and it even received a tick of approval from my Pilates instructor, who does not like licorice! Melting the licorice was kind of gross, as the result looked like melted down car tyres, but trust the recipe - it works. I used Darrell Lea soft black licorice to make the cake. My licorice didn’t not melt down completely and I think that’s OK. I actually liked the soft chunks of licorice that remained in the cake.

I didn’t bother without the caramel sauce or extra garnish of licorice on top of my cake - I think it was perfect as is. But by all means, if you prefer, you can go the full McCoy, like the recipe.

If you are a licorice lover (or even if you are not!), I highly recommend making this delicious cake.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

TWD - Pistachio Berry Slims

This week's Tuesday with Dorie (Dorie's Cookies) pick is the rather festive looking Pistachio-Berry Slims.  These cookies are pistachio macaroons topped with red jam and fresh raspberries (hence the red and green festive appearance):

If you don't like pistachios you will not like these cookies - there are only three ingredients in the base cookie (ground pistachios, sugar and egg whites), making the pistachio flavour quite strong.

The cookies are baked in a log before being cut into "slims" with a serrated knife:

The log is baked with a hollow in the middle for the jam and raspberries.  I used rosella and wild plum jam rather than raspberry jam because I already had it open and it fits the "red jam" bill.

I liked these cookies without being rapt with the flavour.  I do like the fact that they were super simple and quick to make - if you have guests coming in a couple of hours you can whip up a batch of these and have them on the table by the time they arrive.  (There is an hour's chilling time that you need to build in.)

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