Tuesday, April 28, 2020

TWD - Green Tea Sables

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Green Tea Sables.  These are short cookies flavoured with crushed green tea. 

I used Tulsi lemongrass ginger tea, which my Google search said was a green tea:

I didn’t buy this tea - someone at work was giving them away. I was glad to have a use for it.

For some reason, my cookies never spread in the oven. They stayed as little discs about the same size as I cut off the dough log.

These cookies tasted ok, but at the risk of making a pun, were not my cup of tea.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2020

ANZAC Biscuits - Maggie Beer’s recipe

But where our desires are and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night.

                           Extract from For The Fallen (Laurence Binyon)

Today is ANZAC Day.  ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.  The day was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the ANZACs in World War I at Gallipoli, but  it now commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all conflicts, wars and peacekeeping operations.

Traditionally, ANZAC Day is marked by dawn services throughout Australia and New Zealand, where a wreath is laid, followed by a recitation of  Ode to the Fallen (being a stanza from the poem  For the Fallen), then a minute's silence in honour of those who served, then the Last Post is played on a bugle, and finally the New Zealand and Australian national anthems are sung while the flags of each country are raised from half mast to full mast.  Afterwards, there is an ANZAC Day parade through the main streets of various cities and towns, in which those who served march or are driven past crowds of citizens who have come to pay their respects. 

I have attended an ANZAC Day parade in Brisbane, but I have never attended a dawn service.  This year is the closest that I have come to participating in a dawn service by watching the Melbourne dawn service at The Shrine on TV.   It was very moving.  I especially enjoyed the singing of the New Zealand and Australian national anthems.  Our work choir was going to perform those anthems yesterday for ANZAC Day, but because of the current physical distancing requirements, we were unable to do so.

Another ANZAC Day tradition is to make ANZAC biscuits.  The origin of ANZAC biscuits is thought to be that they were made by women to send to soldiers serving abroad as the ingredients  didn't spoil easily and they transported well.  Regardless, ANZAC biscuits are delicious, and people make them all year round, although they have special significance on ANZAC Day.  There are many different recipes for ANZAC biscuits, but the basics remain the same - oats, golden syrup, butter, coconut, bicarbonate of soda, flour, brown sugar.  Some people like their ANZAC biscuits to be chewy, others like them crunchy.  Bought ANZAC biscuits tend to be quite hard, so I much prefer making my own.

I have posted about ANZAC biscuits before here, here, here, here, and here.  I have also made ANZAC slice and ANZAC Pear and Ginger Loaf.  This shows just how many and varied recipes there are for ANZAC biscuits.

This year, I decided to make Maggie Beer's recipe for ANZAC biscuits.  I chose this recipe because it had a couple of twists in the ingredients - lemon zest and verjuice, neither of which are traditional in ANZAC biscuits.  I really loved the result - my biscuits were delightfully chewy, and the lemon added a lovely scent and flavour to the biscuits.

I made a half recipe (which is lucky because I could easily scoff a whole batch of these) to make 8 biscuits, as follows:

1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 + 1/8 cup brown sugar
grated zest of half  lemon
62g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon verjuice
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicon mat.

Put all of the dry ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda into a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Put the butter, golden syrup and verjuice into a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter is melted and simmers.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir the mixture - it will foam up.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Roll teaspoonsful of  the mixture into balls and place them at least one inch apart on the lined baking tray.  Flatten the tops of each ball slightly.

Place the biscuits into the preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown (note that they will still feel soft to the touch at this stage).  Remove the biscuits from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the tray, then use a spatula to carefully lift each biscuit onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat and enjoy.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Ricotta Cake with Brandy Sultanas and Chocolate Ganache

Panettone smells and tastes of Christmas. The moist sweet raisins contrast with the sharp, tangy citrus peel and rich, pillowy bread.  However, to make a panettone takes serious time . What if you could get the flavours and feel of panettone with a lot less effort?

Helen Goh provides the solution with her Ricotta Cake with Amaretto Raisins and Chocolate Ganache. You can find the recipe here.

I made a half recipe in an 8” tin (being the smallest that I had). My cake would have been a little taller if I’d had a slightly smaller tin, but it was fine as it was.

I substituted the amaretto for brandy and the raisins for sultanas.  I also used chopped candied oranges instead of the candied peel.

The soft, fruit studded ricotta cake is enrobed in dark chocolate ganache that has been flavoured with the alcohol used to soak the fruit.

The end result is a soft, moist, luscious cake that smells and tastes like Christmas - and panettone!

If you are someone who likes the flavour of Christmas treats, then this cake may be all of your Christmases at once.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

TWD - Every-Way Shortbread Fans - The Lemon Poppyseed Version

Life handed me lemons, so I made lemonade, lemon cake, lemon drops, and I even used the rinds to make lemon art. So, the joke is on you, life, haha! (Emilyann Allen)

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe continues last week’s lemon theme. It is Every-Way Shortbread Fans - the Lemon Poppyseed Version.

These delicious biscuits are easy to whip up, and are baked in a round cake tin to help them get and keep their shape.

The lemon poppyseed version involves rubbing lemon zest into sugar, and poppyseeds being folded through the dough.

A fork is used to mark out the shortbread sections and decorate the edges of the biscuits. The biscuits are cut when still warm after baking.

To finish, a lemon icing is drizzled over the biscuits - not necessary but pretty.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Jamie Oliver’s Corner Shop Curry Sauce with Chicken

One of this week’s recipes on Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On was Corner Shop Curry Sauce with Chicken. It looked so good that I made it this weekend.

You can find the recipe here.

The curry sauce contains onion, ginger, garlic, chickpeas, coconut milk, curry paste and tinned tomatoes.

The verdict: hearty, filling and flavoursome. I used red curry paste as jalfrezi curry paste does not exist here. This recipe is quick and simple to make and a definite keeper.

Friday, April 17, 2020


You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread - stale and dry. Loretta Lynn

In the past, I had not been a fan of cornbread. I had never made it myself, and the versions that I tried were dry and tasteless.

One of my colleagues, Johanna, posted a cornbread recipe in the COVID cookbook this week, so I decided to give it a go. 

And boy, I was glad that I did.  This cornbread was moist and tasty, and especially good served warm with a little butter.

I added a cup of  frozen peas and corn to my batter, and grated a quarter of a cup of cheddar on top.  Johanna also suggests adding tinned corn, creamed corn, cheese or chilli to the batter.

If you would like to try Johanna’s cornbread, you will need:

125g butter
150g sugar (or a little less if you prefer)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
175g cornmeal or polenta
150g plain flour
250ml buttermilk
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 1 litre capacity loaf tin.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Set aside.

Put all of the dry ingredients except the sugar into a large bowl and stir to combine. Stir through any add ins that you want to use.

Put the butter into a medium saucepan and melt over low heat.  Add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs into the butter mixture with a fork, then fold in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula.

Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients, and use a rubber spatula to just combine.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin and level the top.  Grate cheese on top if desired.  Place the tin into the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove the bread from the oven and cool completely in the tin on a wire rack before unmoulding.  

Slice and serve spread with butter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

TWD - Martine’s Lemon and Apple Tart

If life gives you lemons, make apple juice and make people wonder how the hell you did it. 
 Gurbaksh Chahal

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Martine’s Lemon and Apple Tart. Martine is someone who only makes recipes once, so if you want to taste it again, you have to ask her for the recipe on the spot, and that is what Dorie did for this tart.

The tart comprises a sweet shortcrust tart shell filled with a mixture that incorporates lemon-zest flavoured sugar and lemon juice, and grated apple stirred through it.

Although this tart won’t win any prizes in the beauty stakes, it tastes devine! I was surprised when I first tasted it - it has a definite lemon zing which for me was the main flavour.  This one is a definite keeper! I am glad Dorie rescued the recipe from being lost to history.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Blackberry and Orange Cake with Chocolate Ganache

He is not here: for He is risen ... (Matthew 28:6)

Happy Easter to all!  I hope you are having a wonderful day.

To celebrate Easter, I made a cake that I have had my eye on since the recipe was published in March - Jordan Rondel’s Blackberry and Orange Cake with Chocolate Ganache.  This is an autumn cake with a delicious combination of flavours.

Here is the lovely vanilla cake before it is enrobed in ganache:

My cake is a miniature version of the recipe - only a quarter of the size of the original. Luscious blackberries are embedded in the cake, and orange zest is mixed into the cake batter.

Once the cake is cooled, a dark chocolate ganache is poured over the cake, before the cake is decorated with more blackberries and orange zest.  To make my cake an Easter celebration, I also put small candy coated “bird’s” eggs on top of the cake.

Here is a peek inside of this luscious, fruity cake:

I loved this cake, and highly recommend that you make it if you like fruit and chocolate flavours together. The recipe is at the link above.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Carrot, Toasted Hazelnut and Cheesecake Layer Cake

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.

                                 Bertolt Brecht

I hope that you have been enjoying your Easter weekend so far.  It may be difficult for many of us (including me!) being separated physically from our loved ones, but it is worth it to save health and lives.

Difficult times are a part of life.  I cannot complain as my life has been easy compared to the lives of my immediate forebears.

This is my great grandma:    

I love this photo because she is holding a cake.   Great Granny went through a lot in her life - she immigrated to Australia in the late 1800s on a ship at age 3 from what was then part of Germany, she lived on a farm in a slab house, had numerous children, and survived a snake bite and the loss of a child. Apparently she was famed for her recipes for homemade sausages and bruise ointment, which sadly no-one thought to write down, so they are lost to history.  I don't know much more about her life, but it seems that, like many pioneers, Great Granny was made of stern stuff.   I am inspired by the courage and determination of women like her.

To celebrate this Easter weekend, I wanted to make a carrot cake, as it fits in well with the Easter themes of spring (although we are going into autumn in the Southern hemisphere) and bunnies (new life).

I chose the recipe for Carrot, Toasted Hazelnut and Cheesecake Layer Cake from Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull (divided by 4, to minify it).   I love the fact that if you can't decide between cake and cheesecake, this recipe allows you to have both.

The cake component is a delicate, light sponge-like carrot cake containing ground toasted hazelnuts.  It is so delicate that my bottom layer fell apart when I tried to flip the cheesecake layer out onto it.  Luckily, the stickiness of the cheesecake allowed me to glue the base cake layer back together respectably.

The cheesecake is a part of recipe of the filling from "The cheesecake (that you will love the most)" recipe in Beatrix Bakes.     You can also find the recipe online here.  For my mini version, I made a quarter of the filling recipe.  I substituted natural Greek yoghurt for the sour cream, which worked fine.

The frosting required marscapone, but I did not have any, so I just increased the cream cheese component.  I think I would have liked the frosting better without the white chocolate, which made it a bit too claggy and sweet for me, so I think I'd just make normal cream cheese icing if making this cake again.  

To make this cake (mini version), you will need:

1/4 batch of cheesecake filling (recipe at the link above)


30g toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
55g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1 egg
50g sugar
35ml oil (I used grapeseed oil)
3/4 carrot, peeled and grated

Frosting (I made a half batch as 1/4 batch was not enough)

80g cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
15g butter, softened
25g melted white chocolate

For the cheesecake:

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 6" round shallow cake pan.  Pour the cheesecake filling mixture into the pan, and place the pan in a roasting tray (I used a 9" cake tin).  Pour hot water into the roasting tin to come one third of the way up the sides of the cheesecake pan, being careful not to get water into the cheesecake itself.   Bake the cheesecake in the oven for ~20 minutes or until it has set firmly.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the roasting tin, and put it into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

For the cakes: 

Turn up the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  

Put 20g of the toasted hazelnuts into food processor and blitz until they form fine crumbs (but do not overblitz or you will get a paste).  Chop the other 10g of toasted hazelnuts coarsely with a knife and set aside. 

Spray two x 6"inch cake tins with cooking oil spray and line the base and sides of the tins with baking paper.  

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.

Put the egg and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 10 minutes on high speed, then reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and beat for a further 2 minutes.   Increase the mixer speed slightly and stream in the oil.

Put the grated carrots and hazelnut crumbs into a large bowl.  Pour the egg mixture over the carrots and hazelnuts, then fold together gently with a rubber spatula.  Add the dry ingredients and fold in gently.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins, and smooth the tops with a metal spatula.  Bake the cakes in the oven for ~20 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the tins and turning the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting:

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted and beat on high speed  until light and fluffy.


Put one of the cakes onto a cake board which has a dab of frosting in the centre to secure the cake.  Put half a tablespoon of frosting on the top of each cake and spread out to the edges of the cakes.  As Natalie says, do this carefully, as the cakes are quite fragile - I tore my bottom layer a little at this stage. 

Invert the chilled cheesecake directly onto the bottom layer of cake.  Again, be careful - my cheesecake layer did not pop straight out of the tin, and when I tried to get it out, I ended up mangling the bottom layer of cake - thank goodness the sticky cheesecake allowed me to glue the cake layer onto the cheesecake layer itself to stabilise the cake.

Place the frosted side of the other cake on top of the cheesecake layer, and gently push all three layers into alignment.

Using a metal spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

TWD - Little Rascals (Spitzbuben)

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Liitle Rascals, known in their native Germany as Spitzbuben.  They are delicious little sandwich cookies made with a dough containing ground walnuts, with two biscuits (one having a peek a boo hole in it) sandwiched together with jam.

Dorie warned that the soft dough might be a pain to work with, and she was not wrong!! I ended up leaving the cut out cookies on the paper I cut them out on and removing the dough from around the cutouts, as they were too soft to lift. I cut any jagged edges off when the biscuits came out of the oven.

The only small cutter I have is heart-shaped, so my biscuits have a heart-shaped peekaboo cutout, revealing the cherry jam beneath.

On a taste scale, these were devine, but on an ease of making, they rate as painful because the dough is quite temperamental.

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

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Banana Fig and Walnut Cake

The Tivoli Road Bakery in South Yarra sells amazing breads and pastries.  They have also produced a self-named cookbook, so that you can try their recipes at home.  That is just as well, because at the moment they are not within easy reach for me.

On Instagram, someone posted a photo of their version of the Tivoli Road Banana Fig and Walnut Cake. It looked so scrumptious that I knew I had to make it (and I had the cookbook!).

Here is my version of that cake:

Doesn't it look luscious!  It is packed with fruit and nuts, and is wonderfully moist (sorry, this word is sometimes the only word that fits).

When the book was released, this recipe was published on the Internet to publicise the book, so I needn't reproduce it here.  Instead, head on over to the recipe for Tivoli Road's Banana Fig and Walnut Cake here - or buy the book!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pickled Grapes

Lucy thought the Beavers had a very snug little home … there were hams and strings of onions hanging from the roof ...

Excerpt from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis 

In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the Beavers have a very well stocked house.  They seem to be prepared for anything, as is well shown by the original illustration that accompanies the text.  Their home is depicted as being piled from floor to ceiling with food and sewing equipment and tools.  It was just as well that the Beavers were well stocked, because Edmund's treachery meant that they and the remaining three Pevensi children had to leave hurriedly.  The Beavers were quickly able to fill sacks with tea, ham and bread for their escape from the White Witch.

At the moment, I feel a little like the Beavers, stocking up for a long period of social distancing as opposed to a long winter.  It does feel rather cosy and homey.  Although having a well stocked pantry is no defence  from COVID-19, it does mean that you are prepared if required to go into social isolation or further lockdowns.  I am lucky in that because I enjoy cooking and baking, my pantry has always been well stocked.  My mother also taught me to have plenty of provisions in the house, a habit that she learned from a childhood spent on a farm, subject to the ravages of drought and flood.  Her family grew their own fruits and vegetables and preserved and canned and bottled them in the good times to help them to deal with the hard times.  I can't grow my own fruits and vegetables as I don't have a garden, but I can still prepare in my own way.

On the subject of preserves, I recently saw Maggie Beer make pickled grapes on The Cook and The Chef.  I was intrigued, as I had never heard of pickling grapes before.  Maggie said that they are good on cheese platters or to go with meats.  I thought heck, I have to give them a try!

I found a recipe based on Maggie's recipe for pickled grapes on Morsels and Musings.  Armed with the ingredients, I made my own small batch of pickled grapes. They are indeed what they say on the tin - the sweetness of the grapes is combined with the sourness of the vinegar and the spiciness of the cinnamon and peppercorns.  Pickled grapes are honestly good enough to eat on their own, straight from the jar.

If you would like to make your own pickled grapes, you will need:

400g white seedless grapes, divided into small bunches
300ml white vinegar
100ml water
200g white sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
12 black peppercorns

Put the vinegar, water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Sterilise a large glass jar.  Remove the cinnamon sticks from the liquid, then place the bunches of grapes in the jar. Pour over the pickling liquid and screw the light of the jar on tighly.  Turn the jar upside down briefly to sterilise the lid of the jar.