Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Tipples 06 / Cherry Candy Cane Mojito

cherry candy cane mojito

It has been a really tough few days following the news in Sydney. After Monday’s 16 hour siege in a busy Sydney cafe that I’ve visited dozens of times, just a few blocks from where I used to work, I woke up to the terrible news that it had ended with two innocent people dying as heroes while trying to protect their fellow hostages.

I’m sure like many others I’ve felt a full spectrum of emotions in the last few days as these events hit really close to home, but if there is any positive to come out, it is definitely the beautiful way Australians have come together in the wake of these tragic events, from the floral memorial in Martin place, to the social media messages of hope and support that quickly spread all over the world.

cherry candy cane mojito

Since I moved to the other side of Sydney I don't see my family nearly as often, and so this year Christmas feels particularly special. I seriously can't wait to spend time with my Nanna, see how much my cousins' kids have grown and share a delicious home-cooked meal with all the people I love the most.

My sister and I brainstormed together to come up with a fun Christmas drink, and this Cherry Candy Cane Mojito is it. I know I've posted two cherry recipes in a row but they are so delicious and very cheap right now, so I've been eating a LOT of them! It uses traditional mojito ingredients - lime, mint and white rum with cherries and a candy cane as a cute garnish and to intensify the mint flavour in the drink itself. It just feels so festive and would be great at a Christmas party with friends!

cherry candy cane mojito


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cherry & Peach Pandowdy

cherry peach pandowdy

If right now you’re wondering “what the heck is a pandowdy?!” I don’t blame you. If you imagine something along the same lines a Cobbler, Crisp, Buckle or Pie. A Pandowdy is a classic 19th century Southern baked fruit dessert where the pastry is broken or cut up into pieces. This allows the fruit juices inside to bubble up and ensures extra crispy crunchy bits of pastry. Nothing dowdy about it!

cherry peach pandowdy

My love for these kinds of desserts is well documented. I just love any kind of baked fruit and pastry combination. They’re endlessly adaptable depending on what fruit is in season and work equally well in summer or winter. They’re rustic and unfussy, can be eaten warm or cold, and all that is needed to dress them up is a dusting of icing sugar and a scoop of ice cream or drizzle of cold pouring cream. Or if you’re feeling fancy, perhaps a homemade creme anglaise?

cherry peach pandowdy

For the filling this time I combined in-season white peaches and fresh cherries with a little sugar and flour, vanilla bean, orange blossom water and lemon juice. That’s it. The result was out of this world amazing. You can of course use apples, pears, apricots, plums, summer berries or any combination thereof. I also loved the sour cream pastry, which is a little different from what I would usually do, but was incredibly easy to prepare and baked up perfectly. I’ll definitely be using this for other pie crusts in future.

Make this for Christmas Day lunch, to end a backyard BBQ on a sweet note, or just because summer fruit is awesome right now. I really don’t need much of an excuse to bake a pie and take advantage of all my favourite seasonal produce!

cherry peach pandowdy

Sunday, December 7, 2014

30+ Christmas Recipes!

christmas recipes

Hi everyone! I can't believe it's nearly Christmas. But with December comes celebrations galore, entertaining friends and family, and if you're anything like me, making delicious homemade gifts! I just love Christmas baking, from traditional classics to modern desserts more suited to our summer climate and all the seasonal ingredients that go with it.

After 7 years of blogging, I have amassed quite a collection of Christmas recipes so I wanted to shine a light on the great stuff from back in the archives! I'll also be sharing some great new recipe ideas over the next few weeks. If you try any of these recipes, drop me a note in the comments to let me know :)

pomegranate gin smash


Drinks

roasted chats with crispy speck

Mains

ricotta cake

Traditional Desserts

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hummingbird Cake

hummingbird cake

Sometimes only cake will do. You know what I mean - a craving that only a homemade cake will satisfy. I think the Southern USA has it totally right when it comes to comfort foods - fried chicken, mac n cheese, pie, cobbler, the classic Red Velvet and this hit-the-spot Hummingbird cake. All some of my very favourite foods. It seems appropriate then, that my craving for cake came by watching Jamie Oliver's new Comfort Food series. It was totally gorgeous. It looked very simple. Obviously I had to make it.

hummingbird cake

I had actually never made a Hummingbird cake before, even though I just knew I'd love the combination of banana, pineapple and pecans. Because I followed the recipe quite closely, I will just link to the original from Jamie's website.

It was really easy to make, although mine took a little longer to bake than the recipe said. The major change I made was to halve the quantities from Jamie's original and make a 3 layer cake in a mini 12cm cake tin, which turned out very cute. I also used fresh pineapple instead of canned and added a little shredded coconut to the cake.

hummingbird cake

I left out the pecan brittle, mostly because it was a super hot day when I made this and I wasn't sure it would turn out successfully. I'm sure that extra crunchy textural element would be great, but this cake is already amazing! The cream cheese icing has a little zing from some added lime juice and zest, and I think it would also be delicious with a little lime curd swirled into the cream cheese icing between the cake layers.

hummingbird cakeI was going to decorate it very simply until I found some edible flowers at the local grocer and thought I'd try them for something quite different from my usual style. They really turn it into something special, I'm completely in love with the pretty spring-like look they give to this cake. It was so fun to photograph and share with friends. If you're after a dessert that delivers on the wow factor but is actually very simple to make...this is it!hummingbird cake

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Tipples 05 / Raspberry Ginger Margaritas

raspberry ginger margarita

I feel like even though I have a lot of valuable experience drinking cocktails, there is so much I need to learn about making them. I only have the very vaguest idea of what I’m doing and own just the most basic bar equipment. That is why I started this (somewhat sporadic) Thursday Tipples feature - to push myself to try learn about and experiment making new drinks, and hopefully end up with something delicious in the process.

I like to approach mixing drinks the same way as I do coming up with and brainstorming recipe ideas for baking - thinking seasonally, using good ingredients and quality spirits, tinkering with classic concepts and throwing in something a little bit fun and unexpected.

raspberry ginger margarita

This actually is the very first time I’ve ever made a Margarita, but I just love the simple combination of good tequila, agave and lime that just works. Because it’s almost summer here, I wanted to give it a twist using beautiful fresh raspberries and ginger, and some Murray River pink salt for the rims. I have to say, they turned out even better than I expected and I was really happy with how they looked and tasted :)

raspberry ginger margarita

I was also excited to try out my excellent new Mason Jar cocktail shaker that I bought recently. I love the clear glass shaker which takes some of the mystery out, so you can know exactly when the cocktail is properly shaken and blended. And if you like booze and don’t already follow their Instagram (@masonshaker), you definitely should! And maybe one day soon, I’ll get over serving my cocktails in glass jars... but probably not.

raspberry ginger margarita

It’s a perfect weekend party drink and the recipe below can be easily scaled up for a crowd. Of course you can also try other summer fruits depending on your favourites. A peach or pineapple margarita would be deeeelicious. Depending on the fruit you choose, you may need to puree it first. And make sure you save some for a pretty fruit garnish. Cheers!

Want more cocktail ideas? Click here.


raspberry ginger margarita 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Strawberry Balsamic Hand Pies

strawberry balsamic hand pie

You know when you meet someone for the first time, and you just immediately know you will be friends? With my current housemate K, I somehow just knew even before we had actually met. A strange set of circumstances led me to move in while she was overseas, and I wouldn't actually meet her until a few days later.

But seeing her beautiful apartment with shelves full of books, and kitchen cupboards with (seriously) about a dozen kinds of vinegar, I could tell that she was a foodie bookworm like me, and I just knew we would get along. Although we've discovered many other things in common in the time since, I'll always remember that we bonded over a shared love of vinegar.

strawberry balsamic hand pie

Vinegar is not just for salads and pickles! I have loved strawberries and balsamic vinegar together from the very minute I first tried it, but I do remember a lot of people being sceptical about the pairing a few years ago. It's definitely something that needs to be tasted to be believed. Luckily these days, the combination seems as common and unquestioningly good as salt and caramel, or peanut butter and chocolate. A good quality vinegar can elevate a humble strawberry from childhood snack to all grown up in an instant.

strawberry balsamic hand pie

The strawberries have been delicious so far this spring, and I've been eating them by the punnet full. I've been using them in my daily green smoothie, an afternoon snack, and sometimes even for dessert as well. Every recipe idea I come up with lately has seemed to be all about berries! But why not, they are one of my favourite foods, their season is short and they should be celebrated!

strawberry balsamic hand pie

I decided to make mini hand pies, which I love because they are the most perfectly portable and cute miniature snacklet - great for kids, picnics or just with a cup of tea. The strawberry juices bubbled and overflowed, which gave them a lovely rustic homemade look. While they are a tiny bit fiddly to make, the process is very easy and totally worth it. You do get into a bit of a production line, which when you get into the baking groove can be quite therapeutic!

strawberry balsamic hand pie

I used the same pastry as my cherry jam pop tarts from a few years ago, which is super simple to make. Do keep any excess in the fridge to continue chilling while you roll it out, as it becomes a little sticky as it warms to room temperature. The strawberries are sliced and stirred together with some good quality caramelised balsamic vinegar and flour. Mine were very fresh and sweet and didn't need any additional sugar in the fruit mixture. I gave mine just a light dusting of raw sugar prior to baking and think they're very cute as they are, but you could also make a simple glaze if you fancy.

strawberry balsamic hand pie


Friday, October 10, 2014

Baked Doughnuts with Fresh Berry and Pomegranate Glaze

baked doughnut with fresh berry glaze

I say it all the time, I love what I do, but I have pretty much forgotten what a weekend feels like. A day off is an extremely precious thing not to be taken for granted. Waking up on a day free of work to do anything you want to do - or nothing at all - feels as good if not better than waking up on your birthday! Oh the beautiful possibilities.

After a sleep in, a lazy cup of coffee and a walk in the sunshine to the farmers market or the beach or my favourite café, my favourite thing to do on my day off is, of course, baking.

baked doughnut with fresh berry glaze

I have quite a large archive of doughnut recipes. I do love making them and coming up with fun flavour combinations, but deep frying can be messy and tricky to keep the temperature at a consistent level. When I saw this recipe for baked doughnuts that claimed they were as good as the fried kind, and didn't need a specialised doughnut pan, I obviously had to try it out.

It is a yeasted raised recipe from one of my most trusted sources on all things doughnuts, Lara Ferroni. Of course containing yeast, it does take some time to prove, but I had all the time in the world on my glorious day off to potter around the house while I waited. Bliss.

baked doughnut with fresh berry glaze

Fresh berries are just starting to come into season and they are wonderful so far, definitely one of my favourite things about spring time. I wanted to achieve the classic look of a pink glazed doughnut but using fresh berries and pomegranate for flavour and the perfect colour, without artificial ingredients or food colouring. And of course, I piled as many fresh berries and pomegranate seeds on top as would fit. The combination is delicious.

This is a great base recipe to start from and would be delicious with any flavour of glaze or icing you can imagine! If you prefer a more traditional doughnut, you can brush with melted butter while fresh and hot from the oven and dip straight into cinnamon sugar.

baked doughnut with fresh berry glaze

When eaten fresh, these doughnuts are truly as good as the real thing, but a whole lot better for your waistline. I'd definitely recommend eating these on the same day as you bake them - all doughnuts are best eaten fresh but these ones especially. However if you do have some left over, store in an airtight container and warm them up for around 10 seconds in the microwave to soften them back up before you eat.

baked doughnut with fresh berry glaze

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cider Pancakes with Apples and Cider Salted Caramel

apple cider pancakes

Brought to you by Nuffnang and HP

The other day I found a pile of sketchbooks that were filled with countless pages of scribbled notes, lists and recipe ideas. Some of them have featured on this blog and become favourites, while others failed spectacularly.

I suppose the occasional kitchen disaster is par for the course when you are incapable of following a recipe - I am always tinkering and tweaking something or other. Flipping through those books was a great trip down memory lane and inspired me to recapture the boundless creativity I felt in those early days of blogging.

apple cider pancakes

I love bending the rules in the realm of cooking, whether it be putting a new (and often boozy) twist on a classic, or thinking outside the box to reinvent a dish in a whole new way. And as the very name of my blog suggests, I love finding and sharing unusual ingredient combinations that just work. 

HP is celebrating next gen creativity in Australia with a new campaign, Bend The Rules, and anyone can enter no matter what you do. With prizes every week and a grand prize of $10,000 all you have to do is submit text, images or video showing how you bend the rules via social media, remembering to hashtag #BendTheRulesAustralia. Easy peasy! I absolutely love seeing creative people sharing their passion and inspiration, so check out the current entries here.

Click here or on the link above to see the full terms and conditions.

apple cider pancakes

Now you might be thinking, cider in pancakes, what the? The idea had mixed reactions among the friends I let in on my brainstorm, but I just had a feeling that it was going to work. It’s unusual for sure, but today is all about bending the rules! You know what they say… brunch without booze is just a sad, late breakfast!

They turned out to be the absolute fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made, thanks to the cider, buttermilk and whipped eggwhites. The cider gave them a subtle apple tang and I added some brown sugar and cinnamon, which are an apple’s best friends. On top there is a tumble of cooked sliced apples with a cider-spiked salted caramel sauce, which is seriously good. After green smoothies for breakfast all week, it’s a wonderful weekend indulgence.

apple cider pancakes

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Star Anise Panna Cotta with Caramelised Pineapple

star anise panna cotta with caramelised pineapple

I love the changing of the seasons. Sydney does this time of year especially well - when the wind is warm, the air has a hint of jasmine flowers, the days get longer and the jacaranda trees are intense purple. Spring is always an incredibly inspiring time for me, a time when good things seem to happen. And so, I thought I'd make another one of these lists of my favourite things, moments and things to be grateful for. And if you haven't ever made a gratitude list like this, I'd encourage you to do the same!

• fried chicken, gossip and bad TV with the girls • great coffee at Rose Bay Diner • buying myself flowers • making an epic birthday cake • eggplant, always • working on exciting new projects • editing photos with my new friend • impromptu lounge room dance parties • binge watching scary shows • spring cleaning and de-cluttering • green juice • laughing until my eyes water and my stomach hurts • homemade pickles - stay tuned! • postcards from Paris • spending lunch breaks away from my laptop • nostalgic snacks • writing lots of lists • typography inspiration • getting a cat this weekend! • homemade mac and cheese • the sunset that broke the internet • taking a break to play in the sunshine

star anise panna cotta with caramelised pineapple

Let me tell you, this recipe is good. It's a simple creamy panna cotta infused with star anise and vanilla bean but it gets interesting with the spiced caramelised pineapple on top. The caramel sauce turns this dessert into something resembling a creme caramel, and the sweet golden pineapple is the perfect accompaniment.

The star anise is subtle all the way through even though it is used in both elements, but I actually preferred it this way over a strong aniseed taste. I've served it in cute little jars (I'm totally obsessed, I know) but you could also turn the panna cottas out of their ramekins and serve the caramel and pineapple alongside it as a plated dessert.

star anise panna cotta with caramelised pineapple


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday Tipples 04 / Sparkling Blood Orange Negroni

sparkling negroni

Happy Thursday afternoon! You made it this far, and I think you deserve a little treat. After a few months hiatus, Thursday Tipples is back and today I'm excited to share a great twist on the Negroni. I only discovered this Italian classic cocktail last year, but I've been in love with it ever since. Known as an apéritif, it is meant to stimulate your appetite before dinner.

While the original is quite strong and bitter, this version is a little lighter with some fresh blood orange (in season at the moment) and a spritz of soda. I have also used Aperol which is a little more mild than the traditional Campari, with notes of orange and rhubarb. Delicious!

sparkling negroni

I like this drink because it is not too sweet and somehow manages to be both refreshing and more-ish at the same time. It's also very easy to prepare with only five ingredients and easy to make in a shaker for two, or a pitcher for a crowd. Simple and delicious? A winning combination in my books.

If you fancy your drinks a little more on the bitter side, use Campari as in the original recipe or experiment with a dash of bitters. Even better, rhubarb or orange bitters would add an incredible depth of flavour, so get creative!

I think it is the perfect tipple for an apéritif, and best shared with friends no matter what the occasion you're planning - from a dinner party with the girls to a sunset wedding!

sparkling negroni

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