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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Simple Dinners 10 / Beef and Shiraz Pie

beef and shiraz pie

Winter and comfort food intrinsically go together. It can remind you of a different time and warm you up from the inside out, what could be better? For me personally, the best comfort food is anything meaty and cooked slowly for hours - or containing pasta and cheese, obviously! Recently I spent a wonderful relaxing Sunday just chopping, simmering and baking. It was so nice to take the time in the kitchen and slow down, with the rain falling outside.

This recipe is actually very close to my heart, as it takes me waaaay back to my very first blog post. Which is actually somewhat appropriate, as Spicyicecream celebrated its 7th birthday recently! I made a few slight changes to the recipe to simplify it, and thought about how much I've learned about cooking and baking since I started this blog.

beef and shiraz pie

At the beginning, I wanted to try as many new ingredients and techniques as I could, but now I get the most joy from cooking the kind of things that I really love the most and putting fun new twists on the classics. I have discovered so many favourite dishes from sharing them here first, and then making them over and over in the time since. And I've learned everything I know about photography and styling from practicing and practicing for the photos here. But geez, looking back on some of my early photos really makes me cringe!

I never in a million years thought that blogging would take off as it has, let alone that I'd still be doing it after so long, given my short attention span! It really has been a tasty little journey, and I hope it continues. I know I haven't been posting as much this year, but I truly can't imagine life without taking photos of every cake I make.

I like this recipe, because once the prep is done, you can almost leave it alone (save for a little stir here and there) for an hour while the meat simmers away. This time I made one large pot pie rather than several small ones just used store-bought puff pastry for the top to save time. Next time I would add some mushrooms, but if you like you could add other veggies too. Enjoy on a cold night with a big glass of Shiraz!

beef and shiraz pie

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Caramelised Banana and Rum Cake

caramelised banana cake

After a very busy July, I've been thinking a lot about the whole work/life balance thing. Ask anyone you know how they've been and 'busy' or even 'crazy busy' seems to be the default answer, a badge of honour for the ambitious. I know it's true for me!

We pack our schedules with work or self-imposed obligations, check our emails before we even get out of bed in the morning, and feel guilty, bored or useless in any moments of idleness. To me, finally being 'busy' came as a relief that my business was growing and my services were beginning to be in demand.

I took every opportunity that came my way, worked around the clock and didn't take a day off in months. I pushed aside the things I really loved to do - from reading to blogging - as less important. And then I wondered why I felt burned out and uninspired...

caramelised banana cake

The more I tried to endlessly multi-task, the more scattered and forgetful I became, and then I saw a quote that really resonated with me - "The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they come when the mind is still".

Of course! Why do your best ideas always come when you're in the shower, walking somewhere, mixing cake batter or about to fall asleep, just as you let go of your thoughts? Down time shouldn't be a indulgence, it's an absolute necessity to recharge creativity and inspiration!

caramelised banana cake

I've gotta say, it was so nice to get back into the kitchen and bake something amazing after a month of throwing dinners together haphazardly or eating unhealthy take out when I was too busy to cook.

A few overripe bananas in the fruit bowl were the inspiration for this cake. I decided to caramelise them with brown sugar in the oven before adding them to the cake to really concentrate the flavour, and then added a big splash of spiced rum to the mixture for good measure. When the cake was cooked, I piled it high with more caramelised banana slices and oozy boozy salted caramel sauce. It looked and smelled incredible!

caramelised banana cake

The cake itself is a winner, but the caramelised bananas and spiced rum gave it an extra dimension of flavour. It was super easy to make in the food processor with minimal washing up, and I loved it served warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, a perfect comforting dessert on a chilly winter night!

caramelised banana cake


Friday, June 27, 2014

Papaya & Coconut Pops (Gluten Free)

papaya coconut pops

Up until this week's snowpocalypse, you'd be forgiven for thinking that winter had forgotten Sydney entirely this year. The days were still sunny and warm, and I hadn't even busted out my favourite scarves or taken my coats out of their dry cleaning sleeves from last year.

Salads and ice cream were still  firmly on the menu, so when I received some beautiful red papaya and yellow pawpaw from Australian Papaya and Impact Communications, all I could think of were summery recipe ideas to show off the tropical fruit flavours.

It's one of the world's healthiest foods with a huge array of health benefits from immune boosting properties and helping protect against heart disease to cancer-fighting antioxidants and many others too. It truly is an amazing super food - and delicious too!

papaya coconut pops

I had to ignore my instinct to add tequila, chilli and salt and make a tropical cocktail, especially after the week I've had, because the recipe was supposed to appeal to the kiddies and be family friendly. Most of the time when I eat papaya, all I add is a little squeeze of lime, so I decided to play with that concept and keep the flavours as pure as possible.

I created these stripy Papaya & Coconut Popsicles, which are completely gluten free and vegan too. To add a little bit of sweetness I made a simple syrup using coconut sugar and lime juice, and added that into some pureed fresh papaya, layered in popsicle molds with coconut milk. I think they turned out very cute! It's the perfect healthy and fun snack for kids and grownups alike.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I'm definitely making a cocktail with the leftover papaya! Happy Friday!

papaya coconut pops


Monday, June 16, 2014

Dutch Baby with Chai Poached Pears and Caramel

dutch baby with chai pears

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm going to be 26. Around this time last year, my best friend and I were drinking copious amounts of red wine in the kitchen and booking flights to New York. My motto for 25 was 'Do Fun Shit' and I definitely did a lot of fun shit in the last year. This year I am proposing 'Take Adventures'.

Life looks quite different now, and I've learned a lot in the last year, but one of the most important things is to satisfy my need for adventures, and not ignore it. 'Adventures' is quite a grand term, and while overseas trips are wonderful of course, it is not necessarily what I mean. I am never as inspired and energised as when I'm doing something new to me. I don't know how to take relaxing holidays, because in a new place I just want to see and do (and eat) as much as possible!

But I can feel the same sense of joy and wonder from exploring somewhere in Sydney than I did when I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. Just a simple break from routine in some way, shape or form can be enough. But the trick is to be present in the moment, keep the smart phone in your pocket and appreciate all of the things happening around you. And of course, even though it's sometimes hard to justify taking a few hours off in the afternoon when I'm really really busy, when I come back to my desk I am inspired in a great way.

dutch baby with chai pears

Since the weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures, I can't get enough chai. I just love the combination of warming, comforting spices and steaming soy. The next thing to try is my own chai blend! But until then, I have a beautiful recipe for a decadent breakfast using in-season pears - perfect for a birthday. The special part is the chai salted caramel, which uses some of the spiced poaching liquid from the pears, and is incredibly delicious.

I've been wanting to make a Dutch Baby for quite a while - a thin pancake mixture is then baked in a skillet or ovenproof dish until the sides puff up beautifully and it's golden brown. The oven does all the work - these are pancakes minus the effort of flipping. Use that baking time to make a pot of coffee or chai - it's win win!

I also like that you can use any kind of seasonal fruit (berries or peaches are always a good bet) or keep it simple with just a little lemon and sugar. I made mine in 2 small skillets, but you could definitely also use one large one. Just increase the baking time a little and check every few minutes for those tell-tale puffed sides.

dutch baby with chai pears

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