Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lamington Pavlova

lamington pavlova

Australia Day is one of my favourite occasions to bake for. It's a great chance to get creative and have fun with some Aussie-inspired desserts. And we get a day off work too! In past years I’ve made Lamington Doughnuts and Pavlova Ice Cream, and this year I decided to combine these two classics into one epic dessert: the Lamington Pavlova. A messy but delicious hybrid that equals patriotic perfection! Yes it tastes as good as it looks. And yes, I had seconds. Actually, we all did ;)

lamington pavlova

I’ll tell you a little secret. I wasn’t a huge fan of either of these two desserts until I tried making them myself. Soggy pavlovas and cheap supermarket lamingtons are not good things! But imagine two layers of chocolate meringue, with whipped vanilla cream, an insane amount of fresh summer berries, chopped Bounty bars, coconut chips and a rich choc-coconut fudge sauce drizzled all over the top to serve. I loved the combination of different flavours and textures, and the way the rich sauce brought it all together.

lamington pavlova

I think it combines the main elements of the lamington and the pavlova perfectly. I think it's a beautiful and impressive looking dessert to bring out at your Australia Day celebration this weekend. It found it a little bit messy to cut up and serve, but it tasted amazing. You could also make this as an Eton mess if you prefer the messy vibe.

Hope you all have a wonderful long weekend, and that the weather holds out for some long, lazy celebrations. If you're having a party big or small, there's heaps of food and styling ideas over here on my Pinterest board to inspire you!

lamington-pavlova-4

Monday, January 19, 2015

Simple Dinners 11 / Prawn Sliders with Lemon Fennel Slaw

prawn sliders with lemon fennel slaw

I think there’s something so Australian about a beach picnic to make the most of our gorgeous summer days. It’s no surprise that I love picnics. I’m not sure what it is, but eating outdoors in a new place (or a favourite place) is really special. Sydney - you gorgeous city, you - is rich in beautiful picnic spots, though my current favourites are the insanely beautiful harbour beaches that are conveniently within walking distance of my house. My housemate and I often make a few sandwiches, bring a bottle of wine and head down to the beach for a spontaneous sunset picnic and a quick dip in the ocean. It makes me happy.

Australia Day is next weekend and if the weather is good that’s definitely where you’ll find me. I made these little prawn sliders on the weekend and it got me thinking that they’d be perfect to take along on your next picnic. I could ramble for hours about perfect picnic foods, but I think you can’t go wrong with a sandwich. They’re portable, easy to eat and endlessly adaptable. Mine had some fresh Aussie prawns with a delicious lemon and fennel slaw.

prawn sliders with lemon fennel slaw

I think these little sliders can go seamlessly from beach picnic to dinner party, and would make a great appetiser too. I love the slaw most of all - it is crunchy and fresh, with a hint of sweetness from the apple and a light creamy buttermilk dressing. Fennel goes so well with many different things, which gives you options, so here are a couple of ways you could mix it up:

  • Try it with other seafood like lobster, shredded crab or smoked salmon
  • Make a variation on the slaw with shredded carrots and a lime and fish sauce dressing
  • Use large bread rolls instead of slider buns for a more substantial lunch
  • You could also use poached chicken instead of prawns. Delicious!
  • Add some homemade zucchini pickles. I think the acidity would work really well with the slaw.
prawn sliders with lemon fennel slaw

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Kitchen Resolutions

spicyicecream-kitchen-resolutions

I can't believe we're already half way through January - but this year has really started with a bang! I thought long and hard about my "resolutions" and discovered that the majority of them would take place in the kitchen and the office. While 2014 was a year of change and uncertainty, I think this year will be about learning, growth and good habits. I'd like to share them here to keep me accountable, and check back every now and then to see how I'm going, and what still needs work. Here we go...

1. Plan more, waste less. I often fall into the trap of impulse-buying good lookin’ produce with no idea what to do with it, and then not using it before it starts to wilt or go bad. Sometimes my housemate and I will end up buying the same thing. A few lists and a little bit of planning can go a long way to reducing the amount of food that is wasted - which is good for the planet and means more cash to buy cute props!

2. Be adventurous. I used to be the fussiest child ever and even though I have definitely become more open minded with food, there are still things I avoid trying because I think I might not like them, or don’t know how to cook them properly. But I’ve been proven wrong many times when I just get over it and give new things a try. This year I want to try cooking more seafood and adding a few more Asian dishes to my repertoire.

3. Make more things from scratch. There is something tremendously satisfying about making things that most people just buy from the supermarket like ricotta, curry pastes and pickles. There are an endless amount of things to experiment with. And as a bonus, it is usually cheaper and tastes so much better!

4. Start a small kitchen garden. I know I’ve said this before, but I accidentally murdered my herbs last time. Ooops! I’d love to be able to go outside the kitchen door and snip fresh coriander for my curries and cherry tomatoes for my salad. Maybe if the basics go well, I can try to grow a few of my other favourite vegetables and herbs.

5. Cook for friends. More dinner parties! I totally love having my friends over for lunch and dinner and we have the perfect apartment for entertaining, so I'd love to make the most of it. I'm definitely not as ambitious as Jordan who plans to host 52 dinner parties this year, but it's a great way to catch up with friends and make them feel special with a fabulous home cooked meal.

Do you have any kitchen-specific resolutions? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know!

Friday, January 9, 2015

My Favourite Green Smoothie

my favourite green smoothie

I always find the start of a new year to be full of gimmicky health messages and short-lived resolutions, although I can’t help but appreciate the sentiment to treat our bodies a little better and hopefully bring in some goals and good habits that will last beyond February. I have been drinking green juices and smoothies for a couple of years now, but it was only about six months ago that I invested in a high-powered blender and started making them at home almost every day. I really love starting my day with a big hit of fruits and vegetables.

If you’re ready to start making smoothies at home, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Green smoothies don’t have to be ‘green’. I add a massive handful of spinach to my smoothies no matter what. Depending on the other fruits and vegetables you use, the colour can vary from green to purple to... a somewhat questionable brown. But I think the foundation of healthy greens is the most important building block.

my favourite green smoothie

2. Use the whole fruit where possible. One reason I like smoothies is because you can get an extra dose of nutrients from the parts of the fruit that you wouldn’t normally eat. I add kiwi fruits and mangoes with the skin on because there’s a crazy amount of fibre and more antioxidants than the fruit itself! Of course you should always give your fruit a wash before you add it to the smoothie and you may want to keep the blender on a few extra seconds to really make sure it has properly broken down.

3. Experiment. And make it pretty. If you still need some convincing about drinking your greens, try out a few of your favourite fruits and vegetables with some mild tasting spinach leaves before you upgrade to kale! Also experiment with nutritious add ins like chia seeds and nuts, and different liquid bases like coconut water, almond or coconut milk. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a pretty glass, festive straw and tasty garnish. Add a wedge of pineapple and pretend you’re on holidays!

I’ve tried a lot of different smoothies over the last few months, and this is one that I keep coming back to. But it’s also quite flexible, depending on what you have in the fridge. Sometimes I use peaches or payaya instead of mango, or add a banana. If I’m starting to feel under the weather, I’ll throw in a little fresh ginger or turmeric. I love the tropical fruit flavours and the creaminess from the coconut and almond milk, which also helps it to feel a little more filling and substantial. There are no rules! Give it a try and adapt it as you go.

my favourite green smoothie


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014

best of 2014

I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas and some time off to relax. I always get quite reflective around this time of year on the things that have happened and how fast time is flying by! This year was all about hard work and learning as I started to build my freelance business. I didn't get to bake and blog quite as much as I tried to get used to my crazy new work schedule, but I have some exciting things planned for this space in the next little while so stay tuned for a few changes to come! This year I turned 26, this blog turned 7, we adopted a cat and I didn't leave Sydney at all! I hope that 2015 brings a little more balance, growth and hopefully some travel. Here is a little look back on some of my favourite posts for the year.

1. At the beginning of 2013 I made these Berry and White Chocolate Blondies and set a few goals for the year. Happy to say I almost made it to 20 books (currently reading #18) but really didn't keep up with my adventures once a week as work and life often got in the way. This is definitely something to focus on in 2015.

2. The most popular post of the year (and also the third most popular post of all time!) was the Tipsy Peach Iced Tea, which was a delicious and refreshing summer drink. You guys have good taste ;)

3. The award for dessert eaten the most quickly has to be the Churros with White Chocolate Raspberry Ganache! I guess you can't go wrong with fried dough, chocolate and sprinkles!

4. This was a very special cake, because I love making birthday cakes and this Chocolate Chip Passionfruit Naked Cake was for my sister Beth's 21st birthday party. I was so happy with how this one turned out and everyone loved it too, especially the birthday girl!

best of 2014

5. I was so happy that I finally tried making a Dutch Baby served with Chai Poached Pears and Caramel. I loved the wintery flavours in this decadent breakfast, but I'd also love to try it again with summer fruits soon. I also really embraced caramel this year, apparently!

6. I loved this winning combination of ingredients in a simple but impressive Star Anise Panna Cotta with Caramelised Pineapple. It was actually halfway between a panna cotta and creme caramel, which made it totally delicious.

7. As you know, I love love love making doughnuts, but I was thrilled to try a recipe for a baked version that tasted just as good as a fried one! Definitely check out these Baked Doughnuts with Fresh Berry and Pomegranate Glaze. It's a great one for kiddies as they are healthier than their fried counterparts and the glaze is made with colour and flavour from the berries - nothing artificial here!

8. This pretty Hummingbird Cake was probably one of the recipes that surprised me the most, it is such a simple combination of ingredients but it works so well and is very very pretty :)

I also just wanted to say a massive thank you as always to all of my fabulous readers. I read every single one of your comments and they mean the world to me. Thanks for joining me on another year of sugar and sprinkles, and I wish you the most wonderful year ahead xx

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gingerbread Chocolate Tart

chocolate gingerbread tart

Just a short post from me today as I've got some baking to do myself! But if you're looking for a perfect / easy / impressive / last minute Christmas dessert? I've totally got you.

This hybrid gingerbread chocolate tart came out of another sweet brainstorming session with my sister, because I really wanted to use the cute little gingerbread men confetti sprinkles that she bought me as a gift. Aren't they awesome! It is the last minute though so if you can't find them, you can use any excess pastry to make a few mini gingerbread biscuits to decorate the top.

chocolate gingerbread tart

I adapted my normal favourite pastry to include a good hit of ginger and spices. Don't be afraid to go overboard with the spices, even in the dough itself tastes quite strong, it mellows when baking and when combined with the chocolate, the ginger itself can be quite subtle. I also put a small Australian twist on it and used some finely ground roasted wattleseed from Herbies that kind of tastes like coffee and biscuits. It's delicious!

To really make this dessert beautiful and decadent, I also served the tart with some whisky-spiked caramel sauce and fresh raspberries. Gotta have a boozy sauce - it's Christmas! I loved the way all the elements worked together in harmony, especially the raspberries to offer a slight tart contrast to the rich chocolate. It feels special and festive all at once.

chocolate gingerbread tart

I also just want to thank you all, my wonderful readers for another year filled with sugar and sprinkles. I have some exciting plans for this space in the next few months and can't wait to show you! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday filled with good food and quality time with your family and friends xxx

chocolate gingerbread tart

Monday, December 22, 2014

Italian Crostoli + Nescafé Dolce Gusto Circolo

crostoli-1

Although I’m a pretty fussy coffee drinker, I never had any interest in buying an espresso machine, for the extra time it would take to grind coffee beans and clean the machine afterwards. First thing in the morning, I want my coffee immediately! But when I saw the sleek and shiny red NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Circolo capsule machine, I thought it could be a great alternative. I actually did not know that this machine was the first capsule system in Australia that could be use to make both hot and cold beverages, and so I agreed to give it a try. It looks great on my kitchen bench - now just need my dream shiny red Kitchenaid to match! ;)

dolce-gusto

The range consists of 6 models, ranging in size and priced from $99 to $229, but I have seen several great specials recently which see them selling for even less. I found the machine really simple to set up and use, with the touch of a button, you are ready to brew a cup of coffee in a matter of seconds. You can adjust the strength of your coffee however you like, although each pod has the recommended level on the packaging. There are 15 flavours to choose from including hot chocolate, chai tea latte, mocha, and even peach iced tea, retailing for $8.49 for a box of sixteen and available from the online store or most supermarkets.

dolce-gusto-2

I made a Cappuccino for my housemate, and because I love my coffee black, I tried the Espresso Ristretto. I really liked the rich and strong flavour of the espresso, tasting like any freshly brewed coffee that you would buy with a nice crema, for a fraction of the price (just over 50c per cup) and always consistent. K said the cappuccino had a slight caramel taste. And as a bonus, clean up couldn’t be simpler! I was also pleased to see that they have a capsule recycling program on their website, to ease the environmental impact of the excess packaging of all those empty coffee pods.

dolce-gusto-3

Of course I couldn’t help but make a little snack to go with my afternoon coffee, one of my favourite things - crostoli. It was always a treat to buy these crispy fried biscuits with a dense sprinkling of icing sugar from the Italian bakery. They are often seen at Italian celebrations such as Easter and Christmas, and I think I might have to start this tradition in my family too!

The biscuit pastry came together easily, I mixed and kneaded it by hand but you could also make it in a food processor. The only way these could be even cuter is to use a fluted pastry wheel for that lovely decorative edge. My only advice is to keep a close eye on the oil temperature and not attempt to cook too many at once because they cook very quickly and it can't be hard to keep an eye on them so they don't overcook. They are just perfect with a coffee!

crostoli-2

These opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nestlé

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

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