Wednesday, December 24, 2014
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.
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.
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
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
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!
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?
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!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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.
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!
Friday, April 11, 2014
Happy Friday! I'm thankful for a great week filled with work, but also some laughs, good food and exciting opportunities. There is the slightest chill in the air and with daylight savings ending, it's starting to feel like autumn is truly setting in. Truth be told, autumn might just be my favourite season in Sydney. Since I generally make these lists of the things I'm loving about once every season, I thought the timing was right for the Autumn edition. Here we go...
• fairy floss clouds • epic french toast at Three Williams • getting ready to launch my new business Lulu & Bee - stay tuned! • beach picnics with champagne at sunset • pickles • facing my fear of dinosaurs • polkadot tights • exciting opportunities • oh, Daisy! • missing Malaysia, especially Penang • cooking dinner with my housemate • strawberry and gin punch • Karen & Shaun's beautiful wedding • and the invitation suite I designed for them • homemade pulled pork sandwiches • finishing my web development course • fabulous new maxi dresses • working with my sister • shooting cocktails at The Rook and The Winery • purple glitter manicure • rewatching Buffy • cuddles • late night flower arranging • Beth's 21st party • a slight chill in the autumn air
This galette straddles the line between summer and autumn, which makes it just perfect for this time of the year. It is the kind of dessert that looks impressive even though it was a breeze to make, shows off seasonal produce and has a stunning combination of flavours.
The thyme may seem like a slightly unusual addition, but I can assure you it is what makes this dessert special. It ties the sweet plums and tart berries together beautifully. With a big scoop of vanilla ice cream (or even ginger ice cream, which I have been making on and off for the past few years) on top, I can't imagine a more perfect dessert for right now. Make it this weekend!
Monday, March 24, 2014
One evening, my Nanna came over for dinner and brought with her a whole plate of beautiful fresh figs, grown on her own backyard tree. It was absolutely the best kind of gift that ever! I think I even did a little happy dance.
While I was a little tempted to just eat them all, I knew that I wanted to create some kind of wonderful dessert to share with fellow fig-lovers here on the blog. But inspiration wasn't forthcoming and I kept going back to a suggestion that an Instagram friend Thahn had made (a little while ago now)... Fig and Almond Tart.
Out of all the social media networks, Instagram is my favourite. They say a picture is worth, well, way more than 140 characters! I am inspired constantly by the talented individuals that I follow, from bloggers to chefs to photographers and designers of all kinds. I love the glimpses into their lives, sneak peeks of their projects, snaps of their breakfasts and pets. I have a rather irrational hatred of hashtags, but that's another story.
But back to the tart. It's the perfect thing to bake and eat at this time of year, for afternoon tea with a big mug of hot tea. It's a simple dessert, but these figs were absolutely beautiful and it was a great way to show them off.
The slightly sweet frangipane mixture puffed up around them as it baked to hold them in a buttery hug, while the figs took on a sweet jammy texture. It was wonderful, and is now my Mum's new favourite dessert. Apart from a scattering of icing sugar, I served it plain, but a dollop of mascarpone, double cream or ice cream would be perfect too.
Who are your favourite people to follow on Instagram?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Do you make a menu plan for your weekly dinners, or wing it every night depending on what you feel like eating?
I'll definitely admit to some
Food waste is a huge problem these days with Aussie households throwing away $8 billion worth of food every year. That number is incredibly alarming, but could be so easily turned around if we all shopped a little more thoughtfully and made better use of our leftovers. And it will save you money too! Because I find that herbs are the one thing I find myself throwing out most often, I've put together some tips for how to store them, use them and preserve them below.
1. Store them properly. The first step to maximising the life of your fresh herbs is storing them properly to avoid prematurely wilted leaves, and it can differ between the kinds of herbs. This article from Taste has some great tips.
2. Make pesto. Any leafy green herbs you have lying around will work including basil, parsley, coriander, mint and even spinach, kale and rocket leaves. Whiz in the food processor with some olive oil, pine nuts (or almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds - experiment with it), parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Serve with pasta or freeze for later.
3. Make herb butter. I absolutely love this idea! Soften some salted butter and mix in almost any kind of chopped herbs (or a mixture). This is a delicious and practical way to extend their life by a few weeks.
4. Add to a drink. Parsley and mint are delicious and good for you in green smoothies and juices. A few basil or mint leaves in some iced water is wonderfully refreshing, and you can get really creative with herbs in cocktails and cordials. Basil and berry mojitos, a coriander mule, rosemary simple syrup or the classic mint julep, just to name a few.
5. Freeze them in olive oil. This is a great little tip from The Kitchn that prevents them from turning brown in the freezer and infuses the oil with a great flavour that will carry through into your cooking. Note: this works best with 'hard herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano.
6. Dry them. Almost all herbs can be dried for use later. This article has lots of great tips and step by step photos of several ways to dry herbs - from in the sunshine to in the oven.
7. Grow your own. If you have some space in your garden or on your balcony, consider planting a few of the herbs you like to cook with. Most grow really well in pots, and when you only cut what you are about to use, you'll have fresh herbs all the time and no waste. If you grow coriander, you can also use the seeds in cooking, they're lovely lightly toasted in a pan and added to soups and stocks or pounded in a mortar and pestle and added to curries.
I had an enormous bunch of silverbeet (99c!) plus a few half bunches of herbs and some rocket in the fridge when I stumbled across this recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks, Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. This kind of recipe is very 'forgiving' and you can easily substitute some of the greens, herbs and even cheeses for whatever you have available. In keeping with the theme of not wasting food, I also loved that the recipe used both the leaves and the stems of the spinach, which gave it a really interesting flavour and more hearty texture.
After years and years of hating ricotta, I think I can safely say I'm now a fan, and it goes so well with spinach and pastry, as most people have known forever. This pie reminded me of a cross between a Turkish burek and a Green spanakopita - both things I now love!!
Here are a few ways to mix it up...
- My Dad thinks it would have been nice with some meat in the pie - either chicken or pork mince that can be fried with the onions before moving on with the recipe as below.
- Try kale or swiss chard instead of spinach
- Experiment with different herbs, depending on what you have left in the fridge. Dill or coriander would also work wonderfully.
- Add some toasted pine nuts for a little bit of crunch
- You could try using a good quality butter puff pastry instead of the filo
- It's perfect the next day for lunch, or on a picnic, and delicious served at room temperature
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
This post is sponsored by Nuffnang
My mum has a huge recipe archive. But unfortunately it has got to be one of the least organised collections in history. I remember poring over it as a kid, in the days before food blogs, Pinterest boards and dedicated recipe websites, going through hundreds of scraps of paper, magazine cutouts, handwritten notes and carefully saved labels from cans and boxes - in no particular order. Quite painful if you were looking for one particular thing!
How things have changed! We are now completely spoiled when it comes to sourcing quality (and most importantly reliable) recipes online. Over the years, some of my favourite recipes have come from chefs, like this Chocolate Tart from Matt Moran, which is why I have been using Goodfood.com.au for the last few months. The online arm of Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food, it features recipes suited to all skill levels from some of Australia’s top chefs like Frank Camorra and Neil Perry, plus news, restaurant reviews, drink guides, helpful recipe collections and also great photography.
Choosing a recipe to review was fun. I wanted something sweet that I could share with some friends for my birthday weekend, but that wasn’t a cake! Coupled with the fact that I just booked flights to New York for mid-July (!!) this American-inspired Pumpkin Pie from Jeremy and Jane Strode seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
I used Careme Vanilla Bean Shortcrust pastry, because with my busy weekend of birthday festivities I didn’t have time to make pastry from scratch as I normally would. But unfortunately I found that it shrunk in the oven and didn’t blind bake properly. Next time I would use this recipe that I know works wonderfully!
As for the pie filling, I stayed very close to the recipe as it was written, only adding a little extra pumpkin puree (my 1.4kg piece of pumpkin made about 350g of puree), plus a little bit of cinnamon and vanilla. The filling was quite rich and eggy, and could maybe have stayed in the oven for a just a few minutes longer. I loved the idea of using caramelised pepitas for a crunchy topping, and it turned out wonderfully. I think it would be delicious served with a cinnamon or even caramel ice cream.
To find a drink match, I read this article about Fortified Wines and chose a Patina Wines Old Tawny Liqueur from Orange in NSW. A stunning match, with rich raisin and toffee flavours that complemented the spices in the pie and the caramelised pepitas on top. Delicious!
I also have five prizes to give away to five lucky readers. Winners will have the choice of these three different guidebooks from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald:
- Good Food Under $30 (Sydney edition)
- Good Food Under $30 (Melbourne edition)
- Good Wine Guide 2013
Just leave a comment below answering the question, ‘Which recipe would you love to try from Goodfood.com.au?’ and nominate which guide book you’d love to win!
Entries close Monday 8th July at 5pm. For full terms & conditions please click here. Good luck!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Change is in the air. Last week was our first taste of autumn with my favourite kind of crisp mornings, sunny warm days and slightly cooler evenings. I've always thought that Sydney does the change of seasons really well. In the past I've always had great bursts of inspiration around spring, but I must have been too busy to notice last year because it's all happening right now. Better delayed than never! I get the feeling that 25 is going to be an interesting year.
But let's talk about this pie for a second. There's a chocolate pastry crust, a salted toffee caramel with just a hint of passionfruit, slices of banana that have been cooked in brown sugar, and on top some whipped cream and a mountain of chocolate shavings. It's Banoffee with a twist, and looks like the sort of decadent concoction that Miss Candy herself would think up. And boy, is it good!
Of course Easter is this coming weekend and this is a perfect choice for dessert. The pie crust and caramel can be made in advance, so putting it together on the day is a breeze. When making your caramel, watch the colour closely as it uses passionfruit juice rather than water and it's a little harder to tell when it's ready.
I hope you all have a lovely long weekend! If you're looking for any other Easter inspired recipes both savoury or sweet, head right over here.
Monday, January 14, 2013
And just like that, we are almost halfway through January, and halfway through summer too. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I can’t get enough summer stone fruit! As much as I love yellow peaches, nectarines and plums, I had never given much thought to baking with white peaches before. But I love their light, floral taste and they are in season right now.
Over the weekend I wanted to experiment with a new tart crust recipe, based on Matt Moran's chocolate pastry that has never failed me. I hate it when pastry shrinks in the oven, but this recipe uses eggs to bind it together instead of water and eliminates that, so I wanted to see if a plain sweet version would work based on the same method. I'm happy to report that it did, and while its not as delicate and buttery as some other pastry recipes, it seems to be a little more reliable, easy to roll out, and it freezes really well too (this recipe made enough for two large tarts and a few smaller ones).
And so with the tart crust a success, I needed a delicious filling to go inside! Inspired by a beautiful dessert that my friend Karen made last summer, I decided to use hazelnuts, Frangelico and lots of vanilla in the frangipane mixture (because I had run out of almonds, oops) and it was so lovely.
And on top, some of the beautiful white peaches I had bought a few days earlier, cooked gently in a syrup made from dessert wine, honey and vanilla bean, just perfect. I used a lovely Cane Cut Semillon from Vasse Felix that has been one of my favourites since our lunch at the vineyard a few years ago that was a lovely match for the peaches. And if stone fruit isn't in season where you live, I think this would also be beautiful with apples or pears!
It was so nice to be pottering around in the kitchen again after all the craziness in the last few weeks. I'm so inspired by all the great produce around at the moment so I can't wait to share some more summery recipes with you before the season is over! But it has me curious, what is your favourite summer fruit? xx
Sunday, November 4, 2012
I have had Greek food on the brain a lot lately, not least of all because one of our brand new venues at work is a heritage pub in Newtown downstairs and a Greek restaurant called The Animal upstairs. With all the menu revisions making me very very hungry, I was very much looking forward to going and checking it out.
Happily, the doors swung open about 2 weeks ago and things are going great guns. The decor is awesome and so is the food, although I have only sampled a very small portion of the menu so far. I am looking forward to going back with a big group of friends so with our stomachs combined we can try a whole lot more of the dishes - so stay tuned!
I have shared one recipe for baklava on this blog, a few years ago now, but I've always really loved the dessert and thought I'd make a slightly different version this time. Chocolate, cacao nibs, pistachios, walnuts, cinnamon, honey and crispy filo is a combination that I knew would be great so I set to work chopping, mixing, brushing and rolling these little baklava "fingers" - individual servings of sweet and sticky deliciousness.
There are so many ways that you could adapt this recipe. Add some orange zest to the filling or the honey syrup, try a different combination of nuts, use chopped dark chocolate instead of the cacao nibs, accompany the baklava, with fresh figs or pomegranate arils instead of the raspberries I have used, or serve with a slick of salted caramel sauce like they do at The Animal, or a scoop of ice cream while they're still warm. Yum!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
This post is sponsored by Nuffnang
I used to think of myself as a strictly coffee-only kind of girl, but in the last few years that has definitely changed. Green tea in the morning, Earl Grey in the afternoon and Peppermint at night – but one thing that doesn’t change is that I love my tea hot, sweet and super strong. Which is why I was excited to try Twinings’ new blend, Assam Bold, originating from the region of the same name in India’s north-east.
The part that piqued my interest is that this is the strongest Twinings blend ever in Australia. It was nice to take the time to share a cup of tea with my Mum, something that we don’t get to do very often! I really liked the rich, strong, malty, biscuity flavour, and it didn’t have even a hint of bitterness that other black teas sometimes get when you brew them for a strong cup. I had mine with a little sugar, she had a little milk.
Of course I had to make a little tea-inspired dessert to go with it. I made a slight twist on the Caramel Date Tart from Etch, a restaurant which sadly closed its doors recently. I had this for a dessert on my birthday a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I steeped the dates in Assam Bold tea instead of Earl Grey, which meant it was a perfect match, carrying the flavours through wonderfully.
The caramel layer was smooth and creamy, and I was surprised to find that it was actually very easy to make. For afternoon tea I served it plain, but if you were making it for a dessert, a big scoop of ice cream and a little caramel sauce with the tart would be lovely.
I also have one Twinings tea chest to give away for one lucky reader so you can try out Assam Bold for yourself! To enter, leave a comment and tell me what is your favourite sweet treat to eat with a cup of tea. The competition is open until 5pm Friday 19th October, and the winner will be notified by email, so sorry but no anonymous comments will be eligible. For full Terms & Conditions, please click here.
This competition is now closed.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I look forward to cherry season every year. It's a short but sweet couple of months where I quite literally gorge on them at every opportunity. Our cherry season is still quite a way off, but the imported cherries from the USA have been delicious, abundant and downright cheap this year, and I couldn't help but turn a few into a lovely pie. I know they have travelled an awfully long way and I should be cooking seasonally, but this cherry addict kinda doesn't care. I also tried blushing pink Rainier cherries for the first time this year and loved their sweet flavour, although they didn't make it into the pie as
It was actually a stunning winter's day on Sunday when I made these pies, warmer outside than in the house so we opened up the windows and let that almost-warm breeze flow through. A nice reminder that spring is on its way. My thought process while I was rolling out the pastry went a little like this...
Is 11am too early for Pimm's? It's perfect weather for it. I should make another recipe with Pimm's one of these days. Those Pimm's and Pomegranate Macarons we had in Melbourne were amazing. My kitchen is covered in cherry juice, it looks like a crime scene. Really must buy a cherry pitter. I wonder if Pimm's would go with cherries. I could muddle a few in a glass... I could put Pimm's in the pie filling!! DING DING!!
Unfortunately the taste ended up being quite subtle for this Pimm's fan, so I've amended the recipe below to hopefully give a stronger Pimm's taste in the finished product. But Pimm's or no Pimms, the pies are delicious warm or cold with a big scoop of ice cream on top. I wish I had some chocolate coated popping candy to sprinkle on top like the one at Gazebo!
Have a lovely week everyone! xo
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I'm smiling as I write this post, thinking about what a great time I had in Perth over the Easter long weekend. The weather was just stunning, the mood was relaxed (yay holidays!) and I got to hang out with my very favourite person. It doesn't get much better than that. On Easter Sunday we hosted a nice casual lunch with the best roast pork I've made to date (mmmm crackling), heaps of sides and this Salted Caramel Cheesecake for dessert.
Yes I'm sharing this recipe a little after the fact, but it was so delicious I couldn't let it sit another week on my hard drive. I had been wanting to make this Salted Caramel Cheesecake ever since it graced the cover of the 2011 Entertaining Issue of Donna Hay.
I have a love/hate relationship with Donna's recipes these days, sometimes they work flawlessly - like this one, happily - but I've also had my fair share of utter disasters where I can't figure out if I did something wrong, or if the recipe wasn't properly tested before it was published. Those disasters often end up in the bin and not on the blog! So past frustrations aside, I gave this recipe a crack, sticking to the instructions exactly. Well, almost exactly... I couldn’t help adding a glug of bourbon to the caramel sauce.
I am usually a bit iffy about ricotta as a general rule, but I loved the texture of this cheesecake. It was rich but not sickly sweet thanks to the addition of sour cream to the topping. This is definitely a recipe I’ll be pulling out again for the next special occasion!
And here’s a gif, just because.