Thursday, August 27, 2015
A big hello from Manila! I've been here for a week and practically everything I've eaten has been amazing. I love visiting the local markets anywhere I go travelling - from New York to Penang- and of course the Bondi farmers market is part of my weekend ritual. I love seeing exotic tropical fruits and locally grown vegetables, homemade pickles and preserves and street food cooked fresh in front of your eyes. The last time I visited before I left Sydney, I was excited to find fresh chamomile flowers, and I just knew I wanted to do something tasty and pretty with them.
Most people have tried chamomile tea, but the flowers can also be used fresh or dried and have some pretty incredible health benefits. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and high in anti-oxidants, which make it soothing for burns and cuts, colds and flu, stomach aches and even PMS! It's also great for your skin and hair, and because it is caffeine free, can help you get a good night's sleep.
My newest favourite last minute dessert is Ricotta Doughnuts - did you know you can have fresh homemade doughnuts in less than 20 minutes? They are really very easy. No need to wait for a yeasted dough to rise and they turn out super light and fluffy. I stuck to a classic flavour combination that I knew would be lovely - honey, lemon and chamomile. If you can't find chamomile flowers, this recipe can also work with chamomile tea. And of course, they are best enjoyed with a nice cup of tea!
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Monday, May 18, 2015
This cake is for my dear friend and housemate K. I don't say this lightly - I am seriously lucky to have this amazing lady in my life. I knew we'd be friends when I stepped into the kitchen and saw an amazing book collection and a cupboard full of roughly a dozen kinds of vinegar! She's always ready for some girl talk over dumplings and wine, she's a great travel companion and I (almost) don't even mind that the cat likes her better than me these days.
She doesn't really go for sweet desserts, but she loves all things dairy, so when making her a birthday cake, I thought this triple hit of milk would be perfect. The cake itself is a really nice simple one that is very easy to make. The special part comes in the way of the three milk mixture. Keeping in line with the things that she loves, I used coconut milk as one of the three, along with sweetened condensed milk and regular milk.
I've been much more fussy with cakes lately - I'm much more into pies and puddings just generally - but Tres Leches will always be an exception. I think it's the most delicious, moist cake ever. I love that you can get creative with the milks and flavourings you use, like my crazy Pandan version from a few years ago. I loved the slightly tropical twist that the coconut milk and passionfruit gave this version. If summer fruit is in season where you are, it would also be delicious with mango!
I'm happy to say that K loved her birthday cake, and we shared a piece while watching an especially beautiful sunset from our front window. Can't wait to share many more adventures and many many more glasses of champagne with you K!! xx
Monday, April 13, 2015
But by yesterday I was bored and desperate to bake something (anything!) with ingredients I had in the house because I wasn't feeling up to dragging my sorry self up the hill to the shops. I definitely believe in having sugar, butter and flour in the pantry at all times, because you never know when the baking urge will strike!
I also had a couple of ripe nectarines - the last of the season from the weekend farmers market - and a punnet of fresh raspberries. Somewhere in my cold & flu tablet racked brain, I had an idea for a Peach Melba inspired pie, except using the more subtle white nectarines. A good splash of Chambord (raspberry liqueur) also seemed like a good idea. At the last minute, I picked some fresh thyme from the garden and threw that in too. I love the combination of fruit and herbs.
I could never get sick of pie. I mean how good does that look! I loved the combination of nectarine, raspberry and thyme. The Chambord was a subtle in the background, but I think it helped to bring out the flavour of the fruit. The pastry was perfect. I decided to try a Donna Hay-esque round pastry pattern for the top, which I liked the look of, but it will still look and taste delicious if you can't be bothered. Talk about comfort food, this was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits!
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Sometimes I get an idea stuck in my head, and it loops on repeat like a catchy song. I’ve had a half-baked idea floating around my brain for over a week now. A combination of flavours that I knew was a winner, but I wasn't sure what to do with them. While a cake or pie is usually my default option, this time I decided to make ice blocks instead. A pretty, boozy concoction that is perfect for the last week of summer. And in those other rare quiet brain moments... shake it off shake it off.
The flavours of lychee, raspberry and rose were inspired of course by Pierre Hermé and the famous Ispahan dessert, which is a modern classic. I had experimented with them once before in this fruit salad, which turned out both gorgeous and delicious. I thought that gin would be the perfect accompaniment this time. I used Hendricks, which is my favourite because in addition to the usual gin botanicals, it has also been infused with rose petals and cucumber.
These ice blocks were just perfect. I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately, which may have something to do with eating a few childhood favourite treats like red frog lollies and Crunch chocolate. It's nice to modernise an old favourite with a grown up twist. I loved all of the flavours together. Of course if you are making it for the kiddies, just leave out the booze.
I've been eating fresh berries almost every day this summer, and the raspberries and strawberries have been especially good this year. I feel like summer has flown by yet again, but hopefully the warm weather returns for a little longer for another month (or maybe two!) of beach weather and summer fruit.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
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 ;)
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.
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!
Thursday, November 20, 2014
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
Friday, October 10, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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
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.
Friday, June 27, 2014
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!
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!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Easter definitely snuck up on me this year! Even though the Easter eggs have been in the shops since just days after Christmas, they are quite easy to ignore until the very last minute. I haven't even had a hot cross bun yet, let alone made any long weekend plans!
This year, I couldn't get my mind off all things robins egg blue and speckled after finding some beautiful truffle-filled eggs. I couldn't take my eyes off this gorgeous cake from The Cake Blog, but of course, I wanted to put my own spin on it, and so the Speckled Ice Cream Bombe was born!
I considered a few different flavour combinations including the delicious fresh mint that has since become a firm favourite, but I decided on a Malt no churn ice cream with a few drops of colouring for that gorgeous teal hue, and finely chopped chocolate 'speckles'. The flavour combination is a classic for a reason, it just works so well. Chocolate and malt is a match made in heaven.
I know I've said it before, but this is seriously the easiest ice cream in the world to make, with no fancy ice cream maker required, no custard to make, and no extra egg whites to deal with. With a generous drizzling of a rich chocolate fudge sauce to finish, no one needs to know that your totally stunning Easter dessert was a total breeze to make (although slightly tricky to photograph!)
I think kids and adults would both love this dessert, and imagine how good it would be as the base of a malty milkshake or scooped on top of pancakes for breakfast on Easter morning. You could make smaller individual ice cream bombes in teacups or ramekins - so cute! I'm making myself hungry, it might be time to indulge in a hot cross bun finally!
Just a quick little not to say I hope you all have a safe and happy Easter, and enjoy some good food and time with your family and friends over the long weekend! xx
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!
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I realise that it might be a little bit cruel to be talking about dessert at breakfast time, especially when salted caramel is involved, but I just had to share this recipe with you. I've cooked up some pretty delicious things in recent times but I've gotta say - and this is a big call - this recipe is my new favourite. I'm already looking for another occasion to make it again soon.
It involves beautiful summer fruit (I used peaches but you could try other stone fruit as well), vanilla bean-spiked mascarpone, a homemade oat crumble and a generous amount of salted caramel. It elevates an already beautiful peach to something almost transcendent.
It came about when I was looking for a quick but still impressive dessert to make for a dinner party last weekend. This fit the bill perfectly, and was definitely a crowd pleaser. The flavours just work.
When you get a little of everything on your spoon, it's a party in your mouth between the sweet, creamy, salty and crunchy elements. The oat crumble and caramel sauce can be made well before your guests arrive, and the peaches popped into the oven just before you serve the main course.
As I mentioned earlier, I think it would also be amazing with other stone fruit such as nectarines or plums. It could even work with grilled fruit such as figs, mango or pineapple. Uhh, yum! And in winter a version with pears or apples would be the ultimate comfort food.
You could try a big scoop of ice cream or creme fraiche instead of the mascarpone, and crumbled meringue or praline on top. With room for versatility like that, I think this recipe will become a firm part of my repertoire!