Monday, 27 August 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie


Lemon Meringue Pie is one of those classic desserts that look amazing, taste so fresh and zesty but take a lot of patience to make!

I was inspired to tackle this classic pie after a lovely weekend at my cousin’s house in Canberra. When I first arrived at the house that weekend, my cousin’s Lemon Meringue Pie sat proudly on the kitchen table – meringue all tall and glistening. After a glorious long lunch we all tucked into some the Lemon Meringue Pie and I thought I have to learn how to make this!

This recipe originally comes from a Women’s Weekly classic recipe book. I followed the instructions and made my own sweet short crust pastry from scratch. You can also take a short cut and buy this pre-made. However, there is something quite satisfying about making the pie from scratch or maybe it is only me who thinks that way! Take on the challenge - it is worth the effort.

Home-made or bought sweet shortcrust pastry
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup cornflour
1 cup caster sugar
¾ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
50g unsalted butter, chopped
6 egg yolks

6 eggs whites
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tarter

1) Lightly grease a pie plate. Roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper into a 30cm circle. Remove the top sheet of baking paper and invert the pastry into the pie plate. Trim the edges.*

2) Re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut into three 10 x 2 cm strips. Brush the pie rim with water, place the pastry strips around the top of the pastry rim and use your fingers to make a decorative edge. Prick all over the base with a fork. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to moderate 180 degrees.   

3) Line the pastry with a sheet of baking paper that is large enough to cover the base and side of the pie plate, then pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beads and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the base is dry. Cool. Increase the over to moderately hot 200 degrees.  

4) To make the lemon filling, place the flours, sugar, lemon juice and rind in a saucepan. Gradually add 1¼ cups (315ml) water and whisk over medium heat until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly for another 2 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and vigorously whisk in the butter and egg yolks. Return to low heat and stir constantly for 2 minutes, or until very thick.

5) To make the meringue, beat the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl, with electric beaters, for 10mins or until thick and glossy**

6) Spread the lemon filling into the cooled pastry base, then spread the meringue over the top, piling high in the centre and making peaks with a knife. Bake for 8-10minutes or until lightly browned.

*be careful not to trim to short as the pastry will shrink in the oven.
** Add the sugar gradually to the mix to ensure your meringue has enough body

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Soup Files No. 2

Dear foodie friends,

I have been a bit amiss from my blog writing duties as I have been way too busy consuming food on my honeymoon. My blogs of the future and expanded waistline will surely prove that I have broadened my food loving horizons.

But for now, I hope you are all coping with the rainy Australian winter. Here is the recipe for my Dad's amazing French Onion soup which I grew up eating regularly. It’s great for week night dinners or as an entree to a winter dinner soirée. Serve with white wine!

2kg brown onions, peeled and finely sliced
40g butter
4 cloves garlic
½ cup of pernod or brandy
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 cup water
2-3 tbls worstershire sauce
pink salt flakes and white pepper
4 thick slices of Italian baguette (preferable round buns)
200g gruyere cheese, sliced
parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Melt butter in a large heavy based saucepan over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook slowly for 30 minutes until soft and browned. Add pernod and cook for a further minute, then add stock, water, worstershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook for further 30 minutes, by simmering gently.
Toast baguette, then grill the gruyere cheese on top, while the cheese is grilling serve the soup into 4 bowls and top with the bread, sprinkle with parmesan.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Dream Sponge

Guest Blogger: My Kitchen Rules Semi-Finalist, Emily Cheung. Thanks so much Emily!

This little number is a very special recipe in our family.  It was passed down through the fam on our Mama’s side.  Our Great Gran was always known for her chocolate dream sponge.  She passed it on to our Gran, who then passed it on to our Mama.  Personally, I think our Mum perfected it!  She then passed it on to both Carly and I and we LOVE it and make it regularly.  Whenever Mum asks us what cake we want for our birthdays, all four of us kids still always request mum’s famous chocolate dream sponge.  Deliciously whipped fresh cream sandwiched between two perfectly light and fluffy, chocolatey sponge cakes and all topped with a rich chocolate ganache and coconut shavings.  BLISS!! I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do! Love, Emily x


4 eggs
¾ cup white sugar
½ tsp bi carb soda
1 TBSP (table spoon) cocoa
1 DSP (dessert spoon) golden syrup
½ cup corn flour
2 DSP plain flour
1 tsp nescafe instant coffee


1. pre-heat over to 180 degrees celsius
2. separate the egg whites and beat in electric mixer until stiff
3. gradually add sugar, then yolks
4. fold in syrup, being careful not to stir as you need to retain as much aeration as possible
5. place dry ingredients (cocoa, bi carb, corn flour, plain flour, Nescafe) together and sift three times before folding in to the wet mix
6. bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge is not wobbly in the tins
** you need to use two greased sponge tins (aluminum with straight up & down sides), place half the mixture in each. once baked & cooled, carefully use a butter knife to edge the sponge off the tin
** to serve, whip a small bottle of cream to slap between the two layers & ice with chocolate icing

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Home made Brioche

(Bex, our first guest blogger!)

It’s not very often that you buy something that changes your life. Well my life has changed since I invested in a Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer, my waistline has unfortunately also changed, and it seems to be expanding due to the increased level of baking taking place!

You can literally do anything with a Kitchen Aid (cooking wise), Mr Partridge is now a regular bread maker and fresh pasta has become a weekly event rather than the odd delicious occasion as the Kitchen Aid takes all the hard work out of marking things that require kneading.

My latest discovery is homemade Brioche. I love indulging in a slice of Brioche, but consumption is normally reserved for when I'm out for brunch or happen to pass by a French bakery. Not anymore, I can whizz up a loaf in a little under half an hour prep time. The beauty of Brioche is that you have to be patient, firstly when the butter is added bit by bit, then during both proving occasions and finally having to leave it over night in the fridge before baking fresh the next morning. I'm sure the waiting makes it even more enjoyable!

Here is the best brunch recipe using Brioche that I have come across yet. Beautiful during the winter months, or in the summer substitute the plums for fresh mixed berries, topped with natural yoghurt.

Cinnamon Pain Perdu (that's French toast to you and me) with vanilla poached plums

Serves 4
Prep time 20 mins
cooking time 15 mins

200ml pomegranate juice
1 vanilla pod, split
50g unrefined cast sugar
6 ripe plums
50ml double cream (or using milk is fine if you're watching the calories)
2 brown eggs
8 thick slices of day old brioche
50g unsalted butter
75g unrefined caster sugar mixed with 1tbps ground cinnamon
greek yoghurt to serve

Place the pomegranate juice, vanilla pod and 50g of the sugar in a medium pan and slowly bring to simmering point, allowing the sugar to dissolve
Add the plums and bring back up to a simmer and gently poach for 5 minutes
remove the pan from the heat and allow the plums to cool and stand, preferably overnight
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cream/milk and eggs. Dip the brioche slices into the mixture and soak for 30 seconds on each side. 
Over a medium heat, melt half of the butter in a large nonstick frying pan, gently fry the dipped brioche in batches for 2 minutes on each side, until golden, adding the other half of the butter as needed. Tip the cinnamon sugar on to a plate and toss each cooked pain perdu (french toast) in the cinnamon sugar to coat.
Serve immediately with the poached plums and greek yoghurt. Enjoy!

Recipe from Red Magazine UK, April 2012 edition

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Dip Files, No.1


People collect all sorts of souvenirs when travelling. Some people collect picturesque postcards or paintings. Some collect magnets or even kitsch snow domes! When I set off on my travelling escapades, I decided to collect small bowls – dip bowls. I searched out and bought a bowl from (almost) every country I visited. I would seek out local markets and craft stores in search of the ultimate dip bowl as a way to remember my time in that country. Sometimes I would find absolute gems - like the handmade treasures I found at a small community market outside Lisbon. Then there were times when the over zealous locals would try and convince me that an ashtray was what I needed… Not quite what I was after but I enjoyed the chit chat!   

My quest for the ultimate dip bowls was fueled by my love of making dips – and of course eating them! If the right ingredients are used, they can be a delicious and healthy snack or a simple dish to enjoy with friends. Dips are the ultimate sharing food. I might be a little bias but I find that something special happens when you serve up dip. It is the same feeling when you pop open a bottle of bubbles – the conversation flows, people laugh and tell tales and just enjoy each others company.  

I have a number of recipes that I have tried out on my friends and family and one day (in the not so distant future) I am planning on launching my very own dip range - Watch this space! For now, whilst I find the time to get things off the ground, I am going to share with you some of my dip recipes. I hope you can get as much enjoyment out of making and eating them as I do. The first one for the files is my Roasted Sweet Potato and Cashews nuts. Enjoy with friends!

Roasted Sweet Potato with Cashews

Makes about 2 small bowls

-          1kg Sweet Potato  
-          Good quality olive oil
-          1 clove garlic
-          A handful of herbs (I use fresh herbs from my garden and the last time I made this recipe I used oregano as my basil was looking a little tired)  
-          Handful of cashew nuts
-          Tsp honey (also possible to use golden syrup)  

  1. Preheat over to 180 degrees
  2. Cut Sweet Potato into small pieces and place on a lined baking tray. Coat with olive oil.
  3. Cut the ends off one garlic clove and place in baking tray with Sweet Potato
  4. Place cashew nuts in the corner of baking dish and drizzle with honey
  5. Roast for approx 20-30mins or until the Sweet Potato pieces are cooked through and golden brown (you may want to add cashew nuts after the Sweet Potato is slightly cooked to avoid the cashew nuts burning)
  6. Once roasted, take out of the oven and let ingredients cool
  7. Get the garlic from the tray and squeeze out the cooked garlic pulp, discard the garlic skin.
  8. Put roasted Sweet Potato, roasted cashews, garlic and herbs into a food processor.
  9. Pulse until blended together
  10. Add olive oil gradually whilst the blender is on low speed (quantity of olive oil will be dependent on how smooth you want the dip. I tend to use a small amount which ensures the dip is chunky and less puréed)
  11. Serve with tasty crackers and some bubbles

Note: For a different flavour take, experiment with adding fresh chili, cumin or tahini to the blending process.

Thursday, 14 June 2012



When ‘One’ is in their late 20s, having recently purchased a very old, somewhat falling down house, establishing their own business and with a penchant for clothes shopping (any guesses who?!), ‘One’ cannot afford to take themselves to Est, one of Sydney’s finest (arguably its very finest) restaurant. Luckily, ‘One’ has landed on her feet, with very generous parents who take me there with them.

I had my second visit to Est recently. ‘Foodie Wanker’ is probably the best way to describe someone taking lots of photos on their phone in a divine restaurant rather than just enjoying the experience, but that is the sacrifice I had to make to bring you some pretty average pictures of some absolutely amazing food.

Does anyone else find in fine-dining restaurants, that the entrées and desserts are really the hero meals and the mains are just what happen in between? So here I’ll give you a snapshot of the heroes of the night.

For an entrée I had ‘salad of spanner crab, heart of palm, avocado, pink grapefruit, mint and lemon’. If I could have a triple size of these served for my lunch every day, I would be a happy little lady. Sweet crab, creamy advocado, tart grapefruit! Mmmm I might have to try my own version!

Or maybe I would substitute the above, for one of these in the colder months; A ‘bug’ tail in wilted greens and yummy broth (sorry I do not remember the exact description!).

Then to the true heroes of the night. Ok, I am by no means a ‘dessert first’ kind of person- cheese platter me any day, but these are works of art!

‘mascarpone citrus cannoli, fraises des bois, pink grapefruit sorbet’

‘passionfruit souffle, passionfruit sorbet’; (So amazingly delicate! I doubt I will ever be able to achieve a soufflé!)

Incredible dessert wine and tea that you can literally pick straight from their garden.

How will ‘Heston’s Dinner’ stack up? Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Back to the Country

I grew up in the country and as much as I love the energy and excitement of city living, there is nothing quite like packing the car and heading back home to be with family. Sometimes this is all it takes to reset the buttons. You leave feeling well rested, re-energized and happily a few kilos heavier – How does this always happen?!

Earlier this year, I decided to head back home to Regional, NSW to spend some time with my family and catch up with old friends. On Sunday, we decided to head for what we have fondly named “The hills” to bask in the autumn sun and cook up a campfire feast. Now, “The Hills” is not the reality TV show but rather a stretch of natural ranges officially called, Cocoparra National Park located 25km north east of Griffith, NSW. The Cocoparra range is part of the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri nation and is now occupied by abundant plants and wildlife including parrots, kangaroos and echidnas.

I have been going to Cocoparra since I was a young child. We would go on bush walks through the scenic gullies and search out the waterfalls that we could hear from our campsite. We would cook marshmallows on the campfire and make hot chocolate from the water boiling away in the billycan. It is a place of fond memories of time spent with our grandparents, cousins and our closest family friends. It is also a special place where we would test out our culinary skills because after all everything taste better around a campfire!

I was particularly excited about this day-trip to Cocoparra as Dad had packed his camp oven (which I found out was one of his 21st birthday presents – check out the photo it is amazing) and Mum was planning on whipping up her wicked chilli prawns. We set up camp at the campsite called, Woolshed Flats which is nestled amongst the eroded cliffs of the ranges and cypress pines. We created our little campfire and Mum kicked off the day-long feast with her specialty, Alison’s Chili Prawns! The prawns were marinated that morning and then we cooked them up over the camp stove. Check out the recipe below. The prawns are delicious and super tender with the marinade. Now this is what I call “glamping” (glamourous camping)! 

With a few other foodie indulgences in between, Dad then finished off the feasting with his old fav, Charlie’s Damper! Damper is a camp side staple for us and it is so tasty with butter and honey drizzled over. I have included Dad’s recipe below but feel free to experiment by adding different ingredients. We put a spin on Dad’s damper by adding Granny Smith Apples which we had wrapped in foil and cooked in the hot coals.  

I hope you get as much enjoyment from these recipes as we have over the years! 

Charlie’s Damper

3 Cups Self Raising Flour
1 Cup of Milk (add more or less depending on the consistency of the damper mixture)
2 tbs of butter
Generous pinch of salt
3 Green Apples (We wrapped the apples in foil and cooked them in the hot coals at the base of the camp fire) or you can dice the apples and add to the damper mixture.
Pinch of cinnamon

1.       Combine flour, butter, salt , apple (cooked or raw) and cinnamon. Knead the mixture into a soft dough adding the milk as you go. The dough mixture should be soft and fluffy and not too runny. 
2.       Carefully place the damper mixture into the camp oven and place the camp oven over hot coals.
3.       Cook for 30-40mins. Cooking time is dependent on how hot the coals are.
4.       Once cooked, take the damper from the camp over and break into pieces. Dress with butter and honey, jam or other tasty conserves. Enjoy warm!

Alison’s Chilli Prawns

600g of Frozen or fresh uncooked prawns (green prawns!)  
Splash of white wine
3 tbs of Sweet Chilli sauce
1 tbs Soya sauce
Generous helping of freshly grated ginger, ginger paste or 1 tsp of ginger powder  
Juice from 1 lemon  
Splash of Olive Oil (optional)


1.       If you have defrosted prawns defrost overnight in the fridge. Once defrosted de-tail and de-vein the prawns.
2.       Place Prawns in a bowl and coat with wine, chilli sauce, soya sauce, ginger and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate. Note: Lemon juice should be added at the end of the marinating process so that it does not cook the meat.
3.       Place marinated prawns on a  pre-heated cook top (we used Dad’s fancy camping stove but any BBQ or pan will do).
4.       Cook prawns for 10mins or until just cooked.
5.       Serve on their own or with a delicious salad