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 

The Soup Files, No. 1


Hands down the best things about winter food, I feel, is soup. And alternatively, the best thing summer foods have to offer has got to be salad. But seeing as we are beginning our blog adventure in the colder months, I am going to bring you a series of my favourite tried and tested soups. I will often make a big pot on Sunday afternoons for dinner that night and left-overs for lunches the following days. Most of my soup recipes are large in size. So, especially with this one, if you don’t have a big pot or just cannot stomach that much soup, then halve the recipe.

Very Massive Spicy Tomato Indian Soup

A form of this recipe was originally my Aunty Sue’s, then my Mum used to cook this a lot, and I have cooked it every winter since I was a teenager. I have added a bunch of stuff, so it’s probably not too similar to the original version- but the Indian flavours and chunky sentiment are still there. This soup is super healthy and I often use it as my go-to winter detox. (Obviously the detox version would not involve the garlic bread and red wine as seen in the picture below.) It’s packed with flavour and ridiculously filling so it doesn’t feel too much like diet food. Hope you enjoy.


3 slurps of olive oil
2 red onions, roughly chopped
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 long red chillies, chopped
3 tbs of mustard seeds
3 tsp of cumin powder
3 tsp of garam masala
3 tsp of tumeric powder
3 tsp of coriander powder
3 tsp of curry powder
1 whole cauliflower, chopped into small pieces (50c piece size)
8 very ripe tomatoes (doesn’t really matter what variety), roughly chopped
1 ½ can of 750g 4 bean mix
2 x cans of 800g crushed tomatoes
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped- including stems
natural yoghurt to serve


1.     Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Add chopped cauliflower, one slurp of oil and half of the cumin, garam masala, tumeric and coriander powder. Stir together and then spread out evenly on the tray. On the other tray, add the chopped fresh tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and spread out evenly. Put both trays in the oven, baking until the cauliflower is golden brown and the tomatoes are juicy and losing shape. This will take up to half an hour depending on the oven.
2.     Meanwhile, add the other 2 generous slurps of olive oil to a very large saucepan and heat on medium heat stove-top. Once hot, add the onions, garlic and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring until the onion is clearing, the mustard seeds are popping and the garlic is golden- roughly 10 minutes. Then, add the mixed beans and the remaining cumin, garam masala, tumeric, coriander powder and curry powder and stir for another 5 minutes.
3.     Try one of the beans to make sure they have softened slightly. Then add the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 750ml of the vegetable stock, and most of the coriander bunch, including stems (save some fresh coriander for garnishes). Bring to a simmer.
4.     Check the cauliflower and tomatoes; once they are ready add them to the pot and stir. It is important to taste, season with pepper and salt, and add a touch more curry powder for stronger Indian flavour. The extra stock is to make the soup thinner if you wish. Put the lid on the pot, bring the heat right down and allow to cook for an extra 15 minutes.
5.     Serve with a generous dollop of natural yoghurt, left-over fresh coriander, pepper and salt and garlic bread.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Friends of Mine, Melbourne

Deciding on where to go for Brunch in Melbourne is like trying to decide on a wine for a friend’s dinner party; there is just so much to choose from that you end up going for an old fav or living dangerously and trying something completely new. I am ashamed to admit it but I tend to be a creature of habit... You can never go wrong with a trusty haunt, right?My lovely friend Bridie, alerted me to the fact that this habitual behaviour is “So not Melbourne.” Now as a newcomer to the “Mexican” way of life (living south of the boarder) I was slightly insulted but now determined to win back some respect from the local!In an attempt to kick my old habits, I decided that for our Sunday brunch catch up we should check out a café called Friends of Mine on Swan St, Richmond. Neither of us had been there before (tick). 

Despite the coolish weather, we snapped up a table outside (when there are 20 people behind you in the line, you can’t afford to be picky). From where I was sitting I could peer inside and see the funky exposed brick interior mixed with some old school glam. The freshly faced waiters ran around the café like excited children in a candy shopping delivering plated goodies to salivating customers…by now I was one of them!

I decided on smashed avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms and the optional poached egg on top. Delicious! This perfect Sunday feast was served on chunky wholegrain toast with a generous coating of marinated feta and fresh basil leaves.

After another latte and some more chit chat, I left feeling delightfully full and satisfied that I had experienced a new pocket of Melbourne’s amazing foodie scene. I am definitely going to be returning pronto. I just won’t tell Bridie. J

Monday, 4 June 2012

Chocolate Salami



From my first ever New year’s resolution when I was 8 years old; “I will not spit on anyone this year”, I have relished a good resolution. For the past two years, they have centered around cooking. On the eve of 2010 I resolved that ‘I wanted to become a better cook’. I have always been a decent cook but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn new techniques. I think I executed that resolution with success and my then boyfriend/now husband (who you will learn over future blogs is a ridiculously hard critique) agrees. My most recent annual resolution was to continue the cooking quest, with a particular focus on all things sweet. I have been a majority savory cook, and have felt uncomfortable with the technicality of most things sweet other than biscuits. So, this year I’m learning how to wow with desserts. I will try the ultra technical and the super cheat easy… which is what the following recipe is all about.

Before the Easter long weekend I sat down with my recipe books/magazines of the moment to see just how I could get myself involved in the chocolate festival. My Feast by SBS (Edition 8) magazine gave me the most inspiration. On page 60, I found a quirky ‘Chocolate Salami’ or ‘Salame di cioccolato’ (NB: sounds heaps sexier when you try and say it the Italian way upon serving). Basically, this dessert is like a salami-esque log, which you slice into portions. The picture in Feast, suggests that you consume with coffee, but this screamed best post dinner party excuse for dessert wine ever. The recipe makes two logs to slice up, so you can keep one for more sober moments the following day.

The reason why I seriously recommend this to amateur sweet chefs like myself, is that it was bloody easy! It actually involves no cooking, just some melting, mixing and refrigeration. And it looks super chefy next to a glass of Noble One sticky wine. For a third course to a dinner party, it’s perfect for a mouthful or two. However, my husband, Lex, myself and our guests (hi Sara and Arie!) managed a fair few mouthfuls.

NB: The original recipe has two tablespoons of amaretto, which is optional. I hate the stuff, so I substituted with about Cointreau, which gave it a slightly orange flavor- yum. The coconut in the below version was also not in the original recipe- but I think it really worked and it made it look even more like salami with the little white flecks!


200g dark, good quality eating chocolate, roughly chopped
125g unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbs of Cointreau
200g Nonnas biscuits, roughly chopped (these are a tea-dunking biscuit found at Italian food shops. You Can substitute with a fairly plain Arnott’s shortbread.
icing sugar to dust

1.     Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over boiling water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl). Cool slightly.
2.     Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg and Cointreau, and beat slowly until combined. Stir in chocolate biscuits and toasted coconut and stand for 10 minutes.
3.     Divide mixture between 2 large sheets of baking paper, roll each up tightly, shaping into 4cm x 20cm logs. Twist ends to seal, refrigerate for 8 hours.
4.     To serve, unwrap with generous amounts of icing sugar and thickly slice. Don’t forget the dessert wine or coffee!