Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thinking of the Anzacs: Rosemary & Parmesan scones

We're big supporters of the Anzac tradition in our household. Especially the hubby.
But this year Anzac Day is more than a little bit overshadowed by the Easter Long Weekend.  So today I conceded we would steer away from endless Hot Cross Buns, and add some rosemary to the mix. These really do indulge my savoury baking needs, they are melt in the mouth like puff pastry as you pull them out of the oven. Serve them warm with plenty of butter. 


3 cups self-raising flour ( or 3 cups flour plus 3 teaspoons baking powder)
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tbs chopped rosemary leaves
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
100g cold butter, chopped, plus extra to serve
11/2 cups milk, plus extra to brush
Rosemary sprigs, to garnish


Preheat the oven to 180 celsius.
Combined the sifted flour, salt, chopped rosemary and half a cup of the parmesan into a bowl. Add the butter, and rub the mixture together with your fingertips until you have a coarse crumbly base.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, then use a butter knife to combine, stirring as little as possible.
Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, or a silicon baking sheet if you have one. Place a layer of baking paper over the dough, then roll the dough to 2cm thick.
Use a 6cm cutter to cut out 12 scones. Place on a baking tray lined with the non-stick paper (that you've already used).
Brush the scones with the extra milk, and then decorate with the sprigs of rosemary and the parmesan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Happy Anzac Day for Monday.

Lest we forget.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot cross buns!

A couple of days ago I was ordering my morning coffee after my gym workout and I was starving. Hot cross buns really are my snack of choice in the lead up to Easter, so I asked 'Do you have hot cross buns?' The young American guy serving me looked perplexed, and replied 'no'. Then he smiled, 'what the hell are those anyway?' and then added, 'where I come from buns are arses!'  Everyone in the queue laughed, and we told them that he had to try one, that they are really special.
I have to agree, I really do get quite sad when they are not widely available after Easter. I'm a sucker for the combination of spices and the raisins. I could happily eat them for breakfast, morning tea and afternoon tea every day for these few months. But now I've fixed that as I've learned how to make them myself. And it wasn't nearly as complicated as I thought. Thanks Maria at Scandi Foodie for the inspiration.
Watching yeast do its job still fascinates me - and this recipe was no different, but with the added bonus of a beautiful Eastery scent.

I'm not sure they are my most beautiful baking efforts, but I love them. Making the crosses was the hardest bit by far - I'll perfect that next time!

Perfect breakfast for me.

So from our household, and our friendly visitors, Happy Easter everyone.

And drive safely!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

mini muffins for little hands

Feeding my little girl, who is now 15 months old, is no mean feet. Phases in a toddler's life last about 5 minutes, and then it all changes again. Completely.

She was a very difficult eater when we moved to solids. I picked up lots of books at the library about how to feed a baby naturally. Meaning, organically, the time consuming and hands-on way. Making all purees, and later meals, from scratch. Eating wholefoods as much as possible. Avoiding sugar, preservatives, nasties, and then trying to avoid the other pit falls in bought baby food - they add so much 'stuff' to everything, like natural apple juice is everywhere, even in the savoury products.

She wouldn't have a bar of it. Nada. I couldn't make my puree as smooth and perfect as the bought stuff, and if so much as a tiny lump passed her lips she would retch and vomit everywhere. Not a lot of encouragement for the hard labour involved in making the food for me, so I gave up.  So until she was turning 1 she ate shop bought puree, natural yogurt, and some fruit.  Even mixing fruit and puree was not to be toyed with.  It was frustrating to watch other babies gobble everything their mums put in front of them, but then my mum tells the same story of me, only that I was even more difficult!

Teeth changed our world again, suddenly everything was game. But on her terms. She wanted to be deciding what, how much, how and when. Finger food is everything these days. And we are slowly getting there with a spoon, but it's a slow process. I love seeing her enjoy her food though, and trying new things at the moment is no problem. Especially if it's from my plate.

These mini muffins are for her. Something pretty, that she can pick up and play with, and a more than good enough to eat. I might have shared a few with her too.

This recipe is originally from Australian Women's Weekly - but I have it roughly jotted down in a notebook only.

1 1/2 cups flour - or as I did do half/half wholemeal & plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/3 cup rolled oats
3 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup natural yoghurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
180g fresh or frozen berries of you choice (for frozen, you can use ones straight from the freezer). I used raspberries, but often mix them with blueberries.

Makes 24 mini muffins, or 12 normal size


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Place patties in your muffin tray, or grease tray if preferred.
Sift the flour and combine with the oats. 
Then gently stir in the baking powder, sugar and other wet ingredients (eggs, sugar, yogurt, oil & berries)
Place the mixture into the patties and place in the oven.

Bake for 18-20 minutes (depending on size chosen)
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before tasting!

These also freeze really well.

PS Easter is going to be so much more fun this year. Little girl adores rabbits, and gets totally over excited when we go to the shops that are full of bunnies, bunnies and more bunnies.
This cut out of a rabbit was a great buy at Target - toast is suddenly the best thing EVER. x

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ode to my mum's crumble

When I was growing up in rural England, Sundays were all about family and roast lunch. Mum always tells us that she doesn't enjoy cooking, so the fact that she made us a wonderful spread every Sunday really shows that motherly love. It meant a lot to us - we were all away at boarding school during the week, so Sundays were an important family time.

Sitting in the kitchen beforehand was all part of the ritual, along with peeling, shelling, mixing and stirring. It was here that I learned how to make gravy and roast potatoes. I look forward to teaching my kids about food in the coming years - it really is such an underrated life skill.

The menu normally consisted of a roast of some type or another, along with the legendary crumble. I still get pangs for those Sunday lunches at home, they don't happen often with my family who are now spread all over the world. Crumble is such a perfect homemade food - you don't need to make it look pretty, it's hugely versatile (throw any fruit you like under the crumble topping...) and I think it crosses seasons too. Just serve with cream or creme fraiche in the summer, or warmed custard in the winter. 

I was inspired by the new season pears available in Sydney at the moment - they are so naturally sweet, and cheap to boot! I chose to peel them to keep the pears silky smooth under the crumble.


1kg pears (or any fruit you feel like - apples, plums, rhubarb even strawberries)
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
100g demarara sugar (or other brown sugar)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Peel the fruit and lay it in the bottom of a baking dish.
Place the flour, baking powder, butter and demarara sugar in a food processor and whizz until mixed, but before the crumble becomes completely smooth. The lumps of butter within the mixture give it its crumbly texture!
This can also be done by hand - just mix the ingredients between your thumb and forefinger until there are no large lumps left.
Place in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden.

Serves 4

Some other variations to try out:

Add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the crumble mixture - works especially well with apples.
Joy the baker inspired me to dabble with a tropical version with strawberries and pineapples - see her blog
Sprinkle a tablespoon of oats over the crumble topping before it goes in the oven.
Try it cold - I love eating it the following day on its own, especially when it's rhubarb!

I have also filled up my freezer with a few individual serves - perfect for those homesick days.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mushroom-inspired simple lunch

I got home from the beach absolutely starving, and opened the fridge to a large handful of one of my favourite fast foods: mushrooms!

They truly are so versatile, and carry flavours really well. I try to cook them for just a few minutes - it leaves that chewiness in the mushrooms that I find so appealing.

Today's version is with butter, garlic olive oil, lemon & parsley, sitting on soy and linseed bread, accompanied by a parmesan & rocket salad.

Bliss in less than 10 minutes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New camera excitement plus Eggplant/Aubergine Parmigiana

I finally jumped in and invested in a new camera. My point and shoot had disappointed me for a while, and I was becoming more and more aware of what else was out there. Despite working in creative industries for my whole career, I never really felt that I could do a 'worthy' job behind the camera. I sat through countless pre-shoot meetings, and then days of shoots and played a large role in the selection of final shots afterwards.

Through blogging, and reading a lot of blogs, I've changed my mind about what I can do and what I would like to be able to do. Some of the greatest inspiration has been from What Katie Ate - I love her story, working as a graphic designer until two years ago, and then deciding that there was something else that she might be better at. Katie Quinn Davies spent months getting up each day to shoot and style food, producing a large portfolio for her new chosen career. Her blog is just a by product, but has also brought her many fans, and some huge photographic jobs for Martha Stewart. Wow, love that she has reached the top of her field so quickly, and that she's from Sydney.

Others that make me want to cook and produce beautiful things are Cannelle et Vanille, Scandi Foodie, La Buena Vida,  and Heidi's Apples under my bed. And for people photography, and more specifically kids, Rummey Bears.  Anna shoots the most beautiful pictures of her daughter.

I chose the Nikon D3100. It's an entry level DSLR, but one that gets rave reviews for its features. Hopefully it will suit me well.

So now the pressure's really on. With a bit of trial and error, the photos being produced for Heavenly Ingredients in the coming weeks. Wish me luck!

Tonight I baked one of my favourites, Eggplant/Aubergine Parmigiana. I love eggplant season here - and I love how substantial and filling they are for healthy veg.

This recipe is adapted from Sophie Dahl's Voluptuous Delights.


3 medium eggplants
Sea salt
50ml olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 x cans tomatoes (400g)
1 Tbs soft brown sugar
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
50g fresh torn basil
300g buffalo mozzarella or ricotta ( I used ricotta)
100g parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 200.
Slice the eggplant lengthways (roughly 1cm thick). Lay them out on baking paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave to sweat for 20 minutes.

Add the olive oil to a heavy based pan and add the onion and garlic. Keep on a low heat until softened, then add the tomatoes and brown sugar. Season as required with salt and pepper, and add the balsamic vinegar (if to your taste).  Allow to thicken for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, bake the eggplant for 15 minutes on baking tray in a single layer for 15 minutes, or until they start to turn golden.

Line a large baking dish with baking paper and arrange the first layer of eggplant then place mozzarella/ricotta, basil and tomato on top. Continue this pattern until all the ingredients are used up. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Layering the tomato sauce, ricotta & basil

Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese has a touch of colour, and the eggplant is soft.
Serve with a green salad.

Bon Appétit!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monday night dinner- Ginger & Sesame poached chicken

I love this dish. It is a total one-pot wonder, and has become one of our standby meals for weekdays. And generally, I have all the ingredients for it in my kitchen already.

Need I say more? The cooking mags would probably call this a Monday night meal. Let's go with that.

This is originally from a Bill Granger recipe - he has introduced me to a wonderful range of Asian and Japanese flavours. I've now got condiments like miso and sake in my cupboard, along with peanut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and birds eye chillis growing in my garden. Probably nothing stand out to many cooks, but something I would not have expected for me.

The method seems a little exact and complicated when I first made the dish, but is very obvious second time around. The rice is always perfectly cooked in this recipe, something that is not true of all the rice coming out of my kitchen. It's also fragrant with ginger and so moorish.  Enjoy!

1 Tbs peanut oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
200g jasmine/basmati rice
400ml chicken stock
250g chicken breast (roughly 1 breast)
Handful sliced spring onions
1 chopped red chilli
Soy sauce


Warm the peanut oil and sesame oil over a low-medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or so, until soft. Then add the garlic and ginger for 2 minutes.
Softening the onion

Pour in the rice, and cover evenly in the oil. Mix in the stock and bring to the boil. Then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Rice simmering in the stock

Then delicately place the chicken on top of the rice, cover again and leave to simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Try not to check the chicken too often as you will let the heat out of the pan.

Set aside for a further 5 minutes (off the heat).

Serve sprinkled with spring onion, chilli and a drizzle of soy sauce along with the green veggies of your choice.