Thursday, October 28, 2010

Treat please! - Halloween Rocky Road

With our new Etsy shop I'm getting really inspired by up and coming holidays and events. One of them being, of course, Halloween. Some of us celebrate it in Australia and some of us don't. I remember last year making up these cute little lolly bags for little trick or treaters.....and darn it, nobody came! but seeing all the amazing imagery and colours on Etsy it really got me thinking. So here's my version of a Rocky Road - Halloween style.

In my mind the apricots represent pumpkins, while the other elements - toasted coconut and choc coated sultanas.....well, I'll let your imagination run wild with those ones. I've brought it all together with some dark chocolate and biscuits. I'm sure it doesn't even have to be Halloween to enjoy these treats!

dark cooking chocolate, melted
Turkish apricots, kept whole
choc coated sultanas (or you can use choc coated nuts if there are no allergies)
Shredded coconut, toasted (either in the oven or under the grill but keep an eye on it as it turns very fast)
Savoiardi sponge finger biscuits, chopped into 7 or 8 pieces each

How to make your Halloween Rocky Road

We are on holidays at the moment so I am away from my usual kitchen. I didn't use scales or any cup measurements. I kinda just used the force. This recipe is pretty simple though. Just grab the tin you would like to use (something with highish sides) line it with baking paper and go for it.
Throw in some pieces of biscuit, some choc sultanas, a few apricots and some toasted coconut. Melt your dark choc and pour it over the mix. No need to stir, it should ooze into the crevices! Now top with a few extra apricots, choc coated sultanas and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Pop it in the fridge to let it all set. (I used a loaf tin. We went down to the beach for half an hour or so and it was ready by the time we got back)) Chop it up into chunks and serve. If making the night before, just make sure to keep it well covered with cling film in the fridge otherwise the biscuits will dry out.

You could wrap pieces up in some greaseproof paper or a cute cellophane bag and tie with an orange and black grosgrain ribbon. Trick or treat anyone?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a little bowl of sage and sunshine - warm spring salad

Wehave an abundance of Sage in the garden at the moment. It looks so beautiful and healthy. I thought about using some of it in a traditional stuffing or baking it with some pork and apples or I wonder if an apple and sage tart tatin would work? and then I thought about a very humble Italian pasta with sage leaves and butter......

At the market I just couldn't take my eyes of the asparagus! They are soooo cheap at the moment and so.... perfect looking. I LOVE risoni (as you can probably tell by now)and I'm a big fan of, well a lot of things! but cheese, mushrooms and broccolini seemed like a perfect match....

I threw it all together for a delicious and quick meal. enjoy!


1 cup risoni, cooked (or you could use any pasta you like)
50g salted butter (to start and another 20-30g if you think it needs it)
300 - 350g mushrooms, sliced into smallish pieces
1 bunch broccolini, kept whole, blanched
2 bunches asparagus, cut in half, blanched
sage leaves (a small handfull)
freshly grinded black pepper
lemon juice
peccorino cheese, shaved into ribbons

how to make your warm spring salad

Get your pot of water on to boil. (If you are going to blanch your brocolini and asparagus you can do that when the water starts boiling, otherwise you can microwave them and set them aside) When boiling add a pinch of salt and 1 cup of risoni. Now you've got 8 minutes to cook everything else.

Grab a large frypan and place over highest heat with the butter. When the butter is really going nutty and has all melted throw in your sage leaves. Let them sizzle for a minute while giving them a stir. Now throw in the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and toss them around. (add more butter if you think it needs it) When they are cooked through, add your vegies, the well-drained risoni, lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper. Toss through and take off the heat. Pop it all into a large salad bowl if serving as a side dish or plate up individual bowls. Serve with beautiful large strips of pecorino cheese and extra grindings of black pepper and a wedge of lemon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm still in a European state of mind - yoghurt, honey and thyme cakes

This is my fool proof muffin mix used a different way once again. This combination has been done before,I'm sure of it, I know it! but I've never had it. Sweet things and herbs - together - just sound so exotic to me! So I really just wanted to have a little play around with the flavour combination to see what happened. The result? 1 very chuffed cook, 1 happy husband, 2 happy ankle biters and 1 happy Mother-in-law! I hope you enjoy them too!

I've made this mix even easier so all you have to do is weigh the ingredients as you go. Just don't forget to zero it after each addition!


220g self raising flour
80g caster sugar

75g olive oil
125g greek style yoghurt
70g milk
1 x 56g egg
30g - 40g of your favourite honey (I've used the lavender honey by Bees in Bowties again. I know - I am in LOVE!)
approx a teaspoon of fresh thyme (leaves only and keep some aside to put on top)

how to make your yoghurt, honey and thyme cakes

Pre heat your oven to 180C and line your 12 hole muffin tin with cases or spray with an oil spray.

With a spoon mix together the flour and the sugar in a bowl. set aside.

In a jug whisk together the olive oil, yoghurt, milk and the egg very lightly. Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk gently until all just combined. Add the honey and the thyme and stir through gently.

Spoon a good dessert spoon full into each hole in the tray until you have used up all your mix. Place the remaining leaves on the top of each cake. No need to press them in, they'll do their thang. Place in the oven for 18 - 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack before serving.

I have to say we even had these with a cup of tea the next day for a quick and yummy breakfast......mmmmm

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fetta and Silverbeet Banitsa

This is one of my all time favourite snacks. I hadn't made it in absolutely ages. It's one of those treats I make when the weather gets a little warmer. You do need to use the oven but I always let the banitsa cool down first before devouring PLUS it's best eaten outside (so the ducks can eat the crumbs!!)

You can add silverbeat to the cheese or just enjoy a simple fetta banitsa.Share it with friends over some beer or a sweet white wine. It's something I grew up with and always reminds me of home. You could even throw some fennel seeds and salt flakes and ground pepper over the top before baking or you can always mix some fresh ricotta with the fetta for a change. Have a play around!


1 pack antoniou filo pastry (from the fridge aisle in the supermarket)
400g south cape greek style fetta cheese
150g butter, melted
bunch of silverbeet, blanched and then squeezed dry (if using)

how to make your banitsa

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and grab 2 x cake tins or 1 large one. Line your work benches with some baking paper (large enough to lay the sheets of filo pastry out flat).
Melt your butter in the microwave in a microwave safe dish (for about 30 secs) set aside.
Grate your feta cheese. I buy the 200g packs so I usually grate one pack per banitsa, so I know the same amount of cheese is in each one. If using silverbeet, have it all ready to go. (sometimes I make one using silverbeet and cheese and the other just cheese but you could make both just with the cheese - it's totally up to you)
Now, take out your filo pastry from the box and lay it out on one of the sheets of baking paper. Bring one sheet of pastry over to the other sheet of baking paper and lay it down. Drizzle an even layer of the melted butter. Grab another sheet of pastry and lay it over the top of the piece you just drizzled butter over. Drizzle some more butter. Grab another sheet and lay it over the top. You should now have 3 sheets on top of each other. Now grab some fetta cheese and make a line lengthways, a mini mountain you could say. Roll it up lengthways and then twist into a snail. This will be the heart of your banitsa (and the yummiest, meltiest part!) Continue on with the other sheets except instead of making into snails you will place the rolled up filo around the heart. (See pic if unsure)until your tin is full. Then, it's on to making your other banitsa.
When finished scatter some fetta cheese over the top of each banitsa and throw in the oven. Bake at 180C for 30 mins until crispy and lightly browned.

Please be careful when it comes out of the oven, the filling will be very,very hot. Let it cool but don't worry the cheese retains it's yummy gooiness. yum yum!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Gruffalo likes Sweet Potato, Banana and Honey Slice!

Sounds weird but tastes delicious, I promise.

"Bake your Cake and eat it too" by Tamara Milstein was the very first cookbook I bought myself. It was all about cakes (what else!) If you see it around I definately reccomend it. It might look a little ancient as the book is broken up into regions, for example: The cakes of Europe; The cakes of Asia Pacific and so on. But there is so much to learn and gain with this book; so many techniques, so many different flavours - I myself have made the Vietnamese Mango cake, the Greek coconut and fig cake and the Indian carrot cake, to name just a few. One of my favourites from this book was a 'Sweet Potato Date Cake' (from the Middle East secton of course) I'd been thinking about that cake eversince I made the Sweet potato, chickpea and risoni salad; but I wanted to make it mine. So I ditched the dates, the walnuts, the nutmeg and the cinnamon, decided it would become a slice, adjusted the butter, sugar and flour and added some ripe banana and a wonderful Lavender honey. The result? Something that the little ones love (and my love affair with sweet potato continues...)


1 large sweet potato, after you have peeled it you will need 300g, cubed
100g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
90g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g Self raising flour
1 mashed banana
1-2 tablespoons honey (or approx 30g - I used lavender honey by Bees in Bowties)

how to make your Sweet Potato, Banana and Honey Slice

First of all, peel your sweet potato and chop into bite size pieces. When you have 300g, pop it into a microwaveable container with 1/2 cup of water, cover loosely and microwave for 5 mins. Check that they are all cooked through. Drain off the water, mash with a fork and set aside to cool. At least 20 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a slice tin with some baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer then add the sweet potato. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the flour, the mashed banana and the honey. Mix through with a spoon then pop into your tin, levelling the mix. Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool slightly, dust wth some icing sugar and cut into slices. Makes approx 18 squares. Yum!

If you wanted to go totally crazy (and why not!) you could top the slice with a cream cheese frosting. 500g cream cheese, softened; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 3 1/3 cups (500g) icing sugar - beat cream cheese using electric beaters until smooth. Add vanilla and beat well. Gradually add icing sugar, beating until smooth and creamy. Spoon onto slice and serve. If there were no allergies you could even sprinkle over some toasted walnuts.

Thank you Katrina for the tix to The Gruffalo show and a big HI to the girls in my mothers group who read my blog