Monday, June 3, 2013

Felt Berry Cake

I haven't been here lately as the flu knocked me down. Just when I thought I had that sucker beat it came back and kicked me again. To fill my days I've been making felt food for an exhibition. You can read about this cake

 over on my other blog.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Johnny Walker Brownies

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing - probably but who cares?
Either Brownies or kitchen gadgets fall into the never enough catergory. My darling daughter bought me a brownie pan for Mother's Day. She knows me so well.
If you need a reason for more of a good thing then the answer to that is my latest attempt at the Perfect Brownie.

Johnny Walker Brownies

125 grams dark chocolate
200 grams butter
125 mls Johnny Walker whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup Self Raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 beaten eggs

Melt the chocolate, butter, whiskey, vanilla, cinnamon and sugars together in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water) until the chocolate and butter is just melted. Stir well and remove from the pot and allow it too cool. It should still feel a little warm to touch but not hot enough to cook the eggs when you add them.

Sift the two flours and the cocoa together and stir into the chocolate/butter mixture with the two eggs.
Mix well and then pour into a lined baking tray like this one.

 Insert the dividers and cook for 50 minutes at 150° C.
Cool in the pan.
As soon as I took the brownie out of the oven I added a chocolate button to each piece. They melt but still hold their shape enough to look great.

Obviously you can have too much of a good thing but chocolate brownies are worth it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chocolate, Cheesecake and Raspberry Brownies

 What's better than a chocolate brownie? A chocolate brownie with lumps of cream cheese and raspberries of course.

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 50 g melted dark chocolate
  • 40g cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup baileys
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

·        Preparation method
·        Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 40 minutes

·        Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour or line with bake paper, a 17x33cm cake tin.

·        In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted chocolate, egg, baileys, milk, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Mix until smooth: the batter will be thin.

·        Pour into prepared tin and cut the cream cheese into small squares and drop evenly into the batter.

·        Drop the frozen raspberries evenly into the batter.

·        Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin before slicing and serving.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Roast Fig and Goats Cheese Tart with Lamb and Sticky Balsamic Onion Jam

Roast Fig and Goats Cheese Tart with Lamb and Sticky Balsamic Onion Jam

Sometimes I miss those restaurant days of looking through a service window and watching someone grappling with the choices on a menu, trying to decide if they want to go with a firm favorite or leap into the unknown with a new choice. 
 In trade school we obsessed over the name of a new dish, on a menu that name has to grab the diners attention and  inspire their taste buds to have to have it.
For me the name of the dish should always reflect the hero. By hero I mean the best part of it. In this case I just couldn't decide which element was the signature piece.
Lately my cooking involves throwing something quick together for me and the Husband (if he isn't home and I have to cook) or something sweet to share with my minions at work.
So for my birthday I chose to stay home and cook a meal worthy of al a carte for the three of us. (Family get together was the next night).
One a vegetarian, one with allergies and me.

That's where the drama started. I couldn't get the cut of lamb I wanted. I wanted a lamb backstrap. Two butchers later none to be had. Perhaps a rack of lamb. No luck there. I settled for a topside of lamb. It came in a vacuum pack bag and I was assure by the butcher it was a whole piece suitable to roast. It wasn't - it was a piece big enough for the two carnivores and a big handful of chopped up bits and it was beef. It wasn't stuck together with the chemical glue we hear about in the news so often but I wasn't impressed. By the time I opened the bag it was too late to take it back.

Still it was delicious I just think the lamb backstraps would have been better and that's why I left the title as with Lamb.


35cm x 13 cm x 2 cm flan tin
food processor
sharp knife
cutting board
2 frypans
Tray suitable to roast the meat


200 grams plain flour
5 grams salt
5 grams baking powder
20 grams cornflour
125 grams cold butter cut into 2 cm cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg or  50 mls cold water


250 grams cream cheese
200 grams chevre goats cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup spring onion - finely sliced from the white end up
salt and white pepper to taste - I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each
1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
 5 or 6 fresh figs
Dark balsamic vinegar

Onion Jam

2 large brown or red onions - peeled and cut into 5mm slices.
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
2 sprigs of thyme
1 garlic clove - crushed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good red wine

Back strap (or topside) of lamb big enough for 4 - tossed in olive oil.
4 ripe roma tomatoes
8 mushrooms
1 clove garlic - crushed
sprinkle of fresh thyme (or if you don't have that some italian mixed herbs)



In the food processer blitz the butter and flours until it resembles bread crumbs, add the salt, lemon juice and water or egg. Process until it is a lump of dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll the chilled pastry out on a floured surface to about 3 mm thick. Press it into a greased and floured 35cm x 13 cm x2 fluted loose bottom pie tin.
Line the pastry with bake paper and then fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes in a 180° C oven (170°C if your oven is fan forced). Remove the paper and beans. 

Combine the 2 cheeses by mashing together with a fork. Add the herbs, lemon rind and salt and pepper. Mix together and spoon into the pastry case. Place the figs into the cheese  mixture and drizzle a few drops of the balsamic vinegar in each fig.

Bake for 45 minutes in a 180° C oven (170°C if your oven is fan forced).

Onion Jam.

While the pastry is chilling melt the ghee in a frypan. If you don't have ghee you can use half a tablespoon of butter and half a tablespoon of oil.
Add the onions and garlic and fry gently until they are golden.

Add the sugar and herbs and stir until the sugar melts.
Add the vinegar and wine and stir until the lumps of sugar melt. 
Reduce the heat and simmer until the onion jam is sticky and thick.

For the lamb and vegetables.

Season the lamb with a few grinds of salt and pepper then brown it all over and place in an oven dish large enough to hold it and the vegetables. 
Take the stalks out of the mushrooms and add a little garlic and herbs then replace the stalks.
Cut the tomatoes in half and sprinkle with some of the herbs, salt and  pepper.

Roast the lamb and vegetables in the 180° C oven (170°C if your oven is fan forced) with the tart until it is cooked how you like it. For the back straps about 10 minutes - for a small topside of lamb about 30 minutes for well done.
When they are both cooked allow the lamb and the tart to rest for 5 - 10 minutes then cut and serve as I did in the picture at the top of the post. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Low Fat Vanilla Pannacotta with Plum Compote

It seems as if Summer has left us. The weather has cooled and the leaves on the fruit trees in our yard are starting to change colour already.
One of my favorite desserts is definitely a soft silky pannacotta and I had a yearning for something sweet today.

Part of my life is avoiding Diabetes - my family is rife with both Type 1 those who are Insulin dependant and Type 2 the one they call diet controllable. I have to tell you that controlling your diet is hard. Most people already know that. For me an endless craving for carbohydrates has always been part of my life. Luckily I have a good Doctor who doesn't throw me out the door after 15 minutes. I am now on an anti-diabetes medication and that has done wonders for me. No more constant headache, no more carb cravings and ceaseless hunger and I've lost a little bit of weight already and it's only been a week.
I unexpectedly worked late last night and didn't have any of the wonder medication with me so I missed a dose. I really believed it wouldn't make much difference but this morning I got up with a slight headache and a near desperate craving for a slice of toast. I have no willpower and had the toast.
I've been craving something sweet all day and decided to have dessert tonight. So after a light meal of Hot Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Cambembert Frittata (recipe to follow later in the week)we had Low Fat Vanilla Pannacotta with Plum Compote.

This is a really quick recipe. It takes a few minutes to make and a couple of hours to set. I didn't add any sugar but you can add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar if you have a sweet tooth. 

Low Fat Vanilla Pannacotta with Plum Compote

4 serves

1 sachet of gelatine powder
60 mls cold water270 ml can of lite coconut cream
250 ml fat free plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

12 fresh plums
60 mls water or port
3cms of cinnamon stick, 1 piece of star anise and 2 cloves

Pour the gelatine onto the 60 mls of water in a microwaveable bowl and stir until it is not lumpy.
Mix the  coconut cream, yogurt and the vanilla in a jug (now is the time to add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar if you want to), mix well.
When the gelatine has softened microwave for 15 seconds. Take it out of the microwave and stir it. Return the gelatine and water to the microwave for another 15 seconds. Take care to ensure that the gelatine and water does not boil. If it does the gelatine will not set and you need to start again.
Stir the dissolved gelatine water mixture into the yogurt/coconut cream/vanilla mixture. Stir until it is smooth and then pour into 4 glasses.
Cover with glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set.

For the compote
Cut the plums in half and remove the stones.
Place in a small saucepan with the spices and water or port and simmer over a low heat until just soft.
Turn off the heat and leave to sit with the lid on until cooled to room temperature.
Remove the spices.

Serve the pannacotta in the glasses with the plums.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tropical Mango and Passionfruit Steamed Puddings Inspired by Jamie Oliver

Its time for another Sweet Adventure - Nic from Dining with a Stud is hosting the

When I think tropical I immeadiately think Passionfruit, mango and vanilla. Who wouldn't? I've been road testing dishes for this challenge since it was announced and in the end I wondered what would Jamie Oliver do. Cause I do love Jamie. In his 15 minute cook book he makes coconut steamed buns.
They are easy and quick. 1 part coconut cream and 2 parts self raising flour. Jamie served them with a chicken dish but I thought to myself 'how healthy are these'. The light coconut flavour negates the need for sugar and although there is around 28 grams of fat in 1/3 cup of full fat of coconut cream you could use the light version. This recipe makes 2 large desserts and let's face it sometimes that's just what you need. Even though it is a big dessert it is still quite light and really refreshing so dig in Adventurers.

Tropical Mango and Passionfruit steamed puddings for 2

1 mango
2 passionfruit
1/3 cup coconut cream
2/3 cup self raising flour

To serve
1/4 cup fat free natural yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 passionfruit


Set up your steamer and bring the water to the boil.
Divide the pulp from 2 passionfruit between 2 greased 200 ml ramekins.
Peel the mango and cut the flesh from the seed and place on top of the passionfruit, then eat what's left on the skin and seed.
Mix the coconut cream and flour until smooth, spoon on top of the fruit and place uncovered in the steamer.

Steam on high steam for 12 - 15 minutes.
Remove from the steamer when a skewer inserted in the pudding comes out clean.

Run a knife around the puddings and tip them out onto a plate.
Mix the yogurt, vanilla and the pulp from the passionfruit and drizzle over the top.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Banana and Raspberry Ring Cake.

I'm practicing for the Sweet Adventures January Blog Hop - Tropical Paradise.
I'd like to make something new and amazing and still work on my recipe development.
This is my new Banana and Raspberry Ring Cake.
It would be prettied up with some lemon icing if I was taking it out of the house but it's just for us so the cake is naked.
I tried to turn out the cake to early and it split in the middle. Tastewise it is great but not too pretty.

I'll develop something else for Tropical Paradise perhaps inspired by my favorite cocktail Planters Punch, until then here is my own Banana and Raspberry Ring Cake.

Banana and Raspberry Ring Cake.


11" ring or bundt tin (or a 8" springform round tin)
Food processor
Measuring cup for liquid
Measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients.
Rubber scraper
Small pot
Pastry brush
Measuring scales
Cake tester or skewer


240 mls/1 cup milk
5 grams/1 teaspoon Bi Carb or baking SODA
150grams/1 cup plain flour
125/1/2 cup grams butter
150 grams/3/4 cup caster sugar
5 grams/1 teaspoon cinnamon
10 grams/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 ripe banana
1 egg
1 punnet fresh raspberries or 1 cup frozen

Preheat the oven to 175° Celsius.
Stir the Bi Carb(Baking) soda into the milk and set it aside.
Cut about 25 grams of butter off the 125 grams and melt in a small saucepan. Brush the ring tin generously with the butter.
Place the flour, sugar, the butter (including any left over melted butter), cinnamon, baking powder and vanilla paste into your food processor and blitz it up until it is in fine crumbs.
Add the banana, egg and the milk/soda mixture. Blitz again until it is smooth.
Pour a thin layer into the bottom of the greased tin. Scatter over 1/3 of the raspberries.
Cover the berries with about ½ of the remaining cake batter and scatter over the remaining raspberries.
Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top.

Bake in the 175° oven for 35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack or plate. You may need to loosen the edges with a knife to get it out.

If you use the 8" springform tin the cake will need about 45 minutes cooking.

If you are egg free you can leave it out and the cake still works - just add another tablespoon of butter or oil.