Friday, 18 August 2017


Pretending I'm in Paris... or Brest. Either one would be fine.

adapted from here

For the Pastry:
250ml water
100g unsalted butter
Good pinch sea salt flakes
200g plain flour
4 whole eggs

For the Praline:
170g caster sugar
40g water
170g toasted hazelnuts
Good pinch of sea salt flakes
Vegetable oil, for greasing

For the Filling:
200ml full cream milk
2 egg yolks,
70g caster sugar
35g cornflour
150ml cream, whipped to soft peaks
80g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk, for brushing

To Serve:
Icing sugar, for dusting

Make the Pastry:
Draw a 22cm circle onto a large piece of baking paper, turn the paper over so that the ink faces the tray (you should still be able to see the circle through the paper), and place the paper on a large baking tray. This will be your guide for piping. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the water, butter and salt into a saucepan, place it over high heat and bring it to a boil.

Remove from the heat and dump the flour in all in one go.

Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together without any lumps.

Place it back on a low heat and stir until if forms a ball and leaves the side of the pan, a few minutes.

Spoon the dough into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then start mixing at medium-high speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag and pipe a circle, following the drawn line on the paper as a guide. Pipe another circle on the outside, right next to the first circle. Next, pipe a circle on top of the two circles, overlapping them (see photos above.) Brush the with the egg yolk and sprinkle with some of the toasted hazelnuts from 80g you toasted for the filling.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Praline:
Lightly grease a baking tray and a fork with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and swirl the pan to wet all of the sugar. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan now and then (do not stir). Once the sugar turns a dark caramel, remove from the heat and add the hazelnuts and salt, stirring with the oiled fork. Immediately, pour the mixture onto the greased tray and spread quickly with the fork. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes, until set.

Once, set, break the praline up into chunks. Put three-quarters of it in a processor. Blitz for about 5 minutes, scraping the sides down occasionally, until it resembles wet sand. Set aside.

Crush the rest of the chunks roughly (to a rubble) in a mortar and pestle and set aside.

Make the Filling:
Put the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar for about 1 minutes, until pale and thick. Add the cornflour and whisk until combined. Whisk continuously while you gradually add the hot milk. Once incorporated and smooth, pour it back into the pan and put the pan back over a medium-low heat. Cook until thickened, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add three-quarters of the blitzed praline and whisk. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic sits directly on top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Once cold, beat with a wooden spoon until it loosens, then gently fold in the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle. Set aside.

To Assemble:
Cut the pastry rounds in half horizontally. Place the bottom half onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with the reserved blitzed praline. Pipe the praline cream over the top and sprinkle that with the crushed praline chunks. Sandwich with the top half of the pastry and dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Finger Buns

Finger buns take me right back to my childhood.  Once a week, my mum would take us to the "confectioners" as she called it.  It was actually a bakery, and the best in town.  She would let us choose a treat from the windows filled with vanilla slices, jam doughnuts, biscuits, scones, apple turnovers, Lamingtons, New Yorkers and, of course, finger buns.  No prizes for guessing which was my choice.  

Finger Buns
slightly adapted from here
Makes 12

For the Dough:
500g bakers flour
50g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
150ml lukewarm full cream milk
140ml water

For the Icing:
200g icing sugar
5 teaspoons cold water

For the Filling:
200ml whipping cream, whipped to firm peaks
100g jam (I used homemade raspberry jam)

Make the Dough:
Put all the dough ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low for about 10 minutes. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for about an hour, until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 220C.  Grease a large baking tray and set it aside.

Divide the dough into 12 x 70g pieces, roll into balls and shape them into fingers about 13cm long. Place them onto the prepared baking tray, leaving some room between for them to double in size and set aside for about 40 minutes.  They should just touch each other when risen.  Bake for 10 minutes and then remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Ice the Buns:
Pour the icing sugar and the water into a bowl and stir until smooth.  Dip the top of the buns into the icing and smooth with your finger.  Put them back on the wire rack to set for a few minutes.

Fill the Buns:
Slice the buns horizontally, leaving one long edge intact.  Pipe in the cream and then pipe in a line of jam.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

I cannot go wrong with Mexican food in my house.  No matter what form it takes, it's always a winner.  It's my go-to when I'm racking my brains to figure out what's for dinner.  Some days I spend hours (I mean, hours) flicking through my cookbooks (and I have mountains of them), magazines (same) the inter-web and staring into my pantry for inspiration, but still come up empty-brained... I mean, empty-handed.  Like most mums, I have to juggle time, availability, the needs and wants of a family (who have varying likes and dislikes!) and still come up with a delicious, nutritious meal that everyone with gormandise.  Yay for Mexican food.  It ticks all the boxes... the kid who doesn't like meat, will happily scoff a chicken enchilada or five, and the kid who doesn't like greens is a salsa-verde-aholic.  Winning.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
slightly adapted from here
Serves 4

For the Sauce:
1 x 800g can of tomatillos, drained but reserve ½ cup of the liquid (I buy mine online from here)
2 cloves garlic
2 long green chillies
1 cup coriander leaves, plus extra for garnish
¼ cup white salad onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

For the Enchiladas:

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
¼ cup white salad onion, roughly chopped, plus an extra ¼ cup for garnish
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus an extra ¼ cup for garnish
Sunflower oil for frying the tortillas

12 corn tortillas
½ cup thickened cream

Make the Sauce:
Place all the sauce ingredients except the oil, into a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.  Pour the sauce in and bring it to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it thickens and gets a little darker in colour. Check the nonseasonal and adjust if necessary.  Set aside.

Make the Enchiladas:
Pour enough oil into a large pan so that it is about 1 cm deep.  Heat over high heat.  Gently dip the tortilla into the oil, submerging them in the oil for about 15 second.  Remove and drain on kitchen paper.  Pile them on a plate and cover with another plate so that they soften in the gentle steam they will generate.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the chicken, ¼ cup onion, ½ cup feta in a bowl and mix.  Lay the tortillas out and divide the chicken mixture evenly between them.  Roll them up and place them, seam side down on a baking dish.  Pour the green sauce over and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until hot.  Sprinkle with the remaining onion and cheese, drizzle with the cream and finish with extra chopped coriander.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Garlic Bread Pizza Braids

The garlicky-est pizza bread / the pizza-iest garlic bread you're ever gonna experience.  What are you waiting for?

Garlic Bread Pizza Braids
Makes 3
adapted from here

For the Dough:
250ml lukewarm water
2 teaspoon dried yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 teaspoon honey
375g baker's flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Filling:
3 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup chopped salami

For the Topping:
¼ cup butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
½ cup finely grated pecorino

Make the Dough:
Pour the water into a bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Add the oil and honey and whisk.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Add the flour and salt and, using the dough hook, mix on low for 10 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside in a warm spot for about 45, until doubled in size.

Make the Braids:
Preheat the oven to 200C.  Divide the dough into 9 balls (approx. 80g each).  

Put the mozzarella and salami into a bowl and mix.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll each ball out to a strip about 20cm in length.  

Divide the cheese mixture evenly down the centre of the strips of dough.  Fold the edges over and crimp them the seal the cheese mixture inside.

Pinch the ends of three rolls together and plait them, pinching the other end together to seal.  Repeat with the remaining dough strips, until you have three braids.  Place the braids on a baking paper lined baking tray.  

In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic and parsely and brush the braids generously.  Sprinkle with the pecorino.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Apple Butter, Cinnamon, Pecan Muffins

We grow apples.  When it's harvest time, we have lots of apples.  Too many to just enjoy fresh from the trees. I hate waste about as much as I love apples, so what doesn't  make it into compotes and crumbles or pies and pie holes, has to be preserved.  Last season I made apple butter for the first time... it won't be the last.  It's delicious spread on hot buttered toast, dolloped onto a bowlful of hot porridge (or any breakfast cereal for that matter), swirled though thick and tangy Greek yoghurt, used as a filling for a sponge cake along with some softly whipped cream, spooned on top of pancakes with a pat of slowly melting salted butter, or as a lush ingredient in some warm, moist breakfast muffins.  Apples never had it so good.

NOTE: Here's the recipe I used to make the apple butter, but you can also use store bought applesauce for this recipe.

Apple Butter, Cinnamon, Pecan Muffins
Makes 6

For the Topping:
¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Muffins:
180g self-raising flour
60g brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml buttermilk
60ml grape seed oil
1 cup homemade apple butter (or store bough applesauce)

Make the Topping:
Put all the topping ingredients into a small bowl and mix until combined.  Set aside.

Make the Muffins:
Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease a 6 hole muffin pan generously with cooking oil spray.  Set aside.

Put the flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans into a large bowl and mix.   In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla, buttermilk, oil and apple butter together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir until just combined.  Divide the batter between the muffins pans and spoon the topping mixture evenly on top of the muffins.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave the muffins to cool for 2 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Chocolate Pie

Two of my favourite words (and things)... Chocolate and Pie.

Chocolate Pie:
adapted from here

For the Pastry:
For the Pastry:
125g unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering
80g caster sugar
150g plain flour, sifted
50g cocoa powder, sifted

For the Filling:
1½ cups caster sugar
¼ cup cornflour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups full cream milk
4 egg yolks
180 dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
30g unsalted butter

Make the Pastry:
Lightly butter a 22cm glass or ceramic pie dish. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes until pale. Stop the mixer and add the flour and cocoa. Turn the mixer onto low speed and mix until it resembles damp sand.

Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press it evenly into the base and sides, making it as thin as you can. Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Bake the pastry shell for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.. If the pastry has slipped down the sides during baking, gently press it back up with your fingers. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the pan, until completely cool before filling.

Make the Filling:
Put the sugar, cornflour and salt into a medium saucepan and whisk to combine.  Add the milk and egg yolks and whisk until smooth.

Pop the pan over medium heat and stir until it comes to simmering point.  As soon as the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, remove it from the heat and add the chocolate, vanilla and butter.  Stir until smooth.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and chill, uncovered in the the refrigerator, for at least 4 hours before cutting.  Serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Roasted Cauliflower and Green Pepper Soup with Blue Corn and Parmesan Taquitos

I know for some people soup is not a meal, but I'm more than happy with a bowlful of hot, thick, creamy soup and a tray of crunchy chips to dip.  I'm pretty low-maintenance really.  

Roasted Cauliflower and Green Pepper Soup with Blue Corn and Parmesan Taquitos
slightly adapted from here
Serevs 4

For the Soup:
1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 large or 4 small green capsicums
2 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 litre chicken stock
1/2 cup cream

For the Taquitos:
A bag of blue corn tortilla chips
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Make the Soup:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the cauliflower florets on a baking tray. Drizzle both with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until it is tender and starting to brown at the edges.  Put the cauliflower into a saucepan.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, char the capsicums on a barbecue or directly on a gas flame.  Remove once blackend and blistered, Place in a bowl, over with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes.  Peel the skin off and chop the flesh.  Add it to the saucepan with the roasted cauliflower. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Pour into a blender and blitz until smooth.  Pour it through a sieve back into a clean saucepan.  Bring back to a simmer and add the cream.  Adjust the seasoning.

Make the Taquitos:
Preheat the grill to high. Spread the corn chips onto a baking tray and sprinkle with the Parmesan.  Grill until golden brown.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a few taquitos.