Monday, November 24, 2008

2 Ways with Mini Muffins

Who doesn't love mini muffins? Some might argue they are too small, but hey - you can have seconds and not feel bad! And they are good for feeding a crowd (the boys at BF's work in this case). They are also a great way to have a little indulgence without feeling too bad about it.
The day I made these I couldn't decide what flavour to make. I had both bananas and strawberries to use up, but wasn't feeling like mixing the two. Of course, I will do anything to add chocolate to a recipe - so banana choc chip become one choice. And I remembered that my sister had once made strawberry rose flavour... I couldn't decide between the two so gave in a made both! BF's workmates were very pleased when they realised that he had brought over 30 muffins to work! And the verdict? They actually preferred the strawberry rose! So did I, but the banana choc chip were a firm favourite for BF. Happy campers all round.
Chocolate Chip Banana Mini Muffins (makes 24)
30g butter
1 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 overripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a mini muffin pan with liners.

Melt butter and cool slightly. Sift flour into mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre.

Lightly whisk together the egg, milk and butter, and add to the dry ingredients along with the banana. Gently mix until just combined. Stir in choc chips.

Spoon mix into muffin cases and cook for 7 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Strawberry Rose Mini Muffins (makes 24)
1 cup self raising flour
3/8 cup caster sugar
3/8 cup milk
60g butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp rosewater essence
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a mini muffin pan with liners.

Melt butter and cool slightly. Sift flour into mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre.

Add milk, butter, egg and rosewater to dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Stir through strawberries.

Spoon mix into muffin cases and cook for 7 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Both recipes modified from

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Warm Chorizo and Chickpea Salad

I have had a lovely weekend, with plenty of time for cooking. Blueberry pancakes for breakfast, home made pasta last night, banana bread in the oven filling the place with wonderful smells.

But most of the time, this is not what my life is like. Most days I don't want to spend a long time in the kitchen after work, because I would rather be wrapped in a blanket and asleep on the couch! This meal came from a night like that. I wanted to be in and out of the kitchen in the shortest possible time, but still eat something tasty and nutritious. The result? 10 minute chorizo salad!

This salad was literally just a combination of items that I had in my fridge/cupboard at the time. I don't quite remember how much of some of the things I used, but being a salad, measurements don't really matter! This makes enough for 2 hungry people, but if you aren't huge fans of chorizo, you should cut down to 1 sausage, as 2 is a quite meat heavy salad.

2 chorizo sausages, sliced
1 440g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small block feta cheese
1 tomato
1 lebanese cucumber
1/2 red capsicum
1 small red shallot
red wine vinegar
olive oil

Heat a frying pan with a tiny amount of oil, and add the chorizo slices. Stir occasionally. Whilst cooking, slice shallot, and dice capsicum, cucumber and tomato. Put these in a mixing bowl.

When chorizo is starting to crisp up, add the chickpeas and stir to coat in the oil that has come out of the chorizo. Whilst the chickpeas are warming, make the dressing - 2 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar (or 3:1 if you like it a little less zingy).

Put the rocket on TOP of the other vegies, then pour the warm ingredients on top. This helps the rocket to wilt down just a touch. Add the dressing, season with salt and pepper and get your hands in to mix it all around.

Divide onto serving plates and crumble feta over the top. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Sad Goodbye...

Friday was a sad day for my family. We lost our girl, Amira, after almost 16 years to pneumonia. She was very much a member of the family, my mum's shadow, and a great source of comfort to us all.
She loved raw carrots, broccoli and zucchini, munching on apple cores, and if you blew kissy-noises at her she would come over and give you a kiss.
She enjoyed sitting on a chair at the dining room table to watch us eat as part of the family, and never failed to make us laugh. She will be well remembered and dearly missed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let's Play Tag!

I was surprised and excited this morning to find that I had been tagged by Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella for a meme. It certainly is a confidence booster, especially as NQN is one of the very first blogs I read. Thanks Lorraine!

This meme is 6 random things about me, so... *puts thinking cap on*

1) The first time I baked a cake my brother told me that I had misread the measurement for bi-carb soda and that I was supposed to put 1 tbsp in... needless to say, the cake was inedible and my family didn't allow me to cook for them for many years!

2) I spent a month travelling around France when I was 22 and ate a fruit tartlet from a patisserie every single day.

3) Cooking injuries of mine include: quite a good slice off the side of my left thumb, minor burns on hands, arms and my stomach (rogue oven tray) and partial thickness burns to two fingers on my right hand just last week.

4) I once drove 27,000km around Australia in a 2-door Holden Barina with no air-conditioning.

5) I have the whitest legs in the world. No matter how tanned/sunburned my arms/shoulders/back/face get, my legs insist on staying whiter than white.

6) I find almost all forms of technology extremely difficult to use. I constantly yell at the computer, my mobile phone, and sometimes even the alarm clock. My i-pod shuffle was the first music player I have owned since my old cassette walkman, and I still cannot put songs onto it by myself. I can never work out which remote control I am supposed to use, or which buttons to press. Thankfully, BF is a bit of a computer/technology geek!

Now to tag 6 more people for this meme!

1) Chelle at Brown Eyed Baker
2) Mimi at Mimi on the Move
3) Jessica at Apples and Butter
4) HoneyB at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
5) Ja at Beansprout's Cafe
6) Pam at For the love of cooking

There is no obligation to participate, but it is good fun!

Here are the rules:

* Link to the person who tagged you
* Post the rules on the blog
* Write 6 random things about yourself
* Tag 6 people at the end of your post
* Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
* Let the tagger know when your entry is up

So let's play tag!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bill's Ricotta Hotcakes

Way back in March, BF and I went to Bill's Surry Hills for breakfast. BF had scrambled eggs, and I had the famous ricotta hotcakes. Since then, I have been meaning to make them at home. You see, I have had the recipe for 12 months now, and just haven't seemed to get round to it.
The hotcakes from Bill's.
At the November Good Living Growers' Markets, I bought a delicious tub of ricotta from my favourite cheese shop, Formaggi Ocello. The next day, I finally made the hotcakes.

Bill serves his with banana and honeycomb butter. I had one rather overripe banana, and no honeycomb, so we settled for half a banana each and maple syrup. And thankfully, the hotcakes were just as light as I remembered. This is because the egg whites are beaten and carefully folded into the mix. The batter is very easy to make, and can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours, which is a good thing, because I only made half the recipe and it was enough to feed 4!! Also, if you don't have the honeycomb butter, the mix isn't too bad for you, as it contains no butter AND no sugar!
My hotcakes.
To serve 4 (or 2 over 2 days)
2/3 cup ricotta
3/8 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
25g butter

Combine ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a bowl. Sift in the baking powder and flour, and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold these into the batter in 2 batches, being gentle and not over mixing.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and grease with a little bit of the butter. Drop 2 tablespoons of batter for each hotcake into the pan (don't cook more than 2 at a time as the pan cools too much). Cook over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn over and cook through. Serve with banana and maple syrup.
Recipe from Bill's Sydney Food.

Bill's Surry Hills
359 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW

Thursday, November 13, 2008

High Tea at The Tea Rooms, QVB

I have said before that I don't usually take photos of food whilst I am eating out. High Tea was no exception. The food was delivered, we oohed and aahed, and then we tucked in. And halfway through the finger sandwiches, my sister whipped out the camera and decided to take some shots. Hmph. I sat back on my lounge, giggling, as I handmodelled for her with my teapot...
I'm getting ahead of myself. Earlier this week, I managed to burn a couple of fingers on my right hand pretty badly. Bad enough that the doctor gave me a week off work. I also have been struck with a nasty cough, reminiscent of the bronchitis I used to get often as a child. Whilst on the phone with Mum, filling her in on all my current afflictions, she decided to fly up to Sydney and pamper me for the week! Yay!
Sis and I hadn't seen Mum for a good 4 months or so, so as my cough was starting to ease up yesterday, we decided to take Mum sightseeing. Having not been to Sydney before, we showed her the Bridge, and the Opera House, and then went for a lazy wander through the Botanic Gardens.After working up an appetite, we decided to surprise Mum with High Tea. Sis and I had been wanting to try The Tea Rooms for a while, but had never gotten round to it, and thought this was the perfect excuse to do it on a whim. We were offered the choice of tables or lounges, and lounges were the unanimous choice. We sat, relaxed, I chose tea, the others received their glass of sparkling, and we waited for the food to arrive.

And so it goes... The food arrived, and we all tucked in to the finger sandwiches. There were smoked salmon, egg, and ham sandwiches, all done quite simply with not too much to mask the flavour of the main ingredient. The egg sandwiches were definitely my favourite, but how can you go past an egg sandwich? Halfway through them, Sis decided to take photos, so we had to do a bit of artful rearranging of the top tier of the stand to make it look full!!

The top tier also had tiny tarts of polenta and cheese - the waiter said it was blue cheese but Mum and I though it tasted more of Gruyere.
The bottom tier had small toasts topped with eggplant and chorizo - these were delicious and we all agreed that 6 more of these each would not go astray! Also on this tier were scones, 2 plain and 1 fruit scone. Sis and I allowed Mum the choice, both knowing deep down that we were about to miss out on the fruit one - it probably would have been both our first choice! The scones were just warm, a little too firm on the outside, and served with jam and cream. Mum always whips the cream when she makes us scones, so we were a little disappointed that the cream was runny. Also, they obviously recycle leftover cream from other tables, as ours arrived with little bits of someone else's scone in it! However, when pointed out, it was promptly replaced with a smile.
The middle tier was the most impressive looking. Tiny bite-sized sweets, five different varieties, and thankfully, enough of each that we didn't have to share any! With these, we sat back, relaxed and took our time. And we each had a different favourite. Sis enjoyed the passionfruit-cream filled cookies, Mum liked the orange and almond cake topped with lemon curd the best, and my favourite was the pistachio meringue stack. Also here were a pastry boat with cream and strawberry (the cream lacking in flavour) and a sponge filled with jam and custard topped with chocolate and coconut!

For the record, the tea I chose was called Keemun, and is described as a Chinese black tea with an aroma similar to rose or orchid. It was lovely, quite mild, but unfortunately my blocked nose didn't allow me to smell it properly!

All photos courtesy of my lovely sister.

The Tea Room, QVB
455 George St, Sydney

Traditional Afternoon Tea $32 (add $2 for tea for connoisseurs - I did!)
Sparkling Afternoon Tea $37 (same as above but with a glass of Australian Sparkling wine)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cocoa Brownie Bites to die for...

In need of a chocolate fix (hmmm, isn't that all the time?), I went window shopping through my favourite blogs to find a recipe. I had 3 criteria: 1) chocolate (duh) 2) quick, easy and all pantry item ingredients 3) very VERY chocolatey. If it sounds like I have a chocolate issue, I do. It would be the first item on my desert island wish list. It makes me happy. It makes sad movies better. It makes me not care that the rubbish hasn't been taken out, the dishes need washing, or that my oven doesn't work (and it should be getting fixed on Thursday - finally!)

After some searching, I found this recipe of Pam's. Although I was a bit sceptical that cocoa alone could make something as chocolatey as I was craving, Pam's recipes always make me drool onto the keyboard, and this description of her's sold me - "Beware... these are very rich, and according to my husband and daughter, very addicting. They were dense and not too sweet but totally delicious. They had a perfect soft center and a nice crispy crust on top."

Sold! What more could a girl ask for? Well, some additional chocolate chunks of course! The addition of a very heaped 1/3 cup of broken choc chunks was my only change to Pam's recipe. And these brownies were a hit! I was so reluctant to part with them that I only allowed BF to take half of them to work - the rest stayed with me!And just in case you are not already convinced that Pam makes awesome brownies, last week she made them with peanut butter chips in - click here and admire them! If anyone knows where I can buy peanut butter chips in Sydney, please let me know as I am dying to make these!

142g butter (1 and 1/4 sticks)
1 and 1/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain flour
very heaped 1/3 cup chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 163C (325F). Place oven shelf in bottom third of oven. Grease and line an 8 inch slice tin with baking paper, making sure it hangs over the edge of the two long sides.
In a heat proof bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt, place over a pot of hot water and stir occasionally until melted and mixture is hot to touch. The mix should look slightly grainy. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then add vanilla. Mix in the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each one.
When the mix is well blended, smooth and shiny, slowly add the flour and stir until combined thoroughly. Now stir vigourously for 30 strokes (I don't know what this is for but it works! Can anyone explain?) Stir in the chocolate chunks. Pour into slice tin and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely before lifting out and cutting into bite-sized pieces. Remember, bite-sized pieces mean you can have seconds!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Anzac Biscuits

I have to start by saying yum. YUM. Anzacs are really yummy. I don't think I have ever met an Aussie who doesn't love Anzacs. You can buy them from the supermarket, but they are generally the crunchy type, and I am most definitely a chewy biscuit person. They are also ridiculously easy to make, and as they have no milk or eggs, they last for a long time (not in my house!)
For a little bit of background on Anzacs, click here.
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb soda

Preheat oven to 160C. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Sift flour into a large bowl, and stir in the oats, sugar and coconut.

Put the butter and golden syrup into a pot with 2 tbsp of water. Stir over medium heat until melted, then stir in the bicarb soda.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry mixture and combine. At this point I find it hard to resist eating the mix!
Roll tablespoonsfull of mixture into balls, and place on the prepared trays, about 5cm apart (the Anzacs spread quite a bit).
Use a fork to flatten slightly, don't worry if little bit break off - the Anzacs will hold together when coooked. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly on trays, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 30.
Recipe from

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm back... with wonton noodle soup.

YAY! My partner, BF, found the camera cable last night! So I am back and have a backlog of pictures to blog about. I'm very happy, because I found I wasn't very inclined to taking photos of what I was cooking whilst I wasn't able to blog about them. So hopefully I will be back better than ever!

I've been waiting to share my wonton noodle soup for a while... and I couldn't do this one without photos. You see, I made a large batch of wontons a while ago, and popped the unused raw ones into the freezer to use at a later date. When I got them out a couple of weeks ago to use, I realised that I had packed them all into the same container, with nothing to separate them, not even a piece of baking paper. Result? One big block of frozen wonton!
There were more than I wanted to use for one meal, however, I was unable to separate them without partially defrosting them. And then when I did separate them, most of the wrappers broke, leaving the precious filling exposed. What to do? Use all of them and indulge in way too many wontons! (BF did not complain!)
Thankfully, when I cooked them, they stayed intact, and tasted just as good as usual. A lesson learnt though!

You can put pretty much anything in wontons - prawns, crab, garlic, different sauces - these are the ones I make because they are quick and simple - and BF doesn't like prawns! The water chestnuts are important, as they provide crunch to an otherwise texturally unexciting mix.

1 pack wonton wrappers (found near the fresh pasta in the fridge section of the supermarket)
150g pork mince
2cm ginger, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
water chestnuts, chopped, add to taste
soy sauce, to taste
rice wine vinegar, to taste

Mix all ingredients (except wrappers) in bowl. Place small amount in centre of each wrapper, wet edges of wrapper with paper, and bring all sides together and pinch shut. Aim for the look of a money bag. Makes about 30.

Keep aside 6 per person and freeze the rest, separated by baking paper, for next time.
Chicken stock
2 chicken carcasses, washed under running water, any large bits of fat removed
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
4 parsley stalks, all leaves removed (use stalks only)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
5 whole black peppercorns

Place all items in a large pot and cover completely with COLD water. Bring to the boil, turn down to low simmer, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface and discard. Strain, and discard all solids. Stock can be frozen in small portions and defrosted when required. I usually make stock in large batches, so it is always on hand when needed.

Wonton Noodle Soup
2 blocks asian instant noodles (similar to 2 minute noodles)
1 carrot, sliced very thin
2 choy sum, base removed, washed thoroughly
10 snowpeas
2 chillies, sliced
2cm ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
12 wontons (recipe above)
chicken stock (recipe above)
soy sauce, to taste

Bring stock to a simmer in large pot. Cook noodles in stock according to packet instructions. Remove from stock and divide between serving bowls. Put wontons into stock and cook until floating and cooked through. Whilst wontons are cooking, arrange carrot, snowpeas and choy sum on top of noodles.
When wontons are cooked, place on top of noodles. Fill bowls with the stock, top with chilli and ginger, and serve with soy sauce so you can each add as much as you like! Serves 2.

Monday, November 3, 2008


So I still have no oven, no camera cable and therefore not a lot to blog about. I will spend this time having fun reading other's blogs and drooling...

Check out these awesome blueberry cupcakes that I want to make when my oven is fixed.