Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Edibles Continued..

 Here's another family favourite of mine that never goes astray at Christmas...the good old Rum Ball! I'm not particularly a fan of chunks of raisin and nuts in my Rum Balls, so here's a smoothy...you can add your glace cherries and so forth if you prefer...and certainly, increase the rum and make them a little more boozy! These are also fantastic as gifts, in tiny truffle cups, boxed and tied with ribbon.


7oz Milk Arrowroot Biscuits
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup coconut
400g can sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp. rum
extra coconut

Crush biscuits with a rolling pin until they resemble fine crumbs. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, mixing well until combined. Shape mixture into walnut-sized balls, rolling each in extra coconut until covered. Place in refrigerator until firm.

Makes 30.

Delectable Christmas Treats

It seems permissible to gorge ourselves with goodies for just one day of the year...Christmas..and maybe, just maybe, you can get away with Easter as well. If you're not into shortbread or fruity Christmas puddings, you may like to do something a little less traditional and create this super easy, super quick Rocky Road. You can wrap the pieces individually, take a plate of them to the in-laws, whatever your heart desires...I  formed my rocky road into Christmas trees, wrapped them in cellophane and tied them up with ribbon as gifts.


500g dark cooking chocolate
125g unsalted cashew nuts
300g pink and white marshmallows, torn
200g cherry ripe, chopped

Grease a lamington tin and generously line with non-stick baking paper.
Place all the chocolate into a microwave proof bowl and place on high, checking and stirring regularly, until smooth. Arrange cashews, cherry ripe and marshmallow pieces in the lamington tin.
Pour hot melted chocolate over the top of the marshmallow mixture until even and well-covered. Set in refrigerator before turning out and cutting into squares.

Rocky Road Christmas Tree

To create the Rocky Road Christmas tree, prepare squares of rocky road on a smooth surface (I used a piece of cardboard covered in aluminum foil). Start with a wide base, adding less and less squares to achieve a pyramid effect. To ensure the rocky road stays in position, pour some extra melted chocolate over the top. you may sprinkle coconut over the melted chocolate or add other decorations if preferred. Coloured glace cherries would look festive!
Wrap with cellophane and tie with ribbon.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dessert Me Not

Give me any excuse and I'll be in the kitchen making a dessert. Give me any occasion and I'll be in there trying to make a fancy one.
The funny thing about this one is I literally dreamed this dessert to life. I woke up and just had to make it.
Now I have to admit, many of my self-made recipes do not pan out, or need plenty of reworking before they are edible. I remember as a small child, occasionally my mum would allow me to have free range of the kitchen ingredients and let me cook what I wanted. I remember my first ever creation...a sponge-like slice, involving many eggs and coloured sprinkles. She was so brave to let me experiment. And I am sure she took a bite and smiled as if it was wonderful, but to this day I wonder how much of it ended up in the bin.
But this one is so simple, it just cant go wrong. It is gorgeous, easy, effective and would make a great addition to the Christmas banquet table. I know it will be on mine.


100ml cream
200g white chocolate buttons
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1-2 tbsp. Tia Maria Liqueur 
250g Dark chocolate buttons

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring often until  buttons have melted and the chocolate is smooth. Sit to cool.
When cool, add the cream and stir to combine until smooth. Sit to thicken.
Meanwhile, take the dark chocolate and melt. Stir until smooth. Take some plastic wrap and brush on the dark chocolate in a circular shape. Make sure the chocolate is a thick layer, then arrange inside the hollows of a muffin tin. Refrigerate until set before peeling from the plastic.
Place the coconut and Tia Maria together in a small bowl and combine. Spoon desiered amont into the bottom of the chocolate cups.
Spoon or pipe the white ganache over the top of the coconut. Decorate with chocolate curls or leaves. Serve with a dollop of cream.

NOTE: If your ganache becomes too hard, you can microwave it to return it to its liquid state.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tradition with a Twist

Christmas has crept up with amazing stealth this year, if you ask me. Where did the last six months go? I feel like I've just finished Christmas shopping from last year and am still a bit clueless for this year. Hmmm. Baking?
I think a nicely boxed batch of shortbread could never go astray in anyone's household around this time of year, and it gives the gift a personal touch if you make it yourself. Homemade shortbread. It couldn't get much better.
Except, it does.
Once you try out this traditional shortbread recipe with a twist, you'll be hooked!
Not only is it totally delicious, it is a very smooth shortbread, and can be jazzed up by being rolled in sugar or drenched in chocolate. Yum! No crumbling with this one, and you're sure to get rave reviews from your recipients!

250g butter, at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
5 tsp. instant coffee
4 tsp. hot water
2 3/4 cups plain flour
Chocolate to drizzle

Preheat oven at 180C. 
With an electric beater, mix butter and icing sugar until it becomes light and fluffy.
Dissolve coffee in water and beat into the mixture. Stir in the flour until well combined.
Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and press with a fork onto greased and lined trays. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool before drizzling or dipping in chocolate.
Makes 30.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Never Trust a Skinny Cook

After browsing my whole blog, I realised that the Heart Foundation would probably be closing me down with red tape and a big danger sign on the door before long. A lovely friend of mine even commented that she thought she had gained weight by looking at the chocolate fudge brownies.
All good things in moderation I say! All my recipes are fat free though. Here is proof:

My Husband and I cooking.

See, you can make and eat as much delicious food as I do and still stay skinny. Here's some more proof. Everyone says a man puts on weight after he married because of his wife's cooking. In the year and a half my husband and I have been married, he has actually LOST half his weight. It's true, I weighed him on our kitchen scales and the mixing bowl now weighs more than he does.

I have to say though, my husband and I recently discussed cutting back on the frequency of my sweets-making. We decided that one lot of sweets a week is probably sufficient--just in case our bodies do decide they would rather be more lard than guts and bones. Ah me, it has been hard to resist.
But speaking of weight, they say you should never trust a skinny cook...why would someone trust a fat cook over a skinny one? Maybe the fat one has just eaten all their mistakes? I like to think the skinny ones share their mistakes too!
Food for thought anyway...


1 cup Self Raising flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup walnuts


1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups hot water

Sift flour, cocoa and sugar together in a bowl. Add melted butter, then milk, vanilla and walnuts. Mix until smooth and well combined. Place mixture in a greased pie dish. Take all ingredients for topping and mix until combined in a separate bowl, then pour over pudding mixture. Bake in moderate oven for 3/4 hour.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mango Mania

As the "silly season" approaches, an even sillier one begins for me. Summer= mango mania.
One of the wonderful things about living in a more tropical climate is the amazing exotic fruits you can get for a pittance. Well...the comparison astounds me. In  Melbourne you can get a single mango for $3.00 AU whereas  here in Brisbane  we recently bought two mangoes for 0.99c--it just blows the mind! (okay I admit that was a total find, even up here) So I go a little crazy when they come into season.
Mangoes can be messy to use though, and I have seen many a good mango go to waste due to not knowing the best way to take the fruit from the peel and seed. If mangoes are expensive where you are, you want to make sure you get the most you can out of your mango.
The best method is to find the direction of the seed and cut down the flat side, sheer with the seed. You can make a few slices in the flesh down to the peel and then a few more in the opposite direction so you have a diced effect. This way, you can "pop" the fruit towards you. You can also use a knife to scrape along the peel to cut the squares off. Alternately, you can cut the peel off before slashing the flesh and get mango cheeks, as they call them. I like to freeze these mango pieces, all ready for use in smoothies and desserts.

This recipe was actually made by accident--as lots of  great inventions are. It was initially meant to be a smoothy and it would have been if I had thinned it out with more liquid. But on tasting it, I decided to keep it as is. Too delicious to change!! It has the thickness of custard, and is ever so refreshing! I can also imagine this dolloped onto a baked cheesecake in summer....mmmmh!


1/2 cup vanilla yoghurt
1 cup milk
1-2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and add milk until desired thickness is achieved. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Things Light and Bubbly....

As I have previously mentioned, my husband is my inspiration in the kitchen. He once said that one should always approach love and cooking with reckless abandon...so I did.
So we can blame the extra calories we all gain on him for this recipe I created (not that I count them anyway). You will not be able to stop eating this Mint Chocolate Aero Mousse once you start. It is so light, and just melts in your mouth. It is the perfect dessert for summer, and is so easy to make. You will probably want to double the recipe, or triple it. I wish I did! This recipe serves 3...or 1, depending on your self-control...


1/2 can evaporated milk, chilled
1 1/2 tsp. gelatine powder
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup caster sugar
peppermint essence to taste
green food colouring
1/4 cup white chocolate

Dissolve the gelatine in water and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, beat the chilled evaporated milk with an electric beater until thick, like cream. (approximately 2 minutes)
Add the sugar, essence and cooled gelatine, and beat until combined. Take 1/3 of this mixture and place in a separate bowl. To this bowl, add the food colouring until you reach the desired shade of green. You may also add more essence to make this part stronger in flavour.
Mix cocoa powder through the greater part of the mixture until well combined. Spoon into individual dessert glasses.
Take the green mousse mixture and spoon over the top of the chocolate mousse. Some of it will sink. Make a swirling pattern with the end of a spoon for a nice effect. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until set.

To make garnish, take the white chocolate and melt. Add essence and colouring as desired. Spread onto a sheet of grease-proof paper until smooth. when set, you may grate it, curl it or break it into pieces to decorate the top of each mousse. Alternatively, grate a peppermint crisp bar over each dessert glass.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Melting Tastebuds while Dreaming of Italian...

The thought of Melbourne's Lygon street set my tastebuds "dreaming" of Italian food...and lasagne came to mind. I always wondered why my husband, on our first date, ordered lasagne in an Italian Restaurant when there was so much to choose from. It was something you could easily make at home, why not try something else? But the more I thought about it, the more I understood. If you know you're going to enjoy something in particular, why risk ordering the unknown dish with smoked anchovies, pickled gherkins and poached egg?
It's an absolute winner every time for him, and one of my favourite Italian meals also.
This being the fourth year to this month of that date, I have decided to include my lasagne recipe...celebrating  our anniversary with the meal he ate. So sentimental of me.
My mother actually gave me her amazing recipe a long time ago. When I moved out of home I made it often, and after some time, remembering it by heart made it without the recipe.
When I made this again the other day, my husband asked me what I had put in it, because it was more flavoursome than ever.
Nothing new, I told him.
But it made me go back to mum's recipe, and I saw that over time, I had completely changed it. So, I had to write down my recipe, just as I had made it last because I must have finally got the proportions right. I have to say, I think it was the best batch yet.
This recipe serves 8 and is well balanced with a fresh green salad and a glass of wine.


250g minced meat
2 tbsp crushed garlic
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 chicken stock cubes
1 can diced tomato pieces
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
1 ½ box lasagne pasta sheets
2 cups milk
1 cup grated tasty cheese
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain flour
¼ cup fine parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 180C.
Heat some oil in a large saucepan. Brown the meat over medium heat, separating with a spoon the mince so as not to clump. Add garlic and onion. When the onion has softened, add crumbled stock cubes, tomato and grated carrot and zucchini. Combine well and set over a low heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, place milk, flour and butter together over low heat. Stir until butter has melted and the flour has smoothly combined with the milk. Add the grated cheese and stir continuously until thick and cheesy. Remove from heat.
In a large baking dish, lay down enough pasta sheets to cover the base. Cover with sauce and continue to layer pasta sheets and sauce. The top should be covered with pasta sheets. Pour the white sauce over this last layer and smooth. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until pasta softens and the top of the lasagna is golden.
Serves 8

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can't go Past Old Family Favourites

Melbourne born and bred, I have to say that currently living in Brisbane, I miss my home city's amazing food culture. Ah to step down through Lygon Street again! Any given street for that matter. The patisseries, quaint bakeries and hidden cafes I took for granted! Ah me.
Well, when my mother came to visit me, she brought with her some of her home cooking, some old family favourites which reminded me of all the food I used to have access to, and as mentioned, take for granted. I had to steal this recipe...its going to be a staple in our house from now on! (and then after a few weeks I might have to rename my blog to Chubby Hubby--although, I'm pretty sure that one's taken)


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 190C.
Melt butter and remove from heat. Stir through the cocoa and brown sugar until combined.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Next, blend in the flour, walnuts and salt. Spread in an 8 inch greased pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool and then ice, later cutting into squares.


Combine approximately 2 cups of icing sugar with 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Stir through enough cream (maybe 1/4 cup) to get a thick, glossy icing to spread.

If you want the brownies to be even more moist, subtract a tablespoon or so of flour. YUM!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I don't Cook on Days that End in Y

Good news then, all ye non-cookers! This is a cooking-free experience. There is no need to turn the oven on at all. So you can still hold your dinner parties this summer without getting hot and flustered in the kitchen...well....at least while making this dessert.
After a hefty meal, while every one moves their belts along to the next notch, I like to peek at the upcoming dessert and know its light enough for everyone to still enjoy without overdoing it. Puddings are great, but can be heavy and need to be served after a lighter, or smaller, meal.
This recipe is great for summer. Refreshing, light and served chilled, this easy and quick recipe will blow your socks off...and your guests!


2x 85g packets Port Wine Jelly Crystals
1x 85g packet Strawberry Jelly Crystals
3 cups boiling water
375ml can evaporated milk
strawberries to garnish

Dissolve Port Wine jelly crystals in 2 cups of boiling water. Refrigerate until chilled, but not set.
Meanwhile, beat evaporated milk for a few minutes on high until thick and foamy. Stir the cooled jelly through evaporated milk.
Pour into 8-10 individual dessert glasses. Refrigerate to set, covered in plastic wrap.
Cut strawberries into slices length-ways. Decorate the mousse surface in each glass.
Dissolve the strawberry jelly crystals in 1 cup of boiling water. When cool, ladle over the strawberries, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate to set.
Serve as is or with cream and an extra garnish.

NOTES: you may use any type of jelly crystals and any type of fruit. You can even jazz it up by mixing fresh fruit or grated chocolate through the mousse.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Food for Thought

Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table. The Anarchist Cookbook

The only reason my husband and I recently bought a dining suite was so that we could hold dinner parties. I don't tend to plan them much, but I do like to have an amazing dessert in mind to finish off the night with a sigh...usually teetering on regret at our own gluttony, but mainly out of relief that there is nothing more to come that we cannot resist!
I discovered this recipe a while ago, and as we had the in-laws around last night, I attempted the surprisingly easy Rocky Road Ice-cream Tart. Anyone would think I was trying to butter up my father-in-law. Apparently Rocky Road is another of his favourites!
This recipe easily serves 8 people. Be sure to defrost it for a few minutes before cutting!


1.25 litres vanilla ice-cream
250g plain chocolate biscuits, coarsely broken
125g unsalted butter, melted
250g marshmallows, chopped
100g chocolate buttons
12 funsized Twix chocolate bars or 12 Ferrero Rocher, chopped
100g dark chocolate, chopped
160ml (2/3 cup) pouring cream
60ml  (1/4 cup) Frangelico (optional)

Place ice-cream in a large bowl and refrigerate until softened.

Meanwhile, process broken biscuits in a food processor until resembling fine breadcrumbs.Combine with the melted butter until both ingredients binds.

Gently press this mixture into a 3.5cmx25cm fluted tart tin. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

Remove the ice-cream from refrigerator and fold through the marshmallows and chocolate buttons.

Arrange the broken Twix or Ferrero Rocher over the base of the tart. Pour the ice-cream over the top and smooth, pushing the ice-cream mixture to the edges of the tart. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight or until firm.

To make the sauce to top this dessert with, place cream, liqueur (if desired) and chocolate in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until smooth. Serve warm over tart.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Clean Kitchen is a Sign of a Wasted Life...

...or so they say. I like to think its true, (or hope it is!) as my kitchen almost always looks like a bomb has hit it when I'm cooking. Needless to say, I am happier when my kitchen is clean, unless I'm in the middle of baking.
One of my pet peeves however, is the recipe that requires the use of all bowls, pots and pans that you possess, and makes an even bigger mess than need be. Often if the recipe is re-ordered, you can save a lot of time cleaning extra aftermath at the sink. Honestly, I don't have that many spare bowls for each individual ingredient to sit in and look pretty. Sometimes you have to re-order the recipe, or improvise when it comes to cooking gear. In fact, in this recipe, I used a wine bottle as a rolling-pin and a small asian-style tea cup as a cookie cutter.
A note of warning though: this recipe is a bit messy and fiddly, but well worth the trouble! (and requires a lot of cleaning afterwards)
But...there is little so satisfying as replicating a childhood crave, oh the nostalgia! Little did I know when I made these delicious Wagon-Wheels, that they are one of my father-in-laws favourites. When my husband came home and saw what I had made, there soon after was a call to his father, and before you knew it,  there was a knock on the door!


250g butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
375g plain flour
1/2 cup strawberry jam
2 cups marshmallows
2 tbsp. lemonade
400g dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 170C, and line oven trays with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl for 5 minutes until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and the yolk, then gently fold in the flour until a soft dough forms.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, approximately 6mm thick. Using an 8cm round biscuit cutter, make 24 discs. Arrange discs on the trays and freeze for 5 minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Put marshmallows and lemonade in a pan on the stove to melt, whisking continuously until liquidised for approximately 5 minutes.Remove from heat.
Put jam in microwave on high for 30 seconds or until boiling.
Brush undersides of the cooked biscuits with hot jam, and wedge together with a spoon of marshmallow. Set aside to cool. Dip biscuits in melted chocolate  to cover completely. Cool thoroughly before serving.

Notes: alternately, for marshmallow filling, slice marshmallows into thirds and melt between hot jam-spread biscuits. This creates less mess, plus minimises the stickiness and cleanup time in the kitchen. If you do go with the marshmallow melting, don't worry about sticky overflow, the chocolate covers any mess nicely.

Monday, September 20, 2010

If You Want Breakfast in Bed...Sleep in the Kitchen

Whether he knows it or not, my husband is my inspiration and motivation in the kitchen. Before I met him, I found little joy in cooking for myself alone. My satisfaction at my own successes was the size of a crumb without someone to share it with.
Now I love being in the kitchen. Since I have been married, I feel, through him, I have come  such along way. I have come so far as to even venture from my warm covers now and then on a rainy weekend to make him breaky in bed!  It's the only way to start a good weekend!
Recently for a lazy, late Saturday breakfast, I threw the idea of a healthy meal out the window and made pancakes for a treat. You can add your choice of topping, as this recipe is great for both sweet and savory taste buds. Scrumptious and ever so easy!


1 cup Self-Raising Flour
1 cup milk
1 egg

Combine ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix until combined and form a batter.
Heat a little oil or butter in a large fry-pan over a medium heat.
Ladle some of the mixture onto the frypan and cook. When bubbles rise and burst on the top of the batter, its time to turn the pancake to cook on the other side, until light and golden.
Serve with your choice of topping. 

Bon Appitite!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I don't even butter my bread; I consider that cooking...

What, you cant cook? You poor unfortunate. The good news is it really is just as simple as following a recipe. Easy peasy.
Before I got married, I knew I had to find a man who could had the basic culinary skills, loved being in the kitchen and had a taste for the savouries (so he wouldnt eat my sweets). 
I found him. His food, through my stomach, was the way to my heart. I like to think we make the perfect team--he is the experimental "lets put this and that in", and I tend to play it a little safer and go by the book...throwing in my own artistic splash at the end.  (and since, I have unfortunately converted him to sweets..which means I have to share).
Still, I like to think of myself as an experimental cook-in-the-making, with a passion for the sweets and attempting to make simple edibles look impressive. Its amazing what a drizzle of chocolate or a sprinkle of icing sugar can do, if you just have the ideas. My aim is to inspire the basic cook or non-cook with exciting recipes that look and taste fantastic...so get the apron on!


1 Egg white
1/4 cups caster sugar
your choice of icing

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with nonstick paper.
Separate the egg and beat the white until stiff peaks form when electric beater is lifted.
Add sugar gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat well after each addition, ensuring that the sugar dissolves. To test this, take a little between your fingertips  to feel if the texture is smooth or gritty. Beat until thick, smooth and glossy, and stiff peaks form.
Pipe into small peaks on the tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes. 
Cool in oven with door ajar.
Wedge like-sized meringues together with your choice of icing, chocolate or lemon curd.