Saturday, August 27, 2011

How To Make Perfect Vanilla Egg Custard

There is little I love more than a good custard. I'm a fan of the powdered custard you can buy, but more so the authentic, slave-away-at-the-stove with a whisk, egg custard. There is something so irresistible about the real deal, especially when vanilla beans are used.  Okay, they're not in everyone's baking budget so lets just say that Queen Vanilla Essence Flavouring is just as good unless you're a chef in a restaurant...because those genuine babies suck away at the dollars!
The only problem with the real-deal egg custard is that often people are discouraged by scrambling egg particles in their not so smooth end result. Ewww! Another batch in the bin.
After attempting egg custard a few times, I feel I now have it down-pat, and have an amazing patisserie recipe to boot.
Now I haven't taken any "in-the-process" photos like I would have, I was too busy whisking away frantically. And people wonder why my biceps are so impressive.
Just kidding. But you will need a bit of power in those arms.

Step 1: Custard should only be attempted when you are child, pet and distraction free. All you need is a good 15 minutes. I never even go near the custard making process when my son is awake. You're doomed if you do! You're bound to have a disaster occur at the custard's crucial moment of "becoming"...a kiddy packing a number 3 into that nappy or the cat getting half swallowed by the toilet. So pop the bub to bed, put the cat outside and turn off the TV.

Step 2: Prepare ahead. Measure out the ingredients, separate the eggs, and have them at arms reach along with these instructions. Fill the sink with a few inches of cold water for when the saucepan comes off the stove (this reduces further cooking of the custard in the pot once you've finally ceased whisking at the end). Put the milk on to boil and arm your self with the whisk. You may want to stretch those biceps a few times before getting into the vigorous whisking process.

Step 3: Don't stop whisking, from the very beginning to the very end! It's always well worth the elbow-grease.

Other Tips: Inconsistencies are often a result of the custard sitting on the bottom of the saucepan too long, so don't even stop whisking for a moment. That's really the most important thing. Egg white in the custard also causes problems, so when you're separating the eggs, make sure you get as much egg white off the yolk as possible. This includes those horrid, thick, white clumps that are often attached to the yolk. Get rid of them!

Now for the awesome recipe, seeing as you're all prepared for the delicious smoothness that is now promised.


2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cornflour
40g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence

Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, combine yolks, sugar and cornflour and whisk over a low heat. When the milk has boiled, add a few tablespoons into the yolk mixture and whisk. Gradually add the remaining milk and whisk vigorously on a medium heat. Custard will thicken. Continue to whisk until boils, and remove from heat. Scrape into a small bowl and sit in a few inches of cold water or ice, to cease the cooking process. When cooler, add the butter in 3-4 installments, stirring until combined. Add essence, mix and refrigerate. Stores for 2-3 days.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healthy and Delicious Snacks--Disguising Greens!

Lucky is the mother who is able without an effort to get greens down the delicate gullets of her young ones...and her husband! I have trouble getting myself to eat red meat, and its always an effort getting the greens into my boys.
I had half a packet of baby spinach in the fridge that looked like it was on its way out, so I chopped it and used it in something that turned out to be appetisisng for all involved!
You can use any leftover vegies in this recipe, and its super versatile.
You can even use these basic vegie stuffed meatballs for entertaining! My 15 month old son begs for them, and snacks on them while playing around the house.
I popped these into a left over rice dish and turned it into a new meal, and Hubby dipped them into salsa for a afternoon snack...yum! Get the greens into them! By disguising!


500g minced beef
250g baby spinach leaves, chopped very finely
1 medium carrot, grated finely
1 small onion, cut finely
salt to taste
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cummin
1/2 tsp. ground corriander
pinch of sweet paprika
Any other vegies hanging about (tomatoes, grated zucchini etc)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and cook in three or four batches until meatballs are browned.
Serve with salsa, sour cream or on their own...or pop into a meal!

Makes around 30

NOTES: you could make these into rissoles also. They would also be delicious in a wrap with salad!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flourless Choc Peanut-butter Biscuits

Gluten Free goods...there seems to be an increase in the popularity and the necessity to have these recipes more available, and a few people have asked me if I have any good ones. And I do!
You may have noticed I have got my non-tech act together and made a list of recipe catagories on the right side of my page so its easier for followers to find the recipes they are looking for. Please feel free to browse. I hope this suffices until I work out how to make a real recipe index.
I have always felt a bit sorry for people with gluten intolerance. But I do not feel sorry for you after making these biscuits...they're so yummy! I bet you can't stop at just one!


1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. bicarb soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup mini dark chocolate buttons

Preheat the oven at 200C. Lightly grease and line baking trays.
Combine peanut butter, sugar, bicarb soda and egg in a medium bowl. Stir in chocolate buttons.
(Mixture will appear very sticky but that's okay)
Take teaspoons of mixture and slide off onto the tray using your thumb, forming rough ball shapes. Ensure there is room on the tray for spreading. Bake until golden for 8-10 minutes. Cool before removing.

Makes 30

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Apricot Marshmallow Log

There are so many different types of cooks.

The type who burns water and cant for the life of him understand how everything ends up black. Its rocket science!

The type who, will as they try, just fail every time with every recipe, and are convinced they should never try again.

The careful, follow the recipe to the last period type of cook, who fears to adventure out and add salt to the meal.

The is art, art is food.The two are rarely separated.

The confident and daring gourmet type who looks like a madman to the on-looker. Amazing creations arise from  the most unlikely combinations.

The type who eats to live, not lives to eat. Often it is meat and vegies every meal, and if anything varies, its mashed potato instead of baked potatoes.

The specialty cook. This type only cooks one or two things, and does so amazingly. They vary only within their chosen catagories.

The slap it together type of cook.  You never know how this one's going to turn out!

There are more types of cooks, but generally they're a branch of another variety. I believe most people are a bit of a combination! What type of cook are you?

APRICOT MARSHMALLOW LOG (adapted from Taste)

250g arrowroot biscuits
1 cup diced dried apricots
100g marshmallows, diced
395g can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup desiccated coconut

Place the biscuits in a food processor and process until crushed. Combine the crushed biscuits, dried apricots, marshmallows and condensed milk in a large bowl.
Place a large sheet of non-stick baking paper on a flat surface. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the coconut over the sheet. Press the mixture evenly over the coconut. Use the paper as a guide to roll the mixture into a thick log. Sprinkle over the extra coconut. Press the log firmly and twist the ends to tighten.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Cut into slices to serve.

Monday, August 22, 2011

All Things Lemony

Back by popular demand, is citrus. I know, I know, I promised not to post any more recipes concerning lemons limes and oranges. It seems to be the time of year that citrus is flourishing however, and we must take advantage of that! When I was a kid we had a fantastic lemon tree in the back yard. It seemed to have a perpetual load of huge lemons hanging off it. My brother and I used to eat them on occasion, and see who could hold the straightest face. I now hear that downs-syndrome children are particular to eating Its a great source of vitamin C.
A fresh lemon squeezed onto the hands can also rid those unpleasant onion and garlic smells that can otherwise linger for days on a cook's hands, no matter how many times you wash them. I hear lemons are also great cleaning agents around the house, and people scrub out their refrigerators with them. But I still think lemons are best for eating on the whole...Margaret Fulton says she uses them in just about every dish, as it adds a certain zing to the meals. It's time to get a lemon tree!

Anyway, I know it seems kind of summery, but a lovely lady I know asked if I had a good lemonade recipe, and I promised her I would pop it up on the blog. Its an age old one that comes from a recipe book we used as kids...very 1950's and always falling apart at the binding from use. Its a true winner. I have been making it ever since I discovered it when I was about 7 years old. I recently made it for a picnic and one friend thought it would also be nice made with soda water. I don't know how it would go, but if anyone tries that, please let me know! I am also adding a very special recipe at the end, passed on from my dear Oma, God rest her soul. Its for her famous lemon cordial, and although I have not made it yet, I do remember drinking glasses of it at my Grandparent 's house! It's on my to do list! Thanks to my cousin Adam for sharing it with us!


1 cup sugar
3 lemons, juiced (1/2 cup)
4 cups cold water

Put the sugar and 1 cup of water into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Boil for five minutes. Then add remaining water and remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and stir through the water. Leave to cool and serve with ice.

Serves 4


10 Lemons = 400mL Juice
1 kg Sugar
700mL Water

Grate the rind of 2 lemons then add to water, boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sugar, dissolve and cool.
Squeeze the juice of the lemons and add the mixture through a sift.
Bottle and store in fridge.
Makes approx. 2 litres.

My son Ben loved sucking on a wedge of lime back in December. His face would turn so sour but he would keep going back for more!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Furry Green Monsters in your Fridge?

I don't know about you, but I am constantly finding food in the back of the fridge that needs to be thrown out. Yes, those furry green monsters no one wants to touch. Okay, it's not that bad...especially as now I have got my act together and decided I will be that Domestic Goddess my husband thinks I am. *giggles*
It is much easier than you think. It depends how determined you are. I suppose there are a lot of factors that go into it, but I decided to begin, I would reorganise my day and prioritise properly.
Starting with the kitchen of course.
After all, a great percentage of the day is spent in that room (as well as that room that harbours the computer, but that's changed too). I bought myself a thick folder, made myself shopping list spreadsheets, pantry inventory lists, menu planners, to do lists, weekly chore planners, the lot, and  set it out all nicely. It now lives on my kitchen bench and looks at me every morning to remind me. Once every fortnight I sit and plan the next fortnight, the meals, the cleaning, the appointments, the things I want to get done.

My house has gone from bomb to bliss! 

The refrigerator has gone from clutter to clean! I know what I have and I know what has to be used, and I plan meals and baking around that. There are no furry monsters hiding way back in the shadows. I have more time to do what I want as well, would you believe? More baking can be slotted in, grocery bills reduced due to menu planning, and I never have to get up and wonder what on earth we are having for dinner that day. I have the kitchen organised and the sink sparkling and the rest of the housework feels like a joy...its done in no time. all it takes!
Are you ready to take the challenge? Get organised? I dare you to start with the green furry monsters.
Did you find a half full can of sweetened condensed milk that's still okay back there? Here's a winner for the sweet tooth's from my mum's archives. Mmmh, citrus! That's what I call a clean taste!


1/2 cup condensed milk
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 packet plain sweet biscuits (such as Marie or Arrowroot biscuits)
125g butter
1 cup coconut
extra coconut to decorate

Place the condensed milk and butter in a small saucepan, and stir over a gentle heat until the butter melts. Stir to combine.
Crush biscuits to resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add lemon rind and coconut to the crumbs and mix well. Add the warm butter mixture and mix until well combined. Press into a greased and lined 11"8" lamington tin with a fork.
Refrigerate for one hour. Ice with lemon icing and sprinkle with coconut if desired. Refrigerate and cut into squares when the icing has set.

NOTES: to make the lemon icing, combine 2-3 cups of pure icing sugar with lemon juice and stir to combine, adding more lemon juice until you reach the desired consistency.

Double Chocolate Fudge Hazelnut Macaroon Cupcakes

I love when a creation keeps building upon itself. I'm still working my way through the million mini chocolate fudge cupcakes that I made and froze. They freeze extremely well, and are just as moist and fudgy on retrieval. What a great idea to keep a few in the freezer for those unexpected guests!
Anyway, I thawed some and meant to ice them for a goodie box I was sending off to someone. It never happened.
I had just trialed a batch of hazelnut macaroons (not the french variety...I'm too scared to attempt them as of yet) and they were sitting side by side on the bench. After killing a few stomachs with coating the cupcakes in too much icing last time, I started to reconsider the whole icing idea. And the little macaroons looked at me with their nutty eyes and cried out to me to be combined. They fitted perfectly on top of the cupcakes and looked so pretty. They tasted even better, the textures went so beautifully together.


GLUTEN FREE HAZELNUT MACAROONS (adapted from Super Food Ideas Magazine, June 2005)

1 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla essence
10-12 whole hazelnuts to decorate
1/4 cup chocolate icing to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line one baking tray.
Combine all ingredients in a clean dry bowl and beat on high until a thick paste comes together.
Using your hands, roll mixture into 10-12 walnut sized balls and press each gently on the top onto the baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
Pipe a small blob of chocolate icing onto the top of each using a small star nozzle. Place a whole hazelnut on the top of each. Serve as is or use to top the cupcakes in the following recipe.

MINI CHOC FUDGE CUPCAKES (these are not gluten free)

125g butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups caster sugar
1/2 heaped cup plain flour
a pinch of baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C.
Melt the butter and the sugar in a saucepan and stir. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl. Pour the butter mixture, eggs, and vanilla into the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. Add the chocolate chips and stir through. Spoon the mixture into a silicone mini muffin tray (alternatively muffin cases) and cook for 20 minutes or until firm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing. Top with a blob of icing and the hazelnut macaroons in the above recipe.

NOTES: This recipe has been halved and should make around 15-18 mini cupcakes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Choc-Jaffa Pastry Cornets

So I am back from the most amazing mini break baby moon in the glorious Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It was so relaxing and peaceful, and the little cottage we stayed in was simply divine. Log fire crackling away, issuing that cherry glow over soft rugs, rain on the tin roof, strawberries, chocolate, and a hot spa *sigh*
Why did it ever have to end?
Somehow I enjoyed not being in the's nice when you don't have to prepare dinner. But when I returned home I felt a real longing to get into the baking again...I felt a part of me was disappearing! Mind you we were only away for a few days, but in that time we ate out at cafes and feasted on the continental breakfast that was delivered to our cottage mini kitchen. I didn't lift a finger!
By the time I got home my mind was once again overflowing with a million culinary ideas. Yes that's right...I lay in bed and my mind automatically creates all sorts of delicious things while I try to fall asleep.
I've been dreaming of these delights for ages. A buttery, pastry horn filled with delicious chocolate goo. A chocolate pastry horn filled with delicious chocolate goo. Chocolate pastry? Yes, I had some trouble finding a good recipe for that, so I tested my luck with puff pastry instead. And it was a success!
The awesome thing about my new discovery of these pastry horns is that you can use them for either sweet or savories. When they came out of the oven, looking cute and golden and perfectly cony, a million savory ideas ripped through my head. Look out for some fresh hors d'oeuvres ideas on here in the near future!


2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
300g good quality dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated
125ml (1/2 cup) light olive oil
2 tsp. orange essence
1 chocolate covered honeycomb bar (Crunchy Bar or Violet Crumble) crushed
100g extra dark chocolate

Melt the chocolate gently in a microwave proof bowl, checking and stirring regularly to ensure it does not burn.
Set aside to cool slightly. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until well incorporated. Gradually add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture, beating well until smooth. Add the oil gradually while beating, and lastly, incorporate the orange flavouring. Set the bowl aside in the refrigerator for 4 hours to set.
Meanwhile, cut the pastry into 20 strips (about 1.5 cm wide). Using metal cones and starting at the top (see note), twist each strip of pastry around, overlapping at the edges to hold, to form a cone. Cook in moderate oven (180C) for 30-35 minutes until golden. Cool for five minutes before gently removing.
Melt the extra chocolate and paint the rims of the pastry cones, dipping in broken honeycomb peices before leaving to set.
Using a piping bag and star nozzle, fill with jaffa mixture and refrigerate to set.

Makes approximately 20

Jaffa filling recipe adapted from Good Taste Magazine April 2007

NOTES: if you do not have the traditional metal horns used for making gingersnap cream horns like this one from TESCOMA

We have a cheap solution--one packet of ice cream wafer cones and some aluminum foil!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lime Sour Cream Cakes

 When ever I go to buy sour cream I am hit with frustration. Its almost impossible to find sour cream that isn't "light". You know how I love my fat.
I'm all for people trying to lose weight if they need to, but "light" products have always given me the irrits. For one, it generally tastes awful in comparison to full-cream (try eating light yogurt and you'll know what I mean) and for another, lots of people use it as an excuse. Which really annoys me.
When I worked in cafes, it was an every day thing for a hugely over weight person to walk in and order a double sized milkshake on "skinny milk" with extra icecream, extra "light" cream, and all the toppings imaginable.
Someone's trying to lose weight. Oh yes! I'm having it all skinny!
Besides the fact I find this a huge joke, its incredibly annoying when someone orders one of those "1/4 strength skinny decaff lattes on soy with no foam and 1/2 a sugar."
I admit it doesn't have much to do with my "skinny" rant, but why bother? Its not even coffee!!
Alright, I'll forgive you if you use light sour cream in this recipe. It probably wont make any difference to the taste at all. Enjoy these babies, they're light, moist and deliciously citrus all at once, you may not be able to stop after one. If this is the case, make sure you eat it along side one of those double sized milkshake on "skinny milk" with extra icecream, extra "light" cream, and all the toppings imaginable--just to avoid putting on the extra weight. You know you want to!

LIME SOUR CREAM CAKES (adapted from )

70g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
125 g (1/2 cup) sour cream
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 tbsp finely grated lime rind
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup icing sugar
1-2 tbsp extra lime juice

Preheat oven to 160°C.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the sour cream and combined flours and stir to combine. Add the lemon rind and juice and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture evenly among the prepared pans and smooth the surface. Place pans on an oven tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove tray from oven and transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Combine enough icing sugar and lime juice to create a thin icing. Drizzle over the cupcakes and leave to dry. Serve.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lemon Sour Cream Butterfly Cakes

When ever I go on and view my blog, my little son runs up to me and wants to get up on my lap, pointing and yelling  "yum! yum!".
And when I'm in the kitchen and the goods are being completed there is no stopping the applause, or the intense frustration from that little guy.

Mind you, he's a real sugar guts. Okay, he gets to lick the spoon, as you can see from his face, but he wants more than that! What can I say...I think he's my biggest fan. Unfortunately he's the one person I wish wasn't such a fan. He'll be a rotten-toothed toddler if I'm not careful! (maybe its a good thing kids teeth fall out after all)
Some of my other known fans are currently joining gymnasiums.
I overheard two talking recently about my baking and one said to the other "I am going to the gym so I can keep eating this stuff of hers."
Now that made me chuckle inside. Sweet on the outside and the inside. Just the way I like it!
Recently I made the chocolate fudge cupcakes in the picture above, and making mini ones, I found myself with dozens of them. So I made a choc-mint variation with mint butter icing swirled high on the top. Just a word of can have too much of a good thing...especially when its on top of mini sized cake! I had someone groaning on the couch from sugar overload after eating three. So eat that icing down in small proportions!
Meanwhile, to get over the super sugar hangover, here's a lovely little recipe for cupcakes without the icing. Pretty little butterfly cakes I'm sure everyone has had as a kid. I still love them!


70g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
125 g (1/2 cup) sour cream
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp lemon juice
whipped cream to top
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 160°C.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the sour cream and combined flours and stir to combine. Add the lemon rind and juice and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture evenly among the prepared pans and smooth the surface. Place pans on an oven tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove tray from oven and transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Whip desired amount of cream.
When cooled, cut the tops of the cupcakes off. Cut eat top in half.
Spoon blobs of cream onto the flat cut top of the cupcakes. Place the detached cake slices on the top of each blob of cream, like wings. Sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate as desired.

Romantic Getaway Chocolates

My darling husband surprised me this weekend by booking a romantic escape for two nights up in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.  It’s a long weekend, part of which is to be spent in front of a log fire in our own little wood cabin, nestled in one of my favourite parts of the world. It’s a beautifully romantic spot and I’m all geared up for it…babymoon here we come!
Does anything say romance than a few nights away from it all…and a box of chocolates?  Mind you the non-alcoholic bubbly will be coming along with us too (I tell you its just as good as the real deal) and plenty of these...


You will need:

A chocolate mold of some sort (unless you mean to make truffles)
Good quality chocolate for the cases
Any of the following filling ingredients.

What to know before starting:

Its worth getting good quality chocolate for your chocolate making adventure. Your chocolates will only be as good as the quality of the chocolate you begin with. Never rush the melting process. A good way to ensure even melting and avoidance of burning, is to have a bowl of boiling water sitting underneath another bowl containing your chocolate. Be sure the bowl containing your chocolate cannot fall into the water as this will curdle your chocolate.
Use of a pastry brush to obtain a good even coating of the bottom and sides of your chocolate mold is ideal. Place these chocolate shells into the freezer for quicker setting time and do not remove until you have filled them with the desired filling and sealed with a finishing layer of melted chocolate. Return to the freezer until set before removing.


An easy and quick way to fill chocolates is to make up some flavoured icing. Using icing sugar, food colouring and essence of your choice, mix with a small amount of water until you get a desired consistence. Fill the pre-made chocolate shells and seal with a layer of melted chocolate. The now flavoured, gooey centres with thicken slightly on setting and will look gorgeous upon biting!


Left over sweets such as cake are a lovely alternative filling, and a surprising one for the recipient. Moisten broken cake with a little cream and spoon into the chocolate shells. Seal with a finishing coat of melted of melted chocolate to finish and remove after further refrigeration.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES (can also be used as a chocolate filling)

250g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup cream

Bring the cream just to the boil in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate to the cream. Beat until the chocolate has melted and both ingredients are well combined. Place in the refrigerator until firm, approximately 1-3 hours. 

You can use as a filling in prepared chocolate cases, finishing them off with a layer of melted chocolate to seal the bottoms. Alternately, you can use a melon scoop to make into ball shapes and then freeze until firm. You have lots of options such as coating in melted chocolate and decorating, or rolling them in cocoa powder, crushed nuts, coconut etc depending on your tastes. You can also add a flavouring such as peppermint essence to the ganache before refrigeration for a variation. Small chunks of apricot, nuts or mints also make interesting additions to your ganache.