Monday, December 19, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

 My favourite days of the month are The Secret Recipe Club's reveal days, when all those delightfully gourmet photographs appear at once on club members pages. It's the time I feast my eyes on other people's creations and marvel at the  new windows of opportunity opening around me.  So much deliciousness, so little time!
This month I was privileged to receive an assignment to work from the blog Simply. Food.
I am always fascinated by other people's food blogs and the way they go about their kitchens and their food lives. Simply Food is a blog dedicated to vegetarian cooking, keeping it simple and delicious. The blog is full of delightful recipes and I had a hard time choosing, once again. As you may know, my "food life" is sweet and perhaps sometimes a bit too complicated, so it was refreshing to see so many simple yet effective (and obviously mouth watering) recipes on this blog.
I decided to take that simplicity and make it festive, for the Christmas season ahead of us, with Simply. Food's Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.
I had bought quite giant strawberries grown in Victoria, so I halved the recipe from the sure to check out Simply Food's version! And enjoy!


12 ripe strawberries, room temperature
200g white chocolate
Edible gold dust or other decoration (such as sprinkles, edible stars, coconut)
12 Toothpicks or skewers

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, checking and stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Insert one toothpick into each centre of the green leafy part of each strawberry. Dip the strawberries one by one into the melted chocolate, then dipping into your choice of decoration while still slightly wet. If you are using edible gold dust, use a small brush to sprinkle the powder over the chocolate. Lay aside to set before serving.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gingerbread Christmas Boxes

If you're looking for a different and tasty way to wrap up small gifts this Christmas, you might be interested in this gingerbread alternative to cellophane or gift wrap.
These little edible boxes are ideal for those little gifts for friends like homemade biscuits, truffles and chocolates. They are adorable and are sure to bring oohs and ahhs all around.

GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS BOXES (reworded from the Coles Christmas Magazine 2011)

125g butter, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg, separated
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 3/4 cups icing sugar
Cachous to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined.
Add sifted flour, bicarb soda and ginger. Stir through with a butter knife until a dough forms.
Gather dough together and turn out onto a sheet of non stick baking paper. Divide into two even amounts.
Wrap one portion in cling wrap and set aside.
Roll the other portion out into a rectangle about 26cm x 18cm and trim the sides to neaten. Cut dough into 12 even pieces (four rows of three). Transfer squares to a greased and lined baking sheet with a little room for spreading. Place tray in the fridge to chill while you repeat this method with the remaining dough.
Bake the first tray for 10 minutes while chilling the second tray. Leave the squares on the tray for 5 minutes to cool before removing.
Place the melted white chocolate in a piping bag and use to "glue" the edges to form boxes. Leave to set.
Whisk egg white until frothy, then gradually add sifted icing sugar to form a stiff paste. Place in a piping bag and use to fill any gaps in the joins of the gingerbread boxes. Decorate with cachous. Pipe a cross on the lid of each box. Leave to set before filling.

Mango Chilli and Lime Aioli with Prawns

 My husband is an amazing cook. I'm not just saying that because he's my husband, it's a fact, and a sweet one at that. A man that can cook and will cook and enjoys it! There should be many more of them.
Anyway, we've decided to get the family over for Boxing Day celebrations. As seafood lovers, my husband and I have decided to have prawns for appetizers before dinner, and we found the most amazing accompaniment for those orange and white babies. We jut had to try it before hand to make sure of the fact. This recipe has been adapted by my husband from Curtis Stone's Christmas Magic. So tasty!


1 small mango, peeled, stone removed
1.5 tsp fresh peeled ginger, chopped finely (we used Gourmet Garden Ginger paste)
1 tsp chilli garlic sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

Place mango, ginger, chilli and lime juice in the food processor and blend until a puree forms. Add egg yolk and pulse until combined. With the motor still running, add the oil until you reach a smooth creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and add coriander.

NOTES: This aioli can be made a day ahead as the flavours develop over time. You can also use sweet chilli sauce instead of chilli garlic sauce. Serve with prawns.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Golden Roast Potato Salad

It's got a bit of crunch. It's got a fresh tangy bite. It's mellow at the same time and looks divine...and tastes even better. All golden and roasted.
Why not jazz up the potato salad this Christmas? The pasty, soggy potato salad is a thing of the past, or could be, if you take a chance and try this combo.
It recently hit me that I had never seen a roasted potato salad, and wondered why on earth it had never come into my little mind until then. So I set about making it, with huge success. Yes, it takes a little more time than the slushy potato salad you see in the supermarkets and on dinner tables as a standard, but its so worth it. You will never want to look at another potato salad again!


5 large potatoes, diced
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1 stick of celery, sliced thinly
3 rashers bacon, fried till crispy
fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped roughly

Peel and chop potatoes into bite sized pieces. Place potato in a large saucepan and cover with water; boil for a little while until beginning to soften (but not too soft or it will just fall to bits). Remove from heat and drain.
Coat potato with a little oil and pop in the oven on a roasting tray, turning occasionally until roasted as desired. Cool. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and add potato.
Toss gently to combine. Serve.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homemade Bounty Bars

This is by far one of the simplest, most delicious recipes I have come across in my lifetime.
Not only is it simple and scrumptious, its very close to the real thing--yes, I'm talking Bounty Bars. I've had near-death experience with my love for coconut over the years, but Bounty bars and I--our affair has never been on the rocks. There's just something so undeniably delicious about that moist coconut centre and the outer chocolate layer, and the attraction gets even stronger with the use of dark chocolate over milk..And here's another thing. It's quite delicious before the chocolate dipping process, so if you have the self control I can't muster, you could always leave the chocolate off (if you're weight conscious but still want to have a treat).


3 cups dessicated coconut
200g sweetened condensed milk
1/2-3/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla essence
350g dark chocolate, melted

Combine the coconut and condensed milk in a large bowl. Add enough icing sugar to make a stiff mixture.Add the vanilla and stir until well combined.
Press with a fork into a greased and lined 20x20cm tin and refrigerate overnight until hardened.Cut into 24 bars, coat in melted chocolate and serve when set.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Easi-yo Homemade Yogurt Cheat

I'm sure the New Zealand company Easi-yo won't be all that pleased that I found this money saving cheat. Well--of course many have found it before me, but I wanted to share it all the same for those who have not heard how you can save a few dollars on this deliciousness and get more for your money. My son and I would eat about a litre of yogurt a day if it was possible, and now it is. Without the expense.
And, unlike so many of the recipes on here, its very healthy for you.
So listen up!
You can purchase a packet of dry yogurt mix for around $4, and for those who aren't familiar with Easi-yo, all that needs to be added to this formula is water. The mixture sits in a canister in a thermos of hot water for about 8 hours, and voila! You have yourself a litre of creamy, thick and healthy yogurt.
$4 doesn't seem like much, but if you're eating a litre a day, its worth listening. If you look at the ingredients on the back of the packet, the main ingredient is  powdered milk.
So you can really quarter it, and get 4 litres of yogurt out of one packet as opposed to one litre if you add enough full cream milk powder, and its just as good! You do lose a bit of the original flavour, but you can serve it with fruit if you need the extra kick for your taste buds.

For demonstration purposes, we will simply make two litres from one packet, to simplify the process.

1/2  packet (1 cup) dry Easi-yo yogurt mix
1 cup full cream milk powder
500ml cold water
extra water to top up
1/4 cup sugar, optional
Easi-yo canister

Fill the Easi-yo canister up half  way with the 500ml of water. Add the powdered ingredients, close the lid and shake until mixed through the water. Add sugar if desired. Fill the canister to the top with extra water. Fill the thermos to the top of the red insert with boiling water.
Place the yogurt canister inside the thermos, close the lid and leave for 8 hours before removing and  refrigerating. Save the remaining dry packet mixture for your next batch!

NOTES: There are two cups of dry yogurt powder in the packets. Use the ratio 1 cup of milk powder to 1 of dry yogurt mix.