Friday, January 31, 2014

Shabby Chic Bridal Shower Hightea

It's been quiet around the blog since my camera gave up the ghost, despite the fact I have been quite busy in the kitchen. Christmas Holidays meant taking time off to be with the family, but I had a few parties in the mix too. One of which was a gorgeous shabby chic style high tea held in honor of a friend who was to be married. It was for her bridal shower and screamed all things feminine and girlie. I themed the menu so that everything was decadent and pink, featuring roses and sugared rose petals, pearls and floral fondant toppers. Teapots sporting beautiful roses, delicate ferns, and lisianthus decked a table strewn with cake stands and champagne glasses, tiered high tea trays and pretty china saucers. Our poison was sweet moscato, with the addition of old fashioned pink lemonade for the non drinkers, and we also had some Rose on the side.
The trays were piled with ornately decorated cupcakes, mini banoffee tarts, mini lemon meringue tarts, pink lamingtons, cake pop skewers, pastel meringues, coconut ice domes topped with edible roses, jelly cheesecake shots, dark chocolate cointreau truffles, white chocolate Tia Maria truffles, dark chocolate royals, and a strawberry topiary.
And, as you can see, one of my Christmas presents was a nice camera, which I was able to take these photos with. I am still working out all the settings and getting used to it, so please bare with me for a while while the photos are not at their best. I will eventually get there! (If you wish for any of the recipes for the above menu, click on the word above--it will take you to the recipe link. Any that are not linked up, these recipes are yet to come! Keep checking back!)

Shabby Chic Bridal Shower Hightea

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Marshmallow and Strawberry Jam Slice

I expect my husband's former colleagues will now be free to withdraw from their gym memberships. Those yoga buffs in the Botanical Gardens will have to go elsewhere to seek their clients. (Seriously yogis and personal trainers, we could go into business here--I keep them eating and you keep them working it off. Win win situation) Belts will once more be able to be tightened, notch after notch.
Seriously, I'm going to have to start finding other places to off load the goodie boxes. At least until all the "I will not indulge in sweet food" new years resolution wears off, and people begin to succumb once more to the beckoning of the truffles and slices and cakes.
Is there anyone out there that hasn't decided to eat more healthily this year? I'll take that as a no. Don't worry, the pictures of recipes on this blog are all completely fat free--if you can resist the temptation to make them.
Even the queen of sugar here has been painstakingly closing her eyes to the come-hither look that comes at me from the slice box every time I open the refrigerator. Marshmallow and jam slice lays cut into squares within, just waiting to be eaten.
Truth be told, I almost didn't send this slice along to Luke's work for morning tea with his collegues. "Luke" I said "I dont know if I can send this slice, it may just have to stay home with me. I just cut it up, and it looks pretty messy."
I left the kitchen and returned some ten minutes later to find the slice on the bench somewhat reduced in size. "I think we may have--mice"
The tell tale strand of sticky marshmallow trialling down my husband's chin made me laug, and then he said "You have to let me take this to work!"
So reluctantly I put the messy looking slice into the catering box and shipped it off with hubby the next morning. He returned to tell me it had been a hit, and I must put up the recipe on the blog--so here it is.
Fear not the stringy sticky mess! I found out the next day, while cutting the remainder of the slice, that if I had only let it cool down a little more before dipping the blade into it, I would have come out with neatly cut squares. After refrigeration, the marshmallow had reset and it was simple and mess free to cut. Unfortunately I took the photos of the slice after cutting it the first time, so it does look a little oozy...but oh so good!



1/3 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 cup plain flour3
Weet-Bix, crushed
150g butter, melted
2/3 cup strawberry jam
400g marshmallows (I used Pascal's berry swirl marshmallows)

Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160C if your oven is fan forced). Grease and line a  18 x 28cm slice or lamington tray with baking paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, coconut, flour and crushed Weet Bix. Combine well, then stir the melted butter in until well incorporated.
Using the back of a spoon or fork, flatten this mixture into the lined tray and press down until there is an even layer on the bottom.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden.
Remove from oven and spread the warm base with the jam. Arrange the marshmallows on the top of the jam to cover the entire surface. Return to the oven for about 7 minutes until marshmallow begins to soften. Place underneath the grill on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute for a slightly browned top.
Cool completely before cutting.

NOTES: For clean cuts, use a wet blade. Slice is best served the day it is made, or the day after. Ensure it is stored in an air tight container.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cajun Seasoning Grilling Rub

I love seasoning meat, especially chicken, with this delicious Cajun grilling rub. Eliot's Eats has cleverly put together a series of yummy meat rubs and packaged them up like you see in the gourmet gift section of specialty stores. These little bottles of herby, salty meat rubs were beautifully packaged in a wooden cigar box.
Still on my Christmas and family holiday hangover, and very disorganized in the blogging department, I left my Secret Recipe Club assignment to the last minute, and was very blessed to find a yummy, quick recipe to make, which also created a very tasty dinner for my husband at the end of the day. Don't forget to check out the other seasonings at Eliot's Eats that you can make to complete a seasoning gift pack! It's particularly hard to find presents for men, and I think this one would just about cover it for most--plus, it's DIY, awesomely unique, personalised, and who doesn't like meat? Okay vegans and vegetarians, I wasn't talking to you.


5 tsp. paprika
4 tsp. fine sea salt
4 tsp. garlic powder
4 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried thyme

Combine all ingredients.
Place in a zip lock bag until ready to use or bottle to give as a gift.
For a recipe idea, check out this delicious Cajun chicken with mango and avocado salsa. Dinner sorted!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tia Maria White Chocolate Truffles

Fits of laughter erupt from the kitchen. There's a thump, then there's giggles. Some one-glass-wonder has eaten too many white chocolate truffles, laced with Tia Maria, by the looks of things. My husband walks into the kitchen to find me writhing on the floor in fits of laughter.
Just kidding.
But sometimes I feel like I could end up like this at someone's party. An embarrassing moment when you have one rum ball too many. Honestly I wouldn't put it past myself, after being pregnant and not having alcohol for close to a year, I'm way out of practice, and even a few sips of wine now does my head in. I was already a one (or two) glass wonder to begin with.
Friends--don't be horrified if this happens at your house when you next get me around, I assure you it's unintentional. Bear with me while I get my liver going again, and I can have half a glass again without getting "tiddly."
But don't worry, there's very little liqueur in these delicious and easy and moreish truffles. There's just enough to make it taste delectably adult-only, with its coffee and slight rum taste that is Tia Maria, combined with the sweetness of the white chocolate and that bitterness of the cocoa powder each truffle is rolled in. It's dark, rich and handsome. And we all know that's a winning combination.

TIA MARIA WHITE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES (Adapted from Australian Good Taste Magazine, April 2013, pg 105)

200g white chocolate (I used cooking chocolate to ensure firmness)
1/2 cup thickened cream
1-2 tbsp. Tia Maria liqueur
1/2 cup cocoa powder to coat

Break up the chocolate into a medium sized, heat proof bowl. Add the cream and stir through the chocolate. Place this bowl in the microwave, and heat on high at 20 second increments, stirring between these periods until the chocolate is evenly melted. Add the Tia Maria. Thoroughly stir until the cream and the melted chocolate and liqueur comes together as one. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to firm up.
After this firming period, remove from the refrigerator and use a teaspoon to scoop out rough, walnut sized balls. Use damp hands to roll each portion into a smoother ball. Return to the refrigerator to firm up further if necessary, especially in warmer weather. Roll these balls in cocoa powder. Refrgerate until ready to serve.

Makes about 12

NOTES: After sitting in the refrigerator, often the cocoa powder will have absorbed some moisture. Just re-roll the truffles in a little extra cocoa powder before serving. Variation: use the same quantity of dark chocolate and add Cointreau to it in place of the Tia Maria.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cloudy Pink Old Fashioned Lemonade

 This little beauty of a recipe was copied down into a little note pad in grey lead pencil when I was about 8 years old. It comes out of a 1950's kid's cookbook, and was by far my favourite thing to make in the kitchen at that age. It's so simple and so tasty, and a great way to keep the kids both occupied and cool in the summer holidays. It's the best home made lemonade recipe I have come across--it pleases kids and adults alike. It's old fashioned goodness--cloudy, sweet and lemony, without gassy bubbles. These days lemonade is rarely without fizziness, and I have had a few people recommend, after a glass of this refreshing drink, that I should add bubbles to it. I personally like it the way it is--it reminds me of how it would have been way back when that cookbook was written--chilling in Granny's fridge in a tea-towel covered jug. You could add sparking water to the concentrated lemonade in place of the cold water if desired however, to modernise it if preferred. Prepare yourself for a refreshing crowd pleaser! This is a frequently requested recipe.


1 cup sugar
3 lemons, juiced (1/2 cup)
4 cups cold water
drop or two of red or pink food colouring

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Strawberry Topiary

As a table centre peice for a shabby chic style high tea, I thought a strawberry topiary would work a treat. It stood 40cm tall and stood atop a french provincial style candle stand I purchased from Dusk. It brought out "wows" from the guests and they all enjoyed pulling a couple off each during the afternoon tea I threw. I recommend placing this in the centre of a round table within arms reach of all your guests. I made the mistake of placing this in a place where only one side of a table could reach, and topiary was picked at from one side and the ball ended off overbalancing in the end because one side was all strawberries and the other was bare. If you cant place this in the centre of a small round table, I recommend rotating the topiary every so often, so that the strawberries are taken from all sides.
This would be great on a table at Christmas, for a baby shower, wedding or any sort of girlie or feminine party. It looks decadent and fancy as a table centrepeice while offering your guests a fresh, healthy, gluten free fruit option.

Step by Step Strawberry Topiary How To

You will need:

6x 250g punnets of strawberries
1x 15 cm Styrofoam ball
1x candle holder or similar stand (this must have a metal prong in the centre to secure the ball)
cocktail toothpicks
a small knife

Secure the styrofoam ball in the centre of the candle holder. The stand you choose should have a metal spike in the centre to hold the ball on securely. Glue may be another option if your stand doesn't have a spike in the centre.

Cut the leaves from the strawberries. Cut as closely to the leaves as possible, taking off as little fruit as you can. Keeping a little bit of the "woody" part of the top of the strawberry helps in holding it to the toothpick, so it doesnt just slide off. Reserve the leaves for the final touches of the topiary. These will be used to fill any gaps in the completed topiary.

You will see above that the toothpick is inserted into some of the harder part on the top of the strawberry. This is the goal in the following steps--it doesn't have to be completely centred as long as its well secured in the strawberry. Unlike the picture above, the toothpick goes into the foam ball partway before the strawberry is inserted.

Insert one toothpick partway into the top of the foam ball. Positioning is not very important yet, but it helps if you put the strawberries on the ball evenly so that the ball does not overbalance as you are creating the topiary.

 Push the strawberry onto the toothpick, ensuring that the wood is driven through the thick/woodier part of the strawberry top.

 Carefully push the strawberry downwards to the foam ball. If the toothpick end pops through the top point, ensure you push subsequent toothpicks a little further into the foam ball before topping with the strawberry.

Continue this method over the top of the styrofoam ball.Do not worry to much if there are gaps, as these will be later filled with the strawberry leaves.Try however to limit the size of any gaps, choosing strawberries that are the best size for particular areas.

Continue securing the strawberries until the entire surface is covered in strawberries.

Take the strawberry leaves to fill any gaps (I should have used more but I was in a hurry to snap this photo before guests arrived. Alternatively use clusters of mint leaves for larger gaps--this is also very aromatic and offers a breath freshener to your guests too)