Monday, December 14, 2015

Slider Buns -Mini Burger Buns

I've been quite unwell the last 6 months, so I have refrained from doing any new projects. If you've noticed my lull, I appologise-new babies and health problems don't mix well with food blogging. With Christmas on the radar, I am back into cooking! So much of the mirth around Christmas time revolves about food, dinner tables shared with family and friends and an added emphasis on gourmet foods and drinks.
Recently we had a fundraising beer tasting session which I volunteered to cater for to raise money for St Philomena's School in Park Ridge. It's a blossoming little Catholic school where my eldest son is starting prep next year. (Yes, I'm feeling sad already!)
I made lots of scrumptious finger food and thought how well the same food might go at a Christmas party or gathering with friends on Boxing Day.
I did a quick poll on facebook about what foods people would like at the beer tasting, and slider buns came out on top. You know those adorable miniature hamburger buns you sometimes see in magazines and on blogs? Well I couldn't for the life of me find where to get hold of them  (apparently Coles sells them but I'm thinking that might be a grand old myth.)
Well they're the perfect entertaining bread roll. And I needed them.
So I made them from scratch and they were fabulous. Cute even.
Hubby cooked up a pork roast and we shredded it, and threw on a bit of lettuce with mayo for the centres too. Scrum-diddly-umptious!
They were a hit! The favourite of the night by quite a few accounts.
And just on a side note, the beer presenter and connoisseur Matt Kirkgard was nothing short of fabulous. If you ever get the chance to go to one of his tastings, run to it! I don't even like beer and completely enjoyed myself listening to him from the kitchen. It was fascinating and funny and everyone had a wonderful time.
So try out these gorgeous home made mini burger buns. They're perfect for entertaining and will be a big hit on your Christmas table for friends and family big and small. Merry Christmas!

SLIDER BUNS-MINI BURGER BUNS (adapted from Cook Republic)

7g dried yeast
250ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
400g bread flour, extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 250C and line and grease two cookie trays with non stick paper.
In a large bowl, combine yeast and water, and set aside until foamy, approximately 5-10 minutes.
Add the flour and salt. Lightly flour a clean surface. Gently mix the contents of the bowl, and dump this loose dough onto the prepared surface. Kneed for 10 minutes until soft and elastic and well incorporated. Roll the dough into a smooth ball.
Lightly grease a glass bowl and place the dough inside. cover with cling wrap and let it sit to rise for 30 minutes.
It should double in size.
Knock back dough and divide into 24 golf ball sized rounds. Roll them a little bit in your palms to get a nice shape.
Place them on the prepared trays with a generous gap between them to allow for spreading. Cover the trays with clean tea towels and allow them to double in size, about 10-15 minutes.
Beat the egg and blush this egg on the tops of each uncooked roll. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in the preheated oven. Spay the bottom of the oven with water and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Serve warm with your choice of filling. You can also freeze these for 2 months.

Makes 24

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Decadent Flourless Chocolate Torte

When sugar, chocolate and egg come together, it's hard to imagine it becoming a cake without a flour. My amazement is in the gluten free, the slop that looks too runny to become a solid-but does upon baking. If you love gluten free treats and you love being pleasantly surprised in the kitchen, you will die over this scrumptious gluten free chocolate torte-complete with decadent, fudgy centre, crispy, crackly top and lavish deckings of thick cream and strawberries. It's indulgent and chic-the type of food that is impressive in its simplicity. Of course if you're like me and need embellishment, a pile of strawberries and cream in the middle could never go astray...and some edible gold dust is a beautiful enhancement on it's own, especially if this torte is gracing your Christmas table.
There's often  a "healthy" gritty consistency of most gluten free things I have eaten-but not this one. It doesn't contain any unusual ingredients and isn't particularly healthy. But even people with gluten intolerance need naughty, wickedly decadent desserts sometimes-I am certain of that!
By the way, I recently went for a week without dairy. My breastfed son came out in a nasty allergy looking rash, and we thought it might have been a cows milk protein intolerance. The test results came back negative, but I'd already taken myself off dairy in anticipation, and in desperation to get dairy out of my system for his sake. Did you know it takes 2 weeks for dairy to completely leave your system?
I tell you, once you start reading labels, you will never look at anything the same again! I even found dairy products listed in the tomato based pasta sauce in the pantry.
I lost 5 kg that week.
My diet consisted of ice. It was one of the only "solids" I could be sure was dairy free.
Okay, there was some fruit as well.
But little else.
I jest-but honestly, when the results for my son came back negative for that intolerance, I embraced dairy again like it was a long, long lost child of mine. How funny it is that my life revolved so much around it, and I had no idea. What foods are a staple in your pantry? I've got a feeling this torte is about to become one of mine! I have a few of those pretty glass pastry domes that don't get much use, after all...It would be wasteful not to have a torte or two not residing in them at least once a week.

Ps. I picked up that beautiful tea towel with hand crocheted trim and matching oven mitt in a lace shop in Richmond, Tasmania. Isn't it divine?


6 eggs
100g white sugar
100g brown sugar
300g dark chocolate
1 tbsp instant coffee

Optional garnishes:
100g strawberries, sliced
3 tbsp thick dollop cream
edible gold shimmer dust

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 27cm round springform cake tin (or 2 x 13cm round springform tins like I used)
Whisk together the eggs and sugar with an electric beater until light and creamy, approximately 5 minutes. Place chocolate in a microwave proof bowl and heat  gently until melted, stopping and stirring a few times to avoid burning. Pour the melted chocolate slowly into the egg mixture, whisking continuously to combine. Fold in the coffee granules.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 25 minutes. The top of the torte should feel firm to the touch, and will have risen slightly.
Cool before decorating and serving.

Serves 10-12

Torte at time of serving.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rose Petal Princess Doll Cake

After the arrival of my new son, I found myself doing what I might have considered unthinkable years ago. My daughter turned 2 just weeks after his birth, and I found myself cakeless the day before and thinking her birthday was a few days away. What a cloudy fog that is the first weeks after a baby is born! I found myself buying Woolworth's sponge cakes, whipping cream for the middle and decorating it with strawberry jam,vanilla icing, strawberries and marshmallows. Her eyes were wide and excited as she gazed at it, and I was delighted to realise that the little people don't mind if you can't give them the Minnie Mouse or Toy Story cake you thought you were going to attempt creating.
However, she had asked for a Dolly cake, and I found myself making one for the weekend of her party. It was a fairy themed party, and although I didn't have time to affix wings to the Barbie decked out in a pink ombre rose petal cake dress, Cece didn't notice. She kept saying "Princess! It's a princess cake! It's so beautiful."

I used a packet cake mix for convenience and speed. The dress was made by cooking the cake in two separate oven-proof bowls. One was a bit smaller than the other, and stacked to create the A-line skirt of the doll. Once stacked, I cut a hole in the centre of the cake stack for Barbie's legs to slide into, and wrapped those legs in plastic wrap to avoid toy and cake from meeting.
A thin crumb coat was applied to the cake. Then I divided the fondant (or gumpaste) and used liquid rose coloured food dye to shade them from light to dark pink.

Starting with the darkest pink and the smallest petal cutter, I rolled the fondant thinly and cut out a multitude of petals. I shaped the edges slightly for variation and applied them layer-style with Wilton Dab and Hold Edible adhesive. (You don't have to use expensive edible glues if you don't have them. You can dampen the parts of the petal you apply with a touch of water to make it adhere, or use a tiny dab of icing as a glue).

Once I had completed the doll's bodice, I used the next darkest pink and continued on in a larger  petal cutter size. I continued in this fashion, working downwards and sliding the next row of petals slightly underneath the previous row. Allow to dry, and voila! Cake done.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cauliflower & Potato Soup

If you'd asked me a few weeks ago what I thought of cauliflower, I probably would have told you I thought the stuff was vile and to be avoided. It's not really the flavour, I just figured it didn't really have anything going for it. But I just had not had it prepared in an appetising way before I discovered this quick and easy winter warming soup. Determined to get more veggies into my family, and being winter, I decided to try something different. I went and brought cauliflower. My husband stared at me as if to say "what are you going to do with that?!"
I'm currently 39 weeks pregnant and have not had the energy for anything too convoluted. Seriously, I can't really even get that close to the kitchen bench with baby bump in the way-I literally feel like a T-rex, with a huge body and puny arms that just don't reach far enough. So as you can imagine, I need something remarkably quick, something that limits my time reaching over the belly to the bench.. (Don't even ask how I manage to wash the dishes, I am sure my back will not thank me for it in the future.)
I need simple, tasty meals that are not going to take me all day to prepare, so I am sharing this beauty with you. It's simple! It's tasty! It's veggies! Even my kids eat it with gusto, served with a side of steaming garlic bread.
I love these type of meals you simply chop, throw into a pot and later on puree and serve. It doesn't get much easier. You could even do this meal in a slow cooker or crock pot if you preferred. That's always a great option for busy people who can't keep going back and checking on the stove every few minutes! And-it's freezable. Just leave out the cream until you've defrosted and reheated it, and you're good to go.


1 onion, roughly chopped (I used a red onion, but a brown one is great fine)
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1.3 kg)
500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to season
1 litre chicken stock
1/2 cup cream

Toss the chopped onion and garlic into a large pot with a dash of oil or butter and cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the cauliflower florets and potato, and season with salt and pepper as desired. Add the chicken stock and place the lid on the pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat for 5 minutes, then puree in a blender. Before serving, stir the cream through and garnish, if desired.

Serves 4
NOTES: This recipe is suitable for freezing. Freeze the soup without the addition of the cream, and add the cream after defrosting and reheating.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Torba Restaurant Review

Reviews are somewhat varied, but my husband and I think we stumbled across an Eastern European gem of a restaurant in Brisbane city. If you're tired of eating the same old cuisines (we personally have got into an Indian rut), you'll be delighted at the menu options at Torba on Southbank. Authentic cuisine from all over eastern Europe star at this little restaurant-we were able to enjoy food from Russia, Moldova and Hungary while remaining seated in the one place, in the comfiest chairs. The food was hearty and full of flavour-rustic, traditional and decidedly scrumptious. The food is a sharp contrast from the opulent  and trendy decor and yet somehow the restaurant lounge pulls it off beautifully. We will definitely be returning! (Monday to Wednesday it's 2 for the price of 1 cocktails can you go wrong there?)

Shades of purple opulence and such comfy armchairs. We found it hard to pull ourselves out of those velvet chairs when we were ready to pay the bill.

 Extensive bar and more private curtained seating booths beyond.

 Divine strawberry mocktail for the fat pregnant lady (that'd be me!)

 Romantic ambiance.

 Cinnamon and Apple Pie cocktail (absinthe, cinnamon, Zubrowka, butterscotch liqueur, vanilla sugar syrup and apple juice)

 Russian Pelmini for starters- boiled dumplings filled with pork and beef and served with garlic and herb butter and fried onions.

 Moldavian Lamb Pilaf with pomegranate molasses, grilled eggplant, feta, good!

 Hungarian Beef Goulash with tender slow braised beef cooked in red wine and served with mash. Hearty and melt in your mouth goodness.

 My husband got shat upon by an overhead gecko-couldn't help laughing raucously! (they are everywhere in Queensland, probably not Eastern Europe though!)

Dessert to share because we were so full of our yummy filling mains. Russian Blini filled with vanilla ricotta cheese.

Torba Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ultimate Potato Soup

Recently I touched on a topic I am sure we have all experienced at some stage in life before-food ruts. You buy the same ingredients repeatedly and use the same recipes. You cycle through and through until you no longer enjoy eating and cooking what you're serving. Or worse still, you have no idea what you're having for dinner, and end up spending a fortune on take away or some last minute ingredients that are quick and easy solutions. So how do you get out of food ruts? Here are a few ideas on how to move away from living the same food day in day out. Any step is a step forward!

1. Buy something you've never tried-a vegetable you've never tasted, that quinoa that everyone has been raving about, or that weird gooey stuff you have been curious about in the foreign food isle at your supermarket. Ensure it gets used within your grocery period. It might just become a new favourite.

2. Menu plan, making sure that you schedule to try one new recipe. Menu planning not only ensures you're only buying what you need for the week/fortnight, but you have everything ready to go without any last minute grocery store dashes (and lets face it, you always end up buying more than you intended!) Menu planning has been the best way in cutting down costs for me personally. Our shopping bills have been heavily reduced. There is great peace of mind in knowing what you're cooking at the beginning of the day.

3. Use pinterest for inspiration-sometimes all it takes is a little tweaking of the same ingredients to make it a whole new meal. Do you always buy chicken breast? There are a million and one ideas on how to change up chicken breast on that damned addictive site.

4. Challenge yourself to use what is in the pantry before stepping out to grocery shop. Had a can of  cream of chicken soup in the pantry for a few months? Got chicken and pasta and broccoli? Type these ingredients into a recipe finder such as Recipe Matcher to generate dozens of new recipes using those ingredients.

5. Buy a food magazine every so often. Woolworths and Coles often has publications they give out for free. Have them in a central area like the coffee table and you will probably have other family members looking at them and making requests. These mags are also great reminders that you are in a food rut and should or can do something about it.

Good luck getting out of the rut and finding new favourites to cycle through! Here's one to kick start you off. It's the best potato soup I have ever tasted. It's the ultimate comfort meal- hot and hearty, thick, cheesey, bacony, potatoey goodness just packed with flavour. You will have people groaning with delight as they spoon this down-it's a real keeper! I have served this at the end of a party once, serving it in mugs as everyone huddled around the fire outside. My guests just couldn't get enough! I have also served it as a dip in a cob loaf, which worked well, as it gets quite thick as it cools. It's one of my most requested recipes. I know you will cherish it too.
Got any other tips? I'd love to hear them! 


500g diced bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, finely grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp plain flour
3 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped (optional)

Fry the diced bacon until golden and crispy. Drain any bacon at that may be in the saucepan. Add the onion, potato and carrot, along with the stock, parsley, salt and pepper. Place a lid on the saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the potato is quite tender (this time will depend on the size of your potato chunks.) Meanwhile, place the flour in a bowl, and adding a little of the milk at a time, whisk until a smooth paste forms. Add the remainder of the milk, and mix until well incorporated. Add this milk mixture to the pot of stock and potato. Let it reach the boil, then stir continuously for a further two minutes, until it thickens. Add the cheese and stir through. Serve sprinkled with chopped green onion if desired.

Serves 6-8

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pink Ricebubble Marshmallow Squares (Like ICMs)

I've just read a whole stack of blog posts from different authors about how hateful their Mother's Day gifts have been in the past. I sit here gobsmacked. I'm serious, mums are knocking their husbands for organising the likes of massage vouchers, lingerie, wine and chocolate and flowers bought from the service station (seriously who cares where they are purchased?) While people piped up that the articles were satire, I couldn't help but cringe. I'm getting slippers for Mother's day and I'm pretty damn pleased about it. Every time I slip my feet into those warm fuzzy pink things I will remember that hubby and my three little darlings all trotted off and picked them out for me, and that my 5 year old was so excited that he couldn't contain himself and told me what my present was as soon as they got home.
My swollen pregnant feet get so cold in the mornings that I just can't wait to slide into those babies. I've even secretly checked them out while putting away hubby's shirts. Shhh!
So shrinking husbands who don't know what to do get your wives, and who happened to read those blog posts, just remember your wife is not your mother, so anything you buy her in my books, is a win. You don't even have to spend money to make sure Mum gets a memorable Mother's Day. Sometimes I think the best gifts are the ones which are hand made and home made by the kids-the paintings, the weird cutout cardboard thingies and the not so perfect baking.
But here's a foolproof and fail-proof recipe for some yummy treats to spoil mum with that will definitely be appreciated. They're a hit with the young and the old and only have three ingredients. They're quickly put together, are no cook, and are a great recipe for the kids to get involved in.
They're chewy and sweet and look so pretty wrapped up in cellophane and given as a gift. How could you go wrong?
I sprinkled mine with tiny edible pearls. You can leave them plain, trust me they taste just as good!


4 cups marshmallows (I used 2x 180g bags)
1 tbsp butter
5 cups of ricebubbles
tiny edible pearls (optional)

Grease and line a 20x20cm dish with a little oil and baking paper. Ensure the sides of the paper come up higher than the sides of the dish for easy removal.
Place the marshmallows and the butter in a large saucepan. Stirring continuously over medium heat, melt the two ingredients until smooth. Pour in the ricebubbles and stir until well combined. Quickly pour the mixture into the lined dish. Wet your hands with cold water and press the mixture down evenly into the dish until the top is flat. Sprinkle with edible pearls if desired. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more before cutting into squares.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Roasted Sweet Potato with Honey and Cinnamon Glaze

How does one get out of a dinner rut? You know, how you end up always cycling through the same meals and the same sort of ingredients, and it just gets a little monotonous?
Sometimes you just have to mix it up a little at the dinner table. I always think it's a good idea to buy one new thing a fortnight and force yourself to cook with it. It's a good way to spice up meals a bit and adds to your cooking repertoire, making it more diverse and less boring.
It's a little challenging with small kids, because often you have go-to meals because you know meal time will be easier to bear. Yep, that's right! My kids would rather eat dry cat food than some of the things I serve. It's humbling. I try to reassure myself that their taste-buds haven't sufficiently developed yet, while I force feed them.
I was reading an article written by a dietician the other day about the "shared responsibility eating" theory. Basically you place the dinner on the table buffet style, and your children get to serve themselves, deciding what they want to eat and how much they will eat. There is no obligation to finish or taste anything. Well I think that's crazy. My kids would starve themselves. Or eat crackers for the rest of their childhoods. (trust me, I have been there in my own childhood, resulting in one never-hungry and malnourished girl. That's right-I never felt hungry enough to eat.)
My kids get served a portion of what we are eating and have to finish it. They at least have to have a taste of the things they're not used to, for example, if I add a new veggie or make something they've never tried before, they will have to at least experience it once.
We usually have our sweet potato boiled and mashed, but for Christmas lunch I decided to roast the sweet potato in wedges, drizzled in a honey cinnamon glaze. This was served alongside Gordon Ramsey's Beef Wellington (Oh my. This is a must-make!) The roasted glazed sweet potato  was so divine that I could probably have eaten the lot of it in one sitting. I have since brought it to the dinner table as a side, and it's always been a much-savored hit.


4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick fingers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven at 190C.
Lay all the sweet potato fingers flat on a lined baking tray.
Combine the oil, honey and cinnamon in a small bowl until well incorporated. Drizzle this mixture over the top of the sweet potato. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until tender. If you prefer some more colour, you can finish off the roasting with a few minutes under the grill on a high setting.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired before serving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chewy Choc Chip Biscuits

Mumma's got a bee in her bonnet, and it's got nothing to do with food.
Heading into the post office yesterday, the man behind the desk who was about to serve me stuck his nose further over the edge to peer down at three gorgeous little tykes in tow and one blossoming bump on the front of me. He counted the kids out loud, slowly and like a fool, as if there were just too many to number.
Then he looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Four? What are you doing? I mean, you obviously know what you're doing, but WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
I'm used to people commenting on the size of my little family with a wry smile, in semi joke form, and have found it easy to laugh off, with most people making no further comment. But this guy was unsmiling, obnoxious, and I knew he wasn't going to let it go.
"Have you got it worked out yet?" he asked. No, I'm just so uneducated, I don't now how babies are made.
My blood was steady boiling, but I had nothing to say. I just laughed, but inside I was punching in his irritating face. I wondered if I could get away with assault with the excuse of crazy pregnancy hormones raging around. A cat had totally got my tongue and I had no clever retaliation.
"Two is enough for me" grumbled the man, huffing. I turned around and there was a huge queue behind me.
"Well I admit, they're hard work, but so worth it" I smiled at him. "Four 500g satchels, please."
Inside I was saying "go screw yourself" but I am glad I didn't say that. My babies are my everything. Since when has it become okay for people to make rude comments on family size choices and pregnancy? It feels that as soon as you're showing a baby bump it gives every man and his dog the okay to go and judge and poke and make the rudest comments about fertility, family choices and the size of your body. "Don't you have a TV?" That's my favourite, along with "There are ways of not having more, you know."
As I left I turned back to him and said "I'm one of ten kids, you know. Four is nothing." I laughed at that jaw drop and out we all trotted.
Then I went home and stuffed my face with these biscuits. They're wonderful comfort food and packed full of happy-inducing chocolate chips. Bring on the questions as to whether I'm expecting twins, these thick, chewy delicious choc chip biscuits were well worth it.

CHEWY CHOC CHIP COOKIES (Adapted from All Recipes)

2 1/4 cups plain four
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
170g butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence/extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup chocolate chips (or more if desired)

Set the oven to 165C.
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well combined. Add the vanilla and egg as well as the yolk. Beat until incorporated. Add the sifted mixture and beat until just combined. ix through the chocolate chips by hand.
Place rounded tablespoon-worths of mixture onto greased and lined trays, about 6 cms apart to allow for spreading. Bake for 15-17 minutes until they begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool on trays for 5 minutes, before removing and placing on a wire rack.

Makes at least 20 (they started getting eaten before I had the opportunity to count them all!)