lattice cheesecake summer slice

Here’s a slice for you so simple and scrum you'll soon be singing its praises. As a general rule I avoid no-bake slice recipes. Especially no-bake cheesecake recipes.  In my humble opinion they're mostly disappointing. Shouldn't a slice be all custardy and not long pulled from the oven? And then along comes an oldie but real goodie - a serious opposer to my silly no-bake rule. And it’s been so darn hot and humid. I’ve made this for friends and family three times this past fortnight - freezes a treat too. Biscuits don't even go soggy in the fridge or freezer. 

A square or two of this luscious beauty fell onto my plate over the Christmas holidays. This is the first chance I’ve had to share it with you all. Happy New Year MFK friends - I look forward to sharing many more throughout 2013. You can flavour it with lime, lemon, orange, crushed oreo cookies, passionfruit, vanilla bean, whatever takes your fancy or needs using up. 

For baking friends in the snowy Northern Hem, perhaps stick with the best baked version of lime slice I know…. entirely satisfying for Winter and revisit this one on a warm Spring day.

Lattice Cheesecake Slice

Ingredients - 3 packets Arnott's Lattice Biscuits (you'll probably use 2 ½ packets, depending on your biscuit tin size 250 grams (8ozs) unsalted butter at room temperature 250 grams (8ozs) cream cheese at room temperature 250 grams (8ozs) caster sugar 2 heaped teaspoons powdered gelatine 4 tablespoons hot water ❤ 2 tablespoons lime juice & rind 2 small limes  - or other citrus of your choice

Method - Line your biscuit or slice tin (25 x 37 cm or thereabouts) with tin foil or baking paper. Place half the lattice biscuits in tin, top glossy caramel side facing down. You may need to cut a couple of biscuits to finish tin sides to edge neatly using a sharp knife.

Place powdered gelatine in hot water in a small saucepan and heat gently on the stovetop, stirring until creamy and fully dissolved. 

Place butter, cream cheese, sugar, citrus juice and rind into a meduim sized bowl. Pour in gelatine and beat well with mixer or handheld beater until combined and creamy. I use an old fashioned handheld whenever I beat cream cheese. Just find it quicker and easier.

Spread biscuits with cream mixture. Place the other half of your Lattice biscuits on top, top glossy caramel side facing up.  Refrigerate till set and cold. Cut into squares or fingers when ready to serve. Dust generously with icing sugar. Enjoy the colder the better.

gingerbread holiday fun

When Xmas holidays come round and it's time for gingerbread, I often use pastry-cook Natalie Paull’s recipe from Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion. It's a terrific gingerbread every time and I adore turning it into houses, men, stars, trees and all manner of shapes. Especially at this time of year and with the enthusiastic help of my daughters, niece and nephew.  Best done in 3 simple steps over 2 days, including resting the dough overnight in the fridge.

We've been making a house for each branch of the family for a few years now and the kids love getting really involved. This one pictured is my nephew's work - a great job for Master 12 years old don't you think... Also enjoying the paper xmas trees the kids made at school from unwanted magazines sprayed with glitter.

You'll find this recipe and the assembly of the house and lolly placement so much fun. Much cheaper and tastier than store bought too.  It's hilarious watching the kids go wild with their decorations. I pop my favourite gingerbread house pics away and leave OCD perfectionist tendencies behind. It's a special time to enjoy watching the kids use their creativity and favourite sweeties to construct the little cottage of their gingerbread dreams.

Ingredients Gingerbread  - 170 grams softened unsalted butter ❤ 90 grams dark brown sugar ❤ ½ cup golden syrup ❤ 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten ❤ 470 grams plain flour ❤ ½ teaspoon salt ❤ 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda ❤ 2 teaspoons ground ginger ❤ 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ❤   ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg ❤ ½ teaspoon ground cloves  ½ teaspoon white pepper ❤ ½ teaspoon ground allspice

Glaze - 1 tablespoon caster sugar ❤ 2 tablespoons water ❤ ½ teaspoon powdered gelatine  

Royal icing - 2 egg whites ❤ 500 grams pure icing sugar sifted ❤ ½ teaspoon lemon juice 

Extras - 1 sheet of cardboard 28cm x 33cm ❤ covered board ❤  assorted lollies of your choice ❤ Summer Roll (or similar) for chimney, cut on an angle ❤ pure icing sugar for dusting

Method - Step 1 (Day 1) Dough - beat butter, sugar and golden syrup on medium speed until creamed, using the dough paddle attachment on your mixer. Mix in egg. Sift flour, bicarb, salt and spices together. Add dry ingredients, mixing in well on low speed. Once dough has come together, divide into two portions, flatten into a rectangle and wrap each in plastic wrap to chill overnight in the fridge.  

Step 2 (Day 2 morning) - Dough Pieces - remove dough from fridge and sit for 30min to 1 hour (depending on weather) to soften up. Lightly flour plastic wrap and roll dough out to a thickness of less than 5mm.  Rest again in the fridge while cutting cardboard/baking paper pattern.

Cut cardboard and baking paper into a 20cm square and 20cm equilateral triangle. Preheat oven to moderately slow 160°C (325°F). Grease and line two large flat baking trays with baking paper. 

Cut shapes from dough using cardboard/paper patterns. Slide onto the oven trays, still resting on baking paper. Use a sharp knife to cut out a small door and window from one triangle piece and bake these with the other shapes (approx 15mins for door and about 20 minutes for the larger pieces) or until firm to touch. Cool a little then glaze using your pastry brush.

For glaze - combine sugar, water and gelatine in a microwave proof bowl and zap for about 30 seconds on medium heat.  Stir well to dissolve and brush all over warm gingerbread with a pastry brush.

Step 3 (Day 2 afternoon or evening) - Icing & Construction. For royal icing - sift pure icing sugar ready to go.  Beat egg whites with a hand held beater until only just frothy. Add sifted icing sugar gradually to the egg whites, continuing to beat until glossy and stiff peaks form.  Add a small drop of lemon juice and stir through. Place icing directly into your piping bag or otherwise cover over bowl with plastic wrap or damp cloth to prevent icing from drying out. It normally sets to rock hard within one hour.

Spread a thin layer of icing on the board where the house edges will go to make the house pieces secure. Assemble house pieces on the board, trim them first if necessary to make neat and more even edges. Pipe icing along all the house joins and edges to secure.  Pipe around the door and/or any extra decorations you like. Place cut summer roll on the roof for chimney, attach with icing and pipe around to secure. Decorate with assorted lollies/sweets, using a drop of icing to attach each one. Dust all over with icing sugar to complete. Store in a closed box if not displaying or eating soon. Gingerbread pieces can be frozen for later assembly. You can make approximately six large or a dozen smaller gingerbread men with the leftover dough. Just put a large hole in the top edge if you’d like to hang them from your tree with raffia. Bake little men for approx 10-12 minutes depending on their size or until firm to touch. 

If you do get a say on design or are making one for yourself or a friend, you might like to try a red and white themed house like this cute one from Taste  If it’s the minimalistic approach (ie. low fat/lolly free) you are looking for, check out Australian Country Style's 1st ever Christmas issue .  I’ve never seen a plain gingerbread house look soooo stylish. Can't wait for my 2013 subscription. Thank you Santa.

Australian Country Style Mag - 1st ever Christmas edition. Lots of inspiration inside.

For MFK friends in Queensland, perhaps best to wait for a cooler and less humid day (like today!) for construction. Rest assured this quick royal icing will set well in all climates. Would someone please remove the leftover lollies from my grasp... I have no willpower whatsoever at this time of year.  Cheers and happy gingerbread memories to you all x  

that first sniff of the xmas season

 

How's your XMAS baking coming along?  Dec 1 & I'm thrilled to say that I've only managed the Xmas Pudding,ShortbreadShrewsbury Biscuits and a few dozen Rumballs so far. Hopefully I'll make some Melting Moments today too...the butter is just coming to room temp.  It's a small yet important collection of traditional favourites in my family. I hope you'll try some too. Just click above and bake whichever recipe most takes your fancy. 

Now if I can't tempt you away from your own tried and true Xmas recipes, then I completely understand.  I never mess with tradition in the kitchen during December and the first sniff of rumballs does me in every season.  

My long hot days of producing 100's of XMAS hampers overflowing with handmade baked goodies are well and truly gone. I'm still a little sad that those well deserving recipients won't get one on their doorstep. However I must share with you the joy and luxury that is 'baking whatever you like, for whomever you like' - rather than 'to order'.  It's such a pleasure I appreciate and celebrate now and every day, especially at this busy time of year.  

To those of you working with quality food and bev this XMAS, whether it be in cafes, restaurants, providores, retail, wholesalers or caterers, I send you an extra big Xmas hug. To those retailers shrink wrapping stale boxes of unwanted stock into cheap baskets with standard bow on top, please stop now! Noone wants to buy them and they haven't wanted to for many, many years. 

I'd love to hear from you when your oven is off, kids asleep and you've got a quiet moment over the holidays. Let me know your favourite xmas recipe or which MFK recipe of 2012 was best received at your place.  Sorry again that the site has been down... I promise I won't ever change web hosting providers again! xx

delicious daylesford

It's Springtime in Daylesford, Victoria. From lovely Lavandula - the Swiss Italian Lavender Farm at Shepherds Flat, 5 minutes from Daylesford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Macaroni Factory, Australia's first macaroni factory and oldest Italian building and Villa Parma, Peppers Hepburn Springs

Red Beard Bakery - unbeatable organic sourdough bread & goodies in the town of Trentham.

 

 

Alla Wolf Tasker's enchanting Lake House in Daylesford is a true labour of love for over 26 years. Lake House is regarded as one of Australia's very best restaurants.

Images courtesy of Lisa Murray. Lise, I hope you'll always be 'official photographer' on our foodie trips. Thanks for your talent and sweet company.

The local growers, vignerons, provedores, chefs and restaurateurs of Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges are an inspiring group. There's good reason why we've been reading all about this region in many gourmet food and travel magazines lately.

Those of you who live in a sub-tropical climate (like us here in South East Queensland) no doubt jump at the opportunity to travel south and really appreciate the four seasons in all their glory - especially Spring.  This time last year I headed to springtime Bowral. Perhaps you'll remember my specculaas recipe, droolings and ravings of tulips and Southern Highland towns in NSW.

This Spring I’ve landed even further south in Victoria's Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, just over 1 hour north of Melbourne. If you haven't already, I hope you'll soon have the opportunity to explore delicious Daylesford, its lake and superb surrounds. 

A visit to Lavandula Farm at Shepherds Flat (pictured above) inspires a more frequent use of culinary lavender in our everyday cooking. For example the tips of freshly picked lavender added to a batch of scone mixture make a delightful difference.  Of course in Southern France, lavender plays an important role far beyond the reaches of potplants and window boxes.  It was suggested to us at Lavandula that we should consider lavender in more of our favourite dishes, as a culinary substitute for rosemary. 

I’ve visited many lavender farms around the world and often felt sad to find lavender fields without flowers out of season. No such feelings here at Lavandula, for you'll be mesmerised by flowering rosemary, 19th century stone buildings, a barnyard with extensive retail therapy, lush picnic spots, a huge pizza oven and good coffee with homemade cakes. 

There's also the unique history of the place - back to the mid 1800’s, when 2500 Italian men immigrated to this region from the Swiss Italian areas of Lake Como, Locarno & Lugano. They settled in the Daylesford region, unknowingly panning for gold despite the best of the gold rush years already behind them.  Some still struck it lucky with smaller nuggets and parcels of fertile land. It's another little gem in our lucky country I hope you'll enjoy as much as we did.  

Please don't miss a meal at The Lakehouse, where violet and licorice ice-cream competes with lemon curd mouse, shavings of meringue and caviar. Alla Wolf Tasker really is the queen of Australian country kitchen, her kitchen gardens bursting with farm fresh flavour, dainty micro herbs & edible flowers. 

Another must-eat is sourdough from Red Beard Bakery. A bakery has operated continously in this Trentham location from at least 1892 until 1987. The towns bread was baked in its enormous Scotch oven, one of only a handful of Scotch ovens now remaining in Australia. A once common type of commercial oven with a huge, domed brick structure found throughout the British Empire.  Word has it that by the 1960’s most had been destroyed by the large flour millers to eliminate competition for their new supermarkets breads.  Argh!!! 

This bustling bakery was restored in 2004, its historic oven still in surprisingly good condition.  In 2005 the Reid Brothers stumbled across the renovated bakery and have been producing high quality, organic sourdough bread and other goodies using time-honoured techniques ever since. Bakery Workshops and tours are available. We hadn’t booked one but the friendly owners were more than happy to share their passion and knowledge with us. Handshaped loaves are leavened with a traditional wild yeast culture and later loaded into the woodfired Scotch oven, just as was done over a century ago. If only I could bottle that aroma of freshly baked sourdough... along with fragrant rhododendrons, daffodils, hyacinths and crab apple blossoms. Enjoy every Springtime day MFK friends. More recipes soon...

lemon madeira loaves with candied citrus peel

I've been dreaming loaves again. This time it's a modern twist on a very old-fashioned moreish madeira loaf. You can make one large tall or two smaller loaves with this recipe. If you like a simple lemon syrup glaze, then just stick to sploshing the loaf while still hot with your lemon syrup dipped pastry brush. For more indulgence, why not sandwich 2 smaller loaves together with lemon cream cheese icing. Fresh candied citrus peel coupled with good cream cheese icing is such a special afternoon tea treat. 

Recipes from my oldest vintage cookbooks add finely chopped candied peel to the madeira batter as well.  I normally reserve it for decorating loaf/cake tops, but if desired feel free to add some into your mix as well, about 50 grams of peel. Madeira cake batter has been used as the base for so many popular cakes over the years; banana, cherry, choc walnut, coconut, date, ginger, raspberry and even sweet petits fours.

ingredients     madeira loaf -  350 grams unsalted butter (at room temp) ❤ 1¼ cups caster sugar ❤ 6 free range eggs ❤ zest and juice of 3 lemons ❤ 1¼ cups plain flour ❤ 1 teaspoon baking powder ❤ 1 cup almond meal    lemon glaze - juice of 2 lemons ❤ 1 cup caster sugar ❤ 1 cup water     candied citrus peel - 4 large lemons or 3 small lemons & 3 small oranges ❤ ½ cup (110grams) caster sugar ½ cup (125 ml) water    lemon cream cheese icing - 125 grams cream cheese (at room temp) ❤ 30 grams butter, softened ❤ 1 tablespoon lemon juice ❤ 1 teaspoon fine lemon zest ❤ ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ❤ 2½ cups pure icing sugar (sifted) 

method - Preheat oven to moderately slow 170°C (335°F). Grease and line two 22cm x 11cm loaf tins with baking paper.  For loaves - cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to combined before adding the next.  The mixture will curdle a little at this point but don’t worry.  It is a fairly wet mix and results in a very moist loaf.

Add lemon juice and zest and stir through to combine. Sift flour and baking powder together three times.  Add flour to mixture with the ground almonds and fold through with a large metal spoon, being sure not to over-mix madeira batter.  Spoon into the tins - the mixture doesn’t rise much so fill to desired height. Bake for 55 minutes or until loaves spring back when lightly touched in the centre. 

Just make the lemon glaze and icing while your loaves are baking. The candied citrus peel can be made earlier or at any time. For lemon glaze, place ingredients in a small saucepan and boil until sugar dissolves. 

For candied citrus peel - drop the prepared peel strips into a medium saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds only. Drain them well using a sieve/colander. Combine the sugar and water in the same saucepan, stirring well until the sugar has dissolved. Once syrup mixture comes to the boil, tip the drained peel in and reduce heat to low, cooking at a gentle bubble for 10 minutes.  Turn heat off and allow to cool in the syrup. Drain them again in sieve/colander before tipping out onto a plate covered in caster sugar to toss and coat. Lay peel strips on baking paper to dry and set.


I do prefer a softer, more pliable candied peel for shaping and decorating cakes. Originally I boiled the peel for much longer but this method is so easy and lovely. Don’t slice the peel strips too fine but always make sure not to leave any bitter pith attached, as pictured. This peel always reminds me of the lovely cakes topped with sugared peel on display at Jocelyns Provisions cake store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.  Peel keeps for up to one week in an airtight container.

For lemon cream cheese icing - combine all ingredients (except icing sugar) and beat well with a handheld beater until creamy.  Add sifted icing sugar slowly and beat in well to combine.

julia taylor’s arpeggio walnut cake

The highlight in my jam packed, packing jam week was devouring a slice of cake baked by Julia Taylor - one of Australia’s most talented young dessert chefs of Masterchef Series 4 fame.  You no doubt recall Julia’s skill, focus and passion for creating all things delightfully sweet on Masterchef this year. 

I happily discovered Julia is even more fab in person than her on-screen desserts. And for MFK friends who are lovers of Nespresso coffee, I can highly recommend Julia’s Arpeggio and Walnut Cake, sponged together with coffee butter cream and topped with choc coffee ganache.  Just click here for the recipe. When cut into dainty 5cm rounds as pictured below, these moist morsels are small enough to be almost guilt free.  Not that we ever need an excuse to go back for seconds when a dessert tastes this good.

Julia has recently launched her website Julia’s and it includes a burgeoning recipe blog for all us sweet fanatics to explore.  Julia - we look forward to recreating your favourite recipes and staying in touch via your blog.

If you aren’t yet familiar with Arpeggio, it is currently Australia’s favourite of Nespresso’s 16 Grand Cru coffee range. An intensely roasted coffee with thick smooth crema and aromatic notes of cocoa, Arpeggio (otherwise known as the purple one) is ideal for cappuccinos, lattes and delicious recipes, beverages and desserts alike. 

On a separate note, I hope our Jam Club members enjoyed their deliveries this week, including the addition of berry jam. If you would like the recipe for my Strawberry Conserve with a hint of Grand Marnier & just picked oranges, just drop me a line and I’ll post it up while the strawberries are still plentiful. Have a terrific Spring Weekend MFK friends x

welcome spring

When I think of Spring I often remember our national treasure, Margaret Olley and her amazing work. Olley, our skilled Australian painter is prized and noted for her vibrant still-life paintings and intimate interiors. Her paintings of florals and fruits epitomize Spring;  vibrant azelias, citrus, cyclamen, cornflours, calendulas, daffodils, lily sprays, pears, poppies and pomegranates, quinces and tamarillos. Not to mention her gorgeous jugs, pots, vases, tablecloths and incredible Sydney vistas.  

Olley is also well known for her organised clutter of artefacts from around the world and her furniture. In Olley’s own words she ‘painted what was around her because it was easy to get at’.  I guess in the same way we enjoy cooking and creating using fresh seasonal produce that’s all around us.

 

rhubarb, strawberry & mandarin loaf

And the loaves just keep coming... In fact I frequently dream of a bakery specialising entirely in loaves, warm steamy ones pulled from the oven packed with fresh seasonal goodness. I always awake from my dream just short of giving this luscious loaf shop a name. Must be my subconscious trying to pull my head in! And yet that image of neat row upon row warm loaf tins lingers on in my mind, all fragrant and singing of Spring. 

I often bake this delightful rhubarb & strawberry loaf, especially when strawberries are only $3 for 3 x 250gram punnets today! At these prices the temptation to make strawberry loaf and a big batch of fresh jam is all too great and entirely satisfying.

This recipe is adapted from The Tincat Cafe in Adelaide, as featured in Delicious Magazine some years back. I hope you'll enjoy this one MFK friends.  And if you've got a moment, please share with us your own favourite Springtime treat in the comments below.

Ingredients  - 100 grams unsalted butter, softened ❤ 1 cup (220 grams) caster sugar ❤ 3 eggs ❤ ⅔ cup (190 grams) greek style yoghurt ❤ 1 ⅔ cups (250 grams) plain flour ❤ 2 teaspoons baking powder ❤ pinch of cinnamon ❤ 8 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly ❤ 3 stems fresh rhubarb, diced ❤ finely grated zest of 2 mandarins (or 1 orange) ❤ 2 tablespoons raw sugar, sprinkled on top

❤ mint, mandarin pieces or extra strawberries to garnish (optional) ❤ cinnamon yoghurt (optional, to serve) 1 cup greek yoghurt with cinnamon added and stirred through

Method - Preheat oven to moderately slow 160°C (325°F). Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.

very good italian biscotti

When your tastebuds are tingling for a not too sweet treat with your espresso or cuppa, look no further than these crisp italian biscotti. You might have tried my traditional Cavallucci Cookies from Siena, however I'm keen to share other Italian delights with you too.  I figure you can never have enough great biscuit recipes in your collection. For me, a freshly baked Melting Moment remains the epitome of heart-warming country baking. It's THE Best biscuit barrel treat at my place. But for the moments of pure pleasure that require dunking & crunching rather than melting, I hope you'll enjoy these simple biscotti too - molto buoni.

sunday drives - a little gourmet trail in byron hinterland nsw

One of my favourite local trails is a drive around the Byron Hinterland, 50 minutes south of the Gold Coast in New South Wales. Just 30 minutes down the highway from home, we often first jump off at the coastal village of Brunswick Heads, where there's plenty of good coffee, shopping and unspoilt natural charm. Last time we tried Pantry No.8 - good Merlo and a quaint ambience. The kids love the inlet park at Brunswick, to stretch their legs and burn off some energy. Personally I love the retro Second Hand Rose Emporium, 2 doors down from Pantry No.8, where I could happily browse for hours.

chocolate sour cream birthdays

Hi MFK friends. Sorry to be missing in action. It was birthday time again at our place, the winter bugs have been chasing us and I've been in training for a fab new job. No, it's not a new Patisserie venture, book deal or spot on Channel Ten's new Recipe to Riches reality show. Thanks for the invite though guys, but no matter how much I love sharing recipes, I could never do reality TV!  

As it turns out, this self funded baking blog adventure is a little luxury started last October that (surprise, surprise) doesn't pay any bills. Go figure! Besides, who can really afford to work 'exclusively' on their favourite hobby and passion. Sadly not even our talented Olympic sporting heroes I guess. As for the birthday, it was an even one - Lucia turning 8. Meaning a big week of celebrations to plan. Every second (even) birthday I (we) go abit crazy for our girls special day. This way each daugher gets a fab party every alternate year. And the fuss and expense doesn't get way out of hand. I know many of you can relate to kiddie birthday blowout ;-)

So the Ice-skating Extravaganza was shared with 18 gorgeous little girlfriends + family, all hurtling around our local ice-skating rink and eating copious amounts of cake. A fab time had by all, especially our Miss 8. For this posting I'd like to answer a question I'm regularly asked at school dropoffs, parties, the hairdresser, just about everywhere really....  which chocolate cake do I bake for the kids birthday cakes?  

strawberry sundays - friands & inspiration from the berry patch

That berry good time of year has arrived in South East Queensland. And although we have a small patch at Weka Weka, we are blessed to be surrounded by strawberry growers galore with terrific crops right across our region. I expect, like many of you, the seasonal adventure of strawberry picking as a young child has left vivid crimson memories. It's the reason why we love taking our own children to pick and frolic in the patch. 

 

baked custard & date grand marnier tart

Homemade Custard Tart is another sweet obsession of mine. I'm still discovering custard tart inspiration in my dreams and travels. The portugese and italian ones are amongst my favourites, along with Bill Granger's simple and scrummy Chocolate Custard Tarts from his Open Kitchen recipe book. I'd love to hear about your favourites in comments below.

This one, a frenzy of custard, cream and sweet orange is just lovely -  a delightful afternoon tea offering or sophisticated dinner party dessert. 

As I adore dates and you know how I feel about oranges, I’ve happily settled on my recipe today. However please feel free to substitute the dates for pitted prunes or other dried fruits (and liqueurs) you love. You can also top with toasted nuts after baking, if your heart so desires. By all means, experiment with your custard tart creations, whether individual serves, one large round or a long rectangular beauty.  Get creative or get classic -  just remember, good quality vanilla pods make all the difference to your custard.

 

slow-cooked lamb & rosemary burgers w mint & tzatziki

My great love is slow food that cooks itself without much attention. Cooking is always a pleasure for me, even on crazy busy days - as long as the dish isn't one more thing crying out for my attention at the end of a long day. I know you know that feeling... well, here's a great example of food cooking itself to perfection, without any help from me.  It's another popular one from my Pantry days I was never game enough to take off the menu.  

These luscious Lamb Burgers are always fragrant and moist.  Not just any Lamb Burger, but a top-seller from our local Palm Beach Butcher - Brenton of Kingswood Park Butchery. They display only the finest meats, in-house smoked hams, ready to cook meals and award winning sausages.  I hope you’re just as lucky to have such a fab butcher down the road from your place. Thanks Brenton for sharing your special recipe, passion and top tips with us!

Lamb burgers and pork & fennel sausage rolls would often compete for top billing at lunchtime - drawing hungry 3rd Avenue residents and workers to our door each day. The secret - cooking them low and slow. Don't add too many extras to your mince mix.  Let the lamb shine. And it must be very lean. Only BBQ them if you must.

Several friends have requested this recipe, with the taste and aroma still fresh in their minds. As always I hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do.  Mid-week and whenever I'm desperate for a really tasty dinner with minimum effort, I'll purchase these patties all prepped up ready to wack in the oven. Pop 'em inside a warm bun, top with tzatziki, feta and greens - and everyone's entirely satisfied.  

slow-cooked lamb & rosemary burgers

 

creamy fish & prawn pie - trawler to table

I’ve been sitting on my much loved Fish & King Prawn Pie recipe for some time now, eager to share it with you when the time came. It's a trawler to table tale, inspired by my Dad's love of green prawns and a hybrid of Jamie Oliver & Matt Moran's famous recipes - starring local Queensland seafood.  

Then two Sundays ago in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper, the Winter Food Issue of 'Sunday Magazine' captured the most edible cover I've seen in ages. Take a look here.  It was no surprise to learn it had been shot by the very talented Katie Quinn of What Katie Ate fame - one of our favourite Aussie food bloggers and photographers. Don't you just adore the scaly texture to her fishy puff pastry!  Such a clever gal. Thank you Katie. Don't miss her amazing Tokyo images at the worlds largest wholesale fish markets too.

For fellow magazine fanatics and creative friends, have you checked out Cover Junkie yet? - a website dedicated to creative magazine covers.

Creamy Fish and Prawn Pie

prep time: 30 minutes + cooking time: 30 minutes serves 4 (or 6 if served with a side of mash)

Ingredients - knob of butter ❤ 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated ❤ 2 celery stalks, sliced finely ❤ 1 leek, white part only chopped finely 1 tablespoon plain flour ❤ 1 lemon, fine zest & juice ❤ 1 cup (250ml) fish stock 125grams fresh green king prawns  ❤ 500 grams firm white fish fillets, diced coarsely ❤ ½ cup (125ml) pouring cream ❤ 1 tablespoon dijon french mustard ❤ 1 cup (120 grams) frozen peas ❤ just picked flat leaf parsley ❤ ½ cup (40 grams) freshly grated parmesan  ❤ ½ cup freshly grated quality cheddar ❤ 1 sheet puff pastry (I use Careme - the best from my local deli) OR 1kg potatoes, peeled, cooked & mashed  ❤ 1 egg, beaten lightly ❤ sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method - Preheat oven to hot 220°C (425°F). Lightly butter an oval baking dish (6cup capacity). Grate carrots and slice leek and celery. Finely chop parsley.

 

tangelos - curd, cordial & country shows

Have you seen the Tangelos at your green grocer or supermarket this week?!  They’re in full swing and it’s a super bumper crop.  Tangelos seem to go year about, one year terrific, the next year arrhh not so great. Tangelo is sweet and sour citrus at its best - the sweetness of a tangerine crossed with the tartness of a pomelo grapefruit.  That gorgeous shade of tangelo orange and easy to peel skin isn’t half bad either. Look for the nipple to distinguish tangelos from other orange citrus. 

 

much loved bircher muesli & breakfast pancakes w glazed strawberries

Last Sunday I had the most flavour packed Breakfast I'd enjoyed in a while.  I was at the Red Tree Cafe in Bowral. Well presented in a deep white bowl were four fluffy potato Swiss rosti circles layered with poached egg and roast tomato, stacked with baby spinach, house-made pesto, grilled pancetta and shaved parmesan.  It was a delicious yet light Swiss meets Aussie creation, topped with a little bit of Italy. And it got me thinking about my all-time favourite breakfasts.

Being in Thredbo Village was a brief reminder of the charms of European Alpine resorts. Snow capped fairytale villages we dream about and hope to visit at least once or twice in our lifetimes. Some lucky folk far more regularly. My two breakfast standouts are both classics; Swiss Bircher Muesli and Breakfast Pancakes. No doubt you make them at your place too. But I wanted to share my take on them with you.

 

baked hazelnut custard with lime sugar - guest post with Lyndel Miller of ‘wild sugar desserts’

Are you a cookbook worm? Me too.  I’ll never be embarrassed by the outrageous number of cookbooks on my shelf. Here's a shortlist for you. And I do refer to most of them. Some just occasionally to drool and delight. Others I open frequently for tomorrow night’s dinner and fresh inspiration for pantry leftovers. Which cookbook is your best buddy at the moment?

My newest addition is ‘wild sugar desserts’. A cookbook that's so easy to love and relate to in a number of sweet ways.  For its superb styling, honest heartfelt food connection and easy, original recipes. There are toffees & tiramisu, pies & pastries, cakes & creams, pannacotta & parfaits, berries, brulees and a little bit of bling.  Did I drop icing sugar on Page 10 by accident?  I must admit to actually licking my finger before touching the turkish delight pic! 

The other easy to love quality about wild sugar desserts is the feeling of warm collaboration and passion from its creators, Lyndel Miller (Australian Food & Prop Stylist and gifted cook) and Skye Craig (fellow Gold Coast girl of Masterchef Series 2 fame). No doubt you remember Skye's decadent dessert creations on the show.

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Lyndel Miller right now! Lyndel's spirit is grass-roots My Farm Kitchen. She adores entertaining and celebrating with desserts and sweet treats. Thanks Lyndel (& Skye) for giving us ‘wild sugar desserts’  and joining the MFK community. So for our very 1st Guest Post...  Hi Lyndel and welcome to My Farm Kitchen.

Q: Susie - “Food Stylist’ sounds like such a glamorous profession Lyndel. We’d love to hear the reality of your job.  It’s not all white linen, dainty doilies and pretty cake stands, is it?

A: Lyndel - It isn't! Days are very long. A great deal of preparation goes in before every shoot. There's all the food shopping, the preparation, and sometimes recipes to develop. Then there is the hunt for props that's can send you far and wide with a budget in mind. You are serving a client too, not just yourself, so many things may need to be considered. Then shot days can start at the crack of dawn and finish late. You are on your feet all day. There is no room for slackers or conversationalists on set. I rarely break for lunch, well I don't expect it. Terrible for the old metabolism. I have learnt to pack green smoothies. Did I mention the pack and pack up too?? It can be full on. But all that said I love it. I love all aspects of it (which I provide). I love the recipe development, the shopping, the shooting and even the pack up - as at the end of every shoot there is the reward of a job well done. A happy client and beautiful imagery to add to your portfolio. Oh, and a pay cheque... Which most of the time you don't even think about because it's the work that brings the joy ;) 

Q: Susie - What‘s been your funniest food experience so far, when cooking for and setting up a photo shoot for a photographer?

 

the meaning of disappointment

In the Oxford Dictionary under the word disappointment you'll find the meaning 'fails to meet the hope of'. I'd like to offically add a new definition to disappointment - 'arriving in Bowral on a cold Sunday morning (all the way from the Gold Coast) to find Flour Water Salt Bakery CLOSED! Arghhhhh, 9 months without a morsel from Flour Water Salt and they're CLOSED!! Everyone deserves a day off, I know... but oooooh the disappointment. Here's my version of their more-ish Speculaas recipe - in case you missed it the first time. You'll also see Flour Water Salt featured in this month's Donna Hay Magazine. Such a special little bakery. I'm trying to think of the calories I've saved myself. Just have to make time for a quick stop on Thursday's return journey. 

If you're in the NSW Southern Highlands area, FWS Bakery is open Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sun & Mon :-(