Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not all cakes work....

Things don't always work the way you want them to. Days, haircuts, relationships, outfits, dates, job trials, conversations, good intentions, and new recipes are all at liberty to go wrong. At times life even just feels like its going wrong. Some days I feel like I should have done so much more with my life by now.  Some dates you just sit there with a boy in a tea room thinking "goodness when is an appropriate time for me to say I need to leave."Some outfits I put together are have much too much quirk and not enough style (my housemate was right, the fashion 'circus chic' which I was trying to instigate never really caught on.) Sometimes you can be so very worn out, and all you want to do is bake a beautiful cake for all your dearest friends, but it looks messy and tastes all wrong!

As a chef, and a person these things just happen.....and unfortunately there is not too much to do.

Its petty I know, but I spent a lot of my day being so incredibly bummed that the cake I made yesterday had a funny texture, and wasn't lovely at all.
('Circus Chic' really wasn't the best of ideas, but you have to try these things.)

We all have things like this....and sometimes we must just dust off our aprons, and count all the good things that have happened, all the things that have gone right that day. I like to think that its proof that I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone when I make mistakes. If everything was always going perfectly maybe I'm not challenging myself enough.

So that is what I will be doing....and baking a new cake.

Until then...


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Making some pie!

Lately I've been getting up at 5am. I have been layering on all the clothes I can find, and trotting off to work placement in the dark. It is cold, and the stars are still out, and no good coffee shops are open. I go to a huge hotel, put on my chefs whites, and spend the day rolling, cutting, baking, sifting, glazing, and piping. I ask 1,000 questions. When all the other placement girls are quietly going about there work I am bursting with things to ask. "Whats that?", "When did you do that?", "How long will that cook for?," "Why didn't you prick the pastry?", "Can I try it?" Luckily no one seems to mind, and I'm picking up lots of handy little tips here and there.

Last week at the hotel I made an apple pie filling that must have been big enough to make hundreds of apple pies. I stood over the stove stirring cinnamon, sugar and butter until it had all melted together, added tones of apples and watched as they bubbled away. The warmth of the stove was so comforting in that freezing kitchen and I was pretty hesitant to leave it. While I was stirring away, I got to thinking about how winter is nearly over. The first signs of spring are popping up here and there, and I cant believe I survived another Melbourne winter! This one seemed so incredibly long at times. I also realised that I haven't made an apple pie this winter.

So I came home....and that is exactly what I did. Despite the fact that I was extremely tired and a tiny grumpy, and had been cooking all day.......I pulled out the flour, sugar and butter and set about making a pie. It cheered me right up in no time at all, and I forgot how tired I was. The kitchen smelt amazing and winter felt so much warmer with the sent of cinnamon and butter in the air. That night we feasted on pie.....and life felt pretty good.

What are you making this winter to warm your homes and hearts?

I've been doing a heap of cooking over this weekend, so I'll have lots of recipes coming your way.......heres a little preview, but until then, have a perfectly lovely day.

(This was truly delicious!)

(These Healthy savoury muffins cheered us all day today)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pink Lemonade Slice

Lately I've been starting to wonder if this Melbourne winter is ever going to end? Today I had a little afternoon nap, and wondered if maybe I should just hibernate and sleep through until the warm weather is back! I am a wee bit grumpy today after a five am start. When I finished work and got home at three I found that I was exhausted.... but there was still more day left to be had. I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around the idea, that despite the fact I had already worked a full day and been into the city, it was not yet time to cook dinner, pour a huge glass of wine and have a relax!! I contemplated pouring a huge glass of wine anyway, but 3pm felt a little early........I went for a nap instead.

The moral of the story is.......I had the grumps today. Work placement always puts me a little on edge. You have to get up before the sun, and bake recipes you have never made before....and hope hope hope you don't make a mistake. It can be a tiny bit Extremely  scary. Today when I was working with another young pastry chef who was waiting for instructions on what to do next, the executive chef walk into the kitchen, looked down at her and said "DONT PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS!!! AT LEAST TRY TO LOOK A LITTLE BIT INTERESTED." Goodness I felt bad for her. I wanted to turn to her and offer a word of comfort or say something like "Don't mind him, he's a jerk," but honestly I was too scared to incase he heard me.

So my plan of action is this:

  1. Never ever ever stand in that kitchen with my hands in my pockets!
  2. Drink a huge bowl full of tea.
  3. Go and pick up my box of organic vegetables that are being delivered today! (We are very excited!)
  4. Strop having the grumps!
  5. And share a Lovely recipe with you!
Over the weekend I tried out this recipe of lemonade slice. Its from a blog called 'Smitten Kitchen.' The recipe is a bit like a lemon slice.......but with raspberries in it for an extra little kick. I meant to make it to take to a girls night I had on......but it all got eaten at my house at an impromptu dinner party. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Lemonade Slice

For the bace:
50g of caster sugar
1/4 tsp of lemon zest
1/8 tsp of salt 
115g of butter
125g plain flour

  1. Cream together the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest until light in colour.
  2. Add the flour, and stir together until a dough forms.
  3. Oil and line a square baking tin, and press the dough with your fingertips into the tin. Don't worry if it isn't completely one will know! Bake this crust in a preheated oven at 180 for 15 to 20 minutes of until lightly golden.
  4. Take out oven and let cool.
 Lemonade Filling:
140g of raspberries
2 large eggs 150g of sugar 
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
40g of plain flour
  1. In a food processor blitz the raspberries until they are all mashed. Then pass them through a sieve to remove any seeds (You will need 3 tbs of this in total.)
  2. Beat together the eggs and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add lemon juice.
  4. Add raspberry puree.
  5. Mix in flour (mine went a little lumpy from the flour so I passed it through the sieve again.)6.
  6. Pour the mix on top of the bace you made earlier and bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until shouldn't have too much wobble when you take it out.
  7. Let cool in the tin for several hours and then slice!
  8. Eat it all at a little dinner party you weren't planning on having. Drink too much wine. Gosh dance on the table!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cheesy Kale Bread

These days my home is always filled with treats. Everywhere you look there is evidence of it. Cook books are always scattered across the dining room table. The mixer is usually going.....and there is ALWAYS cake in the fridge. I wish I was exaggerating.....but I am not. Today on a date a boy asked me if I like eating cake, being a pastry chef and all. "Oh I've got a little bit of a sweet tooth," I lied.....wanting to play down the situation. I felt it would have made a bad impression to say "Yeah I eat  cake everyday....somedays for breakfast." 

Saying like this either gets one of two reactions. Most people thing "Goodness that is unhealthy" and then I have to back it up by telling them how I go for lots of long runs (a tiny bit true) and how I eat healthy a lot of the time too. The other reaction is "Goodness how wonderful!" Mostly I like the people who  come out with the second answer.

I've been working on these wonderful little chocolate cookies this weekend. It was bliss spending all day in the kitchen yesterday baking, and making treats for my friends. So much love comes out of this tiny many dinner parties start because of what goes on in this tiny kitchen.

I know I do go on and on about cake eating quite a lot ......and I can't lie, it does happen a lot, but I don't want you to get the complete wrong idea! As much as we are about cake in this house (and we are) we are also about lots of good organic vegetables (that are grown on a farm just down the road), home made bread, freshly made muesli, lentils, and lots of other healthy things.

Some nights there is nothing that makes me more happy than a huge bowl of vegetables for dinner. There are just so many wonderful things you can make, that make you feel so good and healthy. Lately I've been so addicted to kale chips, and just kale in general. So I thought I'd share with you the recipe for cheesy kale bread my housemate and I made last night. I found the recipe on an amazing blog called 'Fox Lane.' I really recommend you check it out. We adapted the recipe to what we had in the pantry and it turned out super lovely.

Is there any great healthy recipes you are making in your homes? Leave a little message and let me know what you have been baking!

Cheesy Kale Bread

2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of wilted greens cut finely (we used kale and spinach)
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup of tasty grated cheese
salt and pepper
Any dried herbs you feel like adding (I think rosemary, thyme, and sage would all be lovely.....maybe even a few chilli flakes.)

  • Mix all the ingredients together to make a wet dough. (This is soooo simple!)
  • Place the dough on a floured bench and roll into a log.
  • Break into 3 pieces and roll into long sausages. 
  • Plat the 3 pieces together, and place on a tray lined with grease proof paper. 
  • Brush with oil, and sprinkle with a few extra herbs.
  • Bake in a preheated hot oven (200) for 40 minutes

My little kitchen

The things that are going on in my little house and kitchen these days:

There is always a creative project. Someone is always doing something creative, something interesting, something inspiring. There is much talk of growth......of wanting more out of life, of finding more in life, doing things with meaning. Doing beautiful things
 There is fresh bread. To be precise, there is fresh kale and cheese bread. Its delicious and lovely, and goes very well with a roast chicken on a winter night. My housemate and I made up this lovely little loaf, and I'll be sharing the recipe with you asap!
 There is always cookies in our house. I love the fact that before my friends even sit down to have a chat they help themselves to sugar cookies. It makes me so happy to see people feeling so much at home that they can help themselves to baked good.
 There are dance parties.....all the time. Unplanned dance parties happen every day, usually twice a day, when someone gets soooooo sick of sitting and doing homework, or working on a project or just sick of goes up and little dance parties happen. If I'm having an extra bad day I'll dance on the chair to try to shake off my bad mood........if I'm overly excited about something I'll get up on the table and dance.
 The fridge is always filled with organic fresh vegetables.......its great. We feast on them all the time, and have friends over for dinner a lot. Everything is so lovely and healthy that I have to counteract this by eating chocolate and raspberry makes things feel more balanced.
There are lovely friends who drop in. There are lovely friends who call up. I love that my best guy friend calls "just to get some gossip" off me every few days. It makes me giggle that we talk about who dated who and who said what......just for fun, and then get back to our normal grown up lives.
I have been looking for the cutest outfits! And I really love love love this one! Especially the hat! A good outfit can be so very cheering. 

And sometimes when I'm not working, or cooking, or playing with friends I have been going on dates......because I decided it would be fun, and you know what? It really is. So there is much talk in this house of "goodness what should I wear?" "Where should I go?" and then later "what did they where?" and "where did you end up going?" Its such lovely light hearted rot that it really makes me quite happy.
So these are all the beautiful things that make me want to wake up early every morning. These are the little things that have me jumping out of being, and making me feel very grateful...... just because there are wonderful things going on in my little house and kitchen....and life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kale Chips

Today was my first day of work experience in a huge kitchen in the city. I spent the day making hundreds of panna cotta and thousands of pieces of biscotti. It was actually kind of lovely.....and not what I had expected. Previous work experience in the past has been pretty dull so it was nice to just hang out in a huge pastry kitchen and cook.......although there is something to be said about having to get up at 5am when you have a cold and then work in a freezing room all day (so the pastries don't melt.)

The chef looked at me while I was working today and said "why are you so thin? No offence but I don't trust a skinny chef! How can they know their food is good if they aren't tasting it?" It made me laugh.......and want to explain that its all very well and good to want to look like a Nona when you are in the kitchen.....but when it comes to dating in Melbourne, thats another story all together.

Life outside of work experience seems to be flowing quite nicely too. My housemate and I have been making so many healthy treats lately. Over the weekend we made a huge batch of granola.....which was so very addictive. We ended up just eating it out of the tub with a spoon. So yummy!!
(I went to the macaroon shop today as a treat after my first day of placement)

Anyway the other treats which is totally delicious and healthy that we have been getting stuck into lately is kale chips! They are so yummy and easy to make.

Kale Chips!!

You will need:
1 bunch of kale
olive oil

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 180
  • Cut the leaves of the kale away from the stalks
  • Place kale leaves on a tray
  • Sprinkle with some oil and salt
  • Bake chips checking after 5 minutes.
  • They should look dehydrated and be crispy to touch. This may take about 15 minutes.
  • Eat them all!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

This week I ate a lot of ice cream. I would like to note that this ice cream eating had everything nothing to do with seeing huge pictures of my ex all over facebook with a tiny blond wrapped around him......Its just that I like eating ice cream......from the tub.......sitting beside the a daggy clothes.....and staying at home.

Alright! You caught me! I was sooking this week. Goodness knows why? Far be it from me to want to deny happiness from anyone I have ever cared about......but must they be quite so very happy right on my computer screen? It put me in a bit of a funk. I was a rat bag for at least three days and instead of being a grown up and buying groceries, I just bought muffins from the near by cafe for breakfast a couple of days in a row. This is extremely naughty for my budget and my dress size.

So I decided to shake things up. It was time to stop sooking, and start behaving!

I believe very very passionately in the healing powers of a clean room, and a new hair colour whenever I need to change my headspace. I also think starting a creative project is always super constructive to make you change your perspective. So I made some super cute cookies, that were peanut butter flavoured. They were so yummy! Maybe even my favourite sugar cookie recipe so far! I think next time I will add chocolate chips.....just think of that, chocolate chip, peanut butter sugar cookies. AMAZING!

(This is what I do at pastry school when I'm board........I go into the elevator and take photo's of what I'm wearing that day.......super constructive and productive! But while we are on the subject....great outfit right?)

Anyway I'm off to go to a dress up party, stop sooking, have some craft beers, and celebrate life (and my extra blond hair.) Hope your having a good night too!

Peanut Butter sugar cookies
(This recipe is from my favourite cook book at the moment "Biscuiteers Book Of Iced Biscuits"

Peanut Butter Biscuits

250g plain flour
100g brown sugar
Half a tsp of baking powder
65g of butter
65g of golden syrup
One egg lightly beaten
1 to 2 tablespoons of milk
65g peanut butter

  1. Sift together dry ingredients.
  2. Rub butter into the dry mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. This can be done using either your fingertips or a kitchen aid.
  3. Mix in peanut butter, egg, milk and syrup until a dough forms.
  4. Roll dough between two sheets of baking paper and cut into shapes.
  5. Place the shapes on a tray and chill in the fridge for half an hour. 
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Caramelised Pear Cake

I love days off where you have no where to be. You don't have to go anywhere, you don't have to do don't even have to leave the house if you don't want to. Its bliss. Today I spent the day clean up and recovering from a small dinner party (the ratio of wine to person was way too big) with a couple of close friends. We spent the night talking, eating and drinking mulled wine, and it was so lovely to have some quality time with people who really care......about anything, and everything. I feel that this does not go on enough these days.....and everyone is encouraged not to bother caring, not to bother loving, not to bother growing a garden......and in general to just not bother about anything.

I think it can be hard to care, because when we care it hurts.

I was thinking about different ways of caring today, and how people express them. My lovely friends last night, talk so much when they care (which I love.) They get sad, they get angry and they get passionate. When I care, my very first instinct is to bake. I know that sounds strange, but when something sad happens to someone I love, the first thing I thing is "I'll make them a cake." I know logically this doesn't solve any issues or problems....but its my little way of showing I care.

So I'll post a pear and caramel cake recipe.......because, really I DO care a lot.

The other things that have been going on in my life are lots breakfasts with my housemate. She thinks living with me is like having moved into a cafe........which makes me laugh.

I also went to the football the other day.....I'm not really sure why because I don't like the football one bit, but it was kind of ok. I had set my expectation on what it would be like very very low, so when I went (and had some cider) it was surprisingly better than what I thought.

I have been doing lots of organic food shopping at the markets.......its bliss. The house is always full of fresh herbs, vegetables and kale. Its sooo lovely.

Anyway, enough of is a cake recipe for you. Its delicious. I'm sorry there is no photo of it. We ate the cake before I got the chance, so that will just have to stand as testament to how good it was. The recipe is from a book called 'The Good Life,' but I changed it a little bit. I totally recommend checking it out.

Caramelised pear Cake

You will need:

  • 2 pears cut into small dice
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon 
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbs of baking powder
  • 140g of melted butter
  • 160g plain flour
Caramelised pears
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 5 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
What to do:
  • Preheat your oven to 160
  • Oil and line a cake tin with baking paper
  • To make the caramel melt the butter in a pot, add the sugar and stir on a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Turn the caramel to high and cook without stirring until it reaches a golden caramel colour.
  • Add the pear quarters (the juice from the pears will stop the caramel from cooking too much) Cook in the pan for 10 minutes tossing ever so often.
  • Remove the pears from the pan and layer on the bottom of the tin so it makes a nice pattern. Reserve the remaining caramel.
  • To make the cake whisk together the sugar and eggs with an electric beater until thick and pale.
  • Sift in the baking powder, flour and cinnamon. Fold together carefully.
  • Drizzle in the butter and fold together.
  • Add the pear that has been diced and fold together.
  • Tip mix onto of the pears in the tin and flatten with an offset spatular.
  • Pour in the remaining caramel
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling wrack or plate.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hummingbird Cake (Gluten Free!!)

Something I have learnt about Melbourne winters is that you must not let yourself get too cold. The moment the cold creeps into your bones, you instantly become insanely miserable. There are several ways to counteract all these awfully freezing days. I've been trying to come up as many ways to shake the winter blues. Here is my list of tips:

  1. Rug much as freaking possible. I'm talking about hat, globes, scarf, boots, and thermals. You may feel a bit stupid at times.....but you will be happy. Happy and stupid looking
  2. Cook soup......soup makes everything a little better.
  3. Braise meat dishes....there is something sooooo very soothing about a big pot of something delightful simmering away on your stovetop. 
  4. Eat cake..........just do it.
  5. Go for a long run, it warms you up and counteracts all the cake eating.
  6. Chocolate and raspberry sandwiches for breakfast...... don't judge it until you have tried it. 
  7. Take a lover......... one of my friends and I spent a night recently talking about how awful the term 'lover' is. Its just soooooo yicky. I think curling up with a special person by a fire with some soup is wonderful and romantic.........unfortunately I'm lacking a fire place, and a lover this winter. No big deal, there's always next winter.
  8. Dance........You don't even have to go out. At least once a week I put on some music, climb up onto a chair (it makes me feel taller) and dance in front of my housemate as she watches slightly bewildered and confused. 
  9. Get stuck into tea, coffee, hot chocolates and chia. 
  10. Afternoon naps. 
  11. Bake something......just being near the oven helps so very much. 
  12. Get inspired. This really helps to shake the blues.......find something you love doing, and do it. 
  13. Wear your ex boyfriends jumper. It will look awful but it will feel so good (don't act like you don't have one.....we all secretly do.)
  14. Go to bed early. 
  15. Make a Hummingbird cake. It sounds sunny. It tastes sunny, and it will make you FEEL sunny.

Hummingbird Cake

1 1/4 cup of self raising gluten free flour
1 cup of hazelnut meal
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of mixed spice
1/4 cup of rice bran oil
1 cup of mashed banana
450g of crushed pineapple in its juice
2 eggs
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of caster sugar

What to do:

  • Mix together flour, hazelnut meal, coconut, sugar and spices.
  • In a separate bowl mix together pineapple, oil, the yolks of both eggs and the mashed banana.
  • Combine the two mixes.
  • With an electric beater, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. 
  • Rain in the 1 tsp of sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a spatular gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. 
  • Fold in the remaining egg whites.
  • Pour the cake into a cake tin that has been oiled and lined with baking paper. 
  • Place in the oven (preheat the oven first!!! I always forget to mention this!) at 170 and bake for 45 to 50 minutes
40g of soft butter
125 g of soft cream cheese
1 cup of icing sugar 
A squeeze of lemon juice

  • Beat together butter and cream cheese until incorporated
  • Add icing sugar.
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Taste like the spoon a lot because its going to taste great! But also check to see if it needs more lemon or sugar. It really all depends on how sweet you like it.
Cake topping
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/4 cup of dried cranberries (or craisins.... they are sometimes called that too....and I think it sounds very strange.)
1/4 or a lemon rind finely grated. 

  • In a fry pan place the walnuts on medium heat stirring continually. 
  • When the nuts begin to look a little toasty add the coconut.....this shouldn't need too long. Stir constantly because the coconut burns really fast. 
  • Remove from heat when the coconut is slightly brown and the walnuts toasted.
  • Let the mix cool and add the cranberries and lemon rind.
  • Ice the cake with the cream cheese frosting and then sprinkle with the nut mix.