Sunday, 26 April 2015

Espresso & Cashew nut Brownies

The weather in Sydney has been appalling in this past week. This is perfect for an easy afternoon of baking and a sweet treat to have with a cuppa!

100g butter
225g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2t salt *see note*
3/4C caster sugar
1/4C light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2C plain flour
1/2C roasted cashew nuts
NOTE *I used raw, unsalted cashew nuts that I roasted myself. If you're using already roasted & salted nuts, leave out the extra salt or cut back to 1/4t*

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Line a 20 x 20 cm baking tin with baking paper.
3. In a large heat-proof bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water, heat the butter, chocolate, espresso powder & salt until melted & smooth.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 mins. Whisk in the sugars until very well combined, and then add the eggs, one at a time whisking well between each.
5. Add the vanilla.
6. Add the flour and whisk until combined and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the cashews. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
7. Bake for 25-30 mins until just set and top is crusty.

Lemongrass Pork Rice Paper Rolls

My friend Courtney loves rice paper rolls, so when she comes over we often make these together to have for dinner to offset the chocolate and ice cream that usually follows!
Usually we just make them using a BBQ chicken, but this pork is so tasty and works really well in a rice paper roll. You can also use it in a Vietnamese rice noodle salad!

For the pork: Recipe from here

400g pork neck (you might need to go to an asian butcher for this)
3T light brown sugar
1T chopped garlic
1T chopped shallot
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, bashed and finely chopped
1/4t white pepper
2t dark soy sauce
3T fish sauce
1 large green or red chilli, seeds removed (or leave in if you like lots of heat) and finely chopped
1T oil
1t sesame oil

For the rice paper rolls

Rice paper
vermicelli noodles
carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
cucumber, de-seeded and cut into matchsticks
cashew nut or peanuts (optional)
Cooked lemongrass pork

Dipping sauce
2T lime juice
2T brown sugar
2T fish sauce
chopped chili, garlic, coriander (optional)

1. Finely slice the pork neck. I chopped mine into smaller pieces,but in hindsight I would leave in larger fillets and then chop up after it has been BBQ'd
2. Place the sugar, garlic, shallot & lemongrass into a food processor and blend until finely chopped (or you could do this by hand)

3. Pour mixture out into a bowl and add the white pepper, dark soy, fish sauce, chilli and oils. Stir to combine.

4. Add the pork and turn to coat well in the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (Up to 24).
5. When ready to cook, take out of the fridge 45mins before cooking.
6. Using a BBQ or grill pan on medium high, cook the meat until cooked through.

To make rice paper rolls
1. Soften the vermicelli noodles in recently boiled water, drain and refresh under cold water. Set aside and make sure they are dry before using
2. Place some warm water in large flat bowl or dish and 1 rice paper at a time, dip in the water until it has softened.
3. Place the rice paper flat on the surface into front of you and layer the vermicelli noodles, coriander, mint, cucumber, carrot pork and nuts.
4. Roll the bottom edge up over the filing, fold in both sides and then continue to roll up until you have a neat little roll.

5. Store under a damp tea towel or paper towel until you are ready to eat or store in the fridge. These are better eaten straight away, but leftovers are fine the next day.
6. Combine all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved.
7. Serve the rolls with the dipping sauce

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Ham & Cheese Quiche

If, like our house you've still got about a quarter of a leg of ham in your fridge after Christmas, this is a great recipe to use some of it up, especially if you're sick of ham sandwiches!


1 savoury pastry case
1 Cup leftover chopped leg ham (or you could use bacon if you've got no ham, just cook it first)
100g tasty cheese
1/2 bunch chives
4 eggs
1/2 Cup thickened cream


  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C. Place pastry case on a tray. Cook in the oven for 10 mins.
  2. Take 1 egg and whisk it up a little. Brush the pastry case with the egg and place back in the oven for 5 more minutes, it should be a light brown colour. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  3. Grate the cheese and finely chop the chives.
  4. Mix the remaining 3 eggs with the cream and pepper (you don't need salt as the ham & cheese is salty enough).
  5. Layer the ham, cheese and chives in the pastry case.
  6. Slowly pour over the egg & cream mixture, give it a shake to get it into all the little spaces.
  7. Bake for a further 20-25mins until filling is set and slightly browned on top.
  8. Serve warm or cold with a side salad.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Well I can't quite believe that it's been 12 months since I last posted on here. The year has absolutely flown! I thought I'd break my drought with a couple of recipes that I cooked for my family & friends this Christmas. Hopefully they may come in handy next year if you're looking for some inspiration.

Christmas Day Nibblies

I kept it simple this Christmas Day with just a couple of small canapes. I love a good cheese platter, but more often that not, people fill up on it, and don't leave enough room for the mains!
The canapes I did were:
- smoked salmon wonton cups (recipe to follow)
- Chorizo stuffed dates with Capsicum sauce. Recipe Here
- Pan fried haloumi with lemon
- pan fried chorizo

Smoked Salmon Wonton Cups

- Wonton wrappers (picture of ones I used below)
- 1 tub cream cheese
- 1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped
- 1 lemon
- 100g smoked salmon, torn into pieces
- Salt & pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
  2. Place wonton wrappers into the holes of a small muffin tin.

  3. Bake in the oven until lightly golden brown and crisp to the touch. Allow to cool completely. Once cool, these can be stored in an air-tight container for a day or 2.
  4. Meanwhile in a bowl, combine the cream cheese, chives & dill.
  5. Add the finely grated lemon rind and a good squeeze of the juice. 
  6. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add more lemon if you think it needs it.
  7. When you're about to serve them, spoon the cream cheese mix into each case and top with a piece of salmon. Don't fill the cases in advance as they will go soggy.
Some other filling ideas for the wonton cases:
- Avocado & tomato salsa
- chicken, mayo, basil, sundried tomatoes & slivered almonds
- chopped prawns, mayo, lemon & shredded lettuce
- Roast beef, horseradish cream & rocket

Rolled Turkey Breast with Pork & Cranberry stuffing

- 1.5(ish)kilo turkey breast (I had to order this online from Butcherman)
- 1/2 Cup fresh breadcrumbs (I blitz up stale or leftover bread in a food processor and keep in a container in the fridge)
- 1/3 Cup milk
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 40g butter
- 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 70g rocket, finely chopped
- 6 Pork & Fennel, or Italian pork sausages
- 1/3 Cup slivered almonds or pistachios that have been toasted (chop the pistachios up a little)
- 1/2 Cup dried cranberries
- salt & pepper
-  4 eschallots, peeled & cut in half
- 3 Cups chicken stock
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (whole)
- 13 sprigs thyme


  1. Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 T oil & 20g butter in a frypan. Add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic & the leaves from 3 springs of thyme and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add in the rocket and allow it to wilt. Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool down.
  4. Meanwhile, if your turkey breast comes in a net, like mine did, remove it from the net and open it out. 

  5. You want it to be nice and flat and have a space to put the filling. I removed part of the fillet and put that on the side. You are going to tie it up anyway, so it should all work itself out.
  6. Season the inside of the turkey with salt & pepper.
  7. Take the sausages out of their casing and break up the mince with a spoon.

  8. Once the onion & rocket mix has cooled down, add to the sausage mince along with the breadcrumb/milk mix, nuts & dried cranberries. Combine really well, you might need to get your hands in.
  9. Place about 1/3 of the stuffing into the turkey breast. Fold up the breast around the stuffing and tie at intervals with kitchen string. Season the outside with salt & pepper.

  10. Place extra butter & oil into a heavy based saucepan (I used my Chassuer cast iron pot). Once melted and foaming, place the turkey breast & eschallots in. Brown really well on both sides.
  11. Once the turkey is well browned, add in the chicken stock, lemon zest, peppercorns & remaining thyme sprigs.
  12. Bring liquid to the boil and then turn right down to a simmer. Place the lid on and cook for 45-60 mins. If you've got a meat thermometer, you want the internal temperature to be about 75 degrees when it's done.
  13. With the leftover stuffing, place a large piece of baking paper ontop of a large piece of foil. Place the leftover stuffing in a log shape down the length of the paper. 
  14. Wrap up the baking paper and foil to create a log shape. Cook this in the oven for approx 30-40 mins. 
  15. Serve along side the turkey with a gravy made from the liquid to come out of the turkey pot.

Spiced Flour-less Chocolate Cake (Based on this recipe)

For the cake
- 150g chopped dark chocolate (I used lindt 70%)
- 150g soft butter
- 6 large eggs
- 250g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100g hazlenut meal
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- zest of 1 small orange
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder

For the topping
- Juice of 1 small orange
- 15g butter
- 1 Tablespoon caster sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 50 grams flaked almonds, toasted

- Vanilla ice cream to serve

  1. Take anything you need out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. The only truly important thing, however, is that the eggs aren’t cold, so if they are, just put them into a bowl and cover with warm water for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter the sides and line the bottom of a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl, in a microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or suspended over a pan of simmering water, and set aside to cool slightly.

  4. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until thick, pale and moussy. They should have at least doubled in volume, even tripled. 

  5. Gently fold in the hazlenut meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest and espresso powder, taking care not to lose the air you have whisked in. 

  6. Then pour and scrape in the melted, slightly cooled, chocolate and butter, folding gently again.

  7. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, by which time the top of the cake should be firm, and the underneath still a bit gooey.
  8. Remove from the oven, and sit it on a wire rack, draped with a clean tea towel, to cool completely.
  9. To make the topping for the cake, put the orange juice into a small, preferably non-stick, frying pan with the butter, sugar and cinnamon and melt everything together, then let it sizzle for a minute or so and begin to caramelize before adding the almonds.

  10. Stir everything together, and occasionally tip the pan to keep it all moving; what you want is for all the liquid to disappear and the nuts to look shiny and be coated thinly in a fragrant, orange-scented toffee.

  11. Remove to a plate and cool.
  12. Unspring the cake and transfer to a cake stand or plate.
  13. Scatter with the almonds and serve with the vanilla ice cream.