Wednesday, 10 December 2014


This week my big two finished school for the year.

It's been a big one. Both of them achieving great successes in different ways. Sometimes through hardship and wonky pathways.
I am talking not necessarily about awarded successes but rather intangible success.
Success in becoming who they are.

Sometimes the measure of success is a bit of a blurry thing I reckon.
Blurry in the sense that awards sometimes don't recognise really huge achievements that really count.

As is customary at most schools there is a Speech night & awards are handed out.  The principal and other senior teachers and children say a few words.

At this speech night, our big kids school Principal said something that really stuck with me.
It was this:

Don't think of your education as the things you learn here but as something that you can go away and give to others.

Powerful words.

I love that idea.  That what we learn throughout our life only become worthwhile if we give it away.
Our knowledge is only useful if we share it.

The act of giving.  A wonderful thing to focus on at this time of year.

Not giving things and stuff but giving ourselves.

Giving love.

I made this cake last week and LOVED it.
My mate Stacey is coming over tomorrow and so I have baked another one to share with her.
This is a great Christmas time cake as it's spice makes it festive.
I used this recipe for inspiration but made a few changes.
Upside down cakes are so great & really quite easy.  Just be sure to line your cake tin with baking paper. I find using a springform tin helps too, although I used a well greased silicon tin for the one pictured here and it worked really well (the trick to using silicon cake tins is to lie them on a baking tray to pop in and out of the oven as they are floppy and the cake will break as you move it).


for the spiced salted caramel:

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 5 oranges, skin on, sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
for the cake:
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon bi-carb
  • 250g salted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 6-7 slices cooked orange slices from spiced salted caramel 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 175C.

First we make the Spiced salted Caramel.
Place sugar, water, spices, salt and sliced oranges into a non stick fry pan.
Spread the orange slices evenly around the pan.
Turn on the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
Once the sugar has dissolved, turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes or so until the pith of the orange becomes transparent.
Remove from heat and stir in butter.
Remove 6-7 slices from this mix to be added to the cake batter and set aside the rest to cool.
In a mixer add butter & sugar and mix till fluffy & light.
Add the eggs.

Chop the cooked orange slices coarsely and add these.
Now add the almond meal & sour cream & mix.

Slowly add the flour, baking powder & bi-carb.

Grease and line a 23cm springform tin.

Arrange the whole orange slices around the tin and pour some of the caramel over the top (I save some of mine to serve with the cake later).

Now carefully add the cake batter on top and smooth over so it is fairly uniformly spread across the tin.

Place into the oven and cook for at least an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from oven and use a knife to separate the caramel from the edge.
Let cool and invert onto a serving plate.

Serve with some of the reserved caramel sauce.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

NEW GG Clog Brooches

I dream of having my very own range of Clogs one day.
I wear Clogs each & every day.
They are the only shoes I wear (apart from runners when I run).
I have been collecting them for years now.

So while I am dreaming of making REAL clogs to wear on your feet, I have come up with my very own GG Clog Brooch to wear on your shirt - the only one of it's kind.

Last week I made up a small batch limited edition Red Brooch to see what you all thought.

I had no idea they would be so popular! Of course that makes me ridiculously happy.
To know little clogs are happily being worn all around the place makes me smile.
I totally get that while you may love the idea of wearing clogs,  maybe they are just not the thing for your feet!
These brooches may be the answer.

Instead of wearing them on your feet you can wear them on your fave shirt, or dress or jacket or give them to a fave friend. YAY!

I now have them available in four different options.
GLITTER RED because everyone needs a Disco Clog right?!  

You can buy them by clicking HERE or by clicking on the Top RHS of my blog.

Thank you to all of you who have been supporting my work this year by purchasing classes, goodie bags, clog brooches & super-power aprons.


Friday, 28 November 2014

A project built upon Kindness & Gratitude

Last night I had the pleasure of attending my very first Thanksgiving event.
It was really a celebration of the beginning of a beautiful project by Winnie & Co- The Bakers Drawer.

The makers describe it as such : "simply a movement of kindness, based on gatherings around a kitchen table."
You know my love of the Kitchen table,  so this project was always on my radar.

It is about showing Random acts of Kindness.  Filling the drawer with love- of your own making and then sharing it with someone.  So beautiful.
Last night Kate & Kylie gathered with the owners of the first batch of Bakers Drawer owners to share stories of Kindness & gratitude. It was beautiful & an absolute pleasure to be part of it.

Each drawer is named after the person who inspires you to bake.
Mine is named MAGGIE.  She is named after Maggie Beer- my inspiration and mentor as a self-taught cook & lover of life & giver of love & joie de vive.

Last night I filled Maggie with a Nectarine & Pistachio Galette made with it's namesakes Sour Cream pastry. It seemed fitting that it's first offering contained a little bit of her.

I am so thankful that there are people who invest in love & the sharing of it.
May Kindness never go out of fashion.

You can find out more about The Bakers Drawer here (including details of how to purchase your very own). 


I only used half the batch of pastry last night to make the sweet galette & so I used the remainder to make this.
Really anything wrapped in this pastry is AMAZING but adding the Nigella seeds into the dough is so perfect for this Middle Eastern flavoured tart. And I will have to work very hard NOT to drizzle the Tahini sauce over EVERYTHING. it is incredible- but especially delicious with caramelised Eggplant I think. 


  • 1 eggplant cut into 1cm slices
  • 1/4 cup grated Haloumi
  • 2 teaspoons Nigella seeds
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, finely crushed
  • 3-4 tablespoons white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt
  • 1/2 batch sour cream pastry (recipe here)
  • paprika for dusting
  • olive oil
Preheat the oven to 190.
Fry the sliced eggplant in olive oil until caramelised on both sides.
Set aside to cool while you roll the pastry.
Dust the bench well with flour & sprinkle a layer of Nigella seeds directly on top.
Now place your pastry onto this and roll it out so the Nigella seeds embed into the pastry like so....

Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Carefully roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and roll it out onto the tray.
Now add the sliced eggplant and the grated Haloumi. Fold over the edges of the Galette roughly 

and place into pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until pastry is brown.

Make the Tahini sauce while it is baking by adding together the Tahini, vinegar, cumin, lemon juice and garlic. Stir well and add salt if necessary.

Remove Galette from oven and serve immediately drizzled with Tahini sauce, freshly chopped Coriander & a dusting of Paprika.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hola! It's a giveaway

One of the luckiest things about being a blogger is that I sometimes get an opportunity to share really GREAT stuff that I get sent with YOU- my readers!

This week I am sharing with you a gorgeous new publication by Phaidon press  thanks to the ace peeps at Small Talk PR.

When this arrived and I opened it, I literally gasped at it's beauty.

Mexico - the Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte is one of the loveliest books I have had the pleasure of looking through in along while.

I had the good fortune of my sister & her husband living in Mexico in San Cristobel de las casas (in the state of Chiapas) in the 90's to help open my eyes to the joys and freshness of authentic Mexican food. It is far more complex and varied than the food we seem to equate it with.
Mexican food is seeing a  bit of a renaissance in Australia, ably helped along by some of the food trucks who are opening our eyes to Mexican food being more than stodgy Chilli Con Carne.
It reminds me of what happened with Thai and Indian (and now Vietnamese food) - as it's popularity surged so did the availability of more authentic recipes.

This book is divided into sections- street food & snacks, salads and starters, eggs, soups, fish & seafood, meat, vegetables, sauces, rice & beans, breads and pastries, drinks & desserts and the FAB section of Guest Chefs- including Andrew Logan from Melbourne's Mamasita .

I love cookbooks that really give you a deeper insight into the culture behind the cuisine & teach us more about the foods that we eat.

Did you know that the mexicans use Tortillas- their flatbread made of maize corn flour- in HUNDREDS of ways, not just to wrap tacos? And that it has been a staple in their cuisine since Ancient times.
And did you know there are around THREE HUNDRED varieties of Chillies- and not just the red & green ones that many of us are familiar with?
Some of the cultures that have influenced Mexican food are Spanish, Mediterranean & Jewish.

So interesting huh?! Reading cookbooks can teach you so much about our interesting and delicious world!

the best news is.........

I have a copy of this EXQUISITE publication to give away to on of you LUCKY readers, thanks to Small Talk PR.

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you would love this book to join your others in your cookbook shelf. Be creative with your answers!

Terms & Conditions are available to view HERE.

Buen Provecho!

{Congratulations to Reannon the winner of this competition. Happy cooking & bye bye nasty el paso packets!}

Images courtesy of SmallTalk PR

Friday, 14 November 2014

30 minute Vegetarian Burritos with Home made flat bread.

Tomorrow my eldest lad heads off into the Wilderness for a week.

All week he has been sitting exams & in between study breaks he has been preparing for a 7 day self catered hike through the Victorian Alps.

The kids will be carrying their own food, tents, and clothing & be led by nothing more than a compass and a map and the glorious wilderness of the High country.
They have had to design their own menu, shop together for ingredients and work out who is carrying what. They will cook on little Trangia each night surrounded by nothing but the Wilderness.

These kinds of experiences are so so great. And the timing is perfect.
Right after a very stressful time where the culmination of the year's work comes down to a test in a weird silent environment, so different to their every day, they head off to clear their heads and take part in an activity that takes them back to the basics of being alive.

It will take most of the kids right out of their comfort zone.  From what my lad tells me most are really NOT looking forward to it at all.
My lad really really is & I love that.
He knows it won't be easy but he is still looking forward to it.
Hard stuff isn't always bad. I love that he understands that challenges aren't always insurmountable, even the ones that really do seem to be at the time.

From past experience we know that for lots of the kids that take part in this it can be a life changing experience.  It will help them muster inner strength they never knew they had.  Some will experience the beauty and solitude of the Wilderness for the first time in their life. These things stay with you forever. A reminder of the things that matter.

I love that he knows how much nature has to offer.
I love how he gets that being away from all the devices and day to day comforts is not really about taking away but adding to their life.
I love that he is excited about cooking outside every day- one of our family's very favourite things to do.

There were times this week I looked at him and just had tears. I was both proud and incredulous at how lucky I am.

I wish I was going too........
Gosh I will miss him. But I am so grateful that he is doing this and happy to know he will be sucking every ounce of the experience into his very being.

30 minute VEGETARIAN BURRITOS with Homemade Flatbread:
This is a 30 minute recipe from scratch! TRUE story.
This is what my lad is cooking for the first night's dinner (the breads will be pre-made).
So easy and incredibly nutritious and high in protein & low in cost. Perfect everyday food but especially perfect for hiking energy!
I promise even you die-hard meat eaters will love these and not miss the meat. They are super tasty and filling.
My flatbreads are based on the trusty River Cottage recipe  (but mine use no yeast) but LunchLady has a gorgeous one using Sourdough starter if you have some of that!


  • 1kg Red Kidney beans (presoaked- or use good quality tinned ones)
  • 2 onions chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a bunch of fresh coriander - roots to add to the beans & save the tops to add to Burritos as you wrap them
  • a little extra water
  • salt
  • 500g flour
  • 300g lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
for the flatbread ~

Combine the flour, water and oil and knead for 5 minutes until well combined & elastic.
Let rest, covered for 15 minutes (you can start the Beans while it is resting).

Once it has rested, roll it into a sausage and divide into about 10 portions.

Roll out each portion and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Heat a heavy pan (no oil!) to high. Once pan is hot reduce the heat and dry pan fry the breads on either side until they brown.  The bread puffs up beautifully as it cooks.

Lay on a plate and cover with a tea towel until ready to serve.

for the Beans ~ 

Add some oil to a pan on medium high heat.
Add onions and cook well until translucent and completely soft- about 10 minutes.
Now add the finely chopped coriander roots and the garlic and stir gently for a minute or two.
Add the spices and stir till the spices smell fragrant- about a minute.
Now add the pre-soaked Kidney beans and stir well.
Add a little water and cook for about 10 minutes so that all the lovely flavour has soaked into the beans and there is not much liquid in the pan.

Serve onto the flatbreads and add accompaniments of your choice.
We added Cheese, Sriracha chilli sauce, finely sliced Spanish Onion, fresh coriander, tomatoes & lemon juice.

I know I posted the LP version of this a few weeks ago but my kids and I CAN NOT get enough of this track.
TURN IT UP as you knead that dough people!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wonky, Broken & Real

The internet is a funny place.

It brings a lot of joy.





Yet alongside that is the not so awesome.

The viciousness.

The cowardice masked behind anonymity.

The 'Perfection'.

This morning I was in a hurry to bake something for someone special.

It took longer than usual to bake & so I turned it out in a hurry to have it cool.

I know better than to do that yet time..... stoopid time.

So I turned it out.

Then this.......

I posted it on my Instagram and my Facebook.

I wanted people to know that I too have failures in my kitchen.

That failing is normal.

Failing is ok.

See, I believe that failure is not really failure at all.

It's just a segue to getting where we were heading.

I wonder what people reading here imagine me to be sometimes.

I am not perfect.  At all.

Nor do I try to be.

This morning I looked at that cake & thought it looked like me.

A bit wonky & broken but full of love.

PS. It was the delicious Vegan Wacky Cake. (recipe here) 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

You are never fully dressed without a smile.

I posted this song on my Facebook page this morning.

I have been thinking about it since.
I feel as if it is really true you know. The idea that you are never fully dressed without a smile.

I think part of my desire to dress in colour is my outward expression of finding happiness.
Smiling and happiness kind of go hand in hand don't they.

People often say to me "You are always so happy, so relaxed".
I'm not. Just as I am sure you are not.
ALWAYS is a LONG time!
But I really really try to be both of those things.

I have had my fair deal of hardships.  Some crippling for a LONG time.
Some I still struggle with every single day and I have come to accept that they are part of me.
Part of a whole.
Some parts good, some not so good.
Some parts I am comfortable with , some that make me uneasy.
Some parts I feel I have achieved what I want,  some a work in progress.
I accept that every person is a work in progress, always doing their very best at any given point.
Everyone's reality is a very different thing on any given day.

One thing I try really really hard to do each day is to find joy.
Joy in small things.
Things that don't have quantifiable or monetary value as such but the small simple pleasures.

A smile is one of them.
A smile is not bound by language.
It is a communal and universal gesture of kindness.

Years ago I wrote this post about how we love to use our front yard and I  mentioned an elderly lady who lives in my street.
She has been walking up and down my street every day that we have lived here- I think we worked out the other day that it is SEVEN years!

Every time I saw her I would look at her, smile and say Hello. Every time for the first five years she would duck her head and keep walking.

Then one day she didn't duck her head.
That one day she looked me in the eyes and said in a very quiet & heavily accented voice "Hello" and nodded with a smile.
After she had walked past my fence a tear rolled down my cheek.
It all made sense.
She hadn't been saying 'Hello' or acknowledging me, not because she was grumpy or didn't want to interact but because she didn't speak a word of English & she was frightened to speak.
I felt overcome. It was such a big thing. And I am so so glad that I kept on saying 'Hello'.
Our communal language was a smile.
She smiles and says 'Hello' every day now. There is no need for more words than that one.
So much power in one word and one gesture.

I hope something or someone makes you smile today.
It feels so so good.
Both to receive and to give.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Welcome to GG HQ

I mostly work from home.
Previously my office was the dining table, my bed or the couch.
Or any space I could make some room in......
Often it wasn't all that productive and a total pain for the rest of the family having to skirt around my mess.

But last week I started to create  my very own studio space under the stairs.
It's 'GG HQ' in fact.
My VERY OWN space. Oh my! I feel FANCY!
Totes profesh!
I think I am going to be super productive in this happy place.

It's amazing what you can make out of a few napkins, some plywood, some floor paint, some peg board, a little bit of craziness & a whole lot of colour.
I love it so much I don't think I will ever leave.
It is still asking for a few more of my bits n pieces and over time I will share some of these little things and tell you why they are special to me.
I like the way knick knacks have stories, don't you?

There is also another little plan I have for this space that I am yet to implement but I'll share that too, when its done!

This week's motto is:
"I just want to make nice things, drink good coffee and BE KIND."

Today's time making nice things in my studio was spent packaging up this month's Gourmet Goodie bags.

You can find out more about them here.

I really LOVE making these up each month.

I found this on the interwebz today and had to share it with you.

What are you guys up to today?
What cool stuff have you found on the interweb lately?
Tell me ALL about it!

Monday, 27 October 2014

How to make Lemon Pilau Rice

Today I am packaging up this month's Gourmet Goodie Bags to send out to my Cooking club subscribers after a pretty patchy sleep.

If you aren't sure what my cooking club is- it is my way of inspiring people to try out some new flavours and methods in the kitchen.  Each month I put together a Goodie Bag with a core ingredient and a collectible colour printed recipe card and written letter explaining the origins of the ingredient and some other ideas of how to use it.  It is a fun thing to buy for yourself or a super ace gift idea.

I LOVE putting these together each month and really hope all my subscribers are enjoying them too!

There was the most glorious thunderstorm here in Melbourne last night that was super noisy and bright.

I had to be out on the roads before 7am and it was HAIRY.  Be safe peeps if you are out there today.

I will be downing coffee and powering through.

What are you guys up to today?

This may be a dish you have ordered with your take-away Indian.
Did you know it is SUPER easy to make at home? I am going to let you in on the secret so you can vamp up your Indian meals. Fancy rice made simple!
It is so unbelievably more-ish that I could happily just eat this alone and nothing else.

Although it does add a lovely astringent zing to heavily flavoured curries.
And is great served cold as a BBQ Rice salad too.

It is perfect served with the Onion Bhaji's I shared last week.

What you will need:

  • 2 cups cooked & still warm Basmati rice 
  • 2 tblspoons Ghee (if you don't have Ghee, use a mix of half Butter & half Oil
  • 1/4 cup Cashew  nuts
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • juice & rind of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • salt

Have the cooked and still warm rice nearby in a large bowl.

Heat the Ghee to a medium heat in a heavy based non-stick pan.
When melted, add Mustard seeds and fry gently till they begin to pop (3-4 minutes).

Add the cashew nuts and curry leaves.

Now turn off the heat and add the lemon rind, lemon juice and turmeric.

Pour this lovely fragrant spice mix into the cooked Basmati rice.

Add fresh coriander and salt to taste and stir through well.

Serve with your favourite Indian curries.

'The rain is falling........'

Monday, 20 October 2014

Onion Rings (Indian style)

Who doesn't love a good ol' Onion Ring?

These delicious morsels , sometimes called Onion Bahji,  were initially made to sit atop other dishes as a garnish but have since become a lovely little snack in their own right.

They make the most wonderful accompaniment to any curry.

The Spring has me in a haze of hayfever that has kind of turned to a headcold.
There is a theory that a cut onion is the cure-all for a cough.
I was going for the 'ingest an onion' cure here!
In any case these made me feel better.

Such a tasty treat and with ingredients I always have readily at hand.

ONION RINGS (Indian Style):
I shallow fry these in a mix of Rice bran oil and Ghee to get the loveliest buttery flavour.
I served mine with a fave dipping sauce- Mint & Yoghurt Chutney.
These would make a great pre dinner nibble & are best served piping hot.

  • 2 onions sliced into 1 1/2 cm rings
  • 1 cup Chickpea (besan or gram ) flour
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  • water
  • 2 tablspoons rice bran oil & 2 tblspoons ghee

In a medium size bowl mix the flour and spices and salt.
Add chopped coriander and now water, little by little until you have what resembles a thick pancake batter.

It is ideal to let the batter rest (as you would to Pancake batter) but sometimes we just need to eat this stuff right?!

Add onion rings directly to this batter and mix through gently to coat.

Heat Oil & Ghee in a heavy pan to medium high heat.

Drop a little batter into the pan and if it sizzles you are ready to go!

Add a few onion rings at a time to the heated oil/ghee mix and fry till brown, turn and do same to other side.

Place onto paper towel and serve immediately.

I serve mine with Minted Yoghurt chutney which is made by blitzing 1/2 bunch mint, a knob of ginger, a teaspoon of sugar together and then adding 1/4 cup plain yoghurt together.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Most Amazing Fruit and Nut cake

You may remember the Date, Carrot & Walnut cake that I baked recently.

A super easy tasty cake.

Well I have been experimenting a little with it ( I can't leave well enough alone!).

The last time I baked it I added LOTS more nuts and added Pistachios & it was really delicious.

Today I turned it into THE MOST AMAZING FRUIT AND NUT CAKE- no word of a lie!

I have this enduring memory of an amazing fruit and nut cake that my mother made for Christmas one year that was seemingly just nuts and fruit and was barely held together with cake batter.  I'm not sure where that recipe was from- maybe an old Vogue entertaining cook book? In any case it is a lovely food memory from our childhood kitchen that was always teeming with people and cooking activity at that time of year.  Music playing and mess all around. Happiness.

When I was last at the Organic grocer I picked up some gorgeous dried Turkish figs and some Cacao nibs. I had in mind adding them to my Date & Carrot cake to oomph things up a notch.

Today was the day.

It seems this cake can take all manner of things thrown at it or in it.

In the bowl it looked as if there was no batter at all but just a conglomeration of carrots, nuts and dried fruit.

And then after an hour this appeared........

We were *forced* to eat it hot straight out of the oven.

I know you understand........

As I said before this is a variation of my earlier published Date, Carrot and Walnut cake with the Fruit and nut part of the ingredient list amped up to eleven.
AMAZING, easy & totally delicious.
Hop to it people! It is outrageously delicious. The textures and flavours are complex, interesting and I am sure TOTALLY good for you!


1 cup chopped dates
3 grated carrots
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup whole walnuts
1 cup roughly chopped Brazil nuts
1 cup roughly chopped Turkish figs
1/4 cup Cacao nibs
2 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 cup SR flour
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp Bi carb
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder

150g cream cheese
130g icing sugar
50g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest & juice of a lemon

Preheat oven to 175C.

Place all ingredients in bowl & mix through.

Place into greased and lined 23cm springform tin. (I used a rectangular glass lasagne dish lined with baking paper this time as my tin was in the dishwasher- worked a treat) 

You may need to flatten ingredients down with a spatula.

Place in oven for an hour or until skewer comes out clean.

Let completely cool before spreading cream cheese frosting.(made by mixing icing sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, lemon zest & juice together).

Or.......slice and eat immediately while still hot.

I watched a really great tv show about Mental Illness on iView last night presented by comedian Felicity Ward- Felicity's Mental Mission.
You can watch it here.
There was the most amazing heartfelt piece by Missy Higgins in it & she palyed a track she had written at 18years ofa ge to her friend who was suffering from Depression.
It reminded me of how much I loved her music and her voice.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Wartime Chocolate Cake (Vegan Wacky Cake)

I LOVE this recipe.

I first found out about it from my dear friend & very fine baker to boot- Michelle. If she says something is good it is worth listening!

I must say I was sceptical as to a cake with no eggs. How could that possibly work?
It is an amazing example of the science of baking. It is the exacting requirements of baking that give a spontaneous cook like me trouble.
I do a lot of baking but it will never be my bestie. Far too many rules!

But it is these rules of science that allowed wartime cooks to make substitutes in times of rationing & still ensure great results.
Eggs & dairy were scarce during the depression and war years and this recipe omits both of these- making it a Vegan cake also!

It's final fluffy tasty result belies the ingredients- or lack of. It is a SUPERSTAR recipe worthy of becoming a regular in your kitchen.
The vinegar reacts with the baking powder allowing the rise that would normally require eggs. Magic really!

I baked a double batch today, one large cake and a batch of mini-cupcakes for lunchboxes.

It is incredibly easy, many people make it in the dish they will bake in. A one dish cake- AMAZING!

I urge you to give it a go- if for nothing else to appreciate the science and wonder of baking.

There are a lot of versions of this cake on the interweb.
I use this version with great success.


  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/3 cup rice bran oil
  • 1 cup water
Preheat oven to 170C.

Mix all dry ingredients and stir through to combine.
Add wet ingredients and stir through well.
Pour batter into a greased & lined 30cm square baking tin (or into muffin cases).
Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Torta Pasqualina (Italian Vegetable Pie)

My Veggie beds are filled with the onset of Spring.

So is my head. It's not as happy as my Veggie patch.....

Melbourne is notorious for dishing up hayfever at levels beyond tolerable.

Despite the way I feel it gives me complete and utter joy to head out to the veggie patch and come back inside with arms laden.

I have spoken before here of how although me and my family are meat eaters we probably only eat meat 3-4 times a week.  For reasons of personal and environmental health.  When we are so lucky in Australia to be able to obtain such beautiful vegetable produce it makes total and utter sense to grab the opportunity to celebrate the Veg!

Yesterday as I looked out to the backyard and saw the Veggie patch literally overflowing my mind wandered to this Traditional Italian Easter pie.  I have seen it & read about it but have never made one before.  Yesterday seemed like the perfect excuse.

The few days previous had been pretty tough going,  back to school and changing to Daylight savings time meant I had five VERY tired children on my hands.  It wasn't pretty.
Pastry making was in order.
It provides a meditative calm.  Hands in, mind empty. Perfect.

I - as usual - have messed things up from the Traditional method (and am bracing for the  usual backlash).

But as a cook, I encourage everyone to mix things up a little. I'm not sure really that we do anyone any favours in the kitchen by being so adamant about how 'things should be just so'. Sometimes it fails but I say- go for it! See what happens- if it fails well so be it and move ahead to something else next time.
Having an open mind in life and in the kitchen is a good thing I think.  Being open to new ways, new methods, differing flavours- this is how we discover new loveliness after all!

And loveliness is a thing to aim for right?!

As I mentioned above this is Traditionally served at Easter time- but in Italy Easter is at Spring so I figured I may be forgiven.
The idea remains the same- a celebration of new beginnings and bounty.

Often it uses Ricotta  but I didn't have any, instead substituting Fetta.
Really I think you could use almost any manner of fillings.
The idea remains the same- fill a gorgeous pastry lining with yumminess = WIN!

I used Maggie Beer's famous (and failsafe) Sour Cream Pastry for the casing. Oh my.
If you are scared of pastry making this recipe will become your new best friend.
This pie is big enough to serve 8 people for dinner with salad.


for the pastry:

  • 200g butter, diced
  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g sour cream
for the pie filling:
  • 8 whole peeled hard boiled eggs
  • 1 large bunch silverbeet, chopped (stalks as well!)
  • a large bunch Broad bean pods, blanched and outer husks removed.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 200g fetta, crumbled
  • 5 potatoes, sliced and pan fried till golden
  • nutmeg
  • butter
  • S & P

 for the pastry~
Place diced butter and flour in a food processor and blitz till like breadcrumbs.
Add sour cream and blitz till combined.
Remove onto a floured surface and work till combined.
Roll into a large ball and cover with cling film. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out on a floured bench.

For the pie~
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a non- stick pan (medium heat).
Add the onion and fry till translucent.  Add garlic. Fry till fragrant - a minute or so.

Add silverbeet stems & fry till soft.
Now add the leaves and fry till soft. Add broad beans & stir through.
Season with S & P and grate a generous amount of Nutmeg.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Grease and line a 23cm Springform cake tin.

Cut 1/3 of the pastry ball off (this will be the lid of your pie!)

Roll out the other 2/3rds pastry to about 3mm and then carefully roll the entire circle back around the rolling pin very gently (so the rolling pin is covered in the pastry).

Now lift the rolling pin - with pastry on it- over the cake tin and carefully roll out the pastry making sure to leave enough pastry to use as the walls leaving a bit to hang over the edges too.

Gently add some silverbeet mix and then the boiled eggs, then the spuds and then the fetta cheese and finally some more silverbeet- or use whatever fillings you fancy!

Now roll out that saved 1/3 pastry to 3mm thickness and use the base of the tin to press the outline gently to get your sizing right.
Cut around this mark and place on top of your pie.
Cut a small air hole- or prick a few holes with a fork.

Press edges together to seal and place into preheated oven for 30 mins or until pastry is golden brown.
Remove from oven and remove outer wall of cake tin.
Slice and enjoy hot. (although this is equally delicious refrigerated and served cold)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Orange & Rosemary Marmalade

This week I am.......
  • cooking marmalade
  • sending the kids back to school
  • attempting to catch up with my jobs that got put on hold
  • hoping people are enjoying their Goodie Bags
  • dreaming of a Marimekko wall in my Studio space
image via Pinterest
Have your kids gone back to school?
What are you up to this week?

In my attempt to trap the splendour of Winter citrus I popped on a pot of Orange Marmalade yesterday.
Partly as I missed my children who had returned to school leaving the house a little too silent for my liking.
Partly as being at my stove gives me a meditative calm.  A chance to find silence and calm in my busy brain.
I have published a Spiced Marmalade recipe here before but this one is a little different.
I am looking forward to churning some in some Ice-cream to see how it tastes!
I like my Marmalade with lots of 'bits' so I slice and use the oranges as they are.
This made two jars- one large and one medium size jar.

  • 3 large oranges (together they weighed 500g)
  • 2 grapefruit (juice only)
  • 500g sugar
  • 1 1/2 litres water
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 large sprig Rosemary
Sterilise 2 large jars.

Slice the oranges as finely as possible. I chop mine into halves and place the flat side on the bench to give an even cutting surface. Then slice and then chop into smaller pieces.

Place into a large pot.  Add the juice of 2 grapefruit, the whole spices and Rosemary, the sugar and the water.

You may like to tie your spices and rosemary into a muslin bag to remove easily at the end. I wanted the lovely green through my marmalade so left the sprig loose but removed the whole spices at the end.

Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about an hour and a half or until the pith of the orange is soft. You can tell when the marmalade is set if you remove a wooden spoon and run your finger down the spoon and it leaves an empty space where your finger was.

Place marmalade into hot jars and tip on end to help seal.

Let cool and spread generously on good crunchy toast.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For the whole of this month I am teaming up with the wonderful peeps from Shout for Good and the McGrath Foundation to try and raise as much money as we can.

For the entire month of October you will see a widget on the RHS of my blog that keeps a rolling tally of the money donated in the cheeky form of the word BOOBS. Bonds have agreed to match donations in batches of $8008.5 up to $50,000.

Most of us have been affected by Breast Cancer.
The statistics are alarming.

With the help of incredible nurses (yes I am looking at you my friend who will remain nameless), doctors, scientists, and everyday people like us we are helping to make in- roads in to the treatment of this horrid disease & helping support the families of those affected.

The money donated from this campaign will go to the McGrath Foundation, a charity that aims to see that every breast cancer patient in Australia has access to quality nursing care regardless of their financial situation.

If you want to support this amazing charity it just takes a simple click over on the right hand side of my blog.

And if you can share this post far and wide that will help too!
Let's all get involved and do what we can.
Because together we totally can make a difference.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

FIVE ways to improve your cooking starting NOW.

Following is my quick list of FIVE simple ways that I believe will really help improve your cooking.
An easy step by step guide to success if you like!
There are countless things you can do to improve but this quick list is achievable for all cooks- whether you are a beginner or an established cook.
Not one of them involves buying expensive equipment or having a state of the art kitchen- I don't believe that is what makes anyone a good cook.

1.) READ the recipe.
By read it I mean to read it over and over. Each time you read it you will probably see a step you missed before.
Most of you will have watched cooking competition shows and seen time & time again the participants who miss vital parts to a recipe only to wonder what happened to their masterpiece. HEARTBREAKING.  A recipe is like a person holding your hand through the steps. Make use of it & let it be what takes away the stress.
It may help you to make some quick step by step notations of your own to have handy.
If you are unsure of a cooking term, then google it ahead of cooking to find out exactly what the instructions mean. Or ask me! I love to help people out in the kitchen- that is what this blog is ALL about!

Preparation is your best friend in the kitchen.
A cook who has a plan is a cook who will have more success.
That said, I love to fly by the seat of my pants but if you are a beginner having all of your food chopped and a plan of action you will find the whole cooking experience far more enjoyable. Once you have gained confidence you will be able to be more spontaneous and you will notice you get speedier at things too.

3.) Have SHARP knives.
There is NOTHING more frustrating to me than working with blunt knives.
It may be worth paying someone to professionally sharpen your knives to see the best result but let me tell you it is WORTH every penny!
Despite what you may think, you are LESS likely to cut yourself with a super sharp knife than you are with a blunt knife.

4.) Stop STIRRING.
This is a step that lots of beginners get wrong and that is ok! Most of us are starting out. This tip can be a total game changer for a LOT of people.
Our natural tendency in the kitchen is to stand over those pans and stir, stir, stir.
It's fun and it feels as though we are doing good things. Sometimes though we are not doing our cooking any favours by stirring. All in good time!
There is real value to be gained in terms of flavour by starting off at a high heat and leaving your meat still in the pan to develop a good brown coating.
YES it will spit and sound crayzee loud! This is all good stuff- (using a splatter guard may be helpful to you to achieve this!)
As the meat develops this lovely browned effect it will separate itself away from the pan,  naturally coming away from the surface so there is no need to stir. You can then turn it and repeat on the other side.
Stirring reduces the heat on the cooking surface and then the meat stews- not what we want.
Even if you are making a stew- start off by caramelising your meat by leaving it STILL.
There is a place for stirring but it is not all the time!

None of us started of as brilliant cooks. Anyone who is a good cook has practised a LOT.
I started cooking for the family when I was TEN years old. That means I have had more than 30 years experience and countless failures along the way. Every single failure was a lesson learnt. TRUE! Failing is an important part of becoming a success.
Start with simple dishes and simple techniques and gain confidence in the small steps along the way before you venture to more difficult techniques. It is fine to have a small repertoire of dishes that you feel good about cooking before you broaden your horizons!

This is by no means an exhaustive list but five ways which will really help you in the kitchen to achieve success.

Happy cooking
(feel free to share this list around to as many people as you think need to read it).

Very soon you'll be a Master of the kitchen just like the Swedish Chef!

The last of Winter, the beginning of Spring

All around me are signs of change.
I wake early to an abundance of light.
My head is heavy with pollen.

There is laughter from children around me on school holidays.

In the veggie patch there is abundance of green.
The broad beans have begun to give their jewelled green pods.
The silverbeet is heaving, happy to be regularly trimmed to allow new stems to mature.

My legs are bare of coloured & patterned tights but there are still as always, clogs upon my feet.

The fire is no longer being lit.
It is the end of the Winter's season of giving & the beginning of the Spring bounty.
Changes of season are always a time of reflection for me. A noticing of things I enjoy and will miss.

Citrus are coming to an end & so I am eating the last of the Oranges, keen to savour every last mouthful of flavour.

Growing your own food gives an extra sense of the fragility of our food system, an understanding of how it ebbs and flows all the while relying on factors out of our control.

This morning I harvested a large armful of silverbeet keen to have a green brekky.
I had some bread that needed to be re-utilised (here as breadcrumbs) and some oranges I was keen to use. And so here is what I made.

It is so special being able to eat a meal that no more than 30 minutes before was growing in your yard.

Gremolata is an Italian topping- probably most commonly known on top of the classic peasant dish OSSO BUCO.
It is a mix of Parsley, Lemon peel, and Garlic. I make mine the way I have always known according to the classic cook book by Ada Boni with the addition of Anchovies to add a salty richness to the mix. HEAVENLY.
Today though I didn't add anchovies and substituted the lemon for Orange rind.
A perfect match for the Silverbeet.

This is a delightful dish. Bold enough to stand on it's own or a perfect accompaniment for fish, eggs  or lamb.

  • a bunch of silver beet
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • a bunch of parsley
  • zest and juice of an orange
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
In a food processor blitz the garlic, orange zest & parsley till mixed together and chopped fine.
Add 4 tablespoons of the gremolata to the breadcrumbs and set aside.

Chop the silverbeet including the stems- there is no reason to waste them!
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan to a medium heat.
Add garlic and cumin seeds and fry gently for a minute.
Add the silverbeet stems and fry for another minute.
Now add the leaves and the reserved orange juice.
Cover and steam till silverbeet is wilted- this will only take a minute or two.

Place the silverbeet in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the breadcrumb/gremolata mix over the top.
Place under the grill until breadcrumb browns.
Serve immediately.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sausage rolls (Vego & Meat versions): The Perfect School Holiday food

We are enjoying the slow down that holidays bring on at our place.
Well to be honest- it is my kids who have slowed down and not me at all!
I have been working super hard the last few days to get my Clever Clogs Cooking Club mail orders delivered before the end of the month.
Yesterday I posted them all.

I really LOVE putting these together every month and sincerely hope my members are enjoying them too.
It has been an extra challenge doing it all with the kids (and their friends) around too- it certainly made me appreciate my 'alone' working time!

Invariably holidays also means that my life becomes one of Short Order chef also.
There are often extra (hungry) people to feed so cooking portions are often doubled to accomodate the extras (and frozen if not eaten, although that is rare!)

I have published both of these recipes before but I thought it would be helpful to have  them in one place as a reference.
I cooked both as we were accomodating both meat eaters and vegetarians yesterday, although one of my children (and I) prefer the vegetarian version of these- they are SOOOOO delicious!

Sausage rolls are quick to make & delicious to eat.
I don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate a good Sauso!

Like most things- home made ones are incomparable to the often nasty store bought ones.
They are easy enough that your kids could make them as well as eat them!

Ours are enjoyed with our homemade Tomato Sauce that we make in Tassie with our lovely friends- you can read all about the making of here.

I have published this recipe before here.
Yesterday I substituted the fetta for a tub of Cottage cheese & added a touch of chilli. They were totally scrumptious!

  • 1 x 250g packet frozen spinach
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 150g grated cheese
  • 150g crumbled fetta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs (reserve a little bit for basting the pastry)
  • S& P
Preheat oven to 200C.

Mix all ingredients (not the puff pastry!) in a large bowl.

Cut the puff pastry sheets in half.

Spoon mixture into the centre of each pastry sheet, roll over and tuck in so all of the stuffing is tucked in nicely.

Place baking paper onto an oven tray.

Turn over so the joint seam is on the bottom & lay the rolls onto the baking paper.
Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sesame seeds if you are feeling fancy!

Bake for 25-30 mins or until nicely browned.

Remove and eat or cool and freeze ready to pop out for emergency meals!

 I have published this recipe before here.


  • 500g Pork mince
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 slices stale sourdough, crusts removed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 chorizo sausage, skin peeled off and cut into chunks
  • rind of half a lemon
  • a good handful of Italian parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika (regular sweet will work if you don't have the Spanish variety)
  • 1 large red chilli, seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons good tomato sauce (I use our homemade one- use tomato relish rather than bought sauce if you can, it will give a better flavour)
  • 4 sheets puff pastry, sliced in half
  • egg wash

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Add the bread, chorizo, garlic, parsley, lemon rind, & chilli to a food processor and blitz till the ingredients are a crumb.

 Remove and add to a large mixing bowl.

Now add the pork mince to the food processor and blitz (pulse mode) till almost a paste but still with a little texture.

Add to the other ingredients and add the tomato sauce.  Mix with your hands till all ingredients are mixed well.

Add the mince mix to the middle of the halved sheet of puff and roll over the ends.

Slice to desired size and place on baking paper.

Brush with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until browned.

We have been playing this song super loud. 
Such a happy making toon from a fave band!