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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Dates, Apricots and Couscous

This recipe was inspired from a recipe by Anthony Worrall Thompson.

The Tagine
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon or cassia stick
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chili paste
2 tsp tagine mix (The Essential Ingredient has a very good one)
750 gms chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks
2 tbls olive oil
2 eschallots, finely  chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100 gms dates cut in half
1 tsp  honey
½ tsp saffron strands, soaked in a little warm water
300 mls chicken stock
400 gms tin chopped tomatoes
100 gms roughly chopped dried apricots

225 gms couscous
4 tbls extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
225 mls chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt
Handful chopped parsley or coriander
Handful of flaked almonds

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Heat the oven to 150 degrees C.
Place all the spices in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine, then tip half into a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss until evenly coated. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2 – 1 hour.
Heat a large tagine or heavy based casserole and add half the olive oil. Tip in the chicken and cook over a fairly high heat until evenly browned, then tip onto a plate. Add the remaining olive oil to the tagine and stir in the remaining spices and the eshallots, and then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of  minutes or until the onion is softened but not browned, stirring occasionally.
Return the browned chicken pieces to the tagine with the dates, honey, saffron mixture, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Add the chopped apricots and cook a further 15 – 30 minutes until the chicken is completely tender but holding its shape and the sauce has thickened.

To make the couscous, place the couscous in a large bowl and add the oil and lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the grains are coated. Heat the stock in a small pan and season generously with sea salt. Pour over the couscous, stir well, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes before gently separating the grains with a fork. The couscous can be left like this for up to 4 hours.
When ready to serve, check the seasoning  and place in the microwave to reheat for a couple of minutes. Fluff with a fork. Scatter the herbs and flaked almonds just before serving.

Serve the chicken in the cooking tagine with side dishes such as Greek yoghurt,  green olives, chili paste and pomegranate seeds, and with herb-scented couscous.IMG_5438 enh


Flourless Chocolate Cake


This is a great chocolate cake! The recipe is from Sophie Dahl’s cook book The Delicious Miss Dahl.

It’s a fllourless chocolate cake so it has a fudgy, moussy texture. The beauty of this cake is that unlike most chocolate based desserts, there is no melting of the chocolate, which can be problematical. You simply process the chocolate with the sugar in the food processor. It seems to be the nearest thing to full proof!

300 gms plain chocolate, broken into pieces
225 gms caster sugar
175 mls boiling water
225 gms salted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
6 free-range eggs, separated
1 tsp instant coffee powder or, alternatively, make a strong espresso and mix a 1/4 cup as part of the boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan-forced.
For the cake, grease and line the base of a 23cm spring form tin with baking paper.
*NOTE (IS): Line tin, and place tin on baking tray lined with foil, as this cake can leak!

Blend the chocolate and sugar in a food processor until a fine powder forms. Add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder (if using) and vanilla extract and blend until well combined.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed, then, using a metal spoon, gently fold into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin, then transfer to the fridge for 2-3 hours.

For the decoration
Spoon whipped cream over the top of the cake and scatter with mixed berries. You could dust with icing sugar or grate chocolate over the top too.


Bird Seed, Cranberry, Pomegranate and Sour Cherry Muffins + Blueberry and Yoghurt Muffins


A mid morning snack was required for the busy creative team who met, bleary eyed on a  Sunday morning, to discuss our latest artistic venture.

Healthy muffins were the go!

Bird seed (yes, bird seed), cranberry and pomegranate muffins, and blueberry and yoghurt muffins were the offerings. The “bird seed” refers to my current favourite seed mix from The Source Bulk Foods in Balmain: It’s a very interesting mix called kapai puku which I use in my home-made muesli, so I thought I would give it a go in muffins!

Ingredients – Base Mixture

1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tbs honey

Bird Seed, Cranberry, Pomegranate and Sour Cherry Mixture
2 tbs kapai puku seed mix
1/2 cup cranberry, pomegranate and sour cherry mix (available in packets from supermarkets)

Blueberry and Yoghurt Mixture
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 tbs low-fat yoghurt
Candied orange for decoration (optional)



Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers. Lightly spray papers with cooking spray. Expect to make 8 decent sized muffins.

Mix the dry ingredients for the base mixture with a spoon in a bowl until well combined. Divide into two bowls. In another bowl mix the oil, beaten egg, milk and honey.

For the birdseed muffins, add the birdseed mix to the dry ingredients in one bowl. Add half the liquid ingredients, stirring until barely mixed. Gently fold in the cranberries, pomegranates and sour cherries.

For the blueberry muffins, add the other half of the liquid ingredients, stirring until barely mixed. Stir through the yoghurt. Gently fold in the blueberries. Decorate the tops with candied orange if desired.

Spoon each mixture into the muffin papers. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from the oven – best eaten while warm!


Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Grilled Pizza With Rosé and Cranberry Dressing

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Making pizza on the barbecue is really easy as I discovered when I made one for the first  time. I make lots of pizzas – home made is always nicest – but I was delighted with how quick and easy grilling the dough on the barbecue is!

This recipe was inspired by Bobby Flay’s recipe from his Barbecue Addiction television program:

You make a normal pizza yeast dough – then grill it for a minute each side on the bars of a very hot barbecue. Then dress the grilled pizza with your toppings of choice, place on a baking tray and heat on the barbecue on medium heat, with the hood down to simulate an oven.

Fresh, hot, grilled pizza made right in front of your friends! You could even do “make your toppings” with everyone customizing their own pizza!


2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups Tipo 00 flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil


1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 pear, sliced
2 -3 artichoke hearts, sliced
A handful of crumbled blue cheese (to taste)
Rosemary sprigs

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

Scatter over cheddar cheese, spring onions, sliced pear, sliced artichoke hearts and crumbled blue cheese.

Return to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears are heated through, about 5 minutes.

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Remove from the barbecue and drizzle with the rosé and cranberry dressing and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Cut and serve immediately.

Rosé and Cranberry Dressing
Combine ¼ glass of rosé with a splash of caramelized balsamic, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp of cranberry sauce and sea salt and black pepper to taste. You can vary these proportions to achieve the desired taste.

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Blondie and Brownie Cookies with Caramel Fudge


I revisited my basic cookie recipe to which, in a previous post, I had added caramel fudge.

This time I left out the pecans and just added my home made caramel fudge using a fabulous new microwave recipe I found, which is listed below.

The blondie cookies were made with white chocolate chips and white sugar. The brownie cookies were made with milk chocolate chips and rapadura sugar. I sprinkled sea salt on the cookies before baking.


150 gms butter
1 cup white sugar (blondie cookies) OR 1 cup rapidura sugar or dark brown sugar (brownie cookies)
1 egg
I/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 – 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
75 gms white chocolate chips (blondie cookies) OR 75 gms milk chocolate chips (brownie cookies)
2-4 small pieces of caramel fudge, roughly chopped (recipe below)

Cream butter and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, process swell. Sift flour, baking powder and salt and add to mixture, processing until smooth.

Stir in chocolate chips and fudge chunks.

Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking trays lined with baking paper.  Sprinkle sea salt to taste over the top of each cookie.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.

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Caramel Fudge


1 400 gm can sweetened condensed milk
1 cups firmly packed brown sugar
125 gms butter, roughly chopped
1/4 cup liquid glucose
1/8 cup golden syrup
200g white cooking chocolate, roughly chopped

Grease a rectangular or square cake tin. Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends.

Place condensed milk, sugar, butter, glucose and golden syrup in a large heatproof, microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring with a balloon whisk every 2 minutes, or until mixture comes to the boil.*

Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) for a further 5 to 6 minutes, stirring every minute with a wooden spoon, or until thick and golden.

Remove from microwave  and stand for 2 minutes or until bubbles subside.*

Add white chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.

Pour hot fudge mixture into the prepared tin. Smooth surface. Stand at room temperature for a couple of hours then refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares.

*My experience suggests less microwave time may be required for both microwave steps.  I microwaved for about 6 minutes firstly, then for about 4-5 minutes for the second microwave time.


Hot Smoked Salmon, Pappardelle and Garden Greens Salad


Another find at the wonderful Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield – the hot smoked salmon stall selling salmon smoked on the stall as you watch! The salmon has a delicious, deeply woody flavour, and is succulent and moist. They also sell olives and smoked prawns and mussels.


I made a lovely simple pasta salad with the salmon fillet and fresh spring salad ingredients.

I combined the flaked salmon fillet with pappardelle, cherry tomatoes on the vine (also from the markets) and a handful of a garden greens from my own garden. I gathered English spinach leaves, wild rocket, radicchio and chives. Sea salt, black pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil was the only dressing necessary as the smoky salmon has such a rich flavour.


Mini Curd Cakes with Mixed Berries


Cooking is both an art form and a science and is constantly evolving. I am always evaluating recipes, altering and tweaking to suit new conditions or just to try to perfect.

Having made some more fresh curd cheese on the weekend, I decided to make curd cake again. But this time I made mini curd cakes as a result of just this kind of recipe evaluation mentioned above.

Also I wanted to try out a beautiful baking tin from Baker’s Secret that I had recently acquired. It has 12 holes with removable bottoms. It’s meant for pies or puddings but would do just as well for cakes!


I was aware that the River Cottage Australia recipe I quoted in my previous post uses quantities based around 1 kg of cheese:

However the curd recipe from the same source seems to make only 400-500gms of curd from 2 litres of milk.

I’m not sure whether my inexperience as a cheese maker has meant I get less curds from the milk, or whether indeed the lesser quantity is what you actually end up with.

So this time I made cheese with 2 litres of milk and ended up with 400gms of curd. Not having enough cheese for a large cake I made mini cheese cakes and adjusted all the quantities appropriately, roughly halving them.

You may note in comparing the recipes that I used 3 eggs not 2 and suggested increasing the cream quantity. From my experience, the extra egg gives richness to the mixture and increasing the cream is necessary if the mixture is a little stiff.

I also adjusted the oven temperature down to 170 degrees C, as I thought the result of my previous baking was a little overcooked, and I prefer to control this through temperature rather than less baking time.

In the photos I stacked the cakes on top of each other for visual and serving appeal. The mixture yielded 4 large mini cakes.

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400-500 gms fresh curd
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4-1/2 cup cream
3 large free-range eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line the bases of Baker’s Secret mini tins (as in the photo) with baking paper or just use ordinary muffin tins.
Place the curd, sugar and cream in the bowl of a food processer and process until smooth.
Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla paste and process until thoroughly mixed.
Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 45 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown and the mixture is set. Timing will depend on the heat of your particular oven. You will need to watch carefully as these little cakes will cook quickly.
Serve warm or at room temperature, but not completely cold, with any kind of fresh or cooked fruit.


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