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Author Archives: The quirk and the cool

Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (Aubergine)

I’m cooking quite a few recipes  from Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients at the moment. I love the simplicity of just a few basic ingredients.

There are a wealth of good recipes in the book which are pretty easy to prepare and don’t require a store cupboard full of ingredients.

Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (read Aubergine in Jamie’s original British recipe), is unbelievably easy to make, low in calories and most importantly, very delicious!

As a dedicated foodie I love eating! Sometimes it’s necessary to undergo a little judicious calorie management, so at the moment I am embracing Weight Watchers, an organisation I can speak highly of, with its sensible food plans and non-judgmental mentors. A big shout-out to Wendy at WW in Rozelle and the city!

So it was with delight that I realised that this lovely recipe was very calorie friendly, as well as being delicious.

I made one tiny addition to the ingredients – the sticky sauce was quite strong , so I added a little brown sugar. This worked a treat and I think gave the sauce more of an Asian sweet/salty taste. For Jamie’s original, just leave out!

And if you count the ingredients it’s 7, but who is actually counting?


1 large eggplant (aubergine)
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
20g unsalted peanuts + a few extra for scattering
1 tbls olive oil
2 tbls teriyaki sauce
1 tsp brown sugar (optional – my addition)


Put a 26cm non-stick frying pan on a high heat and pour in 250mls of water.

Halve the eggplant lengthways, quickly slash the skin of each half a few times and place skin side up in the pan, then season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cover and cook for l0 minutes, or until it boils dry and begins to sizzle (listen for the change in sound).

Meanwhile, trim the spring onions. Cut the whites into 3cm lengths at an angle and put aside.

Deseed the chilli and finely slice Iengthways with the green part of the spring onions. Place both in a bowl of ice-cold water and put aside to crisp up.

When the eggplant starts to sizzle, add l tablespoon of olive oil, the white spring onions and the peanuts to the pan, stirring regularly.

After 2 minutes, add a splash of water, drizzle in the teriyaki, stir in the brown sugar and reduce to a medium heat.

Turn the eggplant, jiggle the pan and let it get sticky for a few minutes, then serve sprinkled with the drained green spring onions and chilli and a few peanuts scattered over the dish.



Fig and Raspberry Frangipane Tart

It’s fig season in Sydney, late summer, and the figs are plentiful and cheap.  I love the look of  green figs, with their lustrous skins and bright pink centres.

I have a confession to make. I think figs look really pretty, but I’m not always convinced that they taste as delicious as they look. I think recipes can be a little bit hit and miss.

The figs in this recipe do work very well. The recipe is tweaked from an Ottolenghi recipe for little fig tartlets. I love the idea of the frangipane in the tartlets, with beautiful baked figs, so I decided I would make one large tart, filled with frangipane, with slices of figs placed on top. I added raspberries as they are superb at the moment. I think the large tart idea worked well, it looked nice and tasted delicious!

Ottolenghi’s original recipe for Fig and Pistachio Frangipane Tartlets is in his beautiful book Sweet, and the link to the recipe is here.

Here is my Fig and Raspberry Frangipane Tart recipe:


For the sweet shortcrust pastry (you will probably only need 3/4 of the pastry)
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
90g icing sugar
¼ tsp salt
200g unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into cubes
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large free range egg yolk
20ml water

For the frangipane

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
35g ground almonds
35g plain flour
⅛ tsp salt
1 tbsp brandy
4 large ripe figs, quartered (choose the best quarters – you will need about 12)
12-15 raspberries


To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and lemon zest, then pulse a few times, until the mixture is the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and water, then add to the mix. Process once more, just until the dough comes together, then tip on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap loosely in cling wrap and press gently into a flattish disc. The dough will be very soft, so keep it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C. Brush a tart tin with melted butter and dust with flour. I used a rectangular tart tin but you could use a circular tin (use a medium diameter rather than a big one).

If the dough has been in the fridge for more than a few hours, let it rest at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before rolling. Put the dough between 2 pieces of  cling wrap or baking paper and place onto a large board. Tap all over with a rolling pin to soften slightly, then roll out to a 2-3mm thick rectangle to fit your tin (or circle to fit a circular tin). Gently ease the pastry into the tin, pressing it down to fill the tin, making sure the pastry comes up the sides. Refrigerate the tin for at least an hour.

Place a piece of baking paper over the pastry and fill with a layer of rice or baking beans, and blind-bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is light golden brown around the edges. Remove the paper and rice or beans, then leave the pastry to cool in the tin.

For the frangipane, put the butter, sugar and lemon zest into a food processor. Blitz on a medium speed until well blended and light but not too fluffy, then gradually add the beaten eggs. Don’t worry if the mix curdles a bit at this stage, it will come together again later. Add the ground almonds, flour and salt. Pulse until combined, then add the brandy.

Turn up the oven to 180 degrees C. Using a tablespoon, fill the baked tart shell with the frangipane. Place a quarter-fig cut side up in rows in the tart, and press down gently, so they  slightly embedded in the mixture. Place the raspberries in between the rows. (Arrange the figs and raspberries in whatever way you like for a round tart).

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the frangipane starts to brown at the edges but the middle is still slightly soft. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then ease the tart out of the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature with a spoonful of thick cream or Greek yoghurt.

Raspberry Meringue Twists


Meringues are a lovely gift to make for friends and are so simple to create. I’m fond of all kinds of egg white and sugar concoctions – meringues, pavlova, vacherin and dacquoise. I sometimes make Italian and Swiss meringue, but unless there’s a real need for a more stable structure, French meringue is the easiest option.

I  have always used a recipe from the Australian culinary legend Margaret Fulton, but this time I thought I would try a recipe from another culinary legend from another hemisphere, Mary Berry.

It’s always interesting to try a slightly different approach to our usual recipes, and this recipe I found very successful! The link to Mary’ s original recipe is here.

I wanted my meringues colourful and pretty to look at, so I used rose pink food colouring to create swirls of colour.  I scattered some freeze dried raspberry powder over the meringue before baking. With hindsight (which is a wonderful thing), cooking the raspberry powder made it too dark. I think next time I would scatter the powder over the cooked meringues to maintain the vivid raspberry colour.

I’ve called the meringues raspberry twists because of the raspberry pink twists of colour.


3 egg whites

175g  caster sugar

A few drops of pink food colouring

A teaspoon or two of freeze dried raspberry powder


Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C  fan-forced. Line a large baking sheet or two smaller ones with baking paper.

Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. I always use my KitchenAid for meringues.

Whisk on high speed until white and fluffy, like a cloud. Still whisking on maximum speed, gradually add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until incorporated and the meringue is stiff and shiny and stands upright on the whisk.

Take a piping bag and attach a large plain nozzle or star tipped nozzle, and using a paint brush or pastry brush,  paint stripes of pink food colour inside the bag.

Using the piping bag, pipe the meringue mixture into different sized meringues – some quite large, others smaller, onto the baking sheet. It’s up to you what size you want!

Scatter some freeze dried raspberry powder randomly and artfully over the meringues before baking.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for one hour.  Turn off the oven, and leave the meringues in the oven for at least a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better.

Once cool, remove from the baking paper and put on a wire rack until completely cold.

Little Ginger Caramel Cheesecakes


31CFED5D-F980-41F1-9953-28FE10746308Cheesecake! A big favourite, but an indulgence I enjoy in moderation, as it’s SO moreish I can eat too much…

So mini cheesecakes are the perfect sweet treat to end a meal or a as little pick me-up at afternoon tea time.

The recipe is my go-to recipe for baked cheesecake, blogged here many times. I substituted mascarpone for cream cheese, for no other reason than I had some in the fridge and thought it would go well in cheesecake!

I added crystallized ginger to my little cheesecakes as well as ginger caramel, but plain caramel would be fine too.

To serve, I put some chunks of fresh pineapple on the top of each little cheesecake. This complemented the ginger flavour beautifully!


Crumb Crust
230g sweet biscuits (half plain, half ginger nut)
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Mascarpone Filling
500g mascarpone
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbls ginger or plain caramel or dulche de leche (jar or tin is fine, don’t bother making it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 free-range eggs
6 pieces crystallized ginger (a small handful), chopped finely  + extra for decorating

Pineapple chunks to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 170 degrees fan-forced.

Butter individual molds with a removable base, see photo. If you don’t have these molds, you could use ordinary muffin or cupcake  molds. You would just need to be careful easing them out of the molds.

I filled 8 of my removable bottom molds. You would fill at least 8 or even 10 ordinary muffin molds.

Crush biscuits very finely in a food processor and add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in the biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased molds, covering the bases with a good layer of biscuit crumb.

Put mascarpone, sugar and caramel in the food processor and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whizzing after each addition.  Stir in the crystallized ginger pieces.

Pour mixture into the individual molds on top of the biscuit crumb bases.  Fill each mold to about 3/4 full.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cheesecake is just set. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

Carefully remove each cheesecake from its mold. Store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to completely firm up.

Serve cold, with chunks of pineapple on top of each cheesecake, and extra slivers of crystallized ginger. You could drizzle a little warmed caramel over the top too, for a truly caramel experience!


Strawberry and Watermelon Cake Reprise


Sydneysiders love this cake – the most Instagrammed cake in the world! It’s the famous Strawberry and WatermelonCake from the creative people at Black Star Pastry.

Below is the Black Star original.


I blogged a beautiful version of the cake made by Doctor Rosemary a year or two back – see here for the post.

This week Doctor R was hosting a celebration for a visit from her ex pat family and a special new arrival! We were lucky enough to sample her 2018 take on The Cake. Same recipe –  with lots of luscious fruit, rose petals and pistachios for decoration.

It was outstanding! Doctor R’s version was fragrant, with different textures, and altogether more delicious than its famous predecessor.

This is the recipe, as written up in Australian Gourmet Traveller.

250 g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 g almond meal
500 g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios
1 tbsp dried rose petals

Almond dacquoise
150 g almonds, coarsely chopped
150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
5 free-range egg whites
135 gm caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300 ml thickened cream
30 g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater


For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).
Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.


Quince Shortcake



I’m always looking for simple bakes for afternoon tea or for when friends drop over unexpectedly. This is an easy recipe to make. You just need to bake the quinces beforehand. In autumn and winter in Sydney,  in what passes for the cooler months here, I buy quinces pretty regularly, and slow cook them in the oven ready for this recipe, or to fill a tart or have for breakfast with yoghurt and granola.



For the baked quince:

1 quince

60g caster sugar

Juice of 1/2lemon

For the shortcake:

125 g unsalted butter

125 g castor sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

225g  plain flour

1 tsp baking powder


Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

For the quince, peel the quince, halve lengthways and remove core. Cut in slices and put the slices in a small baking dish. Scatter over sugar and squeeze over the lemon juice.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting a few times through the process, until the quinces are soft and a ruby red colour. Remove from the dish to cool.

For the shortcake, beat the butter and castor sugar until creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and baking powder, then stir until only just combined.

Add half the quince slices, and combine until the mixture comes together into a dough, but don’t overwork the dough.

Turn the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a baking tray. With floured hands, put the dough onto the baking tray, then shape the dough into a round. Mark the round into 6 wedges.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes or until until golden (cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly). Once cool, dust the shortcake with sifted icing sugar, and serve with cream and the remaining quince slices.


Jamie Oliver Sweet Glazed Carrots and Gnarly Peanut Chicken



Dinner last night – and this this post –  was supposed to be all about the chicken, with the carrots as the supporting act. Well, I have to say that the carrots upstaged the chicken and were the starring act!

It’s a fantastic Jamie recipe, in which heirloom carrots are cooked in the pan with butter and honey or brown sugar, and thyme, resulting in a luscious dish with lovely flavour and texture. However, with the gnarly peanut chicken, they made a great side dish and definitely enhanced the eating experience of the chicken.

The link to Jamie’s Sweet Glazed Carrots is here. Jamie’s Gnarly Peanut Chicken recipe can be found in his great new book 5 Ingredients.

So here are the recipes, with my tweaks , starring those wonderful carrots. I halved the carrot recipe as a kilo of carrots seemed excessive!

Sweet Glazed Carrots

500g small heirloom carrots
30g unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh thyme sprigs or to taste
1 clementine or mandarin or small orange
1 tablespoon runny honey or soft brown sugar

Trim most of the leafy green stalks off the carrots, then peel them. (I didn’t peel mine as they were fine as is).
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Crush the unpeeled garlic with the flat side of a knife, then add to the pan turning after 1 minute.
Pick and sprinkle in most of the thyme sprigs, reseving a few to scatter over at the end. Squeeze over the clementine or mandarin or orange juice, then add the honey or sugar and a splash of water.
Add the carrots in a single layer, season with sea salt and black pepper, then jiggle the pan to coat the carrots. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
Remove the lid, then cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the glaze has reduced, and the carrots are sticky and caramelised, turning often. Serve straightaway, or reheat when needed. Sprinkle over the reserved thyme sprigs just before serving.

Gnarly Peanut Chicken 

2 skinless chicken breasts
2 limes
4 cloves of garlic
2 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
1-2 fresh red chillies

Turn the grill on to medium-high. Score the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion, rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and the finely grated zest of 1 lime.
Place criss-cross side down in a cold non-stick ovenproof frying pan and put it on a medium-high heat, while you peel and finely grate the garlic into a bowl.
Squeeze in the juice from 1 1/2 limes, stir in the peanut butter and loosen with enough water to give you a smooth consistency. Finely slice the chilli, then mix through the sauce, taste and season to perfection.
Flip the chicken over, spoon over the sauce, then transfer to the grill, roughly 10cm from the heat, for 5 minutes, or until gnarly and cooked through. Finely grate over the remaining lime zest, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with lime wedges, for squeezing over.


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