I unfortunately do not have the space for a kitchen garden right now. One day, I would love to be able to grow my own vegetables to cook with. However, I am lucky that my dad has begun to dabble in edible gardening of late and I am occasionally gifted some of the overflow.
This is how I ended up with a bag of cumquats and no idea how to cook them!
Please don’t make this recipe without an action plan for devouring it. Because you could be presented with the problem my husband and I faced when I had finished baking this creation: once you’ve had one powerful punch of a mouthful, you can’t stop. It’s really dangerous.
It’s so tangy and sweet at the same time. Sticky, too. If you’re left with a bag of cumquats off your garden tree, I would highly recommend using them to make this recipe. They’ll be gone in no time!
- 360g fresh cumquats
- 180g caster sugar
- 180g unsalted butter
- 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
- Preheat oven to 180° Celsius. Grease an ovenproof frying pan with spray oil (or springform tin if you don’t have a frying pan that you can put into the oven. If using a tin, line the outside of the tin with foil).
- Slice the cumquats into rounds (about 4 slices per cumquat, depending on size) and deseed.
- Place sugar and 45ml water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on a low heat. Melt without stirring and bring to a simmer, shaking the saucepan occasionally so the sugar doesn’t catch.
- Add the fruit and cover, and simmer for 5 mins.
- Remove the fruit from the saucepan with a slotted spoon. Bring the syrup to a boil for 5 mins. Shake the pan occasionally.
- Add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon constantly, still on a high heat, for 10 mins until the syrup thickens.
- Arrange the cumquats on the base of your frying pan / springform tin artfully to provide an even layer. It looks best if you place cut side down.
- Pour over the sauce.
- Cover with a sheet of puff pastry. Tuck in the edges neatly. Cut several holes in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.
- Bake in the oven for 30 mins until pastry is golden and puffed. Once removed, flip the tart onto a serving tray so that the cumquats are presented on the top of the tart. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
When I was at school, I overdid it with the sandwiches. Particularly the combination of ham, lettuce and mayo. I just have difficulty getting excited about a sandwich for lunch. So I like to look for other options.
I like to make batches of savoury muffins on the weekend for my work lunches (or at the moment, for my hectic weekday lunches with a baby who needs lunch too). They’re easy to heat up, filling and so moreish.
I have taken inspiration from Stephanie Alexander’s recipe for Allan and Michele’s Asian-inspired Pumpkin Soup from her wonderful cookbook The Cook’s Companion and turned it into muffin form. They have just the slightest hint of curry, and are super light and fluffy. They’re the perfect texture, not too dry or crumbly and they keep well for several days in an airtight container in the fridge. Or, if you’re feeling exceptionally organised, you could freeze them for a busy day.
And they’re so easy to make! So get cracking! If you’re feeling like a sweet muffin, why not go ahead and check out my Custard and sultana muffins.
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 225ml milk
- 2 eggs
- 115g vegetable oil
- 1 tbs Thai curry paste, red or green
- 400g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
- 30g mix of pepitas and sunflower seeds
- Preheat oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a muffin tray with spray oil.
- Steam the pumpkin until tender (about 10-15 mins) and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
- Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Combine the milk, eggs, oil, curry paste and pumpkin in a separate bowl. Whisk to mix thoroughly.
- Combine all of the ingredients together. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray. Sprinkle the muffins with the pepitas and sunflower seeds.
- Bake muffins in the oven for 30 mins or until golden on top. You will know that they are done when a skewer will come out clean when tested.
This is the second crumble that I’ve posted, but I really do love a crumble. They’re fruity, juicy, cakey, and ever so simple to make. The perfect dessert for entertaining too, because they’re so easy to upsize.
Desserts really shouldn’t feature in my house as often as they do, and given there is only my husband and I to eat them, I try to align my cooking of them with weekly dinners with my family so that the delicious sweetness can be shared around. Much less tempting if it’s gobbled up by others and not in the house for long!
For the filling:
- 350g Morello cherries, pitted and drained
- ½ cup reserved Morello cherry juice from the jar
- 150g strawberries, sliced (can be frozen)
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup dessicated coconut
For the crumble topping:
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 70g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 30g dessicated coconut
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- Place cherries, strawberries, cherry juice and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 mins.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the fruit from the saucepan and place in a bowl. Bring the cherry syrup to a boil for 5 mins until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, use your hands to rub the butter into the flour. Rub until the mixture becomes crumbly.
- Add baking powder, sugar, coconut and cocoa powder to the flour & butter mixture and stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius.
- Return the fruit to the cherry syrup. Mix through the chocolate chips and dessicated coconut. Spoon the mixture into individual sized ramekins. Sprinkle the top with a generous amount of crumble mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until the crumble is golden and the cherry mixture is bubbling underneath. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
I lived in the UK with my husband for a year. It was a wonderful time – we met lots of friends from all over the world, we travelled around Europe and never stopped learning new things. Also, we tried a lot of new foods!
We lived in Cambridge and we were often catching the train into London. When I made my pork pasties below, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many trains we caught that year. The wafting smell of pastry coming from my kitchen brought back memories of waiting at a train platform, with a little Cornish pasties stand down the way. I’m not sure many would, but I admit the pasties always smelt inviting, no matter the time of day. Warm, flaky, juicy and with so many comforting flavours.
My pasty’s flavours are inspired by the ingredients we receive in our veg box each week; an Asian cooking box from CERES Fairfood. They make for a lovely winter’s lunch or a light dinner, with little in the way of preparation.
Pork pasties with chilli, lime and coriander
- 250g pork mince
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2cm ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tbs fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs sugar
- 2 sheets store-bought puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
- Combine all the ingredients except for the puff pastry and egg in a mixing bowl.
- On a worktop, cut the pastry sheets in half lengthwise.
- Spoon in one quarter of the mixture onto one half of a pastry sheet (mentally divide the pastry sheet lengthwise). Spread it evenly along the half lengthwise.
- Fold the pastry over the filling and crimp the edges to seal. They can be baked flat, but I stood mine up with the crimped edge in the middle, because I thought they looked prettier this way.
- Place the pasties onto a greased baking tray.
- Brush the pasties with the beaten egg.
- Bake in an oven at 180° Celsius until golden (approx. 20 mins).
- Serve with a salad of lettuce, capsicum and cucumber topped with sprigs of fresh mint and coriander.
It is hard not to find a caramel slice if you are in a bakery in Australia. And for good reason! I have yet to meet someone who does not love to eat it! For me personally, if a caramel slice is there on display amongst the array of other delicious looking cakes and pastries, it is very hard to order anything else.
For my recipe today, I have taken the traditional caramel slice and added an Earl Grey tea flavour to the caramel layer. I like to eat my caramel slice with tea, so why not combine the two?
This slice recipe was actually my first foray into doing my own thing in the kitchen – I first tried it out a year and a half ago. However, it’s been the hardest one so far to get right. Unfortunately for me, that’s meant a LOT of leftover caramel slice to eat 😛 However, after lots of tinkering I think I’m there! Let me know if you try it out 🙂
For the base:
- 150g plain flour
- 50g brown sugar
- 75g coconut
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
For the caramel:
- 100g brown sugar
- 120g unsalted butter
- 2 Earl Grey teabags
- 2x 395g tins of sweetened condensed milk
For the chocolate layer:
- 200g dark chocolate
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a baking tray with spray oil.
- Combine flour, sugar, coconut and melted butter.
- Press the mixture evenly into the base of the baking tray and bake in the oven for 12 mins until golden. Cool on the bench for 10 mins and then put it into the fridge to cool until needed.
- For the caramel, melt the brown sugar with the butter and the contents of the two teabags in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Whisk together and bring the mixture up to a bubble, and then take off the heat and cover. Leave to infuse for 2 mins.
- Add the condensed milk to the saucepan, whisk frequently and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and whisk constantly for 5 mins until the mixture is thick.
- Pour the caramel mixture onto the base and cook in the oven for 20 mins at 160° Celsius until the caramel layer is set. Cool on the bench for 10 mins and then place in the fridge until completely cold.
- For the chocolate layer, place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for one minute. Stir to mix heat evenly and help to melt the rest of the chocolate. Continue heating the chocolate for one minute at a time, until all of the chocolate has melted. Add the oil to the chocolate and stir.
- Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and, using a palette knife, spread evenly to cover the whole slice. Cool in the fridge until set.
My go-to cookbook is the amazing The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander. Whenever I’m not sure what to do with a vegetable, particularly if I have a lot of something, I refer to the chapter in Stephanie’s book and pick out an always-delicious recipe. The other week we had a lot of zucchinis delivered in our vegetable box and I did just that.
This recipe is inspired by Stephanie Alexander’s Slow-cooked Zucchini. I love the idea of cooking zucchini for a long time to create a glossy and unctuous texture. It makes this simple ingredient so luxurious.
I decided to turn the zucchini into a creamy pasta bake, because how can you go wrong with a creamy pasta bake?
This is a great comfort food dish. I happened to make this dish on a night when bedtime for the little one was particularly trying, and dinner was eaten tag-team between my husband and I. This is the perfect dish for solo eating. Decadent, rich and luscious. Enjoy!
Creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 4-5 zucchinis, cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
- 250g fusilli
- 20g parmesan, plus extra
- 200g crème fraîche
- 30g butter, melted
- 50g breadcrumbs
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat and add zucchini and garlic. Lower heat and cover. Cook for 20 mins, stirring frequently until the zucchini has become squidgy and will mash easily.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mash the zucchini with a fork or potato masher, and add the lemon juice, chilli flakes and anchovy fillets. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven at 180° Celsius.
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.
- Add ½-1 cup of pasta water to the zucchini mixture to loosen, along with the crème fraîche and parmesan. Add cooked pasta and stir.
- Put pasta mixture into a roasting tray and top with breadcrumb mixture. Grate an extra layer of parmesan over the top of the breadcrumbs.
- Cook in the oven at 180° Celsius for 15-20 mins until golden and crunchy.
Growing up, my family and I would often go for holidays in regional Victoria. Sometimes a long car trip was required. I remember my dad had these bingo sheets that he would hand to us at the start of the journey. It had lots of pictures of typical things you might see – a red car, a cow, a petrol station etc. You had to colour in the boxes until you’d found them all. It was a fun way to pass the time when travelling as a young child.
Whenever we made a pit stop, we’d find a park to play in and a local bakery in the little town. And we’d get pies for lunch, with chocolate milk or a vanilla slice or custard tart if it was teatime. I’d always pick the custard tart. I like the fact that it’s not too sweet, and the texture is deliciously creamy.
I’ve put a spin on the custard tart today, adding apples as we have plenty of them at the moment. I added far too much cinnamon for my photos, but it still tasted delicious! I took it to dinner with my family, and we all had a slice for dessert with tea.
For the pastry:
- 240g plain flour
- 160g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbs caster sugar
- ¼ cup water
For the apples:
- 35g unsalted butter
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 2 apples, sliced
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch cinnamon
For the filling:
- 1 ½ cups cream/milk
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- To make the pastry, beat the butter and flour together in a mixer using a dough attachment. Add sugar and combine. Add enough water to bring the pastry together into a ball. As soon as the pastry comes together, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 mins or until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius. Grease a quiche flan with spray oil.
- To make the apples, melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan.
- Add the apples to the saucepan with the vanilla and cinnamon. Shake the saucepan to cover the apples with liquid, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on a low heat for 10 mins. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge, and sprinkle the worktop with flour. Roll out the pastry until it is big enough to cover the base of the quiche flan. Line the flan with pastry and trim the edges, leaving extra height to allow for the pastry to shrink while cooking. Weigh down the pastry with baking paper and baking beads, and blind bake the pastry case for 20 mins in the oven.
- To make the filling, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add the milk or cream and whisk.
- Remove the pastry from the oven and lower the heat to 160° Celsius. Remove the baking beads and baking paper. Line the pastry case with an even layer of the apples, and pour in the custard filling.
- Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until custard is set but wobbles when jiggled. Serve hot or cold, with ice cream or cream.
There is something about having dinner bubbling away by noon that makes you feel like a boss for the rest of the day. It makes dinner hassle-free, and even the prep seems quicker earlier in the day. With a new baby in the house, and being the middle of winter, the slow cooker has become my best friend.
I wanted to create a slow cooker beef dish that would be the ultimate comfort meal. I make a lot of slow cooked beef dishes that involve tomatoes, but I wanted something richer, something creamier, and something that seemed more indulgent. However, this dish still has lots of veg and makes getting your ‘five-a-day’ easy.
So in addition to carrots, celery and mushrooms, a classic beef combination, I decided to go with the often overlooked Brussels sprout. I am a fairly recent convert myself. When I lived in Cambridge for a year I subscribed to a weekly veg box and received many many Brussels sprouts which necessitated learning how to cook them a variety of ways. And I realised that when cooked well they can be delicious! In this dish, the Brussels sprouts soak up the flavour of the mustard and provide a crunchy texture and a nutty depth of flavour to the casserole.
Serve with mashed potatoes and red wine, for a cosy supper on a cold night. I made this on a night when the wind was hammering at the windows and the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful.
Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard
- 1kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup beer
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
- 2 celery sticks, cut into thick slices
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
- Handful of parsley, to serve
- 1 lemon, to serve
- Mashed potato, to serve
- Heat oil in the base of the slow cooker set to ‘sear’ function. If you do not have this function, use a frying pan. Add the onion and sear the meat until all surfaces are browned.
- Add the flour and stir to evenly distribute and coat beef. Cook for 1 min.
- Add beer and stock, deglazing the base of the pan with the liquid. If using a frying pan, move beef to the slow cooker at this point.
- Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mustard.
- Set your slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
- Add the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.
- Once cooking is complete, add cream and stir. Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with parsley and a spritz of lemon juice.
Winter is the season for homemade soup. I have fond memories of growing up eating soup for lunch at the weekends. Minestrone, pumpkin, and pea & ham were the family favourites.
For this soup, I experimented with a new discovery for me: fennel. I had never made soup with it before, and as it was in season, I thought I’d experiment.
This soup balances the aniseed flavour of the fennel with the sweetness of the apple for a light but flavoursome meal. It goes well with garlic bread, and a garnish of sour cream.
I like to make extra portions of soup and freeze them for future weekend lunches. This time around, it came in handy for our first weekend getaway as a new family. With one night away and a little 4 month old in tow, we decided to book accommodation that had a kitchen and self-cater for dinner. And my fennel and apple soup was just the thing! Frozen, it was easy to pack into the car. And super easy to heat up in an unfamiliar kitchen. Yum! Hot, warming, homemade soup. Minimal effort for a cosy holiday dinner.
- ½ leek, finely sliced
- 20g butter
- 2 fennels, sliced
- 3 apples, diced
- 1-2 tbs plain flour
- 1 litre chicken stock
- Fennel fronds, to serve
- Greek style plain yoghurt, to serve
- Fry leek in butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat until soft.
- Add fennel and apples and fry for 3 mins.
- Add flour, and stir to form a roux with butter on the base of the pan.
- Add chicken stock and 1 litre of water and bring to the boil.
- Simmer soup until vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes.
- Puree soup with a stick blender until smooth.
- Serve topped with fennel fronds and a dollop of yoghurt.
Pineapple has such tropical vibes; I always associate it with summer. What a superb way to freshen up a dull and dreary Melbourne winter weekday. It has me dreaming of sunny beaches and summery breezes.
The pineapple I bought for this cake was lovely on its own. It was so juicy and sweet. The best pineapple I’ve ever had was in Fiji, on my honeymoon. But this pineapple was almost as good!
Coconut is the perfect flavour to combine with pineapple. And using coconut cream means that this cake is super easy to make dairy-free – just substitute the butter with a dairy-free spread and you’re good to go! I actually did this the second time I made this cake to cater for some dairy-free friends and it tasted just as good.
I decided to emulate the texture of a lemon drizzle cake by soaking the cake with a pineapple sugar syrup. Combined with a topping of shredded coconut, the texture of this cake is dense and intense and oh so tasty!
Perfect for an afternoon cuppa on a rainy day.
Pineapple and Coconut Drizzle Cake
- 110g unsalted butter, softened
- 110g caster sugar, plus 30g extra
- 2 eggs
- 130g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 35g dessicated coconut, plus a handful extra
- 125ml coconut cream
- 100g fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
- Preheat oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a 20cm cake tin with spray oil.
- Place pineapple chunks into food processor and whizz until pureed. Strain the pineapple puree and reserve the juice in a small bowl. Place both pineapple puree and pineapple juice to the side.
- Cream the butter and 110g of the sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one by one.
- Fold in the flour, baking powder and coconut.
- Stir through the coconut cream and pineapple puree until combined.
- Pour the mixture into cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 mins or until golden on top, and a skewer comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, mix 30g of the extra sugar with the pineapple juice to create a thick paste.
- Leave the cake to cool for 5 mins, before turning out onto a wire rack. Use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour over the pineapple sugar syrup while the cake is still warm. Sprinkle extra coconut over the top and leave to cool fully before storing or eating! Keeps well for 2-3 days in an airtight container.