Saturday, 4 April 2015


Rainy days have always called for a big pot of tea in my household - in the afternoon I grew up watching my parents enjoy tea and biscuits. With the middle of the Easter long weekend being as gloomy as it is, I felt quite a longing for afternoon tea. And what better to accompany this than some home-baked biscuits?

I've been doing a fair bit of baking, now that I don't live with roommates anymore (a clean kitchen seems to motivate me), and this recipe for Earl Grey and Vanilla Cookies from Butter and Brioche has been beckoning me for a while. I felt dissuaded due to not owning a food processor but this has been rectified - and I'm pleased to say that it was one of the most relaxing evenings I have spent in the past month with these cookies and a big pot of tea.

The recipe calls for any type of tea you prefer - I used black tea and the subtle flavour of tea set off the buttery crumbly texture of the cookies wonderfully. My boyfriend and I could not stop ourselves from grabbing cookie after cookie - we had to stop ourselves from eating the whole batch and saved some for another rainy day.

Try to freeze the dough roll well - ours turned out a little crumbly due to my misreading of the recipe and we had to reshape the round pieces - but rough-hewn different shapes of the biscuits only lends to the charm, in my opinion. A good conversation and good company is made that much better by having something warm and fresh to snack on.

The recipe is as follows, from Butter and Brioche:

  • 2 tbsp. earl grey tea leaves, or preferred black tea
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, chopped into quarters and ends trimmed (I didn't have vanilla bean so just omitted this from the recipe - although  I imagine the cookies would be just that little bit more flavoursome because of this!)
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup plain flour
  • Pinch of sea salt ( I used normal kitchen salt.)
  • 2 tsp. heavy cream (I used Gippsland double cream)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup butter, chopped and slightly softened
  • Demerara or raw sugar for sprinkling (I used white sugar)
  • Place the tea leaves in a small stainless steel fry-pan set over medium heat, shaking the pan to distribute the tea leaves into an even layer. Watch the leaves and stir them carefully as they can darken easily - toast them for about two minutes until the tea is fragrant. Place the toasted leaves in the bowl of a food processor to cool.
  • Add the caster sugar and vanilla bean segments to the food processor bowl with the tea leaves and pulse to combine into a fine powder. Add the cinnamon, icing sugar, flour and sea salt and pulse to just combine. Finally add the cream, vanilla extract and butter and pulse to form a rough dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap scattered with a handful of demerara sugar and roll it gently to coat the outside and form a log shape roughly 1 ½ inches / 3 ½ cm thick. Sprinkle the log with extra demerara or raw sugar to cover it entirely, and transfer it to a freezer for at least thirty minutes to chill.
  • When ready to bake, pre-heat an oven to 170 C / 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove the log from the freezer and cut ⅓ inch / 1 cm slices off the log, rotating as you go to ensure the cookie shape remains round. Transfer the cookies to the prepared trays, leaving a couple of inches / centimetres between each – the cookies won’t spread that much but they do need their space to crisp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown.

Friday, 3 April 2015



On those rainy days which I like to term as 'doona days', a rich and thick meal is always on the cards - especially when it's the start of the Easter break. Lately I have been feeling very thankful for my lot in life, and why shouldn't I? - sharing this tasty pie with my boyfriend reminded me that despite having some bad days as of late, we do enjoy each other's company....third-wheeled by some kind of delicious meal of course.

I only used 500 g of chuck steak, and used about half of a previously chopped onion, and only one carrot, but you do get more flavour to it if you used the two full onions. For the lager we used Bittburger, which made it slightly bitter but still good!

I should mention that we didn't have liquid beef stock at home....and I was about to send my boyfriend to the store to get some stock. Then we remembered that on account of it being Good Friday everything was closed. We therefore used 2 Oxo Beef Stock Cubes, stirred them through two cups of boiling water. The resultant mixture was quite rich but it does work.

  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  •  800g beef chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  2 medium brown onions, chopped
  •  2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
  •  2 tablespoons tomato paste
  •  1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  •  1 1/2 cups Campbell's Real Stock Beef
  •  345ml bottle lager beer
  •  1 sheet ready-rolled frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
  •  1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Place flour in a shallow dish. Add beef. Toss to coat. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook beef, in batches, for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  • Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion and carrot, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Return beef to pan. Add tomato paste. Stir to coat. Add worcestershire sauce, stock and beer. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Spoon mixture into a 6 cup-capacity ovenproof dish. Top with pastry, trimming excess. Brush pastry with egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve.
I got this recipe from  a recipe book (Budget Gourmet) given to us by my boyfriend's mother. The online recipe is here! It says it serves four but if you're particularly peckish...then don't bank on it.

Saturday, 28 March 2015


Dining out for breakfast is a luxury in life, according to my mother - but it's one of those luxuries which I would gladly pay for here and there. Nevertheless there is a joy in making breakfast together with my boyfriend, and we thought we'd try to recreate the famous ricotta and banana hotcakes minus the honeycomb butter. There is something special about sitting down at the breakfast table on the weekend to eat a much deserved and special meal together.

The recipe is from Bill Granger here. I've just provided the recipe for just the hotcakes. In lieu of honeycomb butter (the recipe is at the link) Ii just drizzled some honey over the butter, icing sugar and berries.

  •  1+1/3 cups of ricotta
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50 g butter (for honeycombe butter. I didn't use all of this)
  • Strawberries/blueberries/raspberries/bananas. The original at the restaurants uses bananas so you can try that too - I used mixed berries.
  • Icing sugar

  • Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  • Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold egg whites through batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.
  • Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of the butter and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (don't cook more than 3 per batch).
  • Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides.
  • Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through.
  • Transfer to a plate and quickly assemble with other ingredients.
  • Stack 3 hotcakes on a plate and top with strawberries and a slice of honeycomb butter.
  • Dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


Trying out decadent chocolate truffles for the first time posed an opportunity to take some really good photos. Its no bake no hassle, and licking off the spoon is a great way to help out with the cleanup!

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Its the simple pleasures of life which help to pass the days. One of these things i love to do is having a picnic on a beautiful summer's day! With home-made fairy cakes topped with icing and sugar hearts, and good company, its basically a given that it'll be a great event.