Growing up in Australia, Halloween was never a thing. In recent years I have seen more and more children walking around the suburbs in their costumes trick or treating as well as an increasing number of households decorating their front yards to get in to the spirit.
This year I decided to do some Halloween baking for a bit of fun, and because I was procrastinating instead of studying for my uni exams.
I haven’t yet developed a proper recipe for these pies with the correct amount of pastry for the filling but the slow cooked beef is too good to not share! The beef is cooked until it pulls apart and is waaaayyyy better than anything you could buy!
500g beef cubes
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
a splash of red wine
1/2 cup of plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of pepper
Toss beef cubes with plain flour so each cube is coated.
Brown off beef cubes in a hot pan with olive oil (you want them to have caramelised sides).
Add chopped onions and crushed garlic to the pan and as this is cooking try and scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Add a splash of red wine.
Pull the rosemary leaves off and put them in the pot.
Pour in enough water to cover the meat and put a lid on.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the meat until it breaks apart (add more water as it evaporates) then turn off the heat.
Add parsley and use a wooden spoon to squash the meat so it breaks up.
Refrigerate when cool. Line a pie dish or individual pie dishes with shortcrust pastry and spoon in cold filling. Cover with puff pastry and press down the edges to seal. Cut a V in the top to let out steam then brush with milk or egg wash before baking at 200°C for 35 minutes or until golden.
I used homemade shortcrust pastry on the bottom and puff pastry with half the butter to flour weight folded in for the pie tops.
In our backyard we have lots of beautiful fruit trees. We grow satsuma plums, nectarines, peaches, pomegranates, lemons, blood oranges and my personal favourite CHERRIES! There is normally too much fruit to eat so what we don’t give away we turn in to jams, preserves and dried fruits. This cherry season I decided to try and make some cherry ripple ice cream for a refreshing summer treat. I found a simple base recipe using cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste then added some cherry syrup while it was churning in the ice cream maker and layered more of the cherry syrup with the base in a container before putting it in the freezer.
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup double cream
2 cups full cream milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 cups of pitted cherries
1/3 cup caster sugar
a splash of water
Place syrup ingredients in to a saucepan and cook on low heat until cherries are soft. Use a mesh sieve to push the cherries through to remove the skins. Refrigerate until cool. (Tip: do this the day before churning)
Put all of the ice cream base ingredients in to another saucepan on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool and refrigerate until cold (Tip: do this the day before churning too!)
Place the ice cream base in your ice cream machine, add a bit of syrup so it turns pink and churn until it gets thick. Spoon a layer of ice cream in to a freezer container and pour over some cherry syrup, repeat until you’ve used up all of the base.
Once it has frozen you can scoop it in to some waffle cones and enjoy on a hot day. Now it is satsuma plum season so time to think of some yummy plum recipes!
I am really loving my camera and starting to get the hang of taking photos that I am happy with. I still have no idea how to edit photos so haven’t even attempted that yet but one step at a time hey! If anyone has any photo tips/editing software suggestions let me know below!
When it is too hot to go outside on my day off I have to come up with activities to keep myself busy. Today I looked in the pantry and saw that I had all the makings of a caramel slice. I opened up my Donna Hay cookbook and found the recipe I have made many times before for her Classic Chocolate Caramel Slice but decided to add a few additions to make it crispy and peanuty! Normally I find the caramel layer a bit too rich for my liking so I reduced the caramel and added rice crispy cereal and crushed peanuts. It gives it a thicker and more crumbly texture. Now to work out what to make tomorrow, 40°C+ is not fun!
Biscuity Base Layer
1 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
125g butter (melted)
Crispy Caramel Peanut Layer
400g sweetened condensed milk
75g golden syrup
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
2 cups rice crispy cereal
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line an approximately 7 inch square cake tin with baking paper.
Place biscuit base layer ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.
Spoon mixture in to prepared tin and smooth out evenly with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 15 minutes
While the base is baking, place condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t catch and burn on the bottom.
Mix in rice crispy cereal and crushed peanuts.
Once base layer has been in the oven for 15 minutes, take it out and spoon caramel on top, spreading it out evenly.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the caramel layer looks golden on top.
Take tin out of the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
Melt milk chocolate and dark chocolate slowly in separate bowls in the microwave.
Once melted, stir in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to each chocolate type.
Spoon blobs of each chocolate on the top of the caramel layer and swirl around.
Tap the container on the bench so air bubbles on the surface burst.
Put in the fridge to cool completely before removing the slice from the tin and cutting in to pieces (a heated knife will help to get through the chocolate layer).
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days
Just after Christmas but before the new year begins there is always a gap where I don’t know what to do with myself. Even remembering what day it is has always been a struggle during this time when I normally hang around at home snoozing off all the food I have just consumed and watching movies for days. Earlier in the year I had planned a road trip down the coast but had to cancel it due to bad weather so with both my brother and I on holidays with nothing much planned we decided to go.
South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula is so easily accessible from Adelaide and the things to see and do are limitless.
After packing up the car we drove south and went for a walk at Port Willunga Beach before popping in to the Victory Hotel for lunch at Sellicks Hill. The views and food were just as magnificent as I remember from the many times my family ate there when we stayed at my grandparents holiday house at nearby Sellicks Beach while I was growing up. When I checked out the menu before we left and saw they had my favourite King George Whiting from Kangaroo Island it was a must on my to do list.
Once we had finished our delicious meals, we traveled through many small towns with shops and art galleries to look at. We passed many signs to wineries and pick your own fruit farm and stopping in Yankalilla for some groceries and local bread. Next stop on the itinerary was Ingalalla Falls. This short drive out of Normanville ended at a nice, shady car park with cows on one side and lush green trees on the other. The actual waterfall was only a short walk from the car park over a creek and down a tree lined path. It was gorgeous. Having traveled through Normanville many times before I was surprised to learn of waterfalls existence. It is a must if you find yourself in the area!
We headed to Cape Jervis, where we were staying, then unpacked our stuff before heading out to explore the town. At the Sealink ferry terminal where you catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island we stopped for a cool drink and grabbed some brochures with Kangaroo Island tours and information (for next trip) then went to the lighthouse before driving down to the beach.
After having an early night and an early morning we headed off to Deep Creek National Park. Driving through the park we passed many kangaroos along the way.Our first stop was Blowhole Beach. I did some research beforehand and found you could either go on a hike to the beach which would take two and a half hours return or there was a 4WD track to take you down which would mean there would only be a short walk to the beach. I decided because there was a different hike that wasn’t accessible by car we would drive to Blowhole Beach and hike to the next place. My dad let us borrow his 4WD so we were all set. Blowhole Beach was stunning and peaceful. At the time we got there only two others were on the beach. I could have sat there all day!
After leaving Blowhole Beach we drove to Trig Campground where we set off for our hike to Deep Creek Cove. The way there was easy as it was mostly downhill. As we got towards the end it got quite steep and rocky. I remember thinking to myself how am I going to get back up to the top!
After a celebratory high five, a snack and downing some water we headed back to Cape Jervis where we stopped at the local pub to try and get an early dinner only to discover they didn’t serve meals until 6pm. We made some sandwiches to get us through the next two hours until we could go back to the pub. When we went back I ordered a chicken schnitzel and you’d think it would be hard to stuff up a schnitzel but the oil they fried it, and the chips, in left a gross aftertaste in my mouth. I couldn’t even finish it 😥 . Next time I think we will try one of the other dinner options. Back at the house we had a movie night before bed.
On the third day we packed up and drove home via the BEST bakery at Yankalilla where I had the freshest chocolate donut and a yummy juice.
Can’t wait for the next adventure! Happy New Year 😀
Something I have always tried to do is put a lot of thought and effort in to choosing the perfect gift for my family and friends for birthdays and Christmas. As I have got older, my desire to receive presents has dwindled but I do love when you can tell instantly how much effort someone has put in to choosing what to give you. One of the best presents I ever got was from my brother who was studying and didn’t have much of an income so decided to make me a present for my birthday. He, bless his heart, taught himself to crochet to make me a figurine of one of my favourite cartoon characters. I cried. He said if it wasn’t good enough he would get me something else but I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was the best thing I have ever got for my birthday, his time and effort.
Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, not gifts, but I still want to be able to give the people who have given me so much love and support throughout the year a little token of my appreciation. So for Christmas this year, I have decided to hand deliver jars of homemade cookies.
My idea started when I was at Officeworks browsing at various stationery (a hobby of mine!), when I came across some Avery clear printable labels. I envisioned jars with these labels printed with a Christmas message so I went home and put my thinking cap on. Words that show what Christmas means to me were the obvious choice for my stickers. What I came up with was:
Next job was to find some jars to put them on. I went down to a great continental goods supplier in Adelaide called Gaganis. I get a lot of ingredients from this place like spices, nuts and beans along with various European products and kitchenware but they also have pallets of jars and bottles of all sizes for making your own sauces, jams and preserved fruits. I chose some jars about the same size as your average pasta sauce for 95 cents each!
Choc chip cookies, white chocolate chip almond oaty cookies, vanilla biscuits, almond bread and almond shortbread cookies were put on the ‘to bake’ list and off I went to get my ingredients. I made all of the cookie dough in to balls and cut out shapes which I froze uncooked so I could bake them as needed depending on when I would see the people I was giving them to. If you are going to make cookie jars, make sure you scoop each cookie small enough so once it bakes and spreads, it still fits through the top of the jar, unlike my chocolate chip cookies which were too big!
Last year I won a third place ribbon for my chocolate hazelnut French macarons at the Royal Adelaide Show. The recipes for macarons that I have seen on the internet are all very similar in terms of the ingredients used but may use either the French or Italian method. The French method is made by whipping room temperature egg whites with fine sugar. For the Italian method a hot sugar syrup is added to egg whites while beating which cooks the egg whites creating a more stable meringue. I like to use the French method even though it is less stable than the Italian, only because there is one less step in the preparation so requires less time and creates fewer dishes to wash!
Here is my favourite recipe…
You will need:
100g Egg whites
125g Caster sugar/superfine sugar
120g Pure icing sugar
120g Blanched Almond Meal
10g Cocoa (if making chocolate macarons) OR you choice of gel food colouring
Put pure icing sugar and almond meal (and cocoa if using) in a food processor to remove the lumps. Don’t over process! In the bowl of your mixer, place room temperature egg whites and start beating until they become a bit foamy, then slowly stream in caster sugar. Beat until your meringue is thick and shiny. Fold in dry ingredients (and food colouring if using). Now for the tricky bit! You have to mix until when you drop a bit of the mixture it slowly starts to disappear in to the rest of the mixture and doesn’t stay as an obvious blob on the top. Put the macaron mixture in to a piping bag with a 10mm round piping tip or you could cut a 10mm hole off of the tip of a disposable piping bag.
Pipe about 30mm wide circles of mixture on to baking paper leaving space between each one as they will spread a little as they settle. Leave trays in a cool dry place for 45 minutes to an hour until a skin forms and when you touch a macaron it does not stick to you! Place in a preheated oven at 160°C (320°F) and bake for about 13-14 minutes. You should notice little ‘feet’ forming which should be set when your shells are properly baked. Allow to cool on the tray.
Once cooled, you can fill your shells with the filling of your choice. I like to use ganache which you can make using equal quantities of cream and good quality dark chocolate. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat until you see some bubbles coming up, then pour over the finely chopped chocolate and sit for about a minute before whisking together to form a bowl of glossy delicious ganache. Allow it to cool and thicken to a consistency that you can pipe on to one half of your macaron shells and sandwich together.
Note: Store in the fridge (they are best the next day). Unfilled shells store well in the freezer!
The method pictures are from a batch of passionfruit macarons I made.
I wish you macaron success!
Well hello there! Welcome to my first post on my blog 🙂
Growing up, I always enjoyed going to my grandparents house and seeing what was growing in the garden. At home we always had fruit trees but a few years ago I started getting in to growing my own vegetables. I take great pleasure in planting a seed or seedling, watering it every day and seeing it grow in to a beautiful fruit or vegetable that I can use is my cooking and baking. Recently, I planted about nine Roma tomato plants and have now become blessed with an abundance of bright red delicious fruit. My family has enjoyed a lot of bruschetta but with a big bowl of tomatoes ripening at the same time I decided to turn them in to a light sauce for dinner. Start with about 1.4kg of Roma tomatoes and cut crosses in the base of each one. Place these in a pot of simmering water for about a minute and take them out with a slotted spoon. This will make it so easy to remove the skins! Dice one onion and fry until golden then add some diced beef (I used about 250 grams). Stir until browned and add in one diced carrot and capsicum. Cook until vegetables start to soften. Add in your peeled tomatoes and a cup of water and a cup of stock. Put the lid on your saucepan and cook for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally and adding additional water if needed. Add salt, pepper, a teaspoon of sugar and herbs like basil, oregano and parsley. Cook some pasta and stir through your sauce.