Saturday, July 25, 2015

My fave lemon tart

This recipe is made with homegrown lemons which are their best during the winter. As I'm getting over a cold, I wasn't going to say no to a bagful of bright yellow lemons. What better treat is a lemon tart for an afternoon tea or served as dessert after dinner on these cool evenings.

Your guests will be in for a treat with this one. I've had a few requests for this one, so I've finally written it down. A creamy tart filling with the perfect pastry crust. Totally divine, if I say so myself. This delectable tart was gobbled down quite quickly before you could say, 'Can I have some more, please?'


Sweet pastry
300g cups plain flour
150g unsalted butter cubed
120g icing sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon 
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs

Serves 8


1. In a food processor, combine flour, butter, salt, icing sugar until it forms a coarse crumb like appearance.
2. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract into the food processor and mix until combined.
3. Shape pastry into a disc and cover with plastic film and place in the fridge for 30 mins.
4.  Make a cartouche* with baking paper to cover the base of the 20cm flan pan or 20cm springform cake pan. Basically a circular shaped piece of baking paper so the tart crust doesn't get stuck on the bottom.

5. Roll out pastry between baking paper and the plastic film used to wrap pastry.

6. Place pastry into a lined 20cm flan/cake pan. Use your hands to mould pastry around the flan/cake pan. Cut off excess pastry around the flan/cake pan with a knife.
7. Prick the pastry lightly with a fork and refrigerate for 30mins. (This is so the pastry doesn't shrink and to add as much of that delicious filling as you can)
8. Preheat the oven to 180C degrees and bake the pastry case with baking paper held down by dried beans for 15-20 mins.
9. Remove baking beans and return pastry case to bake for another 10 mins. Before taking out to cool.
10. Turn the heat down to 150C. 

11. Whisk together sugar, zest, lemon juice, cream, vanilla extract and eggs one by one. 

12. Pour the lemon filling into the pastry case and cook 35-45 mins or until the mixture is set.

13. Serve as is or with a dollop of icecream.

Handy hints
*How to make a cartouche.
I usually start with a square, fold in half to get a rectangle, fold in half again to get a square, then fold again along the edge of the folds to get a triangle. You will want to use the end with no edges or else you'll end up with 2 semi circles. Place pointy end to the centre of the 20cm cake pan and cut off the larger end of the triangle to fit within the cake pan. When you unfold the baking paper, it should be a perfect circle.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Light and fluffy superhero pancakes

What is it about the golden brown, crisp on the edges, light and fluffy centre, that has you coming back for more? That's right, I'm talking about the all time favourite, pancakes.

This pancake recipe is extra light and fluffy with a balance of just the right amount of baking powder and baking soda giving the pancakes light texture and golden brown colour.
It's also not too bad in making fun characters for the kids too. My sister set me a rather large challenge to cook pancakes like a boss with superheroes such as all the characters from Avengers.

I took the challenge on and asked the kids what they wanted, this varied from Pokémon, George Pig and Baymax so I did all three, of course.

So what do you think of my creations?

Makes about 20 pancakes or 10 the kids' fave characters


Dry Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Wet ingredients
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
1 cup of unsweetened yoghurt (I use Greek Yoghurt)
4 tablespoons coconut oil (or if you want to be more decadent use butter), plus more for serving

To serve
Maple syrup


1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until mixed through.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks, buttermilk, and yoghurt until mixed through. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter/coconut oil while whisking

3. Carefully fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula until just combined. Pour the mixture over the dry mix and fold until just combined (there should still be plenty of lumps).

4. Using a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

5. Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick frypan over medium heat for 5 minutes

6. Add a small amount of butter or oil to the frypan.

7. Use a 1⁄4 measuring cup to place 4 pancakes in the pan and cook until bubbles start to appear on top and the bottoms are golden brown, This will take about 2 minutes.

8.  Carefully flip the pancakes and cook on the other side until golden brown. This will take about 2 minutes too.

9. Serve the pancakes immediately, or keep warm on a wire rack set in a warm oven while you cook the remaining batches.

10. Serve with maple syrup and butter.

Handy hints

* You can easily make buttermilk using milk and vinegar.
1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.
3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

How to draw characters
If you are going to make characters, my tips are to keep the frypan hot to ensure the outline is noticeable. Work reasonably fast as it's hot work.

Place the batter mix into a squeezie bottle (say an empty tomato sauce).
Draw the outline of your choice of character, freehand of course.
Add details such as the eyes, ears, hands, feet first and leave for a 1 minute.
Fill in the spaces with the remaining batter and wait for the bubbles to come up before turning over.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cocoa Coconut Roughies

Needing a super fast easy treat to appease the kids? A treat that's sugar, gluten and diary free, nutritious and satisfies a sweet tooth craving. These Cacao Coconut Roughies are so good, you'll need to make double quantities to keep up with the demand as the kids will love them.

Preparation Time: 3 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 15-20 rectangles


100g almond meal (or hazelnut meal for a nuttier taste)
80g rice malt syrup
50g dessicated coconut
100g coconut oil
20g linseed
20g cacao powder
pinch of sea salt
20g rice bubbles for an extra crunch (can leave out if you want)



1. Combine the almond meal, rice malt syrup, coconut, coconut oil, linseed, and rice bubbles if you are using these.

2. Press mixture into a small lined tray and press into the mix with your hands and place in the fridge or freezer to set for 5-10 minutes.

3.  Once this mix has set, remove from the tray and cut into little rectangles. It is best served chilled or else they will melt on a warm day.To store keep these in a container in the fridge or freezer for a longer shelf life. But I doubt that they're last that long.

Handy tips
If you need it to be sweeter, throw in  a few chocolate drops and that will hit the spot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Roast pork knuckle

I remember watching an episode of the German Food Safari and it was after watching the Roast Pork Knuckle Recipe, I decided then and there, that we were going to have this dish for Christmas Eve. It is one decadent dish and probably best eaten once a year.
Whether it is Christmas or settling into hibernation for the winter, this dish is truly one to try. It's easy to make and the crunch of the crackling and taste of caraway and melting pork meat, is what its all about.


1 apple roughly chopped (red or green is fine)
1 brown onion thinly sliced
2 pork hocks
6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tbs of salt
1 tbs of caraway seeds
2 cups of water



1.Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Smear hocks with salt to get a good crunchy crackling

3. Smear hocks with garlic and caraway seeds

4. Cover the base of the cast iron with the chopped onions and apple before adding the pork hocks on top.

5. Add 2 cups of water or til half full

6. Place into cast oven into the oven to cook for 2.5 hours. (No need to cover with lid)

7. The meat will fall off the bone and smell amazing.

8. Serve up pork knuckle with sauerkraut and glass of cider or beer.

Handy hints

Use a cast iron pot or a deep pot as it gives the pork hocks something to lean against rather than an open oven roasting dish. I found that my pork hocks were always falling over into the onion apple mix which meant the crackling didn't work as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mulled wine perfect for Christmas in July

I love a good mulled wine and it's a must when celebrating 'Christmas in July' or any cold winter's night. A nice warming drink that was a hit on the night. So much so that I've had to write it down to swap recipes with another friend.


2 oranges (peel and juice)
1 lemon (peel only)
3 bay leaves
2 star anise
1 whole nutmeg
1 cassia bark (cinnamon stick will work too)
200 g caster sugar
2 bottles of Shiraz (I used Syrah/Shiraz grapes from Spain)



1. Using a peeler, peel large sections of peel from the 2 oranges and 1 lemon.
2. Place the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat with the juice of 2 oranges.
3. Throw in enough red wine to cover the sugar.
4. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil.
5. Add peel, cassia bark, bay leaves, star anise and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg and keep on a boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup.
(This will create a wonderful flavour base by getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to make a syrup base first as it needs to be quite hot. If you were to do this with 2 bottles of wine, you'll burn off the alcohol.)

6. When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add the rest of the wine.
7. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses or in my case mugs and serve.



Mandarin jam glazed ham

Having always wanted to try to make glazed ham for Christmas, it was finally my chance. I had visions of marmalade, whisky and mustard flavours studded with cloves.

Researching recipes that had instructions to soak the ham with water, or add cider or guiness in the basting mix, wasn't really what I had in mind.

Pre-ordering my 6kg Kurabuta honey smoked leg ham from the local butcher meant that I didn't have to pick it up til the day before. As I recently re-sorted my spice stocks, I knew what I had in the pantry.

My glaze was going to consist of a jar of my homemade mandarin marmalade, a good dose of brown sugar for caramelisation dosed with ginger and mustard. Fingers crossed, I hoped that the glaze would work out. The baking smells of ham, marmalade and cloves are irresistible. Watching the fat rendering, separating into the diamond shapes highlighting the clove centres, this was going to be one good looking ham.

With time up my sleeve, I covered the bone part of my ham with a white napkin wrapped in a green ribbon and a bouquet garni of freshly picked rosemary and thyme to finish the dish.

Not only did it look good but it tasted amazing. Can't wait to have another go at this at the end of the year.

Based on weight of 6kg, 18-22 serves


250g (1 cup) mandarin marmalade
5 tbs brown sugar
1.5 tbs mustard powder
1 tbs ginger powder
6kg Kurobuta easy carve smoked leg ham (bone is removed for easy carving)
cloves to decorate


Prep the ham
1. Use a small sharp knife to cut around the rind, about 5cm from the end where the bone is.

2. Run a knife under the rind, around the edge of the ham.

3. Gently lift rind off in one piece by running your fingers between the rind and the fat.

4. Score the fat, (in our case there wasn't that much fat, so it was a 0.5cm deep), in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the meat.

5. Place a single clove at the centre of the diamond pattern (this will also help the fat lifting away from the ham)

6. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
7. Place the marmalade, mustard, sugar, ginger in a bowl and whisk to combine.
8. Baste the ham every 10 minutes for 35-40mins or until the ham is golden and caramelised.

Handy Hints
Freeze left over ham and ham bone for soups. Label, date and freeze for up to one month. When ready to use thaw in fridge overnight.

Leftover ham is fantastic for breakfast or supper. My sourdough bread was perfect for the job with pickled onions, avocado. 


Guide to ham weights

3kg - 10-14 serves
4kg - 12-16 serves
5kg - 15-20 serves
6kg - 18-22 serves
7kg - 20-25 serves
8kg - 23-27 serves

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Basque burnt cheesecake

Researching our next trip to the Basque region, I came across a recipe for a Basque burnt cheesecake. In readiness for our trip to San Sebastian and the food to eat, I was excited to learn that this is a place where you have to eat dessert first.

Not due to the fact that this is a Basque tradition but if we were to fill ourselves on savoury tapas, all this delicious cheesecake from the cafes will be gone. 

This must be the easiest cheesecake to make and equally delicious. I'll be sure to make a trip to the cafes in San Sebastián to get my fill of this cheesecake. 

And yes dear sister, it's meant to be burnt as the sugars form a delicious crust  which I can't get enough of. Will make it for you soon. 


600g cream cheese
4 eggs
275g caster sugar
300mL thickened cream
1 tbs plain flour 


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. 

2. Grease and line the bass and sides of a 23cm springform cake pan with baking paper so the paper comes 2cm above the rim of the pan. 

3. Beat the cream cheese using electric beaters until smooth and creamy. 

4. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 

5. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the cream, then add the flour and beat until smooth. 

6. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan gently on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles. 

7. Bake for 50mins or until the top is dark brown and cake is set with a slight wobble in the centre and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the  pan. 

9. The cake is best eaten within a few hours of baking. (Actually is still really good til the next day). 

Handy hints

The recipe did ask for double cream (fat content of 48%) as it is the most versatile cream because it withstands boiling and whips and freezes well.

But I opted for the thickened cream (fat content of 35%) which does an equally good job for this cheesecake and for whipping into cream.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fiery chicken, dakgalbi

This dish, dakgalbi, has always been something I wanted to make but my recent memories of this dish is a sweet potato, cabbage stew that my mother makes. This chicken dish is marinated then cooked with plenty of vegetables and was once a favourite of mine.

It was time to face my fears and see if it was a good dish to keep in my cooking repertoire. Traditionally the dish is made with sweet potato but I replaced this with white radish as it soaks up the delicious sauce. As I didn't have any cabbage in the fridge, I opted with moon buk, a dwarfed variety of buk choy instead. I can happily say that this is one fiery dish that tastes even better the next day. With the cold winter upon us, this dish will hit the spot.


1kg of chicken wings
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
100g long white radish thinly sliced
2 leaves of cabbage* roughly chopped

200mL water
3 tbs Korean chilli paste (gochujung)
2 tbs of rice malt syrup
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs crushed garlic
2 tbs cooking wine
1 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs curry powder (optional)**
2 tsp Korean chilli powder
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seed
pinch black pepper


1. Place all the marinade ingredients together.

2. Place chicken into the marinade mix for 1 hour.

3. Thinly slice carrots, onions, radish and cabbage

4. Place the marinated chicken mix into a heavy cast iron pot and bring to boil. Bring to simmer for an hour.

5. With a half hour to go on the cooking, throw in the cut up vegetables.

6. Serve with steamed greens and rice.

Handy hints
*Bunch of moon buk roughly chopped
**I've used a mild korma curry mix or you can make up a curry mix using
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pork slider with kimchi

The flavours and textures used in Korean food are popping up all over the place, from exciting new restaurants like Moon Park to funky fusion diners like Ms.Gs. With celebrity chefs such as David Chang and Akira Back leading the charge, Korean food is being dabbled with by other hugely successful identities in the dining scene.  As a result, Korean food is developing a real familiarity with Sydney palates. 
I love that Korean food has finally received recognition and has become mainstream to being served in burgers and not just served as a side dish. As my tastebuds have changed over time, I usually detest very fermented kimchi. Only now I've started to appreciate the complexity of the flavours and have finally begun to understand what my parents have been telling me all this time.

Ever wondered how to make that pork slider, with the tender shredded meat and crackling, then don't venture too far. I found that this dish impressed the friends and family the most, and is so easy to do as the oven does most of the work.

When we served this dish to my brother in law, his response was annoyance that we hadn't served this up to him earlier at our get togethers and loved it so much, it was summed up as, "winner, winner, pork slider dinner".


1.5 kg pork belly
1 onion roughly sliced
1 tsp of Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp salt
3 bay leaves
400mL oil (olive oil and rice bran is what I typically use)

To serve
hot sirachi sauce
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of kimchi
handful of coriander leaves
12 soft white burger buns


1. Place pork skin side on a wire rack over the sink.

2. Boil a kettle of water and pour over the pork skin.

3. Using absorbent paper, pat the pork dry.

4. Place in a tray and leave in the fridge overnight to air dry. (Steps 2-4 are to help give that crispy crackling but these can be skipped, as I've stated in the handy hints section)

5. Next day preheat the oven to 160C.

6. Rub the pork with salt and 5 spice.

7. Find a tray deep enough to add onion, bay leaves, garlic, oil and pork and cover tightly with foil.

8. Place in the oven and cook for 4 hours or until meat is soft.

9. Drain pork from oil. Remove the meat and return the skin to the grill.

10. Turn the grill on and return the pork belly to crisp up the skin. Make sure you keep an eye on this as you don't want it to burn.

11. Allow the meat to cool before shredding.

12. I also like to refresh the buns to give it a nice crunch on the outside and the contrast of the soft inside. Heat the oven to 180C and leave the buns in for 8mins.

13. To assemble, dollop mayonnaise and chilli sauce on one side of the bun.

14. Add a small amount of kimchi, coriander and a generous heap of pork belly and small pice of crackling. Sandwich and secure in place with a toothpick.

Handy hint
You don't have to wait a day to start this recipe, as soon as you have poured the boiling hot water over the pork and dried this. Add the spices and oil and place into the oven.

If the crackling doesn't work as well, a great trick is to cut off the areas that it didn't work well for and place under the grill and crank the heat up and watch it closely.