Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A Surprisingly Good Birthday Cake

We all love a good before and after-shot, don’t we?
It’s not usually the way I like to capture my cooking, but in this case, it’s a prime example of how icing can hide a multitude of sins.
It’s also a great reminder not to turn your back on a vulnerable cake cooling on the bench, when there are vultures (children) around.
Despite a handful being dug out of this cake, I managed to salvage it and turn it into something special for Mr Everyday Baker’s birthday.
He enjoys a lighter-style birthday cake and loves a citrus and almond combo, so he was chuffed.
The middle lad even got to have a slice, despite what was threatened immediately after he was caught cake-handed.
Smiles all round, eventually.

Flourless Orange, Almond and Mascarpone Layer Cake
Two large oranges (enough to make 300g puree)
9 eggs
375g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
375g almond meal
250g mascarpone
250ml pure cream
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Berries, for decorating

To create your orange puree, you can boil the oranges in a saucepan filled with hot water for an hour or so until they are soft, before blitzing.
However, you can also just chop and blitz the oranges raw (including the peel) in a processor, it works just as well and adds a nice bitterness to the cake.
 Pre-heat the oven to 150C and line two 22cm cake tins (or three smaller ones) with baking paper.
In a mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and airy.
Add the orange puree (cooled) and whisk again to mix through, before folding through the baking powder and ground almonds until well combined.
Pour the batter evenly into the tins and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes until lightly golden and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in their tins before removing, to avoid a disaster.
Also make sure they are out of reach of little hands, again, to avoid a disaster.
For the icing, use your mixer to whisk together the mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Assemble the cake by placing one of the cakes on a plate or cake stand and using a palette knife to spread on a good quarter of the icing (depending on how many layers you have).
Place the second cake on top and spread the rest of the icing over the cake, before sprinkling over the toasted almonds.
Adorn with berries.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

One-Pot Lemon Chicken

A one-pot wonder recipe that uses fresh, seasonal produce?

Let’s just say it ticks more than a few boxes for me.

Firstly, any recipe that creates less washing up is going to be a welcome addition to the repertoire and secondly, if it manages to also be delicious and gets gobbled up by the whole family – then it’s going to be a regular feature.

This one is a gem based on a recipe from Sophie Hansen, food writer, NSW farmer and the 2016 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Woman of the Year.

The original features in her cookbook, Local is Lovely, which has some cracking recipes and this one made for an ideal dinner on a chilly night.

It also helps that there are plenty of lemon trees bursting with bright yellow goodies around at the moment, although ours could do with a Sabrina Hahn pep-talk but I’ve been gladly taking the overflow from others.

One-Pot Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice
1 large free-range chicken (1.8-2kg)
½ cup fresh herbs such as thyme or oregano, chopped
1 leek, washed and sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups long grain brown rice (I used brown basmati)
A small pinch of saffron
75g butter, cubed
1 litre hot chicken stock
3 lemons

Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Rinse chicken and pat dry, before rubbing the flesh with the herbs and salt and pepper.
Splash some olive oil in a ceramic casserole dish and place over a medium heat, adding the leek and garlic and stirring for a few minutes until the leek softens.
Add the rice and saffron, stirring to coat the rice with oil.
Push the rice to the sides of the pot and place the chicken in the middle.
Dot the rice with butter and pour the stock over the rice (not the chicken).
Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the rice and slice the other two lemons, placing on top of the rice.
Cover the pot with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
Check towards the end to ensure rice isn’t too dry and if it looks dry, add a few splashes of hot water.
Remove the lid and return to the oven, increasing the oven temperature to 200C for a final 15 minutes or so until the chicken browns up.
Serve with some steamed veggies such as beans and broccoli, or a nice green salad.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

A taste of childhood

This beautiful mess is a family favourite recipe from my childhood. Fond memories of this one.

Oatmeal Cake

1 cup oats or oatmeal
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cream (I used natural yoghurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used roasted walnuts)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Pre-heat oven to 160C.

If you're using whole oats, then blitz them in a processor or blender to make oatmeal. 

Place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave aside to cool.

Cream butter and sugars, adding eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla and oat mixture, stir well.

Sift in the flour, spices and bi-carb and add salt, stirring to combine. 

Pour into a lined cake tin (about 22cm) and bake for 40 minutes.

When cool, make the icing by placing the butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Remove from heat and add vanilla, coconut and nuts, mixing well. 

Ice on cooled cake (more like pour over the top and watch the deliciousness dribble down the sides).


Tuesday, 15 August 2017


This recipe comes courtesy of Liz Brennan from Moora Citrus.  

Liz tells me that this is a Brennan family favourite for Christmas lunch, using their beautiful late season seedless Valencias.

You don’t have to wait until then though, as there are an abundance of juicy Navel oranges in season right now which would work just as well, especially when teamed with local WA pork, olive oil and fortified wine.

Not surprisingly, supporting local producers can be quite a tasty and rewarding exercise!

Spicy Citrus Pork

1kg Linley Valley pork loin on the bone, skin scored
Juice of 8 Moora Citrus oranges
1/4 cup (60ml) Olive Farms Tawny
2 tbs Dandaragn Estate extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
8 garlic cloves
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs ground allspice
1 dried chilli
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbs black peppercorns
1 tbs sea salt
Steamed rice and greens to serve

1. The night before place garlic, oregano, cumin, allspice, chilli, nutmeg, peppercorns and sea salt in a small food processor and whiz into a paste. Transfer to a non-metallic bowl and stir in the Dandaragan Estate EVOO and half the Moora Citrus orange juice. Add the Linley Valley pork to the bowl and rub the marinade into the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight to marinate.

2. The next day, preheat the oven to 240C. Remove the meat from the fridge, take it out of the marinade and transfer to a roasting pan, add about 1/3 cup (80ml) cold water to the pan. Spoon half the marinade over the top of the pork and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the over to 180C and roast the pork, basting frequently with the remaining marinade for a further 30-45 minutes until tender and cooked through. Once cooked, transfer the pork to a board and rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Place the roasting pan over high heat. Add the remaining Moora Citrus orange juice, 1/4 cup (60ml) of the Olive Farms Tawny and any leftover marinade liquid. Cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes until slightly thickened. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl.

4. Slice the Linley Valley pork loin and serve it on a platter with rice and greens, with the spicy citrus sauce on the side.
Photo courtesy Liz Brennan, Moora Citrus

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The new Sunday roast

At least once a week, here at the Everyday Baker household we like to gather at the table, sit down and have a nice family meal.
Just once a week, you may gasp?
Well our lads usually eat dinner at 5:30pm and Mr Everyday Baker and I are not really so keen on the super earlybird special.
We prefer to get them fed, bathed and put to bed, so we can enjoy a candlelit dinner for two with some highbrow adult conversation – which also translates to eating our dinner in front of the television.
The family dinner must be extremely well-timed, because if I keep the little people waiting too long then they start to fall to pieces and the scene gets very ugly.
So I’ve been favouring something I can start earlier in the day, such as this slow roasted Moroccan lamb shoulder.
I was initially cautious about the spice paste, as I wasn’t sure the lads would be into it, but I also wanted to push their taste boundaries a little because I can’t eat spaghetti bolognaise every Sunday.
Thankfully, they loved it.  
The lamb takes on a melt in the mouth tenderness and you can serve it however you wish, but we accompanied it with a roasted vegetable couscous salad, homemade flatbreads and a yoghurt/avocado/Dijon dip.
Or as the lads viewed it – a I’m-not-eating-that salad, yum wraps! And a side of, what’s this green stuff? Ooh it tastes like yoghurt, it’s quite good.
A menu to suit both young and old.

Roasted Moroccan Lamb
2kg shoulder of lamb (or similar)
70g soft butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 220C.
Take your lamb and stab small slits all around it with the tip of a sharp knife.
To make the spice paste, mix spices, garlic and salt with the butter, until mixed thoroughly.
Spread the paste all over the lamb – best way to do that is using your hands so you can really give that lamb a good massage and get all the flavours in there.
Put the lamb in a deep roasting dish and bake for 15 minutes, before turning the oven down to 160C.
Continually baste the lamb every 30 minutes, which involves spooning the juices back over the meat to keep it moist.
Cook for about 3-3 ½ hours or until beautifully tender.
Carve or shred, depending on your preference.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Pleasing the fruit dodger

My eldest lad is what you would call a dedicated fruit dodger.
I can’t say I’m surprised really, given my own childhood aversion to most fruit – something my own mother takes glee in reminding me of.
We play this wonderful game of lunchbox fruit boomerang. And by wonderful, I actually mean painfully frustrating.
Anything other than strawberries is destined to return home, worse for wear baring the bruises of a day spent roughly tumbled around a school bag.
In my fight against waste, I serve the same fruit up next to his dinner with a stern word.
He takes particular offence to bananas, even in muffin form, they tend to return home with hearty complaints.
So I celebrate the below recipe as not only being delicious, but also a win as it was gobbled up in record time by the non-banana eating lad in the family.
Not sure it will really cut it for fruit time at school, but it does seem to provide a little incentive in the form of a no fruit – no cake policy.   

Banana Cake

1 ½ cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 ½ cups caster sugar
3/4 cup walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (2-3 large ripe bananas)
125g softened butter, cubed
100ml natural yoghurt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

250g cream cheese, at room temp
125g butter, at room temp
500 icing sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup desiccated or shredded coconut

Pre-heat oven to 180C and line a 22cm cake tin with baking paper.
Mash your bananas to a pulp, blitzing in a blender or processor if easier.
Put them in your mixer (or just keep using your processor) and add sugar, eggs, and butter, mixing until thick and creamy.
Add yoghurt and vanilla and mix again until combined.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix until combined. Fold in the walnuts.
Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
To make the icing, place the cream cheese and butter in a mixer on medium-high speed until creamy and well combined.
Add the icing sugar and vanilla and mix again on low (vital or it will be snowing in your kitchen), slowly increasing the speed as the icing sugar is combined. Beat until smooth and creamy.
Liberally spread the top and sides of the cake with icing, before sprinkling with coconut.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A cheesy love story

To help you understand the origins of this recipe, I must first tell you a little love story.
The story started out back in 1978, when a young country buck named Rob married his sweetheart Robyn.
Now Rob was a cheesecake-lover and no-one could whip up a cheesecake quite like his dear old mum.
But he was a married man now, so couldn’t very well be popping home to mum for a cheesecake every other day.
Robyn was proficient in the kitchen to say the least, but she didn’t share Rob’s love of cheesecake so it didn’t feature on their marital menu.
It soon became clear that no amount of pudding or pavlova would produce that satisfied smile from Rob, so Robyn decided she needed to up her dessert game.
She did just that. And ever since, Robyn’s Rum and Raisin Cheesecake has been a firm favourite in the recipe repertoire -with a few minor tweaks along the way.
The once dessert-crossed lovers now share a love of Robyn’s cheesecake, as do their children, grandchildren and surrogate children who occasionally pop in to see what’s on the menu (ahem, that’s me).
A big thank you for Robyn for sharing this treasured recipe.

Robyn’s Rum & Raisin Cheesecake
1 ½ packets granita biscuits
½ teaspoon cinnamon (or according to taste)
125g butter, melted
½ cup raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
500g cream cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons caster sugar (recently Robyn has been using dextrose, in the same quantity)
300ml whipping cream
2 teaspoons gelatine
2 tablespoons hot water

To make the crust, melt the butter and mix with the crushed biscuits and cinnamon. Press into spring form pan and refrigerate while filling is made.
To make the filling, place the raisins and run in a small bowl and put aside to soak.
Combine cream cheese, sugar and egg yolk, beat until creamy.
Sprinkle the gelatine over the water to dissolve and allow to cool slightly before adding to the filling.
Fold rum and raisin mixture in with the cream cheese and gelatine.
Pour into prepared crumb crust and refrigerate, leaving to set overnight.
Adorn with whipped cream, grated chocolate or strawberries.