Monday, 16 December 2013

'tis the season!

We have been experiencing a heatwave in Perth, but it hasn't kept me out of the kitchen - mainly because we still have to eat and because I love all the baking that the festive season brings!
There are those people that we have in our lives who we appreciate but giving a gift can make them feel a bit awkward and like they have to give you something in return - my answer to that is giving them food. This year that has been in the form of chocolate shortbread and biscotti, packaged in a lovely little box, it's such a nice treat and people appreciate the effort (and hopefully the taste!).
As I write these words, I can smell my Christmas cake baking in the oven (I will share that recipe soon) and the lads are once again trying to tear apart our Christmas tree for sport, despite my many threats that Santa will not visit if they keep it up. Those threats are lost on the little lad and apparently we have talking tinsel that  just keeps calling his name. The big lad simply cashes in on the opportunity, but at least the thought of Santa not coming terrifies him... for five minutes at least.
Anyway the chocolate shortbread keeps them both happy and quiet, so I will share that next. But I've been having fun experimenting with different biscotti flavours and so far fig and almond seems to be a favourite. The base recipe is from the divine Donna Hay, who in my eyes is somewhat of a dessert queen, so anything sweet she shares immediately catches my eye.

Fig and almond biscotti

2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup raw caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup toasted blanched almonds
1 cup dried figs, roughly chopped 

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and add sugar, mixing to combine.
Add eggs, vanilla, figs and almonds and mix until a smooth dough forms. Add more flour if necessary. 
Place the dough on a floured suface and knead until smooth. 
Halve dough and roll into two logs, flattening slightly. Place them on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through. 
Well cool, cut the logs into thin slices using a bread knife and place the biscuits onto baking trays. Bake again for 10 minutes until golden and crisp. Cool on trays. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Will the real cocoa please stand up

Cocoa. Cacao. Did I make a spelling mistake? No, they are two different things. Basically, cocoa powder is made from roasted cacao beans. Cacao powder is the raw version and has become a popular term for the hipsters and their raw food diets. Both are derived from the same plant, Cacao and both lead down a deliciously, chocolatey road.
Now I'm not a hipster, so I'll stick with my cocoa powder. But something happened last week that blew my Everyday Baker mind just a little bit. Rather than my usual cocoa powder, I opted for the premium variety - the one without "flavours" in its ingredient list (I was slightly disgusted to read that) and simply "cocoa". I cooked with said premium cocoa, okay it was the Nestle Plaistowe variety, and I shall NEVER go back to that mundane "flavour" cocoa again. Holy moly, now that's flavour!
Don't take my word for it, just try it - you can see in the colour of the cocoa that it's richer and it's tastes that way too. I made my Mum's retro Swiss Biscuit Slice and it's never tasted so good! (sorry Mum).

Swiss Biscuit 

125g butter, melted
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut
2 tablespoons premium cocoa

1 cup icing sugar (I've been using the low GI cane sugar variety)
2 tablespoons premium cocoa
30g softened butter
splash of hot water
extra coconut for sprinkling

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a slice pan with baking paper.
Place flour, sugar, coconut and cocoa in a bowl and whisk to mix. Switch to a spoon and add the melted butter. Press into pan and bake for 20 minutes.
Allow slice to cool. To make the icing, mix all ingredients together until smooth and spread over slice. Sprinkle with coconut.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sweet Cheat Sheets continued...

As promised, here is the easiest chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. It's crazy how little goes into making these tasty morsels, which are perfect for last minute drop-ins or morning/arvo tea invitations. Or just to keep children quiet. This recipe is very effective for both. They also have no flour, so you could call them gluten free, which totally makes them healthy. *Wink wink*

Cheats Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup raw caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line baking tray with paper. 
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and roll level tablespoons onto trays (or just drop spoonfuls onto the trays as I do), 2cm apart. Flatten slightly.
Bake 8-10 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Sweet cheat sheets...

Here are a couple of cheat sheet-style recipes, which require minimal effort for maximum taste! The first is a scrumptious lemon slice, perfect for the warmer weather we've been having where you don't feel like anything too heavy. Having said that, it's quite rich so small slices are the way to go... I made this for morning tea with my grandmother, then left the rest for her - mainly so the lads and I didn't eat it all!

Lemon Macadamia Slice

1/2 cup condensed milk
125 butter, melted
250g plain sweet biscuits
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1 cup dessicated coconut

1 3/4 cups icing sugar (I used low GI sugar cane icing sugar)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
30g butter
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Heat condensed milk and butter in a saucepan, stirring gently until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. 
Crush biscuits finely and add lemon rind and coconut. Add butter/condensed milk mixture and stir well. Press into lined slice pan and refrigerate for one hour.
To make the icing, mix the icing sugar, butter and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Add some milk or water if too thick. Spread over base and sprinkle with macadamias. 

Coming up next, the ultimate cheat's chocolate chip biscuit recipe...

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Got milk?!

Why yes, yes I do. And a milkman. That's right, I've reverted back to the 1950's Everyday Baker and got myself a milkman. 
Last week, a young man came knocking at my door telling me about Aussie Farmers Direct. Now unfortunately for that young man (I'm guessing from his pitch that he may have been on commission), it was crazy hour and I had two screaming lads in tow, so I turned him down. As I told him, I wanted to do some research. So after perusing the Aussie Farmers Direct website, I decided to sign up, place a weekly order and try them out. 

Waking up and opening the front door in the morning after the first delivery was exciting. I loved that someone had delivered our milk (and yoghurt and cheese) in the early hours of the morning and I could just grab the cooler bag and bring it inside without having to converse with any strangers. 
My order of local Harvey Fresh milk (my favourite brand is Bannister Downs but they only come in small pouches and are not one of the Aussie Farmers Direct suppliers), WA beef and chicken, Australian-made dairy products, many organic, were perfectly chilled ready for the fridge. 
My second dairy order didn't go so smoothly. They forgot my cheese and yoghurt, but, unlike other delivery services I've tried, after I let them know I received a personal text message from the franchisee apologising and asking if I would like the missing items delivered the next day. I was happy. 

So I'm sticking with my new milkman. The service is fantastic and I love the fact we're supporting an independent company with good intentions rather than one of the big supermarkets. Plus, I'm also trying their fruit and veggie service. While I still love going to the markets, it's not always possible so this is a great option.  

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A treat fit for a lady

The Everyday Baker household is dominated by boys. Which isn't a problem, I'm not a girly girl by any means. But this is my version of getting all girly, these are the perfect little lady biscuits which I like to enjoy with a cup of tea, while my lads simply like to inhale and destroy them in a big chocolatey mess. They are a great biscuit to show off with and they are relatively easy to whip up, I find it easier to pipe them as I can't be bothered rolling a million little balls and try to get them somewhat even. 
The salt in these sounds odd, but it cuts through the sweetness and is divine.

Chocolate Salted Creams
125g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coca
2 tablespoons custard powder
1 egg
1-2 tablespoons milk

100g butter
1 cup icing sugar
50g dark chocolate, melted
1-2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two trays with baking paper. 
Place butter, sugar, baking powder, flour, cocoa and custard powder in a mixer (enter the trusty Kitchenaid mixer) and mix until crumbly. Add egg and milk and continue to mix until it binds together. If you're rolling into balls, it should be firmer but if you're planning on piping it, add more milk if needed.
Using a star nozzle (well I did, but whatever you've got is fine) pipe twenty cent piece sized balls onto the trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool on rack.
To prepare icing, cream butter in a mixer until smooth and creamy and add icing sugar, melted chocolate and finally the salt. 
Sandwich together biscuits with icing and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, like a lady. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

And the chia cook-off continues...

Lucky I bought the 1kg tub of chia seeds. My experimenting in the kitchen with chia has graduated from sprinkling some seeds on top of cereal and muffins, to this:

Next time I plan on trying this pudding with caramelised banana on top. Both lads loved it, particularly the little lad (although his was served minus the chocolate).

Blueberry Chia Pudding
3 cups milk (I'm going to try with coconut milk next time!)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup chia seeds 
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen 
Dark chocolate, to garnish

Place the milk, vanilla and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil, just head to infuse the milk with the vanilla (you'll see the black floaty bits in the milk when it's done) - about 5 or so minutes. 
Stir in the chia seeds. 
Get five or six glasses (depending on the size) and place some blueberries in the bottom of each. Pour over the chia mix and refrigerate until set, ideally overnight but at least four hours is good. Grate some dark chocolate over the top to serve. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

From little things, big things grow...

Well that was certainly the case with The Chia Company. One man's vision to make an impact on a global scale, led farmer John Foss to the chia plant. Chia is the richest plant based source of Omega 3, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants. John is largely the reason that chia has become something we all know about and can buy at any decent store.
He started off trialling growing chia in Kununurra (in WA's north), perfecting the growing process before attempting to grow the business itself. Then the marketing side kicked in. It's obvious both of those aspects have been a raging sucess, as The Chia Company is now the world's largest chia producer.
The company is also the only of its kind to manage from farm right through to the finished product, offering full product traceability, with the ability to track from shelf right back to the exact paddock that particular crop was grown in.

So what do you do with chia? Here in the Everyday Baker household, we love the stuff. We generally sprinkle it on our cereal in the morning, for a little extra goodness. But lately I've also been incorporating it into some recipes as well. It doesn't have a very strong flavour, which makes it ideal to add to sweet or savoury dishes to bump up the nutritional value. I took the Pretty Darn Good Muffin recipe and turned them into Pear, white chocolate and chia muffins.

Pear, White Chocolate and Chia Muffins

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup wholemeal or spelt flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar (I use raw caster sugar)
2 pears, sliced thinly (I use the mandolin side of a grater)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
80g butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 natural yoghurt
3/4 cup white choc bits
2 tablespoons chia
Heat oven to 165 degrees Celsius (fan forced) and line a 12 hole muffin tin with papers.
Mix flours, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl, whisking gently to mix before stirring in sliced pear and white chocolate.
Place egg, vanilla, butter, milk and yoghurt into a jug and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix together with a spoon, until just mixed. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with chia, bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

More to come on the chia front...

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cakes that are good on the lips as well as the hips...

That's kind of how I was selling them to the big lad. Well, actually it was more like - "would you like some cake?! Look I've made a little one especially for you!" to which he gleefully replied, "Ooooh yes please Mum!". 
Aaaand then he tasted it and realised it wasn't sweet... and proceeded to tell me, "I don't like it, no more thank you." Ahh well, you can't win them all. At least he used his manners.
On the upside, Mr and Mrs Everyday Baker thoroughly enjoyed these zucchini cakes and they were perfect for the nine month old little lad. Firm enough for him to pick up but cakey enough for him to devour without any choking. 
These work well with any veggies you've got in the fridge, but the zucchini in particular makes them deliciously moist. 

Zucchini Cakes

1 cup SR flour
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
1 corn cob, kernals stripped (or 1/2-1 cup frozen)
1 brown onion, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fetta cheese
5 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil 
cherry tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare a 22cm cake tin or muffin pan (I used a Texas muffin pan as well as a muffin pan).
Combine flour with zucchini, carrot, corn, onion and cheeses (leaving some cheddar to sprinkle on top) and stir well. Whisk together the eggs and oil in a jug and add to the other mixture, folding together. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon in tin/pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese and add half a cherry tomato to each or arrange on top if using a solitary cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and cooked through. 
Serve with green salad.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


I picked up some beautiful Packham Pears the other day from the Swansea St Market. They're beauties and quite cheap at the moment too. According to Apple and Pear Australia, Packhams are available from May to January and have white flesh which is firm but juicy with a rich flavour. I'll agree with that. Apparently they are ideal on their own as a snack, or baked, poached in tarts or for salad. Yep, that's also true.

Here's some proof :

Chocolate, Almond and Pear Cake 
(this recipe is based on one I came across on The Telegraph's website, which is based on this yummy cake from River Cottage)

3 Packham pears, peeled, cored and quartered
25g butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
150g butter, softened
125g raw caster sugar
2 eggs
100g SR flour
100g almond meal
25g cocoa

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin (although I used a square tin because it's what fell out of the cupboard first). 
Melt the 25g of butter in a frying pan and add the pears, cooking for until tender before adding the brown sugar and cooking until it dissolves. 
In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg and a spoonful of the flour, mixing well before adding the second egg and another spoonful of flour. Combine the remaining flour with the almond meal and cocoa and fold into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. 
Spoon into cake tin and arrange and press pears into the cake batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
Delicious served with cream or natural yoghurt.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Excitement in aisle five...

I've been getting excited when I visit the fruit and veggie market lately. Now that may sound sad to some, but the fruit section is starting to look a lot more colourful and that makes me happy. Then I start thinking about how I can incorporate some of the beautiful bounty into some new recipes... again, excitement ensues.

I don't have much trouble getting either of the lads to eat strawberries straight from the punnet, but I got a bit carried away when visiting the Swansea Street Markets in East Vic Park the other day and let's just say I ended up with enough gorgeous, plump local Berry Sweet strawberries to start my own jam company. I didn't want to make jam, so I decided to create these biscuits instead. They go down really well with a cuppa and both the big and little lad devour them in an instant. And they look pretty. Winner all round. 

I piped these beauties onto the tray, quite frankly because starting this blog has made me pay more attention to my presentation (the lads aren't too fussy on the plating up) but you could easily spoon them...

Strawberry Almond Bites

100g butter, softened
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
1 3/4 cup almond meal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
About five strawberries, sliced (depending on the size)

Pre-heat oven to 165 degrees Celsius. 
Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing well after each addition. Fold through almond meal. Pipe or spoon twenty cent-sized portions onto a tray lined with baking paper and press a piece of strawberry into each.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. They will firm once cooled. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Beautiful Berries

Fresh produce is obviously always best. But it's not always possible, which is why we have back-ups of frozen and canned food. Something I always have a stash of in the freezer is frozen berries. I may bang on about the big lad not eating veggies, but for breakfast he loves nothing more than muesli with natural yoghurt and frozen blueberries. So at least he's getting some goodness there. 

In WA, we're lucky enough to have a few great berry producers. For example, you can get beautiful blueberries from Albany from December through to February (Eden Gate Blueberry Farm is a fantastic producer), but blueberries from Bindoon have just become available (from Blueberry Bliss) and are available at certain Perth farmers markets such as Stirling and Central Park Farmers Market in the CBD.

This recipe combines two of the big lads breakfast favs, natural Greek yoghurt and raspberries. I've used frozen raspberries in this recipe, but we're a bit excited about the picking up some fresh blueberries in the coming weeks! This cakey slice stays incredibly moist and can be made with different fruits if you so desire.

Yoghurt  Raspberry Slice

150g butter, softened
1 cup raw caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 eggs
1 2/3 cup SR flour
3/4 cup natural Greek yoghurt
300g frozen blueberries
1/2 cup flaked or slivered almonds

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a slice pan (about 20x30cm).
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (Kitchenaid do your thing). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour and yoghurt, alternatively, gently mixing until smooth. 
Fold through berries and pour into pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle over almonds.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

You know you want some

As I write this post, I'm overlooking paddocks of wheat that are on the cusp of becoming golden and ready for harvest. It's inspiring me to get in the kitchen and use some flour! Which I will soon enough, as I plan to take over my parents' kitchen to bake up a storm for afternoon tea. The lads and I have come to the farm for a visit and that always means some good home cooking is in order.
This is not really one for the kiddies, although the big lad does happily devour it, this recipe is more of a treat for the big kids. It's my Mum's recipe, so I thought it fitting to share at the moment. Plus, it's just downright delicious and who can go past some good old fashioned caramel slice?!

Chocolate Caramel Slice

1 cup plain flour
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
125g melted butter
1 395g can condensed milk
50g butter
1/3 cup golden syrup
200g melted dark chocolate
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 165 degrees Celsuis. Line a slice tin (about 18x28cm) with baking paper.
Combine flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Mix with a whisk to remove any sugar clumps. Add melted butter and stir (with a spoon) until combined. Press into tin and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.
Place condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. 
Pour over base and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool.
Combine chocolate and oil in a jug or bowl and melt in microwave (in 30 second bursts to avoid burning). Pour over caramel and allow to set. 
Cut into squares and enjoy!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Free range...

I love me some farm fresh eggs. I don't care what anyone says, I CAN tell the difference between free range and cage eggs. I don't even mind if there are a few bits of dried chicken poo on my egg shells, it reminds me they come from the farm and that's a good thing. I was lucky enough to get a about three dozen beautiful, farm fresh eggs on the weekend, but I otherwise buy Eggs by Ellah or a similar free range local brand and I don't mind paying a bit extra for the privilege.
Eggs by Ellah is a brand that is proud of its story and the farmer behind it is happy to stick her face on the packaging. Ellah is a new generation egg farmer and she is educating her customers as well as providing them with a beautiful product. And she does it in a very stylish way! With today being International Day of Rural Women, I thought it fitting to give Ellah, and all the other fabulous rural women out there, a bit of a plug because quite frankly they deserve it. 

Anyway, with my abundance of eggs I decided to have a crack (oh yes I did) at making cupcakes with a creamy chocolate peanut butter icing I've been wanting to try. Let's just say the big lad wasn't adverse to the idea of being my guinea pig either...

Vanilla Cupcakes with Creamy Choc Peanut Icing

115g butter (unsalted is best)
115g raw caster sugar
2 free range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons milk 

60g cream cheese
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 12 hole muffin pan with cases. 
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently fold in milk, flour and almond meal. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Cool on wire rack. 
For the icing, combine cream cheese, peanut butter and icing sugar before folding in melted chocolate. Be careful not to over mix. Ice as you please, but I put the icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle and put a couple of stars on each cake - the term "free range" can also be applied to my piping skills!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Pink Lady Pudding!

So the Pink Lady apples we purchased at the Central Park Farmers Market last week were quickly disappearing from the fruit bowl - even the big lad was eating them and he has a general lack of enthusiasm towards any fruit other than berries! I had to stash a few so I could whip up this old faithful recipe for our dessert last night, and as it turns out the Pink Lady apples are just as good cooked as they are fresh...

This recipe is an old family favourite, passed down from my mum, from her mum. It's so good and so easy! Last night I added some dates just to mix it up a little, but I'm thinking walnuts would also work well.

Spicy Apple Pudding

2 apples, sliced or chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup self raising flour
1 egg

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place the apple, sugar and flour in an oven proof dish, mix well. Whisk together egg and melted butter, add to the apple mix.
Melt the brown sugar into the hot water, with the butter and mixed spice.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. 

Serve with ice cream, cream or in our case, natural Greek yoghurt

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Tart

Well I promised that I would be making the most of the goodies I picked up from the Central Park Farmers Market, so here we go!
Both the asparagus and cherry tomatoes are from the market and are beautiful produce in their own right, so I decided to combine them to create a tart for dinner. We served it simply with a rocket salad, lightly dressed with a splash of olive oil and lemon juice.
Having frozen puff pastry in the freezer is fantastic for those last minute dinner dilemmas, it can really jazz things up - but in this case, the asparagus and cherry tomatoes are the real heroes. 

Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Tart

2 sheets puff pastry
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temp (because I had some in the fridge, fetta or crème fraiche would work well too)
6-8 asparagus spears, blanched
1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Roll together pastry and fold in edges, lay on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper. Prick pastry with a fork and place another tray on top, to prevent it from puffing. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Whisk eggs, thyme and cream cheese together. Pour/spread over pastry.
Arrange asparagus and tomatoes over pastry and sprinkle with grated parmesan and cheddar.
Bake for 20 minutes or until set.  

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Everyday Baker goes to market...

One of the things I am quite passionate about, is supporting our farmers and buying local produce wherever possible. So I was excited today to head along to the Central Park Farmers Market, right smack bang in the middle of the Perth CBD. Imagine walking out of your office building and finding a farmers market had set up camp? Pretty darn cool!

There are a variety of stallholders including fresh fruit and veggies, Over the Moon Organics dairy products, Gingin Beef, Greenacres Macadamias and beautiful value-added products such as fresh breads, pastas and gourmet Greek delights. This Everyday Baker was in some serious foodie heaven and both the kiddies were salivating over the fresh strawberries (subsequently we left with two very crimson-faced, happy little lads in tow). The Central Park Farmers Market is held once a month but will actually be held once a fortnight from now until Christmas. Check them out on Facebook for more info.
Meanwhile, I'm excited about using the new season asparagus and Pink Lady apples... stay tuned for those recipes! 

C is for cookie. And chocolate...

I've already raved about Stephanie Alexander so I will resist the urge to do so again. But this choc chip biscuit recipe is awesome and she's the one to thank for it.
I usually keep some of this biscuit dough in the freezer, wrapped in alfoil or cling film and whip it out when I need to bake something pronto. Surprise surprise, the bigger lad loves these - I'm guessing the younger lad would too but he hasn't had the pleasure of tasting them yet, he's only got two chompers so we'll wait a little while... 

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

125g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
120g roasted nuts (I usually use walnuts), roughly chopped
170g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
110g softened butter
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup raw or brown sugar
1 egg

Sift flour, salt and bicarb into a large bowl. Add nuts and chocolate. In a mixer, cream butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add egg, then fold in chocolate mixture.
Form two logs about 4cm in diameter and wrap tightly in cling film or alfoil. Chill for 1 hour before baking (I don't always do this but it does make a better biscuit).
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Slice 1.5cm thick slices from logs and place on lined baking tray. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rake. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

High five for couscous

It happens frequently in this Everyday Baker's mind. The massive first world dilemma - what on Earth am I going to cook for dinner? Once I settle on something to take out of the freezer to defrost, it's like I can relax, crisis averted for another day. Until the late afternoon when I realise - what are we going to have with that chicken/lamb chops/steak? Why hello couscous, my convenient, versatile and quick-to-prepare old pal!
We love us some couscous in this household. It's usually the instant San Remo variety, which I simply measure into a bowl (generally about one cup), add some salt and olive oil, fill with hot water (about 1cm over the top of the couscous), wrap with cling wrap and leave for a few minutes before fluffing and separating with a fork.
That. Is. It.
So easy!

The other night I decided to mix it up a little and make a couscous salad to accompany our lamb chops, still very simple, but here is the recipe. I didn't have any on hand, but some roasted flaked almonds or walnuts would work really well in this salad too.

Couscous Salad

1 cup couscous
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
mixed salad leaves
100g fetta, crumbled
2 tablespoons parsley & mint
lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Place onion and carrot on a baking tray, sprinkle with cumin, sea salt and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven to roast for 20 minutes or until golden.
Prepare couscous according to packet directions. Place in bowl and mix with roasted veggies, salad leaves and herbs.
Mix lemon juice with olive oil and drizzle over salad. Crumble over fetta and serve!

Variation on the dressing:
For a delicious creamy dressing, simply mix one teaspoon of tahini, two teaspoons of vinegar and half a cup of natural yoghurt. Whisk with a good glug of olive oil to emulsify. Yum!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The humble carrot cake

Ahh carrot cake. How I love thee, not only for your tastiness but also your veggie-smuggling ability in getting the bigger lad to eat some goodness. Even if that goodness is covered with cake and icing. It makes me feel better and that's good enough for me. 
I have a fairly big range of cookbooks, which I adore and quite often just read for fun (I know, sorry to rub my crazy party life in your face but there you have it). This recipe comes from one of my all time favs and most often used - the Big Bertha of The Everyday Baker cookbook shelf, Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion. In my opinion everyone should own a copy of The Cook's Companion. It's just that good. The cake recipe is from Stephanie, while the icing is my own variation and together they are just scrumptious.

Simple Carrot Cake

125g self raising flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups grated carrot
60g chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsuis and grease an 18cm tin.
Mix flour, sugar and spices. Add oil and eggs, mixing until just combined.
Stir in carrot and walnuts. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 40-60 minutes.

Creamy Lemon Vanilla Icing
60g cream cheese
120g icing sugar
30g softened butter
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Whisk until smooth, or blitz in a food processor if you have one.
When cake is cooled, spread icing over.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Curry in a hurry

I like a midweek meal I can throw together easily, in between wrangling the children, but still has plenty of flavour. This curry has been one of my favourites throughout winter, served with brown rice - because I love the texture of the brown rice and quite simply, it's better for us. I usually cook the rice earlier and serve it with something more child-friendly for the kiddies... the big son is being a fussy little lad at the moment and would be happy just to eat it with grated cheese on top but sometimes I do manage to smuggle some veggies in there.

Curry in a Hurry

1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g chicken thighs or breast, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 (or more) tablespoons curry paste (I like a mild paste such as korma or tikka masala)
400g diced tomatoes
400ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1 cup cauliflower, roughly chopped

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. 
On stove top, heat sunflower oil in a heavy-based casserole or oven-proof dish, add onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add chicken and ginger, cooking until chicken is browned. Add curry paste and stir until fragrant, before adding diced tomatoes, coconut milk and peanut butter. When simmering, stir in cauliflower, cover with a lid and place in oven for 40 minutes or so.
Serve with brown rice.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The quest for the perfect muffin...

I've been on the hunt for the perfect muffin recipe for quite some time now. To me, a good muffin must be light and fluffy, not too crumbly and of course it must taste good. 
While I may have not found the muffin yet, I'm pretty darn happy with the recipe I'm using at the moment. It's derived from a recipe by Jude Blereau, an Australian Wholefood guru. While I've made it clear I don't follow any specific food moments, many of Jude's Wholefood musings make good sense. And her recipes rock. I just adjust them according to what I have in the pantry.
Today I've made raspberry and white chocolate muffins, but the great thing about this recipe is its versatility - use anything you have on hand and just experiment (pear and coconut are a particular favourite in The Everyday Baker household). 
My big tip for making muffins? Do NOT over mix your ingredients. It will kill your muffins. Don't kill your muffins people, that won't please anyone. 

Pretty Darn Good Muffins

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup wholemeal or spelt flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar (I use raw caster sugar)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
80g butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 natural yoghurt
3/4 cup white choc bits
1 cup frozen raspberries

Heat oven to 165 degrees Celsius (fan forced) and line a 12 hole muffin tin with papers.  
Mix flours, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl, whisking gently to mix.
Place egg, vanilla, butter, milk and yoghurt into a jug and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix together with a spoon, until just mixed. Fold through berries and white chocolate. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Hi there!
Thanks for visiting. Simply put, this blog is a way for me to share recipes.
I'm a mother of two young boys, one with an insatiable sweet tooth and the other who is shaping up to be a big eater... of food in general. Subsequently, I try and bake as much as I can so I at least know the majority of what my family is eating.
I'm not into any fad diets or movements - I have nothing against anyone who follows that path, it's just not how I roll. I love good food, but I also enjoy exercise. So it's all about balance in my world.
Anyway, you didn't come here to read my ramblings... let's get cooking!

I thought I would start with a staple recipe in our household, a basic biscuit (cookie for the out-of-towners) which STS (Sweet Tooth Son) loves helping to make as well as eating, but they are not actually too jam-packed with sugar. I've made these with a few different types of flours, such as spelt and wholemeal, and they seem to work just as well. They are also nice with icing for special occasions.

Chocolate Shape Biscuits

75g sugar (I use raw caster sugar)
75g butter, at room temp
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
225g plain flour
25g cocoa

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celcius (fan-forced).
Cream butter and sugar together in mixer (I use a Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment). Add egg and milk, mix well.
Add flour and cocoa and mix on a slow speed, so it doesn't go everywhere, until it forms a dough and clumps around the paddle.
Roll out dough and cut shapes, we like stars and aeroplanes.
Bake for 10-15 minutes.