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.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Honey buns

Regular travellers along the Great Eastern Highway may be familiar with a certain honey stall, usually open only on the weekends.

Situated on the Perth-side of Mundaring (as you’re heading west), it’s set up at the front of a modest house and it’s certainly nothing flashy.

If you intend on stopping you need to have your wits about you and look out for the preceding “honey” sign, because if you drive past it, it’s not really a simple task to turn around and go back.

It’s been a favourite in our family for years, yet I actually have no idea if they have a brand name or even what the owners’ names are.

But it’s great local honey and comes in a range of tub sizes and varieties - Wandoo and Mallee are favourites here.

If you’re a big honey eater (not an actual bird), like my Dad – then you’ll opt for a gigantic bucket of wandoo and complain if anyone else tries to have it on their toast.

Once you’ve immersed yourself in the world of honey, that is, tasted honey from hives kept in particular parts of bush or forest for a specific flavour, it’s difficult to go back to generic, store-bought “honey”.

WA is lucky enough to have a thriving beekeeping industry producing a wide range of honeys, so there really is no excuse not to buy local.

This recipe makes use of some local liquid gold and is the perfect solution for those craving hot cross buns at any time of the year. After all, who doesn’t love warm bread smothered in butter and honey?

You could certainly add some sultanas to the mix and whatever honey you please, I opted for mallee as it has a beautiful, well-rounded flavour without being too robust.

With the recipe originally hailing from Matthew Evans’ book, Summer on Fat Pig Farm, these honey buns are versatile and can be used for sweet or savoury fixes but are best eaten fresh from the oven.

Honey Buns
550g plain flour
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
250ml warm milk
125ml olive oil
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons honey
30g sugar
30g butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 eggwhite

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, whisking to combine.
In a jug, mix the milk, oil, egg, egg yolk and honey and whisk to combine.
Start up the mixer on low and begin adding the milk mixture, contuning to mix until a smooth dough forms.
Increase the mixer speed a notch and knead the dough for about five minutes (about 15 minutes by hand).
Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Turn out onto a floured surface and punch down, cover and rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into about 24 pieces and shape each into a ball.
Place the balls onto baking trays and cover, leaving to rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
To make the glaze, combine the sugar, butter and honey in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves.
Allow to cool before whisking in the egg white and brushing onto the rolls.
Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and for that extra sweetness, brush with extra honey while still hot.

Monday, 27 February 2017

For the love of cookbooks...

Cookbooks hold a very special place in my life and I adore my collection.
Each one tells a story, not only of the recipes contained within their pages, but also the where and when I purchased or was gifted each book.
Many have pages splattered with various ingredients, or scribbles from my overzealous helpers, whereas others remain pristine as I have never cooked from their pages, preferring instead to adore their food photography and styling.
It’s not a huge collection compared to some; I vividly remember being jaw-droppingly astounded when I saw Sophie Zalakor’s cookbook “library” at her home in Pemberton.
One of my all-time favourite books is one I picked up on my Farm Weekly travels, at a favourite café in Balingup which at the time was owned by the wonderful Katrina Lane.
On a sidenote, Katrina is currently involved in launching WA’s first Food and Drink Symposium to be held in May (check out chuffed.org/project/fads).
Anyway, back then Katrina had a beautiful collection of carefully selected cookbooks from around the world and she directed me to one by a Tuscany-based author/cook named Tessa Kiros.
I was taken by the simple magnificence of Tessa’s recipes, with their charming blurbs of how each came to be. And, importantly, I’ve never had a failure following any of her recipes.
So when I was trying to perfect my banana bread recipe (the dreaded lunchboxes beckon again), I looked to Tessa for inspiration and wasn’t disappointed.
This recipe features in one of her earlier cookbooks, Apples for Jam.
No food lasts very long in the Everyday Baker headquarters, but bananas always tend to go black in the blink of an eye and I loathe food waste.
I like some crunch so I add some pepitas or sunflower seeds (to keep it nut allergy friendly for school), but the recipe also forms a delicious crust on top while cooking – which is another must for banana bread accordingly to my lads.
A handful of choc chips never go astray either.

Banana Bread
125g butter
180g dark brown sugar
3-4 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons warm milk
Pinch of salt
½ cup pepitas or sunflower seeds

Pre-heat oven to 180C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth and add bananas.
Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, mixing well.
Sift in flour and baking powder, beating until smooth.
Mix the baking soda into the warm milk and fold into the batter.
Scrape into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a skewer poked in the centre comes out clean.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Cooking up new family traditions

We kicked off the New Year by starting our own little family tradition.
It didn’t involve setting #goals or a #newyearnewme, but true to form it did involve food and making the most of glorious local produce.
I’m talking tomatoes; beautiful, plump, juicy tomatoes.
There are plenty of WA tomato growers dotted around the place, in areas close to Perth such as Carabooda and further north around Geraldton.
They are in their prime at the moment (we’re talking paddock-grown, not hydroponic), which means they are in abundance and they are red, like the real deep red that ripe tomatoes should be.
Mr Everyday Baker and I had often spoken of attempting to make our own passata and this year, we decided to go for it.
Passata is essentially a simple tomato sauce, added to pasta sauces and the like to enhance the tomato flavour.
The word passata is Italian for “passed”, which gives you an idea on how to make the sauce – it’s simply blanched tomatoes passed through a sieve.
Making passata is a massive event for many Italian families, many of who combine their efforts in mass production.
A few families we know from Merredin do exactly that, and they used one tonne of tomatoes to produce this year’s batch!
Ours was done on a much smaller scale and I was able to source the Roma tomato as seconds from a local fruit and vegetable grower for a very good price.
It’s well worth asking at your local store or contacting a tomato grower directly – often the tomatoes that don’t meet the aesthetic “standard” or are too ripe will be turfed, so you’re doing them a favour by taking them.
Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the first annual Everyday Baker passata making day went extremely well and our pantry is now well-stocked, along with a few gifts for family and friends.
Not sure we’re ready to tackle a tonne, but we may up the volume slightly next year.

8kg ripe Roma tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
A bunch of fresh basil leaves

First of all, you need to sterilise the jars you intend on using, which can be done by boiling them in hot water or in the dishwasher (you’ll need about 4-5 litres worth).
Prepare your tomatoes by washing them and cutting off any yucky bits.
Fill a large stockpot with water, to about three quarters full, and bring to the boil.
Blanch the tomatoes in batches, adding them to water and removing as it comes back to the boil.
Put them in a colander and allow to rest for about half an hour to get rid of the excess water.
With your tomatoes blanched, it’s time for the therapeutic step.
We used a mouli, or potato ricer, over a large pot and added the tomatoes in batches – leaving the skins in for a few rounds to help get a thicker sauce.
Once you’re done, season the passata with the salt.
Place a few basil leaves (three or four) in each jar before filling, leaving about a 5cm gap from the top.
Cap your jars tightly and vacuum seal, which is done by boiling the jars in a pot of hot water (so they’re covered) for about an hour, before turning off the heat and allowing them to cool in the water.
If they don’t all seal properly, so the cap pops back up, repeat the process or make spaghetti for dinner.
Enjoy over the next 12 months!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Peachy keen

Tis’ the season!
Hold the tinsel, because I am actually referring to stone fruit season – is that not worthy of immense celebration and elation?!
This year I was particular excited when I saw stone fruit start to emerge in the shops, but I wanted to get my hands on some beauties straight from the grower – as they just always seems to taste better.
That’s how I came to meet the lovely Tim and Wilma Byl from Valley View Orchard, Roleystone.
The Byls have been growing fruit in WA since the early 1950s, with Tim, Wilma and their five children now taking up the helm with the help of Tim’s parents Adrian and Thea.
They grow a variety of stone fruit and apples, pears, persimmons and citrus fruit and the family is a perfect example of how generational growers have adapted to stay viable.
While they still supply a majority of fruit to the Canning Vale Markets, the Byls also attend farmers markets such as City Farm and Poynter Farmers Market in Duncraig and have developed a customer-direct service through their website.
Through that service, they now supply boxes of fresh fruit to many businesses within the Perth CBD.
I called Wilma trying to get my hands on a box of peaches and the lads and I drove out to collect them, leaving also with a box of beautiful nectarines, some magnificent apricots, three very excited lads and the warm fuzzy feeling you get after meeting some genuinely nice people.
Here’s a tip I picked up on our visit- one sure fire way to tell if you’re buying local nectarines is to check the sticker – look for “WA nectarines” rather than just those brandishing “Australian”, as they are likely to have come from across the border.
Anyway with so much stone fruit at the ready, I could finally get this trifle recipe out of my head and into reality.

Peach Trifle
1 sponge cake or about 12 savoiardi biscuits
½ cup cream sherry
2 cups custard (if you make it from scratch, I add a few peach pips in the saucepan for that extra peachy flavour)
8 peaches, halved and pitted
50g butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup cream
125g marscapone
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup flaked almonds, roasted
½ cup blueberries

To prepare the peaches, pre-heat the oven to about 220C and place the butter in the bottom of a baking dish.
Place in the oven until the butter has melted, then add the peaches and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Roast for about 10 minutes.
When they are cool enough to handle, peel and slice into segments.
If using a whole sponge, cut the cake into small slices as you would normally slice a cake and press them firmly into a trifle bowl.
Drizzle with cream sherry, before adding your custard layer. Adjust the amount according to your preference.
Once the peaches have cooled, layer them on top of the custard.
Place the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla into a mixer and whisk until firm (but not too firm).
Layer on top of the peaches, before adorning with blueberries and almonds.
Take a step back and appreciate the beauty, before plonking it on the table to a round of applause from your guests.