Monday, March 26, 2012

Citrus and Chocolate Surprise with filo cigar / Sweet Mondays 'Stressed is desserts spelled backwards'

Gosh where should we start with this one...If you want to really have fun in the kitchen and stretch yourself by using a number of techniques, then this dessert is definitely for you! Loads of creativity, textures and delicious aromas. This is a dessert that will bring your kitchen alive and make your heart sing! Incredibly decadent, luxurious and oh SO delish. You can refrigerate dessert for later enjoyment, however, we much preferred indulging straight after assembling, so that the textures stayed as they should be - light and fluffy mousse, silky smooth ganache, heavenly soft curd. Refrigeration will firm up all components, so make sure you allow 15 minute resting time before eating. 
Our lovely neighbours are new parents to a beautiful baby girl 'Miller Jean'. We wanted to do something special for them. Upon hearing Millie's mum was craving chocolate we though uh-huh, we know just the dessert to make for these two gorgeous parents. On Saturday afternoon we visited surprising them with our Citrus and Chocolate surprise and a copy of movie 'Chocolat'.

'Citrus and Chocolate Surprise with Roasted Pistachio filo cigar'
serves 4
(inspired by MKR)
To make orange curd, simmer orange juice in a medium saucepan until reduced by half. Remove from heat. Add sugar, butter, lemon juice, cornflour and orange blossom water. Whisk to combine. Add egg yolks. Whisk to combine. Stir over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until thickened. Strain into a shallow bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour or until set *Don't over refrigerate curd as it will become too hard and this will will make it difficult when plating up!
Crush the biscuits by using a food processor or by placing into a freezer bag and banging with rolling pin. Place aside.

Weigh and chop up all chocolate that is to be used and set aside in their portions.

 To make mousse, beat egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar dissolves and mixture is soft and glossy. Set aside.
 Beat cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Stir chocolate, butter and zest in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth and combined. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. 
Stir in yolk. Fold in cream. Fold in egg white mixture in two batches. Fold in liqueur. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until partially set.  
 To make ganache, heat cream, cardamom and zest in a medium saucepan until hot. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Stand 2 minutes. Stir until smooth and combined. Divide among four serving glasses (300ml-capacity). Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set. 

Meanwhile, to make candied orange peel, line a small tray with baking paper.
Thinly peel orange using a vegetable peeler, then cut into a fine julienne (alternatively, you could use a citrus zester, which is what we did, and it worked a treat). Cook in a small saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain.
Stir sugar, water and syrup in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add peel. Bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes until peel is translucent. Strain. Place candied peel in a single layer on prepared tray until required (as above). Reserve syrup for another use as below (eg. Pancakes, waffles, ice-cream)

To make cigars, preheat oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Roast pistachios for approx 5-10 mins. Process pistachios in a small food processor until crushed, or if you don't have a food processor place pistachios into freezer bag and bash with rolling pin (as we did). Place in a bowl with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside 1 teaspoon of the mixture, to sprinkle over top of cigars later.

Combine melted butter and zest in a small bowl.Cut filo sheet into quarters. Brush with butter zest mixture. Sprinkle pistachio mixture along one short edge of each filo quarter. Roll into a cigar shape, brushing the outside with butter as you roll.

 Place on prepared tray. Sprinkle with reserved pistachio mixture. Bake for 10 minutes until golden and crisp 
Curd and Mousse set and ready to plate up with ganache
To assemble, spoon in ganache, then sprinkle half the crushed biscuits over the ganache in the serving glasses. Spoon over a 1/2cm layer of the curd then top with remaining biscuit crumbs and finally the mousse. Decorate with candied peel. Serve with cigars.


16 Chocolate Ripple biscuits, crushed

Orange curd

150ml fresh orange juice
150g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp orange blossom water *optional (we skipped this)

3 egg yolks

Chocolate cardamom ganache

200ml thickened cream
pinch ground cardamom
Finely grated zest of 1/4 an orange

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped


3 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar (you do not need this - we didn't use it)
1 tbs caster sugar
225ml thickened cream 
125g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
25g unsalted butter, chopped
Finely grated zest of 1/4 an orange
1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tbs orange liqueur *optional (we skipped this part)

Candied orange peel

1 large orange
100g sugar
100ml water

2 tsp glucose syrup


50g roasted pistachios
25g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
40g butter, melted
Finely grated zest of 1/4 orange
1 sheet filo pastry 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Banana and Walnut cake / Sweet Mondays 'stressed is desserts spelled backwards'

We are huge lovers of Banana and Walnut cake. Perfect with a pot of tea on a stormy afternoon! Our recipe is incredibly moist and flavoursome - you will be lured into having another slice...

Banana and Walnut cake

Sift flour and bicarbonate soda

chop up butter and allow to soften

cream the butter and sugar together - quick tip - place over stove and start mixing together. Once soft and easier to mix together, remove from flame and continue to cream until light and fluffy as above.

Add vanilla bean paste and 1 tsp vanilla essence to mixture and mix as above

Beat eggs and add to mixture gradually until combined as below

mash bananas and add to mixture 

chop walnuts and add to mixture and combine as above
add your mixture to flour folding gently to combine as below

Mixture now ready to be poured into tin

Grease tin with butter and line with paper
Pour mixture into tin and place into preheated oven 180 degrees
Bake for 1 hour or until golden and cooked
*check cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into center
if it comes out dry and hot it's ready
Stand for 10 mins then transfer to rack and allow to cool


125g Butter chopped softened butter
(and extra for greasing tin)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
100 ml milk
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicken Brodo / Stocks and Soups

Our version of an Italian favourite. This dish is constantly simmering on the stove in many Italian homes. It is said that Italian Mothers or Nonnas make this for their children if they have exams, or are feeling unwell or anxious about something. This most certainly is comfort food - light with beautiful flavour. We love cooking this dish especially during Autumn and Winter -  it is, and forever more a tradition in our kitchen and our family when we have children. The great thing about our dish is that you have three dishes in one. From this you can create a chicken stock to be used in any dish that requires stock, chicken brodo with pastina (the best wholesome chicken noodle soup you will ever have), and you can use remaining flavoursome chicken to make delicious sandwiches or add to a pasta. So take the time to cook this and store however you so wish. Stock will last 4-5 days refrigerated or a few months in the freezer (be sure to store in portion sizes). If you make chicken brodo with pastina and chicken, you can refrigerate for up to a few days, or again freeze portions for a few months.

'Our Chicken Brodo'

Roughly chop 1 large or 2 small carrots, 1 large onion, 2 celery stems (including some leaves), 4-6 parsley sprigs. Add ingredients to large stock pot with whole chicken and 2 bay leaves. Fill with cold water to cover ingredients. Bring to boil, remove scum with slotted spoon add salt and pepper, reduce to a simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Make sure water level is always above ingredients - any time you add water, taste and season accordingly. We added water three times and added salt and pepper each time. This works for us.

Once 2 hrs has passed, strain the liquid through colander into a bowl. Remove the chicken and place aside to cool a little. Remove the vegetables and discard. Break away chicken from carcass, remove skin, and slice chicken as above.

 Divide stock liquid - reserve the liquid you want to use as stock by placing portions into storage containers. Allow to cool and then refrigerate or freeze. The liquid you want to use to make chicken brodo with pastina, place back into pot, add your desired amount of pastina (we used pastina and macaroni), and cook until pasta al dente (about 6-8 minutes for 'little' pasta). Once pasta almost done, add some shredded chicken and stir through to warm.

Remember to taste and make sure your dish is seasoned well! You're done, now you can serve.

Any leftover chicken can be used for sandwiches or a sauce with pasta.


1 whole chicken
1 large or 2 small carrots roughly chopped
1 large onion roughly chopped
2 celery stems roughly chopped
a few celery leaves roughly chopped
4-6 parsley stems
2 bay leaves
start off with 1 tbsp sea salt and add more accordingly
start off with 1 large pinch ground black peppercorns
and add more accordingly
cold water to cover ingredients and top up accordingly
pastina pasta as much as you like
*we use about 125g pastina and 125g macaroni


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Baked Bread / Baking

'Home Baked Bread'

Have everything measured and ready to go

 Make a well in centre of flour and add sugar, salt, yeast.

 Add half of the tepid water and mix gently with a fork bringing flour from side into the centre. Once your mixture resembles porridge consistency then you are able to use your hands (dust them in flour first this will help your hands to be less sticky) and add rest of water gradually as you mix. Expect your hands to get a little sticky though! Your flour may need more or less water, so adjust where necessary. Pat and push the together with remaining flour.

Remove dough from bowl onto clean work bench and 'push, fold, slap and roll the dough around time and time again for about 5 mins (I can't begin to tell you how therapeutic this is!) - until your dough is soft, silky and elastic as above. Dust flour over top.

Place dough into large bowl and cover with two tea towels or cling wrap and tea towel and place in a dry warm area to rest for 1 1/2 hours. Dough will double in size.

After 1 1/2 hours dough will be elastic as above -remove from bowl, and knock the air out of it for 30 seconds by punching, bashing and squashing (great therapy). Place on floured baking tray and shape dough. Cover with tea towel and leave to rest for another 30 mins.

After 30 mins. remove tea towel to see dough. Dough should again, have doubled in size. Feel free to add some scoring to the dough creating your own patterns with a sharp knife. Place into preheated oven - 200 degrees. Place on top shelf and place a stainless steel bowl of water on the bottom of oven to create moisture while the bread bakes. Bake for ten minutes and then turn temperature down to 180 degrees and bake for a further 30-45 mins (depends on the oven you are using). To test if bread is ready, tap the bottom of the bread - it will sound hollow and the bread will be lovely and golden.

Take bread out of oven, admire, smell and allow bread to cool before cutting.

Homemade bread cooked with love is so much better! Give it a go X.


1 kg strong premium bakers flour
2 tbsp of caster sugar
1 level tbsp sea salt
625 mls tepid water 
(2 parts cold to 1 part boiled)
21g dried yeast
extra flour for dusting


Friday, March 9, 2012

Pita with Buffalo / Quick Snacks

This is a great after work or weekend snack for when friends call in unexpectedly! A visually appealing dish, with wonderful textures and flavours. A great accompaniment to your favourite movie, or a round the table chat with friends or loved ones. 

Noshy Pita with buffalo


1-2 large wholemeal Pita bread
*if using 2 then double the amount of ingredients
2 cloves roughly chopped garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano 
1 tbsp dried ground sweet paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried ground chilli (mild)
1 tbsp dried ground sun-dried tomato
1 tbsp fresh parsley
2 mozzarella balls
 sliced and placed sporadically
1/2 lemon
drizzle olive oil

Preheat oven 200 degrees
Line a large flat baking tray with pita bread/s
drizzle olive oil olive oil over pita bread
add your spices over pita bread
add chopped garlic cloves
add fresh mozzarella slices sporadically over bread
sprinkle with fresh parsley
drizzle with lemon juice
drizzle with another splash of olive oil

Place into oven for 10 minutes - or when cheese has melted and pita has browned with a crunch!


Sweet Potato chips / Quick snacks

Quick snack? Try our sweet potato chips. Using a potato slicer very thinly slice sweet potato slices, lay out evenly in baking tray (making sure to not overlap), drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, season with good quality salt and fresh rosemary! Bake until sides start to curl and crispy. YUM

Sweet potato chips


Sage and Anchovy Fritters / Quick snacks

A favourite snack for the Italians and for us! These little darlings are so flavoursome and simply - divine. Great to serve at a dinner party or as we did - with each other. Left over batter can be used to coat other vegetables, zucchini flowers, or fish.

Sage and Anchovy Fritters

Beer Batter


100g Flour
190 ml Beer
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder

Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into bowl
Add beer and whisk until smooth
Cover with glad wrap and rest for 30 mins in refrigerator

Sage and Anchovy Fritters


anchovy fillets halved lengthways
sage leaves 
(double the amount of halved anchovy fillets)
vegetable oil for deep frying
sea salt
lemon wedges to squeeze over and serve

Take an anchovy piece and sandwich between two sage leaves, pressing gently together.
Repeat this process until complete.

Place oil into hot fryer, deep frying pan or wok. Depth of oil should be at least 2 inches in the centre. Heat on high heat until hot - a drop of stale bread should turn golden in a few seconds, and this is the temp you want. 

Dip sage leaves into batter, let the excess batter drain off, and remember to keep some of the sage stalk free of batter so you can easily lift in and out of oil. Place fritters into hot oil and turn  once to ensure both sides are golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Drizzle fritters with lemon and serve on a hot plate with lemon wedge

*If cooking larger amounts for dinner party don't forget to heat up baking tray for serving fritters

Julie & Julia / Featured Weekend Movie

We are huge lovers of Julia Child and her incredible french cook books! We have all of them in our home to take out occasionally...totally spoiling ourselves silly, with her wonderful rich flavours. Julia Child's recipes make our hearts sing! If you love France, french cooking and the blogging world, then hire this movie over the weekend. A favourite movie of ours X.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fig Filo Tart / Sweet Mondays 'Stressed is desserts spelled backwards'

We love Autumn and creating any dish that includes figs for their rustic colour and wonderful texture.
This Fresh fig tart is incredibly easy to make, and every mouthful enjoyable with the crunch of the filo and pistachio, creaminess of the custard and cream and luxurious sweetness of the fig and honey.
Mondays are much more enjoyable, when you have this to look forward to! Don't you think so?

'Autumn Fig Filo Tart'
serves 8-10


6 sheets filo pastry (thawed if frozen)
50g butter melted to brush each filo sheet
and to grease your tin
10 figs cut into wedges
75g plain flour
85g caster sugar
4 eggs
450 ml creamy milk
2 tsp almond extract (or essence)
icing sugar for dusting
honey to drizzle over figs
pistachio nuts and double cream to serve

Preheat oven to 190 degrees
Grease your tin with butter
Brush each filo sheet with melted butter (do this quickly so pastry doesn't crack)
Line your tin with your filo sheets one at a time
Trim excess with scissors, leaving some filo overhanging the edge
Place fig wedges in tin skin down on filo
Sift flour into bowl and add caster sugar
Add the eggs and gradually add milk whisking until smooth (you may not need all of your milk)
Add almond extract or essence to mixture and stir
Pour mixture evenly over figs
Place into oven for approx 1 hour. You want the batter to set and the pastry to be golden
Remove your tart from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes
Drizzle with honey and dust with generous amount icing sugar
Serve with double cream and crushed pistachios 


Friday, March 2, 2012

Mediterranean Flavours / Greece

Most recently Melbourne celebrated Greek culture by hosting a festival in our city. This dish brings together some of the wonderful flavours we love from Greek cuisine.

'Flavours from our Mediterranean kitchen'
serves 4


600g lamb or beef mince
3 large red and green capsicums
2-3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 3mm-4mm
1 eggplant
2 large mushrooms
1/2 large brown onion or 1 small
2-3 cloves garlic
100 ml white wine
200ml Good quality vegetable stock
*if you don't have time to make your own,
then we suggest Maggie Beers Vegetable stock
3 TBS olive oil 
1 TSP mild organic chilli paste (we use 1 TBS)
1 TBS tomato paste
160 ml pasatta or 1 can of diced tomatoes
1-2 heaped TSP oregano fresh from your garden or market
1 heaped TBS parsley fresh from your garden or market
cracked black pepper

For the tzatziki;
1/4 cucumber finely sliced lengthways and then diced
170g Greek yoghurt
1/2 lemon (juice)

Brush capsicums with 1 tbs olive oil, season with salt and cracked pepper, and place into preheated oven 230 - 240 degrees. Roast until skin blisters and blackens.
Peel and thinly slice potatoes 3mm - 4mm and place into small baking tray, cover in vegetable stock liquid and place in oven for 10-5 mins. The potatoes should be tender but still firm enough to not turn mushy and break later when you add them to the mince sauce.
Begin your chopping.
Finely dice cucumber, place into bowl with yoghurt, add squeeze of lemon juice, mix, cover with cling wrap and place in refrigerator.
Slice rounds from eggplant then cut rounds into halves. Place the eggplant pieces into colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20 minutes.
Slice mushroom and put aside.
Finely dice garlic cloves and onion and place aside.
Once capsicums ready remove from oven, place in bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.
Once potatoes ready remove from oven, place clean tea towel over dish and place aside.
Begin cooking your sauce - In a pot (we use Le Creuset, expensive but well worth it!), sweat onion and garlic over low-medium heat. Onion should cook without colour as per photo. Add mince and turn up heat to med-high, breaking up the mince and mixing through onion and garlic. Once mince starts to turn brown from pink add white wine and remaining vegetable stock liquid from potatoes, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. 
Bring sauce to a simmering temperature.
Add pinch pepper and taste. If you need more seasoning then add it.
Wash eggplants to remove salt, pat dry with absorbent paper.
Add tomato paste and chilli paste to mince and stir through.
Add eggplant to mince sauce and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Add passata or diced tomatoes, and mushrooms to sauce, stir though and turn to low heat.
Take capsicum from refrigerator, peel and remove skin and seeds as per photo. Add capsicum to blender and hit the pulse button 1 or 2 times. You want the capsicum chunky, not pureed. Once complete, place into sauce with oregano and parsley and potato. Stir through to warm potato and serve.

Serve with Tzatziki and some crusty bread.


*this dish is also great the next day