Monday, July 21, 2014

coq au vin pie

Winter has arrived in Sydney. As I'm typing this there is a lamb, rosemary and white bean casserole in the oven and a pot of rice pudding on the stove.Today though it's pie day and a coq au vin pie to be exact.

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I've never managed to successfully make puff pastry so if I need it, I always buy it. When I've tried to make it in the past, it's been a bit of a disaster with butter leaking from the pastry and ending up all over the kitchen bench. Thankfully this recipe for coq au vin pie from Delicious magazine uses sour cream shortcrust pastry and that I do know how to make.

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The sour cream pastry recipe I use is adapted from a Maggie Beer recipe. It's put together really quickly and takes much less time to make than it would have taken me to walk up to the shops at Bondi Junction to buy a packet. I put a third of the pastry aside and I decided to make a few book folds in it in an effort to get an even flakier top crust. As it's been so cold here in Sydney I didn't have a problem with the butter leaking everywhere. It stayed exactly where it was supposed to stay, right inside the pastry.

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The recipe calls for a 20 cm springform pan, which I don't possess so I decided to make 2 small pies instead. I had a little bit of the chicken mixture leftover, enough to make a single serve pot pie.

Here's the recipe from July 2014 Delicious Magazine with my sour cream shortcrust pastry recipe, in case you'd like to make your own. The pie serves 4-6 people.

Coq au Vin Pie
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
6 chicken thigh fillets, cut into pieces
2½ tbs plain flour
2 bacon rashers, chopped
1 each carrot, onion and celery stalk, roughly chopped
150g button mushrooms, halved
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
⅔ cup (165ml) chicken stock
1½ cups (375ml) red wine
445g shortcrust pastry (Careme Sour Cream Shortcrust Pastry or use the pastry recipe below)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Sour Cream Pastry
250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
175 g cold unsalted butter, diced
125 ml lite sour cream

Sift the flour with the salt. Place in a food processor. Add the diced butter and process until the butter is pea sized. Add the sour cream and process for about 30 seconds to a minute. The mixture won’t have come together. Remove the mixture from the food processor and gently work a few times on a floured surface until it just comes together to form a ball. Wrap the pastry in plastic and rest in the fridge until needed.

Grease and line the base of a 20cm springform pan.

Heat 1 tbs oil in a deep frypan over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook, turning, for 3-4 minutes until golden, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with another 1 tbs oil and remaining chicken. Toss the chicken in the flour.

Wipe the pan clean, then heat remaining 1 tbs oil. Add bacon and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly crisp. Add the carrot, the onion, celery, mushroom and thyme, then cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add the stock and wine and then return the chicken to the pan with any remaining flour. Season and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes or until thickened. Set filling aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Roll out the pastry to 4mm thick. Use two-thirds of the pastry to line the base and sides of the pan, then add filling. Top with remaining pastry, seal edge with a fork and remove and discard excess pastry. Brush the top with egg and cut a small cross in the centre to allow steam to escape during cooking. Place on a baking tray and bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Cool for 10 minutes, and then serve.

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The pie is very tasty. I did make a few changes to the recipe though. I marinated the chicken thigh pieces overnight in the red wine and as I don't eat bacon I left that out. I added a bay leaf but next time I'd add some garlic to the chicken filling as well just to bump up the flavour a little more. I froze one of the pies so I still have one to look forward to in the coming weeks.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend. I spent mine quietly at home still reeling from the news of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight with the loss of all on board. 

Last week was not a good week,


Monday, July 14, 2014

little rhubarb and ginger puddings with caramel sauce

Hi Every-one,

well it took a while but the cold weather has finally made it's way to Sydney. My cooking style changes when the temperature drops. No more stir fries for me, it's all about comfort food like casseroles, pies, soups and puddings.

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I've been dying to try out this recipe for a while and last weekend, the time came. It's just my upside down pear and hazelnut cake recipe tweaked a little and baked in ramekins served with some caramel sauce. The sauce is a Belinda Jeffery recipe which I found here.

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Do you like the little copper saucepan? I bought it at a flea market in Brussels and it came home in my backpack carefully wrapped in a towel. It needed a fair amount of cleaning before it was food safe but it was worth it in the end.

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Here's the recipe for you.

Little Rhubarb and Ginger cake with Caramel Sauce (makes four 200ml ramekins or six 150 ml ramekins)

1¼ cups diced chopped rhubarb stalks
1 (20 ml) tablespoon orange juice
1 cup plain flour
¼ cup almond meal
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
100 g (3½ oz) melted, unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
35 g (2 tbs) finely chopped glace or crystallised ginger
¼ cup milk or orange juice

Caramel Sauce
150g brown sugar 
120ml cream 
140g butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and flour four 200 ml or six 150 ml ramekins.

Combine the rhubarb and the orange juice in a small bowl. Set to one side for 20 minutes.

Sift the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a small bowl. Stir the almond meal through the flour and set to one side. In a medium size bowl combine the melted butter, the sugars and vanilla. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the flour and gently fold in the diced rhubarb and juice and the finely chopped ginger. This should make a soft batter. If not then add the additional milk or orange juice.

Spoon the batter carefully into the prepared moulds and smooth the tops. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and place on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180°C/350°F or until the cake are cooked when tested with a skewer. If the cakes are browning too quickly you may have to cover the top with a piece of greaseproof paper.

While the cakes are baking, make the caramel sauce. Put all sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until smooth and then boil for three minutes. Keep warm.

Place the ramekins on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the moulds and carefully invert the cakes. If the cakes are peaked, you may need to trim the tops so they'll sit flat on the plate.

Serve topped with caramel sauce, a dollop of cream and if you like, some poached rhubarb. 

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The caramel sauce just makes everything taste wonderful so the puddings were delicious!

See you all again next week,


P.S The latest Delicious Bites post, Strawberry Pavlova recipe, is now up on the decor8 blog if you're in the mood for something for summer.

Monday, July 07, 2014


It was a chilly weekend in Sydney so instead of racing around like a rabbit I spent Sunday at home working on my tax. It's not a fun way to spend a Sunday but a necessary evil. In between hunting down receipts and doing lots of addition and subtraction I put together some images from my time in Zurich.

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Zurich was the last stop on my holiday and was going through a bit of a heat wave. I was in town to catch up with friends both old and new and the day I arrived I went for a wander around town.

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During my wander I passed through the Lindenhof. 

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I found these young men engrossed in a chess battle.

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I've been to Zurich before but I'd not been inside St. Peter Church, the church with the massive clock face. It was very simple but beautiful inside.

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I found these beautiful roses in the church courtyard.

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I found a few touches of blue.

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Including these pots of hydrangeas also known as hortensia.

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Even though it was hot there were lots of cooling fountains dotted around the town. The next day I was up bright and early because it was a special day.

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I went out early with my camera to escape the heat of the day.

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I'd not been to the Grossmunster before.

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I went for a walk around the lake before we took a trip to the mountains.

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We went to Flumserberg for lunch and a walk accompanied by the gentle sound of cowbells.

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I know it's the wrong country but I had to sing a few bars of "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music" when I saw the view.

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We went up to Flumserberg in the gondola but came down on the Floomzer. I'm not sure it was such a great idea just after lunch but we made it down in one piece.

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As it was such a hot day we stopped for ice cream at Walansee and yes it does look exactly like this. 

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On my second day in Zurich, I visited the Kunsthaus and was impressed by it's art collection.

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The lovely Cafe Schober where I met my blog friend Juliana for a citron 
pressé before returning to Sydney. I'll share some more black and white images with you in the next week or two.

I hope you all had lovely weekends. 

See you next week,


Thursday, July 03, 2014

a few black and white images

Hi Every-one,

this post is going to be short and sweet. Between work and home, this past week has been very busy and I've just realised I'll be working a 5 day week for the first time in close to 2 months. I shall be tired by tomorrow night. So before I take myself off to bed, I thought I'd share a few black and white film images with you.

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My new sofa was delivered last Friday and while I was waiting for the furniture removalists to arrive, I edited the rolls of film which had just returned from the lab. Black and white film images don't come back from the lab ready to share. Dust and scratches need to be removed; contrast and exposure need to be tweaked; some areas need to be lightened whilst other areas need to be darkened. 

This used to be done during the printing stage in a wet lab, but these days I don't print at home so I edit the film digitally. It's still time consuming but without all the nasty chemical fumes. 

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I only took 2 rolls of film with me and often the day I spied something to photograph in black and white, would be the day I'd left the film camera at home. I made sure to save plenty of film for Paris though, which is a dream to photograph in black and white.

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I choose my subjects carefully when shooting in black and white. I tend to look for sculptural forms and interesting lines and angles.

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I finished off the last roll in Zurich. Zurich was going through a hot spell so I wandered around the Old Town very early one morning and photographed this fountain. You'll see the fountain again soon in all it's pastel glory.

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And the final image for you from Paris, taken from the rooftop of the Printemps department store.

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I hope you like this little black and white teaser.

See you all again next week.


Monday, June 30, 2014

lemon rosemary bundt cake

I subscribe to Delicious magazine and have for a long time. The recipes are usually easy to follow and don't demand a trip to the shop to source some hard to find ingredient. When the July issue arrived I spied a Jamie Oliver magazine recipe for little lemon cakes topped with a lemon and rosemary syrup. I love my own lemon cake recipe and I'm always a little disappointed when I try another one but but I wondered how it would pair with the lemon and rosemary syrup.

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The only way to find out was to try it, so that's what I did.

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Whenever I go away on holidays I put all my plants in the bath tub. Most survive but I find my herbs usually don't. Unfortunately my rosemary bush is looking a little worse for wear and I don't think it's going to survive. Here's how it looked before I went away for 5 weeks. I won't show you the after photo because it's looking a bit sad.

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The cake in all it's glory topped with the lemon and rosemary syrup.

Here's the recipe for you. The cake recipe is all mine, the syrup from Delicious magazine. This makes a small bundt cake. If you'd like to make a larger version double all the cake and syrup ingredients except for the eggs. You'll need 3 of those but keep the quantity of lemon juice and yoghurt about the same. The cooking time will stay the same.

Lemon and rosemary bundt cake
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened 
100g (3½ oz) caster sugar 
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 egg
¾ cup self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup almond meal
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup plain yoghurt

Grease and flour a small bundt tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and mix together with the almond meal. Set to one side.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, lemon rind and caster sugar.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg then gradually mix into butter mixture. If the mixture starts to look curdled, add a spoonful of the flour mixture.

Add the remaining flour mixture into the batter alternating with the lemon juice and yoghurt to make a soft batter. If the batter looks too thick add a little more juice.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake the cake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes until the top is lightly golden and cake is cooked when tested with a skewer.

Leave the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack.

Pour over the lemon and rosemary syrup.

Lemon and rosemary syrup
1 lemon
I rosemary sprig
⅓ cup caster sugar
2 tble water
Optional - extra rosemary leaves/toasted flaked almonds

Peel the lemon and finely shred the peel. Juice the lemon and set the juice to one side.
In a small pan bring water to the boil, and then cook the peel for 1 minute.
Drain the peel and rinse.
Return the lemon rind to the pan with the juice, the rosemary sprigs, the sugar, and the water.
Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer until the syrup is reduced by half.
Remove the rosemary sprigs from the syrup then pour the syrup over the cooled cake.
If desired, decorate the cake with fresh rosemary leaves and some toasted flaked almonds.

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I took this into work for morning tea last week and it was very well received but then again they'd not had any baking for the past 6 weeks so maybe they were just hungry.

See you all again later in the week with some more travel photos.

Bye for now,


Thursday, June 26, 2014

paris part IV - the markets

Wherever I travel I like to live like a local as much as I can. I catch public transport; visit grocery stores and markets and this time I chose to rent apartments in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London and Paris. It was so nice having my own little space to come home to and best of all, I avoided the dreaded visit to the laundromat, watching my washing spinning around and around.

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With my own little Paris kitchen I wouldn't say I did much cooking but I did go shopping every day, just like a local.

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came home with roast chicken, a baguette, cheese, my daily pastry from the local patisserie, salad leaves and berries. This beauty came from Liberté and it was sublime.

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visited the Marche d'Aligre for the first time and revisited one of my old favourites, the Marche BastilleLook at what I found - a kaleidoscope of colour and taste and shopping at the market was so much more fun than shopping at my local supermarket.

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It was white asparagus season when I was in Paris so they were in abundance as were melons and strawberries. I may not have indulged in the asparagus but I certainly came home with a few melons and punnets of strawberries and raspberries. My French may not be very good but when the need arises, I know how to get what I want!

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How magnificent is this display of blooms?

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This lady with her humble bunches of flowers broke my heart. She didn't get many takers.

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See you all again next week with some images from my time in Zurich and a spot of baking. My black and white film scans have just returned from the lab and once they're edited, I'll share some of those images with you as well.

Bye for now, 


Monday, June 23, 2014

ostkaka - swedish cheesecake

Now that I'm back home in Sydney, summer is over and I've returned to some cooler weather. When the temperature drops, I start hankering for soups, casseroles, puddings and pies. I saw some pictures of Ostkaka on a blog and was intrigued, so I tracked down a recipe. It's a Swedish pudding which is a cross between a baked custard and a cheesecake and as I like both of those things, I decided to give it a try. 

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Have you heard of Ostkaka 'cos a week or so ago I'd not heard of it either. It's normally served with berries but as I had some rhubarb and strawberry compote in the fridge, I decided to top the ostkaka with that.

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My main inspiration came from this blogI'm not a huge fan of cottage cheese, the main ingredient of ostkaka, and I wasn't in the mood to make my own curd cheese from scratch so I decided to swap some of the cottage cheese for ricotta cheese.

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In a piece of serendipity, the serving plate I used was an antique Swedish one I bought when I was in Copenhagen and carefully carried all the way home.

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Here's the recipe for you. You'll need to drain the cheese the night before you make the Ostkaka.

2 eggs
2½ tbl flour
3 tbl caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
30 g (1oz) almond meal
30 g (1 oz) toasted flaked almonds, finely chopped
½ cup milk and ½ cup cream, mixed together
500 g low fat ricotta cheese/cottage cheese drained in a sieve overnight

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF
Butter a 20cm/8 inch round pan
Whisk the eggs, the flour, the sugar and the vanilla together.
Combine the almond meal and chopped almonds.
Stir in a third of the almonds, a third of the milk and a third of the cheese mixture into the egg mixture. Continue adding the remaining ingredients in thirds. (The batter is quite lumpy so I gave it a bit of a whizz with the stick blender to smooth the batter a little).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven 180ºC/350ºF for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cake has puffed and is brown on the top.
Serve warm with rhubarb compote, berries or lingonberry jam and cream.

Serves 4 very generously.

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The pudding is not very sweet and almost rice pudding like in taste and texture. Next time I would double the vanilla extract and maybe use a touch more sugar as my rhubarb compote was nowhere near as sweet as jam would be. Or then again perhaps I could open that jar of lingonberry jam that's lurking in my cupboard.

See you all again soon,