Friday, August 31, 2012

Raspberry and Lemon Muffins

Another yummy muffin recipe I have made recently was this one. Last week when I dropped my daughter to her class I saw this notice on the whiteboard. 

"Mum's Morning Tea 10:00am Wednesday"

That day! Somehow I hadn't noticed this on the days previous. Oh no!

I guess I could have just popped down to the local IGA and bought a packet of biscuits, but honestly, that just didn't occur to me. I just asked myself, what was the quickest thing I knew how to make. Muffins! I raced home and whipped up this quick recipe. They were on the morning tea table at school just minutes after coming out of the oven. Perfect.

I'll be honest, the kids did not love them, but the mums did. Loved them! With high praise for my muffins and high praise for my daughters schoolwork, it turned out to be a very unexpected and pleasant morning. 

Raspberry and Lemon Muffins 

makes 16 - 20 muffins

• 275 grams plain flour
• 100 grams caster sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• a pinch of salt
• 210 ml milk
• 1 egg (lightly beaten)
• 75 grams butter (melted)
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 150 grams raspberries or blueberries
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest (finely chopped)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Grease and flour two 12 hole muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl or jug, mix together the milk, egg, melted butter and lemon juice with a whisk, until well combined. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and  stir gently to combine. Add the berries and lemon zest, halfway through mixing. Do not over mix. The mixture will be a bit lumpy. Use a tablespoon to put into muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Making Muffins

Every toddler or baby cookbook I've ever picked up was filled with muffin recipes. During those early years of motherhood I must have tried millions of new muffin recipes.

My kids never ate them.

Happily, my muffins were a welcomed gift at any playgroup that we attended, so I guess it was not a complete waste. Not long ago, my cousin told me how she was making muffin's every other day. With the exception of blueberry muffins, I hadn't cooked muffins for ages.

I dug out an old folder of some tried and tested recipes. They were an instant hit with my, now school aged, children.

And so it is, that we have returned to making muffins in this house - almost every other day!

Here are two recipes that we have been making over the last month, in our house yoghurt and strawberries have been plentiful.

Berry, Yoghurt and White Chocolate Muffins 


makes 16-20

• 1 1/2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
• 1/2 cup caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 2 eggs (lightly beaten) 
• 1 cup yoghurt
• 1 cup mixed berries
• 100 grams white chocolate (roughly chopped)

• icing sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and flour two 12 hole muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and the sugar. In a small bowl or jug, mix together the oil, eggs and yoghurt with a whisk, until well combined. Pour the yoghurt mixture over the dry ingredients and  stir gently to combine. Add the berries and chocolate, halfway through mixing. Do not over mix. The mixture will be a bit lumpy. Use a tablespoon to put into muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. 

Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Strawberry and Buttermilk Muffins

makes about 24

• 380 grams plain flour
• 150 grams caster sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
• pinch of salt
• 150 grams butter (melted)
• 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
• 300 ml buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 1/2 cup strawberries (roughly chopped)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Grease and flour two 12 hole muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt. In a small bowl or jug, mix together the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla with a whisk, until well combined. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and  stir gently to combine. Add the strawberries halfway through mixing. Do not over mix. The mixture will be a bit lumpy. Use a tablespoon to put into muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. 

Editors note: I have updated this recipe (5-10-12) changing the cooking temperature and time for a much better result. Enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's time for healthy eating

After a few weeks of over eating and indulgence, it is no wonder that this book practically jumped into my hands at the library this morning. I wasn't looking for it, it was just there. This is definitely the type of food that I need to be eating over the coming weeks. Fresh, simple, raw and in moderation.

No more coffee, cake (maybe just a little) red meat, cheese, bread, chocolate, fried food or wine (ok, maybe just a little bit of that too)

As I look back at the food we ate on our holiday, one thing stays with me. The food tasted delicious because, mostly, it was seasonal, local and cooked with care. Simple, old fashioned techniques, slow and unpretentious. Perfect.

It is the lesson to be learned here. I already know this about food, but often I am in a rush to get dinner on the table and kids off to bed. But I intend to make much more of an effort in the future, because really shouldn't we be 'eating like kings' everyday?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More glorious food

(this image of Pearl Cafe is from here)

Pearl Cafe is our favourite restaurant in Brisbane. After some time in Northern New South Wales, my husband and I went to Brisbane for one night. We had pre-booked a dinner reservation and had been looking forward to dinner here for months. However, after eating this huge lunch at Liliana's we cancelled dinner and went instead for breakfast.

We slept in and took our time the following morning, with a quick cup of tea at our motel and some antique shopping beforehand, we arrived at Pearl Cafe at about 10:00am. The place was packed and we waited almost an hour to get a seat.  

Was it worth it you ask? YES!

Have I mentioned already, that we have eaten the best food ever on this trip?

My husband ordered a 'ploughman's breakfast', something he had seen someone else eating as we were seated at our table. Simple but WOW! A baguette, a dollop of onion confit, a soft boiled duck egg sitting on a scrapping of djion mustard, the most divine aged cheddar cheese I have ever tasted (ever!) and the 'piece de resistance', the beef.

House salted beef was the description. Have I already said WOW! It took all my strength, not to get up and storm into the kitchen demanding the recipe.

What cut of beef was that? (maybe brisket) What ingredients were used? (there was definitely star anise in there somewhere) What technique was used to get this amazing, delicious, falling apart, melt in your mouth, best meat I've ever eaten, house salted beef?

I guess I'll never know, with restraint, I stayed seated. But if I find out, you will be the first to know.

I chose the 'eggs in a pan' with thyme, cream and wild mushrooms, served with rye toast.  

Oh my, the flavour! You couldn't believe the depth of flavour from those wild mushrooms. YUM. Both my husband and I commented that the last time we had tasted a mushroom dish that good was in Italy. That was a very long time ago and a lot of mushrooms have been eaten since then!

(sorry there was really bad light in the chinese restaurant)

With no need for lunch, we drove the 2 hours home, collected our children from Grandma and Grandpa's house and went straight out to dinner with my Dad for his birthday. A Chinese banquet for 10 at our friendly local Chinese restaurant. The typical Chinese fare: beef in black bean sauce, mongolian lamb, chicken and almonds, fish with ginger and shallots, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, piles of spring rolls and piles of prawn crackers, fried rice and deep fried ice-cream for the kids. Traditional (Australian) Chinese restaurant dishes that never seem to disappoint, so fresh and so tasty.


Just when I was vowing never to eat again, we were invited for a play date with one of my daughters friends. The mother had said to me, that a few other mums would be coming over too, very last minute and that I was to bring nothing. We took jam drops along.

When we arrived we found the children running around outside enjoying the the large acreage property. The mum's were sitting around large cheese and antipasto platters drinking wine. This was my first ever play date with wine and cheese. Nice. While we all got to know each other a little better, our host was jumping up and down getting more platters of food. And as the sun disappeared behind the hills, she promptly vanished into the kitchen to cook sausages and homemade nuggets for the kids. Nobody was in a hurry to leave, nobody had to, nobody wanted to.

With the children happily fed, she went again into her kitchen and brought out salads and yummy leftover nuggets. Then came home made pizzas. YUM. Finally sitting still and relaxing, it was time for me to get to know this mother a little better. She told me how much she hates to cook. I didn't believe her. For her, she cooks for her kids and her kids health. I was so inspired by this mum. Cooking from scratch is easier for me, I love to cook, but imagine if you hated it?

While sitting there I also got the secret to her yummy homemade pizzas. Her homegrown tomatoes are first roasted, then marinated for a few days in garlic and olive oil. Then she purees the lot and freezes it. This sauce is then used as a base for almost everything she cooks: pizza, pasta, casseroles, and for dipping. Brilliant.

And I thought I was just going out for an hour of jam drops and tea!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Food, Glorious Food!

(this is Harvest Cafe - image from here)

There hasn't been a lot of cooking going on around here of late, but we have still been doing plenty, plenty, of eating.

My husband and I have been away, six days child free! We stayed in the hills just outside of beautiful Bangalow in Northern New South Wales. We enjoyed quirky shops and country drives, but most of all, we feasted like kings. It was four years ago when we last visited this area and yes, I remember it as pretty much the same.

Some of the best food I have eaten.

I'll tell you about it, shall I?

I think the highlight of our trip was our lunch at Harvest. We had been there a few times before but only for breakfast or coffee. This lunch blew us away. Not only was the food amazing, but the whole experience was great. The log fire was roaring and the place was abuzz, packed with people, we had a wonderful waitress that knew all about each dish on the menu and spoke knowingly about the wines. This kind of service I find is very rare, at least where I eat out. Her happy service certainly made our lunch all the more enjoyable.

My husband ate the daily special, a delicious duck curry, filled overflowing with melt in your mouth duck pieces (yes, I did taste just a little bit) the bright yellow curry was bursting with flavour and freshness. I had twice cooked caramel pork belly to die for, sticky and flavoursome. Served with fragrant rice and a Asian salad (julienned carrot, capsicum and cucumber, coriander, ginger). The meals where huge and I think value for money. Washed down with a glass of white wine, the only option for the afternoon was a siesta back at our little cottage.

I am really sorry that I did not take a photo of this meal, but we had left the camera in the car.

The newly converted old Possum Creek School, Liliana's was the place for another amazing lunch.

We had been driving past the restaurant all week and wanted to go there for lunch on our last day. After spending the morning shopping, we arrived at 1:30pm. It was a Thursday. 'Did we have a booking?' (no) We were seated up on some bar stools at a bench down one end of the verandah. We were happy with that. Once again there was a lovely vibe to the renovated restaurant, similar to Harvest. Out of the wind and in the sun, we shared a 'tasting plate' and some homemade chunky chips. Totally unexpected, the tasting plate was huge and we did not need the chips (but yes, we did eat it all!) No wine on this day, we were driving on to Brisbane, but I did have a Nana nap in the car. I am not used to eating such big meals.

Our tasting plate above: marinated olives, prosciutto, arancini, goats cheese labneh, roasted peppers, pesto, white anchovies, grilled asparagus, caper berries and house made sourdough. Not in the picture was a huge bowl of chunky chips with a bowl of aioli.

We stayed at the beautiful, beautiful, Coco's. The owner Kevin, cooks the most delicious food. Last time we stayed here, we ate way too much, so this time we choose only to have one breakfast and one three course dinner cooked for us.

We requested breakfast at 8:30. I woke (oh, glorious sleep in) at 8:29, a minute later there was a tiny knock at our door, our host, Janice was there, holding two glasses of freshly squeezed juice: orange, tangelo and grapefruit.

Our breakfast was a tasting plate. Homemade sourdough, local bacon, amazing slow roasted mushrooms and tomatoes (I'll just let you know, I hate roasted tomatoes - I could not get enough of these) avocado and a delicious layered tortilla filled with thinly sliced vegetables and so much flavour. Pure genius.

Our three course meal did not disappoint either.

I'll set the scene: (this may show my age, when I say this is the perfect night)

After a long day of shopping and exploring we sat by the fire with a glass of wine and a Scrabble game under way. Each course was delivered to our door at the ready. Our first course was a bowl of Yamba prawns and snapper tossed in a rich, but light sauce. I am going to try and reproduce this: capers, preserved lemon, finely diced tomato, finely diced leeks, butter, perhaps a little stock? - Oh soooo yummy. Served on the side with local prosciutto wrapped around asparagus and marinated olives.

Back to our Scrabble game while we waited for our second course.  A perfectly cooked sirloin steak, sweet roasted pumpkin, beetroot, onions and garlic, steamed snow peas from the garden and grilled polenta. All drizzled with an amazing red wine jus. Another huge serving, lucky for us, we enjoyed most of our meal, but were able to put some aside for the following morning's breakfast. Straight into the fridge and again, back to our game.

To end, Janice delivered a giant piece of tiramisu and bid us goodnight. We left the tiramisu sit while we recovered from what we had just eaten. Our Scrabble game finished, I admitted defeat and we tidied up the dishes. We made some espresso's and settled onto the couch by the fire. Tiramisu and a movie. Perfect. It was the yummiest tiramisu I have ever tasted.

With four farmers markets a week in their local area, Janice and Kevin source their produce locally and define there menu by what's available. When I booked our accommodation, I told them that we will eat anything except offal, and left the rest up to them. Not only was it a good rest from cooking each day, but it was also great not to have to decide what to eat. 

And what else did we eat on our travels, you ask?

• The biggest and one of the best hamburgers ever, served with yummy chunky chips at the Tumbulgum Tavern. Quiet on a weekday, we sat and looked out over the beautiful Tweed River.

• A lighter burger the next day, a fish burger with a flavour-filled Asian salad and chunky chips at Fish Heads in Bangalow.

• We were stopped in the street by the amazing smells coming from this 'hole in the wall' Balinese restaurant. We decided it was lunch time and shared a fantastic Balinese chicken curry and yummy gago gado. $20.00 for two people! I was so full I could hardly walk out of the restaurant.

• We ate brownies and coffee everywhere, here and here, but we particularly loved our coffee stop at The Bank Cafe in Lismore. It was late and we were the only customers. We drank more than one coffee and shared a deliciously gooey brownie, while reading vintage magazines (they were the only reading material on the tables) What a laugh. "What does marriage mean to men?" in 1960! Italian cuisine in 1983. Home decorating in 1979 and the best fun, "Dear Abbey!"

Tomorrow, I will tell you about what we have been eating since leaving the Northern Rivers area - yes, more eating out!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Making Homemade Yoghurt


A couple of months ago I started making our own yoghurt. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to doing it. There is no turning back now.

1. It's so easy
2. It's so yummy
3. It's so much cheaper

We sometimes go through 2 litres of yogurt per week, depending (school lunches, breakfast, yoghurt dips, curries, smoothies and baking) We buy organic, so that is $18.00 per week. Now our weekly yoghurt bill is a meagre $4.50. Sounds like good economy to me.

Getting started:

I had read many different ways to make yoghurt; some people leave it in a low oven overnight, others in a slow cooker (which I don't have), most people I read about, wrapped it in a blanket and put it in the corner of the kitchen to set. This may sound a little pedantic, but I just didn't want a large woollen blanket sitting on my kitchen bench a couple of times a week.

I like things neat and tidy. So when my cousin suggested getting a yoghurt maker from the op shop, it seemed like the way to go for me. I got my yoghurt maker for $5:00 at my local Lifeline. On the day there were 6 to choose from and I also got the container to go with it. However, having said that, always the practical one, my cousin also suggested I buy a round one litre 'Decor' container, that fits perfectly inside the yoghurt makers. This was harder to find than an op shop 'Esiyo'. I went to five shops before finding them at a large 'Big W' store. I bought two.

I didn't know it at the time, but this was a good idea, as the container that came with my yoghurt maker holds only 900 ml, so the quantity below makes too much yoghurt for the container. Now my 'Esiyo' container has taken on another life in my kitchen as a measuring jug. I alternate between the two 'Decor' containers for making my weekly batches of yoghurt.

Barambah Organics is (was?) my favourite yogurt, so I have used it as my starter. And with the absence of a house cow in my small suburban backyard, I used either this milk or this milk from local dairies to make my yoghurt.

I put my milk on the stove top and bring it up to the required 80-82 degrees. I measure out 2 tablespoons of last weeks yoghurt and put it into a bowl. I also boil my jug ready to fill my yoghurt maker.

After the milk has been heated up, then cooled down and mixed with the yoghurt, it is time to pour it into the container. Once done, take the lid off the yoghurt maker and take out the red shelf. Pour boiling water into yoghurt maker, it is to come up to the bottom line.

Put the red shelf back into the yoghurt maker, "This side up" should be written on the shelf.

Sit your container of yoghurt into the yoghurt maker and put the lid on. Move it to a part of the kitchen where it can be left undisturbed. I usually make my yoghurt at night. It is easy to keep an eye on it while either, preparing for, or cleaning up after dinner.

"Is it ready Mum?"

This picture was taken the first time I we made yoghurt. Up bright and early the kids were eager to see if it had worked (or maybe that was me?)

It looked like yoghurt.

Yes! it had set like yoghurt.

This is when I did a little 'happy yoghurt' dance. I can't tell you the excitement. My kids, naturally, thought I was crazy, but really, I was that proud of myself!

"Is it yummy?" I asked



I suggest that you put your newly set yoghurt in the fridge before you try. Warm yoghurt is not actually very nice.

A few hours after this photo was taken, the kids were enjoying our homemade yoghurt with fruit and honey in their school lunches. Making yoghurt has quickly become part of our weekly routine. The kids know that if we run out, then I need to make some more. Buying yoghurt just doesn't seem like an option anymore.

Here is my recipe. My sources for making yoghurt were from all over (as usual): "Saha", "The Real Food Companion", "A Greener Life", "Down to Earth" and this amazing person. Mrs Gooseberry's yoghurt maker tips were invaluable. Thank-you. Thank-you. xo 


makes 1 litre

• 1 litre full cream milk
• 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

Heat the milk in a saucepan over a high heat until it starts to froth at the edges, but hasn't quiet boiled. It should be heated to 80 - 82 degrees. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to 42 - 45 degrees. (This is when I boil my jug for the yoghurt maker) When the milk has cooled remove any skin that may have formed on the surface.

Put the yoghurt into a large bowl (either glass or earthenware) and add a few tablespoons of the hot milk, mix well with a whisk. Add the remaining milk and whisk again. Pour the yoghurt into a plastic container and put it into the 'yoghurt maker'. Leave in a warm place, undisturbed for at least 8 hours or overnight. The ideal temperature for this is 20 degrees and never below 15 degrees. The yoghurt should thicken. Transfer the yoghurt to the fridge where it will keep for up to a week.

To continue making yoghurt from this batch, reserve a little to make another batch within 4 days.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


On Wednesday afternoon I sat down at the computer to upload two extra photos to a prewritten post. I had written up the recipes for lemon curd, meringues, chocolate and coconut meringues and eton mess earlier that day. I had added my text and all of the pictures except for the two of the eton mess.

I was answering a question from my daughter as I pressed what 'I thought' was save. I needed to leave the computer to get something for her. But when I came back my post was GONE!

What! HOW? Deleted! Gone? How? What!!! DELETED!!

Yes, there was swearing. You see, as I tend to do, I made some of the recipes up. And yes, some of the recipes where cooked weeks ago and yes, I didn't have a clue what I did. And no (as my husband scolded) I did not back up my recipes anywhere or write down the recipe as I went along. So I'm sorry to say, you will just have to wait to see those recipes here.

It looks like I will have to make lemon curd, meringues and eton mess again.  

Oh, What a shame!

Until then, I will leave you to guess what is brewing in our kitchen.
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