Sunday, September 24, 2017

We need bigger hearts and a world with more cake

I doubt it will come as a shock that increasingly our social media feeds are really just a synopsis of all that is broken in the world.

Our phones becomes an endless scroll of our departed music idols, publicised terrorist attacks and a catalogue of human cruelness and suffering. I say publicised terrorist attack knowing full well there are many more attacks in parts of the world we will never ever hear about on the news.

We can show our social media support for programs like Go back to Where You Come From and Filthy Rich and Homeless but I doubt a re tweet ever stops you being hungry.

There is a point while wishing someone will do something about this that you work out that you are in fact someone.

This moment came for me a few of months ago during my normal commute when I saw a poster than had been defaced with a swastika. I got really angry and knew I had no option but to fix it. I have no idea why I felt so passionate about this but knew this symbol was not going to become part of my community. 

During my day I'd been planning what I could do, clean it off? Draw over it? In the end after a quick trip to officeworks, covering it up with a heart was the best option. 

We clearly just all need bigger hearts.

This is a road we can never go down again

We need bigger hearts!

So while I may not be a political genius or the most diligent human rights activist, I can make a fairly decent cake. And I'm sure every baker would agree if you are going to change the world it would be foolish to do that on an empty stomach!

Over the next 12 months I will be auctioning off a cake/baked good a month and donating the proceeds to different charities.

The cake will be Melbourne based but that doesn't stop anyone from participating as you may nominate someone else to receive your cake if you aren't local. 

To bid all you need to do is comment below with your maximum bid and this delicious cake could be yours! 

The first cake to be auctioned is my signature Great British Bake Off inspired chocolate cake covered in ganache and raspberries.  (complete with missing raspberry)

All the proceeds from this first auction will go to The Heart and Lung Transplant Trust Victoria

The Rules:
  • Bid by making a comment with your maximum bid 
  • Cake pickup/deliver is only melbourne based
  • Cake will be baked after auction and exchange time has been arranged to ensure freshness
  • Bids will be displayed in the comments below
  • Payment is via paypal

This auction will close midnight 8/10/2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Podcasts about food and eating to make you happy and hungry

There are so many wonderful podcasts about food and eating that I wanted to create a list where I could keep a track of them.

This list will be a degustation of foodie podcasts with more added over time as I discover them. Please share your favourite foodie podcasts so a place can be set for them.

Firstly some shameless self promotion but I host Refreshments Provided with my mate Carly Findlay and she would kill me if I didn't mention us! 

Our podcast is really summed up by the tagline "you can't be sure where the conversation will go but there will always be Refreshments Provided..."
Rather than talk ourselves up, this is what some of our wonderful listeners have said about us.....the money is in the mail!
"Refreshing, authentic & charming.
Just like sitting around the kitchen table with a couple of friends. Refreshments Provided is full of incite & thought provoking topics. I love that Carly & Jason can flit from the hottest shows on Netflix to reworking our thinking on disability. A joy to listen to"  - han_loo itunes 

"A comfortable catch up with good friends. It would be perfect if only I could snack on the delicious food discussed." -Jo_Aus itunes

Ingredipedia a "factual food fight podcast" hosted by Emily Naismith and Ben Birchall. They go head to head in a battle for the most interesting fact, moment in history, childhood memory or experimental recipe featuring the episode's theme ingredient. There is particular attention paid to the American civil war and the musical genius that is the La Porchetta theme song.  

The Dinner Special podcast is hosted by Gabriel Soh chats his "food heroes" - food writers, food bloggers, food photographers about their passion for food.

Olive Magazine Podcast is a glimpse into what is hot and happening in the UK food and drink scene as well as a companion to the magazine. 

The Pass "Australia's newest food podcast" has host Magdalena Roze catch up with well known chefs to discuss their favourite restaurants and food experiences.

This Melbourne based podcast hosted by Jay Clough explores the food culture of the world's most livable city. Scoff is informative, energizing and unapologetically ranty. 

Kimberly Wilson of Great British Bake Off fame hosts Food and Psych podcast chatting with guest about food and the significance or influence it plays on culture. 

With the explosion of "crack" single handedly keeping the production of the Salada alive Chat 10 Looks 3 cements it's identity as Australia's most influential food podcast. Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb pepper their chats about politics, Helen Garner and the Americans with discussions of baking and a lust for Ottolenghi. 

More and more podcasts will be added over time 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Beetroot and blood orange salad with crispy buckwheat

So much of a recipe is all about the "elements" coming together. Skills we have learnt, things we have been given, inspiration we have borrowed all converging on the plate. 

This salad is a classic example of something borrowed, gifted and stolen.

A couple of month ago I went to my second Scarf dinner (pop ups that give young people hand on experience in the hospitality industry) and experienced my first crispy buckwheat in cauliflower dish. The texture was life changing and I had to make it! 

Crispy buckwheat
  • 130g raw buckwheat
  • 25g butter
  • 10 g olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Add buckwheat to a bowl and cover with cold water
  • Soak for 30 mins
  • Drain and shake of excess water
  • In a non stick fry pan heat butter and oil over medium heat
  • Add buckwheat and stir gently as it toasts about 8 minutes
  • When buckwheat is crisp and brown add balsamic vinegar and coat grains
  • Take off heat and spread flat on a large tray to cool
I used my cast iron pot for the photo but prefer to use a non stick frypan the other times I've made it

The fermented garlic honey came from an episode of Andy and Ben Eat Australia where they visit The Fermentary in Daylesford which only encouraged my baby steps into fermenting.  The smell of the bubbling honey for any garlic lover is heaven and while I'm not a doctor, with an occasion teaspoon I've had no signs of man flu this winter. 

Garlic honey labneh
  • Place a fine sieve over a large bowl
  • Add the yogurt and cover with plastic wrap
  • Let sit in the fridge for about 24 hours
  • Place yogurt into a mixing bowl
  • Add honey and combine

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 small golden beetroot, boiled till tender and quartered
  • 1 large beetroot, boiled till tender and diced
  • 1 large candy stripe beetroot, boiled till tender and thinly sliced
  • 1 blood orange segmented The blood oranges for this post were supplied by Redbelly Citrus
  • 1 spring onion sliced on bias (diagonally)
  • 3 radishes sliced thinly
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic honey
  • 1-2 tbsp lime agrumato olive oil (or olive oil with squeeze of lime) allen key required

Spread a tsunami of labneh across a serving platter (I need a large black plate) or pretty much just put it on the plate 

Artistically arrange the golden beetroots or pretty much just put them on the plate 

Seductively drape the candy stripe beetroot or pretty much just put them on the plate

Joyfully scatter the radishes like confetti or pretty much just put them on the plate

Bestow the crimson sunset blood orange gems or pretty much just put them on the plate

Disseminate the grassy spring onions or pretty much just put them on the plate

Purposefully position the purple empire of beetroot cubes or pretty much just put them on the plate

Adorned with crisp salty jewels of buckwheat or pretty much just put them on the plate 

Delightfully drizzle with garlic honey and lime olive oil or pretty much just put them on the plate 

Find a gallery and display your work of art....Traditionally I find a table  works best.

An earlier version which is less busy and you could whip up with a tinned beetroot if you can't be arsed boiling fresh one. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Zucchini waffles and the gentrification of the zucchini fritter

A couple of weekends ago I pulled out the last of the zucchini plants as winter has definitely arrived.

I thought I should have done this a couple of weeks earlier but to my surprise I still had a couple of zucchini wilfully hanging onto their glorious summer.

May 2017

While many talk about a zucchini glut, an abundance of zucchinis should really be thought of as a privilege. Earlier this year there was a shortage of zucchinis (courgettes) in the UK sparking the #courgettecrisis. I suspect this was heavily due to it being winter and another reminder that natural champions seasonal eating.

The zucchini is a powerhouse of versatility and adds a beautiful moistness to these waffles, aka gentrified zucchini fritters.

Seriously there is nothing hipsters love more than an appliance based food item with a craft beer delivered by drone, lamington jaffle anyone?

Zucchini waffles
Ingredients - make about 2 large waffles
  • 1 medium zucchini 200g
  • 1 small red onion finely diced
  • 85g self raising flour
  • 125ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g feta, crumbled
  • 50g cheddar, crumbled 
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grate the zucchini into a bowl lined with a clean tea towel
  • Gather up the edges of the tea towel and squeeze out excess liquid
  • Add all ingredient to a mixing bowl and combine
  • Heat waffle iron and spray with oil
  • Spoon half the mix into the waffle iron  (depending on the size of your waffle maker)
  • Cook for about 6 minutes (always wise to check out your own machine's instructions)
Optional serve with poached eggs and garnish with thinly sliced red onions, basil, parsley, mint and more fetta. My secret weapon is a drizzle of agrumato a lime olive oil.
Home grown beauties

Fine dice of red onion and reserve some for garnish 

Love a good all in one recipe

You don't want to over fill it....

These are a moist waffle not dry and crisp

I took inspiration from My Year without Meat by Richard Cornish after seeing the zucchini fritter recipe. 
I recommend everyone give this book a read for more insight into where our food comes from. 

Who doesn't love egg porn???

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Chow Down to Eurovision 2017- #CelebrateDeliciously Poppy seed biscuits

добрий вечір dobryy vechir Kyiv this is Melbourne calling and I'm sorry that this year I am coming to you via the satellite. 

But firstly I must say thank you very much, it was a truly really wonderful show to be celebrating diversity for everyone (as required by law if you are Eurovision communicating via satellite) 

For the past 2 years I have been front and centre, microphone in hand on the Eurovision red carpet. This year I'm going to celebrate diversity by doing something different and going back to my Eurovision roots of the lounge room at 5am. Don't panic I will be back in the bubble next year!

While #CelebrateDiversity is a brilliant motto and Eurovision slogan there is always room to make it a little more on brand so.....#CelebrateDeliciously

Celebrate Deliciously Poppy Seed Biscuits Makes about 16-18
  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 240g plain flour
  • 25g poppy seeds
  • Cream butter and sugar till pale 
  • Add egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute
  • Add sifted flour and poppy seeds and stir with a spoon till mix forms a dough
  • Give a gentle knead to make sure it is all combined
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 30-60 mins
  • Remove from fridge and give a gentle knead
  • Roll out to about 4-5mm in thickness
  • Cut out shapes (I used a 9cm round cutter) and place on a lined baking tray
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • Cool on wire rack

Image via

When it comes to decorating this is where we will really celebrate diversity and let the imagination go wild....aka I don't think I have the skill/patience to replicate each of the beads perfectly
This is a guide to everything you'll need for the decorating rather than a step by step instructions. 

What you will need to decorate

  • Fondant icing
  • Royal icing
  • Corn syrup
  • Vodka
  • Corn flour to stop fondant sticking, works better than icing sugar
  • Paint brush for the glaze 
  • Piping bag
  • And whatever decorating cutters or molds, piping nozzles you have

Roll out the blue/black fondant to about 3mm thick and use the same cutter as the biscuits to cut out circles
Roll out red fondant, cut the shapes you want and use a little corn syrup as glue
Use corn syrup to glue the fondant to the biscuit
A mix of 1part corn syrup to 1 part vodka can be used to glaze the finished biscuits 

There is a bit of waste with this method but I like the effect

For Fondant Icing (sorry Mary Berry I bought the fondant from a shop....gasp)
  • 200g blue fondant 
  • 100g white fondant (or just buy red)
  • Black food colour
  • Red food colour
  • Gloves!!!
  • Pure icing sugar
Wearing gloves kneed blue fondant with a few drops of black to achieve the blue black bead base colour (I did this in the stand mixer with dough hook but still gloves as the colour will stain your fingers)
You may need to add a touch more icing sugar to maintain firmness of fondant depending on how much colour you added

Royal Icing (I hand raised the chicken that laid the I forgiven Mary?)
  • 250g pure icing sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Red food colour
  • Sift icing sugar into a mixing bowl (ain't nobody got time for lumps)
  • Add egg white and lemon juice
  • Beat with electric mixer to forms soft peaks
  • Add drops of food colour and beat till desired colour is achieved

End of nozzle and tube cutter

Circles from above with thicker rolled fondant

Zig zag silicone mold 

Piped royal icing

This is a stencil with royal icing, not quite part of the original beads but it's your biscuit so your rules!

With over 100 Eurovision themed recipes in the 3 years of Chow Down to Eurovision and themed cakes I'm sure there is something for any Eurovision party.

Who do you think will take the Eurovision crown this year??