Thursday, February 17, 2011

Strawberry Mountains

Remember my whiney blog about St Valentine's Day disasters? Apologies. And as a peace offering, I'm sharing my recipe for a St Valentine's Day dessert that wasn't such a disaster! Truth be told, even though our restaurant sank into the Brisbane River before we could get there, my hubby and I had a fantastic candlelit dinner under the stars...Norah Jones in the background, baby sound asleep, candles, bubbly in the ice was amazing! We ate simply, a meal cooked by the both of us (chicken schnitzel and salad), drank almost a bottle of moscato each and it was all topped off with a scrumptious dessert I created. Bliss! What did you lovers do for St Valentine's Day this year?

Best Ever St. Valentines Day Dessert

1 packet chocolate creme biscuits
100ml cream
200g chocolate
strawberries to decorate

Place all biscuits in the blender and process until they resemble fine breadbrumbs.
Remove and place contents in a bowl. Add enough cream so that the crumbs begin to clump and can be formed into a shape. Press into disposable shot glasses or moulds and refrigerate until hard. With the help of a butter knife, remove.
The removed biscuit mountains. Rough edges are not a problem as these will be hidden beneath a chocolate layer.

Coat each with melted chocolate, strawberries and cream. Alternately pile crushed honeycomb on the top of each mountain, or your choice of decoration, and refrigerate to keep firm.

What is worth eating if not smeared in melted chocolate?

NOTES: Disposable shot glasses make fantastic molds. They are thin plastic, so when removing with a knife they may crack, allowing for easier removal. These can be found at your local supermarket and have multiple uses. You may also try other types of biscuit in this recipe. How divine does choc mint creme biscuit towers sound?
Ta Da!

As the French so sweetly put it, Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kitchen Tea Teapot Cake

Last year, one of my friends who was helping to organise a Dinner Auction for our school, asked if I would auction off a cake. I envisioned myself being requested to create the most impossible design by some high paying winner, and very unskillfully modeling something out of icing and chunks of crumbling cake. I knew only disappointment could result from agreeing, so I declined.
I added the idea to my personal Cooking Challenges of 2011 list though, along with those mouth watering croissants. I found an excuse to attempt it with my sister-in-law-to-be's Kitchen Tea. I knew she would forgive me if it ended in disaster. But it didn't!
After much experimenting (one being the removal of a cupboard handle to use as the teapot handle) and several attempts, the end result was not too bad for a first timer.. I think. (even if I say so myself) But you know me, everything I do in the kitchen is highly experimental. Next time (if I ever go there again) I will definitely be doing some things differently. It was grey hair experience. Tea he he.

This post is for Julia, who is trying to wrap her head around the cake and wanted to see some pictures.

Marcela's Kitchen Tea Teapot Cake
Firstly I had to find something small enough and curved enough to create a round cake. I found a small bowl and baked two cakes in it (one after the other, of course) and glued them together with icing, tops inwards, to create an oval shaped cake.

The bowl used to form two dome shapes

A rough oval shape was formed by placing them together
I chose a basic butter cake for this particular experiment, and it turned out nicely. If you plan on making a cake like this however, be sure to shave the cake with a knife so there are no bumps on the surface. I had some bumps that I wish I had smoothed away. These where formed by the baking paper I used to line the bowl. You could smooth the rough bits with a knife and fill the gaps with a thick icing paste I imagine. If you do not, they still show up even underneath the thick fondant icing.
I didn't take any photos of the home made fondant being rolled and placed on the cakes. It was too stressful a time and the fondant needed to be re-rolled a few times before I got a smooth-ish result. It looked a bit bumpy due to not shaving the lumps off the cake, so I coloured a little of the fondant and made a couple of flowers and vines to cover some of the undesirable parts!

far from perfect but cute as a Shabby Rose

The spout and handle where the hardest parts to get right. I think I should have made them days ahead so that they dried in time for the party. With the help of some toothpicks and the handle off the cupboard (which I modeled icing around), I managed to get them on the cake without too much hassle! Some wire would have come in handy if I could get my hands on it.


1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup glucose (can substitute light corn syrup)
1 tablespoon glycerin 
1 tablespoons butter
2 pound bag of icing sugar, sifted.
1 teaspoon flavoring
Pour water in a small saucepan. Shower the gelatin over the cold water so that the gelatin is evenly distributed.  Let gelatin soften in the water for five minutes.
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. When all sugar is sifted, make a well in the center of the bowl. Heat the water and gelatin over gentle heat, stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved. Mix in glucose (or corn syrup) and glycerin. Add the butter and mix until melted. Remove from heat and stir in desired flavouring. I used vanilla essence. 
Pour wet ingredients into the well of powdered sugar. Mix with a wooden spoon until cool enough to handle. 

Then use a lightly greased hand to knead the ingredients together. Knead in the bowl until most of the icing sugar is incorporated. 
Turn out on a lightly greased bench and knead until the fondant is smooth and pliable. If it feels sticky, add additional icing sugar. If it feels too dry and doesn't feel elastic, work in a small bit of butter. 
Shape into a thick disk shape and cover with a thin coating of butter. Wrap well in several layers of plastic wrap, and place in a large ziplock bag. The fondant can be used immediately, but works much better if its left to cure for at least 12 hours. The fondant will store at room temperature this way for three months, and can be frozen for up to 12 months. Add food colouring as desired.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Hello and welcome to the guest edition of Mummy's blog.
My name is The Pudding, and my uncles say I have more rolls than a bakery.

More rolls than a bakery, as I said.

Its because I eat everything I make. I try to keep my culinary skills secret otherwise THEY might make me do all the cooking everyday. My parents think I know nothing of cooking, but I'm the pro in the family! After all, I have learnt quite a bit, listening to beaters buzzing, and dishes clanging for nine months, plus eight months of visual experience from my highchair.
Today we are going to make Watermelon Sorbet, because its really very hot at the moment. I got the idea from my aunty Renee and I found the recipe on
First, taste your selected watermelon to make sure its a juicy one...a dry watermelon just wont cut it!


1 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar
600g seedless watermelon, rind removed, coarsely chopped
1 egg white

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, place watermelon in the jug of a blender and blend until pureed. Make sure their are no lumps (you should have about 600ml of watermelon juice)
Add sugar syrup to watermelon juice and stir until well combined. Pour into an airtight container, cover and place in the freezer for 4-5 hours or until almost set.
Roughly break up the sorbet with a metal spoon and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Process briefly until sorbet is smooth and has a soft, icy texture.

Return sorbet to container and place in the freezer for a further 4 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer and repeat. Return sorbet to the container and place in the freezer for a further 5 hours or until firm.
Place the sorbet and egg whites in the bowl of a food processor and process until sorbet is pale and smooth. Return to the container and place in the freezer for a further 4 hours or until almost firm. Scoop into serving glasses or bowls and serve immediately.

Now to lick the spoon!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cajun Chicken with Mango and Avocado Salsa

Last week I was fortunate enough to make it to the book festival in Brisbane...making a bee line to the cooking section as soon as quickly as my legs could carry me. Okay, well, maybe after ploughing through the literature section. I came across some great cookbooks printed in the 1980's and have been browsing them now at my leisure in the comfort of my humble abode. AHHH!
How incredible the pictures are. The colours used, the ingredients used, the lighting, the workmanship, the presentation. Everything has, I have to say with relief, changed in the cook-book world for the better.
I was startled by the way every dessert was covered in fresh or baked fruit, jellies and mousses where created from prunes and other fruits not particularly known for their appeal.
I am a very visual person, the pictures are what always grab my attention first and foremost. Give me modern cookbooks any day! There are some wonderful recipes in these books I collected, I might add. We just have to adapt them, give them a modern twist...don't worry, I'll pull the pineapple rings and prunes off the cupcakes and top them with a sole blueberry and some sugar dusting with a tendril of lime zest arching around that little dot of fruit. I just inspired myself. Look out for those cupcakes!
And now...for something completely different...
My husband made an incredible dinner and I just have to share it.
So simple.
So delicious.
So gourmet!
This one is for you Suzanne. Easy enough to cook blindfolded!

Adapted from recipe from

4 large chicken breast fillets
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp sal1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp. french onion soup powder mix (or dried onion flakes)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Rocket leaves to serve

1 ripe mango
1 avocado, halved, stone removed, peeled, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, halved, de-seeded, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tbs finely shredded fresh mint
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine oil, salt, garlic and onion powders, oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne and black pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Cook chicken for 5 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate. Cover loosely with foil and set aside.
Meanwhile, to make salsa, cut mango cheeks close to seed and peel away skin. Finely chop. Combine in a bowl with avocado, capsicum, onion, lime juice and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with salsa and rocket leaves.

Handmade After Dinner Mints

When I was a little girl my mum sometimes gave me free range of the kitchen to create, bless her! I remembering discovering this recipe when I was about 10, and copied it into a journal so as never to forget it. I refused to part from it--these after dinner mints were such a hit in our house I remember mum had to hide them up in the cupboard! Nothing ever lasted long around our house.
Since then, the journal has disappeared and the recipe lost for many years. Recently I discovered it again! So, as never to lose it again, I spread the word of its goodness. Do not let it out of your sight!


1 egg white
340g icing sugar
peppermint essence
green food colouring
chocolate to dip

Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Whisk the egg white lightly in a bowl until it is throthy but not stiff.
Sift the icing sugar into the bowl, then stir it into the egg white with a wooden spoon until the mixture is stiff.
Knead in the peppermint essence. Put a few drops of green food colouring in and knead until combined. Roll the mixture into small balls and flatten onto the tray with a fork. Leave to set for 24 hours.
Melt chocolate when the peppermints are set and dip them in chocolate. YUM!

one bite and you'll be hooked forever!