Monthly Archives: February 2014

Chicken and bacon mini quiches

chicken and bacon mini quiches

chicken and bacon mini quiches

Have you ever made a meal you know your kids are going to hate? Sometimes I try to be inventive, mixing the exotic with the familiar – chilli chocolate chicken comes to mind. These efforts can be very hit-and-miss with my kids, but the alternative of eating sausage and mash every night is soul-destroying.

Soul-destroying was far from what I was planning for tonight, but I ended up having my youngest in tears. In my efforts to convert his ratios from 5:0.2 fruit:vegetables to 2:5, I have been trying to introduce salads, especially handy in summer.

I would never have thought a solitary piece of cos lettuce could induce some many tears and so much dry retching – but it happened.  After much to-do, these mini quiches saved the day. These little beauties take almost no time to prepare and the sky is the limit with variations.

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Morning stillness over the Molonglo River

Coppins Crossing sunrise

Coppins Crossing sunrise

Sometimes things take you by surprise.

I was out riding early in the morning as the sun was rising on what was predicted to be another baking hot day. As I rode through Coppins Crossing, I was taken aback by the Molonglo River – so mysterious, still and misty.

I played with the original image (above) to try to make it look more mysterious and cool.

Molonglo River at Coppins Crossing, Canberra

Molonglo River at Coppins Crossing, Canberra

Molonglo River at Coppins Crossing

Molonglo River at Coppins Crossing

French toast made super fantastic using a sandwich press

Sandwich press French toast

Sandwich press French toast

I like to ride my bike. A lot. I do it because it helps to balance my enjoyment of cakes and desserts. The bonus is I feel excellent and it frees my mind and lets me think. I’m totally addicted to it and if I miss a day, I feel edgy. If I miss two days, I start to feel depressed. I usually ride early in the morning, when it is cool and when there is not much traffic on the road.

The irony is that at 6 am I’m usually hungry and invariably spend a good part of my ride thinking about food, in particular what breakfast of 2000 calories I am going to eat as a reward for burning 1000 calories before breakfast. I’m slavishly addicted to French toast in its many forms and these usually top the list.

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Silo bakery, Canberra

Silo front

Silo bakery and cafe – Kingston

Silo bakery and café is a Canberra institution. This means it is super-popular and can be very busy.

Silo pastry selection

Silo pastry selection

Silo large tart selection

Silo large tart selection

Large caramel banana tart

Large caramel banana tart

I arrive at the small but bright store early on Friday morning, as I am keen to try their walnut and cranberry baguette for a picnic the next day. Sadly, these were not ready yet (note to self – do not arrive before 7:30 am). I buy a sour dough loaf, croissants and an orange and pistachio scroll. The sour dough was still warm from the oven and my car smelled heavenly on the drive home.

silo selection1

Sour dough bread, croissants, orange and pistachio scroll (front)

Sour doughThis is a wonderful dense loaf with a rich, earthy sour flavour. My only grumble is that the crust is very thick – jaw-achingly thick – and a little burnt on the bottom. I struggled to get through it with a regular knife. But my goodness, this is the best tasting sour dough I have ever eaten. I love that they brand the loaf with an ‘S’.

silo croissants

Silo sour dough bread and croissants

Croissants. These were soft inside with a crisp crust that was perfectly flaky. Almost creamy buttery inside and so good for breakfast with coffeeeee.

Orange and pistachio scroll. I didn’t get to try this, but my teenage son inhaled it for breakfast. He proclaimed it ‘alright’, which is very high praise coming from this teenager.

I return later in the early afternoon and buy some rye bread and some of their tarts (for the purposes of research, of course!). On both times when I visited, the bakery and cafe didn’t seem overly busy and though I wasn’t planning to eat-in, there were plenty of tables that looked free.

silo selection

Rye loaf, chocolate/cherry/almond tart, blueberry custard tart (front)

Rye bread. The lady behind the counter said this mini-loaf was 70% rye. It was a moist, dense and chewy loaf with a distinct nutty flavour and a heady aroma. It wasn’t too strong on the rye and I just loved it. I had it with some spiced pear paste and smoked cheddar.

Chocolate/cherry/almond tart. This was frangipane-like, crumbly with studs of dark chocolate and sweet cherries. Absolutely divine!

silo blackcurrant custard tart

Blackcurrant custard tart

Blackcurrant/cabernet/mint tart. My youngest pointed to this and said ‘want’. The title is from Silo’s web page, as it seems closest to what I bought and I wasn’t paying enough attention to the names I was being told in the shop. I’m not sure if this had mint in it. To be honest, I’m not sure it had cabernet, either. But it was definitely the most sublime blackcurrant and fruity custard tart I have tried in ages. Rich velvety custard, with a combination of sweet and tart fruit in a delicate shortcrust case.

Silo. It’s worth it. 

Is it really EPIC, or another four-letter acronym?

carrots

EPIC farmers market

EPIC farmers market

The answer is yes, both. The EPIC market, or more correctly, the Capital Region Farmers Market at the Exhibition Park In Canberra is an excellent place to buy regionally-grown and made produce and also is a great outing for making you feel good about living in Canberra.

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Breakfast yoghurt and berry delight

Image

Summer in a glass

As the days start to shorten, this means Summer will soon be over. In a few months as I stare at my bowl of cooked oats, I will start to pine for a fresh and fruity treat like this. To be honest, I eat this for lunch too. I love the contrast of crunchy light cereal with creamy yoghurt and the tart and sweet fruits.

This is hardly a recipe, but the red, blue and white made it look so pretty I wanted to write about it. Summer means berries to me, but there are endless combinations.

Breakfast yoghurt and berry delight

  • Difficulty: easy
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Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • 4 tablespoons muesli (granola or similar)
  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (whatever you like!)
  • ½ tablespoon honey

Method:

  • Grab a glass and spoon alternating layers of yoghurt, cereal and fruit until it’s full.
  • Drizzle honey on top.
  • Consume with a smug and healthy glow.

Chocolate, hazelnut and raspberry torte

chocolate hazelnut meringue

….aka the mega flourless chocolate brownie meringue cake. I was inspired to make this as a summery dessert for a gluten-free friend, who thankfully is not shy of chocolate. This cake is rich, but remarkably light, with a crisp outer and slightly chewy centre. The cream filling makes the cake go down so smoothly and the raspberry cuts the rich intensity of the chocolate. Ideally make and assemble a day ahead, so the cream and raspberries can meld into the meringue. The cake is much easier to slice for serving when it is allowed to come to room temperature and it tastes so much better too than straight from the fridge.

Chocolate, hazelnut and raspberry torte

  • Difficulty: moderate (multiple steps)
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Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 200 g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 200 g dark chocolate (I use 70% Lindt)
  • 150 g hazelnut meal
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 300 ml thickened cream (35% fat)
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 1 punnet fresh raspberries (200 g approximately)
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 160 °C (140 °C fan-forced).
  • Lightly grease two 18 cm round loose-bottomed cake pans and line with baking paper.
  • Melt butter and chocolate in bowl over simmering water (or in microwave – using low power), stirring often until melted and smooth.
  • Remove chocolate from heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and half the caster sugar until pale and thickened.
  • In a separate bowl (or using a stand mixed with the whisk attachment), whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue whisking while slowly adding the remaining caster sugar until the meringue is thick and glossy and all the sugar is dissolved.
  • Slowly add chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture and thoroughly mix to combine. Fold in the hazelnut meal and a pinch of salt.
  • Gently fold in the egg white mixture, being careful not to over mix.
  • Pour mixture into prepared tins and bake for 40 minutes until the top is firm and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow cakes to cool in their pans
  • Carefully remove cakes from pans and place on a wire rack.
  • Whip cream with icing sugar until sugar is dissolved and cream has stiffened (it should hold a shape when the whisk is removed).
  • On a serving plate, place one cake top side down and layer with half the cream.
  • Add a layer of raspberries and top with the remainder of the cream.
  • Place other cake on top (top side up) and dust liberally with icing sugar.
  • Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Allow to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.

choc hazelnut slice