Monthly Archives: January 2015

Cheesecake grapes on salted caramel sand – adventures in molecular gastronomy continued


Cheesecake grapes

My youngest son and I love Ricardo’s café, especially their beautiful cheesecake spheres. One day, as he poked about in his apple cheesecake, admiring the apple caviar and white chocolate and gel coated sphere, he wondered if Ricardo’s could make cheesecake that looked like a bunch of grapes… (and bless him, he suggested it to one of the staff, then for the next few weeks, wandered in regularly to stare hopefully at the display to see if his suggestion had been created yet).

Ricardo's apple cheesecake

Ricardo’s apple cheesecake

This made me think, could I make something like that? Continue reading


Two Before Ten, anyone? Aranda shops – sneak peak

The Juggernaut van - complete with cute wooden spoons

The Juggernaut van – complete with cute wooden spoons

Who would’ve thought… it figures

That immortal line by Alanis Morisette says it all for me. I have been a regular drive-past at the Aranda shops for near on ten years now, as both my kids have gone through primary school there. Forlorn, abandoned, crappy. Overrun by the activity at the nearby Jamison shops, which was nearly overrun by Belconnen Westfield and has only recently risen from the ashes. Almost everyday for ten years now I wished they would just do something with those shops, anything, but leave that hideous eyesore with broken windows and boarded-up doors. But what would you know, the irony of it, in September last year, just as I was about to farewell my youngest in year 6 to the big world of high school, a wee little pop up of a cafe opens at the Aranda shops. Not just The Juggernaut – for that’s what it’s called – but the super duper promise of so much more….  Continue reading

Brownies – by David Lebovitz – with bonus dates


These are called ‘Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies’ and are described by David Lebovitz in his excellent book ‘Ready for Dessert’ as the best brownies. He’s right. And David Lebovitz himself admits a reluctance to stand on a soap box to say anything is the best. As with most of his recipes, it’s hard to get these wrong and that’s why I enjoy his recipes so much. These brownies are so decadent and chocolaty rich, studded with chunks of toasted walnuts. Best of all, they are a one-pot preparation and you really can whip up a batch in under an hour. I’ve added dates here to make them extra moist – though they really don’t need it.

I find freezing these work really well to stop me eating the entire tray in one sitting. Served warmed up with cream or vanilla ice cream is the best of the best.

Modified from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

Brownies by David Lebovitz with bonus dates

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Makes: 12


  • 85 g unsalted butter
  • 225 g dark chocolate (at least 45% cocoa solids)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 35 g plain flour
  • 100 g dates, pitted and softened in 100 ml just-boiled water with ½ teaspoon bicarb, then roughly chopped
  • 135 g walnuts (any nut will work, but I think walnuts or pecans are best), lightly toasted and roughly chopped


  • Preheat oven to 175°C (155°C fan forced) and lightly grease and line a 23 cm square baking tin with baking paper or foil (ensuring some comes up the side to help with removing the brownies after they have cooked).
  • In a large pot, gently melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and stir through the sugar and vanilla, then beat through the eggs, one at time until fully combined.
  • Add the flour and beat until the batter is smooth and glossy (it will come away from the side of the pot).
  • Stir through the chopped nuts and dates.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 30 minutes until just set.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tray and cutting up.
  • Try stopping at one.


Molecular Gastronomy for beginners – fruit ‘caviar’


Strawberry fruit caviar

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I have been playing around for a while and have been keeping a secret of it.

I’ve been fixated with molecular gastronomy – more specifically – spherification. This is the technique that lets you make little spheres of ‘caviar’ – a thin gel membrane holding a liquid that bursts in your mouth. It’s totally amazing! OK yes, it’s total wankery too, and is perhaps a bit ‘so last year’ now. But it’s a challenge and it made me feel a little like Heston (without the genius).  Continue reading