farewell google reader

27 Jun 2013

I've been using Google Reader to organise my RSS feeds for a few years now and I know you're probably already aware, but Google Reader is shutting down on July 1, 2013. I'm going to miss her. Quite a few of you follow my blog using Google Reader and I'd hate you to miss out on any new posts. I've tried out 2 other RSS feed readers, bloglovin and feedly. They're both pretty user friendly and will directly import all your feeds from Google with just the click of a button so you won't miss a thing!

As a blog post is pretty boring without pictures, I thought I'd share with you a photo of a recent birthday gift. It's some personalised note cards from Bespoke Letterpress. Aren't they gorgeous?

Have a great weekend and I'll be back again on Monday,


sour cherry cheesecake

24 Jun 2013

Winter came to Sydney this weekend with a cold, wet and wild couple of days. It was the perfect weather for staying home and cooking. I tried out some new recipes with fair to middling success including this cheesecake.

I love sour cherry and cream cheese strudel and thought the combination of flavours would be great in a cheesecake. Using this Ukrainian recipe for inspiration, I adapted my usual cheesecake recipe. I used a combination of cream cheese and dry cottage cheese in the filling and folded through some Morello cherries.

I decided to jazz up the cheesecake with a walnut crumble topping.

I was a bit disappointed because the cheesecake looked a bit 'blah' when I took it out of the oven.

The cheesecake tasted great with the walnut crumble topping but I wasn't happy with how it presented, so consider this cheesecake a work in progress. I think I know how to make it better so when I've worked that out, I'll share the recipe with you.

I hope you all had fabulous weekends, in spite of the weather. 

See you all again soon.



macaroni cheese

17 Jun 2013

Whenever the temperature drops I want comfort food like soups and casseroles. My all time favourite comfort food would have to be macaroni cheese. 

I've been making this recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly New Cookbook since I was about 12. 

I've adapted the recipe a little as I don't eat bacon. When I make the cheese sauce, instead of bacon I use a small onion, either chopped and gently fried or else I slice the onion and infuse it into warm milk.

I've also reduced the fat content of the dish by using low fat milk, reduced fat cheese and I only use 1 teaspoon of butter to make the cheese sauce. That way I can still enjoy my favourite comfort food, whenever I'm in the mood.

Instead of packaged breadcrumbs I like to use fresh breadcrumbs which I lightly spray with olive oil spray before baking. I also sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the crumbs, firstly because I love Parmesan but also because it goes nice and crunchy when baked in the oven.

The original recipe states it serves 4 but at my place it feeds 2. I like to make this in individual dishes so I decided to bake the macaroni cheese in my cute little milk pan. The other serve is in the fridge waiting to be cooked.

Here's the original recipe for you.
Macaroni Cheese 
From the Australian Women’s Weekly New Cookbook
250 g (8 oz) small macaroni
3 rashers bacon
30 gm (1 oz) butter
⅓ cup plain flour
2¼ cups milk
Salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
90 gm (3 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
30 gm (1 oz) butter, extra
½ cup packaged dried breadcrumbs
30 gm (1 oz) grated cheddar cheese, extra

Put macaroni in boiling salted water; cook approximately 10 minutes or until tender; drain. (I keep ½ cup of the cooking water in case I need to thin out the cheese sauce). Put in an oven proof dish.

Preheat the oven 180°C. Put chopped bacon in a pan; sauté until crisp; remove from pan. Heat butter in pan; add the flour; cook 1 minute. Gradually add the milk; cook stirring until sauce boils and thickens; reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the dried mustard, salt and pepper and mix well. (I usually add a pinch of cayenne pepper as well). Gradually add grated cheese, stirring until all the cheese is melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and mix thoroughly.

Melt the extra butter in the pan; add the breadcrumbs; mix well. Sprinkle over the cheese sauce; then sprinkle extra grated cheese over the breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated oven 180ºC oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is brown and the sauce is bubbling.

I hope you enjoy the recipe.

See you all later,


apple cinnamon cake

10 Jun 2013

A few weeks ago I made a quince and nut cake. I decided to make the cake again but this time using apples instead of quince. As it's winter in Sydney, apples are at their best and grating an apple is a whole lot less prep than poaching quinces.

I decided to bake the cake in my old pie tin but I used a layer of foil over the base so the cake batter didn't leak through the air holes. I also placed the pie tin on a baking tray, just in case. There's nothing worse than having to clean burnt cake from the bottom of the oven.

I did modify the quince and nut cake recipe slightly. A 9 inch pie tin doesn't hold as much batter as a 9 inch cake tin, so I halved the ingredients. I decided to leave out the nuts and topped the cake with a layer of sliced apples then sprinkled over some cinnamon and sugar.

Because of the grated apple, the cake is lovely and moist.

I decided to have my piece of apple cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream,

and dusted with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Now that I'm back at work, the leftovers were brought in for morning tea. I left a very capable baker with the task of feeding the throng while I was away, but they tell me they still missed my baking.

Here's the recipe for you.
Apple Cinnamon Cake 
125g softened unsalted butter
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
⅓ cup milk or buttermilk
190 g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped or grated apple

1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon caster sugar 

Grease, flour and line the base of a 23 cm (9 in) pie plate. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Sift the dry ingredients into a small bowl. Set to one side. In a medium size bowl cream the butter, the sugars and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the flour in thirds alternating with the milk to make a soft batter. Gently fold in the chopped or grated apple.

Spoon into the prepared pie plate and smooth the top. Arrange the sliced apple over the cake batter, slightly overlapping the slices. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the sliced apple.

Place the pie dish on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the cake is cooked when tested. Place on a  wire rack to cool. When the cake is cool remove it from the tin and discard the lining paper.

To serve, dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

If you like you could add ½ cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or almonds to the cake batter before baking.

The cake was good but I think I can make it better. Next time, I'm going to try making the cake with a crumble topping sprinkled over the apples and I'll chop the apples rather than grate them, for a bit more texture or maybe I'll make an upside down apple cake. Stay tuned.

If you're looking for more of my recipes, you can find my recipe for strawberry swirl cheesecake here on decor8.

See you all next week,


autumn sydney finders keepers 2013

3 Jun 2013

I don't know how, but I almost missed this year's Autumn Sydney Finders Keepers. When I realised they were on, I changed my schedule around a little on Saturday morning and made my way to the Market's new home at Australian Technology Park.

The new venue is a short walk from Redfern station which is a good thing but I'm a creature of habit and I can't say I'm a huge fan of the new site. It's a much bigger venue but a little lacking in atmosphere and I missed the buzz of the Eveleigh Farmers Market. 

At times parts of the venue looked quite empty and a number of stall holders were left looking a little lonely.

So what did I find at Sydney Finders Keepers?

There were food trucks and flowers.

I saw lots of old faces from previous markets but I managed to track down a few new favourites as well.

I visited my friends Kylie from Paperboat Press and Alischa from Bespoke Press.
I bought some very pretty wrapping paper from Bespoke Press and Kylie very kindly gave me some ceramic bunting, one of her new products, which I'll feature on the blog in the coming months. I already know how I'll be using her gift.

Some very pretty flowers from Alischa's pop-up posy shop.

Lovely ceramics from Kim Wallace.

Some cute vintage wares from Charlie Foxtrot. Isn't that a great name?

I found lots of lovely baby clothes at Finders Keepers. These clothes are by daisy and moose.

Whilst these are from Fable Baby.

Some cute plushies from Craft Schmaft.

Great wooden boards from Sands Made.

And last but by no means least, some bright cushions from Jennifer and Smith.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the Finders Keepers.

See you all again next week. 

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