kingston biscuits and my gas supply

29 Aug 2012

At work we seem to be go to meetings all the time. You know the kind of meeting that puts your teeth on edge because it takes you away from your real work. So that we'll attend, we're bribed with the promise of morning tea. Well that morning tea consists of tea, coffee and a packet of Arnotts Assorted Cream Biscuits. At the last meeting I chose a butternut cookie but I noticed that the Kingstons seemed to be the most popular.

When I was ripping and tearing through my old magazines last month, I came across some recipes in an old Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine that replicated a number of those iconic Arnott's biscuits. You know the ones - Monte Carlos, Ginger Nuts, Iced Vo-Vo's and yes, even Kingstons. 

The Kingstons have been renamed as Chocolate Filled Oat Crunch and with a morning tea at work last Friday, I looked through my cupboards and decided I had enough of the ingredients to whip up a batch. I didn't have any demerara sugar in the cupboard but I had raw sugar so I used that instead.

I did a test run of 2 cookies and whilst they tasted yummy, they spread a bit too much. I chilled the mixture for 20 minutes and baked another 2 cookies. They did the same. I decided to add an extra tablespoon of flour, coconut and rolled oats and this time when I baked the cookies, they held their shape.

I used teaspoons of the mixture which I rolled into small balls before baking. The recipe was supposed to make 18 cookies but somehow I managed to make close to 40 filled cookies.

If you don't feel like sandwiching the cookies with chocolate, the cookies are pretty yummy on their own. They taste just like little Anzac biscuits and are perfect served with a glass of milk or with a nice cup of tea.

Here's the original recipe for you.

Chocolate-Filled Oat Crunch Gourmet Traveller 2006 - m
akes 18 biscuits. 
printable recipe
180 gm butter
120 gm demerara sugar
90 gm (¼ cup) golden syrup
150 gm (1 cup) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60 gm desiccated coconut
60 gm (⅔ cup) rolled oats
150 gm milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 160ºC. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and golden syrup until pale and fluffy, then add flour, bicarbonate of soda, coconut and rolled oats and beat on slow speed until just combined.

Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place onto baking paper lined oven trays. Leave a little room for spreading. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. 

Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Cool to a thick consistency, then spread over the base of half the biscuits and sandwich with remaining biscuits. Biscuits will keep in airtight container for 5 days.

In some good news the gas supply to my building has been updated but in the process we lost these lovely old gas pipes. When I realised they were about to disappear I took a few snaps to remember them by. I know it's hard to believe but I've always liked these old pipes filled with character but unfortunately not enough gas to keep my oven working! Hopefully now the pipes have been upgraded I'll be able to make meringues again.

Another weekend is just around the corner, so until then


pink finger buns

27 Aug 2012

When I was home in Brisbane last weekend I decided to make some finger buns. I’ve not made finger buns before and I’m not quite sure why I suddenly decided that they needed to be made.

When I was growing up a pink iced finger bun sliced and served with butter was a special morning tea treat. I’ve been keen on a fruity bun ever since and who can go past pink icing? I prefer them unadorned – no coconut or sprinkles of any kind are required.

I used a very old recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly which unfortunately isn’t available online and I didn’t think to copy it down. The recipe is inside one of my hand covered school folders on a shelf in my old bedroom in Brisbane.

This recipe for pink finger buns is quite close to the one I used with a few minor alterations. I made 12 regular size buns from the recipe and I used cinnamon instead of mixed spice. I also used sultanas (golden raisins) instead of the currants 'cos that's all I could find in the cupboard. Once the buns were cooked I glazed them with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of milk mixed with 1 tablespoon caster sugar.

A finger bun isn't a finger bun without a generous dollop of pink icing. To make the icing I used 1 cup of sifted pure icing sugar, a teaspoon of melted butter mixed with just enough milk to make a thick icing, which I coloured with 1-2 drops of natural pink colouring. I piped the icing over the buns using a small plastic sandwich bag with the edge snipped off.

Pink finger buns. What a blast from the past! They almost tasted as good as I remembered. 

I'll be back on Wednesday with another old favourite.

Until then,



NYC, here I come

22 Aug 2012

I found this great photo taken in the Bowery in the NYPL digital gallery. It was taken by Berenice Abbott and it's from a Collection called Changing New York by Berenice Abbott. So why a photo of New York you may ask? Well that's where I'm planning to be on Columbus Day.

Late last year I started planning a trip to Canada in 2012 to attend a conference. It's hard to believe but in just 5 weeks I'll be getting on a plane and flying to Canada for 10 days. I'll be in Montreal for 2 days and the rest of my time will be spent in Quebec City. I've been to Quebec City before but only for 2 days and it was a long time ago so my memory of what I saw and did is pretty hazy. I'll be staying in Old Quebec whilst there and I'm hoping to escape the convention centre whenever possible to do some sightseeing. After the conference I'll be flying to NYC for 6 days of eating, shopping, gallery visiting and hopefully lots of photography.

Dear readers, as it's been an age since my last trip to NYC, I'm looking for your suggestions for things to see and do, people to meet, places to eat and of course to shop whilst I'm there in October. I've done all the usual touristy things on previous trips so I'm keen to experience something new.

I can't wait to hear all your suggestions! You can leave them in the comments section or you can email me directly if you prefer.


mixed berry and ricotta crumble cakes

20 Aug 2012

I have a very small apartment with little storage space. I’ve been collecting food magazines for more than 10 years and recently I ran out of space. I girded my loins and made the tough decision to only file 2 years worth of the magazines. Lots of the recipes can be accessed digitally but not all of them. I’ve spent quite a few hours pulling out the recipes I think I’ll use and have placed the magazines into the paper recycling bin. I’ve yet to file all the loose leaves of paper I’ve cut from the magazines and I don’t even want to think about the pre 2005 magazines that are stored way up high on top of my kitchen cabinets.

Looking back through the magazines (so far I’ve made my way through the 2005 – 2010 issues) it’s amazing how much food photography, styling and the food we eat has changed during the 7 year period. Have you noticed this as well?

This recipe for plum and ricotta crumble cakes caught my eye and wouldn’t you know it, the recipe is available online after all. As it’s the middle of winter, plums aren’t in season here so I did as the recipe suggested and used some mixed frozen berries to top the cakes. I took the cakes into work and they were soon demolished.

I took one home for later and by the time I got round to tasting the cake it was a few days old and past its prime. I cut the cake in half, saving a bit for later as I always do and had it with a cup of tea. I found the cake a bit dry and when I reread the recipe I noticed they suggested eating the cake warm from the oven. I zapped the remaining cake in the microwave for 10 seconds and the warm cake was a revelation.

If you do get the chance to make these little cakes, please follow their suggestion to serve them warm as it makes them exceptionally yummy.

Just flew back from Brisbane this morning and the plane came in over Sydney Harbour. What a view! The sky was blue and ferries were making their way across the Harbour to Circular Quay. From my window seat I could clearly make out cars as they drove along the Sydney Harbour Bridge and I could see the Opera House as well. It was an absolutely spectacular Sydney day.

See you all again on Wednesday,



mini passionfruit cakes

15 Aug 2012

During the London Olympics, due to the time difference between Sydney and London, most of the interesting events occurred in the middle of the night. There's been precious little entertainment on t.v the past 2 weeks so instead of watching television, I listened to the olympics coverage on the radio and read a book.

One show that has been on the t.v, is MasterChef All Stars. I've only caught a few episodes but I did manage to see last week's Country Women's Association cake challenge. As I love all things passionfruit I decided to track down the CWA Passionfruit Cake recipe which featured on the show. I'd bought a bag of passionfruit the previous weekend and had been looking for a way to use them.

The gas supply to my building is still being fixed. When I had no gas Saturday morning, I wasn't sure I'd have anything to put up on the blog, especially when the plumber was otherwise engaged for the day. By 4.00 p.m. the gas was back on, so I pre-measured all the cake ingredients Saturday night as I knew I'd have to be up early to get these in the oven and baked before my 9.15 Sunday morning cycle class. Gosh that was a long sentence, wasn't it?

As is my way, I changed the recipe a little. Instead of making a single cake I made 9 mini cakes from the recipe which took about 20 minutes to bake. I also used strained passionfruit juice instead of passionfruit pulp. Sometimes crunching through passionfruit seeds you're not expecting to find, isn't such a pleasant experience.

I iced the cakes once I returned home from the gym. The CWA recipe didn't come with instructions for passionfruit icing so I used this one from the Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander.

Passionfruit Cake 
250g butter, softened 
1 cup (220g) caster sugar 
3 eggs separated 
2 cups (300g) SR Flour 
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk 
¼ cup (60ml) passion fruit pulp 

Pre-heat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease and lightly flour a 20cm/8 in round tin, tap out any excess flour. Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, beat in egg yolks, one at a time, beat until well combined. 

Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in half the sifted flour and half the buttermilk, then stir in the remaining flour and buttermilk and passionfruit pulp.

Beat egg whites in clean small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold into cake mixture in two batches. Spread mixture into prepared tin. Bake in moderate oven, for about 50 minutes or until cooked. 

Stand for 5 minutes before turning onto covered rack to cool. Ice only on top with passionfruit icing.

Passionfruit Icing
1 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
50 grams unsalted butter, melted
the pulp of 2 passionfruit.

In a small bowl combine the icing sugar, the melted butter and the passionfruit pulp. For a runny icing, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir the mixture for 1-2 minutes or until shiny.

As you can see the mini passionfruit cakes are perfect served with a nice cup of tea. I snaffled one for myself and took the rest into work. They were an absolute hit and devoured by every-one, even by my colleague Michael who declared he doesn't like passionfruit.

Just 2 more busy work days to get through before the weekend. Yippee!

I'll see you all again next week,



lamb shank broth

13 Aug 2012

Well we've just had a particularly cold and windy weekend in Sydney, just perfect for a warming bowl of soup served with a chunk of bread. I found this recipe for lamb shank broth in Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion. I've made this soup a few times this winter and have adapted the recipe a little.

The first time I made the soup, I forgot to pick up a leek at the fruit market. It tasted a bit blah, so I refrigerated the soup overnight so I could remove the fat from the top, then I went down the street to the fruit shop and bought a leek. I added the sliced leek to the soup and cooked it for a further 30 minutes. I can't tell you how much extra flavour that 1 leek added to the finished soup.

I do like swede so I used that instead of turnip.

After the 3 hour cooking time, the soup was still a bit watery so I simmered the soup for an additional hour and ended with a chunky, tasty soup. The second time I made the soup I reduced the volume of water to 2 litres. Next time I might try adding a second lamb shank just so there's a bit more meat to go round. 

Here's the original recipe for you.

Lamb Shank Broth from the Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander - serves 6
printable recipe
1 lamb shank
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2.5 litres water
20 g pearl barley, rinsed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 leek, sliced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 stick celery, strings removed and finely sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly chopped parsley

Place shank, onion, bay leaf and thyme in a stockpot and add water. Bring to simmering point. Skim and simmer for 1 hour, then add barley. Simmer for 1 hour. Add remaining vegetables and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Remove shank and cut meat into small pieces. Return meat to pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve garnished with parsley.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends and weren't blown away by the wind. Congratulations to all those who completed the City to Surf, including Farmer Andrew.


sydney finders keepers winter 2012

8 Aug 2012

Gosh it’s been such a while since I took these images at the Sydney Finders Keepers, way back in June. I’ve been going along to these markets for a few years now, but this was the first time I'd visited Finders Keepers in my capacity as roving Shopgirl correspondent for decor8. You can find my story here.

I just love the Carriageworks buildings where Sydney Finders Keepers are held because it’s the perfect backdrop for the stalls. I get to Carriageworks well before opening time and I’ve always managed to sweet talk my way past the security guards on the door.

The reason for my early arrival? So I can get some clear shots of the displays before the masses arrive. The markets are really popular and as it was a pretty cold and dreary June day, it was the perfect weather for shopping.

There were lots of pretty things for sale. Clothes from Alice Nightingale.

Illustrations from Gretel Girl.

I caught up with some of my market buddies, Alischa from Bespoke Press.

 And Kylie from Paperboat Press.

Each time I visit the markets there are always some new stallholders. Unfortunately these days I’m too busy taking photographs to shop but if I had my time again, I’d love to have had time to look closely at all the goodies at the Super Cool.

Now that I've seen the lightboxes at ply candy and two layers of cells, I quite fancy the thought of one of my own images as a lightbox.

I loved these ceramics from Hayden Youlley.

Here are the crazy ladies from t-mod.

Aren’t these lights from Fromage la Rue amazing? The Burning Bank is from Page 33 and the handmade leather goods are from Marcue.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the Finders Keepers. See you all next week,


golden fig pudding

6 Aug 2012

Something about winter makes me want to curl up with a nice plate of something warm. It can be porridge or a bowl of soup, but at other times it’s pudding that I want. During winter, I either stew fruit to serve with yoghurt or I make fruit crumbles, rice puddings or lemon delicious pudding for my dessert. I decided it was time to try out something new so here’s one of my rare forays into steamed pudding territory.

In an effort to keep the mess in my place under control, I’ve been going through all my old food magazines tearing out recipes I want to keep and putting the old magazines into the recycling bin. So many recipes are now available online and I'm fast running out of space in my little flat. I’ve had this recipe for golden fig pudding bookmarked for years but only got round to making it last weekend.

I needed to make a special trip to the shops for the figs and cloves, but everything else was already in my cupboards.

I halved the recipe and made 4 mini steamed puddings. As the puddings were quite little, they only needed 30 minutes steaming before they were ready to be eaten with some cinnamon spiced custard.

It's been quite cold in Sydney this past week so the perfect weather to enjoy these little puddings, doused with custard. I have one of the puddings left in the fridge, so I know what I'll be having for my dessert tonight - a figgy pudding.

I can't believe another weekend has been and gone, I hope you enjoyed yours,



passionfruit and lemon tart

1 Aug 2012

My readers often email me asking for recipes. One of the most requested recipes, has been for the Lemon Tart I made using a recipe from the Australian Gourmet Traveller Perfect Match cookbook. Passion fruit are in season at the moment so I decided to reinterpret the recipe using passion fruit juice. I made the tart with farm fresh eggs laid by 'the girls'.

I pureed the passion fruit in my food processor at home in Sydney before driving to Dungog. I was running a bit late so I didn't have quite enough time to make the 90 mls of passion fruit juice needed, so I topped it up with some lemon juice.

I also made the pastry at home and took it up with me in a little cooler bag. It's a 3 hour drive to Dungog and I didn't think the pastry shell would arrive in one piece so I rolled it out and lined my favourite rectangular tin once I arrived.

It's always challenging baking in an unfamiliar oven. My old gas oven is quite low with no known hot spots. Farmer Andrew has a fan forced oven and even though I lowered the temperature, I discovered the oven has 2 hot spots.

Even though I cooked the tart at 150°C, if you look really closely you can see a few bubbles in the tart filling, a sure sign of a too hot oven. I was assured it still tasted fine, despite the bubbles.

Here's the original Andy Harris Lemon Tart recipe for you from Gourmet Traveller. To make a passionfruit tart, instead of 90 mls of lemon juice I used 70 mls of passion fruit juice and 20 mls of lemon juice.

Gourmet Traveller Lemon Tart
printable recipe

250 grams plain flour
125 grams cold unsalted butter
75 grams icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
3 egg yolks
3 tbl water

To make pastry, process flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks one at a time then gradually add 1-3 tablespoons water until pastry comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface then knead for 30 seconds. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out pastry onto a lightly floured surface and line a 24 cm round flan tin with a removable base trimming excess pastry with a sharp knife. Prick base with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to at 160°C. Line pastry with baking paper and filled with dried beans or rice. Place tin on an oven tray and bake at 160°C for 10 minutes then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes until pastry is dry and golden brown.

5 eggs
150 grams caster sugar
90 ml lemon juice
2 tbs finely grated lemon zest
150 mls double cream

Place eggs, sugar, lemon juice and rind in a bowl and whisk to combine, then whisk in cream. Heat lemon mixture in a saucepan over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until warm, then pour into prepared pastry case and bake at 160°C for 25 minutes or until just firm. Cool tart for 1 hour, then serve dusted with icing sugar.

Time for me to get some dinner. I'll see you all again next week. 

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