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Monday, 25 April 2011


 Breakfast - “The Most Important Meal of the Day”.

 Well, it is for me. I’m not one of those. “Oh! It’s 11:00am and I haven’t eaten anything yet” kind of people. If I don’t get something substantial to eat fairly early on in the morning, I do not function (well, even less than usual). 

 Growing up, I was always a cereal and toast kind-of girl (with crumpets on the weekend!). 
It took a trip to the States to open my eyes to the many options that breakfast can offer. In a suburban house in Baltimore, I was served French toast with ‘breakfast bacon’ (which as far as I could tell, was just normal bacon which had been cooked ‘til it was so crispy it just about shattered when you tried to cut it), and maple syrup on the side. Totally bizarre to have sweet and savoury on the one plate but totally amazing. I loved it at first bite , and it became my go-to ‘seedy morning after’ breakfast for many years.

  One thing I love about breakfast, is that you can have a lovely and special meal together  with someone and still have the rest of the day to go and be productive (or not, as your day may decree). 
 Or head off to work, and with a hubby in retail this can happen often. It can be quite frustrating going to work when everyone else is relaxing, and often the majority of people at shopping centres on public holidays are those that can’t think of anything better to do (“drongos” was the term I think he used). Thus, the prospect of working over Easter was one I knew he would not be relishing. So in an attempt to send him off in a better mood, I thought I would use the days to try out a few new breakfast recipes.

 We got a copy of “Jamie’s America” by Jamie Oliver a few years ago and it has become one of my favorite recipe books. In fact, I have only had one ‘failed’ recipe in over 30 dip-ins  (the aforementioned cookies-that-congealed-into-one-large slice-like mess). It is divided up into areas, such as New York, Louisiana, Wild West and has recipes for things you’ve heard of in American films and TV shows (but were never quite sure what they were) like grits, collard greens and peach cobbler. I had been going pretty well working through my Things To Cook List, but had about 6 breakfasts to try, so culled it down to three and off we went.

Good Friday started with “Scrumptious Navajo Brekkie” (I do love the way Jamie names and writes his recipes). This was a whole heap of bacon and thinly sliced potato cooked up, a few eggs  thrown in to scramble the whole thing together, and then served on a flatbread/tortilla. Very hearty and substantial (we both felt we needed a nap after eating it) and would be perfect cooked over a fire around a campsite.
 If you’re into that kind of thing.

 My vegetarian sister-in-law stayed over on Saturday night which meant Easter Sunday morning was “Beautiful Breakfast Tortillas” – scrambled eggs with spring onion, which you then put in a tortilla with guacamole, tomato, cheese and a bit of fresh coriander (we didn’t add the hot sauce as I am a bit of a hot/spicy wuss, but the coriander still gave it a nice kick). Son 2 loved it as well, happily stealing bites in between mouthfuls of chocolate Easter egg. Not a sweet n’ savoury combo I’d recommend but at least he was trying new things!

 Anzac Day had us going Jewish (which maybe should have been done on Good Friday?) with Potato Latke Breakfast (a surprisingly textbook title from Mr Oliver). Latkes are a kind-of Jewish hash brown/potato pancake, and they were served with a poached egg on top. Son 2 again loved it and stole half, and I learned the right way to make a poached egg (my hubby’s) and the wrong way (mine).  I knew that poaching an egg in boiling water (and not those weird egg cup thingies) was a bit of a fiddle and so was prepared for the worst. I think I lucked out with the first egg, getting it all out in one dollop, and got a bit cocky/distracted with number two, which was kind of poured in from a height and in the end resembled a science experiment gone wrong. I put it down to years of pouring eggs  carefully to separate the whites and yolks, but at least I learned the ‘wrong’ technique early on!
 It all still tasted good – just lost points on presentation.

 So three from three with Jamie’s Easter Breakfast fest, and I’m looking forward to when I can attempt Mexican Breakfast (which seems like a thick tomato-salsa-esqe sauce with eggs cooked into it)  and Cowboy Scrapple, which I think is a bit like breakfast bubble n’ squeak to use the leftovers from last nights’ dinner.

 And it uses ‘grits’.


Monday, 18 April 2011

(not so) Hot n' Cross

(not so)Hot n Cross

 Easter: the one time of the year when it is OK (and almost mandatory) to gorge yourself on chocolate. In other words, my kind of holiday. And as a kid, Easter meant a trip up to the farm for a week or so, and my mum would pack half a dozen packs of  Tip Top hot cross buns, in the old cardboard boxes with the silver reflective layer on the inside (anyone else remember them?). If you heated them in the oven, they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (spreading the butter would make it all smushy), or toasted under the griller made for crispy all round. Super yum, especially on those cold Corryong mornings

Over the years, HC Buns have been assailed and mutated. We can now have choc chip, mocha and fruit free. Now call me a traditionalist, but if doesn’t have fruit in it (and peel – when did Those in Charge decide everyone disliked it??), you can’t call it a hot crossie; it’s a yeast bun at best. And I feel there is already enough chocolate around this time of the year without them being stuck in HC Buns to make them more palatable. So it’s time they fought back.

 I came across several recipes for make-your-own hot cross buns a few years ago, and loving them almost as much as chocolate, I thought I’d try it out. Although HC Buns appear in the shops earlier and earlier (I spied them on Boxing Day last year at my local Coles), I find a craving always appears September-October-ish, when the last few you saved in the freezer are a distant memory   . Trying each recipe, I took the Goldilocks approach (“this one is too cakey” “ this one isn’t spicy enough”) as well as quizzing my baker brother about yeast, and cobbled together this recipe. People are always amazed when they realise they are made from scratch (not even a breadmaker!), but it’s really not that tricky. The main thing you need is time for the yeast to rise (twice), but even so, I had this batch for my work colleagues out in about 2 hours. The golden syrup glaze is a nice cheat’s shortcut. The other thing that will improve your HC Bun experience is the butter. I used to buy home brand, not realising the range of brands or quality out in the market place. However, going for a high end or organic butter will make them taste that much better. Scout out a deli or a posh supermarket like Thomas Dux or David Jones food hall as experiment

 So if you’re at home on Friday (as blessedly, even the shops will be shut) and feeling adventurous, give them a try

K xx

Hot Cross Buns
1 TBSP yeast
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cups warm milk
4 ½ cups plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
50g butter, melted
1 egg
1 ½ cups mixed fruit and peel *
Crosses: 2-3 TBSP plain flour, water
Glaze: golden syrup

  1. place yeast, 2 tsp sugar and all of milk in a bowl Set aside for ~5 mins (the mixture will bubble to show the yeast is activated)
  2. in a bowl, mix flour, spices, egg, butter, fruit and sugar
  3. add yeast mixture and mix using a butter knife or spatula until a sticky dough forms
  4. knead dough on a lightly floured surface for ~ 5 mins.
  5. place in an oiled bowl
6. cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hr or until it doubles in size.

Bakers hint: put some boiling water in a sink (with the plug in) and place your cling-wrap covered bowl in this with a tea towel over the top (be careful not to let your towel dip into the water or you will end up with a wet towel!). This will help rising on those cool Melbourne days.

    Mixture doubled in size after 1 hr
    7. grease a baking tray and line with baking paper
    8. divide mixture in 12 (for large) or 20 (for medium) and roll into balls. place balls in tin
    with a few cm space between.
    9. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 mins to rise
    10. preheat oven to 200°C
    11. combine flour and water to make a thick paste
    12. using a piping set (or a plastic bag with the corner cut off), pipe crosses onto buns

    13. bake for ~20 mins or until well browned and spring back to the touch
    14. brush tops with golden syrup while still warm

    Best served straight from the oven with the best quality butter you can find!

    * Don’t be fooled by a “fruit medley” which can often have apricots and apple. Use that by all means if you like it, but I usually add a combination of sultanas, currants and raisins.

    Saturday, 16 April 2011

    Duckin' brilliant!

    A few weeks ago, a copy of ‘The Vineyard Cookbook‘ fell off a store shelf, rendering it unsellable and thus very happily received by me. It is a gorgeous looking book that goes around the vineyard regions of Australia (Mornington Peninsula, Hunter Valley, Margaret River etc) and features recipes from Cellar Doors and Restaurants at those vineyards. It has lovely simple recipes ranging from a lemon tart and stuffed mushrooms, up to super complicated stuff like “Flavours of the Peninsula Vacherin with preserved cherry and turron semi freddo, mixed berry ice cream, burnt honey sauce and a crown of spun toffee. I find that if there is more than one word I don’t know in the title of a recipe then it’s probably a bit too complicated for the likes of me.
     However, it did produce a lovely List of Things to Cook, and a Saturday night catch up with friends provided the perfect excuse to try a few. I started with the usual cheese and nibbles, and watermelon margaritas. Now I know the weather at present does not lend itself to frozen drinks, but I do love my ice cream maker very much and never need much of an excuse to use it. Thankfully the sun had shone that day and they were quite delicious.
     For main course, I decided on “Spice Roasted Duck Breast with Cinnamon Mash and Orange Sauce” from the Ten Minutes by Tractor Restaurant in Main Ridge, Vic. I have never cooked duck before, but the recipe seemed simple enough and (in those famous last words ), how hard could it be ?!?! It started out quite well – for the first time I had to order spices online (  as my local Coles don’t stock ground star anise or mace, so that made me feel like a true blue foodie. Sourcing duck was a bit of a challenge, but luckily the poultry shop at Chadstone helped me out. Was feeling quietly confident until my guest confided how much he loved duck. Slight panic by me and a “gosh I hope I don’t stuff it up!” Luckily it turned out really well, and was actually quite easy to make.
    I also learned that the secret to a creamy mashed potato is (not surprisingly) - lots of cream! And butter - mmmmm.
     So I look forward to tackling the other duck related recipes in the cookbook (and making roast potatoes with the melted duck fat, which a foodie friend at work assures me is divine).
    For dessert, I couldn’t go past “Soft Centered Chocolate Puddings” (D’arry’s Verandah restaurant in McLaren Vale SA). When I was growing up, one of my favorite desserts was chocolate self saucing pudding from the PMWU cookbook – yummy spongy cakey pudding with a custardy chocolate sauce – delicious!! So I thought this might be a nice variation.  It was suggested to be served with chocolate ice cream, but I had been warned that these puddings could be quite rich, so I opted for a raspberry white chocolate ribbon ice cream (from The Ice Cream Bible); my thinking being that the white chocolate would be a nice counterpoint, and chocolate things are often served with some sort of raspberry accompaniment. It turned out to be a very pink looking ice cream, so I decided to add a small dollop of homemade vanilla when I served up, just in case the combination was too overpoweringly sweet. Again – very delicious and very easy to make.
    (...and luckily too much for some people so I have some left overs for dinner tonight!)

     So two big “thumbs up” for The Vineyard Cookbook; a delicious meal that looked quite fancy but very easy to make. And to duck as well– when we save up a bit of money, I’ll look forward to cooking with it again!

    K xx

    Thursday, 14 April 2011


    Welcome to my foodie blog! Or “Flog” as someone called it (not I, sounds too medieval)

     The first and most obvious is question is, “Why?”. It’s not as if the world needs another food blog; there are many more out there that are surely more interesting and written by people with much better qualifications than I.

     And my answer is “Why Not?”. In this modern day and age, people blog about all sorts of things strange and/or mundane, so here follows my blog of my kitchen and culinary (mis)adventures.

     Over the last few years, due to my hubby’s employment in various book-type stores, I have amassed quite a collection of wonderful cookbooks, out of which always comes a list of Recipes I’d Like to Try. Thankfully I have had a willing rotation of friends and family willing to be guinea pigs to whatever has taken my fancy. They have witnessed my triumphs as well as the odd misstep (such as the rather bland Moroccan casserole, the cookies that congealed into one large slice-like mess and the gravy-less beef bourguignon)
     But I think I have almost reached saturation point with sharing my excitement about new ingredients and cooking styles – hence, I am creating another outlet where I can ramble on about these and other food (and probably non-food) related topics. I don’t expect that there will be an avid fan base, but I find that writing about something makes you think about it a bit more, which I think is always a good thing. And maybe someone will find a hint or a recipe that might interest them and thus the Circle of Foodie Intrigue keep turning.

    Why “Domestic Goddess”? On my good days, I am one. On my bad days, I still aspire to one! My definition is someone who enjoys cooking and creating and hosting, and generally pulls it off. A little bit 50’s Housewife (with the matching tablecloth and the table set with the proper cutlery) and a bit Modern Woman who knows that we don’t always have the time of a 50’s Housewife and so need the shortcuts as well. Hence you will find entries about organising dinner parties as well as feeding children who may not eat all of the things they should, as well as yummy things to enjoy, because a Domestic Goddess works hard and deserves a treat every so often! But more cooking related than general domesticity – I do use earth-friendly cleaners when I can, but if you want to clean your toilet with bi-carb soda, then you need another blog!

     So I hope you enjoy it, find it helpful or find it inspiring – I will be as I write it.

    K xx

    PS - and it will hopefully look a bit prettier once I work my way around!