Month: October 2013

Scrumptious Chocolate Cake

What was the one experience that completely changed your life? What happened? How did it change your life?


Who does not love a great Chocolate cake. There are so many kinds – the delightful; chocolate brownie, the fudge chocolate cake, the mouse style chocolate cake and so on !!

In our workplace we generally make the cake for our fellow coworkers. I think the most popular choice is chocolate – there is something very satisfying about a good one.

One of our favourites is the Bourke Street Bakery Chocolate cake pictured above with chocolate chards and fresh raspberries.Here is a link for the recipe care of another blogger.


My Tips for making a great chocolate cake

1. Use good chocolate – most baking chocolate sold in supermarkets are made from animal fat and do not taste very nice. Use real chocolate – look for a cocoa content of 70%

2. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature – eggs and butter.

3. Older eggs will give better volume.

4. Be careful of your oven temperature and using a conventional oven will give this very rich cake a better baking result.

5. Dont be frightened of checking the cake throughout the cooking time.

6. Be careful not to un mould too early and ensure the tin in greased and the base covered in baking paper.

Table decoration


Simple ideas to decorate a dining table can be found in your garden ! Sometimes we don’t have any flowers or maybe we just want a change.

Think about using fresh fruit and vegetables ,fresh herbs – especially the leafy kind like basil , parsley , coriander etc.

Even vases full of fresh herbs can add great interest and provide a good visual . Vases that are different heights and shapes also can look great.

Likewise candles of differing shapes and sizes all lit can add great mood .I would ad void scented candles as this can interfere with our sense of smell !!


Party food


Last Week I had the privilege to work with Chris one of the head chefs from Vue de Monde – a very fine 3 hat restaurant in Melbourne, started by Shannon Bennet.

The focus on food is to use the best of any ingredient available, treat it with great respect and attention to detail is paramount ! For example one of the tasks I was given was to finely cut shallots into rings, further cook these onion rings in milk, dust in rice flour then dry out in a low oven at 80c (for approximately 1 hour). Lastly I deep friend them in oil kept at 140c to crisp them up. This was simply the garnish to another dish!!!

What I treasure from this work experience are the skills they teach each other in their work environment – you know those things we mere cooks only read about in books.

So here are my tips acquired from Chris.

1. Cook raw onion in milk – simply heat the milk and pour over the onion and let cool. You can use this flavoured milk to make a custard or your white ¬†sauce. Pop in the freezer if you don’t want to use it straight away. Onion can also be covered in vinegar for a similar result when using in a salad.

2. These chefs love using the soda makers to add lightness to a sauce – this night Chris filled it with tempura batter (just flour and beer) – the carbon dioxide really makes for a light batter.

3. Serve mini meals – we served slow cooked beef cheeks ,cooked slowly for 11 hours on a rich potato mash and pea mash. These mashes are flavoured with beautiful french butter and lots of seasoning – thats why they taste sooo good.

4. We used lots of microherbs – garlic flowers etc but they actually impart a gentle flavour to the dish.

5. Platters of differing small deserts are the current rage – we served mini eclairs with raspberries and mini lemon meringue pie – truly delicious little morsels.


We served his truffle marshmallow , here is a link to the recipe.


Smoking the Salmon


Last night Steve and I enjoyed a delightful meal at Healesville Hotel . While dining there we really enjoyed their food and I can well understand how they scored two hats in the latest Melbourne Good Food Guide.

I had a delicious smoked salmon entree – it had a small amount of smoked salmon, shaved fresh salad vegetables like asparagus, beetroot,goats cheese,a light salad dressing and a creamy sauce with fresh herbs as a garnish.

We followed this dish with lunch at Medhurst Winery, with the most delightful fisherman’s platter. This consisted of a smoked trout dip, smoked salmon, white anchovies,a mixture of fresh and toasted bread slices,steamed potatoes tossed in a light french dressing,saut√© red cabbage, and a small pot of yoghurt sauce with capers.

This got me thinking of which elements I had enjoyed and why.

1. Eating starts with visually looking at the plate – arrangement of colour is crucial – both chefs started with beautiful fresh ingredients and placed a mixture of young food items together.They also didn’t put too much of any one item on this plate.

2. Texture is critical with these dishes. The crunch was provided by the vegetable slices and the crunch of the bread both fresh and toasted. At the same time the salmon is soft.

3. Sweet and savoury are also important. The acid from the lemon or vinegar in the dressing helps balance the smoked salmon and the trout. The capers also help balance the sweetness.

4. Fresh salad leaves or vegetables provide another flavour layer and texture. Try tossing freshly steamed vegetables into a salad dressing for extra flavour.

5. The salmon and trout are salty but nicely balanced by mayonnaise,sour cream and yoghurt dressings.

Check this salad recipe by Martha Stewart

Crunching the crackle


Steve Olivia and I had a delicious brunch with new mates Dom and leslie. Dom followed a long evening of drinking beer with a large plate of Pork Belly and crisp potato cakes finished with a dark balsamic glaze. He was really enjoying the crunch of the crackle !!

I am often asked in my kitchen by customers how to get great roast pork with crackle.

Here are some helpful hints.

1. Choose organic pork – female young pork is best – it will have more fat and better flavour.
I believe some of the mass producers are breeding leaner animals,which may not produce good crackle.
2. Some cuts will produce better crackle simply because they carry more fat. Choose leg, belly or loin.
3. Ask your butcher to score the skin – in one direction and relatively deep.
4. Unwrap the pork – pour boiling water over the skin – this will shrink the skin and improve the pork for crisping.
5. Leave the pork open in the refrigerator – this will dry out the fat and skin and will aid in the cooking process.
6. Rub the scored skin with salt and oil.
7. If you marinade the pork leave the skin part sitting out.
8. Roast at a very high temperature like 220c for at least 30 minutes.

Check this recipe out<a href="http://
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