Month: January 2014

Zoe’s Birthday Cake


Zoe turned 16 this month and on the day she broke her arm falling from a horse. This is been a challenge finding things to eat that can be eaten with a fork!

Fortunately when it came time to go out and celebrate we could not go wrong enjoying great freshly made pizza’s at Cafe Altro in Wiliamstown, followed by a delicious chocolate and banana cake at home covered in ganache and malteser’s 

Ganache can sometimes be fiddely to make but there a few keys to success.

1. Use good chocolate – remember cooking chocolate is generally made with animal fat.

2. I like to put my chocolate into a food processor and pulse it into a fine crumb.

3. Warm the cream or bring it to a boil.

4. Pour warm cream into the chocolate with the motor running. This will give you a very smooth ganache.

5. Ganache will sit at room temperature and thicken, this is then suitable to pour over the chocolate cake.


Dining Fun in Maldon


This weekend Steve and I sat with fellow one thousand other diners at the Maldon Twilight dinner. It was beautifully set out in the main street of Maldon with tables of eight or ten.

Fortunately the 40c day had mellowed into a comfortable 28c with a subtle breeze – just perfect for a dinner event in the main street of an historic town.

Local winemakers provided wine for sale and food was catered for by the local restaurants. It was such fun to eat out with so many others and as a food professional I was impressed by the quality of the food provided.

One Clever food producer sold Paella and another had those wonderful Paella pans full of couscous with another two pans with a yummy chicken tagine alongside lamb shanks.

I loved the idea to make wet dishes – these both had great flavour and hold so much better than dry dishes such as the schnitzel I spied at another stall.


Rock Lobster


A quick visit to the Supermarket brought a snap purchase of some Western Australian Rock Lobster – a bargain price of $15 dollars for one. Figured I couldn’t go wrong ,given the need for busy supermarkets to turn their stock Over.

Steve and I were home alone for dinner so I  thought we could cook the lobster with some chili and I got out my trusty cooking bible – Stephanie Alexanders the Cook’s Companion.

The recipe I opted for was lobster with black bean and chill – just yum.

The key to cooking seafood is

1. Buy when preferable seafood that is not cooked (it will be pink if cooked) This way it will not be overcooked.

2. Cook at a lower temperature and for short cooking times. A lobster may only take six to ten minutes.

3. Be careful not too over flavour your seafood. The black bean and garlic with chilli were a good partner without being too strong.IMG_0232

Here is a similar  recipe


Small Bites for Picnics


Last Week Olivia’s dancing pal Ivy turned 18 and hosted a party come picnic at the Botanic Gardens. Fortunately the rain and wind cleared and it was a glorious sunny outing.

Ivy’s mum Donna asked me to bring some food along and it made me realise what a challenge picnic food can be to choose and prepare, let alone transport and yet still make it look appetising.

I started with good old chicken sandwiches – it is important that they are not too big in size – i opted for fingers with no crusts – easy to eat at the picnic (there is nothing worse than those nasty dry crusts)

The key to making a good chicken sandwich is

1. poaching chicken breast or use a barbecued chicken – chop flesh into fine dice

2. Bind with a good mayonnaise – if you don’t want to make one buy a good brand with egg.

2. Use lots of chives and a good squeeze of lemon juice ,lemon rind – you may also like celery and walnuts for crunch.

3. Crusts dry out in the fresh air when sitting around so I like to cut them off.

4. Fresh Bread is a must.

My next menu item were Rice Paper Rolls – vegetarian with lots of fresh vegetables and the most important part lots of fresh herbs for flavour – i like a mixture of mint, Vietnamese mint and coriander.

Lastly a lunch is beautifully finished with pieces of small fresh fruit cut to size and with the summer harvest of fresh berries – just perfect

Happy Birthday Ivy