Showing posts from 2009

Raspberry & Chocolate Ganache Tart

When I first met my husband his interest in fruit was limited mainly to watermelon and bananas. Considering the wealth of fruit that is available in Australia, it was hard for me to understand how a person could be so exclusive in their enjoyment of what I consider to be the best part of summer eating.

Yes – watermelon is definitely a great summer fruit! As a kid I had a book called “Summer” which concluded with a broadly smiling girl eating a whopping big wedge of watermelon. But summer, to me, says mangoes, nectarines, peaches, cherries, lychees and passionfruit. None of which my husband would choose to eat, or even put into the shopping basket. Yes, he’d eat apples – a staple in winter. But I couldn’t even get him to eat strawberries, simple and yet exotic, in my book.

So imagine my surprise, several years into our marriage, when my husband comes home from work and announces he now likes raspberries! How, I enquired, did this come about? He worked at a training company that s…

Roasted & Stuffed Turkey Breast Fillet

As a child, my mother was very consistent in the way she went about preparing the feast we enjoyed each Christmas. In Australia, Christmas falls in the middle of summer, yet Mum always persisted in baking the traditional Christmas roast. I remember the oven going in the kitchen all day, while my parents made rare visits to the neighbours for a snifter of sherry, my sister and I playing cricket or totem tennis with the kids in the neighbourhood, pausing regularly to make an outfit change (we were always given about four complete outfits as part of our Christmas gifts).

I loved those Christmases for their predictability. Mum only let us put the Christmas tree up the week before Christmas Day – I suspect it was her way of keeping a lid on the mania. We’d sit at the table and cut squares of red and green cellophane, and wrap bundles of Christmas lollies and nuts still their shells, and tie them to the tree as little gifts for kids who visited on or around the big day. Mum would make a…

Vanilla Buttermilk Pancakes

I’ve often said that chocolate is one of the two original and best flavours on the planet. What I don’t often mention is that vanilla is the other.

I recently discovered, much to my surprise and delight, that vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant from Madagascar. In fact, the vanilla planifolia vine was transported to Madagascar from Mexico (and other French colonies) in the early 1800s. The vanilla plant is actually a vine, usually found winding itself around a bamboo plant or coconut tree, which grows an orchid-type flower. In Mexico, the vanilla flower is pollinated by a bee. Outside of Mexico, the bee cannot survive, so pollination is undertaken by human hand – a laborious process which is responsible for the incredibly expensive price of vanilla bean pods. The mature pods are harvested from the vine and dried to reduce the moisture content, thereby producing the distinct vanilla aroma we all know and love.

I never stopped to question where vanilla came from before. Yet lik…

Greek Almond Biscuits

When I was about 13 years old, my mum was invited by a work colleague to attend the Christening of her God daughter. This was a big deal because both she and the baby being Christened were Greek. If you know any Greeks, you'll know that everything they do is BIG, and the Christening was no exception. Despite us being significantly removed from the family of the baby, we were none the less welcomed with open arms to a joyous family occassion for something like 400 people.

We attended the Christening ceremony at a Greek Ordthodox Church, which was an event in itself. While the structure of the building was hideous on the outside, the interior was incredibly ornate. The ceremony was entirely spoken and sung in Orthodox Greek - so we couldn't understand a word of what was said. And everyone in the church was clearly very Greek. We fifth generation Aussies looked distinctly unexotic next to everyone else. The God Mother stood proud as punch at the front of the church, holding the ba…

White Chocolate Ganache

I don’t think there is an occasion more joyous than a wedding. Of course, once a wedding has taken place, many more joys follow, like the arrival of a long awaited baby. But it all starts with a wedding, and I find weddings to be chock-filled with hope.

If you’re lucky, you only ever need to have one wedding – although some people have more than one, if not several! So the trick to getting your fill of wedding joy is to know lots of people who are planning on getting married.

As a cake baker, I am getting to participate in weddings, baby showers, naming days and even funerals (although not too many of those, thank goodness)! I consider it a privilege to be invited to create cakes and cupcakes for these landmark occasions in people’s lives. We (my darling husband and I) always try extra hard to come up with something special that fits the occasion and the people who we’re baking for. And what we’ve discovered is trying extra hard allows us an opportunity for continuous improvement. When …