shopshoot - the design twins

20 Mar 2017

Sydney traffic is pretty awful so I avoid using the car and use public transport as much as I can. It does mean most weekends I don’t stray too far from my home.

Last Sunday I decided the time had come to do some furniture shopping. I’ve been looking for an armchair for 2 years now and I’m yet to find ‘the one’. Into the car I went and drove over to Precinct 75 in St Peters where the Design Twins shop is located. 

They’ve moved premises since my last visit so I needed to hunt around the precinct a bit before finding the showroom. 

They're waiting on a shipment, so they didn’t have the chair I was looking for but that didn’t stop me from roaming around the store. I asked if I could take a few photos to share with you and once I had the okay, I snapped away.

This is what I found inside - an eclectic assortment of furniture and homewares.

The Design Twins also fabricate concrete pots.

I loved this light fitting.

There is plenty of artwork on display as well.

Another view of the store.

and finally, the beautiful bouquet you may have seen on my instagram account.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the Design Twins. If you'd like to visit you can find them at 1.04 75 Mary Street St Peters NSW.

See you all again next week with some baking.

Bye for now,


semolina and fig tart

13 Mar 2017

It's fig season in Sydney. As the season is so short as soon as figs appeared in the fruit shop, I bought a few and took them home with me.

Normally I'd use them to make a fig frangipane tart but on this occasion I decided to adapt the semolina and raspberry tart recipe from Ottolenghi, the cookbook. I used my own pastry recipe but adapted the filling recipe a little and of course swapped out the raspberries for figs.

Unless the figs are perfectly ripe, they're not very sweet so I added a little sugar to the cut figs before baking.

I increased the sugar in the filling a little but still found the tart wasn't quite sweet enough for my taste buds, so I've adjusted the quantity of sugar a little.

Here’s the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C.

Semolina and Fig Tart Recipe – makes a 16-18 cm tart (filling from Ottolenghi - The Cookbook)

110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and if necessary, a small amount of cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. You won't need the whole amount of this dough for the tart. Wrap the pastry in cling film and freeze for another day.

Lightly brush a 16-18cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a tiny amount of oil and set aside. Make sure you have a clean work surface. Dust it with a bit of flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out your dough. You should have a disk that is about 2-3 mm thick. Once you have reached the right thickness, cut the pastry into a circle large enough to cover the tin and most of the sides comfortably. Carefully line the tin and patch up any holes with excess pastry if necessary. Once you lined your tin, trim the pastry with a sharp knife, so you have a nice edge, about 3-4 cm high. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Cut out a circle of baking parchment large enough to cover the base and the sides of your cake tin. Place inside the case and fill up with baking beads or dry beans or rice so that the sides of the pastry are totally supported by the beans and won't collapse during baking. Blind bake the case blind for 25-35 minutes or until it is very light brown. Remove from the oven and take out the beans of rice (you can keep it for future tarts).

80g unsalted butter
180ml cream
350ml milk
75 - 90g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste
60g semolina
1 egg
6 small figs, quartered
1 tbs sugar
50g apricot jam (optional)
icing sugar, for dusting

To make the filling, put the butter, cream, milk and 75g sugar and vanilla paste in a saucepan. Place the saucepan onto the stove and bring to the boil. Let it simmer while you slowly whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking until the mix comes back to the boil and thickens up like porridge. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg. Taste the filling at this stage and if not sweet enough, add a little more sugar.

Pour the semolina mixture into the pastry case. If you use a 16 cm tin you won't use all the filling, you'll use about 2/3 - 3/4 of the filling. Decorate the top with some of the quartered figs allowing them to show on the surface. Lightly sugar the figs before baking. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing the tart from the tin.

Put the apricot jam in a small pan with a tablespoon of water and bring to the boil. Strain it through a sieve and brush over the tart. Finish with the remaining figs and dust with icing sugar.

Now I'm itching to make this again but this time with the raspberries!

See you all again next week with a little shopshoot.

Bye for now,


spring vegetable tart

6 Mar 2017

I just love ricotta cheese. I recently bought a kilogram of it so needed to find ways to use it. I used it to make a pasta sauce; made a cake with it and even made some ricotta gnocchi. Whilst looking through my copy of The Cook and Baker, I saw a recipe for an asparagus, pea, leek and ricotta tart. I needed to buy leeks and asparagus but everything else was either in the fridge or in the cupboard.

Now I made the tart shell using a pastry recipe I've used many times in the past. I started out using the filling recipe in the book but found the proportions didn't work for the tin I used, so I rejigged the recipe and changed the technique a little.

Let's be clear, it might be called a tart but this is a quiche and excellent lunch time fare served warm with a salad.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. It's a little time consuming to make but I think it's worth it.

Spring Vegetable Tart - adapted from the asparagus, pea, leek and ricotta tart recipe from the Cook and Baker
1 cup (150 gm) plain flour
Pinch each salt and baking powder
60g butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons iced water
Squeeze lemon juice

20 g butter
1 leek, pale part only thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus
½ cup frozen peas, defrosted
4 tbls grated parmesan
50 g baby spinach leaves
2 eggs
75 g fresh ricotta cheese, drained
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch nutmeg

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter in lightly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the egg yolk, water and a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle over the flour stirring with a knife to form a dough. Add a little extra water if necessary. Knead lightly on a floured board to bring together, then wrap the pastry and chill for 30 minutes or until required.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to fit a 10 x 34 x 2.5 cm loose based rectangular tart tin. Roll the pastry into the flan tin pressing the pastry well into the flutes leaving a small overhang. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes before trimming the pastry level with the top of the flan ring. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry shell with a piece of baking paper and pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice. Blind bake for 20 minutes then remove the paper and baking beads and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the pastry is dry and golden. Cool a little.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and saute the leeks for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Trim the asparagus. Cut the tips and set aside for garnishing and chop the stems into small pieces. Mix together the asparagus, the peas, the cooked leek and 2 tbls of parmesan.

Place the spinach leaves in the base of the tart, nestle the leek and asparagus mixture amongst the spinach. Garnish with the asparagus tips and sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese.

In a medium size bowl combine the eggs with the ricotta cheese and mix until smooth. Mix in the milk and cream; add the nutmeg and season to taste. Place the tart shell on an oven tray then pour in as much custard as you can without the mixture spilling over the edge.

Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 180°C. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the filling is set and the top browned.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

When spring vegetables are back in season, I hope you get a chance to make this. 

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,


pineapple and ginger upside down cake

27 Feb 2017

Growing up, upside down pineapple cakes involved rings of tinned pineapple filled with red glacé cherries. I didn't think the cake looked very appealling, so I've never had a slice before. While sorting through some of my old food magazines I came across this Donna Hay magazine recipe for a pineapple and ginger upside down cake which used fresh pineapple. 

I liked the sound of that so I bought a pineapple at the fruit shop then played around a bit with the recipe upping the quantity of the butter, eggs and the pineapple. I ran out of syrup to pour over the cake, so I've also increased the quantity of the pineapple and ginger syrup.

The cake rose a bit too high so I trimmed the top of the cake and ate the still warm from the oven trimmings. The trimmings were delicious so this would make a lovely dessert, served warm from the oven.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. If you'd like to make a 23 cm cake, just double the ingredients but the baking time will stay the same.

Pineapple and Ginger Upside Down Cake, adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, issue 73. Serves 6

110 g unsalted butter, softened
⅔ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
¼ cup almond meal
¼ cup buttermilk

Pineapple syrup
450 g pineapple (approx ½ pineapple) cored and thinly sliced lengthways.
½ cup caster sugar
1½ cups water
4 cm piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced.

To make the pineapple syrup, place the pineapple, sugar, water and ginger in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the pineapple for 10 minutes or until its tender. Carefully remove the pineapple slices and set aside to cool slightly. Return the syrup to the heat and cook for 6-8 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove the ginger and discard then set the syrup aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a 17 cm cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. If you use a springform pan, you'll need to seal the exterior of the tin with some aluminium foil to stop the syrup from leaking. Layer the pineapple slices over the base and pour over just enough of the syrup to cover the pineapple, reserving and setting aside the remaining syrup. Finely chop the remaining pineapple to make ¼ cup.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition, until well combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and ginger into a bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to combine. Add half the flour mixture to the cake batter. When combined add the remaining flour mixture and enough buttermilk to make a soft batter then fold the chopped pineapple into the cake batter.

Carefully spread the cake mixture over the top of the pineapple and smooth the top. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until just cooked when tested. If the cake is browning too much, cover the top with a piece of baking paper. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, return the reserved syrup to a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Invert the cake onto a platter (trim the base level if necessary) and carefully remove the tin and baking paper. Serve the cake with the hot syrup and cream if desired.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


apricot and almond muesli

20 Feb 2017

I'm a creature of habit so most mornings  for my breakfast I have muesli topped with fruit and yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. When I go shopping for my favourite muesli, which is apricot and almond, frustratingly it's often sold out. I've tried other combinations but that's the one I like.

The last time my muesli was unavailable (last week to be exact) I looked at the back of the bag of muesli I had in the cupboard and realised I had most of the ingredients in the pantry so I decided to recreate the muesli at home.

I took out my calculator and reverse engineered the muesli and this is what I came up with.

If you're wondering about the rice flour, it's to keep all the dried fruits separate and it seems to stop the apricot pieces from softening the oats.

If you'd like to try making your own muesli at home, here's the recipe for you. Feel free to use whatever dried fruit you prefer and 
I'd love to hear your favourite combinations. 

Apricot and almond muesli - makes approximately 750 grams

125g dried fruit (55 g sultanas, 45 g chopped dried apricot, 25 g currants)
½ tsp rice flour
480g rolled oats
90g bran straws
30g natural almonds
18g sunflower seeds
17g coconut flakes

In a large bowl combine the dried fruits with the rice flour. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix to combine. Store in an airtight container. 

See you all again soon. 

Bye for now,


chocolate salted caramel brownies

13 Feb 2017

Valentines' Day kind of snuck on me this year. I often make brownies for Valentine's Day but what could I do to make them different this year? Whilst looking through my copy of 'The Cook and Baker' I spied a recipe for chocolate salted caramel brownies. The search was over. 

I pinched their idea but used my own chocolate brownie and caramel recipes. This recipe only uses half the caramel but that means leftover salted caramel for the cook and that can't be a bad thing now, can it?

In honour of Valentine's Day I pulled out my heart shaped cookie cutter to make a heart shaped template then sprinkled the brownies with cocoa powder.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Makes 16 pieces inspired by this recipe from The Cook and Baker by Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa

Salted Caramel
1 x 395 g (14 oz) tin condensed milk
30 g (1 oz) butter
45 g (1½ oz) golden syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes

½ cup plain flour
1½ tbs cocoa
125 g unsalted butter, chopped
185 g dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

Cocoa powder 

For the salted caramel
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 10 x 20 cm (4 x 8 inch) loaf tin with baking paper.

Empty the condensed milk into a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 6 - 8 minutes, stirring every minute until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the butter, golden syrup and vanilla extract and stir well until smooth. Pour the caramel into the lined tray and sprinkle with the sea salt. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin, then when cold cut into small squares. You'll only need half the caramel for this recipe

For the brownie

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease and line the base and sides of a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) tin with baking paper. Sift the plain flour and cocoa into a small bowl then set to one side.

Melt the butter and chocolate either in a double boiler or in 30 second bursts on high in a microwaveable bowl. Stir until melted and smooth, then set aside to cool a little. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla then fold in the sifted flour and salt and beat well until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin. Dot evenly with pieces of caramel and bake for 25–30 minutes until just set. Allow to cool completely. When cold cut into 16 pieces using a sharp knife.

If desired decorate with sifted cocoa powder using a heart shaped cookie cutter. 

Happy Valentine's Day.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,

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