Thursday, 1 November 2012

You are in for a treat – this is Sam’s chilli con carne recipe that he has spent years perfecting (well, that might be just a slight exaggeration). After making rather large amounts of this for his birthday party this year, everyone has been requesting the recipe. So (only a few months late) here it is! And, as it’s his recipe, of course he gets to name it (for those who don’t know: ‘Cabby’ is his nickname ;) ).

This is one of my favourite meals – it’s so rich, meaty and spicy… and as an added bonus I don’t have to cook it! It’s also got some hush-hush secret ingredients, including a smidge of cinnamon and some dark chocolate…

As Nigella Lawson would say, “Eat it and weep”.

Serves 4.

1.5 tsp ground smoked paprika
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chilli
2 tsp powdered beef stock
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

1 tbsp light flavoured oil (we like grapeseed)
2 onions, diced
350g beef, minced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp tomato paste
1.5 cups red wine
1 400g tin diced tomatoes
2 400g tins red kidney beans
15g dark chocolate
steamed rice and sour cream, to serve

Mix together spices, powdered beef stock, sugar and salt.

Heat oil in a large pan. Once hot add the onion and cook until translucent. Add beef and garlic cloves and brown meat. Add spice mix and cook for one minute, until fragrant.

Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add red wine and simmer for 2 minutes, before adding the tin of diced tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add tins of red kidney beans and dark chocolate and cook for five minutes more.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , — Katrina @ 12:53 pm
Feathers and Cupcakes
Monday, 17 September 2012
moroccan-ish soup with beef, chickpeas and cous cous

After having a cold (or any time really), this is one of my favourite soups – it is fresh with herbs, spices and lemon, it has just a teensy bit of meat bulked out with earthy chickpeas, and it has the filling yummy-ness of couscous.

2 tbsp oil (I like grapeseed)
150g beef mince
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or 1 red chilli, finely chopped)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
875g canned chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 litre vegetable stock
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp chopped mint
50g couscous
3 handfuls of baby spinach
about 2 tsp sugar
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper
natural yoghurt, to serve

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add beef to the pan and brown quickly. Remove beef and place on kitchen paper to drain.

Stir onion into pan and cook until soft and browned, adding the garlic and chilli when the onion is almost cooked. Add the cumin, coriander and allspice and stir for one minute.

Return beef to the pan and add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and chickpeas. Stir well then cover the pan and simmer for around 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley, mint, baby spinach and couscous into the soup, cover and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for five minutes. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

I like to serve mine with natural yoghurt on top, with some extra herbs.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , — Katrina @ 5:24 pm
Feathers and Cupcakes
Monday, 6 August 2012

A couple of weeks ago we had one of those crisp, sunny winter days – you know, the ones that are utterly gorgeous? – so we decided to visit the Botanical Gardens for a picnic. One of my favourite things to eat on a picnic (or any time really) are these brownies. Velvety and intensely chocolatey, studded with crunchy hazelnuts and scented with the fresh citrus notes of orange, these brownies are one of my all-time beloved recipes.

Of course, you can take the basic chocolate brownie recipe and do whatever you like with it – plain chocolate brownies are certainly more-ish, or perhaps you prefer walnuts to hazelnuts? Sometimes I make two lots of mixture, bake the brownies in two cake containers, sandwich them with whipped cream and strawberries, and drizzle with a chocolate ganache – it certainly makes a fun birthday cake…

This recipe was inspired by the brownie recipe in Tessa Kiros’s wonderful book Apples for Jam – the hazelnuts and orange are my addition.

Makes around 9 squares

175g butter
150g dark chocolate, broken or chopped
30g cocoa powder, sifted
3 eggs, separated
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 cup (around 70g) hazelnuts, roasted, cooled in a tea towel and rubbed so the dark brown skins are removed
zest of one orange

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Butter and flour a square baking tray (mine is about 21×21 cm) that is at least 3cm deep – I also like to line mine in baking paper for easy extraction.

Put the butter in a heatproof bowl that has been placed over a small saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). When it begins to melt a little, add the chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted.

Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Leave to cool a bit.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. In another large bowl, wish the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until creamy, then fold in the flour. Add the cooled chocolate mixture, mixing well, then add the hazelnuts and orange zest. Carefully fold in the egg whites, until everything is thoroughly mixed.

Put the brownie mixture into your prepared baking tray and cook for around 25 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. The brownie should still be quite moist in the centre with a crunchy top and edges. Leave it to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I often think that Monday nights should be used for nothing more than a glass of wine, a home cooked meal, a spot of television, a bath, book and bed. Oh, and a sticky dessert glistening with maple syrup wouldn’t go astray either.

That was (fortunately) my lot in life last night, and it was just what I felt like.

Armed with the best intentions for, oh years, I’ve been meaning to make tarte tatin. And who wouldn’t really? All that gleaming caramel, flaky pastry and luscious apples…

But as we all know, the chasm between having the best of intentions and actually actioning intentions, is as large as my ever-increasing cookbook collection. Which is to say: nearly insurmountable. Not that I am complaining, mind you, about The Cookbook Situation – I will not be swayed from my firm belief that it is impossible to have too many books.

But for some reason last night I found myself thinking of a recipe for tarte tatin spotted in a Donna Hay magazine a while ago, and I decided that – thanks to some crisp apples picked up on a road-side stall in the Huon Valley on Thursday – today was The Day for tarte tatin making. And, wouldn’t you know it, I simply could not remember which issue it was in – even a desperate Google search provided no clues regarding the particular recipe I had in mind.

Fortunately this story has a happy ending, as you have probably surmised, owing to the photo of said apple tarte tatin in this post. Google came to the rescue, serendipitously providing me with a link to this Donna Hay tarte tatin recipe. Not the one that I was looking for, but this one, instead of requiring a partial zombie (it was post-work, you understand) to make a caramel, merely requires the baker to pour in some maple syrup – genius!

The most tedious part of the whole recipe is coring, peeling and chopping two apples – hardly strenuous work. Oh, and waiting for the baking time to finish, obviously, which can be highly strenuous.

If you haven’t yet tried tarte tatin and you’d like a simple little dessert to add to your repertoire may I suggest this one? It may not be strictly authentic French fare but it is undeniably good.

Serves 4 generous serves

25g butter
1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup
2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (thick-ish is fine)
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and cut to a round that will snugly fit the inside of your oven dish

Preheat oven to 200°C. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over high heat (NB: to save on washing up, I like to use an oven-proof pan).

Add the maple syrup and apple and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the apple is just tender.

If you are using an oven-proof pan drape the pastry over the top of the apple and maple syrup mixture. Otherwise, transfer the apple and maple syrup mixture to an oven-proof container before draping the pastry on top.

Bake for around 15 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Allow to stand for 2 minutes. Use a serving implement, loosen the pastry if necessary before turning out.

Serve with cream or ice-cream (I read a suggestion somewhere that honey and lavender ice-cream would be nice, but vanilla is also divine).

This recipe was adapted from Donna Hay magazine, issue 52, p. 134.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Recipe from At my French Table by Jane Webster.

Last Sunday I found myself with an absolutely free afternoon, so I decided to fill it with baking a new recipe that I’ve been desperate to try all year. At my French Table by Jane Webster is packed with gorgeous photographs, a heart-warming story and delicious recipes (one of my favourites is mussels with chilli, ginger and garlic).

Prettily plump, airy madeleines flavoured with a combination of honey and lavender? They’ve been calling my name ever since I read the recipe. The flavours remind me of a lavender ice-cream served with honey tuiles that I enjoyed on our honeymoon a few years ago. But (you know how it goes…) it has taken me ages to actually try making them. On Sunday, try them I did, and now I’m going to make them regularly – regular madeleines are certainly delicious, but these may just be a new favourite…

Although I’ve always felt that purchasing a madeleine tin was a tad silly (how often, I asked myself, am I really going to make madeleines?) every time I look at the delicately scalloped shape of the little cakes, I am always glad I purchased the tin.

Apart from their innate prettiness, madeleines also have the endearing quality of being relatively quick to prepare – there’s not too much difficulty involved in making the batter, baking time is quick, and there’s no icing to worry about (just a sprinkling of icing sugar is all that is required). They’re so simple that it is entirely possible to quickly whip up a batch of these for an impromptu afternoon tea!

Makes approximately 16

100g butter, plus extra for preparing the madeleine tin
2 tbsp honey
3 eggs
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour
2 unsprayed lavender sprigs, flowers pulled off and finely chopped
plain flour, for preparing madeleine tin
icing sugar, for dusting


Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Prepare the madeleine tin by greasing with butter and then dusting the moulds with plain flour.

Melt butter and honey in a small saucepan over low heat and put in a medium-sized bowl to cool. Once cool, add eggs one at a time, then add the caster sugar, soft brown sugar and vanilla extract. Sift in flour. Stir in lavender flowers into the mixture.

Spoon 1 tbsp of batter into each madeleine mould (don’t be tempted to over-fill!) then bake in oven for 10 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool. Dust cooled madeleines with icing sugar before serving.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Monday, 4 June 2012

Hollandaise recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s column in delicious. magazine, December 2006/January 2007.

We celebrated a special friend’s birthday this weekend by hosting a brunch (poor fellow was finishing off assignments, so no time for a late night party for him)! I made hollandaise sauce with poached eggs and people could choose to have them Benedict, Florentine or with smoked salmon, and Jess made a delicious chocolate mudcake with strawberry coulis (birthday boy’s favourite).

This hollandaise recipe is Stephanie Alexander’s and it appears to be foolproof – if you have never tried making hollandaise sauce before, may I encourage you to give this recipe a try? It is flavoursome, velvety and creamy. Perfect as a no-fuss starter, served over asparagus (with chopped ham and sweet, slow-cooked leeks, as Stephanie suggests), or with fish and vegetables, or over eggs for the breakfast favourite, eggs Benedict or Florentine.

Before we start, let’s deal with the main potential problem you might face with this dish. The hazard of making hollandaise lays with the eggs overheating, causing the sauce to split. Let me assuage your fears by telling you that this has not ever happened to me with this recipe, particularly because the sauce is not exposed to direct heat as it uses a double-boiler method (a bowl over a simmering saucepan). If you are still worried, Nigella Lawson has some advice I found heartening: just fill up your sink with cold water, and if at any stage you start to worry that the sauce will split, take the bowl off the saucepan and plunge it into the cold water and whisk like mad. If your sauce does curdle, don’t panic – just whisk in another egg yolk.

Serves 4, as a main, with a bit of sauce left over

Ingredients – Hollandaise sauce
225g butter
3 tbs white wine vinegar
3 egg yolks
juice of 1/2 lemon

Method – Hollandaise sauce
Melt butter gently and allow to cool a little (using really hot butter increases the chances of your sauce splitting). Put the vinegar in a small saucepan with a pinch of ground pepper and 2 tbsp water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until reduced by half. Transfer this liquid to a small heatproof bowl that fits comfortably over a saucepan half-filled with hot water (don’t let the bowl touch the water).

Add the egg yolks to the vinegar mixture and whisk well over a moderate heat until thick and foamy. Whisk in the melted butter, a little at a time, still over the heat. When all butter has been incorporated you should have a bowl of thick, creamy sauce. Add lemon juice and season with salt. Remove the saucepan from the heat but leave the bowl over the hot water.

Just in case you have never poached eggs before – here is how I do it.

Ingredients – poached eggs
Enough eggs for everyone – I usually serve 2 per person
a splash of white wine vinegar (about 2 tsp)

Put around 2 inches of water in a saucepan and add the white wine vinegar (the vinegar helps the egg white to coagulate). Bring the water up to a simmer.

Crack the first egg into a little bowl or cup.

Using a spoon, swirl the water so that a mini-whirlpool appears. Slip the egg into the centre, and quickly add the others (I find that around 4 eggs in 1 batch works well). Set an egg timer for 3 minutes (this makes eggs with runny centres – for hard centres cook them a little longer).

While the eggs are cooking, lay a couple of sheets of paper towel in a bowl and get out a slotted spoon. Once the eggs have finished cooking, use the slotted spoon to take out the eggs, one at a time, and lay them in the paper towel lined bowl.

I like to serve mine with wilted spinach, toast, smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce, with a twist of cracked pepper – enjoy!

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Recipe is from the Donna Hay Simple Essentials: Fruit book.

This is one of the jams we enjoyed last week with Devonshire tea (the other was my favourite – blackberry jam). Strawberries and limes happened to be in season at the same time here so I made the jam with lime juice instead of the more traditional lemon, although lemon is also delicious in the recipe too… Note this recipe usually results in a soft-ish set.

Makes approximately 6 cups

1.5kg strawberries
1 kg sugar
3/4 cup lime juice


I like to sterilise my jars and lids as soon as possible – wash them in hot soapy water, then rinse in hot water. Place them on an oven tray in a cool oven, and turn oven to 110°C. Once the temperature has been reached leave them in for 10 minutes (I just leave the jars in the oven until my jam has reached setting point). Cool the bottles to warm before using (if jars are too hot the fruit may rise to the top).

Before you start cooking, pop a small plate in the freezer (you will use this to test for doneness later).

Wash the strawberries, hull and cut in half. Place the strawberries, sugar and lime juice in a large, heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes or until thickened. While the jam is simmering, use a large metal spoon to skim the foam from the surface.

To test whether the jam is ready, place a spoonful of jam on the plate that’s been chilling in the freezer. Run your finger through the jam. If the line remains, the jam is ready. If it doesn’t, continue cooking and test again at five minute intervals.

Carefully pour the hot jam into hot, sterilised jars.

I like to put the lids on the jars, and put them back into the oven (still at 110°C) for another half hour. Some people recommend instead using a water bath to fully sterilise jars, but personally I have found that for jams (due to the high sugar content) the oven method works just fine – feel free to use whichever method you feel comfortable with.

The jam will keep for approximately 6 months.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Monday, 7 May 2012

Yesterday Sam and I decided to have a lazy Devonshire tea at home with freshly made scones, home-made jams, whipped cream and loose leaf tea. It was so enjoyable we have vowed to do it again soon…

Here’s my recipe for scones, which comes from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, a book I turn to again and again for reliable baking recipes.

Makes about 12-15 scones.

3 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
60g butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 tsp vinegar added)

Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.

Sift flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and mix in the milk, adding more milk if necessary to make a soft dough.

Knead, handling the dough as lightly as possible (to prevent the scones from becoming tough), and roll out on a lightly floured board to 2cm thickness. Cut into rounds the size you like (my cutter is 7cm in diameter).

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush the tops with a little milk. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Transfer to a clean tea towel, and cover until required. Serve warm with butter or jam and whipped cream.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Tuesday, 3 April 2012

We got home last night from a little trip away to Melbourne to celebrate the wedding of some lovely friends. After spending nearly the whole day travelling (stuck in airports) this is what I made when we got home at around 6pm, feeling far too exhausted to go to the shops (but at the same time feeling like something home cooked).

This is just what happened to be in my pantry at the time, but I would have loved to (and usually do) add some chopped bacon and a couple of sticks of celery. Feel free to add whatever you happen to have in your pantry!

Serves 4

20g butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
2/3 cups dry white wine
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 tsp of dried mixed Italian herbs (it you happen to have fresh basil at home, omit this ingredient and instead stir through a small handful of fresh basil at the end)
750g vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
lots of freshly grated Parmesan, to serve


Place the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once butter has melted and is sizzling a little add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until translucent.

Add the arborio rice to the pan and stir to coat the grains of rice. Add the white wine to the pan and simmer until nearly absorbed.

Tip in the diced tomatoes and simmer until nearly absorbed, stirring often.

Pop the bay leaves into the pot and, with your fingers, crumble the mixed Italian herbs in to the mixture.

Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, waiting until each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next one.

After the last ladleful of stock has been absorbed it is ready to eat! Spoon into bowls and scatter with the Parmesan cheese.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
Feathers and Cupcakes
Monday, 26 March 2012
chocolate french toast

Lazy Sunday morning breakfast in bed yesterday was this chocolate-filled French toast from Bill Granger’s Holiday, and I was lucky enough to have it cooked for me – very spoilt indeed.

Serves 2

1 egg
1/4 cup plus scant 1 tbsp milk
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 slices white bread
50g chocolate (I prefer dark and Sam prefers milk – either is delicious so choose your favourite)

Combine and whisk the eggs, milk, caster sugar and salt in a flat-ish dish. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.

Dip two slices of the bread into the egg mixture and turn over until they are completely coated. Put them in the frying pan and sprinkle each one with half of the chopped chocolate. Soak another two slices of bread in the remaining egg mixture and put on top of the chocolate bread in the pan to make sandwiches. Press lightly with a spatula to seal the edges.

Cook for about 3 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

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Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , — Katrina @ 8:30 am
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