Thursday, 26 April 2012

potato & cactus omelette

This is my favourite kind of breakfast.

Once upon a time I craved fluffy hotcakes soaked in maple syrup, but these days I wake up craving eggs and chilli.

Any Mexican-style breakfast is a win for me, but those doused in the tangy heat of salsa verde really gets me out of bed in a hurry.

I love this omelette because it combines the soft vegetal flavours of the cactus with starchy potato and chillies.

Too good. Too easy. Drool*.

Tortilla de Patata y Nopal (Baked Potato & Cactus Omelette)

Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2.


2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup chopped prepared cactus
1 cup diced, cooked potato
4 eggs, beaten
1 green chilli, finely chopped
¼ cup (60ml) sour cream or natural yoghurt
Salsa verde, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve


1. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and sauté and until softened.

2. Add cactus and sauté for a minute or so.

3. Add potato and fry until heated through.

4. In a bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs, green chilli, salt and pepper.

5. Spread the potato and cactus evenly across the frying pan, then pour over the egg mixture.

6. Cook for 3-5 minutes until set, then finish off under the grill if preferred.

7. Serve with generous lashings of salsa verde.

*That “drool” was for you, Fabio.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

passionfruit slice

This recipe made me swoon.

I had never made passionfruit slice before, but it’s an Aussie favourite. Rightly so, given all the backyard passionfruit vines. Passionfruit will grow out of control if you don’t keep a close eye on it, but I couldn’t care less given the amazing fruits it yields.

My favourite types of passionfruits are panamas. They are much bigger, yield more pulp which is a vibrant golden hue and ultra fragrant, and they also seem to contain less white fibres to battle with when extracting the pulp.

Purple passionfruits are prettier though, and still damn tasty. These are the ones I ate the most growing up, as two different homes I lived in had purple vines in the back yard. In fact at one house the vine was right next to the pool so all you had to do was hop out of the water, rip one off the vine, jam your stubby finger inside and suck out the pulp as you jumped back into the pool. Kids, eh.

These Aussie childhood memories are fitting for the recipe I made after receiving a basket of passionfruits from the Passionfruit Industry of Australia.

Passionfruit slice: a simple biscuit base smothered in a tangy, fudgy topping.

The base is pretty standard in every recipe you'll come across, but I decided to add a little vanilla to enhance the flavours. And for the topping, I doubled the usual passionfruit quantities to ensure you’re hit with the intense flavours you’d expect from any passionfruit dessert.

Jonas thinks it’s one of the best cakes he’s ever eaten. Even better than my Easter egg friands, which he loved.

SK from my office told me it was one of the best cakes she’d eaten in a very long time, and when my colleagues swooped back for seconds it confirmed the ooohhs and aaaaahs were not just politeness.

If Jonas has his way, I’ll be making this recipe again and again and again and again.

And again and again.

Passionfruit Slice

Anna’s version of an Aussie classic. Makes approx 30 squares.

100g (½ cup) caster sugar
85g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
125g melted butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
395g can sweetened condensed milk
250g passionfruit pulp (about 12 passionfruit)*
62ml (¼ cup) fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)


1. Preheat oven to 180’C / 350’F (or 160’C / 320’F fan forced). Grease a slice tin and line with baking paper.

2. *First prepare the passionfruit by scooping out the pulp of all but one passionfruit. Blitz in a food processor or blender to release the pulp from seeds, then strain through a fine strainer to yield juice. Mix in the pulp and seeds of the last remaining passionfruit (now weigh it to see you’ve got around 200-250g).

3. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, coconut, vanilla bean paste and melted butter to form a dough.

4. Press mixture firmly into the prepared slice tin, to create a “cookie” base.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden on edges. Allow to cool.

6. In another bowl, mix together the passionfruit pulp, vanilla essence, lemon juice and condensed milk, as well as the additional passionfruit pulp.

7. Pour over cooled base then bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until just firm.

8. Bring to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely set.

9. Cut into squares for serving. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

daikon braised in mirin & miso

My husband once had a crush on Alicia Silverstone. During his military service he spent long periods guarding supply stations with his comrades, watching Clueless over and over again. It’s an odd movie choice for a bunch of soldiers, but then again I suppose pretty girls in short skirts tick all the right boxes for bored, lonely boys.

What I hadn’t realised about Alicia Silverstone is that she’s a vegan and has written a cookbook called The Kind Diet. OK, so she “co-wrote” it with macrobiotic nutritionist Jessica Porter, but without Silverstone’s celebrity backing, utter dedication to veganism and regular recipe tweeting, I might never have discovered this amazing dish.

Boiled chucks of radish doesn’t sound like the most appetising meal, but it truly is fantastic.

The slabs of daikon soften, but they keep a toothsome texture and complex flavour that’s almost meaty. I defy omnivores not to raise their eyebrows in surprise at how wonderfully hearty such a simple vegetarian dish can be.

In order to meet one of my 2012 Food Challenges (cook with daikon), I adapted this recipe quite drastically, deciding to turn the braising liquid into a much richer concoction adding miso soup, rice vinegar and sesame.

Daikon braised in Miso & Mirin

Anna’s adaptation of a recipe from The Kind Life by Alicia Silverstone. Serves 4 as side.

1 large daikon radish
20g red miso paste
60ml (¼ cup) mirin
40ml (2 tablespoons) light soy sauce
20ml (1 tablespoon) rice vinegar
20ml (1 tablespoon) white sugar
3cm x 5m piece dried kombu
5ml (1 teaspoon) sesame oil
1 tablespoon, toasted sesame seeds


1. Slice the daikon into 2cm-thick rounds

2. Place them in a large saucepan, or lidded pan, in a single layer

3. Add water almost to cover the daikon

4. Add the miso paste, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar and kombu

5. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce to very low, cover pan and simmer daikon for 30 minutes or until almost all liquid has been absorbed

6. Sprinkle braised daikon with sesame oil and sesame seeds

Sunday, 8 April 2012

chocolate “easter egg” friands


Easter is a time to eat lots of chocolate. For non-religious folk like me, it’s a holiday for relaxing around the house and catching up with friends.

Our Grandpa Hipster pal, Fabio, recently moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. One might say it was love at first sight as their eyes met across the party, and within minutes of introduction they were already in a passionate embrace.

So now that they’re living together, I invited Jonas and myself over for Easter Sunday lunch. Fabio relented to my bossy imposition, but he neglected to tell me that their apartment doesn’t have a kitchen.

IT DOESN’T HAVE A KITCHEN. How is that even possible?

After going into convulsive shock, I pulled myself together and set about baking these little chocolate friands to share with the happy couple.

Part housewarming gift, part Easter gift, part pity-the-fools-that-don’t-have-a-kitchen gift.

Apart from being made with intense dark chocolate (70% cocoa), I hid a little Easter egg in the centre before baking. In this case I used two types of “cream filled” eggs, mint and strawberry, which worked as decent substitutes to the caramel eggs I would have preferred but failed to find.

Chocolate “Easter Egg” Friands

Based on a recipe by Jeremy and Jane Strode. Makes 12 friands.

175g butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped
6 egg whites
125g almond meal
250g icing sugar, sifted
30g cocoa, sifted
80g wholemeal flour
12 filled mini Easter eggs


1. Preheat oven to 190C. Grease 12 friand moulds.

2. Melt butter and chocolate.

3. Lightly whisk egg whites.

4. Add melted chocolate and butter and stir.

5. Add almond meal and icing sugar and combine.

6. Add flour and cocoa and mix well.

7. Spoon half the mixture into moulds, add an chocolate Easter egg then top with remaining mixture.

8. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

9. Rest for five minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

quince crumble tartlets

This morning I awoke to the new time. An extra hour to sleep in, but one less hour of sunshine.

It’s Autumn, my favourite time of year.

While most of my readers in the northern hemisphere are anticipating the warm weather that’s on its way, I’m getting equally excited about autumn.

The leaves turning beautiful shades of amber, ochre and crimson. The chill in the air that gives you the excuse to wear ribbed tights and wool scarves. The wonderful harvest fruits and vegetables that inspire a change of cooking in the kitchen.

Quinces are one of those harvest foods. Their pretty yellow skins and fragrant aromas reminding you that cool weather is on the way. Beautiful.

And another cold weather treat is warm desserts. I adore warm desserts.

Jonas is happy with a scoop of ice cream, but my favourite desserts are always warm.

This is the perfect autumn warm dessert using aromatic roasted quinces, prepared as individual fluted tartlets with crunchy crumble tops.

Eat warm, with lashings of vanilla custard.

Quince Crumble Tartlets

Anna's very own recipe. Makes 8 tartlets.


1 batch of shortcrust pastry (or use frozen)

3 quinces
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon (or cassia) quills
1 vanilla bean, split

1 cup cream
1 cup buttermilk
1 vanilla bean, split
3 eggs
½ cup brown sugar

½ cup ground almonds
½ cup wholemeal flour, sifted
65g cold salted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup Demerara sugar


Bake quinces
1. Preheat oven to 180’C.

2. Peel and core quinces, reserving scraps. Cut each quince into eight pieces..

3. Scatter quince scraps along the base of a baking dish, place segments on top.

4. Nestle cinnamon quills and vanilla between pieces, then scatter with sugar.

5. Top with 1 cup water, then bake in oven until soft (about 1 hour). Allow to cool.

6. Slice quince into thin pieces so you can layer them into tarts when ready.

Prepare tart shells
7. Ensure oven is still at 180’C. Grease and line 8 tart cases.

8. Roll out pastry and place into tart cases. Prick with fork, line with paper then fill with baking weights.

9. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then remove baking paper and weights and bake another 7 minutes.

Make custard
10. Bring the vanilla bean and cream almost to the boil over a medium heat.

11. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and sugar in a bowl.

12. Remove vanilla from cream and pour over egg mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from scrambling.

13. Return the remaining custard to a sauce pan and over a medium heat, stir until it has thickened.

Make crumble
14. Chop butter into small cubes.

15. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl then rub the butter pieces into the flour with your finger tips until the mixture resembles crumbs.

16. Line quince slices in the base of the pastry shells, then gently pour custard over quince slices until it reaches the top of the pastry case.

17. Top with crumble mixture, then bake in over for 40 minutes or until crumble is browned.

18. Cool slightly. Serve with warm custard.

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