Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kρητικός ντάκος, or how to eat Cretan barley rusks

Now that summer is officially here, there's the chance you'll find some tomatoes that actually taste the way tomatoes should. I'd be lying if I told you I've ever tasted a tomato here in Australia that comes close to the ones we eat in Greece; there's something about the Mediterranean sun that works magic on the fruit, because they're always sweeter and more fragrant than tomatoes here - and very often they're meatier with less water. But if you're growing your own or happen upon some at the farmer's market that have that intoxicating smell (you do sniff tomatoes before you buy them, right?), this is a beautiful way of eating them.

Dakos is a particular type of paximádi (dried bread or rusk) and is a speciality of the island of Crete. While paximádi are eaten all over Greece, dakos are particular in that they're made with stone-ground barley, imparting a rich nutty flavour and giving the rusks an addictive robust texture. The rusks are twice-baked until very, very dry and need to be rehydrated with sprinkles of water and then brought to life by the sweet spicyness of tomato juices and fresh olive oil soaking through. You might be surprised by how good this simple combination is, unadorned - but if you want to take these to the next level (of course you do), crumble on a creamy feta or chevre and a sprinkle of Greek oregano. So simple, but really a magical combination that becomes more than the sum of its parts. If you're in the mood for garlic and don't have a date that night, add a little - very finely minced - to make it a little more punchy.

You can buy Cretan rusks at most good Greek delis; they usually come packaged in plastic or cellophane bags. My favourite are Manna brand ("Το Μάννα") and have a green and white printed label, but ask the staff as there's often quite a number to choose from and more seem to be imported all the time. Wetting the rusks might seem a strange thing to do, but what you end up with is never soggy - only pleasantly toothsome and porous enough to soak up all the flavours you pile on top. Don't try to eat them dry, as you'll seriously risk losing teeth. Kinda like the time Richie and Eddie ate the Special K past its sell-by. Watch and learn, kiddies.

Dakos - and rusks generally - are very good for tossing into salads and are perfect for brown bag lunches. I often cut a salad in the morning then rehydrate the rusks 15 minutes before lunch. When they're soft enough, I break them up and stir them through the rest of the salad before adding my dressing. If summer lunches have to be eaten at work, this is a fine way to improve the day. At home though, I prepare them as below.

Kρητικός ντάκος/Cretan barley rusks with tomato
Makes 1

1 paximádi/rusk
1 ripe tomato, skinned, very finely chopped or grated
your best extra virgin olive oil
a couple of slivers of garlic, finely minced (optional)
a sprig of fresh Greek oregano or a couple of fresh basil leaves (finely sliced)
dried Greek oregano
crumbled creamy feta or goat cheese, to taste

1. To rehydrate the rusk, run it under a running faucet, rubbing it all over so that it seems quite wet. You can also submerge rusks in a bowl of water for half a minute or so. Set aside to drain and soak through.

2. In a smal bowl, combine tomato, fresh oregano or basil leaves, garlic (if using), salt to taste and a generous glug of olive oil. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes so that the flavours combine.

3. Some people like their rusks more wet, other more crunchy - you decide. I feel mine's ready when it has a little give but doesn't leak water when I press into it. Top the rusk with the tomato mixture, add the cheese and rub the dried oregano between your fingers as you sprinkle it on top, to release its flavour.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

kittehs with busy owners

I'm so busy it hurts. Like, really hurts. My brain thumps, my back aches, my knees are stiff and there is a severe shortage of cake in my home. People tell me that this is what the last part of writing your PhD is supposed to feel like. I hope they're right about the 'last part' bit. And I hope I don't die before I get to the very last bit of this last part.

In lieu of a recipe, or anything food or even sewing related, I thought I'd resort to the blogger fall back option and post a picture of my cat. But actually, I think a Quincy post is severely overdue. I mean, just look at her.

She makes me very, very happy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

best basic pancakes & pancake faq

A recipe for the ‘best pancakes’ is not the easiest thing to find. This isn’t because there aren’t a million recipes out there claiming that coveted title – there really is that many out there. Rather, I think the problem has to do with the fact that people want different things from their favourite pancake recipe.

When I was a kid, pancakes were something between American-style hotcakes and crepes; they were tender but not fluffy, rollupable but not fragile. We had them with lemon juice and sugar. Sometimes at other kids’ houses they were rubbery and bland and spread with jam I didn’t much care for, but lord knows I ate them anyway. I still like pancakes this way – the way my Mother used to make them – sometimes. But somewhere along the line I discovered the joy of thick, fluffy American-style stacked pancakes, and it pretty much changed what I wanted in a pancake forever.

For something made with such a simple batter, you’d think the basic pancake would be easy to whip up and that everyone would have this down pat. But since converting to the pleasures of the stack, I’ve encountered dozens of incarnations – both good and bad, at people’s homes and out at cafes – that would suggest otherwise. I’ve had cake-like versions, so big and puffy you want to crawl into the middle of one and have a nap, and airy versions with a sparse, drier crumb. I’ve had pancakes with apple grated into the batter, resulting in a delicious moist, fritter-like cake and I’ve had others that took the idea of the ‘simple batter’ without a grain of salt, quite literally.

While there’s room for all kinds of pancakes in this world, what I want is a go-to recipe that produces consistently fluffy, tasty pancakes with a moist and toothsome texture. They should be porous enough to soak up whatever you pour over them, but they should also taste good unadorned. They should be made with stuff that is (usually) already in your fridge and, they should be easy enough to whip up on a Sunday morning after a few too many wines the night before.

I tried around six recipes that used different techniques to achieve the fluffy, tender texture I was after. I tried whipping and folding in egg whites, using buttermilk, leaving batters to rest for an hour and overnight – even adding soda water. Of course the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook had the answer all along – and it was so, so simple: buttermilk + minimal mixing = tender, awesome pancakes. When I say minimal mixing, I mean there’s still lumps and bumps in that batter when you pour it into your greased pan. There’s science here: the less you mix the batter, the less chance the gluten in the flour has to develop that chewiness that is so good in bread, so bad in pancakes. So knead, knead, knead your bread, lovelies – but mix your pancake batter like a kid with no patience. And pour on syrup like there’s no tomorrow.

Best basic pancakes

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, pancake FAQ by me

*This version of recipe is for when you don’t have buttermilk on hand; if you do, simply replace the milk with buttermilk and disregard the lemon juice
Makes around 12 pancakes

2 cups milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, melted
butter, to grease pan

1. To make buttermilk, stir lemon juice into milk and set aside to thicken.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk egg with melted butter, then add buttermilk and whish gently until just combined.

4. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and pour in buttermilk mixture. Whisk very gently until just combined; mixture will be lumpy and uneven.

5. Heat pan to medium hot and add a small knob of butter. Pour 1/3 cup batter into pan. When bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, flip pancake to cook other side. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing pan when necessary.

Pancake FAQ

What should I cook my pancakes in?

The best pan for cooking pancakes is something nice and heavy, like a cast iron skillet. This is because it will distribute and retain heat evenly, cooking your pancakes beautifully every time. I use an enameled cast iron skillet and find it needs very little greasing. Just make sure you heat the pan adequately and test before you start cooking, as they can take a while to get to the right temperature.

Can I add things to this recipe to make other kinds of pancakes?

Why, yes – yes you can. I’ve had great success with this recipe and the following variations: add ricotta, blueberries or both (either in the batter, or sprinkled on once poured into pan); make wholemeal/wholegrain pancakes – simply replace one cup of plain flour with wholemeal; add slices of banana to poured pancake before flipping; add grated cheese to batter for a crispy, crispy surface. This is a very adaptable recipe, so try whatever your heart desires.

What’s the best way to keep the cooked pancakes warm while I finish cooking the rest of the batch?

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook has this covered, too. I use their suggestion here, which is to preheat your oven on a low setting and put a wire cooling rack over a baking tray/sheet in it. When each pancake is done, place it on the rack in the oven, trying your best not to overlap with other pancakes. This keeps the little babies warm and stops them from loosing their fluffiness and being flattened under the weight of one another.

How long will the batter keep?

The batter will keep a couple of days in the fridge, should you wish to use any remaining the following morning or for dessert. Pour into a jug and cover before placing in the fridge.

Can I freeze cooked pancakes?

Surprisingly, yes! Ok, so maybe it’s only a surprise for freezer-dummies like me. To do this, let the cooked pancakes cool to room temperature before wrapping well (double-wrap will help prevent freezer burn) in plastic wrap and popping in the freezer. ATK says they’ll keep well for a week here and I can’t say any different, cause all mine got eaten within the week. To reheat, defrost in the fridge overnight then warm in a moderate oven for around 5 minutes.

Where can I read more on pancakes?

Have you gone mental? Ok. Deb at Smitten Kitchen has a great guide to pancakes. I’d go there first.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

a toast to tueday evenings: the cointreau teese

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged more recipes for drinks here. You see, I love a drink. Like, really love. In fact, more than one drink. Multiples, many, lots. Liquor is my drug of choice – and I’m not afraid to admit it. Recently, Santa Claus (knowing this about me) came round with a sack full o’ gifts, including most of a bottle of Cointreau that he said wasn’t to his tastes. Just quietly, I think Old Saint Nick is more of a beer man. So I politely obliged and promised I’d put the triple sec to good use. And boy, did I ever.

Here’s a tip: if you’re looking for interesting but relatively simple recipes for mixed drinks and cocktails that will put a bottle from your cabinet to good use, look up the relevant spirit’s website. There are treasures, my friends… treasures! To wit: see the homepage of the world's most delicious gin.  Or, this gorgeous violet-infused tipple that comes courtesy of Dita Von Teese via the Cointreau website. Is it not the prettiest thing you’ve seen on a Tuesday evening in forever?

Usually I steer clear of drinks in strange colours. The times I haven’t have usually ended in bruised knees and/or a dirty big headache. But French violet syrup and orange liqueur? I had to have this in my mouth asap. Earlier today I happened to be in Carlton to meet a friend for coffee and walked past La Parisienne. Intrigued by the escargot plates in the window, I thought: better take a look, non? But I forgot about those darling plates in the window as soon as I saw the Monin display.

Sure, this syrup looks like it’s had some of those moody mauve blooms dipping their toes playfully in it, but amazingly – gorgeously – it also tastes as if a whole posy has been hanging out in the bottle. It tastes the way violets smell, and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Don’t believe me? Come over. Or get a bottle yourself.

The floral promise of this prettiest drink might make you feel unsure. It did me. But imagine that heady bouquet grounded in the strong, warm base of the orange liqueur and juiced up a little with some apple. Then, the whole lot is brought to life with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice before being all shook up with ice to hold the perfume perfectly still. Put on some Barry Adamson (or whatever sexy, sleazy records your friends have been pumping through your stereo) and take a sip. It’s pretty magic – which is important in a cocktail, I think.

So, what do you think? Flowers in drinks? And, flowers (specifically violets) in what else?


Cointreau Teese
Recipe from
Makes 1

40ml Cointreau
20ml Apple juice
15ml Monin violet syrup
15ml Fresh lemon juice  

Purple bloom, for garnish

1. Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker over ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a purple-kinda flower. Drink. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

out to eat!

We're a third of the way through Spring and it's cold, grey and rainy. I'm reading lots, writing heaps and daydreaming about entertaining outdoors when the weather becomes fine. Too busy for recipe today, but here's some cute and relevant bits from my collection, for your daydreaming pleasure.

Got your outdoor eating kit ready? Betty Crocker's Outdoor Cook Book (1961) will help you out!

Betty does it again. Make-your-own sandwich buffet, summer dresses, hollowed-out watermelon fruit salad bowl, soda pop, G&Ts. Yes, please.

Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book offers hints for eating outdoors and appropriate barbecuing outfits.

New on the wish list: cotton summer dresses with halter-necks and full skirts, matching espadrilles, pineapple, more vintage picnicware, new picnic rug.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Sorry kittens. Sore arm, can't cook. Talk soon. Lexi.x

Thursday, September 8, 2011

retro recipe revamp: quesillo de piña con la menta

Sorry for the lack of posts round these parts, but the last fortnight has been crazy busy. I hope this Venezuelan pineapple and mint flan makes up for it.

Hey, even if you don't like pineapple, or mint, or (god forbid) flan, how could you not love the vintage cookbook this week's recipe came from? Allow me to introduce you to the authorised British edition of Latin American Cooking, released in 1970 as part of the 'Foods of the World' Time Life Books series, a cookbook filled with wonderful full-page colour photographs and historical and geographical information about the foods of Latin America. And the people that eat them. Check this out. 

Cool kids partying in Peru, 1968

Kitty cats round the buffet in Rio, late 60s.

A fancy Columbian family about to tuck into a lunch of fried plantains and a disturbingly-decorated piggy.

I don't think I need to tell you that I love this book.  So again, it was hard to decide what to make. Despite its retro aesthetic, it's actually full of all kind of interesting recipes for food that's something close to "authentic" Latin American cuisine; there's step-by-step pictures to help you make tamales and tortillas and an in-depth section on cooking parrillero, or Argentine BBQ. There's also this handy guide, in case you didn't know how:

But seeing as I've been under the weather this week, I made the decision not to drink tequila and instead to make a pineapple flan with bitter caramel atop a firm but delicate custard of eggs, condensed milk and pineapple juice - and I decided to infuse the milk with fresh mint, just for a bit of a lift.  I poured the caramel and custard into individual darioles and reduced the cooking time by about half. 

While the end result is not quite as silky as a custard made entirely from milk or cream, the punchy bright flavours of the pineapple and mint more than make up for it and inject a little summertime spritz into a classic dessert. I'm thinking this dish would provide the ideal finish to a Latin American summer BBQ; hot weather, cold, strong cocktails, people dancing to bossa nova on the stereo and a pineapple mint flan. I think I just planned my birthday party. 


Quesillo de piña con la menta (pineapple flan with mint)
Adapted from Latin American Cooking (1970)
Makes 1 large flan serving 6 - 8, or 7 small dariole-sized flans

For the caramel:
200g caster sugar
6 tbs water

For the custard:
1 tin condensed milk (395g)
1 sprig of mint
3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice (I used the retro-friendly tall Golden Circle tin)
3 tbs sugar

mint sprigs, to serve

1. To infuse with mint, pour condensed milk into a small saucepan and add 1 sprig of fresh mint. Heat the milk over very low heat, being careful not to burn, until the mint wilts and the mixture has taken on its flavour and fragrance, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

2. To make caramel, combine caster sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and swirl gently until sugar begins to dissolve. Heat the mixture over medium heat, swirling (not stirring) so that the sugar dissolves evenly. Let the mixture bubble away until it becomes a gorgeous dark golden colour (like tea) and takes on a heavenly caramel smell. Remove from heat quickly. Be careful as the mixture gets very, very hot and can burn instantly once the colour starts to develop. 

3. Being very careful not spill the mixture (and burn your hands off), pour the caramel into the bottom of your mould/s. (If you want to, using a folded tea towel or oven mitts, you can pick up the mould and swirl the mixture round and up the sides - I didn't bother with my mini-flans.) Set aside to cool slightly. 

4. Heat the oven to 325F/170C and put your kettle on to boil. To make your custard, beat the eggs and extra yolks until well combined and creamy. Remove the mint sprig from the cooled condensed milk and slowly add it to the eggs along with the pineapple juice and sugar, beating gently all the while (the mixmaster was great for this). When well combined, strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps and pour into mould/s. 

5. Place the mould/s into a baking pan with high sides and gently slide this into the preheated oven. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come half-way up the sides of the mould/s. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. When cooked, remove flans from water and set aside to cool, before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. 

6. To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge and sides of the flan/s and dip the bottom of the mould briefly in hot water. Place your serving plate upside down over the mould and invert flan. If it doesn't budge, give it a little tap on the bench and it should slip out. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

a little bit of sewing and a giveaway winner

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get onto this, but this week has been insanely busy! I sat at my desk the other day and wrote all your names on little bits of paper, highlighted them in pink, folded them up and tossed them into my keep cup and stuck my hand in to pull out just one. And it was Oona's! Which is so great, because it was just her birthday, did you know? Also, she's one of my friends from the blogosphere who lives in New York, so hopefully these little trinkets can provide a little post-Irene cheer.

There ain't no 'random number generator' on this blog, cause I just don't like the way they look. But why is Oona's name sitting on a copy of a promo poster for the film Orgy of the Dead (1965)? Well, because that's the kind of thing that is laying about on my desk at work, that's why. One day I'll tell y'all what I'm writing my PhD on, but for now, I'll just congratulate Oona and thank you all so much for reading my little blog. Really, thank you!

Oh - and I'll show you the little (and I mean little) bit of sewing I've been doing in my "spare time" this week:

Pretty cute, huh? My friend Whitney named them Skunkity-skunk, Hoots and Lucas the Hedgehog; "they're all British", she says. OK! They're members of a little set of finger puppets I've made for my friend Jane's little girl who just turned one - special birthday! I hope she likes them. I had planned to design my own critters, but work got the better of me and I turned to etsy for a pattern to whip these up with. This one came from Floral Blossom and was only $5. It was speedily emailed to me as a pdf, I printed it out and made one puppet every night until I had a whole little gang of them. You can buy your own here. The only real change I made was to stitch every detail on, rather than use glue. I like the effect this achieves and it's probably safer if little one decides to stick a puppet in her pie hole. I'd forgotten how much fun working with felt can be. Of course now tempted to make a whole bunch of owls and an Agent Dale Cooper, but for now, must return to Orgy of the Dead. Not reluctantly, either.


Monday, August 22, 2011

retro recipe revamp: cinnamon scroll cake with fresh raspberry frosting

I'm so excited about this little project; I reckon I spent like, 47% of my time last week thinking about what to make next. That's a lot of time, when you're meant to be finishing a PhD. Unfortunately, all of the rest of the time I was thinking about my thesis; this didn't leave much room for anything else. Oh well. Sorry Martha Stewart.

I'll tell you what though, it was worth it. This week's retro recipe comes from one of my little McAlpin's Test Kitchen Recipe booklets, of which I have a couple. They're not dated, but the Mixmaster in the test kitchen picture is the same 1950s model that I have at home and judging from the ovens and stoves, I'd say we're looking at the mid 1950s. You want to see what this test kitchen looks like - trust me.

Dita Von Teese, eat your heart out! Oh, I guess she already did. I just love the set up here: not only can the audience see how to use McAlpin's flour to make all kinds of goodies, but they can marvel at the pristine white cooking-lab coats the demonstrators wear. This little booklet cost 1 florin (or 2 shillings) at the time, which is equivalent to around $2.90 today, according to the Reserve Bank's pre-decimal inflation calculator (!). I guess that makes these little treasures the equivalent of a modern budget cooking publication like Woolworth's goodtaste magazine ($3.95), only it's filled with around 175 recipes for baked goods. Which, of course, made it difficult to decide what to make. I was tempted (?) by the Wholemeal Savoury Tongue Squares, but decided in the end to go with what had caught my eye early on, the Cinnamon Scroll Cake with Pink Frosting. So on Saturday morning, I got to work.

This is basically a coffee cake, flavoured with cinnamon and coffee essence, with a gorgeous pink swirl running right through. The Test Kitchen tops this marvel off with a frosting flavoured with raspberry essence that is tinted pink. I realised this week - with ensuing shame - that I had never made a marble cake before, or indeed anything 'swirled' or 'marbled', so it was this that I was most excited about. I decided to go with the cake recipe mostly as it was originally written; I only swapped the coffee essence for some espresso powder and added a little more milk, because the batter seemed a little thick. The resulting was light and moist, with just a pretty whisper of cinnamon and coffee flavours. And yes, swirling pink batter through coffee-coloured batter with a knife was as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.

The real excitement in the end though, was the frosting. I kept an eye out this week for raspberry essence but the closest I came was Queen's Strawberry Essence. This is just didn't seem right. And actually, I realised, I wanted a bright and punchy raspberry flavour to liven up a relatively plain coffee cake. So, I used fresh raspberries in my frosting. And Quincy nodded in her small puffy way, the sun came out and the birds began to sing.

Another excellent retro recipe vamp experiment. I'd do this for a living, I reckon.


Cinnamon Scroll Cake with Fresh Raspberry Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from McAlpin's Test Kitchen Recipes (circa 1955) 
Frosting recipe adapted from

For cake:
230g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
115g butter, softened
2 eggs
7 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
a few drops of rose (or cochineal) food colouring
1 quantity of Fresh Raspberry Frosting (recipe below)

1. Heat oven to 180C. Prepare a 7 inch square cake tin by greasing and lining bottom with baking paper.

2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a medium bowl.

3. Add the espresso powder to 1 tbsp of the milk, mix to dissolve and set aside.

3. In the large bowl of your stand mixer, or a larger bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Sift in the   dry ingredients, add 4 tbsp of milk, and mix at medium speed until well combined. Don't worry if your batter looks a little dry and lumpy at this point.

4. Add the eggs and 2 remaining tbsp of milk and mix to make a smooth batter.

5. Pour or spoon 1/4 of the batter into a medium bowl. To this smaller quantity, add a few drop of food colouring. Beat to incorporate. Pretty!

6. To the remaining mixture, add the dissolved espresso mixture and the cinnamon. Beat to combine.

7. Pour or spoon the cinnamon batter into your prepared cake tin. Add the pink batter to the top of this and with a butter knife, swirl the pink mixture through until it looks pleasantly marbled.

8. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes (or until a cake tester poked into the middle comes out clean; mine took 45.)

9. Sit on a cake rack to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove cake from tin. Allow to cool completely on rack before frosting.

For frosting:
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
55g butter
1/4 - 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
a little milk to loosen, if needed

1. Heat raspberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon to break up. When the berries are no longer whole and look more like a coulis or sauce, strain to remove the seeds. Return the seedless liquid to the saucepan and look a little longer until reduced by nearly half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2. In the small bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer, beat butter a little. Add 1 cup of icing sugar, 1/2 tsp lemon juice and raspberry puree. Beat until well combined, then add remaining icing sugar. If the mixture seems too stiff, add the extra lemon juice. Check again and if you still want it softer, add milk a teaspoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

3. Put on your cooking-lab coat, and spread artfully onto your cake.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

hello my new favourite dinner! you're vegan, even though i'm not

I spent an hour or so trawling through Angela's back catalogue of posts the other day and for some reason, become obsessed with making this quiche. But because I've been trying to limit my consumption of pastry, bread and nutella (my three favourite food groups), I wondered if I could turn it into a quiche of the "impossible" kind; that is, a quiche without pastry. Angela reckoned it could be done - and boy, can it be done!

Angela calls this recipe Versatile Vegan Quiche - and it really is versatile. This was a spinach and mushroom version, spooned straight into the tin, with some extra cashews substituted for the nutritional yeast. It took just five minutes longer in the oven than the original version, possibly because it was a little more wet. But I could tell from the delicious smell in the kitchen in that final five minutes that it was going to be good. This quiche has a lovely nubbly texture and a sweet nutty flavour that can be pushed in almost any direction. It is slightly delicate, but cuts pretty clean after a few minutes resting while you make a little salad. You should definitely make this salad:

This is a Creamy Kale Salad, based upon a recipe I found a little while ago on It was the dressing, I think, that drew me to it initially; you simply add olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and the flesh of an avocado to your food processor and after a few seconds, you end up with this gorgeous cream. As far as dressings go, it's quite thick, and so is best suited to more robust greens like kale. So you've got your kale, stemmed and torn into pieces. Then you add super-thin slices of peeled beetroot, slivers of crisp, sweet apple and some fresh oily walnuts. And you end up with one of the best salads I've had in ages. 

Once you mix through the dressing, it all looks gloriously messy and tastes sort of like a walfdorf salad, only more punchy and nutritious. I dropped a giant pile of it next to a slice of Angela's quiche and it was one of those evenings where I looked down at my plate and thought, goddamn this is a good dinner. And I thought that again with every bite I took. 

P.S. Kids! Don't forget to enter the Sanjou giveaway. You've got until Sunday evening. They're real pretty, trust me. x

Creamy Kale Salad
Adapted from recipe at
Serves 4 as a side

For dressing:
1 ripe avocado, halved with seed removed
2 tbsp white wine vinegar (I used white "balsamic"
1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper

For salad:
around 1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into pieces
1 beetroot, peeled and sliced thin with a mandolin
1 apple (a sweet, crisp variety), cored and cut into thin pieces
1/3 cup fresh walnuts (toasted if you like - I didn't)

1. To make dressing, add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until creamy. Taste and adjust as required.

2. Toss salad ingredients to combine. Serve with dressing on the side.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

mini mid-week giveaway: gorgeous Sanjou thread cards

Hi friends. I mentioned in my last post how much I love collecting vintage bits and pieces. I told you about my clothing and cookbook collections, and I mentioned my buttons. But actually I love all vintage haberdashery and just can't get enough of old notions and gadgets. One place this has led me to is a little shop in Melbourne called L'ucello. If you love old buttons, silk ribbons and and velvet flowers from old Parisian milliner's shops or just gorgeous interiors and visual merchandising, you should really visit.

Last time I was there, I came across some beautiful French haberdashery by Maison Sajou, a vintage brand that was relaunched in 2004. The bits and pieces are just stunning; there's gorgeous detailed embroidery scissors and cases, thimbles, needle-threaders, lace-making bobbins and these sweet little thread cards in gorgeous Parisian designs (see above), perfect for winding up your bits and pieces of embroidery thread, or just to have around as a pretty nick-knack. I picked up one set for myself, but thought my blogging friends might appreciate the chance to have a set too?

The set that I'm giving away is made of six thread cards, each featuring the Eiffel tower in different colours. They're gorgeous! They do pop up on Etsy from time to time, and the exact set I'm giving away is this one here that sold a little while ago. They come in a sweet folded box and make gorgeous gifts - if you can bear to give them away!

This giveaway is open to readers world-wide; all you need to do is become a follower of this blog and comment below this post to let me know. Of course those already following can enter. Just leave a comment below here to say 'hello Lexi, count me in'! I'll draw the winner at 9 am on Monday morning (which will be Sunday evening for most of you folk o/s). Good luck!


The fine print: This giveaway is self-funded and has in not been sponsored by Sanjou or L'ucello. I love to support small, independent businesses though and encourage you all to visit L'ucello if you're in town.

Monday, August 15, 2011

retro recipe revamp: toad-in-the-hole with apple and thyme

I don't know if shows, but I collect stuff. Like, lots of stuff, of all different kinds. It isn't about completing sets of anything and it isn't about the chase. I just love old things - a lot. I have a bunch of salt and pepper shakers that I use as decoration, because the designs are so bonkers that you can't use them to shake seasoning out of. I have a giant old biscuit tin of vintage buttons. I love things - almost anything - made from old plastics. I think it drove my poor parents nuts when I was a teenager living at home, because beyond the door of my bedroom was a realm of perpetual chaos. I'm sorry about that, Mum and Dad.

But actually all the things I collect these days, I use in some way. I love my vintage dresses and sweaters, because I live my life in them. I love my vintage dressmaking patterns, because they're this portal into the past that I can look into for inspiration, or instruction. And I love my vintage cookbooks, but, I don't really get to use them very often. I've been thinking recently about how I might change this, but the answer was pretty clear.

One of my favourite bloggers, Casey at Casey's Elegant Musings, often shares pages from her collection of vintage magazines and books - and I love those posts. So I thought I'd share some of the wonders I come across in my own collection of recipe books. Some look delicious, some look ridiculous; there are many reasons I love my books. But I've decided, in the spirit of actually using the books, to try and revamp recipes (where necessary). The idea is to help translate some of these dishes into things we might actually want to cook and eat, without losing too much of their original appeal. Some I think will be easier than others, but I'm looking forward to the challenge!

So, first up, I've chosen a dish from what was probably the first vintage recipe book I become fascinated with: The Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book. My Mum had a copy in our cupboard and then I chanced upon another years later at a book fair. I picked it up and realised that I knew all the recipes and illustrations by heart, because I'd leafed through it so often as a child. It's full of wonderful recipes, great photos and illustrations - and every one of them features Golden Circle canned pineapple.

I'd been looking for an excuse to make toad-in-a-hole for a while. I mean, sausages baked in batter? Yes please! The Golden Circle recipe book has you add an entire can of drained canned pineapple to the batter; I couldn't quite bring myself to do this. But I did like the idea of a little bit of sweet fruit cutting through the richness of the pork sausages and moistening the batter. So I threw in some apple and added a little fresh thyme to make the batter a little more savory and moody. Then, 'why stop there?' I thought, so I replaced the milk with buttermilk and the full-sized pork sausages with Jonathan's chipolatas - and baked the dish in individual little pie tins. This is what mine looked like.

It was totally delicious. The apple did just what I'd hoped it would and the thyme lifted the batter to new heights. I'll totally make this again, perhaps though with gravy and company, served as part of a retro menu.

I think we're off to a good start...

*Please note: apologies if when you first visited the recipe wasn't here. It disappeared without me realising. All fixed now!

Toad-in-the-hole with apple and thyme
Adapted from The Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book (circa 1965)
Serves 2

butter, to grease
6 good-quality pork chipolatas
115 g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper
a sprig of thyme, leaves removed and chopped if necessary
1 egg
130 ml of buttermilk
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 6

1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Grease individual tins with butter. 

2. Cook pork chipolatas in a frying pan over medium heat until browned. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and thyme leaves until well combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk gently until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until combined. 

4. Pour batter equally into greased dishes. Top each with three sausages and squeeze a piece of apple between the snags, three each dish.

5. Pop into oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

olives with orange, rosemary, oregano and garlic

Making dinner for a friend last night, I wondered if I should blog any of the dishes I was preparing. In the moment I had that thought, I was peeling a long strip of orange peel to toss into my bowl of olives. Because preparing these is part of my weekly routine and is sort of this automatic thing I do after coming home from the market, I didn't realise that what I should write about are these olives, precisely. This is my favorite way to prepare olives.

I don't mean to cure olives from scratch; that's one thing that I just haven't had time to try, though I think about it often. This is just a simple preparation that will lift a tub of good, plain olives to a new level. I've never been one to buy pre-marinated olives; so often they seem overloaded with poor-quality dried herbs and flakes of stuff that cling annoyingly to the olives in a thick slick of poor-quality oil. I preferred a good olive plain, meaty and fruity - those ones that strike you during a meal like some ingenious use of punctuation when you're reading. Until I made these, that is.

What I love about these is that the clean, robust mouthfeel of the plump olive is preserved, but when you bite in, there's this wonderful aromatic explosion that happens. And it is led predominantly, surprisingly, by the flavour of the orange. Rosemary is a natural pairing for the citrus fruit, but oregano is very good too and here I've used both. Sometimes I add garlic, sometimes I don't. In short, you can add what you like here, as long as you try throwing in that long strip of orange peel - and then tell me what you think.

Lastly, some things I think are important in olives. People often comment how nice the olives I buy are - it's not a fluke! I'm fussy. It's worth sourcing good-quality olives - it doesn't necessarily mean they'll be more expensive or hard to find. Just ask to try one before you buy. I buy large Kalamata olives, out of habit and because I love them. My family is from Kalamata; this may have something to do with it. But as a rule of thumb, they shouldn't be mushy or really, really salty; instead you want meaty and robustly flavoured fruit. If you can't find large olives firm enough for your taste, try going the next size down: with less meat they often hold up better to storage and transportation. And finally, pitted or unpitted? Whole olives with their stone will win my heart every time, even if a pitted olive can sing like Jarvis Cocker. When the stone is taken out, brine washes right through the flesh of the olive, often leaving them really salty and destroying the fruit's texture. Besides, there's nothing more sexy than eating olives with your hands on a dinner date; as Jarvis says, "if you didn't come here to party, then why did you come here?"

Olives with orange, rosemary, oregano and garlic

1 small tub of large Kalamata olives (or whatever you prefer)
2 strips of orange peel
2 small sprigs rosemary
2 small sprigs oregano (or other fresh herb)
2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, but poked in a few places with the tip of your knife
3 tbsp good-quality olive oil

1. Mix all ingredients together gently and pop into the fridge. Leave overnight, tossing them about a little whenever you think of it (2 or 3 times). Voila.

Monday, August 8, 2011

vegan pumpkin & chocolate muffins

D'you know, this is my first ever attempt at vegan baking? I feel a bit silly about that, for a number of reasons: I know vegans, I read vegan blogs, I know some of my readers are vegan. What really pushed me to finally have a go though, was something I've been thinking about while putting together my forthcoming (mega)post on buffet dinners. When planning my last large-scale dinner party, I think one of the most useful things I did was to put some time into finding dishes that cater to nearly everyone. Your guests may or may not eat meat, or can't eat gluten, or are allergic to eggs, or puff up after prawns, but it's so important for the meal to be a shared experience - and it's harder for that to happen when there's a "special" plate in the back corner for the person who can't eat whatever else is on offer.

I'm so glad I finally got around to making these, because they're totally one of those treats that nearly everyone will enjoy - whether they're vegan or not. These muffins are fragrant with cinnamon and nutmeg, studded with dark chocolate and little oily bursts of walnut and are the colour of sunshine, thanks to the pumpkin puree. They're nice warm or at room temperature and they're super moist, without being wet (there's nothing I hate more than a stale, cakey, dry muffin: blerg). 

I've made a couple of changes to the original recipe. I upped the cinnamon, swapped the flax seeds for chia (super energy!) and I also dialed back the sugar. I didn't want anything too sweet and I thought they were perfect this way, but increase it back to the original 1 cup if your sweet tooth's calling out. And yes, I "made my own pumpkin puree": down under, I don't think there's much of a choice! If you're wondering what the best way to do this is, visit The Pioneer Woman for an excellent guide. 

Vegan pumpkin & chocolate muffins
Adapted from Caroline's recipe at Whipped
Makes 12

1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup mild-flavoured vegetable oil (grapeseed etc)
2 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup wholemeal flour
2/3 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
3 teaspoons raw sugar (optional)

1. Heat your oven to 180/350.
2. In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, water, oil, chia seeds and vanilla until thoroughly blended.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
4. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. If the mixture seems too dry, add a tiny splash of water. When your consistency is right, add the chopped chocolate and nuts.
5. Spoon into a 12 capacity nonstick muffin tin and top each with raw sugar if you're using it. 
6. Bake 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool in tin for at least ten minutes, then turn out onto a rack. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Oona!

Not long ago, I was invited to a virtual birthday party by the amazing Oona of oonaballoona. And... tonight's the night! Hi Oona! Happy Birthday!

Because Oona is one of the craftiest peeps on the internets, we were all asked to come along in something we'd made ourselves. I didn't have time to whip something new up, so decided I'd wear the 'Some Magnificent Ship Dress' I made last year. It's chilly down here, after all!

If you're a Mad Men fan, you might recognise the phrase that I've named the dress with: in one episode Roger Sterling is losing it over the way Joan 'glides about the office like some magnificent ship'. My Mum calls this my Joan dress, so I just extended the idea. I hope when I wear it, it prompts being objectified by handsome older men (?) (No - not really). Anyway, Oona: I've brought Cava, for a little something sparkly. Happy Birthday, lovely girl.


Friday, August 5, 2011

cob salad

One thing I like about growing up is that now my body seems to tell me more stuff in a language I can understand. It might say: "here is a skin rash, for you are stressed." Or, "we can't stop yawning because you haven't been taking your iron." Today, at the market, my body was rambling some crap about how all the fruit and vegetables looked so colourful and ripe and juicy and then I realised that it was trying to tell me that I needed to eat the biggest mofo of a salad ever, as soon as possible.

It wasn't kidding. A couple of restless nights, a handful of skipped breakfasts and a good number of whatever-I-don't-care meals (baked potato with salt, anyone? toast with jam? a piece of cheese?) left me with a definite good-stuff deficit. Not even my new fringe, favourite geeky glasses or watching DVDs could pep me up (ps please reassure me my haircut is ok, even though all I do is work and stay home on the couch so it doesn't really matter anyway. Thanks).

This then, was the opportunity to go all out and re-imagine that giant cob salad I ate in Brooklyn, NY for lunch one day on our trip. My body told me to do it, so I did it - and it was so, so good!

Cob salads are everywhere in the States, but I'd never come across the idea until I started reading American food blogs and food writing online. I loved the whole thing right away: a big, substantial salad with chicken, tomato, boiled egg, bacon and blue cheese that is characteristically plated in the most retro way, with little coloured stripes of all the ingredients resting happily atop a big mound of cos and iceberg lettuces and watercress. So as soon as I had my first shot, I ordered one at a little cafe in Brooklyn that served lots of fresh, organic food. The salad I got was already mixed up and a little less chunkily-conceived than what I expected, but the flavours were everything I wanted and I chowed my way happily through the entire giant bowl. Which is also what I did today. Make it and you'll see why. 

I used Deb's classic cob salad recipe from Smitten Kitchen and highly recommend you do this also, but I made the following changes and notes you might want to know about:

  • I made a (roughly estimated) 1/3 quantity of Deb's recipe for one big, big salad. Probably should serve two, but I ate it all.
  • swapped the iceberg lettuce for more romaine (Cos in Australia) and watercress
  • used purchased free-range BBQ chicken for more flavour and less prep
  • swapped Stilton for Adel Blue, because I like it. It's made by La Vera in Adelaide and I think of it as the cheese that was born after stilton had sex with gorgonzola. It's buttery and not too strong and mid-priced. 
  • used (unpeeled) cherry tomatoes, cause it's still Winter here

I can't wait to make this again and again as a light meal once the weather warms up. But now I'm off to juice a bag of bright, sparkling Navel oranges. Apparently I also need Vitamin C.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Very Vintage Christmas in July

When your house is full of people dressed in mid-century clothing and you've just eaten a buffet dinner and drunk too much champagne from Marie Antoinette glasses that don't hold the bubbles in, at around midnight, Bad Santa comes to visit. 

Coming soon: a post on what I learned about cooking a buffet dinner for 25 people and the real dangers of sitting on Santa's lap. But for now,


Thursday, July 14, 2011

pumpkin waffles with honey & cinnamon butter

I’ve been inside a lot recently. In my lounge room, surrounded by stacks of paper-clipped, stapled, scribbled-on photocopies. In my kitchen, highlighting passages with one hand, putting bread into the toaster with the other. In my bed, waking up to find my face stuck to a book. Comfy.

Quincy watches me, head cocked to one side, thinking: ‘She’s lost it. My owner has lost it. She’d better not forget my crackers.’

I haven’t been cooking, or even eating, really. I mean I eat, but I don’t know what. Half a pineapple my Mum bought me at the market, all in one go? A spoonful of peanut butter, standing at the fridge? 375g of corn kernels, straight out of the can? Yes, yes and yes.

I’m not depressed. But I am writing a thesis. This evening, for 45 minutes I pretended that I wasn’t. This is what happened:

Heaven is a place where your thesis is finished and it smells like pumpkin waffles with honey and cinnamon butter all the time.

I’ll be there soon.

Pumpkin waffles with honey and cinnamon butter
Adapted from THE recipe at Pumpkin Waffles Blog
Makes 6 waffles (not the Belgian kind)

For honey & cinnamon butter:

75 gm unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp honey

For waffles:

350 gm pumpkin, cut into chunks
50 gm brown sugar
25 gm corn flour
150 gm plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
¾ tsp nutmeg
2 large eggs
I cup buttermilk
55 gm butter, melted

1. To make honey & cinnamon butter, beat cinnamon and honey into softened butter. Cover and place in refrigerator.
2. For waffles, roast pumpkin pieces (with skin) until soft. Remove from oven, cool and mash.
3. Turn your waffle iron on to heat!
4. Combine dry ingredients. Start with brown sugar and corn flour, whisk to combine and break up lumps. Add remaining dry ingredients and whisk again.
5. Separate your eggs, putting yolks into a medium sized bowl. Set whites aside in a smaller bowl.
5. Add mashed pumpkin and buttermilk to egg yolks. Whisk to combine and set aside.
7. Beat egg whites (with your hand mixer or your mixmaster) until stiff peaks form and set aside.
8. Pour melted butter into the pumpkin mixture, whisking to combine.
9. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Try to avoid mixing! A few visible streaks of flour is fine.
10. Fold egg whites gently into mixture until combined.
11. Cook the babies! My waffle iron takes about two big soupspoons of batter for each waffle and I cook them for around 4 minutes. You may need to experiment a little though.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Here I Sit

Sorry, we're a little distracted at the moment with some important business, as you can see.

Everything's ok: we're listening to The Ronettes and we'll be back soon, with fresh pants and more love.

Lexi & Quincy.x

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10 wonderful things to do in Autumn (while eating earl grey tea and pear cake)

Isn't Autumn wonderful? I don't think I've felt so excited about it since I was a teenager who thought she hated hot weather (in fact, she loved it). The afternoons are warm and the evenings are cool, things begin to turn different shades of red and gold all around you and the light is just perfect. I've been spending early-morning train trips to work fantasising about perfect ways to spend this precious time - so here are 10 of my ideas, with a new recipe too, naturellement. I hope you enjoy, and please do share the Autumn love and leave your own ideas.

1. Bake an earl grey tea and pear cake. I'm eating a slice of this right now as I type, alongside a cup of tea and it's delicious. The recipe is based on one I found in this month's issue of Donna Hay magazine for an earl grey tea cake. Hers had a couple of grated apples stirred into the mixture which I've swapped out for diced pear. Diced, the fruit is a bit more of an event in the cake, in that it turns into little pockets of sweet ripe cooked pear in a moist base dark and rich with brown sugar, pureed dates and strong earl grey tea. It reminds you a little of a really good banana cake in terms of texture and appearance, but is altogether more appropriate for Autumn afternoon teas and post-dinner, DVD break snacking. Recipe follows.

Couldn't get enough of Tourism Victoria's 'Visit Make Believe' Dandenong Ranges campaign, in which the above picture appears. Ophelia will float by any second...

2. Day-tripping. The mornings are cool but the afternoons are glorious, so heading out early on a day trip to the countryside is perfect in Autumn. If you're in Melbourne, the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges are stunning at this time of year and are under an hours drive from Melbourne. Visit gorgeous gardens, drink wine, go antiquing, eat lavender scones. For a (more indulgent) weekend away at this time of year, visit Bright, where there's an Autumn festival each year. There's lovely B&Bs, but also gorgeous camping grounds. Eat chestnuts, go on lazy drives to nearby farms and towns, sit by the fire in the evenings, eat full cooked breakfasts, or:

3. Go apple-picking. If you live in the city, you can go a long time without seeing the actual source of the things that you eat. Going to an orchard in apple season can remedy this, reminding you that food actually does grow on trees. If you do take a trip to Bright, visit nearby Wandiligong, a very small town (around 250 people) full of orchards. You can pick apples there, but also pears and nuts. For closer to Melbourne and Australia-wide, see this list. Take a picnic and some Robert Frost.

4. Buy some beautiful tea. Treat yourself to a new blend of loose-leaf tea and get your teapot fired up! I know everyone goes nuts over T2, but I love the Earl Grey loose-leaf at Tea Party, as it has plenty of bergamot and smells absolutely gorgeous. They also do French Earl Grey (with rose petals), Lady Grey (with lemon and pretty blue cornflowers) and a whole host of other gorgeous herbal, black, white and green tea blends. You can visit them at the Victoria Market, or you can order online. Yay for internets!

5. Watch Douglas Sirk films. Spend Sunday afternoons getting lost in and inspired by Douglas Sirk's technicolor world. You can - and should! - read more about the man here.

All That Heaven Allows (1955)

Imitation of Life (1959)

Written on the Wind (1956)

6. Knit a scarf. Haberdashery stores in town - Clegs, Lincraft, etc - have their range of wools in now. Maybe you should knit a scarf? Relaxing Autumn afternoons are perfect for tea-drinking and knitting, and by Winter you'll have a cosy scarf to wrap around your neck. If you need more convincing, just look at these showgirls passing the time: they're loving it! Scarves are very easy, so they're the perfect project if you're new to knitting, and they don't require much yarn, so aren't expensive to make. Patons yarns have a good learn-to-knit guide you can purchase in stores, or get it online for free here.

7. Make some pickle. Make like it's WWII (not really) and preserve some bounty for gifts and the months ahead. I made a rhubarb chutney this week with rhubarb and apples from the garden, but you don't need a glut of produce or even a whole heap of time to whip up a few jars of pickles. Try this cauliflower pickle; you only need one head of cauliflower, a few onions, vinegar and spices and a few old jars. Buy some cheap gingham fabric and tie squares over the top with string. Presto! Homemade hostess gifts with loads of charm.

8. Buy new tights. New tights or stockings are my favourite budget-friendly way to get through the shift in seasons with a little touch of luxury. Student incomes might not allow new bracelet-length dresses or suede boots, but if I'm feeling shabby, a new pair of fancy patterned tights will freshen a repetitive outfit and put a little spring back in my step. I love browsing for hosiery at department stores, but often you can't beat prices online. My current favourite online stores for hosiery are Modcloth, MyTights and Fantasy Lingerie. Yes, that's a dirty dirty lingerie store, but they've got some great stockings if you can look past the crotchless body-stockings. And plastic pants, heh. P.S. Don't type 'stockings' into google image search with children around. P.P.S. No, I don't own Louis Vuitton tights. But yes, I'd like to.

9. Make hot mulled cider. Because the evenings can get cold in Autumn, you should make some mulled cider. Yep, that's cider warmed with spices (and a little brandy, if you're feeling jolly). It's so lovely to greet visitors coming in from the cold with. Think of it like a cold-weather sangria. I've been making this recipe for Mulled Cider with Calvados from epicurious and it's great. But once you've got the formula down, there's tonnes of room to play.

10. Humble, humble porridge. I couldn't be happier about porridge, or oatmeal, being back on the menu for chilly mornings. To take a simple serve of porridge and turn it into a bowl of Autumn, top with cinnamon, some bits of walnut or good maple syrup. Try grating an apple into the mixture before cooking, adding some frozen blueberries, or swapping your regular rolled or instant oats for multigrain or a barley and oat combination. I find these keep me full for longer and provide more sustained energy to get me through until lunchtime and to run from bears, etc.

earl grey tea and pear cake
Adapted from donna hay magazine, Apr/May 2011

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup (or 140g) chopped fresh dates
1 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
3/4 cup (or 180ml) strong earl grey tea
3 small - medium pears, peeled, cored and diced
1 1/4 cup (or 185g) self-raising flour
3/4 cup (or 135g) brown sugar
150g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 170°C (335°F). Grease and line loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Put the dates and baking soda in a bowl and pour over hot tea. Set aside for 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or mini food processor, blend until smooth. Set aside.

3. Place flour and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine and aerate. Add chopped pear and stir gently to combine. Add melted butter, vanilla, eggs and date mixture. Mix well.

4. Pour into lined loaf tin and bake for 50 - 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in tin 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
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