Brownies from Bill's Basics

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted, but having a baby kind of limits your baking and food adventures! Anyway, during Josh's 2 hour sleep yesterday, I decided to make brownies, from Bill Granger's new cookbook, Bill's Basics. Hooray! I had just received it in the mail the day before (thank you, Borders Online 25% off sale), and was very excited about all the new baking recipes, which seem fantastic. I basically chose to start with this recipe from the book as I had all the ingredients, and it didn't require using Ruby, my Kitchenaid mixer, which I was worried would wake up Josh - next on the agenda, butterscotch madeleines. Yum!

This is just a melt-and-mix recipe, and is very, very quick. I do LOVE a good brownie.


350g (1.5 cups) caster sugar
80g (2/3 cup) cocoa  (I used good quality dutch cocoa, which I sifted.)
60g plain plour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
200g unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, chopped (I guess you could also use choc chips, and save yourself even more time, or use half white/half dark chocolate, or add nuts or craisins...)


Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a 22cm square baking tin with parchment paper (I have a 20cm tin)
Stir together the sugar, cocoa, flour and baking powder.
Mix in the eggs, butter and vanilla until well combined, then mix in the chopped chocolate.
Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack. Cut into squares.

The most difficult thing about brownies is knowing when they are cooked, as I still like them gooey in the middle. I baked mine for the full 45 minutes, until a skewer came out mostly clean and the mixture didn't look wobbly when jiggled ;)

Bill says you can make a topping out of half double cream and half melted chocolate to spread over the top, but I just dusted them with vanilla dusting sugar when they were cool.

Easy Spinach and Fetta Pie

I made this recipe last night for the first time, which sort of resembles a Greek Spanakopita. It comes originally from the Good Food Magazine. Unfortunately I don't know which edition as I ripped out the recipe and placed it in my Favourite Recipes File. As the name suggests, it is extremely easy, even for a pastry novice like me who has rarely worked with even pre-made pastry.



250g frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 white or brown onion, chopped
200g cottage cheese (I used low-fat)
200g fetta, crumbled (I used Coles brand Danish Fetta)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
4 eggs
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
8 sheets filo pastry (I used Pampas frozen Fillo - remember to thaw at room temperature for 2 hours prior)
Melted butter
Salt and Pepper

- Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fanforced.
- In a bowl, combine spinach, onion, cottage cheese, fetta, parmesan, eggs and nutmeg. Season.
- Grease a 6-cup capacity ovenproof dish (I used a medium sized rectangular dish).
- Place a filo sheet in dish, edges overhanging the long sides of dish. Brush with butter. Top with another filo sheet. Brush with butter. Fold 2 filo sheets in half lengthwise, brushing with butter between each layer. Lay in dish at 90 degree angle to first filo sheets, edges overhanging the short sides of dish.
- Fill dish with spinach mixture.
- Repeat process with filo sheets to cover pie. Brush with butter. Roll up pastry edges to form a border and brush with butter again.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until browned slightly (I cooked mine for 35 minutes).
- Stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a rocket salad.

Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Frittata

This recipe comes straight from the latest edition of the BBC Good Food Magazine. Although smoked salmon is a no-no in pregnancy (and feta is a bit iffy) - I figured that this recipe is cooked through so it should be fine. It uses up a lot of eggs so is very handy in that way.


6 eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
60g crumbled feta (I just used half a packet)
200g smoked salmon, cut each piece in half (This seemed like way too much, 100g should suffice)
1 bunch fresh asparagus spears, cut into smaller pieces
3 small potatoes, peeled
1 onion, thickly sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
I added chilli flakes and garlic powder for a bit of extra flavour


- Heat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced).
- In a frypan, heat up olive oil, then add onions on a low-medium heat and allow to caramellise for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling water, parboil your potatoes for 10 minutes. In another pot of boiling water, cook your asparagus for 1 minute, then rinse.
- Slice the potato and arrange at the bottom of a 6-cup baking dish. Add the caramellised onions, a layer of smoked salmon, then asparagus, then feta.
- Whisk the eggs and milk together, add seasoning, then carefully pour into dish.
- Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the egg is cooked through. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread. Great for lunch the next day.

Broad Bean Vegeroni pasta

Yesterday I made up my own dish for dinner, while attempting to use up my broad beans in the freezer. I didn't realise how long it would take me to de-shell them prior to cooking, but it was well worth the effort in the end. You could also use ricotta instead of feta if you wished.

1 packet vegeroni pasta (spirals)
1 x block 200g feta cheese, cubed
1/2 packet frozen broad beans, thawed and de-shelled.
1 x zucchini, grated into long strips
50g pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, sliced
A sprinkle of chilli flakes
Olive oil, 1-2 tbsps (I like flavoured olive oil, but I have almost run out!)
Optional: Parmesan, A tiny bit of butter, say 20g, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.


- Cook the pasta until al dente.
- Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a little olive oil on the stove, until they are slightly browned.
- Add garlic, chilli and broad beans (plus butter and lemon zest if desired) and cook through for 2 minutes.
- Mix in grated zucchini, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add feta and mix through, season if needed.
- Serve on pasta, with parmesan on top and a further drizzle of olive oil.

Caramel and Coconut Icecream

I got this recipe from the 4 Ingredients TV show on Foxtel. It is VERY easy to make and quite impressive. I know it is not true icecream (made by the custard method and then churned), but it still tastes yum. I'm sure you could adapt it and add crushed up crunchie or whatever takes your fancy. Beware - it freezes hard and needed some nuking in the microwave prior to serving. It probably makes 6-8 servings.


 - 600ml of pure cream
- 1 x tin of Top-n-fill Caramel (found in the long-life milk section of the supermarket)
- 1-2 tbsps of Kahlua, if desired.
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted until lightly brown.

With an electric beater, mix the cream and caramel until increased in volume and nice and bubbly. Add the kahlua and coconut, mix through.
Pour into a freezable container (I just used a medium sized plastic Decor container) and place in the freezer overnight or until frozen.

Eggplant and Goat's cheese Pasta

This is another super-easy recipe from the Good Food Magazine. I subsituted feta for goat's cheese as it is more readily available. Feel free to season as you desire, I always like a touch of chili in this sort of pasta.

300g penne or another short pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 eggplant, cut into small chunks
400g chopped tomatoes
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup basil, plus extra to garnish
200g goat's cheese, cubed.

Cook pasta according to packet instructions in a large saucepan with salted water.
Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add eggplant and cook for 3 minutes, until lightly browned.
Add tomato and sugar and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, until sauce reduces slightly.
Stir through basil and goat's cheese. Add pasta and toss to combine. Serve garnished with extra basil.

Tomato, Spinach and Mascarpone Gnocchi

I made this recipe a few months back using a handout of recipes from the Good Food magazine (thanks again for the subscription, Renno!)
It is quite rich, but very easy. If you can't find mascarpone, cream cheese might work.

500g gnocchi
350g jar tomato pasta sauce
100g baby spinach
1/2 cup (125g) mascarpone
1/2 cup shaved parmesan (I just used grated)
Salad greens to serve

- Cook gnocchi according to packet instructions in a large saucepan and drain. Preheat grill on high.
- Meanwhile, heat tomato sauce in a saucepan on medium. Add baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Add gnocchi and stir until coated. Season to taste (I suggest some salt, pepper, some chilli flakes and bit of lemon zest if you have lemons on hand. A chopped clove of garlic would be good too).
- Transfer to 1 8-cup ovenproof dish or 4 1-cup ramekins.
-Spoon dollops of mascarpone over gnocchi and scatter with parmesan. Cook under hot grill for 5-10 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve with salad greens.

Cooper and Milla's

Last weekend, on a very warm Saturday, my friends and I dropped in to Cooper and Milla's, High St Armadale for a drink. We had been bridal dress shopping and needed some refreshments, so we all decided to have some freshly squeezed orange juice. While we were there, we perused the breakfast menu, which looked quite tasty.

So the following day, I decided that hubby and I would have brunch at Cooper and Milla's. Luckily the place is not crazy popular, with plenty of tables for two, so we easily found a table and sat down. Because it was another hot day, we decided against coffees and both had some very good iced chocolates, which came in large bulbous glasses, filled with chocolate milk, icecream and lots of ice. Yum. 

Brunch itself took about 20 minutes to arrive, which is fairly average. I had the ricotta pancakes with homemade honeycomb butter. It came swimming in a golden sea of maple syrup.  The pancakes themselves were very light and well made, but i found it all a bit too much and couldn't finish it all - surprising for me, right? The honeycomb butter tasted of cinnamon and honey, a great combo.

Hubby had the beetroot-cured salmon with scrambled eggs on house brioche. The salmon was bright pink, thanks to the beetroot, and had a light beet-y flavour. It was a huge serve as well, but he thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cooper and Milla's also has a large display of homemade treats and lunch goodies. The large lamingtons (with shaved coconut) looked amazing, but we decided to take home some spanakopita for dinner. Unfortunately, the spanakopita was a bit of a disappointment, and I would have preferred some more flavour. I think next time I might eat in for their gourmet salads and veal cabbage rolls!

My Accidental Risoni Bake

For lunch today, I decided to make the Tuna bake from last month's BBC Good Food Magazine. I took what I thought was arborio rice, as the recipe suggested, and put the dish in the oven. When I was 'plating' it, I realised I had used risoni instead of arborio - silly me really needs to get a label maker to use in the kitchen! Anyway, it turned our excellently, and I really liked the texture.

So here is my updated version, with some other additions, that I am calling Julie's accidental risoni bake - don't forget the full name if you remake it!


1 x can 425 g tuna in springwater
1 x brown onion, chopped
1/2 tsp lemon zest
olive oil
2 gloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup risoni (or arborio)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped continental parsley
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)


- Cook the onion and garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the risoni, stir to coat.
- Mix in paste, tomatoes, tuna, zest and 1/2 the parsley. Season to taste.
- In a medium rectangle casserole dish, add the mixture and mix in the mushrooms. Top with cheese.
- Cook in a 170C fan-forced oven for about 30 mins, until the cheese is bubbling and the risoni is cooked.
- Serve topped with extra parsley. I served a side dish of rocket with a lemon juice/balsamic dressing.

Very easy and quick :)

My top 5 tastes of August 2009

Well, I owe you a lot of blog posts, and that is a bit daunting for me. So I thought I would borrow from some of my favourite makeup Youtube gurus, who do their top 5 products of any particular month...

And I have decided to do my top 5 tastes! Some of these might be 'LE', known in the makeup world as 'limited edition', i.e. specials of the day. But I am sure you can find similar quality dishes at these places all year round!

1. Delices (Macarons) at Lindt Cafe, Collins St
Thank you to my friend Lana who introduced me to these delicious morsels. Each delice retails for $2, but they're worth it - eat it slowly and savour the flavour. My fave of the moment is 'passion'; a unique tart passionfruit flavour which is true to its derivative. A special mention should also go to Laurent's pistachio macarons, a steal at $1.70 each. I'm not sure how they compare to true Parisian macarons, but they suit me just fine.

Lindt Cafe has just recently opened here in Melbourne; I have also walked past the Chadstone cafe, but I am yet to try their wares. Everything looks as delicious.

2. Pimiento de Piquillo at Movida, Hosier Lane
I was lucky enough to visit Movida for the first time with my mate Susan for her birthday dinner mid-August. Despite not making a booking (oops), and waiting >30 minutes, we finally got two seats at the famous bar. We decided to order mostly tapas, and our favourite pick were these large bites of hickory smoked piquillo pepper with salt cod and potato. We also loved the portobello mushrooms in sherry vinegar, which were very moreish.

My only gripe - no welcome or list of specials provided to us by the barman/waiter on our arrival. Other patrons who arrived after us were warmly welcomed and given the specials list. We felt a bit lost when we first sat down and didn't even know who to order from. I still think Movida is definitely a must for those visiting Melbourne - just remember to book!

3. Poached eggs with dukkah and babaghanoush on Turkish, Inkr7, St Kilda
This was one of the house specials at our favourite local brunch spot, Ink7. Always reliably delicious, I know that any choice will be the right one. When I ordered the dukkah poached eggs, the owner was very happy with my decision, and came back to check that I was enjoying it. The middle eastern flavours really worked well with the eggs, and I liked making my own messy eggy sandwich.

Another fave of mine for those who don't like eggs would have to be their bircher muesli, layered in a fancy glass with fresh fruit and natural yoghurt. You should also try the coconut hot chocolate - Bounty in a glass!

4. Ginger nut crumble with clotted cream mousse, The Boathouse stand, Taste of Melbourne event
I have already blogged about our fun time at Taste of Melbourne. One of the stand-out dishes in my mind is this cream and crumble combination from Gary Mehigan's restaurant in Maribyrnong, which I am yet to visit. Even though my husband actually ordered this, I remember wrestling him for my share of the dessert. A few people walked past and wanted to know where we got it from. I might have to try making something similar at home soon.

5. Grainwaves chips in sweet chilli flavour, ~$3.80 per bag from Coles
I love chips and I love sweet chilli, so I had to try this new product and bring it home. I think my hubby and I wrestled for the bag and he won, but that just meant that I had to go buy some more. Made from wholegrains and less fat than regular chips, I guess you don't have to feel so bad for buying them, right? These also come in original and sour cream and chives flavour, which are also worth a try.

So what do you think of my top 5 tastes? What were yours?