Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Friends of Mine - a ray of sunshine in Swan St


So I'll admit that what attracted me to walk in the door was the yellow... 
How can a place go wrong when it looks like the happiest sunniest place in Melbourne... And it's the middle of winter and about 15 degrees out!

I couldn't help myself! This cafe looked so cute! It was my hope that I'd found my new best friend. And what better with a name like "Friends of Mine".


As I entered the rustic wooden doorway I was bathed in the warmth of the place... Yes I was freezing and may have been slightly swayed by the heating. But the benches are industrial, wooden tops with steel legs (also yellow), both metal and wooden chairs, the kind of place where I could see myself spending my mornings typing a blog post, studying for uni (now that I've decided to go back to school), enjoying a warm coffee and spending my alone time.


I was greeted and told that I looked freezing (which I was) before being led in past the communal table (which looked so inviting I considered asking to sit there) and to what was described as the best heated table in the room. I gratefully removed my jacket which was then taken from my hands and placed on the back of the chair that he had pulled out for me. This is the cutest first impression I have ever had of a cafe. This never happens in real life... Does it?

I looked at the table. My menu was face down to display a picture of a little boy with the words "you are beautiful" underneath. Now, today I felt a bit far from beautiful; wearing no makeup, hair scrappily tied back and restrained by a headband, hoodie and gym pants on, fresh from my first workout at my lovely gym in a month... I could no longer feel my arms. But this gesture made me smile. It was lovely. 


I ordered my token latte, because let's face it, a cafe is nothing if the coffee is no good, even though my friends have become chai drinking hippies of late...
Before I had finished perusing the menu my latte was on my table. I was a little impressed... But I'd already expected deliciousness, I like Allpress coffee.... Even this came on a yellow saucer, which made my day. Love a little color!


My smashed avocado with mushrooms and a poached egg seemed to arrive even quicker than my coffee! Which was great for them... I was starving! And I get a little grumpy when hungry... Typical woman right?
The mint made the food! It tasted amazing! 


So I know you can tell, but I'm a little in love... I think this is the start of what will be a beautiful relationship. 


<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1551903/restaurant/Melbourne/Friends-of-Mine-Richmond"><img alt="Friends of Mine on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/1551903/biglogo.gif" style="border:none;width:104px;height:34px" /></a>

Sunday, 10 August 2014

RSPCA Cupcake Day August 18


So I have been a little absent of late... With moving house and living life, it just feels like you run out of time so quickly!!!

So in my grand comeback I've decided to start things off with a bang!!

Firstly I'll apologise to those who have been left hanging for my next post... I realise this is riveting stuff ;)



This week will kick off my preparation for August 18 which is the RSPCA cupcake day!!! All money raised from this awesome fundraising effort goes toward protecting animals from cruelty which, being a complete animal lover, really tugs at my heart strings.


So I will be slaving away all weekend over a hot oven to prepare some amazing treats for people to buy. For those of you with big hearts and some spare cash you can donate online by clicking the link below;
I am really excited about this project and look forward to sharing the results with all of you!!!

Get donating and ....

Happy baking!!!



All photos taken from www.rspca.org.au

Friday, 21 March 2014

Boston Cream Whoopie Pies - an unlikely hero!



Everybody has their kryptonite. For me, it comes in the form of Boston Cream Pie. I don't know why, but it hates me.
My first attempt; an actual boston cream pie. The custard and ganache were so runny that it completely crumbled in my hands as i tried to put it on a nice pretty dish. I was devastated. I vowed that the next attempt would be a complete success.

I chickened out of making another pie. Instead I thought "I'm the Cupcake Queen,  I'll make this baby into a batch of cupcakes!" What could go wrong?
I made the cakes, I cut out the middles, I filled them with custard then topped with ganache. As it was late at night I went to bed.


I woke the next morning eager to take my masterpieces into work with me to show off to all my collegues. One of whom had actually requested the Boston Cream Pie to begin with.
With a huge smile I opened the fridge. The smile quickly turned to a look of complete horror. I stared into the fridge in shock. It looked like a bomb had hit it.
My cupcakes had exploded! Literally! Never have I experienced anything like this!! The apple tart was close.
There was custard under shelves, down the back of the fridge, all over the side... the ganache had run all over the dish in which I had placed the cupcakes. The poor naked cupcakes just stood there in mush, missing both their filling and the topping.
What a failure!!!


So this was my last attempt. Dismayed at my previous failures I was hesitant. But don't fret! This attempt came in the form of a Whoopie Pie. And my oh my, they are simply delish!

Luckily this one is a fail safe. I have done all the hard work for you. Don't worry, I promise they wont explode all over your fridge.



Boston Cream Whoopie Pies

290g Plain Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Table Salt
115g Butter
100g Brown Sugar
115g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Custard:
2 Cups Thickened Cream
3 Egg Yolks
1 Cup Milk
75g Caster Sugar
Pinch Table Salt
4 Teaspoons Corn flour
57g Butter
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Ganache:
240g Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Thickened Cream
65g Icing Sugar
3 Tablespoons Warm Water

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease 2 x Whoopie pie trays (or cupcake trays) with butter.

2. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt and leave to the side.

3. In a mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla followed by the flour mixture and the sour cream. Beat until it is well incorporated.

5. Put mixture in a piping bag fitted with a large tip. Squeeze mixture into Whoopie pie trays until mix is just below level with the tray. If using cupcake tray, only fill a small layer at the bottom of the tray. Flatten the peak of the piped mix with a spoon or knife.

6. Place in oven and bake for approx. 8 minutes. Allow to cool completely in tray before removing.

7. Custard; In a saucepan, before heating, mix sugar, corn flour and salt. Place on cooker on low. Whisk in egg yolks, milk and cream until smooth. Increase heat to medium and and bring to a simmer, whisking thoroughly. Once mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat and continue to whisk until custard becomes thick. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until the butter has melted and custard is smooth. Pour custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (make sure you push plastic into the custard as it stops a skin from forming) and place in the fridge overnight.

8. Chocolate ganache; Use a double broiler method and mix together cream and chocolate until chocolate has melted. Mix in the icing sugar. Slowly pour in the water and mix well. Remove bowl from heat and place in the fridge until chocolate has thickened.

9. On the flat side of one piece of cake, spoon some custard into the centre. Place another cake on top and cover with chocolate. Decorate with sprinkles or anything that takes your fancy. Repeat with other cakes until you have cute Whoopie Pies.


So delicious. So messy. I'm in love.

Happy Baking!!!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Providore Cafe and enjoying the sun in Surfers Paradise

So usually I'll do a whole post about my holiday and exactly where to eat should you be whisked off to enjoy your own getaway.


However, this particular time, I went to Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in Queensland. And everytime I travel to the lovely, sunny theme park land I am always dismayed at the lack of trendy cafés and food-aweing restaurants. They just don't seem to exist in this part of the world. 

I know I should calm down, not everywhere can be as food-savvy as my beloved Melbourne but it would be nice to see some fresh, seasonal produce in between the bars, pizza and fish and chips.


Surfers and Broadbeach, are though, known as the go to places for young adult holidays of drinking and passing out on the beach. I should not be surprised that the streets are filled with la porchettas (which I like by the way), fish and chip shops and an endless supply of Irish pubs??? But really? Not even one trendy place???

In the four years I have stayed away from the Gold Coast for this very reason, something has changed. Someone else has felt my pain. Some amazingly, bright and very culinarily skilled person has seen a large market gap and decided to be the answer to my Gold Coast food problems. 


The answer is Providore Cafe at the Marina Mirage on Seaworld Drive in Main Beach (the road to Seaworld, next to Palazzo Versace). 

As soon as I walked in I felt at home. With the clean white walls and cute blue tables, what more could a girl want? The almond croissants on the back table, that's what!

On our first visit I ordered a fruit salad, which was a work of art! Accompanied with a macaron filled with yogurt! I was in heaven.


S ordered herself poached eggs with hollandaise that came with mushrooms and bacon. S hates mushrooms, with a passion... She ate these. The plate was almost clean! An impressive feat for the girl who hates what seems to be every food item that ever existed sometimes. I was astounded. Providore received my kudos just by making S actually finish her meal. The perfect breakfast pre-Seaworld.

On our designated sun and relaxation day we sat on our sun lounges at Jupiter's Casino hotel. As lunchtime rolled around I turned to S. "How bout we go to the fancy place for lunch?". Providore had been dubbed the Gold Coast Fancy place in our eyes. S' eyes lit up.


In the car we jumped and drive down the beach to Providore we did.

And it did not disappoint. I had the most delightful tuna steaks ever created and S enjoyed the fish and chips... The one thing I had been trying to avoid. 

On our last day all it took was one look at each other in the morning... "Providore?" We were back in the car driving toward main beach.


This morning I indulged in some quinoa porridge with cranberries and almonds. Steph splashed out and had the most delicious pancakes with cinnamon butter and banana. We were not disappointed. In any way.

If you head up that way. Do not miss a meal at Providore. Delish!!

Happy Baking.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Taylors Soups



Last month I was sent a most lovely package. One of the best packages I have received in the last year... Free soup!!! And not only was this free soup, this was free, new soup!! With free new soup flavours I had never come across before.


Taylor's soups came in the awe inspiring flavours such as sweet potato, pumpkin and pear, or spicy vegetable and red lentil and Asian style tomato and coconut. I was in love with these flavours! I couldn't wait to try every single one of them.. But this package came with a mission... To take them for a taste test at work and see what my colleagues thought.. And in one word.. Success!!!


My first soup was the sweet potato. Being an avid fan of pumpkin soup I was eager to see how these flavours pulled together. It was by far my favorite!


The spicy vegetable and lentil soup was a tad on the spicy for me, but I found that teamed with a slice or two of buttered bread I was a fan of this also.


The stand out at work was the Asian style tomato and coconut and sadly the Spinach and Asparagus didn't get much of a fan base. But all in all, these are soups I could see myself buying from the supermarket so I would say that Taylor's have out done themselves.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

If you like Piña Colada... Cupcakes


Hello all,

Happy 2014!! I hope the New Year is treating you well.

New Year Fireworks Melbourne 2013-14 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I decided to mark the coming of year with a good old fashioned cocktail party with a few of my closest friends.... and what is a cocktail party without the ever so awesome, boozy cupcakes. Although, I'm less interested in the booze part and more in the cake. So I needed to think up a delicious cupcake flavour that would completely satisfy with its taste and fit my cocktail party.


And while I was dancing around my living room thinking which of my most beloved cocktail mixes should I turn into a dessert, a very familiar song came on the radio....

"I was tired of my lady, we'd been together too long.
Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song.
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed.
And in the personals column, there was this letter I read:
If you like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain..."

I love Piña Coladas... and the rain!!!! Piña Colada Cupcakes... it had been decided. Now to put it all together. 



They came out a treat. And so cute with the little pineapple lollies to decorate!! Big hit, perfect for my cocktail night, and the best part of all, if you want mock-tail cupcakes just omit the rum. No need to change anything else. Simples!!!

Piña Colada Cupcakes:


114g Butter
1 Cup Caster Sugar
3 Eggs

1/3 Cup Coconut Rum
3/4 Cup Coconut Milk
1/4 Cup Pineapple Juice
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Bi-Carb Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Desiccated Coconut
1 Cup Crushed Pineapple Pieces

icing:
225g Cream Cheese
57g Butter
2 Cups Icing Sugar
3 Tablespoons Coconut Cream
3 Tablespoons Coconut Rum
1/2 - 1 Cup Desiccated Coconut (Add to desired consistency)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice and vanilla extract.

5. In another bowl combine the flour, bi-carb and salt.

6. Alternately add the liquid mixture followed by the flour mixture to the butter and mix until smooth.

7. On a low speed, add the desiccated coconut and the pineapple.

8. Divide into cupcake liners (fill about 2/3 full). Bake in oven for 20-25 mins, until a skewer comes out with slight crumbs stuck to it. Leave cupcakes to cool in the tray until the tray is at room temperature then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

9. For the icing; Mix together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar gradually until combined. Add the coconut cream and the rum. On a low speed add desiccated coconut to the desired consistency. 

10. Spread icing on cupcakes and top with cute little pineapple lollies. 



Happy Baking!!!!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Mini Choc Mint Cupcakes


I made the most delicious mini cupcake for a friend's birthday party this week. They taste just like peppermint chocolate chip ice-cream. No joke.


The funniest part is that it all started with an aim to make a lovely triple tiered peppermint chocolate chip cake. Which failed... miserably. The third tier didn't bode well. Once the tin had completely cooled I opened it to place it onto the rack. The entire thing crumbled into pieces. It just fell apart in my hands. I blame the horrid vindictive oven! Then my icing wasn't right. It set. Hard.


So I channelled my hatred into tiny, cute mini cupcakes. And they were delicious! Yummy little bite sized treats that everybody loved.


Try them for yourself!


Mini Mint Choc Chip Cupcakes:

9 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
180g Plain Flour
3 Tablespoons Corn Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Bi-Carb Soda
115g Butter
300g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Coffee (I used a long black setting on my Nespresso Machine, but instant coffee is fine)
1/2 Cup Milk

Icing:
280g Butter
500g Icing Sugar
2 Teaspoons Peppermint Essence
150g Chocolate Flake
Green Food Coloring

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two mini muffin trays with mini cupcake liners

2. Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.

3. Sift together dry ingredients.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together coffee and milk.

5. Add eggs to the butter mix, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated.

6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mix, followed by half of the milk mixture. Repeat and mix until smooth.

7. Divide mixture evenly between cupcake liners, so they are filled approx halfway.

8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in tray until at room temp then transfer to a wire rack.

9. For the icing; Beat the butter until smooth, add icing sugar 1 cup at a time until smooth. Add the essence and coloring to desired color. Gradually mix through the flake pieces.

10. Pipe icing onto cupcakes. Voila!

Happy Baking!!!