Neapolitan Marble Cake

It’s a classic which is now rarely seen,

but the swirls of pink, chocolate & vanilla are well worth the effort.

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It has been a chaotic week! Last Wednesday was Mini-Me’s birthday so off we popped to Melbourne Zoo which lays claim to being the oldest zoo in Australia! We treated her to an exclusive behind the scenes member’s tour before exploring the zoo at our leisure until just after lunch when she got to have a close encounter with her all time favourite animal by feeding the Giraffe in it’s enclosure. She was just so deliriously happy & her delightful giggle is simply magic to my ears as well as my heart.

The rest of the week was spent in absolute panic as I madly threw together her party which we hosted at our mountain top home on Sunday. Twenty hyped up children having the time of their lives & the snow machine went down a real treat! Their limbo moves were super impressive & let me tell you, those tiny ballerinas have a mighty mean swing on a piñata! Food was plentiful but, of course, the star of the culinary show is always the birthday cake!

Mini-Me loves Neapolitan Ice-Cream so I took my inspiration from that to wow her when we cut open the cake.

Bung into your mixer bowl 125g of room temperature softened butter along with 3/4 cup of caster sugar & a teaspoon of vanilla. Cream that until it’s nice & fluffy.

Add in 2 eggs, but one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold through 2 cups of self raising flour & a pinch of salt alternating with 1/2 cup of milk.

Divide the mix into 3 bowls. Leave one plain, add 1 tablespoon of cocoa to another & a few drops of pink food colouring to the third. Give them a jolly good mix.

Layer the 3 batters into a well greased cake tin & use a sharp knife or a bamboo skewer to create swirls.

Whack in a 175c oven for an hour.

You can serve this cake plain, dusted in icing sugar, with buttercream or even covered in ganache! Let your imagination run wild!

Cheesecake Pudding

My Cheesecake Pudding is so light, hubby says it has the texture of Mousse!

Bonus is, it’s Gluten Free!

Cheesecake Pudding

Let a 250g block of cream cheese (I use good old philly!) go seriously soft before starting.

Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over a packet of lemon jelly crystals. Stir to dissolve then add in the zest & juice of a plump lemon. Set that aside to cool off.

Beat the soft cream cheese until it’s looking like cream. Add in a tin of condensed milk, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste & the jelly mix. Combine all that until it’s thick & creamy.

Then simply pour it into individual serving glasses or ramekins & pop in the fridge to set.

Tanz Tip – I usually use a vegetable peeler to carve off some chocolate curls from the block & pop a cherry on top to serve.

Roast Capsicum & Tomato Soup

A full bodied soup which leaves a tingle on your tongue,

simply perfect on a chilly evening.

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Grab yourself a baking dish & bung in 2 capsicums (deseeded & quartered), 1kg of juicy red tomatoes (quartered also) & 3 garlic cloves (peeled & crushed open with the side of your knife). Drizzle over a wee bit of olive oil & whack in a 200c oven to roast for 40 minutes.

When time is up, simply transfer that lot, including all the luscious juices, into a saucepan & give it a jolly good blitz with Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) until it’s lovely & smooth before seasoning well with salt & white pepper.

Stir through an entire tub (300g) of sour cream, then gently reheat.

Pop in some cooked pasta to oomph it up a wee bit & It’s Chompin Time!

What If…….?

I wonder what would happen if I put down all of this toxic self doubt I have burdened myself to carry?

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Over the past year, you have been following me on a journey of self discovery as I stumble my way along this culinary pathway. It certainly has been a roller coaster!

I would dearly love to evolve & grow this blog into a wee web show, yet every time I begin, some of you may recall I came very close to it last Christmas, I end up sabotaging myself as the horrid seeds of self doubt sprout & spread their evil tendrils.

I get all excited & pumped up – I plan, I experiment, I practice what to say & then I let that little voice in my head take over!

  • You’re being ridiculous
  • Who on Earth would want to watch to you
  • Who do you think you are
  • You’re a nobody
  • You’re not a chef
  • You’re not pretty enough for telly
  • You don’t know anything
  • You can’t plate up
  • You’re food isn’t fancy enough
  • You’re not good enough

I’m sure you are now getting the picture. Food is my passion. It’s what I want to share. It’s all I want to do.

It’s true, my food is not fancy, it’s not fine dining & I’m certainly not good enough for MasterChef!

I’m just a stay at home mum living on my mountain top with a strong desire, a dream if you might, of sharing my simple food from my humble kitchen.

To learn the knowledge of our Grandparents generation of how to grow my own food, how to prepare it with great love & to enjoy a blissfully uncomplicated life.

Is there really anything wrong with that?

Am I alone in my desire for simplicity?

Would you watch me?

Slow Cooked Lamb Hotpot

As the days get cooler & the darkness descends quickly,

thoughts turn to hearty, slow cooked comfort food.

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Quite honestly, this Lamb Hotpot is the shizel of the manizel! It’s fall apart tenderness perfectly balances with the rich flavour & ever so soft tatties – YUM!

Start off by peeling half a dozen or so potatoes & slicing them into 2cm thick discs. Also, peel & very thinly slice up 1 big onion.

Bung 500g of diced lamb into a plastic bag along with 1 tablespoon of flour & season well with salt & white pepper then shake the absolute shizenhowzen out of it to coat all the meat.

Grab your slow cooker pot & it’s time to layer up! Pop a bed of tattie onto the bottom, then scatter some of the onion before placing a wee bit of the meat. Continue with this layering ensuring that you end with a tattie layer on top.

Pour in 1 & 1/2 litres of chicken stock, whack the lid on & turn the dial to high for 8 hours of mouth watering droolfest at the lovely aromas filling your home.

Tanz Tip – if you don’t have a slow cooker then you can still make this fabuliciouz hotpot by popping a casserole dish in a 160c oven for 3 hours.

Ring Stinger Biscuits

I don’t call these Ring Stinger bikkies for nothin’ so consider yourself warned!

Ring Stinger Biscuits

First of all, pop a baking tray inside the oven as it pre-heats to 190c.

Grab a mixing bowl & combine 200g grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of plain flour, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper & then salt & pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to get messy by using your finger tips to lightly rub in the oil to make the mix nice & crumbly.

Now you’ll need to get your skates on as the trick to these bikkies actually working is speed!

Grab the hot tray out of the oven & bung on spoonfuls of the mix while pushing it gently to combine. Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whizz the tray out again to turn the bikkies over very, very carefully! Then adorn each one with a sliced ring of jalepena chilli in the centre before crowning it all off with a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes & more parmesan cheese.

Whack the tray back in the oven to bake for a further 5 minutes.

Tanz Tip ~ the bikkies are wafers so they should be lacy in appearance so don’t stress about them being so thin.

Baked Cinnamon Pears

Are there many things more comforting on a bleak Melbourne day than fabuliciouzly hot Baked Cinnamon Pears?!?!

I think not!

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I wasn’t even aware that Mini Me had any knowledge of this nostalgic classic of the kitchen until she quite suddenly asked me, “Mum, do you know how to make cinnamon pears?”! Now I don’t know who is responsible, but my prime suspect would be Peppa Pig! Anyways, she was absolutely delighted when I replied in the affirmative & whipped up this easy treat for her afternoon tea.

Start by lining a roasting dish with baking paper & set aside.

Peel 4 juicy pears then cut into quarters, removing the core of each. Bung those into the roasting dish before spraying them with some extra virgin olive spray oil.

Combine 1 tablespoon of caster sugar with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, then sprinkle over the pears. Give that lot a jolly good shake up to coat them thoroughly.

Whack into a 180c oven for 20 minutes or until they’re gloriously tender & golden.

A scoop of ice-cream is a nice contrast plopped on top.

French Onion Soup

It’s well & truly soup season here on our mountain top!

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French Onion Soup is one of those super easy retro classics that every home cook should have up their sleeve.

Start by peeling a couple of large onions & cutting into thick slices.

Heat up a generous knob of butter in a stock pot & chuck the onions in with a teaspoon of sugar (I use raw sugar). Stir that until the onions are nicely translucent, they should be golden but not darkened in colour.

Throw in a dessertspoon of plain flour & cook that off before gradually pouring in 2 litres of chicken stock. Season it well with salt & white pepper.

Whack the lid on & cook that over a gentle heat for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Then it’s Chompin Time!

Cheese & Bacon Soufflé

Here’s an easy peasy recipe for the kids, and dads, to make this Sunday to WOW mum with more than just burnt toast.

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First, daddy, get that oven cranking to a stonking hot 220c!

Use spray oil to generously grease some pretty ramekins, hint – do this in the sink so that the wee cherubs don’t mess up the entire kitchen! One gratin dish could be substituted as well.

Then, depending on the age & abilities of the kidlets you can divvy up the steps between daddy & offspring as to whatever way floats your boat.

Heat up a glug of oil in a frypan to cook off some diced bacon before plopping into the bottom of the ramekins.

Next, sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese in there too – YUM!

Grab a mixing bowl to whisk together 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons of thickened cream, salt & white pepper until frothy bubbles appear. Hint dads – make sure you have extra eggs as they’re bound to be smashed outside of the bowl 😀

Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekin bowls to just cover the cheese & bacon, they’ll probably be about half full.

Finally, daddy, I shall let you in on the secret trick to get those soufflé’s to rise & shine! Simply run your finger around the edge! Yep, that’s the big technique involved with this show stopper! Wipe your CLEAN finger around the edge of the ramekin from the mixture to the top – this creates a pathway for the soufflé to rise sky high!

Whack that lot in the oven (place them on a baking tray to get them easily in & out) to bake until they’re light & fluffy. Do not open that door! Just keep a watchful wait through the glass – this ain’t perfect on the timing as every dish is different. Plan for about 15 minutes but hey, if they over cook, it’s no drama – simply tell mum you’ve made her quiche & she’ll still be stoked at your culinary prowess.

Mid-Life Crisis!

Is it just me or is everyone faking this whole life thing?

I mean, I never expected to reach the age of 42 & still be absolutely clueless about my direction in life!

Just when we’d made the decision to move to the Gold Coast to be near to our family & friends, life has thrown us, yet again, another plot twist.

Mini-Me has been selected to become a Classical Soloist Ballerina! Now that is EPICALLY huge for her to receive this wonderful opportunity & is a real achievement in reward for all her extra hard work she puts in towards her Professional Ballet career. I know, I know, she’s only 6 but she has known what she’s wanted to do practically since birth! This kid is Born to Ballet!

I simply can’t fathom how focussed & together she is as I’ve always been a total screw up mess my entire life. Yet from the moment she slipped her delicate toes into her first pair of ballet leathers at the ripe old age of 3, she has been destined for greatness.

Now, in Australia, if she was to be focussed on becoming an elite athlete in the sporting arena, nobody would bat an eyelid at us making serious family life choices based on our young child’s career, however, as her talent is in the Arts, people have been less understanding. As a Professional Ballerina, she will be an elite athlete of incredible abilities!

But, back to this whole Mid-Life Crisis thing……

I’ve been quite strongly guided lately to return to writing. I had another blog, a few years back, which was far more successful than this one, which I shut down for various reasons. I had thought about starting another whole new blog, in addition to Food Forage, in order to do this. The problem is that I already struggle with the high demands of my small fam-bam to get the time to even do this one properly! I’m sure you’ve noticed my sporadic posts which is what is to blame for my lack of success here. So, what shall I do in order to write again?

I’ve decided to do these random open diary entries to you, a glimpse into my madness if you like, as my Fam-Bam Files category & see where we go from there.

I’m desperately trying to rediscover who I am now as more than just a wife & mother. I’m sure a lot of you have been here before me! Who I was before Mini-Me came along simply is not who I am anymore. So who am I now?

This is why I believe I’m struggling to make real, deep friendships here in Melbourne. I’m very difficult to get to know as a person, not because of any ‘walls’ as I simply don’t have them, but because I am so extremely open about being so lost. People get confused by my being so very scattered. I’m always into something new every time they turn around & I’m an all or nothing sort of gal! I only have 2 speeds, either completely obsessed or completely uninterested. So yeah, I’m not the easiest of people to be friends with as you never know what I’m up to next! At least I’m never boring.

All I know for sure is that I am being guided to make a return to my writing & also my healing. I am a Seichim Healer but haven’t healed since before Mini-Me was born. I’d also like to reignite my passion for watercolour painting, even though I’ve never actually been any good at that. Plus my chocolate work is calling me louder & louder to create again.

But where, oh where, shall I ever find the time for me?!?!?!?!