September: Magazine Recipes

Absolutely love that asparagus announces spring’s arrival and we all know that means summer is sneaking up on us too. While the latest food magazines are bursting with spring fare, September’s recipe roundup is more 'any time of the year' fare – simple ideas packed full of flavour.

It’s not often I cook from a book purchased the same weekend but having sampled the delights of roast salmon with lemony crème fraiche from Unna Burch, The Forest Cantina’s new book My Garden Table, at a Cook the Books ‘meet the author’ event I couldn’t resist recreating the dish for friends on a Sunday night.

Roast salmon with beans and couscous

Roast salmon with beans and couscous

The original idea was a lazy Sunday dinner and to get everyone cooking.  When one friend arrived with a back injury and another texted to say she had lost track of time, it was easy enough to delegate the small tasks and get things underway.  

Baked feta and rosemary, drizzled with honey and a sprinkle of dukkah (someone forgot to buy walnuts) – served with oat biscuits and a Pinot Gris it was a match made in heaven. It’s my take on a recipe from Petite Kitchen. This time it was cooked slightly longer and served in the ramekin, keeping it nice and warm, just watch those fingers on the dish.

A drizzle of honey before serving takes this dish up a notch

A drizzle of honey before serving takes this dish up a notch

Followed by roast salmon topped with a lemon crème fraiche dressing on a bed of herb-infused Israeli couscous and a side of beans with toasted almonds. Simple and very satisfying; better still it was ready in less than 40 minutes.

Dusted with icing sugar and a dollop of softly whipped cream, these super easy and delicious rhubarb tarts were the perfect finish to the night. The recipe is up on Dish Magazine’s website: Simple Rhubarb Tarts.

Homegrown rhubarb, on store bought pastry

Homegrown rhubarb, on store bought pastry

It wouldn’t be a recipe round-up without some baking.  In this house bananas only get eaten if they are slightly on the green side; as soon as one spot appears they end up in the freezer.  Having made an extremely decadent banana cake with whiskey caramel and whipped crème, although not as photogenic as Donna Hay’s version in Canvas Magazine, the latest Dish Magazine #62’s Banoffee Loaf with Anzac Crumble was the perfect excuse to clear the freezer of bananas.

Moist banana loaf studded with crunchy toffee and topped with Anzac crumble

Moist banana loaf studded with crunchy toffee and topped with Anzac crumble

Fingers crossed October brings warmer days and longer evenings now daylight saving has arrived.  It’s time to spruce up the backyard, plant summer salad vegetables and get that BBQ cranked up, if you haven’t done so already.

Watch out for the October review, and don’t be surprised if asparagus makes an appearance or two!



Baking Ninjas

Everyone loves a surprise. This weekend I joined ‘Baking Ninjas’ nationwide baking for total strangers.  People, nominated by someone in their local community, who deserved to receive some home baking – a random act of kindness.

Parcels are wrapped in packaging that the recipient can keep.  Addressed with the recipient’s first name, a poem or note and a list of ingredients are enclosed with the baking too. 

Chocolate and cranberry cookies surround a lemon and blueberry bundt cake

Chocolate and cranberry cookies surround a lemon and blueberry bundt cake

On Sunday morning awoke to drizzle – a deceptively light rain, the sort that somehow manages to soak right through every layer. How the hell was I was going to deliver parcels of baking in 'stealth mode' without a brolly!

Early and wet, the neighbourhood was quiet.  The first house was at the end of a right of way.  I walked briskly down the drive, ducking under the eaves to keep the parcel dry and me out of sight.  Leaving the cake on the front door step, I retreated to the car, delighted I had not been caught.  Next time, I’ll remember dropping the bags of cookies in letterboxes was far easier, with less risk of getting spotted – and I didn’t get as wet either.

‘Baking ninjas’ nationwide made strangers smile this past weekend. Don’t wait to volunteer next year – a random act of kindness can be made at any time and in so many ways.

Have a great week.


ps if someone you know mentions they received a sunflower cake, 'Ninjas' the word!

Apple and Feijoa Anzac Crumble

By adding feijoas and a crunchy Anzac biscuit topping to the humble apple crumble, you have an even tastier autumnal dessert.  Hope you enjoy.

Serves 4-6 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

  • 2 medium apples, quartered, cored and thinly sliced (leave skin on)
  • 8 feijoas, halved, then scoop flesh out with teaspoon
  • 1 Tbsp runny honey 
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries (optional)

Place all ingredients in bowl and gently toss so evenly coated with spices, honey and lemon.

Crumble raw ingredients

Place all ingredients in oven proof skillet.  Cook over low heat for 10 minutes to soften fruit. Remove from stove.

Apple & feijoa on stove

In a separate bowl combine crumble ingredients:

  • 1/2 C threaded coconut
  • 1/2 C rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil

Spoon crumble mixture evenly over fruit. Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown and crunchy (note coconut will look toasted).  Let stand for 10 minutes and then serve warm with thick Greek yoghurt.

Apple & Feijoa Anzac Crumble



Cake and the Senses

Soft sweet rhubarb sandwiched between a crunchy nutty topping and a beautifully moist cake, served warm with thick unsweetened Greek yoghurt – the rhubarb crumble cake was my idea of the perfect dessert.

Successfully made twice before, yesterday fresh figs, feijoas and walnuts replaced rhubarb and almonds. The blush red flesh of the figs artfully arranged to provide a punch of colour on top of the pale creamy cake batter; the topping mix delicately placed rather than scattered so that the figs would burst through the crumble. 

A dusting of icing sugar covers the misshapen cake top

A dusting of icing sugar covers the misshapen cake top

Forty minutes in the oven and looking very photogenic, the cake tin was gently rotated to ensure even cooking.  Tested with a skewer and slightly undercooked the timer was set for another 10 minutes.

Taking the cake from the oven, total dismay to discover the batter had engulfed two thirds of the cake and the beautiful figs were hidden. The photo envisaged earlier disappeared but thankfully other senses kicked in. Cooling on the kitchen bench, the tempting wafts of fresh baking filled the house. Later, upon tasting that first mouthful all was forgiven – the fruit and nutty crumble reappeared as a delightful surprise in the centre.

A slice of Fig & Feijoa Crumble cake

A slice of Fig & Feijoa Crumble cake

Visually appetising food is crucial especially for selling recipe books but it’s the flavours, aromas and textures that ensures eating is an all round sensory experience. Remember the old wives’ (real estate agents) tale about brewing fresh coffee or baking a cake before having potential buyers through an open home, how often did you actually see the coffee or cake?  It’s the welcoming aroma that makes it feel like a home.  

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favourite recipe, you never know what mouth-watering dish you might create.

Enjoy your weekend.


ps just checked original recipe – photo is taken before cooking... I wonder why!

Cookbook Review: Love & Food At Gran’s Table

Bright lattice picnic chairs surround a wobbly afternoon tea table beautifully decorated with real china cups, saucers and plates.  Squealing children play football underneath trees laden with late summer fruit. 

The fluorescent orange plastic ball is suddenly airborne.  It skims the top of Nana’s sponge taking with it the cream which lands squarely in Grandad’s lap. Aghast, his head tips backwards.  His mouth slowly broadens into a huge grin and raucous laughter escapes.  As tears start to roll down his unshaven face, the children release loud gasps of relief.

Laurel Aulick’s sponge recipe entitled, ‘Nana’s Foam Cake’ took me back nearly 40 years to a late summer afternoon under the plum trees in my grandparent’s garden, and kicking that ball. My Nana was the queen of sponges. Sandwiched together with raspberry jam, sometimes simply dusted with icing sugar, other times topped with a thick layer of freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit slices.  Although I must admit despite being a passionate cook, creating the perfect sponge still continues to elude me.

Nana's Foam Cake -  Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Nana's Foam Cake - Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Love & Food At Gran’s Table captures wonderful memories and treasured recipes of 60 grandmothers from New Zealand and around the world. Generations of grandmothers who have influenced children growing up, encouraging time spent with family and friends. They have instilled in their offspring the importance of giving, receiving and sharing food as the perfect way to bring neighbourhoods and communities together.

This collection of 120 recipes covers both savoury and sweet, along with stories told straight from the heart and peppered with framed portraits that bring real characters to life. Recipes from: smoked ribs, chop suey, mussel fritters and bacon and egg pie to sherry trifle (a Christmas favourite), coconut slice, puftaloons and rhubarb crumble have been collated.  Homemade preserves and chutneys are injected; and one for mustard pickle, perfect for non-ripening green tomatoes.

All four of Natalie Oldfield’s best-selling international cookbooks encapsulate her Gran, Dulcie May Booker’s mantra.

“It is not what you do, but how much love you put into the doing.”

Photographer Todd Eyre captures the essence of each dish and its creator.  From the montage on the unusual half cover-slip to the muted background tones of the recipe images you can imagine yourself sitting in their kitchens.

Natalie Oldfield’s fifth book will touch the hearts and bellies of those with fond memories of precious time spent with their nanas, grandmas and grans. Avid readers of cookbooks will enjoy the contributors’ stories and anecdotes as much as the recipes themselves. With Mother’s Day only a month away, this really is an ideal gift.

Published by PQ Blackwell, Love & Food At Gran’s Table is now available from book shops or can be purchased direct from Natalie Oldfield - Love and Food. RRP $49.95.

Sophie's Cake Kitchen

Driving to Sophie’s family home in late January, I wondered how someone so young - Sophie’s in year 12 at Saint Kentigern College, could create such divine cakes.  It didn’t take me long to discover why.  Granny Sue, Sophie’s cooking inspiration, taught her to bake cakes and bread as a toddler, sitting her on the kitchen bench with the mixing bowl propped between her legs.

A freshly baked chocolate cake lovingly sandwiched together with chocolate ganache sat waiting on the kitchen work surface when I arrived, ready for Sophie to work her decorating magic.  As we chatted about Granny Sue and her cooking idol, Anna Olson of Food Network Canada’s Bake with Anna Olson, Sophie serenely decorated the cake.  Watching the cake evolve layer by layer, I was in awe of her talent and especially loved that Sophie grows the flowers that she delicately adds to the top as a finishing touch.  And sweet is definitely where Sophie’s heart lies, from cakes and cupcakes to tarts and complex French patisserie so I can understand why Anna Olson’s baking techniques are a perfect match for the direction Sophie is taking.

Sophie's decorating talent

Sophie's decorating talent

Sophie’s talent didn’t go unnoticed when she worked alongside Habby, the pastry chef at Soul Bar for two days last year.  Her biggest achievement to date and pretty impressive for a then 15 year old, it was an amazing opportunity for Sophie to spend time in the kitchen of a top restaurant, improving her pastry skills and techniques, understanding how a busy environment operates and being given specific tasks to deliver for the desserts.  And no doubt getting to meet Gareth Stewart from MKR and Head Chef at Soul Bar was a bonus too.

Cutting a slice for photography purposes only

Cutting a slice for photography purposes only

With a dream to one day own her own business (it already has a name too), Sophie has a very clear plan for her journey once she finishes school, having spent many hours researching the best places to develop her culinary talent as a pastry chef, including Johnson and Wales University in US.  Now that’s pretty impressive for someone so young.

Chocolate Cake with vanilla and chocolate icing

Chocolate Cake with vanilla and chocolate icing

If you're looking for a stunning and unique cake for your next celebration, get in touch with Sophie either via instagram @sophieskitchen1 or and don’t forget to mention The Foodie Inc. 

Now... I just need to find a good excuse to use Sophie’s Kitchen again myself!



ps Don’t ask for the chocolate cake recipe. It’s a secret, developed over time and it’s kept in her head!