Friday, 19 December 2008

Coquitos - Coconut Macaroons

I've been baking and cooking a lot lately. Also taking lots of photos. Both are very addictive. :)
Today couldn't be any different :)

Yesterday whilst looking at pictures on Flickr, I ran across some really pretty cookies made by Karen. They were Scottish shortbread and had been piped, and had a glace cherry on top.
They reminded me of the coquitos (coconut macaroons) I used to have in Uruguay when I was a child. Last night I was on a mission to find a recipe, but I wanted a Uruguayan one. And I found this one. It's in Spanish, but basically the ingredients are

6 egg yolks
150 g dessicated coconut
150 g sugar
50 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

You basically mix all the ingredients and form the mix into balls which you roll on the icing sugar.
I don't like to use just yolks when i have no plans for the whites, so I set upon doing my own thing following the list of ingredients. So this is what I used

4 large eggs
250 g dessicated coconut
200 g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs water (optional)
Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If your paste is too thick to pipe with a large piping tip, then add the water, and keep adding one tablespoon of water at a time until you get a consistency you can pipe. If your eggs are extra large, you may not need the extra water.
Bake in a medium to hot oven for 30 minutes or until done.
YUM YUM, i love these...
I don't remember ever having made them before, but they are so easy, i will surely make them again ;)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Palmiers with Passionfruit Curd - Dessert Day 8

Part of today's dessert comes to you courtesy of the very talented Thérèse-Marie (Feasting on Pixels)

I made her palmiers recipe using frozen puff pastry. As I've mentioned before I use Borg's which is vegan.
I also only had vanilla sugar, so that is what I used.

The passion fruit curd recipe came from the Taste website. I modified this recipe slightly as follows.

Once your palmiers are cooked, serve with a dollop of passion fruit curd, I'm sure Boone will be adding some vanilla ice cream to it as soon as I turn around ;).

Passion fruit Curd


10 large eggs
360gms of white sugar
350gms of Les Verges Boiron passion fruit puree
250gms of chopped chilled butter

Mix eggs and sugar until well combined, in a microwave safe glass bowl. Add butter and puree and stir.
Cook in microwave for 10-15 minutes. You must cook this mix only 1 minute at a time. You need to take it out of the microwave and stir it after each minute.
It is ready when the mix is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Thanks to Kathryn I have found out that this can be kept for up to 4 weeks in sealed jars in the fridge.
This mixture will fill up to 6 250ml jars.
Make sure your jars are sterilised. You can do this by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing and then drying in a very hot oven.
Please don't burn yourself ;)

Monday, 15 December 2008

Day 7 Dessert - Nectarine Hearts (a very easy dessert)

This was dessert for day 7

Nectarine Hearts (a very easy dessert)

1 sheet pre made puff pastry (I use Borg's which is vegan)
1 small nectarine sliced thinly
Icing sugar to dust
Vanilla ice cream


  1. Cut 6 large hearts out of your puff pastry using a cookie cutter.
  2. Place three of them on a lined cookie sheet
  3. Cover each heart with thin slices of nectarine making sure you leave a border of nectarine free pastry in order to join the top
  4. Cut a small heart out of the center of the remaining large hearts and stick on top of the hearts on the cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown
  6. Dust with icing sugar and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Dinner Day 7 - Vegetable & Chickpea Risotto

Tonight's dinner was another easy one. Risotto with chinese broccoli and almonds, followed by nectarine hearts with vanilla ice cream. Everything was a big hit with hubby who ate every last bite.
Recipe for nectarines hearts HERE
Vegetable and Chickpea Risotto
1/2 cup raw white rice
1 Tbs olive oil
200 g cooked chickpeas
100 g potato chopped
1/2 can tomato puree
1/2 medium zucchini chopped (200gms)
1 small fresh carrot chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 small red capsicum chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
6 button mushrooms cut in 6
1 tsp Zest Mama Africa Flavour
1 tsp tumeric
2.5 cups of water
1 vegetable stock cube


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan
  2. Sautee onion and capsicum until tender
  3. Add vegetables and spices, and stir till it's all mixed well
  4. Add rice and mix in till the rice is all coated in spices
  5. Add water, stock cube and tomato puree
  6. Simmer for 45 minutes or until vegetables and rice are done
  7. Serve with stirfried chinese brocolli

NOTE: The potato will take a while to cook, so to ensure your rice doesn't end up overcooking, cut up the potato in small pieces (no larger than 1cm cubes)

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday Dinner - Day 6

I took a break from cooking over the weekend. Boone likes to have vegan pies (which we buy from a vegan bakery) and cereal for breakfast on weekends. On Saturday we went out to dinner so there was no need to cook either.

Today I went back to the kitchen with a vengeance.

On Friday night whilst poring over the menus of several restaurants, (trying to find one to dine out on Saturday night) I read the description of a salad that had my taste buds calling out. It was a rocket, white peach salad with a balsamic reduction. We didn't end up going to that restaurant for dinner, we went to Kobe Jones, and the food was spectacular.

Still couldn't forget about the salad. I wasn't able to buy rocket or white peaches, ;) So I improvised with other ingredients.

Here is tonight's dinner feast :)

Stuffed Zucchinis

5 medium sized zucchinis cut in half (About 560gms)
1/2 a large onion chopped finely
1 Tbs olive oil
120gms grated pumpkin
1 small (90gms) red capsicum chopped finely
150gms cooked chickpeas
1 medium (80gms) grated carrot
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup soy milk (you can use regular milk or cream if you like)
cracked pepper


  1. Using a melon baller or a spoon scoop put the flesh from the zucchinis. Put flesh aside, as it will be used for the soup.
  2. Lay them on a tray lined with baking paper, and season with cracked salt & pepper
  3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  4. Heat oil in a non stick pan and sautee onions and capsicum
  5. Add carrots and pumpkin and cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add chickpeas and mash them roughly into the other ingredients
  7. Add soy and cook until the mixture is thick
  8. Add grated nutmeg and salt to taste
  9. Spoon filling into zucchinis and bake for 20-30 minutes until zucchinis are tender
  10. Serve with rice and salad
Zucchini, Onion & Corn Soup

270gms zucchini flesh (use the flesh leftover from the above recipe)
1/2 large onion chopped finely
1 Tbs (20mls) olive oil
1.5 cups of water
120gms fresh corn kernels
1 Massel Beef stock cube (these stock cubes are vegan)

  1. Heat oil in a pot, and sautee onion
  2. Add zucchini, and 2/3s of the corn kernels
  3. Add stock cube and water and simmer for 15 minutes until zucchini is tender.
  4. Process in a blender, and place back into the pot.
  5. Add the remaining corn kernels, and cook for a further 5 minutes
  6. Add freshly grated nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste
Spinach & Nectarine Salad

80gms of baby spinach leaves
1 small nectarine (washed and sliced)
1/4 of a small onion, sliced very finely
40gms flaked almonds
4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
  1. Place balsamic vinegar in a non stick pan and heat until it is reduced to a thick sauce, about 1/2 of it's original volume.
  2. Place spinach in a bowl, followed by nectarine, onion and almonds
  3. Dress with cracked salt, balsamic reduction and olive oil

This was the salad inspired by the peach and rocket salad at Markov.
I will have to try the one at that restaurant one day, but the version I've come up with is delicious!!! I will be making this one for the family at Christmas :)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Uruguayan Fruit Salad

This is a dessert that is very popular and traditional at Christmas time in Uruguay. I made the one below for New Year's Eve 2007. We normally have it all throughout the summer as it is very refreshing and also makes a few fruits go a long way.

Uruguayan Fruit Salad
1 red apple
1 large orange
1 nectarine
2 plums
1 x 400gm can of peaches (in natural juice)
1 x 150gm can of pineapple pieces (in natural juice)
1 large banana
200 gms of cherries
2 passion fruits
200 gms of any type of seedless grape
1 punnet of strawberries.
1 1.25 lt bottle of Fanta
  1. Place canned fruit in a large bowl along with it's juice, make sure you cut the peaches into small pieces.
  2. Wash remaining fruit thoroughly.
  3. Place cherries and grapes (minus stalks and any leaves) in the bowl.
  4. Cut up remaining fruit into small pieces and place in the bowl.
  5. Cover with Fanta.
  6. Chill and serve for dessert, lovely summer dessert, especially during the holidays when we need a stomach cool down after a heavy meal :)

    NOTE: Any of the fruits above can be omitted.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Roasted Vegetable Salad - Day 5 Lunch

This is a very straight forward lunch. There is a tip though, a great tip that will save you heaps of time cleaning up. Im sure lots of people know about this already, but i had forgotten about it until the other day.

The tip is to line your baking tray with non stick baking paper before putting on the veggies, this prevents sticking, your veggies come out a lot nicer, and you dont have to kill yourself scrubbing the tray afterwards.

Roast Veggie Salad with Walnuts
a piece of pumpkin
1 medium sized Beetroot
2 small washed potatoes
1 medium onion
1 carrot
6 walnuts

Peel, wash and cut all the vegetables and place on a roasting tray that you've previously lined with non stick baking paper.
Sprinkle with a little salt. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in a hot oven for 1-2 hours, the baking time will depend on how big you've cut your beetroot, this is the veggie that takes the longest.

Halfway through baking add the chopped walnuts and continue baking.

Serve with baby spinach leaves or as is. It looks pretty dull as is, but tastes yummy all the same. I had no greens to go with it. Next time i will certainly put the spinach leaves.
Turns out that after i took the photo Boone added rocket and parsley. He said it was delicious.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Lentil & Veg Patties with brown rice - Dinner day 4

Lentil & Veg Patties

150gms cooked brown lentils
1 medium onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
150gms chopped & boiled sweet potato
1 large egg
2 Tbs plain flour
1/2 tsp Zest Mama Flavour
Olive oil for sauteing the onions

Heat some olive oil in a pan, and sautee onions and carrots.
Place egg in a bowl, then mix in all other ingredients to form a thick paste.
Heat some extra olive oil in a non stick pan. I used egg rings to form the patties. Put egg rings in the fry pan and place mix into the rings to form a pattie. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Asparagus & Carrot Side Dish
120 gms of asparagus cut in half
1 medium carrot cut into sticks
3 walnuts chopped coarsely
olive oil
1/4 tsp of Zest Fearlessly Hot spice

Heat olive oil in a non stick pan, and sautee the vegetables & walnuts. Add spice and one tablespoon of tamari at the end. Serve with patties and brown rice

Paprika Mayo Serving Sauce
1 tablespoon of Hellmans mayo
1 tablespoon of Ajvar paprika relish
Mix together and serve as an accompaniment to the patties

Roll with Roasted & Fresh Vegetables - Lunch Day 4

1 large baguette
Hellmans Mayonnaise
Copperpot Salsa with Capsicum & Cashews
Sesame Seeds
Marinated Roasted Capsicum

Roasted Veggies
Pumpkin sliced
2 thick slices of eggplant
1 carrot cut into sticks

Fresh Veggies
1 small firm tomato
1 small avocado
a handful of washed rocket

Roast pumpkin, eggplant and carrot after drizzling with a small amount of olive oil. Use baking paper on your tray to prevent sticking. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Cut baguette in half lengthways and spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on one side and salsa on the other.

Layer all roasted vegetables on the mayonnaise side, then top with avocado. Layer rocket and tomato on the side of the bread you spread with salsa. Finishing with sesame seeds.

Join the two sides together and cut in half.
Serve to a very hungry person :)

Pancakes with Honey & Bananas - Breakfast day 4

So today Boone got a completely different breakfast to the previous days. He didn't end up finishing it, because he couldn't resist having part of his lunch too ;)

This recipe makes 4 largish pancakes
Oat Bran pancakes
1/2 cup Oat Bran
1/2 cup Self raising flour
1/2 cup soy milk
1 large egg
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs water
1 banana
icing sugar for dusting

Mix all ingredients to make a thick batter. Cook in a frypan which has been coated with margarine or butter on medium heat.

Place on a plate and put sliced banana on top, and drizzle with honey. I heated the honey in the microwave to make it more pourable.

Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Dinner on day 3 - Marinated Tofu with vegetables & Eggplant Chips

aThe idea for this recipe came from a low calorie cookbook that I've had for a long time and never used. It never occurred to me before to marinate tofu.

Marinated Tofu & Vegetable Stir Fry
180gms firm tofu
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs Tamari
1/2 Tbs of honey
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
100gms broccolini cut in 4s
90gms snowpeas
1 large onion cut into wedges
8 baby corn cut in half lengthways

Mix the tamari, Worcestershire sauce and honey in a bowl. Place in the sliced tofu and cover with glad wrap. Refrigerate for two hours.
Drain the tofu and reserve the marinade.
Heat some olive oil in a wok or large fry pan and cook the tofu.
Remove tofu from pan. Stir fry the vegetables until they are done (i like mine to still be crunchy).
Add tofu and marinade and cook for a minute. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve with steamed rice.

Eggplant Chips
1 medium sized eggplant
bread crumbs
1 lightly beaten egg
Cut eggplant into chips, and salt lightly. Set aside for a few hours.
Rinse eggplant and dry well.
Dip eggplant chips in egg and then in breadcrumbs.
Deep fry and drain on kitchen paper.

Easy Apple Dessert

1 medium sized Red Delicious apple (peeled and chopped)
2 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs water
1/2 cup of ready made custard
2 sheets of pre made puff pastry (I use Borg's, the one i get is vegan)

Place apple, sugar and water in a small pan, and cook on slow heat until apple is soft.

Add custard to the mix, and cook until the custard has reduced and the mixture is thick, set aside to cool.

Cut pastry with a round cutter, and place a large tablespoon of the mix in the middle, cut another piece of the same size (decorate if you like) and place on top of the apple mix, and seal the sides.

Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Take two on the sushi for breakfast - Day 3

Yesterday's sushi were not very close to the ones that we've had at Tomodachi because of lack of ingredients. So today armed with most of the right ingredients I gave it another shot. Still used sweet potato instead of pumpkin and added the carrot, but once hubby sat down to eat them he said "We don't need to go to Tomodachi anymore"

So yeah, they were a huge hit, and OMG so delicious!!!

Sweet Potato & Avocado Sushi
Pre cooked Sushi Rice mixed in with
Sushi Rice Seasoning (I bought this instead of the Mirin because that is all that was available, but the Mirin is so much better)
Kewpie Mayonnaise
Sesame Seeds (toasted)
Sweet Potato (see yesterday's recipe for preparation details)

Cover your bamboo rolling mat with glad wrap (saran). Place seaweed sheet on the wrap and cover with rice, making sure you put rice right up to the edges. Press it down firmly.

Turn seaweed sheet upside down, so that your rice is now facing the bamboo mat (still covered in glad wrap)

Put some mayonnaise on the seaweed, and then place all your fillings. (i put double the amount of filling in them this time)

Roll up tightly, and then roll over some of the sesame seeds which have been pre toasted.

Cut with a sharp knife and serve with wasabi and Kikkoman soy sauce.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

It's breakfast today - A different kind of sushi

Last night before going to bed, i did a lot of prep work for Boone's breakfast. I cooked some rice, and sweet potato, and left all the tools I needed out so I wouldn't have to go rummaging in the morning.

The last three times that we have gone out to dinner it has been to a Japanese restaurant named Tomodachi . We love it. It is so good!!! We ALWAYS order pumpkin sushi, which consists of pumpkin tempura wrapped in rice and seaweed with a bit of avocado. It is then rolled on sesame seeds and served with mayonaise and ginger.

I thought i would make this for Boone's breakfast but lo and behold i had no pumpkin or sesame seeds. So i rummaged through our fridge and found sweet potato. Hm that would do, wouldn't it??

So at the crack of dawn i was up frying sweet potato and assembling some sushi. These were made with the seaweed on the outside, whereas the ones at Tomodachi are done with the rice on the outside (I will try those next time :) )

They went down a treat, he loved them!!!

Sweet Potato & Avocado Sushi
1 cup of sushi rice raw (cooked with 1.5 cups of water or as per packet instructions)
3 tablespoons of Mirin
1 tablespoon of Cooking Sake
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 a small avocado
1/2 a carrot sliced very thinly (I use a special tool for this that gets them as thin as if they were shredded but in long strips)
50gms of sweet potato cut into sticks (Like thick chips, and cooked in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high)
3 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of cornflour
2 seaweed sheets

Whilst the rice is cooking, mix the mirin, sake and sugar in a pot, and heat the mixture until the sugar melts. Set aside.

Once the rice is done, pour the mirin mix over the rice and mix it in. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Dust the cooked sweet potato with the flour and corn flour and deep fry until golden brown.

Press half of the rice mix over one of the seaweed sheets, and press down firmly. Add one piece of the sweet potato, then some avocado and some carrots. Roll up tightly and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the rice. Cut into small bit sized pieces and serve with wasabe and soy sauce.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Im not fattening up a turkey for Christmas :)

About 3 months ago, my husband finally stopped eating meat. He wasn't a big meat eater for a very long time, and only really had chicken and fish once in a long while. Since he gave up meat he has lost quite a bit of weight. His father saw him on Skipe the other day and asked him if he was sick because he was so thin.

We tend to eat at different times because we get home from work at different times. When he cooks he tends to be quite lazy and makes whatever is simplest, and usually makes something very boring and low on calories. Add to the fact that he usually only eats an orange or banana for breakfast, and a salad for lunch, it's no wonder he's lost weight.

Here I am struggling to lose weight, and he loses it with no effort.

Anyway I am on a mission to feed him better, and since work has been a lot quieter these days I started my cooking advetures today. This is what he got for dinner on day 1. Let's see if it works and when he gets to Thailand on Christmas day his dad no longer thinks he looks sick :)

Fingers crossed everyone!!!

Mushroom & Lentil Cottage Pie
350gms brown lentils (pre cooked)
1 large onion chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium carrot chopped or grated
1/4 cup of tomato paste
Kernels from two fresh corn cobs
2 tablespoons of Zest African Mama spice
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
5 medium sized button mushrooms thinly sliced
100gms of Enoki mushrooms (separated)
1 Massel Beef Stock Cube (these are not real beef, but vegetarian beef cubes)
4 medium sized potatoes (peeled and boiled)
3 tablespoons of Nuttelex (dairy free margarine)

Heat olive oil in a pan and sautee onions until they become transparent.
Add carrots, and spices and fry off a little
Add mushrooms, and lower heat.
Add corn kernels, tomato paste, lentils, stock cube and half a cup of water.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to avoid the mixture sticking to the pan.
Set aside

Mash potatoes with Nuttelex and set aside.

Pour mushroom/lentil mix onto individual oven dishes, and top with mashed potato.
Bake for 20 minutes until mash becomes slightly browned. (My dishes were big enough to only get two servings out of this recipe)

Serve with brown rice and steamed or sauteed vegetables.

Yummy Asparagus

Sautee asparagus spears in some olive oil and add 2 tablespoons of Tamari and 2 tablespoons of Mirin towards the end. Serve with rice.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Father's Day - Making some of dad's favourites

My dad has a couple of things that he loves eating (apart from sweets :) )
One of those is stuffed tomatoes. For some unknown reason, we only make them at Christmas. I decided to break from tradition and make them for Father's day, cause dad just loves them.
They are very easy to make

8-10 medium sized ripe but firm tomatoes
400gms of cooked rice
200gms of mayonnaise (approximately)
1 425gm can of tuna in olive oil (drained)
2 small onions chopped
Olive oil
5 stuffed olives cut in half.

1. Sautee onions in olive oil until they become transparent. Do not allow them to color. Remove from heat.

2. Cut out a circle at the top of the tomato, and using a spoon remove all the seeds and pulp. Rinse them and put them upside down on a piece of kitchen paper to drain.

3. In a large bowl mix in the rice, onion, tuna, mayo.

4. Using a small spoon fill the the tomatoes with the rice filling.

5. Cover the top with a little more mayonnaise and decorate with half an olive.

I don't actually eat these, as I'm vegetarian. For a vegetarian option, sautee one red capsicum (chopped) together with the onions, and then add one greated carrot, and cook until tender. Allow to cool and then add it to the rice and mayo mix.

Another of dad's favourites is canneloni. They are a variation of the italian ones. I am not sure if anyone else in the world makes them this way, in fact they're not really canneloni, but that is what we call them. They are thin crepes filled with spinach, ricotta, fresh corn kernels, sauteed onions and white sauce.

I made about 40 of these, some of them got frozen at mum's and some at home, because hubby also loves them. The filling I am going to detail below makes approximately 30-40 of them, depending on how much you fill each one.

Ingredients for Filling
1kg of fresh ricotta (i bought it still warm from the cheese factory)
400gms of baby spinach leaves (washed and drained)
2 medium onions chopped finely
Kernels removed from 4 medium sized fresh corn cobs.
2 cups of white sauce (made with flour butter and milk)
Ground nutmeg
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, and sautee onions until lightly coloured.

  2. Add baby spinach leaves and stir until they have just wilted.

  3. Mix in ricotta, corn kernels, and white sauce, until all well combined.

  4. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

  5. Use aroun 2-3 large heaped tablespoons to fill each crepe, and roll up, and place in a deep oven tray so they can be heated up in the oven.

I don't have an exact recipe for the crepes. But i made about 4 or so batches of the following to make enough crepes for all the filling above

Crepe Recipe (rough recipe, not exact)
In a blender place
1 large egg
400mls of full cream milk
2 tablespoons of finely greated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of plain flour

Blend, and add more flour or milk to form a mixture with the consistency of thickened cream. Cook on a non stick pan. I like my crepes to be very thin, but having a very thin mix means getting lots of holes, so you need to get a perfect consistency :)

Heat up your filled crepes and serve with extra white sauce and pasta sauce. We heated ours up in the microwave, but you can also heat them up in the oven :)

Pasta Sauce
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large red capsicum finely chopped
2 400gm cans of chopped tomatoes (i only use 100% tomatoes, with no added sugar or other preservatives etc)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onion and capsicum in olive oil until tender. You can now add your tomatoes and cook it for 40 or so minutes, but I put the tomatoes and the cooked capsicum and onion in the food processor to make the sauce a little less chunky. Once it was all blended together, i put it back in the pot and simmered it for about 30-40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Spring time in Winter

After much arm twisting and strong suggestions, I finally agreed to (thank goodness!!!) tag along with my bestest buddy in the world to yet another interstate cake course this year.

This was a 2.5 day advanced sugar flowres course at Planet Cake. The teacher non other than the wonderful and super talented Greg Cleary of Sweetums. The man is the GOD OF SUGARFLOWERS. Man he's good!!!!

We left Melbourne in the wee hours of the morning of Friday 10th of July. It was freezing cold here in Melbourne. It was dark when we arrived at the airport, but by the time our flight took off the sun was shining. We arrived in Sydney at around 9.00am (I think that was the time). The sun welcomed us, and it was lovely and warm. I sat in the taxi, with the full sun on me, fealing like a happy fat seal lying on the beach.

Fran brought her own fruit cakes to the class, covered in marzipan. The cake is destined as a present for her friend, whose birthday is at the end of August. The things weighed a ton, but I couldn’t help her out, because I was struggling with my bag which weighed a little under a ton. Lucky for Fran her wonderful hubby, who works in Sydney during the week, took her clothes up with him and left them at the concierge for her to pick up when we checked in. Because of this she was able to fly with no luggage.

First day at PC, we filled and covered our cakes with ganache. The cake looked nice, it was a three colour marble mudcake.

After ganaching we made the centers for our tulips, all the parts for the lily of the valley, the sweet peas, and some buds. We also covered our boards with fondant and added the ribbon trim.

Class finished at around 4.00pm, but Fran and I stayed back gas bagging with Greg, Anna Maria (AKA Madhatter Queen) and Paris (owner of PC), until about 5.00pm.

We arranged to meet Greg afterwards for dinner. We went back to our hotel, and bummed around for a bit. Greg came to meet us at our hotel in the city at around 7.30, and we just walked down the street to an Italian restaurant (La Bora) that David (Fran's hubby) had recommended. We had a very delicious dinner, and great conversation, although Fran had lost 85% of her voice, and the place was packed to the rafters, and very bloody noisy!!! It was a wonderful night, and Greg had us mesmerized with his wonderful stories. The staff at the restaurant though, were very bizzarre and made the characters from the Rocky Horror Picture Show seem tame and normal ;)

We got to sleep at around 11.30pm, woke up at 8.00am so that we could go and have brekkie at the hotel cafe before class. For some unknown reason, i was absolutely starving and had to have a full breakfast of eggs, toast and hash browns. Hmmmm Brekkie was yummy!!

We got to class and Greg had bought us a lovely treat. The night before he had been telling us about a place that he walked past every day on the way to Planet Cake, that had beautiful pastries. He bought us a delicious Lime and Almond tart, OMG, it was devine!!!

During our class we covered our cakes, and did all the petals for our flowers. We finished class at around 5.00pm on Saturday. It was a very busy day!!!

Back to the hotel again, to have a very quick shower and to get ready to go and see the Phantom of The Opera OMG can a girl have a better friend than Fran??? Nope I really really doubt it!!! She bought the tickets, so that I could go and see my very first musical. AND MAN!!! It was soooo wonderful, I was just in awe of it all. I loved it, loved it, LOVED IT!!!! Anthony Warlow is fabulous, and Alexander Lewis is gorgeous!!!

After the show, we went straight back to our hotel, we were very very tired, and tried to get to sleep ASAP because we had agreed with Greg that we would go into class at 8.00pm to get an early start on our cakes, we needed to be packed and checked out of the hotel by 7.00am.

Unfortunately, there was very loud music coming from a pub downstairs, and we couldn't get to sleep. We got into silly giggles, and I was having stupid laughing attacks over the silliest things. It was fun, but we didn’t fall asleep till waaaaay past midnight!!!!

It was very hard to get up at 6.00am, but we had no choice. Brekkie got us going a bit, and off to class again. We were lucky and managed to finish in time to head off to the airport at 1.15pm. We missed out on the group photo though.I was sooooo absolutely gobsmacked with my cake, I just could not stop staring at it. I just love it that much!!!

Greg is such a wonderful teacher. He wrote fantastic notes for us, and taught us so many great tricks. The fact that he was a florist and he has such a love for flowers really shows in his work, and his beautiful flower placement. Flower placement was something that I had no clue about before this class. I feel so privileged to know him.

Fran left her cake in Sydney to be shipped by courier, but because my cake was not destined for any particular event, I decided to just check it in as fragile luggage.

The flight was pleasant, but arriving into Melbourne, there was a lot of wind, and it was a bumpy sort of landing, quite scary really, but the pilotess got us home safe :)

Hubby, David(Fran's hubby) and D'arcy were all waiting for us at the airport. It was great to see them all.

My cake arrived in perfect condition. wooohooo!!!!
I would certainly do another class with Greg Cleary, at the drop of a hat!! No doubt about it.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Cupcakes

My work pays for all employees to do two days of volunteer leave.

They have organized heaps of activities that ppl can go on, and I've been attending one on a regular basis. It is only 4 hours, so on those days i only take half the leave, and then get to do 4 days per year.

Anyhoo i help out at One Umbrella which is a food rescue organization. They rescue food that is good, from restaurants, bakeries etc, that would otherwise be thrown out.

They produce about half a million meals a year all with donated goods. These meals go to different agencies that provide meals for the homeless and the needy. So this year since i had no orders around this time, I offered to make them 60 - 80 cupcakes for easter.

They were thrilled, unfortunately i got all these orders to do now, so i could only make 63, still managed to keep my promise, but i was really hoping to give them about 100. I will try again at Christmas.

Anyway 1/3 of the cupcakes are white choc coconut mud, and the others choc mud.

Roll out a fairly thick piece of gumpaste or fondant mixed with CMC/Gum Trag/Gum Tex and cut with a long leaf cutter

Give it a bit of a bend on the end, and allow to dry overnight. Make as many as you're going to need for all your cupcakes.

Roll out the same coloured fondant, use a round cutter the same size as the top of the cupcake you're covering. Cover the cupcake and smooth over.

With a knife cut two slits a few milimeters away from the wrapper.

Insert the ears, they must be completely dry and fairly thick or they will break

Cut out two small ovals or rounds for the eyes and stick them on. Please note i didnt use any glue or water to stick any bits on, as the fondant was very soft and everything just stuck to eachother ;)

Cut out a small rectangle of white gumpaste, you can do this at the same time as you do the ears, so they can dry and it will save you time too ;)

Mark the teeth, and cut in half.

Roll out a thick piece of fondant, and cut out two small circles. Roll them into balls, and then stick them on the bottom of the face.

Roll two tiny balls of blue gumpaste or fondant and stick on the eyes.

Roll another small ball of dark pink for the nose, and flatten a little. Then two tiny balls of black for the pupils :D

Cut a slit at the front to insert the teeth, and mark where the whiskers would go with a toothpick

Making the ears and teeth first will save you a lot of time.