Anzac Biscuits

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If I could choose one biscuit that says childhood to me, it’s the classic Anzac bikkie. On the weekend, Grace and I stood side by side in our little kitchen and baked together. We measured, we stirred, Grace licked the bowl and in no time at all we had trays of warm, freshly baked Anzac biscuits to enjoy for afternoon tea. They’re chewy, softly sweet and hopefully baking them together will be a lovely childhood memory that Grace can cherish. Here’s the recipe……

Ingredients
110g (1&1/4 cups) rolled oats
150g (1 cup) plain flour, sifted
65g (3/4 cup) desiccated coconut
150g (3/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g unsalted butter, cubed
60ml (1/4 cup) water
2 Tbs golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate soda

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
2. Combined the rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl, mix well.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, water and golden syrup. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate soda. Add immediately to the dry ingredients, using a wooden spoon to mix until combined.
4. Drop teaspoons of mixture onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Allow space between each, as the biscuits will spread during cooking. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the trays from the oven. Allow the biscuits to rest for a minute or two on the tray then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Enjoy x

Greek yogurt cake (Yiaourtopita)

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This is one of my favourite cakes to bake. Its gentle golden colour, the moist and light crumb, the subtle flavour of lemon. I always feel better knowing that this cake is baked and sitting on the kitchen bench, ready to cut into.

Ingredients
180g unsalted butter, room temperature
250g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
Zest of 1 small lemon
300g plain flour
1 Tbs baking powder
Pinch of salt
250g full fat Greek yogurt

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Grease and line a 24cm springform tin.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale. I use my stand mixer for this.
Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
Add the vanilla essence and lemon zest and beat until combined.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt, along with the yogurt and beat gently until smooth.
Spoon into the tin. The mixture will be quite thick!
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Keep an eye on it from about 35 minutes, the crumb of this cake should be light and moist so be careful not to over-bake.
Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
I would say to then turn it out onto a wire rack, but honestly we cut it warm straight from the tin and it is absolute heaven just like that.
Enjoy x

Sweet Potato Bake

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This recipe, an Ottolenghi favourite, is one of those dishes that is always just the right thing for any dinner table. It’s a handful of simple ingredients, cooked long and slow, and the result is nothing short of spectacular. Please, please go and buy some humble sweet potatoes and try this recipe – your family and friends will love you for it!

Ingredients
1.5kg sweet potatoes
1 bunch fresh sage, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp sea salt
A few grinds of black pepper
300ml thickened cream

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Wash the sweet potatoes (don’t peel them) and cut them into thin slices. I use a mandolin, but if you don’t have one, use a sharp knife and do your best to slice them thinly.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, sage, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them by hand then tumble the whole lot into a large baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil, place in the oven and roast for 60-70 minutes, or until potatoes are softened when checked with a sharp knife.
Remove the foil and pour the cream evenly over the potatoes. Roast uncovered for a further 45 minutes. Stick a sharp knife in different places in the dish to make sure the potatoes are cooked. They should be totally soft, the cream lovely and thick and the whole dish rich and slightly caramelised in parts.
Serve immediately. I generally pop the whole baking tray into the middle of the table and serve it family style.

Apple picking adventures and a quince paste recipe

Saturday morning….the girls stirred at 5.30am and I knew that today was the day for an adventure. We bundled up in vests, hats and gumboots and settled in for a long drive to the mountains. It was time to get out into nature and pick some apples. 

Winding up through the mountains the air cleared, the temperature dropped and everything felt cool and green and very autumnal. We visited Bilpin Springs Farm and were given a quick tour, then left to pick our fruit. What a contrast to choosing fruit in the supermarket! We picked red delicious, golden delicious, bramley (the best variety for apple pie) and an added bonus was the quinces. 
It was lovely to escape the city, get out into nature and show our girls where their food comes from. And now adventures await in the kitchen. We got straight into prepping the quinces and a very moreish quince paste is now bubbling away on the stove. 
Here’s the recipe….
Ingredients
650g quince, peeled and chopped 

250ml water 

1 x strip lemon peel 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

175g white sugar

175g brown sugar

Method
Combine quince, water, lemon peel and vanilla extract in a medium heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer (covered) for 25-30 minutes, until quince is soft.

Blend the softened quinces, lemon peel and whatever is left of their poaching water in a blender or food processor until smooth.

In a large heavy based saucepan, combine the sugars with the blended quince.

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugars are dissolved.

Turn the heat as low as possible and cook (covered) for a further 3 or so hours until burgundy in colour.

Cool for 20 minutes and pour into clingfilm lined moulds.

Set in the fridge for a few hours.

Enjoy x 

Breadandbabies best ever roast chicken

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When the best roast chicken then becomes the best leftovers.

You know when you think you’re going pretty well at cooking roast chicken? And then one day you have a whole chicken, but none of your other usual ingredients….so you have a think…..you raid the vegetable crisper, your herb garden and suddenly you have the BEST roast chicken you’ve ever made? Pretty much by accident? That’s what happened to me this week….

Lemon & rosemary roast chicken

Ingredients…
1 whole chicken (1.4kg)
3 Tbs salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 lemon, zested (reserve the lemon for the chicken cavity)
3 stalks fresh rosemary from your herb garden, finely chopped (equates to about 2 Tbs chopped rosemary)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method…
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Combine butter, lemon zest and rosemary. Season with a pinch of salt, add a few grinds of black pepper. Mix until combined.
Ease your fingers under the skin over the chicken breast, to create a pocket. Scoop up some butter, slide your fingers between the skin and the breast and massage the butter into the breast. Repeat with the other breast. If you have leftover butter, rub over the skin of the chicken.
Halve the lemon, and pop into the chicken’s cavity (up its behind, basically).
Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, 2-3 pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Pop into a roasting tray and put into the preheated oven.
Roast for 1.5 hours. To check it’s cooked, gently slide a sharp knife into the join between the leg and the breast. If the juices run clear, it’s done.
Pull out of the oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Carve, serve and enjoy!
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Note – I served my roast with ratatouille and risoni pasta. Then tonight we used the leftovers for the most luscious chicken sambos – chicken, ratatouille, avocado and cheese on ciabatta bread. SO good.

Byron Bay Part 2

Warm days. Clear ocean waves. Sandy feet. Beautiful local produce. Sunset and bird calls. These are just a few of the memories I cherish year round about Byron Bay. And this year is no different.

Here are a few more of our favourite moments….

Woods  Bangalow

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Woods Bangalow 🌿

Woods has it all … pared back decor, relaxed friendly staff and great coffee. The menu is plant-based and this little cafe in the arts precinct of Bangalow is a true reflection of the relaxed and bohemian north coast.

The Topshop Cafe

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Breakfast burger at The Topshop Cafe

 

We are so lucky that this cafe is literally a few metres from the house we rent each year. Set in a buttery yellow cottage atop a hill, Topshop is a testament to their dedication to local produce. They have an excellent menu where it’s hard to choose from so many beautiful things. Their breakfast burger & acai bowls are standouts – fresh & delicious. Great coffee too. A local favourite.

Doma

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The prettiest porridge at Doma

We spent a very special Sunday at Doma this year, catching up with family & friends. We sat outside under the shade, listened to live music, talked & ate. A happy day. This cafe, run by a talented Japanese crew, is far off the beaten track, in the tiny village of Federal. A really interesting menu with a Japanese twist & fantastic coffee. Their version of a hash brown is well worth the drive from Byron!

Whites Beach

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The rugged beauty of Whites Beach

My husband was determined to see this beach, one of Byron’s secret beaches that he’d read about. We drove, we hiked with the babies & we were rewarded – with a beach that was like something you see in the movies. The girls played, we swam & enjoyed the solitude & sheer beauty of this special spot.

Teatree lake

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Blissing out in the teatree lake

I’d seen Byron’s teatree lakes on social media and was intrigued. Equally intriguing was that no one seemed keen to reveal the location of these lakes! So one sunny afternoon we set off, following some vague directions from a friend of a friend. We followed sandy trails among the bushland near Byron Bay high school & came upon the mystical lake. And it really was magic – the colour of copper, the water was warm & felt soft on my skin. I was so reluctant to leave & so thankful that we’d made the effort to find this soothing place.

And that’s it for another year. Byron Bay 2017, done & dusted. We love you Byron and can’t wait to return. X

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Byron Bay Part 1

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The Pass….absolute magic

Every year we come to Byron Bay for our family holiday. We stay in the same old house with the frangipani tree out the front and the lovely big verandah out the back.

And each year it marks a new stage in our lives. The first year Elle was just a baby, and Grace a toddler. The next year Elle was just starting to walk & Grace was running. This year the girls are playing together, paddling in the surf on Daddy’s surfboard & starting to show the start of a lifelong bond as sisters.

And so we drive through the rolling green hills of this beautiful place. And we swim in the clear, warm water of these pristine beaches. And we eat so very, very well. It’s a joy to be here each year, to slow down as a family, to relax and recharge for another year in the city.

Here are some of our favourite Byron Bay moments so far…..

The Farm
This Byron Bay institution is a constantly evolving spot. Bakery, produce store, restaurant, flower shop, kids park, working farm, macadamia orchard. The menu is super imaginative & uses lots of produced farmed onsite. It’s just a really cool place to go, whether it’s for a quick coffee & a loaf of bread or a more leisurely visit. We love it here.

New Brighton farmers market
Visiting local farmers markets is one of my favourite things to do in and around Byron Bay. This was my first visit to the New Brighton market & it was just right – not too big, a small selection of producers, a guy playing guitar. All on a sunny morning by a pretty river. Idyllic, really. We stocked up on local honey, free range eggs, apples, bananas, the sweetest grape tomatoes & some amazing soap from the passionate folk at Churchfarm General Store.

The Pass
Almost no words to describe this spot. Every afternoon we spend hours here, surfing, swimming, playing & chilling out. There’s a real melting pot of locals & tourists, all drawn by the absolute beauty of this spot, the crystal clear water and the waves. The Pass is magic.

We’re here for a week more and I’ll post more of our favourite spots.

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Checking out the pigs at The Farm
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A great visit to the New Brighton farmers market
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The 3 Blue Ducks boys deliver on creativity & flavour
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Donuts. And custard tarts. Life is good at The Bread Social. 
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Having a chat with my big girl on our way to to the macadamia orchard.