Berries andPie

baking, cooking, recipes, eating, and obsessing over food

Monday, May 25, 2009

Coconut Ice-Cream

Coconut Ice-cream

I don't know why I waited for the mercury to drop to decide I NEEDED to make more ice-cream. I mean, there's nothing quite like a frozen dessert on a cold night to warm your cockles, is there? Hubby is a BIG ice-cream fan anyway, meaning it never gets wasted, so who's complaining?

I was walking around the supermarket when I was inspired by a tin of coconut cream. I knew instantly that its destiny was to become dessert. So, coconut ice-cream, the perfect summer treat (I'm clearly seasonally challenged) was made. Here is its story.

Coconut Ice-Cream

Makes about 600ml


- 400ml tin of coconut cream
- 200ml of cream
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 3 to 5 tbsp of shredded or dessicated coconut (optional - it will just give the ice-cream a stronger flavour and some texture)


  1. place the the sugar and coconut cream in a saucepan big enough to hold all ingredients, and stir over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the cream to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the mix starts boiling.
  3. Remove from heat, add in the extra coconut, and cool to room temperature, stirring regularly (this helps the ice-cream cool quicker and stops a skin from developing on it).
  4. Pour into a 1L capacity container and freeze.
  5. When the edges freeze (this will probably take a couple of hours) remove from the freezer and beat (I just use a hand beater). Return to the freezer and repeat about 3 times.


This makes a bit more than half a litre. When the mixture is not yet frozen you may notice it's very sweet and strong-flavoured, but it needs to be so you have the right taste and texture when frozen. The amount of sugar is really important to the end consistency of the ice-cream, and making sure it's not a rock-hard block!


Chai Tea Ice-Cream

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dad's Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

With the cold setting in, a surpluss of chicken stock, and being a little under the weather myself, trusty old chicken soup swiftly made its way back into my life last week.

I was quite unwell last year when my Dad sweetly offered his recipe for chicken soup. Dad's a big meat eater, though, so don't be too surprised by the lack of vegetable here. I love my vegies, and I'll be adding leek, carrot and celery to make this a more rounded meal next time.

Chicken Soup

Dad's Chicken Soup

Feeds a small army. You may want to halve the recipe.


- 2kg chicken drumsticks
- 1 litre of good quality chicken stock
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1 large onion
- 1 cup rice
- Coriander or Parsley to taste


  1. Dice onion and put into large saucepan with chicken drummies. Add the liquid chicken stock and stock cube, then use water to cover the drummies. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring to boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until the drumsticks are cooked (about 45 minutes, but test for yourself). Remove drumsticks, and put aside to cool.
  3. Add 1 cup of rice and, and if you're adding any extra vegetables, add them in now. Return to the boil, then lower to a simmer until rice is cooked.
  4. Take chicken meat off drumsticks, discarding the bones, and cut up and add back to soup. Chop up coriander and add to soup. Serve, eat and enjoy.


- If allowing to cool in the fridge before eating, the fat will separate and set on top. Skim it off and discard.

- This is best eaten within a day. If cooling make sure it's piping hot before eating.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hawkesbury Harvest Farmers And Fine Food Market - Castle Hill

This weekend just past marks my first ever visit to a real-life farmers' markets. It was very exciting indeed.

I'm not a morning person. Really I'm not. On numerous times I've campaigned  to be allowed to become nocturnal, but it just won't fly. It was, however, with great gusto that I leapt out of bed on Saturday morning, at a time beginning with a single digit no less, and reminded husband that he was taking me to the Hawkesbury Harvest Farmers' and Fine Food Market in Castle Hill.

There was a mixture of fresh produce, hot food, as well as meats, cheeses, breads and jams; I felt like the kid in the proverbial candy-store!


We ended up taking home a tub of lemon myrtle youghurt, which is the nicest I've ever tasted. I'm not normally a youghurt fan (I always associate it with the over-sweet supermarket variety), but I could eat a whole tub of the stuff!
We also picked up some perfect brahman apples: crispy and fresh, not at all floury, and perfectly tart.

Apples were $6 a bag (about a kilo)

Husband had a delicious honey and port cured bacon (he won't eat eggs) roll for his breakfast, which was gone in seconds. He loves his bacon, but this was a real treat.

Honey and port cured bacon and egg roll $6

I ended up [reluctantly] dragging myself away from the poffertjes and having a fresh-cooked vegetarian (spinach and fetta) gozleme, yum!

Gozleme $8

The markets definitely weren't cheap, and while I'm not likely to change my shopping habits around them, it was a nice day out, with a good friendly family vibe.

The markets are held at Castle Hill Showground on the second Saturday of every month, from 8am - 1pm. When we arrived around 11 it was busy but not crowded, with plenty of (free!) parking. It was a beautiful sunny morning; the mood was relaxed and cheerful, and the fresh (and at times unusual) produce was beautiful and bountiful. I'd never seen purple or black potatoes before Saturday!

If you're headed in, give yourself an hour or two to relax, walk around and enjoy something delicious for breakfast. I'd suggest taking a bag for any delicious goodies you pick up along the way!

Contact/Get There:

Castle Hill: Farmers & Fine Food Market
Castle Hill Showground Castle Hill, enter via Carrington Road.

Starts 8:00am, 2nd Saturday each month, except January

May - Sat 9th
July - Sat 11th
June - Sat 13th

View Larger Map


My clever Mum just sent me a link to the Australian Farmers' Markets Association Market Finder, also. Clever lady - no excuse for missing them now!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Apricot Jam and Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Apricot Jam and Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Buttercream Icing :D

Yup! Say that 5 times fast!

After a weekend of spectacularly failed macarons, I was left with containers full of delicious buttercream filling in my fridge. Lacking my planned home-cooked Mothers' Day presents, the humble cupcake came swiftly to the rescue.

I can't admit to ever having made s cupcake entirely based around icing before, but I thought chocolate brown would look pretty against the pale marshmallow colours of my buttercream. While mixing the cupcake batter I thought of some apricot preserve leftover in the fridge from Easter's hot-cross buns; I thought it might add a bit of interest.

This is a really light and moist cupcake recipe and, as they cook, the jam mixes in with cupcake batter, falling to the bottom of the patty-pans. You end up with delicious fluffy bites of cupcake with a nice hint of warm apricot to follow each mouthful.

Apricot Jam and Chocolate Cupcakes with rosewater and vanilla bean buttercream Icing

Makes 12

Apricot Jam and Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Buttercream Icing :D


For the chocolate cupcakes:
- 125g self-raising flour
- 125g caster sugar
- 125g butter
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbspn orange juice
- 4 tbspn apricot jam
- 2 tbspn cocoa powder

For the buttercream icing:
(Adapted from the incredibly talented Tartalette)

- 1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 tspn rosewater essence
- a few drops of red food colouring (it just depends on how coloured you want it)
- Innards (the seeds) of 1 vanilla bean


For the cupcakes :

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (conventional), and line a cupcake tray with patty-pans
  2. Combine the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and beat (using electric beaters if you have them) until pale and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating until fully combined after each.
  4. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and add the orange juice; stir until fully combined and the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide the mixture into the prepared cupcake tray holes.
  6. Put about 1/2 tspn of jam onto the top of each cupcake (I used my finger to make a little well in each). You may find this easier if you microwave the jam for about 15 seconds, or heat it over the stove until it's at a honey-like consistency.
  7. Bake your cupcakes for 15-20 minutes. They're done when puffed and the centres are springy to the (gentle) touch. If unsure, insert a skewer halfway in, and check it comes out with no wet cupcake batter (just remember the jam - it will still be wet)
  8. Allow to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes (only so you don't burn your fingers like me!) and turn onto a rack to cool.

For the buttercream icing:

  1. While cooling, you can make your icing! Place a mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure your saucepan doesn't touch the water.
  2. Place your egg whites and sugar in the bowl and whisk/beat until the it feels hot to the touch, and the mixture looks like what Tartalette describes as "marshmallow cream". This will take about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat
  3. Using an electric mixer beat the mixture until you have a very thick, very sticky meringue that forms stiff peaks, and it has cooled. This will take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add your butter, about a tbspn at a time, making sure it is fully combined after each addition. Continue to beat for 5-10 minutes until thick and smooth. Divide your mixture into halves.
  5. To one half, add the food colouring and rosewater essence, and beat for a further minute to fully combine
  6. To the remaining half, add the vanilla bean innards, or vanilla essence, and beat for a further minute to fully combine.
  7. Once your cupcakes are cooled, you can ice them with the buttercream however you like. I piped mine on with a 1cm plain nozzle.


While I've used apricot preserve, there's no reason you couldn't use something else, or leave it out altogether.

Like all cupcakes, these are best eaten same day, but I find these tend to stay nice and moist for a couple of days. If they're getting towards the end of their lifespan, I microwave them for 10-15 seconds and they become nice and warm and soft.

I'd suggest icing these when you're ready to eat them. The buttercream really needs to be refridgerated, but that's not the best place for cupcakes.

If you're not going to use the buttercream immediately you can keep it in the fridge for about a week, or freeze for up to a month.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How to Make a Bouquet Garni

Bouquet Garni - Simple and Easy Chicken Stock

A Bouquet Garni ('garnished bouquet' in French) is a small bunch of fresh or dry herbs which are used to flavour stocks and stews.

Traditionally a bouquet garni contains a few sprigs of parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf, but you can change it to taste, mix it up, whatever you want (well, not quite, but you get the point). You'll often see instructions tell you to wrap the herbs in a stick of celery, or a piece of leek, but I can't say I've ever bothered!

It's really hard to get wrong, but the point of it is to season your dish; not overpower it. I generally use what I have in my garden and know will compliment whatever recipe i'm making.

So, my 'recipe' for a bouquet garni goes something like this:

- 2 sprigs of parsley
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- a bay leaf (dry or fresh, it doesn't really matter)
- a sprig of rosemary
- a few inches of kitchen string

Now these are the steps - focus hard:

  1. 1. Bring the herbs together in a bunch
  2. 2. Tie together using the kitchen string


I use fresh herbs. If you're using dry herbs, wrap them up in a piece of cheese cloth or muslin and tie the opening up with string.

You can really add or remove what you like. I often don't have parsley, so I just leave it out. If I have some fresh oregano, I often throw it in. Unorthodox, I suppose, but it tastes good, so who cares?


Super-Duper Simple & Easy Chicken Stock

Parklea Markets

Star-point princettia

Trips to Parklea Markets for our weekly fruit and veg used to be the norm in our household, but busy schedules and hubby's shift work has made this weekly ritual (as well as just basic grocery shopping) a bit erratic.

This weekend, having the time off together was lovely, and a trip to Parklea Markets was a nice treat, too. A quick trip for fresh veg ended up becoming a few hours very fast!

First treat of the day was corn on the cob. Fresh and sweet corn, brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt. It was THE juiciest corn I've ever tasted and at $3 was a pretty awesome breakfast!

We picked up a (big) parsley plant and a potted strawberry for $3 a piece to replace some recent fatalities in our garden, and the parsley quickly found its way into my chicken stock on arrival home.

I would say Saturday morning is the best time to to pick up your fruit and veg from the market, as you're getting the first pick, but we got there in the afternoon to a great choice. There are 3 large fruit and veg places right next to each other. If the apples in one look a little sorry, just move on to the next. Together, they have a great choice available, but we often end up in the last one along, which is the largest.

10 Poffertjes - $6

With our groceries out of the way, and at a saving of $20, we had a wander round, and came to the Dutch Poffertjes House. I'd first encountered these coin sized Dutch pancakes last year at the Aroma Festival in the rocks, and they didn't last long!

We sat down and shared 10 of them, with a milkshake each, and it was a lovely sweet end to the day!

I can tell you it's going to become a regular trip now, after our weekly fruit and veg bill dropped from $30-$40 to a staggering $17. I can't recommend market shopping enough: it was a great day out for both of us, and the saving on the hip pocket was lovely.

Parklea Markets are Open 8:30am to 4:30pm Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday Mondays. The earlier in the morning the better, and quieter. Just be prepared for big crowds and lots of prams. Remember to wear comfy shoes!


601 Sunnyholt Rd, Parklea, NSW (Australia)

View Larger Map

Monday, May 4, 2009

Super-Duper Simple & Easy Chicken Stock

Bouquet Garni - Simple and Easy Chicken Stock

You can feel winter in the air here early in Sydney, and boy did it come quick. I absolutely love it! There's nothing like curling up on the couch with a doona, a good book or movie, and a beautiful hot meal at the end of the day.

One of the staples of our winter food is, of course, stock. We use it for soup, risotto, stews, you name it; last year I started making my own chicken stock. The taste compared to store bought stock is lovely, and gives our risottos the most beautiful full flavour.

You may already have most of what you need in the fridge and cupboard already, and it's so easy to make. All you need is a bit of time. Bonus - it's also really cheap to make!

Super-Duper Simple & Easy Chicken Stock

Makes about 2L

Chicken stock - all the ingredients in the pot - next step, cover with water and simmer


- 1 Chicken carcass or 500g of chicken bones/necks
- 2 medium size carrots, chopped roughly (cut each into 2 or 4)
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped roughly, as above. You can leave some leaves on.
- 1 brown onion, halved
- 10 peppercorns
- Bouquet Garni
(to the rest of us, just use a bay leaf, a sprig of parsley, a sprig of thyme, and a sprig of parsley if you have it. Don't worry too much if you're missing 1 or 2, it does help add to the flavour, though. If you can't get these it's not the end of the world if you used a half to 1tspn each of dried).


If you're using bones/necks/etc:
This recipe says to use a chicken carcass or bones. Use whatever you can get your hands on, just remember we're after the boney bits (though using drumsticks with meat on is absolutely no problem). I've used necks this time round.

If using a carcass:
If you're using a chicken carcass, a BBQ or roast chicken is fine. Just make sure you remove any leftover skin, pick the bones for meat, and remove the stuffing from the cavity.


  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot, cover with about 2.5L cold water (just as long as everything is covered), and bring to a light boil. Immediately reduce the heat so the water is barely simmering.
  2. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer slowly for 3-4 hours. Check from time to time; if froth appears on top, just skim it off with a spoon.
  3. Pour stock through a strainer to remove vegetables and bones, and voila! You're done!


The stock will keep in the fridge for 2 days, but is fine in the freezer for months, just divide into portions and freeze ahead. It means you always have good quality chicken stock on hand, too! If you do refridgerate it, it will allow any fat to set, and you can skim it off the top before freezing.

Simmer the stock lightly, and don't boil, so we end up with a nice clear stock. Boiling makes it cloudy.

There is another reason making your own is so great: it's REALLY cheap. You can get chicken bones and necks for a couple of dollars a kilo from your butcher, or, if you go up to the deli and butcher section, Coles often have them too.


How to Make a Bouquet Garni