Date crumble slice

Date slice 2

While I was still pregnant I was browsing Facebook and one post caught my attention. It was a comment about a past tradition catching up with their Mum each week with a date slice that was missed since they had moved to another state. Finally finding the date slice in their new home had brought back memories of these catch-ups. It got me thinking about how  certain foods are more than just something we eat. They can evoke feelings and memories in us.

This left me craving date slice, so I went looking for a recipe to make some. Dates seem to be one of those ingredients that people either love or hate, I am definitely in the love category. They are very sweet however and I can only eat a small amount.

This slice is quite easy to make and as long as you like dates, it’s pretty tasty. If I make it again I might try putting some citrus zest in with the dates and/or some spices in the base/crumble mix for something different, but it was delicious as is and satisfied my craving.

Click here for the recipe

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Lamb, mint and haloumi sausage rolls

Sausage rolls 4It is hard to believe that almost nine months have passed since I discovered I was pregnant, yet here I am counting down the days until I welcome my first child to the world. Despite the pregnancy symptoms and constant fatigue, time really has flown by surprisingly quickly.

Part of the reason for that is that I did over commit myself during my pregnancy (first timer mistake). Before I found out I was pregnant, I had applied for an online postgrad university course which I was accepted into and decided to start the first unit in my second trimester. So during my second and most of my third trimester, not only was I working full time while pregnant, I was also studying at home. To say I found it difficult (writing reports all day at work then coming home to uni reading and writing assignments) would be an understatement. But I have finished my first unit (with pretty good grades on all my assessments) and have finally slowed down to prepare for my new life as a mum (besides all the appointments that seem to fill up the week).

Part of my preparation has included filling up the freezer with lots of ready cooked (or ready to be cooked) meals. I think winter is a great time to be in the later stages of pregnancy. Besides not melting in the Australian heat, it is quite mild but also a great time for soups, casseroles and oven baked foods that freeze really well. Some of the recipes I have made have been some old favourites, but I have also tried some new ones so there will be a few new posts to follow with those recipes.

But first here is the recipe for some very tasty sausage rolls that were made for me for my baby shower. They were so good I begged the recipe off my friends and made a batch for last night’s dinner (with half the batch going into the freezer and the rest as leftovers for today). I would have liked trying to freeze half of the batch before cooking, then defrosting and cooking later, however as I was using lamb mince that had already been frozen, I couldn’t do this. I may try this another time and will update the post then.

If you don’t like mint, this isn’t the recipe for you, but mint is one of my favourite herbs and I really like the combination of flavours in this recipe, something a little bit different from your usual sausage roll. However you could try replacing the mint and mint jelly with another herb and chutney or jelly. That is the great thing about recipes, you can experiment and adapt to your own taste.

Click here for the recipe

Cooking Class – Café Style Cakes

Steamed Cheesecake 2I’m back! Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I do have a good reason, I promise! I am pregnant with my first child which is just wonderful. Unfortunately along with the pregnancy came severe “morning sickness”. I have to say that whoever named it “morning sickness” is just cruel, as for me it was months of 24 hour sickness where I struggled to eat anything, let alone cook, think or write about food.

Although not completely gone, I am feeling a lot better and am able to finally cook and think about food again, so it’s time to get back to blogging, starting with the last cooking class I went to.

In November last year, I attended the Café Style Cakes cooking class at Sweet Artist Academy that I had booked before I was pregnant. I had organised the timing of the class so that I could then take the cakes in to work for morning tea for my birthday. Seeing as I was in the early stages of my pregnancy and trying not to tell anyone, and everyone in my team knew I had booked the class to provide for my birthday morning tea, I still went to the class. I have to say it was a struggle, but Patrick was a great help when the smell and nausea got too much for me (I told a little white lie and said I had eaten something the night before that made me feel sick). I did do most of the cooking and decorating myself, however Patrick helped me cover the mud cake with ganache as well as get the cakes out of their tins etc. Thank you Patrick!  Click here to read more

More cooking classes at Sweet Artist Academy – Small Cakes 2 and Assorted Pastries

croissants and briochedanishes boxIndividual cakes 2

After such a successful and enjoyable first class with Patrick Vuaillat at Sweet Artist Academy in June I couldn’t resist enrolling in a couple more classes once my musical had finished (to read more about my first class and some background on the Academy, click here).

First up was Individual Cakes – 2. My first class at Sweet Artist Academy was the individual cakes class, however Patrick has since introduced new recipes in the class (the summer range) and after seeing photos of the new cakes, I was hooked. There was no repetition of what we were taught in the first class, everything was new and I learnt a lot of new recipes/techniques.

The individual cakes class is the most technical cooking class Patrick runs. You make a number of separate components for the cakes in the morning, and then finish the components and assemble the cakes in the afternoon. Although a technical class, it is achievable for home bakers (we had one complete beginner in our class). Patrick provides great support and help throughout; making sure everyone has completed each step before moving onto the next one. The cakes you go home with at the end of the day are amazing. I was certainly ready for a nap by the time I got home though!  Click here for more

Individual Small Cakes Class – Sweet Artist Academy

Individual cakes class

I am very glad that it is a long weekend here in Western Australia. Some weekends are just so full of activities that I often feel like I need an extra day to just be at home, do all the chores around the house and recover from my weekend. This weekend has certainly been like that, although it has been very enjoyable.

In addition to a rehearsal on Sunday for a local musical I will be playing a lead role in that will be on in July, on Saturday I attended an all day class at the Sweet Artist Academy – Patisserie Training Centre in Joondalup Western Australia. It was my first time at Sweet Artist Academy, and I will certainly be going back again.

The Sweet Artist Academy is run by Patrick Vuaillat with a number of one day courses available on weekdays or weekends including chocolate work, sugar work, pastries, cakes, bread, cake decorating, macarons and even more. Patrick, originally from France and with over 35 years in the pastry industry, started an apprenticeship in pastry at the age of 15 and has worked as a pastry chef all over the world before falling in love with Perth and starting his on patisserie which he ran for 16 years before setting up the Sweet Artist Academy. Loving baking and patisserie as I do, I was thrilled to find someone with so much experience offering classes in Perth and was really looking forward to my class. Click here for more

Banana and raspberry bread

Banana and raspberry loaf As much as I love trying out new recipes, there are always times when I prefer to bake some of my old favourites. Especially if I’ve offered to bring dessert or cakes/baked goods to an event or a friends house. I want to know that I am making something that works and tastes great. This has seen me revisit a lot of my old favourites over the past few weeks including my citrus coconut cupcakes, chocolate and raspberry fudge brownies and raspberry crumble slice, meaning I haven’t had much new to blog about.

However, my freezer was starting to fill up with overripe bananas again. Never throw out an overripe banana. Place them straight in the freezer and they will be ready to use later in baking. They go black on the outside when frozen but inside they are still great to use for baking once defrosted. That way you always have very ripe bananas, perfect for baking, ready whenever you want to use them.

With that in mind, I was browsing through some Coles magazines on my iPad and noticed this recipe for banana, raspberry and macadamia bread. I’m loving having most of my cooking magazines on my new iPad. Most of them let me bookmark favourites to try and some like the Coles one (which is also free) let me email them to friends etc. The subscriptions are a lot cheaper than the print version and they don’t take up any space at home. I still much prefer to have actual hard copy cookbooks rather than digital versions on an ebook or tablet, but find the tablet perfect for magazines.

I was sure I had macadamias at home; however once I started the mix I discovered I didn’t so I just left them out (this is why I usually measure everything out before I start cooking, so I don’t get halfway through and discover a missing ingredient!). The result was still great, although the macadamias would add more texture. This is a really easy recipe to make and the end result is wonderfully moist, lightly spiced cake. A great breakfast or tea time treat! Click here for the recipe