Category Archives: Serving Up

Eton Mess

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The heatwave continues in our neck of the woods, the perfect time to try this no cook summer dessert, suggested to me ages ago by my friend Amy. And what a winner! Each component is able to be purchased or made ahead of serving time with almost no fuss: all that needs to be done beforehand is to make the simple berry sauce and whip the cream – both of which just go straight back into the fridge until you’re ready for dessert. Not only are these individual possets of cool berry yumminess easy to make, all of the ingredients can be kept close at hand for dessert at short notice: frozen berries in freezer, packet meringues in the pantry, and cream and yoghurt are constants in my fridge. The recipe that follows is my adaptation of Valli Little’s, originally published in Delicious magazine, but do whatever you like with the ingredients: more or less of each item according to what you like to taste most of. The residents at my place have requested more meringue next time! Similarly, the yoghurt can be completely left out, just increase the amount of cream to replace it, which also lowers the cost a little. Using fresh strawberries and the quantities below, this recipe serves 6 and costs less than $10 to make. Assemble just before serving in whatever takes your fancy: tumblers, ramekins or martini glasses – whatever, and enjoy some stress free time with your guests.

  • 150g frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 punnet of strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced (use when affordably in season, otherwise frozen mixed berries work well and are cheaper)
  • 200ml cream, whipped
  • 200ml greek yoghurt, (optional, and any kind is fine)
  • 50g mini meringues, roughly crumbled (half a 100g box)

1. In a small bowl add sugar to defrosted raspberries and mix through. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture and pass through a sieve and discard seeds. Add sliced strawberries to raspberry liquid and mix through.

2. In another bowl, whip cream, again using a stick blender. Just before serving, add crumpled meringues, yoghurt and berry mixture to the cream, gently combining each ingredient, but don’t over mix!

3. Divide mixture evenly among the six glasses and eat immediately.

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Pancake Cups for a (Christmas) Crowd

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Christmastime provides just the opportunity for lazy breakfasts and slow mornings with friends and family – how delightful it is to take things slowly and remember that God entered our world as a person to save people like us! And pancakes are an affordable option for making things a bit more special than usual – for treasuring Christmas and the people God brings into our lives. But pancakes can be tricky too – the first few are always duds as the person cooking gets the temperature of the pan and their technique just right, and for that poor person cooking, it can be a task that takes most of the morning if there are lots of keen pancake eaters in the house. The recipe that follows is my attempt to solve this problem whilst still making Christmas breakfast special. The batter can be made the day before and stored in the fridge so there’s almost no work in the morning. If you require more pancake cups, simply double the recipe. Doing so fits inside a 2L food processing bowl perfectly. This recipe makes 16 pancake cups and using berries, cream and maple syrup, costs around $7 to make.

For pancake cups:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 300ml milk

Fill cups with your choice of:

  • 300g frozen mixed berries
  • icing sugar for dusting
  • cream for dolloping or drizzling
  • ice-cream
  • maple syrup
  1. Remove berries from freezer and begin thawing in a bowl. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (180 degrees if fan-forced).
  2. Grease muffin holes using a little extra melted butter or spray oil.
  3. Put all pancake cup ingredients in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds until combined. Use immediately or store in fridge for when needed (If you do this, the batter will thicken slightly. If this happens, don’t stress – just thin it out with a whisk and a little extra milk just before using it).
  4. Fill 1/3 – half of each muffin hole (no more) and bake in oven for 8 minutes. After this time, the pancakes will be golden brown and flat. As soon you take them from the oven, use a soup spoon to push each one down in the middle, creating a crater/cup shape. Pop out of the tins onto a shared plate and top with berries and dusted icing sugar. Enjoy!

Bacon and Eggs for a (Christmas) Crowd

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Christmas is just around the corner, so I thought it timely to share some recipes you might find helpful for inspiring or planning your Christmas menu. Today’s recipes are designed to help you enjoy the large number of people you might have visiting, without extra kitchen and food stress. Cause what’s the point of all that effort if it ends up owning you?

Years ago, I watched my friend Bron make bacon and eggs much like the recipe below and since then my husband Steve has fiddled around with various ingredients when making them – he’s finally settled on this recipe, but also sometimes cut a disc of store-bought puff pastry and popped one in the bottom of each muffin hole – which ends up becoming something like a yummy little bacon and egg breakfast pie. Depending on your choice of eggs, this easy, portion-controlled breakfast for 12 will cost a little over $6 and take no more than 20 mins to make.

  • 12 eggs
  • 200g bacon
  • spray oil or a little melted butter
  • 1/3 jar of tomato chutney
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees, (180 if fan forced) and grease a 12 hole muffin tin very well using spray oil or melted butter.
  2. Cut bacon into thin strips or wedge shapes and distribute evenly across the bottom of the 12 muffin holes.
  3. Put half a teaspoon of tomato chutney on top of the bacon and crack and egg on top of the lot in each muffin hole.
  4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes (but start checking earlier) and once cooked, immediately use a sharp knife around the edges of each portion to dislodge from the pan. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

Nigella’s Chocolate Pots

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This is one of the easiest, yummiest and affordable dessert recipes I’ve ever come across. I love food that’s served in ramekins because it always looks great and costs are kept down by controlling portion size. Originally from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites, this gluten free dessert is a winner in my book because it takes no more than 10 minutes to make and then it’s straight into the fridge for later – and it’s literally all done. Every time I make these rich little treasures they get devoured. The mixture makes 8 small ramekins (about 1/3 cup capacity each), but In the photo above, I over-filled mine and so it only made 6 portions. I picked up my little ramekins from Kitchen Antics for $1.95 each. Tonight they’re on offer because it’s the State of Origin and my sister and brother in law are coming to watch it with us. Total cost $3.

  • 175 grams dark chocolate, minimun 70% cocoa
  • 150 ml thickened cream
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  1. Crush the chocolate to smithereens in a food processor. Heat the cream and milk until just about boiling, add the vanilla and pour down the funnel over the chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds. Process for another 30 seconds, then crack the egg down the funnel and process again for 45 seconds.
  2. Pour into 8 little ramekins until 3/4 full. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Serve naked or topped with berries.

Pie Makers – an unlikely but helpful appliance

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A good friend put me onto the wonders of these things a few years ago, but it was only last year that I bought the one pictured above from K-mart for only $10. While it’s not the sort of appliance I use every day, it’s been such a handy thing for hospitality and family meals. With one of these you can turn left-over amounts of casserole, stroganoff and bolognese into yet another dinner, for only the cost of the ready-rolled puff pastry. If I’m trying to be a good mummy I will then serve each family member a pie with three steamed veg on the side – so it’s not too unhealthy. Pies that come out of these machines can be frozen and reheated later and if you keep a can of apples in your pantry, it’s really not too hard to whip up a dessert of hot apple pie for whoever you’re eating with. If you’re making pies for a crowd they can be kept warm in a low oven while the next ones are cooking in the pie maker, but you will find this process faster if you buy the Sunbeam machine that allows you to cook four at once (I couldn’t be bothered because the K-mart one was so cheap!). Finally, I like these machines for stretching meals out – one family size casserole all of a sudden feeds two families easily for not much extra cost, making homemade pies a great meal to give away.