13 November 2013

pork rice paper rolls

Rice paper rolls are one of my favourite easy entertaining treats. They are perfect not only because you can make them with any filling you wish from chicken, beef, pork, tofu to plain vegetables or even vermicelli rice noodles but they are great made in advance to be eaten later. Don't get me wrong they are a bit fiddly so don't leave them to the last minute but they are worth the hard work. They are great for a healthy lunch, easy dinner or to contribute to a nibbles dinner.








Pork Rice Paper Rolls

8 tbsp hoisin
8 tbsp fish sauce
8 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic
3cm piece peeled ginger
2 long red chillies
4 spring onions, finely sliced
500g pork mince
rice paper round wrappers
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
bean sprouts
coriander, leaves picked, stems finely chopped

In large bowl combine half of the sauces, chilli and pork mince. On a microplane grate in garlic and ginger and stir until well combined. Cook mince in a large frying pan until golden. Stir through the remaining sauce until absorbed before removing from heat and stirring through spring onions and coriander stalks. Allow to cool. Set up a work station with a bowl of warm water, a damp tea towel and the vegetables, mince and pork mince in easy reach. Soak a rice paper wrapper in the warm water until soft, you still want the wrapper to have structure when you remove it from the water. Lay out flat on the damp tea towel. About an inch from the edge of the wrapper closest to you spoon 2 tsp of pork mince and lay a couple pieces of each of the vegetables and a couple coriander leaves. Fold as demonstrated in the pictures above before rolling away from you to complete the roll. Place on a platter or in a large shallow airtight container. Continue the process until all of the pork mince has been used. Serve with sweet chilli and soy sauce.

23 May 2013


When I say scones Josh says jam and cream with a cuppa tea. When I think scones I think road trips and day trips; mid afternoon pulling up at a little cafe to have a devonshire tea for a little pick me up. I also imagine a warm country kitchen with sun shining in the window, steam rising from a fresh baked batch of scones, a little girl with sticky jammy fingers and strawberry jam smeared from ear to ear with a cheeky grin and a mouthful of comfort. Scones are a cooking basic which is why I have gone back to them. I blogged devonshire tea in my first month of blogging and a I proud to post again with a revised set of pictures and story reflecting on how far I have come. Mmm warm yourself from the inside out as the weather cools down and there is a bit of bite in the air.





4 cups self raising flour
2 tablespoons icing sugar
60g butter
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Prepare an oven tray and line with baking paper.
Sift flour and sugar into a large bowl and rub in butter with finger tips. Try and keep your hands cold so that the ingredients stay cool. Alternatively if you have a food processor process butter and flour until butter is well distributed. This makes for a lighter scone.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the milk and water.
Use a knife to "cut" the milk and water through the flour, mixing to a soft sticky dough. This is important as you don't want to over work the dough as this will turn it into rock cakes when finished.
Knead dough on floured surface until smooth, once again being careful not to over work. Press dough to 2cm thickness. Dip 4.5 cm round cutter in flour and cut as many rounds as you can from the piece of dough.
Place scones side by side on the tray. The scones enjoy snuggling up to each other in the oven so make sure they are just touching. Knead scraps of dough together and repeat pressing and cutting of dough until all is on the tray. 
Brush the tops with a little extra milk and bake for 15mins or until scones are just browned.
Best served with jam and cream or butter and golden syrup or my new favourite honey and butter.

19 May 2013

raspberry frozen yogurt

After making Joyful Desserts Coconut Ice Cream it made me excited about home made ice cream. I don't have an ice cream maker so when I found out how easy it was to make ice cream without one I have created a monster. All you have to do is make the ice cream base, pour it into a large shallow container and place in the freezer removing it every 30mins to stir through the frozen edges until it is frozen through. You have no excuse to not try this easy and healthy dessert option.





Raspberry Frozen Yogurt


560g thick natural yogurt
125g frozen raspberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients into a blender. Blend well to combine. Pour the contents of the blender into a large shallow baking dish. Place into freezer removing every 30 mins to stir through the frozen edges until the mixture is completely frozen through. Make sure all of the frozen edges are smooshed into a frozen puree each time to ensure to hard ice lumps. Transfer to an air tight plastic container and store in the freezer. This frozen yogurt won't last very long so don't worry about it going off. Feel free to swap the 125g frozen raspberries with any other fruit of your choice.

8 May 2013

chocolate lava cake

After last weeks healthy raw vegan post for some strange reason I was craving a rich, chocolatey, baked saucy pudding. I didn't however want to undo all of my good work from eating healthy by making a large pudding that I of course would eat way to much of and then regret my gluttonous binge. This cake is a single portion dessert. It is by no means "healthy" however with the ingredients of this recipe only resulting in one pudding it takes the guilt out of it as it is perfectly portioned. Mmmhmmm. One suggestion though. Don't make this cake. Do yourself a favour. Once you learn that it only takes 15mins from start to finish to make and bake you will never turn back. It is far to easy to make and if you are anything like me in winter with comfort food you will find yourself sneakily whisking together the ingredients with a slight smirk on your face knowing that you don't have to wait to long to reap the rewards. I did warn you....don't make this cake.






Chocolate Lava Cake


1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp butter
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp flour
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 190c. Generously butter and powder a 1 cup sized ramekin with cocoa powder. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave and stir until smooth. Whisk together the egg and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg before whisking in the flour and salt. Whisk until smooth before adding to ramekin. Bake for approx 10mins or a couple of minutes less if you want a more gooey centre. Turn out onto a plate and I would tell you to serve it with berries or ice cream but it really doesn't need it and it probably wouldn't last that long if you have made this to satisfy an irrational chocolate pudding craving.

1 May 2013

joyful desserts

Over the past 12 to 18 months I have made some major changes to my diet. This is clearly demonstrated by the change in the range of food I have featured on my blog over the past two years. By cutting out processed and fatty foods from my diet I have noticed a huge change to my body. I've found myself with more energy and felt less bloated and weighed down, and managed to drop dress sizes purely from watching what I eat and modifying my portions.
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy an indulgent dessert, cheese and nibbles plate or rich dinner every now and then, however I have noticed weird things happening to my body when I consume sugary foods. I have an instant sugar high that lasts about 10mins followed by a slump that usually makes me dysphasic and ready for a nap.


joyfuldesserts-emilyjoy photo from AJD Photography - Website - Facebook

So when a new friend of mine told me about Emily and her guilt free desserts I naturally was excited to learn about healthy desserts. Healthy desserts, yeah right how can they taste good? Don't write this delicious food off without trying it! Josh initially turned his nose up to the thought of homemade milks and raw chocolate but after comparing the store bought options with the recipes I learnt at Emily's Joyful desserts cooking class he now much rather prefers the homemade healthy options as opposed to the processed artificial sugars and flavours options. I was even surprised to hear that the desserts that are made purely vegan and raw he found to be sweeter and richer than their sugary counter parts. The secret is, don't tell your partners it's healthy, wait until they are hooked in first!



What I took from Emily's class is that food is fuel for your body so it is important to fill it with lots of fruit vegetables and other foods that help you get the most out of your day. Emily also pointed out that she doesn't put a "label" on her diet. So many times people have put vegetarian or vegan on their diets and when they splurge on some lean meat or dairy or even a piece of rich chocolate cake or some cheese and crackers they feel guilty which is not healthy at all associating negative with certain foods. The idea is to choose healthy the majority of the time but if you splurge that's okay! With these desserts you feel as if you are splurging but instead you are reaping the rewards of a healthy sweet fix. 


Here is a closer look at Emily from Joyful Desserts as well as some delightfully tasty photos of recipes I learnt at her cooking class.

Tell me about yourself and Joyful DessertsMy name's Emily, I'm 22 and I love to eat!
Unfortunately, I was eating a highly processed diet up until I was twenty which meant I got sick often and thought it was normal to have sniffles, pimples, mood swings and fatigue.  It wasn't until I met Katie Dickens in a dance class that I learnt about raw desserts.  I made a chocolate mousse tart first. It tasted rich and decadent and only contained fruit, nuts and seeds.  It didn't give me a sugar rush, it didn't give me pimples and it didn't make me gain weight!  I was so excited to finally indulge in a dessert without feeling guilty or gross. I made it for my mum and she loved it, too.  Since then we have made countless raw desserts. I told my friends we'd be hosting an event for anyone who would like to taste them, and so Joyful Desserts was born.



What inspired you to start guilt-free dessert cooking classes?
It saddened me that these desserts were such a secret. I want everyone to know that there are delicious dessert options without refined sugar, dairy, wheat and animal fat.  I'm so glad that now anyone can access this information and begin their journey of effortless clean eating, and I am constantly receiving feedback from class participants who have done just that.


What do you hope to achieve by running these healthy dessert cooking classes?
I hope to inspire people to take control of their health in a way that is fun and easy.


What is your favourite a) food to eat, b) food to make?
My favourite food to eat (at the moment) is Ani Phyo's Coconut Ice Kream topped with my healthy 'Ice Magic' style chocolate sauce.
My favourite food to make is a fresh, green smoothie!  It's an awesome way to start my day.


Where do you hope to see Joyful Desserts in the future?
I never dreamed Joyful Desserts would take off like it has, so I'm taking 'baby steps'.  The Facebook page is blossoming into a supportive community network.  I will continue to introduce people to healthy treats through our monthly 'Healthy Desserts Night' classes.  I also have some ideas for additional workshops that I am tinkering with.  It's all very exciting!


Next class:  Thursday 23rd May 2013, 6.30pm-9.30pm, Brisbane.  Cost is $40 per person or $70 for two places. For bookings please email joyful.desserts@hotmail.com with 'May Interest' as the subject line.
Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/joyfuldesserts for recipes, healthy inspiration and next class details.

25 April 2013

yumyum hoisin pork ribs

Slow cooked easy dinner perfect for Autumn/Winter that is satisfying and will impress. Get some pork on your fork!! Or if pork isn't your cup of tea swap the ribs with some chicken drumsticks or beef short ribs this slow roasting sauce is great on any kind of meat!!




Yumyum Hoisin Pork Ribs


1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup brown sugar
5cm piece peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 star anise
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
5 cm strip orange rind
1 red chilli
1kg pork spare ribs
2 cups rice
2 bunches choy sum

Preheat oven to 130c. Combine sauce, stock, ginger, garlic, star anise, rind and chilli in a large shallow baking dish, add ribs, turn to coat in mixture. Cover and cook for 2 hours.
Turn the ribs, cook, covered, another 30mins. Remove ribs from dish and cover to keep warm.
Pour braising liquid into a saucepan, discard surface fat before bringing to the boil and simmering, uncoverd, for around 10mins or until sauce thickens slightly.
Cook rice until tender. Blanch choy sum in a pot of boiling water for 1min. Serve ribs a top rice and choy sum drizzled with sauce.

12 April 2013

mushroom risotto

With the weather cooling down I am finding myself craving comfort food, food that is warm, filling and full of flavour. Risotto has been on my mind and with recipes for this delicious and satisfying dinner dish showing up in cooking magazines I couldn't ignore my cravings any longer. This is only the second risotto recipe I have tried with the first being a much loved family favourite of tomato and basil. It was the first time I used arborio rice and followed the correct technique of adding the warmed stock half a cup at a time to the rice to ensure it stayed nice and glossy rather than turning into a gluggy mess. The dried porcini mushrooms are the secret ingredient that when blended and cooked with the vegetables add such an earthy and rich taste to the risotto that you almost don't have to add the extra 500g of mushrooms to the dish.....almost. Who am I kidding, the fact that this dish is topped of with crispy buttery, garlicky mushrooms makes my mouth water just thinking of it...this didn't last long in my household!



Mushroom Risotto


1 white onion
1 stick of celery
2 springs of fresh rosemary
15g porcini mushrooms
300g arborio rice
1/2 glass of white wine
1 L of chicken stock, warmed through
500g mixed mushrooms (chestnut, oyster, shiitake)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a small bunch of fresh thyme
a large knob of butter
40g parmesan
1/2 lemon
 1/2 small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Warm a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. Roughly chop the onion and celery, put into a food processor with dried porcini and pulse until finely chopped.
Drizzle some olive oil into the saucepan before adding the chopped vegetables. Cook stirring regularly until softened and fragrant. 
Pick and finely chop the rosemary before adding to the saucepan along with the rice. Stir for one minute ensuring the rice is well coated in the vegetables and oil. Add the white wine and simmer, stirring until absorbed. 
Add half a cup of warmed chicken stock and stir into rice until absorbed. Continue to add the stock half a cup at a time until all the stock is nearly absorbed and the rice is tender. 
Roughly chop the mushrooms and add half into the risotto. Pick half the thyme leaves into the risotto. Stir the remaining butter into the risotto and finely grate over most of the parmesan along with a good squeeze of the lemon juice and the parsley. Serve the risotto topped with crispy mushrooms and an extra sprinkling of grated parmesan.
To make the crispy mushrooms, cook in a hot frying pan with a small knob of butter, the garlic cloves, some salt, pepper and the remaining picked thyme. Fry until browned and crispy, before serving atop the risotto.

14 March 2013

brioche burgers

Lately my food posts have been inspired by my food experiences, dinners or meals eaten out. I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that I have the baking skills required to bake something as good as I could eat in a restaurant, or at least have a decent attempt at it. Brioche is a type of bread that I have seen used in multiple recipes. My first experience with brioche was at The Regatta Hotel. I had an angus beef burger that was made on one of these beauties. So whilst sitting on my couch trying to decide what to make next, I thought this would be a perfect lunch for the weekend and photo challenge for me. I've never photographed a burger stacked high with the trimmings, but it was much easier than imagined as I didn't have to hold it together with toothpicks like I thought I would have to.


I'm unsure as to whether the brioche wasn't as I thought it would be due to an error of mine or the recipe I used or simply my high expectations. I feel I will have to attempt to make brioche again before I can safely share a recipe with you that is fool proof. The bread was quite dense and buttery and in my opinion to "doughy" to rave about. However it sufficed fine in these burgers and was made even more delicious spread with more butter and golden syrup. Let me get back to you with a beautiful light brioche but in the mean time I hope these pictures give you some weekend dinner inspiration. If you want to recreate these yourself but don't have the confidence to make your own brioche you should be able to pick up some bread rolls from your local bakery.


7 March 2013

figs in baked buttermilk custard

Figs are a pretty fruit. There blushing pink middle and purple outside make them gorgeous to photograph. I've found however that they are quite juicy and not the ideal fruit to use in things that need structure or need to set. This custard is one of them. I've also made figs wrapped in prosciutto stuffed with blue cheese and drizzled with honey, however they managed to end up a soggy mess due to their moist characteristics. I was excited when I saw this recipe. 

I'm a fan of baked custard and I jump at any opportunity to use figs. To look at these custards are gorgeous, to eat not so much. I first made them in ramekins as I thought they would look cuter. In retrospect I can see now that after baking the fruit and before adding the custard mixture that I should of drained out the natural fruit juices. They were like a watery custardy fig juice mess. I then decided to have another try and bake the custard in a large baking dish like it advises to in the book. It didn't set. I even left it longer but it didn't work. Oh well....it tasted okay but not good enough to share the recipe, just the pretty photos. I'm also undecided as to whether it was the recipe or my mess up that made this treat turn out so wrong. 


 In retrospect I should have just char grilled them and added them to my breakfast with ricotta, honey and muesli or an antipasto plate with some gorgonzola and prosciutto! I hope these photos make your mouth water.


28 February 2013

flame tree cupcake drive

The beautiful Lauren of Flame Tree Bakery had her cupcake drive last week and I was fortunate enough to take some snaps of her delicious cupcakes. I was also lucky enough to sample what she had for sale. Over the past month Lauren has run a Pie Drive, Cupcake Drive and this week a Macaron Drive to boost sales at her independently run business. If you are craving macarons be sure to put an order in as this week is all about those beautiful biscuits that give that desirable crunch on the outside followed by your teeth sinking through the center before they melt in your mouth. 


Malted Milk and Cookie Dough Cupcakes


Turkish Delight Cupcakes


This shoot was so much fun! The glowing milk bottles and the bubbling lemon lime and bitters were particularly eye catching. Not to mention how impressed I was with Lauren's tea cup collection, they just had to be mentioned! 
My favourite cupcakes were the banana caramel, yum!! 


Caramel Banana Cupcakes



Lemon Lime & Bitters Cupcakes


If you missed out on Lauren's baking drives don't worry, you are able to order these goodies from her any time you like. Make sure you keep her in mind for you're friend's birthday, kitchen tea, baby shower, wedding, anniversary, tea party or even just to satisfy your sweet craving. She only requires a day's notice for her more basic cupcake or pie orders but to avoid disappointment be sure to give her your requests in advance.



Have a look here for some more photographs of the delicious food she can produce and a bit more of  Flame Tree's history. 

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