Makes approx 40 Shortbread Fingers.
4 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup maizena (cornflour)
1/2 cup castor sugar
2/3 cup icing sugar
500g(1 lb) butter, very very soft
- Heat oven to 150°C(300°F).
- Beat sugar and butter till creamy.
- Stir in the maizena (cornflour).
- Then quickly work in the flour and pinch of salt.
- I use my processor. – do not over beat
- Put into a 40cm x 25cm(15″ x 10″) or equivalent baking tray about 2″ deep. Flatten mixture evenly. Poke holes in the mixture about every 5cm (2″) apart. Neaten the edges.
- Place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Turn baking tray around to ensure even baking. Then turn the oven down to 140°C(275°F) for the next 40 minutes. The shortbread colour should remain cream – or maybe a deeper shade of cream – NOT brown.
- Remove from oven and slice into fingers whilst still hot. Leave in the baking tray until it is cool.
A lovely light lunch for warm spring days, a starter for dinner or even a side salad with chicken or fish. This is easy and quick to throw together so add to your standard repertoire. You may want to take a page out of my daughter, Bianca’s, book and make your own smoked salmon. Here is the link to her blog outlining how to do this.
Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a side salad.
1 cup green puy lentils, boiled till tender
1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 handfuls baby rocket
125g(4oz) smoked salmon, finely sliced
lemon juice & olive oil to dress
- Mix drained lentils with salt and pepper and remaining ingredients excluding salmon in a large bowl.
- Toss everything together and dress to taste with lemon juice and olive oil.
- Serve as a side salad or add finely sliced salmon for a light lunch.
Jeanette is a neighbour from Northbridge that makes this mean dip with a ‘mexican’ twist ideal for any barbecue or party. It’s large, made with wonderful ingredients like avocado, sour cream and kidney beans, and so easy to put together – ideal for a crowd. Thank you Jeanette.
Layer the following:
- 1 tin red Kidney beans, well mashed
- 3 avocados mashed with lemon juice, garlic and pepper
- carton sour cream mixed with 1/2 pkt taco sauce
- Top with 2 finely chopped tomatoes and half a bunch of chives
Serve with lebanese bread, corn chips or water biscuits.
Low GI beetroot and cannellini beans are freshened up with crunchy snow peas and spicy rocket. The smooth avocado, tasty feta and crunch walnuts add textural elements. Easy to make with pantry ingredients and different from the usual green salad, this is an excellent accompaniment to any barbecued meat. The salad keeps well with leftovers delicious the next day.
Large handful baby rocket leaves
50g(2oz) snowpeas, topped and finely shredded
1x1lb can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1x1lb can baby beetroot, drained, cut into wedges
1 avocado, peeled and cut into generous chunks
100g (4oz) Danish Feta
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons olive oil whisked with 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- Place rocket, snow peas and cannellini beans in the bottom of a large shallow salad bowl.
- Top with beetroot and avocado.
- Drizzle over olive oil/balsamic dressing.
- Dot with crumbled feta and walnuts.
250g(1/2 lb) butter
125g(1/4 lb) icing sugar
375g(3/4 lb) flour
30ml(2.5 Tablespoons) cocoa
little lemon juice
- Heat oven to 160°C or 325°F
- Cream butter and icing sugar in a Kenwood mixer till light and fluffy.
- Add flour and a little lemon juice. Mix.
- Remove mixture from bowl. Divide into half.
- Add cocoa to one half and beat well in Kenwood Mixer.
- Pat each mixture into a separate firm ball and flatten into a rectangle about 1cm(1/2 inch) thick
- Slice each rectangle into 1cm(1/2 inch) strips
- Alternate 2xwhite strips with 1xbrown and add 2 layers on top alternating colours so you end up with a cube of 3×3. This process is similar to how you would plait hair.
- Another option is to make spirals by laying the white rectangle on top of the brown an rolling it like a swiss roll before slicing.
- Slice into ½cm(1/4 inch) biscuits and bake on a flat biscuit tray for 15minutes.
- Smile at the compliments.
Smoked beef is something my grandmother always used to buy when I was a child. I didn’t discover it in Sydney until the kids were teenagers and we loved it for Saturday lunch dressed up like this. It also makes great finger food when using small rounds of baguette. In many countries smoked beef is also known as Bresaola.
Very thinly sliced smoked beef(bresaola)
Quality olive oil
French stick or woodfired bread
- Layer rocket on sliced bread – no need for butter.
- Top with smoked beef. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Serve as an open sandwich. Yum.
These homemade sausage rolls are always a hit. The secret is using a quality lean beef mince. Serve them for afternoon tea, at a cocktail party or put them in lunch boxes or a picnic – so easy to put together and so versatile and popular.
Makes approx 24
750g beef mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs or one tablespoon fresh
4 slices bread
1xpacket of 2-3 quality puff pastry sheets 30cm square, at room temperature
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water to brush pastry
Tomato sauce, optional to serve
- Put the beef mince, finely chopped onion and herbs into a mixing bowl.
- Cut crusts from bread and put into separate bowl. Pour over enough warm water, just to cover. Stand 5 minutes.
- Drain water from bread. Squeeze bread gently to extract water.
- Add bread to mince mixture. Mix well. Bread absorbs any excess fat and helps to prevent meat shrinkage inside pastry during cooking.
- Cut each sheet of puff pastry in half. Put meat in piping bag without nozzle or use a plastic bag with end cut off.
- Pipe meat mixture down one side of halved puff pastry sheets. Turn edge of pastry over filling then turn again so that filling is enclosed completely and pastry join is on underside.
- Place pastry with meat filling on a baking tray. Flatten slightly with back of a large knife. Brush with egg wash of 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water.
- Cut rolls into 5cm pieces, separating slightly.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250C (475°F). Bake 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 180C (350°F). Bake a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and rest 10 minutes before serving with tomato sauce.
This is a light healthy meal in one dish that serves equally well for lunch, a light dinner or a picnic. Leftovers are perfect for school lunch boxes. Using a bought barbecue chicken saves time.
3-4 cups (300g) spiral pasta
1 cooked chicken, broken into bite size pieces
½ red capsicum, finely diced
125g (4 ounces) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped
1 small oak lettuce
¼ cup grated parmesan
Dressing (mix together):
2 teaspoons sambal oelek chilli paste
1 clove crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
- Boil pasta following packet instructions until just tender. Drain and cool.
- Arrange lettuce in a shallow serving dish.
- Add cooled pasta and remaining salad ingredients excluding parmesan.
- Toss with half the dressing.
- Sprinkle with parmesan and remaining dressing.
John loves his food and his cooking. He arrives at our New Year’s brunch and produces his pie, warm from the oven, with a flourish. It is spectacularly good. John always has the knack of making it look particularly professional too.
8 rashers bacon
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
Quality readymade puff pastry, rolled out thinly
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Line a 20cmx30cm deep Lamingtin style baking tin with thinly rolled out puff pastry.
- Chop bacon into 5cm pieces and fry in a frying pan until cooked.
- Sprinkle bacon over pastry spreading evenly.
- Break eggs over, keeping the yolks whole.
- Sprinkle with parsley and cover with thickly sliced tomatoes.
- Cover pie with remaining pastry and trim edges.
- Brush pastry with beaten egg to create a golden glaze.
- Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 190°C and bake for another 20 minutes or until pastry is cooked.
- Serve warm cut into wedges.
Chilli, lime juice, mint, basil and fresh coriander – A spicy salad that goes beautifully with ham or can stand on its own if you are a vegetarian. Serve cold. It literally takes minutes to make, goes far and keeps in the fridge for 2 to three days – a fabulous standby over a few days during the festive season.
Serves 8 -12 depending on total number salads
¾ cup olive oil
1/3 cup nam pla (fish sauce)
2 tablespoons Kecap Manis (sweet Indonesian soya sauce)
juice of 2 limes
3-4 red birdseye chillies, finely chopped or use 2 long red chillies if you prefer a milder flavour
½ bunch each of fresh mint, basil and coriander
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to packet instructions until al dente.
- Drain and refresh under cold water and drain again.
- Process all the dressing ingredients and toss through the pasta.
- Salad can be kept several days in the refrigerator.
I found this recipe in a copy of the Sunday Times in the early 1980’s and, with a few modifications, made it my own – one of the cakes that established my reputation as a cook. Aren’t people kind? The reputation is undeserved as this is so easy – use quality ingredients and don’t dry the cake out when you bake. Then you, too, will be famous. A bit of trial and error is involved in getting the moistness just right – make some notes that are specific to the way your oven functions till the cake is perfect. Believe it or not, this is a boiled fruit cake so you can make and eat it straight away. I boil then mix the whole thing in a deep 23cm pot. And, yes, it was the cake I made for our wedding cake.
Simmer in a large pot for 10 minutes:
750g mixed cake fruit mix, Use Sunbeam brand WITHOUT the imitation cherries
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
Add the following and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes:
125g glace cherries, halved (not imitation) or any other place fruit
1 cup mixed unsalted nuts, halved (mix of almonds, brazils and walnuts work best)
Cool thoroughly or overnight then add the following beaten together:
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon rum essence
2 Tablespoons brandy
Sift together and add:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Mix all well.
- Line a 23cm round baking tin with 3 layers of greaseproof or brown paper. Add fruitcake mixture.
- When baking it is best not to use the fan forced feature as this dries the cake out. Bake at 140°C for 45minutes then at 160°C for another 45 minutes. Start checking early and remove as soon as the knitting needle/skewer comes out just clean.
- Remove from pan and pour over 3T brandy. When cool turn cake over and pour over another 3T brandy.
- Wrap in 2-3layers of foil in an airtight container. Can be eaten immediately but can keep for 3 months.