I love a good sponge cake and love to make them often. Only problem is they really need to be eaten the day they are made. That's what I used to think, now though I have a trick that I learnt from Le Cordon Bleu that helps to make any sponge last longer, add alcohol! Try it, it really works.
“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.” -W.C. Fields
For the Sponge
180g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
180g caster sugar
180g unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
80ml raspberry liqueur
Good quality raspberry jam
1 punnet of fresh raspberries
For the buttercream
250g white chocolate
500g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
One of my favourite things in the garden is a rhubarb. It just grows and grows and gives the most delicious stems. I miss it now that I'm in Paris but whenever I see it in the shops I'm always looking for ways to use it, stewing it is my favourite which I then add to so many things like yoghurt in the morning or on ice cream but this one would have to be my weakness, a rhubarb ripple cheesecake. Hope you enjoy it, please make some yourself and send me a photo.
"It's a weakness, the rhubarb ripple cheesecake"
250g packet of chocolate biscuits, crushed
100g unsalted butter, melted
230g cream cheese
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon powdered gelatine
1/2 cup hot water
300ml cream, whipped
250g Andrew's stewed rhubarb (see next weeks recipe)
Here is the recipe which can be used in many ways not just as a spread but also in cakes, pies, cheesecakes, but my favourite is with some really good quality greek yoghurt for breakfast. It's one of the easiest and yummiest recipes to make. Hope you enjoy it, please make some yourself and send me a photo.
"Please make some and send me a photo"
1kg rhubarb, cut into one inch pieces
1 cup caster sugar
Peel of one orange
1 tablespoon cracked pepper
1 cup of water
I learnt how to do the traditional financiers in Paris in 2008 and bought the moulds for them straight after the class. Here is my version, a less traditional chocolate financier. They are great to whip up for a sweet treat in the afternoon and if you have kids of any age they will be a crowd pleaser.
"Trust me they are a real crowd pleaser"
190g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
9 egg whites
75ml whipping cream
50g dark chocolate
Most people think that I only cook French food or European but this is not the case. In fact I got onto MasterChef Australia in the audition process with an Asian dish as well as a French one. This is a new recipe I made up the other day that got some rave reviews from the other half and guests staying with us. It's simple, tasty and has a touch of the Mediterranean added to it just to make it a little different.
"A touch of the mediterranean added to it to add a little bit of difference"
2 packets of fried Asian noodles
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2cm of ginger finely chopped
Half a bunch of coriander, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
300g organic chicken mince
1 carrot finely chopped
1 cup of dark soy sauce
1 cup of Chinese rice wine
Juice and zest of half a lemon
3 spring onions sliced
1 birdseye chillie sliced
1/2 cup of chopped peanuts
Last year for Provincial Living Magazine I had the chance to interview the wonderful Rachel Khoo who was in Melbourne promoting her new show on SBS. It was a pleasure to meet someone who has been a foodie icon of mine for many years. Here is the article incase you didn't see it. Thanks Rachel.
"Someone I'm truly inspired by"
Sitting in one of Melbourne’s finest five star boutique hotel lobbies I’m nervously awaiting an icon of modern day cuisine. Whilst I’m waiting many people are coming and going. An actor from one of Australia’s most popular TV drama’s walks in with his latest flame it seems and has to get the attention of everyone in the foyer to make sure we know he has arrived. Also whilst waiting one of my favourite realty stars from the UK walks in with an entourage of five. With all of these entrances it’s the young lady in the beautiful blue dress with silver poke-a-dots that grabs your attention.
Rachel Khoo walks through the lobby with such grace that the room just seems to light up. She doesn’t need to make an entrance she just does, if she did have an entourage it seems that they would just fade into the background.
Here in Melbourne to shoot her new show Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook Melbourne the follow-up to her previous hit shows The Little Paris Kitchen, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London and Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Cosmopolitan Cook.
Born in Croydon, South London to a Malaysian father and Austrian mother, “people say to me so your
mum’s Australian and I say no it’s not quite the same place you know. I point out the difference, Heidi then the outback”.
She went to convent school in Germany, “we had nuns and bars on the windows”. I asked if it was at all like the sound of music? “No but actually where my mum is from which is near the German/Swiss border in the mountains that’s very much like the sound of music and a very beautiful area.
This pint sized beauty has become known as that French girl from the tele she says. But she is more than that it seems, not only does she ooze charm but also knowledge on the food scene here in Melbourne and around the world. “I was in Malaysia in November promoting my new book/show and filming a documentary for BBC2 and that was really amazing, all the flavours in the food there”. She makes reference to how lucky we are here in Australia to have all the flavours of Asia shinning through in our food.
When asked did she get that mix of European and Asian food growing up she tells me, “Yeah it was very strange because we would have a lot of beef rendang, stir frys, asian chicken porridge and then there would be the odd schnitzel thrown in and then on Sunday we would always have a Sunday roast, yorkshire pudding and all. But left over nights on Mondays was like united nations of different dishes”.
With experience from being trained in pastry at Le Cordon Bleu to now exploring a multicultural food scene that thrives in cities around the world. “In Melbourne I feel so spoilt for choice here and that literally I can roll from one good place to another, which I’ve been doing” she says. “What’s impressive about Melbourne is the diversity but also the quality”.
It seems that Melbourne has really taken a piece of this young ladies heart. “Everyone in Melbourne is really passionate about what they do and really want to do it. They might be niche but they do it really well”. It seems that in Rachel’s travels around the world she hasn’t found a city like it. Maybe this is the reason for her filming here of her latest show a joint collaboration with BBC Worldwide/Fremantle Media Australia and SBS.
“Yesterday at this place called Blue Bonnet”, Blue Bonnet BBQ is a smoke house in Collingwood, Melbourne that is taking the art of smoking meats and food to new levels. “what I love about them” Rachel says “is that they are so into their smoking and really are making amazing food”.
Cheese is her favourite food and on this visit to Melbourne Rachel visited the Bellarine and had what she calls an amazing experience at this goat farm. “I had the most delicious goats cheese but the best part was that I got to milk a goat which kept on kicking me. I milked enough I think to make half a cappuccino so not too much but at least it will be good television”. I’m left wondering though are goat cappuccino’s something all the latest tv celebs are drinking?
With a background in public relations in the fashion industry before getting into food, Rachel studied design at Central Saint Martins College of the Art and Design. But this just wasn’t her. France beckoned and so after a three month basic patisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, “I couldn’t afford the full years course at something like 18,000 euros”, she then went and got some work experience in different places around Paris.
“I didn't speak a word of French apart from, Bonjour comment allez vous, so I went to le sorbonne and did some French courses but where she really picked up some French was when she worked in a Paris department store. “I was one of those perfume girls, it was the worst job ever but fantastic for practising your French. You gossip with your colleagues and then you chit chat about who came in that day or who is dating who”. Rachel thinks the best way to learn French is in a work environment “where there is no english speakers so you are forced to speak French”.
How did you get your interest in food and the culinary world that you are now in then I asked. “Well I was assisting on some food photo shoots casually when I was at uni and that got me interested in food styling. So then I spoke to some food stylists and they said that it helps to have some restaurant or culinary school experience for shoots”.
After Le Cordon Bleu Rachel worked in numerous roles such as an au pair then she got what she terms as her big break so to speak when meeting Marc Grossman a food writer and cafe owner. Working on Marc’s book gave her the inspiration to do her own.
Writing two cook books in French is no mean feat especially with a limited knowledge of the French language. The first book Barres á cereals, museli et granola maison which translated is homemade muesli and granola and the second book Pâtes et tartiner which translated is homemade spreads. Both of these books have now since been translated into english.
After these two books Rachel did some pop-up restaurants in between some private chef gigs and consultant work. But she felt like she really wanted to write a book for the english market. “So I went around to my favourite publishers in London saying, hi my names Rachel and I’ve got this idea for a book, what do you think?” Some said no, some told Rachel that if she didn't have a television show then a book just won’t work. This of course is all before her now very successful shows. But then it was penguin cookery publisher Lindsey Evans that gave Rachel that break she was looking for, “she was like, I love it, we really want to do it” and they gave Rachel the book deal that would lead to The Little Paris Kitchen.
People still ask Rachel is she still lives in Paris even though the show based on this very successful book was over three years ago now. But why wouldn’t they, this book and tv show along with the follow-up book My Little French Kitchen have helped to change peoples perceptions of French food around the world. Her parents might have thought she was just mad to go off and bake cakes in Paris but far from this Rachel has revolutionised French cooking for the everyday home cook you isn't lucky enough to live in France.
With so many fabulous foodie things to do in the city of love Paris, I asked Rachel what’s the one thing that she loves to do there. “ I always say if you only have 24hours in Paris then go to one of the markets because thats what the locals do. So you are experiencing a part of Paris like you are Parisienne so to speak. Going to the markets is inexpensive because you can but some nice charcuterie, cheese, maybe some fruit and veg, a baguette, bottle of wine and then head of to the nearest park or canal and enjoy”. This is the most Parisienne thing people can do in Paris and it’s the one thing that she loves to do the most when there.
Rachel tells me that her favourite market is the Marché D’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement because she says “It is open from Tuesday to Sunday but on the weekend they have an antique part. You have an expensive and cheap part, uncovered and covered sections and a lot of character”.
Also fitting to Rachel’s heritage the marché d’aligre is not just a French market, “there’s a lot of north africans there as well so you get a real vibe of what Pais is about today, because it’s not all Amélie, Paris is a multi cultural city.
So back in another multi cultural city, Melbourne, Rachel has a favourite as well. “Phrahan markets are my favourite although I have to admit I have a problem pronounce it properly”. I assure her not to worry as most non-melbournians and some home grown ones do as well.
“I meet this father and son team who have a fantastic fruit and veg shop at the markets. It was so cute, the father had shown me a box of figs that looked beautiful, he was so proud of them. Apparently they came from his neighbours yard and the neighbour had given them to him that morning and now he is selling them at the market”. She recalls and mentions that this is so sweet. “The Phrahan markets are so lovely, beautiful flowers, all that fruit and vegi, you are so spoilt here in Melbourne”.
So now that she is here filming in Melbourne her new series, knowing how many places she has already been to and mentioned here in Melbourne. I asked Rachel what is is like being in the world’s most liveable city as Melbourne was named this year. “You know what, I feel like I was saying before, spoilt rotten. People here are so friendly and so open to sharing their stories, how they got to Melbourne, how passionate they are about the place.”
“It’s so multicultural, people have come to Melbourne with a different idea on what they wanted to do with their life and what they want to bring and give back to this great city. It’s just really fantastic”. It seems that for Rachel, Melbourne’s history is fresh in comparison to some of the places that she has visited in Europe on her last tv series. “You know when you go to Istanbul you have mosques that go back to I don’t know when. So with Melbourne it’s very different, it’s fresh and the fact that there isn't this very ingrained history in Australia or in Melbourne, people are more open to experimenting in food which is very refreshing for me”.
With her new cookbook that has come out, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, Rachel really wants to show people that she is not just the French woman from the tv. Because she has this multi cultural background she really wanted people to see that she can do more than just French food. “French food is still apart of who I am, I can take some of my patisserie techniques and apply them to some new recipes. This is the type of food that is in the book and going to be in the new show. There will be a French touch here and there but I’m like a magpie and always crass-ping at different things. This is what I find exciting and as long as it tastes good I will always mix it up a bit, you know there are no rules to this”.
Here in Paris it's not the season but back in Melbourne I know that the rhubarb has been going off I'm sure so here is a delicious pie to tickle your tastebuds. This is as simple as ever to whip up and freezes really well. It's delicious with some ice cream when straight out of the oven or a little bit of double cream.
"It's delicious when straight out of the oven with a little double cream, well what isn't"
Careme vanilla sweet crust pastry
Really all I need to say here is #allkindsofyum because really a pavlova or pav as I like to say is just that, all kinds of yum. This is perfect to make with leftover egg whites from making ice cream with yolks. It's also a party favourite. You can use any type of fruit on top that's seasonal and I only recommend good quality white chocolate. Make the meringue the day before for best results.
"Really all I need to say is all kinds of yum"
4 egg whites - room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsps cornflour
300ml whipping cream
1 red plum
1 punnet of strawberries
1 punnet of blackberries
250g white chocolate bar
Simple, quick, delicious and great for any occasion. Be it a weeknight dinner or a great salad for a party. Try it and I'm sure you will make it a new staple in your repertoire, I certainly have.
"Try it and make it a new staple in your repertoire"
250g sweet potato
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
500g fresh baby spinach
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of fresh mint leaves
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
When you have an abundance of zucchinis growing or they are in season at the local markets you end up making zucchini everything. Here is a simple but delicious recipe for zucchini bread that goes amazingly slightly toasted with some ricotta and a drizzle of honey.
"What to do with an abundance of Zucchini, make bread of course"
300g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
140g light brown sugar
250ml vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
I'm the ultimate foodie, having made a life from discovering new foods, writing about it, talking about it, highlighting it by running food tours and, of course, taste testing it on very regular occasions!