Giovanni’s sausages with potatoes and rosemary


I’ve been entertaining fantasies, but it’s not what you think. There have been flashbacks to Thailand; riding a moto through the city at night. There’s the allure of the shopping mall and the dream of shopping without having to stop at every mechanical car to let the toddler play. There’s  jealousy at a single friend’s freedom to sleep-in and wishing I could just pop out for a coffee without having to structure the outing around naps. It all leads to one conclusion; it’s time for a break.


Or perhaps time for skipping on meal prep. You’ve seen the meme that reads, “Why do they want dinner every night”? Yep. That’s me. Don’t get me wrong. I really, really like to cook. That is, I really, really like to cook cakes. But every so often (err… perhaps a little more often than that), I am absolutely and completely not inspired to cook dinner. In my dreams, there would be peanut butter sandwiches and ice cream on the menu more than once a month. But alas, hubby does not agree!


So, when there are no leftovers and no freezer meals, for those days when it’s 5pm and the kids are screaming, I have the answer; Giovanni’s sausages with potatoes and rosemary. Just about the simplest dish you could think of. Adjusted slightly from a Bill Granger recipe, this is one of my all-time faves when you need to throw something together but have neither the time nor the energy! It may not be the break you (or I) dream of, but it’s as close as we’re going to get to it on a weekday!


Giovanni’s sausages with potatoes and rosemary
As simple and tasty as it gets, this Italian-style sausage roast is a one-pan dream!

Serves 4

6 Italian-style sausages
800g (1 lb 12 oz) potatoes, scrubbed and sliced (kipfler/fingerling work well here)
1 x 250g punnet cherry tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
2 rosemary stalks
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ loaf ciabatta, crust removed
50ml (1 ¾ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

To serve
Handful fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 200degC (400F/Gas 6). Slice the sausages thickly and place in a large roasting pan (I needed two). Add the potatoes, tomatoes, paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper. Tear the ciabatta into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan. Drizzle with the oil and toss gently.

Cover pan with aluminium foil and roast for 20 minutes. Stir to turn ingredients and roast uncovered for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and sausages and bread are golden brown.

Sprinkle with the basil and serve with a green salad.

Adapted slightly from Best of Bill

Black Forest Brownies {with gf option}


Here it is, at last – the perfect Chocolate and Morello Cherry Brownie recipe! It has taken me months to get this recipe just right! Ever since Dad’s 70th I’ve been on a quest for the perfect black forest brownies … all because my father’s favourite cake is Black Forest Cake. Chocolate-y, creamy and boozy, nothing else comes close. There is only one problem. Black Forest Cake is, by tradition, a layer cake. My mantra for cooking these days is: ‘quick, easy and delicious’. Layer cakes do not fit the bill.


First of all, they are not ‘quick’. There are several steps, each of which could spell disaster. Neither are they ‘easy’. Baking the cake’s not so hard, and I seem to have found a method for splitting it into layers. But it’s the layering of cake with kirsch, cherries and cream where I seem to come unstuck. There are all kinds of slippery, slide-y ingredients, and well, they slip and they slide. *Sigh* It all tastes very good in the end, but I’m not convinced one should suffer that kind of trauma just to enjoy cake.


That was when I decided it was time for an intervention – a one-bowl solution. First, I thought perhaps a flourless version like Nigella’s might be the go. But no. Too soggy. Then, a riff on my favourite Double Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies. Not quite what I had in mind at first, but with a few tweaks, finally, the ratio of butter, sugar and chocolate I was looking for. Rich, fudgy, fruity and just a little bit boozy … chocolate and cherry brownies; all the flavour of a Black Forest Cake … without the angst!


Black Forest Brownies {with gf option}
Wonderfully rich and just a little bit boozy, these chocolate and cherry brownies have all the flavour of a Black Forest Cake without the angst!

Makes 16

1 tablespoon kirsch or cherry brandy
1 x 670g jar pitted Morello cherries, drained
125g (¾ cup) dark chocolate (70%), chopped
125g unsalted butter
100g (2/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) gluten-free (or regular) flour
30g (¼ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
225g (1 cup) caster (super-fine) sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon natural vanilla extract
95g (½ cup) dark chocolate chips (white choc bits are also good)
Icing (confectioners’) sugar, to dust

The day before: Drain the cherries and discard the syrup. Place 1 cup cherries into a small bowl and add a tablespoon of brandy or kirsch. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180degC/350degF. Grease a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking tin and line with baking paper, leaving it hanging over two opposite sides of the tin.

Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir with a metal spoon until melted. Remove from heat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar and eggs until light and frothy, and then fold in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate. Drain the cherries, setting a few (okay, 10) aside for decoration. Gently fold through flour, cherries and chocolate chips (if using), stirring till just combined.

Pour into the tin and smooth the surface. Scatter over remaining cherries (halved) and press down lightly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs clinging! Leave in the tin to cool overnight, then turn onto a chopping board to cut into pieces. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Adapted from my Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Thick, Chewy Muesli Biscuits


Baking with a young kid in the house makes one guilty for sharing so much sugar, and I know heaps of people who are getting het up about the amount of sugar in our diets these days. There was that sugar film just a little while back, which I haven’t seen but no doubt would make me feel bad. Jamie Oliver is also on the band-wagon; highlighting the health issues experienced in the UK by children, who have been consuming at least double, perhaps triple what they ought to on a daily basis.


These issues are not the crux of this post, except for the fact that each week Theo and I attend a mums and bubs group, and I often have trouble deciding what to bake. Most weeks I end up baking “for the mums” which translated, means something unhealthy, often brownies! But for ages I’ve wanted to make a muesli cookie, or something similar that the kids would enjoy. I did consider making my Perfectly Chewy Anzac biscuits but frankly, I was looking for something new.


That led me to consider making a recipe for Muesli Crunch Biscuits, but I wanted a recipe that used oats and not muesli and couldn’t get past the question of whether or not it was calling for toasted muesli or natural. The only thing to do was to adapt an existing recipe to make something more like what I was dreaming of. So, with a tweak here and a tweak there, these are what transpired. Although the title is Australian, these are essentially a riff on an American classic; the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.


Thick, Chewy Muesli Biscuits
A sweet mix of wholemeal flour, oats and honey is loaded up with dried fruit and seeds to form a healthy, delicious alternative to chocolate!

Makes approximately 24 biscuits

115g (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup wholemeal flour
1 ½ cups quick-oats (rolled oats are also fine)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
¾ cup chopped dried fruit (I used apricots, apples, sultanas and cranberries)
½ cup seeds and/or chopped nuts (I used sesame, sunflower, chia and flax seeds)

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease baking trays or line with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together (about 2-3 minutes), then add egg, honey and vanilla extract and beat well. Add in the flour, oats, baking powder and salt, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add chopped dried fruit, seeds or nuts. Stir until well combined.

Shape mixture into balls and place on the trays, flatten lightly with fork or fingers and bake in oven for 12-14 minutes, or until light golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

These are my new “add-in-whatever-you-have-in-the-cupboard” kind of bikkies; for once you’ve made the base mix, your imagination is the only limitation to making these whatever flavour you want them to be! Today dried fruit and nuts; tomorrow chocolate chunks and glace ginger.

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

Melt-and-Mix Banana Bread


So, there we were on a fine spring day, staying at home instead of attending play group, all because the kid has decided to toilet train. Who’d have thought? Just a day before, it had been a struggle to get him to even sit on the toilet. Then I chatted with some mummy friends and decided to wait till he was ready. He must have heard, because since that moment, he refused to wear a nappy. Reverse psychology for the win! The only down side was that we then had to spend several days at home.


Being forced to stay at home, of course my mind turned to baking. We had all the ingredients; sunshine, a bowl of over-ripe bananas, and no real agenda… except that he wanted me to play with him, and I wanted to bake! We made a deal; get the cake in the oven then we play outside together. Once a compromise had been reached, the day progressed as well as it could; he napped early and then played outside; I washed about 6 pairs of undies and somehow, amongst it all, baked a cake.


This cake is my favourite for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a one-bowl affair. Any cake that doesn’t require many dishes is a winner in my books. Secondly, the flavour is incredible. Because the banana is melted with the butter and sugar, there is a deep, caramel like flavour going on, not least because there’s loads of sugar involved! Once cooled, cut into thick slices and freeze. Defrost one or two at your leisure, pop them in the toaster and revel in the aroma of warm, fresh café style banana bread!


Melt-and-Mix Banana Bread
Super easy and delicious, this cake is superb toasted and buttered and served for brunch.

3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about ¾ cup)
120g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
¾ caster (super-fine) sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350F. Grease a medium loaf tin (base measures 10cm x 20cm) with non-stick cooking spray and line base and two long sides with baking paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place butter and mashed bananas into a saucepan and melt on low heat. Stir in the sugar, bicarb soda and milk until the sugar appears to have dissolved. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before stirring in the beaten eggs and flour mixture.

Pour mixture into loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm or cool with butter.

Banana cake slices can be frozen and defrosted.

Adapated from The Cake Mistress

Warm lentil and coriander salad


It’s spring! Finally! We have blue skies and sunshine for what seems like the first time in a very long time! The winter just past was so cold and long… and cold. So we are revelling in the change of season, and looking forward to enjoying the outdoors once again. I have ventured into the garden, and found it covered in weeds, and a vegetable plot full to overflowing with coriander plants. We have watered them, but before they go to seed, I wanted to share this recipe with you.


Before Alex and I got married, I had lived for several years in various houses with various house-mates. Some of those have become my closest friends, others my sworn enemies (ha, ha!). The best share house by far was the first, the one where we made dinner for each other and sat down to eat together at least three times each week. It may not seem like a huge thing, but it knit us together … No other share house I’ve been in has had that dynamic, nor the long-lasting friendships.


Of course, in sharing a house we shared the chores, the bills, laughter, tears, our lives with each other. In sharing meals we also shared recipes. This is one that I grabbed then and have been making on and off ever since. And every time I make it, I get people requesting the recipe. Because it’s classy. It has a distinctive mix of ingredients that just works. It’s simple. It’s fresh. It’s vegetarian. And best of all, it can be served at room temperature. Don’t you just love an unfussy dish?


Warm lentil and coriander salad
Gear up for summer with this wonderfully fragrant lentil salad, flavoured with cumin, lemon juice, and heaps of fresh coriander!

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, halved, sliced (I leave this out)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh coriander roots
200g (1 cup) red lentils, washed, drained
60mL (¼ cup) fresh lemon juice
440mL (1 ¾ cups) vegetable stock (Massel brand is gluten-free)
40g (¼ cup) currants
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander stems and leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Warmed naan bread, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cumin seeds and coriander roots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes or until the onion softens. Add the lentils and stir until well coated in the spices.

Add the lemon juice and cook over medium heat until it evaporates. Add ½ the stock and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the mixture is dry.

Add the remaining stock and the currants and simmer, uncovered, for a further 5-6 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a clean tea towel and then a lid. Set aside for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and coriander stems and leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Stir with a fork to distribute evenly. Serve with warm naan bread.

Serve this salad as a light meal or accompaniment. To warm the naan bread, wrap 4 breads in foil and heat in an oven preheated to 160degC for 10-15 minutes while the lentils are cooking. You will need about ½ large bunch of coriander for this recipe.

Adapted from

Dad’s Double Chocolate Chip Cake {gf}


My Dad is a great chef. He, like me, enjoys baking cakes, and he’s been tweaking recipes since long before I started. A couple of months ago, he had a lovely slice of chocolate cake at the nursing home where Mum lives. He then emailed to ask if I had a recipe I could recommend. Communication is a funny thing; particularly the non-verbal type. He didn’t specify what type of choc chip cake, so I sent him a link to this one. No, not good enough! What he wanted was a chocolate choc chip cake!


After a bit of research on my part, I discovered a double chocolate chip cake recipe and sent him that link, too. He has now made it several times, and loved it. There was only one problem. The batter was too thin, and the chocolate chips sank to the bottom. He confided to me that he was certain someone had written the recipe and hadn’t actually tried it! So he took matters into his own hands and adjusted the recipe. He removed the milk and added more flour. It’s now exactly how he wanted it.


I asked for this fabulous recipe and then did some tweaking of my own. I replaced the wheat flour with gluten-free and added more choc chips. It’s brilliant! We love it. Thanks to my father, we now have a go-to chocolate loaf cake that works for any occasion. What I like most about this cake is that there are only crumbs left after sharing with friends and family. Most of all, I’m grateful for family and the chance to enjoy a shared love of baking with my dad. Happy Father’s Day, Dad! You’re the best!


Dad’s Double Chocolate Chip Cake {gf}
I’ve also made this with ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal) and it had a lovely, distinctive aroma, reminiscent of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Serves 8-10

1 cup (140g) plain (all-purpose) gluten-free (or regular) flour
¾ cup (85g) ground almonds (almond meal)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup (30g) cocoa powder
½ cup (100g) chocolate chips or chunks
¾ cup (175g) softened butter
¾ cup (175g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100mL (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) buttermilk*
4 x squares each white, dark and milk chocolate, for decorating

Preheat oven to 160degC/320F. Grease and line a medium loaf tin (base measures 20.5cm x 10.5cm or 8 x 4-inches) with a long strip of baking paper, extending paper over the two long sides.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa over almond meal in a large mixing bowl. Stir in chocolate chips or chunks. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, fold in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix until no flour streaks are visible, then scrape into prepared tin. Bake for 50-55 mins or until firm and springs back when touched (no point using a skewer for this one, as it will hit melted chocolate and you won’t be able to tell if the cake is cooked). Mine needed a foil tent over it for the last 5 minutes.

Cool in the tin, then lift out onto a wire rack over some baking paper. Melt the extra chocolate chunks separately in pans over barely simmering water, or in bowls in the microwave, then use a fork to drizzle each in turn over the cake. To do this, dip the fork into melted chocolate, and let the first clumpy drip land in the bowl. Drizzle chocolate over the edges and top of the cake. Repeat with remaining chocolate.

For a more controlled drizzle or piping, place melted chocolate in a snap-lock bag and snip off a tiny piece of one corner so you can use it as a pastry bag.

Leave to set before slicing.

Note. *Make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before using.

Adapted from BBC Good Food

Raspberry Almond Muffins with Cacao Nibs and Citrus {gf/df}


I read an article the other day that said that successful people don’t do chores all weekend. I like that! Rather, they socialise and get exercise; in other words, unwind. Recharging is good for the mind, body and soul, and is the real rest that God meant when He instituted the Sabbath as a creation principle. In our household, we don’t always get the balance right, but last weekend was a success. We got out, we spent quality time together as a family, and we got a good dose of winter sunshine and exercise.


We climbed the highest hill in our city, right to the top and back down again. My knees never let me get away with that kind of exercise; it’s the going down that takes the toll. At the top we stopped to enjoy snacks we had brought from home; water, fresh apples, sandwiches and muffins. Just the day before I had whipped up a batch of my Raspberry Almond muffins and they were very good! So good in fact, that I wanted to see if I could recreate the same lusciousness in gluten-free form.


I can, and I did! Though these are not the first iteration… The first batch was too bland, the second batch more like brownies, and far too rich. But this lot, these are perfection! It turns out that pairing raspberries with orange and chocolate is a mighty fine idea. They give off a hint of jaffa as the chocolate fuses with orange; while the raspberries and almond keep it all moist, and the cacao nibs provide a subtle crunch. If it’s all about balance, I’m calling these a resounding success!


Raspberry Almond Muffins with Cacao Nibs and Citrus {gf/df}
Although I’ve chosen orange and raspberries to flavour these muffins, I have no doubt they would be equally divine with lemon and blueberries!

Makes 10 muffins

1 cup plain (all-purpose) GF (or regular) flour
¾ cup ground almonds (almond meal – the type with skins included, not blanched)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
50g (¼ cup) dairy-free chocolate, chopped
¼ cup cacao nibs
Pinch salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup (70g) coconut oil, melted and cooled (olive oil could also work)
Finely grated zest of one orange (approx 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup (125g) fresh or frozen raspberries
Flaked or slivered almonds, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line 10 regular size muffins tins with muffin papers. (I cut out 15cm x 15cm squares of baking paper to line each individual tin.

Sift the almond meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over sugar into a large mixing bowl. Stir in chocolate and cocoa nibs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, orange zest, juice and vanilla bean paste. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in raspberries.

Fill paper lined muffin cups ¾ full and sprinkle with flaked or slivered almonds. Bake for 20 minutes or until risen and dry to touch. Leave to cool 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Inspired by The Conscious Dietician