Radish, Feta and Grain Salad

You might think that all we have eaten lately is treats. Sure we have had our fair share of slices, sweet treats and cocktails, but I can assure you that we have been balancing out the indulgence with lots of tasty summer salads too. Or attempting to, at least.

This pretty little salad was inspired by one I came across in a recent Taste magazine edition – you can find the recipe online here.  Immediately I was drawn to its vibrant colours, and the fact it included a current love of mine (radishes) was also a big draw card.

I slow cooked the lentils and pearl barley as directed, with the bonus of lots of leftovers to use in lunches and dinners the following days. I swapped rocket for baby spinach, for that was what I had on hand, and used feta in place of goats cheese. The result being a tasty salad, that was packed with flavour and crunch.

On this particular occasion we served the salad as a side dish. Although I think it would have made a tasty meat-free meal on its own too – with the grains offering lots of substance.

And did I mention how pretty it was??

Tim Tam Slice

I wanted to try a new slice creation when asked to ‘bring a plate’ to a friend’s BBQ the other week. Normally I take my rocky road, or lemon slice, but with a packet of Tim Tams sitting in the cupboard – well I had my inspiration to try something new.

On the subject of Tim Tams – they really are quite iconically Australian, aren’t they. So much so that when we had Japanese exchange students stay with us when I was younger, they took back packets of Tim Tams by the suitcase-load.  They weren’t all that fussed about Vegemite, but they couldn’t get enough when it came to Tim Tams!

But I digress.

This ‘no bake’ Tim Tam slice was made simply with biscuits, Tim Tams (of course), condensed milk, butter, coconut and cocoa powder.

Combined, pressed into a pan, then topped with white chocolate and more biscuit pieces. Then it was into the fridge to set – no baking required.

Then, after a few hours, the slice was ready to slice and serve.

I’m pleased to report that the slice had all the hallmarks of their biscuit inspiration. Full of chocolate and crunch.

A word of warning though….you may find it difficult to stop at just once piece…

Print Recipe
Tim Tam Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 20 minutes + cooling time
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 20 minutes + cooling time
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Line a slice tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan, and heat over a low heat - stirring until the butter has melted and the mixture is combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the Marie biscuits, half of the chopped Tim Tams and coconut in a large bowl. Add the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Press into the prepared slice tin.
  4. Melt the white chocolate, and pour over the slice. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped Tim Tams and place into the fridge for a few hours to set. Slice and serve.
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Cocktail Hour: Iced Tea G & T

If I was to pick a summer alcoholic drink, besides Pimms or champagne, it would almost certainly be a Gin & Tonic. For it partners beautifully with the warmer weather, offering a refreshing addition to a  summer afternoon BBQ or evening catch up with friends.

I’ve noticed that gin itself seems to be making a bit of a comeback too, with lots of smaller local distilleries entering the market and offering unique blends. Take  Four Pillars, for instance, who easily tempted me to order an early Christmas present when I came across their Australian Christmas Gin. I think it was their claim that it “smells like gin, tastes like Christmas” that had me intrigued.

So with a beautiful bottle in hand, the next question was what to make? Christmas Eve seemed to be the perfect time to create a cocktail – something refreshing yet flavoursome.

And so this Iced Tea G & T came to be!

 Brewed iced tea and lime cordial were infused with the gin overnight. Then finished with ice, lime wedges and tonic water when it was time to serve.

Oh my.  I love a regular G & T but this was taken to the next level! Full of flavour – rich and spicy – and definitely a cocktail I will be adding to my regular list.

Print Recipe
Iced Tea G & T
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks
Servings
glasses
Ingredients
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks
Servings
glasses
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine the chilled iced tea, lime cordial and gin in a bottle, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Place ice in 6 tumblers. Squeeze a couple lime wedges into each.
  3. Divide the chilled tea / gin mixture among the glasses., and top with tonic water.
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Christmas 2017

And just like that, another festive season has come and gone. But what a festive season it was!

We headed to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family this year, but our celebrations started well before then. For knowing we would be away for Christmas Day, and having my niece back from Vietnam for a short while, we held a Canberra Christmas celebration with my in-laws in early December too.

The girls loved the festivity of the day, redecorating the tree (for the hundredth time) and ripping open presents. While we sat back having cuddles with the littlest member of the family, sipping cocktails, before tucking into a simple brunch of fruit and croissants.

A few weeks later, it was time to head down the Hume. Given it was likely to be a little cramped if we all stayed at my Mum’s two-bedroom unit, we decided to rent a holiday house nearby (= best decision ever!) . We made ourselves at home in our ‘home away from home’  almost immediately – with the big backyard, in particular, being a huge hit with the kids.

We hosted Christmas Eve at the holiday house, watching three rounds of Carols by Candlelight on the TV. The cousins were super excited to be reunited,  and didn’t stop playing and singing along to the carols the whole time. Meanwhile, we sipped on (more) cocktails, caught up on ‘life’ and snacked on a mezze platter. There were, of course, goodies left out for Santa and his reindeer too.

Up next…Christmas Day, which proved to be one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a long time. Casual, fuss-free, and just perfect really.

Maggie and I headed out for an early walk before the household stirred, and returned home just as two excited girls emerged from their bedroom to discover the presents that Santa had left overnight – along with the mess the reindeers had made of their carrots. We then lazed around in our (matching haha) Christmas pyjamas for most of the morning while the girls tested out their new toys, before heading to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for the rest of the day.

This year we decided to do ‘Kris Kringle’ among the adults again – which took a lot of stress (and cost!) out of buying pressies. The kids, on the other hand, we well and truly spoiled by their extended family – and loved every second of it.

The afternoon was then spent feasting with the family in the sunshine. All the Christmas trimmings were had – turkey, pork, ham, roasted vegetables and salad. Followed by a tropical pavlova, and washed down with champagne. We were so pleased to see that Melbourne had put on a beautiful day – sunny but not too hot – making it perfect weather for indulging in a hot lunch outside on the deck. Post-lunch naps were had by some (both young and not so young), after which the kids splashed under the sprinkler while the adults laughed their way through a few rounds of charades.  Then, as the sun started to set, we made our way back ‘home’, crashing into (sugar-induced) comas not long after.  And thus a truly wonderful festive season was had by all. Not only because we had the chance to spend time with our extended families, but also because we had a whole week away with just the five of us! The kids LOVED every second of having their Dad off work – and barely left his side the whole time. Needless to say we returned back to Canberra with lots of happy memories (oh and a few extra kilograms too).

Bring on 2018!

Fancy Fruit Platter

With the festivities of the Christmas season now in full swing, I wanted to share with you one of my favourite additions to the family breakfast table.  For when the sun is shining, and day ahead is filled with family and celebrations, we like to keep things light and simple at breakfast time (no doubt saving all important calories for later in the day).

Namely – a Fancy Fruit Platter.

Put a bowl of whole fruit in front of me, and I will look at it with relative ambivalence. But slice the fruit and make it into a salad or a fruit platter? Well you won’t keep me (or the kids!) away from it.

On this occasion we filled the platter with all the wonderful seasonal fruits the market had on offer.  Mango, melon, pineapple, pear, passionfruit, kiwi fruit, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, grapes and blueberries.

Served with some lovely vanilla bean yoghurt and honey granola, and we had ourselves quite the delicious start to the day.

Nutty Date & Chocolate Slice

My two eldest girls can be quite challenging when it comes to food. Miss C will happily eat avocado, mangoes and prawn dumplings by the bucket load, but is generally not all that food focused at meal times (preferring instead to snack and graze throughout the day). Little J would happily have yoghurt for breakfast lunch and dinner, and has no interest in more ‘traditional’ meals such as sandwiches.

Needless to say that if I was to present them with a bowl filled with dates, they would be looked at with suspicion and remain uneaten.

Put dates in a chocolate covered slice however? Well that proved to be a winner!

This slice contains no flour, no eggs, but it does contain nuts so is not allergy-friendly for school lunchboxes.

The texture of this slice is almost fudge-like, and we all loved the little pops of crunchiness throughout. Covering the slice in dark chocolate took the whole slice to the next level too – and worked perfectly to fool my suspicious eaters!

Print Recipe
Nutty Date & Chocolate Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Line a loaf tin with baking paper, leaving a little overhanging the edges.
  2. Process the dates and nut butter in a food processor for a few minutes, until the mixture is well combined and forms a paste. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir through the puffed rice and chopped nuts.
  3. Press the mixture firmly into the lined tin (it will be quite sticky so you may want to use wet hands to do this). Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the slice, and place in the fridge to set for 1 hour. Cut the slice into squares and serve.
Recipe Notes

Keep the slice in the fridge until ready to eat as it will soften at room temperature.

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Cocktail Hour: Iced Peach Bellini

Yes, friends, cocktail season continues in the MCP household, and I am having a lot of fun creating some new drinks to add to our entertaining repertoire.

This particular cocktail was inspired by the beautiful peaches I came across during a recent trip to the market. I have been eating stone fruit by the bucket-load lately, and figured why not make them the star ingredient of a drink to share with friends.

The peaches were peeled and pureed, then frozen in ice cube trays overnight. The frozen fruit was then laced with raspberry vodka and prosecco, blended to icy perfection, and topped up with a little extra prosecco for good measure.

I actually had grand plans of serving this cocktail on what I expected would be a warm and summery day. But Canberra had other plans, instead presenting us with a cold, grey and rainy day.

And although we may have somewhat unusually indulged in these icy cocktails with the heater on this particular occasion, they were certainly refreshing, and I have no doubt they will make more appearances in the (hopefully) warmer months to come!

Print Recipe
Iced Peach Bellini
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Puree the peaches in a food processor until smooth. Pour into an icecube tray, and freeze.
  2. Blend the peach ice cubes with the vodka and prosecco. Divide among 4 serving glasses and top with extra prosecco and a slice of peach.
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My favourite Lemon and Coconut Slice

When asked to “bring a plate”, I often lean towards creating a sweet treat. Rocky road is usually my “go to” sweet, and is generally well received, but on other occasions I like to bring a plate of lemon slice.  For it is easy to make, requires no baking, and the leftovers keep really well too.

Recently I offered to make a couple slices for a birthday party. I had a few chocolate based ones in mind, and figured my favourite lemon slice would work beautifully as a nice flavour contrast to those. And with some lemons leftover from the peach and lemon cake, well it was a no-brainer really.

So one dreary morning, my helpers and I got to work. Lemons were juiced and zested, biscuits were crumbed and condensed milk and butter were heated. And before too long we had ourselves a big tray of lemon slice, sprinkled with coconut, and ready to be sliced and served.

This was a great slice to make with the kids too. They had a lot of fun turning the food processor on and off, and stirring the coconut and melted ingredients into the biscuit crumbs. Bowls and spoons were licked not long after, and coconut was liberally sprinkled over the iced slice (and most of the kitchen benchtop, but let’s not talk about that…!)

Print Recipe
Lemon and Coconut Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl, add the coconut, lemon juice and zest, and stir to combine.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk and butter in a saucepan. Heat slowly, over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Pour the butter mixture into the biscuit mixture, and stir until well combined. Press firmly into a slice tin (that is lined with baking paper), and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the icing sugar and extra lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the ingredients have combined. Spread over the chilled slice, and sprinkle with extra coconut. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or overnight) then slice and serve.
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Peach and Lemon cake

Do you have something that you like the idea of, more than you actually like?

For me, one such thing is  cake. Sure I love creating and baking cakes, but the eating part – yeah not so much. I tend to find them a bit rich and sweet, and after few bites, I’m generally done.

It’s not that I hate cake, it’s just not what I tend to choose when considering the dessert menu.

And it seems that Miss C also shares my ambivalence towards cake. At parties she will politely take a slice of birthday cake when offered, if anything not to miss out on the ritual of the celebration, but moments later she will inevitably ask me quietly if she actually has to eat it.

A lolly bag on the other hand? Well she can empty that in a matter of seconds.

This little cake, however, I thoroughly enjoyed.  It was rustic, light and lemony, and not overly sweet. The little pops of fresh peach throughout were also a nice flavour surprise.

In fact, I enjoyed this cake so much that I ate the whole slice. Who knows, I might even have another slice today…

Print Recipe
Peach and Lemon Cake
Course Baking
Cuisine Cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 160C, and grease / line a round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest for 5 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and yoghurt, and mix until just combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin, and top with sliced peaches.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
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