Tuesday, 31 December 2013

yeasted vasilopita

a greek new year's eve is about getting together with family and friends, playing trianta ena (the card game 31) and cutting the vasilopita or basil pie at midnight..vasilopita is a type of yeasted bread or cake with a coin baked into it and tradition has it that the person finding the coin will be blessed for the rest of the year..

vasilopita is named after basil the fourth century bishop of caesarea in cappadocia in asia minor..the tradition of baking a coin into a loaf is said to be based on the coins st basil baked into sweetened bread as a way of distributing money to the poor..he's also recognised as having been the first person to establish a children's orphanage, a christian hospital and to have been one of the most wise and compassionate clergymen in the history of the church..his feast day is observed on january 1st at the beginning of the new year and the epiphany season..the orthodox church, in recognition of his contributions to the church and to humanity, combined the new year with the birth of christ and the epiphany, into the vasilopita observance..the vasilopita observance is the midnight tradition of cutting and distributing the bread among family and friends with a piece being set aside as a symbolic gesture toward the disadvantaged in recognition of st basil's work with the poor..

yeasted vasilopita recipe 
adapted from 'flavours of greece' rosemary barron
makes 1 large loaf
enough for 20 people

ingredients sponge

225 gms tepid full cream organic unhomegenised milk
1 teaspoon yeast (tsp)
100 gms plain flour 

ingredients dough

200-300 gms plain flour
300 gms wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp crushed mastic 
1 1/2 tsp mahlepi
6 eggs
225 gms honey
140 gms castor sugar
125 gms butter melted and cooled
4 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tbs finely cut candied organic orange peel (i used homemade)
1 tbs finely cut candied organic lemon peel (i used homemade)
2 tsp salt (i used murray river salt)

ingredients glaze

1 egg
2 tsp castor sugar
2 tbs milk

extra for decorating

blanched almonds and/or sesame seeds

method sponge

~ mix yeast into the milk, leave 10 minutes, or until foaming
~ mix in the flour, cover, and leave for an hour or until it has become sponge-like

method dough

~ into the bowl of a stand mixer beat eggs, honey, sugar and salt until light and frothy
~ add 200 gms plain flour, wholemeal flour, sponge, mastic, mahlepi, butter and oil and mix adding enough of the remaining plain flour, if necessary, to make a soft smooth dough
~ remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with greased cling film, and leave to prove for 2 hours or until doubled
~ turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench, gently knead in the peels, and shape the dough into a round
~ place the dough in a large baking paper lined round dish and leave, loosely covered, for an hour or until a finger pressed into the dough leaves an impression
~ mix the glaze ingredients together, brush the top of the dough, and using the almonds write the numbers of the new year and sprinkle with sesame seeds
~ bake at 190 deg c for 20-30 minutes, cover with foil, and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes or until cooked

baking notes

i found:
a) the dough too sweet so next time i would reduce the castor sugar to 100 or 80 gms 
b) the mastic/mahlepi ratio was unbalanced so i would reduce the mastic to 1/4 tsp and increase the mahlepi to 2 tsp
c) the bread needed a stronger citrus flavour so i'd increase the peels to 2 tbs each 
d) the dough was over hydrated (as i did when making tsoureki from the same book) so next time i would change the method and rub the butter into the flour rather than melting it thereby hopefully reducing the hydration level
e) the rising times slow so i'd consider increasing the yeast to 2 tsp (the original recipe called for 2 tbs) or retarding the dough overnight in the fridge (my preferred option)

greek coffee and vasilopita..yamas (cheers)!

kali xronia (happy new year)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

sourdough stollen with homemade marzipan

even though i love christmas baking some years i just don't get much done but this year i've made puddings ( a friend of mine and i always make these together), christmas cake, fruit mince and mince pies, shortbread and stollen..in the past i've made yeasted stollen but this year i wanted to try making a sourdough version..even though i loved the process of making the stollen i wasn't sure if it would be a success or not..at each stage i was filled with a bit of trepidation and lots of questions..questions such as..will it rise? will these flavours work? have i put it too much/too little of (insert ingredient)? should i have added some spice? will the dough be chewy or heavy? have i over/undercooked it? but after waiting for it to (nearly) cool i tentatively cut a piece..ahh..sigh of relief and happiness..it looked like it should..and..it tasted like it should too..ahh.. 

sourdough stollen with homemade marzipan
tea with hazel
makes 2

ingredients dough (first ferment)

250 gms sourdough starter (100% hydration)
250 gms organic white bread flour
125 mls full cream milk

ingredients dough (second ferment)

625 gms first ferment dough
250 gms plain flour
115 gms softened butter cut into small cubes
75 gms castor sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon (tsp) salt
1 egg
75 gms sultanas
75 gms currants
50 gms dried cranberries*
50 gms mixed peel (i used homemade)
100 mls dark rum

ingredients marzipan

150 gms almond meal
100 gms pure icing sugar
100 gms castor sugar
1 egg white (50 gms)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla


beaten egg
30 gms butter melted
castor sugar
icing sugar

day 1

method dough first ferment

~ in the bowl of a stand mixer mix the ingredients
~ cover with buttered cling film and leave overnight

dried fruit marinade

~ mix sultanas, currants, cranberries and peel with rum
~ cover with cling film and leave overnight

day 2

method marzipan

~ beat the egg white with the almond extract, brandy and vanilla
~ add to the almond meal, castor sugar and icing sugar and mix to form a paste
~ shape into 2 logs approximately 3 to 3 1/2 cms in diameter and 20 cms long, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate until needed

method dough second ferment

~ to the first ferment dough add flour, butter, castor sugar, lemon rind, salt and egg and mix until ingredients form a ball
~  rest for 10 minutes and mix again briefly
~ remove the bowl from stand mixer, cover with cling film and leave for 1 hour
~ drain the dried fruit
~ knead the drained dried fruit into dough then cover the dough and leave to prove for 2-3 hours
~ divide the dough in two and roll each piece into an oblong approximately 20 x 25 cms
~ brush the dough with melted butter
~ place the marzipan, adjusting the length to fit if necessary, just off centre of the dough, fold the dough over the marzipan and gently press the dough to seal
~ place on a baking paper lined baking sheet, loosely covered, to prove for about 2 hours until doubled in volume or when a finger pressed into the dough leaves an impression
~ brush stollen with egg
~ heat oven to 250 deg c, place stollen in oven, immediately reduce heat to 180 bake deg c and bake with steam for the first 20 minutes and then without steam for a further for 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked (cover with foil if the top of the dough is browning too much)
~ brush the top of the hot stollen with melted butter and sprinkle with castor sugar
~ remove excess castor sugar and dust generously with icing sugar

note: * i would have preferred to use dried sour cherries but i was unable to find any locally

this post submitted to yeast spotting

Monday, 9 December 2013

banana buns to go

my daughter has over an hour's drive to work every day and she makes a coffee and takes breakfast with her to consume on the journey..probably not recommended in the healthy lifestyle dietary guidelines but that's what works for her..it works for me too because i get to make things that are easy for her to eat..nothing worse than drips and crumbs in the lap or down the front of one's freshly ironed top..i made up the bit about the ironing..she doesn't iron either so i guess ironing aversion must be heritable..

forget those horrible liquid breakfasts in boxes which incidentally remind me of the sort of thing that's whizzed up for fractured mandible patients and looks gluggy, grey and pre digested..get the idea? no..these buns have the good stuff in them but they're not slurped through an oversized straw..there's fruit, milk and complex carbohydrates and you need teeth to eat them..i read somewhere that there's a link between satiation and chewing so they work in that department too..

banana buns to go
tea with hazel

ingredients dough

200 gms organic white bread making flour
100 gms organic wholemeal spelt flour
2 ripe bananas mashed
15 gms butter melted and cooled
200 mls (approximately) low fat milk (i used 1/2 low fat milk and 1/2 whey from draining yoghurt)
1 large tablespoon (tbs) organic candied orange peel (i used homemade) finely diced
1/3 cup currants
2 teaspoons (tsp) honey
2 tsp cardamon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
2 tbs active sourdough starter
extra milk

ingredients glaze

1 tbs sugar
1 tsp gelatine
1 tbs boiling water

method dough/glaze

~ place flours, banana, butter, peel, honey, cardamon, yeast and starter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix adding enough milk to achieve a shaggy dough 
~ autotolyse for 30 minutes, add salt, mix briefly, rest for 10-15 minutes, mix again briefly
~ cover dough with cling film and leave until well risen
~ remove the dough to a lightly floured board and gently knead in currants
~ divide the dough into 12, 70 gm pieces, shape into rounds, and place on a baking paper lined tray
~ cover buns loosely and leave until well risen or until an impression is left after a finger is pressed into the dough
~ brush the tops of the buns with milk and bake at 230 deg c for 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 200 deg c, cover the buns with brown paper, and cook for a further 10 minutes or until cooked
~ brush the tops of the hot buns with the glaze (see glaze method below)

method glaze

~ mix the gelatine and sugar with water and stir until dissolved placing the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water if necessary

grab a banana bun, butter it, and go to work or back to bed with a cup of tea!

this post submitted to yeast spotting

Sunday, 8 December 2013

fresh broad bean falafel

i planted a long row of broad beans in winter where last summer's tomatoes had grown to act as a soil improver but last week i reluctantly had to pull them out to make way for climbing beans, cucumber and zucchini..i know i'm late to get them in but i seem to be struggling to keep up with the growing seasons lately..i put my garlic in late too and as a result this year's garlic heads are the smallest i've ever grown..as i stripped the sacrificial bean pods off the stalks i knew then and there what dish would be worthy of them..fresh broad bean falafel..

fresh broad bean falafel
slightly adapted from here

3 cups double podded broad beans*#
1 small onion
1-2 garlic cloves*
a large pinch of chilli flakes*
small bunch each of dill, parsley including stalks, coriander and mint*
3 teaspoons (tsp) cumin
1 level tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon (tbs) sesame seeds
3-4 tbs olive oil
lemon juice*


~ process all ingredients except for the lemon juice and salt
~ add lemon juice and salt in increments to taste processing between additions
~ using two large spoons form quenelles and shallow fry in olive oil until golden on each side

serving suggestion

i served mine with yoghurt and tahini (recipe follows) and coleslaw made with freshly picked red cabbage*, shaved carrot, parsley*, spring onions* and a dijon mustard and lemon juice dressing

yoghurt and tahini 


1 cup strained homemade yoghurt
1 clove garlic grated fine*
3 tbs organic unhulled tahini
2 tsp honey (or to taste)
lemon juice*


~ whisk yoghurt, garlic, tahini and honey with lemon juice and salt to taste
~ dust with sumac to serve

note * denotes home grown produce
        # it's best to not blanch the broad beans prior to removing the skins..blanching results in an unmanageable mixture

if you grow your own vegetables do you sometimes find it hard to clear garden beds of productive plants to make way for new seasons crops?

Saturday, 30 November 2013

comfort food

it hasn't been much fun here lately..first my daughter got sick so i made her a nurturing chicken soup and a cinnamon tea cake..it's her childhood favourite..she got better and went back to work and then i succumbed to the same virus..so i made a curried carrot soup for myself and some passionfruit cupcakes..today for the first time in more than a week i can say i'm on the mend..

passionfruit cupcakes
adapted from 'favourite cake recipes' family circle
makes 15

ingredients cupcakes

2 cups self raising flour sifted
3/4 cup castor sugar
125 gms softened butter
1 teaspoon (tsp) grated lemon zest
strained juice of 3 passionfruit
3/4 cup milk
pinch salt
2 eggs

ingredients icing

2 tablespoons double cream
pulp of 1 passionfruit
1 tsp lemon rind
pure icing sugar


~ place dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and add remaining cupcake ingredients and beat on low speed for one minute
~ increase speed and beat for a further 2 minutes
~ divide the batter between paper case lined patty tins and bake at 200 deg c for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer
~ make a firm but spreadable icing by mixing enough icing sugar with the cream, lemon rind and passionfruit and ice the cupcakes when cool

adaption notes: in the original recipe the passionfruit pulp was not strained but i prefer the texture of the cake without the seeds and i opted for a cream rather than a butter based icing

curried carrot soup


1 kg carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
1 large onion cut into large chunks
1 thumb size piece of ginger finely grated
pinch of chilli flakes
2 1/2 litres stock (i used homemade)
2 tablespoons (tbs) organic coconut butter
1 1/2 to 2 tbs curry powder
1 teaspoon (tsp) cumin
2 tsp murray river salt

to serve per bowl

1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
3-4 small sprigs of coriander flowers
1/4 cup basmati rice cooked by the absorption method with the addition of coconut butter
extra salt


~ heat coconut butter in a large saucepan, add onion and cook gently until transparent
~ add carrot, ginger, curry powder, cumin, chilli flakes and salt, stir for a couple of minutes, add stock, bring to the boil and then lower heat and cook covered until the carrots are soft
~ puree the soup and adjust seasoning
~ place rice in serving bowl and ladle over hot soup
~ garnish with lime zest and juice, ginger, coriander flowers and salt and pepper to taste

i hope you're well and that you've had a relaxing weekend! x

Monday, 18 November 2013

vintage floral enamel

this lucky find was bought for $1 on the weekend!

i store my tea in this lidded pot..it's the perfect size for the one and a
half packets of tea i use to make my mix

i found this little lidded cup among my mother's things..
it fits perfectly in my bathroom cupboard  

if only i'd learned to like floral enamel earlier because unfortunately it's rare to find any these days

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

using up egg white

coconut chocolate macaroons
with decorative adaptations
go here for david lebovitzs' recipe
makes approximately 24


4 egg whites 
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon (tbs) honey
1/4 cup of plain flour
1/2 teaspoon (tsp) vanilla
1/4 tsp salt 
30 gms dark chocolate
candied orange peel


~ place egg white, coconut, sugar, honey, flour and salt in a large shallow pan and cook over low to moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to just scorch on the bottom of the pan
~ remove from the heat and stir in vanilla
~ leave to cool
~ shape into walnut sized balls and cook at 180 deg c for about 20 minutes or until browned
~ melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water
~ once the macaroons are cooled drop a half tsp of chocolate on the top of each macaroon and then top with a small baton of candied orange peel

if you like to use up egg whites too what do you make with them?

Sunday, 10 November 2013


flanders poppy picked from my garden

thinking of

 my paternal grandfather whom i never met who served as a chemist in the field ambulance corps on the western front in france during world war 1..during the war he developed depression and he committed suicide when my father was three months old 


my father who, during world war 2, piloted four of the six survivors of the sandakan march in borneo to safety

grateful for

the sacrifices made by the forces

Friday, 8 November 2013

where's the bread and butter?

i bought these plates from an op shop this week for $5

royal albert
swinnerton's staffordshire 'luxor vellum'
ridgeway potteries queen anne 
royal stafford 'blue bird'

here's the bread..just out of the oven!

organic sourdough whey (from making ricotta) bread

and a slice cut, buttered and eaten before it's cooled

have a happy weekend x

Saturday, 2 November 2013

raw chocolate date bites

my daughter katerina made these this afternoon

raw chocolate date bites
adapted from here
makes 32


2 cups finely chopped medjool dates
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
4 tablespoons (tbs) organic cocoa powder
2 tbs organic coconut butter
extra shredded coconut


~ place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until the mixture forms a ball
~ roll walnut sized pieces in extra coconut

they went really well with a cup of tea after a few hours of work in the garden

Monday, 21 October 2013

handkerchief quilt

it's taken me a while to work out the best way to piece my hanky quilts but after weeks of deliberation i have made a decision..i bought the backing fabric today and i've started making a quilt with white hankies although some have a bit of coloured embroidery..i have two hankies i'm using in this quilt that are particularly special to me..one, my mother had at her debut, and the other i bought 10 years ago from the all women monastery of saint stephen at meteora in greece..

this hanky is a bit fiddly to applique because of the irregular lacework

the applique stitching on the back won't be seen

some of the hankies are a bit irregular in shape so it's not possible to get them perfectly square on the backing fabric

my piecing method

~ i measured the largest hanky and i then added enough for a small border and a 1 cm seam allowance which gave a measurement of 36.5 cms square..because i want the quilt to be about 170-180 cms square i'll need 25 hankies and pieces of backing fabric
~ i centred the hanky on the backing fabric, pinned and basted it and using a fine white cotton thread i'm appliqueing the hanky to the backing fabric using small stitches
~ once all 25 are completed i'll join the squares either by hand or machine, add batting and a backing fabric and then quilt it by hand although i haven't quite decided what design i'll use
~ once the quilting is done the binding then needs to be added

i plan to make another two by the way..one with children's vintage hankies, that i mentioned in an earlier post, and the other with vintage floral ones..should keep me busy for a while especially as i have three others on the go as well!

Friday, 18 October 2013

kaiser rolls

since i made some not so good rolls for my sons birthday lunch a couple of weeks ago i've been making rolls regularly and the kaiser roll stamp i bought a few months ago is finally getting used..

100% wholemeal organic spelt yeasted rolls

organic white sourdough rolls

organic white and wholemeal spelt 'in it goes (left over milk from coffee
making and a broken egg that was stuck to the egg carton)' rolls

the kaiser roll stamp was purchased from scullery made

happy weekend..x

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

i'm just mad about saffron bread

it was time to use some of the precious spanish saffron i'd been given..i'd hung onto it for so long it was in danger of becoming a relic..but would i be able to do it justice?


450 gms organic white flour
50 gms organic wholemeal flour
300 mls organic unhomogenised full cream milk
2 tablespoons (tbs) castor sugar
1/4 cup sultanas
1 tbs very finely diced organic lemon peel (i used my own)
1 tbs very finely diced organic orange peel (i used my own)
6 tbs dark rum
approx 10 saffron threads
1 teaspoon (tsp) yeast
2 tsp murray river salt
filtered water (if needed)
extra 1 tbs milk


~ bring the milk to the boil, take off the heat, add saffron threads and leave until cool
~ bring the rum to the boil in a small saucepan, take off the heat, add sultanas, leave until cool, drain the sultanas and set the rum aside
~ mix the flour with the yeast, castor sugar, cooled saffron thread milk, rum, and extra water, if needed, to make a shaggy dough
~ leave to autolyse for 20 minutes or so, add salt, mix briefly, rest for 10-15 minutes and then mix again briefly
~ remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with a damp tea towel and leave until doubled in size
~ turn the dough onto a flour dusted bench and gently knead in the peels and sultanas
~ leave to rest covered for about 30 minutes, knead once more, and then shape to fit a large greased bread tin
~ cover and set aside until doubled or when a finger pressed in the dough leaves an impression
~ brush the top of the dough with extra milk, bake with steam at 230 deg c for 20 minutes, cover the loaf with brown paper, lower oven temperature to 200 deg c and continue to cook for a further 20-25 minutes or until done

mellow yellow!

do you find some edible gifts so special that you put off using them or save them for a special occasion?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

vintage things

children's vintage handkerchiefs
i've been collecting these hankies for a few years
with a view to making a child's patchwork quilt
with them

 adult vintage handkerchiefs and doilies
i have dozens of embroidered and patterned handkerchiefs
and embroidered doilies..they're also for quilt making..
i particularly like these hand embroidered birds

i also love these hand embroidered animals..there's so
much work in them..the dog's my favourite

vintage towels
i found these brand new towels yesterday..they all
still had their original price tags on them..
the floral ones are a canadian brand by the name of camtex
and the striped ones are made by tara

do you collect any vintage things?
if so, what do you collect and where do you go looking for them? 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

jubilee cake

this is a cake that my mother used to make when i was a child and it's been one that i've wanted to make for ages..i have fond memories of my mother making it to take on the picnics that we went on regularly..i can make heavy weather of packing for a picnic but in no time my mother would throw together a few chops or sausages, bread, butter and sometimes a jubilee cake and off we'd go..

the jubilee cake or loaf was created in 1936 for south australia's 100th jubilee year and the recipe* was published in the 1936 edition of the 'green and gold cookery book'..i'm not overly fond of using the baking recipes in this book because i find the measurements inexact and the instructions unclear so i used the jubilee cake recipe* in 'the blue ribbon cookbook' by liz harfull..it's a book of recipes and anecdotes from south australian prizewinning country show cooks..

after making the jubilee cake for the first time i can say that it's a winner..the flavour and texture belie the simplicity of the ingredients and how quickly and easily it's made..in a way it's a bit like scones in the sense that it can be made and served in no time and with staple pantry items..it's the sort of cake i'd now make for impromptu guests or if i wanted something with a cup of tea after a day in the garden..

best eaten slightly warm with butter

note: * for copyright reasons i'm unable to post the jubilee cake recipe from 'the blue ribbon cookbook' but the recipes from the 'green and gold' are quite similar but this recipe from the cwa (country women's association) offers a different method..

Thursday, 3 October 2013

don't judge a banana by its colour

one black mummified banana languished in the fruit bowl for a while until it became an embarrassment..i secreted it in the vegetable crisper so my daughter (who's now living with me) and sunday's birthday guests (especially those to whom i'm related) wouldn't see it and so i could spare myself the strange looks..you see..i just knew that banana was destined for stardom! 

oh no..not another banana bread recipe


250 gms organic white bread flour
100 gms organic wholemeal flour
2 ripe bananas mashed*
1/4 cup sultanas
1 cup low fat milk*
2 tablespoons (tbs) cream*
2 teaspoons (tsp) coconut butter
1 heaped tbs organic candied lemon peel (i used homemade) finely cut*
2 tsp honey
1 tsp yeast
1 tbs active starter
2 tsp murray river salt
filtered water
castor sugar
a little extra milk


~ in the bowl of a stand mixer add flours, banana, milk, cream, coconut butter, peel, honey, yeast, and starter and mix adding filtered water if necessary to achieve a shaggy dough
~ leave to autolyse for 20-30 minutes
~ add salt, mix briefly, rest for 10 minutes then mix briefly again
~ remove bowl from stand mixer, cover with a damp tea towel and leave until doubled
~ remove dough to a flour dusted bench and gently knead in the sultanas
~ place the dough in a bread tin and leave, covered, to prove
~ brush the top of the loaf with the extra milk
~bake at 220 deg c for 20 minutes, cover with brown paper or foil, reduce oven temperature to 200 deg c and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or until cooked
~ spray the top of the loaf with water and sprinkle generously with castor sugar and return to the oven for 3-4 minutes (optional)

note: * these are all foods i used to avoid food waste
low fat milk: my daughter makes coffee every morning and once she's boiled the milk for the coffee a couple of times she used to discard it but i now get her to keep it for me to use in bread making
cream: i served cream with a cake i made for my son's birthday and there was some left over that i'm slowly using up
candied lemon peel: my neighbour recently gave me most of her beautiful lemon crop and i retained the rinds after juicing and candied them..

caveat: so much of my cooking is informed by what i'm growing and what i have in the kitchen..sure.. sometimes i need to shop for a particular ingredient to make a meal that i've planned but it's more the exception than the rule..this means that i rarely replicate dishes exactly..and i certainly don't expect anyone to replicate the recipes i post..it's just fun to share my passion..having said that though it's one of the best banana breads, yeasted or otherwise, that i've ever made..x

this post submitted to yeast spotting

edit note: for those not trying to use up ingredients like i was use full cream milk and omit the cream