Mushroom Meatball Subs

Mushroom Meatball Subs

It’s hard to believe that I was ever a fussy eater as a kid. There’s lots of foods I wouldn’t touch, but mushrooms were my arch-nemesis. I would pick even the most microscopic pieces off a slice of pizza. However, these days I can’t get enough of this nutritional powerhouse ingredient in all forms.

So when my friends at Distil Agency asked me to come up with a recipe for The Blend™ competition with Australian Mushroom Growers it was an immediate yes. And these Mushroom Meatball Subs were born.

Mushroom Meatball Subs

We all know that mince is a great versatile ingredient that is easy on the wallet and can create so many delicious dishes. The Blend™ method is a great way to get more nutritious mushrooms into your meals with mince! Just substitute some of the mince for finely diced mushrooms in your favourite recipes like tacos, bolognese, chilli con carne, burgers or in this case, meatballs! 

Mushroom Meatball Subs

It’s such a simple swap and awesome if you’re looking to reduce your meat intake without giving it up completely. Adding mushrooms can help stretch the portion sizes so you get more bang for your buck. Plus mushrooms add natural umami flavour to enhance your dish and can reduce the fat, salt and calories too. It’s also a great sneaky way to incorporate vegetables into meals for fussy kids. That’s a win all around!

Mushroom Meatball Subs

Following the guidance on The Blend™ website, I used a mix of 25% finely diced mushrooms and 75% grass fed beef mince for my meatballs and I thought this was the perfect ratio. The meatballs were easy to roll and held together well while cooking. 

Mushroom Meatball Subs

There are 3 key things in creating the perfect meatball:

1. Pick the right mince. Any kind of meat can be used for meatballs, but using a mince with very low fat – like extra lean beef, chicken or turkey – and the meatballs can become dry. But on the other hand, using a lower quality mince with too much fat can mean they are swimming with oil as they cook. A happy medium is a mince that is between 10-20% fat.

2. Make sure you season your mince mixture well! There’s nothing worse than bland, under-seasoned meatballs! I like to add in or fresh herbs, mustard (any kind will do!) and Worcestershire sauce as well as salt and pepper of course for max flavour. 

3. Wet your hands before mixing and rolling the meatballs. I definitely advocate for getting your hands dirty in this recipe. It’s a messy process but using your hands helps the mixture bind together better. Having wet hands keeps the mince mixture from sticking as you roll them.

Mushroom Meatball Subs

Once they were rolled, I browned the mushroom meatballs in a pan until mostly cooked through. Then I added passata sauce, some garlic and basil for extra flavour. I served the saucy mushroom meatballs on long crusty rolls with fresh rocket and a very generous amount of grated parmesan cheese. The mushrooms give the meatballs a really nice taste and texture and I think this dish makes for an amazing weekend lunch!

Check out the video for how to make these Mushroom Meatball Subs and also the competition running for a few more days.

This post is sponsored by Distil Agency. Recipe and opinions are all my own. 

Related Post: Pork Meatball Salad Bowls

Mushroom Meatball Subs

Mushroom Meatball Subs

These Mushroom Meatball Subs have finely diced mushrooms blended into the meatballs giving them extra umami flavour and nutritional value.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

Mushroom Meatballs

  • 360 g grass fed beef mince
  • 120 g button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 jar (700g) tomato passata sauce
  • Fresh basil, finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper

To serve

  • 4-6 long bread rolls
  • Fresh rocket
  • Grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. To make the mushroom meatballs, finely dice the mushrooms until the texture is similar to the mince. Place the mince and mushrooms together into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, Italian herbs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and parmesan and mix with wet hands until thoroughly combined.
  2. Take tablespoons of the mushroom mince mixture and roll between wet hands to form meatballs. Repeat until all the mince has been used.
  3. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning often until they have started to brown and are partially cooked through. Add the garlic and the tomato passata and stir to coat the meatballs. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly. Add the fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To serve, slice rolls lengthwise with a serrated knife. Add some fresh rocket and top generously with meatballs – as many as you can fit! Grate over some parmesan cheese. Optionally, you could pop it under the grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Baked Feta Pasta with Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes (TikTok recipe)

Baked Feta Pasta

Do you have a favourite ingredient that you just want to add to every single dish? Mine is eggplant. I mean Margherita Pizza is great, but if you add eggplant? Phenomenal. And lasagne is epic but seriously, have you tried adding eggplant?! Remember that viral TikTok pasta trend from a couple of years ago? Where you take cherry tomatoes and a whole block of feta, bake it and stir it into pasta? It’s great. But I think you can guess where this is going… 

Baked Feta Pasta with Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes à la TikTok. 

Baked Feta Pasta

It was impossible to escape it on the internet at the time. But it’s a really great concept and makes such an easy and delicious weeknight dinner. I made it once or twice at the time to see what the fuss was about, but this version with eggplant is clearly the winner.

The baked feta keeps it’s shape in the oven but it’s immensely satisfying to stir it through the roasted vegetables. It creates a delicious slightly salty creamy ‘sauce’ that clings to your pasta. It’s absolutely delicious with the roasted eggplant and bursting sweet tomatoes. 

Baked Feta Pasta

If you’re in the southern hemisphere, summer is the perfect time to enjoy eggplant, tomatoes and fresh basil while they’re in season! I have all 3 growing in the garden, however none were quite ready to harvest for this recipe.

PS: I am on TikTok! Go and follow me over there to see recipe videos and behind the scenes.

You really can’t go wrong and this recipe is so easy and forgiving. Eggplant and tomatoes = winner. Eggplant and feta = also damn delicious. Apart from cooking the pasta, everything is done in one dish and about an hour of total hands off time where you can do something else while dinner cooks. 

Baked Feta Pasta

I pop the chopped eggplant into the oven with some olive oil and salt ahead of everything else because it takes a little longer to cook. Then I add cherry tomatoes, the whole block of feta (I used Danish feta because I wanted max creaminess), chilli flakes, black pepper, fresh oregano and a little more olive oil. You know it’s ready when the tomatoes are close to bursting.

I also love adding a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar to any of my tomato based pasta sauces. I don’t see many others doing this (seriously, some people don’t even season their bolognese!) but it adds such a beautiful depth of flavour. If you make this, please don’t skip the fresh basil. To me that is the KEY to any tomato pasta dish and adds so much freshness. 

Baked Feta Pasta

All that’s left to do now is stir it all together with your cooked pasta. You can use any size or shape you like but I’ve gone for spirals – or Fusilli if you want to get fancy. I hope you’ll give this Baked Feta Pasta recipe a try and come join me on TikTok

Related Post: Easy Salami Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes & Burrata

Baked Feta Pasta

Baked Feta Pasta with Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes

Baked Feta Pasta with Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes – my take on the viral TikTok pasta. It's simple, delicious and popular for a reason!

Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course, Pasta
Keyword Lunch, Pasta, Simple Dinners, Summer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant, around 350g
  • Olive oil
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 400 g cherry tomatoes
  • 200 g Danish feta
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 stalk oregano, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 250 g pasta I used spirals/fusilli

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F).
  2. Chop the eggplants into 1.5cm rounds and then into 1.5cm cubes. Place eggplant into a large ovenproof dish. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt and place into the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and add cherry tomatoes and garlic and stir around. Create a gap in the centre of the dish and place the block of feta in the space. Scatter with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chilli powder, freshly cracked pepper and the leaves from 1 stalk of fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano). Return to the oven for 40 minutes or until cherry tomatoes are soft and bursting.
  4. In the meantime, cook your choice of pasta in slightly salted water according to packet instructions.
  5. Scatter the dish with fresh basil and stir the baked feta into the eggplant and tomatoes. Add the vinegar and stir until combined. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Scatter with more fresh basil and black pepper and serve.

Fruit Mince Blondies

Fruit Mince Blondies

It’s that time of year again! If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know that I’m fruit mince pie obsessed. I used absolutely to hate the store bought versions and it wasn’t until I started making my own that I started to love them. Now I feel like I’ve perfected the fruit mince mixture, and my family requests them every year. There’s something a little meditative about chopping apricots and mixing the dried fruit – usually late at night – during the December madness.

Although I will still be making my Fruit Mince Crumble Pies this year, I wanted to try something different too. That’s how these Fruit Mince Blondies were born. If you have no patience for making pastry, these little babies will be your best friends. A blondie is just like a brownie but without the chocolate, which gives you a chewy, fudgy and rich slice that will definitely please a crowd. 

Fruit Mince Blondies

These Fruit Mince Blondies are reeeeally easy to make. Just some melting and stirring all in one bowl. No mixers, food processors, rolling pins or any other special equipment required! They taste sooo good, retain their freshness and texture for a long time and are perfect to give as little homemade Christmas gifts. 

Let’s go over how the recipe for these Fruit Mince Blondies comes together…

Firstly, you’ll want to make your fruit mince. The good news is that this can be done well in advance, or even kinda last minute. I like to make it a day or two before so the flavours have enough time to meld together nicely. And again, apart from a bit of chopping and stirring, this all happens in one bowl. Easy peasy.

Fruit Mince Blondies

Next up, you’ll want to prep your baking pan. I used a 21cm (roughly 8 inch) square baking dish with a removable bottom to make it easy on myself. This will give you quite tall blondies with high sides, which I personally love. Lots of room for these blondies to be generously studded with the fruit mince. If you don’t have a square pan, a regular brownie pan is more than fine but your blondies may be a little less tall on the sides. You will want to line whichever pan you’re using with some non-stick baking paper.

Now, the fun part. Start mixing everything in one large bowl starting with the melted butter and sugar, then eggs, vanilla. The dry ingredients go in next, which is your flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Portion out half of the fruit mince mixture – this recipe will make more than you need but keep the rest for a second batch of blondies or to swirl through no-churn ice cream (so good).

Fold through half of what’s remaining through the blondie mixture and pour into the prepared baking pan. Dollop the rest over the top and now it’s time to bake!

Fruit Mince Blondies

Bake for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. My batch took a little longer because my square pan was deeper but as with regular brownies, under-baking these a little is just fine. They should be set and lightly golden on top. Allow them to cool completely in the pan before you remove and cut them up. Don’t be impatient here, because they will fall apart.

That’s it! I absolutely love the texture of these blondies – rich and fudgy, studded with tasty plump fruit. You can choose to serve in a stack at your Christmas gathering or keep them on hand in case unexpected guests come around. You could also package them in little cellophane bags to give as lovely homemade gifts. They’re also really, really good with some ice cream or custard!

Related Post: Fruit Mince Wreath

Fruit Mince Blondies

Fruit Mince Blondies

These fudgy Fruit Mince Blondies make a delicious Christmas dessert or a lovely homemade gift. They are generously studded with spiced fruit and are so easy to make – no mixer required!

Course Bars, Brownies and Blondies, Cake, Dessert
Keyword Bars, Brownies and Blondies, Cake, Christmas, Slices
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 16

Ingredients

Fruit Mince (you will use half of this in the blondie recipe and have some left over)

  • 200 g sultanas
  • 100 g dried cranberries
  • 80 g dates, de-seeded and chopped
  • 80 g dried apricots or peaches, finely chopped
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice (or mixed spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger, fresh
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 30 ml spiced rum, see note

Fruit Mince Blondie

  • 225 g butter, melted
  • 440 g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. To make the fruit mince filling mixture, place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well to fully combine. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to infuse. You can make this days ahead and keep covered in the fridge if you like!
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 21cm (8 inch) square baking pan with non-stick baking paper.
  3. To make the blondies, mix melted butter with brown sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. Divide fruit mince filling in half. We will only be using half of it for this recipe. Store the remaining fruit mince in a jar or covered in the fridge.
  5. Fold half of the remaining fruit mince into the blondie mixture and then pour into the baking pan. Dollop the other half of the fruit mince over the top.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, rotating the pan at the 30 minute mark. When ready, the blondie should be lightly golden on top and just set in the middle. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean or with very few crumbs sticking to it. Allow to cool completely before removing from the baking pan and cutting up. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

This Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake is the perfect afternoon tea cake. It’s full of citrus flavour, loaded with tart cranberries and drizzled with a sweet pink glaze.

So many of my recipes have been inspired by the ingredients that I happen to have on hand. I don’t tend to impulse purchase clothes or handbags – I impulse buy fruit. And then of course, I have to come up with an idea to use it up. It’s my toxic trait – picking up a bunch of rhubarb with no plan for what to make… but it has led to many of my very favourite recipes like Banana Biscoff Cheesecake Muffins and Apple Miso Crumble.

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

This time it was Blood Oranges – homegrown and lovingly gifted from my Nanna. No way could I let those beauties go to waste! I just knew that whatever I made absolutely needed to have a pink glaze. Luckily I had a bag of frozen cranberries in my freezer!

I seem to be very inspired by Northern Hemisphere fall at the moment. I use dried cranberries so often that I buy them in bulk bags from Costco, but I had never used fresh or frozen ones before. Of course I had to taste test one on its own and was a lil shocked by how tart and sour it was! But they baked up absolutely beautifully in this delicious loaf cake and added a gorgeous colour to the glaze.

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

What is a loaf cake? 

A loaf cake gets its name purely from the fact that it’s baked in a loaf shaped tin. But in my mind, loaf cakes have a glaze or are served unadorned. Round cakes usually have some variety of icing. Loaf cakes seem to also be able to stand up to a more dense mixture, for example a pound cake. Or as I most like to do – a cake with enough structure to be studded with fruit without it all sinking to the bottom. The sour cream in the batter keeps it moist without making the batter too thin. I absolutely love the texture that it creates. 

I loved this cake in a loaf shape, but there are no rules here. You can of course make it in a round cake tin or even as cute little cupcakes. To me, loaf cakes also make the perfect afternoon tea cake.

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

Got friends coming over? This cake can be put together in about an hour or so with just a hand-held mixer, a bowl and a zester. Add the pretty pink Cranberry and Blood Orange Glaze and cut into generous slices as your guests arrive. Believe me when I say this cake is perfect with a cup of  your favourite tea. If you can find a tea on the same flavour spectrum with some fruity cranberry, pomegranate or orange even better.

I used the base recipe from another cake I’ve blogged before, which shows that it can be adapted with ease. If the original Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme Cake is the spring/summer version, then this Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake has serious autumn/winter vibes. But you could use definitely this recipe with other flavourings and fresh or frozen berries too!

Related Post: Strawberry Cake

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake

This Blood Orange and Cranberry Loaf Cake is the perfect afternoon tea cake. It’s full of citrus flavour, loaded with tart cranberries and drizzled with a sweet pink glaze.

Course Afternoon Tea, Cake, Dessert
Keyword Afternoon Tea, Autumn, Cake, Snack, Winter
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 110 g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup 135g sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of 3 blood oranges
  • Juice of 1 1/2 blood oranges
  • 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (not dried)

Blood Orange and Cranberry Glaze

  • 1/4 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (not dried)
  • Juice of 1 1/2 blood oranges
  • 1 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan forced (350°F). Grease and line a loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and sour cream and beat until combined. Add the eggs and mix in one at a time until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and blood orange zest. Beat until combined, being careful not to overmix. Add the fresh or frozen cranberries and gently mix in with a spatula.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the loaf pan and bake for around 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the loaf pan.
  4. In the meantime, make the glaze. In a blender or Nutribullet, blend together the cranberries and blood orange juice. Strain through a sieve and reserve the juice. Sift the icing sugar in, starting with 1 cup and stir to combine. Continue to add icing sugar 1/4 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. I used 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar total.
  5. To serve, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cake to cover completely. Serve in thick slices with a cup of your favourite tea.
  6. You can store the cake unglazed in an air-tight container for 1-2 days or until you’re ready to serve. Once glazed, this cake is best eaten within 2 days.

Spiced Pumpkin, Fetta and Pearl Barley Salad

Spiced Pumpkin Pearl Barley Salad

We’re currently in the transition between winter and spring. We’ve had some lovely warm, sunny days, which feel lush. But thanks to La Niña today is feeling like winter again. That being said, I’m getting a lot of inspiration seeing fall recipes posted by Northern Hemisphere friends on Instagram. It feels like a nice overlap with the seasons where we can all enjoy some comfort food. Now that it’s October,  pumpkins are definitely on the menu! This Spiced Pumpkin, Feta and Pearl Barley Salad is so versatile and delicious – definitely one of my new favourites that I will make over and over. Honestly I could eat this any time of year, but it’s perfect right now, no matter where you live.

Pearl barley is an underrated ingredient that I really love. You can buy a bag of pearl barley at the supermarket for just a couple of dollars, making it a super affordable grain that is also easy to prepare. Find it in the aisle with the dried beans and pulses. Pearl barley is often used in soups and even as an alternative to rice. My favourite way to use it is definitely in salads. It’s slightly chewy with a nutty taste that works perfectly in a textural salad like this one. 

Spiced Pumpkin Pearl Barley Salad

Adding to the textures and flavours are sweet chewy dried cranberries and crunchy pecans. Sliced spring onions and a whole heap of parsley and mint provide freshness. The dressing is a simple one – just add the ingredients to a jar and shake it up. We have the usual suspects of olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice with some Dijon mustard and honey to round out the flavours. And then on top, my favourite part – the crumbled fetta cheese that adds saltiness and creaminess and brings it all together.

Now let’s talk about the pumpkin. I love roasting large wedges for this salad, which makes it fun to serve family style as a shared side dish. I brushed the cut pumpkins with olive oil that I mixed with cinnamon, sumac, garam masala, salt and pepper. The pumpkin is basted on all sides a few additional times with the spiced oil as it cooks in the oven. It turns soft and sweet in the oven with a crisped up edge and great flavour thanks to the spices.

Spiced Pumpkin Pearl Barley Salad

I keep thinking that this Pearl Barley salad would make an awesome Thanksgiving dish – the flavours of pumpkin, pecan and cranberries scream fall! I can definitely imagine this side dish alongside the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie.

BUT it also would be really good for meal prep! Not only is it economical to make, but it will easily last several days in the fridge. After I shot these photos, I had so much leftover and I hate wasting food. So I ate this salad for lunch for several days and it didn’t get sad and soggy. The salad maintained all its textural integrity and continued to taste good. It’s satisfying, filling and you can adapt it in so many ways…

Spiced Pumpkin Pearl Barley Salad

Can I make substitutions in this Pearl Barley Salad?

Absolutely! I always love to add some suggestions of ways to change things up. You can adapt the recipe with ease to keep it feeling fresh whenever you make it.

Pearl Barley – If you don’t have pearl barley on hand you could substitute farro. It’s the most similar grain and can be used interchangeably. Pearl or Israeli couscous are small balls of toasted semolina and would also work really well in this salad. For a gluten free option, cooked quinoa or rice could be delicious but the texture will change. As another wild idea, you could even turn this into a pasta salad using your favourite short pasta shape, cooked and cooled.

Cranberries – I’d love to try this salad with fresh pomegranate arils as well or instead of the cranberries. Pomegranate would add a similar tart sweetness and look really pretty. You could also try other dried fruit like sour cherries or raisins.

Pecans – Try pepitas, roasted almonds or walnuts. Or if you have a nut allergy, you could roast some chickpeas until just crisp with the same spiced oil as the pumpkins and add them in. Yum!!

Protein – You can absolutely serve this as a side salad along any kind of roasted meat. Or turn it into a main dish with some grilled chicken, lamb cutlets or crispy tofu on top. I also loved this Pearl Barley Salad with grilled haloumi.

Pumpkin – Well, this salad is all about the pumpkin but you could definitely substitute different varieties of pumpkin, squash or sweet potato. Don’t be afraid of all the spices – they work really well with the sweet pumpkin.

Related Post: Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad

Spiced Pumpkin Pearl Barley Salad

Spiced Pumpkin, Fetta and Pearl Barley Salad

This Spiced Pumpkin, Fetta and Pearl Barley Salad is an excellent and economical fall, winter or Thanksgiving side dish with lots of textures and delicious seasonal flavours.

Course lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Keyword Autumn, Salad, Side Dish, Winter
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 5

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Kent pumpkin (roughly 900 grams)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt & pepper

Salad

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup combined fresh mint and parsley, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup Danish Fetta, crumbled
  • Extra parsley and mint, to garnish

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Honey

Instructions

  1. First, cook the pearl barley. Place barley into a medium saucepan (that has room for barley to expand) with 3 cups of water. Cook covered with a lid on medium heat for about 30-35 minutes or until barley is soft but chewy and expanded in size. You will need to check on this a few times during cooking to make sure the water is not evaporating too quickly – add another 1/2 cup if it is. The water should be mostly or completely absorbed by the time the barley is cooked. Drain and rinse with cool water and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F).
  3. To make the spiced oil, place 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl with cinnamon, sumac, garam masala, a large pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. While the barley is cooking, prepare the pumpkin. I cut my unpeeled pumpkin into 5 large wedges but you could also peel and cut into 2cm cubes if you prefer. Place onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and brush with the spiced oil. Bake in the oven, basting every 20 minutes for about 50-60 minutes, flipping the pumpkin wedges over halfway and rotating the oven tray so they cook evenly.
  5. To make the dressing place 1/3 cup of olive oil into a medium jar with the mustard, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey and salt and pepper. Secure the lid and give it a shake and then taste. Add more of any ingredient to your personal liking. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
  6. To assemble the salad, place the cooked and cooled pearl barley into a large bowl, then add cranberries, pecans, spring onion and sliced herbs and toss to combine. Add half the dressing, some salt and pepper and toss again. Place the cooked pumpkin wedges on top and scatter with crumbled fetta and extra parsley and mint leaves. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

The idea for this Apple Crumble Filo Pie was kicking around in my brain for literally months before I decided to make it for a weekend girls lunch. And what do you know – it turned out even better than I had hoped! Imagine a headily spiced apple pie with a crumble topping – sounds good, but nothing revolutionary here. Then what if you cross that with baklava and add a good drizzle of homemade salted caramel sauce? Now we’re talking! 

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

Everyone absolutely loved this dessert. It was the perfect way to end our cozy winter lunch without being too rich or heavy. Afterwards, we were batting around other flavour combinations or additions to try for next time. “Ooh what if you added some sultanas!” “This would be epic with fresh berries inside!” “Maybe some crushed walnuts for texture!” These are my kind of people – always wanting to change up the recipe to make it different or even better next time!

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

I love a good apple crumble and my secret ingredient is apple cider! You can use any that you love the taste of, boozy or not. However it’s even better if you use Apple Crumble Infused cider! The brand Zeffer, based in New Zealand make my all-time favourite cider. I have used it to make an Apple Crumble Cider Punch (delish) and I can attest that it also works perfectly for making desserts. Along with the cider, I flavoured my apple mixture with a little sugar, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice and vanilla. 

On a normal day, I like to make my own pastry, but I draw the line at filo. These thinner-than-paper-thin pastry sheets are a work of art and I just don’t have that kind of time and patience! Good filo pastry is easily found at supermarkets these days. Using store-bought actually turns this into a much more quick and simple dessert. There’s really no substitute for filo in this recipe – using a different type of pastry won’t give you that shatteringly crisp texture when baked. However the filling is delicious so you could adapt that into a more traditional apple pie with ease. 

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

The other trick when using filo is to work quickly! Keep any remaining sheets of dough covered under a damp (clean) tea towel until you need them. This pastry is so thin, it can dry out if left exposed to the air for too long and start to crack. I found it pretty easy to roll the dough into the and form the scroll shape in the cake tin. Rolling the pastry into a scroll shape adds much more surface area to get crisp in the oven. Plus this Apple Crumble Filo Pie looks really pretty too! If you like, you could even make 4 individual scrolls instead of coiling them in the cake tin.

If you’re short on time, you can make the apple and the crumble mixtures the day before. They will store well in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble and bake the dessert. Of course this Filo Pie tastes best on the day it’s made when the pastry is lovely and crisp. Got leftovers? They reheat pretty well in the oven!

I topped this delicious Filo Pie with some ice cream and a homemade salted caramel sauce. The sauce is super easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for about a month. You could also add a little bourbon, however this is totally optional. I always love a big scoop of ice cream on top of a baked fruit dessert – to me this is not optional! But you could also add a drizzle of cream or custard if you prefer. 

Related Post: Apple Miso Crumble with No Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

Apple Crumble Filo Pie with Salted Caramel

This Apple Crumble Filo Pie is a delicious simple dessert perfect for autumn or winter dinner parties. A delicious spiced apple filling is rolled in crispy filo pastry, topped with a yummy crunchy crumble and topped with homemade salted caramel sauce.

Course Dessert
Keyword Apples, Autumn, Pies & Tarts, Winter
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cool in Pan 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

Crumble Topping

  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 55 g butter

Salted Caramel

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 60 g salted butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or whisky (optional)

Apple Crumble Filo Pie

  • 6 medium/large apples (I used Pink Lady)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 12 sheets filo pastry
  • 125 g melted butter, cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • Ice cream, to serve

Instructions

  1. To make the salted caramel sauce, place the brown sugar, butter and cream into a medium saucepan and stir until combined and the butter has melted. Cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir through salt and bourbon if using, and allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside until ready to serve.
  2. To make the crumble topping, combine the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Rub butter into the mixture with your fingertips. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. To make the apple mixture, peel apples and chop into 1-2cm cubes. Add to a medium saucepan with cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, vanilla, sugar and cider and cook for 10-15 minutes or until apple is softened and liquid has become syrupy. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line the base and sides of a 23cm round springform baking pan.
  5. Work quickly with the filo pastry and cover any remaining sheets with a damp tea towel. Layer two sheets of filo pastry and lightly brush with melted butter. Layer one more sheet of pastry on top and brush with a little more butter. Spread along the long side with 1/4 of the apple mixture and roll up carefully. Form into a spiral in the centre of the baking pan.
  6. Repeat three more times with remaining pastry and apples and coil each roll around the previous one to make a spiral in the baking pan. Brush top with melted butter.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven. Drizzle with honey and scatter with crumble (as much as you like, you may have some leftover). Bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and dust with icing sugar. Serve in slices with ice cream and drizzled salted caramel sauce.

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that there’s nothing I love more than a baked fruit dessert. I could never get sick of this kind of thing! Whether it’s pie or pandowdy, cobbler or crumble, buckle or betty. I love their curious, quirky names and the multitude of ways to prepare them. For me, they are perfect any time of year, using whatever fruit is in season. Today’s recipe is a classic Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler. I wanted to enjoy a last hurrah of summer cherries before the apples and pears of autumn take centre stage.

So what is a cobbler exactly?

A cobbler is a dessert, most often with fruit (although savoury cobblers exist too!) baked in a dish or skillet, with a topping similar to a biscuit or scone. The topping can be either scattered in “clumps” for a rustic feel or you can use a round cutter to layer circle shapes on top of your filling. It’s then baked until the topping is golden and the fruit is cooked and bubbling to perfection.

A cobbler topping is quite different to a pie, which uses rolled pastry on the top and bottom. A crumble is made with a topping of flour, butter, sugar and optional oats and nuts rubbed together.

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

A Pandowdy has a pastry top, but it’s usually broken or cut into uneven shapes to ensure it becomes extra crispy. A buckle is topped with cake batter instead of pastry. And I hadn’t even heard of the North Carolina “sonker” until just now. This kind of regional dessert history is fascinating to baking nerds like me.

Maybe it’s the fact that they seem so nostalgic, I can just imagine my Nan making desserts like this. They are a fantastic way to use up any fruit that is a little overripe. And of course you can interchange whatever fruit is in season. The topping comes together with just a few basic pantry ingredients you probably have on hand. And you’d better not forget the ice cream! 

I always used to think of cherries as a Christmas food – they just feel so festive to me. I’ve shared a bunch of Christmas cherry recipes like my Mulled Wine Cherry Cheesecake Bars. But enjoying cherries all the way into March has reminded me that cherries are not just for Christmas. They’re one of my favourite stone fruits and I love cooking with them.

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

Fresh cherries are absolutely perfect in this cobbler. Their flavour shone through beautifully, enhanced only with vanilla, cinnamon and a hint of Cointreau (orange liqueur). You could use cherry liqueur or a cordial like rhubarb or elderflower. I cooked them down a little before baking to ensure they would cook up perfectly, and thickened the juice they released with a little cornstarch for the perfect texture.

For the cobbler topping, I knew I wanted to add buttermilk. It just seems like such a classic combination with cherries. The pastry came together easily in the food processor, and then you simply roll it out and layer it on top of the cherry filling. I love to brush the pastry with some extra buttermilk and most importantly, scatter some raw sugar on top. This gives a really lovely texture when it’s baked. 

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

You seriously can’t go wrong with a dessert like this. It’s comforting and absolutely delicious – and  like that old saying, it’s even easier than pie! No really, the cobbler topping is way easier than making a pie crust!

I hope you try this Cherry Cobbler recipe and love it as much as I do! Please let me know here in the comments or over on Instagram. Please take a pic and tag me @spicyicecream. I absolutely love to see your photos of the recipes you’ve made!

Related Post: Cherry and Peach Pandowdy

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler

This Buttermilk Cherry Cobbler is a delicious, nostalgic dessert with a sweet fruit filling and a delicious rustic topping. Just don't forget the ice cream!

Course Dessert
Keyword Dessert, Ice Cream, Pudding, Summer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Cherry Filling

  • 600 g cherries pitted weight
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1-2 tablespoons Cointreau or Cherry Liqueur

Cobbler Pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 75 g cold butter chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar plus extra to scatter
  • 135 ml buttermilk plus extra for brushing
  • Icing sugar to serve
  • Vanilla ice cream to serve

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (400°F).
  2. Place the pitted cherries, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon into a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes. In a small bowl or jug, whisk together the water and cornflour. While the mixture is boiling, add it in and stir to thoroughly combine. The mixture should start to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cointreau or liqueur.
  3. Cool the cherry mixture slightly before pouring into an oven-proof baking dish.
  4. While the filling cools, make the the buttermilk pastry. Process the self-raising flour, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add buttermilk and process until mixture forms a dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until smooth.
  5. Roll out to 5mm thick and cut out 5cm rounds with a pastry cutter. Arrange over cherry filling, overlapping circles slightly. Brush tops with a little extra buttermilk and scatter raw sugar over pastry.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cherries are bubbling and pastry is golden and risen. Serve hot, dusted with icing sugar and topped with ice cream.

Bill Granger’s Coconut Bread

Bill Granger Coconut Bread

One of my little projects this year is going back through fifteen years of blog archives and updating some of my very favourite recipes. I started my blog as a graphic design college student back in 2007. I was just getting into baking, blogging and photography and never imagined that I would still be doing all these things so many years later! Today’s recipe is Bill Granger’s Coconut Bread, which I first made in 2008 and which is still on his cafe menus all around the world. 

Bill is Sydney’s King of Breakfast, winning us over with fluffy ricotta pancakes and even fluffier scrambled eggs. Apparently he even created avocado toast, which is a staple on almost every cafe menu in the country. Trust me, I have designed hundreds of menus!

Bill Granger Coconut Bread

Granger’s latest book Australian Food embraces the multicultural melting pot that Australia is now. While the book is beautiful, it would have been great to see some recipes incorporating native ingredients. Think wattleseed, finger lime, lemon myrtle alongside the recipes containing harissa, umeboshi and kimchi. I know I’m oversimplifying this issue, but I hope that in the very near future, true “Australian” food can be a mix of both our wonderful and unique native ingredients AND the rich food history of all cultures who call Australia home today. 

This Coconut Bread originally had Sri Lankan origins. This loaf is a nice alternate for the classic banana bread. But it’s arguably even easier to whip up because you don’t need to wait for your bananas to be at the perfect level of ripeness. All the ingredients are things you likely have in your kitchen right now! It’s not *quite* a one-bowl recipe (maybe a bowl + a jug) but it comes together easily with minimal washing up.

Bill Granger Coconut Bread

It makes a truly great weekend breakfast. Or, you can make it ahead of time! It lasts well in a container for several days and it can also be frozen in slices. I love it simply toasted with lots of butter, but you could get extra fancy as I have here. I whipped some creamy ricotta with maple syrup and vanilla to a smooth consistency. It is delicious slathered it onto the toasted coconut bread. I also loved it topped with mango and berries for ~summer vibes~ but use whatever fruit you love! Fresh peaches, sliced banana, blueberries or caramelised pineapple would also be delish.

I made a few small tweaks to the original recipe, using shredded coconut rather than desiccated. The texture is just wonderful. I also added some coconut extract to really pump up the flavour and reduced the amount of cinnamon. You could also try substituting coconut milk for the regular milk. If I test this, I’ll update the recipe below!

Bill Granger Coconut Bread

I tested this Coconut Bread twice while preparing this blog post. The first time I made it exactly as I had on the original blog post. The texture was a bit more dense, like a pound cake. I made it a second time, increasing the baking powder and adding a little self-raising flour. It rose up high and beautiful with a lighter, more crumbly texture. I preferred the second loaf, whereas my sister loved the first one. I’ll leave instructions in the notes underneath this recipe so you can tailor it to your own personal preference!

If you make this Coconut Bread recipe, please let me know here in the comments or over on Instagram. Please take a pic and tag me @spicyicecream. I absolutely love to see your photos of the recipes you’ve made!

Related Post: Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lemon and Thyme Glaze

Bill Granger Coconut Bread

Bill Granger’s Coconut Bread

This Coconut Bread comes from Bill Granger's famous cafes. It's a great alternate for classic banana bread – but even easier because you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right now!

Course Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword Australian, Bread & Yeast, Breakfast, Brunch
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 300 ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 300 g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) self raising flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 75 g (2/3 cup) shredded coconut
  • 75 g melted butter

To serve

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 mango, cut into chunks
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Extra shredded coconut
  • Extra maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Grease the sides and line the base of a 21x10cm loaf tin. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and coconut extract in a small bowl or jug.
  3. Sift together the plain and self-raising flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the shredded coconut. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  4. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.
  5. To serve, place the ricotta, maple and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until totally smooth. Toast slices of the coconut bread and top with whipped ricotta, mango, raspberries and shredded coconut. Top with maple syrup and serve. This coconut bread is also delicious toasted with salted butter and a dusting of icing sugar.

Recipe Notes

To make a more dense hearty loaf, use 2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour instead of substituting the self raising flour and 2 tablespoons baking powder.

Eggplant Pasta (Pasta alla Norma)

Eggplant Pasta

Today I’m sharing one of my favourite ever pasta recipes. You know that feeling, when you know you’re eating your favourite food for dinner, and you look forward to it all day? That’s how I feel about this recipe. We call it Eggplant Pasta, but its also widely known as Pasta alla Norma. From the small amount of research I did, I know it has Sicilian origins, but it seems like there are many different ways to make this classic vegetarian pasta dish.

I’m really trying to get better at sharing my very favourite recipes. The ones that don’t seem all that special or glamorous, but make the best quick, simple dinners. Perfect for weeknights and busy days. This is one of those. I’ve made this dish so many times that the process and ingredient quantities are now completely intuitive. I can do this on autopilot when I’m wiped after a full day shoot. I had to force myself to write it down this time so I could share it with you here! 

Eggplant Pasta

Eggplant is by far one of my favourite vegetables. I love that it beautifully takes on the flavours of whatever accompanies it. I pretty much love it in all ways, forms, shapes and sizes. It’s an ingredient used so many ways by so many different cultures, from Japanese miso eggplant (Nasu Dengaku) to Filipino eggplant omelette (tortang talong) to smokey baba ganoush and moussaka. I love it all. But my sister is the total opposite, disliking eggplant in all forms except this recipe. That must say something – that even an eggplant hater loves this dish!

How to make Eggplant Pasta

This dish is easy, forgiving and hard to mess up! It’s perfect for beginner cooks or if you just want to try something new, but simple on a weeknight. Also, if you make it while eggplants are in season and more affordable, it’s also a really economical dinner option and makes great leftovers too!

Different recipes that you find online or in cookbooks will have slightly different methods for cutting and cooking the eggplant. Some cooks like to roast or fry the eggplant in slices, but I like it cubed and fried in olive oil, until it just starts to colour.

Then onion, fresh oregano and (lots of) garlic are added. Fresh chilli or red pepper flakes would be good too if you like some heat. Sometimes, I add fresh cherry tomatoes. I also love adding a large spoonful of tomato paste to bolster the flavour and help to thicken the sauce.

Eggplant Pasta

The secret ingredient is actually vinegar. I don’t often have red wine on hand for cooking, but often substitue balsamic or red wine vinegar. It adds a great depth of flavour and helps to balance the acidity. I like to keep a stash of vinegars on hand of varying qualities and price points. I use a cheaper supermarket brand of balsamic for cooking and a better quality one that I love the taste of for dressing salads and cooked vegetables. 

You can, of course, use any shape and size pasta that you like with this one. I have used a rigatoni shape here because the sauce clings to it beautifully. Any kind of penne, spaghetti, spiral or casarecce will work well, so just go with your heart on this one.

Fresh herbs add so much to this Eggplant Pasta. Tomato, eggplant and basil are the best of friends in recipes. But in the past (pre herb garden days) I’ve used parsley or mint if I don’t have any basil.

Traditional recipes often call for ricotta salata, which is a dried, salted ricotta cheese that can be grated overtop. It is really not easy to find here in Sydney, so we can improvise. Sometimes I like to tear apart baby bocconcini and stir them into the pasta and sauce. The heat starts to melt them, and it makes the sauce a little creamy. You could also stir in some creamy ricotta or feta at the last minute. If nothing else, a generous dusting of grated parmesan is also very delicious. Or skip the cheese entirely to keep it dairy free and vegan friendly!

Another thing I love about this recipe is that it refrigerates, freezes and reheats really well. I’ve been growing eggplant in the garden the last two summers, so this dish is even more special when using home-grown. Last year, I made a triple batch of this sauce to use up my beautiful homegrown eggplants and kept it in the freezer for another day. On a busy day, you can just heat the sauce in a saucepan over low heat, or even in the microwave. Then just cook up your pasta of choice and voila, dinner in 10 minutes flat. Also, PS – did you know eggplant flowers are a beautiful shade of lilac purple? *heart eyes*

Eggplant Pasta

I hope that this Eggplant Pasta recipe becomes part of your repertoire. Maybe it will even turn into one of your favourites like it is for me! As quick and easy as it is for a weeknight, you could also serve it for a casual dinner with friends. I would serve this in a large dish in the centre of the table – banquet style – scattered with more fresh basil. Along with some lovely crusty bread and a nice glass of wine, you’ve got yourself a good time! 

If you make this Eggplant Pasta recipe, please let me know here in the comments or over on Instagram. Please take a pic and tag me @spicyicecream. I absolutely love to see your photos of the recipes you’ve made!

Related Post: Easy Salami Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes & Burrata

Eggplant Pasta

Eggplant Pasta (Pasta alla Norma)

Eggplant Pasta, or Pasta alla Norma as it's sometimes known is a delicious, quick and simple dinner, perfect for weeknights. It's a vegetarian meal that can be easily adapted to be gluten free or vegan and great for beginner cooks!

Course Dinner, Main Course, Pasta
Keyword Pasta, Simple Dinners, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 x 400g can died tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste, optional
  • 500 g rigatoni or pasta of your choice
  • Large handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Fresh parmesan, grated, to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frypan or saucepan on medium heat until hot. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes or until they start to colour. Add the chopped onion, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and balsamic or red wine vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst and release their juice.
  2. Turn the heat down and add the can of tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and stir to combinme. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Test for seasoning and add a little sugar or more vinegar if you like.
  3. In the meantime, cook your pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the fresh basil. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce, stirring to coat. Add some or all of the reserved cooking water if the sauce consistency looks too thick.
  5. Serve with more fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Best Recipes of 2021

Spicyicecream Best Recipes 2021

We are well into the twilight zone that is the week between Christmas and New Years. I’m not sure what day it is, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in wanting to leave this year far behind! 2021 included 20 client photoshoots and one interstate trip for my birthday, immediately followed by 108 days in lockdown. I’ve said it before but my gratitude journal got me through it, and whether I wrote down 3 things or 3 pages, a little bit of gratitude every day helped to improve my mood and put things into perspective. I kept the habit going after lockdown and now I’m at 189 days of consistent journalling every morning. My new goal is to make it to 365 days!

I am also proud that I published 20 blog posts, including some of my long-time favourite simple dinners. Over 2020/21, I fell in love with gardening and preserving. I really loved making recipes that used my home grown vegetables, fruit and herbs from my little backyard garden.

I also just want to say again, THANK YOU for stopping in here, reading my latest posts, trying out my recipes and saying hi on Instagram. I am truly so grateful. In 2022, this little food blog will turn 15. I honestly can’t believe that and I can honestly say that I still love coming here and sharing new recipes. It is my biggest goal to post more consistently here in this coming year! So on that note, here are my favourite recipes posted in 2021. If you have tried any of these, leave me a comment below!

Best of 2021 Salami Pasta Cherry Tomatoes

1. Easy Salami Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Burrata

This is one of our absolute favourite quick and easy dinner recipes that we make all the time. I can’t believe it took me this long to share it! The “sauce” comes together in less time than it takes to cook your pasta. I have also loved making this recipe with home grown cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden. We love to serve it with burrata or torn bocconcini and lots of fresh herbs and cracked pepper.

Best of 2021 Apple Miso Crumble

2. Apple Miso Crumble with No Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Just before lockdown, my sister Beth and I had a spontaneous apple picking adventure, which was so much fun. We drove to Bilpin, which is about 40 minutes away and picked a few kilos apples, which I then obviously had to bake with. Apple Crumble is such a classic winter comfort dessert, but the addition of miso is absolutely delicious. The homemade (no churn) ice cream is also the perfect accompaniment.

Best of 2021 Creamy Calamansi Bars

3. Creamy Calamansi Bars

Another thing I am growing in the garden this year is Calamansi – a citrus fruit used in a lot of south-east Asian cuisine. They are so delicious – a little sweet, and it has this incredible floral citrus scent that I wish I could wear as a perfume. I used the zest and juice to make these Creamy Calamansi Bars that everyone just loved. They have a shortbread base and a creamy filling that was easy to make but ended up being one of my favourite recipes of the whole year.

Best of 2021 Fruit Mince Wreath

4. Fruit Mince Wreath

I recently turned my famous Fruit Mince into this festive Fruit Mince Wreath! Ohh this was a good one. It’s great to share – just cut into generous slices and serve with custard. It looks so impressive and makes such a lovely afternoon tea or dessert. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to serving this for a decadent Christmas Day breakfast either! 

Best of 2021 Chunky Chicken Risoni Soup

5. One Pot Chunky Chicken Risoni Soup

This one pot wonder is another one of our favourites – actually a recipe that I’ve been making for over 10 years! This recipe is halfway between a minestrone soup and a risotto. It is chunky, hearty and filling but still feels fresh with lots of vegetables that bring colour and texture. It is somehow perfect any time of year.

Best of 2021 Nectarine Chilli Chutney

6. Spiced Nectarine Chilli Chutney

I spent an hour researching the difference between chutney and jam while writing this post, and honestly I’m still not sure 😂 We are still enjoying this Spiced Nectarine Chilli Chutney on every single cheese board. I really really love this recipe! It’s perfect with a sharp cheddar and some fancy crackers. I love preserving summer fruits to use all throughout the year. This recipe also used home grown chillies and kaffir lime leaves! 

Best of 2021 Blueberry Loaf Cake

7. Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lemon and Thyme Glaze

This simple loaf cake is adorable and delightful. We really loved having big slices of this Blueberry Loaf Cake with a cup of French Earl Grey tea. It’s the perfect afternoon tea treat! The best part is when you get a little of everything in the one bite – the tender cake, a jammy blueberry and some of that delicious glaze too.

Best of 2021 Mulled Wine Cheesecake

8. Mulled Wine Cherry Cheesecake Bars

And finally, this recent recipe was one of my favourites this Christmas season. We absolutely loved these Cheesecake Bars, which felt festive and elegant. I’m so glad that I finally made it after this recipe sat on my “To Make” list for about 3 years! I loved everything about it, especially the fact that it’s completely No Bake and can be made in advance. Bookmark this one for next Christmas!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year and hoping 2022 is a little easier on us all.