26 in 26 : Make a fruit pie

Apple pie

Not the greatest photo, nevertheless it serves as proof that I did in fact bake a fruit pie.
Our kitchen was a madhouse on Saturday with secret birthday cakes being baked and the oven in demand by three of us cooking for a potluck dinner.

Despite the panicky stage fright that overwhelms me when cooking for other people the apple pie was delicious. Definitely a pie I’ll bake again. In hindsight it’s a super simple recipe, the most frustrating part was trying to get my frozen sheets of pastry unstuck from each other. WHY IS IT ALWAYS SO HARD!?

I used Grandma Ople’s recipe with a few modifications:

  • 2 Tbsp flour & 1 Tbsp cornflour instead of 3 Tbsp flour
  • Margarine in place of butter to keep it dairy free
  • I made the syrup in two batches after it was suggested that the syrup is thick and wouldn’t soak through the lattice very well and that it crystalises quickly:
    • I made half the syrup recipe and mixed it with the apples before loading them into the pie base
    • I then created the lattice top before making the rest of the syrup and pouring it over
  • I cooked the pie at 180C for the full hour and covered it with tin foil about way through the cooking time to stop it from browning any further

Awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love #2 – Recipes

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Everyone loves food. Delicious home cooked food is even better. Delicious home cooked food that mixes in all the best ingredients – best ever!

A pretty parcel of salted caramel cookies tied with a bow. Chocolate mixed with berries and chilli set into the shape of unicorns. Pint sized rainbow cakes in mason jars (if you do it right they will keep unopened for AGES so you can make them well in advance). Mini pulled pork or bacon and egg pies. Olive and rosemary bread. Jars of bacon infused whisky. The possibilities are endless and interesting.


You could go one better for your people that love to cook.

Instead of making them something how about giving them the recipe and ingredients. Hand craft a fancy recipe card from card stock, doilies, and fat felt pens – you could even laminate it so the butter and flour wipes right off.
If it’s cookies or cake you could layer the dry ingredients in a jar. All they need to do is tip it into a bowl and add eggs and butter.

If you’re super amazing (and have lots of time) think about making a collection of your favourite recipes.

If you’re like me you’ve got recipes bookmarked all over the internet, post its in your cookbooks to mark pages, and print outs that people have emailed you. Type them up, scan them, or work on writing them out over the course of a year. Print them in a book. Stick them on themed recipe cards and present in a wooden box. Hand out card stock to everyone and get them to write up their favourites.

If you go the recipe card in a box option make sure you include a few blanks for them to fill in later. Note the size of them down for yourself and you’ve got xmas and birthdays sorted forever!



We scored three artichokes for $1.50 in the sale bin at the supermarket yesterday which is a saving of $4.50 PER ARTICHOKE apparently.

I love artichokes but I’d never actually cooked and eaten them whole like this before, usually I’d have artichoke hearts with an antipasto platter or on a pizza. Brend reached back into his mind grapes to remember how they ate artichokes in Spain. People would turn up to parties with bags full of them and they’d steam them and eat them with nothing else!

We steamed ours for about 20 minutes until they went dark green, then dipped the edible parts of the leaves and the hearts in a butter, garlic, lemon thyme, and basil sauce. So good.

Make sure you get rid of all the fluffy stuff in the middle (the choke) before you eat the heart, it gets caught in your throat big time. No fun.



Green Lamingtons

Did you know that making lamingtons is super easy if you use store bought sponge?

I’d only made these lamingtons once before, and they were the classic kiwi raspberry flavour. This time I decided to treat my friends to some lime lamingtons for our election gathering. Lime is green and most of us are Green voters. Geddit?

What you need:
1 store bought sponge cake
1 packet of jelly
Dessicated coconut

  • Make jelly up with 1 and 1/4 cups of boiling water (instead of the 2 cups the pack asks for). Let it cool in the fridge till it just starts to set.
  • Trim the dark edges off your sponge and cut it into about 12 pieces.
  • Dip all sides of the sponge cake in cold jelly mix and then roll each piece in coconut.
  • Repeat for all of your pieces. Cut a slit in each lamington and add cream if you like it like that.
Take the dark edges off the sponge
Lime Jelly
Jelly and coconut
Put the sponge in the jelly
Green Lamingtons
Green Lamingtons

How easy is that!

Laab Actually

Laab and sticky rice

I fucking love laab. I actually came up with a back up career idea the other day in which I open I restaurant that makes nothing but laab. I would call it Laab Actually. Clearly I’m a genius.

Laab lends itself to puns quite nicely. We discovered this while in Asia and painfully tested it at every opportunity. We’d gorge ourselves on the delicious meaty salad and then groan that we were going into laab-er.

Laab is pretty easy to make. It’s a traditional Laotian meat salad. It’s meant to be served at room temperature, I prefer it slightly warmed though. It’s really as simple as throwing meat in a pan and cooking it. We’ve even made it slightly different every time, depending on what ingredients were at the market and what kind of meat we felt like eating.


or Larp or Larb or Laap

Ingredients for 3 servings

500g minced meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, whatever) or 1 filleted fish
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 shallot – sliced
5 garlic cloves
Fresh or dried chilli depending on how hot you like your food. Traditionally laab is very hot.
100g lemongrass – thinly sliced. We use the rind of a lemon instead.

For serving
1 shallot – sliced
2 spring onions – sliced
1/2 cup of chopped mint or basil or coriander (best in that order, or in a combo)
Lettuce or cabbage leaves
Other salad vegetables like beans, tomatoes, and onion
2 Tbsp roasted rice powder

To make

  • Fry the garlic and shallot in a splash of oil. Add the mince and brown.
  • Add the lemon juice, fish sauce (more if you like it saltier), sugar, chilli, and lemon. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Take it off the heat and add fresh shallot, spring onion, fresh herbs, and rice powder*.
  • Serve with sticky rice** and cabbage or lettuce leaves.
garlic and mince

Extra tips:
– If you’re using fish then marinade it first in the lemon juice with 1/2 tsp salt before squeezing and placing in the wok.
– If you like laab cold you can cook the meat first and leave it to cool. Add the rest of the ingredients once the meat has come to room temperature.
– Use more herbs if you like. The best laabs I had in Laos were full of mint.
– Feel free to not eat it with a salad. We stick to meat + herbs + lettuce + rice. In SE Asia it was usually served with cabbage cups but cabbage makes my stomach explode.

spronions and cilantro

*Rice powder: Dry roast 2 Tbsp of rice in a pan then whizz in a food processor or grind in a mortar. It gives the recipe a crunch and a nutty flavour.
**Sticky rice: You should be able to find this in a good supermarket or at least your local Asian market. The easiest way to prepare it is to place a cup of rice in a bowl and just cover it with water for 10-15 minutes. Cover it with a plate and microwave for 1.5 minutes at a time until done.

Roasted rice

Pho Ga

Brendan was determined long before arriving in Vietnam that he would eat pho for breakfast everyday while there. Once we finally arrived it was neither hard to convince him to stick to his plan or hard to find tasty pho wherever we happened to be.

Brend ended up loving pho so much he bought a shirt that says so.

I however am not a big fan. It’s fine, it’s just not something I seek to eat. Plus almost every recipe I’ve found for pho requires you to make stock from scratch with bones full of marrow. As if.

Thankfully I stumbled across a much quicker pho ga (chicken pho) recipe that just uses store bought stock and shredded chicken meat. It’s less traditional but brend still liked it and this is one pho I could eat often!

Pho Ga for Two

2 star anise
2 gloves of garlic
2cm ginger
600ml chicken stock (the better the quality the better it’ll taste)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
small onion (finely sliced)
1/4 tsp corriander seeds
A few cloves
1/3 cup water
pinch of salt
200g chicken thighs

Extras for serving
150g cooked rice vermicelli
sliced spring onion
bean sprouts
finely diced red chilli (chilli flakes are fine too)
Asian basil (regular basil will do if you can’t get Asian basil)
a lime or lemon cut into wedges

  • Lightly fry the star anise, garlic and bruised ginger in a dry pan.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except chicken.
  • Bring it to the boil. Add the chicken and simmer until cooked.
  • Remove chicken and shred. Divide the chicken between two bowls.
  • Cover with broth and add the extras to taste.

Pho is a dish that you really get to experiment with and everyone has it differently.
I like mine with lots of corriander, basil, and a couple of wedges of lime. Be careful when you’re adding chilli, it really gets into the broth and punches you in the face if you add too much.

I’m looking forward to modifying some pho bo (beef) and pho thit lon (pork) recipes using store bought stock instead of the undoubtedly tastier but far more painful way!