Monthly Archives: February 2016

Cauliflower & ricotta fritters

Good old fashioned cauliflower started to make a bit of a come back in 2015, with kale slowly fading away.  Cauliflower started appearing on big name chefs restaurant menus, roasted whole, served in salads, purees.  Neil Perry gave it a blessing with this nice looking recipe in Good Food. Me, I decided it would work well in a fritter, hearty for the vegacquarian Marito – he loved them. Do try and buy fresh ricotta when you can, rather than the pre-packaged supermarket stuff – it makes such a difference to any recipe.


750g cauliflower florets
250g ricotta, well drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper for seasoning
oil for frying

Making them
1. Blanch the cauliflower in boiling water until tender. Drain and allow to cool, then process in a food processor until broken down but not completely smooth (you could also just mash with a fork or potato masher).
2. Place cauliflower in a bowl with ricotta, season well with salt and pepper and combine with a wooden spoon. Add the egg, herbs and parmesan and combine. Finally add the breadcrumbs and flour and combine.
3. Shape into patties. I used a large ice cream scoop to divide the mixture first before shaping so that the patties are consistent in size, and got about 18 patties. Refrigerate the patties for an hour or so.
4. Heat the oil in a fry pan, and fry the patties on medium heat for a few minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Kate’s Bung In Chocolate Cake

Do you remember Kate Bracks from Masterchef? She was the shy-ish mother from Orange who could whip up some mean desserts, and went on to win the series back in 2011.  The other day I looked up what she was up to – she had a business, but ceased trading in October last year to have a break and focus on other things.  Whatever she does, I’m very glad she passed on this recipe, for her grandmother’s chocolate cake – so named because you put all the ingredients in and “bung” it in the oven.  It is marvellously simple, with the added bonus of being made up of pantry staples, and results in a crumbly and tasty chocolate cake that the children love.  Do use good quality Dutch processed cocoa.


300g self raising flour
330g caster sugar
35g cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
330ml milk
150g butter, melted

200g icing sugar
2tbsp cocoa powder
30g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Making it
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C fan forced. Grease a 23cm square tin and line the base with baking paper

2. Place dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre, add the wet ingredients and whisk until mixture is smooth.

3. Pour into tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. For the icing, sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add butter and vanilla, and enough milk to get it to a paste consistency. Stir vigorously until smooth, then spread over cake.

Bannisters Pavilion, Mollymook

After several days of backbreaking work trying to get our new home into a habitable state before moving in, in early January we had a few days to relax and recover down at Mollymook.  It is a pleasant three hour or so drive from Sydney, and you can opt for a scenic coastal route or drive through some nice green towns with cosy looking coffee shops, bakeries and antiques.

Opening in December 2015, Bannisters Pavilion is the new little sister of Bannisters by the Sea.  The interiors are stylishly coastal and unfussy.

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The look continues in the bedrooms which are a pleasant size. We have two interconnecting rooms – ideal for a family – one with a bath, one without. I do wonder though how the blue carpet will fare after a few years of sand!

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The hotel staff are delightful, and arm me with necessary reading for the stay as well as some good local guides.

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On the roof is a small pool and plenty of deckchairs to relax.  There you’ll also find the Pavilion’s great casual dining space, The Rooftop, which is set to be a hit with locals and visitors alike.  It is a great airy space with a menu that will easily ensure return visits.

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Enticed by my recent Moscow Mule experience at J&M, I start with a refreshing North Molly Mule.

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We nibble on some eggplant chips, which is one of a handful of daily specials.

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Followed by a lovely Summery panzanella salad

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The soft shell crab tacos were delicious and had a bit of zing

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The calamari was also nicely done.

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A classic bistro style steak with chips was well executed.

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Breakfast is included in your room stay; there’s a selection of fruit, cereals, pastry and a couple of hot dishes.

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In between the breakfast area and grill were these fabulous oversized swinging chairs, which were a hit with young and old alike.  I’d love these for my verandah!

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The next night we feel like some local fish and chips, and everyone tells us we have to go to The Fish Shop at Burrill lake, which is a 10 or so minute drive.  There’s a good selection of fish on offer, and both the battered and the crumbed are very tasty, it is obvious how fresh the fish is.

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Of course on most people’s list when they head down to Mollymook is a meal at Rick Stein’s restaurant.  You’ll find it at Bannisters by the Sea a ten minute walk or very short drive away.

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There is, as you’d expect, plenty of fresh seafood on offer.  The pricing is punchy overall for the experience but the ingredient quality is high. Children are catered for and that evening there are plenty of  young families.

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The local oysters are excellent

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So too are the mussels, with a fragrant broth, delicious

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The prawns saganaki though are a disappointment and a little bland

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We also try the lobster salad topped with a little foie gras. The lobster is succulent but the salad overall is not a wow.

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But we both just love the fish pie, a tasty textured crumb covering the creamy veloute with a nice variety of seafood.  I tracked down the recipe in a UK newspaper and I’ll definitely be making this at home. Stay tuned.

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Milk Haus and St Isadore were also highly recommended restaurants, but unfortunately they were not open the days we were there.

Do note though that the Pavilion does not have beach or ocean views, it is on a residential street.  But don’t let that stop you – the beach is a very short stroll away.

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Bannisters Pavilion, Tallwood Avenue Mollymoook

Rick Stein at Bannisters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In My Kitchen, February 2016

As I mentioned in my last IMK post, we packed up and moved house. It was a more herculean task than I had thought sorting through thirteen years of stuff. Keep, charity, throw, was the sorting path I took. The keep pile resulted in waves of nostalgia. I found the elfin sized frilly pink swimming costume I wore in Italy the summer after I turned two. Then there was the treasured china tea set my Godmother gave me when I was five. In a drawer were the boys outfits when we were finally allowed to bring them home from hospital, so small they look like dolls clothes. Some of their favourite books from when they were toddlers emerged (I can still recite Owl Babies verbatim) and many of their treasured toys. Hours and hours later, it was done.

So here we are in our “new” home. It is quite a change going from a very sleek modern home to something that is over 120 years old. The paint is peeling, the floors are uneven, some of the windows don’t open, but we love it. One large expanse of lawn has already seen several soccer matches and some attempts at cricket; during the packing process I also found bocce balls I forgot we had which will also no doubt be used. The rest of the garden is a complete jungle, which the Marito and I are gradually working through and attempting to tame. It has been rather extraordinary what we have found in the garden – one day it was a buried cast iron bath – it took three men to lift it. Another day there was a very large toy plane, unfortunately too degenerated to be salvaged. There was a Roman style concrete pillar, an old kettle, a plaster foot. Who knows what else is lurking there.

But onto the kitchen. When we bought this place I said to the Marito there was no way we could live there. The old bathrooms were fine after a thorough scrub, but the kitchen, some sixty years old or more, was not something I could function in. Resourceful man that he is, he sourced an almost new kitchen that we have had installed as best we could in the currently small space. As a result my kitchen is a mishmash of old and new and of almost every imaginable kitchen material – concrete, tiles, wood, laminate, wallpaper. But it will do just fine until we can properly renovate some day.

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In my kitchen is this very old, but very solid, shelf with copper backing. It is coming in handy with the current limited storage space.

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In my kitchen are these gorgeous hydrangeas from the garden, aren’t they pretty?

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My starter, La Figlia, survived the move and last week I made my first loaves of bread in our new abode.

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In my kitchen are these beautiful home grown tomatoes and cucumbers – though not grown in my home, we were too late to plant anything, maybe next year.

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And some green beans. You’re unlikely to find this variety in your local supermarket, but you’ll find them everywhere in Italian gardens around Sydney. Some grocers stock them and call them “continental beans”. So flavoursome.

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A local catering business was closing after almost forty years as the couple are retiring, and they were selling all their kitchenware and cookware. I got there late in the day so a lot was gone, but I picked up three pizza trays, a couple of bowls, and a large serving platter for the princely sum of $6 for the lot!

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Adjacent to the kitchen is this old bell system, it was to alert the servants which this house had many many decades ago.

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These little floral buttons are scattered around the house which would ring so that the servants would know where they were needed.  I love the bits of history we are discovering here.

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What’s happening in your kitchen?

Thanks to Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef who’s taken over from Celia to host the IMK series.