It’s beginning to look a lot like Easter

I had grand dreams of making you some kind of crazy seasonal delight, but at life and time will do, they got away from me.

The good news is, there are plenty of other remarkable people that have created all kinds of ridiculous treats that you can make over this long weekend. So, I’ve assembled some of my favourites for you!

Are you ready for a toothache?

Creme Egg Hot Chocolate by Delicious

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Easter Ice Cream Sandwiches by Tristan Lutze via News.com.au

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Epic Easter Cake by Miss Trixi Drinks Tea via Urbanlist

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Creme Egg Shots by Delish

 

There are also recipes to use up any lingering treats that you just can’t seem to eat fast enough, or just couldn’t help but pick up when they go on sale next week – I won’t judge you, this is a safe place.

Coconut Pretzel and Marshmallow Chocolate Fudge by Spoon Fork Bacon

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Easter Egg Hunt Brownies by Love Swah

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If you’re planning on getting out and about in Perth this weekend, We Love Perth and Broadsheet have you covered with what’s open, while Urbanlist has tracked down all of Perth’s tastiest Easter themed treats!

Let me know what exciting things you’ve got in the works this weekend!

Ready for greatness | Baller Brownies

Everybody loves brownies. They’re in every cafe, every bake sale, every morning tea. A good, fudgy, chewy brownie is everything that is right in this world.

So how do you make a great thing better? Fill it with all the best, tastiest tidbits you can get your hands on. Today, that’s two kinds of chocolate chips and crunchy nuts. Are you ready for greatness? Because these brownies are.

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Many years ago, I was commissioned to make 100 white chocolate mud cake cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream. Several trials and more than 200 cupcakes later… The smell of white chocolate makes me instantly queasy. Can’t do it. This recipe takes boring old white chocolate and turns it into golden, caramel-ey goodness. Roasting the chocolate low and slow imparts a deep caramel flavour that can be used anywhere you’d use the white stuff. And the smell? Heaven. I can’t get enough.

This recipe is made better by the quality of chocolate you use. Lindt is the best supermarket-available chocolate, and I like to use the Smooth 70% and Touch of Salt, because it’s not overly sweet, it’s not overly bitter, and the salt just lifts everything and makes it better. Buy it when it’s on sale, and you’re onto a winner.

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Baller Brownies

Adapted from Delicious

150g unsalted butter, chopped
250g dark chocolate (I used 200g Lindt 70% Smooth dark, 50g Lindt Salted Dark), chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
250g caster sugar
50g plain flour
100g white chocolate, chopped
50g Lindt Salted Dark
100g pistachios, chopped

Heat the oven to 120*c. Place the white chocolate in a Pyrex roasting dish, then place in the oven. Stir the chocolate every 10 minutes or so until it’s a deep gold in colour and caramelised in flavour. It’s okay if it looks lumpy, it will smooth back out. Set aside to cool and solidify.

Increase the temperature 10 180*c. Line a brownie pan with baking paper and set aside.

Place the chopped dark chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl, then place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.Stir occasionally until melted together, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixture until light and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and combine, then stir in the flour. Crumble in the caramelised white chocolate, pistachios and additional dark chocolate, folding to evenly combine.

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Pour the mixture into the brownie pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until a crust forms. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill and firm.

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I dream of Chicho | Blueberry Ricotta Dream Cake

I don’t like to toot my own horn, but guys, this may be the best thing I’ve ever made. At least, it is according to my guinea pigs work friends who test most of my baking experiments.

Flour and Stone may very well be my favourite cafe/bakery in the country. There’s no sprinkles, no #trendspo, no unicorn coloured anything in their kitchen. Nadine Ingram and her team keep it simple, a little nostalgic. But what it all is, most importantly, is very, very good.

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Nadine’s Lemon Dream cake is insanely popular – a simple sponge-like cake, topped with crunchy meringue and smothered with whipped cream and lemon curd. It’s an OG crowd pleaser, and rightly so.

A little closer to home is the crew from Chicho Gelato. I love them for the same reasons – Chez and Carly buck trends while pushing the boundaries of traditional gelato flavours. Their frequent collaborations with other local chefs produce outstanding results, and I firmly believe them to make the best gelato in Perth.

On a steamy February night, my friends and I joined the crowd lining up to get into Chicho’s William Street gelateria. I’m not a strong decision maker at the best of times, and picking a single flavour from the menu was proving to be an antagonising Sophie’s choice situation. My innie-meenie-minie-mo method of making a decision in a hurry settled on the blueberry and ricotta, and, well, you know what they say about history.

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It was creamy but not so smooth to be textureless. Not too sweet. A hint of lemon? Regardless, it was love at first taste. A standard so high, I may very well be ruined for all gelato forever (yes, that is Careless Whisper you can hear playing in the background).

So, I’ve combined my two great loves into one, and I present to you the Blueberry Ricotta Dream Cake. It’s messy and rustic, crumbly and moreish. I promise you, you’ll want to eat this every single day.

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Blueberry Ricotta Dream Cake

Adapted from Gourmet Traveller

250 gm butter, softened
250 gm caster sugar
2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
225 gm self-raising flour
25 gm cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
50 ml milk

Meringue
180 gm eggwhites (from about 4 eggs)
300 gm caster sugar

Blueberry curd – I used this recipe

Ricotta cream – I used this recipe, with a little added lemon zest.

 

Preheat your oven to 160C. Line two equal-sized cake tins with baking paper, and grease well. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together with sugar, butter, and vanilla for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl down between additions until completely combined.

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl in two batches, folding gently. Add the milk, and fold to incorporate. Divide the batter between the two cake tins and set aside.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the sugar, spoonful by spoonful, and continue whisking until a firm peak is held, and the mixture is glossy. Spread half the meringue over each of the cakes, swirling for decoration.

Place the cakes in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes and the meringue is golden. Due to the meringue layer, you can’t test the cake for doneness, so if in doubt leave in the oven for an extra couple of minutes. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin. Once cool and ready to assemble, spread the ricotta cream then blueberry curd over the bottom cake, then sandwich the ‘prettier’ of the two cakes on top. Dust with icing sugar, then serve.

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Note: The blueberry curd can be made a week in advance, the ricotta cream about three days in advance, if you want to make things easy on yourself.

Pour Some Sugar | Caramel Bundt Cake

February is a weird time of year. It’s the pointy end of summer – you know the season is coming to an end, so you want to enjoy it, but it’s also brutally hot. It’s not the holidays anymore, but there’s Valentine’s Day in the mix there, so it’s kind of seasonally appropriate to celebrate things?

Either way, this cake is exactly what you need. Take it to a picnic, serve it up to your significant other, make it for someone’s birthday, or simply because it’s a goddamn caramel cake and you deserve it. Plus, the pouring of caramel (or any sauce, really) really seems to impress people, so make it and bask in all that glorious praise.

What I like best about this cake is that it’s very very simple to make, but can easily be jazzed up to look much more impressive. Williams-Sonoma stock some beautiful bundt tins that add detail and interest, and I love this tip from Cakes by Cliff to decorate your cake simply by adding edible shimmer powder to glazes. So easy!

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Caramel Bundt Cake

From Delicious

250g unsalted butter, at room temp
250g brown sugar
330g dulce de leche (I use caramel Top n Fill)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs, at room temp
450g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup buttermilk (see note)

165g caster sugar
2/3 cup thin cream

Heat your oven to 170*c. Grease the bundt tin well, making sure you get into any lines or cracks to prevent sticking.

With a stand or hand-held mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until thick and pale. Slowly add the dulce de leche, then the eggs one at a time, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add one-third of the flour mix to the butter mix. Add a third of the buttermilk, and alternate until well combined and there are no lumps.

Pour the batter into the bundt tin, then bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. When done, leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin to cool completely.

While the cake bakes, make the caramel sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water, stir to combine, and then cook gently until the sugar melts and takes on a deep amber colour. This takes between 8-10 minutes, so be careful, and keep an eye on it. Once done, add the cream, a pinch of flake salt (maybe some vanilla or a splash of bourbon, if you’re so inclined), then set aside to cool completely.

Pour the caramel over the cake, and serve with cream. Or ice cream. Custard? Anyway, it’s all good.

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Note: Buttermilk can be bought from the milk section of your supermarket. If you can’t be bothered buying it (and that’s cool), you can make it by adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and then leaving it to stand and curdle for 5 minutes. Easy!

Where I’m at | February 2017

And just like that, it’s February.

We’re on the other side of that crazy holiday season, and settling into the year. The new year is like new shoes, finding the places where it pinches or rubs, and you kind of stretch around to make it as comfortable as you can.

Let’s get into the things I’m thinking about this month, yeah?

The Perth Writers Festival kicks off at the end of the month, and I was lucky enough to interview Clementine Ford for Broadsheet Perth. You can read it here. I’ve got tickets to at least five events, and I can. not. wait.

I want to eat at The Hummus Club, every day, always. It’s crazy good.

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I finally caved and bought a Swell bottle on one of my too-frequent visits to La Luna, and now I’m just mad that I resisted for so long. It keeps water cold all day long, and just looks really cool.

We all know New Year’s resolutions aren’t really a thing that makes it past the 15th January. Andjelka wrote a beautiful post about setting a word to live by for the year. I think that works a hell of a lot better. Mine is care.  Self-care is taking a higher priority this year. I promise to care for those I love. And given the clusterfuck that is the current political climate, I’m going to care enough to stand up and fight for what’s right in this world.

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I swore never again… But I’m a little bit in love with cupcakes. I’m obsessed with The Scran line, who does things I can only dream of. I also can’t stop thinking about/craving Sugar and Nice‘s chocolate cupcakes. I’ll take a dozen, pleaseandthankyou.

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Have you ever wanted to know how to make those perfectly glossy mirror glazes you see on fancy Zumbo cakes? I did. So I went to Sydney to learn from the best at the Australian Patisserie Academy. They run short courses on macarons, beginner basics, pastry… Just about everything. I took the intermediate modern tarts and eclairs class, and it was 100 percent worth it. I’d go back in a second. The APH will also have an online store up and running by the end of the month, for all your isomalt and other weird ingredient needs.

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Speaking of sweets, Yotam Ottolenghi’s New York Times baking column is going to be a fast favourite, I can tell.

I love this list of 26 things every person should do for themselves at least once a year. I’m working through the stack of unread books, purging what is unnecessary in my home and plotting that new city exploration.

Speaking of new-city exploration, I’m looking forward to doing that very thing in Sri Lanka! My gorgeous friend Rachi runs The Paradise Guide, and I couldn’t resist a week of yoga, paddle boarding and, well, lying about in the sunshine.

I can’t get enough yoga.  I love vinyasa classes at COMO Shambala Urban Escape with Steph Johnson, who is an amazing teacher. Whether you’ve been practising for years, or you’ve never set foot on the mat before – she’s got you. I ‘m also crazy for Yoga with Adriene, which is my daily practice at home. Adriene’s 31 day Yoga Revolution was a beautiful way to kick off January, building strength and flexibility (until I overestimated my Crow Pose ability and fell on my face – literally).

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Please tell me what you’re up to – what you’re reading, listening to, excited for!

So This is Christmas | 2016 Gift Guide

I say this every year, but this is always my favourite post to write. Christmas is coming faster and faster, so while I know you want to pretend you’ve got time, it’s probably a better idea to start writing your list now!

The importance of supporting small or local businesses, especially at this time fo year, can not be overstated. Get out there and show love to the people who put their heart and souls into their work.

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This year I’ve got a bigger list of markets than ever before, there’s an online retailer section for those last-minute or time-poor shoppers and a list of my favourite cookbooks which will actually get used, promise (put down the Manu Feildel, please).

You can check out 2014 and 2015 gift guides here. Links are in bold, so click away!

 

Sue Lewis

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Not only can you pick up tons of delicious stocking stuffers for those last minute invites to Christmas lunch, but Sue also runs workshops for those wanting to learn a little more about the magic that is chocolate.

Hippocampus

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These guys make killer spirits out of a warehouse in West Perth. A bottle of their negroni makes a great backup gift, their gin is delicious and you can drop in and have a chat to the guys on a Wednesday evening to see how it all goes down.

K Gets Organised

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I talk about my love for Kelsie’s work often, but guys, she does subscription boxes now! Delicious deliveries of paper goods every month are just what the doctor ordered.

Fox and Rabbit

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Rebecca is one of Perth’s most in-demand florists and floral designers, and for good reason – her work is spectacular. Her workshops (including wreath making!) sell out quickly, so get in fast.

Comic Zone

Comics are no longer the exclusive domain of little boys. With exceptional storytelling, diverse characters, and beautiful art, there is most definitely something for everyone. The gentlemen at Comiczone will happily make suggestions if you need guidance or order things in for you, all while providing some of Perth’s best customer service (trust me, I’m in there most weeks!). If you’re looking for ideas, try here or here.

Grace and Scarper 

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Home to beautiful locally made jewelry, Grace + Scarper also have an option to personalise their pieces with names, dates or coordinates that have a special meaning to you – gentlemen, this is your new go-to.

Yoke

This sweet little store in Inglewood is full of sweet bits and pieces for office Secret Santa, male grooming products for your hipster cousin’s excellent beard or your cool aunt who’s into Frida Kahlo.

Mariposa

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Your luxe-loving sister-in-law will adore just about anything from Mariposa. Fragrances, beauty, and candles everywhere. 

Stackwood

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Stackwood is Perth’s best place to find beautiful plants, planters, and associated goods. They’re also running a whole bunch of workshops, so keep an eye out!

Perth International Arts Festival

Got a hard-to-buy-for relative? Don’t we all? Send them along to one of the incredible events happening in February as part of PIAF.

 

Markets

 

Online Stores

If you’re time poor, or just need somewhere to start looking, these are great

  • Jumbled Online: For the person in your life who loves colour, cactus or Iris Apfel.
  • Melt Bake Shop: Your friend who dreams of being the next Katherine Sabbath.
  • A Cup of Chic: Beautiful, minimalist gifts for your stylish friends and their kids.
  • Notemaker: The most beautiful collection of journals, pens and cards.
  • Stay at Home Club: For your inner introvert.

 

Books

Boffins is hands down my most-loved book store, and they’re happy to help in any way they can. Plus, the smell of books there is intoxicating. Yes, I’m weird. No, I’m not sorry.

 

If you have any other recommendations for stores or markets, please let me know! What have you asked Santa for this year?

Turning 30 | What I Learned

How is it the end of September already? What the hell happened to the last nine months?

It’s been a tough one this year. Not just for me, it’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster for just about everyone. Is it a Saturn returns thing? Maybe. It feels like one of those things that is a little bit bigger than me. All you can do it just go with it.

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Esquire publishes a series called What I Learned, and it’s been one of my favourite things since, well, I was an age where I wouldn’t get in trouble for reading Esquire. Then the videos came –  Karlie did one, as did Rosianna, and well, I love a bandwagon. Let’s get on board!

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  1. Fierce kindness is the only way.
  2. “Why the fuck not me?” should be your motto – Mindy Kaling
  3. Jam, then cream on scones. Otherwise, you’re a goddamn heathen.
  4. You’re never too old for dinosaurs. Or Lego. Or light-up sneakers. You can fight me on this.
  5. How good are broken hearts? I mean obviously, at the time, they’re the worst fucking thing in the world. But having a broken heart meant there was something to break in the first place, and I figure that having had love can only be a good thing, right?
  6. But when that broken heart has you all topsy turvy, Frida knows best.
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  7. Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterward. – Tina Fey
  8. Unless you want to say no, in which case, no is a full sentence. No buts, not explanations, just no.
  9. Food that can be eaten with your hands is the best food. Fried chicken, pizza, chicken nuggets, cake, I’m lookin’ at you.
  10. Learn to fight like a girl. (Also, sign up to Lenny as it is excellent, inspiring reading).
  11. There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If it makes you happy, savour it.
  12. You are never too old for Disney movies and glitter. Punch anyone who tells you otherwise in the face. You don’t need that bullshit.
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  13. Ask yourself before you get into any argument “Is this the hill you want to die on?”
  14. Breakfast foods at dinner. Always a good choice.
  15. Look after yourself first. Go have the awful, uncomfortable tests you’ve been putting off because you just don’t want to. It may save your life. It’s saving mine.

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    Aged 12. As you can tell, by the butterfly clips.

  16. Take the damn selfie. You look amazing.
  17. Never feel bad if the only thing you accomplished in a day was getting out of bed.
  18. Don’t be an asshole. That’s the only thing you have to do in this world. Not be an asshole.
  19. Fight for things that matter. Rights, love, family. Probably not parking spaces.
  20. A hot shower, clean sheets, and a good night’s sleep is always the answer.
  21. If #18 fails, a beer (or wine, or five.) in the sunshine.

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    Aged 16-ish?

  22. Everyone should visit their local observatory, and feel very very small. Go here or here. I promise you will LOVE it.
  23. My great-grandmother always told my mother that you should kiss your person goodbye before you leave the house – even if you’re angry, late, or sleeping – no matter what. You never know what will happen, so always always kiss your people goodbye.
  24. Bacon. Yes.
  25. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself.

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    Aged 22

  26. The best road trips begin with a bacon and egg McMuffin, pringles, and singing Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty at the top of your lungs. Optional: Life is a Highway
  27. The best family is the one you build for yourself.
  28. Leslie Knope always has the answers. Also, please watch Parks and Rec.
  29. 30-second dance party. Instant mood booster. Go on, shake it off.
  30. Find your people. Your girl gang. Your squad. Yout tribe. Your coven. Your pack. Love them hard, because they will always have you.

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This morning. At my desk. Heavily filtered by Snapchat. Because I can. 

 

You guys are the best. Thank you for sticking with me.