Australia Day



Australia Day is a good excuse to make some lamingtons.

Here is a recipe of mine that first appeared in epicure’s Chocolate cook book.

My Lamingtons

My Aunty Pat was a great cook, known for her sponge cakes. When I was a child I gave her a battery-operated sifter which she good naturedly used and claimed that it made her sponges ever lighter!

I have used her sponge recipe here as the base for my lamingtons. Just bake the mix in a lamington tin. You won’t believe how delicious these are! Moist and light as a feather. And no battery-operated sifter required!


1 sponge cake (see recipe below)

½ cup hot water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons dutch cocoa

1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind (optional)

1 – 2 teaspoons orange essence (optional)

2 cups pure icing sugar

2 cups dessicated coconut


Cut cake into small squares using a serrated knife. This is easier if the cake has been slightly chilled.

In a medium bowl, combine hot water, butter and cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add orange rind and flavouring at this point if you want jaffa-flavoured icing. (Traditionalists can ignore this step.)

Beat in icing sugar with a wooden spoon. Add extra hot water if the mixture is too thick for dipping. You want it quite runny, but still of a coating consistency.

Now for the messy bit. Using two forks, dip the pieces of cake in the icing, one at a time, and turn them over to cover completely. Don’t fuss too much about any errant crumbs. Now roll the cake in the coconut and place on a cake rack for the icing to set. It is a good idea to have a tray underneath to catch any drips. Repeat the process with the remaining cake. If your forks get too messy, just replace them with clean ones. Ditto, the coconut.

Store in an airtight container – if there are any left!

Auntie Pat’s Sponge

4 eggs

¾ cup caster sugar

¾ cup corn flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoon SR flour


  1. Separate eggs.
  2. Beat whites until stiff.
  3. Add caster sugar.
  4. Add yolks.
  5. Sift cornflour, SR flour and baking powder
  6. Fold into mixture.
  7. Pour into a greased and lined 22cm square lamington tin.
  8. Bake 20 minutes 200C.

To further celebrate Australia Day, I slow cooked some lamb shoulder, made some soft pitas  and served souvlaki. Here are the recipes below.






slow roasted lamb shoulder with chilli and sage

I tried this dish at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Masterclass. The rich flavour of the lamb is balanced with the bold flavours of chilli, garlic and sage.


1 shoulder of lamb, bone in, about 2kg

salt and pepper to season

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 head garlic, cut in half

1 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves

3 bay leaves

6 good quality anchovy fillets

½ cup red wine vinegar


Preheat oven to 160C fan forced (180C conventional).

Ask your butcher to cut the lamb through the bone, on the underside, at intervals. Trim off most of the surface fat, then season well with salt and pepper. Heat a large frypan, add oil and brown the lamb on all sides for 10 minutes, until well browned.

Place browned meat in a roasting pan and add the remaining ingredients, reserving the grapes to add later.

Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 3 hours, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes or so.

The lamb should be meltingly tender by now. If not, cook further until tender.


serves 4-6.



Pita bread

This recipe belongs to Cath Claringbold. It is now firmly in my recipe folder and I use it to make the best soft pita bread. Just ask my kids.

Makes 12 pita bread




1¼ cups tepid water

1½ teaspoons of dry yeast

1½ teaspoons caster sugar


Mix together in a small bowl and leave in a warm spot until mixture foams, around 20 minutes


460g plain flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup of olive oil


In a large bowl mix the flour and salt and make a well. Add the olive oil and the yeast mix and combine. Work the mix until it comes together and then turn out on to a lightly floured bench and knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes silky and smooth.

Put it back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for around 15 – 20 minutes.


Preheat the Barbeque to a medium heat.


Divide the dough into 12 and roll out into flat thin even disks approximately 16cm in diameter.


Brush the flat bread with some olive oil and place it oil side down on the bars of the BBQ. Gently brush a little oil on top as well.

In a matter of seconds the bread will start to puff and after 20-25 seconds flip them over and cook for 20 seconds more. Do not cook for too long or they will dry out too much and become crisp.

When they are cooked stack them one on top of the other and wrap them tightly in a clean tea towel or even cling wrap to keep them warm and help them sweat a little and stay soft until ready to use.


silverbeet from the garden


My first crop of silver beet was ready to harvest. But, what to cook? I consulted two of my favourite cooks, Stephanie Alexander and Yotam Ottolenghi. The following recipes were so delicious, I will definitely be making these again.


Ottolenghi’s Warm salad of chickpea, silverbeet and carrot with lemony yoghurt

300g silverbeet or Swiss chard, washed

40ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice

1 tsp caraway seeds

400g tin chickpeas

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh mint, torn

1 Tbsp fresh coriander, torn

1 Tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup thick Greek style yoghurt

zest and juice of 1 lemon


Separate chard stalks and leaves. Chop stalks into 1 cm pieces, roll up leaves and chop into 2cm strips. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, add stalks and cook for 2 minutes, add leaves and cook for further 2 minutes. Then drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again, wrap in clean tea towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Chop roughly and set aside.

Heat oil in large heavy based pan. Add carrots and caraway seeds and cook for 5 minutes. Add chard and chickpeas and cook for 6 minutes. Add garlic, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

Mix yoghurt with lemon juice and zest and serve with the salad.


Serves 4.


Stephanie’s crustless silverbeet, pinenut and olive tart


300g silverbeet leaves and stems, washed well, leaves and stems separated

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp pinenuts

4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

12 black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 free range eggs

½ cup Greek yoghurt

20 butter, melted,

2 Tbsp grated parmesan


Preheat oven to 180C.

Bundle silverbeet leaves together and cut into 2cm wide ribbons. Slice really thick stems lengthwise into 1cm wide strips then 1cm pieces.

Drop stems into a pan of simmering water for 2 minutes. Add leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Drain in a colander. Refresh with cold water then squeeze out excess moisture. Roll up in a clean teatowel to extract as much liquid as possible.

Chop roughly and tip into a bowl.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a large frypan over medium heat and sauté pinenuts until golden. Remove and set aside. Add remaining oil to pan and saute spring onions and garlic for 30 seconds. Add silverbeet and mix well, sauté for 1 minute.

Tip mixture into bowl then stir in olives, pinenuts and 2 Tbsp of the breadcrumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

Lightly whisk eggs and yoghurt, then tip into silverbeet mixture.

Grease a 20cm pie dish with melted butter, then coat base and sides with remaining breadcrumbs.

Tip silverbeet mixture in and scatter over parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until firm.

Serve warm or cold.


Serves 6.





Soft and sweet, with texture as light as air, marshmallows are a favourite treat. Making them yourself is easier than you think. The equipment required to make the job easier is a stand mixer with whisk attachment and a candy thermometer (a digital thermometer is my preference). This recipe is adapted from Gary Mehigan’s marshmallow recipe from “Cook with Us”. I was the food stylist on this book and can personally vouch for his marshmallow (I have also tried all the other recipes, if you’re interested!)

Anyway, back to the marshmallow. It is very easy to flavour and colour as you like. We decided on raspberry flavour with swirls of colouring.



100g pure icing sugar

100g cornflour

vegetable oil, for greasing

10 leaves gold strength gelatine

240ml water

450g caster sugar

1 tbsp liquid glucose

2 large egg whites


food colouring




  1. Sift icing sugar and cornflour into a large bowl and set aside. Lightly oil a shallow baking tin approx.18cm x 28cm. Line the base with baking paper and dust the base and sides generously with the sifted icing sugar mixture.
  2. Soak gelatine in 140ml of water.
  3. Place caster sugar, glucose and remaining water in heavy based saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for 12-15 minutes until mixture reaches 127C on a digital sugar thermometer.
  4. Carefully add the softened gelatine and water. The syrup will bubble up a little. Gently swirl in the pan until the gelatine has dissolved.
  5. Whisk eggwhites in a bowl of an electric mixer until stiff.
  6. Slowly pour in the hot syrup whilst continuing to whisk. Continue whisking for 8 minutes until the mixture thickens and cools down. (At this stage you can add colouring and flavouring if you like.)
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a wet palette knife. (At this point you can add swirls of colouring. Add drops of food colouring to the surface and use a skewer to swirl the colour through the marshmallow. This is what we did in the photo.)
  8. Dust the top of the marshmallow with some of the icing mixture and set aside for around 2 hours.
  9. Unmould the marshmallow from the tin and use a sharp knife to cut into pieces. Toss in the remaining icing sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Makes 24 large marshmallows.