With Easter only a few days away, and all of my time at the moment spent on shooting recipes for the Paleo book, I did manage to put some time aside with Talia to play with some ooey gooey melted chocolate and to bake these cute little egg cup cakes. I don’t usually make an easter recipe, so I thought it might be nice this year as I will be working over the break to shoot the last half of the recipes for the book. But don’t worry, I do have a picnic planned with friends on Good Friday, (which I will be making a dairy free chocolate paleo tart – and I am pretty excited about that), and Matt and I will be attending the Dave Matthews Concert here in Melbourne, which we are even more pumped about! It’s going to be a good week. What are you guys up to for Easter?
Baking cupcake batter in egg shells is not a new idea, but it is certainly something a little fun, easier than we thought and Talia is always up for modifying her recipes to suit my crazy requests. Once the eggs cupcakes are baked, it was really relaxing to sit around with a cup of tea, peeling egg shell off cake and getting messy with melted chocolate. I guess most of my regular readers have noticed that Talia and I have been working together quite a bit lately. As much as I enjoy cooking, there is just something so special about working with another passionate foodie (or baker I should say!), brain storming ideas, sitting around on the weekend eating and shooting the food we have created together. It’s even inspired Talia to start up her own blog, which I am so pleased about as it is what the TLS space is all about.
We decided to play with melted chocolate for the egg cupcakes as it is a simple yet classic touch. I love the beauty in simplicity and any of you who have been on Pinterest at the moment looking for Easter ideas will know that they seem to be getting more and more over the top, complex and if I am completely honest maybe even a little (or a lot) corny! You can however think of this as your blank canvas and decorate them however you like, buttercream icing, sprinkles, powered sugar, or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Makes approximately 6
60g (2.1oz) butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted
Dark chocolate, melted
Milk chocolate, melted
Gently poke a small hole in the top of each egg using a cork screw or something with a small/fine sharp point. Carefully remove a small amount of the egg shell so the hole at the of the egg is around 1.5cm (0.5″). Turn the first 6 eggs upside down and pour out the eggs into a bowl. Store these in an air-tight container for use in another of your favourite recipes. With the last egg, empty its contents into a separate bowl that will be used for this recipe.
Fill a large bowl with cold, salted water. Rinse out the empty egg shells by submerging them into the water and allow to soak for approximately 30 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water, rinse them in fresh water and leave them to dry upside down on a clean tea towel or paper towel. Make sure they are fully dry before making the cake batter.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F ).
Loosely line 7 holes of a muffin pan with foil and place the eggs into each muffin hole. Arrange and scrunch the foil around each egg so that the egg will stay upright during the baking process.
In a large mixing bowl, place all ingredients and beat with electric mixers on a medium speed until light, thick and creamy. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, (you can also use a large zip lock bag with a small hole cut into one of the corners). Pipe the cupcake batter into the prepared egg shells about 2/3-3/4 full, (it is best if you can get it closer to 2/3 and not 3/4, or over 3/4 full as the cake batter will spill out and potentially crack the egg. This will result in an uneven shaped cake).
[ There is going to some mixture left over, which you can set aside to use again if your egg cupcakes spill over in the oven (you just need to make more egg shells), or you can make a few regular shaped cupcakes to decorate as well (the baking time might need to be adjusted to make regular cupcakes, so watch the cupcakes between 12-15 minutes and use a skewer to make sure the cupcake is cooked through). ]
Place the muffin pan with the eggs into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. It’s ok if the cupcake batter spills slightly over the top. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and allow the eggs to cool for around 5 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Gently peel the egg shell away from the cake and discard. (You can leave this part until you are ready to decorate them, by storing them in an airtight container). With a small sharp knife, shape the cakes as necessary by cutting off any lumps or spillage from the tip of the cake. Now you have your egg cakes to decorate as you like.
We melted small amounts of dark chocolate and milk chocolate separately, placed the egg cakes in cupcake liners and piped the melted chocolate over the eggs (using a zip lock bag with a hole in it) using a steady stream of chocolate, then set them in the fridge. Don’t worry that they don’t look perfect, it’s all about the fun, getting messy and trying new things.
**Why 7 eggs? As one egg is used for the recipe, it leave you with 6 eggs to use in other recipes or enough to make an omelette. Inevitably one is going to go wrong, so we has a buffer of one and if it all works out, then great you have an extra egg to play with!
Life in its typical fashion likes to throw many things at us at once, and this month can definitely be summed by the phrase; ‘when it rains, it pours’, but it isn’t all bad news. I’m about to sign my very first contract this week as the sole photographer (eekk!) for a new Paleo recipe book with over 65 recipes to be shot in a month! I am pretty excited and it’s a great opportunity to get real with the things I do in my life, get my butt into gear and work on my time management skills. Oh and not to mention my creative and shooting skills. Shooting 65 recipes and making each of them fresh, real, unique and exciting will be a challenge that I am up for!
The book is being written by the lovely and talented lady Lizzy Marsh who runs Primal Junction, which is an online community that was created to explore a ‘back to basics’ approach to optimising nutrition, health and performance. The nitty gritty of the book is still in the works, but the great news is that it should be available in 24 countries around the world! One of the best things about this project is that I get to spend my days working with Lizzy, share in her passion to change the health of the world and live off her amazing recipes.
When it comes to being busy, I like to unwind by eating my favourite comfort foods and dips and chip are high on that list. Sitting down after a day of getting myself into all sorts of positions to ‘get those angles’, with a good avo dip and some salty corn chips (a margarita would be a nice addition too) – ah heaven, all in a days work. I have penciled in one day a week off, and over the weekend just gone, I spent that day with Talia shooting our Easter recipe. Playing with melted chocolate just hardly feels like work. That post to come soon!
Avocado & Jalapeño Dip
2 avocados, peeled and seeds removed
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Small handful of fresh coriander
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeño, finely, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Favourite corn chips to dip
Microgreens or a few coriander leaves to garnish if you wish
In a small food processor combine all of the ingredients, keeping aside half of the jalapeño, until smooth and creamy. Finely chop the remainder of the jalapeño. Place the dip in a serving bowl and garnish with the finely chopped jalapeño, microgreens or coriander leaves. [If you want a less spicy dip, just use half of the jalapeño and either process with the rest of the ingredients or sprinkle on top]. Serve with your favourite dipping food!
I absolutely love the shape and look of cakes. There is something about a circle that is just so perfect and pleasing to my eyes. It is probably a good thing that my baking skills are not awesome, cause I would shoot cake everyday of the week if I could. I have been following linda lomelino from Call Me Cupcake on Instagram and I absolutely admire both her baking and cake shooting skills. She fuels my urge to bake and luckily I have my friend Talz who can bake a mean cake for me whenever I feel like I need to sink my teeth into a cake shoot.
This is Talia’s simple butter cake recipe with her to die for buttercream icing. I really wanted to focus capturing the simple yet pleasing shapes, textures and tones that we all associate with cakes. The way the light bounces off the sponge, you can almost feel how moist and fluffy the cake is.
Although I didn’t make this cake, I sure made the icing and it was perfect! So easy to make, light, fluffy and easy to spread. I made the icing from Talia’s Cupcake Dream e-book. I also made a double layer version of this cake by baking two separate butter cake layers and I’ll share that shoot with you a little bit later.
White Butter Cake
250g (1 stick) of butter, chopped and softened
1 cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of self raising flour
1 cup of milk
200g (7oz) vegetable shortening
40ml (2.5 tablespoons approx.) water
500g (1lb, 3 1/2 cups approx.) powered sugar
10ml (2 teaspoons) clear vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line the bottom of a 22cm (8.5″) deep round cake tin.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract with electric beaters on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, until well combined. Sift in the flour and add the milk in 2-3 batches . Gently stir after each addition until well combined.
Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until golden on top. Test with a skewer in the middle to check that the cake is cooked through. (The cake works well if you cook it at 180 C (350F) for the first hour, and then reduce to 160 C (320F) for the last ten minutes or so).
Allow the cakes to completely cool in the tin on a wire rack before turning the cake out.
To make the icing; combine the vegetable shortening and water in a bowl then use an electric mixer on a low-medium speed to cream them together. Sift in the icing sugar. Add vanilla extract. Combine on a low speed, then beat on a medium speed until creamy and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When ready to serve the cake, spread the icing evenly across the entire cake with a knife.
Today was just such a beautiful autumn day. It was a blue bird day, the perfect temperate with a gorgeous breeze floating through the air. It is by far my favourite season, especially early on when summer fruits are still lingering around and the days are still long. Before figs slip out of season, I wanted to make a fig salad as they are just such an intricate fruit with a taste like no other. Just a simple side salad if you need a little change from veggies. I can’t resist figs with cheese and creamy feta cheese is a well suited addition.
I have been growing new batches of microgreens each week and am loving their taste and look in my salads. Have you grown your own micro greens before?
Fig Salad with Marinated Danish Feta & Sweet Balsamic Vinegar
4-6 fresh ripe figs, sliced
Handful of marinated danish feta, crumbled
Generous handful of freshly cut micro microgreens (cress, amaranth red garnet & pea shoots)
Sprinkling of peppercorns, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
On a serving platter, place the sliced figs and crumble over the feta. Sprinkle over the micro greens and peppercorns.
In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and stir to combine. Either drizzle over the salad when read to serve, or serve on the side.
Talia and I have been doing regular cupcake shoots since we created our e-book Talia’s Cupcake Dream, she has even been giving me some baking lessons! We have been playing with the recipes in the book, creating twists and it’s been super fun. We are currently brainstorming some fun Easter ideas to play with this weekend so stay tuned for that.
A few weeks ago we had the morning to play with cinnamon sugar, I tell you sugar is so much fun to play with. I actually enjoy it more than I do eating it! And when making your own cinnamon sugar, the smell is incredible.
Talia’s recipe; Beer & Mo Dream is a ‘blokey’ cupcake she made for Movember and the response was so great that she decided to have a play with the recipe and create a twist so you can make this recipe any time of the year, and has an alternative for those who want a cupcake that doesn’t contain alcohol.
If you just want to grab this recipe - that’s great too! We have specially made a two-page PDF with just this cupcake recipe so you can sink your teeth into this twist AND the first 50 orders can choose the purchase price – yep, that’s right you can choose whatever price your big heart desires. We are having a little fun with this one so be one of the first 50 and unleash your purchasing power! Then make some wicked cupcakes and get cinnamon sugar everywhere – even in places it should never go!
The modifications and further directions to make this recipe are listed below as well as how to make the cinnamon sugar!
(Please note that the original recipe contains only the recipe for the Beer & Mo Dream cupcakes and the original associated images with that recipe).
Ginger Beer Cupcakes In Cinnamon Sugar – A Twist from Beer & Mo Dream in Talia’s Cupcake Dream
Makes approximately 12 cupcakes
Get recipe here (be one of the first 50 and pay what you want!)
Same as recipe, except substitute the beer for good quality non-alcoholic ginger beer.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Follow direction steps 1 – 4.
Once the cupcakes are in the oven and baking away, mix 1 1/2 cups of white sugar with 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. Fully combine and then add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon at a time, (up to an additional tablespoon) to taste. Fully combine after each addition. I used approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Once you have removed the cupcakes from the oven and they have cooled on a wire rack, turn on the oven grill to low-medium. Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon sugar onto the tops of the cupcakes and place under the oven grill, sugar side up. Let the sugar melt and crystallise for around 5 minutes, unit the sugar hardens and burns slightly, (the colour will be dark brown and not blackened and smoking). If the sugar needs a little more time to burn, keep it under the grill for another 3-5 minutes, keeping a close eye on it.
When you are satisfied with the sugar topping, remove from under the grill and let cool for a minute or so and are cool enough to touch. Place the cinnamon sugar in a large tray, then roll the warm cupcakes into the cinnamon sugar and serve immediately (with a cup of tea as Talia would say!).
My apartment herb garden has been going strong for over six months now and we have produced more basil than I know what to do with. We usually make a margarita pizza and just sprinkle over the freshly cut basil, but the plant is starting to flower so it was time to cut most of the leaves and make a yummy basil pesto. Oh so classic and so easy. The fresh basil really does make a difference. I don’t think I could go back to pre-made, store-bought pesto again!
I used the same recipe as I have posted on this blog before, but I made double as I had a lot of basil. Again I modified the oil content by adding a tablespoon at a time until I was happy with the consistency. I really enjoyed making and shooting this recipe, sweet and simple. If you didn’t try this last time, I hope this inspires you to this time….and maybe even grow your own basil!
Makes approx. 1 cup (enough for 500g/1lb cooked pasta)
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted at 180 C (350 F) for 10 mins
3 cups fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves
100g (3.5oz) grated parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Place pine nuts, basil, garlic and cheese in a food processor and blitz until fully combined and the mixture resembles a paste. Add 1 tablespoon of oil at a time, and pulse for 20 secs until incorporated. Continue to add the oil until all combined. Monitor the oil content of the pesto after each addition to get it how you like it.
Serve immediately with you favourite pasta dish. Also keeps well in the freezer. Empty into an ice cube tray and use as needed.
For those of you who don’t know me well, my favourite cuisine is Asian. I would eat Asian fusion every night if I could and there is no shortage of amazing Asian fusion restaurants in Melbourne. I also have a love affair with soup. One of the first recipe books I owned was the ‘Soup Bible’, so it is no surprise that I get beyond excited when I have a delicious Asian soup put down in front of me. Matt makes the most incredible Hot & Sour Soup, from boiling up the stock himself, with fresh ingredients, lots of sauces and even a fire cracker chilli from our little chilli plant. It is a heavenly aroma that fills the house all day, and then I eat about 4 servings at dinner until I am nearly physically sick! I get him to make double the recipe so we have left overs for days, but we only mange to have left overs for about one day! A serious soup addict.
I have included the stock that we make during the day, but if you don’t have the time then you can use stock cubes or bought stock instead.
This was the first soup pic that I have ever done! I have always been daunted by how to make liquid look good, but this soup is just so photogenic with all the bits and bobs of tofu, shredded chicken, shiitake mushrooms, noodles, egg and green onions. I have also been saving a newspaper that Matt picked up for me on a work trip to Adelaide – City Mag. Such a wicked read, its design is so beautiful that I have stashed some pages to use as backgrounds. A page or two also made it into my Beet Chips post.
1-2 chicken carcasses
1 large carrot
1 celery heart
2 garlic cloves
5-10 whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
Small handful of fresh thyme (optional)
Large pinch of salt
8 tablespoons rice vinegar (extra to taste)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons ginger, minced
8 cups chicken stock (from above or a pre-bought one if you’re short on time)
500g (1lb) silken tofu, cut into cubes
1 small can bamboo shoots (230g/ 8oz)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-3 fresh chillies (depending on how hot you want the soup), finely minced
Shredded chicken bits from the stock (from above)
10 shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
125g (4.4oz) long life noodles (egg noodles or ramen)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 green onions, sliced for garnish
Sriracha sauce to serve
Preheat oven to 210C (410F). Place chicken carcasses onto a roasting pan, and roast until they begin to brown, approx. 15-30 mins. In the meantime, roughly chop the carrot, celery heat and onion. Turn off the oven and let the carcasses sit in the warm oven.
Over medium heat, add a lug of olive oil to a large saucepan and the roughly chopped veggies, garlic and salt. Lightly sauté until they soften up. Add the carcasses to the saucepan and fill with water, about an inch from the rim of the saucepan. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves and fresh thyme. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. Simmer for at least 1 hour. From time to time skim any fat and particulates from the surface. The longer you simmer the more flavour will develop.
Remove the carcasses and place them onto a chopping board. Allow to cool. Strain the stock through a fine sieve. Discard the stock ingredients. You should be left over with 5-7 cups of stock. Add enough water to make up to 8 cups.
Once the carcasses has cooled, use your fingers to remove the left over meat. Cut this into small pieces and discard the remainder of the carcass.
In a small bowl, combine vinegar and cornstarch until thick and smooth. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the sesame oil. Add ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes, but don’t let it brown. Pour in chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the tofu, bamboo shoots, soy sauce, chillies, chicken bits and mushrooms. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until slightly thickened.
Taste the soup. If needs more salt, add more soy sauce. If needs more spice, add more chilli or sriracha sauce. If needs more sour, add more rice vinegar. Add each or any of these to taste.
Add the noodles to the soup and allow them to soften. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs just before serving. Serve with sliced green onions and sriracha sauce on the side.
Rachel Jane is a self-taught food photographer and stylist based in Melbourne. As the creator of her beloved blog, Two Loves Studio, she shares her evolving journey into the world of food photography. She is passionate about shooting food portraiture that highlights the simplicity and beauty of real food. Her styling focuses on the shapes and textures of the dishes components, which allows us to connect with the dish and evokes our love affair with food.