I’m sure a lot of you have been wondering where I have been, and even a few of you lovelies have reached out to me to see how I am doing. Gosh my readers are so sweet. My last post seems like forever ago, and um, well, it was! Two months today. I feel like I am always saying, where does the time go, but – where does the time go?
A week after my last post, I went on holidays for a couple of weeks, had my last birthday before I move up an age bracket and – I GOT ENGAGED! Yes, such an exciting time.
Not long after I got back from my vacation, I received my advanced copy of the Paleo book I was shooting all of April-May with Lizzy Marsh from Primal Junction, and now we are in the promo stages. I’ll be sharing some recipes on here, as well as a portfolio update and book give-away just before its release date on 1 September.
We are already shooting more books, and so I have quite a bit of work on.
Any spare time that I have, I’ve been making wedding plans and holy moly is that a lot of work in itself. Women dream about their wedding days their whole lives, and the more we start to make plans, the more I feel like it’s really not my cup of tea. Which is why we are ‘making our own rules’, one of my favourite lines from Sex and the City.
Talia and I met up after my vacation to brain storm what we wanted to work on next. We have been toying with the idea of macarons for some time now, and thought this was the perfect opportunity to have a little celebration for the release of Paleo, the up-coming publications we are working on and my engagement. Talz, your amazing.
We played with a few more stylised concepts than we usually do, which I enjoy the most. Plus I have been dying to use this little tin I found, and so glad the macarons did it justice.
The idea of the Persian Fairy Floss Roses was kind of a spur of the moment thing. We had always planned to incorporate it in some way, and it made sense to have them as a quirky feature. Talia has some pretty kick-ass fondant flower making skills for her cupcakes, so this was a cinch for her. If you are not up to that fiddly business, and not all of us are, you can always invented your own style with the fairy floss.
Talia also has some love notes for the recipe at the end of this post, so always good to check those out first if you are tackling macarons.
It’s lovely to have you back here, let me know what you have been up to!
Liquorice Macaron with Persian Fairy Floss Roses
Makes approx. 35-40 shells (15-20 macarons)
120g (4.2oz) almond meal
230g (8.1oz) icing sugar, (powered sugar)
4 egg whites (125-130g/ 4.4-4.5oz)
60g (2.1oz) caster sugar
Yellow and red food colouring
Black sesame seeds
330g (10.5oz) soft liquorice, cut into small pieces
600ml thickened cream (2.5 cups US measurement)
Rose Persian Fairy Floss
Place almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor and blend on high-speed for 30 seconds. Pass through a sieve into a bowl.
Place the egg whites into a clean and dry mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters on high-speed. When soft peaks start to form, slowly add the caster sugar until firm and glossy. Then add your food colouring. (To get the desired colour for this recipe add 8 drops of yellow and 2 drops of red, however feel free to colour as you like).
Add one-third of the dry ingredients into the whipped egg whites (meringue) and fold with a spatula, being careful not to lose too much air. Combine the remaining dry ingredients into the meringue in 2-3 batches until well combined.
Line flat trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 150 C (300 F) fan forced. Place the mixture into a piping bag with a 10mm (0.4″) diameter round tip. Carefully pipe 4cm (0.15″) rounds onto a baking tray, leaving room between each circle as they will spread a little bit on the tray.
Sprinkle the shells with black sesame seeds, and allow the shells to rest for minimum of 15 minutes. The shells should form a ‘skin’ and if touched lightly will not leave any mixture on your finger.
Bake the shells for 4-6 minutes (until they rise and the ‘feet’ set) at 150 C (300 F) then drop the temperature to 120 C (250 F) for another 6-8 minutes. The timing and temperature may vary depending on your oven, so do one tray at a time (you will have about 35-40 shells). Watch the first tray carefully to see how the shells react in your oven and time your baking, then you can follow suit for the remaining trays.
Once baked, remove the baking paper with the shells on it from the tray onto a cooling rack. This will prevent the shells from drying out.
Once cool, carefully peel the shells of the baking paper (or lift off with a metal spatula), match up the similar sized shells and line them up in pairs (flat side up), ready for the filling.
Place liquorice pieces and thickened cream in a saucepan. Place over a low heat on the stove and stir until smooth. If you find there are still small pieces of liquorice you can place into a blender and blitz it until smooth. Allow it to cool before piping.
Place the filling in a piping bag with a 10mm (0.4″) round tip.
With the shells still flat side up on the wire rack, pipe a generous amount of filling on the inside of one of the shells. Keep the tip fairly close to the shell when piping to allow the mixture to spread outwards.
Pick up both shells with your fingers around the perimeter and gently push together so that the filling spreads the edge of the macaron. Voila! You have a delicious liquorice macaron.
The persian fairy floss roses
To make the persian fairy floss roses – mould a small piece into a ‘bud’ shape, like a small balloon. Then grab a ‘strand’ of the fairy floss and attach the end to the bottom of the bud. Carefully loop the remaining length of the strand up, over and around the outside of the bud, making sure you turn it as you go, until it looks like a flower. This is just a guide, so be creative with the fairy floss. You can get Persian Fairy Floss from fine food or middle eastern stores.
Please note your egg whites will not whip properly if there is any egg yolk or shell in it, so be careful when separating your eggs.
Use liquid food colouring, as gel based colours don’t agree with egg whites.
Before placing the meringue into the piping bag, twist the end of the bag closest to the nozzle and push it into the piping tip. When you are ready to pipe, untwist the end and push the meringue through the bag.
Some people like to use a template to assist getting the perfectly sized circle macaron. You can do this by tracing circles onto the baking paper (i.e. tracing around the rim of a shot glass) and then flipping it over onto your baking tray. Make sure the pencil side is facing down!
If your shells get air bubbles once piped, pick up the tray about 30cm (1 ft) off the bench and drop flat back onto the bench, or a hard surface. This will pop the bubbles and make your shells extra smooth.
Black sesame seeds are available at most delicatessens or fine food stores.
When assembling the macaron, some people prefer to place one shell on top of the other once the filling is piped and then push down gently for the filling to spread.
Dumpling Saturday happened exactly a week ago, and how fitting that I am getting around to posting this on another Saturday, [we were just way too full for me to post this on the day]. It was a nice way spend a cloudy afternoon with my man, he made the dumpling dough, I cracked open the beers and made the filling. After watching a few YouTube videos on how to shape dumplings we felt like pros and decided to give several techniques a try. We hand rolled 30 dumplings, eating as we went. Surprisingly we were pretty darn good at some of the techniques, the crescent for me and the purse for Matt [he doesn't even own a purse?]. Of course, not all of them turned out, some we didn’t seal well and some were simply misshapen. All still yummy, but I saved the best for the photos – obviously!
We made three fillings; Chicken & Bamboo Shoots with ginger, Prawn & Garlic Chives and lastly Pork with Shiitake Mushroom & Water Chestnuts. Chicken and ginger was my favourite and the prawn was Matt’s.
We have some really great dumpling bars around us here in Melbourne, and I love them for two reasons; firstly because I love finger food – there seems to be more room in my tummy when there is finger food on the menu, and secondly even though a good dumpling should be flavoursome enough that you don’t need the dipping sauce – the sauces are the best part. Growing up, my dad would make sure the pantry was always stocked with every Asian sauce imaginable, and not the Aussie brand stuff either – the real deal. This is something that has passed onto me. Creating the fillings for this recipe was easy as we had all the sauces, and as I use them a lot, I know what goes well with what [Hopefully!].
[I thought I would pop this pic in for the behind the scenes making of these beauties. We bought a little roller from the Asian Grocer, and its a good chance to see the disks pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll! Now I am seeing the triangle shapes we made and wishing I had used them in the photo, we just had a hard time getting the sizes to match.]
We used the three basic cooking techniques in a mix and match fashion, with Matt hoping to get the prawn dumplings and me hoping to get the chicken ones. As we tried all different shapes for the fillings, we quickly lost track of which was which. We boiled a third, steamed a third and made pot stickers from the last third. The pot stickers didn’t work super well as I didn’t have a tight lid for my fry pan, so the steamed batch in my bamboo steamers were the winners. We used a basic dumpling wrapper recipe and doubled it to make sure we got enough wrappers from it and didn’t need to worry too much about getting the cutting measurements right. I watched a video from Po’s Kitchen, which really put my mind at ease about making dumplings. If you are thinking of giving these a try, its worth checking this video out for the dough making, wrapping and cooking techniques. It is an Aussie based one, so hopefully it can be viewed worldwide.
Sadly, there is no portraiture of the purse dumplings which is such a shame as they are so visually pleasing. The light and look I was going for just didn’t get executed well enough for me to be happy with a final shot. Just a good excuse to have another go!
Pork with Shiitake Mushroom & Water Chestnuts
Chicken & Bamboo Shoots with Ginger
Prawn & Garlic Chives
makes approx. 30 med-lrg dumplings (the filling measurements are based on approx. 10 dumplings each)
1 cup plain flour (all purpose)
1 cup wheat starch*
Boiled water (approx 2/3-1 cup)
Pork with Shiitake Mushroom & Water Chestnut Filling
100g free range pork mince
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup water chestnuts, diced
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (spicy, add to taste if you don’t like the heat!)
1/2 egg, lightly beaten (beat the whole egg, but you’ll only need half)
Chicken & Bamboo Shoots with Ginger Filling
100g free range chicken mince
1/4 cup bamboo shoots, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
3 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon water
Prawn & Garlic Chives Filling
150g prawn meat, diced
1/4 cup garlic chives, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Shao Xing wine
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sichaun peppercorns, ground
Boil the kettle. In a mixing bowl, place the flour and wheat starch and stir until fully combined. Pour a small amount of water, approx. (2/3 – 1 cup) into the mixture and stir with a folk until it resembles a dough. [As each type of flour soaks up different amounts of water, it is hard to get exact quantities and so it is best to go by feel with the dough, add 2/3 cups boiled water to start - let me know how much works for you!]. Knead a few times to create a smooth finish. If the dough feels a little sticky, add a small or equal parts flour/wheat starch to the dough and mix. If the dough feels dry, add a little water (just a little, you can’t go back once you add to much). Once you are happy with the dough and it is silky, cover in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour.
* If you can’t find wheat starch, simply substitute for plain flour and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes to achieve the same silkiness.
Whilst the dough is in the fridge, you can make up the filling.
Measure out the first dumpling filling ingredients and combine in a bowl until fully incorporated. Cover and refrigerate. Do this for the remaining fillings in separate bowls. Place them in the fridge. (You can make the filling ahead of time to allow the flavours to marinate for a couple of hours if you like).
Find a large work surface and have a little flour handy for rolling. Once the dough has rested for an hour, remove from the fridge and roll into a long thin tube with a diameter of about 3mm (1″). Cut the tube in half, then cut the dough into evenly sized pieces, you want approx 30 disks. (Don’t fuss too much about getting this part exact. You’ll either have bigger dumplings with more filling, or smaller dumplings with less filling. As long as you measure your filling evenly you’ll be fine!).
Squish each disk with the palm of your hand with a little flour and roll out the dumpling wrapper into a thin circle, working from the outside of the circle to the middle. Add about a teaspoon of filling to the middle of the dumpling and wrap using your favourite technique. Place on a sheet of baking paper. Continue until you have used all the dumpling wrappers. You can keep these covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
You can boil them in salty water until they have floated for a few minutes, (I will check one to see that the filling is cooked before I take them out, larger dumplings will take longer).
You can steam them in a bamboo steamer with baking paper lined on the bottom for 15 minutes or so, or until cooked through. (adjust your cooking time for larger or smaller dumplings. You can always break one open to peek inside!)
You can place them in about 1cm (o.5″) of water and a splash of vegetable oil in a fry pan with a lid and let them steam until the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Once the water has evaporated, give them a few minutes for the bottom to crisp up.
Serve as you go with some dipping sauce.
The last week has been a lovely change in pace, with more time to appreciate every moment and take the time to do the things I enjoy. There has been a lot of new recipes happening in my house this week, as well as updating my portfolio site, holiday planning (Oh yeah, Matt and I are heading off to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia in a little bit to explore, hike, camp and connect with the oldest living culture on earth and NOT be eaten by a crocodile like my dad keeps warning me!) and even a trip to the Melbourne Zoo.
With a little more time up my sleeve at the moment, I have really been able to think about what projects I want to start and what I want to share with you all. Last week I really witnessed for the first time, the nasty side of the internet where people hide like phantoms and feel entitled to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do on your own personal blog. I am really lucky to have a great group of inspired followers and readers who gain so much from being on this journey with me, and I know that all I need to do is stay true to who I am and what I create, and not only will I be fulfilled but I will keep providing inspiration in this space, and for me that is what it is all about.
So the answer is simple to me. There is no where else to go, but to make my favourite food and shoot it. In case you haven’t heard - I absolutely adore Asian cuisine and boy am I living in the right city for Asian fusion explosion. Here in Melbourne we are surrounded by amazing chefs testing the limits of Asian flavours and favourites. For me, this is my happy place and so I’m going to shoot and share some Asian delights on the blog over the coming weeks. This idea has also allowed me to seek out the great Asian Grocers near me, and gosh did I find heaven. The things you can buy there. This is going to be so much fun! Next up, I think will be dumplings. I have already enrolled Matt into a dumpling making Saturday, that’s tomorrow. Eating all day – now that’s my kinda day!
Five Spiced Salt ‘n’ Sichuan Pepper Chicken with Lotus Root Chips
Serves 2 or finger food for 4
Five Spiced Salt ‘n’ Sichuan Pepper Chicken
500g (1lb) free range chicken drummettes and wings, skin on
1/2 cup corn or rice flour
1 1/2 tablespoons chinese five spice
2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon salt flakes, ground
Vegetable oil for drizzling, (a light olive or sesame oil)
Soy Sauce for dipping
Lotus Root Chips
1/4 cup salt flakes, sightly crushed
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
1kg (2.2lbs) lotus root*, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil for frying
Preheat oven to 180 C (375 F). In a bowl combine the flour, chinese five spice, sichuan pepper and salt. Stir until fully combined. Coat each chicken piece in the flour mixture and lay on a shallow baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Coat each chicken piece with a small amount of oil throughout the cooking process at 20 minutes and 40 minutes. After 55 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 240 C (465 F) and cook for a further 10 minutes to let the chicken brown and skin to crisp up. Turn off your oven.
While the chicken is cooking, you can make your lotus root chips. In a bowl, combine the salt flakes, lime zest and ground coriander. Set aside. After the 55 minute mark of the chicken’s cooking time – heat your oil over a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place a handful (you might want to do more or less dependant on your pan size) of lotus root into the oil and allow to fry for a few minutes until they turn golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and allow to rest on some paper towel to remove the excess oil. Whilst still hot, sprinkle over your salt mixture (remember less is more). Keep frying and salting your chips in batches until done. (Leave the hot oil to cool before you attempt to dispose. Be careful during the cooking process as hot oil will cause nasty burns if spilt or it splatters during cooking. Keep water away from the oil as this makes it spit).
Remove the chicken from the oven, service with soy sauce for dipping and your lotus chips. You can even squeeze a lime over the chips or serve them on the side if you have one left over from the zest.
*Lotus Root – you can find lotus root at your local Asian Grocer. Fresh lotus root can be quite pricey, and if it is or out of season you should be able to pick up frozen, pre sliced lotus root from the Asian Grocer instead. If the slices are too thick, carefully halve them longways with a steady hand and sharp knife.
We all know that Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate these wonderful creatures who brought us into this world and have never stopped looking after us, enhancing us and making us who we are today. My mum has become really passionate recently in eliminating the vast number of products that contain unsustainable palm oil from her home in her bid to do her part to stop the devastation to the rainforest habitat of Sumatran and Bornean Orangutans, which pushes them closer to extinction, the exploitation of the local people and land, not to mention the carbon emission impact.
Since I was a kid, she has had on her bucket list to go to visit the Orangutans in Borneo, and it is sad that as I have gotten older, this dream has been slipping further away. With the yearly advertising push for us to ‘buy’ something ‘special’ for Mother’s Day, mum had expressed to me that what she really wants for Mother’s Day, what she truly wants, is for companies to change the way they produce, use and label palm oil in the vast number of products we consume in our daily lives.
In our western culture, we are so far removed from the sources of things we consume, how they are made and what they contain. I am sure that if consumers were to actually visit the farms, plantations, factories, see what goes on, speak to the people who work there, the majority of us wouldn’t think twice about being informed about the things we are consuming. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t want to change the way palm oil is sourced if they visited these plantations in Indonesia and saw the devastation for themselves.
Palm oil is made from the African Oil Palm tree, and 85% of the world’s palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia as introduced unsustainable plantations that have cleared over 20 million hectares of natural forest. It is present in over half of all products that we find on supermarket shelves because it is cheap, versatile, high yielding and is currently widely produced. Current unsustainable production has seen 90% of the Orangutan’s habitat destroyed giving them a devastating 10 years before they are extinct.
However it is not all bad news. Current social pressure has seen changes to the industry with a number of countries pledging to and creating goals to have certified and 100% traceable, sustainable palm oil in all products sold, with Europe leading the way and countries like Australia, New Zealand and the US making moves to implement this in the next two years. As I live in a country where I do have the freedom of speech and am lucky enough to have choices in life, I feel it is our responsibility to take a stand and put pressure on companies to make a positive change.
This week I have trawled through online shopping lists of products that contain palm oil, who uses sustainable palm oil and who doesn’t, made a list of all the products that I consume and contacted those companies via email to let them know I am making a switch to products that do use 100% certified, sustainable palm oil and urging them to become leaders in their markets and pushing for that RSPO certification.
So what is the answer and what you you do? As you can imagine this is a complex issue and boycotting all products with unsustainable palm oil could do more harm than good. Be informed about the products you use and what they contain. Spend an afternoon (at your local coffee shop with your favourite hot drink) contacting these companies and telling them you want to see their products containing sustainable palm oil, replace your current products when they are finished with ones who do use RSPO palm oil – maybe even thank these companies for their stance on this issue. So far I have sent close to 50 emails to companies and the Australian Government, plus finding out about the alternative products I can purchase in the future.
I want to live a sustainable life, but in the western world I am limited to this by our social structure. I make choices where I can, however in order to do so fully, I need the help of the companies who supply us with our goods and services by providing me with correct labelling and choices. The way to do this is to have my voice heard about where I would like to see our world and consumption headed. I am not a mother myself, but I know that I need to make changes and inspire others to do the same if I ever want my children to live in a world that is different from the grim picture of the future we are faced with now. I am sure other mothers out there feel the same. Change needs to start NOW! (You might even be thinking to yourself that the production and use of palm oil is only one issue and there are so many, but getting informed about what’s in our products and where they come form is the first step to changing a lot of issues the world is faced with).
Not sure where to start? You can start by making your mum this delicious palm-oil free recipe and letting her eat it in bed! All ingredients contain no palm oil. If you are interested to read more, I have attached links after the recipe. Please feel free to email me also with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Serves 1 (allow one egg per 1/2 cup coconut cream per person. To serve 4, 2-3 eggs with 2 cups coconut cream will work)
Dark Chocolate Hearts
100g (3.5oz) good quality 85% dark chocolate, melted (I have used Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa dark chocolate, totally palm oil free)
Coconut French Toast
1 egg (I never buy cage eggs, only ever certified free range eggs)
1/2 cup coconut cream (I have used Ayam coconut cream, totally palm oil free)
2-3 slices of bread (if unsure, grab a loaf from your local bakery and ask them directly)
Small hand full of fresh berries, raspberries and strawberries
Sprinkle of almond flakes
Ground cinnamon for dusting
To make the chocolate hearts; on a large sheet of baking paper, use a teaspoon with a small amount of melted chocolate on the tip as a pencil, and draw little misshapen hearts onto the paper. Reapply more chocolate and continue to draw if needed. Leave aside and allow the chocolate to set. Once completely set, carefully peel each heart from the baking paper and store in a cool place, in an air tight container until ready to use. (You can make these ahead of time).
To make the french toast; place the coconut cream and egg in a bowl, whisk until combined. Cover each side and each slice of bread with the coconut mixture, removing any excess, and cook in a non-stick frypan on medium heat. Allow to cook on each side for approximately 3 minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted, golden brown and has firmed up on the outside, but is soft on the inside. Remove from the pan.
Place fresh berries on top of the toast, sprinkle with almonds and dust with cinnamon. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream on the side and a few dark chocolate hearts.
I was not paid or promoted by any organisation to create this post. There is no motivation behind this other than to share a passion close to my mother’s heart on mother’s day and to inspires others to take action where they can.
Where did I get my information from?
Hi there, what is everyone up to? I feel like it has been a little while since I was present in this space, mostly because I have been shooting an enormous amount of recipes, washing endless dishes ( oh my have I washed some dishes this past month), editing and picking our hero shots for Primal Junction’s new book coming out in a about six weeks. Today marked the end of the recipe shoots, 65 recipes under the belt, however many thousand shots sorted through, picked and edited. It is a great feeling. I shot all sorts of Paleo goodies, from the tricky to the darn right simple and delicious. My favourite recipes were the chicken zoodles with kale pesto, apricot chicken, chilli con carne (with cacao – yum!), muesli with cashew nuts milk and a fabulous messy dessert with frozen raspberries and dark chocolate. Lizzy from Primal and I will be planning a few sneak peeks on here and on Instagram, as well as sharing a few favs.
The images for the book will be posted off on Monday and I will hardly know what to do with myself, for at least a few days anyway. I’ll get to have some time off, plan some posts for this space and for a new online community that is starting up called tête-à-tête & PLATE, hit out the Mud Australia seconds sale next week and shake off this cold that I have managed to pick up now that the weather has turned. Tonight we decided to celebrate with one of my favourite, (non Paleo – sorry Lizzy) recipes – homemade pizza. I simply love the feeling of the dough as it risen and is ready for rolling. Matt makes them to perfection and trust me I have tried and failed on all accounts. Well I’m to enjoy a slice or two, (who am I kidding, more like a pizza or two), if you miss my posts on here, I am ramping up my pics on Instagram so come and play!
Remember that this is first and foremost a photography blog about my personal journey into the world of food photography and sharing my photographic art with my community, and as such there will be portfolio updates from time to time that do not contain recipes.
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!
Two Loves Studio is a space where food photographer Rachel Jane shares her love of food portraiture by highlighting the simplicity and beauty of real food.