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30 April 2013

Ribbon Tie Top

I don't think I am exceptionally tall. Until I go shopping. I really struggle to find clothes that actually fit me (that I then like of course) and as I am still somewhere between my pre-baby weight and my body's survival-while-breastfeeding-therefore-maintaining-fat status, it's even more of a challenge to find clothes that fit. 

Unless of course you couture-yourself! 

I love buying pretty fabrics. In every spare storage spot in our house you will find piles and piles of fabric, just waiting to fulfill its fabric destiny. I had this pretty orange stretch that I thought would make a gorgeous top, and had a tutorial pinned from months ago, so set about making myself a top that fits. 

Ha! My modelling could use some work!!!
The tutorial is from Sweet Verbena and was so simple to follow. I love her fabric choices too, I think it looks very feminine and elegant. I think I am going to make a few more (they are REALLY easy to make) because as I'm crawling around on the floor chasing Baby M these days, it would be nice to not have to constantly tug at my top to stay in place and cover all!!

Do you prefer making any clothes yourself or are you tall and have some favourite stores that you always shop in that you can share with me?!

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Bacon Butter Take Two!

After having made the best dinner ever the other night, I still had some of this amazing Bacon Butter left over...

To which I promptly took care of the following night!

It was Dinner For One the next evening as Mr M had a work dinner, so I didn't want to go to terribly much trouble just for my dinner. I baked a chicken breast, made sweet potato wedges and tossed a simple beetroot & semi-dried tomatoes salad, and topped the chicken with the bacon butter. 

The sweet potato wedges are really easy to make too! Peel and slice thickly the sweet potatoes. Pour a dash of oil in a baking tray and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Spread the sweet potato out on the tray and bake for 30 minutes, or until crispy on the ends and soft and tender in the middle. Season with salt and chopped parsley, or keep a la naturale if you are serving them to your baby (who, absolutely loves them!). I followed the recipe from Recipes from a Normal Mum

Simple. But thanks to the flavour-packed butter, it was tasty and filling. For a meal that took 10 minutes to prepare, that baked in the oven for 30 minutes whilst I fed Baby M, it was as though I had been slaving away all afternoon creating dinner for myself! 

And sometimes isn't that the best kind of meal?! 

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29 April 2013

Seared scallops with Boulangarie Potatoes and Bacon Butter (GF)

Yep, that's what I said!

Having tormented you all with the Photo Phriday of our menu board showing this incredible meal, I am now giving you the all important recipe. 

I really don't feel comfortable bragging about my own cooking. Maybe it is an Australianism, but I tend to be pretty self-deprecating and every time I say something positive about a recipe, its after deleting something more like "give it a go, its not too bad". I have managed to rationalise it though, because I am praising the food, and the combination of flavours and textures, not praising the cook herself.

But this meal, I got a big head about. It was awesome. Really. I did the thing you're not meant to do, I ate it whilst babbling on about how good it was (not with a mouthful don't worry, I was able to maintain some standards!). But I was genuinely miserable as I got to the end of my meal because I knew there was no seconds in the pan, this was it, it would soon be over.

Lets just get straight to the recipe, because it's quite lengthy. Its the longest I have prepared a meal for in a while, but it was worth the effort, it was restaurant-quality! It was from my newest Gluten Free cookbook, The Gluten Free Girl and The Chef, which, in itself is a great read and has some really sweet stories about their relationship with each other and with food. I love Mr M ever so much, but, oh to be married to a chef.....I digress...


Bacon Butter
4 slices bacon
8oz butter softened (1 cup)
1 T thinly sliced garlic
2 T finely chopped fresh chives
1 t finely chopped fresh rosemary

Boulangarie Potatoes
a) Chop the bacon into small cubes and sauté in a large pan until crisp but not burnt, which takes around 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool.

4 slices bacon
1 medium onion
1 sliced
1 t finely chopped fresh thyme (I used rosemary instead)
1 T finely chopped garlic
4 large russet potatoes
½ t salt and cracked black pepper
2 cups reduced chicken stock 

12 large scallops (with or without the roe, its a personal choice)
3 T salt
6 T canola oil, or another frying oil such as sunflower
3 T unsalted butter


1. Bacon Butter

b) Place the softened butter, chopped herbs, garlic and the bacon into a food processor. Beat them until they are well combined. The chives do turn the butter a slight green colour, but its not offensive so don’t panic!

c) Scoop the bacon butter out of the food processor and place onto parchment paper. Roll it into a log and refrigerate for later use.

2. Boulangarie Potatoes

a) Preheat the oven to 375F/190C

b) Saute the bacon in a hot pan. As the bacon begins to crisp up, lower the heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent and the bacon crispy (10 minutes or so). Add the thyme (or rosemary) and garlic, and stir for two minutes.

c) Remove from heat and prepare the potatoes.

d) Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise (from top to bottom) and then cut them into 1/2 inch-thick slices. 

e) Spread the onion and bacon mixture into a baking dish. 

f) Layer the potatoes in long lines, overlapping like fallen dominoes.

g) Season with salt and pepper

h) Cover the potatoes with reduced chicken stock (which I made simply using 2 cups of boiling water and 1 chicken stock cube, boiled for ten minutes until it had reduced by more than half).

i) Cover with aluminium foil (I forgot to do this, so mine were quite a bit crunchy, which I actually liked a lot) and bake for about an hour.

3. Scallops

a) Pat the scallops dry with paper towel. You want them to be very dry as they cook better this way. Season with salt on one side.

b) Pour 2 T of oil in a pan and when it is starting to smoke, add 1 t of butter and stir.

c) Place half the scallops in the butter and oil and sear until the bottoms have turned a rich caramel colour and have formed a crust. This will take about 2 minutes.

d) Flip over the scallops and let them sit for 1 minute and then remove to a plate to rest.

e) Cook the remaining scallops in the same way. Mine spat a lot of oil around my kitchen, which I suspect it because I didn’t dry them well enough between the scallop and roe, so be quite meticulous! I didn't want to get oil on my camera, so don't have any photos of the scallops cooking sorry. 

To serve, line the potatoes on the plate, place the scallops nearby, and dot some bacon butter on each scallop and allow it to melt as you eat it.

This meal was a lot of preparation but the flavours were incredible. The bacon butter was out of this world. The scallops, cooked to perfection. The potatoes were a surprise too! I was a bit sceptical about the chicken stock, but it was delicious and salty and creamy oh my! If you enjoy scallops and bacon separately, then you will LOVE them together in this form, they are heaven. 

But, you know, give them a go, they aren't bad.....

25 April 2013

Salted Caramel ANZAC Blondies (GF)

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning;
We will remember them.....

Today is ANZAC Day. It is the 98th anniversary of the day the ANZACs landed in Gallipoli at the start of World War I. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and is a national day of remembrance to honour those men and women who served and died in all wars and conflicts since this time. ANZAC Day is probably the most important and solemn day in our national identity and is gaining significance each year as the number of Veterans diminish. It is the day that we reflect on the qualities of courage, mateship and sacrifice and is a day we put our sporting woes aside and have a beer with our Kiwi mates. 

There are Dawn Services held in every town, a public holiday is observed and sweet biscuits made in kitchens all over then country. Having a baby made attending a Dawn Service extremely difficult this year (even though there was a Dawn Service in London at Hyde Park Corner), so for the first time in probably 15 years, I didn't set my alarm for 3am on the 25th of April. But the custom that I was able to continue, was making ANZAC Biscuits. ANZAC Biscuits are thought to have been made by the wives back home and shipped to their men at the front. Due to the lack of eggs and high shelf life of all the ingredients, they do not spoil easily and would travel well for weeks on the ship. I have made them every year since I was a little girl, and can't wait to teach Baby M how to make them as she grows up too.

This year I thought I would put a little twist on the traditional biscuit though, but only in that I added to it, I would never figuratively or literally detract anything from the ANZAC Biscuit. I used the ANZAC Biscuit recipe that I have always used and made it into a slice. Which I then topped with a Salted Caramel Blondie (because well what's more Australian than a tanned blonde right?!).

ANZAC Biscuit base
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour (I used All Purpose GF Flour)
1 1/2t bicarb
2 T boiling water
4 Oz butter
1 T Golden Syrup
Note: I did one and a half times the recipe as I wanted the base to be thick and chunky!


1. Heat butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over low heat until completed melted.

2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Boil water and put 2 tablespoons in a small cup.

4. When the butter has melted, quickly perform the next step. Add bicarb to the boiling water and stir. Add immediately to the hot butter and watch it foam up. It will froth up and triple in size, so be sure to use a deep enough saucepan!

5. Pour the frothy butter mix over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

6. Ordinarily you would then form into biscuits and bake for 20 minutes at 150C/300F, but, as I made a slice this time, you press the mixture into the base of rectangle tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until just browning on top ( I perhaps left mine a minute or two too long).

7. Leave to cool slightly as you prepare the next step.

I found this simple Blondie recipe on The Luna Cafe via Pinterest and was attracted to the short list of ingredients and basic method. I knew I didn't need anything too complicated or rich due to the flavours of the ANZAC base. I only used half of this recipe, but will keep it as is for the recipe.

Salted Caramel Blondie
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 t vanilla
2 cups Plain flour (I used All Purpose GF Flour)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt (plus extra on top)


1. Melt butter in the microwave (not on the stove as we don't want it to be too hot). Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar.

2. Cool the mixture until just warm and then stir in the eggs and vanilla.

3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and combine well.

4. Spread batter evenly over the top of the partially cooked ANZAC base and sprinkle with extra salt. It started practically glistening under the warmth of the base, melting the butter.... I had a sneaking suspicion that good things were to come!

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just browning on top and starting to crack ever so slightly. It should still be a little wobbly to touch. 

Cut into squares when the slice is cool enough, but don't mess around with teeny tiny pieces. You want nice big hand-sized squares. If you've come this far, you may as well follow through. Now is not the time for weight management. 

It looks like a lot of effort, making effectively two different slices, but I'll tell you, it is worth it! We ate a few slightly warm pieces last night as they were cooling and, oh my god, they are delicious! Who knew!!!! 

The top was crunchy and sweet, with a soft and buttery centre brought out by the comforting oats and golden syrup of the base. The two layers melded together into the perfect chewy and slightly messy blondie. 

I think it is the perfect addition to the already pretty perfect ANZAC Biscuit, because who doesn't love a little more butter and sugar in their day. This ANZAC Blondie takes me straight back to a place that is warm and homely. I missed not going to the Dawn Service this year, but sharing the butter coma with our Kiwi friends today will feel good on a different level!

.....Lest we forget

UPDATE: For 2014's Anzac recipe Anzac Biscuits with Caramel Ganache, click here.

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23 April 2013

Bacon, caramelised onion and tomato frittata

I am currently sporting quite a bit of suntan sunburn at the moment! My poor Australian bronzed Aussie-ness has well and truly given way to the pasty-white-Britishness having spent three long winters in the UK, so when the sun doth shine, I doth burn! We have just spent 5 days on the Greek island of Corfu (more about that later) but in addition to that, it was super sunny and super warm today in London, and looking toward the grey week ahead, I wasn't going to miss a single ray of it! 

Baby M and I met up with our Kiwi friends Nikki and Millie in the Heath and had a lovely lunch picnic (Wine Wednesday was moved to Tuesday this week, exceptions must be made every now and then). During my first summer in the UK I was most confused when I saw people stripping down to their smalls in the parks whenever it was sunny, but now I get it. There isn't all that much sun here, and when it does actually come out, well you better be ready to play! 

I wanted to take something picnicy, summery and still gluten-free of course, so decided to make a quick frittata. I had the perfect two-person pie dish so set about making this very simple lunch. It took about ten minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake, so was nice and quick while I got ready for the picnic. 

This frittata is sweet from the caramelised onion, salty from the bacon and juicy because of the tomatoes. The frittata trifecta!

4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 onion, caramelised
4 bacon rashes
Handful cherry tomatoes


1. Caramelise the onion - Heat a knob of butter and cook the sliced onion until it starts to brown. Then add about 2 tablespoons of raw/demerra sugar and a splash of water. Stir and continue to cook until crispy and browned (caramel!). 

2. Cook the bacon for 5-10 minutes or to your desired crispness. 

3. Beat the eggs with a fork and put in pie dish together with grated cheese, bacon and onions. Gently place the sliced cherry tomatoes on top.  

4. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover with foil and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. It shouldn't wobble when you touch the centre, it should feel nice and firm. 

Baby M sharing her carrot sticks with Millie
Happiness: picnic in the sun

This was such a simple and tasty lunch for our picnic. I picked up a Three Bean Salad to put with it, and we washed it all down with a lovely bottle of French white! The girls loved being outside and sharing snacks and soaking in a little Vitamin D themselves! Fingers crossed we get some more glorious days like this again soon!

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21 April 2013

Peach & Marscapone stuffed & wrapped Chicken

This is not the first time I have blogged about stuffed chicken, and it most certainly won't be the last! And although this is going to look very similar to the last one I blogged about on my old blog, this tasted so incredible that I just had to take the risk of being repetitive and write it up!

I made this for dinner twice in the past week. The first time Mr M was late home from work and his had spoiled. I was not terribly pleased! As punishment, I ate mine all hot and tender, while he had his slightly cold and the cheese wasn't gooey anymore. I need to work on my punishments! Anyway, I enjoyed mine so much that I made it again a few nights later and this time we both ate hot and gooey chicken (too quickly to bother getting decent photos as we went!!). 

It seems like its going to be a high-effort meal because it looks so fancy with the pancetta wrapping, but it is actually pretty easy and doesn't take all that long to prepare. 
Chicken breasts
Filling of choice – Peach chutney (which I actually made the previous weekend and I plan to post about soon), marscapone and cheddar cheese

1. Butterfly the chicken breasts so that you can put the filling ingredients in the middle.

2. I like to beat the chicken with a rolling pin a little to make it a little less thick, which helps it cook more evenly and quickly.

3. Fill one side of the chicken breast with your filling ingredients and fold the chicken back together

4. Lay the chicken on carefully lined up pancetta pieces, and wrap the pancetta around the chicken. The goal here is to mostly seal the chicken so that the filling stays inside while it cooks.

5. Place the chicken in a dish and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the pancetta has become crispy and brown (its a good idea to cut into one of the pieces of chicken to check it has cooked all the way through before serving).

6. Accompany with a salad, roast veggies or even on a bed of rice. 

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18 April 2013

Duck-egg, Courgette and Saffron cupcakes

When I got my new  cookbook I think the recipe I was most excited to try out was these cupcakes with courgettes. I love hiding veggies in my food, and as a mum to a 10 month old, something tells me I'm about to get a lot of practice of doing just this over the coming years!

The thing about gluten free cakes is that it takes a lot more work to get them light and fluffy, but when you do, they are spectacular! The saffron adds a funky colour to the batch, which, coupled with the courgettes, made me feel like I was baking an homage to Adam Scott, what with the green and gold and everything! Oh so HERE is my homage..... 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

I used duck eggs for this recipe. Fancy right?! Apparently duck eggs have a higher amount of yolk in them which makes them better for baking then regular eggs, and so I thought that this would be the perfect recipe to try them out in. They were certainly more fluffy and thicker than regular eggs after beating, so I think I would bake with duck eggs again. And perhaps blow my nose with gold


1 pinch saffron threads
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 medium eggs (at room temperature)
180g caster sugar
200g Gluten Free Flour mix A (see link)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthun gum
1 teaspoon glycerine
2 medium courgettes, grated and thoroughly squeezed out
225g unsalted butter
70g icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

2. Place saffron threads in a mug and add the boiling water and leave to infuse.

3. Place the eggs and sugar into a food mixer and whisk at a high speed for 5 minutes, or until thick and creamy. This step is instrumental to getting the cupcakes light and fluffy, because you can’t rely on the fluffiness that glutenous flour provides.

4. Place the flour, baking powder and xanthin gum together in another bowl and mix well.

5. Once the egg and sugar are very thick, add the saffron water, glycerine, the flour mix and the courgettes.  Fold together well, then spoon into muffin cases.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly brown and well risen.

7. Once cakes are cold, make into butterflies with a dollop of buttercream icing, or freshly whipped cream, and sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar.

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Printable Courgette Cupcakes