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Baking Recipes

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Kefir is fermented milk and an amazing source of probiotics. Blue Bay Kefir, from Mornington, Victoria (in our opinion) is Australia’s best, as it’s made from premium organic milk, has no added thickeners or preservatives. Kefir contains probiotics capable of colonising the gut, where they improve cholesterol metabolism and promote a healthier immune system. They also help balance good and bad bacteria and are effective in managing gastroenteritis. There is evidence to show that kefir…

These decadent looking chocolate tarts may look expensive, however they’re made with relatively low cost raw ingredients. While we’ve dressed up our tarts with small garnishes of edible gold leaf, this visual element can be exchanged for toppings of baby herb leaves, for example mint or basil. The muscat syrup can be made with some older wine stock, and keeps well in a refrigerator. It’s also makes for a great adults only ice cream topping.…

Crêpes are not as complex to make as one might think. These very thin and delicate French variations of the humble pancake can be  quickly and easily poured, flipped and served. This recipe using kefir (fermented milk, high in probiotics, now available in most supermarkets) makes preparing the crêpes batter a cinch. Gluten free flour as an alternative also works well with this recipe. Makes 16-20 crêpes 400ml Kefir (we preferKefir  from Blue Bay dairy)…

Beechworth Honey has long been at the forefront of championing Australian honey and Australian varietal honeys. The business was created 25 years ago by husband and wife team Steven and Jodie Goldsworthy in Beechworth in North East Victoria. Australian varietal honeys are made by the bees collecting the nectar of native trees in flower – mainly eucalypts but also other species, such as banksia and macadamia. Beechworth Honey has more than 500 hives in bushland…

So what makes a batch of hot cross buns extra special and are they difficult to bake? The simple answer, we feel, is loads of added flavour and a little care. But no, not a lot of skill is required to bake a batch of these perfectly glazed gourmet Easter treats. As Essentials’ home base is situated close to the wine growing region of Rutherglen in North East Victoria, Australia, we’re particularly passionate about cooking with…

This no-bake cheesecake is one of the most simple and delightful offerings we’ve presented. While it does include some sweetened baked strawberries, this will only take a few minutes in a preheated oven. The recipe is great for making with children and is also a fantastic way for beginners to surprise their loved ones. Sesame Ricotta Cheesecake Tart with baked strawberries and sweet balsamic dressing 1 x Cheesecake Biscuit Crumb Base (see recipe at essentialsmagazine.com.au)…

Few desserts entertain better than a decadent cheesecake bursting with colour and natural fragrances. They may look tricky but we’ll let you in on a secret… they’re a cinch! The key to a cheesecake is a simple biscuit crumb base, from here depending on your desired recipe, cream or ricotta cheese, (sometimes) more cream, sugar, eggs,  plus other flavourings are be combined to make cheesecake fillings. Below is our instant cheesecake biscuit crumb base recipe…

Sweet and tangy classic lemon tarts with buttery sweet pastry are low cost, easy and delicious treats. Adding to  their presentation, we’ve added sweet lemon zest and the floral fragrant garnish of salade de fleurs – a beautiful mix of French marigolds, cornflower and rose petals; available from The Essential Ingredient in Australia and Mill and Mortar in the UK. Classic Lemon Tart with Sweet Lemon Zest 500g sweet pastry (see recipe below) Sweet lemon…

If you’re lucky enough to be sipping some elegant white wines at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, then this simple recipe makes a good pairing. It can also extend your food dollar further while pleasing the whole family. Roquefort (Blue Cheese) and Leek Quiche shortcrust pastry (see recipe at essentialsmagazine.com.au) 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 leeks, washed and thinly sliced 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped 2 stick of celery, washed…

Shortcrust pastry is often used for the base of a tart, quiche or pie. It can be used to make both sweet and savoury pies such as apple pie, quiche, lemon meringue or chicken pie. Shortcrust Pastry Makes 500g 300g plain flour, sifted 1 tsp salt 150g cold butter, diced 1 egg yolk 60ml water Method 1. Using a food processor, combine the flour, salt and butter and pulse to fine sandy consistency. 2. Add…

Have you ever considered the volume of food ingredient-to-price ratio when buying vegetables? Often pumpkins come out on top and more importantly, they’re loaded with a variety of nutrients, including fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In terms of extending your dollar further we think they’re a ingredient that should be high on your grocery list. Pumpkins are great for roasting or adding to soups, curries and braises. Another fab money saving idea is to make…

Borodinsky Bread is one of the most favourite varieties of bread in Russia. This traditional dark-brown sourdough loaf is made of rye and wheat flour, with a pinch of sweet molasses or honey and spicy coriander. For Aussies, you’ll be surprised to learn that it’s great with butter and Vegemite; however to truly appreciate the Russian style, we suggest you pair this some pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, tomatoes (fresh or pickled) and slices of sausage and…

In terms of cash saving Soviet era recipes, this Belyashi (Russian pan-fried pies) with lecho (pepper ragu) pair is one of the most satisfying and flavoursome we’ve tasted. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and make a large batch of lecho and preserve in jars; as later combining lecho with something as simple as mashed potato can make a fast and flavour-packed evening meal to please the entire family when the pies have run…

The Queen Garnet plum is considered by many the crown jewel of Australian plums. Jam-packed with seven times more antioxidants than other plum varieties, the Queen Garnet is now in season and available from major and independent retailers across Australia. Growers including Rullo Farms in Shepparton, Victoria, this year have reported a record-breaking growing season with the crop producing biggest harvest since commercial production began in 2014. Queen Garnet plums hold their firm, robust shape…

Essentials’ Megan Chalmers unleashes a decadent dessert – Poached Fruit Crostata Tart with Lemon Ricotta Ice cream – the perfect accompaniment to the changing summer-to-autumn season. Poached Seasonal Fruit Choose your own fruit selection; we used 2 persimmons, 2 peaches, 2 nectarines and 2 pears 4 cups cold water 3 cups brown sugar 1 large knob of ginger, peeled and grated juice and zest of 1 lemon 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped Method 1. Place…

Braising is a cooking method that can turn tough meats into tender and succulent offerings. In this case, chicken thighs on the bone coupled with verjuice and stock allows the meat to remain tender, while enhancing its natural flavours. The key to many braises is cooking low and slow, depending on the size and thickness of the meat cut used; however this recipe calls for a relatively fast preparation and cooking method. It promises to…

Throughout the deeper reaches of the Swiss and Austrian alpine valleys, German forests and Russian villages, traditional winter foods, preserving techniques and family recipes are handed down from grandmother to granddaughter (ot babushki k vnuchke). In the spirit of giving, Essentials’ Megan Chalmers has reinvigorated one of the finest European treats to help celebrate the Christmas season. Mini Black Forest Cake with forest floor of chocolate soil, mascarpone white chocolate mousse, cherry kirsch jelly cubes,…

We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but I have always loved the sentiment behind this special day. Having one day a year to sit back, relax and talk to your family about what is making you happy in life, what you appreciate and what your dreams are for the year ahead is something we don’t do nearly enough. This wonderful holiday is all about giving thanks, so, whether you do this on Thanksgiving…

Cucumber Avocado Gazpacho with Watermelon, Mint and Pepitas 4 cups quality vegetable stock 1 ripe avocado 2 continental cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped ¼ bunch fresh-picked mint leaves ¼ bunch chopped dill 1 cup plain natural yoghurt Salt and pepper to taste Method 1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. 2. Season to taste. 3. Refrigerate until chilled. To Serve Serve chilled, garnished with watermelon cubes and a scattering of…

Looking for a deluxe retro entertainer? This Vine Leaf Baked Camembert with Beechworth Honey’s Bee Quirky Honey & Nuts, pickled carrot, muscatels and crostini is a sure bet. Baked Camembert Cheese 1 small wheel of quality Camembert cheese 6-8 vine leaves, rinsed and patted dry 1 jar Beechworth Honey’s Bee Quirky Honey & Nuts Preheat oven to 180C Method 1. Wrap the cheese wheel with vine leaves, ensuring that the wheel is completely covered. 2.…

Beechworth Honey has long been at the forefront of championing Australian varietal honeys. The business was created 25 years ago by husband and wife team Steven and Jodie Goldsworthy in Beechworth in North East Victoria. This honey cake recipe with dried flower petals and raw Australian honeycomb is a great way to celebrate their single origin 100% pure/raw honeys. Honey Cake with dried flower petals, raw Australian honeycomb Cookie Layers 170g Beechworth Honey’s Bee Bold…

Featuring a unique, easy-to-digest unleavened kefir pizza dough, this rich in umami French-style pizza will have you coming back for more. Caramelised onions 10 brown onions, peeled, thinly sliced 100g unsalted butter Salt flakes to taste 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar Method 1. In a large saucepan over a medium heat, add butter and melt, then add sliced onions and stir well. 2. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook slowly until onions become softened…

Syrniki are Russian fried quark (cheese) pancakes that are traditionally garnished with light sour cream, varenye (jam), honey or apple sauce. The cheese mixture may contain raisins for extra flavour. Melbourne’s Blue Bay Dairy quark cheese is the perfect ingredient for making these quick-as-a-flash breakfast recipe gems. They’re simply delicious! Syrniki (seer-nee-kee) Russian Sweet Cheese Fritters Makes 12-14 medium size pieces 250g Blue Bay Quark Cheese, or drained cottage cheese 2 eggs pinch of salt…

Bowel Cancer Australia has announced the return of Meat Free Week, September 23-29, challenging Australians to try a plant based foods menu for seven days and raise funds for a great cause. The campaign aims to get people thinking and talking about how much meat they’re eating, and the impact consumption has on health and the environment.  Now in its seventh year, support for Meat Free Week continues to grow with international celebrity campaigners and…

Farmer’s breakfast cheesecake or zapekanka is a healthy breakfast that can be made the night before. Zapekanka was once served as a breakfast dish in schools and kindergartens all over the former Soviet Union. Makes 6 individual zapekanka 500g Blue Bay Quark 100g sugar 50g milk 50g butter, softened at room temperature 2 free range eggs 1 tsp of vanilla sugar 100g semolina Preheat Oven to 180C Method 1. In a large mixing bowl add…

With the changing season from Winter to Spring, this roasted vegetable recipe will bring out the best in your remaining winter root vegetables and early spring leafy veg. 1 bunch baby turnips 1 bunch baby beetroots (purple and golden) 1 bunch heirloom carrots (mix colours) 1 bunch baby leeks 1 garlic bulb, smashed and gloves separated, skin on ½ bunch thyme sprigs 4 fresh bay leaves Australian extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling Sea salt flakes…

These luxurious single serve no-bake black forest cakes are designed to be frozen prior to serving, creating a unique frozen dessert option, perfect for spring and summer entertaining. Base ¾ cup raw cashew nuts ¾ cut coconut flakes 2 tbsp cacao powder 10 medjool dates, pitted 1 tsp coconut oil ¼ tsp sea salt flakes Method 1. Add the raw cashews and coconut flakes to a food processor and pulse until a crumb consistency is…

Artisan dairy producer Andre Kogut, for the past 12 years, has been making premium organic cheeses at his Blue Bay dairy in Mornington, south of Melbourne. Products include the delicious and versatile European cottage style cheese Quark. Vareniki are classic Slavic dumplings, usually filled with quark or fresh curd cheese, berries, mashed potatoes or other meatless ingredients. They are half moon in shape and are typically made using a yeast-free dough. The following recipe is…

In Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe and in Good Food Guide-hatted restaurants in Australia, detailed layering of delicate flavoursome elements combine to make exquisite desserts. While these perfected plates of beauty seem impossibly complex to craft, Essentials’ Megan Chalmers shares a few tricks of the trade, putting together a buttermilk rice pudding with baklava wafer, Turkish delight and sugared rose petals to ensure your evening’s dining table is an award-winner. Buttermilk Rice Pudding 2 cups coconut…

Few desserts entertain better than a decadent cheesecake bursting with colour and natural fragrances. They may look tricky but we’ll let you in on a secret… they’re a cinch! Sesame Ricotta Cheesecake Tart with baked strawberries and sweet balsamic dressing 1 x Cheesecake Biscuit Crumb Base (see recipe below) Note: For the Sesame Ricotta Cheesecake Tart, add 2 tbsp black sesame seeds to the biscuit crumb base while blitzing. 250g cream cheese, warmed to room…