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Baking

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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…

There’s nothing more winter friendly than toasting marshmallows over an open fire. But have you ever considered how easy it is to make your own homemade marshmallow? Essentials’ Megan Chalmers shares this recipe for light and fluffy orange blossom marshmallow; one that’s a touch more adult indulgent and that also pairs well with winter poached fruits or chocolate desserts. Orange Blossom Marshmallow 500g caster sugar 1 tbsp liquid glucose 400ml water 2 tbsp gelatine powder…

New Zealand freeze dried ingredient company Fresh As are culinary leaders in capturing the intense flavours of fresh fruits, herbs and many other food delicacies – literally frozen in time. Their products including freeze dried food segments and powders give chefs a new set of creative powers – enhancing dishes with both flavour punch and great textural accompaniment. Thanks to Essentials’ in-house chef Megan Chalmers, and an Essentials collaboration, several Fresh As products have recently…

Garlicious Grown black garlic starts life as quality hard-necked garlic grown in Braidwood in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands about an hour from Canberra. It’s grown by farming friends and business partners Jenny Daniher and Cathy Owen. The process of producing black garlic involves taking only the best quality garlic and placing it in a special chamber at high humidity but low temperature for 30 days. During this period oxidation takes place and the…

This Salted Chocolate Tart with Burnt Honey and Black Tea Syrup is a treasure to seriously indulge in this autumn. Essentials’ in-house chef Megan Chalmers pairs it with a clever toasted fennel seed ice cream and candied citrus, creating that classic ‘jaffas’  flavour pairing. Salted Chocolate Tart with Burnt Honey and Black Tea Syrup, Toasted Fennel Seed Ice-Cream and Candied Clementines 500g shortcrust pastry (see recipe below) 300ml thickened cream 2 tsp caster sugar 1…

This perfect autumn season dish is a wonderful way to wow guests with all the colour and fragrance of quinces. Chestnut Puff Pastry – Makes 1.2kg puff pastry (enough for 8-10 Tartes Tatin) 300g plain flour 200g chestnut flour 500g firm butter Pinch salt 250ml iced water Method 1. Remove butter from refrigerator and cut into small cubes 1 hour before using. 2. Sift flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the…

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! Here’s how to whip your own delectable dream cheesecake into shape. New York Cheesecake with vanilla-poached rhubarb and lavender honey syrup 1 x Cheesecake Biscuit Crumb Base (see recipe below) Note: For the New York Cheesecake, add one small knob of grated ginger to the biscuit…

Preheat oven to 160C 500g sweet pastry (see recipe below) 750g frangipane ¼ cup good quality fig jam 10 ripe fresh figs, thinly sliced Poached figs and fresh raspberries to garnish Raspberry vinegar caramel to glaze and drizzle Frangipane 1 cup caster sugar 200g unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature 2 cups almond meal 2 eggs 2 tbsp Tokay (topaque) wine ¼ cup plain flour Method 1. Using an electric mixer, beat together caster sugar,…

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 and (we think) one of the best-fermented foods in the nation: the health-giving fermented milk product Kefir. Quark is a European naturally fermented cottage cheese that can be used in cheesecakes, baking, dips or simply spread on bread.…

Makes 2 tarts, serves 4 Bake in 15cm diameter cake tins. 400g sheet of good quality all-butter puff pastry 16 pieces oven-roasted tomatoes (mixed varietals, see recipe below) 16 pieces caramelised shallots 2 burrata (about 200gm each; buffalo mozzarella is an excellent substitute) Green herb vinaigrette to garnish Oven-roasted Garden Tomatoes (mixed varieties) 8 fresh tomatoes of mixed varieties, cut in halves 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 1 bay leaf, torn into small…

Makes 2 tarts, serves 4 500g sweet pastry (see recipe below) Sweet lemon zest and salade de fleurs to garnish Lemon filling: makes 750ml 5 whole eggs 1 egg yolk 130g caster sugar 200ml thickened cream 130ml lemon juice 1 tsp grated lemon zest Preheat oven to 180C. Method 1. Roll out the sweet pastry to approximately 2-3mm thick and use it to line greased individual tart tins. Cover with baking paper, fill with dried…

‘Goddess of Pie’ Kirsty Heather of Cooper’s Handmade Pies has crafted this beautifully-decadent and flavoursome Pork Terrine Pie. Hot Water Pastry 500g plain flour Pinch of Murray River salt flakes 150ml melted lard or butter 200ml boiling water Method 1. Combine flour and salt, make a well in the centre. 2. Pour lard/butter and hot water into well in flour, mix well until flour is combined. This should come together to make a pliable dough. Take…

Serves 8 Shortcrust pastry 170g plain flour 90g unsalted butter 45g caster sugar ¼ tsp vanilla paste 1 egg, for pastry 1 egg, for egg wash 20ml milk, for egg wash 22cm flan shell with removable bottom Almond cream (frangipane) 115g almond meal 115g caster sugar 2 eggs 100g unsalted butter ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste 25g plain flour 10g flaked almonds Poached quince – Prepare a day before 3 quinces 500g caster sugar 500ml…

Makes 1 large tart – Serves 6 Shortcrust Pastry It is okay to use a quality store-bought pastry but this recipe is quick, simple and well worth the extra effort! 200g plain flour Pinch of Murray River salt flakes 110g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled 2-3 tbsp ice cold water Method 1. Place the flour and salt in the food processor. With the motor running add the cold butter, one piece at a time; blend…

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 a selection of the finest European winter treats to help ward off the winter nasties and restore the soul. Mini Black Forest Cake with forest floor of chocolate soil, mascarpone…

Essentials has affectionately dubbed her Australia’s Goddess of Pie.  With this decadent hitlist of new specialty pie and tart recipes designed for the home cook, Kirsty Heather of Yarrawonga’s Cooper’s Handmade Pies has again delivered a collection of gems. She runs a thriving business that has grown from a shopfront bakery-café in Yarrawonga, in Victoria’s North East, to a statewide farmer’s market success with a gourmet pie delivery service. Now Kirsty’s new retail website has…

Serves 4 (makes about 30 gougères) 250ml water 165g unsalted butter 5g crushed black pepper 12g cooking salt 250g plain flour 10g nutmeg, freshly microplaned 4 free-range eggs 95g Gruyère cheese, finely grated 30g Parmesan cheese, finely grated 2 tbsp chopped chives Heat oven to 210C Method 1. Place water and butter in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, add salt and pepper. 2. Add the flour, stirring vigorously. This will cook the flour…

Tarte Fine aux Pommes – Fine Apple Tart  Serves 4-6  Puff pastry ¼ cup sliced almonds 2 granny smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced ¼ cup king river verjuice 40g butter 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped ¼ cup sugar Method 1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Place a baking tray into oven to heat. 2. Cut the pastry into a 22cm circle and place onto a greased sheet of baking paper. 3. Sprinkle pastry…