Category Archives: Fire Up the Rayburn

The modern woman loves to cook. But sometimes she loves to burn as well.

Get in on my tart action!

No seriously, you’ll want to.

So here’s the story. My friend has started hardcore fundraising for the RSPCA. She bakes sweet treats and sells them at our place of work and donates all the proceeds to the charity. As I love ‘fluffies’ as one of my friends put it, and baking, I volunteered my services.


  • 150g melted butter
  • 240g plain flour
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 20g butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Preheat oven to 180C.

This recipe works really well if you have digital scales and silcon tartlet cases. If you don’t have 12 tartlet cases (silcon or otherwise) you can use a silcon muffin tray.

In a bowl mix melted butter, flour and sugar. Stir until it combines. Divide into 12 portions. There is no need to rest, knead or roll out this dough.

If using individual tart cases, shape each portion into a ball, place in the middle of the tart case and start pushing out the pastry in a circular movement until it covers the entire base. If using the silcon muffin tray, it will take a bit longer to work up the sides and go about halfway. Make sure its not too thin. Bake for 12-15 mins.

To make filling combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a pan over low heat. Stir until smooth and slightly golden. Do not boil.

Fill cases with hot caramel and return to the oven for 5 mins or until caramel browns around the top.

Cool completely before removing from cases. Eat, indulge, smile, happy.

A sweet tart is always worth the effort.


Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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Pear & Apple Paste – Make Your Own Fruit Cheese

If you love a good cheese platter…then don’t stop reading!

For Christmas last year I decided to make some pear and apple paste or fruit cheese. Along the same lines as quince paste, you know, the stuff you serve with a nice strong cheddar or blue cheese? At the time, I didn’t think it was such a great success but still gave it to my nearest and dearest. Little did I know, it would turn out to be such a hit. But more of that later…now on to the making.

A gift of apples...

I was lucky enough to be given a bag full of homegrown apples from my friends tree. She even picked them and delivered them to my door. Thanks Mrs B. She said they were not great eating apples but were fantastic cooking apples. I thought about making my own apple pies or maybe some apple sauce but then I remembered  that how great the paste was.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1kg cooking apples (granny smith or the generous friend kind)
  • 1kg firm pears (the green ones not the brown ones)
  • 1kg caster sugar
  • 500g water
  • 1 clove
  • preserving wax (sold in preserving or home-brew stores)
  • small serving pots

You will need to peel, chop and core the apples and the pears. I did this by hand the first time but it took forever. This time, another good friend of mine lent me her little apple peeler thing and it worked an absolute treat!

Apple peeling the easy way.

Works for pears too.

Put the chopped apples and pears into a big pot with the water. Simmer away for about 12-15 mins. Once softened, removed the clove and push through a sieve or blitz in the food processor to get a fine consistency. Measure out the fruit. The recipe says use 750g sugar to 1kg fruit. But I say do it to your taste buds. The first time I used 1kg sugar and yeah, it was sweet but tasted great with strong cheese. This time I forgot to weigh my fruit so guessed and put 750g sugar in.

Return to the heat and bring to the boil and then simmer for 50 mins or until fruit thickens and becomes glossy. Now be careful at this stage because it gets really thick and looks like a volcano erupting. I think its best if you half cover it with a lid. I did sustain a hot apple lava bomb to the face last time.

Its a hot fruit volcano.

Once its cooked out, turn off the heat. Oil your little dishes with some spray or wipe with olive oil. Spoon the mixture in to the pots but leave about 1cm at the top to put on the wax. And make sure there are no high spots, it will make it hard when trying to cover with the wax.

Use lots of different dishes or the same. It really looks good in little espresso cups.

Melt your preserving wax as per the instructions and spoon over the hot fruit. Leave to set. You can then store them in your pantry for up to a year they say. Of course, mine won’t last that long. And I kept mine in the fridge. But that’s up to you. When ready to eat, run a knife around the wax seal and it should pop off.

It takes 3 days for the fruit to set. And last time I tried it at the 3 day mark. And that’s why I thought I failed. It tasted like overly sweet baby food. However, about 6 weeks later I had one lonely pot left so I took it on a trip to visit my little bro. Fearing the worst, we popped the wax seal and tried it. It was DELICIOUS! So that’s the trick, you need to let them sit for at least 6 weeks to develop in flavour. We thoroughly enjoyed it with a kick ass cheese plate.

I know it seems like a lot of trouble, but really it’s not. And because it lasts for such a long time, you could make one big batch a year. Now…will I be able to wait 6 weeks for this lot?

Ooooh la la...the finished product.


Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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Post Script – Chocolate Fondue

This morning I published a post about my desperate need to consume chocolate laced with more chocolate. It was pure chocolate madness….madness I tell you!

Then at lunch I shared my blog link with my Facebook buddies saying :

I thought the week so far was bad…it has nothing on today. Considering going into a chocolate induced coma… (Who says everything is good in moderation?)

I got my wish.

This afternoon my friend decided to do chocolate fondue for afternoon tea. We decadently dipped banana, raspberries and pineapple into dark and silky molten chocolate. I’d love to say I looked like one of those gorgeous models who makes eating such things look glamorous. Instead I probably looked like a 5-year-old with chocolate smeared all over my face and hands. Mmmmmm….chocolate.

There was so much left over melted chocolate (melted and mixed with cream I forgot to mention) that I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste. So I heated up some milk and placed several large spoonfuls of said luxury into my cup. Mix, drink, gurgle with pleasure.

What was left of my ultra chocolatey gorge-fest.

I hate to say it but I think that sent me over the edge. Now I feel it was less of a fondue and more of a fondon’t. I’m seriously finding it hard to breathe as my dress seems unnaturally tight. My heart is racing from all the sugar, and now, the inevitable is starting to happen. I’m crashing.

It certainly was a wild ride on the cocoa bean express.


Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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Who says everything is good in moderation?

I cannot have chocolate in my house.

It doesn’t just stay there and get nibbled at every now and then. It gets devoured in one sitting. In a ravenous flurry of the hands and the face and the licking of the lips. But this week hasn’t been that stella. In fact its been downright crumby. So I’ve been craving the sweet calming influence of over processed sugar and cocoa butter.

It was my Facebook status on Sunday night.

It was my whinging to my husband Monday night.

It was my emphatic declaration to my friend in a text that I was going to go to the shops and buy some on Tuesday.

But I didn’t do it.

Yesterday reached fever pitch in terms of choclate cravings. I needed it baaaaaad! So instead of going the sensible, small chocolate bar, restraint and moderation route. I was reduced to this. Double chocolate chip, chocolate icecream with extra chocolate. And red wine (for added indulgence).

Don’t judge me.

Pure over indulgence...


Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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Pump Up the Jam (Drop)

Just a quick one today. I feel a sudden lack of postal inspiration. I’m not sure if my unfocused ramblings are really the way to go. But maybe they are….and here I am, debating it, with myself. Stop talking now Jen.

On Sunday I was scheduled to do my second round of summer photography sessions. But it was raining. I don’t like to curse the rain because Australia suffered a horrendous drought a few years back and we were begging for it. In saying that, we’ve had devastating floods the last year or so too. It seems we can never find a happy balance. Anyway…getting off track much?

The sessions were cancelled which meant a free afternoon for me! Yay! I put a stew on to cook which would bubble away for the next several hours. I made a whole bunch of cards to send to people (just because) and I decided to make jam drops using my homemade jam.

So here is the recipe which is super easy and the result is somewhere between a melting moment biscuit and a jam donut. I had to beat my husband away with a stick to save them from being eaten in one go so I guess they were ok.


  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 190g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
  • Plain flour, to dust
  • Small amount of any firm set jam (if you use a runny jam it will bleed all over your biscuit. Ewww)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (170°C fan). Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric beater to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a medium bowl until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Sift flour over the butter mixture and stir until combined.
  2. Use lightly floured hands to roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls. Place on the prepared trays, about 5cm apart. Use a lightly floured finger to make an indentation in the centre of each ball. Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam into the centre of each biscuit.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, swapping trays halfway through cooking, or until the biscuits are cooked through and light golden. Remove biscuits from the oven. Set aside on trays for 30 minutes to cool completely.

Excuse the grainy picture but like I said, I used one hand to beat back the hoards and the other to take a quick snap with my iPhone. Life in a bakers kitchen can be brutal friends.


Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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When you realise cheese is evil.

I actually feel sorry for cheese. On one hand it’s so delicious, no one can resist it. On the other hand, it tries to kill you. I’m sure it feels torn between delighting you and murdering you.

I’m a self-confessed lover of cheese….love it. However I’ve been told dairy does NOT agree with my blood type. (Huh?) I’m sure when I look at a piece of cheese it’s not saying…

“Hey fellas, look! That chick has A positive blood. Wait until she takes a bite, then we’ll exact our revenge. Mwahhahahaaa!” 

Last night I was making dinner. (Monday night’s dinner is hardly exciting.) And as I was rushing around, I dumped a huge lot of grated cheese into my dish. “So?” I hear you saying. Well it happens my usual happy, let me delight you cheese had turned on me. It was peppered with tiny spores of destruction.

Don’t get me wrong, during my very poor London living days, I was known for scraping off tiny spots of mould on my bread to have some toast. And it didn’t kill me. But I figured I couldn’t really justify mixing it into my dish when I had a perfectly good fresh bag of cheese in the fridge. So I managed to remove said murderous plot from our dinner.

Despite its continual attempts at making me sick, grossing me out and letting me down, I still love you cheese. You will never turn my love for you.


Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure, Fire Up the Rayburn


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Its Blackberry Hunting Season.

Today is Sunday.

When I woke up this morning, I opened the door and the air smelled impossibly sweet. Its times like that which make me wonder if I’ve ever really smelt the air before. And if I did, I’m sure it never smelt that good. It made me believe I could achieve anything.

Fast forward 5 hours and husband and I are lying on the couch in a boredom coma. So much for impossibly sweet-smelling high-achieving air! So we headed out to a friend’s place to pick blackberries for my jam. Now…here’s the lowdown on blackberry picking. Do not attempt if you are afraid of the following:-

  • Getting cut, scratched or embedded with prickles;
  • Spiders;
  • Long grass;
  • Long grass with the possibility of running into a snake;
  • Flying blackberries (Dan); and
  • Stained fingers.

If not, then you’re good to go.

Now everyone has their own jam recipe. This is my fourth attempt at jam making and each time my recipe has been different. It also depends on the fruit your using. And as some of my friends and I will be entering our jams in an upcoming show, I can’t give too many secrets away. But, I try to stick to natural ingredients (no sugar setting or artificial pectin), I use lemon pips in muslin, skim the scum as it rises during the cooking process and use the best quality fruit you can find (or buy).

If you really would like a recipe, email me and I’ll send you one.

In the end, it took us about an hour to pick 2.5kg of fruit. And then maybe a lazy hour of making the jam. I find skimming the scum very therapeutic.

My favourite part…putting little material hats on the jars at the end. They look too cute. Oh, and the eating the jam bit. Once you’ve made your own, the store-bought stuff just doesn’t cut it. If you’ve ever wanted to try making your own, give it a go. Its heaps easier than you think and your tummy will thank you for it!


Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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Get your hot nuts here!

These nuts will change your life. Its a big statement but absolutely warranted. I guarantee once you have tried them, you will feel that every other nut you eat in your life will be totally inferior. Full stop, end of story.

Hot Spicy, Salty, Sweety Nuts

  • 500g raw almonds
  • 4 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder (more if you like it hot hot hot)
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • spray oil

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. In a large pan, heat honey with chilli powder until warm. Mix in almonds until well coated with honey mixture. Spread over a tray lined with baking paper. (Trust me when I say do NOT forgo the baking paper). Bake in oven for 15-20 mins. Keep your eye on them.

Take them out of the oven and let cool slightly. In a big bowl mix together salt and sugar. I actually double this mixture because I’m greedy and like them extra sweet and extra salty. Toss warm nuts through the sugar/salt mix until well coated. Spread out on another tray to cool completely.

Eat and enjoy. I actually think they have extraordinary health benefits too. I.e. Almonds = good source of protein. Honey = low GI. Chilli powder = aids digestion. Salt = good for leg cramps. Sugar = everyone needs a little sweetening up.  Ok, so I lost it a bit at the end but they taste awesome so…


Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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The Lone Zucchini

What do you do with a single zucchini? I recently ended up with a gorgeous looking yellow zucchini and two big beautiful beetroots from my bro’s garden. Not feeling adventurous to try them together for a Monday night dinner, I just went with a tried and true favourite, the Zucchini Slice. I paired my Lone Ranger Yellow, with two friendly green guys. This probably isn’t the healthiest slice but it tastes good, its easy and it always works. Plus there’s always lots left over for lunches.

Zucchini Slice

  • 375g zucchini, grated
  • 3 bacon rashes or 4 slices ham
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 5 eggs
  • salt and pepper

Coarsley grate unpeeled zucchini, trimming ends. Chop bacon finely. Combine zucchini, bacon, onion, cheese, flour, oil and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a well-greased lamington pan (20 x 30 cm). I use a glass Pyrex one. It doesn’t say to but I top mine with a bit more cheese or breadcrumbs. Tonight I was feeling particular ooh la la and used Panko breadcrumbs. They worked a treat. Bake in moderate oven for 30-40 mins or until browned. Serves 4-6 (or one modern woman and her husband with leftovers).

P.S. Did you notice how many times I used the word “zucchini”? I did, its 9.



Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn


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