Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Chocolate from Tasmania

My friend Luke has been working in Tasmania and was lucky enough to fall upon Anvers Chocolates. Anvers are based in Devonport, at the top end of Tasmania. Their reputation for producing chocolate is second to none.

So I was very pleased when Luke offered me some Fortunato No. 4 chocolate. This is something special, really special. This is made from a strain of cacao, recently found in Peru, which was thought to be extinct. So this is truly something rare.

'This is a very complex, powerful chocolate … it's like no other,'' says Van Gerwen, owner and chief chocolatier at the House of Anvers, in Latrobe, Tasmania.

My only problem is that the chocolate looks so pretty that I really don't want to eat it. I keep salivating at the thought of a box of rich chocolate sitting in my kitchen cupboard but then I go look at it and I can't bring myself to open it. Have you ever had that experience? How can I tell you how good it is if I don't open it?

Take a look at this - see what I mean. It looks amazing and I don't want to open the packaging.

OK you have convinced me!

I have taken a small bite - it's very smooth, it's very rich and it's very dark. Add a cup of coffee and I believe it is the most beautiful combination of flavours.

Thank you Luke, and thanks to the House of Anvers. I can see a trip to Tasmania is imminent.

In line with my new eating regime, I will definitely be sharing this with a few good friends, but I might hold back one more tiny piece for myself.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Pancakes on Tuesday

Did you know that 'Shrove Tuesday' also known as Pancake Day, is this Tuesday 17th February. If you have never heard of it then don't worry, I will explain what it is all about.

"Shrove Tuesday is a day in February or March, preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. Pancake Day was a originally a Pagan holiday. Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasised eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs." From Wikipedia

I have fond memories of my mother making pancakes and watching as she flipped the pancakes high into the air to turn them over. Salivating, as we waited patiently until she had slipped them onto a plate, laced them with sugar and lemon and handed them around. We loved pancake day at our house.

I kept the tradition of Pancake Day alive when my children were younger and we had a lot of fun messing about in the kitchen. I can remember flipping them high into the air and the excitement as they landed square back in the fry pan, well most of the time. If I missed there would be lots of laughter and a scrambling to clean up the mess, before our dog Donny got there.

Here is my recipe for making traditional pancakes, just like my mum used to make - but I have a few surprises to add to the mix.


This made 6 beautifully thin pancakes


140 plain flour
200 milk or butter milk
100 ml water
2 eggs
25g butter melted + 1 tablespoon extra
pinch salt

250 g light cream cheese
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and gently beat into the flour . Add the water and milk together and carefully mix into the eggs and flour until you have a thin smooth batter with all the flour incorporated.

Set aside for at least 30 minutes, then beat in the 25grams of melted butter.

Grease a non stick frypan with extra butter and heat on a low heat.

Add a ladle full of the pancake mixture, cooking for around 45 seconds each side. Use a spatula to turn them over, or if you want to experiment, try flipping the pancake.

Continue to make the rest of the pancakes, placing the cooked ones on to a plate separated by baking paper. 

(You can make this step ahead of time. Cover with cling wrap and keep in fridge until ready to use.)


Mix cream cheese, egg, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth.

Take each pancake, place a dollop of filling in the centre and fold over four sides so they look like little parcels.

Place them in a single layer in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with caster sugar and cinnamon and bake in oven temp 160º fan forced for 15 - 20 minutes.

Serve with a compote of fruit, raspberries, blueberries and apples, cream or ice cream and a squeeze of lemon.

Check out my recipe for Cider and Apples. These are a really good accompaniment for these pancakes too.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Spiced Pear and Apple Muffins

  • I have promised myself that this is the last batch of muffins I am going to make for one month! Why? Because it is time to kick in my New Year's Resolution! I've waited until February for this.

  • Are you one of those people that manages to break their resolutions on January 1st? or are you a die hard, true to your word, amazingly resolute person?
 How is it possible to battle the bulge when you have a great plate of deliciously spicy muffins staring at you every time you go to the fridge or freezer. So for one month I declare my place to be cake, muffin and dessert free (unless it is very,very low calorie) so I can get back to my intermittent fasting.

Don't get me wrong; most of the sweetness in these muffins comes from the fruit, but it is so very tempting to scoff more than enough for ones good.  If you have resolve - can withstand the temptation, then I think you should make at least one batch. Call a friend, visit your neighbours or have yourself a delicious morning get together. Whichever way you choose to share these, I am absolutely certain they will be a definite hit.

  • Spiced Pear and Apple Muffin

  • Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 180ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 60g  light soft brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 300g  self raising flour
  • 1tsp rounded, ground ginger
  • 1tsp rounded, ground cinnamon
  • 1 large cooking apple (Granny Smith) peeled and diced
  • 1 - 2 pears peeled and diced
  • 100ml  maple syrup - optional
This made 12 good sized muffins

Preheat oven to 200°C, fan 180°C/ 350 º Line a muffin tray with paper muffin cases or you can cut up baking paper and line the muffin pan.
Using a whisk, beat egg in a large bowl with the oil and milk. Add the two sugars and whisk until dissolved.

Sift flour, ginger and cinnamon into another bowl. Add the diced apples and pears to the flour mixture and stir through.

Use a wooden spoon, combine the egg mixture with the flour, ginger, cinnamon and fruit. Fill the muffin cases two thirds full and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through.

 Transfer to a cooling rack. You can either leave the muffins to cool down completely or if you decide to use Maple Syrup, take a skewer or tooth pick and prick holes in the top of each muffin, while they are still warm. Trickle maple syrup over each muffin allowing it to sink through the holes and into the centre. Leave to cool or eat while still warm.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Gym and More Gym**

I have nothing to say except that I hurt a lot!
My new training regime has kicked in and I am sore but happy.
Three gym sessions a week at The Recreation Centre, Blackwood. This involves Interval Training on the bike and stair running as well as weights and core work. I think I am getting stronger and fitter and I will have to put that to the test soon because I need to get out and walk before the daily temperatures gets back into the high 30's which is way too hot for me to walk any distance.

It has been reported that I woke up one morning recently and said, "I found these big lumps on my legs today, I have never noticed them before. OMG I think they might be muscles" So obviously, something is working. 

But I do have days when I can't face exercising! Do you  have days like this?

4 Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated

  1. 1. Wear a pedometer. Bit by bit, increase your daily steps. Keep it up until you reach 10,000 steps a day.
  2. 2. Keep a walking journal. Whether you journal online or with pen and paper, it's motivating to see your progress. 
  3. 3. Get a walking partner. "A walking or gym buddy provides accountability. Neither wants to let the other person down."
  4. 4. Sign up for a race or charity walk. An upcoming event gives you a goal to aim for, which may motivate you to stick with a program.
After not losing weight, well it's a bit hard when I keep experimenting with cake recipes - (check out www.postcardstofrance.blogspot.com.au if you want to read my other blog) I have decided to cut out a lot of carbs and to try and add more protein to my diet - thats hard when you are vegetarian.

Introducing soy and coconut milk smoothies with added vegan protein powder and a variety of fruit is a great source of protein. It helps to fill you up, and is useful after a gym work out or long walk. 

I am trying hard to get my weight to what I consider is me! I actually saw a book in the library today called "Think Yourself Thin" If only that worked for me : ) 

I have added the phone app Couch to 5k. Evidently if you follow the program to a tee it enables you to build up to be able to run 5 kms in a short amount of time. I might end up walking most of it but I am giving it a try tomorrow. My longest walk last week was 14kms. I hurt quite a lot after that but with some good stretching I pulled up quite well after it.

I am way behind my training schedule, but yesterday I bought goggles and a kick board, so it is off to the pool for some leg strengthening exercises next week. if you see a mildly crazy woman in the local pool, powering out laps with a wee blue kick board - get out of the way, I mean business!

Happy walking!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Pear and Almond Dessert

Dropped in to collect some fruit from one of our local growers yesterday, Magarey Orchards. I picked up some lovely plums, exceptionally sweet and perfect for making jam. Once I started to cut them up I was quite overcome by their amazing colour and fragrance.

Also, there were some good looking apples and pears which I had in mind for chutney or pickle. But then my daughter and I spent a few hours making Plum Leather and dried plums. And I also made a batch of Plum and Cinnamon Jam, so I was all out of puff and decided to put chutney on hold.

I decided instead to settle on this lovely pear dessert. It has a nice gingery sauce on the bottom with a fruity cake topping - how can you resist this?

There is something really nice and flavoursome about this dessert and I have often cooked it in winter but today I am wondering if it might be an interesting dessert to eat cold - something I have never tried.

I  also whipped up some Spiced Pear Muffins, and I will include this recipe in my very  next post. Keep a look out later in the week!

Pear and Almond Dessert



11/4 cup S R Flour
180g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flaked almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 large ears, peeled and sliced thickly


2 tablespoons caster sugar
30g butter
2 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoon custard powder
11/4 cup milk

Make the sauce first. 

In a small saucepan, mix caster sugar, ginger and custard powder with a little of the milk to form a smooth paste. Add the rest of the mix and on a low heat, heat until the custard thickens. Beat in the butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs, one at a time and mix in thoroughly. add vanilla essence.

In a separate bowl, add flour, caster sugar, and almond meal. Mix the wet mixture into the flour and continue to mix until the flour is completely incorporated.

In a greased oven proof container, around 8 cup size,  spread custard sauce. Then add the pears in a single layer. Spoon over the 'cake' mixture and spread evenly over the custard. Take the flaked almonds and sprinkle generously all over the topping.

Cook in a preheated  moderate oven 180 º for approximately 1 hour until the top is nicely browned. Using a skewer, insert into the middle of the cake mixture and if it comes out cleanly, then dessert is ready. 

Serves 6 people