T_I_F has a new home

It’s taken almost a year and is far from complete, but TIF has finally launched at the new Australian domain of: infatuatedfoodie.com.au

I also have a new logo:


There’s not much that’s new on the site as yet, but I’ve been a busy bee working the corporate life in Melbourne again, so blogging and loving food has been light on the agenda.  That said, I’ll be adding new content, including recipes, musings and reviews of food and wine into the future.

So head on over and take a look.

Cheers xx


Chocolate coated candied orange peel

For about 10 years my husband has been sharing the story of making chocolate coated candied orange peel with his big sister Kathie.  So it’s something I’ve had on my kitchen to-do list every winter for a long time now.

Candied orange peel-finishedIt’s really something you can only do during winter, when navel oranges are at their best. Navels are my favourites and one of the very few things I really look forward to winter for. If you plan on making these, try to go the extra mile and source organically grown, unwaxed oranges.  I could grumble about fruit waxing again at this stage, but won’t. I’ve grumbled about that before and once is enough.

Last year I attempted to make them, but wasn’t terribly successful.  They weren’t awful, but were far too sweet and I ended up rinsing all the sugar coating off and soaking them in some whisky we had in the cupboard.  That worked rather well.  It infused an orange flavour to the whisky and the whisky soaked peels were used in ice-cream and a couple of other desserts I made up on the hop.

But they weren’t the ones of my husband’s memories.  And so another winter came and went without a batch of these sweet treats.

At a recent family member’s wedding I sat next to Kathie at the reception.  It was the perfect time to chat about Tony’s longstanding memory of her candied orange peels and I asked if she would share the recipe.  We had recently been given a lot of oranges from our new neighbours, who had an abundance of fruit on their tree and I thought it would be a great thing to do.

Although the neighbours’ fruit gift had been eaten and enjoyed, with it still winter there are still plenty of beautiful oranges around and I was able to source lovely fresh organic ones from a local market. It was time to meet this challenge! A bit nervously I might add, as I wanted Tony to be transported back to the lovely warm memory of his time making them with Kathie.

Although this recipe takes a few days to make, there is very little actual time involved in preparing them.  They spend quite a bit of time soaking, which I’m guessing is done to draw the bitterness out of the peels and turn them into chewy candies.  You could try to make them with a shorter brining time, I’m sure they’d still work.

I had plenty of oranges and doubled the recipe, using eight oranges instead of four.  I also doubled everything else and ended up with too much sugar syrup.

To use the extra sugar syrup and as an experiment, I did some really fine rind with a zester, which took very little time. I only brined these for an hour, then boiled, then drained and rinsed, then simmered in the sugar syrup straight away.

Candied orange peel-shredded peelCandied orange peel-shredded-sugared

They worked a treat and are crisp bites that I’ll use on a chocolate pudding of some sort over the weekend.

But enough chat, let’s make the original and the best ever candied orange peel with yummy chocolate coating.

Chocolate Coated Candied Orange Peel

Oranges_and_saltYou will need
4 organic, unwaxed oranges (okay, there are six in the picture)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt

Sugar syrup
1,1/4 cups water, extra
500 grams sugar

To finish
125 grams castor sugar
200 grams good quality dark chocolate

Cut the oranges in quarters and carefully peel away the fruit from the rind.  If the pith is too thick, remove a little but retain enough to keep the rinds firm and in shape.

Preparing peelsTrim the rinds and then cut into strips about 1/2 cm wide.

Dissolve the salt in the 2 cups of cold water and add the rinds to the bowl, making sure they’re all covered.  Cover and set aside for 48 hours.

Drain the rinds, then place in a saucepan with enough fresh water to cover.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender.  Remove from the heat, drain, place into a heatproof bowl.

Place the sugar and extra water in a pan and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes, then pour the syrup over the rinds. Cover and set aside for another 24 hours.

Post syrup boilThe next day, place rinds and syrup in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil and boil gently until the rinds are transparent.  The recipe suggests 20 minutes, but I found it took about 40 minutes to get them really glisteningly transparent.

Remove from the heat and strain.  The orange syrup can be kept for use in cocktails and other goodies if you want.

Preheat your oven to 120C – a slow oven is important, because you don’t want to burn the sugar.

Candied orange peel-sugaringToss the rinds in the caster sugar and spread in a single layer on an oven tray (or trays) and place in the slow oven to dry.  After about 30 minutes, turn the oven off, but leave the rinds in until completely dry and cool.

The rinds can now be eaten as they are, or coated in chocolate for real jaffa treats.

To chocolate coat

Candied orange peel-sugaredTake 200 grams of best quality couverture chocolate (or the best you can find) and break into a bowl.  Place over gently simmering water and melt, stirring occasionally.

Dip the orange rinds into the chocolate and using a knife, wipe the excess away.  Place on trays covered with parchment paper for the chocolate to set.

You can half cover with chocolate, or dip the whole thing.  It’s messy, but worth it.

Post script

Choc_coated_orange_peelThe real test of these rinds was my husband’s reaction when he tasted the finished, chocolate coated ones.

The verdict?


Happy days.

A bit of a break and a big move

It’s been a little while since I posted a new recipe or review or anything at all in my blog space.  It’s not that I haven’t cooked or eaten.  I have and I’ve also taken photos with the best intentions of sharing recipes. I’ve also eaten out at the Glass House Hobart (that I reviewed ages ago) and planned to write a review, but there are a few words below in lieu of a full review.

But there’s also been another pressing matter that took control of my life and is only now starting to smooth out.  My husband and I have packed up and moved back to Melbourne.  In fact, we sort of half moved, as we’re keeping our house in Tasmania as it needs to be finished, then either rented out or sold.

What’s especially exciting for me is that Melbourne is an exciting place for a foodie. Restaurants, markets and cafes everywhere, so I’ll be back blogging with bells on very soon.

In the meantime, I have a new Melbourne addiction.  Although I know it’s been around for a number of years I’d never actually tried a hot chocolate at Koko Black until last week. Ummmm.  Yummmm.

Kokoblack_chilihotchocolateI’ve taken a liking to the Royal Arcade store, which is a great spot for people watching from the windows upstairs.

I’ve tried three flavours to date: the plain Belgian (below), the chilli hot chocolate (at left) and hazelnut.

All are divine, silky, chocolatey smooth and served properly hot, as I like with hot chocolates.

KokoblackhotchocolateI’m inspired to try making it at home now, so I purchased some of their chocolate flakes and plan to do so soon.

I really must also do some baking and post a new recipe soon.  Happy days.  I love being home in Melbourne!

A word about Glass House Hobart – better late than never (no photos)

Note that Tony and I went to the Glass House a few months ago, so things might have changed a bit since then.  This is just our experience from then.

I mentioned above that my husband and I also did finally eat at The Glass House.  It was a while ago, back when Dark MoFo was on, but my focus has been so firmly eslewhere I just haven’t been able to write. You can read the review I wrote about the venue and its aims on The Tasmanian Times.

Now I’ve actually been there, I must say Tony and I both were very underwhelmed.  In a word, it seemed confused: not a restaurant, not a bar, not a dining room.

The large bar down the middle of the space that looked so great during the day just seemed like a barrier to the beauty outside the windows at night.

I was also disappointed by the lack of welcome from the staff I’d met previously and had, at the very least, expected GM Alex Watson to come to our table and say hi. It’s just courtesy in my book.  But he was notable by his absence and arrogance when I did go to say hello to him, which was to advise him that the bathroom was dirty and had no toilet paper. This lack of detail and care is remarkable in a place that’s purporting to be so high end.

In his defence, it was almost service time and no doubt he had work to do.  But two minutes to smile and acknowledge someone isn’t asking much and it demonstrates quiet professionalism as well.

The food we ordered was really nice, but not overwhelming and the plates were tiny. Despite the reserved restaurant seating area, it’s not serving meals, that’s for sure.  It’s also not snack food you’d expect to have with drinks, which isn’t such a bad thing. But once again, it’s confused – neither meals nor snacks.  It’s beautifully presented and delicious, but it’s confused.

Overall, I’d encourage you to check it out if you’re in Hobart as it’s in a great spot, but go somewhere else for dinner.

My advice to The Glass House would be to embrace beautiful dining options in the dining area; offer snacks with the lovely drinks to hand in the bar/lounge areas and lose the superior attitude.  It’s so 1980s.

Luscious lemon tart

Lemon tartThat’s right: luscious.  It’s tangy, smooth & creamy and the crust is a perfect bed for it all to rest in while it tempts you.  There’s no resisting.

Although I’ve made other lemon tart recipes a number of times, I felt like trying a new one. It was a tough decision between today’s recipe and another, French style tart using a lemon curd filling.  I do plan on making the curd one some other time.

So the one I went with is from the Great British Bake Off (you can watch how to make it on YouTube) and I made it as a celebration of my first real lemon crop from the tree I planted 2 years ago.  When I say crop, I mean there were half a dozen on the tree and what better way to make good use of this delectable and versatile fruit than one of my favourite things in the world.

Of course I had to tweak it a little.  My beautiful Lisbon lemons are quite large, plus very sharp and tangy, so I used the rind of two instead of the four that is called for in the YouTube vid.  The amount was perfect for this tart, but it’s ultimately your call.  If you like your face to screw up, then go for it.  I like my mouth to go zing but I find if too much goes in, it’s not balanced.  It needs balance, that’s for sure.

It’s also vital to use unwaxed lemons, so pick fresh from yours, or someone else’s tree if you can.  If not, then scrub them until you remove the wax. In fact, WHY IS FRUIT WAXED??? And why does fruit have stickers?? I guess it’s just another symptom of the ridiculous notion that fruit and veg must be perfectly formed and polished and if we’re not told it’s a lemon then we’re too dumb to work it out.

Grrrrr … bollocks to you, marketers and fresh produce distributors. Keep it natural and be responsible corporate citizens. You’re just creating lots of waste and poisoning us with your wax and chemical crap.

Rant over.

For the record, this recipe will be on my new blog when it’s launched.  One day.  Soonish. Working on it.

Let’s bake tart. Wonderful lemon tart.

You will need

For the pastry
175 g plain white flour
25 g pure icing sugar
100 g cold butter, cubed
1 free range egg yolk
1-2 tbsp ice-cold water

Grated lemon rindFor the tart filling
Zest of 2 or 3 unwaxed lemons, preferably organic
150 ml lemon juice
5 free range eggs
225 g caster sugar
125 ml double cream

First make the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200C non-fan / 180C fan forced

Place the flour, icing sugar and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water and blitz again until the pastry just comes together. Drip more water in if absolutely necessary but be careful – too much and it’ll be tricky to rescue.

Turn onto a clean work surface and knead lightly just until it’s smooth. Don’t overwork it!

Roll out to fit a 23cm fluted tart tray with a removable base. Press the pastry lightly into the fluted sides and prick all over with a fork or pastry roller. Leave any overhang for now – you’ll remove it after the cooking has started. Line the tray with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking weights or something similar, such as dry beans or chick peas.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully lift the paper with the weights out of the base. Trim the overhanging pastry off the sides. Any shrinkage should have already occurred, so you’ll now have a perfect base.

Continue to bake for another 10 minutes, until the case is lightly golden brown and just cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool

Tart filling

Ensure your oven is at 160 C non fan force / 140 C fan forced

Place the eggs and into a mixing bowl or large glass jug and whisk together until completely combined.

Add the cream and whisk again. The filling should be smooth and creamy when poured with no traces off egg separation.

Lemon_Tart_pre_bakedGently pour in the filling, which can be done on the bench or place on the oven rack first, then pour. This just prevents spillage if carrying from bench to oven.

Bake in your oven that’s been reset to the right temperature.

Test it after 30 minutes.

If it’s firm but still wobbly in the middle it’s perfectly cooked. If it’s runny, continue cooking another 5-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool in tin for at least 10 minutes before carefully removing*.

To serve

Drench with icing sugar, cut into wedges and pop onto a plate.

If you like, whip some fresh pouring cream with a dash of vanilla extract.  Blob it on the side.

*A tip to get your tart safely out of a removable base.  Place the cooled tin onto an upturned cup or bowl that’s broad enough to balance it.  Slide the tin off onto the bench, then you can just carefully lift the tart from the cup before easing gently onto a serving plate.  Be careful though – you don’t want it to tip over!

Lemon_Tart_01To get the stripes on top, all I did was cut a piece of paper into strips, sort of like making a paper lantern.  Fold it in half and just cut strips out, then unfold it and lay it on top of the tart.  Sprinkle icing sugar over the top through a fine sieve or tea strainer.  Get creative!  Cut a flower, polka dots … whatever.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy eating this marvellous and luscious lemon tart.

Bon Appetit!

The Glass House Hobart reviewed

decanter_with_viewA couple of weeks ago I went to Hobart’s new dining bar, The Glass House, and spoke with General Manager Alex Watson and Executive Consultant Chef Ikuei Arakane, aka Kin San, about the venue.

It’s been published today at The Tasmanian Times and you can read it if you click below:

reviewed: the glasshouse

I’ll also be adding the full text on my new website, which is only a week or two away from being published, with all new recipes and sections.

The pic to the right is just a view teaser.

Enjoy! xx

Chocolate & Coconut brownies

On Saturday, when I was cooking with my gorgeous grand daughter Ava we didn’t get time to make these.  So today, feeling like baking, I whipped up a batch.

Brownies_close_upThe recipe is incredibly easy, quick and delicious.  The trick to retain moisture is don’t overcook them.  They’re sort of cakey and slicey.  Rich too.

I’m going to feature this recipe on my new website and blog, which is currently in development. Watch out for progress on that, but it’s going to be an all new site, with recipes you can print or PDF.

Here we go! Let’s bake brownies.

You will need

150 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain (all purpose) flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3/4 cup desiccated coconut (preferably organic and preservative free)

For the icing

1 1/2 cups cups soft icing mixture*
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
20 grams butter, softened and chopped finely
2 tablespoons boiling water, plus extra drops if required
About a dessertspoon of desiccated coconut, for the top

Time to bake

  1. Prepare a 20cm square slice tray by greasing and lining with baking paper. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 160 C fan-forced
  2. Brownies_slicedMelt the butter and allow to cool slightly
  3. Place the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and add the butter and vanilla. Mix well, then stir in the lightly beaten egg. Stir until well combined
  4. Sift together the flours and cocoa, then add to the butter/sugar mixture along with the coconut and stir until well combined
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until coming away from the sides of the tin slightly
  6. Make the chocolate icing by sifting the icing sugar and cocoa into a medium size bowl. Add the butter, then pour the boiling water over. Mix well until smooth, adding extra water, drop by drop, if required for a smooth spreading consistency
  7. Spread the icing over the slice while still hot and sprinkle with coconut if you wish. Set aside to cool completely in the pan
  8. Cut into pieces and serve


In Australia soft icing mixture is sugar and maize starch, so I guess the closest thing in the US would be powdered sugar.  If you don’t have that, try pure icing sugar instead, although I can’t vouch for it as I’ve never used it for this recipe.

What is food to you?

When I think of food, I think of good times with friends, shared meals and laughter.  So when friends say to me they think of food simply as fuel – you know, the stuff you have to put in your car to make the engine run and not much more – then I feel a bit sad for them.

For me, food is part of so many of the good things about life – memorable moments. Okay, there’s no denying first and foremost, food is necessary sustenance and I’m very lucky I can choose what I eat to remain nourished and healthy.  My ethos, however has always been that if I have to eat, then I might as well enjoy what I eat.  Consequently, I’ve also always taken an interest in food and over the years, have learned to cook very well.

Think of it like this:

Food brings us together.  It’s for sharing, laughter, families, love.  It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, there’s more than likely food involved.

New love often involves food. How many romantic proposals take place at a lovely restaurant over a beautiful meal with champagne?  Quite a few I’d guess.  There’s even romantic comedy movie proposals, with a ring being presented in some sort of food or food serving platter and it’s eaten by accident – or by a dog – but it’s always retrieved and there’s a usually happy outcome.

Food is about cooking together.

Ava_cooking_blurI love cooking with my grand daughter, Ava.  In fact, we made biscuits together just the other day.

We mixed up the butter and sugar, then added the eggs, one at a a time – Ava on a stool and adding the ingredients I’d helped her measure out.  We rolled the biscuit dough and she pressed it, then made the dents for the jam. We then put the jam in the centres – one tray each.

I forgot to take photos of the finished products before they were packed up for them to take home for her school lunches during the week.

But that’s not the most important part of cooking together.  We had quality time and teaching her to cook is something that will stay with her for life.

Back in my childhood I remember times when my Mum was sick a neighbour or relatives would bring us food.  A casserole or cake.  Once we were given a pumpkin pie – a real American style pumpkin pie with the canned kind of pumpkin I’d never seen before (and didn’t see then, because we were given the pie, not the canned pumpkin).  It was amazing. Delectable.  My Dad loved it too.  Being American, it took him right back home to the States for the fleeting moments we shared it.

That’s the other thing about food.  You often remember experiences, such as travel and other events, that are related to meals and food.

When we were doing up our first house to move into in Melbourne, our Turkish neighbours would pass us freshly made büreks or sweet pastries and other goodies over the fence to keep our spirits up.  It was winter, we had to gut our house then rebuild it, so these treats were a blessing. After we moved in, if we ever visited, we would always be greeted with tea and sweets, plus a sprinkling of rosewater on our hands. The hospitality in their home always involved food.

ExhibitionFlavours and cooking smells can transport you back to childhood or to a place you visited. Food is memories and occasions – weddings, wakes, christenings and birthdays.

The photo to the right is at my brother in law’s 50th birthday feast, where many friends and family came together to celebrate over a shared meal. His mother even flew out from Ireland to join in.

I love the thought of cooking with a bunch of Nonnas and Mamas for a village celebration, dished out on massive plates for sharing at huge tables, filled with smiling people of all ages.

It’s the chatter and laughter and focus on providing goodness that I’d enjoy, plus the cooking of course. Just the thought of the stories and experiences – both food and life related – makes me smile.

One day, perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to do that.

So, do you still think of food purely as fuel?  Hopefully not – food is joy and happiness and, when so many people in this world die from malnutrition and don’t even have fresh water to drink, just remember how blessed you are to have the luxury of good food and all it represents in our lives.

Then tell me food is just fuel.