Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chocolate Brownies

I made these brownies for a recent family catch-up.  The original recipe is from the Taste website but I have tweaked it a bit.

Some things to note:
  • The mix looked unappetising as I was making it as the pictures show quite well!  Whilst this worried me slightly at the time it was not an indication of the end result.
  • The recipe is gluten free but out of the 10 people who had it for dessert only 1 was gluten intolerant and everyone liked it.
  • The gluten free flour could easily be replaced with normal flour.  
  • I made these brownies a couple of hours in advance so quickly reheated individual slices in the microwave for 30 seconds or so before serving. 

Not looking very appetising at this stage

Still not pretty!

The finished product - much prettier and definitely delicious!

Chocolate Brownies


  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 190°C 
  2. Line a square baking tin with non-stick baking paper so that the paper overlaps the sides.
  3. Melt the butter, chocolate and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Sift the flour and cocoa over the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Stir through the walnuts.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking tin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set.  
  6. Cut into squares and serve with cream or ice cream and fruit.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bistro Flor - MFWF Restaurant Express

Bistro Flor
555 Nicholson St
Carlton North 3068

Last weekend I enjoyed a restaurant express lunch at Bistro Flor in North Carlton. A cute little corner restaurant it has plenty of appeal.  At 12pm on a sunny Saturday our group of three had the restaurant to ourselves.  The service was good, attentive but not intrusive.

The MFWF restaurant express lunch consists of two courses, a glass of wine and tea or coffee for $35.  At Bistro Flor a choice of two entrees, mains and desserts was offered.


Buxton smoked trout pâté, horseradish cream and caper berries

We began by sharing the two entrees.  The trout pate was nice enough however the horseradish cream was very bland - no discernible horseradish flavour.  The toast was burnt and had a distinct charcoal taste but was quickly replaced when we pointed this out.

Yarra Valley zucchini flowers, eggplant stuffing and harissa

The beautiful stuffed zucchini flowers were definitely the pick of the entrees.  Delicious.

Pan fried John Dory filets, nut and grain salad, orange marmalade

The Fish of the Day was John Dory fillets.  The fish was well cooked and the accompanying grain and nut salad gave a lovely crunchy contrast.  A little bit more of the orange sauce would have been good.

Confit Wimmera duck leg, sautéed spinach, peach relish

The duck was very nice and the peaches beautifully fresh.

Eton Mess with Victorian strawberries
The Eton Mess was delicious.  The gorgeous strawberries a highlight.  

Bistro Flor on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

P M 24 - MFWF Restaurant Express

P M 24
24 Russell Street
Melbourne 3000

I have wanted to try PM24's famed rotisserie chicken for quite awhile now.  Unfortunately, this was not part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Restaurant Express lunch menu.  Which, just means that I will have to make a return visit, which will not be a hardship!

Philippe Mouchel’s French Bistro and Rotisserie is in a beautiful warehouse space, with tall ceilings, large windows and beautiful light fittings whilst still retaining a cosy, traditional bistro feel.


The MFWF restaurant express lunch consists of two courses, a glass of wine and tea or coffee for $35. A refreshing Pinot Grigio and warm sourdough rolls in a cute fabric sack was a nice start. 

There was a choice of two entrees, two mains and dessert or cheese.  I had an entree and main, whilst my friend L had a main and dessert.  

Organic chicken liver terrine, toasted sourdough, onion jam and salad

The onion jam was the highlight of my entree.  Beautiful, sticky and moreish!

Daube of duck leg, Paris mash and vegetables

Tasmanian salmon & silver beet polenta, red wine jus and beetroot

The duck and salmon were beautiful - perfectly cooked and delicious. 

Apple Mirliton, pistachio ice cream

Dessert tasted as good as it looked.

The service was excellent.  Even though we were the first lunch sitting, (12 -1.15), and lingered over good coffee, we didn't feel rushed.

As the man himself farewelled us I was already planning my return visit.  My anticipation for the chicken has grown even more!

PM24 on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mt Martha

I love the Mornington Peninsula and try to spend some time there every summer.  This year it was just a short break in Mt Martha.  Normally a trip to this region would be full of delicious food, (and wine), highlights but alas, not this time.  The exception being the delicious vanilla slices in Sorrento.  Here are a few shots highlighting the beauty of the area. 

Iconic Mt Martha beach boxes


A secret hideaway

Vanilla Slice from ..

London Bridge, Portsea


Friday, March 2, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

This delicious soup is adapted from a Donna Hay recipe and it is so easy!  The pumpkin roasts in its skin!!  This has been life altering for me as I hate cutting pumpkin!  The scars on my fingers attest to this!  Once the pumpkin is cooked you blend it with chicken stock.  That’s it - very simple.  I adapted this recipe to make it more low calorie but it is easy to find the original on the internet.  The original adds cream, honey and sour cream.  Delicious but not as diet friendly as this version.  I find a little swirl of skim milk is sufficient to thin the soup out and create a nice 'creamy' consistency.

Before ..

After ..

The finished soup reheating

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4


  • 2 halves butternut pumpkin
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil or olive oil spray
  • sea salt, ground black pepper
  • 3 - 4 cups chicken stock
  • Skim milk or cream
  • Curry Powder (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C
  2. Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin halves
  3. Place the pumpkin and onion on a baking tray
  4. Drizzle with oil or spray with olive oil spray (less calories!) and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Bake for about an hour or until the pumpkin is soft and starting to brown. Once it has cooled scoop the pumpkin out into a blender
  6. Scoop the onion flesh away from its skin and add to the blender
  7. Add chicken stock and blend until smooth and the consistency you like - (Sometimes I add some curry powder at this step for extra flavour)
  8. Pour the mixture into a saucepan, add skim milk or cream if using and gently heat
** If you use gluten free stock this soup is suitable for people who are gluten intolerant