Spinach, Leek and Feta Tart

This savoury tart is a delicious and easy way to eat your greens. I always associate it with spring picnics (which it is perfect for!) but it is also a great midweek meal or work/school lunch.

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Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
200g Greek feta, crumbled
1 leek
20g butter
160g baby spinach leaves
½ cup sour cream
½ cup thickened cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC. Cut the leek in half and thinly slice the white and pale green part to achieve 1 cup full.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and lightly sauté the leek over a medium heat for 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add spinach to the saucepan, cover and cook until wilted. Take off the heat and then press leaves into a strainer to remove excess moisture.

In a bowl, combine sour cream, cream and eggs. Add the feta, leek, spinach and basil. Stir will and season to taste.

Line a non-stick rectangular quiche pan (35cm x 13cm) with the two pieces of pastry, overlapping slightly, and gently push the pieces together in the middle to seal the pastry case. Trim excess pastry. Lightly prick the pastry base with a fork and place the quiche pan onto an oven tray.

Bake the pastry case for 50-10mins until it has started to colour and puff.

Pour in prepared filling and bake for 30-35mins until firm and golden in the centre.

Remove from baking tray and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Baker’s Secret

Apple Pie

This year, in honour of Pi Day tomorrow (14th March, 3.14 – nerdy I know!), I made my first latticed apple pie. Heading into Autumn, apples are particularly sweet and delicious and they really shine in this pie. I’ve kept flavouring simple and traditional with just a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the apples. I used red apples because that’s what we had in the house, but it would work well with granny smith apples as well (but you may want to add in a little more sugar). Happy baking!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
Pastry
1⅔ cups plain flour
1 tblspn caster sugar
¼ tspn baking powder
180g cold butter, chopped
⅓ cup iced water
1 tspn vanilla extract

5 apples peeled, cored and chopped
1 ½ tblspns lemon juice
⅓ cup caster sugar
4 tspns cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tblspns almond meal
1 egg, lightly beaten
Caster sugar, extra

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Method
To make the pastry, place the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, add the water and vanilla and process until it comes together and forms a smooth dough. Wrap in Gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While your pastry is chilling, peel, core and chop your apples and grease a 22cm pie tin.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the apple pieces and lemon juice in a large, deep frypan and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes or until tender. Carefully pour out approximately half of the liquid from the pan and then add the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to the remaining mixture. Set aside to cool.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out half of it with a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick. Carefully line the base of the pie tin with the pastry, trimming off any excess. Prick the bottom with a fork, then line with baking paper and top with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the baking paper and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until pastry is browned lightly.

Allow the pie base to cool slightly (around 5 minutes). Sprinkle the base of the pie with almond meal and then top with the apple mixture. Try to make the top as flat as possible to help with your pastry (you may have some apple mixture left over).

To make a lattice pie lid, roll out the remaining pastry until 3mm thick and cut strips of your desired width (I made 6 thick strips and 4 thin). Place strips evenly spaced on top of the pie, and weave them in a lattice design (see here for instructions). Cut off any excess and press down the edges of each strip so it links to the sides. Alternatively, roll out the remaining pastry into a large 3mm circle and drape it over the pie. Cut slits in the top of the pastry.

Brush your pie lid with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with cream or ice-cream and enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘High-Top Apple and Sultana Pie’ from Donna Hay’s Seasons.

The Port Elliot Bakery – the Best in South Australia

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Port Elliot Bakery is the best in South Australia*. Yes, it’s a bold statement considering SA’s dozens of award-winning bakeries, but the Port Elliot Bakery’s consistent 5 star reviews, 4000-strong “Port Elliot Bakery appreciation society” Facebook group, and regular 50m+ queues set it apart from the rest and are a testament to its excellence. The bakery is located on the main street of Port Elliot, a small town on the Fleurieu Peninsular about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, and is a must-visit when you’re in the area.

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Just some of the delicious offerings from the Port Elliot Bakery. (Image: Michael Mangahas)
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The unassuming shopfront of the Port Elliot Bakery – although you will never see it this empty! (Image: travelguide.net.au)

The Port Elliot Bakery was established in 1989 by the Gormon-Horrocks family, who still own and operate it today. However the site has hosted a bakery since the 1860s, and its tradition of using fresh produce and baking  daily on the premises is maintained, along with the original wood fired oven.

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The original Port Elliot bakers, the Bebee family (Image: portelliotbakery.com)  

I am fortunate enough to have visited the Port Elliot Bakery regularly for over 20 years, as it is located about 10mins drive away from my family’s holiday house. I can honestly say that I have never left disappointed as the food is always delicious and the service is quick and friendly (no matter how long the line-up is).

The pies, pasties and sausage rolls come in a wide range of delicious flavours and always have perfect crisp, flaky pastry, and the enormous array of beautiful and tempting sweets is sure to impress the harshest of critics.

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A selection of their savoury goods. (Image: The Port Elliot Bakery Facebook page)

While everything I’ve tried has been excellent, my go-to is their steak and bacon pie (so mouthwateringly tender and flavoursome) with a chocolate doughnut and a Farmer’s Union ice-coffee – perfection!

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Look at that perfect pastry…
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Melt in your mouth steak paired with bacon and a rich flavour-packed gravy… what more could you ask for?!
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With a deep golden exterior, soft fluffy interior and a dark chocolate icing, these are the doughnuts of my dreams
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Bailey is always more than happy to assist in eating Port Elliot Bakery goods!  

One of the reasons I love the bakery so much, is that it’s constantly innovating and updating its menu. The bakery offers a new “pie of the month” each month, and its recent Nutella and Oreo doughnut additions already have cult followings!

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The bakery’s new Oreo cookies & cream doughnuts (Image: The Port Elliot Bakery Facebook Page)

The bakery has also developed a range of vegan options including ‘Fruchoc’, ‘Bounty’ and ‘Snickers’ slices, bliss balls, and salads.

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“Fruchoc slice” a vegan option. (Image: the Port Elliot Bakery Facebook page)

Next time you’re down in the Fleurieu area, make sure you give the Port Elliot Bakery a visit. My advice is to get in early to avoid disappointment as the bakery is so popular that many items sell-out before 1pm. There is seating outside the bakery, but we like to drive to the Freeman Lookout and eat our bakery goodies with a magnificent ocean view where, between May and October, you might even be lucky enough to see whales.

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Freeman Lookout

Port Elliot Bakery

Open: 7am-5:30pm every day but Christmas Day, Proclamation Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday.
Location: 
31 North Terrace, Port Elliot, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8554 2475
Price: from $2.50
Rating: 5/5 cupcakes
5-star

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* I’m sure if Jane Austen had tried their baked goods she would agree!

Pumpkin Pies with a Brûlée Topping

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and while my family doesn’t celebrate it, we have developed a fondness for pumpkin pie since the first pumpkin pie I made for “Chrisgiving” in 2014. To change things up this year, I decided to make individual pies for everyone and for crunch, added a brûlée topping. Yum!

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It was my first time using a blowtorch so some bits got a little darker than anticipated – lots of fun though! 

Ingredients (makes 8)
Pastry
1 ⅔ cups plain flour, sifted
110g butter, chilled
110g pure icing sugar
1 egg yolk

Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree (made by roasting 1 whole butternut pumpkin (skinless), blitzing it into a smooth paste in a blender and then putting it in a sieve for an hour to remove the excess juice)
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
A pinch of salt
1 quick grind of pepper

Brûlée Topping
Caster sugar

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Method
For the pastry, place flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and 2 tblspns cold water and process until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball. Enclose in a plastic wrap and chill for 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease 8 10cm loose-bottomed tart pans well with margarine and canola oil spray.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and lift pastry into a tin, easing into the sides & trimming the excess. Repeat with the remaining tins. Chill the pastry in the tins for 15mins. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Blind-bake for 10mins, then remove paper and weights and return to the oven for 5mins or until crisp and lightly golden. Allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cream, vanilla and spices and stir until all incorporated.

Remove the baking paper and pie weights and pour mixture into pastry cases. Bake pies in the oven for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 160°C fan-forced and baking for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the filling has set.

Allow to cool completely before gently removing pies from the tins. These can be served without the brûlée topping as mini pumpkin pies.

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To create the brûlée topping, sprinkle the tops of the pies liberally with caster sugar and then heat with a blowtorch until the sugar has melted and formed a crisp coating. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Pastry recipe adapted from the delicious. ‘Sweet’ cookbook and pumpkin pie filling recipe from Inspired Taste.net

 

Tangy Lemon Tart

Since moving to Adelaide, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to an abundance of homegrown lemons. In our rental house in 2013, our lemon tree provided perfect fruit almost all year round, and my Aunt & Uncle also grow outstanding citrus and always seem to have plenty to give away. This has meant lots of experimentation with lemon desserts and this one has to be one of my most popular! This tart has a strong, slightly tart lemon flavour and  gorgeously short, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Serve dusted with icing sugar and with thickened cream or ice cream for a perfect dinner party dessert.

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Ingredients (Serves 12)
Pastry
2 cups plain flour
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
180g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling
5 eggs
3 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
200ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
250ml pouring cream

Icing sugar, to dust
Double cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

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Method
To make the pastry, process the flour, icing sugar & butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until the mix just comes together. Form the pastry into a disc, wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Spray a 27cm tart pan with a removable base with cooking oil. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 4mm thick and use to line the prepared pan. Trim the edge, then line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or dried rice). Bake for 15mins then remove weights and paper and cook for a further 5mins until golden. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 150°C.

To make lemon filling, place eggs, yolks & sugar into a bowl and stir until just combined (try to avoid creating bubbles). Gently stir in lemon and orange juices. Pour cream into a small saucepan and bring almost to the boil, then stir it into egg mixture. Using a fine sieve, strain lemon filling into a jug. Place tart shell onto an oven tray and pour in the filling.

Bake for 15mins, then carefully rotate to ensure even cooking. Bake for a further 10mins or until just set. To check, gently shake the tart; it should be slightly wobbly in the centre.

Cool the tart to room temperature, then dust with icing sugar and serve with double cream or ice cream.

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Adapted from Matt Moran’s Lemon Tart featured in MasterChef Magazine – Issue 3, July 2010.

Rich Chocolate Tart

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This was the main component of the dessert I made for Mother’s Day (in addition to the raspberry sorbet) and it was a winner with everyone. It’s not difficult to make (but looks it) and is the perfect conclusion to any meal.

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Ingredients (serves 10)
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup thickened cream
300g dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quantity of sweet pastry

Method
Make the pastry. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (approx. 140-150°C  fan-forced, depending on your oven).

Beat egg yolks, eggs & caster sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Gently fold in cream, melted chocolate and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case.

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Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set.

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Cool for 10 minutes. Serve dusted with sifted cocoa and raspberry sorbet (if desired). Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly “Best Food: Desserts” cookbook (2004)

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Image Source: The Australian Women’s Weekly