Smoked Salmon Salad | created for The Dinner Party Collective’s Spring Menu

Smoked Salmon Salad | Gather and Graze | for The Dinner Party CollectiveHopefully by now you have all heard of my other blog ‘The Dinner Party Collective’ which is a collaborative project with 13 other Food and Wine Blogging friends. Every season, we release 2 new menus, giving you recipes, wine pairings, tips for being organised and hopefully a little inspiration to create your own Dinner Parties with friends and family.

Just recently our Fall/Autumn Menu (for the Northern Hemisphere) was released, with the most beautiful autumnal dishes by Seana, Suzanne and Anne. Wine Pairings were expertly partnered to each course by the wonderful Stefano. Please link through above to see all that they created.

For those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring has well and truly sprung and there is a menu currently being released for us too. Link through here to get the full picture of the Spring Menu that Poli, Johnny and myself came up with. Wine pairings were crafted for our spring menu by the lovely Anatoli. As my contribution to this elegant Dinner Party you will find the following light and luscious Smoked Salmon Salad (feel free to link through to the original post). It’s an appetiser to get those taste buds moving and prepare you for the delightful Main Course and Dessert yet to come.

If this is the first you’ve heard of The Dinner Party Collective (TDPC for short), then please do click through on any of the links above and be sure to follow us there, so that we can update you whenever new posts are released. We’d also LOVE it if you would invite some friends/family over and try out our menus for yourselves… and be sure to let us know your thoughts if you do!

Happy Spring, Margot

Asparagus for Smoked Salmon Salad | Gather and Graze

Smoked Salmon Salad | Gather and Graze

For the Salad:

  • 8 Slices of Smoked Salmon (thinly sliced)
  • 24 Spears of Asparagus (3 per person)
  • 8 Radishes (mixed colours if possible)
  • 200g (½lb or 8 Large Handfuls) Rocket (Arugula/Rucola)
  • 1 Fresh Lime (cut into 8 wedges)
  • Sliced French Baguette or bread of your choice (optional)

For the Dressing (makes about ½ Cup):

  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons French Wholegrain Mustard
  • 6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To make the Dressing:

In a small mixing bowl, combine the red wine vinegar and crushed garlic, along with a good pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Stir and then set aside for about 10 minutes (this allows the garlic to soften in flavour, in effect being lightly pickled by the vinegar).

Whisk in the mustard and then little by little, whisk in the olive oil, until you have a homogenous dressing.

Dressing for Smoked Salmon Salad | Gather and Graze | for The Dinner Party Collective

To assemble the Salad:

Have a large mixing bowl on hand, into which you will place and dress the greens and radishes.

Cut off (and discard) any woody bases of the asparagus spears and then cut off each of the tips. Using a potato peeler, peel long strips from the remaining spears. Place the tips and strips into the bowl.

Wash the radishes and slice off (and discard) the root and stem. Slice each radish finely and add to the bowl.

Add the (washed and dried) rocket leaves and enough dressing to lightly coat all ingredients. I find it best to use hands to ensure that the ingredients are mixed up nicely and well covered in the dressing.

Place a decent-sized portion of the salad into the middle of each serving plate, ensuring that each person has a fairly even amount of asparagus and radish within their serve. Top each salad with a couple of strips of smoked salmon that have been rolled up to form a little flower shape.

Serve with wedges of lime on the side, any left-over dressing and perhaps some slices of crusty bread, for those who wish to partake.

Suggested Wine Pairings (by Anatoli):

  • Provençal Rosé – France
  • Pinot Gris – New Zealand or Oregon
  • Chenin Blanc – South Africa
  • Verdicchio or Pecorino – Le Marche, Italy

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls | Gather and Graze

These Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls would have been much better for my waistline had they been made on a weekend. In that case, they wouldn’t have been sitting there on the bench top, urging me to eat them… with no one around to say “Oi, haven’t you had quite enough of those, young lady?” Perhaps I’ll make them again tomorrow to see if my theory works!

After an attempt at making Mimi Thorisson’s recipe for Kouign Amann not so long ago, which resulted in a very disappointing and rather unpleasant butter-dripping mess, I decided, upon reading the recipe for these scrolls, to halve the amount of butter (and sugar) that is slathered over the dough before rolling it up, as it really did seem quite similarly excessive. I used dried yeast in the place of fresh yeast, so have amended the recipe accordingly and unfortunately was without ground coriander in the pantry, so have amended the title of this lovely recipe accordingly too. The original recipe comes from Jane Lawson’s book titled ‘Snowflakes and Schnapps’, which encompasses a beautiful array of Northern, Central and Eastern European dishes.

Wishing you all a relaxing and happy weekend.

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls

  • Servings: 16-24 Small Scrolls
  • Print

For the Buns:

  • 250mls (1 Cup) Full-Cream/Whole Milk (warmed)
  • 2 Large Pinches of Saffron Threads
  • 2 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
  • 2 Free-Range Eggs (1 egg is used for glazing the buns)
  • 1 Free-Range Egg Yolk
  • 30g (2 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter (melted and cooled)
  • 525g (3½ Cups) Plain Flour
  • 8g (2½ Teaspoons) Dried Instant Yeast (or use 25g Fresh Yeast)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 80g (⅓ Cup) Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 50g (¼ Cup) Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1½ Tablespoons Ground Coriander (if you have some in your pantry!)

For the Icing:

  • 125g (1 Cup) Icing (Powdered) Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

To make the Buns:

Place 80mls (⅓ Cup) of the warm milk, along with the saffron threads and sugar into a small mixing bowl. Stir and then leave to sit for about 15 minutes, until the milk has transformed into a beautiful yellow colour.

Note: If using fresh yeast rather than dried yeast, add this to the milk, saffron and sugar, along with 2 teaspoons of the flour at this stage and mash to dissolve the yeast. Allow to sit for the same amount of time (15mins), or until frothy.

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls | Gather and Graze

In another small bowl, beat together one of the eggs and the egg yolk, then add this to the milk, stirring to combine. Now drizzle in the melted butter, continuing to stir as you do so.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and lightly stir in the dried yeast. Make a well in the centre. Pour the liquid ingredients (including most of the remaining milk) into the flour and bring together to form a soft, pliable dough. Rest for about 1 hour in a large greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and then on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large square, about 5mm (¼in) thick. Spread the softened butter over the top and sprinkle with the brown sugar, ground almonds and cinnamon. Then roll up tightly to form a log.

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls | Gather and Graze

Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-3cm slices and place the rounds onto baking trays that have been lined with baking/parchment paper, leaving about 1.5cm between each scroll for spreading. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and once again leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls | Gather and Graze

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Beat the extra egg with 1 tablespoon of water and then brush lightly onto the scrolls, which will give them a lovely glossy finish. Place into the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden. When ready, remove from the oven and transfer the scrolls to a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes, before coating with the following icing.

To make the Icing:

Mix together the icing/powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and a little water (if required) to make a runny consistency icing.

Use half of the icing to glaze over the scrolls once they’ve been out of the oven for 5 minutes. Then leave the scrolls to sit and cool for a further 10 minutes, before using the other half to add a second layer of icing.

Serve with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee!

Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls | Gather and Graze

  • Adapted from a recipe by Jane Lawson in her book ‘Snowflakes and Schnapps’

Classic Waffles

Classic Waffles | Gather and Graze

Just when I was really quite sure that I had all the kitchen appliances and gadgets one could possibly need, a conversation one recent Wednesday morning made me decide otherwise. Nancy, who is a Bostonian, spoke rather beautifully about her family tradition of alternating between pancakes and waffles on Sunday mornings. She had me craving a delicious waffle, along with the machine to make them, right there on the spot.

Mmmm, then Heston Blumenthal went ahead and put the final nail in the coffin with his convincing, promotional video for Breville’s quite innovative ‘moat-surrounded’ Waffle Machine. Within minutes (well, perhaps an hour or two…) I was off to the local shops to pick up my very own.

The recipe to follow is for our favourite Waffle Batter so far (surprisingly, courtesy of the company who made the machine) – it has served us well in the brief time we’ve been using it and is one that I’ve returned to rather promptly after a massive failure from a French Cookbook which created a monster mélange of a Choux Pastry/Waffle Puff! Scary and somewhat undercooked within. Never mind… happy to take the failures with the successes at this point.

Classic Waffles

  • Servings: 6-8 large Waffles
  • Print

  • 300g (2 cups) Self Raising Flour
  • 60g (¼ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 430mls (1¾ Cups) Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Large Free-Range Eggs
  • 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (melted and cooled slightly)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the self-raising flour, sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla extract and eggs until well combined. Slowly trickle in the warm melted butter, continuing to whisk all the while as you do.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth batter.

This mixture may be used immediately in a waffle machine.

Classic Waffles | Gather and Graze

Topping Suggestions:

  • A simple sprinkling of icing (powdered) sugar
  • A drizzle of maple syrup, chopped strawberries, blueberries and freshly whipped cream
  • Warm Chocolate Sauce and vanilla ice cream
  • Apple or pear compote with double cream
  • Sliced banana, warm caramel sauce, chopped nuts and ice cream

Classic Waffles | Gather and Graze* Recipe very slightly adapted from the online Breville E-Cookbook – ‘The Sticky Waffle Book’

Elizabeth David’s Lamb Boulangère

Lamb Boulangere | Gather and Graze

I must admit to being quite smitten by this particular dish… only quite recently plucked from the pages of Elizabeth David’s fabulous book, ‘French Provincial Cooking’. My copy is a fairly cheap Penguin-published paperback, which I’ve flicked through occasionally over the years, but in fact, have never really made anything substantial from. Happy to say that this was put to rights about a month ago. While enduring the lengthy wait for the boys to finish their soccer training, quite naughtily, I went through and dog-eared all the pages containing recipes that piqued my interest. Take it as a sign of exactly how good this dish tastes, by the fact that I’ve yet to make either the ‘Courgette Soufflé’ or the ‘Tarte à l’Oignon’ that were duly marked for testing, but have made this ‘Épaule d’Agneau Boulangère’ at least 4 or 5 times!

Boulangère is a term used in French cooking for a dish that comprises both potatoes and onion. Strangely enough… literally, it is also the word for a female Baker (of bread, rather than patisserie) and word has it, that many years before ovens made their way into household kitchens, it was quite the norm for people to prepare their Sunday Roast and then take it to be baked by the local baker of the village, in his very large oven.

This slow-cooked, tender and flavourful, one pot legend of a dish is something I hope you will all be tempted to try very soon… you won’t regret it!

Elizabeth David's Lamb Boulangère | Gather and Graze

  • 1.5kg (about 3-3½lbs) Boned Lamb Shoulder
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (leaves removed and chopped)
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 30g (2 Tablespoons) Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion (thinly sliced)
  • 6 Medium Waxy Potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • 500mls (2 Cups) Good Quality Beef Stock
  • Small amount of extra Thyme leaves (for scattering over the finished dish)

Remove the lamb from the fridge about an hour before you wish to start cooking, to allow it time to come to room temperature.

Lamb Boulangere | Gather and Graze

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/330°F/Gas Mark 3 and arrange an oven rack to be sitting on the second lowest shelf.

Press the garlic and thyme leaves, along with some salt and pepper into the inside of the lamb shoulder. Roll up and tie into shape with kitchen string. To learn a good method of tying up a roast, click through to see this video by Le Cordon Bleu.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large (Le Creuset or similar) cast iron casserole pot over medium heat. Brown the rolled lamb shoulder, turning every now and then, until golden all over. Remove to a plate temporarily, while you add the sliced onion to the pot and sauté until translucent. Return the lamb and surround it with the potatoes. Pour over the beef stock (which should almost cover the potatoes) and allow to come to a gentle boil. Simmer for a minute or two, then place the lid on and transfer to the pre-heated oven to cook for about 2½ hours (removing the lid for the final half hour of cooking).

Transfer the meat and potatoes to a warm place to rest (before carving) and reduce the liquid remaining in the pot to form a beautiful, flavourful sauce. Be sure to check for seasoning, before adding any extra salt or pepper – this will vary depending on the type of beef stock you use.

Serve the lamb and potatoes (with perhaps some lightly steamed green beans or broccoli) on a large platter/plate in the middle of the table, with the sauce poured over the top and sprinkled with a few more fresh thyme leaves.

Lamb Boulangere | Gather and Graze

Lamb Boulangere | Gather and Graze

Apricot Coconut Slice

Apricot Coconut Slice | Gather and Graze

For a fast and easy no-bake slice (‘bars’ for my American friends), this apricot and coconut version is truly wonderful. Featuring sweetened condensed milk, this style of slice takes me immediately back to my childhood… and strangely enough also to Florida in the USA, where another Australian (who has become a dear friend), re-introduced it into my life… I’ve been making it regularly ever since! It’s citrusy cousin, which also gets made on a regular basis in my home, was featured here over a year ago.

Apologies in advance if things seem a little quiet around here over the next few weeks. I can reassure you that it’s only a temporary hiatus… while we prepare, edit and finalise the next 2 seasonal menus on The Dinner Party Collective. Please come through to check out our first 2 menus, if you haven’t already.

Cheers, Margot

Apricot Coconut Slice | Gather and Graze

  • 250g (9oz) Packet Marie Biscuits (or any plain, sweet biscuit)
  • 85g (1 Cup) Desiccated Coconut
  • 150g (1 Cup) Chopped Dried Apricots
  • 395g (14oz) Tin Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 100g (⅓ Cup + 1 Tbspn) Unsalted Butter
  • 200g (7oz) Good Quality Milk Chocolate (or Dark if you prefer)
  • 2 Teaspoons Sunflower/Vegetable Oil

Line a slice tin (mine is about 28cm x 18cm) with Cling Wrap/Plastic Wrap.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor, then mix them together in a mixing bowl with the coconut and chopped apricots.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the condensed milk with the butter. Stir now and then and as soon as the butter has completely melted, remove from from the heat. Tip this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until well combined and the dry ingredients are completely coated.

Spoon mixture into the prepared slice tin and press with the back of a dessert spoon, to flatten the mixture and make an even layer.

Break up the chocolate into small chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl, heat in short bursts until the chocolate has melted. Add the oil and stir well to fully combine. Pour the chocolate over the top of the slice and spread until you have an even layer.

Refrigerate the slice for at least an hour (for the chocolate to set), then remove the Cling Wrap and cut into squares. I find that cutting with a hot knife (heated under hot water, then dried off with a clean tea towel) is a good way of making sure that the edges don’t end up too tatty looking.

Serve for afternoon tea, with a good cup of tea of coffee.

Apricot Coconut Slice | Gather and Graze

Savoury Cheese Scones

Savoury Cheese Scones | Gather and Graze

Extremely popular in New Zealand (well, at least they were… about 7 or 8 years ago), cheese scones are an absolute delight! Perfect for a morning or afternoon tea when you’re in need of something a little more savoury, rather than sweet. Plus they’re extremely quick and easy to make – which is always a bonus!

My original recipe for Perfectly Fluffy Scones (which was in fact the very first post published on Gather and Graze) is a wonderful alternative for those preferring to go the traditional ‘Devonshire Tea’ route with jam and whipped cream.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Savoury Cheese Scones | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: Makes 6 Scones
  • Print

  • 300g (2 Cups) Self Raising Flour
  • ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • ⅛ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 50g (3½ Tablespoons) Chilled Unsalted Butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 75g (1 Cup) Cheddar Cheese (grated coarsely)
  • 180ml (¾ Cup) Milk

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F and line a baking tray with baking/parchment paper.

Sift the flour, salt and cayenne pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it thoroughly into the flour, until you can no longer feel any little lumps of butter. Stir through the grated cheese.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk. Use a butter knife to mix in the milk, until completely combined (adding in a tiny bit more milk, if the mixture is too dry). For a light, fluffy scone, it’s very important that you don’t knead the dough by hand. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and shape gently into a large round disc (about 2cm high). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 6 wedges. Transfer each piece to the prepared baking tray, allowing a little room between each.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 12-14 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Allow to cool a little, before serving warm with a generous slather of butter.

Savoury Cheese Scones | Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes:

  • These scones are also lovely with a scattering of fresh herbs… chopped chives in particular work well… or finely chopped thyme or rosemary can also make for a lovely addition. Add the herbs at the same time as you stir in the grated cheese.

Crème Brûlée (and what to do with all those leftover egg whites!)

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago, I paid good money to eat the worst Crème Brûlée in my life. In retrospect, I should never have ordered it… should have known that it would be ‘average’ at best! As a Birthday treat, we took our children to the local ‘Gold Class’ Cinema, where you sit in jumbo-sized, reclining arm chairs and can order dinner, drinks and dessert to come out at different stages of the movie. It was here that the dubious, sub-standard, so-called Crème Brûlée was served. Curdled custard underneath, with thick as a brick toffee, concealing underlying sugar which hadn’t melted, so was still granular and gritty. Honestly… they couldn’t have got it more wrong!

The one positive to come from this experience was that yesterday, I decided to challenge myself to see how hard it really is to make a superior Crème Brûlée. After doing some research on ingredients, quantities and cooking techniques… as well as drilling my friend Sandra for tips, the following is the recipe that I came up with. The underlying vanilla bean custard tasted gorgeously smooth, creamy and rich… as any good Crème Brûlée should… and was topped with the finest layer of toffee enabling that child-like pleasure of cracking through the surface.

In future I’ll definitely be a little more discerning when choosing the right restaurant/venue from which to order a Crème Brûlée. Or better still… I’ll make it myself.

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

  • 600ml (about 2⅓ Cups) Pure (Heavy) Cream
  • 1 Vanilla Pod (split and seeds scraped out)
  • 6 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 60g (¼ Cup) Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 8 Teaspoons extra of Caster Sugar (for the toffee coating)

Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/275°F. Fold a clean tea towel to fit on the base of a large roasting tin and place 4 x (¾ Cup capacity) ramekins on top. My ramekins are about 10cm/4in in diameter and are quite shallow, which is ideal for Crème Brûlées.

Place the cream and vanilla pod (along with the seeds) into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. When it has almost come to the boil and you can see bubbles forming around the edge, remove from the heat immediately and remove the vanilla pod. Set aside for the moment.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until the mixture has paled and thickened.

Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously as you do so, to ensure that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs. At this stage, if there is a layer of froth on top of the mixture from whisking, scoop it off with a large metal spoon and discard it. Strain the mixture through a sieve, into a large pouring jug and then pour evenly into the 4 ramekins.

Carefully pour some boiling water into the base of the roasting tin so that it comes up to about the halfway mark on the side of the ramekins. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes. The custards should still have a little (jelly-like) wobble to them.

Remove the ramekins from the roasting tray and allow to cool for about half an hour at room temperature, before covering with cling film and placing into the refrigerator to chill completely (about 6 hours).

When ready to serve, evenly spread about 2 teaspoons of caster sugar over the top of each custard and use a kitchen blow torch to heat and transform the sugar into toffee. Allow a few minutes for the toffee to harden before serving.

Lovely served topped with a few fresh raspberries, if they happen to be in season.

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

Rather than making a pavlova or batch of meringues with the leftover egg whites (from using 6 yolks in the recipe above), these two fabulous recipes for Italian flour-less Biscuits/Cookies will make for a wonderful change. They are recipes posted by blogging friends of mine over the past month or two. The Acetani (orange and almond) I’ve made four times already after seeing them on ‘Stefan’s Gourmet Blog’ and the Ossi Du Mordere (chocolate and hazelnut) were made for the first time yesterday, after spotting them on Sandra’s ‘Please Pass the Recipe’.  If you click on either of the photos below, it will take you directly through to the recipes.

Acetani | Gather and Graze


Ossi Du Mordere | Gather and Graze

Ossi Du Mordere

Strawberry Cream Baskets

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

A special dessert, remembered from my childhood… this was one that Mum used to serve on occasions at their very grown-up Dinner Parties. I clearly recall hovering in the kitchen as she made the little baskets, secretly hoping that at least one of them would break or crack as she moulded them into shape, so that I could nibble on the broken bits.

We made this together last week when we stayed with my parents up in Southern Queensland. The strawberries are in season up there right now (being somewhat warmer than chilly Canberra), so we picked our own from a local strawberry farm and set to work on this fabulous dessert. They’re as delicious as I remember them from childhood… and now a firm favourite of my own children.

Thanks Mum! It was lovely to spend some time with you… and Dad too, of course! xx

The original recipe, which I’ve adapted slightly (including the substitution of strawberries for raspberries), came from a classic cookbook ‘A Taste for All Seasons’ (first published in 1975) by Beverley Sutherland Smith

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

For the Biscuit/Tuile Baskets:

  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Plain Flour (sifted)
  • 40g (⅓ Cup) Icing (Powdered) Sugar (sifted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 60g (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 1 Large Free-Range Egg White (stiffly beaten)

For the Strawberry Cream:

  • 250g (1 Punnet) Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon Caster Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cointreau/Orange Liqueur (optional)
  • 125mls (½ Cup) Pure/Heavy Cream
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 30g (1oz) Dark Chocolate (grated)

To make the Biscuit/Tuile Baskets:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line a baking tray with baking/parchment paper.

Stir together the sifted flour, icing sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine, then add the beaten egg white and stir until the mixture comes together nicely.

Place a heaped teaspoonful of mixture at each end of the prepared baking tray and use a knife to spread them into large, very thin circles (approx 13-14cm in diameter).

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 5-6 minutes, until the biscuits are golden around the edges.

When the biscuits come out of the oven, lift them immediately from the baking tray (using a spatula) and while they are still hot, press them gently into a small bowl to create the baskets. Note: It’s best if the bowl has a flat base, so that the baskets will stand up nicely once they are removed and ready to serve.

Continue to make another 2 sets of biscuits in the same way, until you have 6 baskets.

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

To make the Strawberry Cream:

Set aside 6 strawberries to decorate the top of the desserts with. Chop up the remaining strawberries and place them in a small bowl along with the caster sugar and cointreau (if using) to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Whip the cream and vanilla extract until you reach soft peaks, then gently stir in the grated chocolate and macerated strawberries.

To assemble the dessert:

Spoon strawberry cream into each of the biscuit baskets and decorate the top with the remaining strawberries. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

  • Slightly adapted from a recipe by Beverley Sutherland Smith in her book ‘A Taste for All Seasons’
  • For an even easier dessert option, you could simply scoop good quality ice cream (flavour of your choice) into the tuile baskets and top with fresh berries. A drizzle of chocolate or berry sauce would be fabulous too!

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie

Beef Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

It’s doubtful that I’ll ever reach the stage where creating gels, foams or other Heston-esque kitchen creations becomes part of my everyday cooking repertoire… however now and then, there are days when I’m up for the challenge of preparing or cooking something that might have seemed a little daunting before. De-boning quail for Sandra’s Pan Fried Quail with Vincotto Glazed Grapes is a prime example… and then making my first ever ‘Rough’ Puff Pastry from scratch on this past weekend is another.

The prevalent thought for me at such times is that surely I’m going to botch the job completely, rendering dinner inedible for my poor, dear family. Though without taking these risks, we would simply never find out just how easy some things are to produce; how the flavour can be in such stark contrast with it’s shop-bought alternative; and what a great sense of accomplishment can be felt when the challenge pays off and the family dinner is actually, really quite edible!

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

For the Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Filling:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Brown (or Red) Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Leeks (white and pale green parts only, washed and sliced)
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves (finely chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (crushed)
  • 750g (about 1½lbs) Diced Beef (I used a mixture of Chuck and Blade Steak)
  • 250mls (1 Cup) Red Wine (I used a nice Aussie Shiraz)
  • 250mls (1 Cup) Good Quality Beef Stock
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • 2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 15g (1½ Tablespoons) Cornflour (mixed together with 3 Tablespoons Water)

For the Rough Puff Pastry:

  • 300g (2 Cups) Plain Flour
  • 5g (1 Teaspoon) Sea Salt
  • 250g (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter (diced into small cubes)
  • Approx 125mls (½ Cup) Chilled Water

To make the Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Filling:

Place a medium sized saucepan over low-medium heat and sauté the onion, leek and rosemary (with a pinch of salt) in the olive oil until soft and translucent (about 8-10 minutes). Add the crushed garlic in the last couple of minutes to sauté gently. Remove the cooked vegetables to a bowl and set aside for the moment.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Add a little more olive oil if required and over medium-high heat, brown the diced beef (in a couple of batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan). When done, return the cooked onion and leek to the pan and pour in the red wine, allowing it to simmer for about 5 minutes, to burn off the alcohol. Then add the stock and bay leaves. Stir and allow to simmer (covered) for about 1½ – 2 hours, or until tender.

Once the meat is tender, add in the tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and the cornflour liquid and stir to combine. Simmer gently for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the gravy has thickened nicely. Allow to cool completely before using the filling in the pie.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

To make the Rough Puff Pastry:

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and roughly rub in the small cubes of butter.

Add about three quarters of the water and mix it in (adding a little more water gradually if required) until it comes together nicely as a dough. It should be neither too sticky or too dry and you should be able to see little flecks/small chunks of butter within.

On a floured board, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, with the short side closest to you.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Fold the end furthest away from you in by a third and then fold the bottom third over the top of this (a little like folding a business letter). Turn the dough a quarter turn and once again roll it out into a large rectangle. Repeat this process a further 4 times. Cover the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 – 40 minutes, before rolling it out for the pie.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

To assemble the pie:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut the dough into 2 portions (one a little larger than the other). Roll out the larger portion first, to an appropriate size to fit your pie tin (mine is about 22cm x 17cm). Line the tin, trimming any excess around the edges – these bits can be used for decorating the top, if you wish).

Scoop the meat filling into the pastry lined tin and then roll out the other portion of pastry that will cover the top. Be sure to first brush the edges with a little water, before laying the sheet of pastry on top of the pie. Use a fork to press around the edges to seal the pie and place a couple of slits in the middle, using a sharp knife, to allow steam to escape. Decorate with the excess bits of pastry if you wish.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and golden brown on top.

Allow to cool slightly, before serving with a side of mashed potatoes and other steamed vegetables.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • This could also be made into 4 individual pies, though you will most likely need to make a larger quantity of pastry in order to do so (depending on the size of your pie tins).
  • Feel free to substitute or add other vegetables to this recipe… carrots and other root vegetables would work particularly well.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

A pudding so easy that it almost feels like cheating. If you have access to beautiful, buttery, flaky croissants, then the hard work is all done for you and you can expect grand results with this delicious, wintery dessert. I’ve never been overly fond of Bread and Butter Pudding, but this is Bread and Butter Pudding with a difference… one that has converted me for life… evidently, you just need the right type of bread (or croissant)!

Two more months of winter to endure… though with the recent passing of the winter solstice, I’m at least relishing the thought of our daylight hours ever lengthening for the six or so months to come.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding

  • 3-4 Croissants (day old are perfect)
  • 120g-160g (6-8 Tablespoons) Raspberry Jam
  • 2 Free-Range Eggs
  • 40g (3 Tablespoons) Caster Sugar
  • 375mls (1½ Cups) Whole Milk
  • 125mls (½ Cup) Heavy or Double Cream
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a medium sized baking dish.

Slice the croissants in half and spread a tablespoon of jam over the top of each. Sandwich them back together, cut into 3 pieces and place into the baking dish.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until a little paled in colour and slightly thickened.

Place the milk, cream and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat immediately and slowly pour over the egg/sugar mixture (being sure to whisk all the while, to avoid scrambling the eggs). When completely combined, pour this mixture evenly over the croissants. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, for the croissants to soak up a little of the liquid.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the custard has just set.

Allow to cool slightly, before serving as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • Optional additions – fresh/frozen raspberries (or other berries)… or chunks of chocolate (white, milk or dark). A variety of other flavour jams would also work beautifully here.
  • ‘Pain au Chocolat’ or sliced brioche could also be substituted for the croissants.