Category Archives: Fruit

Plum & Cinnamon Cake

Plum & Cinnamon Cake | Gather and Graze

Autumn is well and truly here… and my gosh, what a stunning season it is. Somehow, I never cease to be amazed each and every year, at the vividness of the reds, yellows and oranges of the foliage, giving out their last hurrah of the growing season. I’m thankful that there’s been a lingering warmth in the daytime… to soak up and relish for as long as it lasts; though eating al fresco of an evening has sadly come to a close.

Plums, figs and apples have been the highlight of the local farmer’s markets recently… Continue reading


Mum’s Fruit and Nut Slice

Barb's Fruit and Nut Slice | Recipe | Gather and Graze

Having been firmly on the path of healthfulness and exercise for several weeks, I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my back. The week from hell commenced exactly seven days ago and is thankfully on the mend now, though still not back to 100%. For several days driving was out of the question… sitting upright a total agony… and even now, trying to get socks onto my feet creates the visual appeal of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. A number of close family and friends have suffered with debilitating back pain and surgery over the past twelve months… now I have a tiny inkling of what they’ve had to deal with.

Resorting to comfort food over this past week has seen a lovely fruit and nut slice, of my Mum’s, make an appearance. There’s often a tupperware container filled with this very moreish slice when we go to stay with my parents… ready to be picked up with whichever hand isn’t holding a cup of tea or coffee. There’s absolutely nothing like Mum’s food for a little pick-me-up when you’re not quite feeling yourself. The only thing I’ve adjusted is the amount of sugar… lessened by ⅓ Cup and is still beautifully sweet from the dried fruit within. Continue reading

No Bake 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. Continue reading

When life gives you Lemons… Four Recipes with Lemons

Four Recipes with Meyer Lemons | Gather and Graze

I mean that literally, not proverbially… life is actually pretty good around here, however it’s well and truly time that I got creative with some recipes for the glut of Meyer Lemons that my 3 little potted trees have produced this year. Since fully ripening, they’ve been waiting patiently in the fridge for the past couple of weeks, until I could find the time to make something wonderful with them. Not just one thing wonderful, but four different delights that can be created in next to no time. Continue reading

Australian Apple Crumble with Lemon Myrtle and Wattleseeds

Australian Apple Crumble with Lemon Myrtle and Wattleseeds | Recipe | Gather and Graze

This cold, grey, drizzly autumnal day suggested that the kitchen was the only sensible place for me to be today. With the warmth and aroma that comes from oven-baking, who could possibly argue that this wasn’t the best of ideas? I’d been contemplating a softly scented Apple Crumble with an Aussie twist for a few days now and despite the weather being completely lousy for food photography, it was the perfect Apple Crumble-eating kind of day! Continue reading

Spiced Pickled Pears

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

‘Tis a fortunate thing to have friends with fruit trees… even more so when they quite generously wish to share them with you. Following on from my earlier post on Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake, John has continued to bring along bags of pears each and every week for all who have met up for coffee on Wednesdays. They are sadly reaching the end of their season now, so this may well be the last of the home-grown pears… until next year.

I’ve not been the only one to create delicious treats in the kitchen using these gifted pears. Two of the other Mums, who we meet up with, brought along ‘Pear & Blueberry Butter’ (which we slathered on home-made scones in situ and then graciously each took home a little jar for later) as well as a wonderfully moist Pear Cake. All in all, a fabulous celebration of the Pears of 2015!

Since the cake I made a few weeks ago was so very quickly devoured by my family, I wanted to make a little something to share with my coffee friends. Here’s hoping they’ll enjoy these little jars of Spiced Pickled Pears, that I’ll pass on to them next week.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: Made 8 x 120ml (4oz) Jars
  • Print
  • 500ml (2 Cups) Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 500g (2¼ Cups) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 8 Strips of Fresh Lemon Peel (pared carefully from the lemon with no pith)
  • 60ml (¼ Cup) Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Star Anise (broken into pieces)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken into chunks)
  • 8 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Whole Peppercorns (lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle)
  • 1 Small Red Chilli (seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 1kg Pears (cored and sliced, I prefer to leave the skin on)

Be sure to sterilise your jars while the pears are poaching, so that they are ready to go when required.

Place all ingredients except for the pears into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring now and then to ensure that the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears and allow to simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the pears are lovely and tender. Remove the pears, using a slotted spoon to a colander sitting over a bowl. Bring the remaining liquid in the saucepan back up to the boil and allow to bubble away for about a further 15 minutes, until slightly syrupy.

Divide the pear slices equally into your jars, being sure to get a little of the lemon peel, spices and chilli into each jar as well. Using a ladle, top up each jar with the spiced vinegar liquid. Seal with lids.

At this point, I placed my filled jars into a hot water bath (a stockpot of boiling water) for about 15 minutes, before removing to the kitchen bench to sit until they reached room temperature.

Label the jars and then store them somewhere nice and cool (preferably for about a month) before opening.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears are lovely served with a cheese platter or alongside cold cuts of meat or better still… warmed slightly to accompany a delicious roast dinner.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Recipe adapted from one found on the BBC Good Food website.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

Many moons ago, I think I mentioned that most Wednesdays I meet up for a coffee with a number of other parents from my children’s school. Yesterday was no different (though it was the first of the new school year)… hot coffees and teas sipped and relished, conversations criss-crossing the table, laughter permeating the air. Then, a wonderful surprise when John (one of the Dads) pulled from his bag a number of packages holding beautiful little pears, plucked from his tree at home to share with us all. The gift of produce or food is always something that excites me and that I’m truly grateful for. A couple of these sweet, ripe pears were munched as nature intended, but the rest were set aside in anticipation of making something extra delicious this morning.

There are days when I’m happy to just follow along with a recipe… it will usually be one that appears perfect as it is, requiring no tweaking whatsoever.  Then there are days like today, when I’m open to a little experimentation, to see what may come… you just never know when you might hit on a winner. The flavour combination of pear, almond and olive oil to be transformed into a cake was floating around my head… and so this is what finally came to be.

A Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake that is beautifully moist and flavourful. The slivered almonds give the topping such a great texture, that match so well with the fruitiness of the pears. It doesn’t sit very tall…  a little more like a Tarte Tatin… but presents wonderfully on the plate all the same.

My very sincere thanks to John for his delightful gift!

Pears | Gather and Graze

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 8-10 Slices
  • Print
For the caramel:

  • 60g (¼ Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 3 Small Ripe Pears (Peeled, Cored and Quartered)
  • 2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds

For the cake batter:

  • 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (Softened)
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • 40g (⅓ Cup) Ground Almonds
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 60ml/¼ Cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

I used a (23cm) Le Creuset cast iron braising dish to bake this cake in, though a similar sized (greased and lined) cake tin would work just as well. 

To make the caramel:

In the cast iron dish (or a small saucepan, if you’ll be using a cake tin to bake in) melt the butter and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a minute or two. Remove from the heat, arrange the pear quarters in a pattern over the top and scatter, between the gaps, with the slivered almonds. Set aside for the moment.

If using a cake tin, pour the caramel evenly over the base of your greased and lined cake tin and arrange the pears and almonds on top, as suggested above. Set aside for the moment.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze Now for the cake batter:

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl, then fold it in to butter/egg mixture in two lots, alternating with the milk and olive oil.

Spoon the cake batter over the top of the pears and using the back of a spoon or a knife, spread it over evenly to cover. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. A good sign is when it’s just starting to pull away from the sides of the baking dish (or cake tin).

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and GrazeAllow to cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cake plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with some double cream on the side.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

Apricot and Lavender Jam

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Recipe | Gather and Graze

The stone fruit has been spectacular this summer… the nectarines, the peaches, the plums! Mostly purchased from the farmer’s market, but even our new little peach tree managed to produce a small crop, to give us a taste of what’s to come – such a sweet little tree that he is! Somehow though the apricots never managed to make it into my basket. Something just wasn’t quite right with them… they never looked like they held any flavour. So as you’d expect I passed them by… that is, until today. When I saw these little blushed beauties, I knew exactly what I wanted to make – jam! Continue reading

Banana Bread with Demerara Topping

The Best Banana Bread |

This may well be the easiest cake in the world to bake… but it sure is one of the most delicious Banana Breads that I’ve ever eaten. Ready for the oven in a matter of minutes and on the table ready to be sliced in less than an hour. The demerara spiced topping produces a beautiful crispy crust, which gives way to a moist and flavourful interior. It also keeps well for a day or two in an airtight container, if by chance the whole cake doesn’t get snaffled on the day that it’s made.

Possibly the last cake recipe for a little while on G&G… now that our days are getting longer, I’m looking forward to snapping a few photos of our main meals to share with you instead. Somehow I never seemed to get myself organised enough to cook our dinner at lunchtime to photograph in the optimum light… hmmm, terribly lazy I know!

Banana Bread with Demerara Topping | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 300g/2-3 Medium Bananas
  • 115g/½ Cup Raw Caster Sugar
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • 80g/⅓ Cup Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 150g/1 Cup Self-Raising Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Topping: 1 Tablespoon Demerara Sugar mixed with ¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 23x13cm (9x5in) loaf tin.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the sugar, egg and melted butter and whisk well. Sift in the flour, spices and salt and stir until the dry ingredients are just combined. Now scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with the combined Demerara sugar and cinnamon topping, if using.

Place into the oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before removing to a cooling rack. Perfect served either warm, cold or toasted with lashings of butter! The Best Banana Bread |

Home-Made Toasted Muesli / Granola

Toasted Muesli / Granola | Gather and Graze

My fellow food bloggers are a constant source of inspiration to me… both in food and life in general. They really are a wonderful bunch of people who I consider my friends, even though we’ve never met in person. I set aside many recipes that they’ve created… for sometime down the track when time permits, or when the occasion or season is right. My ever-growing list is slightly bewildering with the sheer number of entries, but somewhat comforting in the fact that I know there will always be inspirational recipes to be found when I need them.  Now and then, I see a recipe that I feel compelled to make that exact same day after reading it… often from pure excitement and the anticipation of tasting the wonderful new dish!

So, recently when I came across a fabulous post for Nutty Spiced Apple Granola on Trixie Pin’s ‘Almonds are Mercurial’ blog, I knew immediately that it was high time I too started making my own granola… or toasted muesli (as is oft called in this part of the world). I made up a batch that very same day! A few adaptations were made, due to the ingredients that I already had on hand in the pantry and also to personal preferences and whims… though this is exactly the sort of recipe I would expect people to adapt constantly… keeping it interesting.

Home-made Toasted Muesli/Granola | Gather and Graze

  • 400g (4 Cups) Rolled Oats (or a mixture of oats/bran/barley/wheat etc.)
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Raw Macadamia Nuts (Chopped Roughly)
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Raw Almonds (Chopped Roughly)
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Raw Cashews (Chopped Roughly)
  • 100g (½ Cup) Sunflower Seeds
  • 100g (½ Cup) Pepitas
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 100g (⅓ Cup) Honey
  • 100g (½ Cup) Brown Sugar
  • 60mls (¼ Cup) Sunflower Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vino Cotto (optional, but adds fabulous flavour)
  • 75g / ½ Cup Dried Apple (Chopped fairly small)
  • 100g / ½ Cup Dried Peach (Chopped fairly small)

Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and set aside 2 large baking trays.

In a large mixing bowl, place the oats, chopped nuts, seeds and spices. Stir to combine.

In a small saucepan, mix together the honey, brown sugar, oil and Vino Cotto. Stir over low/medium heat until the brown sugar has dissolved. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to coat the oats and nuts well.

Spread this mixture out evenly over 2 large baking sheets and place into the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes (giving it a stir every 10 minutes to make sure that the oats and nuts don’t brown too quickly… or burn). Note that the mixture will still be soft when you remove it from the oven.

Allow the mixture to cool (and dry) completely, before tossing through the chopped dried fruit and placing into an airtight container.

Toasted Muesli / Granola | Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • The variations for substituting grains, nuts, seeds and fruit are endless – be adventurous!

French Apple Frangipane Tart

French Apple Frangipane Tart | Gather and Graze

It has been said that ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree’. My love of baking (and of course eating) cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets is shared equally by my mother. When I baked this particular dessert a couple of days ago it made me think of her. I know for sure that she would enjoy it… this classic French tart, with perhaps a spoonful of double cream on the side. Continue reading

Two great uses for Cumquats / Kumquats

Two Great Recipes Using Cumquats / Kumquats | Gather and Graze

With 78 vibrant little cumquats/kumquats growing on my tree this year, I must admit to being a touch proud – my bounty is surprisingly up by 77 from last season! She is of the petite, potted variety, that until now has done little more than grow leaves and look rather sickly. This is my fault of course, for not always tending to her needs… water is usually helpful… as is a place to bask in the sun…

With one swift bite (and lots of extraordinarily fast chewing), I ruled out the idea of eating these beauties in their natural state and finally made some decisions of what to do with them. To follow are the two recipes I selected… The first is for preserving cumquats, so that during the winter months I’ll be able to chop up preserved peel for giving a boost of flavour to hearty casseroles and tagines. The second is for a really simple (microwaveable!) Cumquat Curd, that from all reports works out smoother and more delicious than any stove-top version. I’m such a big fan of lemon curd, so this seemed like the obvious choice.

I’ve also placed some excess puree from making the curd into a zip-lock bag and frozen it to use another day. Perhaps there’ll even be enough to make some little Cumquat Tarts… tart they will surely be!

Cumquats | Gather and Graze

Preserved Cumquats

(With many thanks to Darya of ‘Tortore’ for her tips and recipe!)

  • 450g Cumquats/Kumquats
  • 280g Sea Salt
  • Juice of 6 Lemons
  • Aromatics (optional) – herbs, spices, bay leaves… (I used some star anise in mine)

Sterilise the jars/lids you plan to use. I boiled mine in a large pot filled with water for 10 minutes.

Wash and remove the stems from all cumquats. Using a sharp knife, cut down the middle of each, but be sure not to slice all the way through.

Place a teaspoonful of sea salt in the base of each jar, and then begin stuffing a large pinch of salt into each cumquat and layer them into the jars. Sprinkle some salt between each layer (along with any aromatics you might be using) and then a final sprinkle over the top. Fill each jar with lemon juice to about 2cm from the top and seal with the lids.

Store the preserved cumquats for 48 hours at room temperature (turning the jars upside down every now and then). After 2 days place the jar(s) in the refrigerator and continue to turn upside down every day for at least 10 more days, before using.

Preserved Cumquats | Preserved Kumquats | Gather and Graze

Note: When ready to use, rinse off any excess salt and use in the same way as you would a preserved lemon.

Cumquat Curd

(Adapted from Celia’s recipe for Lemon Curd, from ‘Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)

  • 50g/3½ Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 150g/⅔ Cup Caster Sugar
  • 125ml/½ Cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Free-Range Eggs
  • 2 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • ⅔ Cup Cumquat Puree (see notes below)

Sterilise the jars/lids you plan to use. I boiled mine in a large pot filled with water for 10 minutes.

Place the butter, sugar and lemon juice into a large pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir well to ensure that the sugar has dissolved completely. Allow to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until the whites and yolks are completely blended.

Pour the eggs through a sieve into the butter mixture, whisking all the while as you do. Then stir in the cumquat puree and place back in the microwave.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then give it a good stir. Back on high for another 30 seconds and stir again. Now microwave for 1 minute, then remove and whisk really well until you have a smooth curd-like texture. If you find it’s still too thin, place it back in the microwave for another 20-30 seconds and whisk again.

Pour into sterilised jars and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

Cumquat Curd | Gather and Graze

 Cooking Notes

  • Pureed Cumquats – Wash the cumquats, then slice each one in half and remove any seeds. Place fruit into a blender or food processor and whizz until pureed. This can then be easily portioned into zip-lock bags and frozen until required.

Roasted Honey and Walnut Figs

Roasted Honey & Walnut Figs | Gather and Graze

For a classic autumn dessert that embraces two stellar seasonal delicacies, this simple yet heart-warming dish is an absolute must. The lemon zest and sea salt work perfectly to create a balance with the sweet succulence of the figs and honey, while the walnuts provide textural crunch and a rich earthiness. This is not so much a recipe, but a celebration of seasonal ingredients while they’re at their peak.

On a side note, this weekend I’m planning on stripping my little cumquat tree of all it’s bright jewels. Some of you may remember that last year my tree produced only one solitary (yet perfect) cumquat. This year is another story… I have about 70-80 cumquats to contend with and once again the debate resumes in my head as to what I should do with them. Hmmm, perhaps I should spread the risk and try a few different things… who knows, we might even enjoy them this year! Preserving some in salt (as inspired by Darya, from Tortore) seems like a great way to start… ready to use in casseroles and tagines throughout the winter months. If anyone has any other thoughts or favourite uses for cumquats (or should I say Kumquats), please let me know.

For now though… back to those beautiful figs.

Roasted Honey and Walnut Figs | Gather and Graze

  • Fresh Figs (2-3 per person)
  • A Generous Scattering of Chopped Walnuts
  • A Flourish of Lemon Zest
  • A Good Honest Drizzle of Honey
  • A  Fairy-like Sprinkling of Flaked Sea Salt

Slice open the figs to reveal their gorgeous inner beauty and arrange in a baking dish, topped with all other ingredients as suggested above. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place into a 200°C oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until roasted to perfection.

Serve with either a dollop of Greek yoghurt or some vanilla ice-cream on the side.

Roasted Honey & Walnut Figs | Gather and Graze

 Notes on Cooking

  •  Different varieties of figs may take more/less time to roast, so be sure to keep an eye on them and remove from the oven when they are roasted to your liking.

As it’s Friday, please head over to Angie’s fabulous blog The Novice Gardener to see what everyone else has been making for Fiesta Friday this week. It always makes for a great start to the weekend and the talented people who link into this ever-growing online party are such a lovely bunch to hang out with. A happy weekend to all!

(Persianised) Apple Crumble with a Rosewater Cream

Persian Apple Crumble with Rosewater Cream| Gather and Graze

My friend Azita, from the most beautiful blog Fig and Quince, is travelling overseas over the next couple of months… to her beloved homeland of Iran that she hasn’t seen in 35 years. Her excitement and anticipation for this journey is well and truly infectious!

Not long ago, she very sweetly approached a number of her blogging friends to help out with providing a ‘guest post’, so that Fig and Quince may continue to run smoothly during her time away. I was completely humbled (and surprised… and excited…) that Azita had invited me to do this… Gather and Graze is still less than a year old and most of the time I still feel like the new kid on the block… winging it as best I can.

The one request she had, was that my dish, if at all possible, should have a Persian-slant to it. So, this is for you dear Azita… beautiful, new season Australian apples (from a local orchard no less) have been infused and enhanced with the exotic delights of cardamom, pistachio, barberries and rosewater to create a Persianised Crumble that (may not rival the foodie delights of Tehran and surrounds, but…) will at least touch upon some of the flavours that make Persian cuisine so delicious and unique.

Safe and wonderful travels my friend… You will be in my thoughts often.

(Persianised) Apple Crumble with a Rosewater Cream | Gather and Graze

  • 50g Roasted Unsalted Pistachios (chopped fairly finely)
  • 150g/1 Cup Plain Flour
  • 75g/ 1/3 Cup Raw (or Brown) Sugar
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 90g Chilled Unsalted Butter (separated into 75g and 15g)
  • 4-5 Apples (peeled, cored and chopped into chunks)
  • 10g/3 Tablespoons Dried Barberries
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 250ml/1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1½ Teaspoons Rosewater Essence
  • 1 Tablespoon Icing (Powdered) Sugar (sifted)

Persian Apple Crumble with Rosewater Cream | Gather and Graze

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Start by making the crumble topping… Place the pistachios, flour, raw sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the 75g portion of butter (that has been diced into small cubes) and rub into the flour mixture using fingertips.

Persian Apple Crumble with Rosewater Cream | Gather and Graze

For the apples… place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the 15g portion of butter. Once it has melted, add the apples, barberries, brown sugar and cardamom and allow to cook for 4 to 5 minutes (just enough time for the apples to soften slightly and for the barberries to rehydrate a little).

Divide the apple mixture evenly into either individual baking dishes/ramekins or one larger-sized baking dish).

Persian Apple Crumble with Rosewater Cream | Gather and Graze

Spread the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the apple. Place dish(es) into the oven and bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until golden on top.

Persian Apple Crumble with Rosewater Cream | Gather and Graze

Allow to cool a little, before serving warm with rosewater cream (simply whip together the cream, rosewater essence and icing sugar until you have medium/stiff peaks) and/or ice-cream.

Persian Apple Crumble with Rosewater Cream | Gather and Graze

A Little Tip…

Another delicious alternative is to mix together some vanilla ice-cream with rosewater essence (about 1 teaspoon rosewater to 200g of ice-cream). If the ice-cream softens too much during the mixing, place it back into the freezer for half an hour or so, to harden a little. This was absolutely perfect with the apple crumble – I can well and truly recommend it!

Birthday Baked-Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

Baked Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping | Gather and Graze

Friends, you’re invited to help celebrate the 1st Birthday of Gather and Graze today! Hard to believe that a year ago, I pressed that ‘Publish’ button for the very first time, sending my heart and soul (along with a no-fail recipe for Perfectly Fluffy Scones) out there for all to see.

I realise that Gather and Graze is still very much in it’s infancy, but it feels like I’ve travelled a rather long way in this short period of time. I’d like to let you know how grateful I am to each and every one of you who read and comment on my posts… for your friendship, your humour and your kindness. So with 50 posts now published and a desire to continue this crazy journey (wherever it may lead), please know how happy I am to have taken the leap to become a part of this wonderful blogging community.

My celebratory cake is one that, year after year, is requested by both my children and husband for Birthdays and special occasions. The recipe was passed on to me by my dear friend Steph (a wonderful cook herself, who came across it in a Women’s Weekly cookbook). We’ve adopted it whole-heartedly over the years, changing only the cooking time and temperature to ensure a silky smooth texture. It’s a joy to bake and an absolute indulgence to eat, so what better way to celebrate the first Birthday of my sweet little Gather and Graze!

Baked Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping | Gather and Graze

Birthday Baked-Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping | Gather and Graze


  • 250g Butternut Snap Cookies
  • 1 Teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 100g Unsalted Butter (Melted)


  • 500g Cream Cheese (Softened)
  • 160g/⅔ Cup Caster Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 4 Free-Range Eggs

Sour Cream Topping

  • 250g/1 Cup Sour Cream
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Caster Sugar

Pre-heat oven to 175°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor, then add the mixed spice and melted butter and stir until all the crumbs have been moistened. Press the mixture evenly into the base and sides of the cake tin (a dessertspoon comes in handy for smoothing and pressing). Refrigerate the lined tin for about 20 minutes.

Baked Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

Beat the cream cheese until smooth (in a food processor or electric mixer). Then, add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and continue beating until completely incorporated. Now add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 35 minutes.

Baked Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping | Gather and Graze

While the cake is cooking, prepare the sour cream topping, by mixing together the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and sugar until smooth.

Spread the sour cream topping over the hot cheesecake and return to the oven for a further 7 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until firm.

Top the cheesecake with fresh fruit – halved strawberries or grapes work beautifully, as do raspberries or kiwi fruit… and if you like, add a glossy finish to the fruit by brushing on some warmed, strained raspberry or apricot jam.

Baked Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping | Gather and Graze* Recipe from a Women’s Weekly Cookbook

Coconut Poached Chicken with Mango and Avocado Salad

Coconut Chicken Salad, Gather and Graze

If you are open to it, food inspiration flies at you from all four corners of the globe. It enables you to explore far-flung locations in one of the most beautiful ways possible… by discovering what nourishes and brings happiness to the people who live there. To understand what warms their hearts and puts smiles on their faces. The multiculturalism that exists here in Australia is something I respect whole-heartedly and I seem to naturally find myself cooking a wide variety of cuisines because of it. Continue reading

Watermelon Feta and Olive Salad

Watermelon Feta and Olive Salad, Gather and Graze

Weather in all of it’s extremes is often to be marvelled at… admired… but unfortunately not always enjoyed. The soaring heat that our part of Australia has been experiencing recently has been reason enough to stock the freezer with copious quantities of icy-poles, to serve up antipasto platters for dinner and to lunch on a variety of cooling salads.

We enjoyed this salad with dinner the other night, while catching up with a dear friend who we hadn’t seen in a while and it was so refreshing that I decided to make it again for lunch today. It is adapted from a recipe in Nigella Lawson’s book ‘Forever Summer’.

Watermelon Feta and Olive Salad | Gather and Graze

  • 750g Watermelon (diced)
  • 125g Feta Cheese (diced or crumbled)
  • 8 – 10 Kalamata Olives (pitted and quartered)
  • Handful of Fresh Mint (Finely Sliced)
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of ½ a Lime

Arrange watermelon, feta, olives and mint in a serving bowl, drizzle over oil and lime juice.

Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad, Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes:

  • Option of adding a little finely sliced red onion (tossed through with the lime juice) to the salad.

Finding my Inner German with a little Apple Streusel Cake

German Streusel Cake, Gather and Graze

I’ve bemoaned the fact once before (here) on ‘Gather and Graze’ that my Anglo-German heritage is lacking in at least one or two colourful, Mediterranean ancestors. But no more my friends! After tasting these little cakes, I’m embracing my inner German girl today and sharing with you a fabulous recipe; amended and updated from one that my Mum passed on to me a few years ago. The addition of grated apple and Butterscotch Schnapps gives not only the perfect flavour, but also extra moisture and tenderness to these delicious afternoon tea treats. Genießen Sie!

German Apple Streusel Cakes | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 12 Small Cakes
  • Print

Cake Ingredients

  • 30g/2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 175g/¾ Cup (Raw) Caster Sugar
  • 1 Free-Range Egg (Lightly Beaten)
  • ¾ Cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Butterscotch Schnapps (optional, but oh so worth it!)
  • 265g/1¾ Cups Self-Raising Flour
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 2 Apples (Peeled, Cored and Grated coarsely)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.

Into a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, egg, milk and Schnapps and stir well with a wooden spoon. Sift in the dry ingredients and fold them in lightly. Add the grated apple and once again fold lightly, until incorporated.

Spoon the batter carefully into the prepared tins and add a layer of Streusel Topping – instructions to follow below, after the photos…

German Streusel Cake, Gather and Graze

German Streusel Cake, Gather and Graze

Streusel Topping Ingredients

  • 75g/½ Cup Plain Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 80g/½ Cup (Raw) Caster Sugar
  • 45g/3 Tablespoons (Cold) Unsalted Butter

Sift the flour and cinnamon into a small bowl, then stir in the sugar to combine. Dice the butter into small cubes and then rub into the flour mixture, until resembling course bread-crumbs. 

Sprinkle a good layer of Streusel over the tops of the cakes and then bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the middle.

Enjoy with a good cup of tea or coffee… or there’s always that leftover Butterscotch Schnapps! 😉

German Streusel Cake, Gather and Graze

Rhubarb and Raspberry Tart

Rhubarb and Raspberry Tart, Gather and Graze

There are certain fruits and vegetables that I adore seeing on display at the Farmer’s Markets, but I never quite know what I’d make with them if I gathered them up and brought them home. Things like persimmons, pomegranates, quinces, globe artichokes and kale all fall into this enticing, yet somewhat untried and untested category. Invariably I find myself wandering the stalls until I reach produce that I’m comfortable with, produce that speaks to me immediately with recipe ideas. The berries, the stone fruit, the citrus, the root vegetables, the salad greens. In fact, come to think of it, there’s actually quite a lot that I don’t walk past… I guess it just feels that way sometimes.

With this innate feeling that I’m missing out on experiencing these seasonal treats, the plan is to gradually overcome this little shortcoming by delving into these delights that others know and understand already. I feel very lucky in the fact that many of the food bloggers I follow, either come from or live in parts of the world where the use of these ingredients is nothing unusual, so a wonderful selection of recipes and knowledge is there to be discovered.

For me, rhubarb falls on the fringe of this category. We used to (quite happily) eat bowlfuls of stewed rhubarb, with a dash of milk, cream or ice-cream stirred through, for dessert when I was growing up. It’s just unfortunately something that I don’t tend to cook for my own family. Time to turn that around!

Rhubarb and Raspberry Tart | Gather and Graze

I used a delicious shortcrust pastry recipe from a British/Dutch blog named ‘My Foodtopia’ – please see here for the link to the pastry recipe. It made enough pastry for not only the rhubarb tart, but for a dozen gorgeous little Strawberry Jam Tartlets as well (which were baked in a muffin tin) – photo attached here.

I found it best to make the pastry first, press it into the tart tin and then allow it to rest/chill in the refrigerator while the filling is being made.

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 450g Rhubarb (chopped)
  • 220g/1 Cup Raw Sugar
  • 125ml/½ Cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Paste or Extract (or the seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod)
  • 100g Raspberries (Fresh or defrosted from Frozen)

Place the rhubarb, sugar, juice and vanilla into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then allow to boil for about 10 – 15 minutes (stirring occasionally) until it becomes a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat, stir in the raspberries and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, spoon the mixture into the prepared tart case and top with pastry lattice. Brush the pastry with a little egg wash (1 egg beaten with a teaspoon of milk or water).

Rhubarb and Raspberry Tart

Place into the oven, pre-heated to 180°C and bake for approximately 40 – 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Allow to cool completely, before serving with whipped cream and/or ice-cream.

Rhubarb Raspberry Tart, Gather and Graze

  • Filling recipe inspired by, but adapted from a Gourmet Traveller recipe.

Summer Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam Gather and Graze

It’s a beautiful thing to make use of fresh, raw ingredients straight from the garden or farmer’s market. Most often to eat exactly as nature intended… though many a Saturday during the warmer months of the year, I find myself returning from the markets with a basket  and bag overflowing with produce – my enthusiasm getting the better of me.

That’s where preserves come in. The following is a simple recipe, though one that produces a delicious jam, packed full of flavour, with just the right amount of tartness from the lemon juice to cut through the syrupy sweetness.

It was a fabulous breakfast this morning of strawberry jam slathered croissants.

Summer Strawberry Jam | Gather and Graze

  • 750g Fresh Strawberries (hulled)
  • 60ml/¼ Cup Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 125ml/½ Cup Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Rose Essence (optional)
  • 500g/2¼ Cups Raw (Caster) Sugar

Place the strawberries, lemon juice, rose essence (if using) and water into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the fruit has softened completely.

Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away for another 10 minutes or so, until thickened. Keep a very good eye on the pot and stir regularly to avoid any burning on the base.

For jam to reach setting point it should be about 105°C (220°F) – test with a thermometer if you have one. Otherwise, have a small plate standing by in the freezer, to which you can scoop a little jam to test  –  put the plate back in the freezer for a minute or two – if it is ready it will gel together nicely, as jam usually does. 

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes (removing any foam from the top) before scooping into warm, sterilised jars. Seal immediately and allow to cool completely.

Cooking Notes:

  • To sterilise the jars and lids – wash in warm, soapy water, then rinse well and place on a tray in an oven pre-heated to 130°C for about 20 minutes. Or you can boil them in a large saucepan for 15 minutes.
  • Be sure to place hot preserves directly into hot jars and cold preserves into cold jars.