22 May 2018

Lemon and cardamon sponge cake with berries

Now that spring has truly come to Switzerland, I felt in the mood for a delicious, light and bright sponge cake piled high with berries and cream. It reminds me of summer in Sweden relaxing in the archipelago. This sponge cake is so lovely I've baked it at least three times since writing the recipe a few weeks ago. I added the lemon for extra brightness and the cardamon gives it a very subtle spicy note.

240g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
250g plain flour
5 large eggs
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
The zest of one lemon
A pinch of salt
1/4 tsp of cardamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tsp milk

500 ml cream
1 tsp caster sugar
Raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries
Fresh strawberries
Fresh blueberries
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat your oven to 175°C. Butter and line a spring form pan with baking paper.

Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy - it should turn a paler yellow colour. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Keep whisking until the eggs are well combined and the mixture is fluffy. In another bowl mix the flour and baking powder together so they are well combined and then sift this into the egg mixture, adding the lemon zest, cardamon, vanilla essence and milk. Fold in together.

Pour the batter into your spring form pan and place in the oven for 35 minutes. Check to see if it's cooked by inserting a knife into the middle. If it comes out clean, its ready, if not, put it back in for another 5 minutes or so.

Once baked, cool on a wire rack. When the cake is cool, cut the cake in half and fill with jam, whipped cream and fresh berries. cover the top with cream and decorate with more berries and a little icing sugar if you like.

Sit in the sunshine and enjoy a piece of fluffy, delicious cake.


22 April 2018

Slow Cooked Beef Massaman Curry

Thai Massaman Beef Curry
Massaman curry is one of our favourites. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places near us making great versions of it. So we set about re-creating one to our liking.

For us, the meat should be so tender it should fall apart when touched with a fork. The potato should be just right, not too soft and mushy, but not hard either. There should be a healthy hit of peanut flavour and a hint of citrus tang. Not too much to ask for.

To achieve Massaman curry perfection, you’ll need to make it a few times and get a feel for it. The recipe below is our starting point. The key is making sure you cook the beef for a long time.

  • 4 tablespoons of curry paste (store bought, or homemade)
  • 1 kg beef, cut into 2-3 cm cubes
  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 400mL Coconut milk
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • Cornflour
  • A Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 cups of water (1 L)

Peel the onions and the potatoes. Chop the potatoes into 3-4cm cubes and cut the onions into thin wedges.

Cut the beef into 3 cm cubes. We used beef shoulder. Dust the beef in a mixture of cornflour and salt, and then brown in the pan and set aside.

Roast the peanuts until golden (3-5 min), and set aside with the beef.

Put half the coconut milk into a large pot on medium heat. Add the Massaman curry paste and stir to break up and infuse. Keep stirring to avoid sticking to the bottom. Add in the beef and peanuts and coat with the thick sauce. Cook for a few minutes until the flavors infuse.

Add in the remaining coconut milk, onions, the bay leaf and the water. (You could add the potato now, although we prefer to cook the meat a bit longer and add the potato an hour before serving)

Bring the liquid up to a simmer, and simmer for around an hour or until the meat is tender. (If you held back the potatoes, don’t forget to add them in.)

Once everything is nice and tender, add in the seasonings of tamarind, palm sugar and salt to taste. The tamarind gives a nice citrus type of flavour, and brightens the curry before serving. You could also use lime juice, or a bit of orange juice for a different take.

Serve over freshly cooked rice.

Ingredients for homemade curry paste (see here)


15 April 2018

Eight hour slow roasted lamb with lemon, couscous and tzatziki

Slow cooked lamb is one of life's greatest joys and the addition of lemon to this recipe reduces some of the richness and makes this a perfect spring or summer time meal.

It might sound like a lot of work, but once you taste this recipe, you will feel very happy about your decision to make it! The lamb just falls off the bone in tender pieces, and the vegetables cooked in the juices are delicious. We couldn't stop eating this until nothing was left!
  • 2kg lamb shoulder (enough for four people)
  • 10 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 15 - 20 cherry tomatoes - I chose a mixed variety
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 shallots 
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 zucchinis
  • Couscous
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 400g Greek yogurt 
  • 1 cucumber
  • Fresh mint (optional)

On the night before, take your lamb and place it into a large roasting pan. Rub the lamb with olive oil, lemon, salt, cinnamon and oregano.

Optional - the night before I also decanted my Greek yogurt into a strainer to remove some of the liquid and left this to strain overnight.

On the next day, preheat the oven to 160°C.

Take your lamb from the fridge about 30 minutes before you'd like to begin roasting, and rub with more olive oil and salt. Slice the red onion and shallots into rings and place under the lamb, along with most of the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cherry tomatoes and garlic around the lamb. Cut the lemons into quarters and squeeze over the lamb, then place around the lamb. Place the bay leaf in the pan and then pour about 1cm of water into the pan.

Cover the top of the pan in baking paper and seal the edges with aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 4 hours at 160°C and then for a further 4 hours at 150°C.

Every two hours or so I checked to make sure there was still water, and to baste the lamb with the juices. In the last hour I added the zucchini and a few extra cherry tomatoes. If your lamb isn't golden on top, you may like to turn the oven up to 180°C and bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

For the tzatziki, thinly slice and roughly dice half a cucumber. If needed, remove some of the water from the cucumber using a strainer. Add this to a bowl with the Greek yogurt, 1 or 2 crushed cloves of fresh garlic, salt, mint, and a little olive oil and combine.

For the couscous, I like to bake mine in the oven so that it becomes light, fluffy and delicious. In an oven friendly pot, pour as much couscous as you'd like, then rinse it under some water and pour out most of the water, leaving a tablespoon or two. Add some salt and mix through the couscous. Add a couple of tablespoons of salted butter and place the lid on the pot. Place in the oven at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Sprinkle with roasted almonds to serve if you like.

11 March 2018

A lovely guide to the Black Forest, Germany

I've always dreamed of visiting the Black Forest, it conjured up images of fairy tales, mysterious woods and beautiful little villages. We also discovered that it was home to one of the loveliest restaurants in Germany - Schwarzwaldstube. So we packed our bags and went on a ten day adventure through this beautiful region, nestled in the south-western corner of Germany.


What route to take?

Firstly, I recommend going by car unless you want to explore by bike. Public transportation dosen't seem easily accessible here, particularly in some of the smaller villages.

There are many routes you can take - following the panoramic Schwarzwaldhochstrasse for example, or the Deutsche Uhrenstraße (The German Clock Route) to visit areas where cuckoo clocks were and are still being made.

We decided to choose our own adventure and stay in Baden-Baden, then travel through the Black Forest towards Freiburg, stopping in a few places along the way.

Tip: If you see brown signs along the roads with something along the lines of Fachwerkhäuser written on it (and quite often accompanied by a little picture of houses), I highly recommend turning off to take a look. They mark beautiful old towns with the traditional Black Forest wooden houses in them.

Baden Baden

Baden Baden

First stop on our trip was the charming old-world spa town of Baden Baden. This town is said to have been founded by the Romans and at one time was a favourite haunt of European royalty who came to take the waters. When you are finished visiting the spas, you can wander along the peaceful Lichtentaler Allee that follows the river Oos (but no matter now tempting, don't sit on the grass, apparently that is verboten!).

Lovely Places
When in Rome, go to the naked spa - Baden Baden, as the name suggests, is famous for its thermal baths, and the most famous of all is Friedrichsbad. It's a Roman-Irish bathing experience in 17 stages of steam rooms, massage, showers, bathing, etc. If you are ever feeling sad I can highly recommend reading the trip advisor reviews, a mix of people throwing caution to the wind and enjoying the naked experience, Europeans wondering why people from other countries are so worried about bathing naked, and those who are not so impressed by seeing more of their fellow guests than they had anticipated.

If you'd prefer to wear a swimsuit then the Caracalla spa is the place for you - a series of indoor and outdoor pools and spas of varying temperatures, steam rooms and saunas (this bit is a no-clothing area).

A slightly random thing to see in Baden Baden is the Faberge Museum, with a large collection of Faberge eggs and other treasures.

Dessert at Wintergarten in Baden Baden
Delicious Food
We enjoyed dinner here so much we had to come twice! Set in the beautiful gardens and what is almost like a glasshouse adjoining Brenners Park hotel and Spa, this restaurant overlooks parkland and the little river that runs through Baden Baden. Service was fantastic and the food was seasonal and delicious - the dessert was even more amazing than it looks in the picture above! If you are lucky you might see a cute white cat prancing in the grass while you eat.

Cafe König
This lovely cafe serves cakes, ice cream sundaes, savory food (but who has time for that in a place like this). Their Black Forest cake was very solid, but quite strong on alcohol, I can highly recommend the parcels of homemade biscuits to take home with you, they were delicious!

Hotel Belle Epoque

Where to stay

Hotel Belle Epoque
We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Belle Epoque and it was charming is a very old world manner. The rooms were ornate and eccentric. Every day there was afternoon tea inside by the fireplace and outside on the terrace. Breakfast was nice but not amazing. Next time I think we'll try Brenners Park hotel and Spa.

Exploring the region

On our way to our next hotel we drove around the region passing sweet little houses and a lot more farmland than I expected. For some reason I thought the whole area was dense with mysterious forests. That said, we did find actual forest by taking a few random turns down tiny little dirt roads. My best suggestion is just to explore and see what you find!

Our next destination was Traube Tonbach in the northern Black Forest area. It's located just near the tiny town of Baiersbronn. This area has 8 Michelin Stars sprinkled across three restaurants. Quite remarkable for such a quiet part of the world!

Traube Tonbach

Traube Tonbach

Not a village, but a destination in it's own right. Our whole reason for going on this trip was to dine at Schwarzwaldstube, and after a few days of looking at nearby accommodation,  the hotel attached to the restaurant - Traube Tonbach - seemed like the best option. It's nestled on one side of a valley and yes, the hotel itself looks very 70s, but don't let that put you off. The mostly German clientele have been coming here for years, sometimes generations. Once we got over the austere appearance of our room we began to see why. Service was amazing and we felt at home immediately - it only took a day for the lovely staff here to recognise us and every evening one of the owners would walk around and greet everyone, giving tips for what to see and do.

I think it's one of those places you could just go to for a week and people would ask you what on earth you did in a hotel in a random valley in the Black Forest and you'd not really be able to offer a convincing reply - oh I ate the most delicious breakfast of my life (it really was, I've never had a better hotel breakfast), or I spent five hours in the spa every day and tried all twelve of the saunas, or I went on a very nice hike past lots of wildflowers - but you'd come back feeling relaxed and very happy and wanting to book another trip.

Five minutes walk from the hotel was this beautiful path leading to numerous hiking trails. One day the hotel packed us a picnic lunch to take on our hike and we found a backpack filled with champagne, a delicious assortment of sandwiches, salad and dessert.


One of the nights we were there we had dinner at the three Michelin starred Schwarzwaldstube. The restaurant is modern yet with small wooden details that remind you that you are in the Black Forest.

We both had the large degustation menu and it was filled with delicious seasonal offerings. The food looked and tasted like what it was supposed to be, which I really appreciated. There were less tricks and crazy techniques than some others we've been to (thank goodness), instead the chefs focused on delicious flavour, rich sauces and fresh, seasonal produce. Service was amazing.

We decided to enjoy the moment and so didn't take any photos (we are bad food bloggers!), but their website is filled with enough to tempt you into visiting!



One of the last stops on our Black Forest adventure was Gegenbach. It's one of the most picturesque towns in the region, and the number of tour buses arriving testified to that. It definitely wasn't the most calm place, but worth a quick stop. I found an amazing antique store just off the main square - unfortunately it had only just opened and the owner didn't have a sign yet so I have no idea what it is called, but he was selling very well priced, beautiful items from France - if you can find it you won't be disappointed.



Lastly we traveled to Freiburg, the medieval self proclaimed gateway to the Black Forest. This was the only part of the trip I didn't really enjoy. I found the city really crowded and not very charming. It might be worth visiting as a day trip, but I would spend the night in a cute village nearby!


5 March 2018

Sausage rolls with caramelized onion and tomato sauce

After many weeks of grey, cold, snowy weather here in Switzerland, all I could think about having for lunch this weekend was a delicious sausage roll to remind me of Australia. This recipe is inspired by one from our favourite cooking magazine - Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Sausage rolls
  • 600g puff pastry (I used two 300g pieces)
  • 600g minced beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 small onion very finely chopped
  • Two eggs - one for the filling, one lightly beaten for washing the sausage rolls
  • Sesame seeds (optional for sprinkling over the top)
Caramelized red onion and tomato sauce
  • 3 red onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I like fresh garlic as it tastes a little more sweet), finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 4 tbsp of passata  
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar 
For the caramelized red onion and tomato sauce, begin by finely slicing the three red onions into half moons, then cooking very slowly on a low heat in your frying pan with a good dollop of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. It will take at least 20 minutes of slow cooking for them to begin to caramelize.

While the onions are cooking, slice your capsicum into strips and drizzle with a little oil and then place them in the oven on a baking tray at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes until golden.

Once the onions are caramelized, deglaze the pan with your apple cider vinegar and add in the garlic, then the paprika and chopped fresh tomato, turning the heat of the stove up a little.

Cook for another 10 minutes or so before adding in the passata and capsicum from the oven. Blend with a stick blender and then season to taste.

For the sausage rolls, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Dry roast the cumin seeds in a pan then crush with a mortar and pestle. In a bowl combine the beef, breadcrumbs, spices, onion, egg, and salt (also pepper if you like) and mix well.

Take your puff pastry out of the fridge and cut into 45cm x 15cm pieces or into a rectangular shape that works with the size of your dough and gives you room to completely encase your minced meat. Place the filling in a sausage shape near to one edge. Wash the inside with egg and wrap the dough around to form a cylinder and seal the edges. Then refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.

When you want to bake them, take the rolls out of the fridge and slice into 6cm long pieces. Slice along the top, wash with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25 minutes on a tray. Eat with your delicious sauce and be happy!

An alternative filling would be to toast a handful of pine nuts in a fry pan until golden, and add these once cool, along with a small handful of raisins to the mixture to have more of a kofte filling. You could even use lamb mince in place of beef. These would be delicious with a tzatziki dip!
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