20 August 2014

Local Birds + A Walnut Biscuit

On Monday's you will more than likely find me hiding out at a little hole in the wall down one of Melbourne's busy lane ways.  This is no exaggeration as it is literally a hole in the wall, but inside that hole are two of the sweetest ladies you're ever likely to meet.  Also in that hole, you'll also find some of the yummiest food being whipped up.  

A huge smile always appears on my face when Sally whips out the rolling pin and cookie dough, or when we end up playing "waitress" whilst sipping our own coffee.  These lovely ladies have the biggest smiles and hearts in the business and whenever I find myself whipping out my own rolling pin, I always think of them.

So in ode to the beautiful home-made, unpretentious food that comes out of the teeny tiny hole called Local Birds, I dedicate these delicate little biscuits.  Chock full of everything that is good in the world - just like them.....

Walnut, Date and Rosemary Biscuits
(adapted from the Cook Republic Blog)


1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour (or wholewheat flour)
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
1 organic egg

Makes 20 biscuits

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
  3. Using the palm of your hands, shape dough into 1cm thick and 5cm round biscuits and place on prepared tray (these don’t expand and spread).
  4. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes until cookies are golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the tray (these are crumbly but harden as they cool)
  6. Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Local Birds
Shop 2, 304-306 Little Collins St

18 August 2014

Simple Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry !

Somewhere inside me, deep down inside, there is a hidden pastry chef itching to get out as I find the processes of whipping up a batch of pastry so wonderfully soothing, and the thought of needing to whip up a batch, exciting.  Is this just me?

Problem is, in the kitchen, I'm not a perfectionist.  I love, love, love things looking real and home-made and can't stand perfection on the plate.  Maybe that's just me being a lazy Taurean?  (Yeah, I'm thinking I've hit the nail on the head with that statement).

Whether you're like me or a perfectionist, this is a wonderful pastry recipe.  I've never had any problems with it and it turns out a beautifully, buttery pastry case every time.

Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry


200g plain flour
2 tbs cocoa powder
40g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg yolk

Makes a 25cm tart case


  1. Whiz flour, cocoa and sugar in a food processor until combined.
  2. Add butter and process to a fine crumb.
  3. Add yolk and approximately 2 tsp chilled water and process until pastry comes together in a smooth ball.
  4. Flatten into a disc shape and enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes (can be frozen at this stage for later use).

When ready to use:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Lay out 2 pieces of baking paper and place pastry disc in between.  Roll out to your desired size.
  3. Transfer pastry to your loose bottom tart tin, pushing gently into the corners.  Should any splits occur, just press a little extra pastry on top and push to seal in place.
  4. Trim any excess pastry by rolling your rolling pin across the top of your tin.
  5. Line your pastry with a sheet of the baking paper and fill with baking weights.
  6. If pastry is still cold at this stage, place straight into the oven for 10 minutes to blind bake.  If your pastry has dropped in temperature and softened, place into the fridge (or freezer) for 15-20 minutes to re-chill, then place straight into the oven.
  7. After 10 minutes, remove baking weights and paper and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry..
  8. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.

15 August 2014

Lemon Chia Seed Cookies !

All of my adult life I've been obsessed with food.  It's no secret.  I'm constantly planning meals for the next day whilst eating my breakfast.  I read cookbooks curled up in bed, and I find nothing better than roaming around food shops, reading labels...yep, I'm that sad!

That being said, the one thing I no longer obsess about is snacking.  Having spent the last few months getting  rid of sugar cravings....I feel free!  What a brilliant feeling it is!

This time last year I would do the panic run to the shop at lunchtime, just to make sure I had something in my desk draw to snack on "if" I got hungry.  Problem was, whether I was hungry or not, I knew the treat was in my draw so it inevitably got eaten.

You may then wonder why I've gone ahead and baked cookies?

.....because I'm obsessed with baking....and I eat them with my real food.

Just like a little cherry sitting proudly on top of a delicious meal.

Lemon Chia Seed Cookies


165g almond meal
30g brown rice flour
1 heaped tbsp rice malt syrup (or 115g raw sugar)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 organic eggs, separated

Makes 20-25 Cookies


  1. Preheat oven to 140 and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place almond meal, brown rice flour, lemon zest and chia seeds into a medium bowl and mix to fully combine.
  3. Whisk together the egg yolks and rice malt syrup then mix vigorously into the dry ingredients (I find using my hands to be the easiest method)
  4. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into the almond mixture.
  5. Using your hands,, place rounded spoonfuls of mixture onto the baking tray about 2cm apart and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  6. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  7. Store airtight for 2-3 days.

These little cookies are surprisingly light in texture, due to the whisked egg whites.  They're also very low on the sweetness scale (if using the rice malt syrup), but have a lovely fresh flavour which comes from the lemon, making it the perfect match to an "after lunch" cup of tea.  However, be warned - you'll find those pesky little chia seeds popping in your mouth hours after.