Easy Puff Pastry Quiche

“Lunch makes me feel a bit better.” 
~  Suzanne Collins

 

Recently my friend Carly and I popped in to her parents’ house for lunch, and then a tour of her mum’s garden. Jewel made a lovely salad with fresh greens from her vegetable patch, and I took over a simple quiche that I’d whipped up from bits and pieces I had on hand.

(I also took a slab of my favourite fruit cake for us to have with a cup of tea. Rosco, Carly’s dad is a big fruitcake fan!)

Many years ago, when I was a college student, I worked in my holidays as a shearers’ cook on big outback sheep stations. The shearers and shed hands were mad for my quiche, but I didn’t dare call it that – far too fancy a name for them! Instead I called it Bacon and Egg Pie and they’d eat it with lashings of tomato sauce and not a lettuce leaf in sight.

This is a simple meal to throw together, and the puff pastry makes for a yummy texture combination with the silky egg filling.

Serve it warm or cold. It is also great for lunchboxes, will freeze well, or keeps in the fridge for three days.

You can also vary the filling to make this vegetarian, or to use up whatever is in your fridge.

I used a 24cm springform pan to cook my quiche, but you can use any dish that suits your fancy. Just make sure the sides are high enough to contain your filling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry or enough to line your serving dish
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1 onion, diced and sauted in a little oil until soft but not brown
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of diced ham
  • 1/2 cup of diced swiss cheese (if you’re cheese mad use a little more)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of thinly sliced zucchini
  • a handful of grated tasty cheese or parmesan for the top of your quiche
  • salt and pepper
  • a little oil or butter

Want to make this vegetarian? Omit the ham and use a cup of other vegetables of your choice. Capsicum (bell pepper) and broccoli are favourites of mine. Once you’ve made this quiche a few times you’ll be confident to change out the ingredients to make all kinds of flavour combinations.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.

Rub a little oil or butter around the inside of your pie dish and then line it with the pastry making sure. It’s okay to cut pieces to fit. Just overlap them a little and then press them together well. Also make sure that the pastry goes high enough up the sides of your dish. (It’s even okay if it sticks over the top a little. Rustic is good too. Mine’s rustic because I only just had enough pastry to cover the dish roughly.) Then prick the pastry base all over with the tines of a fork.

Now use baking paper to line the inside of the pan, and add some pastry weights. I actually use uncooked brown rice. You could even use dry beans. This is called baking blind, and you do this to enable the base of the pastry to be firm instead of soggy.

Bake the pastry for 10 to 15 minutes and then remove from oven. Drop the temperature of your oven back down to 180 degrees or 170 degrees for fan-forced. Leave your pastry shell to cool for ten minutes and then carefully remove the paper and weights. Replace the shell back in the oven for a further 10 minutes or until the base is golden brown. (Don’t panic if it puffs up. The weight of your filling will sink it back down again.)

 

Prepare the filling for your quiche while your pie crust is in oven:

  1. Dice your onion and then saute the onion in a frypan until pale, soft and slightly coloured but not brown.
  2. Chop your cheese and ham into small cubes.
  3. Slice your zucchini or any other vegetables you are using.
  4. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream and beat together with a fork. Add salt and pepper and mix again.

To finish the quiche add the softened onion to the bottom of the pie. Then sprinkle the cheese and ham into the dish. Pout the egg mixture over and then add the zucchini slices to the top of the egg. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on top and return quiche to the oven. Bake for thirty minutes or until quiche is lightly coloured and firm to touch.

Serve on its own or with a crisp salad.

Here’s the process in pictures:

Our Top Five Comfort Soups for You

That bowl of soup—it was dearer than freedom, dearer than life itself, past, present, and future.  

~ Aleksandr SolzhenitsynOne Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

 

Hi Everyone!

Nicole could not come to write her blog post today due to lack of stable internet connection, but sends her love with top five comfort soup recipes from Cauldrons and Cupcakes to warm your hearts.

1. Heal-All Chicken Soup

The beauty of this soup is that it’s a bone broth, and over time all of the fat and water soluble minerals and good bits dissolve into this magical elixir.  One of the things this soup is chock full of is glycine. The amino acid glycine is great for liver detoxification and regeneration.  Chicken soup is rich in collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), one of which you’ve probably heard of – glucosamine – stunning for artery, bone and joint health.  The gelatin produced from dissolving bones and cartilage in the making of this soup helps heal leaky gut, and also reduces your need for meat and protein.

In Chinese Medicine, bone broths are considered to support the kidneys and kidney meridians, and as such are also useful for healthy teeth, bones and adrenal gland function. So if you have adrenal fatigue this is a super recipe for you!”

 

2. Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder Recipe

“This one’s a household favourite – quick to make, hearty and satisfying – and it can easily be made as a vegan, gluten and/or dairy free, vegetarian or bacon-y delight. Just adjust the ingredients according to my suggestions and your preferences.”

 

3. How to make Bone Broth

Bone broth is essentially bones and vegetables simmered together over long periods of time to produce a rich flavoursome liquid. I make a big pot of this nourishing broth weekly, and it’s an important part of my healing regime. I’d always made my own stock, but after I began to understand the benefits of consuming bone broths I made them much more central to my regular meals. Maybe you should too!

 

Soup is one of those all-time comfort foods for a very good reason. Problem is, so many soup recipes take hours to cook. That’s why I love this one. It’s fast to make, economical, and entirely delicious. It takes less than ten minutes to prep the soup ingredients which magically merge together in just twenty minutes cooking time to produce a hearty, nutritious meal in a bowl.

 

“This soup can be made as vegan, vegetarian, low carb or paleo. I encourage you to experiment. It’s soup, people, not rocket science. Taste as you go, and adjust if necessary. Soup is nutritious, economical and easy. I hope that you’ll soon be making super and adventurous soups as a regular part of your household management plan.”

 

We hope you enjoy our little offering today.  Chelsi (Nicole’s VA)   xx

Vanilla Cake with Passionfruit Glaze

“Through enjoyment we endure.” 
~ Florence Ditlow

 

Looking for an easy, moist and yummy vanilla cake? My Nana Cody used to make this simple cake every school holidays when we were children. The only thing that ever varied was the flavour of icing she’d add to the top. It’s pretty much a foolproof recipe, which is one of the many reasons for loving this cake. Plus, it’s DELICIOUS!!!

When Nana married, my Gran (great grandmother!) passed her copy of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery and a notebook full of family recipes and household hints to Nana help her manage as a new wife. By the time I came along decades later both books had been very well used. The notebook was food-stained and stuffed with cuttings from magazines and recipes jotted down onto the backs of envelopes or notepaper from thoughtful friends. This Vanilla Cake from Nana’s notebook had an extra page beside it on which Gran Heppell had written several variations and suggestions for serving:

  • Serve plain and fresh with hot tea for workers or a slice with first tea before breakfast.
  • Good plain for an upset stomach. Crumb and add to milk for fussy children.
  • Split in half. Spread jam over bottom of cake and then a generous serve of whipped cream. Replace lid and dust with icing sugar to serve.
  • Fill with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream slightly sweetened and vanilla added. Dust top of cake.
  • Fill with lemon curd and a layer of whipped cream. Dust top.
  • For a marble cake split mixture into three bowls. Add pink colouring to one, and a teaspoon or two of cocoa to the second until a good colour is obtained. Add each colour in spoonfuls to greased cake pan and swirl together slightly with a knife blade.
  • Make a buttercream and add to it the pulp of one or two passionfruit. Fill sponge with buttercream and ice with a glaze to which more passionfruit has been added.

I wrote those notes carefully into my own kitchen notebook and have made many many variations of this cake ever since. It is always a good and easy cake to make, which never fails. Yesterday we had a farm full of visitors and workers, so I whipped the cake up in the morning, ready for smoko. By dinner there were only crumbs left in the cake tin!

Here’s Nana’s Mrs Beeton’s which is now mine!

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 grams of soft butter
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt

Cake Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Place the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer in the order given above. Wet ingredients must go in last!
  4. Mix at low speed for one minute or until combined.
  5. Beat at high speed for three to four minutes until batter is pale and creamy and smooth.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  7. Cool cake completely before filling or icing as required.

NB: Failure to adhere to ingredient order and placing flour in mixing bowl last may result in a cloud of flour covering you and/or the kitchen. You have been warned! And yes, I totally forgot and look what happened. 

To split the cake for filling use a large serrated knife and cut horizontally through the middle of the cake. Gently lift the top and place aside on a tea-towel or clean plate while adding filling to the bottom half of the cake.

Passionfruit Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 125 grams softened butter
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • Pulp and juice of one to two passionfruit

Method:

  1. Beat butter until whipped and creamy
  2. Gradually add icing sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. After the first 1/2 cup of icing sugar add a little passionfruit pulp. Beat well and then continue adding sugar, alternating with passionfruit. When the icing is very thick and creamy spoon onto the bottom layer of cake and replace top half of cake.

Passionfruit Glaze Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • the juice and pulp of one to two passionfruit

Method:

  1. To make the icing (frosting) sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the softened butter and the pulp of one passionfruit. Beat well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. If mixture is too stiff add extra passionfruit until the correct consistency is reached.
  2. Spread onto the top of the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.

Serve with a nice cup of tea, in the company of friends.

Or eat it all yourself. It’s up to you, really! 😀

Much love, Nicole xx

PS – Have you noticed how much Rufous seems to end up in all my food shots? He’s so like our old dog Bert it’s uncanny!

 

Yummy Sweet Treats for You!

“Love is like a good cake; you never know when it’s coming, but you’d better eat it when it does!”
―  C. JoyBell C.

 

Hello Lovelies,

Nicole is in bed today feeling sick. So I made her take a break and prepared this blog post for you. I hope you enjoy our top 5 yummy treats from Cauldrons and Cupcakes!

 

1Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe

“This pudding is one of the first desserts I mastered on my own, ably taught by my Nana when I was a small girl.  It’s a very child-friendly dish for little hands eager to help out with dinner. This is easy and fast to make, and you can use whatever ingredients you have in the pantry. The lemon zest in this recipe gives the pudding a lovely citrus-y tang.”

 

2. No-Bake Yummy Slice Recipe

“It’s a delicious combination of apricots, nuts, oats, seeds and a dash of chocolate, and there’s no baking involved at all – just a little heating of a few wet ingredients.  This slice has been a stalwart at my workshops, and it’s a great standby recipe for school holidays, or as a lunchbox treat.  I also like to give it as a gift. It makes an ample batch, which is handy because it seems to get eaten very fast.”

 

3. Nana’s Passionfruit Slice Recipe

“Each time I make this I think of my Nana and her friends, sitting drinking cups of tea, eating slice and chatting during the long days of the War, with the rations and limitations and hardships.

There’s a lot of comfort to be had in a cup of tea and a slice.”

 

4. Walnut and Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites – Fit for a Prince!

“A variation of a macaroon, these Bites are gluten-free and can also be sugar-free, so they are great for diabetics and people with food intolerances or following a paleo diet.”

 

5. Five-Minute Fudge Recipe

“A few years ago a friend gave me a recipe she uses to make commercial quantities of fudge for a fudge house.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was, or how great it turned out. And it only takes five minutes.”

 

We hope you enjoy looking at this and most of all cooking and eating these yummy treats! Nicole sends her love!

 

 ❤ Chelsi

Nana’s Quick Coffee Cake

Nana’s Quick Coffee Cake – made fancy with maple-butter frosting and a sprinkling of pecan nuts

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” 
~ Gustav Mahler

 

When I need a yummy cake in a hurry this is the first recipe I think of: Nana’s Quick Coffee Cake.

My nana was a plain cook, but her food was delicious. Her Quick Coffee Cake is everything a coffee cake should be – moist, buttery, flavoursome, made with everyday ingredients from the pantry – and it’s simple enough to be whipped up in minutes (plus baking time).

Nana used to make an un-iced version of this cake that my Pa would have with his morning cuppa. If visitors were coming Nana always added a sweet coffee glaze on top, just to fancy things up.

I learned to bake this cake when I was about seven – old enough to reach the kitchen bench and to work the oven without setting the house alight. This cake is a recipe that Gran Heppell  (my paternal great-grandmother) taught Nana when she was just a girl. The recipe lives in my head now after making it so many times, but when I was younger I was also careful to write it down. Just in case.

I’ve given two versions for the icing (frosting for the non-Australians!) Mine is made with maple syrup, because it gives a great complimentary flavour, but Nana’s coffee glaze is delicious too.

 

Ingredients for cake:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 flat teaspoon instant coffee, dissolved in one teaspoon of boiling water (if you can be bothered – I never am)
  • 3/4 cup  sugar
  • 1/2 cup  milk

Ingredients for icing/frosting:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup OR one to two tablespoons strong hot coffee
  • 1/3 cup pecans – chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Add all cake ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor. Mix for three minutes on medium speed.
  4. Spread the batter into your cake tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and then check. Cake is baked if it springs back when touched in the middle, or if a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave a little longer if not quite done.
  6. Remove cake from oven. Cool in tin for five to ten minutes and then place onto a rack to cool completely.
  7. Place cake on serving plate.
  8. To make the icing (frosting) sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the softened butter and either the maple syrup or the coffee. Beat well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Spread onto the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.
  9. If you are making the maple icing, chop some pecan nuts and sprinkle over the icing, pressing them slightly with your clean hand to ensure that they stick to the cake.

 

Easy Orange Butter Cake Recipe

“Mma Ramotswe sighed. ‘We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.’
‘That is true,’ said Mma Potokwane sadly. ‘There are many temptations in this life, but cake is probably one of the biggest of them.”
~  Alexander McCall Smith

 

When you live on a farm it’s a different way of life to being in the city. When neighbours drop by it’s still a trek. If the tractor repair man comes he’s had a fair drive before he gets to us. The same for any kind of tradesperson. If friends are in the neighbourhood, having travelled to our part of the world for some other reason, they’ll often call ahead to see if we are home. And then all of them pop in for a cuppa.

If it’s morning, we’ll have morning tea. If it’s midday I can always rustle up extra food for lunch. Afternoon tea is a chance to stop on the veranda for a while to escape the heat of the day, or to pop inside by the wood fire to warm up before heading back out to the paddocks again. Any time’s a good time for a smoko break when friends drop by. (Smoko is not Australian slang for a cigarette break – smoko is a break from work, where hot tea is served, and something to eat.)

This orange cake is a smoko favourite. If we are working down at the cattle yards or heading out bush I will leave the cake un-iced so that it travels better. But at home, especially with visitors coming, the icing makes the cake just that little bit fancier.

Our orange trees are full of fruit right now, so it’s only a short walk for us to grab a couple sun-warmed and fresh from the tree.

This is a lovely, moist buttery cake with good flavour. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family do! It cooks up beautifully with gluten-free flour too. 🙂

Lots of love, Nicole xx

Cake Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, softened (If it’s cold, let it come to room temperature or you’ll be mixng it forever to get it to cream with the sugar. If it’s very hot – like Australia in summer – just remove from butter from fridge, cut into cubes and place into mixer. It will soon warm up on its own.)
  • 1 rounded cup of castor sugar (rounded means a little bit heaped rather than flat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tblspn finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups of sifted self-raising flour (it’s fine to use your favourite gluten-free flour if you want)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice

For the icing (frosting):

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tblspn softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice

Tip: For an extra flavour boost you can also use a good food-grade orange essential oil, 3 drops for the cake and 3 for the icing. I use Young Living essential oils, and I just love them!

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Beat the butter until soft in an electric mixer and then gradually add the sugar. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and thick. This takes a few minutes on medium speed.
  4. Add eggs one at a time on low speed, beating well after each one.
  5. Add orange zest and a couple of drops of food grade orange essential oil if you are using it.
  6. Stop the mixer and dump the sifted flour into the bowl. Mix on slow speed until well combined. Use a scraper to push the mixture on the sides of the bowl down into the batter if necessary and then mix again.
  7. With the mixer still on slow speed pour the orange juice in little by little until all combined.
  8. Spread the batter into your cake tin and smooth the surface, making the centre of the cake just slightly lower than the sides. This stops it rising too high when it bakes.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes and then check. Cake is baked if it springs back when touched in the middle, or if a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave a little longer if not quite done.
  10. Remove cake from oven. Cool in tin for five to ten minutes and then place onto a rack to cool completely.
  11. Place cake on serving plate.
  12. Add the orange juice, essential oil (if using) and softened butter to the sifted icing sugar, stirring well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Spread onto the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.
  13. If you want to be fancy you can add some extra grated zest, candied peel or orange slices, sprinkles, coconut or white chocolate curls to decorate the top of the cake (I usually don’t bother.)
  14. Serve with a good cup of coffee or a pot of tea. I especially enjoy Earl Grey or French Earl Grey with this cake, but Irish Breakfast is also fabulous.

Easy No-Bake Apricot and White Chocolate Slice

“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. ” 
~  David Walliams

 

My lovely friend Kerry and her daughter Philomena came to visit on the weekend. (You may remember me introducing you to Kerry – she’s the talented woman who made the short documentary about my Retreats which you can view here).

Of course you can’t have friends over for a cup of tea without having some kind of tasty offering, and this simple no-bake slice is so quick and easy. I learned this recipe as a child, and it’s certainly a keeper. Eating it always takes me back to school holidays at my Nana’s house and spending time with her neighbour Mrs Mac, a CWA member and ex WW2 army cook who was a great influence on my early cooking skills.

The only change I’ve made to that old recipe is to add in some white chocolate, which makes it feel just a tad more fancy.

This is a great lunchbox treat, and is lovely for morning or afternoon tea. It also travels well for picnics, and I often use it for smoko when we are down at the cattle yards or out in the paddock. It’s sweet and fudgy and delicious.

I hope you enjoy it.

Lots of love, Nicole xx

Ingredients:

  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • ½ tin sweetened condensed milk (200 grams)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 x 250g packet of plain sweet biscuits, crushed (I prefer Malt biscuits)
  • 200g white chocolate buttons (optional but so good!)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. Chop your apricots finely (or save time and buy a packet of diced apricots!)
  2. Crush the biscuits by placing in a plastic bag and smashing with a rolling pin, or whizz them in a food processor. (Note: It is perfectly acceptable as the cook to have a biscuit to nibble on as you prepare the others for your recipe.)
  3. Set aside 2/3 of the white chocolate buttons.
  4. Grease a 20cm x 30cm slice tin with butter, or line it with baking paper so that the paper covers the bottom and the sides of the tin.
  5. Place the butter, condensed milk and sugar into a large saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until the butter has melted. Do not boil! Remove from heat.
  6. Dump the crushed biscuits and apricots into the melted butter mixture and stir well. Then add 1/3 of the white chocolate buds. Stir into the mixture which will be quite thick.
  7. Pat the mix into the prepared tin using the back of a spoon or your clean wet hands. (wet hands stops the mixture sticking and helps you smooth the top)
  8. Sprinkle with the coconut.
  9. Melt the remaining white chocolate (in a microwave or over a double boiler) and drizzle over the slice in a decorative pattern.
  10. Place slice in fridge to set, which will take about four hours.
  11. Cut into small slices to serve. This slice will keep refrigerated for one week, if it lasts that long.

Here is the recipe and the taste test in pictures for you (and you’ll notice that Rufous Dog has a great interest in all things food…):