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This is fabulous – put it on your pancakes with some lovely berries, slather it in scones with lemon curd or jam, or double the recipe to cheat at a cheesecake slice.


500g light cream cheese

250g regular cream cheese

1/3 cup thickened cream

1 tablespoon custard powder

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

The zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 tablespoons of icing sugar


Use an electric beater to whip until smooth

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Buttermilk scones


3 cups self raising flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons icing sugar

60g salted butter (at room temperature)

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (chilled)

Preheat oven to 200c


Mix the flour, baking powder, and icing sugar in a largish bowl.

Using your fingertips rub in the butter until no large bits remain and it has the texture of breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the centre of the ingredients and add the buttermilk.

Slash through the mixture with a knife until all the ingredients have come together.

Turn the mixture out of the bowl on to a clean bench that has been lightly floured. Knead just until it comes together more will make the scones chewy.

Press the dough out to about 2cm thick. Cut into rounds using a sharp 4cm cutter. Place close together on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Squash the bits that weren’t cut into another 2cm high mound and cut again and repeat until all the dough is used.

Lightly brush the top of each scone with milk.

As soon as you’ve popped them in the oven and closed the door, lower the oven temperature to 175/180c

Bake in the middle of the oven for 10–15 mins or until lightly coloured on the top and bottom.

Makes approximately 18 generous scones.

Serve with lashings of your favourite toppings and a good cup of tea!

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This is my version of a soup a friend made for me from a Donna Hay recipe. It’s hearty and delicious, but even better – it takes less than 20mins for start to serving. It’s tasty and satisfying. We call it ‘Manly Soup’ – because it’s hearty and…. full of balls!

*you could also leave the meatballs out if you wanted a veggie soup, leave the yoghurt out if it’s for vegans


1 brown onion, finely chopped

3 finely sliced garlic cloves

2 teaspoons of olive oil

2 1/2 stock cubes (I use Massell beef)

5 cups of boiling water

1 cup of red lentils

250g chopped frozen spinach

500g lamb mince

2 tablespoons of harissa paste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and Pepper to taste

Thick natural yoghurt, to serve


Gently soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil.

Add the stock and boiling water.

Add the lentils and stir well.

Cook for 7 minutes

While the lentils are cooking – make the meatballs.

Mix the harissa and paprika through the lamb mince.

Use a heaped teaspoon to measure out the meatball mixture and roll in to uniform sized balls.

Add to the soup and cook for a further 6 minutes until cooked through.

Add the frozen spinach. Stir through. As soon as it returns to the boil, it is time to serve.

Ladle generous servings in to bowls and tip with a tablespoon or two of thick natural yoghurt and fresh black pepper.


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You can cheat and use a tin of soup, but of course it’s better when you make the soup from fresh ingredients. (Tinned soup is a time saver on weeknights, fresh soup is great on a weekend when you’re pottering around.)

The Soup.

400g tin of diced vine ripened tomatoes

2 cloves of sliced garlic

1 small brown onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 Massel stock cubes

1.5L of boiling water

1/4 cup of chopped parsley – stalks and all!

1/4 cup of chopped basil – stalks and all!

Salt and pepper


Soften onion and garlic in olive oil.

Add the tomato paste, cook for a minute

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and water

Add the parsley, basil, salt and pepper.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth. (You could keep a ladle or two of the soup aside while blending to add texture)

In the mean time…..

The Meatballs.

500g beef or lamb mince

1 small brown onion – grated

2 garlic cloves – crushed

Salt and pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 TINY pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup of long grain rice

1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley


Combine mince, onion, rice, garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using 1 tablespoonful mixture at a time, roll mixture into balls.

Add meatballs to boiling soup. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice tender and meatballs cooked through.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a garnish of fresh parsley.

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I’m certainly not famous for my baking. These came out a little crispy, next time I might cook them at a slightly lower temperature, but have a go!


2 1/4 cups self-raising flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture

1/4 teaspoon salt

40g butter, chopped

3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup cream

1 tablespoon milk, extra


Step 1
Preheat oven to 200C fan-forced. Line a tray with baking paper. Position the oven rack in the top half of the oven.

Step 2
Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips. Make a well in centre. Pour milk and cream mixture into well. Using a flat-bladed knife, gently stir until dough just comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently for 30 seconds or until just smooth.

Step 3
Press dough into a 2cm-thick round. Using a 5cm round cutter, cut out scones. Press leftover dough together. Repeat to make 12 scones. Place scones, just touching, in prepared pan. Brush with extra milk. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. To test if scones are cooked through, tap gently on top. If it makes a hollow sound, the scones are cooked.

I have also mixed in chopped dates and a splash of maple syrup in the past.

I like to serve them with –

Raspberry jam and cream

Whipped cream cheese with vanilla bean and fresh lemon curd

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A super easy dessert that has the ‘WOW FACTOR’ for summer celebrations.

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You will need

Fresh raspberries and pineapple

2 different tubs of sorbet (soften for 30 minutes, not liquid!)

1 bag of meringue nests/pre-made meringues


Line a large bowl with gladwrap (I didn’t make sure it was smooth and my dessert came out wrinkly!)

Layer scoops of softened sorbet, then scatter raspberries and pineapple, then crumble a layer of meringue. Continue doing this until the bowl is full. Add a layer of Gladwrap to the top of the bowl, and gently press to squash any air pockets.

Freeze for at least 24 hours, or about 3 weeks.

To serve, take off the layer of Gladwrap, turn the bowl on to your serving dish. Remove the outer layer of Gladwrap that remains. Decorate the top with fresh mint and fresh berries.  The full effect will appear when you cut wedges of the pudding to reveal all the colours inside!

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There were some pears left over after I made the pattern at the bottom of the tin. I diced them and mixed them through the batter before transferring it in to the cake tin. 

180g brown sugar

270g unsalted butter, softened

4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 2cm-thick slices

300g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 2/3 cups (250g) plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

80g almond meal

1 cup (250ml) buttermilk

Step 1

Preheat oven to 160°C  fan-forced

Step 2

Grease and line base of a 26cm cake pan with baking paper. Sprinkle brown sugar over base. Melt 100g butter and pour over brown sugar. Top with overlapping pear slices. Place remaining butter and caster sugar in bowl of electric mixer, beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Step 3

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices, fold into egg mixture with almond meal. Stir in buttermilk, then mix to form a smooth batter. Carefully spread over pears.

Step 4

Place pan on a baking tray, cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Step 5

Cover loosely with foil if cake begins to brown too quickly. Remove and cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan and carefully invert onto a plate.

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