Taking Frankie For a Walk - Lemon Meringue Pie

These school free days I'm planning some cooking firsts. Makin' pastry. Makin' pasta. Makin' bread. Mmm, carbs - my favourite flavour. Not without a little help from my friends, though, and this week I thought it would be a good chance to take Frankie out and about and see how she cooks.

Frankie's Aftertoon Tea is a lovley book shaped around a lovely concept. Recipes practised, tweaked and loved by generations are presented for your baking pleasure among beautiful photographs and sweet stories of afternoon teas with mums and grandmas.

I'd never made - nor, I confess, eaten - Lemon Meringue Pie, but it looked awfully pretty, so I put my dinner party guests at risk and gave it a go. It turned out rather well (despite a tense and somewhat masterchef moment where I was convinced it wasn't set on the inside) so I thought I'd present the recipe for you here, with some tips and tricks gleaned along the way, and a whole hearted reccomendation of the book.

Kate Fitzgerald's Lemon Meringue Pie

What You Will Need:
  • 70g SR flour
  • 130g plain flour
  • 120g cold butter, cubed (I used Lurpak - delish)
  • 1 large happy free range egg


  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon


  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 tbsp sugar

What You Will Need to Do:

Let's start by making the pastry. First step: don't be scared. If you have a food processor, it's the easiest thing in the world. Even if you don't, I imagine it would still be very simple, just slightly messier!

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine your sifted flours, sugar and butter in a food processor. Blend until it looks like fine, soft breadcrumbs.
  • Add egg and continue to process until the the mixture comes together in a ball. This might take a little while - don't take it out to soon, it will come together. Just keep hittin' that pulse button. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Roll out your dough on a well floured surface, until it fits a 22cm pie dish. Don't stress if it's a bit crumbly.
  • Gently transfer into your dish, patch up any cracks and trim the edges.
  • Blind bake for ten minutes, remove rice or weights and bake for a further ten or fifteen minutes, or until lightly coloured. Set aside and allow to cool.
I always use rice for blind baking, and it always works out fine. I also never have the patience to let things fully cool, and that works out okay too! Now onto the filling...

  • Combine sifted flours and sugar in a small saucepan.
  • Add the lemon juice and one cup of boiling water, stirring well to combine.
  • Cook until it thickens, probably 5 to 10 minutes. Remember to keep stirring - I was somewhat distracted by visitors at this point, and it got a little bit lumpy. Luckily, I did what Simon Bryant always does when things go a bit wrong: strain it and hope for the best.
  • Add egg yolks, rind and butter. Stir well. Poor into your (mostly) cool pastry.
Now we make the meringue. Again, not as hard as you might think! The recipe specifies a glass bowl - I used ceramic, it was fine. As long as it isn't metal, you'll be fine. Make sure your bowl is completely dry as well, water does damage to meringue!

  • Beat egg whites until stiff
  • Gradually add sugar, and beat until thick and fluffy.
  • Pile it on top of the filling, use spatula to swirl into pretty patterns, thusly:

Warm in the oven until brown on top, and enjoy with ice cream and friends.

I didn't manage to get a photo of it cut open - we got stuck in a little too quickly for me to intrude with awkward photo taking (interupting dinner to take photos is the curse of the food blogger). You'll have to trust me when I say it was simply lovely, and that my grandma would approve.

Get Out Your Measuring Cups (Almond & Apple Crumble Cake)

Well folks, this is my unprecedented second blog post of the week... I can scarcely believe it! But believe I must, and all things considered it's really no surprise that I've posted twice this week. It's cold outside, the weather is unruly, the wind messes up my hair, and staying inside baking is vastly more enjoyable than braving the elements to take in some fresh evening air. So, second post of the week! It's a cracker, it really is.

Almond and Apple Crumble Cake

Brought to you via my grandmother, who kindly shares her cooking secrets, if I remember my pleases and thankyous.

What You Will Need:
  • 250g sugar
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 apples, peeled, halved and thinly sliced. I used a granny smith and two pink ladies (Oooh-er!)
For the crumble:
  • 60g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons of flour (approx)
What you will need to do:

1. Using an electric beater, beat cream until stiff. Add eggs one at a time, stir in essence, baking powder, sifted flour and sugar. Your batter should be quite thick, but smooth and glossy.

2. Pour cake batter into a greased 20cm spring form cake tin. Arrange sliced apples over the top of the cake in layers. (Three apples covers the top of the cake completely, and then some.)

3. Bake cake at 180 degrees celsius for approximately 45 minutes. My oven is very old and not particularly hot, so my cake took almost an hour. I'd suggest checking your cake at 40 minutes, if it's not cooked through, continue to bake until the batter is no longer wobbly. Keep your oven at a moderate temperature setting to avoid burning your cake at the bottom.

4. While the cake is cooking, blend all topping ingredients over a low heat. Add enough flour that the mixture absorbs all the melting butter and begins to crumble - three tablespoons is just a guide.

5. Once your cake is no longer wobbly in the centre (at the 45 minute mark or thereabouts) tip the crumble mixture over the cake and bake until browned. Serve warm with cream, or cool - depending on your inclination. Served warm the cake falls apart in a most appealing, steaming, apple-scented fashion.

So there you have it. Don't get used to my twice-weekly blogging enthusiasm. I have a sneaking suspicion that I baked tonight to fill the gaping hole that Masterchef has left in my evenings... hopefully I'll stop feeling separation anxiety soon and my normal lazy weeknights will return. I enjoyed the musical stylings of Mr Andrew Bird whilst baking this cake. I strongly suggest you check out his takeaway show over at the amazing La Blogotheque - possibly my all time favourite website. Check out these Takeaway Shows if your evenings are feeling a little empty now that Poh and Justine and Julie (and Gary, and George, and Matt) have left your weeknights. They're just great.

My Kitchen: A photographic essay born of blogging laziness.

I'm feeling a little out of sorts tonight. I've just returned home after a weekend away, I rose at the ungodly hour of 5 in the morning to catch my flight back to Melbourne, and although I have a few new recipes I'm dying to share, I don't have the energy to attempt a decent blog post tonight.

I've just spent a lovely weekend enjoying the generosity of friends and family back in Canberra. I've had to say goodbye to them all for another unknown stretch of time, and after a crappy day at work made worse by a bad case of the sads, the one thing that lifted my spirits when I walked through my front door was my lovely little kitchen, with my clutter strewn throughout, tea in the pantry and leftovers in the fridge.

I've been intending to share these photos of my kitchen for a while now: almost every recipe I post has been cooked and eaten here. I'm feeling tired and lazy and missing my friends, and tonight seems like the perfect time to say "I heart you Kitchen, thanks for minding the food while I was away."

These Demon (Holi)Days

Jennifer Davis - Float

Not studying and working part time is a pretty sweet deal. I seem to spend most of my time making lists. I have made you one today:

What I am eating right now, that I think you should probably be eating right now too: Ricotta on toast with a thin slice of fresh tomato, salt, pepper and a drizzle of balsamic. No really. It’s super tasty and your mum will be pleased you’re having vegetables for breakfast. (NB: Get your ricotta from the deli, it should be firm and crumbly. Don't get that soupy stuff that comes in containers, it would be terrible on toast!)

Music I am listening to right now: The Evangelist by Robert Forster (from the Go-Betweens). It is really, really nice. He's the guest speaker at the launch of the Nick Cave Exhibition at my work, and I will be quite thrilled to be in the same room as him. Although not allowed to go anywhere near him, I suspect, for fear of embarrasing the fine institution for which I work. Demon Days is so lovely.

Art that I am enjoying browsing online and dreaming of owning: Jennifer Davis, (see above) with thanks to Ellen for sharing her with me.

Things I have cooked recently: Ricotta Berry Muffins, Fresh Corn Casserole, and Tomato Pasta Sauce.

What I am regretting: Not listening to Animal Collective’s latest album sooner. I could have spent that many more days with it. Wasted time, my friends. If you haven't yet, listen to My Girls, the timpani drum that comes in at about 2 minutes made me stop in the middle of the street. (Maybe don’t listen to it while you’re crossing the street).

Reasons I am pleased the internet exists: Free Rice.com, which is the best thing ever. Waste time on the internet and help the poverty stricken at the same time! TVTropes: because I’m really into this wasting time on the internet thing. Janene Garofalo on Youtube. She is my number one celebrity crush and I want to be her best friend.

Things I plan to make brave attempts at cooking: Bread. For the first time. When I find a recipe I'm happy with / not scared of. Paneer. I dream of the curries I could make with paneer...

Movie trailers that made me weep like a small child with a skinned knee: Just this one.

My Cooking Show Crush

Look at them. They are your friends.

I enjoy your Masterchef and your Ready Steady Cook as much as the next lass (although the latter, I must admit, only when I’m at home sick and too weak to change the channel after Oprah) but my cooking show heart belongs truly to the Cook and the Chef.

Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant. So enthusiastic. So endearing. So constantly delighted by food. From the awkwardness and slight tension of the first season, to the easy banter and teasing of the later episodes, I love them all. The cheesy opening credits. The slightly laboured segues. The way Simon will leave out the chilli so Maggie can try something, the way Maggie can’t keep her fingers out of her food. The way neither of them are very comfortable on TV, but very happy to be there.

And of course, the food. I thought I’d share a couple of great vegetarian recipes from their site: Leek and Cheese Tart and Moussaka.

Leek and Cheese Tart

(original recipe here, although as I made one main instead of five entrees, I’ve made some modifications)

  • 1 pre baked tart shell (I used short crust pasty)
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 20g butter
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 30g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 100g cheese, cubed (I used swiss, but I reckon it’d be better with goat’s)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 140ml cream
  • 2 eggs

First, if you’re using frozen pastry, blind bake it, and then leave oven at 180.

Heat butter and oil in a frypan, add the leeks and sauté for a few minutes. Season, add thyme, bay leaves and sliced potatoes. If you sliced your potatoes quite thinly, take off the heat after a minute. If they’re thicker, let them cook longer.

Arrange vegetables in tart shell, without the bay leaves.

Combine cream and eggs and pour over your veggies. Drop cubes of cheese on top, and sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in oven until set, it took about 25 minutes for me. As tasty as this was for dinner, it was even nicer cold for lunch the next day. Thanks, Maggie and Simon!


(Recipe here)

I’ve never made moussaka before, but anything in which eggplant has a starring role is fine by me. Do go and check out the version on their website – it’s divine. I must admit, onion, lemon and thyme was a quiet revelation. Do make sure the fried eggplant rests on absorbent paper, though, this is quite an oil heavy dish and it can get a bit rich. To cut through the richness, I made a sweet and easy tomato sauce to have on the side. It really was a case of throwing anything that was closest into the pan, and it ended up quite a happy little accident.

Tomato and Portobello Sauce
  • 15 g butter
  • 3 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 400g tinned tomato (whole or diced, either will work)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ tsp chilli seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • Lemon

Heat the butter in a fry pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Throw in the chopped garlic, chili seeds and garam masala. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the tomato and cook down until thickened (about 10 minutes) and then stir through the red wine about 5 minutes before taking off the heat.

Give it a squeeze of lemon to finish, and serve with your moussaka and a light green salad. It ain't fancy, but it sure is tasty.

The Best Big Breakfast (My Favourite Café)

My Favourite

For about a year and a half now The Boy I have been living in what is referred to as Melbourne's Inner North. Right now we're living in a comfortable, pretty suburb famous for - amongst other things - being home to the greater part of Melbourne's underworld. (A recent discovery, somewhat alarming but don't worry Mum, we've got deadlocks on the doors!) I love our suburb, gangland shootings and all, and I think after two and a half years of life in Melbourne I can safely say I've decided now and forever: I'm a Northern Suburbs Girl.

Since moving "out north" I've spent many a weekend investigating the local food scene. Top recommendations include the amazing Il Caminetto pizza place in Moonee Ponds, the famously cheap Laksa King on Racecourse Road in Flemington, and the lovely White Rabbit Record Bar in Kensington. I also love Gerald's Bar on Rathdowne Street in Carlton for a quiet place to drink, and the very friendly Workshop Bar, whilst technically in the city, is conveniently located just off Melbourne's main northbound tram line. But (prepare for a plug folks) perhaps my favourite find, and a place where I have spent many a sunday morning investigating the menu, is an unassuming little café called Pepper.

Pepper's Comfy Surrounds

Pepper is far and away the best spot over my side of town to enjoy a big breakfast. Technically in the west (although a very north west) the café is tucked away on the pretty Pin Oak court in Flemington. The premises used to be a little corner shop, and the original signage above the door announces the place as The Girdwood Hygienic Library, totally charming, especially if your boyfriend is a typography nerd and you like to be lectured about the specifics of font over breakfast. The coffee is fair trade and always tasty, the bacon is crisp and the poached eggs are always just runny enough to ooze over my toast. The menu changes frequently enough that there is often something new to try, and when the place is open for dinner, the back room - complete with open fireplace sparking in the corner - is a very snug spot to enjoy a pizza too.

Bacon and Eggs & Sweetcorn Hotcakes at Pepper

I can't recommend Pepper enough, which is why I've dedicated this very little post to their amazing big breakfast. I think the place must open in the wee hours of the morning because they're feeding people even at the antisocial hour of 7am on a friday, but the staff are chirpy even when it's still dark outside, and who doesn't want to look out at this view whilst scoffing down breakfast at the outset of a day.

The Early Bird Gets the View

Folks, thanks for reading my little plug. For those of you who have asked, it is my favourite breakfast spot. A jewel in the North (western) Crown, if that crown were... made of..... food. Yeah. Go eat at Pepper, you'll frikkin love it.