Apricot & Orange Blossom Pudding

This delicate dessert has all the looks of showstopper without the forty steps of a complicated recipe. I love custards and especially a french egg and vanilla bean creme pastry but this milk pudding is egg free and thicken with cornflour. Ive gone a little off the norm by using stevia to add sweetness and poached fruit.


Lets start with I don’t know the exact origins of this pudding and at the risk of looking it up on Wikipedia it appears as a dessert loved by many different cultures. Lets face is desserts should have no boundaries. Flavoured with lemon in Italy, rose water in the Middle Eastern also called “Muhalbiyah”.

The Greek pudding called “Alevria” which can also be lactose free is often made with a reduction of grape juice to make a syrup or the milk version flavoured with mastic or orange blossom water. It is the Greek versions that I am most familiar with and most probably the first ever custard I ate as a child.

A variety of toppings common in to both the Middle east and the Mediterranean almost always include crushed walnuts or pistachios and spices like cinnamon.

Ive add poached fruit and its juices for freshness, like apricot halves but peaches are also perfect and if you preferred passionfruit or a raspberry coulis then go for it.

This pudding is flavoured with orange blossom water and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios and for added decadence Ive added a few dry edible rose petals.


“Apricot & Orange Blossom Pudding”

4-5 serves


500ml Milk

40g Stevia

35g Cornflour

1 tablespoon Orange Blossom water

5-6 Poached Apricot halves reserve the juices

50g Pistachios – Crushed


  1. In a medium saucepan add the stevia and the cornflour mix well.
  2. Add Milk and whisk together till no lumps of cornflour are visible.
  3. Continuously stir to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Mix while on medium heat till it thickens and large bubbles rise to the top and keep mixing for a further 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the orange blossom water stir to combine.
  4. Pour the pudding into individual heat proof ramekins
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature then cool in the refrigerator
  6. Top with an apricot half, pour a little syrup over the top and sprinkle with crushed pistachios.

*For extra decadence Ive used edible dry tea rose for a little WOW! Factor 🙂 …………………..(I purchased the roses from T2 the tea shop)

*This recipe can be doubled if required

*Fresh edible flowers can be used (please be mindful to purchase these for consumption purposes as you do not want to be serving up flowers sprayed with pesticides)



Lentilicious Greek Lentil Soup


This Greek soup is a staple, this thick moorish soup will have you printing out this recipe and permanently fixing to your pantry door for quick reference……….or is that just me!


Although Im not a vegetarian I do love my vegetables and pulses, this is one of those dishes that always made young Greek children giggle as its name “Fakes” AKA Lentils sounds a little rude but when I was growing up it was always a dish we looked forward to. Oh, ps yes we still get a giggle out of the name…… priceless 🙂



Served with fresh crunchy bread either slathered with butter or  just used as a mop to scoop up more flavour. (Ive also served it up with the addition of crumbled feta or grilled spicy chorizo, see  * note bellow 🙂

Greek Lentil Soup

Serves 4 

1 x 400g cans of brown lentils rinsed
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 brown onions, chopped fine
1 small leeks chopped diced fine
1/2 teaspoon cloves garlic, crushed
1 Lg carrot, grated
400g finely chopped tomatoes (fresh or good quality canned)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

400ml Hot Water or good quality Beef or Chicken Stock

3 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (I know thats not Greek but it works well….trust me)

Salt Flakes
Cracked Pepper

Crusty bread for serving


Rinse the lentils in cold water, drain and set aside.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil add the onion, leek and bay leaf and saute for approximately 3 – 5 minutes on moderate heat stirring constantly so as not to burn.

Add the garlic, grated carrot, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Mix all to combine.

Add the lentils, tomatoes and hot water, mix and simmer with the lid on the pot for approximately 35 minutes. If your soup has reduced to quickly add another cup of liquid.

When you are ready to serve add the Worcestershire Sauce, season with salt and pepper and stir through the remaining olive oil.

Finally taste and check the seasoning. (For a little extra heat add half a little dry chilli flakes Ill leave that up to you 🙂

*If you forgot the fresh crusty bread don’t forget Soda bread is another great option especially a Walnut Soda bread. Another option is a good crumbling of feta and a sprinkling of freshly chopped oregano.

*To satisfy the meat eaters of the family a chorizo sausage sliced and grilled added to the dish is another flavour sensation. Reduce the amount of salt and instead boost the flavour by adding a couple of Beef stock cubes or chicken instead of just salt.

Walnut Soda Bread


Kali Orexi



Coconut Blossom Caramel Sauce

CSR SUGAR Australia has released a beautiful range of traditionally farmed sugars. Each one with its deep rich and delicate notes of caramel, butterscotch, toffee and treacle. The unique molasses content in each gives the unrefined sugar its golden colour and decadent flavour.

So I thought I’d put it to the test!

I adore this recipe it can be use in cakes and buttercreams or warmed and drizzled over ice cream, puddings or eaten straight up with your favourite spoon or simply smear over toast.


Be creative Ive made this recipe with all of the different sugars and each time its been a delicious result. So make a caramel sauce to suit your personality and your taste buds.

France – French Caster Sugar

Colombia – Panela Sugar

Sri Lanka – Rapadura Sugar

Indonesia – Coconut Blossom Sugar

Australia – Muscovado Sugar



Makes about 1  1/2 cups


1 x 2 Liter Heavy base saucepan

1 Candy Thermometer

1 Whisk

1 Heatproof jar with lid to store your caramel


125g Cream

60g  French Caster Sugar

60g Coconut Blossom Sugar

60g Unsalted Butter

45g Glucose

1/4 tsp Salt


1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

125g Cream


Bring the 125g Cream, sugar, butter, glucose and salt into the heavy base saucepan uncovered over medium to high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved  whisk the mixture just a few times to combine and continue to boil till the mixture reaches 120 Degrees Celsius take off heat.

Add the vanilla and cream in a thin stream while whisking constantly till well combined. Place back on the heat and boil again. Remove from heat straight away. Allow to cool for a moment.

Pour the caramel into a heat proof container.

Leave to cool then cover it tightly and store in refrigerator.

Re-heat to use.

Don’t forget this caramel sauce makes a great gift too!

Enjoy 🙂

Zucchini, Feta and Spinach Muffins


There are a few recipes that can remind me of a time and a place and these Zucchini Muffins do exactly that!

Many of my childhood memories are also tied to the smell of fresh herbs, stories from grand parents and memories of traveling, music and family both near and far. When I look at the cuisine that I have grown up with I cant help but think how fortunate I have been.

Versions of this recipe mostly appear in Middle Eastern recipe books as fritters and although my grandmother made them that way as well, I think she would have been happy with my muffin version too. Its less time consuming without losing any of the taste.


Zucchini, Feta, and Spinach Muffins:

2 medium zucchini, grated

200g Frozen Spinach, thawed

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)

2 Tablespoon fresh Mint (chopped)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Spring onions sliced fine

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

½ cup Self Raising Flour

Salt and black pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons Olive oil (plus a little extra for the cupcake Pan)


Preheat the oven 180 Degrees

Place the grated zucchini and spinach in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, wring all of the liquid and discard. Place the grated zucchini and spinach in a large bowl.

Combine the zucchini, spinach, feta, herbs, eggs, spring onions, garlic and oil. Stir to mix well.

Sprinkle in the flour and fold through until it all is incorporated and holding together.

Using a nonstick cupcake pan, add ½ teaspoon of olive oil to the base of each cupcake section and divide the batter between the 12 spots on the cupcake pan.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Note: For a Gluten Free option use Gluten Free SR Flour 🙂


Thats a fine “Salad” you got me into!

Grilled Fish with Hummus and Bulgur Wheat Salad


Melbourne’s unpredictable weather or should I say seasons is a challenge at the best of times and thinking of what to cook can ultimately feel like a chore. This relatively simple salad has been my saving grace on numerous occasions from BBQ to simple lunches and informal dinners. Originally I made this salad as instructed by a friend with couscous and the best way to describe – Quick, Delicious and Versatile.

Now I can tell you have just looked at the list of ingredients and thought she has left out the couscous but my version of this salad has fine cracked bulgur wheat but if you would prefer couscous then that lovely too. What I love most about this salad, you can serve it with fish as you see in the pictures attached or chicken or red meat you can roll it up in a pitta/mountain bread add a few things like your favourite grated cheese and it makes a perfect vegetarian meal. I think the point Im making here is don’t hold back mix it up make it your own.

I have grilled some fish, made some home made hummus smeared it onto the grilled fish and topped it all with the salad, its a great combination a lovely mixture of flavours and textures.



1 Brown Onion (finely diced)

1 Red Capsicum (Medium Dice)

1 Yellow Capsicum (Medium Dice)

1 cup Fine Bugler Wheat

1 cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock (Optional)

2 Tablespoons Toasted Pine Nuts

2 Tablespoons Parsley (finely sliced)

Salt and White Pepper



1: Place the stock in a pot and bring it to the boil. Place the fine bulgur wheat in a heat proof bowl and pour the hot stock over it. Cover the bowl with a lid and set aside. Check after 10 minutes and using a fork lift the grains to air out or fluff up! Taste the bulgur wheat it should be light not crunchy.  If it is crunchy still add 1/4 cup more boiling water and leave covered for a few more minutes to absorb the water.

2: Dry toast the pine nuts – just toss them into a dry frypan on medium heat and move them around till they have a little colour put them in a bowl and set aside.

3: Add a little butter to a frypan with the diced onion (medium to low heat). Add  the capsicum and saute them for a further 5 minutes till they have softened slightly.

4:  Add the pine nuts, sauteed onion and capsicum, parsley to the bulgur wheat mix well taste and season with salt and white pepper to taste.

I hope you all enjoy this salad as much as we do. Let me know if you have a magic salad combination of your own.

Cheers Maria 🙂



Spanish Style

Celebrity Theatre at the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show – Melbourne

What does Paella, Tapas & Churro’s have in common – Miguel Maestre

To say that the energy that is Miguel Maestre is driven by food and family is likened to the blood that courses through his veins. His love for cooking with Spanish instinctive flare is observed through his energised personality and humour. After watching and listening to the demonstration unfolding before you it not uncommon to walk away feeling like tonights dinner will be a Paella with Bomba rice because Miguel said this is the best one to use!


Ok as well as the beautiful food that he cooks he makes everyone feel special!


Serves 4-6

Cooking time approximately 30 minutes

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

400g Bomba Rice

2 L Chicken Stock

salt & pepper

200g Frozen Peas

1 lemon

1 lime

500g Marinara mix with prawns and calamari rings, mussels (optional)

Now what was the recipe for the sofrito – from memory and the quick scribble of ingredients I managed to write behind a pamphlet:

150 ml Olive Oil

3 fresh Tomatos Cut into quarters

3 Shallots

4 Garlic cloves

4 Piquillo Peppers

1/2 Bunch fresh Thyme

1/2 Bunch Fresh Mint

1/2 Bunch Fresh Parsley

1/1 Bunch Fresh Coriander

1 teaspoon Saffron

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprica

1 teaspoon Smoke paprica

1: To make the sofrito place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

2: Heat the oil in a large paella pan or (I have used a large frying pan with high sides). Add the rice and stir for about 5 minutes until the rice changes from white to a transparent colour.

3: Stir into the rice 12 tablespoons of the sofrito to the rice and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. If you are using fish arrange around the top now,  you will need around 500g of marinara mix with prawns and calamari rings.

4: Add the stock, season and cook for a further 25-30 minutes without any stirring on medium heat. Once the stock has been absorbed lower the heat and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.

5: Remove from heat and cover with pan lid or foil and set aside for a further 5 minutes before serving.

6: Squeeze over lemon and lime juice and garnish with chopped parsley.

This recipe has been adapted from the book by Miguel Maestre “Miguel’s Tapas” Publishers New Holland

It’s all Greek to me!

This is a traditional Greek bake that my mother made and of course a family favourite.

“Papoutsakia” – (translation) Little Shoes


If you have eaten the most well-known Greek dish called “Moussaka” a very rich and finger licking delicious fried eggplant bake then you will adore the flavours of “Papoutsakia”. This recipe is a little more delicate and lighter yet robust with the usual combination of a eggplant, tomato based bolognese sauce, bechamel and cheese.

Unlike the original Middle Eastern version which consists of fried eggplant slices topped with a spicy rich tomato sauce the whole eggplant is first simmered till soft in a large pot of water for about 15 minutes. The eggplants that I have used are called Striped Eggplant the size is just right per serve and they are longer in length rather than round and wide like the purple eggplants we see often in supermarkets and green grocers. As they are simmering away you will notice the beautiful purple and white stripes begin to change and the whole eggplant takes on a glorious bronze gold colour.

Drain the water and place the eggplant on a flat surface to cool down. Slice the eggplants in half and gently scoop out enough of the pulp to leave enough room for the mince sauce. (Careful not the break through to the outer skin). Dice the eggplant pulp and add it to the tomato sauce and mix well together. Divide the sauce between the hulled eggplants shells. Cover with the bechemel sauce and grate some parmesan cheese over the top.

Now we are ready to bake!

As all the ingredients are basically all ready cooked and with the assembly now complete its all a matter of allowing the oven to do its job at a moderate heat for approximately 25 minutes. Watch them turn from pale ensembles into golden delights!


The meatless version of “Papoutsakia” is just as wonderful and can be eaten hot or cold. Both recipes are ideal for parties or as an entree, and can be prepared a day in advance before serving (in fact the flavours develop better a day later) just reheat just before serving.



Keeping up with the Kibbeh’s!

It’s no secret that I do love watching ALL those cooking shows!  I think Im a little if not alot addicted. Wait…………………………………that was a commercial for a NEW show, Melbourne Chef – Shane Delia, from Maha Restaurant      “Spice Journey” on SBS!  Sounds Great!


To tell you the truth, I enjoy cooking Middle Eastern food and learning how to make many of these delicious specialty dishes has always tempted me. Kibbek are mouth-watering deep-fried meatballs stuffed with spiced lamb/beef, pine nuts, aromatic spices and fresh herb. Simply put they are delicious, and very easy to make.


Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 Medium brown Onion, chopped

150g minced Lamb

150g minced Beef

1 cup Burghul (soaked in 1 cup of water till all water is absorbed)

season with salt and pepper


1 tbs olive oil

1/2 brown Onion, finely diced

2 Tbs Pine Nuts

1 Tbs Middle Eastern spice mix

2 Tbs Currants

100g Beef mince

1 Tbs Fresh Mint chopped


  1.  To make the filling, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and pine nuts and currants cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add the spice mix and mince and cook, break up any lumps, for about 5 minutes or until mince is cooked. Transfer to a  bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Kibbeh dough, place the brown onion in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the beef and lamb mince season with salt and pepper. Process until the burghul comes together with the meat to form a smooth dough paste and comes together to form a ball. Divide into 15 equal portions.
  3. Using the palm of your hands press out 1 portion of mince dough (wet your hands a little to stop the dough from sticking). Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the centre of the disc. Bring the edges together to enclose the filling, and repeat with the remaining mince dough mixture and filling to make 15 kibbeh balls.
  4. Add enough oil to a medium saucepan to reach a depth of 5cm. Heat to 180°C over medium-high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Add half the kibbeh and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remaining kibbeh, reheating the oil between batches.
  5. Serve with a red onion, parsley and sumac salad. Top with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle with pine nuts to serve.


Freezing tip: Prepare this recipe to the end of step 3 up to 3 months ahead. Layer the kibbeh between sheets of non-stick baking paper in an airtight container. Label, date and freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Continue from step 4, 15 minutes before serving.

Original recipe was adapted from:
Good Taste – November 2007
Recipe by Alison Roberts