With scissors in tow, I popped outside to the garden and eyed off the selection of home grown herbs, courtesy of Mr Mélanger.  The ever expanding rosemary bush caught my eye.  After cutting a handful of sprigs, I started to ponder their use as I returned inside.

Back in the kitchen, with the collection still in my hands, I was still undecided how to include this fragrant herb into a shortbread.

While I mulled over the idea, I pulled a selection of dried fruits and nuts from the pantry – to find some little friends for the rosemary – and quickly settled on apricots and almonds.

As I gathered the remainder ingredients to make the shortbread, I also reached for my spice grinder.  I took one look at the sugar on the counter, and then the rosemary and immediately set to whizzing the two together.

The result was a soft pale green sugar, the consistency of icing (confectioners’) sugar.  Perfect to incorporate the flavour of rosemary without the texture.

With the crunch from the almonds, as well as the additional sweetness from the apricots, this little rosemary flavoured cookie turned out to be delicious experiment.

{ Rosemary, apricot and almond shortbread  } Original recipe by Julia Tuomainen @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
1 ¾ cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Leaves from ¼ sprig of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped dried apricots and almond flakes
1 egg

* Directions *
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl, and add the dried fruit and nuts.  Set aside.  In a spice grinder, process the rosemary leaves with ¼ cup of the sugar until it resembles the consistency of icing sugar.  (It will be a pale green colour.)  In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter, rosemary sugar and remaining caster sugar until creamy.  Mix in the egg until combined.  Then mix in the flour mixture gently until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.  You can do this step by hand if you prefer.  Turn the dough out onto some cling film, and using the cling film, form into a log shape.  Depending on the thickness of your cookies, you will make approximately 3 logs around 20-30cm in length each.  Refrigerate the logs for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  However, after around 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge, remove the logs and fine-tune the shape if necessary.  Then return to chill.  To bake the logs, preheat the oven to 180C.  Line a baking sheet with non-stick paper.  Slice the log into 75mm-1cm cookies.  Place the cookies on the baking sheet, leaving space between each.  Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on the size.  Be careful not to over bake.  The cookies will remain pale and feel a little soft to the touch when you remove them.  Once you have removed them from the oven, cool on a wire rack.  The cookie dough can remain in the fridge for 3 days, or can be frozen for a month.  To bake the cookies from frozen dough, do not allow the dough to defrost, simply slice and bake for a minute or two longer.

:: Plain cookie variation ::
This recipe is equally good in its most simple form.  Replace the apricots and almonds with an additional ¼ cup of flour, and simply beat the 1 cup of butter with ½ cup of unprocessed caster sugar.  Mix and bake in the same way.  Alternatively, experiment with other fruit, nut and aromatic combinations of your own!

To always have a cookie jar filled to the brim with a selection of homemade treats (….or at the very least, some pre-prepared dough in the freezer ready to bake a tray of cookies at a moment’s notice….!), is a priority in the Mélanger kitchen.

A small baked indulgence can sometimes serve to nourish and soothe, or (between you and me!) simply be enjoyed as a petite, sweet treat anytime.

Last Christmas, my baking plan included a selection of shortbread.  Flavoured.  Filled.  Fancy.

My plans changed, as some of you may remember, and my baking efforts needed to be put on hold last festive season.  But my urge to whip up a few different batches of buttery goodness did not wane.

So perhaps in (early) preparation for Christmas this year, I am going to fulfil my old baking plan and load up the kitchen with a few pounds of butter, sugar and flour for Shortbread month.

(Oh, and as it is almost half way through the month, I better get a wriggle on!)


Juggling the demands of life is a daily challenge for most people.

As Mr Mélanger continues to survive full time work obligations with writing a thesis (brave man!), and I the art of juggling full time work and the inevitable “always feeling like you are falling short” role of mum to baby Mélanger, our spare time is spread incredible thin.

The volume of collective commitments and responsibilities in our lives seems to create a massive deficit in the family time bucket.  So snatching a precious minute here and there together is a priority.  But the reality is, a weekend breakfast may be the only genuine time we get to spend together all week.

This month’s theme has reinforced my goal to create a new food tradition for my family.  But more importantly, it has become the catalyst to earmark what little time we have, and steal a few moments enjoying breakfast together on the weekend as a family.  I cannot think of a more delicious way to spend that time.

Here is a roundup of this month’s recipes.  For versatility, ease and speed, our favourite pick is the Pannukakku, the Finnish baked pancake. 

 { Wholemeal English Muffins }  Topped with homemade marmalade or jam this dish is the epitome of simple.  With a boost of wholemeal flour for added nutrition, this little recipe is a keeper.  Prepare the dough the night before, for freshly baked English Muffins in the morning.  Left overs are great to freeze for breakfast on the run. { Read more here … }


  { Clementine curd crêpes with seasonal fruits } Citrus curd makes a perfect complement to a stack of crispy, wafer thin crêpes.  Prepare a stack in advance, or freeze leftovers for a quick crêpe snack any time.  Enjoy with any endless combination of fruit.  Whatever you have on hand.  Ditch the fruit if you prefer! { Read more here … }



{ Marinated mushrooms on bacon bread toast }  The hearty bacon bread marries well with the light, fragrant flavour of the marinated mushrooms.  This dish is a bit of a twist on a childhood of ‘mushrooms on toast’.  { Read more here … }



  { Baked Apple Pancake }  This baked pancake is popular for dessert or as an accompaniment for coffee, or, as here, makes a nice main dish for breakfast or a brunch served with juice, smoked sausage and coffee (always coffee, of course!). { Read more here … }

Acknowledging the Nordic influence in my life introduced by Mr Mélanger, I wrap up my ‘breakfast theme’ with Pannukakku, the popular Finnish baked pancake.

I am fascinated in Mr Melanger’s Finnish ancestry.  Not only because his makeup and personality is very much predisposed by that background, but no doubt will shape baby Mélanger, too.

So this month’s theme would not be complete without some Finnish inspiration.

During this month’s experiment, this little pancake has been made multiple times in the Mélanger kitchen.  Not only is it a versatile dish (feel free to use any fruit or omit if you prefer), but it is the simplest of all breakfasts to prepare.  As the batter needs to rest, you can whip it up the night before, and be ready to get baking in the morning practically as soon as your oven is hot.

I also like that the style of this pancake reminds me of the Yorkshire pudding, which featured very strongly in my childhood.  So inadvertently, a nod to my English background in this selection, too!

{ Baked Apple Pancake :: Omenapannukakku } Recipe adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas

Beatrice reveals that this baked pancake is popular for dessert or as an accompaniment for coffee, or, as here, makes a nice main dish for breakfast or a brunch served with juice, smoked sausage and coffee (always coffee, of course!).

* Ingredients *
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup plain flour
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup cinnamon sugar

* Directions *
Beat the eggs until thick then add the milk, salt and sugar.  Sift in the flour, mixing it in well.  Let the batter stand for 30 minutes (or overnight).  Meanwhile prepare the apples.  Butter two au gratin dishes and sprinkle with part of the cinnamon sugar.  Arrange the sliced apples in the dishes.  Sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon sugar and dot with butter.  Pour the pancake batter over the apples, dividing evenly between dishes.  Bake at 190C/375F for 30 minutes or until the top of each pancake is golden and set.  Serve hot with fresh fruit, maple syrup and cream.

Serves 2

Perhaps foolishly, with a 2 ½ week old baby in toe, I launched a “Pink month” theme on my blog last October to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.  On the surface, it was perhaps a little ambitious to be concerned about blogging with a “practically just born” baby in care, but the topic was close to my heart.

My maternal grandmother lost the breast cancer battle.  Countless friends and family friends have also battled.  Some have won.  Some have not.

It is a cold, harsh reality that most of us know someone close to our hearts who has been afflicted by breast cancer.

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed my posts are typically absent of sponsored content.  My blog is tremendously personal and a space to share content that is very individual to me, so I generally decline offers that come my way.  But breast cancer is personal to me.

That is why I am proud to support the Australian Mushroom Growers Association’s ‘Mushrooms Go Pink‘ campaign.  Not only is the Australian Mushroom Growers Association aiming to donate up to $50,000 to cancer research in support of Pink Ribbon Day, but new research has shown that women who ate 10g or more of mushrooms each day had a 66% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those who had no mushrooms.

Either way, it is win win for breast cancer, no?

Breakfast as a young child was occasionally mushrooms on toast.  I am not sure if it is a typically English thing, but it is a standout breakfast in my childhood memories.

I cannot imagine losing my mother to breast cancer, but my mother did.  So to pay tribute to both of these amazing women, here is a twist on one of my childhood favourites.

Disclose: Australian Mushroom Growers Association provided the mushrooms for this dish.

{ Bacon bread } Original recipe by Julia Tuomainen @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
230g warm milk (approximately 45C/110F)
80g water (approximately 45C/110F)
10g sugar
7g instant yeast
500g all purpose white flour
7g salt
25g olive oil
150g diced bacon

* Directions *
Heat a small fry pan over a medium heat, and cook the bacon until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the yeast, milk, water and sugar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.  Once the yeast is ready, mix on low speed slowly adding the flour mixture.  Continue to mix for a few minutes until completely combined and until the dough is cleanly coming away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the speed up to medium, and continue to mix the dough for a further 5 minutes.  Add the olive oil and continue to mix for another 5 minutes.  At the end, add in the cooked bacon until just combined.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size, about 1 ½ hours.  After it has doubled in size, transfer to the bench and punch down gently.  Knead the dough and then form into a loaf shape.  Place the dough in an oiled loaf tin (or as I did, a 750g rectangular banneton).  Cover and set aside again for a further 1 hour until doubled in size.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 220C/430F.  Once the dough is ready, place the loaf tin in the centre of the oven (or as I did, place the dough from the banneton directly onto a lightly greased baking sheet), and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when tapped.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

:: Yeastspotting ::
I am submitting this bacon bread to Yeastspotting.

{ Marinated mushrooms } recipe adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly

 * Ingredients *
250g button mushrooms
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon tarragon

* Directions *
Clean mushrooms, remove stalks and slice thinly. Combine lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, tarragon and parsley in bowl.  Mix well.  Add mushrooms and combine until coated.  Cover.  Marinate mixture 4 hours or overnight.

A stack of crispy, wafer thin crêpes, drenched in fresh lemon juice and finished with a healthy sprinkling of sugar, can make me feel a bit giddy and happy.

My weakness for this light, paper thin pancake, was singlehandedly created by my mother.  Crêpes would probably have to be her signature dish.

As a child, she would whip up a batch as the ultimate treat.  Systematically she would dole out freshly cooked crêpes to each of us one by one, only to cleverly stock up her share to eat in a single stack at the end.

Her tactic got us every time.  With a big smile on her face, we were defenceless and could only sit and watch, empty plated, as she belatedly enjoyed her share.

Even now, years on, she loves to tease and torment me with her crêpe adventures.  She will purposefully send me text messages when she has either whipped up some crêpe batter, is just about to cook a batch of crêpes, or has just enjoyed a batch of crêpes.  I can picture the grin on her face, and perhaps even a giggle, as she hits ‘send’.

My mother can be terribly cheeky.

So right back at you with this dish!

{ Clementine curd crêpes with seasonal fruits }

I love the combination of strawberries and oranges in this dish, and the tribute to the end of one season and the beginning of another.

* Ingredients *
One recipe basic crêpes
One recipe curd
Seasonal fruits
Greek yoghurt

* Directions *
After preparing a stack of crêpes, set aside.  Prepare the curd. Fill each crêpe with 2-3 tablespoons of curd.  Fold into quarters.  Finish with yoghurt and fruit.

3-4 serves

{ Basic crêpe recipe } recipe by Mélanger’s mother

* Ingredients *
1 cup (150g/5oz) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
300ml milk

* Directions *
Mix flour and salt together. Make a hollow in the centre and mix in the egg. Gradually add the milk. Once fully mixed, refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Re-mix the batter as there may have been some settling. Fill a 1/4 cup half way, or measure out 2 tablespoons of mixture, and set aside. For each crêpe, melt about a teaspoon of butter/oil in a pan on medium heat. When it commences to smoke, lift the pan from the heat and tip on a 45 degree angle. Pour the prepared measure of mixture off centre into the pan and quickly swirl the mixture by continuing to tilt the pan but moving in a circular motion to distribute the batter evenly across the pan. Return the pan to the heat and cook.  After a few minutes, you will start to see some bubble blister appear on the surface. The underside of the crêpe at this stage is starting to brown. When appropriately golden, flip and cook other side.

Makes approximately 10-12 crêpes.

{ Clementine Curd }

This method seems to break all the rules of making curd, but it is simple, and it works.  In 10 minutes flat you are practically done.  Feel free to use any citrus you prefer.

* Ingredients *
Zest of 1 clementine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup of clementine juice
100g butter
3 egg yolks

* Directions *
In the food processor, mix the sugar and clementine zest until the sugar is well scented.  Place the juice and butter into a small saucepan and heat until butter melted.  Add the scented sugar and egg yolks and whisk over a low heat for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath, continue to whisk for a few minutes until it has cooled.  Transfer to sterilised glass jars and refrigerate until ready to use.


15 years ago today, my father passed away.

I can honestly say, not a day goes by where I do not think of my him.  To me, he was a great man.  He was reserved and quiet – and oh, so British!  And although he was very well educated, read and travelled, there were many things in life he preferred to keep simple.

Food was one of those things.

He had neither a voracious nor a meek appetite.  Food was enjoyed in moderation.  Flavours were kept honest, simple and uncomplicated.

Every day he reminds me life is precious and that time is not to be wasted.  Quite a fitting reminder, as I recognise the importance of family time during ‘Breakfast’ month.

So for my (belated!) kick off to the month, my first offering celebrates my father’s food philosophy, and I start with the humble English Muffin.  With homemade marmalade and jam on the side, and a nod to England at the centre, I think he would approve.

{ Wholemeal English Muffins }

* Ingredients *
450g bread flour
150g wholemeal flour
5g salt
375g whole milk, lukewarm
7g dried yeast
5g sugar
15g olive oil
Semolina, for dusting

* Directions *
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, place the milk, yeast and sugar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the yeast begins to foam.  Stir in the remaining milk and olive oil, flours and salt.  Mix together for 5-7 minutes until the dough comes away from the side, and becomes smooth and elastic.  Transfer the dough to a clean oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.  Turn out the dough and knock back.  Roll out the dough so it is approximately 2-3cm thick.  Using a 7-8cm cutter, cut out 12 rounds.  Grease a baking sheet and dust with semolina.  Place the dough rounds onto the baking sheet, cover and let rise for about 30-45 minutes.  Warm a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat.  Carefully transfer the muffins in batches to the pan.  Cook slowly for about 6-8 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Once cool, carefully cut the muffin around the outer edge only, and pull apart.

Makes 12 muffins

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these Wholemeal English Muffins to Yeastspotting.

Life sure gets busy. And when it does, you want to make the most of every spare moment.

Now I am back at work, full time, the spare hours and minutes on the weekend are precious.  Sure, the weekend is packed to the gills with chores and errands, but you need to grab a little time as a family when you can.

Family time is so important.

I was inspired by a friend’s tweet a couple of month’s back.  She was talking about a weekly breakfast ritual she shares with her husband.  Instantly, I wanted in on the idea.  How great would it be to create your own food tradition?

I responded similarly to the tweet, but only for my friend to then encouragingly reply, “So, why not start this weekend?”

I smiled and thought, “Touché!”

Now, I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl.  If I am going to make a decision about a breakfast dish, one that will grace the Mélanger kitchen table week after week in a new family tradition, I need to make sure the right dish is selected.  That requires some experimentation!

So this month’s theme is inspired by my friend, that thought provoking tweet, and the comforting thought of creating a new food tradition for my family.

I hope you enjoy the dishes that are up for consideration.

I cannot believe baby Mélanger is now officially O-N-E.

It has been a big year, and so much to look forward to in years to come — the many cakes, cookies, sweets and pastries in my birthday party organising future!

Although this birthday was a simple celebration for three, I wanted to experiment with a few pink themed ideas that are sure to show up in future birthday celebrations.

So, I hope you enjoyed the little selection showcased for this current theme, ‘Kids Party’ month.

Next month, I hope you agree the choices will really kick start your day!  But until then, here is a round up of this month’s goodies.

  { ‘Coconut ice’ doughnuts } Coconut ice is popular at birthday parties, so I decided to put a spin on an old favourite to create a coconut ice flavoured doughnut.  Essentially, a condensed milk based sweet bread dough, topped with sweet icing and coconut.  Pretty delicious in my book!   { Read more here … }

  { Turkish Delight, Marshmallow and Pâte de Fruit } I could almost guarantee that every kids party I attended as a child included a mix of lollies.  So summoning up a little nostalgia for my next installment, I include a selection of homemade lollies.  These are some of my ultimate sugar ladened sweets.  { Read more here … }

  { ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ cookies } This recipe uses a basic sugar cookie dough.  Once the dough is chilled it can be cut into any desired shape.  The topping is a simple (coloured) royal icing, but made with pasturised egg white powder as opposed to the traditional fresh egg whites.  A healthy dose of playful hundreds and thousands (nonpariels) finish them off.  { Read more here … }

  { Mini marble bundt cake } This four cup cake is very small, and would be perfect for a small afternoon tea, or other intimate celebration.  The sour cream adds a lovely tang to the cake (particularly when combined with the chocolate), and overall it is a very light and fluffy cake.  Very easy to eat!  { Read more here … }

  { Fig and raspberry hazelnut cake } A play on a Dorie Greenspan favourite.  This little fig cake is injected with ground hazelnuts, and the figs were matched with a handful of raspberries. The overall result was a very easy to make, moist and flavoursome cake that is perfect not only for autumn, but any day of the year really.  { Read more here … }

{ Strawberry Ice Cream with Lemon Coconut Macaroons } This is a refreshing ice cream with the addition of the sweet fruit of the strawberry.  I wanted to pair this with a little zesty biscuit and it was quite some time until I thought of the simple coconut macaroon.  A little grating of lemon rind cuts some of the sweetness and is a nice little tasty treat with the ice cream. { Read more here … }

{ Almond Berry Slice } This little nutty fruity sweet was the very first thing I baked after bringing Nina home from the hospital.  Chosen for its speed of assembly (only minutes to prepare!), and simplicity of ingredients.  There is nothing fancy or chic about this humble slice but it sure is wholesome and soul feeding – particularly knowing it is very likely to grace the lunchbox my baby daughter in years to come.  { Read more here … }

{ Cherry Macarons } Some kirsch soaked cherries and a heaping of ultra rich chocolate praline mousse fill these macarons shells.  The result?  The nuttiness of the rich chocolate praline mouse paired wonderfully with the almond based macaron shell.  The overall flavour rounded out by the juicy cherries.  An accidental combination, but a delicious outcome.  { Read more here … }

{ Linzer cookies } Savour the flavours of Christmas in one bite?  A light, buttery hazelnut pastry weaved with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon, then sandwiched together with raspberry jam?  This spicy cookie includes all the essential ingredients for Christmas.  And with a healthy sprinkling of confectioners sugar to finish, certainly look the part! { Read more here … }

{ Treacle Jumbles } These happy coloured biscuits are really easy to make.  They are egg free and only use the smallest amounts of butter.  The subtle spicy dough is a delight!  And I think they are adorable with the bright coloured icing.  Perfect for little sweet yums at a kid’s party?  Right next to the fairy bread!  { Read more here … }

{ Strawberry sorbet with vanilla tuiles } Little tuiles are the perfect accompaniment to sherbet, ice cream and fruit desserts.  In this case, Philippe Rochat recipe for my Strawberry Sorbet.  Philippe Rochat is famous for his sorbet, and the emphasis on this recipe is high quality, sweet strawberries.  The strawberries provide the beautifully sweet taste, not mountains of sugar.  { Read more here … }

{ Rose macarons with raspberry cream } These blushing delights are the ideal sweet solution for any baby shower, wedding, special occasion, or simply as an afternoon treat!  The bold pink colour is paid off with a mouthwatering raspberry white chocolate ganache centre.  { Read more here … }

{ Raspberry lemon frangipane slice } The sweet bread dough base is much lighter than its tart dough or biscuit base counterparts, making it a more delicate sweet indulgence.  The flavours of raspberry and lemon are a classic.  The subtle almond flavoured frangipane helps retains a level of richness and moistness.  The arrangement altogether, is one very easy to eat treat.   { Read more here … }

{ Raspberry cream cookies } Sometimes I get the urge to bake something simple.  Mostly because I really want to bake but do not have the time for something overly elaborate.  I think these homemade cookies fall into that category.  They are lovely and simple, but not too complicated.  { Read more here … }

Picturing it in my head, the cake had multiple layers.  Standing tall on an elegant cake stand, it would attract interest, surprise and curiosity from the little baby girl who had just turned one.  I imagined it would be frosted with a glossy Italian meringue or a gloriously silky chocolate glaze.  And, most certainly, sandwiched together with oodles of rich Swiss buttercream.

But it was none of those things.

When it came down to actually plan out the cake for baby Melanger’s 1st birthday, I realised this cake was not simply to celebrate a birthday.  But more importantly, to mark the our first year together as a newly expanded family.

The year has been bittersweet.  Full to the brim of many happy and joyous moments, but for me, personally, a time where I faced the darkest point of my life.

So it was not a time for elaborate flourishes, baking fanfare, or sweet decadence.  It was a time to reflect with something understated, simple, and comforting.

This cake is symbolic of our first year as a family.  Dark and light.  Sweet and bitter.  Intimate and personal.  With a celebration limited to the three of us.

This cake is a slight departure to the pink, girly, fun sweet goodies showcased so far in this month’s theme.  Originally I was not going to include this cake in the line up, but as my blog is such a personal journal of my baking, how could it not?  And besides, I selfishly wanted to share an image of baby Melanger enjoying her hit of sugar!

{ Mini marble bundt cake }

This four cup cake is very small, and would be perfect for a small afternoon tea, or other intimate celebration.  The sour cream adds a lovely tang to the cake (particularly when combined with the chocolate), and overall it is a very light and fluffy cake.  Very easy to eat!

* Ingredients *
85g unsalted butter
130g caster sugar
2 eggs
130g sour cream
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
50g melted dark chocolate (I used 70%)

* Directions *
Preheat the oven to 160C, and butter a 4 cup bundt tin and set aside.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl either in the microwave (about 30 seconds) or over a double boiler.  Once melted, set aside to slightly cool.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Then add in the flour mixture little by litte.  Remove around 2/3 cup of the mixture and add the melted chocolate to the mixture left in the stand mixer bowl.  Mix to just blend.  Spoon mixtures alternatively into bundt tin.  Bake for around 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before turning out.

Serves 4-6


« Previous PageNext Page »