And, of course, we’re celebrating with cake – thanks to the ancient Greeks who created moon-shaped birthday cakes as an offering to Artemis, and lit them with candles so they shone like the moon. We know these will shine at your table…
Whether it’s a luscious layer cake with Chantilly cream and strawberries or a bold chocolate date torte with crunchy toffee walnuts, these recipes are sure to please. No need to wait for a special occasion to bake!
STRAWBERRIES & CREAM LAYER CAKE
Prep & Cook 1 hour 15 mins | Serves 12
300 g butter, softened
3 cups (450 g) self-raising flour
1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
¾ cup (180 ml) milk
3 egg whites
500 g strawberries
450 ml thickened cream
2 tbsps icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1½ cups (240 g) icing sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and flour two deep 20-cm round cake pans. Line bases with baking paper. Sprinkle side of pans evenly with a little gluten-free flour; tap to remove excess.
2. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it changes to a paler colour. Sift flour and ½ cup of the sugar together. Beat flour mixture and milk into butter, in two batches, until combined.
3. Beat eggs and egg whites in a clean small bowl with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating until sugar dissolves between additions. Gradually pour egg mixture into flour mixture with motor operating on a low speed, only until combined.
4. Divide mixture between pans; bake for about 50 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand cakes for 10 mins; turn; top-side up, onto wire racks to cool.
5. CHANTILLY CREAM
Meanwhile, beat cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
6. Split cold cakes in half. Reserve 12 of the smallest strawberries for decoration, and another two ripe strawberries for Pink Icing. Thinly slice remaining strawberries.
7. Spread one cake layer with one-thrid of Chantilly Cream. Top with one-third of sliced strawberries. Repeat layering, ending with cake.
8. PINK ICING Push the reserved ripe strawberries through a small sieve into a small bowl. You will need 1 tbsp of strained strawberry puree. Sift icing sugar into a medium bowl; stir in strawberry puree and the boiling water to make a slightly runny paste. Pour and spread the icing over top of cake.
9. Top with reserved whole strawberries.
DATE, WALNUT & CHOCOLATE TORTE
Prep & Cook 1 hour 10 mins + Cooling | Serves 10-12
9 egg whites
1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
1½ cups (300 g) chopped pitted fresh dates
¾ cup (90 g) walnuts, toasted, chopped
¼ cup (35 g) plain flour, sifted
200 g dark chocolate, melted
½ cup (50 g) walnut halves
1 cup (220 g) caster sugar
½ cup (80 ml) water
1. Preheat oven to 160 C. Grease and line base and side of a 26-cm springform pan with baking paper.
2. Beat the egg whites and sugar in a large clean, dry bowl with an electric mixer for about 6 mins or until thick and glossy.
3. meanwhile, combine dates, walnuts and flour in a medium bowl. Lightly fold in egg white mixture with chocolate. Spread into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 mins or until firm.
4. Cool torte in oven with door ajar.
5. TOFFEE WALNUTS
Line a large oven tray with a sheet of baking paper. Place walnuts on tray. Roast in oven on separate shelf with torte for about 10 mins or until lightly browned and fragrant. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Brush down inside of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve all sugar crystals. Bring to boil; boil, uncovered, without stirring, until the toffee turns golden brown. Remove from heat. Add walnuts and turn to coat in toffee. Lift walnuts from toffee with a fork; place separately on same prepared tray until cooled and firm, about 30 mins.
6. CHOCOLATE GLAZE
Stir ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stand at room temperature, stirring every 20 mins or until thickened slightly. Glaze needs to be thick enough to pour and hold its shape a little.
7. Place torte on serving plate. Pour glaze over cake to cover the top and drizzle over the side a little. Top with Toffee Walnuts and serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Got visitors? Keep it simple with these easy, crowd-pleasing meals.
MASSAMAN PRAWN & VEGETABLE CURRY
Prep 30 mins | Cook 25 mins | Serves 4
400 ml can coconut cream
½ cup massaman curry paste (see tip)
400 ml coconut milk
500 g potatoes, peeled, 3 cm pieces
500 g pumpkin, 3 cm pieces
1 small eggplant, 2 cm pieces
2 cardamom pods, crushed
12 medium prawns, deveined, tails intact 150 g green beans, trimmed 4 cm lengths 60 g baby spinach leaves
2 tbsps brown sugar
2 tbsps tamarind
2 tbsps fish sauce
¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
Coriander leaves, steamed rice, lime wedges, to serve
1. In a wok or large frying pan, simmer coconut cream on high, 4 to 5 mins, until it begins to separate. Stir in half paste and simmer for 5 mins.
2. Mix in coconut milk, potatoes, pumpkin, eggplant and cardamom pods. Simmer 8 to 10 mins until vegetables are tender.
3. Stir prawns and beans through. Cook, stirring, 1 to 2 mins until prawns are cooked through. Mix in spinach, sugar, tamarind and fish sauce.
4. Serve curry sprinkled with nuts and coriander leaves, and accompanied with steamed rice and lime wedges.
EYE FILLET WITH BLUE CHEESE CREAM
Prep 15 mins plus chilling | Cook 10 mins | Serves 4
600 g piece eye fillet
1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp extra
6 thin rindless bacon rashers
1 bunch thyme sprigs
50 g butter
100 g baby kale leaves
BLUE CHEESE CREAM
⅓ cup creme fraiche
100 g blue castello
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsps horseradish sauce
750 g kumara, peeled, chopped
50 g butter
1. Brush beef with oil and season well. Wrap beef in bacon. Roll in plastic wrap and allow it to firm in fridge for 30 mins.
2. Slice beef into four equal pieces, 150 g each. Secure shape by tying with kitchen string. Push thyme sprigs under string. Place on plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 15 mins before cooking.
3. BLUE CHEESE CREAM
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine all ingredients. Season. Chill until ready to serve.
4. KUMARA MASH
In a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook kumara 10 to 15 mins until tender. Drain, then return to saucepan. Mash well with butter and season to taste. Keep hot in the saucepan.
5. Heat a frying pan on high. Brush with extra oil. Cook steak for 5 mins each side on medium or until cooked to taste. Rest, covered, 3 mins.
6. At the same time, in a frying pan, melt butter on medium. Add kale and cook, stirring, until just wilted.
7. Serve steaks on a bed of kumara mash with wilted kale and a dollop of blue cheese cream.
LAMB SHANK PIES
Prep 25 mins | Cook 1 hour 55 mins | Serves 4
2 tbsps olive oil
6 lamb shanks
½ cup seasoned flour
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 sprigs oregano
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
400 g can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
2 sheets butter puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, whisked
Buttered peas, to serve
1. In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat oil on high. Dust shanks in flour, shaking off excess.
2. Brown lamb 4 to 5 mins, turning. Set aside. In same pan, saute onion and garlic 2 to 3 mins until tender. Stir in carrot, celery and oregano. Cook, stirring, 1 min.
3. Add wine to pan to deglaze. Simmer 1 min until reduced by half. Stir in stock and sauce.
4. Return shanks to pan, turning to coat in sauce. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, 1½ hours, until meat is tender and falling off the bone.
5. Preheat oven to hot, 200 C. Remove shanks, cool slightly. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding bones. Return to pan with beans.
6. Divide mixture between four 1½ cup ramekins. Cut out circles from pastry, large enough to cover ramekins. Cover filling, cut a small steam vent in each. Brush with egg.
7. Place on an oven tray. Bake 20 to 25 mins, until golden and puffed. Serve with buttered peas.
PROSCIUTTO PORK WITH HALOUMI & TOMATO SALAD
Prep 10 mins plus resting | Cook 20 mins | Serves 4
12 sage leaves
750 g pork loin, halved width ways
12 thin slices prosciutto
¼ cup olive oil
400 g punnet heirloom tomatoes, halved
250 g packet haloumi, cut into 1-cm slices
100 g bag baby rocket leaves
½ cup baby basil leaves
2 tbsps balsamic glaze
1. Place 6 sage leaves along each piece of pork. Wrap 6 slices of prosciutto around each piece.
2. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil on high. Cook pork 10 to 15 mins, turning, until cooked to taste. Transfer to plate to rest, loosely covered with foil.
3. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes and remaining oil. Preheat a chargrill pan on medium. Cook haloumi 2 to 3 mins, turning, until grill marks appear. Add rocket and basil to the tomatoes and toss well.
4. Slice pork into 2-cm pieces; arrange on serving plates with tomato salad. Drizzle with balsamic glaze to serve.
PAPPARDELLE WITH SALMON & MUSHROOMS
Prep 20 mins plus freezing | Cook 15 mins | Serves 4
500 g pack fresh lasagne sheets, 2-cm strips
1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp extra
4 eschalots, finely chopped
250 g cup mushrooms, quartered
250 g oyster mushrooms (halved if large)
1 cup vegetable stock
¼ cup masala
300 ml light cream for cooking
1 tbsp chopped parsley
350 g skinless, boneless salmon fillet
Steamed Brussels sprouts, to serve
SAFFRON GARLIC BUTTER
Pinch of saffron
2 tsps boiling water
60 g butter, softened
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsps finely chopped parsley
1. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 to 4 mins until al dente. Drain. Return to pan.
2. SAFFRON GARLIC BUTTER In a small bowl, combine saffron and boiling water. Set aside 5 mins. Stir butter, garlic and parsley through until well combined. Season. Place on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Twist ends to seal. Freeze until firm.
3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat oil on medium. Saute eschalots 2 to 3 mins. Add mushrooms and cook 4 to 5 mins until lightly golden. Stir in stock and masala, simmer 30 secs. Mix in cream, simmer 4 to 5 mins. Add parsley, tossing to coat. Keep warm.
4. In a medium frying pan, heat extra oil on medium. Cook salmon 2 mins one side, turn and cook 2 to 3 mins until just cooked through. Flake into large pieces, fold through pasta and top with saffron butter. Serve with steamed sprouts.
PHOTOS: ROB SHAW/BAUERSYNDICATION.COM.AU