There’s something heart-warming and homely about a freshly baked pie, whether it’s the aroma of buttery pastry that appeases my soul and fills my kitchen, or the time and effort that was put into making it.  Everybody Loves a piece of pie!

This recipe is extremely versatile and allows you to make use of fresh seasonal fruits.

Nothing beats juicy plump cherries.  Sweet and sticky, adding voluptuousness  –  a slice of this pie is simply sinful!

Cherry Crumb Pie


225g Butter

150g Marzipan, grated (Keeping the marzipan in the fridge makes it easier to grate)

100g Caster-sugar

400g Self-raising flour

1 Medium egg

400g Cherries, stoned and halved

250g Black cherry and vanilla soft jam

Icing sugar, for dusting


Melt the butter and leave to cool.

Place in a large bowl together with the marzipan, caster-sugar, flour and egg.

Mix well with an electric beater until a crumbly dough is formed.

Grease a 23cm diameter pie tin.

Put two-thirds of the crumble dough in the pie tin and press into the base and halfway up the sides.

Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, together with the remaining crumble dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Blind bake the pie base for 10 minutes.

Mix the cherries and jam and spread in the pie base.

Sprinkle the remaining of the crumble dough evenly over the top and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.

Dust with icing sugar.

Best served hot or cold with a good dollop of fresh cream.

Savour every crumb … and don’t forget to have a second helping – cherries are packed full of anti-oxidants which are good for you!

Served hot or cold ….. a little slice of heaven

Cherry Crumb Pie


Charismatic Carrot Cake

My quintessential afternoon tea would be held in a lush green garden, with the smell of blooming flowers dancing on a refreshing breeze in the warmth of a summer sun.

An impeccable presented table, boasting the finest bone china, a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut flowers and delectable treats. Yes the romance of the old ritual of afternoon tea certainly does leave one longing for the beauty and grace of old times.

Take away the beauty of the appearance of this exquisite ritual and you are left with two key ingredients – a good quality tea and a tempting treat.

I know that for the majority of people, an afternoon tea would be incomplete without a freshly baked fluffy plump scone, lavishly smothered in clotted cream with a serving of sweet strawberry jam and accompanied by a strong cup of tea.

As an experimental foodie, I get great pleasure experimenting with the flavour combinations of food and drink. Although I admire tradition, I am quite comfortable in changing tradition and it was only natural that while sitting down to an afternoon tea a few days ago, instead of exploring the textures and savouring the taste of my freshly baked scones, I began to think of a replacement for the traditional fluffy scone.

I was looking for the perfect replacement and it came as no surprise that I thought of the charismatic carrot cake.

Enduring to the eye, this light, moist little number was just the treat I was looking for.What better way to make the most of your afternoon tea time, than to sit and savour the delicate textures of the carrot cake.  The combination of sweet moist cake, with subtle hints of cinnamon and cloves, creates a flavour explosion that will warm you up all the way to your toes.  Not to mention the crunch of walnuts together with the creamy lemon-vanilla topping – simply excites me!

To make for an even more exotic flavour feast, why not try a cup of warm, soothing chai latte. Rich in antioxidants and distinctly different for an afternoon tea beverage.

If like me, you want something different for your afternoon tea, this delicious moist carrot cake recipe is a must – Enjoy!



325ml Sunflower Oil

250ml Light Brown Sugar

125ml White Sugar

4 Eggs

500ml Cake Flour

10ml Bicarbonate of Soda

2.5ml Salt

10ml Cinnamon

1ml Ground Cloves

5ml Vanilla Essence

500ml Grated Carrots

50g Chopped Walnuts


125ml Light Cream Cheese

5ml Vanilla Essence

10ml Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Softened Butter

375ml Icing Sugar


Preheat oven to 180ºC

Beat the oil, brown sugar, white sugar and eggs for 2 min.

Add the sifted flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, ground cloves and vanilla essence and mix well.

Add the grated carrots and chopped nuts and mix well.

Spoon mixture in a greased ring pan and bake for ± 45 minutes until done.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in pan.

Once cooled, remove from pan and leave to cool completely before icing.


Mix together the cream cheese, vanilla essence, lemon juice and butter.

Gradually add the icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Store in refrigerator until ready to ice the cake.

Once the cake has been iced, sprinkle the top with whole walnuts.

Charismatic Carrot Cake


The skies were dark, the wind was howling, I looked out onto the street in front of our little house and not a soul in sight.  I jumped back into bed and decided that I was not getting back out again today!  After much sulking, I decided that I would have to get up.  Unimpressed and dressed like a Eskimo, I headed down stairs.  Realising that my mood was not the best (and the weather was partly to blame for this) I decided to have a cup of ambition to get me started.  Now I am sure that there are people out there, who feel my suffering.  I just can not function properly without my morning cup of coffee.  It is the only cup that I will drink for the day but I simply can not wake up properly without one.

While my brain was working at a million miles an hour, contemplating what to do on this typical Irish rainy day, I pondered on what to have for breakfast.  Yes I am a huge breakfast fan.  A food fan in general, but I love my breakfast.  It is such an important meal to start the day and eating the right power foods can really get those brain cells working and I need every working cell I can get!

As I rummaged through the kitchen cupboards, it started to look like a full Irish breakfast was on the cards. I knew that my Fiancé would be a happy man! But I continued to search the cupboards, simply because I was being lazy and the thought of standing over a stove for longer than 10 minutes this morning was deeply depressing.  It was at this time, that I found an old-time favourite.

Good old-fashioned Irish oats.

The cold rainy dark day outside, begged me to make something warm, creamy and nourishing and this was it!  It was as if it was sent from the gloomy skies above!

Not only is oats such a simple and quick breakfast dish to make, it beats the spattering of oil, from frying those eggs and the health benefits are tremendous. This humble heart-warming favourite, aids in lowering bad cholesterol and makes for a happy heart, it is also packed full of fibre which is beneficial for improved intestinal health. As an added treat, I add a tablespoon of bran a few blueberries, a dash of cinnamon and a generous spoonful of honey and l have a wholesome hearty breakfast.

Irish Oats

Serves 1 person


3 Tablespoons Irish Oats

1 Tablespoon Irish Bran

270ml Milk

Pinch of salt

Sprinkle of cinnamon


Put oats and bran into a small pot.  Add the milk and over a moderate heat, bring to the boil.  Stirring continuously ensuring that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.  When the oats starts boiling, add the pinch of salt and cinnamon.

Reduce the heat and continue to stir for 1-2 minutes.

Spoon oats into a porridge bowl and add a generous handful of blueberries and a spoonful of honey.

For a slightly more indulgent breakfast, every once in a while why not use half cream and half milk.  The creaminess caresses your taste buds and sets you straight for a great day!

Enjoy your hearty wholesome breakfast!!

Heart healthy oats

Old fashioned oats


I woke up to the sun streaming through the blind of the bedroom window, which is an unusual sight for an early winters morning in Ireland.  The glistening sunshine made me feel alive with energy and although it did not inspire me to go on an early morning walk, it did however make me feel that lying in bed on such a beautiful morning would be very unproductive.  With this lust for life, I leaped to the kitchen.  Whilst sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee, I stared into the back yard and I decided to surprise my Fiancé with a fresh batch of his favourite bran muffins. Not only could he eat an entire batch, but the aromatic aroma that fills the entire house is a sure way of getting him out of bed and drawing him to the kitchen!

The beauty of these blissful bran muffins is that you can prepare the mixture the night before – ideal if you don’t have much time on your hands in the morning!  All you have to do in the morning is pop them into the oven.

Blissful Bran Muffins


185 g Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon Ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda

110g Firmly packed brown sugar

105g Unprocessed bran

105g Coarsely chopped seedless dates

1 Egg

375ml Buttermilk

125ml Vegetable oil


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Sift all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the chopped seedless dates.

Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil

The mixture should be lumpy and take note to not over mix.   Cover the mixture and refrigerate in you are wanting to bake in the morning.

If baking right away, grease a 12 hole muffin pan.

Spoon muffin mixture into the pan holes and bake for about 25-30 minutes until muffins are browned and risen.

Once muffins are done, remove from the pan and stand on a wire rack to cool.

These muffins can either be served warm with butter and marmalade or plain.

Blissful Bran Muffins


I seem to attract people who share the same passions as I do.  I have an Indian friend who is passionate about food.  One morning, we stumbled on the topic of food, I must say that he surprised me when he told me about his love for cooking as typically in the Indian culture it is the woman who are always in the kitchen.  He started talking about various Indian dishes and how fresh spices were the secret to an excellent Indian dish.   As he passionately started explaining how to test the freshness of the spices, I embarrassingly admit that I drifted away to a loving memory of my Mother. 

 My Mother was an eccentric woman and loved all things bright, bold and beautiful, especially her food.  She loved any Indian dish and was always in the kitchen trying to replicate one of the many Indian dishes, she was always keen to taste. Never one to ask for much in life, she often sacrificed her time to ensure that all of our needs were met.

She did however have one delight, which she would religiously do week after week.  A visit to the local Indian bazaar was a necessity for her and not just a treat.  It was during these weekly visits that I would go along with her and she would always make it crystal clear ,that this was her time and she was not to be disturbed.

I followed her wherever she went, in and out of every shop.  My senses were overloaded, seeing brightly colored saris made from the finest materials, adorning stall after stall, sounds of lively Indian percussions would put a spring in your step as you wandered through the bazaar and the mixture of spices and incense left you ravenous, alluring you to sample some of the finest freshest dishes.

 With her remarkable warm personality and her ability to read a person’s character in an instant, it came as no surprise that my Mother made friends easily.  She befriended an elderly Indian woman, who had a small spice stall.  She would be at the spice stall for what seemed liked hours, seeking advice on how to perfect her dishes.  Asking what spices were the best and how to apply them to her dishes to produce the finest results.  The kind elderly lady would always tell my Mother that the secret was in the correct amount of fresh spices.  In a flash, she would be scooping away at the spices, making a “secret” blend for her.  My Mother, being inquisitive and determined to find out what spices were being blended together would be trying to write down the names, but only managed to get a few.  It was fun to watch this game of cat and mouse, as both woman knew what the other was doing. Finally after much persuasion and persistence, my Mother had earned the trust of the lady and we were invited to tea. It was during this time, that my Mother was taught how to identify fresh spices and was given the secret blend. 

Not that my Mother needed any further motivation, but having learnt about her spices , my Father and I were in for a treat and I can’t begin to tell you how many Indian dishes we sampled after this encounter.

 It was through my Mother’s Love for Indian food, that I became interested in finding out more about how to prepare various dishes and befriended a chef at a hotel I was working for.  It wasn’t long before She would educate me on the know how’s on preparing various Indian dishes.   Soon I became acquainted with her family and was invited to dinner.   I remember calling my Mother and telling her that I was going for dinner with my friend and her family and I really cannot remember who was more excited – myself or her!!!!  

The evening of the dinner arrived and I was warmly welcomed into my friend’s home, immediately the kaleidoscope of colors caught my eye and the familiar smell of spices and incense made me feel at home.

I was introduced to other family members and friends and was told to take a seat and relax as I was their dinner guest.  It was only after much debate with my friend and her family that I was allowed to enter her kitchen.  I was offered a warm spicy tea before dinner and as I took a sip, I realized how fortunate I was to be able to have dinner with this family. A wave of emotion rushed over me as I could not thank them enough for their generosity and kindness. I stood in the warmth of her humble kitchen, feeling awestruck, unbeknown to myself that I would be momentarily culture shocked.  Remembering my manners, I offered to help lay the dinner table and my friend laughed at me.  She looked at me in amazement, as if I should have known the words that were about to come out of her mouth, as she said that it would not be necessary to lay any table, as we would be having our dinner on the floor.  I looked at her bewildered and was led into the next room, only to find a beautiful circle of scattered cushions on the floor, candles lit, incense burning and light music playing  in the background.  While I stood staring, the food had been brought in and I was told to take a seat on any cushion.  Lovingly the dishes were placed in the middle and we joined hands and thanks for the food was given. I watched as bowl of water was passed around.  Following everybody else’s lead, I washed my hands and then dinner was served – BY HAND.  I could not believe my eyes.  I really did not want to look rude as I stared at the sight before me.  I knew that my shock reflected on my face and so I pretended as if this were the norm and joined in.  Going against the culture that I was brought up with, I wearingly put my hand into a bowl of rice and then dipped my hand into a bowl of mutton korma.  As I sat, on the floor, eating my dinner with my hands I was overcome by the sensation of this amazing experience.  I don’t know if it was because I felt as if I was rebelling against the “norms of society” that I was brought up with, or whether it was the texture of the food, as I delicately lifted it from the bowl.  Feeling the warm soft sticky rice, pushing it together to form a sealant so that the sauces of the korma dish would not seep through, I savored each bite as the robust flavors of spices married with the meat  teased my palate.  Bite after bite, the sharpness of the fresh spices shocked my taste buds and left me in a spice induced craze, making me want more.

Dinner was definitely a social get together and I joined in on the conversation and the laughter and smiled graciously at my host, knowing that she knew that I could not find the words to thank her for this experience.

With yellow stained hands, a full belly and an overflowing heart, filled with joy I thanked everyone for a moveable feast and returned home. 

I recall calling my Mother and trying to express my emotions.  Explaining each detail of my dinner and leaving nothing out.   The experience must have captivated her because I can still remember that she did not have much to say, only questions that would make me elaborate more on my experience. 

The reflection of this memory leaves me with a smile on my face and wanting to share the joy of friendship, especially over the festive season. It is certainly the simple things in life, that makes the most lasting impressions. 

I believe that it is important over this season to take time to reflect on pleasant memories and build lasting ones. No matter what culture you are from, eat drink and be Merry, wishing you all a fantastic festive season!

A moveable feast


Bobotie and yellow rice with dried fruit


I would like to share a delicious recipe that is unique and traditional to South Africa.   This dish consisting of minced meat with an egg-based topping , has a combination of sweet and spicy flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and will certainly intrigue your dinner guests.

The delicate blend of spices used in this dish, create a harmonious aroma in your kitchen and as you slowly simmer these spices, you will be transported into the heart of the vibrant and colorful Cape Malay community.

The Cape Malay community can be found in the Western Cape, South Africa.               They are descendants of  Indian, Indonesian and Afro-Indo origins and where brought to the Cape of Good Hope as slaves in the 1600’s by the Dutch East India Company.

Handed down from generation to generation, Cape Malay style cuisine is best known for its rich and intense spices and flavors.

Although prevalent to the Western Cape, this style of cuisine is highly regarded throughout South Africa and most families will have their own favorite recipe that is a star feature on the dinner table.


Serves 8 people


1 Thick crustless slice white bread

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

2 Garlic cloves crushed

2 Large finely chopped onions

1Kg Minced Beef

½ Cup Raisins

6 Almonds, flaked

2 Teaspoons smooth apricot jam

½ Cup Fresh Lemon juice

1 Teaspoon Brown sugar

Pinch of salt

3 Bay Leaves


2 Tablespoons Masala Curry powder

½ Teaspoon Turmeric

½ Teaspoon Nutmeg

½ Teaspoons Ground cumin

½  Teaspoons Ground coriander seed

½ Teaspoon Clove powder

Freshly ground pepper


3 Eggs

375ml Milk


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Soak the bread in the milk.

Heat the Olive oil in a large frying pan on a moderate heat.  Add the crushed garlic and chopped onion and simmer, taking care not to burn the garlic as it will leave a bitter taste.

Add the spice mix to the garlic and onions and continue to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  This allows for the spices to be cooked, releasing more flavor to the dish.

Remove the bread from the milk.  Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and gently break into small pieces.  Keep the milk to one side as it will be for the topping liquid for the final step on the dish.

Mix together the minced meat, bread, raisins, almonds, apricot jam, lemon juice, brown sugar and pinch of salt.

Add to the garlic, onion and spice mix.

Stir using a fork, this helps the minced meat to break into finer pieces and allows it to brown evenly.

Gently simmer over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes, until the minced meat is brown.

Add the meat mixture into a greased, medium-sized oven proof dish.

Add the eggs to the milk and whisk together.  Pour over the meat mixture, ensuring that it is distributed evenly throughout the entire dish.

Place the bay leaves on top of the dish.

Bake, uncovered at 180 degrees Celsius for 45-50 minutes or until set.

Once done, the Bobotie should be firm and there should be no excess liquid in the dish.  To test this, tilt the dish gently to the side, to ensure that the topping liquid has cooked through properly.

Bobotie is best served with yellow rice, fruit chutney, sliced banana, and a mixture of finely chopped onion and tomato, together with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut and a glass of red wine.

Yellow rice is made by cooking your rice as usual and at the boiling stage; a teaspoon of turmeric is added to give it a rich yellow color.

Enjoy this traditional taste of South Africa!





Modern Art in Flinders Lane

There is something about a city’s energy that captivates me.  It is an energy that leaves me bewitched.  I feel my eccentric persona being drawn into the vortex of multiculturalism, leaving me wanting to throw caution to the wind and rebel in the urban frenzy that only a city can offer.

Every city has a tale to tell and it is true that every city’s history is expressed through its architecture, developments and style.   Always open to learning more about different cultures and their history, I enjoy taking time to visit local museums, places of interest and major tourist attractions.  But I believe that if it history that you are after, the society of a city is truly a living history lesson.   Walking through a city you will be astonished by all of the history and culture that surrounds you, if only you open your eyes to sights that surround you and listen to the whispers of the locals.

While the majority of tourists flock to fight their way into entrance queues at major sites, I would much rather be getting lost in the heart of a city’s downtown district with old Victorian-era architecture, representing times gone by.  While trying to find my way around, accidentally stumbling upon lightly dimmed lanes, only to find an explosion of expression of history and current times showcased on street walls through the eyes of graffiti artist.

Walking through the streets of Melbourne it does not take long to realize that this vibrant city caters for all walks of life.   Wandering in and out of the side streets of the central city district, the warm windy breeze is refreshing and the sun, shyly sneaking through the high rise buildings, reflecting on glass windows luminating the city, reassures you that the city is slowing waking and soon it will be open for the enjoyment of one and all.

It is early Saturday morning, my friend and I find a 24 hour eatery and settle down for a hearty breakfast and a spot of people watching.   A bubbly brunette waitress comes over to our table and takes our order and I am pleasantly surprised by her jolliness, as this usually is hard to come by in a city.  Sitting back watching people is an art to itself; it is at this moment when we realize that we do not want to see Melbourne and all of its major attractions and high-street shopping havens.  After much discussion, we decide that our plan of action is to explore alluring alleyways and hunt down hidden unusual shops.

With high spirits we wander through the city, absorbing every sign and street, waiting to find that something extraordinary.  As we swerve to avoid oncoming footfall, we turn up a side street and find ourselves in China town.  Ecstatic explorers that we are, we meander through the streets like a floating Chinese dragon, constantly moving and bobbing in and out of every store we come across. The colors are bold and vibrant and the smile of a toothless, elderly Chinese man welcomes us and makes us feel at peace that we have such inquisitive minds.   With time, not on our side we decide that our trip to China town must be cut short if we are looking for that something extraordinary and we realize that leaving without a fortune cookie is worthless.  We scurry into the nearest corner restaurant and purchase our cookie, which reveals that fortune is fair to us and it is foretold to explore further.

A few blocks away we stumble across what could be described as Little Greece, an array of Greek restaurants and shops.  The aromas are alluring and the smells coming from the little kitchens are heavenly.  Blue and white décor and Greek symbols lovingly adorn shops and restaurants. We peak into each window to see what is inside.  At one local restaurant a Mother is engrossed in conversation with what seems to be a close friend behind the counter and we stop to watch her purchase what looks like a tray of Baklava.  She displays a remarkable skill that Mother’s usually have,  as she bids farewell to her friend and balances her purchase in one arm, a baby in another and a swarm of children buzzing around her.  Momentarily we forget that we are in Melbourne and are transported to a local restaurant somewhere in Greece.

Engrossed by our surroundings, we decided to continue and walk on only to find a street that is home to a second hand book store.  So well hidden, if you were not vigilant, you would walk straight past it.   Walking down the stairs into this sea of words, we notice that this store is unlike any other bookstore and is home to row after row of second hand books with every imaginable topic.  Although not a library people are quiet out of respect for others. As we quietly tiptoe through each isle we notice that some of the books are so old, they are falling apart.  Taking one off from the shelf we carefully open it to find an old inspiring inscription dated from the 1920’s and we are mesmerized and begin to wonder how different the lifestyle must have been back then.  Soon we realize that this little secondhand bookstore is truly a gem and safely harbors literature and knowledge from years gone by to that of the present day.   Scanning the shelves arouses a feeling of excitement and makes us feel as if we are going to get lucky and find a rare autographed first edition from a famous writer that might be worth a small fortune.  Truth be told, if we had the time and patience, I am sure that we would probably discover one or two hidden in between the thousands of books in the store.  Truly any collectors dream!

With starry eyes and a renewed passion we leave the bookstore to wander off and end up in a vintage clothing store.  The average signage does not do justice to this little piece of history and as we enter, we notice a ground floor that is dedicated to the gentlemen and here you would find anything and everything.  The ladies section is upstairs and as we enter, we are stunned with the vast array of polka dot petticoats, casual cardigans, pencils skirts and vintage accessories from birdcage veils to pretty pearls.  It is as if we entered a time warp.  The staff is warm and friendly and makes you feel as if you have popped in to visit old friends, in actual fact you feel slightly inclined to put on a frock and veil and start dancing away to the soft background music.

Accidentally finding these unique little stores and experiencing the hospitality that was bestowed upon us, we ask one of the locals for a bit of advice on where to find more places that might suit our taste and where the locals enjoy going to escape the clutches of the city center.  Immediately we are given directions to what is known as Flinders Lane.  Amazingly enough we manage to find this mecca of lavish eateries, vintage chic boutiques and interesting people.  Victorian style buildings radiate warmth, welcoming you to wander into the lane.  You are immediately drawn to how busy everything is.  Here you will find the creamiest cappuccinos, gourmet noodles, gluten free fresh soups with soft taco shells and deli decadences to die for.  Taking the time to stop and read the menu’s from each eatery is an accomplishment on its own, as you walk away with your mind full of wonder for the gastronomical geniuses who created them, one can tell that this little lane is bursting with pride and passion.

What makes this lane so interesting is the fact that everywhere you look you will notice graffiti.  It is entwined with the local businesses signage and it makes one feel as if this little community has reached a compromise with the Graffiti Artists, who are often misunderstood.  Their work shunned by many as society feel that this form of art is degrading, they have seemed to reach out with locals in the lane and together they have created a fusion of art that leaves one astonished.

This eclectic blend is breathtaking and as you walk through you are captivated by almost everything you look at and long after you leave, you still have vivid images in your mind and you will remember the names of the eateries and boutiques that you saw.

If you take a moment to stop you will notice old friends meeting up with one another and locals coming out into the lane to talk to tourists that have stumbled upon it, giving advice and directions to all.  It is through this warmth and hospitality that was portrayed during our brief visit into this lane that an immediate mutual decision was made and we realized that we had accomplished our mission.  We found that something extraordinary in the city that we were looking for.

Of all the places that you can visit during your stay in Melbourne, we felt that this little lane, bursting with locals and a culture of its own, was a truly unique experience.  Escaping from all of the high street stores and over advertised jargons was tremendous.  Having had the opportunity to talk with the locals without being rushed was an experience that will not be forgotten.

I am sure that I speak on behalf of my friend when I say that it truly has been a long time since I have been as attracted to a city, as I am attracted to Melbourne.  It is a unique city, a city with a beating pulse of diversity that is often hard to come by.

As individuals our tastes all differ and that is what makes life so interesting.

I know that the memories from our decision to seek out the extraordinary  will be treasured and for once it is not the major attractions that will draw me back into this vibrant city, but the humble and friendly nature of the locals that we met along our way,  which will ensure another visit back.

Mesmerizing Melbourne