Rhubarb, Rose and Dark Chocolate Tart


Sometimes the thought of making a dessert that involves pastry seems like rather too much work. I admit, I have resorted to using the store bought variety on occasion, and while it can deliver quite satisfactory results, it never does quite match the homemade kind. In my head I think that making pastry from scratch is a rather laborious task, but every time I do decide to make it I am pleasantly surprised at how simple it actually is. Yes, it does mean you have to wait a little longer while it chills in the fridge, but usually that gives you time to prepare the tart filling or get on with something else. And, you can always make more than you need and freeze it. Then you’ve got perfect homemade pastry just sitting in the freezer waiting for the next time those tart cravings come calling. You will thank yourself later for doing this, I promise.


With rhubarb still being in season I thought I would have a go at making a rhubarb and dark chocolate tart that I had seen in an old issue of Donna Hay that was lying around the house. As always when I see something in a magazine, I tweaked and played around with the recipe slightly and I think it turned out pretty well. The base is just the right combination of slightly bittery chocolate and sweet. I like to use cacao as opposed to baking cocoa, as I think it gives the recipe a more robust chocolatey flavour as the cacao beans have not been processed unlike cocoa. The rhubarb adds a nice tang, while the rosewater and sugar helps ensure it isn’t too tart and the chocolate ganache brings the richness that helps marry everything together. This dessert is perfect if you are having a dinner party as you can prepare everything the day before and have it ready in the fridge for when your guests arrive, plus it looks so pretty that everyone will be impressed!


Rhubarb, Rose and Dark Chocolate Tart 

Serves 8

  • ¼ cup cacao + plus extra, for dusting
  • 1¼ cups self-raising flour
  • 125g chilled butter, cubed
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons iced water
  • 2 teaspoons dried rose petals

baked rhubarb

  • 400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 10cm lengths
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater

dark chocolate ganache

  • 300g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup thickened cream

Place the cocoa, flour, butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While the motor is running, add the egg yolks and process to combine. Add the iced water and process until the dough comes together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Roll pastry out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm-thick. Line a 24cm-round loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry, trim the edges and prick the base with a fork.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper, fill with baking weights, or uncooked rice if you don’t have baking weights, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 10–15 minutes or until the pastry is light golden. Allow to cool in the tin.

To make the baked rhubarb, place the rhubarb, sugar and rosewater in a bowl and mix to combine. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tender and just starting to fall apart. Set aside to cool.

To make the dark chocolate ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Place the cream in a saucepan over low heat and stir until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Using a wooden spoon, mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Place the rhubarb in the base of the pastry case and pour over the ganache. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours or until set. Dust with extra cacao and dried rose petals to serve.

Sunny Sunday Brunch


outdoor closeup copy

The first day of spring is upon us today and the weather gods certainly worked their magic. Not only have we entered the season of balmy nights and days spent frolicking on the beach, but today was also Father’s Day here in Australia and I couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day for it if I tried. To celebrate I decided to make dad a brunch that we could enjoy at home in the sunshine. I wanted to make it rather nice, as as you know my sister has just left for America, and so he was one daughter down.

strawberry tart

strawberry tart extreme close up

To celebrate strawberries being in season I decided to make a tarte aux fraises (strawberry tart) to showcase the berries in all their shining glory.  This recipe is better made a day ahead as you need to give the pastry time to rest in the fridge. However, if you are using store bought pastry you can easily begin on the day. This tart is filled with a frangipane filling which is a French term meaning a thick almond custard. This type of custard is different to a crème anglaise because it has a little flour added to the recipe, which means it can be boiled on the stove and thus thickened. It is creamy and oozing, and works superbly well with the fresh, sweet strawberries. Each element is very easy to make, it just requires a little patience on the part of the chef, but it is well worth it because it turns out to be quite the showstopper.

muffin close up


I also made berry, rhubarb and coconut muffins, rustic chicken and herbed mayo finger sandwiches and a zucchini, mushroom and bacon frittata. I may have made slightly too much for three people (!?) but that didn’t seem to stop us from chowing down.  It was all delicious as I know from my fourth and fifth helpings, and it was a lovely change from going out to get breakfast at a café. It was a lot more tranquil, less noisy, less frantic and overall more enjoyable. That is not to say I don’t love a good café brunch but on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating your dad there is no better way to say thank you than with homemade goodies, and by focusing your attention on him instead of being distracted by good looking café patrons! I mean, he deserves it every now and again…don’t you think?


chicken fingers close up


Tarte aux fraises

Adapted from ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ by Julia Child.


  •  2 punnets strawberries, cut in half lengthways
  • 1 cup raspberry jam

For the tart shell (22-23cm tart tin):

  • 1 1/3 cups spelt flour
  • 4 tbs caster/white sugar
  • 105g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • * You can use store bought sweet shortcrust pastry if you don’t have time to prepare your own.

For the Frangipane (almond custard filling):

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups boiling milk
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 ½ tbs vanilla extract
  • ½ cup almond meal

To make the tart shell:

  1. Place the flour, sugar, butter, and baking powder in the mixing bowl. Rub the butter and dry ingredients together with your fingertips until the butter has broken down into bits the size of oatmeal flakes.
  2. Blend in the egg and vanilla and quickly knead the dough with the heel of your hands.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and place onto a board sprinkled with some flour and using the heel of your hand again rapidly press the ball down with the heel of your hand and smear the dough along the board. Form back into a ball and repeat half a dozen times. Form back into a ball again and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for several hours to chill. If you are in a hurry you can place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes then move to fridge to quicken up the process but it may mean the dough will be slightly tougher.
  4. Once the dough is chilled, place it between two floured sheets of baking paper and roll it out until it is thin. Then, gently life the sheet of dough and mold into t he tin.
  5. Blind bake the tart at 200°C by placing a sheet of baking paper over the uncooked tart shell and filling it with baking weights or uncooked rice. This will help to prevent the sides from falling down. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until the dough is set. Then remove the rice and baking paper, prick the pastry shell with a fork and bake for another 8-10 minutes until it is lightly browned. Remove immediately from the mold and leave to cool.

To make the almond custard filling:

  1. Using electric beaters on a medium speed gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is pale and forms ribbons.
  2. Beat in the flour. Continue to beat the mixture and gradually the pour the boiling milk in a thin stream into the egg mixture.
  3. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and set over a medium to high heat. Stir the pot with a whisk, ensuring that you reach all parts of the saucepan otherwise the mixture will stick and burn. When it starts to boil, lower the heat and continue to beat it for 2-3 minutes (this will get rid of any lumps that may have formed).
  4. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and then the almond meal. If you are not using the custard straight away, clean off the sides of the pan and dot it with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming on the top. This custard keeps for a week in the fridge.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Boil the jelly in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat until it thickens and becomes sticky. Using a pastry brush, use half the jam and paint the interior of the tart shell with a thin glaze. This will waterproof the shell in a sense and make sure no custard escapes. Reserve the rest of the jam for glazing the strawberries.
  2.  Spread the frangipane filling into the tart shell and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.
  3. Arrange the strawberries on top creating a ring on the outer layer of the tart and moving your way inwards so you make a repeated strawberry circle pattern. Use the rest of the jam to glaze the top of the strawberries and serve.

Berry, rhubarb and coconut muffins


  • 1 bunch rhubarb, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 5 strawberries diced
  • 75g raspberries
  • 2 ½ cupsself-rasing flour
  • 90g butter chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut + 2 tbs extra to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C . Place muffin cases in 12-hole muffin pan.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb into a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 25-30 minutes. Take out of oven and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, sift flour into large bowl, rub in butter with fingers. Add sugar, buttermilk, egg, desiccated coconut,  cooked rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries, and mix until just combined. Spoon mixture into muffin cases; sprinkle with extra coconut.
  4. Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes or until set. Stand muffins in pan 5 minutes then place on wire rack to cool.

Rustic chicken finger sandwiches:


  • 2 large cooked chicken breast fillets, shredded
  • ½ cup whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ tbs chopped chives
  • ½ tbs chopped dill
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to season
  • ½ loaf sourdough, thinly slice and chopped in half


  1. Combine chicken, mayonnaise, herbs, and lemon juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread filling onto slices of bread and top with remaining slices. Serve immediately.

Zucchini, mushroom and bacon frittata


  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 rashers chopped bacon
  • 115g sliced mushroom
  • 2 zucchinis, grated
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 srpigs thyme (leaves only)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ¾ cup flour
  • olive oil


  1.  Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease and line a 15cm square baking tin.
  2. Heat a pan over a medium heat with some olive oil.
  3. Add garlic, onion and bacon and stir until bacon is cooked through and onion is soft.
  4. Add mushrooms to pan and let them soften.
  5. Add zucchini to pan and let it warm through slightly.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Mix together eggs, thyme, parmesan, flour. Add in ingredients from pan to egg mixture and combine.
  8. Pour into tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Superfood Granola with Stewed Rhubarb


So I woke up the other morning and felt like something healthy to start my day. Why you may ask? That would be because it was a Monday and thus time to purge all previous bad eating habits and start afresh…that is until Tuesday when birthday cake appeared in the office and it seemed rude not to have a piece. I mean, how could I say no. So I vowed to start this healthy regime the following Monday. But it did still leave me longing for something yummy and healthy. So I looked in the cupboard and threw in together a bunch of ingredients that turned out pretty darn well.


This granola happens to be full of goodness and the perfect way to help you kick start your morning. Almonds, walnuts and quinoa are high in protein and good fats, pepitas are high in iron, chia seeds are high in fiber, cacao nibs are high in antioxidants and coconuts are full of healthy fats. All things you need to help you last until lunch time and maybe help you politely decline the next office birthday cake. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but hey, at least you’re trying.


Eating just for health however is a very sad way to live. Taste needs to play an important role in all meals; otherwise you’ve got yourself a pretty bland little life. So I’ve made sure this recipe doesn’t scrimp on flavour. It’s got a double dose of coconut. The coconut oil and and coconut flakes add a beautiful subtle sweetness that won’t see you running for the gym. The cacao nibs give you your chocolate hit the healthy way. And the delicious nutty flavour of quinoa complements the almonds and walnuts.

granola in a bowl

And then there is the stewed rhubarb. I mean is there really a fruit that says comfort on a cold wintery morning better? I don’t think so. The rich, vibrant deep pink  fruit has a way of  subconsciously lifting your mood during dismal winter mornings. It’s hearty, yet healthy and the perfect accompaniment to this granola. Add some yoghurt and you almost have a reason to get out of bed. Almost.


Superfood Granola with Stewed Rhubarb


  • ¾ cup chopped natural almonds
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • ¾ cup quinoa flakes (you can substitute for rolled oats if you prefer)
  • 1 tbs flaxseed
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs
  • 2 cups coconut flakes
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil (can substitute for butter or canola oil)
  • 2 tbs rice malt syrup * or honey
  • I tsp vanilla paste


  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use your hands mix everything together.
  3. Pour onto the baking tray and use the back of spoon to even it out so it is spread across the tray evenly.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden, using a fork at halfway to move the ingredients about so the top of the granola doesn’t burn.
  5. Take out of oven and leave to cool.
  6. Break granola into pieces and serve with yoghurt and fruit.

*Rice malt syrup is a sweetener made with rice and water that contains no fructose and is available in the health food section of most supermarkets.

Stewed Rhubarb


  • 1 bunch rhubarb, rinsed and chopped into 3cm pieces
  • ½ cup water
  • 1-2 tbs rice malt syrup or honey.
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste


  1. Place all ingredients into a medium sized pot, cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes. Check it every few minutes and give it a stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. If your water is evaporating too quickly then add some more but having the lid on should help prevent this. The rhubarb is ready when it  appears to have dissolved into the liquid and all you can see are the stringy pieces of the fruit.