Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rhonnie's Strawberry Cake

Alright - so it's been forever, I know - but, all on purpose as I have a cookbook coming out, so it's been all go working on that for the past wee while - mainly, a lot of editing (in other words, test kitchen work with a few willing guinea pig cooks).

I'm hoping though, that this latest recipe of mine, might be enough to assuage those of you still reading / watching!

Last night, with 4 surplus to requirement punnets of strawberries in my refrigerator and a hankering for something seriously sweet, I decided to throw whatever I had together to create something sweet with the illusion of health - fruit means it has no calories right? (wishful thinking).

I didn't want something super cakey so I made a thick mixture (more strawberries) and spread it in a bigger pan to make more of a strawberry slice than a cake - more strawberry, hint of cake, not so much filler.

The result was undoubtedly divine! So divine in fact that not only I, but friends over at the time, all matched their mouthful with an "mmmm" followed by a more excited "MMMMMM!!!" followed by a "this is seriously good!" so, I would call this cake/slice, a definite success.

Proviso: This is not healthy in the slightest - you all know how much I love to add in my sugar, and in this delightful little cake/slice, there's two cups of the stuff!

You'll Need:

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 6-8 T butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 - 1 cup milk (use your own judgement on qty)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Standard Grade Flour
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract or Essence
  • 2 punnets of strawberries, hulled and diced (you can leave as halves if you like too)


1. If you want a chunkier cake, add in less strawberries and use a smaller pan, or if you'd like to replicate what I've done, with a thinner slice, add in the full amount of strawberries and use a large slice pan.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius

3. Line a slice pan or cake pan with cooking paper and set aside

4. In a large bowl, cream together the caster sugar and butter.

5. Mix in the egg, milk, vanilla, strawberries and brown sugar. Stir to combine, squeezing out any balls of brown sugar.

6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

7. Gradually mix in the flour mixture until combined (don't overmix) and then transfer to the pan.

8. Sprinkle (even more) brown sugar over the top of the cake and bake for around 10 minutes. Depending on your taste, judge the cake by testing with a knife to see if it comes out clean. Personally, I like to take the cake out before it completely sets so that it's really moist and almost gooey in parts.

Enjoy the sweetness!! Perfect for these Summery months.

Yours in S'mores,


Monday, December 12, 2011

Vege Eggs Benedict

This is a pretty standard recipe, but for anyone who doesn't know, this is how to make vegetarian Eggs Benedict - it probably has an actual name, but it's basically Eggs Benedict without the bacon or salmon.

You'll Need: 

  • Ciabatta Bread
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Salt 
  • 1 T Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Pepper
  • Lemon Juice
  • 1 Egg Yolk, beaten
  • 1 T White Vinegar
  • Lemon Pepper - to taste

  1. Slice the ciabatta to give you two slices. Lay a handful of spinach over the bread.
  2. 1/2 fill a saucepan with water and add vinegar and salt. Bring to the boil.
  3. Break an egg into a saucer and slip gently into the boiling water. Repeat with second egg.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, salt, pepper and mustard and bring to the boil. 
  5. Reduce the heat and add the milk slowly, stirring all the time.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolk and the lemon juice -drop-by-drop.
  7. Reheat, but do not boil.
  8. The eggs should be ready when the whites are cooked. 
  9. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and lay on top of spinach lined ciabatta
  10. Spoon the hollandaise over the top
  11. Sprinkle with lemon pepper

Super Yummo!!

Yours in S'mores!

xo Rhonnie

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A trip to VEVO Foodstore

On a sweltering Saturday morning this past weekend, Mama, my Aunt and I headed along to VEVO Foodstore - the cafe and delicatessen owned and operated by my cousin Elliot and his wife Victoria, both accomplished chefs and avid foodies who opened the Foodstore on the 22nd of November this year. Elliot's resume includes  Ottos, Bowmans, The Grove, O'Connell  St Bistro and Head Chef at TriBeCa and currently, when he's not at the cafe, he's working at Hammerheads as their Executive Chef - so you know the food at VEVO, is definitely worth the visit.

Located in Titirangi Village among a bevy of local stores, the Foodstore has rapidly gained the attention of the Titirangi crowd but having only been open a couple of weeks, it still carries the cosy feel of your own special, local place. As well as a delectable blackboard menu and mouth-watering cabinet food, VEVO Foodstore also offers a selection of gourmet delicatessen items for purchase including deli meats, cardamom ham, freezedried fruits for cooking, oils, hot chocolates, fresh bread from Pandoro and an endless sea of other delicious items. They also provide out-catering for canapés, platters, weddings and small functions as well as offering a selection of delicious hampers - perfect for Christmas gifts, this holiday season. VEVO is a family friendly cafe because it's family owned. VEVO is an anagram for the members of Elliot and Victoria's family, taking the 'E' and 'V' from the couple as well as the 'V' and 'O' for their two sons... now that there's a third son, perhaps VEVO will adopt a 'J', or continue to offer 'Joel's Cupcake and Coffee Special' to patrons.

Naturally, I had the hot chocolate - part of my nationwide search for the best hot chocolate available!

 Chef Victoria through layered salad bowls

 My tasty poached eggs on ciabatta toast

 Mama's Bacon and Poached Eggs on Ciabatta Toast

The beautiful view from the courtyard. I'm hoping one day they'll buy out the rights to the courtyard and offer outdoor dining overlooking this gorgeous view, but in the meantime, it's visible from the tables that line the East wall of the cafe and outdoor dining is available by the front door.

Mama ^^ I know, we look nothing alike. I'm the only brunette, olive skinned, brown eyed (except in this case, green eyed ha) girl in the family. Must be adopted.

I definitely recommend that you head along and check out VEVO Foodstore at 402C Titrangi Road in the heart of Titirangi Village, Auckland. Whether you're in the market for some gourmet additions to your pantry, after some outcatering for that special event or even tonight's dinner or you want to be served a lovely, high quality meal by two talented chefs, there's something for everyone at VEVO.
PS here are their Facebook and Website pages for more info.

xo Rhonnie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Miniature Cranberry Mascarpone Pavlovas

I wanted to create a lighter option for dessert for those that don't feel like a heavy pie after all that Thanksgiving fare. My original plan was to create Cranberry Mascarpone puffs using puff pastry cases like those used for vol au vents but when I saw these bite sized miniature pavlovas on the supermarket shelf, I couldn't pass them up. Normally, I don't like using anything ready made and all but this one dish have been made entirely from scratch but for this, I made an exception.

They're bite sized, super light (so you can eat many!) and they're super cute.

  • 12 pack mini pavlovas
  • cranberry coulis (reserved from the cranberry chocolate tart recipe - or cranberry sauce recipe)
  • mascarpone
  1.  Slice the pavlovas in half-  gently
  2. Spoon the cranberry mix onto the bottom half
  3. Spoon a dollop of mascarpone on top 
  4. Replace pavlova lid and press down gently, making a pavlova burger

xo Rhonnie

Cranberry Mascarpone Chocolate Tart

This is a special Thanksgiving treat that is gone almost as soon as I lay it on the table. The sharpness of the cranberries is offset by the sweetness of the chocolate base and the creamy delicate mascarpone centre.


For the Topping:
  • .5 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 t unflavoured gelatin
  • 12 ounce bag of cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 t lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1 t peeled grated fresh ginger
  • 1 t finely grated lemon peel
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 T finely chopped crystallised ginger
For the Crust:
  • 1.25 cups oreos (separated from the cream centres) blended to small crumbs
  • .25 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5-6 T unsalted butter (melted)
For the Filling:
  • 8 ounce pack of mascarpone
  • .5 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • .5 cup chilled whipping cream
  • vanilla essence
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2.  Combine the biscuit crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl, aff the melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist
  3. Press crumb mix firmly into a tart pan with a removable bottom.
  4. Bake the crust until it begins to set and is slightly crisp when pressed with a spoon
  5. Transfer to rack and allow to cool completely.
  6. Using electric mixer, beat all filling ingredients until thick enough to spread (do no overbeat)
  7. Spread filling into chilled crust
  8. Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into small bowl
  9. Sprinkle gelatin over juice and allow to stand until oft
  10. Combine 1/4 cranberry juice, cranberries and next 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan
  11. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves
  12. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until cranberries are tender but still plump
  13. Strain into bowl setting cranberries aside
  14. Add gelatin mix to hot juice in bowl and stir until gelatin dissolves
  15. Stir cranberries back into juice and chill until mix is cold and thick- about 8 hours
  16. When cool, stir crystallised ginger into mix
  17. Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling
  18. Chill at least 2 - 6 hours

xo Rhonnie

Rhonnie's Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting and Chocolate Turkeys

Normally for Thanksgiving take-home gifts, I make my mother's famous 'Afternoon Tea Fudge' and package it in elaborately garnished chinese noodle boxes but this year, with fridge space at a premium courtesy of the extra side dishes and desserts I added to my menu, I opted for something a little different. 

Utilising the Betty Crocker 'Devil's Food Cake' box kit I'm so fond of, I created my Rhonnie's Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla frosting and Chocolate Turkeys.

  • Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Box
  • Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting Tin
  • Pink 'Fairy Flakes'
  • Milk Chocolate Melts
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  1. Make the Devil's food cake batter as directed
  2. Add in cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to taste
  3. Pour batter into patty pans
  4. Bake as directed
  5. When cool, pipe the vanilla frosting on to each cupcake using your choice of piping head attachment
  6. Sprinkle with fairy flakes
  7. Seat each turkey on top of the cupcake

I bought my turkey chocolate mould overseas many years ago and it still produces perfect little chocolate turkeys. Have a search online or try Milly's Kitchen in Auckland for other possibilities.

xo Rhonnie

Yankee Cornbread

The delectable smell of cornbread wafting through my home is incredible and the use of cornmeal makes a more interesting taste and a lighter loaf than white flour.  This cornbread recipe makes a loaf that flies off the plate into the mouths of happy guests faster than you can slice it!
For variations, try adding in some sharp cheddar cheese and jalapeños. 

  • 1.5 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1.5 cups al purpose flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1t salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 8T butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl, sift the cornmeal, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt together. 
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs, buttermilk and 4 T of the melted butter
  4. Stir until just smooth, do not overbeat.
  5. Pour remaining 4T butter into a pan and heat until butter is hot but not browned.
  6. Pour batter into hot pan and baked until top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, around 25 minutes.
You can make this loaf up to 8 hours ahead of time.

xo Rhonnie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This is my favourite cranberry sauce and it's basically just a standard cranberry sauce recipe that I added a huge amount of spice to. I'm a huge spice fan, anything I can add spice to, I do. I haven't put quantities here as you really just season to taste.
  • 4 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • cinnamon
  • ground cloves
  1. Mixs all ingredients in a saucepan
  2. Heat to boiling, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Cook about 10 minutes or until berries have all burst and liquid is reduced somewhat
  4. Sauce will thicken as it cooks.

xo Rhonnie

Rhonnie's Cranberry Boysenberry Lattice Pie

I love a fruit pie - and a latticed fruit pie? drool. Cranberries are amazing in a pie served with mascarpone or cream -especially brandied and the combination of boysenberries and cranberries in this pie make a sharp and delightful flavour experience with the sense memory triggers to send you back to your favourite holiday memories.


  • 2 x sheets Sweet Short Pastry (or make your own)
  • 1.5 cups cranberries
  • 1.5 cups boysenberries (halved)
  • 5 T flour
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Ground Cloves
  • .5 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • salt
  • 2 T butter
  • brown sugar
  1. Prepare pastry for pie by lining a pie dish with pastry and baking with baking beans briefly until firm
  2. In a saucepan, add berries and water and bring to the boil
  3. Mix dry ingredients and slowly add to the berry mixture, add spices and brown sugar (to taste)
  4. Cook on low heat until mixture thickens
  5. Remove from heat and add extract
  6. Cool filling completely and then pour into a 9" pastry lined pan, dot with the butter
  7. Add top crust as a lattice, crimping edges
  8. Bake in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for around 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. You may like to brush with egg or milk and sprinkle sugar (I use Amaretto Sucre) to make a crispier crust.
  9. Serve room temperature with cream or mascarpone.

Rhonnie's Spiced Pumpkin Pie

My mum taught me to make her Spiced Pumpkin Pie when I was young and used to 'help' her make it every Halloween for our themed dinner. Ever since I began celebrating Thanksgiving, the Spiced Pumpkin Pie took it's rightful place among the official desserts, simultaneously confusing and satisfying people who had no clue that Pumpkin could make something sweet.

While I know most of you can get hold of puréed pumpkin in a can, ready to mix but there's something more satisfying about making it from scratch. The most time consuming part is rubbing the cooked pumpkin through a sieve to get the pumpkin really fine and soft and leaving behind those annoying stringy bits that hold he fresh pumpkin together.


  • Sweet Short Pastry (or make your own crust)
  • 1 breakfast cup cooked pumpkin pulp
  • 1 egg
  • 1 dessertspoon golden syrup
  • Ground ginger
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 dessertspoon flour
  • .5 cup milk
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • nutmeg
  1. Chop pumpkin into big pieces - no need to exert yourself on this part, place in large saucepan and add water to cover.
  2. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer on a low heat until a knife slides through the pumpkin like buttter
  3. Pumpkin should be soft enough that just sliding a fork into it will make the outer skin fall off
  4. Rub through a sieve
  5. Beat egg and combine with all ingredients mixing thoroughly. The spices don't have quantities because it's all by taste. I like to be pretty liberal with the spices, just do it to your own preference.
  6. Line a pie plate with short pastry and cook in oven with baking beans until firm, add mixture and bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

xo Rhonnie
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