Presents for you as The KM turns 2

The other day a post popped up in the little ‘You might also like’ box and I thought, ‘crumbs, I don’t remember doing that one’. So I clicked on it and realised with shock that it was my first post, from TWO years ago.
I can’t believe I just about forgot The Kitchenmaid’s second birthday altogether. Bad me. But good on you for sticking with me through what has been a fairly fraught year. Thank you for your support and your suggestions, they all mean a lot.
Various factors have meant I haven’t had nearly as much time to devote to my favourite vanity project in 2012, nor spend as much time luxuriating in reading other blogs or just playing about in my kitchen. I often try not to think about what I could be doing with the time I do spend on it – but I do think two years’ worth of posts is worth celebrating, don’t you?

I think it’s so worth celebrating that I have a whole swag of lovely things – which are all related to major topics covered on this blog, namely chocolate, whitebait, kitchenalia and tea – to give away. Hurrah!

First up – and this is for New Zealand readers only, due to postage problems – I have a collection of gorgeous Equagold goodies, including some Cocoa Nibs with Cinnamon, two bottles of certified organic Pure Vanilla Extract (one of which has the added bonus of star anise), some gold-strength leaf Gelatine and a gorgeous big bottle of Tahitian Vanilla Syrup. Just think of the fun you could have with that!

Next – and this is for overseas readers only – a limited edition West Coast whitebait tea towel, direct from the wild West Coast itself.

Overseas readers are also in with a chance on this one – I’ve just discovered the Pratty’s Tea range and I am absolutely hooked. It’s made in Auckland by a naturopath and tea expert and every single one is delicious. I have one tin to give away (even though I am tempted just to drink it all myself).

Last, but by no means least, I have this to give away:

This is Theo, mascot of the New Zealand Chocolate Festival. You might get to meet him – or at least get to see lots more photos of him – if you win the TWO tickets I have to give away to New Zealand’s most choc-tastic event on Friday August 24. Anyone can enter this one, but obviously it will significantly improve your chances of being able to use the tickets if you can be in Wellington on that particular day.

All you have to do to be in to win is:

1. Leave a
comment below – or on The Kitchenmaid’s Facebook page, telling me what you’d like to see more (or less) of on this blog
– baking? cooking advice? book reviews? family friendly food? lunchbox ideas? pictures of animals? a tour of my apron and tablecloth collection? I would really love your feedback. Let me know which prize you most fancy.
2. You can enter more than once – eg via leaving a comment below AND on Facebook, or by mentioning the giveaway on Twitter. You don’t have to leave your phone number with your comment but it would be helpful to have some way of contacting you.
3. Entries close at 12 noon (NZ time) next Sunday. Winners will be drawn at random and no correspondance will be entered unto (unless you want to tell me how pleased you are that you won).

Don’t forget to tell me what you’d like to see more of
on The Kitchenmaid, because cooking for one just isn’t fun. Good luck!

Be my guest: As Strong As Soup

This week’s guest is Phil from As Strong As Soup. I had to really twist Phil’s arm to do this – admittedly, even more difficult done at a distance to someone you don’t know – and he has cunningly managed to answer my questions without giving anything away.
I love Phil’s blog – it’s is a mixture of historical knowledge, random food facts, recipes and hilarious half-tales that hint at a life lived to the full. Somehow it all hangs together in an elegant and compulsively readable fashion (and the recipes aren’t half-bad either). Here’s what I managed to get out of him…

What’s your blog about?

It’s really just a collection of recipes that I’ve created or found lying around. There are quite a number of French dishes in the blog, especially French baking. There’s no real plan behind that. It’s just that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in France and I can’t always find that kind of French cooking in English books.

When did you start it? Why?

Getting on for three years ago, I was sitting in a restaurant in the Languedoc thinking that I’d like to recreate the dish that I was eating when I got home. Trouble was I knew that I was hopeless at writing recipes down and I suddenly thought, “Why not start my own blog? That will force me to make a proper record”. By and large, it’s worked.

Indonesian Satay Bread
Indonesian Satay Bread Image: As Strong As Soup

Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?
I have always tried to remain as amateur as possible in all my endeavours in life and this is certainly no exception.

Who’s your food hero?

Actually I’ve got a few heroes, but none of them are well known. For instance, Pierrot who cooked in his own little restaurant for many years, often singing as he did so. He treated all his customers as friends, kept his food simple and his prices low and made the largest île flottante that I’ve ever eaten.

Duck Apicius
Duck Apicus Image: As Strong As Soup

Masterchef and TV food shows – hot or not?

Well, I know lots of people love them but I don’t really get most big TV shows. Watching shopping channels is slightly less irritating to me than competitive cooking or reality shows about people decorating cakes. I do enjoy some really low budget shows on the lesser channels and regional stations which are largely a woman (or man) wandering around the countryside with a saucepan.

What are your three favourite posts on your blog?
My first-ever post about the parmesan sablé, partly because it’s what started it all, but mostly because I still really like the biscuits.
Then the

Nonnettes with White Chocolate Chips

Duck Apicius, because they were challenging to get right but eventually turned out just the way I wanted them.

Nonnettes with White Chocolate Chips
Nonnettes with White Chocolate Chips Image: As Strong As Soup

Tell us about another blog you love.

That’s unfair because there are so many. Can I be cheeky and name two? Both these blogs have a wide range of food but both are rooted in very different traditions to the Anglo/French one that I know.
I’ve learned a lot from both Michelle at Food, Football and a Baby and Ozlem at Ozlem’s Turkish Table.

(Oops, I’ve just remembered that Michelle was on Masterchef – I obviously didn’t mean that bit about preferring the shopping channel).

What’s for dinner tonight?

For quite a while now I’ve been planning to recreate a dish of pork with prunes that I ate years ago in the Loire valley. I thought I might do that, but I’m likely to be really short of time again and so I think it’s more likely to be a homemade Eccles cake with cheese.

Eccles Cakes
Eccles Cakes a la Phil Image: As Strong As Soup

What else do you do?

I’ve done a number of odd and disconnected things in my life but these days I stick to making waistcoat-buttons in the silent night and trying to stay out of trouble. (I’m not doing too well at that).

Who do you cook for?

My cooking is definitely a family affair these days. I do spend a lot of time feeding a family of robins who live in a nearby tree, but they prefer worms to cake.

The Coffee Round-up – Part II

Every great book or film has a sequel and this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge is no different. Fasten your seatbelts, as Bette Davis once said in a completely different context, there’s a lot more coffee and chocolate to get through…

Is it too early for a splash of Amaretto? Of course not, it’s never too early, especially if it’s in these Amaretto Coffee Brownies as made by Georgina at Culinary Travels.

7337469914 826825e2d1 Amaretto Coffee Brownies
Amaretto Coffee Brownies

If you’d rather brownies with a hint of spice, with is perhaps more appropriate first thing in the morning, you might prefer these Spiced Brownies made by Janet at The Taste Space.

Spiced Brownies

I’m sure you couldn’t say no to one of these Coffee-Iced Brownies from the Hungry Hinny. Go on, just one won’t hurt.

Coffee-Iced Brownies

Still not convinced? Then what about this Mocha Fudge Brownie Slice – the brownie that combines all that fudgy goodness AND a shortbread base – made by Suelle at Mainly Baking?

Mocha Fudge Brownie Slice

Ok, no more brownies, I promise. Let’s move on to something with a bit of crunch, like these Happiness Cookies, inspired by Joy the Baker and made by everyone’s favourite femme fatale, Delaney at Heartbreak Pie. Here’s a tantalising shot of the bowl…

Happiness Cookies – in process

Harriet at Food Love Food also went in for biscuits – these Chocolate Espresso Biscuits look divine.

Chocolate Espresso Fingers

I absolutely love the look of these Mocha Viennese Fingers from Cookbooks Galore, particularly because they look exactly like something from the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook circa 1970 (and I mean that as a compliment).

Mocha Viennese Fingers

And the precision of these Mocha Bourbon Biscuits (that’s Bourbon as in the packaged biscuit, not the drink) blows me away. Take a bow, Becky of Mint Custard!

Mocha Bourbon Biscuits

Caroline from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking detests coffee but she gritted her teeth and got stuck in with these Coffee Chocolate Chunk Cookies (while offering the helpful suggestion that the coffee can be omitted in favour of ginger).

Coffee Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I felt terrible when Choclette, the founder of We Should Cocoa, confessed she couldn’t stand coffee either, but the sight of her lovely Espresso and Cappuccino Cupcakes cheered me up no end.

Espresso And Cappuccino Cupcakes

Juliet from The Crazy Gypsy Chronicles doesn’t drink coffee either, but she admits being addicted to these sweet little Mocha Cookie Kisses.

Mocha Cookie Kisses

Actually, I should probably come clean and this point and confess that I don’t drink the stuff either. But I do occasionally eat it in things, such as Mary Mathis’ Chocolate Biscuits.

Mary Mathis’ Chocolate Biscuits

But enough of these caffeine confessions, let’s get back to the baking. Katie from Apple and Spice made her We Should Cocoa debut with this delectable, gluten-free, Coffee Swirl Cake With Chocolate Chips. She can come again, right?

Coffee Swirl Cake With Chocolate Chips

Sarah at Sarah Bakes wins the prize for the cutest cupcake tin – her Cappuccino Cupcakes are actually baked in these silicon cases.

Cappuccino Cupcakes

Mac at Chocolate Recipes – a blog that has what it says on the tin – made me swoon with this Chocolate Cake with Coffee Syrup (and I don’t really like chocolate cake, much).

Chocolate Cake With Coffee Syrup

But that’s not to say that I didn’t also love the look of this Vanilla Iced Coffee And Chocolate Cake from Jo at Comfort Bites…

Vanilla Iced Coffee and Chocolate Cake

… or this Chocolate And Coffee Cake With Espresso Buttercream from Susie at Fold In The Flour (I have just found Susie’s blog – her baking is incredible).

Chocolate And Coffee Cake With Espresso Buttercream

Time for a break from cake? Ok, here’s a Frozen Mocha Cheesecake from Susan at Spice Garden, dating back to her days of singleton debauchery. She says this cheesecake serves 12, but I reckon she’s not trying hard enough.

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

This Dark Chocolate And Coffee Mousse from TangoLikeRaindrop also looks just the ticket for a night of decadence. Preferably one spent home alone on the sofa, in front of Coronation St. Have I just shared too much?

Dark Chocolate And Coffee Mousse

Enough about my Coro habits (is it just me, or do Carla and Michelle look like they’ve been dip-dyed in Nescafe?), Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes knocked out this very respectable-looking Chocolate And Coffee Loaf.

Chocolate And Coffee Loaf

Karen at Lavender and Lovage never ceases to amaze me with her incredibly detailed and inventive recipes – and her entry this month was every bit as incredible as I expected. These Little Coffee Chocolate Chip Cupcakes With Vanilla Cream Froth are a delight to behold (and I’m sure they’re even better to eat).

Little Coffee Cup Chocolate-Chip Cakes with Vanilla Cream Froth
Little Coffee Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes With Vanilla Cream Froth

Given that she zips back and forth between France and the UK, Jean at Baking In Franglais is pretty inventive too. Here’s her Cappuccino Cake, whipped up in haste for her dad.

cappuccino cake1
Cappuccino Cake

Fleur at Homemade By Fleur is also a cake whiz and she created this Chocolate And Coffee Celebration Cake With Whipped Vanilla Icing for her entry. That’s worth celebrating in itself, surely.

Chocolate And Coffee Celebration Cake With Whipped Vanilla Icing

Meanwhile, Cheah at No-Frills Recipes solved the problem of what to do with the bottle of Kahlua sitting in her cupboard by pouring some of it into these Almond Coffee Cakes. Shall we speculate on what happened to the rest?

Almond Coffee Cakes

No, let’s gaze at the fantastically drippy icing on this Spiced Espresso Loaf Cake, made by Laura at How To Cook Good Food. I love drippy icing.

Spiced Espresso Loaf Cake

Speaking of which, Janine at Cake Of The Week also went all out on the icing front with these Mocha Marble Cupcakes. This is icing porn at its best!

Mocha Marble Cupcakes

I’ll leave the last word to Iva, organiser of the New Zealand Chocolate Festival. She says her truffle making efforts are worthy of epic laughter and finger pointing. I think she’s wrong (even though her post made me laugh so much I nearly fell off the uncomfortable stool that masquerades as my ‘office’ chair).

Coffee and chocolate – what could go wrong?

Thanks to everyone who participated in this month’s challenge. If you’re up for more chocolate fun and games, head over to Chocolate Log Blog tomorrow (July 1) to find out what the special ingredient will be.

We Should Cocoa: Coffee Round-up

Excuse me if I seem a little wired, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting nearly 50 We Should Cocoa entries this month. Who could have anticipated mixing coffee and chocolate would be so popular?

Here’s part one of the round-up…

Hannah from Corner Cottage Bakery whipped up these Mocha Mousse Pots for the sole reason of showing off her beautiful weddng gift espresso cups. If ever there was a reason to get married, these cups would be it, don’t you think?

Mocha Mousse Pots

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen won me over with this Chocca Mocha Date and Walnut Loaf, which looks remarkably like something my mum used to make, albeit with more chocolate, coffee and, err, walnuts.

Chocca Mocha Date & Walnut Loaf

It is a truth universally acknowledged – at least by Kit at Lost in Austen – that Coffee Cheesecake is an ideal Father’s Day treat (whatever would Mrs Bennett have thought of that?) and this one certainly looks worth a novel in its honour.

Coffee Cheesecake

Ros, aka The More Than Occasional Baker, turned a gift package from Joy the Baker into these Deep Dark Mocha Cupcakes. As a big fan of Joy’s blog I can’t wait to try these (ahem, Ros, let me know if you want my address).

Deep Dark Mocha Cupcakes

Just when it was all getting a bit too decadent, Linzi from Lancashire Food swung by with this Fruity Mocha Vegan Cake. Right on, sister!

Fruity Mocha Vegan Cake

But then Caroline from Caroline Makes turned up with a trayful of Toffee Walnut Blondies and the calorie-fest continued. I love blondies. And Blondie. Don’t you?

Toffee Walnut Blondies

Jo from Food, Travel, Life made her We Should Cocoa debut with these homemade Oreos, which she learned to make as an au pair in the US. How cool is that? You’re welcome any time, Jo!


Cakeboule celebrated surviving a wet week in a restored VW camper by making these Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies. If the brownies don’t get you, the pics of the camper will. It’s gorgeous.

Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies
Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Mel at Sharky Oven Gloves also went in for brownies, though no brownie points for her after she accidentally fed her Coffee and Walnut Brownies to some small children. (They survived, but their parents may still be bearing emotional scars.)

Coffee & Walnut Brownies

On the subject of children – a topic always dear to my heart – Wartegganziantep  let her 15-month-old twins sample her Choco Coffee Cookies and they loved them. What a brave woman.

Choco Coffee Cookies

Busy mum-of-three Michelle at Munch also considered her children when making these adults-only Chocolate Mocha Fondants (best enjoyed when the little darlings are sound asleep).

Chocolate Mocha Fondants

Jacqui at Where The Wind Blows Me also felt like fondant, but generously shared her Fondant au Mocha with her pals at Perth’s Clandestine Cake Club.

Fondant au Mocha

Vivian Pang fiddled with one of her favourite recipes to produce this deep, dark Cocoa Condensed Milk Cake, which looks like a real crowd-pleaser too.

Cocoa Condensed Milk Cake

Need a break from all that cake? Righto then. Sink your teeth into this Chocolate and Raspberry Tiramisu made by Maggie from Kitchen Delights.

Chocolate and Raspberry Tiramisu

 Or you could try this delightfully Irish version of the Italian favourite – Chris from Cooking Around The World came up with this Galway Irish Coffee Tiramisu. Mamma mia!

Galway Irish Coffee Tiramisu

This elegant Affogato from the ever-creative Debby at Cooking Up A Storm In A Teacup will also revive you after a hard afternoon spent ogling pictures of cakes on your PC.


The chocolate-loving Lapin d’Or And More also opted for something stylish from the Continent – Bicerin, as inspired by David Lebovitz. I’ll take two, thanks.


I’m not sure how you pronounce these, but Under The Bluegum Tree has surely outdone herself with these heavenly Cardamom-scented Vetkoek Twists with a Chocolate and Coffee Dipping Sauce.

Cardamom-scented Vetkoek Twists with a Chocolate and Coffee Dipping SauceHo

How do you make a Swiss roll? Push him off an alp, of course! Or, you could make like Anuja at Simply Baking and turn a Swiss roll into a Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake.

Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

Some bird calling herself The Kitchenmaid went all white trash and made White Mocha Fudge with instant coffee and condensed milk (and had to be forcibly restrained from eating it all).

White Mocha Fudge

But she was pleased that she’d paced herself, because then she happened across dashing Dom at Belleau Kitchen and his Coffee and Chocolate Meringues. Yum!

Coffee & Chocolate Meringues

She also couldn’t say no to one of Alli from Pease Pudding’s Chocolate Espresso Melting Moment Cookies. I mean, look at them – you want one, don’t you?

Chocolate Espresso Melting Moment Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I need a run around the block and cup of peppermint tea. Come back tomorrow for another heapin’ helping of the June We Should Cocoa challenge.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Be my guest: Pease Pudding

One of my favourite parts in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary is when the hapless Bridget is trying to introduce people to each other at a book launch. I got the giggles thinking about it at the Wellington On A Plate launch on Monday night when I realised I was doing the same thing. “Helen, this is Iva, who does things with chocolate. Iva, this is Helen, who is in olive oil.”

In the spirit of introductions, I’d like you to meet Allison Pirrie-Mawer, of Pease Pudding. Alli is a trained chef, runs a cookschool, works in HR, surfs and takes beautiful photos. She’s also the driving force behind the New Zealand Food Bloggers Association. She won’t reveal where she gets the time to do all these things, but she has shared a few other secrets for The Kitchenmaid’s new ‘Be My Guest’ series, in which I plan to introduce you to all sorts of interesting people and their blogs.
Here goes…

Jammie Dodgers with cinnamon and ginger. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer

When did you start your blog?
My first blog post was in November 2008. It still makes me laugh when I look back on the photos, but I will never remove them because they show me how far I have come. Back in 2008 I fancied writing my own recipe book and thought blogging would be a good test. I’m not sure I would want to write a book now, though but never say never. I would be keen to get my photography up to publishing level and photograph for other people’s books though.

What’s your blog about?

Four years ago it was about practicing to write a book, now it’s probably more about being creative with new ideas and recipes and my newfound obsession with food photography. I’m constantly trying to improve on it. I am one of those people who constantly thinks about food, my posts are planned and styled days in advance in my head, not that they always come out how I want or expect!

Soy salmon with avocado, lime and wasabi salsa. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer

Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?

Yes, I went to culinary college in the UK straight from school while doing a chef’s apprenticeship at the same time. I worked in the industry for nine years in Liverpool, London and then Germany. I moved out of the industry for a while and now have come back to it. I opened my own cooking school on the wild west coast of New Zealand three years ago.

Who’s your food hero?

I still have that pull towards the homeland and Brit chefs, I love how Jamie made cooking accessible to all. Nigel Slater not only has great food but is also fun to read. Bill Cotter is one of my favourite vegetarian writers.
Here in New Zealand I love the passion and humour of Peta Mathias and I would also love to spend my winters in France cooking like she does.

Masterchef and TV food shows – hot or not?

This might be a bit of a shock but I don’t have TV so I don’t watch any regularly. When travelling to Sydney for work I do watch the AU Masterchef and other food channel programmes and enjoy them. I like that Masterchef has developed peoples’ interest in cooking,. It also means our blogs become more popular as a result of the every day person looking for new recipes.

Chocolate chip gingernut biscuits. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer

What are your three favourite posts?
I’m not sure I have favourite posts. I do like the photo on my gingernut biscuit post but that is probably because it is one of the latest and I am happy with the way the images I am taking are improving.

Tell us about another blog you love.

There are so many blogs I follow. Visually I love What Katie Ate, she’s my food photography inspiration. Then there is Food Blog and the Dog, about a vegetarian Brit living in Spain, Natalie always brings something new to the table, having also run her own restaurant in Spain and she also gives us an insight to her daily life there.

What’s for dinner tonight?

Ok, don’t go stealing this one – I haven’t posted it yet! Roast Chicken on a Pearl Barley and Zaatar Braise served with a Winter Coleslaw.

What else do you do?

I work as a human resource manager four days a week for an electronics company in Auckland and Sydney, hence all the travel. As well as that I run my cooking school, The Gourmet Gannet, in Muriwai, Auckland.

Who do you cook for at home?
I cook for hubby and the girls at work benefit from all my baking (there’s no way hubby and I need to eat it all by ourselves). My two cats think we cook for them too and always try and be part of evening meals – spoilt is the only word for them.

Pork cheek, fennel and cider couture pies. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer