Thursday, May 31, 2012

Custard Apple Shake

Growing up, the appearance of custard apples scared me. Dad loves them and would often bring them home for me as a kid. The name intrigued me. The term custard was very appealing to me as a child but the prehistoric looking jade outer and the big black seeds held within really freaked me out. I don't know why, it just did. 

They aren't the most attractive looking fruit, and unless someone points one out to you, you are most likely to pass them by at the fruit shop.

Grown in sub tropical climates, there are two types of custard apples - both of which are available to here in Australia. The Pink Mammoth is as it's name suggests - Massive! it has a softer flesh and can weigh up to 3kg. The African Pride are a medium sized variety and are on average between 500-800g each, presenting a firmer type of flesh. Both varieties are juicy, sweet and full of flavour. As a general rule, custard apples ripen very quickly so it's best to purchase them when they are firm and eat when soft to the touch - much like an avocado.

As an adult, I have become quite accustomed to these once 'scary' looking fruit. They have a creamy, velvety texture which makes them the perfect for use in dessert dishes. They have a consistency that is similar to a pear with a creamy-like custard taste.

These amazing fruit are low GI and packed with Vitamin C, protein, minerals and fibre. They are also low in fat too :)

As a general rule, the custard apple pairs really well with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, orange and honey flavours. For today's recipe I wanted to show you the most simple way to enjoy this delicious fruit - A luscious Custard Apple Shake.

Custard Apple Shake
An original recipe by The Food Mentalist
Serves 2

* To open the custard apple place your thumbs in the the indent where the stem joins the fruit and gently pull the fruit apart in quarters or segments, discarding the smooth black seeds.


1 cup of custard apple flesh (Approximately 1-2 custard apples depending on size)*
2 scoops of good vanilla ice cream ( we used Connoisseur Classic Vanilla)
1 tsp honey
2 cups low fat milk

Tease out flesh from the custard apple discarding skin and black seeds.
Place flesh into blender along with ice cream, milk and honey and whizz until frothy.
Pour into two tall glasses and sprinkle generously with nutmeg,

This shake is SO good!

Enjoy x

For additional Information on Custard Apples please visit

The Food Mentalist enjoyed this season's Custard Apples courtesy of Impact Communications

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cider Sunday - The Hills Cider Company - Apple

Happy Cider Sunday!

This week's cider is the brother of The Hills Cider Company Pear Cider which I reviewed in April. This one is also made from 100% fruit, from apples which have been sourced from the Adelaide Hills.

A well balanced sweetness is met with slightly tart acidic notes which I really like. It is lightly carbonated which I prefer as doesn't dominate the cider like it can in other ciders. I can taste hints of lime and it has a nice dry finish.

This one will pair very well with a marinated pork roast, lots of salty crunchy crackling and crisp roasted root vegetables and potatoes.Yum!

It would also go well in baked goods like my pear cider muffins. Find the recipe here

At 5%, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased the Hills Cider Company Apple Cider from The Sackville Hotel Bottle Shop in Rozelle. You can also purchase it online at The Oak Barrel

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Feast Fit For A King - Dining @ Essen

Have you ever watched Game of Thrones?

Pete and I are absolutely addicted to it. Created for HBO, the American TV series is based on medieval fantasy, where noble families struggle to control The Iron Throne. Tonight we are dining at Essen in Broadway where the only struggle you will encounter here is being able to finish your meal due to the generous sized portions on offer.

Think big hearty meals, in keeping with the tradition of European cuisine - meat dishes dominate, along with schnapps, beer and more meat!

St Ambroise - Pale Ale - Apricot $7.00
I start the evening with a St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale - it's fruity and has a unique flavour. I'm usually not a huge fan of beer but this one is nice and it's very refreshing.

Deep Fried Camembert $10.00
The waitress asks us if we would like an appetiser and judging by the size of the meals coming out around us, I ask if she can suggest something small and light that Pete and I can share. Deep Fried Camembert fits this bill perfectly. It is hot, oozy and incredibly comforting. It is served with a dollop of cranberry compote which compliments the richness of the cheese and provides a lovely sweetness.

Reuben Sandwich $ 22.50
Enter Pete's Reuben Sandwich - it is huge and skewered with a knife! It looks as if it has come straight off the set of Game of Thrones and we are impressed. German rye bread generously filled with marinated beef brisket, melted Gruyere cheese, Hungarian sauerkraut and a creamy Russian dressing. It is served with house made pickles and thick cut chips. Along with the Reuben, Pete is presented with two types of Horse Radish Relish for that extra kick as desired. The Reuben tastes amazing. Available for lunch on Thursday's & Friday's it also comes with a German beer all for only $22.50. 

The Ginormous Reuben - Worthy of 2 photos!
Pork Knuckle $29.50
My main is presented and once again I can't help but be reminded of our favourite TV show. Marinated in honey, thyme and rosemary brine, the slow roasted crispy pork knuckle is huge. It's piping hot and the meat just falls away from the bone. It is served with a side of bread dumpling and gravy which are both great. This dish is normally served with a side of sauerkraut however just prior to ordering our waitress overhears me telling Pete that I really want to try the pork knuckle but would rather potato roesti instead of the sauerkraut, and offers to substitute it for the roesti. 

My uncle and I share a great love for potato roesti, often comparing new roesti tastings when we catch up. Upon trying this one I know he too would enjoy this one. This shredded potato dish has just the right amount of crunch on top and underneath - hot buttery potato goodness. The perfect accompaniment for this cool weather we are experiencing here in Sydney at the moment.

Although envious of the desserts being delivered to tables nearby, Pete and I are full and decide we cannot possibly fit in another bite. Instead our waitress suggests a little nip of Barenjager Honey Liqueur. This delectable liqueur is syrupy and sweet with a hint of spice. Distilled by Germany's oldest family owned companies - Schwarze & Schlichte who have over 340 years of experience. Their experience shines through, this liqueur is absolutely delicious and the perfect finish to our meal.

Completely satisfied, we step out into the crisp night. One guess which TV show we watched when we got home...

Essen Restaurant is located at 133-135 Broadway,Ultimo and is within walking distance of Broadway shopping centre where you can secure 3 hours free parking. Service is friendly & efficient, food is hearty & delicious and portions are generous. Make sure you visit Essen this winter to get your meat fix, then head home and settle in for a few episodes of Game of Thrones.

The Food Mentalist & Pete dined as guests of Essen & Wasamedia

Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cider Sunday - Small Acres Cyder - Appscato

This week's Cider is one of my favourites. It's another wonderful product from the team at Small Acres Cyder in Orange, NSW.

Appscato is, as the name suggests - an appley Moscato style drop.

It has intense apple flavours and gorgeous apple blossom aromas. It is naturally carbonated which gives it a very fine, almost unnoticeable frizzante. This one is fairly sweet and I love it because the sweetness comes from the dominant apple flavours, there is also a hint of tartness about it - similar to the bite associated with the pink lady apple variety. It has a very clean finish and is extremely easy to drink.

If you love your Moscato style wines like I do then you will absolutely love this product! It's unique and it tastes fantastic.

The Streets of Orange, NSW in Autumn
It is perfect served as an alternative to the traditional champagne breakfast, with brunch or with an indulgent dessert or cheese platter. It would also go very well with a fresh green salad topped with crumbled goats cheese or blue and candied walnuts - Yum!

On the side of the bottle reads an interesting tale that I wanted to share regarding Pomona:

Pomona was the Apple Mother, Goddess of fruit trees and Protectress of orchards. Roman banquets used to end with apples being eaten, as an invocation of her goodwill. Much ancient apple lore surrounds Pomona, but one that is still practiced today in fun, is 'apple peeling':

A woman would peel an apple, all the while being very careful to remove the skin in one long strip. She would then toss it over her left shoulder and the peel would land on the floor displaying the shape of the initial of the man she was destined to marry.

Coppin - Cider Dog @ Small Acres Cyder

Pippin - Cider Dog @ Small Acres Cyder

At 7% alcohol, a 750ml bottle will provide you with 4.2 standard drinks.

Appscato is available for $17.95 online at the Oak Barrel or contact Nick Butler @ Cogito Wines or on 0458 672 643 for local stockists.

Hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wild Sugar Desserts

" Wild Sugar Desserts is a celebration of the emotional connection so many of us have with sweets, which is influenced by circumstances, emotions, family, history and the company you share" ( Wild Sugar Desserts)

Wild Sugar Desserts by Skye Craig ( ex Masterchef ) & Lyndel Miller is the newest must-have dessert cookbook her
e in Australia. Filled with gorgeous recipes and photos, it will delight and inspire dessert enthusiasts. It has a real vintage feel which I absolutely love and is jam packed full of beautiful recipes and beautiful people. Visually enticing, this cookbook clearly comes from a place of love - it's a true delight.

Wild Sugar Desserts is divided into 11 gorgeous chapters which range from Building Blocks, Traditional with a Twist, Kids' Party, Tough Times Can Be Sweet to Health Nut and Bling. Recipes are cleverly coded at the top of each page with a blue lace doily symbol for Skye's recipes and a pink one for Lyndel's. Love it!

Being a food blogger, I was absolutely mesmerised by the stunning photography and props used in each of the photographs throughout the book. I discussed these with Lyndel during our recent interview (see below). Lyndel has a background in naturopathy and is now living her dream working as a food, prop and interior stylist.

My favourites in this book are many and include: Strawberry Yoghurt Cheesecake, Lime Dumplings w/ Mango, Mint Chocolate Tart, Hazelnut Praline Butter, Mulled Wine, Syke's Chocolate Avocado Tarts, Coconut Sago w/Chilli Mango Sorbet, and Apricot Baklava!! There are also handy tips and recipes to make, these include tuiles, sugared rose petals, spun sugar (glass ball) as well as many different frostings and flavoured creams. How does Maple Honey Frosting or Orange Thyme Cream sound? Yes please!

My Interview with Lyndel Miller - 
Co-Author of Wild Sugar Desserts

The gorgeous Lyndel Miller!

TFM: Hi Lyndel, tell us how you first met Skye and what led you collaborate on this book? 

Lyndel: Skye and I first met on my property in Currumbin Valley. We were both Currumbin girls. We had engaged Skye as our graphic designer for an advertising job for our development company at the time. We hit it off ! I set up a white country style lounge in the garden and we enjoyed morning tea in nature.When Skye returned home after MasterChef she contacted me to work on styling her gourmet ice cream range. It was a great success, we loved working together and one thing led to another and Skye asked me to co-author the book with her. It was such a gift !! We signed on the dotted line and spend a good 9 months on the book. It is so wonderful to see in finally in print .
TFM: Which is your favourite chapter in Wild Sugar Desserts and why?

Lyndel: Gosh , I love all the chapters but to pick one, I would have to say" From the Heart' as I truly resonate with this philosophy every day. 'From the Heart' is all about making desserts for others. They are the type of dessert you offer over garden fences, to a new neighbour ( I like to think people still do this ) for someone in need of cheering up..and so it goes. Desserts are my gift of choice. 

TFM: As a Mother of two, tell us which desserts your kids often request?

Lyndel: My Kiddlywinks love my Strawberry Yoghurt Cheesecake. It is an adaption of my mothers recipe from her health cafe that started back in the 70's. It is a winner and on the healthy side.That's in the book! I never tire of it because it is so versatile, like most of the recipes. We want others to feel inspired to create their own magic as well.

TFM: Best styling tip?

Lyndel: Attention to detail !!

TFM: What is your favourite kitchen gadget or item to work with?Lyndel: I like to keep it very simple. In fact , I am not a gadget gal. I use an old Kenwood mixer (though I would love the new Kitchenmaid, which mine is modelled on ) .. I bought it at a market. It is precious but my favourite and most used item is my handheld blender.. It doesn't have the charisma but it is fabulous ! :) 

TFM: If you had to pick your absolute favourite dessert from this book, which would you choose and why?

Lyndel: I love my trifle on the front cover. It is a Blackberry, Elderflower and Lemon Mousse Trifle.I grew up in a quintessential 70's household on Sydney's northern beaches and a trifle always graced our family table on special occasions. My mum cried when she saw the book. It conquers up such wonderful memories. 

TFM: For all the aspiring food stylists and bloggers out there - Please tell us where you sourced some of the gorgeous props we see in Wild Sugar Desserts?

Lyndel:Well, I would have had several hundred props on hand. The majority of the props are mine, I also bought a lot of props with specific desserts in mind ( as you do ) and I also hired some props. I found the most amazing prop houses also.. Fancy Tea, Rebecca has the most outstanding quality collection I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. Little Gray Station, Judy is a darling and has some wonderful boxes and surfaces for me to choose from. Grit and Glamour and also Archer and Archer are also fabulous sources.You can find these peeps on my Facebook page; I love to support fellow creatives in my industry.

TFM: What are your 3 favourite ingredients to work with?

Lyndel:In regards to Desserts : Fresh produce is paramount. Dairy and I love nutmeg!!

TFM: What inspires you?

Lyndel: As a cook, with food in particular: People .. I love hearing their food stories, what they love.As a photo stylist- the everyday! I see beauty in all things.i am inspired by beauty. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Lyndel: I am writing a new cookbook also, so stay tuned. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook or Twitter, whether you are a foodie, budding stylist or photographer. I love to connect with others and share :)


To help celebrate Autumn, Lyndel has kindly shared this recipe from her book - It's divine!

Baked Hazelnut Custard with Lime Sugar
From Wild Sugar Desserts
Serves 8

Photo: Courtesy of Lyndel Miller

I love this recipe. It is silky smooth, indulgent, full of flavor  and so, so easy. You can get creative here too and adjust this recipe to suit your palette. Why not substitute frangelico, for sambucca ,  limoncello or orange liqueur, substitute lime sugar for other citrus or spice….. let  your  imagination run wild, dare to experiment.

500g  ( 2 cups / 15 oz ) sour cream
395g can of  condensed  milk
80ml  ( 1/3 cup / 2 ½ fl oz ) of frangelico or your choice of liqueur
Lime sugar:
 50g ( 1 ¾ oz ) of  caster sugar
Zest of 1 lime 

Preheat oven 180C ( 350F/ Gas Mark 4 )

Whisk all ingredients well and place in a jug to suit. Pour evenly into 8 x 125ml ( 4 oz ) ramekins ( or use smaller vessels to increase your serving number). Then place the ramekins in a baking dish with water ¾ way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool, to room temperature or you can also  refrigerate until ready to serve. Both are enjoyable, and why sweat the small stuff, if your time management  is a little dodgy in the kitchen, go for the later..I wouldn’t mind..
Prepare lime sugar for topping. 

Lime sugar:
Remove the zest of the lime , in thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Make sure to remove any of the bitter white pith.
Chop the zest and then with sugar , grind in a mortar and pestle or food processor until the mixture turns a lime green , leaving a few bits of zest
Sprinkle over each custard and serve.

If you have no lime, opt for a few crushed hazelnuts…yummo!


Wild Sugar Desserts

You can purchase Wild Sugar Desserts through Borders here or via Amazon here .

Enjoy x

The Food Mentalist reviewed Wild Sugar Desserts courtesy of Lyndel Miller.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cider Sunday - Saxton Pear Cider

Happy Cider Sunday & Happy Mother's Day!

This week's cider is handcrafted in Nelson in New Zealand. The fraternal twin to the apple variety in the Saxton range, this Perry is surprisingly earthy. First thing you notice is it's heavenly golden hue and upon opening - fresh woody pear aromas are present.

This one is not overly sweet which is nice, it's full flavoured with woody earthy flavours present. It also has a rather astringent, slightly drying finish on the palate. Whilst the bottle suggests it is lightly carbonated, I would prefer even less - this one is too fizzy for my liking. For that reason, it would be a fantastic cider to cook with - particularly something like my Pear Cider Muffins as the carbonation would help to make the muffins or a cake fluffy and moist.

Saxton Pear Cider does not contain any additives, preservatives or added sugar which is always a great sign when it comes to cider.

As suggested on the bottle, this one is nice with a dash of rum which adds a little extra 'zing' and a different element to the cider.

From a design perspective, I really love the label design on this bottle - some of you may remember my review of Saxton Apple Cider where I first discussed my design envy.

At 5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

Dan Murphy's & Woolworths Liquor Outlets
$3.49 per 330ml bottle
$11.99 per pack of 4
$52.99 per carton of 24

What are you doing for Mother's Day today? I hope you are enjoying it with your favourite cider :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A French Feast w/ Essential Cuisine

It wasn't until Pete and I actually visited France during our honeymoon that we both truly fell in love with French cuisine. Spoilt for choice we wined and dined our way around France, amazed by the quality and value of many a fixed price menu. Whilst visiting Lyon - we secured a booking at Paul Bocuse's brasserie Le Sud and set out to find it. After getting distracted by a local market we ended up lost in the cobbled backstreets of Lyon surrounded by some of the city's impressive painted walls. 

A painted wall - Lyon, France
After asking for directions (to no avail), we became quite frustrated and had all but given up when we stumbled upon the brasserie. Absolutely starving and late for our reservation, the staff informed us they could not find our booking. We insisted we had made one through our hosts at our accommodation and whilst they buzzed around trying to find our reservation and turning others away because they were fully booked, we stood waiting for a table to become available. It wasn't until we were seated that we realised we were actually sitting in Le Nord - another of Paul Bocuse's brasseries. Whoops! 

French Onion Soup @ Le Nord - Lyon
Decorated with wooden benches and panel walls, Le Nord represents a classic French brasserie. The food was also very traditional and I chose the French Onion Soup and the Beef Bourguignon - two dishes I had been eager to try during our trip. Both were divine and everything I had hoped for and of course when I spotted the oozy chocolate fondant on the menu I just had to finish with that too. We actually rolled out of there after lunch and hired bikes later in the afternoon, touring around Lyon. It was wonderful!

Fontaine Bartholdi, Lyon- France
I was recently introduced to a new range of premium cooking stocks and jus and decided that they would make the perfect addition to a French themed meal that Pete and I had been planning for some time.

Essential Cuisine have just launched in Australia and consists of 4 stocks ( chicken, lamb, beef and vegetable) and 2 jus ( lamb & beef). They are made the traditional way and are packed full of quality ingredients. I love the fact that they are packaged in convenient pouches and I don't have to spend hours making a stock or jus from scratch - they really do taste great and added a delicious flavour to the dishes we prepared.

Not having the luxury of a bike to ride around on after a big meal, we decided to make a 2 course feast - entree & main. French Onion Soup for Entree & Grilled Loin of Lamb w/ Ratatouille & Tapenade for our Main Course.

As we ate our home made French Onion soup we were instantly transported back to our adventure that day in Lyon. The lamb dish was Pete's choice and we have already cooked it a second time.

The perfect meal? Oui!

French Onion Soup
Serves 2
An Original Recipe by The Food Mentalist

1 1/2 brown onions
250ml Essential Cuisine Classic Beef Stock
2 tbs salted butter
4 springs thyme
1 large bay leaf
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
750ml boiling water
8  x rounds of baguette sliced 1 inch thick  
1 tbs butter ( extra)
1 200g block of Gruyere cheese ( grated)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Slice onion into thin rings and fry with butter over medium heat until onion begins to soften. Reduce heat to low and add bay leaf, thyme,salt and brown sugar and continue to cook slowly. Cook for approximately 40 minutes over a very low heat until onion mixture has caramelised and has cooked completely.

Deglaze the onions with the white wine and stir in the beef stock and 750ml of boiling water. Allow to cook for another 35 minutes.

Whilst the soup is cooking add the extra butter to a fry pan and fry the pieces of baguette until golden brown on each side. Remove and set aside.

Once the soup is ready, season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer into 2 large oven proof bowls. Top each bowl of soup with 4 rounds of baguette and half of the grated Gruyere. Place the bowls under the grill until the cheese melts and starts to bubble up. 


Grilled Loin of Lamb w/ Ratatouille & Tapenade
From the Provence Region of France
Adapted from Gabriel Gate's - Taste Le Tour
Serves 2

2 loins of lamb - each about 12cm long
1 tbs olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs rosemary leaves, finely chopped,
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
250ml Essential Cuisine Lamb Jus

2 tbs olive oil
1/2 brown onion, finely diced
1 sprigs thyme, chopped
1/2 clove garlic
1 small red capsicum
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
2 tomatoes diced, 

100g pitted black olives
3 anchovies
1 tbs capers
2 tbs olive oil

Season the lamb loins with olive oil, garlic, pepper and rosemary and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minute. 

To make the Ratatouille - heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and fry for a few minutes. Next, stir in the garlic, capsicum and stir for a few minutes. Then add the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes and bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for approximately 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through. Refrigerate until required.

To make the tapenade - blend all the ingredients to a paste and store in the refrigerator until 15 minutes before serving.

Grill the lamb for 3-4 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and cover the meat and leave it for at least 5 minutes to rest before slicing.

Serve the lamb loins with hot ratatouille. Season with salt and top each loin with a tablespoon of tapenade and sprinkle with parsley. Drizzle with warmed Essential Cuisine Lamb Jus.


Essential Cuisine 
RRP $4.49 ( 250ml Stock) $7.29 (250ml Jus)
For your local Essential Cuisine stockist click here

Even the cats in France look chic!
Tell me, have you ever been lost looking for a restaurant?

The Food Mentalist sampled Essential Cuisine Stocks & Jus compliments of Essential Cuisine.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cider Sunday - The Goose Apple Cider

This week's Cider Sunday is another from Western New South Wales. The Goose by Gilbert is relatively new to the Australian Cider market - with it's bottle labelled 2011. 

I as not surprised to find out after I tasted this one that it was made by winemakers. It has very little sweetness and a dry astringent finish not dissimilar to a good dry white.

Made from a selection of handpicked cider apples like the Foxwhelp and Kingston Black with some Granny Smith and Pink Lady varieties also thrown in for good measure - this one is unique and is line with more traditional cider flavours. It is fresh and crisp and has a medium level of fine carbonation.

Despite the front of it's label suggesting it is made in Orange, it is produced and bottled in Mudgee not far from Orange. Simon Gilbert is the man behind this one and he has a well respected career in wine making, brokering and consulting and has created 'gilbert' as his own personal label.

At 4.5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.2 standard drinks.

Enjoy this one with white meat dishes and as a substitute for your favourite white wine - you will be impressed.

You can purchase this one online direct through the Gilbert Family Wines website. I purchased it through The Oak Barrel in Sydney.

We are heading out to the Addison Road Farmers Markets, what are you up to today?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Sweet Life - With Masterchef Kate Bracks

2011 Masterchef winner Kate Bracks has one golden rule - Always lick the bowl! Kate celebrates this fun idea in her debut cookbook titled The Sweet Life. This practical collection of basics and desserts will make a wonderful addition to any household, inspiring novices and challenging seasoned bakers with delectable desserts. Kate's style is generous and homely with recipes including Old Fashioned Apple Pie and her own Nanna's Christmas Pudding.

The structure of the book is well designed to guide readers from basics like how to master meringue, make pastry and whip up sauces, to recipes that go beyond the basics for the more adventurous home cook. The last chapter of the book A Sweet Ending incorporates the techniques from previous chapters and is for those who want to impress. Being a chocolate fiend - My favourite is the Chocolate Terrine with Spiced Praline, Mandarin Oil & Creme Fraiche - Wow! Other favourites include Baked Honey & Rosemary Apples, Homemade 'Ice Magic', Toffee Apple Sorbet, Brown Butter Cheesecake, Plum & Red Wine Mousse and Salted Caramel, Almond & Chocolate Slice. 
I could go on and on!

Recipes are cleverly coded to help us determine the complexity of each recipe. Recipes range from one spoon which indicates the recipe is simple and fairly quick to master to four spoons for the devoted home cook who wants a bit more of a challenge.

Mindful of people with food allergies and intolerances, Kate has also included a special quick reference section that lists her recipes that are gluten, dairy or egg free.

I recently caught up with Kate to discuss The Sweet Life...

TFM - Hi Kate, Congratulations on such a gorgeous cookbook!

Kate : Thank you!

TFM - How did you decide on which recipes to include in The Sweet Life?

Kate - I began with a long brainstormed list of recipe ideas and a basic structure of the chapters. Then I slotted the recipes into the chapters, removing any that doubled up too much on flavour and adding in recipe ideas to complement those already there. Then I started cooking!!

TFM - What advice can you give to other Mums out there who are keen to pursue a similar path to you?

Kate - If you have the support network around you ... just do it! It's scary going outside your comfort zone but you learn so much from it. BUT you need to have the support so that your children (and you) can cope!!!

TFM - What inspires you?

Fresh seasonal produce I see ... and tasty meals I eat at great restaurants!

TFM -Chocolate or Fruit?

Definitely chocolate!

TFM - Can we expect to see you as a guest judge or mentor on the new series of Masterchef?

Kate - Only time will tell!

TFM - If you had to choose your one favourite recipe from The Sweet Life - which one would you choose and why?

Kate - The Chocolate Terrine with Spiced Praline, Mandarin Oil and Creme Fraiche. It's a little bit more effort than most of the others but in my opinion it's worth it for a special ending to a meal!! I love the unusual combination of spice, chocolate and mandarin.

TFM - What are your 3 favourite ingredients to work with?

Kate - Sugar (it's so versatile), Chocolate (because it tastes sooooo good!) and salt flakes (because I love the texture and flavour they add!

TFM - What changes would you like to see in the Australian Food Industry?

Kate - A continued growth in the use of local, seasonal and organic produce AND a greater effort in teaching kids about where their food comes from and how to cook it (setting them up for a wonderfully healthy life)

TFM - Tell us the one kitchen gadget we should all own?

Kate - Insulting to call it a 'gadget' because it's so much more than that .... my KitchenAid mixer!

TFM - What's next for you?

Kate - While I wait for the B&B (yes still happening but these things take time ... and finances!) I'm going to be working towards helping kids to learn more about food and cooking. I'll be doing this through my website ( where I've set up a Kitchen Clubhouse for 8-14 year olds) as well as exploring the options through schools and media. I'm also keen to keep cooking in my local community and to keep learning as a cook so will be working 1 or 2 shifts a week with Regional Chef of the Year, Shaun Arantz, who is based in Orange. Yay - very excited about that too!

Thanks Kate.

Kate Bracks on stage during Orange FOOD Week in April (2012)

The Sweet Life
Released April 2012
RRP $49.95
Published by Ebury
ISBN 9781864711363

Kate Bracks Website: http://www.

The Food Mentalist reviewed The Sweet Life courtesy of Random House Australia