Oct 21 2014

Poppyseed Goodness

In Emma’s household, cakes are like music to the ears. She bakes and decorates for her beautiful family at any given chance and special occasions. Here she shares a very special orange poppyseed syrup cake recipe that has been passed down by her mother

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Emma: When I was a kid mum used to have a collection of recipes that she stuck in a much loved, stained, foolscap-sized notebook. This recipe was a handwritten one that a friend had given her and was my Dad’s favourite cake.  It was a bit of a treat to make because at the time poppyseeds were quite expensive. Maybe they were an exotic ingredient in the 1980s, I’m not sure. What I love about this cake is how different it is from the run-of-the-mill orange and poppyseed butter cake. It is so dark, dense and syrupy. The inclusion of 200g of poppyseeds means you need both self-raising flour, and additional rising agents to get the texture right. Also who doesn’t love a bundt tin?

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Emma: I usually make this cake using my KitchenAid mixer (currently in for servicing) but if you ensure that the butter, eggs and sour cream are brought to room temperature before you start, you can easily make it by hand as I have done here.

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Left to right: Creative wire wall letters made by Emma and her adorable baby girl Willa

Left to right: Creative wire wall letters made by Emma and her adorable baby girl Willa

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  • Who: Emma Doukakis
  • Home is: Lilyfield
  • Family origin: I am Australian/Greek and my husband’s background is Indian. So our kids Oscar and Willa have an interesting range of traditions to draw upon. They both love keftethes (fried meatballs) and chicken biryani, so both sides of the family are happy
  • I can’t live without: The people I love.  In terms of cooking I can’t live without my Le Creuset French Oven. I use it almost every day
  • Occupation: I work in research and education in the disability sector
  • Dream Job: I think I would quite like to be Martha Stewart, minus the tax evasion and gaol time of course
  • Currently I am obsessed with: Japanese fabric – textiles generally, waffles and like all parents of small children – sleep
  • Childhood taste: Good: Baked custard, stewed apple, my Yaya’s “souppa” (avgolemono soup). Bad: Top Hat Tuna which was basically a kind of tuna and cheese soufflé, it makes me feel queasy just thinking about it. I am convinced it was a Gabriel Gaté recipe, Mum and Dad had all his books
  • I will always have in my pantry: Red lentils, basmati, spaghetti
  • I learnt to cook from: My mum, good cookbooks and trial & error
  • Currently I’m listening to: Elvis Perkins, Ryan Adams, the Tallest Man on Earth, Ingrid Michaelson. And Bob Dylan, always and forever
  • One day I must visit: All 50 states of the USA
  • Go to meal: Tie between cacio e pepe and dhal, Sri Lankan style with loads of curry leaves, mustard seeds, garlic and cumin spice paste fried in ghee and added at the end
  • I am really good at: Making old school kids’ birthday cakes, Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book style. Lots of brightly coloured buttercream and lollies stuck on
  • The unforgettable meal: A few years ago we spent three weeks in northern California and we did a lot of eating & wine drinking. Chez Panisse in Berkeley was the stand out experience, both because the food and wine were beautiful, and because Alice Waters has been so influential when it comes to eating organic locally grown (and therefore seasonal) food.  It was September when we visited, so the set four course menu included veal carpaccio with salsa, hand cut pasta with tomato confit and crème fraîche, poached halibut with summer vegetables, and blackberry, raspberry and lemon verbena sherbet to finish. The kitchen was like an enormous (and very well appointed) farmhouse kitchen, nothing like the other commercial kitchens I have seen, and our waiter took us for a little stroll through to see what the cooks were up to. I would love to go back again. The whole place just exuded warmth
  • My piece of Sydney: Rozelle, home of Herbie’s Spices, Labancz Boulangerie (best baguettes in the inner west), Artereal Gallery, Rozelle Markets, Orange Grove Markets and the grounds of Callan Park
  • Guilty pleasure: Peanut Butter Snickers. They are amazing!
  • Who does the dishes: We all have a go. The stacking of the dishwasher is the contentious issue in our house. Rahul favours accuracy, precision and efficiency, whereas I am more creative

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Orange Poppyseed Syrup Cake

Ingredients - Serves 12

  • Cake
  • 1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, soften to room temperature
  • 1 cup (250g) sour cream, soften to room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 200g poppyseeds
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • zest of 1 orange
  • Syrup
  • 2 oranges, fine curls zest and juice
  • 1 lemon, fine curls zest and juice
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  1. Cake. Preheat the oven to 170˚c.
  2. Locate a bundt tin and grease it. I highly recommend using Wilton’s Bake Easy, particularly if you have a fancy bundt tin with detailed patterns.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the self-raising flour, bicarb soda and baking powder.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
  5. Add egg yolks, one by one, beating between each addition.
  6. Beat in the sour cream.
  7. Stir in the flour mixture, poppyseeds and orange zest.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  9. Stir a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture, and then fold through the remaining whites.
  10. Pour the mixture into a bundt tin and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, until the cake is golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
  11. Let the cake rest in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack.
  12. Once the cake is cool, add syrup and garnish with fine curls of orange and lemon zest.
  13. Syrup. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over moderate heat.
  14. Remove from heat and immediately strain the syrup into a jug and slowly pour it over the cooled cake. If you don’t mind pieces of cooked zest you can skip the straining and just spoon it directly from the saucepan.
Sep 26 2014

Spring Feast

What better way to celebrate the goodness of Sydney’s fresh spring produce than with these beautiful recipes from Tim Brennan of Gallivant

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To welcome and celebrate Sydney’s spring produce, WDTD collaborated with Rebecca Hunt of Event Birdie and Tim Brennan of Gallivant Catering and documented this amazing spring feast bursting with colours and flavours that you can impress your family and friends with.

Tim Brennan – a lover of food and entertaining, started his catering business 3 years ago and it has been keeping him very busy ever since. It was inspiring to watch Tim’s speed and skills in his home kitchen at Bondi Beach. His love for food is contagious and he is really gifted in bringing together different ingredients while letting the individual flavours shine!

You can also read more about Tim’s extended interview with Event Birdie here.


Golden roasted potatoes with Maldon sea salt

Golden roasted potatoes with Maldon sea salt

This Salmon Tarator dish is great as part of a shared style menu in the centre of the table or you can tweak it to be a beautiful looking entree or main course

This Salmon Tarator dish is great as part of a shared style menu in the centre of the table or you can tweak it to be a beautiful looking entree or main course


  • Who: Timothy Brennan
  • Home is: Bondi Beach
  • Family origin: Australian heritage grew up in Cottage Point on Sydney’s Northern Beaches
  • I can’t live without: The ocean
  • Occupation: Owner of Gallivant Catering
  • Dream Job: What I do now
  • Currently I am obsessed with: Spaghetti vongole
  • Childhood taste: Mum’s roast chicken with crispy potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli and gravy
  • I will always have in my pantry: Maldon sea salt & extra virgin olive oil
  • I learnt to cook from: My Mum and older sister
  • Currently I’m listening to: Giacomo Puccini
  • One day I must visit: Yucatán, Mexico
  • Go to meal: Pasta with a simple tomato and basil sauce
  • I am really good at: Pasta
  • The unforgettable meal: Buffalo mozzarella & prosciutto with rustic bread overlooking the ocean on the Amalfi Coast in Italy
  • My piece of Sydney: Northern Beaches upwards of Avalon Beach
  • Guilty pleasure: Chocolate
  • Who does the dishes: My fiancé


A view dash of pesto dressing brightens up a simple roasted vegetables dish

A view dashes of pesto dressing brighten up a simple roasted vegetables dish

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Mojito Prawns

Ingredients - Serves 4-6

  • 10 Fresh large Australian prawns
  • 1 tbs salt flakes
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs of chopped mint
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Olive Oil
  1. Lay prawns flat on chopping board and with a sharp knife cut them directly down the middle from the end of the tail to the top of the head.
  2. Mix lime zest, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the prawns then cook on BBQ for 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through, being careful to not over cook.
  4. Plate prawns on serving platter with flesh facing up. Sprinkle with a little salt and sugar mixture, mint leaves and a squeeze of limes juice.
  5. Eat straight away.

Salmon Tarator

Ingredients - Serves 4

  • 4 x 200g of salmon, skinned and de-boned
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Dressing
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 50ml tahini
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salad
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil 50 pine nuts
  • 50g pistachio
  • Juice 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1-2 long chillies (as you like it)
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves
  • 1 bunch mint leaves
  • 10g sumac
  • Garnish
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Green and purple micro herb
  1. Dressing. To make the dressing, place the garlic and salt in a mortar and crush well. Stir the garlic, yoghurt and tahini together until it becomes a thick paste. Mix slightly with lemon juice (consistency of pure cream). Taste for salt and refrigerate.
  2. Salmon. Preheat the oven to 50˚c. Place the salmon fillets on a large sheet of baking paper. Season all over with salt and pepper and liberally drizzle olive oil. Cook until salmon is cooked through and flakes or internal temperature reaches 48˚c. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.
  3. Salad. Turn the oven up to 200˚c and roast nuts until coloured. Remove from the oven. Chop finely and set aside.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the remaining oil with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the onion and chilli and whisk lightly. Add the chopped walnuts, herbs and sumac.
  5. Plating. Spread or pipe yoghurt dressing over the top of the salmon. Spoon the salad over the salmon, covering it as neatly as possible. Sprinkle with micro herbs and pomegranate.

Tomato Salad

Ingredients - Serves 4-6

  • 1 kg mixed ripe tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 fresh red chili, seeded & chopped
  • 6-7 small buffalo mozzarella
  • Dressing
  • 1 part sherry vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Slice tomatoes and put into a colander, season with a good amount of sea salt and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Dress the tomatoes with the oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic and chilli.
  3. Place tomatoes randomly in centre, place buffalo mozzarella in amongst tomatoes and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil.
Aug 20 2014

Quick and Tasty Sunday Lunch

This dish Ben shared with WDTD is a great Sunday lunch dish when you are craving something a little indulgent but don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen

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Ben: I live in a converted Mosman shoe factory with my partner Diana. We love living by the beach but also spend a fair bit of time working and hanging out with friends in the city so its a great mix of intensity and relaxation. I run my own Architecture practice and Diana has a demanding job so time spent at home is precious for us. I like to cook when I have some down time. I find the process relaxing and I like to fill peoples bellies. It’s the best way to engage friends and family around the dinner table.

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  • Who: Ben Mitchell
  • Home is: Mosman
  • Family origin: The Blue Mountains
  • I can’t live without: Happiness
  • Occupation: Architect, owner of THOSE Architects
  • Dream Job: Architect
  • Currently I am obsessed with: Architecture
  • Childhood taste: Ma’s jam and cheese sandwiches
  • I will always have in my pantry: Quality sea salt
  • I learnt to cook from: My Mum
  • Currently I’m listening to: My kids chattering away on facetime
  • One day I must visit: The Galapagos Islands
  • Go to meal: Atlantic salmon with asian marinade and fresh greens
  • I am really good at: Chasing dreams
  • The unforgettable meal: Mum’s roasts
  • My piece of Sydney: Observatory Hill
  • Guilty pleasure: Chocolate
  • Who does the dishes: Whoever doesn’t do the cooking

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Pan fried gnocchi with mushroom and sage butter

Ingredients - Serves 4

  • 500g Fresh potato gnocchi
150g Butter
250g Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves, halved
1/3 Cup fresh sage leaves
Shaved parmesan
  1. Cook the gnocchi in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until tender then drain it.
  2. Heat one-third of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat until foaming. Add the mushrooms and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft.
  3. Transfer to a separate bowl. Remove the garlic and discard. Heat the remaining butter in pan over medium heat until foaming. Add the gnocchi and sage and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes or until the gnocchi and butter are golden and the sage is crisp.
  4. Transfer the mushrooms to the gnocchi mixture. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Divide the gnocchi mixture among serving bowls. Top with shaved parmesan.

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