Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Apple crumble April 25, 2009

Filed under: Dessert — smop @ 10:20 am

I have this perhaps slightly peculiar habit of having to use things up after a certain period of time — it annoys me a bit having random bits of everything sitting in the fridge.  It may not be a surprise then that I love having a fully stocked pantry.  Anyway, I had 1 apple and a knob of butter to use up, and coincidentally, I had been brewing an apple crumble craving all day.  Checking I had oats and sugar, I researched recipes online.  This was inspired by a number of different recipes seeing as I only had 1 apple and many used 4-5.  I have posted the recipe for 4 serves below, as I would dare to say that one would certainly not be enough!



Apple crumble



  • 4-5 apples, peeled and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • (optional) pecans / walnuts / sultanas – personal preference


  • 90g butter, cold and cut into 1.5 cm cubes
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup self raising flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.  Divide into ramekins leaving about 2cm at the top.
  3. In another bowl, rub the butter, brown sugar, self raising flour and oats together.  Divide evenly between ramekins.
  4. Pop ramekins onto a baking tray and place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden.  After taking them out, let them stand for about 5 minutes before serving.  Delicious served with ice-cream or custard.

Unfortunately I didn’t have icecream to serve it with, but on its own, it was equally divine.



Yellow split pea ‘pudding’ (馬豆糕) April 19, 2009

Filed under: Chinese,Dessert — smop @ 8:47 am

Something inspired me while I was in HK to venture into making Chinese desserts.  Perhaps it was knowing that I wouldn’t have an oven for a good chunk of the year in the new place, or that it was simply because the recipes seemed simple, homely and tasty.  One of the things that used to make me less inclined to make tasty Asian things was partly because of the effort needed to actually get the things that were specified in the recipe as it would take a couple of visits to different Asian grocers to find the thing I want, and even if they did, the quality would be questionnable (I once saw packets of red beans with mould on them and they were still on the shelves!).

Anyway, with this new found inspiration, and a trusty Asian grocer, I gave another hand at making a popular Hong Kong dessert.  I came across this wandering the streets in HK and in their display cabinet, there were a variety of ‘slices’ for what equated to A$0.60 for 1.   They looked too good not to try, and afterwards, I was hooked on all things with that agar-agar / firm gelatinous texture.  This was the easiest to make, out of of all the ones I want to try, and I love it — it isn’t too sweet, I get a lot from not very much, and it lasts quite well in the fridge for over a week.


Yellow split pea ‘pudding’ (馬豆糕)


  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 3/4-1 cup caster sugar (personal preference)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups water


  1. Rinse the yellow split peas until the water runs clear.  Place them in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.  Make sure you watch it at this stage as it can boil over really quickly!  Lower the heat so that its inbetween simmering and boiling and wont’ boil over.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.  Pop on the lid, remove from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.   Drain and set aside.
  2. Mix the cornstarch with 1 cup of water — it feels like it’ll never dissolve at the start, but keep going and it’ll dissolve.  Set aside.
  3. Put the remaining 3 cups of the water into a saucepan and add the sugar.  Bring to the boil.   Add the coconut milk and evaporated milk.  Bring to the boil again.  Add the cornflour mixture and stir vigourously.  The mixture will thicken up considerably at this stage, so it’s important to keep stirring.  Do so for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat and add the drained yellow split peas.  Stir for another minute.
  5. Pour the mixture into a dish or moulds, and place into the fridge for 4-5 hours until set.

Makes a 9 inch quiche dish but fit it into whatever mould you have.


Sago sweet soup April 12, 2009

Filed under: Chinese,Dessert — smop @ 1:58 pm

Dear Smop,

It’s been a long time.  I’m sorry that we haven’t had a chance to see each other lately.  I’ve been away, I’ve been busy, I haven’t cooked properly for quite some time. I know that’s not a very good excuse.  I admit that I was trying to avoid you because you are sometimes a bit high maintenance – you know how to get my attention, and when you have it, you seize it, hold on to it, and don’t let go of it until you feel completed.  But nonetheless, I like you a lot.  And I’ve missed you.  I miss greeting you every morning, checking on you, seeing whether anyone else has showered some love onto you, and making sure that you haven’t been disturbed by unwanted visitors.

I hope you understand.

So my peace offering to you is something sweet.

This is one of the first desserts I learnt.  Its simple, quick and delicious hot or cold.  You can add sweet potato, mango, mung beans, taro or anything you want really

Please accept, and please forgive me.  I promise that I will try to visit you more often now, and load you with more goodies.

Yours always,



Sago tong shui


  • 100g sago
  • 150-175g rock sugar (personal preference)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk


  1. Soak sago in boiling water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  2. Drain the sago, then boil until it’s almost cooked, stirring occasionally.  While cooking, the sago will go from white to clear.  Take it off the heat when there’s only a small white dot in the sago, and drain while rinsing it under tap water – this will complete the cooking process and make the sago completely clear.   Set sago aside.
  3. Dissolve rock sugar in water, add the sago and stir until it boils.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in evaporated milk and coconut milk.  Serve hot or cold.

I sometimes add mung beans or yellow split peas to give it a bit more of a bite.  To do this, cook the beans or peas for about 15-20 minutes while the sago is soaking and then add it in Step (3).


Tiramisu March 20, 2009

Filed under: Dessert — smop @ 8:15 pm

Tiramisu possibly rates as one of my favourite desserts, though one that can only be eaten occasionally and in small amounts.  The best one I’ve tasted so far, in my opinion of course, is one at Starbucks in Hong Kong.  Funny that.  Even Greco here doesn’t do it as well.  I’ve been having on and off cravings for tiramisu over the past couple of months, and I don’t know why I’ve never actually tried to make it myself to cure those cravings — preferring to just hold it out until it went away.

Last week was when the tiramisu desire hit, and hit hard.  I set about looking up recipes (probably well over a dozen), I compared them, I read about the difference between using Marsala and Kahlua (which is none – the former is cheaper), how much espresso is good, watched videos of it being made, then settled on one that had gotten some pretty good reviews.  I bought all the stuff – sponge fingers, eggs, mascarpone, cocoa powder, cream and marsala and did everything to the dot.  There was no instant gratification from it as I had to wait the next morning.  When I took off the foil on my dish, it was evident that I’d failed miserably.  For some reason, my mascarpone mixture didn’t hold up and the next morning I ended up with a mascarpone, cream and egg yolk slurry with partially saturated lady fingers floating in it.  It looked pretty gross.

I still had half a packet of sponge fingers left, so I went out to get more mascarpone and decided to try again, and with a different recipe.  (Usually when I’m cooking, if one recipe doesn’t work out right, I try something else — I’m a bit impatient with trying to go through it again and figuring out what went wrong.)  And this time …



The sponge fingers were adequately saturated with the coffee, the mascarpone mixture held up, it had just the right amount of sweet to coffee and best of all, it satisifed my cravings.  Have included the recipe below (credits to Lisa) – it’s not the ‘traditional’ recipe per se (which I will attempt next time with this recipe), but what the heck!  It tasted good!

(I don’t know how many serves this recipe yields, but it managed to fit quite nicely in a 1.5L lunch box.)


  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 250g mascarpone cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold strong black coffee (I brewed mine in a plunger)
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua / Marsala.
  • Italian sponge fingers – around 9-12
  • Sifted cocoa powder and grated bittersweet chocolate to decorate.


  1. Brew coffee.
  2. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until the yolks turn more pale and the mixture is fluffy (aim for it to double in size, and it will).  Mix in the mascarpone and beat until evenly combined (2-3 minutes).
  3. In a separate bowl (and also after cleaning your beaters), beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold in the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture
  4. Spread a spoonful of the mixture in the bottom of a serving dish / bowl evenly.
  5. Mix together the coffee and Kahlua/Marsala in a shallow dish. Dip one sponge fingers into the mixture, turn it quickly so that it’s saturated but does not disintegrate.  Place on top of the mascarpone mexure in the bowl.  Add additional sponge fingers this way placing side by side.
  6. (Optional) Sift cocoa powder on top of sponge finger layer
  7. Spoon in abount 1/2 of the remaining mixture on top of the sponge fingers and spread it out evenly.  Make another layer with sponge fingers, and then another with mascarpone (it doesn’t really matter how many layers you make as long as you finish up with mascarpone.
  8. Level surface and sift the cocoa powder on top.
  9. Cover with foil and chill overnight.
  10. Sift more cooca powder and sprinkle grated chocolate on top before serving the next day.

The things I would probably change for next time is – use thinner sponge fingers (found mine were a bit too thick) and go stronger on the coffee.
Might try infusing some coffee into the mascarpone mixture too…


Ramekin-ed dishes February 25, 2009

Filed under: Beef,Dessert,Soup — smop @ 6:26 am

Among some of the most valued virtues in life I see adaptability and versatility almost as most important. No matter where you are or what you do in life, you will inevitably be called to be different things to different people – a father, a brother, a son, a friend (ok, this is starting to sound like a eulogy). In my opinion, if ramekins were a person, then it would be the one to do it all!! (that or I just bought a few ramekins and went a little over board with them.)

It was a Saturday lunch and it was a three course meal – in ramekins! The below recipes are for 6 servings each, so unless you have 18 ramekins… as much fun as they are to make. Also, they are incredibly easy as well. Soup, pie and crumble: a wholesome three-hit combo (it even rhymes).

French onion soup with pastry top, served with cheese bread


  • 60g butter
  • 6 brown unions (approx. 1 kg), sliced into thin rings
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 9 cups beef stock (I used store bought stock, so I substituted some portions with water to taste)


Heat butter in a large pot, add onion and cook slowly over low heat for about 30 minutes or until very tender and a deep golden brown, stirring often. Don’t rush this stage. Add the sugar and flour and cook and stirr for about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the stock gradually until the soup boils and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour. Ladle into ramekins.

Pastry top

  • rolled / puff pastry, thawed
  • Yolk of 1 egg


Cut the pasty into squares or circles that covers the ramikins with a 2 cm overhang and put over ramikins. Prick a few holes in it with a fork, and brush with yolk. Place into the oven on 200C for approx 10 minutes or whenever pastry turns a golden brown.


Slice up a stick of French bread, toast the bread then top with grated Gruyere cheese (or whatever you have in your fridge that would toast well) and grill to melt. Serve immediately.

Shepherd’s pie


  • 850g lean lamb mince (if it were minced beef, it would make it a “Cottage Pie”)
  • 25g butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tbp plain flour
  • 3 tsp whole grain mustard (or better still, 1/2 tsp mustard powder)
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Brown the onions in butter, then cook lamb. Add mustard and Worcestershire sauce and mix through. Add flour. Spoon into ramekins.

Potato topping

  • 4-5 large potatoes, cooked (boiled) and mashed
  • 1/2 cup hot milk
  • 30g butter


Mix all ingredient and season with salt and pepper to taste. spread evenly over the meat and rough up the surface with a fork. bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the topping is golden on 200C.

Rhubarb & ginger crumble

  • 1kg (or approx 10 rhubarb stalks, it might seem a lot but it does boil down)
  • 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup soft brown / demerara sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 100g softened unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 200C (which would already be at 200C, since you’ve been making the soup and pie). Cut rhubarb into short lengths (3-5 cm) and into pan with sugar, fresh and ground ginger. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, the simmer for 10minutes or until rhubarb is soft but still chunky. Don’t walk away as it will burn easily. Spoon into ramekins. Put the flour and brown sugar in a bowl, add butter and rub in with just your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the crumble over the stewed rhubarb and bake for 15-20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

(if you’re tempted to make the all time fav. apple crumble then you can’t just substitute rhubarb with apple. Use 8 green cooking apples, peeled and cored, and cut into large pieces / wedges. Boil with 3 tbs water then reduce to low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in 2 tbs caster sugar. Crumble topping as above.)


Figs, Honey & Macadamia Nuts Ice Cream December 14, 2008

Filed under: Dessert,Nuts — lewislikesolives @ 10:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

It has come to my attention recently that most of us take many of life’s wonders and pleasures for granted. And along with this, we all seem to lose that sense of wonder and curiousity as we grow older; no longer do we ask why the sky is blue or why toothpaste is always white. So, even though I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, nor would I consider myself much of a philosopher – I have decided to take on one of life’s big questions this weekend: where does ice-cream come from (other than out of a tub)? And more importantly – can it be made at home?

And just over an hour later, it was evident that the answers to the above questions are resounding “YES’s”, with the downside being that without an ice cream machine, it would have been impossible – the only alternative that I can think of is to stand inside a industrial freezer with the tub of custard and stir the mixture manually while it turned into the said product (as an ice cream maker is exactly that – a freezer that stirs custard to ice cream. Funky huh?) Also, it was a lot of fun as well, mostly due to the fact that you are reassured that what ever you do – it would turn out creamy and delicious. Of course, common sense prevails, I would never anticipate pate flavoured ice cream to be much of a crowd pleaser…



Fig, honey and macadamia ice cream

  • 2.5c milk +0.5c
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1.5 tsp cornflour
  • 1.5 heaped tbsp fig jam + 1.5 heaped tbsp honey (or all honey, to taste)
  • 1 cap brandy (2 tsp)

Heat 2.5c milk to simmer in saucepan, then whisk egg yolks, cornflour and remaining milk until smooth.
Pour approx 1c hot milk into egg yolk mixture while mixing before pouring back into saucepan. Heat over low heat until custard thickens. Take off heat immediately. Mix in fig jam/honey and brandy,taste and adjust sweetness. Cool in fridge over night before churning in ice cream maker.

Macadamia/fig mix:

  • 1/2c roasted macadamias, crushed into small pieces
  • 5 dried figs
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 1tbsp brown sugar

Finely chop figs. Put in saucepan with honey and brown sugar and 1/4c water, then cook over low heat until figs are softened and sauce slightly thick (may need to add more water/honey/sugar to taste). Take off heat and let cool. When ice cream is done, stir macadamias and figs through.

Makes approx 1 litre

 (I would like to acknowledge Beck, chef-extraordinaire and friend, for providing the recipe & her ice cream factory, Eton for smashing the macadamia nuts and mushing the figs)

Eatery Of The Week:

  • DOC Pizza & Mozarella Bar – 299 Drummond St, Carlton. Victoria. (03) 9347 2998 No bookings.
    The antipasto was brilliant as was the pizza with lemon. An unexpected combination but really quite fantastic. Also, the music there is so bad it’s awesome – it’s like eurovision.

Green tea pudding January 18, 2008

Filed under: Dessert — smop @ 8:20 pm
Tags: ,

The kitchenware section is always on par with the clothes section in the ‘best section in a department store’ stakes.  I could happily spend an hour or two in a kitchenware store  or the respective section in a department store looking, touching, examining, wondering about the possibilities each utensil or gadget could bring.  I also get easily sucked in by sales on kitchenware, whether it’s purely browsing or browsing that leads to purchasing.  It is a trait passed down from my mum.

It was therefore no surprise that in the past week, I have gone down to Myer and DJs to check out the mid-season sales.  I ended up getting myself a fine sieve and 4 small ramekins to make the following dessert that I had previously made without the aforementioned things.  Least to say, not having green tea lumps while eating the pudding out of various types of bowls makes the experience a heap better.

green tea pudding

(I had to fiddle around Photoshop to take away the green hue that have recently been killing a lot of my photographs.  But I can tell you now that if you follow the recipe, you do end up with a lime green coloured pudding.)

Green Tea Pudding
(adapted from Pittsburg Needs Eated)


Fills 4 small ramekins

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used low fat & it was OK)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon caster sugar
  • A small pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin softened in 2 tablespoons of cold water (do before adding it into the milk mixture — done prematurely and you end up with gelatin balls)
  • 2 tablespoon matcha powder
  • Small squeeze of lemon juice (don’t go overboard or it can be omitted)


  1. Put milk, sugar & salt in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat ‘until bubbles begin to form around the edges’ — in other words, don’t boil the milk.
  2. Add the gelatin and stir until dissolved
  3. Remove from heat and let the mixture sit until it cools to room temp.  I let it sit in a bowl of water to quicken the process.
  4. Add the matcha powder plus lemon juice into the milk and gelatin mixture and whisk or use a hand blender until the matcha powder has been completely dissolved (there’ll still be lumps)
  5. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve (important!) & divide into bowls / ramekins / serving implement.
  6. Refrigerate uncovered until set (about 3-4 hours)

Depending on how much you like green tea, adjust how much you put in.  I’m a bit of a fanatic and found the green tea taste was definitely there, but subtle.  And the other good thing is that it’s not that terribly sweet.