Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Taverna Lunch in The Hills

My mum has just returned from a trip to the Greek Islands and because I don’t go much further overseas than the harbour ferry these days, I am borrowing the recipes in this post (and some gorgeous pics) from her.

This is her in Mykonos in the “Greek mama” dress she had to buy when Qantas left her luggage behind. No one can say the Greek economy didn't get a boost that week!

I don't think she was too bothered by the mix up. Look at that view!

When she got back, the family crowded around her table on a Sunday, as we do, to gossip and share a fantastic taverna lunch of Prawn Saganaki and Kefthedes (recipes below), with an Aussie twist of Sydney rock oysters to start.

We cook a lot of Italian food, but hardly any Greek except for the odd lamb dish, so it was great to try something different like the feta crumbled and grilled on top of the Saganaki.

Keeping the prawn heads on was a tip from a Greek friend and colleague of Mum’s. It gave the dish an authentic taste of the sea but if you prefer your seafood a little milder, I’d leave them out.

Mum always brings back a few “presents” for the house, like this cute, bright bread basket and beautiful silk table runner.

Not so sure about the matching shirts she bought my husband and baby boy!

Larissa x

Prawn Saganaki
Serves 4

1kg green prawns
2 brown onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 shot glass of ouzo (Greek liqueur) – if none available use white wine
250g Greek feta
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Peel the prawns, leaving the tail (and head if using) intact.
Preheat your grill.
Heat a large oven-proof pan and add a generous glug of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and chilli and fry for a minute or so until fragrant.
Add the prawns and saute for 1-2 mins, then add the tomato, ouzo (or wine) and season to taste.
Simmer for five minutes before stirring in the parsley.
Crumble the feta over the top and place the pan under a hot grill until the feta melts and browns slightly.
Serve in the pan on a hot-plate at the table for guests to help themselves.
If you have the authentic “saganaki” ceramic bowls, even better!

Kefthedes (Greek meatballs)
Mum found this recipe on Honey and Spice ( and I have adapted some measurements to suit.

Serves 4

For the meatballs:

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup milk
½ onion grated
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp parsley chopped
250g minced lamb
Olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

410g can crushed tomatoes
Pinch sugar
1 bay leaf
½ onion, finely chopped
Handful parsley
Salt, pepper

Mix together the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, cumin and parsley. Season and stir well.
Add the lamb and mix until all incorporated. Form tablespoons of mixture into small meatballs with wet hands (it’s easiest).
Fry the meatballs in a large pan on medium heat until browned and cooked through (about 5-6 minutes). Set aside.
For the sauce, place tomatoes into the same frying pan with the sugar, bay leaf and onion and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer until they are warmed through.
Scatter over the parsley just before serving.
Again, we served this in the pan straight to the table for everyone to dig in.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Pizza e Birra: Recreating Vito's

Last Rugby World Cup, my husband and I were living in London in a snug one-bedder with no cable TV. Hence, we spent quite a few nights making ourselves cosy in front of the enormous flat-screen at Vito’s, a tiny Italian bar at the end of Northcote Road in Clapham. 

In 2007, it wasn’t much more than a few tables, a bar plastered with posters of Italian football heroes and that huge TV which, when not playing sport, would provide hours of entertainment in the form of retro MTV. It was a little nook with awful tiles on the floor but loads of character and seriously good pizza!

I can’t remember much after some of those WC matches, particularly the night the Wallabies lost in the quarters to the English, but I do remember the pizzas! Simple, piping-hot and glommed at the bar with a tall glass of Peroni. There was no way I would be a rugby widow when these were on offer!

My web research tells me that Vito’s and its adjoining ristorante have since been razzed up with dark wood, leather seats and mood lighting. Shame to lose all that tacky charm, but at least the pizzas seem to have stayed.

Back in Sydney, in our slightly larger, still cableless apartment, it was only fitting that we recreated Vito’s in our living room to cheer on the Wallabies in their first WC 2011 match against Italy. We made mushroom pizzas with fresh oregano and basil (recipe below) and served them with tall glasses of Peroni. Simple, not too large and very delicious!

A toast to the Wallabies who won the match and a special cheers to Nina and Jon who owe us a bottle of Veuve if the All Blacks go down to the frogs for a third time!

Larissa x

World Cup Mushroom Pizza for cheats

2 x your favourite pre-made pizza bases
½ cup Arrabbiata pasta sauce (or tomato passata simmered with garlic and chilli)
1 cup grated quality mozzarella
1 ½ cups of sliced Swiss Brown mushrooms
Handful of fresh basil leaves torn
Handful of fresh oregano leaves picked
Black pepper
Quality olive oil
Optional, pitted olives

Preheat oven to 220C.
Place pizza bases on oven trays and slather with pasta sauce, leaving a 1cm rim around the edges.
Sprinkle half the mozzarella over both pizzas.
Top with mushroom slices and scatter over the mixed herbs (and olives if using).
Finish with a liberal grind of black pepper, the remaining mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Serve as a snack for hungry, football-mad husbands (and yourself of course!) or more sensibly for dinner with a crisp green salad. Enjoy!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Introducing Little Pudding


v  Brownies
(plain, macadamia, sour cherry, raspberry)

v  Friands
(raspberry, blueberry, lemon)

v  Apple and spiced sugar tea cakes

v  Lemon curd tartlets

v  Salted caramel peanut tarts

v  Old fashioned custard tarts

v  Chunky caramel slice

This is my menu. Creating and perfecting the recipes is the most fun I’ve had at “work” for ages.

Little Pudding began in 2011 while I was on maternity leave. My sister asked me to bake a few things for her partner’s cafe, wanting that fresh-from-the-oven look and taste of home-made cakes piled on the counter.

I started with a batch of raspberry friands and macadamia brownies and to my surprise they kept ordering more! After a few short months I am now supplying goodies to six cafes and baking daily.

I recently shelved my career as a journalist with The Daily Telegraph in order to continue in the kitchen and give my little business a chance to grow.

It’s scary, stepping out on my own, but there’s a definite demand out there for cakes that taste of real butter instead of trans fats and preservatives, and I’m doing my best to keep up with it!

Sydneysiders can find my cakes and tarts at:
  • Joe Black X, 70 King Street, Sydney CBD
  • Two Penny Blue, Pitt Street, outside The Westin, Sydney CBD
  • Two Penny on Park, Citibank building foyer, Park Street, Sydney CBD
  • Thelma & Louise, Hayes Street Wharf, Neutral Bay 
  • Cafe on Strand, The Strand, Croydon
  • Bacino Bar, Chowder Bay
  • Bacino Beach Kiosk, Clifton Gardens
  • Wild Basket, Grosvenor Street, Neutral Bay

I also cater for corporate and private events with assortments of sweet treats and celebration cakes. My style for bespoke cakes is rustic and beautiful, using fresh buttercreams, couverture ganache and gorgeous florals - edible where possible. To see recent examples of my work, follow my instagram feed @littlepudding.

If you are interested in stocking my cakes please send me an email at

I'd love to hear from you! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my little blog.

Larissa x