Warm, Fudgy Chocolate Cake With Chai Spices – The Simple Secrets To Cooking Everything – Matt Preston

Cover The Simple Secrets To Cooking Everything


Only one thing to say here . . . you MUST eat this cake warm. Either enjoy it straight from the oven (best) or warmed in the microwave (not too shabby either). It’s fine cold, but just lacks some of the indulgent fudginess and the exotic fragrant wafts of an Indian spice merchant’s attic are more subdued. The secrets here are the absence of flour and the staggered addition of the egg whites.” Matt Preston  p. 274


Warm, Fudgy  Chocolate Cake With Chai Spices

250 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into rough pieces

250 g unsalted butter, diced

250 g light brown sugar

100 g (⅔ cup) plain flour

6 large eggs, separated

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

pinch of salt flakes

whipped cream, to serve



1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground allspice or star anise


Preheat the oven to 170°C. Butter and line the base and side of a

23 cm springform cake tin.


Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of just

simmering water. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave in

30-second bursts, stirring in between.


Remove from the heat, add the butter and allow it to melt.


Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water and heat gently

until it has completely dissolved.


Combine the melted chocolate and the melted sugar in a large mixing bowl and

leave to cool for about 5 minutes.


Combine the chai spices and stir into the flour. Add to the chocolate mixture.

Make sure you have a large bowl that is completely clean and dry. Add the

egg whites, the cream of tartar and salt and whisk to soft peaks using an

electric mixer.


Stir the egg yolks fairly briskly into the chocolate, then add around a third of

the whipped egg whites and fold it into the batter to slacken it. Fold in the

rest of the egg whites in two more lots, then pour the batter into the prepared

cake tin.


Bake for 35–40 minutes, then remove the cake from the oven. Leave it to cool

very briefly before releasing it from the tin and serving it warm with plenty

of cream


Matt Preston

Jumbo Sausage Rolls – The Simple Secrets To Cooking Everything -Matt Preston

Hot out of the oven ten minutes ago (and ready for my daughter and son in laws house warming/baby shower), these sausage rolls are delicious!  Make to the size you desire, add as much or as little spice ( read fire) as you like – we prefer our sausage rolls with a good dash of fire.  I think I might just have to make another batch for Christmas.


** The secret ingredients are pine nuts and a special spice mix (see p.148)


Sausage Rolls

Post Script: The Simple Secrets To Cooking Everything Better – Matt Preston

An excellent resource – fun, informative and some great recipes.

Cover The Simple Secrets To Cooking Everything

The Simple Secrets to Cooking Everything

Matt Preston

Pan Macmillan


ISBN: 9781743533277



Every great home cook needs a go-to list of delicious, fail-safe recipes, from the perfect crispy Hasselback potatoes to the ultimate roast pork with crackling and the foolproof cheesecake that will have people requesting the recipe every time. Nobody is better qualified than Matt Preston to bring you this kind of knowledge, to share with you the secrets to cooking everything better.



Matt reveals here for the first time the secrets and tips he has picked up over his many years food writing, TV presenting and working alongside some of the greatest cooks of our time – be they CWA matriarchs or Marco Pierre White. These are the building blocks for better cooking and they’ve never been easier to master.




My View:

An excellent resource – fun, informative and some great recipes.


These tips and hints I found particularly useful or relevant to my time in the kitchen:


*Perfect Vegetables – Steam is the enemy of golden crispness – which is why you should use a roasting pan with low sides is important, high sides traps the steam. (p.106)



*Perfect Pasta – simply don’t overcook. And the hint that surprised me the most– why didn’t I learn this in Home Economics? Never rinse the cooked pasta. A splash of the starchy cooking water will do the same job to lubricate it if the pasta is properly al dente. (p.123)



*The Perfect Chicken – Best flavours to go with chicken: cinnamon, saffron, star anise, cloves, chipotle, paprika and tarragon, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, sage and coriander. (p.153)



*Perfect Roast Pork – If (despite reading Matts’ hints on this subject) you have somehow failed at getting your crackling to crackle –blame the pork or your oven and then after the pork has finished cooking peel of the crackling and place it under the grill, skin side up to crisp. (p.171)



*Perfect Curry – Always cook curries long and slow at low temperatures for better texture and flavour. (p.206)



*Perfect Baking – this is one of the best hints and I don’t know why more recipe books don’t follow this advice – measure by weight not volume i.e. by weight not by cup or parts of. There can be so much variation depending on how “packed” the cup is, or is using US or Australian cup measurements etc. measuring by weight is far more accurate. And I must add this piece of enlightenment – Give cakes space – allow room for things to rise, so only fill tins half to two thirds of the way up. (p.224)



***And the hint we should all observe this party/BBQ season – DON’T REUSE THE MEAT PLATE (p.195)


Best Audio Book Of 2015

In the light of recent wins it is only fitting that I announce what I feel to be the best audio book of 2015. I know I haven’t listened to many this year – but this one stands out – the narrative is excellent and the narration brings the story to life.  I highly recommend this for all parents, grandparents, teenagers to read or listen to. This will change your awareness of the power/influence of social media.


The best audio book of 2015 is Risk – Fleur Ferris

Cover - Risk

A Surprise For Me

Today I received some exciting news –  I am a winner of a Face Book competition by Bolinda Audio. This is my win! Thanks so much Bolinda Audio.

The giveaway includes one signed copy each of;

‘Rush Oh!’ by Shirley Barrett
‘Rain Music’ by Di Morrissey
‘The Lake House’ by Kate Morton
‘Reckoning’ by Magda Szubanski
‘The Dressmaker’ by Rosalie Ham
‘The 65-Storey Treehouse’ by Andy Griffiths
‘Laurinda’ by Alice Pung
‘Inside’ by Chris Judd
‘The Tournament at Gorlan’ by John Flanagan
‘Napoleon’s Last Island’ by Tom Keneally
‘The Perfumer’s Secret’ by Fiona McIntosh
‘The Big Book of Australian Racing Stories’ by Jim Haynes
‘Everything’s Amazing (Sort of)’ from the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon
‘Running Like China’ by Sophie Hardcastle



Post Script: Fixed in Fear – T E Woods

Cover Fixed in Fear

Fixed in Fear

A Justice Novel

T E Woods


ISBN: 9781101886571



The Fixer returns in the pulse-pounding Justice series—perfect for fans of Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter thrillers—as worlds collide in an inferno of bloodshed, revenge, and holy terror.


I’ll probably never see my daughter again. And if I do, she’ll either be dead or in a jail cell.


Seattle Chief of Detectives Mort Grant cannot reconcile the memories of his vibrant, headstrong young daughter with the cold, deadly woman she has become. The head of one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world, Allie Grant seized power by wrenching it away from her lover, a notorious Russian gangster. How she maintains her control, Mort doesn’t even want to imagine.


Only two other people know the truth about Allie: the vigilante known as The Fixer, and Mort’s best friend, Larry, who’s undergoing a crisis of his own. Someone close to Larry, his last real connection to his beloved late wife, has been slain in a mass murder at a sweat lodge deep in the woods of Washington State. When word gets out, Mort immediately takes on the gruesome case.


But as Mort hunts down a pair of methodical killers, The Fixer does some deep digging of her own. And what she unearths will rock Mort’s family forever. Because The Fixer has set her sights on Allie Grant—and nothing will ever be the same again.



My View:

Here I was thinking this is the end of The Fixer, that the Justice Novels were winding down, no place left to go …no options left…The Fixer retired and then I discovered the second narrative in this crime novel– Allie’s story (no spoilers here) and I knew this was going to get messy. Next thing I know I have turned the last page and… to my utter surprise, no more story, no more words! What happens next T E Woods- I did not see the last page coming! I did not expect the book to end on such a huge cliff hanger.


How long before the next instalment?? You are not playing fair T E Woods 🙂


Post Script: Resurrection Bay – Emma Viskic

Cover Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay

Emma Viskic

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760068769




Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.


This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.


Resurrection Bay is the exciting debut novel by Melbourne-based award-winning crime writer Emma Viskic.


‘Viskic has created a genuinely unique and captivating character who deserves a place alongside Jack Irish and Cliff Hardy.’ – P.M. Newton




My View:

I finished reading this book about a week ago – and here I am still trying to find the words to adequately describe my reaction,

(positive, 5 stars) to this book. It was a great read, a fantastic debut, a great new voice in Australian crime fiction. It is an inclusive and diverse voice; the language deftly written laced with laconic dry humour (Caleb has a typical Australian self-deprecating sense of self and humour) and there are Indigenous characters, artists, cops, villains, drug users, strong men and women, a range of people and lifestyles that form a part of this rich cultural landscape. Emma Viskic’s characters reflect a diverse Australia.


Caleb is profoundly deaf. (Have I ever come across a protagonist in crime fiction who is deaf? I don’t think so.) Caleb’s disability is portrayed with credibility and intelligence – his disability informs his attitudes (he is quiet, some say uncommunicative, keeps mainly to himself, and stands back, observing rather than participating in life around him) but his disability doesn’t define him, perhaps it more accurately defines those around him by their responses to his deafness. Caleb is intelligent, he has mastered the art of reading body language and nuances in behaviours/responses, and language (he lip reads and has hearing aids) and uses his skill to his advantage in both his public and private worlds …he is determined and thorough in his work, he suffers relationship issues like anyone else. He is not perfect. He is… himself. A complex human.


Enough of the protagonist – other characters in this narrative are interesting and humanly portrayed, diverse and real.


The plot – interesting, twisty and at times bloody – (it is a crime story after all) and there are a couple of reveals that I did not see coming. The back story about Caleb’s relationship with his ex-wife and their struggle to deal with loss (no spoilers here) is a universal story about relationships and adds depth, interest, layers…a richness to the storytelling.


The settings – Melbourne, Australia – city and regional; always great to have a landscape that speaks to fellow Australians.


What else can I tell you without giving you a rehash of the narrative? This is an intriguing and engaging read. At times the tension cuts like a razor – swift, sharp, painful. You will not forget this story, you will not forget this cast of characters. You will want to read the next in this series, I do. I think I am done.






Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015

completed challenge


Congrats! You have read 200 books of a goal of 200!

Now that wasn’t so hard was it? It is the reviewing 200 books that is the hard work.