Fast, Fresh, Simple: Apple & Blueberry Cake

Long weekends are such a blessing.  No need to rush around.   Time to share with friends and time to bake :).

I was planning to bake a cake to bring to a gathering with the old high school crew but by the time I had it in the oven, it was already time to go :(.  No huge issues though when you have some Honey Joys ready to go haha ;).

Anyhow, I left some instructions for my dear mother and when I returned home, the cake had come out beautifully :). Great team effort!


Apple & Blueberry Cake

adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple 

(underlined parts are the changes – not many really)

Serve 8-10


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Fast, Fresh, Simple: Baked Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

Donna Hay is a lady after my own heart.  I knew she was a cook and people loved her, but I was not wooed until I watched an episode of her television series, “Fast, Fresh, Simple”.

Credits: Boutique Hotel Management

Those three words pretty much sums up my cooking philosophy.  Something that’s quick, made with fresh ingredients and is as easy as can be!  As much as I loved watching MasterChef this season, there were things there that I knew I would not have the patience or time to ever try – I’d rather pay for someone else to do it! :P  However, Donna Hay’s approach to food in her television series really resonated with me, so when Book Depository had one of their sales a while back, I just had to purchase her book of the same title:

Instagrammed on the happy day that it arrived of course ;)

Sadly, I haven’t had as much time to cook from it yet but as I was home a lot more this week due to the sprained ankle (thanks for all the well-wishes btw ^^), I made an executive decision that we’d be making a dish that we’ve had on a number of occasions, even prior to purchasing the book!  It is seriously simple and sooo delicious that I had it again for lunch AND dinner the day after :D.

This will be the first of what I hope to be a series of posts as I cook through my favourites from this cook book (hence the FFS label lol).

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

from Donna Hay’s ‘fast, fresh, simple.’ 

Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 12 sage leaves
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 800g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1.25 litres (5 cups) of chicken stock
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 30g butter
  • 40g finely grated parmesan
  • extra finely grated parmesan and fried sage leaves, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. Heat a large ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the sage and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the rice, pumpkin and stock and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bake for 30 minutes. The risotto will be quite liquid.
  4. Stir through the salt, pepper, butter and parmesan and stir for 2 minutes until the risotto thickens slightly.
  5. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and fried sage leaves to serve.
Step 3 (before oven bake)
Step 3 (post over bake)
Step 5
Risotto was served with chicken fillets marinated overnight with salt, pepper, sugar and garlic :)

Kitchen notes: 

  • My mum being my mum insisted that we wash the arborio rice before using it which resulted in there being too much liquid… I think that may have been why the pumpkin pieces didn’t keep their shape and the risotto turned out more orange-y than expected. ANYHOW, in future, if I was to wash the arborio rice, I’d use one less cup of chicken stock.
  • We fried the sage leaves used for garnish after the risotto went into the oven :).
  • The first few times I made it, we couldn’t find sage in the grocery store so I used thyme instead – different flavour of course but still pretty good!

So there you have it!  Simple, right?  Perfect for the last of these wintery cold Melbourne nights :).

Have a great weekend everyone ^^

Random Question: If you had to describe your cooking/food philosophy in three words, what would they be?

♥ Ames