Kitchen spy: Phillippa Grogan

Her first bakery took $284 on opening day, in May 1994. Since then, Phillippa Grogan's business has become a $10 million chocolate brownie, mince pie and bread-baking empire, with three outlets and a large bakery supplying food stores as far as Darwin. She has recently released her first cookbook, Phillippa's Home Baking, full of recipes for beginners and experienced home bakers (Penguin, $49.99). At home in Prahran, Grogan loves cooking in her recently renovated kitchen with husband Andrew O'Hara and three children, Sophie, 14, Charles, 12, and Anais, 8. ''I wanted a kitchen that had a feel for the era of the house.''

My toolkit

I built my new kitchen around my Ilve Nostalgie double oven, which I fell in love with. That and our fridge, a Liebherr that keeps my ice-cream maker at minus 18 degrees. We use our Thermomix to make icing sugar, last-minute bearnaise sauce for beef, custard, risotto and bolognese, and the kids make smoothies. My dough scraper is great for clearing surfaces before I wipe them down. And a good set of scales, like this Propert is important too.

I'm drinking

I like this new Bress lightly bubbly mineral water and in terms of wine, I drink pinot noir, pinot gris and, if I'm out, I go for Austrian and Spanish varietals - anything I don't usually have at home. And I love hot chocolate too. We use Mork drinking chocolate at home. The trick is to mix up a paste with a little cold milk before you add the warm milk.

Food discovery

Chef's Choice various rice blends. I add two cups of stock and a knob of butter. I can't tell you how delicious they are. They're hard to find in shops, though. Another tip: to get the smell of garlic off your fingers, try rubbing them on a stainless steel sink under cold water.

Last night's dinner

I didn't eat last night (I was out) but the night before I cooked a lentil and mushroom shepherd's pie with some pancetta on top and a spinach salad. I cooked it for the whole family.


Most unforgettable meal

Under the stars at Longitude 131, Uluru, in February. We were celebrating a significant birthday for my husband and I remember eating some beautiful fish. The chefs were cooking with head torches outside on an open barbecue, there was a little dingo hanging around, indigenous dancers and seriously amazing food.

Secret vice

Ice-cream. A couple of hours after dinner I'll either have a really nice piece of dark chocolate - about 70 per cent - or some vanilla ice-cream. I like it with a glug of liqueur on top. At the moment it's sambuca.

My inspiration

I get inspiration from my friends, from travels and from CWA and community-style cookbooks. My mother died 10 years ago but when she knew she was dying she wrote down all her recipes for us. My family gets together every year and we make things from it. My favourite is her Spanish cream, a kind of set custard. I grew up on it.

Recipe stalwart

Bread pancake. All you need is fresh breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, parmesan, thyme, butter and pepper. You mix everything except the butter in a bowl and let it soak for 10 minutes. Then you fry both sides in a pan. It's great with goat's cheese and salad. It's like a tortilla but with breadcrumbs instead of potatoes.


My Victorinox Fibrox wavy edge bread knife. It just cuts so easily. The key is the size because it's long and the spacing of the teeth just seems to make it work. It's not an expensive knife, either. I put it straight in the dishwasher.

The staples

My pantry I always have bread so when it gets a bit old, I make a breadcrumb mix with garlic, parmesan, fresh herbs like sage, thyme and parsley (whatever's growing in the garden) and pepper and salt. It's great for sprinkling over tomatoes before you roast them or toasted, sprinkled over a pasta.

My fridge We live on Schulz Organic Dairy unhomogenised full-cream milk (I'm very anti-skim milk) and this Skara smoked dry cured bacon is unbelievable. It's intense in flavour and if you put it into a bolognese it just lifts it. Also, I always have Holy Goat fromage frais. We put it on toast in the morning with tomatoes on top or if someone comes over, I slightly drain it and tip it upside down, cover in salt and pepper or chopped fresh herbs and we eat it with crackers. It's just yum.