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A day with Donna Hay

December 17, 2010 9 Comments

This post contains recipes for Donna Hays ‘Pork and Fennel Meatballs’ and ‘Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant’

Well I don’t mean literally… I wish!!!! hehe.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Donna Hay at the book signing for ‘Fast, Fresh, Simple’.

One thing is for sure, Donna Hay has a huge following by food lovers across Australia. I had not met her in person previously but I have quite a few of her beautiful books and often enjoy just looking at the gorgeous food pictures they contain. I was curious about the woman behind all the beautiful art that she creates. I suppose you could describe Donna Hay not only as a great cook but a food artist. If you are not drooling every time you flick through one of her cookbooks or magazines there has to be something wrong with you.

I had no idea what to expect of Donna Hay but I am always very curious to see what people are like after seeing them on TV or reading their books and ultimately with Donna also admiring her work. There is always a sense that if they seem real and genuine in person then their work holds so much more credibility with me and with Donna, if anything it heightened my appreciation of her. She was unpretentious, courteous, funny, classy and really sweet.

If you are reading this Donna I hope you don’t mind me posting this photo… but to me it shows how natural and expressive you are. I love it!

With the queue growing I was happy to have arrived early. There were about 15 people in front of me, some of which had 5 books each to sign and during it all she was gracious and gave everyone some of her time. My turn came and I asked her if she would choose a recipe from her book for me to cook for this post.

~ Donna showing me the recipe she chose ~

She chose ‘Pork and Fennel Meatballs”…. which she said were one of her favorites and after making them I understood why.

So once I got home I decided I wanted to make a meal out of it and I also chose a desert. The ‘Cheats Chocolate Fondant’ which appears on the front cover of her new book.

Pork and Fennel Meatballs

Serves 6

~ Pork and Fennel Meatballs ~


  • 2 ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 750g pork mince
  • 100g pieces flat pancetta, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • crusty bread, olive tapenade, slices tomato and rocket leave, to serve

How to:

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Place the fennel seeds and salt in a mortar and pestle and lightly crush. Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl and stand for 5 mins. Add the mince, pancetta, parsley and fennel-salt mixture and mix well for 2-3 mins or until mixture comes together. Shape ¹?3 cupfuls of mixture into balls. heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and cook the meatballs, in batches, until well browned on all sides. Place on a baking tray and bake for 5-7 mins or until cooked through. Serve the meatballs with crusty bread, olive tapenade, sliced tomato and rocket leaves.

And for desert…

Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant

Serves 4

~ Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant ~


  • 50g plain flour, sifted
  • 55g icing sugar, sifted
  • 90g almond meal
  • 2 eggwhites
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 160g dark chocolate, melted
  • 4 small squares dark chocolate, extra

How to:

Preheat oven to 150ºC. Place the flour, sugar, almond meal, egg whites, butter and melted chocolate in a bowl and mix well to combine. Spoon half the mixture into 4 x ½-cup capacity (125ml) lightly greased dariole moulds. Divide the extra chocolate squares between the moulds and top with the remaining mixture. Bake for 20-25 mins or until cooked but soft in the middle. Stand in tins for 5-7 mins before turning out.

It was a beautiful way to end my day after having meet the lovely Donna Hay with a beautiful meal. I wish Donna all the success with her new book and her new TV show which will be airing in the new year.

And finally, here is a little interview which was conducted at the time of the book signing.

Buon Appetito.. x

Tags: , , , , Books, Deserts, Food writers, Fresh Fresh Simple, My unrequited love - Kitchen Aid., Scallop, Squid Stuffed with Prawns, Thoughts, Veal
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  • http://www.moolollybar.com.au/shop Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar

    I love the sound of the Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant! It looks awesome and doesn’t seem that complicated to make. Will have to try it one day.

    • Anonymous

      You are right… it is sooo easy! You should try it! Let me know what you think when you do :)

  • http://twitter.com/IronChefShellie Iron Chef Shellie

    ahhh lucky you! I met her when she launched her last book. she had just launched her cupcake and brownie mix too and they were giving out samples… so I met her with her brownie smeared into my white top when she signed my book… so embarrassing! there is a post somewhere on my blog with the evidence :P

    your pic looks as good as the books!

    • Anonymous

      Hahaha – Priceless!!! I’ll have to find the post on your blog M. lol

  • http://www.ledelicieux.com Jennifer

    Looks like you had a wonderful time meeting Donna. Great pics of her. It’s always interesting to see what people are really like instead of the media photos you usually see.

    The cheat’s chocolate fondant looks great. I will have to try that. Maybe for Valentine’s day.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jennifer – Great idea about making the cheats fondant for Valentien’s Day! Let me know what you think of it :)

  • Cookie @ Cook, Snap, Repeat!

    Ooooooh, lucky you!!! I love Donna Hay magazines … every once in a while I treat myself to one – the subscription cost for the US is super high.

    LOVE the moulds that you used for the chocolate fondant. I use ramekins, which do work, but the cakes don’t turn out snazzy-shaped like yours! :o)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Cookie :) If you ever need a recipe from one of her mags and I have it let me know. I am more than happy to scan if for you and send it to you via email. I know that this whole obsession with food can get rather pricie!!!!
      The molds where quite easy to find… just got them at a regular kitchenware store.

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