The (Good) Friday List


Happy Good Friday! I hope you manage to spend some of it sitting comfortably in the sun, drinking cups of tea, chatting, reading and eating hot cross buns. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Speaking of tea...this teapot, pictured above, has just been added to my poster shop and really is a great big punch of loved-up colour. It was snapped last year while doing a course at The School. Perfect for that wall in the corner there that you've never really known what to hang with...

And speaking of Friday, here below is today's reading/cooking list. Best wishes to everyone for a happy and safe Easter! And if you are in Sydney tomorrow, we will be at the Northside Produce market with loads of our Mandagery Creek Venison. From 10am I'll also be chatting about my book with Syd Pemberton.

The Friday List

I am so very honoured to be included in the Kidspot Hall of Fame again this year. Talk about being in good company...Thank you very very very much!

So so much beauty in this post. And Mimi - I can't wait to eat at your day.

A beautiful recipe for slow-cooked Italian stew by lucky Lizzie Hewson (author of Moving out Eating In). Lizzie is spending a year in Piedmont, living in my one-time-home-town Bra and studying at Slow Food's University of Gastronomic Sciences. As I said...lucky thing!!

Such beautiful food photography over on V.K.Rees...

Strawberry cheesecake jars from Call me Cupcake.

Red fruit custard cake from Food Loves Writing.

Hot cross donuts filled with raspberry jam via The Sugar Hit. Hit me.

I've never made a coffee walnut cake but after reading this, am seriously considering having a go. This Austrian coffee cake by Trostki and Ash looks pretty fantastic too.

Five things to read before inviting anyone over on Easter Sunday. Apparently...

Here's my beautiful sister-in-law baking up a storm over on the Good Day Girl blog

Armchair travel - off to perfectly imperfect Portugal via Sweet Paul then Tasmania's west coast via Hugo and Elsa finishing with a brief stop over in Milan thanks to Lingered Upon.

Tumblr of the week? After the cups. Definitely.

The F.O.O.D Week that was


Orange F.O.O.D Week is the annual 10-day festival we host here to promote the region's food and wine. The 2014 'edition' wrapped up last weekend so I thought I'd post my own wrap up of the F.O.O.D Week that was....

Tim and I kicked off our own F.O.O.D Week program with The Moveable Feast, a staggered lunch we held in collaboration with our friends over at The Agrestic Grocer. Our guests started with canapes at The Agrestic Grocer then came out for a tour with Tim then entree and main course at the Farm Kitchen finished up with dessert at The Farm Gate's Nashdale apple orchard. We loved all working together and feedback was fantastic so this is set to become a regular event - watch this space!

The below salad was our entree and one of my favourite venison dishes of the year. So I thought I'd share the recipe here! Roast quinces....a revelation...

Char-grilled venison with roast quince and an Autumnal salad

Roast quince is my new favourite thing. It goes beautifully with venison and makes the below salad extra special. Thanks to my hero Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for this idea; my recipe is slightly adapted from the one he published in the excellent book ‘River Cottage Fruit’.

Serve this for lunch or dinner with a warm baguette, some nice cultured butter and a chunk of crumbly cheddar. What a meal. Serves 6.

For the venison

1 x Mandagery Creek Venison backstrap or 2 x tenderloins (all up you want about 1kg of fillet)

To cook the venison; rub first with olive oil and season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Let it come to room temperature before cooking. Heat the barbecue or a grill plate to high and sear for 4 minutes on each side then let rest under a tent of foil for at least five minutes.

For the roast quince
about 1 kg quinces

A handful of thyme sprigs
2 large rosemary sprigs
4 fresh bay leaves

150mls apple juice

20g butter

2 tbsp verjus

2 tbsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Wash then quarter and core the quinces and arrange in a roasting tray. Scatter over the herbs, then add apple juice, dot with the butter and finish with a sprinkle of verjus and the sugar. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 45 minutes. Remove foil, give everything a good toss around then finish off with a further 30 minutes. Serve warm.

For the salad

2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and finely chopped

1/2 red cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 cup tarragon leaves
2 cups baby spinach leaves

Seeds from one pomegranate
1/2 cup hazlenuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Dressing - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

Make the salad simply by combining all ingredients on a large platter (but reserve a little pomegranate and hazlenut to sprinkle over the salad just before serving). Mix together the dressing in a large jar and shake to combine.

To assemble:

While the meat is resting, dress the salad, mixing everything together with your fingertips. Slice meat across the grain then arrange on top of your salad. Add the warm quinces and finish with a final sprinkle of reserved pomegranate seeds and chopped hazlenuts.

Main course was venison osso buco with creamy mash. The recipe for this simple but delicious meal is in my book! And here too...

So after wrapping up The Moveable Feast, we cleaned the farm kitchen and ourselves before heading in to the Ross Hill Winery for a very special dinner celebrating 20 years of Ross Hill Wines. Chefs Martin Boetz and Alex Herbet came together under their Bird Cow Tree umbrella to create a menu of seasonal produce (with a main of our venison!) and it really was a wonderful event.

Contratulations to the Robson family of Ross Hill Wines for reaching this milestone - your wines are incredible and we are proud to know and count you all as friends.

Look at those beautiful Mandagery Creek Venison racks! Just out of the oven, they were doused in a sage butter before being rested then plated up with red cabbage and a spread of seasonal salads.

The following week we participated in the annual Country Style Producers' lunch hosted by the Orange Regional Farmers Market. I was there with my book (thank you so much to everyone who came along and picked up a copy!) and Tim was behind the barbecue cooking venison for the main meal. It was, as always, a really great day celebrating the food of our region and people behind it.

That same day we moved on to dinner at The Agrestic Grocer and one of my favourite nights in a long time - an event celebrating my book's release at The Agrestic Grocer. That's me with the AG's wonderful/clever/hard-working Katie Baddock. With her husband Beau and partners Lucas and Danielle Martin, these guys run a unique business that is supporting us local producers like nobody else I know and doing it with great style too. Thank you guys for all you do, and for putting on such a wonderful night!

Our last event of F.O.O.D Week 2014 was the epic, incredible Forage walk. This year just over 1000 people walked through vineyards and orchards across the Nashdale valley and stopped along the way to eat and drink the best that we as a region could offer. Mandagery Creek Venison with Printhie and Zinga wines was station 1 and we had a ball serving up 1000 little canapes of our brand new venison prosciutto, poached quince and hazlenut dukkah. And the best thing about being the first station? Once we'd fed everyone, we could weave our way through the vines down to the main course set up and join in the fun.

So with F.O.O.D Week now over for another year, we can all take a moment to breathe, relax and reflect on how lucky we all are to be a part of this incredible event. So much hard work goes into bringing it together and we are very grateful to the volunteers that make it happen. Particularly this year's F.O.O.D Week president James Sweetapple of Cargo Road Wines. James you are an inspiration!

To join us at next year's F.O.O.D Week, keep an eye on this website and better yet, join as a social member so you don't miss out on tickets for any event!

Buns in the oven


Yesterday we made our first batch of hot cross buns. It was time. And they were delicious.

Making any kind of yeasted, sweet, sticky buns is cooking nirvana for me. The way the dough feels, the kitchen smells and the end results taste - it really is my idea of a good time. So yesterday Alice, her cousin Grace and I hit the kitchen. The girls helped measure out the ingredients then knead, pipe and glaze, and the whole process put us all in a warm/fuzzy/Easter-y mood. In case you feel like a spot of aimless baking's our recipe.

Cocoa and spice hot cross buns

This is a fairly sticky dough so it helps if you have a mixer with a dough hook. Otherwise of course you can knead the dough by hand but prepared to get a little bit messy!

4 cups plain flour
4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar

1/3 cup best quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Herbies ‘sweet spice dust’ mix (this stuff is amazing) or mixed spice
pinch of salt
1 cup currants
40g butter
300ml milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the flour mix - about 1/2 cup plain flour and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, cocoa, spices, salt and currants in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook or just a large bowl. Then place the butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter has melted into the milk. Remove from heat and let cool a little (you want the mixture to be lukewarm). Add the milk and butter mixture to the dry ingredients then pour in the eggs.

Knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and elastic (but still a little sticky). Or tip mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. If using the electric mixer, still finish up with a few minutes kneading by hand. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until it has almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the dough into 12 even-sized pieces (this is fun for the kids to do), and place them about 1cm apart on a tray lined with baking paper, leave to rest again for 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, make the flour paste by just mixing together the flour and spice mix (or cinnamon) and just enough water to make a thick paste. Spoon this into a piping bag or plastic sandwich bag and snip off the bottom corner. Once the buns have rested, pipe crosses on each. Your buns are now ready for the oven!

They should take between 30/35 minutes to cook but check after 30 (the buns will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Towards the end of the cooking time, make the glaze by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring often, and cook for a few minutes until you have a nice syrup happening. Brush the buns with sugar syrup as soon as they come out of the oven and they are done! We had these yesterday with just a smear of butter and cups of tea and hot chocolate. Makes 12.

The Friday List on Monday


I'm so sorry about this three-day-late Friday List! It's been a ridiculous couple of days, actually, couple of weeks for us here.

Orange's regional food festival F.O.O.D Week wrapped up on the weekend; there was the launch of my book (available here!) and the whole end of school term/Easter bonnet parade/sports carnival thing... all up I just dropped the ball on anything computer-related.

So yes. I'm a few days late with the Friday List, but last night did enjoy spending a quiet hour or so catching up with some of my favourite blogs and websites and plotting what to cook these holidays and coming Easter long weekend. Here are some favourites so far...

Now that  F.O.O.D Week is now over, I am feeling the need to get back into the kitchen and get baking again. Starting with these Swedish chocolate cakes or perhaps these black sesame macarons with a 'nutter butter filling'. And definitely a baked almond pancake with strawberries and citrus.

Very keen to make Karen Martini's slow-baked lamb with garam masala for Easter Sunday (does anyone slow cook a lamb like Karen?!).

Kidspot has released the most fantastic Easter flipbook full of easy and cute Easter recipes and crafts. Plus my very easy/low fi bunny pikelets (pictured above!).

'Soft and sweet buttermilk honey bread'? You had me at hello.

It's a very good thing for my bank account that this unbelievably beautiful store is located on the other side of the world. Holy moly. So stunning.

Sunday Collector's Easter craft looks good and easy enough to try this week...

Salted cocoa nutella cupcakes? I think so.

I can't get over the gorgeousness that is Babes in Boyland. Particularly this post...Fika anyone?

Flowers and their loved ones...hello eye candy.

I really enjoyed this little chat between one of my all time favourite food heroes, Ruth aka Gourmet Girlfriend and the always lovely Wholehearted Journal

Armchair travel - and off we go to Peru's Chinchero market. Stunning photography by Olivia Rae James.

Petals over Costa Rica - these images are so beautiful.

Oh hang it.


And now for something completely different.

A few weeks ago I printed some big posters for my book's launch celebrations. After a few enquiries about selling them, I thought it couldn't hurt to try! So ... here goes nothing.

Bright, affordable, a bit of fun, I think of these as wall candy. The posters cost $100 each, are printed on thick coated paper to AO size (841 × 1189) and come as a limited run of 10 copies for each image.

So if you have a wall that needs some love and are working on a limited budget, please pop over here and see what you think! And note that I can supply the prints framed or unframed. More prints will be added to the store in coming weeks.

This Way Please - This arrow points drivers down a windy road near our farm. I took it on my way to interview a wool classer in the middle of last year's shearing season.

Flower show - Bright, beautiful and happy to sit or hang in any special corner, this photograph shows the 2014 flower display at my favourite country show in Rydal NSW (also available unframed for $65).

Fawn at the window - Meet J'amai, the poddy fawn living in our garden. Unfairly named by my husband Tim, she really is sweet. Despite the fact that she is eating her way through every growing thing in the garden.

Almond blossoms - Last August we visited an almond orchard just out of Griffith NSW. The trees were in full blossom and it was like entering some kind of fairy land. This photo takes me back there.

Take a seat - To me this picture is classic country show - the folding chairs, the stage ready for Miss Showgirl's crowning and of course, the proudly strung flag. I took this at the 2014 Rydal Show.

Big thank you to my clever buddy Addy Nuthall whose living room and legs appear in all of the above pictures. Addy is the Young-based interior designer behind Pink Jam Trading. She is one of the coolest ladies I know and just the person to call if ever you feel the need for a bit of an interiors spruce-up (she does everything from whole houses to rooms and even just a fancy new chair).

David Ogilvy - Chestnut Grower


What David Ogilvy doesn't know about growing chestnuts isn't worth bothering with. David has been growing these prickly little blighters for over 40 years and over time has developed an orchard of thoughtfully grafted, carefully curated trees perfectly adapted to their cool climate.

The Ogilvy's first began growing chestnuts here in Mullion Creek (just out of Orange) in 1976 and now their 500 trees produce some of Australia's best. From 'buche de betizac to de coppi marrone', David selects, grafts, re-grafts, studies and nurtures his trees so that each one is productive, healthy and happy in its environment.

I visited the Ogilvy's orchard; Brittle Jack's Chestnuts a couple of years ago and on returning last week, was kicking myself for not heading out here more often. The orchard is quite beautiful, there's a great picnic spot and David and Margaret love having visitors. From families to big groups (they welcome many busloads of Italian visitors every season), you can come out, collect your fill of chestnuts then stick around for a picnic and a chat. It really is one of the coolest, most fun 'farm gate' experiences I know of.

If keen to head out, just call them on 02 6365 8353 and make an appointment (though don't dawdle as the season ends in the third week of April, give or take). Oh, and wear thick-soled shoes as the chestnut conkers (or casings) are pretty prickly.

How to prepare chestnuts

There are a few schools of thought about this; but really it depends on what you are using the nuts for. Whichever of the below methods you choose, just start by scoring a cross onto the flat 'face' of the nut so it doesn't explode while cooking. Apparently you can microwave them but David isn't a fan of this method so neither am I. Lots more information sourcing, selecting, preparing, storing and cooking chestnuts can be found on Chestnuts Australia's website.


This is the go if you are using your nuts to thicken a soup/stew, or if the nuts will be pureed at all. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the nuts and let them bubble away for about 20 minutes.  Drain, wrap in a tea towel and as soon as you can handle the heat, peel away the outer layer then the inner 'skin'.


This is the method I usually go for when preparing chestnuts for a casserole like the one above, to finely chop for cakes or just to eat sliced with some figs and grapes for dessert. The result is creamy, smooth and just delicious. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place scored chestnuts on a tray and bake for 20 minutes or until the shell splits at the cross.  Remove from the oven, wrap in a tea towel and as soon as you can handle the heat, peel away the outer layer then the inner 'skin'.

Roasting, grilling or barbecueing

Great fun if you are camping or just having an Autumnal barbie, this method is easy but just takes a bit of turning and timing. Place the scored chestnuts on a fire-proof plate or pan and cook, turning often, until the shell splits at the cross (about half an hour).  Remove from heat, wrap in a tea towel and as soon as you can handle the heat, peel away the outer layer then the inner 'skin'.

Venison braised in verjus with chestnuts and pine mushrooms

I am ridiculously excited about this recipe. It's a real amalgamation of some of my favourite Autumn flavours, and one of my favourite new recipes. Plus, it uses almost entirely local (to us) ingredients, from our own venison to mushrooms from my mother-in-law Judith's garden, the Ogilvy's chestnuts, Orange Mountain Verjuis, onions and aromatics from The Agrestic Grocer.

Braising the venison in verjus delivers a light, tangy casserole, the chestnuts are sweet and creamy and the mushrooms a wonderful addition of texture, flavour and colour (though regular brown ones would also be beautiful here too). Of course if you can’t source venison, veal or beef shin or shoulder would also work a treat. Serves 6.

About 1 kg venison shoulder, diced into 4cm cubes
1/4 cup plain flour
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 handful combined woody herbs (I use a mixture of rosemary, thyme and a few bay leaves)
1 1/2 cup verjus
1 cup veal stock
3 cups pine or brown mushrooms (thinly sliced)
10-12 chestnuts, (baked then peeled)

Preheat the oven to 120C. Toss the diced venison with the flour and season to taste. Heat half of the olive oil in a large, heavy based frying pan on high and brown the meat, in batches, on each side. Set meat aside, reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining olive oil. Cook the onion, carrot, celery and herbs, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and the onion translucent.

Pour in the verjus, stock and mushrooms. Return the venison to the pan, add the chestnuts and cover with a lid and cook in preheated oven for 4-6 hours. Gently reheat and serve with creamy mash.

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