The Friday List


After coveting the above book for some weeks, I've finally forked out for a copy of Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann, and it truly is one of the loveliest cook books I've come across. Every single recipe; from buttermilk buns to kringle and Nordic spelt focaccia with fruit and nuts, has been flagged for future baking; the photography is stunning and Trine's approach to baking with a variety of flours and grains is really floating my boat. This is my kind of food.

In other news...Tim is on his way to Sydney for tomorrow's Northside Produce Market, so if you are in that neck of the woods, please visit him, say hi and stock up on our beautiful Mandagery Creek Venison. Otherwise, have a great weekend and happy reading! Sophiex

This weekend I'd love to make and share this rhubarb and rosemary syllabub from Farmette, this mango, chili rice salad from Happy Yolks, this pull-apart baklava bread from Sprinkle Bakes and these fig bars from Sprouted Kitchen.

Lots of great ideas in here for yummy and healthy lunches.

I'd quite like a few of these ricotta fritters with chocolate and orange sauce right about now.

And this Greek yogurt, olive oil and orange blossom cake looks pretty incredible too.

If you are in Sydney this weekend and share a love of talking, reading and sharing great food; check out the Food and Words festival, on tomorrow. The line up of speakers and participating chefs is fantastic. Some spots are still available.

Here are some new blog finds of this week - all of them a rabbit hole of good reads and beautiful things to make, look at and be inspired by...

Blogging over Thyme
The Moon Blush Baker
The Vintage Mixer
The Sugar Hit
Eat in My Kitchen

Food photography and styling workshop


Photo by Luisa Brimble

Save the date! In collaboration with the wonderful Luisa Brimble, photographer and founder of Alphabet Journal and super-stylist Stephanie Stamatis (aka Stephanie Somebody), I am so thrilled to announce the first ever Local is Lovely food photography and styling workshop this coming November 19/20.

Loads more information will be posted here on Monday - including booking information, course outline, price and so on, but I just couldn't wait any longer to start sharing what will be a really amazing couple of days.

The location is 'Kimbri', Rydal, (my Mum, artist Annie Herron's studio and where she holds her regular residential art workshops), and we'll cover everything from hands on styling and photography sessions to photography basics, a lesson on illustrating recipes from Annie Herron (Mum!), a field trip to a local organic market garden and even how to build a social media presence that resonates. We are going to eat well, learn lots, play with pretty things in a beautiful setting, meet new people and have a wonderful time.

There are only 13 places available for this overnight workshop (plus a few spots for 'day students'!) so if interested, please check back in here on Monday for more information. Whoop.

Two for Tuesday


This is a new little thing; every Tuesday I thought I'd dig back into the Local is Lovely archives for seasonal recipes posted this month but in years past - and that are worth revisiting and making. Today it's a beautiful passionfruit curd by Jocie Chapman and slow cooked lamb wraps we made this time last year on holiday in Queensland. No such trip this year, no such luck. But at least we can relive the flavours! Happy Tuesday lovelies.

Sunday best


Yesterday we had a picnic at my favourite place on the farm; a little valley not too far from our house, which at the moment, is draped in soft green grass and snake-free. It was just us, a few friends, a quiche and some sausages on the grill. And it was, as J'amai would say, totally quiche.

At this time of year, the valley is sliced by a bubbling creek which falls into an overgrown waterhole (which, unfortunately runs dry during summer), and it's surrounded by naturally formed rock walls and one rocky rise. There's plenty of shade, low-hanging tree limbs to climb, old bones to collect, mud to fall in and places to hide. Basically, it's kid heaven.

Zucchini and parmesan quiche

This is the simplest of tarts, but it tastes good and does look quite pretty if you fan the slices into a pattern. I'd usually serve it with a spicy tomato chutney or relish but forgot both yesterday so we made do with a radish and rocket salad and sausages from the hot plate. Also, you could of course, swap the zucchinis with any other soft vegetable you have in the garden or fridge (asparagus and/or peas would be nice). 

Shortcrust pastry

400g plain flour
1 tsp salt
200g butter, diced
1/3 cup iced water
1 tsp salt

Measure out the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and place in the freezer for half an hour. Then tip the lot into the bowl of a food processor, add the iced water and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Turn this out to a lightly floured bench and bring together with the heel of both hands until you have a smooth dough.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly dusted work surface and roll out the pastry until about 5mm thick. Gently drape into a loose-bottomed tart tin, trim the edges and wrap excess pastry in plastic (once rested for half an hour or so, you can roll it out to make another small tart. Prick the base of your tart a few times with a fork then line with baking paper and cover with either baking weights or dried beans. Let rest again in the fridge for 30 minutes. Blind bake for 10 minutes, remove weights and paper, and return to oven for another 10 minutes.

For the filling

4 fresh, free-range eggs
1/2 cup cream
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper
1 zucchini, sliced thinly

Whisk the eggs, cream, lemon zest and cheese together and season to taste. Pour this mixture into the tart shell then arrange the zucchini slices on top. Gently place tart back in the oven for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve warm.

The Friday List and Spring favourites


With spring well and truly having sprung, I thought I'd preface this week's Friday List with a little round-up of favourite Spring recipes from my book. If you don't yet have a copy, you can order directly from me (here's the link) or pick it up at good bookshops around the traps. And if you already have one, and haven't yet tried these recipes, please do give them a go. The goat's curd fritters, above left are on my radar for tonight...maybe with a glass of nice cold Orange chardonnay. Oh yes.

So clockwise from top we have; honey granola (pg 32), white chocolate bonet (pg 35), goat's cheese fritters (pg 19) and honey and apple mint ice cream (pg 37).

Clockwise from top right; warm lamb cutlets with pesto and creme fraiche, classic lemon curd (pg 52), honey and harissa chicken legs with minted yogurt sauce (pg 31) and a market salad with fresh feta (pg 23).

This weekend, for the first time in ages, we are home with no major commitments, no travel for markets,  no lunches at the farm kitchen. Just two whole days to stay home and enjoy a (hopefully) beautiful spring weekend on the farm. Hope you all have a nice, restful couple of days too.

Yes!! Go Matt Wilkinson. His latest journal entry is spot on. Reading this from a producers' point of view I almost clapped to my computer, and particularly loved his tip to fellow chefs that '...putting a named product on your menu when you’re not using it is not cool'. It's happened to us and it really isn't cool. Phew. Moving on...

And lets start with maple cream. Never made it before but after these pics and this recipe, am thinking it'll be first cab off the kitchen rank tomorrow.

This looks like a pretty perfect weekend away. 

I'd love to think I was the kind of Mum who wrote cute themed postcards for my kids' lunchboxes every day. This post has inspired me to give it a go. 

I'm contemplating joining the green smoothie gang, and am even more pumped to get started thanks to this bunch of recipes.

Oh I love festivals that celebrate food cultures and traditions. Like the feste delle salsicce I wrote about this week, and this Basque food festival held every year in Bilbao; Aste Nagusia. A gorgeous post from Beyond the Plate.

Only a couple of months till cherry season! Whoop. Bookmarking this recipe for December. 

New blog finds this week; What should I eat for breakfast today, the Clever Carrot and Half Baked Harvest. All absolute crackers.

Can never go past a new granola bar recipe, and this one looks the goods.

Salted chocolate, raspberry and pistachio pots - wowsers.

Planning to make a batch of these honey and olive oil zucchini muffins as soon as seasonally possible.

Feste delle salsicce 2014


Griffith’s Feste delle salsicce is my idea of the perfect weekend. And not because I’m a greedy guts who loves the idea of eating salami all weekend (much), but because this day, to me, is what life is all about - fun, music, friends, noise, community, wine and a shared table of simple, tasty food.

Tim and I went to the feste last year and loved the experience, so vowed to go back the following year with friends. Then in January this year I received a call from one Roy Catanzariti, who, as I wrote last year, is the festival’s co-founder and main man (though, as he points out often, he couldn’t do it without the feste’s hard working committee). Roy was calling to ask if I’d consider being a judge this year.

I was on speaker phone and Tim spluttered with laughter. But despite my complete lack of experience in smallgood judging, I defied his scoffs said yes immediately.

The day finally came and I drove south with an empty car and stomach. Tim to follow later that day, catching a ride with friends joining us for the feste lunch on Sunday. I arrived at the specified location, a restaurant in east Griffith well signposted and already overflowing with noise, and Roy greeted me (at 10am) with a glass of shiraz and a gesture to take my seat. He’d placed me with seasoned judges who thankfully, were gracious in the face of my ignorance and generous with their advice. The fellow next to me, one John Casella of Yellow Tail wine, only one of Australia’s most famous wine exports, is an expert in making salami (and, wine of course) and had loads of great tips. These included, but were not limited to;
  • A good homemade salami should have a creamy consistency. It shouldn’t be too soft though, this is a sign it hasn’t cured properly or enough.
  • The texture should be consistent with an even distribution of fat.
  • Dark salamis aren’t necessariily flawed, this could be a sign that the maker hasn’t used any preservatives so don’t taste with just your eyes.
  • Use of garlic should be careful; the flavour can completely dominate a salami. If used, it should be sparingly.
  • Colour should be nice and pink and consistent from the rind to the centre of each slice. 

The morning played on. Wine was poured, many many trays of salami were passed around, the piano accordion rang out and old southern Italian tunes were sung and loudly. On the panel were a few other ‘out-of-towners’ including a Sydney cardiologist who has been visiting patients in Griffith for decades, and many of his best customers were in this very room! Then there were the local judges, each representing different regions in Southern Italy, from Calabria to Abruzzi and Sicily.

Later that day, relived of our salami responsibility, I waddled off to meet Tim and our friends who'd just arrived. We cruised around town, and I was introduced to the wonderful world of Geocaching  (thank you Kate and James - my muggle days are over) and then we finished off with pizza at Romeo e Juliettas that night.

Sunday morning we visited the weekly farmers market and picked up pastries (for our breakfast in the blood orange grove) plus fresh pecans, oranges, artichokes and other greens.

The festival itself, as I said earlier, was everything a good day should be; full of conviviality, good food, music and fun. I admit that it took me a few too many days to recover from all that food and wine but it was absolutely worth it. We came home feeling rather like we'd just revisited our Sicilian honeymoon of nine years ago, and have already committed to going back next year. Tickets aren't yet on sale for the 2015 feste but if keen to come, check with the Griffith information centre and they'll help you out. See you there!

Breakfast with Red Belly Citrus


A couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Griffith for the annual feste delle salsicce, (which I'll blog about on Wednesday), but also to visit our friends from Red Belly Citrus and stock up on blood oranges. This citrus fruit is a favourite ingredient in our house; we love colour and flavour and also how good they are for us. Not only are blood oranges high in vitamin C but also the kind of antioxidants that have made red wine and dark chocolate more justifiable than ever.

I'm also pretty partial to the family behind Red Belly Citrus. Led by cousins Vito, Anthony and Len Mancini, this family business has taken a graft from their grandfathers' backgarden in Griffith and developed a significant, and growing orchard of blood orange trees. Tim and I visited them last year, then had the good fortune of standing next to Len and his wife Ruth for three days at a recent trade show in Hong Kong. And while I'm sure they could recite our spiel about the health benefits and great taste of our Mandagery Creek Venison, we are likewise now more clued up than ever about what makes their blood oranges so special.

So when it came time to return to Griffith, I called Vito Mancini to see if we could possibly prevail on the family again, and bring some friends this time. And so it was, that we held a pre-feste festa in the orchard.

And as these things sometimes turn out - it was also a morning when everyone brought something to the table; Vito of course, contributed the oranges. Our friends from Orange, James and Chrissy Robson of Ross Hill Wines, (above), brought a bottle of their vintage brut. Kate and James McKay from Collector, NSW brought the ceramic tumblers that Kate makes in her ceramics studio there (above), while we contributed a few of our new venison salamis.

It was the best. And while we were at first reluctant to mix such a special sparkling wine with anything; freshly squeezed blood oranges, straight from the tree, were deemed acceptable. The combination turned out to be a winner, with the acidity of the juice and the rich creamy flavour profile of the wine a great match. We ate freshly baked pastries from the Griffith farmers market and drank beautiful juice and wine out of handmade cups.

Blood oranges are in season now until late November and you can find Red Belly Citrus at fruit shops and markets around Australia or via Farmhouse Direct.

Blood orange sherbert

Tangy,  light and absolutely bursting with flavour; this is possibly one of the yummiest things I've made all year. Sherbert is my new favourite. Essentially a sorbet but churned with milk, it's a much healthier option for custard-based ice cream and really worth trying. I based this recipe on one given for lemon sherbert in Alice Waters' wonderful book The Art of Simple Food.

225mls blood orange juice
450mls water
1 cup caster sugar
finely grated zest of one blood orange
175mls milk

Combine the orange juice, water, sugar and zest in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, then whisk in the milk. Transfer mixture to an ice cream machine and churn according to your machine's instructions. Serve with sponge fingers or almond bread.

 Blood Orange and dark chocolate almond loaf

Almond cakes are the best kind; they're rich in flavour and stay moist for ages. Throw some tangy blood orange and bitter dark chocolate into the mix and you have one great cake on/in your hands. The idea for this recipe came from a sticky orange and vanilla upside-down cake in Donna Hay's Seasons book. I've tweaked it a little, added the chocolate etc, but the basic concept is the same. Thanks Donna!

Also, if you have enough ingredients; I'd double this recipe. It's no extra bother really to make two, and one of these loaves, wrapped in baking paper and tied with string, makes a great impromptu gift for that friend who helped you out last week or just someone who might need a kind gesture to lift their mood. The recipe below makes one loaf.

4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour (I like using wholemeal, you could also go for spelt)
1 tsp baking powder
150g melted butter
1 cup almond meal (it's great if you can make your own meal using fresh, natural almonds - the flavour will be loads more intense than if you use ready-processed almond meal. Just tip a cup of almonds into your blender or food processor and blitz)
3/4 cup best quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

For the topping
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 blood (or other) oranges, very thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 160C and grease either a 24cm cake tin or a large loaf tin (mine is 20cmx12cm). For the topping; combine the sugar, water and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the orange slices and simmer for about 15 minutes or until they are completely soft. Arrange the slices on the base of your loaf or cake tin and then pour in the syrup.

For the cake batter; combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and trippled in volume. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Then gently fold in the butter, almond meal and dark chocolate.

Spoon batter into the cake or loaf tin, smooth over the top and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Let rest for about 5 minutes then turn out onto a platter (to catch all that yummy syrup) and serve.

Blood orange jellies

Since discovering the world of making our own gummy sweets at home (via Hannah of the Perthville Pantry), I've been experimenting with lots of different flavour combinations, and sweeteners and this is my current favourite. 

1/2 cup blood orange juice
Juice of one lemon
3 tbsp maple syrup (or to taste)
2 tbsp grass-fed gelatin (on Hannah's recommendation, I use Great Lakes Gelatin, a grass-fed product that can be ordered here.)

Combine the juices and maple syrup in a small saucepan and bring just to boiling point. Remove from heat, whisk in the gelatin then pour mixture into silicone ice cube moulds. Let set in the fridge for half an hour or so before popping them out. Store in the fridge for a few days.

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