The Friday list and our last market


As some of our regulars might know, tomorrow's market (North Sydney) will be our last (for the forseeable future at least!). After over 10 years selling Mandagery Creek Venison at farmers markets, we are making some changes and somewhat reluctantly, evolving with some new retail opportunities. The whole Hansen family has loved our our time at the markets and will miss all our lovely regulars greatly but it's time to hand our space over to the next person.

Thank you so very much to all our regulars, you have become great friends over the years and we'll miss seeing you all every couple of weeks. Thank you also to Tim's family for helping out at the stand over the years, and all those early mornings! We have some exciting plans for Mandagery Creek Venison come 2015 so watch this space, but those still wanting to purchase our venison at the Northside and Pyrmont markets can still do so via our friends at Trunkey Creek Pork. Just call Tim on 0417 488 619, place your order and we'll pack it up and send it down to pick up at the Trunkey Creek stand.

The Friday List

This is also my last Friday List for 2014, I hope you've enjoyed discovering new blogs, sites, recipes and foods here and look forward to sharing much more next year. In the meantime, happy reading!

365 Docobites is such a fantastic project. An Australian couple is travelling the world creating mini documentaries, one for every day of the year, and they are all fascinating. 

A new favourite blog; the Crepes of Wrath, is definitely one to bookmark

Coconut, caramel, stuffed chocolate, covered preztels. Oh yes indeed.

Give yourself a bit of time to get to know Life & Thyme - I just stumbled across this site yesterday and am hooked. So many stories, so many recipes, so much goodness. Love it.

My Blue and White Kitchen makes saffron knots with almond and orange filling. Now I want to too.

This cranberry, pine mocktail would be great for Christmas morning but with red currants. Don't you think?

Yummo, cinnamon, granola chocolate bars...and/or cranberry ricotta and pistachio scrolls. Oh how I love a scroll.

And to finish this Christmas-baking-drinking-fest; a batch of spiced pecan linzer cookies please.

Homemade Christmas - Raspberry Vinegar Cordial


My parents-in-law Judith and Andrew live about 20 minutes away from us, just at the foot of Mt Canobolas and have the most beautiful garden. In it grows a bank of raspberry canes which right now are heavy with intensely flavoured fruit.

Tim’s Dad Andrew, a retired vet and deer farmer (he began our journey with Mandagery Creek Venison some 30 years ago) isn’t usually one to be found in the kitchen but at this time of year he does get his apron and makes a few batches of this raspberry vinegar cordial.

With memories of his grandmother Annie making the same for him as a boy, he has been experimenting with recipes that mirror hers and has finally cracked it. Thank you so much Andrew for letting us share it here!

I’d actually never tried raspberry vinegar cordial before. Raspberry vinegar yes, as a condiment but not as a drink and was really pleasantly surprised. The result is sweet and fruity but balanced with the vinegar’s acidity and beautifully refreshing served over loads of crushed ice and mineral water.

If you are lucky enough to have raspberries growing at home, do try this recipe, it's a lovely and different way to preserve them. They are also a pretty good price right now at the shops so the rest of us can still have a go too! Thank you Andrew for sharing this ‘family’ recipe! Can we add some vodka on Christmas day!??

Raspberry Vinegar Cordial

600gm raspberries
2kg white sugar
2 litres white vinegar (the best you can get - half white vinegar and half verjus would also be nice)

Wash the raspberries then drain and place in a large bowl. Add the vinegar and beat together until the mixture becomes a rough slush. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for a day or two (not in the fridge). 

Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve or muslin bag, extracting as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a saucepan and bring mixture to a boil, add the sugar and whisk to combine. Boil for five minutes then divide between sterilised bottles and immediately seal. Makes about three litres.

Farm Kitchen, December


Last weekend we hosted our final Farm Kitchen lunch for 2014. As always, our guests were a collective delight and we shared a really fun farm tour and meal together. And as always, the menu was simple and seasonal. Here it is below, with recipes too. Thank you so much to everyone who supported us at the markets and Farm Kitchen this year, we have loved feeding and getting to know you all! Our event calendar for 2015 is almost finished with a new booking system on its way too. This will go live on Monday December 29 and we have some really fantastic events, collaborations and workshops in the pipeline so watch this space!

December 2014 Farm Kitchen Menu

Sweet potato and caramelised onion tarts/
Spiced venison and cherry carpaccio/
Prosciutto-wrapped venison with feta and walnut bean salad, beetroot relish and crispy potatoes/
Squash braised in garlic and tomato/
Brown sugar pavlovas with roasted apricots and apple mint custard/

Sweet potato and caramelised onion tarts

These tarts are a great little appetiser, especially with a chilled glass of bubbles! Makes 8 small tarts (see picture).

1 cup sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup pouring cream
2 eggs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper to taste
8 small tart shells*(see note)

Preheat oven to 190C. Toss the sweet potato with a tablespoon of the little olive oil and place on a roasting tray, pop this into the oven for 25 minutes or until the potato is cooked through and just beginning to caramelise around the edges.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil a frying pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are completely collapsed and golden brown (this will take about 15 minutes).

Whisk together the cream, egg, cheese and seasoning and set aside. Place the tart shells on a baking tray then divide the roasted sweet potato and caramelised onion up between them. Carefully pour in the cream mixture, filling the tart shells up about 3/4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and just firm to touch.

*Note - you can make this extra easy and buy good pre-made shortcrust tart shells or make your own pastry (here’s my recipe).

Spiced venison carpaccio with cherries, horseradish cream and thyme

Possibly my favourite way to serve and share our venison, this simple carpaccio is just beautiful. You could swap the fresh cherries with pickled ones or even wedges of ripe figs. On Saturday we served it with a garlic baguette but any crunchy bread would be great too.

400g Mandagery Creek Venison tenderloin or leg piece
1 tbsp pink peppercorns
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Salt to taste
2 tbsp horseradish cream
1/3 cup creme fraiche
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and torn in half
1/2 cup shaved pecorino or parmesan cheese
Thyme (to serve)

Combine the spices and salt in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Cook until fragrant and just beginning to pop then crush mixture in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Rub this mixture over the tenderloin and set meat aside for a moment.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a frying pan over high heat then add the meat and brown on each side for a minute on each side. Let rest under a tent of foil. Then mix the horsedradish cream and creme fraiche together with a squeeze of lemon to taste. Slice the meat thinly and place on a serving plate. Top with the cherries, shaved pecorino, creme fraiche mix and thyme. Beautiful. Serves 4.

Proscuitto-wrapped venison 

As venison is such a tender, lean meat - we think that by far the best way to cook it is quickly and over a high heat. The barbecue is ideal for this. Today we wrapped striploins in prosciutto and rubbed them with olive oil before cooking for five minutes on each side. We then let the meat rest before serving it with the side dishes and relish, recipes below.

 Beetroot and fennel relish

Just perfect with venison, this mellow, sweet relish is also great with barbecued steaks or lamb chops and keeps for ages. Make an extra batch for Christmas and give a few jars away as presents. Just remember to serve this warm or at room temperature - cold chutney is the worst. Makes 4 cups

1.25kg beetroot
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 green apple, unpeeled, grated
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds, dry toasted

Place the beetroot, sugar, red wine vinegar, onion, apple, salt, pepper and fennel in a large saucepan over medium and stir well. Bring to the boil and cook for half an hour or until the mixture is lovely and syrupy. Divide between sterilized jars.

Bean salad with walnuts and feta

This is a fantastic salad, and as it can be made entirely in advance and served cool, it’s perfect for big lunches or dinners when you want most of the prep done before the main event. The idea comes from a recipe printed in this month’s Country Style magazine and written by Annie Smithers. Serves 6-8.

3 cups green beans, trimmed
1 cup walnut kernels, roasted and roughly chopped
3 baby cornichons, finely chopped
1 tsp capers, finely chopped
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp chervil, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsely, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
250g marinated feta, crumbled

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, throw in the beans and cook for three minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water, or better yet, plunge into an ice bath (this will keep their colour and crunch nicely). Set beans aside while you make the dressing. To do this, just mix together the cornichons, capers, herbs lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste (remember the cornichons, capers and feta are all quite salty so you probably won’t need to add any/much salt). Just before serving, mix together the beans, dressing, walnuts and feta and toss to combine.

Garlic and tomato braised squash 

My favourite way to serve this vegetable, which by the way, in our part of the world at least, is super cheap at the moment and really delicious, this is summer in a bowl to me. Great as a side dish, or if you chop the squash and zucchini a little more finely, tossed with fresh pasta. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 8 as a side dish.

4 fat cloves of new season Australian garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 yellow squash, cut into eighths
3 zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp finely chopped fresh red chilli
One lemon
One handful of fresh basil leaves

Combine garlic and olive oil in a heavy-based pan over medium-high heat. Cook for a minute or until garlic is just becoming fragrant, add the squash, zucchini and cherry tomatoes and stir well. Cook, stirring often for five minutes or until the squash is soft and cooked through. Remove from heat, stir in a squeeze of lemon, the fresh chilli and top with a handful of fresh basil leaves.

Crispy potato bake with thyme

2kg sebago potatoes, unpeeled
1 bunch thyme leaves
Olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200C and grease one large or two small gratin or roasting tins. Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (we use a mandolin - carefully!). Arrange in layers in the prepared tin or tins, sprinkling with sea salt and thyme leaves as you go. Drizzle with olive oil then pop in the oven for an hour or until golden and crunchy. Just before serving, drizzle with a little extra oil and season with freshly ground pepper. Serves 8

Brown sugar pavlovas with toffee, roasted apricots and custard

6 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 130C and line two baking trays with paper. Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until white and frothy. Add the sugar, a little at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. Whisk for another few minutes then spoon mixture in large rounds onto prepared tray. Place in the oven for 45 minutes then turn oven off and leave in there to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

For the baked apricots

Halve a kilo or so of apricots and remove the kernels. Arrange on a tray and sprinkle with caster sugar and drizzle lightly with verjuice or sweet white wine. Roast until the apricots are completely collapsed and just beginning to caramelise.

For the custard and toffee

3/4 cup caster sugar

For the toffee, pour the sugar into a saucepan over medium high heat. Line a tray with baking paper and scatter it with the almonds. Swirl the sugar around until it melts and turns into a lovely golden syrup. Once all the sugar is dissolved pour over the almonds, swirling until you have a large disc of toffee. Let set and then break into shards.

For the custard, I used this recipe but stopped before churning the custard into ice cream! The apple mint is a gorgeous, fresh addition but you could certainly leave it out. 

Christmas recipes


Christmas is by far and away my favourite time of year, and it's also the time when, as much as possible, I hit the kitchen and cook just for the pure pleasure of it, and for the people I love. Here are some favourite Christmas recipes from the blog's archives, I hope you get the chance to try one or two in the next 10 days!

Christmas pudding
Cherry cordial
Vanille Kranse
Spiced fruit scrolls and vanilla roast berries for Christmas breakfast
Shortbread hearts
Jocie Chapman's pistachio shortbreads
Michael Manners' mince pies 
Adelaide Harris's panpepato
Kathy Snowball's meringue and strawberry mess
Christmas cake, recipe from Racine Bakery

The Friday List


Have a wonderful weekend everyone, I hope it is calm and bright and free of scary shopping centres. And if you have a moment, here are some links to articles and recipes I loved this week. Happy reading. Sx

Choosing connection not perfection this Christmas. Here here.

The gorgeous Jane from Shady Baker on Christmas balance.

T'is the season to be creative.

A bit of this and a bit of that from Fox's Lane.

As soon as it cools down a bit, I'm definitely going to plan a party like this.

I adored this round up of the best books to buy for food lovers - some all time favourites in here and new ones to look up too.

Gather and Feast is a new and very welcome discovery this week. Loving all the Christmas posts, and always up for a new playlist to follow!

These rosewater shortbreads would make pretty presents.

A little taste of an Irish Christmas.

Elderflowers are blooming at the moment. I'm going to hunt out the few bushes at the back of our farm this weekend and then make this lemonade.

Bacon strip cake for brunch this weekend? It looks loads better than it sounds. Promise.

Homemade Christmas - cherry cordial


It's cool and damp here in Orange today. We've had almost 10 days of intermittent showers, and that's great for deer farmers but terrible for cherry growers.

As the orchards of Orange rev into harvest, picking for the Christmas market, the weather is playing games but not its part. That said, the fruit is coming in steadily and despite the rain, in great condition. We've been working our way through box after box at home and have also picked up a few kilograms of second-grade fruit, still beautiful in flavour but slightly compromised by the rain. They are perfect for preserving, and all found their way into my big jam pot, with some lemon juice and vanilla, on their way to becoming one of my favourite things, cherry and vanilla cordial.

Bottled up individually, cherry and vanilla cordial makes a lovely Christmas present and is particularly good with sparkling wine or over loads of crushed ice, mineral water and even a splash of vodka. Yummo.

Cherry and Vanilla cordial

This recipe is closely based on one given by Skye Gyngell in My Favourite Ingredients. Skye is one of my favourite food writers and I look to her books often for inspiration. If you haven't come across her wonderful way with flavour, texture and colour please check her out! Makes about one litre.

1kg ripe cherries, second-grade is fine
300g caster sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
Two vanilla pods
1 litre water

Wash the cherries and let dry in a colander. Transfer to a large preserving pot or saucepan and add the sugar, lemon juice and zest, the vanilla pods (split and seeds scraped into the mix - don't forget to put the pods in too) and the water. Stir gently and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes then let cool slightly. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve, extracting as much liquid as you can. Then divide among individual bottles, label up and give away!

Just tell the lucky recipients to keep their bottles in the fridge for up to a week (or so).

Handmade Christmas - The Pudding


Collecting family recipes is one of my favourite things. And this one is a doozy.

My friend Anna is one of the best cooks I know. She's also super organised and despite having just had a baby, (hello Miss Polly) having a toddler in tow (hello Mr Fred) and running a growing interior design business here in Orange, Derham Interiors, is completely ready for Christmas.

So when, I think, Anna realised the depth and breadth of my lack of preparation this year, she invited me over to cross one thing off the list - the pudding.

Tom and I came with dried fruit and Ninja Turtles in hand. He and Fred played while we baked and a few hours later, we left with the pudding done and a much-needed boost in Christmas spirit.

Anna's Christmas pudding comes from her late Grandmother's recipe collection and I feel very honoured to be able to share it here. It really is very easy - you don't even have to soak the fruit so it can be made even the day before Christmas - and it tastes amazing.

Grandma Booth's Christmas Pudding

225g butter
225g caster sugar
8 eggs
225g raisins
225g currants
110g mixed peel, chopped
225g Granny Smith apples, grated (unpeeled)
225g soft breadcrunbs
55g plain flour
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 cup brandy

Cream butter and sugar together and add eggs, once at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the dried fruit, peel, apples, flour, almonds, breadcrumbs and mixed spice. Finally, mix in the brandy and spoon into a buttered pudding basin. Cover with a layer of baking paper and secure tightly with string. Finish with a tight layer of foil and place in a large saucepan of boiling water over high heat. Boil for six hours, topping up the water as you go.

Once cooked, Anna suggests you keep your pudding in its basin, in the fridge until needed. Then just return it to that large saucepan, fill with boiling water and cook for 20 minutes or so, just until heated through.

Turn out onto a pretty plate and serve with cherries and/or berries and almond cream.

Almond and brandy cream

This is Anna's recipe and it's just beautiful with her Christmas pudding. Much nicer I think than a rich hard sauce and far easier than a custard. Serve any leftovers on boxing day with a bowl of cherries to dip into.

2 egg yolks
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 cup whipped cream
125 g toasted slivered almonds

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until creamy, add brandy and fold in cream and toasted almonds. Makes about 1 cup.

If you haven't made a Christmas pudding this year, or even ever - please take my word for it and give this recipe a go, it's completely fool proof and delicious. T

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