On common ground


Alice, Tom and I recently spent an afternoon with the Statham family of Rosnay Organic. These guys grow beautiful organic figs, olives and wine grapes and have worked hard to create themselves a gentle, clean lifestyle that leaves about as low a carbon footprint as you could get. The straw bale house (they built themselves) is the kind of place you never want to leave (ever). But we all had little people to feed so reluctantly I extracted Alice from the trampoline and Tom from the cubby house (there may have been a throw down involved in that latter part), and we drove home to have pasta with Rosnay olive paste for dinner (see below). Today I think I'll start researching straw bale houses.

Sam and Simone Statham and their three children live on a 140-hectare Community Title cooperative just out of Canowindra. As Sam explains, this is a strata-style set-up, so each family farms independently but they share things like water distribution, buffer zones and roads. The farm was originally established by Sam's parents Florence and Richard and their wine, fruit and value added produce are all recognised as some of the region’s best. We are particularly keen on the figs in syrup which are fantastic just on their own with a little yogurt or dolloped onto a cheese plate. You can purchase their produce either online or from these distributors.

Yogurt panna cotta with figs in syrup
This soft, cool pudding is perfect with Rosnay’s sweet figs and as an added bonus they take about ten minutes to make and are virtually fool-proof. Great for when you have friends over as everything is done well in advance.
1 tbsp gelatine powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp orange zest, finely grated
1 tsp ginger, finely grated
2 cups pouring cream
1 cup icing sugar
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 jar of Rosnay figs in syrup

Mix the milk and gelatine together and set aside for a few minutes. Pour the cream into a saucepan with the zest, ginger and sugar and bring to boiling point. Remove from heat and stir through the milk and gelatine mixture. Let this cool slightly before stirring through the yogurt. Divide the mixture evenly among six lightly greased 1/2 cup capacity moulds (or tea cups). Place these in the fridge for 4-6 hours until set. Run a knife around the edge of each mould and turn each panna cotta out onto a serving plate, spoon a fig on the side of each and drizzle over the syrup before serving.

Olive and ricotta pasta
This isn't really a recipe, just a serving suggestion. Cook your favourite pasta until al dente, drain (reserving a little of the cooking liquid) then toss with a couple of tablespoons of Rosnay olive paste. Add a little of the cooking water if the pasta is feeling a bit dry. Serve onto warm plates and top each pile of pasta with a good helping of ricotta, we used Jannei Goat's milk ricotta and then sprinkled that with a few lemon thyme leaves.

Cold days, crumble and custard


Winter has come early to Orange and so we are eating crumble, feeding deer and feeling the cold. Recipes over here at my Tuesday home, Village Voices.

This weekend...


This weekend I'd like to

  1. Make the perfect crumble like this one for our Farm Kitchen lunch on Sunday
  2. Browse through The Selby and plan to one day having a cheese fridge (and minature horse) like this German style queen.
  3. Make broccoli stem pesto and feel good about being such a resourceful cook
  4. Make these Sweedish rolls
  5. Bake a batch of berry and oat bars via Jillian Leiboff's beautiful blog 
  6. Cook with economy and grace 
  7. Eat sugar buns by the fire
  8. Dream of warmer weather and having a shack like this
My posts elsewhere this week
Slaw of averages; two beautiful coleslaw recipes on Justb
Soda bread with herby butter on Village Voices
Three quick pizza recipes on Village Voices

Farm kitchen events for June and July


We held our first cooking class at the Mandagery Creek Farm Kitchen on Sunday. Hosted by Michael Manners, one of regional Australia's finest chefs, we cooked some beautiful, easy venison recipes and then all sat down to lunch together. The highlight was Michael's Medieval venison casserole, closely followed by a simply roasted rack with red wine sauce. 

So now the ice is broken and we have loads of events in the pipeline, please see below and send me an email if interested in more information or making a booking.

May 27 | Sunday Lunch | $35pp | BYO
A relaxed lunch by the fire at our big communal table. Today’s menu will be venison osso buco with parsnip mash, salad and bread followed by a warm crumble with homemade ice cream.

Saturday, June 23 | Cooking class and lunch with Gina Allen | $70pp | BYO
Gina is one of our region’s best cooks and makes a seriously good pie. Just ask her many regulars at the Orange Farmers Market. Today she will show us how to make the perfect venison casserole then turn it into a beautiful pie and finish with a quick dessert. Three-course lunch, cooking demonstration and recipes included.

Sunday, June 24 | Sunday Lunch | $35pp | BYO 
A relaxed lunch by the fire at our big communal table. 
Today’s menu will be venison osso buco with parsnip mash, salad and bread followed by a warm crumble with homemade ice cream.

Sat, July 21 | Farm Lunch and tour | $70pp | BYO
Starting with a glass of mulled cider, we’ll take a look around the farm before heading back for a standing entree and brief cooking demonstration. Then we’ll share a 2-course lunch and finish with coffee. Bring friends or just yourself and join us for a great day.

Sun, July 22 | Cooking class and lunch with Kathy Snowball | $70pp | BYO
Former food editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller, Kathy will demonstrate some beautiful recipes before we all sit down to enjoy them together. Three-course lunch, cooking demonstration and recipes included.

Sun, August 5 | Farm Lunch and tour | $70pp |BYO
Starting with a glass of mulled cider, we’ll take a look around the farm before heading back for a standing entree and brief cooking demonstration. Then we’ll share a 2-course lunch and finish with coffee. Bring friends or just yourself and join us for a great day.

10 & 11th August | A Pie by the Firel | $15pp | BYO
Come out for a relaxed lunch by the fire at our big communal table. Menu is venison pie, mashed potato and salad. And while you are at the farm, pick up some venison to take home! Bookings essential.

Art Workshops at the Farm Kitchen

August 10 | Basket Making with Harriet Goodall | 9.30-3.30 | $195pp inc materials and lunch
In Harriet's popular weaving workshops, beginners learn how to collect & prepare materials available in nature and then weave them into a sculptural basket to take home. For more information on the kind of work Harriet does and her workshops, please take a look around her beautiful website. Notes are provided on collecting, drying, preparing, weaving and storage of natural materials. This includes a comprehensive list of garden plants which can be harvested for baskets.

September 1st & 2nd | Drawing workshop with Annie Herron | $395pp inc 2-day workshop, morning and afternoon tea and lunch
Artist and art teacher Annie Herron will go through basic drawing techniques, introducing students to a wide range of drawing materials leading up to more sustained works both inside and on the farm. Annie’s daughter and farm resident Sophie will be on hand cooking morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Join us for a relaxing, productive and fun weekend.

Visitor's book - Jocie's hazlenut shortbreads


Jocie Chapman runs the beautiful Old Convent cafe and B&B in Borenore, which is just out of Orange. Established by Josephine Nuns in the 1890s, it really was an old convent and these days is one of the nicest places to have lunch or breakfast in our area. We popped in to see Jocie last week, and as we arrived she pulled these hazlenut shortbreads out of the oven. I think they might be the best biscuits I've ever eaten.

And better still, the recipe, (here below) is easy peasy. Jocie says it's the quality of the hazlenuts that really make the difference and uses Fourjay Farms roasted hazlenuts, (here's a post about our visit to Fourjay a couple of months ago during the hazlnut harvest).

By coincidence our friend Pip also happened to be visiting Jocie on the day we visited. She took the lovely pictures of Alice and Tom shown above. If you are in our area and ever thinking about having some family portraits taken, Pip is your lady.

Hazlenut shortbread
250g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 scraped vanilla bean
200g ground hazlenuts (roasted)
2 cups plain flour
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Cream butter, vanilla and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the nuts and flour, combine well, roll into little balls and then form into crescent shapes. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Dust with icing sugar.

This weekend


This weekend I'd like to...

  1. Get dippy with these eleven great recipes
  2. Make this stunning ricotta cheesecake with moscato figs
  3. Organise a gardening day  
  4. Spend some time drooling over Katie Quinn Davies' food photography
  5. Memorise the 15 'truths about dinner; there are some great ideas here, (illustration by William Steig Dals)
  6. Get poetic about my kale
  7. Avoid the great recipe swindle.

My posts elsewhere this week
Savoury tarts over on JustB
Baked cinnamon and apple porridge on Kidspot Australia
Wholemeal pear and ginger muffins on Kidspot Australia
Apple frittata on village Voices

Golden delicious; Anna's organic garden


Anna De Baar grows some of the most beautiful vegetables in our region. Born in Holland, she has spend much of her adult life in Australia, for the past decade in Orange here, at her certified organic vegetable garden. It's an impressive spot with lakes, vineyards and hills on either side, and she populates it with everything from cabbages to cavalo nero and raspberries to radiccio. We visited last week, on the most glorious late Autumn afternoon and came away with some of the above. The raspberries, Anna’s last little handful of the season, went straight into Tom’s mouth before any of us could stop him....greedy little thing he is.... But aside from that little set back, all was good.

As we arrived, Anna had just finished baking a batch of lemon friands for the Orange Farmers Market which was to be held the following day. She is rightly renowned for these friands in our town. It might be something to do with Anna making her own almond meal from toasted organic almonds but really it’s anyone’s guess as the recipe is never disclosed. All I can say is get yourself to the next Orange market or Hawkes General Store in the centre of Orange which stocks them too. And as an aside, the little dried flowers photographed above are hops, which, Anna tells me are usefull not only for making beer but soothing teas too. So if you happen across any fresh hops flowers, dry them out and then place a few in a teapot, cover with boiling water and let steep for five minutes. Drink before bed and sleep peacefully!

But back to vegetables, and once home, we took Anna’s advice on cooking hers, keeping things simple and tasty.

Steamed cavalo nero with chilli
This quick little recipe lets the cavalo nero’s quiet flavour really say hello and is a great side for just a bowl of steamed rice or maybe some poached salmon with a few dry roasted almonds crushed over the top.
1 bunch cavalo nero
salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste
2 tbsp sesame oil
Strip cavalo nero leaves from stalks and place in a steamer or just a colander over some bubbling water. Let steam for about four to five minutes or until the leaves have collapsed and are tender. Transfer to a warm serving plate, toss with the sesame oil and sprinkle with chilli flakes, salt and pepper.

Stir-fried Sugarloaf cabbage with garlic and caraway
These cabbages are, as the name suggests, beautifully sweet and actually, are terrific just served raw and tossed through with the below ingredients. A quick stir-fry though, seems to bring them all together just a bit closer. We had this for dinner to night with a little piece of pork belly each. Our fantastic butcher Michael Borg gave me these cooking instructions for it; cook the  pork belly in it’s cryovac bag in a saucepan of boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove from the bag, rub with salt and pepper and then cook in a hot oven (200C) for another 20 minutes or until the crackling is a deep golden brown. 

1 Sugarloaf cabbage
2 tbsp fresh olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 tsp caraway seeds, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove outer leaves from the cabbage and then finely slice. Pour the oil into a large saucepan with a lid and bring to a medium heat, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the cabbage and a couple of tablespoons of water and cook for another minute, stiring well. Cover, reduce heat and cook for five minutes or until the cabbage is tender but not floppy. Transfer to a warm serving plate, sprinkle with the caraway seeds and season to taste.

Anna's beautiful vegetables and friands can be found at the Orange Farmers Market on the second saturday of the month. She also puts together weekly vegetable boxes for people in the Orange area. Please email her for more information.

This weekend...


This weekend I'd like to...
  1. Dream up a lost skills workshop for our new Farm Kitchen 
  2. Spend some quality time at the lovely Yvestown blog
  3. Make orange blossom sesame cake from My New Roots and then head over to the great new site 'So How was your day' get to know the author better...
  4. Order this cookbook 'of sorts'
  5. Make these baguettes and take them on a picnic
  6. Catch up on the latest batch of online magazines, from What Liberty Ate to Sweet Paul
  7. Bookmark these 10 fantastic food blogs.

My posts elsewhere this week

The first frost and osso buco


We woke to a big frost this morning, which burnt off into the most perfect Autumn day, now it's one degree outside as I write and the home fires are burning bright. It feels like winter is here already, the beanies and gloves are out (see above) and the dog beds have migrated from the back deck to the laundry.

This evening we had an early dinner for fellow volunteers at the recent F.O.O.D Week Forage event and had osso buco (recipes below) tossed through pasta with garlic bread and salad. For pudding it was a plain sponge, with no icing and nothing tricky just a thick layer of raspberry jam and cream in the middle. Yum. 

Venison osso buco with gremolata
Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 5 ½ hours
Delicious with mashed potato, this osso buco can also be flaked from the bone and used as a pie filling or tossed through pasta. Of course if you can't find venison osso buco (though it really isn't hard; just come and see us at the markets!), beef or veal osso buco would be great too.

1kg venison osso buco (about 8-10 pieces)
½ cup plain flour
¼ cup olive oil
100g pancetta
1 brown onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
5 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
100g tomato paste
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon, finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Dust osso buco in seasoned flour and heat olive oil in a heavy-based casserole pan on high. Brown the osso buco on all sides and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add a little more olive oil if necessary. Add pancetta, onion, garlic, carrots, celery and herbs to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Stir through the tomato paste, tomatoes, wine and stock bring to the boil. Return osso buco to the pan, making sure that all pieces are covered in liquid. If making large quantities of this recipe, place the osso buco in one layer on a baking tray, pour over the sauce, cover tightly with foil before cooking as below.  Cover with a lid and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 120C (100C fan forced) and cook for 5 hours. Turn off the heat and leave to cool in the oven. Keep in the fridge or freezer until needed. Reheat on a gentle simmer.
 To make gremolata, mix ingredients well and scatter over osso buco before serving. 

Plain sponge cake
Serves 6
Prep time 10 mins
Cooking time 15 mins

6 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup thickened cream
1/4 cup jam

Preheat oven to 180C and grease two 20cm cake tins. Beat the eggs, vanilla and caster sugar together for about 10 minutes or until pale and at least doubled in volume. Sift in the flour and gently fold the mixture until smooth. Divide between the two cake tins and cook for about 15 minutes or until the surface is lightly golden and the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the tin.

Let cool on a wire rack. When ready to serve, spread one of the cakes with jam, then cream, then place the other cake on top. Done!

This weekend ...


This weekend I'd like to...

  1. Make this vanilla almond bundt cake 
  2. Eat ice cream sandwiches with chocolate sea salt cookies
  3. Peer into the Euro-urban lives of others via the awesome website Freunde von Freunden
  4. Wonder about edible cookbooks. Not sure if I get it yet
  5. Order this book and cure my way through winter
  6. Get fresh with JustB’s roundup of the best fresh spring roll recipes on the web 
  7. Try making bagel bombs 
  8. Indulge in some kitchen-envy via this collection of dream cooking spaces
My posts elsewhere this week

A harvest recipe for grape schiacciata on the Country Style Blog
The blueprint for a perfect chicken casserole on JustB Australia
Jam cream biscuits and home days on Village Voices

Visitor's book - Adelaide's apple and capsicum relish


Adelaide Harris is my local food hero. She lives on a farm near Molong, NSW, and with her husband Tom, makes and/or grows most of what the family eats, from meat to cheese and even beer. Cool hey! Before moving to the country Adelaide worked as the Assistant Food Editor for Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine and so writes a mean recipe, see below...

Apple & capsicum relish
(Makes about 5 litres)
This is an adaptation of my Grandmother Jo’s recipe. It’s great on a cheese board to accompany a bitey mature cheddar, on cheese on toast or with roast mutton (or lamb) and especially good on cold mutton sambos (a school favourite).
1.5 kg Granny Smith & Royal Gala apples *
1.5 kg green & or red capsicums*
750 g brown onions (about 4)
2-4 (or to taste) chillies, thinly sliced 
6 large garlic cloves
6 fresh bay leaves (or 8 dried)
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tablespoon salt
750 ml (3 cups) cider vinegar
750 ml (3 cups) malt vinegar
750g each of brown & white sugar *** 
  1. Finely chop apples, capsicum and onions in batches in a food processor (using the pulse button so as to ensure the apples & vegetables don’t become pulp). Place in a large saucepan. Add chillies, garlic, bay leaves, coriander seeds, cloves and salt. Pour over combined vinegars. Bring to the boil. Cook stirring occasionally until apple mixture is soft (about 30 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 100C. Combine sugars in a roasting pan. Warm in oven until just hot to the touch.
  3. Add to hot apple mixture and stir to combine. Return to boil and cook stirring occasionally for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, place clean jars in the oven to warm. 
  5. Ladle relish into jars. Relish will keep for up to 2 years or so in a cool dry place, the flavour improves on keeping. 
* Using red capsicums & Royal Gala or other sweet apples makes for a sweeter relish I like to use of combination of green & red capsicums & Granny’s & Galas so as to have a balance of sweet and sour. Use what you have at hand.
** I use half cider and malt vinegar again to lessen the sweetness of the relish.
*** If you only have one of the sugars to hand – the brown sugar gives a richer caramel flavour and richer colour than white sugar

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