12 Days of Christmas Baking - Kathy Snowball


Hello and welcome to the first installment in our 12 Days of Christmas Baking series! We are kicking off with a bit of a food hero of mine, Kathy Snowball. Kathy is a really wonderful cook, has worked as the food editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine, written many wonderful cookbooks and as of a few years ago, now lives here in Orange! Here she gives us an easy and beautiful recipe for Meringue and Strawberry Mess. This can be mostly made ahead and just assembled on the day; it's cool and absolutely delicious and would be perfect for Christmas Day. Thank you Kathy!

Meringue and strawberry mess

Meringues and hazelnut praline can be made a day ahead and stored separately in airtight containers.
3 egg whites
180g caster sugar
300ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200ml plain yoghurt
500g strawberries, hulled
125g blueberries
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons caramelised balsamic vinegar
125g raspberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar, extra

Hazelnut praline
150g caster sugar
30g roasted peeled hazelnuts, chopped

For hazelnut praline, place sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons water and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring until a golden caramel colour. Sprinkle hazelnuts onto a baking paper lined oven tray and drizzle with caramel. Cool completely, then break into shards.

For the meringue, place egg whites in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk and whisk until soft peaks form, add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time and whisk until thick. Spoon heaped tablespoons of meringue onto baking paper lined oven trays and bake at 110C for 2 hours. Turn off oven, leave door ajar and cool meringues in oven.

Slice half the strawberries. Lightly crush remaining strawberries and blueberries with icing sugar and balsamic vinegar. Puree raspberries in a food processor with extra icing sugar, then sieve.

Whisk cream until soft peaks form, then fold in vanilla and yoghurt.

To assemble, place meringues on a large serving plate and crush lightly. Spoon two thirds of the cream mixture over and top with sliced strawberries, followed by crushed strawberry and blueberry mixture. Dollop remaining cream mixture over, drizzle with raspberry sauce and top with shards of hazelnut praline.

The Friday List, jelly and a give away


It's stinking hot here at the moment, our deer are all having babies and hiding them in the tall grass and I can barely manage to boil the kettle for fear of introducing more heat into our little kitchen. So this afternoon we are heading off to our nearby Lake Canobolas and in the esky will be lots of watermelon and this rhubarb and raspberry jelly. It's beautiful just eaten cold in little squares but would also be pretty nice in a Christmas trifle or sitting atop a blob of yogurt panna cotta.

On another note, Local is Lovely is having a birthday! One year ago next friday I published my first post on this blog and to celebrate, have asked twelve local chefs and cooks to help by contributing a Christmas recipe. 12 Days of Christmas Baking will kick off tomorrow and will cover everything from traditional Dutch Christmas cakes to mince tarts by Michael Manners and Kate Bracks's Christmas pudding.

And in further celebration of our birthday, I am thrilled to be giving away a few copies of Valli Little's beautiful new book, Home Cooking. It's full of the kind of recipes I love, simple, seasonal and accessible. To win a copy, please just comment below and I'll announce the lucky readers next Friday.

In the meantime, here's a list of links and recipes for a little weekend cooking inspiration!
E-mag love

Rhubarb and raspberry jelly

This recipe uses quite a lot of gelatine, but that's so it will keep it's shape and act more like a little sweet rather than wobbly pud. If you prefer the latter, cut back to 5 sheets.

300g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small dice
200g raspberries
250mls water
Juice of one lemon
150g caster sugar
7 sheets gelatine (gold strength)

Combine everything but the gelatine in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, soften the gelatine in a shallow bowl of cold water. Drain the rhubarb and raspberry mixture, exracting every drop of that beautiful jewelled juice. You should have 2 cups of liquid, if just a little short, make up with a touch of water. Squeeze the excess water from your gelatine leaves and then whisk them into the still hot rhubarb liquid. Whisk until dissolved and then pour into a square cake tin lined with plastic wrap. Cover and place in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight.

The Friday List


This is Adelaide Harris's verdanda. Adelaide is a friend and local cook and we visited her this morning, ostensibly to to collect her recipe for a series on Christmas baking (kicking off here on December 1), but as always, it was nice to have an excuse to visit this lovely farmhouse just out of Molong. Wishing everyone a great weekend, and as always on a Friday, here is a small collection of links and recipes I came across and enjoyed this week:

Seasons eatings - Libby and Ken Morgan's organic garlic


Ken and Libby Morgan live on the high slopes of Mount Canobolas just out of Orange. Their block is steep and surrounded by forest and scrub. It also offers a panoramic view of the Nashdale valley which spreads out before the house like a patchworked apron of vineyards, orchards, farmland and waterways. The Morgans have lived here for just over 15 years and began growing organic garlic on a commercial scale for the past four.

With its terraced rows of olive trees, vegetable gardens, stone pizza oven and outhouses (all built by Ken), cyprus pines and banks of roses and lavender; visiting the Morgans is like stepping straight into Liguria or possibly Tuscany. Libby, with a background in horticulture, has a simple approach to her gardening, "I do it to grow fresh food for our kids and friends. The garlic seemed particularly suited to our soil and climate and so I just kept growing more!" Now they have nearly an acre of organic garlic plants and will add to that next year.

I left this beautiful place last week inspired to go straight home and get cracking on my own garden, but the armful of fresh garlic Libby sent me away with proved too distracting. Instead we preserved most of the garlic in a confit and used the rest in a roast dish of chicken, garlic and tarragon (both recipes below).


 Roast chicken pieces with tarragon and garlic

This is one of Libby and Ken's favourites and looks set to become a staple in this house too. It comes from Italian chef Stefano Manfredi, is easy to throw together and acts as a perfect showcase for the Morgans' beautiful garlic. The original recipe called for chicken thighs with bone in and skin on but I used a whole jointed Gilgandra chicken from our local butchers M&Js Butchery (who also stock Morganics garlic - snap!).  It would be beautiful with a green salad and some nice crusty bread.

1 free-range chicken, jointed
1/2 cup french tarragon leaves, picked from stems
6 tbspn extra virgin olive oi
20 large garlic cloves, peeled
6-8 stems french tarragon
salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Force a finger between each chicken piece's skin and flesh to make a pocket don't remove skin entirely. Push a few tarragon leaves into opening and spread over the flesh. Rub each with olive oil and place in an oven dish.  Surround chicken with garlic cloves and sprinkle remaining olive oil on the garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes.  Add tarragon stems and chicken stock to roasting chicken.  Roast for 10 minutes more then remove and serve.

Confit garlic

This recipe comes from a great friend and great cook, who also happens to be known as Cook, or rather Ms Elise Cook. She once worked in a cafe that would confit all of its garlic and use the soft, sweet cloves in all of their aiolis, salad dressings and pasta dishes. The method is simple and the results AMAZING. Use the confit garlic wherever fresh cloves are required - they add a richer almost caramelised garlic flavour to pretty much everything.

2 bulbs of garlic
Olive oil

Peel the garlic cloves and place in the base of a small, heavy-based saucepan. Cover with olive oil, so the oil is about 1/2 a centimetre over the garlic. Place this in a very low oven (120 fan forced) for 2 hours or until the cloves are soft and a rich golden colour. You can cook these on the stove-top but the garlic will smell quite strong as it cooks! In this case, begin to cook the garlic on medium heat and just when small bubbles start to appear in the saucepan reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook for about 35 minutes. Store, still covered by the oil, in a sterilised jar for up to a month.

From December through to April, Morganics garlic can be purchased at the Orange Farmers Market (on the second Saturday of the month), M&J's Butchers, Totally Local, Sydney's weekly Everleigh markets, Northside and French's Forest markets.

The Friday List and a rhubarb hazlenut cake


Hello and happy Friday! Here are some links to a few recipes, e-mags and other bits and pieces you might like to check out over the weekend, plus an easy and delicioous rhubarb and hazlenut cake recipe.


Rhubarb and hazlenut cake

The hazelnut butter really makes a difference, we bought ours freshly ground from Canobolas Pure Health and your local health food store will have a good range of nut butters (as will most supermarkets too).

1 cup caster sugar
1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed
3 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup hazlnut butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups wholemeal self raising flour
2 tbsp buttermilk (milk will be fine if that's all you have)
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C then grease and line a 24cm spring-form cake tin. Place sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Then increase the heat to medium and simmer (without stirring) until golden, this will take about 8 minutes. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Slice the rhubarb into different lengths and arrange these so they cover the base of the cake pan then pour over the caramel. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and hazlenut butter until pale and creamy. Add butter and beat until well-combined. Fold through flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour then place spoonfuls of batter over rhubarb and carefully smooth the top. Bake for 25-30 mins, until cake springs back when touched and invert on a plate while still hot. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with honeyed yogurt or cream.

Lost in spice


Last Sunday was by far the best event we've ever had at our Farm Kitchen. We hosted a lunch by Longrain chef and friend Martin Boetz and it was a-maz-ing. Martin's menu was all beautiful fresh flavours and textures and he also served up the best venison dish I've ever had (a sort-of carpaccio with lime and green Nham Jim dressing). Thank you so much Martin, we know you are busy with your own farm now so really appreciate you spending the weekend in Orange with us. And thank you also for allowing us to post some of your recipes from the day, below.

Our entree was one of Martin's signature dishes; betel leaves with smoked trout, galangal and trout roe.

Betel Leaves with Smoked Trout, Galangal & Trout Roe

The smokiness of the smoked trout in this dish is cut with fresh lime juice and the sweet and sour flavours are very light and herbaceous. Makes 20

2 tbsp base paste (recipe below)
4 tbsp red chilli Nahm Jim (recipe at the end of this post)
400g smoked river trout, flesh flaked and skin off
2 red eschalots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 long red chillies, seeded and julienned
3 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
1 cup coriander leaves
20 betel leaves
50g trout roe
crisp-fried eschalots

Base paste
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups coconut oil
6 dried long red chillies, seeded
4 tbsp dried prawns (shrimp)
1 x5cm piece galangal, peeled and finely sliced
100g palm sugar, shaved
100ml fish sauce

To make the paste, start by blending or finely chopping the garlic. Then heat the oil in a wok and deep-fry the garlic until it is the colour of lightly stained pine. It will keep cooking after it’s taken out. Strain and drain the garlic on absorbent paper and reserve the oil. Return the oil to the wok and heat, then add the chillies and move them around in the oil until they change colour to a deep red, about 10–12 seconds. Remove and drain. Soak the dried prawns in warm water for 10–20 minutes until soft then drain. Dry-roast the galangal in a pan until fragrant and set aside to cool. Pound the garlic, galangal, dried prawns and chillies to a fine paste in a mortar and pestle or blend in a food processor with 100ml of the reserved garlic oil to help the blades move. Remove the paste from the blender and transfer to a heavy-based saucepan on a moderate heat to bring all the flavours together. Add the palm sugar and fish sauce, and stir until the paste is amalgamated and fragrant. Do not caramelise the sugar – just allow it to melt into the paste or it will set hard when cooled. Remove from the heat and cool.

To assemble the betel leaves; place 2 tablespoons of cooled paste in a bowl and add some Red Chilli Nahm Jim and stir to get a thick, sauce-like consistency. Add the flaked fish, eschalots, chillies, lime leaves and coriander and gently bring together to bind all the ingredients. Spoon onto betel leaves, top with the trout roe and crisp fried eschalots. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.

The menu was matched with local white wines from Cargo Road Winery and Philip Shaw, and we were a bit stoked to have both winemakers on hand to pour and talk about their wines. That's Cargo Road's James Sweetapple above, presenting his gewurztraminer (which was a perfect match for the betel leaves) while Philip's No.89 Shiraz was beautiful with the main course.

Seared venison carpaccio with lime chilli dressing & roasted rice

This recipe pictured above, is absolutely delicious, easy to make and perfect for an easy summer dinner (or lunch). Serves 4

1 x 500g venison fillet

1 tbsp coconut oil

For the salad

10 cherry tomatoes

10 Vietnamese mint leaves

1 handful of coriander leaves, shredded

1 handful of mint leaves, shredded

1 red chilli, seeded and julienned

For the dressing

100ml lime juice

1/2 tsp roasted chilli powder

50ml fish sauce

1 birds eye chilli, finely sliced

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Sear the venison fillet in coconut oil over a medium to high heat until caramelised all over but still rare inside, (this should take a few minutes). Rest for 8–10 minutes while you make the dressing. To do this; combine all the ingredients and mix well. Then have a taste, it should be hot, sour, salty and slightly sweet. Then slice venison in rounds and place on a serving plate. Evenly spread the shredded coriander, mint, eschalot & chilli over the rare sliced venison. Dress the venison & herbs well with the dressing and place the Vietnamese leaves over the top. Finally, sprinkle evenly with the roasted rice (see below) & serve.

For the roasted rice
, add raw glutinous rice to a dry, heated frying pan. Toast over moderate heat, stirring until the rice is golden brown. Pound until fine in batches using a mortar and pestle or grind in a spice grinder until a fine powder is formed. Store in an airtight container.

For our mains, Martin made a venison massaman curry, the very same recipe he cooked seven years ago on the day Tim and I met...awww... (and there he is above, sporting a nascent 'mo'). It was as good as we remembered; with amazing flavours, meltingly soft venison and lots of texture thanks to the peanuts, kipfler potatoes and fried eschallots. Under the curry was steamed rice and next to it a simple, fluffy omelette stuffed with asparagus and drizzled with oyster sauce, chilli and coriander. Apparently it was 'life changing'. A simplified version of this recipe can be found over on our website's recipe page.

After a lovely, cool dessert of vanilla tapioca with palm sugar syrup, we retired to the garden for some afternoon sun and a little more wine. The kids all came up from the house to join us and it was a great end to the day. Thank you once again Martin - it was so fantastic to have you in our kitchen and watch 'the master' at work!

Red chilli nahm jim

(Makes 1 1⁄4 cups)

3 red chillies, seeded
2 red bird’s eye chillies
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
1 tsp sea salt
60g palm sugar, shaved
60ml fish sauce
200ml fresh lime juice

Pound the chillies, garlic, coriander roots and salt to a uniform paste in a mortar and pestle. Add the palm sugar, pound, then add the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste – the flavour should be a balance of sweet, sour and salty.

The calm before the storm


It's been a big weekend for us here at Mandagery Creek Venison-central. We had a packed event at the Farm Kitchen and a houseful of friends staying, including one of our favourite people and chefs; Martin Boetz of Longrain restaurants. Martin came to cook in the Farm Kitchen yesterday and did the most wonderful job. I am just waiting for a couple of his recipes before posting some recipes and photos from that event, but in the meantime thought I'd put up a some bits and pieces from the rest of our weekend. Namely the quiet few hours on Saturday afternoon when the house was relatively tidy and we were able to do some cooking and pottering before everyone arrived.

 It's always a bit scary cooking for a chef so this weekend we played it simple; dinner was butterflied Wellington lamb with smashed garlic peas and then brioche, raspberry and dark chocolate pudding.

Smashed garlicky peas

1 cup freshly podded peas
2 garlic cloves
sea salt
1 cup mint leaves
3 tbsp nice extra virgin olive oil

Blanch the fresh peas in salted, boiling water for a minute or so. Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of a mortar and pestle smash this together before adding the drained (warm peas) and remaining ingredients. Crush until the flavours have come together in a rough paste. Serve, at room temperature, spooned over the sliced butterflied lamb. This is also beautiful spread over sourdough toast with a slice of prosciutto.

Alice and I had gone to town earlier in the day for a quick pit-stop at the markets and there bought brioche from local bakery Racine (see pudding below) and a bag of oats, rolled by bicycle as we watched via Canobolas Pure Health's inaugural Tour de Oats. The oats were folded into a walnut and chocolate chip biscuit recipe (below), and lastly we swung by organic grower Anna de Baar's stand for a few bunches of sorrel which made their way into this simple, lemony risotto.  

Sorrel risotto

This is a simple, comforting risotto made a bit special by the lemony sorrel. Thanks Anna for the base recipe and the sorrel itself!

1.2 litres chicken stock
1 cup white wine
75g butter
2 eschallots, finely sliced
2 cups arborio rice
2 bunches sorrel leaves, stems removed
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat the stock and keep warm. Melt half of the butter over a medium heat and cook the onions for a couple of minutes, or until translucent. Add the rice and stir well until every grain is coated in the butter, then pour in the wine and stir until absorbed. Add all of the sorrel except for a few leaves (set these aside to garnish) and then, ladle by ladle, the stock. Each time stirring until the liquid is almost all absorbed before adding the next one. This will take about 15 minutes. Test the rice after about this time and if almost cooked except for the slightest crunch then remove from heat, add almost all of the parmesan and very gently fold this through with the remaining butter. Place a lid on the pot and set aside for 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir through the lemon zest and juice then serve on a big warm platter with extra leaves. Shave over the parmesan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Brioche, raspberry and chocolate pudding

This classic pudding is a bit of a crowd-pleaser, and given the minor scuffles (among the grown-ups) over the leftovers, I think I'll double the recipe next time. You can make this up a few hours before dinner and let it sit for a few hours before baking.

8 slices brioche small brioche loaf
1 cup raspberries (or blueberries)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or pieces
3 eggs
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla paste

Lightly grease an oven-proof baking dish and lay the brioche slices across its base. Scatter with the raspberries and chocolate chips. Whisk remaining ingredients together then pour this mixture over the brioche, pressing the slices down so each one is immersed in the custard-y liquid. Either cover and set aside until ready to bake or place in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the pudding is just beginning to colour and most of the liquid has been baked into the brioche.
Serves 6

Walnut, oat and chocolate biscuits

150g butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cups self-raising flour
2/3 cup wholemeal flour
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Fold in the flours and finally fold in the oats, chocolate and walnuts. Roll into little balls (about a teaspoon-worth) and place on the baking tray a few centimetres apart and squash down lightly with a fork (dipped in flour). Cook for ten minutes or until lightly golden and cool on a rack.
Makes about 12 

The Friday List


Mary Howard is one of the most impressive women I've ever met. She is a wild harvest prawn fisherwoman on Sydney's Hawkesbury River (here's the view from their mooring, above) and a fiery advocate for the commercial fisheries industry. You can read her story here on One Farm Day.

And as always on a Friday, here is a little list of links and recipes found and enjoyed on the interwebs this week. Have a lovely weekend everyone, Sophiex

Tractors and jam drops


Our Tom turned three last week. And as I think I may have mentioned before, he is a little bit obsessed with tractors. So to celebrate, yesterday we invited our neighbours and Orange-based cousins over for some tractor cake. Then Tim parked the actual tractor in the front garden and the kids climbed all over it all afternoon.

The cake was inspired by one seen in the latest Donna Hay Kids magazine and Tommy has been obsessing over it for about three months now. From his reluctance (putting it mildly) for me to actually cut the cake and pass it around... I think he was happy with the end result. For afternoon tea we also had chicken sandwiches, popcorn and jam drops. The latter are a really nice little biscuit so I thought I'd share the recipe here below.

Jam and almond drops

These biscuits certainly don't look uniform or perfect but they are delicious and easy to make. Of course pleas swap raspberry jam with whatever you prefer (marmalade works well too).

Makes about 30

250g butter, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
90g custard powder
2/3 cup almond meal

raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180c and line a couple of biscuit trays with baking paper. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the vanilla and mix to combine. Fold through the flour, custard powder and almond meal and mix gently until combined. Roll into small balls (about a teaspoon-full) and place on the baking tray, a few centimetres apart. Press down the centre of each with your thumb to make a nice little indent you'll later fill with jam. Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are just golden. Let cool on a wire rack and then spoon a little jam in the centre of each one.

Blueberry and white chocolate tarts for Witchery


Hello and happy Saturday! Here's my latest contribution to Witchery's blog the Edit;  a nice little recipe for blueberry and white chocolate tarts.

The Friday List and a loaf less ordinary


As of last tuesday I have a new baby. It must be fed every eight hours and hopefully will bring us great joy for many years to come. It's my very own sourdough starter and was born at Brasserie Bread's headquarters in Sydney.

Brasserie Bread is an artisan bakery with scale. The main outlet is a fantastic bakery and cafe in Botany and here they produce a range of beautiful breads; from caramelised garlic loaves to  traditional baguettes, sour cherry fruit bread, seeded sourdough and soft dinner rolls. Under the guidance of founder Michael Klausen, the bakery has also developed an excellent program of baking classes including free ones for children. This week I went along to their Start your Starter class and thanks to the lovely training manager Matt, learned how to do exactly that, and how to work the dough then shape it into classic bread forms.

So Thank you Matt, Michael and Brassserie Bread for getting me started (pardon the pun), and for those interested in learning about sourdough baking I can't recommend this class highly enough! Friday list follows below...

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