Friday Favourites - Masterpieces from Paris

29 Jan 2010

It's Friday and even thought it was a short working week for me, it's been a tiring week. I'll leave you with a photo from last week's visit to the National Gallery of Australia. It's a bit of a tradition now that every Australia Day or thereabouts I drive down to Canberra to visit whatever blockbuster exhibit is on display at the National Gallery of Art. This year it was the Masterpieces from Paris, a travelling collection from the Musee D'Orsay.

There are plenty more photos to follow from Canberra so check back next week. The Style Council is also working on the giveaway winner so as soon as I know the result, I'll announce who the winner is.

Have a great weekend,


Giveaway - Chilewich Pressed Dot Runner

27 Jan 2010

Well here it is, the first ever give away on my blog. I received an email from the nice people at csnstores asking if I'd like to choose an item to give to a blog reader. I thought it might have been spam so I replied with hesitancy. When I realised everything was above board I browsed through their long list of stores. Did you know they have a store devoted solely to
house numbers?

My favourite store was allmodern and I browsed through the site looking for an item I thought my blog readers would like. The lucky winner will receive a Chilewich pressed dot table runner with 4 matching placemats (you select the colour) but the competition is only open to residents of Canada and the USA. Sorry but that's the deal so even I'm ineligible!

What do you have to do to win the prize? I'd like you to tell me in the comment section why you visit the blog. Don't forget to include your name when you comment. The competition runs for 1 week so will close next Wednesday evening Sydney Eastern Summer Time.

The winner will be chosen by my Mum, also known as the Style Council, and trust me her decision will be final. I'll keep this post pinned near the top of the blog until next Wednesday. By the way, I've not received any payment or gifts in kind from to run this giveaway.

I'm really looking forward to reading what you have to say. I'll be back on Friday so until then,


Lemon Curd Cake

I was looking back through all my 2009 food files and noticed 2 recurring themes in my baking - chocolate and lemon. My work colleagues are the chocolate fans whilst I love all things lemon. I had a brainwave a few weeks ago and wondered what would happen if I put a layer of lemon curd in my lemon syrup cake and held the syrup?

I bought the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook for a christmas present for a good friend and didn't have the foresight to copy down any of the recipes from the book. I wanted to try the lemon curd recipe from the book so had to resort to scribbling down the ingredients onto the back of the envelope I had floating around my bag. The lemon curd recipe contains cream rather then butter and I was just intrigued to see how it would turn out. I added some grated lemon rind to the recipe to add a little extra kick. The end result is a very soft curd but it's so yummy and lemony.

I made the cake mixture (using the cake recipe here without the syrup) and put a layer of the curd in the centre of the cake. I didn't want to ice the cake so I topped the batter with some flaked almonds, put it in the oven and held my breath. I was a little worried that the lemon curd would just disappear into the cake and not appear as a separate layer.

The cake looked good but how would it taste? It was a definite hit but one comment was that it could have been a bit more lemony, which translated meant 'more lemon curd layer please'. I'll see what I can do.

If you look really carefully you can see a distinct layer of curd, so I was happy. How did it taste? I was good but I also think the cake could be a bit more lemony so I'll play with the recipe a bit more.

Remember tonight is your last chance to enter the Chilewich giveaway. Remember all you have to do is live in North America and leave a comment as to why you visit my blog.

See you all again on Friday,


Shop Shoots - Ici et La

25 Jan 2010

Last Saturday I visited ici et la at 7 Nickson Street Surry Hills. A few years ago one of my girlfriends bought some colourful deckchairs from ici et la. When I was looking for fabric to recover a bedroom chair ici et la was the first place I thought of. They've since moved from their original shop on Bourke Street to the Nickson Street premises.

The shop is beloved of Sydney stylists as it's filled with all things French, old and lovely and of course the deck chairs still feature prominently.

I love the old French boards and would love one for my place but where to put it?

The dog is obviously the most important member of staff as his face features on the price tags. He spent most of the time I was there happily snoozing on his own chair.

The place is a treasure trove of interesting light fittings, vintage linens, old signs and toys and vintage Tolix chairs.

I hope you enjoyed my little visit to ici et la. Don't forget the Chilewich Giveaway competition is still running so don't forget to leave a comment.

Happy Australia Day for tomorrow,



Friday Favourite - Monkeys Always Look

22 Jan 2010

Have you seen these vintage silverware markers from Monkeys Always Look? I found them via design sponge sometime last year and immediately added Monkeys Always Look to my 'etsy favourites list'. I bought a few of my Christmas gifts from Etsy last year including this garden marker which never made it to it's intended recipient.

Instead its now living on my kitchen bench encouraging my little rosemary plant to 'grow'. I've just ordered a few custom items for my food photography from Allison that I can't wait to show.

I'm off to Canberra for the weekend so  I'll be in touch with lots of photos I'm sure when I return.

Have a great weekend,


Chocolate Caramel Tart

18 Jan 2010

I seem to make chocolate tarts quite often. I guess I'm searching for the perfect tart and the perfect chocolate pastry recipe. Each time I make one I seem to edge ever closer to chocolate tart perfection.

I was inspired to make this recipe after reading an old issue of Delicious magazine. I made my own chocolate pastry from this recipe; substituted a tin of Caramel Top'n'Fill/Dulce de leche for the condensed milk then sprinkled salt flakes over the caramel and followed the rest of the recipe.

The chocolate pastry was soft and a little difficult to handle so I rolled it between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. I took this into work - my first effort for 2010 - and the tart was devoured by lunchtime, which is always a good sign.

I've just finished my piece of tart and it is a delicious confection. The caramel is so subtle that I could barely taste it but the chocolate filling was delicious. I would certainly make this again and probably leave out the caramel entirely and increase the chocolate custard filling.

I'll be back again on Wednesday so until then,


Brandy Snaps

11 Jan 2010

Can you remember something from your childhood that you really loved to eat? When I was 9 our family went to New Zealand to attend a family wedding. I decided I was going to eat nothing but strawberries during my stay but I discovered New Zealand cheese and chocolate were pretty good as well, so I added them to my diet. I broadened my horizons even further to include whitebait fritters and following a stay in Queenstown, Brandy Snaps.

I came home determined to add Brandy Snaps to my baking repertoire. I must have made hundreds of batches and they always turned out as very tasty ginger cookies but looked nothing like the brandy snaps I'd had in Queenstown. Eventually I mastered the recipe and fashioned them into brandy snap baskets in which I placed my world famous strawberry ice cream - how 80's is that?

I have no idea why, but when I last flew to Brisbane, brandy snaps just popped into my head and I thought it was about time I revisited them. I pulled out an old recipe - not this one but it's very similar to the one I used.

I'm the first person to admit that these are fiddly beasts. Although I've shown them on baking paper that was purely so you could see the lacy texture achieved when baked. They are best baked directly onto a baking tray and I wouldn't place more than 3 on the tray as you need to work quickly to roll them before they set.

Once cooled fill the brandy snaps with cream and serve them straight away as they will soften. The contrast between the ginger in the brandy snaps and the cream is delicious and they probably taste almost as good as the ones I tasted in Queenstown.

I'll be back on Wednesday with a little announcement so until then,


Friday Favourite - Phil The Frill Neck Lizard

8 Jan 2010

This will be the last post from my trip to Brisbane and if you don't like lizards or reptiles in general, then look away. My parents place has always been home to a variety of goannas and lizards. On this visit home, Phil the Frill Neck Lizard a.k.a Phil the Frilly Lizzy had taken up residence. He was basking in the sun on the front steps as I drove into the driveway.

I was determined to take a photo of him and Phil was just as determined that this wasn't going to happen. He tried to camouflage himself as a brick and failed dismally. When he saw this tack wasn't going to work, he raised himself to his full height, puffed up his frill, hissed then bravely ran away as quickly as he could.

Maybe I should take up nature photography? Have yourselves a great weekend,



6 Jan 2010

As I'm sure you all know, I live in Sydney, but I was born and grew up in Brisbane. I'm a proud Queenslander through and through and if you cut me, I still bleed maroon. Any Queenslanders reading this blog know exactly what I mean.

I visit Brisbane quite often but they're always whistlestop visits. This time I was home for a week and it gave me some time to reflect on just how different Brisbane is from Sydney. The most obvious difference is the climate - Brisbane is always hot and humid in summer and an air conditioner is a must have. Otherwise you need to live by the Brisbane River and hope for a cooling breeze in the afternoon - that is if the sky hasn't turned a thunderous grey and it's not pouring with rain.

Because of the climate the plant life is different. The foliage is green and the colours are bright. Apart from the macadamia and banana trees in our backyard, just a short walk from my house I walk through an avenue of poinciana trees and pass by an avocado tree, mango trees and a paw paw tree.

The Queensland climate dictated the housing which was designed around capturing breezes and the Queenslander was born.

I always wanted to live in a Queenslander and there are many fine examples in the neighbouring suburb of Ascot. I happened to spy this little gem on my way to the gym one morning.

I was in Brisbane for Christmas and visited the Powerhouse Markets. Just take a look at the produce on offer and the crusty Queensland farmer plying his wares.

Love you Brisbane,


Strawberry and Passionfruit Pavlova

4 Jan 2010

I've worked a full day, gone to a cycle class, made lunch for tomorrow and eaten my dinner so now it's time to resume blogging for 2010. I had a very busy festive season, which as always revolved around the consumption of food.

For our work Christmas lunch we all 'bring a plate', an Australian tradition where every-one brings along food (in addition to the plate). My contribution was a pavlova topped with strawberry and passionfruit. Not only did I make one for work but I made another one to take with me to a bbq and a third one to replace the first pavlova I made, which was consumed by ants. It was a shame having to toss the pavlova into the bin but unfortunately it wasn't fit for human consumption. I hope the ants enjoyed it though.

I come from a family of pavlova makers and when it comes to pavlova, I'm a traditionalist. A pavlova should be high with a thin crust of cooked shell around a light fluffy marshmallow like filling. It should not be cooked through - that's a meringue, not a pavlova. I used a recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly magazine but used 5 eggs rather than 4 eggs. You just adjust all the ingredients accordingly.

The shell will crack but that's all part of the charm. Pavlova can be topped with anything but the most popular topping is whipped cream with fruit, usually strawberries and passionfruit. Farmer Andrew is a dab hand at pavlova and he tops his pavlova with passionfruit alone.

The pavlova was a very popular choice at the Christmas lunch, in fact there was nothing left on the plate. It's a year since I last had pavlova and once I'd taken the first mouthful I realised I'd forgotten just what a simple but delicious dessert it can be.

I hope you enjoy the pictures,

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