blood orange, almond and polenta cake

31 Oct 2012

When I came home from my holidays last week I saw nets of blood oranges in the fruit market. I bought one of the bags home with me but what to make? I decided I wanted to make a blood orange cake. I found a blood orange cake recipe in Ottolenghi but it involved making caramel and as I'm still struggling a bit with my sleep, there was way too much pfaffing around for me. I found this recipe on the web, which was much the same as the one I was planning to use.

I bought this cute little bundt tin last week but it's pretty tiny so I halved the recipe to fit the dimensions of the tin. I greased the tin and debated flouring it and decided not to. I always flour my tins but I was tired after a sleepless night so I confess my decision making was a bit compromised. That was my first mistake as the cake stuck to the tin when I turned it out onto the cooling rack.

I made the syrup and it seemed quite a lot for such a little cake but I went ahead and poured it all over the cake. Mistake number 2. The cake was now so soft it cracked when I tried to put it onto the cake stand.

By this stage it was looking as though I'd have to bake another cake to photograph. I checked my fridge and I didn't have enough butter and by now I was not in the mood to walk up to the shops so I put the cake into the fridge hoping it would firm up enough to photograph.

So the cake isn't perfect but it still tasted pretty good. I have plenty of blood oranges left in the fruit bowl so I do plan to make this again. I haven't included my recipe because I want to make a successful version of the cake before I do. The lesson I learned - don't try baking a cake at 7.00 a.m. when you've only had 3 hours of sleep. It will only end in tears!

The evening news is on in the background as I write this. I'm still in shock at the havoc Hurricane Sandy has wrought in North America. For the first time in 2 weeks I'm actually glad to be back home again. I hope every-one I met on my travels are safe and well.

See you all again next week,


lotta jansdotter

29 Oct 2012

I haven't featured as many shopshoots on the blog this year as I have in the past, so I was determined to get a few shopshoots done during my 3 week trip to Montreal, Quebec and New York.

As you may know, I write a monthly column for decor8 called 'Shopgirl visits' but as Holly's readers are not my readers I don't always know what shops will appeal to her audience. I asked Holly for some suggestions before I flew to New York and she suggested approaching Lotta Jansdotter. I was familiar with Lotta's work, in fact I'd bought some cards featuring her designs some time back. I emailed Lotta and we arranged a time to meet.

Lotta works from a studio in Brooklyn. I've been to Brooklyn before but I soon discovered each area of Brooklyn has a different look and feel. Lotta's studio is located in an industrial part of Brooklyn called Gowanus where the skyline is dominated by this sign.

It was a glorious day and it was easy to spot Lotta's studio by it's vibrant colour.

Lotta apologised because the area was a bit sparse but I love to photograph sparse, so I was happy. I have this motto, 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should'. I'm definitely a less is more kind of girl.

There were all kinds of sweet vignettes to photograph, like this one.

I just love that Blue mason jar.

The studio is a real workspace as evidenced by this collection of shears.

Lotta can even make aprons and a collection of pens look attractive!

There was plenty of colour on display as well.

I spied some Rae Dunn ceramics alongside some of Lotta's textiles.

A symphony of blue and green featuring some of Lotta's designs for Fishs Eddy.

Many thanks again to Lotta for letting me visit her Brooklyn studio. The studio is open by appointment only but visitors are always welcome. You can call ahead  or email the studio. Lotta also runs printing workshops from the studio and the details can be found here.

See you all again on Wednesday,



raspberry thumbprint cookies

24 Oct 2012

As promised, now that I'm back home in Sydney I've returned to the kitchen to do some baking. The latest issue of Gourmet Traveller was waiting for me when I returned and one of the features was by Mike McEnearney of Kitchen by Mike fame.

I photographed Kitchen by Mike a few months ago but was too busy snapping to try any of the food. I scanned through the featured recipes in the magazine and decided to make a version of Mike's Marmalade and almond jammy dodgers. I don't know if it's a typo because the recipe doesn't include almonds at all but uses hazelnut meal instead. I don't like marmalade, so I thought raspberry jam would be the perfect pairing with the hazelnut cookie.

I made the dough in my food processor and as I was meeting a friend for an early brunch, I left the dough in the fridge for a few hours before I baked the cookies. The dough is very soft so I think refrigerating it was a good option anyway.

The original recipe suggests filling the baked cookies with the jam, but I wanted to bake the jam a little to set the filling. Once I made the indents in the cookie dough, I filled the holes with the jam then returned the cookies to the oven to bake until they were golden.

Do you like my new little pot? I bought it from the Canvas Chelsea store when I was in New York last week. It was the last one left in the shop, so we had to take it out of the window display.

I decided to taste test the cookies before taking them into work to share them with my work mates. They were absolutely delicious so now I'm wondering whether I should be selfish and keep them all to myself.

Here's the recipe for you.
Raspberry Thumb Print Cookies printable recipe
(adapted from a recipe for Marmalade and almond jammy dodgers by Mike Mc Enearney, Australian Gourmet Traveller October 2012) - makes 16

125 gm softened butter
50 gm (½ cup) pure icing sugar, sifted plus extra to serve
½ tsp vanilla extract
110 gm (¾ cup) plain flour plus extra for dusting
45 gm cornflour
35 gm (⅓ cup) hazelnut meal
Raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 180º C/350º F. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixture until light and fluffy, add vanilla and beat to combine. Stir in the flours, then the hazelnut meal. Roll into walnut size balls (20 gm) between floured palms, leaving space for biscuits to spread. Flatten the biscuit with your palm and bake for 5 minutes.

Press your thumb into the centre of each biscuit to form an indent and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Cool on tray, spoon jam into each indent then dust with icing sugar and serve.

Changes I made.
· The original recipe was made using home made Seville orange marmalade. I don’t like marmalade so I used raspberry jam instead.
· Once the dough was made, I refrigerated it for a few hours as it’s very soft.
· I baked the dough for 7 minutes and made the indent in the cookie with the handle of a wooden spoon, then spooned a teaspoon of the jam into the indent.
· I returned the jam filled cookies to the oven and baked until they were golden, another 15 minutes in my oven.
· Once the cookies were cooled, I shielded the jam with a teaspoon before dusting the cookies with icing sugar because I thought they looked better that way.
· I had one with a cup of tea and it was seriously yummy! The cookies are best served the day they're made but they're still delicious the following day.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of doing another week of Christmas treats like I did last year. If you have a recipe you'd like me to bake, style and photograph for the blog please email a copy of the recipe to me, including the source of your recipe. My email address is located at the top of the blog and in the 'about me' section of the blog. I'm sorry not to provide a link in the text but that's apparently how I get targetted by spammers. They're unrelenting.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Bye for now,



style labo

22 Oct 2012

I posted this teaser image from Mile End a week or so ago. Why, because Mile End is home to Style Labo.

montreal 2012

Who or what is Style Labo you may ask? Style Labo is a veritable treasure trove of industrial antiques housed in a modern building at 5765, Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Mile End.

style labo

What did I find inside? Furniture, lighting, glassware, flags, clocks, glove forms, old photos and some small gifts.

I'm drawn to these kind of stores even though they don't reflect my decorating style. 
Unfortunately my little flat is way too small for the scale of some of these pieces but if I had a large loft apartment....I do love vintage lighting though and have a few pieces in my place.

style labo

Aren't these great light fittings?

style labo

Isn't it funny how old tin cans are so much more appealling than the modern versions?

style labo

I spoke to Romain, one of the owners, about the provenance of the antiques and they're mostly from the US. This gives the store quite a different appearance from the
industrial antique stores I've photographed in Australia. Put it this way, I've never photographed snow shoes in Australia before!

style labo, jillian leiboff imaging, (c) 2012

Style Labo is nothing if not eclectic. Apart from some amazing lighting,
I found loads of maps and globes of the world and even a selection of plants.

style labo

I loved this enormous table and industrial seating.

style labo

As well as the larger items, Style Labo stocks some smaller decorative pieces for the home.

style labo

I hope you enjoyed my visit to Style Labo. Thanks once again to Romain and Anne for allowing me to shoot their shop.

See you all on Wednesday,



shopshoot - les touilleurs

17 Oct 2012

I had a list of places to visit and things to see in Montreal inspired by Chantelle Grady's 'A little Relish - Montreal'I hit the streets of Le Plateau to visit Les Touilleurs, a heavenly kitchen wares shop. Now I know most other women crave shoes but I'm not like most women. I've always craved kitchen ware and flower even when I was a teenager, so how could I not visit this store? 

Everything was displayed immaculately.

I wanted to buy it all, but common sense prevailed.

I came away with a confit jar which is currently being shipped home along with most of my other fragile purchases. The box should arrive some time next week and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything will survive the journey home.

How can you not love a store that considers its doggie visitors?

I'll be back next week with another Montreal shopshoot and now that I'm home again in Sydney, I might even get back into the kitchen to do some baking. 

See you all again soon,



15 Oct 2012

I grew up in Brisbane, a city that essentially has 2 seasons - wet and dry. The trees are pretty much evergreen so until I lived in Canada I'd not experienced either a real autumn or spring. I love fall colours so I was happy to see the leaves had changed colour by the time I arrived in Quebec. Fall was short lived though. Once the rain in Quebec had come and gone, most of the leaves were off the trees and on the ground.

I found a few favourite trees around the city. This one was in Artillery Park.

I found these beautiful leaves outside St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, one of my favourite buildings in Old Quebec.

These pictures were taken in Citadel Park, Rue Cartier and the Plains of Abraham.

Another favourite tree I found in the gardens at the Plains of Abraham. I'd hoped to see more fall colour during my stay in New York but I was a bit too early. 

By the time you read this I will be on my way home to Sydney and expect to arrive home with a bad case of jet lag and a well used credit card. I hope you've been well while I've been gallivanting across the globe.

Bye for now,




10 Oct 2012

I'm in New York at the moment but when I was in Quebec last week, I stayed in the old port area at the Hotel Port Royal. I would walk through the old town each day on my way to the convention centre.

Quebec disappeared under a grey cloud for most of my stay but I did manage to see occasional flashes of blue sky.

Quebec is a very popular tourist destination and the streets are usually packed with travellers but during my 7.30 a.m walk to the conference, the streets were all but deserted.

I came back to photograph the Notre Dame de Quebec cathedral when the sun came out.

I found a few interesting details in the back streets where the tourists don't roam.

The Chateau Frontenac, reportedly the most photographed building in Quebec, with it's shiny newly renovated roof.

If I get the chance I'll post a few more photos from Quebec next week before I board my flight home. If not, you'll hear from me again once I'm back home again in Sydney. Where have the past 2 weeks flown???


montreal markets

9 Oct 2012

Whenever I travel I love to visit the local food markets to get an idea what people buy to cook and eat. When I was in Montreal I visited both the Jean Talon and the Atwater Markets.

It's Fall here so the markets were filled with potatoes, leeks and pumpkins, loads of apples and strawberries. I bought some lobo apples, a variety I've not seen before.

Aren't these capsicum so colourful?

I just love raspberries so one of these punnets came home with me.

Look at these beautiful hydrangeas.

Atwater markets were so much fun. This marching band entertained the crowd.

I just loved the building so I stopped to take a few more photos before taking my goodies home with me.

I hope you enjoyed these photos from my visit to Montreal. I'll be back next time with some images of Quebec.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends.

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