shopshoot - high tea with mrs woo

29 Apr 2013

Last Christmas I was on the hunt for some Paper Boat Press stars. I knew High Tea with Mrs Woo stocked some of Kylie's products so off I went. Unfortunately they didn't have any of the stars but I still left with a few goodies. I'd not visited the shop before and I found it to be charming and made a mental note to return one day to photograph the store.

I don't know if you've been along Oxford Street Paddington recently but it's a bit of a sad affair these days. So many shops are empty and have been for quite some time. Well the same can't be said for High Tea with Mrs Woo - the shop was buzzing with people the duration of my stay.

The shop is part clothing store/part gallery space and the clothing is all designed by the three Foong sisters. As well as the Paddington store, the sisters run another High Tea with Mrs Woo store in Newcastle.

If you look really carefully you can see an old holiday photo of the three sisters.

High Tea with Mrs Woo's philosophy.

Some items from their clothing line

Another corner of the store.

Some of the jewellery and ceramics on display.

A vignette of earthy textures with a touch of green

High Tea with Mrs Woo hosts regular pop up shops. Heaven in Earth was the pop up shop when I visited the store and some of the items you can see here are from their online store. Since then Rebound Books has moved into the store and will be there until the end of May.

Some Heaven in Earth, Sunday Morning Designs and East of India products.

A final vignette from the store.

Here is where you can find High Tea with Mrs Woo. (2016- Paddington store now closed but you can still find the store in Newcastle and online)

74 Darby Street, Cooks Hill
NSW 2300 Australia
PHONE +61 2 4926 4883

If you can't make it to one of their stores, they have an online shop here

Many thanks to the Foong sisters for allowing me to shoot their shop.

See you all again on Wednesday. 

Until then,


almond cake

24 Apr 2013

Whenever there's a celebration in our family we serve Mum's famous almond cake. Today I'm sharing a recipe for a chocolate almond cake that's very similar to my Mum's almond cake. I made the cake in my sweet little 17 cm cake tin but if you want to make a 23 cm cake, just double all the ingredients and keep the baking time the same.

It's a Dutch Chocolate cake heavily adapted from a recipe in Das Neue Kiehnle-Kochbuch, which uses eggs as the raising agent so there are a scary number of eggs in the recipe.

The finished cake is nice and moist and has loads of texture. There is no flour in the cake just dried breadcrumbs and ground whole almonds and the cake is flavoured with lemon and chocolate. When I was growing up Mum and I would hand grate the chocolate and use a mouli mill to grind the almonds. These days I use a food processor to grind the almonds but if you can buy whole almond meal that will save you a step.

Once the egg whites are beaten you need a gentle hand to fold them through the batter otherwise the cake won't rise. I like to make the cake the day before it's served to allow all the flavours to develop.

The original recipe topped the cake with a chocolate ganache but we've always served the cake with lashings of whipped cream. As I made the cake to celebrate Farmer Andrew's birthday, I made some chocolate shards to top the cake.

Here's the printable recipe for you. 
Dutch Chocolate Cake (makes one 17 cm cake)
100 gm softened unsalted butter
100 gm caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 large eggs, separated
60 gm dark chocolate, grated
1 small lemon, rind grated and juice strained
60 gm ground whole almonds
60 gm dried breadcrumbs
1 extra tablespoon caster sugar

To serve
300 ml whipped cream
chocolate curls

Grease and line a 17 cm spring form tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

In a medium size bowl, cream the butter, 100 gm caster sugar, lemon rind and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until thoroughly mixed. Add the ground almonds, grated chocolate, breadcrumbs and lemon juice in 3 batches, mixing thoroughly.

In a clean dry bowl, beat the four egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the extra tablespoon of caster sugar and beat until the sugar dissolves, then gently fold the egg whites through the cake batter. Gently spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour at 180°C/350°F until the cake tests cooked and the edges pull away from the sides of the tin.

Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the tin. Serve with lashings of whipped cream and chocolate curls.

The cake disappeared in a flash as you can see by the photo and it tasted just like my Mum's cake. I do hope you enjoy the recipe.

I'll be back next week with a shopshoot for you.

Bye for now,


blue mountains botanic garden - an almost sydney wander

22 Apr 2013

I decided to expand my horizons when I went on this particular Sydney wander. I got into my car very early one morning and drove along the Bell's Line of Road to the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah.

Now you all know how much I love a good garden and although I've been to the Blue Mountains on numerous occasions, I've never visited the gardens.

Even though I arrived soon after opening time I wasn't the only person there, a tour group in a large bus had beaten me there. I walked through to the observation platform and this is what I saw and yes, the mountains really are that blue.

It's officially autumn here in Sydney but the change in the season is much more obvious in the cooler climate of the Blue Mountains. There were touches of autumn colour everywhere.

The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens do have some formal gardens but in the main features Australian native plants and more sculptural plants.

The website tells me the plants are arranged in climate zones.

There's a beautiful fountain and the rock walls are a feature. I don't know it they're a tribute to Edna Walling but they reminded me of her gardening style.

Some more fallen foliage.

I had a lovely wander through the gardens and plan to return again in the spring when the formal gardens are in bloom.

My Delicious Bites column for decor8 this month features a recipe for brown sugar meringues if you're interested. Thanks also to Holly for featuring some of my Kerrie Brown images on her blog.

See you all again soon,


kerrie brown shopshoot

17 Apr 2013

On my daily journey to Bondi Junction I walk past this shop, home to the Kerrie Brown Design Studio.The studio is housed in an old sandstone building at 9 Edgecliff Road Woollahra on the corner of Kendall Street.

Kerrie has had a long career in cinema and was responsible for the set decoration of one of my favourite movies of all times, Babe, Pig in the City.

So what's inside the store? Soft furnishings, lamp shades, window blinds and printed furniture in a gorgeous range of vibrant colours all designed by Kerrie.

Here's a glimpse inside the store.

Don't these colours make you want to smile?

One of Kerrie's fabulous blinds.

An elegant chaise lounge in the front window.

A more muted palette.

Some more of the jewel coloured lampshades. I love the contrast with the patterned ceilings.

The Botanical Series - my own favourite. I've always loved a good floral print.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to Kerrie's store. If you can't make it to 9 Edgecliff Road Woollahra Sydney in person you can buy directly from Kerrie's website.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


Mum's apple almond and yoghurt cake

15 Apr 2013

It may not appear so from the food I cook for the blog, but I eat a low fat diet. I taste test by eating slivers of what I cook and share the rest with friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues. The trouble is that fat makes things taste good so to compensate, baked treats are often high in sugar. 

When I was home in Brisbane for Easter I found a recipe for Mum's Pear Yoghurt and Coconut Cake on page 16 of the local paper, the Brisbane News. I looked through the recipe and it was very low in fat so I thought I'd give it a try. I typed out the recipe and planned to make it on my return. Last week a friend came over for dinner so for dessert, I decided to adapt the recipe a little to make an apple almond and yoghurt cake.

As there were only going to be the two of us, I scaled down the ingredients and used my favourite 17 cm spring form tin. I always have apples in the fruit bowl and was going to use a granny smith apple for this cake but I couldn't go past this rosy red Jonathan apple, my favourite apple. With fear and trepidation I thinly sliced the apple using a mandoline. I can't tell you the number of times I've almost lost a finger tip using that thing but as the spring form tin is so small, I knew I wouldn't be able to hand slice the apple thinly enough.

The cake came out nice and moist with a strong yoghurt tang but it's a little spongey in texture. I actually think the cake batter needs a bit more oil so next time I'd increase the oil a little to at least 2 tablespoons.

I served my friend's slice with a good dollop of whipped cream and some stewed apples on the side whilst I had my slice plain. She seemed to enjoy her dessert so the next day I tried a piece with a tiny morsel of cream.

The cake was completely transformed! Here's my version for you.

Mum’s apple almond and yoghurt cake 
100 g self raising flour 
18 g almond meal
75 g caster sugar
155g plain yoghurt, reduced or full fat 
1 egg 
1 tbs vegetable oil 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 apple, peeled cored and finely sliced 
20 g flaked almonds 
1 tablespoon caster sugar

To serve

1 tablespoon icing sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF. Grease, flour and line a 17 cm round tin. In a bowl, combine the flour, the almond meal and the sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, the egg, the oil and the vanilla until well combined. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold together until just combined. 

Spread the batter into the prepared tin. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top, then sprinkle over the slivered almonds and the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the cake is browned and a skewer comes out clean when inserted. 

Place the cake on a wire rack and leave to cool. When cool, invert the cake and remove the lining paper, then turn right side up. To serve, combine the icing sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cake. If desired, serve the cake with a good dollop of whipped cream

See you all again on Wednesday with a colourful shopshoot.



old fashioned orange cake

10 Apr 2013

When visiting Farmer Andrew in Dungog a few weeks ago, I decided to make an old fashioned orange cake. The recipe originally comes from the Margaret Fulton Creative Cookery Course and I used to make it all the time. It was my Uncle Philip's favourite cake and after he passed away, I stopped making it.

It's one of those cakes where you use the same weight of butter, eggs, sugar and flour so you don't really need a recipe. The original recipe used 4 eggs but my loaf tin is a skinny one, so I made the cake using 3 eggs. I weighed the eggs, fresh from the chicken ladies. They weighed 180 grams so I weighed out the same quantity of caster sugar, unsalted butter and self raising flour, added the zest and juice of half an orange and there you have it, one orange cake.

I think this cake tastes even better when it's iced and again, the recipe is very simple - just icing sugar, butter, orange juice and a little more grated rind. Sometimes simple is best.

The cake has a fine texture and it's packed with orange flavour. I think it tastes better if you make the cake the day before you plan to serve it. It just seems to allow the orange flavour to intensify.

Here's the recipe for you.

Old Fashioned Orange Cake
180 gm unsalted butter
180 gm caster sugar
the grated rind of one orange (reserve 1 teaspoon for the icing)
Three, 60 gm eggs
180 gm self raising flour, sifted
45 mls orange juice

Line a 8 x 22 cm (3¼ x 8¾ inch) loaf tin with baking paperPreheat the oven to 170°C/325°F. 

In a medium size bowl, cream the butter, sugar and grated orange rind until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, lightly beat the 3 eggs. Gradually add the beaten eggs to the creamed butter and sugar. If the mixture starts to curdle you may need to add a spoon or two of the sifted flour. Once the eggs have been added, start adding in the flour.

In thirds, add the flour alternately with the orange juice until well combined. The cake batter should be a soft one. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and level the top. 

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 - 60 minutes until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted. The cake tends to brown quickly so you may need to cover it with a piece of greaseproof paper mid way through the baking time. When the cake is cooked, let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Orange Icing
15 gm (½ oz) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup sifted icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
a squeeze of orange juice

In a small bowl, cream the butter with the orange rind. Mix in the icing sugar and add enough orange juice to make a thick icing.

Using a flat bladed knife or spatula, coat the top of the cake with a good layer of icing. Set the cake to one side to allow the icing to set.

Got to go to the gym so bye for now. See you all again next week,



hot cross bun and butter pudding

8 Apr 2013

Do you remember me moaning about my inability to consume hot cross buns during Easter? Well I've rectified that and perhaps I've over compensated a little because my freezer is now filled with hot cross buns. So what to do with all those leftover buns?

The weather in Sydney has been down right miserable the past few days. A week ago it was 30ºC and on Thursday it was only 16ºC. As it's been so cold and wet, 
on Saturday I decided to use a few of those hot cross buns to make a bread and butter pudding.

Now the best bread and butter pudding I've ever eaten has been at Matt Kemp's restaurants. Where Matt goes, so does the bread and butter pudding so I've eaten it at Restaurant Balzac, Montpelier Public House and the Burlington. I think these days he's cooking at Gazebo Wine Garden and I hear a version of his famous bread and butter pudding is on the menu. I tracked down his recipe and discovered the secret to it's deliciousness, apart from lashings of egg yolks and milk. Matt sprinkles the pudding with icing sugar and brulees the puddings just before serving.

I made 2 individual serves of the pudding in small dishes using one mini hot cross bun per dish. You could make a larger pudding using 4-6 hot cross buns. Just adjust the quantities accordingly.

Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding (serves one) printable recipe
1 mini hot cross bun
softened butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon of vanilla
100 mls milk
1 tablespoon cream

To serve
1 tablespoon icing sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Slice the bun horizontally in 3 and butter each slice. Place the buttered bun in a small dish. I made one pudding with the cross side up and one with the cross side down. I suggest placing the bun upside down as the top browns too quickly.
In a small bowl, mix the egg with the caster sugar and the vanilla. Add the milk and cream and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture through a sieve over the sliced bun in the little dish. Let the pudding rest for about 20 minutes so the custard soaks into the bun. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. 

Place the pudding into a bain marie of cold water and bake in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF for 30 - 45 minutesWhen the top is brown, the pudding has puffed up and the custard is set, take the pudding out of the oven.

Before serving, sprinkle over the combined icing sugar and cinnamon and caramelize the top with a brulee torch or place under a heated grill. 

Voila - one piping hot, hot cross bun and butter pudding just perfect for this weather.

See you all again on Wednesday with some more baking.

Bye for now,

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