bondi - a sydney wander

29 Sept 2016

I live on a hill overlooking Bondi Beach and on a good day I can see the ocean from my place. Bondi is the location of my go-to pizza place and my brother's place when he's in town but in recent times it's fallen off my radar.

On a glorious sunny Saturday I thought it was time to revisit Bondi. The cafes were full to bursting with the young and beautiful.

I checked the surf report that morning and there was a small swell so the surfers were out in force, though wearing wet-suits.

Families were frolicking on the beach even though at 18°C, I thought it was a bit too cold to don a swimsuit.

Kids were using the skateboard ramp.

There were a few brave souls swimming in the Icebergs pool.

It really was a glorious day.

A final shot before I left the beach and headed back along Campbell Parade.

I decided to visit the Bondi Markets which have morphed into a Farmer's Market since my last visit. The Markets were packed with food and flower stalls and loads of people.

Bondi is a very doggy place so I managed to get in some doggy pats while waiting for my bus to take me back up the hill to my place.

See you all again next week with some more baking and perhaps another local wander.

Bye for now,


rhubarb frangipane tartlets

26 Sept 2016

When I was in Paris, I did a tiny bit of shopping but not for clothes. The only things that came home with me were linen napkins from the Conran Shop, six glass tumblers from Merci and some tartlet forms from La Bovida. Sunday morning I was up bright and early removing all the pesky adhesive labels from the tartlet forms because it was time to christen them.

I decided to make some frangipane tartlets. This recipe is an oldie but a goodie and one that I've made with lots of different fruit toppings.

Rhubarb is in season and plentiful here so I topped the frangipane tartlets with some oven baked rhubarb. The rhubarb compote lasts a week in the fridge so you can make it well in advance.

If it's not rhubarb season where you live, plums are an excellent topping as are pears, sliced figs or any kind of berry.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven, so if your oven is fan forced, you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Rhubarb Frangipane Tartlets – makes eight 7cm tartlets

1 bunch rhubarb, washed, trimmed of tough strands and cut into 2 cm chunks
4 tbs caster sugar
Thinly peeled rind and juice of ½ orange
1 cinnamon stick

110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cold water

75 gm (2½ oz) unsalted butter
75 gm (2½ oz) caster sugar
1 large egg
75 gm almond meal
1 tbs plain flour
1 tsp grated orange rind

1 tbs pistachios, coarsely chopped
Optional - Sieved warmed apricot jam

Preheat oven to 200°C. Arrange rhubarb snugly in a baking dish, scatter sugar and orange peel over, drizzle with juice and add the stick of cinnamon. Cover with foil and roast until rhubarb is just tender (15-20 minutes but I start checking at 10 minutes). Set aside to cool. Taste for sweetness before using and adjust to taste, as sometimes the rhubarb can be very tart. You will only need a small quantity of the rhubarb to make this recipe. The rhubarb compote is delicious served with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and I use it to top my muesli.

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. You’ll only need about half of the pastry dough for this recipe. The pastry freezes well so just wrap the remaining pastry in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Grease eight 7 cm tartlet tins. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Place the tartlets onto a baking sheet then return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

While the tartlet shells are chilling, make the frangipane filling. Place butter and caster sugar in a food processor and whizz to combine. Add the egg, the almond meal, the flour and orange rind, then pulse to combine. Evenly divide the frangipane filling between the tarts and sprinkle some of the chopped pistachios over the filling. Spoon a few pieces of the well drained rhubarb over the frangipane.

Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake at 190°C/375°F for 30-40 minutes until the frangipane filling has slightly puffed and is golden brown. Baking time will depend on your oven so start checking the tarts after 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and cool the tartlets on a wire rack. Gently remove the tarts from the tins; glaze the rhubarb with some warmed sieved apricot jam if desired. Serve as is though a dollop of cream on the side wouldn’t go astray.

I hope you have fun making these little tarts.

See you all again later in the week with another Sydney wander.

Bye for now,


waverley cemetery - a sydney wander

22 Sept 2016

Once I returned home from my holidays, I decided it was time to reacquaint myself with my own back-yard. Now I'm very lucky to live in Sydney's Eastern suburbs close to beautiful beaches; suburbs filled with beautiful houses and fashionable shopping districts.

On a beautiful Sunday I drove to one of my favourite Sydney locations, Waverley Cemetery, which is on the perimeter of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. The walk was damaged during some wild storms a few months back, sending walkers on a detour straight through the cemetery.

It may be a bit ghoulish, but I've always enjoyed visiting old cemeteries. The gravestones are often works of art and the inscriptions, poetic. When I was studying photography, I often photographed the cemetery but I haven't been back in such a long time. 

Waverley Cemetery opened in 1877 and is perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It's filled with Victorian and Edwardian gravestones and if you read the gravestones carefully, you'll discover the large number of lives that were lost at sea.

I walked through the cemetery past the Clovelly Bowling Club and headed towards Gordon's Bay.

I had one hour to complete the walk and ran out of time and only made it to the cliffs near Clovelly Beach and back before it was time to return home to the days baking.

I hope you enjoyed my little Sydney wander which I'm hoping will be a weekly event.

Bye for now,



chocolate pecan knots

19 Sept 2016

A few weeks back, I had a hankering for sweet rolls so I tampered with the Ottolenghi Krantz cake recipe and made some chocolate pecan knots. My first version was very tasty but I found the knots a bit dry. I tried again but this time I adapted the dough recipe using my Dad's sweet roll recipe for reference and used the chocolate filling from the Ottolenghi recipe.

Dad's sweet roll recipe is very down to earth and simple. There's no complicated brioche type butter adding, it's all melt and mix and throw everything into the mixer.

I made some Swedish style knots but you don't have to bother. You could just roll it up swiss roll style, slice the mixture into 6 and go from there.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven, so if your oven is fan forced, you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Chocolate Pecan Knots - makes 6 knots. 

The recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi Chocolate Krantz Cake recipe and my dad's bulkha recipe. Please note, it's best to start this recipe the day before.

For the dough
75g unsalted butter
100mls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp salt
45g caster sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
1 egg
additonal 2 tbl melted butter
oil, for greasing

12g icing sugar
18g cocoa powder
35g dark chocolate, melted
30g unsalted butter, melted

50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Glaze (optional)
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick

To make the dough, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and vanilla and heat until lukewarm. Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then, with motor running, pour the beaten egg into the well and gradually add the milk mixture and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes). The mixture will be quite soft at this stage. If it's not then you might need to add a little more milk.

Grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour) or you can leave the dough to prove in the fridge overnight, which is what I usually do. While the dough is proving you can make the filling and the topping. In a small bowl, mix together the icing sugar, cocoa, chocolate and melted butter to form a paste. In a separate bowl combined the toasted nuts, sugar and cinnamon. Put to one side.

If you've proved the dough in the fridge you'll need to let it come back to room temperature first before proceeding with the next steps. Knock back dough on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 25cm x 40cm rectangle. Brush the dough with half the extra melted butter. Cover half the dough with the chocolate filling. Sprinkle the chopped nut mixture over the chocolate paste. Fold the dough over to cover the chocolate filling and press the edges gently to seal. If the filling is leaking out everywhere put the dough parcel into the fridge for about 30 minutes to make the next stage easier.

The next part is a bit messy. Cut the dough crosswise into 6 even pieces. Loop each piece twice around your hand and tuck in the ends to form a knot. You'll lose some of the pecans and filing at this stage. Place the knots on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Coat the buns with the remaining melted butter and you can sprinkle any random pieces of pecan that have fallen off. Cover the knots with a tea towel and stand in a warm place to prove (from 30 minutes up to a few hours).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake the knots for about 25 minutes or until the buns have risen and are well browned. Cool on tray for a few minutes and then cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

If you like you can glaze the buns and you can make the glaze while the knots are in the oven. Combine the water and sugar in a small pan. Bring sugar and water to a simmer stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the from heat, pop in the cinnamon stick and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the knots come out of the oven, brush the syrup over each knot and allow to cool.

I think these are best served the day you make them. If you have any leftovers, like I did, store them in the freezer then reheat them before serving. I normally zap each knot for 10-15 seconds and then they're good to go.

These knots are a lot of work but I do think they're worth it. I hope you agree.

See you all again soon,


iceland in black and white

15 Sept 2016

There's always the thrill of the unknown when collecting film scans from the lab. Will my exposures be correct; will the subject matter translate well into black and white and will I find anything to photograph in the first place.

When I flew into Iceland I had no idea if it would photograph well in black and white. I've been to London and Paris sufficiently often to know they're a dream to photograph in black and white, but Iceland?

These images were shot during the first week of my trip to Iceland as we travelled around the ring road. 

In retrospect I wish I'd thought to take a few more landscape photos and especially photos featuring Icelandic sheep and horses, my favourite photographic subjects! While on the trip, my film camera always seemed to be out of reach.

It meant by the time I returned to Reykjavik I still had half a roll of film left in the camera.

I roamed around the streets looking for things to photograph as it's easier to place a completed roll of film into my lead-lined bag than trying to squeeze my camera into the same bag. You've seen most of my Reykjavik black and white photos but I found a few that I failed to share in my last Reykjavik postThis photo was taken in a small park overlooking the lake by City Hall.

I found this beautiful perfumed rose heavy with rain near my apartment.

And the last travel photo from my trip to Iceland, the Hallgrimskirkja, which was an obvious choice. Now I have to start planning my travel adventures for 2017!

Bye for now,


apple and blackberry pie

12 Sept 2016

A few weeks back I had a hankering for pie, specifically apple and blackberry pie. It's not blackberry season in Sydney but that didn't deter me. I checked the freezer cabinet in the supermarket and found a packet of frozen blackberries and so on Father's Day, away I went to make pie and to test out the oven.

For the pastry I adapted a recipe from Tara O'Brady and cobbled together a filling using the frozen berries and some canned pie apple I'd picked up at the shops.

Why pie apple? I've used tinned unsweetened pie apple to make apple pie my whole life and I can't see any reason to change my ways now. It doesn't involve all that peeling, coring, slicing and cooking of apples so it's 
a faster way to make a pie. If you'd like to make the pie using fresh apples, I always precook the apples in the microwave then let them cool before using them. I also decided to make a lattice pie because I wanted to see those juicy blackberries.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven, so if your oven is fan forced, you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Apple and Blackberry Pie
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2½ cups plain flour
1½ tbs caster sugar
pinch salt
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 800g tin unsweetened pie apple (or 1 kilo green apples peeled sliced and stewed then cooled)
200g fresh or frozen blackberries
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tbs blackberry or cherry jam

Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Combine the cold water and lemon juice in a small jug. In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubes of butter and process the mixture for about 10 seconds or until the butter is the size of peas. Add half the cold water and process for another 10 seconds. Check the mixture to see whether it clumps together when a small amount is squeezed. If not, then add the remaining water. Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and squeeze and flatten the mixture until it makes a dough. Avoid the temptation to knead the dough at any time. There should be visible streaks of butter in the pastry. Divide the pastry into two portions, and shape each into a circle. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

To make the filling
In a large bowl combine the cooked apple, the blackberries, the sugar and cinnamon and place in the fridge while preparing the pie.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pastry circles and fit it into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving a small overhang around the rim. Spoon the jam into the base of the pie crust then spoon the fruit into the pastry shell mounding slightly in the centre. Brush milk over the pastry edge. Roll the second half of pastry into a circle. Leave whole, or cut into strips for lattice. Top the pie with the second crust, either whole or weaving into a lattice.

Trim the top crust to barely overlap the bottom. Lift the edge of the bottom crust over to enclose the top, rolling inwards with even, firm pressure. Keep working around the perimeter of the pie, forming the edge slightly inside the pan’s rim. Crimp or flute as desired. Place the pie onto a baking tray and refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F placing the rack in the lower third. Glaze pastry lightly with milk, cutting steam vents into the pastry if using a whole crust, then sprinkle with some granulated sugar. Bake the pie on the baking tray for 45 minutes. If the pastry isn’t golden brown at this stage, raise the oven temperature to 220°C, move the rack to the centre of the oven and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the juices are bubbling.

Allow the pie to cool a little to let the filling firm before serving with a nice dollop of cream.

My brother Farmer Andrew was in town unexpectedly on Sunday so he was invited to partake of pie. Very quickly half the pie was eaten and the other half swiftly followed when I took it into work the next day.

I guess I'll be making pie a bit more often in the future.

See you all again soon,



paris in black and white 2016

8 Sept 2016

Before I arrived in Paris I spent a whirlwind weekend in Zurich. My Saturday was spent by the lake so I just had an hour roaming with my camera early one Sunday morning before it was time to pack and head to the station.

I was staying close to the old town so I walked through the quiet streets to the Grossmunster.

Some details from the cathedral.

From Zurich I caught the train to Paris just in time for the Euro 2016 Final. I stayed in an apartment just around the corner from the Folies Bergere, which I'd visited on a school trip to Paris when I was 15. It's an area of Paris I wasn't familiar with but with 2 metros close by it was easy to get around.

I'd arranged tickets to the Musee Picasso before I arrived in Paris in an attempt to avoid or to at least minimise the time spent standing in queues. I arrived a bit too early so went for a walk around the block where I found this pretty shop.

The imposing facade of the Musee Picasso.

The Picasso Museum has been renovated since my last visit. I made my way out into the garden where I took this photo. I love this scene.

The Picasso Museum is in the Marais so after my visit, I visited some of my favourite places in the Marais, like this cafe.

The Marais is filled with lots of narrow streets that always look a little the same. Suddenly you'll notice a familiar landmark realise that you've walked this street many times before.

I came across the je'taime sign on my wander through the Marais. It's such a poignant reminder of what Paris has been through during the past 12 months. Just a few days later came the attack on Nice.

I went on the hunt for rotisserie chicken along the Rue St Antoine but was disappointed that my favourite chicken shop was closed for the day.

From Rue St Antoine, I went to the Place des Vosges via a shortcut through the Hotel Sully.

It leads you here to one of the covered arcades around the edge of the Place des Vosges.

I then did a loop back to Rue st Antoine.

From the Marais I visited the Rue Montorgueil in search of some tartlet shells, which I tracked down at La Bovida.

I spied this building under renovation on my walk from Les Halles metro to Rue Montorgueil.

I love to get up high so I can take photos of Parisian rooftops.

My favourite location is the Printemps Department store.

Another view.

On Bastille Day I caught the train to Fontainebleau to visit the Chateau. The interiors were too dark for my 100 ISO film so I took a few photos of the grounds and the exterior of the buildings.

I was blown away by the grandeur and scale of the place.

My favourite image from the day, taken in the gardens of the Chateau.

On my last morning in Paris I took a quick trip the Tuileries to take some early morning images before leaving for the Airport for my flight to Reykjavik.This is the last image I took of Paris, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel with the Louvre in the background.

Next week I'll share my final black and white images from Iceland, then the holiday will be officially over.

See you all again next week,

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