30 Sept 2009

Celebrity Master Chef is on the tv as I'm writing this. We're all interested to see whether the celebrity chefs are any good and as appealling as the regular Master Chef contestants. I guess time will tell.

I was going through some of my photos and I've discovered many that I've not shown to you before. I took these photos when I was home in Brisbane last month. You all know of my raspberry, passionfruit and rhubarb addiction. Well I might as well confess to a mango and cherry addiction as well.

It's not cherry season here yet and our cherry season is a short one so I must admit these are not local cherries but are from Washington State. I know I should buy local but I told you, I'm addicted. What else can I say?

I can't wait until I can photograph some local cherries, but until then,


Macadamia, Lime and Coconut Tarts

28 Sept 2009

A few months ago I went on a citrus curd marathon. I had plans to make macadamia, lime and coconut tarts all those months back but didn't get the chance to make them until yesterday.

I pulled out the jar of lime curd that's been in the fridge since last July and checked that it tasted okay. It tasted fine so I placed 2 teaspoons of the curd in the base of some small pastry lined tart tins. I decided to give the almond frangipane filling a bit of a shake-up and replaced the almond meal with equal quantities of whole, raw macadamia nuts and shredded unsweetened coconut, which I ground in a food processor. I flavoured the mixture with grated lime rind, filled the tartlet shells and kept my fingers crossed as I placed the tartlets in the oven.

I made 5 little tarts and kept one for me and took the rest into work. The tangy lime curd balances the rich filling all encased in short almond pastry. The filling is different in texture from an almond frangipane filling - it's quite chewy and macaroony but good.

And the verdict? I think they were a hit,



Friday Favourites - Dungog

25 Sept 2009

I promised you a few more photos from my weekend away in Dungog and here they are. I'd never been to Dungog railway station before as I always drive there. I walked through the Pedalfest crowd and made my way to the station and took some photos of the almost deserted platform and surrounds.

On my way back to Farmer Andrew's House, I passed by Harriette and Boof, who along with their owner had participated in 3 Pedalfests. Their owner was on his way to sign up for Pedalfest 2010. Now that's keen.

Back home I ran around the chookyard trying to take photos of the new residents of the Chicken Hilton. Since my last visit my favourite chicken Maybelline had sadly passed away doing what she did best - laying an egg. As well as ISA Browns, the Chicken Hilton is now home to Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks. The Reds and the Rocks are not keen on having their photos taken preferring to run instead. I returned to Sydney with some farm fresh eggs courtesy of "the girls". The large eggs are from the ISA Browns, whilst the small ones are from the Plymouth Rocks. The Rhode Island Reds are too busy running to lay eggs.

On my drive back to Sydney I passed by fields of very contented looking dairy cattle. I pulled over to take some photos and one or two of the cows were exceedingly interested in me and my camera.

Have a great weekend every-one,


White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

23 Sept 2009

Greetings from Sydney where we've just had the most amazing dust storm. I drove to the station through a pink dust haze which was both beautiful and kind of spooky all at the same time. I didn't have my camera with me but I'm sure there are stacks of images on the web.

Here are some photos of my latest creation. As you know by now, there are some flavours I just love like rhubarb and passionfruit. Well I also adore raspberries. Sydney is a wonderful place in which to live but not if you love raspberries. I won't tell you how much I paid for the punnet in the photos 'cos you just wouldn't believe me.

I found a recipe for the cupcakes on the Gourmet Traveller website which I heavily adapted to create the beauties below. 

I popped a few raspberries into each cupcake to cut the sweetness and to add a little surprise. I took a cupcake with me when I visited Miss B and her brother Ruin on Sunday. I had to resort to a little bribery to get the photos below - photos first, cupcake second.

I took the rest of the cupcakes into work with me on Monday but kept one at home so I could taste test it. The crushed raspberries in the icing cuts the sweetness as does the hidden raspberry in the cupcake. You could easily make these into smaller cupcakes which would be ideal for a little girl's birthday party or to serve at a baby or bridal shower tea.

Enjoy the rest of the week,


SHOPSHOOT - The Bronte Tram

21 Sept 2009

One of the film labs I use is just around the corner from the shop, The Bronte Tram. Every time I'd drive past the shop, I'd think that I really should pop in one day. One day I finally did drop by and I was charmed by what I found inside.
As you may have noticed from my photos, I really love those baby shoe lasts and The Bronte Tram was the first Sydney store in which I found them. The owner Christine has promised to put one aside for me next time they make their way into the shop. 

The day I visited, the shop was busy with people searching for that special preloved item for their home.

The store stocks indoor and outdoor furniture, china, chandeliers, mirrors, fantastic 1950's clocks, old kitchenware, baltic pine and French provincial furniture as well as some industrial antiques.

If you look really hard you can find just about anything! Christine has that special talent of arranging items so they fit together as seamless whole.

I've posted some of my favourite corners of her store.

I hope you've enjoyed my little visit to The Bronte Tram,


The Bronte Tram

Friday Favourites - Spring

18 Sept 2009

I spent last weekend in Dungog visiting Farmer Andrew. Dungog was home to Pedalfest that weekend so there were lots of cyclists pedalling up and down Dowling Street. I have to admit, somewhat shamefacedly, that I have never learned to ride a bike so instead of cycling I roamed around the garden taking photos of the spring blossoms.

I do have some photos of 2 special participants at Pedalfest - Harriette and Boof - plus photos of the new residents of the Chicken Hilton but that's for another post.

Aren't the white flowers just lovely?

Have a great weekend every-one,


Paper Boat Press

16 Sept 2009

I can't remember how I learnt about Paper Boat Press. Maybe I read about Kylie Johnson on Pia's blog? Kylie is from Brisbane, where I grew up, and she is both a poet and a ceramicist. I love hand stamped ceramics so when I saw these cute tags on her online shop I knew I had to buy some.

The tags arrived carefully wrapped in bubblewrap a few weeks ago and I just waited until I had some biscuits to photograph. The lovely biscuits were made by Raffaella, one of my clients, as a thank-you present.

The cookies keep very well - they're 3 weeks old now and they taste just as good as the first day I tried them. I've renamed the cookies "Nonna's Cookies" in Rafaella's honour as she very kindly gave me the recipe. As soon as I get some time I plan to make a batch for myself.

I'll be back later on this week with some images from my weekend visiting Farmer Andrew in Dungog. I have a "shopshoot" to share with you next week, so please come back...



Rhubarb Frangipane Tart

14 Sept 2009

I don't make jam very often as I rarely eat it. I've always been a vegemite on toast girl. In the past, I've made cherry jam which was delicious, plum jam which I overcooked so it was closer to toffee than jam and peach and passionfruit jam - but it was some time ago.

As it's rhubarb season here I decided to make a rhubarb frangipane tart but first I had to make some rhubarb jam. I used a Skye Gyngell recipe that I found online and made a half batch. It seemed to work out okay but I wasn't planning to make the tart for another week.

A week later I made a batch of almond pastry, some oven baked rhubarb flavoured with orange and a 2 egg vanilla frangipane mixture and proceeded to construct the tart. I carefully measured and cut the rhubarb to fit the dimensions of the tart but you could always serve the oven baked rhubarb on the side. When the tart was baked I glazed the rhubarb with some apricot jam, which was the only item not in my cupboard so at 10.00 a.m. on Sunday I was standing in the queue at the supermarket. I took the tart into work on Monday and the verdict?

You can always tell if something is well received by the length of time before it's devoured and the tart disappeared quickly. As I've been away, my piece of tart has been waiting for me in the freezer. I tasted the tart last night when I arrived home and it's a beauty. The tang of the rhubarb and grapefruit jam is balanced by the vanilla frangipane filling. And the best news? I still have half a piece left for my dessert tonight.

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

Rhubarb Frangipane Tart - makes one rectangular tart
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cold water
½ cup rhubarb and grapefruit jam
1 quantity oven baked rhubarb, cut into 10 cm lengths to fit the tart
Optional - apricot jam to glaze

100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
100g almond meal
2 tbs plain flour

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. 

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board, then line a rectangular tart tin with the pastry and return to the fridge while you prepare the filling. The pastry freezes well so just wrap any remaining pastry in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. 

Preheat oven to 190°C. To make the filling cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until pale and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time followed by the flour and ground almonds. This should form a soft batter. You can also do this step in the food processor.

To assemble the tart, remove that tart shell from the fridge. Cover the base of the tart with the jam. Carefully cover the jam with the frangipane filling. Smooth the top with a knife. Arrange the rhubarb lengths decoratively over the frangipane filling. Place the tart on a baking tray to catch any spills before placing in the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hours or until the filling is set and the pastry nicely browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

When cold, glaze the top of the tart with some thinned, warmed apricot jam if desired. Unmould and cut into slices to serve.

I've had the day off and it's been a busy one. Back to work for me tomorrow,
Bye for now,




13 Sept 2009

I had a busy weekend driving to Dungog and back where Farmer Andrew lives. I inherited my Dad's love of long distance driving and spent the 3 hour journey singing along to my favourite driving cd's - Powderfinger and Hunters and Collectors. Spring has arrived so I took lots of flower photos in Dungog so when I have some time to edit them, I'll do a blog post or two.

I'm pretty tired though and have lots of chores to get through tonight so this will be a short post with only 1 image. I'll be back with more images tomorrow but I'll leave you with this teaser image. It has some relevance to my next blog post which will feature one of my perennial favourites, oven baked rhubarb.

Until then,


Friday favourites - Italy in black and white

11 Sept 2009

I think I've visited Florence on 3 occasions to date. I've had my wallet and passport stolen, I've been bitten on the arm by a horse at the Duomo and I've been refused admission to the Uffizi Gallery. How did that happen you ask?

Despite the claims at airport security, x-ray scanning does affect film. Each scan exposes the film and in these security conscious days I think I'd been through 10 x-ray checks by the time I'd reached Florence. I normally travel with my film secured in a lead lined bag but the day I visited the Uffizi Gallery I'd left the bag in my hotel room. I had a roll of black and white film in my camera and when I made my way through the long queue outside the gallery to the front of the queue, I noticed an x-ray scanner. 

I asked if I could have the camera examined manually, as I've done many times before and the security lady said "no". Much hand waving and shouting ensued thereafter and an English speaking employee of the Gallery came to interpret/defuse the situation. 20 minutes later we had reached an impasse and she refused to let me enter the gallery unless she scanned the film. It was late afternoon by this stage and I didn't have enough time to walk back to the hotel and back before the gallery closed for the day. The gallery employee (who was on my side ) knew we were fighting a losing battle and told me I should come back another day. Unfortunately there weren't going to be any other days on this trip as the following day the gallery was closed and I was heading to Rome for the long flight back to Sydney. I figured despite my love/hate relationship with Florence, I would probably return.

I left the Uffizi Gallery in a bit of a grump and took a photo of the Arno River at sunset on the way back to my hotel. I've attached a collage of some of the black and white photos I saved by not exposing them to the x-ray scanner. I still think it was worth it,

I'm off to visit Farmer Andrew this weekend so I may be a day late posting.

Have a great weekend every-one,



Chocolate Macarons

9 Sept 2009

10 years ago whilst visiting Paris with my brother, we visited La Grand Epicerie to buy some food for our dinner. We passed a counter that sold nothing but macarons in varying hues. Best of all they were handing out broken macarons for free. I can't tell you how many times we circled that counter until we were full. When I returned to Paris last year, I wasn't quite so lucky.

Macarons seem to be the flavour of 2009 on all the food blogs I visit so it was my turn to give them a try. I thought I'd use them to decorate a chocolate roulade that's yet to be made. I used a recipe from the Australian Masterchef website and to describe my attempts as a total disaster would be an understatement. The mixture was all wrong from the get go and when I visited my local Laurent patisserie it just confirmed how far from ideal they were. One batch was completely raw whilst the others looked good but were rock hard.

I bought a new piping tip, found another macaron recipe from Helen at Tartlette, added 2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa and followed her instructions to the letter. Even in a single tray some macarons turned out perfectly whilst others less so. In general the smaller the macaron and the longer they rested, the better they turned out. They're very delicate and I did lose a few through rough handling and if you look closely, you'll see the occasional thumb print in the macarons.

In the end I was pleased with my efforts but don't think I'll be making them again. I'll decorate the roulade some other way. The macarons won't be making it into the recipe book. I want the recipes in the book to be achievable for the average home cook without causing too much stress. I read of one blogger who tried making the macarons on 7 occasions before he was happy with the results! Not for me. I had lots of fun photographing my efforts though. If you're wondering, the pretty little glass cups and jug are new purchases of mine from T2.

Bye for now,


White Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

6 Sept 2009

It's Father's Day today, so firstly Happy Father's Day to my Papa. If I were home in Brisbane I'd be baking something special for him, but it wouldn't be these brownies. Dad would find them way too sweet.

These brownies are much sweeter than than anything else I bake but they're very good and my workmates love them.

I've made them quite a few times before but have never bothered cutting them into circles as suggested in the recipe. I did this time and the first question every-one asked was "what happened to all the bits you cut off?" Well I kept them for myself and they were good.

Back to work again for me tomorrow and I'll be taking in my latest creation. I'll post some images next week once it's been cut and tasted. To all of you having a Public Holiday on Monday - have a great day off.

Bye for now,


Friday Favourite - Grandma's Tea Set

4 Sept 2009

When I'm home in Brisbane it's always a challenge finding good light in which to photograph. My favourite location is downstairs in what used to be the garage before it was turned into a family room. You should see me balanced on a rickety old chair trying to take an overhead shot without breaking my neck.

I've always loved photography, particularly black and white photography. One of the best exponents of the art was Sydney artist Max Dupain and for a short time he was married to another photographer called Olive Cotton. I saw a retrospective of her work at the Art Gallery of New South Wales long before I studied photography and I was particularly taken with Tea Cup Ballet.

The tea cups are from my late Grandma's tea set. Every Mother's Day Grandma would host a morning tea and would serve cheese blintzes and her special apple pie on matching plates. The pattern is quite wild isn't it? The insides of the cups are stained and crazed with age and you can only imagine the stories they would have heard over the years.

Have a great weekend every-one,


P.S If you've been trying to get me via my website contact page, it seems to be down so I apologise for not answering. Please email me instead at

P.P.S The contact form is back in working order.


Queensberry Albums and Wedding Photography

2 Sept 2009

First comes love, then comes marriage etc, etc. A few years ago I drove down to the Mornington Peninsula to attend the wedding of my good friends Jenny and Tony. Fast forward a few years and they're now the proud parents of 2 children - a boy and a girl. Their 2 cherubs are pictured below in all their glory during a recent trip to Sydney.

What do my friends have in common with Queenberry albums and wedding photography? Quite a lot as it happens. Do you remember how much fun you had looking back at your parents and grandparents wedding albums? With the onset of the digital age, most images never make it past your computer, let alone into an album. I think it will be sad not to be able to pick up an album which documents all of life's important events.

The wedding album is your first family heirloom and for a few years now I've been using Queensberry albums because they provide beautifully made bespoke albums which showcase my images perfectly. This afternoon I put on my wedding photographer's hat and went into the city to attend a Queenberry album seminar.

Queensberry albums have just launched their newly designed website which for the first time ever caters for the bride and groom. I had chat with Danny and Ratkim from the team and I've been promised a tour of the Queensberry factory in Auckland if/when I get to New Zealand later in the year. Danny has also promised that the software boys will take me out for a kebab. That's an offer that's just about too good to refuse!

I'll be back at the end of the week,

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