michele varian shopshoot

28 Nov 2012

When I was planning my trip to New York, I asked Holly from the blog decor8 for some shopshoot suggestions. Her first suggestion was Michele Varian's shop in New York's Soho district. Sydney is a long way from New York and I confess to not being familiar with Michele and her work, so I checked the website to get an idea of what her shop was all about. I was heartened by what I saw and we made a date.

As I walked towards the shop I found Howard Street blocked to traffic. The street was lined with trailers and lots of important looking people walked by carrying clipboards and loud hailers. A tv show was being filmed. 

What did I find inside? An enticing mix of Michele's signature cushions and new line of wallpaper, vintage furniture, lighting, gifts and artwork.

The front of the shop is quite dark and moody.

I just love the chalkboard globe and the delicate glassware.

The mood lightens as you move towards the rear of the store to the colourful display of cushions.

Don't you just love the vibrant colours?

Some of the delicate jewellery Michele stocks.

Many thanks to Michele for being so welcoming and allowing me to photograph her lovely store. Her store can be found at 27 Howard Street in New York. 

If you'd like to know more about Michele please read this Q & A on decor8.

See you all again next week,


pumpkin pie

26 Nov 2012

This is my delayed Thanksgiving tribute - pumpkin pie. As we don't celebrate Thanksgiving Day here, pumpkin pie is rarely seen in Australia. I don't think I've ever seen it in a bakery or on the menu in a cafe.

For some reason I decided to make pumpkin pie when I was in my teens. My parents had a few American cookbooks so there was no shortage of recipes from which to choose. Those books are in Brisbane but I found this recipe in Good Taste magazine earlier this year and it looked nice, so I bookmarked it especially for Thanksgiving.

You know me, I love to change recipes but this one I barely altered. The only change I made was to roast the pumpkin in the oven whilst I was baking something else. I cut the pumpkin into 2 large chunks, removed the seeds then wrapped the chunks in foil and baked them until the pumpkin was soft. When it was cool I just scraped the cooked pumpkin away from the skin. It couldn't have been easier!

I bought some autumn pie cutters when I was in New York so I decided to make a decorative edge for the pie from the leftover pastry. The leaves are fixed with beaten egg to the prebaked shell and I sprinkled them with some maple sugar flakes. I also made a few extra to serve with the pie. They took about 7 minutes to bake whilst the pie was in the oven.

I took the pie in to work today and served the pie with some nice thick cream. As pumpkin pie isn't so common here I wasn't sure how the test audience would react. I came back after lunch to find an empty pie plate and a thumbs up from Amy, my American workmate, so I guess it went down okay.

See you all again on Wednesday with a NYC shopshoot.

Bye for now,


caramel macadamia cheesecake

21 Nov 2012

I'd planned on doing something special for Thanksgiving but I spent most of the weekend feeling a bit under the weather so it didn't happen. However what I'm going to share with you today is pretty special. It's an Ottolenghi recipe for a caramel macadamia cheesecake and as he writes so well, I've attached a link to the recipe on Nordljus' blog rather than rewriting the recipe.

The original recipe uses cream cheese but I find cream cheese too bland so when I make cheesecake, I usually use a combination of cream cheese and farm cottage cheese. I'm also not a fan of biscuit bases so I made a simple shortbread base instead.

This is not the sort of cheesecake you whip up on a whim. It's a 2 day effort of nut toasting, cheesecake construction, toffee preparation and sauce making.

As it's such a labour of love I did take quite a few pictures.

In a rare move, I actually carried the cheesecake and trimmings down 3 flights of stairs to photograph it outdoors. Somehow I managed to get it down the stairs and back up again without a disaster.

I was meeting a friend for dinner and I always bring dessert, so this was my contribution.

I used my sweet little springform tin which is about 16 cm but I didn't reduce the quantities at all so that's why the cake is so high. It meant I had some leftover toffeed macadamias and caramel sauce, which I can assure you wasn't a bad thing. The toffeed macadamias are absolutely delicious and quite addictive.

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers. I'll see you all again next week with another New York shopshoot so until then,



nyc in black and white

19 Nov 2012

I started my visit to New York with a visit to the Guggenheim Museum where a great Picasso in Black and White exhibit had just opened. As a tribute, I thought I'd devote this post to black and white images.

I always travel with my film camera and a few rolls of black and white fim. I didn't manage to take any black and white photos of Quebec and Montreal so I used the film in New York. Not all of these images were shot on film though. Can you spot which ones were shot digitally?

I thought this scene was kind of timeless.

Grand Central Station is such an iconic building, isn't? As is the New York Public Library

A street scene from Brooklyn.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. I was hard at work in the kitchen baking christmas cakes. They're all wrapped up stored in their tins just waiting for Christmas to arrive.

See you all again on Wednesday,


brooklyn, nyc

14 Nov 2012

New York is the place to go at the moment for my friends and workmates. Despite the very long journey involved, I'm the third in my circle of friends and the third person at work to visit this year. In a piece of good timing, which is rare for me, I managed to leave New York before Hurricane Sandy hit.

I knew I'd be heading to Brooklyn a couple of times for some shopshoots, so I picked up my cameras and went out exploring.

On my first visit, I walked from Brooklyn Borough Hall back to Manhattan.

I passed some beautiful houses in Brooklyn Heights, some of which were being used for location shoots.

I walked along the promenade for a look at the New York skyline and a touching memorial to 9/11. I managed to walk the Brooklyn Bridge without being bowled over by a cyclist but it was a bit hair raising at times.

I love this photo I shot on film during my visit to Williamsburg.

My last visit to Brooklyn was purely for my enjoyment. I visited the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which was one of the highlights of my trip. I'm sorry to learn how much damage was done to the gardens by Hurricane Sandy. 

I visited the gardens on a gloriously sunny Saturday. I explored the rose garden and the Japanese Gardens.

I admired the bonsais that were on display in the greenhouse.

I have plenty more images of pre-Sandy New York to share with you over the coming weeks. I'll see you all again next week, so until then


white chocolate cranberry macadamia oatmeal cookies

12 Nov 2012

I like to eat something sweet after dinner with my cup of tea, so most weeks I make a batch of cookies. Cookie dough keeps really well in the fridge or freezer and as you all know, I honestly think the cookies taste better made from dough that's been in the fridge for a day or 2.

I actually made this dough a week ago, baked a dozen cookies just for me then baked the rest of the cookie dough this past weekend so I had something to take with me to work.

They're pretty festive looking and I think they'd be perfect for Christmas.

I used the new cookie scoop I bought at Crate and Barrel in New York.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from this Epicurious recipe. Please note these are not chewy cookies.
Makes about 30 cookies printable recipe
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
140 gms unsalted butter
⅓ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oats
⅓ cup coarsely chopped toasted macadamia nuts,
⅓ cup cup white chocolate chunks
⅓ cup cup dried cranberries
60 gms white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.

Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the cinnamon in medium bowl.
Cream butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in the chocolate chunks, the macadamia nuts and the cranberries.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared trays, 2 inches apart and flatten slightly. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 12 minutes. I turn the trays halfway through the baking time and flatten the cookies a little more.

Cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack and allow to cool completely. The cookies will continue to harden as they cool. Stir chopped chocolate in top of double boiler until melted and smooth. (I melt the chocolate in a plastic bag in the microwave and snip one corner off to make a piping bag). Drizzle the melted chocolate over cookies in zigzag pattern. Let stand until the chocolate sets. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy the cookies. They were a hit at work.

See you on Wednesday with some photos from Brooklyn.



mulberry crumble cake

7 Nov 2012

One of my workmates has a mulberry tree. She knows how much I like mulberries and brought some into work for me. My fingers now bear the tell tale mulberry stains. When it came time to bake this weekend, I changed my plans and decided to use some of the mulberries to make a mulberry crumble cake. I didn't have a recipe so I used my regular butter cake recipe, borrowed the crumble from another recipe and voila, mulberry crumble cake.

As well as the bundt tin you saw on the blog last week, I also bought a small springform tin. It's really solid and the perfect size, so I know I'm going to get a great deal of use from this little tin.

Farmer Andrew came over on Sunday and had a chunk of the mulberry cake for afternoon tea.

He seemed to like it. I took the leftovers into work with me on Monday and they seemed to like it as well.

As I used an 17 cm tin, I downsized the recipe but here's the original recipe, suitable for a 23 cm (9 inch) tin. If you don't have mulberries you could use any other dark berry like blueberries or blackberries.

Mulberry Crumble Cake printable recipe
Crumble Topping
¼ cup (55 gm) brown sugar
¼ cup (35 gm) plain flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (70 gm) pecans
30 grams (1 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks

Cake Ingredients
300 grams mulberries, washed and hulled
250 grams (8 oz) unsalted butter
200 grams (1 cup) caster sugar
grated rind of a lemon
2 eggs
2 cups self raising flour
175 mls (¾ cup) buttermilk

Grease and line the base of a 23 cm springform tin. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF.

Combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor. Add the pecans and butter and pulse until just combined. Place the crumble topping in a small bowl and refrigerate while making the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the grated lemon rind and the 2 eggs and mix until combined well.

Sift the flour. Add the flour alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. Spoon half the batter into the greased tin. Layer half the mulberries over the top of the batter. Gently spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the crumble and tuck the remaining mulberries into the crumble layer. I reserved a tablespoon of the crumble topping to scatter over the mulberries.

Bake the cake for 1-1¼ hours or until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it. Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Have a great weekend. See you all again next Monday with some images of New York pre Hurricane Sandy.



greg hatton shopshoot

5 Nov 2012

Way back in April I went down to Melbourne on a work trip. I decided to combine business with pleasure and spent the weekend staying with an old friend in Castlemaine. Castlemaine is about an 1½ hour's drive from Melbourne Airport but I made a leisurely trip via Kyenton to see some autumn colour. The following day we drove to the nearby village of Newstead to pay furniture and lighting designer Greg Hatton a visit. I saw some of Greg's work when I photographed Koskela and wanted to see more. As we drove through Newstead we saw this magnificent brick chimney and knew we were heading in the right direction.

Greg and his family live in the old Newstead Butter Factory and when Greg bought it, the building had been used as a candle factory. Greg had to painstakingly strip the wax back to reveal the beauty beneath.

The building is huge and houses Greg's workshop, a small flat and a large gallery like area which features Greg's furniture and lighting. Greg has great plans for the factory and the weekend we visited he was in the middle of building a new kitchen.

All these images were taken in the little downstairs flat. I absolutely loved all the details.

I loved the bentwood chairs and the unexpected touch of glamour provided by the chandelier. The chandelier is very similar to one my Grandma had hanging in her home.

Outside are remnants of the building's former life as a factory, garden beds, lots of interesting looking sheds and of course, a 'ute'.

Greg handed me a cup of tea and I roamed around snapping to my heart's content. I took loads of photos that day because there were so many interesting things to photograph.

Back inside I visited the workshop where the magic happens.

In the entry way was a bee box sideboard.

Greg is the ultimate recycler, so nothing goes to waste.

One day I hope to have one of Greg's lighting creations hanging in my own home.

There was enough time to take a few more pictures before we left for a spot of lunch in Castlemaine.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the old Newstead Butter Factory. Many thanks to Greg, Katie, Hazel and Kevin the wonder dog for allowing me to visit their home.

See you all again on Wednesday,

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