Tag Archives: Eat Your Heart Out

The Nearness of You…

28 May

“It’s not the pale moon that excites me / That thrills and delights me / Oh no, it’s just the nearness of you….”

Every day that passes, Mark and I are closer to meeting our little person, our baby who we are so immeasurably in love with.

Our sweet little girl or our cheeky baby boy who we have been dreaming of and talking about for the best part of a year.

Everything is ready – the linen is washed and the cradle is warm and cozy.

The clothes are hanging in the wardrobe.

The bags are packed and in the car.

The car seat is in the backseat, simply awaiting its precious cargo!

Now it is just the equally glorious and torturous task of waiting until this baby is ready to be born, and to meet all the wonderful people who love it so.

“If you’ll only grant me the right / To hold you ever so tight / And to feel in the night the nearness of you”

Shelves which will be filled with special things and photos of special memories for our special baby

Shelves which will be filled with special things and photos of special memories for our special baby

Love hearts bought at Eumundi Markets when I was 6 weeks pregnant and sick as a dog!

Love hearts bought at Eumundi Markets when I was 6 weeks pregnant and sick as a dog!

My favourite saying bought by my cousin and BFF will serve as a reminder to me every day

My favourite saying bought by my cousin and BFF will serve as a reminder to me every day

The cradle our baby will sleep in is mine and my brothers' from when we were babies!

The cradle our baby will sleep in is mine and my brothers’ from when we were babies!

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This beautiful blanket was lovingly hand embroidered by my Nan - there are four of these garlands - one on each edge... A new family heirloom!

This beautiful blanket was lovingly hand embroidered by my Nan – there are four of these garlands – one on each edge… A new family heirloom!

This Steiff bear was bought for my baby in Germany by my Pop who died in April last year. He was so looking forward to his great grandchild that he bought this bear for him/her before we were even expecting. A very special man who is very missed by all

This Steiff bear was bought for my baby in Germany by my Pop who died in April last year. He was so looking forward to his great grandchild that he bought this bear for him/her before we were even expecting. A very special man who is very missed by all

All the little pink clothes are hanging ready to be filled by sweet little girl

All the little pink clothes are hanging ready to be filled by sweet little girl

Or a cheeky little boy...

Or a cheeky little boy…

I am dying to know which one it will be!

I am dying to know which one it will be!

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Ruby Red Rhubarb

20 Oct

So I love living in the Hills District.

I have been known to refer to it as “God’s country” on more than one occasion.

I love the wide open spaces, the rolling hills, the paddocks with their horses and cows…

What I particularly love, is the abundance of fresh produce grown in the market gardens that are so prolific in this area. I love that at nearly every corner, one can find a little stall selling cut flowers, honey straight from the hive, fruit, vegetables or even cow manure if you so desire!

The other day I picked up a beautiful bunch of rhubarb for the grand total of $1!

I was so excited I bought the whole three bunches on offer and gave one to my mum, and one to my psudo-if-we-were-catholics-then-this-woman-would-be-my-God-mother friend.

I decided to stew my rhubarb, as I love anything stewed.

My brother Lee would disagree, as he would vehemently state “hot fruit is unnatural”

Alas, I began stewing.

Ruby Red Stewed Rhubarb

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of rhubarb, washed, chopped into 3-4cm pieces
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method

  • Add all ingredients to a saucepan and stir over low heat
  • Leave to simmer/stew for about 10 minutes
  • Eat hot or cold!

 

A Little Touch of Fancy

12 Oct

For my birthday this year, I received some money with which I was told to buy something nice!

I had been drooling over chandeliers and pendant light fittings for quite some time, so when a little extra cash found its way into my hot little hand, I knew exactly what I wanted to buy!

I found the perfect chandelier at Beacon Lighting and the next day Mark and my very handy Dad had it hanging above our dining room table.

What do you think?

x

Ten Things

14 Sep

#1. This post is inspired by my lovely sister-in-law’s post which was, in turn, inspired by Bec’s post

#2. I can’t wait to see Brooke Fraser in concert. I hope she plays Arithmetic and CS Lewis Song. My friend Stacey always states “I love Brooke Fraser, and I want to be her” – I share the same sentiment!

#3. I had a job interview yesterday, and it’s a job I’m pretty desperate to get. I hate interviews with the fire of a thousand suns – but what I hate even MORE, is that we must wait for SIX WEEKS until we find out if we were successful or not! Sadists…

#4. My husband and I spent this last weekend in Canberra for the Floriade. It was beautiful. The sun was shining, the jazz was wafting, the breeze was blowing, and hands were holding. We all know how much I love holding hands. I kept declaring that “My cup runneth over”.

#5. We stayed at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra, which is super swanky. We were upgraded and given access to the Ambassador Lounge where we could nibble on pastries by day, and beautiful canapes by night. It was delightful. I delight in free stuff. Free expensive stuff particularly.

#6. I have a list of girls names, and a list of boys names compiled on my phone. I always add to it when I hear one I like. Too soon??

#7. I love my niece Lily Josephine within an inch of her life. She is breathtaking, and I love our dates where we just hang out together. I’m super excited to watch her grow up and hear what she has to say.

#8. I think Lily’s mum Linzi is the best mum out. Well, equal with Sammy and Clare-bear!

#9. My mum bought me a big bunch of poppies yesterday. I adore poppies, I love their colour and their fragility. They are wafting a soft, springy scent through my nice and clean house. Happy days.

#10. Lastly, happy birthday to my darling, most beloved husband for Saturday. I met him when he was 24 years old… and now he’s turning 30! I thought I loved him at 24, but boy I love him more now! John Lennon happened to get inside my heart before I was even born, and write the words I feel about you…

“Thought I’d been in love before,
But in my heart I wanted more
Seems like all I really was doing
Was waiting for you

From this moment on I know
Exactly where my life will go
Seems that all I really was doing
Was waiting for love

It’s real love
It’s real, yes it’s real love
It’s real”

Happy Tuesday!

Beautiful Interiors

6 Sep

I love this home.

I love the soft and billowy feel, the light and airy and pretty rooms that lend themselves to eachother so beautifully.

Do you find yourself obsessed with a particular home?

Swanky grilled cheese and posh tomato soup

4 Sep

One of my favourite things in the world is grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I am quite partial to canned tomato soup and white bread, but I reckon it would be fun to swank it up occasionally.

How cute are these toastie fingers and soup shots?

These would be beautiful made with a gorgeous sourdough and gruyere cheese…

My mouth is watering.

Bill’s Individual Cheesecakes

28 Jul

My mum is a baker.

Well, that’s not technically true, she is actually a nurse – but she is a recreational baker.

She often speaks about her desire to bake sweet treats and sell them in a specialty shop that also sells second hand books, flowers, coffee and has a facility to weigh babies (yes, weird I know, but that’s my mum!)

Last Friday night my mum and I made a big family dinner to celebrate the fact that all 6 of us were under one roof for a meal – something that rarely happens these days!

We baked these beautiful Bill Granger individual lime cheesecakes. They were lovely, plenty of lime tang, and just the right size. They were a hit with our four boys too!

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients
Base
  • 100g shortbread biscuits
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter
Filling
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 100mL sour cream
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • strawberries or raspberries to top
 Method
  • Preheat the oven to 160’C
  • Line a 12 hole, 125mL capacity muffin tim with patty pans
  • Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs, using a food processor or rolling pin
  • Put the biscuit crumbs, ground almonds and melted butter into a bowl and combine
  • Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture inot the base of each patty pan
  • Refridgerate while you make the filling
  • To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg first, then the egg yolk, vanilla and lime zest, beating well after each addition.
  • Spoon mixture over the bases, then sprinkle the berries evenly on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheesecakes are puffed and starting to colour.
  • Allow to cool, then refridgerate until ready to eat
  • Remove the cheesecakes from the patty pans
  • Top each one with fresh berries and dust with icing sugar to serve

 Being individual, these cheesecakes don’t need the overnight setting time a large one usually requires.

Tanya and Curtis’ Fennel and Potato Soup

6 Jul

My friend Tanya is gorgeous girl who likes fun times and yummy food – maybe that’s one reason why we’re friends!

Recently Tanya cooked Curtis Stone’s roasted fennel and potato soup, and I loved it. I knew there was something extra  in the soup, and that it wasn’t merely potato and leek, but I couldn’t quite pick the fennel taste, as it was very subtle, but definitely gave it a depth of flavour which was beautiful.

I made it for tea tonight, the perfect meal for a rainy, wintery night – complete with crusty ciabatta toast and pastrami – oh, and the ultimate luxury – warm pyjamas, MasterChef and my husband : )

Roasted Fennel and Potato Soup

Ingredients
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 500g russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup lite cream (if you are like me, you can do without the cream, but I will use it when I have guests and want to impress!)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chives to serve
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180’C
  • Toss the fennel and onions with 1 tablespoon of oil on a large heavy baking tray to coat. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the fennel and onions are tender.
  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the leeks and sauté for 5 minutes, or until softened slightly.
  • Add the broth, potatoes, and roasted fennel mixture and bring to a simmer.
  • Continue simmering for 18 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Remove the soup from the heat and cool slightly.
  • Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.
  •  Strain the soup into a clean large saucepan.
  • Add the cream to the soup and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls then garnish with the chives and serve.

Serves 6

Note: I cheated a bit with this recipe. I was in need of a quick to make dinner, so skipped a few steps, and the recipe was still beautiful! I softened the fennel, leek and potato in the bottom of the pot with a little bit of garlic and olive oil. To that I added my stock and let simmer until tender. I then Bamixed the mixture, then added the cream, then served. Voila!

The Diva of the Kitchen

13 Jun

Last night was a cold, wintery night here in Sydney, and after having our lovely friends Vanessa and Marcus over for lunch (see Vanessa’s fab blog here http://vanessajanephotography.wordpress.com) Mark and I found ourselves with a quiet night ahead! While Mark was happy playing PS3, I decided to tackle what I like to call the Diva of the Kitchen, the macaroon.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t find her to be too much of a prima-donna, but she definitely has that reputation, so I learned whilst pouring over the hundreds of recipes on the internet! There were basic recipes, variants on basic recipes, lists of what to do, lists of what NOT to do, discussions on how long to age egg whites, how long to let rest before baking, what special mats to bake them on – I got tired of reading – so I just decided to give it a go!

My friend Tamara came over and helped me with my mission (see Tamara’s pretty blog here http://tamarabell11.wordpress.com) When we returned from Woolworths with the ingredients, I realised that I had made the same mistake I always make – I had not read the recipe from start to finish before beginning to bake! I learned that I should have separated my egg whites and had them resting at room temperature DAYS AGO, and I needed to have at least 3 hours up my sleeve for resting time! I had not aged my egg whites, nor did I have hours up my sleeve – and they still worked! So don’t be scared, fellow bakers, just give them a go!

 

French Almond Macaroons

Ingredients
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 125g almond meal
  • 110g egg whites aged overnight or longer, at room temperature
  • 30g white sugar
  • Pinch of salt
Method
  • Use a pencil to draw golf-ball sized circles about 4cm apart onto a piece of baking paper. 

(Note: You only have to draw circles on the baking paper if you want absolutely even-sized macaroons. If you’re skilled with piping and don’t mind eyeballing the amount of batter per biscuit, skip this step).

  • Double sift almond meal and icing sugar. Mix the almond meal and icing sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large, clean, dry bowl whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff, firm and shiny peaks form.

(Note: If you choose to colour your macaroons, add food colouring at this stage. Take care not to over-beat eggs and lose the peaks in the process).

  • With a flexible spatula, gently fold in almond and icing sugar mixture into egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and ‘flow like magma.’ When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.
  • Using a piping bag, pipe the batter onto the baking sheets onto the previously drawn circles. Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove any air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.

(Note: When making these myself, I baked half of the biscuits straight away, and let half of them rest for one hour. They both worked, and tasted fabulous, although the ones that I allowed to rest, definitely had better ‘feet’).

  • Bake in a 160’C fan forced oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar, and rotate the baking sheet after 5 minutes for even baking.
  • Remove macaroons from oven and transfer on the baking paper to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a knife underneath the macaroon to carefully remove from paper.
  • Pair macaroons of similar size, and pipe your filling of choice onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macaroons, and refrigerate to allow flavors to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
A Few Tips
  •  Sift your dry ingredients at least twice – multiple times if necessary. You want your ground nuts to be powdery, no lumps. Almond meal and icing sugar mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to make finer.
  • Use old egg whites. Everywhere I read said to leave them out for three days at room temperature if you don’t mind waiting for that long. Using fresh egg whites is more likely to result in macaroons that are too fragile and flat.

(Note: My egg whites were fresh, and I bought them that night straight out of the fridge at Woolies. I brought them down in temperature by letting them sit in a bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes to remove the chill of the fridge).

  • The final macaron batter should have the consistency of magma. What’s the consistency of magma? Not too liquidy, nor too stiff. If you form a peak, it should slowly and completely sink back into the batter.
  • If the cookies form peaks on their tops after piping, flatten them with a wet fingertip.
  • Prevent your macarons from burning by using a double layered baking sheet (stack two sheets on top of each other) and by propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon for the entire baking period.

I ran out of time to make a proper ganache filling – I must admit that! I used Betty Crocker frosting – which was nice, but WAY too sweet for my liking. There are a million ganache filling recipes online that I am dying to try. The first one being white chocolate and raspberry! But that will come – another day, another blog post!

 Here are my pretty macaroons, photographed by my beautiful husband!

 

A Greedy, Needy, Life-changing Love

12 Jun

I have been devouring the latest issue of the Donna Hay Magazine over the last few days. This morning, I turned the last page, and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw featured on her “Things I Love” page.

Here she writes lovingly about the macaron. This caught my eye as my husband loves macarons, and I’ve been wanting to try cooking them for a while. This may just be the little push I needed. In the interim, enjoy how Donna waxes lyrical about her favourite biscuit.

“When I was 24 years old, I visited Paris for the first time and fell deeply in love. It was a greedy, needy, life-changing love and it was with a petite Parisian more beautiful than any I’d ever seen. I fell in love with the macaron. From the moment I locked eyes on the colourful pods in neat rows, their crisp shells back to back, it has been an ongoing ardour. I know it’s true love, because I can never fault them and I never tire of them. My hunt for the perfect macaron has seen me enter every patisserie from Sydney to Soho. Their softly chewy fillings and myriad flavours drawing me in every time. I love the way their fragile crusts form little peaks on top that look as if they’ve been kissed before they were baked. And, although I still covet these heavenly confections from Pierre Herme in Paris, I’m delighted my love for the macaron is no longer restricted by a long haul flight. Now I keep the general store’s confiserie stocked with an array of delectable macarons, and indulge in my sweet affair as often as I like. But the most exciting thing about this love is that it’s best shared, so that everyone can enjoy a little joie de vivre” (Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 51, p.170).