Monday, June 23, 2008

Sydney Good Food and Drink Show

And here's the star! I was at Friday's show with a friend from school (How crazy can life be when you move to the other side of the world and still go out with girls from school?) We managed to get tickets to see Gordon Ramsay in action and even though we were pretty well at the back, thanks to the big screens, we still had a good view. The theatre seated 2500 and there wasn't a seat to spare! He, and his assistant made a 3 course dinner comprising of a chorizo and butter bean soup, pan fried lamb with a green bean salad and pain perdue. Nothing too complicated so he had plenty of time to chat!
As to the rest of the show, there were loads of stands with lots of goodies to sample and as we had our glass (free on entry) to hand there was plenty to drink too! I did manage to pace myself as I went to both the day session and the After Dark one so didn't leave until 9pm!
What I really enjoyed was talking to the local producers who were there and can thoroughly recommend this raspberry wine vinegar. I happily drank the sample that I was
given as it just tasted so wonderfully raspberryish! I can't wait to try it made into a vinaigrette with some rocket. I was also given an ideas sheet which included using it with olive oil to pan fry salmon steaks and to pour it over vanilla ice cream as a pudding! Yum! And the lovely thing is that it is produced locally (well certainly by Australian distances!) and that it is available at a deli in a nearby suburb.

No show is complete without a gadget and here's mine! It claims to peel and devein prawns in one go and certainly it seemed to work in the hands of the guy demonstrating it. You take off the head with the safe blade at the base and then push the pointy end down the back of the prawn. This separates the prawn from its shell and loosens the vein so all you need to do is pull your pan ready prawn away! With a bit more practise you can shell your prawn and still leave the head and tail on....and there is a bottle opener too!! I just had to add the quince paste bargain that I picked up too....$1 each!

Other treats included a bagful of these wonderful chilli products. The mild chilli dressing is my wonderful way of getting the Little One to eat salad and I was so happy to see that there was a stand full of the stuff. I've only ever seen it available at the market at The Rocks before. The sate sauce is great for adding to noodles for lunch boxes, the green chilli sauce is a great Thai curry standby and the chilli jam is good anytime!

And finally I just have to track these guys down again as their chocolates are absolutely wonderful. We got a show bag which had a box of their wonderful chocolates, a couple of bars of dark chocolate but the absolute best find was their orange sticks. I'd sort of expected a Matchmaker moment but these are lovely candied sticks of peel with the most lovely dark chocolate over them. What a way to eat fruit!!
And a quick thanks to the guys on Hilliers stand who put loads of chocolate mints into my bag too!!
All I can say is roll on next years show!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I've been tagged!!!

I've had my first tag and that's a bit exciting! George from has done the tagging and here's what it involves!
1Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2Share six random and/or weird things about yourself.
3Tag six random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Having worked out who to tag I then had the knotty problem of deciding which random things about me I wanted the world to know but here goes!

1 I love playing the drums. I came upon this skill when I was at school and decided that music would be a good thing to do especially as I wanted to make a career of teaching primary school children. To do music, I had to play an instrument so picked on the drums. My first performance as a percussionist was 8 weeks later in the local boy's school production of My Fair Lady.

2 I met my husband through the local youth orchestra, he played clarinet and I was on the timpani.

3 Whilst playing in a concert, the conductor realised that I would make a good stunt double for the principal player in a film that his friend was making. So somewhere there is a film that has me fighting an opera singer!

4 I love to scuba dive but I hate getting my face wet. My dive buddies need to know that I don't open my eyes until I am well below the water level.

5 I love messing about in the kitchen and find any sort of cooking a great way to de-stress. (I'm not sure if this is random enough for foodie blogs!)

6 I love watching rugby and still think that Rob Andrews' drop kick in the final seconds of the game against the Wallabies at Twickers was one of the greatest moments.(Sorry,Johnny!)

Anyway, after having revealed all that here are the people that I wish to tag!

Gayle at

Laura at

MrsW at

Amelita at

Tina at

Vonsashen at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sweet and Simple Bakes Challenge

One of the great things about belonging to a world wide foodie forum is the abundance of great ideas to have a go at and the 24 hour support that you can draw on! Rosie and Maria have a great new blog called Sweet and Simple Bakes which issues a challenge each month to help and encourage newbie bakers and to add to the repetoire of the more experienced! I missed last months as I didn't have my act together quickly enough but this months looked too good to miss so here it is!

The Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies!

The recipe can be found at

The recipe was so easy to do and I actually made 21 so that the cook could have a little perk too! The cookies are really lovely and chocolatey with some crunch around the edge but a chewy centre and robust enough to stay whole in a school lunchbox! If you're new to baking do try them as I'm sure you'll not be disappointed!

Monday, June 2, 2008

George's Autumn Soup

One of the best things about joining a foodie forum and creating a blog is that I've had access to a cornucopia of new food ideas and so much enthusiasm about all things good to eat that I'm wishing for a few more nights in the week to cook all the dinners I would like to taste!
Yesterdays offering was thanks to George, a fellow foodie on Vi's Pantry and creator of the wattleseed cookies in an earlier post. She's writing her own cook book and I'm lucky enough to try out some of her recipes. I chose her Autumn Soup as it's autumn here (Well, we've just slipped into winter now!), it contains ras el hannout which I've had in the cupboard but not used yet, it needs pumpkin and I have my own mini store in the garage as my veggie shop was selling them 3 for $2 and the kids had declaired their love of spinich.(I must have missed that earlier!!)
Well, this soup has the lot and was so simple to make!
Autumn Soup
Serves 6 generously
1 pumpkin

2 sweet potato
1 white onion
1 red onion
250g red lentils
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ras el hannout
1 ltr water
100g spinach
250 ml sour cream
1 tsp harrisa paste

1. Preheat the oven to 180′c or the equivalent.
2. Cut the vegetables into 2cm dice and put in a roasting tray with the garlic, cumin and olive oil. Roast for 45 min or until soft and slightly caramelised.

3. Puree the vegetables and place into a large pan or casserole dish, add the water and bring to the boil.
4. Add the lentils, ras el hannout and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour until the lentils are soft.
5. While the soup is simmering make the spiced sour cream. Whisk the harrisa into 100 ml of the sour cream and reserve until ready.
6. When the soup is ready add the remaining 150ml sour cream and spinach, heat gently until warmed through.
7. Serve the soup with a spoon of spiced sour cream and soup almonds scattered over.

George also recommends serving this with a variety of flatbreads spread with the harissa paste but I just used crusty granary bread rolls.

The smell as the veggies were roasting was heavenly and I had to stop myself diving into the oven with my fork in hand. I needed to add more water when I put the lentils in but that was no hardship as it meant more soup for us, and we love our soup here. As I tasted the soup I was a bit worried that it might be a bit bland and had to stop myself from twidling with the seasoning and am I glad I did as the soup came alive with the spiced sour not miss that out!!!!

The aroma that wafts from the pan gives a hint of Eastern promise and of warmer weather to come. This is one we'll be repeating through the winter too!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Go the Tahs!!!

We were all cheering for the Waratahs last night as they played in the finals of the Super 14 rugby union. They were playing in Christchurch NZ against the Crusaders. Sadly they lost but we were not down, no! we had a Waratah tart to cheer us.

The waratah is the state flower for New South Wales and is absolutely lovely to look at. It's also the emblem for the state rugby union team.

The tart was based on a Bakewell tart recipe. I know that there may be looks of horror from those in the know about Bakewell Puddings but this was more in the style of a 'Mr Kipling'.

Waratah Tart.

6oz plain flour and a pinch of salt
11/2oz lard
11/2oz butter
cold water
Strawberry jam
4oz self raising flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder
4oz butter
2oz sugar
2oz ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon softened butter
1 tablespoon milk

Make the pastry by rubbing the lard and butter into the flour and salt until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add about 6 teaspoons of water and draw the mix together to make a smooth dough. Roll out and line a flan dish, prick the bottom and then put in the fridge for about 30 mins to rest. Bake blind at 180 degreesC for 10 minutes.
Cover the pastry base with strawberry jam.
Make the sponge by putting all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth, adding a little milk if the mixture is too stiff. Pile into the pastry case and return to the oven for about 20 mins. It's done when a skewer comes out clean!
Leave to cool for about 15 mins and make the icing.
Put all the icing ingredients in a small heatproof bowl and blend together. Put the bowl into a basin of hot water and stir until the icing is smooth. Pour over the tart and decorate. I made a template of the Waratah's emblem and used coloured sugar.

Commiserations to the Waratahs but the Bledisloe Cup starts soon!

Now who to cheer for as Daniel Carter is back on form and is rather nice to look at!!