Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tarts

Today I have two tarts which are perfect for taking on a picnic if it’s Spring where you live, or for eating indoors if it’s starting to get cold in your part of the world.  Our weather was warm and sunny yesterday.
So warm and sunny, we decided to walk around the Botanical Gardens.  There were lots of people having picnics and barbeques…a perfect spot for it.  Only 2km from the city centre it’s easy to get to and a beautiful place to walk amongst the trees and flowers.  There are hundreds of bats there at night hanging from the trees.

Talking about easy..I’ve been experimenting with developing recipes lately and these tarts are easy to make..very quick to put together.  Next weekend I’m going to be in Adelaide at Eat.Drink.Blog 3 Food Bloggers Conference.  The have so much planned for us I’m really excited.  In particular I’m looking forward to meeting other food bloggers and learning more about food photography and styling.

Here are the recipes for the tarts, I hope the week is good to you all.

Pumpkin Tart

600g pumpkin thinly sliced, 1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp thyme (fresh or dried), 1 french shallot (eschallot), chopped, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp honey or brown sugar.

Goats cheese (I use Meredith Dairy in extra virgin olive oil) , Couple of handfuls Rocket (Arugula).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Line a 22cm tart tin with puff pastry and prick base with a fork.

Place olive oil, thyme, shallot, garlic, balsamic vinegar and honey/brown sugar, salt and pepper in a jug and whisk together with a fork making sure brown sugar is dissolved into mixture if using.

Place pumpkin slices in a bowl, pour mixture over and mix together.  Arrange pumpkin in the pastry case.

Place in oven and cook for 50-60 minutes.  Let cool a little, crumble over goats cheese and pile some rocket that has been dressed with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a salad vinegar (red wine, white wine, cider, balsamic) whatever you have in the cupboard, salt & pepper on top.

Tomato Tart

2 punnets cherry tomatoes, 1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Ricotta cheese, basil oil (or fresh basil leaves).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Line a 22cm tart tin with puff pastry and prick base with a fork.

Place olive oil, brown sugar, dried basil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper in a jug and whisk together with a fork making sure the brown sugar has dissolved.

Place cherry tomatoes in a bowl, pour mixture over and mix together.  Place tomatoes in pastry case.

Place in oven and cook for 50-60 minutes.  Let cool a little, crumble ricotta over the top, drizzle with some basil oil and sea salt and pepper.


Catherine x

Soup Time

Hi All,

I’ve been craving soup lately, something with a moroccan flavour to it.  I did a search on the internet and found this Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea soup.  It’s very tasty and easy to demolish a couple of bowls in succession.  Serve with turkish bread soldiers for a change from everyday toast.

The recipe is from Super Food Ideas – August 2005, by Annette Forest.  This recipe has definitely stood the test of time.

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Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot & Chickpea Soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 teaspoon ground coriander,  2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder, 600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced, 500g carrots, peeled, sliced, 6 cups reduced-salt chicken stock, 300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, 1/2 small lemon, juiced
    Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sweet potato and carrot. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add stock. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are soft.
    Add chickpeas to soup and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.
    Blend soup, in batches, until smooth. Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring, until hot (do not boil). Ladle into bowls.

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NOTE:  I added half the tin of chickpeas to the soup and blended to a fine chunk for texture as I’m a fan of rustic soups.  I then added the other half of the chickpeas before warming up the soup.


Catherine x

A Trip To The Baker

Baker D Chirico is one of my favourite places to buy really good artisinal bread.  I stopped by there yesterday to get afternoon tea.  I came home with a little strawberry tart, a bomboloni (italian custard doughnut) and a loaf of seeded bread (confession:  I did scoff down both the sweet treats after photographing them!!)  Here’s a link to some images from Google if you’d like to see more of Baker D Chirico.

The afternoon tea looked (and tasted) delicious, so I thought I’d practice my photography by trying to capture some moodier images of the bread and sweets.  It’s taken me a long time to learn photography and I finally feel like I’m making some ground.

Another place I’ll be practicing capturing moodier images is at my daughters school play which opens tonight (Thursday).  The cast have been rehearsing for about three months and it’s been a fantastic experience for my daughter.  The school she attends excels at the arts in particular drama and have productions scheduled the whole year.

Now back onto the subject of bread..you must pop over to Lauren’s blog Still Plus Life, she has a beautiful post about bread making in her neighbours wood fired oven.  The photos are so good you can almost smell the freshly baked bread!

Catherine x

A DAY IN THE COUNTRY

A few weeks ago my parents and I drove to my brother’s place in the country to spend the afternoon and have dinner.  It was so nice to get out into the country air and greenery.  We were greeted by these two beautiful natured horses and…
my nephew helping to mow the lawn with the ride on mower…
and country life going on as usual…
My brother took me to some beautiful spots to capture the Australian countryside to show you..it was so peaceful.

A sheep shearing shed in the middle of nowhere.

and an old historic bridge that’s a well known landmark in the area..not used anymore of course.

We had Chicken Parmigiana for dinner with a salad and bread..followed by a cheesecake I’d made that morning.  Parmigiana is a Southern Italian dish made with a shallow fried sliced filling (in this case chicken), layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked.  I think of it as being Australian though as it’s so common here, you find it on every pub menu, in cafes and people cook it at home.  It’s real comfort food.

This parmigiana recipe is from a kiwi chef called Iain Hewitson (Huey), who moved to Australia in 1972 and I think it’s a beauty. Here’s a link to the recipe and heres to more days out in the country.  Wishing you all a wonderful week.

Catherine x

Brown Sugar Pavlova with Blood Oranges

Blood oranges are my current obsession!  The orange flesh interwoven with the crimson red, the deep maroon colour of the juice and the flavour..almost raspberry like but with citrus notes.

Blood oranges pair really well with this pavlova, the topping is whipped cream and greek yoghurt and the combo is a match made in heaven.  Adding brown sugar to the eggwhites instead of white sugar gives your pav a lovely light caramel flavour, perfect for summer or winter.

This recipe came from two sources.  The pavlova recipe is from Bill Granger’s “Bill’s Basics” cookbook and the topping came from a recipe in the Telegraph by Diana Henry.

Brown Sugar Pavlova with Blood Oranges

6 egg whites, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 225g (1 cup) caster sugar, 80g (1/3 cup soft brown sugar), 1 Tblsp cornflour, 2 Tblsp arrowroot, 2 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees, draw a 20cm circle on a sheet of paper and place the paper on a large baking tray.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Add the  caster sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy.  Stir in the cornflour, arrowroot and vinegar.

Pile the mixture into the circle on the baking paper and spread gently into shape with a spatula.  Put in the oven and reduce the temperature immediately to 130 degrees.  Bake for 
1 hour 20 minutes, then turn off the oven, prop the door ajar and leave the pavlova inside until completely cooled.

To serve spread the cream & yoghurt mixture over the pavlova, top with sliced blood oranges and drizzle with some syrup.

Blood Orange Syrup

Juice from two blood oranges, juice of 1/2 lemon, 75g granulated sugar, 2 blood oranges

Put the blood orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring to help the sugar dissolve.  bring to the boil then turn down the heat and reduce the mixture by about half.  The liquid will thicken as it cools but will already look syrupy.  Leave to cool.

Cut a slice off each orange at the top and bottom so they have a flat base.  Remove the rind and pith from each orange working round the fruit.  There should be no white left.  Cut into slim wheels.

Cream

Whip the cream and sugar, when whipped stir in the yoghurt.


Hello Sydney & Some Healthy Eating

Hi Everyone,

I had a wonderful day in Sydney on Saturday.  Up early on Saturday morning I caught a plane and was there with plenty of time to get to the Sydney Convention Centre to hear the Masters Of Megapixels talk.  It was part of the Crave Sydney Food Festival.  Before the talk I wandered around the food stalls tasting different samples which were all very tasty.  Especially this pizza, grissini stick wrapped with proscuitto and a little mozzarella ball, perfect food to serve if you’re having people for drinks or a party on your rooftop terrace!

After the talk finished I managed to get a photo with Katie Quinn Davies from the mega popular What Katie Ate blog who was one of the masters of the megapixel.  Katie’s husband Mick kindly took the photo on my new iphone 5 (very excited to have one as it’s my first iphone ever!)  Katie was lovely and gave me lots of advice about food styling and photography.

When I’d finished I wanted to try and meet Janine from Shambolic Living who has a wonderful blog about her attempts to create order out of the chaos in the daily life of her family.  Janine was visiting Sydney also and was lunching with some other bloggers but I ran out of time..so quickly walked to the city to check out Laduree.  Laduree has recently opened in Sydney with huge queues of people lining up everyday to purchase some crisp chewy bites of heaven in the most divine packaging.  After buying my little pink box of heaven I met one of my best friends Linda who lives in Sydney for coffee, cake and a big catch up.  I love Sydney and can’t wait to return.

Lastly I’m doing a guest post on the lovely Mel’s blog Amoire Pegs and Casserole this Wednesday where I share a fun recipe for entertaining.  Mel is a Sydney girl based in New Zealand with her french husband and three young children.   Her blog is about home decoration and ideas to live with, pop over and say hi.

Back home on Sunday I did some food shopping with my daughter Hayley, she’s very health conscious and has encouraged the whole family to be the same.  That said the trolley was filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta and nuts.  On getting home and unpacking the bounty I was truly taken with the beauty of vegetables especially this beetroot.  So versatile, the beetroot can be roasted and eaten, you can make a salad from the leaves and a dye from the juice (if you want to go that far!)  The colour, shape and form of this bunch had me mesmerised it really is a thing of beauty.

Same with asparagus, the elongated shape and colour is beautiful..nature never gets it wrong.

That led to this rainbow salad which is filled with a multitude of colours and healthy vegetables by a chef called Allegra McEvedy.  In 2003, Allegra co-founded Leon, the award-winning, healthy, fast-food restaurant group in the U.K.  

I’ve made her superfood salad which was really nice and found this recipe on a blog called 
Jaynie’s Kitchen for this Rainbow Superfood Salad.

My family went mad for this Tortellini with Pesto Genovese, Potatoes and Green Beans.  Upon leaving the venue a waiter from Barilla Pasta offered me a sample of this dish, it was delicious and we all loved the addition of potato, unusual in a pasta dish..so grabbed the recipe to share with you all.


Rainbow Superfood Salad
Serves 6

3 medium raw beetroot chopped into small wedges, 6 large ripened tomatoes or 12-15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half, 600g butternut squash, chopped in 3cm cubes, 200g chestnut mushrooms sliced, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 

1 small head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets, 3 tablespoons quinoa, 150g red cabbage, finely shredded, 60g fresh or frozen (and defrosted) peas, 3 tablespoons toasted seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°c.
Lay the cut side of the tomatoes upwards on a roasting tray. Sprinkle with salt, and drizzle liberally with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put them into the oven for about 40 minutes on the lowest shelf.


Put the cubes of butternut squash on another baking tray and roll them in a little olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven on a higher shelf than the tomatoes for about 50 minutes until cooked. When these veggies are done leave them to cool.


Put the quinoa into a pan, add one part of the grain to three parts water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes.  Drain any remaining liquid then serve.


In another pan, bring some salted water to the boil, then drop the broccoli florets into it for 4 minutes. At the same time add the peas for the same length of time. When the broccoli is cooked (bite tender) drain the peas and broccoli. Run them under cold water to cool (this helps them keep their bright colours).

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a small frying pan and heat up. Once hot, saute mushrooms, then season with salt & pepper and add the lemon juice.  Put all ingredients into a bowl with dressing and mix together.


Dressing:  2 tsp dijon mustard, 2 Tblsp red wine vinegar, 5 Tblsp olive oil, sea salt & pepper.  Place all ingredients in a jar and shake.


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Tortellini with Pesto Genovese, Potatoes and Green Beans

from Barilla stand at the food festival

500g Barilla Cheese Tortellini, 1 jar Barilla Pesto Genovese, 150g potato diced (0.5cm thick), 150g green beans, sliced, 1 garlic clove, crushed, 1 shallot thinly sliced, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt & pepper.

Bring the water to boil in a large pot once boiling add some salt.

Drop the tortellini in the water, stir well and cook according to packet instructions.

In a frying pan cook the garlic and shallot in a little oil, once golden remove from heat and set aside.

Five minutes before draining the pasta, add the potatoes and green beans to the pasta and it’s water.

Drain the pasta, potatoes and beans, reserving a little of the pasta water and add to frying pan to finish cooking.

Once ready, remove from heat and add the pesto genovese.  Mix well to coat pasta evenly.

Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Catherine x

Blendtec Blogger Event

“Will it Blend” the invitation said, “please find your invitation to the exclusive “Will It Blend Blogger Event”. “You will experience the most powerful blender to hit Australian shores and meet the man behind the brand, internet sensation Tom Dickson”.

Wow I’d never heard of Tom Dickson or his brand Blentec before, they said he’d blended Steve Jobs’ first ever iphone.  Curiosity aroused I turned up to Melbourne’s hottest new event space The Establishment Studios with my daughters Emma and Hayley to see what all the fuss was about.

The Blentec blender is indeed the most powerful blender to hit our shores.  Tom Dickson blended a rake and shared stories of blending mobile phones, glow sticks and even some lighters once, that happened to ignite…”don’t try this at home” Tom warned!

Tom Dickson is an Engineer and Inventor, he began developing commercial blending machines just as the smoothie era began.  Tom’s the one who invented the blades that make the Blentec blender so powerful.  Interestingly he said the blades were dull not super sharp as you’d imagine.


Of course you don’t want to be blending rakes and mobile phones at home!!!  The blender makes great smoothies, whips cream, chops cabbage, nuts, mixes up banana bread, makes breadcrumbs, mixes dough, batters, the list goes on and comes with a cool recipe book which includes a raw and gluten free section.  An Australian Blendtec website has just been launched if you’d like to take a peek.


On arrival we were handed smoothies blended up with blueberries, raspberries and other gorgeous fruits..love the bottles the smoothies were served in.  Keep a lookout at the supermarket for interesting bottles..you could use recycled italian tomato sauce bottles to serve smoothies in for a party.

Food and styling at the event was by Tommy Collins Events, all the dips and chicken filling for the sandwiches were mixed in the blender.  If you’re a foodie like me you’ll love these next photos, I hope you pick up some ideas for when you’re entertaining next.  Presenting food on boards is so simple but effective and raising some platters adds height to your display so it doesn’t look so flat.


Lots of beautiful fruits and vegetables to blend into smoothies, vegetable juices and dips on display.  Imagine setting up a display of fruit and vegetables like this and having friends over for a juicing/smoothie party…teenagers would love it.

Tom telling us about the blender…

Goggles on…

He’s going to what??? Blend that rake..


and he did!!!!


Making Smoothies, inventing some new flavours…

Another pair of sweet sisters..

The Establishment Studios is a fantastic place to shoot photos they offer studio hire, event styling and prop hire.  It’s owned by the best stylist in Australia Glen Proebstel and his partner Rachel Hart.  Glen also styles for many magazines including Inside Out, Gourmet Traveller, Country Style, Elle Decoration Uk, Living Etc Uk to name a few so I felt lucky to be able to visit and take photos there.

Time to go..thank you to everyone for such an inspiring morning.

I haven’t received my dip recipe yet so will leave you with this Minted Pea and Yoghurt Dip from Jamie Oliver that looks equally as delicious and healthy.

Disclosure:  I was invited to this event courtesy of Undertow Media.  I received an apron and a blendtec cookbook.  This in no way affected my opinion, all my opinions are my own.

Catherine x