Monday, June 25, 2007

Sugar High Friday

This month i've decided to enter in my first ever Sugar High Friday.It's a monthly event organised by The Domestic Goddess where a theme is chosen and participants bake a dessert which matches the theme.I wasn't sure if i could enter since this site isn't exclusively a food blog but that wasn't a problem.

So basically for this month we had to make a dessert we've tried many times and always crave but have never actually made ourselves.One of the many that came to mind was creme caramel,i first tried this dessert when i was very young when they were available in the supermarket in those twin packs you turn upside down and eat,and i had eaten it in restaurants in many forms, a recent favourite had been at Aki's Indian restaurant here in Sydney which was made with palm sugar,pistachio and cardamom.

I visited my friend Lisa and we organised to bake together,i made the creme caramel and she made some beautiful pecan chocolate tarts(more about that soon).

I recently found 2 recipes,one from Jamie Oliver,the other by Donna Hay,i decided to try the later from the Autumn 2007 issue of her magazine as this one had cream instead of milk in Jamie's.

Making the syrup in the beginning was a little frustrating as mine wouldn't brown even after leaving it on for longer than required,every recipe i read asked for caster sugar so surely that couldn't be the problem but i've always thought brown sugar makes caramel,next time i might try a clove(the ones you put in the ham) my mother usually uses that to make syrup for her many Greek cakes and sweets.It may be time to experiment with it soon or if anybody has any tips i would love to know them.

Crème Caramel

2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water

2/3 cup milk
¾ cup single or pouring cream
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster or superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Pour the mixture into 4 lightly greased cups or moulds. Set aside and allow the caramel to set.
To make the custard, place the milk and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Place the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking to combine. Carefully pour the custard into the cups. Place in a deep baking dish and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the cups. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set. Remove from the baking dish and refrigerate until completely cool.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

All aboard!

Getting ready for the big train trip

White roses as centrepiece

Clover checks to see if there is any wine left

Clover loves antipasto and hopes to eat before it's all gone

With precision planning we organised a trip to Penrith on the outskirts of Sydney to visit Tanya who has recently made the big move out there with her boyfriend.This of course got Clover excited as she had never been on a train before and she heard her other tiger friends Benji and Margaret would also be there.
Since the country trains only depart every hour we all made sure we were there on time,everyone else met at Central and I joined them at Strathfield. I was greeted by Kat who got off the train to make sure i was there and looked spectacular with her fedora on.
The trip didn't take as long as we had anticipated and we were soon navigating the streets of Penrith trying to find the right street,we were exhausted and ready for a drink when we arrived ,their place is amazing,beautiful double storey townhouse and the thing we couldn't believe was that this huge 2 bedroom home is only $285 a week in rent!We could now see the appeal of moving away from the city.
Tanya made an amazing lunch,we started off with antipasto and champagne in the living room while we all caught up on girly gossip in a boy free zone.One of the funniest moments was when Kat was talking about the Hunter Valley and when saying Hunter she accidentally replaced the H with a C.We were all in histerics.
For the main course we proceeded to the dining area which was beautifully laid out and even with a bunch of roses as a centrepiece.We ate chicken roasted with tomatoes,and the most divine potatoes,carrots and beans that must have been slathered with butter.Dessert was a divine sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and cream,oh it was amazing.
We returned to the living room for more drinks and Lynne had to leave a little earlier to return to the city and attend a ball for work,the rest of us left an hour later,didn't want to make it too late because of the long journey,we thanked Tan for such a lovely day and promised to return another weekend and may even plan a sleepover.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Adventures of Clover

The daily adventures of my Tasmanian Tiger

Clover deciding what book i should read next.

Clover tries to hide in my bag to come to work with me

Clover reminds me to take my lunch

Clover reminds me to wash the dishes before i leave

Clover is sad as she's left behind


I don't think it's stopped raining this week apart from Sunday and Hibernation season has officially started here in Sydney.The past 2 days all i've wanted to do is rush home and be warm next to the heater and read especially tonight after having to wait out in the cold waiting for a cab for about 10 minutes on the other side of town.

Getting ready to face the cold
I've remained dedicated to reading through my books,i've continued at the rate of 1 book per week and on Sunday i began reading Let Us Eat Cake by Sharon Boorstin,loving it,i'm definitely making up for the lack of reading i've done earlier this year.

Sunday i took the time to make a pie for lunch Chicken Porcini pies from Donna Hay autumn issue which also have leeks,onion and i added some thyme,not too great,don't think i'll make it again but am keen to try other pies.
And this weekend planning on making something for Sugar High Friday,can't wait.

Chicken and porcini pie

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Since i left the painting until the last day of the long weekend i was afraid it would rain and would need to reschedule but we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunny day.I started painting the Ikea drawers i had constructed the other week.I only managed pain o my hands which was great even though i did wear an apron just in case.You have to leave 2 hours drying time in between and i didn't have a lot of space to work with so haven't finished it all but after the second coat(picture above is just one coat) the real colour was showing,it's a royal blue colour but after 2 coats it became this really intense blue and as the real colour appeared i was getting more excited about the finished product,it will look great with the patterned paper i'm also planning on attaching.

Monday, June 11, 2007

White sugary goodness

I was browsing some food blogs and came across this on Seven Spoons about Sugar High Friday and i'm feeling inspired and i think some of them would be great to try out for an upcoming challenge my friend and i are planning on,more about that soon.
Hmm,i may even look at participating in Sugar High Friday.

Another challenge i accomplished was finishing the Warhol book i was reading.I promised everyone i would be finished by the long weekend and had finished by early Sunday morning.I recently purchased The Warhol Diaries and that's very big so i think i'll just be reading bits every night before bed,there's no way i can carry that book around everywhere.
I'm now reading The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.I already eat organic chicken and free range eggs but think by the end of this book all meat i eat will be free range or i'll cut down.

Taking Tea

Image courtesy of The Tea Room

Oh how i love afternoon tea and i think it's the perfect time to revisit a favourite haunt,
The Tea Room In the Queen Victoria Building,i promised a colleague who's never been that i would take them,i know they'll love it and hoping to visit the Lenotre afternoon tea at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel very soon,can't wait to taste those pastries and cakes accompanied with Mariage Freres teas

Perfect for a winter Sunday afternoon apple crumble

Apple at the bottom of the pan

Crumble ready for the oven

Home made vanilla custard

Apple crumble ready to be eaten

Apple crumble is something i've wanted to make for a while and we have the perfect weather to enjoy it served with vanilla custard.The recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant in Amsterdam.

Apple Crumble
Serves 6
1kg granny smith apples,peeled,core removed,roughly chopped
190g caster sugar
300g plain flour
165g unsalted butter
Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 egg
icing sugar,to dust
Ice cream or custard to serve

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius
Place the apple in a saucepan with 90g of the caster sugar.Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the apple has softened. Place the apples and any liquid in a baking dish (about 2 litre capacity).
For the crumble topping,place the flour,butter and remaining 100g caster sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs,Add the grated orange and lemon zest then add the egg and pulse slowly for a few seconds to combine(the mixture will still be crumble).
Spread the crumble mixture over the apples in a baking dish.Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden.Allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes,then dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream or custard(recipe follows)

Vanilla custard
This recipe makes 900ml i just halved it to make about half which is all i needed.

600ml (1.5 cups) thin cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
1.5 tbs cornflour

Place cream in a saucepan with vanilla. Bring to just below simmering point over medium heat.In a bowl, beat egg yolks,sugar and cornflour with a whisk until combined.Add hot cream,stirring well and return mixture to pan. Cook over very low heat,stirring until thickened. Remove from heat immediately and pour into a jug.Cover surface if not serving immediately as this will prevent a skin from forming.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

White Forest Pottery

I first discovered Nancy's work through Port2Port and instantly fell in love with her hot cocoa mugs and knew i had to have one and organised to buy some just in time for winter.And nancy is just an absolute delight to deal with.They're so beatiful and simple and the way it's designed your hands just fit snuggly around the mug,perfect for cold winter mornings in bed.

Also part of my early morning rituals is visiting 3191 a year of mornings with Mav from Port2Port that i mentioned before and her friend Stephanie who also previously had a great site Little Birds.I can't believe they never organise a theme because on some days they've photographed something with the same colour.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Long weekend

It feels like i've neglected the blog but i really haven't.It's been a very quiet week,it's getting colder so time to nest.I started reading Popism The Warhol Sixties over 2 months ago and was sidetracked with a bunch of magazines so this week i set myself the task of finishing it by the end of the long weekend.I counted the amount of pages remaing and divided by the days remaing and i've actually exceeded the amount required per day,yay.I've been very slack with reading this year.It's come at the right time though as we have a long weekend and it's cold and very windy.It'll be a quiet weekend to read,start cooking again,hope my mojo returns and i'm hoping it stops raining one day so i can paint my ikea drawers.
I quickly went out this morning to get some groceries and i won't be going back out there again, it was raining so hard.

There's been another Colour Week on flickr this week and it's been a little more difficult because there is hardly any light so i've had to photograph everything by the window with the blinds up t let in as much light as possible.
This week i finally organised some training to attend which is part of my grand plan,there isn't really one yet but it will help me on my way out of this current job.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Happy Birthday Jarod!

It was my nephew's birthday yesterday and there was a small celebration with just immediate family at my sister's house.I can't believe he'll actually be going to school next year!There were lots of presents and cake,Cars flavour of the month at the moment so there was a bit of a theme,except there were no Cars inflatable characters so Elmo also crashed the party.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

It's been a month already?

Flower stall at the markets

That's what i was thinking when Lisa alerted me to the Growers Market being on again this weekend.It felt like we were just there the other week!
We had another lovely sunny day so the markets were absolutely packed,the highlight for us this week was a sausage roll from Eumundi Smokehouse with caramelised onions,gravy and sauce,god it was good and even though it was the only thing we'd eaten,we were so full until the afternoon.

Walking along Pyrmont Bridge from the markets to the city

We then walked over to Cargo bar on King St Wharf for a few drinks in the beautiful winter sun,ah yes it's winter but it sure doesn't feel like it.I love Sydney.
I had plans to go to the hardware store for paint for my cabinet but couldn't be bothered and there is a store near work so i'll just go in during the week.

Drinks at Cargo Bar

On my way home i did have to get a gift for my nephew's 4th birthday today and stopped off at Kidstuff,what a great toy store.If i had kids i would be in there every week.This year i've decided to get him crafty stuff.He loves painting and always shows us what he's done at daycare and it keeps them quiet so everyone's happy.So i'm off to a party and ready for cake!