Christmas in July event by EatReadLove

Last Saturday was a very fine day as it was the Christmas in July pop-up event organised by Natalie from EatReadLove. I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while as she also hosts beautiful kinfolk gatherings but somehow always missed out.

This time Corina and I got in quick and signed up for the Noel en Juillet gathering at the Royalla Farmstay in the Southern Highlands. We left very early morning and off we went to Robertson.

It was a gorgeous sunrise and when we arrived at the Royalla farm we were greeted by the gorgeous team who had put this incredible event together: Natalie Haylar from EatReadLove, Natalie’s assistant Jess Kneebone, Jaclyn from BlogSociety, Stylist Lisa Madigan, Photographer Luisa Brimble and our chef for the day Mario from Marios Kitchen.

For breakfast/morning tea we had warming tea and coffee and delicious toasted muesli and tea cake.

Lunch was served on a buffet and we had beautifully tender lamb shanks, preserved lemons and braised onion salad, pumpkin feta salad. Ah, let’s not forget the dessert. Poached pears with ganache and vanilla ice-cream, yummo!

The menu was printed on a beautiful card but also written on the window behind the buffet. Every one of us had their name written on the wine glass in gorgeous handwriting. There was so much attention to detail which in parts I only noticed afterwards when I looked through all my photos.

Lisa had brought the inside in for the wintery table setting and Mario our chef created a hearty meal of Middle Eastern flavours. It was delicious. It was so nice too to meet like-minded people and connect with some that I already “knew” through Instagram but now was actually meeting them, which is really thrilling.

After lunch we had a little walk around the beautiful farmstay and surrounding and more time for chatting and photographing. Luisa Brimble followed us with her camera and also filmed a beautiful video which is shown at the end.

When we came back we indulged on berry scones and home made chai tea while Natalie and Mario where already busy getting the bonfire underway to roast our marshmallows from Black Pantry.

Below the photos is a video that brings it all together, beautifully captured by Luisa Brimble.

I also created a little cinemagraph of the bonfire which can be found on Tumblr.

.Beautiful setting for yummy breakfast

Beautiful setting for yummy breakfast

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Noel en Juillet | Christmas in July Workshop Hosted by Natalie Hayllar of Eat Read Love from Luisa Brimble on Vimeo.

Zucchini cardamom cake with lemon cream cheese filling and pistachio

Zucchini Cardamom Cake for Queen’s Birthday

Zucchini cake for Queen's birthday

Yipeeh, a toast to the Queen and her birthday celebration which brings us a public holiday on Monday. I love the fact that since we moved to Australia, no public holiday is lost. If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the following Monday is free nevertheless.

Perfect for holding a high tea ceremony or less formal just to invite friends over to a Kaffeeklatsch (coffee and gossip). This cake recipe uses grated zucchini which may sound a bit unusual but it will keep the cake moist for days. The pistachios add a delicious crunch and the cardamom and lemon aromatic flavour.

I guess this is not your ordinary cake for high tea but very yummy indeed. It will go well with black tea and coffee but also chai tea is great served with this cake. The Finns mix cardamom also into their ground coffee, which is nice as well.

Zucchini cardamom cake with lemon cream cheese filling and pistachio

Recipe for Zucchini cardamom cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

Ingredients
185ml vegetable oil
220g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g unsalted pistachios, finely chopped, plus 35g unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped, to decorate
60g almond meal
2 cups grated zucchini (about 3-4)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g self-raising flour
75g plain flour

Lemon frosting
180g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
250g cream cheese, softened
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus extra lemon zest, to decorate

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 22cm springform pan and line base and sides with baking paper.
Using an electric kitchen mixer, whisk the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick. Stir in chopped nuts, almond meal, zucchini and spices. Sift over soda and flours, and stir to combine. Pour into pan and bake for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
For the lemon frosting, use electric beaters to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With motor running, gradually add cheese, beating well between additions. Add zest and juice and beat until smooth.
Using a bread knife, slice the cake into two rounds and set top aside. Spread a third of the frosting over the bottom half, then replace top and spread cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with chopped pistachios and lemon zest.

Greek Easter Biscuits - s'more

Greek Easter Biscuits

A while ago, we visited Martha from Crave Good Food  and we asked her for her favourite recipe. Having a Greek background she sent us the recipe for these beautiful Greek Easter biscuits – perfect for afternoon tea.

The dough is easy to make and fun for the kids too. The traditional shape is a plaid or little rounds, sprinkled with sesame seeds for a nice crunch.

These biscuits, Koulourakia in Greek, are an authentic treat on Easter sunday.

Here is Martha’s recipe for traditional Greek Easter Biscuits:

This is a family recipe that never fails.   Even though these biscuits are traditionally reserved for Easter, it is not uncommon for my mother  to whip up this recipe during school holidays as an opportunity to get the grandkids baking along side her. Makes approx. 45 biscuits.

Ingredients
250 g unsalted butter
50 ml olive or vegetable oil
2 cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup full cream milk, lukewarm
1 kg self-raising flour
sesame seeds (optional)

Glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten
50 ml olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water              

Method
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter. Stir together butter and oil and add the sugar. Add the eggs and milk and whisk to combine. Sift the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the wet mix. Beat until the dough is well combined.
Set aside and rest for approx. 10 mins.  Stir together the glaze and set aside. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 15 cm long rope then fold over and twist to get a plaid-like shape. Brush plaids with the glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Blood Orange Tarts - s'more

Blood Orange Tarts with Candied Orange

This year seems to already be flying away and we here in Sydney have welcomed autumn. Funny thing for an European to think of Easter in autumn. So, when the two of us think of Easter, spring still comes to mind, blooming flowers everywhere in beautiful vibrant colours. We love poppies, so wonderfully delicate yet vibrant and poppy seeds are much loved for baking in Europe. Eggs are obviously a staple for baking especially around Easter and Corina also remembers blood oranges from her time in Texas.

There you are, our ingredients of choice for these delicious tarts. If you can’t get blood oranges, use normal ones but omit the lemon juice.

There’s certainly something opulent and mysterious about this kind of fruit and it was once reserved only for royalty and the very privileged.

The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night. Sometimes there is dark colouring on the outside rind as well, depending on the variety.
Blood oranges are usually sweeter than the normal orange and therefore I added a bit of lemon juice to my tart filling. The distinctive dark flesh colour is caused by the anthocyanins, a family of antioxidants. It also contains a rich blend of vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, vitamin A and fibre. Quite a superfood!

Blood orange tarts with candied orange

Filling
3/4 cup thickened cream
4 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons finely grated blood orange rind
2/3 cup blood orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornflour

Pastry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
125g butter, chilled, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon water, chilled

Candied orange slices
1 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup fresh blood orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 blood orange, thinly sliced

Method
For the pastry, put flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg, poppy seeds and water. Process until dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Grease 8 little fluted, loose-based tartlets (ø 12cm) tins. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to form a large circle. Line base and sides of prepared tins with pastry. Trim excess. Re-roll pastry scraps and line remaining tins. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Place tins on a baking tray. Line pastry with baking paper. Fill with ceramic pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights or rice and paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden. Cool.
Reduce oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Whisk cream, eggs, sugar, blood orange rind, blood orange juice, lemon juice and cornflour in a bowl until smooth. Pour into pastry case. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until just set. Cool for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, to make the orange syrup, stir sugar, orange juice and water in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add orange slices. Increase heat and simmer, without stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Serve with tarts.

Australia Day Pavlova - s'more

Happy Australia Day

This weekend on the 26 January is Australia Day, the national public holiday day in Australia. It commemorates and celebrates the arrival of the first fleet when eleven ships from Great Britain first landed in Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay).

There are lots of activities you can do Australia-wide but the funniest activity I think is the Australia Day Thong Challenge in Bondi Beach. Australian summers are hot and the most versatile “shoe” is the thong (in other countries known as flip flop). They haven’t been invented here, in fact the most popular ones are Hawaianas but it’s safe to say that almost every Australian owns at least a pair.

A picnic at the beach or the local park is also a favourite pastime on this important day and usually everyone will bring a plate and just enjoy summer. A true blue dish to have would be a pavlova. A meringue base topped with fluffy cream and fresh fruits. Absolutely delicious and very popular.

This dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the Russian ballet dancer during one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. However the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years. But let’s not get caught up in this.

This recipe makes you small individual pavlovas which are easier to carry around. Make sure to keep the cream as cold as possible.

Ingredients
6 eggwhites
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
300 ml cream
2 punnets raspberries
4 passionfruits

Method
Preheat the oven to 150°C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Use an electric mixer to whisk the eggwhites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar is dissolved. Rub a little meringue between your fingers, if it’s still gritty, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add the vinegar and cornflour and fold until just combined.

Place 4 dollops of meringue on each baking tray, making a shallow indent in the centre of each with the back of a spoon.

Place in oven, reduce heat to 120°C and bake for 1 hour. Leave in the switched-off oven for 2-3 hours until meringues are dry and oven is completely cool. (They’ll keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container.)

Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Dollop cream on top of meringue nest and top with raspberries and passionfruit. Serve immediately.

Australia Day Pavlova - s'more

Brunsli {Chocolate Almond Cookie}

Only four sleeps til Christmas… enough time to bake another batch of cookies… so why not try Brunsli? One of the most popular Swiss christmas cookies and absolutely delicious with coffee, tea or even a glass of wine.

Ingredients
250 g sugar
250 g ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp plain flour
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
100 g dark chocolate, chopped

Method
Place the sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and flour in a bowl and mix well.

Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the sugar-almond mixture with a spatula until just combined. Don’t overwork.

Melt chocolate in a warm water bath and fold gently through the sugar-almond mixture. Form the dough into a ball, cover and let cool at room temparature for about 1 hour.

Dust the work bench with sugar and roll the cookie dough with a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a lined baking tray.

Let the cookies dry at room temperature for a few hours (best over night). Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Celsius and bake cookies for 5 min. Remove from baking tray and place on a wire rack to cool.
s'more Brunsli

Kokosmakronen {Coconut Macaroons}

So here is one of our recipes from the magazine…. enjoy baking the light and fluffy coconut macaroons with chocolate base.

Ingredients
3 eggwhites, at room temperature
330 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
170 g desiccated coconut
Zest of 1 lemon
150 g dark chocolate, melted

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place the eggwhites in a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until soft peaks form. Add the sugar in batches, beating continually, until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy. Add vanilla extract and fold through with a spatula. Add the lemon zest and coconut, in batches, and gently fold through with a spatula until evenly distributed, being careful not to overwork the mixture.
Spoon 2 teaspoonful of batter on a baking tray lined with greased baking paper. Bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes, or until the macaroons are lightly browned.
Gently remove from the baking paper immediately and cool on wire racks. Once cooled dip macaroons in melted chooclate and let set on a wire rack.

s'more coconut macaroons kokosmakronen

Christmas Magazine - s'more

Happy Holidays

Icy cold air, snowflakes and twinkling candles on a Christmas tree. The smell of mandarines, peanuts and cinnamon in the air. Mum or grandma baking Christmas cookies in the kitchen… These are all typical Swiss and/or German Christmas childhood memories.

Living in Australia, where we have a BBQ for Christmas and go to the beach, bringing back some of those memories inspired us to our new magazine for Christmas. So if you want to know what a Brunsli, Mailänderli or a Lebkuchen is, then look no further and get baking.

To keep you going whilst you are baking or just in case you get really hungry, there is a hearty Baked Beans recipe.

And just in case you are searching for gift ideas, why not give some beautifully wrapped home made cookies or if you would like to venture further, have a look at Juliana’s craft project.

The Locavore Edition – NSW

Have you heard about the Locavore Edition – Victorian Produce? We have, but we are up in Sydney, so how exciting to see that they are now taking submissions from local food producers and artisans for the NSW edition.

The Locavore Edition’s goal is to connect consumers with local food producers. And to make it easy (and desirable) for anyone to be a locavore (to eat locally), to access quality produce from their food region, or to enjoy regional food tourism.

Der Gugl – a revival

First a bit of history: A Gugelhupf or Gugelhopf is a southern German, Austrian and Swiss term for a Bundt cake. The “Gugel-” probably derived from the Middle High German word gugel (hood), and the part “-hupf” is a variation of “Hefe” (yeast). It is baked in a special pan with a central tube.

It’s not that Germans have forgotten about the Gugelhupf, but well, it wasn’t very fashionable. That definitely has changed thanks to Der Gugl Manufaktur in Muenchen.

They shrunk both the size and its name  and added a lot of different flavours to choose from.

A nice packaging and design and a cook book, of course! Now it’s talk of the town and the Gugl celebrating its revival, isn’t that sweet as?  Have a break, have a Gugl!

Lama/Non Lama Exhibition

I just received the latest Trendland newsletter and noticed this beautiful and amazing collaboration between fantastic artists and manufacturers. The photography (by Andrea Ferrari) and styling (by Studiopepe) is stunning.

Lama /Non Lama (Blade, Not Blade) exhibition opened last week, featuring a selection of knives from an array of artists, designers and manufacturers, in collaboration with the historic cutlery shop Lorenzi. The exhibition is hosted at the new Valcucine Showroom whose interiors have been designed by Studiopepe.

Keep Warm with Tonfisk

I know this ceramic range from tonfisk in Finnland is not new, in fact we have had ours for over seven years but they always get the ahs and ohs upon their sleek design. The Skandi look/design is very popular here in Australia (and probably all over the world) and no wonder Helsinki got awarded World Design Capital 2012. I only wished it wasn’t so far away for me to pay a visit, but at least I can enjoy my cup of tea in my tonfisk cups from Finland.

Oak and white ceramic makes for a stylish afternoon tea time.

Walnut and white ceramic keeps your tea warm and your hands safe.

Easter Tea Cosy - Blue Mountains - s'more

Easter Inspiration

A few weeks ago Kristin and I packed the car and drove up to the Blue Mountains in Sydney to shoot the Easter e-mag. Our amazing and utterly creative hosts Juliana an artist/crafter/designer, her husband Lenny Bartulin a novelist, and their son Luka made us so welcome. Even though the weather looked very grim on Saturday, on Sunday morning the sun peaked out and it was the perfect day for the photo shoot.

To Juliana, Lenny, Luca and all our beautiful models, thank you so much for being part of this project and for making it such a wonderful experience.

We got so many great photos, here some that did not make it into the magazine but we still love.