Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Foodie heaven [or hell] ... Chic treats

I can't for the life of me remember where I saw images like these recently - but I did - and I had deep recipe card lust/jealousy. (Apologies to the blogger who blogged about a similar set of cards - once I get my nose out of this box I'll take a gentle scroll through my history!).

I remember my mother's collection of these cards - and her old Edmonds' cook book too - a NZ staple that had full page spreads of the most divine birthday parties, dinner parties and the like.  My brothers and I would pour over these spreads choosing what we'd want at our special parties - jello in orange halves a def tick!

I was in a local junk shop yesterday and these little guys screamed out to me - big time - I couldn't pass them up and have been pouring over the cards ever since.  

Now, what to make?

The salad section looks perfectly inoffensive - and we'll be having a good looksie over these cards to see if we can add in some ideas to our 'pack in the good stuff and eat more salad and vege' challenge.  (Best dish so far - 10 veges - going to be hard to top it - but we are determined).  Back to the cards...

Not too sure if we'll do much with the cake section - absolutely nothing appeals here - but then again, I'm not that partial to cake.....show me something savoury and I'm your girl!  (But not deep fried, thanks, but no thanks).

Those snacks are hitting the retro dinner party button, big time - prawn cocktails here we come!  This could be fun!

The perfect section for down at The old Nursery - where cooking for a crowd is the norm.  Ohh yes, we could be very happy with these cards - they are beaming with promise.  And if it's a disaster ... hello Bundie pub, or the Sutto - dear friends.

And for those winter moments where it can get a bit dramatic in the country - this will be the perfect section to explore.  Teamed with a full bodied red and a bonfire in the background, it'll be high fives all around.

Shame for the guests that the dessert section looks truly dreadful - so bad I am not even uploading the pic.  I am not fussed anyway due to the disinterest in sweets.

Ok, ok stop whinging you sugar freaks  Here's one.  Just how tragic does this pav look - I can do sooooooo much better [yes, even though I am not into the sugar thing myself, I will whip up a modern day pav wonder when push comes to shove.


And when it comes to bad - it surely doesn't get any worse than this culinary beauty?  Lovely.  With or without boiled cabbage and pig's ears?  A crowd pleaser this one.  Who's coming for dinner tonight?!!!!

And never fear - I won't restrict this to the summer season - it can be on the menu 24/7 - just ask!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Garden (installation) lust

You know I have a thing about doilies - it's a true love/lust situation - don't ask me to explain.

Well - let me tell you, this lace-esque panel could very well replace/enhance my doily fetish.

Love. it, to infinity and beyond.

So so so need it nestled somewhere in our garden - and will work on meeting this challenge - that beauty is right up there with this one ...

Isn't she lovely?  Is it just me - or are these two sweet beauties a perfect marriage?

Yes, I thought so too.

Moo says my crochet/yarn/all things natural lust has spiralled out of control.

I say .. watch this space!

Where's my crochet hook - or, in this case - the welding unit?

Captain Security (B) will lose sleep over this new obsession!  He can cope with the small stuff but once a power tool is involved and I'm behind it - he gets twitchy!!!!  For all the right reasons.

Right - over to You Tube to show me the way .....!!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Foodie Heaven ... Portuguese Fish Stew

Ok, this image does not quite do this all-time fav recipe justice, but let me tell you - this fish stew is the chicken soup of the soul at Palazzo Josamina.  We adore it - Moo's absolute favourite of all times - and it brings together three great loves in this little palazzo.  Tomatoes, fish and risotto.   Sigh.

There are never leftovers - it is scraped out of the bowls and they have been known to be licked {by Moo people, not Woo ... we may be Kiwis but we do have standards despite what you Aussies think!}

I digress ... back to yet another dish that rocks our socks.

You'll need ...

600g fish fillets that take your fancy, skinned
4 tbsp olive oil
  • A bunch of prawns or whatever seafood you fancy - I often mix it up and throw in a mix - we are big fans of all things seafood (except shark) in this palazzo
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 2ish large tomatoes, chopped - (hard for me to stop at 2 - you decide - I am a tomatophile).
  • 1.2 litres hot vegetable or fish stock
  • 1.5 cups risotto rice (I boil it up separately and add it to the stew at the end otherwise it catches on the bottom of the pan - and goes a bit gluggy in my foodie opinion)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • a good handful or so of torn flat parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks. Heat half the olive oil and fry the fish and prawns until just-cooked. Remove and season well. Add the remaining oil and fry the onion, garlic, capsicum and chorizo for 10 minutes, stirring well.
Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Add the paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper, stirring well. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 20 mins. Add the fish and prawns and heat through for 5 mins.  Add the risotto rice that you've cooked, with much love, separately.

Scatter with parsley and serve in warm pasta bowls, with lemon wedges.

Dash right past 'go' and head straight to heaven!

{Pst - have you tried just boiling risotto rice when not wanting to venture down the whole stirring faffway?   It is rather yummy - and great for when you want a big hearted rice but don't want the nuttiness of brown.  We do this when going down the Japanese pathway - and add tamari and wot not with some miso to boot.  It's a crowd pleaser, especially when Moo and I are about!}

Friday, April 20, 2012

Autumn hues

Couldn't resist - such a divine day down here - balmy and still doing that end of The Golden Weather thing - but the end isn't really in sight - so we are happy!

Moo and his friends are out in the garden playing, Woo and I have been sifting about doing some jobs and this beauty has been spinning up in the trees back lit by the most glorious leaves - look at the colours.  {Thanks Soph for hanging this child mgmt threat (not really - but just in case!)}.

We have popped into Bowral  at the crack of dawn for a quick shop this am (emergency supplies of dish-wash soon to be suds required) and they are about to soap up the trampoline and slip side the day away.  Perfect holiday action!

Bliss - and even better - no ablutions required - no weeding either under the trampoline - all sorted nicely!

And no - I have not had a nana nap yet - but Woody has snoozed all morning - so sleeping somewhere else tonight - hyper Wood is way too much for me!

Here's one last autumn pic - love the scrunch and crunch of the leaves.

Byron Bliss

We are just back from the most divine getaway to Byron with friends.  Must say - Byron is one of those places where you simply cannot be sad or grumpy. Ohh nooo. It is truly beautiful and the atmosphere is so chilled with relaxed, happy people everywhere.  It's the only place I know where you leave a store and hear someone say 'blessings' or 'peace'!!  (Ok - not everyone is so hippy trippy - but it's definitely all about health and happiness in Byron!)

It also boasts some of the best places around to eat.  (And, I must say, while I love to potter about the kitchen and cook - it was heaven not to cook at all while away.  It was also heaven to know we were spoilt for gf choices as they take healthy food and eating seriously in Byron).  

A stand-out, must visit on the list is always Harvest Cafe up in the hinterland - it is our mecca whenever we are in the area.  We go for a potter around super cute Bangalow which includes a mandatory shop at Island Luxe (the most divine, eclectic collection of clothes, accessories and wot not).  Chi-ching goes the credit card.  

Then off to Harvest, knowing we'll eat like royalty.  It's in a tiny little village called Newrybar and is the most charming eatery - we have had some memorable meals there in the past few years.  

(Talk about waddle waddle an hour later - we could hardly move for the rest of the day we were so piglety there!!!).  Such a shame it started to pelter down on our return to Byron as we really could have done with a walk up to the lighthouse and back and up again...and back...and!!!!!!

Another stand-out eatery was Cafe 111 which B and I popped to while waiting for his remedial massage appointment (poor chap put his neck and shoulder out somehow - carrying all the bags from sister store Island Luxe Tribe in Byron no doubt.  When that man is away from working life and finds a store he likes, he shops - with fever!  Makes me look like a mouse in comparison).

Anyway - I digress - waiting at 111, I had the best eggs - ever - on polenta with silver beet - omg they were divine.  Such super fab food. (We had thought about trying the Conscious Cafe but even I had to say no to mung bean pancakes - it didn't matter that they were gf - it was just wrong.  Boy, was B relieved when I suggested a quick dart across to 111 if we had time.  He was facing a challenging eating experience at the CC).

And the ginger and mint tea was not too shabby either - so refreshing - perfect for a day ahead of lazying about and sifting around the bay.

Top Shop was another winner - Moo would live there if he could - the gf bread and buns they toast up are beyond sublime.  Far better than the nasty gluten ones according to Juliet, who did a taste test.  Moo was in heaven, excited that he could eat like a 'real' person (his words).  Felt a bit sad about that - am so used to the gf caper now I forget it is much harder when you are a sprog/tween.

Back to country-base now for another week of school hols, a bit of real work and a huge dose of garden toil.  We're facing a weekend ahead of hard yards in the garden, trying to re-grade the driveway before the next big rain (it was gushed away in a huge deluge a few weeks ago and is looking very sad and in need of repair!).   Ohh dear.

And a bit of extra love and attention will be given to this little guy.  (Ohh so cute.)  He has been having a massive sleep over with gorgeous Kelly while we scarpered (thanks Kel).  He had a divine time with her - it was hit and miss if we'd get him back as she has been smitten.  Man - has he been excited to see us though.  Mr Hyper ever since - manic as anything and darting about - pretty much up all night playing and being excited to be in the country.  He has finally fallen asleep from exhaustion and is snoring his little head off.  Thanks Woody - I do believe a much needed nana nap around 8am is on the cards for me!    


Snooooooooooore  Snuufffffle.

Enough already Woody or it's the dog box for you.  Kelly?  Want the hound back?!!!! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Foodie heaven ... Jamie Oliver's Fish Pie

On a cold day there is nothing better in {our} world than fish pie - and Jamie Oliver's version sings loudly for its supper.

It's so easy to pull together and the flavours are beyond sublime - this has fast become a firm favourite at Palazzo Josamina!

Try it!

You'll need...

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg potatoes or kumara – or a mix of the both
1 carrot (I used black – made for an interesting colour!)
2 sticks of celery
150g good cheddar cheese – Mersey Valley’s pickled onion {sigh} is the best ever, trust me!
1 lemon
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
½ a fresh red chilli
4 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
300g salmon fillets, skin off and bones removed
300g smoked haddock fillets, skin off and bones removed
125g king prawns, raw, peeled
olive oil
a good handful of spinach, chopped

Preheat your oven to 200°c and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Peel the potatoes/kumara and cut into 2cm chunks add to the boiling water and cook for around 12 minutes, until soft.  

Grab a deep baking tray or earthenware dish and stand a box grater in it (this is the best ever bit!)....

Grate the celery, carrot and cheddar straight into the dish. Grate the zest from the lemon then finely grate or chop your chilli  (yep, way too easy!).

Finely chop the parsley leaves and stalks and add these to the dish.

Cut the salmon and smoked haddock into bite-size chunks and add to the dish with the prawns.  Squeeze over the juice from the zested lemon, drizzle with olive oil and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and tomatoes.

Mix it all up really well.
By now your potatoes should be cooked, so drain them and mash them up with some olive oil
 then spread them evenly over the top of the fish and grated veggies.

Pop in the preheated oven for around 40 minutes, or until cooked through, crispy and golden on top (you can always grill the potato right at the end for added crispy joy!

Serve piping hot with a yummy green salad.

Yumbo scrumbo - this is beyond fabulous and perfect for autumn and winter.

Thanks for sharing the love Jamie, you're a star!

{Ohh and no I am not sponsored by these guys - but their products play a very large role in my life.  All I can say is I am forever thankful that I am not lactose intolerant - that would be a huge crime.  I can do without nasty gluten in my life but cheese is my dear friend.  In all its shapes and forms.}

Hello dear friend....


We teamed this up with one of my famous bean salads - famous because I whip them up on the spot.... throwing together whatever takes my fancy ... this time it was a mix of beans, a simple vinaigrette, preserved lemons (made last summer), red pepper, feta, red onion and toasted pine nuts plus loads and loads of herbs.  Toss together to make them dance and sing.  And they do!  And they'll sing again the next day if you have leftovers - best ever breakfast with an egg added for protein.  We don't do cereal in these parts - wary too weird for us!

Foodie {heaven} ... Gluten Free Life

It's been two and a half years now since Moo and I were finally diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. after countless trips to the doc with various ailments.  A friend asked me the other day how we coped, saying she could never do it.

The thing is it's not that big a deal once you get your head around it, and because you feel so much better, you just get on with it.

The fact you are no longer in pain sure does help a lot. (I thought it was normal to have an aching stomach and to feel as if my insides were on fire even though I hadn't gone near a curry or chilli!).

Ugh.  Do. Not. Miss. That. Burn One. Bit.  (And was rudely reminded the other day as I managed to eat some gluten by mistake at a restaurant which so didn't get what gluten was - must have been hiding out in a sauce some-where nasty stuff).   Bit of a shame as it was one of Sydney's finest - B's birthday went a bit flat that night.

Hello burning intestines - you're back, instantly.  Ouch.

I thought I had a handle on gluten bc gf so it was big news to me just where else it lurks - wheat is the biggest culprit as it's in all sorts of places such as some ice creams, yoghurt medication, vitamins and lipstick apparently.  Lipstick?!!  Shut the front door!  That's a bit tricky as lippie doesn't come with  an ingredient label - so just between you and me I'm ignoring that one!!!  A girl needs her lippie.

We've become experts at reading food labels - me with a magnifying glass as the type is always soooooo teeny tiny impossible to read.   It's such a great look - all I need is a blue rinse and my slippers on at Coles and it'd be confirmed - youngest myopic granny ever.  (Which aisle are those tena pads in again?).

We've become expert at asking restaurant staff about sauces and ingredients - and that's a bit of a sticky one as I loathe loathe loathe people who make a fuss (you know those neurotic types who have to have this that and whatever else on the side, omitted or changed).

But it's important as many foodie staff both front of house and back in the kitchen simply don't know - they get pasta and bread but not the intricacies of thickeners (1400 - 1450 wheat).

It's a good thing I LOVE to potter in the kitchen - so it has been a fairly easy transition to throw out the glut and bring in the gf.  Baking has been more of a challenge as the flour is much lighter so you need to experiment a bit, adding a bit more here or there.

It's opened up a whole new world of friends, bloggers and groups - I have met a whole bunch of people and discovered all sorts of blogs that make gf life easy.

Lovely Sara from Passionfood has become a firm, fast, fabulous friend.  The Coeliac Society has held my hand in the first wobbly months of getting my head around eradicating all gluten and understanding the lurkers.

I regularly read and am inspired to cook from Gluten Free Scallywag, Low Flying Duck, Gluten Free Goddess, Cannelle et Vanille, Gluten Free Day and Yummy Supper.  

All fab.

And I adore blogs like Ctrl alt eat - Aimee posts great reviews about gf eateries around Sydney.  It makes venturing out to eat a synch!  (In fact I love this blog so much I also write reviews for Aimee.)

If you're in Sydney - pop to Vientiane or Emmilou - two of our fav, almost entirely gf eateries, where the food sings.  Yum.

In the Highlands we are always eating at Wild Food, the Exeter Studio and the Exeter General Store (who keep a box of gf flour in the pantry to make gf pancakes for Moo whenever he wants - go to love country living!).  We're also mad fangs of Mt Ashby Estate and Southern Highlands Wines - great gf food plus excellent wine. Tick. Tick.

So, all up I guess the diagnosis has been one great big fat gf blessing - we are both much healthier, have far more energy and eat wholesome food every single day.

If you're feeling a bit sluggish or sleepy - cut out gluten for a week and see what a difference it makes. You won't regret it!

Bon appetit!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy (F)easter

Phew - this Easter business is gruelling....we have slogged ourselves silly in the garden all day. Then again - we needed to do something to work off the chocolate feasting that we called breakfast...and morning tea...and lunch. Opps.  I don't even like chocolate - so what was that about?  Giving in to peer pressure at my age is beyond stupid.

I soon worked it off in the garden - slashing and pulling out a whole stack of bushes and trees that needed to go - they were choking the hellebores and wot not underneath from getting enough light.  Goodbye nasties, hello light and sky and another 'secret' path created to wandering through the garden even more pleasurable.

This beauty came to light - and I managed to find some eggs to pretty her up.  Isn't she perfect?  Must find a special place for her away from the possums so she lasts the distance down here.

The chaps got down and dusty working on the new gate - they could easily be getting ready for the next Swine Flu outbreak in this get up.  Work those poses chaps!

I was given a very special Easter treat.  B finally caved from the whining and wingeing and said I was allowed to take Mr John Deer for a spin.  He will regret giving in - Woody and I had a blast - and it's about time - we've had that thing for a year and a half now - but it has been B's toy.  He says he's going to give me a crash course in mowing tomorrow.  Duh - what?  Do I look like a gal who mows?  So slow learning that caper.  I'm onto him - he's not getting out of that job.  No way Jose!

Monts and I took a break from the slog and biked down to the Exeter General Store and I browsed books while he slurped a hot chocolate.  (I know, I know - he soooooo needed more chocolate - and it was too funny to see him fall off his bike twice on the way home buzzing from a sugar rush).  Sugar free Monday here we come!

We lay in the meadow and admired B's work - Woody took over as helper while we were gone but was pretty useless on the sander apparently.  He has a short attention span.

We managed to fit in some intense tree gazing - these are serious trees - they are over 100 years old so streeeeeetch way up to the sky and beyond.  You can lose yourself in thought just gazing up under the canopy.....if only the sander was a little quieter.   A major heart-felt apology to our neighbours for all the raucous behaviour - hopefully we'll be done tomorrow.  (Actually - the boys will be done - Woody and I have more adventures with Mr John Deer to go on!).

Look - isn't he hilarious - he's on stand-by to make sure B doesn't get his mitts on Mr JD - such a loyal little dog.  He definitely loves me most - sorry Moo but it is a fact.  Pure and simple.  That dog is smitten!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy holidays

Woohoo - I'm packing up the car and getting ready to hit the road a bit later. School's (almost) out and we are heading down country.

I cannot wait. A quick trip into the big smoke of Bowral to stop off at Monty's favourite gf cafe of all time - Wild Food - where they whip up the best mushroom risotto ever and Moo swears by the gf hot cakes.

Even Woody approves as the chef always tosses him some of the local bacon - he gobbles it down in one gulp!

We are shattered after such a huge term - work has been beyond manic and Monts is done-in - camp, sports, rehearsals and performances for Wizard of Oz ...

Fatigued? Ohhhhh yes!

Easter will be a quiet affair - just us and Woody and lots of pottering in the garden and catching up with the country folk. B and our (Man Friday) Simon have a major building of a gate plan on the cards.

Moo and i are leaving them to it (avoiding jobs) and joining friends at the annual Burrawang Fair on Saturday. It is always a good time - a huge number of stalls, great food and great craft - heaven for a girl like me!

Join us if you are about....we'll be mooching about, finding local treats to fill the basket.

It'd be rude not to make a day of it wouldn't it ?

We'll slip back home just in time to head to the Exeter Studio for a slap up dinner.

Yum! What are you up to over Easter?