Introducing TDPC – Anatoli

Gather and Graze:

The first of our fabulous Wine Bloggers who will be pairing Food and Wine on The Dinner Party Collective! Please read on to meet Anatoli, from Talk-a-Vino!

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

Anatoli | Talk-a-Vino | The Dinner Party Collective Anatoli from Talk-a-Vino

Please allow me to introduce myself – my name is Anatoli, and you can call me the wine guy if you wish.

I would love to tell you that wine was for me the love from first sight, but that wouldn’t be true. I also can’t name that life-changing bottle of wine which made me an oenophile instantly and forever. My love story with wine was unfolding at a slow pace, including the appropriate share of the White Zinfandel, Peach Canei, cute creature labels and $7 Bordeaux from the discount food store. It also included a simple thought that anyone spending more than $5 on a bottle of wine simply has no idea what to do with their money.

But together with all that, an oenophile, a wine aficionado and a wine snob were developing slowly and surely. The appreciation for the land, the appreciation for the…

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Australian Apple Crumble

Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

This cold, grey, drizzly autumnal day suggested that the kitchen was the only sensible place for me to be today. With the warmth and aroma that comes from oven-baking, who could possibly argue that this wasn’t the best of ideas? I’d been contemplating a softly scented Apple Crumble with an Aussie twist for a few days now and despite the weather being completely lousy for food photography, it was the perfect Apple Crumble-eating kind of day!

Macadamias were a given, they are my favourite nuts of all and work beautifully within any crumble topping. In this particular dessert though they are complemented also by the addition of two other native Australian ingredients – Ground Lemon Myrtle leaves, which add a unique citrusy note when sprinkled through with the apples; and Roasted Ground Wattleseeds, which provide a subtle complexity (think hazelnut crossed with coffee and chocolate) to the topping.

Now it occurred to me, that for those living far from our shores, some of these particular ingredients may be rather hard to come by in your regular supermarket or corner store… so for 2 lucky Gather and Graze followers, I’d love to send out a little gift pack that includes 1 x 25g pack of Herbie’s Ground Lemon Myrtle and 1 x 15g pack of Herbie’s Ground Wattleseeds. If you would like to go in the running for one of these packs, all you need do is leave a friendly comment on this post, letting me know that you would be keen to try out these ingredients in your own kitchen.

Entries will close on Friday 24th April, 2015 at 7pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) UTC+10:00.  My children and I will place all valid names in a hat and randomly draw out 2 winners. Both of these people will then be notified by email, to arrange an address for delivery. Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post of any sort… the gift packs have been purchased by myself with the simple hope of sharing a unique little taste of Australia with you.

Competition now closed… thanks to all who participated!

Winners names drawn from my winter beanie!

Winners names drawn from my winter beanie!

The winners were Tanya (from Chica Andaluza) and Linda (from La Petite Paniere). 

Cheers! Margot

Australian Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

  • 5 Medium/Large Apples (I used local Braeburn apples)
  • 1½ Teaspoons Ground Lemon Myrtle
  • 2 Teaspoons Raw (Caster) Sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Calvados (optional and lovely, but not terribly Australian at all…)

For the Crumble Topping:

  • 150g (1Cup) Unsalted Macadamia Nuts
  • 150g (1 Cup) Plain Flour
  • 100g (½ firmly-packed Cup) Brown Sugar
  • 1½ Teaspoons Roasted Ground Wattleseed
  • 125g (½ Cup) Cultured Salted Butter (I used Pepe Saya) diced into small pieces

Herbie's Lemon Myrtle + Wattleseed | Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

Pepe Saya Butter | Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Place the macadamias on a baking tray (lined with baking paper) and place in the pre-heated oven for about 5 or 6 minutes, until nicely golden and roasted. Allow to cool completely, before chopping coarsely – a food processor makes light work of this step.

Raise the oven temperature to 190°C.

Macadamia Nuts | Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

In a medium mixing bowl, stir to combine the chopped macadamia nuts with all other crumble topping ingredients, except for the butter. Rub in the diced butter to the mixture, until you have a very coarse crumb-like texture. Place the bowl with the crumble topping into the fridge while you prepare the apples.

Peel, quarter and core each of the apples and then slice each quarter into 4 slices. Place the apple into a shallow baking dish (mine is about 25cm x 18cm) and toss the slices with the lemon myrtle, raw sugar and Calvados (if using). Spread out the slices evenly before spreading the crumble topping over the top.

Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until the apples are cooked through and the crumble topping is beautifully crisp and golden.  Please be sure to check at about the 30 minute mark, to see if the top is browning too quickly… if so, loosely place a sheet of foil over the crumble for the remaining 10-15 minutes.

Allow to cool ever so slightly, before serving hot with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

Aussie Apple Crumble | Gather and Graze

Introducing TDPC – Suzanne

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

Suzanne "a pug in the kitchen" Suzanne “a pug in the kitchen”

I love food, preparing it, eating it and sharing it with others. There is nothing more enjoyable than getting together with friends and family with  good food and wine. I grew up in a large Italian family, every Sunday was a special occasion, the entire family got together and my Mom and Aunts would prepare an amazing meal. My Grandfather had a small vineyard and made his own wine. He used to take me to the wine cellar to help him fill up a bottle for the meal. I was too young to enjoy wine then but it cemented my love of sharing food and wine with family and friends.

The food I serve is seasonal as much as possible, fresh, organic, sustainable and humane. I am convinced that the food we make and eat has a direct bearing on our health and well…

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Introducing TDPC – Sandra

Gather and Graze:

Introducing the people behind ‘The Dinner Party Collective’ (our new collaborative Food and Wine Website)

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

Sandra from PleasePassThe Recipe Sandra from PleasePassThe Recipe

Sharing good food, fine wine and stimulating conversation at the dinner table is my favourite pastime, so planning, cooking and posting for a virtual dinner party hosted by “The Dinner Party Collective” is for me an exciting new project.

Australia’s ground breaking food doyenne Stephanie Alexander is responsible for my obsession with food. I dined at her very first restaurant in the 1970s and that single experience unleashed a latent interest. I developed a passion for cookbooks and an enthusiasm for cooking schools which led me to being a willing captive in the kitchen.

I have pursued my passion for food in many ways, from feeding my kids to leading a kitchen brigade of ten. It’s the alchemy of transformation that holds me in it’s thrall, the art of creating well crafted, delicious tasting food from simple fresh seasonal ingredients. My influences are broad and eclectic…

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Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes | Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago, I shared with you a recipe for Afghan Biscuits, which I mentioned at the time, ticked all the boxes for biscuit perfection. Now I’d prefer not to retract that statement, as I really did mean it at the time… however, this little delight, the Sarah Bernhardt Cookie has to be the most celebratory, luscious and decadent of all the biscuits/cookies I’ve ever tasted. It ticks all those same boxes for perfection and then quite incredibly ticks a few more! Verging on the sublime, I hope you’ll agree that these are a fine choice for celebrating Gather and Graze’s 2nd Blogiversary, which just happens to be today!

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies were created by a Danish pastry chef in the early 1900’s, to honour the famous French actress. My recipe is a mélange and adaptation of several that I discovered online. The 3 stage procedure will keep you in the kitchen for perhaps longer than you think is appropriate for baking a batch of cookies, but I assure you that it’s worth every minute! The recipe indeed makes A LOT, but I feel that if you’re going to go to the trouble of making these little beauties, it’s far better to make the full quantity and freeze a few dozen to be enjoyed at your whim every now and then… paired most beautifully, in my opinion, with a post-dinner coffee.

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 70-80 Little Cookies
  • Print

For the Meringues:

  • 4 Free-Range Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 240g (2 Cups) Icing (Powdered) Sugar (sifted)
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 200g (2 Cups) Ground Almonds

For the Filling:

  • 250g (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 240g (2 Cups) Icing (Powdered) Sugar (sifted)
  • 3 Free-Range Egg Yolks (*See Note below)
  • 1 Tablespoon Espresso Coffee (entirely optional, but oh so recommended!)
  • 1 Tablespoon (Good Quality) Cocoa Powder (sifted)

For the Chocolate Coating:

  • 200g (Good Quality) Dark Chocolate
  • 200g (Good Quality) Milk Chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon Sunflower (or Vegetable) Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking (parchment) paper.

To make the meringues: place the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment) along with a pinch of salt. Whisk until soft peaks, then slowly add the icing sugar. Continue whisking until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Gently fold in the vanilla and almond extracts as well as the ground almonds. Using a piping bag, pipe small discs of meringue (about 4cm in diameter) onto the lined baking trays.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes | Gather and Graze

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and crisp on the outside. Allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. When all of the meringues are cooked place them in a single layer on plates (or trays) and place into the freezer, while you prepare the filling.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes | Gather and Graze

To make the filling: place the butter and icing sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the 3 egg yolks until they have paled in colour and thickened beautifully. Gradually add the whisked egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar, stirring to combine, then fold in the coffee and cocoa powder. Remove one plate of meringues at a time from the freezer and using a small palette knife, top each one with a little dome of the filling. Place the plate back in the freezer when you have finished, repeating with the next plate of meringues.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes | Gather and Graze

For the chocolate coating: break up the chocolate into small chunks and place into a medium mixing bowl. Melt gently over a double boiler or very carefully in a microwave. When completely melted, stir in the sunflower oil. Allow to cool slightly until warm.

Once again, remove each plate, one by one, from the freezer and dip each cookie (filling-side down) into the melted chocolate. When you have completed each batch, place the completed cookies back onto the plates and into the refrigerator (for at least 10-15 minutes), to allow the chocolate to set.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes | Gather and Graze

These little cookies can be kept (in an airtight container) in the fridge for up to 3 days. You may also wish to freeze a portion, to have on hand for another day…

* Important Note: The filling in these cookies contains raw egg yolks. Please ensure that your eggs are the absolute freshest that they can possibly be. You may wish to use pasteurised eggs as a precaution. It is also recommended that young children, pregnant women and the elderly should avoid eating any raw egg whatsoever, due to more serious consequences should they become ill with Salmonella poisoning.

The Dinner Party Collective Begins!

Gather and Graze:

Please come and discover this new Food & Wine Project that I’m starting up with some of my fabulous blogging friends! Be sure to follow on the website, so that we can send you updates anytime a new post is published. Thanks so much for taking the time to have a look! Cheers, Margot

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

To all, a warm welcome to The Dinner Party Collective! We are a group of 12 dedicated and passionate Food and Wine Bloggers from right around the world who are coming together to collaborate and create what will be an ever-growing series of seasonal menus. In time, there will be a delicious array of formal, semi-formal and casual menus for you to choose from.

The first of our menus are being worked upon as we speak and will be published in early June. There will be a winter menu for those in the southern hemisphere and a summer menu for those up in the north. From then on, with each new season, a fresh duo of menus will be released for each of the corresponding hemispheres.

Included will be an Appetiser, Main and Dessert (each dish beautifully prepared and photographed by one of our individual Food Bloggers) and to accompany…

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Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup

Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup | Gather and GrazeOur youngest son went from eating all manner of pureed vegetables when he was an infant, to almost a complete aversion to them when he became a child. It’s only recently that we’re seeing a gradual shift in his mind state when it comes to the consumption of vegetables. There’s not quite a sense of joy just yet, as he takes a mouthful, but we’re getting there… it’s a start!

More and more, I’m finding that a little added spice makes eating veggies much more enticing for our boys. This pumpkin soup is no exception. It’s great for a simple Sunday dinner, served with a crusty loaf of bread… for dunking and then mopping up the bowl at the end.

Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup | Gather and Graze

  • 500ml (2 Cups) Vegetable Stock (or Chicken Stock if you prefer)
  • 1 Thumb-size piece of Fresh Ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (crushed)
  • 1 Green Chilli (seeded and sliced)
  • 2 Kaffir Lime Leaves (torn) * See note below
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1kg Butternut Pumpkin/Squash (chopped into 3cm chunks)
  • 500-600ml (2 Cups+) Boiling Water
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Coconut Cream
  • Fresh Coriander/Cilantro leaves (to garnish)

Place the stock, ginger, garlic, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, and spices into a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Add the chopped pumpkin and enough boiling water to ensure the pumpkin is covered in liquid. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer away until the pumpkin is tender. Remove the kaffir lime leaves before proceeding with the next step.

Pour the pumpkin and all the liquid into a blender and purée until you reach a smooth consistency. Tip the soup back into the cleaned saucepan over a gentle heat and add the coconut cream. Bring back up to a very gentle simmer, check for seasoning and then remove from the heat.

Serve straight away with some chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) sprinkled over the top and a loaf of crusty bread on the side.

Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup | Gather and Graze

* A tip for getting the best flavour from the kaffir lime leaves is to carefully tear each leaf a few times from either side in towards the spine, allowing it to stay whole (for easy removal), but also allowing it to release it’s lovely fragrance throughout the soup. 

Afghan Biscuits/Cookies

Afghan Biscuits | Gather and Graze

The Afghan is an iconic and adored New Zealand biscuit, which in my opinion, ticks every single box of biscuit perfection. Not only do they look stunning, they have a taste and texture all of their own.  Usually I shy away from any recipe that utilises breakfast cereal, however in this particular case I feel strongly that the crumbled up cornflakes truly maketh the biscuit… and in no case should they be omitted. The texture really just wouldn’t be the same.

There are many similar recipes for Afghan Biscuits out there, but this particular one has always turned out so beautifully and has such a gloriously glossy icing to dollop on top! It comes from a cookbook (‘Ladies, a Plate’ by Alexa Johnston) which was given to me as a gift by a dear friend as we were leaving New Zealand to move back to Australia. This beautifully written book is packed full of kiwi classics, evoking fond and cherished memories of our time spent living in ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’!

Afghan Biscuits/Cookies

  • Servings: Makes about 32 Smallish (but beautiful!) Biscuits
  • Print
For the Biscuits:

  • 170g (⅔ Cup) Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 100g (½ Firmly Packed Cup) Brown Sugar
  • 180g (1½ Cups) Plain Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons (Good Quality) Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 60g (2 Cups) Cornflakes (broken up into smaller pieces using your hands)

For the Icing:

  • 3 Tablespoons Water
  • 45g (3 Tablespoons) Caster Sugar
  • 45g (3 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • 190g (1½ Cups) Icing (Powdered) Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (Good Quality) Cocoa Powder
  • 30 Walnut Halves

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with baking/parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir to combine. Add the cornflakes, pressing them in to the mixture until well incorporated.

Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays (leaving a little space around each for spreading) and flatten each one slightly with a fork. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, then allow to cool completely, before topping with the icing and walnuts.

To make the icing… sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl, then set aside for the moment. Combine the water, sugar and butter in a small saucepan. Heat gently, until the butter melts, then allow to simmer for 1 minute to form a syrup. Pour about ¾ of the syrup over the sifted icing sugar and cocoa, beating well to form a glossy, smooth, fudge-like icing. Add more of the syrup if the mixture is too thick.

Scoop a teaspoonful of the warm icing onto each biscuit and press a walnut half on top. Please note that you may also need to stir in a small amount of hot water to the icing (as you’re topping the biscuits) if you feel that it’s setting too quickly.

Leave the biscuits on a rack to set, before serving as an afternoon tea treat.

Store any leftover biscuits in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Afghan Biscuits/Cookies | Gather and Graze

For my children who aren’t overly fond of walnuts, I’ve topped half with coloured sprinkles instead… though they’re infinitely better with the walnuts!

Afghan Biscuits | Gather and Graze * Recipe from the New Zealand cookbook ‘Ladies, a Plate’ by Alexa Johnston

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

Ideally you shouldn’t be reading this post for yet another month. You see… my excessively organised mind had quite liked the idea of my 100th Post (yes, that’s THIS one! :) ) being posted on Gather and Graze’s 2nd Blogiversary (the 12th April). But here we are… well ahead of schedule… so I guess we’ll just have to celebrate twice!

In my opinion, leeks hold such a beautiful flavour. They lift many a dish and provide complexity that can’t always be found by using onions or garlic (other members of the Allium family). Unfortunately though, it’s not often that you find leeks as the hero of the dish, so here I’m hoping to remedy this! This tart is a particular favourite of mine and also of my eldest son… I was surprised to find that I hadn’t posted this recipe already, as it’s a dish that we’ve been enjoying for much longer than these past 2 years of blogging. I hope very much that  you’ll enjoy it too.

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 170g (1⅛ Cup) Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100g (⅓ Cup + 1 Tablespoon) Chilled Unsalted Butter (cut into small dice)
  • 1 Free-Range Egg Yolk
  • 2 Tablespoon Ice-Cold Water

For the Filling

  • 30g (2 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Medium Leeks (cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly – white and pale green only)
  • 1 Large Free-Range Egg
  • 1 Large Free-Range Egg Yolk
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Cream
  • 60ml (¼ Cup) Crème Fraiche
  • 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Herbs (I used both Chives and Flat-Leaf Parsley)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese (finely grated)

To make the pastry… place the flour and salt into a food processor and a pulse a couple of times to make sure there are no lumps. Add the chilled butter and continue pulsing until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Mix together the egg yolk and water, then add it to the food processor. Blend just until the mixture comes together into a ball. Remove the pastry from the machine, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before using.

Roll the pastry out and press it into an 18cm (loose-bottomed) Deep Flan Tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and place the tin back into the fridge for about 45 minutes to rest.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and blind bake the tart shell. I baked mine for 15 minutes, lined and topped with pastry weights and then for a further 5 minutes without. As soon as the tart shell has cooked and you’ve removed it from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.

While the tart shell is in the oven, begin making the filling…

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced leeks, along with a good pinch of salt. Stir to coat with the butter, then place a lid on top and allow to sweat and soften for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the leeks don’t brown or catch on the base. Remove from the heat when softened and set aside for the moment.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk, then continue whisking as you add in the cream and creme fraiche. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Scoop the leeks into the tart shell and scatter evenly with the chopped herbs. Gently pour the cream mixture over the top, being careful not to over-fill… leave a gap of about 2cm. Sprinkle the top with finely grated cheese.

Place into the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden on top. If you prefer the pastry to be extra crispy, remove the outer edge of the flan tin and return the tart (still on the base) back to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool a little before manoeuvring onto a serving plate.

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

Serve warm with a fresh green salad and a crisp glass of white wine.

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

Canberra Enlighten… and a lot of hot air!

Canberra really shines in late February/early March with two truly beautiful festivals. They each run for a week, bookended by a weekend at either side. Enlighten comes first, with many iconic buildings of the Nation’s Capital lit up in a celebration of both light and colour, through projected images.

National Gallery of Australia, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

National Gallery of Australia

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra | Gather and Graze

National Portrait Gallery

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Night Noodle Markets, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

Night Noodle Markets

Night Noodle Markets, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

Night Noodle Markets

Lake Burley Griffin, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

Lake Burley Griffin

National Library of Australia, Canberra | Gather and Graze

National Library of Australia

Old Parliament House, Canberra | Gather and Graze

Old Parliament House

On the same weekend that Enlighten finishes up, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular (hmm, surely we could come up with a better name than that!?) begins. Certain members of our family rather relish their leisurely weekend sleep-ins, so I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that this festival is (and has been!) on occasions, quite a challenge. However this year we ALL managed to haul our weary bodies out of bed by 6.30am, to make our way down to the lawns of Old Parliament House to enjoy the many splendid hot air balloons taking flight.

Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Yoda | Canberra Balloon Specatacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze