Despite the fact that I’m 4th generation Australian, I feel a strong, quite emotional pull towards European life. Such a rich mosaic of culture, history and food, that Australia (despite it’s many fine qualities) somewhat struggles to compete with. Don’t get me wrong, life is pretty darn wonderful here… there’s a lot to love… and I won’t be moving anytime soon, however it doesn’t change the fact that at certain times of the year, things just seem a little out of kilter. It struck me the other day, as I was making up a batch of these maple-glazed walnuts, that it felt like a Christmassy thing to be doing, yet a good seven months need to be worked through before the silly season hits again. Continue reading →
It feels a little self indulgent to prepare a big bowl of Tiramisu, when it’s just for the four of us… on a weeknight no less. But with weather temperatures starting to dip, I really don’t require too much coercing to unleash my indulgent side. Thankfully walks around the lake have recommenced with vigor now that school holidays are over, ensuring those oversized portions of tiramisu don’t rest on my hips any longer than necessary. 😉 Continue reading →
Autumn is well and truly here… and my gosh, what a stunning season it is. Somehow, I never cease to be amazed each and every year, at the vividness of the reds, yellows and oranges of the foliage, giving out their last hurrah of the growing season. I’m thankful that there’s been a lingering warmth in the daytime… to soak up and relish for as long as it lasts; though eating al fresco of an evening has sadly come to a close.
Plums, figs and apples have been the highlight of the local farmer’s markets recently… Continue reading →
My obsession with cookbooks extends also to food magazines… the usual suspects being the Australian publications of ‘Gourmet Traveller’, ‘Donna Hay’ and ‘Delicious’. During our 2 year New Zealand sojourn, ‘Cuisine’ and ‘Dish’ became the new favourites and then later on while living in the USA, I spent many a pleasant hour reading ‘Cook’s Illustrated’, cover to cover. Cook’s Illustrated was like nothing else I’d seen before. Continue reading →
Feeling refreshed and recuperated after our long summer break, the boys are now back at school and my mind can finally refocus a little on my dear Gather and Graze. I hope you’ve all been well over the past few months and may I (somewhat belatedly) wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year.
This recipe has been a popular one with our family through the summer time, though I can certainly picture us eating it year round, as the flavour is simply too good to set aside as a seasonal dish. Continue reading →
Having been firmly on the path of healthfulness and exercise for several weeks, I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my back. The week from hell commenced exactly seven days ago and is thankfully on the mend now, though still not back to 100%. For several days driving was out of the question… sitting upright a total agony… and even now, trying to get socks onto my feet creates the visual appeal of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. A number of close family and friends have suffered with debilitating back pain and surgery over the past twelve months… now I have a tiny inkling of what they’ve had to deal with.
Resorting to comfort food over this past week has seen a lovely fruit and nut slice, of my Mum’s, make an appearance. There’s often a tupperware container filled with this very moreish slice when we go to stay with my parents… ready to be picked up with whichever hand isn’t holding a cup of tea or coffee. There’s absolutely nothing like Mum’s food for a little pick-me-up when you’re not quite feeling yourself. The only thing I’ve adjusted is the amount of sugar… lessened by ⅓ Cup and is still beautifully sweet from the dried fruit within. Continue reading →
The Primary School my youngest son attends has recently released a cookbook. It’s a beautiful compilation of family favourites from our school community, packed full of stunning food photographs taken by a talented local photographer. One of the recipes in this book (contributed by our Principal, no less…) jolted my memory of a biscuit/cookie that I used to make quite frequently many years ago, when we lived in New Zealand.
I’ve adapted her recipe here, almost beyond recognition, to try to re-create the fragrant, mostly healthful macaroon from my past. It comes extremely close to being just how I remember it. Continue reading →
Now that winter is behind us and summer on the way, it’s time for salads to take their rightful place on the dinner table once again. Relinquishing all that hearty, comfort food and embracing a much lighter fare is something my body is already thanking me for. Continue reading →
Hopefully by now you have all heard of my other blog ‘The Dinner Party Collective’ which is a collaborative project with 13 other Food and Wine Blogging friends. Every season, we release 2 new menus, giving you recipes, wine pairings, tips for being organised and hopefully a little inspiration to create your own Dinner Parties with friends and family. Continue reading →
These Cinnamon & Saffron Scrolls would have been much better for my waistline had they been made on a weekend. In that case, they wouldn’t have been sitting there on the bench top, urging me to eat them… with no one around to say “Oi, haven’t you had quite enough of those, young lady?” Perhaps I’ll make them again tomorrow to see if my theory works! Continue reading →
Just when I was really quite sure that I had all the kitchen appliances and gadgets one could possibly need, a conversation one recent Wednesday morning made me decide otherwise. Nancy, who is a Bostonian, spoke rather beautifully about her family tradition of alternating between pancakes and waffles on Sunday mornings. She had me craving a delicious waffle, along with the machine to make them, right there on the spot. Continue reading →
I must admit to being quite smitten by this particular lamb dish… only quite recently plucked from the pages of Elizabeth David’s fabulous book, ‘French Provincial Cooking’. My copy is a fairly cheap Penguin-published paperback, which I’ve flicked through occasionally over the years, but in fact, have never really made anything substantial from. Happy to say that this was put to rights about a month ago. Continue reading →
For a fast and easy no-bake slice (‘bars’ for my American friends), this apricot and coconut version is truly wonderful. Featuring sweetened condensed milk, this style of slice takes me immediately back to my childhood… and strangely enough also to Florida in the USA, where another Australian (who has become a dear friend), re-introduced it into my life… I’ve been making it regularly ever since! It’s citrusy cousin, which also gets made on a regular basis in my home, was featured here over a year ago. Continue reading →
Extremely popular in New Zealand (well, at least they were… about 7 or 8 years ago), cheese scones are an absolute delight! Perfect for a morning or afternoon tea when you’re in need of something a little more savoury, rather than sweet. Plus they’re extremely quick and easy to make – which is always a bonus! Continue reading →
A special dessert, remembered from my childhood… this was one that Mum used to serve on occasions at their very grown-up Dinner Parties. I clearly recall hovering in the kitchen as she made the little baskets, secretly hoping that at least one of them would break or crack as she moulded them into shape, so that I could nibble on the broken bits. Continue reading →
It’s doubtful that I’ll ever reach the stage where creating gels, foams or other Heston-esque kitchen creations becomes part of my everyday cooking repertoire… however now and then, there are days when I’m up for the challenge of preparing or cooking something that might have seemed a little daunting before. De-boning quail for Sandra’s Pan Fried Quail with Vincotto Glazed Grapes is a prime example… and then making my first ever Rough Puff Pastry to encase this delicious Beef, Rosemary and Red Wine Pie, on this past weekend is another. Continue reading →
A pudding so easy that it almost feels like cheating. If you have access to beautiful, buttery, flaky croissants, then the hard work is all done for you and you can expect grand results with this delicious, wintery dessert. I’ve never been overly fond of Bread and Butter Pudding, but this is Bread and Butter Pudding with a difference… one that has converted me for life… evidently, you just need the right type of bread (or croissant)! Continue reading →
My friends, this is the last of the recipes for a little while on ‘The Dinner Party Collective’ – our fabulous new collaborative food/wine blog. Please come through to have a look at this winter-warming dessert that I’ve prepared to go with our seasonal menu. Thanks so much for your support as we get TDPC up and running! Cheers, Margot
By this stage of the Dinner Party you should be feeling totally relaxed, especially in the knowledge that your beautiful little desserts have been totally prepped and are almost ready to go. So sit back, enjoy the flowing conversation, have another sip of that gorgeous wine… the oven will do the rest of the work for you.
Poaching pears is such a lovely way of celebrating this seasonal winter fruit. The spices I’ve used in the poaching syrup are some of my personal favourites… though feel free to adapt as you wish. Cardamom, cloves, allspice, ginger and citrus peel all go wonderfully too. With a dollop of cream or ice cream, poached pears can be a delicious dessert in their own right, but by taking them that one step further by surrounding them in a rich dark chocolate pudding, it lifts them to new heights.