Beef, Rosemary and Red Wine Pie

Beef, Rosemary and Red Wine Pie with Rough Puff Pastry | Gather and Graze

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

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Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

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

Poached Pear Chocolate Puddings | Winter Menu | Dessert

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

The Dinner Party Collective

Poached Pear Chocolate Pudding | The Dinner Party CollectiveBy 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.

We truly hope you’ve enjoyed…

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When life gives you Lemons… Four Recipes with Lemons

Four Recipes with Meyer Lemons | Gather and Graze

I mean that literally, not proverbially… life is actually pretty good around here, however it’s well and truly time that I got creative with some recipes for the glut of Meyer Lemons that my 3 little potted trees have produced this year. Since fully ripening, they’ve been waiting patiently in the fridge for the past couple of weeks, until I could find the time to make something wonderful with them. Not just one thing wonderful, but four different delights that can be created in next to no time. Continue reading

Berry & Custard Cake

Berry Custard Cake | Gather and Graze

You might think that I’m trying to ignore the fact that winter is fast approaching… and well, you might just be right! One more week and the season of my discontent begins. A tendency to indulge in bear-like hibernation will become intensely strong… with the kitchen, my lair of warmth and comfort.

This cake is far from being considered seasonal right now, however it’s a recipe that shines just as brightly, whether you opt to use fresh or frozen berries… and quite frankly, sometimes you need a little hit of summertime flavours, before you get plunged into the dark, cold days of winter! Continue reading

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream | Recipe | Gather and Graze

How does one get to my age without having made a Swiss Roll? It’s such a classic cake! Rest assured that I’ve already begun making amends for this shameful oversight… I’ve made two in the past week and with the flattering comments flying from the mouths of my boys, you can be sure I’ll be making these regularly in future. Continue reading

River Cottage Grasmere Gingerbread

River Cottage Grasmere Gingerbread | Gather and Graze

With the sun disappearing below the horizon at about 5:30pm these days, I’m finding it rather difficult to blog about anything interesting we might be having for dinner… plus weekends are now beginning to fill up with children’s sporting activities, so any opportunity for a savoury dish photo shoot at lunchtime is looking rather slim too. Continue reading

Australian Apple Crumble with Lemon Myrtle and Wattleseeds

Australian Apple Crumble with Lemon Myrtle and Wattleseeds | Recipe | 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! Continue reading

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies | Recipe | 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. Continue reading

The Dinner Party Collective Begins!

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

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 | Recipe | 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! Continue reading

Afghan Biscuits / Cookies

Afghan Biscuits / Cookies | Gather and Graze

The Afghan Biscuit is an iconic and adored New Zealand biscuit/cookie, 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. Continue reading

Leek and Fresh Herb Tart / Quiche

Leek and Fresh Herb Tart / Quiche | Recipe | 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! Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Spiced Pickled Pears

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

‘Tis a fortunate thing to have friends with fruit trees… even more so when they quite generously wish to share them with you. Following on from my earlier post on Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake, John has continued to bring along bags of pears each and every week for all who have met up for coffee on Wednesdays. They are sadly reaching the end of their season now, so this may well be the last of the home-grown pears… until next year.

I’ve not been the only one to create delicious treats in the kitchen using these gifted pears. Two of the other Mums, who we meet up with, brought along ‘Pear & Blueberry Butter’ (which we slathered on home-made scones in situ and then graciously each took home a little jar for later) as well as a wonderfully moist Pear Cake. All in all, a fabulous celebration of the Pears of 2015!

Since the cake I made a few weeks ago was so very quickly devoured by my family, I wanted to make a little something to share with my coffee friends. Here’s hoping they’ll enjoy these little jars of Spiced Pickled Pears, that I’ll pass on to them next week.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: Made 8 x 120ml (4oz) Jars
  • Print
  • 500ml (2 Cups) Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 500g (2¼ Cups) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 8 Strips of Fresh Lemon Peel (pared carefully from the lemon with no pith)
  • 60ml (¼ Cup) Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Star Anise (broken into pieces)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken into chunks)
  • 8 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Whole Peppercorns (lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle)
  • 1 Small Red Chilli (seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 1kg Pears (cored and sliced, I prefer to leave the skin on)

Be sure to sterilise your jars while the pears are poaching, so that they are ready to go when required.

Place all ingredients except for the pears into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring now and then to ensure that the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears and allow to simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the pears are lovely and tender. Remove the pears, using a slotted spoon to a colander sitting over a bowl. Bring the remaining liquid in the saucepan back up to the boil and allow to bubble away for about a further 15 minutes, until slightly syrupy.

Divide the pear slices equally into your jars, being sure to get a little of the lemon peel, spices and chilli into each jar as well. Using a ladle, top up each jar with the spiced vinegar liquid. Seal with lids.

At this point, I placed my filled jars into a hot water bath (a stockpot of boiling water) for about 15 minutes, before removing to the kitchen bench to sit until they reached room temperature.

Label the jars and then store them somewhere nice and cool (preferably for about a month) before opening.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears are lovely served with a cheese platter or alongside cold cuts of meat or better still… warmed slightly to accompany a delicious roast dinner.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Recipe adapted from one found on the BBC Good Food website.

Fad Diets – lifestyle choice or money spinner?

Fad Diets | Gather and Graze

There are a plethora of diet options out there when you start to look. Paleo, Macrobiotic, Zone and Raw… are just a handful of the current, trending diets that people seem to be signing up for these days.

They dictate what you can and can’t eat… depending on the whim of the mastermind behind the particular diet. It might be cutting out broad food groups like dairy and grains… or counting calories or grams… or perhaps even stipulating the percentages of carbs, protein and fat… or hey, why not refuse to cook above a certain temperature. Always something a little different to stand out from the rest.

Quite cleverly, they create a sense of belonging for their followers… with an ideology of sorts. To be purchased are books, DVD’s, seminars, subscriptions to multi-week/month plans, food delivered direct to your door…  not to mention the full-suite of social media avenues to follow them by. Of course there’s strength in numbers when a community has been formed. If lucky enough to have high-profile celebrity adherents, this will always add to the seduction and provide the public with confidence that this MUST be good for you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they’re ALL bad. In fact the saving grace for many of these fad diets is that a number of people are finally relinquishing much of the high-processed food on the supermarket shelves and buying fresh fruit, vegetables and quality meat. I’m sure many have lost weight in doing so and are feeling good about the way they feel and look. This is wonderful, but for the fact that they’re either shelving a number of food groups that provide nutrition in ways that other food groups can’t or that hey’ve turned the privilege and joy of eating into a numbers game, of rules and restrictions, that drains the very heart and soul out of what should be a delight for all five of our senses.

I recommend that you give thought to the long-term effects of what your body is being denied. There are potential repercussions from not getting enough of the right nutrients required for both immediate and long-term health. You may well be feeling energised and great right now, but how will your body be in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond? For example, for those who’ve totally removed dairy from their diets, are you getting enough calcium from other sources to give your bones and teeth the strength they’ll need later in life? Leafy greens contain calcium too, but be aware that the body doesn’t take up those nutrients as readily as it does from the likes of yoghurt or cheese.* Find here a list showing the Calcium Content of Foods to know whether you’re getting enough for your age group.

My concern with Fad Diets also extends to any children out there whose parents are subjecting them to these diets. They are being drawn into this due to YOUR choice, not their own.I really do hope that you’ve sat down and worked out what their bodies need, for the age that they’re at, as far as nutrition goes. I know it could be worse, you could be feeding them Fast Food and soft drink on a daily basis, but even so… this is someone else’s life that your impacting on… make sure that you know what you’re doing and that there won’t be repercussions for them later in life!

Everyone needs to make their own informed decisions, I just hope that you’re not being sucked in to the fad of the day! Your long-term health (and bank account) may ultimately pay for it.

Please note… I realise that this is a topic that some people will have strong opposing views on. Please respect my right to hold an opinion on this and I will respect yours. All I’m really asking is that people think long and hard before adapting and restricting their (and their children’s) diets in any significant way.

* Regarding Dairy… I certainly don’t believe that all dairy out there is healthy for you. Much of what we find on our supermarket shelves should be forcibly removed, due to the dubious nature of how it has been produced/processed and because of the high levels of sugar added.

Hungry for… Honey Cake

Honey Cake | Recipe | Gather and Graze

It is doubtful that you’ll come across another cake that is quite so easy to make, yet rewards with such beautiful taste and moist crumb. Honey is the obvious star, bringing a touch of sunshine and happiness… subtle and well-balanced… demanding only a cup of tea as the perfect partner. Continue reading

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

Many moons ago, I think I mentioned that most Wednesdays I meet up for a coffee with a number of other parents from my children’s school. Yesterday was no different (though it was the first of the new school year)… hot coffees and teas sipped and relished, conversations criss-crossing the table, laughter permeating the air. Then, a wonderful surprise when John (one of the Dads) pulled from his bag a number of packages holding beautiful little pears, plucked from his tree at home to share with us all. The gift of produce or food is always something that excites me and that I’m truly grateful for. A couple of these sweet, ripe pears were munched as nature intended, but the rest were set aside in anticipation of making something extra delicious this morning.

There are days when I’m happy to just follow along with a recipe… it will usually be one that appears perfect as it is, requiring no tweaking whatsoever.  Then there are days like today, when I’m open to a little experimentation, to see what may come… you just never know when you might hit on a winner. The flavour combination of pear, almond and olive oil to be transformed into a cake was floating around my head… and so this is what finally came to be.

A Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake that is beautifully moist and flavourful. The slivered almonds give the topping such a great texture, that match so well with the fruitiness of the pears. It doesn’t sit very tall…  a little more like a Tarte Tatin… but presents wonderfully on the plate all the same.

My very sincere thanks to John for his delightful gift!

Pears | Gather and Graze

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 8-10 Slices
  • Print
For the caramel:

  • 60g (¼ Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 3 Small Ripe Pears (Peeled, Cored and Quartered)
  • 2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds

For the cake batter:

  • 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (Softened)
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • 40g (⅓ Cup) Ground Almonds
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 60ml/¼ Cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

I used a (23cm) Le Creuset cast iron braising dish to bake this cake in, though a similar sized (greased and lined) cake tin would work just as well. 

To make the caramel:

In the cast iron dish (or a small saucepan, if you’ll be using a cake tin to bake in) melt the butter and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a minute or two. Remove from the heat, arrange the pear quarters in a pattern over the top and scatter, between the gaps, with the slivered almonds. Set aside for the moment.

If using a cake tin, pour the caramel evenly over the base of your greased and lined cake tin and arrange the pears and almonds on top, as suggested above. Set aside for the moment.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze Now for the cake batter:

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl, then fold it in to butter/egg mixture in two lots, alternating with the milk and olive oil.

Spoon the cake batter over the top of the pears and using the back of a spoon or a knife, spread it over evenly to cover. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. A good sign is when it’s just starting to pull away from the sides of the baking dish (or cake tin).

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and GrazeAllow to cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cake plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with some double cream on the side.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze