Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Afternoon tea: Honey Madeleines for Jess

I must have become a grown up cook. I know this because I am now capable of choosing and following recipes that don't have any pictures.

I'm a visual person, having worked in advertising, and with some fabulous food photographers and stylists too (way before I ever thought I'd end up writing a food blog, I might add!) and I still believe that one of the best parts of buying new cook books and magazines is feasting on the photography.  The photos often made me decide whether a dish would be beyond my skill level too, but obviously would need to have a big yumminess tick too.

Stephanie Alexander has changed this for me. And I adore her for it. The cook's companion is changing my foodie life, day-by-day as I realise quite how much I refer to it, and also how much I trust her to have written up the perfect recipe. No photography required, just a little mental visualisation.

Because it's 1000 pages long it really does have Stephanie's take on most things. Lately, I've even been checking her recipes for the things I would never need a recipe for; basic pasta, bolognese, burgers, muffins etc. They all have a little special Stephanie twist.  All I can say is that I look forward to getting better acquainted with my new bible, and a huge thank you to my mum for buying it for me.

These madeleines are for my friend Jess. She has not had the best few weeks, and we now live half a world away from each other so it's so much harder to be there for her. If I were closer I would be popping around for long chats and tea, and keeping her well stocked in cakes. And as for madeleines, Jess and I have already spent many an afternoon drinking too much coffee and tea, eating too many madeleines to count. She would love these honey ones.  Miss you Jess x

These madeleines worked out just how I had hoped. Not sickly sweet, just a hint of honey, and so light and moorish. 

 Little girl enjoying her 'tea' with a madeleine. It's so cute how much she enjoys the tea ritual already.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lindt dark chocolate & raspberry pavlova

Yesterday was the first of probably a few barbecues to celebrate the Rugby World Cup.  It's the longest tournament ever (well maybe) with the final on 23rd October - so about 7 weeks of Rugby! About 15 of us got together yesterday - half adults and half kids these days, and I thought I'd try out an alternative version of Australia's favourite dessert - to suit slightly more adult tastes.

This one is by the fabulous Nigella, it contains both cocoa and shards of dark Lindt chocolate in the shell, uses only the best double cream (woah, so hard to get in Australia - I was missing the cream section at Waitrose the other day where you can get a million types of cream), raspberries and grated dark chocolate. I ended up using Gippsland Double cream, a wonderful discovery and exactly the deep creaminess I was after.

Pavlova is such a satisfying dessert to make, and I feel the work involved, now I have a Kitchenaid that just wurrs away making the perfect meringue, is quite limited. But the wow factor is still high. Win win. And it went down a treat.

Happy Rugby World Cupping everyone, and yes, I do support the Wallabies! Go Wallabies!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Breakfast at Biota Dining - Bowral

Yet again I'm apologising for being a bad blogger. Life sometimes gets in the way of my blog, although I still generally eat well whether I'm taking photos and blogging about it, or not. 
A few weeks ago my family came to visit and we made a 3 day trip down to Bowral.

Conveniently, we were staying in a new self-catered apartment across the road from Biota, somewhere I'd been planning to go anyway.
Biota has been getting huge reviews. Especially for a restaurant that is neither in Sydney or Melbourne.  Gourmet Traveller raved about it here, and has also given it 48th position in Australian restaurants for 2011. Pretty fast moving for a new restaurant.

Enticing open fires. Needed in the Southern Highlands!

 The interiors were beautiful, but low key. The dining room is at the back of the restaurants, and the more casual areas make the most of the location, which gives views over their kitchen garden and a lovely pond.

I loved this series of heavy oil paintings. Intriguing yet warm.

The weather was a little cool, but this outdoor sofa was oh so inviting for another visit!

The kitchen garden
My sister and I popped out for breakfast, making the most of the in-built babysitters, aka the grandparents!
I had read about the truffle & gruyère toastie in the GT review, so I'd decided on what I was going to have prior to getting to Biota. I was desperate for a truffle fix, and the Southern Highlands is one of the best spots to do this in NSW. For only $8 it was totally reasonable too, I was half expecting a truffle surcharge of at least $10 or so, on top of the toastie!

The toastie itself was refined. The sourdough had been sliced razor thin, with gruyère and truffles between each of the 4 layers. The truffles added an earthy richness, so special.

My sister went for a traditional bacon and eggs brekkie. With a huge side of local free-range bacon she was very very happy.

I hope to go back for lunch sometime. They also offer live music for all the family on Sunday afternoons with a long all-day snack menu, very appealing.

Biota Dining

a: kangaloon road, bowral
p: +61 (0)2 4862 2005
f: +61 (0)2 4861 6003