melbourne food and wine festival 2012 – get your tickets now!

If you are going to be in Melbourne in March 2012 I seriously recommend you book into an event at the Food & Wine Festival. There are going to be some seriously impressive chefs, cooks and wine makers in town! Tickets for some events (hands on masterclasses, idea sessions etc) are already available with the rest of the program to be announced in December – plenty more oppportunities to eat some of the best food in the world! I’ve booked myself into sessions with Christine Manfield, Greg Malouf, David Chang and Massimo Bottura and I have to admit I’m already getting excited….

linzer slice

Inspiration for a spot of baking came easy today. I woke up and saw the two cookbooks at the top of the pile next to my bed (yes I read cookbooks like novels) – Adrian Richardson’s The Good Life and Doherty Fraser’s Superjam Cookbook. My mind started ticking – maybe a jam tart? A quick flick through Superjam revealed the winning recipe… even simpler than a tart… Linzer slice!

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feeling whole again

I’ve realised it’s October and the year has flown by. It has been one of the hardest years of my life due to a number of personal reasons but I am finally starting to feel better. Not sure how obvious it has been to others  – my partner has felt some of it, my family may have noticed glimpses, but to most it has probably gone unnoticed. My happiness has started to pick up again and the good is finally outweighing the bad again. Thank goodness for that.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I think that the last weekend has been the biggest turning point for me. I started off feeling stressed but ended up having the most amazing time with S. We headed off to Inverloch for a few days of camping and relaxation by the beach. By sunrise on the first day I could feel a change coming over me.

Between visits to farmer’s markets, bakeries (amazing apple/rhubarb cobbler cake), a winery and an antique store I started to feel whole again. Being able to relax at the end of a day filled with laughter and happiness with good food cooked by my lovely boyfriend (amazing chocolate pancakes) just topped it all of for me. One of the best weekends ever.

packing up the decorations

Happy 2011! Somehow my week of holidays over Christmas just flew by, and I have already finished my first week back at the office. I just thought I would share a few more pictures from Christmas (all the decorations are getting packed up this weekend) before getting stuck into the new year! I was thoroughly spoilt with gorgeous books, beautiful tea cups and caddies and lots of DVDs to get stuck into.

Mum made delicious Julekake (Norwegian Christmas bread) to eat for Christmas breakfast

I made Stollen (German Christmas bread) for Christmas Eve, filled with marzipan and loads of dried fruit

Lovely old decorations on loan from my grandparent’s house, they look so beautiful

Part of the huge nativity set that my grandfather used to set up, my Dad put it all together, I love it

I decorated the table for lunch with silver, white and green and made the bonbons myself to avoid repetitive jokes!  

Gorgeously decorated Christmas cake created by my youngest sister

take a deep breath…

I’m enjoying the moments of quiet that have appeared in this busy week. Between shopping at the market, marathon cooking sessions and busily finishing reports before work goes on a break, a few minutes alone with a cup of tea or coffee seems to be perfection.

I’m in love with this beautifully lit up white wreath that seems to just exude a feeling of calm (I keep sneaking a look at the photo to ease myself).

deck the halls

The lead up to Christmas is starting to get excited now - three sleeps to the big day and only one more day of work! Tonight I am enjoying some plum pudding vodka and homemade mince pies while wrapping presents to put under the tree.

I love how beautifully decorated our house becomes at Christmas. We have one giant tree and lots of little trees, with lots of extra wreaths and decorations around the house.

I also received a little parcel in the mail which I am currently ooh-ing and aah-ing over in between wrapping gifts. I ordered some beautiful handmade decorations made with vintage paper, ribbons and fabric. They look so special and remind me of a book I used to read at Christmas, which was full of stories about little girls heading out in the snow in capes and wool muffs, and boys making biscuits in preparation for Santa’s visit. The idea of a vintage white Christmas always sounded so magical to me!

mini christmas treats

I packed up some cute boxes of mini Christmas treats to give to my friends at an early Christmas dinner this week. Every year my best girlfriends and I go out to celebrate the silly season, and we have fun giving each other Kris Kringle gifts, cards and small sweet treats.

These desserts are very easy to make, which means you can make lots to give away to friends and family, and still have some left in the fridge to share with friends who pop over. I hope you enjoy making and enjoying them as much as I did.

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christmas pudding

Melt 200g dark chocolate and 1tbsp butter. Crumble 400g shop bought plum pudding into the mixture, add 2tbsp Grand Marnier and stir everything together. Use your hands to roll into small balls (about a small spoon size) and place on tray in fridge to set. When set, melt 100g white chocolate. Drizzle over the tops of the balls, and add slices of glace cherries to decorate. Pop back in the fridge to set.

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white chocolate rocky road

I don’t remember the quantities I used, but the ingredients are white chocolate, white marshmallows, red glace cherries, cranberries and almonds. Melt the chocolate and some of the marshmallows in a saucepan together. Stir in the remaining ingredients and spread out in a lined pan. Allow to chill in the fridge before slicing into small squares (it is very sweet).

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candy cane chocolate

Crush about 10 large candy canes in a plastic bag with a mallet or rolling pin. Melt about 200g dark chocolate, and spread over the base of a large, lined, baking tray. Sprinkle the candy cane shards over the chocolate. Allow to set in the fridge before breaking into pieces to eat.