Recent Posts

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strawberry & Rhubarb Hazelnut Crumble

This is the part of blogging I appear to be pretty hopeless at...I do a lot of cooking but am very bad at sharing the recipe, so here goes.  This is my crumble recipe from last week's tablenosh dinner.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Hazelnut Crumble

1 bunch of rhubarb, rinsed and diced
2 punnets of strawberries, rinsed and diced
1/4 cup muscavado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the rhubarb in a sauce pan on low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure you stir, then add the sugar, vanilla and strawberries (sometimes I add a few frozen raspberries for an extra kick).  Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until rhubarb is softening and the sugar has dissolved.

1/3 cup hazelnuts ground
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
125 g of butter melted (1 stick)

Lightly mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour butter over and mix with a fork until crumbly.  I pretty much eye-ball everything, so if it is to wet add more flour and if it is too dry add more butter.

I like making individual crumbles, but feel free to put it all in one pan.  Simply put fruit in first and then spoon crumble mixture on top. Bake on 180/350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Best served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

July 25 - the 'course' of the evening

I was a little nervous when the first thing I woke up to on Saturday morning was a text from my sous chef cancelling due to illness.  Oh NO...there was no way I could do this dinner on my own.  I sent a message out to the remaining people who I thought might want to take their Saturday night off to come and help me in the tablenosh kitchen and fortunately I found Sarah - she was awesome!!  And the rest of the day fell right into place...
My fabulous team - Sarah (sous chef) & Micharne (camera)

As for the 'courses'...this my biggest menu so far, somehow I think I managed to pull it off (thanks again to my fabulous help)!

Aperitif - Green Apple & Rhubarb Martini

One - Carrot & Zucchini Fritters, Tomato Jam & Pan Fried Haloumi

Two - Seared Scallop w/ Spicy Lime Aioli & Crsipy Prosciutto

Three- Roasted Garlic, Parsnip & Cauliflower Soup Shots
w/ Onion, Chives & Cheese Twists

Four - Winter Greens w/ Caramelized Walnuts, Pear & Gorgonzola

Five(Main)- Sage Roasted Pork Belly
Rhubarb & Apple Chutney
Roasted Potatoes
Green Beans

Six (dessert trio) - Strawberry & Rhubarb Hazelnut Crumble
Baby Gingerbread Cake w/ Caramelized Pear & Sauce
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Spoon

Seven - Tea & Coffee
Dark Chocolate Mint Truffles

Finish - Raspberry Dessert Wine from Berry Hill Farm, a delightful little winery in my hometown of Nelson County, Virginia ( )

And then of course there were also the really was a fantastic group and as usual there were quite a few connections making Sydney seem like a small world!  Hopefully they all enjoyed the evening as much as I did. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Simple Dinner Party Tips

Okay, so I am gearing up for another BIG nosh dinner, in fact this could be my most exciting and challenging dinner thus far.  I am attempting 6-7 courses as well as the aperitif and digestif.  How on earth does it all come together?  (A question I ask myself every time I do one of these things!!) But there are definitely a few things that make it easier and more organized, so I thought I would share a few of my tips.

First create the menu in advance and if you can test the recipes you have never made before, do so.  One thing I have also realized is cooking a recipe for two is very different than cooking it for ten, so make sure you consider this when choosing your menu.  The beauty of recipe testing is you can sometimes figure out ways to enhance the recipe and make it even better.  Of course you also might figure out that it is way too tricky and not going to work or it is disgusting and you wouldn't be caught dead serving such rubbish to friends or strangers for that matter :).

Groceries...get yourself to the grocery store in advance (if you are able), even if you buy some bits and pieces leading up to the date.  And definitely make the grocery list with your menu in hand!  I have had several occasions where the amount of trips I had to make back to the shops because I kept forgetting something was ridiculous and a huge time waster.  So, as you make your grocery list use your menu to guide you.

Cleaning and organizing: if I am able it is always best for me to do the cleaning and tidy up the day before or in the morning, there are always some things you might save for the last minute but try to do as much of this in advance as possible, so you are not stressed with cleaning and cooking at the same time.

If you really want to be organized I would suggest taking the time to write yourself a run-sheet.  The dinners I have done using a run-sheet made the evening so much smoother and certainly kept me on top of everything.  You can be as detailed or as basic as you like, but I highly encourage this.  Especially to help with 'timing' reminders, which can be VERY key depending on what you are cooking!

 With all of this being said it is now time for me to go and do some prep for one last note, if you can pick a few things on your menu that can be made in advance this will make your life SO much easier!  And I am now signing off to prep my dark chocolate mint truffles, tomato jam and apple chutney.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A delicious day in Surry Hills

My delicious day in Surry Hills was actually rather coincidental and came together at the last minute.  A few months ago I purchased one of those cheap deals on website call 'scoopon' for a cooking class at an Italian restaurant in Surry Hills called Alio (  A couple of weeks ago I booked myself in for the June 16th class.

Last Monday, I was supposed to catch up with a fellow American who is a food writer/editor who I had been put in touch with by a tablenosh diner!  Unfortunately he accidentally missed our lunch appointment on Monday, so we rescheduled to catch up for a coffee in Surry Hills on Thursday after the cooking class (check out his blog called

As for Foveaux, last week my husband asked me to set aside June 16th for dinner...I had no other details until Wednesday a card arrives in the mail from my in-laws (brother & 2 sisters) telling me they are giving me an early birthday present and we have a paid dinner at Foveaux in Surry Hills from them (!  

Needless to say, it turned out I was going to have a full day of food tasting and talking in Surry Hills on June 16th!

The class kicked off at 10:30am.  I had trouble parking and walked in a few minutes late, they were very relaxed and told me there was free parking in the back, so I ran back out into the rain and moved my car.  Came back in and they made me a latte, unfortunately I can't give great praise about the coffee, as Sydney has made me quite the coffee snob and frankly the latte did not quite cut it, nonetheless it was my first one of the day and I needed it!  There were about 10 of us doing the class, which I quickly figured out was not really a class but a demonstration.  We headed into the kitchen and had a seat while we shown step by step how to make a lovely italian meal.  

First was bread making, we were shown how to make a very versatile basic dough (which we would later enjoy as focaccia), then we some warm olives w/garlic & flatbread, I must say I don't usually eat olives but was determined to try everything and found myself for the FIRST time in my life actually enjoying them.  They were clearly fresh olives, warmed in olive oil with fresh garlic and served with a grilled flat bread.  It was pretty tasty and the glass of champagne was also a nice touch.  

Next up was making pasta, which I have never tried so this was the part I was interested in, as it turns out making pasta dough is pretty darn simple.  It is the rolling it out into different shapes that could take some practice, this is why they strongly suggest buying a pasta machine!  The type of pasta we were making for lunch was called Rotolo and was stuffed with a spinach and ricotta mixture.  We were shown how to make several different pasta shapes.

Then the chef whipped up a insalata caprese, which is a very classic italian salad using tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The mozzarella they used was amazing!

After this they starting plating up the rotolo drizzled with a sage butter & chestnut sauce and we were sent back out to the dining room to enjoy lunch together.  Overall it was a lovely experience and I may have picked up a few good pointers, I ended up have a great chat with Tracey afterwards who is one of the owners.  Had I known it was not going to be an interactive class I never would have made the purchase, but oh well at least I had a very nice lunch and met a few new people!  Lunch was made complete with a beautiful tiramisu - heaps better than the one I attempted a few weeks ago!

The Falconer - coffee meeting
I left Alio with a full stomach (but not too full for a good coffee) and headed off to find a cafe on Oxford St. called The Falconer.  This is where I met up with a Michael, the American who I had been looking forward to meeting.  We had a great time chatting and sharing the stories behind our food journey's, he is quite the foodie, now I am just hoping I can convince him to be a guest cook at tablenosh one of these days!!!  

After the meeting I headed home to do a quick change of clothes and grab my dinner date, my darling hubby!  As much as I love food and love trying new places, eating out in Sydney is not cheap so we were both looking forward to the evening ahead!  My sister-in-law also happens to be friends with the head chef and his wife, so we felt like we had a special connection, which was also nice.

Anyhow, it was absolutely delicious and I even ate snails for the very first time!  Here are a few pics of the experience - the lighting was pretty dim, so it was hard to get great shots but I tried...

warm & crusty bread roll
the amuse-bouche (spicy lentil soup w/fresh cream)
My entree - too many things to describe - delicate & delicious!
Herb baked leather jacket w/bertolli beans & escargot
Ginger sponge, carrot marmalade, cream cheese ice cream and walnut powder
Petite Fours - Roasted Marshmallows & Mini Scones
It was an absolutely fabulous evening.  The service was delightful, the ambiance was romantic and best of all I was in good company.  We even said hello to the chef at the end of the night.  Who knows maybe he'll want to be my guest chef at tablenosh sometime...or even better a guest.

Monday, June 13, 2011

tablenosh donations - putting food on someone else's table

Many people have heard me say what an exciting journey tablenosh has been over this past year.  Growing my culinary skills and learning more about cooking, hospitality and food with every event has been truly delightful.  But, the gathering of people from different suburbs across Sydney and seeing what happens around a table of good food in a cozy atmosphere has been the highlight by far.

At the beginning of the journey there were several different the reasons I want to give the underground restaurant thing an attempt: one being to expand on my culinary skills and capabilities (learning), second was to give people from all different backgrounds, ages, vocations and interests a chance to join together around a table and enjoy a meal together and the third with the hope that tablenosh actually have the chance to put food on someone else's table with any extra proceeds from the dinners.  Tablenosh was not started to be something that I would necessarily make any profit from and since I rely on donations to cover the food costs and other expenses I was not sure if this third idea would ever come to fruition.
The exciting news is that people have been very generous!  I have slowly been adding up the small profits from each tablenosh event and have decided on two things to put that money towards.  One is the 'tablenosh pilot' project, which is a TV show based on underground dining that I am in the process of writing and working on.  The other is donating a percentage of the profit to feed those in the world who have no food.  

What a privilege it is to be in a country where food is so readily available and to have jobs that enable my husband and I to be well fed every day.  Sadly this is not the case for a large portion of the world we live in and my heart breaks for those who struggle to find food daily.  I recently heard about the major hunger problems in East Timor and was once again overwhelmed at how blessed I have been and continue to be.  For more information on East Timor check out this article .

An East Timorese mother poses with her children in Dili

So, although it is only a small amount, I have decided I want to tablenosh to be a table that not only feeds the people who come to dinner in my cozy inner west apartment, but on a larger scale is a table that helps to feed those who struggle to find food each day.  This month's tablenosh donation to the hungry is going to an organization based in Australia  I hope this might encourage those who attend tablenosh that their generosity will not just cover the food costs of their dinner, but more importantly will help to put food into the stomachs of the people in our world who are truly starving. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Free-form Pear & Raspberry Tart and Little Lime & Coconut Friands

Yesterday in the midst of trying to be social media savvy, lunch dates, scripting my pilot, and putting the wrong kind of fuel in the car I was driving...I therapeutically did a little baking too!

I had a bunch of egg whites left over from something I made the other day and a whole heap of lime juice I had squeezed, so I thought I would make coconut-lime friands.  I snagged the recipe out of my Women's Weekly Cook and made a few adjustments (they were a little too sweet so I have cut the sugar back by a half cup).  For those of you who are not familiar with friands, they are very popular in Australia basically a nice little cake, primarily made with almond meal instead of flour and lots of egg whites which makes them gluten free.  They are yummy and moist and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

(GF) Little Lime & Coconut Friand Recipe
6 egg whites
185g butter (melted)
1 cup almond meal
1 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup dessicated coconut

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F degrees and lightly grease mini muffin pan holes, or regular sized.
2.  Place egg whites in a medium bowl, whisk lightly to combine.  Add butter, almond meal, sifted sugar, coconut and flour.  Stir to combine and then add lime zest and juice and stir just to combine.
3.  Divide among holes and top each friand with coconut or sliced almonds.  Bake for about 15 minutes and then let stand 5 minutes before removing onto a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Next I decided to whip up a little tart for dessert last night.  This is a very EASY recipe and I promise you can do it too.  I had some extra pie dough in my fridge left over from last week, so that is what inspired me.  I also had some leftover mascarpone cream which I thought would be perfect to serve it with.  For a quick and easy dessert it was perfect, we enjoyed it with a warm after dinner drink.  Yum.

Free-form Raspberry & Pear Tart
pastry dough
2 pears
1 cup raspberries
1/3 cup raw or brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter

1.  Prehear oven to 200C/375F.  Roll out the dough on a flour surface, not to thin.
2. Peel and dice pear.   Mix with raspberries and toss with sugar.  
3.  Put pie dough onto a baking tray and pour ingredients into the center of dough.  Sprinkle with pieces of butter and a little more sugar if needed.
4.  Fold the sides of dough up around the fruit and pinch together where needed.  Use a pastry brush to brush the edges with cream or a little egg yolk and sprinkle with raw sugar.
5.  Bake for 45 minute or longer depending on how soft you want the fruit.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

'slightly italian' tablenosh dinner recap

Another 'noshing' night in my cozy little Sydney apartment!  I had 10 guests, only 4 of whom I had met before at least once, it was a great night mixed with interesting people as well as discussion.  Hot topics seemed to be film, television, social media and technology.

The menu was called 'slightly italian' and consisted of a few things I had been practicing and a few new recipes as well.  I was not perfectly pleased and a few of these still need a bit of work, but overall I think the guests were well fed and went home full!

Here are a few pictures of prep and the final product...
Nothing like homemade apple pie!

And it is always nice to be able to pick something out of my garden...even if the only thing growing at the moment is mint!! :) 

The aperitif was a pomegranate martini.

For starters I made a 'caprese' bruschetta (fresh mozzarella, basil & tomato on crusty sour dough)

And a mushroom, pecorino and crispy prosciutto bruschetta.

The entrĂ©e was a 'tricolore' salad - 
which included endive, radicchio, rocket & parmesan w/ a lemon garlic vinaigrette.

The main was a parmesan encrusted chicken stuffed w/ ricotta & sun-dried tomato pesto, 
creamy gorgonzola risoni & pan fried asparagus.

Dessert was a trio including, tiny tiramisu cakes, deep dish pink lady apple pies and lemon mascarpone custard.

It was a great night, as always worth the time and energy that goes into it.  Once we retired to the lounge room for tea and coffee (and some chocolate truffles) I had the chance to relax and chat with everyone.  We ended up having a good discussion about my pilot and I even got a few great ideas...I'm just hoping someone also might have a really good connection for me!  

Next tablenosh dinner is June 25th (all proceeds go towards the pilot!)