Jul 31, 2010

Happy Birthday big brother!

As mentioned in my previous post it's my big brother's birthday today. I hope the day has been a happy one for you Beau. You're a caring and gentle guy who always seems to put yourself second and you really deserve good things to come your way. I have my fingers and toes crossed all your hopes and dreams come true. x

Jul 30, 2010

Walnut and Espresso Cake

It's my older brother's birthday tomorrow (yes that's correct, all three of us kids were born in July!) and I was in charge of baking a cake for our dinner tonight. Since he loves coffee cake I decided to make an Italian Walnut and Espresso Cake. It's quite a sweet cake and a little unusual to prepare as the cake mixture forms an almost bread like consistency until you mix the egg whites through. I started using my hands to mix it but I wouldn't recommend doing that as it didn't rise as much as I think it should have. If you love coffee then it's a nice one to try.

Walnut and Espresso Cake

Cake
• 1 cup raw caster sugar
• 4 eggs, separated, plus 1 extra eggwhite
• 130g walnuts, finely chopped
• 100g plain flour, sieved
• Pinch of salt

Candied walnuts
• 40g walnut halves
• 30g pure icing sugar, sieved
• 20ml walnut liqueur (I used Nocello)

Walnut cream
• 60g pure icing sugar, sieved
• 50g softened butter
• 30ml walnut liqueur (I used Nocello)

Espresso glaze
• 200g pure icing sugar, sieved
• 2 tbsp espresso, at room temperature
• 20ml walnut liqueur (I used Nocello)

Method

Cake - Preheat over to 180˚C. Whisk sugar and yolks in an electric mixer until pale and thick and mixture reaches a frosting consistency - about 4-5 mins. Transfer to a large bowl, stir through walnuts, flour, a little at a time to combine. This is when the mixture becomes quite stiff. Whisk eggwhite and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until firm peaks form - about 2-3 mins. Stir half into the walnut mixture and fold through the remaining eggwhite. Spoon mixture into a 17cm x 22cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake until golden and firm to touch - about 20-25 mins. Cool in pan and turn out onto wire rack. Trim sides and halve horizontally.

Candied walnuts - Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread on a lined baking tray and bake until golden and caramalised - about 4-5 mins. Cool, then coarsely crumble.

Walnut cream - Beat ingredients in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy - about 6-8 mins. Spread bottom layer of cake with walnut cream, sandwich with top layer and set aside for 20-30mins until set.

Espresso glaze - Place icing sugar in a bowl and gradually add espresso and liqueur, mixing until smooth and combined. Gently spoon glaze over the top of the cake, easing icing to the edges so it drizzles down the sides. Scatter with the crumbled walnuts.

Jul 28, 2010

Edwin Tse





I've posted about Edwin Tse before (here) but a recent post on design is mine reminded me to visit his site again. He really does have an amazing style and has a talent of using colour subtly. The models are stunning as well.

Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Candied Kumquats



For some time now I've been tempted to make Pots de Creme. I've also never cooked with kumquats. So, today was the day! Below is the recipe for Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Candied Kumquats. Enjoy!

Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme
with Candied Kumquats

Candied Kumquats
• 1 cup kumquats halved
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup water

Pots de Creme
• 170g bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
• 1 1/3 cups cream
• 2/3 cup milk
• 2 tbsp orange essence
• 2 pinches of salt
• 6 large egg yolks
• 2 tbsp sugar

Method

Candied kumquats - Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop kumquats into boiling water for 3 mins. Drain and repeat process 2 more times. This removes the bitterness from the kumquats. Combine sugar and water in a small pot and heat over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Add kumquats to pot and let simmer for 15 mins. Allow to cool and store in a jar.

Pots de Creme - Preheat oven to 175˚C. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Combine cream, milk, orange essence and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat as soon as it starts to boil and pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and a pinch of salt in another bowl. Add warm chocolate mixture to egg mixture slowly while whisking constantly until all combined. Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve into a glass measure and allow to cool completely. Divide custard among 4-6 ramekins and place in a roasting pan. Pour hot water into a roasting pan so it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30-40 mins or until the cream appears just set. Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve with kumquats.

Vintage chalkboard find

I've been very slow on the posts of late as I have been knee high in designer shoes for the next Maryon's catalogue that I'm designing. However yesterday in between running boxes of shoes around I made it out to Woolloongabba Antiques to have a look. I was very excited to see this little blackboard hanging on the wall as I have been looking for one for a while now. It's perfect for writing little notes on or using as a menu board for a small celebration.

Jul 23, 2010

Morrison summer collection


Waking up at 5am this morning to go to gym wasn't easy. It felt like the coldest day so far this winter. I know we have it easy living in Brisbane when it comes to winter but I really am starting to crave the warmth of summer, especially after looking at the Morrison summer collection!

Little wonderland




This is by far the cutest playroom/cafe I have ever seen. Located in New York Moomah provides parents and children a space where they can bond and be together. The branding is beautifully done and the colour palette is really fresh and welcoming. Art & Nature, Gloga (glow-in-the-dark yoga) and musical storytelling classes are held in the creative space to keep the little ones happy. I think I would have a field day in this little wonderland! Found via all the mountains.

Jul 22, 2010

yes you can.

I have to post this, I thought it was very cute. This afternoon I went for a long walk with good friend Natalie and at the end she said she made me something and pulls out a folded up piece of card from her pocket. On it she stamped 'yes you can.' with her new vintage stamp set. You're so thoughtful Nat and such an inspiration. I always feel really positive and motivated after seeing you x.

Contrary

I love cute necklaces like these. Contrary have a very cool selection on their Etsy store. Found via oh, hello friend: you are loved.

Jul 21, 2010

Roasted beetroot and caramelised walnut salad


When I was in New Zealand for work we stopped into a little cafe for lunch. The name of the town escapes me but I think it was near Alexandra in the South Island. I ordered a salad that has to be one of the nicest I've ever eaten. It was a warm salad of rocket, beetroot, feta and hazelnuts. Since I have never roasted beetroot I thought I'd give it a go and whipped up a salad for lunch today. Mine was slightly different and used goats cheese and walnuts which I caramelised. I could have easily eaten the walnuts on their own, they were yum! This salad is perfect for winter if you're after something with a little substance. Serves 2.

Roasted beetroot and caramelised walnut salad

Salad
• 1 large handful each of baby spinach and rocket
• 2 medium-sized beetroot, washed and scrubbed
• 4 cherry truss tomatoes, cut into quarters
• 1/2 cup goats cheese

Caramelised Walnuts
• 1/2 cup walnuts
• 1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar sifted
• Olive oil for shallow frying
• Pinch ground cayenne pepper

Dressing
• 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Beetroot - Preheat oven to 200˚. Place the whole beetroot on individual foil sheets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap with foil, place on baking tray and bake for 1 hour 10mins or until a fork is easily inserted into the beetroot.

Caramelised walnuts - Cook walnuts in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 mins. Drain and transfer to paper towels and pat dry. Place walnuts and icing sugar in a bowl and toss until coated. Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat and shallow fry walnuts until golden brown - about 2 mins. Drain on paper towel and let cool. When cool season to taste and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

Salad - Mix together the baby spinach, rocket, truss tomatoes and walnuts. Crumble the goats cheese with your fingers and gently toss to combine.

To finish, combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Cut the roasted beetroot into quarters and add to mixed salad and combine with dressing.

Jul 20, 2010

Time to think and dream

I'm in my third week of being out of full time work now and amazed how quickly it has gone. My first week and a half I felt quite unsettled and not really sure of what to do. It's hard to get used to going from a full time routine governed by start and end times to being in control of your every move each day. I'm finally starting to unwind and beginning to really enjoy this sense of freedom. I have time to think and dream and the courses are proving to assist in a clearer direction. I guess the saying 'A change is as good as a holiday' does ring true. Photo by Jody Rogac. Found via all the mountains.

Jul 17, 2010

Delicious branding





How cute is this branding! London designer Joe Stephenson has some really nice work. Found via Vera & Rose.

Tomo Koh




Nice Flickr photostream by Tomo Koh. Found via Lushlee.

Jul 16, 2010

Toast




Toast is a UK company who have a number of stores as well as an online shop selling a range of clothing and product for the house and home. I really like their range of catalogues and how they are styled. Found via my good friends blog Beck & call.

Jul 15, 2010

Canvas

Some really nice pieces for the home from Canvas. Their products have a really natural feel with a mix of various textures and subtle hints of colour. Found via Bliss.

La Fête Nationale

I'm a day late but better late than never! It was the French National holiday yesterday. I have always wondered where I could buy little French macaroons here in Brisbane. Yesterday I found out where so stopped into a cafe called Le Bon Choix and picked up a few. One day I'll attempt to make them myself.

Jul 14, 2010

Birthday surprises




I really did have a nice birthday weekend. Intimate celebrations over meals with those I care about, a birthday cake brought to our table by waiters singing happy birthday and a relaxing massage.

If that wasn't enough, I was also spoilt something terrible with gifts. I'm so excited about all of them and can't wait to use each one. They all cover my interests - photography, cooking, interiors, entertaining, chocolate and market shopping. My very talented younger brother made me two timber backgrounds to take photos on. One white background (above) and one black. Reid also surprised me with a food processor and a new SLR camera and lens. I'm like a kid in a candy store and can't wait to take the camera out.

After moments of apprehension I really am excited to see what 30 will bring. Although my path is a little unclear at the moment, I know it's leading to something and I'm determined to make great things happen.

Thank you to my family and friends for your company and for your beautiful gifts. You all know me too well and I'm very grateful to have you all in my life.

Jul 13, 2010

Irene Suchocki

Some really nice photography by Irene Suchocki. I love dreamy photography. As well as her personal website, Irene has an Etsy store with her images for sale. Link found via Poppytalk.

Jul 11, 2010

Turning 30 - celebrations & fears






So on Monday I turn 30. There have been moments of excitement about the future and tears of sadness for the fear of turning the big 30. A bit of an emotional roller coaster so far. I always looked at turning 30 as being just another birthday, but there are more feelings attached to it which I didn't expect. What am I doing with my life, where does a baby fit in, why are we still renting this little apartment... the list goes on. Poor Reid has been my shoulder and I bet he can't wait until the 'turning 30' day has passed!

This year I wanted to celebrate my birthday over the whole weekend leading up to it. We had a very nice dinner on friday night with Reid's family at a little restaurant in Woollongabba called Pearl. And then yesterday we had a morning tea near the Rose gardens in New Farm Park with some close friends. I was up early making finger sandwiches, savoury muffins, biscotti and shortbread and ordered a big passionfruit butter cake from Jocelyn's Provisions. We left with very full bellies and it was nice to be outdoors and get some sunshine. My colour theme changed somewhat from my original plan. I was aiming for peachy pink and neutral colours, but I had a bit of trouble finding the right colours in cushions and things and couldn't find the time to make them myself (excuses excuses I know!). So it quickly turned into yellow, red and neutral.

Still more celebrating to come. We have brunch this morning with my family. And tomorrow Reid and I have an intimate dinner booked in a little French restaurant. Hopefully by then the feelings of apprehension will subside and I will begin to feel comfortable and excited about what turning 30 may bring.

Jul 8, 2010

Wedding album procrastination



My first week out of full time work has been surprisingly busy. I have been fairly constant with freelance work and I also set myself a goal of finishing our wedding album. I feel better hearing that it's quite normal for couples to take ages to complete their album but if I keep putting it off it will never get done. So this week is it!