Silo Bakery, Canberra

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Crazy delicious looking tarts

I think Silo Bakery is one of the café/bakery/eating spots to hit up while you’re in Canberra. It’s established quite a reputation for being a baked goods heaven of sorts (breads, tarts, exotic breakfasts and lunches….) and I kinda wish we had a place this fabulous in Sydney. One morning Big Bear and I decided to visit for breakfast. We arrived around 8am on a Saturday morning and it was pretty busy and were lucky to snag a table! (Unfortunately reservations aren’t taken for breakfast so you just gotta show up early okay). The staff are super nice and usher things along quite quickly (I’m guessing cause the place is so packed and they don’t want you loitering). But it’s more nice than overbearing/annoying – I don’t mind being asked a few times if I have received the menu or made my order – makes me feel attended to.

If you browse through their menu online you’ll see some wonderful breakfast selections to choose from:

  • Vegan breakfast (very impressed to see this!) with nut flatbread, tomato, rocket, avocado and cashew hummus
  • Eggs Florentine – poached eggs on grilled crostini with spinach, parmesan and olive oil

And a few items I have never heard of on a breakfast menu (some Googling is in order):

  • Welsh rarebit, egg, bacon and spinach
  • Piperade with chorizo
  • Fried milk with strawberries and candied orange

The prices are reasonable as well. Not uber bargain cheap buy the quality is definitely there.

I had the bircher muesli with pear juice, almond milk and blueberries, as well as an orange juice. Big Bear had the ham and cheese croissant (from that exotic looking menu you choose the ham and cheese croissant??) and a latte.

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Bircher muesli with pear juice, almond milk and blueberries ($9.00)

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The bircher is simply fabulous. Such a beautiful medley of ingredients when mixed and wasn’t too dry or too wet. I could have only wished for the portion size to be a tad larger. The orange juice was sublime – very sweet and refreshing.

Big Bear enjoyed his house made croissant as well, and the latte is knock out. I was tossing up whether to get one on my way out and sadly didn’t – regret! Anyway, I will definitely say that this was a lovely latte, and quite often it’s so hard to get a nice one. According to their website, all bread, pastries and jams are made on site which is such a treat and you can see the bakers hard at work making all of the breads, pastries and tarts.

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Ham and cheese croissant ($8.00)

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On your way out you can pick up some bread – walnut sourdough, walnut and cranberry, baguettes – or a delicious tart or pastry – vanilla brulee, pear and caramel, chocolate and chestnut, passionfruit and mascarpone…and many more flavours.

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Delicious baked goods a-baking

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Looking pretty darn happy with my orange and pistachio snail!

Divine pastries, breads and coffee. Canberra’s tucked away treasure of baked goodies.

Silo Bakery, Canberra

36 Giles Street, Kingston ACT 2604

(02) 6260 6060

silobakery@gmail.com

Tuesday – Saturday: 7am to 4pm

Bookings advisable. Bookings not taken for breakfast.

Website

Beef Bourguignon

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This is the type of dish to make when you want to potter around the house and be very happy to peek in on a dish every now and again to check it and add a few more things, and after a few hours be remarkably delighted with the end result. This traditionally French dish is so lovely and complex in flavour – meaty and mushroomy, gravy, thymey and winey. My good friend Edrea and I wanted to cook something together, and after many flicks through one of my new favourite cooking and baking books, The Great Australian Bake Off, this is the one we finally settled on. Originally designed as a pie filling, we adapted it to make a pasta dish instead. Alternatively, you could make the pie version (which would be equally delicious I presume and come on, who doesn’t like pie…) if you were keen on making some pastry as well. So get your day planned and cook up this delicious beauty – we filled our waiting time with watching P.S. I Love You – whatever takes your fancy!

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Ingredients

  • 750g chuck steak, cut into small chunks
  • Plain flour (to coat the steak in)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 350mL red wine (nothing too fancy – I bought a $3 bottle which actually turned out wonderfully)
  • 250mL beef stock
  • 250g button mushrooms, finely sliced
  • Pasta (to serve, such as fettuccine – a nice thick one)
  • Fresh thyme

Essential kitchen items

  • Large pot/saucepan (to cook all your ingredients in)
  • Small saucepan (to reduce down the wine)

Preparation

1. Toss the beef in the flour and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add in the meat pieces a little at a time and fry for around 2 minutes until they have browned slightly. Then remove onto a plate.

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2. Turn the heat down and stir in the onions and garlic. Cook down for about 10 minutes   until the onions are very soft.

3. In a separate small pan, simmer the red wine until it has reduced by about one-third (I hadn’t actually ever tried this technique before, but it worked! You can test how much it has reduced down to by pouring the wine into a measuring jug after about 10-15 minutes. The aroma is delicious too, think mulled wine!) Once the onions have cooked down, stir in the wine, stock, beef, and thyme sprigs. Bring to the boil for a few minutes and then lower the heat, covering the dish and cooking gently for 1 hour, stirring from time to time. During this time, the mixture should take on a new taste, colour and texture, and begin to look for like a gravy.

4. After the hour, add in the mushrooms and let simmer, uncovered, for another hour. Add salt and pepper as needed. Towards the end of simmering, and when the gravy is nice and thick, put on the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.

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5. Voila! You are done!

Here’s a few of my other it’s Spring-but-why-does-it-still-feel-like-Winter?? recipes you can enjoy – Healthy Veggie Lasagna and Pea and Fancy Ham Soup

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Melbourne Street Art, Hosier Lane

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You can’t not visit Melbourne as a tourist and miss out on seeing Hosier Lane. A moving canvas that is home to local graffiti artists and a one-stop shop if you want to breath in (literally!) the sights and smells of Melbourne’s street art scene. This space is always changing and you’re almost guaranteed to find the old spray painted thing you liked gone and something new and fresh pop up overnight. These photos are a little snippet of what I sampled on my latest Melbourne journey some weeks ago, in between all my eating around town which you can see on my Melbourne Sweet Treats page. What to expect – bright, bold, political, fumy, touristy, detailed, intrusive, inviting, questioning, and on the odd occasion, you might even catch the artist working their magic in daylight hours too!

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The Rook, Sydney

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The Rook, located in the Sydney CBD specialises in lobster, burgers and liquor – one simply cannot argue with that! My good friend Edrea and a group of colleagues thought we’d give this one a try next on our mega list of places to visit and eat at around town. Although located on York Street you would never actually know it existed. It’s on the rooftop of a big building which is pretty much not visible from the street level. Once you get over that fact and make it up the lift and indoors, it’s a pretty hip venue. We arrived there early dinner wise (around 5.30pm) but the place did fill up quite fast after that. So anything after 6.00pm I would recommend a reservation for.

Our waitress came round after we were seated and handed out the dinner menu and drinks menu. A cool selection of – you guessed is – lobster, burgers and liquor. There are starters (lettuce cups with different fillings, arancini and croquettes), chicken, wagyu and a lone haloumi burger, standalone lobster and other lobster indulgences, and desserts (deep fried mars bar, cheesecake). Cocktails start from $18 and there are many-a other alcohol options to choose from. We all mostly decided on burgers (all served with truffle fries) and a scattering of cocktails for the night.

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Wagyu burger with cheddar and beetroot ($20)

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The meals came out fairly prompt. Edrea’s wagyu burger with cheddar and beetroot ($20) was juicy with generous fillings and the wagyu was cooked pink in the middle. She said the beetroot appeared to be house pickled and didn’t have that sort of canned sharpness as you’d traditionally expect. The bun was also nice and soft but not so soft that it disintegrated. The truffle fries could’ve been marginally crunchier but were nice overall and had a strong (and somewhat lingering) truffle flavour. Her Pineapple Express cocktail ($20) consisting of Tanqueray gin, pineapple juice, soda, Yellow Charteuse and peppercorn syrup was not too sweet, had a nice peppercorn flavour, and used fresh pineapple. The rosemary sprig added a strong, but nice flavour, but she overall would’ve preferred the pineapple to be more prominent. All that said though, Edrea wasn’t sure if she would spend $20 on it again.

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Orange County ($19) and Pineapple Express ($20)

The other cocktail ordered for the night was Shareeza’s Orange County ($19). This one had in it Bulleit Bourbon, passionfruit, and orange and elderflower liquer. Sweet, passionfruity, and bourbony. She said it was a bit small for $19 and was left wanting more!

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Lobster roll ($25)

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As a bit of a change from the burgers that we all had, Dakota had the lobster roll ($25). It looked quite large on arrival and appeared to be full of delicious, juicy lobster. A little disappointingly, however, the lobster roll actually contained a few more ingredients – potato and bacon in the mix as well, so it was mostly potato at the end, which was a little bit of a let down for her.

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Haloumi burger with peppers and spinach ($20)

My burger (the vegetarian option on the menu although not labelled as such) had a nice combination of haloumi, peppers and baby spinach ($20). Initially I wasn’t sure what ‘peppers’ meant – soft and sweety capsicum? or death by chilli jalapeno peppers? or worse? Needless to say I forgot to ask before I ordered! The flavours of the burger worked well together. The peppers were actually marinated red capsicum which provided a lovely sweetness. The haloumi I found could have been a little bit more salty, and unusually had a spongey/springy kind of vibe like eating a chicken burger (thinking Oporto here). The scattering of baby spinach added some nice greenery. The actual bun worked quite well – soft, not crusty. The chunky fries were lovely, generous and large although I thought they could’ve been a touch crispier. The mayo sauce was fabulous – thick and flavoursome. Overall, a really great burger experience, but I was expecting something a tad bigger/taller for $20, particularly since Jamie Oliver’s burger is $19.50 and it is, well, a Jamie burger. Or maybe like this ginormous burger that Big Bear and I tried at the Hazelhurst Gallery and Café.

Deep fried mars bar with vanilla bean ice cream ($14)

Deep fried mars bar with vanilla bean ice cream ($14)

Gabriel and Dakota ordered the deep fried mars bar with vanilla bean ice cream to share ($14). The crispy batter encasing the mars bar contrasted well with the gooesy mars bar inside. The extras on the plate – vanilla ice cream, meringue, nuts, soaked cherries, caramel and chocolate bits – helped to break up the richness of the mars bar, but also enhanced the flavour when it was eaten with the mars bar. It’s also recommended to share this dessert as most people probably couldn’t eat all of it unless it was the only thing you were eating!

I would visit this place again if I needed a good burger or if someone else wanted to pay for my cocktails and let me enjoy them free of charge.

Palatable level of hipsterdom for the after-work crowd with lobster, burgers and liquor a-plenty

The Rook

Address: Level 7, 56-58 York Street, Sydney 2000

Phone: 02 9262 2505

Lunch: Wednesday – Friday

Dinner: Weeknights from 4.00pm, Saturday from 6.00pm

Website

Facebook

Melbourne Sweet Treats

I went down to Melbourne recently and, as you do, ate my way across town. I thought I’d collate some photos of the many ‘sweet treats’ I enjoyed along the way and what I subsequently had to spend a solid two weeks at the gym burning off. It samples one of my all-time favourites as well as some new places I researched before the trip down. American Doughnut Kitchen First up, American Doughnut Kitchen. I can’t even recall how I stumbled upon this gem but it goes way back to one of our family holidays around a decade ago. Anyway, whenever I have journeyed to Melbourne I am a serious repeat customer here. Never has a doughnut been this good, and I’m actually glad I live 1,000km away just so I am not compelled to visit it every weekend. IMG_0511  IMG_0508 Situated in the Queen Victoria Markets since 1950, it operates out of a van selling only one thing – jam filled, sugar coated doughnuts. It’s a popular tourist destination and there is a constant line up outside the van, but don’t worry, the line moves fast. The doughnuts are made and baked inside the van using a ‘secret recipe’ and the smell is simply incredible. I’m pretty sure the price has fluctuated over time but I scored my bag of 5 for $6. I usually pause to have a smell inside the bag and let the world keep spinning while I am in my doughnut moment. Here’s the experience – crunchy, sugar crystallised doughnut exterior with a soft and fluffy interior and an oozing red jam centre. It’s simply incomparable to any doughnut I’ve had elsewhere. I’m fairly sure also that I overheard a customer say “no sugar or jam please” on their order and I quietly died on the inside…Ok so the doughnuts aren’t gluten free, contain animal products and yellow food colouring, and are fried in oil using animal fat, but heck, you’ve got to make compromises in life sometimes! IMG_0515IMG_0524 Website Facebook Merry Cupcakes As a bit of a complete contrast to the American Doughnut Kitchen are Merry Cupcakes. All their cupcakes are 100% vegan and contain no animal products. Even more tantalising is the fact that their cupcakes have on average 77% less saturated fat and 5.3% less sugar than your regular cupcakes. Some are gluten free as well. Merry Cupcakes loves to incorporate real, seasonal fruits and vegetables into the mix all the better to increase the fibre content of the cupcakes. IMG_0533IMG_0530 “We focus not only on the taste but also the nutritional content of our cupcakes. We make sure that when we create our recipes, we increase their nutritional goodness so that they are healthier than the average cupcakes of their corresponding flavours.” Their Facebook keeps you updated on all the flavours going for the day. Here’s a sample: Vanilla Ice, Beet It, Chocolado, Strawberry Fields Forever, Blondie, Passion Pit, Charlie Brown, Blueberry Pancake, and Carrot Top. Website Facebook Invita Living Food Situated in the Queen Victoria Markets, Invita Living Food offers super healthy food at reasonable prices. Pop in for breakfast or lunch and enjoy some award winning coffee, scrambled tofu or french toast for breakfast, hearty soup and salads, and round it off with a sweet treat – vegan muffins, carrot and olive oil cake, banana bread, cheesecake, or raw bliss balls. IMG_0572IMG_0569 I opted for a vegan lemon poppyseed cake this time round – light and fresh and poppyseedy. I don’t get people who don’t like poppyseeds with the ‘but they get stuck in my teeth’ argument. Lemon and poppyseed or orange and poppyseed is the absolute best, and the frosting is always amazing. This place is highly recommended if you are looking for something fresh, filling, wholesome and cruelty-free around the markets. Seating is provided (though it sometimes might be tricky to snag a table with the crowds) but it’s comfy and enclosed. Website

August Reviews

Here are my reading reviews for August and my MayJune and July ones in case you missed them.

Yoga School Dropout – Lucy Edge (2010)

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The title of this book is absolutely hilarious and was basically what turned me onto it in the first place. I also quietly hoped it would be another Eat Pray Love experience, which I completely adored. It’s largely autobiographical and a travelogue following the story of English advertising executive Lucy Edge who abandons the world of advertising after a decade of hard (and what she considers to be fairly meaningless) work, in search of some deeper meaning to life. She decides to give up her job in advertising and travel through the ashrams and villages of India in search of some of the best yoga retreats and to master the art of yoga.

This book is useful if you are super keen on visiting India and taking up yoga seriously and want to know some of the lingo and what to expect. At the same time I almost felt like it was a little bit too technical and that the language went over my head at times, distrupting the flow of the book. That being said, there’s totally a glossary at the end of the book, giving you definitions for everything imaginable, as well as a range of useful contacts such the location of yoga centres, hotels and resorts, and list of other readings and references.

Also in a way I felt like the author was not really taking the experience seriously and the tone of the book was a bit too light. Half of the book provided some really in-depth knowledge about yoga and was a great travel reference. The other half was really shallow and consumerist and contradicted the whole yogic abandon of worldly pleasures and indulgences – searching for the coolest restaurant or nightclub, lusting over men, getting drunk, checking out other people’s Birkenstock’s or Prada wear. The back cover reads “She’d return a Yoga Goddess – a magnetic babe attracting strong and sweaty, yet emotionally vulnerable, men with her pretzel-like body and compassionate grace.” Like..come on.

Eat Pray Love got much more into the soul of the individual and you feel could sense the rebirth and renewal. I don’t know what Lucy Edge really came away with by the end of the story – but if I wanted to read it to get some knowledge about yoga then I’d definitely give it another crack.

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (1891)

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In my quest to read my super long list of selected ‘classics’, this novel was next in line and my first venture into the world of Oscar Wilde. Set in the Victorian era of England, it follows the story of protagonist Dorian Gray who is the subject of a portrait painted by the artist Basil Hallward, who is consumed by Dorian’s beauty. Knowing that his beauty and looks will fade with time, Dorian candidly ‘sells his soul’, ensuring that his looks remain timeless as the years go by. His portrait is the centrepiece of the plot and every twist and turn in the story sees the portrait illuminated again in the novel. There is a constant interplay between the actions taken by Dorian and the effect this has on the portrait.

Life is generally all well and good for Dorian. It isn’t until Dorian is accused of playing a role in the death of a young lady that his life takes a dramatic turn for the worse. He lives in terror and fear of what is to come next. Creepishly, the portrait of himelf has also changed, beginning to take on lines of cruelty and corruption which shocks Dorian. He is mortified and disgusted and locks up the portraits, never wanting to see it again. All the while, the town continues to gossip about him and seemingly becomes an outcast of society as he becomes more deranged. It isn’t until he tries to redress his failings that we truly see the ‘curse’ of the portrait, and are gripped by the final climax of the novel.

This novel was quite slow to start off with and I was wondering if I was actually going to push through (actually read another novel in between, which isn’t really a good sign). The language doesn’t help much either, being a bit ye ol’ English and pompous. But perservere! By the second half, the story picks up pace and the momentum really builds. The tone of the novel also changes dramatically. I felt a lot of eeriness, reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley and drew some parallels between the protagonist’s of a nice, decent character whose actions lead him to be on the run and never able to redeem his character. Definite recommendation of mine – artistic, imaginative, and grips you right until the very last sentence.

Rich Passionfruit Cupcakes

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Father’s Day calls for a special baking treat and this time around I was in search of yummy cupcakes. Passionfruit is such a wonderful flavour and one that I should use more of! These are really easy to make, so simple, understated and unpretentious, yet packing a punch in rich passionfruit flavour. If you want to make this recipe at any given time but it’s not passionfruit season, passionfruits are too expensive, your supermarket doesn’t have them – whatever reason it might be – you can simply use passionfruit out of a can as I did! The result it perfect and you’re not compromising on flavour in any way.

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This recipe will make about 16 cupcakes, depending on your cupcake pattie size.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 180g unsalted butter, softened
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125g cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon passionfruit pulp (or a whole passionfruit)
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 30g plain flour
  • 60mL milk

Topping

  • 300mL whipping cream
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp (or 2 whole passionfruit)

Essential kitchen items

  • Muffin trays
  • Cupcake patties
  • Electric hand held beater

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Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Beat the softened butter, sugar and vanilla together using an electric mixer until the mixture is light and creamy.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat between each addition.
  4. Add the softened cream cheese and passionfruit pulp and beat again.
  5. Sift the flours together then add to the mixture, alternating with the milk.
  6. Now you’re ready to fill the patties and bake – for 15 minutes!
  7. Meanwhile, beat together the whipping cream and sifted icing sugar. It’s important to sift the icing sugar to avoid your icing being lumpy. Make sure you watch it combine together and don’t over whip or you could soon be creating butter!
  8. Once your cupcakes have finished baking, remove from the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool completely – this will take about 1 hour.
  9. Pipe or spread, as you please, the icing onto the cooled cupcakes, then drizzle with the passionfruit pulp.

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If you love this recipe you’ll also equally enjoy my Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins

Mini Nutella Calzones

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These tiny morsels of deliciousness are so chocolatey and flaky that consumption should be banned for some nutella crazy nuts like myself. Big Bear linked me to a picture of these heavenly pillows of yum but there was no recipe attached unfortunately. So in the kitchen I went to attempt a re-creation and jazz it up with a few ingredient alternatives! They’re so easy to make as well. A simple matter of cutting up your pastry, scooping in a spoonful of nutella, and popping it into the oven to puff up. If you’re like me and want to experiment until your heart’s content, you can try heaps of ingredients. For these one’s I used mini marshmallows, peanuts, white chocolate chunks, coconut flakes and peanut butter. For a ‘healthier’ option, I would recommend small chunks of fruit like strawberries and banana.

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Planning a dinner party or kids birthday? These are simple and can be easily prepared ahead of time and left in the fridge until it’s time to bake them. The beauty is that even though the main flavour is nutella, your guests will be happily surprised by the other delights you pop in, making it a fun evening of flavour guessing.

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This recipe is also very kid friendly and will keep a house full of them entertained when you’re hosting a birthday party. Re-invent the cupcake decorating party and make it a calzone party! Kids can add their own flavour combinations, and hey, you’ve got dessert sorted as well!

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of puff pastry (6 sheets) – defrosted so it’s malleable (this will only take around 15 minutes)
  • 400g jar of nutella
  • Fillings – mini marshmallows, white or dark chocolate chunks, variety of nuts such as chopped hazelnuts, peanuts or almonds, peanut butter, coconut flakes, variety of fruit such as strawberries and banana, hundreds and thousands, glazed cherries – use your imagination!
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • Oil to grease the pastry cutters

Essential kitchen items

  • Plastic pastry cutters
  • Lined baking trays

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

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2. Using a plastic pastry cutter takes out all the guesswork of creating the perfect shape and is very kid friendly. These pastry cutters in the pictures above and below are really easy to work with and give you a perfectly shaped calzone every time. They also come in different sizes! Open up the medium-sized cutter and push the base of it into one corner of the puff pastry. Repeat 3 times to use up all the pastry. You can play around with the other cutters to see how much pastry you can squeeze out of the sheets. Using the medium-large size cutters I find you get about 4 circles per sheets.

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3. Peel the pastry off the plastic lining and now lay the pastry circle on top of the crinkled side of the cutter (remember to grease this side first to avoid the pastry sticking to it). Spoon in your ingredients. I find less is better to start off with to avoid overfilling the pastry and creating leakage – start with a teaspoon first and work from there. Clamp the pastry cutter together so it closes up the calzone and creates a nice crimped effect.

4. Gently peel the calzone off the cutter and place onto a lined baking tray. Pop into the oven at 200 degrees and bake for around 15 minutes – they should be lovely and puffed up with a nice crunchy golden colour. Once they’re done, take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes – the filling will be hot and the pastry might deflate if you try to sink your teeth in too soon.

5. This recipe will make at least 24 calzones if using 6 sheets of puff pastry.

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The Epicure Store, Camden

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Through random Google searches and flicks through various issues of In Macarthur Magazine I first found the Epicure Store in Camden. I grasped a good idea of their services – sellers of cheese, tea, antipasto, oil and vinegar, sourdough bread, handmade cookies, muesli and granola, and raw honey etc etc (according to their website) which surely was good enough to drag me there. It wasn’t until, however, I happened to walk past it on my way back from the Camden Fresh Produce Markets one time that I found it and had to have a peek inside finally. I won’t spoil the details just yet, but can I just say upfront WOW! Not only is this place packed to the brim with bundles of delicious gourmet goodies, the actual goodies they sell are second to none. I have travelled to the Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains and the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show to hunt down particular goodies (Whisk & Pin muesli, The Gourmet Nut Company, and Bruny Island Cheese to name a few) when I could’ve actually driven 20 minutes down the road on any day of the week to get the same goods. On top of all that, they have a café – a quaint and divine experience where you can take the ‘epicure’ further and try out the produce they sell. I just had to drag my gorgeous partner back to make sure we got a proper chance to try out the café for brunch.

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The shop itself is rather small and tightly packed with limited seating on the front veranda of the store. The lady who runs the store is just delightful and helpful and pretty much steers the whole ship herself very impressively!

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The menu although “small and simple” is certainly fabulous. A beautiful selection of breakfast and lunch items – fancy cheese toasties (we’re talking with fillings of blue cheese, gruyere cheese, truffle salt, haloumi and quince jam), salad, soup, platters, gourmet toasts and granola. A really interesting feature of the menu is that they don’t serve coffee. What!??!! I know…. But can you believe that I didn’t even notice, and more importantly I didn’t mind at all, not with the absolutely delicious hot drinks on offer – chai tea, DIY Belgian hot chocolate, spiced raw hot chocolate….plus a terrific selection of T2 teas. They also have a little disclaimer at the bottom of their menu just to explain why: “We know espresso is an art, and our little cottage does not have the space for a canvas. We don’t serve coffee here, but we don’t mind if you BYO.”

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The menu looked so appetizing and I kind of wanted a bit of everything. I was tossing up between the soup of the day (lentil and chickpea) or one of the fancy toasties. In the end I chose the blue cheese toastie with fig jam and rocket along with the chai tea – blend of black tea with traditional spices and raw honey. Big Bear had the Plougman’s Lunch consisting of cheddar, gruyere, cold meats, chutney, figs and sourdough bread plus the spiced raw hot chocolate – organic cacao drinking chocolate with vanilla and cinnamon.

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Blue cheese toastie with fig jam and rocket ($8.50)

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Chai tea - blend of black tea with traditional spices and raw honey

Chai tea – blend of black tea with traditional spices and raw honey ($4.00)

Big Bear and I were so pleased with all the food and drinks – arrived promptly and with such a personal touch. I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese to be honest but I’ve been doing better in handling and adjusting to it over the years. The toastie was gorgeous! A mostly sweet flavour and the blue cheese was so subtle and didn’t overpower the sandwich. The chai was frothy, spicy but not too heavy on the spices. Big Bear’s platter was equally impressive. A generous selection of cheese (from Tasmania and New Zealand), meat, bread and local condiments. He informed me that they had run out of gruyere cheese but was offered brie instead. The brie went really nice with the chutney and Big Bear ate the prosciutto and ham faster than he realised he could’ve made a sandwich out of them!! (that being said, you can totally make a sandwich out of it all as well when you’re there). The vintage cheddar was strong and crumbly and paired nicely with the sweet, syrupy figs and the sweetness of the chutney. The hot chocolate (although not too hot) came with a side of marshmallows and cinnamon stick (so cute!) and had a beautiful spice flavour.

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Plougman’s Lunch – cheddar, gruyere, cold meats, chutney, figs and sourdough ($16.00)

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Spiced raw hot chocolate – organic cacao drinking chocolate with vanilla and cinnamon ($5.00)

All in all a beautiful, local experience of quaint country café dining in Camden. Definitely need to come back and try some more items from the menu I had my eyes on. You can also take home a range of delightful goodies from their store out back – cookbooks, aprons, pancake mix, nuts, fresh bread, tea, cheese, tea cups, sweets, jams, spreads…..so much going on!

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“Our fresh lunches are carefully prepared using a selection of our specialty cheeses, sourdough bread, local produce and gourmet ingredients from our shelves. Our menu is small and simple but delicious, and is updated regularly according to seasonal produce and cheeses.”

Local and imported goodies. No coffee? Don’t worry, we have spiced chai and raw hot choc.

The Epicure Store

Camden Cottage, 39 John Street, Camden NSW 2570

02 4655 4336

hello@epicurestore.com.au

Monday – Wednesday: 9.00am – 5.00pm; Thursday – Friday: 9.00am – 6.00pm

Saturday: 9.00am – 4.00pm; Sunday: 10.00am – 2.00pm

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“Green banana’s” smoothie

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I’m always trying to find new and interesting ways of adding veggies into my everyday eating. I’m happy to say that this delicious smoothie gets me off to the right start for the day. It also gives me an awesome injection of essential nutrients first thing in the morning – fibre, iron, vitamin C, potassium, protein and calcium.

Ok…so there are no actual ‘green bananas’ in this smoothie I whipped up over the weekend. I guess it’s more the ‘vibe’ of the drink.

Many of the smoothies I make are a bit of a blend of leftovers lying in the fridge, freezer and/or pantry (i.e. no strict measurements observed). This was a little experiment which worked out deliciously well. And, it’s almost vegan for you vegans out there (sans honey).

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Ingredients

  • Handful or more of baby spinach
  • 1 small green pear
  • 1 banana
  • Handful walnuts
  • Handful bran
  • 1 cup soy milk (I used Vitasoy  Soy Milky Lite)
  • Squeeze of honey (teaspoon)
  • Water, as needed, to blend

Whizz up everything in a blender and enjoy.

I love the creaminess and the flavours and textures in this smoothie. Sweetness from the banana and pear which lightens up the bitterness of the baby spinach, nuttiness from the walnuts, and creaminess from the soy milk. I usually include bran as well to increase my fibre intake and to add a slight crunch to the smoothie.

The smoothie is also fairly cold itself from the milk, but you can add some ice cubes or use chopped up frozen bananas instead.

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