Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Retirees long lunch at the Dip Inn

A great time was had by all when 17 retirees, former work colleagues of my hubby, enjoyed a long lunch at our place, The Dip Inn :), yesterday. The dips or starters of mainly Mediterranean origin, specialties
of our friend Paul, set the tone for the banquet to follow. Centre stage above are Pumpkin Hommus, Beetroot Hommus, Baba Ganoush and Basil Pesto.

Thanks to Paul, the following are the recipes for his Pumpkin and Beetroot Hommus:

Pumpkin Hommus

1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon evoo
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tin chick peas drained and shelled (rub chick peas between fingers in water to gently remove shells)
1/2 butternut pumpkin, roasted
Mix all in a food processor until smooth.

Beetroot hommus

Substitute pumpkin with a tin of drained beetroot. Use cooked fresh beetroot if inspired. How easy is that. I'm looking forward to the next long lunch already!!

Baba ganoush

Dear Reader, Do you enjoy having long lunches at your place and find them relaxing?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Voyager Estate, WA

Following an enjoyable wine tasting at Voyager Estate, Margaret River, we move toward the restaurant to enjoy a Devonshire Tea as Mr. H.R.K. has his heart set on it. The dining room has the WOW factor, and it isn't just the wine talking. Impressive Blue and white jardiniers attract the eye immediately, and then the chandeliers command attention,  and whilst this is all sounds very French, the whole vineyard is of Dutch inspired design.

The wine tasting was remarkable, not too much or too little, and given that Voyager wines must be the best on the planet given the cost, we enjoyed every drop.

The blue and white theme continues with the crockery and enhances the Devonshire Tea experience. We enjoy a superb afternoon tea, perfectly warmed scones, the thickest clotted cream, and home made strawberry jam boasting whole pieces
of fruit. Great coffee as well was served.

Beautiful rose gardens at Voyager Estate

Voyager is worth a visit if only just to enjoy the magnificent gardens. The lawns appear to be hand manicured, hedges hand trimmed, a perfect setting for a wedding or romantic rendezvous, or just a relaxing wander through the grounds.

It has also now acquired the rights to the Dutch East India Company brand, VOC,  ensuring trade with China and other Asian neighbours is assured.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Miss Daisy's Teahouse, Mount Canobolas

Miss Daisy's Teahouse offered enjoyable refreshment on our drive to Mount Canobolas.

During the morning of Matthew's Graduation ceremony, we go for a drive and explore Orange, N.S.W., reconnecting with some favourite places we remember and finding some new spots, as you do. I am desperate for a cup of tea, as the weather up there is much drier than what we are used to. It is too early for a glass of wine despite the abundant cellar doors available in the area:)

As we approach the drive to Mount Canobolas, Google maps directs us to Miss Daisy's Teahouse. Thankyou so much Google. What a delightful spot, decorated in an old-fashioned teahouse style reminiscent of times past, with a wonderful assortment of cakes and meals to choose from. Also, an interesting selection of teas was available. I selected Orange almond cake which was delicious and presented beautifully as you can see below.

There was a Mothers playgroup with babies at a table nearby, who I gathered were regular visitors and were busily planning activities. A welcome sight.

A wonderful interlude during a busy day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Clara's Apple Tarte Tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin, is a special French dessert which when cooked well, remains a fond memory after it is eaten. This beautifully golden, caramelised tart is best served warm if possible, but not too hot, so that the flavours can really develop.

Clara, a delightful young French woman, is cooking Tarte Tatin and invites me to help and learn her secrets to cooking this family recipe. It is I suspect  her signature dish. As we commence preparation I realise that there is no actual recipe and she cooks  by instinct and feel. This is my best attempt to recreate the recipe. It tasted delicious.


15 red apples (the cheapest available)
120g butter
100g white sugar
2 sheets puff pastry
1 teaspoon canelle (canelle=cinnamon)


Chop butter into pieces and add to a deep stove top pan with white sugar and cinnamon. Melt these ingredients together and cook together to caramelise.

To make caramel, keep stirring and cooking butter, sugar and cinnamon until starting to brown.

Add cored and chopped apples to pan, cover with caramel and simmer apples until soft. This might take a while on a low heat. Allow caramelised apple mixture to cool.

Place apple mixture into a lightly greased spring form cake tin. Place 2 sheets Puff Pastry along top of apples, tucking in any excess around the apples.. Place holes in top of pastry and cook in a moderate oven at 180 deg. until browned.

Remove from the oven and gently ease a knife all the way around the edge of the tart. Carefully place a large heatproof dinner or serving  plate over pastry and quickly turn over the cake tin releasing the tart on to the plate so that pastry sits on the plate and the golden brown apples and a syrupy sauce are at the top.

The dessert can be refrigerated  until eaten if not eaten warm.

Dear Reader, have you had a memorable Tarte Tatin experience anywhere? If you have cooked it yourself, do you prefer using red apple varieties available in Australia, or the Granny Smith apple for a more tart flavour? In Europe, there is access to beautiful home grown apple varieties for cooking,  which we don't really have here.

Best wishes


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mt. Helena vegetable farm in the Perth Hills

We left Chidlow in the Perth Hills and drove to a local roadside fruit and vegetable farm at Mt. Helena, close to the IGA, intending to quickly purchase some local produce, recommended by our son and move on.

After walking with the farmer to his rows of vegetables and personally selecting what we want which he hand picks, we are still there an hour later. We are still talking animatedly to Paul about everything to do with growing your own fruit and vegetables, soil conditions, weed control, and local conditions.

Some might call him slightly eccentric, but he was one of the most interesting, genuine and entertaining people I have met in quite a while.

Local farming in this area is mainly restricted to Summer as Winters are severe. We need to support local farmers like Paul who provide us with healthier and more interesting  options to eat than the supermarkets, and provide a much more engaging shopping experience. Don't you think?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Blueberries from Viva Vasse Market

Travelling to Margaret River we come across the Viva Vasse Market, a nice surprise and of course it is Saturday. Desperate for local fresh produce we make a stop. As I write this my Mr. HRK is demolishing a punnet of fresh local blueberries, we bought 4 for $15. Do you think that is a reasonable price over here?

A French bakery supplies us  with  a rustic looking sourdough loaf, we buy ample fresh vegetables, and move on.

Further up the road we drive through Cowaramup, with more black and white artificial cows than real ones beside the road. They have taken establishing a brand to a whole new level,  but still they are very cute.

We reach Margaret River and stop at Yahava Koffee Works, our favourite  coffee shop in the S.W.

Does anyone have good memories of Yahava coffee to share?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Australian Premium Wheat makes great noodles

Wheat harvesting in progress

Western Australian wheat ready for harvest

A bumper harvest of Australian Premium Wheat grown near Northam in Western Australia produces great yields. Have you ever wondered where the flour in the Asian noodles at the local IGA or supermarket comes from? I was fortunate to visit with Matthew, my son and an Agricultural Scientist, one of the most productive Western Australian wheat farms near Northam averaging 2.5 tonnes of wheat grain per hectare over an area of approximately 1500 hectares. Wheat is the main cash crop, but Ray, the owner of the property, also grows canola and lupins each year. We were lucky to visit during a bumper harvest with some paddocks yielding 5 tonnes of wheat grain per hectare!

The grain of high protein content is stored in nearby silos, and then exported to Indonesia, Vietnam, and other northern neighbours depending on market price, to be used in the creation of Udon and Two Minute Noodles. Lower quality grain is sold as seed for future crops or as bread wheat.

It was very interesting to ride in the harvester with Ray, and then witness the transfer of the grain from the harvester to the chaser bin that then takes the grain to the silo. Thanks to Matthew and Ray, I drove away feeling very proud of our wheat industry and the passion, knowledge and dedication of the farmer. I learnt a lot and was impressed by the amount of scientific data available to Ray from the cabin computer in the harvester as he worked.

Transfer of wheat from the harvester to the chaser bin

So dear readers, do we take the wheat industry too much for granted and forget that our breads and pastas are also a result of a highly technical and sustainable industry?

Spice journey - flavour that travels

We noticed the Spice Journey take away van this afternoon when travelling between Australind and Bunbury on the Old Coast Road in SW W.A.Quite a crowd of locals were gathered waiting for their order which seemed to be a good recommendation.
We ordered curries and Mango Kulfi for dessert and weren't disappointed. Wow, delicious  and authentic Indian food. We only waited 5 minutes for our order.

I love the serendipity of travel, don't you.