Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Madeleines

In two weeks' time I'm graduating and for my graduation party I've promised to make Madeleines. These are the cakes from Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time, which mentally transport him back to his childhood. Because I've written about them in my thesis, I thought it would be a good idea to make some. At one stage I decided to be lazy and try and buy them. But, unbelievably, no one in Sydney sells Madeleines. So, I bought the tins and had a trial run the other day. The recipe I used is from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat:

Here is the mixture in the tins ready to go in the oven:

The finished product. The beautiful shell shapes look so elegant, and tasted good too:

Here is the recipe:

Proust's Madeleine's from 'How to Eat'by Nigella Lawson

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon clear honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup superfine sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 cup Italian 00 or all-purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar for serving
Mix 6 tablespoons of the butter with the honey. Beat the eggs, sugar, and salt in a bowl for about 5 minutes with a mixer until it's as thick as mayonnaise. Sprinkle in the flour; I hold a strainer above the egg and sugar mixture, put the flour in it, and shake. Fold in the flour with a wooden spoon and then add the melted butter and the honey. Mix well, but not too vigorously. Leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour, then take out and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the remaining butter over the cavities in the madeleine molds and fill them with the cake mixture. Don't worry about filling the cavities; in the heat of the oven, the mixture will spread before it rises.

Bake 5-10 minutes or until lightly golden on top and golden brown around the edges. Mine seem cooked after about 7 minutes, but not all ovens are the same, so be alert from 5 minutes. Turn out and let cool on a rack, then arrange on a plate and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Now to make one hundred of them for my party - shouldn't be too difficult.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

201st Post

I had plans for marking my 200th post, but somehow it passed by without me realising. Yesterday I happened to see a copy of the 2010 Australian Country Style Calendar in a newsagent with the boatshed on the December page (my apologies to those who are waiting for me to post the story from the magazine from December 2009 - technology such as scanning is somewhat problematic down here). Seeing the calendar made me reflect on the passing of time:

Over the past year some things have changed here. A beautiful baby has grown from this:

To this:

But it still remains a place for family, friends, nature and beauty:

Thanks very much to my fellow bloggers who found me again after my year-long break from blogging. And to everyone who visits my blog, thanks for your encouragement and generosity.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our Visit to Rick Stein at Mollymook

Here is the promised post on our visit to Rick Stein's restaurant. The amazing view of the Pacific Ocean from our balcony:

This is our comfortable and well-appointed room:

Here is the reception area of the restaurant. But we weren't there for the decor:

For starters we ordered the Warm Shellfish with Parsley, Chili, Olive Oil, Garlic and Lemon Juice. Simple but gorgeous:

Here is the fish and shellfish soup with Rouille and Parmesan. The idea is to take the croutons on the plate'in the foreground, spread them with the rouille and parmesan, and float them in the soup. It was sensational:
The main courses were: Escalopes of Tasmanian Salmon with a Sorrel Sauce, and Fillet of Blue Eye Trevalla, Slivers of Potato, Mushrooms and Truffle Oil. The combination of fresh local seafood and simple ingredients cooked in the French style was amazing :

The next morning we had a continental breakfast of cereal, fruit, bread and pastries. Of course the delicious banana bread and croissants were made on the premises:

Overall, we had a lovely experience with the best food I've had in Australia. I enjoyed the food more than I have in the top restaurants in Sydney.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mollymook via Cornwall

I'm so excited! Tonight we're going to dinner at Rick Stein's restaurant. No, not in Padstow, Cornwall, but a newly-opened one in Mollymook, on the south coast of NSW, at Bannisters Point resort. Here is the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, or 'Padstein' as it's come to be called:

What a beautiful part of the world:

Although Mollymook doesn't look too bad either:

I'll let you know how it goes.

Images courtesy of the restaurants' websites.

Spring cleaning

With summer just around the corner, we've been sprucing things up. There's not much to do on the boatshed, so we've shifted our focus to a nearby house. For the past four years this lounge on the veranda has had its original 60s olive and orange cushions covered by makeshift white covers. It was time for a makeover, so I got my friendly upholsterer to recover the cushions in an oatmeal fabric:

The sandy tone gives it a subtle beachy feel and goes well with white:

We replanted the garden at the front of the veranda with some traditional plants like azaleas which I think are nonetheless compatible with the natives and the Aussie icon, the water tank:

Here is the bigger picture:

I can't wait till they grow and the flowers come out:

Thanks to our gardener friend Tass for selecting just the right plants for the space

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Office Chic

I'm very interested in old office furniture, but it's something you never really find in op shops, and the trendy retro stores charge a fortune. I found this in a local second-hand store recently. The slots fit A4 folders perfectly and I can't wait to use this in my office (when it's built of course). I'll feel like I'm working in an old-fashioned post office:

Being a bibliophile and sometime librarian, I've always wanted some filing drawers. I found this little set of two and I love that one of the drawers has an old label on it:

I have no idea what a 'Stud Prefix' is, but it sounds pretty cool so I'm leaving the label attached:

Now to find a reasonably-priced library ladder and apothecary cabinet. Somehow I don't think that will be as easy.

Canister Collection

I couldn't resist the beautiful buttercup yellow and dove grey combination of these canisters I found at the op shop last week. The main reason they caught my eye is that they perfectly complement the 40s laminex on the benchtop:

It's like having my own little baboushka dolls fitting snugly inside each other. I even love the fact that 'Rice' is missing, as are the 'r' and the loop of the 'g' in sugar. These are signs that they've been well-loved and used by their previous owner:

They say that if you've got three or more of something you have a collection. I've got four sets of canisters now. The ones on the left are in the most beautiful colours - aubergine, rust, olive and eau-de-nil. The ones on the right are in classic 70s ochre and orange:

This white sugar canister has three others inside it. The lettering is fading, which is part of the attraction:

All I need now are some more shelves for my growing 'collection'.
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