Saturday, November 26, 2011

see me on Inside Cuisine

< is my new taste and travel blog. I hope you'll join me there ... It's been a while between eats and drinks here! There's been a lot happening, but mostly my energy has been focused on my new blog In the time since I started this, my content have grown so it was time to have my own grown up domain

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Because I am a Girl in Australia

I had a fairytale upbringing with time to play ... cubby houses in the lounge room ... summers jumping over the garden sprinkler ... ballet classes ... music lessons ... cooking for fun ... baking scones + ANZAC biscuits + caramel slice ... and my own personal fairy Starbright.

Before I went to school, or so mum always said, I would insist on getting on the bus ‘without her’, paying my own fare, and sitting at the back and pretending she wasn’t there. I didn’t realise the great gift I had been given. It wasn’t until I’d ‘grown up’, that I realised that my idyllic upbringing was not shared by all girls.

Because I am a Girl in Australia, I had the opportunity to travel to other countries, at first through exploring their cuisines. Later as an adult, I did ‘actually’ travel overseas. These were eye-opening experiences.

While I was in Uzbekistan, for example, I was hugged by women, strangers, in the street, who ran to me with roses and smiles, to greet my independence. I was born into a family, culture and country where I had choices, and was treated no differently, because I am a girl. For me, cooking isn’t a daily chore and responsibility, but pure joy in being able to nurture others. I do not need to wait and be the last to eat in the family, because I am a girl. For me, there is the time and opportunity, to cook for pleasure, to eat in restaurants, and to indulge my passion Inside Cuisine.
The more I saw and the more I read, the more I realised it was my responsibility as an independent woman, to create a brighter future. I sponsor three girls: Anyi and Yeny in Honduras, and Gisselle in Ecuador.

I'm a member of the Because I am a Girl Coalition for Investment in Girls. I hope you’ll join me in supporting this very worthy cause and together we can ‘feed’ the world.

How you can Support the Because I am a Girl campaign:

■Join the Facebook Community – Help build a community united to fight for girls’ rights and help them break the poverty cycle. Join Plan’s Because I am a Girl Facebook page to keep learning and get involved or post a link to the website or campaign videos on your wall.

Talk it up on Twitter – Stay up-to-date and share the latest information, stories and activities with your networks by following Plan’s Because I am a Girl on Twitter. #becausiIamagirl

Buy a campaign T-Shirt – Look good and feel great while telling the world that we need to invest in girls in a Fairtrade Certified Organic Cotton campaign tee.

Share Videos – Email the campaign videos to your friends or post them to your blog or Facebook. You can also check out the latest campaign videos and learn more about the lives of girls and young women in developing countries at Plan Australia’s Channel on YouTube.

Sponsor a Child – When you sponsor a child with Plan your money funds projects chosen by the child’s community that benefit everyone. Girls and boys are sponsored equally in each community, but all Plan programming aims to take into consideration the unique obstacles faced by girls.

Donate to Plan’s GirlsFund – Plan International Australia has established a GirlsFund to support efforts to identify and respond to the barriers girls face. Your donation to GirlsFund will go towards initiatives like this within priority projects that address unique obstacles faced by girls. This will help give girls every opportunity to thrive and break the poverty cycle.

Join Children First! – When you donate regularly through Children First, your money funds Plan Australia’s priority projects that address the specific development needs of communities.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

a letter from Anyi

I received a letter in the post during the week, and for one reason or another, didn't have a chance to open the letter until this morning. When I opened it I cried. Here's the letter from 3 year old Anyi (from Honduras).

Rebecca Varidel
Dear sponsor,

I take the pen and paper on my hands to address this letter to a special and important person like you. It's a nice afternoon and the birds eagerly sing around my house.

Rebecca, I hope you get many presents in this Christmas time and I wish you blessings. I send you lots of hugs and kisses. I am fine and in good health as well as my family.

I am on vacation and I was in kindergarten and learned to color. I know the colors and many more things. I received the family gift you sent me and I bought important things. The gift was $93.15 = Lpa 1761.47 and bought clothes and shoes. I think you for this gift you sent me in November. Here in my country we celebrate Christmas with our family and eat delicious sweet meals. I wish you a happy Christmas aside of your family.

So long. I hope you send me your letters and photos to get to know you. Receive hugs and kisses from me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

raw milk CHEESE needs YOUR VOICE

Last October a bunch of us had a bit of a treat. The dinner would have been a treat anyway, as it was cooked by Stefano Manfredi and his team at Bells at Killcare. The dinner ended with a guided tasting by Will Studd of 8 cheeses. Formaggella di Capri stagionata, Cave-aged Gorgonzola piccante, Bra Duro dAlpeggio raw milk, Cave-aged Fontina d'Aosta raw milk, Cacio di Bosca, Testun Foglie di Castagno, 2007 Toascolo Dolce (Zibibbo) and 2007 Speri Valpolicella Classico Superiore 'Ripasso'.

Now, if you're not sure why these were special, let me add another dimension to taste.

Currently in Australia, raw milk cheese cannot be produced, and also, we are not allowed to import these cheeses into Australia in quantity. I can, however, quite happily fly to Europe and eat them.

Will Studd has been lobbying for 15 years to have this changed. The challenge is now urgent. If you love food, PLEASE use your voice. Read below! Take action and put in a submission! AND, please pass this on ...


Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is seeking public comment on its recently released proposals (P1007) to change Australian Food Standards for cheese in Australia.

If you want the opportunity to enjoy a complete range of raw milk cheese in Australia PLEASE make a submission (it’s easy - see Will Studd’s draft submission below). In summary your submission must be in writing and should be sent by email where possible include full contact details be submitted by 6pm (Canberra time) 24 February 2010.

In order to encourage as many people as possible to make a submission before the deadline, Will Studd has prepared the following draft submission. If you wish to send a submission you may copy and paste the following – adding your contact details and any of your own views or thoughts – and email to:

FSANZ has issued a list of questions that indicate areas that they are particularly interested in – Will’s draft covers the first 2 “Overarching” questions (questions in blue, Will’s answer in black), you may also like to answer the “Consumer” questions listed below – otherwise just delete them. Attached is Will’s summary of the situation FYI.

If you wish to read the full FSANZ proposal, it’s available at:

full details on making a submission see:

Copy and send from below here Submission regarding Proposal P1007 - Primary Production & Processing Requirements For Raw Milk Products

By your name, job title/position, address, telephone number, fax and email address

Overarching questions:

1) The overarching scope of the Proposal is assessing the safety of raw milk products using the Category Framework. FSANZ has undertaken a Technical Assessment based on three Risk Assessments (Raw Cow Milk, Raw Goat Milk and Raw Milk Cheese), a Consumer Study and Nutrition Assessment – Can you identify any aspects we have not covered at this point?

The Proposals exaggerate the risks of raw milk products.

They state that “Because of the potential for raw milk to be contaminated with pathogens, raw milk and products made from raw milk present a high level of risk to public health and safety if there are no control measures to manage the microbiological hazards that may be present.”

It is a false assumption that the risks are “high level” for raw milk products. A more realistic description for raw milk products is “they present an additional risk to public health and safety compared with products made from correctly pasteurised milk”.

2) We have summarised the impacts by option in Table 1 in the Report. Do you have any comments on the overall assessment? Can you identify other benefits and costs to the affected parties?

For raw milk cheese, the overall assessment seems to be far more alarmist than the technical assessment suggests. I consider that the technical assessment indicates that all soft cheese should be placed in Category 2, reserving Category 3 for raw drinking milk alone.

Include and answer below if you wish, otherwise delete Consumers:

3) Would Australian consumers benefit from a greater range of cheeses and dairy products? Please provide details.

4) FSANZ has received comments that raw milk cheeses are likely to be gourmet, high-end market products. Costs associated with ensuring the safety of products may also be passed on to the customer - if raw milk cheeses were permitted:
a. How much would you be willing to pay for such cheeses?
b. Are you willing to pay more than the cost of current gourmet cheeses?
c. Are you prepared to pay more if there are added costs in ensuring the safety of raw milk products?
d. Would you choose to purchase an Australian raw milk cheese over an imported equivalent?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Featured Foodie on SBS Food

It's been a pretty exciting week. In fact an exciting two weeks, what with Sydney food festival CuisineNOW and interviewing Monsieur Roux. That very same day, this interview with me was also published on the SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) Food website and sent out featured in their fortnightly newsletter.

Here's an excerpt:

Tell us about your favourite food event in Australia.

I think the first major food event I went to in Australia was the Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park. That’s still a favourite because of the highlight on produce. (and because I cooked the press breakfast there one year). My hometown festivals in Sydney, are all great fun, and a great place to learn. The World Chef’s Conference in Sydney was really interesting, and I participated in lots of events at the Sydney International Food Festival.

I’m really excited that this month I’m going to a few events - a masterclass and lunch by Nicolas Le Bec, dinner by Michel Roux Senior and the Gala Dinner with all 7 chefs - at the inaugural Cuisine NOW.

And, I’m really looking forward to March and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Or ... read the whole interview here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Backyard Fresh

Check out my full article Backyard Fresh <~ here~!

Or read and excerpt ~ here ~>

..."There is a massive groundswell of cultural interest in food that embraces locally grown ingredients and supports the retention of artisanal skills and produce diversity. As we start a new decade, there is a new connection with where and how our food is grown and made.

Our changing attitudes to food start with growing our own food — at home in the backyard, in pots on the balcony and most recently in community gardens. We see this new connection to food too when we shop at farmers' markets and then experiment with cooking with local food and farm to table dining. Eating in restaurants that support local ingredients and artisanal produce can also revitalise our relationship to the produce we consume. Like the generations of farmers before us, urban cooks are now embracing using the best of what's fresh and in season — and then returning to home preserving to store the excess.

This change is heralded by an increasing number of chefs who are basing their menus around local ingredients. Celebrity TV Ready Steady Cook chef Jared Ingersoll is "passionate about supporting local farmers and artisan producers". "A big motivator was watching the erosion of our food culture," he said recently. It is seven years since he started the Danks Street Depot in Sydney, and Jared laments that he has seen many small producers go out of business, or suffer ill health from financial stress in that period. He says that while "we hear romantic stories of beef in Argentina and olive oil from Spain," when we turn to imported produce, we are neglecting the quality and skills that are available on our doorstep. "...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

St Lucia saffron cake

I adore saffron. Sometime back I decided to play around and add saffron to a cake and came up with this recipe.

As it turns out, just today I read that saffron is used to make a traditional Christmas cake in Sweden for St Lucia Day, which is celebrated on 13th December. Legend has it that Lucia as a young girl, about to be a bride, gave her entire dowry to the poor of her village and admitted that she had become a Christian. She was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake on December 13th, 304 A.D. (She is also the patron saint for Italian fisherman, and is said to guide them through a storm).

I've read that in all the Scandanavian countries, on St Lucia Day, breakfast is served at dawn, and is celebrated with saffron buns and gingerbread.

My homage to St Lucia is this cake. Why not try serving it dusted with icing sugar to represent the white gown usually associated with the Italian medieval saint. And, in Australian summer of December 13th, seasonal fresh berries can provide the red sash that usually adorns the gown.

St Lucia Saffron Cake

generous pinch of saffron threads
3/4 cup milk
4oz (125g) butter
3 eggs
1 cup castor sugar
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
pinch of salt

Place saffron in milk, and bring to scalding but do not boil. Remove from heat and allow to infuse. Add cubed butter to the milk; heat slowly until the butter has melted and remove from heat. (Do not boil) Bring back to room temperature.

Grease 8" (20cm) square pan and line base with baking paper. In a large bowl, whisk whole eggs and gradually add the castor sugar, making sure the sugar dissolves between each addition. Alternatively add sifted flour, and butter mixture, (1/4 each time) to the eggs and sugar base. Whisk until light.

Pour into prepared tin. Bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes. Allow to stand a few minutes, before turning out to cool.

Serve when cold, dredged with sifted icing sugar, and adorned with fresh red berries (or macerated red fruits).
The photo is a later addition to this post ~ I never got around to taking a photo myself ~ and with kind permission I've used this shot that twitter food friend @daz77 Darren Smith took of his cake that he made with this recipe, and that he shared on twitter ~ another wonderful way that we share food