Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Church Point Apartment

I often walk past this apartment building in Church Point and think living in a building like this, is possibly the only way I would ever get views as magical as this.  It is still at the high end on price, but less than a house with the same stunning outlook.  The apartment has some beautifully fresh lines and I love a tiled floor in a beach abode.  Take a look around and let me know what you think.  I love the way you could just shut the door and travel as well.
She is close to yacht clubs, marinas, beaches restaurants and cafes and would definitely do me.  Here is some more about this property for those serious players amongst us.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Coconut Cake with Passionfruit Butter Frosting

This recipe is brought to you by Fisher and Paykel and Finish

Hello Beach Dwellers
I have to say that with this cool weather well and truly hovering over Sydney, we have been doing lots of entertaining around the fireplace with tea, cake with a little bit of champagne thrown in for good measure.

I must try to get my Mediterranean diet back on track very soon, but I do love catching up with friends and afternoon tea is a stress free way to do it.  It usually involves way too much sugar and alcohol, but life is too short to worry too much about that on the weekend.  I figure if I stay away from this stuff midweek, then all will be well with my healthy eating quest.

This cake is beautifully moist, very easy and completely delicious.  

Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Butter Frosting
130g unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of lite milk
80g plain Natural yoghurt (no added sugar)
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

For the Passion Fruit Butter Icing
300g unsalted butter softened
300g pure icing sugar sifted.  (If you like it sweeter you can add up to 700g but try it first)
Pulp of 6-7 passion fruit ( 4 for the icing and 2-3 for garnishing)

Preheat the oven to 180 C or 375 F.

Grease and line the bottom of a 25 cm/9 inch cake tin.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time
add milk, yoghurt and vanilla.  Sift in flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt together.  Then add the coconut.  Mix well to combine.

Pour batter into a cake tin and cook in the oven for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing.
Beat the butter and icing sugar to combine.

Add the passion fruit and mix well to combine.

Carefully cut the cake in half.  Spread the bottom half with icing.  Then spread the remaining icing on top and garnish with generous dollops of passion fruit pulp.

Sit back and enjoy.

The clean up is easier too for afternoon tea, than a 3 course meal and really it's about seeing friends rather than stressing myself to the max trying to impress them.  A few cups and saucers, a cake plate and some forks and spoons into the dishwasher and it's done.

Personally I 'love' my dishwasher and have been known to burst into tears when I discover it has broken down.  Not sure what that says about me, but I truly believe it is the key to keeping a kitchen clean.  

Life is too short, but now it seems a kitchen isn't with DishDrawer Technology.

 Fisher and Paykel have created four different sized ergonomically designed DishDrawers to fit any kitchen layout.

We don't think twice about having a refrigerator, oven or cook top in the kitchen and now there is no need to compromise on convenience without a dishwasher either.  

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Coffee Obsession Story and a Giveaway or 3

This post is sponsored by Harris Coffee and Nuffnang

Do you ever get to a point in your day and think I missed my morning coffee, that must be why I am feeling a little low?  It's not just the pick me up that coffee gives me, but also the daily ritual around coffee.  Whether it's brewing it at home on your own coffee maker of choice or catching up with the girls after school drop off, 5.9 million Australians, including me, start their day off with a coffee.

Harris Coffee is celebrating 130 years in business this year and they are asking Australians to share their coffee obsession stories for a chance to win one of 130 personalised anniversary prize packs.  Harris are also running an in store promotion with three lucky coffee lovers winning a trip to an international coffee heartland of their choice - Brazil, Africa or Costa Rica.

As a coffee lover I have many coffee obsession stories.  I could tell you about how my first memory of espresso coffee at home, was when my dad came home with this funky Italian made piece of coffee making genius.   He set about introducing me to Italian coffee culture by making me the perfect home made espresso coffee, only to set the pressure valve way too high.  When he released it, the cap flew off spreading wet ground coffee all over the kitchen. No one was harmed in the making of that coffee, but my mother was cleaning coffee from every nook of that kitchen for weeks to come.  Dad was great in the kitchen until it came to the clean up.

Or I could tell you about a spunky boyfriend I had in my early 20s, who drove a cute coupe Alfa Romeo and really introduced me to the burgeoning outdoor cafe scene in East Sydney.  That always involved lots of espresso coffee and believe me, espresso coffee wasn't the only thing he introduced me to.  Enough said!!!!

But today I am going to share the story of a lovely event I attended recently hosted by Harris ambassador Ada Nicodemou and Wayne Archer, Master Blender at Harris.

We had some lovely coffee, made on a beautiful espresso machine by Daniel Vergnano, Harris Master Roaster.

His hot tip was to make sure the coffee holder on the machine is dry and that you stir the coffee so that the best of the coffee does not accumulate at the bottom of your cup.

Over coffee we had lovely catch up with blogging friends.

and of course I couldn't help but admire the beautiful private home in Darling Point, where the event was held.

How cute is the globe with place names attached?

Then it was down to business.  Wayne and  Daniel  introduced us to the many different varieties that Harris sources from all over the world and how they blend and mix the beans to create some of their signature styles of coffee. 

We tried the different varieties as black coffee. No milk, which as a latte drinker was a challenge for me. Interestingly the one I liked best was the less intense variety, Premium.  I was not keen on the Black Label in the tasting, but had happily drunk it whilst talking to Mel, because it had skim milk in it.

It just goes to show coffee is such an acquired taste and there is no right or wrong blend, it is just a matter of choosing what is right for you.

We also learned that almost 87 million coffees are drunk in Australia each week and the average coffee drinker has 15 coffees a week.  I think that makes me below average on this one, as I have one a day in the morning and feel ratty if I don't.

We then got the chance to win one of these gorgeous coffee machines by guessing the number of coffee beans in the Harris 500 gram bag.  I said 650 and was way off, as it is nearer 3000.  I would have loved to upgrade to one of these fabulous machines at the beach house, so I could make guests a beautiful espresso coffee when entertaining or just to make my morning coffee at home.  What a luxury.  Currently I use a plunger coffee maker, which is fine, but being a barista in my own home would be nice for espresso and a big saving too.

After the coffee tasting it was back to the gorgeous food all washed down with some lovely coffee of course.

Harris are running 3 giveaways right now.  Two on their Facebook page
and one right here on this blog.

Giveaway 1: For your chance to win 1 of 3 coffee lover holidays worth $20,000 enter with Harris Coffee here.

Giveaway 2: To win one of 130 anniversary prize packs including a personalised signature blend pack, a Bodum travel cup with plunger and your coffee obsession story turned into a piece of art go here.

Giveaway 3:
 To win a a Harris Coffee prize pack on this blog containing the following:

Harris Espresso beans 500g
Harris Espresso ground 200g
Harris Premium beans 500g
Harris Black label ground 200g
Harris Reserve Colombian ground 1kg

RRP: $63.00

 Leave a comment on this blog, telling me your coffee obsession story.

The giveaway on this blog is now closed. Anne M congratulations you are the winner and I hope you enjoy your coffee.

Terms and conditions of Giveaway 3 can be viewed here.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gluten Free Cake Recipe

Gluten free, dairy free and sugar free orange cake recipe
So my mum's orange tree is groaning under the weight of organic fruit at the moment.  It's a good problem to have, but how to use them up before all the cockatoos get there first.  They usually eat a big hole in each orange, then just junk it and move to the next one.

Leaving an almighty mess all over the back lawn.

But not this year.  I was determined to get there first.  The result being that we have had one of these lovely cakes on the kitchen bench continually for about 3 weeks running.  The oranges have only ever had sunshine and rainwater on them, and as this recipe uses the whole orange, I am happy to report that I feel good about using organic ones in this cake, thus avoiding any residue chemicals on the skin of the oranges.

This recipe is not for the faint hearted on budget, but OMG it is healthy, very delicious and so easy. It would make a lovely dessert for a dinner party or would be great for an afternoon tea party. It is gluten free, dairy free and sugar free.  How do you make a deliciously luxe cake without those culprits you ask?  Well take a look.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free Orange Cake Recipe
2 large whole organic oranges
2 cups almond meal
6 eggs
1 cup or 250 mls pure maple syrup.  Aldi sells the pure stuff with no added sugar at the cheapest price I could find.
1 teaspoon baking powder. 
Spray olive oil for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a round spring form tin by lining the bottom with baking paper and spraying the bottom and sides with olive oil spray.
Place oranges in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and turn down heat to simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove the fruit from the water, cut in half and remove the seeds.  I actually didn't really bother with this bit, as they all whiz up anyway.

Place oranges and all the other ingredients in a food processor and whiz into a cake batter for 1-2 minutes until processed.

Pour into your cake tin and cook for 50 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a cake plate.  The cake will sink a little in the middle owing to the eggs losing air, as the cake cools.

Enjoy a super cake served with berries and fruit of your choice.

For all my other baking and dessert recipes go here.

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Transformation Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
My Romantic Home
Weekend Wrap Up
Sunday Showcase
Metamorphosis Monday
Wow Us Wednesday
Foodie Friday
Sundae Scoop
Take a Look Tuesday
Chef in Training
No Minimalist Here
Funday Monday
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Gourmet Garden Cook Off Video is out

If any of you guys are remotely interested in the video of my round of the Gourmet Garden blog off cook off final, here it is.

Just click on the shot or here to see it.

It brings back memories of how much fun the conference was.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Newport Beach: Where to Shop and Eat

Today I am taking you on a tour of Newport Beach  shopping strip.  There are some really great home wares and clothing stores, and cute cafes and restaurants.  My absolute favourite of all is Manyara Home.  Rouba Alamein is an absolute creative genius and I adore her work.

She sources stunning bespoke collectibles and home wares from all over the world.  These chandelier frames were beaded by her and I would absolutely love one hanging over my island bench.  Their price is commensurate with the level of style. But I did manage to source the chandelier hanging over my dining table for Manyara some years back.  Although it is alot less elaborate than these gorgeous ones, it was well under $150 from memory and is much admired by guests to the Beach House.

Rouba also has a wedding styling business, known as The Style Salon and you can see loads of her talents there as well.  She styles many beautiful Northern Beaches weddings and Sydney events generally.

The store has a small range of interesting exotic fashion

and so many gorgeous bespoke pieces

Newport is also home to Mark Tuckey, who I featured in a separate post here.

Beachside Homewares is a more conventional home wares and gift store, with some interesting object d'art and is the only supplier of the Palm Beach Candle Collection on the shopping strip on Barrenjoey Road Newport Beach.

The there is Karavan for hand woven rugs, artisan furniture  and some beautiful middle Eastern ceramics and other objects of desire

There is a lovely cafe culture in Newport and some of the cutest are down the side streets off Barrenjoey Road.

But my two favourites are Zubi Bar.  Where there is some serious eye candy

and a fabulous court yard which is often well frequented by mums with prams.

The indoors has some lovely vintage styling and they do a great coffee and toasted sandwich.

For a more substantial meal, think breakfast lunch and dinner. Harvest Store & Kitchen is absolutely lovely.  There have been several attempts in this space to make a go of it, but I think Harvest is really onto something.  They have beautifully styled the space with lush hot pink lounges and big vases of greenery.  There is a bar and the food looks great.  We only had a coffee, but they have a two and three course table d'ote style menu (below) which Mr Beach House and I will be coming back to try in the near future.

They also offer a range of gourmet produce in the cafe which looked interesting.  I also loved the 'corrugated iron' wallpaper, which actually looked real.  The waitress told me to go up and feel it, which I duly did.  It is such an optical illusion and looks completely real from a short distance.

Here's the menu, which looks simple, elegant and reasonably priced on quality.

My pick for clothing stores is Di van Ooi Atelier. who would not allow photos, but they have some lovely stuff.  The store is described on its website as the "working atelier and showroom of a milliner, passionate traveller, collector and design talent spotter" and I think that just about sums it up.  This store is different in a good way and definitely worth a look.

They are downsizing into the corner shop at the moment and have much beautifulness that will not fit, so there is lots on sale right now.

Lee Mathews, (also in Paddington and Mosman) who also does not allow photos has some lovely designer pieces.  Prices are not for the faint hearted, but are lovely all the same. And the sale is worth a look.

Another of my favourites clothing stores is Splice up the southern end of the strip.

There is also a great recycled fashion store known as Encore and they stock some fabulous designer womens' ware, with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Charlie Brown and Saba at prices which are very much on budget.

Most of the shoes were as new and I am definitely going back to have a look in more detail.

There is also a Red Cross Shop in an arcade on the Barrenjoey strip.  I have never found much to buy in here as it is quite small, but with these kind of stores you have to look constantly.

So they are my tips for a day trip to Newport Beach.
If you would like to make a day of it and check out this region for homewares, fashion and lunch, you would also have time for at least Avalon or Palm Beach. Here are my  picks for Avalon and Palm Beach as well.

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