Monthly Archives: December 2015

Put a Sparkle in your Christmas!

Everyone needs a bit of sparkle at Christmas and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a nice bottle of bubbly. LFW checks out some affordable brands and prices—and a couple not so affordable! By Aine Dowlingchampagne75800

In a past life and in another country I used to work for a wine merchant so I could be a tad biased (read spoilt) when it comes to bubbles. Every Christmas and birthday we could choose a bottle from the warehouse as our gift, and I have to admit that my choices were mostly Moet, Veuve Clicquot, Piper Heidsieck, or Dom Perignon. If you were to buy Dom now you would pay around $195 a bottle!

Seriously though, after you’ve bought the presents, bought the food, and shopped ‘til you dropped, who has the money to spare; not to mention the energy to scour out the specials, so we’ve scoured a few for you!

Plus a few quirky wine gifts just because …

Australian and New Zealand Sparkling Wines

1 Aus & NZ Wines-page-001

Chandon is a popular Aussie sparkling; never to be confused with Moet & Chandon … the only similarity is in the name. Lindauer is a reasonably priced NZ bubbly, but I personally prefer Oyster Bay over both the others.

French and German Sparklings2 French & German sparkling-page-001

Not many people associate Germany with a sparkling wine but Henkell Trocken is surprisingly good—though a bit on the sweet side for some, and comes out well on price and quality against these two French sparklings.

French Champagnes3 French Champagne-page-001

It’s only Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region, and these two are long-time favourites, and a good price for the real deal.

Take-out-a-mortgage French Champagnes

4 Mortgage Champagnes-page-001A quiet word with your bank manager might in order before you buy a few cases of either of these! Ab Fab spent a long time sipping Bolli, and that was just the Brut! Go up a couple of levels to Bolli Spectre Vintage 2009 and it will make hole in your wallet—though nowhere near the size of the hole this 1996 Dom Perignon Vintage will make!

Quirky Wine Things

A follow me bring wine on EtsySeriously serious thongs (or flip-flops depending where you’re from). Make a statement every time you walk on the beach—you never know—you might get a few surprises at your door.

A wine glass holder from AmazonHow many times have we put our glass down and forgotten about it … well, you’ll never lose your glass again with this gift!

A Santa pants wine bottle carrier from AmazonChristmas Party? Awesome! Give the gift of Christmas with a Santa Pants bottle carrier.

A winestopperusbAn extra USB always comes in handy!

And don’t forget … Have a Sparkling Christmas!

 

Birds in The Nest at Gundaroo!

Everybody needs a little bit of luxury in their life, so when I heard about The Nest in Gundaroo I couldn’t wait to check it out. By Aine Dowling

Photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

Photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

The Nest is a brand new boutique, luxury accommodation of five unique villas on the main street of Gundaroo. Managed by mother and daughter team Sylvia Gleeson and Lana Mitchell, The Nest accepted its first guests on Friday 11 December after a two-year build. Each villa (or nest if you prefer) is slightly different, but all are designed with comfort for the traveller in mind.

Up front is the entrance and reception, with a large open space that is available for rent to a local business and would make a perfect art/design collective. The five villas are at the rear of the property and there is ample parking at the front as well as each villa. Three villas are studio style and two are double storey with the bedroom in the loft. All villas include a king size bed and two have an extra day-bed. All have a lounge and dining area, kitchen with full size fridge, hotplates and microwave, full bathroom facilities, ceiling fans, and wood burning fires to keep you snuggly warm in winter.

Photo by Lindi Heap - courtesy The Nest

Photo by Lindi Heap – courtesy The Nest

The villas have been furnished by 1825 Interiors and have an authentic country look and feel.

The Nest team approached the Gundaroo community for feedback before the build and according to Sylvia the community was overwhelmingly in favour of the boutique development. “We were thrilled that the community got behind us when we put our ideas up,” says Sylvia, “and since then they’ve been very enthusiastic about the accommodation. We invited them to an open day and red ribbon cutting by the Mayor of Yass before we opened, and the feedback on the villas was very positive.”

Heron bedroom - photo by LFW

Heron bedroom – photo by LFW

Heron bathroom. Photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

Heron bathroom. Photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

Heron has been designed as a honeymoon, anniversary or special occasion suite, with full dressing area off the bedroom (to accommodate gowns and tuxedos), king size bed with lots of plump pillows and cushions, bathroom with double bath and shower, and full length verandah on which to sip your pre-dinner drinks or bubbly. The Heron sleeps two people.

Cockatoo has disabled and wheelchair access and facilities and includes king size bed and day-bed (sleeping up to three people), kitchen, bathroom, lounge and dining.

Cockatoo lounge area - photo by LFW

Cockatoo lounge area – photo by LFW

Magpie sleeps two people in its king size bed, and has big soft and squishy lounges to relax in, kitchen, dining, country bathroom, and verandah.

Magpie country bathroom - photo by LFW

Magpie country bathroom – photo by LFW

Rosella and Kestrel are the loft villas with the bedroom upstairs. The Rosella also includes a day-bed and sleeps up to three people. Both villas have the same amenities with king size beds, kitchens, bathrooms, and lovely seating areas.

Rosella - photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

Rosella – photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

The Nest opened in early December and is already fully booked over the Christmas period. “We have award winning restaurants and cafés in Gundaroo,” says Sylvia, “including Grazing and Cork St Café pizzas, and both do function menus so are ideal for weddings, and special birthdays, events, and public holidays. We’ve already had enquiries from people who have booked small events and celebrations in Gundaroo and don’t want to drive home so they’re choosing to stay here and make their event even more special. The villas are perfect for a bridal party to prepare for the wedding, and one of our villas is set up especially as wedding/honeymoon suite and is perfect for the bride and groom on their wedding night.”

Kestrel - photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

Kestrel – photo by Lindi Heap courtesy The Nest

Accommodation can also include continental or cook-it-yourself breakfast. Tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer, and TV are included, and cots, high chairs and wifi are available.

Check out their website and find them on Facebook.

The Nest entrance - photo by LFW

The Nest entrance – photo by LFW

Just a Trifling Christmas!

It’s that time of year again when we all think about what dessert will decorate your Christmas table, and there’s plenty to choose from. By Aine Dowling

Individual Caramel Pecan Cheesecake trifles from www.hoosierhomemade.com

Individual Caramel Pecan Cheesecake trifles from http://www.hoosierhomemade.com

For most of this year we’ve focussed on Eating Healthy but what the heck … it’s Christmas, and if you can’t spoil yourself a bit at this time of year, when can you!

Amazing croquembouche trifle from www.delicious.com.au

Amazing croquembouche trifle from http://www.delicious.com.au

Last Christmas LFW ran a vote between the traditional Christmas cake, pavlova, trifle, and gingerbread houses, and the trifle won hands down! So this year we’ve been seeking out something a wee bit different and found some totally amazing trifles. Check out our faves and click the link for the recipes.

Meringue strawberry liqueur trifle from http://www.womanandhome.com/

Meringue strawberry liqueur trifle from http://www.womanandhome.com/

And finally …

Individual key lime cheesecake trifles from

Individual key lime cheesecake trifles from http://www.hoosierhomemade.com

And you can find our basic trifle recipe here. What’s your favourite? Share with us.

 

 

 

CARDIF—there’s a new kid in town!

Wendy Johnson checks out CARDIF, and CARDIF Collective, a brand new initiative for Canberra designers.

Chris in the studio - photo by Martin Ollman

Chris in the studio – photo by Martin Ollman

When Chris Lloyd was young she knew creative veins ran through her body. She was fascinated by design and never hesitated to create fashion for herself, family and friends. She loved being surrounded by fabric, thread and scissors and her soul was always satisfied by the sweet sounds of her sewing machine.

Although passionate, Chris’s dream to be a designer was put on hold as she pursued a professional career in the public service and as an independent contractor. Such is life.

But after 20 long years, Chris has hauled her sewing machine out of storage and is starting her own fashion label—Minimum. If that isn’t exciting enough, Chris, and her husband David Traylen, have started CARDIF, Canberra and Region Designers in Fashion, which will open officially in early 2016.

Fashion fun at CARDIF - Photo by Martin Ollman

Fashion fun at CARDIF – Photo by Martin Ollman

CARDIF is occupying an amazingly large space overlooking Green Square, Kingston, and providing centrally located, light-filled studio and retail space to selected fashion designers to help them realise their aspirations. It’s fitting that CARDIF is in Kingston, one of Canberra’s first commercial centres. It occupies 685m² space on Level 1 of the Cusack Centre.

“In looking for space for Minimum I quickly realised that rent can be super expensive,” says Chris. “But more than that, it can be lonely working on your own and creatives need to be inspired, share, learn and connect. It’s all important to the creative process.”

When Chris and David stumbled across the space they decided to take the plunge knowing that a lot of blood, sweat and tears would be needed to transform it, especially since it had sat empty for eons. Twelve individual studios will be available, as will a common area including two large cutting tables, storage, racking, a lounge and kitchen facilities. A pattern maker and machinist will be on site and available to designers on a fee-for-service basis.

Fireworks hat by Cynthia Jones-Bryson. Photo by designer, model Alice Anderson

Fireworks hat by Cynthia Jones-Bryson. Photo provided by designer, model Alice Anderson

CARDIF, a not-for-profit, also runs CARDIF Collective, the retail side of the operation. The designers occupying studios will sell to the public through the collective, as will other members of CARDIF.

Although there’s still a massive amount of work needed to finish the space, CARDIF Collective is hosting its first pop-up celebrating Christmas and giving visitors a chance to say hello, so from 12 to 22 December, close to 30 creatives will have Australian jewellery, fashion, millinery, accessories, homewares, accessories, and more, on show and for sale. “It’s a bit of a test run so not all the creatives involved in the pop-up shop are official members of CARDIF, but that’s not a worry at this stage,” says Chris. “The aim is to give visitors a chance to see the space and say hello.”

Designer Edwina Woods - photo by Martin Ollman

Designer Edwina Woods – photo by Martin Ollman

Several designers have already signed up to CARDIF studio space. Edwina Woods has already moved in, soon to be followed by Chris with her label Minimum and Cynthia Jones-Bryson, who has just won the coveted Crown Oakes Day Invitation Only Myer Millinery Award for her headpiece inspired by fireworks.

“CARDIF will become a centre of excellence and support fashion designers to grow and develop,” says Chris. “The idea is to provide affordable, long-term creative and retail space for designers, both established and emerging, who have a desire to make their brand commercially accessible and who want to connect direct with customers.”

Internal space at CARDIF Collective - photo by Martin Ollman

Internal space at CARDIF Collective – photo by Martin Ollman

Workspaces range in size from approximately 10 m2 up to 28 m2.  Design studios can be rented by one designer or shared. A second call for applications will take place early in 2016 (designers can express interest at any time by email).

 

For more information on the CARDIF Collective Christmas pop-up—times and a list of designers—head to www.cardifcollective.com.au and for more information on CARDIF, visit www.cardifact.com.au

You Little Devil!

Devilled eggs are making a comeback! Just in time for the party finger food season. By Emma Dowling.

We’ve been making devilled eggs for years and tend to stick to a fairly basic recipe, but this time we thought we’d introduce something a little more exciting, so we travelled the world to add some excitement to your eggs. So here’s our basic recipe, plus a few fancies! 

boil-eggWe use the Delia Smith method to boil our eggs. This doyen of cooking uses this super easy method that turns out the perfect boiled egg every time, and it all depends on how long leave you leave the eggs on the hotplate. Just put your eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, cover with warm (tepid) water and bring to the boil. Then turn off the heat and leave on the hotplate for the required time. For a soft boiled egg leave it until the water stops bubbling. For a hard boiled egg leave for up to 15 minutes. Obviously, it doesn’t work with a gas burner, so if you have gas cooking just do what you usually do.

Basic Devilled Eggs (makes 12)devilled eggs

What you need: 6 large eggs, 1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise (use light if you prefer, but a good quality whole egg mayo will give a creamier taste), salt and pepper to taste, and finely chopped parsley to garnish

What you do: Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan. Cover with warm water and bring to the boil. When bubbling vigorously, cover, turn off the heat, and leave on the hotplate for 15 minutes. Run under cold water and allow to cool. Shell eggs, cut in half lengthways, and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and mash well until creamy. Spoon back into the egg white hollow and garnish with parsley

French Stuffed Eggs

French stuffed eggsAdd a bit of je ne sais quoi to your party eggs with French Stuffed eggs. These are served warm in France and will be a real treat at your next gathering. Take the basic recipe and add ½ cup finely chopped reduced-fat ham (optional), 1 tablespoon finely chopped green end of shallots (spring onion), 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 slices of bread (regular or GF), Extra Virgin cooking oil spray

What you do: Cover a baking tray with baking paper and set aside. Cook the eggs as the basic recipe and place the yolks in a bowl. Add the ham, shallots, parsley, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, mix well and spoon back into egg whites. Place the bread in a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Top each egg with the breadcrumbs and coat lightly with the cooking oil spray. Heat the grill and place the eggs on the baking paper. Grill for 1 minute until the breadcrumbs are brown and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Indian Devilled Eggs

Indian eggsSpice up your life, and your eggs, with Indian Devilled eggs—even better served on a bed of rice! Using the basic recipe and add 1 clove finely chopped garlic, ¼ teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot, salt, pepper, and curry powder to taste.

What you do: Follow the basic recipe and scoop the egg yolks into a bowl adding salt and pepper to taste—do not add the mayo at this point. Heat olive oil in a frypan and sauté the cumin seeds and chopped garlic until garlic is lightly brown—do not overcook. Add the mixture to the egg yolks and then gradually add the mayonnaise mixing all the time. Be careful adding the mayo—a little at a time, as if the mixture is too soft it will not sit properly in the egg white—better to add less than too much. Spoon the mixture back into the egg whites and set on a bed of cooked rice on a serving dish. Sprinkle with curry powder and chopped shallots.

Kick-Ass Indian Devilled Eggs

For kick-ass eggs substitute the cumin seeds and garlic for ½ teaspoon garam masala and 1 finely chopped green chilli. No need for the cooking in this recipe—just add the mayonnaise, garam masala and chilli to the egg yolks and mix well. Bon Appetite!

Moroccan Eggs

moroccan devilled eggsServe up the mystique of the souks and bazaars with this recipe from North Africa. To the basic recipe add 2 – 3 tablespoons of harissa*, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (or half and half smoked paprika and chipotle powder), ½ tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, salt to taste, and chopped almonds for garnish. *Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chilli paste widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Recipes vary but it usually includes a blend of hot chilli peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices such as cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Tomatoes and rose petals are also common ingredients.

What you do: Follow the basic recipe and place the egg yolks in a bowl. Add mayonnaise, harissa, olive oil, paprika, and salt and mix well. Spoon back into the egg whites and sprinkle with chopped almonds.

And finally! Mexican (and Australian) Guacamole Devilled Eggs!

guacamole-deviled-egg

Made with our own home-grown Aussie avocados, these eggs combine the basic recipe with a yummy guacamole instead of mayonnaise.

What you do: Make the basic recipe and place the yolks in a bowl. Make up the guacamole using 1 whole large Haas avocado, I slice onion (finely chopped), 1 small red chilli (finely chopped), and 1 teaspoon Lite sour cream (optional), and mix well. Combine the egg yolks with the guacamole until smooth and scoop into the egg whites. Decorate each with a sprig of coriander. Ole!

Cooking Thai 101 – the essentials!

Cooking Thai 101 banner

Here at LFW we love, love, love Thai food—it’s fresh, simple, and über tasty; so on our recent visit we booked into the Silom Thai Cooking School and learnt how to cook up a storm! By Aine Dowling

Cooking schoolWe met up with our class, and teacher ‘Awesome Jay’ (yes, that’s his name), at a local market to select our veggies and herbs for the day. The market is an assault on the senses—from the aroma of herbs and spices, through textures of the fruits and vegetables, to the burst of colours with bright red and green chillies, and summer yellow mangoes and bananas which smell absolutely divine!

Selecting veggies and herbs at the market

Selecting veggies and herbs at the market

Awesome Jay lived up to his name. He had the honour of representing Thailand on MasterChef Singapore and he is a terrific chef! He’s funny and really knows about cooking Thai. In all the dishes we were given the option of adding our own chilli, or not, if we didn’t like spicy food. Jay’s chillies had four rankings: 1 chilli = chilli taste, 2 chillies = hot chilli, 3 chillies = rumbling volcano, and 4 chillies (you really have to be able to cope with the heat to try this) = KAMBOOM!

Our first task was to create our own coconut milk by pouring warm water onto fresh shredded coconut and squeezing it through a sieve. There were eight of us in the class and we had to make enough for two of the dishes and the dessert. We also made our own green curry paste from scratch and we all had to take a turn at pounding the large mortar and pestle to grind the chilli and spices, and learnt a new way to squeeze limes!  Our individual cooking stations included a gas burner, a wok and utensils, and a serving plate. After each dish we moved to small dining tables to eat and comment on the food.

Chillies. Image by LFW

Chillies. Image by LFW

Cooking Thai 101 is the first in a series of our trip to Thailand, and we’ll be posting some recipes and pics in a later blog, but one thing we did learn are the 10 must haves for good Thai cooking so we’ll start with getting these into your kitchen before we do the recipes.

Ten Thai kitchen basics with Awesome Jay!

Awesome Jay explaining spices

Awesome Jay explaining spices

 

Cooking Oil: Vegetable oil such as corn, palm kernel, and sunflower is used in all Thai cooking. Other oils may have a more defined taste and aroma that may affect the final product.

Thai Fish Sauce: known in Thai as nam pla, this seasoning is made from fermenting fish with salt. It should contain only anchovies, salt and water and it’s very strong and salty so use it sparingly! It’s essential in only some dishes.

Thai Curry Paste: even in Thailand many cooks buy (and use) premade curry pastes. Red and green varieties can be found at well-stocked Asian supermarkets and should include galangal, lemongrass, and coriander root. Obviously green is made with green chillies, and red with red chillies.

 

 

Coconut Milk: used in Thai curries, fresh coconut milk is made by rinsing the oils out of coconut flesh with warm water and squeezing out the milk. Canned coconut milk is an easy option and widely available from supermarkets.

Rice: sticky rice, also called glutinous rice, is the staple in north and northeast Thailand and is often used in desserts. Jasmine rice is a staple in much of the country.

Chillies: fresh and dried chillies provide heat in Thai food. Fresh cayenne chilies are used in curries, and fiery-hot Thai bird chillies in sauces and stir-fries. Fresh chillies will keep in the fridge for up to a week or you can store in the freezer.

Limes: give a tart lift to grilled meats, salads and fried rice. Kaffir lime leaves are mostly used to give a floral, citrusy aroma to curries and soups.

Shallots and Garlic: Shallots (spring onions) are chopped and often used to decorate dishes or added to salads to provide a bit of crunch and bite. Garlic is crushed or minced and then tossed into hot oil with the other spices and before the stir-fry ingredients.

Lemongrass: is included in many Thai dishes and used only for flavour—not for eating.

Fresh Herbs: including cilantro (coriander), mint, Thai basil, and Vietnamese coriander add distinctive flavours to everything from salads to curries to fried rice. Thai basil has a nice sweet anise flavour but can be hard to find so substitute regular basil.

Watch this space for more to come!

Cooking Thai 101 banner