the design hunter - shopshoot

27 Mar 2013

The Design Hunter is my local 'go to' store whenever I need a special gift. The store is located in Charing Cross just up the road from the lab that does my film scanning.

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The shop is housed in a gorgeous old building complete with the original marble topped fireplace and is just chockful of beautiful things.

What's in the store? Think lots of organic shapes and items sourced from nature.

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I admit to having a bit of a thing for lighting so I just love the 'Enoki Cumulus' lamp.

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I recognised some of the designs carried in the shop, like the Hayden Youlley paper series ceramics.

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The artworks strewn around the floors and walls were just covetable. I love the emerald green ginger jar.

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The original lead-light shop windows.

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One of my favourite vignettes. I love everything about it even thought I'm not much of a pink girl. I especially love the leather Acapulco chair.

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A view of the store and another Enoki lamp.

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The front window display featuring the Bright Beads pendant light.

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2016 - I hope you enjoyed my visit to the Design Hunter. The Design Hunter has moved across the road to a new store at 316 Bronte Rd, Charing Cross, phone 02 9369 3322. If you can't make it to the store, they have an online store which can be found here.  

Many thanks to Melissa for allowing me to shoot her shop.

I hope you all have a safe and Happy Easter. I'll see you all again next week

Bye for now,


pesach white chocolate fig pecan cookies

25 Mar 2013

How did Passover sneak up on me like that? Last Friday I suddenly realised Passover was on my doorstep and went straight out to buy chicken to make chicken soup with matzo balls. No time to do a Passover baking extravaganza like last year but I had time to renovate one recipe and I decided to make some cookies to put in the biscuit tin.

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Using my baking mix of equal quantities of superfine matzo meal and potato flour (starch) instead of flour, I whipped up these tasty little morsels. I checked online and in my local supermarket to ensure all the ingredients could be used during Passover.

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The cookie dough is quite soft and needs to rest for an hour in the fridge. I think it helps the matzo flour to absorb the egg.

I waited just long enough for these to cool before pouring myself a cup of tea, taking a few photos and devouring my stunt cookie (that's the one I crumble for effect). Actually I ate two. Honestly these cookies don't taste as though they're made from the bread of affliction. They're more crisp than regular cookies but as I don't like chewy cookies, I don't think that's a bad thing at all.

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Here's the recipe for you.
printable recipe

Passover White Chocolate Fig and Pecan Cookies

100 grams unsalted butter, softened
45 grams brown sugar
45 grams caster sugar
1 egg, beaten

50 gm superfine matzo meal 
50 gm potato flour
75 grams toasted pecans, roughly chopped
60 grams white chocolate, cut into chunks
60 grams dried figs, coarsely chopped.

In a small bowl combine the matzo meal and the potato flour to make the baking mix.

Cream the butter and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the egg. Stir the baking mix into the butter mixture then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before scooping out the dough into approximately 25 gram balls.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Place the balls onto a tray lined with baking paper and space well apart as they will spread. Flatten each cookie slightly before baking at 180ºC/350ºF for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Makes about 25 cookies.

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See you all again on Wednesday so I can share a lovely shopshoot with you.

P.s Thanks to Holly at decor8 for featuring my walnut cookies with dulche de leche filling. You can read the story and get the recipe here.

Bye for now,



in the garden - dungog

20 Mar 2013

I spent last weekend in Dungog staying with Farmer Andrew. I always take a wander around his garden and spend some time with the chicken ladies.


There's a rhythm to the garden and this time the roses, dahlias and zinnias were in full bloom. I took the opportunity to make a little posy of flowers from the garden.

The agapanthus had been and gone but I love the sculptural shape of the dead blossoms.


We went for a drive to the local farm shop to collect milk, where I spied this piece of artwork.


I was given the task of collecting the day's eggs. Here are the chicken ladies and some of their hard work.


I baked all weekend using their fresh eggs and in the next coming weeks I'll share those goodies with you.

See you all next week with another shopshoot. 

Bye for now,



chocolate and coffee brulee tarts

18 Mar 2013

A few weeks ago I was having dinner with a friend in Woollahra at my new favourite restaurant, Chiswick. We watched one of the dessert chefs hard at work bruleeing a Bombe Alaska and I suddenly remembered the unused blowtorch I had hiding away in my cupboard. I went home and decided I needed to make something that needed a blowtorch ASAP. This is what I came up with.

chocolate coffee brulee tarts

I had some leftover chocolate pastry in the freezer so I used that to make the tartlet shells.

I didn't have a recipe for the filling so I adapted a chocolate custard filling I'd used before.

chocolate coffee brulee tarts

I tried out the blowtorch with both fear and trepidation. I managed not to melt anything and I still have my eyebrows and eye lashes so I count that as a success. The brulee tart had a satisfying crack when I tapped it with a spoon and that lovely slightly burnt sugar taste. It didn't have quite the coffee hit I expected so I've slightly increased the amount of coffee in the recipe.

chocolate coffee brulee tarts

Here's the recipe for you.

Chocolate Coffee Brulee Tarts (makes 12)

Chocolate Pastry
225 grams plain flour
25 grams cocoa powder
125 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
85 grams caster sugar
1 egg

Place the flour, cocoa, butter and sugar in a food processor and mix until you get crumbs. Add the egg and mix again until a dough starts to form around the blade. Take the dough out of the food processor and bring together into a ball.
Wrap the dough in paper or plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. You'll only need half the dough for the tarts so place the leftover dough in the freezer and use another time.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F). Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tray. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface then roll with a rolling pin until 3-4mm thick. Cut into twelve 10 cm circles using a cutter and use the pastry to line the muffin tin. Trim the excess dough neatly around the edges and place a cupcake liner and baking beans/ceramic weights into each tart shell. 

Place the muffin tin onto a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes before carefully removing the weights and the paper. Return the tartlet shells to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the tart shells are dry, crisp and very lightly coloured. 

Reduce oven temperature to 150˚C (300˚F) and place the muffin tin onto a cooling rack while you prepare the filling.
Chocolate Coffee Custard Filling
3 eggs
90 grams caster sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
250 mls (1 cup) cream
125 mls (½ cup) milk
1-2 tsp espresso powder or to taste
extra caster sugar to serve

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the sugar and the vanilla. Heat the cream, milk and the coffee powder in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the coffee dissolves. Reduce the heat to low. Pour the coffee mixture into the bowl containing the egg mixture and stir well then return to the saucepan and heat for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't allow the mixture to boil.

Place the muffin tin back on the baking tray. Strain the custard mixture through a fine sieve into a jug then carefully pour into the prepared tart shells. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the custard is barely set and still has a wobble in it.

Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack and allow the tarts to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing them from the tray. Allow the tart shells to completely cool.

Just before serving, cover the top of the tarts with an even layer of caster sugar and using a blow torch, caramelise the sugar or place under a hot grill.

Serve immediately.

chocolate coffee brulee tarts

Time for me to go. I'll be back on Wednesday with some photos from my visit to Dungog.

See you then,


paddington reservoir gardens - a sydney wander

13 Mar 2013

A few weeks ago I was watching Gardening Australia and the programme featured the Reservoir Gardens in the Sydney suburb of Paddington. I've lived in Sydney's eastern suburbs for more than 20 years and even though I've driven past the site many times, I had no idea what was hidden behind the big white wall. I decided as soon as I had some free time I was going to investigate.

paddington reservoir gardens

The gardens are obviously known to locals as a few people were down there reading or having lunch and a yoga class was in full swing.

paddington reservoir gardens

As they're below ground,you enter the gardens by a flight of stairs, or there is ramp or lift access. The impression once you arrive, is a little as I'd always imagined the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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There is a serene reflection pool, grass trees and banksias, all lush and verdant.

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As you know I love gardens and distressed buildings so I loved what I saw.

paddington reservoir gardens

The reflection pool was my favourite feature of the garden, far removed from the hustle and bustle of busy Oxford Street.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens can be found on the corner of Oxford Street and Oatley Road, Paddington Sydney.

I hope you enjoyed this week's Sydney wander. I'm off to see Farmer Andrew and will probably return with some photos of 'the girls'.

See you all next week,


chocolate brownie cookies with dulce de leche

11 Mar 2013

Last week when I did my grocery shopping, chocolate bars were on special so I loaded them into my basket. My basket was filled with butter, sugar, cream, eggs and blocks of chocolate. I can assure you it not's true, but the checkout operator must think that's all I eat.

chocolate brownie cookies with dulce de leche filling

I made some dulce de leche a few weeks ago for another recipe and the jar has been languishing in my fridge ever since. I found this recipe for chocolate brownie cookies in an old Donna Hay magazine and decided to make the cookies but to sandwich them together with the dulce de leche.

chocolate brownie cookies with dulce de leche filling

I'm not sure if I'm the only one, but I often have problems with recipes from the magazine. The batter was really runny so I refrigerated it for 30 minutes before scooping it out with my cookie scoop. I think an extra tablespoon or so of flour in the recipe wouldn't go astray.

I followed the recipe exactly and waited for the cookies to cool before dusting them with cocoa powder and filling them with lashings of dulce de leche which I topped with a few flakes of sea salt.

chocolate brownie cookies with dulce de leche filling

The cookies are nice and moist and fudgy but if there's a next time, I'd reduce the sugar in the brownie recipe. I'd forgotten how sweet dulce de leche is and as the cookies themselves are very sweet, the combination of the cookies with the filling is a bit of a sugar overload.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. I'll be back again on Wednesday with another Sydney wander, 

so see you all then,


dragonfly floral design shopshoot

6 Mar 2013

Last week I was driving through Bondi Junction when I spied some French wine crates outside Dragonfly Floral Design. I can't tell you how many times I've driven past the shop but I've never gone inside. This time, I parked the car and went inside to take a look. The shop was so pretty I sent an email to Lisa, who owns the shop, asking if I could come over to take some photos of her store. Lisa very kindly said 'yes' so last week I dropped by with my camera.

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So what's inside the store?

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The shop is part flower shop and part gift shop and it both looks and smells just gorgeous.

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The shop has lots of beautiful items thoughtfully arranged in vignettes.

Do you spy something you'd like to take home with you 'cos I sure did?

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How's this for a pop of colour? 

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Some details for you.

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A few more photos of those wine crates that first drew me into the store.

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Thanks once again to Lisa for allowing me to shoot her shop. You can find Dragonfly Floral Design at 105 Newland Street Bondi Junction.

2016 edit - the shop has closed for business but the floral design service continues.

See you all again next week.


plum, chocolate and pistachio tart

4 Mar 2013

I bake most weekends and this past weekend I planned to make cookies but somehow I ended up making this very elaborate plum, chocolate and pistachio tart. Go figure?

m chocolate and pistachio tart

Plums are still available in the shops so I adapted this recipe for chocolate pear and hazelnut tart using plums instead of the pears and pistachios instead of hazelnuts.  

m chocolate and pistachio tart

I made the pastry in the morning and finished baking the tart later in the afternoon. The pastry makes a generous amount so I'm still working out ways to use the leftovers.

m chocolate and pistachio tart

After the tart comes out of the oven it's nice to glaze it with some apricot jam, just to pretty it up a little before serving.

The tart would be delicious served with a big dollop of cream.

plum chocolate and pistachio tart

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from The Popina Book of Baking by Isidora Popovic.

Makes 8-12 slices

1 Chocolate Shortcrust recipe
1 Sponge Dough recipe
3- 4 plums halved and stoned
20 g unsalted pistachios roughly chopped and lightly roasted in a dry frying pan
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons apricot jam
Cream, to serve
A 35 x 10 cm loose bottom rectangular fluted tart tin, greased

Chocolate Shortcrust recipe
225g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
85g caster sugar
1 egg

Place the flour, cocoa, butter and sugar in a food processor and blitz until you get crumbs. Add the egg and mix again until the dough starts to gather around the blade. Take the dough out of the food processor and bring together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap or kitchen paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  

As this is a sticky dough, I rolled the dough out on lightly floured greaseproof paper until it was 3-4 mm thick. Line the tart tin with the chocolate shortcrust pastry and trim the excess dough neatly around the edges. Refrigerate the tart shell while you make the filling. I used about ⅔ of the dough for this tart. Any leftovers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer.

Sponge Dough recipe
30g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
60g plain flour

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with electric beaters to combine. Mix in the egg and baking powder, then gently fold in the flour by hand until evenly combined.

Chocolate and pistachio cream
75g dark chocolate, finely chopped
45g milk chocolate, finely chopped
125 ml cream
25 g shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped and lightly roasted in a dry frying pan

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Cover the cut side of the plums with the 2 tablespoons caster sugar. Put to one side while you make the chocolate cream.

Put the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan and gently bring to a boil over low heat, stirring frequently. Pour into the mixing bowl containing the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted then add the pistachios. Gently fold the sponge dough into the chocolate mixture and mix well.

Remove the tart shell from the fridge and pour in the chocolate and pistachio cream. Arrange the plums on the top of the tart filling. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. I started checking if the tart was cooked at the 30 minute mark. To check if it’s ready, insert a skewer into the centre of the tart – if it comes out clean you can take it out of the oven, if not, leave it in the oven for a few more minutes. Allow the tart to cool on a wire rack. 

Before serving, put the apricot jam in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted and runny. Brush the jam over the tart with a pastry brush. Sprinkle over the remaining chopped pistachios and leave for a few minutes before serving.

plum chocolate and pistachio tart

I guess I'll be baking those cookies next weekend. See you all again on Wednesday with a Shopshoot.

Bye for now,

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