Tuesday 29 March 2011

oysters w lime caviar

I love Sydney rock oysters. They taste so much better than the huge Pacific oysters.

Don’t get me wrong, if you gave me a dozen Pacifics I’d be a happy gal, but the rock oysters are simply sublime.

So why not match the native Sydney rocks to another native ingredient? Finger limes!

The beautifully coloured caviar looks wonderful and the tangy flavour is a perfect acidic accompaniment to the creamy rock oysters.

If you want more info on finger limes, try these two cocktail recipes.

Thanks again to Fred and Janet Durham at the Australian Finger Lime Company who generously gave me these finger limes.

Oysters w Lime Caviar & Black Pepper

12 Sydney rock oysters
Caviar of 2 finger limes
Black pepper, to taste
Squeeze of regular lime juice
Drop or two of oil (avocado, sesame, olive)

1. Combine all the ingredients except the oysters into a bowl and mix to combine.
2. Top your oyster and enjoy!

This ticks off a 2011 Food Challenge to use more native ingredients.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

dark chocolate ice cream

It’s a month away from Easter and I’m getting excited because all the stores are filling up with chocolate eggs and goodies.

It’s no big secret that I’m a huge Lindt chocolate fan, and I was lucky enough to be invited down to the flagship Martin Place Café to try out their new Easter-edition delice (macaron): Hot Cross Delice!

Can you believe it? A hot cross bun macaron, and they taste just as perfect as you imagine.

The shell is a light and crisp almond macaron flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. The white chocolate ganache inside has a rich buttery flavour.

The concept behind it was to recreate the flavours of a spicy hot cross bun smothered in butter, and they did it well. It’s the best macaron I’ve had in a long time.

Lindt Australia is running their Gold Bunny Hunt again this year, starting today (March 22nd) and closing on April 7th. Players get points by answering daily clues and playing games, and the 10 highest scoring Bunny Hunters travel to Sydney for the final event: a chance to win $20,000!

If I wasn’t a Lindt ambassador, I’d be joining up in a heartbeat.

And as a special Easter treat, I’m sharing this gorgeous dark chocolate ice cream with you.

Jonas begged me to make this ice cream. He accused me of making “weird” flavours and demanded that I finally make him something “normal”.

What’s wrong with lavender-honey ice cream, crème fraiche parfait, mastic ice cream or mulled wine granita?

OK. So chocolate ice cream it is.

But oh what an ice cream this turned out to be. My best yet and intense with dark chocolate flavour.

Even though this is my recipe, if you love ice cream and don’t have David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, then drop everything and hit Amazon right now. It costs a mere USD$16 and is worth every little cent. Best ice cream cookbook EVER.

Wouldn’t this ice cream go wonderfully with the Hot Cross Delice?

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Anna’s recipe. Makes 500ml.

1 cup (250ml) milk
1 cup (250ml) cream
3 egg yolks (freeze the whites for another use)
50g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate, very finely chopped (I used Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa)

1. Bring milk and cream almost to the boil.

2. In another bowl, whisk egg and sugar until thick and pale.

3. Gradually add milk to egg mixture, whisking continually until combined.

4. Return to saucepan and stir continuously over low heat until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil!

5. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until mixture is smooth.

6. Cool to room temperature then freeze according to ice cream machine manufacturer’s instructions.

Sunday 20 March 2011

tuscan chicken

Audrey Gordon’s Tuscan Summer

This cookbook is a riot.

A group of Aussie comedians, known as Working Dog, have invented this hilarious celebrity chef Audrey Gordon to take the piss out of our obsession with chefs, cooking and all things food!

There have been so many cooking shows, cookbooks and reality rat races on TV these days. People are a little cooked out.

Now there’s Audrey Gordon, an invented caricature combining the funniest aspects of Nigella, Gordon, Delia and Jamie into one delicious satire.

They’ve created a resume and accolades for Audrey, including her time as lifestyles editor of Implausible Homes magazine or her three year reign as “Britain’s Sternest Chef”. She’s even got her own website.

They have really lavished a lot of time and attention into this book with daily diary entries by Audrey, quotes, tips on etiquette and cultural reflections. It chock-full of content to laugh over.

And the 60 recipes are real, and tasty.

I came home from work and Jonas, who had been chuckling away at the book during his day off, had decided to give it a test run.

The results were superb.

Pollo alla Toscana (Tuscan Chicken)

Recipe from Audrey Gordon’s Tuscan Summer. Serves 2.

1 x 900g chicken, preferably corn fed
1 large lemon
60ml EVOO
8 sliced prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 good handfuls fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
4 large potatoes, quarteed
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven and a roasting tray to 220’C. Wash the chicken inside and out and pat dry with kitchen towel.

2. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the breast meat, being careful not to rip the skin. Slice the lemon and work the slices under the skin over each breast. Smooth the skin back in place and wipe the chicken dry.

3. Rub 2 tablespoons of olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper over the bird. Really massage it in, paying particular attention to the back, shoulders and other common areas of tension.

4. Push the prosciutto, garlic and thyme into the cavity and put your chicken on the hot roasting tray and into the oven for 20 minutes.

5. While the chicken is cooking, parboil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes and drain. Add the potatoes to the roasting tray and continue to roast for 40 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200’C and cook for a further 15 minutes.

6. To tell whether the chicken is done, insert a skewer into one of the thighs. If the juices run clear, then it’s ready to eat. If you detect blood either the chicken is under-cooked or you’ve stabbed yourself.

7. Remove the chicken to a heated platter and cover loosely with foil. The potatoes may require a further 10 minutes in the oven for crisping.

Audrey’s tip:
If you can’t find proper prosciutto at your local shops. You can use ordinary bacon or perhaps consider moving to a better suburb.

Anna’s tip:
If you don’t want to do a whole chicken, choose drumsticks or thighs with the skin still attached.

The book is published by Hardie Grant (who sent me a copy to check out, thanks!) and Australians will know Working Dog as the people behind classic Aussie films like The Dish and The Castle, or the TV shows Thank God You’re Here and The Panel.

If you want a little taste of the tongue in cheek humour this book delivers, you can watch YouTube clips of the lady herself whipping up a tiramisu (below) or cooking pasta with prosciutto.

Watch out Nigella!

Saturday 12 March 2011

finger lime & elderflower gin fizz

Jonas is giving me a hard time about not blogging enough.

He’s right, but it’s hard at the moment because I’m really busy with TWO intensive writing projects and an exciting recipe project that all suck my time and energy like a black hole.

It will be worth it in the end, but for now my blogging might be a little infrequent and I hope you’ll bear with me. I will be back to full time in April.

But something I just can’t wait to talk to you about is the crazily massive box of finger limes I received from Fred and Janet Durham at the Australian Finger Lime Company.

I have written about finger limes before, but for the uninitiated these gorgeous little beauties are native to Australia and therefore a food source to the Australian Aboriginal people for thousands of years.

European settlers weren’t so bright, and cleared so much land for cattle grazing that they almost wiped out these amazing citrus fruits. Luckily some trees remained in National Parks and people like the Durhams have been able to resurrect the numbers to turn them into a viable commercial crop.

If you ever have a chance to taste a finger lime, do not hesitate. You will be amazed.

When you cut a finger lime, the tightly bound cells of citrus burst out like caviar. They come in very pretty colours like vivid pink, electric yellow and bright green. Perfect for delicious, decorative touches on both sweet and savoury dishes.

The generous box the Durhams gave to me was so big I had to freeze some for later, but that’s fine since the limes retain the perfect caviar interior even after freezing. It makes them perfect fruit to stock up on during their short season, then freeze and enjoy throughout the year.

I love finger limes mixed into gin drinks, but you could easily put them into custards and creams, use where you would have used lime or lemon juice or zest, make them into jam or curd like this company (they ship internationally).

This recipe is close to my heart because, like the Glögg Summer Punch I made at Christmas last year, it’s another marriage of Sweden and Australia, just like my husband and I.

It also ticks off a 2011 Food Challenge to use more native ingredients.

Finger Lime & Elderflower Gin Fizz

Anna's very own recipe. Makes 1.

2 parts gin
1 part finger lime syrup (see below)
½ part elderflower syrup
1 tablespoon finger lime caviar
Soda water

1. Fill a shaker with ice, then add the gin, finger lime syrup, elderflower syrup and finger lime caviar. Shake it like a polaroid picture.
2. Pour into an ice filled tumbler, top with soda water.
3. Stir and serve.

Finger Lime Syrup

Anna's very own recipe. Makes approx. 350ml.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup finger lime caviar (approx. 4 large limes)

1. Bring the sugar, lime caviar and water to the boil, then stir to dissolve all sugar.
2. Reduce to a simmer and bubble away for around 5-10 minutes until reduced to your preferred thickness.
3. Remove from heat, bring to room temperature and then chill.
Note: Use as a cordial with soda, in a cocktail or drizzled over yoghurt or ice cream.

This, with finger limes as the theme ingredient, is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen.

For other exciting finger lime recipes, check out these:

Finger Lime Caviar Butter
Finger Lime Martini
Finger Lime Vinaigrette
Lemon & Finger Lime Curd
Mango, Finger Lime & Coconut Cream
Malaysian Finger Lime & Chicken Curry
No-Cook Finger Lime Tart
Sardines w Tomato Purée & Finger Lime
Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese on Rye w Finger Limes
Tuna Tartare w Avocado & Finger Lime

Friday 11 March 2011

what's in a name? a lesson in blogging identity

I think I have only ever used this blog to rant once or twice. But now I need to share a story that is relevant to all bloggers of all genres.

I wrote this piece about a month ago and then I sat on it, trying to decide whether I would or should post it. Clearly, I have decided it's something important enough for me to share.

So, what’s in a blog name?
An awful lot.

Especially when other people benefit from the brand profile you have built, innocently or not.

I started my blog back in 2006. Since then I have built up a regular following of kind, wonderful readers (many who lurk without commenting, but my stats show me you’re there).

Through my blog I have found friends from all over the world.

When I attend events or eat at restaurants I am ecstatic to find readers hidden among strangers and foodies. It’s a source of pleasure and pride for me to learn I have influenced a chef, inspired someone to try something new or helped someone cook a winning meal.

I’m not claiming to be one of the top blogs in Australia, nor one of the most famous, but I have certainly invested a lot of time and effort into building my “brand” which is synonymous with my blog name, Morsels & Musings.

My achievements over the past 6 years are now resulting in great opportunities and paid writing gigs on a subject I’m truly passionate about: gastronomy.

It’s a dream come true and Morsels &Musings has led me here.

And now I feel distressed that someone might possibly steal this identity away from me, even if it’s unintentional.

In the last 6 months I have been dismayed to discover two Australian food blogs with names that people have easily confused with mine.

In June 2010, Musings and Morsels arrived on the scene. They are an Australian-based duo covering both food and film.

Then in September 2010, Morsels & Musings (YES! my exact blog name) was started up by another Sydneysider to blog about food.

Same name.
Same ampersand.
Same blogging platform.
Same city.
Blogging about food too.

At first I felt shocked, and then angry.

Then I questioned whether I had a right to be angry.
And I decided, I did.

When I started my own blog, I googled the name I wanted to use to check whether anyone else out there had anything remotely similar. No one did, at the time.

Did either of these people do that?
Surely one of them has done that since?

If they did/have they would have found my blog!

Surely then they would have questioned whether they should use the same/very similar name as an existing, well-established Australian food blog? Especially if they were going to create their own Australian food blog!

Didn’t they care that they’d be competing? (SEOs?)
Possibly plagiarising? (originality?)
Perhaps offending?

If they were writing about another topic then maybe I could have shrugged it off, but they are both food blogs! In Australia!

It’s sickening to have people use my blog’s identity, something I have poured my heart and soul into over the years.

I’ve had content ripped off before, and photos stolen without crediting, but while that’s unfair and annoying it’s not the same as someone using my blog’s identity. That’s a much deeper breach.

For instance, Musings and Morsels is on its way to being a good food blog and has become quite active. There are some lovely photos and interesting recipes. I would have liked this blog if they hadn’t used my name.

Already I have received emails and messages from fellow bloggers and PR agencies confused as to which blog is my blog. They are looking for me and finding them. They are getting comments/messages from them and thinking it’s me.

What if the authors of the other two blogs are offered opportunities based on the brand and goodwill I have generated? What if they write or do something that others somehow negatively attribute to me?

I have to think the best of people and assume that both blogs’ authors meant no harm and just blundered along unwittingly, or didn’t think things through.

But that doesn’t change the fact that now there are three Aussie food blogs out there, all bearing similar names and that I, as the most established and recognised blog, certainly have the most to lose.

This problem is certainly poignant to every blogger but, short of taking legal action, there’s not much I can do about this situation.

It’s upsetting and disappointing, and even if it’s not illegal (which it isn’t) it breaches all blog etiquettes and basic common decency.

So what would be the best outcome now?

Well frankly the only real resolution is for the two newcomers to pick some new names that are original and unique to them. Not only would it reduce confusion around the profile that I’ve built for the past 6yrs but it would allow these blogs to grow and find their own special place in the sun.

But in the end, that’s up to them.

Thanks for taking the time to hear me out on how this experience has made me feel.

Your continued support to Morsels & Musings will always be appreciated.
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