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Newsletter 45 – France & Basque: The Food Issue

Stephanie eating oysters

I am back after a month of eating, drinking, reflecting on travel and life, and immersing myself in several very different French landscapes (and a moment in Spain) and sharing the experience with a like-minded friend, chef Annie Smithers of du fermier (whom I proudly acknowledge as an apprentice way back in time).

First up, a summary of the great food experiences with a few words to give the meal a sense of place, in chronological order, not order of excellence. 

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Nine delicious savoury tarts & pies

Savoury Pie Recipes by Stephanie AlexanderPies and tarts are the ultimate in comfort food:  nothing quite beats a buttery, flaky pastry with a tasty filling. Conveniently served warm or cold, pies and tarts are easily transported and therefore work well as picnic offerings or take-along meals. Serve a wedge with salad for a light lunch, or make individual pies for passing around at a party: fabulous one-handed food!

Turning leftovers into a pie or tart is also a wonderful way to give last night’s dinner a new life. Learn a basic pastry recipe (see Pastry – Shortcrust in the Cook’s Companion) and suddenly the possibilities are endless.

Here are nine recipes and ideas for delicious savoury tarts and pies.



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Six lemon recipes for a laden lemon tree

Ideas for using lemonsWith a lemon tree taking pride of place in so many Australian gardens, it is often a question of how to use the fruit. On backyard trees the fruit hang obligingly for weeks, with the heaviest crops occurring in late winter and spring.  Lemon has so many uses: as a tenderiser, flavour enhancer, and preserver of colour in other fruit and vegetables. It is a refreshing source of acidity in drinks and a major ingredient in cakes, tarts, biscuits and creams. Lemon is mandatory with seafood, either squeezed on top or as the basis of a sauce. The zest can be used to make syrups in which to poach other fruit, and lemon peel can also be candied for a delicious after-dinner treat.

If your backyard lemon tree is heaving with fruit, here are six lemon recipes for making the most of your citrus bounty!



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Newsletter 44 – Winter

flowers-pomegranates Well it is cold but what glorious winter days we have been having. Sunlight has streamed in my windows. I have taken to sitting upstairs using my MacBook Air rather than the desktop computer in my downstairs office so as to enjoy the longer views. I had a lovely gift parcel from the Sicilianos at Rose Creek Estate. The first oil pressed for the season – deep-green and powerful – sweet mandarins, tamarillos that I have poached, some finger limes, bottles of wine made by son Angelo and two glorious pomegranates. The pomegranates were so rosy-red I arranged them next to my weekly flowers as they perfectly complemented my deep-red lilies and magnolia leaves.


Newsletter 43 – Farewell autumn

Crepe myrtle

What a glorious autumn it has been in Melbourne. The trees have been magnificent, including my own two crepe myrtles. They are just three years old and this was the first year they displayed such magnificent foliage. It has all gone now and I am resigned to a few months of bare boughs, which have their own beauty. As I drive around suburban streets the vistas of golden and russet leaves are just so beautiful. And the autumn air seems soft and the evenings darken much earlier. I invested in remotely-controlled blinds and I have been so pleased with the new skyscapes I can see from my bed with just a flick of the remote. The sculptural trunks of the giant gums that dominate my near view can just be glimpsed, but the tracery of leaves against the early morning sky is a daily joy.