Tag Archives: caramel

Love belly ’13


Another year, another Valentine’s day, another chance to talk about love and seduction.  A couple of hours away from floods and destruction and bad news maybe.  And with a bit of love, and chocolate, all the hard stuff is easier to deal with anyway.

This year we are starting with lots of chocolate, with Sarah Wheeler from Puremelt Chocolate, then seasonal love and gratitude with Miss February, Alison Drover, and music, sweets and the love goddess herself, Aphrodite, with Ilias Katsapouikidis.  And of course music, markets, the belly bulletin including what lucky foods to eat for the Year of the Snake, and tasty courses at Byron College.


PUREMELT CHOCOLATES are available at various local markets, including the Mullumbimby farmers market every Friday.  Sarah is one of the few chocolatiers who makes her chocolate from scratch rather than from bought chocolate drops.  She uses many local ingredients and is constantly experimenting.  If you’d like to do your own experiments, she also sells chocolate making kits online, and teaches occasional classes.  Contact her here.




Herbs not only help us but heal us as well…

Fenugreek seeds: Saponins which can be found in fenugreek seeds play a role in increasing the production of testosterone, the male hormones, which, in turn, causes the raise in male libido.

Cardamom: These green wonders increase energy and relieve fatigue, and help you rock your love making process.

Clove: They heat up the body and maybe that’s what increases the hotness quotient on bed!

Fennel: Saunf, as they are called in Hindi, contain an estrogen-like substance (estirol) that turns out libido. So careful before you grab a handful of it at a restaurant after dinner.

Ginseng: It helps improve male erectile dysfunction (ED)

Saffron: There’s a reason why old Hindi films had saasumas forcing bahus to add saffron to the milk on the first night. And you thought it was just for a fair child!

Nutmeg: It’s one of the most popular natural aphrodisiacs. Research proves that nutmeg has the same effect on mating behavior as Viagra. Sprinkle some in your kheer for a dirty night!

Cloves: They boost your energy levels. They also have one of the best aromatherapy scents that help improve your sexual behaviour.

Garlic: Eating green chilies with garlic is an old (tried and tested) way of enjoying sex for a longer period. Peel off its top layers, crush cloves and then fry in butter, and your partner is ready to be a nutter!

Ginger: Garlic’s ‘g’ brother helps you tingle the ‘G’ spot with ease. It increases sex drive and stimulates sexual performance.





2 Tbsp fresh ginger, microplaned

1 Tbsp garlic, pressed

2 tsp cardamom seeds, ground

6 star anise,ground

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp salt (we actually forgot to add the salt, but it hardly needed it)

1/4 tsp turmeric

8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin removed


1 small red onion, diced

4 bay leaves, fresh or dried

2 cinnamon sticks

2 Tbsp coriander, chopped

8 oz baby spinach (optional)

yogurt or heavy cream (optional)

Combine the ginger, garlic, cardamom, cayenne, star anise, salt and turmeric and smear the resulting paste over the chicken pieces. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Heat a few spoonfuls of oil in a large skillet with a well-fitting lid. Add the onion, chicken, bay and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the chicken has browned, about 20 minutes.

Add a cup of water, scrape the pan bottom to deglaze it, bring to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook gently about 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Stir in the coriander.

Remove the chicken to a platter and boil down the sauce in the pan until it thickens a bit. Toss in a pile of spinach leaves to wilt, if you like, and perhaps a half cup or so of plain yogurt or cream. Serve the greens and sauce with the chicken legs and some steamed basmati rice.





Short crust pastry

250g flour
60g sugar
180g butter


225g sugar
80g cream
70g butter

Chocolate mousse

200g couveture choc
4x eggs separated
185g cream
40g caster sugar

Chocolate ganache

165g couveture chocolate
60g cream
40g butter

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl by hand and then add the cubed chilled butter. Mix until you have a breadcrumb texture and then add 40g of chilled water and mix until combined. Roll into a disc, wrap with glad wrap and rest in the fridge for 1/2 hour

Per heat oven 190c

Roll out the pastry and line a 26cm tart shell. Rest again for half hour in fridge. Line with baking paper and weights. Bake for 20 min, remove paper and weights and bake for another 8-10 min. Cool on a rack

To make caramel combine 250g water and sugar and cook on high heat in a saucepan until a golden caramel forms. Them add the cream and sugar off the heat ( careful mix will spit ) stir to combine and pour into pastry case. Chill in the fridge to set

To make mousse melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, cool and add egg yolks stirring to combine. Whisk cream to soft peaks and set aside. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks and them add the 40g of sugar and keep whisking till combined. Fold 1/2 the egg whites on the choc mix to lighten it then the cream and then the rest of the egg whites taken care to preserve as much air as possible in the mix. Spoon over the caramel and smooth the top flush with the edges and chill.

To make ganache melt chocolate and cream in a Bain Marie and stir lovingly to avoid aerating the mix until combined and then add the butter off the heat. Clean the bottom of the bowl of any steam and cool. Then add the ganache while still fluid to top the top and smooth it with a pallette knife :^)

Rest until set and use a warm knife to cut portions

Serve it with vanilla ice cream


Or for an  exciting taste sensation:




500g milk

6x yolks

25g sugar

Pinch salt

8x drops Tabasco sauce

Small pinch cayenne pepper

300g Brie wheel from Nimbin Valley Dairy ( cut minimal crust off and slice onto thin slivers)


Heat milk in a saucepan

Whisk yolks, sugar & salt until pale yellow

When milk is just below boil add half to the yolk mix whilst whisking. Pour back into the saucepan and put on a low heat to thicken the custard whilst continually stirring the bottom with a wooden spoon until 80deg c on a thermometer.

Take off the heat, add the cheese and whisk until the cheese melts. Strain through a sieve and then pour into an ice cream maker and churn.

Enjoy this local delight as a palate cleanser, with rich desserts or eat it as is :^D





The price of a cup of tea could rise after the world’s biggest producers agreed to join forces . Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi and Rwanda produce more than 50% of the world’s tea. They have announced the formation of the International Tea Producers’ Forum. Initially they will focus on sharing knowledge and boosting demand for tea to raise prices. Sri Lanka’s Plantations Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said in future they may try methods such as supply controls to increase tea prices. At the moment the global tea price is around $US2.5 a kilo, down from about $2.84 a year ago. In 1994 Sri Lanka unsuccessfully proposed a tea cartel similar to OPEC, the crude oil cartel.


Supermarket company Coles said last week that its discount milk prices are not to blame for cuts to farm gate prices for dairy farmers, at least in Victoria.

A south-west Victorian dairy farmers’ group, Farmer Power, along with south-east South Australian farmers, protested outside Warrnambool’s major supermarkets earlier this month. It is partly blaming the sale of milk at Coles and Woolworths of $1 a litre for lower dairy prices at the farm gate. However, Jim Cooper of Coles says farmers are more influenced by the global market and only 8 per cent of fresh milk produced in Victoria is sold in the state. “We understand that dairy farmers might see the milk on the shelf as the most visible sort of aspect of their business but the reality is that’s not what drives the farm gate price that they’re receiving.” he said.


Last month we mentioned that beef burgers in a UK supermarket had consumers worried after they were found to contain horsemeat. It looks like the source is one large plant in Ireland, which has now also affected the fast food chain Burger King in Europe. Small amounts of horse and pig DNA were found in Burger King beef burgers. They have now changed suppliers The Irish Silvercrest burger plant, one of the biggest in Europe, is closed for cleaning and a change in management. It appears that the meat came from one of their Polish suppliers.


CHOICE, the consumer advocacy group, is proposing reforms to simplify country of origin labelling in Australia, after a survey of its members found that 90% of respondents said country of origin labelling is unclear. “When choosing food, consumers tell us that knowing where it comes from is an important issue – second only to information on the ingredients it contains,” says CHOICE food policy advisor Angela McDougall. How important origin is varies by type of food. Respondents placed the most importance on primary produce such as meat and vegetables, followed by foods like dairy and bread. Origin was least important for highly processed foods like soft drinks and sweets.

To help shoppers, Choice is calling for labelling to be simplified to three claims:

‘Product of Australia’ and ‘Manufactured in Australia’ – claims about where the ingredients are from and where they are processed

‘Packaged in Australia’ – a basic claim to accommodate products which by law have to carry an origin declaration

Under CHOICE’s proposal, the claim ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ would not be permitted. If manufacturers want to provide additional information, they should specify where any specific ingredient originates.


The Chinese year of the Black Female Water Snake starts today, New Years day is on Sunday February 10, and it’s time to eat those lucky foods, just in case. Uncut noodles, for represent longevity and long life. Melon, sunflower or pumpkin seeds if you’d like lots of children. Anything that looks like ancient money or gold ingots, like slices of sausage, dried apricots, cashews, dumplings or anything wrapped in leaves. Peaches will give you immortality, bananas a good education, & carrots money. Pumpkins will give you illustrious children – you have been warned. Bean sprouts bring you anything your heart desires. Whole animals & coconuts keep the family together. But stay away from white foods. You are supposed to clean the house & sweep the bad luck away. Red underpants also help apparently, especially if the snake is your birth year, to protect you & bring you luck. Kung Hei Fat Choy!


MORE COMING SOON :  Sarah’s brownies


Gay Bilson & Francisco Smoje

On air on Bayfm 99.9 Community radio, Byron Bay, on 23 July 2012



Gay Bilson

Today we start a month-long banquet of writers on belly with Gay Bilson, a woman who says she was a late bloomer in gastronomical matters, and attempted to retire early.  Somehow she has managed to run two legendary places in the history of Australian restaurants.  First with then husband Tony Bilson at Tony’s Bon Gout in the ’70s, haunt of politicians, gourmets and other reprobates; then for 18 years as owner and restaurateur  at Berowra Waters Inn on the Hawkesbury river, where the journey, the building, the place were as memorable as the wonderful food.  And then at that little known spot, the Sydney Opera House, at the Bennelong restaurant.  However, at a previous Byron Bay Writers Festival she has said that she has always wanted to write a book – restaurants were just a “25 year glitch”  With “Plenty – Digressions on Food” (Penguin, 2004),  she turned out a book that is very beautiful both as an object and for the writing.  It is one of my favourite books on food, and won a bunch of awards including the Age book of the year.  One of the many passions that shines out of “Plenty” is Gay’s love of reading.

Her latest book is “On Digestion”, part of Melbourne University Publishing’s “Little Books on Big Themes” series.   The Writers’ Centre tells me Gay’s titles are out of print, but you can find them at our local library, which even has an interesting little book on Australia’s culinary history: “Acquired Tastes”, with a contribution by Gay.

This year as well as appearing on Writers Festival panels, she is running a workshop titled : “What we talk about when we talk about food”, on Tuesday 31 July.

“What is it we are addressing when we write about food? What should we be addressing? What do you want to address? What words best serve your purpose?

If food is a shared material, economic and cultural concern for all people, then we need food journalism to include serious and informed writing about food security, food waste, food pricing, food distribution, food and health, and, especially, agriculture and all that agriculture entails – climate, soil, labour, the uses to which land is put.”  (Workshop description from festival site, click on link for more) i

One thing that is missing from the workshop info – very important – Gay would like all participants to bring something to eat together, and has promised to bring something she has made.

Gay Bilson “has been a frequent contributor to The Monthly and continues to write for Australian Book Review. Her essays have been published in Voracious (Hardie Grant, 2011) and Island magazine, University of Tasmania, 2012.  She is now a local, having recently moved to Bangalow.” (from the festival site)

So today on belly Sister T  talked about food writing with Gay Bilson, a woman who notices the sound of charcoal and the sandwiches of fictional detectives, a collector of fallen nests and beautiful bowls, a mailer of soup and maker of tripe tablecloths.

And we had fun having a good old growl about the lack of respect given to people and writers who are interested in food.  If you meet Gay at the festival, it might be an idea not to call her a ‘foodie’.

If you are going to that great feast of thinking, talking, reading and writing that is the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, you can catch Gay Bilson on:

Friday 9am – “collectables : the bounty of our desires”

Saturday 12.30pm – “real food”

Sunday 2.15pm – “nests”

For more information on 2012 Byron Bay Writers Festival authors, tune in to bayfm and listen to to Karena on Arts Canvass,  on air Thursdays 9 to 11.  Every week until the festival, she will be doing interviews at 10.20 am.  And subscribe before the end of July to go in a draw for 2 lots of 3 day festival passes.

This week on Arts Canvass Karina is talking to:

Alex Miller – ‘Autumn Laing’

Arnold Zable – ‘Violin Lessons’

Ailsa Piper – ‘Sinning across Spain’

Jonathon Parsons – Byron Writers Fest Director

Dev Lengel – Byron Writers Fest Sculpture Show




And then we are off to the beautiful Coorabell Hall, saved by a bunch of heroic music and life lovers for all sorts of interesting events, and currently hosting a mini-series (only 3 so far) of POP UP DINNERS by Argentinian Chef Francisco Smoje.  The pop up restaurant is a relatively new concept that has already been abused and misused in the big cities, but pretty new around here, and this looks like the real deal.  Francisco says :

“I might give people a hint of which produce I will use found in a friends gardens or local markets. You don’t have to go through the intellectual process of choosing what you are going to eat. Everyone on the table has the same flavours in their mouth. Its one of the things I love most, it’s like going to a friends house, but you never call your friend and ask ‘hey what are you cooking for me?’ you just go and relax and enjoy what they have prepared.”

“When people come to my dinners, it’s usually only my partner Emma and myself that work the floor. The food is shared on the table, we never change the plates till desert and people really respond to this.”

“I like the fact that everyone comes at the same time and eats at the same time as if they were one group of friends. Everyone has the same sensations with the food at the same time. It’s not like going to a restaurant when you’re at one table having a starter and your first glass of wine and you’re all loud and next to you is a couple that’s having a desert and want to talk mellow. Here it’s like everyone goes onto a roller-coaster at the same time and experiences similar things, and I think that’s really special.”

Today on belly we will talk about the fun and the challenges of doing a pop up restaurant, and as many of Francisco’s adventures as we can fit in, from his Argentinian childhood, to exploring the 3-hat restaurants of Australia at 21, to his North Coast experiences with growers and food producers (I especially want to hear about the Mullumbimby butcher), and providing tasty food and eye candy as a movie caterer.

Francisco’s Table opens at Coorabell Hall on the following Sundays the 15th July (yes already gone), 5th August and 26th August.  [Francisco has now decided to do the dinners about every 3 weeks for a while, maybe with some guest chefs in future].

To book & more info see here

And if you are on facebook, details and an olive recipe : www.facebook.com/FranciscosTable

Here is a chorizo and sweet potato recipe.

And Francisco has promised us a panna cotta recipe, very popular at the first pop up dinner.

Here it is now – enjoy.



By Francisco Smoje


[note : you need to start the day before you want to serve this]



1 L cream

1 vanilla pod

10 cardamom pods

120 gm sugar

4 gelatin sheets



1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mandarin juice


For panna cotta – crack cardamom pods and cut vanilla pod lengthways, place in a pot with cream and sugar, simmer for 15 minues for flavours to infuse being careful of not boiling.

Soak gelatin in cold water, strain cream, squeeze gelatin and mix into strained cream until dissolved.

Cool mix by placing in a bowl on top of ice water and stir with wooden spoon.

Place into moulds and refrigerate overnight.

For caramel – place water and sugar in a small pot, boil until caramel stage (about 8 minutes) quickly add mandarin juice and reduce temperature and simmer until caramel coats back of a spoon.  Let caramel cool down.

To serve run a knife carefully around panna cotta and submerge panna cotta mould in a bit of hot water for 10 seconds or so to help unmould. Place in a bowl and spoon over some of the caramel.  If desired you can add a sprinkle of roasted almond flakes.





In the bulletin today just a big ‘congratulations’ to local legend Helena Norberg-Hodge, filmmaker  and food activist, for winning the Japan based Goi Peace Award.  She is the first woman and the first bellysister to win the award, given for her “pioneering work in the new economy movement to promote a more sustainable and equitable world”. The citation reads in part, “Through your outreach and educational activities advocating for localization, you have contributed to the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide.”  More about Helena here



Thanks to Gay Bilson for bringing us music from one of her favourite composers, Dmitri Shostakovich

Prelude & Fugue no 3 in G major, and Prelude no 1 in C major, pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva

Koechlin, Evening Song, pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska

Astor Piazzolla, Marron Y Azul and Contrastes

Fulana, Encerrada en la Ciudad

Gotan Project, El Capitalismo Foraneo


love and chocolate covered mandarins, sister T

seedsavers 2005 Byron Bay feast

Seedsavers is a wonderful organisation started in Byron Bay by Jude and Michel Fanton, in a suburban house and (bare) garden.  Seedsavers now has projects around the world, supporting biodiversity and traditional farmers and home gardeners too.

And occasionally they have wonderful get-togethers in their garden (which now is a paradise of food plants from all over the world),  talk and share wisdom and of course cook and eat.  In 2005 sister T watched this being cooked over an open fire – right in Byron Bay, not on a small tropical island.

Solomon Fast Food! – Roots in Fire with Johnson of the Solomon Islands

Bamboo (we used Dendrocalamus latiflorus) cut between 2 nodes approx 45cm long
Cut up any root crops eg. Taro, cassava, yam, sweet potato, … & place in bamboo tubes according to type of root (don’t mix) & stuff open end with banana leaves.
Put bamboo in fire flames & cook, turning often, until bamboo is black
Transfer bamboo tubes to fire’s embers & wait until the tubes steam & smell cooked.
Bamboo wall thickness affects cooking times – thinner bamboo walls means the roots cook more quickly & different root crops take different times to cook
approx. 40mins on average.

Fish in Palm Leaf with Atai of East Timor

Make a fire and let it burn down to the coals.
Take: Any fresh fish
Herbs, eg. Fennel
Salad: Lettuce, garlic & tomato
Stones that are hot from the fire
Put all in one parcel made of a big banana leaf & tie together.
Put on top of embers & cover with stones & more whole banana leaves for one to one and a half hours.

Fish Wing Parcel with Atai

Big fish wings marinaded in bush lime juice for 1/2 hour, garlic, onion, pepper, (curry powder can also be added), Lemon Grass, Salt, (Finely chopped Chilli can also be added)
Put all ingredients in Banana Palm Leaves & stitch up using palm fronds along the sides of the parcels.
Put parcels on the fire’s hot coals & cook for half to one hour.

And there were more good things from the Fanton kitchen, which is a hungry alchemist’s dream  of jars filled with strange preserved things – all from the garden of course.

Pickled Bamboo by Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

Dendrocalamus latiflorus & Bambusa oldhamii (which can grow in cool climates eg. NZ)
Harvest in hot months
Cut longitudinally then peel off husks
Boil 20mins (if still bitter then pour off & reboil)
Pickle in strong brine
LATER: Slice & soak to remove salt
Lime juice, fish sauce
Lemon, lime juice lemongrass Kaffir LIme leaves & young cinnamon leaves (+palm sugar or something to sweeten if desired)
Leave to marinate.

Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia) by Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

“The Yacón is a perennial plant grown in the Andes for its crisp, sweet-tasting tubers. The texture and flavour have been described as a cross between a fresh apple and watermelon which is why it is sometimes referred to as the apple of the earth.” Thank you wikipedia!
Slice then marinade half an  hour or so in orange, lime or mandarin juice

Curry Powder

In heavy frypan, put coriander, cumin and  fennel seeds and dry roast.
Warm some mustard seeds towards the end.
Chilli if desired.

And it must have been lima bean season…

Lima Beans can be cooked in the following three ways:

Lemon/Lime Lima (Madagascar) Beans with Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

Fresh Madagascar Lima Beans (if green don’t need to soak ie. If they’re just been picked from vine. If dried, soak and boil until soft)
Add any citrus and any oil and any herbs (for example, you could use chervil)


To make hommus, mix cooked lima beans with tahini and any citrus.

Fried Lima Beans

Soak and then boil lima beans until soft (with no salt) and then drain.
Refry with onion, garlic and curry powder (see above recipe).

And to finish, after all that healthy home-made vegetarian goodness,  a healthy home made cake!

Johnson’s Birthday Cake

( also an excellent all-round cake mix) from Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

2 eggs – separates yolks from whites and beat egg whites with sugar
Add some liquid such as coconut milk, orange juice or any citrus
Could put some butter or oil in.
Add any dry ingredients, such as millet flour, wheat flour, linseed or almond meal plus a teaspoon of a raising agent, such as cake raising mix (1 teaspoon to every cup of flour)
Mix everything together and bake in a moderate oven.

Yummy Caramel Cake Topping from Mara of  Puerto Rico

Mix together 1 – 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of lime/ lemon/ orange in a pan on the stove top and stir until sugar dissolves but don’t caramelise it (ie. Remove before it darkens)
At that point of caramelisation, add cream until it’s a bit runny.
You can also add a bit more citrus so it doesn’t harden too much.
Then mix cocoa from the seed and mix with macadamia, cardamon and cinnamon in a mortar and pestle.
Sprinkle over cake and caramel topping – bon appetit!

But wait there’s more recipes!  Maybe this was the next day – they have fun on those Seedsavers conferences.

Pigeon Peas by Rob

Soak pigeon peas overnight in hot or boiling water and then drain off.
In a pan, fry some onions, curry powder, garlic, ginger.
Add soya sauce to deglaze (ie. To get the caramel off the pan).
Add hot water, bay leaf and thyme.
Cook for 1/2 hour on stove.

Chilli Guacamole (Guacamole Picante) by Pablo of Argentina

3 soft avocados, 5-6 cherry tomatoes, a little spoon of coriander, 1 chilli, 1/2 an onion, and juice of half an orange or lemon, pinch of salt, 3 soup spoons of olive oil.
Mix all ingredients in the blender to make a paste.

Golden Oven Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes (Papas Doradas) by Pablo of Argentina

Cut potatoes into cubes and put in a pan with olive oil and a little salt
Place in a hot oven of 230 – 250 degrees Celsius
Leave for approx. 45 mins
For sweet potato do the same as for potato and cook for 20 minutes.

BBQ Leg of Lamb (Pierna de Oveja Asada) by Pablo of Argentina

Can’t get any simpler than this…
Cook leg of lamb with sprinkled salt on bbq.

Green Salad (Ensalada Verde) by Pablo of Argentina

Lettuce, onions, fennel bulb with olive oil and salt.

Aussie Fish Cakes by June

Fresh fish (or tinned, eg. Mackerel, Salmon, or Fish Cutlets)
Mashed Potato (double the quantity of the fish)
1 egg
1 small onion
herbs (e.g. Parsley, thyme & oregano)

cook & mash potatoes
mix all ingredients together
make into patties
roll in flour
shallow fry for approx. 5 minutes on each side

Not enough?  Here‘s a link to another feast (this a recent one in India)