Iced tea, apple cake and the lovely Emiko Davies – workshop recap

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Emiko Davies is a true Renaissance woman (fitting then that she lives in Florence hey!); she is a intuitive cook, an excellent food writer, photographer, artist and Mum. She has a background in fine arts, knows her way around Florence’s galleries and churches like nobodys business and has an infectious, thoughtful passion for sharing stories, recipes and images celebrating her adopted home of Tuscany. A couple of weeks ago, during her trip to Australia promoting her second book Aquacotta (more on this in a bit), she spent a night and day in Orange and we co-hosted a workshop together.

The venue was Josie Chapman’s Old Convent in Borenore – one of the loveliest places in the Central West. Or Australia really. And we spent a day with 15 others, drinking coffee, photographing, styling and sharing beautiful food. Here below are some photos and recipes from the day.

And if you are interested in joining me in a workshop this year, please find more info at the bottom of this post.

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We started the day with biscotti (all recipes from Aquacotta), piccolo lattes and a big tray of freshly picked chardonnay and merlot grapes to nibble on (thank you See Saw wines). And right about here I will say that Emiko’s book Aquacotta is truly one of the loveliest cookbooks I’ve ever come across; from the tones and colours, to the stunning dappled photography, the stories, the people and of course the recipes – this is the best kind of cookbook. It takes you somewhere new and special and teaches you all about it. Then it gives recipe after recipe of clear, beautifully photographed and unique recipes to create yourself. Thank you for putting this out there Emiko!

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Then we drove 10 minutes to Hillside Harvest Orchard to pick new season apples and have iced vanilla and peach tea and ricotta tarts among the fig trees. As you do. Hillside is just 10 minutes out of Orange and such a lovely place to go and stock up on seasonal fruit, vegetables, locally produced eggs, dairy produce and heaps more. Plus you can grab a coffee and piece of apple pie from their brand new, beautiful shop.

We wanted our group to get some experience shooting outside, in dappled light (which Emiko uses so beautifully in her photography) and to pick some apples for the apple cake we were heading home to make. The tarts above were made to a recipe from Aquacotta and can be found on Emiko’s blog; here.

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Vanilla, peach and mint iced tea

4 tbsp green tea leaves or 6 green tea bags
1 tbsp ginger, roughly chopped
6 cups boiling water
2 cups vanilla syrup (combine one part sugar to four parts water and one vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped into the mixture. Heat until the sugar dissolves, leaving the vanilla pod in the mix)
2 peaches or nectarines
1 handful mint leaves

Combine the tea, ginger and boiling water in a large jug and leave to brew for five minutes. Discard tea leaves or bags, pour in the vanilla syrup and vanilla pod and place in the fridge to cool. When ready to serve, check the flavour – is it too strong or too sweet or not sweet enough? Add more water or sugar syrup to taste.

Transfer to a large serving jug, add in loads of ice, the sliced pear and mint and pour!

Emiko workshop collage

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Back at the Old Convent, Emiko talked us through her process for creating, writing and shooting a recipe, using the below apple and jam cake as an example.

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Torta di mele e marmellata (apple and jam cake)

250g butter
250g sugar
Zest of one lemon
4 eggs, at room temperature
250g plain flour
1 apple, cored, peeled and diced
3 tbsp apricot jam

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a 11 x 26cm loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar together with the lemon zest until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. Once all the eggs are in, beat continuously until very, very pale and fluffy. This takes about 7 minutes with electric beaters.

Fold in the flour carefully until it is just combined, Pour into the loaf tin, drop in the diced apple and use a butter knife to swirl through the mixture gently to distribute. smooth over the top, then dollop the jam down the middle of the cake. Using a (clean!) knife, pointing vertically down about 2-3cm into the batter, swirl the jam in a zigzag pattern.

Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until golden on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the jam on top begins to look like it’s darkening or cooking too quickly you can cover the cake loosely with some foil.

Serve in thick slices. When wrapped in plastic and kept in the fridge it will stay moist and fresh for 3-4 days.

Recipe reproduced with author’s permission, from Aquacotta, published by Hardie Grant.

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Lunch was a feast of terrine, braised fennel with polenta and salad greens finished with a German plum cake and cream – all dished up by the crazy clever Josie Chapman. Her food always have the flavour volume turned up high and it was such a treat for me not to be cooking but actually to sit and enjoy the meal! We returned to the studio for more photography and styling sessions then finished up with a chat about all things photography and social media. Pretty much my perfect day!

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My Open Kitchen Workshops

All workshops are held in Orange, NSW (about four hours west of Sydney), and generally run on Fridays so people can come up and make it a long weekend in our beautiful part of the world. They are one-day events and my aim is that people come along to learn, be inspired and have a creatively nourishing day at a stunning location, sharing great food with like minded people.

Please note, bookings for these workshops will open for enrolled students in the My Open Kitchen e-course on March 8 and for everyone else at 9am on March 20. If you have any questions at all about this, please send me an email; sophie_hansen(@)! Thank you, Sophie

June 23, How to write, test, style and photograph your own recipes with Anneka Manning

Join Anneka Manning, me, Sophie Hansen and Pip Farquharson for a day of food writing, styling and photography. Anneka has 27 years experience writing and editing recipes, has written four best-selling books and I can’t think of a better, more generous or experienced person to teach this workshop. Our location is the beautiful Old Convent here in Orange, and we’ll start the day with morning tea then a session on how to evolve your own ideas and kitchen experiments into recipes that are clear, easy to follow and work a treat. Anneka will demonstrate the process of turning an idea into a recipe that works. Then we’ll break for lunch together and come back for an afternoon session on how to style and photograph your creations so people will be compelled to make them too! We’ll finish with afternoon tea and a chat by the fire about how to share your photos and words on social media or blogs and how to get them noticed.
Location – The Old Convent
Date and time – June 23, 10am-3,30pm
Cost – $300pp, includes morning tea, afternoon tea, lunch, all day workshop and notes.

July 14, Food and farm photography and storytelling with Luisa Brimble and Sophie Hansen

Luisa Brimble is one of Australia’s most talented photographers and one of our favourite things about her is how she uses her powers of photography for good – she loves telling the stories behind the food she shoots and the places she goes, and is coming to Orange for one day to inspire and teach us how to do the same. We will visit a local farm, shoot ‘in situ’ with Luisa’s guidance all the way. Then we’ll bring some produce back to the Old Convent where Sophie and Luisa will work with the group on setting up a few scenes to style and shoot together. We’ll also share morning tea, a beautiful lunch and a glass or two of Prosecco to finish the day.

Location – The Old Convent
Date and time – July 14, 10am-3,30pm
Cost – $300pp, includes morning tea, afternoon tea, lunch, all day workshop and notes. 10-3,30pm

August 25, Visual storytelling through iphonography with Fliss Dodd

Stylist, ceramist and photographer Fliss Dodd has been weaving words and photos together on Instagram since the platform first took off, and through her beautiful images has built a 74k + plus following. In this workshop Fliss will show you how to style and shoot beautiful food and lifestyle on your smart phone. And if you are a maker, producer or retailer, we encourage you to bring your own goodies along too so you can practice shooting with us, using our props and backgrounds and advice, so you go home with a whole load of fresh product shots in your library. We will work with local produce, Sophie will make some good things to eat, shoot and share and Fliss will show us how to build up flat lay scenes, and share her advice experience on how to snap and share photos on Instagram that will get people excited about you and your story. We will drink tea, share a delicious lunch and talk about Instagram, building community and how to find your voice and style. 10-3pm $300

Location – The Old Convent
Date and time – July 14, 10am-3,30pm
Cost – $300pp, includes morning tea, afternoon tea, lunch, all day workshop and notes. 10-3,30pm

September 2, Baking, photography and styling workshop with Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Spend a day with the lovely Julia as we bake, style and photograph cakes from Julia Busittil Nishimura (aka[email protected] to her 22k + Instagram fans) brand new book, visit a local farm to collect fresh eggs, enjoy a fireside lunch together and talk social media, community building and many more good things.

Location – The Old Convent
Date and time – September 2, 10am-3,30pm
Cost – $300pp, includes morning tea, afternoon tea, lunch, all day workshop and notes.

September 22, Spring writing and photography workshop with Annabelle Hickson and Victoria Carey

Editor-in-Chief of Country Style magazine and writer, photographer, stylist and Country Style columnist Annabelle Hickson are coming to Orange for one day to join me in hosting a very special Spring workshop at the Old Convent. We will have a session on how to bring words and images together to tell compelling stories for your blog, Instagram feed or newsletters. We will style and shoot some beautiful Spring scenes, we will share a beautiful lunch of local produce and talk all things social media, magazine writing and storytelling.

Location – The Old Convent
Date and time – September 22, 10am-3,30pm
Cost – $350pp, includes morning tea, afternoon tea, lunch, all day workshop and notes.




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