Have food and wine. Will travel.
After a year of cancelled plans, lockdowns and limited opportunities to collaborate, celebrate and create with friends beyond the immediate boundaries of our hometown – we didn’t have to be asked twice by Heidi to join her and her sister for a photo shoot at their hometown to celebrate all the different things we were/are doing.
I LOVE a collaborative photo shoot. I love pooling talents and passions and businesses to create content we can all share in our own ways. And this one was such a delight. Let me introduce you to the key players;
Heidi – Chief driver of the whole thing, Heidi is the woman behind Castleden Co, a small collective of craftswomen based in Boroowa NSW, creating handmade fashion that I wear and love and love. Her pieces just make you feel great, we’re all wearing them in this shoot, how gorgeous are the fabrics and cuts! Heidi really is an incredible woman, you can learn a bit more about her and her story on this episode she did with the Graziher Podcast.
Angela – A woman of many talents and Heidi’s sister, Angela’s beautiful Tumbarumba home and flower farm Laurel Hill Farm was our location. Keep an eye out for their Airstream BnB Sugar Pine Cabin opening soon! Ange is also a photographer and all the pictures in this post are hers. Aren’t they gorgeous.
Emily of Printhie Wines – Em drove down with me, we took our two eldest (14 year old girls who also quite like dressing up!) and she brought the all important Printhie sparkling Swift Rose. My favourite sparkling wine. Side note, Printhie is opening a brand, spanking, shining new cellar door in Orange very soon (like next month fingers crossed) so keep an eye on their insta for the news and visit soon because it’s going to be next level good!
Jane – Of Millwoods Shoes, of which I am a big fan. Jane came along from her home near Wagga Wagga with new season styles for us all to try on. I am a massive fan of her ‘snoafers’ we all are!
Alison, aka Gypsy Girl Beauty came to play dress ups and also did all our make up, she’s such a sweetheart and so so clever. And man was it nice to have a ‘done face’ for once! And her good friend, hair stylist Kate aka Sass Hair Design also came along to lend her time and skills to our hair.
I was on picnic food duty and here’s what I brought along;
Warm tomato foccacia
Chickpea, olive and almond salad with mint dressing
Walnut, mustard and caramelised onion tart
Rhubarb almond cake with sweet dukkah and double cream
All in all it was an example of a bunch of creative generous women working together to create a bunch of pictures and stories that everyone could go on and use to tell the stories and share the goodness of their own businesses/products/ideas. And maybe most importantly, to just talk and share ideas, problems, food and a few glasses of bubbles!
All the recipes for this shoot come from my book In Good Company with a number of seasonal variations, here they are below. I hope one or all of them come in handy next time you’re looking for some easy, generous and tasty food for a paddock picnic, easy dinner or evening gathering off the back of the ute!
Warm tomato focaccia
Served warm, cut into small-ish squares and handed around with drinks at the beginning of a party or with a green salad as the main event – this focaccia is absolutely beautiful. And it’s a good alternative to a big (often expensive) platter of cheese, dips and biccies.
Vary the toppings to suit your tastes and what’s available. I also love love love this focaccia topped with a bed of caramelised onions that I’ve just discovered you can make in a slow cooker (mind blown).
Makes one large focaccia
Prep time: 30 mins, plus proving
Cook time: 25 mins
2 tsp (14 g) dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) lukewarm water
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 cups (600 g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 cup passata, the thickest and best you can make/buy
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
1 cup black olives, pitted
Sea salt flakes, to taste
2 tbsp thyme leaves
Whisk together the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in a large bowl and leave for 10 minutes to get nice and frothy. (If it doesn’t froth up, your yeast might be out of date and you’ll need to start again with fresher stuff.)
Add the oil, flour and 1 tablespoon of the sea salt flakes to the yeast mixture and stir until just combined (or, as I love to do, use your hands to mix it together). It will look like a big shaggy mess and that’s just what you want. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge all day or overnight, or until it’s bubbled up nicely and doubled in size. Twice throughout this process, take the dough out of the fridge and give it a few turns, folding it in over itself with the edges of your hands, then cover it and pop it back in the fridge. You can do this fermentation step on the benchtop if you prefer – it should take between 2 and 4 hours to double up, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Generously oil a baking tray (or thereabouts, the thinner it is, the crunchier it will be, which is exactly what we want). Give your dough a few turns, bringing it together into a ball, then gently press it into the baking tray so it reaches towards the edges. Leave the dough to rise, uncovered, in a moderately warm kitchen for 1 1/2 -2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
Spread the passata over the top of the dough and dot with the tomatoes, garlic and olives. Sprinkle generously with sea salt, the thyme leaves and drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Let sit for another 20 minutes or so. Once the oven is nice and hot, bake for 25 minutes or until the focaccia is golden.
Chickpea, olive and almond salad with mint dressing
I always make a salad like this for picnics, mostly because they stand up so well to transportation and ‘sitting around for a bit’, but also because they add a bit of healthy sustenance to the meal, and can smoothly transition from tasty side dish to fancy bruschetta starter. I would definitely double this recipe if you want some good leftovers for lunches.
You can make this with chickpeas as we did for this party, or use cannellini beans or lentils. I’ve also done it with risoni for a pasta salad.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: Nil
400 g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 cup (195 g) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water, then cooked until tender
1 cup (125 g) slivered almonds, toasted
2 telegraph cucumbers, chopped
1 handful radishes, quartered
1 cup (125 g) pitted green olives, halved
1 handful mint leaves, plus extra to serve
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup (250 ml) olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Combine the chickpeas, almonds, cucumber, radish and olives in a large bowl.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together and check for seasoning, adding a little more lemon juice if needed.
Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss with your hands to combine – you don’t want the beans to break up and turn to mush. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
About half an hour before serving, take the salad out of the fridge – the flavours will come alive at room temperature. Add the extra mint leaves to serve.
Walnut, mustard and caramelised onion tart
Indulgent, yes (there’s a fair amount of butter and cream in this recipe) – but completely delicious and always crowd-pleasing? One hundred per cent. This is a cracker of a recipe and not at all difficult, especially if you use store-bought pastry for the base (the end result will still be wonderful but your tart shell won’t be quite as flaky and golden as if you’d made the pastry).
Prep time: 30 mins, plus chilling
Cook time: 1 hour
Rough puff pastry
250 g chilled butter, cut into cubes
1 2/3 cups (250 g) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup (60 ml) chilled water
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 brown onions, sliced
1 cup (250 ml) single (pure) cream
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1/2 cup (50 g) grated Compte or similar mild, nutty cheese
1 cup (115 g) walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
To make the pastry, combine the butter and flour on the bench, using the heel of your hand to work them together. Add water as necessary to form a rough dough – it’s okay to see some marbled streaks of butter. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry until you have a large rectangle and dust off any loose flour. Fold the top half of the pastry down, then fold the bottom half up so you have a long slim rectangle. Now turn the pastry 90 degrees and roll into another large rectangle, trying to roll in only one direction if possible (this helps keep the butter’s ‘marbled’ effect and ideally will keep your pastry nice and puffy and flaky). Fold and roll the pastry into another slim rectangle, then cover and chill for 20 minutes or until needed.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until about 3 mm thick. Gently drape the pastry over a 24cm (or thereabouts) loose-based tart tin and trim the edges. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring often so it doesn’t catch and burn, for about 20 minutes or until golden and completely caramelised.
Meanwhile, line the pastry with baking paper and fill the base with pastry weights, uncooked rice or dried beans (this stops the base rising during baking). Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pastry weights and paper and bake for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is pale and dry to the touch.
Combine the eggs, cream, mustard, cheese and a good pinch of sea salt in a bowl and whisk well. Scatter the caramelised onion over the pastry base, sprinkle with the walnuts, then gently pour in the cream mixture so it comes about three-quarters of the way up the side of the pastry shell.
Bake the tart for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is just set.
If you don’t have a tart tin handy, make this into a free-form galette. Roll the pastry into a large disc. Spoon the caramelised onion, walnuts and cream mixture into the middle, leaving a 4 cm (1 ½ inch) border, and crimp the edges together to create a seal. This goes straight into the oven with the added bonus that you don’t need to blind bake the pastry.
Rhubarb and almond cake
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: about 1 hour
This cake is perfect for picnics, snacking on over days and wrapping up and giving to a friend in need of some edible love. I make it in a large roasting tin so you end up with more of a slab cake, but you could absolutely cook it in a large round cake tin if you prefer. Or halve the quantities and make it in a smaller cake tin or a square slice tin (this does make a very big cake!).
Swap the rhubarb with any seasonal fruit, fresh or poached – apricots or plums would be gorgeous here and are in season right now, just saying!
For the rhubarb
1 big bunch of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2-3cm pieces
Juice and zest of one orange
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
For the cake
1 1/2 cups (330 g) caster (superfine) sugar
375 g (13 oz) butter, softened
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups (125 g) almond meal
2 cups (300 g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sweet dukkah (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a large roasting tin. Line the tin with baking paper.
For the rhubarb, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium heat and cook, stirring often until the rhubarb has softened completely. Have a little try of some, if it needs a little more sweetness adjust to taste. Set aside while you make the cake.
Meanwhile, put the butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flour and baking powder, then fold this mixture into the creamed butter and sugar.
Spoon the batter into the roasting tin. Arrange rhubarb on top and bake for 35–40 minutes or until golden and cooked through (check after 35 minutes and return to oven if it needs it – timing will depend on the thickness of the cake/size of the tray you need and your oven’s behaviour!).
As soon as it’s cooked, remove from oven and sprinkle with the dukkah. Serve with double cream or ice cream.
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 10 mins
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
I sprinkle this stuff on everything, from porridge to bircher muesli, cheesecakes, poached and fresh fruit and/or pancakes with natural yogurt. And a jar of it is a fabulous present on it’s own.
1/2 cup (65g) hazelnuts or walnuts
1/3 cup (30g) sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2/3 cup raw, unsalted pistachio nuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 180C. Spread hazelnuts or walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Add sesame and poppy seeds, if using, and continue to toast for another 5 minutes.
Combine nuts in a food processor or mortar and pestle and blitz or bash until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add sesame and poppy seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and salt to the food processor or mortar. Give another quick pulse/bash. Keep in jars or airtight container
And…here’s Heidi herself rocking the pretty incredible Paper Daisy Skirt that she made with her own two hands and can make for you too. This one is such a beauty – the skirt and woman wearing it.
Thank you Ange for hosting us at your beautiful flower farm and capturing the day so beautiful with your camera!