It was an excellent couple of days. I got to speak on a few panels as part of the festival program and later that afternoon co-hosted a little cooking demo and ‘high tea’ at the Little Cooking School’.
Firstly I just want to say – if you love reading and food and wine, you should definitely come next year. Bring your book club (that’s what I did!) or Mum or sister or anyone who likes this stuff too and make a weekend of it.
And when you come, please consider staying here (unless I’ve booked it first!); The Little Cooking School Mudgee has it’s very own BNB and from experience I can say it’s fab.
There are four queen rooms, a cosy little living room (where we sat up late, both nights, solving the problems of the world and eating chocolate and finishing off the red wine and having a great time but feeling rather dusty for it the next morning), a perfectly kitted out kitchen and wrap around verandah for sitting and sipping bubbles in the sunset. Plus, it’s an easy stroll into town for breakie (we went to Alby & Esthers and it was excellent) or shopping etc.
And depending on availability, you can also ask Tamara to cater a beautiful dinner party for your group in the dining room attached to your accommodation.
Created by Tamara Howorth (local chef and lovely lovely lady) and her very patient (in her words!) partner Richard; both the cooking school and BNB have everything you could ever wish for and are super comfortable, friendly and well designed spaces.
For the ‘high tea’ event, I did a little cooking demo and then we all sat down with tea and bubbles and shared a bunch of recipes from my new book A Basket by the Door (made by Tamara – thank you!); lemon cake with rosemary syrup, chicken sambos, baci di dama and triple ginger cake with lemon curd or warm vanilla-roasted oranges.
And because it was so lovely and I wish we could all spend more Saturday afternoons like this, here below is one of the recipes we shared, it’s from the Spring section of the book and I hope you love it like I do.
Syrup-soaked lemon, blueberry and rosemary cake
Prep time 10 mins
Cook tie 35 mins
There’s nothing tricky or fancy going on here – just the most lovely, simple and soft cake ever. There’s something very comforting in it’s softness and lemony twang. It freezes well too. One more cheering attribute of this cake – it’s a melt and mix number so super easy to make.
180g butter, melted
Zest and juice (1/4 cup)) of one lemon
3/4 cup (200g) plain Greek-style yoghurt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
2 cups (300g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 punnet blueberries
For the rosemary lemon syrup
Zest and juice of 2 lemons (you want 1/4 cup juice)
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
2 sprigs rosemary
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a bundt or regular 24cm springform cake tin. Combine the butter, yogurt, lemon zest, juice and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for two minutes. Add the sugar, flour and baking powder and mix for five minutes more. Gently fold in the blueberries.
Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and just firm to touch. For the syrup combine all ingredients plus 3 tbsp water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, let mixture bubble away for a few minutes or until you have a thick syrup.
As soon as you remove cake from the oven, poke all over with a skewer and pour over the hot syrup (the holes from your skewer allow the syrup to penetrate right into the cake).