belinda jeffery's news and events
Where has autumn gone?! I mentioned last month that the region where I live has had a run of humid weather - and still it continues. Normally by now we have cool evenings and mornings, but not this year. Then again, this whole summer has been different – very dry and hot without any of our usual summer rain... Well, that is until last week, when it arrived with a vengeance. We had an utter deluge overnight on Thursday, so much so that we were flooded in. The water rose incredibly rapidly and within hours the fields below our house were transformed into a lake. We’ve seen this occur before, and it’s extraordinary how the waterbirds seem to know when it has happened as the ‘lake’ was alive with them. The dear little foals that normally live in these fields haven’t really experienced rain before, and they could hardly believe their eyes as pelicans and ducks paddled past. However, the two of them were soon tearing up and down the fence, kicking up their heels and having an absolute ball trying to chase off any bird that ventured too close. I do so love being able to see these things!
Despite the downpour (and before our road was swamped) we donned our raincoats and gumboots and headed off to the farmers market, where a few hardy growers had managed to make it in. We figured if the farmers were willing to come out in such terrible weather, the least we could do is go out too! Many weren’t able to get off their properties as they were flooded in, so we sloshed our way around picking up whatever bits and pieces we could find. There was a lovely sense of camaraderie as we all huddled under awnings, musing about the weather, and saying how mad we all must be to be there; but then again, that’s cooks for you!
Although there were only a few stalls, we managed to snaffle some lovely potatoes (waxy Dutch creams which make the best potato salad); a dozen beautiful little bantam eggs; a loaf of wood-fired sourdough bread, and an unexpected treat, Romano beans. These flat, green beans are not always available, but when they are I use them as much as possible. To me, they are the most flavoursome of all the beans, and I cook them every which-way – braised (they’re particularly good with olive oil, garlic, onion and masses of dill); steamed and topped with a sprinkle of za’atar; slow-cooked in tomato sauce; or better still, cooked in Indian spices and topped with a dollop of yoghurt. Yum.
I’ve made a note to myself to feature a recipe with them sometime soon, however this month I’ve opted for a lovely, caramel-topped apple cake. I rather suspect it popped into my mind in the forlorn hope that this heat will end soon, and the thought of turning on the oven and doing some baking won’t seem quite as daunting as it does at present. It really is a wonderful cake, and one of my favourites – simple, but incredibly moist, with a shiny caramelised almond glaze that is baked onto the top. It works just as well for dessert as it does for afternoon tea, especially if you add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, and warm the cake gently just before serving it.
Speaking of cakes, I’m busy writing up the recipes for my class and talk in Orange on the 10th and 11th of April. In this case, the recipe is for a lime, pistachio and pomegranate cake, which is the dessert for a Middle Eastern lunch I’m cooking at the Old Convent at Borenore. It should be a lovely few days talking about cookbooks and recipe writing, a cooking class on the Friday, and a special lunch each day. If you would like to come along, or find out more about the events, go to http://bit.ly/L7INB2. I shall also be signing books at the Essential Ingredient in Orange on Wednesday 9th April from 12 noon – 1pm. If you’re in Orange, please drop in and say hello, and by all means bring any cooking questions that you may have. It’s always so nice to have a chat!
And on that note, I had best sign off and get back to my recipe writing…or there won’t be any classes!
Upcoming events and classes
I shall be at the Food of Orange District (F.O.O.D) Week on the 9th, 10th and 11th of April. As part of this wonderful week, which showcases the local produce and fine food of the region, I shall be talking about food, cooking, writing recipes, cookbooks and more with one of my all-time favourite food writers, Barbara Sweeney; and giving a combined cooking class and lunch at the lovely Old Convent at Borenore (near Orange). For more information, follow this link to the Food and Words website
Later in the year, in October (20th and 21st) I shall be giving cooking classes at the Accoutrement Cooking School in Sydney to celebrate the publication of my new book, Belinda Jeffery’s Utterly Delicious, Simple Food. If you would like to find out more about the classes, go to Accoutrement
I shall also be holding a class featuring recipes from my new book at lovely Pepper Tree Kitchen in Lismore on Wednesday 8th October. For more information contact Helen Nott on (02) 6622 0180.
To listen to my radio interview with ABC Brisbane’s Mary-Lou Stephens about my latest cookbook, Desserts click here...
My favourite charity
Just A Drop - www.justadrop.org
My lovely sister-in-law, Fiona Jeffery, started this international water aid charity in 1998 when she learnt that less than $2 can deliver clean water to a child for up to 10 years. From this knowledge, and her passion and commitment, Just a Drop was born, based on the premise that if people can be encouraged to give a little then collectively we can make a huge difference. I’m so proud of all she has achieved over the years and encourage you to visit the site and see the fantastic work they do.
Favourite websites & blogs