Author: Lisa Romano

Summer Wildflowers of Bangadilly, Australia

Fringe Lily, Thysanotus tuberosus  Here in Australia it’s early summer and already the scorching hot, dry days are setting in. I escape the heat for a walk in nearby Bangadilly National Park, where closer inspection of the ground cover reveals an array of wildflowers.   Many are small, intricate forms less than a centimetre in diameter. I wonder how they can survive the heat, sheltered only by the sparse shade of shrubs and native trees.  I feel privileged to live right across the road from such beautiful hidden treasures, and happily souvenir a collection of photos, so I can enlarge them, research their names and observe their beauty in greater detail when I return home.  It makes...

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Baci di Alassio – Chocolate Kisses

These delightful little ganache filled biscuits feature a soft, chewy centre and a crisp outer. They are named Baci di Alassio, which literally translates as ‘Kisses from Alassio’. The coastal town of Alassio is situated on the coast in Liguria, North West Italy, where they originate from. Serve these after a meal with a bowl of strawberries, a chocolate cream liqueur for a truly romantic setting.  Ingredients (Makes 18)  100g Belgian cooking chocolate  115g almond meal  165g caster sugar  15g sifted Dutch cocoa powder  25g honey  ¼ tsp vanilla essence  2 free range egg whites  60g heavy cream  Method Grease and line 2 baking sheets. Preheat oven to 220C, or 200C...

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Apricot and Almond Tray Bake

Our local market is brimming with a range of dried fruit and nuts right now. The almond meal looks so fresh, and the dried apricots are plump and brightly coloured. I’m inspired to create a tray bake, made more decadent with a generous topping of dark chocolate ganache, scattered with toasted flaked almonds.  Ingredients (Makes 8 – 10 squares)  For the apricots:  12 dried apricots, each sliced into several lengths  1 tbs brandy  ½ cup boiling water  Pinch bicarb of soda  For the batter:  2/3 cup plain unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt  2 large free range eggs  ¼ cup soft brown sugar  ½ cup caster sugar  1/8 tsp...

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Spiced Banana Bread with Pecans

It’s midwinter and although sunny outside today, very cold here in the NSW Southern Highlands of Australia. The wood-fired oven is preheated almost every afternoon, and the temptation to bake inspires me to create this comforting banana bread. The addition of spices fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma as I open the oven. Quick! Eat it whole warm, served with a hot chocolate, or your favourite tea or coffee. Makes 10 slices Ingredients  3 ripe bananas, mashed  1 cup soft brown sugar, firmly packed 2 large free range eggs  1 tbsp honey  1/2 tsp vanilla extract  1/2 cup fat free Greek-style yoghurt...

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Almond Bites “Pastini di Mandorle”

These sweet, crisp, crumbly biscuits are enhanced by a topping of homemade jam and slivered almonds, and are an irresistible treat with your favourite beverage. I like them with an aromatic tea served in fine bone china. Ingredients makes about 40 115g softened butter 200g caster sugar 115g almond meal 1 egg, beaten almond essence 115g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder 3 tsp plum or berry jam 40g slivered almonds Method Preheat the oven to 200C. Line two or three baking sheets with baking paper. Place butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Beat until pale and well combined....

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Secrets of the Blue Satin Bowerbird

Every morning I see the same little bird busy around the branches across from my window. Wondering about the commotion, I take my camera out and see to my amazement a beautifully woven, intricate bower, surrounded by blue treasures. This is the courting stage, or bower, of the blue satin bower bird. The male is noted for its irridescent blue-black plumage. To win the heart of a female, the male weaves an arena from hundreds and hundreds of individually collected twigs, all a similar diameter. In the centre he erects two upswept wings which enclose a circular stage. Surrounding...

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