Author: Lisa Romano

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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Fresh Cream Vanilla & Chocolate Chip Fudge

Indulge your sweet tooth with this rich, velvet-textured fresh cream fudge. This recipe uses pure, fresh, thickened cream and is made with single origin vanilla bean extract and dark chocolate chips. Handle with care: you may find it hard to stop at one square. INGREDIENTS: 3 tbs dark chocolate chips 300ml thickened cream 350g white sugar 100g unsalted butter, cubed 1 tsp single origin Madagascan Vanilla bean extract METHOD: Grease and line a 20cm square baking tray with baking paper. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over tray. Place butter, cream and sugar in a large, heavy based saucepan and heat...

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Bird Garden Visitors of New South Wales, Australia

Here at Canyonleigh in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, we are lucky to be situated within the Greater Eastern Wildlife Corridor. Many birds use this haven to migrate annually, and often these visitors will stop and take a bath or a drink in our garden. I like to keep the birdbath topped up with fresh rainwater. As soon as I have cleaned and refilled it, in they come! The most shy of these birds is the beautiful yellow-tailed black cockatoo, a large parrot-beaked bird with stunning brown-black plumage, highlighted with patches of yellow on its cheeks, tail, and...

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