Saturday, 20 September 2014

Table for Amy: dining out with locavore intentions

It is not often that we eat out and less often do we find ourselves in a place that echoes our sentiments and our ethics as sincerely as Table For Amy.

Our biannual treks to Sydney are always rushed affairs filled with stress and appointments and an extreme desire to get back home as soon as possible, but my driving ethic also demands a stop, revive survive every 2 hours and so Kiama got our attention this time round for a revival with coffee and a bite to eat high on our agenda.

Serendipity played Her part in where we stopped simply because I know how hard parking can be in the centre of Kiama and so thinking ahead I promptly stopped at the first available parking space in Collins Street.

Table for Amy Cafe!

Straight in front of us down a grassy terrace were the original workers' cottages and in one was the quaintly and quirkily named Table for Amy Cafe.

Specials board at the door

The first glance says retro styling shabby chic, but the menu celebrates local produce and an imaginative food styling that really drew me in. Who can resist pulled lamb burger with fresh salad, grilled chat potato and home made tzatziki?

pulled lamb burger with fresh salad, grilled chat potato and home made tzatziki

I nearly did until the welcoming and charming staff happily allowed me to forgo the bread in the burger as I don't eat bread.
pulled lamb with fresh salad, grilled chat potato and home made tzatziki

I even got an insight into what made the pulled lamb so incredibly sweet and stickily scrumptious and walked away with the recipe dancing in my head, but no spoilers! If you want it too you will have to try it and be really nice to Judy whose recipe it is ... and if you ask prettily she will share with a smile and some delightful conversation.

We were also served the biggest latte ever offered in a cafe I am sure ... drowning was an option and the coffee didn't disappoint with well rounded roasted notes and an absence of extreme bitterness sometimes found in locally roasted beans. Someone knows their coffee!

Picnic blankets at the door as well as a warm and friendly welcome

Also on offer are picnic baskets filled with house specialties complete with rugs to pre-order for that romantic or family moment on the grass. This Sunday comes complete with live entertainment and Wednesday nights are a local hit with special roast nights.

Prices struck me as incredibly reasonable and servings generous. We grabbed 2 servings of baked goods, a fig slice and a fruit slice, for our continued trek home which didn't disappoint either and made the last 2 hours of our journey sweetly interjected with crumbs and yumminess.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Herman The German Friendship Cake

A friendship cake? what is this nonsense?

It's wonderful nonsense! The wonders of natural fermentation, the slow food process which is fully self invested and the prize of a delicious cake at the end. Then you can share the fun adventure with a friend. When our friends Teresa and Ben offered us our very own Herman starter we were intrigued as we had a sourdough bread starter already and we love anything new that improves the quality of our menu through natural process.

Herman is a natural sourdough starter designed for cake and the concept of global friendship being tied together with a starter is not entirely new, but this was my first experience with it.

Herman comes to you as a cup of starter that you feed and grow and nurture and it is hard to contain the sheer joy of seeing the bubbles and froth when this little guy gets going.

The Instructions are clear and easy to follow and a basic cake recipe comes with Herman.

If you want to start your own Herman these instruction are freely available on the fun website dedicated to the friendship cake phenomenon, but I will include them here:

Our Herman starter

What You Need

Firstly, make sure you have the following:
  • 5oz plain flour
  • 8oz castor sugar
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • Half a pint of warm milk
  • 2 fl oz. of warm water

What You Do

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes then stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl in a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  6. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.



Sourdough Fruitcake


1 cup
½ cup
4 cups
Wholemeal spelt flour
1 teaspoon
Baking soda
1½ cup
Dried currants
1 teaspoon
1 cup
Plus 2 tb Blackberry nip or other wine
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
1 cup
Sourdough Starter
½ teaspoon
Grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons
3 cups
Candied fruit; cherries, pineapple, orange, citron and ginger
1 cup
raw sugar
1 cup
Brown sugar
Eggs, well beaten
1 cup
Chopped nuts
2 tablespoons
Grated lemon rind

into the baking pan
Soak dried fruit in 1 cup wine overnight. Remove starter from refrigerator and set, tightly covered, in warm place overnight.

It should be in at least a two cup container as it will just about double its volume overnight. In the morning, cream butter with sugar and beat in eggs and lemon rind. Drain wine from raisins into creamed mixture. Stir in starter and 3 cups of the flour sifted with the soda, salt and spices. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the fruit and nuts in a large bowl. Toss and shake until well-coated.

Add to batter and mix thoroughly. Turn into loaf pans which have been generously buttered. Let stand in warm place for 30 minutes. Bake in oven preheated to 145degC with a pan of water on floor of oven and rack as near as possible in middle of oven. Bake about 2-½ hours for medium-sized loaves watching carefully to see that they do not brown to quickly. Test with toothpick. Remove from oven, turn pans on sides and allow to set for a few minutes before taking from pans. When cold drip 2 tbsp. of wine over each cake. As soon as it is absorbed, wrap tightly in cellophane freezer paper and store in refrigerator or freezer. They improve with age.

Sourdough Fruitcake

Dutch Hot Cakes

Dutch Hot Cakes
2 cups plain flour
pinch salt
1 egg
1.5 cup warm milk
3/4 cup of Sourdough starter
1 cup sultanas and currants
butter or oil for cooking

Place the flour and salt into a bowl, put in the egg and 1 cup of milk. Mix to a smooth batter, then add the rest of the milk and fruit. Oil or butter a skillet or griddle. Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the hot surface and cook on both sides until browned. Butter and serve hot.

* With gratitude to Herman The German Friendship Cake

Abalone on the menu


One of the joys of a coastal idyll is the bounty of the sea, bay and tidal reaches. The first sighting of abalone on the rocks off our favourite swimming beach churned up all the possibilities of seafood adventures. Allow me to share some of our journey to date into enjoying haliotis ... the abalone.

This aquatic mollusc has an edible and highly prized foot muscle and is valued around the world as a delicacy. Eaten cooked and raw it has great diversity in cuisine and tradition. In the wild it may be found on rocks dining on red and brown algae and other vegetarian fair.

legal size Abalone
Great care should be taken when fishing for this creature as many licencing and harvesting rules are in place according to the local jurisdictions. In NSW a minimum size is enforced of 11.7cm as well as a bag limit of 2 per person. In some local areas a recreational limit is placed so that only weekends and public holidays may be observed as legal for abalone catches. Abalone may not be taken from the wild using scuba so free diving and snorkelling are the only way to legally take abalone from our waters.

Cultural references:

Our Mauri neighbours well love their pāua and have a rich legacy of recipes including fritters, steaks, sausages and baked in the shell. The legend of Pāua is such that Tangaroa, the sea god, gifted the lonely Pāua with a coat of many colours as well as the hard camouflage for protection so that his beauty was his own and charged him with the duty of adding more colour to his coat every year. True beauty comes from within.

In the Americas abalone was most esteemed among the Navajo. Echoing a distant past, abalone, as one of the Navajo's four sacred stones and plays a significant role in many of their myths. As one of the four sacred stones, abalone is associated with the creation of the sacred mountains that mark the boundaries of the Navajo homeland, a building material of the first Navajo hogan, and was also a part of the first loom, a vital part of the Navajo culture.

The native peoples of California see abalone is a Spirit Woman who is ever present, front and centre, during  every ceremonies. The chiming of abalone pendants suspended from the ornately decorated dresses worn by the women evokes strong feelings at every ceremony. Multistrand necklaces of abalone are worn by both the men and women. Abalone Woman transformed long ago into a form of wealth and the belief is that she is the feminine form of wealth.

In forms of magick abalone has been used for centuries in jewellery, carvings and as a vessel for offerings and cleansing and embodies all the aspects of the water element including love, beauty, gentleness, caring, comfort, peacefulness, delight and solace as well as romance, fine food, and creativity (especially poetry and music). An abalone amulet may protect the wearer from negativity, especially anger, depression, fear, and/or sadness. An abalone talisman can help you move past negative emotions, bring you in touch with your own inner beauty and will  inspire creativity, especially in writing. Ritually abalone should only be teamed with silver to enhance contact with its attributes.


Nutritionally abalone has a lot to offer as it is very low in Saturated Fat. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Vitamin B12, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Pantothenic Acid and Selenium.

Abalone is highly regarded for its health benefits and is believed to promote healthy eyes, alleviate colds and arthritis, reduce fluid retention and improve circulation.


Abalone Fried Rice

abalone fried rice


2 x abalone, prepared and thinly sliced
2 x eggs, beaten
3 x shallots, finely sliced
2 x garlic cloves, minced
1/2 x red capsicum, sliced into fine, long strips
2 x bacon rashers, sliced into fine batons
6 x snow peas, topped, tailed and sliced
6 x pea sprouts (the green non flowering tendril)
1 cup long grain rice cooked to instructions
2 Tbls olive oil, cold pressed
2 Tbls catsup manis
1 Tbls mirin

Prepare your omelette: in a non stick pan with a small portion of the olive oil gently cook your beaten eggs until slightly golden brown underneath, but barely set on top, fold in half and set aside to set and cool.
Slice the omelette once cooled.

Prepare your rice in advance and allow to cool uncovered to reduce moisture content. Prepare all other ingredients before you start.

Heat your oil in your wok and begin the stir fry with your garlic then add bacon to render a little of the fat. Add the abalone and fry briefly then add the capsicum, shallot and snow peas.
Add your rice and stir fry coating the rice in the oils and fats and flavours.
Add the catsup manis and mirin and the pea sprouts.
Just before you serve stir through the omlette and allow it to reheat.

Garlic Butter Abalone

garlic butter abalone



3 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 abalone, trimmed and finely sliced


In a heavy based pan melt your butter with the olive oil and saute the garlic until translucent and the butter well flavoured. Toss in the abalone slices and sizzle until it curls and is slightly caramelised.
Serve with the garlic butter over rice and a garden salad.

BBQ Abalone

BBQ abalone


4 abalone, trimmed whole
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 rosemary sprig long enough for basting


Using a very sharp knife slice the abalone not quite all the way through so that the shell side of the foot muscle is intact. Mix the olive oil and garlic and marinate the abalone for at least 1/2 hour.

BBQ on a hot grill using the rosemary to continually baste the meat as it cooks and takes on the smoky flavours.

Serve immediately with your choice of BBQ sides.

BBQ abalone sliced and served with quinoa