Ripe here ripe now


Since Christmas we have been on self-imposed 'lock-down'. Tim, who usually travels most weeks for work has been home and friends from Melbourne came to stay so we've been swimming in our newly cleared waterhole, picking and eating lots of fruit and generally laying low. 

But now, the weather has turned a little extreme and day after day of dry, windy weather and high temperatures are all taking their toll. So for us it's all about trying to keep cool, checking the stock and their water, listening for bushfire news and hitting town to go swimming.

Apricot frangipane tart

This tart does require a little love and time but is just delicious. Freshly ground almonds make a big difference.

For the pastry;
150g cold butter
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 egg

Place the flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blitz for a moment. Add the butter and blitz until you have a coarse sand-like texture. Tip this out onto a work surface and bring together with the palm of your hand and work until you have a lovely, smooth disc of dough. Wrap this in plastic and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper until about 5mm thick and drape into a loose-bottomed tart tin. Return to the fridge for another half an hour.

For the frangipane filling;
6 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups apricots, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy and add the almond meal, flour, vanilla and egg. Mix until smooth. Blind bake the tart shell then spoon in the frangipane mix and smooth out. Press the apricots into the mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until the frangipane is golden brown and cooked through.

Last week Alice, our friend Anna and I visited Beau and Katie Baddock's orchard and picked sour cherries, apricots and peaches. Their fruit is always beautiful and it was pretty exciting to source some of the season's best directly from the tree. Since then we've been making everything from upside-down pavlovas (pictured above) to frangipane tarts (also above) and tons of jam and are almost due for another visit.

Katie and Beau take their produce to markets across Sydney every weekend.

Morello cherry jam

This is great served with barbecued venison, duck or even spooned over ice cream. 

4 cups morello cherries, pitted
1 1 /2  cups caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a rolling boil. Cook like this for about 20 minutes or until you have reached setting point. If you have a sugar thermometer, this is about 100C. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal well. Makes about 4 cups of jam.

'Shaking' venison salad'

This past week has been too hot to consider turning on our oven so for dinner we've been having lots of lighter salads like this. The recipe is just delicious and was inspired by one given by Bill Granger in my favourite of his many books, Bill's Everyday Asian. The cooking style and flavours are perfect for venison.

Serves 4

2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
500g venison leg steaks
1 tsp sea salt

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup runner beans, trimmed and blanched
1 cucumber, sliced thinly
1 bunch coriander
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
3 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soft butter

Crush the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle until you have a rough paste. Add the sugar and vegetable oil and mix well. Pour this marinade over the venison steaks, cover and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least one hour. 

Place the tomatoes, beans, cucumber, coriander leaves and cucumber on a nice big platter and heat a wok over high. Add the extra oil and in it, cook the steaks (with marinade) for one minute on each side. Then shake the wok for 30 seconds to cook the sides. Remove and keep warm under a tent of foil. Add the wine, soy and fish sauce to the wok and cook for a minute or so, stir through the butter and cook for about a minute more. Slice the venison across the grain and place on the salad. Pour over the sauce and serve. 

Morello and torn bread salad

This salad, pictured below, is just beautiful with pretty much any grilled meat, but of course we love it most with our seared venison steaks.

3 red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic
4 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls rocket
1 loaf of day-old sourdough bread
1/2 cup morello cherries
Pomegranate molasses

Preheat oven to 150C. Place the onions on a baking tray and scatter with the brown sugar, drizzle over half of the olive oil and balsamic. Slow-roast for one hour, or until the onions are soft and almost caramelised. Tear the bread into chunks and place these on a separate baking tray. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and bake for about 10 minutes or until the bread is golden and crunchy. To assemble the salad, place the rocket on a big platter and add remaining ingredients. Toss well and serve with a good drizzle of pomegranate molasses.


  1. Happy holidays to you Sophie! Lovely vibrant photos and food as usual. All of that stonefruit looks delicious. I hope you are keeping cool...well over 40 at our house today too.

  2. Wow when you post on this blog you really POST. I adore the look of your apricot frangipani tart, and since I have a bit of a glut of peaches this week I think I'll try it out using that glorious fruit. It's not really a day for baking - apparently it will be 43 degrees in Sydney today. But I'm sure it will be worth it. Love your blog, thanks for the inspiration.


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