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Chocolate Mousse Cake
From: Low Tox Life Food by Alexx Stuart Serves 6–8
Prep time 25–30 minutes
Cooking time 25–30 minutes 1 cup (200 g) rapadura, panela, coconut or maple sugar
5 eggs, separated
165 g (5¾) dark chocolate (70% cacao), roughly chopped
1½ tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (125 ml) olive oil, plus extra for greasing
¼ cup (60 ml) full-cream (whole) milk or coconut milk (optional)*
2 tablespoons hazelnut or pecan meal Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line a 23 cm (9 inch) springform cake tin with unbleached baking paper and grease the paper with olive oil. Separate the sugar into small bowls, one with 75 g (2½ oz) and the other with 125 g (4½ oz). Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and the yolks in a medium bowl. Half-fill a small saucepan with water and bring to the boil over medium heat. Rest a large bowl on the saucepan, without it touching the water, and add the chocolate. Reduce the heat to low and warm the chocolate until it’s almost melted, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon now and then. Remove from the heat and stir in the 75 g (2½ oz) sugar. Between stirs while the chocolate is melting, whisk the cocoa powder into the egg yolks until thick and well combined. Gradually drizzle the olive oil into the melted chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. Does it look like curdled chocolate sick-up or silky smooth? For the first scenario, heat the milk until just warm, then add tablespoons, one at a time, to the curdled mess, stirring gently and watching for it to come together. You might need it all or only a couple of tablespoons. Whisking constantly, slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture until well combined. Using the electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium–high speed until soft peaks form. Add half the remaining sugar and beat for 10 seconds, then add the remaining sugar and beat for a final 10 seconds, or until the sugar is just combined and the mixture looks glossy and rich. Gently fold* the chocolate mixture, then the hazelnut meal, into the egg white mixture until just combined – don’t stir. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30–35 minutes, until there’s just a hint of wobble in the centre. Serve hot as a dessert with custard, cream or ice cream, or chilled as a mousse cake. *Notes: You’ll only need the milk on emergency stand-by in case your chocolate splits during melting. You will totally know if this is happening to you! This milk save has been bulletproof for me over years of carelessly taking my eye off ganache chocolate, and if I can help you live a less stressful dessert-making life then I will. To fold it in, you just fold it in, David. Some of you will get this joke. Some won’t and I’m afraid our friendship will be strained… Images and text from Low Tox Life Food by Alexx Stuart, photography by Cath Muscat. Murdoch Books RRP $36.99
Episode 79: Love in the Time of Covid - Part 2
LISTEN HERE Imagine if the-make-or-break moment in your long-distance relationship came right in the middle of the worst epidemic the world has ever seen? A time when Covid meant that travelling was a near impossibility? If you listened to episode 64, you would know Monique's story - how she fell in love with a Norwegian man and how, a few years later, after living a long distance relationship, they were seperated by Covid. Determined to get to him, she made it happen, despite the odds. Just a week after that episode, however, Monique was sobbing on a plane, headed back to Australia, unsure of when she'd see Espen again. In this episode, we catch up with Monique, to see how things are faring in this undeniably romantic story that illustrates the fact that travel is not just always about holidays. And you can follow Monique at @moniquececcato on Instagram.
Postcard from Brisbane, Australia
LISTEN HERE On this episode of ExtraVirgin Food and Travel, our postcard comes from sunny Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia. pic Tourism Events QLD Australia's third largest city has been the home of freelance writer Jennifer Johnston for most of her life. Jen shares with us her favourite walks and cycling routes, Brisbane galleries, book stores, the best places to enjoy a cocktail or beer with city views and much more. So, whether you're planning a future trip, or just armchair travelling, let this postcard take you away.
My Mum Jean's Xmas Pudding (Start now!)
My maternal grandmother was English and as such my mother always served a traditional pudding each Christmas. She'd start in October, soaking the fruit for a month, then make the puddings in November, putting in old sixpences saved in a special tin for luck and hanging them in calico in the pantry to "mature." The sixpence and the calico have gone the way of the other northern hemisphere traditions, but pudding itself is still a mainstay. Her other nod to modernity is having them cryrovaced. Embaressingly, she walks into any old butcher with them and smiles sweetly and asks them to do it for her. I don't know why her puddings are so good, but they are. Her recipe is fairly simple - she's just dicatated it to me over the phone. But you better get a wiggle on - Christmas is sneaking up on us. PS: This main pudding pic at the very top s not my mum's pudding. We are always too busy eating them to take pics! (And I've never seen one with more decoration than ice-cream or custard!) Jean's Christmas Pudding 250g butter 250g brown sugar 4 eggs ¼ tsp salt Rind of 1 orange and one lemon In a separate bowl 1/2 cup brandy, rum or sherry 100 grams soft white breadcrumbs 1 green apple, grated over breadcrumbs 1kg of mixed fruit (prunes, figs, raisins, sultanas etc) 60 grams orange and lemon In a small bowl 120g SR flour 2 tsp mixed spice 1 tsp nutmeg In a bowl put mixed fruit, cover with cling wrap and soak for a month (two weeks or a week at a pinch is fine). Add more alcohol if the fruit starts to look dry. On the day you want to cook, grease 2 small or 1 large pudding tin (with a lid). Grate the apple on top of the breadcrumbs (I don't know why- NM). Cream butter well, then add sugar and mix. Add citrus rind, then add eggs one by one, mixing well. Add flour and spices, then the fruit, apple and breadcrumbs and combine well. Fill the pudding bowl, leaving a little room at the top, cover with greaseproof paper and foil then secure lid tightly. If your tin has those little ring handles, tie string through them and round the bottom like you're tying a parcel, This will help keep it secure and make it easier to lift out. Put the puddings in a large steamer with enough water to reach halfway up the pudding bowls. Simmer for 4 hrs for small and 6 hours for large puddings. Make sure to keep checking the water and adding more boiling water as needed. When done, take off the lids but leave in their tins until cool. Turn out, wrap in baking paper and get butcher to cryovac. On Xmas Day boil for an hour. We like to serve them with both custard and ice-cream.
Here's what to see and do in The Scenic Rim
Queensland's Scenic Rim was the only Australian destination to appear in Lonely Planet's recent "top 10 hottest destinations to visit in 2022" recently." If you're keen to explore the region, whether it's for a day trip or weekend away, here are some of my favourite Scenic Rim destinations. Hazelwood Estate It's a inspiring drive up into the Gold Coast hinterland to Beechmont, with 360 degree views at every turn. Make sure to stop at one of the lookouts for views all the way to Surfers Paradise and across Mt Warning. Pack your walking shoes for a hike in Lamington National Park then head to Hazelwood Estate, a new polo club, restaurant and accommodation for lunch. You'll need to book to get the code to gain entry to the charming farm estate. The food (under chef Cameron Matthews, ex-Spicers exec chef) is fabulous. The Overflow Estate 1895 It ticks all the boxes for a perfect day out for me. Set on an isthmus jutting out into the Wyaralong Dam, this charming winery is picturesque, feels pleasingly off the beaten track and has good food - either inside the contemporary architect-designed building or outside at picnic tables overlooking the water. Have a wine tasting, listen to live music on weekends and enjoy the serenity. Summer Land Camel Farm I have been known to drive out here just to pat the camels, especially the adorable babies! About an hour from Brisbane, this camel farm makes great day out, particularly if you have kids. You can do a farm tour, feed the camels, have a meal in the cafe and buy camel milk products, from cheese to camel milk coffees. Kalbar My recommendation is to visit the gorgeous Elderflower Farm for morning tea, and a look around, then head into town and wander the shops (there's a couple of really good interiors/gift shops) then have lunch at Lovett Cafe or the friendly Royal Hotel Kalbar. Each October, the town also has have a hay bale exhibition, when people create incredibly imaginative sculputes of hay outside their homes. Kooroomba Vineyards & Lavender Farm Set on a rolling hill with lovely spreading views and rows of gorgeous, fragrant purple lavender, you could almost be in Provence. Have a wine tasting and stay for lunch - the food is excellent. Just be warned, it is incredidibly popular on weekends and you'll need to book -often a couple of weeks in advance. Mt Tamborine Come up the mountain on a the second Sunday of the month to experience the local markets. The rich red soil in these parts producers a lot of premium produce, often organically grown, avocados and rhubarb being specialities. Visit the cellar doors, do the rainforest walk on a cantilevered bridge, go to the local distillery or craft brewery, or one of my faves, visit the glow worm cave. Boonah I have a bit of a soft spot for Boonah. It's a friendly, quaint little town. Pack an esky and buy from the local butcher, fill up on fresh fruit and vege from the historic Oppy's Farm produce, pick up some great bread from Arthur Clive bakehouse and stop for lunch at The Dungandan Hotel, where there's always plenty of very cool retro cars to check out.
Episode 78: How to buy a property in France
LISTEN HERE Have you every dreamed about owning a gorgeous country cottage, historic chateau or sophisticated city pad in France? Suzanna Clarke, a New Zealander formerly based in Australia, has made her home in Fez in Morocco, (you may have heard her on epsiode 12 of ExtraVirgin Food & Travel Podcast talking about renovating her home in the medina,) splitting her time between there and France since 2007 when she bought her first apartment in Bordeaux. Having just added to her property portfolio with a sprawling country property in Lot-et-Garonne (which you can rent!) close to the border of the Dordogne and Gironde she's intending to move there with her husband and children soon. In addition to her own properties in France and Morocco, she also manages European properties for other people. In this episode of ExtraVirgin, Natascha talks to Suzanna about the pleasures and pitfalls of property ownership in France. They discuss the best (and worst) value regions, how much you'll actually need to buy something, what to beware of and much more.
Postcard from the Gold Coast, Australia
LISTEN HERE or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts This episode of ExtraVirgin Postcard wings its way to you from the beautiful tourist hotspot of the Gold Coast, on Australia's east coast. Our guest, Karen Inglis runs food tours from her home suburb of Burleigh, so she's perfectly placed to give us all the intel on the best places to eat and drink. Karen also tells us about the Gold Coast's cool green hinterland and its famous beaches, where to go for panoramic views, seafood fresh from the trawler, hidden bars and much more. Here are just some of the places Karen mentions. Gold Coast Food & Wine Tours Osteria del Mare Cauldron Distillery Wildflower Gin Capricorn Distilling La Bella Cellar Peter's Fish So, whether you're looking for destination information, or just armchair travelling, enjoy this postcard from the Gold Coast.
Burnt honey semifreddo with seasonal fruits
Low Tox Life Food by Alexx Stuart (p. 258) Serves 10–12 ¾ cup (185 ml) local honey
600 ml (21 fl oz) organic thin (pouring) cream or coconut cream
8 organic pasture-raised egg yolks
2 organic pasture-raised eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
¼ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg Topping 2 cups (300 g) pitted cherries or your favourite seasonal fruits, chopped*
fresh berries and local edible flowers in season,* to serve
grated or ground nutmeg, to serve Line a 24 cm (9½ inch) cake tin or 11 x 27 x 9 cm (4¼ x 10¾ x 3½ inch) loaf (bar) tin with baking paper (it will mould to the tin better if you scrunch it up well first, then spread it out to line the tin. I use two strips of paper at right angles, to get good coverage and to have plenty to fold over the top). Combine half of the honey and 2½ tablespoons of the cream in a small saucepan and cook on high until the mixture smells super caramelly (almost burnt), about 4 minutes. Pour immediately into a room-temperature bowl to cool. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Place the egg yolks and remaining honey in a medium metal bowl that will sit securely on top of the saucepan without touching the water. Place the bowl over the simmering water and beat with hand-held electric beaters until the mixture is pale, creamy and frothy (taking care not to burn the electrical cord). Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set aside. Pour the remaining cream into a deep medium bowl and beat until thickened but not too stiff. Gently fold the cream and the cooled burnt honey mixture into the beaten egg mixture. Everything should now be in one bowl. Pour into the prepared tin, then cover and freeze for 3 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove the semifreddo from the freezer,* take out of the tin by pulling on the paper, then remove the paper and place the semifreddo on a plate or cake stand. DO NOT PANIC if the paper sticks. Just wait a couple of minutes for the semifreddo to soften, and it will peel off super easily. Scatter the fruit and edible flowers over the top and sprinkle with nutmeg. *Notes: To roast hazelnuts, see the note on page 228. When cherries are out of season, try finely diced pear, sautéed in a pan with a little butter and vanilla bean powder, then cooled to room temperature. For the photo, I used figs, about four. In spring/summer, you could use berries and small locally growing edible flowers such as elderflower. You can keep the semifreddo in the freezer for 3–4 days before serving. Images and text from Low Tox Life Food by Alexx Stuart, photography by Cath Muscat. Murdoch Books RRP $36.99
Episode 77: How to Shop, Cook, Swap, Save and Eat for a Healthy Planet
LISTEN HERE In episode 77 of ExtraVirgin Food & Travel Podcast, Natascha Mirosch talks with "Gentle activist" and Author of "Low Tox Food, How to Shop, Cook, Swap, Save and Eat for a Healthy Planet," Alexx Stuart. They discuss how dietary advice (including the food pyramid model) was hijacked and how many farmers came to depend on unsustainable farming methods. But they also look at the positive changes that are undoing those decades of misinformation and unhealthy growing practices - from regenerative farming to minimising waste and how each one of us can play a part by making even the smallest of changes to how we think about food. What are the best foods to put in your shopping basket for your health and for the planet? Is it necessary to cut out meat or go organic - just a few of the questions Natascha and Alexx discuss. Listen here or download ExtraVirgin Food & Travel at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
The World's Friendliest LGBTIQ+ Destinations
I've not lived the experience of an LGBTIQ+ traveller and it's inconceivable to me in this day and age that they may be treated differently to any other traveller. We can only hope for enlightenment and change, but in the meantime there are still some countries where how you identify can be not just a matter of dealing with everyday prejudice, but be downright dangerous or even illegal. Obviously these are not places where the LGBTIQ+ community want to risk their safety, nor, presumably do they want to contribute their hard-earned cash to those economies. So which countries should be on the LGBTIQ+ blacklist? According to a report by Asher Fergusson, Erin Smith and Lyric Fergusson, who studied criteria such as whether countries recognised same-sex marriage; had protection in the workplace for LGBTIQ+ people, allowed same sex couples to adopt, as well as whether LGBITQ+ people in those countries considered it a good place to live, Nigeria rates as the worst, bottoming out at 60th on the list. The study notes that being homosexual in Nigeria can result in 14 years imprisonment or even death if sentenced under Sharia law. (pic: Teddy Osterblom - Unsplash) Among the lowest ranked countries, were a couple of surprises for me - Malaysia and Jamaica. I've visited the first and thought it a fairly liberal Asian country, however apparently laws there could see LBGTIQ+ folk subjected to 20 years in prison, or a whipping. In Jamaica, there's still a law on 'buggery' left over from its colonial days that could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years with hard labour. I was also surprised to Malawi rating so low, having visited that African country and finding the people among the warmest and kindest on the continent. (But then a government or its laws is not always representative of its people.. right?) So where are the safest places for LGBTIQ+ travellers? Heading up the list, unsurprisingly, given its sterling reputation in human rights is Canada. Below is the top 10 BEST list (FYI - The United States is at number 20, Australia at 14 and New Zealand at 16): 1. Canada 2. Netherlands 3. Sweden 4. Malta 5. Portugal
6. Belgium 7. UK 8. Spain 9. Uruguay 10. Norway WORST 10 List 160. Nigeria 159. Saudi Arabia 158. Malaysia 157. Malawi 156. Oman 155. Jamaica 154. Myanmar 153. Qatar 152. UAE 151. Yemen If you're interested in reading more in depth, the full report can be found here: I'd love to know, if you identify as LBGTIQ+ whether you agree with this list or you've had personal experiences, either positive or negative with any of the countries on it.
Postcard from Noosa, Australia
LISTEN HERE It's one of Australia's most loved holiday destinations - for good reason. Noosa in Queensland, Australia, is home to some of the country's most unspoiled coastal landscapes, with forest-fringed beaches, tranquil rivers and even one of only two everglade systems in the world. This postcard comes from Deb Caruso, editor of In Noosa and Hello Sunshine Magazines, who's called Noosa home for around 20 years. Deb leads us by the hand and give us a really thorough virtual tour of Noosa, sharing her deep knowledge of this beautiful region, gained from not just publishing magazines about it, but living it. Deb tells us where to catch the best waves, and where to top up your all-over tan, as well giving us all her favourite, drinking, eating and sunset viewing spots. You'll definitely want to have a listen yourself and takes some notes for future visits, especially all her eating and drinking recommmendations. Some of Deb's tips include: FACTS: Noosa is: Queensland’s first Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program Committed to the environment with almost 40% of the shire protected in national parks, conservation parks, state forests, lakes and systems as well as initiatives including "PlasticFree Noosa", ZEN (Zero Emissions Noosa) and 'Trees for Tourism.' The 10th World Surfing Reserve with a 5km stretch of waves including 5 world class point breaks and 3 consistent beach breaks. Home to one of only two everglades on earth and the only everglades you can swim in (the other is in Florida, USA and has alligators!). The Noosa Everglades are 60km long with more than 40% or Australia’s bird species and 65% of it is National Park. Home to about 60,000 residents with around 2 million visitors every year. A place of stunning beaches and lush, green hinterlands with beautiful mountains perfect for hiking. Home to the Majestic Theatre, the world’s longest running silent movie theatre which is still in operation. Home to the largest Slow Food community as part of the Slow Food global network. Full of amazing local artists from painters to potters, sculptors to sketchers . Tips Live like a local and rise early and get to bed early Visit the Noosa Farmer’s Market to experience locally grown foods and artisan creations Book a tour of the plethora craft breweries and distilleries Find where to eat and drink with Eat Local Noosa Catch the free Go Noosa bus loop during school holidays Cruise the river on the Noosa Ferry Hire an electric bike to get around easier Noosa country villages Where you can be “King of the Mountain.” Where to find the Fairy Pools The best galleries for art lovers Download and listen for much more. Pic: Tourism Events QLD
Episode 76: So you want to be a food writer? Here's how.
LISTEN HERE Do you want to be a food writer? Do you think you have what it takes to have your food stories published in magazines or newspapers? Or, perhaps you’re an instagrammer or blogger keen to polish your food writing skills? In this episode of ExtraVirgin Food and Travel Podcast, Natascha Mirosch talks to Barbara Sweeney, a veteran food writer, former food guide editor, writing teacher and organiser of Australia’s only food writing festival, 'Food & Words.' We discuss everything from how to pitch to an editor, how to be a better writer, restaurant reviewing and other food writing genres, and even what you might expect to be paid as a professional freelance food writer. If you're serious about wanting to be part of the wonderful world of food writing, you'll want to grab a pen and paper, or have your finger poised at the keyboard for note-taking, as Barbara generously shares all the tips and tricks she's learned along the way. I hope you enjoy this episode.