Salted Caramel Almond Popcorn

Sydney turned on the sunshine this weekend, it almost feels like we might have seen the worst of winter. Here's hoping. I had a weekend filled with catching up with friends (we were treated to this restaurant for a belated 30th birthday present), and family. Late Sunday afternoon involved popcorn, caramel and almonds -three of my favourite things. I have been meaning to make this indulgent snack ever since I spotted it over on Martha's website. Being a true fan of the sweet and savoury combo, it seriously didn't disappoint. Those of you who are calorie counters, look away immediately. I've decided to take the bulk of this batch to work tomorrow, to share the love and calories around. I hope you all had a great weekend.
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups raw almonds
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 120°. Butter two baking sheets; set aside. Place corn kernels and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; cover. Once kernels begin to pop, shake pot frequently; when popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops, remove from heat; uncover. Transfer to a large bowl. Add almonds; toss.
Cook sugar, butter and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until it reaches approx 120°. Remove from heat. Stir in extracts, salt, and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture; toss to coat, Divide between prepared sheets. Bake, stirring occasionally for 1 hour 2o minutes. Enjoy.


An ugly job

I had a chuckle to myself tonight while sorting through iPhoto when I came across these two photos from nearly two years ago. When I explain to people what I do for a living, the response is often 'Oh wow, that's exciting'. 90% of the time it honestly is pretty fab. Then there are the 'hiccup' jobs like the one above that takes me to a very dark place/memory. 6 weeks in a cold factory out west creating a 200 page catalogue for a client that will remain anonymous. But, do you know what? I wouldn't take the experience back. I learnt so much in that six weeks, working with an old-school photographer and a client that was truly passionate about wanting packs of frozen peas to look 'luscious'. The moral of my post? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger....or at least gives you a laugh two years later.
- Briar


The sun came out

Four things that made me smile this weekend: 1. $3.00 cupcakes for my step dads birthday from the local vietnamese bakery (check out that icing). 2. Picking fresh herbs from our mini garden with my nephew once the rain (!!) had stopped. 3. A dinner party on Saturday night at a lovely apartment in Camperdown where we were served personalised chicken pies and poached pears. 4. Downloading all my photos from the weekend, which also brought a smile to my husbands face - even with a case of the man flu. Seriously, I feel like half of Sydney is sick at the moment...I hope you all stayed warm and dry.


The cover you helped create

Some of you may remember me asking a quick question regarding a perfect space to call your own back in May. Your feedback was wonderful, and really helped me pull together ideas for my Real Living shoot. I'm heavily entrenched in the film I'm working on at the moment, so it was a pleasant surprise to spot the cover I styled (and spread) in the latest issue. I really like the colour combo that was chosen for the masthead too, don't you? The favourite item I pulled for the whole shoot was the big Junction Woven Cushion from Citta Design (in fact, the winter collection from Citta is all rather lovely). Photography by Chris Warne.


Freckle in the Living Room

Just when I thought I was done with colour in our living room, last week I went and splurged on the Little Lamb Freckle Rug from Down To The Woods. I've seen them pop up in lots of children's spaces lately - but I figure grown ups should be kids sometimes too. I hope you all had a great weekend, mine was a fairly quiet one spent indoors with tea...and a little chocolate.
- Briar


Fancy Pants Salmon

The photo above from last Saturday night comes with a little disclaimer,* and I also need to apologise for the photography - as it tasted/looked so much better than it does here. The recipe below that embraces one of my favourite ever flavours - lime is from the Gourmet Traveller July issue.

Poached salmon with fennel and lime beurre blanc
Note: the original recipe called for trout - we switched it to salmon, and we toned down the butter quantities listed below.
Prep time 30 mins, cook 30 mins. Serves 4-6
750ml dry white
1/2 onion sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
6 white peppercorns
1 (800gm) salmon fillet. halved
1 bunch each baby turnips and baby carrots, trimmed and halved
2 baby fennel, trimmed, cut into wedges, fonds reserved
20 gm butter
1/4 cup loosely packed chervil sprigs, to serve
Lime beurre blanc ingredients
60ml dry white wine
1/4 cup lime juices, plus lime wedges to serve
2 golden shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp pouring cream
225 gm butter, at room temperature, diced.
1. Bring wine, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and 2 litres water to the boil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Season to taste with sea salt, add fish, remove from heat and stand until cooked to your liking (10-12 minutes for medium-rare).
2. Meanwhile, blanch baby vegetables until tender (2-4 minutes), then refresh and drain well. Heat butter in a wide saucepan over high heat, add baby vegetables, cook until warmed through (2-4 minutes), season to taste and keep warm.
3. For lime buerre blanc, simmer wine, lime juice and shallots in a saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 80ml (5-10 minutes). Add then reduce heat to very low and add butter a little at a time, whisking continuously, until incorporated. To serve, spoon vegetables and reserved fennel fronds onto plates, top with fish, scatter with chevril and spoon over lime beurre blanc. Serve hot with extra sauce and lime wedges to the side.

* There is no way in hell I could pull this dish off successfully. I have my lovely husband to thank for this one - I literally opened the magazine, saw a recipe I liked and said 'I want that one' (a bit Little Britain), and two hours later...bam, there it was to be inhaled. Thanks Stanz.
- Briar



Our kitchen pantry received a posh make over this week...pictured above is the contents of a Bockers & Pony hamper that arrived as a gift from good friends. Check out the big range of hampers on the website, there are some nice ideas if you aren't in the mood for sending flowers. Giving gifts can be just as fun as receiving them, don't you think? A beautiful new baby girl born on Thursday called for a little splurge, including delivering a cardi/beanie set my Mum knitted for the little one. And...my gift to all of you? Try the salted caramel gelato from Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst when you get a chance. I was lucky enough to this afternoon, and holy moly, it was fiiiine...


On the road

I frequently get asked what my day to day job entails, so I thought you might like to see what I got up to today (not including the very average sandwich I had for lunch - one of the pitfalls of a job on the road).

First stop was a visit to my favourite upholsterer for a quote - Firmino from Europa Upholstery in Hurlstone Park. I like how he has decorated his ancient little hole in the wall.

I really like his aged and faded window displaying past work - as you can see, Firmino knows his way around a Chesterfield lounge.

Driving through Dulwich Hill, (read more about the fab suburb on this lovely blog), I visited Brady's - great for a bargain, and sometimes a surprising antique.

While in the area, I dropped in to The Bower in Marrickville - you never know what might have turned up that morning. I have mentioned this treasure trove before here.

On the way to Bunnings, I stopped at an oldie but a goodie...I end up visiting Doug Up on Bourke every second week usually - Craig and Sophie are very 'film friendly', so it's great for hiring all sorts of things.

I could spend hours in Bunnings - truly a place for inspiration if you slow down and wander. I couldn't today, I was actually there to check out letterboxes and drain pipes (not the best range, I'm afraid).

Before heading back to the office to churn through paperwork for the rest of the afternoon, it was a quick visit to No Chintz for some pretty fabric samples. I hope you are all having a good week.


Mad Mex Weekend

The folks at Old El Paso must be shaking in their boots with all the new Mexican eateries that have popped up around Sydney lately. We lunched in the courtyard at the Norfolk Hotel in Surry Hills today - and their $5.50 soft shell tacos are amazing, as is the Bloody Mary in a can (or so I'm told, I've never truly appreciated the alcohol and tomato juice combo). The day before, our courtyard was accidentally 'mexified' for a BBQ with my guacamole, cactus and colourful garlands picked up for $2.50 from this shop in Chinatown. On another note, go and see the movie Bridesmaids, I went today and have not laughed that hard in a long time. So ridiculous, it's just brilliant. I hope you all had a lovely weekend too.


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