Cookbooks with an eye for seasonal produce and homestyle recipes are often attempted but rarely brilliant. One of my all-time favourites is Maggie Beer’s Maggie’s Kitchen, with more than 120 recipes. Beer’s food is creative and inspiring. Some of the recipes take forethought and some are quick solutions to feeding friends and family. A recent release that caught my attention is The Food Clock, by Ed Halmagyi. It’s based around a year in the life of fictional gardener Henri Petit-Pois. Halmagyi’s narrative begins with Henri’s weekly trip to the market and his discovery of an unusual clock. The clever tale weaves its way around easy-to-achieve recipes such as peach and croissant pudding, grilled trout with fennel remoulade, gardener’s ratatouille, grilled quail with pepper and rosemary and ends with a magical cherry pie.
We’re giving away a copy of Maggie’s Kitchen by Maggie Beer, Lantern, $59.95; and The Food Clock by Ed Halmagyi, Harper Collins, $39.99.
My hand mixer was one of the first kitchen appliances I bought. I think it cost about $20, almost as many years ago. But, after testing this smart nail-lacquer-red Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus nine-speed hand mixer, I think it might be time to retire the old girl. The Cuisinart also features a chef’s whisk, dough hooks and a spatula that fit neatly with the beaters into a case that snaps onto the bottom of the unit.
The nine speeds, operated by a 220-watt motor, include three low-mixing speeds and build slowly to avoid spatters.
The blender rests neatly on its heel and there’s a one-step switch and digital speed display as you whizz it up the highest power setting.
We’re giving away a red Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus nine-speed hand mixer, $129.
Are you mad for pinot noir? Does the thought of spending three-plus hours tasting, discussing and learning about this glorious grape variety give you chills? Me too. I’m putting October 21 in my diary. Pinot Palooza, “the tasting festival for people who think pinot noir rocks”, will be launched in Melbourne next month. More than 120 pinot noirs from many of the top producers in Australia and New Zealand will be available for tasting, presented by their passionate makers. There will be entertainment and a selection of food to complement this divine drop on offer too. For uncompromising pinotphiles, there’s also an inner sanctum where wine educator Dan Sims and wine writer Ben Edwards will host 45-minute masterclasses revealing the finer points of this distinguished drop. Pinot Palooza will be held at Ormond Hall, 557 St Kilda Road, Prahran, on Sunday, October 21. Tickets $60. Tasting sessions 11.30am-3pm; 4-7.30pm.
We’re giving away a double pass to Pinot Palooza, a six-pack of Giesen The Brothers Pinot Noir, plus two Riedel Extreme Pinot Noir glasses, valued at $360.
I can think of a food colour that matches every handle (OK, except for the blue) – beans, cucumbers, capsicums, lemons, tomatoes, eggplants, grapes, oranges – in this stunning Laguiole Debutant cutlery set. And I can picture them all together in a fabulous summer meal on a garden table under a shady tree. Laguiole French cutlery was first made in the 1850s. Today, it is hand-crafted by specialist company André Verdier, and each mirror-polished stainless-steel blade is attached to a high-quality resin handle that is dishwasher safe. Each piece features five stainless-steel rivets, in keeping with the original design, and the mark of authenticity, the Laguiole bee. Traditional colours include ivory, black and red, but the gorgeous six-colour Debutant set is sure to become a modern classic. For stockists: 1800 650 601.
We’re giving away a 24-piece Laguiole Deutant cutlery set, $295.
Trentham Tucker began as a boutique bakery in the central Victorian town of the same name more than 25 years ago. Now the range, baked in Richmond and available in a wide range of food outlets, has been revamped to include a selection of modern and traditional treats. We sampled the Italian selection and were impressed by the quality of the gourmet fruit and nut cake, filled with a dense selection of dried fruit and topped with richly glazed walnuts and brazil nuts. The dark-chocolate panforte cake was chewy and full of luscious figs and spice, while the crispbread – available in a variety of flavours – was airy, delicate and filled with first-class ingredients. There’s also a range of Christmas products due for release later this year.
We’re giving away a Trentham Tucker goodies box filled with treats including Siena panforte cake, dark-chocolate panforte cake, a selection of crispbread and gourmet fruit and nut cake, $100.