Nearly everything that has happened since I started The Hungry Australian in mid 2011 has been a welcome surprise. But nothing has been quite as surprising (astonishing?) as finding out on Wednesday that I'd won the Australian Best Blogs 2014 competition organised by the Australian Writers' Centre (AWC).
A huge thank you to AWC national director Valerie Khoo, judge Carli Ratcliff and everyone else at the AWC who worked on these awards. Thank you also to competition sponsors Trafalgar and Random House. I'm so excited about all the fantastic prizes I've won. You have collectively made my day, week, month and year!
Nowadays, I'm a slashie: I'm a writer/photographer/recipe developer/food stylist/consultant/blogger. Everything that I do on this blog I now do for my clients, depending on what's required. Turns out having an eternally curious mind (short attention span) and a broad range of skills (could never do just one thing) are good things in this new, digital economy. But I am a writer first and foremost because it's something I have to do, regardless of whether anyone is reading. So winning this writing-focused competition is especially meaningful to me.
Now following in the footsteps of the three previous competition winners -- Cook Republic (2013), Edenland (2012) and Styling You (2011) -- is a tremendous honour but it is also somewhat intimidating. However, I've come to realise that the best way I can honour the judges' decision is to continue doing what I've always done, which is to blog the stories that mean something to me and that hopefully resonate with readers, too.
So you won't be seeing any dramatic changes in terms of content on The Hungry Australian: I'll continue sharing my own recipes, stories about myself, my family and friends, and write-ups of exceptional travel and dining experiences. I will buy a new camera lens and some props I've been eyeing for some time but that's about as far as it goes.
Now while blogging itself is a solitary occupation I wouldn't be the blogger I am today if it wasn't for the support, help and love of family and friends.
Thank you to ...
My friend, Kerina, who suggested that I start a blog. To which I replied, "What's a blog?"
My parents, who still aren't quite sure what I do, but who support me in too many ways to count, and who look after my kids so well every time I take off on a work/media trip.
My kids, who keep me grounded and make me laugh every single day.
My brother, who helps out with computer stuff and rolls his eyes when I talk.
My ex husband, who let me share some of our stories and a few of his recipes here.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you for reading The Hungry Australian and allowing me into your life. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for subscribing. Thank you for sharing my blog via your likes, shares, re-blogs, re-tweets and pins. Thank you for reaching out to me. Thank you for sharing your own stories and anecdotes with me.
Here's to a delicious life!!
Layered Pavlova with Pomegranate and Flowers
I know there has been a glut of desserts on The Hungry Australian lately but I just had to bake a cake to celebrate this award. After considering several ideas, I decided to do a version of Pavlova, my favourite Australian dessert. I've previously blogged a Raspberry and Pomegranate Layered Pavlova recipe and this is the same recipe with some minor adjustments. It was a bit of work to prep the flowers but a special occasion calls for a special cake.
- 10 egg whites
- Large pinch salt
- 2.5 cups sugar
- 5 teaspoons corn flour
- 2.5 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract
- 725 mls thickened cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- 2 large pomegranates, seeds only
- Assorted flowers to decorate
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Line three baking trays with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on each.
- Wipe mixing bowl with vinegar and then beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form.
- Add sugar in five batches (1/2 cup at a team), beating thoroughly between each addition until meringue is thick and shiny. Try holding the bowl upside down - if the meringue doesn't move, it's thick enough!
- Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract and gently fold in.
- Divide mixture equally between three baking trays and spread gently to fill in the circle shape (an offset spatula is great for this). Smooth the top and the sides.
- Place the trays in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 120 degrees Celsius. Bake pavlovas for 90 minutes and then turn off heat, leaving them to cool in the oven.
- When ready to assemble, whip cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract.
- Take one pavlova and spread with a third of the cream, leaving a 2 cm gap around the edge. Decorate with 1/3 of the pomegranate seeds and then repeat with a second layer.
- Place the final pavlova on top and cover with cream.
- Decorate the top layer with fresh flowers as prepared below and half of the remaining pomegranate seeds.
- I suggest you read my previous Raspberry and Pomegranate Layered Pavlova recipe before you begin this one for some extra assembly tips.
- Fresh flowers are not food safe unless they have been organically grown and are free of pesticides. And some flowers are poisonous and/or dangerous for human consumption even if they have been grown organically. So unless you are certain of the flower type and its source it's best to prepare all flowers with a barrier between the flowers and the cake.
- Gently wash and leave flowers to air dry. Work out where you want to place the flowers and then cut stems accordingly.
- If inserting the flowers into the cake, wrap the stem completely in florist tape (available from florists, naturally) before inserting the wrapped stem into the cake.
- For flowers that will be placed onto the cake, place small and unobtrusive discs of cling wrap on top of the cake before you carefully place the flowers on top.
- To insert flower stems into pavlova, use a sharp knife to pierce the cling wrap to make a hole and then insert the flower through.
- To serve, remove the flowers and cling wrap and then scatter the top of the pavlova with the remaining pomegranate seeds.
My favourite posts
Some of you have been reading The Hungry Australian from the very beginning, some of you joined in along the way and some of you are no doubt new readers, curious to see what all the fuss is about. For new readers, here's a selection of my favourite posts. I've love to redo some of the photography and food styling but these are the stories I like best.
Posts about family
- Cockling at Goolwa Beach
- My Grandmother's Penang Assam Laksa
- Thai Prawn Salad
- Red Bean Soup
- The Smelly Cheese Shop Cheese Appreciation Class
- Collingrove Homestead
- A birthday cake for my brother
Posts with a recipe
- Sponge Cake with Berries and Cherries
- Anne of Green Gables and an Upside Down Plum Cake
- Messy Pavlova or Eton Mess Down Under Style
- Mini Chilli and Caramelised Onion Jam Tarts
- Red Lentil Dahl for a rainy day
- Mini Trifles, Robert Frost and new beginnings
- Bruschetta with Quail Egg, Truffle Paste and Asparagus
Posts about exceptional travel and dining experiences
- Exploring Dubai: Spices, Gold, Diamonds, Fruit and Vegetables
- Discovering Tasmania: Kate's Berry Farm, Palate at Saffire Freycinet, Freycinet Lodge, Freycinet National Park and Freycinet Marine Farm
- Hamilton Island Race Week, Kylie Kwong Lunch and Shannon Bennet (Vue de Monde) Dinner
- Discovering Queensland's Food Producers at South Bank's Regional Flavours Festival
- Duncan's Dungeon: First Froots dinner with Duncan Welgemoed (Bistro Dom) at Lola's Pergola
Posts about blogging
- How to blog about food: 8 tips for new, emerging and aspiring food bloggers
- Bloggers and brands: why we're (mostly) doing it wrong
- The business of food styling, a Denise Vivaldo workshop and 12 tips for aspiring food stylists
- Where to next for Eat Drink Blog, the Australian Food Bloggers Conference?
- Eat Drink Blog 2: the Australian Food Bloggers Conference. A write up of the 2011 conference.
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