It’s impossible to ignore the buzz around Kate & Kate, the business founded by sisters-in-law Kate Pascoe Squires (also known as Sydney Kate!) and Kate Pascoe (Melbourne Kate!) last year. Their cotton blankets and throws in timeless stripes, geometric patterns and fashionable colours have appeared in numerous magazines and are stocked in boutiques around the country. Today is your chance to shop their collection here on T&W, and to hear the story behind the brand…

Did the idea of working together come about over time (we’re imagining family Christmases) or was it a lightning bolt moment? 

It was definitely a lightning bolt moment.  We were actually working on developing totally separate and very different business concepts when we met our manufacturers.  Completely by chance.  It took us just a couple of minutes to drop our other plans – deciding on the spot that we would go into business together and blankets would be our thing.

Your blankets and throws are generously sized and you describe them as made with ‘big love’. Did this idea arise out of your range for kids and babies? 

I think the idea of ‘big love’ came out of the comfort and care we hope all our blankets provide… whether it be to babies, children, teens or adults… you name it.  We love the idea of people wrapping themselves up in Kate & Kate blankets and, with that, comes the ‘big love’ part.

Are you on same page aesthetically? How does the creative process between you work?

We certainly are.  For years, we have accidentally purchased matching outfits, items for the home… you name it.  Knowing this, the decision to work together in a creative space was less daunting.  The creative process between us is very organic.  We constantly send each other images that inspire us.  We then get together to create mood boards and the design process goes from there.  Neither of us is classically trained as designers, so this is the only way we know how!

Since you work in different cities, we imagine email & online is a vital part of the process.  Do you have secret Pinterest boards packed with inspiration, or do you find another way to share?  

We share folders via iCloud that are jam packed with images that inspire.  It’s the easiest way for us to share inspiration on the spot.

Your colour combinations and patterns have become instant stylists’s favourites and your blankets and throws been featured in lots of mags. What drives your designs?

Our designs are certainly fashion driven and we aim for an aesthetically pleasing combination of colour and pattern.  There are very clear benchmarks for any design we put to market… we are always asking ourselves ‘where would this sit in the home’, ‘who would this appeal to’, ‘what emotion does this design evoke’?  Of course, our designs are very much driven by our personal aesthetic, but as our business grows, we can’t help but be particularly mindful of what will appeal to the Kate & Kate customer.  We also give some thought to how our designs will sit with our retailers as well.  The blanket is always part of a story and we try to keep that top of mind too.

Your blankets are made in India. How important are your relationships there, and what have you learned from the makers? 

Our manufacturers are everything.  They are incredibly skilled and to see them at work is such a joy.  It makes us so proud to be able to work with such talented makers.  We have learnt everything from these people – without them, there would be no Kate & Kate.

What’s next for Kate & Kate? Can you see yourselves moving into new territory?

Absolutely.  We have some really exciting new products to introduce in February and we can’t wait.  Kate & Kate is all about blankets – and we want to stay true to that – but we feel as though there are many things that can come under that umbrella.  Stay tuned!

Quick fire questions:

Favourite Sydney beach:  Bronte.
Dream collaborator:
  Marsha Golemac  (coming soon!)
Most visited Melbourne café:
Combi in Elwood
Fashion icon:
Helena Christensen.
First jobs:
  Kate Pascoe Squires – McDonalds.  Kate Pascoe – Waitress at The Pantry

Portrait by Brooke Holm & Marsha Golemac. Blanket images by Francoise Baudet, styled by Megan Morton.

Shop for Kate & Kate cotton blankets and throws today.

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Karen talked to Murchison-Hume co-founder Max Kater, pictured above in her LA office, about how their brand new new candle range came about. Shop for candles (and your favourite products) in today’s sale event.

Candles are a crowded sector of the market – what made Murchison-Hume decide to go there?

I know, right? We resisted for ages because we thought that there were so many candles already out there. But our customers kept asking us for them and we do what we’re told!

Luckily, they’ve been hugely popular both at home in Australia and here in the States. We can’t pour them fast enough at the moment. I think people are really into our signature fragrances and that’s what scented candles are all about, really.

The planet-based, eco cleaning products have a strong sense of authenticity. How does this manifest in the candle range?

At Murchison-Hume, if we can’t do a product better than our competition, we don’t do it at all. We’ve held our candles to that same high standard because that’s what our customers expect from us. Our candles employ a proprietary, soy-blend wax composition that holds together and can still throw a scent just as well as any paraffin candle out there.

What was the process of creating the candles and the fragrances?

We didn’t leave anything to chance and went straight to the best in the business. I trained with one of the most famous candle makers in Los Angeles. He designs candles for some of the biggest brands out there. Fragrance, wax composition and “throw” are the most important factors in a candle build. We customised all three.

Australian White Grapefruit and Mediterranean Fig are two of the fragrances – what are the others – and what inspired these particular choices?

We were lucky in that we already had two popular fragrances although we had to tweak our Original Fig fragrance for the candles because it was too light in wax. I think when you light a candle; you really want it to smell! With expert supervision, I was able to confidently add a new Gooseberry scent to our stable (which is everyone’s favourite in the office right now). Going through the process was arduous; a bit like learning a new language, but it taught me how to build a great candle and I was involved in every step, so now I can legitimately add, “candle maker” to my skill set!

The amber glass links it visually with the existing brand. Was that a given or did you experiment with other types of vessel?

We never even considered changing it from amber tinted glass. It has become so much a part of the Murchison-Hume aesthetic. I love glass. It’s durable, practical and you can re-use it as a chic little vase!

The Murchison-Hume products have made the crossover from something hidden to something displayed. Was it fun to work on something that you knew from the outset people would be proud to show in their homes?

Ah, Karen, you flatter me. I’d love to say that it was all part of some brilliant long-term strategy! But to be perfectly honest, I just designed bottles that I thought were handsome and fit well together under (or over) the sink. I am still constantly charmed by how much people love our packaging!

In the USA the idea of the hostess gift is big. Do you see your candle as part of that small-scale gift-giving scenario? And do you think we have a way to go with this in Australia?

I don’t know that the idea of a hostess gift is all that strange to Australians. It’s probably just the term that’s a bit foreign to ears here. We Americans tend to be very literal! My Australian tribe would never show up to someone’s house for dinner empty-handed. But yes, we definitely see the candles as the perfect addition to the traditional bottle. And will undoubtedly last a lot longer, too!

I like that your blog ‘The Practical Aesthete’ marries your worlds of beauty and utility. Will we be seeing more of the ‘beauty’ side from Murchison-Hume, as well as more utility?

Absolutely! We have some pretty exciting irons in development fire at the moment. I am really looking forward to flexing my old beauty editor’s muscles again. With offices in both Sydney and Los Angeles, we have amazing access to some of the best people and products in the industry. When we finally dip our toes into the beauty pool next year, we’ll start with the best and do it better than anyone else out there. We’ve been very careful about our expansion, but I promise, it will be worth the wait!

 Shop our Murchison-Hume collection today.

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We are big fans of Home Beautiful magazine’s relaxed, pretty style, so we’re very excited to feature Editor Wendy Moore today! Here she shares her own Christmas plans, along with some of her favourite images from the Christmas issue of the magazine. She has also shopped Temple & Webster to find her favourite products, and you can find these in the special Wendy Moore Collection sale event.

My Christmas style is: 

Simple, Australian, and easy to carry! My whole family heads to our holiday house on the Hawkesbury River, it’s a logistics feat every year. Everything – gifts, food and luggage has to fit in the car, then transfer to a boat, then off and up 86 stairs to the house. My sister is a florist, and she always makes a beautiful centrepiece for the table using the Christmas bush and the natives around the house. It’s always lovely.

This year I’ll be buying:

Lots and lots of kids’ stuff! My mother spends a day taking care of our girls, so my husband and I can do a day of secret shopping – we both love it. I guess I’ll be buying Peppa Pig and Angelina Ballerina! I always have fun shopping for my three sisters though, for every gift I give them; there is always a part of me that wishes I bought another for myself!

My failsafe Christmas styling tip is:

Keep the table simple and uncluttered; the food will become your decoration. The centerpiece should be low so conversation can flow easily over it, and I like a little personal place setting. One year I collected wooden scrabble tiles, drilled a hole in them and made a simple wine glass tag with an initial for each person, we still use them now.

This Christmas I’ll be serving :

To be absolutely honest, I always cook something from the Christmas issue of Home Beautiful. I often get to watch our food economist, Kerry Worner, cook it at the shoot – so I’ve already seen how simple it actually is. This year I’m tossing up between the Cranberry and rum fruit mince tarts and the Mango, lychee and blueberry pavlova. I don’t think my budget will stretch to making the Lobster tails with tarragon, shallot and vermouth butter – not when there are more than 25 of us in total!

My Christmas playlist includes:

I just go for the classics – who can go past a bit of Bing on Christmas day? Mix in some Dean Martin, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald and everything is right in the world.

All I want for Christmas is:

A holiday! I want days and days with my husband and children with no plans whatsoever.

My biggest Christmas disaster was:

I remember getting a brand new fishing rod as a kid and promptly dropping it into the river within a couple of days. Never to be recovered!

After Christmas I’m planning to:

Disappear somewhere on the South Coast of NSW, finally get back on my surfboard, and make no further plans for a couple of weeks!

The Christmas issue of Home Beautiful is available now, or subscribe and never miss an issue. Hint – a subscription makes a great gift, too!

Shop the Wendy Moore Collection today.

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As the owner of Garden Life in Sydney’s Redfern, Richard Unsworth has designed and advised on countless inner city gardens and is adept at making the most of small spaces. Here he shares some advice in an extract from his new book Garden Life. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy – full details are below. 

Our gardens and outdoor spaces are becoming smaller as more and more of us are living in the inner city where, if we have a garden at all, it is a small courtyard or balcony. Small spaces are very unforgiving, because everything is on show all at once. In a larger garden, the odd plant that is sick or not performing can be hidden by healthier, flourishing specimens. On a balcony one dead plant will stick out like dog’s balls; there is no room for error, or plants that don’t perform, or something that clashes or is the wrong shape or size.

So how do you approach small space garden design? What techniques can you employ to transform a harsh space into a verdant, restful and stylish retreat?

The laser-cut Geo screening diffuses the car space and provides a backdrop to a lush corner containing giant bird of paradise, Aeonium, jade and giant mondo grass.

CREATING VERTICAL SPACE

When you have limited floor space it is essential to consider what vertical space is available. It might be at either end of a balcony, a garden fence or just the side of a building.

I bought these beautifully detailed Turkish tiles and used them as the focal point in this leafy Paddington courtyard.

Climbing plants

One solution is climbing plants, but beware as I have seen far too many failed climbers in pots. If you are going to use pots, make sure you choose large ones with reliable irrigation. Climbing plants will often grow well at first, then dry out as they become pot bound, making the entire wall look dead.  To avoid this happening, be prepared to re-pot them every few years, and make sure they are kept-watered.

Star Jasmine has always been a great climber for a sunny wall, and it will grow wherever there is a support. The self supporting Boston Ivy on a render boundary or house wall is very stylish and looks terrific in winter when the stems are bare.  We use Creeping Fig a lot as it is a versatile climber, which will blanket ugly fences or harsh walls (no wires required) and grow in full sun or shade. It will need clipping four times a year to stop it becoming overgrown (it has a bad name for this)

Olive, resplendent in front of the composition of Indian jali screens and wall-mounted foliage.

Screens

Consider installing a screen on the wall as a feature, or for privacy. There are a plethora of laser-cut screens now available in many different styles and finishes, so you should be able to find something you like, whether it is a screen with an earthy, finish or a slick, powder-coated colour that will blend with an interior colour scheme.

I love using our Indian jali screens to create a patchwork pattern on slick rendered walls. We bring them in from Rajasthan, and they are full of character, warmth and history. They work in both a classic and contemporary space; it all depends on how they are configured on a wall. Old Indian doors can also add weight and warmth in the right space, it is just a question of personal taste and what you are drawn towards. You can also use the plants themselves to create a screen.

Faux bamboo sofa underneath hanging planters filled with epiphyllum.

Hanging pots

Hanging pots are useful in tight corners and other hard-to-plant areas and can easily liven up a small space.

Painted fences

A good solution for making new timber fences look more attractive is to paint them a dark colour and grow a climber up them (depending on the light conditions). Dark colours help green to stand out, so don’t be afraid to use something like charcoal – it will help make your boundary fence really disappear and show off your foliage.

The linear form and precise placement of the sandstone make the tiny space seem much larger.

Quickfire questions

My favourite gardening culture is incorporating edibles into our own gardens – so we can make fresh mint tea, or pick thyme for a roast chicken.
I would never tolerate Philodendron xanadu in my garden.
The first plant I ever loved was trailing lobelia.
The garden colour combination I can’t abide is red, orange and golden yellow
The best garden in Australia is Retford Park in Bowral.

Garden Life (order your copy here) by Richard Unsworth, photography by Nicholas Watt, is published by Penguin/Lantern (RRP $49.99).

Leave a comment below before 5pm (AEDT) Friday 28 November 2014 to win a copy of Garden Life by Richard UnsworthYou must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 5 December 2014. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner.

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The wonderful Maggie Beer is well-known for her no-fuss approach to delicious home cooking. Many of her products have a cult following (have you tried her ice cream?!) which is why we’re so pleased to feature a selection of her hampers and much-loved cookbooks in today’s sale event. 

We asked Maggie to share some Christmas cooking advice, along with two classic festive recipes. Merry Christmas!

This Christmas I’ll be serving:
Fresh oysters with a verjuice vinaigrette and a glass of sparkling
Christmas salad
Roast goose with apple, onion and sage stuffing
Apple Aioli
My Christmas pudding and brandy butter sauce
Sparkling ruby cabernet jelly set with cherries

My favourite food at Christmas is: the abundance of fresh, ripe locally grown stone fruit; peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries – wonderful.

My biggest Christmas indulgence is: very good champagne

My biggest Christmas disaster was: relying on our dam for yabbies before I knew how hit and miss each season is!

The best advice I can give to the Christmas cook is: be organised ahead of time, it makes every difference to how relaxed you are on the day. No one likes a stressed host!

My Christmas playlist includes: Opera, opera and more opera!

After Christmas I’m planning to: relax. Of course I say that every year but there’s always the next meal to think about!

Quince Glazed Ham

Ingredients

5.5kg ham on the bone
1/2 cup Maggie Beer Quince Glaze
1/4 cup seeded mustard
1 cup water

Method

Pre heat oven to 240–250C (or as hot as your oven will go).

To remove the skin from the ham, make a small cut just through the skin around the knuckle of the ham, then by using your fingers, push them between the skin and the fat and use the other hand to peel back the skin, then gently work your way from the top of the ham down to the knuckle.

Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the ham just through to the fat creating a diamond pattern.

Place the ham onto a lined baking tray with a trivet and pour the water onto the tray, this will prevent the juices from burning.

Place the quince glaze and mustard into a mixing bowl. Mix well, smother over ham.

Place into the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes to achieve a good burnish.

Remove from the oven and carve at the table.

Fruit mince tartlets

Ingredients

60g flaked almonds
3 granny smith apples
1/3 cup Verjuice
200g seedless raisins
200g Dried Moorepark Apricots
100g dried figs
200g sultanas
250g currant
150g dried cumquat slices
100g mixed peel
1 orange
1 lemon
200g brown sugar
2 tblspn honey
2 tspn mixed spice
1 tspn nutmeg freshly grated
150ml cumquat liqueur
175g unsalted butter

For pastry:

150g unsalted butter chilled
225g unbleached plain flour
75g self-raising flour
55g icing sugar
1 free range egg yolk
2 1/2 tbspn iced water

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C. Roast the almonds on a baking tray for about 5 minutes, shaking the tray to prevent the nuts from burning. Allow to cool, then chop.

Peel and coarsely grate the apples, then cover with Verjuice to prevent discolouration. Chop the raisins, apricots and figs. Combine these in a glass or ceramic bowl with the apple and remaining ingredients, except the butter, and mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic film and leave at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Next day, melt the butter and stir it through the fruit mince.

To make the pastry, dice the chilled butter. Blend the flours, icing sugar and diced butter in a food processor until well combined and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and iced water and, using the pulse button, process until the mixture starts to come together. Shape the pastry into a disc, then wrap it in plastic film and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 210C. Roll out the pastry until 3mm thick on a lightly floured bench. Cut rounds of pastry to line the moulds you are using, then cut a corresponding number of lids (I make 36 tiny tarts in mini-muffin trays). Line the moulds with pastry, then add a spoonful of fruit mince and top with a lid, pressing down on the edges to seal the tarts. Make a small cross in the top of each tart with the point of a knife. Bake for 12 minutes, then allow to cool in the trays. (If you are using larger moulds you will have to bake the tarts for a longer time – the pastry should be golden brown).

Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Shop for Maggie Beer’s gourmet hampers and cookbooks today

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We’ve curated a collection of coffee tables to suit every style - but the coffee table is only the beginning! Here we share styling tips for three key looks.

Image – Verandah House interiors.

Breezy beauty

You’ll love this if you care about comfort as well as looks – the generously sized table is sturdy enough for feet-up moments and coping with family life.

Why it works White furniture is a perennial favourite for a crisp, clean look, and the fresh green vase and natural accents bring the outdoors in.

Mix with a sisal rug for a coastal vibe, or vintage accents and pretty flowers for a modern country look.

Bonus points Drawers and an extra low shelf mean there’s plenty of room for magazines, books, beachcombing finds or the kids’ treasures.

Image – Urban Outfitters Home via Pinterest

Design darling

You’ll love this if you have an eye for mid-century style and a soft spot for graphic pattern and colour pops.

Why it works The geometric accents and faceted ceramics play off the angled legs of the table, with enough colour to add interest without being loud.

Mix with a circular rug to contrast with the straight lines, and metallic accents for an on-trend touch

Top tip Succulents, succulents, succulents. They fit with the retro vibe and are the least needy plants we know.

Image – Design Manifest via Pinterest

Luxe lover

You’ll love this if you’re a fan of understated glamour and sophisticated style.

Why it works Reflective surfaces and rich materials add an air of luxury, while the neutral palette means texture is key.

Mix with a generous bunch of peonies and a scented candle; try a vibrant patterned rug or gold-flecked hide.

Stylist’s secret If space is limited, a round table can help allow for easy flow through the room.

Explore our coffee table collection today.

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Megan Morton – author, stylist and founder of creative hub The School – is more attuned than most to the visual feast that India offers, so we asked her to translate some of what she found on a recent trip into lessons for styling at home.

When Natalie Portman came to shoot Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited in India she spent 10 days travelling for the 20 mins she was required on set to shoot.  This goes a long way to explain the way India works on its guests. Mostly it has its own time sequence. For some, an hour in this incredible place is more excitement than a whole lifetime outside of it. And while I am here for work, I am finding it hard to actually get any of it done. It’s beyond distracting. And there is no point in a rigid plan of attack or strict to-do lists, it seems to gobble you up and take you – like swimming against a current, resistance is almost useless. So this week we are going to do a Natalie Portman and take some lessons from the ever abundant India.  What is there to learn in terms of the home? So very, very much!

1. Feature Front Door 

Nothing drains your iPhone faster than the photos you will take of the incredible Indian gates and doors. It’s like the whole country has handshaked on making every doorway somehow special. Painted, stained, studded and adorned, no doorway goes without attention. And nor should yours.

What could you do to add some impact (either subtle or the slap-in-your-face type) to your own front door? Apartments need not go without. Even the smallest of Indian entries make the effort. Paint is only one of the many options. An elaborate knocker, a house number in brass, a vial for a daily offering of flowers. Or my favourite forever-summer house door is a row of horizontal studs top and bottom for subtle attention. Paint out with an iron effect paint and just add bougainvillea to trail up, over and around the doorway. And for that perennial winter front-of-house, paint it out Domino Black (Dulux), add a nickel knocker, keyless entry and flank with a pair of olives in zinc pots.

2. Volume

It seems that India got the memo about ‘more being more’. Actually they were the ones that issued the memo in the first place. Every market, every stall and every low and high end store goes all out, in the same way Bergdorfs does come December.

The tips I take from this relate to the volume in shelves and our own display areas. Small piles spread over the shelving area is the starting point. Spreading them in a here, there and everywhere fashion creates small bites of interest over a large item like a boring bookshelf. I would keep any larger items just to the left or right not as to centre it. The most riveting and eye catching displays work when the major item/piece is not smack bang bullseye centre.

3. Print

What’s so brilliant about Indian textiles is not just their individual exquisiteness, but the way, when they are multiplied, the result is more like a millionified. We usually add a print in to throw off the course of solids and plains. But what’s the point having a small little exclamation mark with just one print when you can go for a room full of fun with multiples?  More really does present as more.

What I can appreciate from this is that more more works for those who run a little on the messy side as well as the overly neat. Fixed up prim and proper or bohemian driven, it works both ways.

4. Offerings

Giving thanks is the backbone of life in India. The mantels, the small ledges, the shelves – any left over surface is given over to offerings of fruit, flowers (those marigolds!) and incense. Whether you make an offering station in your own space or simply take time in the day to make a mental gratitude, it is the way most Indians get through their day.  In the midst of such diversity, the commonality of prayer and offerings joins India graciously.

Bring a bit of India back home and assign your own offering station – try on the mantelpiece, the top left of the piano, by the bedside or front of all in the kitchen.

5. Navy

The softer cousin to black, the ever elegant solid. Try to find a colour that is doesn’t work back with. Let’s go through the list. Navy with mustard. Check. Navy with black and white. Check. Navy with hot pink, white and a slash of tangerine. Navy with stone, oatmeal and magnolia. Navy with slice of silver and puce. Check. Check. Check. India shows us a rainbow of choice with all coordinates leading to navy.

6. Planting. 

Beyond pots or garden beds, amazing things seem to grow even through the cracks and crevices in India. India proves that life always finds a way, and when given extra human intervention, goes a long way in creating a home and a street that feels like it’s thriving. Want a living room that sings of health and happiness? Just add a plant. If your fingers are green, attempt a flowering plant but otherwise,  just literally add a plant!  Improves the oxygen levels and so much more.

Door images by Maya Vidulich.

Follow Megan on Instagram @megan_morton or @theschoolinstagram.

There are a few places left at classes at The School before Christmas, plus you can give a voucher for Christmas or book yourself in for a creative journey in 2015.

Posted in   Styling, TravelTags  3 comments

Jono Fleming shares a family tradition involving sugar, fruit and a dash of creativity.

In my book, there are a few staples for the Christmas table: grilled prawns, a big glazed ham, and a beautiful fruit covered pavlova to finish. Ever since I was a little kid, its been a Christmas tradition at my house to make this pavlova with my mum.

It’s fun to unleash your inner cake decorator and personalise the pav with your favourite fruit. This time I added some beautiful edible flowers to cut through the sweetness of the meringue and balance out the sour and tart flavours of the fruit and berries. Have fun with your version, be creative and start your own traditions. Remember, no one’s ever too young to help out with dessert!

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

6 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 ½ cups caster sugar
3 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
600ml thickened cream
3 passionfruits
1 punnet of raspberries
1 punnet of strawberries
1 punnet of blueberries
2-3 kiwi fruits (golden if available)
Seasonal edible flowers (available from green grocers or your local food market)

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 150°C and line two standard baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, little by little, allowing the sugar to dissolve before adding more. Mix on high for three minutes after all the sugar has been added.

In a small bowl, combine the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract, mix well and then fold through the egg white mix until combined.

Using a spatula, spread the meringue over one of the baking trays, forming a large rectangle. Reduce the oven temperature to 110°C and bake the meringue for 40 minutes.

Once the meringue starts to colour slightly, remove from the oven and place the other baking tray (with baking paper) over the top and flip the meringue over. The meringue will crack slightly but this will be covered later. Allow the meringue to cool completely.

To decorate, whip the cream until it holds firm. Spread a thin layer of cream on the flipped meringue surface. Drizzle the passion fruit pulp and place raspberries on top. Now for the slightly tricky part: roll the pavlova tightly, trying not to crush the meringue.

From here it’s up to you how to present and decorate. I usually cover the pavlova in a layer of cream and then layer the fruit down the middle of the log.

Slice to serve and enjoy this fantastic, never fail, show stopper of a dessert! Merry Christmas…

 Serve your summer pavlova with Royal Doulton’s colourful tableware.

Posted in   Dish of the day1 comment

Alice Topp is a dancer in the corps de ballet at The Australian Ballet. After a busy end to 2014 with performances in La Bayadère and The Nutcracker, she is looking forward to putting her feet up!

My Christmas style is: Low maintenance!

It’s such a crazy time of year but Christmas for me is all about unwinding and enjoying the precious company of family and friends. I’m performing right up until Christmas in The Australian Ballet’s The Nutcracker, a production we opened in Melbourne in September, so I feel like I’ve been decking the halls and cracking the nuts for a few months now! After roughly 200 shows in 2014, our Christmas break is a great opportunity to put our feet up, return home after a jam-packed year of touring and cherish time spent with loved ones. If I was to define my Christmas style, I’d say it’s all about fun prints, florals, colour and movement.

Alice at the front of the ‘Kingdom of the shades’ scene in La Bayadère.

This year I’ll be buying: Mangoes, cider and brooches!

My go-to accessory of the moment would have to be novelty brooches and badges. They jushe up any ensemble, are a great talking point and make for wonderful gifts. My current favourites are the Bowie, Frida Kahlo and Wes Anderson themed numbers from the wonderful Andsmile. I’m also in love with a custom design range of earrings from Etsy shop Sleepy Mountain. This year my friends can expect to receive the Breaking Bad, Seinfeld and Steve Buscemi designs.

My failsafe Christmas styling tip is: Spend less time in shops and more time getting creative!

I always find handmade or recycled wrapping paper, makeshift cards and tags and the use of any art ‘n’ craft knick-knacks far more exciting when gift-giving! As kids, one of our Christmas activities with Mum was spray painting gum leaves from our garden in metallic gold and silver and using them as gift tags. One year my friend Gabriella gave me a 7 inch record with a super funny title as a Christmas card which I still have up on my mantelpiece. These are the things you remember and hold onto.

This Christmas I’ll be serving: I’d like to say my contribution at the family Christmas luncheon will be a smashing summer salad of fresh greens, mango, prawn and coriander with a chilli and lime dressing (my staple salad) but in reality, I’ll probably just make a dash to the supermarket and purchase my favourite fruitcake and custard!!

My Christmas playlist includes: The Black Keys, Father John Misty and an array of 80’s hits. I’ve recently been revisiting my collection of 80’s and 90’s cassette tapes.

All I want for Christmas is: Sleep, sunshine, cricket, friends and family time.

My biggest Christmas disaster was: Thankfully, it has yet to happen!!!

After Christmas I’m planning to: Hit the MCG for the Boxing Day cricket test, catch some sunshine and catch up on any overdue phone calls and letter-writing!

Follow The Australian Ballet via Facebook or on Instagram @ausballet

La Bayadère, a spectacular ballet following an epic story of love, betrayal and forbidden passion set against a backdrop inspired by 19th century visions of the exotic East, runs at the Sydney Opera House from 6 – 22 November. Tickets available via the Sydney Opera House or The Australian Ballet.

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One of Australia’s most popular cooks, Anna Gare was a judge on Junior MasterChef and co-presenter of The Great Australian Bake-Off. This fresh and easy salad comes from her book Eat In (Murdoch), thanks to eatlove.

Labneh is yoghurt that has been strained in a cloth (traditionally made of muslin), to remove the whey. This process gives it a soft cheese-like texture, while preserving the yoghurt’s distinctive tang. The earthiness of the beetroot and beans paired with the creamy tang of the labneh make a gorgeous combination.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

300 g (101⁄2 oz) thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) baby beetroots (beets)
400 g (14 oz) podded broad (fava) beans
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 a lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few chives or mint leaves, sliced, to serve

Preparation

Strain the yoghurt overnight in a fine sieve or muslin (cheesecloth), placed over a bowl to catch the whey, in the fridge.

The next day, trim the leaves and stems off the beetroot, leaving 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the stem intact. Steam the beetroot in their skins for about 20 minutes, or until they can be easily pierced with a fork.

Remove the skins and stems under cold running water with your fingers (wear rubber gloves if you don’t want pink hands). If the beetroot are perfectly cooked, the skins should slide off easily.

Cook the broad beans in boiling water for 3–4 minutes (or 1 minute if using frozen beans), then drain and run under cold water to stop them cooking further. Pinch each bean between your fingers to remove the skin then put the beans in a small bowl, drizzle over some olive oil, squeeze over some of the lemon and season with salt and pepper.

Halve the beetroot and put in a bowl, drizzle over some olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the beetroot and beans over your favourite platter then top with quenelles (pretty little spoonfuls) of labneh. Scatter over the chives or mint leaves (or both), drizzle with some more olive oil then serve.

See more at eatlove.com.au where you can follow your favourite chefs, share their recipes and order their books.

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