Summer sips: Sweet Iced Tea


Being in a heatwave and south of the equator, I think Sydney qualifies as southern. And there’s nothing more ‘Southern’ and simple to make than sweet iced tea! And it’s so refreshing on a hot day.

You’ll be my sugar baby, I’ll be your sweet iced tea
You’ll be my honeysuckle . I’ll be your honey bee
-Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee”

This recipe makes a medium-sweet tea. Everyone has a personal preference for how sweet is sweet enough. Add more sugar or honey, to taste.

You can make this tea in a saucepan at home, but if you’re in an office without a kitchen stove, use a teapot and let the teabags drawn for a full 5 minutes.

Sweet Iced Tea

Makes 7 teacups of iced tea

You’ll need:

3-cup capacity glass serving jug – glass if possible
3 cups of filtered water
2 teabags, regular black tea
¾ cup caster sugar or ½ cup of honey
7 cups of chilled water
Ice cubes, several trays
Lemon wedges
Orange wedges (optional)
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Cool the jug in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until needed.

Then, in a medium size saucepan bring the 3 cups of water to the boil. Add the teabags and keep on the boil for 1 minute.

Remove and discard tea bags. Add the sugar (or honey), stirring constantly until dissolved, then let the mixture cool down to room temperature.

Don’t place the tea mixture in the refrigerator as it will go cloud. Leave on your stove top to cool.

When cooled, pour half the sweet tea mixture into a 3-cup glass jug.

Top up with 1 ½ cups of cold water and stir well.

Add the lemon and orange wedges and mint.

Pour into individual glasses or teacups half filled with ice.
Slip a lemon wedge onto the side of the glass, and serve immediately.

(recipe from SOULICIOUS Soul Food cookbook, Awia Markey)

It’s Tom and Jerry (egg-nog) season


Are you a fan of egg-nog?

The first time I tried egg-nog it was homemade and handed to me by a German relative-by-friendship. It was strong enough and sweet enough to blow my head off, which it did.

As years went by I forgot about egg-nog until supermarkets started rolling out pre-made versions of it around Christmas time. I tried it one year and it was awful.

Egg-nog and I parted company again.

It wasn’t until I saw an old 1940s American black and white film set during an office Christmas party that egg-nog regained my attention and I remembered celebrating that Christmas Eve sipping a cup of the homemade German version.

In the film staff at the Christmas party were drinking Tom and Jerrys – another name for egg-nog. Feeling inspired and sentimental, I did some quick research online.

There are lots of recipes for egg-nog. Most American-style recipes add bourbon – a new idea to me. After experimenting, I realized what a good idea that is.

Some recipes throw all the ingredients into a blender and hit the button, but that takes away some of the cosy ceremony of being in the moment and creating it yourself.

Forget the pre-made stuff, and make your own. You’ll thank yourself for that tiny extra bit of effort as you sip your deliciously spicy and fluffy homemade version.

How to make a Tom and Jerry

Makes 2 mugs for two people – upsize quantities as needed

3 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
Dark rum (spiced rum if you have it)
Ground allspice
Ground cinnamon (not cinnamon sugar)
Pinch of ground cloves
2 mugs of full cream milk
Bourbon or brandy (not cognac)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Separate the egg yolks and egg whites into two small bowls.

Beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until stiff.

Add the sugar to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix together until the sugar has dissolved. Then add ½-1 level teaspoon (to taste) of the allspice and cinnamon, then a small pinch of ground cloves.

Slowly stir 1 ½ nips of rum into the egg yolk mixture, taking care not to let it curdle.

Then fold in the beaten egg whites. If the egg whites have started to separate, remix with the hand mixer first.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk to very warm but not hot, and stir in the bourbon (or brandy). Then pour the egg mixture one third of the way up each mug.

Lastly pour the warm milk into each mug, stirring constantly.

To garnish, sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.


*** Wishing you the best for the holiday season! ***

Lime is the new white wine!


Well, sort of.

Limeade is a refreshing summer drink that you can enjoy instead of, or between glasses of wine or beer.

And who doesn’t want a refreshing, healthy, low sugar, icy cold non-alcoholic drink full of Vitamin C that you can DIY at home?

It’s tangy citrus flavour makes it the perfect drink to serve with Mexican food.

Limes are always readily available, but are the most plentiful and full of flavour from late December to April in Australia.

Limeade makes a refreshing morning wake-up drink or, in this season of merriment and overindulgence, a hangover reviver.

I love the tang of fresh lime, so I like to drink it straight, but you can top up your glass with soda water. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can also add a little extra sugar.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves, raspberries, and slices of lime.

Limeade recipe

Makes 4 cups

1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 10 limes
2 cups filtered water
A pinch of salt (I used pink Murry River salt flakes)

Sugar Syrup

½ cup sugar
1 cup filtered water

Make the sugar syrup first, by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then remove from heat and let the syrup cool.

While the sugar syrup is cooling off, squeeze the limes.

A juicer works well, but the quickest easiest method to juice 10 limes is to use a lime squeezer. If you don’t have one – which I don’t – the next best way to crank through all those limes is to use a handheld wooden citrus reamer. What’s a reamer? See pic below.


Combine the sugar syrup, lime juice, and water in a large jug filled with ice, and stir.

Add mint leaves and raspberries to add some colour to the jug. Chill in the fridge until cold before serving, then pour into glasses filled with ice.

Best to drink the same day, but the limeade will last a second day.





Awia’s Kitchen: My TOP 5 Cookbooks for 2016


How to cull down to just five, all of the cookbooks published in one year?

It’s an impossible task, so I’ll start by saying that I’ve chosen the titles on this list based on a combination of personal opinion, and the following ‘ratings method’.

Each cookbook must ….
– make me excited to get into the kitchen, like right now!
– the recipe photos must inspire, and make you dribble with desire
– include recipes that excite you, not frighten you – well, not too much
– teach new skills or at least try to
– not just be on everyone else’s bestseller or Most Popular list
– promise and deliver on flavour … and, just be downright sexy!

(in no particular order)

1. NEIGHBOURHOOD – Hetty McKinnon
(Pan MacMillan, Australia)

2. GROWN & GATHERED – Matt & Lentil
(Pan Macmillan, Australia)

(Houghton, Miffin, Harcourt)

4. ORGANUM: The Food of Peter Gilmore
(Murdoch Books, Australia)

5. THE SKILLS – Monica Galetti
(Quadrille/Hardie Grant Publishing)




Hetty McKinnon
ISBN: 9781743538982

What’s not to love about this foodie fairy tale? Hetty, chef at Arthur Street Kitchen in Sydney’s Surry Hills, relocates to Brooklyn, NYC, and through her cookbook, shares with us her new community of foodie friends and recipes.

NEIGHBOURHOOD follows her previous book named, COMMUNITY, and includes a selection of plant-based recipes for salads and sweets which are modern, and delicious.

McKinnon also includes some of her Brooklyn-based friends in a section at the back of the book which shows ‘what food my friends would bring on a plate’ and includes their recipes.

And Hetty’s friends are good cooks – who wouldn’t like to eat a slice of Rhubarb Custard Tart with a macadamia shell with raspberry ice crumbled over the top? Not you? That’s OK, I’ll eat your slice.

Grown and Gathered Cover SI.indd

Matt & Lentil
ISBN: 9781743547410

‘Recipes and practical guides to grown, cook, preserve, trade, and live well.’

GROWN & GATHERED includes wholefood recipes from Matt and Lentil Pubrick’s seasonal, and regional diet.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with a book like this – or its authors Matt and Lentil. They’ve named the chapter titles in their book to convey their holistic food message: Observe. Grow. Gather. Nurture. Trade. Seek. Eat.

It’s a lovely book, and while it doesn’t aim or claim to be vegetarian, it’s chock full of plant-based recipes, as well as those using protein.

In their own words Grown & Gathered includes recipes for, “Cultured butter, feta and sourdough starter, our much asked-for long ferment gluten-free sourdough bread, sourdough pastas, sourdough crumpets, traditional fermented dill pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and natural wine. Or try our pear and eggplant kasundi, green tomato ketchup, or home-cured and smoked bacon, and home-cured tuna.”

There’s plenty here to nurture your spirit and your palate.


Dominique Crenn
ISBN: 9780544444676

This is Dominique Crenn’s debut cookbook. Crenn was the first female American chef to win 2 Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco.

The bird’s nest shown on the front cover is symbolic of the restaurant logo and what she calls “the conjunction of art and nature.”

In Crenn’s culinary world, it seems art, fantasy and food collide.
Her creativity is to be applauded, awarded, and rewarded.

Her recipe for ‘Walk in the Forest’ – made of burnt pine meringue, and crunchy hazelnut – looks truly Dali-esque.

While appearing minimalist her cooking is about crafting food into a work of art, but without pretention.

Crenn doesn’t expect home cooks to religiously follow her recipes – one is seven pages long. Instead, she hopes to inspire cooks to worship food and act accordingly in their own kitchen.

This is Crenn’s interpretation of fish and chips…


With corkage at USD$50 per 750 ml at restaurant Atelier Crenn, buying the cookbook could be an economically sound investment to browse as you uncork your favourite bottle.


ORGANUM: The Food of Peter Gilmore
ISBN: 9781743368633

Australian Peter Gilmore is the Executive Chef of Quay restaurant which overlooks Sydney Harbour, and is a short stroll from Sydney Opera House.

Quay has been included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and cookbook ORGANUM delights in food as opera – exhibiting texture, beauty, drama, colour, and style.

Gilmore aims to create “original cuisine where texture, purity of flavour and balance is paramount” and the recipes in ORGANUM are simply stunning.

Just take a look at the creativity of execution of his recipe for Walnut Floss, Bitter Chocolate Black Pudding, Fungi below, right. Or the part art, part engineering, precision of South Australian Octopus & Agretti, below left.

A seat at Quay overlooking Sydney Harbour Opera House on New Year’s Eve will cost you AUD$1500 per person, and while it may be a little out of my reach, diners will receive a degustation menu and absolutely the best fireworks in the world.


Monica Galetti
ISBN: 9781849497640

Whether you’re an amateur chef, or a professional looking to refresh basic cooking skills, it’s nice to have a cache of smart, easy to follow instructions for essential kitchen fundamentals.

THE SKILLS includes how to: joint a chicken, prepare a rack of lamb, fillet fish, or make basics like sauces, mayonnaise, pasta, meringues, caramel, and soufflé, breads, and pastries.

Then it’s on to the next level, with recipes that include her popular Braised artichoke with bacon and gin; Tartare of salmon; Roast lamb with peppers and olives; and Salt caramel chocolate ganache and Apricot sabayon.

Monica Galetti was born in Samoa and raised in New Zealand and is now one of the best-known female chefs in the UK through various food-related television roles, including appearing as a judge on MasterChef (UK).

Galetti launched, and was Head Chef at restaurant Le Gavroche des Tropiques in Mauritius.

In 2017 Monica and her husband David will open a new restaurant, called Mere, in London.

Also a special mention for these two titles:
PETAL, LEAF, SEED: Cooking with the treasures of the garden by Lia Leendertz
THE HEALTHY HEDONIST: 40 Naughty but Nourishing Cocktails by Nicole Herft

Pimp My Plate #34 – Native Feel Real, Manly, NSW


A ‘summer holiday vibe’ is just a ferry ride away…

Manly Beach is only a 15 minute fast-ferry ride from Sydney business district, but it feels a world away.

Thankfully there are no commercial high rise buildings blocking the beachfront, just towering Norfolk Island pine trees.

Bare feet, board shorts, and bikinis replace suits on the streets as well as the beach so it’s easy to embrace the holiday vibe even if it’s only for a lunch hour.

When you step off the ferry at Manly Wharf you have the choice of three beaches – Manly Cove, Cabbage Tree Bay, and Manly Beach.

On your left, West Esplanade runs along Manly Cove toward Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. If you turn right along East Esplanade you’ll be walking alongside Cabbage Tree Bay, and eventually arrive at Manly Yacht Club.

To reach Manly Beach itself, walk straight ahead through The Corso.

The Corso is the central hub of Manly, with lots of retail and several large pubs, and full of tourists, buzz, and buff. The smaller laneways connecting to it offer a feast of boutique cafés and bars.

Not many people know that The Corso was named after the Via Del Corso in Rome, and was originally a water inlet flowing from the harbour to the ocean.

Did you know that Manly was originally designed as a copy of the English city of Brighton?

Back in the 1850s, English-born merchant and politician Henry Gilbert Smith had a huge influence on Manly.

Smith envisioned Manly as an antipodean version of the famous Brighton seaside resort he revered.

He also introduced beachside attractions to cater for day trippers of the era – a miniature version of Vauxhall Gardens, a Camera Obscura, boat-shaped swings, and a bath-house located at the end of West Esplanade.

How I wish the Camera Obscura was still in operation, certainly a drawcard for me!

All these years later Manly has evolved its own vibrant personality and community. It is the birthplace of Australian surfing and was one of the world’s first surfing reserves.

It now has over 100 bars, cafés, and restaurants Manly has plenty to offer locals and tourists.

But that’s enough history, let’s eat…

Wandering down East Esplanade, I found Native Feel Real tucked just around the corner in Wentworth Street.

Native Feel Real is a small café with several tables outside. You can eat-in or takeaway.

Their menu offers raw and plant-based superfoods that are mostly gluten-free, and their philosophy is serving ‘nourishing food from Mother Earth’.

The lunch menu includes a Native Bowl ($17.50) – a salad of raw, seasonal vegetables; a Raw Pizza (cooked below 44°C) topped with homemade pesto, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, beetroot, pumpkin, sprouts and activated cashew cheese ($17.50).

Rawsome Spaghetti ($16) is made with raw zucchini spirals, homemade pesto, spinach, tomatoes and sprouts, and grated cashew parmesan cheese, and there’s also Rawsome Lasagne.

I chose the fully cooked Quinoa Risotto ($16.50) – a mix of seasonal vegetables pan fried with quinoa and coconut cream and served on a bed of mixed lettuce and topped with alfalfa sprouts and cashew cheese. Three words: It was delicious.

It’s hard to ignore the large range of raw sweets at the counter so I ordered an itsy bitsy white chocolate and berry cake ($6).

Native Feel Real is focused on raw and gluten free drinks, but has a nice arrangement with the bar next door. They have an espresso machine so you can buy a really good takeaway coffee to enjoy with your dessert.

Native Feel Real has a yummy list of power juices, and smoothies including Liver Scrubber, Be Yourself, and Mayan Warrior.

Their selection of naturopathic teas includes Green Goddess Detox, Fountain of Youth, and Golden Glow.

You’ll find lots of cafés in Manly, but I liked the peaceful and reflective vibe of this one.

Native Feel Real offers a nice yin-yang balance of healthy food and being able to hear yourself think.

Or write your own message on a post-it note, to add to the wall of café philosophy.

As things get pre-Christmas crazy in December, it’s especially nice to have a getaway from all ‘the noise’.

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RATED: Pimped!  FOOD: 4/5   Satisfies body and soul
VALUE: 4.5/5   VENUE ATMOS: Café philosophy
VIBE:  Feel real
Native Feel Real – Shop 1A, 40 East Esplanade, Manly, NSW

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