The first test kitchen Tuesday

I’ve always liked cooking and from a young age, Mum (who is actually a fantastic cook but dislikes it), encouraged us to cook. By my early teens I was cooking (mainly desserts) for Mum & Dad’s dinner parties. But despite a slight addiction to cookbooks and several cooking magazine subscriptions, my cooking in recent years has been limited to odd moments of inspiration and a lot of simple, functional and usually kid friendly stuff (because for some reason two “foodies” have created a couple of picky eaters – but that is a post in itself). The last 3.5 years with an abundance of good local Vietnamese food and a housekeeper meant I cooked even less.

Part of my fantasy about moving to the Barossa Valley was about food. From early this year when I started following the Farmer’s Market on social media, I decided this is where I wanted to live, in a place where food is almost as much a part of the history and culture as wine. So far we have visited the Farmer’s Market every Saturday since we arrived and have been inspired by seasonal fresh produce.

As Mum is visiting we decided to take her to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop for lunch yesterday, which is only about 10 minutes from home. I was already thinking of a roast chicken, but the visit inspired me to use the bottle of verjuice I’d purchased on my last visit and the copy of Maggie’s Table I’d had for about 12 years and make her Roast Chook with Garlic and Verjuice. I then discovered the Salted Brandy Caramel and decided that it deserved some good homemade vanilla ice cream – although Maggie herself does suggest on the label it could just be eaten out of the jar!

So began preparations for a fancier than usual Tuesday night dinner (previous weeks have been Lego Movie inspired Taco Tuesdays) and I decided that I would do this every week as a way to improve my cooking skills and cook the dishes I would want to serve for a dinner party but might be too scared to experiment with if guests were coming.

Ingredients ready for the Roast Chook with Verjuice and Garlic
Ingredients ready for the Roast Chook with Verjuice and Garlic

The chicken was paired with Parmesan polenta (super easy), beetroot (from the market) with Woodside’s Lemon Myrtle Cheever and greens (also from the market) with Maggie Beer’s vincotto.

The chicken was delicious and so moist especially with the reserved pan juices but I learned that in future our non fan-forced oven requires slightly longer cooking times. Adding the extra verjuice and water at 20 minute intervals was a bit more work that my normal chicken cooking method but actually helped me to catch-up up on some much needed study in nice 20 minute bursts.


The side dishes worked well with the chicken and dinner was enjoyed by all (including the little people).

Roast Chicken, Parmesan Polenta, Beetroot and Goats Cheese and salad greens.
Roast Chicken, Parmesan Polenta, Beetroot and Goats Cheese and salad greens.

Dessert was probably where I went a little over the top to attempt a complicated vanilla bean ice cream. This was the third time I’d used my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and the first time I’d used one of the more complicated custard based recipes. Again many of the ingredients were from the Farmer’s Market including Jersey Fresh milk and cream and Tathra Homestead eggs. I added the salted caramel towards the end, but given the richness of the ice cream, it might have been better to just drizzle a little over when serving – but otherwise very tasty!

Rich vanilla bean ice cream with Maggie Beer's Salted Brandy Caramel
Rich vanilla bean ice cream with Maggie Beer’s Salted Brandy Caramel

I’m now looking forward to my trip to the market on Saturday for inspiration for next Tuesday – and the excuse to pull out another cookbook from the collection.


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I started this blog almost 3 years ago when we first arrived in the Barossa Valley. I've always wanted to write and I wanted to share my experience of my career change, our move to this beautiful wine region and discovering my next adventure. After 15 years as a public servant working in Canberra, Beijing, China and Hanoi, Vietnam, I decided it was time for a career change and more importantly, a lifestyle change. In 2014, we left Hanoi and headed to the Barossa Valley in South Australia with a dream of a more fulfilling lifestyle in one of Australia's premier food and wine regions. My husband and I both work in the wine industry - where my job could be described as anything but making the wine. In 2017, I decided to wind-up the consulting business I established in 2015 and focus on learning as much as I could about the wine industry and writing - both on this blog and a memoir of our time in Vietnam. This blog is an opportunity for me to share my writing - about everything from motherhood, to career change, fitness, travel and our vine-change/career change experience.

3 thoughts on “The first test kitchen Tuesday”

  1. Being able to cook properly again was one of the greatest joys of rejoining civilisation… not just because of the variety and quality of produce available, but also having a real kitchen.

    Enjoying the updates Ange.


    1. We were lucky to have a good kitchen in Hanoi but I lacked the time and the inclination to trawl through numerous stores to find ingredients. Loving being able to eat seasonally too and looking forward to having a veggie garden soon.


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