A Sydney Scorcher and a Gorgeous Book Giveaway

Organic Lamb Cutlets Marinaded in Mint, Garlic and Lemon ~ Recipe here. Served with Pomegranate, Crunchy Chickpea and Toasted Almond Cous Cous, Spiced Greek Yoghurt Dressing ~ Recipe here

Ponzu Soaked Beef Fillet Salad with Crunchy Soba Noodles, Edamame Beans, Rocket and Chilli ~ Recipe here

Summer has officially arrived in Sydney, it's currently 42˚C ~ I'm not kidding... it's a day for not doing much and trying to stay cool. It also makes for a perfect day to get new recipes up on the blog and these are ones which I cooked recently for some new friends which we had over at the house just after Christmas (more about them a little later on in the post).

I love this time of the year here as like with anywhere in the world during summertime, it offers you great opportunities for outside eating and entertaining, plus it's so much easier to eat a lighter and more healthy diet I find. Anyone who has my book or has followed the blog for a while knows that I love experimenting with salads and seeing what does/doesn't work. Today I'm sticking up two new salad recipes ~ one of which I made for this aforementioned dinner to pair with some simply marinaded organic lamb cutlets (I always find it best to not muck around too much with beautiful, organic meat) and the other is a new recipe I tried out over the past weekend. Both can be served on their own, although the cous cous one does really need to be paired with a meat or fish as it's not quite substantial enough to serve fully out-right, if you did want to turn it into more of a weeknight or weekend 'meal' you could add some sliced chicken. Simply marinade the chicken in some oil, lemon juice and harissa paste for an hour or so, then BBQ and slice, the flavour of the chicken will pair with excellently all the other ingredients.

The other salad is a sort of 'Asian-style' beef noodle salad interpretation. It's got amazing texture and very tasty and light. Perfect to serve as an outdoor Sunday lunch dish with some chilled white wine or cold Japanese beer.

Before Christmas I was invited to a dinner party at the (gorgeous) apartment of my friend and publisher; Julie Gibbs. Julie was throwing a pre-Xmas dinner for some friends and authors and I was delighted to have been asked to join them. It was a superb night, great, great fun, amazing food and wonderful company. Julie cooked everything herself and it was all divine, especially her show-stopping dessert ~ a towering blueberry pavlova featuring layers of meringue with lemon curd and caramelised hazelnuts, it was incredible.

At the party I met the author of one of the most beautiful books I have seen this year ~ My Greek Island Home which is written and photographed by the most exquisite Claire Lloyd. Claire ~ is a virtual walking creative powerhouse ~ she's a creative director, film maker, photographer and author. Claire moved to London from Sydney in 1983 after two and a half years at Australian Vogue. Since then, she has enjoyed a career in magazines, film, books and property. She has worked either as art director or contributing editor on a variety of magazines; fashion, lifestyle, and interiors.

Now Claire lives what most of us would consider an ultimate dream life ~ in a beautiful house on the Greek Island of Lesvos with her partner Matthew who is an artist and more importantly a super warm, incredibly funny and friendly guy. Together they are some of the most super people I have met in recent years. Sadly they are back to Greece in January so I decided I had to invite them over for a casual Friday night dins at our place before they left. We had a ball along with lots and lots of great Aussie wine. I am sad to see them go. But there will be a next time. You can read all about Claire on her blog here and website here. And not forgetting also on the Penguin website here. Matthew's site is here.

My Greek Island Home is really so very beautiful. I haven't been able to put it down since Julie handed me a copy in early December. The photography is really stunning and Claire writes in such a gorgeous manner that you really to know her as she is so open are warm in her writing and tone. The photos are raw and real, natural and candid, there's no pretension in this book, it's a subtle and elegant look at Claire's life over the years and now with Matthew in Greece, and all the rescue pussy cats and dogs they have opened their home to :) If you can get your hands on a copy I promise you won't regret it, it would make for a beautiful gift too. Of all the books I have come across this year (and there have been a lot!) this is without a doubt one of my most treasured.

You can purchase the book here, here and here.

I'm giving away one copy of Claire's book, to win simply leave a comment by Feb 1st below telling me:

If you could pack up and live anywhere in the world on your own little island, where would it be?

I'll pick a winner at the start of Feb and get the book out in the post by the end of Feb. On the topic of book giveaways, the winner of the current giveaway - Valli Little's Delicious Cookbook is listed here, and the winner of Kate Gibb's After Toast is announced here. Also to all the winners who have contacted me re. the WKA giveaway which I announced in November, as promised your books are all going out this week.

On an end-note and just quickly I thought I'd add, on Sunday just gone I did something I've been wanting to do for years ~ go on a tall ship on Sydney Harbour... For ages this is something I've had a hankering to do and God it was worth the wait. Utterly amazing! If you ever find yourself visiting Sydney or live here do yourself a favour and get out on one of these stunning ships on a gorgeous sunny day, it's a wonderful experience. My husband Mick organised this for me out of the blue the other day and the two of us headed down to Campbell's Cove on the harbour on Sunday morning and boarded the 'Soren Larsen' tall ship for a 2 hour champagne brunch cruise. It was fab! Such an amazing way to spend a gorgeous day out on Sydney Harbour. The ticket price included food and unlimited beer, wine or champagne. The food was basic but perfect, very tasty and was free-flowing as were the drinks at the bar. You never wanted for anything. The staff were wonderful too. Info is all here if you're interested in doing the same or going on one of their evening dinner cruises.