Saturday, June 10, 2017


Our 3 scheduled Zenbu Tours for 2018 are filling up fast! 

You'd best be quick not to miss the Earlybird Specials! They end in early July 2017.

In fact they've already been snapped up for the Spring Tour in May - which is almost full! There are a couple of spots left on this gorgeous tour if you'd care to join us! 

There are still spaces on both the ever-popular 12 day Zenbu Zen Tour  of Kyoto in early January and the new and even more immersive 15 day Zenbu Setsubun tour of Kyoto and Tokyo. 

Please head on over to ZENBU TOURS for more details 

If you prefer DIY travel (but with a whole lot of groundwork done for you - including lots of direction pointing with places to eat, visit, experience you'd never find on your own...) then check out our detailed, personalised itinerary options. 

Oh and Ps - if you'd like to take a peek at the types of meal we enjoy on Zenbu Tours - take a look HERE. 

Interested in what other people have to say about Zenbu Tours? 
Well we'd very much like to share our TESTIMONIALS HERE and a little bit from the MEDIA HERE.

Naoshima Art Island - Japan

Attention Art Lovers ! 

Curious about the wonderful Naoshima? 

Hop over to Zenbu Tours to read about how to get the most from your travel experience. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Just a quick head's up for those of you interested in Jane Lawson's cuisine and culture tours of Japan - our popular ZENBU ZEN TOUR for early 2017 SOLD OUT in record time!!!

* 7/8 update - just quietly  - one couple has had to cancel so two spaces have just become available on the above tour - but don't dilly dally!  

BUT  - the good news is that we've just announced a SECOND ZENBU ZEN TOUR which will run just a week afterwards! 

But you'd best be quick not to miss the EARLYBIRD SPECIAL! 

Please head on over to ZENBU TOURS for details 

Jane x

oh ps - if you'd like to take a peek at the kind of meals we enjoy on Zenbu Tours - take a look HERE. 

Interested in what other people have to say about Zenbu Tours? 
Well we'd very much like to share our TESTIMONIALS HERE and a little bit from the MEDIA HERE.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Excited & Nervous....

These are the two standard emotions which face off with against each other whenever I have a new book about to hit the shelves!
In just one short month my newest 'baby' MILKBAR MEMORIES will land and you'll have the opportunity to take a peek! And hopefully be more on the excited side and less nervous than me!

I reckon those of you who are fans of my book Grub -Favourite Food Memories ( a book I wrote almost 10 years ago now! eeek)  are going to DIG this - well at least I hope you do!  It's the cookbook of your childhood dreams... ;)

Even though I really, really want to - I'm not allowed to say ANYTHING more until the book is on sale or my publisher will beat me! 

Whilst I'll always encourage people to support your local bookstore - if you are going to buy online - do it with an Australian online bookstore.  

And on that.. I have some NEWS!!

 If you'd like to be one of the first to see Milkbar Memories  then please hop on over to Booktopia where they are offering an earlybird special for anyone who pre-orders a copy - an amazing 20% off the recommended retail price!  

I might have to buy some myself at that price! 

Anyway - I hope you like it! I'll be back to share more once MM is finally released!

Jane x

Friday, October 23, 2015

Polverone Tartlets with Caramelised Apple and Cider Custard


Polvorone Tartlets with Apple and Cider Custard

cider custard
375 ml (13 fl oz/1 1/2 cups) cream (whipping)
 125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup) milk
8 egg yolks
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) sweet Spanish sidra , or other sweet alcoholic apple cider
 80 g (2 3/4 oz /1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
11/2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
 11/2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)

250 g (9 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
 1 teaspoon whole aniseeds
 40 g (1 1/2 oz /1/4 cup) pine nuts
60 g (2 1/4 oz /1/2 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
 200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 teaspoons oloroso sherry

caramelised apple
30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter 8 small crisp, sweet apples (such as fuji), peeled, cored and cut into eighths
100 g (3 1/2 oz /1/2 cup) soft brown sugar
80 ml (2 1/2 fl oz /1/3 cup) sweet Spanish sidra , or other sweet alcoholic apple cider
 80 ml (2 1/2 fl oz /1/3 cup) clear apple juice
 80 ml (2 1/2 fl oz /1/3 cup) cream (whipping)

Makes 8

To make the cider custard, pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and just bring to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, cider, sugar, vanilla, flour and cornflour in a heatproof bowl. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture until smooth, then pour into a clean, heavy-based saucepan and place over low heat. Using a balloon whisk, stir continuously for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and smooth and clearly holds a ‘ribbon’ shape when drizzled from the whisk onto the custard. Allow to cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until completely cold.

To make the pastry, put the flour, aniseeds, pine nuts and icing sugar in a food processor with a pinch of salt. Process until the nuts are finely chopped, then add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms crumbs. Put the egg yolk, vanilla extract and sherry in a bowl and mix together well. Using a flat-bladed knife and a cutting action, mix the liquid into the flour until it forms clumps. Gather together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into eight equal portions, then roll each one out between two sheets of baking paper to 5 mm ( 1/4 inch) thick. Remove the top layers of paper and invert the pastry over eight 10 cm (4 inch) individual tart tins with removable bases. Fit the pastry into the tins, trim the edges and freeze for 1 hour. Save any leftover pastry for making into shortbread biscuits (cookies).
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Bake the tart shells for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before releasing them from the tins.

While the tart shells are cooling, prepare the caramelised apple. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium–high heat and sauté the apple for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden — if your pan isn’t quite large enough you may need to work in two batches. Remove the apple from the pan and stir in the sugar, cider, apple juice and cream. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Mix the apple through, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until the apple is soft but not falling apart, and the sauce is golden and glazy. Allow to cool slightly. Fill the tart shells with the custard, top with the warm apple and serve at once.

Copyright of Jane Lawson. Recipe from Cocina Nueva - the New Spanish Kitchen by Jane Lawson, published by Murdoch Books. Image by Photographer Steve Brown. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Macadamia Cake with Lime Syrup


I swear everyone who cooks this recipe falls in love with it. 

Toasty, buttery macadamia with sweet lime. Perfect for a beautiful sunshine-filled day. 

A little goes a long way and it keeps well - check it out and let me know how you go!

Macadamia cake with lime syrup 

200 g (7 oz/11/4 cups) macadamia nuts
185 g (61/2 oz/11/2 cups) self-raising flour
 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened
230 g (81/2 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
 4 large eggs
 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) milk

LIME SYRUP 170 g (6 oz/3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
 3 teaspoons finely julienned lime zest
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) lime juice
 1 tablespoon rum, optional

serves 10–12

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3). Grease a 25 cm (10 inch) wide, 9 cm (31/2 inch) deep, non-stick bundt tin or other scalloped-edge ring cake tin.
Very finely grind the macadamias in a food processor or in several batches in a blender, then tip into a mixing bowl. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda over the top and combine well.
Beat the butter and sugar using electric beaters until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lime zest. Mix in half the flour mixture, then half the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk, until all the ingredients are well combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth over. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is dark golden and comes away slightly from the side of the tin. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Allow the cake to rest in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before inverting onto the rack to cool completely. (If you tip the cake out of the tin before this time it may collapse.)
To make the lime syrup, put the sugar, lime zest, lime juice and 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) water in a small saucepan and stir over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for 5 minutes, or until slightly syrupy. Lift out the lime zest with a fork and set aside as a garnish. Take the syrup off the heat and stir in the rum, if using.

Brush the syrup evenly over the entire cake surface. Decorate the top of the cake with the reserved lime zest and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. This cake keeps well — wrap it thoroughly in plastic and store at room temperature for a few days, or refrigerate for a week (or even freeze for up to 1 month).

Recipe from Grub - Favourite Food Memories by Jane Lawson. Published by Murdoch Books. Image by Photographer Steve Brown. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

St Ives Medieval Faire

Last year a friend invited me to some 'do' he was putting on... a Medieval Faire. A what? 
I'd heard him correctly. 

It was the last thing I could imagine myself enjoying on one of my few days off but the other half was keen and you have to let them think they are making some decisions sometimes right?  Plus anything that took me close to a place in my head which might feel like I was on the set of Game of Thrones couldn't be a bad thing...  
Plus I grew to think t it could be a bit of a laugh  - certainly a pretty 'out there' idea as far as I was concerned.  And I do dig 'out there' . So off we galloped - sans period appropriate attire to                                                              

I could never have predicted that I would end up  so seriously freaking impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed myself  - it was not only extremely well organised but super interesting and loads of fun. 

Plus I've never seen such a brilliant bunch of things for kids to be involved in - they were LOVING it! 
From faux sword fighting to creating gorgeous masks to cheering on the flogging of a thief in the gallows - with the court jester .... well, holding court! They were totally into it. 

Absolutely everyone threw themselves into the spirit of the joust and watching the competitors in their fully armoured kits with the crowd leering and jeering along was like stepping back in time - to a place I now feel somewhat more acquainted with. 

 And the 'Birds of Prey' show had the crowd entranced. 

I particularly enjoyed chatting to people who dedicate themselves to researching and re-enacting medieval life. How fascinating it was to learn about the foods of the time, watch the blacksmiths do their thing and witness various feasts being prepared as each 'camp' went about the chores and celebrations of daily life.   OK, so it's hard to escape my food focus sometimes. 

 I believe that many people in attendance at the Faire are involved in weekends away where they live as close to how they would in Medieval days as they can - without chopping anyone's head off of course.  Seriously - check these guys out HERE.

And if you happened to find your inner  Medieval self whilst at the Faire - there were plenty of stalls to purchase outfits and paraphernalia.   

Er... NO Gerard....

Local  Manly brewhouse - 4 Pines even developed an authentic brew called the Gruit - and this non beer drinking wench thought it was rather grand! The ex-winemaker partner was suitably impressed too... This year they are also whipping up a mead ! Woo hoo. 

There's an additional event at the 2015 Faire which I'm really looking forward to and that is the authentic Medieval Feast on the Saturday evening - now that's gonna be right up my alley - oh what fun. I might even dress up. No. That's taking things a tad too far fair maiden.   Hopefully there are still tickets if this sounds like you?

Live music, plenty to eat and drink, loads of activities for the kids, a bunch of fascinating history, lots of laughs and some really spectacular people -gazing.  What's not to like?

There really was  just so much going on that I didn't get to see it all  - had I realised the event would be so very full of wonderous things to do and see I might have prepared myself a little better  - so do take a look at their  main programme for the weekend of 19 and 20 September 2015  and the kids programme here - it is pretty amazing. 

Yes that's right The St Ives Medieval Faire is on this weekend in Sydney's north - have you got your tickets yet??

This is not your average weekend.  That I can promise you.