Books, Red Wine, Trivia + Chocolate Cake

By Franz Scheurer


La Base

This book might have been the big hit in Adelaide at the World Food Media Awards last year (Best Hard Cover Recipe Book under $25), but sometimes it takes me a while to catch up. Produced in partnership with Filip Verheyden writing the text and Tonly Le Duc taking the photographs, self-published under the name of Homarus Editions Culinaires, this is a wonderful textbook no chef should be without (provided they read French). It lists and explains cooking techniques and terminology, then goes through Stocks, Binding Agents, Clear and Bound Soups, Potatoes, Rice, Butter Emulsions, Cold and Hot Sauces, Eggs, Mousses, Breads, Doughs, Jams, Desserts, Ice Creams and Sweet Sauces and Emulsions. The photography is exceptional, the text clear, concise and instructive. This is, in my opinion, one of the best textbooks on the market (and would make a fabulous present).

Look for it at Books for Cooks in Melbourne 03 8415 1415

or The Cookery Book Shop in Sydney 02 9967 8211


The world’s best Durif?

There is one thing I have learnt: follow the recommendations of the wine makers. If a wine maker from one vineyard likes the wines of another it is a sure bet that the wine’s worth investigating. This is how I heard about the Warrabilla 2004 Parola’s Limited Release Durif. Dr. Durif, who ran a grape nursery in the Rhone Valley, bred this grape variety with its intense colour and high (although soft) tannins in the late 19th Century but it never became popular in France. Also known as ‘Petit Syrah’ it took hold in California and it is also used in the production of Port in Portugal. In Australia it is mainly found in the Rutherglen area where it has become a local specialty over the last 100 years. Warrabilla is in Rutherglen in North East Victoria, and makes wines that make Parker specialties look like wimps. The Parola’s Limited Release represents the pinnacle of Warrabilla’s wines, only being made in the very best years. This is an amazingly big wine. The colour is so intense it stains the glass immediately and its viscous, thick structure is amazing. They pick their berries ripe, which means the tannins are soft and the varietal characters of chocolate, liquorice and black cherries are foremost on the palate. This is not a fruit bomb, however, it has lots of complexity and wonderfully savoury, meaty undertones and incredible length. The 17.5% alcohol will remind you that this is probably the biggest Durif you’ll ever taste. It’s glorious and I love it!

Available from:

Warrabilla Wines

Murray Valley Highway

Rutherglen VIC 3685



Survival of the fittest

The Swiss are known for their dairy products, but did you know that the average Swiss consumes 81lt milk a year on top of 6 kg butter, 6 lt full-fat cream, 16 kg of yoghurt, 185 eggs and of course 20kg of cheese?

This does not even mention the pork fat and the chocolate… It’s definitely the survival of the cholesterol fittest.


Why is milk white?

A cow spends her life eating, regurgitating and digesting green stuff, but the milk is white. Why?  Milk consists of almost 90% water and the rest is made up of lactose (milk sugar), milk fats, milk albumen as well as minerals and vitamins. The fat content and the water form an emulsion, which means that the fat is distributed evenly throughout and diffracts the light, which makes the liquid opaque, ergo white. The colour of the fodder does not affect milk, as milk is a secretion, but it does have an effect on the fresh, steaming cow-paddy in the field.


Sazerac Relaunched

Sazerac is one of the oldest, family-owned companies in New Orleans and became world famous with the launch of America’s first cocktail: the Sazerac. It’s been 116 years since Sazerac Rye was available and they have just relaunched it, bottled in the original late 1800s package. Distilled, aged and bottled at Buffalo Trace, only 1,000 bottles will be available of this seven year old rye. Try and get your hands on one, fast!


Dewar’s 12 Year Old

John Dewar started out blending whiskies as far back as 1846 and the Dewar dynasty grow from there, with John Dewar & Sons winning their first medal for blended whisky in 1886. In 1892 they start exporting to the USA and in 1893 Queen Victoria awards her Royal Warrant. Their blends are known all over the world and they also produce a 12 y/o Single Malt at the Aberfeldy distillery.

The Dewar’s 12 y/o Special Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky is dark golden in appearance with aromas of short bread and cereal. On the palate a touch of maltose expands into rummy, woody overtones with subdued, dried fruit. This is a whisky that, although being a blend, doesn’t easily give up its secrets. It benefits from exposure to air in the glass and gets progressively more fruit forward. At 43% a/v it is slightly higher in alcohol than many other blends and the alcohol heat is a welcome addition. This is a solid, well-crafted blend for people who like it dry and austere.



Grand Ma Martha’s Chocolate Cake

Enough for one 24cm spring form (modified for the 21st Century)



250g soft, unsalted butter

200g castor sugar

4 eggs (55g)

200g dark Swiss chocolate, melted

50g peeled and ground finely using a pestle and mortar

200g sifted, organic flour

1tsp baking powder


75g raspberry jelly, stirred

4tbs raspberry jelly, warmed


200g dark Swiss chocolate, melted

2tbs Grand Marnier

50g salted butter, cut into small pieces

50g pure icing sugar

100ml full fat cream, whipped (for decoration)


Grease (using butter) or line a 24cm spring form with baking paper

Pre-heat oven to 180°C




Beat the butter hard then add eggs and sugar, keep beating until pale. Fold in chocolate. Mix hazelnuts, flour and baking powder then add to the mix and stir it all together. Fill dough into the spring form and smooth out the top. Bake in pre-heated oven for 45-55 minutes, remove and leave biscuit to cool.


Cut biscuit in half once cool then coat the bottom half with the stirred jelly. Place other half on top and brush the top with the warmed jelly. Leave for 30 minutes to dry out.


Mix all ingredients, stir well, then glaze cake.

Decorate the cake with a little whipped cream to serve.