Friday, December 30, 2011

happy happy

A very happy belated Christmas to you and now here's to a spectacular New Years!

We just got back from spending Christmas on Lord Howe Island and I have far too many photos to share and some good food stories too...

But first have a very happy, relaxing, safe, joyous New Years celebration, wherever you are and whatever you're doing! I've got some bubbly and cheese in the fridge, ready to rock n roll!

Wishing you every good thing for the new year!
2012 here we come...

Monday, December 5, 2011

seasonal delights

So I somehow managed to enter the festive season with one doozy of a two week long headcold (a summer cold of all things, although this summer so far has been rather disappointing on the warmth front to say the least!) But, as of now, I am putting sniffles and weather complaints on the backburner, dosing up on vitamins and determined to get excited about the holidays and the delicious anticipation of baking, catching up with friends and general all round festive cheer.

So I plan to get cracking on in the next few weeks about Christmas snackery, foodie gifts, side dishes and other seasonal delights.

Firstly, let's talk fruit mince tarts. Something I haven't made since we visited Japan a few Decembers ago and I suddenly started channelling Delia Smith in a big way. This time though, I did them the cheat's way, which is to say the easy far less time-consuming and curse-inducing way.  I referred to this inspiring post on jam tarts for the pastry and... (here's where I whisper a little bit) then filled them with Robertson's fruit mince filling (from a jar!).  No pastry lids, no fuss, just pure wanton deliciousness. Hence why there are no photos...

Anyway, whilst we're on the subject, can I also tell you that the aforementioned fruit mince filling goes alarmingly well stirred through plain yogurt.  I mentioned this to Kristian the other day and his excited, wide-eyed response was: "What about if you stirred it through ice-cream with broken up pieces of shortbread?" This particular pimped up variation might be a good one to try in the post-xmas haze when you stumble upon some left-over tarts in the fridge and think, How could we disguise these into a new and rather marvellous dessert? Yup, we're a sweet-tooth household we are!

But as all good sweet-tooths know there is a cure and it is cheese. The other day I arrived home after an epic session at Harris Farm to discover I had bought five different kinds of cheese. I was a little excited and decided to have another crack at parmesan biscuits.

I first tried making these a few months ago and I was so disappointed by the result (I basically ended up with a tray-sized flat mess of buttery-cheesey gloop) that I was a little gun-shy. Empowered by my army of cheese and several conversations at work on the subject, I decided to have another crack.

Parmesan Biscuits
Adapted from this recipe

125g salted butter
250g plain flour
80g grated parmesan
1 egg
pinch salt
1 tsp sweet paprika

Rub together the butter and flour, salt and paprika then mix through the parmesan and egg. The mixture should come together to form a dryish dough. Add a little water if needed to bind it all together.  Form the dough into a thin sausage about the diameter of a 50c piece and rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This bit is especially important and I think where I went wrong the first time I made these biscuits. The colder the dough is when it goes into the oven the better. There will be less spreadage, which is a good thing.

Preheat the oven to 180C then cut the dough sausage into coins 3-4mm thick and place on a baking tray.

Cook for 10-12 minutes until golden then rest the biscuits on a rack to cool and harden up a bit. They are great on their own but also go rather well with quince paste and seedless red grapes, which are absolutely smashing at the moment! Red fruit and festivity ahoy.


Thursday, November 17, 2011


Spring has finally sprung and in the spirit of the season I've been on a tidying and clearing out blitz around the house.  It's been wonderfully cathartic. I've thrown away stuff I've been holding onto for years (old Christmas cards, cassette tapes from the 80s - the bad, embarrassing ones, school assignments and... even some cookbooks!

I was inspired by my friend Gianna, who told me all about her pre-three-month-world-tour packup.  When sorting through her belongings she asked herself the question, "Does this have a role in my future life?" If it did, it stayed, if not then it was turfed. I found it to be a wonderfully effective way of dealing with the reflective, sentimental items that we (I) tend to keep.

So with this in mind, the other night I finally got up the courage and stamina to tackle my pile of Gourmet Travellers and Delicious Magazines. I cued up some bad TV and got ripping. The result was primarily a lot less bulk on my cookbook shelf but secondly, and more interestingly, a distillation of the food I'm  drawn to make and eat at the moment, namely: coleslaw, salads featuring apples or figs or nuts, anything with lemon and lemon on everything, halloumi with watermelon, tacos tacos tacos,  skewered things, ceviche and juicy tomato salads with basil and balsamic.

The last picture is a little experiment of mine with lemon curd (very loosely adapted from this recipe) and inspired by a visit to Newtown's Black Star Pastry

Hope you have a lovely weekend ahead!


Monday, November 14, 2011


The flowers here are crazy beautiful at the moment, almost good enough to eat. With this recent rush of springy warmth, there has been an explosion of Jacaranda in the neighbouring streets near our place.  My walk to work has become a fresh, new delight and I have moments where I feel like I'm in another place entirely, full of new things to be discovered.

And speaking of discoveries, I've been very much enjoying:
- vicarious travel adventures up north
- Annie Leibovitz's photographic pilgrimages
- marvelling at these edible landscapes

Hope you're having a nice week so far.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

with a fiercely confident conviction

I can always tell when spring has sprung in earnest because I really start to get my salad on. I'll start lusting after juicy tomatoes, watermelon and lemon, greenery of all kinds (cue rocket, cos lettuce, spinach, peas) and crispy things like celery, sugarsnap peas, cabbage and carrot. Meals tend to become more affairs of assemblage rather than of baking and simplicity is the order of the day. This weekend I managed to cover a few of my spring favourites: frittata, coleslaw and more than a few bowls of rockmelon.

Coleslaw is one of those classics, along with potato salad, that tends to stir up fervent feelings when it comes to ingredients included and excluded, technique and most importantly whose mum's recipe is the best. I remember at several picnics and family gatherings over the years listening to my mum and other women debating herb choice and dressing style with a fiercely confident conviction that theirs alone was the correct method. Generally these debates ended with the age old assertion, 'Well, that's how my mother made it.' And that there is what I think keeps us coming back to these classic dishes - the familiar, comforting homeliness coupled with the desire to make it our own.

I say all this as a pre-cursor because below is by no means a definitive recipe it's just my current riff on a classic, done in the way my mother likes to do things - which is fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style, recipe-free and made with what is at hand (also, with gusto).

Adapted from memory

1 large carrot, grated or chopped finely
1/2 savoy cabbage, shredded
1/4 red cabbage, shredded
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 capsicum, thinly sliced
1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
1/2 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbs wholegrain mustard
zest and juice of one lemon
splash of white wine vinegar

Prepare all the vegetables and combine in a large bowl. If you have time (or the inclination) you can marinate them overnight in cold water and and a small amount of vinegar, to give them a slightly pickled, tangy edge. I'm a big fan though of adding the tang in dressing form. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, mustards, lemon zest, juice and vinegar, mix thoroughly and pour over the salad. Toss to combine.

Interesting side note: In the process of making this salad I thought I probably should check Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion just to see if she had any definitive tips on making the classic coleslaw.  I had to smile when I read the entry for Coleslaw, master recipe...
Make a mixed coleslaw of red, green and crinkly-leafed cabbage and dress with a mustardy vinaigrette. 
And there you have it.

So, in an attempt to avoid over-explaining another classic, I shall just say that on the weekend I also made a spinach frittata with tomato, pesto and goat's cheese.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

putting on the spritz

We're having some confusing weather here in Sydney of late - it feels almost like we're going back into Autumn, in keeping with our northern neighbours. Still after the 34 degree day we had last Monday it's almost a bit of a relief. But it made for a strange week. Monday felt like Friday, Tuesday felt like Friday... there was a bit of a pattern going on.

So you can imagine my relief when Friday did arrive and I had the day off to boot! The night before we had gotten dressed up to attend the Bombay Sapphire Design Awards and enjoyed several quite delicious gin variations, along with some pretty nice sliders, salt and pepper chicken shots and a few other tasty morsels. Amazing as those gin cocktails were, I couldn't get another drink out of my head. Just the week before I had been introduced by Deborah, a lovely colleague at work, to the Aperol spritz - the promise of summer in a glass.

The Aperol Spritz is popular in the Veneto region of Italy and is made with Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), Aperol (an orange liquer) and a splash of soda water.  As an aperitivo, it's a great way to start a meal because the Aperol has a reasonably low alcohol content and the drink tastes light and refreshing - spritz is the word. Here's how you go about making it:

Aperol Spritz

3 ounces Prosecco (or any sparkling wine)
2 ounces Aperol
a splash of soda water
garnish of orange or lemon

Pour the aperol into a glass of ice cubes.  Add a splash of sparkling water then top with the Prosecco. Garnish with lemon or orange slices. Sip whilst leaning back in your chair, pretending you're looking out over the rooftops of Venice, the sounds of evening church bells ringing gently in the background.
Wonderfully refreshing! With Melbourne Cup just around the corner, I may have already found a winner...


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The light has been amazing in the evenings of late. I'm enjoying getting home and still having time to savour it for a few hours - bless you daylight savings (for the moment at least). It's nice to have time to catch up on reading, to linger over dinner preparation. There's something about having a glass of wine whilst the sun's streaming in the back window that makes summer holidays feel that much closer. I know it's only October still but roll on the festive season!

Some things helping me get into that holiday spirit:
This upbeat song;
Vicarious travelling adventures from my desk;
Compiling summer reading wishlists - I'm especially looking forward to reading Tales from High Mountain by Tara Austen Weaver (who writes the wonderful blog Tea and Cookies) about her time spent in Japan - more vicarious travelling - can you tell I'm ready for a holiday?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

smakfulle øyeblikk

It's been a little (long) while since I stuck my head out here and said hello... so hello there and hope things are going well with you.

As for me, I've been keeping busy - making salads and birthday cakes, running and reading (lots) but also suffering a mild case of bloggers block. Now and again the internet (and the world at large) can get a touch overwhelming and it's in those moments you sometimes need to take a break to refocus, to find the joy in small things again.

I think Meryl Streep said it rather well in the movie Adaptation:

There are too many ideas and things and people. 
Too many directions to go. 
I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something, is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. 

Still, sometimes it just takes making a simple cake or a rocket salad or snapping a photo or even a great phrase to get you back on the horse so to speak.

The other day I discovered the wonderfully onomatopoeia-ish phrase smakfulle øyeblikk on this great blog. It's Norwegian for tasteful moments. And my word it's those tasteful moments that you've got to savour. They're not always the big brash momentous occasions you think will be important but the quiet spaces where you feel unexpected peace - in the kitchen, on the phone, in the garden, reading a good book, holding hands. Those words acted like a smack to the head, a whimsical nudge back into the land of here.

So, whilst I'm here, a few things I've been enjoying of late:
Inspiring questions;
This book;
Salads, specifically those featuring rocket, walnuts, parmesan, apple and balsamic - our rough and ready take on the great waldorf;
Inspiring lessons in creativity.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

my plans for the weekend

Hello there...

... Goodness time flies when you're a year older. I realise it's been almost two weeks and I've not written much here at all. But all is well, September is gunning on and I'm positively trembling with excitement about the extra warmth in the air and the prospects of T-shirts, sandals and salads.  It's Friday now and there are supposed to be some summery temperatures hitting us here in Sydney this weekend - 27 degree type temperatures - very exciting indeed!

My plans for the weekend so far include reading more of an addictive new book, watching Daria (a favourite from high school days and a surprise birthday gift from Kristian) going on some walks and taking pictures...

Oh and I'm sure there'll be some cooking and eating too. I recently discovered the words smakfulle øyeblikk are Norwegian for tasteful moments - I couldn't imagine a more beautiful onomatopoeia-esque description of the beauty of food.

The weather is so beautiful here right now - perhaps I can throw in some beach action as well...

What are your plans?


Sunday, September 4, 2011

birthday weekend

I turn 31 today - good heavens! But I'm in good spirits because Kristian and I just came back from a weekend in the Blue Mountains - a weekend of views, relaxation and lots of delicious food and drink. We stayed in a little cottage right near Echo Point and the Three Sisters and were minutes away from the breathtaking views. Looking out over the valley we felt like we were standing on the edge of the known world. It was a clear day yesterday and we could see for ever.

Although we only stayed for two nights I somehow managed to pack enough food for a least a week so, whilst there was lots of amazing snacking, great meals what not, there was also a fair bit of lying on the couch with a full belly groaning. No complaints though, it was so nice to escape from the city for a few days, to read and play cards, to wander in the bush and generally loll about.

Some highlights: the flowerpot scones at The Wayzgoose Cafe in Leura, a surprisingly good coffee at the top of Scenic World, hearing Japanese schoolgirls screaming as they went down the Scenic Railway (I screamed internally), homemade kebabs at the Katoomba waterfalls for lunch, the miner's cottage in the bush, hearing the incredible vocal mimcry of the Lyrebird and Norman Lindsay's house (and cafe - where I had to have yet another round of scones!)  All in all a damn fine birthday weekend!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

bye bye winter

The sun came out big time in Sydney today and it felt like Winter was already a distant memory (well it almost is - hello Spring). It was warm and sunny and I revelled in my short sleeved shirt, feeling the sun on my arms.  I'm already dreaming of picnics, walks after work, long afternoons in the lead up to summer, lots of rocket filled salads and sparkling, mint filled mojitos.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

food for friday

I've discovered the picturesque wonderfulness of pinterest food boards and so has my stomach.

I think I'm not alone in eating with my eyes but heavens it's becoming a bakelust expedition every time I go on there now. I've started a little file there called eat and have been enjoying adding some of my favourite things. Pinterest is also a strange and fascinating world to browse when it comes to food.  You might find something beautiful and inspiring or something truly bizarre. There are some scarily over the top sugary creations on there let me tell you.

It's also interesting to see patterns in what you pin and from where. At the moment for me it's vegetables and green things of the pesto type variety, lemon and bagels. I'm finding lots of good things on some of my frequent go-to sites for inspiration - roost, green kitchen stories, sprouted kitchen, simply breakfast and whole larder love.

Happy pinning and happy friday!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ham, cheese, chairs and lights

Some photos from the weekend, a few days of being surrounded by design, people, food and drink.

Last Friday and Saturday, Kristian was involved in an exhibition, Artisan, which featured several product and furniture designers, as part of Saturday in Design.  It was a massively hectic but enjoyable experience - there were more than 1000 people through the showroom on Saturday - and a great opportunity to be a part of an inspiring collaboration by young, Australian designers.

It was also quite a day for indulging in food and wine.  In my role as door wench, I got to meet some weird and wonderful people during the day and to see them demolish a 10kg ham, several massive wheels of brie and gruyere and countless bottles of wine.  I may have also enjoyed a cheeky wine or several but after 9 hours on my feet they were very necessary.

After the show, we kicked on at the after-party at the Piano Room, where we enjoyed some incredible canapes and by 10.30pm I was happy/tipsy crying into a burrito at Guzman y Gomez. Quite a weekend indeed!