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!  


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I'm not sure why but I've been obsessed with red food lately. Tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum, chilli - I've been craving them all, but tomatoes in particular. Hello lycopene!

My folks came over on the weekend for lunch and it was the perfect opportunity to try out a soup recipe I've been eyeing off for a while, featuring you guessed it - tomatoes, and to get some cheese and antipasto plate action happening. Nothing quite like leisurely Sunday feasting.

Rustic Tomato Soup
Adapted from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals
Serves 4-6

1kg ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine
4 large truss or heirloom tomatoes
1 fresh red chilli, or chilli flakes
4 cloves garlic
1 ciabatta loaf
2 small red onions
4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
a small bunch of fresh basil
some shaved parmesan to serve
olive oil
pepper and salt

Set your oven to 220°C and put a large saucepan on to low heat.

Pull the cherry tomatoes off the vines (but don't worry too much if there are a few green tops left on), then quarter the larger tomatoes and put them all in together on a baking tray. Crush in the garlic along with the halved, deseeded and chopped chilli, drizzle with olive oil and season. Toss everything around together then put on the top shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile roughly slice up the ciabatta loaf and put the bread on another baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and put in the bottom shelf of the oven. Keep an eye on the bread periodically to make sure it doesn't get too brown.

Now peel and chop your onions and put them in a hot saucepan with oil and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat up and leave to soften, stirring occasionally.  After five or so minutes, stir in the 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let it all reduce down.

Once the tomatoes are done, take the tray out of oven and pour everything in with the onions. Throw in the bunch of basil and then blend everything to a rustic consistency. Ladle into bowls and serve with some parmesan on top and your crunchy ciabatta croutons.

We demolished a fairly large antipasto plate before this and I was mistaken in thinking this soup would be a light main but trust me, it's a surprisingly full bodied little number.  My Dad claimed it was like a hot gazpacho and I'm tempted to try a cooled down version of this recipe in the summer months.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

figuring it out with oregano

One of the stranger weeks of my life this one. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it but I've been powerfully reminded of how important it is to appreciate the good things in life - family, loved ones, small moments throughout the day, a delicious meal.

And so, on to these tomatoes, which have been quietly looking at me all week as if to say, 'Well go on then, what wonderful thing are you going to make with us?'  And last night I finally figured it out.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
Adapted from Eating Well

4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally
a small bunch of fresh oregano, chopped 
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and a little grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

This is one of those simple, delicious meals or side dishes which you can pretty well make just from a picture but, if you want a few more steps - here they are (may I first heartily recommend quite a big snippet of oregano - it's pretty hard to overdo this in my opinion and it's like having Italy punch you in the nose, but in an aromatic and flavourful way).

Preheat oven to 200° C. Mix the grated cheeses and oregano together in a small bowl. Place the tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet and then top with the parmesan mixture, salt and pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. 

We had our tomatoes with rocket, balsamic and walnut salad but you wouldn't go far wrong eating them on their own or with some crusty bread. 


Sunday, August 7, 2011

hey bagel

This was bagel Sunday. After a week of dreaming about them, and gazing wistfully at photos of them on my pinterest board, I finally succumbed this weekend just gone and made bagels - one of the dough wonders I had yet to try at home.

With their crisp outers and chewy interiors, it was far too easy to eat two in quick succession and then I rested, hands on satisfied belly and thought - why have I not made these before?

These beauties are not hard to make but they do take a little bit of time and preparation so they're perfect for a weekend when you're pottering around at home. You can do some prep work and then make yourself a cup of tea, do some more steps, then relax with a good movie (may I suggest The American or Submarine - two very good films I saw on the weekend).
Adapted from Peter Reinhardt via The Wednesday Chef
Makes 6 to 8 bagels

3 1/2 cups all-purpose plain flour
3 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup warm water plus 2 tablespoons extra water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Poppy or sesame seeds

Firstly, dissolve the yeast together with the honey in the warm water and let rest for a few minutes. Then mix together the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, the yeast/honey/water mixture until the ingredients form a stiff ball of dough (adding a little extra water if necessary), then let it rest for a few minutes.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until it feels more pliable and smooth.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to several hours.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and remove your dough from the fridge.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (I just flattened the dough out and cut it like a cake into quarters and then eighths) and form each piece into a round ball by rolling it on a clean, dry surface. Now roll each dough ball into a long, sausage shape about 20cm in length. Pinch the ends together to form the round bagel shape, using a slight dab of water to get the ends to stick if necessary. You can then squeeze the bagel to even out the thickness although the unevenness gives a bit more of a rustic feel, if you ask me.  Now pop your bagels onto the prepared tray, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Here's where you can pop in a movie and settle in for a relaxing night, knowing you'll be having fresh bagels for breakfast.

In the morning, take the bagels out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to bake them. Fill a large pot with water, cover and bring to the boil. Once the water has boiled, add 1 teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and reduce the heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the oven on and heat to 220 degrees centigrade.

Test the bagels by placing one in a bowl of cold water. You want it to float to the surface. If it doesn't, let them sit for 10 minutes and try again. Once your bagel floats, you're ready to roll.

Gently ease each bagel into the simmering water, adding as many as will fit comfortably without overcrowding. Poach for 1 minute and then turn the bagels over with a wooden spoon. Leave them in for another minute then, using a slotted spoon, remove the bagels and return to the lined baking tray.  Sprinkle your bagels with poppy seeds or sesame seeds or nothing if you prefer then pop your baking trays in the oven for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes has elapsed, rotate the sheets and continue baking for another 8-10 minutes, until the bagels are golden brown. Around this time the most wondrous bready smell will begin to permeate the house. Get your lox and cream cheese ready. Remove the trays from the oven and transfer the bagels to a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. And oh the joys of serving and smothering in butter or cream cheese, or lox or marmalade or whatever really.


Monday, August 1, 2011

drinking up the last of July

Oh hello August, I didn't see you there.

It feels like it's been a busy time of late. Work, life in general, a wee spot of travel - it all adds up and all of a sudden you realise you haven't gone grocery shopping or written anything interesting in weeks...oops.

So July has come and gone and here we are in the eighth month. We're getting into the business end of the year now, birthday festivalling, warmer weather, spectacular amounts of sunshine, spring just around the corner... parties on the horizon. But before I get ahead of myself, let's take one last sip of July.

Yesterday we joined the entire rest of Sydney down at the Aroma coffee festival and imbibed a giddy, giggly share of caffeine and sugar before lunching down at the pub. There we enjoyed an accidental free meal featuring halloumi (the best kind of accidental free meal in my opinion) and it could only go up from there. A stellar afternoon really, the kind that holds the promise of spring and summer barbeques in its grasp. We rounded it out with some soup and toast, classic Sunday night fare, and a bit of Project Runway - hell yeah.