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.