Life is all about balance. I get that. So in lieu of yesterdays gluttonous gorge by the way of sublime strawberry shortcakes, I figure today’s eating pleasures must be that much more ‘responsible’ in nature and centre around a more health conscious approach. I am in the need of Zen, some cleansing calmness, some sort of goodness that can only be achieved by the way of food. However, do not be fooled into thinking this means I will surrender my need for taste satisfaction, no. It simply means I will steer clear of the baking and sweets realm (for today...one day at a time) and head to the blissfully angelic fruit and vegetable arena instead.
Today I baked strawberry shortcakes. Why? Because I felt like it. I’m in a very ‘country/old fashioned/nostalgic/country women’s association’ kinda mood and the only way to get this out of my system, in my opinion, is to bake strawberry shortcakes. They’re cute, old school and pretty...three good enough reasons to get my bake on.
I am always on the hunt for new sauce recipes to accompany grilled meats. It’s what I do. My mind is almost always on food and my latest quest for culinary perfection has been my obsession with finding a collection of sauce recipes that will add flavour and guaranteed happiness to any grilled meat.
I know you won’t find it hard to believe me when I say it’s a very rare occasion for the cake stand resting on my kitchen counter to be empty, it is always filled with some sort of sweet sugary delight; chocolate chip cookies, almond studded biscotti, a simple lemon yoghurt cake, coconut macaroons, some kind of ‘in case of emergency’ sugar fix is always there. But alas this morning as I stumbled towards the coffee machine searching for my morning wakeup call I witnessed a very eerie site. The cake stand was empty. And I mean empty. Crumbs do not count. I felt unnerved to say the least. For me, a home doesn’t feel quite right without a sweet/cake/brownie/muffin on the kitchen bench. I mean it’s now simply a house and no longer a home. This matter must be rectified immediately.
I love shopping at the food store, seeing all of the beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables sends me into a delirious state of happiness. I love the daily ritual of examining the shelves to see what produce is singing out to me in all of its seasonal glory. This morning I was doing my usual heavenly glide from one shelf to another when I spotted two of the most glorious peaches. In the back of my mind I was deluding myself into thinking that perhaps by some miracle the fig season may have arrived early this year, but the thought quickly fleeted the moment I spotted the plump, juicy, little peachy darlings. I knew I had to have them.
When it comes to midweek suppers I find that convenience, ease and simplicity motivate my cooking choices rather than my usual greedy hunger and appetite. There are times when I need the food to be fast, easy and no fuss however still remain delicious! And just because I am short on time and energy doesn’t mean I am short on my need for supper satisfaction. So when nights like this arrive I call upon my simple yet delicious Spaghetti all trapanese recipe.
Ah, Tuesday morning has arrived, the sun is shining, the sky is clear and the day is beautiful. And today I have decided I need muesli. And not just any store bought version, I need something a little more special than that. I have a fridge full of juicy, plump, heart shaped strawberries that are singing out to be gobbled up and the cutest punnet of tiny blueberries that also need to meet their maker. And in my mind I can think of no better way for these two delicious fruits to be
eaten celebrated than alongside a bowl of creamy luscious yoghurt and homemade muesli.
Everybody loves cookies. Me especially. And when I go about making a batch of cookies, it becomes very serious business. I am very particular with what I consider to be a great cookie, for me it has to be gorgeously tender, melting in your mouth with a slight fudgy chewiness. The outside of the cookie must be cooked until golden, to give a crisp, slightly crunchy textured edge that balances the chewiness perfectly. Cookies must always contain some form of chocolate, and for me that means Lindt dark chocolate. And finally, cookies should be easy to prepare, meaning preparation and cooking time totalling 30 minutes max!
Whenever I find myself at a restaurant I always politely smile as the waiter hands me the menu but as soon as that menu hits my hot little hands I immediately focus my attention and flick from the food list directly to the wine list. Why? Because for me that’s where all the fun is. I mean I love cooking and I eat what I think is pretty great food at home, so I am never that overly excited about the food menu at most restaurants...HOWEVER what I don’t have at home is an enormous wine cellar with a unique array of interesting and rare wines and that my friends is what gets me excited!
It is a universal phenomenon that the moment you’re in a serious relationship people feel the need to ask you when you’re getting engaged. Once you’re engaged those very same people now change their line of questioning to ‘so when are you getting married?’ and then the day you get married you fall into a naive sense of security thinking that the questioning is over, you can now enjoy and live your happily married life in peace...that’s until the next question comes along...’When are you going to have a baby’. My mother couldn’t even make it through the wedding reception without hinting; in fact she finished her mother of the bride speech by declaring ‘Bring on the grandbabies’. Thanks mum, thanks a lot. And she didn’t stop there, she’s even gone as far as making a ‘baby room’ at ‘nanna’s house’ and has started to collect dolls house furniture for her granddaughter. It just makes me laugh, Mum we’re not even pregnant and when we are there is fifty percent chance the baby will be a boy, which means your doll house days are over before they even started. Just between you and me I think she secretly bought the doll house for herself, but that’s another blog post.
Steak with a glass of Shiraz…the ideal mid-week pick me up. I feel as though, in life, you have to take your pleasures where you can get them and when you’re experiencing the madness of a crazy week, retreating home to a wonderfully cooked steak and glass of vino is just the way. And last night we did just that. Perfectly cooked steak with herbed butter, pan fried thyme and parsley potatoes and lemony salad leaves.
I awoke this morning expecting a warm, sunny, clear and bright spring Brisbane morning but what I encountered was quite the opposite; dark, cloudy, moody, sullen, cold and windy with rain on the way. Mmm…excuse me mother nature but I have raspberries to cook with today and your weather mood is of no assistance whatsoever.
I love Saturdays! Of all the days of the week, Saturday is, by far, my absolute favourite...mostly because Rob and I get to spend the entire day together. If we decide to leave the comfort of home we usually begin the day with an amazing breakfast at one of our Saturday hang outs, where we sip coffee, read the papers, giggle at each others’ horoscopes for the coming week, pick at each others’ plates of breakfast (usually bacon and eggs in one form or another), and just relax! It is complete bliss. Then, in order to ‘walk off’ our ‘food babies’ we usually stroll through the surrounding stores, antique shops and food grocers and it’s not long before our minds turn our attention towards dinner. Our Saturday night dinners are a true ritual for us. We are SO not the socialite couple! We love staying in and being at home! So for us cooking the perfect Saturday night supper is all part of the fun. And yesterday, divine intervention met us in a truly inspirational way with the thought of one amazing ingredient...Pork Belly!
Warning: To all of my lovely vegetarian friends, please avert your eyes now. Thank you.
I almost (very stupidly) dismissed this recipe the moment I came across it. It instructed me to boil two whole oranges for half an hour prior to making the cake and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed. I wondered 'why go to all of that effort'? That’s until I started thinking about how intense this cake would be considering it had two whole oranges, ‘skins and all’ in it. My curiosity got the better of me and I am so thrilled that it did. This cake is intense and I mean orange intense! It’s syrupy, sweet and dense however it also manages to be fresh, light and zesty all at exactly the same time. But it’s not just the orange that I love about this cake, I also adore the almond meal! Almond meal is simply finely ground almonds with the skin on and in this cake the almond meal gives the most incredible moist texture and sweet nutty flavours to the crumb! And another ‘love factor’ of this dessert is that it can be made celiac friendly simply by omitting the small amount of flour and increasing the almond meal.
I think I have well and truly settled into married life. How can I tell? Well, I now possess that mysterious power that comes with being a married woman...I know exactly what my husband is going to say the moment I ask him a question. Case in point; each and every morning I ask my husband the proverbial question ‘So honey, what do you feel like for dinner tonight?’ And with my new found power I know his answer before he’s even had the chance to say it, ‘Just a plate of pasta darling’. I know, I know, this doesn’t exactly make me a psychic; it simply means I married an Italian man...to whom pasta is king! And this makes me a very happy cook. Why? Because pasta has to be the most simple yet versatile dish to cook, ever! Just when I think I have run out of new pasta dishes to try, I discover a fresh cookbook filled with yet another set of classic dinners to test out. I am also blessed with the changing of seasons, which bring along even more ingredients and inspiration to update my pasta repertoire with.
A bruschetta is a kind of italian open sandwich, made usually from a large loaf of sourdough bread sliced into one centimetre thick slices and toasted on a barbeque (or griddle pan for ease at home). The charred bread is then lightly rubbed a couple of times with a cut clove of garlic, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, making the perfect canvas for whatever toppings you like, which are endless!
That Lamb was the juiciest I have eaten since our melbourne honeymoon. (mind you the only Lamb dish I've had since then either) I was going to add some sauce to the mix but discovered the wine at the bottom of the pan and added liberally to the meat once cut and on the plate. Oh what a touch that was! Truly a great dinner... Thanks darling xx
Nothing says ‘home’ more than the smell of lamb roasting in the oven. Roasting lamb is still one of the most nostalgic pleasures for me. I love to cook lamb. Not only because I feel as though the oven does all of the work for me but because it’s such a simple satisfying supper. When making any kind of roast dinner I am always left with the slightest sense of smugness, I mean where can I go wrong? Cooking a roast is pure genius, you simply take a cut of your favourite meat, surround with potatoes, onion and garlic, season with salt, pepper and olive oil, add any herbs you have around the kitchen (sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano) and pop it into a hot oven. And voila, you can pour yourself a well deserved glass of vino and put your feet up whilst the oven slaves away in the kitchen cooking dinner for you. To me, a roast dinner means minimal effort for maximum pleasure, the perfect kitchen formula.
We all have goals in life. One of mine is to cook homemade gnocchi, those petite potato filled pillows of gorgeousness. I know it’s not as heroic as solving world hunger or negotiating world peace but it’s a solution to my families hunger, and that’s a start. However, cooking homemade pasta for the first time is a little intimidating, even to me ‘Miss I love to cook’. But not being one to walk away from a cooking challenge, I have scoured the pages of my favourite cookbooks looking for my equivalent to a ‘warm up session’, a practice before the big gnocchi game. And I found it! ‘Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Tomato Salsa’, thanks to the latest Donna Hay magazine! I feel as though these dumplings are the ‘basecamp’ to my gnocchi ‘Mt Everest peak’. They are my stretch and warm up session. I am not quite ready to tackle the real deal just yet, but by successfully whipping up these delicious babies I have certainly boosted my confidence. The dumplings are quite similar to gnocchi, they start as a dough, are rolled into balls, dropped into boiling salted water and fried in butter to finish, the only real difference is instead of potato I used ricotta. This exercise has revealed something quite dramatic though...these dumplings may even be more delicious than my beloved gnocchi. They really are that good. I mean when they’re cooked they are incredibly crispy and golden on the outside with the most lovely, silky, fluffy ricotta interior. And the tomato salsa is pure perfection! It marries perfectly with these dumplings as it adds a light, zesty, fresh finish and when served with a glass of crisp sauvignon blanc, it makes for a perfect Brisbane spring evening supper.
Growing up, the sound of the primary school home time bell was pure music to my little ears, especially on a Friday afternoon. Although I never won any track and field events at our school sports day, or came anywhere even remotely close, I was by far the quickest kid out of my chair, through the classroom door and to the port rack to collect my bag each and every Friday afternoon. The race continued as I quickly scrambled to the school front gate, with my eyes peeled until I spotted my forever dawdling little brother and sister. My speedy mission continued all the way to the car where mum would be patiently waiting for us. You see, the thought of a Friday afternoon thrilled me, not only because of the looming weekend involving endless hours of reading my favourite book series, ‘The Babysitters Club’ (I know, how sad but don’t worry my sister teased me incessantly) and netball games, but my parents had each and every Friday at home, no work...which guaranteed this greedy little girl the most extra special, wonderful, amazing dinner AND dessert I knew of. To me, arriving home each Friday afternoon was filled with so much anticipation, what had Dad been cooking all day? Was it his mouth watering lasagne, creamy chicken curry, special roast chicken and gravy AND more importantly what amazing dessert had he quipped up for us?
Returning from our Melbourne honeymoon we stepped through our front door to find a sparkling clean apartment, a mammoth bunch of white and pink lilies, freshly baked bread, a cinnamon spiced apple tart, biscotti, fresh fruit and the cutest tray of cupcakes I think I’ve ever seen…ahh so this is how it feels to have Italian parents-in-law water your plants whilst you’re away. Yes, I could get used to this.