Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Designs in the key of yellow

As the southern hemisphere spring kicks in, the air warms up and the magpies swoop, I’m enjoying these little rays of sunshine…

Yellow stripe oilcloth – a little bit of 1980’s Giorgio Beverly Hills – this table-cloth is the first line of defence in the ongoing saga of Toddler with Texta vs Table.  (Toddler held scoreless since application of tablecloth. Hah).

Bottled sunshine – I got busy with some gleaned (well, they weren’t being used at the time) lemons and preserved them to add some kick to future Moroccan lamb curries. (I also got busy with Photoshop and made the orange look a bit radioactive).

I unearthed this little porcine squirt of citrus on at fruitflypie. Adore.

In an ideal world my three little monkeys would wear these fabulous little eco-cool booties whilst skipping around our self sufficient organic farm.  Back in the real world, they wouldn’t look so zesty after the daily grind of urban dirt/mud/sea water/spilled foodstuffs that my monkies would throw at them.

What a delicious combination of giraffe with sharp citrus notes.  I’ll hold down the giraffe, you skin it.

When life hands you lemons, make a Gin and Tonic.  Or when concerned about malaria.  But please, only with Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray. And only Schweppes tonic.  And none of your dodgy lo-cal weird tasting tonics either, go the full fat.


Therapy baking

Choc chip cookie

You are mine, all mine

I can’t control the passage of time.

I can’t control the economy.

I can’t control the weather.

I can’t control the children.

But I can control my baked goods.

With the right conditions, this little biscuit is at my mercy and will do exactly as I direct – no backchat, no attitude, no surprises.

Bake, little biscuit, bake.

In this little kitchen universe, you are mine, all mine. Muh hu hu hu hu haaah.

No really, what’s actually on your plate?

I greatly enjoy reading ‘My Day on a Plate’, the weekend newspaper article with some nubile young thing and what they eat each day, plus a critical assessment by a nutritionist of their dietary performance.  And performance it is.  Honestly, who makes a cooked breakfast of organic egg white omelette, freshly squeeze orange juice, and fresh fruit from the local farmer’s market with extra virgin Peruvian goats yoghurt each morning?  Methinks no one.   Come on you sanctimonious little food fetishists, fess up. 

If these people really ate what they say they do, they’d have no energy for the 2 hour intense cardio followed by 3 hour yoga session that they supposedly also do daily.  Lord.  I love that everyone goes along with this elaborate hoax, but maybe it’s time for a reality check?  Who do you know that really starts off each day with lemon squeezed into a glass of water – and isn’t that bad for the enamel on your teeth anyway? 

For comparison purposes here’s my day on a plate:

Coffee, bircher muesli with yoghurt, coffee, put apple in bag for snack later, sandwich for lunch, home made choc-chip cookie, oops, 2 chocolate covered almonds, oops, green tea, cheese on biscuit, homemade beef burgers with green salad and avocado, half glass of wine (tut, tut), followed by ice-cream since the growing baby demands it and it’s hot and humid and I darn well need it too, thank you very much.  Then a few more chocolate covered almonds.  It’s about then that I discover and remove the tired and squashed apple from bottom of bag, cut up, and put into worm farm.

Puddin’ time

“Eat away, chew away,  munch and bolt and guzzle,

Never leave the table till you’re full up to the muzzle.”

The Magic Pudding, Norman Lindsay


This Christmas I’m saying no to traditional English pudding.  There were unconfirmed sightings of the pudding steamer half buried in the sandpit, and this year, it can stay there.

This is the year of the panforte.  The Italians have improved the concept of cooking up fruit and nuts by adding chocolate to the mix, and avoiding the evils of mixed peel.

And the additional beauty of panforte is that you have to stir it all together really quickly before it completely firms up, or the mixture sets into nut-studded concrete – a fantastic workout for the bingo wings/tuckshop mother arms.

 The proof of the pudding:

 (Disclaimer: this is a panforte doing a dramatic re-entactment of my panforte – I couldn’t cut up mine to photograph since it has to be taken to our family Christmas, and if it’s already cut, it will look like I’ve been pigging out. And the photos of it that aren’t cut up just look like a mud pie covered in flour.)

Anyways, Merry Christmas – bring on the festivities.



Icing sugar for dusting
50g pinenuts
50g pistachios
50g hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
100g almonds, toasted
20g cocoa or 40g dark chocolate, melted
55g plain flour
40g glace cherries, chopped
20g dried cranberries
70g figs, chopped
60g dried apricots, chopped
60g raisins
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground ginger
160g honey (I substituted 140g maple syrup and 120g sugar for a honey-phobic family member)
100g sugar


Preheat oven to 140C. Grease and line 15cm caketin.  Put chopped nuts, fruit, sifted flour and cocoa, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl and mix well.

Over low heat, combine honey (or maple syrup) and sugar, stiring until sugar dissolves.

Bring to boil, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes (120C on a sugar thermometer if you own such a beast)

Quickly stir honey syrup into fruit and nut mixture. 

Press mix into prepared pan, flatten down top by putting down plastic wrap and pressing down.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes.  It will still be soft, but will harden as it cools. Leave in tin overnight.

Wrap in foil and keep in airtight container – it should keep for about a month.

Dust with icing sugar before serving. Cut into thin wedges to serve, unless you’re a total glutton.

Pearls before short-statured swine

Free range eggs from happy hens, shaved honey-glazed ham from happy pigs, Parmigiano Reggiano = one lovingly prepared tasty fluffy omelette.

So where’s my payback?  Where are my happy children?  Visions of cherubs eating their dinner disappear with the first omelette missile launched into my face.  Splats on the floor compound the ingratitude.

Total waste of time, money and ingredients.  I could have been doing my nails or watching Oprah.

Apparently children don’t starve themselves so force feeding isn’t necessary.  But it’s not their nutrition I’m fretting about, it’s the wicked waste.

I’ve read that making a child eat everything on their plate leads to eating disorders in later life.  But what about the mental disorder for the cook right now?

I’m thinking of tallying up the time spent shopping for ingredients, preparing food, wiping said food off the floor then washing up, and presenting the bill to my children on their 18th birthday. Because I’m a loving mother, repayments can be made in installments.

Fish fingers tomorrow night.

The urge to preserve

November in Sydney and summer is missing in action.  It’s cold, windy and raining intermittently.  We should be out crisping our skin under our very own hole in the ozone layer, but instead we’re wearing layers.

I’ve been driven inside, to the stove.  My inner domestic goddess is sterilizing my le parfait jars and preserving chutneys and relishes for the over-indulgence season ahead.

I’ve long been inspired by the river side picnic in Wind in the Willows, where the contents of his picnic basket are described by Ratty;

‘Shove that under your feet,’ he observed to the Mole, as he passed it down into the boat. Then he untied the painter and took the sculls again.
‘What’s inside it?’ asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.
‘There’s cold chicken inside it,’ replied the Rat briefly; coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrolls cresssandwidgespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater––’



As the influx of cold meats and left overs approaches, I’m boiling up some tasty accompaniments to give those cold plates of meat a good kick.  I’m making sweet-and-spicy tomato relish, piquant apple chutney, and some blow-out-the-sinuses chilli oil.  I’m also considering making some pineapple chutney, reputed to be excellent with ham, but I still need to overcome my lingering doubts connected with ham and pineapple pizza.

These jars will be put up in the store cupboard (ha! who has a ‘store cupboard’?) with smug satisfaction, then foisted on unsuspecting friends when I feel like coming over all Bree van der Kamp.

Ultimate Rocky Road Recipe – Pure Evil

Rocky Road 10 Dec

This is nutty, marshmallowy chocolate gluttony.  

I’m sharing this due to repeated requests, but please, for your own safety only make this to share with guests. Otherwise you’ll find yourself sneaking yet another piece till all you have left is rocky-road-textured thighs and an enormous chocolate-smeared grin.

The Ultimate Rocky Road

50g whole blanched almonds

75g shelled pistachios

250g rosewater Turkish delight, chopped*

200g marshmallows

40g dried cherries or dried sweetened cranberries

450g dark or milk chocolate, melted

Toast nuts on foil-lined tray in a preheated 200C oven for 5-8 minutes, until golden. Grease and line a loaf tin (8cm x 26cm).  Combine nuts, Turkish Delight, marshmallows and cherries/cranberries in a bowl. Spoon 1/3 of mixture into prepared tin, distributing different ingredients evenly. Pour 1/3 of chocolate over, then add further mixture, chocolate, etc until all used up with chocolate binding it all together. 

Refrigerate until set then cut into chunks. Store refrigerated in airtight container. 

*Fry’s Turkish delight in 50g packs coated in chocolate is suitable – it’s easier to chop up than plain Turkish delight which sticks to the knife like a barnacle on a boat.