My lovely friend Rosie took me for a drive to Cowes on Phillip Island a couple of weeks ago. Cocooned as I have been in Melbourne’s inner north, the drive through the south-eastern suburbs and out into Gippsland was at once recognisable and delightfully new. It reminded me of the places I had once lived, when I was growing up, when I was a happy newlywed, when I had babies… Continue reading Day 1 – Pasta with Roast Pumpkin, Pesto and Tomato
There is a school of wisdom that says if you are going to make a pasta bake then for goodness’ sakes, make lots of it. From there you have two options – either invite everyone you know to share it with you or freeze half a batch for another time. Either way, when preparing a lasagne or a cannelloni or even a pasta bake, it is impossible to make just enough for just four people. Not only that, the finished result looks paltry compared to the time and effort involved.
It’s far better to go the extra distance and make enough for a small army.
So, to that end, let me give you the bad news – this meal cost nearly $20.00 to make. The good news? It feeds at least eight people.
It started because my housemate bought 800g of fresh ricotta. Why she bought so much I don’t know, but there it was, a meal waiting to happen. What followed was a combined effort. She made the tomato sauce and pronounced herself happy with the results and I think you will love it as much as I did – it’s a lovely creamy version of a tomato ‘sugo’ without an overwhelming acidity. I added a more conventional béchamel sauce over the top and together we ate this meal for three nights in a row, plus a couple of lunches.
I told you it could feed an army. Continue reading Day 10 – Ricotta and Tomato Cannelloni
You know you’re truly settled into Melbourne when you join in and blame the weather for disrupting your enjoyment of the day.
In my case, plans were made to attend the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a concert at the Myer Music Bowl. In eighteen months of living here, I have not been to the Bowl, a fact duly noted by the friend who suggested I might like to go. Plans were made, rugs and cushions were corralled, a picnic was prepared.
And then the weather ramped up. After 45 minutes of sitting in stultifying humidity and oppressive heat, we abandoned our plans. Never mind, my friend observed, there was always another concert we could go to later in the week. We ate the picnic in air-conditioned comfort instead.
Three days later and I prepared another picnic in remarkably different conditions. To begin, the weather was balmy and gentle. However it was now midweek and a day before shopping and the fridge was bare. It yielded scraps of cheese, half a tub of sour cream, some cherry tomatoes. Using Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry as a base, I came up with this tart and together with cushions, rug and some Prokofiev, it provided everything we needed for a truly lovely evening.
Melbourne, you dazzle. Continue reading Day 6 – Brie and Tomato Tart
There are omelettes, that fiendishly quick and artfully rolled egg dish best exemplified in classic French cooking and then there is everything else.
That’s not to say there are bad ways to prepare an omelette, it’s just that Spanish omelettes have suffered in comparison. And yet it’s the style of omelette that we are most familiar with: Cook a thin layer of beaten egg, add a spoon of filling and deftly fold half the egg over to encase the lot.
A spanish omelette refers principally to the rich tomato and paprika based filling but from there you can make it meat based or a vegetarian option. I’ve done it with tomato, capsicum and paprika but feel free to add some cubes of ham or some smoked chorizo to the mix. Potato cubes work well, as do a few left over roasted vegies from last night’s evening meal. Continue reading Breakfast – Spanish Omelette
Having never uttered a public political statement in my life, I am about to break my rule. This is as much a shock to me as it is to you, but please bear with me: I have my reasons.
You see, it has something to do with TV cooking shows, or rather , one specific TV cooking show – Kitchen Cabinet. A lot of the show’s charm has to do with my girl-crush, the very clever political journo and extremely good conversationalist, Annabel Crabb. The other attraction is the build it and they will come scenario. Make dessert, take it round to a politician’s place and talk over a great meal.
What is your pantry staple? What’s the one item you always have in your cupboard from which you can reliably create a meal?
For many of us, it’s hard to go past dried pasta. It’s cheap, can lend itself to all sorts of flavour combinations and takes minutes to cook. Best of all, a packet of pasta on the shelf can make those last few barren days before the next big grocery shop seem a little less fraught. Because Italian cuisine is based on a few good ingredients, simply cooked, we know we can eat well even if very little else is available. Garlic and butter. Breadcrumbs and chilli. A tin of tuna. Parsley and lemon. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
This is just such a meal. It’s made from one bottle of tomato passata, one packet of pasta and one chicken breast – and even then, the chicken is optional. What a lifesaver.
The loveliest of breakfast fare includes those meals that you can do while still half-asleep and yet still look as if you’ve spent hours – and dollars – in attending to this most important meal.
Take cheese on toast for example. Ridiculously easy. Very popular. So easy to make-over. And all before you get out of your PJs.
The spicy red sauce in this recipe can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Simply warm it through in the microwave or in a small saucepan for half a minute, just to take the chill out of it rather than re-heating it to boiling point.
Back in March, Emma sent in this wonderful recipe to help celebrate the blog’s first anniversary and I promptly forgot all about it.
This is such a fantastic meal that I should have posted it far earlier and shared it with you all sooner. A mixture of tomato, chicken, lemon and fetta, this is the perfect mid-week meal. You don’t have to be too careful, you can throw it all into one dish, it tastes fantastic no matter how limited your skills are and it’s guaranteed to be a popular addition to your family’s favourite meals.
It’s a big call I know, but this is worthy of the hype.
This is what I make whenever the children request burritos in this house. It’s not authentic, if anything it’s more Tex than Mex, but that’s hardly the point. They are easy, quick and are inhaled rather than eaten.
Rather than yet more guacamole (not that there’s anything wrong with yet more guacamole), a tomato and corn salsa makes a nice point of difference.
A good sweet fruit chutney is popular throughout the world and here in Australia, with our British culinary roots, it’s not difficult to find a jar of the stuff in most pantries. It is however becoming increasingly rare to find some good homemade chutney.
I can vouch for this recipe as it’s been around in my collection for decades and makes a regular outing whenever tomatoes are at the peak of their season. This will make two to three cups of piquant chutney, ideal for strong-flavoured hard cheese, smoked ham, pastrami, silverside, bacon, steaks, roast pork, cold lamb. Or the lamb meatloaf recipe found nearby.