31 March 2013

Easter French Toast

Happy Easter Sunday! I have tried making hot cross buns a few times in the lead up to Easter but haven't been completely happy with any I made (though they all vanished anyway). I am a planner, I like to have an outline of what I'm going to be making for the blog weeks in advance, plan what will be available in different seasons, or what festive occasion is coming and play around with recipes so when the time comes it's easy. So even though I wasn't happy with my hot cross buns I still thought 'I have Saturday to get them right'... then I woke up with a cracking headache. At this point I cursed myself for having: (A) decided to start a blog in the first place when I could have days of absolutely nothing stretching out in front of me; and (B) deciding that my blog would have groupings of 3 recipes! Idiot! 

29 March 2013

Hot cross Easter pikelets

I don't know about you but the idea of spending several hours of my Easter weekend making hot cross buns just didn't appeal this year (plus I am yet to find a recipe that I really love and am willing to share). Instead these pikelets are super simple, quick to make and taste a lot like the real thing without all the waiting around or wondering how it is that shop bought ones stay soft for so long? Eat them warm or cold with lots of salted butter!

27 March 2013

Paasbrood (Dutch Easter Bread)

I literally do not know where time has gone this year... seemingly a minute ago it was Christmas and the long days stretched out before me. I would get home from work and lazily make some dinner, photograph it, eat it cold (one of the side effects of food blogging) then still have time to do... I'm not entirely sure what, but there was time for it anyway. Now it's Easter... I mean really, Easter? How on earth did that sneak up so quickly. The days are suddenly noticeably shorter and will only get shorter still in a couple of weeks when daylight savings ends. After the blur that has been the year so far the four day Easter break couldn't come soon enough, four blissful days of sleep and red tulip Easter eggs, of lazy breakfasts around midday and if the weather holds lying in the park eating more red tulip eggs.

18 March 2013

Three refreshing drinks inspired by WOMAD 2013

This time last week I was sitting under the boughs of a magnificent tree avoiding the direct heat of a particularly ferocious sun, drinking my first fresh coconut of the day and listening to the voices of the world. I was at WOMADelaide, a celebration of the World of Music, Arts and Dance, and an absolutley renewing four days for the body, soul and stomach. I love the respect people have for the venue, the beautiful botanic gardens in Adelaide and the way people of all shapes, sizes and varying levels of reservation leave all that behind and dance with utter abandon as the music goes through them - from the truly gifted whose whole bodies move with the rhythym, to those with arms flailing and legs contorting but radiating such joy it's infectious. So infectious that only now a week later have the tweaks subsided in what I can only assume are muscles I never knew existed in my armpits. It was dark, Jimmy Cliff in his 70's was rocking out with high kicks and ska dancing and if he was going to give it his all, then by god so was I!

9 March 2013

Pomegranate and Rose Water Marshmallows

Pomegranate and rose is a winning combination, aromatic with a hint of tartness. These marshmallows are the palest pink and are, dare I say it, a 'sophisticated marshmallow' (is this an oxymoron?), not dissimilar to Lokum (Turkish delight) but much lighter and not actually as sweet. Pomegranates have been an important part of culture and cooking for centuries, and have captured endless imaginations resulting in Greek myths involving them, cities names after them, countless golden age still-lifes painted of them and their inclusion on heraldic badges. Would Persephone be tricked by Hades into eating these pomegranate marshmallows? Well, if the underworld has pomegranates and marshmallows I think most people would be tempted...

7 March 2013

Indoor S'mores

If for whatever reason you can’t get out camping, or if camping appeals to you as much as sweet curdled egg white (we’ll get back to that in a minute), there is no reason you should have to miss out on the pure joy of campfire S’mores. I was lucky enough to grow up with an American mum who brought the S’more tradition to outback Australia, and to have a family who camped – a lot. Even when not camping we had a big open fireplace and would toast marshmallows on the end of sticks until the outside was charred and the middle oozing soft white goo, then carefully transfer it to a prepared granita biscuit with a square of milk chocolate. We always ended up happy with sticky hands and faces, and a trail of crumbs to our sleeping bags. Patience has never been a virtue of mine so instead of golden toasted marshmallows, I would jam mine right into the fire until it burst into flames, then wave it madly until it either went out or slipped off the stick into the ashes.

5 March 2013

Brown Sugar Marshmallows

There is something hugely satisfying about turning out a big slab of soft, springy, fluffy marshmallow covered in a drift of icing sugar and thinking, ‘I made that!’ After eating 15 marshmallows you think, 'OOohhhhhhhhhhhhh why did I make a giant slab of marshmallow when I am home by myself and am severely lacking in willpower’. Sometime later when they are all gone and you’re licking icing sugar off your fingers and out of the corners of the Tupperware you start thinking, they were so light, like eating air, maybe I’ll make more, I could easily double a batch! Do it…
I should clarify, do make marshmallows, they are easier than you imagine to make, but don’t double the batch unless you are planning on seeing lots of people soon.  They are just too easy to eat, dissolving in your mouth with a puff of sweetness and then you think, ‘just one more...’ . Before you know it the marshmallow has re-formed in your stomach as one giant marshmallow man and you are wishing the Ghostbusters were real and that they would help you with digestion, or save you from yourself by eating the rest of the marshmallows. Then you’d all sit around toasting marshmallows while Bill Murray tells jokes and compliments you on your cooking.

2 March 2013

Nasu Dengaku: Japanese Miso Glazed Eggplant (Aubergine)

On a cool summer's night wandering deep in an ancient cedar grove through a Japanese Buddhist cemetery we followed the faint light emanating from stone lanterns through the advancing mist. As we walked on from a place of deep calm and contemplation I turned to my husband and absentmindedly said, "Do you know... I really love eggplants". From that day forth in moments profound and solemn, in the middle of serious conversations about life or the future he turns to me with the greatest (feigned) sincerity and utters those words...

Yes, it was a little absurd to be pondering eggplant while walking through Koyasan, an extraordinary place of religion, history and beauty. In my defence we had just had dinner at the Shubuko temple lodging we were staying at and it was an extraordinary meal both simple and complex, thoughtful and thought provoking. Central to Koyasan cooking is the non-use of meat (including fish), garlic or onions, allowing you to really taste the ingredients, and the idea of balancing the food with the seasons so as to incorporate the flavours, presentation and colours of the season in the food being eaten for a holistic approach to food and your environs. Each dish is artfully prepared and arranged.