24 April 2013

Anzac Biscuits 3 ways - Traditional, with Rosemary and Gluten Free

Tomorrow is Anzac Day. I have had the privilege of visiting Gallipoli, a place both powerful and poignant, and a physical reminder that we must never forget. I visited on a warm spring day, the smell of rosemary in the air from the many bushes dotted through the peninsula scrub, fat bees lazily looping around their flowers. The sky was a cloudless blue endless except for the white streak from a jet engine and Anzac cove was calm, the only noise the gentle lapping waves despite the numerous visitors milling around, we were all mute, silent with contemplation, trying to reconcile what we knew of this place with the bright landscape itself. It is hard to imagine just how difficult this terrain is until you stand on the escarpment and look down on the narrow strip of beach where the troops landed. How it would feel landing in darkness on that beach, coming under fire and looking up at the series of ridges you cannot ascend is a horror I cannot imagine.

22 April 2013

Roast Garlic and Butter Bean Dip

For a few weeks now I have had two beautiful bulbs of organic garlic sitting in what is meant to be a fruit bowl but instead has become some sort of bowerbird nest of seasonal bibs and bobs, only the bowerbird is colour blind and eschews the brilliant blues for the brown and autumnal. Russet leaves snatched up before they are sullied by the drizzle only to be crushed in my pockets. Dried leathery seed pods whose satisfying rattle amuse for two blocks then are absentmindedly shoved into my bag. Tiny conifer cones, seeds dispersed, gathered with notions of never to occur craft projects involving silver spray paint. Only remembered when I reach into my pocket on returning home and discover the rumpled (and lets be honest, suddenly drab) remnants of autumn... then I throw them in the bowl and forget about them once more.

17 April 2013

Heavenly Caramelized Garlic and Goats Cheese Tart

If you do not already own an Ottolenghi cookbook - buy one today, any of them, all of them, it doesn't matter so long as you have one to inspire your own cooking. They are filled with recipe after recipe that you just want to make, each one such a perfect pairing of flavours and textures you wonder why you aren't eating them right now. If I am stressed I like to go to a foreign supermarket where I am so quickly distracted by the unknown ingredients with their exotic possibilities I relax immediately. If I am exhausted I have a hot bath and either read the New Scientist starting with the "feedback" page, or flick through a cookbook, not really reading recipes but absorbing the pictures and letting ingredients lodge themselves in my psyche. Recently I was  neck deep in hot water, holding Ottolenghi's "Plenty" aloft so as not to turn it into a soggy mess and this recipe caught my attention - caramelized garlic, soft goats cheese AND mature goats cheese in a flaky pastry shell, I was instantly relaxed... to the point of drooling.

15 April 2013

Ode (Odour) to an Allium - Confit Garlic

Last week felt long. Late nights at work, yo-yo weather, saying yes to too many things and way too much coffee and sugar. My body definitely wasn't happy with last week, my shoulders have the tension of an olympic weightlifter without any actual strength; no amount of dewy moisturising mist with outrageous youthful claims would put me in the 95% of the people surveyed who look "10 years younger" and thank god for YSL touche eclat for those under eye circles lest someone mistake me for Fester Adams older sister. Enter the wondrous properties of my favourite allium - garlic (and a glorious weekend sleep in). These paper skin encased, pungent bulbs have been lauded for their medicinal properties for centuries, with everyone from the ancient Egyptians and Hippocrates to modern dieticians promoting its health benefits. On top of all that, it tastes great. Good for me and tasty? Hell yes I will eat you.

7 April 2013

Nashi Pear Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

About a month ago on a roasting hot day I was driving back from a day in Healesville and stopped at one of those roadside fruit stalls, enticed by the promise of local stone fruit direct from the tree. I went straight past the apples and pears and was fondling the nectarines when the stall owner cut into a Nashi pear and offered me a slice. It was perfect - cold, crisp and unbelievably juicy. I left with a big bag of Nashi's and nothing else. 

5 April 2013

Saffron and Maple Poached Pears

When I was in primary school I had to do a presentation on armadillos. I have always been terrified of public speaking so to shift the focus from me and under the guise of ‘armadillo education’ I made a cake shaped like an armadillo decorated with alternate bands of chocolate chips and slivered almonds, complete with a life-saver eye. It was a huge success; whatever I said in that 5 minute presentation was completely eclipsed by my seriously awesome cake. Needless to say I got 100% for that assessment. Did I learn anything? Australia doesn’t have armadillos and kids will always want the slice of cake decorated with chocolate chips instead of almonds.

2 April 2013

Autumn Pork with Pear, Potato and Fennel

Autumn is here and while I always imagine crisp mornings and clear days will ensue with big piles of crunchy brown leaves in the streets Melbourne is not, nor has ever been, one for clear concise seasons (nor is Australia known for its deciduous trees). Last week it was baking hot with wild winds, this weekend has been cold with rain turning any leaves on the ground to mush and prompting a thorough sort out of of my clothes in preparation for whatever may come this week. All I know for sure is that pears will be involved. Pears personify the colours of Autumn with Beurre Bosc in cinnamon tones, Red Sensation Bartlett's with orange sunset hues and the Nashi all green tinged with yellow. Good enough to eat!