Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tim Tam time


Good on you Qantas.

You've been kicking some big goals with your marketing efforts of late.

And this Tim Tam effort is just a perfect little touch on Australia Day.

And even though I've been demoted to Bronze Frequent Flyer from Silver recently (I'm not bitter, I'm really not), I still think you're ace.

Keep playing the patriotic card, it's speaking to me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Salad session


Happy Boxing Kangaroo Day! It's like the day after Christmas, you know, Boxing Day. But it's the day after Australia Day. With an Aussie twist. Clever, hey!?

What did you do for your celebrations? I ticked something off my Victorian Bucket List and headed to the Hanging Rock Races. It was cold, but beautiful. A really nice day out - just wish I'd worn warmer clothing. 

I was starving when I got home and for once, could peer into a fridge full of groceries and take my pick of what I felt like for dinner. It's a rarity to have a well compiled fridge with meals planned for the week.

One of these meal plans included Pete Evans' chicken and avo salad that I saw in the recent Gourmet Traveller (thank you Optus for my three month free subscription!).

It was so easy to whip up and was enjoyed by all. I have sent the recipe off to a few friends already with strict instructions that they must try it. Immediately. But think it's only fair I share the love wider. So yummy. And healthy, I think?

Ingredients2½ tbsppine nuts1ripe but firm avocado, diced500 gmwhite or Savoy cabbage, thinly shredded300 gmleftover roast chicken, shredded60 ml (¼ cup)extra-virgin olive oil (optional)60 ml (¼ cup)lemon juiceSmallhandful soft herbs, such as tarragon, flat-leaf parsley and chervil, coarsely torn (I used coriander)Method
  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 170C and roast pine nuts on a baking tray, shaking tray occasionally, until golden (4-6 minutes). Set aside to cool.
  • 02
  • Mash the avocado to a creamy yet slightly chunky texture in a bowl, add cabbage, roast chicken, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and pine nuts, toss to evenly dress salad with avocado, season to taste, transfer to a platter and serve.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Holidaze


Nothing gets the year off to a good start like a holiday only two weeks back into work.

I've been back for eight days yet I'm flying off for a long weekend in Nelson, New Zealand tomorrow. I'm heading to a wedding of relatively new friends and can't wait to indulge in some holiday feasting. The wedding is at a winery, need I say any more?

Our holiday house has a spa on the rooftop so I've been madly scrubbing off remnants of old fake tans in readiness for a spray tonight, and if you follow me on instagram, you'll know I've been prepping for a bather-ready body with a week's worth of cabbage soup diet. I'll do a post on that next week.

I can't promise I'm "bather-ready" as such, but I have kicked the Christmas kgs to the curb at least. A darling friend shared some wise words with me yesterday that another gorge friend had bestowed on her: "you need to be body proud and just rock it"

So let's rock it friends. 

Bon voyage xx

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gifted

A quick debrief on my Christmas haul (because we all loved my annual wish list, oui?!) ...

I was a very good girl and Father Christmas was uber kind.

Look what he left under the tree!


Nespresso, Kate spade and my girl Sam. Nailed it, big man!

I was ridiculously spoiled by friends and fam and won't go into detail with a list of gifts but more than anything, above and beyond the material possessions, I'm very grateful for the time everyone gave me over Christmas - time with my niece and nephew, time with my grandparents, time with my friends and their new bubs, time with my pregnant gal pals, time with old workmates, time with my parentals, time with my godchildren and time with the bride. This is what I'll cherish from my two weeks home.

That, and the coffee ;)

I hope you all had lovely holidays and took time out to spend with loved ones.

xx

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Match made in heaven

With all this festive eating under my belt (more like shortening my belt) over the last few weeks, I thought it only fair to share some of my new fave treats.

Nibbles are my bread and butter, I could just graze all day every day. I think it's the 'order envy' beast coming out in me - I hate having to limit my order to one thing off a menu and inevitably always wish i could have wgat the person sitting next to me has ordered. But with nibbles, starters, appetisers, finger food, canapés ... whatever you want to call then, you can have a bit of everything.

Christmas Day was off to a great start with (amongst many other delights) one of my fave dips that is so delicious but so ridiculously easy. It's almost embarrassing, it's simple. I think my friend Sarah was the first to introduce it to me, and I know my friend Ad has made it for me lots (she's the one famous for Aunty Rach's tuna dip) but I've also seen donna hay roll it out aswell.

You can't beat it. 


Hommus with crispy chorizo.

Mince one chorizo sausage to chunky crumbs. Technically, you're supposed to skin it but I can't be bothered, and I don't have a magimix or food processor so I just finely dice the sausage.

Heat a big slurp of olive oil in a fry pan and add your chorizo crumb. Cook, stirring, until crunchy. It's good to let it really crisp up. Take off heat. 

Spread a tub of store bought hommus over a plate or platter. I guess you could make your own, but seriously ...

Spoon the warm crispy chorizo crumbs over the hommus, drizzling the oil from the pan over the dip as well.

Serve with grilled/toasted flatbread or bagel crisps.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Serial pest


Calm your farm, people. New blog posts are on their way.

But if you want to know what I'm up to in the meantime. It's this.

Serial. The podcast.

So. Addictive.

Get on it.

I'm only up to episode two and I'm hooked. A friend from work and my dear friend Alice have been raving about it and I was a sceptic, I must admit. It all sounded a bit geeky.

But it's not, it's cool. And it's so engaging.

(Is this where I admit I didn't know how to download a podcast on my phone? Amateur.)

Read more about it here and prepare to be sucked in.

Oh, and happy new year folks!

xx

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy house

I'm a bit of a Mother Hen in my sharehouse and like to keep my housemates well fed. I just love cooking and feeding people and sharing a big feast with friends.

Christmas is a great excuse to get people together for a beautiful celebratory meal but this time . . . I put my foot down and insisted my housemates pitch in. Okay, so I was a bit of a control freak and wrote the menu and told them what they had to buy/contribute, but it all worked out brilliantly. Some couples bought and made their own dishes while others gave me the ingredients and I cooked it up on their behalf. Worked for me!

One couple did nibbles and I had to laugh - my actual housemate did nothing but her boyfriend totally took charge of the situation. His spread was quite impressive.

Then it was the main deal and my contribution - the turkey.






I did a Donna Hay recipe and it was brilliant. So so so tender and so easy and delicious. I can't believe how moist it was - I've always heard how easy it is to dry out a turkey breast, but this was perfection.

I ordered the turkey breast from the poultry man at the South Melbourne Markets. It was about 2kg for $53 and it would have served about 10 people I reckon. Recipe from here.

prosciutto-wrapped turkey
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2kg turkey breast fillet, skin on
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 15 slices prosciutto


Then for sides I allocated one couple to two salads. It was really nice to have everyone get their hands dirty and feel proud about their contribution.


This Ottolenghi one was a real winner. And so so so easy. Recipe from here.

We cheated and just put the beans in a bowl and poured boiling water over them, left them for a while then added the snow peas towards the end until ever so slightly cooked, then ran cold water over them. I really like my greens crunchy and this meant the team could stay out of the kitchen. Much better!


Green bean, snow pea and hazelnut salad
You can really play with this salad, the beans make for a perfect base from which to improvise. You could add pomegranate seeds, goats cheese and/or pinenuts. Or you could replace the mange tout with chickpeas or white beans, and chop the green beans into segments to make it a little bulkier.
Ingredients
300g (one std pack) of fine green beans
150g (one std pack) of mange tout
50g hazelnuts
15g chives
1 orange
1 tblsp sesame oil
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Heat the oven to about 150 oC.
Fill as big a pan as possible with water for the beans and mange tout. The more space you give them, the more they retain their vivid green colouring. I use a big old casserole pot. Bring the water to the boil.
While it’s heating up, trim and wash the beans and mange tout, keeping them separate. When the water is bubbling merrily away drop the beans in and cook for 4 minutes. Take them out, plonk them in a colander and run under plenty of cold water to stop them cooking further.
Bring the water back to the boil and drop the mange tout in and cook them for no more than a minute. Then drain them into a colander and run under cold water. Dry the beans and the mange tout with some paper towels and put in a large salad bowl.
Put the hazelnuts into the oven and roast for about 7 minutes. Remove and squeeze the skins off – they should mostly crumble away. It doesn’t matter if some bits are left on. Roughly chop with a big, very sharp knife, You don’t want them too finely chopped, there should be plenty of halves, even the odd whole hazelnut left.
Wash the orange and peel away the zest in strips, trying to minimise the amount of white pith you take with it. Slice the strips as finely as possible. Slice the chives in to 1cm lengths.
Add the hazelnuts, orange zest and chives, grind over some black pepper to the beans and toss until all mixed up. Add the sesame (or walnut, hazelnut, pecan or any other nut oil you might have) and olive oils and toss some more.
Serve at room temperature.

The next salad was one I've featured before - it's so Christmasy with those gorgeous gems of pomegranate.



The potatoes were the stand out of the night. Apparently. They got all the attention. Such a simple thing but so hard to get right. And we nailed it (I still think my turkey was the shining light of the evening!).

They were a Gordon Ramsay recipe without all the trimmings - we didn't do the turmeric rub that's recommended, just simple salt and pepper and olive oil. The key is the hot oil on the tray, and roughing up the potatoes after boiling. And turning them during the cooking stage.

It's so worth the effort.

Recipe here - but ignore the chilli and turmeric. Unless you want to be a bit adventurous.



Dessert was an age old favourite - sticky date pudding. I did my Mum's sworn winner - the Masterchef recipe that I featured a few years ago. I cooked it in a spring form tin the night before then just heated it up after main course. Served with vanilla icecream.

The praline was a winner. I doubled the recipe. Boom.

And I tell you what, I could eat that butterscotch sauce 'til the cows come home.




I have raved about the whole night non-stop so Mum has said I have to roll it out again for Christmas Day at home. Suits me just fine, I've had the dress rehearsal, I'm ready for the real deal now! We're currently sitting on the couch watching Maggie Beer's Christmas special and flicking through Christmas cookbooks looking for 'entree' inspiration. Christmas lunch deserves a more decadent starter than just nibbles, so we're tossing up different versions of prawn cocktails. So retro. So cool.

I'll be sure to post about our feast soon!

It's good to be home x