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.
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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The way to my heart . . .

This is quite possible one of my favourite posts of the year - Kate's annual Christmas wish list!

My Mum is quite the present giver . . . she always nails it but I've realised it's because I'm quite specific in what I want! A little bit of guidance never hurt nobody, right?!

Look, I know these are all superficial gifts and I must seem quite shallow with this list of shiny pretty things, but this little blog is a lovely little escape from reality and the opportunity to indulge in the surreal.

So let me present Kate's wish list for 2014 . . .

My home girl Sam Armytage has released a book. I need a copy stat.

Nespresso Coffee machine. I tree hugger in me hates the landfill aspect of this gem, but I promise I'll search for a recycling option as part of the deal!

Kate Spade's 'place to go, people to see'. Love me a coffee table book.

Bally poster. This will be on my list every year until I get one. Oh how I hate not having my own house to decorate.

Stella McCartney fragrance. A staple. A must.

A facial. My skin has been rotten lately and I feel like a deep cleanse will be a great start to 2015.

Taylor Swift's album - 1989. Yes, I still do CDs.

Lady Chatterley's Affair 'Ladies Who Lunch' necklace. Because it's not Christmas without some LCA bling.

Kate Spade Tidbit Plate set from Brown Button Trading. Hello picnics in the park!

New pillows. Mine are gross and my neck hurts.

Workout gear. Especially a visor. I really want a visor (Who am I?! And what have I done with couch Kate?!). And the new Country Road activewear range is cute.

New sunglasses. I'm not sure what ones, exactly, but I'll quite happily take yours off you Mum . . .

I'm off to New Zealand in January so would also find a passport holder quite handy.

World Cup Tickets. Yes, I love my cricket.

And some other little stocking fillers (mainly because my brother just texted me to see what I wanted!), I'd love some new PJs, a battery operated electric toothbrush, some folding chairs, bodum coffee cups and a 5:2 fast diet recipe book.

Okay, enough already. You haven't been that good this year, Kate.

**Update! I need one of these! Not sure if it's the lemon or watermelon I prefer, but how fruitastic are they!? So sweet!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas in colour

Call me kitch, but I do love it when the colour of food reflects the season.

So my Christmas go-to at the moment is a light and fresh coleslaw - I want to call it Asian inspired, but is probably is more Mexican in flavour?

Great with a roast chook (which is exactly what I served it with at Carols by Candlelight with my friend Nadia this week) or of course, with pulled pork in a soft bun.


  • ¼white cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch(about 300 g/11 oz) radishes, finely sliced
  • 4spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2green apples, finely sliced
  • 1 handfulcoriander leaves
  • 1 handfulmint leaves
  • 2limes, juiced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Make the coleslaw by combining the cabbage, radish, spring onion and apple. Tear the herbs over it and squeeze in the lime juice, along with a small drizzle of oil. Season to taste.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Laneway Learning

I took myself out on a little solo Kate date tonight and treated myself to a Laneway Learning course. Have you heard of them? Brilliant, I tell you!

Lill put me on to them after she and Shuggie signed up for a Bollywood class. They're cheap and cheerful tasters of new skills and hobbies.

I found 'posy up my jar' listed for December and signed myself up - for only $25! That included an hour with an instructor, and a bunch of flowers to play around with ... and take home! You just had to BYO jar. Easy!

The instructor was @tweedtwigs and he was very helpful, I am no longer baffled by what goes where and how to start from scratch. It's just a kind of formula, I can work with that!

One friend laughed that I paid for such a course, but I'm not one of those naturally gifted people who can just pull things together effortlessly (yes, I'm looking at you Tina!). It's another feather in my bridesmaid cap!