Monday, October 26, 2015

miso butter

I blame Annabel Crabb* for my new (rare) dairy addiction. Patting this beauty into a log isn't pretty but it sure is tasty.

Miso butter

1 part butter (salted or unsalted it’s up to you)
2/3 – 1 part miso (I prefer darker miso e.g. hatcho or shiro)
1 spring onion (mostly white part), minced
1 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
(I’ve never added lime juice, maybe next time?*)

Chop the butter into cubes and put into a bowl. Sit that inside another bowl with a couple of centimetres of boiling water. In the couple of minutes it takes to get it a bit melted (technically I’d say the ideal meltage is a quarter) mince the spring onion and garlic. Start with one of each for your first batch. Before the butter melts too much add the miso and either mash together by hand or throw into a mini food processor for a couple of quick whizzes until combined.

Dollop onto a piece of cling film and “pat into a log”. Don’t worry if you over did the melting, it will firm up in the fridge.

Store in the refrigerator, technically it should be ok for a couple of months but once tried, its addictive!

How much miso? It depends on what miso you use and how salty you like your food. If you’re a vegemite fan go the full equal quantities but if you’re not a fan of super salty food start as little as half as much miso to butter, and taste as you blend.

My favourite uses:

  • Tossed through steamed asparagus.
  • On toast (tasted even better that vegemite and butter), cut into soldiers and dipped into a boiled egg.
  • On toast with grilled tomatoes or avocado.
  • A little stirred through scrambled eggs just before they set.
  • Big dollop on an old-fashioned jacket potato.
  • With corn on the cob.

* From her excellent podcast with Leigh Sales. Annabel's recipe verbatim.
“Take half a block of butter, cut the half in half and melt one of the halves and just mash up the other. Put 60 gm of miso and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and a spring onion (minced) and the hard butter in with the melted butter and mash and whip them all together. Then add a squeeze of lime juice. Then pat it into a log.”

Annabel’s favourite uses: Toss through freshly steamed green beans or mushrooms en papillote mushroom cooked in baking paper. 

There's nothing photogenic about a log of brown stuff, so feast your eyes on something I prepared earlier.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The (almost) tenth birthday post

As I write and post about food, travel and health elsewhere in the blogosphere these days, it's a bit of a shock to realise that this neglected blog is about to hit it's tenth birthday in a couple of weeks.

If you've lost the plot in recent years (as I indeed have) - here's a recap of the past 48 months.

1. I ate and massaged my way around Chiang Mai for a big birthday with a zero on the end of it.

2. Two months later I was wheeled into surgery to remove a rather large cancerous tumour from my belly.

3. I visited Hades, in the guise of 'modern' oncology. Drugs that f*ck with your tastebuds are a new kind of hell for any food lover. 

4. While hanging out in the underworld, I was overwhelmed by the support and generosity of so many friends from the blogging community. Especially those veg*ns! Thank you. I will never forget your kindness.

5. Strangely before this life disruption I'd been brewing a huge change in my work/life. The big move to Sydney I'd scheduled was only put back one month in the end.

6. The paint was barely dry in the hastily spruced up Inner West pad, when I headed to Europe for 4 weeks. I fell in love with Lisbon's colour, tastes and experiences, ate the best seafood pasta in Amalfi and scoffed homemade liqueurs in Sicily. I had a bit of a WTF? experience in Prague, long dreamed of visiting but it was overcast and full of pigs knuckles. Fortunately 9 days in Berlin (and a further week in London again) got my mojo back.  

7. After having some downtime from my business (being sick, convalescing, moving home and relaunching a new way of working online) I commissioned a designer and web builders and launched a fully updated site. I've talked at an international conference, run my first online course and fronted teleseminars.

8. Back to food - it's fun getting to know the cuisine of a new city. But Sydney is no Melbourne. The thing I've had to learn about eating here is there are no 'equivalents', no 'where's somewhere like (Melbourne restaurant)?' It's a different kettle of fish. Will share some of new faves here soon.

9. In May this year I had three amazing weeks in Sth America. Santiago was a bit like Wellington in the 1970s but greyer. Buenos Aires was fab - especially Palermo and environs. Rio was bonkers, a city on speed with amazing topography and views. I flew over the Igussu Falls in a helicopter!! And Peru is a land of contrasts from the first world food culture of Lima to a near siege experience at Juliaca airport (nothing like being in a tiny terminal surrounded by machine gun slinging police). I experienced the wonders of Machu Picchu and drank many pisco sours. It's an amazing country, though I'm glad I passed on the guinea pig.

10. I've just celebrated another birthday. The first spent in Australia in many years. Billy Kwong was the perfect place to toast the coming year. 

I'm very pleased to say I'm alive and (officially) very well. Looking forward to experiencing more of my local flora, fauna and food.

So what have you been doing while I've been gone?

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Report from Emerald City: Part one: finding my organic groove

A few weeks shy of the six-month mark since my move, I thought it was time for an update.

The  food adventures in my new home have been rather eclectic. This is largely due to my own dietary perculiarities combined with the Not Boyfriend now being in his third year of veganism. It has also been a year or so of unexpected hiccoughs, interrupting our cash flow – so we’ve been a tad parsimonious.

Sydney is a noticeably more expensive city to live in. From the price of produce to the inflated real estate market, eating out or at home just costs more. No longer having my tiny but productive 9 square metres of veggie garden doesn’t help either. Though I’ve got my name down on the waiting list at the nearest community garden (but that could take a decade to come to fruition!)

Organic produce

I mourn my mid-week pilgrimage to Vic Markets. Not just the healthy competition between the organic stalls and diversity of conventional produce available but the one-stop shop aspect of the market. There’s nowhere that even remotely replicates the quality and variety of the fresh fruit and vegetables, plus the diversity of the market hall vendors. I yearn for a single market to buy quality fish, great olives, fantastic bread, my weekly staples (oats, nuts and tofu) and graze delectable edibles. 

Pick of the crop

Orange Grove Public School
Cnr Perry Street & Balmain Road, Leichhardt, 2040, Saturday, 7 am to 1 pm. 
This has more organic stalls than all the food markets I’ve shopped at, plus interesting homemade food and a delightful array of plant stalls. It's nice to see plants and foods come together.
Bonus: ample on-street parking.

Marrickville Organic Market 
142 Addison Road, Addison Road Centre, Marrickville, 2204, Sunday, 7.30 am to 3 pm.
It's a little bit hippy with a relaxed atmosphere, the famed chai tent (or sloping lawn) and a wide variety of home cooked food to graze on. There's a dearth of Sunday markets, so that's a bonus.  A couple of beefs with it though. Despite the name, only one stall is 100% organic (but it’s a great one). Parking is a nightmare, necessitating being there by 8am if you need to drive. Not a lot of fun on a day off. But otherwise a charming weekend diversion.
Don't miss the amazing smoked olives available at the smoked salmon stall - at Leichhardt on Saturday and Marrickville on Sunday.

Fresh chamomile at Marrickville

Eveleigh Market at Carriageworks
245 Wilson St, Eveleigh, Saturday 8 am – 1 pm
Well curated and a good place to bring visitors, it’s handy for topping up on a few extras for the fridge and pantry but a bit pricy for a weekly shop. Favourites include the truffle oil, exotic mushrooms, flowers, pho stall (vegan and omni) and watching Kylie Kwong cook. There’s a knife sharpener as well, plus good coffee and pastries. Definitely a foodie outing for both locals and tourists.
Bonus: If you’re lucky you’ll catch Barbara Sweeney AKA The Talking Cookbook – I love what she’s about and if you're a reader of food blogs, you'll also enjoy having a chat with her.

Back to the weekly shop

After many weekends spent exploring produce markets and weekdays trawling through expensive health food stores (don't get me started), we’ve settled on ordering a weekly organic veggie box. After a couple of months buying one elsewhere for more than twice the price, we’ve settled on a Wednesday box from our local food co-op Alfalfa House and topping up on fruit and other goodies elsewhere as needed. The $25 box of organic veg is great value and always fresh (though oddly I often find the fresh produce in store expensive and of variable quality). We can combine a mid-week collection while restocking the pantry. There’s a great selection of grains, spices and pantry staples but it’s the tempeh collection that  exceeds my Vic market stalwart. The Byron Bay fava and seaweed (soy free) tempeh is exceptional. There's lots of other yummy stuff in the fridge including a locally made coconut yoghurt (the makers are sometimes at Eveleigh Market).

While I still dream of Melbourne’s cornucopia of goodies at an affordable price, the kitchen is now fully stocked with an interesting variety of fresh organic food. I’ve always loved the challenge of culinary improvisation, so a box of mystery goods (bar the turnips and capsicum!) is a joy to create from. 

The dreaded turnip

Despite the odd moments of frustration it has been fun exploring the shopping options in my new locale. And while I think I've finally cracked it, there's something new opening around the corner,  pandering to the gamut of Sydney food fads from vegan to paleo, with a side of kale and activated nuts.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

London Markets – the biggie at Borough

You’ve got to remember that My London was the one of Thatcher’s Britain. Grey skies. Muddy moods. Gritty.

Food markets were everywhere. They’d pop up in the morning along a street and often disappear without a trace around lunchtime. Barrow boys would spruik their wares. Long before twenty-first century eco-consciousness, markets didn’t run to the expense of plastic bags. You bought your basket, opened the mouth wide and they’d pour the produce in straight from the scales.

These neighbourhood markets were the lifeblood of every suburb in London. Mine was in Dalston.  Each week our large shared household would head down and buy produce by the pack load. There were many treasures I’d never come across before in New Zealand, especially all the exciting roots and leaves favoured by the local Jamaican community. Even the somewhat less exotic caused a thrill for a gal who’d never seen fresh beetroot before. The beets were sold boiled and slopped from steaming vats. Into a BYO container they’d slip and quickly taken home, sliced and doused with vinegar while still warm.

While it’s rumoured that the first incarnation of Borough Market opened in the eleventh century, its latest retail incarnation is comparatively recent and didn't exist in the Thatcher era. Let’s face it, you couldn't even get a decent coffee in London back then.

Fast forward to September 2014 and I finally make it to the hallowed halls (after a right neighbourhood/wrong day experience two years earlier). Did it live up to the hype?


I swapped recipes with the mushroom seller (her: ‘the giant fleshy mushrooms cooks and tastes just like chicken”, me: “the chantarelle’s taste amazing with potatoes”), gorged on some gluten/dairy-free rocky road (no marshmallow but biscuits and honeycomb), salivated at the beautiful tarts, olives, bread, currants, tomatillos…

Like those who have gone before, I feasted my eyes and my belly.

Revelation – the next time I make a falafel I’ll skip the obligatory iceberg/tomato combo and stick to hommos, Middle Eastern pickles and a large handful of fresh mint. This was one of the cheapest meals I ate in my week in London and arguably the best.

I don’t need to tell you how to find Borough Market – just bring your appetite, jump a tube to London Bridge and follow the hungry hoards across Borough High Street. 

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

the butcher, the baker, the...

Or rather the organic stall owner, the fishmonger, the guy who grinds my coffee.

There’s my favourite manager at the pub up the road, who always ducks out and shares a hug if she’s free when I pass by and restaurateurs in the neighbourhood strip.

These are the providores who populate my world.

And they’re the people I’ve been saying goodbye to this week - my favourite stalls at Vic Market, the local shops and restaurants.

It will take a while in my new city to find my food tribe, as much as I look forward to discovering them there’s something so special about Melbourne’s food community (and bloggers!) – from the multigenerational families who sell me feijoas or fillet the fish, to newer kids on the block who’ve garnered respect.

So in Sydney’s Inner West where I can get great vegan dips, or (not so vegan) fresh fish? Where are the freshest nuts and vibrant herbs? Come on Sydney – woo me and welcome me into your fold.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

So much to do, so little time

Am beavering away on a new website, moving cities and bouncing back to blooming health. More later.

Monday, March 17, 2014


It has been a while. I have indeed been missing in action, or more accurately missing action full stop.

Two months to the day after I had my idyllic birthday in Chiang Mai, I was whisked off on a hospital trolley into surgery. To say the last five month has been life changing (in not necessarily a positive way) is an understatement.

But this is a food blog.

What has lured me back?


Or rather to quietly bookmark a simple variation from Evan Kleinman.

For a vegan dark truffle base all you have to do is reduce a cup of stout on high heat until the volume has halved, then stir in 225g of dark glossy chocolate. Chill the mixture and roll in the usual way.

(The laughing buddha may be speaking no evil but I think what he's really saying is life's too short to eat crap chocolate)

In other news, the Significant Eater and I have adopted an adorable Burmese cat.

And the cat and I will be decamping Melbourne mid-year to move to Sydney’s inner west.

Now, go back and talk amongst yourselves.

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