Sunday, April 30, 2006


My weekend through food: friday night - a few drinks in the city then some average food at a joint in QV – a kiwi sauv blanc, fish skewers with middle eastern spices, couscous and rocket, crispy thin vegetable chips, spaghetti marinara…lindt intense orange dark chocolate. Saturday – short black, 100% rye toast with tahini, avocado and lemon juice…frittata with potato, red onion, garlic, olives and zucchini…a massive platter of sushi and sashimi at the little place in Brunswick with the luckiest cats in Melbourne (go figure), weird finger food at pub birthday party extravaganza, copious sparkling wine of unknown origin, pints of soda water. Sunday morning – 1 poached egg on sourdough toast with mushrooms and “baked hash browns” (mashed potato in mini muffin pans?), soy cap, tuna salad (spring onions, avocado, cucumber, semi dried tomatoes, mayo, lime juice, rocket) open sandwiches, persimmons, passionfruit, Black & Greens dark peppermint chocolate, tofu vegetable and ginger stir fry, rice noodles with prawns, veg, basil and very hot chilli, a couple of litres of mineral water, feijoas.

spot the feijoa


Monday, April 24, 2006


Despite meteorological promises of a brief return to temperatures in the low 20’s over the next few days, Melbourne has been decidedly chilly for a while. For me this means successive pots of soup on the stove and a return to romancing the spud.

Potatoes are a comfort food. One I tend to limit for some ridiculous reason. But it was a podcast on Irish food that got me going all over again. Just the week before I had been cooked cabbage, sautéed in olive oil til soft and more-ish. Hearing of the delights of this traditional dish, a combination of mashed potato and cabbage – I had to make it.

Not being a fan of milk, but perversely of butter, I took the notion and ran with it recipe-less in my usual manner. Here’s my ‘blueprint’ – let’s not go so far to call it an actual recipe.

Mashed potatoes and cabbage by any other name
Put some potatoes on to simmer in some salted water. I used organic coliban, which seemed perfect for the job.

In a heavy based fry pan sauté some onion, when soft add a little garlic and an anchovy or two. Chop as much cabbage as you can eat and add it to the pan. You will need to stir frequently until it too has softened.

About this time the spuds should be about done. Drain well, add lashing of butter, salt and pepper. Mash. Now combine the exquisitely cooked cabbage and onion with the mash.


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

autumn harvest

Despite the dull light of a rainy April afternoon, I had to take a picture of the fruit bowl groaning with goodness.

Although this is not the time of year for flashy tropicals or luscious berries, the humble apple is at it’s best and deserves its moment in the limelight. I got a mix of organic, red Croftons and Sweet Williams – both crisp and sweet. These little delights are best eaten as they are. I also like to grate some on soft, soaked oats for breakfast.

For the uninitiated, the green, egg shaped fruit are feijoas. You need smell-o-vision for this one, as they have a perfumed aroma. Inside there is white and almost gelatinous flesh, tasting both sharp and sweet at the same time. I love them but they are hard to get and only in season briefly in Melbourne. Perhaps, I shouldn’t talk them up too much as they are a steal at only $3 a kilo and a run on them could quadruple the price! The stall owner tells me it's mainly homesick Kiwis who buy them.

Mandarins have just come into season. These smelt great when I peeled them, but weren’t up to full flavour yet inside. Still though they have a sweetish tang and your hands smell wonderful afterwards.

The rest of the bowl comprises of grapefruits for juicing, limes, lemons and pears. Some late season grapes (green and red) sit on a platter demanding to be nibbled.

As bloggers it seems we spend so much time writing about food that is actually cooked. But spare a moment to contemplate the raw appeal of fresh fruit in season. Best enjoyed at room temperature and chewed slowly.

For those who need a recipe – here is one from my childhood.

Shirley’s Fruit Salad

Take a cross section of fresh fruit, trying to get a variety of colours and textures.
Peel if need be, slice or dice into varied shapes.
Cover with a liberal splash of Grand Marnier (or your favourite liqueur). Allow to macerate for an hour, but make sure fruit is well coated so it won’t turn brown – some fresh lime or orange juice can be added if you need more liquid.


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Sunday, April 16, 2006


You Are a Soy Latte

At your best, you are: free spirited, down to earth, and relaxed

At your worst, you are: dogmatic and picky

You drink coffee when: you need a pick me up, and green tea isn't cutting it

Your caffeine addiction level: medium

actually I'm a soy cap with lots of chocolate on top

Friday, April 14, 2006

getting acquainted with ugly vegetables

Sometimes there is a beauty in ugliness. I flirted with some celeriac at the market yesterday. Now I have it home, I’m not sure what to do with it.

Any ideas?

Previously I have peeled and grated the root, then mixed it with a little mayo and a dash of lemon juice. It made a tasty side dish.

All thoughts greatfully received.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006


In the past 6 months I have had a growing fascination with roasted cauliflower. I love the depth of flavour roasting brings out of it. I have used it as a base for fish, in gyoza and vegan ravioli previously, but there is always more that you can do with this gorgeous veggie.

The Moroccan Soup Bar, a Melbourne vegetarian haven, features a couple of dishes that taste suspiciously of roasted cauliflower and tahini. This is my version of one of their dips.

Roasting the Cauli

Clean a head of cauliflower (or what ever quantity you have handy) and break into smallish florettes. Mix in a bowl with a little olive oil (about a tablespoon or two). Spread in a roasting dish and bake.

I used a fan forced oven at 180c for about 25 minutes. In my old gas oven I would have set higher and cooked for longer.

Remove from oven when there is a fair splattering of golden brown.

Allow to cool.

Cauliflower and tahini dip

Take a little or a lot of your roasted cauliflower and place in a food processor.

Add some crushed garlic, lemon juice and tahini, then blend – use similar proportions as you would to make hommos (yes this is basically the same, substituting the cauli for chickpeas!). If unsure, start with 1 clove of garlic, the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of tahini. Keep tasting and adjust accordingly.

Season with sea salt.

Now add a little warm water and blend again. Keep adding water til you get a dip like consistency.

Goes well with crudités, pita chips or plain rice crackers.

Toast and grind some cumin seeds.

This dip is addictive!

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

My favourite stir fry

Stir fries are one of my staples. Often with tofu and vegies du jour. Too often with noodles. Brown rice when I am virtuous. But this is my all time favourite.

Stir fried prawns and vegetables with Vietnamese mint and rice noodles

Vegetables – whatever takes your fancy, but it’s always good to include at least 1 or 2 Asian greens. Julienne, slice or dice into small pieces, to reduce cooking time.
This one included: carrots, broccoli, pak choi, spring onions and green beans.

Protein – prawns shelled, and de-veined, depending on your budget about 6 large or 8 small per person. You could of course use tofu. I believe some people even include meat!

Flavours – garlic crushed or finely chopped (as much as you can stand – this was 2 large elephant cloves, chopped fresh chilli or some Chinese chilli oil, fresh Vietnamese mint and/or coriander, fish sauce.

Oil – I use raw sesame oil.

Carbs – rice noodles really make this dish. I alternate between thin and thicker noodles. Soak or cook as directed and leave soaking in cold water. Shake dry before adding to the wok as moisture turns frying into steaming.

The trick to cooking a good stir fry is a hot wok and lots of oil. I was restrained on the oil this time, but sadly more does taste better. Fast and furious use of a wok shovel is also advantageous.

Place about 2 tablespoons of oil in the hot wok, if using large prawns toss in wok with a little of the garlic for about 1 minute, til half cooked. Remove.

Start frying the most dense vegetables. Splash in more oil as required. Gradually add the other vegetables, garlic and chilli.

When these are cooked but still crispy it is time to add the semi-cooked prawns (or raw if small), fry for about a minute then add the soaked or cooked rice noodles, herbs and fish sauce. The amount of fish sauce is anywhere between 2-4 tsp per person depending on how salty you like it. But be warned – you can always add more, but can’t subtract if you overdo it!

Voila – a fabulous noodle dish made in a flash.

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