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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The bagel

The bagel roasted pumpkin goats cheese

This is short and sweet, as all good weekend lunches should be. We people need to get out and do things! Smell the roses, walk the dogs, visit our loved ones! Or alternatively, spend it hunched over your camera taking shots of cakes and soups, but with not a skerrick to eat. Enter bagel stage left.

We picked up a couple of bagels from the Coburg Farmers Market on Saturday from (relatively) new bagelers (that's what they're called, right?) Five n Dime. They don't have shopfront as such, but pop up regularly at markets in and around the northern suburbs. I'm no bagel expert, but in my opinionated opinion, these are the cat's pyjamas.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Shallot and goats cheese tart with rough puff pastry

Shallot and goats cheese tart

You may know by now, but I love me a farmers market. When a new one kicks off up the road in Coburg, I know how I'll spend my Saturday morning (total rager, right?). Matt and I met up with his sister Sarah, brother in law Tim and gorgeous niece Claudia for a fossick about the Coburg North Primary School for an hour or so. The thing is, I can't trust myself at a farmers market: I see all the gorgeous produce and can't resist. Must. Buy. Food. This one was no exception.

The market is held twice a month (every second and fourth Saturday) and the first event was pretty special. My favourite butter guys were there (yep, I have a favourite butter guy), loads of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meats, oils and ready made food. I picked up some bagels and, in something of a premonition, I sense you'll be seeing more of them later in the week.

Wandering around, I came across a sweet little bag of shallots and pounced. I had visions of them caramelised whole - roasted? In a pan? No matter - the real question was what would accompany them. A second vision and I was set. I remembered reading about Karen Martini's recipe for a rough puff pastry online. Like a 24 year old guy at a cheap nightclub, I knew a tart was in my future.

Shallot and goats cheese tart

Peeling shallots is one of life's more tedious tasks. Peeling baby shallots is a chore sent from the pits of hell. The papery skin either sticks to your fingers or stubbornly stays put on the shallot. Even when you think you've removed all traces, you toss them in olive oil and about thirty pieces suddenly appear out of nowhere. But, as with all things in life, the harder the task, the greater the rewards.

A regular puff pastry is a dough with layers of butter folded carefully in between. It requires hours of effort and an exacting touch to perfect. The rough puff is a simpler beast and results in such a flakey crust, it's hard to see why you'd make the real thing. It still does take a couple of hours, but most of that time is spent chilling the pastry between folds. Plenty of time to peel shallots. Or watch a Jennifer Aniston rom com. Your choice.

Shallot and goats cheese tart

The biggest test of this whole recipe is definitely not in the pastry. When you yank the shallots from the oven, you will not be able to resist popping a couple in your mouth. But try as hard as you can: they work so well with the light, flakey pastry it will be worth the wait. Pile them as high as you can and drizzle with a little balsamic reduction. If you've been lucky enough to travel to Modena and snag the real stuff, a teaspoon here is worth the investment.

Shallots and their big cousins, onions, are just starting to come into season. The small shallots are the perfect mix of sweet and savoury and with the salty kick of the goats cheese are as close to perfection as you can achieve with a vegetable. This recipe is a bit of a celebration of the old allium, normally kept in the shadows of his showier recipe counterparts (much like Judy Greer in... every movie she's been in).

The thing with shopping at a farmers market is this: you're never buying out of season. Everything's perfect now because it just wouldn't be sold any other way. I'll admit that I do buy a heap of stuff from supermarkets, but when I look in my fridge on a Sunday night, it's the stuff from the farmers market that's been eaten. Which is a good thing, because there's usually not a stall for Doritos and Barney Bananas and I need all the incentive I can get to ditch that 'food group'.


Rough puff pastry
Adapted from Karen Martini

Shallot and goats cheese tart

375g plain flour
300g butter
170ml water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is just combined. Add the lemon juice and half the water. Pulse briefly to incorporate. At this stage, check if more water is necessary - dribble as much in as you need.

Pour the dough onto the bench and knead just to bring it together. Shape into a rectangle and roll out to approximately 40cm x 30cm. Imagining your dough in three equal sections, fold the right third over the middle third. Brush off any excess flour. Fold the left third over the middle and again, brush off the excess flour.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Once chilled, remove from the refrigerator and roll out to 40cm x 30 cm. Repeat the folding as above and chill again for 30 minutes. Repeat this step one more time and chill for a further 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Roll the pastry out to 50cm x 30cm (or around 3mm thick). Slice a rectangle around 15cm x 8cm. Chill for 15 minutes in the freezer. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden on the edges and puffed up nicely.

Roasted shallots

Shallot and goats cheese tart

1 small bag of shallots (around 200g)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Peel the shallots and place on a roasting pan. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and chop roughly. Thrown in the with shallots. Pour over the olive oil and add the salt and pepper. Toss to cover the shallots with the other ingredients. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour or until the shallots are golden and soft.


2 tbsp goats cheese
Roasted shallots
Rough puff pastry
1 tsp balsamic vinegar, or a balsamic reduction

Place the puff pastry on a baking sheet. Crumble the goats cheese over the pastry lightly. Place the roasted shallots on top. Bake at 180ºC for around 15 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Anzac caramel ripple cake

Anzac caramel ripple cake

So the Anzac is a simple biscuit. Oats, coconut, flour, sugar etc etc. It's to be enjoyed with a cup of tea or an instant coffee. It's not fancy or ostentatious. Until I went and did this.

Have you ever enjoyed a chocolate ripple cake? Chocolate ripple biscuits sandwiched together with cream, then slathered with even more cream? That always seemed so indulgent to me, but then I had a brainwave. I could out-indulge the over-indulgent. Mega indulgent, so to speak.

This idea must be credited to a lovely lady I worked with a few jobs ago. Pat was such a gem: reliable, great bawdy sense of humour and totally calm in very stressful situations (she may have been my exact opposite, except for the bawdy part). She was even more beloved when she brought a gingernut caramel ripple cake to work. It was out of this world: soft, a little spicey and so, so creamy.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Anzac biscuits

Anzac biscuits

How could I not? It's Anzac Day here in Australia, the public holiday to commemorate the landing of the troops in Gallipoli. I honestly was going to have a blog break today (as you'll find I normally do on public holidays and weekends). I had my biscuit bonanza recently, but failed to include Anzacs in that rotation. It was only fair I pulled up my socks today and whipped up a batch of Australia's national biscuit.

These biscuits find their origins in World War I. Anzac (or Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, the group of soldiers that landed in Gallipoli) were, it's safe to say, pretty far from the creature comforts of home while fighting in Turkey during the war. The women knew little food sent over would remain edible after around two months in a ship at sea. So rather than using eggs or milk, they bound the biscuits with golden syrup. Oats and coconut were fairly nutritious and flour and sugar would not spoil.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Challenge: Passionfruit slice

Passionfruit slice

I like a physical challenge. I might be the slowest cyclist, a shuffling runner and swim with my head above water, but as soon as someone suggests a competition, I get all hot blooded. I'm kinda the same with food. Someone asks, "Have you tried this restaurant yet?". I get all high-pitched and crazy if I have to answer in the negative. I can't bring myself to lie. Yes, I know it's not rational. No, I'm not seeing a professional about my issues.

Back a few months ago, I posted a recipe for passionfruit yoyos. My buddy Hilary commented she'd been trying to perfect a recipe for passionfruit slice, but it wasn't passionfruity enough. I didn't have a recipe as such, but thought I could cobble together a good rendition. It may be my competitive nature, but I think I hit the jackpot.

Passionfruit slice

All the passionfruit slice recipes I could find very fairly generic: coconut base, passionfruit icing, or maybe a jelly if they were feeling crazy. I knew I wanted a crunchy base, a smooth passionfruit cream and a sharp jelly topping - kinda the best of both worlds, but less about condensed milk (as genius as that stuff is) and more about the light mousse. You may have guessed by now, but I'm a bit gaga for a good mousse. A mousse mentalist, so to speak.

My sweet friend Kaye took us to Le Petite Gateaux for lunch the other day. I should really say dessert, except cake was our totally decadent alternative to the midday meal. I chose a peanut butter and chocolate gateaux - out of this world. I may try to reverse engineer it one of these days. But the most amazing thing for me? The biscuity base was crunchy - almost crackly. I was intrigued.

My first thoughts were some kind of a rice puff - but nothing was visibly obvious. Nuts? Nope, these were sharper than the crunch nuts give (amiright fellas?) (last smutty joke of the post, I swear). Toffee shards were my conclusion. Crispy-crunchy and sweet. I had hit the jackpot; regardless of whether I was right, they were a sweet crackly addition to the base.

Passionfruit slice

I knew immediately my mousse would be based on the passionfruit butter I used in the tropical coconut pie. Hilary wanted a distinct passionfruit taste, and I knew that curd would deliver. But to make sure it didn't overwhelm, I lightened it with whipped cream and some gelatine to help it set.

The jelly topping is another story entirely. I'd figured it out nicely: fresh passionfruit, sugar syrup and gelatine. But when I cracked open the wrinkly little blighters, they didn't have the distinct sunshine colour I was after. I had a brainwave: a little bit of orange and yellow food colouring can't hurt. But this lady was a total loose canon in the kitchen that day: I gave the bottle a bit harder squeeze that I would have liked. The jelly ended up the colour of a workman's vest rather than a delicate sunset. Teaches me for trying to tart up a perfectly good dish.

I had intended this slice to go to my Mum's sister's house as a little treat for my aunties and uncles. Unfortunately I was a little delayed and it was no way near set when Mum left for Geelong. She will have to settle for photos. And Hilary will have to take my word for it: this was a cracker of a passionfruit slice.


Biscuit base

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
100g butter
1 cup sugar, for toffee

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Prepare a 20cm square cake tin by greasing and lining with butter and baking paper.

To make toffee shards, prepare a baking sheet with baking paper. Heat a heavy bottom saucepan over a medium heat. Pour sugar in and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar starts colouring on the edges, stir consistently to ensure it does not take on too much colour or burn. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and pour immediately onto your prepared baking sheet. Allow to cool and harden. Once the toffee has hardened, break up roughly and place in the bowl of your food processor. Process until it has broken into very small pieces, but not to dust.

To make the base, place all ingredients, except for toffee shards, into the food processor. Blend until a rough dough comes together. Turn out into your tin and need in the toffee. Bake at 180ºC for around 15 minutes. Remove and cool in the tin until room temperature.

Passionfruit mousse

1 tsp gelatine
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup passionfruit juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
125g butter
1 1/2 tsp gelatine, extra
1 cup cream
1/4 cup cream, extra

Passionfruit slice

To make passionfruit butter, soften gelatine in water. Place remaining ingredients in a double boiler (saucepan of water with heatproof bowl on top). Stir with wooden spoon until mixture thickens. Add the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

Whip the first portion of cream until soft peaks form. Soften the gelatine in 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the remaining cream until just simmering, add the gelatine and remove from heat. Once the cream has cooled, fold through the whipped cream. Add to the passionfruit butter and fold through gently until it is completely incorporated. Sieve the mousse to remove the seeds.

Add on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top. Refrigerate until the mousse is set, around 3 hours.

Jelly topping

10 passionfruit
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp gelatine
2 tbsp water

Soften gelatine in cold water. Heat the sugar and water over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. bring to the boil for around 3 minutes. Halve the passionfruit and remove all the pulp. Add the pulp to the sugar syrup and add the gelatine. I removed around half the seeds by sieving the mixture  - not necessary if you don't mind the crunchy top.

Add to the top of the passionfruit mousse and leave to set in the refrigerator for around 2 hours.

Passionfruit slice

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Broccoli soup with crispy bacon

Broccoli soup with crispy bacon

There are some weekends where you know you've done yourself some damage. Waking up Sunday morning is the ultimate punishment for a night of excess. This weekend was particularly bad for me. I woke up with a severe case of cotton mouth and a splitting, thumping, brain-bending headache. But for once, these symptoms weren't also accompanied by the "hangover regrets".

My Saturday was not spent holding up a bar or or praying to the porcelain gods. Nope, it was spent on the couch with my main lady (Mumsy Bennetto) watching The Holiday. A bit of cheesy rom-com does wonders for the soul.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Quinoa porridge with berries and hazelnuts

Quinoa porridge berries hazelnuts

Matt thinks I'm a "soft Melburnian". The other night, after riding home in the rain and wind, I seriously considered turning on the heater. It would have been the first time since early spring last year, but I was drenched and miserable. Matt must be hot blooded - he never feels the cold - but strangely, never perspires. Vampire maybe? Growing up in the Bennetto household has armed me with the the nerves to withstand a pretty brutal assault of ribbing and name-calling. I don't mind being called soft if it means I can be warm. Besides, warm and soft reminds me of chocolate pudding. I'm down with that.

And so begins our journey into winter food. I swore I'd never use the word 'journey' in the same sentence as 'food'. Masterchef this ain't (besides, I have hardly any tanties in the kitchen these days). We had soup for dinner (you'll see it later this week - sorry to leave you in suspenders) and porridge is doing it's job getting me going in the morning. But I can't spend six months of the year eating bran and the remainder porridge. I mixed it up winter-style this weekend with quinoa flakes.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Salted caramel mousse and chocolate glaze with chocolate truffles

Salted caramel mousse
Image courtesy of Jacquie Davenport
Is there anything better in this world than salted caramel? I love it so much that when I bought a salted caramel macaron today that tasted more of chocolate than caramel, I had a bit of a sookie-la-la. Damn you Lindt! As delicious as the macaron was, it wasn't the salty hit I was after.

People get a bit freaked out by making caramel. Yep, it can be easy to burn, it can go grainy and on more than one occasion I have gone waaaay overboard with the salt. Like, salt and vinegar chips salty. Eeek. Would have been better smeared over roasted beef than in a layer cake. But after a couple of goes at this recipe, I can make it recipeless (totally a word, despite what the red squiggly line thinks).

This caramel has been served with a plethora of desserts: apple cake, chocolate tart with banana icecream, popcorn. But this might be my new masterpiece. With most of the caramel mixed through a silky mousse and then rest left to moisten the ginger fluff sponge, the caramel flavour is pronounced and the texture just right for the light layers.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Burke clan's Ginger Fluff - for the manly, manly cake

Ginger fluff sponge

When Matty and I were first engaged, we visited my Mum's family in Buninyong for a picnic at "The Gong". The day was perfect - sunny, a little chill in the air (you're not in Ballarat if you're not shivering) and a brilliant spread of food. Wine was flowing freely. So much so that Matt's face fell off in front of the extended family in a slow but very familiar way. Nothing a sausage roll and a piece of ginger fluff sponge can't fix.

Aunty Margaret whipped up this staple that's served at all Burke family events. Unfortunately I was on a sweet food ban with the gang from work and could not enjoy a slice of ginger fluff. Luckily for me, Mum had made a date loaf that I decided was out the realm of "sweet food" (clutching at straws, ya?). I ate almost the entire loaf. Smeared with healthy wedge of butter, I'm pretty sure I did more damage that I would have if I just had a taste of the sponge. No matter. There would be sponge in my future, and not of the dish-washing variety. I had snagged me the recipe. Oh yeah!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Manly cake and the pâte à cigarette

Pate a cigarette

So we've been here before. Remember Facecake? Whatever pâte à cigarette loses in its gross-sounding name, it makes up for with its amazing decorative versatility. Forget an ashtray full of butts. It's a sweet trim in whichever colour you prefer.

What does pâte à cigarette translate to, I hear you ask? Well, pâte means paste. That chicken liver pate doesn't quite have the same ring to it when you have to call it paste, now, does it? The nearest translation I can get for this term is cigarette biscuit, which, to be honest, leaves me no closer to a sexier rationale for the name.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ginger fluff layer cake with salted caramel mousse and chocolate glaze

Ginger fluff layer cake salted caramel mousse chocolate glaze

I love a cakey project. My favourite kinds is a free reign request: the go-for-your-life attitude really gets me going. Equal parts excitement and pressure. Their reaction could be "I never expected that!" Or "I never expected that...."

The hardest thing about my latest cake request? Making a 'masculine' cake. I don't mean a sponge with two tickets to the gun show or even a layer cake with a pair of bosoms on top. Nope, I mean a nice, classy-looking cake with limited frou-frou. You see, I'm big on girly-looking desserts. I love pink, fairy floss, delicate icing sugar and love hearts. When it came to baking for a guy, I was stumped.

Enter salted caramel.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Poached egg with carrot and parsnip latkes and hummus

Poached egg with carrot and parsnip latkes and hummus

I wake at 6.30am every Saturday without fail. It doesn't matter what time my head hit the pillow Friday night. I know the time before I even look at the clock - give or take 10 minutes.

It may have something to do with Kitty meowing at our window at the crack of dawn. I know I need to let her in or it will be a constant, pained mew for the next hour. I'm up and there's no more shut-eye in this town.

I try in vain to head back to bed. The cat has other ideas. Kitty will scratch at our feet under the doona - head in, tail out. You can only lie there and wait for it to begin. No matter how many stern admonishments, it's only a matter of time before you feel the doona move and the clawed-up paws venture in. I give up and head to the kitchen to start making breakfast.

Friday, 12 April 2013

A simple gin and tonic

Gin and tonic

We don't need to say much here, do we? It's a gin and tonic. There's not much that can go wrong. There's really only ways to make it more fantastic.

My beautiful friend Lesley schooled me in the art of the gin and tonic. We'd head over to University House and drink $3.40 G&Ts after a hard day at work. $3.40 - this was not 20 years ago, ladies and gentlemen, but around 2005.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Brioche with pate and plum paste

Brioche with pate and plum paste

The reign of the brioche is coming to an end. I thought we'd finish with a big ol' fatty bang. And their ain't nothin' in this world as banging as pate. Pate makes me tingle all over, and it's not because the livers are past their used by date.

Let me be clear: this is teaming one butter-rich ingredient with another butter-rich ingredient. It's butter squared, and that's the way I like it. To cut through the crazy-richness, we go on a sweet ride with plum paste.

Plum paste goes with pretty much all the great things in life: cheese, pate, steak, rillettes. You know, the good stuff. It's sweet and sticky and helps to bring down the fat-factor of the brioche and pate. You can test how the paste is going by popping a teaspoon or so in the fridge to see if it sets. But I personally think that's a fast track to Burn Town, because by the time you've popped it in and pulled it out again, the mixture bubbling away on the stove could be turning to toffee. Get a thermometer. You'll use it all the time, trust me.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cheeseburgers with brioche buns

Cheeseburgers brioche buns

Matty's burger frenzy has struck again. I can't see Burger Fever subsiding anytime soon - the temperature's high and we have the meat sweats something serious. It's dead sexy.

A little while back, I whipped up an Aussie burger with pickled pineapple. The burger itself was out of this world, but I can't claim that recipe - they were Heston burgers from Skinner and Hackett. This time around, I figured I wouldn't mess with perfection. Those patties are too good to be true.

I was going for a simple cheeseburger today. You'd think the key ingredient would be the cheese. Or maybe the burger. But this is a bit of a misnomer. A cheeseburger is really all about the bun. Or the brioche bun, to be exact.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Brioche three ways

Brioche with jam

I'll apologise in advance for this. To your bathroom scales and to your ability to say no. Brioche is pretty much the best pastry product. Ever. And with most awesome things in the food world, it's really, really bad for you. None of that "everything in moderation" palaver. This stuff is basically butter on butter. And it's hella good.

What it lacks in nutritional value, it makes up for with versatility. It's got versatility out to yin-yang! Burger buns, toasted with jam (pretty close to my favourite weekend breakfast treat), a vehicle for pate, a swirly chocolate pastry. Yep. It gets better than just being plain old delicious.

If you've got an electric mixer, it's pretty much a crime to not make these. If it's not a crime, I know people who know people. You'll be pulled over for a seemingly minor traffic violation and voila! Twenty to life. All because you refused to make that buttery treat. Won't somebody think of the children?!

Brioche with jam
Brioche with jam

If you don't have a mixer, but you do like a challenge, I say go for it. It's a pretty sticky, messy dough but not unheard of to whip up. I know you're hesitating, but you will embarrassed when I tell you my six year old niece, the beautiful Eve, helped me make a batch by hand just the other day. Now, I'm the first to admit Eve is exceptionally talented, but she's six. She made brioche without a mixer. Pull the finger out, whingers.

Now I'm done chastising you, I'll get on with the more persuasive side of the brioche argument. Have you ever eaten bread and thought "I wish I were eating cake right now"? Or perhaps you were enjoying some cake and went "Bread would be awesome". Well, ladies and gentlemen, here is the answer to all your prayers. It's basically cake bread. Tasty, tasty cake bread.

Plus, it's totally exotic. It's from that far away land, France. (Bare with me. Living in Australia makes pretty much any other country in the world "a far away land"). Brioche translates to "sweet bun" in English. I won't tell you what prendre de la brioche translates to, though. OK, OK. It means "to develop a paunch". Don't say I didn't warn you.


Adapted from Shannon Bennett

500g plain flour
5g salt
25g fresh yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp milk
6 eggs
375g butter, softened

1 egg, lightly beaten, plus splash of milk, for egg wash.
2 tbsp pearl sugar
Raspberry jam, to serve

Brioche with jam

Combine flour, salt, yeast, sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix briefly until combined. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure they're all incorporated before you add the next. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once all butter is incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat for 2 minutes.

Turn the dough into a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20-24 hours, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease one tin (15cm x 10cm) or two smaller tins.

Flour your bench top and turn the dough out. Knead for 2 minutes to loosen dough. Divide into three. The first dough will be for your basic loaves today - you can refrigerate (or freeze) the others until ready to use. Shape the dough to your tin and leave to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Glaze your loaves with the egg wash. Sprinkle the sugar over the loaves.

Place the loaves into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 200ºC and reduce to 170ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

While warm, slice open. To go the double whammy, spread some butter over a slice. If you're feeling conservative, just go with raspberry jam. It's delicious either way.

Brioche with jam

Monday, 8 April 2013

Wonton tarts with corn, chicken and celery

Wonton tarts with corn chicken celery

I'm marrying a man with a taste for the cuisine of the 1970s. Chicken kievs, apricot chicken and spag bol are all among his favourites. I've never seen him so excited as the night a friend suggested he combine his two besties and make apricot chicken kiev. He couldn't whip the french onion soup out of the pantry quick enough. That dish was a bit of a letdown (garlic butter leeching into the apricot sauce may have had something to do with it) but it hasn't quenched his thirst (hunger?) for all things retro.

Recently on a lazy night of no cooking enthusiasm, Matty and I visited our local Chinese restaurant for a quick, cheap meal. I spied chicken and sweet corn soup on the menu and decided that I too would venture into the retro zone. It was just as good as I remembered - sweet, gelatinous and as hot as the fires of hell.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Best. Salad dressing. Ever.

Salad dressing

I'm trying to be organised. Really I am. I've picked up my floordrobe. My bag is packed the night before and gym gear is always clean and ready to go. I've stocked up on razor-blades so my leg hairs don't exceed a couple of inches before I remember to shave. This preparation has given me a sense of calm and coordination that doesn't come naturally, but sure feels great.

The key to my organisational success lies in one tiny little jar. Every night after our evening meal, I whip up a salad for lunch. After around 5 minutes of chopping, it's salad dressing time. There's nothing worse than a dry salad, except maybe a limp one. What makes a salad limp? Pre-dressing. I don't have many rules in the kitchen, but no pre-dressing is an exception to my no-rule rule.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Crumpets with honeyed butter and caramelised bananas

Crumpets with honeyed butter and caramelised bananas

Sorry for the radio silence, babes. Had a bit of a strange lurgy recently that's had me in a funk and off my feet. Sleep was the order of the day, and I succumbed. How good is your bed when you're under the weather? I climbed in at about 3pm yesterday and didn't get out until lunchtime today. Did the trick.

How I would have loved some crumpets when I woke from my slumber this morning. My tasty little crumpet of a friend, Andrew, helped me whip up these babies a week or so ago. We'd planned to whip them up and spend the rest of the morning in having a kiki, sipping tea and catching up on office goss.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Pie-scrap cookies

Pie-scrap cookies

I despise seeing perfectly good food tossed in the bin because I've let it go to waste. This happens more often than I'd care to admit. Tuesday is bin night and Matty stands at the fridge, ruthlessly chucking brown herbs, smelly meat and furry cheese. Funnily enough, it coincides with his grumpiest night of the week.

My wastefulness is my biggest shame. Even more than my standing-in-front-of-the-open-fridge-eating-leftovers-by-the-moonlight binges. It's cause by my magpie-like attention span. I get distracted by new shiny foods and can't get the picture out of my head until it's in my belly. This would be fine if I didn't cook enough for a family of seventeen, leaving leftovers for a week.