Linden Font

Friday, 31 May 2013

Cauliflower, currant and pistachio salad

Cauliflower salad

Yesterday at work I wore a long sleeved top, a long cowl neck woollen sleeveless top and a jacket: I was cold. On the bottom, I wore a flimsy skirt, bare legs and flat open shoes. Not so cold after all. I couldn't work the weather out and so dressed for all seasons: winter on top, summer on the bottom. I was planning on a gust of icy wind hitting my upper body alone, of course.

It's good in a way: I'm dying to buy a new pair of boots and some new woollen pants for work. But it's meant to be a frugal fortnight in our house and those two items do not make on the list of essential items to be purchased. At least I can hold out until the chill really hits.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The plate

The plate

Have I ever told you about my brother Paul? I'm getting like my Mum, I can't remember if I've told you stories before. Paul's my genius little brother. He basically knows, like, everything. What he doesn't know isn't worth knowing (sorry macrame and needlepoint).

When we were growing up, Paul was like our little ginger doll we all doted over. Except for the times we tortured him. Once, when Mum was busy inside, we convinced Paul to hop into a yabby basket that couldn't have been more than 40cm x 30cm in size. We strung it up on the washing line and left him hanging there, running off to play in the front yard, him screaming in our wake. Now that would be evil enough if the washing line didn't hang over a 2 metre drop. To a three year old boy, that's like a sheer 1,000 metre cliff face. Mum looked at us all a little differently after that day.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Anchovy straws

anchovy straws

In my wardrobe, I have a black dress hanging that will never sit on my skin again. It's light and billowy and sits just right on my body. Black's my favourite colour, whether it's a colour or not. This dress, to me, has it all.

Unfortunately, no one else seems to like that dress. Too big, too black, the neckline is all wrong. Isn't it funny how you can look in the mirror and see something entirely different to other people? Well, one day, I wish I had listened to those naysayers. It was my beautiful friends Flemmo and Hester's engagement party. Matt and I made the trek over the other side of town for the event.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Brown sugar meringues with roasted rhubarb

brown sugar meringue roasted rhubarb

It's been rough. Real rough.

I'm working my way out of a haze of (excuse the French) snot and sleep. Normally a cold, for me, goes something like this: sore throat for 24 hours, runny nose 48 hours and generally light crapiness for another 24. That's four days of illness, two days off work at the most. I've had six straight days now of intense Crapfest-3000 cold.

I've done it all: water, soup, chillies, ginger, garlic. I made chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, for god's sake. It didn't make a dent in my snot supply. Gross. Sorry. I'm just fed up.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sorry for the radio silence

I've been a runny-nosed mess over the last coupla days. A sweaty maiden in a sea of tissues. Impersonating at least three of the seven dwarves: Sleepy, Sneezy and Dopey. If my couch were an airplane seat, I'd be in London by now.

As a consequence, there's been no baking in the Bennetto household. Day 1 I ate sensibly: porridge, veggie soup and a chilli pasta for dinner. Loads of water. It did nothing so I decided my Day 2 diet would be cheezels and orange juice. I'll admit it: I feel worse: salty, and like a layer of skin has been scrubbed from my mouth. Gorgeous.

I went to my doctor. It was that obligatory visit when you know going to work will be a write off, but you need a certificate. A virus, hopefully coming to an end. A day or two of romantic comedies, trash magazines and tissues on the couch and I will be fine.

So the posts will resume shortly. In the meantime, I wish everyone the best on both sides of the world. Hayfever season and flu season are in full swing. Live long and prosper, babes.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Loot soup

Loot soup

Saturday just gone was one of those stellar days you dream of when you're planning a slow weekend. Wake up, mooch around the house for an hour or so and head out to the nearest Farmer's Market. I hit up Fairfield and had a funny feeling in my bones I'd see my buddy Scott.

So it was as natural as could be when I saw the man wandering up the street with an armful of groceries. He kindly escorted me to the markets and was perfectly patient as I fondled every pumpkin, smelled the garlic and squeezed each oranges. I'm nothing if not a tactile shopper.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Sponge cake with creme patisserie and chocolate glaze

Sponge with pastry cream and chocolate glaze

I'm sorry. Yesterday did not happen well for me. No major disasters, mind. Just an intense tiredness that I could not shake all day. I busted out my longest (albeit slowest) run ever on Sunday and I'm pretty sure I didn't drink enough water. A late night watching Eurovision today made for an exceptionally achy day.

So today's post is a cheat post. All I want to do is climb into bed, close my eyes and nod off. I haven't felt like this in months. Months, I tells ya.

When I get tired like this, all I can do is whinge, breathe loudly and eat. Today I managed to scoff about six pieces of fruit, a bag of popcorn intended for five people, a chocolate frog, vegetable soup and takeaway curry for dinner. None of these servings were small either. No matter: run in the morning and all will be right in the world.

Sponge with pastry cream and chocolate glaze

Sponge with pastry cream and chocolate glaze

But fear not - the recipe's still a corker. It's just some old components re-imagined into a new concoction. Look, even my words are vaguely making sense. I said vaguely, right? It's a three way you'll be totally into: creme patisserie, chocolate glaze and sponge cake. Ain't nuthin wrong with that combo, amiright?

I whipped up this cake for a workmate's birthday recently. My one hint? Make this on the day you intend to serve it and do not leave it out of the fridge for too long. Oh and don't ride a bike with it in your basket. That was like three hints, right there. You're welcome.

Short. Sweet. Recipe below:


2 blowaway sponges
Creme patisserie
1 tsp gelatine, soaked in 2 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup cream
300ml cream, extra
Chocolate glaze

Slice both sponges in half horizontally. Heat the 1/4 cup of cream and add to the gelatine. Stir until dissolved. Whip the 300ml cream until soft peaks form and add the gelatine. Fold through the creme patisserie. Refrigerate overnight.

Spoon 1/3 of the creme patisserie in between the bottom two layers of sponge. Repeat for the next two layers of sponge.

Top with the chocolate glaze, drizzling over the top and sides.

Sponge with pastry cream and chocolate glaze

Friday, 17 May 2013

Doughnuts with chocolate sauce

Doughnuts with chocolate sauce

There are two generations in this world. Those that remember life before the Simpsons, and those that cannot. I fall into the former category (just). I can remember the first episode screening in Australia. My Mum was being released from hospital from a long stay for a fairly decent back injury.

The drive home was excruciating. For us kids. Though I'm sure it wasn't fun for Mum either, slipped disk and all. I'm certain, to this day, that Dad was driving as slow as possible to avoid the possibility of another cartoon being worked into our viewing schedule. Losing battle if I ever saw one.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Beetroot dip

Beetroot dip

I'm that girl at every party that manages to spill a drink and break a glass. I once knocked over my glass of red wine and spilled it down the back of a woman wearing white cashmere. She was not amused.

I'm a klutz from way back. I fall over, spill crumbs down my top (sexy, I know) and managed to walk out of the house with toothpaste all over me every day without fail. 15 minutes before an important meeting with a director at work the other day, I sprayed soup all over my top.

Which is why this dip is my version of tempting fate. It's a deep pink in colour and liable to stain our carpets if I just look at it funny.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Real deal spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese

For many, many years (read: until 2 years ago), I thought the saying was "For all intensive purposes". Like the purposes were super intense and needed to be monitored in, say, a hospital. It wasn't until I read it in print one day and realised for all those years I'd been saying it wrong. Thankfully I never fully enunciate my words and speak at the speed of lightning, so hopefully no one noticed. And then I went and told the story...

I have countless examples where I thought I knew something to be an absolute truth. Like thinking CCs was just a clever brand name (and didn't stand for corn chips). Or when I totally believed my friend when he told me the words to Cold Chisel's Cheap Wine were "Cheap wine and a female goat." Uh huh. I'm that lady.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Panfried chicken with capers and sage

Panfried chicken with capers and sage

So it was my Mumsy's special day on the weekend. I know you all think you have the best Mum in the world, but you'd be wrong. Who's Mum spends the weekend with you at the beach and indulges in your secret desire to ride a giant lawnmower? Mine, that's who.

I made the trek to Portarlington this weekend to hang out with my Mumsy. A bunch of beautiful flowers and a basket of goodies in hand, I was ready to head off. Until I noticed a seemingly flat tire on the car. Freaking out, I drove to a series of friends' houses for help, all of whom were out. Eventually I ended up at a servo and asked a kind gentleman if, in his opinion, my tire was flat.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Aromatic lamb shank curry

Aromatic lamb shank curry

I'm jumping the gun. Like, so high. I'm catapulting over the gun, 1km skyward through the clouds with a nice soft landing in a pillow factory. This week we had about 5 days over 20ºC. A couple around 25ºC. It was weather for tacos, grilled fish and salad, maybe a gelati. And like the topsy-turvy fool that I am, I went an bought lamb shanks.

It was around the time I had the sniffles, and just felt like some comforting. Comfort food for me does not come in the form of mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes or other such stodge (that, let's be serious, I'd love any other day of the week). Nope, when I'm feeling poorly, it's spicy food all the way.

Side bar: did you know what my all time favourite pasta is? Bucatini amatriciana. And it's not because of the name (mostly). It's a spicy tomato based sauce with porky bits of guanciale (that's cured pork cheek, fellas), the holey spaghetti known as bucatini and grated pecorino on top. BUT. It's all about the spice for me. In fact, I'm not even sure the spice is authentic. I know for sure it's not authentic the way I make it: with a big heaping spoon of sambal oelek (basically pure, unadulterated chilli).

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Chicken ribs with lemony pea puree

Chicken ribs lemon pea puree

So Matt and I have finally decided the month to hold our engagement party: June. Seriously, this party is more complex than the wedding itself. I've almost planned a menu and today, you get to see the fruits/ribs of my labour.

This is one addition that Matty can get behind. Fried chicken. I whipped these up one Saturday afternoon. They were arranged artfully on the bamboo platter, designed to be nibbled on over a glass of bubbles, a cute napkin in hand. Sexy fried food doesn't happen too often, but I thought I'd nailed the genre.

Then we tried one. So good. Maybe too good. We stood over the platter, shovelling ribs and purée into our gobs as like we hadn't eaten for months. Dead unsexy.

Chicken ribs lemon pea puree

These ribs are an absolute cinch to make. The most complex part is frenching the rib. Before you start making out with a piece of chicken, frenching is a culinary term used to describe the trimming of a bone. I'm not making this any less erotic, am I?

The pea purée is a gorgeous, simple dip for the ribs. It takes a little over 4 minutes to whip up - all while the chicken is frying. Make sure you taste the dip before serving - it needs plenty of lemon juice to elevate it from baby food to sexy, sexy purée.

It takes a lot to get included on my engagement party menu. The delicate balance is hard to achieve: easy to eat standing up, simple to whip up in minutes but still visually appealing. Being delicious goes unsaid.

So my problem with my engagement party menu? I have almost nothing vegetarian. That would be OK, but my meat dishes are exceptionally meaty. I will never want for protein in this lifetime. Every restaurant or bar we visit, I'm scoping out veggie based dishes, but each time I spy a good one I think to myself "Oh, this would be awesome with bacon". But then, really, what would be improved with bacon? And, ladies and gentlemen, that's about as philosophical as I get.

Chicken ribs lemon pea puree


20 chicken ribs
1/2 cup cornflour
3 tbsp chilli powder (or your favourite spice mix)
2 cups peas
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon

Take a small sharp knife and trim one end of the chicken ribs to about half way up the bone.

Heat the oil over a high heat. Drop a cube of bread in - the oil is hot enough if it sizzles and brown in 20 seconds.

Combine the flour and spice mix. Season as required. Coat the chicken ribs in the flour mixture. Drop the ribs in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on a baking rack.

To make the pea purée, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and and the peas. Boil for around 2 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water until the peas are cold. Add to the bowl if a food processor with the rind, juice, water, oil, salt and pepper. Blend briefly until combined but still chunky.

To serve, spread the pea purée over your platter. Place ribs on top and squeeze some lemon juice over the top.

Chicken ribs lemon pea puree

Beetroot and kale chippies

Kale and beetroot chips

My name's Emma and I'm a chipaholic. Some families grow up eating popcorn or sweets while watching movies. Other will have chopped up fruit (booooooring) while some would indulge in homemade cookies. Not my family. It was salt and vinegar chips. All. The. Way. Crinkle cut or thins, it no matter. Though Sarah would argue Light and Tangy flavoured wins (and I'm happy to concede if she's buying) to me, the sharp and salty goodness of the S'n'V.

Not too long ago, I would have scoffed at the suggestion of an alternative to potato chips. Part of me still doesn't want to believe it: a salty snack that's not a total carb/fat fest but still delicious. Not that there's anything wrong with a carb and/or fat fest. I'm the least qualified person to judge in the trial of diet missteps.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A sniffly soup

Ginger, garlic and lemongrass chicken soup

This morning I woke at 4am. Blocked schnoz, dry throat and dodgy tummy. Fun fun fun! The day before I'd ridden to work sans gloves. It felt as though someone was driving pins into my fingers. I'm going to blame that because my constitution is a bit like a delicate flower - a slight breeze and I'm wilting, pleading for my smelling salts.

I lay in bed grumbling for an hour or two (that Matt, he's such a lucky guy to end up with a gal like me!) and decided work was not going to happen. I'm that person who chastises sick people for coming to work, spreading their nasties around the office. It probably wouldn't be cool for me to do the same.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Roasted brussels sprouts with streaky bacon

Roasted brussels sprouts

So you know how I said fennel was the most polarising vegetable out there? I think I may have found one more maligned. This guy - he stinks. Not figuratively either. If you boil the bejesus out of him, he'll pong up your kitchen and ain't nobody eating a meal at your house for months. So if you're interested in scaring off dinner party pals, this veggie's your man.

Of course, if you treat him good, he'll repay the favour in a big way. I've seen the leaves baked and also served raw with a fancy little vinegarette. But this is my absolute fave: roasted.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Fennel, sausage and borlotti bean soup

Fennel sausage borlotti bean soup

It's officially autumn in Melbourne. My tootsies are getting colder and colder every day. I'm adapting to the weather: the ugg boots are out of storage, black stockings have been dusted off and my beanie is due for an appearance any day now. But the thing that makes the weather so distinctly Melbourne is the forecast this week: a 4 day stretch above 20ºC.

So it's not cold enough to turn on the heater (Matt assures me), but it's not hot enough for cocktails in the sun (but fear not: there's always indoors!). It's light pinot weather - that in between stage where you can't handle a bold red but a white is too fresh for when the mercury drops after sundown. Oh, who am I kidding? If it's open and not vinegar, I'll drink it.

Friday, 3 May 2013

The challenge: Blowaway sponge

Blowaway sponge

Have I introduced you to Barry the bike yet? He's my beautiful baby. Since I've been riding to work, I've felt energised and crazy enthusiastic about everything (emphasis on the crazy). He's red and shiny (and therefore faster) and I recently bought a beautiful copper bell to ding-a-ling as I ride to work.

Riding beats driving or public transport by a long shot. I'm getting fit (sexy bike riders legs - oh er!) and I'm not crammed into a smelly, slow tram for an hour every morning (apologies to tram users, but... erm... deoderant?). Despite what a lot of people say, riding on the roads in Melbourne is not too bad - I pick pretty quiet streets or straight bike lanes and I've never had too much trouble. That said, I signal like a mega-nerd, never ride on the footpath and generally try to ride as mindfully as I can. Total riding goodie-two-shoes.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hazelnut espresso cakes

Hazelnut espresso cakes

I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I've got a job I love, a fiance who rocks my world, sweet friends and a super cool family. I'm healthy and happy. I've got a bike I love to ride, I run a few mornings a week, I bake up a storm on weekends and my buddies are always keen to check out new bars and restaurants. Lucky, lucky duck.

The downside? I feel like I haven't had a moment to exhale in the last few months. I had four days off last week, with grand plans to sit, watch TV and catch up on some sleep. Instead, they were spent running, cooking, riding and typing. I feel energised, but just need a moment to unlock my jaw.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Duck salad with plum and ginger dressing

Duck salad with plum dressing

Recently at work, we've been learning how to take a Fail Bow. When something goes wrong (horribly or otherwise) you should stand up, admit it isn't working and high five yourself for having a bash in the first place. The theory is people won't hide their mistakes and learn from them quickly. I have, as you'd expect, taken more than one Fail Bow in my short time in my current role.

My first recollection of a kitchen Fail Bow was cooking at home with my little brother (do you have a younger sibling who is way taller than you now you're both adults, but insist on still calling them your "little brother"? Me too!) We decided we wanted to make cheese and bacon balls. Dough kneaded, bacon fried and oil heated. Oil heated way too hot. Oil heated in a pan far too small. Dough hits oil. Kitchen fire erupts. Thankfully the only fatalities were Mum's old tea towels and, of course, five cheese and bacon balls (may they rest in peace).