Japanese buckwheat soup

buckwheat kernels, tofu, carrot and pine mushrooms – ingredients for Japanese buckwheat soup

This soup makes me ridiculously happy, for a lot of reasons. A sure first is remembering the day last year when we hired a car and drove deep into the mountains of Shikoku, Japan. It was a big day in the car, punctuated by pockets of time spent in the quiet little villages of the Iya Valley, and at our final destination before we turned back, which was the double vine bridges suspended high above a turquoise river. Continue reading Japanese buckwheat soup

Apple and lime cake

Apple and lime cakeApple and lime cake

I realised there was not a single recipe here for apples! Plenty of apricot, plum and fig recipes – because they’re fruit trees I have, and which I love getting creative with every year. There’s also a bit of citrus (particularly lime!) going on. We don’t have an apple tree, but I do love apples … of course. Apple tarte tatin is about the best dessert going if you ask me, and I also love an old-fashioned apple and cinnamon tea cake – yes, the kind you might have made in high school. I’ve been tweaking a recipe for a few years (primarily spiking my cake with ungodly amounts of brandy; all warm and spicy in the mouth). But here is another apple thing I love. A very simple and yet elegant apple and lime ‘cake’. Continue reading Apple and lime cake

Greek-style stuffed tomatoes

Greek style vegetarian stuffed tomatoes

When my mum talks about food, I listen. It isn’t usually on her radar – she’s much more of a book and movie fiend, an avid follower of current affairs, a lover of indigenous cultures, a keen traveller, and an amazing woman in general … For food to rate a mention, it has to be beyond good. Like the broad bean and ham dish she once had in Spain and still talks about, and the stuffed tomatoes she had in Greece. Continue reading Greek-style stuffed tomatoes

Pasta salad with olives and roasted garlic

Pasta salad with olives and roast garlic

I started out making pasta when I moved out of home, at age 17, featuring a crisper worth of vegetables plus some pesto from a jar. (Wry smile thinking about the strange tiles of pumpkin I used to cut, and the undercooked eggplant. But I was doing a good job of eating vegetables at least!) Continue reading Pasta salad with olives and roasted garlic

Green salad with fried almonds and ricotta

Green salad with herbs, fried almonds, ricotta

The last time we hosted Christmas, we didn’t have children and possibly didn’t have a Christmas tree (or if we did it was nothing I can remember). Now look at us, we’ve got a real tree (thank you, Oxfam) with a smiley angel that my daughter and I made perched on top, and two polka-dot stockings hanging from our mantel. I even make a wreath of kangaroo paws for our front door. Continue reading Green salad with fried almonds and ricotta

Grilled mussels with capsicum salsa

grilled mussels with capsicum and basil salsa and smoked paprika

Why open a mussel raw when you can cook it via steam and it will open itself? Because mussels grilled on a barbecue, cooked gently from heat beneath their shells, are INCREDIBLE! They’re rendered so delicate and soft, without any of the tightening that goes on when they’re steamed, and you would swear you were eating something extraordinarily rare and expensive, not something you buy for under $10 a kilo. So we – my husband and I – put up with the slightly time-consuming task of prising them open again and again. (My husband is a champion at it and doesn’t seem to mind the job, so sometimes I leave him to it!)  Continue reading Grilled mussels with capsicum salsa

Sultana polenta cake

sultana polenta cake

‘Sultana cake’ is probably not the thing you lust after … but bear with me! This cake is beautifully buttery without being particuarly high in butter, and the sultanas … well, I like sultanas, but in this cake they taste somehow better than plain sultanas – juicy and mellowed and more sophisticated. It’s definitely a case of a thing being more than the sum of its parts. Continue reading Sultana polenta cake

Japanese greens and walnut salad

Blanched beetroot leaves, chopped asparagus, calendula and short-grain rice

We just got back from three weeks travelling around Japan, and we’re still doing that lovely thing – remembering what we were doing in increments from now. You know, ‘This time last week’, or ‘Two weeks ago today’: ‘We were walking around that amazing moss-covered cemetery in Koya San / at the giant Buddha in Kamakura with Shiro and Timoko / eating yakitori skewers for breakfast in Kochi / in our Airbnb in Kanazawa listening to the typhoon howling out our window!’ Continue reading Japanese greens and walnut salad