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

Puffed rice granola

Puffed rice granola

I feel lucky there are no food intolerances in my little family. We eat dairy, all kinds of nuts, eggs, sugar, and all the no-go foods for people on the low FODMAP diet (I’ve got a slightly limited understanding of this, but know it excludes onion, garlic and some fruits, vegetables and legumes). We’re also fine with that big category that is gluten. And while I am never fussed by catering to particular diets and I support family and friends who have intolerances, at the same time I feel personal horror at the thought of cutting out some of these foods (like no onion or garlic!?). Continue reading Puffed rice granola

Pomelo salad (with squid)

Pomelo and squid salad ingredients

Citrus is incredible at the moment. The colder it gets, the better it seems to taste, which helps me to remember that even the chilliest depth of winter is a season I should love (I try!). Friends sent a big bag of home-grown mandarins our way and I think they’re imperials (the most popular and common mandarins), but they’re so different to commercial ones. Their skin is still touched with green and inside they’re bursting with juice. They have more pips than usual, but their flavour is so sweet and real and wintery. Continue reading Pomelo salad (with squid)

Pumpkin, leek and anchovy pizza

Pumpkin, leek and anchovy pizza

We get a weekly box of fruit and vegetables through a small suburban co-op that buys directly from a local organic farm. The co-op has 25 member households, and I wrote a story about how it all works and about box shopping in general for the winter issue of Slow Living magazine (joy!). I used the story as a good excuse to go out and visit the farm that supplies us, which is called Green Gully Organics on the edge of the Yarra Valley. Here are my favourite photos taken in the packing shed while talking to one of the lovely owners Shelley Chilton, and wandering around the farm trying to dodge all the mud (should have worn gumboots!). (Can you tell it was leek season?!) Scroll to the bottom for a few words about the farm and a favourite pizza recipe featuring the beautiful pumpkin and leeks we get in our box at this time of year. Continue reading Pumpkin, leek and anchovy pizza

Tortilla soup

Tortilla soup and toppings

There are so many reasons to love this soup, and so many ways you could describe it. You could talk about the warm and fruity dried pasilla chillies that give the soup its brick-red colour, or the charred tomatoes, onion and garlic that are another big part of its flavour. And then there are the cubes of avocado that go on top, and the fried tortilla strips and the crumbled queso fresco cheese (sooo delicious, if you can get your hands on it). But before all these elements are added, it actually boils down to being a version of chicken soup and one you could definitely turn to when you’ve got a cold – I would say it’s even more worthy (and more exciting) than your standard variety as it has also has tomatoes for vitamin C. It’s a phenomenal soup whichever way you look at it.  Continue reading Tortilla soup