North African grilled capsicum and egg salad

Boiled eggs and grilled green capsicum salad

Choosing green capsicum (bell pepper) over red is some kind of step into true, post-30 adulthood. All through my younger years I barely took any notice of green, always making a beeline for fire-truck red: so happy and sweet. But now I see that green capsicum isn’t just an unripe version of red, but a brilliant thing in itself – its sweetness balanced out with zing and depth. It’s become my go-to for paella, and I love it in this salad. Continue reading North African grilled capsicum and egg salad

Paneer makhani

Indian paneer cheese in spiced tomato sauce with cardamom sweet potato roti

Tomato and cheese – a classic Italian combination, yes? Well here is its Indian cousin. Cubes of paneer cheese cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, creamy with butter and cashews. A bowlful of comfort that has become a huge favourite in our house, particularly in combination with this cardamom-spiked sweet potato roti (optional; rice is also great). Continue reading Paneer makhani

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

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

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