Pâté, Spanish pickled vegetables

Homemade olives in brine in jarsChicken liver pate, Spanish pickled vegetables

Lots of things converging here: the homemade olives we are tickle pink with; a Spanish-inspired quick pickle featuring said olives and other puckering bits (and delicious vinagery carrot!); my friend’s mother’s pâté recipe, which is as much a celebration of onion and nutmeg as it is chicken livers. I’ve made these two dishes multiple times through December and January – peasant food that is fit for a Christmas table, or for get togethers and celebrations of any kind. Continue reading Pâté, Spanish pickled vegetables

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

Italian chickpea soup

Italian chickpea soup with vegetables and short pasta

I’m not one for splashing chicken stock around in the kitchen. I think it has its place in broth-style soups or in dishes that actually feature chicken, but I’ve always found its presence in vegetable risottos or vegetable soups (and in so, so many other recipes you read) just a little bit insulting! Like the poor old vegetables can’t stand up on their own. There are other ways of creating flavour and depth that are much more fresh and vibrant, whether that be for a paella, pumpkin risotto or cauliflower soup. Continue reading Italian chickpea soup

Baked barley

Barley, tomato and vegetable stew

My husband can make a pot of homemade baked beans with his eyes closed – the beans are soaked and blanched; mixed with onion, tomato, spices. After hours of cooking, the end result is tweaked with honey – white beans suspended in a rust-red liquor. These were a breakfast staple at our old cafe and my husband still tends towards making a mega load, filling lots of containers for the freezer. We pop them out every so often at weekends … Eating them on top of melted cheese toast, scattered with plenty of chopped parsley, takes me straight back to having our first baby. Those were hungry, busy, yet beautiful days, and I remember eating this for lunch, sometimes with one of us with our little girl asleep in the Baby Bjorn, the odd bean landing on her head! Continue reading Baked barley

Annual mushroom soup

Pine mushrooms and wood blewitts

I thought we’d well and truly missed mushroom season this year. For pine mushrooms (saffron milk caps) it’s autumn, and now it’s July and we’ve only just managed to rustle ourselves out the door and in the car and down to my dad’s place in South-West Victoria, where we have a secret mushroom spot nearby. We found it about five years ago and going back has been a highlight every year since. I jump out of the car and skip around like a schoolkid, way too excited. My husband is the stealth hunter and gets straight to business, finding and cutting the best and most beautiful specimens over the hills. Continue reading Annual mushroom soup