Cheese souffle + best-dressed French salad

Cheese souffle and best-dressed salad

December cooking is the best, isn’t it? Christmas, obviously, plus all those extra get togethers with good friends and family … That feeling it’s the end of the year and time to mark and celebrate it in lots of ways, including through the food we eat. Some of the things that may happen in our house:
Chocolate pavlova smothered with cherries
Mussels split open and grilled with salsa
Spanish pickled vegetables (with bread/cheese/pâté)
Peach leaf prosecco or other easy but festive sparkling wine cocktails/spritzes …
Continue reading Cheese souffle + best-dressed French 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

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

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

Fig, feta and honey pizza

figs ripening under our net

Having dinner outside sometimes feels like our kids’ ticket to mucking around at the dinner table – wandering off on important missions such as to catch a cabbage moth stuck in the raspberry net, or to feed the chickens some basil. The eating can go on f-o-r-e-v-e-r as we don’t have the heart to tell them off properly and ruin the atmosphere. Instead we say a few semi-cross words, make sure they have a few more mouthfuls of dinner, then we’re back to having a conversation and they wander off again about a second later. But it’s so nice sitting out in the greenery with all of us enjoying our space. Continue reading Fig, feta and honey pizza

Two favourite pancakes

ricotta blueberry pancakes

I have a friend who is fanatical about poaching eggs on the weekend. He has it down to an art form not using any mod cons like electric egg poachers (!) or cheating with plastic wrap (!!), but sometimes the eggs themselves conspire against him and don’t want to be poached in that pleasing neat sphere. Ah well, still he enjoys his eggs over the morning paper, then feels ready to get on with the rest of his weekend.

Making pancakes is my thing – it’s a box that needs to be ticked each weekend, a moment of slowing down and taking it easy that makes me feel like all is well with the world again after another busy week. Of course it’s also about enjoying something different for breakfast other than the usual run of weekday porridge, muesli and cereal that we scoff down in a hurry. I have a few different pancake and crepe recipes I rotate, and my husband has a few of his own too, although I have to say I hog the spotlight in this department, such is my enjoyment in the trio that is a bowl of batter, a frying pan and me! Continue reading Two favourite pancakes

Chilaquiles

Tomato chilaquiles in the pan

Working on an introduction to a Mexican cookbook a few months ago has sent me off on a new cooking adventure. The world of Mexican food is big and there’s a lot to cover, and the cookbooks I now have in my collection are hardcore – full of exotic, hard-to-come-by ingredients and strict cooking techniques. Mexican cuisine has always seemed interesting, but also a bit difficult and daunting to really do properly – so much easier for me to ramble into Asia, the Middle East, Europe, even Africa, for endless inspiration … But slowly I’m wrapping my head around Mexican food, cooking some great new things. I’ve realised I’m not just adding a new dish to my big list of favourite things to cook, but a whole new category. It’s been so exciting and I’m not nearly done yet. Continue reading Chilaquiles

Stuffed flatbreads

Pumpkin walnut and silverbeet feta fillings for flatbreadsGraters, illustration by Katherine Bird

Sometimes life goes so fast you completely forget to take photographs. Or you feel too giddy with the experience to stop to write anything down.

Pulling the back off our house two years ago and embarking on our renovation was like this. My husband worked his butt off through winter rebuilding as fast as he could, while our then-1-year-old daughter and I got on as best we could in our draughty half-house with its bathroom in a tin shed in the backyard. Continue reading Stuffed flatbreads

Fig and quark (or cream cheese) strudel

Fig and quark (or cream cheese) strudel

Figs, I’ve noticed, are surprisingly polarising. You offer them to some people and they act like you’re presenting them with a bag of precious gems, loaded with memories of childhood and warm autumn sun and being perched in the middle of their grandfather’s fig tree. And then, there are people who look at you with the deepest suspicion, as if sizing you up to see if you are actually serious. They take a moment, looking at the prospect of eating some kind of poison, then reply an awkward ‘no thanks’ and try to change the subject. Continue reading Fig and quark (or cream cheese) strudel