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

Strawberry and coconut cake

Chick with Paris the mother henStrawberry and coconut cake

This spring we attempted some kind of holy grail in chicken keeping (shy of getting an actual rooster), and got twelve fertilised eggs to put underneath a clucky chicken. We’d wanted to do this for years, but hadn’t managed to seize the moment and get the eggs quick enough. This time things were looking good. Our famously clucky old chook called Paris started showing signs on a Thursday, and by Sunday we’d fetched the eggs and placed them underneath her. Then began a three-week waiting period that felt like an age. Continue reading Strawberry and coconut cake

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

Plum curd

plum curd and tart casesplum curd tarts 1

Once a year I scramble across the roof of our chicken coop to pick a bucket of cherry plums. The tree hangs right over the roof, and conveniently the neighbour’s chicken coop is right next door and the tree hangs over that too … It’s just one little step from our roof to their roof and I do it, cheekily never asking for permission. Up there I’ve got full view of their whole yard, but with my head in a fruit tree I get a bit bold and reckless – I just want to fill my bucket! My six-year-old daughter now wants to join in! (Fruit-focused recklessness carrying on into the next generation.) Continue reading Plum curd

Chocolate pavlova with cherries

chocolate pavlova with cherries

This pavlova has snuck onto the scene as a dessert for the festive season in our family – not as the main event (we’re all pretty wedded to Christmas pudding), but as a dessert for those barbecues and picnics in the lead up to Christmas or for Boxing Day. Continue reading Chocolate pavlova with cherries

Mushroom and potato stir-fry

mushroom potato stir-fry 1

Mushroom and potato stir-fry, tucked inside an omelette, on a pile of fluffy rice – if this was my last meal on earth I’d be happy.

It was how I felt yesterday after I took the omelette photo and tucked in. Was I just really hungry, or enjoying the first quiet moment of sitting down by myself in a number of days? Actually I think the food was just really, really good. Continue reading Mushroom and potato stir-fry

Gado gado with homemade sprouts

Roasted peanuts, palm sugar and kaffir lime leaves for satay sauce in food processorSatay (peanut) sauce and gado gado

My five-year-old daughter surprised me the other day and asked for some sprouts in her kinder snack box. I looked at her and said, ‘What, do you mean plain?’ And she said ‘Yes – a container of sprouts, with a spoon please Mum.’ I almost said, ‘Are you sure?’ but stopped myself. Continue reading Gado gado with homemade sprouts

Beetroot salad with spinach, egg and dukkah croutons

Beetroot salad with spinach, egg and dukkah croutons

We got a bag of beautiful organic baby beetroots in our Friday box of fruit and vegetables, and I set to thinking about all the things I love to do with beetroots. Sri Lankan beetroot curry and borsht are on the top of my list. But when it’s a matter of gorgeous baby beets, I think it’s best to keep it simple and do as little as possible, in what has become known in my head as ‘Italian-style beetroot’. Continue reading Beetroot salad with spinach, egg and dukkah croutons

Baby plum friands

Baby plum friands

There’s a plum tree in our backyard, down on the fence next to the chicken coop. It’s a scraggly thing – nondescript with lots of thin branches and small leaves sticking up chaotically into the air. We were going to cut it down before we realised it was a fruit tree, and eventually decided that with its position right on the fence, the tree wasn’t taking up much space or doing any harm. It’s one of our only established fruit trees so we had to love it a little. Continue reading Baby plum friands

Feijoa and lime meringue pie

feijoasFeijoa and lime meringue pie

This year was a first for me – I tasted feijoa. Life is short and I can’t believe I have wasted so much time already! These dusky green globules are just beautiful to cut, with a creamy yellow interior and a swirling flower pattern made up of translucent yellow-green flesh speckled with a few tiny brown seeds. Their exotic smell wafts all over the house – if you’re not a fan, you might describe it as ‘Deep Heat’, but that’s a bit unfair I think … The taste has a definite sarsaparilla twist, but after having a few my daughter and I found them irresistible. Sweet but with an interesting tang, and such a nice change from the pears, oranges and apples of late autumn and winter. We spooned out the flesh one feijoa after another, the table littered with empty shells. Continue reading Feijoa and lime meringue pie