Shiso fish skewers with vermicelli salad

Red shiso (perilla) leaf illustration by Alex HotchinRed shiso (perilla) growing in the summer vegetable garden

Herewith an ode to one of my favourite herbs – one I think you should bring into your kitchen. Perhaps even your garden!? Yes, I’ve taken a deep dive into all things shiso (perilla/beefsteak plant/purple mint) since growing it in my veggie patch the last few summers, and I’ve discovered so much. There are things I want to share with you – a magical iced tea, Korean pickled shiso, and many more ideas for what you can make with a little market bunch or a whole crop. Plus there’s a recipe for shiso fish skewers, my riff on the classic Vietnamese ‘beef in betel leaf’. Come along for the journey! I’ll also tell you about the beautiful image above … Continue reading Shiso fish skewers with vermicelli salad

Nougat ice cream cake

Nougat ice cream cake with raspberries

This recipe was born from a failure, as my son likes to remind me! You could call it an experiment – because I knew it could fail, but was excited by the challenge anyway. I was trying to make nougat without a thermometer. It’s tricky to know when the sugar is cooked to the right point for the nougat to set and not ooze … Continue reading Nougat ice cream cake

Fig and cinnamon ice cream

Fig and cinnamon ice cream made with honey-roasted figs

Salt-crusted and wrapped in beach towels, we’re standing on the polished concrete floor of our favourite holiday ice-cream shop, waiting in line though not standing still. The kids are darting off to check the cabinet and make up their minds, while I, their much more respectable adult, am subtly standing on tippy toes and peering around the people in front of me. My two kids have taken to betting which flavour I’ll get – plum, quince, prickly pear; if there is something fruity and unusual, it has ‘mum’ written all over it they reckon. The give me their vote; I feel annoyed, pigeon-holed; then invariably get what they thought. Continue reading Fig and cinnamon ice cream

Nasi ulam (Malaysian herb rice)

Nasi ulam (Malaysian herb rice)

Holiday photos and memories have a surreal edge to them right now. ‘Was that really last year?’ … ‘Was that real at all?’ Looking back on life before COVID19, you can’t help but feel it was a little hedonistic. We did whatever we wanted! Maybe we set some boundaries or tried to care for others or the planet, but our freedom was extraordinary, wasn’t it? Particularly if you had money for a plane ticket. Continue reading Nasi ulam (Malaysian herb rice)

Nepali cucumber salad with sesame and spices

Nepalese cucumber salad with sesame and spices

Our defence against corona virus is stepping up here in Australia, but I can see so much to be grateful for. Events, sports and activities are being cancelled all around us and we’ve begun social distancing, though in many ways I think we’re the lucky ones in the southern hemisphere. It is early autumn and the weather is glorious! If we are fortunate enough to have a backyard and a garden, now is the time to give it some love, plant veggies, get that project happening you’ve long had on your list. Not only the circumstances but the weather is made for it … Continue reading Nepali cucumber salad with sesame and spices

Grilled peach and haloumi salad

Elberta yellow peaches on treePeach and haloumi salad

Every summer for a few years now, the season of our backyard Elberta peaches coincides with two very special people coming to stay. My husband’s cousin Julian and his wife Anya arrive, all set for a few days at the Australian Open. Their visit turns into an all-round tennis bender at our house – evenings watching tennis on TV, punctuated with rounds of totem tennis with the kids in the backyard, and the occasional board game. Eating peaches straight from the tree is a happy sideline. Continue reading Grilled peach and haloumi salad

Orange, almond and currant biscuits (and homemade mixed spice)

Homemade mixed spice

This year’s Christmas and holiday packing essentials: presents, clothes, a tent, sleeping bags, an esky, cooking equipment, swimming stuff, six jars of sauerkraut and olives, chocolate truffles I’ve been experimenting with, panettone, nougat, potted prawns, Spanish pickled vegetables, drinks (maybe this one), two types of biscuits because one doesn’t seem enough … Yes, that sounds crazy! But the people who are close to me love me, I think 🙂 Continue reading Orange, almond and currant biscuits (and homemade mixed spice)

Sauerkraut rice with pork and paprika (plus recipe for sauerkraut)

Sauerkraut rice with pork and paprikaHomemade fresh sauerkraut (below) meets old sauerkraut

Food falls into all kinds of categories. Next month it’ll be glistening and colourful, done in big quantities, no holds barred, the best we can muster. But for now, in the quiet backwaters of November, I’m slipping in a dish that is really the opposite: not beautiful to look at, humble, personal, and so delicious. Continue reading Sauerkraut rice with pork and paprika (plus recipe for sauerkraut)

Chipotle potato tacos, pepita salt

Chipotle potato tacos, pepita salt

A pile of potatoes = money in the bank if you ask me (or any of the other small/large humans in my house). This is not the same as declaring love for quinoa or kimchi, is it? I’m pretty sure spuds have never been named a super food, but eating organic ones with the skin on might get them just a little closer …?? They make up for any shortfall with the delight they have to give in so many ways. Continue reading Chipotle potato tacos, pepita salt