Pasta salad with olives and roasted garlic

Pasta salad with olives and roast garlic

I started out making pasta when I moved out of home, at age 17, featuring a crisper worth of vegetables plus some pesto from a jar. (Wry smile thinking about the strange tiles of pumpkin I used to cut, and the undercooked eggplant. But I was doing a good job of eating vegetables at least!) Continue reading Pasta salad with olives and roasted garlic

Sultana polenta cake

sultana polenta cake

‘Sultana cake’ is probably not the thing you lust after … but bear with me! This cake is beautifully buttery without being particuarly high in butter, and the sultanas … well, I like sultanas, but in this cake they taste somehow better than plain sultanas – juicy and mellowed and more sophisticated. It’s definitely a case of a thing being more than the sum of its parts. Continue reading Sultana polenta cake

Pumpkin, leek and anchovy pizza

Pumpkin, leek and anchovy pizza

We get a weekly box of fruit and vegetables through a small suburban co-op that buys directly from a local organic farm. The co-op has 25 member households, and I wrote a story about how it all works and about box shopping in general for the winter issue of Slow Living magazine (joy!). I used the story as a good excuse to go out and visit the farm that supplies us, which is called Green Gully Organics on the edge of the Yarra Valley. Here are my favourite photos taken in the packing shed while talking to one of the lovely owners Shelley Chilton, and wandering around the farm trying to dodge all the mud (should have worn gumboots!). (Can you tell it was leek season?!) Scroll to the bottom for a few words about the farm and a favourite pizza recipe featuring the beautiful pumpkin and leeks we get in our box at this time of year. Continue reading Pumpkin, leek and anchovy pizza

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

Zucchini, tomato and basil stew

zucchini tomato basil stew close upBaby Tromboncino zucchini

The zucchinis are upon us! I’m growing the Italian variety called Tromboncino again, and I won’t write much about it here as you can read about it in last year’s post (Stir-fried zucchini and seasonal greens with soybean paste). In a nutshell, this zucchini is a climber so it takes up much less ground space than regular zucchini. We have it growing over an arch-like frame, which creates a lovely shady nook in the garden. The pale-green zucchinis are super long and thin and the kids like to pretend they’re walking sticks. Family, friends and neighbours have been gifted a few this year – I’m spreading the crazy zucchini love! Continue reading Zucchini, tomato and basil stew

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

Eggplant, tomato and basil pasta

Eggplant, tomato and basil pasta

The veggie garden is looking decidedly bare and wintery now that I’ve finally pulled out the tomato bushes and collected the very last ripening tomatoes. It’s the end of a process of watching the garden build up and up in a frenzy over summer – the plants growing taller as the weather gets hotter – then watching things come down again piece by piece as the sun slips back in the sky and it starts getting chilly. Continue reading Eggplant, tomato and basil pasta

Italian chickpea bread

Italian chickpea bread and salads

A few years ago, while searching in an op shop, I found a small hardback cookbook that’s become a favourite. Believe it or not, good cookbooks are so hard to find in op shops that I’ve almost given up looking. You sift through a gazillion microwave and diet cookbooks and mostly come up with nothing. Continue reading Italian chickpea bread

Proper egg carbonara

Proper egg carbonara

In my uni days I used to stay at my boyfriend’s share house almost often enough to chip in to the rent – it was a house of four guys, where the dishes only got washed once they started to turn the corner of the long u-shaped bench; where the figs on the big tree in the backyard were used to play cricket (no-one knew what to do with a fig, even me); and where someone’s basket of dirty clothes stood in the laundry unchanged for two years. Carbonara was a feature on the menu, involving pieces of bacon not fried for long enough and still with its chewy rind on; onion or spring onion; and a 600 ml tub of cream.

Continue reading Proper egg carbonara