Valentine's Day Gift: The USB Mixed Tape

Saturday, February 1, 2014





Remember the lost art of the mixed tape?

It required:

Planning.  Which songs?  What order?  How much rewinding and re-recording before the tape gave out?   

Dexterity.  Pressing 'play' and 'record' in tandem, on a double-cassette boom-box the size of a carry-on, took skills.  

Initiative.  Achieving variety involved raiding your friends' and neighbors' collections - not iTunes.

Time + Timing.  Listening to each and every song, appropriately spaced, for it's full duration - no short-cuts, no point and click expediency.  

Yearning + Audacity.  In equal measure.  Every song a loaded message of love and longing.  Every tape a declaration.

And A Pencil.  For coaxing 4 hours' worth of work back into the case, wrinkle-free, while holding your breath.  

It was a labor of love.

This February 14th, you could hand your valentine a playlist on a USB stick.  Or an M3P player.  Or even a disc.  But where's the poetry in that?
Enter Milktape, where old-school style meets new world technology.

The perfect mix.


Sample

Songs for my valentine.  Some because we met on the dance floor.  Some because we understand the 'for better and for worse' bit.  Some because they say it better than I can.  All because he rocks.
  1. Burn Your Name - Powderfinger
  2. You Make My Dreams - Hall & Oates
  3. Best Of My Love - The Emotions
  4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Stevie Wonder
  5. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
  6. Dancing In The Moonlight - Toploader
  7. I Put A Spell On You - Nina Simone
  8. Call Me - Blondie
  9. Mockingbird - Carly Simon & James Taylor
  10. You Got The Love - Florence And The Machine
  11. Praise You - Fat Boy Slim
  12. To Be Real - Cherly Lynn
  13. Things Can Only Get Better - D:Ream
  14. Accentuate The Positive - Johnny Mercer
  15. Viva La Vida - Coldplay
  16. Return To Innocence - Enya
  17. Price Tag - Jessie J
  18. Though Swell - Blossom Dearie
  19. That's Life - Frank Sinatra
  20. Uptight - Stevie Wonder
  21. I Put A Spell On You - Nina Simone
  22. Fever - Peggy Lee
  23. Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney
  24. Hard Headed Woman - Elvis Presley
  25. If You Really Love Me - Stevie Wonder
  26. I Want You Back - Michael Jackson & The Jackson Five
  27. I Try - Macy Gray
  28. Jungle - Emma Louise
  29. Tiny Dancer - Elton John
  30. Under Pressure - Queen & David Bowie
  31. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
  32. Shelter From The Storm - Bob Dylan




Drunken Figs

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Fig season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye.

Every year it is the same.

No sooner have I noted their presence in market stalls and scurried home to research new recipes, than they disappear, and I am left to wait another twelve months for experimentation.

Missed opportunities due to too much research.  Story of my life.

This year, I grabbed the figs and ran.  And in my haste, I forgot to test them for ripeness.

Normally, when I think figs, I think fragrant, pregnant parcels of sweetness, all juice and seeds.

The ones I pulled from my paper bag were disappointingly dry and unyielding.  

What to do?

Apply lateral thinking, and do what you would with any dry and unyielding specimen brought home in haste, without proper vetting: loosen them up with a bit of grog.


Several mighty slugs of brandy, a tablespoon or three of brown sugar, water to just barely cover the fruit (stems trimmed and split in half), a medium flame, and we were off.

Twenty minutes later, I had a pot of sticky, syrupy, figgy indulgence.

Warmed and spooned over plain-Jane porridge or simple vanilla ice cream, it makes the mundane divine.

No recipe required.

But you might want a cigarette.




Snowflakes For Sandy Hook School

Wednesday, December 19, 2012




My oldest friend, whose son attends Sandy Hook school, shared the message below. 

It is a relief to be able to do even the tiniest thing to help.  

Please pass it along to give those children something to smile about. 

Snowflakes, all the way from Australia - or France, or Vietnam, or England, or wherever you call home - will let them know that the whole world cares. 

Because we do.

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook


So many of you near and far have asked what you could do to help. Students from Sandy Hook will be relocated to another school. The building is being prepped, but could use some sprucing up. Info about our "Snowflakes for Sandy Hook" is below.

Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!! No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514, by January 12, 2013


Olympic Fish Pie

Wednesday, August 15, 2012



It seems universally agreed (even by reluctant Sydney-based media) that London has bested us all, taking gold for the most outstanding Games in living memory.

What better way to celebrate their success than with a truly British dish: Fish Pie.  

As a Yank, this is unfamiliar territory, so I decided to ask some British authorities, 

What makes an excellent fish pie?  

Nigella:  When I'm feeling the need for some comfort, there's nothing I love more than to wrap myself in the warm caress of a fish pie.  First, I strip the glistening, firm fillets of their skin - naked is better, don't you think?  Then I gently poach the fillets, taking care not to rush things along in a heated lather, as I tend to do.  When the fish is just right - tender and briny and yielding to the touch - I get on with the roux: take a great, big knob of butter - the bigger the better - and let it melt with an equal measure of flour over a long, slow heat until it's bubbling and crying out... for the stock.  Add a mound of grated cheese - lots and lots of cheese - for a gooey, unctuous sauce, and another knob of butter for a silky texture that oozes pleasure with every mouthful.  Spread your mash over the top - I like to use my hands - and top with more cheese.  Too much is never enough.

Jamie:  Right, fish pie.  We're gonna do a really clever, deconstructed fish pie.  No poaching, no fussing about with a white sauce.  Just fish and veg and mash.  We've got this lovely 1kg bag of frozen fish off-cuts from the grocery - no need to defrost it, just whack it in the casserole dish, and as it cooks the ice will break down to form a light, delicate stock.  Beau'iful.  Now, take your veg - your potato, your carrot, your celery, your courgette - whatever you have on hand - and we're going to grate the veg right into the dish, just making a lovely stack of shredded bits like this and scatter it over the fish.  Add some herbs - that's right, just throw the stems in, no need to pick the leaves but you can give it a chop if you want.  Then we're going to pour on some of this lovely cream, and, for the topping, we're simply going to slice some potato - no need to peel or boil - and we're gonna layer it right over the top.  Then, at the end, when it's all lovely and golden and bubbly, we're going to mash the potato with a fork, right on the pie. Too easy.   We'll serve it to every school child in Britain - just watch the weight drop off.

Gordon: I'll tell you how to make a f***ing beautiful, posh fish pie.  We're going to start with loads of  fresh, white fillets from your local fishmonger - this will be the backbone of your dish.  Check the eyes - they should be clear and bright; if they're cloudy, you know they've been in the f***ing freezer and it's rubbish.  Add some prawns, some butter, some cream, some shallots, top it with mash - keep it fresh, keep it simple.  Poach the fillets and prawns in some stock and vermouth, make a roux, cook some mash with butter, milk and egg yolk, and cook the lot until it's golden on the top and bubbling beneath.  Serve it with some petit pois tossed with butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Simple.  Brilliant.  F***ing delicious.  


He wasn't able to take my call, but directed me to this recipe, compliments of Gourmet Traveller.  

We gave it a whirl.

Hix's version calls for a mix of white fish, salmon, and prawns, and involves both poaching and making a sauce (sorry, Jamie).  



Normally, I like flavors to hit me over the head, but Hix's sauce is subtle and complex, flavored with Dijon mustard, the help of a single anchovy and generous quantities of dill, chervil and parsley.  


The pie is topped off with a spread of mash and a moderate sprinkling of bread crumbs and parmesan.  

A word of caution: keep your mash relatively rustic and dry.  

On my test run, I tried to match the delicacy of the sauce with an equally delicate mash, and went for extra-smooth and creamy, using a potato ricer and lots of milk.  Big mistake.

I wound up with fish mash, as the potato melded with the sauce, when what I wanted was a lid - potato above, fish and sauce below. 


On the second lap, I got the balance right.

The result, now known in our house as Olympic Fish Pie, was a winner.  

We won't be waiting another four years to enjoy it again.  

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Best Pumpkin Soup EVER

Friday, August 10, 2012


Ah, the Olympics.

I have screamed, cried and sung my national anthem (American), all before breakfast.

I am exhausted.

Luckily, the cooking is already done: my freezer is stocked to bulging with litre upon litre of "The Best Pumpkin Soup EVER."

DB's description - not mine - but who am I to argue?

DB is passionate about this soup.

He muscles all his friends who come to play into trying some (it's on permanent weekend rotation).

A few non-pumpkin eaters have refused and, though he'd never come out and say so, I suspect they've dropped in the rankings.

Strange friendship criteria for a seven-year-old boy?

Perhaps.  But this is, after all, the child who asked Santa for a lobster last Christmas, and not as a pet.

And yet I still can't get him to eat fruit.

He's a mystery.

Back to the soup.

I posted about it way back when, but it's become such a staple that I feel it bears repeating.

Pumpkin soup is ubiquitous, like vanilla ice cream or steamed vegetables - always there, but nothing to get excited about.

This is different.

Pancetta, red onions, parmesan, and, critically, red wine vinegar distinguish this version from thinner, more timid cousins.

If pumpkin isn't your thing, I've included links to a few other favourites, below.

But don't expect DB to play with you.

Stay warm.

Dash's Best Pumpkin Soup EVER

This recipe was inspired by one that I clipped out from a magazine - who knows which one - years ago.   To the inspired soul who thought of including the pancetta, red onion and red wine vinegar: Thank you!

3 butternut pumpkins, halved and left un-peeled, seeds scooped out
3 olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
a knob of butter
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150 gm round mild pancetta, finely chopped (sliced pancetta works fine, too - just chop it fine)
2 litres (8 cups) chicken stock
a handful of finely grated parmesan - if you have a leftover rind, toss that in the pot, too

a good slug of  red wine vinegar (approximately 2 Tbs)

1.  Preheat oven to 200C.  Place pumpkin skin-side down on an oven tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil, season to taste, roast until very tender and caramelised (approximately 1 hour).  Leave to cool.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over a medium-high flame and saute the pancetta until crisping along the edges.  

3.  Reduce the flame to medium and add the onion, sauteing until they become soft and translucent.   Add the garlic and stir through well and saute gently and briefly - you don't want the garlic to burn.  

4.  Take the pan off the heat.   Scoop the pumpkin from its shells, and add to the pot.  Pour over the chicken stock, stir the lot, and turn the heat back on to medium high.  If you have that left over heel of parmesan,  add it now.  Bring the soup to the near-boill and continue to simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally (approximately 20 minutes).  

5.  Remove the parmesan heel and puree using a hand-held blender wand until very smooth.

6.  Add a generous handful of finely grated parmesan and a good slug of red wine vinegar, blend again to incorporate.  Season to taste, and you're done.

7.   Optional:  If you want to be fancy-pantsy, you could make some parmesan toast by combining equal parts softened butter and finely grated parmesan, plus one finely chopped garlic clove, spreading the mixture over thin baguette slices and grilling.  


Other soups on permanent rotation at our place include:




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Extra-Rich Golden Lemon Curd

Friday, August 3, 2012



Things I love about Melbourne:

Lying in bed, and hearing the tram turn the corner.   

Buzzing cafes, spilling over, morning, noon and night.  

Nearly every coffee is a great coffee.

Thriving, independent bookstores, filled with real, actual books. 

Endless pockets of quirky, one-off shops.

Old and new sitting well together.

The attention to design and style in almost everything.


Things I hate about Melbourne:

The weather.  


Winter has been dark, wet and dreary, as evidenced by my shadowy, window-lit pics.  

A feeble complaint from a girl who grew up praying for snow days and trudging through slush, perhaps, but I've gone soft.

Luckily, nature is sometimes merciful.

Just when you think you can't stand another day of gumboots and inverted umbrellas, lemons appear.

Edible sunshine.

Spreadable sunshine, actually, if you meld them with eggs, sugar, and butter to make Extra-Rich Golden Lemon Curd.

Two things set this recipe, adapted from la Martha, apart:
  1. egg yolks - six, to be exact, and not a white in sight.  A yolk-only approach makes for a richer, thicker curd.  You could go with three whole eggs, for a lighter result, but why?
  2. straining - not once, but twice.  First, the egg yolks and, later, the final emulsion.  When you see what's left in the sieve, you'll be glad you did. 
The result from this ridiculously simple recipe is a decadent pot of goodness - or badness, depending upon how you look at it.

I went through a half-loaf of bread to get these shots.

The props kept disappearing.

But I forgot all about the weather.


Extra-Rich Lemon Curd
Yield: 1.5 cups

Ingredients

6 organic egg yolks, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice, strained
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 Tbs lemon zest, grated

Directions

1.  Start by sterilizing a glass jar for your finished product.

2.  Locate the perfect pot: it should be heavy-based and medium-sized, to reduce your odds of winding up with scrambled eggs.

3.  Separate your eggs, reserving the whites for a future meringue - or egg white omelet, should you feel the need to repent.  Egg whites can be frozen - just be sure to label them so you know how many you are dealing with later.

4.  Beat the yolks until smooth and strain through a fine mesh sieve, directly into the saucepan.  Don't push what remains through the sieve; you don't want it in there.

5.  Grate the zest from one lemon and set aside.

6.  Add the lemon juice and sugar to the egg yolk and stir to combine.

7.  Over a low, gentle heat, stir continuously for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.

8.  Remove from the heat and pour through a clean sieve, into a mixing bowl.

9.  Swiftly add the chilled butter pieces and mix through - this will lend a satiny sheen as well as cool your mixture.

10.  Add the grated lemon zest - 1 Tbs if you are going regulation, more if you prefer extra pucker.

11.  Make a piece of toast with white bread only - the kind you'd never admit to buying.  Spread your toast with salted butter.  Slather it with your lemon curd.  Repeat as necessary.

12.  Transfer what remains to your glass container and refrigerate.

In theory, it will keep for two weeks, but I suspect we'll never know.  

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Books On The Bedside Table

Thursday, July 26, 2012


After a series of false starts that left me wondering when, if ever, I would again feel the exquisite agony of a brilliant book coming to an end, I struck gold with four consecutive winners.

I lost a lot of beauty sleep, but they were (nearly) worth every wrinkle.  Enjoy.  

Bring Up The Bodies by Hillary Mantel.
The magic of Hilary Mantel is that she makes history utterly contemporary and - incredibly - suspenseful.  We know the ending, but can't stop turning the pages to find out, What next?

In Wolf Hall, the Man-Booker Prize-winning first installment in her phenomenal trilogy, Mantel chronicles the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, a man of low birth and obscure background, who transforms himself into Henry VIII's most trusted advisor by negotiating his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and, consequently, England's separation from Rome.

As Bring Up The Bodies opens, Anne has failed to deliver the male heir she's promised Henry and her witty barbs, once charming, have begun to chafe.  Henry is now in the market for a more fertile and complacent companion, and, once again, Cromwell must clear the way for the king's remarriage.  Spanning nine pivotal months, the book concentrates on the three weeks during which Anne falls definitely out of favor and is arrested, tried and executed.  Cromwell survives the woman whose fortunes raised his own, but realizes it's only a matter of time before his own head is on a stake.

If, like me, you can't get enough, listen to this author interview.  The wait for book three is excruciating.

Note: if you were off-put by pronoun confusion in Wolf Hall (I often found myself rereading passages to confirm who was speaking or being referred to), good news - Mantel has addressed this issue.  The pages of Bringing Up The Bodies will fly through your fingers.

The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
To the bookseller who warned that the first 175 pages might be a slog, as it was all a bit academic: (a) I don't know what you were talking about, and (b) nothing could have put me off after reading the opening chapter.  Pitch perfect.  It's hardly fair that, as one of the worlds leading contemporary ceramicists, writing isn't even his day job.

In this epic memoir, Edmund de Waal tells his family's history by tracing the origin and progression of his unique inheritance: a collection of 264 Japanese netsuke carvings.  His appearance at the Sydney Writers' Festival (listen herehad the audience (and this at-home listener) in tears.  Unforgettable.

The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst.
You could be forgiven for coming away from The Stranger's Child with the understanding that everyone in early 20th century England was secretly gay.   That said, I was mesmerized by Hollinghurst's extraordinary capacity for conjuring so perfectly the internal dialogue of every character, and the shifting nuances of every one of their social encounters, as the narrative changed perspective and period.  Incredibly powerful writing, and a compelling storyline.  I was under the doona with a flashlight, way, way past my bedtime.

All That I Am by Anna Funder
Is it right to issue a review before actually finishing the book?  I am applying the love-at-first-sight rule and, saying, YES.  I stumbled into this one - it was a gift and I deliberately didn't read the jacket notes.  So glad that I did.  I'll do you the same favor by not commenting on the text, but simply urge you to pick it up.  I am 1/3 of the way through and could barely put it down to t y p e t  h  i  s   ....

2

Best Of Adelaide, Part One: The Hills

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Our Garden


Like the errant boyfriend who sniffs dismissal in the air, I find that most cities, as soon as I resign myself to leaving them, suddenly turn on the charm.  


Adelaide, however, has been a pretty beaut beau all along, which makes the parting harder.    


I could fill a book with all the things I love about this little city, nestled between the ocean and The Hills, and surrounded by wineries and culinary artisans.  


But Melbourne (and the moving van) beckons, so a post (or two) will have to do.   


No doubt I have made serious, egregious omissions - please share your favorite haunts.   


Let's blow the lid off Australia's best kept secret!


p.s. The reason we're moving is that my lovely spouse has taken a new job in his home town, Melbourne.  More than a few girlfriends pointed out that it might be easier to replace the man than our home, but I decided to keep him.  xo

The Adelaide Hills
My heart aches at the thought of leaving The Hills.  The plains has its attractions, but in truth I can't understand being in Adelaide and wanting to live anywhere else.  (I'm leaving, so I can say these things.) 


Think winding, tree canopied roads (verdant in Spring and a riot of reds, yellows and purples in Autumn), lush meandering English gardens, ceaseless birdsong, and, the ultimate luxury, space.  


Here are just a few of my favorite spots - some good for visitors, some best suited to locals - in our beloved  Adelaide Hills.

Mathilda Bookshop 
Owners Jo & Gavin have created a brilliant local bookshop that not only sells a beautifully curated selection, including latest releases and timeless classics with a heavy emphasis on cooking and gardening sections (reflecting local pursuits), but puts on a stellar series of book-readings with notable authors.  Many of these include tasting held at the Stirling Hotel, with luminaries such as Bill Granger, Luke Nguyen & Adriano Zumbo, and Maggie Beer.  Get on the newsletter mailing list so you don't miss out.  Their presence on Main Street continues just across the road with the delightful Three Birds, a homewares and gift shop with a difference.  Again, Jo's unfailing sense of taste is on display with a store full of beautifully made and presented selections, for people big and small, that you're unlikely to find elsewhere in Adelaide.   If this is what a monopoly looks like, bring it on!

Organic Market And Cafe 
First, the cafe.  The soups are sublime (and not a Nazi in sight - just plenty of hippies).  The bakewell slice tastes like Christmas.  The scones with jam and cream are so beautifully wholesome that you'd swear this kind of treat can only do you good.  The iced tea is a magical elixir, and the rye sourdough toast served with unsalted butter and Hank's jam is the best ever.  The market side of the equation is tiny and there isn't much (if any) choice, but it's the very best of everything. That's all I ask for, really.

Stirling Cellars & Patisserie 
Located behind the Stirling Hotel and adjacent to Foodland, this little corner of Stirling is the ultimate one-stop-shop.  The Patisserie's glass and marble pastry case is filled with delicacies from local baker Chris Broadfoot, of Woodbake fame: crusty loaves, simple filled baguettes (try the Thai chicken or Ham and Cheese - perfection), cocktail-sized lemon tarts, mushroom fromage ("quiche" doesn't do it justice), and salted caramel chocolates - what more could a girl need?  Oh, yes - a coffee.  They make the best (and no longer blink when I ask for a latte with three shots).  The decor and presentation live up to the food.  All pitch perfect, with everything you need for the ultimate picnic hamper, and you can grab a bottle of bubbles to boot.  Heaven.


Bird In Hand Sparkling Pinot 
This entry is included as a product, rather than a destination.  I have never visited the winery but, if volume is anything to go by, I am an authority on what's known in our house as "the local drop."  Light pink, bubbly, a bit sweet - it goes down like cordial.  Nectar of the Gods and, for me, the taste of an era.  



Shaw & Smith 
For my money, this the best Australian sauvignon blanc going - everything else is 'also ran'.  The cellar door does an elegant tasting accompanied by a perfectly portioned sampling of local cheeses.  The settling is sublime.  If they were to open a restaurant, my happiness would be absolute.   



Three things I despair of ever replacing: our garden, our GP, and our butcher.  If you do not live in the Hills, it is worth the petrol to come and shop here; if you do, I can't imagine why you'd shop anywhere else.  Seriously.  Kane Illsley, proprietor, farmer and 4th generation butcher, is old school.  Don't expect to pay for your ribs and run without a friendly, "So, what are you gonna do with it?"  I always provide an essay-length answer.  It's a wonder he still asks. The pork, beef, lamb and poultry are all free-range and, judging by their size, products of the jurrasic period.  A word of advice: ignore recipe quantities and simply tell him how many people you're planning to feed.  One of his super-chickens equals three undernourished pygmies from Coles.   And, as if further reason to visit were needed, he sells the best fish in Adelaide: Salty's, provided by my good friend Steve Manteville, who is as passionate about his product as Kane is about his.  Once I learned that the "Wicked Wild Salmon" came from Steve, the circle was complete - I now had everything I needed in the Hills and would never have to leave again.  So much for that plan!

Maggie Beer 
Without doubt, Maggie Beer is South Australia's greatest ambassador, culinary and otherwise.  A trip to the stunning Barossa Valley would be incomplete without a visit to Maggie's Farm Shop in Nuriootpa, where you can chose from a variety of picnic baskets featuring Maggie's signature pates and small goods, a glass of wine and finish it all off with with a cup of ice cream (I'd drive the 1.5 hours just for a taste of her Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel).  If you're an early riser with a prodigious appetite, you could time it to hit the Barossa Farmer's Market for breakfast, followed by a stroll down historic Angaston's main street, a play on the retired Trolley Car at the Nuriootpa's Trolley Reserve, and be at Maggie's for lunch.  My kind of day.




The Adelaide Hills is a cheese lover's paradise and no cheese course could be complete without Edith.  A French style goats cheese, Edith is creamy and mild, with an intriguing tang.  If you're iffy about goat's cheese, try this - it's a game changer.  If you're in Woodside visiting the Cellar Door, the Woodside Providore is worth a look in for some exciting, hearty fare including a memorable rabbit and prune pie - yum!  Bribe the children with the promise of a takeaway milkshake or smiley face biscuit, leaving you free to peruse The Antique Garden. The proprietor is kooky but kind, and her taste is exceptional - we've haven't left empty handed yet!  A great way to cap off your drive home from the Barossa.

I don't know where I'll be in ten years time, but I do know that I will still be dreaming of Siemers Tandoori Lambchops, Garlic Naan Bread and Prawn & Basil Curry.  Tucked inside a stone villa next to Aptos Cruz Galleries (housed in an old church, filled with a contemporary art and a stunning selection of furniture, lighting, and design books), you could whiz right past if you're not careful.  The interior is a bit faded, but in a charming way, like grand dame down to her last, well-worn peacock feather.  In colder months, request a table by the fire; in summer, enjoy the tiny back garden terrace.  And don't forget to order extra mint sauce - you'll thank me.

Beerenberg Farm 
How it is that the clever people at Beerenberg Farm get us to pay for the privilege of an experience usually reserved for migrant workers is a mystery, but we do - happily and annually.   'Pick Your Own Strawberries' has become a 'don't miss' experience on our calendar, and the jam we (sometimes) produce following our visits pays dividends for months to come.  Warm strawberries, fresh off the vine, taste like sunshine - not that any of mine have met the mouth before the scale (cough, cough).  It's also a great excuse to visit Hahndorf, where a stop at Udder Delights Cheese Cellar Door is a must.  How do you know if you're a yuppie?  Open your refrigerator; if you find goats cheese, you're a yuppie.  If so, brand me with a capital Y, 'cause you'll never open mine without spying a jar of Udder Delights Marinated Chevre.  Just like bacon, it makes everything better.  Dot in on pizzas, crumble it through salads, smear it on crisp bread and top with slices of ripe tomato.  Best of all, save the oil it comes packed it - it's liquid gold and makes best salad dressing base imaginable.  Build your own picnic basket with delicacies from the shop store to enjoy on the verandah, or grab a map and embark on the Adelaide Hills Cheese & Wine Trailsweet reward for your toil in the sun.  


p.s. Apologies for the lack of photos erratic formatting. Blogger is driving me mad - I sense another kind of address change on the horizon.

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Moving Sale!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dear Friends,

Our move to Melbourne is imminent and we are downsizing!

Consequently, the following can be found on ebay:


 For the dining table and chairs, click here.



If you fancy the black leather 3-seater, armchair and coffee table, click here.

Local pick ups only, please.

Happy Bidding!

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Ivy & Piper

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Thank you to Elizabeth and Melanie, the talented ladies behind online magazine Ivy & Piper, for featuring our home (see page 30).  Very exciting!

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Soup, For Whatever Ails You

Wednesday, February 15, 2012



We are in weakened state, with two boys down and a mother rapidly following suit.

This calls for Chicken Noodle Soup.

Like all great recipes, it's not so much original as it is reinterpreted.

Inspired by Jora, who was inspired by a friend, this has evolved to become my go-to sick-bed recipe.

The chicken is cooked in stock, rather than in water to make stock, resulting in a broth that is doubly rich and golden.

The lemon juice (just a squeeze) is the super-duper, not-to-be-overlooked secret ingredient that puts it over the top.


Double chicken flavour, with a hint of vitamin C.

Potent stuff.


I hope you and yours are well, but if not, make this and you soon will be.



Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole free-range chicken
1 litre chicken stock (I used Cambell's Low-Sodium in a carton - don't judge me)
3 carrots chopped (I like mine smallish)
3 celery stalks with leaves, chopped (ditto)
1 large or two small onions, chopped
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 handful of continental parsely, chopped fine
1 packet flat egg noodles (optional)

Put the chicken in a large pot and add the stock.  If the liquid doesn't quite cover the bird, top it up with water from the kettle.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered.  Cook gently for 40-ish minutes (I like my chicken slow-cooked and tender, but be careful: if you let it go too long it will become stringy and mealy.  Yuck).  Remove the chicken from the pot to a platter.

Melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan, add the carrots, celery and onion and saute without browning, until the onion is translucent and the carrot and celery begin to soften.  Add to the broth and simmer away.

Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken and pull the meat apart into bite-sized strips.  (I set the white meat aside to be used in sandwiches and salads, returning only the darker meat to the pot).

Now, for the noodles: I cook mine in a wire basket submerged in the pot of broth and vegetables - this way, the noodles get great flavor and I can lift them out of the pot in one motion, store them in a separate container and add as needed, without worrying about them getting mushy, or leave them out entirely, as individual tastes demand.

Return the meat to the pot, add the all-import squeeze of lemon, and tip in the parsley.

Put noodles in bowls, ladle hot soup over noodles, and watch it disappear.


Image via Seabold Vintage Market - I love everything in this shop.

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For Beginners

Monday, January 9, 2012


Friends, a belated Happy New Year!

Did you make any resolutions?

Big ones?

To those of us who are embarking on the new, the ambitious, the scary, a timely reminder from Ira.

I love Ira.

When I heard that he once dated Linda Barry, I loved him even more (even if she did call him her worst boyfriend ever).

So here it is: Ira's advice to beginners.

Good luck to us all!





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Dude Food, or How To BBQ Without A Barbecue?

Monday, January 2, 2012


Eight hours' sleep and several hastily discarded resolutions later, the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches that rang in our New Year made an encore appearance at the breakfast table.

I am a weak, weak woman, easily undone by soft white rolls, tender meat and the sweet tang of simmering sauce. 

Dude food may be the flavor of the month (see Matt Preston on this trend), but for me, this little piggie is all about nostalgia. 

Lately, I've had a taste for a bit of barbecue - specifically, Rocklands BBQ & Grilling Company, a staple of my twelve years spent south of the Mason-Dixon line. 

Their signature sauce, poured hot over a beef brisket sandwich and a side of roughly mashed potatoes, sustained me on many a night (and morning after).  My carnivorous madeleine.  Sigh.

But what is a girl without a Webber, let alone a hickory-fed smoker, to do?

Improvise, with North Carolina-style Pulled-Pork Barbecue done in the oven (see the Cook's Note at the of the recipe, and my notes below). 

That's right - the oven.

Apartment dwellers and suburban rebels alike, heed my call:  you do not need a barbecue to make great barbecue. 

Never mind digging a pit for a whole pig or firing up the barbie - just whack what you need in a roasting pan, cover with brine and parchment, seal with foil, and away you go.  With a lot of time (largely unattended) and a little basting, the pork, cooking in a cider vinegar and it's own fat, will be falling off the bone and ready to be pulled into bite sized pieces.  Too easy.

For the all-important sauce, I played a bit of regional hop-scotch and jumped over to Kansas City, where they like it thicker and sweeter (the North Carolina version is bit thin and vinegary for my liking) and some simple, tasty coleslaw. 

One non-negotiable that both regions can agree on: soft white rolls.  This is not the time for anything vaguely 'organic', 'granary', or 'artisan'.  Think Bubba, not Buhdda. 

So, visit your butcher, mix up some brine, fire the oven, put your friends on notice and the beer on ice.  


It's barbecue time.

Note: although the Cook's Note indicates that oven roasting will take between 5-6 hours, depending upon the size of your pork shoulder, mine (3.5 kgs/7.5lbs) took the full nine hours - five in the oven at 180C, followed by four hours at 100C.  I also dispensed with the "remove the skin and roast on a tray, while you brown the meat" step - I didn't see the need.  Not that I don't love pork crackling, I do, but I didn't want to risk drying out the meat with the browning step, nor did I see the need - pulled pork is more about moist, succulent meat, not browned edges.  Otherwise, I followed the all the recipes (North Carolina pulled-pork,sauce and coleslaw) to a tee (though I did use a mix of green and purple cabbage for the slaw - a girl's gotta have a bit of color!).
 

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