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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Winter Fare...

As Autumn slips into Winter I've been busy in the kitchen cooking all my favourite comfort foods. Earlier in the week I made my first apple pie of the season this time using an Australian Women's Weekly recipe. I wasn't all that happy with the pastry (it only had 1 tablespoon of sugar in it so was more savoury than sweet) but we all agreed that the filling was our best one yet. The recipe called for 10 apples (I used a mixture of Granny Smiths which hold their shape so beautifully and Pink Ladies which cook to a silky smooth mush) which I flavoured with sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and ground cloves.

I was also lucky enough to be given some lovely organic beetroot by a friend at work. I thought about making Sophie Dahl's Borscht but then I remembered Jane Clark's Beetroot and Sweet Potato Soup which is always such a hit with the kids. Unlike the more traditional earthy beetroot soup, the addition of sweet potato gives this soup a wonderful sweetness and the colour is just amazing.

Breakfasts have also undergone a bit of a makeover with porridge back on the menu. We've been experimenting with different toppings (honey, cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit compote) but I'm dying to try this Carrot Cake Oatmeal perhaps with a Rhubarb Smoothie.

What's cooking at your house?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The good old newspaper...

Photo by [emb] on Flickr

I may be one of a dying breed but I still read the newspaper everyday. Here's a few things I've learnt from my reading this week...

  • It's not my imagination. According to the a Melbourne University arborist the autumn leaves in Melbourne this year do have a deeper and richer hue. Apparently lots of rain followed by a fairly extreme cold snap has increased the sugar generated by many species. More sugar = richer pigments in the cells - who knew?

  • I came across the word 'procrastibaking'. What a fantastic word, I can't believe that such a word has only just come into being! I procrastibake all the time! It was given as an example of an appropriate evolution of the English language as compared to the many new text-speak abbreviations such as LOL, u and da.

  • I learnt all about Wovenspoke fabric designer Amy Carr Bottomley's stylish scarves and wristbands made for cyclists using retro-reflective thread. Now you can be chic AND stay safe.

  • I learnt that star anise is reputedly good for people with asthma and bronchitis so Henry and I have been drinking a delicious concoction made by steeping a star anise in boiling water for 10 mins then adding the juice of half a lemon and a heaped teaspoon of organic honey. Could be my imagination but I started the week with a cold and sore throat but after drinking many of these drinks I'm already starting to feel much better.

EDIT:: After a little more sleuthing I found that star anise is the main source of shikimic acid one of the main ingredients in the flu vacination, Tamiflu. This led to a worldwide shortage of the spice in 2005 and again during the swine flu epidemic in 2009!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The week that was...

Best photo under trying circumstances!

What a crazy week we've had! The weather has swung from the 26 degree days we've been enjoying recently to single figure nights and early mornings so we have had to quickly re-jig wardrobes and sleeping arrangements. Henry and I spent two sleepless nights (felt like two weeks) in hospital after he had another severe asthma attack. Tom spent the week in agony with a toothache before finally giving in and heading to the Dental Hospital and poor Bella just hung in there not really knowing what to expect next. This morning, however, I had a lovely early morning phone call to say that I'm an aunty again so although it's dark and blustery outside I'm feeling very sunny on the inside!

All these goings on have meant not much time for cooking so once the immediate crises passed I headed for the kitchen and whipped up several batches of soup and my favourtite, comforting winter casserole. Perfect for those convalenscing from unexpected hospital visits. If you're feeling a little under the weather you might like to make some too...

Beef Casserole with Gremolata

1 kg chuck steak, diced
2 onions, cut into eighths
2 cloves garlic
3-4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
3 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 springs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, leaves only
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 strips orange rind


zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 160C.

2. Dust beef in seasoned flour and brown (in batches) in a large frying pan over a medium heat.

3. Remove beef to a plate and add a little more oil. Brown onions, garlic and carrot until onions are translucent and carrots have some clour.

4. Return beef to pan then add tomato paste and cook for a few minutes before adding stock and herbs. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes before transferring to an oven-proof casserole dish.

5. Place dish in oven and bake for 3 hours (give or take a bit). You'll know it's ready when the meat just falls apart and the kitchen is filled a wonderful meaty, herby goodness (sorry vegetarians!).

6. Just before serving make the gremolata by mixing all ingredients together. Sprinkle a little on each serve for a little extra zing.

I usually serve this with polenta or mashed potatoes (sometimes some greens) but a buttered wodge of sourdough wouldn't be a bad companion either.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Image via

I hope you all had a lovely time watching the royal wedding (or successfully dodging it that's more your thing). After such a terrible start to the year for so many people globally it was nice to see so many people gathered (safely) in joyful celebration rather than in protest, revolt, panic or despair. I'm no monarchist but they do put on a good show don't they and I do like traditions such as leaving the bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Here's a few other things that caught my eye this week...

  • This remarkable Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibition in San Francisco. Belgian artist de Borchgrave uses historical costumes from great European paintings and museum collection as inspiration for creating amazing three-dimensional responses in paper. Hard to explain but click on the link above and check out the photostream and video - well worth as look.

  • This short but sweet post about fashion designer Jean Patou on Colette Patterns, which also features some great retro-inspired sewing patterns.

  • These mouth-watering cake recipes posted by the Malthouse Theatre to coincide with their production of Porn.Cake

    Hope you're enjoying your Sunday. Masterchef starts again tonight so you know where I'll be...