Saturday, 23 June 2018

Minestrone Veloce from Gennaro's Fast Cook Italian

Hello old friend. I’m sitting here writing this surrounded by boxes and bags waiting for pizza to arrive. We’re moving on Monday you see. Across the road. Yep. All we need to do is walk our belongings out the front door, around the corner and across the road… it’s about 100 metres away. You’d think that would make moving a whole lot easier but I don’t think it will as we are determined to do it all ourselves. We = husband and I. I’ve been packing this week while Tris is away for work and eating my way through the freezer. I’ve found all sorts. Smokey mexican beans, pork and fennel bolognese, peas, edamame, pumpkin soup, two types of dumplings, lots of crusty bread, veggie fried rice and even two portions of minestrone soup that had a dollop of pesto on top and everything. Oh how I loved my past self this week.

Minestrone Veloce | Gennaro's Fast Cook Italian | salt sugar and i

The kitchen was the first thing we started packing and I finished off. I don’t know if that was a good idea but I guess picking the most challenging room first was better than leaving it last and now that it’s completely done, the rest feels like it’ll be a sinch. Only thing is, we still have two nights and I’ve packed everything except two bowls, one plate and a couple of utensils, hence the takeaway tonight.

When I tell people we’re moving the first thing they ask is how’s Arthur coping? Well, he seems to be loving the empty kitchen cupboards and won’t get out once he’s managed to pry a door open. He is also enjoying the boxes and playing real life tetris with me, jumping in them when I’ve half filled them. The whole packing thing has made me a little nostalgic this week. A lot has happened in this tiny shoebox of an apartment and a lot of meals have been cooked in blue the kitchen. Oh blue bench, you have been great, really you have. We’ve chopped, stirred, ate, mixed and spilt many a meal on you. You’ve  challenged me to hide you in photos but still, you sneak through the corners and your not so subtle blue tinge has allowed me to experience every free filter available in hopes of hiding said tinge but best of all, your shallow girth has always been generous and allowed our floor to be fed too. You are a sharing soul and you’ve been a treat. I am not sad to see us go but in a way, I am. May the new cooks love you and create meals to share as much as we have over the last four and a half years. Goodbye and good riddance.

Minestrone Veloce | Gennaro's Fast Cook Italian | salt sugar and i

But I guess before we say goodbye completely I should share the last meal I cooked (reheated). It’s a recipe from Gennaro Contaldo’s new Cookbook, Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian which I’ve been meaning to share since I first made it as it’s one of the best soups I think I’ve made. Yeh yeh everyone claims to have the best recipe for you. It’s a keeper ok, trust me. I think it’s the dollop of pesto on top because in my view, pesto makes everything better. Minestrone Veloce - Quick Minestrone Soup. It does actually come together pretty quick which surprised me because the ingredients list looks massive for a ‘quick cook’ recipe but I guess I think of quick cooking with fewer ingredients. So don’t fob it off as a long recipe even though the ingredient list looks long. I also struggled to find fennel so used broccoli instead. I know, I know, completely different flavour profiles but I wasn’t going to get my knickers in a knot at the supermarket to find fennel. Broccoli worked really well, it was delicious. I added more pasta than the recipe asks but doesn’t everyone? Oh and the pesto I made, was a parsley based pesto, no basil at the shops either so I improvised and added a stack of parsley. It was also delicious.

The addition of pesto makes the soup taste fresh and not frumpy how some minestrones can end up, and even though I say it tastes fresh, it makes a really good belly warming dinner on a cold winter night with some crusty bread smothered in salty butter. Carbs on Carbs - yyyyyeeeeessssss!

Anyway - takeaway is here so that’s it for me for tonight. What to cook in the new kitchen?? Oooo and there is a dishwasher - hallelujah!!

Minestrone Veloce - Quick Minestrone Soup

Recipe from Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian by Gennaro Contaldo

Cooking time: 35 minutes (not including veg prep)
Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped*
1 zucchini, cut into small chunks
1 large potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
280g savoy cabbage, shredded
6 cherry tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil leaves*
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 x 400g can borlotti beans, drained
50g frozen peas
75g small pasta shells (pastina)*
Sea salt & ground black pepper
Grated parmesan, to serve
Pesto sauce (see recipe below), to serve (optional)

* As mentioned above, I used broccoli instead of fennel, parsley instead of basil and doubled the amount of pasta.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan set over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and sweat for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots, fennel (or broccoli - stalks only), zucchini, potato, cabbage, tomatoes and basil (or parsley), and mix well. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you are making the pesto (recipe below), get on with this now.

Add the borlotti beans, peas, (broccoli florets, if using) and pasta and continue to cook for about 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is cooked (check cooking times on packet).

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with grated parmesan and a dollop of pesto, if desired.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Coca (Savoury Flatbreads) from Barcelona Cult Recipes

Coca, Savoury Flatbread from Barcelona Cult Recipes by Stephan Mitsch | salt sugar and i

The other week I had some friends over on a friday night and went a little crazy at the fancy grocery store near work buying cheeses and antipasto goodies. I over catered for three but I always seem to over cater when it comes to snacks. I’d rather have too much than not enough, I have nightmares of people leaving hungry.

What do you do with leftovers bits and pieces of an antipasto? sure, you can just eat them as is - delicious! But where’s the adventure in that?

I have also recently been sent a copy of Barcelona Cult Recipes by Stephan Mitsch and as much as I wish I could tell you a story of a time I went to Barcelona and fell in love with a dish and have now recreated it, I can’t. I’ve never been to Barcelona but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate their foods from afar which is what this book really does. The tapas in this book look incredible; croquettes with chorizo, meatballs with peas, pickled anchovies, stuffed potato balls, artichoke chips and stuffed piquillo peppers to name a few. There are definitely a couple recipes which sound a little adventurous for me...baked snails and mushroom stuffed pig’s trotter but the recipe that really caught my eye was the Coca, savoury flatbreads. They use up the leftover bits and pieces (perfect!) and are covered in garlicky herbed olive oil... um, yum.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Camping + One Pan Chicken Laksa


I spoke too soon about feeling the shift, instead Mr-Weather-Man has only confirmed my theory that Sydney gets two seasons. And Summer seems to be lasting forever. I am ready for the cooler nights, ugg boots, track pants, socks and doonas. I've had my last sunburn for the season and I’ve had enough of every time I wash up, sweating like I’ve run a marathon.

Although it was beautiful weather for the Easter long weekend just past, but in saying that, waking up in a hot tent with sunburnt, sandy legs... mmm I think I prefer winter camping where snuggling is mandatory to keep toes warm.

Over the long weekend we camped for two nights, the first on Redhead Beach near Newcastle and the second in Olney State Forest. When we first got to Redhead beach on the Friday it was windy but the water was perfect for a swim, small waves and not too cold and the sun was out in full force, my rash vest (to Tris’ horror) even made an appearance. Setting up our tent was a slight nightmare but after we moved the car as a windbreaker it got easier, however our toilet tent on the spent the entire time folded in on itself making it very difficult to use but better then every other camper seeing my bare bum.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Anna Jones's one-pan pea, lemon & asparagus pasta.


Lets be honest, we don't really get four seasons in Sydney, we get two and a few days of odd change in between. For the past couple of days I've felt the cool change, the shift into Autumn, and I love it. It's cooler at night (Thankgawwd!!) and the days haven't been stifling hot. I've happily (against my waistline) craved more comfort foods, slept with the donna on and even considered turning the oven on to bake rather than avoiding it like the plague. I know this won't last, there are some hot days on the forecast but I am enjoying the shift while it's here and also enjoying the last of summers produce before tomatoes lose their taste and stoned fruit feels like a dream.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sourdough Bialys from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.

Meet Babbs.

She’s my sourdough starter and yes, I’ve named her. It’s what you do.

Sourdough Starter | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

Sourdough Starter | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

She’s just over a year old and I’ve killed her at least once. Thank goodness she survived her dried cryovaced state and I could resuscitate her.

She’s had a baby or two or three… not sure if her babies are still alive but she is and going stronger than ever before. I’ve found out what food she likes, half good ol’ plain flour and half organic stoneground wholemeal. You see, she’s just a little bit fancy.

Friday, 9 February 2018

January, perspective + Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.

Blogs are a funny one. You share a part of your life but not all of your life because who wants to read about the crappy stuff. It’s the same with social media, who wants to see a filtered photo of a too cold, sad sandwich (yes sandwiches can be sad) balancing on your knee in a hospital room? The answer is no one. But life does have it’s crappy moments and January, boy oh boy did you have yours. Everything’s different now, for not so great reasons and also, for the best.

We knew it was coming, it just snuck up on us all a little quicker than expected. About two weeks ago we moved my dad into a nursing home to live. He has alzheimer's. He was diagnosed 5 years ago, just before his 63rd birthday. He was too young then and still is. It’s shit. It’s not fair. But it is life I guess. 

I know how lucky I am for everything and everyone I have and I could have kept this to myself and there are things I have kept to myself over the years. It is just part of life now and if I didn’t share it I’d feel weird going on and on about, what sometimes feels like nonsense here, when really some days are just plain shitty. I do also feel weird sharing it but I think it’s good to see both the good and crappy. It’s real. It’s life. And I don't think it's talked about enough.

But in saying that, I scrolled through the photos on my phone last night and it made me realise you’d never have known the year didn’t have the most joyest of beginnings. We just don't take photos of the ok days, it’s the good ones which you find yourself blurting ‘SMILE!’ out at someone and also grinning like an idiot in hopes the other person smiles too. Yes, some days were sadder than others but not every day was bad. January also included a mini-break to Cottesloe in WA for a cousin-in-laws (is that a thing?) wedding where we met up with family who we don’t see nearly enough and I rode a bicycle. Now this may not sound like a big thing for the average joe but I’m so so bad on a bike and it was my idea to hire them. As soon as I said it and everyone agreed I instantly thought, oh crap what have I done!? But I’m getting better and it was so worth the sore bum and all the weird squarks I made trying not to ride into people and parked cars. The views and beaches along the costal bike track are beautiful but pretty sure the cold beer and chicken parama at the end helped too. Oh and there are so many dogs along the way!! I couldn’t appreciate them as much as the others or I’d have fallen off and face planted the path but why doesn’t Sydney have more dog beaches? They should.


Saturday, 30 December 2017

2017 and Gin Pickled Cucumbers.

2017. You had some epic highs and some tough spots. Thank you and good riddance.

I turned 29 just over a week ago. I’m now officially into my last year of my 20’s and in my 30th year of hanging around this world. My birthday is a bit of a non event and I enjoy other people’s birthdays much more. But, I have these lovely, beautiful and pesky friends that organise things for me each year and spoil me so I can’t skip it. I end up having the best time and realise birthdays aren't so terrible in the end. This is a message for future me.

Also, does anyone know where December went??? It came, and is nearly done and I’m still not sure how it all happened. It has flown. I normally bake my little feet off and gift cookies and toffee but this year it seemed hard enough to get a batch of mince pies baked, let alone cookies. I’m still not sure what went wrong except that it has been the most unorganised Christmas/December ever. We didn’t even have a tree up or lights... go on say it. Grinch! Grinchy Grinch Grinch! Yep I am. Instead of baking for people, I made gin pickled cucumbers from The Modern Preserver cookbook that I borrowed from the library. I’m sharing this recipe with you all because I wasn’t organised enough to gift everyone some and they are freaking amazing so you should make them yourself but also for me, to note the recipe down so I can make them again and again. They are sharp, pickley, spicy, zingy and go so so great with cold smoked salmon. If you love pickled things, you will LOVE these.


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Summer Panzanella, the only salad recipe you need this summer from Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat | #GIVEAWAY

Welcome summer, you stinker you!!

I don’t know about the oven in your kitchen but when it’s a stinker like it has been for the past few days the last thing I want to do it turn my oven on. In winter we turn it on and use it as a heater, why on earth would we want that in summer?! Ok, I can think of two reasons. One, you promised mince pies to the office (totally regretting this one) and two, you get sent a lovely new cookbook. Tuesday was one of those days where both exceptions happened. And now we have a new rule in our home; I'm not allowed to turn the oven on throughout summer.

Ok so what recipe and book called for the oven to be turned on on a 30C+ day? First, the recipe, torn croutons of course. Yes dear readers, torn croutons. And I’m going to say you should do the same and get that oven cranking. It was totally worth it. No I didn’t just eat torn croutons, although they were delicious to snack on, they were for a Summer Panzanella Salad. This time of year, when it’s hot and you don’t want to eat steamy foods is the perfect time of year for this salad. The tomatoes make up a big portion and are beautiful and fragrant and just taste like summer right now but you also get the combination of dressing soaked croutons and the crunch from the croutons you add last minute. It’s a salad with the best kind of carbs and it’s delicious.