Sunday, 16 June 2019

Pasta all' Amatriciana with Conflict Tomatoes from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music.

Pasta all' Amatriciana with Conflict Tomatoes from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

Pasta all' Amatriciana with Conflict Tomatoes from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

Did you ever play that trust falling game when you were younger? Close your eyes and fall backwards in the hope that your friend catches you. Well, I made this pasta dish the other day and it reminded me of that game. I didn't fall backwards int the kitchen and land in pasta, no, but it did go against everything I've ever done before. I trusted and it worked and it was one of the best homemade tomato spicy pasta dinners I've made.

The recipe, Pasta all' Amatriciana with Confit Tomatoes is from a cookbook called Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music (thank you!). The book itself is split into two sections, technique and recipes that use the techniques you've learnt in the first half of the book. Some of the techniques I am not so confident in such as confit and she simplifies and breaks them down into easy-to-do steps. She then gives you a whole bunch of ideas to use that technique. Such as with confit, she gives you a dozen things that you can confit and shows you step by step how to do it. Garlic cloves, carrots, chicken thighs, potatoes, leeks, lemons, parsnips, tinned tomatoes, salmon, turkey legs, tuna steaks and butternut squash. Other techniques she guides you through are, saute, pan-roast, steam, boil and simmer, slow roast and pastry dough. Each of them then has their own dozen of examples. It's definitely going to become one of my go-to reference guides and that's before even getting to the recipes.

Pasta all' Amatriciana with Conflict Tomatoes from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

What I love about this book is that Carla holds your hand through not only the techniques but also the recipes, and if you trust her, it works and you will have the most delicious dinner you won't want to stop eating (unless you put too much chilli in it or are a pansy with chilli, like me). She is also like that on her youtube videos for Bon Appetite magazine, which I am obsessed with! Just remember... trust.

Now for the Pasta all' Amatriciana with Confit Tomatoes, first you confit your tomatoes (see below) or you can use whole tinned tomatoes instead. You want your chunky cut pancetta sautéd until it's crispy and most of the fat has rendered down. You then cook off the onions in the rendered fat with some added extra virgin olive oil or oil from your confit tomatoes until soft and sweet, then add the chilli (and garlic if you can't help yourself like I couldn't), then goes the tomatoes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta but cook it 2-3 minutes less than what it says. Save your cooking water! The pasta goes into the sauce along with some cooking water. I used about one cup in total. I know. You're thinking, what!? watery sauce, yuk. Trust her. Trust me.

You keep tossing or stirring, yep, keep on going until the pasta is cooked through/al dente and the sauce has turned silky and coats all the little curves of your pasta. It will look a bit watery and you'll think you've stuffed it up but just keep tossing/stirring that pasta into the sauce. The pasta will soak it all up and you'll be left with perfectly cooked pasta, a silky sauce that is almost creamy it coats the pasta so well and is zingy, spicy and salty with the little nuggets of pancetta throughout.

Serve it piping hot with plenty of parmesan cheese and cracked pepper, a perfect dinner for this cold wet Sunday.

Pasta all' Amatriciana with Conflict Tomatoes from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

Pasta all' Amatriciana with Conflict Tomatoes

recipe from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music
serves 4

kosher salt
2 ounces (115g) pancetta (uncut)
2 tablespoons confit tomato oil (from confit tomatoes) or 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, quartered, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
8 confit tomatoes (see below), or 8 whole peeled tomatoes from a 28-ounce (750g) can
1 teaspoon crush red pepper, plus more for serving
1 pound (450g) long fusilli (fusilli lunghi)
Grated Parmigiano, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.

Cut pancetta into 1x 1/2 inch pieces and put in a Dutch oven, then place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until about half the fat has rendered and edges are starting to turn golden brown and pieces are equal parts crisp and chewy, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a small plate and set aside. Reserve pot with drippings.

Add confit oil to pot, increase heat to medium, then stir in onion and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until onion is translucent and floppy, 6 to 8 minutes. Don't rush this step; it's essential for unlocking the onion's sweetness. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until onion is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer.'

Meanwhile, tear tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

Add tomatoes and crushed red pepper to pot and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes give up their juices and start to lightly caramelize. Stir pancetta back into sauce along with any accumulated juices, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and cover pot until pasta is ready.

Add pasta to boiling water and set a timer for 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions (it should be very al dente and will finish cooking in the sauce). Use tongs or a spider to transfer pasta directly to pot of sauce along with about 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook over medium-high, stirring and tossing constantly with tongs and adding 1/4 cupfuls of pasta water as needed until pasta is al dente and coated in a glossy, luscious sauce, about 2 minutes.

Serve topped with Parmigiano and more crushed red pepper, if you like.

Confit Tomatoes

recipe (adapted) from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music

When you submerge an ingredient in liquified fat, ideally it's own, and cook it slowly and thoroughly in a low oven - that's confit. Once cooked, it can be cooled and then chilled under a blanket of fat for an extended period of time.

Canned tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Drain canned tomatoes and pre-heat oven to 300F/150C

2. Season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Use a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, or baking dish that almost isn't big enough to hold the canned tomatoes in a single layer. A little overlap is ok since the tomatoes will shrink as they cook. A too-big vessel will force you to use more olive oil, and olive oil ain't cheap!

4. Remove a few wide strips of zest from a lemon and twist them over the tomatoes to release a spritz of essential oil. Drop the zest into the pan and save the lemon for squeezing the juice over later.

5. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to just cover the ingredient. Don't use extremely expensive, robustly flavoured oil. A fairly mild, buttery and not-too-peppery type in the everyday category is better.

6. Cover the pan tightly with foil or a lid and transfer to the preheated oven.

7. Cook for 2 hours until tomatoes are tender all the way through when pierced with a cake tester/skewer.

8. Lift the tomatoes out of the cooking oil and season with a squeeze of lemon and more salt and pepper to serve. Store confit tomatoes in a clean container, submerged in strained cooking liquid (ass more olive oil if needed to cover).

Friday, 24 May 2019

Potato Tuturuga from Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford

Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford | salt sugar and i

A couple of weeks ago, amongst the cake madness (see previous post) I received a beautiful book in the mail. Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford. I had a brief flick through and thought wow, yum, um I need this now, ooo I think I had that in Bali, mmm noodles, but had to put it down to get back my cakes. It wasn't until last week I finally got the chance to have a real read and start cooking from it. And let me tell you, this book will make you hungry. It will make you hungry to source fresh turmeric and water spinach, and it will make you hungry to go and book a flight to Indonesia and not just sit on the beach of Nusa Dua drinking beer and eating Nasi Goreng every day, as delightful as that is.

The flavours and colours of the dishes in this book show waaaaayyy more variety of Indonesian foods than what we experienced. I have been completely oblivious of Indonesian cuisine before this year, and I'm embarrassed to say, the only Indonesian food I'd had was Mi Goreng from a packet, cooked in the microwave. Don't judge, I know you love the stuff too! Spicy and salty noodles, perfect street food/late night snack after too many drinks.

Potato Tuturuga from Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford | salt sugar and i

Potato Tuturuga from Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford | salt sugar and i

As much as I wanted to recreate the first meal Tris ever made me (true story!) and make a proper Mi Goreng recipe from this beautiful book it was the the Potato Tuturuga which caught my eye. It's essentially a potato curry and they are a huge hit in our home. If you like potatoes in your curry, then you'll fall in love with this one. I served it with a roast chicken like Ford suggests and goodness it was delicious. It's comforting and savoury from the coconut milk and mild spice paste but keeps its freshness from the fresh herbs and splash of lime juice at the end. Ford also suggests you can serve it with Fiery Sulawesi pork ribs which I want to give a try next time.

I apologise for my photo's, I think it's a hard one to make look pretty, gravy and potatoes. Well, curry and potatoes but still... you're just going to have to trust me (as usual) that it tastes a thousand time better than it looks in my photos. Because this really does.

It was surprisingly simple and didn't take hours to make which I think a curry that starts with a home made paste can often get a reputation for. I'm not saying this is a 15 minute meal with 5 ingredients but it'll come together while your chicken is roasting in the oven. You make a bumbu paste first, a spice base used in a lot Indonesian cooking, by wizzing fresh turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilli, shallots and a few almonds in the food processor, heat a frying pan big enough to fit all the potatoes in and fry off the bumbu paste until it's fragrant and making your kitchen smell utterly delicious. Wilt a couple of limes leaves in the pan, toss in the potatoes, a cup of coconut milk and top the rest up with water so the potatoes are covered. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. Finish with a squeeze of lime and shredded basil and mint. It spices up a roast chook in more ways than one!

Potato Tuturuga from Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford | salt sugar and i

Mind blown with this cookbook and Indonesian Cuisine. Oblivious no more and hungry for more.

Has a book ever blown your mind?

Potato tuturuga

Serves 2-4
Recipe from Fire Islands, Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford

Lime leaves, mint and lemon basil perfume this spicy, savoury curry. Tuturaga is made by the Minahasen people of North Sulawesi where the name means 'turtle' - the original meat cooked with potatoes in this red spice paste. Today chicken or beef is more typical, but I keep mine meat-free as I think potatoes cloaked in the spiced coconut milk are the best bit.

500g potatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon oil
2 lime leaves (I used kaffir lime leaves)
250ml coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
small bunch of lemon basil leaves, shredded (I used regular basil)
small bunch of mind leaves, shredded
juice of 1/2 lime

Bumbu spice paste
4 small red Asian shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 large red chillies, half seeded
2cm ginger, peeled
3cm turmeric, peeled, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
6 candlenuts or 10 blanched almonds

Start by making the bumbu spice paste. Roughly chop the fresh ingredients and grind to a paste in a food processor, adding a little water if needed to help it come together.

Cut the potatoes into 4-5 cam chunks.

Heat the oil in a pan that will be large enough to hold the potatoes later. Scrape in the bumbu and fry until fragrant and the rawness has gone. Add the lime leaves and wilt in the heat of the spices. Add the potatoes, coconut milk and salt and top up with just enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a slow boil and cook uncovered until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has reduced to a good consistency, about 20-30 minutes.

Leave to cool a little then stir through the lemon basil and mint. Taste for seasoning ans brighten the flavours with a zap of lime juice.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

LOVE and Carrot CAKE.

I have been a little MIA for the past month and the reason is because of love. Well, a wedding to be exact but a wedding really is just a big ball of love so, I have been MIA because of love. And cake. Lots of cake.

Cake has been all I've thought about for the past couple of months and now the love birds are husband and wifey, I'm not quite sure what to do to fill my nights after work. No more cake testing or tasting or making. I'll tell you what... it was very fun to be back in a kitchen. I know it was just my own kitchen but I was making cakes with almost a kilo of butter in them and 15 eggs. I think our apartment must have smelt amazing to the neighbours all month long.

I made three cakes. A carrot cake with cream cheese icing, a rich chocolate cake sandwiched with dark chocolate ganache and iced in chocolate buttercream, and a vanilla butter cake layered with vanilla buttercream and rhubarb and vanilla jam. All topped with beautiful blooms on the day.

My biggest relief was that they arrived totally unharmed. They survived the 2 hour car trip! Yay! I practically skipped them to the fridge when we arrived and unboxed the cake boxes from their extra sturdy car packaging which was a giant eski and moving tub and lots of beach towels to secure them in. These puppies did not budge! The party-ing could now happen, the cakes had made it and so had we. Bring on the wine and dancing and friends and the big potato and celebrations and love and open fires and bunting and just a really really beautiful weekend celebrating the special couple and love. All the love.

I was pretty proud of them all dressed up with their flower crowns on, looking dashing. I think all three were delicious and I think I think others did too... unless everyone was just being very nice or I'd had too much wine... it could also be a combo of both.

Anyway, thought I'd share the carrot cake recipes I used here. Sorry no pics on the inside of the cake... I'd had too much fun and wine at this point in the night to even think of taking a photo of the cut cake for my lovely reader. Selfish, I know. You'll just have to make it find our for your self.

Carrot Cake

makes one 20-cm round cake (using two 20-cm round cake tins)
Recipe adapted from What to Bake and How to Bake it by Jane Hornby.
*For the wedding cake pictured, I tripled the recipe and used two 30cm round cake tins.

100g walnuts
200ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
250g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g light brown soft sugar
1 orange
3 eggs
250g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (roughly 300g whole carrots)

Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Spread the nuts over a baking tray and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and toasty (you can normally smell this). Cool, then roughly chop. Toasting the nuts will give an extra depth of flavour to the cake but if you are in a hurry, just chop the nuts and use as is.

While you wait, get everything else ready. Grease two 20cm round cake tins with a little oil, then line with baking paper.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt together then sift into a large bowl. Add the sugar and work it in with your fingers until evenly blended. This helps break up any lumps of sugar you may have. Finely zest the orange into the bowl of the dry ingredients. Juice the orange into a small jug and save for later.

Crack your eggs into a large measuring jug with the oil and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Whisk together well.

Pour the oil mixture into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Add the nuts and then the carrots, and stir until evenly blended. If the batter seems stiff, add 1 tablespoon more orange juice. Divide the batter between prepared tins.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and have risen, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in tins on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn out of the tins and cool completely.

Make the cream cheese icing. Recipe below.

To assemble and ice the cakes: Your cakes need to be cool and not even the teensiest bit warm! Even stick them in the fridge for 15 minutes (no longer) before icing. You'll thank me.

Place one cake down on your serving plate or cake board and dollop enough icing on top so that it is about 1cm thick when spread all over. Don't worry if it falls down the sides right now. Then place the other cake on top, top side down, bum side up. Brush off any crumbs that are hanging on or around your work surface to stop them making your icing dirty. Using the remaining icing, cover the sides and top of the cake.

If you like, you can do a crumb coat, which is a thin coating to lock in any stray crumbs and then place your cake in the fridge for 15 minutes for the icing to semi set. Then a thicker coating of icing to cover the cake properly.

Decorate with some walnuts or flowers or how ever your wish!

Cream Cheese Icing

makes enough to ice one 20 to 25-cm round cake
recipe from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak
*For the wedding cake pictured, I doubled the recipe to cover a 30-cm round cake.

200g unsalted butter, softened
250g cream cheese (take out of the fridge about 15 minutes before using)
750g icing mixture/icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter until it is light and creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat well. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all butter and cream cheese are incorporated together. Gradually add in the icing mixture and beat on a low speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and beat for another 5 minutes.

The icing can be kept at room temperature for a couple of hours, otherwise store it in the fridge for up to one week. Before using, remove from the fridge and let soften for about 20 minutes, then whip again for about 4 to 5 minutes.

NOTE: Use a timer; the beating will take longer than you realise.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Turmeric & Carrot Soup from The Weeknight Cookbook by Justine Schofield

I got my ugg boots out of the cupboard this week and I've been wearing socks to bed. Autumn is finally here and I can't get enough of it. Cool nights, snuggles under the doona, kitty cuddles, the smell of a neighbours wood fire and best of all... the food. The chunky soups, the blended soups, the noodle soups, the stews, the curries, the slow cooker and alllll the pasta bakes. Self saucing baked chocolate puddings, vanilla rice pudding, jam topped college puddings and fruit crumbles. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin. The cooler months are all about the food and I'm feeling it. (I do realise I have probably jinxed this and it's hot while you are now reading it).

To kick off my week, I prepped lunch for the week and cooked lentils to utter smoosh, proper smoosh to the point I could probably have made mashed lentils, is mashed lentils a thing? I didn't chuck them, I froze them to add to a soup or hide in bolognese or to be chucked out when I do a freezer clean out. I ended up cooking another batch and didn't turn the later into smoosh. Lunch prep for the week done. Tick. Now on to dinner...

Monday night's are a bit of a non-event evening. You survived the first day of the week at work, you started head-strong by heading to F45 (or you thought about it at least, thats sometimes enough), it occasionally includes some lunch prep if Sunday disappeared on you, and you are just happy to be at home back in pyjamas again. Ah *sigh* we survived Monday. Oh and dinner needs to be tummy-filling satisfying, easy and somewhat healthy. You know, starting the week off on the right foot and all.

This particular Monday I had mail, I love mail when it's not from the electricity company telling you that your direct debit failed and you still owe them $400. This was good mail though, very good mail indeed. I came home to a lovely gift of Justine Schofield's new cookbook, The Weeknight Cookbook (thank you!). While overcooking my lentils in my uggs and having a good nosey through it, I'd found dinner instantly. Turmeric and Carrot soup. And holy-moley did it hit the spot.

The turmeric works so well with the carrots and cuts through the sweetness, it's then topped with chopped parsley and shaved parmesan giving the whole soup a delicious freshness but also cheesiness from the parmesan. It's not just any old carrot soup, it's a serious gem and genius of a recipe. You fry your onions in a little olive oil till soft, add the turmeric then carrots then stock (I used a cube) and cook for 25-30 minutes until the carrots are cooked and soft. Blitz with a stick blender, taste for seasoning and serve topped with parsley, shaved parmesan and some freshly cracked black pepper. A perfect Monday night dinner. I added a hefty chunk (or two) of sourdough smothered in salty butter on the side because soup without bread is a crime.

Now, come at me week, I am ready!

So trusty friends, what gets you through your Monday?

Carrot and Turmeric Soup

recipe by Justine Schofield from The Weeknight Cookbook
Serves 4

1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (optional)
1 brown onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric*
1kg carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm discs
1.8l chicken or vegetable stock or water
a small handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons shaved parmesan
salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften, then add the turmeric and stir to coat the onion.

Add the carrot to the pan and season with a small pinch of salt. Pour in the stock or water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 25-30 minutes until the carrot is soft. Blend with a hand-held blender until silky smooth.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley, parmesan and pepper and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

*If you can get your hands on fresh turmeric, one teaspoon, finely grated, will take your soup to the next level.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Pasta alla Norma from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

Pasta alla Norma from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi | salt sugar and i blog | Dani Elis

Last week I was stuck indoors with a virus that after going to the doctor I was told, had to run it's course and just to rest. I feel like I went slightly mad being stuck inside all day, waiting to feel better. Waiting to snap out of it.

Cooking dinner for myself helped. On Monday I felt so rotten I couldn't get off the couch so ordered Thai take away for one. Tuesday I escaped the house for dinner and had Chicken Curry at Kate's (sooo good!), Wednesday I made a one-pot mac and cheese from Hetty McKinnon's cookbook Family. That was the easiest and probably the tastiest mac and cheese I've ever made. It had sweet potato smooshed in it and I didn't have 100 pans to wash up after! I'll have to share the recipe for that when I make it again next time and can snap a photo or two. Thursday my fruit and veg box arrived which had a lovely eggplant in it just waiting for me to douse it in olive oil and add it to a pasta. Which I did and it was insanely good. Friday I made a vegetable curry of sorts... it was strange but it was comforting which was all I wanted.

But back to Thursday nights dinner.  Pasta alla Norma from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi. Umm YUM. I'm pretty sure I've posted about and eggplant pasta dinner on the blog before but this recipe is too good not to share and I can't stop thinking about it. There was no faffing with salting the eggplant and letting it sit or frying eggplant then taking it out of the pan to only put it back in later on. Instead, you roast the eggplant slices which are tossed in a generous glug (or three) of olive oil and sprinkled with salt. It looks like you've overcooked the eggplant and that it's gone crispy but trust Yotam, it will be perfection when you add it in later on. You then make a simple tomato sauce with canned tomatoes, garlic, a touch of sugar and herbs and once your eggplant is roasted and golden, and your sauce is reduced a little you toss it all through hot spaghetti with a splash of pasta water.

The eggplant slices break up into the sauce and go silky and moorish. They add a lovely roasted caramelised flavour to the sauce which is finished off with torn fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan. Oh my, I think I'm drooling as I type this. If you can be in love with a pasta sauce, this is it for me. I'm in love.

Just so happened an eggplant snuck into this weeks grocery shop... maybe this cheeky Pasta alla Norma will make an appearance this week too :)

Tell me lovely readers, have you even been in love with a recipe?

Pasta alla Norma

Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi from Simple.
Serves 4

3 eggplants (900g)
120ml olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-2 mild dried chillies (deseeded if you don't want the heat) - I used a pinch of dried flakes
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
5 large oregano sprigs (8g) - I used a teaspoon of dried oregano
1 tsp caster sugar
300g spaghetti
45g mature pecorino romano (or ricotta salata), shaved
20g basil leaves, torn
salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C fan.

Using a peeler and working from top to bottom of each aubergine, shave off long alternating strips of peel so that they look striped, like zebras. Cut widthways into 1cm thick slices and place in a bowl with 75ml of oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of paper. Mix well, then spread out on two large baking paper-lined trays. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan or pot and place on a medium high heat. Add the garlic and chillies and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden brown (but not burnt!). Add the tinned tomatoes, oregano, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grind of pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Remove the oregano sprigs and stir in the aubergine. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and once al dente, drain and retain some cooking water.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and mix well, adding two thirds of the pecorino and basil, add a few tablespoons of the cooking water if the sauce has become too thick.

Divide between four bowls, then top with the remaining pecorino and basil.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Lion's Head Meatballs from A Common Table by Cynthia Chen McTernan

Just Arthur and I here again. With my mountain of new books, of course, cookbooks. *Sigh* they are my happy place. For some, it's handbags and shoes, for me, it's cookbooks. I can't help it. I also went to a beautiful book launch the other week with a friend and there were three very talented authors there who I follow on instagram, read their blogs and listen to their podcasts (multiple times over) so it was ONLY polite to buy all three books (A Tree in the House by Annabelle Hickson, A Basket by the Door by Sophie Hansen and Tortellini at Midnight by Emiko Davies). I left with my arms full, a delicious biscuit in hand (Golden Syrup Biscuits from Sophie's book) and a buzz in my tummy. Such a lovely afternoon that finished with an indoor picnic on my couch and chats. Pretty darn perfect if you ask me. I think we were both on a high from prosecco (only a glass!), cake and books.

There are also a few books from other bloggers and chefs that I've bought this year... I know, I know, shhhhh. (New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, A Common Table by Cynthia Chen McTernan and Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger) Some were from Christmas & Birthday too, calm down (Strudel, noodles and Dumplings by Anja Dunk and Family by Hetty McKinnon). I am practically bouncing with all the recipes I want to cook, but most importantly, EAT. Not enough time in the day or enough mouths at home to feed. I can fix the later of those two.
I am sitting here hungry writing this... mmmmm.

Shanghainese Lion's Lead Meatballs from A Common Table | salt sugar and i | Dani Elis

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Bali 2019

Where have I been? What have I been up to? Well... I've been a little distant over February but also, we went to Nusa Dua, Bali last week! It was delicious, humid, fun, spicy, relaxing and well needed I think.

I ate Nasi Gorang almost everyday, drank Bali Hai beer on the beach, ate satay with the Bali Hai, read a book (The Edited Life by Anna Newton) on the beach on large beach bean bags, got lobstered because I didn't reapply (Kate where were you to remind me??), went to the Monkey Forest in Ubud and got hissed at by an angry monkey for trying to shoo it off our bag (they can open zips!!), tried Kopi Luwak (poo) coffee and mangosteen tea and found out that Indonesian food is quite spicy but I think my spice tolerance has gone up which is a good thing.

We swam in the (overly warm) resort pool a couple of times and the ocean everyday (it was much nicer/cooler), watched some hilarious 'photoshoots' happen on the beach (live entertainment at it's best!), took advantage of the omelette bar at breakfast each day, paid probably too much for trinkets as I'm no good at bartering, realised I am a sweat monster in humid weather, ate lots of mini bananas, watched a traditional Balinese show with dancers and an all male choir who sung to make the music, ate Gado Gado and Babi Guling and drank more Bali Hai.

We left on Balinese New Years Eve and got to see the Ogoh-Ogoh statues that each village in Bali make for the nights celebration. We also learnt about Nyepi, the 'day of silence' that follows, the entire island (Bali) shuts down. Our driver Agus, told us about the traditions that happen in the home and the preparation for the day of silence. No internet, phone reception, television signal or electricity for 24 hours. You aren't allowed to swim in the ocean or leave your home. It is a day for family.

After a sleepless red-eye flight we came home with two suitcases full of washing and a fluffy Arty to snuggle (aka somewhat forcefully hug).

Friday, 18 January 2019

Frozen Raspberries with Greek Yoghurt and Honey

Hello! How was everyones weekend/week? My weekend was lovely but this week has ended on a sad note for reasons I'm not going in to. Instead, I will tell you about my weekend that feels about 100 years ago but was in fact only 5 days ago.

On Saturday night I had a couple of the girls around for dinner and a movie, with air con - praise the air con! I was umm-ing and ahh-ing if I should cook because it was so damn hot and I had no inspiration. All I could think about was cold things. Knowing one of my lovely ladies was slightly shady from the night before, salad was out of the question and carbs were most definitely in. I was tossing up between trying a new Japanese dish I've wanted to give a go for a while and doing something I've made a few times already. After a quick group chat it was decided, Italian not Japanese. I made the Green Chicken Meatballs I've made before and served them with a rich tomato based pasta sauce and spaghetti. I feel I should have made a brighter more summery tomato sauce for the chicken balls but I over splashed the wine and used red wine instead of white because thats what I had on hand so I needed to cook it down more. White wine is now on my shopping list.

Frozen Raspberries with Greek Yoghurt and Honey | salt sugar and i

I was definitely not baking dessert with the heat which meant no cake or pie or crumble because that meant turning on the oven. Instead, I scoured Alison Roman's cookbook 'Dining In' for inspiration. I've owned her cookbook for a few months now but haven't made a thing from it. I seem to pick it up, oooo over all the recipes and then realise I'm missing an ingredient and the book goes back on the shelf. It's got some delicious looking recipes to share and make with friends, and it's definitely got a summery feel to it, no heavy wintery stews like her current NY Times recipe that's gone viral.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Lentil salad with tomatoes and a mustardy dressing

I don't know how you feel after the silly season we've just had but after eating and drinking like I wasn't ever going to see food or wine again I need a little kick up the butt. I do NOT mean a diet or a restart or a detox. Just a little more moderation, a little less wine, a little less cheese and a little more movement, aka gym. Which should be much easier to get up and go now that I won't wake with a foggy wine head... well Monday to Fridays anyway. I would love to say I'm back into routine but to be honest I am still trying to figure out my routine for being back at work and with this new FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) Hubby of mine. 5 weeks on, 5 weeks off. Some days I get to midday and the only one I've spoke to is Arthur, the cat. The downside of working from home too I guess.

My mission while Hubby is away is to eat my way through our freezer. I hate waste so I freeze portions of meals when we have leftovers and to avoid them ending up as the bowl of shame in the fridge (this is what happens to egg whites most of the time) I stick them in the freezer.  Our freezer is now chockers because I CANNOT cook for 2 people, let alone one!! And the downside of freezer eating is that I crave fresh foods so I've been making salads for lunches, the heartier ones keep for a couple of days and get better as the flavours are left to mingle.

Friday, 4 January 2019

So long 2018 | Bring on 30

Dear 2018 - you flew by.... so long sucker!

You weren't a huge one for cooking as you probably realise my posts were far and few between. It's been a year though. A big year for change. A little bruised in areas but stronger in the end, I think. There have been some moments which have taken my breath away (crossed things off my bucket list) and moments that knocked me for six and made me realise how short life really is and how important it is to cherish the time we have together.

For a little round up of my 2018 and what might be useful for 2019.

  • One pot pasta's are fabulous, delicious and easy to clean up.
  • Time away from technology and internet is a much needed detox in our world. Go off grid, you'll feel better after.
  • Disease doesn't discriminate.
  • I am terrible at keeping secrets.
  • Just put your exercise gear on - it's too late to change your mind and cancel the class then and you'll feel better for it mentally after.
  • Air Con is god.
  • Snorkelling is terrifying but is easier with pool noodles and gets less terrifying when you just breathe.
  • I miss long physically exhausting days on my feet.
  • You are never too old to learn something new.
  • You can never have too much patience.
  • There is a lovely bush walk down the road from our apartment which I NEVER knew about and I should make this a regular walk.
  • Water dragons can loose their tails and they will grow back.
  • Nursing homes are interesting places. Laugh along with them or you'll cry.
  • Families are mad
  • Families are love.
  • Friends are family too.
  • Learn to cook a roast this year with all the trimmings. I will be doing this.
  • Take more photos. I will also be doing this.
  • Print photos. Very 00's but nothing beats a stack of printed photos to flip through.
  • Christmas is much more fun when you are not a grinch.
  • New Year Eve is best spent at home on the couch with prawns and bubbles.
  • I got the best birthday present (see below).