Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy house

I'm a bit of a Mother Hen in my sharehouse and like to keep my housemates well fed. I just love cooking and feeding people and sharing a big feast with friends.

Christmas is a great excuse to get people together for a beautiful celebratory meal but this time . . . I put my foot down and insisted my housemates pitch in. Okay, so I was a bit of a control freak and wrote the menu and told them what they had to buy/contribute, but it all worked out brilliantly. Some couples bought and made their own dishes while others gave me the ingredients and I cooked it up on their behalf. Worked for me!

One couple did nibbles and I had to laugh - my actual housemate did nothing but her boyfriend totally took charge of the situation. His spread was quite impressive.

Then it was the main deal and my contribution - the turkey.






I did a Donna Hay recipe and it was brilliant. So so so tender and so easy and delicious. I can't believe how moist it was - I've always heard how easy it is to dry out a turkey breast, but this was perfection.

I ordered the turkey breast from the poultry man at the South Melbourne Markets. It was about 2kg for $53 and it would have served about 10 people I reckon. Recipe from here.

prosciutto-wrapped turkey
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2kg turkey breast fillet, skin on
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 15 slices prosciutto


Then for sides I allocated one couple to two salads. It was really nice to have everyone get their hands dirty and feel proud about their contribution.


This Ottolenghi one was a real winner. And so so so easy. Recipe from here.

We cheated and just put the beans in a bowl and poured boiling water over them, left them for a while then added the snow peas towards the end until ever so slightly cooked, then ran cold water over them. I really like my greens crunchy and this meant the team could stay out of the kitchen. Much better!


Green bean, snow pea and hazelnut salad
You can really play with this salad, the beans make for a perfect base from which to improvise. You could add pomegranate seeds, goats cheese and/or pinenuts. Or you could replace the mange tout with chickpeas or white beans, and chop the green beans into segments to make it a little bulkier.
Ingredients
300g (one std pack) of fine green beans
150g (one std pack) of mange tout
50g hazelnuts
15g chives
1 orange
1 tblsp sesame oil
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Heat the oven to about 150 oC.
Fill as big a pan as possible with water for the beans and mange tout. The more space you give them, the more they retain their vivid green colouring. I use a big old casserole pot. Bring the water to the boil.
While it’s heating up, trim and wash the beans and mange tout, keeping them separate. When the water is bubbling merrily away drop the beans in and cook for 4 minutes. Take them out, plonk them in a colander and run under plenty of cold water to stop them cooking further.
Bring the water back to the boil and drop the mange tout in and cook them for no more than a minute. Then drain them into a colander and run under cold water. Dry the beans and the mange tout with some paper towels and put in a large salad bowl.
Put the hazelnuts into the oven and roast for about 7 minutes. Remove and squeeze the skins off – they should mostly crumble away. It doesn’t matter if some bits are left on. Roughly chop with a big, very sharp knife, You don’t want them too finely chopped, there should be plenty of halves, even the odd whole hazelnut left.
Wash the orange and peel away the zest in strips, trying to minimise the amount of white pith you take with it. Slice the strips as finely as possible. Slice the chives in to 1cm lengths.
Add the hazelnuts, orange zest and chives, grind over some black pepper to the beans and toss until all mixed up. Add the sesame (or walnut, hazelnut, pecan or any other nut oil you might have) and olive oils and toss some more.
Serve at room temperature.

The next salad was one I've featured before - it's so Christmasy with those gorgeous gems of pomegranate.



The potatoes were the stand out of the night. Apparently. They got all the attention. Such a simple thing but so hard to get right. And we nailed it (I still think my turkey was the shining light of the evening!).

They were a Gordon Ramsay recipe without all the trimmings - we didn't do the turmeric rub that's recommended, just simple salt and pepper and olive oil. The key is the hot oil on the tray, and roughing up the potatoes after boiling. And turning them during the cooking stage.

It's so worth the effort.

Recipe here - but ignore the chilli and turmeric. Unless you want to be a bit adventurous.



Dessert was an age old favourite - sticky date pudding. I did my Mum's sworn winner - the Masterchef recipe that I featured a few years ago. I cooked it in a spring form tin the night before then just heated it up after main course. Served with vanilla icecream.

The praline was a winner. I doubled the recipe. Boom.

And I tell you what, I could eat that butterscotch sauce 'til the cows come home.




I have raved about the whole night non-stop so Mum has said I have to roll it out again for Christmas Day at home. Suits me just fine, I've had the dress rehearsal, I'm ready for the real deal now! We're currently sitting on the couch watching Maggie Beer's Christmas special and flicking through Christmas cookbooks looking for 'entree' inspiration. Christmas lunch deserves a more decadent starter than just nibbles, so we're tossing up different versions of prawn cocktails. So retro. So cool.

I'll be sure to post about our feast soon!

It's good to be home x




Sunday, December 7, 2014

The way to my heart . . .

This is quite possible one of my favourite posts of the year - Kate's annual Christmas wish list!

My Mum is quite the present giver . . . she always nails it but I've realised it's because I'm quite specific in what I want! A little bit of guidance never hurt nobody, right?!

Look, I know these are all superficial gifts and I must seem quite shallow with this list of shiny pretty things, but this little blog is a lovely little escape from reality and the opportunity to indulge in the surreal.

So let me present Kate's wish list for 2014 . . .


My home girl Sam Armytage has released a book. I need a copy stat.



Nespresso Coffee machine. I tree hugger in me hates the landfill aspect of this gem, but I promise I'll search for a recycling option as part of the deal!


Kate Spade's 'place to go, people to see'. Love me a coffee table book.



Bally poster. This will be on my list every year until I get one. Oh how I hate not having my own house to decorate.



Stella McCartney fragrance. A staple. A must.


A facial. My skin has been rotten lately and I feel like a deep cleanse will be a great start to 2015.


Taylor Swift's album - 1989. Yes, I still do CDs.


Lady Chatterley's Affair 'Ladies Who Lunch' necklace. Because it's not Christmas without some LCA bling.


Kate Spade Tidbit Plate set from Brown Button Trading. Hello picnics in the park!



New pillows. Mine are gross and my neck hurts.


Workout gear. Especially a visor. I really want a visor (Who am I?! And what have I done with couch Kate?!). And the new Country Road activewear range is cute.



New sunglasses. I'm not sure what ones, exactly, but I'll quite happily take yours off you Mum . . .



I'm off to New Zealand in January so would also find a passport holder quite handy.



World Cup Tickets. Yes, I love my cricket.

And some other little stocking fillers (mainly because my brother just texted me to see what I wanted!), I'd love some new PJs, a battery operated electric toothbrush, some folding chairs, bodum coffee cups and a 5:2 fast diet recipe book.

Okay, enough already. You haven't been that good this year, Kate.

**Update! I need one of these! Not sure if it's the lemon or watermelon I prefer, but how fruitastic are they!? So sweet!



Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas in colour



Call me kitch, but I do love it when the colour of food reflects the season.

So my Christmas go-to at the moment is a light and fresh coleslaw - I want to call it Asian inspired, but is probably is more Mexican in flavour?

Great with a roast chook (which is exactly what I served it with at Carols by Candlelight with my friend Nadia this week) or of course, with pulled pork in a soft bun.

Delish!


Coleslaw
  • ¼white cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch(about 300 g/11 oz) radishes, finely sliced
  • 4spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2green apples, finely sliced
  • 1 handfulcoriander leaves
  • 1 handfulmint leaves
  • 2limes, juiced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Make the coleslaw by combining the cabbage, radish, spring onion and apple. Tear the herbs over it and squeeze in the lime juice, along with a small drizzle of oil. Season to taste.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Laneway Learning










I took myself out on a little solo Kate date tonight and treated myself to a Laneway Learning course. Have you heard of them? Brilliant, I tell you!

Lill put me on to them after she and Shuggie signed up for a Bollywood class. They're cheap and cheerful tasters of new skills and hobbies.

I found 'posy up my jar' listed for December and signed myself up - for only $25! That included an hour with an instructor, and a bunch of flowers to play around with ... and take home! You just had to BYO jar. Easy!

The instructor was @tweedtwigs and he was very helpful, I am no longer baffled by what goes where and how to start from scratch. It's just a kind of formula, I can work with that!

One friend laughed that I paid for such a course, but I'm not one of those naturally gifted people who can just pull things together effortlessly (yes, I'm looking at you Tina!). It's another feather in my bridesmaid cap!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Vale Phil Hughes


A cheeky smile. And a life cut too short.

I am so heartbroken for the loss of Phil Hughes. The cricketing family has lost a beloved son.

It was a freak accident, noone is to blame. Stop the debates about the helmet, the ambulance, the bouncer that felled him.

It's noone's fault.

I can't even start to imagine what his family is going through.

And spare a thought for Sean Abbott, he is too young a man to be forced to carry such a burden.

Lots of love to my CA friends xx

"You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest."
Dr Seuss

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It's coming!


I can't wait for this fabulous little taste of Adelaide to hit Melbourne town in January.

The Royal Croquet Club was 'it and a bit' in Adelaide last year and I'm so proud the team is sharing the love beyond the city of churches.

I only saw it in its infancy during the cricket on the banks of the Torrens, but people tell me it was fab in Victoria Square during Mad March.

Melbourne folk, get excited! It'll be better than Night Noodle Markets, fo shiz. (I just hope it's not as hectic.)




Thursday, November 20, 2014

On the box

It's no surprise that Christmas is my favourite time of the year. 

Great food, great spirit, great excuse for celebrations.

And as soon as the Adelaide Christmas Pageant has been and gone, I'm ready to kick off the shenanigans (even in Melbourne!). 

Christmas marketing campaigns always grab my attention and two of my faves so far are below. They're both heavyweights in the retail world (UK and Australia) but do these ads speak to you?

John Lewis


David Jones


Yes, they do to me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy days

Have you ever had one of those ultimate weekends? Where life just can't get any better and you thank your lucky stars for all the good?

I just had one. And I'm tickled pink.

It all started on Friday night when I went to my first soccer game at AAMI Park. I'm not really into 'football' in this form, but being the sports fan I am and living in the heart of Melbourne's sports precinct, I was keen to give it a go. And Adelaide United was playing, so happy to jump on that bandwagon.

We won.

Then Saturday morning I got up bright and early and took the dog for a walk - I was housesitting in Hawthorn East which is a lovely suburb not far from my house and I cherished the opportunity to have a furry friend around. We went to get a coffee and kick start our day at 7.30am before heading over to celebrate my precious Goddaughter's first birthday with breakfast.

Love her to bits.


Her Mum Bree is a superstar and whipped up a gourmet feast to line my stomach for the day ahead. Eggs, chorizo, avocado, tomato and feta. TDF. So much fun with the kidlets.

Then it was back home to prep for Derby Day. The weather threw things into a bit of a spin and I had to rethink my hair style, but we got there in the end - thanks to a YouTube tutorial on how to do my makeup! 



Looks terrible in the pic below, but it was so much fun to do and I'm led to believe it looked better in real life (albeit not much like a Victoria's Secret Angel!) . . .


Didn't Em look hot? I have such pretty friends!

Derby Day was great, we were based in The Nursery and gorged ourselves on chicken sandwiches and champagne all day. We were hosted by the gorgeous McKinnon family and I was over the moon when Clare told me her cousin reads this little old thing. Who would've thought?! I have a reader out there who isn't a blood relative or friend of my Mum's!?

Randomly bumped into my dear friend Alice on the train platform on the way home which was a gift from the Gods - I was worried we'd never manage to catch up that night. 

Obligatory train selfie below . . .

Rocking the red lips, Acey! 


Then Sunday was a day of rest - of sorts. I was still housesitting so indulged in a Foxtel marathon (Say Yes to the Dress is my new fave!) and then went shopping with Lill to soothe the hangover. Thank goodness for burritos.

Caught up with Alice again Sunday night for drinks at City Wine Bar then dinner at Lucy Liu's followed by nightcap at Eau de Vie.

Wow, we look tired (but so brown and gorge, Acey!)


Monday morning saw Alice get up with the sparrows at 4.30am to catch the red eye back to Brisbane and I managed a few more hours sleep before dragging myself out of bed for a run. Good girl, Kate.

Such gorgeous (and rare) weather called for lunch outdoors so Melissa and I treated ourselves to a couple of hours at Porgie & Mr Jones whilst debriefing the races. Monday night called for some serious couch time and a Breaking Bad marathon (I'm hooked - half way through Season 4. It's so addictive!).

Tuesday was a bit manic preparing for a Melbourne Cup Day BBQ with new friends - made my new favourite Ottolenghi salad (recipe to come) and drank far too much champagne. Retired to the couch for more Breaking Bad last night. I can't help myself.

And that's it! How good!? A seriously fun weekend with seriously fun people and events. Lots to add to the gratitude board.

 Thank you Melbourne for your glorious public holiday (and work for the free day off on Monday!) How did your (long) weekends fare?

And what are you grateful for?

xx



Monday, October 20, 2014

The best ragu. Ever.


It's times like these that I remember why I started ye olde blog.

It was to share my favourite recipes with my friends and family.

Well, I'm quietly confident that this is perhaps the best recipe I've ever shared. 

You know how when you buy a new brand of car, that's all you ever see on the streets from then on? Or when you hear a new song you like (or hate) and then it's playing on the radio every time you turn on your car? Well, that happened to me with a recipe last week.

A girl from work and I were talking cooking and she told me about this sausage ragu that she loves. The only sausage ragu I know is the terrible one we get served up at school with the sausages still in their skin, disguised in some weird coloured curry sauce. I smiled politely but deleted her email as soon as she sent the link through to the recipe.

Then later that week, my friend Shuggie told me about this amazing ragu she makes with pork and fennel sausages. Now, Shuggie would never lie to me when it comes to food, so this time I sat up and took notice. Sure enough, it was the same Karen Martini recipe and it's such a winner in her family, that her Dad now uses it as their lasagne base.

Then I was talking to someone else back home in Adelaide and I mentioned this random ragu recipe and they seconded (or is that thirded) the fact that it's a truly life-changing dish. Everywhere I looked, Karen Martini and her Roman Pork Sausage Ragu was waving hello!

So I just had to try it myself. And everything they said was true - I cooked it for the first 'family dinner' with my new housemate and it was so good we barely spoke - it was all 'mmmm, aaahhhh, yeeeessssss' kind of noises.

Do yourself a favour and get on board. You will never make a normal spaghetti bolognaise ever again. And you will have a newfound respect for the humble sausage!

Hot tip: Watch the video on Karen's website here. I was a bit confused about the whole 'crumble the meat' thing but she makes it look so easy.

And a confession - I didn't buy my sausages from the butcher like she recommends. I bought Coles 'pork, apple and cider' sausages then realised I needed more so topped up with Woolies' 'Italian beef, pork, red wine and fennel sausages'. They worked a TREAT. Oh, and I couldn't find thick-cut pancetta so I used a wedge of smoked pork. Same same but different?! Don't be afraid to experiment.

Ingredients
750 grams pork and fennel sausages 
150 grams thick-cut pancetta, diced
2 brown onions, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
3 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400 ml red wine
600 ml chicken stock
400 grams tinned crushed tomatoes
3 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
salt and pepper
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 grams pasta per person, such as pappardelle

Method
Remove the skins from the sausages and crumble the meat. Discard the skins. Heat a heavy-based pot on medium heat, then add the sausage meat and pancetta. Fry until the sausage meat is golden brown, stirring every few minutes. Don’t worry if you get some sticky, crunchy bits – it’s all flavour.
Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, dried chilli and fennel seeds. Stir in well. The vegetables will sweat a little and ease all the crusty, caramelised pieces from the bottom of the pot.
Continue to cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the tomato paste and red wine and bring to a simmer. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, rosemary and oregano and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes on low heat, until you have a thick, intense sauce consistency.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
When cooked, season the ragu carefully (the sausages will already be salted), then add the olive oil and the cooked pasta. Bring the pot to the table.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hunting for Hunters


Friends, travellers, wine lovers, romantics.

I'm off to the Hunter Valley with the two loveliest of gals and I'm in need of some accommodation recommendations. I'm flying blind here, people!

It's for two nights (Friday and Saturday) in the second week of November. 

Any hot tips? Restaurant musts, winery loves?

But most importantly, where should we stay!?

Hit me up!

xx

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The cat that got the cream

Then this happened, people!


I am in hysterics, can't stop laughing.

I may not not a THING about finance or economics, but I do know about food. Or I pretend I do.

After the excitement of yesterday's post, the Fin Review got in touch and used some quotes from me for a story about The Fat Duck ballot. I was like a kid at Christmas, talk about media hussy!

Lucille Keen has a way with words, she's a cracker! And she's partial to a strand of pearls, a girl after my own heart!

I'd better just make sure I get picked in the ballot now, that would be totes awkies if I don't make it through! Imagine the follow up story then (although that's more a Today Tonight expose!).

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Am I daft?


So I did it, and I'm so nervous!




I entered The Fat Duck ballot and am sick with fear that I'll be drawn as a lucky winner.

I'm also like a kid before Christmas - can you imagine if I get picked?! It will be the most exciting day of my life (so far, of course).

The $525 (without beverages) pricetag scares the life out of me, but as my friend Em pointed out, it's 12-15 courses which breaks it down to about $35 per dish. Okay, it's still expensive, but it's also a lot of food and 4.5 hours of pure entertainment.

This article from Good Food justified it for me - I know where my tax return will be going this year!

Has anyone actually dined at The Fat Duck before? I'd love to know if you think it's worth it!

Gulp. It's A LOT of money.


Monday, September 29, 2014

An Italian love affair


Amal Alumuddin.

She totally nailed, it right?

What a stunner. And wasn't George so dreamy in his custom Armani tuxedo.



I particularly like the comment about her "love of quirky footwear" - a girl after my own heart . . . says me who's sitting at her desk in her terribly conservative office, rocking out in her ever so fabulous LCA twinkle toe flats. Shoes tell a lot about a girl (and a guy, mind you!)

See more pics from the wedding celebrations here at vogue.com.au/brides