You’re invited into my kitchen!

Wanna see my kitchen?! There’s a sneak peek below, but our entire house was recently featured on Apartment Therapy. Head on over and have a look – our place has *never* been so tidy (I even dusted)!
Photos are by the super-talented Natalie Jeffcott – you can find her fab work here, and also on Stocksy.

Saskia Ericson's kitchenSaskia and Tony's kitchen, MelbourneSaskia and Tony Ericson's house, Melbourne

Taking stock [number 2]

Howdy! Here’s a wee glimpse at what I’ve been cooking, making, coveting, looking at and thinking about lately. Have really missed blogging and connecting with my cyber penfriends; but haven’t found any free time in yonks (mainly ’cause I no longer wake at 5.30am, and work/life have been super busy this year); so there are some Christmasy things listed below too!
The originator of the stock-taking concept is Pip at Meet me at Mikes, and she kindly provides a blank list at the bottom of her #takingstock posts for you to copy, if you feel inspired to join in. What’ve you all been up to? xx

YULE LOG by One Equals TwoEdible pine conesGalahs at Wilson PromontaryTidal River swimTsukune (teriyaki chicken balls) rice bowl. One Equals Two.Mushroom tea towelPeacamole dip (guacamole made with peas)COOKING: my first ever Yule Log, using Nigella’s recipe.
MAKING: edible pine cones! Found the idea at Handmade Charlotte. We don’t have the stipulated Chex cereal in Aus, but Milo Cereal worked a treat and looks exactly like ‘real’ pine cone pieces I reckon!
DRINKING: gin and tonic. Have rediscovered it after years and years.
READING: Purity. Finally! Loved it.
WANTING: to thank my mum publicly. She’s our Fairy Godmother, occasionally letting herself into our house while we’re at work; to tackle a stack of dishes. Thanks ma! You should leave a scattering of fairy glitter as your calling card.
LOOKING: at holiday snaps. Can’t believe our dream vacation was a year ago.
PLAYING: UNO.
DECIDING: to break out my renovator soon. Husband gave me one for my birthday after I’d expressed interest in trying log carving. Last night I was given a log!
WISHING: Summer hadn’t ended.
ENJOYING: rice bowls for dinner. Our fave is Tsukune (teriyaki chicken balls), pulled from the freezer and nuked, sticky sushi rice with quinoa (recipe from my guest post on Simple Provisions), kimchi from The Fermentary, sugar snaps, asparagus, avo, carrot, cuke, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds and a beer!
WAITING: to see Pee Wee’s new movie.
LIKING: Instagram. Joined last year, utterly addicted!
WONDERING: if I’ll ever get around to sorting 10 years (seriously!) of digital photos into albums.
LOVING: the sculpture walk on Herring Island in the Yarra River, accessible by punt. Utterly surreal, bush-walking so close to the city!
CONSIDERING: a holiday in Sydney.
WATCHING: our own Dean Jones mini-festival for our semi-regular Family Movie Night: That darn cat (family fave), Blackbeard’s Ghost and the first three Herbies. All highly recommended!
HOPING: to have another burger at Changz. They make all their own sauces too!
MARVELING: at my friend Chris’s amazing cakes! Check out Miffy ♥
NEEDING: a hair cut.
SMELLING: a bit woofy, after walking to work. 2.8km! Planning to do it once a week.
WEARING: my mum’s 60s ski jacket with fab sun pattern.
FOLLOWING: landscape/architecture/suburban life photographers on IG – Shit Gardens, Sad Topographies, Sublurb, Ben Blacket and Hayley Eichenbaum.
NOTICING: my boys growing up; and feeling happy, sad, incredulous and proud. They’re both lovely 🙂
THINKING: about my friend J, who has moved to Dubai after finding a creative dream job. Miss you heaps petal.
FEELING: well rested after our camping trip to Wilson’s Prom. Swam in Tidal River every day – it’s like a massive cup of tepid Earl Grey, brown-hued from the marinating leaves.
ADMIRING: Our local galahs (pink-chested Aussie cockatoos); and also Melbourne creatives like Anna, Sandra, Pilgrim, Alice, Esther and Neryl. Lady artists rule!
SORTING: my vintage tea towels (this mushroom beauty is one of my faves).
BUYING: more vintage illustrated cookbooks. Hellllllp! Can’t stop!
GETTING: hungry.
BOOKMARKING: Anonymous works.
DISLIKING: our Government’s inhumane policies on Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
OPENING: another issue of Epicurean. Scored a stack of these incredible 60s/70s Australian food/wine mags from a friend’s mum. Art Directed by one of my design heroes, Les Mason. Will share some pics soon.
GIGGLING: at the Katering Show (new episodes coming in April, 2016)!
SNACKING: on Peacamole – guacamole with peas in place of avocado. Recipe by Clotilde at Zucchini & Chocolate, one of the first food blogs I ever followed. PS. There’s an avocado shortage in Australia, blamed on rain, bushfires and conspiracy.
COVETING: one of Kirsten Perry’s hand-made rings.
HELPING: my 8 year old make (and eat) choc chip cookies.
HEARING: the Undertones right now (this track, one of my fave 80s tunes); and warbling magpies in our backyard (classic Aussie sound). PS. Did you know a group of magpies is called a Mischief?

Christmas gift guide for foodies. All made in Melbourne!

Call me crazy but I started my Christmas gift buying months ago. Last-minute Chrissie shopping gives me the heebie jeebies! If you’d like to get in early too, here’s some inspiration. Everything below is food-related, and made with creativity and love in my home town, Melbourne.
 Let’s support artisans and small businesses instead of the soulless multi-nationals. Happy shopping! xx

2015 Christmas Gift Guide for foodies. Via One Equals Two.1. Aacute Soy candle with gingerbread scent. $22 USD. Hand poured 100% natural soy wax candle, packaged in a miniature retro oven box. Available on etsy, along with the full Bakery Range of 24 scents, including Hot Jam Doughnut, Choc Brownie, Buttery popcorn and Crème brulée!
2. EAT.ME.DO Tea Time socks. $18 AUD. 100% cotton socks featuring your fave Aussie bickies! Available here and at these stockists, along with other delectable wearable treats like jelly baby earrings, Iced Vovo brooches and Cheezel rings!
3. BrewSmith Bacon-making kit. $22 USD. Yes, bacon you can make at home (OMG)! Contains cure, salt, sugar, meat thermometer, recipes, curing bags and instructions. Available on etsy, along with homebrew beer and cider kits.
4. Lene Kuhl Jakobsen Round square bowls. $55 AUD for a set of 3. Small bowls, each hand-thrown from a cube of clay hence the beautiful uneven rims. More info here, available from these stockists.
5. Full Tilt Nanna Hand crocheted fortune cookie with custom message. $11 USD. These cute little cookies can carry announcements, secrets or any other special wishes. You could place one on each Christmas lunch plate! Available on etsy, along with crocheted carrot, eggplant and chill pepper baby rattles!
6. Neryl Winter Harvest (detail). Limited edition archival ink giclée print. A3 size $95 AUD. Original hand-drawn illustration inspired by Australian label Gorman’s Winter Harvest dress. Hand-numbered and signed, printed on natural cotton rag art paper. Created by artist Neryl Walker. Available here, along with more beautiful art, cushions and stickers.
7. Evie Barrow Tooth fairy pouch. $14.81 USD. Hand-made ode to the most important food-eating tool! Cotton/linen, hand embroidered and lined inside to keep teeth safe and easy for the Tooth Fairy to retrieve. Comes with a hand numbered booklet. Created by Melbourne maker Evie Barrow. Available on etsy, along with gorgeous original art, one-of-a-kind textile characters and gift tags.
8. Lucy Folk Taco friendship band. $65 – $75 AUD. Colourful bracelet with silver or gold taco, by Melbourne’s queen of wearable food. Sterling silver, yellow gold plate, rose gold plate and cotton. Available online here, at these world-wide stockists and in-store at 1A Crossley St, Melbourne.
9. Kitiya Palaskas Chicken drumstick brooch. $20 AUDDouble-layered laser cut acrylic, gold-plated pin back, packaged on a riso-printed backing card. Available online here, along with Kitiya’s fab felt-cut food art, stickers, patches and jewellery.
10. WirelyHome x Zin+Bert Concrete platter and side table. $48 USD (for platter only, stand sold separately). WirelyHome collab with concrete artist Erin Devenish (Zin+Bert). Concrete platter treated with food-safe honeydew wax that fits on Wirely’s plant stands, converting them into side tables. Available here, along with Wirely’s stylish candlesticks, oven door hooks and tea towels.
11. Kirsten Perry Hand-built ceramic jug. $200 AUD. Imperfectly perfect sculptural jug by Melbourne ceramic artist Kirsten Perry. Available here, along with Kirsten’s uniquely beautiful cups, planters and cushions.
12. Arteveneta Pasta measure. $33 AUD. Never cook too much or little pasta again! American oak or walnut pasta measure hand-crafted in Prahran by a father/son team. Available here, along with cheese boards, pepper mills and salt cellars.
13. Emma Dilemmas Emporium Nautical gingham reversible apron. $33.32 USD. Classic red gingham self-backed half apron made from vintage cotton, with appliquéd anchor and ric-rac trim. Available on etsy, along with cute cushions and lots more vintage-style aprons.
14. Esther Sandler Fruit salad stickers. $2.96 USD. Stickers printed from an original hand-embroidered piece. Use them to brighten up your snail mail or decorate your Christmas presents! Each pack features 7 fruits. Available on etsy along with Esther’s colourful bags, purses, cushion covers and magnets.
15. Takeawei Fried egg brekky plate. $35 AUD. Handmade in North Melbourne. Fried egg plate to make your mornings sunny side up. Perfect for toast! Hand-painted, food safe, dishwasher safe and microwave safe. Available online here, along with lovingly hand-crafted mugs, tumblers, and plant hangers.

Footnote: This is not a sponsored list. These are all items I genuinely love!
Be sure to check item availability with the sellers and stockists; and confirm that delivery is possible before Christmas.

Etsy shop prices are in USD. All other prices are in Australian dollars. Here’s a currency converter
.

Sea life’s beauty

Helllooo! My first post for 2015. Where did all that time go? 2014 was frankly an awful and emotional year, with the loss of three beautiful family members (my dad, stepdad and grandma) and I came pretty close myself with a nasty dose of sepsis.
By contrast, this year is looking great. We had a fab holiday after Christmas in Apollo Bay with friends; reading, wining, chatting, swimming and lounging around – exactly what the doctor ordered. A food highlight was our brekkie of Baked oatmeal (recipe from the talented Chef in Disguise), served with yogurt and fresh cherries. So yum.
We were back home for a day of frantic washing and re-packing before setting off on a camping trip to Wilson’s Promontory. For years friends have been shocked that we’ve never been to ‘the Prom’, and now I know why! It’s a spectacular conglomeration of almost every element of nature – river, surf beach, massive boulders, bush, hiking trails and so many furry friends. Our nightly visitor was an elderly cantankerous wallaby. I took so many photos of him one day that he hopped over and chomped me on the hand. The husband scored a bite on the knee from an angry wombat, also for getting in too close for a photo. Bloody city slickers we are, serves us right!
We worked our way through an almost embarrassing amount of food, including chilli con carne (see below); a family favourite that is nearly always in our freezer. It’s perfect camping fare with smashed avocado and rice.
See you all soon. We’re ticking off one of our lifetime dreams tomorrow and are heading to the USA for a 6.5 week road trip along Route 66. We’ve found a house-sitter, packed our bags, researched our butts off and are so excited. I (finally!) signed up for Instagram yesterday, so do join me there or on Facebook for holiday updates. Bye lovely readers. xxx

Baked oatmeal and fresh cherriesTidal River Wilsons PromWilsons PromontaryCranky wallabyWilsons Prom bush walkChilli con carne with smashed avocado. One Equals Two.

Best Western

8 sleeps ’til Christmas! I’ve had the most mental lovely couple of weeks. We set up our Christmas tree, visited the Myer windows and I’ve been on a catering frenzy: 50 cupcakes, 60 meatballs, 4 cakes, 2 kilos of chutney, a kilo of ugly but super delicious Syrian red pepper, pomegranate and walnut dip (see below), and a huge load of Keema mattar (to take on our upcoming camping trip). Also somehow squeezed in some work, Christmas parties, gift shopping and present-wrapping. I need a nap.
I also spent an entire day cruising the Wild West. I live in Melbourne’s south, and last year I lead a group of Western and Northern suburbs lovely lady friends on an op-shop crawl of my area. Our Yarraville pal reciprocated recently with a sight-seeing daytrip around the West. We’ve become a group of little old ladies with our self-organised tours!
Our Western excursion started with tacos at La Tortilleria in Kensington. Melbourne peeps, if you’ve not eaten there yet, run! Afternoon tea was the holiest cannoli at T Cavallaro and Sons in Footscray – just look at that perfect crunchy pastry and glistening custard!
We finished our day with a stroll through Little Saigon Market and Sweet Grass Bonsai, fabric shopping at Maze and Vale (how cute is the mushroom fabric?) and a spot of junk hunting (I scored a magnificent Viking tapestry).
Our friend Andrew, one of my favourite cooks, had toiled in the kitchen while we were out and laid on an amazing dinner of Puy lentil and fig salad, falafel and teeny quail eggs with dukkah and za’atar (photo below). All in all, a jam-packed, perfect day!
I’m guessing it’s a crazy time of year for you too? Wishing you all the very best for whatever you’re celebrating; Christmas, Mawlid al-Nabi, Chanukah or Summer/Winter Holidays! xx

Christmas tree!Syrian red pepper, pomegranate and walnut dipLa Tortilleria, KensingtonLa TortilleriaCavallaro and sons cannoliCavallaro and sons, FootscrayMaze and Vale fabricVintage viking tapestryQuail eggs and dukkah

2014 Food-related Christmas gift guide. Handmade in Melbourne!

May I just say, in caps, that CHRISTMAS IS LOOMING. Don’t panic! Here’s my annual food-related Christmas Gift Guide. Everything below is made with love in my home town, Melbourne. Buying handmade creates a domino-effect of happiness – for you, the gift recipient and the maker. Let’s ignore the sea of mass-produced crap trotted out every year by those greedy multinationals and support our local artisans!
Overseas readers – you can buy locally by checking out these fab foodie creations: jikits mini ice cream mobile (USA), misako mimoko’s apple wall hanger (Spain), Fine Little Day’s tomato poster (Sweden); or make your own 70s Supermarket Play Set with Alice Apple’s DIY fabric panel (UK).
OK, here we go…
1. Able and Game Butter tea towel. $19.70. Able and Game’s super cute hand-drawn designs feature on cards, totes, tea towels and calendars. Available on etsy, and at these worldwide stockists.
2. Hamb ‘Fish barbecue’ mens tee. $69. Hamb’s quirky limited edition tees, library bags and plywood clocks are hand-illustrated and screen-printed in Melbourne. Available online here, and at these stockists.
3. Sandra Eterovic ‘Italian ingredients’ original painting on paper. $85. Sandra’s beautiful work is hand-made with care, using the best quality sustainable materials. Available on etsy, along with fabulous cards, OOAK dolls, cushions, mirrors, prints, scarves and wooden art! Sandra was recently profiled on The Design Files and Handmade Life.
4. Re-sew-cool Watermelon brooch kit. $15. Kit contains pattern, instructions, sewing needle, ric-rac, recycled felt, recycled buttons, natural yarn and brooch clasp. Available here and at these stockists, along with 5 more fab brooch varieties, and other kits. Handmade in Melbourne by the talented Sister Outlaws.
5. Made by Mosey banana cushion. $66. Made by Mosey’s colourful range of cushions, garlands, soft mobiles and quilts are created by Madeleine Sargent. Available here and also at Craft Vic.
6. Rooftop Honey Test Tube Gift Set. $19.95. This calico gift bag from CBD beekeepers Rooftop Honey includes a bee-friendly seed pack, recipe postcard and set of three honey samples (harvested from Melbourne rooftops) in glass test tubes, hand wax dipped and labelled with origin. Available here.
7. Neryl ‘Pineapple Mary’ limited edition archival ink giclee print. Medium: $95, Large: $160. Music-lovin’ juice swiggin’ Mary would jazz up any kitchen, dining room or den! She’s available here, along with her lady friends. Created by clever chick Neryl Walker.
8. Takeawei Origami serving board. Large $105, small $85. Handmade by Chela Edmunds in North Melbourne, this platter features a satin glaze star pattern and is dishwasher/microwave safe. Perfect for antipasto, sushi or cheese! These have sold out in the Takeawei store, but are available online at Liberty Trading Company. Be quick before they vamoose!
9. KaPow Kids Harem-style kids ice cream shorties. $32.95. Matching headband also available! KaPow Kids threads are hand-made in limited quantities and sell out fast, so run! Available online here, and at these stockists.
10. Evie Barrow Miss Pudding. $11.20. Available on etsy. Evie makes playfully-illustrated creations and one-of-a-kind textile characters, including the delightful Miss Pudding. The perfect Christmas ornament, Miss Pudding is made from cotton and felt with hand-embroidered features and a cotton hanging loop. She also comes wrapped in special Christmas paper, designed by Evie!
11. Lucy Folk Sugar Cube Clutch (Musk Stick). $295. The ultimate lolly bag! Melbourne’s queen of wearable food has just released her sweetest collection yet, celebrating sugar! Available online here, at these world-wide stockists and at Lucy’s flagship shop at 1A Crossley St, Melbourne.
12. Bridget Bodenham Pestle and mortar. $200. Bridget lives and works in her studio in beautiful Hepburn Springs, an hour out of Melbourne. Her work is organic, textured and just lovely. Available at Mr Kitly and these stockists.
Footnote: This is not a sponsored list. These are all items I genuinely love.
Before ordering, be sure to check with the sellers that delivery is possible before Christmas! Etsy shop prices are in USD.

© Please note photos are the property of their respective owners.

2014 food-related Gift Guide. Handmade in Melbourne.

Blades of glory

[Recipe 1] BLADE BEEF POT ROAST with SHIITAKE MUSHROOM GRAVY and BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH TOASTED WALNUTS transforms into
[Recipe 2] ASIAN-STYLE TACOS with BLADE BEEF, KIMCHI COLESLAW and SRIRACHA MAYO

There were moans at the dinner table. Not whiney ones, I mean the ‘Can’t talk, eating’ pleasure-induced type. I’ve gotta say these are two of the tastiest meals I’ve served in ages!
The inspiration for this post began with a dish the husband and I devoured recently at one of our favourite locals, The More the Better – perfectly unctuous pork belly strips, rolled up in large gossamer-thin slices of vinegary pickled daikon (Chinese white radish). The stand-out component for me though was the kimchi-style coleslaw dotted on top. Traditional Korean kimchi is made from fermented cabbage and other veggies, but The More the Better served theirs raw, so it retained a satisfying crunch. Man it was good.
I immediately set about creating my own version of kimchi slaw. We are a family of slaw hooverers, often eating it once a week in wraps with fish or lamb. Mine is usually a mostly-mayo concoction with a dash of apple cider vinegar, but elevating the vinegar to hero status is a taste sensation. Instead of mandolining a daikon to use for wrapping (too fiddly), I grated it and added it to the slaw for an extra kick of tartness. YUM!
Although we do love our pork belly, I served the kimchi slaw with strips of tender roast blade beef, rolled up like soft tacos in Chinese pancakes, with a squirt of creamy sriracha mayo to balance out the vinegared slaw.
As this blog is all about creating two meals from one, we enjoyed my slightly Asian-style blade beef pot roast on the first night, reserving a couple of cups of the juicy beef for the Chinese pancakes. This pot roast is the perfect Winter pig-out, drizzled with shiitake mushroom gravy (which just happens to be gluten-free) and served with confit-style baked spuds and super-tasty Brussels sprouts scattered with toasted walnuts for texture.
Two meals from one, too easy, and either meal would be perfect to dish up for Fathers Day next weekend. xx

Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts. One Equals Two.Blade beef pot roast with shiitake mushroom gravy. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Blade beef pot roast with shiitake mushroom gravy and Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts

Ingredients (beef serves 4 for two meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.75 kilo (3.8 lb) blade (bolar) beef
2 cups good-quality beef stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
2 small brown onions, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large potatoes, cut into wedges
Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts to serve
For the shiitake mushroom gravy:
40g (1½ oz) dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in 2 cups boiling water, drained (¼ cup soaking liquid reserved)
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).
Heat olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the beef and cook over medium–high heat, turning occasionally, until well-browned all over, for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a small, close-fitting, lidded ovenproof pot, preferably cast iron.
Mix stock, soy sauce and Chinese five spice powder together and pour into the frying pan. Simmer gently for 2 minutes, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom. Pour over the beef. Scatter the onion and garlic slices around the beef.
Place into the pre-heated oven and roast, tightly covered, for 1½ hours at which point the beef should be turned and ladled with pan juices.
Remove 1½ cups of the pan juices and pour into a small baking dish (I use a loaf-sized cake pan). Add the potato wedges, toss, cover tightly with foil, and place in the oven next to the beef. The potato pieces will deliciously poach confit-style in the beef juices for crisping later!
Bake beef and potatoes for a further 1½ hours, turning the potatoes once, after 45 minutes.
Total beef cooking time is 3 hours. Test to see whether beef is fork tender – if not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes and check again.
Take the beef from the pan, place onto a board and rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
Remove the potato chunks from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon, and transfer to a tray lined with baking paper. Turn the oven up to 250°C (480ºF), and return potatoes to the oven for 25–30 minutes for crisping, while you prepare the gravy and slice the beef. Potatoes can be kept warm in a low oven.
For the gravy: ladle 1½ cups of the beef cooking juices from the pan, skim off the fat and pour into a small saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of the roasted onion and garlic slices, the soaked shiitake mushrooms and the reserved ¼ cup mushroom soaking liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste. Puree in a blender until very smooth. Add a splash more stock or pan juices if it is too thick. Transfer to a small small warmed jug.
When ready to serve, slice the beef.
♦ Reserve half the sliced beef (approx. 2 cups/450g/1 lb), and ¼ cup of the cooking juices, for the Asian-style tacos (see recipe 2).
Drizzle the remaining sliced beef with pan juices. Serve with the roasted spuds, shiitake mushroom gravy and Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts.

  • A pot roast must be cooked in a tightly-sealed pot! Like brisket, blade beef is best suited to wet roasting. Blade is a cheap cut and if not cooked properly can be as tough as an old boot! The key to beautiful, meltingly tender meat is lots of moisture and a long cooking time on a low heat. The beef should be fairly snug, with liquid at least half-way up the meat. I use a 4 litre (8½ pint) capacity cast iron lidded casserole pot. If yours is bigger, add a splash more stock.
  • Reserved roasted beef blade can be stored in the fridge, well-covered, for up to 3 days.
  • Leftover shiitake mushroom gravy can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Warm, stirring, in a small saucepan. It’s delicious drizzled over steak!
  • Kid tip: Children may prefer plain steamed veggies with their roast, in which case adults can enjoy the leftover Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts tomorrow, warmed in a lightly-oiled pan.
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms are available from Asian grocers and large supermarkets. If unavailable you can easily whip up traditional gravy instead. Ladle 2 cups of the cooking juices from the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of the roasted onion and garlic slices and 2 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour. Simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, stirring, until reduced and thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Puree in a blender until very smooth, and transfer to a small small warmed jug.

Kimchi coleslaw with daikon. One Equals Two.Blade beef, kimchi slaw and sriracha mayo Asian-style tacos. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Asian-style tacos with blade beef, kimchi coleslaw and sriracha mayo

Ingredients (serves 4):
10 jian bing (Chinese pancakes)
♦ 2 cups (450g/1 lb) reserved roasted blade beef (+ ¼ cup pan juices), shredded, warmed
Sriracha mayo, to serve
Kimchi coleslaw (can make 1 day ahead):
½ wombok (Chinese/Napa cabbage), finely shredded (about 4 cups)
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
1 medium daikon (Chinese white radish), grated (about 1½ cups)
2 whole spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper flakes), or more (to taste)
⅓ cup (80ml) Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
Black sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Place wombok, carrot, daikon and spring onions in a large salad bowl. Mix sugar, gochugaru, vinegars and salt together and drizzle over. Toss well and scatter with black sesame seeds. Refrigerate until required.
Warm Chinese pancakes until just starting to bubble, in a lightly-oiled frying pan. Don’t overcook them, 1–2 minutes each side will suffice. Wrap in foil to keep warm.
To serve, spoon warmed reserved roasted blade beef and kimchi coleslaw onto each Chinese pancake. Drizzle with sriracha mayo and roll up to enclose. Enjoy!

  • Jian bing (very thin wheat-based Chinese pancakes) are available refrigerated in packets at Asian grocers, and are commonly used to wrap Peking duck. They’re usually prepared by lightly warming in a microwave, but I like gently frying them as the edges crisp nicely. Replace with small tortillas if unavailable.
  • Gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper flakes) is available from Asian food stores. It is different to traditional chilli flakes, with more of a capsicum-ish flavour. Black sesame seeds and Japanese rice wine vinegar are available from large supermarkets and Asian food stores. 
  • You’ll need sriracha chili sauce for the sriracha mayo, which is available at Asian food stores and select supermarkets. Although commercially available at Woolworths, the authentic (and far superior!) version, made by Huy Fong Foods in California, is available in Australia from USA Foods.
  • Reserved shredded beef can be gently warmed in the microwave, covered with cling film. Drizzle with the reserved pan juices, cover with cling film (or a lid), and microwave on high for 1–2 minutes. Don’t make it too hot!
  • Kid tip: My 10-year old gobbles up these pancakes as is, but my 7 year old prefers tomato sauce (ketchup), grated carrot and sliced avocado in his.

Taking stock [number 1]

Here’s a little snapshot of what I’ve been making, baking, admiring and thinking about lately. Love this concept by Pip at Meet me at Mikes. Pip shared her most recent #takingstock here, and there’s a blank list at the bottom of the post for you to copy on your own blog or Facebook, if you feel inspired. Oh, and if you participate, leave a link in the comments so we can read yours too!

Barry Gibb doll. Saskia Ericson.Abominable snowman cake. One Equals TwoHello possumPickled turnipsEvie Barrow pack!Making: a Barry Gibb doll for my 7-year old Bee Gees fan. I used this Woman’s Day rag doll pattern for the upper body, winged it for the beard, pants and boots, and followed a fab hair tutorial on this Lincraft how-to card (thanks Michelle).
Cooking: an Abominable Snowman cake for my 7-year old’s birthday, loosely based on the yeti from Komaneko the Curious cat.
Drinking: hot chocolate with fluffy milk – did you know you can make creamy, frothy milk in a coffee plunger (French press)?
Reading: Anorak.
Wanting: more time in a day. Even 25 hours would be good. Thanks.
Looking: at Pinterest before the rest of my family wakes up. A daily ritual!
Playing: Pictionary.
Deciding: which Country Show to visit this year – Birregurra or Cobden.
Wishing: the sun would come out.
Enjoying: my girlfriends company. Lady friends rock.
Waiting: for Spring.
Liking: Maruyama Asami‘s embroideries of people eating, especially this one.
Wondering: why there’s a big possum on our fence at 6.30am. He should be asleep.
Loving: my boys, all three of them.
Pondering: how to balance life and social media. I shared my tips over at Kidspot, along with some other ace bloggers.
Considering: having a Garage Sale.
Watching: Jarvis Cocker’s 1998 doco series on outsider art environments. So good!
Hoping: to have dinner at The Moor’s Head again. Soon.
Marveling: at my 10-year old’s cactus and succulent collection.
Needing: a proper holiday.
Smelling: sweet, vinegary pickled turnips! Here’s Michelle’s fab recipe. Mine turned out bright magenta (see photo) as I doubled the beetroot!
Wearing: blue things and these hand-made shoes – so comfy, they’re like slippers.
Following: Shit brick fences of Melbourne.
Noticing: grey hairs! Yikes!
Thinking: about Christmas presents. Only 5 months to go!
Feeling: mostly happy, but sometimes sad. Missing my dad.
Admiring: my clever husband’s portrait drawings.
Sorting: fabric pieces from Amitie.
Buying: lovely hand-made goodies from Evie Barrow. Look at the beautiful packaging! I almost didn’t want to unwrap it.
Getting: into a jam-making frenzy! Help!
Bookmarking: this soup recipe by Simple Provisions, after reading this post about the nutritional powerhouse that is watercress.
Disliking: Tony Abbott (Australia’s Prime Minister).
Opening: old letters from my lovely Oma in Holland (she died recently, aged 105).
Giggling: at my son’s texta vandalism of my husband’s rejected life drawings; especially the elderly nude man, now wearing a mankini and boater hat.
Snacking: on Pana chocolate.
Coveting: one of Kirsten Perry‘s planters.
Helping: my 10-year old as he makes our pancakes.
Hearing: my playlist of favourite Australian tracks by Dick Diver, Go-Betweens, Architecture in Helsinki and Eddy Current.

Food-related gift ideas [handmade in Melbourne]

18 SLEEPS ‘TIL CHRISTMAS! If you’re stressing over gift ideas, and are in dire need of inspiration, may I present my inaugural food-related Christmas Gift Guide! Everything below is available online and handmade in Melbourne. Just look at what these clever folks have created. I’m in awe.
For even more inspiration, check out the quirky/foodie/crafty gift guides at Craft Vic, Broadsheet, Simple Provisions and Meet me at Mikes. International readers should visit Kickcan and Conkers, Fine Little Day and of course, etsy. There is also a fab round-up of upcoming Melbourne craft markets at handmade life (a must-visit blog for news and views on everything crafty). OK, here we go…
1. Sandsmade Stix for Cooks. $14.95. Stix are ideal for stirring, blending and beating; made from satin box timber. They’re also kind to saucepans and bowls and naturally anti-bacterial. Made in Northcote and available here.
2. Sandra Eterovic ‘Ms Mortadella’. $88. Beautiful original artwork, hand-painted on recycled plywood, with a sturdy hanging device at the back. Available from Sandra’s etsy shop, along with her fab cards, mirrors and paintings.
3. The Hungry Girls’ Cookbook. $25 (special price – was $35). This is more like a work of art than a regular recipe book. Cloth-lined, hand-sewn and filled with scrumptious recipes, illustrations and photography; these books are the work of three friends – Rachel Pitts, Leah Holscher and Katherine Bird. Available here.
4. Neryl ‘Josephine’. $75/$95. Homage to Ms Baker, the queen of fruit. She would look fab in any kitchen! Original art by Neryl, available in A4 and A3 giclee prints. Limited edition of 50, printed on 300gsm natural cotton rag art paper using quality archival inks. Available here.
5. Kirsten Perry ‘tea and whatev’ mug. $60. Handmade ceramic mug that holds a massive amount of tea or coffee! Kirsten’s ace ceramics are available at Mr Kitley, Craft Vic and her online shop.
6. Penelope Durston oven mit. $32. Made from felted wool and finished with bright binding and a loop for hanging, by renowned Fitzroy textile-designer Penelope Durston. Available at Craft Vic.
7. Greg Mann Princess Me pin. $30. Greg fashions recycled cutlery into amazing jewellery. This pin is made from a vintage teaspoon. You’ll find Greg at Rose Street Market.
8. Lucy Folk Supreme Pizza bracelet. $88. No food-related gift guide would be complete without reference to Melbourne’s queen of wearable food! This flavour-packed bracelet is made from crochet metallic thread, mother of pearl, glass beads, powder coated steel, sterling silver and gold plating. Available here (along with Lucy’s pizza, bento, feast, spices and taqueria ranges)!
9. Urban Cartel handmade porcelain replica vintage milk bottle. $23. Glazed internally and left raw on the outside, these are perfect for holding liquid (food safe glaze) or a floral arrangement; or just displaying by themselves. Available from their etsy shop.
10. Vonda Retro leaves tea towel (detail). $20. Hand-printed on 100% cotton. Methinks this gorgeous Australian gumleaf design is the perfect gift for friends and family overseas. Available here.
11. Spinspin Tree Towel. $20. Designed and screen-printed in Melbourne using eco-friendly, water based ink on European linen. Available here.
12. Blank baked goodies packaging. Various prices. These gift boxes are the perfect size to package an entire batch of cookies. Blank also stock translucent wax paper glassine bags, wood berry boxes and all the tags and wrap you’ll need. Visit Blank here.
Footnote: This is not a sponsored list. These are all items I genuinely love. I must fess up though – some of these makers are my friends!
Etsy prices are in USD, so these have been rounded down to the nearest dollar.
If you’re buying from overseas, be sure to check with the sellers that delivery is possible before Christmas.

© Please note all photos are the property of their respective owners.

2013 Gift Guide

Best in show

It was my birthday recently and we had a weekend away in Birregurra, for their Annual Festival. As luck would have it, the Camperdown Show was on as well so we had a rollicking country weekend, as you’ll see in this photo of me and my youngest patting an alpaca, published in the Camperdown Chronicle.
I just love a good country show and Birregurra and Camperdown certainly delivered. Dog jumping, cow pat lotto, an Elvis impersonator, kid’s gardening workshop, ‘Best chicken in show’ and one of my favourite events, the wood chop. How those blokes manage to escape serious foot injury, with only Dunlop Volleys for protection, is beyond me. One of the lovely contestants allowed us to take home a losing log, which has pride of place in our garden as a stool/table. Isn’t it a beauty!
Squeezed in a bit of country op-shopping (see my haul of vintage kitchen stuff below); and had some fab food, including a gorgeous pork bánh mì – that’s me clutching it below. It was amazing, so juicy and flavoursome. The Birregurra General store make, in my humble opinion, the best hamburgers in Victoria; served on La Madre seedy buns. I’m well-stocked with chutney and relishes now too, thanks to the Birregurra branch of the Country Women’s Association (Loz, I don’t know who you are but your peach chutney rocks).
We stayed in Pomborneit, at this lovely place. It has just been put up for sale! If anyone is on the lookout for an 1800s bluestone church with a separate studio and gorgeous garden, this place ticks all the boxes.
Have a lovely weekend folks; and Melbourne readers, have a splendid Cup Day.

Birregurra Festival 2013Woodchop and stool

Tree-mendous

Hellooo! Wow, I haven’t been here for ages. The school holidays are over and I dragged myself back, kicking and screaming, to work yesterday.
I spent most of last week with my boys, 3 lovely lady friends and their kids in beautiful Trentham. With tongues firmly planted in cheeks, we refer to ourselves as the GMC (Groovy Mothers Club), and our 8 children have known each other since they were babies. Coming together as a big clan for 5 days was noisy, nurturing and bloody fantastic.
Although we had one big burst of glorious sunshine (on our last day), it rained virtually non-stop; so the days were spent doing a helluva lot of crafting – twig bows n’ arrows, dream-catchers, little air-dry clay pots, cardboard swords and shields, blanket forts and home-made lanterns for the obligatory spooky twilight stroll to the local cemetery.
We all love our food, and the menu was excellent: baked breakfast oatmeal, dried fruit salad with honeyed nuts, home-baked sourdough, brownies, cookies, börek, pizzas, chilli relish, lasagne and Janet’s pièce de résistance, loved by all the adults and kids – Taiwanese rice and chicken in banana leaves (that’s me, gleefully serving it up below).
We spent an afternoon at the charming RedBeard Bakery, where the baker generously showed the kids around his kitchen, and allowed them to peer into the huge 19th century woodfired Scotch oven. Such a beautiful place and it’s for sale. Someone buy it, quick!
The kids were rapt to discover an abandoned mine whilst bushwalking, and almost every morning we were greeted by a couple of grazing kangaroos, rosellas and fat cockatoos.
When the children collapsed into bed; there was wine, long chats into the night, a game of Cards against humanity, and did I mention the wine?
Thanks ladies. I’m finding it hard to muster up the care-factor at work after such a gorgeous week. *sniff*.

Trentham holidayTaiwanese chicken

Beet this

[Recipe 1] ROASTED BEETROOT, BABY CARROT and MACADAMIA SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] BEETROOT and PINE NUT HUMMUS

Happy Father’s Day for yesterday daddy readers! We had a delightful weekend, starting with the Nicholas Building Open House on Friday night (one of Melbourne’s most lovely buildings, and a microcosm of small artist’s studios and tiny specialty shops); followed by a perfect coffee in the sun and a spot of art admiration at Commonfolk on Saturday; and culminating in a magnificent manly dinner – Amelia’s Bangers and mash with beer and onion gravy.
I plucked some big fat grass-fed beef bangers from my freezer, having bought them a couple of weeks ago at East Bentleigh Farmers Market, one of our favourites as it has a zero-waste policy, and always has everything I need, including custard tarts and home-made dim sims. I had a lovely morning there with my 6-year old, and we came home with the aforementioned snags, gorgeous baby coloured carrots, and a few bunches of beetroot including striped Chioggia. I set to work roasting the lot for a salad.
The weather has turned decidedly Spring-like over the past two weeks, and this salad, full of flavour and texture with a light scattering of roasted macadamias; made a perfect light dinner.
I reserved a cup of the roasted beetroot and whipped up a fab beetroot hummus the next day, basically my usual hummus with beetroot added and a handful of pinenuts. Delicious! The husband and I polished off a ridiculous amount, and took the rest to work for lunch on sourdough with roast beef and rocket. I made a second batch to test its freezability and it freezes really well. Who knew one could freeze hummus? Not I, and I’m pretty rapt as it’s a great way to avoid gorging.
Oh, right down the bottom of this post I’ve shared my favourite tea towel. A girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday last year (thanks Eileesh)! I used it as the tablecloth for this post but felt it needed to be seen in its entirety. Isn’t it a ripper!
Footnote: The coloured carrots came from the Greens Organic Farm stall. They also deliver to Melbourne’s south/bayside suburbs. The beetroot was purchased at the Peninsula Fresh stall; and my sausages came from Sage Beef. The beautiful bread pictured in my dip photo was from Rustica. These sellers are all regulars at East Bentleigh Farmer’s Market.

Coloured baby carrotsRoast beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad[Recipe 1] Roasted beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad

Ingredients (serves 4, plus extra beetroot for recipe 2):
3 bunches beetroot, about 1½ kilo (3 lb) total
3 bunches baby carrots, about 500g (1 lb) total
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or olive oil), plus extra for brushing carrots
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
150g (5 oz) wild rocket (arugula) or radicchio (Italian chicory) leaves
60g (2 oz) macadamia nuts, roasted and chopped
Orange dressing:
⅓ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 1 large orange)
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or extra-virgin olive oil), extra
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, warmed slightly

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare dressing by placing all ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined. Refrigerate until required.
Wash the beetroot and carrots well. Trim the stems leaving about 1cm (½”) intact. If using large and medium beetroots, they can be halved.
Place the prepared beetroot onto a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with oil and wrap them up like a parcel. Place into a heavy baking pan and roast for 40 minutes.
Brush the prepared carrots with a little oil. Remove baking pan from the oven, and place the carrots next to the parcel of beetroot. You can use a small separate baking pan if there isn’t enough room, or lay another tray on top of your roasting pan.
Place everything into the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes until vegetables are just tender.
Macadamias can be placed in the oven for the last 5 minutes to roast.
Remove baking pan from the oven. Wearing gloves, slip the skins off the beetroot with a vegetable peeler or your fingers.
Reserve approximately 200g (7 oz) roasted beetroot for the Roast beetroot and pine nut humus.
Place the remaining roasted vegetables in a large bowl. Add rocket leaves and drizzle with the prepared dressing. Toss lightly until combined. Divide salad amongst four serving plates, and scatter with macadamias.

  • Small, young beetroot leaves can be used in your salad in place of the rocket leaves.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids will love the roast baby carrots, but may turn their noses up at the beetroot. Roast a couple of sliced potatoes and pumpkin chunks for them at the same time.
  • This salad can be served with sliced oven-baked pork fillets (tenderloins); which require 20 minutes roasting time and can be placed in the oven at the same time as the carrots. Brush them lightly with oil and scatter with cumin. To serve, brush a little of the orange dressing on top!

Beetroot and pine nut hummus

[Recipe 2] Beetroot and pine nut hummus

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
200g (7 oz) reserved roasted beetroot, peeled, tops trimmed
1 tablespoon hulled tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup (40g) pine nuts
1½ teaspoons dried cumin powder
Salt

Process all ingredients until smooth. Add a splash of water if it seems too thick. Season to taste. If using canned chickpeas, you may not need additional salt.
Serve with crusty bread and/or vegetable crudités.

  • Beetroot and pine nut hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Uncle Albert's vintage tea towel

The icing on the cake

Our boys had a combined birthday party recently at St Kilda Adventure Playground, one of the most magic kid’s spots in Melbourne. Just look at the place! It’s fantastically old-school – a little bit dangerous (no soft padded surfaces), amazing hand-built cubby houses, fort, flying fox and two trampolines. There is even a leopard-print fur clad ‘birthday throne’ in the party area. Best of all, the place easily accommodated the 30 kids we invited, and they had a ball. I talked about some of the food we served here.
I’m a bit embarrassed to share my wonky birthday cake creations with the world, but ah… what the heck! This blog functions as a bit of a diary for me. I have years of unsorted photos on my desktop, so it’s nice having the blog as a forum for our special occasions, creations and holidays.
My eldest is into everything technical and scientific so his cake this year was a 9-volt battery. My youngest is completely obsessed with the Thunderbirds so he scored a Thunderbird 1 rocket cake, and I made him a Thunderbird hand puppet too.
The cakes were decorated with ready-made fondant icing. If you’ve not used it before I highly recommend it. It’s simply rolled out like pastry and draped over the cake. You can cut letters and shapes out of it and it can be coloured with food dye too. While I’m rabbiting on about cakes, I might as well post my eldest’s cake from last year, an old-school computer keyboard cake. The base is white fondant, the keys are blocks of white chocolate, the space bar is a piece of white chocolate KitKat, and the writing was done with an Americolor Gourmet Food Writing pen. So easy! I did giggle though when my son’s friend pointed out how ‘incorrect’ some of the keyboard keys were. The fondant icing and writing pens are available from Something for cake, Amazon or Merryday cakes.
Last but not least, I wanted to share these fab tiny little bags of Lego which I used in the treat bags. They’re cheap as chips and available on Ebay (search for ‘Lego party favours’). I reckon they’d be great in pinatas too.
Have a lovely weekend folks. Recipes coming soon…

St Kilda Adventure PlaygroundEnergizer Battery birthday cakeThunderbirds cake and puppetOld school keyboard cakeTreat bag Lego

Aye carumba!

Recipe post coming soon. Life and work have been a bit crazy, and there has been no time for blogging. In the meantime, here are two fabulous experiences I had today:
1. I think I may unwittingly have my finger on the pulse! I chanced upon the ‘secret’ launch of Mr. Mexico, the Si Señor Pop-up Art Taqueria at 193 Carlisle Street St Kilda. It’s open for a short time only and is stocked with all the hot sauce, El Cielo tortillas, cookbooks and Mexican paper art a lady like me could need.
Footnote (July, 2013): Si Señor has now morphed into a restaurant, Eat Drink Love Taco! I reviewed it on the 1=2 facebook page and will do a ‘proper’ review here soon! It’s fabulous.
2. This evening I went to the exhibition opening of one of my favourite artists, fellow blogger Sandra Eterovic. OK, so this isn’t exactly food-related news but her art is food for the soul. So quirky, so original, so beautiful. If I hadn’t quoffed a few of her dad’s spectacular home-made wines, I’d be in a position to gush more. If you’re in Melbourne, do get down to have a look. It’s at the gorgeous Hut 13 in Armadale until May 8th. You can also see and buy Sandra’s art, cards and mirrors in her etsy shop.
Happy Anzac Day. xx

Mr MexicoSandra Eterovic money boxesSandra Eterovic

Fish for compliments

[Recipe 1] FISH WRAPS with CHILLI SLAW and CRUNCHY NOODLES transforms into
[Recipe 2] KEDGEREE
……………..
We’re back to school and work today after our two-week Easter break. We’ve had such a lovely time over the last week. Lots of crafting; including mini concrete mushrooms for the garden; a Barry Gibb beard; and a huge surrogate stuffed mother cat softie for our kitten. Squeezed in a trip to the beach, Kid’s Comedy Club at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and a visit to the Zoo. Melbourne readers – you must get to the Zoo ASAP to see baby Dewi the orangutan; and Sanook the baby elephant. We were mesmerised by Dewi for over an hour. He is hilarious. Little Sanook was closely guarded by his herd, and was divine. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs from the crowd; and a lady behind me was in raptures, repeating ‘Oh bless, oh bless, oh bless’ in a disturbingly deep voice, mantra-style in my ear.
The last week has seen a conga-line of quick and easy dinners; including a ripper Spaghetti with white anchovies and capers, from the Bartolini kitchens; and fish wraps with chilli slaw and crunchy noodles. These wraps are one of my 8-year old’s favourite dinners, so I figured it was about time I blogged ‘em. I even have a cheat’s version of this meal up my sleeve, for when we’re on holidays (see tips below the recipe).
Fish and chilli slaw are perfect partners in a wrap. By cooking a bit of extra fish, you can whip up a beautiful kedgeree for dinner the next night. That’s your two recommended fish meals a week sorted!
Kedgeree is a traditional English breakfast dish from colonial India, but it’s also fabulous for dinner; and frankly, I’m not a fan of fish for breakfast anyway. It commonly uses haddock, but it’s a great meal for using up leftover fish of any variety; and is super quick to throw together, particularly as it uses daggy old curry powder, instead of a bunch of different spices. We love it. Oh, the fresh limes are a must, adding a good dash of zing, so don’t omit them.

Fish and chilli slaw wraps[Recipe 1] Fish wraps with chilli slaw and crunchy noodles

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
750g (1½ lb) King George whiting, flathead, gurnard or other firm white fish fillets
¾ cup plain (all-purpose) flour for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Mountain bread wraps or tortillas, to serve
Chilli slaw with crispy noodles, to serve
(plus 1 extra grated carrot for the kedgeree)

Place fish fillets in a large lidded container with the flour. Seal and shake gently to coat. Remove fish, shaking off excess flour. Refrigerate, covered, until required.
Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Fry the fish fillets in batches for about 2–3 minutes each side, until light golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
Reserve 2 cups cooked fish for the kedgeree.
Serve each wrap or tortilla with one or two fish fillets and a good mound of chilli slaw. Roll to enclose, and serve immediately.

  • Reserved cooked fish should be placed in the fridge as soon as it has cooled. It will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.
  • Fussy kid tip: my 5-year old isn’t a fan of coleslaw so I serve his fish wraps with avocado and grated carrot.
  • 5-minute vacation dinner: When we’re away on holidays I mostly stay away from the kitchen. I make a cheat’s version of these wraps with a store-bought pack of pre-chopped coleslaw ingredients and grilled fish fillets from the fish n’ chip shop!

Kedgeree

[Recipe 2] Kedgeree

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 reserved grated carrot
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
2 cups reserved cooked fish, flaked
3 cups cold cooked basmati rice (you’ll need 1 cup uncooked rice*)
1 cup cooked fresh or frozen baby peas
3 hard-boiled eggs
Lime wedges, to serve
Chopped parsley, to serve (optional)

Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion and reserved carrot until the onion is soft and transparent (about 5 minutes); then add the curry powder and tomatoes and stir until fragrant.
Add the reserved fish, cooked rice and peas to the pan. Cook gently for 3–5 minutes, turning frequently with a spatula, until heated through.
Divide kedgeree amongst four serving bowls. Quarter the eggs and arrange on the kedgeree. Serve at once with lime wedges for squeezing.

  • * You’ll get a better result with this dish if you use refrigerated cooked rice. The rice can be cooked up to 2 days in advance, and refrigerated until required. 1 cup uncooked rice yields 3 cups cooked rice. Cooked rice can also be frozen and defrosted overnight in the fridge. Break it up with a fork before using.
  • Rinse your rice well and drain before cooking, if you’re using the absorption method.
  • You can par-boil the tomatoes for peeling in the same pot as your rice. Peeled and de-seeded tomatoes will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Fussy kid tip: you can dial the curry powder up or down according to taste. Children’s portions can be placed in a sieve and rinsed before serving – my 5-year old happily wolfs down rinsed kedgeree!

A pretty penne

[Recipe 1] PENNE ALL’AMATRICIANA transforms into
[Recipe 2] CHICKEN PARMIGIANA
……………..
Our Easter break has been lovely so far. What have you been up to? We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time making Thunderbirds and Lego movies with imotion and yesterday we hung out at the newly restored – and highly recommended – St Kilda Adventure playground. Last weekend we visited Heide (one of my Top Ten Melbourne galleries) for three great exhibitions; Sid Nolan’s early experiments, Albert Tucker’s non-Western art and Louise Bourgeois + ten Australian artists (including Patricia Piccinini whose challenging work always goes down a treat with my boys).
I also dined with a lovely lady friend at Il Solito Posto. It’s a bit of a Melbourne institution and I love it. Simple Italian food; friendly waiters, dim lighting, comfy decor and a great subterranean alley location. My dinner date had Bucatini all’Amatriciana – I’d forgotten how fabulous that dish is! I spied some beautiful bright red Doncaster tomatoes at the local greengrocer last week, so a pot of all’Amatriciana sauce was in order.
Recipe 1 yields two lots of Amatriciana sauce, allowing for planned-overs to be used for Chicken Parmigiana. Crumbed chicken, topped with tomato-based sauce and slathered with molten mozzarella – is there better comfort food than that? An Aussie-style ‘parma’ features a layer of ham. By replacing the traditional sauce with Amatriciana, there is no need for ham though as the sauce is laden with pancetta, and to my mind this is much tastier.
The chicken parma is a much-revered pub meal in Australia. If you live in Melbourne, you must check out parmadaze; which is part of the eparmony network, ‘connecting people with parmigiana’. If there’s a local restaurant or pub serving parma, you can guarantee it will be featured and reviewed meticulously (and hilariously) on this site.

Penne alla matriciana[Recipe 1] Penne all’Amatriciana

Sauce ingredients (makes 2 batches, ie. serves 4 for 2 meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
300g (10½ oz) medium-thickness (about 2mm) pancetta, finely sliced
2 kilos (4½ lb) very ripe tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded, chopped
¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
½–1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato concentrate), if required (see notes in recipe)*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve (serves 4):
400g (14 oz) dried penne
Fresh basil leaves, torn, to serve
Pecorino cheese, grated, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low–medium heat. Cook the onion and pancetta for 10 minutes, until onion is softened and transparent.
Add tomatoes and chilli. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. Season to taste.
*Taste the sauce – it should be rich and flavorsome. If you’ve used tomatoes that aren’t super ripe, you may need to add ½–1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato concentrate); or even a dash of sugar to counter the acidity.
♦ Divide the Amatriciana sauce into two lots of about 2½ cups (600–650g/1.3–1.4 lb) each. Reserve one lot for the Chicken Parmigiana (see Recipe 2 below).
Meanwhile, for tonight’s dinner, cook penne in boiling water until al dente. Drain and return penne to pan.
Add one serve of Amatriciana sauce to the penne, and toss together. Serve, scattered with basil and Pecorino.

  • Pancetta is Italian salted pork belly, available from delicatessens and large supermarkets. If you can find it, guanciale (cured pork cheek) is even tastier, and a more authentic addition to Amatriciana sauce. Substitute for bacon, rind removed, if neither is available.
  • Pecorino is a hard, salty Italian sheep’s milk cheese, also available from delicatessens and large supermarkets. Substitute for Parmesan, if unavailable.
  • Amatriciana sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Chicken parmagiana

[Recipe 2] Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients (serves 4–6*):
3 large skinless chicken breasts (about 750g/1½ lb)
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup dry breadcrumbs, laid out on a plate for coating
♦ 2½ cups (600–650g/1.3–1.4 lb) reserved Amatriciana sauce (see recipe 1)
¼ cup olive oil
50g (1¾ oz) Parmesan (or Grana Padano), grated
150g (5 oz) Mozzarella cheese, grated
Fresh basil leaves, torn, for serving

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Carefully cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally, so you end up with 6 thin pieces. Working with one chicken piece at a time, place between two layers of baking paper and bash crazily with a meat mallet or rolling pin until flattened.
Place salt and flour into a large plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts and shake to coat. Remove from the bag and shake off excess flour.
Dredge the chicken breasts one piece at a time in the egg until well-covered, then coat both sides in breadcrumbs, pressing firmly.
Heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the chicken pieces in two batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Wipe the pan clean and add a little more oil before cooking the second batch. Drain chicken pieces on kitchen paper.
Line a tray with baking paper. Arrange the cooked chicken pieces on the tray, and top with Parmesan.
♦ Spoon the reserved Amatriciana sauce on top, and scatter with mozzarella.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling.
Serve immediately with a simple green salad.

  • Chicken breasts can be crumbed in advance and refrigerated, raw, for up 1 day.
  • Unused mozzarella can be grated and frozen in ziplock bags for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • If you’re pushed for time, you can of course make the Chicken Parmigiana with store-bought napoli sauce, in which case you could lay a thin slice of ham on each chicken breast.
  • *This recipe makes 6 pieces of chicken parmigiana. Leftovers can be reheated the following day, or sliced up and stuffed into a soft bread roll with rocket or baby spinach for lunch. Yummo.

Oh bento! 6 lunchbox ideas.

Melbourne’s first week of Autumn (Fall) has been a stinker – it has been hovering around 35° (95°F), and that’s way higher than my optimal operating temperature of 25°.
It’s the perfect weather for outdoor dining though, and we especially love a good obento picnic. If you’re not familiar with the term, obento (or bento) is the Japanese word for food packed into a partitioned lunchbox. My boys adore bento meals, as they’re high on novelty, and easy to eat (and clean up). They’re also excellent to pack for school or work lunches.
Below are a few of our favourite combinations from the last few months. All the recipes are on the blog. Be warned though – I’m not a bento purist so they’re a bit of a cross-cultural mishmash.
BTW, you can find beautiful lacquered wooden bento boxes, but cheap and cheerful plastic ones are easier to transport. They’re available from the fabulous Daiso, or online from Biome or Little Bento.
PS. I often post lunch ideas such as these on the 1=2 Facebook page, and they don’t always make it to this blog, so do follow me there if you’d like to!

Bento box ideas 1–3Bento box ideas 4–6

OBENTO 1: Tsukune (Japanese teriyaki chicken meatballs)
⅓ quantity tsukune
Blanched asparagus spears, scattered with toasted white sesame seeds
Sushi rice (recipe below), scattered with toasted white sesame seeds
The linked tsukune recipe makes a huge serve of tsukune, about 60 balls in total, essentially three serves of 20 balls. You’ll need one serve (20 balls and ⅔ cup sticky glaze) for 4 bento boxes; approximately 6 tsukune balls per adult and 4 balls per child. I keep them frozen (with their sauce) and defrost overnight, for a super-quick mid-week dinner. Serve warm or at room temperature.

OBENTO 2: Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing
Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing
Pan-fried chicken tenderloins, scattered with toasted black sesame seeds
Pita bread, quartered
The linked salad recipe allows for planned-overs, which can be used for rather nice sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes.

OBENTO 3 (classic bento): Mixed rice sushi hand rolls
Mixed rice sushi hand rolls
Blanched edamame (salted soy beans)
Sliced tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) – recipe below
My mixed rice sushi recipe makes 12 hand rolls plus planned-over rice for onigiri balls (these are great in bento boxes too, or for school lunch boxes). You can also make traditional white rice sushi, using my sushi rice recipe at the bottom of this post.

OBENTO 4: Pulled pork po’boys
Pork po’boys
Home-made BBQ sauce, or store-bought
Puréed apple or apple sauce
Apple slaw
The linked po’boy recipe is Part 2 of a post on slow-cooked pulled pork, which is also fabulous served with caramelised apples (see recipe).

OBENTO 5: Manoushe bi za’atar (mini Lebanese pizzas with za’atar)
Manoushe bi za’atar (Lebanese pizzas with za’atar), made into mini pizzas
Home-made kid-friendly hummus, or store-bought
Carrot and celery crudites
Use my manoushe recipe to make mini pizzas. Cut little rounds of pizza dough, about 7cm (2¾”) in diameter. A full quantity of wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough will yield about 40 mini pizzas (you can make a half serve if preferred). Bake at 220°C (425ºF) for 8–10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!

OBENTO 6: Poached chicken, avocado and asparagus salad
1 serve Poached chicken, avocado and asparagus salad
Steamed corn on the cob
Wholemeal dinner roll
You can make a kid-friendly version of this salad with poached chicken, chopped avocado and grated carrot or carrot sticks. You can even toss in a chopped boiled egg!

RECIPES FOR SUSHI RICE and TAMAGOYAKI (JAPANESE OMELETTE)

Perfect sushi rice
2 cups Japanese white sushi rice, rinsed and drained 3 times
3 cups water
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons Japanese rice wine vinegar
Black or white sesame seeds, toasted, for sprinkling 

This method looks complicated, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s a cinch!
Place rice and water into a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
Bring to the boil. Stir, turn the heat right down, place a piece of foil over the top of the pot and replace the lid. Simmer for 12 minutes. Remove lid and foil, and remove from heat.
Place a clean dry tea towel over the top of the pot and replace the lid. Allow the pot to stand for about 10 minutes – the tea towel will absorb the excess moisture.
Meanwhile, make the rice seasoning liquid by combining sugar, sea salt and rice vinegar.
Place the cooked rice into a large non-metallic container and pour in seasoning liquid. Use a large wooden spoon or rice paddle to carefully ‘slice’ through the rice and distribute the seasoning liquid.
Spread the cooked rice out on a large tray or 2 large plates, and quickly cool it by fanning a plate above it. The rice should become lovely and glossy. Refrigerate for up to 10 hours. Bring to room temperature for about ½ an hour before serving. Scatter with toasted sesame seeds.

  • Draining and rinsing your sushi rice three times seems excessive, but it will prevent your rice from becoming gluggy.
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar is available from large supermarkets and Asian food stores.
  • You can toast the sesame seeds yourself, or cheat and buy them pre-toasted from Asian food stores.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar

Tamagoyaki is a sweet rectangular-shaped omelette. Kids love it, and you can whip it up in minutes! It’s fabulous sliced up in nori handrolls too.
Whisk eggs, mirin, soy sauce and sugar together. Place the mixture into an oiled, non-stick frying pan. Cook until it’s half set. Fold in half with a spatula. Fold top down, and bottom up. Press down, and flip over. Lightly fry the other side. You can roll it up in a sushi mat, pressing hard, for an extra dense omelette; or slice it up as is.

Footnote: Thanks Greatist.com for featuring Obento #2 in your 34 Healthy and Eye-Catching Bento Box Lunch Ideas roundup; and Buzzfeed for sharing Obento #1 in your Mouthwatering lunches to take to work post!

The reel deal

[Recipe 1] PROPER FISH and CHIPS with HOME-MADE TARTARE SAUCE transforms into
[Recipe 2] LOLITA’S TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA (SPANISH POTATO TORTILLA)
……………..
Last week I visited one of my favourite Melbourne food suppliers. If you’re ever choofing down to the Mornington Peninsula, I highly recommend, in fact I insist, you visit the Hutchins Brothers fish merchants. Neville and Dalton Hutchins are 5th generation fishermen, who sell their fresh fish daily, right on Fisherman’s beach in Mornington. You’ll know they’re open for business if their red and yellow sign is out by the side of the road. Descend the steps to the beach, and you’ll spot their blue timber hut, erected in 1910 after the original hut was destroyed in a storm.
The brothers head out onto Port Phillip Bay every morning in their little boat, then sell the day’s catch. I can’t imagine you’d get fresher fish than that anywhere else in Melbourne! The day I visited they had garfish, flathead and Australian salmon on offer. Nothing is wasted as they also sell the fish heads for stock.
I picked up a load of flathead fillets and we cooked up some 
proper fish and chips with home-made tartare sauce. These chips rock. They’re crispy and golden and relatively healthy as they’re baked not fried. The polenta meal adds a nice crunch and gives the chips a faux deep-fried flavour. The home-made tartare sauce honestly takes minutes to make, and it’s a bit of a cheat’s recipe as I use store-bought mayo.
By par-boiling double the potatoes (see tips below), you can make a rather excellent Tortilla Española (Spanish potato tortilla) for dinner the next night. A tortilla is a fab way to use up leftover boiled potatoes. It’s super quick and easy to make and my boys hoover it up. The recipe is adapted from one by my Spanish neighbour, Lolita. Lolita and her family served up this tortilla at our annual neighbour’s Christmas party and it practically teleported me to Barcelona. The husband and I were in Spain years ago, and nothing brings back the memory clearer than a genuine tortilla. Enjoy.

Mornington fish merchantsHutchins Brothers fish merchantsFish with polenta crusted chips. One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Proper fish and chips with home-made tartare sauce

Ingredients for fish (serves 4):
4 x 120g (4 oz) flathead (or other firm white fish) fillets
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Cheat’s tartare sauce, or store-bought tartare sauce, to serve
Fresh dill, for scattering
Ingredients for polenta crusted chips (note: you’ll be reserving ½ the cooked potatoes for the potato tortilla in Recipe 2):
2¼ kilos (5 lb) potatoes (about 12 large), peeled, cut into 2cm (¾”) thick wedges
½ cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons olive oil, mixed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, for coating reserved potatoes
2 tablespoons fine polenta (cornmeal)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).
Place flathead fillets in a plastic bag with the flour. Seal the bag and shake gently to coat. Remove flathead fillets, shaking off excess flour. Refrigerate, covered, until required.
Place cut potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 5–7 minutes, until just tender (be careful not to overcook them). Drain and return potatoes to the dry pan. Shake the pan over a medium heat to roughen and dry the potatoes. Place potatoes on a large plate lined with kitchen paper and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
♦ Reserve half the par-boiled potatoes, about 4 cups, for Lolita’s Spanish tortilla (recipe 2).
To prevent reserved potatoes from turning grey: add the olive oil and lemon juice mixture, and toss to coat well. Store cooked potatoes in the fridge for up to 2 days. Dry well with kitchen paper before using.

Place remaining par-boiled potatoes (for tonight’s chips) into a large bowl. Mix polenta, thyme and salt together and scatter over the potatoes. Toss to coat.
Place peanut oil into a large roasting pan, and heat in the hot oven for about 10 minutes – this is the trick for crispy oven-baked chips!
Very carefully remove the baking pan from the oven. Place potatoes into the hot oil with tongs, gently toss to coat, and return to the hot oven. Bake for 45–55 minutes, turning every 10–15 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the flathead fillets for about 2 to 3 minutes each side, until light golden.
Serve the fish and chips with tartare sauce on the side, and a nice green salad.

  • Planned-overs (par-boiled potatoes), coated in olive oil and lemon juice (see above), can be refrigerated for up to 2 days in a tightly-sealed container.
  • The best potatoes for chips are russet burbank, spunta, sebago and bintke; as they’re floury varieties and have a low moisture content.
  • Peanut oil is best for chips due to its high smoke point (it can sustain high heat without smoking). Vegetable oil is a close second.

Potato tortilla. One Equals TwoSpanish potato tortilla. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Lolita’s Tortilla Española (Spanish potato tortilla)

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
1 cup olive oil (+ extra ½ cup if required)

1 large brown onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
4 cups reserved par-boiled potato pieces, cut into 1½–2cm (½-¾”) cubes
8 large eggs*
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper

Heat 1 cup oil in a large heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a low heat.
Dry reserved par-boiled potato cubes with kitchen paper. Add to the frying pan with the onion, spreading out the pieces to cover the base of the pan. The potato cubes should be almost covered with oil – add the extra ½ cup oil if required.
Fry gently over a low heat confit-style, until softened, but not brown, about 20 minutes. Don’t prod the potatoes too much, just allow them to gently soften in the oil.
Drain potatoes with a large sieve. The oil can be reserved in a large glass jar for re-using next time (see these tips).
Add 1 tablespoon extra olive oil to the pan. Whisk the eggs, salt and pepper, and pour into the pan. Carefully add the potato and onion mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon and spread out the potatoes evenly.
Cook over a low heat for 8–10 minutes. Lift tortilla after 8 minutes – the bottom should be light golden brown, and the middle of the tortilla should be a little runny.
Place your largest dinner plate upside down over the frying pan, and invert the pan to catch the tortilla. This is a messy process, but it works well!
Heat a little more olive oil in the pan and slide the tortilla and any uncooked egg back into the pan, to cook the other side. Fry gently over a low heat for 4 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown and the tortilla is just cooked through.
Remove from the heat and allow tortilla to rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a board, slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

  • *I use a 28cm (11″) frying pan. For a smaller pan, 6 eggs will suffice, and less potato pieces.
  • Leftover tortilla is excellent for breakfast. Lightly re-heat the tortilla in a frying pan and serve thinly sliced with buttered toast, and bacon or grilled tomatoes.

Beachy keen

Two weeks left of the school holidays, and it has been pretty ace. I’ve loved hanging out with the boys, especially knowing that Sid is starting school this year. *sob*
Visited Collingwood Children’s Farm today (god I love that place), and Scienceworks yesterday for their Carnival of Science exhibition – highly recommended if you live in Melbourne.
We had the most blissful week on the beach recently too, at the Mornington Peninsula. Every January we swap houses with my mum and step-dad for a week or two. They love their ‘urban escape’, squeezing in gallery-visits and catching up with their city friends; while we enjoy a glorious week of sun and sand and traipsing through the bush.
Some highlights:
A beach holiday wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a fair and Rye Foreshore Carnival always delivers – carnies, dodgems, sideshow games and rides (check out the gorgeous pigs)!
My 8-year old spotted an echidna while we were bush-walking through beautiful Green’s Bush. It burrowed its head under a small log, and just like a 3-year old playing hide and seek, believed that as it couldn’t see us, we couldn’t see it. We were able to stroke him!
One of my favourite discoveries was an abandoned mini-Europe. I asked around and it’s quite a sad story as the creator died a few years ago. I’m so pleased his legacy has been left alone though, to almost blend into its’ surroundings. I’m a sucker for abandoned places and their stories; some are incredibly sad, while others are just gob-stoppingly mysterious and spooky. If you’re intrigued by them too, you might want to sneak a peek at my Abandoned Places Pinterest board.
I digress, back to the holiday… our favourite beach in the area is Shire Hall beach with the most beautiful row of bathing boxes and crystal-clear water, where we gave our inflatable dinghy, the Explorer 200, a serious workout. We also checked out the surf at Point Leo and enjoyed dinner in mum’s backyard – such a treat sitting under a big tree with a glass of wine as our backyard at home is the size of a postage stamp.
Hope you’re all enjoying the holidays too. Ciao for now.

Holiday2013

Country livin’

It was my birthday last Thursday (don’t ask me my age though – it’s way too depressing). I was a bit of a spoiled brat this year as one of my presents was a family holiday to beautiful Birregurra in the Otways. We got back on Monday, and it was such an ace weekend.
We stayed at King Parrot Cottages with horses, donkeys and alpacas on-site; bush-walking tracks and views to die for. The second photo below is of a bowerbird nest, gleefully discovered by my 8-year old, right behind our cabin. It was an incredible construction; scattered with bright blue things – bottle tops, cigarette lighters, doll parts and food wrappers. That is one dedicated bowerbird, as the scenery was pristine so it would’ve required some serious hunting to find all those treasures. I totally admire such dedication in a collector!
Our boys had a ball; lizard-chasing, kangaroo-spotting and exploring the bush.
We were mainly there though to visit the Birregurra Festival. I LOVE a good country fair and this one was a winner: a woodchop event (blokes in Dunlop Volleys and white pants – corrrr – hacking into log chunks), dog-jumping, farm equipment displays, animals everywhere (including camels!) and so many stalls selling local produce, home-made chutneys, relishes and cakes. Heaven.
We had some fab food. The lovely ladies in my photo below were whipping up spinach gözleme at a furious pace. The Vietnamese coleslaw was fantastic too.
Birregurra itself is such a pretty country town, all awnings and timber shopfronts. The General Store, an unassuming-looking milk bar, serves up perfect coffee, killer hamburgers and amazing lahm bi ajeen (Lebanese lamb pizzas – photo below), drizzled with lemon juice and fresh chilli. We make these at home quite often, with planned-overs from this lamb pilaf. Will provide the recipe soon!
So, I’m still on a high after such a lovely break. Finding it hard to concentrate at work. *sigh*

Birregurra holiday