Have you got your Christmas presents sorted yet? If there’s a food-loving person in your family, or you’ve been asked what you would like in your stocking this Christmas, and you need some inspiration, here’s some of my favourite things for food lovers this year.
For more inspiration, check out The Good Stuff Guide. Every year Pip from Meet Me At Mikes produces a guide full of gift ideas, recipes and craft for the holidays. This year I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute and provided a wishlist of items to complement our summery Aussie Christmas.
It’s Thanksgiving in America on Thursday. A time when people criss-cross the country, catching trains and planes to be with their family in order to sit down for a meal and simply give thanks. There’s no special candy, outlandish decorations or presents to buy, there’s just good food and loved ones. I appreciate the simplicity of it, and even though it’s not a holiday in Australia, I like to get in the spirit and use this time of year to reflect, be grateful and celebrate the produce of the season.
Traditional Thanksgiving ingredients like sweet potatoes, cranberries and apples are long gone from my local farmers market. Instead I have an array of bright green vegetables, crispy radish, spring lamb and fresh herbs to work with. It’s a fresh palate of colour and flavour that is a welcome relief from the winter produce, and therefor more than worthy of giving thanks for. Continue reading →
Medjool dates have become a regular in my fridge lately. These middle eastern fruits boast soft, sticky flesh and a flavour that is a sweet mix of honey and caramel. They’re lovely as a snack by themselves, but are just as comfortable adding a rich sweetness to other dishes.
I’ve been including them in my Bircher Muesli mix, where the overnight soaking plumps them up and renders them almost fudge-like. I’ve also made several batches of these Choco-Almond Truffles that get all their sweetness from the dates, but taste like real chocolate truffles. Dates make a banana smoothie extra sweet, can provide some texture to a cheese board and are delightful in a tagine.
Without too much effort, they can be pimped out with complimentary middle-eastern flavours to create a snack or dessert that is relatively healthy, and looks positively pretty.
Side dishes can make a good meal great. They are the supporting actors to a well-prepared piece of meat, which, if performing well, can hog the spotlight. But paying attention to what best supports the star can turn a meal from B-grade to award winning.
It’s that time of year when side dishes become more than an after thought. Thanksgiving and Christmas provide a great excuse to focus on all parts of the meal. If you’ve already started thinking about your festive menus, I highly recommend including a plate of Smashed Lemon Potatoes.
Having a packet or two of fancy, dried pasta in the pantry is a lovely way to make an old favourite sauce more interesting. If I’m in an Italian deli or a good market and come across some interesting dried pasta shapes, I’ll pick a couple I haven’t tried before and store them away, ready to make a Tuesday quickie dinner less boring.
This week I found a packet of maccheroni al ferro, a hand-rolled, tube-like pasta that does a great job of gripping onto sauce with it’s rolled edge. Pesto would go well with it, but my basil plant did not survive a late frost last week, making the promise of fragrant, summery pasta a little farther away. Instead I paired the maccheroni with a more seasonally appropriate mix of broccoli and bacon. Continue reading →
It’s picnic weather, and in Melbourne we kick off the season with horse racing. On Tuesday, Melbournians get a day off work to sip champagne, wear their glad rags, tuck a form guide under their arm and put their annual bet on the Melbourne Cup.
For those of us not at the racecourse, BBQs will be wrenched from their winter hibernation and rugs will be laid out on lawns, ready to kickoff a season of outdoor eating that runs through to March. It’s time for picnic food.
Chicken wings are a crowd pleaser, and go so well with a frosty beer or a tall glass of bubbles. But many chicken wing recipes require overnight marinating in a complicated mix of sauces, and/or a terrifyingly hot pan of oil for frying. Both seem like too much effort. This recipe requires no prep and no frying, but results in a tray of deeply golden, tangy, slightly spicy wings that will complete any picnic spread. Continue reading →
Our local farmers’ market rotates through four towns in the Macedon region. Two locations are handy to home, one is farther but in such a pretty location that it makes the trip worth it, and the other is just that bit too far to justify ploughing the freeway for. Which leaves one weekend per month where my pantry is the sole source of my Saturday lunch.
A pantry stocked with a variety of tinned goods, paired with a fridge of brighteners like capers and fresh herbs, will always provide an honest meal. Tinned sardines is one of my favourite store cupboard staples. This under-utilised, oily fish is rich in omega-3s which means it’s great for you and can be gussied up to taste delicious, even if you’re not a fan of strong fish flavours. Continue reading →