My friends and I started a tradition nearly ten years ago of the “Scone Off”. I don’t think I was even involved in the original heated discussion over whether lemonade scones were better than traditional scones, but somehow I got drawn in to a competition of who could cook the best scones.
The inaugural Scone Off was inappropriately held in the middle of Summer, on the hottest day of the year, in a small apartment with a tiny galley kitchen that more resembled a sauna by the end of the afternoon. Three contestants cooked three scones each; plain, savoury and sweet.
The judges, our partners and one impartial ring-in, took their tasting very seriously. Scorecards were produced with judging categories including taste, texture, appearance and presentation. That year the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union cookbook provided the guidance for the winning scone. It didn’t rise as well as the lemonade scone, but it was light, golden and tasted just like a nanna would make, so it took out the prize. I came second that year, let down by a batch of burnt bottoms.
Over the years I’ve never won, though one year we got sick of scones and changed it to a Pizza Off and switched contestants. My husband’s pizza won, so I won by proxy (right?!). This year, I was determined to produce a winning scone because a) I now have a food blog, I should be able to cook a scone and b) I now live in the country, I should be able to cook a bloody scone! Continue Reading
The first rays of spring sun have started streaming through my windows. Like a cat, I’ve found myself moving around our back room, basking in the warmth, following the sun as it makes its journey across the sky. At just about the right time for lunch, the sun hits my dining room table and makes it an exceptionally pleasant place to be. It’s made even more lovely, as many things are, with a flavoursome plate of pasta and a crisp white wine. Continue Reading
I have lifestyle envy of Ann Mah. She is a food and travel writer and published author who divides her time between Paris and New York with her diplomat husband and delightful baby. She’s lived all over the world and written about her food experiences in China, Italy, and most extensively, France. Last year her memoir of eating her way around France was published, and I enjoyed reading it in the final weeks of my pregnancy when I was doing a lot of eating but not a lot of travelling. Ann’s fridge is similar to mine right now, full of half-eaten bits of baby food, but she also has a genius trick for keeping ginger fresh that I’m totally stealing. Read on to take a peek inside an international food writer’s fridge.
Due to a technical glitch, the email announcing this week’s post did not go out. Which means you may have missed a bright pink jar of pickles! If your burgers, tacos or sandwiches need a little pick-me-up, take a look at this recipe for Quick Pickled Radishes.
Here’s how I’ve used the pickles this week:
- Sliced and added to a salad of raw kale, grated carrot, currants and walnuts with a lemon and maple syrup dressing
- Added to a crusty baguette spread with mustard and layered with ham and swiss cheese
- Included on a rather boring cheese platter to add a bit of pizzaz
If radishes were in a beauty pageant, they’d nail the looks category. They’re truly beautiful vegetables with their vibrant, hot pink skin, china-doll white flesh and ruffly green leaves. But when it comes to the talent portion of the evening, the judges may shift uncomfortably in their seats as Miss Radish struggles to prove her versatility.
Radishes are most commonly eaten raw. The French love them with a thick spread of expensive unsalted butter and a touch of sea salt, making them the easiest, prettiest hors d’oeuvre ever. Radishes can add a mustardy crunch to salads and will look stunning sliced thinly on top of a fish taco. But unless you’re making a lot of fish tacos, you’re unlikely to use a whole bunch of radishes in one sitting. And then you’re left with at least a few pink spheres rolling around in your vegetable drawer, destined to lose their crunch.
Making a batch of quick pickles will help extend the life, and the usefulness, of that bunch of radishes, which is sure to impress those pageant judges. Continue Reading
Dark, glossy greens are good for you. I think they’re even better when served with a generous portion of carbs and a heavy-handed dose of cheese. My new house has a vegetable garden thoughtfully planted out by the previous owners. We have rows of kale, silverbeet and rainbow chard and this gorgeous greenery is making its way into many meals. This one is my favourite. It’s a meaty green dish, the kind that slips in the vegetables without you feeling deprived of anything more substantial. The secret is anchovies. Continue Reading
My oven and I are getting to know each other. We’re in the early stages of a potentially long-term relationship, and, to be honest, it’s not going so well.
I tried to ignore the fact that this new oven is a third of the size of my old one. Size isn’t everything, right? And its cooktop is electric. Julia Child had an electric stove! But this oven runs hot and fast, and it shoots cold air out of a vent that is at the exact height of my bum when I’m preparing food at the bench opposite it. I mean, that’s just rude!
Braving a cold rear, I wanted to share a dessert with the oven. A light, fluffy dessert that would really test this fledging relationship.
I have no recipe to share this week, even though I have a brand new kitchen to play with! Our house move was a success and after spending the last week working out how to effectively use the wood fire to heat the house, and how to get Charlotte, the chicken that came with the house, to like us, I’m a bit pooped. But between the beautiful morning light that streams into the kitchen and the plentiful vegetable garden five steps from my back door, I won’t be out of the kitchen long. In the meantime, here’s some things that have inspired me this week.
- Spin Spin’s tea towels are bright and fun, and would look ace in my new kitchen. I doubt I can resist the two-for-one special on now…
- Vegetable inspired wallpaper!
- I think this is a nice summary of steps to becoming a better cook
- Eat This My Friend’s Simple Turkish Eggs will happen when Charlotte the chook starts laying again
- Reading what The Canal House cooks for lunch makes me want summer to arrive. Their cook books are lovely, and Canal House Cooks Every Day is on my birthday wishlist
- Also making me long for summer: the genius behind Momofuku Milk Bar chats about strawberries with The New York Times
- Have you seen Food Curated’s videos? They’re lovely little profiles of food people. This guy really loves bread and butter (a man after my own heart)
- Not food related, but Adam France’s Crafting for a Cause is remarkably imaginative and mesmerising (via The Design Files)
A roast chicken has become a common occurrence in my house. I can start it before Nell’s night time routine and it’s done by the time she’s settled. It also gives me lunch the next day, and the start of stock which carries me forward to other meal ideas. I’ve been trying a few roast chicken recipes to see which one give me the most tender meat with the crispiest, tastiest skin, and I’ve settled on Ina Garten’s aptly named Perfect Roast Chicken. I usually use olive oil to give the chook a good layer of fat pre-cooking, but Ina uses melted butter. The result is crispier, more golden brown skin that wraps around perfectly tender, juicy breast. Delectable.
Since the roast chook has been on high rotation, I’ve been considering its flexibility. It’s a trans-seasonal staple that can be served hot or cold and is happy to be paired with any old thing from crisp, bright salads to luscious, sweet roasted vegetables. I’ve decided to challenge myself to share a roast chicken recipe for each season over the next year. I want it to celebrate the produce of the season and reflect the current mood of the sun as it streams in my kitchen window. It will take me a year to rotate around, following the sun and the seasonal produce to produce four roast chook recipes. Continue Reading
Today I am moving house. Everything is packed and in the process of getting onto the truck to move a few streets down the road. We moved to Kyneton as an experiment in slower living, and because it was an experiment we moved into a rental, so we could up sticks if we hated it. But in the last 18 months we’ve connected with the community and vibe of the town and couldn’t imagine leaving, so, we bought our first country home. So excited! Fittingly, my take on moving to the country and Kyneton living is being featured on The Countryphiles today. You can see my kitchen (my old kitchen as of today!) and read about my move to the country.
Read the story on The Countryphiles.