A big, informal pie, one with an unfussy crust and a richly flavoured filling, is always a crowd pleaser. The crunch of a spoon breaking through pastry, a veil of steam briefly shrouding the pie before revealing a creamy centre is not only satisfying to watch, but also to hear. A spoonful of chicken and leeks topped with a jaunty piece of crust is a welcome addition to any buffet plate. Which the 14 people who snuggled into my kitchen on a crisp Autumn afternoon to share an Easter feast will attest to.
Recently a friend reminded me of a dish I used to serve up very regularly. If you came to my house for dinner circa 2006, it is highly likely you ate this dish. It had all the elements required for a casual dinner party; simple ingredients, no real recipe required, easily expandable to feed a few extra, quick to prepare, and impressive enough to serve to guests. My friend liked it so much that after only a brief explanation of how to cook it, it went into heavy rotation in her house and is still going strong. And now it’s made a comeback in my kitchen.
Placing a hot, steaming baking dish in the middle of a table with a big serving spoon is my idea of a good time. I like starting a communal meal with the shared experience of passing plates around the table, arms reaching over to scoop large servings of something delicious, wine glasses clinking as they’re shuffled around making room for the salad bowl to do a lap of the table. An atmosphere is created; an open, casual one of giving and receiving, setting the tone for the conversation to follow.
Next week is my last week in New York City. I’m in the process of packing up my little apartment and sending everything home to Australia where I will join it in September after travelling down the West Coast of America (ROAD TRIP! Sightseeing suggestions welcome…).
New York is a city that changes you. It becomes a character in your story that exerts its influence whether you like it or not. New York made me focus. It made me prioritise what was important in my life, because there is no way you can do everything it offers. I was quite surprised to find that my priorities included simple, uncontrived things: cooking, friends, family, nature. The antithesis to a pulsating metropolis.
When I’ve told seasoned New Yorkers that I’m leaving, a look of pity crosses their faces and they nod in an understanding way. “You couldn’t take the pace”, they state, implying that they are made of tougher stuff than I. They may be right. Or I just miss home, the ocean, and stars. And a slower pace of life. And Melbourne coffee shops. I have loved my time here and will miss the convenience, the culture and the variety of people and experiences I encountered every day. Those interactions will stay with me as I head home to a wide open sky.
I’ll still be blogging while I’m travelling, though not as often as I have been. Here’s to new adventures! Continue reading →
Being in hospital is no fun. But coming home can also be a (literal) pain. Especially when you’re away from family. My friend and fellow ex-pat is coming home from hospital tomorrow and I’m the Responsible Adult picking her up. I take this role very seriously, and have prepared a little care package for her first night back home. Unexpected food gifts are always received with delight, which makes cooking them even more special.
The key ingredients for a spectacular (or at least comfortable) recovery are:
Chicken soup – Chicken soup for a sick person? I know – not revolutionary, but it’s warm, full of protein, easy to digest and makes you feel like your mum is around even if she isn’t.
Bread – CARBS! Close friends will attest to my craving for KFC chips when I’m sick (the shame!). But a fresh mini baguette will also provide the carb comfort required and help mop up the last of the soup.
Chocolate – The very definition of comfort. Especially Australian chocolate for this homesick Sydney-sider.
Magazines – A good supply of glossies keeps the mind focussed on beautiful things, and provides an alternative should the end of the Netflix queue ever be reached.
This chicken soup recipe is a good one. It’s really chickeny, naturally, but it also has a warmth and depth of flavour thanks to the cumin, coriander seed and cinnamon. The chickpeas stand in for the more traditional noodles, and give a very satisfying bite to the soup.