It’s the depths of winter in Kyneton and I’m struggling. Winter seems awfully long this year, which is perhaps a result of me having two summers in a row preceding it, or that I’ve moved to a part of the world that inherits its weather from a small, cold, cloud-loving mountain. My Instagram and Pinterest feeds are full of North American summer cocktails, fruit, lake houses and sandals, making me long for warmer climes. Which is how I ended up making one of my favourite summer night dishes in July: soba noodles with smoked salmon, avocado and mirin dressing.
On most Saturdays, a fresh, crusty loaf of sourdough bread appears in my kitchen. With it comes the promise of thick slices of toast slathered in jam, crusty bases for a golden array of scrambled eggs or a platform for melting cheese. It seems impossible, given these options, that I don’t devour it entirely in a day. But sometimes, the weekend comes and goes and leaves behind a hard heel of bread, recoiling in a crumpled paper bag at the end of the bench. This is when I’m most excited, because it means I have a key ingredient that cannot be purchased in a store: stale bread.
A frugal kitchen finds a use for all odds and ends, with ends turning into beginnings of new meals. Stale bread makes excellent croutons for soups or salads and breadcrumbs that can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a month. But on these mid-winter days that are only briefly acquainted with sunlight, and are quickly enveloped in dense fog or frost, I like to turn my stale bread into soup.
Breakfast isn’t often sophisticated. It can be satisfying, sure. Or hearty. Maybe even a treat. But sophisticated isn’t a word that gets used for breakfast regularly. It is, however, the correct term to describe this dish when presenting it to your mum this Sunday for Mother’s Day.
It’s a very simple recipe, but don’t let that fool you. This plate is full of texture and dances a fine line between savoury and sweet. With persian flavours and several surprising elements, it is both interesting and delicious to eat as well as beautiful to look at. Continue reading →
Lentils are the most easy going of the dried legumes stored in my pantry. They don’t require soaking, so I don’t have to intuit that I’d like to eat them the day before I crave them. And they’re quick to cook, only taking about 20 minutes compared to the long slow boil that others in the family prefer. Lentils are not fussy about what they’re paired with, happy bulking up a salad or providing a base for juicy meats. Thoroughly versatile ingredients like this are worth their space in my store cupboard.
Turning a head of cauliflower into a tray of roasted, golden, gently spiced florets happens often in my kitchen during the cooler months. I use the caramelised flavour and interesting texture as a base for warm salads, pastas, soups, or just for eating directly from the tray, preferably with a beer in hand.
Preserving food at the end of Summer requires respect for tomorrow’s hunger. The effort of chopping up fruit, sterilising jars and dabbling in science to capture the sweetness of the season brings no immediate gratification. But when the chill of the evening air takes your breath away and the sun is keeping its distance, a twist of a lid to reveal a soft peach or sticky jam is heavenly.
This week I found myself with a tomato glut, ripe for my future cravings. Continue reading →
Sometimes good cooking starts with space. Space in the weekend to experiment, to plan ahead, prepare and store. It requires mental space too. Some time away from to do-lists and social events to allow thoughts of nourishment and nurture to come to the fore. When cooking is approached from this space, it is more expansive and often more wholesome. And in this case, it’s a lot more ugly.
Last weekend I made bone broth, a rich stock made by slow cooking bones and veggies for many hours until I had a cauldron of thick, gelatinous, boney soup. Sounds awful! But when strained, this stock is a deeply nourishing elixir that can be consumed as a simple, warming broth or used like any other stock as the base of a soup, to cook grains like quinoa, to braise vegetables or for gravy.