12 weeks ago my previous existence was thrown up into the air with the birth of baby Nell, and it’s now slowly resettling in a different configuration. My hair (and the rest of me, to be honest) doesn’t get washed as often, I now go down the baby aisle of the supermarket and my approach to cooking has simplified even further.
When time and available hands are restricted, good quality ingredients and big flavours come to the fore. I find myself buying interesting or strong flavoured ingredients to base a meal around, using pantry staples, frozen homemade stock and home-grown tomatoes, lettuce and herbs to fill it out. Halloumi and feta make simple salads more flavoursome, and having a bowl of cooked grains like quinoa, cous cous or freekeh in the fridge means the start of a meal is already done.
Using the produce of the season will help a simple meal pack a flavour punch. Fig trees are currently heavy with fruit, and I’m not one to miss an opportunity to relish the soft, deep purple and crimson sweetness on offer.
It’s the time of year when Summer is hiccuping out the door as Autumn stumbles in. Both seasons exist at once, with chilly mornings developing into glorious sunshine and days flip flop between warming soup or cooling salad weather. What better way to bridge the seasons than a salad full of earthy flavours and autumnal delights. Continue reading →
I found Sam’s blog, Le Pirate, when I was living in New York. She’d written a series of posts on NYC that read like my typical weekend. She’d visited my local cheese shop, stopped by a couple of my favourite neighbourhood cafes and eaten gelati at a place that would woo me onto the L train on a hot night to sample their flavours. This girl had good taste! Turns out she’s Australian, and is currently living in Byron Bay, one of the most beautiful and bountiful regions of our country. Sam writes about food in a passionate, colourful and lyrical way that inspires me to not only cook, but to pay attention to how the food I’m serving affects my mood, my day and my outlook on life. I’m sure you’ll be inspired by her beautiful writing too.
When Amelia asked me to guest post for her blog I was touched beyond comprehension. How couldn’t I be? She writes about food in a way that just resonates with me – and with anyone who sees that good food and minimal fuss walk hand in hand.
Amelia’s approach to cooking is refreshingly straightforward. There’s nothing tricky going on. She does what every cook ought to do more – take the freshest seasonal produce available, and dress it as simply as possible. As such, creating beautiful meal becomes as effortless as throwing a ball into the air. Amelia is acutely aware that a fresh radish needs little more than a liberal dab of good butter and salt. That food is only as good as the company you share it with, or indeed the memories that you share with it. She gets that homesickness has a taste (and of course that taste is avocado and Marinated Goats Cheese smothered across sourdough) and that there’s never a bad time for a handful of fresh herbs. It’s a less is more philosophy, and I dig it.
Like Amelia, I’m currently embarking on an experiment in slower living. We (my lover and I) are currently inhabiting a house on what was once a dairy farm, tucked up in the outskirts of Byron Bay. This place – this region – lives and breathes food, which for a person like me, who lies awake consumed with the thought of what I’ll eat for breakfast, is like living in a place where every single day is Christmas.
Louisa is one half of Shuki and Louisa, a producer of Middle Eastern specialties, based in Melbourne, Australia. We met on a cold morning at the Woodend Farmers Market when we recognised each other from our blogs, and realised we were both having babies around the same time. Once a month I stock up on some of Shuki and Louisa’s delicious hummus and babaganoush, which are both creamy and perfectly seasoned. If you’re in Melbourne, you can taste them for yourself at Coburg, Flemington, Woodend and other famers markets. Check out their Facebook page for more info, and enjoy this simple and tasty Middle Eastern recipe.
Hi there! I’m Louisa from Shuki and Louisa, taking over the reins of Amelia’s delightful blog, just for this week. I met Amelia a few months back at a farmers market, where I sell home made dips and I was stoked when she asked me to contribute a recipe to Simple Provisions.
The recipe I’ve chosen to share features one of the dips we make; hummus. I’ve not shared the actual recipe for hummus, not out of caginess but because I honestly belive that how you like your hummus is up to you! So either make it yourself with just the right amount of lemon and garlic, or buy a great one from your local store.
So what I am going to show you how to do is make a great appetiser/party dish with a lovely tub of hummus. It’s basically crisp, spiced lamb mince on hummus. There’s two important things here though, you need to make sure you hummus is not fridge cold. Like cheese, hummus is best served at room temperature, so store it in the fridge but take it out half an hour before you want to eat. Also, you need to make sure the lamb mince is good and crisp. This means careful stirring, breaking up and watching as you brown the mince. Then, you’ll achieve a nice textural contrast between the creamy, smooth hummus and the crisp lamb. Continue reading →
All year I set aside jars that we’ve emptied of their jams, olives, relishes or whatever and store them away for preserving and pickling season. By December I have more empty jars in my pantry than full, which is excellent as it means I have a stash ready to fill with Christmas presents.
This year I’ve ordered a leg of ham which will be served at brunch on Christmas Day. The best thing about Christmas ham is the sandwiches it inspires on Boxing Day. And no ham sandwich would be complete without some chutney. Our tomato plants are still a month or two off developing ripe and juicy fruit, so I went on the hunt for a chutney recipe that took advantage of other in-season fruit. 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 →
Cooking is naturally a tactile experience, where hands and fingers get busy touching, transforming, testing and arranging. There’s a lot of chopping and stirring, squeezing and shaking, but it’s quite rare that massaging is involved.
Perhaps when you’re marinating meat you’ll give it a good rub to evenly distribute the marinade. And you could argue that kneading dough calls on masseuse-like skills. Both these processes are designed to ensure the best possible conditions for maximum flavour and the right texture. Which is exactly what massaging kale leaves is all about. Continue reading →