dear…

the sun out my front door

dear sun,

thanks for coming out and shooing the rain away. It feels like forever since I’ve seen you! can you hang around all Autumn?

dear Jay,

hurry up and come home…

dear lemon zest,

I’m going to give you a miss for a while, because you didn’t go so well in my salad and you’ve been repeating on me all morning and I don’t feel so good…

dear Rob,

I hope your new hip is awesome & that Gracie is taking good care of you. also, please don’t give your old hip to Nate to chew..that’s truly disgusting.

dear people who steal borrow my recycling bin,

please stop it. it’s driving me freaking insane! then I have to “borrow” someone else’s for the week. and I bet that makes them crazy too.

dear Mum,

thanks for being my person. and thanks for giving me sage advice even when I think I don’t need it. and thanks for buying me those two little rugs in Perth which are half the price of what I’d pay here in Sydney!

dear Elly,

thanks for being an awesome hairdresser. my hair looks 100% better now, which makes me feel better! see you in 6 weeks!

dear Prince William and Princess Catherine,

along with the other 2 billion people around the world I watched your beautiful wedding on TV. It was so touching it brought a tear or two to my eye…I wish you the very best and hope you have a beautiful life together!

source: news.ninemsn.com.au

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in my kitchen | flamming french failure

I had been looking forward to the Jacksons coming over for dinner at our new place for weeks! I spent a good portion of what should have been working hours thinking about what I’d make; tossing up back and forth between Italian and French (my two favourite cuisines). I decided on French because Jay bought me a crème brûlée set for Christmas (a cool kitchen blow torch and four Gordon Ramsey dishes) and I hadn’t ever attempted making one myself (although I eat it at any restaurant I visit!). I should have gone with Italian.

The Menu

Entree: Cauliflower soup with crispy bacon, porcini mushrooms & bread crumbs
Main: chicken braised with white wine, cream & thyme served with green beans and roast herbed potatoes
Dessert:  crème brûlée with icecream

Monday was a public holiday, so I got up early and while watching the ANZAC remembrance on TV, I started making the crème brûlée. I made 6 in total (2 for testing) and they were progressing perfectly (cream custard mix was divine and the cooking and cooling went well) and the test brûlées tasted amazing! It was only when dinner came around and the blow torch broke down and I had to cook them under the grill that it all fell apart. I burnt them, then scraped off the burnt top, re-chilled them and grilled the them again but the custard had warmed too much and although they tasted nice, they became a warm custard pudding with toffee tops…..

Crème Brûlée – recipe by Donna Hay

  • 1 ltr single pouring cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced length ways and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • extra caster sugar for the top (2 tsp per brûlée)
crème brûlée - ready to set
crème brûlée ready for torching
the disastrous crème brûlée

I love warm soup on a cold day. Its rained every year on memory over Easter and this year was the same. Actually, it’s still raining now!

I didn’t follow a recipe for this Cauliflower soup, but here are the ingredients:

Cauliflower Soup with crispy bacon, croutons & porcini

  • 1 head of cauliflower, stems removed & cut into florets
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup single pouring cream
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms; rehydrated
  • 4 slices lean bacon, diced
  • 2 slices bread (sour dough preferred), finely diced or blitzed in the food processor
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt & pepper

*tip: you’ll require a big saucepan for this

Cook onion over medium heat til translucent (careful not to brown), add in garlic and cook for a 30 seconds (or until fragrant). Add the cauliflower, stock and water and simmer for 20 mins (or until cauliflower is tender).

Meanwhile, over medium heat fry off bacon for a few minutes then add in bread and porcini and fry til crispy (about 3-5 mins). Take off heat and put to the side til ready for serving.

Pour soup into a blender or use a handheld blender with a heat attachment to blitz directly in the pot. Add in cream, season to taste. Serve in a bowl garnished with bacon mixture!

cauliflower soup with crispy bacon, croutons & porcini bits

This soup was tasty and turned out well, unlike my main & dessert….

Chicken braised with white wine, cream & thyme served with green beans and roast herbed potatoes

Chicken recipe from Delicious Magazine

  • 4 large chicken marylands, bone attached, trimmed of excess fat & skin
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cut into 4cm lengths, quartered
  • 8 eschalots, halved
  • 1/2 small bunch thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup pure thin cream
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 10g unsalted butter, softened

Veggies

  • 12 baby chat potatoes, par-boiled
  • mixed herbs
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 500g green beans

For the chicken; place in large deep frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and fry chicken skin-side down til golden brown (3-4 mins). Turn over and continue for 2 mins. Remove and stand on paper towel to soak up excess oil. Carefully pour off fat from pan, clean with paper towel. Return chicken to the pan with carrot, eschalot, thyme, garlic and wine. Place over high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce to low heat, cover and braise for 30 mins. This can also be cooked in a 180°C oven. After 30 mins, add cream, cayenne pepper and season with salt & pepper. Continue to cook for 15-20 mins until chicken is succulent and falling off the bone. Remove chicken & veggies with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
Combine flour & butter in a small bowl to form a paste (called a rue) then whisk into sauce. Simmer for 1-2 mins to cook out the flour taste. Serve over chicken & veggies.

This would have all worked out well if I didn’t add in a purple carrot….I just wasn’t thinking!

ingredients
looks good now...the purple bastard carrots haven't ruined me yet!

For the roast potatoes and green beans, take the par-boiled potatoes and crush with your thumb*, toss in a bowl with olive oil and mixed herbs. Bake in a 200° oven for 20-30 mins til crispy & golden. (*you smash with your thumb to create more edges for crispiness. A Jamie Oliver tip!)

5 mins before serving, add green beans to salted boiling water for 2 minutes.

the disappointment! the chicken is purple!

So as you can see, purple chicken and warm custard = disaster!  At least Ian and Janine didn’t seem overly phased. After they left Jay gave me a big cuddle and reassured me it all tasted nice. It just didn’t look that good!

I knew I should have gone with Italian….but at least the wine was good!

Vin

in my kitchen | sun-dried tomato, prawn & rocket linguine

My husband doesn’t like prawn dishes (though he’ll eat them pink, boiled & briny the way you buy them from the shop), so getting him to eat something ‘prawny’ is notoriously difficult.

Last week during a work lunch with my engineers I had a really delicious prawn linguine. I immediately wrote down the ingredients (from what I could see/taste) to emulate at home.

I made it for dinner on Easter Sunday and imagine my delight when Jay said he loved it!

Here is my sun-dried tomato, prawn and rocket linguine:

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 16 green (uncooked) prawns; peeled & deveined
  • 2 small eschallots (French onions); finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic;  grated
  • 1 long birds-eye chilli; deseeded to taste & finely chopped
  • handful of sun-dried tomatoes in oil; drained & sliced
  • handful of flat leaf parsley; roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of baby rocket
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2-3 tbs sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 servings of linguine (fresh pasta is best, but dried is fine); cooked til al dente
  • third-cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • seasoning (salt & pepper)
  • wedge of lemon to serve
fresh peeled prawns
the other ingredients

Method:

In a large saucepan, boil water, add pinch of salt then add linguine and simmer til al dente (follow packet instructions but usually 8-10 mins).

In a large fry pan, heat olive oil over medium heat then add eschallots, garlic and chilli and cook til onion is translucent (3-5 mins). Add in prawns and cook stirring occasionally til slightly pink (again 3-5 mins). Add in sun-dried tomatoes and parsley then turn off the heat.

in the pan

Drain linguine (once done) and add into the prawn mixture. Stir through sun-tomato pesto and rocket leaves. Season to taste.

Divide among serving bowls, sprinkle over Parmesan and serve with wedge of lemon.

sun-dried tomato, prawn & rocket linguine

Bon appetito!

brothers in arms

From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobsons Bay,
Each native-born Australian son,
Stands straighter up today.

And with Australia’s flag shall fly
A spray of wattle bough,
To symbolise our unity,
We’re all Australians now.

Excerpt from ‘We’re all Australians Now’ by Banjo Paterson

ω

Lest we forget.

photo source: The Australian

find our more about our ANZAC tradition and what it means to all Australians & New Zealanders here

i’m currently…

Reading:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; I’m only a third of the way through but so far it’s a beautiful story of loss, adventure and love…

Listening to:

Nicki Minaj‘s album Pink Friday. She’s so totally cool! I love ‘Moment 4 Life’ and ‘Your Love’ whose music video is like an Ang Lee epic fight to the death! So brilliantly artistic!

Hungry for:

this mousaka recipe I saw on Curtis Stone’s Take Home Chef that I’m going to try out (I even got the most beautiful deep shiny purple eggplant from the side-of-the-road stall yesterday on my way home from Mum’s!)

Doing this long (Easter & ANZAC) weekend:

sleepover at my friend Tam’s with her two little girls, chasing Harley down the beach while he’s running after horses, getting my nails done, walking down Glebe Point Rd with no-one in sight, watching a James Bond marathon on Fox Classics, eating Lebanese food (yum!), lavishing my husband with praise for being the best fix-it-man ever!,  dropping Mum to the airport, cooking a French dinner party for Jay, Ian & Janine, paying tribute to those who gave their life for our freedom, dropping Jay to the airport & baking.

string of lights

Wasn’t it easier in your firefly-catchin’ days?
And everything out of reach, someone bigger brought down to you
Wasn’t it beautiful runnin’ wild ’til you fell asleep?
Before the monsters caught up to you?

…Lives change like the weather
I hope you remember
Today is never to late to
Be brand new

picture found on Flickr
lyrics by Taylor Swift

love, betrayal and what lies in between

Last night my friend Mands & I went to see a “Girls Night Out” premier screening of Something Borrowed; the new rom-com starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson.

I just want to say that this isn’t a movie review, but my thoughts on the subject matter.

I love Kate Hudson playing a bitchy, self-obsessed character (think Bride Wars) and she’s pretty good in this movie, but the star is definitely Ginnifer Goodwin who plays the protagonist Rachel; a lawyer who always lets her best friend Darcy (Hudson) win in every aspect of their friendship. Darcy is engaged to Dex (played by Colin Egglesfield) who is (reluctantly) a fellow lawyer, Rachel’s college friend and almost-boyfriend. John Krasinski plays her good mate Ethan the budding writer and her voice of reason when she sleeps with Dex.

From a glance the movie is superficially a romantic-comedy, but it’s not your average take on the genre. People who have read the book by Emily Griffin will know it’s not your usual recipe for chick-lit.

We’re always programmed to hate the cheater but because the story is told from her point of view you sympathize with Rachel’s moralistic stray, betrayal and subsequent ethical dilemma between her feelings and what is perceived as right and wrong.

The message of infidelity hit home to me; considering both the short and long term consequences. As an adult, I experienced the breakdown of my parents marriage due to my Dad’s infidelity. It’s hard not to take sides when you’re a spectator and even harder when you’re baked right into the center of the drama. It took a really long time for my Mum to get over his betrayal, but now she’s remarried and happier than she’s ever been in her life. She married the most wonderful man who treats her both like a partner and a princess. On the other side of the fence, 9 years on and my father is still with the woman he left my Mum for. While I won’t ever condone what he did and the way in which he went about it, maybe this woman was the right person for him and it was unfortunate that he’d been married for 25 years at the time he met her.

After all the pain, it’s apparent that the path their life was on wasn’t the correct one for either my Mum or Dad. They were each other’s collateral.

They are now happy.

They are living their true life.

I guess it goes to show that no matter what our best intentions are, who we try to protect (whether its ourselves, friends, partner or family) and what ethics we choose to follow or ignore, we can never truly know the real story. It’s not our business to judge.

People in glass houses shouldn’t drop boulders.