Christmas plans

16 December 2018


Are you travelling for Christmas or working through the holidays? I finish up for the year on Thursday and things are already feeling festive. Right now I'm snacking on some Christmas cake that I made in November. I finally cut it open over the weekend to divvy up between friends as gifts. And tonight we'll be putting up our mini Christmas tree!

Our plans for Christmas are pretty simple - we'll be staying in town and waiting for the rest of my family to join us. My brother and his wife will be coming round for a Christmas Eve dinner, all the way from London. I ordered a ham for the holidays and am thinking of serving it glazed and warm with soft buttered rolls and beer, inspired by my friend Danie :)


Christmas Day will be a lunch at my sister's place and I'll be bringing a Christmas cake to share, and some homemade mince pies too. I'm also really looking forward to Christmas brekkie at home, which is usually coffee, mangoes and panettone with Tony before we exchange presents.

We've also just marked three years in Canberra with a handful of end of year rituals. We brought these spice cookies to May and Sam's an annual Christmukkah party, which was a bagel brunch. And we ate the most delicious meal at Sarah and Mark's place for our annual Christmas dinner, this time with their daughter Zoe as a first time guest.

They made Samin Nosrat's buttermilk chicken, Annabel Crabb's glass potatoes (they're a revelation), and I made my first ever pavlova roll with raspberries and cream. It was the last recipe I had to test for the year and it was a triumph!


Finally, let's talk Christmas books! I secretly love the days after Christmas, where everyone's back in their own homes and it's time for naps, summer fruit and books. I'm planning to treat myself to Sally Rooney's Normal People and Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales.

Hello weekend

14 December 2018


We celebrated Tony's birthday last night, with a pasta feast he made for friends. So tonight, we'll be tucking into leftover pasta and red wine and finally watching BlacKkKlansman. I can't wait. And then tomorrow I'll be making a pavlova roll with raspberries to take to my friend Sarah's place for our annual Christmas gathering! Should be delicious. Some fun things to share:

Make your own after dinner mints (minus the foil packet!). 


Tony asks for the same birthday cake every year - an unbaked cheesecake. I normally make this one but decided to do something a little fancier this year and made mini cheesecakes with white chocolate, strawberries and rose water. They were a hit.

I really liked this interview with Osher Gunsberg about getting yourself out of a rut. Especially this line, "When it comes to work, the why morphs slightly from being the 'best' to being the most professional he can be."

If you're catching up on podcasts, I can recommend this episode of This is Love, featuring a snail love story. Also, a very inspiring interview from Without Fail.

And this week's ABC Life recipe is awesome! It's a salad salsa that could a fun starter - or you could just eat it with chips for dinner like we did on Monday night. Highly recommend.

Catch you next week!


Melbourne notes

13 December 2018


We had the nicest time in Melbourne, eating lots of great food and checking out a bunch of art galleries - our two favourite things. By the end of the week, I had ditched my watch and make up and was feeling extremely relaxed.

This trip to Melbourne was a tiny bit different because I went with a few pages of recommendations from my new workmates who live there. Just in case you're heading there soon, here's what I loved:

Yum cha + NGV + Carlton



Our first day in Melbourne was pretty perfect. We rolled our bags into Chinatown for yum cha at Dragon Boat, which came highly recommended. It was such a great yum cha spot, and also a good place to fuel up and catch our breath before heading back into the city.

There are two great shows at the National Gallery of Victoria at the moment, and they're both free! My favourite was Julian Opie, which featured bright and colourful video portraits of characters doing very everyday things like walking. The details made the show magical, with the artist capturing everything from the gait of individuals, to the intricate pattern of their lace dress or tattoos. Check out the kids space if you can, even if you don't have any of your own. Trust me, it's super cute (and filled with adults!).

We also both really loved Australian photographer Polly Borland's exhibition at the Fed Square gallery space. It's playful and kind of odd too.


Then it was onto Heart Attack & Vine, which is one of my workmate's all-time favourite bars. It's a really cute space with incredible snacks constantly being made at the counter. We ordered drinks and a selection of mini snacks and had a great time.

For dinner, we went to a new favourite, DOC pizza for the best margherita (they specialise in mozzarella!) and a greens salad which was almost as good. Afterwards we wandered over to Pidapipo for gelato cones with warm nutella, and they were so good we made sure we went again before we went home.

And no visit to Carlton is complete without a stop at Readings, which is my favourite book shop.


Cult places for pastries + chiffon cake + pasta 

Holidaying midweek was especially handy when it came to visiting a hyped up eateries :) We went to Lune Croissanterie one morning and sat at the counter, watching a small army of croissant makers do their thing while nibbling on their handiwork.

The croissants are pretty amazing, somehow sweet and savoury at the same time with just the right amount of flakiness. A little bit of planning went into our visit because my Dad (whose favourite foods include croissants and ice cream) went on a day when the cafe was only doing takeaways. Plus I'd read that sometimes there's an hour-long queue, and assumed it'd be wise to avoid the weekend.


I also made it to Beatrix, a tiny bakery that I've been obsessing over ever since I stumbled across them on Instagram. Especially because they seem to have an insane number of cakes on offer each day. I ordered a giant slice of pillowy orange chiffon cake that came with a tangy icing and some mince pies to take away. Beatrix is in north Melbourne, and a short tram ride from the city (that's if you get off at the right stop!). There's only a handful of seats but they're set up for takeaway, with lovely hard-to-squash cake boxes.


We also had dinner at Tip00, which was the first place I booked after we'd sorted our flights and accommodation. I felt like a nerd, getting in super early but we almost missed out! Apparently Fridays and Saturdays are usually booked out three months in advance, so we went for a late sitting on a Thursday night and had no regrets. Everything from the focaccia bread course to the deconstructed tiramisu was unreal.


Brunswick + Collingwood

Finally, Saturday lunch at Good Days in Brunswick was a shared highlight. Tony ordered the chicken rice and I had the famous noodle salad with lemongrass chicken skewers (you can also get it with spring rolls on top!).

And I also went to Cibi for lunch with my friend Danie, where we both ordered the Japanese breakfast special. The Cibi shop was especially beautiful, stocking everything from ceramics to fancy panko crumbs and different types of seaweed.

So that's it for our 2018 Melbourne trip! I thought my flying days were done for the year but I'll be making a day trip to Sydney on Monday, and then counting down the days til I can pick up my Christmas ham. We're close!



Hello weekend

06 December 2018

 
Hello from Melbourne, where I'm slowly nailing the tram situation and eating a lot of delicious food :) How has your week been? I've been here since Tuesday for a little holiday, accompanying Tony who's down for a conference. We're going out for pasta tonight (finally got a booking here), and I've been stocking up on American cookbooks and checking out as many bakeries as I can (current count: four in three days!). Some fun things to share:

Anna Jones's vegetarian top 10, just in time for end of year entertaining.

Speaking of, I learnt a lot editing this piece about cooking for vegans from Hetty McKinnon. Biggest takeaway? Vegan food is everyday food - especially when it comes to staples like pasta, legumes, and olive oil. Need a dish for this Christmas? She shared a vegan potato salad recipe and it's yum!

If you're a fan of the NY Times column Modern Love, may I introduce you to Tiny Love Stories, sent in by readers. I loved the one about the baby outfit!

Grace Lee, an Australian illustrator with an eye for joy, has a collection with Uniqlo!!! It was one of my first stops in Melbourne, I bought this shirt and can't wait to wear it to meetings :p

I experienced insane hayfever today so retreated to the aircon of our Airbnb after lunch and watched the Gaga doco on Netflix and loved it. 

Two kind of Christmasy things... an alternative festive playlist made up of songs from Woody Allen films. And my friend Angie put me onto the show Travel Man, and this episode in Hong Kong made me laugh! It co starts Jon Hamm.

And we went to a Christmas/Hanukkah party last Sunday, where there were bagels, jam doughnuts and twin babies to cuddle! I came away obsessed with latkes and want to try this recipe, recommended by Leslie. Our friends served theirs with a dijon mayo. I would eat them with basically anything!

Have a wonderful weekend and catch you soon, with a few Melbourne notes.

Catch you soon (and a kick ass dessert)

30 November 2018


Just a quick note to say I'm about to head off on holidays and will be back here in a week or so! It is my first proper holiday of the year (!!!), with the exception of a few long weekends here and there, so I'm making an effort to zone out completely.

In the meantime, please enjoy this easy summer cherry dessert. It's magically light and creamy at the same time!

Thanks always for reading, and speak soon.

X

The perfect Sunday dinner

28 November 2018


Every now and then I want to roast a chicken on a Sunday night. It's usually a sign that things have been busier than usual, and that comfort food is needed. This salt and pepper roast chicken is super easy and delicious. It comes from The New York Times and food blogger Molly Yeh described it as a magical recipe on Radio Cherry Bombe because all you do is season the chicken the night before and then roast it.

I happened to make mine right after watching the Heat episode of Salt, Fat, Acid Heat. So I took the chicken out of the fridge an hour or so before cooking, to let it come to room temperature, and cooked it with the drumsticks facing the back and it came out super tender, with extra-crispy skin. Success!


It accidentally became an awesome dinner because I also needed to make Hetty McKinnon's roast caprese salad before the weekend was up. I'd commissioned the recipe for ABC Life, and always try them before they're published, because it helps with the editing process.

While the meal feels fancy, I made the salad in the afternoon, as part of my regular Sunday lunch prep for the week and then  assembled it at the last minute, while the chicken was cooling. Buying mozzarella always makes me cringe (it costs a bomb!) but it made the salad hearty enough that we could just eat it with the chicken, no potatoes needed.



Finally, dessert. Crumble is one of my all time favourite comfort foods and this one is extra special. I am lucky enough to work with Thalia Ho, who writes a beautiful baking blog Butter & Brioche. She writes a monthly baking column for ABC Life.

When we were brainstorming recipes earlier this year, I mentioned an amazing summer crumble I had on the last night of a south coast holiday. It couldn't remember exactly what was in it, only the fruit was lighter than usual and that it was floral.

Thalia came up with this pear and blueberry crumble with earl grey tea leaves and lemon zest mixed into the topping. I thought my sister-in-law's apple crumble was the only recipe I'd ever need in that department, but this one is crazy good. The pear goes super soft, and the filling goes a deep purple colour as the blueberries cook. It was also a good excuse to buy some take away vanilla ice cream from the gelato shop in town.

We've just figured out that Christmas will be spent in Canberra this year, with my whole family visiting! Every now and then I think about what we might eat, and this whole dinner is an option in my mind. Maybe with Christmas cake at the end instead of crumble. In any case, I highly recommend all three dishes individually - and eaten together, you'll probably go to bed very happy.

Hello weekend

23 November 2018


It's positively wintry in Canberra right now, with freezing winds and grey skies. And it's perfect for a cosy weekend at home! I'm planning to make this one-pan chicken, olive and couscous dish for dinner on Saturday night with a baked cherry dessert. I may or may not pretend I'm part of Thanksgiving celebrations, with the cold weather and delicious food. A few favourite things from this week:

Mariah Carey has a new album (!) and it's catchy and fun. My brother Derrick sent it my way (which made me smile cos he hosts a music show on an indie radio station in London!).

I bought Michelle Obama's book as an audio book and love it - it's so affirming and I love going for walks with her :)

Something else that's making me happy - I found Molly Yeh's US cooking show online. For fellow Molly fans, she's having a baby next year!

This could be the ultimate Christmas cookie, which combines the festive flavours of fruit cake with chocolate chip cookies. Trust me, it works. My boss made them and I ate at least three.

Speaking of work, this week's ABC Life recipe is one of my faves, I'll be making it again soon! It's a spicy-ish chicken burrito with a crunchy kale and corn slaw and cheese. When I first saw the photos, I assumed it'd be hard, but it's not! It's not a quick meal but you can make the slaw while the chicken cooks and it fed us three times over.

Have the nicest weekend!

X