Real Girl Kitchens: Sarah Malone

10 October 2017

I'm excited to bring you the second instalment of Real Girl Kitchens, this time featuring my friend Sarah Malone. Sarah grew up in Canberra and was one of the first people I really clicked with when I moved to the city last year. She knows all the best local things to do and eat, has great advice on surviving the seasons, and is always listening to a fun podcast.

Sarah and I work in the same office and I love finding out what she's having for dinner. Her meals always sound cosy, nourishing and delicious. Today she shares the recipe for a favourite pie, what she's craving during her first pregnancy, plus how she came to have her own pudding recipe.  I'll let her take it from here:

To start, can you share where you’re based and what you get up to in a regular week?

Hi! I’m Sarah, I work with Sonya in Canberra and I love living in this beautiful city. I share a cosy corner block cottage with my partner Mark, and we’re excitedly expecting our first baby in March next year. A regular week sees me commuting a few minutes down the road each day for my job in radio marketing where I work with a group of creative and engaged locals.

If I’m lucky, I manage to weave a walk or podcast into my working day (currently listening to lots of pregnancy and parenting podcasts as well as a new podcast by one of my favourite YouTubers Estee Lalonde, called The Heart of It).

My favourite things to do include cooking, eating and getting cosy at home by the fire with a good book or series in the cooler months, being in our garden with some sunshine in the spring, or escaping to the south coast for some beach time in the summer.

What’s your approach to cooking? Do you love it? Dread it? Plan it out a month in advance? Wing it after work?

I love cooking and delight in spending time pottering around in our brightly coloured blue and yellow kitchen. We take a combined approach to cooking that involves planning, winging it and sometimes abandoning our plan all together and opting for a quick laksa at our favourite noodle house, or takeaway wood-fired pizza from Pizza Gusto.

Our planning begins bright and early on Saturday mornings on our way to our local farmers market. We buy our staple fruit and vegetables each week, but also like to choose a recipe or two which will involve more specific gathering for a Sunday cooking session. Oh, and I always enjoy some hot crepes for breakfast after we’ve bought our market fare.

Generally, we’ll make a big meal over the weekend (during Canberra winter this usually involves a slow cooked piece of meat with lots of colourful roast veggies, and in the warmer months we’re drawn to BBQs, salads and pies). This meal will last us a few days and means we won’t hit the kitchen again until mid-week.

Mark and I both enjoy cooking and eating immensely, and often we’ll text each other during our work days to confer on important culinary decisions. We are lucky to live near Canberra’s best IGA and we make a handful of trips there each week to top up on supplies, or to satisfy specific cravings (which at the moment include watermelon, berries, crumpets and chips).

Could you share a few favourite recipes? Say a trusty weeknight dinner, a meal you make when you have the whole afternoon, and a sweet/dessert? 

For a trusty weeknight dinner, I can’t go past Mark’s spinach and feta pie. It reminds me of a spanakopita my mum used to make for family dinners, but with the added freshness of mini roma tomatoes and a heartiness with puff pastry. Mark likes to make jokes/patterns with the leftover puff crust, as demonstrated here: π


One big bunch of silverbeet or spinach (kale has been tested but only as a last resort… Mark is not a huge kale fan)
3-4 Roma tomatoes (or a punnet of baby romas)
Feta (a block of Tasmanian low fat, if you can find it)
3-4 eggs
300ml milk
Mixed herbs, salt, pepper and chilli flakes
Puff or shortcrust pastry (enough to line and cover dish)

Preheat your oven to around 180ºC. Grease a pie dish with oil and defrost your frozen sheets (if you are pastry chef, go nuts).

Finely chop the washed silverbeet leaves (no stems allowed). Try to dry the leaves as much possible before chopping, as the excess water adds unnecessary juice to the pie. Place in a bowl on the side.

In another large bowl mix eggs, milk, herbs and seasoning. Whisk it all together and let it all think about what’s just happened.

Slice up tomatoes and feta for layering.

Line the pastry in the base of your dish. Add a layer of spinach, feta, tomatoes then pour in some of the egg/milk mixture. Repeat these layers until you are at the top of the dish then top if off with another layer of pastry. Cut two breather holes in the middle and paint some milk on top brown the pastry.

Cook for an hour to 1.5 hours, on the bottom shelf.

Serve up natural or add some of our favourite Beerenberg Uncle Pete’s hot sauce to taste.

For a meal to make when I have the whole afternoon, I love nothing more than a taco party! I was recently inspired by the fantastic Deb of Smitten Kitchen and made most of the recipes in her fun taco party menu (minus the tres leches cake) and it was delicious. We even used our left-over beef brisket for delicious homemade pizzas the next night.

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I have lots of favourite sweets/desserts. This simple Jamie Oliver pudding is one of the first things I remember making. It is now made on such a high rotation during the winter that we renamed it from his 'Sheila's pudding' to 'Sarah's pudding'. I usually sub peaches for apples and strawberries.

I recently discovered this super simple and satisfying banana bundt cake recipe in Jackson & Levine’s beautiful Round to Ours recipe book.


150g salted butter
200g plain flour
400g ripe bananas, peeled weight (about 4 medium)
100g soft light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate soda

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Melt butter in a pan over a low heat, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. Use tablespoons of the melted butter to brush the insides of a bundt tin (confession, I don’t own a bundt tin, so I just used a regular round cake tin).

Put the bananas into a bowl and mash until nearly smooth. Put the sugar and eggs into a large bowl and, using an electric whisk, beat together for 2 or 3 minutes, until well mixed and pale. Add the mashed banana and whisk again.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate soda into the mixture and fold to combine. Add the remaining melted butter and stir until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt or cake tin, leaving 1.5cms to allow room to rise.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin. Serve with berries and yoghurt/cream, and enjoy with a cup of tea on a slow Sunday.

Lastly, do you have any go-to cookbooks or recipe sites?

Most of my recipe-finding comes from googling ingredients that I have, or things that we’re craving, and a whole lot of reading/researching. I’ve learned that it’s always a good idea to check out the comments on recipe blogs, as people often have suggestions or tweaks after they’ve tried out a recipe. I also love talking with friends to hear their recipe recommendations, or using Instagram to find new recipes or local places to check out.

Thank you Sarah! You can find her on Instagram, where she's @sarahcakeyum :) I've been to one of Sarah's taco parties and the beef brisket was so good, it made me seriously consider purchasing a slow cooker just so I could make it. Let me know if you try any of her dishes - I've already tried Mark's spinach and feta pie and it was a hit at my house too.

Photos by Sarah Malone.

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