A super chill Canberra Christmas

30 December 2019

On Christmas Day the smoke haze that had kept our doors and windows shut for almost a week cleared, and we were able to go on a long morning walk and open up the house. It was so nice to be out and getting a sense of what everyone was up to.

It has definitely been an unusual summer, a very indoor one, because of the lingering smoke haze and the hot hot days. We normally spend this time of year riding our bikes, going for picnics and visiting the pool so we've had to rejig our plans and expectations. Most of all, we're super glad we moved apartments earlier this year. Even though we didn't plan to move, it's meant we've ended up in a really comfortable place with air con, which has been so important with the current smoke situation.

Anyway, onto more festive things like Christmas food, summer books, movies and a few favourite gifts. We've totally upped our tea and coffee game these holidays. Angie chose this beautiful Marimekko tea pot for us (I knew I wanted a new one but had no idea where to look - she nailed it!), and we unwrapped some herbal tea leaves and coffee from friends. I gave Tony a V60 pour over coffee kit and grinder for Christmas, so every morning we've been reading in bed with freshly made brews.

It's been a very Alison Roman Christmas. I made her seafood linguini for Christmas Eve (lining up to buy prawns and vongole at 6am, which was surprisingly festive), and our friend Sarah gave us a bag of her famous choc chip cookies, which we munched on for lunch desserts and while watching Netflix :) I've also just made the cover recipe from her latest cookbook, a delicious slow cooked oregano and tomato roast chicken (the recipe is on the NY Times).

We've also eaten a bunch of Tyrrells potato chips and Ortiz anchovies (two new obsessions), and this delicious grain salad with pomegranate, goats cheese and sweet roasted veggies. For the first time ever, I've had opinions about drink pairings. We drank Wildflower's golden ale with our grain salad for Christmas lunch. I'm still into sour beers and this one isn't too sweet. I also bought a Good Intentions orange wine to go with our seafood pasta after trying a delicious one in Melbourne. And we finally cut into the Panettone on Christmas morning - we shelled out a little more for this one and have no regrets. I used a Nigella recipe to make very custardy French toast one morning and might squeeze in one more batch before Panettone is done for another year.

My favourite Sunday morning ritual is to read in bed with a cup of tea until I get hungry - which has so far been every day of the holidays. I'm two-thirds of the way through Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore, which I'm really enjoying. It has the usual amount of mystery and spiritual activity for a Murakami novel but is less scary/intense than others I've read. I'm also reading The Best American Food Writing 2019, edited by Samin Nosrat, worth it for this essay alone.

We watched Marriage Story, which I didn't love as much as I thought I would. Noah Baumbach movies have been especially long lately. I really liked The Two Popes, maybe for the same reason that I enjoy watching The Crown, it's part historical and explained how the papacy works (I had no idea the pope is voted in!). And after missing it at the cinema, we rented Animals, which was fun and also surprising. On our list for the new year, Little Women and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

I took this photo after we woke up this morning because it was so smokey out that it looked like fog. It's cleared up now so we'll head out for our daily adventure. Still to do these holidays - bake some sourdough (my first from a newly made starter!), make a batch of sourdough crumpets, visit the brewery for a burger, and go indoor plant shopping. Have a lovely NYE!


Summer Sydney trip

22 December 2019

We spent the second week of December in Sydney and squeezed in so much - loads of family time, early Christmas dinners with friends, and Tony's birthday too. Somehow, we also managed to keep working.  Tony was developing some new prints at Cicada Press and I worked out of the Sydney office where most of my team is based. Here are some highlights, starting with a long weekend in the northern beaches:

We'd partly based our travel dates around a baking and cookbook workshop I wanted to do in Palm Beach with Gillian Bell and Julie Gibbs. We rented a cute Airbnb in Avalon, where we could walk to the beach, bars and cafes. I'd never visited this part of Sydney before, so it felt like a mini holiday. Our favourite discovery was a pizza shop with a kooky fit out, dukebox tunes and delicious seafood pizzas. We also loved this laneway Italian restaurant, where an older Italian woman ran the kitchen and the pasta was delicious.

The workshop itself was my first experience of a cooking class and I learnt so much from watching and asking questions. I am a big fan of the Dispatch to a Friend podcast and was excited to meet one of its hosts Gillian, and watch her make one of her famous cakes. Her co-host Annabelle happened to be there too, as a participant, and it was an extra surprise. Cheese souffles were made for lunch, along with a couple of big salads, and it was definitely unusual to be among people with cookbook collections as big (if not much bigger) than my own. And I loved hearing from Julie, who has edited many iconic Australian cookbooks from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion to the recent Flour & Stone cookbook (which I immediately went out to buy, it's on sale here).

Ahead of our visit, I ordered a couple of salads for work lunches along with some choc chip cookies from Kate who runs her own catering company (she featured on the blog years ago!). I'm signed up to her weekly newsletter just because I'm a fan of what she does, so it was fun to actually place an order and enjoy the food while I was in town. They were delivered to my office on Monday afternoon and it was so nice having something healthy to eat most days, to balance out all of the dining out. Plus, it was one less thing to think about during a busy week that was filled with meetings and job interviews.

I've been busting to try this rooftop produce market ever since I saw it on Harriet's Instagram. The market is designed to be zero waste, so you place an online order during the week. It's the prettiest and calmest place to pick up your shopping on a Saturday morning, and we definitely scored a few extra items like excess mangoes and a generous extra handful or two of cherries. It was also the best excuse to have breakfast downstairs at the Paramount Coffee Project. It's one of my favourite places in Sydney because the interior is so relaxing and the food is always next level. 

Our final night in town was also Tony's birthday. A month or two in advance, I'd organised for his best friend from high school and his fiancee to join us (and have enough time to organise a babysitter). It was meant to be a surprise... but I was so excited, I told Tony a few days after it was all locked in. We went to Don Peppino's because Tony loves Italian food and  it was high on my list after hearing about it on Highly Enthused. It was even better than I'd hoped. The food and wine were incredible, the service was super friendly (I didn't even ask for a candle on the dessert - it just happened) and the vibe was fun and low-key. We ate freshly made pasta, steamed fish, peach salad and ordered all of the desserts. 

I gave Tony some Airpods and as it turns out, he chose the exact same thing for my Christmas present. We had one weekend apart (Tony went ahead of me to Sydney), where we both went shopping for gifts, only to choose the exact same thing for each other :) 

We're now back in Canberra and readjusting to our life back at home, which suddenly feels very chill and quiet. We were lucky enough to stay with Sean and Emma, Tony's brother and sister-in-law, and their three kids. We got used to the activities and action that come from living in a busy and loving home. It was such a welcome shift from our usually work-focused lives to wake up and hang out with our nieces and nephew. And it was extra fun being there at Christmastime too, with the tree up and excitement building. We left presents (but not under the tree, apparently it was too risky 😂) and hope to visit again soon.


Hello weekend

20 December 2019

How are you spending the last weekend before Christmas? We have our fourth annual Christmas dinner with Canberra friends, which is one of my favourite end of year rituals. I'm in charge of snacks and there's going to be a chocolate cloud cake :) Other than that, we'll probably decide on our Christmas Day menu, wrap a few last gifts and finally watch Marriage Story.

At the moment it's incredibly smoky in Canberra, which has been the case since for a week or more. It's been scary seeing the bushfire smoke roll in of a night - sometimes completely obscuring buildings and mountains we can normally see from our balcony. It's made me quite anxious as it's not something I've experienced before and because I have asthma. I'm grateful that our house has aircon. I am also incredibly thankful for those fighting the fires on the front line, at RFS headquarters and reporting on the fires too. I woke up this morning and made a small donation to the RFS. It doesn't totally feel like a time to celebrate, but it's also a time where cheerful distractions are very welcome. To that end:

Pretty alternatives to wrapping paper. Side note: wrapping is my favourite part.

Two holiday-themed podcasts I'm excited about - Dispatch to a Friend's Christmas episode (and start of season 3 yay!) and Nigel Slater's Christmas Chronicles.

A fun discovery - iconic Sydney bakery Flour & Stone puts cakes in the post! They're romantically called Gateux de Voyage and different flavours are available each day of the week.

How to spend Christmas alone (plans are key). Via Erin.

Important - don't kneecap your sentences.

Quick chocolate pudding (yum) from Emiko Davies.

Do you follow the Yia Yia next door account on Instagram? The back story is incredible.

Loved this tour of the Canberra apartment 'gumtree built'.

And some food ideas for the summer break, including this big grain salad inspired by one I ate on our drive back from the coast last year. Think pomegranate seeds, big chunks of goat cheese, and loads of fresh herbs. I also wrote this wrap of summer recipes to share featuring some of my fave ABC Life recipes.

Take care this weekend.


Hello weekend

05 December 2019

Hello! Getting in a day early because I'm working a short week and heading to Sydney soon for a cookbook and cake day with Gillian Bell from Dispatch to a Friend and former publisher Julie Gibbs. And unlike last week, I have plenty of things to share :)

Being home alone has meant listening to a lot more music than usual - I'm also trying to limit myself to one podcast episode a day, to free up some brain space. I loved my brother's November mix, which I listened to on a chill Sunday as I headed to the markets and read magazines on the couch.

From the same podcast, this 15 minute classical-ish song is the calmest thing to listen to while sitting in traffic, running errands, baking a cake.

These are the prettiest cookies I have ever seen (mint choc! tie dye!). They're from Bon Appetit of course :)

Jia Tolentino's interview on In Good Company helped me make sense of a few things I've been wondering (pondering?) lately - like who I am on social media and why I often feel self-conscious there. Also interesting, her observations on the commercialisation of feminism (including 'girl boss' culture). I'm looking forward to reading her book.

I've also been listening to a lot of Alison Roman podcasts this week. One favourite was her Salt & Spine interview. Also on my to-listen list, her chat with Claire Ptak on Violet Sessions.

After finishing Queer Eye, Japan, I've been watching Love on the Spectrum, a dating show that follows several young Australians on the autism spectrum as they try and find love. If you're testing it out, episode two has been my favourite so far.

Finally - there are so many good ABC Life summer recipes to share! Here is Emiko Davies's charred zucchini salad with feta, herbs and lemon. It's light and excellent. Plus, how to make homemade fruit sodas - an excellent festive option for non-drinkers.


P.S How is it December??

Christmas wish list

01 December 2019

It's only the first day of December but I'm planning to wrap a bunch of Christmas presents later today. We're celebrating in a bunch of different ways this year, starting with an early lunch in Sydney next weekend with my parents and brother. Presents this year are a little smaller but hopefully no less thoughtful - I've tried especially hard not to get carried away out of panic and sheer excitement. And while I'm making this list just for fun, I feel very lucky to have everything I need already and know this is not the case for everyone. With that in mind, I'm starting with something most of us can give - a donation to OzHarvest, because everyone deserves to eat fresh, nourishing and delicious food.

A small luxury would be a new release book for the lazy post-Christmas days. Top of my list is Olive, Again - especially because I'm 54th on the library reserve list! I so loved reading Olive Kitteridge and am looking forward to savouring the sequel. I'm also yet to read Haruki Murakmi's latest Killing Commendatore. Reading a new Murakami at Christmastime is a bit of a ritual for me.

An Aesop room spray that smells like a forest for when cooking scents linger... which happens about once a week whether it's sardines or steak (poor Tony). They use this one at my yoga studio and it's super relaxing.

The cutest hat for wearing to the markets and chucking into my bag for trips. It's a bit cuter than a baseball cap and more fun too. Plus it looks a little stretchy, which is helpful for my giant head! This PJ set looks lovely too.

English Breakfast and peppermint tea leaves because I'm hoping to wean myself of teabags in 2020 - for the environment but also for the slow ritual of brewing tea. I'm curious about the Australian brand Ovvio organics after seeing Julie Gibb's collection on Instagram. I'm also on the hunt for a beautiful, minimal tea pot - for one or two - but have no idea where to look.

And finally something a little bit fancy - this octopus dish for serving snacks to friends, inspired by Alison Roman's colourful and fun kitchenware.

Hope you're travelling well as we head towards the end of the year!


Hello weekend

29 November 2019

Post-Melbourne, I have been skipping a bunch of yoga classes, cooking plenty of Heidi recipes (pasta, frittata and smoothies) and watching a lot of TV (we're obsessed with Morning Wars on Apple atm). I didn't realise it at the time but last week was packed!

Tony's just left for another residency - this time in Sydney - so I'll be having a solo weekend and week ahead. I'm planning to rewatch Call Me By Your Name, go to the farmers markets and bake a cake (this lemon loaf by Alison Roman that's on the NY Times).

Have a lovely weekend! Back with more recommendations soon :)

Super fun Melbourne week

26 November 2019

Hello! We are freshly back from nine days in Melbourne, where we ate plenty of delicious food and met some very good people. But most of all, I'm just glad I went! I almost didn't go because I was a bit worried about money and am a homebody but thankfully a good friend gave me just the shove I needed. Turns out that 'choosing the bigger life' is very good life advice.

Here are some highlights and places we liked to eat. I'm definitely into low-key and chill places these days :)

Tony was the main reason I was in Melbourne. He had a week-long print making residency at VCA and a place to stay in the city. Luckily, I was able to work out of the Melbourne office for the week, which was right around the corner from him. Every morning we walked to Patricia's for coffee before catching the tram to work. It's a stand up coffee bar with fun vibes, sparkling water on tap and a cute neon ceiling sign.

For dinner, one of our favourite spots was City Wine Shop in the CBD, especially on a night when we didn't feel like venturing far. I was extremely proud of my order - grilled saganaki with wild figs, house smoked salmon with sour cream, lemony meatballs in tomato sauce, and later a spring vegetable gnocchi - all to share. It was also near two good bookshops, the Hill of Content and The Paperback Bookshop, plus Spring Street Grocer for post-dinner gelato :)

Tony was working on a lithographic print and it was so great to visit him after to work to get my head around what he was up to. The process is so intricate and complicated, involving plate work, paint work and the printing itself. Sometimes multiple people are working on the print at the same time. Tony was paired with a master printer for the week to realise his image before the edition was finalised - it's being printed this week!

Visiting the studio gave me a new appreciation of how handmade prints like these can be. Tony's shared more of the process on Instagram including videos if you're curious. Seeing his work made me think of all of the times I've visited his studios, in Sydney, Wagga, Canberra and this time round Melbourne. It is always a nice surprise to see what direction the work is taking.

We both really enjoyed the change of scenery when it came to work, more than we'd anticipated. I found it easier to write and get things done, which surprised me because I love nothing more than routine during the work week.

Another highlight for me was catching up food writers that I work with but had never met. They were the best kinds of meetings too, at pasta bars and cake shops. I met Julia at Beatrix, which had a small crowd waiting for it to open at 9am. It was so hard just to pick one thing but I went with the sponge cake with whipped cream, lemon curd and passionfruit icing. And it was so lovely meeting Heidi for an afternoon picnic in the sun. 

Along with the week of work, we had two weekends either side of our stay which meant we could make it to the KAWS exhibition and cross town for doughnuts. We always find our way to Carlton for pizza, bookstore browsing, drinks, snacks and gelato. This visit I was introduced to the D.O.C deli and pasta bar, where I bought a panettone from Italy to lug home for Christmas.

Not pictured, a trip to Babajan for a Turkish lunch (it's as good as it's hyped up to be - especially the baked eggs with 12 hour lamb shoulder), a blustery 38 degree day, getting lost in Queen Victoria Markets, feeling awkward in a brand new office, and freshly baked Nutella filled madeleines.

I'll leave you with two last things - a post-work park hang out and our first dinner in town - honey and jalapeno pizza at Lazerpig which was noisy and fun. Travelling with Tony was so nice - he took care of all of the navigation, which was one less thing to worry about (I am terrible with directions) and it was nice among all of the busyness to be together for meals and just to chat and be ourselves. Sometimes when I'm on a work trip I feel like I have to be on all of the time or am just hyper-aware so I really noticed the difference doing it together.

P.S Here are some notes from our 2018 Melbourne trip, plus earlier visits in 2017, early 2016 and late  2016!

Hello weekend + getting ready for Melbourne

15 November 2019

For the first time ever, Tony and I have managed to break the internet at home. We're blaming our free Amazon trial for using up all of our data... from all of our Fleabag, Modern Love, Seinfeld and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel viewing. So, you might notice that this week's list of recommendations is a little shorter than usual 😂 While the TV has been off, we've been cooking together and doing the odd SMH target puzzle too (!). We're off to Melbourne tomorrow and I'm super excited about doing regular things in a new city like a market shop or a morning coffee. We're planning to visit this funny pizza parlour for our first dinner in town. To share:

I've been enjoying a couple of excellent longer reads - even if they take me a few sittings to get through. This story, where a former Obama speech-writer spending a year with an injured veteran who was written into many Presidential speeches moved me. It's nuanced and sensitive.

Also, I found this essay about a New York company's 'pivot to burnout' equally hilarious and relatable.

I know very little about Thanksgiving but am suddenly very interested in it and its funny food traditions after watching Alison Roman's (almost) real-time video of putting a feast together in a tiny kitchen.

And a couple of recipes to share! Julia Ostro has made a super summery chopped steak salad for ABC Life (avocado, mint, charred corn!). If you don't eat meat, she's also written a recipe for my No Big Deal Dinner Party newsletter, a Panzanella that's easily made vegan, vegetarian or GF.

P.S I'll be offline for much of next week - trying to catch cool films after work and night markets too. Write to you again from Canberra X

Hello weekend

08 November 2019

Hello! I made a cheesecake last weekend, this ricotta one to be exact, and still feel the need to bake something this weekend. Maybe because the weather's dipped again or maybe because it's the thing that can clear my head at the end of a week. I'm taking Tony on a surprise date tonight, we'll be stopping at a new cheese, cold cuts and wine bar (yay!) and seeing a movie about an artist at the British Film Festival. Also on the cards, a day trip to Braidwood and a favourite bakery/pasta shop with friends. For your weekend... sweets! Thoughtful thoughts! And brand new podcasts:

'I race to relax' is a little too relatable for me. Food writer and podcaster Lindsay Cameron Wilson on structuring her days.

Annabelle Hickson (of Dispatch to a Friend) writes a beautiful newsletter.

After Making Oprah and Making Obama comes the latest season... Making Beyonce. So excited for this podcast!

Also trying out Esther Perel's new podcast, How's Work?

Annabel Crabb's gingernut and caramel ice cream sandwiches via Benjamin Law.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Vogue interview (and cover).

And something I'm proud of... No Big Deal Dinner Party is a four-part newsletter series I've been producing that launched this week. It's all about feeding your friends and family without freaking out. The first edition is all about snacks and drinks and you can sign up here if you'd like to receive the three remaining editions.


Hello weekend

01 November 2019

I've got that slightly delirious feeling that comes with finishing the work week - a combination of feeling happy/relieved but also being totally spent. I'm taking things extra easy this weekend as a result and because last weekend was an accidental whirlwind of five cooking projects, tackled over two days. Tony and I are going to make a lasagne (his favourite!) and I am hoping the rainy Sunday that's forecast comes through. For your weekend (and thank you for being here!):

I'll be in Melbourne in a few weeks and am super excited to work my way through Eater's Ultimate Guide to Melbourne in preparation. Their guide to Australian snacks from a US perspective is very fun.

I am... 11 years too late but thoroughly enjoying Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge. The best thing about arriving late is that there's already a TV show and a sequel :)

An easy tomato sauce for summer pasta - Julia Ostro's cherry tomato, basil and garlic sauce. Inspired by this pic, we ate ours with bucatini.

Making plans according to your star sign. Can confirm, the Leo one is 100% correct.

Eva Chen was hilarious on The Cut podcast (plus she's a fellow germaphobe).

I've been really into thoughtful foodies of late. Especially Yasmin Khan (author of Zaitoun) on Julia Turshen's podcast and Aran Goyoaga's beautiful video series A Cook's Remedy. I'm waiting for her cookbook to arrive... hopefully it's any day now.

And two new ABC Life recipes to share this week! Hetty McKinnon's zucchini, couscous and preserved lemon salad (snapped above) is Christmas-worthy. Plus, Julia Ostro's sardines with midweek roast potatoes. I was nervous about cooking sardines but loved them - they're so fatty and satisfying, and the potatoes in this recipe are salt-and-vinegar chip like. Enjoy!


Spring things

26 October 2019

It's a super windy Saturday, which is a nice excuse to stay in. I have a giant pot of chicken stock on the stove and the beginnings of a strawberry and ginger shrub. I'm looking forward to making fruit sodas with it later tonight. I'm testing a bunch of summer recipes this weekend - fun stuff like cocktails and ice cream sandwiches. If you're interested in all of the above (well, minus the chicken stock), the recipes will be in a special four-part newsletter I've been writing for work. You can sign up here, it'll be out super soon!

I've been all about tiny novelties lately. Tahini on toast with honey, sesame seeds and a squeeze of lemon for breakfast. Pop-ups around town for dinner on a Friday night. Oat milk lattes, just out of curiosity (verdict: they're good but it totally depends on the brand of milk... and the barista. Oatly and Minor Figures are my faves).

For the last month or so, I've been going to work early on a Tuesday, which means I'm often on my way home just after four. It makes the evening feel long and relaxed - and it's the night I usually tackle something more complicated for dinner and go for a walk afterwards, and still have time to watch TV and have a shower and eat something sweet - it's pretty weekend-like.

Often it's the night I make a recipe from East by Meera Sodha. Months ago, my friend Lisa suggested we both get a copy and cook through it together. It's been nine weeks since we started, and we take turns choosing the recipe for the week. We rarely double up on our selections, so it's been a good way to try dishes I wouldn't have picked myself - like this roasted paneer aloo gobi. It might be my favourite recipe in the book so far. Lisa lives in Sydney, so every Sunday night, we recap the dish and our weeks over email and share a pic of how it turned out. It has become the nicest weekly ritual.

Something else that's fun - my brother Derrick who lives in New York made me a playlist a little while ago, and every now and then he adds a new song or two. It's a fun way to keep in touch, and a luxury to have music chosen for you :)

Finally, I made the ultimate mid-thirties purchase the other week. I bought my own enamel casserole dish - in pale pink. Every other nice pan in my home has been a gift from my parents or a wedding present. I bought it specially for this cookbook, where most of the recipes are based on a 30cm round roasting dish. I'll be making baked sausages with apple and blackberries next.

Hope you've been well!


Hello weekend

17 October 2019

This week, even more than most, has been about cooking all of the things. Salted tahini choc chip cookies, a big Thai green curry from scratch, late night nut bars that remind me of caramel slice. After a few weeks of feeling all over the shop, it's super nice to be full of energy again :) I currently have zero plans for the weekend (aside from making Diana Henry's chicken with feta, dill, lemon and potatoes and maybe an apple crumble, for comfort) and will see what unfolds:

For anyone (everyone?) who's read Three Women, Lisa Taddeo's episode of How To Fail is pretty satisfying.

Given how excellent her brownie recipe is, I'm now seriously considering trying out Meera Sodha's peanut butter and jam blondies.

I'm a sometimes fan of The Cut on Tuesdays podcast (mainly the eps where editor Stella Bugbee hosts), and especially enjoyed this interview with Nora McInerny, host of Terrible, Thanks for Asking. 

My friend made this pomegranate cake with mascarpone and yoghurt icing and it was beautiful and delicious.

In amongst all of the baked goods this week, we've become big fans of the banana oat smoothie in Heidi's beautiful book. Here's a similar recipe from her blog.

And a piece that perfectly explains my love for Bon Appetit's Claire Saffitz.

Have the nicest weekend!


Hello weekend

11 October 2019

How did you go with daylight savings this week? I had no idea an hour could make such a difference. Cheering me up at the end of the day has been this super dense dark chocolate and miso brownie. It happens to be vegan, is great with ice cream and tastes restaurant-quality. I'm all about cafe pop-ups at the moment and this weekend we're heading to a fish and chip night at a fave brunch spot. I'd also like to try this monthly burger night :) Have a lovely weekend, here are some nice things to share:

An old school chocolate mousse. I also love this one from fancy supermarkets!

Everything Madeleine Dore learned from completing The Artist's Way.

I want to own this cookbook for the cover alone.

A mini-seasonal refresh for the home sounds lovely and doable.

Crispy mushrooms with white beans and kale looks so good.

Did you listen to the Start Up podcast when it first came out? I'm excited to listen to the final chapter, about how the company was acquired by Spotify.

Lovely (small) things to try to make your days more creative, productive and satisfying.

And a creamy vegetarian lasagne with zucchini, leeks and peas from Heidi Sze. I'm currently reading her first book and it is lovely, even if you're not a mum. It's full of healthy recipes, kind words on practicing self compassion and gentle reminders to move your body as much as you can.


Hello weekend

04 October 2019

This week had so many small highlights - a new cookbook, my best ever homemade pizza (our house smelt like a pizzeria afterwards!), a long after work walk, plus plenty of time with friends over coffee, breakfast and orange wine. I feel like it bodes well for the long weekend :) Tonight we're heading to a fave cafe that has just started doing nights. And while I loved spending a few sunny days in Sydney, it's always nice to be home. To share this week:

Crushing on this light and bright West Hollywood apartment.

Diane Keaton is on Instagram! And writes all of her captions in caps.

I listened to the pasta special of Highly Enthused and made the spaghetti al limone. As promised, it was the best supper for one.

I bought my very first Diana Henry cookbook this week, to inspire simpler weeknight dinners.

Kate Berry's daily routine (and a peak inside her super sweet home).

And a strawberry shortcake recipe just in time for the long weekend. It's from Julia Ostro and it is buttery, creamy and sweet - basically the perfect kind of afternoon tea.

P.S I bought a painting! A few weekends ago, I found a Sally M. Nangala Munda work that moved me and it was delivered at the end of last week. I stumbled across her depictions of  town camp life on a trip to Sydney in June. I am stoked to own my very own piece.

Spring long weekend plans

29 September 2019

It may still be Sunday afternoon but I'm already day dreaming about the long weekend that's right around the corner. My parents and brother will be in town to hang out and celebrate my niece's sixth birthday. We've talked about a fish and chip picnic by the lake, a trip to a late night Indonesian diner and we almost always end up at the local gelato shop - because my dad loves it.

My favourite thing to do on a long weekend (or any weekend really) is try a new and slightly more decadent recipe. Next weekend I'm planning to make braised beef short ribs and rice and serve an apple crisp with ice cream for dessert.

If you're planning an extra yummy meal too, I can highly recommend Ottolenghi's chicken marbella (roast chicken with dates, olives and capters) and baked saffron rice. I made both this weekend and we ate them in our friend's sunny backyard.

The best thing about this meal is that you can do most of the prep ahead of time - I marinated the chicken for the full two recommended days, turning it every now and then. The rice bakes in 25 minutes (and has onion, plenty of garlic and saffron) and stays warm, so you can easily bake it before the chicken and pack up both if you're heading to a picnic. It meant we could have a decent Sunday sleep in, blueberry bagels and coffee for brekkie before getting a start on the rice and then roasting the chicken. We were out of the house before 12!

Other plans for next weekend... getting stuck into Three Women (my library reserve finally came good) and a lakeside walk with friends from yoga (with a pit stop for homemade salted miso brownies). The only thing left to do is get through the working week ;) I'll be heading back to Sydney for a couple of days, which has been the best excuse to make a booking at Bella Brutta for pizza.

Have a lovely week!


Hello weekend

27 September 2019

After spending last weekend and much of this week recovering from a cold, I feel extra ready to soak up the sun, catch up with friends  and just be a bit more normal. On Sunday, we're making lunch with friends and planning the menu around Jewish new year. I'm making Chicken Marbella from Ottolenghi's book Simple, which my brother Derrick has made and loved. I'll be making a big pot of baked saffron rice too. Onto some good things to share:

A hand cream that smells of smoke and not flowers.

Current obsession: these strangely soothing Instagram dance videos.

Super excited to try Adam Liaw's five mushroom pasta next week, as recommended by Irini.

Lindsay Cameron Wilson's food writing always transports me to another place. I savoured her thoughts on marriage and coffee.

The behind the scenes of the Harvey Weinstein investigation episode of Fresh Air is fascinating, disturbing and well worth a listen. Via The High Low.

I'm reading A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts atm and every chapter ends with a recipe. A banana cake with Rolo cake sounds pretty genius to me.

Finally, an actually easy quiche from ABC Life with goats' cheese and asparagus. The filling is so wonderfully silky and I can see that this recipe is going to be so easy to adapt and play with.


Swedish apple pie

24 September 2019

My friend Andy introduced me to Swedish apple pie a few months ago and I've been hassling her for the recipe ever since. It's as comforting as a double crust apple pie (my favourite) but without the effort - it only takes 15 minutes to assemble. In my mind, that makes it a perfect weekday dessert and just the thing for this in between period as we transition from winter to spring (it snowed in Canberra just last week!). Here's a slightly tinkered version of Andy's recipe.

Swedish Apple Pie
Serves 4-6

You'll need:
4-6 Granny Smith apples, peel still on and cut into 3cm cubes
125g unsalted butter (half a block), cold and cut into cubes
125g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
125g plain flour (1 cup and 2 Tbsp)
Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Here's how:
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 24cm pie dish or baking dish with butter.

Wash and core your apples before chopping them into cubes that are around 3cm in size. Put these directly into your pie dish as you go - until it's almost full. You may only need 4-5 apples.

Make the pie crust by adding the sugar and flour to a medium sized bowl and lightly whisking to combine. Add the cubes of cold butter, pinching it into the flour mixture to incorporate. Once a dough starts to form, bring it together with your hands and lightly knead it. Roll it into a ball and then move it onto a floured surface. If you have time to rest it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, it might be sturdier to work with, and give you a smoother pie topping. I am never this patient.

Dust a rolling pin with flour and then carefully roll the dough until it's about 0.5-1cm thick and slightly bigger than your baking dish. It's a crumbly dough so you might have to stop midway to dust it with a bit more flour. When you're happy with the thickness, gently drape it over the apple mixture. If it breaks (mine always does), you can do it in pieces, tucking the apple in around the edges, and gently pressing the dough down to meld if it's become more of a patchwork crust.

At this point you could rest it in the fridge if you're making it in advance. You could also brush it with some egg wash and a sprinkling of raw sugar for extra crunch. It's also fine to go into the oven as is. Bake for 40-45 minutes on the middle shelf until it's golden brown and smelling great. Enjoy with ice cream!