Cinnamon Cake with Labneh Frosting

I made this cake for my niece’s second birthday a couple of weeks ago. A pretty chilled out afternoon – balmy weather, an assortment of salads, cold beers, barbecued snags, kids underfoot. It was a family affair, and my niece had a great-grandmother there from both her dad – my brother – and her mum’s side. Coming from an immigrant family that was almost decimated in World War II, it was especially poignant to have four generations sitting around the table together.

My sister-in-law is one of my favourite people to bake for – she has a killer sweet tooth and so my efforts are always appreciated. I wanted to make a cake for this occasion that had a classic feel – something simple yet sophisticated . I opted for an airy double-layer cinnamon cake – appropriately autumnal – finished off with a rich labneh frosting, tangy and celebratory. I topped it with a bounty of fresh berries too, mostly for the pretty.  Continue reading Cinnamon Cake with Labneh Frosting

Roasted Carrot, Cauliflower & Black Lentil Salad

“But then the dark skin of night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us, glossy and colourful as a child’s transfer and tinged with the same sense of unreality.”

– from My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Pre-dawn on Monday morning T and I boarded our train home. I had no coffee, and T was yawning, but watching the sunrise unfold along the horizon from the window of a speeding train made up for all of it. The first lick of colour was an egg-yolk yellow fading up to green, silhouetting the trees in front a deep black. Ever so gradually the sky began to blush blue, until the fiery orange sun finally broke its banks. T’s excited yells woke all of the sleeping train passengers; such is the beauty of discovery as a child.  Continue reading Roasted Carrot, Cauliflower & Black Lentil Salad

Pistachio Dukkah

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I’m sitting on the couch, cross-legged, woolen socks on. It’s late afternoon, raining outside, low grey skies, seeping damp. Both of the kids are asleep. I’m balancing a milky cup of earl grey tea and a thick slice of banana bread on the couch armrest. Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook is open on the table in front of me – I’m planning Swiss Chard Fritters and Mejadra for dinner tonight.

A moment of calm in the chaos. Continue reading Pistachio Dukkah

Roasted Veges with Coconut Turmeric Sauce

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Designers want me to dress like Spring, in billowing things. I don’t feel like Spring. I feel like a warm red Autumn.”
– Marilyn Monroe

Apologies for the radio silence, but I have a good excuse. We’ve just moved – both house and state – with all of the chaos that entails. After almost six years in Brisbane we’re back down south, back in the land of great coffee and cold winters, black outfits and flat vistas. Back home. Luckily, we’re down in time for autumn, my very favourite Melbourne season – purple twilight, red autumn leaves, wine bars, crisp mornings and sunny afternoons. Continue reading Roasted Veges with Coconut Turmeric Sauce

Brown Butter Cardamom Cake with Chai Buttercream Frosting

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Content warning: many swears to follow, ‘coz sometimes only a fuck will do.

It struck my quite forcibly recently that I’m not just growing up, I’m growing older as well. We live in a house at the front of a rather large block; up the very back of the block are two more houses that share the same path as us, so that to reach them you have to pass by our house. Living in one of the back houses is a young couple recently moved to Brisbane, and the other is a share house of music students. Last week, one of the musicians stopped us on the path to let us know that they would be having a party on Saturday night, complete with a live band. I hope that’s okay. We assured him it was no problem for us. His reply? Thanks for being so awesome about it. He didn’t invite us to come along. Continue reading Brown Butter Cardamom Cake with Chai Buttercream Frosting

Roasted Sweet Potato & Turmeric Soup

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It’s a mid-winter afternoon. The skies are heavy with bruised purple clouds, the light low and dark. I’m in the kitchen, sock-clad and lights on. The oven is heating and the room is warm; it smells of spices and roasting and comfort. The kids are sleeping and I’m listening to Philip Glass soft in the background. The bench is covered in peel and peppercorns and all kinds of mess. I’m cooking soup.

Soup is the ultimate comfort food. And spending time in front of a hot stove on a cold day is one of life’s pleasures. Soon after we moved to Brisbane we bought a big red Le Creuset pot. Over time it has become marked with use; scarred, if you will. No longer one of many exactly the same, but uniquely ours. There is something timeless about cooking a pot of soup in the Le Creuset, a sense of connecting to a long line of women cooking soup in big pots. My friend Nev describes it as a harking; “Le creuset is of a historical period, steeped in tradition and pretend memories.”    Continue reading Roasted Sweet Potato & Turmeric Soup