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

Roasted Cauliflower, Spelt & Za’atar Bowl

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Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
– from ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Shakespeare

First up, an apology. Things have been sporadic and rather quiet around here of late. Mostly because the last few months have been crazy for us – we moved interstate in April and since then it’s been a cacophony of new jobs, new daycare for the kids, new houses, renovations, getting used to the cold cold Melbourne weather. It’ll be another month, at least, ’til things settle back down. And then I will definitely be back – I’ve got a long list of kitchen ideas on various bits of paper, in my diary, on the back pages of books I’m reading. Continue reading Roasted Cauliflower, Spelt & Za’atar Bowl

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

Shakshuka with Schug + Herby Zucchini Salad

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Not that long ago, a special occasion called for booze and parties, wild costumes and late nights/early mornings. In these present days of small children and being all grown up, special occasions are mostly food-based. Afternoon barbecues, civilised early dinners, pancake breakfasts, brunch. Which is alright by me, truth be told. I like going to sleep early, and I like to cook. And I love to eat.

And so for Mother’s Day this year, I put on a brunch. First time cooking for guests in our new house. I’m not really one for the hallmark-card holidays. S and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day and since having kids we haven’t really paid much attention to the parents days either. But we’re back in our home town now where the various members of our extended family live, and so this year we celebrated Mother’s Day with my mum and her partner, my little brother, and my older brother, his wife, and their daughter. Continue reading Shakshuka with Schug + Herby Zucchini Salad

Eggplant Orzo Salad

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It was bigger than an emu’s dark brown egg
But smooth and glossy. Its outside was curiously hard
If you picked it up. Like a turtle egg it bowed
With a sort of elasticity to the touch. I dug
A fingernail in. Beneath the purple surface.
The taste, we knew, would be strange, perhaps poisonous.

– From ‘Eggplant’ by Thomas W. Shapcott, in The City of Empty Rooms

I’ve had a rocky relationship with eggplant (aubergine) over the years. It was one of the few foods I went off during my pregnancies. It can be difficult to cook well, and after a few kitchen disasters I avoided cooking it myself at all, for many years. So often the vegetarian stand-in for meat at pubs and restaurants, I could stand never to see a soggy slice of eggplant laden down with tomato sauce and cheese again. Continue reading Eggplant Orzo Salad

Roasted Carrots, Crispy Lentils & Spicy Yoghurt

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The crazy vegetables
Uncurled
Their tendrills and leaf-crowns,
Throbbing bulbs,
In the sub-soil
The carrot
With its red mustaches
Was sleeping…

From ‘Ode To The Artichoke’ by Pable Neruda

Pablo Neruda was one of the first poets that I learned to love, and one that I still love to this day. I have several of his collections sitting on my book shelf, tattered and well-thumbed, as all good books are. A prolific poet, his work is considerable. He is probably best known for his love poems and sonnets which are, undoubtedly, some of the finest you will ever read. Continue reading Roasted Carrots, Crispy Lentils & Spicy Yoghurt

Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts & Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing

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We were woken up at 3am on Sunday morning with a sudden roar of wind and rain. W cried out in fright, and it sounded as though the trees out the front were creaking and cracking and breaking. Whenever I’m cosy in bed listening to wild weather outside I’m always reminded of the fantastic tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz. Although of course when we woke up on Sunday morning we were still in Brisbane.

And so I bundled the kids up in jackets and scarves and beanies in anticipation of the cold front that was predicted to hit. Indeed, it was forecast for -3°c in Brisbane. And let me remind you that Brisbane is in the sub-tropics, so that is crazy talk. Turned out the cold front wasn’t quite that cold. Sure, it’s been chilly, and we’ve been wearing or woolens for the last 48 hours, but it hasn’t quite reached into the minus degrees. Not even close, thankfully. I did not move all the way to Queensland to be cold. Continue reading Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts & Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing