Blistered Summer Salad

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Do you remember how great summer holidays were as a kid? A seemingly endless expanse of time when the daily routine of school-homework-weekends was suspended in a glut of play. I don’t remember the specifics of summer holidays but I do remember the rhythms. Cricket, of course – on the radio, on the television – accompanied by backyard cricket . We used an old wicker basket in place of stumps and stray balls routinely smashed the back windows. I wasn’t actually much of a player myself, so was regularly sent on runs up the bad-tempered neighbours driveway to rescue lost balls. Summer barbecues, swimming in friends’ pools, camping by the beach, icy poles, late nights.  Continue reading “Blistered Summer Salad”

Eggplant Orzo Salad

eggplant-orzo-salad-landscape

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”

Romanesco Cauliflower, Chickpea & Mint Salad

cauliflower-asparagus-mint-salad-birdseye-fork

We just got back from a two week sojourn to Ubud, Bali, hence the lateness of this post. I did have it all cued up and ready to go while we were away but alas, we were struck with the slow internets. It’s hard to care too much though about slow internets when you’re lounging around in a sarong eating fresh mango and papaya all day.

So I actually made (and devoured) this salad a few weeks ago, when the weather was still on the cusp of summer, when there was still a hint of cool breeze in the evening. This is a perfect season-cusp salad, with the heartiness of cauliflower combined with the spring of mint and pomegranate. Since we got back though, the heat seems to have settled in. Brisbane is dry – the park is a sea of dusty brown and street-side trees are withering and dying with all of the lack-of-rain. Continue reading “Romanesco Cauliflower, Chickpea & Mint Salad”

Summer Bircher Muesli

summer-bircher-bowl

A few weeks ago on a lightning trip down to Melbourne, I visited my friend’s lovely cafe. We sat out under the white umbrellas in the courtyard, and chatted as our respective children sleep angelically (hers) and crawled around the grass (mine). I’d already had breakfast, but I did have a bite of her apple-y, cinnamon-y bircher muesli. It was YUM.

Bircher muesli is easily one of my favourite breakfasts, but for a long time it was only one that I would have in cafes. We used to go to a cafe in Brunswick that served their bircher with cream and pistachios – overly decadent for brekky but oh-so-goooood. Another Brunswick cafe around the corner from our house served their bircher in a tall glass, the muesli and poached fruit arranged in layers, topped with yoghurt and toasted almonds.  Continue reading “Summer Bircher Muesli”

Israeli Cous Cous with Heirloom Carrots

cous-cous-salad-fork

It’s great when a dish unexpectedly comes together. I’d picked up this Israeli cous cous at Mick’s Nuts (!) a couple of weeks ago with no plan for it in mind, but just because I love it and don’t come across it all that often. It’s the texture that I love – like eating mini-marbles! Then at the market on the weekend S casually pointed out a bunch of heirloom carrots at a stall we were strolling past, and while I was at the register about to pay for them, a big pile of sunset-coloured pomegranates tempted me, so I got one of those too.

The rest came together pretty easily. I’d been wanting to whip up a batch of date syrup to use as an alternative sweetener for a while now, and we always have fresh parsley and mint in the fridge. My mum had just sent me a bag of rose petals (which I had in mind for a whole other dish that I haven’t gotten around to making yet), and we had some baharat spice mix left over from the meatballs that S cooked a while back for our Middle Eastern Feast. Continue reading “Israeli Cous Cous with Heirloom Carrots”