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
I spent about an hour this afternoon gardening. I’ve still got dirt underneath my fingernails, and smudged on the knees of my jeans. We don’t actually have a garden per se, it’s more of a terrace. But it’s big and sunny, and we’ve been slowly filling it with greenery. When we first moved in we inherited a few plants – rosemary and thyme, a small olive tree and a dry lavender bush, as well as loads of mint. We’ve since added flowers for the kids, a rose bush that S brought home this morning, a cumquat tree, tomato bushes, Vietnamese mint, parsley, coriander, lettuce leaves, a chilli plant, and a slender ghost gum. Everything is planted in a haphazard mix of terracotta pots and wooden planter boxes.
This detailed rundown of our garden, though, is actually a roundabout explanation for why this is my first post in some three months. Gah!
Continue reading Blackberry Pavlova
“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
– Maya Angelou
Moving back to Melbourne feels like… home. The skyline, the trams, the strong coffee, the terrace houses, the bitter winds. All so familiar, like slipping on a second skin. Last weekend I went out for beers with one of my oldest, dearest friends. He suggested a bar in the city. It was a rainy night. Walking up a blue-stoned alleyway, lights reflecting off the wet ground, to a bar all but invisible until you stumble upon it. This. This felt like homecoming. Continue reading Rhubarb & Rose Muffins
It is necessary to pick 150,000 crocuses
in order to produce one kilogram of saffron.
Soon, she’ll crouch again above each crocus,
feel how the scales set by fate, by misfortune
are an awesome tonnage: a weight opposing…
– from ‘The Saffron Picker’ by Judith Beveridge
For a traveller to India, there is wealth of beautiful goods to bring back home. Textiles, silver jewellery, gemstones, pashmina shawls, perfume extracts, darjeeling tea. But for me, travelling as light as possible, the treasures that I always made sure to stow deep in my bag before leaving India were small rectangular boxes of deeply crimson saffron threads. Continue reading Saffron & Aniseed Cake with Yoghurt Glaze
My desk is a small, white, wooden number with a set of drawers on the left. The desktop is chipped and nicked, scarred and smudgy. I’ve had it for over seven years now. It’s seen me through all sorts of houses and various endeavours – planning festivals, uni essays, story writing, starting this here blog.
I brought it up north with me from Melbourne. I first got it when we lived in the small terrace house by the train line. It belonged to a friend of my mum’s and despite its small size, it does have a wide girth and so wouldn’t fit in the front door. We had to rope it in through the front window and so it continued to live in the front room, overlooking the trains and the cars and the raggedy white rose bush in the front garden. Continue reading Rose Petal, Cashew & Olive Oil Granola
This is my last rhubarb post for the year. I do love rhubarb; its tartness, its vibrant colour, its all-round deliciousness. But the weather is starting to get warmer up here in Brisbane and new fruits are beginning to appear at the market, so I think I’ve had my fill of rhubarb till next year rolls around.
This is a straight up crumble – easy to make and the perfect comfort food. Though I usually try and use coconut or olive oil in much of my baking these days, when it comes to crumble I’m all about the butter. I’ve tried it a few different ways, but I just think buttery-crumble is superior. I’ve spiced this particular crumble up with a little rosewater and cardamom, but I’ve made an equally delicious version replacing the rosewater and cardamom with the rind and juice of one orange, or even by replacing the ground almonds with ground hazelnuts. Unlike a lot of other baking, making crumbles isn’t an exact science, so go ahead and experiment! Continue reading Rhubarb Rosewater Crumble
Many years ago I spent about 12 months living in a big old share house on top of the hill in Brunswick. It had a bright red front door and a hallway full of bikes in various states of use and repair. It was right next to car wash in which we held some pretty epic parties, and it had a lovely green garden that caught the morning light.
It was a great place to live – I made good friends there, and wrote most of my thesis there as well. The one downside was that it was freezing fucking cold during the long Melbourne winters. My room was out the back and had this great big window overlooking the backyard. Beautiful in summer letting in all the light, but so cold in winter letting in the air gusts between the cracks. I used to hunker down in bed, dreading the midnight toilet run. Continue reading Toasted Oat Porridge with Boozy Poached Pears