Tag Archives: spring to do list

Arrivederci Spring, it’s been swell……

30 Nov

Spring has definitely sprung but she’s been an unpredictable mistress this year.

My trees all have leaves and my roses are blooming, but half the time the weather doesn’t know if it’s hot or cold, so it’s usually a little of both on any given day…….Sydney-siders could be forgiven for thinking they’re in Melbourne (a little in joke for the Aussies).

Kiki, who was so little at the beginning of Spring, has experienced her first heat rash. She’s trying valiantly to sit up if for nothing else but to make herself a smaller target for D Man who bounces around her like Tigger. D Man appears to have rollicked into the Terrible Twos with gusto. I saw something recently that said -

‘Why is is called the Terrible Twos? Because Fucking Awful doesn’t start with T’.

He’s still my divine little man, but I now cannot take my eyes off him for a second without discovering him smothering his sister with love and pillows/toys/his butt, or ruining something.

I smashed the To Do List this season…..a little flurry at the end, but I nailed everything and I feel pretty pleased with myself, truth be known. Some things were more successful than others, so let’s break down the season that was…..

Grow my own veges

This wouldn’t have happened without my Dad. He made us a cracking vege patch (with the help of D Man and myself, of course) and it’s has just gone from strength to strength. We’ve been eating cos like it grows on trees, or in the ground as the case may be. Tomatoes are just getting their first blush and we’ve eaten spring onions, and beetroot, with PLENTY more to come.

I must admit that my cucumbers are bloody awful. Bitter and woody, I think I left them too late but I also planted a strain meant for pots on balconies……perhaps I should have planted some sweet little Lebanese numbers cos these suck balls.

Otherwise, a roaring success! Check out my Papa’s handwork here

Cook a rabbit

The flavour of this was great, but the wild versus farmed rabbit part bit me in the butt cos this little jumper was way too lean and tough to cook like this. In all fairness to Maggie Beer, she did specify farmed but I couldn’t find it on the day I was all inspired to do this so I forged ahead regardless. More fool me.

Next time (and I will do rabbit again one day) I shall do a long slow braise and really let Bugs break down and become all fally-aparty.

If you want to have a look at how that went, it’s here

A backyard picnic with friends

This was such a lovely afternoon with some really special people in our lives. We have a lovely South Australian Honey Myrtle in our garden and it provides the most delicious dappled shade for us to lounge under……we ate, we lounged, and our friend played human helicopters with the kids.

The weather was perfect, the food was plentiful and the wine was cold. Can you ask for anything more from a picnic?

I told the story with images here

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

I really love these. They’re perfect picnic food but they also work for a little interactive dinner party. Just pile all of the stuff in the middle of the table and let your guests roll-their-own….and it means you don’t have to do the work. Win/win.

Have a look how to do it here

Make mini-cheesecakes

I shall revisit this one for shizzle…..these little babies were awesome, and there really was a moment that I thought they were magical because no matter how many of the little suckers I ate, there was always another plateful in the fridge!!

I think I will try another flavour next time, not because strawberry wasn’t the bomb, but we’ve done that now so, brave explorers that we are, it’s time to try another angle…..maybe Fruit of the Passion, or Berry of the Blue.

If you want to have a crack, or just read about it, go here 

Make ricotta

I’d been dying to make my own ricotta and it really is the cheat’s cheese. It’s really just curdled milk, but it’s so wonderfully delectable that you can be forgiven for thinking it’s something fancier. I turned mine into an old family favourite with Pineapple Curd Cake……ermhagherd……….delish.

My pen-pal Genie is an adventurous cheese maker so I shared the recipe over on her blog, Bunny Eats Design…..pop over for a look here

BBQ a whole fish

This meal was a special meal shared with a special friend, who met my family for the first time. This particular fish represented a friendship being rekindled, and a bridge being built. I will always be grateful to Steve the Snapper who gallantly gave up his life to lie gracefully on my BBQ and be a memorable meal.

Three cheers for Steve.

Hip Hip……….!!!!!

I had a few people contact me about this piece, so I think it struck a few chords. If you missed it, you can see it here

Make bloody croissants!!!

BOOM!!!

CHECK ME OUT

Cook American style ribs

Oh, sweet baby Jesus, these little puppies were AAAAAAAAAALL that…..and then some.

The sweet, sticky, smoky pigginess was everything we could hope for, and I will abso-piggin’-lutely be doing these again. Next time I will be more vigilant in ensuring my ribs are the perfect cut, but there was not a single murmur of complaint.

If you don’t have a BBQ, go and get one immediately…….then read how to make these for yourself here

Make homemade baked beans

Last, but certainly not least, we ate beans.

Coincidently, you are also looking at my very first ever poached egg. I’m a master of the scramble and can boil with my eyes closed but I knew for the perfect beans on toast, my oeuf had to be poached.
My darling friend, who is not a natural in the kitchen, gave me a quick run down and I have to admit that I thought ‘If that Muppet can do it, so can I’. Sorry, Lipsteo.

Under her tutelage I’m proud to announce it was perfectly cooked. Can’t remember for the life of me what the timing was, but my yolk was exactly the right consistency to burst it’s yellow ookieness all over the beans, creating a breakfast that if I bought in a cafe, I’d be 100% satisfied.

That, my dear friends, was Spring…….let’s get ready to welcome Summer.

Devour Literature or Trash, Just Read……and Eat Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls.

11 Oct

I read some really frightening statistics this morning, courtesy of Bunny. Eats. Design.

Here they are -

One third of high school graduates will never read another book for the rest of their lives. (THAT’S 1 in 3!!!!)

42 percent of college graduates never read a book after college. (THAT’S ALMOST 1 in 2!!!!)

This is the one though…..

80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year. (WTF!!!!! 80%??????? 8 out of 10………4 out of 5!!!!!!)

This is not referring to a lack of literacy in the slightest, but a lack of love for reading.

My parents read to me all the time, and in turn I read to my kids daily. It’s something nice to do, and it passes the time.

Obviously, they have their books and I have mine, but I get to climb into bed at the end of the day, after hiding the ‘Big Book of Dinosaurs’ in hope of being able to read a different book for D Man tomorrow (I cant be the only one that does that?), and open my book of choice and disappear from my suburban monotony bliss into whichever heady world I choose.
I adore reading. I adore words. I guess that’s why I love the sound of my own ‘type’ so much, but to imagine a life without being able to slide into an imaginary world at the turn of a page, doesn’t bear thinking about.

I just finished Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell. You know, the one they made the Meryl Streep movie out of?
Hardly War & Peace but a very fun and funny read.

Let me tell you, as one would suspect, the book shat on the movie.
The reason for this is because Julie Powell, the author/crazy woman who tackled every recipe in Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 12 months is quite naughty.

She’s candid, she swears like a trucker and she had a gustatory baptism of fire that she is very honest about. Harvesting bone marrow and killing a lobster are not for the faint of heart.

I think it struck a chord due to the very nature of the book (cooking/blogging/eating/drinking). The book was also realistic about the fact that all that butter-laden French food made her arse balloon. I found it unbelievable in the film when Amy Adams maintained her svelte appearance regardless of the lashing of cream and duck fat she scoffed daily.

Anyhoo, read my peeps. Read. It’s better than TV.
It invites your imagination to spark and not be spoon fed imagery.
Don’t get me wrong, TV has a place, but don’t let it be the only form of entertainment in your home.

Reading to your children is proven to increase their intelligence, and comprehension. The experts say that children need 1,000 stories read to them before they begin to learn to read for themselves. Sounds like a lot? It’s just three stories a day over a year (according to Huggies).

Ok, off my soapbox…all that ranting has made me peckish so I thought I’d share another of my Spring To Do List recipes.

I love these fresh spring rolls. We sometimes go to a roll-your-own Vietnamese restaurant in Newtown, Sydney, but making them at home is so simple, delicious and healthy.
Traditionally, the Vietnamese use pork and prawns in theirs, however, I’ve also had lemon grass beef, and sugar cane prawns.

I was making these for a picnic so I kept it quick and easy……..my two favorite ingredients to any recipe!

I’m always disappointed when they have too much noodle action and not enough filling action so you can make your own ratio up to please your palate…..but, trust me, my way is really yummy!

I also put the sauce inside for ease of little people, and big people, eating outdoors, but you can make a separate dipping sauce if you want.

Yield : 14 rolls

You will need :

  • 1/2 BBQ chicken, or duck for extra yum, shredded
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 spring onions, julienned
  • 1/2 packet bean shoots
  • 1 good handful of mint leaves
  • 1 good handful of coriander leaves
  • crushed peanuts
  • 100g vermicelli, I prefer green bean vermicelli but simple rice is fine
  • 1 packet of rice paper
  • 2 tablespoons ketcup manis (sweet soy)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce


Set yourself up a work station so everything you need is at hand.
Fill a baking tray with hot water, not scalding, just hot, and dip your rice paper in for 5 seconds.
Once upon a time I thought you had to leave it in until it was totally pliable and wet, but you don’t at all. In fact, it still feels quite cardboard-y after 5 seconds but it gets more pliable as it sits, and it’s way more manageable.

Smear a small amount of your sauce on the bottom and then add a little bit of your chicken, then your vegetables, then your herbs, bean shoots and top it with some noodles. Sprinkle some nuts on top and fold the bottom of your rice paper up, creating a semi-circle. Fold in the sides, one at a time and then simple roll the rest into a neat cigar.
Theoretically.

Call the first one a practice one, ok?
Repeat, and repeat and repeat, until you’re over it or your ingredients are gone.

If your first one looks dodgerama, maybe try a little less filling……You’ll be a pro in no time.

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A Backyard Picnic With Friends….Smoked Trout Salad

25 Sep picnic13

It was a glorious Spring day. After weeks of false starts, it was a divine 26 degrees and couldn’t have been more perfect for my backyard picnic.
Gorgeous friends, yummy food, laughter and love.
That’s what I’m talking about.

There will be more recipes from this day to come over the following weeks….until then, you’ll have to satisfy your hunger with this perfect Spring salad.

Yield – enough for 4 as main or 7 as part of a meal

You will need – 

  • 1 smoked trout
  • 2 cups pasta, penne or farfalle ideal
  • 1/2 spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup peas – frozen is fine
  • 1 cup broad beans – frozen is fine
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody stalks removed and chopped into 1.5cm chunks
  • 3 big handfuls of rocket
  • 150g ricotta
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, flesh removed, finely chopped – if you have it
  • a big slug of good salad olive oil
  • lemon pepper if you have it or just salt and pepper will do

Cook your pasta in salted water. Drain and cool.
Pick your trout into a large bowl, taking care to remove all little bones. Throw in your rocket and chopped onions.
Toss your broad beans into a pot of boiling water, when tender – 3 or 4 minutes – drain and leave to cool. Remove the tough outer skin when they are cool enough to handle. Quickly blanch your asparagus, peas ensuring to leave them with a little bite. Drain and cool.
Toss your green vegetables onto your salad, add your pasta, preserved lemon, lemon juice and oil and ricotta.
Season generously and toss.

Shhhhh, We are hunting Pot-Woasted Wabbit with Mustard and Pwunes.

15 Sep

I’m an adventurous eater, but Mister H is far more so than myself.

He’ll stretch to offally, brainy, insidey bits that I just can’t get my head around. He’s not silly though, he has the same train of thought as myself in the fact that if you’re ever going to eat something that challenges your brain, eat it in a fine dining restaurant.

The things a great chef can do with wacky ingredients is always inspirational and if you can put your judgemental ‘but I don’t like that’ pouting brain to one side and just chew, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

I have eaten rabbit a couple of times, always in this very situation. A brilliant chef has pimped my bunny so it’s unrecognisable and served stacked or drizzled and foamed and I eat a tiny morsel for an exorbitant cost. It may not sound like it, but I bloody love fine dining.

Another thing that has become a rare treat since spawning.

I’ve had rabbit rillettes, and rolled stuffed rabbit, both with martinis and wine under my belt, so I can’t properly recall the subtle nuances of the dishes.

Anyhoo, I’ve wanted to try cooking a rabbit for a few years but I’ve always been too….too…..ummmm, nervous? wary?
Not sure.

The only whole animal I’ve ever dealt with is a chicken and they’re not really cute in life so it doesn’t phase me. Does that make me shallow?

I have to admit to you that when I had that whole rabbit on my chopping board, I was a little bit challenged. Jointing it and prepping it wasn’t exactly difficult, but it’s sure not buying your cut ready from the butcher.
If you’re trying this, you can do that FYI, but I really wanted to do the full Monty.

I thought I would turn to the doyenne of cooking, Maggie Beer, for a little help with this. She’s into the down-home, on the farm, rustic stuff so I had a feeling she was going to be my best ally.

Her recipe called for a fat, farmed rabbit and all I could find was a wild one, so I knew that I would need to adjust my cooking time accordingly as wild rabbits are much leaner and therefore would have a tendency to become tough if not treated with the appropriate love and care. She also called for the kidneys and liver, but you know what?
I’m challenging myself plenty enough as it is, thank you very much, Mrs Beer.

I also need lemon thyme but baby brain made me grab rosemary instead. Dufus.
I’ve used dry thyme instead.

Yield : 4

You will need :

  • 1 x 1.6kg rabbit
  • 2 stalks sage
  • 6 stalks lemon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 12 small pickling onions
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 100g pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup verjuice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Joint your rabbit into front and back legs and saddle. Cut your saddle into three or four pieces. Using a sharp knife remove any sinew from the saddle.
Combine your rabbit pieces with mustard, sage, thyme and olive oil. Cover with plastic film and leave at room temperature for one hour.

Meanwhile, blanch onions in a saucepan of simmering water for 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then peel and set aside.

Heat your butter with a little olive oil added in a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat until it is nut brown. Add rabbit pieces and gently cook over a low heat, turning occasionally, for 4 minutes or until lightly coloured, then take out of pan and set aside. Toss your onions into the pan and give them a little colour for 5 minutes or until golden. Return rabbit to pan, add prunes, then deglaze with verjuice.


Add your stock and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 6 minutes.
Turn rabbit pieces over, then reduce heat and cook until tender. Saddle pieces are cooked when they feel pliable to the touch, and muscles separate easily from leg bone. If cooked, then remove and set aside to rest. Otherwise, continue cooking until tender, taking care not to overcook. Remove rabbit, then simmer pan juices over a high heat until reduced and syrupy.

Return rabbit to sauce, season to taste and serve.

I served it with delicious creamy parmesan polenta and asparagus.
The verdict?

Well, it was delicious, if a little tough.
I think next time, if I had a wild rabbit, I will go for a slow cook and aim to make it falling it apart yummy because the flavour of this was all that!
I would only use farmed rabbit for this recipe, however, I think chicken or pork would be great with these flavours.

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