Friday, February 26, 2010

Cheap Eats 2010 arrives-

I love the arrival of a fresh book- particularly when it's full of great places to eat!
So here tis! Cheap Eats 2010 hit stands this week, and for the second year in a row my name is in tiny little letters in the contributors section. Good fun and happy eating to all those insatiable munchers out there.

May you find delicious and reasonably priced eats around every corner.

Epicure article: The Age Cheap Eats 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

The best salad ever:

Okay- 'the best salad ever' might be a bit of an over statement. After all, I've still got an awful lot of salad to try before my tasty time on this earth is dine, errr done.
In the meantime, let's go for 'the best salad yet' for this finocchio treat (and yes I do know that finocchio is also slang for poof in Italian- so I have a number of friends who LOVE this salad for just the reason! Yay for Mardi Gras!).
And I'll freely admit that I am in love with it, for it's cute name and flavour.
Happily, so is Patience, so there's a lot of salad on the menu right now. Which is great considering I have 9 months to get ship-shape for my wedding dress and a whole lot of good eating to do between now and then- and I don't plan on stinting in the food department, maybe just modifying is all. Damned be diets! So finding an adorable salad option that makes a meal all on its own is just a win-win-win for me!


  • 2 medium fennel bulbs- finely shredded
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts- smashed
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • good squeeze lemon juice (we use half a lemon)
  • drizzle of olive oil (best quality really makes all the difference)
  • grind of fresh cracked black pepper
  • Tablespoon fresh mint- shredded
  • dash of white wine vinegar
In a mortar and pestle smash the coriander seeds, walnuts and salt- then lightly toast in a hot frypan. When the fragrances are released, take it off the heat- you don't want this to burn. Put to one side.
In a large salad bowl toss shredded fennel, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper, mint and red-wine vinegar to coat and combine. Toss through the toasted nut mix and last or all add the pomegranate molasses. Toss through and serve in a big white bowl as a light and satisfying dinner for two.
Serve with a chilled white or rose and then quietly drift away to heaven on a crunchy fenocchio salad dream.

Note: this salad was inspired by a recipe from the Elizabeth Bard novel with recipes Lunch in Paris- a perfect read for any lover, foodie, or lover in love with food... let us all eat fresh from the market and surrounded by love. Even in our darkest days.
* We sometime add some fennel seeds to the nut/seed mix too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The sweetness of honey

I've been obsessing over honey. It's been like this since early Spring.

Written late Sept- 2009:
I see blossoms, I think bees and then I get all gooey over honey. And today while I was out for a stroll in the early Spring sunshine, praying desperately that some would inch its way into the depths of my winter weary soul, it happened- hovering just on the edge of hearing, the first thrumming hum of the blooming weather.
It took a minute for my eyes to adjust, but once I fixed focus on the little white flowers, I started to see them, fat bottomed bees darting in and out of the corners of my consciousness.
It's a happy moment when you tune in to their pollen collecting world.
My focus has recently been tuned of course. Affected by the beautiful honey story of Grace Pundyk and her sticky sweet journey in The Honey Spinner.
When you drift off to sleep on the back of an Arabian honey tale, no wonder you dream viscous dreams and wake up with nothing but honeycomb on the brain.
Back in the present- many months later and swamped by stories of city dwellers hoarding hives in backyards, on roofs and trucking them hither and thither on friends properties- I am still swimming in honied dreams. I have a pot of Tasmanian Leatherwood that I eek out into my chai tea and sneak spoonfuls of when no one is looking- it's pungent, herbal and buttery qualities lingering on the tongue.
I burn through various un-heat-treated and organic varieties, trying new ones at each trip to the market.
Christmas saw my sister gift me with a jar of Salvation Jane honey, the comb and all packed into it's glass jar. Patience has taken to chewing on nuggets of it, but only when he thinks I can't see.
We've had honey cakes, honey toast, honey tea and honey gin. You'd think that we'd be getting over it by now. But there's no sign of the obsession slowing.
I'm a stickler for supporting Aussie organic varieties, but can't help nabbing a Dabur for comparison from our local Indian grocery store (it was relegated to the 'cooking' pile).
I'm still looking for a jar of Australian native bee sugar-bag honey. But I'm not looking too hard, trying not to find it until I've whittled down at least some of my heaving honey stores...

But something still haunts me, tickling at the back of my mind.
I want to grow my own honey, start my own hives. I want to nurture a little colony and be gentle in what I take and leave for the bees. I want to label my own jars and gift them to friends and family. I want a stockpile of gluey golden gold.
One thing stands in my way... Patience and his allergy to bee-sting.
I'd like to say 'harden the fuck up'- but considering that he could potentially die if he swats one out of his way, perhaps this is a little inappropriate. And life without a hive is a damn sight easier than life without Patience.

Still- if I can't grown my own, the next best thing is to drown myself in it in the kitchen. And here is a favourite way to do it.
This recipe is adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion. 
But a test here and there has helped me tweak it until it's just right for my palate.

Loukoumathes with Ironbark honey from Tasmania:  
You have to make sure that the paste is really good and smooth and it's important to have the oil nice and hot, otherwise these little Greek darlings just won't puff up the way they should.
This is one of those recipes that once you've mastered, you can whip up just about anytime to much applause. It's easy and impressive. And with the right honey... oh so sticky divine.

  • 1 tps instant dried yeast
  • tiny pinch salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • olive oil for deep frying
  • Tasmanian leatherwood or other strong flavour honey to serve
  • icing sugar and cinnamon to dust over for serving


Mix the try ingredients (bar the cinnamon and icing sugar) thoroughly in a medium size bowl. Add the water a little at a time until you have a smooth paste. It's important to get it well past the dough stage to a reasonably runny paste with no lumps.
Heat the oil in a deep fry-pan and when really hot drop in spoonful (about a tablespoon) of the batter/paste. Fry until golden brown, turning to get even crunch.
Drain on paper towel and serve with a good dribble of leatherwood honey and a sprinkle of icing sugar and cinnamon to taste.
I like to serve these piping hot with a cup of mint tea. Delish at any time of the day.
Makes between 12 and 16 depending on the size you go for. I usually end up with fewer, bigger puff balls.