What We Ate- Feb 5th-12th- Happy Birthday Runner!

 

So, this week was a big week of birthday celebrations.

We kicked off the party on Friday night at a new restaurant in Surry Hills called Master.  It was tasty, trendy, and very unconventional.   As with most fancy restaurants these days, it was all share plates- which is nice for dinner for two, but can be a downer in a group.  Luckily, it was just The Runner and I.  We had quite a few different dishes- most were delicious and totally off the wall. Continue reading

What We Ate This Week: January 27th- February 4th- the best potatoes ever

 

So after all the excitement of tennis and tasty food in Melbourne, this week has been a bit, well boring.   Boring can be good.  We’ve been back to our normal routine this week (except for The Runner working ridiculously late nights and having a birthday on the horizon), but we’ve mostly been eating at home and cooking at home too. Continue reading

Hello Sweet ’16!

There are still just under 12 hours left in 2015, but I wanted to get in early with my greetings for a Happy 2016!

I’ve made my resolutions already and I’m busy preparing for a New Year’s Day brunch (as you do- or as I do really).  But mostly, I’m looking forward to 2016 and hope you are too.

Looking back on 2015, it was exactly the year that I needed.  The last 3 years have been full of the highest highs and the lowest low, so 2015 was a great year to just be.  I settled into a new job which I love (not as much as maybe winning the lottery and not working at all but….), visited three new countries that I’d never been to before (yes, I’m counting Dubai despite not leaving the airport), I tried to learn German (that did NOT go as well as I hoped) and kept doing many of the things that I love doing- cooking, pole dancing (despite breaking my toe early in the year), reading (32 books this year- just shy of my goal of 35), and of course, writing.  It was our first full year of marriage and a year that The Runner and I both learned a lot about ourselves- including resilience and patience (for me, more than him- he has the patience of the Saint of Patience).   I even had a surprise visit from The Mom.  Overall, it was a great year!

Tomorrow, we’ll start 2016 exactly how I hope it continues- with food and friends.  We’re hosting a New Year’s Day brunch filled with foods that will bring good luck and good fortune in the New Year (according to the internet!)

So, we’re having:

Whiskey, Marmalade and Mustard Glazed Ham– because in many cultures eating pork on New Year’s Day symbolizes progress, wealth and prosperity.

Manu Fieldel’s Lentil Salad– according to Italian tradition they look like coins and represent wealth.

Kale Salad– in the American tradition eating greens on New Year’s Day guarantees prosperity in the New Year.

Pete Evans’ Fig, basil, buffalo mozzarella, and balsamic salad– Eating many fruits are considered lucky and figs are a symbol of fertility

Dinner:  A Love Story’s Peanut Noodle Salad– Noodles in several Asian cultures represent long life.

Cornbread– its golden colour is said to bring gold (or wealth) in the New Year

Smitten Kitchen’s Tres Leches Cake– Tres leches cake because I’ve always wanted to make one, and a round cake because in many cultures round cakes represent the cyclical nature of life- I’m even going to bake a coin into it for extra good fortune for someone.

Nigella Lawson’s Pomegranate and Prosecco JellyPomegranate’s seeds are meant to signify abundance and prosperity

Smitten Kitchen’s Fairy Tale of New York for after- I made a double batch to take to a 2nd Christmas dinner that we never made it to, so we have a LOT to get through!

So fingers crossed, with this menu, set 2016 to be delicious, abundant, healthy, wealthy and fun!

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

Doing the Double

This weekend we managed to pull off not one but two dinner parties- Friday night and Sunday night.  I’m not going to lie, I was a little tired on Monday morning.  I couldn’t have done it without the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  More specifically, I couldn’t have done it without the Kale salad and the Strawberry Cheesecake Fool from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—because I served both dishes at both dinner parties.  They were both THAT good!

For those of you don’t know, Smitten Kitchen is a food blog and the food blog was so popular that she created a cookbook.  This is probably my secret wish for when I grow up- I would love to write a cookbook.  I’ve looked into it, and it’s not easy- lots of creativity, lots of recipe writing, lots of recipe testing, and lots of time.  It’s currently in the “one day” pile but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook available on Amazon.com

Smitten Kitchen has been around for over 9 years- I thought it would have been one of the oldest/first food blogs but according to Saveur it’s not even close.  They date the first food blogs as starting around 1999 when Blogger and WordPress first were made publicly available.  Anyway, I digress— the blog has been around for a while, definitely check it out if you haven’t read it because her recipes are fantastic!  So good, that I served two of them twice over the weekend.

I’ve only cooked one or two dishes out of the cookbook previously (the Buttered popcorn cookies are delish!) but it’s definitely a book that’s worth picking up.  The recipes are easy to follow and well written- and they have pictures!

The Kale Salad with cherries and pecans is super straight forward as you would expect a salad recipe to be- I mean really, most salads are pretty easy and this one is no exception.  I love kale.  Yes, I know that makes me whatever the 2010s version of a yuppie is- a DINK, hipster, buppie? Who knows, it doesn’t matter because kale is delicious.  I don’t wear Kale t-shirts or sweatshirts, but I’m a big fan.  And this salad really lets the kale shine.  It’s just kale, pecans, cherries, goat’s cheese, and radish with a honey mustard dressing.

All hail the Kale!
All hail the Kale!
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A berry nice dessert!

 

The Strawberry Cheesecake Fool is a more complicated proposition but it’s basically a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake served layered in a glass.  Think gooey strawberries, brown sugar cookie crumb layered together with a whipped cream/cream cheese creamy mixture.  There are quite a few steps involved and I did have to remove a refrigerator shelf in the process but it was well worth it.  P.S. I also made a Strawberry and Cointreau sorbet to have with it.  It was super easy- Strawberry, Strawberry liqueur, Cointreau, sugar, and ice into a blender and then into the freezer. It would have been better in an ice cream maker, but it was pretty good as it is!

September 2015 Iphone photos 146 September 2015 Iphone photos 147 September 2015 Iphone photos 148 September 2015 Iphone photos 149

September 2015 Iphone photos 155
Dukkah prawns with homemade wasabi mayo to start!

So, I have to say, two dinner parties in one weekend wasn’t the most relaxing way to spend a weekend, but it was great to entertain and hang out with friends and to share food and wine and time with them.  Serving two dishes (three if you count the sorbet) twice did make things a lot  easier—don’t be surprised if when you come over you wind up having one (or both) of the dishes—they are both so tasty and so easy- that they may become my new dinner party staples!

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The Sunday night crew!
An inside joke from the Friday night girls!
An inside joke from the Friday night girls!

Of course, Smitten Kitchen doesn’t have the recipes on her website- she wants you to buy the book.   But A Life Well Lived has the recipe here for the Kale Salad and Chorizo and Thyme has the Strawberry Cheesecake Fool recipe here.

Another Sunday, Another Dinner!

Yup, another Sunday Dinner party tonight.  I’m looking forward to using our new red wine glasses and also our new salt and pepper shaker… Our engagement party was like Christmas I tell you!

This week it’s a roast pork recipe that The Runner found during the week on Goodfood.com.au.  The link is here if you want to check it out.  It looks pretty yummy and delicious.  It’s currently in the fridge marinating in herbs, spices, and orange juice.  I’m going to do roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, and apples on the side with some wilted spinach.  Should be tasty!  Oh and I’m going to attempt Nigella Lawson’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake for dessert.  I’ve never made an Olive oil chocolate cake for dessert but hopefully it turns out well.  If not, there’s always Kurtosh  and Cold Rock Ice Creamery around the corner.

I’m also planning ahead and making Smitten Kitchen’s beef brisket in the slow cooker for tomorrow night.  It already smells delicious and it still has another 6 hours to cook!  I LOVE beef brisket, but sadly it’s really hard to find here in Australia.  My mom used to make it all the time in an oven bag with french onion soup and it’s amazing.  This recipe is more of a sweet-sour-BBQ type thing which sounds yummy too!  We went to the Meat Emporium yesterday so not only does our freezer resemble a treasure trove of meat, we were able to get some lovely cuts like brisket that our normal butcher never seems to have.  

I should probably get back to cooking, I’ve just done a quick calculation and based on the size of the pork and how long the cake will take to bake in the oven, I should have put it in 30 minutes ago in order to have dinner ready before 8…..uh-oh!

 

Happy Sunday!

 

G’day Mates! I’m baking Irish Cupcakes…

Yes, I know I should be making a pavlova- or at least something that doesn’t require the oven to be on… it’s sweltering in here.  Baking cupcakes was not my best idea ever, but they are The Runners favourite cupcakes- Guinness Chocolate with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting (hence the name Irish Cupcakes).

I first made them for The Runner’s 30th cupcakes, and I think it could be what convinced him that dating me was a really good idea.  These cupcakes are awesome.  I found them on the internet- on the Smitten Kitchen blog, and I have to say they’re pretty good.  And the best part is getting to finish the can of Guinness while I bake!

So, that’s my Aussie story for today!  Hope you’re having fun wherever you are and whoever you are with!

Happy Australia Day!

Back to life, Back to reality….

So the holiday is over.  I’m back at work now, which as a contractor is not such a bad thing, but from next week, real life kicks back in.    Laundry will have to be done on the weekends only, meals will have to be planned, groceries bought on Sunday afternoon (don’t ask why, it just seems better than buying them on a Saturday.)  No more fluffing around, hanging out with the yummy mummies at the grocery store on a Tuesday at 2pm, no more watching the American Today show until 11am on 7Two.  I’m back to being a working girl (no, not that type, the kind in the office) and my time won’t be my own.  Sad Face.  

The first two weeks back were like a holiday from being on holidays, kind of nice and new  but now that I’m back from Christmas break with no breaks in sight until May, it’s a bit weird.  As in, weird that I’m expecting to go in every day regardless of what else I’d like to do.  See, as much as my wallet would scream otherwise, I’m not cut out for this working malarkey.    I’ve decided that I much prefer blogging and cooking and sunning and well, not working.  So now I have to figure out how to make this happen.

Hmmmm….let’s brainstorm:

1)       I could win the lotto……the chances of me winning lotto would be about the same odds as getting hit by lightning…..on a sunny day, I never buy lottery tickets because I hate the idea of flushing money down the toilet.

2)      I could marry well and by well I mean super rich…..  not looking good for this one either. The Runner is wonderful, lovely, and amazing, but his last name is not Trump, Kennedy, Schwarznegger, or de Rothschild.  Nor does his name start with Prince, Baron, or Count.  He doesn’t even have a weird name like wealthy or famous parents give their child, like Jogger or Sunshine or Marsanne or Oval….And I’m quite a big fan of The Runner so I think I’ll keep him.

3)      I could invent something fabulous…..nope, can’t think of anything either and if I could, I wouldn’t put it on the internet just yet….but if you have any ideas, please send them to herunsicook@gmail.com– no really, please do.

4)      I could have a portfolio of high interest investments enabling me to live off the interest and their yields, dividends, blah blah……  not going to happen without 1,2,or 3.

5)      I could do something I love- like maybe figuring out how to make money from blogging and write a cookbook, have a TV show, or a range of table linens, cheese graters, and other things that people will give as Secret Santa gifts…..working on this one.

But seriously, if anyone does have any ideas for me, let me know.  My mother, who is wonderful and amazing and possibly the only one besides The Runner who reads this blog—(by the way, I know The Runner only reads it to make sure I’m not oversharing about him).  Anyway, my Mother sent me two cookbooks for Christmas which are both Awesome with a Capital A because they both started out as blogs- Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and Dinner: A love Story.    Dinner: A Love Story I read in one sitting from cover to cover, it’s brilliant and I highly highly highly recommend it.  (I will write more about it at some stage because it’s great. )   But really it got me thinking, it’s not too far fetched to think that maybe I could make money doing something I love, like entertaining, party planning, writing, cooking- so maybe I should finally make 2013 the year  that I do it!  Life’s too short to not have a go at what you love, and I think I just need to give myself a big push—or possibly strap myself to someone else who is jumping out of a plane like they do for tandem skydiving!  Right, so there you have it, back to work and the reality of office living, but also here’s to kicking off the planning for how to be amazing and successful in my own right doing what I love!  

Fingers crossed for 2013!