Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I'll devil your egg


On Sunday Tom and I went to an afternoon tea to celebrate the first birthday of a beautiful little girl. There were balloons and blocks and hand made toys and, importantly, lots of delicious food, the climax of which was a divine bitter chocolate cake in the obligatory shape of a giant number one.

We made deviled eggs, just because I like to go outrageously retro sometimes, and generally, I find that people are surprisingly charmed. I'd go so far as to say that deviled eggs are the food world equivalent of nasturtiums (although, I guess technically you can eat nasturtiums), pink plastic telephones and beehives, particularly when topped with home grown cress.

They're also super easy to make, and don't really require much in the way of a recipe. All you need to do is boil some eggs (let's say 12), peel them, halve them and scoop out the yolks. Chuck the yolks into a bowl, then mix in two or three heaped tablespoons of mayo, depending on your taste (I always use soy mayo) and some seasonings. I went with two teaspoons of curry powder and a squeeze of lime, but feel free to experiment. Place a teaspoon of the mixture back into each of the egg holes, and decorate with a little stripe of paprika and a tiny bunch of cress, or some dill, or caviar, or whatever takes your fancy. These could be easily made in advance for a fancy dinner or cocktail party and kept in the fridge for several hours.

Monday, 28 September 2009

If there's anything better in this world, who cares?

Blushing hand picked, low carbon footprint tomatoes from Choku Bai Jo, my local farmers outlet and the love of my bosom. I've just been eating these scattered with Maldon sea salt and basil, but I think I'll buy another batch and make Pomodori al Forno, and eat it with fresh ricotta and Berry Bakery bread. I suggest you do exactly the same.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Perfect Sunday


Yesterday was the perfect Sunday. It began, after a hearty sleep in, with scrambled eggs on toast scattered with garlic chives (from my garden, no less) eaten barefoot on the front deck. It got sidetracked somewhat when a bee stung my little toe, which seemed awfully cruel since it was the first time I'd gone barefoot at all - indoors or out - this Spring.

But in truth, that wasn't so bad. I'm sure it was worse for the bee. I seem to have a higher resistance to bee stings than I remember, plus it allowed for a bit of quality time with some frozen peas, my couch and two too many episodes of One Tree Hill (I blame you, Jaimie, Vanessa and Katherine).

And, as if by some kind of miracle of trashy TV, I was healed. No itching, no swelling no pain (at least not until this morning). I took it as a good sign, cooked some pasta and then planted some tomato and nasturtium seeds in anticipation for the summer. I have no pictures yet; there's nothing to see besides black dirt in purple trays, but promise to post as soon as their pretty green heads start to shoot. I am excited. There is something so grounding, satisfying and wholesome about gardening. And something so fabulously retro about nasturtiums. I only hope my motivation lasts, and that my baby plants don't get killed by frost. I've never started from seeds before, I feel nervous, and just slightly like I'd imagine a recently impregnated woman might feel, but obviously on a much smaller scale.

Then, in the late, graying afternoon (my favorite time of day) I put on Joanna Newsom's Ys (one of my favorite albums) and got to crafting yoyos for this very ongoing project, some in a cheerful cream fabric covered in teeny tiny orange polka dots, others in a very pale shade of blue punctuated with a leafy pattern in cream. There is something about crafting by lamplight on one's bed that is, well, perfect.

Tom, Sally and I shared a humble dinner of roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, which we filled with combinations of butter,vintage cheddar, sour cream, smoked salmon, more garlic chives and hot paprika. We all pilled into Katherine's bed together (I dangling with one arse cheek off) and watched an episode of True Blood.

Then I made this cake:

Apple and Cinnamon Teacake

This is one of my new go-to recipes when I feel like baking but don't feel like leaving the house. I usually always have the ingredients to hand and love the fact that it uses up some of my large store of raspberry jam. I also love that it allows for some decorative finesse with apple slices. Moreover, I pretty much adore the word teacake. It's so old fashioned and comforting and always reminds me of my mother on the odd occasion that she decided to be old fashioned and comforting (usually by borrowing recipes from my dear friend, Diana's mother). This recipe, however, comes from she of the modern-old-fashioned cook books: Donna Hay*.


185g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
for the topping
2 apples (I think any variety works)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of jam (I usually use raspberry but Donna suggests apricot)


1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease a round cake tin of approximately 22cm in diameter, or line it with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and cinnamon using an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
3. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the milk and fold with a wooden spoon till just combined.
4. Spoon into your cake tin.
5. To make the topping, cut thin half moons from your apple (avoiding the core). Fan these out in three circles around the top of your cake, thusly:

6. Combine the extra sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples.
7. Bake for 50 minutes.
8. Brush the apple with the jam, which you have softened slightly by briefly microwaving. Return to the oven for ten minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
9. Eat warm with a dollop of thickened cream and an Earl Grey served in a cup with saucer.

As you can see, this unassuming cake has been rather popular round here.

*I realise that a pattern is emerging here, but I really don't love Donna Hay that much, honest! I'm much more of a Maggie Beer or Stephanie Alexander kind of girl.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Pastry, Cheese, Vegetable and Herb. A formula for modern life.


Hello reader one and reader two, how are you today?

For my first ever recipe on my new bloggy, I would like to share one of my basic formulas for a delicious mid week dinner. I guess this belongs to the Donna Hay led assemblage school of cooking, but hey, that woman is wealthy for a reason. These tarts require minimal effort, minimal time and minimal ingredients, and are sure to impress your love-friend (or like-friend, even).

It goes a little something like this:

1. Thaw out a piece of store bought puff pastry.

2. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then top with a cheese of your choice (semi-spreadable ones are nice, like ricotta or danish feta, or if you're feeling wealthy perhaps goats cheese or Gorgonzola.). Leave a little gap of 1.5cm around the edges so they rise up and create a border all nice like.

3. Scatter that with a vegetable (roasted pumpkin, par boiled potato slices, marinated artichoke, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, semi-sun dried tomatoes, fennel, or even pear or fig).

4. Then scatter that with something herby. Go for tough herbs like thyme, rosemary or sage. Herbs that can withstand a little roastage. Or, alternatively, go fresh (basil, oregano, parsley, mint or a little mound of dressed rocket) and scatter it on after cooking. And maybe some walnuts or pine nuts, too.

5. Pop in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes or so, then cut into squares and serve with an elegant salad of mixed leaves.

Last night I made two tarts. One based on one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time: feta, pumpkin roasted with a dash of olive oil and chili flakes, and sage leaves, topped with a little shaved Parmesan before serving. The other was based on a Donna Hay recipe: goats cheese, potato and rosemary. People (well, Tom) were impressed! Another of my favorites, and something I used to make way before I even knew old Donna existed was simply fresh ricotta, marinated artichokes (from a jar) and a fine grating of Parmesan.

Other combination I think would work marvelously include: ricotta with a little lemon zest mixed through topped with asparagus spears and lemon thyme; caramelised onion, thyme and feta; shredded boccincini, cherry tomatoes and freshly scattered basil; Gorgonzola, pear and walnuts; feta, zucchini, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a scattering of mint.... I won't go on.

Also consider making little miniature versions with only one piece of vegetable, a cube of cheese and a sprig of herb for ultra easy, cute appetizers!

Or go sweetly sweet. Mix some Cinnamon, sugar, orange zest, liqueur, almond meal or nutmeg through ricotta and top with halved apricots, rhubarb, sliced pear, apple, jam, nutella, nuts, berries, shaved chocolate. Oh my, the possibilities are without end.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009



Quincey is a fruit that should never be eaten raw.

Quincey is a man who records records.

Quincey is a fellow who wrote novels.

Quincey is a place to document small things.

Quincey is your friend, or will be soon I hope!