Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blue berry Pie's

This week I found a beautiful chair in hard rubbish. I wasn't quite sure what the edict for such things are. Do you knock on the door and ask? Do you just take it? Is it rude? I decided to wait till dark to get it. So there I was, in the cold melbourne night, wearing a little chic stripy knitted dress, running down the street carrying a huge lounge chair much bigger than myself. I was convinced that it would only be a small 'fix up' job to get it looking shiny and new. However once I got it inside the house I found the chair hadn't really appreciated being left out in the rain for the last week. So I set to work bleaching, and scrubbing it. I love little home improvement jobs so it didn't faze me much at all. A couple of hours later the chair was still pretty shabby looking. I left it for the night and picked up the where I had stopped the next day. I have been scrubbing and scrubbing this chair determined that it would shine. Half way through I realised how much effort I was putting into the small project (It must shine, I simply will not buy a through to cover its lovely material) and it started to dawn on me that my determination had nothing to do with a chair.

For the past few years I feel like I have been floating around, from place to place, house to house, relationship to relationship, not really sure what I wanted to do. Over this time nothing ever felt study, or settled or stable. Now in Melbourne I'm finally starting to feel like I'm living the life I really want. I'm here, doing what I love, being inspired and meeting some amazing people. I'm so determined to do everything I really want to do, but like everyone else get scared at times of falling short. So I've been taking my fears out on my new chair. I decided I wanted it, and I'll stick with it, till it shines.

Apart from my chair scrubbing everything in Melbourne is going really well. While I was back home in Queensland one of my parents friends when asking how it was all going here, asked if I was lonely. Its the unasked question. I think everyone has been too afraid to ask incase the answer was yes. To be honest I had been avoiding the question myself. After a major upheaval over the last few months with a very serious relationship break up, I was sure I would be very lonely in Melbourne. I had been like chicken little, running around, looking for blue egg shell and declaring the sky was falling. So I was surprised to find that when all the drama of the initial heartbreak died down, the world didn't stop. Even more strangely though, I was left with a bizarre feeling that I had never before experienced. It was this easy, self-assured, relaxed feel, and for the first time in my life I was no longer searching for something. I could just be.

Everyone told me that I needed some time to learn how to be single. To me this was a stupid idea. Why would I learn to be single when I have no desire AT ALL TO BE SINGLE......EVER. I explained it to a friend as being the same as everyone telling me to learn how to fly a plane. I couldn't understand what the point would be, because I don't want to fly a plane, and have no need to fly a plane. It all seemed ridiculous to me. Friends even went as far as trying to stop me from going on dates (gosh I wish they had succeeded with some of the idiots I have dated since being in melbourne *cough* Italian boy that studies at my school *cough*) Something in the last few months has changed though. I'm starting to enjoy being single, and not because I'm not meeting nice boys, but because I want to be. I can't believe the amount of time I have on my hands, and this no longer scares me. I am doing so many more things that I want to be doing. Also I have been surrounded by some amazing friends, and I find some weeks I can't even get to see all the people I want to see.

So life is good at the moment, and I'm finally catching up on all the baking that I've been wanting to get done. Last night I made blueberry pies for one of my good friends Lillie. We sat and ate pies and talked about life and what we had been up to. One of my housemates arrived home part way through our meal, so we invited her, her sister and her dad (who were visiting) to eat some desert with us and drink some tea. It was so nice to be able to do that. I love having a house that feels like a home.

Here is the recipe for the blueberry pies I made. Its a Donna Hay recipe but I've adapted it a bit. Hope you like it.

Blueberry Pies

You will need:
  • One and a half cups of plain flour (sifted)
  • half a cup of icing sugar
  • 125g cold butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • three egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon iced water
  • 270g blueberries (I just used frozen ones because they cost too much fresh)
  • One tbs corn four
  • Two Tablespoons of sugar
  • 40g melted butter
  • One egg lightly beaten
  • Some vanilla sugar (or raw sugar if you don't have it)
What to do:
  1. Sift together the flour and icing sugar. Dice your butter and crumple it with the flour mix. Use the tip of your fingers as you want to crumble it NOT melt it. This process may take a while and you can do it in a food processor. I however don't have one and quite enjoy doing it by hand. You will know its done when it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the water, vanilla and egg yolk. Mix it together until it forms a dough. Shape it into a ball, wrap it in glad wrap and place in the fridge for one hour.
  3. Mix your berries, corn flour, sugar and butter
  4. Grease a muffin tin and set your oven to 180 (moderate)
  5. Take 2/3 of the dough and roll out. Cut with i circle cutter (or a cup) and line the muffin tin. Add the blue berry filling.
  6. Use the last 1/3 of the dough to roll out and make lids. Press together at the edges so they join nicely.
  7. Brush the little pies with egg, sprinkle with vanilla sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
They are so good, you won't have any left.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pad Thai

I was worried that this week would be a little hard after going home for the weekend. Sometimes the city can seem so unromantic with all the running around and stressing.....especially when you are studding how to debone and break down a chicken all day. It makes me so very queazy, all the slicing, dicing, and bone popping. I squirm just thinking about it.

Nothing much had changed since coming back. I got up, went to school, had a coffee at my local spot, went to school, smiled at the cute boy (we never talk........just smile at each other), did my work and then came home.

A couple of lovely things happened though. I dropped into work, and all the girls were so lovely to me it made Melbourne feel like home. Having some amazing friends really makes a difference.

A man walking down the hall called me 'Cinderella' and this also cheered me up a lot too. I love it that there are some cheeky boys out there, that go out on a limb to compliment and make you feel special, even when it makes them look silly.

There I always a little magic to be found, no matter how bleak and cold Melbourne can me.

Tomorrow night one of my friends is coming for dinner. I'm planning to cook up a mini feast for us. If all goes well I'll take some photo's and post up the recipes.

Tonight I made some Pad Thai. It was such a yummy treat. Its sometimes nice to know you can make your favourite take out meals at home for half the price. Here's the recipe incase you feel like an easy dinner to eat at home with a movie and some wine.

Pad Thai
You will need
  • Half a pack of flat rice noodles
  • One chicken breast
  • One lime
  • One tsp grated ginger
  • Two cloves of garlic crushed
  • Quarter of a stem of lemon grass sliced finely
  • Three quarters a cup of coconut milk
  • Two tablespoons of Peanut butter
  • Two tablespoons of crushed peanuts
  • Two tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
  • One carrot, sliced finely
  • One capsicum, sliced finely
  • One handful of snow peas, sliced finely
  • One button onion, sliced finely.
What to do:
  1. Place a wok (or fry pan) on the stove top. Cook your sliced chicken in a little oil until its almost cooked through. Take out and set aside.
  2. With some more oil in the wok sweat your onion, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass.
  3. Add your vegetables. Stir continually. They wont take long to cook (depending on how small you cut them). You still want them to be a bit crisp so don't overcook!!
  4. In a pot of boiling water cook your noodles for 3 to 4 minutes (or as it says on the pack)
  5. Add peanut butter to wok with sweet chilli, lime juice, and coconut milk.
  6. Through in your drained noodles and stir. Cook for five minutes, stirring all the time.
  7. Plate up and sprinkle with some chopped peanuts. Yummm.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chocolate chip Cookies

I spent this weekend in Noosa. My lovely lovely home town. Its so incredibly gorgeous that I can't believe I was lucky enough to grow up there. As i sat in Bistro C having breakfast with a friend, I kept looking out at the ocean and thinking "this was once my home!!" From my table I could see the spot where all my friends and I used to go fire twirling, the place my boyfriend and I used to picnic, and the bench over looking the ocean where I used to sit with one of my girlfriends talking for hours. I have so many memories of these places. I sometimes wish I could go back and experience them all again. To eat dinner under the stars every night, and make bon fires on the beach. But it feels like so long ago, and I feel like a different person.

It was amazing to see my family, and be back on the farm. I think sometimes we have to go back to our roots, to get inspired, so we can remember why we are doing what we are doing. While sitting around with everyone, I remembered some little forgotten dreams, that I never have time to think about while I'm in the city. It was a good reminder of what Im actually doing, and who I am.

My family is amazing, and they were all very hard to leave. I got a bit teary coming back on the plane. Going home brought a lot of things into perspective for me and I almost didn't want to leave. As my plane descended through a dark layer of thick clouds everywhere looked cold and bleak. My lovely city Melbourne didn't seem at all welcoming, and I hated her for a while. I hated her as I got off the plane into the cold. I hated her as I got lost in the airport. I hated her as I caught the bus and then the train back to my town. I hated her as I struggled with my heavy bag into the supermarket to pick up some ingredients for dinner. But then something changed. As I walked around Coles buying wine, chocolate chips, vegetables and other such things I bumped into the most gorgeous man. We both apologised and smiled at each other. Again at the deli we ran into each other, and as I smiled shyly to myself he asked me what I was buying to cook with. I told him I was making chocolate chip cookies, and he seemed to enjoy this idea. We talked for a while and mostly I think he was just amused that someone would do there food shopping in a tailored cream coat, white stockings, a dress and black heels. We said goodbye and smiled (a lot) and left. Suddenly I loved Melbourne again. She was my best friend.

I caught a cab home and baked my cookies. I drank some wine and ate some dinner. I'm a wee bit home sick, and I miss the freedom of how easy life was in Noosa. But Melbourne, she's not so bad. The cookie recipe I made was one of Donna Hay's. Its really yummy, and I made it for a bit of comfort food to cheer me up. Hope you enjoy it.

Donna Hays Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Italian Hot Chocolate.

Today I decided to stay home. Im flying to noosa in a couple of hours as a surprise trip for my dad's birthday, so I've given myself the day off to rest and pack. I decided to do this after falling into my bed at 8 pm last night ready for sleep, and much too tired for anything else.

To be honest though, I'm very sick of writing about how tired I am. This is after all a food blog, not a blog about a girl who does too much.

This weekend I'll be spending two whole days in beautiful noosa. I can't wait to get there and bask in the sunshine. It will be nice to get out of the city too. As much as I love Melbourne I feel it can be a bit wearing at times. Its so easy to get caught up in the perfection of everything. I sometimes find myself sitting on the train trying to work out if the girl sitting beside me has a designer handbag or not. She gets points if she does, but if its a fake extra points are deducted. FOR GOODNESS SAKE! I DONT EVEN HAVE A DESIGNER HANDBAG MYSELF. WHO DO I THINK I AM??? Its like there is this extra personality that takes over me as soon as I step into the city from flinders st station. At home I'm lovely. At home I like earthy handmade food and don't judge anyone. But in the city, everyone is skinnier than me, or wears better clothes, or 'shouldn't pair that handbag with those shoes.' I think its time to go back to the farm for a couple of days and have a reality check. Sometimes I'm too pretentious for even myself.

Talking about pretentious tough, I really cant wait to be back in Hastings St. I miss the boutiques, restaurants and cafes. I know they have nothing on Melbourne food and fashion, but I love them because they are home. I love going to the cafes that when I was a kid I used to envision myself 'all grown up' sitting there with girlfriends drinking cocktails or on dates. In my teens when all my friends wanted to hang out on the beach, I would be longing to sit in 'Aromas' and drink a coffee with a piece of biscotti. Alas I was born a foodie, there was never any escaping my fate.

My best friend back home has booked a table for me at Bistro C for breakfast this saturday and I'm so excited to sit and watch the ocean while eating some good food. A weekend away is just perfect! I love little trips. They add a bit of luxury to life (I'm a bit of a fan of luxury.)

Here's a little luxury for you though. Its an italian hot chocolate recipe which i made last night for a little treat. The bace mix can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Its a nice thing to have around the house incase any guests drop in.

Italian Hot Chocolate:
You will need:
  • 1/2 cup of good quality dark chocolate
  • One cup of cream
  • Half a vanilla bean. (Cut it down the middle. Scrape out the seeds and use these.)
  • Milk
What to do:
  1. In a pot add your cream and vanilla seeds. Bring to the boil.
  2. Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir stir stir until it has all melted. This can be put in the fridge in a small box and used later. It will set hard but this really doesn't matter as it can be melted in when you heat your milk.
  3. Depending on how many you want to make or how strong you like them, add your milk to the pot. Warm and serve.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beetroot Salad

I'm a wee bit uptight at the moment. The 'to do' list in my head goes on and on for what feels like ten thousand pages. Even when I have nothing pressing to do I can think of at least ten recipes I want to try out, six chapters of text books I want to get read, four major paperwork projects I really need to do, ten people I haven't contacted in way too long and should call, and six cleaning jobs around the house.

I cant sit still, I can't stop, I can't focus on one thing, and have no idea what to do about it. When I'm sitting on the train coming home I sometimes notice that my feet aren't sitting flat on the ground, but curled up, balancing on my pointed toes. I'm just having trouble letting go. Also I'm finding that coffee in not a suitable substitute for sleep. I thought maybe it could be the answer to all my problems.........but instead its leaving me feeling nervous and frazzled (This makes me feel a bit betrayed, because my relationship with coffee has been one of my longest relationships I've ever had. We have been a bit on and off at times. Mainly though, it has been there for me in my darkest times, helping me through fourteen hour shifts in kitchens, and keeping me company in many a cafe.)

I nearly feel asleep ten times in class today, and the lesson from this was.........don't through a dinner party on a monday night. This is unfortunate though, because if anyone loves a dinner party its me. Its something I know I can do well. In life I'm aware of the fact that paper work isn't my thing, neither is chemistry, science, directions, crosswords, maps, or confrontation..........but a dinner party I can do. I feel most in my element when shopping for the perfect ingredients, planning a menu, setting a table, and making sure everyone has a full drink. I love it. However I think in future I will save these things for weekends.

Last night for my little dinner party I made a beetroot salad. Here is the recipe for it.
This is what you will need:
  • 4 beetroots
  • 1/4 a cup of red wine vinegar
  • Small handful of goats cheese
  • I bunch of basil
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • Seasoning
What to do:
  1. Cut your beetroots into quarters. Place in a pot. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer. They may take quite a while to cook depending on how large the beet. You can test them by sticking in a fork. They will be cooked when it slides in easily.
  2. Run beetroots under cold water and rub of the skin.
  3. Cut into small pieces.
  4. Roughly chop basil.
  5. Mix everything together and sprinkle with the cheese
  6. And eat!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lazy ladys pasta

Its finally the weekend, and I am one wrecked waif of a girl. My one day off today was so cherished. I had so many plans of all the wonderful things I was planning on doing, but in the end I slept most of it. Halfway through coffee with a friend I found my eyelids drooping (mind you not because she was boring at all, just because I was tired) so I went home and tucked myself up in bed.

Life is so busy at the moment, and people asking questions like "how are you doing it all?" and "aren't you a little worn out?" So this my friends is my secret...........I Cherry, am a little bit of a workaholic. Not so much too the point that I have to go to meetings, and talk about it (Im sure there is W.A. for people who work too hard, just like A.A. for people who drink too much.) I do get a giddy thrill though, from looking at my calendar and seeing every day full. On friday when I got into school this week I looked in the mirror to find the girl wearing chefs whites looking back at me from the mirror had huge dark circles under her eyes..................I looked at this and smiled! Yes I smiled. "Im getting there" I thought. But getting where? Heading towards a mental breakdown? Yay, go me! This was a small wakeup call.

Apart from all the tiredness though, I'm still really enjoying Melbourne. This city is so amazing, and pastry school is very inspiring. I feel like all sorts of creative projects are going to flow forth from this time in my life. Its nice to be learning all the basics, and getting a good foundation to build upon.

Every day I start my morning with coffee and end it with wine. Its probably not the best routine for my health, but there is something very soothing about it. They are my little treats I look forward to, and are keeping me sane. On top of that I've been surprised to find how supported I've felt lately. Lots of friends have popped out of the woodworks and really been amazing. People I didn't expect to help out so much, have proved to be amazing friends. So I never really get the chance to feel very alone in this big city.

For the last few nights I have been much too tired to cook anything special. This is what I have been putting together to get me by. It surprisingly delicious, as all simple food is. I hope you enjoy it.

Lazy ladys Pasta
You will need:
  • Pasta (as much as you like, and any sort you like. I love fresh pasta but its a bit on the expensive side for this little student, so I've been settling for organic spaghetti.)
  • Olive oil (just a dash)
  • One garlic clove
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • Splash of red wine
  • 5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • Half a cup of pasta sauce (choose an organic one with lots of herbs.)
  • Salt and pepper
What to do:
  1. Boil your water and cook your pasta
  2. In a fry pan heat your oil, and add your diced garlic.
  3. Add mushrooms, fry till they are a little bit brown on the outside
  4. Add Cherry tomatos.
  5. Deglaze with wine (yes I said deglaze....because i go to to pastry school, and I'm cool, and I know what that means. Sorry about that. What I'm really trying to say is...........add the wine and cook it for a few minutes. This helps incorporate all the flavours that have stuck to the pan.)
  6. Add pasta sauce. Season
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the pan. Stir it round so it all gets coated nicely.
  8. Plate it up. Add some cheese if you like. Eat it with a nice red wine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bircher Muesli

This week has been a little rough. Nothing really flowed easily, and I have been afraid to write my blog, not knowing what was going to flow from my subconscious. Sometimes it is much easier not to connect to things. I did make it through the week though. By myself, but not alone.

When my bread didn't rise, my cooking partner took most of the blame. When I was feeling a little low, my housemates cooked me a dinner party. When I hit rock bottom, my mum sent me my teddy bear in the mail. Its so lovely to be supported, and know that someone (or lots of someones) have our back.

The real reason I haven't written a blog though is because I wanted to get a message across to someone, and I couldn't quite find the right words. I couldn't quite voice everything I wanted to say with only a mere 26 letters. I'm sure they know what I want to say, I've spent the last two years of my life trying to express it in every way possible. You know who you are....... thank you dearest, and goodbye.

This recipe is for my best friend, because its one of his favourites.

Bircher Muesli:

You will need:
  • 1kg Natural Muesli
  • 1kg Vanilla Yoghurt
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1lt skinny milk (to keep us skinny)
  • 150g honey
  • 3 grated green apples
  • 1 and a half tsp lime juice
  • 1 zest of lime
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (grated finely)
What to do:
  1. Mix it all together the day before you want to serve it.
  2. Cover and keep in the fridge.
  3. Serve with fresh berries or poached fruit.
Enjoy it lovelies.......

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crossants taught me a parabel

Last week at pastry school we made croissants. They are so beautiful and buttery, but insanely hard to make the first few times. I was trying so hard to get them right, but rolled my dough too thin, which made them come out a little doughy (instead of fluffy.) The teacher explained to us after class that the best sort of croissants are the ones with the most layers, that fall apart when you try to eat them. The french judge the quality of these pastries depending on how much you end up with all over yourself when eating them.

I thought this was such a quirky and beautiful concept and couldn't help compare it to my life at the moment. One of my biggest weaknesses is being much too harsh on myself. Always believing I can do more, always analysing, and being much too critical. I over think, and get caught up on the silliest things. We all do it at times. Spreading ourselves too thinly, and trying to avoid falling apart all over the place.

You see I truly believed that if I rolled my dough just right, it would be perfect. I got so distracted by the shape, and size (how things look) of it that I completely missed the point (which is of course the texture of the dough, in relations to the texture of the butter..........which is another story all together for another time.)

So I'm learning that perfect (acting and feeling) isn't always good. Sometimes we have to leave ourselves some room to fall apart, because thats where we find the beauty. Thats when we understand what we are all about and who we really are. Looking like we are holding everything together maybe isn't the most important thing in life. Its all about the layers on the inside.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What next?

So heres where I stand (well actually sit) on a saturday night......in my red checked pyjamas, at home, eating dinner and watching a movie. Why? This is a question I have been asking myself for a while now. My life has been so insanely busy at the moment that I treasure any second I get to just be alone, and relax.

Life however is not playing some trick on me, making me so busy I hardly have time to stop. I have set it up this way. Starting at the double course in cooking school, to the gym sessions, and part time job (not to mentions study, writing, cooking and sleeping.) I custom made my life like this. Its beautiful, its busy.....but for a reason.

Lets get to the route of this. Its the usual story. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Life intervenes, and they break up. I hate to still be going on and on about a past relationship from 6 months ago, because I have dealt with it all rather well. I did all the normal things. To start with I worked out every day. I lost a lot of weight. Then I went out a lot. Drank a bit too much. Had rebound one....which didn't work out so well, but was luckily followed by rebound two and three. All the normal healthy grieving processes.

So I have exhausted all my avenues. Now I just work a lot. Exhaust myself to the point where I am much much too tired to actually have to go out and deal with it. I'm not sure what to do next because......a lot changed over the time I started my lasted relationship and ended it. The party loving, beer drinking, long flowing skirt wearing girl left, and in her place came this dedicated career driven person, who I love and I'm so thankful and happy to be. The thing is.....She wants to live a rich and for filled life, but is unsure what to do.

These days i cringe at the idea of leaving the house after dark. I cant justify a hangover, and I have no money to even get into a club. So heres what I'm wondering.......what next?

I think we can be so afraid of getting hurt we shut down every avenue which we think could harm us, but in doing so we often neglect some of the biggest issues. I know that this is too deep for a cooking blog. But this, is how my heart feels....and thats what cooking is about...feeling, and getting burnt. Have I stopped "cooking" out of fear of getting hurt? Or do I just want new recipes? I'm not sure. I really don't know.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Support local artists.

So I just have a small favour to ask........ Its just that no Editor is going to hire me if only 14 people are following my blog. I know a few more of you read it, and I was just wondering if you wouldn't mind being oh so kind as to press the 'follow' button. To thank you I will personally bake you a cake....at some point in my life. Much love cherry

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Today I stayed home sick. I knew I was really sick because I didn't even leave the house. This is usually a crime for me, and I go stir crazy if I don't at least do a little trip into town for a coffee. But all I wanted to do today was rest. I have a four hour sleep in the afternoon, and I didn't even feel like baking. Ok ok to be honest I did practice my macaroon recipe which I'm not at all happy with. They were the wrong consistency and it drove me crazy. Why can't I be like normal people and just stop when I'm sick? Instead I was boiling sugar to 120 degrees trying to get my italian meringue texture right.

Here is the biggest problem I'm having with my baking at home at the moment (apart from the stupid oven burning on the bottom before it cooks on the top), I don't have electric scales. So all my measurements are off by a little bit. Nothing is exact, and with pastry you need exact. So everything is coming out a little wonky.

The whole concept reminds me of something I've been brewing over recently. I've been thinking a lot about the saying 'wearing your heart on your sleeve,' as its something I do all the time. I think some people are born with an inbuilt scale on when to stop loving, or when to pull back. Not me however. My scale (such as the one in my kitchen) is a little off. When people would generally be weary I jump in. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, I take it to an all new extreme and wear it on my hand (in the form of a tiny little love shaped tattoo just above my thumb.) It reminds me to put love into everything I cook and to be kind to myself.

At times it also reminds me of my "wonky scales," and that I through my heart too easily into things and people. A friend recently commented that I have had a very interesting life (I had been talking about the monk I lived with, and the boy I met on a cruise, and a few other things) and I realised the only reason that it has been a little extraordinary at times is because I have thrown my heart into relationships..............and gotten hurt.

So I guess I'm glad. My scales are out of whack........but how many people do you know that can make macaroons? I'll be all right......actually I think I'll be more that alright.

I hope that all made sense.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Braised Lamb and risoni

This is just divine. My best friend and I ate it recently at a greek restaurant, and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. So tonight I recreated it, and it was just as yummy as I remembered. Give it a go. Its super good.

You will need:
  • 300g diced lamb
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 1 brown onion
  • Half a red capsicum
  • one jar of pasta sauce (use a good quality one! I usually buy a wine flavoured one to give it a kick)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Half tsp of chilli flakes
  • One cup of red wine (and a glass for yourself.)
  • 200g risoni
What to do:
  1. Put some olive oil in a pot with your lamb and brown the outside. Take out of pot and place in a bowl.
  2. Lightly fry your diced onion and garlic, in the pot with some more olive oil. When clear add all the vegetables (diced).
  3. Cook, stirring for five minutes till partly cooked. Add spices and return to the meat to the pot.
  4. Add the pasta sauce and some water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for two hours on a very low heat.
  5. Add your risoni and some more water if dry. Cook stirring continually for 10 minutes until the pasta is cooked through.
  6. Serve sprinkled with some feta cheese.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Memoirs of a lady who does too much.

Yesterday my day looked like this:

5.30am Get up iron school uniform
6.00 am Shower, makeup, eat, pack bag for school, check emails
6.40 walk to train station
7.10 catch train
7.35 Arrive in city, buy coffee, walk to school
8:00 Start school...theory lesson all morning, taking notes, watching teacher cook
12:oo Rush around the shops looking for winter jacket, quickly eat, change into uniform
12:30 Make danish dough, roll out, beat butter, add butter, roll out, fold, roll out, fold.
2:45 Get changed into work clothes
3:00 Start work, drink coffee.
6:00 Finnish work, catch train
6.30 Walk home
7.00 Eat some dinner, Soak chefs whites
7.30 put on two loads of washing, start a loaf of bread in the bread machine for breakfast
8.00 Study, take notes, do homework.
9.00 Shower get into bed

By the end of it I found myself standing in front of the freezer eating chocolate ice cream from the tub with a spoon. Not my finest moment, but it was a little indication to me that it was time to stop and rethink a few things. So it came as no surprise to me today when i woke up coughing my lungs up (I'm still quite sick) at 5.30, that after I had my morning shower I got back into bed.

For me this year has been all about learning my limits, and I had reached mine. I have been so overloaded with study and work lately that I hardly slept due to a reoccurring dream about a loaf of bread. Recently when I asked someone over for a dinner party on there invitation I wrote "dinner pastry." I think you get the picture.

So I took a "me day" which really was just a "sick day" which really just turned into an "errands day". I did my laundry, cleaned the house, took in my dry cleaning, and did food shopping....oh glorious food shopping. I honestly can't remember the last time I did a food shop for the whole week. It was so exciting to have the time to wonder up and back the rows. I'm also excited that I won't be eating the same meal tonight that I have eaten for the last 4 nights.

I'm sorry this is a mundane writing piece, about mundane jobs........but to me right now they feel like the biggest luxury in the world. I'm too tired to be funny and witty. So when reading this please just insert in a few of your own jokes (funny ones) and pretend I wrote them. I'm too tired to even do some smart representation of my feelings through food. But I'm not too tired to say...........If anyone rings me this week to ask 'why I haven't done something' or 'why I wont come to an event' I will most likely, cry. LET THIS BE A WARNING TO YOU ALL. Don't cross a worn out lady, she will snap.

Lots of love to you all. From a sick and tired little chef.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Getting Raw

Ok so tonights subject is going to be a wee bit on the quirky side. I'm studying food hygiene at the moment, and we have been discussing the subject of the temperatures used to cook meat. Everyone has such different tastes and like there food cooked accordingly. Take stake for example. Some people who cant stand the sight of blood love there stakes cooked well done. I myself love mine medium rare. Then there are those brave people who like there meat cooked rare. You can take it to a whole other level of bloodiness however and order you stake 'blue.' This basically means that the meat is sealed on either side and not cooked at all in the centre. Realistically its just an uncooked piece of meat.

Some people love their meat cooked like this, but funnily enough not many restaurant serve blue stake. The reason why we cook 'high risk foods' (meat, fish, eggs, poultry) is because they are the easiest to get sick from as they contain the most bacteria. When cooked to a certain point though, most of the harmful bacteria dies, and we are able to consume the food. Considering preparation for blue stake involves next to no heating, many restaurants are afraid to sell it, just incase someone gets food poisoning.

I know this is abstract, but as I was learning about this, I couldn't help but think how it applies to life. For me the most beautiful moment in existence is when we can be raw with people. Its why we seek out meaningful relationships, so we can finally open up to someone. So we can show someone our deepest darkest secrets, and truly express how we feel.

This however is dangerous. One of the last people I opened up to recently looked me in the eye and said "wow, you sound really hurt by some of your past relationships. You don't need to be scared around me.....I'm not going to hurt you." I spilled my heart to this person......and that was the last time I saw them. I am not meaning to be bitter or cynical here. I'm just trying to express the dangers of being raw.

When we are young we are so open. We will tell anything to anyone. Quickly though we learn that this isn't the best way to live.......because it can hurt. When we open our heart to someone its a risk. Its like ordering a blue stake. You might get terribly sick from it. People have died from food poisoning.....and from broken hearts.

The thing is though. Its beautiful. There is nothing quite as amazing as when we open our hearts and say "this is me". There is nothing so satisfying. So I just want to encourage you. Be raw. Order a blue stake. Get hurt. Cry. Feel. Break. Live. Laugh. Weep. Smile. Sing. Dance. Let your heart beat. Because there is nothing worse than a dry old piece of meat.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Disjointed thoughts on a Sunday day

I grew up the year I realised I had more to learn
I learnt to love when I realised you don't need it to be reciprocated
I learnt to look after myself as soon as I realised I it was ok to accept help from others

These are my revelations of the week as I have been pondering love, self love, growth, and chocolate cake. They are all very relevant subjects to my life at the moment (yes even the chocolate cake) as I take in the beauty that is my life and work out what to do with it. Its a slow but lovely process, as I pick my way through my head and my heart.

Today was my one and only day off that I got this week, and it was beautiful. Everything felt right. I put on a hat and gloves and had time just to be a lady, and wander though the winter weather with all the leaves blowing around me and sit in a cafe. Its times like these I know why I moved to Melbourne. I occasionally just get these moments of bliss where I think "yes, yes this is right."

I love having a day off after having worked so hard all week. Its like I can finally justify it to myself. I can stay in bed until ten and know that I deserve it. I can eat cake before dinner (its Sunday and all rules are out.) I can drink wine before dark. I can wear Chanel without an occasion, and I can just chill out.

Today a friend and I gave Donna Hay's four layered chocolate cake a go. It was so beautiful just to drink some wine, do some baking and really talk. Not enough real talking goes on in life, and I love it when you get raw moments when you can actually express what is going on in your life and how you have been feeling. The cake was really tasty but not quite as high as it should have been. I don't want to blaspheme, but I don't think donna hay has actually given the right recipe for the picture in the book. Her icing is much darker, and richer looking and I suspect it is a gnash not a cream cheese icing....but I'll forgive her this once.

I hope you all had a lovely Sunday. I'm off to school tomorrow to learn how to cook lambs brains.....yes you read correctly. Part of my wants to be all mature about it and be like "Well of course we are cooking lamb brains, its basic traditional cookery", but the other past of me wants to squeal like a girl and through them at the other students. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mulled wine.

Last weekend when I had my dinner party we drank some mulled wine. Its so yummy and festive. Now that winters coming on I thought maybe you could use the recipe too. It make an event feel a bit more special and you can make it on a budget (which is really handy.)

What you need:
  • 2lt of red wine (it doesn't matter how cheap it is....this is the beauty of the recipe)
  • 2 oranges
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • One drop of vanilla essence
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Some love
What to do:
  1. Slice your oranges
  2. Place everything in a big pot
  3. Slowly on a low heat, warm the wine but do not boil (If you boil the wine you will cook out all the alcohol.)
  4. Bring to a simmer. Turn off, and serve.
Hope you enjoy

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cake is wrecking my life...

Pastry school wasn't all roses today. We were doing such delicate work and I was coughing and spluttering all over the place. I felt so sick all day, and just couldn't seem to pull everything together. I made so many mistakes and half way through the day felt like crying into my melted marzipan. Lunch time came and went but I was too behind to stop for a break. Around one, I decided to take five minutes to eat much lunch, so I could sit down for a little rest. I opened my lunch box......and found my curry had grown mould. This week has been so hectic that I thought that the lunch I packed on monday night was packed on thursday night. Turns out the whole week had passed without me remembering to take it (I have no recollection of what I ate on the other days.) So I sculled an orange juice and headed back to class. To be honest I was so sick I could hardly tell if I was hungry or not.

There was one redeeming factor of the day though......my cooking partner. I initially picked him at the start of the year to avoid being a loner, when the two girls I had made friends with paired off. We haven't worked with anyone else since. Despite the fact he can speak next to no english (today we had a conversation that went like this:
Him: do theses belong to the teacher?
Me: Sorry what?
Him: Do these belong to the teacher?
Me: Sorry I have no idea what you just said
Him: Are they the teachers
Me: Did you just ask me if they were made in china? I really have no idea where they are made sorry.
Him: NO the teacher!
Me: Oh sorry. Yeah they are the teachers.) he is a life saver, and so so sweet about everything. Today when I made the macaroon mix too runny he insisted that it was his fault, when I scrambled the custard he told me that we had heaps of time on our hands so it really didn't matter (lies), when I couldn't pipe straight he gave me a lesson, and when I insisted I needed to sit down for five minutes he told me he didn't want a break because he would eat at work, so he started on the dishes.

Its saved my day having such a good friend. I don't think I would have made it through the day without him.

So I'm all curled up in bed for the night, not thinking about how much I need to practice my pastry skill. I'll put up a picture of my petit fours.....but you must promise to pretend that my piping work is neat, the macaroons aren't too big, the pastry isn't overworked and the chocolate dipping isn't messy. Alas.....so much to learn.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

When life gives you lemons

I have been sick all week. I have no recipes for you and only the will power to drag myself out of bed everyday and go to school and work. Its really disappointing because we are making some amazing things in class tomorrow but I just feel too sick to care. Despite how bad I feel, I'm still pulling in huge days at work and school and trouping through it.

I've actually been really proud of myself this week. Sometimes its nice when life is hard, and you overcome it. This week could have been a disaster in so many ways (life became super complex for a few days) but I pulled my head, my heart, my body and everything together. So here I am, still sick, still tired, still sniffly, but proud. I learnt this week sometimes doing the right thing does actually feel a lot better.

So when life gives you lemons don't make lemonade.......make lemon italian petit fours. Thats what I'll be doing tomorrow anyway.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What my day looked like

I'm much too tired tonight to write. I have the flue. But here is a picture of the most beautiful thing that I did today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thoughts on Petit fours

This week in my pastry class we are working on petit fours. This is basically really small beautifully decorated cakes and tarts. They are gorgeous but very time consuming. Unfortunately its not really my strong point as I'm not so good at precision work. Everything has to be exactly the same size and shape, and well, I'm more of a rustic girl. The whole idea of all this perfection really got me thinking.

What is it as humans we love about perfection? I feel like I'm always striving to be neater, more organised, thinner, up to date, and put together. I see so many girls in the city which I have dubbed 'The untouchables' as they always looks so very perfect. Not one hair is out of place, they are wearing the latest fashion, are super organised and look like nothing could ever effect them. What are we striving for?

I had a long hard think about it and realised that its our basic need for love that drives this. Ok I'll break down my theory for you. I worked it out like this. Nothing touches me more in life than when someone buys me a gift that they have really put thought into. Like a bunch of flowers that is your favourite colour, or something they just felt was 'really you.' It shows they put time and effort into it. They have thought about you, who you are, what you like, and what will bless you most. This time spent is an expression of love, and therefore, as humans we are led to believe that time equals love. It can be expressed to others through doing something for them, or to ourself by putting effort into the way we look.

Basically these 'untouchable' girls I see in the city everyday are either saying "I care about myself enough to put effort into the way I look", or trying to justify to the world that by putting enough effort into themselves they are worth love, and therefore other people should love them too. The subject of time therefore is not just about love, it's also about worth and our needs as humans to feel cared for and wanted.

It spreads even further across the board than just appearance and gifts though and filters down into many aspect of our lived such as fine food, designer clothes, quality products and even good wine. All these things take time and effort to make, and when we buy them for ourselves we are justifying to the world (and ourselves) that we are worth both time and effort.

Obviously this isn't the only reason humans appreciate beautiful things but I feel it explains a lot of it. We are so obsessed with beauty.......but really I think we are more obsessed with love.

I have no idea how this new theory will effect my cooking, but it helps me to understand it a bit more. When I do finally overcome these tiny petit fours I think I'll give them to a few of my favourite people in Melbourne.......just so, on some subconscious level, they will know that they are really loved and cared for.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Posh Pizza

Back at school today, and it felt quite good. I was cheery most of the day...probably something to do with my high caffeine levels. I really love being at school and feeling like I'm learning something useful. Its nice being around other people who care about the same things you care about. I love that I can sit down with someone for half an hour in the lunch break and just talk recipes.

I was very chuffed with myself today as I managed to talk the nerdy boy at school into selling me his text books (he didn't use them anyway) for much less than I was going to have to pay. Really I was doing him a favour......ok ok, maybe he was doing me a favour. I have a feeling I'm going to regret it though. He followed me around like a puppy all day. Previous to this the most words we had exchanged was the time he was telling the class about all his girlfriends (imaginary of course) and I mentioned quite loudly that his mother doesn't count. I was having a bad day....and he had been pushing the whole class to their limits with stories of drunken escapades that no one believed.

With the money I saved on the books I was able to pay for my gym membership. I've decided Its high time I get back into working out. Here again though I ran into trouble. All I wanted to do was sign up and pay my fee, but the recruitment guy wouldn't stop making fun of me and chatting. I wanted to stop him and say "listen, I know how this works out....we go for a drink, one sip in you ask me if i like sport. I say no. You act surprised and a little hurt. I start talking about cooking and writing, and this is your turn to be disinterested. We pick a mutual subject like music, but again, we find we have different tastes. You ask me about clubs, but I only know cafes........but you don't drink coffee. So lets just save us both the time and embarrassment, and stop before we start. ok?"

Why am I so bitter today? Because I have decided today that I have 'bad love karma' at the moment (as a result of hurting someones feelings at the start of the year) and only the people I don't like, like me but the ones I love wont. I'm hoping it will pass, because I don't know how many more bad dates and 'inconvenient loves' I can take.

On a brighter note, last nights dinner party was lovely. It was so nice to have good friends over to cook for. Its really what life is all about. I made a heap of pizza's which I really enjoyed. I'm so obsessed with cooking breads and doughs at the moment. Here's the recipe for one of the pizza's I made. Its one of my favourites. They used to sell it at my favourite bar in noosa, and I'd always go there for a cocktail and some dinner with girlfriends.

Posh Pizza
You will need:
  • One pizza bace (you can make your own, or buy a made one from the supermarket)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • One chicken breast
  • One avocado
  • Half a red onion
  • A handful of rocket
  • Half a round of brie
What to do:
  1. Slice up the chicken breast and pan fry. It doesn't need to be cooked all the way through because it will cook again when it goes on the pizza (you don't want to dry it out, but also make sure its not raw in the middle when your pizza comes out of the oven.
  2. Slice red onion, avocado, and drie
  3. Spread your bace with the cranberry sauce (you don't need too much)
  4. Layer all your ingredients on top (except the rocket)
  5. Crack some salt and pepper over the top
  6. Place in the oven and cook until bace is ready (or if your using a ready made one, until cheese is melted.)
  7. Sprinkle the fresh rocket over the top and serve.