Bread for your belly

Rosemary flecked focaccia

If you haven’t seen the film Anchorman, you should, right now. Stop reading this post and go rent it. I’m serious.

Those of you that have will no doubt remember Ron Burgundy singing at his scotch:

I love scotch.
Scotchy scotch scotch.
Here it goes down, down into my belly…….

And so on.

Well today I am here to confess that I feel much the same way about bread. It’s sad really, scotch and bread don’t really have a lot in common, one takes 18 years to mature, is smooth and effortlessly cool and the other is, well, just bread. But the heart (and by heart I of course mean belly) wants what it wants.

If someone told me in the morning I could never eat bread again I think I might consider slapping them; at the very least I’d shout at them, loudly. I always feel sorry for those women in glossy magazines who profess the benefits of a carb-free diet. I mean, they may be skinny, rich and successful, but could they really be happy? I doubt it. But then again, the less bread they eat, the more there is for me, whoop!

The magic of yeast

Magic stuff, that yeast!

Making your own bread is a lot less effort than you’d think and the results are oh so worth it. You just need time and a little elbow grease. The recipe I’m sharing today is one I’ve adapted from Maureen Tatlow’s The Back to Basics Cookbook. I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes and I just love it.

There are just two things to point out with it, if you don’t put in the requisite kneading time your bread will be heavy and dense; but hand-kneading for 10 minutes is a kind of exercise and so in a way makes up for the delicious carb overload that’s coming. The second thing is, this bread doesn’t keep well, you really need to eat it on the day it’s made, although it does toast really well on the day after. So adjusting the quantities to suit your hunger levels ain’t a bad idea.

Rosemary flecked focaccia

Rosemary focaccia

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Rosemary and pine nut semolina cookies

Are you a Barry’s or a Lyons drinker yourself?

This is a question that can polarise Irish people. Friendships can be made or broken on the answer; in fact, it’s a question you should ask any potential partner straight up. It’s pretty much a deal breaker.

I am of course, talking about tea. Irish people can take tea very seriously indeed.

I am a Barry’s woman myself. I grew up in a Barry’s drinking household and I’ll stay a Barry’s woman until the day I die. Lucky for me, The Fella doesn’t drink tea at all, so we didn’t have to have the Barry’s versus Lyons debate. Instead we’ll have to discuss more trivial things, like what country to bring our kids up in and stuff.

Anyway, I love tea, but I love tea dunkers even more. I got the idea for these particular dunkers from the beautiful 101 Cookbooks website, but I have to admit, I didn’t follow Heidi ’s recipe. Instead, I adapted the semolina shortcake cookies I had made for Australia Day (because they were delish!), by adding some rosemary (from my garden) and toasted pine nuts. The result: très dunkable yumness for a classy afternoon tea. Someone stick the kettle on quick….

Rosemary and pine nut semolina cookies

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Taking back Sunday

I work full time. My dreams of becoming a yummie-mummie and staying home all day baking fabulous cupcakes and rearing my own chickens will just have to wait until I win the lotto. So, sometimes it’s hard to find time to spend in the kitchen. Much as I enjoy cooking, on weekday evenings it can be exhausting and weekends can sometimes be super hectic. Plus I hate cleaning up, life is just too short for cleaning up.

But a few years ago, while flipping through The Guardian, I found a recipe by Hugh Ferning-Whittingdale that changed everything . I duly clipped it out, and boy has it served me well on many a lazy (read hungover) Sunday afternoon. It’s as simple as throwing everything in a roasting dish and popping into the oven, but it tastes as good as if you had slaved over a hot stove for hours. And, there’s very little cleaning up to be done afterwards. Brilliant.

Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes


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Pumpkin predicaments

If I say the word ‘pumpkin’ to you, what do you immediately think of? If it’s Hallowe’en, then you were probably born in the northern hemisphere.

This week I was given a present of a pumpkin. It was beautiful: green with orange speckles, home-grown and organic. It could not have been any cuter. But all I could think was: it’s May, who the hell grows pumpkins in May?? The answer: Australians.

Figuring out the seasons is one of the stranger adjustments I have had to make since moving here. At home, on the fair emerald isle, we all know Australians celebrate Christmas during the summer. We giggle at their stupidity for not knowing Christmas revolves around frost, mulled wine, fairy lights and a whole lot of hearty winter fare; all the while secretly wondering what it would be like to spend it on a sunny beach. This is all well known, so when Christmas rolled around I was prepared for the strangeness of it. It has been other things that have caught me off guard, such as eating hot-cross buns as the leaves are changing colour, sunshine on St. Patrick’s Day and now being given pumpkins in May. Where will it end?!

If Australia is the opposite to Ireland, then May is pretty much like October, right?

So once I had recovered from the shock of all this, I had to figure out what I was going to do with this May pumpkin. And I’m afraid I was very unoriginal, I opted for risotto and pumpkin pie. And here is my rational: pumpkin risotto is all kinds of yum, so that’s pretty much a no brainer; and I’ve never actually tasted pumpkin pie before, so while it might seem unoriginal to some, it’s totally left of field for me.

So that was the menu planned, all that was left to do was crack open the gourd and a bottle of red, cook and enjoy on a (very warm) Sydney autumn evening.

Pumpkin and rosemary risotto

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