Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lime coconut bread

It's the day after the day after Christmas.  It's the in between time of year.  The presents are unwrapped but the new year's resolutions yet to be made.  While the official festivities are over, you can't quite go back to your regular bowl of muesli just yet.  So here's the in between of the breakfasts - quite a bit more special than cereal or toast but not so elaborate it requires multiple bowls, cooking coordination or fancy ingredients.  And once it's made, all that's required over the next few days is slicing it up and popping it into the toaster. 

It rained in Sydney on Christmas Day this year.  I love the rain so that suited me fine.  But it meant that the bag of limes I had bought in anticipation of gin and tonics languished while long sleeves were donned and wine was poured.  The sun is out now but not before I swiped one to make this for the days ahead.  Despite the name, this loaf is somewhere in between itself - not quite bread, not quite cake.  But definitively delicious.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Nutmeg maple butter cookies

So to Christmas.  As I see it you have two choices.  Spend a horrendous couple of days battling stressed-out shoppers in search of over-priced (and inevitably under-appreciated) gifts, or take a couple of hours one evening to bake.  Cookies are fast, easy to make in large quantities and require very little concentration in their preparation – allowing you listen to a podcast, watch TV, or drink a glass of wine at the same time as solving all your present problems.  You can’t do that in the small appliances section of a department store.  

These butter cookies are simple, yet – with the addition of freshly grated nutmeg and golden maple syrup - luxurious.  While you can make them in any shape you like, I think they look especially sweet cut to resemble leaves.  Package them up prettily with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of thought: click here, here or here for some great ideas.  Happy holidays.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rhubarb snacking cake

I was a latecomer to rhubarb.  I never ate it growing up, and then when I was all grown and buying groceries myself I still had no idea what to make of it.  It was unclear to me whether it was a fruit or a vegetable, and whatever it was you couldn't just pick up and eat it, like an orange or a carrot.  It required advance knowledge of what to do and I just didn’t have it.  Occasionally when travelling, I’d encounter it in pie form – rhubarb apple, strawberry rhubarb… it seemed like a sort of also-ran, always paired with something else, not good enough to have a vehicle of its own.  It also had a disconcerting resemblance to celery.  And who wants to eat celery pie?  So I continued in my ignorance.  But this all changed when I came across this recipe.  Maybe it was just the name (who wouldn’t immediately feel a need for something called snacking cake?), maybe I was procrastinating about something else I had to do that day, but all of a sudden I was motivated to understand rhubarb.  It turns out it’s not that complicated.  You just add sugar and suddenly – or slowly, in this case, as it bakes in the oven – it transforms from a stiff, stringy stalk into a jewel-toned jam with a pleasantly tart kick, which here nestles perfectly between a light, cakey base and a dense crumb topping.  I won’t ever underestimate it again.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Someone asked me this morning what we eat for breakfast in Australia.  I told them that really there wasn’t anything particularly distinctive about our morning meal.  We eat cereal, eggs, bacon, pancakes, muffins, oatmeal (though we call it porridge) - all those things people in other places eat.  And then I remembered these corncakes.  They’re not the sort of thing you’d eat every day (though certainly you could) but more likely on the weekend, when you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve and an inclination to linger…  

Breakfast is far and away my favourite meal.  I think my inability to sleep in is due in part to some kind of subconscious excitement about waking up and getting to eat (again).  It almost doesn’t matter what what's on my plate, whether I’m alone or with others, there’s something intrinsically optimistic about the first meal of the day.  Maybe it’s the light, which, in combination with a cup of coffee, renders anything - even a rubbery, reheated rectangle of eggs and bacon on an international flight - with a golden glow.

This particular breakfast feels very Sydney, perhaps because it’s a Bill Granger recipe and his style of cooking is very much of that city – clean, simple flavours, unfussy, beautiful to look at…  Eating his food is somehow like diving into an ocean pool, or watching the sunlight glitter on the harbour.  

I’m not in Sydney or even summer right now… 

But soon(ish) I will return and when I do, I’m making these.  Straight after a swim.