Archive for the 'food' Category

Backyard Passionfruit Ice Cream

March 18, 2014


My boyfriend has a tangled, overgrown passionfruit vine growing from a neighbouring backyard into his Balmain courtyard.  For years he has been throwing them out as they fall off the vine.  But now I squeal whenever I see one on the pavers in the courtyard, run down stairs and fetch it, collecting them in a bowl in the kitchen until I have enough to make an ice cream so delicious and heavenly it’s hard to imagine that it has such simple ingredients.  Even an ice cream purist like Andy (vanilla with chocolate sauce, please) has to admit that it is pretty damn good.

Passionfruit Ice Cream
Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz

1/2 cup fresh passionfruit pulp, from 10 passionfruits
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons milk
7 tablespoons white sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks

Scoop the pulp out of the passionfruit and place in a sieve over a non reactive bowl.  Press down on the pulp to squeeze as much juice into the bowl as possible.  When you have close to half a cup, mix in half a cup of the cream and put to one side.

Warm the milk, sugar, salt and the rest of the cream in a small saucepan.  Whisk the egg yolks gently and pour the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking to combine.  Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and stir on a low heat, scraping the bottom and corners of the pan with a silicone spatula so that the custard thickens evenly.  This may take up to ten minutes.  The custard is ready when you can run your finger down the spatula and leave a clean line.

Discard the leftover passionfruit seeds and pulp from the sieve and place back over the bowl containing the passionfruit and cream mixture, pour the custard through the sieve and stir into the passionfruit and cream mixture.

Chill and then churn in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes.

Take to the dog park at the bottom of the street on a Friday afternoon and share with everyone.  We were very lucky and got some lemon meringue pie in exchange.


Strawberry Mornings

September 23, 2013

strawberry mornings

I’m newly back in Sydney after 3 months in North America, and am enjoying slow mornings sitting on the back lawn with my cat.  Breakfasts are not only slow, but easy – pot set yoghurt with fresh pear or strawberries and some syrup that I made to have with soda water, but that is just too tasty to dilute and waste in a drink.

While I was away my local cafe Cornersmith opened up a new space on Illawarra Road, offering fresh local produce and cheese making classes run by Kristen Allan.  Kristen’s pot set yoghurt is for sale in the Cornersmith Picklery for $10 a jar and it was that trembly just-set tart opacity that begged me to pour homemade strawberry-basil syrup over my breakfast a few mornings ago.  I’m glad I did.

Strawberry Basil Syrup (adapted from the kitchn)

2 punnets strawberries, trimmed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup sugar

Blitz strawberries with a bamix or blender wand.  Press through sieve to remove seeds.  Measure resulting juice into a cup, topping up with water to measure one cup if necessary.  Pour juice into a small saucepan with lemon juice, basil, and sugar.

Heat mixture over medium heat until boiling.  Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Remove basil leaves and pour into a clean jar.

Can be added to soda water, poured on top of yoghurt or ice cream or eaten with cake.  Nom.

Earl Grey Ice Cream

February 7, 2013

It was very wet in Sydney this weekend.  I combatted the bleak weather by wearing red lipstick and gumboots, and making an ice cream designed especially for rainy days.

earl grey ice cream

Earl Grey Ice Cream
Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup French Earl Grey tea leaves
5 large egg yolks

Warm tea leaves, milk, half the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cover and set aside to steep for 1 hour.

Rewarm the tea-infused milk.  Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.  Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream, pressing gently on the tea leaves to extract the maximum flavor from them, then discard the leaves.

Chill and then churn in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes.

Sydney Food Gleanings – The CBD

September 26, 2012

It can be expensive eating in the Sydney CBD.  If you’re travelling through Sydney and are spending time in the city, but don’t want to have to eat greasy food court fare, here are some of my favourite cheap and stylish places to eat within walking distance of Pitt Street Mall.

I didn’t intend for them to all be asian, but that’s how it worked out (the bonus for me is that this makes it easy to avoid gluten!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Lentil Hotpot

September 4, 2012


Lentil Hotpot

1 cup puy lentils
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp coriander stems, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 bay leaf
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
salt + pepper
2 Tbsp parsley or coriander
thick greek yoghurt and lemon juice to serve

spicy alternative: replace herbs with 1 tsp of tumeric, garam masala, cinnamon and cardamom

Rinse and drain lentils then soak for 30 minutes or overnight.

Cook onion over low heat until soft.  Add garlic, chopped coriander stems and diced vegetables.  Stir until veges start to soften. Turn up heat, add lentils and stir.  Pour in stock and add herbs or spices.  Cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender.  Add extra water or stock if necessary.

Serve with parsley or coriander, yoghurt and lemon juice.  Good both hot and cold, on its own or with brown rice.

Sydney Food Gleanings – the Inner West

August 22, 2012

If you are in that part of Sydney known as the Inner West, these are some of my favourite places to eat.  Go on… make a day of it.

Illawarra Road, Marrickville

A simple menu of poached eggs on toast and ploughman platters that changes depending on what seasonal produce is available.  Every time I eat something from Cornersmith, I find myself going home and trying to recreate it – beetroot pickle, pear and ricotta muffins, and quince and clove ice cream.  I think that’s the best compliment I can give this place – the food inspires you to create and to keep eating well.  Try to ignore the hipsters.

Bourke Street Bakery
Mitchell Street (off Victoria Road), Marrickville

More laid back and less crowded than the Surry Hills original.  They have different breads on different days, which encourages our household to mix up our bread buying routine.  My favourite take home treat is the sour cherry and fennel bread.

Addison Road Organic Food Market, Sundays – 8am-3pm
Addison Road, Marrickville

Great chai.  I have a friend who makes a breakfast gozleme here a weekend ritual.  My favourite thing to do is to get a delicious fruit ice block or the really fresh corn fritters and sit on the grass and watch the miniature horse rides.

PHD Vietnamese Restaurant
Illawarra Road, Marrickville

Considered by most to be the best Vietnamese restaurant on this strip.  Especially the Pho.  I’m rating Queyen Restaurant next door lately, too – great vermicelli rice noodle salads.

Zhenghao Restaurant
Enmore Road, Enmore


The only place so far in the Inner West where I’ve found xiao long bao.  The fried lamb dumplings are really just incredibly good.

Black Star Pastry
Australia Street, Newtown

This is where you go in Sydney when you want to buy someone a birthday cake, okay?  This one had sugar balls, roses, figs, quince and pistachios on top.  That many toppings on a cake is just pure decadence.

Everleigh Farmers’ Market, Saturdays – 8am-1pm
Carriageworks, Wilson Street, Everleigh

You can eat for free here with all the different tastings on offer.  Don’t be shy.  The smoked trout with pickled red onion is my favourite.  You will meet all the dogs and see all the flowers.  It’s that kind of market.

Big Brekky
Stanmore Road, Petersham

Their french toast is so big I have nicknamed it cake toast.  Great corn fritters and a fantastic big breakfast that has merquez sausages, potato gratin and a pear relish that I just want to order as a side on everything.

Tara (with butter)

December 6, 2011

One of my favourite reading finds this year was Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.  It’s a Romance novel and an Action novel, but mostly it’s a novel about food.

Agnes is a curvy food writer who lives in an old plantation mansion in Georgia.   It’s her dream house, just like the house in Gone with the Wind, only better… because it comes ‘with butter’.  There is so much cooking and food in this book, mostly breakfasts and cakes.  I don’t know why Agnes has so much food in her fridge/pantry, and who does the washing up.  But she feeds everyone.   It certainly made me want to cook for a crowd.

And Tara (with butter) has become a bit of a mental touchstone for me.  Having a huge mortgage on a big old house is pretty stressful for Agnes (she’s about to default on her mortgage payments, has to host a wedding for inlaws from hell, oh, and everyone seems to want to kill her), but the essence of the idea of Tara (with butter) is, for me, having somewhere to settle, somewhere to call home, with enough produce and supplies on hand to be able to eat well.  Really well.

At the same time as I have that dream, I also dream about vagabonding and going on a long adventure (knitting in iceland, bicycling my way through tuscany, learning french in paris, hitting the chicago blues festival, walking the high line in nyc).  And you can certainly eat well on the road.  But I also carry that idea of this place with hummocky paddocks, higher hills in the distance, a bit of a house to bang around in, friends who come visit, a cat on the porch and a long narrow twighlight.

With butter.

balsamic strawberry ice cream

April 14, 2011

I hosted the party to end all parties in my wee house on the weekend. There were ice cream flavours a plenty: chilli chocolate, cinnamon, thai basil, white chocolate sorbet, and plum sorbet with grand marnier were my favourites.

And just as I think I don’t have it in me to make ice cream ever again, I find two almost too ripe punnets of leftover strawberries in the fridge.

The thought of a complex ice cream recipe with multiple steps and straining, and chilling etc was daunting, but then I found a recipe for Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream in Stephanie Alexander’s A Cook’s Companion. Even as I was reading the recipe I could taste the tart caramel of the balsamic vinegar and the sweetness of the strawberries. So fresh and delicious, and so simple.

Photo by @ flickr

Easy Balsamic Vinegar and Strawberry Ice Cream (ratios significantly modified from the orginal recipe)

Wash, hull and quarter 1 1/2 punnets of ripe strawberries. Macerate strawberries in 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar for 20 minutes. Whizz strawberries and vinegar with 1/4 cup of pure icing sugar using an immersion blender. Chill this vinegar-strawberry-sugar mixture in the fridge for at least one hour. Whip 1 1/2 cups of cream and then fold through the strawberry mixture and churn in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes.

This black pepper panna cotta with balsamic strawberries looks amazing too.

the goriest of fruit

February 12, 2011

Since getting my ice cream maker at Christmas, my holy grail has been to find fresh Blood Oranges so that I can make David Lebovitz’s Blood Orange Sorbet. When my sister was up from Melbourne I scoured all the fancy markets hoping I’d find them, but no luck. Sydney was Blood Orange dry.

This week though I found them finally – the Blood Orange Mecca – in a small greengrocer in the predominantly middle eastern community I work in in Sydney’s West.

I bought a dozen and couldn’t wait to take them home and juice them. This is me really excited later that night when I was about to start juicin’

I wasn’t prepared for how dark they were (such a great colour!), or their complex flavour. Like the sweetst, most alcoholic of oranges. They taste like concentrated sunshine. A friend of mine told me a story the day I bought them about growing up in Tamworth eating blood oranges straight from the tree as she walked home, and they really taste like that childhood summer walking. Such a treat!

I made such a mess juicing them, because the juice splattered everywhere as I did them by hand with my trusty white porcelain maxwell williams citrus peeler. It probably didn’t help that I felt the need to suck the last bit of juice our of every juiced half, either. I walked away with two cups of juice, but looking like I had also just walked off the set of an episode of True Blood! Totally worth it, though. Juice is sitting chilled in the fridge and I am going to churn it tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know how it goes and will try and take photos. The colour is going to be intense!

In other fun news, I scored tickets to see Sufjan Stevens at the Opera House a few weeks ago. They were late release tickets, so I only knew we were going a few hours before the gig started and had to get there straight from work. Which made it all the more special when I realised what an amazing performance we had been invited into. When people got up from their seats in the middle of Impossible Soul and started dancing, I realised what a great thing we were part of — and then balloons and glitter came raining down. In the Sydney Opera House! It was like a giant dance party, and it was so nice to see everyone enjoying themselves so much. I love a happy concert. I’m going to learn to dance like those girls, I swear.

January was just the most amazing month for live music, and 2011 has barely started!

death by chocolate

December 23, 2010

That’s it. Christmas is off!

Who needs Christmas when you spend the week before cooking the most amazing food? Case in point: last night’s chocolate sorbet.

I guess I can’t decry Christmas completely, because it did bring me my amazing Cuisineart ICE-20. My sister Claire, Dave and I test ran it early last night with a chocolate dessert par excellence… David Lebovitz’s amazing Chocolate Sorbet. Why I would decide to make the most decadent chocolate ice cream in existence after two weeks of guzzling Christmas chocolate, I have no idea… but it was just heaven.

I can’t wait to try more flavours – we are thinking rhubarb ice cream for Christmas day; Claire wants to make blood orange sorbet; and I am drooling about the salted caramel ice cream filled with shards of white Belgian chocolate that I had at Love Coogee on Sunday night.