everything food, produce and oom-nom-nom-nom related!


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lettuce turnip the beet

This is how little vegetables tickle my fancy. I had to google ‘funny vegetable quotes‘ to even come up with the title of this post. A friend of mine once said my blog was a vegetarian’s worst nightmare. That same friend said it was a carnivore’s orgasm! I’m secretly pleased, (that’s my pleased face below) but you didn’t hear it from me.
  
Now don’t get me wrong. I LUUURVE veges. I just have no idea how to cook them. I mean I can roast veges as well as the next person and they’re pretty damn tasty (but that’s because the roast drippings cover them in oogle boogle deliciousness.)

So to make up for turning the gentle stomachs of vegetarian’s around the world with my (beautiful oom nom nom nom) pulled pork recipe, I promised myself I’d attempt something sans meat. Today we had lunch at a friend’s house and she asked that I bring the coleslaw. ‘Coleslaw’. Yes. Coleslaw. You mean vegetarian? Like you mean you don’t want me to chop bacon in to it? Yes. Yip. Yup. Oui. Cole.Slaw. And what better chance to prove I can vegetarianify food or something or whatever the term is, than today?

After a bit of half-arsed research I concluded that coleslaw wasn’t rocket science but the traditional recipes just. sounded. so. bland. I decided to just wing it, imagining a Vietnamese pork roll while shopping. I came home armed with some cabbage. Green and red. Some chili. Some mint and coriander and carrots. 

From then on it was one big chop fest and I just mixed all these gorgeous ribbony bits of veges into a bowl. For the dressing I used salt and pepper, a good blob of crushed garlic paste and sesame oil. It still tasted too rich..too mayo-eggy-yuck. So in went half a cup of Greek Yoghurt. Boy did that do the trick. Oh, that and a sprinkle of my new favourite Saltbird Citrus Salt. It goes in everything!

  
Try this coleslaw. It’s great! It really IS a vegetarian delight. Especially inside a lovely warm soft roll with some freshly shredded pulled pork or even some supermarket hot roast chook. What? Chicken’s not a vegetable??!!

Lettuce turnip the beet. Dee x

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love on a (sushi) train

School holidays are a manic time in our household and usually involve my two, plus atleast one or two of their mates. So that automatically becomes a madhouse with FIFA-15 and sausage sizzles being the flavour of the month. To break up the monotony (for me), I took three little boys to watch a movie and then to Sushi Maru.

It was there that I noticed the most beautiful young Japanese sushi chef. But that is not extraordinary. What was surprising was that there was a young Indian man working behind the counter too, and he could not take his eyes off her. He made every attempt to get her attention and was rewarded with the most precious smile when she glanced his way and caught his eye.

This reminded me of two very beloved friends of mine. My Irish sister Sarah, and The Singing Chef, Sarajit Chanda. Sarah ensured I kept my sanity whilst I worked at Banjara. I still remember her wedding day. All I could afford was a single red gerbera in my hair and a florist at Wynyard Station wrapped wire around the stem and fixed it for me…

  
Sarj (whose voice I still remember, especially when he sang Chaudhvin Ka Chand,) kept me alive with tandoori chicken and daal, prawns, kebabs and naan. To these two I am ever grateful… But this is not my story, it’s Sarah’s. So I’ll let her tell it.

“In 1999, I left Ireland for Australia in search of adventure. A linguist by profession, I had never travelled to an English speaking country before and at first missed the challenge of learning a new language. Within a month I found a job in an Indian restaurant and was surrounded by colleagues of many different languages and cultures. Before long I had fallen head over heels in love with Indian food and culture and with the tandoori chef!!

Sarajit Chanda had worked as a chef in Sydney for 4 years when I strolled into his life. Originally from Bangladesh, he worked long hours among people from his own part of the world. He craved interaction with “westerners”. He felt that having come the whole way to Australia, he might as well be in Asia. 

The two of us started to go for drinks after work and would chat into the wee small hours. My one year visa ended in February 2000 but before I left I made a pledge to Sarajit that I’d come back. I returned in September 2000 and before long we decided to get married and move to Ireland.

At our small intimate wedding in a friend’s house in Sydney, we did our bridal waltz barefoot on the lawn to “Have I told you lately that I love you?” as a friend strummed it on the guitar and crooned the words of Van Morrison. The handful of close friends present munched on tandoori chicken prepared by Sarajit and cooked on the barbie! 

On 5th March 2001, still recovering from Mardi Gras the previous day, we left for Ireland. There we had a traditional wedding with our family and friends and this time Sarajit cooked for 160 guests!

Upon arriving in Ireland we got jobs in  restaurants, I as a manager and Sarajit as head chef. We were biding our time until the day that we would open our own restaurant.

In 2005 we left Dublin for a small rural town called Ardee where the opportunity presented itself. News of Sarajit’s fabulous food spread like wildfire. Within our first year, our restaurant, Fuchsia House had been reviewed by all major food critics and was included in guidebooks of Ireland’s best restaurants.

In the meantime, our first child, Maya Aruna came along and in 2008, our second, Laoise Margaret arrived.

In 2008 the Irish economy took a nosedive and dining out suffered very badly. “Dining at home” grew rapidly so we launched a range of sauces for sale in shops called Aruna Sauces, named after Sarajit’s mother Aruna who bestowed her wonderfully wholesome, delicious recipes upon us.

In 2012 our third (and final!!) child arrived. Whereas the girls were named after their grannies, our little man is named after both grandads. Sachin Patrick has brought such a hoot of laughter into our lives during what have been tough economic times for us all.

Until 2013 we lived in an apartment above our restaurant. This was a great upbringing for our kids in terms of being around food, business and people all the time. Ironically though our cooking facilities upstairs were rudimentary.  I longed to teach our kids how to cook.

In 2013 we sold our restaurant and moved into a lovely house with a big kitchen and a 6 ring cooker! We now bake and cook and concoct and have great fun with food.

I must admit that after daddy, the best cook in the house is Sachin, aged 3.

Everything we do in our family to do with business, family, celebrations etc. revolves around food. It’s who we are, what we do and what we seek to pass on to our children.”

Thank you my beloved Irish sister for sharing your story. You have proved that love and tandoori chicken can transcend all barriers. I cannot wait till our families can meet again. Dee x


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why would you go to an irish woman’s house?

To eat curry of course!! And what a mighty fine rogan josh it was. Made lovelier because I didn’t have to cook it. (Not that I’ve ever cooked a curry from scratch but still!!). 

So allow me to introduce Lisa. This lovely dear friend who cooks with passion and loves with heart. And has her own amazing blog where she Junk’d the Junk and had inspired many a yummy meal at our house. 

 

And she even wrote a guest blog post for me. She gives me a lot more credit than I’m due, but thank you gorgeous girl. One day I will hit you up for that rogan josh recipe but in the meanwhile I’ll just pop over next time you make some! So without any further ado here’s Lisa…

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If you are meant to be shot – you won’t drown!

Let me explain. I’ve a new old friend. I’ve known this woman for a few years and I feel like we had been on the cusp of a friendship for some time. Recently though it’s changed from an acquaintance into something more. 


Why the title of this this post? Well its simple, this new old friendship nearly never happened. My new friend became seriously unwell and was in a coma for some time last year. However being the tough nut fighter that she is, she did the virtually impossible and survived. I’m very glad that she did!


Lovely Dee who is beautiful inside and out. The most generous girl you could meet– if you say something like “what a lovely bracelet” it’s off her wrist and on yours in a flash. I’m very proud to call you my friend. 


Anyway enough smushy stuff already, onwards and upwards and all that. 

We went to an Italian / Lebanese charity cookery class, demonstration and feast a few weeks ago. It was so great. The demonstrators Marta and Tina were funny and engaging.


Their food was amazing. There was Panzanella, Gnocchi Potato and Bean Soup, Hommus, Baba Ghannouj, Parmigiana, Chicken Taouk, Roast Potatoes & Rosemary, Tabbouli, Tiramisu and Baklava. I rolled home.


The atmosphere was chilled and comfortable, the company was excellent and it was for a great cause, fundraising to support the School of St Jude in Tanzania that provides free education to children, who are not able to access private schools. You can find out more about it here www.schoolofstjude.org  


The stand out dish of the evening for me was Tina’s Baba Ghannouj. Look I know I know – Aubergine aka Eggplant is not something I ever got enthusiastic about. That was before. Tina she has changed my view on these shiny purple veggies – no longer are they the slimy oily things I dislike. They have been transformed into one of my very favourite ingredients. I’ve made this dip four times since the cookery class and Hubby#1, Children#1, 2 & 3 and myself are all elbowing each other out of the way to get to the bowl. 

So here it is Tina’s amazing Baba Ghannouj. 


Ingredients

2 Aubergines

2-3 big tablespoons tahini 

1-2 cloves garlic

Juice of 1 large lemon

1-2 tsp salt

1 tablespoon olive oil & some to garnish

Pomegranate seeds – or chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

  


Heat your oven to the highest temp. I rub a little olive oil all over the skin of the Aubergines. Put the onto a grill tray and put into the hot oven for about 10 minutes – turn over and put back for another 10 mins. The time really depends on your oven. You want to blacken the skin and cook the flesh inside. Then peel the skin off and set aside to cool and drain for about 15 mins. 


Meanwhile crush your garlic cloves and juice the lemon. When the aubergines have cooled drain off any excess liquid. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and whiz until smooth. You can do this by hand either just mash up with a fork and use some “elbow grease”. You can add more tahini, lemon, garlic to your taste. We like it with a good bit of tahini in my house.


Now to make it look pretty to serve, scoop in into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drizzle the olive oil over the top and scatter over the pomegranate seeds or chopped parsley. It’s so yum. Serve with flat breads, vegetable stick or crackers. I also like to put great big spoons onto a salad as a dressing. Enjoy. Thanks Tina for the introduction to Baba Ghannouj.


Here we all are enjoying the feast after the Italian-Lebanese Cookery Class. Notice how all the plates are empty – everything was gobbled up. Just shows how yummy it was!


  


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it doesn’t have to be long to be pleasurable…

There are restaurants and there are restaurants and then there’s Papa Goose. Tucked away in a quirky little lane way in Melbourne, this place had me at Papa Goose. I literally could not go past the name. Or that they were superb from the moment I made my first phone call to them ten days ago. Or that they were happy to chop and change and plan and accommodate and unset their set menu just for us. 

 
Or the fact that my husband is now convinced I will send Christmas cards to the very gorgeous Tammy and Alex. What? They were lovely. And the amount of times I called them, they might think I’m family no? And let us not forget Nora. A lovelier waitress I have not met in my entire life. Thank you. 
I wasn’t convinced that ‘British’ was actually a cuisine. I mean fish and chips cannot possibly please everyone can it? So our little group was quite chuffed when they brought out the most exquisite food. Even the Grumpy Gorgeous One Who Shall Remain Unnamed got his Yorkshire Pudding just because he asked. Nicely.
The salmon was lovely…we had to lean over and swap and share to taste…but good friends can dig in to each other’s plates can’t they. The porterhouse (I think it was porterhouse) was divine. I didn’t get to taste the crispy skinned chicken but it looked pretty damn fantastic too. But for me the highlight was the lamb. Oh. My. God. I would like to say no lambs were harmed for this blog post but I am grateful that they sacrificed their own lives for us last night. Thank you lambikins, may you come back as an evolved being in your next life and may no one eat you. 
  
And wonderful food is still only just food without the love and laughter of friends old and new. Though most were old, some were new but felt old… like a pair of soft comfy uggies. 
  
Like the diver who’s old but new. He’s interesting and he’s lovely. He rides a bike that’s not a Harley but I will forgive him this one indiscretion. And a man who’s about to become a father and keeps an Excel spreadsheet of his wife’s progress. How gorgeous. And my beautiful friend who saves lives with the SES and is the only woman in her team who can do everything the boys do. Or the other crazy beautiful girl who’s triumphed over something so scary, I wonder how she laughs with such abandon, let alone gets out of bed. And my beautiful bald shiny husby. And every single person at that table last night…
  
It wasn’t an excessively long evening but it was an excessively enjoyable one, so I will end with what a wise man once said. Re-read the title. I wasn’t being vulgar!
Dee x


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tea for two, me & you

It always boils down to the tea, doesn’t it? People who laugh and care and share ALL drink tea.

As I kill myself every Thursday, racing from school to pool with seconds to spare, my nerves are shot and my heart is racing. My palms start sweating and I start to get annoyed! The panic starts to set in around 1pm. Oh my god how will I get the kids to their lesson in time? I hope I don’t forget their swimmers. I hope they’re not dawdling down the stairs. A million thoughts spin round and round inside my head. Why oh why do I torture myself like this?

But today worked out a little bit differently. A lovely mum sat down next to me at our swim lesson. Let’s call her CR for now and I’ll tell you why!

I know her from before, but not so well that she needed to do what she did. We got the kids into the pool and lo and behold two big mugs appeared on the bench beside me. Two seconds later a thermos. Followed by a packet of oogly boogly gooey oom nom nom nom ginger chocolate chip cookies.

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A feast! A picnic! A gesture from the heart that made the entire week’s troubles melt away with that first sip. A little poolside party where two perfectly ordinary mums sipped delicately from big fat plastic cups as if we were high-teaing with the Queen herself! And so I’m calling her CR… Chai Rani… The maker of tea! The brewer of happiness. The bringer of smiles. The stopper of 3 o’clock itits!!

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Thank you from the heart of my bottom because it is slightly bigger than the bottom of my heart. You’re wonderful, you made my day. I will try and live up to your chai next week. It may not be as masalafied, but it will be made with love. Dee x


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the little hidden garden of love

Yesterday we stepped out of the car and walked down the crunchy sparkly white-pebbled side of a dark gray house and suddenly thought we were in Italy. Or at least south of France or somewhere exotic like Mosman!

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A magical hidden courtyard set with a red and white checked table cloth on a little yummy table. Trees casting shadows on the ground. Flowers tumbling their unruly heads over one another. The smell of herbs and lamb and bread and the most delicious homemade hommus you’ve ever eaten. A glass of wine, deep ruby red, especially divine under the setting sun. Lamb, tossed in olive oil and rosemary, some in lemon grass. My senses, all being assaulted at once. Crusty bread, my carb intake for the year, consumed in one fell swoop but so satisfying. Tabouli. Usually bitter and yuck at food courts in a kebab. But delicious tonight. Homemade. Fresh. Lemony. Full of love. You could taste it.

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And the little lemon chocolate cups. And the berries. Tart. Sweet. Reflecting in the candle light. And the laughter. The stories. The banter. The selfies! The accents. Four distinctly different sounds…. My beautiful little Italian. My funny FUNNY Lebanese. My husband. The only man at the party last night. His warm deep laugh setting the kookaburras off too. And me. Indian as all hell! Content to just be in the moment. Content to be alive. Happy to have finally found a home away from home. To have made peace with life in Sydney. To feel doubly blessed that I really do now have two homes. India home and Australia home.

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And so we raised our glasses to friendship and to love.

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And to friends. Who are like the stars. Dee x

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men to the left…

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I do not mean to start this post with toilet humour but this has to be one of the the best signs I’ve seen!

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Earlier this evening we argued about where we wanted to eat. I wanted Indian. He wanted good pub grub. So obviously we chose French. And what an insanely divine choice it was.

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Le Bouchon turned out to be perfect. Even the blunder made by our elegant server was exquisite. She brought us escargot in garlic butter and said how wonderful that we decided to have the 8 course degustation. I gently (I really was on my best behaviour) corrected her that, in fact, we hadn’t. With quiet grace she said to please enjoy these, compliments of the house. I’ve never eaten escargot, I could have kissed her. (I could’ve kissed that gorgeous French gentleman too. Even my husband might’ve. That’s how good it was).

Our meal only got more sublime as we went… Oysters with champagne vinegar. Scallops wrapped in bacon in this completely oogly-boogly butter sauce. I know you know that’s not a French word-but you get the drift. Shiny green garlicky buttery beautiful beans. Pan-roasted grass fed wagyu… Help dear lord, I could actually eat the whole cow. How good can a meal get!!

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And because I suffered from EBS* tonight, I HAD TO HAVE the four-dessert tasting platter. What? Stop rolling your eyes at me. I shared the coffee with Big Foodie.

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Oh by this stage we were literally struggling to even ask for the bill. Every limb…every cell, was in a food-induced coma. I don’t remember walking to the car to get back home. I don’t even remember taking these photos or writing this post.

I’m trying to be funny but I’m failing miserably.

Thoughts of garlic and butter and shiraz and coffee and chocolate and nougat and raspberry coulis and walnut icecream are all clouding my judgement and making me verrrryyy sleep-satisfied indeed. Goodnight sweet yummy delicious world. Vive la France!
Dee x

*EBS: Eyes Bigger than Stomach.
And usually an affliction my beloved suffers from.