Monday, 30 April 2012

Using leftovers

DO you sometimes have leftovers in your fridge?

That may just sit there on the shelf while you wonder what to do with them?

I often have leftovers.

I am pretty good at using them up.

They either turn into my lunches over a few days or I re-invent them into something else.

I had a conversation with Stacey & Suz about menu planning & trying to use what is in the fridge yesterday.  Stacey is a meal planner while Suz & I totally fail are not but I think we all agree that wasting food is not a good thing.

I have never been a menu planner- basically as I like to buy seasonally & also what is on special.  I tend to buy and then make up the meals from whatever produce I have.

But I am very aware that it takes a certain level of food knowledge to be able to do that.  It isn't that easy for everyone to just make something up from what they have in the cupboard & fridge.

Although I am hoping that with my upcoming 'Pantry stock' posts that you will be on your way!

Stacey wrote a great post about being more mindful with food here- run and read it!

So let's all try & be more mindful of creating less waste, using what is in our fridge & just generally being more mindful in our attitude to food.

Leftovers sounds so drab but lots of food actually tastes SO much better the day after as the flavours have developed & settled.

This week see how you go making use of what is on your fridge!

Let's try and reduce the waste together.

I made a Roast dinner on Friday night and had lots of leftover vegies.  The littlies didn't last for the 'big' dinner and had gone to bed.  
And to be honest I always tend to do HEAPS of veg as i LOVE roast veg!  sometimes more than the meat.
I didn't want to waste the vegies and so I made a Frittata with the leftovers and fancied it up a little with some chunks of spiced Ricotta dotted through it.
The result was sensational.  The big boys LOVED it.
They have both taken it to school for lunch today. 
It also makes the BESTEST picnic food ever!

  • 250g spiced Ricotta mix (I use same principles as from my Ricotta chicken recipe - I change the mix a little every time depending on what I feel like)
  • leftover Roast veg - I had Pumpkin, Carrot, potato, Spanish onion, whole garlic cloves, cauliflower in this lot but pop in whatever you have.
  • 4 organic eggs
  • a handful of extra fresh herbs- roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cream.
  • S & P
Preheat oven to 170C.
Oil a large oven dish and scatter the Roast veg across the pan.

Scatter the fresh herbs over.
Dot the dish with tablespoon clumps of the Ricotta.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs and cream.
Pour over the top of vegies.

Pop in oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is looking brown.

Take out of oven and let cool.

Can be served warm or cool.
Cut into slices and serve with crusty bread & butter or with a salad.

I'm not sure what reminded me of this song this week but it BLOWS my mind. 
Jill Scott wrote it as response to media wanting her to change her body shape to make her more ....well more what?
way to respond lady!!!! 

Friday, 27 April 2012

Setting up your pantry

Lately I have been thinking about writing a couple of posts on how to set up your pantry.
As in:
  • What you need for your Italian Pantry.
  • What you need for your Asian pantry.
  • What you need in your Alcohol pantry...(ok maybe not)
What do you think?

Would that be useful for you?

Let me know in the comments section.

I remember when I first started cooking and one of the most frustrating things was feeling like I needed to buy EVERY single ingredient in the recipe as I didn't have it.

Once you have filled your pantry with the basics you will find less & less that you have to go out and buy missing things as you will already have them there!

The walk in pantry in my home is what made me fall in love with my house.  The original pantry from the 1920's.  i LOVE it!

What's not to love?
Complete with Marimekko aprons.
I really love cooking curries. 
If you read my article in Maeve magazine (accompanying my recipe for beef Rendang) it will make more sense.
This is one I made up the other day.
I had a hard day and needed some comfort food to end my day.  
Curry is probably my ultimate Comfort food.
There are literally hundreds of curries out there- it totally depends on how I feel as to what sort of curry I cook.
At first glance it may seem like a lot of work as the ingredient list is large but if you have these things in your cupboard there are actually VERY few steps to make a truly delicious meal.  This curry is like that- lots of ingredients at first glance but actually pretty easy!
A lot of people don't realise that there are a plethora of Indian curries out there that we don't know of beyond the Vindaloo & Butter chicken at your local.  
Do you love Curry as much as me?

  • 1 bunch fresh coriander (make sure you wash the bunch VERY well as you are using the entire thing ROOTS and all- the roots are packed with flavour)
  • 3 whole spring onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1-3 fresh red chillies
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • S & P

  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 2 tblspoons Rice bran oil (or other heat tolerant oil)
  • 1kg Chicken (I prefer ALWAYS to use chook with bones as you will get a superior flavour but any cut of your choice will do)

Blitz the spices in a spice grinder (or use pre-ground spices).

Add the bunch of coriander, garlic, ginger, spring onions, chillies, almond meal and spices. Blitz till a paste.

In a heavy pan add the oil and heat to medium.

Add the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes or until you see the oil begin to separate.

Add the chicken and stir well to coat with spice paste.

Add the tin of tomatoes.

Stir through, bring to a simmer and turn heat to low.

Let simmer for at least an hour to allow flavours to develop.
Add cream just a few minutes before serving (this can be omitted if you wish).

Serve with Fluffy rice & top with toasted almond flakes, fresh coriander & a little extra chilli.

I have posted a First Aid Kit song before...but look at this great Video someone has made! 
I LOVE it!
It makes me want to dance too!
YAY for dancing in the kitchen.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The one where Pip Lincolne guest posts & we celebrate my Blog birthday & do a GIVEAWAY!

Two years ago I hit publish for the very first time.
I had no idea what was ahead for this space.
Let's face it I had NO idea about blogging.
I had no idea that people would actually read it.
I certainly had no idea that people would keep coming back.

And that in just two years I would be recognised by being nominated in the Sydney Writers Best Australian Blogs two years running and this year in the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers!
I mean WOW!!!
I look back at my clunky posts from the beginning and see that I hadn't yet found my voice.
I hadn't worked out what I wanted to share or how I wanted to share it.
I had started this space as a request to a couple of friends who really wanted me to share my cooking expertise and suggested that a blog would be a great way to do so.

Over two years I have met some wonderful people IRL (blog speak for 'in real life' don'tcha know?!)
Some of those people have become VERY dear friends.
My guest blogger included.

This space has become such a great place for me to be.
I love coming here and reading your comments.
I love the interactions I have on Twitter with a bunch of my readers too.
On my Facebook page & also now on Instagram (you can look on the pooter now over here - my Instagram name is gourmetgirlfriend)

And OH MY....I have had people stopping me in the street, at the airport & in the supermarket to tell me how much they love my blog or how dinnertime with their kids has been transformed from a place of stress to a happy place or how much they like a dish they cooked.
What a great community of fab people.

And now some VERY exciting opportunities are popping up for me- all because of this space.

SO...... as a special thankyou I am holding my VERY first giveaway.
Hardie Grants books have kindly offered TWO yes TWO books to giveaway.
What a perfect way to celebrate my Blog's 2nd birthday!!!!

How lucky are you guys?!!
Well actually How Lucky AM I?!!!!!
You guys are the BESTEST!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me WHAT your favourite thing to cook is and WHY.
(PLEASE NOTE: Competition is only open to Australian residents & I need to be able email the winner!)

Thanks for everything & GOOD LUCK!

The Best Ever Birthday
Make Hey while the suns shines

Now over to my VERY SPECIAL GUEST:

Happy Birthday Gourmet Girlfriend!  I am so excited to be able to sneak a turn on your blog today!  Thanks for saving me a seat!

So, I thought we would talk about girlfriends, given that we are on the Gourmet Girlfriend blog!  How does that sound?

Do YOU have a girlfriend, GG readers? I have quite a LOT of girlfriends. I put it about in the girlfriend department, ya know? People marvel at my bounty.  It's not that I'm fickle or skanky or easy. 
I'm really none of those things. The reason I put out a lot in the girlfriend department is because there are so many great ladies out there!

I have a greedy approach to pals.  I know that some people prefer just to have a single bestie, and I do admire that.

But for me a bestie would mean creating a bit of an exclusive lady club with only ONE other lady… and I would never be able to choose between the ladies I like!  That would break my heart!

My lady friends are varied.

Some have been there since we were teenagers, some are friends met through my shop, books or blogging. Some are friends of friends who kindly shared their friend with me.  If that makes sense.  Some are people who have sought me out and made me their bud.  Some are people I've accidentally met and liked from the get go and kind of FORCED into friendship. Some are people I weren't sure about but fell in love with. That sounds like a some lot, doesn't it?  I guess it is.

Some of the some I see a lot. Others I see a teensy little. But all are linked by the heartfelt, heart-bursting feeling of admiration I feel for them, their turn of phrase, their cute faces, their skills, their humour, their all-round great girl ways.

The outstandingly good thing about having many friends

 in the lady department is that they are reliably reliable in their radness.  They can be trusted to be there on the other end of the phone, Facebook, email, couch, park bench. They can be relied upon to be interesting, smart,  kind, funny, delightful… or all of the above.  They are there to lend an ear, a cup of sugar, a swipe of lippy, a clog or two.  They are solid. Solid as a rock.

 Are your girlfriends like that?

Happy Birthday to one of my favourite girlfriends : Gourmet Girlfriend

xx Pip

Comments are now closed as we have a WINNER!!!!
The lucky winner was drawn via 

I am looking fair and square at you Veggie Mama!!!!!!
Thank you to everyone who came to visit!
I hope you keep coming back.

Monday, 23 April 2012

I knew it was going to be a good day.

Today I:

Woke up before the kids.

Got out of bed.

Made lunches.

Got a hug from the biggest before he rode to school.

Dropped the littler ones off.

Came home & turned this up LOUD.

Mr 3 had a sleep.
 I did some washing.

Read a few pages of a book.

My mate made it to Top 5.

Bought some tickets to a band for me Hubby & the biggest 2.

Prepared tonight's dinner.

I knew it was going to be a good day.

This morning I decided to cook up a batch of meatballs.
Do you love meatballs?
I do.
They are super easy to make.  Everyone makes them differently.
I am of the school that fills the meatballs and the sauce with lots of flavour.
I'm not a fan of meatballs that are just meat.
I also fry the meatballs before adding the liquid.
Did you know if your hands are wet it is much easier to roll the meatballs?
My usual rule applies here- using excellent quality organic produce will yield excellent flavour. Buy the best quality ingredients you can afford.
This is a GREAT dish for young children to cook or at least help you!
This meal will be the perfect way to end  a great day.

  • 1kg organic beef mince
  • 2 onions
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 organic egg
  • 3 thick slices of old sourdough bread (to make 1 cup breadcrumbs)
  • fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves of garlic (you can use less if you like- I LOVE it)
  • 2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
  • 3 tins of Organic tomatoes
  • olive oil
Place 1/2 bunch Parsley & 2 garlic cloves in a food processor and blitz till fine.
Slice crusts off bread and cut into large chunks.
Add to food processor and blitz till you have a fine crumb.

In a large bowl add mince, breadcrumbs, egg, parmesan cheese and a generous pinch of black pepper & salt.

Mix through VERY well.

Chop remaining garlic finely & chop onion into dice.

Heat some olive oil in a large pot to a medium heat and add onion & garlic.  Fry till translucent and fragrant- about 4 minutes.

While the onion & garlic are frying you can start rolling your meatballs.

Wet your hands under the tap and take a small amount of mince and roll.
Try to make the balls even in size- this means the cooking time will be the same.

As you roll them pop them into the pot with the onions & garlic to fry off.

Once all balls are in and browned off add the tomato paste.
Stir through and then add the cans of tomato, the remaining chopped parsley, basil & bay leaves.

Stir until simmering, lower temperature to lowest possible and cook for a couple of hours to let the flavours really develop.

Serve with pasta, or my Ricotta Gnocchi (recipe here) or even just with some lovely bread and a salad. 
Comfort food.

Here are the guys we are going to see later in the year with my big lads- the Punch Brothers. They are from NY.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

What do you think he will be when he grows up?

Our family just returned from an amazing break.

Some spent in Sth Gippsland and some of it in Tasmania.

Our annual Tomato Sauce making adventure with our friends.

As usual it was gorgeous.

It was a quick trip this time.

Just a few days.

But we came home feeling as if our two combined holidays were a family favourite.

There wasn't a bad bit.

All of the one and a half weeks were fantastic.

We had amazing weather & some time just as a family & then some days spent with some of our very favourite people.

Over the holidays I got to observe my kids in a way I don't get the time to do when we are home.

I'm busy.

Sometimes too busy to stop and see what is right before me.

On holidays I got to really watch them interact with adults, with younger children and with each other.

I love that about holidays.

I get asked fairly often from people "What do you think will he 'be' when he grows up?"

I was thinking about this question over our break as I watched my children.

Thinking about what a nonsense that question is.

It never fails to leave me feeling cross.

As if the person asking the question is missing the point all together.

Why would I want to be looking beyond what is right before me?

Why do we feel the need to project the interests and qualities of our children into a profession?

Why can't we place value on the characteristics of what makes up that person instead?

Why isn't being a good human enough?

What I observed in my children over the holidays was compassion, integrity, joy, creativity, love, a sense of fun, intelligence, musical ability, environmental awareness, patience, endeavour.

Alongside were also frustration, stubbornness, outbursts of anger & sadness- all the things you would expect both in children and in adults.

But it was watching my children interact with other adults and their children that was what made me feel so so proud.

Chatting confidently, making jokes, playing music, reaffirming friendships, sharing.

Watching the bigger of our kids tending to the littler children filled my heart.

Watching them WANT look after them, play with them, tend to them when they were hurt.

It made my heart explode with pride & love.

I may have shed a silent tear.

SO ....when someone next asks me "What do you think he will be when he grows up?"

My response will be the same for each of them:  "My hope is that he will be the same amazing human being he is now".

As the weather cools so does our desire for comfort food.
My kids LOVE this recipe.
So do I.
My hope is that you will NEVER buy the take away version of this again- for so many reasons.....
You can deep fry this but I oven bake on a rack and get GREAT results!
The slaw is a lovely accompaniment but so would be some gorgeous mash.
Mmmmmm comfort food!


  • 1kg Organic chicken thighs
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp ground sumac
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3 green apples, shredded
  • 5 raddichio leaves, sliced very fine
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • S & P
Preheat oven to 180C.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients & spices.

Pat each chicken thigh DRY.

Place buttermilk & garlic into a bowl.

Dip each thigh into the buttermilk first and then the spiced flour & panko.

Place onto a roasting tray with a wire tray (this is important as it allows the fat form the chicken to surround the pieces and stay crispy).

Once all pieces are done place into oven for half an hour.

Remove from oven and turn pieces over.

Return to oven and cook for further 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking you can make the Slaw by combining the liquid ingredients and S & P.

Combine the apple & raddichio and then add the Capers.

Mix dressing through.

Serve chicken with a quarter of lime.

NB: you may wish to pan fry in a little oil first to get the rich brown and then transfer to oven to finish off cooking and add crunch, although it is not necessary.

I love this track so very seems perfectly matched to the ideas of this post. Listen carefully to the lyrics.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Cows, Croissants & Family holidays.

We have been enjoying a family holiday together.

Some time away from home spent in one of our very favourite places.

South Gippsland in Victoria is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Verdant green everywhere as far as the eye can see.

Paddocks and paddocks of gorgeous Freesian cows feasting on that lush lush grass to make us the milk we drink.

Beef cows are farmed here too.

This time we are taking home our very own cow as a momento of this fabulous family trip.

Isn't he ace!
 Ferdinand the Bull

There is so much goodness all around this area.

The sea, the wild wild sea.

And the blustery winds that come with being near the edge of the world.

Just so much natural beauty.

Everytime we come down here I am besotted.

Taken back to my happy place.

Looking to great expanse every which way.

Ocean and beauty everywhere.

Dreaming of how we could make a life here......

Where we stay there isn't a shop.

I know that a lot of people don't like that.

Don't like not having the convenience.

Don't like having to drive half an hour to the nearest supermarket.

I love that- I love that you have to make do.

I love that you have to invent things out of what you packed.

I like that idea on holidays anyway- the idea that as the day begins you aren't really sure where it will go, what you will make of it.  Living spontaneously.

Before we left Melbourne we were lucky enough to be given some glorious Croissants from Alison's Handmade bread in Prahran.

Yesterday we bumped into some family friends in a local town.  We had gone there to do a bike ride on a rail trail.

After a chat and a play in the park a dinner date was made.

I came home and was a little worried that I didn't have enough food to cater for 4 adults and EIGHT hungry boys.

But I couldn't just pop down the shop- I had to make do with what I had!

I got the croissants out and made up a recipe for dessert using the croissants from Alison, some gorgeous Daylesford Organics eggs and some of the chocolate that was left over form the Easter eggs.

My idea was to make a Bread & Butter pudding that was kind of inspired by Pain au Chocolat.  There was a lot of chocolate around. It was Easter Sunday!

It was an experiment and I wasn't really sure how it would turn out (especially the custard part as I didn't have a recipe so I had to make it up!) but it was SO very good!

It isn't very often I have leftover Croissants in my house!  My kids devour them.
BUT....if you ever have leftovers this is a fab thing to make.
Of course you could substitute the Croissants for bread or brioche or Panettone.
It is a great way to use leftovers.  And as Croissants are LOADED with butter there is no need to add extra butter to the recipe.

  • 4 croissants
  • 100g chocolate
  • 5 eggs
  • 500g milk
  • 150g sugar
  • a little butter (for lining the baking tray)
  • 3 tblspoons Cherry jam (that was what I had in the cupboard- i would often use a marmalade- but you can choose)
Heat the oven to 180C.

Butter a rectangular baking dish.
Tear the Croissants apart (if using bread slice into 3cm slices & butter them) and place them into the baking dish.  Break the chocolate into pieces and scatter through the croissants.

Crack the eggs and a whisk together with sugar in a large bowl.

In a pan add milk and bring almost to the boil.

Remove from the heat and add half to the eggs and sugar whisking all the time.

Add mix back into the saucepan.

Bring back to a near boil- whisk all the time.

Pour this mix over the croisants and let it set for half an hour.  This ensures it is light and fluffy.

Lightly cover with alfoil.

Now pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and take off the alfoil. 

The custard will be set. 

Heat Jam in a small container in the microwave.

Use a brush to brush the top of the pudding with the Jam.

Place back in the oven for a further 15minutes.

Remove and serve with ice-cream or cream.

(PS. It was EVEN a hit with the non-dessert eaters in the house!)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Riding the Tsunami

At the moment we are surfing the big waves.

Hawaii style ones that break way out the back- deep deep in the ocean.

There's no chance of your toes touching the bottom.

It's either swim hard or be taken under.

Tsunami style waves that pick you up, swallow you whole and turf you around like kelp.

And then spit you to shore bedraggled, limp & exhausted.

Waves that feel so enormous.  So enormous that when you look at them you try to prepare but don't really know how.

And then just as you have surfed one another follows.....and another.

And then night descends and the sea calms.

Until the next following day......when the waves begin again.

Our 5th child is 3.

My last experience with 3 was NOT my favourite.  The ones before that I can't remember (convenient perhaps!).

Here is a list of some of the highlights....ok maybe lowlights of the 3yo's week :

  1. Ran out of the school gates straight onto the road followed soon after by a clog wearing mad lady who had suddenly aged 25 years.
  2. Weed on a friend's super doop posh lounge suite.
  3. Bit his brother no less than four times in one week.
  4. Screamed and kicked me as I sent him to bed on more than one occasion.
  5. Took off his shoes and threw them at a fellow customer at a restaurant (not someone we knew- and clearly he didn't want to know us after that episode!)
The list could go on & on but I choose to forget most of it because I would go bonkers.

What I do know about this is this:
  1. It will pass.
  2. It is far better to laugh about it or I would go singularly insane.
  3. It never ceases to amaze me how a child of 3 years of age wields more power than two of his parents put together and can very nearly make them both come unstuck.
  4. The grog cupboard should remain fully stocked for the next year when history tells me a calm suddenly arrives when he turns 4.
  5. Sleep is a huge part of it all-mostly a lack of it.
  6. That as a parent I make it up as I go along 
  7. I know no more about parenting a 3yo than anyone else even though this is my fifth run at it.
  8. I ain't trying again to see if I get it right next time.
  9. Running in clogs is really pretty hard and not advised.
  10. Wine o'clock seems to come around a lot earlier most days when you have a child aged 3.
  11. Despite all of this I love him beyond words & so does his Papa and his brothers. Nature is an awesome thing.
Check out the super doop grumpy face of the 3yo. I took this pic just minutes after the shoe throwing episode. LOVE.

I have mentioned my love for eggplant before.
It is one of my fave vegies.
A lot of people have said to me they aren't sure how to cook it.
Steaming it is probably not one of the ways most people are familiar with but it gives it a lovely slippery consistency and removes the oiliness of frying it.
This recipe can be served warm and is also lovely at room temperature.
It is be delicious on it 's own or alongside pan fried fish.

  • 2 large eggplant, sliced and then cut into 1cm ribbons
  • 2 1/2 tblspoons sugar
  • 1 tblspoon soy
  • 1 tblspoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 4 spring onion, chopped fine
  • 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3 teaspoons black sesame seeds (or substitute with toasted ones)
After slicing the eggplant into ribbons place them into a steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes.
Place into a bowl and cover with cling wrap.

Meanwhile in a small bowl add all the liquid ingredients and heat in a small saucepan (I did this in a microwave).

Remove the eggplant from the bowl and place into a large serving bowl.

Add liquid ingredients, spring onion & fresh coriander and stir through.

Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve.

I think I will NEVER tire of playing this song VERY VERY loud. And loud music may or may not have been helping me survive over the last few weeks: