Friday, 15 August 2014

The Family Table: Part 11. STEPHANIE ALEXANDER

A couple of years ago when I first started writing this blog I thought about what it was that I wanted to share.

It started as a way of me sharing my food knowledge and my passion for preparing real food for our families.

More importantly though I like to think that I give people the confidence to appreciate that the magic that is the Family dining experience is NOT just about the food.

While the food is what draws us to the table it should be considered but ONE of many things that are shared and indeed NOT the most important one.

LOVE to me should always be the single most important ingredient that is shared at our family table. Without LOVE the food and the entire dining experience is just another meal. But with it our souls as well as our tummies are nourished.

It is with this in mind that on Fridays I will be sharing with you my new series- The Family Table- where super special guests share their family dining experiences with us. It is a way of appreciating that there are infinite ways of dining together.
My wish is that every single one of my readers makes The Family Table part of their own family life.

This week I am INCREDIBLY excited to share with you a cook I have long admired.
You probably have too!
She was a pioneer for real food before it became a 'thing' and finds herself in almost every Australian kitchen (including mine) with the book that I think is arguably THE most practically useful cookbook ever published - 'The Cooks Companion', which she recently transferred into a digital app form (you can read about the app here).

It's none other than STEPHANIE ALEXANDER!

Continuing her online presence, this week Stephanie launched her latest project, her new website,
It is exciting for me to see Stephanie making this transition from paper books to reach a whole new group of cooks via her online publications.
For me - the more people we can encourage to cook real food from scratch is a thing worth celebrating.
Her work with children in her Kitchen Garden Foundation is something that each and every Australian should be pleased to have in place. Thousands of children are gaining an understanding of where food comes from and learning the skills necessary to be able to transform garden produce into nutritious & delicious meals in Primary Schools around Australia. This kind of groundbreaking work gives access to skills that can possibly transform the health and wellbeing of our future generation. I am so thankful for her efforts in this area. 

Stephanie and I follow each other on Instagram where I love to see a little glimpse into her kitchen and travel adventures.
You can follow her too by clicking over here.  

I thank Stephanie so very much for being a guest in my series of The Family Table.

1.) Can you please share a little about how your family shares food? 
These days my girls lead independent lives but we regularly meet up for family dinners. Always sit down with properly-set table (water, bread, wine, butter, olive oil,  salt/pepper) and cloth napkins – never paper (hang the washing and ironing). Most often at my place. I plan a meal that means I sit and talk and listen, not fuss in kitchen. Slow-cooked casserole, pie, baked fish, salad washed and dried rolled in a towel at the ready, often a vegetable gratin or else quickly blanched greens of some sort. Priority is talk and exchange of news, and a good time. 

2.) Do you have hard & fast eating rules?
I permit a good stack of the dishwasher but no washing-up done by others. Assistance with dishing-up when necessary but prefer dishes to centre of table. Always a moment to admire, respect and comment on the dish before tucking in.

3.) Can you share with us where your cooking influences/inspiration are from?
The Mediterranean most often, especially France and Italy. Have travelled in these regions a lot. Been to a lot of markets. Love olive oil but also love butter. Love vegetables and salad and good sourdough, less keen on munching through too many grains.

4.) Do you have a favourite cuisine?
As above. Provence, Puglia, simply cooked seafood and shellfish either as done on Atlantic coast in france, or in Andalucia in Spain, or anywhere really where seafood is fresh. I love Asian dishes when others cook them for me. Don't cook them myself.

5.) Can you recall a super special meal or eating experience that has stayed with you forever?
So many. Warm nights, bare legs, roasted lobster and herb butter. 

A freezing night recently at Rosetta in melbourne and a stunning entrĂ©e of grilled seafood that included calamari, octopus and scampi. 

6.) Would you please share the recipe of your favourite family meal with us?
Can you beat a perfectly cooked lemon delicious pudding? Looks spectacular, is so easy to cook and quietly cooks itself whilst you are enjoying the earlier part of the meal. 

Readers can find the recipe on my new website here: 

7.) What music would be playing? 
No music at dinner – just conversation!


  1. This is just perfect Ruth! Love it! xx

  2. I love Stephanie Alexander - recently really enjoyed her memoir 'A Cooks Table'. Great interview Ruth.x

  3. You are both legends!

  4. I am so honoured to have Stephanie as a guest in this series alongside lots of other cooks I admire- like your lovely self. xxx

  5. I don't come close but thank you. x

  6. You are both awesome Ruth ,Stephanie is a no nonsense cook and I like that,thank you Xx

  7. This is great! So happy to the family table back too.

    This is my favourite line "Always a moment to admire, respect and comment on the dish before tucking in." I do this often & will often call family into the kitchen to admire something before dishing it up. It made me smile to read it from Stephanie :)

  8. I especially love the comments about what is most important for enjoyment at the table. Extraordinary that Stephanie, so rightly revered in the culinary world, espouses such simple dictums for happy family mealtimes. Just lovely! And bravo Ruth. Xxx

  9. Fantastic interview Ruth. Stephanie is a legend indeed xx

  10. Awesome. AWESOME! I love the obvious care and respect that Stephanie has towards food and always have. x


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