31 January 2013

Nectarine & Mango Salsa

I have not eaten anywhere near enough stone fruit this season so am stocking up while I still have the chance. My favourite are white nectarines which seem to only come as rock hard or 'eat me now or tomorrow I will be brown'. So as well as 'au naturale', I have been brûléeing like mad to top Pavlova, yoghurt and ice cream; and now with a warm day I am breaking out the salsa. Sweet and chilli hot salsa goes beautifully with all summer foods - as a nibble with poppadums for a gathering, alongside a piece of grilled fish or with that addictive warm salty squeaky cheese haloumi.

29 January 2013

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Oh Melbourne, while I do love your idiosyncratic weather, sometimes... let's just say the Australia Day public holiday... I wish you were a little more consistent. After all it is summer, and summer in the 'sunburnt country', so one might reasonably expect sunshine, warmth and a lazy day around a BBQ wearing a hat and heaven forbid, shorts! Instead I ventured out for my morning coffee (to wash down a vitamin D) in long sleeves...
Today's current lack of sunshine aside, the long days and fresh ripe produce make "cooking" easy, for me summer food is all about colour, flavour and sharing. Salsa in its innumerable forms can make a great accompaniment for BBQ'd meats and fish, or on top of quick quesadillas toasted on the grill. Above all else it is a healthy, easy to assemble, flavour packed grazing food that can fill the gap between lunch and twilight on those summer days that feel dreamy and endless.

25 January 2013

Brown Sugar & Spice Pavlova with Brûléed Nectarines

Modern Australia is made up of so many cultures and traditions, from the original inhabitants of the land  through to the newest of migrants. For me, Australia Day is about celebrating this diverse multicultural range and what better way than through food. I am a first generation Australian and thinking about my own heritage I have come up with my Australia Day Pavlova to represent me - Brown Sugar & Spice Pavlova... with brûléed nectarines just because they are amazing.
Using brown sugar is a nod to my American mum who taught me the wonders of candy making (and love of cooking in general), this pavlova tastes like a wonderful light version of American brown sugar fudge "penuche". From my Dutch father I have incorporated those aromatic Trade Route Spices which I (and the Dutch) can't get enough of - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cardamom. The Pavlova bakes to a sun kissed creamy brown with flecks of spice throughout and the combination of flavour and texture is heavenly.  

23 January 2013

Decadent Chocolate & Cherry Pavlova

All I can say is cream and fruit can cover a myriad of structural problems so even when a Pavlova is a "failure" it is a success… and this tasted phenomenal.
This Pavlova started with all the hallmarks of a successful show-stopping dessert. Cherries are in cheap, ripe abundance at the moment so I wanted to use Nigella’s chocolate Pavlova as a platform for fresh cherries by incorporating the flavours of that Aussie classic chocolate bar the Cherry Ripe (dark chocolate, moist coconut and glacé cherries) into the meringue before cooking. The idea being that with the shell made the night before, I would be destined for an effortless end of meal flourish with a dab of cream and scattering of glossy cherries. Unfortunately my kitchen appliances had other ideas…

21 January 2013

Classic Pavlova: for Australia Day

Happy New Year and Happy Australia Day week! While the end of January seems a little late in the year to be giving New Years' wishes, I have been a little lax in getting back into the swing of things since Christmas. So with the first week back at work under my belt and now my first blog for the year I will race past Christmas and towards that merciful public holiday for those back at work with the year stretching out in front of them - Australia Day. Christmas was the ideal antidote to a busy year with a long relaxing break in WA with family reading, camping, snorkelling, fishing and of course eating - glazed ham, black brim from river to BBQ in a matter of minutes, caramel flan with a hint of orange, iced cherries, zesty quinoa salad, turkey quesadillas with exceptionally hot jalapenos, chicken curry with eggplant from the garden, Dad's corn chowder (it's not camping without it)... the list of good, restorative, tasty food goes on.

I ummed and ahhed over Australia Day fare, with vegemite and lamingtons being the forerunners, or some canny composition of the two (the idea of which was met with concerned amusement by my husband, turning to horror when he realised I was not joking). I have not entirely shelved the idea but without time to experiment I am going for that "Aussie" favourite that is so perfect for summer get togethers while every berry and stone fruit imaginable is ripe and ready, the Pavlova.