First anniversary – a retrospective on our home cooking!

Chocolate tart!

Getting ready for a dinner party – chocolate tart in foreground!

I have never indulged myself and downloaded a few photos of some of the meals we cook at home. So to celebrate my blogging anniversary I thought I’d look through some photos from the last year that came out of our kitchen.

Dinner is an important ritual wherever we are. For home, usually we buy enough for at least three dinners and then play it by ear during the week. Toscano’s is the epicentre of our grocery shopping. Not only does it have a terrific variety of fruit and veg, but it has great quality essentials from parmigiano reggiano to free range eggs to Istra bacon. Nearby there are high quality butchers, fish mongers and bakeries. For weekend emergencies it is loaves from Friends of Mine and when more organised it is Tivoli.

My signature - mushroom risotto

My signature – mushroom risotto

Our kitchen is tiny, making organisation, and in particular, cleaning as we go, essential. During the week it is normally about staples, or at least recipes that we’ve done enough that we don’t need a book. When the opportunity presents, taking a recipe from one of our books, or Australian Gourmet Traveller is much more interesting.

Calamari and salad

Calamari and salad

We cook lots of relatively boring dishes, but always with a bit of love. I worked as a kitchen-hand for almost five years going through uni and my curiosity for how dishes are put together ensured that I learned more than how to peel potatoes! In fact, in the mid 90s I worked at a place that was a break-out cafe, and the care shown with ingredients, and preparation of dishes from scratch, that epitomised that cafe, is now a theme in restaurants rather than the exception.

Carbonara with leftover Christmas ham

Carbonara with leftover Christmas ham

My signature dish, which my friends joke about, but took me many tries to get close to perfect, is my mushroom risotto. A lover of all things Italian, Catherine (incidentally half Italian) and I have worked hard to make pasta that is good quality. We’ve got there, but it is the kind of thing that you need to do regularly. On the other hand, with pizza dough, we are still learning. Not that we don’t love making pizza from scratch.
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Steak / fish / chicken, mash and veg is definitely a staple. Again, for many years I’ve worked on making a mash that is relatively healthy (no cream except for special occasions, and parmigiano on occasion too) but still delicious. The secret is pushing the potatoes through a sieve which allows the butter (essential!), sea salt, cracked black pepper, and milk, to work its way through evenly. If you have properly cooked protein, beautiful mash, and crisp, just cooked vegetables that are bursting with colour, that is a good result in my book.

Catherine's nicoise salad

Catherine’s nicoise salad

For balance there is nothing wrong with frying up some calamari one night, and enjoying a healthier nicoise salad the next. To change it up we’ll have lamb and cous cous (throwing saltanas, roasted butternut pumpkin and zucchini through, along with some lightly roasted pine nuts). Equally, breakfast is boring weetbix during the week or some toast, but if we are not going out to breakfast on the weekend it is left over Istra bacon and fried or scrambled eggs on Tivoli bread, or simple blueberry pancakes with maple syrup.

Blueberry pancakes

Blueberry pancakes

Lamb backstrap with cous cous

Lamb backstrap with cous cous

It’s been one year. I’m staggered that I’ve written over 115 posts, and I’m privileged to have people who read, and appear to enjoy this blog. This is my opportunity to give you some insight into how much I love eating, thinking about, reading about, and cooking food. Thanks.

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