Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

It's that time of year again - how on earth did that happen?  It feels as if we just sat down to a table laden with food and surrounded by fab friends down in paradise this time last year.

I know I'm not the only one who feels as if the year has zipped past in a blur - it has been so crazily busy - I can hardly begin to work out just where all the time has gone. The blur definitely explains why I have been pretty ho-hum about posting regularly.  I just haven't had time in the past few months to sit down let alone write.

I'm looking forward to some relaxed weeks ahead down here in paradise again before we crank things up and get stuck right into 2013.

There are lots of changes coming up.  Moo starts a new school which will be a huge change - but a good one - he's ready for it. (Not sure if I am - it seems as if it was not so long ago he was that little bitty 4 yr old starting prep!).

And we have a new pooch added to the mix as of this week after a relentless pleading campaign from Moo for pretty much the past year about getting a puppy.

Meet Sooki (as in Suki)  - the most adorable little puppy ever.  Still very much in the super dman cute stage - and she does cute extremely well, let me tell you.  Not sure what it'll be like when she hits the 'naughty into everything stage' - I'm taking it one day at a time while giving Woo lots of love. As to be expected he's showing a healthy dis-interest in her after his sojourn as top dog around here.  We've managed to snap the odd pic of them together where it seems a happy marriage - let's hope we get to snap a whole lot more as he warms up to the idea of being a big brother!!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sssssh - I'm hibernating

Ok, it's been pretty quiet around here lately - I know.  Since getting back from holiday (it was lovely thanks - we had a great time away) I have been head down buried in work and it has not let up one minute.

We finally signed off on a huge project that was eating up most of my time this week and I am shaking from sheer exhaustion. Literally.  

So, no surprises here, the plan for this weekend is pretty much spending as much time as possible lazying about.  Catching up on some sleep to start with.

Then maybe a bit of gentle swaying while reading something that doesn't involve work, of any sort, at all.  Nada.

I'll then wander on over to join Moo on the couch for a movie - he is laid up with another twisted ankle, poor love, so the couch is his friend, as is a packet of icy peas and some TLC from Nurse Budge.  Woo has had to move off from his favourite spot and is trying to be gracious about it but I can tell that pooch is none too happy and is trying to work out how to re-claim his territory.

Good luck old boy.

And this afternoon, if the mood takes me, I might just wander back upstairs to climb right on back into bed.  I am a big fan of the Nana Nap (siesta if you feel a tad European).  There is nothing better than curling up with a book and cuppa then having a good old snooze. Perfect (and probably compulsory) for a strung out insomniac such as myself!

zzzzzzz   xx

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bali bliss

Relaxing by the pool, looking out at this view each day was hard. (No-one ever said!).

Talk about the most chillaxing place to just be in and for stress and worry to melt away.

Our hotel was amazing - the chef came out to see us each morning at breakfast to ask what gf food we'd like to try that day.  He had three types of gf pancakes for Monts to try on our first morning as he wanted to perfect them!  Monts was in heaven and so were we as it makes the world of difference when people make a fuss over a child with allergies - it made it so easy to eat without any worry and Monts got to feast on treats that many places don't make gf.

Luckily there were two other families staying nearby who we knew from Sydney and Monty's school so we all had pals to hang with during the day and over dinner at night.  We ate at some amazing places throughout the area we all stayed in with them all - you are definitely spoilt for foodie choice in Bali.

We hired a driver and headed up to Ubud for a day.  It's such a contrasting landscape up there - the rice paddy fields are breathtakingly beautiful.

Monts got his elephant ride and we had monkeys climb all over us - hysterical!  

All up - what a great holiday - we had a ball and came back super relaxed.

Meanwhile Woody was pampered beyond and back - a huge thanks to Kelly, who adores him and probably spoilt him rotten, day in, day out.  

She soon found out he is a creature of habit - he heads to bed when I do - and as i rise so early - I am not a night owl.  She is the complete opposite to me so had the death stare and glare from him several times when he thought it was time to nod off.  

Apparently he would potter off to his bed then come back out and give her the full glare!  Too funny - he is his own hound that's for sure!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Airport bound

Two of my favourite words - I love heading out to the airport - it generally means you're off some-where exciting - unless it's for work and that can be a whole different story.

Not this time thankfully. Just two more sleeps and this is where we'll be - Balmy Bali.  I cannot wait - we are so overdue for a decent break and the past few weeks/months really have been mad. 

Bali is the perfect place to just laze about and do nothing or something - whatever you like.  Moo plans on some surfing action and more than one visit to the water park. I plan on some yoga action, lying on the sun lounger action, every now and then turning the page of my book while considering whether it is cocktail hour.  And it's a jolly good thing I operate in different time zones -  NZ and Australian as it pretty much means it's cocktail hour whenever I want!  (Goodbye detox, hello life!!!).

(I suspect B will follow my lazy lead and do very little except put his feet up as well!).

Meanwhile, Woody is having a mini break with his Aunty Kelly - and has been to the groomer to look his best while at his sleep over.  He'll be spoilt rotten and probably resist returning to us, on our return.  I bet he'll be up on her couch before she even shuts the door - he does like the pampered life he receives over in Double Bay!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Crostini with goats curd and black olive tapenade

I've just come back from a divine baby shower for our friends Emma and (Boy) Jos who are set to have a little boy in two month's time (can't wait - love newborns to bits!).

Anyhow, as part of my food offering I decided to whip up some gf crostini with goats cheese and homemade black olive tapenade - as you do on a gorgeous spring morning.  

This is the easiest nibblie to whip up and fresh tapenade is hand on heart, best ever. You'll never buy store-bought no matter how good it is after making your own.  True.  Full stop.  No arguing here thanks.

So this one is a doodle and man - when sitting in the jar before plating up - you have to walk away and not get the spoon out to test, every so often.  It's a good thing B isn't a fan of anything olive related, so it was a safe bet while resting in the fridge this am.

Onto the nuts and bolts.

All you need is some pitted black olives, garlic, juice of half a lemon, about 2-3 tablespoons of the best quality oliver oil you can get your mitts on, a scattering of capers and about a tablespoon of fresh thyme.

Fling them all into a whizzer and give it a blast. Whizz until it looks like a paste but not mush and you are done. Taste for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if you like and more olive oil if you like it on the moister side.

Pop into a jar and keep it in the fridge until you're ready. (It'll stay true to form for up to two weeks here.)

When ready to plate up - be prepared - it's pure rocket science to the core. Place a dollop of goats curd on your crostini and spread it out, drop in a spoonful of tapenade and drizzle in some thyme.

Perfecto.  You'll need to sample a few along the way to check for flavour, zing and general joie de vivre.  (It'd be rude not to.)

Easy as but ohhhhh so yummy. These could well be my new favourite breakfast alternative. 

(OK - weird perhaps for some but I'm not into anything sweet especially in the morning - so the more savoury anytime of day works for me!)  These work!  Enjoy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baby frittatas

Lordie it's been an age since I posted. The time has flown and I feel as if I have been living in a fog. Suffice to say it has been mad here - with lots on for all of us. I have worked harder than I ever had juggling some big writing projects so have been rather attached to the laptop.  Poor Woo is totally over it - he has been left to his own devices a lot lately - and is not too smitten with the lack of 24/7 attention! (We even forgot his birthday poor dog - not that he probably noticed!) 

Thankfully I'm tailing off a bit and have a bit of a lull before another big project starts up. So, despite the focus on food with the cookbook I'm working on, I have managed to re-acquaint myself with the kitchen to whip up some delights. 

Moo and I are rather partial to these baby frittatas - we both love them for lunch and they are so simple and easy to make - a few minutes preparation and then straight into the oven to do their thing and transform into the most delectable treat.

For each one you'll need...

Sprinkle of bacon, proscuitto, or smoked salmon diced (optional)
Sprinkle of red onion, finely chopped
Handful baby spinach
Sprinkle of goats cheese or feta, crumbled
Some veggies – tomatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, red capsicum, finely diced
1 egg per frittata
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 180°c.

Generously spray a nonstick 12 hole muffin tin (I use a large Texas size one) with cooking spray.

Saute the meat if you’re using it with the onion to soften them both then add the spinach and let it wilt a little.

Divide this mixture evenly amongst the tins.

Crack an egg into each then sprinkle in some veggies evenly until the pans are almost full.  Season with salt and pepper.  Give the mix a stir to break up the eggs and distribute the filling in each. Sprinkle some cheese on top of each one.

Bake for around 15 minutes – keep an eye on them and when the tops have puffed and are golden they are done. You can finish them under the grill if you like them toasty.

Once out of the oven let them cool for a bit then use a knife to ease around the edges to pop them out of the tin. Make sure you soak the tin right after cooking as the egg likes to cling to the side if you haven’t used enough spray – and that’s not fun.

Eat hot or at room temperature or cold – they’re good any which way.

You can add whatever filling takes your fancy and if you'e in the mood you can go wild and slosh in some peri-peri sauce or chilli - whatever you like.  

Each time they're different - which makes them perfect for breakfast, lunch or even an easy dinner - we love them.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Veggie Lust

Moo, Woo and I have been in country paradise for a week now - while B has worked his heart (butt) out in the city and up north, and because we decided we could and would, we have had a week of eating almost zip meat in any shape or form.  (One transgression only for all the right reasons.)

I put together a little menu plan for the week (sooooooo not my style - usually I cook at whim - but I decided to be grown up about it so I could acquire all the yummy veggies we needed from lovely Jim at his Sutton Forest fruit and veggie market on Sunday - best produce around, ever!).

So, what have we eaten over a series of lunches and dinners pray tell?
  • Pumpkin, spinach and sage risotto - an all-time favourite here at the Palazzo
  • Spinach gnocchi with a puttanesca sauce - a new all-time favourite and that's a big statement
  • Creamy baked polenta with roast veggies atop (Moo not too keen on that caper, so not making it anywhere near the all-time list, let me tell you)
  • Poached eggs atop a feta, spinach and mushroom fritter - a la Raw and Wild in Bowral - drop dead goodness!
  • Rumpledumps (roast veggies, mashed and creamed, with caramelised onions and baked cabbage - soooooo good - we love comfort food)
  • Veggie bake (layers of finely sliced veggies, with red onion, tomatoes and sharp cheddar, baked, with a crispy corn crumble atop - kind of veggie lasagne w/o the pasta - yumbo scrumbo)
All up ... a very successful meat-free week apart from a little trip to Bundanoon to check out the new menu at the pub (important 'research' trip for when B is back down and a night visit to the Winterfest celebrations is in order over in the village).

I couldn't say no to the scallop risotto and M gave a nod to a steak sandwich w/o the bread so I guess us gf peeps call that a steak solo?   Very yummy and no sign of the resident ghost (kid you not  - they have photos up - she lives in Room 11 upstairs!).

B got back down last night so we plan on breaking out and having shanks tonight - we bought them from our favourite local butcher the other day.  The boys will be on slow cooking duty as I was in bed all of yesterday, feeling lousy and under par.

NOTHING to do with the lack of meat I might quickly add to curb the comments of carnivores reading this.

Just that normal lark of flu circling around at this time of the year and bad luck on my part.  Another quiet day today and all will be good - especially if the boys take over the mothership (kitchen).

Long live health and more veggies - I plan on whipping up a whole bunch more meat-free treats over the next couple of weeks while we are lazying by the fire late afternoon.  Might even experiment with the polenta (huge shriek of nooooooooo from Moo echoes through the house!).

(Ohh and in case you are wondering Woo ate his usual dry food fiasco - no point upsetting the apple cart for the pooch - he is a creature of habit, tried and tested.  No idea what B feasted on - but he'll be sad he missed the polenta ... not ... at all!!!!)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yoga lust

Ahhhhhh - finally it's that magic time I love most - school holidays!  Phew - it has been a huge term, yet again, and we are all had it - even Woody (god knows why - he sleeps his life away - but he is feigning exhaustion drama dog that he is).

Moo and I plan on doing a whole lot of this caper in the holidays down in paradise.  Thanks to my divine friend/almost sister Mary I've found the perfect yoga studio and have been doing a whole bunch of kundalini and naam yoga in the past few weeks.

I am hooked - it is the best yoga I have done in a long time.  It's challenging - some of the poses really push you to the limit (no I didn't cry but that was a little tear of exhaustion last Wed!).  Ther's nothing namby pamby about these two disciplines - they take you to the brink and make you really work your heart, butt and all other bits out.

I love it so much (big news) I am holding off zooming down to paradise this am as I want to go to an 11am class before I head off for three weeks. 

Now that's true namaste passion! 

Not only do I love everything about this new studio (they even have herbal tea brewing after each class - this place has my name on it!) BUT ...

... drumroll please ...  

I have slept like a baby in the past week.  

Shut the front door!  

Considering what a nightmare pathological insomniac I am (it's been going on for years) that sentence is a miracle!   I am walking on clouds, literally, this sleep business is bliss.

So, yes, I am signing up and chanting my little heart away while doing some of the hardest yoga ever - whatever it takes to feel amazing and ZZZZZZZZZZZ!!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Woody wooooooos

Man the time has flown - it has been very busy here at the Palazzo Josamina and down at The Old Nursery.  No time for posting - too busy gardening, (work) writing, as well as editing and testing a whole bunch of recipes (I'm editing and proofing a cookbook which means I am constantly ravenous while oohing and ahhhing over some gems.)  The repertoire this weekend will be a treat - all inspired by the last couple of weeks of cravings.

Thank the lord the holidays are just around the corner - I sooooooo need some down time!

Woody of course doesn't have a problem with relaxing - he is the King of all things lazy and couch-related.   When he does venture out, his favourite thing to do is pull me up the back lane to visit Ashleigh - Sydney's divine hairdresser to the stars (i.e. Moo and I).  And wow does she do a jolly good job! MeMe is the place to be if you want the best coiffeur in town!

She is one divine gal - and has quickly become a fast family friend to all of us.  Woody is very smitten and loves to pop in, chew the fat and bask in the sun in her studio.   (Don't worry Kelly - he still has room in his heart for you!).

In fact - he is a bit of a toy boy that pooch of ours - loves the ladies and has made a point of wooing as many as he can during our daily walks up and down Oxford Street.  He so knows which ones have treats in their stores and makes a bee line for them - and some have started to stock treats knowing he'll come calling.  And he does!

I have had to mix up our route to make sure he doesn't chub out too much on daily treats!!

Best he gets a good run around this long weekend down country.   Can't wait - it's a long weekend and we have a houseful of lovely friends - the fire will be roaring and the kitchen humming - bring it on!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy weekend

This will be me in a nano second - the car is packed - Moo has been sent ahead to sport, Woo is ready to roll with his tennis ball by the door (way too cute for words) so we don't forget it and I am having a little quiet mandatory cup of tea before heading out to collect Moo and take off to Exeter!

Woohoo - I can't wait to get on the road.  It has been two weeks since we were there - we had a little upset/frigging disaster a couple of Saturdays ago involving B and a massive hole that was dug ready for a new fence post.

Needless to say the hole is fine and B is pretty busted up.

It's been a slow couple of weeks for him and pretty painful to boot.  I have been the good wife - but - 14 days into it I am ready to hang up the apron and enjoy a bit of verandah and hammock action and NO cooking at all tomorrow - thank god for Mother's Day!!!!!  (And be warned Moo - I consider cups of tea cooking so have that kettle boiling 24/7 - it's going to be a long day for you).

Our lovely friend Kelly is coming with us - and we plan on doing some sifting about the junk shops and getting the bikes out to explore the country side ... all the while knowing we'll be returning to a scrumptious home-cooked Sunday lunch that is being project managed by Chef Moo.

Can't wait to see what he comes up with - and the table setting will be spectacular - he likes to up-style any foodie event these days!

And even better - Kelly and I are wagging Monday - staying down for an extra day of sifting while the boys head back up to slog it out.

And even better still - if it is just too hard to leave we may have to stay till Tuesday - it'd be a shame to leave the autumn leaves and budding bulbs - so weird - spring flowers are out already.  The world is a crazy little place.

Happy weekend and a very special happy day on Sunday to mothers who should be getting a whole lot of extra mothering!!!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Foodie heaven [or hell] ... Chic treats

I can't for the life of me remember where I saw images like these recently - but I did - and I had deep recipe card lust/jealousy. (Apologies to the blogger who blogged about a similar set of cards - once I get my nose out of this box I'll take a gentle scroll through my history!).

I remember my mother's collection of these cards - and her old Edmonds' cook book too - a NZ staple that had full page spreads of the most divine birthday parties, dinner parties and the like.  My brothers and I would pour over these spreads choosing what we'd want at our special parties - jello in orange halves a def tick!

I was in a local junk shop yesterday and these little guys screamed out to me - big time - I couldn't pass them up and have been pouring over the cards ever since.  

Now, what to make?

The salad section looks perfectly inoffensive - and we'll be having a good looksie over these cards to see if we can add in some ideas to our 'pack in the good stuff and eat more salad and vege' challenge.  (Best dish so far - 10 veges - going to be hard to top it - but we are determined).  Back to the cards...

Not too sure if we'll do much with the cake section - absolutely nothing appeals here - but then again, I'm not that partial to cake.....show me something savoury and I'm your girl!  (But not deep fried, thanks, but no thanks).

Those snacks are hitting the retro dinner party button, big time - prawn cocktails here we come!  This could be fun!

The perfect section for down at The old Nursery - where cooking for a crowd is the norm.  Ohh yes, we could be very happy with these cards - they are beaming with promise.  And if it's a disaster ... hello Bundie pub, or the Sutto - dear friends.

And for those winter moments where it can get a bit dramatic in the country - this will be the perfect section to explore.  Teamed with a full bodied red and a bonfire in the background, it'll be high fives all around.

Shame for the guests that the dessert section looks truly dreadful - so bad I am not even uploading the pic.  I am not fussed anyway due to the disinterest in sweets.

Ok, ok stop whinging you sugar freaks  Here's one.  Just how tragic does this pav look - I can do sooooooo much better [yes, even though I am not into the sugar thing myself, I will whip up a modern day pav wonder when push comes to shove.


And when it comes to bad - it surely doesn't get any worse than this culinary beauty?  Lovely.  With or without boiled cabbage and pig's ears?  A crowd pleaser this one.  Who's coming for dinner tonight?!!!!

And never fear - I won't restrict this to the summer season - it can be on the menu 24/7 - just ask!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Garden (installation) lust

You know I have a thing about doilies - it's a true love/lust situation - don't ask me to explain.

Well - let me tell you, this lace-esque panel could very well replace/enhance my doily fetish.

Love. it, to infinity and beyond.

So so so need it nestled somewhere in our garden - and will work on meeting this challenge - that beauty is right up there with this one ...

Isn't she lovely?  Is it just me - or are these two sweet beauties a perfect marriage?

Yes, I thought so too.

Moo says my crochet/yarn/all things natural lust has spiralled out of control.

I say .. watch this space!

Where's my crochet hook - or, in this case - the welding unit?

Captain Security (B) will lose sleep over this new obsession!  He can cope with the small stuff but once a power tool is involved and I'm behind it - he gets twitchy!!!!  For all the right reasons.

Right - over to You Tube to show me the way .....!!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Foodie Heaven ... Portuguese Fish Stew

Ok, this image does not quite do this all-time fav recipe justice, but let me tell you - this fish stew is the chicken soup of the soul at Palazzo Josamina.  We adore it - Moo's absolute favourite of all times - and it brings together three great loves in this little palazzo.  Tomatoes, fish and risotto.   Sigh.

There are never leftovers - it is scraped out of the bowls and they have been known to be licked {by Moo people, not Woo ... we may be Kiwis but we do have standards despite what you Aussies think!}

I digress ... back to yet another dish that rocks our socks.

You'll need ...

600g fish fillets that take your fancy, skinned
4 tbsp olive oil
  • A bunch of prawns or whatever seafood you fancy - I often mix it up and throw in a mix - we are big fans of all things seafood (except shark) in this palazzo
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 2ish large tomatoes, chopped - (hard for me to stop at 2 - you decide - I am a tomatophile).
  • 1.2 litres hot vegetable or fish stock
  • 1.5 cups risotto rice (I boil it up separately and add it to the stew at the end otherwise it catches on the bottom of the pan - and goes a bit gluggy in my foodie opinion)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • a good handful or so of torn flat parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks. Heat half the olive oil and fry the fish and prawns until just-cooked. Remove and season well. Add the remaining oil and fry the onion, garlic, capsicum and chorizo for 10 minutes, stirring well.
Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Add the paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper, stirring well. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 20 mins. Add the fish and prawns and heat through for 5 mins.  Add the risotto rice that you've cooked, with much love, separately.

Scatter with parsley and serve in warm pasta bowls, with lemon wedges.

Dash right past 'go' and head straight to heaven!

{Pst - have you tried just boiling risotto rice when not wanting to venture down the whole stirring faffway?   It is rather yummy - and great for when you want a big hearted rice but don't want the nuttiness of brown.  We do this when going down the Japanese pathway - and add tamari and wot not with some miso to boot.  It's a crowd pleaser, especially when Moo and I are about!}

Friday, April 20, 2012

Autumn hues

Couldn't resist - such a divine day down here - balmy and still doing that end of The Golden Weather thing - but the end isn't really in sight - so we are happy!

Moo and his friends are out in the garden playing, Woo and I have been sifting about doing some jobs and this beauty has been spinning up in the trees back lit by the most glorious leaves - look at the colours.  {Thanks Soph for hanging this child mgmt threat (not really - but just in case!)}.

We have popped into Bowral  at the crack of dawn for a quick shop this am (emergency supplies of dish-wash soon to be suds required) and they are about to soap up the trampoline and slip side the day away.  Perfect holiday action!

Bliss - and even better - no ablutions required - no weeding either under the trampoline - all sorted nicely!

And no - I have not had a nana nap yet - but Woody has snoozed all morning - so sleeping somewhere else tonight - hyper Wood is way too much for me!

Here's one last autumn pic - love the scrunch and crunch of the leaves.

Byron Bliss

We are just back from the most divine getaway to Byron with friends.  Must say - Byron is one of those places where you simply cannot be sad or grumpy. Ohh nooo. It is truly beautiful and the atmosphere is so chilled with relaxed, happy people everywhere.  It's the only place I know where you leave a store and hear someone say 'blessings' or 'peace'!!  (Ok - not everyone is so hippy trippy - but it's definitely all about health and happiness in Byron!)

It also boasts some of the best places around to eat.  (And, I must say, while I love to potter about the kitchen and cook - it was heaven not to cook at all while away.  It was also heaven to know we were spoilt for gf choices as they take healthy food and eating seriously in Byron).  

A stand-out, must visit on the list is always Harvest Cafe up in the hinterland - it is our mecca whenever we are in the area.  We go for a potter around super cute Bangalow which includes a mandatory shop at Island Luxe (the most divine, eclectic collection of clothes, accessories and wot not).  Chi-ching goes the credit card.  

Then off to Harvest, knowing we'll eat like royalty.  It's in a tiny little village called Newrybar and is the most charming eatery - we have had some memorable meals there in the past few years.  

(Talk about waddle waddle an hour later - we could hardly move for the rest of the day we were so piglety there!!!).  Such a shame it started to pelter down on our return to Byron as we really could have done with a walk up to the lighthouse and back and up again...and back...and!!!!!!

Another stand-out eatery was Cafe 111 which B and I popped to while waiting for his remedial massage appointment (poor chap put his neck and shoulder out somehow - carrying all the bags from sister store Island Luxe Tribe in Byron no doubt.  When that man is away from working life and finds a store he likes, he shops - with fever!  Makes me look like a mouse in comparison).

Anyway - I digress - waiting at 111, I had the best eggs - ever - on polenta with silver beet - omg they were divine.  Such super fab food. (We had thought about trying the Conscious Cafe but even I had to say no to mung bean pancakes - it didn't matter that they were gf - it was just wrong.  Boy, was B relieved when I suggested a quick dart across to 111 if we had time.  He was facing a challenging eating experience at the CC).

And the ginger and mint tea was not too shabby either - so refreshing - perfect for a day ahead of lazying about and sifting around the bay.

Top Shop was another winner - Moo would live there if he could - the gf bread and buns they toast up are beyond sublime.  Far better than the nasty gluten ones according to Juliet, who did a taste test.  Moo was in heaven, excited that he could eat like a 'real' person (his words).  Felt a bit sad about that - am so used to the gf caper now I forget it is much harder when you are a sprog/tween.

Back to country-base now for another week of school hols, a bit of real work and a huge dose of garden toil.  We're facing a weekend ahead of hard yards in the garden, trying to re-grade the driveway before the next big rain (it was gushed away in a huge deluge a few weeks ago and is looking very sad and in need of repair!).   Ohh dear.

And a bit of extra love and attention will be given to this little guy.  (Ohh so cute.)  He has been having a massive sleep over with gorgeous Kelly while we scarpered (thanks Kel).  He had a divine time with her - it was hit and miss if we'd get him back as she has been smitten.  Man - has he been excited to see us though.  Mr Hyper ever since - manic as anything and darting about - pretty much up all night playing and being excited to be in the country.  He has finally fallen asleep from exhaustion and is snoring his little head off.  Thanks Woody - I do believe a much needed nana nap around 8am is on the cards for me!    


Snooooooooooore  Snuufffffle.

Enough already Woody or it's the dog box for you.  Kelly?  Want the hound back?!!!! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Foodie heaven ... Jamie Oliver's Fish Pie

On a cold day there is nothing better in {our} world than fish pie - and Jamie Oliver's version sings loudly for its supper.

It's so easy to pull together and the flavours are beyond sublime - this has fast become a firm favourite at Palazzo Josamina!

Try it!

You'll need...

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg potatoes or kumara – or a mix of the both
1 carrot (I used black – made for an interesting colour!)
2 sticks of celery
150g good cheddar cheese – Mersey Valley’s pickled onion {sigh} is the best ever, trust me!
1 lemon
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
½ a fresh red chilli
4 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
300g salmon fillets, skin off and bones removed
300g smoked haddock fillets, skin off and bones removed
125g king prawns, raw, peeled
olive oil
a good handful of spinach, chopped

Preheat your oven to 200°c and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Peel the potatoes/kumara and cut into 2cm chunks add to the boiling water and cook for around 12 minutes, until soft.  

Grab a deep baking tray or earthenware dish and stand a box grater in it (this is the best ever bit!)....

Grate the celery, carrot and cheddar straight into the dish. Grate the zest from the lemon then finely grate or chop your chilli  (yep, way too easy!).

Finely chop the parsley leaves and stalks and add these to the dish.

Cut the salmon and smoked haddock into bite-size chunks and add to the dish with the prawns.  Squeeze over the juice from the zested lemon, drizzle with olive oil and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and tomatoes.

Mix it all up really well.
By now your potatoes should be cooked, so drain them and mash them up with some olive oil
 then spread them evenly over the top of the fish and grated veggies.

Pop in the preheated oven for around 40 minutes, or until cooked through, crispy and golden on top (you can always grill the potato right at the end for added crispy joy!

Serve piping hot with a yummy green salad.

Yumbo scrumbo - this is beyond fabulous and perfect for autumn and winter.

Thanks for sharing the love Jamie, you're a star!

{Ohh and no I am not sponsored by these guys - but their products play a very large role in my life.  All I can say is I am forever thankful that I am not lactose intolerant - that would be a huge crime.  I can do without nasty gluten in my life but cheese is my dear friend.  In all its shapes and forms.}

Hello dear friend....


We teamed this up with one of my famous bean salads - famous because I whip them up on the spot.... throwing together whatever takes my fancy ... this time it was a mix of beans, a simple vinaigrette, preserved lemons (made last summer), red pepper, feta, red onion and toasted pine nuts plus loads and loads of herbs.  Toss together to make them dance and sing.  And they do!  And they'll sing again the next day if you have leftovers - best ever breakfast with an egg added for protein.  We don't do cereal in these parts - wary too weird for us!

Foodie {heaven} ... Gluten Free Life

It's been two and a half years now since Moo and I were finally diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. after countless trips to the doc with various ailments.  A friend asked me the other day how we coped, saying she could never do it.

The thing is it's not that big a deal once you get your head around it, and because you feel so much better, you just get on with it.

The fact you are no longer in pain sure does help a lot. (I thought it was normal to have an aching stomach and to feel as if my insides were on fire even though I hadn't gone near a curry or chilli!).

Ugh.  Do. Not. Miss. That. Burn One. Bit.  (And was rudely reminded the other day as I managed to eat some gluten by mistake at a restaurant which so didn't get what gluten was - must have been hiding out in a sauce some-where nasty stuff).   Bit of a shame as it was one of Sydney's finest - B's birthday went a bit flat that night.

Hello burning intestines - you're back, instantly.  Ouch.

I thought I had a handle on gluten bc gf so it was big news to me just where else it lurks - wheat is the biggest culprit as it's in all sorts of places such as some ice creams, yoghurt medication, vitamins and lipstick apparently.  Lipstick?!!  Shut the front door!  That's a bit tricky as lippie doesn't come with  an ingredient label - so just between you and me I'm ignoring that one!!!  A girl needs her lippie.

We've become experts at reading food labels - me with a magnifying glass as the type is always soooooo teeny tiny impossible to read.   It's such a great look - all I need is a blue rinse and my slippers on at Coles and it'd be confirmed - youngest myopic granny ever.  (Which aisle are those tena pads in again?).

We've become expert at asking restaurant staff about sauces and ingredients - and that's a bit of a sticky one as I loathe loathe loathe people who make a fuss (you know those neurotic types who have to have this that and whatever else on the side, omitted or changed).

But it's important as many foodie staff both front of house and back in the kitchen simply don't know - they get pasta and bread but not the intricacies of thickeners (1400 - 1450 wheat).

It's a good thing I LOVE to potter in the kitchen - so it has been a fairly easy transition to throw out the glut and bring in the gf.  Baking has been more of a challenge as the flour is much lighter so you need to experiment a bit, adding a bit more here or there.

It's opened up a whole new world of friends, bloggers and groups - I have met a whole bunch of people and discovered all sorts of blogs that make gf life easy.

Lovely Sara from Passionfood has become a firm, fast, fabulous friend.  The Coeliac Society has held my hand in the first wobbly months of getting my head around eradicating all gluten and understanding the lurkers.

I regularly read and am inspired to cook from Gluten Free Scallywag, Low Flying Duck, Gluten Free Goddess, Cannelle et Vanille, Gluten Free Day and Yummy Supper.  

All fab.

And I adore blogs like Ctrl alt eat - Aimee posts great reviews about gf eateries around Sydney.  It makes venturing out to eat a synch!  (In fact I love this blog so much I also write reviews for Aimee.)

If you're in Sydney - pop to Vientiane or Emmilou - two of our fav, almost entirely gf eateries, where the food sings.  Yum.

In the Highlands we are always eating at Wild Food, the Exeter Studio and the Exeter General Store (who keep a box of gf flour in the pantry to make gf pancakes for Moo whenever he wants - go to love country living!).  We're also mad fangs of Mt Ashby Estate and Southern Highlands Wines - great gf food plus excellent wine. Tick. Tick.

So, all up I guess the diagnosis has been one great big fat gf blessing - we are both much healthier, have far more energy and eat wholesome food every single day.

If you're feeling a bit sluggish or sleepy - cut out gluten for a week and see what a difference it makes. You won't regret it!

Bon appetit!