Sunday, June 5, 2011

White, Green and Red Soup

After an exciting visit to the Art Gallery I made this soup out of leftovers and things from the garden.


2 leaves radicchio, washed and sliced
2 leaves spinach, washed and sliced
Boiled potatoes, cut into small chunks
5 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sherry or red wine vinegar


Heat a heavy pot over a medium heat, add a little olive oil, then the potato chunks. Stir about. Add a little salt and pepper. Add the chopped radicchio and spinach leaves and stir to combine, put a lid on and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Boil the kettle and had about a cup of hot water. Add the cherry tomatoes, stir again and cook for another minute, just to heat through the tomatoes.

Serve in a warmed bowl adding a teaspoon of vinegar on top.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekly Meal Planner & Shopping List

Over the last few months I've been developing a Meal Planner. At first it was very rough: just my usual shopping list on a scrap of paper with meal ideas jotted at the bottom. That developed slightly when I wanted to keep track of what I had in the freezer and what needed using up in the fridge. For a while I had two scraps of paper going - one with the shopping list, one with the list of food we already had. Untidy, ungainly, unacceptable.

The major breakthrough was the decision to scrap the scraps of paper and use a whole sheet of A4. Wow! The extravagance! (You don't need to use a virgin piece of paper, you could use a previously printed on sheet. It just has to be blank on one side.)

So with the huge amount of note making real estate available on the sheet of A4 I played about with the best way align the various lists. I have come up with the following:

Weekly Meal Planner & Shopping List

How to use the WMP&SL:

1. Do an audit of your fridge, freezer and pantry. This might take some time initially but persevere, it's worth it.

2. List the food that you've already got under the heading "in fridge, freezer, etc" in the top left hand corner of the WMP&SL.

3. Think about the meals you could cook with the food that you've listed and jot down those ideas in the blank space in the middle top of the sheet.

4. Under the day headings block out where you won't need lunch or dinner eg you know you're going out to dinner on Saturday night. You could make a note also of the number of people eating lunch or dinner on a particular day eg you've invited friends over for lunch on Sunday, so you'll need more food.

5. Add to the meals list things that you'd like to cook but don't have the ingredients for yet.

6. Start allocating meals to particular days of the week. Don't worry if you don't have enough meals to fill the whole week. You might cook a meal and have plenty of delicious leftovers or someone might ask you out to dinner! Nice. Or you could do some recipe research and go shopping mid-week. Or if worst comes to the worst you could cook the same thing twice.

7. Make a list of the ingredients you'll need this week under the "shopping list" heading. Look at the meals you've put into your meal planner and at the ingredients that you've already got to help you do this.

8. Ask yourself some questions:
- Have I run out of salad vegetables?
- What am I eating for breakfast?
- Do I need toothpaste?
Add the answers to your shopping list.

9. Fold the WMP&SL into a handy jeans pocket size concertina-ed almanac.
- Fold in half long ways ie so that the top left hand corner meets the bottom left hand corner.
- Fold in half again, this time so that the top left hand corner meets the top right hand corner.
- Fold the top flap back on itself, and the bottom flap back on itself.

Hopefully the WMP&SL will now be folded into 8 with the "shopping list" page on the back and the "in fridge, freezer etc" page on the front.

10. Put your WMP&SL in your pocket. Get your shopping bags and money. Go shopping. Buy what's on your shopping list. Don't buy stuff you've already got.

11. Come home, unpack your shopping. Take your shopping list out of your pocket and stick it on the fridge. Cross the things you've bought off the shopping list.

12. During the week cross off the food use from your "in fridge, freezer etc" list. Add things you need to the "shopping list".

Monday, April 25, 2011

haloumi in vine leaves, baked potatoes, tomato sauce & broccoli

Tonight I'm cooking from Maria Benardis' book My Greek Family Table. It's a lovely book with recipes based on Maria's family life in Greece and Australia.

I'm making "Chargrilled haloumi in vine leaves", with "My favourite baked potatoes", the "Santorini caper and tomato sauce", and a salad of blanched broccoli for greens. Normally I'd cook rice to go with haloumi but I wanted to eat rice pudding for dessert and didn't want too much of a good thing.

Paella with chorizo, red capsicum, beans and artichokes

Tim cooked paella last night for dinner. I love paella for its infinite variety, and because it is, I think the ultimate, one dish meal. It has rice, vegetables, beans, herbs, seasoning and perhaps meat and crustaceans. Really it has whatever is available but in a particular balance.

Traditionally paella is an outdoors food cooked over a charcoal fire in a broad shallow pan - the paella - with ingredients being added in order for them all to be cooked and ready at the same time. And it is worth remembering this as you cook it at home over the stove, starting out with the things that require most cooking and adding more delicate ingredients towards the end.

Paella with chorizo, red capsicum, beans and artichokes


for 2

1 tbspn olive oil
2 rosemary sprigs
2 sprigs of thyme
1 small chorizo, about 150g, sliced into 1cm rounds
1 small red capsicum / red bell pepper, cut into strips about 1.5 cm wide, then cut again into squares
3/4 cup paella rice (or risotto rice)
small pinch of saffron threads (optional)
a large handful of green beans, trimmed and cut into 4cm lengths
4 preserved artichokes, halved or quartered, depending on their size


Put the paella pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, when it is hot add the rosemary and thyme. Let them sizzle a little then add the chorizo so that it is evenly distributed about the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn over the pieces of chorizo. Add the capsicum between the pieces of chorizo and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Shake the pan a little to loosen the food.

Sprinkle the rice into the pan, shaking into the spaces between the chorizo and capsicum. Pour on about one and a half cups of water, enough that the rice is completely submerged. Shake the pan again to even the rice, meat and capsicum out. Sprinkle on the saffron threads then bring the water to a simmer.

When the dish is simmering distribute the green beans over the top and turn the heat down slightly. The paella should not be stirred as a crust should form on the bottom but this means that you need to keep an eye on the dish and shake it about a little to make sure that it doesn't burn. You may need to add more water as the rice cooks. Towards the end of cooking distribute the artichoke pieces across the top.

At the end the rice should have plumped up and there should be little air holes across the surface. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and a tea towel to allow the rice to finish cooking. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes.

Serve straight from the pan.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook


I bought Veganomicon, not because I'm going to become a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but because I want to make more vegetable based meals. Expand my repertoire. Get healthier. The book is lovely to look at, dark turquoise green and paler green olive text on a roughish paper. It sits open by itself, very useful when cooking. And the writing is engaging.

The authors, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, although they've both written several other cookbooks, are obviously home cooks. I like this. They know about taking food to picnics and barbecues, about entertaining at home, about cooking for yourself and maybe one other person. They know about which foods are probably available in your local supermarket and which things you'll most likely have to go to a specialist supplier to buy.

I'm fascinated by the culture portrayed through the recipes: New York, Brooklyn, Mexican, Greek, Jewish food is put through a vegan filter, and comes out in sometimes surprising combinations. And I wonder if in Australia where we've been influenced by Greek, Arabic, Italian, and South-East Asian foods and ways of cooking we do the same thing.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week 2 - Summer

Cold Chicken and Salad

Sausages w Salad or Veg and Mash

Chicken and Leek Pie

Grilled Fish and Salad

Spinach and Chickpeas w Yogurt and Rice


Fried Cheese and Eggs

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Week 1 - Summer

Tomato, onion and olive tart

Steak and salad

Pasta w cauliflower and capers

Fish w tomato sauce

Rice and lentils 

Grilled fish and salad

Roast, or fried, chicken and vegetables