White Chocolate and Macadamia Blondie

Purists are boring.   No doubt, my recipe for a White Chocolate Blondie will offend on two fronts. First, my cocoa obsessed friends sniff at the very mention of white chocolate. “You know, Simon,” they declare with tedious superiority, “technically, it’s not chocolate at all.”  It’s a “confection,” they go on to explain, as though…

Barnes on the virtue of recipe books

“Ah yes, your own recipe book. You will need some kind of small scrapbook or filing system for all those newspaper and magazine cuttings. Another word of advice: don’t stick them in until you’ve made the dish at least twice and know it has some chance of longevity. Such a cuttings book will, over the…

Hot tamales

So my son and I made tamales.  I met my first tamale decades ago. It was in Texas. I remember sitting with friends and unwrapping the steamy, soft, spicy pork cigar from its corn husk. It was good. Amazingly good. I credit that tamale with the gumption I found to chase a pretty Texan girl…

Chocolate chiffon tart with macerated strawberries

My brother has hit the mid 40s. It’s hard to believe. Ben and I are the youngest of six boys and a more than a decade apart. I remember the day of his birth and those that followed like yesterday. I would hover outside the newborns viewing room at the Dandenong Hospital for hours at a time, staring…

Empanadas

I’ve never been to South America, nor to Spain. My first encounter with an empanada (from the Spanish verb empanar: to wrap or coat in bread) happened when I was living in Los Angeles twenty years ago. I bought one from a street vendor at Venice Beach. While the memory of the vendor is cemented…

Pear cake

I love pears. They are an elegant fruit, and can add a sense of class to a fruit bowl, or to a meal for that matter. The right pear is a perfect accompaniment for a slow roasted pork, a fine match with ricotta, caramelised onion or balsamic. At the sweet end of things they make…

Dad’s lamb stew

My dad came for dinner tonight. He’s not fussy, but he’s proud — a meat-and-potatoes man. No pastas or risottos for him, and certainly no ancient grain salads. Dad likes it simple: a good roast dinner with crispy spuds and gravy, or a slow-cooked lamb stew. His taste for lamb is no surprise. Raised on…

Basque Pear Tart

My only brush with the great Paul Bocuse was via the short-lived Melbourne outpost of his nouvelle cuisine empire. It was the early 90s in an uber cool space of whites and ivories attached to the now defunct Daimaru department store in Melbourne Central. Though I didn’t get to meet the man himself, I did meet his protege Philippe…

Slow cooked beef shin, with a Thai-inspired twist

I’ve always loved the idea of slow-cooked meat, the sort that falls off the bone and disintegrates in your mouth. When it’s done well, the flavours are wonderful. And then there’s that glorious aroma that wafts from the kitchen as you sit back on the couch with a book and a glass of iced-tea. It’s the oven that does the work….

Apricot and olive oil cake

So it’s my last day of leave, my daughter departs for India tomorrow, and apricots are in season. These factors converging, tonight’s dinner was one of lamentation, celebration and some serious apricot consumption. My choice for an apricot dessert was further inspired by two factors. First, a week ago we headed up a friend’s farm in Nagambie and picked the most gorgeously delicious apricots…

Pomegranate, quinoa and feta salad

My beloved has a thing for pomegranates. Truly. So much so, I reckon if it was me or the fruit I might be out in the cold. Granted, a ripe pomegranate, prized open, is a thing of remarkable beauty. The Ancient Egyptians considered it a symbol of prosperity and the Hebrews had a thing for…

Rabbit stew

So my son and I are at the market doing the weekly shop. After eggs, veggies, meat and bread, we stop at the poultry store. My chicken thighs ordered, I see him eyeing off the rabbits at the other end of the display case — whole slender rabbits, skinned, gutted and ready for the pot. ‘Dad, have your…

Bertolli on the inspired moment

“A recipe is at the very least a method accounting for a cooking process. At best, it captures a memory or inspired moment in cooking. But it can never quite tell enough, nor can it thoroughly describe the ecstatic moments when the intuition, skill, and accumulated experience of the book merge with the taste and…

White chocolate mousse … with raspberries

Ok, so I have a thing about raspberries. But being at the butt end of the season, you can’t begrudge me one last hurrah. Besides the punnets I found at the market were sensational. What’s more, an Easter Sunday lunch requires chocolate (whatever colour) and something that can be made the day before. Let’s be clear: ministers don’t do major…

The Preacher’s Chicken and Dumplings

Twenty-five years married to my Southern Belle and I’ve never once made her chicken and dumplings. I hang my head. In the rural South, chicken and dumplings is a signature meal. While it may not win a prize for the prettiest, it’s a defining dish of the family table. Though nowadays cheat’s versions are as common…

Seriously therapeutic chocolate tart

My beloved has left me. Actually, she’s gone to some exotic place for ‘work-related reasons’, but the long and the short of it is I’m left here beloved-less, alone, and on the verge of serious melancholy! We all have our coping mechanisms. Mine is chocolate, so, considering the clouds gathering overhead, I decided to act….

Gopnik on recipes

After posting my lemon and lime tart recipe yesterday, I was reminded again just how difficult sharing such a thing is in this medium. So much about cooking is intuitive. To give intuition words is fraught. I look through my mother’s tattered box of recipes, little bits of culinary wisdom scrawled on yellowed pieces of…

Lemon & Lime Tart

Headed to a dinner with friends, a ‘pie night’ in celebration of all things dough entombed!  My contribution is more held than encased, technically not a pie at all. But entrusted with the sweet ending to the meal, I decided a tart would be a fitting and lighter end to things. I’m not sure where…