You've got to throw your boomerang to get it back, otherwise you're just carrying around a bent stick!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mama Mia

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again?

My my, just how much I've missed you

My mum arrived home from an overseas trip on Monday night but I was out pub crawling in the Balmain Rozelle precinct that evening so I didn't get any quality time til Tuesday. When Tuesday rolled around I wandered home like a school boy from his books. After a series of cuddles and a good run down on her trip to Tasmania I of course popped the big question, "Muuum what's for dinner?". An awesome answer excited my ears and satisfied my stomach, "Minestrone soup". Oh boy!

As a general rule I hate winter. We're like polar opposites. I'm fire, it means ice. Except in Australia we barely even get any ice, so it's not even a proper winter! I'd like winter if it mean snow so we could all build snowmen, igloos, have snowball fights and have a kickass ski season. But instead this nation is mostly reliant on a few snowmakers down south and the rest of the time hangs with bated breath for that elusively timed extremely cold temperature and a bit of precipitation to create some sleet we might hope to make some dodgy snow cones out of.

I love summer. The exfoiliating sand in between my toes, in my scalp, in just about everywhere. I love the smell of salt on my skin, on my hands, on the chips, everything wet, then crusty, golden sky, scenery, skin. Making a mess of the cold creamy ice cream dripping everywhere and removing the mess when shelling juicy fresh prawns. The endless days and unforgettable nights of love and laughter with friends and family.

But when it comes to Winter, what saves it for me is food. And a lot of credit for that goes to my mum. Winter means comfort. Lazing in bed til well after 11, late breakfasts that become brunch, early dinners and plenty of movies before sleeping like a log in that ever loving doona. Lazing in front of the heater reading a book for hours until it's finished. Then moving onto the next one.
Winter means comfort food. Stews, ragus, pastabakes, slow roasted meat and vegetables. Beautiful red wine to warm the heart and soul. But nothing epitomizes comfort and love more than soup and pudding. So mum's menu tonight did wonders for a harsh critic of the coldest season.

Minestrone Soup

Mmm minestrone. Possibly my favourite winter soup. Chock a block with goodness in the form of veggies and garlic this is one soup that is great for chasing away those winter blues.

Serves 4-6


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1.3kg smoked ham hock, chopped
  • 2x400g chicken or beef stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup small pasta such as risoni
  • 300g broccoli, chopped
  • 400g cannelini beans, drained
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsely
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pesto


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic and carrots, cook for 5 minutes
  3. Remove the skin and visible fat from the ham hock and add to the pan with the tomatoes, stock and water, then cover and simmer for 35 minutes
  4. Remove the ham bone and dice meat off the bone
  5. Add the ham, pasta, broccoli, beans, pepper and salt to the pan and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Stir through the parsley and serve with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese, some pesto and crusty bread.

Maple Syrup and Pecan Steamed Puddings

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe from the July 2010 edition of the ABC’s Delicious Magazine. Jamie’s style of taking lovely fresh ingredients and using simple processes to create something special is just a delightful way of fuss free cooking. The result was a yummy moist, sweet pudding with loads of pecan chunks to munch on. Plus an added bonus of a ramekin perfect for scraping up the tasty buttery nut residue.

Serves 6

  • 100g pecan nuts (can use other nuts if desired)
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 75g vegetable suet
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 large free-range or organic egg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 150ml milk
  • 2/3 cup (165ml maple syrup), plus extra warmed syrup to serve
  • Cream or custard to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 190C
  2. Grease six small heatproof teacups (or ramekins) well with butter.
  3. Place the pecans in a plastic bag, tie the bag closed and bash the nuts with a rolling pin. You want to end up with a mixture of chunky and fine bits of pecan. Dust the inside of cups/ramekins with the bashed up nuts tipping excess into a large bowl.
  4. Empty the leftover nuts from the bags into the bowl too, then add flour, sugar, suet, soda, egg, vanilla seeds, milk and ½ cup (80ml) syrup. Mix well.
  5. Pour some of the remaining syrup into the bottom of each teacup/ramekin and pour some mixture on top. You want your ramekins to be about three quarters full.
  6. Place cups/ramekins in a large, deep roasting tray. Fill tray with boiling water, making sure the water comes halfway up the side of the cups/ramekins.
  7. Carefully place the tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until cakes are golden and cooked through.
  8. Stand for a couple of minutes before turning them out. Serve with custard or cream and a drizzle of warm maple syrup.
The lovely pudding with a macchiato :) perfect afternoon tea or dessert fare for a chilly home day.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Verbaliza on Food

Okay this was originally posted on my old blog savour the flavour, but I just had to put it up here. Read it for a glimpse into my food history. It explains a lot about my adventurous tastes now.

Three small words. Food and Drink. I love you.

Some people eat to live. Some people live to eat. I am the latter served on a platter.

But who am I? Some call me Eliza. Others call me for the late night booty calls.

KIDDING! Mmm…kids are tasty. Okay, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m talking about goat meat!

WARNING: The next few paragraphs contain animal eating references. This is recommended for omnivorous and carnivorous audiences only. My first experience with this meat path not so trodden was on a family holiday in Vietnam. At the Da Lat gardens we were offered goat skewers. Boy were they tasty! It was on this trip after my bravado in trying goat, rabbit, snails and frogs legs that I decided I wanted to try every animal on the planet. This trip marked my second overseas odyssey, and the first big holiday where I let my tastebuds do the walking.

My adoration for all foods great and small may sound both normal and abnormal, but what makes my adventurous culinary pursuits more excting is that it hasn’t always been this way. Like most babies I began receiving my food courtesy of my mother’s hands. ‘Here comes the aeroplane’ she would coo and the aeroplane spoon would land filling my mouth with it’s nutritious cargo. However, when the time came for me to fly my own aeroplane into the hangar there were some technical difficulties. I disliked the texture of fruit and vegetables when I handled them. So what should have been one small step for a baby, became a giant leap everytime I ate where my parents would desperately attempt to hide, force, trick me into eating fruit and vegetables.

My previous and first venture overseas was to America, where I hopped around from New York, to San Fransisco, Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon and Hawaii. Traveling through these places I drank in diverse landscapes of breathtaking nature and heartstopping cities. Whilst, zipping here and there I also drank in the local culture especially engaging with the national cuisine. But after a diet of coloured corn chips, giant turkey legs, ice-creams that weigh your arm down, and plates of food as big as your head I returned to Australia quite overindulged. With the hindsight of my walk down obesity lane, I decided to haul myself out of my diet rut and embrace all things natural and healthy. It was time to get fruity!

The transformation of my food intake over the next year was like the story of the very, hungry caterpillar. Once upon a time, I had survived on an exciting menu of nuggets, macaroni cheese, baked beans, bangers & mash, and boiled eggs and soldiers. In the safety of that cuisine cocoon I was comfortable and unchallenged by unfamiliar flavours, spices and textures. Gradually my lunches changed from stock standard peanut butter, ham or cheese fillings to a rainbow of grilled vegetables including eggplant, zucchini, sweet potato, red capsicum, spinach. My morning tea changed from packets of tiny teddies & shapes to dried fruit and nut mixes and peels of bananas, apples and oranges. Food began to colour my world rather than define my weaknesses. I came out of my narrow food rut and became a beautiful butterfly, swooping down upon menus and meals to relish the wonders of our natural and man-made dishes.butterfly

Now at the keen age of nineteen I have dined upon a zoo of kangaroo, camel, buffalo, emu, snails, frogs legs, rabbit and goat. Not to gloat.

There are so many ways to express the practice of interacting with these life sustaining and enhancing everyday necessities. Consume, devour, eat, feast upon, bite, chew, digest, feed, gorge, graze, inhale, slurp, shovel, sip, guzzle, sip, chomp, munch, bolt, dine, nibble, peck, scoff, snack, sup, swallow, wolf, savour. Each word to match a moment and a morsel. They complement the food in the way they sound and feel in your mouth. Some roll off your tongue. Some make you pout out. Some slide down your throat. Some are gone before you know it. Some echo on in your mouth.

On this food and drink blog I wish to share with you all of these experiences. I will of course be reviewing restaurants and cafes, but why stop there? On this blog I want to offer my 5 cents on everything from espresso coffee, to store bought iced coffee, hot chips, to packet chips. All food experiences should be remembered and able to be recalled for your present and future eating happiness. Every bite you take, every sip you make. Every single day, every time you graze I’ll review it for you. Welcome, to my food life! You only get one shot at life, so if you’re on to a good thing make it last! Savour the Flavour.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hearts a flutter warmed and soothed

My review of Ernest Ellis w/ The Tourist & The Sleepyhands @ OAF
as appeared on the exciting cultural guide that is Word On the Street

Ernest Ellis
Supported by The Sleepyhands and The Tourist
Thursday 1 June 2010 8pm
Oxford Art Factory, 38-46 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney

On the chilly evening that was Thursday the 1st of July, not one, but three bands brought a heart-warming energy to Sydney’s cool underground indie venue the Oxford Art Factory. Amongst the smoky darkness, all three acts burst out with sounds to inspire, and ignite on a cold winter night. First up of the support acts was ‘The Tourist’, a collective of three inner west youths playing melodious indie folk. The two males commanded their strings and their enchanting female harnessed the magic of synthesizers and egg shakers to create sounds inspired by the likes of Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes in songs such as ‘My little eye’. I myself also felt some Radiohead vibes in their haunting, melancholic arrangements such as ‘Antarctica’. The lead vocalist Dan was honoured to get a comparison to one of his favourite bands of all time.

‘The Sleepyhands’, the second support act of the night emerged from the smoke as a large but dynamic collective of seven Sydney voices. The sounds influenced and assisted by one of the cream of the new Modular crop, Johnathan Boulet, the Sleepyhands hooked in the curious audience with beautifully crafted songs such as ‘The Autumn March’, heavenly harmonies in ‘Cross your fingers’, and bouncy happy-go lucky ditties. Altogether the enthusiasm and talent of this bunch of bright young things lit up the room, which in size and mood provided a fascinating contrast to the small support band that played previously, and the headliner to come.
Whilst enjoying the peculiar perfection of The Sleepyhands I found pleasure in sipping on a similarly unusual but wonderful winter cocktail. Slowly savouring the delightful drink known as the Hot Toddy, a concoction of scotch, hot water, ginger, lemon and cloves, conjured comfortable feelings of cozy, lounge room chilling with lemongrass & ginger tea by a warm fire. Definitely an accompaniment just right for relaxed tunes in the coldest week on record.

The show headlined by Ernest Ellis was arranged to launch their debut album ‘Hunting’, but it didn’t quite launch. It catapulted! Opening with their rockier numbers such as the alluring ‘Pulse’ the melodramatic three-piece band from the Blue Mountains had the excited audience eating out of their hand. It was tough not to be blown away by the magic of Ernest’s rare solo performance ‘Valley Song’, a lovely strumming folk number that had the audience swaying and imaginations soaring far away to green pastures dappled with golden sunlight. The popular tracks that launched Ernest Ellis into the public eye didn’t fail to disappoint, with the ethereal, easy listening sounds of ‘Heading for the cold’ and sheer epicness of ‘Loveless’. The encore set the band soaring with the audience roaring…onto the stage! Ernest’s earnest invitation that the crowd join him on stage to dance out the final song the catchy ‘Want for Anything’, was initially met with restrained desire, which later turned to growing enthusiasm. However, attempts were halted by security, only to be successful when the sheer number of excited fans climbed over the front of the stage and danced amongst the band members. I was one of those too eager to remain grounded, and instead hauled myself onstage to join the dancing celebration of spectacular music. That finale felt like a giant warm hug, an unforgettable moment that just made my heart explode! With the band booked in to play at this years highly anticipated Splendour in the Grass festival in August, it seems Ernest Ellis will continue to generate a magnetic pull of listeners to their marvelous music.

I leave you with a little bit of music to marvel at from these musos
The Tourist (click the link to listen)

The Sleepyhands (click the link to hit up their myspace for my joy)

Ernest Ellis