Beef Cheek Ragu

Day 3 – Beef Cheek Ragu

Once upon a time, I would have to nervously ask a butcher to order beef cheeks in. Then, I saw them (briefly) appear in Aldi and thought that at long last they would be a regular item.

Now, my local butcher routinely stocks them. He calls them Ox Cheeks, but they are one and the same. He sells them at $8.99 a kilo, a little cheaper than chuck steak or gravy beef. I almost wept with joy. Continue reading

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Whiting Escabeche

Day 2 – Whiting Escabeche

Fish can be expensive, yes, but even more worrying is when we stick to our favourites and in the process damage the sustainability of fish stocks. Tuna, I’m talking about you.

It is a truism, more relevant than ever, that ugly unloved fish are also likely to be in greater stocks in our domestic waters, and they will always be cheaper than the piscatorial glamourpusses. Red mullet, bonito (sometimes called snook) and the humble sardine are routinely good value. As is whiting. Continue reading

Spinach and Haloumi Pancakes 2

Breakfast – Spinach and Haloumi Fritters

It’s a huge irony, to me at least, that English spinach seems to grow best in Australia during the cooler months, which is why it’s frequently cheaper to buy at this time of year than say, summer.  Feel free to insert your own joke about the English and cold weather at this point.

Full of iron and vitamin C, these nutrients diminish rapidly if spinach is over cooked, which is where fritters and pancakes and the like are so handy. It makes for a speedy meal, which you can enjoy just as easily at the other end of the day to this breakfast. Continue reading

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Sweet Treats – Orange and Poppyseed Muffins

Poppy seeds are not in every pantry, but if they are, chances are you don’t use them all that often. However, given it’s high season for perfect local citrus, you have the best reason in the world to throw a spoonful into your next muffin batch.

With lemon and ricotta, poppy seed muffins are lovely, but with orange and cream cheese, they are sublime.  As with other herbs and spices, buy only a small amount of poppy seeds and keep them in a sealed container in a dark cupboard for freshness.  Continue reading

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Giveway – Win a Kambrook X-Blade Pro Stick Blender

For the last few weeks I have played with a wonderful new toy, courtesy of my friends at Kambrook. About this time last year they gave me an X-Blade stick blender to use, so I was somewhat surprised when they offered me their X-Blade Pro. Why would I need another one?

Well. Imagine a small food processor on steroids. Continue reading

Pumpkin and Goat's Cheese Tart

Day 1 – Pumpkin and Goat’s Cheese Tart

If you want to save on your grocery bills, you need to start paying close attention to the amount of food you buy.

Not eat. BUY.

We have become somewhat unconscious shoppers, not paying too much attention to the sizing of packages. We get so used to buying cheese in 500g blocks – even 1kg blocks – that a small amount of soft cheese – a mere 120g – can seem inadequate.  Measly. Continue reading

Apple Scrolls

Breads and Pastries – Apple Scrolls

My bread maker is in storage at the moment, so bread making has been a little sporadic around here, but I had a yen for some sweet fruit-filled rolls so in the midst of a cold and very blustery day I gave this a whirl.

I used bread improver to help prove the dough, and set the dough to rise in a partially-filled sink of hot water, but I really shouldn’t have worried – the dough rose steadily over an hour, the apple filling was just right, the oven warmed the rest of the house as they cooked.   Continue reading

Pork in Cider

Day 13 – Cider Pork Chops

A while back, I walked into my local shopping centre and there ran into a display stand of Bulmers cider and in an instant I was a gauche teenager all over again.

Growing up in Britain’s West Country, drinking cider was not so much a rite of passage as part of the natural order of things, like three-day weeks and cups of strong tea. We came to it sooner rather than later – it was the passion pop of choice for any party.

And it was at just such a party where I sipped cider nervously, with one eye on the clock to catch the last bus home before my midnight curfew. Continue reading

Vanilla Bean Pannacotta-001

Dessert – Vanilla Bean Pannacotta

A pannacotta is always a popular dessert but most people don’t feel up to the task of making them, thinking them too fiddly. And yet they couldn’t be simpler to make.

It relies on good ingredients and while you can make these wobbly wonders with gelatine powder, it works best with gelatine leaves. Why? It makes a softer, silkier dessert, and softens beautifully in your mouth. Continue reading

Saganaki Cheese

Day 12 – Saganaki Cheese

Such a simple, incredibly addictive dish, this is best served infrequently if you want to stay on good terms with your doctor, but oh, my goodness, how good this is.

Anything cooked as a saganaki invariably refers to the small two-handled deep sided frypan it is cooked in, which is why it’s possible to have, say, a prawn saganaki, even though it’s nothing like this dish. Continue reading

Parsley and Chickpea Salad

Day 11 – Chickpea and Parsley Salad

Wait! Where are you going? Don’t run away to the chocolate section just yet, this is really good. No, I mean it. Really good.

This started as a gift for a recuperating patient, my dear Miss Carly, but I was determined that it should taste good. Why? Well, hospital food has to be great tasting, but more importantly, I wanted to overcome any prejudice that a salad is inherently boring. Continue reading

Lemon Cream Tarts

Sweet Treats – Lemon Cream Tarts

Not every 15 minute meal can be cheap as well as delicious, but I have to say these lemon cream tarts are a sensational exception to the rule.

Granted, I had lemon butter in the fridge, and it also helps to have some cookie-style biscuits at the ready. I made these as a morning tea offering to a sick hospital patient, but in the end I should simply have made more – my housemate snaffled the last of them while I was visiting the hospital. Continue reading

Pumpkin, Lentil and Apple Soup

Day 8 – Pumpkin, Lentil and Apple Soup

You know it’s snowing nearby when you head out in the morning and instantly regret leaving your gloves behind. Here in deepest inner-suburban Melbourne, winter is not so much as coming, as has arrived and torn through the city.

It was blowing a gale when I went to the market, but my shopping list was short. I wanted fruit and vegetables mainly, a few deli items, not much more. By the time I got there my feet were cold and my hands were frozen and I was grumpy. Continue reading

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Day 7 – Buttermilk Baked Chicken

I’ve spoken before about the virtues of using buttermilk as a marinade for chicken. The last time I used it, the resulting popcorn chicken disappeared so fast I barely had time to photograph it. So you would think I would have remembered and been a little more prepared this time.

Much as I love, love, LOVE the fried coating that surrounds all good southern-style chicken, it’s not the healthiest way to eat, so this time I have opted for a roasted version.  Continue reading

$120 – A Week of Family Meals – It Can Be Done

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