Friday, January 27, 2012

Riding the Micro Wave

This just hammers one of the last nails into the coffin that is my aversion to microwaves.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake (Ants Nest Cake)

Today is an exciting day, for the lovely Miss Aylmore, from the blog She's Leaving Home, found me through that funny medium they call Twitter, and I'm sweeping in and and holding the reigns of her blog for a day.
Scoot on over to find the recipe for a Malaysian sticky caramel cake, also known as an Ants Nest Cake (and lots of other crafty treats too!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Armchair Collective - Mona Vale

So you’ve gone to all that trouble to secure a lunch date at The Armchair Collective, The Boat House at Palm Beach's non-identical twin located a few beaches south in Mona Vale, only to discover that no, your date won’t sit and chat. While you wait for your beef burger with house-made pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard aioli, or your char grilled Balmain bug salad with coriander and lime dressing, they’re off fawning over homewares. Mint-green covered armchairs and burnt-orange striped lampshades to be exact. There are blown-glass vases, beachy cushions and tea sets by the dozen. Vintage bar stools sit by serving platters and beside baskets of woven rugs and blankets, it’ll be a wonder if they make it back to your table in time for lunch at all.

However I have a hunch that they will, because if they get too swept up in the whirlwind of glossy-magazine standard domesticity, they might miss out on a hearty Ploughman’s Lunch of shaved leg ham, stuffed zucchini flowers, heirloom tomatoes, aged cheddar and shaved fennel salad. Or the milkshakes that come thick and syrupy in giant glass milk bottles. You’ll both stay seated for a bucket of thick, fluffy, hand-cut chips with harissa mayonnaise, and a glass of wine, because you’re out of the city and no one cares a damn.

Breakfast shows its face in the form of thick-cut miche toast spread with labne, leg ham, a poached egg and cherry tomatoes that burst at the slightest nudge of a fork. A bowl of fruit salad with figs and berries comes with a side of drippy honeycomb and the coffee is spot on. This is Mona Vale, and there is white sand and a cool sea waiting only a quick dash away. Armchairs and burgers? I could get used to this.*

The Armchair Collective9a Darley St East, Mona Vale
(02) 9999 2871
(You can also purchase all those pretty pieces through their website.)Open:
Mon-Fri 10am – 6pm
Sat-Sun 10.30am – 4.30pm

*This post was originally published over at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fried Butter Beans with Fennel, Feta and Sumac

Some things I have recently learnt:
  • Summer is a great time not to wear pants and instead walk around the beach house all afternoon in your swimmers/oversized t-shirt. "I don't need to put on pants for this, do I?" is a helpful phrase to learn.
  • Watermelon will always drip down your chin, even if you try your hardest to eat it neatly.
  • Always make sure your food processor if properly locked before pouring in your painstakingly made soup, or it will spill out all over EVERYTHING and you wont be able to get the smell of ham stock out of your hair.
  • Your boyfriend probably doesn't want to watch Downton Abbey, watch it with your sisters instead.
  • Drinking lots of fresh coconut water (as in, out of a real coconut) will almost certainly transform me into Miranda Kerr... Any day now.
  • If the puppy looks like he is hiccuping, QUICK! he is about to be sick on the carpet.
  • Butter beans are waaaaaay nicer when they have been crisped up in a fry pan.
I was lucky enough to score a copy of Yottam Ottolenghi's Plenty for Christmas this year and I'll tell you what, flicking through the pages was nearly enough to convince me that roasted eggplant, lentils and a few tomatoes would be more than enough to live off for the rest of my life. Meat can beat it. 

The recipes are hearty but also show a finely tuned delicacy and a focus on beautiful produce. After the food bomb that was the festive season (which detonated somewhere around my thighs), we needed a night of wholesome eating at least shouting distance away from the glazed ham, and boy did Plenty deliver the goods. I was thinking of you (as always), and thought you might appreciate this recipe, as it is January after all and everyone is full of good intentions this time of year.

The key to nicely crisp and golden butter beans is to fry them in batches, so you only end up with a single layer of beans, every one of them has to be touching the pan so they brown evenly. The second trick is to leave them the heck alone for a little while so they have time to caramelize. Also, try to choose a fennel bulb that has the green herby fronds still intact, they are wonderful sprinkled over the top and have a sweetly mild flavour.

Fried Butter Beans with Fennel, Feta and Sumac
Adapted from Yottam Ottolenghi's Plenty

Serves 4-6 as a side serving

A good glug of olive oil
25g butter
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bulb of fennel, very thinly sliced, reserve the fronds for garnish
1 large red chili, diced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
100g feta cheese
2 tsp sumac

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat. 

Add garlic, onion and butter beans to the pan and toss to combine (do this in batches if necessary so you have just one even layer of beans). Arrange beans in a single layer in pan for 3-5 minutes until they are golden-brown underneath. Add the sliced fennel on top of the beans, they will steam while the beans brown. 

Once you have a nice crust, season with salt and pepper and flip the beans around in the pan using a large spatula so you can brown the other side. Don't worry if this is a bit rough, as long as you have a good browning on one side it'll be good. Leave for another 3 minutes to crisp up further. Add the chili and lemon juice and toss to combine. 

Move beans to a serving plate, crumble over the feta cheese, and sprinkle over the sumac. Garnish with fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil.

Friday, January 6, 2012



“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the ‘good life,’ whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” 

- Hunter S. Thompson (via