Monday, May 30, 2005

Yogurt with walnuts, honey, rhubarb and rosewater.

Mum brings me huge quantities of rhubarb from her garden. I chop it into 5 cm lengths and stew with a little brown sugar, a splash of water, and some flavourings of choice: cinnamon, cardamom, or rosewater. It doesn't take long to cook down, then I freeze portions in small plastic tubs, and I have an instant resource for puddings and breakfasts.

Yogurt with walnuts, honey, rhubarb and rosewater.

This is a simple but exoticly flavoured dessert or breakfast dish:
Fresh walnuts, roughly chopped, drenched with honey, topped with plain (unsweetened) youghurt, and rhubarb stewed with rose water.

Note to self: read the following articles
Tasteful Food Photography at O’Reilly Digital Media (at
An Insider’s Look At Food Photography at shutterbug


Tomato and Cheese Strata

Strata is basically a savoury bread and butter pudding.
This recpe is inspired by one found on ibeth's blog.
It's delicious as it is, or it could be dressed up with the addition of ham, mushrooms, asparagus, or spinach.

Tomato and Cheese Strata

1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 smallish tomatoes, chopped (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs *
1/3 large stale ciabatta roll, cubed
3 Tbsp ricotta **
2 Tbsp sharp cheddar, crumbled
5 eggs
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
salt, pepper
2 Tbsp grated parmesan

  1. Line a small lasagna dish with silicone paper, and preheat oven to 230°C
  2. Fry onions until lightly golden ***
  3. Add garlic and fry for further 2 mins
  4. Add tomatoes and herbs to the pan and heat thru.
  5. Stir the bread into the tomato and add a little boiling water if too dry (bread should be just moistened but not soggy)
  6. Spread the tomato bread mixture in the base of the lasagna dish
  7. Use a teaspoon to drop little dabs of ricotta over the tomato layer
  8. Crumble cheddar over the top
  9. Lightly beat together eggs, cream, milk, salt & pepper, then pour over the tomato and cheese.
  10. Sprinkle parmesan over all
  11. Bake for approx 25 mins, until set and golden on top.

I served this with fried mushrooms and steamed spinach. A salad of thinly sliced fennel, dressed with parmesan shavings, olive oil and lemon juice, helped balance the richness of the meal.

* I used parsley, basil, marjoram and thyme. The thyme was a bit overpowering in the final analysis, and I would probably leave it out next time.

** The original recipe called for goat cheese, but I wanted to use up ricotta I had in the fridge. The ricotta alone probably would have been too bland, so I pepped it up by adding sharp cheddar.

***When I think of it, I fry up twice as much onion as I will need, and freeze half to use later. Having ready-fried onions on hand is a great short cut when you want to throw something together with the minimum of effort.

More strata recipes can be found on and


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Chocolate Cabochons

These gorgeously glossy chocolate treats caught my eye as Mum and I were browsing at the Southbank Sunday Market this afternoon.

They looked almost too exquisite to eat, like highly polished marble baubles decorating the kitchen shelves. I admired them for a couple of days before I eventually ate one, taking small bites and savouring the authentic fresh flavour of the raspberry filling. I enjoyed the remaining two, passionfruit and champagne filled, over the successive two evenings.

Baked Egg Custard

egg custard with ginger and banana
The Situation:
I have an upset stomach, the detailed symptoms of which you really don't want to know about. Doctor says that it's probably an irritated bowel, brought on by a mild bout of food poisoning a week ago. She's prescribed lactobacillus (in yoghurt or fermented milk), bland diet and patience.
I'm feeling very delicate and the mildest food smells set off waves of nausea.
I really have no appetite, but I gotta eat something...
Mum suggested eggs - easy to digest and should help 'set' my stomach. Must be a recipe that is quick to prepare, and gentle on my delicate palate.

Baked Egg Custards
1 & 1/2 cups milk
1/4 fresh vanilla pod
1/3 cup powdered white sugar
2 eggs

Slit the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the milk. Throw the pod into the milk too.
Add the sugar, and warm the milk to just below boiling.
Leave the vanilla to infuse until milk is tepid.
Remove the vanilla pod.
Add the eggs and whisk gently just until eggs & milk are thoroughly combined.
Pour into little ramekin dishes (you'll need about 3 or 4 for this quantity). Grate nutmeg over the top.
Stand the ramekins in a baking pan, and carefully pour hot water around the ramekin.
Bake in a med-low oven (160 deg C; 375 deg F) for approx 50 mins.
Custards are cooked when their wibbly wobbly texture looks settled, and a sharp knife inserted comes out clean.

I've served this with sliced banana (for potassium) and sliced crystallized ginger (to fight the nausea).

[updated 11:08 pm - Well this worked a treat! Took only about 10 mins to prepare, including washing up and garnish. Was delicious yet mild enough to not offend my sensitive stomach.]


What's the point?

I've shopped, selected, planned, chopped, stirred, improvised, sauteed, steamed, blended, created, drained, plated, garnished, admired, served, savoured, shared, devoured and digested...
Food, the planning, preparation and eating of, is one my favourite pleasures. This blog will document my culinary experiments, triumphs and failures.
Bon appetito!