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10 years ago I was getting ready to ..
Trip down memory lane + Old Fashioned Apple Pudding + Mushroom Ramen Noodles + Cookbooks & Good Things
10 years ago I was getting ready to write my first cookbook. In 40 days! From start to finish. I was working pretty much full-time then (newspaper column, magazine column, client work and a thrice-a-week food blog that was in the running to win two national writing awards). By day I was also minding two boisterous boys under the age of 9 and by night I was studying design at a college in the city along with a lovely batch of kids almost half my age. Amazingly yet, we were also living out of boxes as our home underwent a major renovation and I remember cooking under the stars in the garden in my old oven hooked up to electricity under a makeshift shed. It was unbelievably chaotic, and messy but utterly exhilarating. And I handled it with what can only be the unexplainable enthusiasm and energy of someone in their mid-thirties.
The cookbook was subsequently released early the following year and the blog won both awards. And I got a new kitchen! As is natural when a lot happens all at once, my memories of that time are starting to become hazy - I vaguely remember solo plane trips to Melbourne for my book events, cooking at the Good Food & Wine Show, attending book signings in libraries and community clubs. I remember being bone-tired and bleary-eyed through countless train and plane rides. I remember being nervous at book talks and being amazed when my book dinners sold out and people came to get their copies signed and feast on recipes cooked from the book.
A decade later, it all seems surreal and distant. The book which is called Tasty Express is filled with family recipes that are influenced by my early years in India, South-East Asia and Australia. It is a homage to the street-style recipes from all these places with big, bold flavours - think brunches, dinners and desserts inspired by local eateries. It is a book I still cook from almost every week and I still get warm messages from people who are also cooking from it 10 years on. I still have a couple of boxes stashed away. So if you are interested in exploring it - either for yourself or a friend, I have signed copies here.
I took almost three months to recover and recharge after that whirlwind year. One of the first things we did the following year was to go apple picking, an activity that I absolutely love! It signals autumn to me and has a deep fondness in my heart as Nick and I literally had our first impromptu date sharing an apple expertly cut with a Swiss army pocket knife.
After every apple-picking session and hauling back enough apples to last through a zombie apocalypse, one of the first things I make is an Old Fashioned Apple Crumble! Honest to good, old-fashioned, buttery, golden apple crumble baked in a vintage Lemon Meringue Pie dish. How is that for contradiction, hey?
With only 8 ingredients, this golden-baked dessert is so easy to make and is filled with warmth and country charm!
More apple things to make
If you love apple pie, slow cookers and nourishing breakfasts, you must try my Slow Cooked Apple Tart Overnight Oats. A breakfast that cooks itself as you sleep and tastes like apple pie flavoured clouds? Yes, please!
Another slow cooker recipe (but can also be made on the stovetop) - Apple Chai Spice Jam. So incredibly delicious, especially on a freshly baked sourdough slice!
These Apple Strawberry Muffins are a lunchbox staple in our home. Wholesome, delicious and full of flavour!
A nice Apple Pinenut Ricotta Cake.
This week’s Bonus Recipe
Saucy delicious mixed mushrooms cooked with beautiful Asian sauces and spices ladled over really easy stir-fried gingery ramen noodles. This a favourite recipe everyone will absolutely love, no matter what the weather! Pair it with this Asian Smacked Cucumber Salad and Sticky Marmalade Chicken Wings for a complete meal.
Feast Of Mushroom Ramen Noodles
for the mushrooms
3 tbsps sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
500g mixed mushrooms (portobello, cup, shiitake), sliced
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis (dark sweet soy sauce)
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
½ tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
½ tsp red chilli flakes
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
Sesame seeds, sliced spring onion - to serve
for the noodles
270g ramen noodles (dry)
2 tbsps sesame oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp chopped green chilli
½ cup cabbage, sliced
1 cup chopped coriander (leaves and stalks)
1 cup sliced spring onions
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp sea salt flakes
1. Put noodles in a pot of boiling water. Cook for 4 mins. Rinse and drain several times in cold water.
2. Heat oil in a large wok. Add ginger and chilli. Sauté for a few seconds. Add cabbage, coriander and half of the spring onion. Stir-fry for a few seconds.
3. Add noodles, soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir fry on high for a minute. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with remaining spring onion.
1. Heat oil in a large wok. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté for a few seconds. Add mushrooms, and stir-fry on high for a minute until mushrooms appear glazed.
2. Add sauces, spices, seasoning, and cornflour mix. Cook for a few seconds until the sauce thickens. Serve noodles topped with mushroom and garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions.
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Good Things + Food Things - This Week
Plus this Lemon Curd Almond Butter Cake.
Members! Have you cooked this Spicy Korean Pulled Mushroom Sandwich yet? I CANNOT stop making and eating this. Every week!
I recently started watching The Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix. What a beautiful, feel-good show. Highly recommend!
And The Last Of Us, a complete about-turn from the aforementioned show but a beautifully artistic, haunting and slow-burning depiction of a post-apocalyptic world.
I am a bench scraper addict! I have about 6 of them from my years of sourdough baking obsession. It is only recently that I have discovered the very cheffy use of these scrapers - to pick up your chopped produce and scoop it into a bowl while prepping dishes (especially salads!). I have just bought this gorgeous black one along with a cheap salad spinner. I see many salads in the near future.
I struggle with podcasts. I like the written word and I love visuals. I find listening to something without the aid of either of those two things … not enough. I feel my mind wanders off and the podcasts become white noise. But, I have been really enjoying the 5-Minute Food Fix podcast. It is short and sweet and very concise. Plus there is a recipe in each episode. I am also really enjoying Something To Eat And Something To Read - it has two of my favourite things!
Current Book Stack - Heartbake by Charlotte Ree, In Belinda’s Kitchen by Belinda Jeffery, From Salt To Jam by Katrina Meynink (this is our May Cookbook of the month in the Cooking Club. Join & Cook With Us!), Sweet Enough by Alison Roman, A Splash Of Soy by Lara Lee, The Joy Of Better Cooking by Alice Zaslavsky)
Thank you for reading! Have a lovely weekend. Eat well, Be well xx