monkey bread

The kids have been cooking … all by themselves. Monkey bread from The Baking Book by Jane Bull. Scarlett got this cookbook from Merryn as part of our second hand Christmas (last year I think).


The banana bread looks good (and tastes good) and the pot holders are lovely, aren’t they? I bought them in Hamilton at the op shop when I was visiting Merryn.

We didn’t have a loaf tin (I must have loaned it to someone) so they made round monkey bread. But that’s OK.  Round bread is cool right?!

They made it because we had some very ripe bananas. Here’s the recipe they used, with a sticky note addition by India noting their recipe modifications for future reference ( although perhaps the extra banana wasn’t needed).  How great are the picture instructions …

Good cooking kids.

beetroot cured salmon

I am always very impressed by beetroot cured salmon. It looks so amazing, don’t you think?

So, I had a crack at making some myself. In the rush around Christmas eve I looked up a couple of recipes for the vibe.  I think I looked at a couple of Jamie Oliver’s recipes.  And then true to form just made it up with what I had.


Here’s what I combined:

  • 1 cup rock salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 bunch chopped coriander
  • 1 beetroot grated

I skinned the salmon fillet, and covered it all over with the mixture. I then wrapped it in glad wrap and put it in the fridge for 3 days. I had to keep draining off the very pink liquid, so if you make it DO put it on a plate with a lip. Then, when it was done I washed it gently, to get rid of as much salt as possible. And sliced it thinly.

We ate it with a cream cheese dip on bread and crackers. I just mixed some light cream cheese with milk (to make it more spreadable) and added grated lime rind and juice and also garlic salt and chopped parsley. I was going to add dill, but I didn’t have any. So parsley it was.

And we also had some blanched fresh asparagus. It was good!

And the December issue of Country Style magazine which I read yesterday has a cured trout recipe that’s really similar (sans beetroot) but with dill.  Yum!  Are you inspired?

four vegies for christmas

Hooray, my Christmas responsibilities are over for another year. And Christmas isn’t even really here yet. From now on I’m just a guest … But for my extended family Christmas this year (our party was yesterday) I was in charge of … ‘vegetables’.  Elise did meat.  Merryn did pudding.

I made four dishes.  A bit of a middle eastern/italian fusion.  My old favourite Abla’s green beans, and then roast pumpkin (for my Dad) and baked tomatoes (for me). Oh, and smashed potatoes with rosemary and olive oil (for everyone).


The roast pumpkin (officially roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar*) and baked tomatoes (officially baked tomatoes with baguette) were my first attempts at Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes.

I made them because I went to Wendy’s the other week and she made a delicious pumpkin thing by him that had pomegranate molasses and was impressive. I was looking for THAT recipe and couldn’t find it in my last minute cooking rush, but I came across these.  They sounded manageable, and I had the ingredients, and so … ta da.


And they were delicious. And ideal if you have to take vegie dishes to someone else’s house for Christmas. Because they are perfect to eat at room temperature.

I’m a convert. What I liked was that although the recipes sounded a bit complicated, the dishes really looked pretty speccy, and the basics were very straight forward. I found it was very quick and easy to get the vegies in the oven.  It was just that you then had to make an interesting dressing that required a few ingredients.  But really, pumpkin takes a hour to bake right, and you just had to mix some stuff together …

I really think Yotam might become a new good friend of mine …


*I substituted pistachios for the recommended pine nuts on the top of the pumpkin.