Category Archives: Feed me

Christmas 2013: the season that was

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Luke and I kicked off the season with my ‘work’ Christmas party. Given that I have no workplace as such, this ‘work’ Christmas party consisted of just the two of us. It was excellent. No boring boss or creepy guy from accounts.

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We took ourselves off on a bike tour to Abbotsford, where we partook in a cleansing ale at the charming Retreat Hotel. One turned to two or three, and we were hungry. So off to Thy Thy for a feast.

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No party is complete without the ‘superior’ Michinbury. Hey big spender.

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We may or may not (may), have then ridden home, dragged the mattress into the lounge room and slept under the Christmas lights. Childhood dream realised. Best ‘work’ Christmas party ever.

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Next up is the Christmas baking. As per every year, my sister Laura and I split our baking and make hundreds of treats for packaging up and sharing with friends and family.

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This year I made lebkuchen for a picnic, gluten-free mince pies for Luke, along with a range of truffles – peanut-butter balls, date and ginger logs and whiskey balls. Laura made the amazingly cute shortbread, chocolate orange balls, mint log and fruit mince pies. We are the best Christmas bakers going around. Just quietly.

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By the time the end of December rolled around, Luke and I were well ready for a holiday before family Christmas time. So we took ourselves up north to Mooloolaba for a few days. Bliss.

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First we visited ‘Crikey Park’, aka Australia Zoo. Crikey expensive, but a good day out. We saw bucket loads of lizards, crocodiles, birds, koalas, giraffes and kangaroos. It was fun to be tourists and ooh and aah at the wildlife.

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Beaching was up next. I didn’t grow up near the beach, I’m more of a river gal, but whenever I visit the beaches on the Sunshine Coast and Northern NSW, I can see what all the fuss is about. We enjoyed naps, fish and chips, watching the sun set over the marina, reading books, Luke enjoyed swimming at the beach (I got dumped by a wave and cried), I enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool, etc etc. Bliss.

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Good old Lismore and the family were up next. We introduced the Ramsay team to the iconic Milk Based Cocktail #MBC and got everyone on board (see last years Christmas post for the story!). We go with a White Russian, but there is definitely room for another in the repertoire, any suggestions?

Then we ate.

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But don’t worry, we survived all the food, and loved seeing the family. Another Christmas win!

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I hope that you all had a great Christmas and sent 2013 off feeling full of food, booze and family!

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Oh Honey Joy!

It’s been AGES since I wrote on this little ol’ blog of mine. Jeepers! Time flies when you are studying, working et cetera, et cetera. Expect more from me from now on. I need to finish blogging about our holiday which was back in July, oops!

Here is a little present to make up for the silence … made for my belated 30th birthday party tomorrow.

honey joys

Honey Joys
Stolen from Kelloggs

4 cups of cornflakes, I used gluten-free ones
1 tablespoon of honey
1/3 of a cup of raw sugar
90 grams of butter

melted butter, honey, sugar

Melt the butter, honey and sugar together until all melted and bubbly. Add to the cornflakes and stir really well until all are coated. Spoon into party patty-pans and bake at 150 degrees for 10 minutes. Let ’em cool and then scoff!

honey joys in the making

I hope you enjoy your virtual honey joy honey!

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3(0) is a magic number

I am now 30 years old. AND DAMN IT FEELS GOOD!

birthday presents

Here are all my presents. Well not all of them! Lovely Laura gave me some Royal Doulton champagne glasses, which are to be featured another time!

paella

Luke bought me this paella pan and accoutrements, we have eaten paella twice since. Who would have thought it was so quick and easy!

books
A favourite adult book, and two amazing kids books.

dvds
“Bernard, Bernard! I’m a prostitute robot from the future!”

le creuset

I was very spoilt again, with this gift of my second Le Creuset! This cast iron pan will get plenty of work in years to come. And it’s orange!

squishy

After opening all my presents (thanks Mum and Dad for the knife, and my lovely in-laws for my spoils), and having my first solo bedroom dance as a 30 year old to Azealia Banks (language warning!), the squishy above took me out for breakfast to the North Carlton Canteen. Yummo.

I was lucky enough to share my day with my friend Lisa’s wedding day! So Lukey and I spruced ourselves up to get down to Lisa and Aaron’s wedding in the Carlton Gardens. The sun came out just in time for the ceremony, and all was glorious, as all weddings should be.

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I kept myself relatively nice until my job as MC was finished, then I joined the others in some ridiculous dancing, champagne glass smashing (accident!) and general tomfoolery. Fun.

wedding ladies
Hawt bride.

I was also super spoilt with our traditional birthday dinner later on in the week – Luke took me to La Luna!

la luna charcuterie

It was a delicious, (ethical) meat filled, winey and yummy night, starting with an amazing charcuterie plate, then garlic prawns, sausages, filet mignon wrapped in bacon, roasted pork and ice-cream to finish.

la luna meals

Not to mention a wine or two with each course. Dirty 30s indeed!

wine

Needless to say, a most fabulous time was had. Thanks to everyone for the fabulous send off up to the third floor!

luke loves cats
Luke making friends with all the neighbourhood cats on the walk home from dinner ….

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Chocolately, chocolately chocolate cake

Yesterday Luke and I were invited over by our friends Robin and Clarisse to play board games, a perfect Sunday afternoon activity. We played Dixit and Small World (I recommend watching the videos I’ve linked to the games, they explain them perfectly), Luke and I hadn’t played either of these before, they were both really fun. I particularly enjoyed the afternoon, as I won! Both games! Yippee!

Unfortunately this didn’t put me in the good books with our hosts, who are both seasoned board game players, luckily though I bought this cake along to share, and all was forgiven.

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Chocolate Buckwheat Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz

170 grams 70% dark chocolate
115 grams salted butter (or unsalted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt)
4 eggs
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup plain full fat yogurt
1 teaspoon powdered vanilla
3/4 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup buckwheat flour

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Melt the butter and chocolate together, I did this in the microwave on reduced power. David says to do this in a bowl over simmering water. To each his own. Either way, melt together until smooth.

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Whisk the four egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar, yogurt and vanilla together in a large bowl. Whisk in the melted chocolate and butter, then stir in the almond meal and buckwheat flour.

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Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually whip in the other 1/4 cup of sugar until and keep whipping until the whites are in firm peaks. Slowly fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture until it’s just combined.

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Pop the cake batter into a springform tin, and bake for around 30 minutes, leaving the center still a little soft. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the cake tin.

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This cake was so yummy, very soft and almost puddingy, and very, very chocolatey. David also suggests making it with hazelnut meal, I’m going to try this next time. Yum!

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Banana Cake

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I like bananas when they are only just ripe. Too yellow and they taste icky. This means that we always have an abundance of overripe bananas – either in the fruit bowl or in the freezer. Either are great for this cake. I doubled the recipe and made two cakes, because sometimes one just isn’t enough. As usual, this cake would also be delish full of gluten, just swap the flours listed for regular plain flour.

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Gluten-free banana cake
Adapted from CWA Cakes

250 grams of soft butter
1/2 cup of raw sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
3 eggs
3 overripe bananas
3/4 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup of gluten-free plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 teaspoons of ground ginger

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Fresh on the left, frozen on the right.

Beat the butter and sugars until light and creamy, then beat in the golden syrup and eggs. Mash the ripe bananas and  them stir through. Add the flours, baking powder and ginger and stir to combine. Perfect!

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Pour into a greased and lined tin, and bake at 180 degrees for around an hour. Mine took 65 minutes. Lick the bowl.

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The ginger makes this beautifully bitey, while still being soft, banana-y and moist. Moist! You can top with cream cheese frosting and walnuts if you so please. Or just eat warm from the oven.

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We did both.

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Comida Mexicana

I love Mexican food. Love it. While it can be hard to find authentic Mexican ingredients in Australia, you have more options than an Old El Paso boxed taco kit! Here’s a couple of easy ideas, while they aren’t authentically Mexican, they have delicious Mexican flavour.

Scrambled eggs with beans and corn
Serves two

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4 corn tortillas
4 eggs
knob of butter
a dash of milk
half a tin of corn
half a tin of kidney beans (or black beans would be delish)
a handful of grated cheese
1 spring onion
salsa or hot sauce of your liking
sour cream

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While still in your nighty, pop the kettle on for tea, and warm the corn tortillas. You can do this in the microwave, or on the stove-top in a pan. Don’t crisp the tortillas, just warm them until they are soft and smell nice and corny. Place on plates and sprinkle half the cheese on the warm tortillas to melt a little. Yum.

Pop the eggs, beans, spring onion, corn, milk and the rest of the cheese in a bowl and combine a little. Melt the butter and add the egg mixture. Fold the eggs until cooked, but still soft.

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Place your eggs onto your cheesy tortillas, serve with a touch of sour cream and as much salsa as you please. I buy a lovely salsa verde from Casa Iberica in Fitzroy.

Taco salad
Adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen, serves four

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1 tin of corn
1 tin of chickpeas
1 cup of cooked black beans or a tin of kidney beans
1 onion
1 or 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning (make your own!)
1 cos lettuce
2 tomatoes
1 avocado
coriander
grated cheese
salsa or hot sauce of your liking
lime or lemon
sour cream
bag of corn chips

Fry the onion until translucent, add the beans and corn and warm though. Add as much taco seasoning to make it as spicy as you like, and a couple of tablespoons of water to make it a bit saucy.

Shred your  lettuce, top with the warm beans, then cheese, tomatoes, avocados, salsa, coriander, a squeeze of citrus and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with the corn chips, they are perfect for scooping!

Enjoy!

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Holly loves Christmas

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A little vintage fellow on my vintage silver aluminum tree. The tree belonged to Luke’s grandparents and is treasured.

With a name like Holly, it would be most disappointing if I was one to spurn Christmas. Luckily I love Christmas! What’s not to love? Food, friends, family, holidays, summer (for us anyway!), songs about oneself decking halls, drinking wine and eating shortbread at 11am …

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Gluten-free fruit mince pies – pastry by moi, fruit mince by Mum and Laura.

Luke and I alternate Christmases between my home of Launceston, Tasmania and his home of Lismore, New South Wales. This year was a year to head south and hang with the Brackens. We took some leave from work and headed down to Tassie for 10 days. Bliss!

First off we headed to the north-west coast to visit family, and stock up on Christmas supplies. We did the obligatory pop into Ashgrove Cheese and ate all of the tasting options, twice, but gave the Raspberry Farm and Anvers Chocolates a miss this time. Most restrained of us. Mainly because we already had a house full of raspberries and chocolate treats!

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No one made Luke choose the horse’s arse over a strawberry. No one.

We also stopped at the Berry Patch and the Cherry Shed, both of which provided much amusement. And delicious berries of course.

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The giant cherries were just asking for a pin up pose!

We spent the days before Christmas, cooking, eating, napping, reading, hanging out. Perfection. Then the day was upon us!

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I bought this vintage ‘resort wear’ in Lismore last year with my Christmas money, it was begging to be worn on Christmas Day. It has pockets!  I did change out of it later in the day though in order to fit in more food …

We had a lovely relaxed approach to Christmas lunch. No turkey or overcooked carrots for us! We started with oysters, 12 natural and 12 kilpatrick, then had prawn cocktails, then amazing Tasmanian crayfish in a white wine sauce, then the spread you see below, then pavlova, then plum pudding, then we all exploded.

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Cray legs, boiled new potatoes, broccoli salad, roast chicken, broad beans, caprese salad.

Through out which, we consumed copious cocktails. We began with Santa’s Slays (rum, cranberry juice and sparkling wine), then moved onto a variety of warm weather appropriate cocktails, such as the one below.

Last time we were in Tasmania we attempted a Christmas cocktail hour but were thwarted by a lack of mixers. We only had milk, and to her credit, Laura made a good go of it, offering us a variety of milk based cocktails. However, they didn’t go down very well on a full stomach while sitting in the sun. This has now gone down in Bracken family folklore, meaning “Make me another milk based cocktail!” was an oft heard phrase.

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Laura’s fabulous invention of gin, raspberries, lime and sparkling wine. And not a drop of milk to be seen.

On Boxing Day, we packed up two cars, six people, the dog, a dozen bottles of wine, left over treats and some board games and headed to Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast. This is a glorious part of the world, well worth a visit. Mum hired a fantastic beach house and we proceeded to rest up.

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The view from the balcony. Bliss.

At night we played cribbage, card games and Monopoly. One epic six person game went on for around 4 hours! Some of us enjoyed Monopoly more than others. It’s always more fun when you win, so Laura must of had the best time of all!

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After four days beach-side it was sadly time to head back to Melbourne to commence real life again. Luckily I had one more holiday up my sleeve before work began again, a trip with Luke’s parents down the Great Ocean Road! Which I am sure you shall hear about shortly …

I hope you all had a great Christmas, New Years Eve or just a break if neither of those float your boat. Bring on more family, good food and travels in 2013!

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Bananas + coconut = pancakes

Banana coconut pancakes
Adapted from Delicious – Quick Smart Cook
Makes 8 small pancakes, the perfect breakfast for two

2 eggs
3 bananas, one for mashing, two for slicing
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
creme fraiche and maple syrup for serving

Mix the eggs, coconut milk and mashed banana in a bowl until combined. Add the flours and baking power and whisk. Spoon two tablespoons of batter in a hot pan for each pancake.

Serve with sliced bananas, creme fraiche and maple syrup. The creme fraiche is well worth hunting down (Bulla do a good one), but yoghurt would make a satisfactory replacement. Don’t scrimp on the bananas!

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Festival of Holly

I am now 29. While this is a little concerning, I am determined to live this last year of my 20s in style. Which seems entirely possible, given the excellent start to my 29th year.


I was well and truly spoilt by my generous friends and family. Thank you all!

Luke and I have an excellent tradition of taking each other out to a surprise birthday dinner, to somewhere we haven’t been before (for Luke’s birthday in February I took us to the the Press Club). On Friday night, Luke took me to Flinders Street, where we boarded a train on the Sandringham line.

I had absolutely no idea where we were going. We disembarked at Ripponlea, and walked down the dark streets, until we arrived at … Attica. Oh my. The food was extraordinary, we played fancy grown ups and had the eight course tasting menu with matching wines.


Marron with leeks and mustard flowers, honey and thyme for second dessert, walnut appetiser, egg yoke with pyengana cheddar cream and almonds.


We finished with chocolate eggs filled with salted caramel and a cognac to share …

The food and service was gorgeous, the night was just perfect. I recommend saving up your pennies and visiting Attica, worth the weeks pay!


In my birthday party dress, kindly supplied by my darling sister.

Next up for the Festival of Holly … cocktails! Last night my gorgeous friends came on over for a party. We made lots and lots of traditional and not so traditional cocktails – old fashioneds, manhattans, whiskey sours, mojitos, cuba libres, and concoctions involving cinzano, brandy, pimms, gin and goodness knows what else! Sally found her old fashioned a bit too alcoholic, so added mixer to make a not in fashion. Classy.

My baker extraordinaire sister whipped up this chocolate minty delight …

… which was well and truly enjoyed by all.

The third instalment of the Festival is a trip to ACMI to watch Singin’ in the Rain this afternoon. Luke sure knows how to throw a gal a birthday weekend.

Love and thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday, I’m lucky to have you all!

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What’s for dinner? Fritters!

These delicious treats have fast become a dinner favourite, quick, easy and you can throw in whatever you have in the fridge or cupboard … corn and zucchini are my favourite.

Corn and zucchini fritters
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 large zucchini, grated
1 can of corn
1 sliced spring onion
1/2 cup grated parmesan or crumbled fetta
salt and pepper
2 or 3 beaten eggs
Around 3/4 cup flour, I use a mix of gluten-free and quinoa or buckwheat
Oil for frying

Throw all your ingredients except for the flour into a bowl and mix.

Add the flour a large spoonful at a time, until you have a mix that is still damp, but holds together in spoonfuls. The amount you’ll need depends on the flours you use, how juicy your zucchini is and how many eggs you could find to throw in! Sorry, this recipe isn’t an exact one …

Heat your oil in a nice big frying pan, you’ll want about a centimeter of oil. Plop in large spoonfuls of batter, leaving yourself enough room to flip your fritters once they are golden and cooked though.

Luke likes these with tomato sauce, I prefer a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

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