Savouring the time to cook

My plan to reserve Tuesdays as “test kitchen Tuesdays” to try new recipes came unstuck pretty quickly, but mainly because I have been cooking a lot of different things. That’s not to say that there is a tasty, Master Chef worthy, Instagrammable plate on the table every night (in fact tonight, it’s a fairly standard spaghetti bolognaise) but I have been experimenting with a few new recipes.

Apart from having access to great seasonal, local produce, my main reason for cooking differently has really been about having the time – not only to cook, but also to search through recipe books and magazines to start with. Suddenly I don’t feel quite so guilty about our huge collection of cookbooks and magazine subscriptions because we are actually using them.

Here’s just a sample of what I’ve cooked up this past week:

Caramel Brownie with Toffee Macadamias – inspired by a Toffee Pecan Brownie in Donna Hay #59, 10th Birthday edition Oct/Nov 2011.

Toffee macadamia caramel brownie - Donna Hay magazine #59 Oct/Nov 2011
Toffee macadamia caramel brownie – Donna Hay magazine #59 Oct/Nov 2011

I chose this recipe largely because I wanted something to go with my second attempt at vanilla ice cream that I could do in advance as we were having friends to dinner on Saturday night after visiting the Adelaide Show. It was delicious but turned out to be way too much for 4 people (better for say…24 people) and very rich (450 grams of chocolate and about the same amount of butter will do that). The toffee macadamias were good and I was excited to make these and the caramel from scratch.

Eight hour roast lamb from What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies (who I’m looking forward to meeting when she speaks at a lunch in the Barossa next month)

Spending the day at home on Sunday meant I was inspired to put the roast I had bought for dinner into the oven mid-morning. We have a huge rosemary bush at the front of the house and while I didn’t have as much garlic the recipe suggested, it was still great. I couldn’t believe how easily the lamb shredded.

What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies
What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies

I didn’t have all the ingredients for the suggested dressing so improvised with parsley, mint, lemon juice, olive oil and some of the roasted garlic and served with greens with my favourite Maggie Beer’s vincotto and a Belicious Petersham inspired roasted cauliflower with goats curd.

8 hour roast lamb, roasted cauliflower with goats curd and greens with vincotto
8 hour roast lamb, roasted cauliflower with goats curd and greens with vincotto

Finally, on Tuesday night it was Hoi An chicken rice, probably inspired by thinking about Hoi An for my blog post on Monday. I started off looking at the Morning Glory cookbook from a restaurant we liked in Hoi An and which we had used before, but ended up using my new Real Vietnamese Cooking from our friends Tracey and Andreas from Hanoi Cooking Centre. This cookbook will always have a special place in my heart (and kitchen) because Tracey and Andreas became really good friends during our time in Hanoi and we watched this book come to life with beautiful photos from Michael Fountalakis, who I was lucky to do a photography walking tour of Hanoi with during one of his visits.


While the recipe would traditionally use a whole chicken, I only had thigh fillets and these worked quite well. Unfortunately the Kikkoman soy sauce seemed a little salty for the soy chilli dipping sauce – so I am starting to think I’ll buy salt reduced from now on, because it’s always easier to add salt. I am also not convinced that Thai fish sauce is the same, but I am yet to find Vietnamese fish sauce. I need to try and work out where the best Vietnamese supermarkets are in Adelaide because there are loads more recipes I would like to try and recreate.

Cơm Gà Hội An - Hoi An Chicken Rice from Real Vietnamese Cooking
Cơm Gà Hội An – Hoi An Chicken Rice from Real Vietnamese Cooking