Taste Tests

The best perk of being a food blogger is getting to eat lots of scrumptious things (usually for free) and then writing about them.

My personal favourite though, is receiving fresh produce or condiments to experiment with in my cooking adventures.

Saucy chicken & chorizo israeli couscous

Posted on June 26, 2011

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of store-bought stock?

Too salty! Preservatives! Fake flavour! Yes, yes and yes. I agree.

So you can imagine my delight when three pouches of chicken, beef and veggie from The Stock Merchant arrived boasting about having none of the above. (more…)

Zaatar Batons with Sami’s Kitchen spices

Posted on June 15, 2011

Sami’s Kitchen spice range is one of the most exciting things to hit my desk recently.

As most of you will know, my father is of Lebanese origin, so I am very fond of Lebanese cuisine and many Lebanese dishes anchor strong childhood memories within my psyche.

In my family, food is love. My dear late Tatah (grandmother, in Arabic) was a champion cook and all-round eating ambassador. As soon as you entered her house she would usher you directly to the table to eat. Then, while you sat eating, she would not-so-subtly pace around the table heaping additional food onto plates so that after an hour-long meal your plate was still full! (more…)

Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea

Posted on June 5, 2011

With all the sweet stuff that has been sent to me lately, it was with some relief that I opened up a package filled with five tea bags.

Twinings recently gave a tea blending kit to 40 celebrities and asked them to come up with their own signature tea that will be mass produced and sold as ‘Australian Afternoon Tea’.

The top 5 entries for the competition were (in no particular order); Kevin Rudd, Kerri-Anne, Alan Jones, Layne Beachley and John Williamson – see picture above!

Hubby and I taste tested them all and my favourite was Kerri-Anne’s (citrusy and very ‘girly’) and his was John Williamson’s (smokey and ‘manly’, ha!). How completely stereotypical! (more…)

Meeting Margaret Fulton + Bonne Maman Conserves

Posted on May 20, 2011

We bumped into Margaret Fulton as soon as we walked in the door.

“Hello! You look just like you do on TV!” said my Mum, shaking Margaret’s hand.

That’s us in the picture above. I’m in the centre, my Mum’s on the left and baby Poppy is in the pram – but unfortunately you can only see her favourite toy dog peeking out!

Perhaps I should explain. We were at Baroque Bisto for a delicious Mother’s Day breakfast hosted by Bonne Maman with special guests Margaret Fulton, her daughter Suzanne Gibbs and two granddaughters Kate and Louise. (more…)

Broccoli, blue cheese + chargrilled pear soup

Posted on April 12, 2011

Remember last week when I received those pears to cook with? This is what I made!

This recipe has now been entered into a competition run by PR company Impact Communications and will be judged by David Bitton. I’m a big fan of his lovely cafe in Alexandria so it’s a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least.

Autumn is the perfect time to get cosy with a steaming bowl of soup. As the weather gets colder it’s nice to indulge in richer ingredients like blue cheese and have a bit of fun by doing something different with seasonal fruit, like chargrilling it.

Or if you have simple tastes, like my five month old daughter Poppy, you simply suck on thick slices of pear that have been chilled in the fridge to soothe your teething gums. You can read more about that here.

For grown ups, chargrilling pear is an interesting flavour and texture sensation, and it offsets the strong blue cheese and slightly bitter broccoli with a welcome sweetness.

Happy cooking! Christie x

Broccoli, blue cheese and chargrilled pear soup recipe
serves 4 as a starter

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium leek, white part only, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
500g broccoli, about 2 medium heads including stems
4 Packham pears
1 litre vegetable stock or water
100ml cream
80g blue vein cheese
salt, ground white pepper, ground black pepper

1. Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil, sliced leeks and garlic and saute for 5 minutes until softened, but not coloured.

2. Wash the broccoli and chop into small florets and thinly slice the stems. Add to the pot. Peel and core two of the pears. Roughly chop and add to the pot.

3. Pour in the stock or water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down a bit and gently boil for 20 minutes until the broccoli and pear are very soft.

4. Blitz with a stick blender until very smooth then remove from the heat and crumble in the cheese, pour in the cream and stir until the cheese melts and everything is well combined. Season with salt and white pepper. Keep warm.

5. Heat a chargrill pan over high heat. Chop the remaining two pears into quarters and cut out the core. Thinly slice into 1/2 cm wedges and season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill on both sides for a minute or so until the fruit is tender and has black/brown grill lines.

6. Serve the soup in warmed bowls topped with the chargrilled pear and toast soldiers on the side.

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