January is coming to a close even though I am not ready for it. Summer is still here, but school is back and I have returned to work. Now I have to think a lot more about school lunches and post pick-up snacks and a lot less about iced coffee by the beach.
I tend to try to pack simple, healthy food in my children’s lunch boxes so I can offer no inspiration there. I did however, in a fit of new school year anxiety, make homemade sushi and two different types of muffins, for my kids on their first day back at school. The sweet muffins were sugar-free so I will leave it up to you to imagine how that went. 😉
The sushi was a hit.
Cooking for my children makes me feel happy and so my last minute flurry of kitchen activity was really a lavish expression of my affection for them. Does anyone else do this? Express their love with food?
It made me feel a little better anyway. My husband was just kind of laughing at me rushing frantically around the kitchen, although he did kindly pop out to the store for me so maybe he was on board with me in his own special way.
I do tend to cook a little less when I am busy, or at least with a little less finesse. But Summer holidays allowed me the time and space to try lots of new recipes.
- Braised lettuce. I am obsessed. It is better than you would think.
- Nectarine Custard Danish
- Honey Soy Sesame Chicken (made by a friend)
- Strawberry Jam
- Sweet Chilli Pork Belly with Mango Salsa
- Homemade pasta with pancetta and fresh tomato ragu
- Spring rolls
- Mango Mojito
- White Chocolate Mud Cake with a touch of coconut.
Way back at the start of my Summer holidays by the beach, I whipped up my first every batch of home made ricotta. It was very nice and I was very happy, cooking barefoot in my beach side kitchen with my beautiful daughter Bella. We ate ricotta with brioche on the deck in the morning sun and ignited a shared family obsession with this slightly sweet, eggy bread. You can find the recipe here.
I have also eaten out at some beautiful new restaurants in January, and returned to a few of my favourites.
- Excellent burgers at Meat in the Middle Glen Waverley
- D’Angelo Winery, Officer
- Collins Kitchen at the Grant Hyatt
- Brioche by Phillip
- Excellent Korean food at the gorgeous SUDA
- The best coffee in Melbourne at Patricia coffee.
- Classic Vietnamese at Tien Dat, Box Hill.
- Dessert at Belvedere Social in Daylesford.
Beachside, The Cape Kitchen was one of my favourite spots and I cannot wait to return some time soon. Fish and Chips in and a paddle at Mount Eliza was also very special. I am dreaming about going back to repeat the whole experience.
What is in season?
I was lucky enough to visit Rayners Orchard for fresh peaches, plums and nectarines. I also popped into P and D Canale strawberries and bought myself 6 kilos of freshly picked Yarra Valley strawberries for $20. They were the best thing I have ever tasted. The kids and I polished off one nearly 1 kilo in the car on the way home and the rest have gone into jam making, smoothies and to friends. You have not lived until you have eaten freshly picked strawberries and what better place to do it then right here in Melbourne.
Strawberries are still in Season and so are figs, zucchini’s, tomatoes, lemon, limes, nectarines, peaches, plums, capsicum, lettuce, sweet corn and zucchinis. Among many other things of course. Follow along on the Food is Free Facebook page to keep up to date with what people are growing in their backyard at this time of year.
Each month I am going to try to highlight an awesome food festival from around the world that we can celebrate too.
Valencia Oranges are in Season here in Australia at the moment but in Ivrea in Northern Italy, they are getting ready to celebrate the Battle of the Oranges. This is the largest food fight in Italy and it recreates the historic between the townsfolk and a ruling tyrant. Would you be brave enough to be pummelled with oranges? Perhaps if I was in a beautiful Northern Italian town, inspiration might just strike me.
Of course Chinese New Year is also celebrated on February 7th to 13th. You can celebrate Chinese New Year by eating dumplings, fish, rice dumplings, spring rolls and be making a sumptuous new years dinner, with each dish having its own symbolism and meaning. You can read much more about Chinese New Year here. Or take a look at how Adam Liaw plans to celebrate.
It is probably no surprise that I like to read cook books. This month I have also discovered a new Donna Leon book. These books are set in Venice, the city of lovers, and they follow a local Commissario in his work in the police force. The setting is dreamy and beautifully written into the story, and so is the food.
I have also discovered Allyson Gofton’s new cook book “Recipes from my French Kitchen.” Allyson tells the story of the year she spent living in rural France, and shares her favourite traditional French recipes. I love simple French food so I was drooling over her recipes.
So that is about it from me, my January in food. What have you enjoyed eating this January? Did you make something special for your children’s lunch box this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Thanks for reading along. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, or Facebook to keep up to date with what I am making and tasting. Or you can also find me on Zomato.