Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

I’m a stickybeak. I love nothing more than stealing a glimpse into other peoples’ lives. I subscribe to real estate emails even when I’m not looking for a house, I pay attention to behind-the-scenes stories and relish trawling through sites like The Selby, So, How Was Your Day and Freunde Von Freunden to see how other people live. I find real life endlessly fascinating, much more so than beautifully styled magazine spreads.

This favourite pastime of mine got me thinking about fridges. This year my fridge has been on show. Friends and family have been kind enough to keep it stocked with food while we get used to parenthood. Nearly everyone who brought a meal commented on how empty our fridge was, clucking over us like this parenting thing had us well and truly beat judging by the state of our fridge! The thing was, it wasn’t that different to how it usually looks.

I brought this up on the weekend with a group of friends who were over for dinner. We proceeded to huddle around our open fridge to analyse it. They concluded that yes, it was very empty, and seriously lacking in half-jars of things, strange ingredients you only use once and what do you mean you only have two jars of jam?!

I look at my fridge and think it’s normal. But I guess everyone does. And isn’t that interesting? I wonder how much a person’s fridge is a reflection of their personality and their approach to food. Is my fridge empty? Or do I only make friends with people who have fridges heaving with food (there’s legs in that theory…).

This has prompted me to start a new semi-regular series here on Simple Provisions. I’m going to ask other bloggers, chefs, gardeners and anyone else interesting to open the door and let us look in their fridge. We’ll see if fridges reflect personalities and how people eat, or at the very least we get to be nosey parkers.

If you feel like playing along, you could win a copy of the new gorgeous magazine Alphabet Journal. (I’m super excited to have contributed to their first issue). Head to Instagram, follow me and post a photo of your fridge with the hashtags #lookinthefridge and #simpleprovisions and tell us the one weird thing you’re harbouring in there. I’ll select a winner next Wednesday at 9am Australian Eastern Standard Time, so get your fridge in before then.*

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who shared their fridge. The contest is now closed.

It seems unfair to ask others to do this if I haven’t revealed all. So here is an unedited, unstyled view of my fridge.

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How to Roast Vegetables for the Week

Recently I got back into my winter routine of roasting up a big batch of hearty veggies on the weekend, ready to use in meals throughout the week. Writing a food blog means that at least once a week I’m cooking something new and interesting, but most of the time, especially with a baby in the house, getting a meal on the table is just part of the daily routine, and strategies like this help make life a little easier.

Roasting a bunch of vegetables at once means that you have a map of the week’s meals already done, the crisper draw no longer harbours rubbery carrots, and you’re banking your daily vegetable quota ahead of time. Here’s how I prepare and roast my veg, then, I thought it might be cool to share what I’ve done with the veggies throughout the week. Head over to like Simple Provisions on Facebook to follow along over the coming days. Continue Reading

Grilled Kale and Chickpea Salad | Simple Provisions

My cousin set me the challenge of coming up with recipes for produce that she’s planting in veggie gardens right now. She’s the genius behind The Sage Garden, a company that encourages and teaches kids and their families to grow their own organic produce. Now that autumn leaves are dropping and mornings are getting frosty, the winter crop is being sown. Over the coming weeks kale, radish and silverbeet will shoot up and provide the basis for winter meals. I’m excited to come up with recipes for this gorgeous produce. You can follow our little experiment over on The Sage Garden’s Facebook page to get tips on planting, and also get recipes from my other talented cousin who is the chef and owner of The Devonshire restaurant in Sydney.

To get you inspired to plant kale, a gnarly winter green who can come off as bitter and tough but who’s really a softy at heart, here’s a recipe that is cooked under the grill (broiler) in less than 15 minutes. It’s a warm salad that is full of texture thanks to the magic of kale chips.

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Steamed Pudding with Honey and Thyme Plums

Last year my Aunty handed down a bag of my Grandma’s old cookbooks to me. The collection is an assortment of Women’s Weekly books from the 60s and 70s, cookbooks you get when you buy an appliance, handwritten recipes and clippings from the paper as well as a few very old, well-worn cookery books.

“Home Cookery for Australia” was printed in 1909, and I’m guessing it has now passed through the kitchens of four generations of my family. In it you’ll find sponge and scone recipes, as you’d expect, but it also features a chapter on invalid cookery (Calf’s Foot Jelly anyone?), “diet tables” which describe what to feed people with certain illnesses (the obese can only eat clear soups!) and a section on household cookery with recipes for hair wash and removing stains from marble.

The puddings chapter is full of short recipes that stretch a little butter, sugar and eggs a long way. Chopped suet, loaf sugar and breadcrumbs also pad out the ingredients list for simple sweets that come into being after an hour or so on the stovetop.

My Grandma used to make a jam steamed pudding that she’d have on the boil before beginning dinner. She no longer needed to refer to a recipe book to make it, it was a part of her, but seeing these recipes reminded me how much I loved that warm, dense sponge dripping in hot jam. To conjure up some nostalgia for Grandma’s cooking, especially since it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, I set about updating the turn-of-the-century steamed pudding into something a little more modern (let’s start with a “no suet in desserts” rule, eh?). Continue Reading

Soft-boiled egg with herbed soldiers and espresso glazed bacon

Australian coffee shops are having a moment in New York City. The laid-back approach to serious coffee, the casual yet efficient service and the fresh and light menu options have piqued the interest of New Yorkers, who are opting to try a flat white over a gallon of Starbucks.

Toby’s Estate, a Sydney-based coffee roasting company, opened a cafe in Williamsburg in 2012. I could see it from my apartment, and it would beckon to me, drawing me out the door and up the street to order a breakfast roll. I would sit at the sun-drenched communal table to enjoy softly scrambled eggs sitting on a small sourdough roll, with sharp, melted cheddar holding roasted tomatoes in place. The crowning glory was two strips of crispy bacon, glazed in an inspired blend of coffee, cardamom and maple syrup which resulted in a salty, sweet and bitter communion of flavours that I was unable to resist. So when I saw Sunday Suppers post a recipe for this bacon fantasy on their blog this week, I started plotting a new breakfast.

A “dip-in-egg” was a staple of my childhood. It was a breakfast treat, but also a dinner option for those not-very-hungry nights. Mum would use the egg cooker to produce perfectly boiled eggs and serve them in silver egg cups with white toast cut into soldiers on the side. A liberally buttered soldier would plunge into the yolk, causing an eruption of marigold that would pool on the plate for other soldiers to mop up. Bacon was usually cooked in the microwave, which resulted in a surprisingly crispy finish. With the Toby’s Estate bacon on my mind, I thought this comforting combination could do with an update. Continue Reading

Ravioli in Brodo

Last week I had lunch in an Italian cafe near my place. If you follow me on Instagram (I’d love you to!), you may have seen what I had. I couldn’t resist capturing the simple beauty of the meal, and giving a little eulogy on how good it was.

Morsels of tasty meat were hidden in folds of fresh pasta and suspended in a golden, flavourful chicken broth that had been showered with parmesan; ravioli in brodo.

The steaming bowl of brodo was served with crusty white bread on the side, ready to mop up the last of the broth. And mop it up I did, while planning how I could recreate this deliciousness. I asked for the secret to the broth, a rustic, cloudy stock that tasted like the cream of chicken soup my Nanna used to make. The answer was “necks”. Continue Reading

Rosewater Chicken

Being served a dish that is so good it makes you hunt down the recipe and make it again and again is such a gift. It’s like someone curating the world’s recipes for you, hand selecting the one that suits your taste and serving you a meal that is everlasting.

My aunt (hi Aunty Roe!) served this Karen Martini chicken dish at Christmas time and it had me going back for seconds. I’ve made it several times since, and with Easter gatherings imminent, I thought I’d share this Cinderella style dish that takes the humble chicken thigh and transforms it into a bejewelled goddess.

Chicken thighs are not the most glamorous of ingredients, but the darker, moist meat found on the thigh is full of flavour thanks to a higher fat content. You can pick up a tray of thighs cheaply, which makes them great for feeding a crowd. The list of ingredients for this recipe is long, but the process is simple: marinate, grill, dress, serve. The result is fragrant, sticky grilled chicken with a sweet and tangy dressing, crowned with a colourful array of fruit, nuts and herbs. Continue Reading

Polenta with Roast Pumpkin and Brown Butter | Simple Provisions

How many times per week do you think it’s acceptable to include brown butter in a meal? Three seems reasonable… right?

I made brown butter for the first time last week. A friend brought me some wild mushroom and garlic ravioli and I needed a quick sauce to go with it. Now, for those of you already in on how magical brown butter is, you can nod your head knowingly and smile a distant smile, remembering your first time. For the rest of us, this is a butter that grew up, got an expensive haircut and started annunciating its vowels more clearly. It’s sophisticated and elegantly simple.

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Smashed Figs with Labneh, Walnuts and Sumac | Simple Provisions

12 weeks ago my previous existence was thrown up into the air with the birth of baby Nell, and it’s now slowly resettling in a different configuration. My hair (and the rest of me, to be honest) doesn’t get washed as often, I now go down the baby aisle of the supermarket and my approach to cooking has simplified even further.

When time and available hands are restricted, good quality ingredients and big flavours come to the fore. I find myself buying interesting or strong flavoured ingredients to base a meal around, using pantry staples, frozen homemade stock and home-grown tomatoes, lettuce and herbs to fill it out. Halloumi and feta make simple salads more flavoursome, and having a bowl of cooked grains like quinoa, cous cous or freekeh in the fridge means the start of a meal is already done.

Using the produce of the season will help a simple meal pack a flavour punch. Fig trees are currently heavy with fruit, and I’m not one to miss an opportunity to relish the soft, deep purple and crimson sweetness on offer.

It’s the time of year when Summer is hiccuping out the door as Autumn stumbles in. Both seasons exist at once, with chilly mornings developing into glorious sunshine and days flip flop between warming soup or cooling salad weather. What better way to bridge the seasons than a salad full of earthy flavours and autumnal delights. Continue Reading

Maternity leave from the blog is almost over! This is the last Guest Post, which means I’ll be back in the kitchen imminently, and I’m looking forward to it. But before I do, Jonny and Ali, my friends and sometime bloggers at Honest Kitchen, have created a couple of gorgeous recipes with the last of the summer harvest. They’ve taken peaches, warmed them up and turned them into a fresh, flavoursome salad and a decadent dessert. It’s a double-dose last hoorah for summer! Enjoy.

Peach tarte tartin

One of the best parts of summer is the stonefruit – nectarines, apricots, plums and peaches. We are blessed in Victoria with an abundance of fruit that grows in the Goulburn Valley regions of Central Victoria. In peak season, we buy bag-loads of juicy, sun-speckled peaches at the farmers market. These peaches stay on the vine until perfectly ripe so they’re wonderfully juicy and delicious, but they become over ripe quickly, so we’re often looking for ways to make the most of these jewels of summer.

One way that we do this is by cooking them. Using heat with peaches brings out yet more of those summery flavours and is a terrific way to use less-than-perfect fruit. Even a hard, floury peach from the supermarket will shine when cooked.

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