Archive for month: December, 2009

Christmas Eve

30 Dec
December 30, 2009

I always felt spoilt as a kid as I was lucky to have two Christmases. First one was Christmas Eve with my Dad’s family, the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc. Then the wake up Christmas morning to see what Santa had planted under the tree at home and a traditional baked turkey dinner. Both were magical to me as a kid.

Christmas Eve was special. You would arrive at my great grandmother’s house and deposit the presents under the tree and as there were quite a few family members, ohhh wow was there a mountain. Nibbles and drinks went around as adults caught up with each other. The children, well we just analysed the pressies from a distance, while playing and helping the adults out where needed for getting the food on the table.

Before the time came to finally see what bounty awaited us, carols had to be sung. Okay, major intimidation time for me. My cousins both did dance and singing lessons so they were the adapted little performers. Moi on the other hand, closest I got to singing in front of an audience was my hair brush in front of my dressing table mirror or hymns at school assembly every morning (I went for many years to ATYP so I was great at smiling and miming). So mycousins would perform as expected and I would be pressured into joining them. Though I will admit when all the family were singing together it was a wonderful thing which I do cherish and if I close my eyes I can still hear the various voices of those departed and those still present.

After carols the kids got to distribute the presents to everyone else, then and only then, were we able to check out our loot. I think there was some enjoyment had by certain adults, watching us being tortured by making us have to wait for the presents for such a length of time.

It wasn’t just the presents that were bountiful, there was food, massive amounts of food. My great grandmother’s dining table would be groaning under the weight of the most glorious array of food. There would be pork schnitzel, dill stuffed eggs, herring, mushrooms (my grandmother’s speciality), chicken, salads, terrines, the list just went on and on. Then there would be a big dessert spread of cheesecakes, almond cakes and more. It was an incredible sight, the food was fantastic and traditional.

With a little sadness things have changed a great deal. My great grandmother and grandmother have both passed away as well as a few other family members. The cousins have grown up and we have gone a separate directions, so Christmas Eve does not exist in the form for me as it use to as a child and young adult.

Christmas Eve is still extremely special to me. These days it is celebrated at my Mum and Dad’s place and is just immediate family. It is funny how things change, on Christmas Eve it is now the traditional meal that we use to have on Christmas day as a family, and Christmas day is usually the big spread at my place or another family members’ on hubby’s side.
Mum prepares a lovely meal, there is an entree, usually Mum tries something new or goes for an old favourite. The Main meal is generally the same, turkey, roast potatoes, some other vege that tickles Mum’s fancy and the coveted red cabbage.

My Mum made a comment to Dad this year before I turned up, “Sara will walk straight to the stove, stir the red cabbage and taste it”. She was right, I did, until she mentioned it I did not realise I had my own little red cabbage tradition going!

Mum’s Red Cabbage

2 rashers of bacon (finely diced)
1 large onion (finely diced)
1/4c brown sugar
1t salt

1/4c white wine vinegar
1/8t powdered cloves

1/4t sugar
2 x 500g cans of red cabbage
1/2 cup red wine
1/4t caraway seeds

In a heavy based pot fry bacon over medium head until the fat runs. Add onions and cook until they have softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in remaining ingredients, except the caraway seeds, and cook covered for 30 minutes, giving it a stir now and then. Season to taste and add caraway seeds if desired – trust me it is desired :)

For nibbles with drinkies Mum made her bacon and egg tarts, guacamole served with corn chips as well as a red chilli dip.

Entree was a lovely prawn cocktail, served with a very moreish chilli cocktail sauce.

The carving of the turkey, and what an incredibly moist one it was. Orange, butter and other secret herbs and spices were placed under the skin to add to the flavour.

Roasted crispy fluffy centred potatoes and caramelised parsnip, both lovely.

Two, four, six, eight, bog in don’t wait.

For dessert Mum made a white chocolate cheesecake.

Thank you Mum for a wonderful Christmas Eve meal.



Better Late Than Never – Bloggers Xmas Party

29 Dec
December 29, 2009

It was with much excitement and pleasure that I opened an email from Helen (Grab Your Fork)and Suze (Chocolatesuze) inviting me and other Sydney food bloggers to the Sydney Food Bloggers’ Christmas Party. It was with more excitement and nerves that I responded yes.

We were requested to bring a plate (savory or sweet) and a quirky or food related gift for the Kris Kringle. Easy you may say, HA! This was the first time I was to meet any of my fellow bloggers and to be honest I was nervous. What food was I going to take? I knew that every single one of them would have a camera and that the event would be blogged, talk about pressure!

I ended up deciding on taking piragi. Something from the heart and I hoped different. Plus how can you ever go wrong with bacon?

The event was held in Hyde Park, Sydney on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we were lucky that Sydney turned on its best weather for us all.

With nerves a flying I approached what looked like a group of food bloggers. The mass amount of food and cameras sort of gave it away. Why I was nervous I have no idea, what an amazingly friendly, lovely, welcoming group of people.

Before we all tucked in to the amazing spread of food everyone happily took photos of what was on offer and another important photo was taken as well, the group shot to celebrate this moment taken by Simon (above).

Part of the amazing spread (above), you can see Helen’s Elvis cupcakes in the bottom right hand corner. These little delights were apparently based on a snack favoured by Elvis called fools gold, a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with bacon, peanut butter and jam. Yes the cupcakes had bacon in them. The combination of peanut butter frosting and the bacon was a lovely salty/sweet sensation.

More food…. I did say there was a lot of it, and all so delicious.

And more food (above) …… you can seen Elli’s (Almost Bourdain) wonton cups filled with roast duck (I am a sucker for roast duck and will admit to having more than one), Peter’s (Souvlaki for the Soul) choc bickies with white choc icing, Denea’ssweet potato latkes and Simon’s (The Heart of Food) chicken wings.

Billy’s champagne, longan and gold leaf jelly, very decadent. He also made a Momofuku Bo Ssam (pork) which I sadly missed out on, but was told was to die for.

Gingerbread, mince tarts, mini hot dogs and the most gorgeous little cakes form Ya Ya’s Yum Yums. Lobo from Ya Ya’s also made a delicious dark choc rocky road, a little bit too moorish!

The adorable assortment of goodies, honey jumbles, chocolate crackles and fairy bread from Chocolatesuze.

The Kris Kringle was a hoot. We got to choose a pressie by numbers. Loved the rules. Choose a pressie and open it, if you are not happy and you see a pressie that someone else has opened, please feel free to steal theirs and then they get to choose a new one. Well there were two particular presents that were the hot item of the day, the main one being a face plate and the other one (which we thought could of been a fish the way it was wrapped) was a Japanese omlette pan. To be honest if that had been opened before i picked mine I may have stolen it, it was just so cute.

A big thank you to Helen and Suze for organising 50 bloggers and a fantastic event. The name tags were a fantastic addition to a newbie like me, made mingling so much easier as I had read most of my fellow bloggers blogs before hand.

It was a fantastic afternoon, I waddled away having met an amazing bunch of people and some new friends.

Sushi Popper

13 Dec
December 13, 2009

Sunday morning and just doing a little mindless trolling of the web whilst eating breakfast when I came across the Sushi Popper.

It is manufactured by a USA company, Popper Foods LLC based in New York and Las Vegas.

Interesting concept, which apparently is a green option as millions of trees are not cut down each year to make chop sticks. Good in theory, but when you have a roll this size, who uses chopsticks? If anything to me there is more packaging than on your run of the mill jumbo roll which is just a bit of plastic around the outside.

It is a novel concept though. The soy sauce comes in a tube at the side of the packet which it seems then coverts to your stick to push your sushi out of the package to eat. They offer quite a number of flavours, from your run of the mill tuna and salmon to slightly different flavours like spicy crab mango cilantro (coriander for us Aussies) and garlic shrimp.
They also can tailor poppers specifically to your marketing needs, packaging to reflect your company for example.

The market that they are aiming for are places where sushi was difficult to stock before, but I must admit most the places they mention as hard to stock places I have seen sushi before. Must admit not in space stations, they should contact Sir Richard Branson.

The are currently trying to branch out and looking for international partners, so you never know you may see sushi poppers popping up in Aus soon.

Really it all comes down to taste and freshness and having one on a shelf in a tube makes me wonder how long it has been sitting around for. Now living in Sydney, we are spoilt with fresh sushi ever which way, is so easy to get, so that makes the tube not an option for me. Now, if it came to me on a flight or something like that, it would work.

Can’t give this one a belly rumble as I have no idea how they taste, but I give them a big thumbs up for being creative and can see it finding a niche market.


12 Dec
December 12, 2009

Piragi is something that I make every Christmas. It is traditional, my grandmother and my great grandmother use to make it. It is part of where I come from and who I am.

Piragi is not a traditional Latvian Christmas food, but I can understand why it became so in my family. Traditionally piragi is made around the 24th of June in Latvia. It is made to celebrate the summer solstice in a festival called Jani. Saying this, piragi finds itself at most Latvian celebrations, it is just too yummy to have once a year. I also tend to make them at Easter.

The word diet and piragi do not go together. It is made with fatty bacon, don’t even bother making it with the healthier for you short-cut bacon with all fat trimmed off. DOES NOT WORK!! This is not an every day food so don’t try and make them healthy. The amount of time that goes into making them you would be cheating yourself by doing so. Read more →

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

12 Dec
December 12, 2009

White Christmas is not part of my normal Christmas cooking repertoire. Friday I was in the 12 items of less lane at Coles after work on my way home and picked up a bucked of Coles brand White Christmas as temptation was staring me in the face. Mental note to self, ask Mum if I was one of those horrible screaming kids at the checkout that wanted that purposely placed choc bar.

Anyway, now an adult I can just succumb to product placement every once and while and on Friday I did. Good thing and a bad thing that I did. Bad thing, paid $6 for a bucked of not so great White Christmas, good thing as I thought “hey I recon I could do a lot better myself”. Sadly the Coles option lacked what I feel is an important part of White Christmas, cherries. Read more →

Chilli Mud Crab

12 Dec
December 12, 2009

I am running behind in my posts, so apologies for that but things have just gotten away from me with Christmas approaching.

Chilli Mud Crab……. insert Homer drool………. yummy!!

This is a tried and tested recipe of mine, well adapted from a Chilli Lobster recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s “The Cook’s Companion” which Stephanie based on a recipe from Violet Oon of Singapore. So who knows if my adaptation is actually closer for further away from Violet’s original recipe? Read more →