ONCE UPON A TIME THIS WAS ACCEPTABLE. (You can consider this post an act of nostalgia, some thinly veiled vanity in regards to self improvement or simply some straight up lols fresh out of 2008.)

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad photo or bad photographer, just a bad attitude behind said photo or photographer. Armed with a fuji point-and-shoot as I travelled the globe almost 6 years ago I’d like to think the photos you see posted below were taken with both earnest intentions and a light heart and as such I feel it’s only right to give them the attention they deserve. Let’s transport ourselves back to a time where the food you ate was not a badge of honour nor was the dish you ordered a notch on your gluttonous bed post. It was part of the ordinary everyday and taking a photo of your dinner wasn’t a thing, a fad or a taboo; you could take a casual photo of it as if it were a friend or a cute dog. Auto mode! Turn on the flash! I would use flash all the time if I could!

These images retain a certain innocence, relics of an era before the complex and ubiquitous beast that is food blogging entered our precious lives.

They’re unappetising, poorly framed and ill-considered to anybody of this day and age; it’s funny how such simple notions become so dated (and offensive), huh? They represent documentation rather than collection so please enjoy, no, celebrate, something that would now be considered “a little bit shit”. Appreciate a simpler time with me, please.

IMG_1544

 

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Single Origin Roasters: where coffee rules and so does their salmon dish, the beards are abundant and the service isn’t just friendly, it’s a straight up party. Photo bombers run rampant (it’s a good thing). And now they’re open on Saturdays!

Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills

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Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums

 

I’d like to keep this short and sweet (much like the recipe I am about to post, hurr hurr). The other day, as time makes fools of us all, my kitchen had unexpectedly become the confused home of the dregs of two loaves of stale, rock-hard sourdough, a bottle of milk teetering on the brink of expiration in the fridge and a handful of sugar plums which were now sympathetically over ripening by its side, literally bursting at their seams with sweetness. So in a flurry of food blogger grandeur with help from some butter and eggs, from my oven poured one of the best impromptu desserts ever made – I’m talking repertoire for life with the added bonus of DRF (“dat rustic feel”) grade dessert. As much as I like to think I am the internet’s gift to cooking as each golden spoonful graced my golden mouth hole stroking my golden ego – the spectacle of this pud’ relies 99% on the producers all this good stuff was sourced from. So I’ve included a little list towards the end of this post.

If you’re reading this outside of sugar plum season, either omit or replace it with something else nice. The staler the bread the better – bask in the flecks of vanilla bean in every chewy mouthful. Be one with the just set custard. Get zen with all those things in your fridge which might have been thrown out and wasted otherwise.
 

Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
Bread and Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums

 

Bread + Butter Pudding with Sourdough and Sugar Plums
1/2 loaf stale sourdough
300ml milk
300ml cream
4 large eggs
125g sugar
1 generous vanilla bean
Enough butter to slather on your bread pieces
6 sugar plums, or however many you have
Icing sugar, to serve (optional)

1. With a knife, or hacksaw, divide sourdough into pieces. You can arrange them in your dish of choice to check you have enough but keep in mind they will become one with the milk (and shrink) once custard mixture is poured over.
2. Slather that bread with any amount of butter you please iIf you’re not all about that #cleaneating life, be generous) and arrange them in the dish, tetris style.
3. Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar and seeds of vanilla bean. Pour over the stale bread and allow to stand for an hour. You may need to do this in two parts and the bread soaks up the custard mixture. While this is happening, preheat oven to 180° and halve and de-seed the sugar plums.
4. Once bread is drenched and ready, scatter sugar plums on top of the bread, pushing a few a little further into the dish. Place in the oven for 35 minutes. When ready sprinkle with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Bread from Shepherd’s Bakehouse (pumpkin sourdough) and Rosetta Stone (seven seed sourdough)
Butter by Pepe Saya
Sugar plums from The Muscat Family Farm sourced by The Local Harvest Collective
Milk from Country Valley Dairy
Eggs from Holbrook Paddock

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Moroccan Citrus Salad

 

Blanket terms and generalisations for international cuisines forever rub me the wrong way. I still retain my delicate sensibilities by finding “Mediterranean salad” with some olives mixed in, “Greek style pasta” adorned with feta crumble, “Asian style salad” with a sesame seed garnish or “Arabic style lamb” with a smattering of pomegranate straight up offensive. Can we please stop pigeonholing dishes and defining a culture by the addition of one cliché ingredient? Sure, accessibility and all that, but one spiced Spanish-style sausage a paella does not make.

This week my bookshelf has been graced with The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy, and this citrus salad from page 68 is a far cry from the usual whack a pomegranate on it and call it ethnic food fare – it’s tangy, it’s fresh, it’s sweet, it’s zingy, it’s a little crunchy. My version varies tremendously from the original in terms of presentation (my mandolin and oranges of choice did not want to be friends) so, in classic Alana style, I’ve opted for the messy rustic approach.

This book is a wonderful collection of Middle Eastern recipes, and as aforementioned it isn’t the usual fusion fare – this is a genuine, heartfelt book with both classics, modern interpretations and personal adaptations and as someone who grew up alongside some of these dishes it is an absolute joy to read.

In an attempt to cease the stereotypical just add ____ for that easy, authentic flavour! style recipes I’m giving away one copy of The Jewelled Kitchen to inspire the inner Teta in all of you. To enter all you need to do is answer this simple question by leaving a comment below: what’s your favourite Middle Eastern dish? Blanket, authentic, fusion or offensive guilty pleasure, I don’t care. Local kebab? The most hectic kataifi? Shout it from the roof tops and shout it to me within the sweet confines of the internet.

Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad
Moroccan Citrus Salad

 

Many citrus fruits mentioned here are out of season so just replace them with whatever you like (the more grapefruit you use the more honey you may need, please heed my sour warning).

Moroccan Citrus Salad
(from The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy)

1 lime
1 orange
1 blood orange
1 pink grapefruit
1 pomegranate, seeded
A few of pistachios, roughly chopped
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
A few mint leaves
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

1. Using a sharp knife segment citrus fruit or use a mandolin to slice into fine pieces. Or cut however you like, whatever! Throw your citrus in a bowl with the pomegranate seeds.
2. Add orange blossom water and honey and give it all a stir. Add mint leaves, combine again, then serve in the bowl of your choice as neatly or as rustic as you like. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
3. Adorn with a generous dollop of yoghurt, sprinkle the pistachio shards and enjoy with a glass of mint tea (green tea + sugar + mint leaves).

I know I said no more blatant photo posts, but let’s face it, I’m the worst and am more than willing to shamelessly hurl my claws into the universal oh, I just moved house, I’m busy, life is hard excuse. In fact, I’ll shout it from the rooftops; I HAVE UNPACKED BOXES AND NEED TO PURCHASE 3M HOOKS, MY KITCHEN IS UNFAMILIAR AND MY COUCH WOULDN’T FIT UP THE STAIRS (true story). So, to celebrate my unceremonious return to Sydney’s inner-west (and the connection of my internet today), here are some photos of the newly founded and permanent residence of Sadhana Kitchen in Enmore.

Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen
Sadhana Kitchen

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Oh no, not another restaurant profile! I’m in the process of moving house and have therefore been eating everybody else’s food rather than lovingly preparing my own heartfelt and meaningful dishes before a mighty tripod. My insatiable appetite for posting #new #original #content cannot be subdued however so here are some photos for Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan’s latest venture, North Bondi Fish, taken in December last year just before their official opening (celeb chef power-up). If you see these images floating around anywhere think of me. Think of me fondly (or not).

North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
North Bondi Fish, Bondi

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Here’s a real feel of the day: Who am I? What am I? How does life? If I visit the new Black Star Pastry without posting photos, did I ever really take photos at all?? Are you there, klout?

Commissioned by Broadsheet, you can read/see more about it here!

Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery
Black Star Pastry, Rosebery

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Rosemary poached apricot and wine poached pear crostini

Imagine telling our famished ancestors that some people these days create plates of food just to improve their SEO. “Oh, this isn’t a plate, it’s an enamelware prop“. “Can I eat yet?”, “no! I need to take a photo!”

I’m not one for profound reflection but if 2013 has taught me anything it’s that of the fine art (and dark art) of the facade.

I write in my about section that the “true value of food as a homely and generous act” is perhaps being lost amongst 1) the desire to articulate every single thing we cook, and 2) the need to document every single thing we eat. Articulation takes time whereas hot food on a plate has a considerably short shelf life as we collect our thoughts and adjust the settings in our cameras.

We’re shrouded in duplicate information of the hottest new Sydney spots and are bombarded with images of staged food. Occasionally people who make food at home for themselves/friends/family choose not to live in the delicious moment and instead place a board behind their dinner, delicately locate a fork at a whimsical angle and take a photo. Sometimes if the food goes cold it goes into the bin.

I’ve been guilty of this myself, though less so than I used to, so I understand, but I find the whole “recipe blogging” process irritating if it becomes a wasteful act.

Cutlery shopping is now “prop sourcing”, whipping up something new is now “recipe developing” and I feel the whole scene is becoming too self important with a disregard of spontaneity and generosity which, with food, is really important.

So my faux-revalation for the coming year is; keep it real and drop the act and facade of stylised food. Once in a while ditch the props, don’t worry if your photo isn’t perfect and relish in the now of documenting how things look rather than how you’d like them to look as you’re sharing them. Don’t listen to what you’ve heard, using flash can be awesome (Vice, are you listening?? I’m cool. Somebody’s even throwing up their rude finger in one of these photos). By all means go snap happy, just don’t berate your friends for eating a dish you generously prepared for them because you need to style it with a different spoon. Hands look better in food photos anyway and honest images speak volumes alongside the constantly artificial and staged.

SO! Here are some crostini I prepared for NYE (sans toasting, no time and too much effort); wine poached pears with a holy trinity of cheese and rosemary poached apricots with ricotta. They’re not heaps beautiful of typically photoworthy but that’s ok! My friends enjoyed them and that’s all that matters. Someone even shouted “ALANA ARE YOU BLOGGING?!” from the balcony as some flash spilled from the kitchen, and that’s ok too, because I was only “blogging” for a few seconds. Happy 2014.













For the poached rosemary apricots
Collect some generous sprigs of rosemary for your backyard (or local store). Dissolve a cup of sugar in four cups of water in a pan over a stove and allow the rosemary to infuse. Meanwhile halve the apricots and remove the pips. Simmer in the rosemary syrup for around 5 minutes and transfer to a baking dish with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with some caster sugar and place under a hot grill until tops are burnished. Meanwhile, reduce the poaching liquid and you’ll have a nice rosemary syrup to use for drinks and other things. Assemble by spreading ricotta on some sliced baguette, then an apricot half, then some fresh rosemary leaves.

For the wine poached pears and cheese
Dissolve three quarters of a cup of sugar in some nasty red wine you have floating around the house in a saucepan and add three sliced pears to simmer. Once tender (15ish minutes), remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool. Combine 150g of cream cheese, 200g of feta and 80g of stinky stilton into a holy trinity cheesy spread (these are approximate measurements, add to taste). Assemble by spreading stinky goodness on bread then adoring with a couple of pieces of sliced pear.

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Mars Bar Slice

The Aussie “slice” is the lowest common denominator of cooking. Basic, ugly and entirely void of class it’s a “dessert”, or a black hole of effort, that exists only to be ridiculed (unless legitimately prepared by a legitimately busy parent… maybe). The butt of all my culinary jokes, the humble sloice is an atrocity that should be thrown into the bin or into the ocean or into a bin in the ocean.

This being said, my mum, a tremendous cook, occasionally made Mars Bar slice when I was younger and at 26 and child-less I thought it was as good a time as any to show my friends how much I truly care about them by serving an effortless (not a compliment) yet entirely iconic slab of chocolate and butter. I love you, guys.

And speaking of things I don’t enjoy (slices, not my friends), can we stop with the Christmas-in-Winter paraphernalia? Each and every one of my senses has been clogged with snowing icing sugar on cakes (no), cinnamon in everything (nope) and Santa hats because clearly we require extra warmth this time of year. I’m entirely guilty of this in my debut year as a WordPress-wielder but I’ve since moved on. Incorrect seasonal recipes deserve a swift kick into the appropriate hemisphere because this is Australia and all good Australians should respect their country by making a hideous slice at least once in their lives rather than preparing Winter desserts in Summer and anointing them with currants and fake reindeer. Put a mango on it or something.

I used a recipe from Best Recipes; it sucked when out of the fridge for a little while so try using less butter if you wanna give it a red hot go. Embrace the culinary filth, showcase your lack of finesse by doing a terrible job of cutting it into neat squares, stack them in a little tupperware box and take to a picnic to share around. Enjoy the warm embrace of cheap, melted chocolate in and around your mouth and all over your fingers. I dare you. It’s the easiest way to enjoy a genuine slice of Australiana. It’s gross but it’s the best… somehow.

Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice

Mars Bar Slice (from Best Recipes)
3 x 72g Mars Bars
90g salted butter
3 cups Rice Bubbles
200g milk chocolate

1. Line a tin, or your best Bessemer, with baking paper.
2. Melt Mars Bars and butter in the microwave, stir until smooth (the nougat part of the Mars Bars probably won’t budge though). Pour over the Rice Bubbles in a heat-proof bowl and combine until evenly distributed and the cereal covered. Pour into lined tin and press down until even (a potato masher works a treat for this).
3. Melt chocolate in microwave and pour over flattened Rice Bubble mixture. Smooth out and place in fridge for a few hours until firm enough to slice into awkward squares.

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I am only just warming to the disposition of walking around with a camera slung over my shoulder with purpose and confidence, however, when placed in a room full of fellow camera-wielders I begin to feel a little nervous, like ants are crawling in and around my headspace telling me to put the darn thing down. “The human-to-camera ratio all up in here is way out of balance, it’s almost 1:1! You’re part of the problem! Somebody will call you out as a blogger or shamelessly take a photo of your arse again! Photos-of-people-taking-photos-of-food-dot-tumblr-dot-com!! Stahp!“, etc etc.

Regardless, I took some photos in an act of peer-pressure on the day and had forgotten about them until now. Here are some casual moments from my nook at Good Food Month’s at The cook, the stylist the photographers… and the breakfast event in October. I won free tickets, cheers Good Food.

The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast

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