Category Archives: cookie-foodie antics

cauliflower and cake in the same sentence?

It’s my first cookie-foodie post. Is this how it begins? You see a recipe you think is awesome, you try it out then get addicted to trying out other recipes and before you know it, you can cook?

Here’s hoping.

I didn’t used to cook much but in the last two months, that’s changed a fair bit. No mean feat when you share a kitchen with a psycho Asian mother who seems hellbent on cooking everything with meat.

As with most lifestyle changes, recently my father was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic though (and I’m no stranger to chronic illness so please don’t think this means I am not taking my father’s health seriously) this has been a mixed blessing of sorts. It means more vegies in meals!

So that’s given me a little bit of rein in the kitchen. Where previously my parents would wrinkle their noses at the things I chose to cook and preferred to eat ‘their own food’ (ouch), they’re now more accepting. Meatless Mondays, I’m looking at you!

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake I’d made one time before but felt that it had far too many eggs so I altered the recipe ever so slightly. The recipe I obtained in Ottolenghi’s column for The Guardian, ‘The New Vegetarian’. And no, of course it didn’t look anything like the photo in the recipe but it was well-received: I made it when my friends Jourdan and Klara had a barbeque at their place and it was pronounced “cheesy, eggy, cauliflowery goodness”.

Onto the recipe – you will need:

  • 1 medium cauliflower, 650g-700g (anything up to 1kg works though)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled
  • 100g olive oil
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary (I use a fair few branches as it grows in my garden)
  • 10 medium free-range eggs (I reduced this down to 8 and it’s still fine)
  • 20g chopped basil (I tend to use a lot more)
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric (I reduce this to 1/4tsp because I found initial quantity made it too ‘musty’)
  • 220g grated parmesan, or other mature cheese (make sure to use non-animal rennet cheese)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Melted butter, for greasing
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds (or black onion seeds or plain sesame seeds; I used these much more liberally than the recipe calls for!)

Preheat the oven to around 180C/350F. Thoroughly wash the cauliflower and cut florets off it – it doesn’t matter if they’re a bit too big because you will need to boil them for about 15 minutes or so until soft. I cut fairly big florets as they break up a little when they’re boiled.


Time to prepare the mixture for the cauliflower to go into. Chop the onions roughly, but reserve some rings before you go hack on it. Of course, I totally didn’t do that the first time around. The rings go on the cake at the end to make it all pretty-like. Please excuse my appalling chopping utensil. I have something better now, honest…


Gently saute the chopped red onion and rosemary for about eight or so minutes. I like to go overboard with the rosemary because it smells wonderful! When that’s finished, set it aside to cool – you must let it cool sufficiently so it doesn’t ‘cook’ the egg mixture to which you will add it.


Whip up your eggs (remember, I’ve gone from 10 to 8 eggs) and basil. When you think the above mixture is cool enough, add that too.


Sift the flour, baking powder and turmeric into a large bowl. Gradually add the parmesan to this mixture then a generous amount of cracked black pepper and just a little bit of salt (I tend to favour little salt and used 1/2 tsp but you can use up to 1 1/2 tsps).


Combine the egg & onion mixture with the flour & cheese one gently and mix well to eliminate lumps. I added the dry stuff to the wet stuff in small amounts and mixed through and kept repeating till it was all mixed through.


Gradually add your well-drained cooked cauliflower florets into the above mixture and stir with care. At this point you should see that some of the florets will break, as they’re nice and soft from being boiled. This is why I recommend that you break your florets up into big-arse florets!


Grab a nice quiche-like dish and liberally line with butter. Very generously sprinkle black sesame seeds to coat the butter as if your life depended on it. On my first attempt, I did use baking paper as the recipe said, but it was really difficult to get the bloody stuff off the finished cooked cake. I was adamant that I wouldn’t make that same mistake again!


Spoon your cauliflower cake mix into prepared dish and smoosh it in to fill it up. Yep, ‘smoosh’ is the official word here.


Remember those pretty Spanish onion rings you set aside? Arrange them on your mix all pretty-like.


It’s ready to go into the oven! The recipe says 45 minutes, but I’ve found anywhere from 45-75 minutes has been needed. When it’s done, it should look like this:


I covered it up with a teatowel and set about to our destination, where I eventually cut it up like so:


Share with friends and/or family. When I make it at home, I serve it with a mixed leaf salad dressed with seeded mustard, balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.

Seriously, even my father who is a ravenous carnivore couldn’t stop going on about how nice it looked and how good it tasted. He was pretty sure someone else had made it!

I’m learning. Many thanks to my Sydney bestie L for the photos.

cookie-foodie wanksters get their food on!

Most of us would agree that having a meal prepared by people you know makes it just that bit more special. I can still remember the look on my friend Colin’s face when some good friends of his conspired to make him the perfect birthday cake:

surprise birthday cake for @coliwilso made by @unearthlymike & @indigohalo

So when I heard that two of my favourite cookie-foodies Penny and Billy were going to be part of a Food Bloggers’ Dinner at Miss Jackson in St Kilda, I was giddy with excitement!

miss jackon...our kind host

Many a cookie-foodie and eatie-foodie from the Melbourne foodie community was in attendance, and no, not strictly food bloggers! We all had the pleasure of hobnobbing outdoors and being handed starters and drinks upon arrival. I saw a couple of Vale Ales go out but for the most part, introductory drinks were NV Yarraburn Premium Cuvee Brut from the Yarra Valley and the fairly new White Rabbit White Ale. Though White Rabbit Brewery is based in Healesville, Victoria, it’s actually owned by Matilda Bay. (edit: my mistake, White Rabbit is owned by Little Creatures, not Matilda Bay. Thanks to @sawks for the correction)

Anyway, our starters! The first two were pretty representative of what you’d find as nibblies in swanky Melbourne parts – sage and white anchovy fritters in beer batter with aioli, and bresaola with goat’s cheese and cornichons on sourdough.

bresaola with goat's cheese & cornichons on sourdough

sage & white anchovy fritter in beer bater aioli

Initially, I was going to say that my only criticism of these starters was that the sage and anchovy fritters were a dead ringer for the exact same dish that I had at The European, then I thought: wait…if I am likening this to a dish I’ve had made by pros, then Mat and Jess were doing something right! Very, very right.

As for the bresaola…well, you know me: I am very unlikely to ever say a word against cured meats. It’s pretty much the only thing that is keeping me from forswearing meat for good. They were delicious morsels, though in scant supply.

The true angel of the canapés however, was the slow cooked quail egg with a pea veloute and pork crackling crumbs. Thanks to the lovely and quick-fingered Em of one of my favourite food blogs “…it pleases us” (meeting her was pretty bloody exciting!), I was able to scarf one down while poor Tristan snapped photos of all and sundry. He got one eventually, of course.

slow cooked quail egg with pea veloute & pork crackling crumbs

The pea soup had a velvety texture and tasted magnificent. Coupled with the quail egg which was indeed cooked to perfection, you had a seriously decadent starter. And the pork crackling crumbs! Not just ornamental, they imbued the savoury shot with the taste and smell of roast pork straight out of the oven. This little shot of heaven stayed with me a long time!

The rabid masses were momentarily sated and so it was time for us to be seated. Tristan and I were fortunate enough to be seated next to the lovely Maryann and her friend Alex, the latter of whom being a non-Twittering foodie! We all discussed the menu and debated fondly what our food blogger chums had in store for us.

Next up on the chopping block was Penny with the entrée – double braised ox tongue served on polenta.

double braised ox tongue served on polenta

It was at this point that I met another food blogger sitting opposite us in a neighbouring alcove called Bryan. He was a bit nervous about eating ox tongue. I personally found the ox tongue to be…well, just like red meat, but more tender. Though I do confess it would be harder to eat if it arrived on one’s plate resembling a whole tongue! This dish was wonderfully rich though the polenta was just a tad too stodgy. Having said that, I’d be perfectly happy to be served this as a main.

The team at Miss Jackson were responsible for wine matching the courses and with Penny’s dish they served a glass of the 2009 Hermanos Cataluna Tempranill/Mataro/Garnacha, Dromana.

Billy’s up next to bat, with the main: miso pork loin with panko crust & cider pork belly with baby beetroot & carrots. As if that wasn’t enough there were sides too – tart radish and cucumber slaw, luxurious rosemary and duck fat potatoes and lastly, asparagus with anchovy butter which was the first of the sides to disappear! Coincidentally, it’s the only side Tristan didn’t seem to get a photo of…

miso pork loin with panko crust & cider pork belly with baby beetroot & carrots

rosemary & duck fat roasted potatoes and radish and cucumber slaw

The pork belly, as promised, was tantalisingly infused with a slightly sweet cider taste. The pork loin was beautifully tender and its panko crust was a fabulous juxtaposition in texture. Even with the sides we were all ridiculously spoilt.

Our restaurateur hosts accompanied this part of the meal with a 2009 Holly’s Garden Pinot Gris. I might add very kindly that for all wines served on the night, we were all more than welcome to have more than one glass. That’s hospitality, yo!

At this stage, a fair few of us were probably fairly full and so Ed’s palate cleanser of green tea and mint granita cheekily soused with gin was indeed welcome. Also, it looks well classy, eh? I like that if you indeed wanted to, you could jolly well make this at home. I might try my hand at it this summer.

green tea & mint granita soused with gin

melbourne food bloggers' dinner menu

It’s time for the last course…dessert! Miss Jackson’s chef Sarah was responsible for three hip-widening treats – a trifle with strawberry liqueur and white chocolate mousse, the cutest little crème brulée tart with strawberry and aniseed jam and lastly a strawberries and cream semi-freddo sandwich. Can you guess that the theme for dessert was strawberries? Mmm!


Despite being full to the gills, upon the first mouthful of trifle, I regained my second stomach reserved for desserts, just like when you were a kid. Apparently, I’m a bit silly when it comes to eating trifles and didn’t do Sarah’s trifle creation justice because I didn’t mix up the layers. However, the other two were polished off with me oohing and ahhing. Despite being quite wine-hazy at this stage, I do remember that the 2009 Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato served was like drinking liquid strawberry sherbet! It was zesty, sour and sweet all at the same time and set off the sweetness of dessert excellently.

It was still quite late when I left but the party was still kicking! I wonder how many sore heads there were the morning after…?

I’m still in awe of my food blogging friends and their culinary prowess: remember, these are folks who by and large are not in the food industry. They have full-time jobs that are relatively unrelated. However, food is a passion for all of them and this night was definitely designed to showcase that. It was an absolute honour to be wined and dined by you all. It was most gracious of Miss Jackson to open up their place to house such an event – it was a bit of a foodie-love-in!

not so pale in comparison

You might recall a while back I posted a review of a Melbourne-based beer (!!!) zine called Stubby Buddy that I happened upon in Sticky Institute’s mail order department. At the time, I actually purchased volumes 1 and 2. My fellow Melburnian beer blogging chums @jayelde of Beer Bar Band and @jkr442 of The Salving Font were speculating about the third volume’s release. I jumped into the Twitter conversation and said, oh wow, do you guys know about that zine too?!

Turns out they found out about it on this here humble blog, and gently pressed for a review of the second volume, so now’s the time to oblige them.

Stubby Buddy zine vol 2

Though the zine as a medium is usually a publication put out for general fun and enjoyment, again, just like in volume 2 of Stubby Buddy, you would be remiss to think it an amateur publication. Before we get to the meat of the zine (pale ale reviews), there’s an intro discussing the then recent liquor licensing laws that have affected the livelihood of small night venues that have live entertainment. Most notably affected by this was stalwart music venue The Tote in Collingwood which is now back in operation.

Then we get a sneak peak into the head of Dave Bonington, the brewer and co-founder of Mountain Goat Brewery in Richmond. This got me all excited because the Stubby Buddy staff interview him about their organic Steam Ale (which I enjoyed a fair few pints of before winter kicked in, ooh yes!). It’s excellent timing for me as Dave will be a guest at the next Local Taphouse St Kilda Ale Stars on July 20th.

After the interview, they give ratings on the Mountain Goat range – in fact, they rate my favourites the Steam Ale and the Surefoot Stout quite highly. I know true beer drinkers love the Hightail Ale but it’s still too heavy for me. Incidentally, the zinesters offer an excellent tip – try Hightail Ale with Surefoot Stout for an ‘awesome black-and-tan’. Wonder if the Goat will make one up for me if I go down? I’ll be sure to ask!

The first issue had a few cider reviews, and this issue has expanded on it. They review some of the more well-known suspects like Coldstream, Pipsqueak and Mercury and have a whole bunch of ones I’ve never heard of. I especially want to try Rahona Valley Vineyard’s Bob’s cider – a super dry at a whopping 10.2%! Anybody know where I can get it?

If you don’t know all that much about pale ales, don’t fret as there’s a page devoted to the appropriate schooling in which they manage to take good-natured digs at everyone – apparently the French make up for their cowardice with good booze as is evidence by a more fiddly version of the pale ale, the bière de garde (which would translate fairly literally as ‘beer for keeping’. Atticus Finch’s inaugural Beer School taught me that it’s quite nourishing for the working peasants). They also refer to Little Creatures as ‘girly’.

Then the reviews – very, very extensive and entertaining. I laughed out loud upon reading the following description of my previously loved Coopers Pale Ale (I am now a true man: I prefer the sparkling. There’s hope for me yet!)

Lacks depth but is very accessible. Like U2. Can’t be edgy anymore because it’s too popular. Kudos for being able to cellar it. Good bang for the buck.

I laughed so much at the U2 comparison that I made my better half stop his grown-up programmadore coding and listen as I read it out aloud. Still, I have a soft spot for the Coopers Pale Ale. I drank many a six-pack in the first summer I discovered the radness that was non-commercial beer (yes, yes, I realise Coopers is fairly commercial…cut me some slack, I’m talking about my n00b days…).

Many of the reviews on the beers and ciders are like this – cheeky, a little bit technical and to the point. There’s also a good article on Victorian pub pool rules, some beer snacks and the column ‘Barfly’s Rant’. I may have forgotten to mention that the back page is handy too – photocopy it and keep it on your person next time you go out for a serious tipple…

Stubby Buddy, back cover

This bit you might like to keep on your fridge – after you’ve filled it out.

Stubby Buddy, back cover

If you want to get in touch with the writers and give them your love, they are reachable on stubbybuddyzine at gmail dot com or check out the Facebook fan page.