Tortilla Soup

Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching so we all need to up our game and move beyond tacos and burritos as a celebration of Central and South American cuisine. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico to commemorate the victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla. It is not the day that marks their independence as a nation, that’s September 16th. Rather, it celebrates the Mexican Resistance’s victory over a superior French force backed by Napoleon. It’s a symbolic victory and not even a National Holiday in Mexico.

The day has since been hijacked by the alcohol industry as a ploy to celebrate Hispanic culture outside of Mexico. Mexican culture is so much more that cerveza (beer) and margaritas. There is a diverse cuisine that has regional flavours and techniques suited to their climatic conditions. A vibrant street food scene has been taken by their chefs to the world of haute cuisine with three restaurants in the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants serving Mexican food.

Pati Jinich, Mexico’s version of Jamie Oliver, says that everyone needs to have their own version of Tortilla Soup. I agree. I discovered this dish more than 20 years ago when I was living in South Florida, USA. It’s a great way to make use of leftover tortillas and tomatoes that have ripened from salad to cooking stage. It’s a light soup that has the ability to be refreshing on a summer evening and warming for a winter’s lunch.

Tortilla soup email

Tortilla soup is refreshing on a summers day or a hearty winter warmer.

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Migraineur’s Hot Cross Buns

I only discovered hot crossed buns about 10 years ago. They were not part of my childhood growing up in America so it wasn’t until I met Stuart that I learned about this traditional bun served at Easter. He loved them but they are a minefield for migraine sufferers. I had to completely re-dux every recipe that I found and it’s taken me a good five years to finally perfect it. I’m delighted to share it with you.

Hot cross bun recipe 3

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Mango Scallops

One of Stuart’s favourite dishes is scallops. I, on the other hand, are not so much of a fan. It works for us because that means there’s more for him and scallops are best served seared, so it doesn’t take long to pull together a spectacular meal. You could say it’s a win-win.

Mango Scallops on the grill

Seared scallops with mango are a great addition to a seafood barbecue.

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Chocolatey Macadamia Nut Brownies: A Valentine’s Day Treat

Stuart and I were wandering through the Northside Produce Market last weekend making our mandatory stop at Black Star Pastry. Christopher Thé’s well known Sydney patisserie serves up not only the most photographed cake in the world, it’s also a mighty fine bakery. Black Star is so popular and have such loyal customers, I’m surprised that they still do the local markets. Every month I hold my breath hoping that they will still have their stall in the back corner of the market. Happy that they still come over this side of the Sydney Harbour bridge, but surprised none the less.

BSP-SWC_5402-web

The most photographed cake in the world is not Migraine-friendly but my macadamia nut brownies are.

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Migraineur’s Garlic Prawns

The traditional food for me at Christmas is prawns. For Stuart it’s ham and I’ve written about finding a nitrate-free ham previously here. It’s a good Christmas story if you are looking for a light read. But back to me and my need for prawns on the table at Christmas.

Garlic prawns ready to eat

All these prawns need is some crusty bread and a fork.

Growing up we had steamed prawns on Christmas Eve. Small batches were lovingly steamed over beer with healthy lashings of Old Bay Seasoning. They were served up hot with traditional cocktail sauce for dipping. Luckily when I moved to Australia I discovered that prawns are a Christmas tradition here as well. Australians consume a massive 45,000 tonnes of prawns over the festive season.

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Balsamic Lamb Cutlets

The hunter gatherer in me prefers to dine on lots of little dishes. I find this method of cooking especially suited to the holidays since you can cook as much of any dish that you need. It’s great for when people just pop in for a visit only, you are enjoying their company so much that they stay for a meal too – a quick throw together because of all the other holiday activities.

Lamb cutlets deconstructed

One of my go to dishes are lamb cutlets. Racks of lamb ribs are individually cut and the bones Frenched for easy handling as finger food. This most tender and flavoursome meat is the most expensive cut, making it a special treat. Like a really special treat, especially if there are kids around who don’t appreciate how expensive they are, but do appreciate the taste. I used to sacrifice my portion to the youngest at the Christmas Tree Trimming Tapas. It’s nice now that everyone is big enough to share the dish evenly across all the guests. Keep on reading!


Easy Meatballs

I learned to make meatballs from my Nonna. Her spaghetti and meatballs was my go to birthday dinner. It still is.

These are not my Nonna’s meatballs. My Nonna use to start making the meatballs after lunch. They would cook in a pot on the stove needing to be delicately stirred every 20 minutes or so, so that the sauce wouldn’t catch and burn. It required a lot of adult attention because little helpers ended up breaking the meatballs up into small bits. Mine get baked in the oven at a low temperature requiring no care once they go in the oven.

 

My Nonna’s meatballs also had a lot of ingredients. It took at least an hour to get the mince ready so you could brown the meatballs. Further, a lot of the ingredients are known migraine triggers. Mine has seven ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now and comes together in ten minutes. Keep on reading!


Fast Food Hit: Maple Sausage Rolls

I love a sausage roll. Let me rephrase that, I have learned to love a sausage roll.  These are quintessentially Australian, I’ve never encountered them on my global travels anywhere else.  The closest thing that I ever had to one was a “pig in a blanket”. But those do not hold a candle to a well made sausage roll. Savoury, slightly sweet sausage mince is baked encased in pastry, either puff or a flakey short crust.  The best ones are found at the local bakery and you should get there around 11 am to get them fresh from the oven.  The worst are either the frozen nuggets doused in sauce (ketchup) served at kids birthday parties or the ones sold at the counter of the servo which have been sitting in the warmer for untold hours. You should just walk, no run, away from those. Keep on reading!


Bomboloni aka Ricotta Doughnuts

I’ve always struggled with birthday cake. I’m not that great a fan of cake in general, so the idea that I can have a special cake to mark the day of my birth doesn’t really appeal. As a child I was able to convince my mother that a birthday pie was appropriate. My birthday is around Halloween, so it wasn’t that hard to convince her that an apple pie would be just fine.

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Marble Chiffon Cake: A Spectacular Surprisingly Easy to Make Birthday Cake

This weekend we are celebrating #1 step-son’s 21st birthday. 21st’s are a very big deal here in Australia. They are a cross between a wedding, graduation celebration and a bucks/hens night. The party provides an opportunity for those who helped you reach adulthood to be acknowledged and celebrate the young person’s achievements. It then devolves into the young folks drinking far too much. It’s the way this culture celebrates. Keep on reading!