Bring a Thing!

***DISCLAIMER: I took the photos in this post, that's why they're so much shitter than the rest of the site. Unfortunately Savvy doesn't follow me around constantly taking pictures of everything I make. One day... ***

When you go to some kind of bring-a-plate it really means anything from a packet of quick-sale lamingtons still in their packet from Coles, to canned dolmades arranged nicely on a plate with some lemon slices, to home-made lavender macarons and a whole home-cured  juniper berry salmon.

There's always someone that goes way too all-out (hello! I did actually think about doing a whole cured salmon once, but luckily it was expensive as hell and I came to my senses), but bringing something simple, home-made and delicious is a cool way to say 'thanks for having me!' to your host, and make them maybe less mad when you drink most of the punch and start yelling about how much you've always hated their dumb cat/child. 

Here's three recipes that will hopefully achieve this goal. They're relatively easy to make, easy to transport and most can be eaten room-temperature or microwaved. There'll be more Bring a Thing posts to come - I wanted to have a few more recipes this time, but everything kept getting eaten before I remembered to take a photo. 

These Macadamia Sandwich Biscuits with Fig and White Chocolate filling (recipe here) are pretty much the first baked-thing I've ever made where I made up the recipe myself and they actually turned out quite good! I'm usually shit at baking, so I'm probably unreasonably proud of them. They were a little salty and sweet and HUGE and very very tasty. I very rarely cook the same thing twice but I reckon I'll do these again. 

I made this Asparagus, Potato and Mushroom Fritata (recipe) for a work birthday lunch - I cut it up into slices to put in a container to transport, but if you can keep it in one piece until you get to the dinner/party it obviously looks a lot more impressive. It's good hot, room temperature, or cold with a side salad. It tastes pretty good. There's a lot of cream in it. Please excuse the Jamie Oliver book in this photo - people find out you like cooking and suddenly you're getting one of his or Nigella's (love it) for Christmas for all of eternity. 

People bloody love a good sandwich, and these meatball subs and prawn salad rolls (recipe) are two pretty solid ones. The meatballs and sauce and prawn salad can both be transported in tupperware containers, then all you have to do is buy sausage buns and people can fill their own. Obviously the prawn salad is better refrigerated, and don't leave the meatballs out for more than an hour or two - less in summer! 

 

I forgot to get a photo of one of the meatball ones by itself - but I don't know, imagine a meatball sub. It looked like that. 

 

12.07.15 - Dinner for 14 in the Arctic Blast

WHAT I COOKED:
Red Robin Ripoff Grilled Cheeses
Maple Mustard Sweet Potatoes
Confit Fennel and Leeks
Fish and Vege Pies
Crepes with Dulce de Leche  Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Oranges

Right now it’s August and almost gone back to being thirty fuckin degrees already in Brisbane. But a month ago I had a dinner party with my friends in the middle of an 'arctic front/blast/nado'. I wanted to cook good, warming food. I wanted people to get drunk on the sugary mulled wine that my housemate James makes. I wanted my brilliant photographer friend Sav to take photos of it all for my vanity (you can check out her other beautiful work here).

But I also wanted to start this weird little 'food blog' project in case other people wanna do something similar and are as sick as I am of 'lifestyle' 'inspiration' that makes you feel like shit if you don't have all the right-looking homewares and always get everything exactly right. 

Originally I wanted to cook on a blazing open fire, cause I just watched a Neflix show called Chefs Table and got obsessed with Francis Mallmann, an Argentinian chef who cooks whole sides of lamb on huge wood fires and freshly-caught fish in clay pits and says stuff like 'cooking with fire is like making love'. But then I realised that, not being a slightly-creepy millionaire genius 60 year old chef with a 20 year old wife, I should probably lay off the theatrics. The dulche de leche and oranges in the dessert (Recipe) are a kind of half-hearted reference to him, but I'll cook something in a pit one day and it'll be sick.

Straight up - I invited too many people. Too many people to rationally cook a three course meal for by myself. It was gonna be ten but then I realised I hadn't factored in me or my other housemate Bri, and then invited my workmates Ned and Indy cause look at their goddamn faces:

But the weekend before I'd cooked Japanese for ten people, standing over the stove churning out plate after plate of tempura - so I thought I could do anything. This time I was a little more sensible and made fish and vege pies (recipe) - you can make the filling early, line the trays and stick it all in the fridge till it's ready to throw in the oven. 

Me and James are also obsessed with fennel so I knew I wanted to make a side-dish out of that, so I made a frankenstein version of a Lucky Peach confit fennel recipe, that also had leeks cause they rule too (recipe)

The grilled cheese sandwiches were a real triumph - a version of a Red Robin dish that's probably one of the best things I've ever eaten, that kind of came close to the original (recipe)

And I bloody did it. Sure, I cut a few corners; by using store-bought pastry for the pies and forgetting to churn the ice cream quite enough, but no one complained.

 And I had help, from my friend Andi bringing labne and crackers so I didn't have to start cooking straight away, and could have a drink and a sit down, and Sam George-Allen getting the sandwiches out, and James and Sarah making sure everyone had plenty of wine (god bless), and Sarah (a legend who somehow almost completely evaded getting in these photos) and Froz  cleaning up as we went and Ned and Indy and Chloe assembling the desserts, and Harlan letting me bum cigs at the end of the night when I ran out. And no one pointing out how unevenly the mustard maple sweet potatoes (recipe) were cooked, because I forgot how useless our oven is. Saints, every one. 

So this is the first of hopefully more posts - long and short - about food and recipes and ways to have an even better time while cooking and eating. For your mates and mine,