Friday, 29 May 2015

Sausage, Spinach & Potato Soup

We are now well into Soup & Braise cooking territory in Melbourne.
The chill has set in & in our house the lurgies are amongst us too.

That's what the doctor ordered.

"BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo- oop of the e- e- evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo- oop of the e- e- evening,
Beautiful, beauti- FUL SOUP!"
Lewis Carroll 

I don't know about you but I tend to trot out similar soups time & time again- delicious nonetheless but it was time for a change.
This was the result.
It relies on VERY GOOD quality all-meat sausages - sausages with fillers and other stabilisers just won't do, so if you don't have great quality sausages replace them with Chorizo or bacon.
I use sausage this way in pasta often- an old Italian method but have never used it in soup before. it worked well.
  • 4 Pork & Fennel sausages (see notes above) If replacing sausages, use 3 coarsely chopped rashers bacon or 1 chorizo sausage in their place.
  • 4 large waxy potatoes, skin on & chopped into large cubes
  • 300g washed & drained spinach
  • 1 bunch Parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • S & P.
  • olive oil
Heat a large fry pan and add a small dollop of Olive oil.
Gently squeeze the sausage out of the casing so it falls into the fry pan in small meatball shapes.

Continue with this until all sausages are browned.
Remove from pan and set aside on kitchen paper to drain.
Now place a large saucepan on the stove and heat to medium heat.
Use a glug of fresh olive oil and add the onion, garlic & bay leaf.
Cook until Onion is translucent and the garlic fragrant.
Add the cubed potato, chopped parsley & the reserved browned sausage.
Now add chicken stock, increase heat and bring to boil.
Immediately reduce heat to simmer and cook until spuds are soft.
Now add cream and bring back to simmer.
Check seasoning (i think this soup is best with a VERY generous amount of black pepper).
And just before serving add the rinsed Spinach and stir until just wilted - this keeps the spinach's nutritious goodness and also keeps it's glorious GREEN!
Serve with extra chopped parsley & some Sourdough & Chorizo crumb.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

GG Kool Kids in the Kitchen Challenge

"Children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for."

This sentence is one I have used time & time again in my writing on this blog over the years.

Reading this article on the NY times today I found myself nodding in agreement.

We don't and have never paid our children to do chores either. I see them as a must-do part of living communally & not as something my children should be fiscally rewarded for. But rather as a way of teaching my children to recognise that we notice there are other people around us and we care about them. It's also about self care. I see my job as helping prepare my kids to be independent functioning members of society. These tasks are part of a normal functioning life. 
Learning how to cook good nutritious food is also part of that.
Somewhere along the way we have lost the understanding of how to cook.
We lean on 'quick' packaged options filled with nasties instead of maybe boiling an egg or whipping up a 10 minute pasta instead. 
We have lost sight of the fact that nutritious and delicious food can be quicker than lots of the packets out there.
We choose these because of a lack of simple skill sets.
I want to see this turned around.
I see it as URGENT.
We have a health crisis looming. One that will affect every single one of us. And we all need to be a a part of the solution.
And I believe it starts in our very own kitchen.

Getting this generation of kids in the kitchen is also one of the biggest motivating factors behind why I designed my Kool Kids Cooking pack.

Encouraging our kids into the kitchen at a young age is so so good for them- and for us. Teaching basic skills in the kitchen is the key to changing the disastrous health crisis hovering over us. This health crisis is all of our responsibility.  We all need to be part of the solution.  We are in this together. Learning how to make a pancake or biscuits develops into skills that will enable them to eventually be capable and confident enough to make an entire meal for the family.ON. THEIR. OWN.

From now until the end of June I want to see you getting your Kids in the Kitchen.
It will be messy.
It will be chaotic.
You may tear your hair out- but......

It will be an opportunity to spend focussed time with your children.
It will be an opportunity for you to teach your child new & important skills.
It will be an opportunity for you to start conversations about food and where it comes from.
It will be an opportunity for you to gift your child with a growing knowledge of independent and healthy living.
It will be FUN & 
It will be AWESOME.

Join me in a hashtag on Instagram with ‪#‎ggkoolkidsinthekitchen‬.
If you are not on Instagram then you can email me your contributions at gourmetgirlfriend (at) me (dot) com.

Get your kids cooking. Cooking biscuits, cooking pancakes, cooking cakes, rolling pasta, baking veggies, cooking dinner! Just get them in the kitchen cooking REAL food from SCRATCH. 

I am going to be giving away 4 of my Kool Kids packs (valued at $45.00 each) to 4 young people who take part in this activity (packs to be sent out at the end of June.)

You can look at the packs here ~

And you can read the Terms & Conditions here .

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Breakfast Noodles for One.

These Noodles are one of my fave quick eats.
I could quite happily live on Noodles forever and ever.
If you look through my recipes you will find more than a smattering of Noodle based dishes.

I especially love having Noodles for Breakfast.

This dish is made with things I always have in the cupboard and is ready in minutes.
They are delicious any time of the day and can be eaten hot or cold.

I add Chiu Chow Chilli oil & Fresh coriander to mine.
You can add many other things too- tofu, green veg etc.
Use the dressing as a base & go from there!
The amount given below is for one- multiply the ingredients for more.
Mix the dressing while the Noodles cook.

      What you will need:

  • 100g cooked noodles (I often use dried soba as they are always in my pantry but other noodles will do. Cook them according to the instructions.)
  • 1 tablespoon Oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese Black Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

In a large bowl (the bowl you will eat them from is perfect) mix together the sauces & the sesame seeds so they are well combined.
Once noodles are cooked, drain and add to the bowl with the dressing.
Use chopsticks to stir well so all noodles are coated.
Add any extras you may wish- I love adding Chilli oil & fresh coriander.


Monday, 18 May 2015

Where are my Undies? (Teaching my five Boys about Housework: Part two)

Reading Annabel Crabbe's recent article in WW reminded me of how I had promised to get back to you all about the great Laundry experiment.

That being the general disaster of Mt Washmore in my home. At. ALL. times.
It never ends.
Constant cries of "Where are my Undies?'

I mean it never ends in any house but can you imagine it here?
My washing pile is more like Mt Everest than Mt Washmore.  Except it is spread all over the house like a vast desert.....and me deliriously looking for that elusive Oasis.

The thing is there are a LOT of humans that live in this space.
And we wear clothes every single day. And then they need to be washed godddamn it.

And until last year it was me who did it all.
Until I cracked it.
Enough already.

Something had to give.
So, much like the way I gave up worrying about what my little kids ate for dinner (well more correctly it was giving up worrying about what they were NOT eating for dinner) I decided to give up doing their Laundry.

I came up with a plan.
I couldn't believe it had taken me SO long to work this out- but eventually I got there.

I gave the three eldest children (12, 14 & 16) their own designated Laundry basket in their bathroom.

The rules were read to them like this:
  • I no longer do any of your laundry. EVER.
  • If I find any of your clothes on the bathroom floor and NOT in the basket, you will find them IN THE BIN.
  • Don't ever tell me you can't find your clothes or ask me where anything is. From now on it is your responsibility.
  • If you are about not being smelly, then you can wash your clothes.
    If you want to find them, then fold them & put them in your wardrobe.
After the rules we had a lesson in how to turn on the machine, separating colours & whites etc etc.

Here we are 5 months after the beginning of the new Laundry system & I can tell you it is an UNBELIEVABLE success.
I can't believe I didn't do it before.
My boys know to NEVER complain to me about not being able to find socks or underwear because they know it is their responsibility & they wouldn't DARE ask me now "Where are my Undies?".
And more than anything they have worked out the hard way HOW big a job it is to fit just their own laundry into a day.
It is only through making them do it that they can see that it was just not viable for me to be doing EVERYONE's in between all the other things that have to be done.

And for me- well yes it is hard seeing the baskets full & wondering when they intend to do some washing. But ultimately I will do them no favours at all in life if I always do those things for them silently in the background.
Resolving their problems for them is not teaching them anything at all.
Guiding them in how they work out their problems independently is what I see as my job.

Just like seeing them lose a race or feel the sting of disappointment at a lower than expected mark for something they worked hard on- working out how to do the mundane jobs of normal every day life is a part of teaching them how to be a balanced & functioning member of society.
The good bits come with the mundane. 

I run a small business and I work very hard at that along with my primary job as a caregiver to many.
I do a lot of the jobs that a traditional stay at home mum does. But I think it is a big mistake to assume that along with that comes an assumption that I do everything for everyone.
I most certainly don't. And nor should I.
Mr Abbott did you neglect to notice that the clock has ticked over several times from 1953 and that we are now in 2015?
I would feel like a total failure if I raised children who thought that it was someone else's job to do their laundry (amongst many other chores).
More over it is the teaching of gratitude & an awareness of hard work in our every day life that I feel is important to impart.
And despite Mr Abbott's declarations that women all over Australia are at home washing and ironing happily- I in fact want my children to know that there are COUNTLESS things I would rather do with my time before I do their laundry.
And as for the Iron- well that is safe in my husbands hands. The Iron and I are not acquainted.

I call this project a success in every way.
It has taught my lads a fundamental lesson in awareness & gratitude and if that is what they take away from this,  then I am happy that the baskets are overflowing.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Pearl Barley Mujadarra

We are really lucky to live nearby to a really amazing Middle Eastern grocery store.
One of the first discoveries we made there many many years ago now is a dish called Mujadarra.

It is a traditional Middle eastern dish that varies from country to country but is essentially a dish of Lentils & Rice. YUM.
Comfort in a bowl.

One of my boys in particular would happily eat this dish for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
And very often does.

There is a lot to be said for the Middle Eastern diet- it is heavily based on eating grains & plants and some meat every now & then.
Super nutritious & very filling.
And BOY do they know how to flavour dishes.
Middle Eastern food is amongst my very fave style of food.
Simple good produce flavoured well with spices & loads of fresh herbs.
You cant really go wrong I don't think.

It is delicious hot or cold & makes a great basis for salads or as a side dish for roast dinners or BBQ meats.
We love it topped with a crispy edged fried egg or some pan fried chicken.

Or if you are my son- straight from it's container in the fridge!

I have a bit of an obsession with Pearl Barley.
I can not get enough of it.
I started substituting the rice in Mujadarra when I had no rice & I preferred the slightly nutty firm texture so haven't looked back.
Feel free to substitute the pearl barley for Brown Rice.


  • 2 cups cooked Pearl Barley (or Brown Rice)
  • 1 cup cooked French Green lentils
  • 4 large brown onions, sliced as finely as possible
  • 1 cup good quality chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Sumac
  • loads of fresh coriander, mint or parsley (or all)
Pre-cook all the grains as per instructions, drain & set aside.

In a large fry pan heat oil & butter (these are mixed together so the butter does not burn) until it melts.
Heat to high & add finely sliced onions. Once translucent, reduce the temperature & continue to fry until the onions are browned- this may take up to twenty minutes.
Right at the end add the cumin seeds and cook through for another minute or so until the cumin is fragrant.

Set some of the cooked onion aside to top your dish.

Add the pre-cooked grains into the remaining pan and stir well.
Add a cup of boiling chicken stock and stir well until the stock is soaked into the grains.
Finally add fresh herbs, stir through & serve with some of the reserved Golden Onions & sprinkle the Sumac over the top.

I always look like this when I rollerskate.
Do you?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Easy & Delicious Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

It is getting cold enough to pack Hot Lunches for the kids here in Melbourne.

The brisk days demand comfort food for lunch to keep our kids tummies filled all day long.

This easy peasy, nutritious & hearty soup is perfect for packing into a Thermos.

Use the very best ingredients you can afford to take this soup from good to outstanding!
Make sure you pre-cook the noodles and add them after to avoid a gluggy soup.


  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, diced into 2cm cubes
  • 2 rashers bacon, dicd into 2cm cubes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 leek, washed well, trimmed and chopped finely
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 4 large waxy potatoes, scrubbed & diced (leave skin on)
  • 300g pre cooked noodles (you can just cook spaghetti that you have broken into small pieces.
  • 3-4 cups good quality chicken stock.
  • a handful of parsley, chopped roughly
    S& P
  • 4 tablespoons good quality cream
  • olive oil
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add onion, garlic, leek, bacon & bay leaves and saute until translucent.
Add diced chicken thighs & cook for 3- 4 minutes, stirring.
Add diced carrots & potatoes & the chicken stock.
Bring to a boil & immediately reduce to a simmer.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile cook your noodles in plenty of salted water. Drain and set aside.
After 20 minutes add the pre-cooked noodles and the cream and taste.
Season & serve with Toast.

Have you listened to Blur's new Album yet? EXCITING!
This is a super cute little vid: