Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blue bells and spring lamb

The blue bells are flowering at the bottom of our garden. When they bloom each spring, they remind me of my mother as the original bulbs came from her garden. Every year there are a few more flowers as the bulbs have naturalised and increased over the past 18 years. 
Mum was a great gardener. When we were kids we'd often hear the old Holden or later, the yellow Gemini, arrive home but she would not appear in the house. She'd stop to pull out a weed and get lost in the peace and tranquility of her garden. Seeing the blue bells blossom each year is a lovely memory of her and of the beauty she created in her life and in her garden.
And that leads me to spring lamb. I wasn't sure why spring and lamb were associated so I did a bit of research including speaking to my sheep/lamb guru brother-in-law. Spring lamb is usually milk-fed, three to five months old, born in late autumn or early winter. Before lamb became available all year round, spring was the traditional time that lamb came on the market.  While times have changed, today lamb lovers still look to eat lots of lamb in spring.

Bruce recently made a very nice roast lamb with chermoula and rosemary and garlic, which came from The Sun-Herald. Here are the instructions:

Sit the lamb in a baking tray with a splatter of olive oil. The lamb should be approximately 1.2kg and de-boned.  Insert the rosemary and garlic into slits in the lamb and rub chermoula over lamb. Add sliced Jap pumpkin to the tray and cook for 1hour at 200 C then 20 mins at 220deg.  Before serving, sprinkle fetta over the lamb and pumpkin.  Serve with baked potatoes, onion and zucchini.  Delicious!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lovely lemon polenta cake

Last Sunday I made a lemon polenta cake for our Father's Day lunch for Bruce's dad. The recipe came from David Herbert's Food and Wine section in The Weekend Australian Magazine, August 7-8, 2010. Like most flourless cakes it was quite dense but thoroughly delicious and beautifully lemony. We ate it to the sounds of Aled Jones, the Welsh boy-soprano, now grown-up and no longer a soprano, which we gave to Keith for Father's Day. Here is David Herbert's recipe:

Lemon Polenta Cake
  • 245g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 6 free-range eggs, separated
  • 175g ground almonds
  • 100g polenta (instant or regular)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons
  • Icing sugar, for dusting.
Preheat the oven to 180C (fan-forced 160C). Grease a 25cm round loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, then add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the ground almonds, polenta, zest and juice until combined. Whisk the egg whites till they form firm peaks. Using a large wooden spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until golden and firm when touched. Cool in the tin. To serve, remove from the tin and dust with icing sugar. Serves 8-10.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'Disgustingly good' Thai with Zac

Last Saturday night we went to the Atom Thai restaurant in Newtown with nine-year-old Zac. The restaurant was recommended by a fellow coeliac I met recently at the MEAA 'What's the story?' journalism conference.

As well as having a separate gluten-free menu, most of the stir-fries can be altered to be gluten-free - you just have to let them know.

I am not sure what Thai restaurants put in their curries but mostly they seem to be off the menu for coeliacs. While my non-coeliac dining companions, Bruce and Zac enjoyed cuffy puffs and a green chicken curry, they also tucked into the gluten-free dishes:  pad Thai with beef and an extremely tasty mixed vegetable cashew nut stir-fry with prawns.  Other options on the gluten-free menu included chilli basil noodles, stir-fried eggplant with tofu, larb, garlic and pepper king prawn, chilli basil seafood and whole barramundi salad.

At the end of the dinner, Zac (a big fan of MasterChef and a connoisseur of Thai food in the Illawarra) declared the meal 'disgustingly good'!

Atom Thai is at 130 King Street, the Missenden Road end of Newtown. It does not have a website but you can contact the restaurant on 9550 5964 or email at
It's very popular so it's a good idea to book.