The Hidden Glasshouse Effervescent, Spirited And Vivacious Cooking On Your Screen Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:19:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 56187094 Is it pink or is it green? Launching Colour Dinners! Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:19:58 +0000

Puglia, salt crusted, sand dusted

Wandering on some deserted dirt road in Puglia…

The sea is behind us…

Our skin crusted in salt…

Our feet dusted in sand…

Not a worry in the world… or maybe…? Wild figs are hanging low over the path. Heavy with anticipation of being picked. 


In my hand they are soft as a baby’s bum. I stare how beautiful. How vibrant green. My mind starts wondering could I use it for our next colour dinner?
As I bite in the soft flesh, thinking how a fig can be so juicy in taste, so gentle in texture but yet when you look at it, it is seems completely dry? There is no water running out of it. The hairy bits frizz up the way my hair does without conditioner. I’m thinking fig salad with fresh fava beans and spirunilla cheese… but wait a minute! Is it green or is it pink? No matter how vibrant the shell, inside it’s actually fifty shades of pink!

is it pink or is it green???

Welcome to my new world… I can’t stop it!
In my head all food now needs a colour… black, green, pink, red, blue…. so I can store it and file it as ingredient for the next colour dinner…

beetroot gravlax with pink coleslaw, oh so pink baby!

Yes, you heard correctly! Together with my partner in crime from Cazcuisine, we create colour dinners!
Everything from what you wear to table decoration to drinks to of course the food is uniformly black, green, pink, red, blue, purple… you can’t imagine how colourful it is!
The concept: 10 random guests, 4 courses, 1 colour, chez moi, chez elle …
Nothing else to say than jump on Instagram, start following us @cazcuisinexhiddenhillhouse and book yourself a seat when the next date is announced!

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Wild garlic for the lucky princess! Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:18:49 +0000 Oh dear oh dear am I really doing this?

Can I just pretend last year was yesterday? How time flies and flies and flies. Here I am on the grey side of the world.

As you know over a year ago I closed the greatest chapter of my life. I left Australia and all its beauty. I travelled the world before I started my new chapter in June here in London. Or what I, beach bum, would like to call the grey side of the world.

The riverbanks of the Thames somehow are not as inviting as the shores of Bondi.

But is it really the grey side of the world?

Oh believe me I have seen many grey days. It wasn’t an easy run, but here i am today, standing in a field of wild garlic with sun glistening through the trees, the wind whispering ideas and the birds pregnant of anticipation. How lucky am I really?

I move to the grey side of the world. I slowly accept faith not without bumps on the road. Slowly, past the hectic days of a new life start-up and the mini escape trips and the denial, you find yourself starting to nest. You finally move into your own place. You unpack boxes or a container full of Sydney life and it comes back to life in Notting Hill.

You hang a picture on the wall and then you start cooking again. After all those months of travelling you finally can burn the toast, spill the sauce and lick the pot with your fingers.

You can host and you can have midnight snacks. Thanks to new and old friends it doesn’t take long to start realising this is it, this is where my life is… (at least for now)

And then you also find people who are just as crazy as you are. Who love food and travel and who happily indulge and cheer you on.

So on this sunny random Wednesday afternoon we hop on a train from London Victoria. One friend breaking a sweat because she indulged my food craziness and was making us a gourmet picnic. The other high on lack of sleep but still impeccably elegant and taking care of her little chickens. We wander, chatter and munch through the forest and country sides barely 30 min outside of London. A wonderful peaceful world.

And there it is… the forest floor all lined up with succulent sweet delicate wild garlic leaves. Just like that! Just for me! Could I be more lucky? With a hop, skip and a jump I go home to ponder…

What shall I create? A pasta with peas and wild garlic? To easy! An omelette with mushrooms and wild garlic? To normal? Black bean falafels? That’s it! Perfect for my black themed supper club on Monday!! Oh yes I might have been silent on this blog but this doesn’t mean I sat still, I promise! And I have a partner in crime. London is the perfect city!

For the nitwits out there. Wild garlic leaves are gentle soft pointy leaves. They are from the garlic family but they are nothing like it. Think of them as the posh vegan Notting Hill stepsisters. They are elegant, beautiful tree-huggers. Their highlights are perfect. Their figure and texture slender like silk. Their fragrance is subtle sweet. Their flowers are the bee pollen on the cake. And all of it is 100% organic, vegan, gluten-free, carbon-free and guilt-free! They work perfectly as a sort of spinach, lightly wilted or in stir fries or as a pesto or in a quiche or omelette or or or … you can see; endless possibilities! So put on those walking shoes and go out there, stroll, sniff, sparkle and pick!

Black Bean falafels with wild garlic and black tahini dip

inspired by little ferraro kitchen:

It was the first time I saw falafels made with dried beans, soaked and not cooked. I was sceptical at first but it turned out wonderful!

1 cup of black beans

1 cup of black beluga lentils

1/2 tsp cumin, grounded or crushed

1/2 tsp coriander seeds, grounded or crushed

1 jalapeno, chopped

pinch of cayenne pepper

2 handfuls of wild garlic leaves or half chives half parsley, chopped

3 spring onions, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Soak the beans and lentils overnight in cold water(at least 12-24hours). Drain them.

Whilst they are draining blend to a paste: cumin, coriander seeds, jalapeño, cayenne, wild garlic leaves, spring onions and salt and pepper.

Put in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Pulse the drained beans and lentils to a paste in a blender.

Add this to the mixing bowl together with the flour and the baking soda and powder. Now mix everything well together. Now taste it. Add salt and pepper or spices to taste. You should bear in mind when fry it the taste will be about half as strong so it can be quite pungent.

Heat sunflower oil in a pan. Make little balls and fry them in small batches 5 at a time.

Serve with black tahini mixed with ice cold water, lemon juice, salt and pepper and the garlic flowers.

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Embracing closed books and golden hearts with a never ending smile at Open Heart International in PNG Mon, 07 Mar 2016 15:17:26 +0000 Philomena and Edith at the door right picture by Adam Murakami

Philomena and Edith at the door of Intensive Care Unit     right picture by Adam Murakami

Big dark brown eyes look at me through the glass window doors. Sticky little fingers playfully tip tap the glass. A little timid, curious, anxious and joyous she stares at me and then slowly produces the most wonderful genuine smile. Little Philomena is 7 years old and is waiting for her heart surgery.   I’m in Port Moresby General hospital in Papua New Guinea with Open Heart International.

A not for profit organisation that provides urgently needed medical care to patients living in developing countries.  As a team of surgeons, anaesthetists, intensivists, nurses, technical staff and more we are in PNG to perform open heart surgery on children with heart defects and take care of them before and after the surgery. We also help the local teams to develop their own knowledge and skills.

My role in the team is as a paediatrician and intensive care advanced trainee. This means that I look after the children immediately after their heart surgery; help them recover from the major surgery with supportive medical care.

How can I start to explain what it feels like. Everyone thinks I’m very brave for doing this but it’s the children really who are brave. Especially the ones that are scheduled for the second part of the week.

Pictures by Adam Murakami

Pictures by Adam Murakami

All the children are admitted pre-operatively on the ward. They are together with their parents or often just mum or dad because they come from far and beyond; from the highlands or an island. They are in four bedded rooms and live in very close quarters for ten days.

They become one. They realise what is happening. When one of them goes of to surgery, they get a little quiet. When one of them is suffering in ICU, they come stand at the door like bodyguards. When one of them takes his fist steps after surgery, they cheer him on.


Pictures by Adam Murakami

They look after each other like bothers and sisters. They push the ball in the right direction so the one who still has fresh stitches can score. Their hearts are not broken, their hearts are golden, we merely make the blood flow in the right direction…

Pictures by Adam Murakami

Pictures by Adam Murakami

He stands next to the bed a meter or two away. He doesn’t move. Like a beacon, steady, calm yet searching. I encourage him to get a little closer, the surgery is done , it went well, we just need to give his heart time to recover. I encourage him to hold his sons hand, talk to him. Hopeful yet doubtful, he steps in quickly bricks past his hand and then resides back to his stoic position. As his son starts to wake up, he starts to breathe, he starts to stretch. When his son takes his first steps, he sits down. When his son asks for water again, he chuckles “can’t have any yet” (fluid restriction).  When his son plays bowling in the hall, he has a nap. The parents… Resilient, patient, quiet… closed books making up for it in body language.

Pictures by Adam Murakami

Pictures by Adam Murakami

Hesitantly I go down to the pool for a swim. It’s day zero in PNG, we just landed and had a quick visit to the hospital, we have the night off, the surgeries start tomorrow. I have only met some of the team members very briefly so far. Who are they, what drives them? Some are newbies like me but most of them are frequent flyers. When I come down most of them are already happily chatting. I dive in the pool first, by myself, some time to take it all in. Dampened under water I hear crystal clear laughter. Curiously I resurface. I want to hear what that laughing is all about. Aren’t we in PNG looking after poor sick children? Aren’t we professionals? Oh yes of course! Ever single one of them there is the “crème de la crème” in their field.  They don’t joke about work but neither do they joke about jokes! After all laughter is the best medicine!

And just like that the tone is set for the trip. One team, one family fixing up one kid at a time with a never ending smile, a hug, a laugh and a tear… Embracing anything that has a heartbeat, even the theatre rat, Randy.

Pictures by Adam Murakami

Picture by Adam Murakami

And you? Your support and help in fundraising was heartwarming without a doubt, generous without question and much welcomed without missing a beat! Thank you!


Picture by Adam Murakami

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Tourism friend or foe? On finding the gardener of Eden in Bali… Wed, 25 Nov 2015 08:53:27 +0000  

So where is my next tropical paradise leading me to?

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Bali? No! Oh no! It has tourist trap written all over it. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

In my travels I search for authenticity, sustainability, quality not quantity, local not global. I try to tell myself I’m not part of the weapon of mass destruction that tourism usually is.

Tourism in Bali is a classical example of how it destroys the people, the nature, the fun. Kuta, Seminyak… build, build, build. Not an inch left of free land. A classic example of destruction was Candidasa in East Bali. In the 1970s a couple of people discovered it’s a beautiful volcanic beach. Quick, quick, quick get in first, get in fast. Like mushrooms one resort after the other popped up until no land was left untouched. The locals got resettled on a hill in the back land. But not only that, they used the coral to make the cement. Ah well local resources right? What an irony! Beautiful coral, stolen from the ocean, crushed in the cement mill. No pollution from transportation. No need to get out your snorkel gear, just stare at the walls of your bedroom. The locals crushed, most of them are fishermen, they took away their own business but it was their only way of surviving… Tourism not an innocent friend…

Villa Campuhan

Villa Campuhan, Jasri, East Bali

Somehow we managed to find a part of Bali that was still mostly untouched. We stayed at a beautiful resort that supports sustainability and the locals, Villa Campuhan in Jasri.

But most of all we had the dinner of our life time. It was so good I’m almost afraid to write about it, to share it. I would rather keep it a secret. But it’s simply to good not to share. We found it through my new favourite website The Traveling Spoon – “Travel off the Eaten Path”

It starts of in the garden of one of the smaller resorts North of Ubud, difficult to find. There we find Dewa the gardener of the hotel but to us the gardener of Eden! He climbs up a tree comes back down with a nut, peels it and lets us smell the aromas. Guess what it is… Fresh nutmeg!

A spice so rare and exotic for us, we spent fortunes on and only read about it when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas…


Discovering spices in the bush... nutmeg and cinnamon

Discovering spices in the bush… nutmeg and cinnamon

Next tree, chip, chip, chip a piece of bark. Smell it… cinnamon!

Vanilla, cloves, ginger, pepper, turmeric, chilli, cacao… you name it, it’s there. But the most shocking thing is that these are not planted there, this is not the fruits of his hard labour as a gardener. It’s the tomatoes, the leek, the salads, the parsley, the rosemary that he meticulously looks after. The exotic ones… oh, they are just weeds. Most of them are not even native plants. The Dutch brought them over because Bali is a volcanic island with very fertile soil. They wanted to cultivate them and then sell them for a lot of money back home. But now the Dutch are long gone, the Balinese are not after money so they just let them be and they grow as weeds in their back garden, next to the banana trees, the palm trees and the bamboo.

We get to the end of the garden, we think we have seen it all but that is only the beginning. Dewa takes us on a magical journey through jungle and rice fields, through villages and cemeteries, through history and present, through nature and men, through good and bad, through tradition and innovation.

IMG_0039A born storyteller and teacher, Dewa walks us to his house and explains us everything you want to know when you are a true tourist and want to experience true local culture. He tells us about Hinduism. He is realistic and can refute the Western views of their culture. “We might seem lazy to you because we don’t set ourselves goals or deadlines. But for us every day could be our last, so we live every day to the fullest. We do what we need to do but we don’t get focused on the future or deadlines. We live here and now and that’s what matters.”

IMG_0037When our walk to his home ends and we think we have seen it all, it is only just the beginning. We literally feel like we step into a fairytale story when we step through the majestic gates of his house. It’s a beautiful traditional Balinese home divided up into different living spaces. A Balinese house consists of three elements: 60% garden, 30% living area, 10% temple (Finally we realize why the whole island of Bali looks like one giant temple) After more indulgence into Balinese family traditions, it’s time to do some work.

Dewa_travelling_spoonIn his beautiful open air kitchen surrounded by lush garden and stunning orchids we get down to business. We receive a little notebook to write down the seven dishes we are going to prepare tonight. Balinese food is very much health conscious. Dewa says we don’t eat because it tastes good but because it is good for you. So apparently the traveling spoon came to visit them and gave them two pointers to make their food actually taste delicious as well: add 1 piece of leek and 1 red pepper. I don’t know if these are the key ingredients, but simply put this is the best meal we have had in our holiday and beyond. This is beyond five star dining. This is pure simple healthy absolutely delicious ten star dining straight from the garden of Eden!

Already I have written way to much so I can’t go ahead and write down the details of every single dish. I give you my favourite dish, Tempe Manis, it’s like eating a sort of candy I think, can’t get enough of it.


Our homemade Nasi Campur (rijsttafel) with Tempe Manis in upper right corner

Tempe Manis –fermented soy beans in a sweet sauce

¼ leek

1 tomato

4 pieces of garlic

4 shallots

2 red peppers

1 hot chilli

2 blocks of tempe


Cut all the ingredients into battons/julienne.

Deep fry the tempe in coconut oil until crisp and put aside.

Get a wok hot with some coconut oil. Fry shallots, garlic, leek and chillies. Add one teaspoon of salt. Add tomatoes and tempe fry for a couple of minutes and add one tablespoon of palm sugar. Season to taste. Yum!!!




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#Vanuatustillsmiles with Lap Lap @RatuaPrivateIsland Tue, 15 Sep 2015 11:11:51 +0000 Lap Lap with chicken

#Work hard//play hard seems to be the motto since I moved to Australia. Working in 12hour+ shifts has a lot of disadvantages but one of the perks is that sometimes you are lucky and get random blocks of days off; the best thing for a travel addict like me to do mini-escape trips! 🙂

laplap cooked

Blissful mini-escape; Lap Lap with Chicken, traditional dish in Vanuatu

Living on this side of the world, the Pacific Islands could not be missed of course. Back home, in Europe, the Pacific Islands are some crazy unreachable tropical paradise. Here it’s almost ridiculous how easy it is to hop on a plane straight after work, bikini and thongs in your handbag and land in paradise merely a little nap later.

The options are plentiful but we went for a little of the beaten track island in Vanuatu. Everything about our mini-escape was perfect. Even though the sun wasn’t on our side of the island it was in the heart of young, old, the locals and us!

The Sunny Spa at Ratua Private Island

The Sunny Spa at Ratua Private Island

Vanuatu had a tough year with cyclone Pam hitting them very hard. The category-five cyclone with winds upto 250km per hour soared through the islands leaving a devastating destruction behind them. Luckily the death toll was not that great because Vanuatu is actually used to cyclones plus their houses are built of light materials not causing as much pressure difference and dangerous debris flying around killing people. But in the Southern islands, 96 per cent of the food crops was destroyed. For a country that struggles already, a cyclone like that has a massive ripple effect destroying not only houses but also the whole socio-economic structures. Tourism, one of the main income for Vanuatu, got a big hit. Because of the cyclone numerous people cancelled their holiday and are still avoiding the region. Even the islands that didn’t get hit by the cyclone suffer from this. So the bureau of tourism launched the campaing #vanuatustillsmiles to show life goes on in Vanuatu, people have rebuilt and most of all the Vanuatu spirit is still there. The smile of Vanuatu is hugely contagious and intensely heart warming! The people are generous, open-hearted and positive. It’s impossible not to smile when you are in Vanuatu. Especially on our private island where we stayed the atmosphere was just genuinely happy chill. Just what I needed.



Ratua private island is a beautiful small boutique resort owned by French winemaker Marc Hénon. Stunning old Balinese and Javanese houses were brought across to build the resort in an amazing setting. All profits of Ratua Private Island Resort directly go to the Ratua Foundation! Its goal is to improve the education conditions of the Children in Vanuatu by supplying them with schools, books, infrastructure, water and electricity networks. A beautiful philantrophic project to give yourself a feel good feeling about your holiday as well.

The beautiful houses at Ratua Private Island

The staff at Ratua are locals to ensure sustainability. So I couldn’t control myself from asking them all about the culture and the food (bien sûr!) of Vanuatu.

Traditionally they use palm tree sticks to grate the root vegetables such as taro or manioc

Traditionally they use palm tree sticks to grate the root vegetables such as yam, taro or manioc

They set up a little private cooking class for us and made the traditional dish of Vanuatu: Lap Lap. Very interesting and new, it sort of tasted a little bit like a tropical hearty cake. It basically consists of a grated root such as yam, taro or manioc topped with some vegetables, fish, pork or chicken and coconut milk.

Carefully laying out the banana leaves to wrap the lap lap in

Carefully laying out the banana leaves to wrap the lap lap in

It is then wrapped in banana leaves and traditionally cooked in underground ovens. The root vegetable base turns into this beautiful steamed cake infused with the flavours you put on top. Although we felt that our version was a little bit bland we still loved it. They told me that in Vanuatu sometimes the plain vegetable version is served as a side dish with some grilled fish or slow roasted pork and that’s probably how I would prefer it. Basically there are endless combinations and it’s a fun dish to make. I will most definitely try it again this summer in Sydney to bring back the smile of Vanuatu at home!


Assembling the dish: Coat the banana leave with coconut milk, poor the grated root vegetable on top gently, sprinkle the vegetables and meat on it and to finish pour over warm coconut milk




Beautiful wrapping of the leaves

Beautiful wrapping of the leaves



Lap Lap by the lovely ladies at Ratua Private Island

Serves 4

4 large squares banana leaf

½ taro, grated

1 cups coconut milk

1 handful chopped onions

1 handful chopped spring onions

1 handful chopped tomatoes, deseeded

1 handful chopped pieces of chicken

5 cups grated taro

11/2 cups coconut milk

salt and pepper

Cut long strips of banana leaves as ties, lie them in a square fashion and spread out the banana leaves overlapping each other on top. Coat the base with a little bit of coconut milk to avoid sticking.

Poor the grated taro carefully on top of the leaves, sprinkle chopped vegetables and chicken on top. Season with salt and pepper. Finish off with pooring over heated up coconut milk.

Close the banana leaves like a packet and tie together. Bake in a hot oven 180°C for 25-35 minutes.



all pictures by Filippo Rivetti

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Frozen times looking for comforting ancient grains and moroccan spices: Harira Sat, 18 Jul 2015 07:56:28 +0000 As I’m hibernating through my third winter in the southern hemisphere I feel like it’s the coldest one ever. And have desperate cravings for hearty food, sticky stews, winter spices and red wine.

vegetable harira_2Back in the old days when I used to live up north I couldn’t really believe it could ever be really cold here. I thought the people down here where wingers. Temperatures around 14-16°C? How could you possibly complain or have the dignity to call that winter? It’s like a Belgian summer pretty much, we are in shorts and skirts, heating up the BBQ and chilling white wine with those temperatures. How could you be thinking about crackling fire, dark stews and mulled wine?

Moroccan Spices

Moroccan Spices

But very soon I changed my opinion once I got here. The wind is icy, the air is humid, the houses are poorly isolated and have no central heating… You are frozen to the bone in these conditions. Very soon my wardrobe warmly welcomed Uggs, snuggly cashmere sweaters, hats, scarfs and gloves. The kitchen got filled with smells of slow cooked lamb, roasted pumpkin, cloves, stewed plums and burnt oranges.

The most surreal iceskating ring in the world: on Bondi Beach

The most surreal iceskating ring in the world: on Bondi Beach

So today we travel to Morocco to warm up our frozen fingers, icy toes and red noses. Harira is a soup that traditionally is eaten during the Ramadan to break the fast. It is served with dates. There are plenty of variations to this soup and I have sort of made a combination of what was left in my pantry. Feeling frozen I really felt like having something dark sticky, a combination of sweet and savory so I decided to put the dates in the soup and make a more caramelized version. Most recipes call for noodles but I went for ancient grains to give it a super warming power!

So feel free to improvise yourself on this or other versions but above all let your soul be warmed up!

vegetable hariraVegetable Harira
inspired by good friend Hayat and Whole Hearted food by Brenda Fawdon
serves 6
2tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, grated
1 chilli, chopped
1 bunch of coriander, chopped
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leave
5 dates chopped
1 vegetable stock cube
1 can tomatoes
2tbsp tomato purree
1 lemon
1 cup faro or barley or other ancient grain to your preference, soaked overnight in water and 1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup green lentils, soaked overnight in water and 1tbsp apple cider vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and gently fry onion, garlic, celery, ginger, chilli and half of the chopped fresh herbs until the onions are translucent. Next add the spices (turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, bay leave, salt and pepper) and continue to fry for another then minutes, add the dates and vegetable stock cube.
Next add the drained lentils, faro, can tomatoes and 1L of water.
Gently simmer for 45min until lentils and faro are cooked. Add the tomato puree and season further to taste.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon and more fresh parsley and coriander.
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Belgian Waffles at Woollahra Artisan Market Sat, 30 May 2015 13:36:09 +0000 imageThis is it… Tomorrowland doesn’t exist anymore, no more dreaming about how it would be. There is only tomorrow. It is for real this time.

The Hidden Glasshouse is going public. Tomorrow I will be introducing the Eastern suburbs of Sydney to the one and only famous Belgian waffles. A little project that has been on my mind for a while now.
Living as an expat on the other side of the world makes you miss the most basic and simple things from home. You go back to your roots. For example I miss my moms home made jam, the Dutch Gouda cheese, the pure dark Belgian chocolate. And I miss stupid little Speculoos (sort of gingerbread cookie that we basically get served with every coffee or tea). All these simple things you take for granted when you live home. Suddenly they become a luxury abroad. So you find yourself making space in your suitcase so next time you can bring some goodies back.

This is how I found myself bringing back a true belgian waffle maker (“wafelijzer”). Cause definitely the smell of homemade Belgian waffles is missed here. As a kid we would come home from school and every now and then the big waffle fest would be on. The whole house was filled with unresistable smell of melted sugar butter and yeast. Just to die for!
Later working in a kids hospital, we had the privilege of having our own “grandpa-waffle”. The grandfather of one of the kids would come in on special occasions and bake waffles for the whole children’s hospital. Best morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea ever! Not a bad day in the office ;).

So dear Sydneysiders tomorrow I will show you what it is all about. I will bring these unresistable little treats to your local market, with the help of friends, roommates and fellow Belgians in Sydney kindly lending me their Belgian Waffle Maker. Woollahra Artisan Markets gets the exclusive premiere for the Belgian Waffles.

But more importantly I have the unique opportunity to do it for a beautiful charity project. The lovely Meloney will personally bring all the profits to a girls orphanage in Maharagama, Sri-Lanka. She will work herself in the orphanage in a small village and make tailored donations to fund resources that are most needed!

See you tomorrow at Woollahra artisan markets and bring the kids along. They will love it!
I will also be serving true Belgian chocolate mousse for all the chocolate lovers out there.


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Scuola di cucina numero 4 : Pizzzzzzzaaaa! Mon, 04 May 2015 01:08:10 +0000 kneading
Trying to cover all corners of the world in our cooking classes we can’t forget the biggest food nation in the world… Italy!
And considering Bondi got invaded by Italians in 2007, it was fairly easy getting a group of experts together to enlighten us and educate us.
But be careful what you wish for. Italians are quite particular when it comes to their food. They of course have that little bit of privilege to be a touch arrogant cause their food is one of the most loved in the world.
And maybe also one of the best (after Belgian food of course)…
We got the ‘crème de la crème’ for our cooking class. We had a fantastic teacher. The lovely Isabella is an amazing, brilliant cook and she was very patient with our idiocy and clumsiness.

She expertly took us step for step through the whole pizza making process. It’s again a little similar to sushi. It’s a great thing to do with friends. Everyone can make their own pizza creations and be inspired by the toppings on display.
But uhohwww some ground rules…
The word… pizza! Apparently I have been pronouncing something non existent my whole life [piZa] is has to be [pitsa].
The toppings… Some things are assolutamente proibito (absolutely forbidden)!  Pineapple, chicken, nachos and guacamole (of course!) but apparently also garlic??? Djeezes! I love garlic 🙁
Once you manage to whinge past their rules… my god they are right! It’s the most delicious thing in the world!
Crack yourself a beer and start kneading. A very therapeutic task to get rid of all the frustrations from a long day in the office. But don’t press to hard. Isabella expertly works the dough with her hands: push and fold, push and fold, push and fold… Like magic this very light silk soft dough ball comes out of it. We have a little more difficulty getting upto her level of softness but half an hour later we are all getting close to it. Time for another beer and a laugh to let the dough rest.
And then it’s all about creativity. Basic ingredients are ready :
-tomato base “passatta di pomodoro”
-cheeses: hard mozzarella, Gorgonzola, scamorza, ricotta, parmigiano, taleggio, goat cheese…
-vegetables: mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, pears, artichokes, rocket salad, zucchini, asparagus, capsicum, basil…
-meats and other condiments: prosciutto, salame, anchovies, cooked ham, walnuts, capers, olives, truffle oil, oregano…
Just put things together as you feel like but remember…less is more! Probably no more than 2 or 3 toppings I would say.
And some things like prosciutto, basil and rocket go on top after the pizza is cooked.
base pizza
Buon appetito (which you’re not allowed to say either apparently! They are weird!)

Pizza dough

By Isabella Pozzi

serves  4 people

500gr flour,

approx 300ml warm water

25gr fresh yeast or 1 sachet(7gr) dry yeast

1/2tsp salt

olive oil at the end for kneading the dough.

Make a hole in the flour and put yeast inside and gradually add water. Leave salt on the edge of the flour and just mix gradually with the rest. Salt kills yeast so you first want the yeast to be robust and nurtured with flour and water before it gets hit by the salt.

Get into a kneading rhythm, pushing and folding. You want to do this for a while to release all the nutrients for the yeast. At least ten minutes of kneading until the dough is smooth and not sticky. Add more water or flour if needed depending on the consistency.

Then pour one teaspoon of olive oil on your hand and keep kneading

Place the dough in a bowl covered by cling paper or a towel in a dry place for at least 2 hours

The dough should double in size.

Take a fist size ball of the dough, roll it out, put on an oven tray. Now add the toppings as you want, to make a basic pizza simply put olive oil, some salt and tomato passata on the dough, spread out evenly. Then finish with mozzarella and basil.

The oven should be preheated at 230°C. Cook for roughly 10 minutes, depending on the oven until golden brown.

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Vegetarian, organic, gluten-free Cooking Class #3 Mon, 16 Mar 2015 03:57:24 +0000 bondi sunrise

Living in Bondi Beach… It’s a tough life… Roll out of bed in morning, stroll to the beach, a little sunrise swim to wake up. But don’t think you will be the only one. Bondi Beach at 6AM has more people out and about working out than the Olympics final!

Healthy lifestyle screams at you from every corner of the street. The fit craze goes hand in hand with #organic-biodynamic-raw-activated-gluten-free-vegan-vego #hype.

The hidden cooking classes


Ultra slim leggings, color coordinated running shoes, make up, wonderbra (sports version) and high-rise ponytail check. Buy your tall flat decaf skinny soy biodynamic latte check and then start gazing at the Belgian girls selling Belgian waffles.

True thing! We were selling waffles on the street for a garage sale and the Bondi girls just couldn’t stop inhaling the delicious smell of freshly baked waffles, melted butter and sugar. They kept coming back for more smells and kept saying like a mantra “I can’t, I’m gluten-free, gluten-free, gluten-free.”

The hysteria of gluten-free is a little out of control. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that is triggered by gluten. The disease causes inflammation of the small intestine and can lead to malnutrition and variety of symptoms. The treatment is a gluten-free diet.

These days all sorts of people without celiac disease have adopted the gluten-free life. No doubt inspired by some “influential” people such as Victoria Beckham. Gluten gets the blame for everything from weight gain, energy loss, bloating to headache and child behavior.

And Bondi is all over the gluten-free, they even sell gluten-free shoes! I’m surprised they haven’t thought about advertising their beach and ocean as gluten-free!


Courtesy of EDV 😉


Anyway we couldn’t not organize an “organic vegetarian gluten-free”- cooking class. When in Rome…

So we got the lovely Kelly Elkin from ALAS pyjamas to come demonstrate us how it’s all done. Kelly Elkin does not live in Bondi and is not a gluten-free freak. She is simply a brilliant charming vegetarian cook. She believes in organic, fair-trade and sustainability without pretention. She runs her own business ALAS, beautiful pyjamas, inspiring philosophy go check it out: ALAS THE LABEL.

She took us through a Middle Eastern journey in the vegetarian world. With elegance and ease, chatter and a glass of wine we discovered, explored, created.


Quinoa, organic, gluten-ree, raw, activated…. Ball it!

roasted eggplantQuinoa balls vibrant green, delicious and easy. It works beautifully with this capsicum dip but you can serve it with a tatziki or on its own as well. I know I will definitely be serving it as party food in the future.

Next were succulent slow roasted eggplants with tahini and pomegranate a tease for the eye and the palate!

She served it with an Israeli couscous salad on the side. Israeli couscous or pearl couscous is basically big couscous but it just has that little more flavor and meatiness to it. It works well in salads because it coats well with the dressing and it holds its own shape. Normal couscous tends to become a soggy mess. And Oopsie it’s not gluten-free! Oh well, Thank God we have our organic gluten-free wine to disinfect!


Roasted Eggplant with tahini dressing and pomegranate

Roasted Eggplant, tahini and pomegranate

Roasted Eggplant, tahini dressing and SPANK pomegrana

Serves 6

3 eggplants

olive oil

1 tbsp tahini

4 tbsp water or more

½ clove garlic

1 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper

1 pomegranate


Cut your eggplants in half, score with a knife into diamond shapes. Drizzle with olive oil and place in preheated oven 160° for 45 minutes to 1 hour until soft and unctuous.

Make the dressing by mixing thoroughly tahini, crushed garlic, lemon, salt and pepper, then gradually add in water until you get the consistency you like; smooth but not too liquid.

When the eggplants are ready, get them on a serving plate, drizzle with tahini dressing and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top.

Golden Tip: to get out the pomegranate seeds easily just spank one half on the back and they will fall out easily


Israeli couscous salad

Segment an orange, chop a bunch and fry some Israeli couscous!

Segment an orange, chop a bunch and fry some Israeli couscous!

Serves 6

3 small cucumbers

2 Roma tomato

1 bunch coriander

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch mint

5 dates

1 handful of almonds

1 orange

1 cup Israeli couscous

1 red onion

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

olive oil

Chop your red onion, put half in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and gently fry until translucent. Then add the Israeli couscous, fry some more until glassy. Add 1 glass of vegetable stock and let it simmer for 20 min until al dente. Set aside and let it cool down.

In the meantime chop your cucumber, tomato, herbs and dates and place in a big salad bowl. Segment the orange as shown in the pictures and add as well. Make sure the juices fall in your salad bowl too, give the left over orange a good squeeze. Add the other half of the copped red onion and the almonds. Now drizzle with red wine vinegar, add the cooked Israeli couscous and finish off with salt and pepper to taste.


Quinoa balls

Cooked quinoa, almonds, ricotta and a bunch of herbs, blend it!

Cooked quinoa, almonds, ricotta and a bunch of herbs, blend it and then ball it!

100 grams of quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

400g ricotta cheese

1 large bunch parsley, roughly chopped

1 large bunch basil, roughly chopped

150g almonds, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp olive oil


Preheat your oven to 200°

Cook quinoa in 1 cup of water on medium heat for 5 minutes, the quinoa still has to be very al dente. Drain it thoroughly.

Add the quinoa together with all the other ingredients to a food processor until combined. Make balls from roughly 1-2 spoons of paste and place on lined baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning twice to cook evenly

Serve with capsicum sauce like this inspiring blog post or tatziki or simply some yoghurt with salt and pepper.


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Cooking class #2: Sushi basics by moi Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:16:04 +0000 sushi_cooking_class1First of all let me clarify, I don’t want to pretend I’m an Itamae at all. Itamae (“behind the cutting board”) means a sushi master. It takes years and years of extreme hard work, dedication and complete devotion to become one.

Watch “Jiro dreams of sushi” and see what it entails to become a real Itamae. The movie shows us with incredible footage the sacred art of sushi making, creating sushi we can only dream of. Probably all the Jiro’s out there get grey hair, goose bumps and a heart attack (in reverse order) if they hear I, insignificant amateur, wants to give a cooking class.

Maybe I should rename this. Ceci n’est pas un cooking class but merely an introduction, an amuse bouche, a flirt. Cause I do feel passionate about it, I do love to read about it and inform myself. And I have rolled more than once… 😉

I also feel sushi is a great thing to make in group. Back in the days when sushi was as sparse as the hairs on a soft shell crab, the only way to get our sushi fix in my hometown would be to make it yourself. So the kitchen would be transformed into sushi headquarters. As long as the prep work is done, it’s all fun and play. Your guests get inspired by the catch of the day and compete in the prettiest maki or nigiri. Even grandma used to dig in!

So just some sushi basics for the real dummies or whoever lived on Mars for the last decade:

nigiri: rice ball with slice of fish on top
maki: rolls
sashimi: raw fish nothing else
nori: sheet of seaweed used for the rolls
wasabi: very strong mustardy paste made from horseradish
pickled ginger: ginger soaked in vinegar and sugar you eat in between to refresh your palate.

A little bit of sushi finesse:

do not dip your rice in the soy sauce but dip your fish, considered rude
do not roll your chopsticks together, considered very rude
do not ask for extra wasabi, considered extremely rude and insulting

Rule number 1: the most important ingredient of sushi is THA RICE!

-Buy short grain good quality at local Asian or Japanese store
-Cook to perfection in rice cooker or on the stove
–dress — dress — dress —
The secret is that sushi rice gets dressed up in a golden syrupy dressing to make it all gloss and glam and delicious!
Go to this website for the full run down on the art of rice making:

Rule number 2: THA fish!

–fresh — fresh — fresh —
–no smell — no smell — no smell —
-buy the whole fish so you can check quality by the clarity of the eyes
-invest in a good knife
-check out this video to learn how to cut salmon sashimi
-learn how difficult it is to do it in real life.
-cut squares for sashimi and nigiri
-cut long strips for rollssushi_cooking_class7

Rule number 3: THA Set Up

-cut up bits of leftover fish into a tartare, mix with some hot sauce and cream cheese for your spicy rolls
-cut in julienne: cucumber, avocado, spring onions, any other stuffing for rolls you fancy
-have a bowl of hot water ready to wash your hands because the rice … stick — sticky — stick
-lay out some nori sheets
-your bowl of rice
-your fish cut to perfection

And now it’s all fun and games

sushi_cooking_class6-A nigiri should be made in 3 moves, some rice in the palm of your hand
squeeze — squeeze — squeeze —
fish on top of the fingers and … Squeeze
-get rolling
Firm mmmm yes
Medium size mmmm yes
Delicious filling mmm yes!
Aaah the rolling… tricky !!!
Makes even me nervous
Hard to explain but if I can give one tip…
Think of it as a square, square, square rather than a roll
Try it and you’ll know what I mean!

Final part … Last but definitely not least sushi is all about beauty
The eye eye eye
Vibrant colours they are!
Do them justice!sushi_cooking_class4

Serve with sake and green tea.

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