Comfort Food

The trouble with being sick, in flu season, is it opens you up to being more sick….so last weeks adventure turned into a second, third and then fourth virus.

Of course, we turn to comfort food when we're feeling low, and one of my favourites is a home cooked roast chicken.

I have a preference for the recipe from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food. Although I'm greedy so I cooked a a MUCH BIGGER chicken, which of course changes the cooking time. The best thing is eating the sticky amazing sacrificial carrots from the bottom of the pan.

In so many ways this is better than chicken soup….and the leftovers can be turned into all kinds of good things….like Chicken and Leek Pie, which is what I did with mine.

Perfect Roast Chicken

from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, page 196


  • 1 chicken (at least 1.6kg – mine was 2.7kg)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture (I used everything but the sage)

To prepare your chicken

Take your chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into the oven. Preheat your oven to 240C. Chopped all the vegetables (unpeeled!) and break up the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled. Put all the vege and garlic into the middle of a large roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the bird. Carefully prick the lemon all over; using the tip of a sharp knife, and put in the chickens cavity with the bunch of herbs.

To cook your chicken

Place the chicken on top of the roast vege in the roasting tray and put into the preheated oven. Turn the heat down to 200C and cook as per the chickens size. Put your roast veggies in around an hour before your chicken is done. Take your chicken out when it's cooked, and let rest covered in foil for 15minsnwhile you make your gravy.

Slice, and serve with delicious veggies and gravy.



Strawberry Crumb Bars, to make a sick Cookie feel better

I flew home from Melbourne on the Friday evening, and to Sydney on Saturday lunch time. I know. I'm such a jet setter. Saturday night I worked, we do once a quarter, to test updates. Sunday, which was my free day in Sydney I woke up so ill I couldn't get out of bed. Thank god for room service.

Monday, believing I had flu I braved the walk to my office (5 minutes, with a pharmacy downstairs) and after that was packed back to the hotel by my manager, where I slept pretty much the entire day.

Tuesday was just awful. I rang in sick, I could barely get out of the bed….and my manager rang me back to say I'd been booked into the 1.30pm flight home. I knew fear. What I found out later that day (I got off a flight and was bundled into a doctors surgery by my mother in law), was that I had a throat and a sinus infection. The state of my ears had me frightened, and justifiably so. We won't talk about that flight.

I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on my sisters couch. Our roof was being removed and replaced during this period, making me a sick, but non-contagious, couch surfer.

While I slept on Thursday (let's be honest, I did little BUT sleep) she made this Strawberry Crumb Bar with some of the 15 punnets of strawberries we bought between us…although she dropped out quite a lot of sugar. It was magic. I took a slice home for hubby and he loved it too.

So on Saturday afternoon, after a pretty good nap, I made it too. Baking, I think, is a pretty good sign you're on the mend….even if I was really too tired still to stand up for the time it took.

I made two alterations to the recipe as it reads. I halved the sugar. And I swapped 1 cup of flour for custard powder. I also gave it an extra five minutes in the oven because I know my oven. Make this when you can buy lots of strawberries cheap. It's very forgiving for bruised strawberries!



Melbourne and the burger dreams are made of

I recently spent a week in Melbourne for a project at work. It was pretty lonely, and I made a bit of a mistake on my hotel booking and ended up much further away from the office then I should have been. The only upside of this was twice a day, everyday, I walked past this little burger bar.

I hadn't given it a second thought, but my manager had suggested it, and knowing he'd ask if I tried it, on the Wednesday I got brave and went in on my own.

And so began my first experience of The Merrywell. It's part of the enormous Crown Casino complex, and upstairs I believe (I didn't look) is a bit of a fancy restaurant, but downstairs is burger bar, and normal bar.

I squeezed into a little two seater by the door, ordered a K.I.S.S Burger, a pint of beer, and the loaded fries.

When it all came out I sent novelty text messages to my sister about my ability to over-order….the basket of fries was covered in liquid melty cheese and chopped bacon…..with a side of sour cream (why? I don't know!). The burger…..well….its a beef patty, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, mayo and cheddar. It was the most epic cheeseburger of my life. OF MY LIFE. Also very messy. I actually bailed up a guy trying to sit down at the next table to get him to fetch me napkins (he didn't). Then insisted that he and his fellow diner shared the loaded fries because 'look how ridiculous this is'. I was kinda glad I did when their Cherry Cola Floats turned up. I sadly only managed a quarter of the fries. But I'm glad I expended my energy on the burger. And equally glad of that long walk home.

The next night being Thursday, and knowing it was my last night in Melbourne with no plans to come back I went back. I know. I'm a greedy mare. This time I ordered the MerryWell, a beef patty, bacon, cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, special sauce, ketchup, and mustard. It also comes with a much more sensible serve of normal fries. The waiter talked me out of ordering a thick shake as well….and he was probably right.

Look, the MerryWell burger was good, but it tasted much more like one I could replicate…..very similiar to what I already do. The K.I.S.S burger in my opinion was on another level. I also love that it didn't bother with token lettuce and tomato…..but that's probably just me.

If you're in Melbourne, staying around Crown…..I really do recommend it….I loved the food. A little lonely on your own, so take someone you're happy to share a loaded fries with…..


Happy Birthday!

Today marks the 12 month mark since I made my first post on this blog. Granted, timings have been a little hit and miss but I'm pretty pleased with the fact that we're 12 months in and I'm still blogging.

I didn't take a lot of photos of this cake, and none of the preparation. It was hard. There was SO MUCH batter, and I didn't really think things through, for example, the cake batter? 7 bowls people. 7. Try doing that in a kitchen that's been turned upside down. Which mine had. Bench space is hard to find in the first place but with the upside-downidness….even harder.

I made a smaller cake than the recipe called for and then filled up my 12 mini Bundt pan, and then filled up my 6 friand tray. Sadly upon turning out I lost (deliciously) 1 friand and possibly all but three of the bundts. I'm scared to look (I did look, we have a container full of delicious crumbs).

The recipe is dense and delicious and all of the chocolate, which I think every first birthday calls for. I didn't have enough semi-sweet chocolate so I used a big mix of white, semi and dark chocolate. I don't care, it's still delicious.

A five egg batter is huge. HUGE. So make sure you save your biggest electric mixer bowl for that bit. I didn't and had to do some tricky switching around.

Because I had no candles, I had sparkles. If doubt, ALWAYS wear sparkles.