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Dinner by Heston

Dinner by Heston

One of the downsides of being in a relationship with someone as competitive as yourself, is that this normally extends to even food choices.  On our recent London trip, we had lunch at Heston Blumethal’s restaurant, Dinner.  The menu was developed by Heston and Ashley Palmer-Watts who heads the Dinner  ktichen, and focuses on historically inspired British dishes.  According to their website, the name “Dinner” refers to the “main meal” of the day – whether that be lunch, mid day or actually dinner time.  According to San Pellegrino, this restaurant is the ninth best in the world, topping Heston’s other restaurant, The Fat Duck (which ranks 13th).

So what happens when you try to compete for the best order?  Four starters, two mains and two desserts happens.  I highly doubt this but the waiter said that no couple had ever ordered that much before.


My Order: Meat Fruit (mandarin, chicken liver parfait with grilled bread)

His Order - Roast Marrowbone

His Order – Roast Marrowbone (marrow, snails, parsley, anchovy and pickled vegetables)

Verdict: I win.

My Order - Buttered Crab Loaf

My Order – Buttered Crab Loaf (Crab, cucumber, pickled lemon, herring roe and stone crop)

His Order - Salamugundy

His Order – Salamugundy (Chicken oysters, salsify, marrow bone and horseradish cream)

Verdict: He wins.


My Order - Cod in Cider

My Order – Cod in Cider (with chard and fired mussels)

His Order - Fillet of Aberdeen Angus with triple cooked chips

His Order – Fillet of Aberdeen Angus (with mushroon ketchup & triple cooked chips)

Verdict: I win.

Dessert – 

His Order – Tipsy Cake (Roast Pineapple) – sorry forgot to take a picture of that one!

My Order – Ice Cream Trolley – now this isn’t on the regular menu – but the waiter insisted we order it.  By mixing liquid nitrogen and vanilla custard, we were treated to instant ice cream! How could I NOT order this?

My Order - Ice Cream Trolley using Liquid Nitrogen

My Order – Ice Cream Trolley using Liquid Nitrogen

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

The Verdict:  Do you really have to ask?

But then again… I always win.

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Paris Jardin des Tuileries

Paris Jardin des Tuileries

It could have been the overcast sky that greeted me. Or, maybe the fact that after more than 24 hours on a plane with three different stopovers, I was told that the airline had lost my luggage… or having to spend my first two days on my own… Something, in Paris, was off.

I had my first meal at Aux Lyonnais which has become somewhat of a tradition to begin any trip to Paris at this Alain Docasse run Bistro. The lady who had been greeting me for the last four years, I found out, had left and new staff had taken over the floor. While the new waitstaff were knowledgeable and efficient, there was no “Hello! How are you? So good to see you back” to greet me. To start I had an egg cocotte with black truffles and morrels and for main I had the pollack (which I was told was only in season every April) a la meuniere. Again, while the food was cooked well, I left the restaurant thinking that I might have to change traditions next year.

Aux Lyonnais

Aux Lyonnais

Day two was dinner at Le Chateaubriand which has been named the 9th best restaurant in the world. Two years earlier we had eaten in this restaurant and was blown away with the food (and, okay, maybe the chefs and waiters too), so I was excited to come back. I guess I was expecting too much but the food didn’t seem as inventive or exciting as before (okay, the waiters and chefs were still as good looking).

Chateaubriand Paris

Chateaubriand Paris

Things weren’t looking too good.

And then my husband came and things started to pick up.

“I’m bored.” I told him. “Paris doesn’t seem the same to me.” So that night we went to Hotel Costes, a boutique hotel located on the First Arrondisement. By day you can sit by the open courtyard and people watch. At night the whole place transforms into a trendy restaurant/bar. This is where we met Ali – mixologist extraordinaire. I explained to him that I didn’t normally drink but my fate that night was in his hands. To please make me a cocktail that was fruity but where I couldn’t taste the alcohol.

“Leave it to me, I am an expert” Ali said.

Two drinks later, my head was spinning and anything anyone said seemed very funny to me. My husband was holding me back from ordering a third drink. “I think that’s enough. Let’s close the tab.” he said. “Wait a minute! I said to Ali, “I need to know the name of this so I can make sure to order it next time.”

“It has no name, this one I just invented.” said Ali.

“We can’t not have a name for this drink!” I replied.

“Okay, let’s name it after you, Teresa” Ali said.

“Okay, tomorrow, you and me, we’ll have a showdown!” I shouted back at Ali, giggling uncontrollably.

“Yes, of course!” He smiled.

You have to realize, I never drink. Ever. So as embarrassing as it sounds, I got wasted after two drinks.  A few hours later things got messy, my head pounding, I was crying and cursing Ali like there was no tomorrow.

The day after was no different. Every time I stood up I felt like my world would turn upside down. When my husband joked about the proposed showdown with Ali I gave him dagger looks. The thought of going back to Hotel Costes made me woozy.

Hotel Costes, Paris

Hotel Costes, Paris

Easter Sunday was different. I could finally laugh about the “Ali” incident! The sun was shining and after a whole day wasted, I was hoping for a little back of the Paris that I loved. So of course I headed to the 7th Arrondisement which is my favourite. The markets were opened and we were welcomed by a Frenchman playing music on an old punch tape winding music box!

One thing I’ve found, is that my tried and tested bistro in Paris is still 100% reliable. Lunch at Cafe Constant was just as I remembered it. Homey, well executed and affordable cooking.

Sea Bass with Sweet Potato Mash

Sea Bass with Sweet Potato Mash

Roasted Langoustines Cafe Constant, Paris

Roasted Langoustines Cafe Constant, Paris

Then to top it all of, was the most delicious apple tart. Layers of caramelized apples over the flakiest puff pastry, served with a side of vanilla ice cream. It’s times like these that you realize, you don’t need to be in the fanciest, trendiest or most expensive restaurant, you could be in a cramped corner of a Paris cafe enjoying a simple meal, or even laying flat on the bathroom floor cursing the bartender that gave you one cocktail too many, it’s who you’re with that makes the story worthwhile telling.

I was with my husband and I finally had my Paris back.

Apple Tart at Cafe Constant, Paris

Apple Tart at Cafe Constant, Paris

Cafe Constant Apple Tart

The day after my planned “showdown” with Ali, I went back to Hotel Costes to try and get the recipe for the cocktail he had invented for me. Unfortunately, Ali was not around that night… and the waitress told me that he would not be around the night after as well, which meant that I wouldn’t get the chance to ask him for the recipe before I left. So instead, let me share with you Christian Constant’s simple Apple Tart recipe… however, if you do find yourself on Rue St Honore one day, make sure to pass by the Bar at Hotel Costes and ask for Ali. Tell him you want to order the “Teresa”.

  • 7 “pink” golden apples
  • 45 grams butter
  • 1 roll best quality puff pastry (i.e. I would use Careme brand)
  • 35 grams caster sugar
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180c. Roll out the puff pastry and place it in a round or oblong tart. Using a fork, prink the bottom and sides of the pastry to prevent it from puffing up during cooking. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the apples, cut in half, remove the cores and sees and slice very thinly.
  3. Arrange the apple slices on the pre-cooked pastry shell, overlapping and fanning them out evenly. Sprinkle with half of the sugar and add a knob of butter.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Midway through the cooking time, sprinkle with the remaining sugar, and turn the tart from time to time so that it browns evenly. Cool before serving.

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Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

I admit that I have an unhealthy obsession with cookbooks and food magazines.  One of my favourite magazines is one published in the Philippines called Yummy.  I’ve been a long time reader and used to always ask my Mom to buy them and bring me copies when she would visit.  I was thrilled when last year I found out they were also on Zinio which meant I could read them as soon as they were published online.

Imagine my excitement when Liz, one of their assistant editors, asked if I would be interested to be featured as a guest chef – uhm… hello?!?  Of course I would be honoured!

So here it is – MY very own feature on Yummy Magazine.   If you are lucky, you may still be able to buy the March 2012 issue where this is published, but better be quick because the Blog Monster seems to be hunting down every copy she can get her hands on!  (It’s nice to have a Mom who is so proud of you isn’t it?)

Trissalicious on Yummy Magazine
Yummy Magazine Page 2
So here’s a sweet way to begin the week – below is a recipe for Rockpool’s Salted Caramels.  The restaurant is famous for them and the recipe is taken from Neil Perry’s latest Cookbook, Rockpool Bar & Grill and is from pastry chef Catherine Adams.  Make sure to use a digital thermometer when making these sweets, the recipe is not hard to make at all, but it’s important to be exact with the temperatures, otherwise, you could end up with caramels that don’t set, or those that are too hard.

Have a great week ahead!

Rockpool’s Salted Caramels

  • 500 grams caster sugar
  • 250 grams liquid glucose
  • 435 grams pouring cream (35% fat)
  • 125 grams butter (I used Lurpak), cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes, such as Murray River Pink sea salt
  1. Grease a 22cm square cake tin with cooking spray and line with aluminium foil. Spray again.
  2. In a large pot, combine the sugar, glucose and cream. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook gently until the mixture reaches a temperature of 113c. (It took me approximately 15 minutes to reach that heat).
  3. Using a whisk, add the butter and continue to mix until the butter has dissolved into the mixture. From here on, do not stir. Let the temperature reach 119c and remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the vanilla paste. Pour the mixture on to the greased pan. Quickly scatter the sea salt on top of the caramel.
  4. Allow the caramel to rest and cool. This should take around 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Once the caramel has cooled, remove it from the tin, remove the foil and cut into 1.5 cm strips. Then cut each strip into 2 cm pieces. Wrap in cellophane (or baking paper) and store in an air tight container in a cool dry place for up to 5 days.
Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

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Crisp Brussel Sprouts with Lentils

Crisp Brussel Sprouts with Lentils

This evening for dinner we had lamb and brussel sprouts. My nephew, who is eight, did nothing to hide his dislike for the vegetable. His parents asked him to keep an open mind and despite his protests, insisted that he at the very least, have a little taste before saying he didn’t like brussel sprouts. So he found a little leaf and took a bite and declared that he didn’t like it.

“That little piece you ate was a mint leaf.” She said, and urged him to try again. So he found some of the little cabbage and maintained that he STILL didn’t like them.

Even if I had prepared the brussel sprouts, I have to admit I couldn’t blame him. I remember as an eight year old, I had my own biases against certain vegetables. I despised eggplants and okra. I thought that they were specially created as punishment for naughty kids. I still remember my parents saying I couldn’t leave the table until all the vegetables on my plate were finished. They said to think of all the “starving children”. In my naiveté, I thought, “Well, if there are so many starving children, take the vegetables on my plate and feed it to them!”.

I know there are many who have an aversion to brussel sprouts. But this dish from Porteno Restaurant is delicious. Deep fried brussel sprouts served with lentils and sprigs of mint and dressed with a sticky vincotto dressing – it’s enough to convert anybody (that is, of course, except my nephew).

Porteno’s Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Lentils

serves 10

  • 150 grams small green lentils
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 2 kilos brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups mint, loosely packed, chopped
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 ml fig vincotto
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon (or Hot) mustard
  • salt
  1. Place the lentils in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, around 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Deep fry the brussel sprouts, around 4 to 5 minutes until the edges crisp and turn golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Season with some salt.
  3. Mix the olive oil, fig vincotto, mustard and a little more salt to taste.
  4. To serve, place the brussel sprouts in a large bowl, add the lentils, toss with the chopped mint and dressing.

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Bizou came into our lives around December of 2007.  The fact that a three hour car drive turned into eight before we finally managed to take her home should have given me some inkling on what a trouble maker she was, but of course, back then, I was just thinking of her as a companion to our other dog.  Nothing more.

It started a few days later when my Mom told me that she had seen “the little dog jump” on the table.  “All dogs do that.” I told her.  “No, I mean she jumped ON the table.”  she said.  “Impossible.”  I had never seen, nor heard of a dog jumping on the table.  I just thought it was my Mom exaggerating again until one night I heard whimpering coming from the kitchen.  Sure enough, I went down the stairs to see Bizou, on top of the table, not quite sure how to get down.

A few weeks later my husband and I came home from work late one evening.  I went straight upstairs to change while he let the dogs in from the garage.  “Oh no!” I heard him scream.  “Oh no… Bizou, what did you do!…Trissa, you have to come and see what Bizou ate.”  he called out.  My heart sank.  The dogs had been by themselves the whole day and she could have eaten anything in the garage.  I rushed down to see Bizou, wobbling towards me, her stomach had bloated to three times its normal size.  Had she managed to accidentally eat a tennis balls that got stuck in her tummy?  As I rushed to call the emergency vet hospital I heard my husband laughing.  He walked in from the garage with five kilo bag of dog food which she had somehow managed to open and finish almost all the contents of!

And that was the story of Bizou.  Always getting herself into some kind of trouble.  I can’t count the number of times we had to rush her to the vet because she managed to get a hold of some chocolate.  There was one week she went to the vet twice to have her stomach pumped because of it. It was almost ridiculous as the vet was always scolding me for keeping chocolate lying around.  “I promise you,” I told him “I don’t keep it lying around.  She knows how to pull down latches and open doors!” I told him. I once kept a box of Lindt chocolate in the guest room.  The next morning I woke up to find the door open, little wrappers of Lindt chocolate lying on the floor, along with the empty box.  I swear to you, I had shut the door.  Had she actually managed to pull down the latch to open the door?  My suspicions were confirmed months later when a house guest told me that late one night she had caught Bizou opening the door to the room.  So despite the incredulous look the vet gave me, I knew this to be true.

Of course her appetite wasn’t limited to chocolate – she would eat anything and everything.  I once left a block of butter out to soften overnight.  The next morning the butter was missing from the table so I thought that someone had placed it back into the refrigerator.  I only managed to put the pieces together after seeing an empty butter wrapper on the floor noticing Bizou’s bad tummy.  Then there was the time she and Baci ate a whole bag of sugar… and flour (that happened twice actually).  Flour?!?… seriously.  I  learned to keep everything locked up in the pantry after that.

Is it strange to think that I could learn something from this silly silly dog?  She was certainly fearless.  I remember the first time we took her by the water in Balmain.  She jumped right in – no hesitation.  She loved to swim, regardless of the weather, no matter how choppy the water.  I used to throw sticks as far as I could and she would race with other dogs to get them.  She would win every single time.  But that was the kind of dog Bizou was – she would dive head first into the things she loved… and who cared about the consequences afterwards?  Certainly not her. You know the saying, it is better to ask forgiveness than permission?  That was Bizou.

When I learned that she was prone to ear infections, I tried to get her to stop swimming.  I would try to steer her away from the water but no matter how far we were from it, she always managed to run away from me and jump in.  I would scold her about it afterwards but she would always give me this look like – “whatever I did wrong, it was worth it!”

From Bizou I learned the meaning of unconditional love and devotion.  Many times, when my husband was away for work, I would love nothing more than to sit on the lounge, in front of the TV, she would jump up on the couch and lay her head on my lap, look at me with her doleful eyes and quietly fall asleep.  Then she would slowly turn so I could rub her tummy.  She loved that.

My husband and I would love to take both dogs for a walk on the weekends.  Towards the end of the walk, as we walked past the strip of stores on the main street, I’d ask my husband to take both dogs home so I could browse through the shops.  A few minutes later, as I emerged from the stores, I would see my husband, only managing to walk a few meters away, waiting for me.  “Why didn’t you go home?” I would ask.  “Bizou didn’t want to leave without you.” he would say.  She would plant herself on the ground, refusing to move until I was ready to walk with them home.  You couldn’t get more loyal than that.

One of the things our dogs loved to do was to sleep on our bed with us.  Bizou would always manage to sneak up on the bed when we weren’t looking.  Some people would think she was stubborn, I like to think she was determined.  Having said that, we never liked to encourage it and instead we preferred them to stay on the dog beds on the floor.

Yesterday morning, for some reason, I gave in and got Bizou and Baci to stay on the bed with me.  Bizou was so happy.  She kept on trying to lick my face.

Little did I know that this would be the last time Bizou would get into the bed with me.

A few hours later, my husband called to say that there had been an accident.  Bizou had bolted out of the gate and had been hit by a car.

At that time, I thought it wasn’t anything serious.  After all, Bizou had been in many “accidents” before and had always managed to scrape by.

My husband rushed her to the animal hospital and I met them there.  She must have been in shock but she seemed calm.  I noticed she was breathing heavily and I held her as the vet started the examination.  She had a cut above her eye and I whispered that it was going to be okay.   She gave her a heavy dose of painkillers and oxygen to keep her breathing steady.  Nothing really sank in until the vet said that she had suffered heavy internal bleeding and that she would have to be moved quickly to an emergency hospital.

And then her heart stopped.  They were pushing on her chest and feeding her more oxygen… over and over… and over.  I heard the vet say that they were going to try and give her a shock to her heart but it all happened so quickly… and then the doctor looked at me… and it was finally over.

Of all the posts I have written on this blog, this has certainly been the most painful to write… but I want to make sure that she is remembered for the beautiful and wonderful dog she was.  She was meant to be a companion to our other dog Baci… and then she had to go charm her way into our hearts.

Of her almost four years with us, if there is anything sure, it’s that Bizou had a great life.  She sure got into a lot of trouble, but she was always loved no matter what… and as hard as it was to be there watching her life slip away, I am glad that she knew we were with her until the end.

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Raspberry and Cream Cheese Brioche

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Brioche

We were once asked to fill out a questionnaire at work that was meant to assess our strengths and weaknesses.  The survey had over 150 questions and we were meant to share our results with our group when done.  After the 10th question, I gave up, there was simply no way I was going to sit through the remaining 140.  I decided instead to ask my husband what he thought my strengths were, and what areas I could improve on.

“On the positive side,” he said “you are resourceful, always wanting to learn new things and you get along well with others.”

“But…” I asked.

“Well, you’re impatient” he told me.  “Impatient?? I’m not impatient!” I protested.

“You are – you can’t even sit down long enough to fill out a survey!” he answered.

Point taken.

When I want something, I want it right NOW.  The smallest hint of delay can frustrate and exasperate me.


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The other day I came across an email written by a Japanese lady who lives in Australia.  I had been watching the news and was saddened about the tsunami and earthquakes that have hit Japan but nothing was quite as moving as the letter I had read.  I thought instead of summarizing the letter, I would share parts of it with you instead – in the hopes you will be as persuaded as I was to help.

You know what’s happening in Japan. It’s just so horrible.. My family is down south in Hiroshima so they are OK but still….I can’t believe what’s happening to my own country. I am very emotional. Unfortunately not everything is broadcasted out of Japan.
Current situation is very bad and even people  who have survived earthquake and tsunami are dying at shelters.  It’s so cold over there, plus they are terribly lacking food, water, blankets, clothes, petrol, everything! Babies do not have nappies or formula so they keep crying.  Mothers’ milk is not flowing under this stressful situation. (of course mothers are not having enough nutrition either)

But please do not misunderstand. They say they have got enough food etc. within the country but the power plants are not operating, roads are blocked, ports and airports are broken too so they simply can’t reach the affected area.
People can’t wash their  face, brush their  teeth, or even simply wash hands. They can’t even have a rice ball for each meal and the other day I saw a family on TV collecting water from the river to use it for cooking.

People who are looking for their loved ones can’t do so because they do not have petrol. Huge amount of food etc is stopped just so close to the affected area because the vehicles have run out of petrol.  It’s awful!

Roads there are quickly getting rebuilt and the government are carrying petrol (which is so badly lacking in the north) from the western and southern parts of Japan. So I am sure the situation will get better soon, but we need
financial help to recover everything. We are not a poor country but we surely do not have enough money to rebuild everything and support so many survivors.  So…

Big or small doesn’t matter.

Japanese Red Cross

Australian Red Cross

Dear Friends,

Here’s another way to help… A group of us bloggers are having an auction and all proceeds will go to Japan’s Relief Efforts. The three icons of Australian cooking, Margaret Fulton, Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer  – have generously donated autographed copies of their cookbooks to be auctioned off. This is a great opportunity to get your hands on these wonderful books and help at the same time.  I am hoping you will support our efforts.

Below is a list of what’s up for auction from me (and below is a list of what other bloggers have generously donated).  I will ship for free anywhere in Australia.  The auction ends 10 April so be quick… Please help me to spread the word – let all your family and friends know, tweet this post, facebook it, and share this post and let’s make this a great success!

Thank you.


Stephanie Alexander Gift Set

The Cook’s Companion has established itself as the kitchen ‘bible’ in over 300 000 homes since it was first published in 1996. Stephanie Alexander has added over 300 new recipes as well as 12 new chapters to this thoroughly revised and updated edition. Stephanie believes that good food is essential to living well: her book is for everyone, every day. The book offers invaluable information about ingredients, cooking techniques and kitchen equipment, along with inspiration, advice and encouragement and close to 1000 failsafe recipes.

If you have ever dreamed of picking fresh salad leaves for the evening meal, gathering vine-ripened tomatoes or pulling up your own sweet carrots, Kitchen Garden Companion is the book for you. Follow in the footsteps of one of Australia’s best-loved cooks and food writers as she reveals the secrets of rewarding kitchen gardening. Be encouraged by detailed gardening notes that explain how adults and children alike can plant, grow and harvest 73 different vegetables, herbs and fruit, and try some of the 250 recipes that will transform your fresh produce into delicious meals. Whether you have a large plot in a suburban backyard or a few pots on a balcony, you will find everything you need to get started in this inspiring and eminently useful garden-to-table guide.

Maggie Beer’s Maggie’s Kitchen

Maggie Beer is one of Australia’s best-known food personalities. As well as appearing as co-host of the weekly program The Cook and the Chef on ABC TV and writing books, Maggie devotes her time to her export kitchen in the Barossa Valley, which produces a wide range of pantry items for domestic and international markets. Maggie was also recognised as Senior Australian of the year in 2010 for inspiring joy to many Australians through food.

From Maggie’s own kitchen come 120 favourite recipes she has shared with her television audience, as well as the everyday basics Maggie believes form the foundations of a good food life.

Margaret Fulton Favourites

The woman who taught Australia to cook, Margaret Fulton, brings together her favourite “everyday cooking” dishes for you to create and enjoy.

This stunningly-illustrated book is a delight to read, with each triple-tested recipe introduced by the kitchen queen herself. You won’t be able to resist dishes like French Roast Chicken Dinner and Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding. There are plenty of tips too.  A special thank you to Hill of Content Bookshop for kindly donating this cookbook.

In a land far away, the tremors have yet to subside, the Earth has still not stopping shaking and continues to heave ever so often. Yet, the people from the Land of the Rising Sun, have already started picking up the pieces and putting them together, displaying enormous courage in the face of despair to reach out and help others even when they have little themselves. This display of true spirit and common bond cannot but fail to inspire and move us.

In an effort to lend a helping hand (humble as it may be) and in support of the perseverance of human spirit, a small group of international food bloggers have come together to put their passion for food to a charitable cause. The International Food Bloggers Auction for Japan is a contributive effort from these bloggers to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross Society towards their disaster relief efforts.

Each blogger has pledged an item that will be auctioned to be sold to the highest bidder. Details of the pledges are included below. The auction will run live from March 23, 2011 to April 10, 2011, during which period, readers may bid on as many items as they wish. Once the auction closes and the highest bidder is identified, the person will receive the item that he/she bid for and the bid amount will be donated to Japanese Red Cross in entirety.
Participating Bloggers and Items Pledged

* Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen – 2 boxes each of a dozen assorted Eggless Decorated Sugar Cookies to 2 of the highest bidders
* Asha of Fork Spoon Knife – Breakfast Basket with Homemade Granola with Fruits and Nuts, Orange Marmalade and Strawberry Jam
* Asha of Fork Spoon Knife – Peanut Goodies Basket, sponsored by Peanut Butter & Co. Hamper includes 1 large picnic basket with 8 jars of a variety of peanut butters from Dark Chocolate Dreams to Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, 3 jars of fruit preserves and jelly, 1 jar of peanut pretzels and a Peanut Cookbook
* Liren of Kitchen Confidante – Afternoon Tea Basket, inspired by my husband’s family who spent 5 years in Japan. It will have a freshly baked loaf of our family’s Buttermilk Banana Bread, a tin of Samovar Green Tea, and a variety of sweets and local goodies from the Bay Area.
* Simone of Junglefrog Cooking – Traditional Dutch Basket with many Dutch food items like stroopwafels, Dutch Cheese and much more and also Muider schipperbitter which is a typical Dutch alcoholic drink
* Trissa of Trissalicious – Signed copies of cookbooks from Australian cooking icons Maggie Beer, Margaret Fulton and Stephanie Alexander
* Vanille of At Down Under – Kiwi Basket with 1 pot of NZ organic Manuka honey (J.Friend & Co – 160g), 1 pot of NZ organic Kamahi honey (J.Friend & Co – 160g), 1 bottle of Feijoa and limeblossom juiced tea (Teza – 325ml) and a reusable shopping bag (Ooid Design – 100% Organic cotton)

Rules of the Auction

1. Auction Period: March 23, 2011 to April 10, 2011.
2. The auction is open to all readers across the globe. Availability of items is as indicated in the Auction Bid Form.
3. Bid entries are to be made using the Auction Bid Form.
4. Bidding can be for one or more items. Multiple bids from the same bidder will be accepted and highest bid will be taken into account. Minimum and High bids for each item will be made available at the end of each day.
5. Auction closes at 12pm EST, April 10, 2011. Highest bidders and bid amounts will be revealed in a post by April 12, 2011.
6. The winners will be asked to transfer the pledged amount through PayPal, which, will then be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society via Google Crisis Response.
7. Winners will receive their items within two weeks of the reveal post announcing the winners.

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It was really only a day or two ago I realized how badly I underestimated how much devastation has been brought about by the floods occurring in Queensland.  Already, three quarters of the state has been declared a disaster zone.

In September 2009 a typhoon hit the Philippines.  My parents, were among those affected.  The entire first floor of our home was submerged in water and our cars were destroyed in the floods.  Having said that, they consider themselves lucky.   Many people lost their lives and their homes.  I remember calling my Mom every hour to check how high the water had reached.  It was awful feeling so helpless as my Mom described how they had to move all the furniture to the second floor of our house.  Tonight, when I asked my Mom to describe what happened to them during that time, she couldn’t finish her account of the events without her voice cracking.  She recounted how the floods had subsided after a night… In Queensland, the floods have been going on for 20 days.

Knowing somewhat first hand how anxious and devastated many of the people affected by the floods are feeling, I urge you all to contribute whatever you can to help.

As I mentioned earlier, I underestimated how badly Queensland has been affected by the floods – but, let’s not underestimate how our contributions, no matter how little, can go a long way.

Donate Now.

Red Cross


Flood Relief Appeal

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Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil

Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil

My friends have been known to say that I like to complicate things.    I once complained to my husband that there was too much sun coming into the bedroom window which was waking me up earlier than I wanted.  I thought long and hard about how to fix this and finally I decided that I was going to buy large sheets of black paper and sticky tape and cover the windows to block out the morning sun.  So off I went to buy the supplies and was excited to show my husband my handiwork.

“What are you doing??”  My husband asked when he entered the room.


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Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)

Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)

Very early on Saturday, with my husband still in a deep slumber, I snuck out of bed, put on my thickest pair of socks and tiptoed down to the kitchen.  I held my breath as I passed the guest room, fearing that even my breathing would be loud enough to be heard.   The wagging of the dog’s tails against the wooden walls magnified across the hallway and I tried to calm them down to prevent anyone from waking.

Finally, I got to the kitchen… “I made it!” I thought.  I was finally going to have a few hours in the kitchen all to myself!

Because as you all know, when Mom’s are visiting – you pretty much have to give up whatever rights you have in the kitchen because, when they’re around the kitchen ain’t yours… it’s theirs!

I wanted to make this this Tortilla Espanola (Spanish style Potato Omelette) for a tapas party I was throwing for New Year’s day.  Made with only four very accessible ingredients (eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil), a really good tortilla is guaranteed not only to bring any Spaniard to their knees, it’s also sure to please any guest for a tapas party. It’s also great eaten cold or at room temperature so you can make it in advance for any occasion.

And whatever happened to my covert CIA operation? It pretty much lasted a whole five minutes before I turned around, saw my Mom and heard her ask “Can I help?”


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