So, why another food blog? Well, it’s a long story, and I tend to ramble, so take this as your warning that this is going to take a while. Think ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ – kind of takes ages, necessary to set the scene for everything that follows, and does get more exciting towards the end. (We’ve actually just answered part of the question ‘why a blog?’ My primary school reports are full of comments about what a chatterbox I was. Nothing has changed, and my tendency to ramble has found its way online. When I started posting photos on Instagram with essay length captions, it became clear that I needed another outlet for my words.)
So, why another food blog? Let’s start with the obvious. I LOVE FOOD. There are many reasons for this. However as a First Cause, it’s pretty hard to go past the fact that I was given a Chinese restaurant for my fourth birthday. Okay, that’s not entirely true. My parents had a Chinese Restaurant, and the opening night was on my birthday – you can see how I might have been confused about the ownership. Anyway, my parents’ restaurant was full of that fake lemon chicken, sweet & sour, and birds nest stuff, and it was seventh heaven for a four year old. My life revolved around the walk-in-fridge (darting in to grab a soft drink, and then trying to get out before the door slammed shut. Occasionally I was too slow, and would have to wait for one of the chefs to come in looking for spring onions before I could get out). There were buckets of prawn crackers and fried noodles. A deep freezer with ice-cream tubs hidden in its depths. Giant bottles of ice-cream topping. I could run through the double-swinging doors, grab a sugar cube (do they have those anymore?!), and happily stroll out sucking my sugary treat. If I was really daring, I could climb up onto the shelving of the centre island, and eat the cashews. I didn’t get into too much trouble, and if I was being really annoying, someone would spread out some newspaper, and plonk me down on it with potatoes and a peeler. I was surrounded by food, and people whose only purpose was to prepare, cook and serve food. And the food wasn’t ‘just food’. The restaurant was full of people who had come in to have a good time, and food was central to that purpose: couples on date night, birthday boys and girls, and people just looking to do something special with their leisure time. I used to climb up from my little bed by the swinging doors, peer through the one way mirror, and look at the sparkling candles and people enjoying their meals. Good food and good times, it was all the same thing. When that guiding principle underpins your understanding of the world, it’s easy to see why I love food so much.
So what sort of food do I love? Well, to give you a clue, my mantra throughout my twenties was ‘fat is flavour’. If it isn’t good for you, then I probably love it. Chicken without the skin? But that’s the best bit! Whole wheel of triple cream brie in one day (by myself)? Easy. Can I eat dessert as my main? Of course I can. Does the cleaner at the McDonalds next to work know my name because I eat there every day? Yes, and what I did on the weekend. Am I too tired to pick up something from the supermarket on the way home, but once home will miraculously find the energy to drive myself to the nearest Red Rooster for dinner? Yes, yes I will. Even though I’m running late, is there time to stop by the Vic Market to pick up an almond croissant? There is always time for an almond croissant. Fast food, cheeeeese, desserts, pastries, ice-cream, butter laden mashed potatoes, pasta – it is all the definition of good food for me, and I love it!!!!
Given I love food so much, you think I’d be pretty handy in the kitchen. Well…. not so much. My twenties were strewn with culinary disasters. Raw lamb. Uncooked eggplant. An inordinate amount of time scraping the burnt bits off toast. There was the time I went through a kilo of rice in one day, in a desperate attempt to master rice pudding (still haven’t done it). Actually, for someone who grew up in a Chinese restaurant, I have a pretty bad relationship with rice. I’ve done unspeakable things to it – I still have no idea how it’s possible to get that texture and that taste, when starting with just rice and water. Ultimately I just avoided cooking. I loved food, but at home, I only got to eat if the food came out of a box in the freezer, was delivered or could be picked up from a local fast food joint.
Then just after turning thirty, some friends decided to relocate overseas. Obviously concerned at my complete lack of life skills, two of them subjected me to a series of cooking lessons before departing (that’s a story for another post), and the third left me with a copy of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Ministry of Food’. And somehow, slowly, I started to find my feet in the kitchen. I didn’t have to throw out everything I cooked. I started to invite people over for dinner. I was, miraculously, learning how to cook. Hallelujah.
To begin with, cooking was still a fairly rare occurrence. Friends over for dinner meant an entire day in the kitchen cooking (followed by another entire day in the kitchen cleaning every single bowl, which I had somehow managed to use the previous day). However as I started to discover shortcuts, cooking became quicker, and consequently I started to cook more. I worked out that while fresh is best, if you’re trying to cook on a frequent basis, sometimes little ‘cheats’ are ok. Bottled lemon juice instead of lemons (which are also ridiculously expensive). Garlic paste instead of bulbs of garlic (half of which will sprout in the fridge between meals). Frozen spinach, instead of spending two hours picking the stalks off spinach leaves while watching an entire episode of Midsomer Murders. Using the food processor instead of grating by hand. I was developing my ‘lazy methodology’ and it was allowing me to explore more and more cooking.
Then I discovered food blogs. So many people, cooking food, creating recipes, and exploring tastes. People, who just like me, LOVE FOOD (did they all grow up in restaurants too?!?!). People who love food so much they just can’t keep it in and have to share it with the world. So obviously, it would make perfect sense that I start a food blog.
Except, all this food love is not the reason for this blog – there is a way more important reason for why I’ve started this (I know, what could be more important than food?!). But as so happens in my life, I’ve spent way too much time talking about food, and now barely have time to tell you about this amazing Pesto Pizza. Which means you’re going to have to wait for the next post to really find out why another food blog; and because I really am pretty lazy, it may be a while before the next post. Which actually works out well, as it gives you plenty of time to try this recipe and let me know how you go. 😀
Per serve: 2267 kJ, 542 Calories, 2.8 exchanges
This is my extremely lazy version of Cookie + Kate’s Arugula-Almond Pesto Pizza. Kate’s version is probably slightly healthier than mine (not to mention prettier), but it also requires making the dough from scratch and serves eight. My version (which makes four individual pizzas) uses pre-made pittes (which I always have in the freezer). I usually make two pizzas on the same day as the pesto, and then Louis and I have another two pizzas the next day. Enjoy!
- 40g fresh basil leaves
- 40g pine nuts
- 40g Pecorino
- 40ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Sea salt
- 4 Pittes
- 220g baby bocconcini, each cut in half
- 200g cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan-forced).
- Place the basil, pine nuts, Pecorino, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a generous pinch of sea salt in a food processor. Whizz together for a few seconds – you still want to have some chunky pieces. The pesto will be slightly salty, but you won’t notice this after you’ve made the pizzas.
- Spread the pesto over each pitte.
- Scatter the bocconcini and tomato over the pesto.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Eat with gusto, while avoiding the gaze of the cat.
- Ingredient variations:
- Substitute Parmesan for the Pecorino.
- Substitute garlic paste for the garlic clove.
- Direction variations:
- Use a mortar & pestle instead of food processor. I used one all last summer when making pesto – but I’ve wised up this year. The food processor gives me a good extra five minutes to waste on Instagram.
- Lazy Power-up:
- Use pre-made pesto. The ones you find in the dip section of the supermarket work well.