Steamed coconut buns

Quick and easy steamed buns to serve with pork or stir-fries

The first time I saw this recipe I refused to believe it was so easy. It comes from Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals book and I’ve used it time and time again. He creates a great chicken dim sum recipe with them but the buns were a bigger hit than the chicken in my house. There’s a great cucumber pickle he served with it though which I’ve put below.

Check out my buns
Check out my buns

The main thing to remember with these is to not over mix them. Jamie does it in a food processor (for speed basically) but I generally do it by hand because washing a food processor is a bastard of a thing I actively try to avoid.

Think of it  – loosely – like a scone dough. Bring it together, form a log, portion it and voila!

Dongpo (think slow cooked in soy) pork w/steamed buns for #everyfuckingnight
Dongpo (think slow cooked in soy) pork w/steamed buns for #everyfuckingnight

Steamed coconut buns
Fantastic Chinese steamed buns
Cuisine: Chinese
  • 1 400g tin coconut milk
  • 2 heaped cans full of SR flour
  • Good pinch of salt
  1. Tip the coconut milk into a bowl
  2. Add the flour and salt and bring together into a dough
  3. Tip onto a floured benchtop, roll into a log, then break into 8 even pieces
  4. Place each piece into a muffin case and put them into a bamboo steamer, they should be quite snug
  5. Put a wok over high heat and fill about 10cm deep with water, bring to the boil
  6. Put the steamer over the top of the water and cook for 10 minutes

Quick cucumber pickle
A quick cucumber pickle which brightens any meal!
  • 1 telegraph cucumber (or 2 Lebanese cucumbers)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
  1. Peel the cucumber into long strips using a vegetable peeler or slice very thinly
  2. Mix with the soy and vinegar
  3. THAT'S IT!


Zucchini gratin

A beautiful bake of zucchini, rice and cheese

Sometimes you make something that forces you to slow down. For me that normally involves baking and I love it. You can’t rush yeast, a cake needs time, dough wants methodical kneading, pastry asks for, well, everything.

So I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and while I am not the greatest fan of zucchini I needed to make it instantly. What I didn’t realise was it was going to force me to go slow and follow a number of steps. I am, in reality, a much more ‘bung it all in and hope for the best’ cook.

Salting the zucchini
Salting the zucchini

It’s based on a Julia Child recipe and while I own her voluminous Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2 I have never cooked from them. So I was, in effect, uninitiated.

You have no choice but to slow down but I was making it for dinner so didn’t want to slow down and got a bit cranky with the whole thing. Salting zucchinis, par-boiling rice, slowly sweating off onions, it doesn’t sound like much but for a weeknight #everyfuckingnight it was frustrating.

Stupidly labour and saucepan intensive zucchini gratin ready for the oven
Stupidly labour and saucepan intensive zucchini gratin ready for the oven

But dagnammit it tasted out of this world which annoyed me even more (and everyone except Felix inhaled it). So my advice is definitely make it but go into it with patience, a willingness to wash up a lot and the knowledge you will be handsomely rewarded.

Voila! Zucchini gratin for #everyfuckingnight (and probably never again).
Voila! Zucchini gratin for #everyfuckingnight (and probably never again).

Zucchini gratin
  • 1.1kg zucchini
  • 1½ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup white rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tblsp plain flour
  • Milk, as needed, although broth of your choice would work just fine
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and put your oven rack in the top third of your oven
Prepare the zucchini
  1. Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Grate using a food processor unless you're a masochist and want to do it by hand
  2. Place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with kosher salt then let drain (according to Julia Child for 5 minutes). I weighted it and drained it for 30 minutes. Don't throw the liquid away
  3. Squeeze a little bit out and taste it. If it's really overly salty (mine was) rinse it under the tap and squeeze out (this water you don't save).
  4. Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls collecting the juices into the bowl of drained liquid. You really want to squeeze it out so you don't have soggy gratin.
Prepare rice
  1. Bring to the boil for just 5 minutes then drain and set aside.
Prepare the rest
  1. In a large frying pan, cook the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent.
  2. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Assemble dish
  1. Measure the drained liquid from the zucchini. You want 2½ cups. I got that exactly (skill!) but if you don't add some milk to make up the difference.
  2. Stir into zucchini-onion mixture, return pan to stove over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese (I added all the cheese then sprinkled extra over the top because, cheese.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle over more cheese and dot with butter
  6. Bake for 30 minutes (if it's browning too quickly cover with foil then uncover again for the last 5 minutes.



Twice baked potatoes

One of my greatest failings as a parent is that I have produced children who don’t like mashed potato. How is that even possible? I mean potato, unholy amounts of butter and milk with plenty of salt and pepper, what is not to love. So, when I made these for #everyfuckingnight I was pretty nervous I’d be left eating them for days, but I totally tricked them with bacon, sourcream and cheese! Huzzah!

I based mine on a Pioneer Woman‘s recipe but used violently less butter and completely forgot to add the milk. I also didn’t have/couldn’t find the potatoes on steroids PW used.

While I’ve put some measures in this I strongly advise you to trust yourself and go largely by sight. PW used 8 super big potatoes, I used 6 smaller mid sized ones, probably about a kilo? So look, That’s what I did and they worked a treat.

Twice baked potatoes about to go back in the oven.
Twice baked potatoes about to go back in the oven.


Twice baked potatoes
Potatoes mashed with bacon, sour cream and cheese. Get onto it.
  • 5-6 mid sized potatoes (ideally use much bigger ones and follow PW's recipe linked to above)
  • oil
  • 4-6 slices streaky bacon, or 3-4 traditional rashers
  • 1 tbsp butter, I really think it's optional
  • about 125g or heaped ½cup sour cream, I just used a large tablespoon and used about ½ a 30ml tub
  • good pinch of salt and cracked pepper
  • 2 good handfuls of grated cheese
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  1. Preheat your oven to 200C
  2. Rub potatoes with oil, place on baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or until they're soft on the inside and the skins are slightly crisp
  3. While they're cooking, fry the bacon
  4. Place the bacon, sour cream, butter and seasonings in a bowl
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked, hold them in a tea-towel and cut down through the middle lengthways
  6. Scoop the potato into the bowl with the bacon and sour cream, don't be too precious here, just try not to scoop through the skin
  7. Use a masher and mash up the potato and bacon
  8. Stir in one good handful of cheese and the spring onions
  9. Spoon back into the potato skins, now, when I did this I had two potato skins left over, just so you know the same might happen to you
  10. Put back on the baking tray, sprinkle over more cheese and pop back in the oven
  11. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is all melty and golden


Twice baked potatoes
Twice baked potatoes


Szechuan-style eggplant

HOLY SMOKE peeps, these are if you’re looking for something hot, something vegetarian and something addictive that is not chocolate or doughnuts. And well, savoury.

Here is my biggest tip in the whole Asian cooking thing. As far as I’m concerned it is the zenith for mis-en-place. Have all your ducks lined up in a row people, have it beside the stove and go go go. GO!

Shallots, garlic and ginger
The starting point


Eggplants, chilli bean paste, vinegar, szechuan peppers
Penis eggplants!


Frying eggplant
Deep frying makes everything better


Fried eggplant
A thing of beauty


Sauce for Szechuan eggplant
Cooking off the sauce.


Szechuan-style eggplant
Heaven on a plate

Szechuan-style eggplant

From Neil Perry, balance & harmony Asian food

  • 550g Japanese eggplants
  • 500ml vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 knob ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3tbsp shaoxing
  • 3tbsp hot bean paste
  • 2 1/2 tbsp yellow bean soy sauce (I just used dark soy)
  • 100ml rice vinegar
  • 65g (1/3 cup) crushed yellow rock sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground Szechuan pepper
  1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways while the oil is heating in the wok. Once it’s smoking then deep-fry the eggplants until golden brown. This doesn’t take that long, and I just turned them every so often.I often find deep-frying quite stressful, the whole is it cooked enough, is the oil hot enough, too hot, blah blah blah. Now I just wait until it’s really smoking and then hope for the best. If I’m deep-frying something like chicken with bones in it then I will cook until golden and put on a rack in the oven (on about 180C) while I cook the rest of it. Seems to work a treat.
  2. Pour that oil into a container, then put about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and once smoking add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Keep them moving and once you can really smell their goodness then add the shaoxing.
  3. Then add the chilli paste, soy, vinegar and sugar. (Have this all measured and in a bowl together so you can just toss it in.) Bring to the boil and cook for two minutes.
  4. Add the eggplants, mashing them slightly so they absorb more of the flavour and cook for another two minutes.
  5. Turn onto a plate and scatter over some more shallots and ground Szechuan pepper.
  6. Devour.


Chilli bean paste
Current chilli addiction.



Spaghetti with cauliflower strascicata and pennies dropping

Jared Ingersoll’s Spaghetti with cauliflower strascicata (but made with broccoli)

Adapted from Danks Street Depot  


  • 1 packet spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of broccoli (if using cauliflower the recipe stipulates 1/2 head)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 large red chillies, chopped (seeds in if you like it hot) – leave out if making for kids
  • 1 tblsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted in a 160C oven until golden
  • 200g parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  1. Cook the spaghetti then drain and toss through a little of the olive oil
  2. cook the broccoli in the rest of the olive oil
  3. once it starts to colour add the garlic, then the anchovies, capers and olives (and chillies if using)
  4. cook until the broccoli is nice and soft
  5. add half the parsley and the spaghetti and toss thoroughly
  6. once the spaghetti is nicely reheated add the breadcrumbs, parmesan and left over parsley
  7. As the parmesan starts to stick to the bottom of the pan use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan
  8. Serve with a wedge of lemon – totally lifts the whole dish.

This recipe is taken from the Dank Street Depot cookbook, but they use cauliflower and also put a couple of red chillies in there. I just used what I had, in that I used broccoli not cauli, didn’t have any herbs to speak of and also didn’t put nearly that amount of parmesan in it. But it was delicious and the kids loved it. Shame about the finger I nearly lopped off when chopping the olives.


The boy made eyes at me all day yesterday. It came after I had thought to myself that he’d changed in the last 24 hours. Then those eyes, still deciding what colour they’re going to be, that look like pools of mercury cornered me so. Taking my breath away.
But he has. Changed that is. His face has changed shape ever so slightly and there is intent in his gaze.


He’s a screamer too, which has taken me a little aback.


He wakes with a good hearty yell and needs several of them before going off to sleep.


Tonight, I tried to settle him in his cot as he is very partial to going to sleep and then sleeping on me. And I am very nervy about setting up bad habits now. I know I know, it’s not even three weeks yet. But I know what I need to stay sane.





Badger wrote today about not being that much of a baby person and that she’s really glad it’s me here lactating not her. And the thing is, I hear her loud and clear. I guess it seems so contradictory to say that I’m not really a baby person when I’m here with number four (and that suddenly the idea of Chef getting the snip seems so… final, and maybe, just maybe I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. If you get my drift.)
Like Badger, I enjoy my children the older they get. I suck up everything they write about read Badger, Blackbird and Suse with their older boys as it is so obvious how much they too enjoy each of their children the older they get.


I think I said it before, but I really do just ‘function’ through these early weeks and indeed years.


Having Jasper has given me the chance to enjoy those younger toddler years that I barely escaped with my life with Oscar and Felix. In fact Chef and I refer to them as the dark years.


But being back in the land with a toddler and a neonate ain’t no picnic and I’m not about to perpetuate some earth-mother myth that it is. I find it a bloody hard slog. I internally scream at least once a day. Progress (from the days of Oscar and Felix as toddlers) is that I can now see a bad day as just that and not spiral into an abyss of “holy fuck I’ve really ruined my life and this parenting thing is scary shit that I’m not cut out for and why is Chef just sitting on the lounge over there, Jesus Christ who did I marry and while I’m fuming why don’t I just eat a block of chocolate washed down with a bottle of wine followed by a large packet of chips with maybe half a cake as a digestiv”.


But that doesn’t lessen the number of bad days. Or OK days. Or fucking brilliant days.


And that scream? Used to be loud. And ugly. And directed at my children or my husband.


Now, just as there are bad days and good days, the scream is just a scream, simple frustration at trying to reason with a child to young to understand that watching Thomas the Tank Engine for six hours straight is ENOUGH ALREADY and tiredness from helping a newborn work out what on earth has happened to his safe, warm cocoon and negotiate his first few days in the world and exasperation with a nine year old asking “what next Muma” for the upteenth time.


But I know this time will pass quicker than it currently feels it is and that indeed I won’t ever really remember what it was like (hell, isn’t that why we all go back and do it more than once?).


And I look at my bigger boys with that swelling chest kind of pride.
Oh sure, they can shit me big time.
But it’s the honour in being a part of forming a person. Of being there each and every day and seeing their passions develop, of helping them through the rocky parts and of just hanging out that just rocks my world.
So while I am a pretty utilitarian when it comes to me as the mother of a newborn and toddler, while I tend to just clench the jaw, grit my teeth and beligerently tackle each and every day one by one I do so now with a quiet peace that the days I truly get a kick out of, dare I say enjoy are not that far away.


And in a funny way, knowing that makes me enjoy this time with Jasper and Grover in a way I never did with the first two.
Perspective is a wonderful thing isn’t it?


But this realisation? Which softens me ever so slightly has made me realise and recognise some other things about myself…

– that I always say I love change and really? I don’t. Sure it depends on the situation but in all honesty I like order and structure and knowing what I’m doing today, tomorrow and where I’m headed beyond that. I write endless lists. I concoct six month, 1,2 and 5 year plans. On everything.

– that I’m easy going. I put this in the same category as all fat people are jolly and all black people can dance. I like things done certain ways and I get antsy when people do it differently. Even if it’s in their own home. This is bad. I know. I am better at not caring or being such a control freak these days, but that’s just because I’m tired and more focused on ensuring one of my kids isn’t drowning eating all the junk food playing doctors and nurses missing.

– that I’m taking it one day at a time, but I always have my eye on the horizon (I’ve been talking to people about work for goodness sake… and I don’t go back until February).

– I really need to learn how to relax. Without it involving eating or consuming alcohol.

– I can be perceived as exuding confidence and self-assuredness but in reality am plagued by self-doubt and need a lot of reassurance and positive affirmations from those around me. Not everyone mind you, I have particular people, mentors if you will, in all aspects of my life whose opinion I seek out and use as a kimometre.

– While in my work I adhere to the policy of “not a word too many” here I waffle on and on and on…


I saw my shrink today and we both agreed that I’m travelling ok considering the baby isn’t even three weeks old. I told him how on the days I feel like I’m being swallowed by the relentlessness of the routine (or lack thereof) of domestic oblivion I adhere to the policy of ‘just achieve one thing’. So instead of being overwhelmed by the “I have to clean the house” I work to the “just get one load of washing done”.


He told me about how today there is this absolute focus on “outcomes” and that it is such a bankrupt mindset in that it pays no heed to the effort put in to get to that outcome, the quality of the work along the way and so on. And that my attitude was the right way to go – I mean, what is the point of me having the outcome of “I must have the entire house cleaned and pristine” if reaching that outcome turns me into a suicidal mess?


Instead, I focus on just one aspect of the outcome, and the sense of achievement in getting that done probably gets me closer to the goal intact than if I started at our ensuite and worked my way through the house to the back doors. We also talked – a lot – about my mother. But that is for another time.

I don’t think I’ve said anything well here. I can almost hear the pissed-off-ness of those who are trying to have children or would love to have a brood and thinking how ungrateful I am or how different they would be if they had four children and the rest of you? Well the collective head tilt is going to give you all a stiff neck. Just take it as the ramblings of a tired woman who had baby vomit on her shoulder for so long it dried and went crusty before she noticed it and almost cut off a finger tonight when trying to make dinner with a crying baby and a toddler demanding The Woefuls Wiggles and Thomas on alternately after each story and whose favourite activity is now climbing onto the coffee table, then standing on the arm of the chair and taking flying leaps onto the lounge and two bigger boys being absolute legendary angels.


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