huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos | table twenty eight

:: It seems to me that the humble egg has become a forgotten source of protein.

Of course there’s the time-honoured (some would say religious) tradition of the Sunday fry-up but eggs are equally as brilliant at the other end of the day for dinner.

The perks – they cook quickly, there’s no prep and they’re extremely versatile. All of which are become a key factor when deciding what to cook after a day in the office.

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos | table twenty eight

I’ve found a great way to solve the ‘I want dinner in the next 20 minutes or I’m like to eat a bag of chips and a whole wheel of brie but I’m far too tired to cook’ dilemma, which starts with cooking up a big batch of a tomato-based sauce on the weekend filled with lots of good stuff, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, roasted capsicums or aubergines. Get creative and take the flavours to any country you like (add olives or sundried tomatoes for something Italian, or season with sumac and cumin to take it more in a Middle-Eastern direction). At the end of the day, the goal is the packing in as much flavour and vegetables as possible.

Portion up the sauce into single servings and freeze. That way, if you’re in need of an super fast (but most importantly, healthy) mid-week dinner, you can just defrost a portion of sauce, crack in a couple of eggs and put under the grill or in the oven until the eggs are cooked. Crumble over some feta or parmesan and you’ve got a hearty meal with a good dose of protein and vitamin-rich veg.

Huevos rancheros is a Mexican vegetarian dish more commonly associated with breakfast but it works just as well for dinner.

Although black beans seem to be more commonly used in the sauce base, I’ve used refried beans (frijoles refritos) in my version. This is another example of a sauce you could make in advance and freeze in portions ahead of the working week. You just need a few fresh ingredients on hand (avocados, coriander and tortillas), plus of course the all-important namesake –eggs.

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos | table twenty eight
huevos rancheros

with frijoles refritos

8 eggs

2 avocados, halved and sliced
8 small corn tortillas
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
fresh limes, halved to serve
cracked black pepper
sea salt

frijoles refritos
3 x 400g tins (approximately 3 cups) kidney beans, drained

2 large onions, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 3 tbsp finely chopped jalapeños
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan warm a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onions and kidney beans and gently cook for five minutes, stirring regularly to ensuring nothing sticks to the pan. You don’t want to colour the onions and beans (rather sweat them out and flavour them with the olive oil).

Add the garlic, tomatoes and jalapeños to the saucepan. Season well, cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible and simmer, uncovered, for two to three hours until the beans are soft. As the water evaporates, add more boiling water to keep the ingredients barely covered.

Once the beans are soft, drain off any excess water and mash the beans with a potato masher until the mixture is relatively smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust to your liking.

When you’re ready to start preparing the heuvos rancheros, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in low oven to warm them through.

You can either poach or fry your eggs – it’s entirely up to you. I much prefer poached eggs, done for two and half minutes in boiling salted water (which in my humble opinion makes for a perfect, partially runny yolk).

To serve, place two warmed tortillas on each plate, top with the beans, two eggs and some avocado slices. Sprinkle with fresh coriander, drizzle with olive oil and crack over a few twists of black pepper. Serve with limes for squeezing over the top and some chilli sauce (like Tabasco) for those who like some heat.

Consume with gusto!

crispy calamari with homemade aioli

crispy calamari with homemade aioli | table twenty eight

:: It was about time I ticked off another item from my ‘too difficult and irrationally scary’ list –


I have a vague memory of attempting this years ago but after ending up with a thin, split, oily mess, I threw the whole lot in the bin and have relied on Zoosh or Simon Johnson for all my mayonnaise needs since.

However, I now realise my grave error on that initial occasion was attempting to make mayonnaise in a BLENDER.

The logic clearly stemmed from the fact that I had no inclination to give my old-fashioned egg beaters a thorough workout (not to mention my poor arms)!  But the blender was an unfortunate alternative and entirely the wrong tool for the job.

Instead of lightly whipping the eggs and oil into a smooth, buttery consistency, the blades prevented the mixture from emulsifying and chopped the whole thing into an awful mess.  Blergh.

crispy calamari with homemade aioli | table twenty eight

Happily, my latest endeavour yielded far more successful results. I carefully brought together the mayonnaise in the bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer using the whipping attachment and it turned out wonderfully, with a satiny, delightfully creamy consistency.

A small addition of garlic and voila! – aioli – the perfect accompaniment for a batch of hot, crunchy deep-fried calamari.

crispy calamari with homemade aioli 005

crispy calamari
with homemade aioli

based on jamie oliver’s recipe in the april 2014 issue of delicious. magazine

400g squid, cleaned and tentacles reserved

¼ cup plain flour
2 tsp smoked paprika
sunflower oil, to deep-fry
sea salt

2 egg yolks

1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 cup light olive oil
juice of half a lemon, plus wedges to serve

To make the aioli, whisk the egg yolks until creamy (either with a hand beater or in the bowl of an electric mixer).

Stir in the mustard and gradually pour in the extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes until thickened.

Stir in a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and gradually pour in the light olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until you have a thick mayonnaise.

Stir through the garlic, season with sea salt and lemon juice to taste, adding more vinegar if needed.

Store the aioli in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to a week.

crispy calamari with homemade aioli | table twenty eight

To prepare the squid, slice the hoods lengthways to open them up. Score the insides with a criss-cross pattern and cut into triangles.

Mix together the flour, paprika and sea salt in a deep bowl and toss through the squid pieces, including the tentacles.

Fill a large saucepan or wok one-third full with sunflower oil and heat it until a pinch of flour sizzles when it hits the oil.

Shake off any excess flour from the squid pieces and fry in batches for about a minute until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle the calamari with sea salt and serve with the aioli and lemon wedges.


pecan & maple ice cream

pecan & maple ice cream | table twenty eight

:: I’ve fallen into the blissful routine of the heading to the beach every morning for a run and a swim, followed by a leisurely spot of coffee at my favourite local joint.

With my last swim being in June and my first swim of the season at the beginning of September, it goes without saying that we are incredibly blessed with our beautiful beaches and sunny skies.

Interestingly – though the sunshine is out – the coastal landscape is not quite back to its usual summer form, with the tide line still marching towards the dunes and swallowing much of the beach itself.

On one of my early morning expeditions to (for which I luckily had my camera handy), large tidal pools had formed all along the stretches of wet sand, creating a lovely rippled aquatic vista.

swanbourne beach | table twenty eight

swanbourne beach | table twenty eightswanbourne beach | table twenty eight

swanbourne beach | table twenty eightswanbourne beach | table twenty eight

swanbourne beach | table twenty eight

Ice cream seemed the perfect homage to the weather and my love of the sand and surf – especially with the kiss of salt on the caramelised pecans.

Thanks to the ladies of Have a Yummy Day for the recipe inspiration.

pecan & maple ice cream | table twenty eight

pecan & maple ice cream

inspired by the recipe featured on ‘have a yummy day’ blog

caramelised pecans
180g pecan nuts

4 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp water
sea salt

maple ice cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped

1 ¾ cups milk (whole fat)
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
¾ cup raw sugar
4 tbsp maple syrup, plus additional for serving

For the caramelised pecans, place the sugars and water in a saucepan over medium heat.

Whisking constantly, bring the ingredients to the boil (don’t worry if some of the raw sugar remains undissolved – this adds to the texture). Quickly add the nuts to the saucepan, swirl to coat with the caramel and then spread out in a single layer on a sheet of baking paper.

Sprinkle with sea salt, allow the nuts to cool and chop about two-thirds into rough pieces. Reserve the remaining whole pecans for serving.

caramelised pecans | table twenty eight

To make the maple ice cream, place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds in a stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil.

In large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and almost fluffy.

Add the maple syrup to the hot cream mixture and pour over the yolks.

Pour everything back into the saucepan and – whisking continuously – let the mixture simmer to 85°C or until it starts to thicken.

Remove the saucepan from the heat before it reaches boiling point. This is a particularly crucial bit, as the mixture will split if it’s allowed to boil.

Pour the cream mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate until cool.

pecan & maple ice cream | table twenty eight

Pour through a sieve to remove any remaining solids and churn in an ice cream maker according to the machine’s instructions.

Add the chopped pecans to the ice cream, fold through and transfer to an airtight container. Freeze for at least two hours or until solid enough to scoop.

Serve topped with the additional caramelised pecans and drizzled with maple syrup.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

:: After what feels like an impossibly hectic blur of a year, I’m now on leave for two glorious weeks.

Work has been all-consuming of late, as we’re mobilising a huge piece of kit from the other side of the globe within a very tight time frame.  While it’s been a great experience to be part of such a massive logistical challenge, it’s meant long hours in the office with little time or energy for anything else.

Domestic life became rather haphazard as a result – laundry overflowed and threatened to instigate a mutiny; grocery shopping was an entirely forgotten exercise (dinner being relegated in priority after HOT SHOWER and BED); and after one particularly intense day, I was so distracted I found myself trying to open my front door with my security pass…

The timely delivery of a menu flyer from the new pizza joint around the corner meant I got to know their driver rather well (the number of times I called there for takeaway was getting embarrassing).

And on top of my own neglectful dietary habits I kept forgetting to buy cat food, so fur child was living on rations of whatever I could find in the fridge – chorizo, smoked edam, canned tuna with ginger and soy – and one night I even cooked him an omelette.

Ironically, in the face of these more than usual gourmet offerings, I was treated to questioning meows wanting to know where the real cat food was hiding and blatant rejection of aforementioned dishes (I’m sure parents of fussy children everywhere can relate to such rebuffs).

bailey | table twenty eightbailey | table twenty eight

But I finally made it to freedom, oh sweet freedom!

Being able to move at my own pace…  Taking time for a cup of tea in the morning… Sitting in the sunshine with Bailey and reading a book… Listening to Pink Floyd whilst cataloging photos from my holiday from last year…

These are the small pleasures I’ve been able to embrace.

And of course it also means I can get back into the kitchen at long last.

I’ve had this dish bookmarked for a time when I could set aside a few leisurely hours for pasta-making.

The salty, caramalised butter works wonderfully with the earthy beetroot and herbaceous, fragrant sage – and it’s also a visually lovely dish with those distinctive little magenta pillows.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

beetroot ravioli with
sage & brown butter

adapted from the july 2014 issue of delicious. magazine

8 small cooked beetroots, peeled and cooled

2 large pontiac or desiree potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup smooth ricotta
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
125g unsalted butter
20 fresh sage leaves
white pepper
sea salt

pasta dough (jamie oliver’s recipe here)
500g plain flour

5 eggs

Start by preparing the pasta dough, so it can rest while you make the filling.

Place the flour on a clean, dry surface or in a large bowl, and make a well in the centre.

Crack the eggs into the well and beat with a fork until smooth.

Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the surrounding flour, incorporating a little at a time until everything is combined.

Alternatively, you can make your dough in a food processor if you have one.  Whiz the two ingredients together until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to a work surface and bring the dough together into one lump using your hands.

Once you’ve made the dough, it’s time to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour.

When the pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury, it’s done.

Wrap the single piece of dough in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.

beetroots | table twenty eight

For the ravioli filling, start by puréeing the beetroots and garlic in a food processor.

Cook the potato in a saucepan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes until tender.  Drain, mash and cool slightly.

Combine the beetroot purée, mashed potato, ricotta and parmesan, mixing thoroughly with a fork until you can no longer see traces of white ricotta.  Season well with white pepper and sea salt, and set aside while you roll out your pasta dough.

Divide the dough into four pieces.  Set your pasta machine to its widest setting and roll a lump of pasta dough through it, lightly dusting the pasta with flour if it starts to stick.

Run a piece of dough through a few times, folding in half each time until you reach a smooth, even consistency.

Keep rolling the dough through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to the thinnest, lightly dusting the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through.

You should end up with four long, thin sheets of pasta.

Fresh pasta dries out very quickly, so don’t leave it for more than a minute or two before cutting or shaping it.  Lay a damp tea towel over the top to help stop it from drying out.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

Cut the sheets into 10cm squares and place one teaspoon of filling in the centre of half of the squares.

Lightly brush the edges around the filling with a tiny amount of water and place another square over top.

Press down the edges to seal the ravioli and make sure that any air is pushed out as you go.

Neaten and trim the edges as required and then transfer to a tray generously dusted with plain flour.  Set aside for 15 minutes to dry out a little.

Melt the butter in a frypan over medium heat.

Add the sage leaves until the butter is brown and the sage leaves are crisp.

Cook the ravioli in batches, in a large pot of boiling salted water until they float to the surface.

Remove with a slotted spoon, distribute between serving plates and drizzle the brown butter over the top.  Serve with extra parmesan.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

red wine poached pears with lime mousse

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

:: When I was young, one of my favourite desserts was my grandmother’s poached pears.

She would poach the pears until only just cooked through – al dente – with reams of whole lemon peel and a modest splash of red wine that turned the poaching liquid a lovely rose colour.

I remember they were delicious by themselves but Grandmama often served them with a dollop of thick greek yogurt and the rosé-hued syrup spooned over the top.

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

This recipe is sort of the grown-up version, with a rich, velvety syrup reminiscent of mulled wine and fruit destined for far greater things than being spooned over one’s morning muesli.

The lime mousse is a wonderful culinary discovery that I’ll be keeping on file for future desserts. The infusion of citrus makes a nice alternative to regular whipped cream and provides a lovely lift to the sumptuous, spiced pears.

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

red wine poached pears
with lime mousse

from the december 2011 issue of delicious. magazine

6 firm pears (such as packham or corella)

2 cups red wine
400g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cinnamon quill
2 star anise
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

lime mousse
2 titanium-strength gelatine leaves
150ml lime juice (from about 4 limes)
125g castor sugar
300ml thickened cream, whipped to soft peaks


Peel and core the pears and then cut into quarters.

Place the pear quarters, red wine, caster sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, spices and two cups of water in a large saucepan.

Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar.

Cover the surface closely with a piece of baking paper cut to fit and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid.

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

Meanwhile, for the lime mousse, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes.

Combine the lime juice, sugar and one cup of water in a pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Squeeze the excess water from gelatine and stir into the warm lime syrup until completely dissolved.

Pour the liquid through a fine sieve to remove any small solids and refrigerate for about 40 minutes. Once cool, fold the whipped cream into the lime syrup in three batches.

To serve, remove the pears from the poaching liquid.

Arrange two pears in the base of each serving glass and divide half the mousse between the glasses.

Repeat the layers and scatter the toasted hazelnuts over the top.

denmark | winter twenty-fourteen

::  Last month, Mr Pitt and I escaped the city to spend a long weekend in one of my favourite holiday spots.

I’ve previously shared photos and anecdotes from my getaways to Denmark, which is nestled in an idyllic location between the coast, karri forest and vineyards at the bottom of Western Australia.

A trip down to Denmark is inevitably means indulging in the fantastic local produce on offer in the area – wines, cider and ports from the many vineyards; bounties of cheese from many dairy producers; and fresh-from-the-farm fruit and vegies.

One of the prerequisites for choosing our accommodation was a log-fire to curl up in front during the cool winter nights and after careful consideration of several options, we chose a lovely, cosy chalet about 10 minutes from the town centre with a fantastic view of Denmark’s valleys and coast beyond.

Our little patch of holiday bliss also ended up being next door to the renowned restaurant where I’d booked lunch on our second day.

Forest Hill Winery is home to Pepper and Salt Restaurant, the superb establishment run by Chef Silas Masih and his wife Angela.  The menu is a fusion of locally sourced produce combined with Silas’ love of spices and his Fijian-Indian heritage. It is quite honestly one of the most memorable fine-dining experiences I’ve ever had – and I’ve eaten a lot in my time.

Pair that with a stunning view and you’ve got a match made in heaven.  Next year my best friends S and V are getting married at Forest Hill, with the reception at Pepper and Salt – which is why I was so eager to visit and see what was in store for us.  Needless to say, I have no doubt it will be a truly wonderful and unforgettable event…


a denmark tradition | breakfast at the bibbulmun café

fruit & nut breakfast bread, bibbulmun cafe, denmark WA | table twenty eight

bacon & egg sandwich, bibbulmun cafe, denmark WA | table twenty eight

our accommodation | karma chalets

karma chalets, denmark WA | table twenty eight

views of singlefile winery

singlefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eightsinglefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

singlefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eightsinglefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

driving on denmark’s rally-worthy roads

country road, denmark WA | table twenty eight

views of rickety gate winery

rickety gate vineyard, denmark WA | table twenty eight

rickety gate vineyard, denmark WA | table twenty eight

rickety gate vineyard, denmark WA | table twenty eight

pepper & salt restaurant | the view of karma chalets from the restaurant balcony

karma chalets, denmark WA | table twenty eight

views of forest hill winery

denmark weekend, june 022forest fungi, denmark WA | table twenty eight

forest hill winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

forest hill winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

forest hill winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

pepper & salt restaurant | soft shell crab with lemon myrtle salt & ginger tamarind sauce

soft shell crab with lemon myrtle salt & ginger tamarind sauce at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight

pepper & salt restaurant | plantagenet beef eye-fillet with beetroot chutney & sticky pan jus

plantagenet beef eye-fillet with beetroot chutney & sticky pan jus at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight

pepper & salt restaurant | poached quince, rhubarb & bircher muesli crumble with chilli orange ice cream

poached quince, rhubarb & bircher muesli crumble with chilli orange ice cream at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight

pepper & salt restaurant | kaffir lime & cardamom arancini with passionfruit curd & lychee sorbet

kaffir lime & cardamom arancini with passionfruit curd & lychee sorbet at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight


jerusalem artichoke soup with olive oil crackers

jerusalem artichokes with olive oil crackers | table twenty eigh

:: My favourite vegetable is unfortunately only available for a couple of months of the year.

Most people have never heard of them before and it doesn’t help that they have a rather misleading name.

Jerusalem artichokes aren’t actually related to globe artichokes and really – from an appearance point of view – that fact is rather obvious (it’s like saying kittens and ponies are related because they’re both cute and have four legs).

Apparently the misnomer is due to a bungled historic translation of Italian and with their knobbly, tuber-like exterior you’d even be forgiven for thinking they’re related to ginger.

jeruselum artichoke soup with olive oil crackers | table twenty eight

They have a rich, nutty and garlicky flavor, with a texture similar to potatoes.

And like potatoes, they’re wonderful roasted in the oven with garlic cloves and sage, or simply steamed and served with butter.

But to my great disappointment, Jerusalem artichokes are only available for a couple of months during the winter period and consequently, I tend each as much as I can get my hands on.

This is the first time I’ve made soup with them and the flavour that develops from the medley of sweet caramelised leeks, garlic and artichokes is divine.

The olive oil crackers are worth giving a shot too – they’re so easy to make and provide a crunchy, textural element to the silky soup.  Just make sure to roll them out wafer-thin so that they can crisp up nicely in the oven.

olive oil crackers | table twenty eight

jerusalem artichoke soup
with olive oil crackers

adapted from katie quinn davies‘ recipe, august 2013 issue of delicious. magazine

50g butter

2 leeks, washed and trimmed, white parts reserved and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.2kg jeruselum artichokes, peeled and roughly chopped
small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
(plus extra for serving)
2L (8 cups) vegetable stock
½ cup thickened cream
50g goat’s curd
lemon-infused olive oil, for drizzling

olive oil crackers
1 ⅓ cups plain flour
⅓ cups wholemeal spelt flour
½ cup warm water
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds


For the olive oil crackers, combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Add the olive oil and water. Stir to combine, bringing together the wet and dry ingredients with one hand.

Knead lightly to form a smooth dough, pat into a disk and cover in cling wrap. Refrigerate, allowing the dough to rest for approximately one hour.

Meanwhile, combine the cumin and fennel seeds in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 220°C.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll out each piece on a floured surface to 2mm thick.

Cut the dough into rough squares or triangles and transfer to tray lined with baking paper.

Brush the pieces with olive oil, scatter with the mixed seeds and season to taste.

Bake in batches until the crackers are golden and crisp, about 6 – 7 minutes.

Once cooked, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

jerusalem artichokes with olive oil crackers | table twenty eigh

For the soup, melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add the onion, celery and garlic.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 – 15 minutes until softened.

Add the artichokes, parsley and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes until tender.

Remove from the heat and cool before transferring to a blender. Blitz in batches until you have a smooth purée.

Return the soup to a large saucepan over medium heat. Season to taste and warm through.

Just before serving, remove from the heat and stir through the cream.

Divide the soup among serving bowls, top with dollops of goat’s curd, chopped parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve with the olive oil crackers.


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