The Year Of Cooking Congruously.

 Congruous – adjective:  –  in agreement or harmony.

 A couple of years back I started getting my daughter more involved in the making of dinner. I’m a chef after all so it seemed obvious that  on at least one of our  2 nights a week we could be doing this together. Were I a mechanic she’d be learning how to change grease and oil.

Garden Kid

Garden Kid

Then a while later I got excited at the idea of writing, recording and sharing with other people. I spoke to my girlfriend (the Doctor) and then Kid’s mum and a couple of friends. Buoyed by their enthusiasm I wrote a mission statement, took a short on-line ‘blogging for beginners’ course and here we are……
12 months down the track. 54 posts, loads of recipes and stories and a Kidspot Voices of 2015 finalist badge under our belts. At some point (better late than never) I also took an interest in the photographic side of things. To celebrate we’re re-visiting our very first dish. Pasta Carbonara. Still one of Kid’s favourites!

What Kid Did.Carbs1Doctor bought us one of those bench top fry pans (thanks babe!) after I suggested it would be great for Kid to start cooking in. So Kid is cooking this week, with a little help and guidance from moi..Carbs3 A lovely green salad, some grilled bread and we were enjoying an excellent school holiday lunch. Soup was plenty for dinner, you can imagine. Kid did a wicked job here. I chopped stuff for her and lifted the pasta off the stove and talked her through most of it, but this is really Kid cooking her favourite dish. Nice one Kid!!Carbs4

Our Favourite 5 Posts –  In no particular order..

Cook Son of a Baker Man, Sunshine On My Shoulder, Spaghetti and Prawns, Kid Cannoli and Kitchen Safety. And Wings. Shaddup, I’m allowed six.

KidBacon and Egg Pasta ( Carbonara?), Kid Cannoli, Pea-Gnocchi-Oh, Left-Ova’s and Son of a Baker Man

What Kid Said
‘These were all super awesome recipes. Carbonara is my favourite dish ever, Pea-Gnocchi-Oh was fun to make, Cannoli was best dessert ever, Left-Ova’s made a delicious breakfast and Son of a Baker Man  was sooooo good! Healthy and delicious 😉 And about my Grandad!’

‘I love being part of Cook and Kid because of all the different dishes. Each week is a new surprise (she’s right, we’ve barely eaten the same dish twice since starting this). A lot of our recipes are  completely experimental but they work out GREAT. Dad as a chef is so great. He can whip up all sorts of meals including my top 5 above. They are my favourite memories of Cook and Kid.’

*Thanks Kid, although I would say ‘educated guess’ rather than completely experimental.
Best worst moments – Our first attempts at roti were woeful. Then there was the paella with brown rice which wasn’t ready until 9pm (4 hrs later) so before that we went and got bbq chicken salad from the IGA (now we cook the brown rice first.) Me letting my chef out and losing my shit at Kid for not listening (only once, okay maybe twice) and at my mum for putting too many lollies in Kid’s birthday cake (sorry mum). Trying to shortcut with the bread and taking longer for having to start again. Other than that we’ve managed to avoid any serious disasters or break downs….I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities 😉

On that though I’d like to reiterate – C&K is intended to be about inclusivity above anything else. Not to mention having some fun. I learned so much from my folks as a kid just from being around and helping out. All kids can learn great things this way and you can learn great things about your kids too. Cooking is togetherness no matter how simple or complex your undertaking. I hope that having a good appreciation of food, where it comes from and what to do with it  will be just another feather in Kid’s bow. Another ‘life skill’. Not to be taken too seriously though….And hopefully we’ve grown stronger for it.



Looking ahead…I’ve got a list of draft posts a mile long and a heap of ideas I’d like to bring to fruition. Instructional videos, e-books, guest Cooks and their Kids, an ‘ask the chef’ page amongst others. I’ve never been one for over-committing, more the ‘a little planning goes a long way’ type. Give-aways at some point too!

Special thanks belong to……..Mum and Dad for everything leading up to here and from here on in..  The Doctor my sweet, loving partner who has embarked on her own creative mission and offered no end of support and opinion on C&K. ♥♥♥ Kid’s mum  who  leant loads of bloggy know-how over the year. . Other lovely and encouraging ‘on-line creatives’ and friends for those likes and comments that are the little shove along that keep us going. Kidgredients and Cooker and a Looker come to mind. And most of all………….. Kid. Of course. For all that you ‘did’. I love that girl to the stars and back (and you would too) and we wouldn’t be here without her. X

Stay tuned for more Adventures In The Kitchen!



Spaghetti and prawns. Our way.

Today I have a craving for a really garlicky pasta. And some greens.
We had a burger, movie and popcorn kind of day today so Kid and I both need some plant life.

I was going to make this for G.F last week, but with haloumi instead of prawns.
Vegetarian like.
G.F declined on the grounds of being tired and wanting to stay home.
My cooking is only so tempting apparently.. 🙂


I had a disappointing experience in a local French bistro a couple of nights ago, $40 for small bowl of rice, not much seafood (average quality) and  not  much flavour.

This dish is my antidote.

Spaghetti w/ prawns, broccolini, peas, garlic and lemon.
Spaghetti – packet is perfectly fine. I did. A 500gm packet will feed 6 well.
Prawns – Roughly 200gm per person (whole weight) peeled and butterflied, keep the tails. Freeze the shells. One day we’ll make soup or something.
Garlic – about 2-3 cloves ( thinly sliced ) per person. Up to you really.
Peas – a handful each. We used frozen, fresh are good too. Defrost them in some hot water.
Broccolini – about half a bunch each. Long strips, stem removed.
Olive oil – about 50 ml ea.The better the olive oil, the better this dish is.
Mine is from Aldi. Quality! (It’s actually pretty good.)
Fresh lemons – half each

Boil the pasta in plenty of boiling, lightly salted water.
Drain, rinse very gently and toss with a good belt of olive oil.

Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to the boil. Heat a good size fry pan to a medium heat. Add a little olive oil. Put the prawn tails in the pan and sauté until they go bright red. Leave them in the pan. We are doing this to add some flavour to the pan and also for a salty, prawny treat later. If you’re game.

Add a little more oil to the pan, then  the prawn meat and a little salt.
Sauté the prawns until they’re only, very, just, cooked. Overcooked prawns go tough.
Remove from the pan and put aside.


Now you’ll need to do 2 things at once. Ready? Add a little more olive oil.
Put the broccolini into the water. Have some tongs ready.30 seconds is heaps.
Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until it starts to get a little colour.
Don’t let it get too brown or it will take on a bitter flavour.
Remove the tails now.
Drain on some paper towel, add some salt and lemon and eat them all up.
Or don’t.
Mayo is your friend here.

Pull the broccoli out and add it straight to the pan. Add the peas and prawns too.
It was at this point that Kid said “Yum, I could just eat that!”.
Add the cooked pasta, a little more oil, a good squeeze of lemon and season.
Serve. With a little grated parmesan and some bread.
A leafy salad would go a long way too.Prawnpasta8

What Kid Did
Kid made some pizza bread with parmesan. A great little side to this dish.
Look in the pizza post for the dough recipe. I’m still working on the recipes page.
She used a third and sprinkled loads of parmesan and a little olive oil on top. Good stuff.
Kid was everywhere for this one, cooking the pasta and the broccolini, peeling the prawns with minimal ‘eewwwws’, grating parmesan and cleaning up.
Big thumbs up from Kid also, she ate almost as much as I did.

What Else?
This pasta is all about the garlic and the greens.
A few prawns are just adding some flavour and texture.
My local fishy in Milton had some awesome king prawns in the window today.
I bought 10 prawns but they were so enormous, we only needed 3 each.
I’ve frozen the rest for fried rice or some such down the track.


The prawns are expensive, but the rest of the ingredients cost very little.
We used broccolini because it was on special and works well with spaghetti.
Broccoli is just fine too.
A tin of tuna or a little  bacon or salami will work happily in place of the prawns.
Or use the previous suggestion for vegetarian.
Add some olives or nuts or chilli or even a little white wine to pimp it out. Go on.

There are troves of books and websites espousing the health benefits of broccoli, garlic and olive oil. And the Mediterranean diet.
This post is too long already.
Use Google or the local library.
And trust in the fact that you feel great after eating them.

Happy Cooking 🙂

Oh hey, there we are!

Oh hey, there we are!

Bacon and Egg Pasta ( Carbonara?)

Welcome to our first ever post.
A couple of years ago I took Kid to dinner at a local pasta joint (the name escapes me, it doesn’t exist anymore as it was destroyed in the 2011 Brisbane floods).  We ordered a garlic bread, a salad and a spaghetti carbonara. It sticks in my mind because Kid really loved this pasta, she thought it was the best thing ever. Since then I’ve been making it at home occasionally and still get the same reaction.  It is quick and easy and filling. And eaten. And pretty cheap.

My home version is a little different to my professional version. In restaurants we go through a process called ‘liaising’ which means thickening the sauce with an egg at the end. I will be doing this. I won’t be adding white wine or a large amount of cream. We like our pasta lightly dressed around here. Perhaps you like it a little different. I’ll leave that up to you.
Same goes for the garlic. I love it and don’t care if you can smell me from there. Kid has just learnt that she likes it too. Especially as garlic bread or in a pesto.


I’m also adding peas. You could add some fine strips of broccoli or sliced green beans if you’re interested in your vegetable consumption like us. We’ll be having salad too. Always lots of simple chopped up salad.


We  love protein so as well as putting egg in the sauce, I’m going to put a runny fried egg on top. Kid LOVES this. You’ll see us repeat this with some other dishes.

Remember – ALWAYS read a recipe from start to finish before beginning. It will save time.

Here goes. I’m going to boil a pot of water with some salt in it. I’m going to use a big pot. Don’t try and squeeze pasta into a little pot. Pasta will expand considerably as it absorbs water and it needs room to move around so it can cook evenly. The salt is to add flavour. You need to make a whirlpool with a spoon when adding the pasta and remember to stir it off the bottom occasionally here. Use any pasta you like to eat.

I’m cooking for two and hoping for leftovers. So four really. Per person I’m using 1 rasher of bacon, 2 clove of garlic – chopped, 1 stalk of spring onion, 1 handful (metric) of peas (defrost them in some boiling water) 1 egg per two people (plus an extra egg each if you want to eat this like kings), 100ml cream, 100 gm dried pasta. As much cheese as you like to grate on top. Fresh parmesan,romano or pecorino is best but some grated whatever you have in the fridge is fine (and some kids prefer it).

Cut the rind off the bacon and sweat (slowly without colour) gently until it releases all of its oil into your pot. Remove the rind, pat it dry on some paper towel, add a little salt and eat it all to yourself while no-one is looking. Or don’t. I would. Next add your chopped up bacon, onion and garlic and sweat until the garlic is soft. Add cream and let simmer gently for a few minutes. Don’t let it cook too far otherwise it will go stodgy. Turn off the heat.



Now you need to work quickly for just a minute. Lightly beat your eggs for the sauce (do this in advance) now fold it into your cream sauce, add the egg slowly and beat sauce rapidly. Nothing will go wrong here other than your sauce getting bits of cooked egg in it if you don’t incorporate it properly. Eggs coagulate at a low temperature. Add your spring onions and pasta, fold and serve with some cheese and a fried egg on top (poached is okay too).

Eat this with a good amount of salad, otherwise it can seem like a rich meal. Our salad tonight, like so many other nights has tomato, cucumber, avocado, raw broccoli and some great Queen green olives I get every week from a providore near kids school. Sometimes we have beetroot or carrot or celery too. Or cheese. Aim for variety in colour and texture and you’ll be on a winner. It will look appealing and will have good nutritional value.

I know that Kid will lap this up and take some to school for lunch tomorrow. I will eat it with more salad when I get home from work late and be so goddamn happy that I made too much.

Pesto bread – spread pesto on bread (we use fingers of Turkish bread) and bake at 160* until a little crispy. This is totally unnecessary as you’re already eating a plate of carbs. But it IS very yummy.

What kid did – Kid was a great help today. Grating cheese, spreading pesto, peeling and grating garlic, stirring the pasta whilst it cooked, playing Frere Jacques on the clarinet, setting the table, clearing the plates and just being present and part of the process. Thanks Kid.

The Wash Up – The pasta was tasty and not at all heavy. I had seconds and there was enough for 2 small helpings left over. The egg on top is delicious but just indulgence so don’t worry about leaving it off. Kid enjoyed the pasta, especially the egg. I’m going to invest in a garlic press for Kid to use instead of the grater. Next time we’ll make our own pesto. One day our own bread.

A Couple of Points on Pasta – Dried pasta is best for this style of dish, even the Italians agree. Fresh pasta is best for delicate dishes and  filled pasta – ravioli, tortellini etc.

There is an old guide line that suggests long and thin goes with lighter sauces and shorter dish shaped pasta goes with heavier meatier sauces. This throws Spaghetti Bolognaise right on it’s ear so go figure. Use what you will. I’m using orecchiette (it means ‘little ears’ in Italian). On that, another rule of thumb with pasta names is if it ends in ‘ini’ – fettuccini, linguini it means smaller. If it ends in ‘ oni’ – rigatoni, cannelloni it means large. This will help you next time you go out for Italian, which I fully encourage you to do.

My research tells me the name carbonara comes from an old Italain word ‘carbonero’ meaning charcoal burner. Not from carbohydrates as I’ve heard suggested. Early American Italians called it coal miner’s spaghetti, others claim it to be named after an Italian secret society. I like the coal miner version myself. This takes it back to a dish like so many that derive from peasants and workers meaning it would have had a very rustic beginning anyway until they polished it up in spiffy pasta joints. .

I once travelled to Bologna, the home of bolognaise. What they call bolognaise and what we call bolognaise are worlds apart.

I know chefs that won’t add salt to the water for fresh pasta because they believe the salt toughens the gluten in the pasta.


Buon  Appetito !!

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