|Champagne, oysters, Tomato mozzarella salad|
Still enjoyable, but not quite as prolific, was my new "Featured Dish" series - short, sharp posts where I highlight a truly excellent dish that I've enjoyed recently. I've only done these sporadically, but plan to continue as and when I find great dishes! In the meantime, do check out my featured dishes so far: Panko-crumbed Eggs at Goldilocks, the Bo Peep at St. Ali, Snag Stand's Currywurst, and the Beef on Fried Noodles at Hills BBQ.
I joined Instagram in April. I'm addicted. Follow me, I'm sarahcooksblog!
|Instagram shots from 2012|
This year I made a quiet resolution to myself to publish more recipes on the blog. Those of you who've been with me for longer will know that I used to use my primarily blog to review and compare recipes, and I'm certainly not in the habit of reprinting recipes verbatim from recipe books. However, this year I've been pushing myself to create more recipes from scratch or adapt existing recipes and actually note down what I've done. I wasn't really monitoring this consciously, but when I sat down to write this post, I realised I actually did 29 recipes this year. Yay!
Savoury dishes tended to be either comfort food or quick-and-healthy. In the comforting category we have: Herbaceous Burnt Butter Ricotta Gnocchi, Baked Pasta with Eggplant, Beef and Cheese, The Best Roast Pork Shoulder (better than pork belly!) and Oma Frieda's Griesskloeschen mit Kirschen.
|CRACKLING! The best roast pork shoulder|
|Silken tofu with century egg|
Sweet recipes were, unsurprisingly, very well represented - there were a couple of German recipes (Juicy Nut Cake, Amerikaner); some biscuits (Mexican Wedding Cakes, Pistachio Shortbreads with White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Icing, Matcha Sablés); cakes (Gold Bar Banana Bread, Black Forest Cupcakes, Crowd-Pleasing Chocolate Cake, Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze)...
|Pumpkin bread with cream cheese glaze|
...desserts (Pandan and Toasted Coconut Sherbert, Rapadura Sugar Sticky Date Pudding, Perfect Chocolate Mousse, Burnt Butter Honey Madeleines, Mince Pies) and a few breakfasty treats (Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake, Apple Donut French Toast, Apple Cinnamon Nut Muffins, Scones, Banana Choc Chip Pancakes). Phew!
|Blueberry crumb coffee cake|
Not working for the first half of the year meant I had heaps of time to do fun little daytrips and weekends away. I was lucky enough to have a few of these trips sponsored by the respective tourism boards - discovering the Cider & Ale Trail in the Yarra Valley, visiting different towns that make up the Goulburn River Valley region, enjoying excellent restaurants in the Mornington Peninsula, soaking up history in Ballarat, and even going up to Canberra as a winner of the Human Brochure competition.
|Stuffed quail leg with, cinnamon gnocchi, dried grape juice and a deep-fried quail egg - Terminus Restaurant at the Flinders Hotel in the Mornington Peninsula|
I also made quite a few trips on my own coin - visiting Canberra, Sydney, the Yarra Valley and Mount Martha at separate times in the year.
|Spanner crab roll, celery salt chip - $22 at the Bar at Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney|
I only (only!) went overseas once this year, on a fantastic trip to Malaysia in February, where we visited Kuala Lumpur and Penang. I loved showing off my homeland to Sandra - "Wow, so all you guys do here is eat and shop?" Yup! Highlights were the fantastic Indian food in Kuala Lumpur, Penang's awesome kopitiams and hawker food, and of course, my favourite hotel ever: the Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Penang!
|Satay, Goodall Cafe, Penang|
|Roti, Devi's Corner, Bangsar (Kuala Lumpur)|
|Swimming pool, Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang|
My favourite cookbook this year was definitely Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice - previously I'd never been much into Chinese cooking at all, but thanks to her book I'm absolutely loving it! Check out "My Love Affair with Sichuan Cooking" and my Chinese Lunch Feast for more.
|Sarah's Sabih, recipe adapted from Jerusalem|
We still entertained a lot this year, albeit in more intimate groups, with less of the massive parties and BBQs of years gone by. There were mini burgers, pork crackling and pavlova at our Australia Day Party, a decadent Lobster Dinner, the epic Ice-Cream Party, handmade tortillas at Mexican Feast II, even tastier handmade sopes at Mexican Feast III, crackling galore at PORKDATE and PORKTOBERFEST III, a Yogurt Party where I used up all that Chobani Yogurt that I'd been given, the Lamb Dinner and that Chinese Lunch Feast.
|Mexican Feast II|
I blogged quite a few events this year: Phillippa's Evening of Easter Treats, pig on a spit with Napoleone & Co cider at "The Garden of Eden", a cooking class with Chef Matthew MacCartney, the launches of Belvedere Bloody Mary and Unfiltered vodkas, a Vintage High Tea at the Werribee Mansion, a Jazz Apple Masterclass with Fast Ed, romping through the incredibly buttery Charlie's Cookies Factory, a fun lunch at The Merrywell, a Spring dinner at Spoonbill, and even had George Calombaris' mum cook Cypriot specialties for me (and 80 other guests!) at the Hellenic Republic.
|High tea at The Werribee Mansion|
My favourite cafe of 2012 is definitely the adorable Beatrix Bakes in North Melbourne. We've been a whole bunch of times and can't get enough of their fab ciabattas and sweet treats!
|Handmade sweet treats at Beatrix Bakes|
Restaurants - Top meal of the year was the stunning degustation at Tetsuya's in Sydney! Everything was perfect, and I cannot recommend this place highly enough!
|Confit Ocean Trout at Tetsuya's|
I also enjoyed perfect steaks for my birthday dinner at Bistro Thierry, a great-value lunch special at St. Katherine's, fab handmade pasta at St. Peters, a great Sunday lunch at the now-defunct Embrasse, excellent seafood dishes at Fitzrovia (N.B. this was complimentary), Merchant, The Bottom End, Madam Kwong's Kitchen and Wonderbao. A little further from home, I loved Aubergine in Canberra, Montalto and the Flinders Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula (N.B. both of these were complimentary), and the bar at Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney.
And then there was Christmas...
And that was 2012 in the world of Sarah Cooks! Big thanks to all of those who've been following my blog this year, leaving comments, tweeting me and liking my Facebook and Instagram posts. Looking forward to another year of fun and deliciousness for 2013!