Sarah Cooks 2011 Roundup

1/04/2012 04:01:00 PM

Happy new year everybody!  How was everyone's New Year's Eve?  I spent a lovely weekend in the Gippsland region, enjoying the fresh air, the cool breezes, the pristine beaches and a rather alarming amount of barbecued meats.  Speaking of cool breezes, how crazy hot has it been in Melbourne?  I can't believe it was hotter at home than it was on my beach holiday!  I'm relieved that it's a bit cooler today.

2011 has been a busy year here at Sarah Cooks!  Let's take a look back at the year that was.

Last year's New Year's Eve, I had a quiet night in with friends - drinking champagne, watching cheesy horror movies and eating a cheesecake I baked.

Mmm... creamy

I spent much of the start of the year working my way through posts from my epic 2010 double-Christmas Parties - including Venetian carrot cake, maple-apple cakelets with calvados-mascarpone cream, home cured salmon, and a super-crispy roast pork belly.

In February I was lucky enough to win the Barossa's Table Competition, where contestants had to submit a blog post with a recipe or serving suggestion using Barossa produce, and match it with a Barossa wine.  For my winning entry, "A Barossa Inspired Meal", Sandra and I drew on the Barossa's German heritage and created a German-style meal of rolled Barossa chook and Black Pig prosciutto, and paired it with a Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2007.

The prize was an amazing week-long trip to the Barossa for two people, packed full of foodie adventures and experiences.  The highlights of the week were meeting Maggie Beer, enjoying a fabulous lunch cooked by Gill Radford of Radford Wines, visits to TeAro Estate and the Hill of Grace vineyard (squee!!!), and a stunning Wine Flight degustation dinner at Appellation.

As per usual I visited a lot of Restaurants this year, ranging from the sublime (the 10-course degustation with matching wines at Vue De Monde) to the kitschily fabulous (Captain America's Hamburger Heaven).  Other great eats included PM24, Provenance Food and WineSpice Temple, The Atlantic, Muttis, Cafe Vue at 401 and Embrasse.  I must say my favourite restaurant in Melbourne at the moment is Spice Temple - I've visited five times already and especially love their hot sweet sour numbing pork!

Hot, Sweet, Sour, Numbing Pork at Spice Temple

Cafes weren't quite as well represented on my blog this year, even though I sure have been drinking a lot of coffee!  This was mainly because I stuck to my new favourite - Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn.  The coffee and food have consistently been delicious, and I always buy my coffee beans from them.  (I also really enjoyed Duchess of Spotswood, but being on the other end of town from me, I only visited twice in 2011).

We did a lot of entertaining this year too!

Devilling eggs

The biggest party we hosted was my Mad Men birthday party.  There were heaps of retro canapes (devilled eggs, mini-beef wellingtons, prawn cocktail), there were fabulous costumes, there were vintage advertisements on the wall, actual vintage cigarettes, and there were lots of cocktails!  I was so pleased my friends got in the spirit and dressed up too - lots of big beehive hairdos in the room that night!

Smaller, but no less pride-inducing was my second annual PORKTOBERFEST lunch, which included homemade pretzels, a roast rack of pork, bread dumplings, red cabbage, Rüdesheimer Kaffee and a Black Forest Cake!

Speaking of German things, in August I went to Germany for a month, where I indulged in all my favourites - wunderbar cakes, ice-creams, amazing sausages, bread, and berries. Cheap cheap berries!

Whilst in Europe I also went to Paris for 5 days, visiting a good friend of mine.  In Paris we cooked a lot, and giggled at the odd French translations for Asian food and Orangina's bizzare sexy anthropomorphic animals.  I also fell in love with Sadaharu Aoki's green tea croissants, Berthillon's mandarin ice-cream and Pierre Hermé's Ispahan. So much deliciousness!

In other travel related news we also went to Daylesford in November and Canberra in December. I haven't blogged Canberra yet, but I will be soon - lots of great restaurants and cafes there!

Now of course, the title of my blog is "Sarah Cooks", and I have been cooking and baking a lot this year.  (Although it seems that it's mainly the fun sweet stuff that makes its way onto the blog!)

As y'all know, I love my German cakes, and enjoyed baking a Rotweinkuchen and an Apfelkuchen.

My love affair with Nigella recipes continued unabated, with garlic and parsley hearthbreadsgrasshopper piedanishesdevil's food cake, Irish oaten rolls, and her buttermilk scones.

I don't think these strictly count as baking, but some of my favourite sweet treats are pancakes and waffles.  This year I made oatmeal waffles with burnt butter vanilla applesBill Granger's pancakes with fresh blueberries, and some health-giving chia seed pancakes.

Oatmeal Waffles with burnt butter vanilla apples
I also had some fun with chocolate-chip banana breadValentine's Day double-chocolate chunk cookies, my shoe-shaped cakesnickers cookies and some deeply fabulous rainbow cookies!

My favourite cookbook this year was, without a doubt, the Ottolenghi cookbook - their salads and tarts are amazing! I was lucky enough to get Plenty for Christmas, so I plan to cook a lot from that in 2012.

Ottolenghi's sweet potato galette

I totally loved the 5-in-1 Multicooker that Kitchenware Direct sent me to test.  It has well and truly become part of my kitchen, and we've cooked heaps of risottos, stews and braises in it.

Christmas this year involved a lot of culinary treats too.  For Christmas Eve we had homemade lobster rolls, Dom Perignon, glazed Andrew's Choice leg ham and Poires Belle Hélène, and on the big day itself we had Gordon Ramsay's turkey, stuffing and gravy, followed by Nigella's ultimate Christmas pudding - gorgeous!

And finally, as I bring the post to a close, let me pour you a (symbolic) glass of champagne...

... and say thankyou to everyone who's been following my little blog, leaving comments and chatting to me via my Facebook page and Twitter.  All the best for a safe and successful 2012!  I hope your year is filled with lots of fun and delicious moments!

You Might Also Like


  1. Nice roundup! So happy that I was able to be there at a few of these feasts - I can't forget your grasshopper pie! That madmen party was off the hook.

    To more feasts in 2012!

  2. Congtatulations on a great year - you have done so much! I very much agree with you about Ottolenghi - I lived around the corner from his cafe in London and was lucky enough to do a cooking class with the man himself - amazing!

  3. What a great round up! Cant wait for more deliciousness this year :)

  4. Seems like you had a great year :) I absolutely heart the rainbow biscuits hehe and other goodies you made!
    Looking forward to reading your new adventures!

  5. Happy 2012 Sarah! Over Christmas there was a programme on with Ottolenghi eating in Jerusalem, I'm not sure if it's available online but if it is you should try to watch it, so good.



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.