Tag Archives: the hungry australian

  • Pavlova_Christina_Soong-3

    Everyday Pavlova

    Hello, dear readers! Apologies for my lengthy absence but I’ve been working on a few writing projects lately.

    I’ve been trying my hand at writing different types of fiction and I’m loving the new challenge and the creative freedom this has given me. However, working on longer writing projects requires a different kind of focus and I haven’t wanted to risk losing my momentum. But I’m back now and I’ll be popping up more regularly in the future.

    This easy pavlova recipe was inspired by a conversation I enjoyed last week at a popup dinner in Sydney to celebrate 20 years of Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel.

    At the dinner, which coincided with World Gratitude Day, I was seated at a table hosted by Paul West, the affable host of the excellent series, River Cottage Australia. Inspired by the dishes we enjoyed by Paul, Nigella Lawson, Maggie BeerDonna HayJamie Oliver and Matt Moran, the conversation naturally turned to food: our table discussed everything from food trends, rural life vs city living, shopping for food, healthy and unhealthy approaches to food, home baking, baby food and growing your own food.

    Everyone has a different approach to food so it was an interesting and stimulating conversation. It got me thinking about why food is so important to me and why I’m such a passionate advocate of home cooking.



    Home cooking is important because it’s an opportunity to bond with those you care about and to create treasured memories.

    The food my parents dished up night after night when I canadian casino news was growing up wasn’t fancy. Sure, sometimes they’d push the boat out but most of the time they cooked simply and efficiently. What made their cooking special, however, was their appreciation of flavour, their knowledge of ingredients and their willingness to experiment and try new things.

    A simple roast chicken. Braised pork and green beans. Spaghetti with local prawns and Goolwa cockles.  Dumplings. My beloved tuna mornay.  Prawn and pork noodle soup (Har Mee). Rosemary lamb roast with potato bake. A fuss-free beef stir fry. A pavlova topped with berries.



    I adore pavlova so I’ve made lots of different kinds of kinds over the years. I’ve made a triple layered pavlova with raspberries, pomegranate and rose petals for Christmas Day lunch and a deconstructed pavlova when my daughter accidentally destroyed a pavlova I’d just taken out of the oven. I’ve even made a Messy Pavlova, or, as I called it, Eton Mess Down Under style, where I replaced the usual meringues with pavlova pieces.

    But this pavlova is your simple, everyday kind of pavlova. This is the pav you can enjoy after a weekend BBQ with the family. Or the pav you can take to a friend’s house when asked to ‘bring a plate.’ It’s the pav you can make when you have too many eggs in the house and the pav you can make to surprise someone on their birthday.

    I hope you like it. Enjoy!

    This post has been sponsored by Foxtel’s Lifestyle.



    Everyday Pavlova
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Cuisine: Australian
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    An easy, everyday pavlova
    • 4 egg whites at room temperature
    • Pinch of salt
    • ¾ cup caster sugar (or 1 for 1 sugar substitute such as stevia)
    • 2 teaspoons cornflour
    • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (you can substitute white vinegar)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
    • 300 mls thickened cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
    • ½ punnet strawberries
    • ½ punnet blueberries
    • ½ punnet raspberries
    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
    2. Check that all your mixing equipment is clean to ensure that the meringue rises properly. Use a paper towel dipped in white vinegar to wipe out your mixing bowl.
    3. Line one baking trays with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on it (you can trace around a plate).
    4. Beat egg whites and salt on high with a stand or hand mixer for a few minutes until peaks begin to form.
    5. Add sugar in four batches, beating well after each addition, until the meringue is thick and shiny.
    6. Sprinkle over the corn flour, red wine vinegar and vanilla essence and fold in gently with a spatula. Try to keep as much volume in the meringue as possible.
    7. Using a spatula, dollop spoonfuls of meringue onto your circle, smoothing the top out with the back of the spoon or an offset spatula. Indent slightly in the centre if you wish.
    8. Put baking trays into the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 150 degrees Celsius. Bake for 30 minutes and then reduce heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another 45 minutes. Turn oven off and leave pavlova to cool completely before taking out of the oven.
    9. Whip cream with one teaspoon of vanilla essence for a few minutes until firm.
    10. Carefully peel the baking paper off the base of the pavlova and place the pavlova on a serving plate. You may invert the pavlova if you wish but I like it either way. Spread the whipped cream on top and decorate your pavlova with mixed berries.
    1. Dairy free - you can replace the cream with coconut yoghurt for a fresher, tangier taste.
    2. Mascarpone - you can replace half the cream with mascarpone cheese for a velvety rich topping
    3. Berry free – you can replace the berries with sliced mango, kiwifruit, passionfruit, nectarines, plums, peaches or apricots.
    4. Chocolate – you can add chocolate shavings
    5. Coconut - you can add dried coconut shavings


  • Special_Fried_Rice_Christina_Soong-1

    Making food memories and Special Fried Rice

    The other day, my boyfriend and I went to see British comic Chris Turner in his show, Observational Tragedy. Alternately witty, moving, and thought provoking, it prompted both spontaneous laughter and tears from the audience.

    One of the things Turner revealed during the show was that he has an auditory memory and can access a memory if he listens to music associated with that particular memory. So when he listens to Cliff Richard albums he recalls playing with his grandparents’ dog by their living room fire as a child.

    As I listened to Turner detail his efforts to actively retain new memories using music, it occurred to me that my self-diagnosed ‘food memory’ might actually be a legitimate condition. That is, I don’t remember faces, conversations or activities from my distant past very well but I do remember the food I ate. Not just the food, but how it tasted, how it smelt, its texture and its appearance.

    I remember sitting down to family dinners every night when I was growing up. I remember fried ricelamb roast, mushroom chickenpork and bean stir fry and my favourite tuna mornay. I remember birthday parties with elaborately decorated cakes from the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes. I remember gorging myself on steaming hot cockles (pippies) cooked in my dad’s wok that we’d caught earlier that day at Goolwa Beach.

    I remember the fragrant Thai green chicken curry and rice that was my first meal I ate in London. Having left home by myself for the first time, I arrived at Heathrow airport feeling tired and a little teary. My friend Anita picked me up from the airport, took me back to her place and fed me that delicious curry in her kitchen.

    I remember the first time I ate confit de canard (duck confit) and île flottante (floating islands) while visiting Paris with my dad.  I remember the aroma, tenderness and richness of the duck and my delight at the quenelles of gently poached meringue sitting atop a vanilla bean custard.

    I remember visiting Germany for the first time with my ex husband and sighing over his mother’s fresh creamy pfifferlinge mushroom cream sauce and pancakes.

    I remember being heavily pregnant with my first child while working in Shanghai and satisfying my cravings for drunken chicken (cold, gently poached chicken with Chinese wine) and xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with a ‘soup’ centre) with my visiting mum.

    I eat and I remember.

    If having a food memory is actually a thing, this means that every time I eat a food or dish that I associate with happy memories, I am being soothed and comforted by the past. This makes perfect sense to me as I’ve aways believed that food is far more than fuel for our bodies.

    Having a food memory also goes some way to explaining the craving for food from childhood that one experiences when one is homesick. Anyone who’s lived abroad and suffered through the bittersweet pang of homesickness can no doubt relate to this.

    I thought of this recently when my ex husband took our children away with him on holiday for five days. When the children returned home, tired and happy, I felt strangely compelled to feed them some of their favourite foods. This meant fruit and yoghurt in bowls for afternoon tea, and honey and soy chicken skewers with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccolini and sweet corn for dinner.

    Later that night, I realised something: I like cooking for my kids because it’s a demonstration of my love for them but I also have an ulterior motive.

    If my kids are anything like me, they’ll leave Australia at some point to explore the world.  They might live abroad for years and years, like I did, too. I won’t like it, naturally, but I’ll understand and support their need to stretch their wings.

    So when I feed my kids I’m implanting positive food memories into their brain. These memories will help anchor them to me like an invisible umbilical cord when they are grown up and living far away from me.  As they go about their daily business they will occasionally stop and they will remember. They will crave the food of their childhood and they will want to come home.




    Special Fried Rice

    Amongst our friends and family, my mother’s fried rice is legendary. This is my spin on her fried rice. I cooked it for the kids the other night and they scraped their bowls clean.


    Special Fried Rice
    Recipe type: Main Course
    Cuisine: Australian / Chinese
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    An excellent fried rice recipe
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus another tablespoon.
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
    • 6 cups cooked and cooled rice, broken up into loose grains
    • 4 Chinese sausages, sliced thinly
    • 3 cups frozen diced vegetables (corn, peas, carrots)
    • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Shaoxiang wine
    • White pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 3-4 spring onions, sliced thinly, white parts only
    • Small bunch coriander to garnish
    • 2-4 tablespoons fried shallots to garnish
    • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges to garnish, optional
    • Sriracha chilli sauce, optional)
    • Indian brinjal (eggplant relish), optional
    1. Heat up a large fry pan or wok over a medium heat until smoking and then add 1 tablespoon oil.
    2. Beat eggs with water and then slide mixture into pan to form a large omelette.
    3. Cook for a minute or two over a high heat until browning nicely and then flip over and cook for a another minute or two until cooking through.
    4. Remove omelette from pan and leave to cool.
    5. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then add onion.
    6. Cook, over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes until softened and then add Chinese sausage.
    7. Stir regularly for 2-3 minutes until Chinese sausage is crisp on both sides and heated through.
    8. Add frozen vegetable mixture and stir to combine.
    9. Increase heat to high and then stir fry for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are cooked through.
    10. Add rice and stir to combine.
    11. Add soy sauce and Shaoxiang wine and then stir fry, stirring regularly until rice is heated up and cooked through.
    12. Turn off heat and then add sesame oil and spring onions and stir through.
    13. Garnish with coriander and lime and serve with Sriracha or brinjal.
  • Jacobs_Creek_Dinner_Christina_Soong-2

    Our Table with MasterChef’s Andy Allen and Jacob’s Creek

    A little secret about dinner parties: while the food and wine you offer your guests is important, they’re not nearly as important as the mood you set.

    As a dinner party veteran I’ve hosted plenty of dinner parties where I placed far too much emphasis on making everything look and taste perfect, and far too little emphasis on making sure I was relaxed and calm when my guests arrived.

    Even if you’ve never hosted a dinner yourself, I’m sure you can relate to a time when you went to someone’s house for dinner, and found yourself confronted by a visibly stressed or anxious host. I’ve been that host and I can tell you that it’s no fun at all for either you or your guests.

    So when Jacob’s Creek approached me about having MasterChef Australia’s 2012 winner Andy Allen over for an #OurTable dinner with Jacob Creek’s wines I decided the relaxed approach was the only way to go. So I roped in my boyfriend to help with the preparation and asked my BFF and her hubby and my sister in law to join us. My brother was away on business at the last minute, unfortunately.

    The day of the dinner party dawned hot and humid – it was 39 degrees Celsius in the shade. So we kicked off the night with Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir, natural oysters with lime wedges, olives from Coriole, my mother’s pâté with brandy and crunchy cornichons.

    Jacob's Creek MyTable Dinner


    The obligatory photo with Andy before we start eating.

    Note to self: when being photographed next to an ex basketball player always remember to stand on a box…


    Oysters are one of my ultimate foods.

    I like oysters prepared all kinds of ways — see my Oysters 4 Ways for some recipe ideas — but eating them naturally with a simple squeeze of fresh lime juice is sublimely good.


    As we enjoy the appetisers we admire my BFF’s 4-week old baby. Isn’t he adorable? What a gorgeous smile!


    After a short intermission it’s time to prep the main course. Tonight we’re eating BBQ steak, grain salad and roasted sweet potatoes.

    I always like to involve guests in the dinner prep so I put the guys in charge of cooking the steaks.  I expect Andy to take the lead but he humbly demurs, which is how my boyfriend ended up cooking steaks for a MasterChef!

    Back in the kitchen, I put the final touches on my favourite grain salad and plate up the beautifully caramelised sweet potatoes.

    By now it’s dark outside so we take our seats in the dining room.

    Tonight we’re drinking Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Signature Shiraz, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon.




    We eat and we drink and we talk and we laugh. We catch up on each other’s news and Andy entertains us with anecdotes from his time on MasterChef Australia. Winning the 2012 MasterChef  competition was a truly life-changing experience for the former electrician’s apprentice and he has nothing but positive things to say about the show.

    Another short break to clear the table and then it’s time for the Strawberry and Basil Granita and the cheese board.

    I serve up the refreshing Strawberry & Basil Granita into indiviudal bowls. But by the time I grab my camera there’s nothing left to photograph as all the bowls have been scraped clean! So go look at the photos I took last week of an earlier batch.

    I’ve chosen cheeses from Say Cheese & The Smelly Cheese Shop to go with the wines we’re drinking tonight. So sitting perfectly at room temperature on the cheese board are a buttery brie — Cremeux D’Argental —  Delice de Poitou, a young Goat’s cheese with a slightly tangy, salted ash coating, a strong Tasmanian Cheddar — Ashgrove Farm Cheese — and a sneaky English blue – Colston Bassett Stilton. Admittedly, the blue doesn’t go that well with the wines but I couldn’t resist its pungent allure.



    Good food, good wine and good company are a potent mix so we continue talking, laughing, eating and drinking until late.  Although I’ve eaten far too much cheese I feel great – tonight has been so much fun!

    Thank you all for coming. Whose turn is it to host next?

    Jacob’s Creek Our Table Dinner with Andy Allen

    The Menu

    The Wines

    Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Jacob’s Creek. 

  • RaspberrySmoothieBowl.ChristinaSoong-3

    Reaching for the stars and raspberry smoothie bowls (VIDEO!)

    We’re a mere seven days into 2016 and I’m wondering how many of us are actually sticking to our New Year’s Resolutions? And how many of us are already mentally consigning them to the trash?

    Well, either way, it’s not too late. It’s never too late.

    There’s something irresistible about the hopeful shininess of a new year. It’s a do-over, a chance to make good on all those goals that died a quiet and ignominious death the previous year.


    I’ve always been one to have a list of goals – immediate, short-term and long-term — so the beginning of a new year is an ideal time to revisit them.

    In my twenties I used to write a one-page list of goals and stick it on my bedroom wall. In recent years I’ve used a combination of goal setting and mood boards to help me stay on track.

    Are you familiar with mood boards? I don’t know what other people do but I cut out pictures from magazines of things I want in my life and pin them to a physical pinup board in my study. I’m a sucker for a virtual pinup board aka Pinterest but when it comes to mood boards I want a physical, daily reminder that I can see from my desk no matter what’s happening on my computer monitor.

    I pin all sorts of inspiring pictures to my mood board – famous and not so famous women and men I admire, things I want to do, places I want to visit, settings I want to recreate, food I want to eat, books I love, interiors I lust after and groups of people that represent family and friends.

    Each picture on my mood board symbolises something that I want in my life. It’s like the ultimate shopping list except these are things that have to be earned, rather than bought. Nothing on my mood board can happen without some effort on my part, which is why I then spend some time considering and setting my goals.


    This year my list of goals spans a record six A4 pages and is divided into four tables covering career, health, family, finance and includes KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), expected timings and colour coding.

    I’ve printed my goals out and stuck them with my mood board on the wall next to desk, as a constant reminder that I need to do the work if I want the rewards.

    This might seem somewhat excessive (and yes, a trifle anal) but the mood board and list of goals help keep me focused and accountable. They work because if one works consistently towards one’s goals then they start to become one’s reality rather than a mere dream.


    That’s not to say that the journey is swift and trouble-free.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way and plenty of detours, too – some detours I made deliberately and some were thrust upon me as circumstances changed. I’ve also adjusted my goals numerous times as new information came to light. And yes, there were plenty of nights I chose ‘Netflix and chill’ instead of working or writing, too. Weirdly, my boyfriend does not feel guilty about this at all.

    All of this is merely part of the journey. What’s ultimately important is your long-term resolve, determination and actions. Good things don’t happen by accident: you get out of life what you put into it.


    A case in point: one of my goals this year was to start creating my own recipe videos. That is, I wanted to try to conceptualise, style, cook, light, shoot, and edit my own recipe videos without any outside help. So I’ve spent the last two days working in my studio and I’m now thrilled to share my very first recipe video – Raspberry Smoothie Bowl. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

    So what are your plans for 2016?

    PS The song in the video – ‘Pins and Needles’ – is by my brother’s sadly now defunct band, Alpha Beta Fox.

    Raspberry Smoothie Bowls

    During Summer the kids and I don’t always feel like eating that much in the morning. And yet a healthy breakfast is always important so I came up with these Raspberry Smoothie Bowls. For extra ‘cool mum’ points, I make the smoothie base and then let the kids decorate their bowls themselves. Enjoy! x


    Raspberry Smoothie Bowls (VIDEO!)
    Prep time: 
    Total time: 
    • 1-2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
    • ¼ avocado, peeled and stone removed
    • 3-4 dates, chopped roughly
    • ½ cup coconut milk
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean extract
    • ½ punnet fresh raspberries or ½ cup frozen raspberries
    • Desiccated or shredded coconut
    • Banana slices
    • Berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
    • Fruit - kiwi fruit, grapes, pomegranate,
    • Melon - balls or chunks of watermelon, rockmelon or honey dew melon
    • Dried Fruit - sultanas, raisins, figs, cranberries, goji berries, apple, apricot,
    • Seeds - toasted pumpkin seeds, pepitas,
    • Nuts - roasted almonds, cashews, hazlenuts, peanuts
    • Muesli - toasted muesli or granola
    • Chia seeds
    1. Blend all of ingredients until smooth and then spoon into a bowl.
    1. Top with any combination of the suggested ingredients.
    Gluten free
    Dairy free
    Refined sugar free
    Can be made nut free


    KitchenAid Hand Blender gifted by KitchenAid. 

  • Restaurant_Adelaide_BreadandBone_R2

    I shot a book! Introducing Flavours of South Australia…

    Earlier this year I was one of two photographers commissioned to work on a new book for Smudge Publishing covering 120+ South Australian restaurants, wineries, bars and cafes.

    Smudge Publishing has published a number of award-winning food and travel books, including Flavours of Melbourne, Flavours of Sydney, Flavours of Queensland, Produce to Platter: Daylesford and Produce to Platter: Yarra Valley.

    To shoot Flavours of South Australia, Smudge’s first book on South Australia, the lovely Amanda Davenport (one of Smudge’s resident photographers) and I visited venues in South Australia’s key food and wine regions like Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula. In the process I discovered some unknown gems, met some passionate foodies and wine makers, sampled some delicious food and wine and fell in love with my state all over again.

    I’m thrilled to let you know that the book is now available for pre-order from Smudge. The book will be available from 20th November – just in time for Christmas!


    Inside you’ll find spreads on 120+ South Australian restaurants and wineries that capture the spirit and style of my beloved state. The restaurant features also include a recipe for one of the restaurant’s signature dishes so you can try cooking your favourite dishes at home, too.

    Here are a few of the restaurants and wineries I photographed.


     Bread and Bone

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Bread & Bone1

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Bread & Bone2


    Thorn-Clarke Wines

    FOSA 2015 Barossa_Thorn-Clarke Wines1


    Gondola, Gondola

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Gondola Gondola1

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Gondola Gondola2


    Lake Breeze Wines

    FOSA 2015 Fleurieu Peninsula-Lake Breeze Wines1


    Zucca’s Greek Meze

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_FA Zucca1

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_FA Zucca2


    Samuel’s Gorge

    FOSA 2015 Fleurieu Peninsula_FA Samuel's Gorge


    Martini Ristorante

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_ Martini1

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_ Martini2


    You can pre-order your copy of Flavours of South Australia now. Alternatively, the book will be available from any of the 120+ venues in the book or from most bookstores around Australia from November 20.

    It was a privilege to shoot this book. I hope you like it! xx

  • JMCTheHungryAustralian_0363-2

    A dessert table for my birthday

    I have such happy memories of boisterous house parties when I was a child. There was always plenty of food and drink and laughter, everyone pitched in to help and we kids had the run of the house and backyard. My parents love entertaining so they regularly had friends over when I was growing up – sometimes it was a simple dinner of spag bol (spaghetti Bolognese) or stir-fry with rice, often an easy outdoor BBQ and, on special occasions, a suckling pig roasted on the spit over an open fire.

    I want my children to have those same happy memories so I decided to throw a party at home to celebrate my recent birthday. For the menu, I decided on cocktails, dips and crudités, chicken satays with peanut sauce, mini banh mi (Vietnamese pork rolls), four different salads and a special dessert table.

    A few months ago, my friends asked me to do the dessert table for their wedding next year so I figured that my party was a great opportunity to trial an idea I’d had. While heavily styled and immaculate dessert tables always look impressive there’s often a sense that they’re so perfect that people don’t want to mess them up by actually eating any of the components. Inspired by a dessert table I’d seen at a Perth restaurant I wanted to make a fun and interactive dessert table that people felt completely comfortable diving face first into.

    So I enlisted the help of my local foodie/blogger friend, Natasha, and we came up with a dessert table concept using chocolate cake soil, mixed meringues, two types of sweet and salty popcorn, two types of salted caramel sauce, fresh strawberries and whipped mascarpone cream placed directly onto a brand new tablecloth. This would be built in front of guests in real time during the evening.

    On the night of the party, we realised that it would be fun creating the dessert table to music so I asked Maja from Hey Hooray DJs to find some appropriately fun tunes. Thus, Natasha and I built the dessert table to the accompaniment of Eye of the Tiger from Rocky III and Starships’ We Built This City. It was totally cheesy and I loved every second of it!

    Here’s how it all went down. First, we built up a wide ribbon of chocolate cake soil baked by Tash.


    Next, we added plain and striped meringues baked by Tash.



    Then it was time to add the two different types of popcorn.


    Next, we added fresh strawberries.


    Then Tash drizzled her salted caramel sauce over the table as I arranged the bought salted caramel pots.


    More salted caramel drizzling by Tash.


    Out comes my cleaver to chop up the peanut brittle!


    Note to self: remember to pin one’s hair up next time one does this…


    Almost ready… just one last thing to put into place…


    Ta da!!!!!


    As we dramatically placed the whipped mascarpone cream into the centre of the table the garden erupted with cheers. The cream was made by my beautiful sister in law who added her own surprising twist to it – my face! Isn’t she a darling?


    A quick snap with Tash to celebrate our successful trial.


    My daughter and brother then halted proceedings for their speeches.


    I love how everyone is listening to my brother but can’t take their eyes off the dessert table.

    After the speeches, we invited everyone to help themselves to dessert. The kids had been vibrating with excitement and impatience the whole time we were working on the table so naturally they were the first to dive in.


    The adults helped themselves at a more sedate pace and the table was quickly decimated. Later on, I loved watching both adults and children passing the table and grabbing random spoonfuls of the dessert.


    As a completely unrehearsed trial the dessert table went off extremely well. Sure, there were a few things I’d do differently next time but we had so much fun doing it and everybody enjoyed watching it all come together.

    It was a wonderful night. Thank you to everyone who helped make it a special evening. In particular, huge thanks to the following:

    • J for his help with the bar, the incredible cocktail menu, these lovely photographs and the enormous set up and clean up. He had never tended bar before, but he did it so well he was asked to do two other parties on the night! You are #allthethings.
    • Maja and Tanya from Hey Hooray DJs. These girls play the best tunes for weddings and events.
    • Tim for his mini Banh Mi (Vietnamese pork rolls) made to order on the spot. They were so popular he ‘sold out’ within a couple of hours. Here’s the recipe.
    • Claire and Nick at Bulb Lighting for the loan of the beautiful festoon and bud lighting that decorated the gardens. They have a fantastic range of lights available for hire and they’re amazing to work with. Check out some of the jobs they’ve done on Instagram at @bulblighting.
    • Natasha for your help with the dessert table and salad prep. Mwah!
    • Tanya, MJ, Matt, my mum and Dayle for their huge help with the salad prep. I couldn’t have done it without you!
    • Megan for the loan of the bowls, platters and glasses.
    • My brother for his help serving the satays and for his sweet and funny impromptu speech.
    • Anita and Dayle for their help washing glasses on the night.
    • My mum and dad for their enormous help setting up and cleaning up the event.
    • My children for the lovely poem and their help drying the glasses the next day.

    Have you ever made a dessert table? What would be in your fantasy dessert table?

    All photographs by J.

  • SmoothieBowlChristinaSoongDilmah-4

    Chia Smoothie Bowl (Dilmah Green Tea remix)

    After a particularly long, cold and tedious Winter, Spring has finally arrived in Australia. Hurrah!

    For me, Springtime is about enjoying the sunshine, catching up with the friends I’ve neglected while hibernating, and making renewed efforts to eat well and exercise regularly.

    You see, during Winter I can become a carb monster, eagerly devouring all the starchy stuff I can get my hands on. Come Springtime, however,  and my body craves fresh ingredients and lighter meals.

    Now I find that if I eat a healthy breakfast it’s relatively easy to find the motivation to continue eating well during the day. But if I eat, say, leftover cold pizza for breakfast — *cough, cough* — I’m going to struggle.


    Enter this super easy Chia Smoothie Bowl (Dilmah Green Tea Remix) to start the day off well.

    The great things about smoothie bowls is that they are infinitely customisable according to your tastes and dietary requirements. So you can use any combination of fruit, milk and tea you like as long as you keep to the rough quantities in terms of solids and liquids.

    For this rather pretty pink smoothie I’ve opted for a mixture of berries, pomegranate, soy milk and Dilmah Fragrant Jasmine Green TeaSmoothieBowlChristinaSoongDilmah-1

    I love antioxidant-rich green tea and drink a large pot of it every day when I’m working at my desk – I find it helps me to focus, as well as helping with digestion.

    If you’ve never made anything with chia seeds before don’t be scared – all you do is mix them into some liquid, in this case, the smoothie mixture, and let them sit and swell for 10 or so minutes.

    I like using chia seeds to thicken this smoothie bowl because they are rich in fibre, protein, antioxidants, and essential omega 3s. Plus, they allow me to feel less guilty about the leftover pizza eaten the day before so I’m basically winning whichever way you look at it.

    Now I’m off to enjoy the sunshine. Spring picnic, anyone?

    This post was sponsored by Dilmah Tea. Check out their latest tea flavours, health benefits of teaFAQs about tea and tea events.



    Chia Smoothie Bowl (Dilmah Green Tea remix)

    Smoothie Bowl (Dilmah Green Tea remix)
    Recipe type: Breakfast
    Cuisine: Australian
    Prep time: 
    Total time: 
    An easy and healthy breakfast smoothie bowl
    • 3 bananas
    • ½ cup (125 mls) Dilmah Fragrant Jasmine Green Tea, brewed according to packet instructions and then cooled.
    • ½ cup (125 mls) milk. You can use soy, cow's, oats, almond or rice milk.
    • 250 grams mixed fruit (I used washed and hulled strawberries and blueberries).
    • 3 Medjool dates to sweeten (you can substitue 1-2 teaspoons of honey, stevia, agave syrup, maple syrup or rice malt syrup).
    • 2.5 tablespoons chia seeds.
    • Fresh fruit to garnish.
    1. Use a bench blender or stick blender to blend bananas, tea, milk, fruit and dates.
    2. Pour into a bowl and then stir in chia seeds.
    3. Leave smoothie bowl to sit for 10-15 minutes until chia seeds have swollen and smoothie mixture has thickened.
    4. Decorate with fresh fruit - I used raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate seeds You can do stripes of fruit if you feel so inclined for everyday eats I simply sprinkle some fruit on top.
    Makes one large serving for an adult or 2 small servings for young children


  • Nasi Padang Minmang Malaysia

    Celebrating 4 Years of Blogging

    Just over four years ago I published my first post on The Hungry Australian – a recipe for my dad’s Chinese Sausage Omelette.

    At the time, I had no inkling that this blog would end up changing my life so dramatically. It all happened quite organically – after six months I was offered my first long-term client contract and my accidental freelance career grew from there.

    Last year, something unexpected happened: this blog was judged Best Australian Blog 2014 by the Australian Writer’s Centre, over 1,100+ other blogs.

    Winning the top gong was a tremendous surprise and while the recognition was lovely, the subsequent attention and unexpected self-consciousness that followed led to a case of Writer’s Block. Yes, it was extremely ironic.

    Happily, a chance conversation on an overseas trip helped put things in perspective and got me back on track: I realised I had to stop worrying about everyone else’s expectations and just focus on creating the best work I was capable of.

    THA Fish at Nasi Padang Minmang, Penang


    Currently, I’m shooting a food and travel book — Flavours of South Australia for Smudge Publishing — working with a few select clients and focusing on my own writing projects. I also have a new agent — Kathryn Fleming at The Fleming Agency — and I couldn’t be happier as she’s extremely good at what she does and her representation allows me to focus on what I enjoy most: creating stories.

    Between work, writing and family commitments, I’ve had much less time to blog this year than ever before. But I have a stack of blog posts that I’m doing final edits on and will publish shortly so thank you for your patience.

    Most importantly, thank you for being part of The Hungry Australian. As a blogger, I hope to create stories that connect and resonate with people: the fact that so many of you have let me into your lives either via this blog or one of my social media accounts is something I find both astonishing and humbling.

    Christina xx

    THA Nasi Padang Minmang

    About these photos

    I shot these photos on the fly a couple of weeks ago at Nasi Padang Minang, a humble coffee shop at 92 Jalan Transfer in the historical Georgetown area of Penang, Malaysia. At the Nasi Padang Minang the 50 Indonesian and Malaysian dishes on the menu are cooked early in the morning and then left out, uncovered, for diners to help themselves. Australian health and safety inspectors would be having a fit but I knew that eating here would be fine because I was being hosted by Mark from Simply Enak Tours, which specialises in small-group tours of interesting places not usually visited by tourists.

    Mark has been coming to this coffee shop for years so he knew exactly what to order. So we ate the delicious house speciality — whole fried fish with fried shallots (ikan bakar) — along with our individual choices of curries, vegetables, rice and salad (ulam) dipped into sambal (chilli paste). I’d never eaten the crunchy, deep-fried flat fish seen on the right side of the main plate before – they tasted like anchovies and were mind-blowingly good. As we ate and drank our iced coffees we chatted about Georgetown’s cultural and food history and I marvelled again at the power of food as both a form of legacy and a way to build new bridges.

  • THA - Peaches and Mangos

    Thoughts on blogging: getting back to basics

    To state the obvious, I haven’t been blogging lately. What started out as a few days break while on an overseas trip became a few more days as I struggled with jet lag and then lengthened into weeks as I struggled to find the motivation to blog.

    As the days went on and I still had no desire to blog I started wondering why I was feeling so uninspired. Some self-reflection was necessary.

    I started my blog in mid 2011 because I wanted to improve my writing and I thought blogging would help me achieve this. In the beginning no one read my posts but I didn’t care – I was just happy to have a new outlet for my writing and to be doing something I found creatively fulfilling. I didn’t blog to get free stuff and I had no desire to be ‘internet famous': I just wanted to get my writing out there.

    Since those early days things have changed a lot, both for me, personally, and in the wider blogging scene. Along the way I’ve met some lovely people, had some great opportunities, been astonished to win some pretty major awards and yes, turned it into a second career of sorts.

    Over the last few years the responsibilities, expectations and opportunities have risen for me. My inbox is full of people who want to work with me in some way.

    Sure, there are the emails from people with more cheek than a Sumo wrestler e.g. “we’ll send you our $30 product in exchange for a blog review” or “we’d like you to create a recipe on your blog for us featuring our product and if we like your photos we might use them on our product packaging.” But alongside these emails there are also many interesting invitations and genuine offers of paid work including countless (paid) sponsored post requests.

    Many bloggers would be thrilled to be in this fortunate position and on one level, I am extremely grateful.

    However,  I don’t blog for the invites, the free meals, the gifted products, or the hosted trips.  Sure, it’s nice to be courted in one way — I’m as human as the next person — but every invitation comes with an expectation that I will reciprocate in some way. To put it another way: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    Moreover, I have no desire to turn The Hungry Australian into a blog consisting mostly of paid sponsored posts and reviews of hosted experiences and gifted products. There’s nothing wrong with this approach per se but it’s not the type of blog I want to have.  So I turn down opportunity after opportunity, foregoing a not insignificant income I could be making.

    THA - peaches and mangos

    So why do I blog?

    I blog because I hope to become a good writer one day and blogging is part of my practise. When I look at my blog, the posts I’m most proud of are the ones that I just had to write. They’re the stories about my life and the people most important to me – my family and my friends. These are the stories that matter the most to me. These are the stories that I should be writing.

    These stories usually have nothing to do with products, events, services or experiences – they’re just stories about my life and it so happens that food is often involved: sometime food is front and centre of a story and other times it’s just hovering in the background.

    Judging from your comments and emails, these are the stories that a lot of you like the most, too. My story about my brother’s birthday cake made some of you think about your own sibling relationship(s) and a few of you cry.  My stories about my mother prompted some of you to share your own stories with me.

    These are the type of stories that I should be writing but my energy and attention keeps getting distracted by my inbox: I’m spending more time managing my blog and thinking about my blog than actually writing.

    This is not how I want to live my life.

    So going forward, I won’t be running any more advertisements or doing any more paid sponsored posts on The Hungry Australian. And I’ll be even more selective about the invitations and offers I do accept, too.

    However, I will continue to host my Amazon store with the books and products I personally use and recommend. If you purchase something from my store I will make a small commission – thanks for supporting The Hungry Australian.  I will also be writing about hosted travel experiences I have already undertaken and exploring new ideas and options for off-blog projects.

    By choosing to scale back on the amount of work I do with brands on The Hungry Australian, I’m doing the opposite of what a ‘successful’ blogger would probably do. But the beauty of blogging is that you can set your own rules to suit your own circumstances and I need to get back to basics.

    I want to blog like I did at the very beginning, without feeling constrained by expectation or duty. I want to blog because I have an overwhelming desire to, not because I should, or am contractually obliged to. This will mean an irregular publishing schedule so if you want to come along for the ride, I suggest signing up for free blog updates if you haven’t already.

    Thanks for reading The Hungry Australian.

  • summer pudding

    Summer pudding and a new look


    Redesigning a blog is like renovating a house. Or getting elective plastic surgery.

    You start off thinking that you’re just going to make a few minor cosmetic changes and you end up with a house (or body) that is almost unrecognisable. The thing is, once you’ve made one part look good everything around it starts to look a little tired.

    The Hungry Australian redesign you are now looking at has been a long time in the making. While I really liked my old blog design, over time I began wishing that I could add some new elements and functionality to it. The trouble is, once I started I realised that making a few minor changes would be unsatisfying and that nothing less than a complete redesign would serve.

    Because my blog is such a personal thing and I’m a bit of a control freak, finding a designer to work with me on the redesign was quite tricky. So I’m thrilled with the design that Joseph and I came up with. Thanks for all your (late-night) work getting the new site up and running, Joseph.

    This new design includes a visual recipe index, which is something I’ve been wanting ever since I started blogging and my photos actually started resembling food. You can search by type of dish or dietary requirement: if you want to search by ingredient simply enter the ingredient into the search box on the top right of the screen.

    A few things to note.

    Firstly, the new post column is significantly wider than the old one so photos in old posts won’t be completely sharp when viewed on a computer screen. I may get around to replacing all of these images with new ones at the current width one day.

    Secondly, I’m still re-categorising my recipes so there are actually more recipes in most of the sections. For example, the sugar-free category currently only contains a few recipes but there are actually a lot more sugar-free recipes in the archives. I’ll finish this off by the end of the month.

    Thirdly, old comments haven’t been imported yet. This will hopefully happen in the next day or so but you can still comment in the meantime.

    Lastly, we’re still working on it so you may find the occasional glitch. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

    Now regular readers will know that I’ve been blogging a lot less than usual lately due to firstly a killer flu and then work and family commitments. When you get out of practise with something it can become harder and harder to get back into it. But working on this blog makeover has made me fall in love with blogging all over again.

    So with this redesign almost complete, I’m feeling re-inspired and re-invigorated as I set off on a much awaited trip with Trafalgar: tonight I’m off to Abu Dhabi where I’ll be staying for a day or so before I fly to Turkey for a week’s famil/media trip followed by a two-day extension to central Turkey by myself.

    The week in Turkey was one of the prizes I received as overall winner of the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Best Australian Blogs 2014 competition. Many thanks to the team at the AWC for their support, and to Trafalgar for this amazing prize and for also hosting my add-ons to Abu Dhabi (partnering with Creative Holidays) and Cappadocia.

    I will be blogging a number of current and recent food and travel stories while I’m on the road. If you want to see what I’m up to in real-time you can follow me at Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

    Christina xx

    Summer Pudding

    I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of Summer Pudding, a simple pudding made with stewed berries and bread. So when I had a glut of berries in the house yesterday I decided to give it a go.

    This is not a hard dessert to make and it’s a very light and pleasant one to eat, too. My daughter is notoriously picky when it comes to cakes and she ate four slices last night. How many can you eat?



    5.0 from 3 reviews
    Summer pudding
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Cuisine: Australian
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    A light, Summery dessert
    • 1kg grams mixed berries, fresh or frozen
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 45 mls water (3 tablespoons)
    • Fresh bread (crusts removed) to cover the inside of a 1 kilogram pudding basin, about 8 regular slices or 500 grams gluten free bread (gluten free bread is generally baked in smaller loaves so you have to use more as you lose more of it when you cut off the crusts).
    1. Place 800 grams berries, sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cook until juices run (about 3-4 minutes for fresh and 8-10 minutes if frozen).
    2. Meanwhile, line pudding basin with bread ensuring that there are no gaps (cut to fit).
    3. Remove approximately ⅓ cup juice from saucepan and then spoon remaining berries and juice into bread-line pudding basin.
    4. Cover berries with remaining bread and then gently spoon over a few tablespoons of the reserve juice so that the bread is all red in colour. Cover the remaining juice and store in the fridge.
    5. Cover pudding with a clean saucer that fits just inside the pudding basin and then put a heavy weight on top (e.g. a can or heavy plate).
    6. Refrigerate the pudding overnight or for at least four hours.
    7. To serve, remove pudding from fridge and discard saucer.
    8. Place a serving plate over the pudding base and carefully invert the pudding onto the plate.
    9. If there are any white spots on the bread, cover these up with the reserved juice.
    10. Decorate with reserved fresh berries and serve with cream or custard.
    Gluten-free: gluten-free bread can be used.
    Refined sugar-free: stevia, honey, rice malt vinegar or agave syrup can be used instead of sugar.
    Dairy-free: serve with dairy-free ice cream or whipped coconut cream instead of whipped cream.


  • dumpling soup

    Dumpling Soup for Leela



    It’s always nice cooking for someone who really appreciates your food.

    My 5YO niece, Leela, is beautiful inside and out. She’s generous, kind, strong-willed and intelligent. She’s also, along with her younger brother, Jessie, the best eater I’ve ever had the pleasure of feeding.

    A few months ago I cooked some dumplings in soup and took them over to my brother’s house for dinner as a thank you for looking after my kids that day. Now my kids turned up their noses at the dumplings — they didn’t like the ginger or spring onions I’d included — but both Leela and Jessie ate bowl after bowl of them.

    I was so impressed with Leela’s dumpling love that I promised to make them for her anytime she wanted.

    “For my birthday?” she asked.

    “Sure. I’ll make them for your birthday,” I said.

    I then forgot all about it but a few weeks ago, Leela pulled me aside.

    “You know it’s my birthday soon,” she said solemnly.

    “I’m having a party. Don’t forget to make the dumplings. And the fried rice I like.”

    How could I refuse?

    As it turns out her birthday was held in a play centre which served its own food. So I promised to make Leela dumplings another time, which I did recently.

    Now my dumpling record stands at 15 dumplings eaten in one sitting, which I thought was pretty good for someone of my size. But Leela ate 10 dumplings with ease. She started helping herself to them after the first half dozen, spooning them into her bowl one at a time. I watched her in awe, breaking into a grin every time she finished a bowl and asked for more.

    There’s really nothing a cook likes more than an appreciative eater.



    My dumpling soup recipe includes spring onions and ginger (ingredients 2 and 3) but I make my kids a modified version, substituting 1/2 cup finely diced bok choy leaves for the ginger and spring onions. This was my mum’s idea and while I’m not fond of adapting recipes for kids my kids can’t get enough of the bok choy ones.

    I’m completely addicted to the spicy dipping sauce I’ve included below. I love spooning it over my bowl of dumplings – the vinegar cuts through the richness of the pork while the ginger and chilli explode across my tastebuds like fireworks. If my kids want dipping sauce, I give them little bowl of very diluted soy sauce.

    I like serving my dumplings in a gingery chicken soup with lots of bok choy. In terms of catering, I’d budget five dumplings per small child and 10 dumplings per adult served as part of a meal. If you’re only eating dumpling soup I’d probably budget nine dumplings per child and 15 dumplings per adult. This may give you leftovers but leftover dumplings for breakfast the next day are always a good thing.

    Pork, Ginger and Spring Onion Dumpling Soup


    • 400 grams pork mince
    • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced (I use my Microplane grater)
    • 4 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced
    • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (from an Asian grocer)
    • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1 packet wonton or dumpling wrappers
    • 1 litre water + another 2 cups (500mls)
    • 1 litre chicken stock
    • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
    • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
    • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    • 2 cups water
    • 4 bunches boy choy, washed, ends trimmed and leaves separated. Chop larger pieces in half for kids.
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • Bunch coriander to garnish (optional)


    1. Mix pork, ginger &  spring onions (substitute: bok choy), soy sauce, wine, sesame oil and white pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
    2. Set up your dumpling station with a chopping board, a small bowl containing water and a large plate.
    3. Work on the chopping board. Using a teaspoon, scoop large teaspoonfuls of the meat mixture and place it onto the middle of a dumpling wrapper. Dip your finger into the water bowl and trace it around the edges before folding them over and pressing the wrapper firmly around the meat, sealing it in. You can fold the edges in a pleat style or leave them as is. Place the completed dumping on the plate and then repeat with the remaining dumpling wrappers and mixture.
    4. Find two large pots. In one pot add the chicken stock, ginger, wine, pepper and 2 cups water and bring to the boil. Drop in bok choy and then reduce heat immediately to a low simmer or turn off (if the dumplings aren’t quite ready). In the other pot add a litre of water and bring to the boil. Boil the dumplings, in two batches, over a high heat for approximately 5-6 minutes or until all dumplings are floating at the top and are cooked through.
    5. To serve, turn off heat under soup and add sesame oil. Remove dumplings from their cooking water with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Top with soup and bok choy and garnish with coriander.
    6. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.


    • 5 tablespoons Chiangkiang vinegar (from an Asian grocer)
    • 3 teaspoons dried chilli flakes in oil (from an Asian grocer)
    • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger


    1. To make the dipping sauce, mix vinegar, chilli soy and ginger in a small bowl. This makes quite a hot dipping sauce so if you like less heat reduce the amount of chilli.


    • Makes 40-48 dumplings
    • Serves 3-4 as a main mean

     More Asian Recipes

  • DSC_5130

    Quince Crumble and emotional eating

    Quince Crumble

    ‘I ate a whole 200 gram block of chocolate last night,” my friend told me recently, shaking her head.

    I laughed and then sympathised with her. Like my friend and many women, I’m an emotional eater. Forget about wearing my heart on my sleeve – I wear my feelings on my hips.

    Stressed out from too many converging deadlines and not enough sleep? Why, hello midnight snack of spicy two-minute noodles!

    Arguing with my mother again? No, I did not have relations with that whole piece of cheese.

    Confused and upset by a guy? Just hand me the chocolate, OK?

    Don’t misunderstand me. I love food and have an extremely healthy relationship with it for the most part: I don’t diet and I wouldn’t know how many calories were in something if my life depended on it. I exercise regularly and generally make sure I look after myself very well.

    But when I’m stressed food is the first thing I reach for. As a coping mechanism it seems relatively benign compared to some of the things I could be reaching for but it’s still not a habit I like.

    This is a list of things I have eaten standing next to the fridge or pantry or while seated in my car after a trip to the grocery store:

    • salami;
    • chocolate;
    • smoked salmon;
    • chocolate;
    • cheese;
    • chocolate;
    • pork scratchings (crackling); and
    • chocolate.

    Looking over this list, it’s pretty clear that I like chowing down on salty and fatty things when I’m stressed. What can I say? I never met a smoked or preserved meat or fish product I didn’t like. And none of these products are bad per se; they’re certainly not the healthiest foods around but they’re fine eaten as part of a balanced diet.

    However, when it comes to my chocolate addition I blame my mother: while she was pregnant with me she ate a family-sized block of Cadbury Dairy Milk every single day. Do you know how much chocolate that is? I was like a crack baby only with chocolate-coated veins.

    Perhaps I need to somehow reset my brain and taste buds to favour healthy food while I’m stressed. Wouldn’t it be great if I naturally gravitated towards fresh fruits, kale and quinoa when tense? I have a friend who once ate fruit and nothing but fruit for a few months and he says he’s never felt better.

    The problem is that I don’t want to be good and healthy when I’m stressed: I want to be naughty and defiant because it makes me feel fleetingly satisfied and therefore less stressed before the self-loathing kicks in. Plus, if I decide I won’t eat a particular food group it immediately becomes all I can think about.

    In any case, I am good most of the time. Honestly. So maybe the act of emotional eating is actually a a way of letting of steam, in a culinary sense. Perhaps we should actually embrace our inner emotional eater instead of vilifying him or her?

    I’d love to spend more time pondering this but it’s late at night and I have at least another 45 minutes of work ahead of me so I’m off to raid the pantry. Ahem. Just keep that last thought between you and me, OK?

    Quince CrumbleQuince Crumble

    Quince Crumble

    There are few things more comforting and sweetly satisfying in life than a homely crumble. You make it with whatever fruit you have lying around before dinner, whack it in the oven and it’s ready by the time you’ve finished eating. I love making crumbles with apples, pears, berries, peaches and rhubarb. But quinces are in season at the moment and the smell of roasting quinces is so wickedly ambrosial I couldn’t resist buying some.

    I’d be more than happy to bury my sorrows in a bowl of Quince Crumble any night of the week: this is food to soothe your soul, satisfy your belly and lift your spirits.


    • 5 quinces
    • 2 cups water
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
    • 75 grams butter
    • 75 grams brown sugar
    • 1 cup wholemeal flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder


    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
    2. Peel, core and quarter quinces and then slice each quarter into three slices.
    3. Arrange quinces in a suitable ovenproof dish in three layers.
    4. Pour over water so that it mostly covers the quinces and sprinkle over vanilla. Bake in oven for 2 hours, turning over slices mid way so none burn.
    5. To make crumble, blitz butter, sugar, flour and baking powder in a processor until it resembles a fine crumb.
    6. Sprinkle over cooked quinces and then bake for 25 minutes or until crumble is toasted and crunchy.
    7. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.


    1. Serves 4 people or 1 person nursing a broken heart.
    2. You could substitute 8-10 apples for the quinces but why would you want to? OK, if you really can’t find quinces you can use an apple like Granny Smith. In that case, don’t worry about baking the apples for the 2 hours – just bake the apples with the crumble for 25-30 minutes.

    More dessert recipes

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  • DSC_4906

    The Hungry Australian turns 3 plus White Chocolate and Feijoa Cupcakes

    pretty white cupcakes and flowerswhite chocolate cupcake silver sprinklescupcakes and flowerswhite chocolate cupcakes and flowers

    Happy Birthday to The Hungry Australian!

    It was three years ago that I tentatively hit publish on my first ever post, my dad’s Chinese Sausage Omelette. For any aspiring bloggers or photographers out there, go check out my early posts and raise your eyebrows at my photos. See? We all start somewhere.

    It’s hard to explain all the ways blogging has changed my life.

    Three years ago I was introduced to food blogs, quickly got hooked and a whole new world of publishing and social media opened up to me. The immediacy of the blogging medium was instantly appealing; later, I discovered that a blog is also a platform, a calling card and a wonderful way to make new friends.

    Three years ago I was thinking about returning to work again after a spell as a stay-at-home mum with a husband that travelled a lot. I couldn’t imagine going back to the senior management work I used to do as it was all-consuming but great, flexible jobs seemed to be practically non-existent.

    Now life is a constant juggling act — my idea of the perfect holiday involves a lot of sleeping as well as eating — but I get to do interesting work flexibly from home and my supportive family and ex husband hold the fort each time I head off on a work or media trip.

    Three years ago I would never have imagined that The Hungry Australian would be judged both Overall Winner and Best Food Blog at the Best Australian Blog 2014 competition. It was a tremendous surprise but a very nice one. Thank you again to the Australian Writers’ Centre (AWC), and also to Random House and Trafalgar for my fantastic prizes – I’m especially excited about visiting Turkey in October.

    Creating posts for The Hungry Australian is a joyful exercise, using so many different skills and challenging me each time I begin a draft post. I am someone who is easily bored but I can’t imagine becoming bored with blogging because I find it so creatively fulfilling: I’m always trying to improve what I do and there are always new things I want to learn.

    Constant learning and creative fulfilment aside, the thing I love most about blogging is all the wonderful, food-loving people it has brought into my life. It still amazes me that this little blog connects me with people all over the world and has opened so many doors for me. It just goes to show that a shared passion for food can make friends of strangers.

    Thank you for being part of The Hungry Australian and sharing in my pursuit of a delicious life. Without loyal readers and supporters, this blog would be a very different place so thank you for your comments, emails, shares, re-tweets, pins and posts. I look forward to sharing more stories, recipes and write-ups of exceptional food and travel experiences with you over the coming year.

    white chocolate cupcakes and flowerswhite chocolate cupcakes and flowerswhite chocolate cupcakes with gold sprinkleswhite chocolate cupcakes with flowerscupcake flowers

    White Chocolate & Feijoa Cupcakes

    My daughter is sensitive and articulate and loves spending hours on the couch reading and writing in her diary. Differently, my son is boisterous and exuberant and enjoys racing his toy cars along the walls. They are chalk and cheese in many ways and yet they both share a deep love for food and a helpful willingness to be bribed by it.

    But even with food their tastes diverge: my daughter loves anything made with vanilla but doesn’t like chocolate while my son has a deep and constant love for chocolate. So when considering what to cook for this post, I decided to make something that we could all happily eat. So I made a white chocolate and feijoa version of these Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes.

    A word on the ganache: after I’d beaten it I decided to Instagram the beater:

    The Hungry Australian instagram

    When I took the beater back to the kitchen and checked the mixing bowl the ganache had already started to set! I quickly reattached the beater to my KitchenAid, beat it again and the ganache became pliable again but the texture was not quite as satiny smooth as before. The moral of this story? Don’t muck around trying to post pics as you make these: when the ganache is freshly beaten and ready to use, start icing immediately.

    hands holding cupcacke

    I haven’t gone down the fancy icing path because these cupcakes should not be saved for that once a year special celebration – these cupcakes should be eaten as often as a balanced diet will allow and I don’t faff around with icing bags for our everyday eats.

    How do these cupcakes taste? Well, my ex ate three cupcakes while mumbling something about them being the best cupcakes he’d ever eaten. I’m not sure about that but these are definitely my new favourite cupcakes. I hope you enjoy them, too.

    hands holding cupcake


    • 125 grams unsalted butter
    • 100 grams white chocolate, broken into pieces
    • 240 grams feijoa and rosella jam (I used this).
    • 60 grams apricot jam
    • 2 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
    • 40 grams sugar
    • Pinch salt
    • 150 grams self-raising flour
    • 150 grams white chocolate, broken into little pieces
    • 150 mls double or thickened cream
    • Silver, gold and/or white pearls to decorate


    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 12-serve muffin tray with muffin cups.
    2. Melt butter in a small saucepan and then add chocolate. Take off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate has completely melted.
    3. Add jam, sugar, salt and eggs and mix until combined.
    4. Add flour and then mix until fully combined.
    5. Spoon mixture evenly into 12 muffin containers  and bake for 25 minutes.
    6. Leave in tin for ten minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
    7. To make ganache, add cream and chocolate to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat then let cool for 10 minutes.
    8. Transfer ganache to your mixing bowl then beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes until thick.
    9. Ice the cupcakes with an offset spatula or dessert spoon, smoothing the tops.
    10. Decorate cupcakes with balls or sprinkles.
    11. Once made store in an air-tight container if not serving straight away. You can refrigerate these but make sure you take them out 30 minutes before eating so they return to room temperature. Best eaten within 2-3 days.


    • If you can’t find feijoa and rosella jam try using apricot or fig jam instead.

    More cake recipes

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    Best Australian Blog 2014 Winner and a Celebratory Layered Pavlova


    Nearly everything that has happened since I started The Hungry Australian in mid 2011 has been a welcome surprise. But nothing has been quite as surprising (astonishing?) as finding out on Wednesday that I’d won the Australian Best Blogs 2014 competition organised by the Australian Writers’ Centre (AWC). 

    *Mind blown*

    A huge thank you to AWC national director Valerie Khoo, judge Carli Ratcliff and everyone else at the AWC who worked on these awards. Thank you also to competition sponsors Trafalgar and Random House. I’m so excited about all the fantastic prizes I’ve won. You have collectively made my day, week, month and year!

    I’d also like to congratulate all the talented bloggers who were this year’s finalists and winners. Do check them out.

    Nowadays, I’m a slashie: I’m a writer/photographer/recipe developer/food stylist/consultant/blogger. Everything that I do on this blog I now do for my clients, depending on what’s required. Turns out having an eternally curious mind (short attention span) and a broad range of skills (could never do just one thing) are good things in this new, digital economy. But I am a writer first and foremost because it’s something I have to do, regardless of whether anyone is reading. So winning this writing-focused competition is especially meaningful to me.

    Now following in the footsteps of the three previous competition winners — Cook Republic (2013), Edenland (2012) and Styling You (2011) — is a tremendous honour but it is also somewhat intimidating. However, I’ve come to realise that the best way I can honour the judges’ decision is to continue doing what I’ve always done, which is to blog the stories that mean something to me and that hopefully resonate with readers, too.

    So you won’t be seeing any dramatic changes in terms of content on The Hungry Australian: I’ll continue sharing my own recipes, stories about myself, my family and friends, and write-ups of exceptional travel and dining experiences. I will buy a new camera lens and some props I’ve been eyeing for some time but that’s about as far as it goes. 


    Now while blogging itself is a solitary occupation I wouldn’t be the blogger I am today if it wasn’t for the support, help and love of family and friends. 

    *Drum roll*

    Thank you to …

    My friend, Kerina, who suggested that I start a blog. To which I replied, “What’s a blog?”

    My parents, who still aren’t quite sure what I do, but who support me in too many ways to count, and who look after my kids so well every time I take off on a work/media trip.

    My kids, who keep me grounded and make me laugh every single day.

    My brother, who helps out with computer stuff and rolls his eyes when I talk.

    My ex husband, who let me share some of our stories and a few of his recipes here.

    The talented bloggers —  Cyn, Peter, Billy and John — in the Servved network.

    Adelaide bloggers, Erin, Celeste, Tash, George, Alex, Kirsty and Shai, plus others blogger buddies throughout Australia and beyond. You know who you are and I’m very glad we’re friends.

    Great local photographers, Grant and Kevin, who took the photos of me on my About page.

    Andrew and Johan for technical support at different times.

    Last, but certainly not least, thank you for reading The Hungry Australian and allowing me into your life. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for subscribing. Thank you for sharing my blog via your likes, shares, re-blogs, re-tweets and pins. Thank you for reaching out to me. Thank you for sharing your own stories and anecdotes with me.

    Here’s to a delicious life!!

    Christina xx


    Layered Pavlova with Pomegranate and Flowers

    I know there has been a glut of desserts on The Hungry Australian lately but I just had to bake a cake to celebrate this award. After considering several ideas, I decided to do a version of Pavlova, my favourite Australian dessert. I’ve previously blogged a Raspberry and Pomegranate Layered Pavlova recipe and this is the same recipe with some minor adjustments. It was a bit of work to prep the flowers but a special occasion calls for a special cake.


    • 10 egg whites
    • Large pinch salt
    • 2.5 cups sugar
    • 5 teaspoons corn flour
    • 2.5 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract
    • 725 mls thickened cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
    • 2 large pomegranates, seeds only
    • Assorted flowers to decorate


    1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
    2. Line three baking trays with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on each.
    3. Wipe mixing bowl with vinegar and then beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form.
    4. Add sugar in five batches (1/2 cup at a team), beating thoroughly between each addition until meringue is thick and shiny. Try holding the bowl upside down – if the meringue doesn’t move, it’s thick enough!
    5. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract and gently fold in.
    6. Divide mixture equally between three baking trays and spread gently to fill in the circle shape (an offset spatula is great for this). Smooth the top and the sides.
    7. Place the trays in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 120 degrees Celsius. Bake pavlovas for 90 minutes and then turn off heat, leaving them to cool in the oven.
    8. When ready to assemble, whip cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract.
    9. Take one pavlova and spread with a third of the cream, leaving a 2 cm gap around the edge. Decorate with 1/3 of the pomegranate seeds and then repeat with a second layer.
    10. Place the final pavlova on top  and cover with cream.
    11. Decorate the top layer with fresh flowers as prepared below and half of the remaining pomegranate seeds.


    • I suggest you read my previous Raspberry and Pomegranate Layered Pavlova recipe before you begin this one for some extra assembly tips.
    • Fresh flowers are not food safe unless they have been organically grown and are free of pesticides. And some flowers are poisonous and/or dangerous for human consumption even if they have been grown organically. So unless you are certain of the flower type and its source it’s best to prepare all flowers with a barrier between the flowers and the cake.
    • Gently wash and leave flowers to air dry. Work out where you want to place the flowers and then cut stems accordingly.
    • If inserting the flowers into the cake, wrap the stem completely in florist tape (available from florists, naturally) before inserting the wrapped stem into the cake.
    • For flowers that will be placed onto the cake, place small  and unobtrusive discs of cling wrap on top of the cake before you carefully place the flowers on top.
    • To insert flower stems into pavlova, use a sharp knife to pierce the cling wrap to make a hole and then insert the flower through.
    • To serve, remove the flowers and cling wrap and then scatter the top of the pavlova with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

    My favourite posts

    Some of you have been reading The Hungry Australian from the very beginning, some of you joined in along the way and some of you are no doubt new readers, curious to see what all the fuss is about. For new readers, here’s a selection of my favourite posts. I’ve love to redo some of the photography and food styling but these are the stories I like best. 

     Posts about family

    Posts with a recipe

    Posts about exceptional travel and dining experiences

    Posts about blogging

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    Adelaide Food and Wine Festival: 4-13 April 2014 – the lowdown, the highlights + my food writing debate (eek!)

    The Adelaide Food & Wine Festival is back – hip, hip, hooray!!

    Following the success of last year’s inaugural festival, Amanda Jane Pritchard (Kooki, Ducks in a Row) is back once again steering South Australia’s (SA) newest community food and wine festival into unchartered waters.

    This year, she’s pulled together a massive team of board, committee and volunteers to help share the work load, as well as bringing on board two creative directors, Gill Gordon-Smith (Fall from Grace) and Rebecca Sullivan (Dirty Girl Kitchen), who have helped to plan and program the nine-day festival.


    Now regular readers will know that I don’t usually do event previews. But in this case I had to make an exception because:

    1. I attended some of the festival’s events last year and they were really fun and different;
    2. Amanda asked me to be on the committee this year and I need to start pulling my weight; and
    3. I’m actually doing an event in the festival, which I hope some of you will be able to come to.

    The festival was launched on Tuesday night in the not-yet-open East End Cellars and although I couldn’t stay too late it was a really lovely night. Everyone in the room was somehow connected to the SA food and wine industry, whether they were a producer, a wine maker, a chef, a journalist or a blogger, and everyone was there to throw their support behind Amanda and the grassroots festival she had conceived and developed. The excitement, passion and energy in the room was palpable – it’s this kind of enthusiasm and desire not to settle for the status quo that makes me so glad to be living in my hometown again.

    The 2014 Festival

    To get the lowdown on this year’s festival, I chatted with Amanda this morning.

    Billed as a festival “by the people, for the people,” last year’s inaugural festival impressed a lot of people with the quality, diversity and size of its program. Were you expecting things to turn out as well as it did?

    “Last year I thought if everything went to plan it would be OK,” says Amanda.

    “There were so many different things that held us up along the way but in the end persistence paid off.”

    What are the major changes between last year’s festival and this year’s?

    “Having events that worked in the first year (has made things easier). When you’re doing things for the first time you have no idea how it’s going to work  out! This year, we knew we had an audience for events like The Market Feast, #EastEndWineDownThe Bacon Trail, the Coffee Crawl and the Don Dunstan Tribute. We could have run double the number of Coffee Crawls we did last year, actually. Pretty much any ticketed event that could sell out did so.

    “One of the major differences  is also that we’ve been selling tickets since last year for this year’s festival whereas last year tickets went on sale only three weeks before the festival started. Also, the Pozible campaign was so good on so many levels. It was a risk in some ways but its reach alone has been amazing – it’s reached millions of people all over the world! We offered discounted tickets as a reward for pledging so it meant that we’ve already sold tickets to many festival events.”

    Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.08.36 AM

    This year you have an army of volunteers on board. 

    “Yes. The board is the same as last year and the committee is pretty much the same, too, although it’s grown a bit. The real difference this year has been the volunteers – these young people, so talented, have put their hands up. I’m so fortunate – they’re  super talented, they’ve clever and they deliver. Volunteer effort and input is basically 100 times more than last year.”

    Who manages all the volunteers?

    “I personally manage all of them. I’m discovering new skills! I never considered myself a very good manager because I want to be a friend rather than a boss but that’s how I approach it. I sit down with each of them and I go through their resume. I ask them what do you want and why are you doing this? I give them tickets to things so they can go to some events, project manage some events and work at others.”

    lady at market feast copy

    Which new events are you most excited about?

    “Definitely the Baudin and Flinders Breakfast – the level of detail that we’re going into to make it informed and inspired by history is amazing, from the menu to the table settings to the entertainment. There’s this guy, Lance, who is 0f Head of Physics at Adelaide University. He created the Flinders’ Investigator Garden based on the work done by Robert Brown, Matthew Flinders’ botanist, who was the first person to catalogue the flora and fauna of this area. Lance is helping us to do the table settings and so on to make sure they’re all appropriate and of the era.”

    “The menu will also include bacon from heritage pigs,  smoked tommy ruff, foraged and found food and a scurvy preventative!”

    “The other event I’m really excited about is the Town Picnic. I’m basically trying to recreate all of my favourite memories — memories that I know other people share — of childhood.”  

    Highlights of the Festival

    Now I know I might annoy some people by naming favourites so let me preface this list by saying that all of the events in the program are inspired. Whether you’re crazy about food or mad about wine, you’re going to find a whole lot of things to love in this festival. Disclaimer out of the way, here are my picks – click the event name for the official info:

    1) Fork on the Road 

    Any self-respecting food lover in SA who hasn’t made it down to a Fork on the Road event cannot afford to miss this one. The monthly food truck meet ups are a great place to try different street food, catch up with friends and enjoy a buzzing atmosphere. No bookings necessary – simply turn up on the day and purchase food and drinks as your taste buds dictate.

    2) The Bacon Trail

    Richard Gunner’s passion for meat is infectious so I can’t think of a better person to lead the Bacon Trail through the Adelaide Central Market. If you love bacon, you won’t want to miss this one.  I’ve already bought tickets for my brother and his wife, actually. Book tickets.


    3) Don Dunstan Tribute

    For those unfamiliar with Don Dunstan, he was a pioneering Premier of SA in the 60s and 70s, and did many, many good things. For this dinner, his former apprentice, Sam Smith, now at Fino, will create a menu inspired by Don’s cookbook to be accompanied by Seppeltsfield wines. Yep, we had a premier who released a cookbook and later opened a restaurant. How awesome is that? Book tickets.

    4) The Market Feast

    I went to The Market Feast dinner held in the Adelaide Central Market last year and it was great fun. This year the irrepressible The Happy Motel with chef Duncan Welgemoed (Bistro Dom) are taking the reigns so it promises to be an amazing event. Go with a partner or group of friends and make a big night of it. PS Don’t forget your dancing shoes. Book tickets.


    5) Think. Talk. Food>Wine

    I’m really intrigued by this whole day networking/workshop/talk/debate event that Amanda & co have dreamed up. A whole line up of speakers including Stephen Yarwood, James Erskine, Festival Baron Warren Randall (Seppeltsfield), Amanda Daniel, Paul Wood and Chloe Reschke-Maguire will be debating the topic of ‘Collaboration or Competition’. I can’t wait to listen to, learn from and contribute to the discussion. This is a must-do for anyone who works in the food, wine or media industries (or who aspires to). Book tickets.

    AFWF_TTFWSA_slider (1)

    6) Town Picnic

    Rymill Park. Egg and spoon races. Apple bobbing. Picnic hampers. Peter Combe and the Crunch Munch VERY Sticky Band. Classes by wine writer Max Allen and chefs Jimmy Shu (Hanuman) and Salvatore Pepe (Cibos). Dogs. Kids running around. Need I say more? I’m going take my kids — they know all the words to Newspaper Mama — and a picnic rug and make a day of it. The event is free but you can book a cooking class, reserve your wine glasses, pre-order a picnic hamper or register your dog for the dog area.

    7) Eating Their Words

    A few months ago Amanda asked me if I’d be interested in doing an event on blogging for the festival. So I’m excited to let you know that food writer David Sly (Gourmet TravellerSA Life), I and chef Phil Whitmarsh will be debating food writing ethics, responsibilities and disclosure over dinner at the Daniel O’Connell. My friend George Ujvary, who has both the longest-running food blog in SA, The Foodologist, and an MA in Gastronomy from Adelaide University/Le Cordon Bleu, will be the moderator for the evening. Come along for a night of fantastic food and spirited debate about restaurant reviewing, food bloggers, social media, and the often complicated relationship between food writers, food bloggers and chefs. Book tickets.

    Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 12.45.33 PM

    8) Dessert Degustation

    When Chantelle from Steven ter Horst told me about the dessert degustation she and Steven were planning for the festival the other night, my heart started beating faster. Now we South Australians love our desserts — we have more dessert bars in this state than ANY other state in Australia — so I’m expecting this dessert degustation to sell out quickly. Book tickets.

    9) Sips in the Sticks

    Popular wine writer Max Allen and 12 leading ladies of wine (Kerri Thompson, Corrina Wright, Louise Hemlsy-Smith, Sam Connew, Kate Goodman, Fran Austrin, Anna Hooper, Kim Chalmers, Rebecca Wilson, Louise Rose, Amanda James-Prichard and host Sue Bell) join together with the local Afghan community for a lunch celebrating friendship, rural life and our immigrant past. Each of the ladies will be bringing along a homemade dessert to be judged by Penola CWA President Kate Spencer and special guest Senator Penny Wong. Book tickets.

    10) Porchetta Party

    Back by popular demand, the Porchetta Party features food by local chef Todd Steel (see my write up of his food at last year’s Sea and Vines Festival) matched with wines from Oliver’s Taranga down in the McLaren Vale. Personally, I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a Sunday arvo. Book tickets on tel: (08) 8323 8498 or email: nicky@oliverstaringa.com.au.

    There are lots of other fantastic events I didn’t have room to list here but you can check out the full program online.

    So which events will you be attending? :D

     Useful information

    • The Adelaide Food & Wine Festival runs from 4-13th April, 2014 in various location in the CBD and in the regions.
    • The Festival program can be found around Adelaide at selected outlets or online. Tickets can be booked through EventBrite.
    • The Festival is managed by a creator/director along with a board, two creative directors, a committee and team of amazing volunteers. It is run on a not-for-profit basis.

    Other event posts

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    2013: the year that was

    Another year is almost over and I’m feeling sentimental. So if you’ll indulge me, here’s a look at some of the highlights of the year.

    Mimosa Sorbet with Blood Oranges

    Better pinch myself, yes, it’s really happening…

    The year’s biggest surprise was winning the Outstanding Use of Photography award at the Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition for my post Exploring Dubai: Spices, Diamonds, Gold, Fruit & Vegetables. The shock of winning this award — with so many brilliant photographers/bloggers out there — had me pinching my arms until I was black and blue. Big love to the Australian Writers’ Centre.

    Coming a close second was being one of only five finalists in the Lifestyle category of the Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition. I started this blog because I was a writer who had lost her confidence and couldn’t finish anything so this nomination that was especially dear to my heart. Thanks again to the Australian Writers’ Centre for this honour.


    Pick of the posts

    These were my favourite posts on The Hungry Australian in 2013. I wouldn’t mind re-doing some of the photographs but these are the ones that most meaningful to me.

    1. Messy Pavlova or Eton Mess Down Under Style – nationality, Twitter and baking
    2. Anne of Green Gables and an Upside Down Plum Cake – my beloved childhood heroine
    3. Bloggers and brands: why we’re (mostly) doing it wrong – the blogger/brand relationship
    4. Penang Assam Laksa for Father’s Day – I finally re-blog my grandmother’s beloved recipe
    5. Top 5 Meals I Wish I’d Never Eaten – pretty self-explanatory, no?
    6. Prawn Lettuce Cups with Thai Dressing – a memorable argument with my ex husband
    7. Cockling at Goolwa Beach + 4 cockle (pippi) recipes – a beloved family ritual
    8. Moscato Stewed Quinces – a funeral and a gathering of friends
    9. Steak with Asian Dressing – documents my one gym visit of the year
    10. Thai Prawn Salad – the photo of my dad always makes me smile

    pomegranates at Dubai fruit market

    Cool stuff

    I worked on a lot of great projects this year for my amazing clients. Highlights include the Custard Apples 2013 media campaign, working with the Almond Board of Australia on an ongoing basis, and the Go Behind the Scenery campaign for Tourism Tasmania. I also did the food styling for two Wok in a Box shoots, one of which was a TV commercial that is due to air soon.

    I took quite a few trips this year, which made me really happy because I love travelling and exploring new places. I visited TasmaniaBrisbaneHamilton IslandSydney and Perth for this blog, went on a family cruise and to a family wedding, and did numerous day trips around South Australia.

    In early 2013 I  joined the Servved advertising network, home to some of my favourite Australian food bloggers. I have also just signed on with StockFood, the premier food image agency.


    Thank you for reading The Hungry Australian and being part of this delicious adventure. Looking forward to sharing lots more recipes and travel experiences with you in 2014!

    Christina xx

    PS new recipe up on Friday :-)

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    Gone fishing

    Hello! I’m a few days into my first cruising holiday with my family. I’m here with my kids, parents, brother, sister in law, niece and nephew. Our family friend, R, came with us, too. No doubt she started regretting her decision to join us before we left Adelaide when my brother and I started bickering in the airport terminal. He started it, of course.

    Grilled Lobster

    The cruise was my parent’s idea. Having been on one last year themselves they thought it would be an easy way to relax, enjoy each other’s company and travel with our kids (aged almost 7, 3 1/2, 4, and 18 months). So a few days ago we left Sydney on Carnival’s Spirit ship for a 9-day cruise. We’ve visited some islands in the Pacific and spent a lot of time in the water swimming and snorkelling.

    Mystery Island, Vanuatu

    As a food blogger I felt it was my responsibility to sample as much of the different food on board ship as possible. Unfortunately I didn’t quite grasp how much food was constantly available at all the different outlets. Let’s just say this: if I still fit into my clothes when I disembark it will be a miracle. I’m not even going to mention the three course dinner including melting chocolate cake for dessert every night. Or the 24 hour pizza oven. I’m not a clairvoyant but I’m suddenly seeing a lot of soup, salad and juicing posts in my future…

    Chicken on Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

    I’d planned to do a whole lot of blogging while I was away but unfortunately it just hasn’t happened. Mostly because I’m sharing a room with my kids who are going to bed between 9:30pm-10:00pm every night because my 3 year old thinks sharing a room equals party time. So the time I thought I’d have to blog has been spent yelling variations of “go to sleep!”and trying to stop my 3 year old from dive bombing his sister from his bunk bed. Totally a #firstworldproblem, right?

    Mystery Island, Vanuatu

    I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule soon. In the meantime, let me leave you with this postcard-perfect scene.

    Christina xx

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    The Hungry Australian turns 2!

    The Hungry Australian recently celebrated its second birthday. So here are some of my favourite photographs I’ve blogged over the last year.

    Willunga Farmers Market, McLaren Vale

    It’s hard to explain everything The Hungry Australian means to me and how it’s changed my life. But I’m going to give it a go.

    Bellini Sorbet

    I began this blog in mid 2011 with a post about my dad’s Chinese sausage omelette after my dear friend Kerina suggested it. At the time I had recently moved back to my home town of Adelaide, following a stint in Melbourne as a SAHM which in turn followed a successful overseas career.

    CQ8uhN on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
    I was also a freelance writer — I had my first piece published in 1994 — but back in 2011 I wasn’t finishing anything because I had lost my confidence. So I saw blogging as a way of dipping my toes back into my writing again – it would be an outlet where I could safely practise my craft until I was brave enough to jump back into the deep end.

    Foraging for cockles + 4 cockle recipes

    I didn’t realise that a blog can be a deep end in itself.

    Grilled Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream and Strawberry Sauce

    Fast-forward to two years later and my blog has helped create a new career for me as a consultant, freelance writer, recipe developer, food photographer and stylist. Just try fitting that onto a business card! What began organically through my blog with companies contacting me to do work for them is now my full-time gig.

      A lovely afternoon tea - The Hungry Australian

    Blogging has meant that I can work flexibly from home while my kids are small, which is basically my ideal setup. It’s meant that when my husband and I separated last year and I had to get a job after being a SAHM for so many years, the tools and skills to do so were already at my fingertips.

    The Breakfast Rave, Barossa Valley

    The Hungry Australian has taken me to places I never dreamed I’d go. It’s meant I’ve been invited to be part of some incredible food experiences in Adelaide, interstate and overseas. Last year, it led me to start up the Adelaide Food Bloggers Group and to co-chair Eat Drink Blog 3, the third Australian Food Bloggers Conference. Earlier this year, I was also invited to join the Servved network, sitting alongside some extraordinary bloggers who I’ve admired for years.

    Delicious Power Crackles

    Blogging has also brought all sorts of amazing people into my life. People I used to only read about or cyber-stalk (in a non-creepy way) are now friends and colleagues. Some I chat to online but I’ve never met in person, some I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy meals and experiences with, and some have become close and treasured friends. If you’re one of these people — and you know who you are — I am so glad to have you in my life.

    J's Chocolate Cake (dairy and egg free)

    Along the way The Hungry Australian has been honoured with all kinds of recognition. I was especially thrilled to be a finalist in the Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition earlier this year and to win the Outstanding Use of Photography award for my post Exploring Dubai: Spices, Diamonds, Gold, Fruit & Vegetables – see photograph below.

    Exploring Dubai - spices, diamonds, gold, fruit & vegetables

    The Hungry Australian is a work in progress – I’m still finding my feet and working out what kind of blogger I want to be and what kind of things I like to blog about. And I’m not always as regular as I’d like to be with posting content and engaging with readers because of my work and family commitments.

    Bruscetta with Quail Eggs, Truffle & Asparagus

    However I do read every comment left and I do feel a warm glow inside every time you share my work. I really love hearing from you, too – I especially enjoy it when you respond with your own stories and experiences because it’s like a little window back into your world.


    I am just so grateful for everything that has happened because of this blog. I could never have predicted any of this and I guess that’s what makes it all so exciting.

    As to what the future holds, well, I have a few ideas. Which idea I’ll eventually decide on is still up for debate. But I can promise you it’s going to be fun. And there will definitely be food – lots of food. So I do hope you’ll continue to come along for the ride.

    Thanks for reading.

    Christina xx

    Posts from top to bottom:

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    A little announcement…

    Regular readers may notice one or fifty little changes around The Hungry Australian today. Yes, my blog has had a makeover!

    We’ve been working quietly behind the scenes for some time now to make The Hungry Australian much more user-friendly. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for so long and I’m really happy with the results. What do you think?

    Behind the scenes there have also been some other big changes that I’ve been dying to share.

    Firstly, my blog is now part of the Servved network by Sydney Stockholm. I’m  honoured to be sharing this space with BillyCyn and Peter – I’ve been crushing on all these guys’ blogs for years so to be sitting alongside them on Servved is incredible. *pinches self*

    When I started The Hungry Australian in June 2011 I could never have imagined all the wonderful opportunities and friendships that blogging would bring into my life. It has been absolutely life-changing for me, in all sorts of extraordinary ways, and I am just so grateful.

    One unexpected bonus of publishing my blog is that it’s led to my current career as a freelancer and consultant. Nowadays I work on all kinds of food-related content —  recipes, freelance or copy writing, styling and photography — and digital publishing projects for clients all over Australia and beyond. I’m thankful that my paid work is now at a level that my parents have stopped asking me when I am going to get a real job. They now understand that I have a real job, as odd as it may seem to them.

    As my work has grown, so too has the challenge of juggling work, this blog and my two kids – let’s just say that I rarely go to bed before midnight and I have to dose myself with a strong pot of tea in the morning.

    So I’m thrilled to be working with Sydney Stockholm who will be managing the commercial side of the The Hungry Australian from now on. Yes, I now carry advertising — you’ll have noticed the single banner at the top of my blog — but it’s contextual and nicely designed. Sydney Stockholm also managed the great redesign of this blog (with a lot of input from me) and look after the technical side of things. This leaves me free to focus on what’s most important to me – the content. I love creating new stories, recipes and imagery to share with you.

    So will my blogging style change from now on? Probably. Hopefully. It’s changed over the 21 months since I started this blog and I hope it continues to evolve. What won’t change, however, is my editorial control of my blog. Regular readers will know that I am an unashamed control freak. So while my blogging style will develop as I do, I will always retain 100% editorial control.

    Similarly, my personal ethics and integrity remain the same: I will always disclose any sponsorships and I will always blog honestly and from my heart.

    I am so grateful to all of you who read this blog and those who take the time to share or comment on my posts. Thank you for your tremendous support. Your feedback and your own food stories inspire me every day.

    The Hungry Australian has always been about the pursuit of a delicious life. So I do hope you’ll continue to join me on this food-filled journey – we have lots of exploring and eating to do!

  • christina-soong-kroeger

    The Hungry Australian on the ABC Foodi App for Ipad

    Yesterday I received a long-awaited email from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) informing me that their updated Foodi app for Ipad is now available for download from the Apple store.

    Why am I so excited? Well, because three of my recipes from The Hungry Australian appear on the Foodi app, alongside recipes by chefs like Maggie Beer, Simon Bryant, Matt Moran, Bill Granger and Poh Ling Yeow!

    *pinches self*

    I don’t know how I’ve managed to kept quiet about this for so long. I was approached by a producer at the ABC way back in February and it’s been a long six months waiting to see the final result.

    Continue reading