How to be a haphazard host

Maybe it was the lack of sleep this weekend, or the copious number of vodka sodas last night, but I’ve been completely useless today. Take this chain of events as an example. We invited some friends around for dinner, and the following… well… followed. Shit I’m on fire tonight.

I first bought fresh olives as a starter, took a bite out of one and learnt the hard way that fresh olives are not edible. Thank god this happened before anyone arrived. And here I was all uppity about my food knowledge, getting owned by that olive!

Just before our friends arrived, I discovered that the pita bread I was going to use for the starter was a bit past it’s prime. I then proceeded to burn the turkish bread – so lucky that I only put half of it in the oven.

I put the almonds in to toast and 10 minutes later discovered I’d turned the oven off after burning the bread.

I burnt the carrots, engulfing the apartment with smoke… seems our smoke alarm isn’t working, which could be a cause for concern, but really, it does make life as a cooking nerd less stressful.

I plated up the dessert in an attempt to be artistic, only to find it looked utterly ridiculous (thankfully we all agreed it tasted amazing regardless).

I packed a jar of this vegetable stock paste to give away, turned it upside down to seal the jar and came back to find the lid hadn’t sealed properly and there was a puddle of green veggie juice on the counter.

And the finale, I pretty much threw a can of coconut cream over myself and the kitchen floor. Sounds sexual… and it was hilarious, but a pain in the ass to clean up.

Luckily we had invited two very close friends over for dinner so they are well accustomed to my lack of coordination.

However, despite all of the above, the meal itself was fantastic! A simple platter of nibblies to start – including some olives I picked up at the last minute from the local IGA to replace the fresh ones (which I’m now soaking in preparation for brining, more on that in a later post). Followed by a delicious and light, but still very satiating, main course. And finished with a refreshing dessert, which included chocolate, as all good desserts should.

Speaking of the dessert, this blog, Vegie-head, is so good, it’s actually going to be the focus of next week’s theme. The dessert was just this chocolate coconut cake, but I halved the recipe and divided the batter between 12 muffin holes so they were mini cakes. Or, as I’ve named them, lady-cakes. Because if I only ever eat cakes that size I’ll stay looking like a lovely lady as opposed to turning into the Michelin Man.

And finally, do you remember back to when you were a kid and you’d give out ‘lolly bags’ at the end of a birthday party? I think we shouldn’t lose that tradition in growing up. There are few gifts that are as lovely to give or receive as something someone has cooked in their own kitchen. So I sent our friends home with the abovementioned jar of stock, a little bag of walnuts (because they wanted to make banana bread tonight and needed walnuts and the shops were closed and I’d happened to buy a big bag yesterday) and three of the leftover lady-cakes. Do it, start packing up a little something to give away when you cook for your friends. Or don’t, and die lonely.

the carrots are being all shy and hiding under the tomatoes - woops

Managing expectations

Olives, marinated and stuffed

Za’atar and olive oil

Toasted turkish bread

The main event

Hummus swirled plates with…

Blackened glazed carrots

Shaved asparagus and rocket salad

Tomato and olive salsa

And a happy ending

Chocolate coconut lady-cakes, served with…

Fresh dragonfruit slices, drizzled with…

Coconut cream

Blackened glazed carrots (serves 4)

This recipe is proof that if you make a whoopsi while cooking, just call it something fancy and chances are no one will know it was accidental. Until my dinner guests read this post (yes, I expect your attention in return for the dinner). Even better when the accident improves the dish. As it turned out, I think the charriness was great – really balanced with the sweetness of the glaze!


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g carrots (baby carrots, left whole, would be lovely), peeled, halved and cut lengthways thickly
  • Finely grated rind and juice from a ripe orange
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet, toss carrots in it and cover with a lid.
  2. After a few minutes (3-5?) turn the carrots – they should have started to brown on one side.
  3. Go away and do something else for a while. I’m guessing it was at least another 5 minutes. When the carrots are completely black on one side  – you’ll want to disable any smoke alarms in the house before they reach this point – uncover, turn the heat down, quickly stir the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Because of the heat of the pan, everything will pretty much caramelise immediately, but if it doesn’t, simmer until the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat and serve.

Shaved asparagus and rocket salad (serves 4)


  • 4 spears of asparagus, shaved with a potato peeler
  • 4 big handfuls of rocket
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and cracked pepper


  1. Shake the oil, lemon juice and a good crack of salt and pepper together in a jar.
  2. Toss everything together with the dressing. Serve.

Tomato and olive salsa (serves 4)


  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped finely
  • 1/4 leek, sliced finely and chopped (you don’t want rings of leek)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt to taste


  1. Mix everything together in a bowl and cover with cling wrap. I did this in the morning and left in the fridge all day and I think the flavours probably benefited.
  2. Serve on top of whatever tickles your fancy.

p.s. The theme for this week is recipes from New Zealand. Well not NZ specifically, but a friend from work who has just moved over here from NZ who has given me three recipes to try, all of which sound amazing. And she’s given me permission to post them. Yay!

p.p.s. This Friday is Good Friday. It’s tough, I want to be all irreverant and eat meat, but the idea of eating meat is so abhorrent to me that there’s no way. So I’m going to be totally non-badass and make something like spaghetti and lentil balls. Or a chickpea roast. Shit. Sounds lame. Will taste good though.



2 thoughts on “How to be a haphazard host

  1. Mmmmm… I could eat the hell out of that plate. It’s beautiful.

    I can really empathize with your post. I can’t tell you how many meals ended up sounding very similar to your own.

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