a winter’s end ft. maxwell + williams

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I’ve gotten really behind on this blog space. Like, months behind. Life has forged ahead in a barrage of late nights, early mornings, frozen dinners and lukewarm coffees consumed in a weak attempt to maintain sanity.

I’ve missed comments, questions and emails. I’ve been dismally sporadic on social media. Let’s just say that my time and energy for this space have recently dissipated (as have my normal working hours and pimple-free complexion) and I’m hoping that things will get better soon.

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Anyway, in the midst of the busyness (a couple of months ago) the kind folks at Maxwell & Williams sent me a few of their products to style in a winter shoot. Think: mulled wine, clustered candles, warm light and layered textiles with natural timber.

I was so excited. I bought a fruity Shiraz to mull with star anise, cloves and heady citrus. I started planning for colour contrasts against rich acacia wood. But despite the best of intentions, most of winter ran away from me (sans the energy required for a candlelit dinner party) and late June became mid-July. Eventually, grand ideas gave way and I improvised. Blogger life, right?

So, in absence of an official shoot, I’m sending images your way of these gorgeous products in a less formal manner. Instead of candles and rich spices, you’ve got sunlight and Mexican food. A little representative of the change of seasons, really.

table

Heading up this post is the Little Jungle Terrarium Orbit (top, 13cm, $29.95). Something I never thought I’d feature in my kitchen (sooo #hipsterhome) but it’s rather adorable in its shiny roundness. I’ve filled mine with soft green herbs, mulch and organic earth (not a plastic deer in sight) and the concept has worked beautifully. I’m happy to say that three weeks on, the herbs are growing steadily in their glistening new home, with new tendrils of thyme curling towards the windowsill. Happiness*.

*click away if you’re after a more traditional DIY on how to fill the perfect terrarium

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sampleinstaSecond to be featured is the gorgeous Artisan Long Board (55 x 20.1 x 1.8cm, $49.95, above) which is begging to be used as a centrepiece for entertaining. I’ve used it as a backdrop for a casual Mexican flat-lay (or mis en place, if you will) but I’m already planning a dinner party where it will be laden with beet dip, spelt seeded crackers, leafy Dutch carrots and a wedge of piquant blue cheese.

The quality acacia wood adds instant warmth to a table setting. In a couple of months, I’m sure you’ll be able to play spot-the-long-board on this ‘ol blog. It’s already a firm favourite.

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So. Big thanks to Maxwell & Williams inspiring this post with warm timber, rope and glass. And, as always, thanks to those of you who read this blog and engage with content. I do hope that I’ll have some new recipes up for you soon.

In the meantime, you’ll find plenty of deliciousness (including the recipe for my black bean tacos, above) in my recipe index.

Disclaimer: the Little Jungle Terrarium Orbit and Artisan Long Board featured in this post were supplied by Maxwell & Williams. No monetary compensation was received and as always, all views expressed are my own. #yourstyleyourway

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blackened corn salad with ancho chile and lime

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It’s a beautiful spring day today, gently warm and dappled with colour. The breeze drifts softly over sun-drenched trees, heady with sweet rose and eucalyptus. Bird calls are echoing outside my window, intermingled with the urban hum of tyres against blackened tar. I love days like this. The argent hues of spring bring the promise of summer; days at the beach, floaty sundresses, balmy evenings in the garden eating ice cream with sticky fingers.

corn

As a diasporic Australian, I’ve always had strong associations with summer. The crackle of scorched grass underfoot, frozen spearmint milk, iceberg lettuce and the whir of an oscillating fan; all of these images mean ‘summer’ to my mind.

As I’ve grown older, Mexican food has also become one of my summer associations. It’s something to do with the colour, textures, spice and one-handed portability; perfect for nights by the pool drinking ice-cold Sol with lemon.

bowl avo

Though I’ve always been a fan of crisp quesadillas, guacamole and cheesy tacos, it’s only been over the past three years that I’ve discovered the delicious freshness of ‘real’ Mexican food such as spiced tamales, mole poblano and lime-drenched elotes or ‘seasoned corn on the cob’.

My first bite of fresh, blackened corn slathered in Mexican cream, crumbled cotija, chilli flakes, lime and garlic was heavenly. I’ve been eating it in various forms ever since.

husks jalapenos

One of my favourite ways of eating Mexican corn is in salad form, namely esquites or ‘Mexican street corn salad’. It contains all of the main ingredients of elotes but removes the need to gnaw at a sticky corn cob (less cheese on face and more in mouth is a win, in my opinion).

As the months have passed, my version of esquites has evolved to contain more herbs and less sticky, cheesy ingredients. Of course, the cotija remains, but the mayonnaise and Mexican cream have been replaced with creamy avocado and fruity olive oil.

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The end result is a light, fresh corn salad that retains its lime-drenched goodness within a less cloying package. The fresh corn, colourful peppers, soft herbs and creamy avocado pay homage to my Mexican Corn Salad of one year ago whilst being ‘amped up’ by pickled jalapenos, powdered ancho chile and black pepper.

I’ve piled this corn salad into a soft tortilla with grilled fish and sour cream for an easy hand-held dinner. It’s also been a regular on the barbecue rotation alongside grilled asado, chimichurri and creamy potato salad. But in the late afternoons when I’m sitting alone in my kitchen, I just eat it from the bowl with a spoon. It’s that good.

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Blackened Corn Salad with Ancho Chile and Lime

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

  • 4 ears corn, freshly washed and husked
  • 1/2 medium green pepper
  • 1/2 medium red pepper
  • 2 whole avocadoes
  • 5 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 200g mixed cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • a handful of mint*, washed and chopped finely
  • a handful of coriander*, washed and chopped finely
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp pickled jalapenos, drained and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated cotija, crumbled feta or Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper

*you will need equivalent of 1/4 cup chopped herbs, mix and match as desired

Using a pair of heat-proof tongs, carefully rotate your corn cobs over a naked flame (gas cook top or portable gas hob) until hot and slightly blackened. When cool enough to handle, hold each cob over a medium-sized bowl and use a sharp knife to remove the kernels.

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Whist still warm, add in the juice and zest of one lime, salt and pepper, the ancho chile powder and a good slug of olive oil. Mix well and set aside.

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De-seed your halved peppers and chop each into a rough dice (about 1x1cm). Peel your avocadoes and remove the stones. Cut each into a similar size dice to the peppers, then squeeze over the remaining lime juice to prevent browning. Add the peppers and avocado to the corn mix with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, taste and season as necessary.

fin mixed

This salad is perfect in burritos or tacos, served alongside fish or chicken. It’s also great as part of a barbecue spread, accompanied by good bread, guacamole, chipotle sauce and copious amounts of char-grilled meat.

haute clup peppers

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