'Simple is a word not often honoured in today's busy lives. However, it was this very word that inspired me to start writing a daily recipe blog. Petite Kitchen was created purely to share my passion and vision for wholesome, nourishing food. Every recipe in [my] book encapsulates my experiences of research, trial and testing, resulting in each recipe being created as nature intended it to be — simple!'.
Self-taught cook and food writer/stylist, Eleanor Ozich, says the road to simple eating began for her family when her four-year old daughter developed severe eczema. The journey meant that all gluten, almost all grains, all refined sugar, additives and preservatives were removed from the family's diet and a clean and simple eaten plan was undertaken. This natural diet brought a new lease of light to the child's health, and Eleanor says that she and her husband and one-year old son have benefited also.
I've been following Eleanor's work for some time now, as I too embarked on a grain free and 'clean' eating plan about a decade ago and the results for me at the time were quiet remarkable. My own daughter, who is all grown up, embarked on a clean and simple gluten-free eating plan some two years ago and her health and wellbeing also improved greatly. (I might just mention here that my daughter shares her recipes and clean eating inspiration via Instagram).
So now back to Eleanor, whose first cook book, My Petite Kitchen, has just been published. The book reflects the very essence of Eleanor's food and style, offering more than 100 gluten-free whole food recipes designed to nurture one's body and soul. There are breakfasts, light meals and side dishes, nourishing main courses, stunning desserts; as well as dainty nibbles and delicious drinks. The recipes are complemented by beautiful photographs shot by Eleanor herself and the resulting book is simply beautiful from cover to cover, as the recipe and photograph below will show.
Thanks to the publicity team at Murdoch Books, I had the opportunity to catch up with Eleanor recently, to talk about her work and her first cook book. Our conversation follows:
Hello Eleanor. Congratulations on the publication of your first book, My Petite Kitchen Cookbook. I've enjoyed popping a bunch of post it tabs onto the pages of the book. There are so many recipes I'm keen to try! It's a lovely book and such a credit to your work, both in terms of your 'simple food' recipes, as well as the styling and photography.
Thanks Liz, I hope you will enjoy cooking from the book.
Tell me, what first sparked your interest in food and cooking and how old were you at the time?
I have always had a love for food and cooking. I grew up living above my parents restaurant, so I guess I was naturally surrounded by a passion for food. Although I truly became really interested in preparing wholesome and healthy meals as my family imparted on a journey to cure my daughter's health issues. That was over two years ago now, and I have only become more in love with cooking and baking delicious yet nourishing food.
You have a great eye for food styling and photography. Tell me how you got started in this field.
When I started the blog 'Petite Kitchen' I was originally using my iPhone to take photos of the food I had created. It was not long after that I decided that I needed to invest in a better camera. I guess my photography and styling has been a natural progression of writing the blog, and is something that I absolutely love being able to do. I have always been obsessed with op-shopping too, so am always picking up lovely vintage props which help to create beautiful photos.
Who are your food heroes, or what inspires you the most when it comes to food and cooking?
I absolutely love Jamie Oliver. He constantly inspires me with his infectious passion for food and educating others on the importance of healthy home cooking. I also love Nigel Slater and own almost all of his cookbooks.
When it comes to the cookbooks you cook from (if there are any?), do you prefer to keep the pages pristine or do you like it when they’re well used and the pages are just a little splattered?
My ever-growing collection of cookbooks are definitely 'well used!' I am not worried about keeping them in pristine condition, and I only hope that others do the same with mine!
Do you have an all-time favourite recipe?
I do indeed! in fact I have a pot simmering away as we speak. My braised lentils in a rich tomato sauce with preserved lemon are a household staple, and I love that the recipe is so versatile. Lovely and packed full of flavour, this dish can be enjoyed simply on its own with a little sprinkling of cheese or served with your favourite grilled meat or fish.
Is there a recipe you'd like to share with Good Things readers?
Yes I would love to share my recipe for Garlic and Lemon Zest Peas Smashed with Avocado, from page 58 of the book. I hope that your readers enjoy trying it out. (See below). It's zingy, light and crunchy with a creamy texture and is splendid on its own as a light lunch, or as an accompaniment to most types of meat or fish.
Thank you for taking the time for a conversation with me!
My pleasure, Liz.
GARLIC AND LEMON ZEST PEAS SMASHED WITH AVOCADO
2 tablespoons ghee, butter or olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
420g (150z/3 cups) frozen or shelled fresh peas
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
flesh of 1 avocado, roughly chopped
40g (11/2oz/1/4 cup) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
sea salt and black pepper
Melt the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat, until sizzling. Add the garlic, onion and peas and cook, stirring regularly, for a couple of minutes or until the garlic and onion start to soften and brown.
Add the lemon zest and juice, parsley, avocado, pepitas and a large pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a fork or potato masher, roughly mash together until well combined. Drizzle with a good glug of olive oil and serve. Serves 2.
Thank you kindly to the publicity team at Murdoch Books for giving me the opportunity to catch up with Eleanor Ozich by email, and to review this delightful and delicious title. My Petite Kitchen by Eleanor Ozich is published by Murdoch Books, $39.99.
Tell me dear readers, do you follow Eleanor's blog, Petite Kitchen, and do you have a copy of her book on your shelves?
Hi. I'm Liz. I'm a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
I love the process of writing and the stringing together of words to form
a story borne from the wisp of an idea. I also greatly enjoy cooking
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes, postcards and morsels from my adventures, conversations with cookery writers
and chefs, and news on food and cooking.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.