Clementine Day is behind one of our favourite local food and cooking-based Instagram accounts, @somethingsiliketocook. The self-taught cook lives and works on Wurundjeri Land in Melbourne and encourages an unfussy, relaxed approach to cooking. Logically, we had to ask her a few questions.
What is your favourite thing about cooking/food? How did you find your passion?
My favourite thing about food is the way it represents my love for people. When I cook for people I pour a lot of love and tenderness into it, it's just for them, which I think is so special but it's also so fun. I think all of the best experiences in life revolve around food and I think it's so lovely to have someone cook for you, it's a really intimate experience. Putting care into the food that you make for people you love is so special for them, and it will feel good for you, but I also really love the act of cooking itself. It's meditative, creative, methodical, it's got rhythm - it's a great release for me.
What are your top three pantry staples? And top three fridge essentials?
This is a really hard question for me because I have quite an extensive pantry that I lean on heavily when I cook. I'd say in the pantry I always have pasta, canned fish and some dried beans - these three things fit in seamlessly for an endless array of meals that you can combine with whatever fresh produce you bring back from the market (or from your veg garden). In the fridge, butter, eggs and lots of fresh herbs. You can do lots and lots of things with these six things!
Do you have a go-to outfit or look for days spent in the kitchen?
I almost always wear a shirt tucked into jeans in the kitchen, inevitably there will be a tea towel hanging out of my pocket or thrown over my shoulder. I used to cook a lot barefoot (not particularly safe) but now try to always wear shoes! Haha.
What is your advice for creating a simple yet satisfying weekday meal?
I think the most important thing is to make food that you like to eat! Something you will enjoy, and better yet, something that will give you leftovers so that you don't have to cook dinner the next night. I will generally make some kind of pasta, soup, stew or tray bake, anything that uses only one pot or pan, something I know will reheat well. Always with vegetables, always with lemon, always with herbs and parm.
Do you have any tips for those of us in lockdown? How can we find inspiration, motivation and keep things alive in the kitchen?
Lockdown cooking can be so hard! Not so much because of the cooking as such, but because of your moods! Sometimes it's just so hard to find the motivation, other times, it's a great distraction to pour a couple of hours into cooking or baking things.
My advice is, always set the mood. When I'm about to start cooking and I'm not really 'feeling it', I put some of my favourite good vibes music on, maybe pour myself a wine or make myself a nice cup of tea, change out of my pjs (lol).
Also, make a galette! They are fun, easy, incredibly tasty, and you'll feel like you accomplished something. Biting into homemade pastry that is flaky and crunchy and yum is so satisfying! Once you've made one, start to play with it, they can be sweet, savoury, whatever you like. I've shared my recipe for a delicious apricot galette - remove the sugar and fill with fresh tomatoes, oregano and garlic for an easy savoury version.
Apricot Galette with Cream
Apricots are so, so special to me. When I was little I stayed with some people who had an apricot orchard and I ate every apricot within arm's reach. This was later something I regretted but it didn't detract from my utter enjoyment and love for this beautiful velvety fruit. This crostata/galette pastry number is an easy one that you can use with lots of things. You can press it into a tart base and top with criss-crossed pastry like a traditional crostata if you want to but I personally don't mind it a bit more rugged. I don't add sugar to the pastry because I press it generously onto the outside to form a crust. Fill with your favourite fruit, plums, blackberries, thinly sliced apple, strawberries. It's always good and never bad.
- 6-7 apricots, pitted and halved
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 vanilla pod scraped
- 2 cups plain flour
- 170g butter (refrigerated and cold!)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 1-2 tablespoons demerara sugar
- 1 egg, whisked for egg wash
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios, chopped finely
- 250ml good double cream
First step is to prepare your pastry. In a food processor, add flour and salt. Pulse once to combine. Cube your cold butter and add to the flour, pulse a few times until you still have pea size pieces of butter, a few bigger ones are fine here. Go bigger rather than smaller if in doubt. You can also do this by hand. Add your flour and salt to a bowl and using your fingertips in quick pinching motions, work the butter and flour until it's all looking a bit yellow and you've got nice pea sized chunks remaining.
Transfer into a bowl, or if already in a bowl add apple cider vinegar and about half of the iced water and bring together with a fork. It will still look loose but if you squeeze a bit between your hand it should hold its form. Add more water as necessary until it just comes together.
Transfer out onto a clean surface and pat into a round flat disk. You may need to do two or three kneads to help you bring it in if it's a little dry but that's all, don't over work! Cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, combine apricots with vanilla, caster sugar, cinnamon and zest and juice from 1 lemon. Leave to sit.
When ready, preheat oven to 200 C and roll out pastry onto a piece of baking paper. Make it as roundish and about 5mm thick. Add the apricots to the centre, leaving a 2 inch border and then fold the edges in on top. Use the baking paper to help you maneuver the pastry if it's tricky. Brush pastry with egg wash and press the demerara sugar into the outside using your hands.
Cook in the oven for about 55-60 minutes or until pastry is golden and apricots are soft but still holding their shape. When done, scatter pistachios over the top and serve with a dollop of cream.