FORMER Sunshine Coast foodie Nicole Leddicoat finally has the time to pursue her two favourite passions, cooking and travelling, since she moved with her husband to England.
Even though she had lived overseas through her work with Foreign Affairs in Canberra, her husband Matthew Black's job now allows her to stay at home and indulge in writing about her travels around the world and the culinary experiences she absorbs
"I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to live away and travel so much," she said.
Nicole, 34, pictured, has always had an interest in the more difficult, technical areas of cooking as well as the tasty part.
"From a young age, I was always keen to learn how to create delicious dishes and how to time things so that dishes aren't under- or overcooked and that flavours complement each other," she said.
Living in London means she has the time and freedom to try new and more complicated recipes she otherwise might overlook.
And she is now only a hop, skip and jump away from the rest of Europe, allowing her to appreciate the countries' culture - especially the food - and blog about it in her humble way at kensingtonkitchenadventures.blogspot.com.
One of her latest trips was to Tuscany where she learnt how to slow-cook food with tender loving care.
"Tuscan food is prepared using the fresh local ingredients," Nicole said.
"They sound simple, but the art of slow cooking over two to three hours makes it magical. Being able to visit the places and then come home and try to re-create my travel experiences in my own kitchen is now a passion."
Nicole's father Barry Leddicoat said that cooking had been a family obsession for a long time.
"Food has always been a very big deal in the house," he said.
"Carmel, my wife, can make a meal out of very little and feed the masses."
He said Nicole always had loved finding good food in unexpected spots.
"Rather than eating at expensive restaurants, she could always find the quirky little places," he said.
Roast tomato and leek soup with basil cream
1 leek - white portion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 large tin of whole peeled tomatoes
1 litre of beef stock
1 cup of light thickened cream
½ cup of packed basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice the white portion of a large leek thinly and chop garlic cloves. Put both into a deep frypan with a ¼ cup of olive oil and cook until they soften.
2. Add stock and simmer. Add tinned tomatoes and stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for 60 minutes.
3. Allow soup to cool slightly then puree with hand wiz until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish: Serve soup in and top each bowl with a dessertspoon of basil cream and a parmesan chip.
Separately, place basil leaves in hand wiz and chop.
Add 1 cup of cream and blend until smooth. (For extra colour/stronger basil flavour, add more leaves to taste).
Place small mounds of grated parmesan on a tray lined with baking paper.
Top the parmesan mounds with some fresh cracked black pepper and put in the oven until the cheese melts and they become crisp.
Allow to cool before peeling away from the paper.
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