My friendships are the foundation of my life. Having come from an enormous family ~ well, my immediate family is small (and I cherish them so!) but coming from a large extended family where I have over a hundred first cousins, for me, blood is not always thicker than water.

I moved out of home and away from my family over a decade ago (I just felt a new wrinkle burrow itself into my forehead) and though I’m ever so slightly obsessively-compulsively-fiercely independent, my friends are my life source; they’ve been with me through the lowest of lows and highest of highs. We’ve laughed and cried ~ thankfully more laughs than cries ~ and while it’s been difficult with us all scattered across the globe, I’ve got most of my girlfriends with me in London right now, a rarity I know, and believe me when I say I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Last night was one of the most special nights of my life. From the outside, it wasn’t any different to an ordinary dinner party, but after work yesterday saw me skadoodling down to London Bridge to have dinner with Loreen, Mags and Melissa, three of my very closest girls. Sounds normal, but you see, we haven’t all been together in Over. TEN. Years.

And what made it even more special? Mags was cooking. Mel was baking. Loreen provided the house. And I did sweet f*** all 🙂 In fact, I even have leftovers for lunch today so really, last night was goddamn special.

Gathered in Loreen’s kitchen, which by the way is stunning and gorgeous and packed full of Le Creuset items and she doesn’t even cook but it’s ok because her husband cooks for her – OMGLUCKYINEEDTOTAKEABREATH – we (I mean Mags) cooked up a little storm while we chatted and laughed and reminisced about good times and gossiped about everyone we’ve ever known, because isn’t that what girls do? Yes, yes it is.

Mags was already baking some pumpkin when I arrived, and the fragrance of roast pumpkin is just one of those little pleasures of life. The pumpkin was going to become a spicy pumpkin soup, she told me, with garlic and onions and chilli, which are only like my three favourite things ever! Happy catty.

The soup was delicious. Like seriously.  A rich blend of pumpkin and chicken stock and the chilli! An ever so tiny kick to wake your taste buds. I don’t think Mags has ever cooked for me before (we normally rendezvous at mine where I’m responsible for the kitchen assault) but this! I could totally get used to this 🙂

For our main, Mags made lemon and mustard crumbed chicken with fresh bread crumbs and all that. Smothered in mustard and covered in crunchy bread crumbs, I didn’t think the dish could get better until she doused the lot with a lemon and butter concoction which I’m pretty sure I would drink on the spot, but luckily for all involved, I was banished from the kitchen last night.

Baked to a scrumptious golden brown, Mags served the chicken on a bed of salad ~ organic tomatoes, peppers and rocket from Borough Market, dressed with balsamic and mustard. Nommy nom nom.

Dessert was the responsibility of little Melissa (she’s littler than I am, which apparently is possible) and she had a lemon cake which she’d prepared earlier, the little do-gooder. It was only a small lemon cake and Mel insisted on telling us that it was because “the tin, the cake tin, it was meant for Victorian sponge. Which is small. And you can do three layers. You got that people? It’s small not because I’m retarded but because I used a Victorian sponge tin. It’s small, it’s meant to be small. So you can do three layers.”

Ok, so it’s not funny to y’all but we absolutely pissed ourselves. We’re weird like that.

Anyway so the lemon cake was pretty fricking awesome, but she still had to make the frosting. She made too much but Loreen and I (who both had no part in the food-making last night but y’know we’re still experts) insisted that it was fine to put on the cake. Well, I think we drowned it a little bit. Just a tiny bit. Which makes it all the yum, in my humble opinion!

Being a school night and being small and Asian and generally lacking in alcohol tolerance (yes, we as a race are just alcoholically challenged) we didn’t even drink but really, the amount of laughter coming from us would have led any outsider to believe we were pissed off our nuts. Or high. Whatever works.

Last night was stupendously fun. But there was a gaping hole where a very special someone should have been. My friend Babs, who’s back in Sydney was sorely missed but it’s ok, Mags and Babs are twins so it was kinda sorta like she was there anyway 😉

But seriously, I love my girls and Babs is coming over in September this year which means that they will all be here for my birthday! It’s gonna be a special one.


spicy pumpkin soup
1 butternut squash pumpkin, cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 red chilli, chopped finely
500mL chicken stock
olive oil, mixed herbs and dash of salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F.
  2. Spread pumpkin across roasting tray. Mix through with olive oil, mixed herbs, salt and pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. Fry onion, garlic and chilli in a large pot for a few minutes until browned.
  4. Add pumpkin and chicken stock and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until pumpkin is soft.
  5. Remove from pot and blend in a blender. Serve hot.
Serves 4 as a starter.
lemon and mustard crumbed chicken
4 pieces of chicken breast or thigh
bread crumbs
hot English mustard
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 melted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F.
  2. Spread bread crumbs on a plate, or if making bread crumbs yourself, blend some day old bread to create consistent but still crunchy bread crumbs.
  3. Spread one side of the chicken with mustard (the amount of mustard depends on how much you like it, but the flavour does soak into the chicken so it’s not too hot). Lay the mustard side down on the breadcrumbs and spread the other side with mustard. Flip over and ensure both sides are covered. Place in a baking tray. Repeat for all four pieces of chicken.
  4. In a cup mix the lemon juice, boiling water and melted butter. Dribble this mixture all over the chicken and bake in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.
  5. Serve on a bed of salad – tomato, peppers, rocket in a mustard/balsamic dressing.
Serves 4.

17 Thoughts on “happiness is: spicy pumpkin soup, crumbed chicken and a round of good friends

  1. Melissa on May 7, 2010 at 12:51 pm said:

    Awww… what a beautiful post. I had a wonderful time with you girlies too and felt all warm and fuzzy the whole way home 🙂
    No but seriously, the cake was meant to be small cos I used tin specifically for a Victorian Sponge cake.. and it has to be small cos there are usually a few layers in a Victorian Sponge..ok?!?! It was MEANT TO BE SMALL!!!!! 🙂 xxx

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  3. Loreen on May 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm said:

    Hey… was just wondering… from what period is that sponge cake from??

  4. Loreen, I think it might be Victorian. What do you think?

  5. jenny on May 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm said:

    Aww what a nice story about you and you’re friends! It’s nice to have your girlfriends around no matter how old you are. And the soup looks yummy, I love pumpkin soup. thanks for posting the recipes too!

  6. Wow – you sound like the catty that got the cream 😉 Sounds like a wonderful night. There’s nothing like gathering in the kitchen with the important people in your life. A really special occasion.

  7. jenny: It’s definitely nice having girlfriends around no matter what… guys don’t seem to get it, but yes, it’s priceless. The recipes are great aren’t they? I’m going to make them too 🙂

    The Grubworm: I totally got the cream! Did nothing and had leftovers for lunch today and also leftover cake at home! Scored 😀

  8. Such a sweet post – managed to convey all that love and happiness without descending into mawkish ooze (ahem, me, cough)…Just one question though, how many layers can be made in the aforesaid great but small tin? ^^

  9. i sooo understand the part of not needing alcohol to laughed THAT much when you are with your girlfriends. hehehehehe. it happens all the time ;))

  10. Sasa: LOL well the tins are small but um, they usually come in a set of three so you can make three layers LOL. I cannot believe you asked that, I have to tell my friend Mel 😀

    ashiebee: I know right? No better high than good friends and lots of reminiscing!!

  11. Aww you can really tell how much your friends mean to you! And I’m the same, life without friends would be bleak!

  12. I love spicy pumpkin soup as well – I think it is a real Australian recipe!

  13. Lorraine: Life without friends is bleak. Life without friends and food is disastrous! Better to have both 🙂

    Gourmet Chick: is it Australian? Boy are we good with our food or what 😉

  14. Do you remember Thai pumpkin soup from the 90s or was that just NZ?

  15. That soup is the perfect recipe for me to break in my food processor. I love me some pumpkin…and garlic…and chili.

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