to love and to feed them



It has occurred to me that when it comes to raising children, nothing can actually prepare you for each new season.

I don’t like this.

If at all possible, I would prefer 12 months notice on All Issues That Will Arise with each of my children. Then I could plan, research, study, hold focus groups and interrogate All Those Who Have Gone Before and demand their wisdom and insights. I could search for the people who have experienced the exact same thing that my kids will and ask them “What do I do?” Continue reading “to love and to feed them”

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

by Emma Crauford

Our eldest son recently had a birthday and being a summer baby, he chose to celebrate with some close mates coming over for a pool party.

‘Pool party’ is probably stretching it. In reality, it was some ‘cool pre-teens’ swimming all afternoon, and every now and then jumping out of the water to eat or drink something.

When it came to the birthday cake, this Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake was requested. Continue reading “Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice”

Recipes for a crowd: Panzanella Salad

Recipes For A Crowd is a new category on Esther & Friends.  These are tried and true crowd-pleasers that look great on a platter and, most importantly, don’t stress out the host.  Who better to kick this off than our resident foodie, Emma Crauford.   For our lovely friends in Europe and the US, we will try to incorporate some winter-style recipes in coming weeks.  Forgive us our Antipodean summer Christmas and our need for BBQ’s and salads at this time of year… must seem very odd!    Bon Appetit!



This is the first of a few posts I am going to dedicate to the Christmas season. Whether you need inspiration for a relaxed summer BBQ with friends or a formal Christmas gathering, over the next few weeks I will post some simple and achievable recipes suitable for those occasions. I can’t wait to hear if any of them make it to your menu!


There are many reasons why this is one of my favourite salads.

Firstly, it’s from Tuscany, Italy. A place I dream of visiting one day.  I long to soak up the history, food and culture. I dream of spending a day in an Italian mumma’s kitchen, learning all that I can. I dream of olive groves, foraging for herbs and eating lots and lots of cheese!

The Italians are well known for being wise with their food and never wasting a thing. This salad was born as a way of using up stale bread. Pure genuis, to combine stale bread with some of summers best produce and finest herbs.

Secondly, it is colourful and so pretty on a big white platter. The red, green and white theme make it a perfect Aussie Christmas salad, especially when tomatoes are at their best and full of flavour.

Thirdly, it’s SIMPLE. A little chopping, a little toasting and a quick dressing, this salad is perfect to add to your Christmas menu, which like me, you are probably trying to keep as simple, yet as tasty, as possible.

My version of the Panzanella Salad is based on one I read about in the Quick Smart Cook recipe book, from the ABC delicious magazine.

Panzanella Salad

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Total Time: 28m
  • Serves: 6


  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, torn into small chunks
  • 50 milliliters extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for the sourdough)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, to give 3/4 cup (plus extra whole leaves for garnish)
  • 600 grams cherry tomatoes, halved (look out for yellow, orange and green tomatoes to make the salad more colourful)
  • 1 large lebanese cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, halved (more if you like olives!)
  • 150 grams fresh buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini, torn into chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Drizzle the torn bread chunks in some olive oil, season with salt and place in a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden and crispy. Set aside.
  4. Combine 50ml olive oil, red wine vinegar and finely chopped basil leaves in a jar with a lid and shake to combine.
  5. Place cut tomatoes, olives, cucumber, toasted bread and mozzarella in a large bowl and pour the dressing over. Mix well with your hands.
  6. Place on a serving platter and garnish with whole fresh basil leaves.


Emma is from Sydney, Australia, where she is raising 3 beautiful boys alongside her husband.  Her happy place is her kitchen, and is her blog about her everyday simple food, her faith and her family.