I did not eat this.

I did not eat this because for the past six weeks I have been the greatest convert to my slow/low carb regime. This time I wasn’t eating like this just because it made me feel better and gave me a bit more energy ( let’s be honest, with a hungry 13 week old baby in the house and a book due, there hasn’t been that much sleep going on around here). I also did it because for the first time, in a long time, I had some podge to move.

I’d forgotten what it was like to not have your jeans fit and to have it take 20 minutes to find an outfit that you can squeeze around your middle. It’s not that much fun.

In my quest to get my milk back, I got a bit squishy. To be precise, I got 5 kg squishier than I was before. To put it in context, I got to be as heavy as I was when I was 35 weeks pregnant and harbouring something the size of a cabbage in my middle. And at the same time as this happened, I was staring down having portraits taken for the new book, which is mainly about the merits of leading a lean life.

It was an uncomfortable combination. So I cut the big four. I cut rice, noodles, potatoes and bread for six weeks.  It wasn’t that tough. I kept my cravings for sweets at a minimum. I did a little bit of running  and a few hand weights while baby Will batted at his mobile. And I shifted 4.5 kg. Last Tuesday I pulled on my jeans again. And last Wednesday at 8 am while Will once again batted at his mobile, I had my photo taken. And I look like me. A slightly curvier me than the one pre-baby, but once again I properly looked like Tori.

So this open faced sandwich was not eaten by me. It was eaten by my mum, who very kindly came to keep an eye on Will while I dashed into the ABC last Tuesday. It was a busy week.

In amongst the days of shooting the new book, I spent a few hours spent recording some of the stories from ‘Suitcase’ for First Bite; Radio National’s food program. The first of which aired on Saturday (there will be one each week for the next six weeks). If you want to hear me talking about Icelandic hotdogs in overenthusiastic tones, you can listen here.

And while you can take a baby along to a food shoot (sort of)- it’s not quite so practical to have a chirping little fellow next to you while you’re in a recording studio.

So to thank her for coming up from the country to take care of him, I left her some lunch. In the fridge I  had a smoked trout left over from the first week of shooting the book. I had cottage cheese and apple cider vinegar. I had mint leaves, almonds and some green leaves and a fennel. Being neglected in the freezer were some slices of Sonoma’s soy and linseed sourdough. And so a great sandwich was born (because really, a tartine is still a sandwich, even if it’s put on some airs). It boasts the same trilling flavours as a ‘trout almandine’, without the burden of burnt butter. It’s slightly nordic, both in its construction (if any part of the world knows how to make an open faced sandwich, it’s there) and in the flavours of the whipped curds. Cottage cheese on its own can be a sad product; reminiscent of lumpen thighs and restrictive diets. But when whizzed together with a splash of apple cider vinegar it becomes smooth and sprightly- an excellent substitution for mayonnaise or butter – and just the thing to help meld some leaves and protein to bread.

The fennel provides an aniseed tang to contrast with the smokiness of the fish. The mint adds brightness. And the almonds add some necessary crunch.

The flavours would also work just as well as a salad- but my mum is a fan of a sandwich.

And who can blame her?  (Now that my jeans fit again, I think you can guess what I’ll be having for lunch.)

 Smoked Trout Tartine

Serves 1

Shopping/foraging

2 slices of sourdough bread
1 1/2 tbsp of cottage cheese
1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
1/3 of a smoked trout, skin and bones removed and flaked
1 handful of almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 handful of baby spinach leaves
1/4 of a small fennel, shaved
8 mint leaves, cut into ribbons
Salt and pepper

Here’s how we roll

1)  Lightly toast the bread.

2) Use a stick blender or small food processor to whizz together the cottage cheese and apple cider vinegar until smooth.

3)  Spread the whipped curds across the bread. Top with the baby spinach and shaved fennel, then the smoked trout, almonds and ribbons of mint. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.