Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Day's Worth of Blogging

What a marvellous Sunday. Hours at the computer taking a peek into other bloggers' lives. Recipes, stories, photos, humour ~ the publishing industry MUST be suffering. Bloggers are doing it for themselves. Although I did find a reference to Digital Dish today, and I'm tempted to buy it.

So, for me the ideal food blog:

  • has no on site advertising

  • has clear, colour correct photos of dishes that can be prepared and enjoyed by a mere mortal, who may not have done a Cordon Bleu course

  • gives me an insight on what it means to cook and eat in the likes of Norway, Ireland, Argentina, Mexico, Singapore, KL, the Philippines...I could go on

  • gives links to the Bloggers fave cookbooks

  • gives links to other food blogs

  • has a sense of humour and isn't afraid to admit culinary failure

  • These photos were taken by the Vegetarian Egg Hating Coeliac at the 2005 'Art of Flowers' held at Government House, Sydney and are copyrighted.

    Am completely jealous of the Europeans and the Canadians and their postal blogging, and have suggested to Augustus Gloop at Grab Your Fork that maybe us Aussies could try and set one up with NZ (if customs and quarantine allows). If all else fails, maybe we could implement a regional Australian one.

    Oh, and I think we're having take out pizza tonight.

    Can't tell you much because we're still eating leftovers.

    We did make a big hole in the leftover curries last night. And it's an ideal soup day today, so that's nearly gone too.

    I've spent the day rattling round other people's food blogs. It's just wonderful. I did find this . Not on a food blog site but well worth visiting. It has sparked off a bit of negative comment from visitors, but I've seen almost just as bad from native English speakers, trust me.

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    Curries all round.

    Thursday night, S.O. made the Olive and Artichoke Pasta. Good for the veg coeliac, as we can cook a portion of gluten free pasta for her.

    Last evening, it was curries, curries and more curries. Our friends D&J joined us. It's become a bit of a tradition that we always have curries with them. Lamb Rogan Jhosh, Egg, Panch Pora spuds and J made a different variety of her great dhal. Lots of parathas to soak up the juices. Delicious. S.O. didn't even make too much of a mess. Popped up to Maya sweets to grab some Gulab Jamun (or Gollum Jabores as S.O. calls them) for dessert. Most people find them a little sweet, but we love them.

    We now have a fridge brimming with leftovers, in all differing shades of brown. So it's curry for us again tonight. We both have new software to play with, so it'll be computers in separate rooms for us this evening.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    The Silly Yak is visiting...

    Yes, the vegetarian, egg hating coeliac is in town. We'll be having the pumpkin and smoked chook risotto this evening, but with Persian Fetta instead of chook. (Well, we might have chook and cheese if it's not TOOO much)

    Chish & Fips

    When we're not cooking in this house, S.O. is having flying lessons or watching motor sport. I can be found in my little nook making jewellery.

    I have just sold one of these little fishy necklaces to a friend of a friend for her daughter. I'm thrilled. I put magnetised clasps on them so little hands can do them up themselves. I'm really pleased the kids like them.

    I sell them on eBay from time to time, so let me know if you're interested. They're beautiful glass fish ~ each one has its own expression ~ combined with African and Czech seed beads. I also make necklaces for the big girls using 19th Century African trade beads, swarowski crystal and little gems of one offs that I find around the place.

    I Will Spare You the Photos...

    of S.O.'s dinner preparation last evening. I mean, for God's sake, the man made SOUP. The kitchen looked like something has been boned, fileted, sauted, chopped, whizzed, marinated, baked, fried and steamed. It's a one pot dish for crying out loud.

    Admittedly he made pesto, but really.

    These are his hands. Beware of letting him in your kitchen.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Mother's Choice

    Even the pooches should eat well. And although I think dog walkers/nannies/therapists are taking things a bit too far, I have been known to make the dogs their dinner, only in winter mind. I have even been known to have a very small bowl of it myself for lunch on day of cooking.

    There'll be no photo, because it'll look like either the Smoked Chicken Pasta or the Hock and Lentil soup. Ingredients can vary according to your dogs' predilections, but this is a great start:

    1 kilo mince ~ pork, veal, beef, chicken, mixture of, whatever you think is right.
    1 x 500 gram pack frozen veg. (please, no corn, it goes straight through them like little jewels)
    250-500 g pasta (choose your shape. Short and square is best. Linguine, Fettucine and Spaghetti make a hell of a mess)
    kidney/cannelini/borlotti beans ~ one 400 g tin drained
    garlic ~ for their immune system, a couple of cloves
    parsley ~ because there's always a wee bit left over in the fridge
    mint (fresh or dried) ~ for their breath
    a splash of soy
    1 litre stock ~ real or imagined (you know what I mean, packet, fresh, dried, whatever)

    Fry off the garlic in olive oil. Add mince, fry until browned. Open frozen veg packet with teeth and put that in too. Stir it about a bit until the mince is browned. Add stock. Bring to boil. When you remember, put in beans, parsley, mint and soy.

    Simmer for about 20 mins.

    They LOVE it. And you can tell by their poop for the next few days it's doing them good. Ideal for freezing, but will last 3-4 days in fridge.

    On Fridays, give them a treat, put it in a takeaway container.

    It's Soup Time!

    Last night, S.O, made a Smoked Chicken & Lemon Pasta from a recipe in the Saturday paper. Whilst it was okay, we both agree, it's probably not going to become a staple. We think it was all a bit too beige really.

    On the other hand...

    For lovers of Pea & Ham Soup, I urge you to try this. It has now replaced the aforementiod P&H as our all time favourite in this genre. It's from Ian Parmenter, and I tell you, once you try it there's no going back. Maybe it's the celeriac. Myself, I don't need the pesto. Click here for Hock & Red Lentil Soup

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Lonely Heart's Club

    Vacant powerpoint with only Ilve Stove for company seeks life companion for a threesome. Must have wire whip and burnished C-dough hook. Wanted for long romantic evenings making bread and weekend sponges. Pasta and Ice cream attachments not necessary, but an advantage. Colour no barrier to fulfillng and long lasting relationship.

    If Kitchenaid say there's 'virtually endless possibilities' I'm willing to try too.

    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    We're having a quiet one.

    We have eaten nothing but take away and out this week. Shocking, but good.

    Tuesday -- fish and chips from our local. Nothing fancy, but good grilled fish and salad (and chips of course)

    Wednesday -- the Maya, our fantastic local Dhaba house. Full of dosas all all varieties, thali plates, uttapam and the like. Just delicious, and oooh, as much as $12.00 for dinner. Complete with Bollywood movies on plasma screens dotted around the place.

    Thursday -- our favourite Thai takeaway from Thai Thai. If you ask nicely they make a fantastic Century Egg Thai salad which I adore. Black gelatinous eggs, very rich, amongst all those wonderful fresh sourish Thai salad tastes. It's my idea of comfort food.

    I started to cook a hock from a recipe found in my new Bones book, but it was a bit of disappointment really. Just too much going on. Flavours fighting with each other. The dogs loved it though with our left over Thai Jungle noodles. Although I think it turned our a little rich for Fly's blood.

    She was feeling a bit poorly today.

    Last night, dinner with friends at the Wah Wah lounge. If you can't pop down to the Melbourne Wine Room at the George Hotel for one of Karen Martini's steaks, Wah Wah's the next best thing. They serve it with a whole caramelised balsamic onion, and more chips. In summer they do a marvellous dense chocolate mousse served with honeycomb and cherry compote. The cherries are gone for the year, and the raspberry substitute doesn't quite do it for me, but the mousse/honeycomb combo is fabulous.

    I have been reading 'Flatbreads and Flavors' this arvo, a fascinating read. It's also got plenty of recipes for things to have with the flatbread including a great fresh sounding South Indian shrimp, tomato and &coconut milk curry. Sounds like us tonight. Some paratha's from Shalimar, our favourite Indian grocer, and we'll be apples. S.O. has gone hunting & gathering for ingredients.

    I also have Alford and Duguid's 'Seductions of Rice' which I now feel compelled to sit down with this evening. I love the way one cookbook can lead you to another, and another, and another....

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    But I haven't bought a cook book for a week.

    In fact I'm waiting for three to arrive from a dedicated cookbook store on ebay, cookbookjj : A vast collection of cookbooks, from the academic to the junior league.

    1. the ART OF CHARCUTERIE Jane Grigson SAUSAGE Pates

    And if you're going to buy one, may as well save on the postage and buy three. So the other two:

    2. FLATBREADS & FLAVORS Jeffrey Alford Naomi Duguid

    3. PICKLED 2003 Lucy Norris PRESERVING

    All at a great price.

    And given I needed a new book now, now, now went into our favourite bookshop in town and came away with:

    1. Tarts with Tops On, Tamsin Day-Lewis's book of pies

    2. Italy Sea to Sky, Ursula Ferrigno

    3. Eating Up Italy: Voyages on a Vespa, Mattew Fort.

    Started reading Eating Up Italy on the way home on the bus. A journey from South to North. So far, marvellous. Tamsin's Pies are just great. I was particularly comforted by the Cornish Pastie recipe, and the Potato and Cheddar Pie -- please use either Quicke's Cheddar from Devon, or I reckon Heidi Gruyere would be fantastic.

    And thanks due to Cucina Rebecca's posting about her find -- the The Dumpling-ator I am now the proud owner of one of those as well. And given the two very substandard gyoza I had in Market City today, I'm looking forward to making my own.

    Of course I also had to take the opportunity whilst in Chinatown to buy more pork -- a piece of belly and a piece of shoulder. And there's a hock being brined in the fridge as we speak. Obviously it's Good Pig Week.

    After rubbing the hock, and making the Court Bouillon, and sinking a bottle of red with my friend Carol (complete with a piece of Jindi Triple Creme and my Pate, I could just squeeze in a pizza from Red Star Pizza. I tend to go for the simple ones, but always order double mushrooms, as S.O. isn't a big mushroom fan, so I get my dose of folic acid without him.

    The vegetarian coeliac who doesn't like eggs arrives tomorrow. Yipee! I have missed her. But she really will have a coniption at the sight of that hock (avec trotter) lurking in the fridge.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    I am chastened, exhilarated & excited

    Being new to this whole blog business I sat down today to some others -- I had no idea there was this marvellous community to which I now feel I can below. I found fantastic Australian food blogs CucinaRebecca, Grab Your Fork, Berry Simple and some fabulous offshore ones --Travelers Lunchbox and Chocolate & Zucchini. What hits me is this:

    1. I really have to raise the standard of my photos
    2. I'd love to go out hunting and gathering with these people
    3. These girls can really spell. ( I have not yet spotted a spelling gaffe)
    4. Must improve HTML skills and get laptop and wireless broadband so I can read blogs in backyard Autumn sunshine whenever the mood takes me, AND learn to create fancy sidebars.

    It's 13% fat free...

    The Gympie Farm Butter is 87 percent fat. No wonder it's delicious.

    Easter Saturday

    ...was a trip to the Orange Grove Market. Highlights: Gympie Farm butter, ohmegod. Thick and yellow. And one of their beautiful Guersey cow bries.

    And I had an overwhelming desire to buy a stockpot, I think it's because of my new cookbook - Bone. (More about that later)

    Then after a quick trip for animal flea product, we really needed to call into Bitton to replenish our Olive Tapenade stock. We have been known to take this on holidays as our only staple. And while we were there it seemed imperative to grab a jar of Strawberry and Vanilla Jam as well. I mean it's steamed pudding weather very shortly. (Another use for the stockpot)

    This stuff is sublime. S.O. uses it in a fantastic recipe for

    Spaghetti with Olives and Artichokes

    Preserved Artichoke Hearts in oil, cut in half and gently fried until softly caramelised in a tablespoon or so of their own oil. Toss in a couple of teaspoons of salted rinsed capers.

    Cook spaghetti. Stir through the Olive Tapenade. Toss in a good handful of Parmesan and tip in the Artichokes and Capers and distribute evenly through the pasta.

    Visit Bitton's website or better still visit his shop in Alexandria in Sydney, and treat yourself to breakfast.

    M&M for dinner, who, like our Friday night guests S&P are marvellously appreciative eaters. S.O. made lasagne, and then I cut up some figs, added a drizzle of sticky wine and some brown sugar, a few pieces of poached quince and threw it in the oven for 20 minutes.

    Honestly, CSIRO Wellbeing Diet, here we come. We have really overindulged this Easter.

    And our fine guests on Friday, left a Haigh's Easter Eggs. Lordie. Sue & Pete (their real names) are also fans of Nigel's. I hope we'll be seeing more of them.

    That said, I'm make Pate this afternoon. A recipe of Mr Slater's so it's bound to be good.

    Our neighbour Rach calls us Mr & Mrs Porky Sleepy. I hope it's a term of affection!

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Mea Culpa

    I am terribly remiss. My blog is all owed to Nigel Slater's latest book Kitchen Diaries. I've been an avid fan of Nigel's for some years. Okay, I flirt with Jamie and would contemplate turning for Nigella, but Nigel's the one. If there was one book -- not just cookbook, but any book -- I could take somewhere it'd be his. Drama, pathos, irony and a love affair with food. Not a romantic, flippant love affair, but a long lasting relationship.

    And he's a cute as hell.

    Kitchen Diaries is Nigel's year of eating and we like the same sort of food.

    My apologies to Nigel and his publishers for not attributing my own blog to his cooking. Visit Nigel's Website and you can sign up for his newsletter.

    Or please, I implore you, proceed directly to and buy a copy...

    We're All Going to Hell

    I made the mistake of telling S.O.'s mother that we were having oxtail tonight. But it's Friday! she screeched. In fact, it's Good Friday, but don't let that stand in the way of a good bit of gelatinous marrow I say. She is horrified at us.

    And yes, we're having S.O.'s marvellous Oxtail Stew. A family tradition in this house since the advent of Excellent Thursay (the day before Good Friday). We're a day out of whack, but we'll survive.

    I was very keen to make a steamed pudding for sweets, but it's just not cold enough. So I think it'll be a quince and/or fig tart with a bit of homemade mango ice cream.

    I've noticed that the photos of all our dinners tend to look the same -- browned, sticky, meaty deliciousness -- I suppose they are.

    We're off to Orange Grove organic market at Leichhardt tomorrow with Carol (it is her real name) to hunt and gather for what to have tomorrow. I'd be happy to do a rerun of the Tagine. He wants to do something else. Corned Beef perhaps.

    Tuesday, Peta , the vegetarian coelic who doesn't like eggs (talk about make it difficult) is back for a few days. Am very excited. I do have some of her gluten free flour in the freezer, so we can always do the gnocchi. And she's a big fan of haloumi with anything.

    He wants to serve couscous with the oxtail. I am not yet convinced, but could be, with the right flavourings.

    Oh, and tomorrow I want to make pate with the organic goose and duck livers which were a gift at Christmas from Constance McGregor (Don't know if it's her real name or not)

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    The Rolling Stones

    S.O. has gone to the Stones concert, so I took the opportunity to mash a spud, fry the black pudding and scoff.

    The Tagine

    No photos of this one. It went too fast.

    Another of our favourite vendors is Ian Hemphill of Herbie's Spices.

    Ian stocks the most flavoursome herbs and spices you've ever tasted. I'm not a packet girl generally, but he's done the work for you with the best ingredients you can find anywhere in the world.

    He will mail order, although I do think he's a little pricey on that.

    Another easy one:

    Lamb Shank & Quince/Apricot Tagine

    Melt about 50g of butter in a heavy casserole,
    add 4 tablespoons of his Ras El Hanout,

    Cook for a minute. (The smell is unbelievable)

    Put in 4 lamb shanks and coat with the spices and butter, don't brown, just coat.

    Add some stock to cover. And a tablespoon or so of honey, and a third of a bunch of coriander leaves, and half a cinnamon stick.

    Put on your kaftan and embroidered slippers and pack the hookah.

    Leave it for a couple of hours on the stove top until the meat is falling off the bone.

    Add about half a poached quince, if you happen to have one. Or maybe even some dried apricots, about half an hour before serving.

    Add the rest of the coriander leaves.

    Serve with a buttery couscous.

    I did a Herbie's mail order today and have some gorgeous Quatre Epice for Pate making, which I plan to do over Easter. We have both Goose and Duck livers. (Not foie gras. I draw the line at that).

    Our firends M&M are coming for Easter Saturday tea and they love their tucker. Perhaps the Orange Grove Market on Saturday morning is the go.

    I have 'The Biggest Loser' on the TV in the background. It might have to be the next blog the way we're going.

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    If It Ain't Broke...

    We don't need to fix it. Satdee Night. The chook, more of the onions (smaller this time), green beans.

    Nigel Slater's Dressing for the beans (by way of Nigella Lawson):

    Tablespoon Yellow miso
    mixed with
    coupla tablespoons hot water,
    1 teaspooon rice vinegar
    blip of sesame oil
    (and I added a teaspoon of honey)

    And then

    we're gonna roll some fresh figs in sugar, maybe some cinnamon, and throw them in the oven til there's caramel.

    We tried to entice our offal eating friends over for breakfast tomorrow -- liver, black pud -- from Eumundi -- eggs, maybe the odd other sausage if there's not enough -- but no takers. Another time.

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    The Spiced Peaches

    This one's for Peta (not her real name as you know). It's a recipe from the net -- url forgotten -- but it was the idea of the crystallised ginger that got my interest. And I had to find something to do with the cinnamon sticks and tea that aforementioned Peta bequeathed to us when she moved out of town.

    Spiced Peaches

    8 to 14 medium size peaches
    Whole cloves
    1 cup white vinegar
    1 lb. white sugar
    Crystallized ginger
    Cinnamon sticks
    Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil on the stove, put the peaches in the boiling water for about a minute. Remove them and immediately place them in an ice bath. Remove from the cold water bath and remove the peeling. Take about 1 to 3 whole cloves and insert them into the peach.
    In a saucepan on the stove bring to rapid boil 1 cup of white vinegar and l pound of sugar, crystallized ginger and 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks to taste. Place the peaches into this solution and boil on a very slow boil and rotate them with a spoon and occasionally pour the hot mixture over the peaches. Boil for about 20 minutes. Use the end of a sharp knife to see if they are soft, but you do not want them too soggy because they will not look good in the jars. Place the peaches into clean sterilized quart jars and pack them fairly tight. Spoon the solution over the peaches up to about a quarter of an inch from the top. Add the cinnamon sticks and crystallized ginger. Wipe off the rim of the jar and then seal. Store in a cool and dry place.

    Mm-mm (is that how you spell it?)

    People, remember this name -- the Eumundi Smokehouse (402 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill). We saw 4 revolutions of New Canterbury Rd and a couple of Old Canterbury Rd, but my goodness it was worth it in the end. David Kasmaroski's smokehouse is a thing made in heaven.

    S.O., who normally reserves a sharp intake of breath for a pretty plane -- the Catalina usually -- was intaking sharply all over the shop.

    Is this a man who loves what he does, or what. When we got there, a note on the door -- Closed -- oh me god, no, because we can smell it.

    I rang the number of the shop from the footpath, bleating and wailing, and the door magically opened.

    David's a generous soul -- "Taste it" -- so after the Hunter's Sausage, the Chourico, the Boudin Noir, it was on. What to buy. Of course, I always buy like I'll never get back there, so...

    Pork and Guiness Sausages
    Black Pudding
    Boudin Noir
    Italian Fennel Sausages
    Gypsy Ham...

    and a couple of gift snags we came away incredibly excited. And under $30.00.

    He HAS to do a cookbook.

    Meanwhile, we have Quinces. The last time I did Flo Beer's Pickled Quinces was five years ago, and we're nearly out. So time again.

    Those, and Seville Orange Marmelade are my winter tasks.

    Since last posting, we had some marvellous steak from the AC Butchery on Tuesday.

    Wednesay was S.O.'s fantasic pork & veal meatballs and spaghetti.

    Thursday - Risotto again. (Some serious dental work had gone on for Yours Truly, so I needed something soft)

    My friend Peta, (not her real name) has just reminded me that the Pumpkin & Smoked Chook Risotto got its Chookness from the smoked chicken breasts we used to buy at the Fox markets. And guess what -- they were Eumundi's.

    As I write this, we have just Hoovered duck sausages, roast sweet potato with cumin&maple syrup, and peas. Bloody delicious. AH, the weekend. And two short weeks coming up.

    He's having a flying lesson and I'm pickling quinces. And the humidity is only 27%. It doesn't get much better than that.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Some context

    While you'll never see either me or S.O. you are welcome to view our doggies (affectionately known as the Wookies).

    Finally it's Autumn

    The great sleeping weather has arrived.

    Bacon & Eggs without guilt on the weekend. And there always seems to be a bit more time. Perhaps it's because the days/nights become thirds rather than halves. The morning, the afternoon and the evening. And while I think we should be on daylight saving permanently, it's a bit like another public holiday when those clocks go back.

    S.O. is buying his big pieces of bacon again. Nearly time for them to be hung on the butcher's hook in the kitchen, but not quite yet. He makes a damn fine B&E, does S.O. and manages to have it all hot at the same time. However, I do think his bread needs work. He does favour the really crappy white spongy ooky stuff.

    Saturday night with Wibby and Fairy (not their real names) who have announced their forthcoming marriage. Marvellous.

    Sunday was the Breakfast of Champions. I then proceeded to sit on my butt reading Nigel Slater's 'Kitchen Diaries', the inspiration for this blog... In which I found the Onions Baked with Parmesan & Cream. Goes like this:

    However many onions you need, boil them for about 25 minutes until tender.

    Slice from root to tip. Put in baking tray on about 180 degrees with 300 ml cream, and some parmesan. I also put in thyme sprigs and a little big of nutmeg. DEEElicious. Even S.O. couldn't believe he was hoe-ing into so much onion.

    And I tell you, you can just feel that they're preparing you for the influenza onslaught ahead.