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beef cheeks

Yes truffles are expensive but, you know what’s cheap, gravel. You can buy a bunch of that shit for much $s. And while I’m at it, who (over 6) doesn’t try something because they think they won’t like.

Beef cheeks were the first thing up. Courtesy of Warren Pensini’s Blackwood Valley Beef - pasture-raised cows that feed in the slowly rotational pattern of shifting grazing areas. Lovingly raised, easily cooked. Pretty much your standard braise.

  1. Trim the cheeks of excess fat and skin, season well, and brown in a casserole dish.
  2. Soften the mirepoix – chunky cuts of leek, celery, onion and carrot.
  3. Return the beef to the mirepoix. 
  4. Add whatever you don’t want to drink out of a bottle of dry red at 10am in the morning. A cup of homemade chicken stock and top up with water.
  5. Add a few bay leaves and I shaved in some Willy’s pure cacao.
  6. Bring to a boil. Scrape off any scum on the surface, cover with baking paper, place the lid on top, and pop in a 110C oven all day.

You’ll know when it’s done because the meat will have turned from tough muscle (when it’s browning, it smells a bit of offal) to beautiful forky-flakey bits of meat.

Keep your cheeks warm. Strain the cooking liquor and reduce down to taste. Add some chopped truffle when it’s done and stir through.

Serve with very creamy made-with-milk polenta with some truffle mixed through. Shave some truffle on top.

http://italianfood.about.com/od/cheesedishes/r/blr0867.htm

http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/recipes/recipe-search/fare-exchange/2013/4/hazelnut-mousse-with-honeycomb-and-chocolate/

 

truffle

pork fillet

 

cavello negro

Stuffed Pork Loin

pork filletThey are tiny little things considering they come from a whole pig. I actually think I managed to bags these first over a seen on TV chef from the night before. They’re local Killarra Open Range Pork and like Blackwood Valley Beef, are lovingly raised in Boyup Brook before being dispatched. Stretched out to twelve the two loins would make a ‘taste’ entree and did that perfectly.

Rather than the traditional rolled/stuffed, I forgot my string and had to improvise. A needle and thread was available so it became a a long wound, stuffed with tasty things, and then stitched up. I don;t know if there are any medical procedures that actually require all of this but you can improvise in the field.

  1. Slice along a pork loin making sure you don’t cut through and don’t cut through to either end. This will make a long pocket.
  2. Stuff the pocket with a mix of finely chopped roasted hazelnuts, a little garlic, soft goats cheese, and some chopped truffle.
  3. Stitch it up and rub some truffle mustard around the outside – so it’s covered in flavour rather than coated in mustard.
  4. Sear all round in a hot pan and then finish in an oven pan in a 180C oven with a glass of white wine and some thyme.
  5. When the pork is done. Let the loin rest for a little, while you scrape up the pan and reduce down the wine a little over heat.
  6. Fry up the cavalo nero with some roasted hazelnuts in the browning pan.

Nice fresh firm local potatoes as in potato country, mash, then work some butter and milk through in the pan over heat, stirring. Season with truffle salt and a little finely chopped truffle.

Smear a bit of mash on the plate, top with some cavallo nero and nuts, then top with a slice of the loin (remember to remove the stitches). Top with a little sliced truffle and pour over some of the pan juices.

 

fondue

 

 

beef cheeks and polenta

hazelnut mousse

giant slab of honeycomb

crumb

A very bloggy photo

Untitled

fassbender

Donut robot


Donuts Super Donuts Untitled

These boys mean business. Creamy dough, hot and fresh, lovingly dipped, and double bagged. Accept no substitutes.

Near the station entrance.

scallop and snapper cevichewith vodka cured salmon, tuna, radish and snow pea shoots goats cheese pannacotta with slow cooked tomato sauce and lamb
braised beef rib with rocket and horseradish sauce and truffles hazelnut marquise with truffle and honey hazelnuts

Ahm yes, well [cough] hello. I did promise to write a few things here again rather than keep it as a kind of bloggy attic of stuff – ‘Look grandma! A Pierre Hermes macaron!’. Maybe a couple of linguistics thingies, a bit of politics, maybe event the kind of stuff where I say that Albert Camus is the Joan Miro of Existentialism and Joan Miro is the Albert Camus of Surrealism – then I have a lie down and wonder if I’ve got it the wrong way round. Lady cafe racer Fridays. Bold plans.

Anyway, here is some food I cooked and I will now talk about it.

Asked to cook a dinner party for a nice friend  at their house for a dozen nice people. Nice and fancy and the two conditions that it be gluten free and that there be no pork. This actually isn’t all that hard except that it’s a bit like when somebody says “Don’t think about the bass player of Manowar” and all you can think about is the bass player of Manowar. How about pork pies? Oh wait, they’ve got pork and gluten etc.

So it eventually ended up like this:

First Course
Scallop and Red Snapper Ceviche, Vodka-cured Salmon, and Sashimi Tuna on Radish and Snow Pea Shoots

Esperance scallops, which were darling wee little coin shaped things that I cut in half and ‘cooked’ in lime, lemon and chilli with red snapper. I love the idea of a vodka cure – Russians have been using it to cure depression for years, not entirely successfully. Snow pea shoots are tasty and pretty and just need a bit of picking to get rid of the big stems and bigger leaves. Dressing of olive oil and a bit of the ceviche juice.

Another First Course
Goats Cheese Pannacotta with Slow Cooked Tomato Sauce and Lamb Fillet

Bit of this and a bit of this Was going to do this on it’s own but it seemed a bit white wine lunchy so a thyme, rosemary sumac lamb fillet done rare was a nice addition. Chickentarian got poached eggplant instead.

Mains
Braised Beef Ribs, Rocket and Horseradish Sauce, Fresh Truffles

Beef ribs recipe from Jake Drachenberg in the last issue of Spice, which I will summarise as ribs cooked covered for 4 hours at 200C in white wine, soy sauce, chicken stock and assorted herbs and a head of garlic.  The trick is to refrigerate the night before and then scrape all the fat off (and there is quite a bit) just leaving the gelled cooking liquor. And the meat and rib, of course.
Sauce is from Ottolenghi – slow food gifted horseradish cream with lovely Balingup horseradish, blended with rocket, olive oil and yoghurt and season. Reheat ribs with gelled liquor Manjimup truffle thinly sliced and chopped – much more nicely than I did if you like – and then added to the cooking liquor when serving. Truffles at around $2 a gram set me back about $30 for dinner … look what I’m saying is this – you don’t get much easier than this and if you want to go from ‘tasty’ to ‘holy fuck’, this is how. This is your food on drugs.
Truffled, butterflied spatchcock for chickentarian. Matt Wilkinson parsnip skordalia for solids.
Passed around a fennel, rocket and orange salad to freshen up the palate before being smashed with dessert.

Dessert
Hazelnut Marquise with Truffled Honey Hazelnuts

Is slavishly this but a quantum less on the fancy front (for non-metric users – 5/16 quounces). I actually like beating eggs for 15 minutes and bringing sugar syrup up to to soft ball stage. I suspect ‘heavy cream’ is less our ‘double cream’ and more like our Lannister Downs actually creamy full cream. The secret touch is that the eggs were trapped in a mason jar with the truffle. Hazelnuts roasted and covered in truffle honey. I cant begin to say how sexy the chocolate truffle fusion is. I don’t know if you’re still thinking of the bassist from Manowar but if its working for you, go with it.

Success. You can too.

Update: upgraded my server host thingy – apparently my website was being hosted at the end of Strangler’s cassette – which then ate my two most recent posts. Thanks Santos and Rakka for saving them from limbo eternity.

Croissants

croissant proof

Ummm I’m a bit embarrassed because it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. But then again, what’s Dickens written lately – hey? hey? Feel free to have a look around the old stuff while I pop out to the food truck and make some bacon cupcakes or whatever the kids are doing these days.
55 Great Global Food Blogs

satellite earth station carnarvon

Just sending a message out into the interether in case anyone else out there is going along to Terra Madre this year. Just drop me an email or comment below.

[yes I am very excited]

ALSO: You can follow the progress of the Australian delegates at the POOL: Slow Food Pilgrims Group

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esperance mini

As you have, or haven’t, noticed there hasn’t been a great deal here of late so I thought I’d put a few stories up that I did a while around. That was when I actually wrote at SPICE rather than just rail over double spaces and go schmoozing at after parties. One’s from Esperance and two are from the Great Southern region

Issue 9, 2007
Esperance

Issue 6, 2007
Bouverie Trout Farm
True Blue

How’s the magazine going? Well I’m glad you asked. We’ve just completed 20 issues and are working on our 21st, which will bring us into the next five years of publication. 2009 was an especially hard year as things went flat and flat isn’t what you want when you’re not where you want to be and you’re tired. But 2010 and has been brilliant, new staff in the office, a tight and lovable team of writers and photographers, and the page count going from 88 to 112. Every issue has involved improvement in some way but we’ve managed to stay true to our original principles – to be local, to represent all people involved in food, to educate, to be progressive and to avoid the pitfalls of advertorial. The qualities were to be a good read, a good looking magazine, and to have some actual jokes (I think there were four in the last issue).

In the last two issues we’ve had chef’s on the cover and, as these were Neal Jackson and Alain Fabregues, they represent two of the most important chefs in Western Australia in the past two decades if not ever. As Alex pointed out, as I get lost in the mechanics of it all, it’s brilliant they accepted and it’s a source of great pride they chose to be involved. We’ve featured pretty much every significant chef in WA and by next issue it will be nearly all. We never seem to get close to covering all the producers but there have been sheep and rabbit farmers, fruit growers, sardine fishermen and octopus fishermen, sausage makers and bakers, organic farmers and broad acreage farmers, cheese makers and wine growers. There have been vegetarians and butchers, local markets, street parties, small bars, inner-city and small towns, teachers and students, recipes and techniques all in a small independently owned quarterly under circumstances that I described as looking like you’d expect to be made on the gestetner and stapled. I find myself never entirely happy with each issue but it’s a bit like working on a car – always a few kilos to be lost here and some extra horses there to shave a few more seconds off.

For me personally, it’s been an immense privilege to learn and taste and try and work with and meet people who are dedicated, smart and interesting and be supported by and engaged readership. And, well that’s enough, I had been hoping just to bodge off a couple of old articles.

the chic of cheesin' begets munsters

Well it seemed pretty damned nice in the cool confines of the Simon Johnson cheese room but in the light of day we described it as a combination of a well lanolined shearer’s crotch with the appearance of leprosy.

Happy New Year btw.

totoro bento set

This is actually pretty easy. The tricky bit is establishing a friendship with someone in Guam so that eventually they send you a Totoro bento set, I guess you can thank the internets for that.
The pinkish colour is due to it being made with White Rocks veal mince rather than it being raw. The dominant, or rather, the most pronounced flavour is the ginger. Take a bit of time slicing it up into tiny cubes rather than mincing or grating it and you’ll be rewarded with small bursts of flavour rather than a diffused gingerness.
For 600gm of minced beef, you need about 4 tbs of chopped spring onion whites (or negi if you can find it), a couple of cloves of garlic, and a 2cm knob (ha!) of ginger.
Soften the spring onion, garlic and ginger in a little oil and then mix in the meat. Splash around a bit of sake (or in this case, a bit of last night’s red). Brown the mince, breaking it down into small pieces with a fork.
The sauce is a mix of 1/4cup soy sauce, 1/4 mirin, and a tablespoon of sugar. Dissolve the sugar down over a gentle heat first. Add to the mince and stir and cook though.
Top a top bowl of japanese rice with the mince and garnish with watercress (for lack of daikon sprouts).
The egg is the softliest of soft boiled (‘blue’ thank you eb). 90 seconds tops. The idea is to get a bit of cooked white and then the rest gets cooked by the heat of the rice when you stir it in.
Served with miso soup with a bit of asparagus in it.

And yes still busy, mag should be off to the printers very soon – it’s a corker.

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Too long has spiceblog toiled under the thankless yoke of amateurism and it now enters a new age of income. Thank you Kitchen Warehouse, who asked me nicely. They’re actually my first stop on my regular Scarborough Beach Road pilgrimage of mammon. But now, thanks to the internets, you can avoid the dangers of t-boning a desperate right-turning car at Ikea and browse from the safety of your own computer. Current faves are:

an orange toaster
a very sharp knife
a rather heavy tagine

Get clicking.

Just in case anybody was going to go to the trouble of digging out their Dinner Jacket that was last seen having rum and coke poured on it at the 1992 Muresk Agricultural College Bachelor and Spinster’s Ball – Lounge Suit.

Well bugger me.

she who eats and takes lots of pics


I guess it was only a matter of time before shewhoeats visited manthatcooks so I’ve just said farewell to Chika, who’s been staying at ours for the past five days. It was mucho fun having another food blogger staying over and great to have food photography outsourced. I can’t begin to describe the drop jawed pride I felt at having my dinner so generously documented (try not to look too hard at the chord I’m attempting there*). Go have a look, I have,
about 600 times – she who eats eats what man that cooks cooks.

* no actually it’s a C

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plate 1

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Poached salmon with kang kong scrambled eggs


OK here we go. Deboned and skinned salmon cutlets poached in white wine, pepper, bayleaf, and parsley with scrambled eggs with cream and mushrooms with kang kong sauteed in olive oil with thin pieces of pancetta. Topped with a reduction of the poaching liquid with cream and chopped capers. Gotta do something about that glare. Any questions?

…..
Saffy asked how I poached the salmon. The roundlet of salmon is how they prepare it at Jacksons for the confit. You cut the cutlet down the middle, take the bones out, skin it, and then make a ying-yang shape and tie it up. This was the point where I found out I didn’t have any string so I secured it with a couple of skewers. Couple of big glasses of wine in a saucepan with peppercorns, bay leaf and parsley and bring it to boil. Place it on a heat mat/diffuser to get it down to a very low simmer (almost no bubbles) and then add the salmon. Top up to cover the salmon with water and poach until cooked. If you don’t have a diffuser, a very low heat will do.
…..
Seems to be trouble with the commenting, if so just email me – spiceblog at gmail.

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heart

Always nice to have a day that’s organ related.

Tim Dunlop of Road to Surfdom has got a really engaging post up on Australia and food – Bonza appetit. Well worth a read and a comment. I can’t stop rabbiting on over there.

Kathy of What Would I Know is planning a cookbook from recipes by bloggers to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières and is looking for submissions. Go have a look -Bloggers Who Cook.

rabbit and pork terrine

Well that’s that done then. Just a quick food round-up.

The rabbit and pork terrine was for Christmas brunch and to put it briefly – the rabbit is quartered and simmered with a mirepoix for two and a half hours and shredded. It’s then replaced by some pork belly and a couple of pork chops which are also simmered for two hours. The stock is then reduce with some rosemary and the clarified using eggswhites, parsley, and leek before being strained through some muslin with the addition of a few teaspoons of gelatin. It does seem a long way about doing a stock but it’s really just adding flavours as you go along. The kidneys and liver are cooked in rabbit fat and brandy and then chopped up finely.

I reheated the meat in a pan with the pistachio nuts in a pan with a little of the and then packed in a wrap lined bread tin with boiled leek green on the bottom for decoration. Fill with the aspic and then placed a foil wrapped piece of cardboard on top with a beer bottle for a weight. Refrigerate overnight.

For a treat for the nieces I made some cherry ice-cream and placed in it a silicone snowman ice-cream tray. Topping up the mould with couveture chocolate gently heated with a little cream and sugar.

Finally the brioche had me up past midnight and was an interesting experiment. I think they’re supposed to be light and delicate but I just seemed to have this buttery sludge for dough which turned into a quite heavy kind of cake. More to be done on this baking thing.

We had the terrine with cornichons and italian bread and pumpernickel (forgot to bring the brioche) and the ice-creams went down well. Late lunch was over at Brand and Jo’s with the full Delia turkey with all the roast veg and trifle for dessert followed by Father Ted and Doctor Who. No reason you can’t have the full roast dinner in Oz, none whatsoever.

With the sun going down quickly, we made it to Leighton beach to watch the sun go down, with a bottle of beer and a cigar and that was that for Christmas. Hope you enjoyed yours.

rabbit and pork terrine A glass of very clear rabbit and pork consomme cherry snowmen


jo and me christmas lunch down

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dirtydirty

I love choice. The steak or the fish? A lighter bottle of merlot or a more robust cab sav? Flat white or long macchiato? Eat shit or fuck off?

Ah yes the last one. Welcome to WorkChoices the latest in a long history of wanting an underclass of working poor that can be shafted at will. If you’d prefer a country where working Australians have half a chance of not being done over, have a catch up on the travesty of these new laws at Red Rag. Robert Corr’s been doing an exceptional job of cutting through the crap.

You can also get out there in a show of solidarity next Tuesday at the National Day Of Community Protest – 15 Nov. 2005. Decency demands it.

Busy

making pasta

[insert thoughtful piece later]

steak and mash skinny version

I quite like how deeeeelightfully ugly my steak and mash turned out. Part of a carnival of food monsters. Charming beneath it’s hideous visage unlike the meal below which, like rokurokubi , hides it’s beastliness well.

You know how to cook a steak. The mushrooms are roasted with rosemary and olive oil. The mash is roasted sweet potato – a bit of scorching gives it its colour – and cream butter and milk. The sauce is just some butter added to the pan while the steaks rested, some finely chopped leak, then a splash of wine, a bit of beef stock, a teaspoon of wasabi powder, and then some cream. All done over a high heat, stirring constantly.

Now for a bit of housekeeping-

Jacksons: I returned for some very accurate chip making, curly whirly squid slicing, potato peeling, aspargus prepping, lwob gnikaerb, vietnameses mint tearing, and rasberry and red wine sorbet tasting. The place was fully booked but it was an hour before and order came in. Much anxious standing around like in Das Boot, waiting for the depth charges while the destroyers passed overhead. Slamming was not to happen, 61 people fed in an hour and a half. Take that merchant ships. Periscopes up Oberfähnrich Mitty.

Meme #1: Mike of Shiraz in San Diego has, out of medium sized meditteranean city affinty, tagged me for a wine and food meme. I’ll do my foody half and nominate my wine friendliest meal of the past thirty days. This was Hal Hartley Pork Belly Braised with Fennel and Pears. Nothing in it that exceptionally cried out for wine but the fact that I expressly made it to match with a wine that I’d bought a year ago, is a gold star effort for me. I’d hope that we’re the reverse the case, there’s be a bit of wino head scratching in kind. I’m going to do a double twisty tag here and send off to mistresses of both wine and food Jeanne of Cook sister! (and bugger me she’s just done the EoMEoTE round-up) and Barabara in NZ of winosandfoodies.

Meme #2: Mrs D of the disturbingly-pet-filled-for-a-food-blog Belly-Timber has gotten me with the 23rd post fifth sentence meme, it is:

They then had to switch the island from driving on the right to driving on the left.

Hmmm take heart comrades!

Five is too hard, I’m sending this to the house of bones.

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lean cuisine

Being on my second night of singledom and an adaptable sort, I thought I’d try to re-imagine my eating habits. I would become the 7 packets of Lean Cuisine in the freezer type person.

My expectations were a somewhat limp meal, far inferior to anything you could make for yourself but having the certain stodgy satisfaction you might get from macaroni cheese. I chose the can’t-get-this-wrong pack of Lean Cuisine Tasmanian SALMON with PASTA – Tasmanian salmon pieces in a creamy white wine and vegetable sauce served over al dente pasta. Placing it in my basket, my shopping experience was ruined by not being able to buy any ice-cream in fear of the checkouter imagining that, having rewarded myself with my tasty and light meal, I’d then go and gorge myself in guilty self-hating pleasure.

It’s crap. The spiral pasta tasted like the rinsed off leftovers of yesterday’s pasta salad. The salmon had a vaguely salmony taste but the texture was like a pre-chewed tongue of heavily gummed jelly babies. Bringing up the nutrient were a few slivers of carrot and teeny tiny pieces of broccoli from one unit of broccoli several orders smaller than a floret. The sauce succeeds in balancing vomity looks with vomity taste, with a sweet bechamel sauce that tastes like it’s cold when it’s hot. If you like this, call me, I can help.

Anyway, who makes this shit? Ah what a surprise.

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banana delight

Kate, who makes a very nice paella I must say, has tagged me as to who would play me. Trickier than it appears when I’m not even sure if I’m actually playing myself all the time. Michael Ironside seemed appealing. I think I’d be great with a robotic hand.

Also very tempting was Christopher Walken, he’s running for President you know. Personally I think this is an unnecessary ploy for my affections – Adam Sandler playing yet another idiotic yet loveable man-child would be a preferential candidate to the current idiotic yet dissembling and cowardly war criminal man-child. I’d love to have ludicrous hair yet retain dignity and be able to switch into a tap dance or a karaoke spot. Yet it wouldn’t be right, playing roles isn’t what he does best. What I’d love is Christopher Walken playing me in someone else’s movie so “I” could walk on say a couple of lines. People could go “wow! who the fuck was that” and then I could wander back to the kitchen and check my gravy.

So it’ll have to be Daniel Auteuil. Despite actors being some enhanced projection of self, he seems to be resolutely the everyman. Not handsome but interesting and prone to the absurdities of life, faced with a light and appealing touch. He also gets to throw knives But then again, I’ve seen barely a tenth of his films and I’d hate to pretend I’m an expert on his work, should my bluff be called.

So I’ll have to go with Owen Wilson for his good humoured faintly crap taoic ambivalence maybe and at the very least for his spectacular car crash in the Royal Tenenbaums. But then again the more anxious anal aspects of Ben Stiller certainly…

Ahh fuck it Michael Ironside will play me and if you want to caramelise bananas just slice them, coat them in a mix of raw sugar and cinnamon. Pop them in a very hot pan and turn when caramelised. You can release the sugar in the pan with some butter.

Oh tagging three people, if you would like someone to play you, let me know. First three.

Oi!; and speaking of Kate, she’s nicely remembered to remind us about Perth blogger awards at the Brass Monkey tonite! People will be there and speaking of whom, Crafty has just given me an idea. Oh wait java script polls don’t work in blogger posts – bugger! And it makes my text all small if I put it in the sidebar. Gah!

Two Words: Jackson’s and RODD.

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scrambled eggs

The reward of being interested in cooking is not so much in doing the ambitious things as it is in doing simple things better. Omlettes are are vexatious candidate for this, seemingly impossible to get just right. Scrambled eggs however.

Use free range eggs. If we’re going to harness sentient creatures to our own benefits we may as well pass a bit of humanity their way. If this sounds like animal rights by noblesse oblige, well yes it is. Crack half a dozen of them, pick some chervil and flat leafed parsley from the garden, a gentle whisk, not quite smoothing over the distinctions between yolk and white and let it sit for half an hour; adding a splash of milk and a sprinkle of pepper.

Heat a heavy fry pan and then switch to a very low heat. A heavy pan will distribute the heat evenly. Another slower alternative is to use or make a bouble boiler. Melt some butter in the pan. Add the eggs and keep scraping the base of the pan with a spatula, regularly turning and flipping. The goal is to have little grains of doneness in an otherwise cream like consitency. Don’t be afraid to just turn the heat off and let it coast. It should pour.

As a side boil some spinach for a minute and then strain. Cook up some sliced ham in butter and add the spinach to it with the pepper.

Very softly cooked scarmbeld eggs are marvellous and travel well in the mouth. Creamy, warmy, tasty. The only chew should come from the accompanying bread. The spinach is there for the colour and the iron.

[insert segue later]

A couple of things of import for Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart. One. I’ll be writing for and setting up a website with a new food mag coming out in Perth called Spice. Familiar yes. Entirely coincidental, although I like to imagine a kind of localised Rupert Sheldrake vibe slowly seeping out. It will be good. People starting it up are sharp, earnest, and dedicated. Opposites attract. Two. Thanks to Crafty and Chris I get to have a go working in the kitchen at Jackson’s Restaurant this Thursday. It’s a brilliant restaurant, best in Perth, I’m not worthy of removing the peel from their potatoes.

Go play your hand, you big talking man,

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hokkaido volcanic eggs

Much like Jazz, the End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza has risen from innuendo laced and booze soaked origins and into the milieu of the cultural elite. The salons will be abuzz. Going where the earthbound creators of real eggs could never go, EoMEoTE creator Jeanne has used her wings and soared. To my agog astonishment, she has presented all 28 entries for the The EoMEoTE#7 round-up in the language of poets, verse. It is stupendous.

And with an easy-over moreover, I’m very happy to announce effortlessly classy Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant is hosting Is My Blog Burning No. 16 and is in love with, eggs!

Step up the egg.

tofu-oyako

Spiceblog all tofu action.

nishunanbabysquidUnless there’s a cooler place that I don’t know about by being insufficiently cool then Shimokitazawa is the coolest place in Tokyo. A shambles of small stores, bars and live-houses not tangentially far from Shinjuku and Shibuya. Fitting then that I’m meeting Soh and Mayumi who I met 10 years ago in a small beer bar in Shibuya and have sinced looked up to them with a slight intonational quiver when referring to them as my friends. Soh has been right on many things and I value his recommendations. A soba restaurant after a day of picnicking in Yoyogi Park it was.

nisshunanotoushiThe place was near empty of a Saturday night and I wondered of any place could be that obscurely good in a town that lives on lists of places to go. I was convinced with the arrival of the o-toushi. O-toushi are a small bowl of food, ususually bits of vegetable or seafood, that are given to you when you sit down along with your hot towel and chopsticks. This was four immaculately presented pieces, that included baked egg with what I think was flying-fish rose, and a wedge of sweet potato; prawn on tomato and radish; and a sazae – we refer to it as sea bogey as it is twisted out of it’s cavity but it’s chewy and tasty and reminds me a bit of smoked oysters. Apologies for the slightly blurred pic, I was still coming to grips with my camera (goat wisdom on ISO still being in the future).

nishunantempuraOff the beer and on to the sake and the rest of the meal. The tempura was a collection of vegetables for vegetable obsessives such as coiled fern frond and a river plant that looks like a cross between broccoli and a sunflower. I was pleased that far from having to sneakily grab a few pics, the waiter would turn the dish into the right position. Sashimi followed, and very baby squid are in season but sadly bonito isn’t. The baby squid were served with ginger shoots and a kind of sweet yellow Japanese mayonnaise. Soh and Mayumi watched while I seem to eat it all and tried to distract me with tricky questions about Japan being better than Europe or not, to which I’d reply something like Europa wa OK ga Nihon wa nnn sah neh, Tokyo wa ii deshou, daisuki desu, and then sneak another morsel in.

nishunansobaSoba is the closing dish and it’s very good, being super-aldente and quite chewy, the sign of a well cooked one. I pick up a tip not to dip it all in the sauce, just the ends. And we finished with a tea made of the sauce and some of the water the soba was cooked in. Lovely.

sohmayumisobarestaurantWent back to theirs to whip up an improv chorizo cooked in chianti (eek the rest of the Italy souvenir chianti they just brought back). Ah well nice to see them. Somewhere along they managed to remember every negative comment I’ve made about music (no classical is fine, yes the Velvet Underground do only have one song but I still like them). Much shuffling of songs and we settled on Jailbreak.


Nishunan:Daizawa 5-32-5, Sherubo Shimokitazawa 2F, 03-3411-1128

tartsjars

Just when I’d started becoming jaded with cafe breakfasts, Greg getting a haircut the The Men’s Room (official barbershop to Spiceblog) led us to nearby Tarts and breakfast pleasantry. Well recommended, a stack of mags and papers, and fancy fooody things to buy. Smallish, so often full. Can only fault the uncomfy chairs and flash Greg getting a heart on his coffee while I got an indistinct blur of cream and brown. Monday. Haircut.

tartscoffee tartscakes tartsbagel tarts tartsespresso

Tarts Cafe ⋅ Home Providore :
212 Lake St Perth 6805 (08) 9328 6607

tartsholly

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Because – we don’t like snakes, there’s drinking, and there’s crack, mother’s maiden name is Byrne, green shirts, and Dave Allen.


Cooking? It’s probably a bit late for a Beef, Guinness, and Lamb Terrine but you could always whip up a Beef and Guinness Stew without too much fuss.

Outta town

melbournegneeee!ee!!eee!!!eeee!!!!eeee!!!!!
eeeee!!!!!!wahhh!!!!!!whoo!!!!!
oooo!!!!ooooo!!!ahhhh!!gdgdgdgd!

bacontomatoavacado

QED

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Hey I’m in The Age. [blush, cringe]

newsstory

If you’ve come from there or the SMH or Stuff NZ, hello. Feel free to look around, the archives are down there on the right, perhaps October. What you should really do though, is have a good look at some of the other blogs listed here, they’re there because they’re good. Salut to fellow articlistas James and David and a heartfelt thanks to regular readers – the folks will be proud.

And from the mailbox… SMH Good Food guide is looking any recommendations of country restaurants and/or provedores with an emphasis on (and this is a very good thing) local produce in a non-”just passing through, my what an exceptionally well fried chiko roll” way. Pop your Country NSW tips/faves in comments for our commenty pleasure or you can mail James directly – jamesmayson[at]yahoo[dot]com.

ABC Radio! [runs out of shocked onomatopoeia] Looks like I’ll be on local (huzzah!) government radio station 720 ABC tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 2:45. Bikkuri!

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is now the instant chilling of our refrigerated selection cabinets.

sbispf Go away for a week and find spiceblog’s on the Fifth Annual Weblog Awards for best Aus & NZ Blog. Welcome to those who swung by down here as a result, feel free to have a browse around. I’ll just be over here if you need any help. No! We’re all out of that, do you like octopus?

This is kind of surprising as I could point to at least 15 notable omissions in the shortlist. It’s all a bit like Swan Draft getting nominated for best beer in the world. I mean I’m pleased and all but you know, it’s just wrong when someone gets in just for their manly good looks and awesome thighs. Feel so damned guilty.

Ganbatte to fellow fooders Chocolate & Zucchini and noodlepie in their respective continental categories – go the gourmands! Good luck also to fellow West Australian Kitta – either way it’s the best thing for WA since the America’s Cup*.

Big thank you(s) for the nominations, there’s much fingerpointing as to who’s responsible, but yeah get out there and V O T E before the 31st of January 3rd of February and it’ll be hot bun cakes all round.

* Hey and go! Karen Cheng.

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John Quiggin is an Excellent Man.

Great opportunity over at Prof. John Quiggin‘s site to make a comment without having anything sensible to say. Offer closes soon.

Oh and he’s donating a dollar for every comment made to the Australian Red Cross tsunami appeal. Off you GO!



It’s done. Much respect to John Quiggin and co-contributors. On topic, there’s something simmering away from food bloggers, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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Thinking a revamp for the blog – same wine, different vessel. Protoheader that’s a bit kb heavy.



Inglewood Hotel – serves a good meal. The sweet potato gnocchi, with pork chicken and pear was an excellent exception to gnocchi’s usual place as a menu filler. Swan Draft on tap too. 803 Beaufort Street Inglewood



The Mumms goes back in the cellar but thanks to everyone who voted for me in the 2004 Food Blog awards. Those who didn’t, may your boil infested tongues be eaten by wild dogs. Seriously.

You can check out the winning best post and other fine works here at the Accidental Hedonist – Food Blog Award Wrapup.



Also there’s the Best West Australian Blog nomination in the 2005 Australian Blog Awards, But you’re all going to vote for rival nominee Robert Corr – Kick & Scream. Lot’s of the WA blogs do great stuff and I could beat Rob like so many eggs in a cook off but for consistent and varied classy excellence, we tremble in his shadow. Very blog community minded to boot.



Tasmania Off there next week. Will be taking Boris the Laptop so might sneak a post in.



LOOK! Been looking for an excuse to let you know about this project by Santos. Should have done it sooner but ah well tsk tsk.

Ladies and Gentlemen – 1000 recipes. She still needs people! Go! Go!



Must do lamingtons recipe.



Dinner toight will be White Rock Veal Chops with a port wine sauce, sweet potato and baby zucchini. Back to check stock – will add if I can think of anything else.

Ah here we go. Dessert ended up being roasted pear and fig with the butter and sugar roasting sauce mixed in with King Island Double Cream at the end. Must tell you about the ’98 Goundrey’s Reserve Selection Cab Sav one day. And a large hello to Stuart of Putney, London, England from Sal.

whiterocksveal

pearsfigs

escargotjacques

As mentioned earlier, Toni and I chose Jacques for a celebratory dinner I predicted rather good and wasn’t disappointed.

While I am consistently inspired by the whole French food approach, recipes and regions, I hardly ever go to French restaurants. I think they are somewhere under Chilean meat restaurants on the list. I did, therefore, feel a little like meeting a pen-pal for the first time or being the crew of Galaxy Quest.

The restaurant is small and modestly decorated, which I’ve long taken to be a good sign, and the greeting was warm. Toni was complimented at least five times on her dress and I was good enough to contain my simmering resentment at nothing being said of my favourite green shirt.

The menu was traditional French and was constructed so it could all be done but the one chef – the owner. Unfortunately the restaurant is no longer BYO so our bottle of ’98 Harewood Pinot Noir had to wait in the car where it played with the cigarette lighter and beeped the horn until I went out and asked if it could behave itself for just one night. We ordered had a bottle of Chandon, the Australian Moet vineyard. Best an occasional choice, in both senses of the word. As for the the food, we ordered the Pork and Duck Terrine in Rosemary Aspic with a Port Jelly and half a dozen Escargot Bourguignon

for starters.

The terrine was a little disappointing but only for the reason that, cold, it made me think of being out in the open, on a blanket, under a tree. The snails were lovely. I was gievn I quick run through with snail holders and away I went. They were cooked in oil with shallots basil and garlic which was mopped up with in-house baguette. The texture was squid like gentle resiliance to the bite. Snails are marvellous, they represent a triumph of reason and inqury over ignorance and superstition. The Age of Enlightenment in a spirally shell. And gentlemen, be sure not to describe them as “garden bogeys” while your partner is about to enjoy her second one.

“Lemon Sorbet to cleanse the palate?” What a good idea. Lemon sorbet coated in white chocolate in a glass of sherry – joy.

And for the mains. Toni ordered the Duck a l’Orange, I had my heart set on one thing – Pheasant Marinated for Five Days in Sweet Madera Demi-glace of Pheasant garnished with Black Truffles.

The duck was very good but was overshadowed by the pheasant. So so very very tender with enough taste to match the rich sauce. I forget how rich proper French food is and with a normal sized serving, I was completely full. Toni, wasn’t and had a Cassis Sorbet surrounded by Meringue with a Berry Coulis. It was her favourite for the evening and the table next to us ordered one as well soon after. I had an affogado as a compromise.

We thanked the co-owner for the meal and the excellent service and she replied that they simply wanted guests to have the same experience they would like. Jacques came out and showed us the door (in a nice way).

Well?

The names of the dishes alone should send you there, if not, then I can’t help you. The full dining experience does accumulate a bill but the cost per dish is only a little above what you would pay at a standard restaurant. Perhaps not flashy enough for gaspingly special, but warm, enjoyable, and delicious enough to make it a regular low key treat. We said we’d be back and I think we will.

Jacques 292 Hay St , Subiaco, tel 9388 1323

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hamandeggonleg

Ah yes EoMEoTE#2 how a busy schedule has conspired against it, but happen it must. Last month’s efforts was created after the first cup of coffee after crawling out of a tent. Cooked on a BBQ with slices of ham splashed with tabasco sauce. The appearance is lacking but I can assure you that the taste was just the thing for a busy day of skindiving and drinking. The eggs were a little harder than I like but that’s the cost of cooking a large batch of eggs and leaving yourself last. We all bear our crosses. Mine is made of overly hardened protein.

Joining me in this most modest of culinary adventures is the acme of modesty himself, tokyo goat, and his his entry. The toast is the traditional Japanese white bread with the yolk ever do gently bulging at its skin surrounded by a white that resembles the jagged coastline of Izu Peninsula. A sprinkling of pepper completes it.

Welcome too to the self-deprecatingly monikered FoodNerd!, who tells us:

Fry egg. Slice cheddar, sharpest is best. Put dijon mustard on pumpernickel, put cheddar on, top with egg, close sandwich, grill in butter. So damn good, so much better than it even sounds. Especially when it’s all there is to eat because the fridge is, mysteriously and uncharacteristically, empty.

As delicious as this is terrifying.

And Reid promised but is…unwell and apologise for the fact. Good news is he’s feeling better now.

If I’ve missed any eggy efforts, let me know.

hamandeggs

This is very cute. And it’s a green bananas post which leads to a lovely recollection by her.

stop-the-presses, hold-the-front-page etc: Cook sister! gets into the spirit of things by being late but great and presents her End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza . It’s an exceptional piece with sherried mushrooms that form a barricade around the yolk like the old wall of Vienna. Go look it’s good. Jeanne will be hosting #3 next month, sometime.

Tadaima

Just returned home from camping down in Denmark. The recent news dripped in on the radio and the enormity of it all is still sinking in.

Santos (and Pim!) is on to it and is helping out at the The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog. I’m sure you’ve worked out where to donate but Oxfam/CAA is one. Good chance to get 2005 off on a better start.

! Marisa , who usually blogs in Perth, is in Sri Lanka. Go to her site, ladykiadri’s , for details.

Oyasumi

liklikwopaman

As the stenographer said of the cannibal – hiatus.

LikLik Wopa Man¹ is in charge for a few days, so no messin’ about.

¹ Commemorative ANZUS Crackers not pictured

I’ll have to be quick I’m in the middle of preparing a 6 dish Sino-Indonesian Pre Chrimbo table top BBQ with a special appearance from the kindly gifted from the Sedgwick family infusion ball for some out of town long time no see guests from Shidoney and Engerland up to my elbows in san choi bow and satay sticks and on top of this put in a full days honest labour from 6:30 this morning anyway happy seasons greetings whatever you’re doing well rounded christmas viewing is

here, here, and of course here oh yeah go vote for me for a post I did at the Food Blog Awards- Best Post and we can all go out and drink Mumms after I need enough people to balance out anybody else who has hinted for a vote plus the loss of those who are now not going to vote for me out of principal because of my vote whooring anyway take a look and vote for who you like best to the others but keep in mind two of my fellow nominees were involved in smuggling funds to the Contra in the mid eighties and another uses margarine, as I said up to you it’s a good thing because there’s good stuff to see, outta here and catch ya later mashed potato and remember, if you’re drinking, good on ya!

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allfruitsmoothy

Look
I know this is the fun season and I know juice-as-penance is not the right way to approach it but I care about you all and would hate to think you’re missing out on vitamins. So pop some peeled bananas in the freezer and go make an all fruit smoothy for breakfast. If it isn’t doing it in the blender, add a splash of orange juice. It will make you a commander of men and painter of walls, trust me.

Speaking of breakfasts, a surplus of crepes from the night before at a friend’s place on Saturday had me calling over to make Banana Foster. Here’s the recipe. I don’t make a lot of desserts so 3/4 of a cup of caster sugar just seemed a ludicrous amount like it may as well have been 5kg.

Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large pan and then added 3/4 cup of caster sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a finger of rum. Stir together. Slice up 6 bananas laterally and mix with the juice of two lemons.

Add the bananas to the pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Adjust ingredients as necessary, I added a splash of orange juice for tang, and some more cinnamon for colour. Serve over crepes.

Actually looking at the recipe it said 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar. Gah! It was sweet enough as it was and the business with coffee. Possible variations of the recipe include, vanilla, Suzette style flambe, strawberries, goat in a boat, or pig in a wig.

And for holiday antics, I suggest Jim Taylor’s Bananas. The person who is “it” fields any question, but can only answer “bananas”. Hilarious. Try it.

Also, on a personal meta-note, is it better to call people by their names or refer to them as “friends” in posts. The former seems cliquey name callery and the latter seems like faux circle flaky vagueness. Should I build them up more such as “a very dear sweet friend of mine”?

Finally, does the spelling of banana seem odd to you, and doesn’t “unpeeled banana” seem strange in the context of peeling it?

forsterpussycat

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santaluciacoffee

The weekend began modestly with me on my Pat Malone on the sofa with a six pack of unremarkable beer. Late accompanied by a takeaway Hawaiian Pizza from down the road and an unusual Ben Stiller movie with Alan Alda and Elliot Gould in it.

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walkstreet Late brekky after a home improvements shop with a Walk Street Cafe long mac and an orange and poppyseed muffin. Good, and if you look closely you can see the face of Jeff Harvey, bandleader for the Ray Martin Show, in there.

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pelicanpointblank Fancy new pair of shorts and I’m off down the foreshore with three king browns of Coopers and two bottles of lemonade to drink shandy and watch Robbie dice it out there with a hundred other wind and kite surfers. Dry Shandy: 1 parts lemonade, 9 parts beer. Deadly. I mean it’s just a shandy but before you know it, you’ve three empty bottles and people walking by going tut tut and telling you to get a job. And my, haven’t windsurfers come a long way since the unidirectional plastic 10′ jobbies of yesteryear?

Finished with a bottle of the Cascade Special Stout [pictured al fresco]. Great for lovers of toasty grained stouts, look for it in the Castrol Dot4 High Performance Brake Fluid container.

cascadespecialstout

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tqrchristmastree Chips justs don’t cut it so with a raging hunger I popped on a nice shirt and headed to TQR Vietnamese restaurant on Stirling Highway grabbing a bottle of wine on the way out. Have to admire the Christmas tree though those Buddhists are waving a red nose to defenders of Traditional Christmas . Nowhere, nowhere does it state that Jesus wore a conical hat or if he did, make a tree of it. Syncretic sabotage.

Dinner was yum but not as good as previous standards, but that’s Saturday night and there were two tables of adolescent birthday parties (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Mexican Restaurant -come back all is forgiven and what was with the hairy eyeball table two?) putting extra pressure on things. My starters were a little singed but the rest, pinapple rice, pig in a pot, and rice noodles with vegetables, were on par and a solid combination. Let down by a poor choice of wine by me due to no chilled whites at home. A sparky Pinot Noir with a spicy meal matched that old vindictive cartoon standyby of [[Event 1] – character unwittingly consumes A, only to [Event 2] unwittingly drink B to tongue popping hilarity].

aretheygoingtoeatthat

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santaluciacandlesSanta Lucia breakfast with Swedish-French Veronique. A sneaky way of having a pagan winter solstice festival by naming it after a Saint. As Robbie put it – evil christmas. More ethnic subversion.

The unlit candle is for the one more Sunday until Christmas. Highlights were the Lussekatter – saffron, walnut, and schnapps flavoured buns with lingonberry jam. Lingonberry jam is a nice and tart alternative to other berry jams. Perfectly think and speckled crepes, lots of coffee and attractively decorated ginger snap biscuits. No requirements of singing, dancing, or the wearing of candles. More functional Swedish well designed no-fuss. Love that country and it’s in my top 5 countries I wouldn’t mind being invaded by (the others being France, Mexico, New Zealand, and Japan – sorry Diggers but speaking Japanese is kind of fun).

santaluciacrepes

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Finished a hard day’s adding of equity with the sole bit of cooking for the weekend – spicy italian snaggers and onions. Marvellous.

santaluciabikkies

rachmabikkie

One good sort, who knows who she is, brought home made biscuits for everybody to our end of year wind-up. The Brass Monkey is the best pub in the CBD and one of the best in Perth. The upstairs bull nosed verandah allows lazy car watching and they’ve now got new sofas. Many thanks to all there for putting up with me all year.

I had to rescue mine from the clutches of our resident garden spirit. Delicious. Resident beer at the Brass Monkey, Alpha Pale Ale put in a good showing for becoming official beer of the summer. Sharp, complex, and glassable.

Dirty Deeds

bikechickwithtin

The 2004 Perth Bikers Charity Ride is tomorrow.

I always forget this, so a reminder. If you’ve got a bike (no), or just know someone called Snake or Bandit with a spare seat, get there with a donation of a toy, money, clothes, blankets, or non-perishable food. Always a huuuuge turnout.

Look out for me, I’ll be the one in black, wearing boots.

エエエエ? 何で?: Searching for EoMEoTE#1 and found there’s a Japanese version of spiceblog that I never knew existed. How very sugoi.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has passed us in the ROTW by. I’d dismissed it as just so much ‘merican hoohah. Besides, we have Thanks for Choosing Us for a Prison Colony Day every January. A rethink was well in order after fantastic planet‘s thoughtful piece. A good excuse to say thanks to Reid for sending me, unprompted, an English manual for my camera (and to tokyo goat for getting me it).

On the subject of gratitude. Japanese has two standard utterances itadakimasu (the very polite form of receive) and then gochiso sama deshita (the very polite form of that was a feast) and we have, well grace, and the last time I heard that was on telly. I wonder what it is that has lead to no formalised act of gratitude or precondition of thanks for meals in our language.

Deep Bow Update: A large thanks to the superstar who just sponsored an upgrade for me to a Flickr Pro account. You know who you are.

Filthy paws

E.Coli bacteria will double in number in 15 minutes at 37 ºC.

With the daytime temperature heading there, it’s time to be careful about leaving food out, and getting your sandwiches a lunchbox with some ice/strong margarita in the thermos. Rice and pasta salad, I’m happy to add, is especially at risk.

IDEVAW

[picture from Cook a Good Dinner by Anne Mason]

Those crazy crazy olden days. Tomorrow is White Ribbon Day

Thanks to ab for the heads up.

A new camera so the pics are coming hot n’ fast. A few traditional efforts on a 34°C (198°F) no cooking for me Sunday.

A run to City Beach in the bleachy hot sun then pancakes at the small cafe next to Oceanus (sadly not a fist sized strawberry). 30 metres of white sand away from the sea. A quick swim.

Darby Newland gets that summer Choc Chill vibe thing going. Adds to already high Choc Milk derived energy levels by eating whole sugar sachet.

Fraser Newland imagines saving Alpine village from dam burst.

Off for a daring idea of a hot day Sunday Beef roast with Yorkshire pud. Brad does a top notch buffet carvery

Jo’s Roast defies weather and is fabulous. Cold with horseradish and yoghurt and a shiraz jam. Served with Sangria and orange candlewax.

Rosie Hames compromises yet another crime scene.

Perth, Pehhhhhhhhhrth

When it’s hot

It’s the best place on the earth.

Oooooh yeah

and the chorus update…Go toora loora toora loo rye aye

Star Anise

Nice work scanner.

Previous photo scanned from a colour reversal photo taken in Augusta.

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New Norcia monky magic 7 grain bread. Can’t say I was thrilled by the sourdough (is it just me that picks up a slight soapy taste) but this 7 grain is excellent. Passed the “I’m just having it with butter test” with flying colours. From Leonard’s Deli on St Leonard’s Street in Leederville. They’re pushing high quality local produce and are doing the gourmet deli thing so pop in and support their endeavour. New Norcia bread on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Last night went to arirang Korean BBQ restaurant last night in Subiaco and was impressed for a lot of reasons. You cook your own meat over hot coals and the marinated beef, pork and chicken (no tongue on first date) was deeelectable. Meat came with pickles, kim-chee, rice, and miso. The cooked beef is eaten wrapped in lettuce with rice like san choi bow. Great stuff and also had a cold noodle bibim neng myun salad to finish. Enjoyed the sweet spicy sauce offset by pieces of nashi apple. Hite beer was the waiter’s favourite and with good reason – everything a light summery meat eating lager should be.

Tops though, was the service. Heartfelt, sincere, helpful. They genuinely wanted us to enjoy our meal. This shouldn’t be unusual, but it is.

About $20 a head for the food, more than your usual Asian restaurant but less than what most meat and carbs places charge (won’t pay more than $15 – the Nookenburra Hotel hasn’t been knocked down yet).

Arirang BBQ Korean Restaurant 420 Hay Street, Subiaco

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From my local pizza shop that’s often been there for me in lazy times. Their florentine pizza didn’t do it for me, the spinach drags the flavours down and mutes any subtlety that might have been there. The Epson scanner works well though

Pizza on Cambridge, Cambridge Street, Floreat

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Perth succeeds or fails on the effort put in to make things work and last night it succeeded. Just a quick post to say thanks to the organisers speakers and the attendant and attentive crowd that came along.

Check em out here at Perth Blognite – Speakers (check out their sites and link (there’s rivers of gold)) or David’s done a write up with pics.

Few technical details… The nigirisushi toppings were unagi (eel), salmon, maguro (tuna), and rolled egg with a nori filling. The knife was a yanagibocho long sashimi knife and is sharpened with a #1000 and #3000 (to finish) sharpening stone that I soak in water. The rice should be at room temperature, cooked in a rice cooker with an equal amount of water that’s been brought up to a simmer only with a piece of konbu. Keep the hands from getting sticky with a bowl of vinegared water.

Cheers for the questions all and thanks for letting me in and putting up with me. You all R O C K.

Rashomon on Freaky Chick; Robert Corr ; Ponderance: BlogNite Redux; decaffeinated :: overpunctuated. underinformed.; Richard Giles blog; Craftapalooza: Perth Bloggers

and in a special portraiture usually reserved for people of such estemity as Dolly Downer – Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lord Sedgwick of Strathmore makes beer spout from my nose.

Flies off handle

Go read some Hobbes (no not that one) and you are soon dispensed of any cozy notion of natural rights so sometimes you gotta fight (no not that one either). Two things getting the hands spat on in what should be a calming blog genre.

The line is drawn..

Dishwashers

Fact! Cooks cook to get out of doing the dishes.

Santos got me thinking a while back with her Dream Kitchen post about what kind of dishwasher I’d like. Off I slowly scurried through my old Orange Pages. Now I could think of nothing better than the TOTO EUD300 uoshuap 2doasurim pictured above. Then on page 78, vavoom!

Votes:

A. TOTO EUD300 uoshuap 2doasurim

B. Model wearing nothing but pink washing up gloves

I am a foodie and a spunkrat.

santos dreams of kitchens.

As requested, a pic of my Metters. It had its day but it’s newness and improvedness had come and gone and it was time to move on.

Greens

Chinese ones best done stirfried quickly with oil and ginger and a bit of oyster sauce and served with fish.

Local ones court foodie vote in an election campaign where food gets not a mention (where’s Bob Carr and his sausage rolls). A “have your cake and eat it too” brochure and then this Cleanskins fundraiser.

Iron Mark -over to him for a hustle in below the line senate voting extravaganza – all it takes is a beer not champagne government. *

On the nose Jack? Last week’s casserole.

Full and detailed pre-election posting soon. And of course some food.

Launch*Full strength local with gold for grandad. Good.

trompe l’oeuf

Eggs can prevent blindness.

Marketing shouldn’t find it too hard to focus a campaign on wankers, should they?

and while I’m all snarky like, can we have a comprehension test on the following; “No sauce” “To have here” “No icing sugar on the pancakes”. Hellooo Hellooo.

chest wig, gold medallions…: from the consistently fascinating BARISTA

Weekend Lunch

Lunch seems to have replaced the boss coming for dinner as the template anxiety situation.

Loaf of ciabatta from Jean-Claudes, tomato, avocado, lettuce, shaved beef, mild sopresso, pan fried Cretan haloumi cheese, and some olive oil and pepper. Not at home like I thought they’d be- tapenade and sardines; should stock up. Also there, were Eagle Vale olives which are grown up near Geraldton but can now be bought at Farmer Jacques in Subiaco. Best olives from memory I’ve bought.

Little guest made very welcome.

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Look at it. What do you see? Do you see a sugary bun that yields like wettex to limp lettuce and grey beef that leaves a trace on your mouth like your toothbrush had been dipped in the fat trap? Would you get half way through it and wonder what you were thinking?

A dollar or two more than shit, and you’ll miss out on reconstituted salt and grease sticks and fizzy caffeinated sugar swill. We’ve lost a few great burger places in Perth through sanitised mediocrity. Well apostrophied Retro Betty’s is a blessing.

More good stuff that evening. You’ll not see a more violent, funny, tragic, thrilling, and beautiful film than Zatoichi. Kitano is a genius who loves his films and makes them how he wants with people he likes. I could go on and on about this but if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practice tap dancing in my geta.

Retro Betty’s, 127 Oxford Street, Leederville

Zatoichi is on at the Luna.

Evan Williams smokes goats.

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Gah! no! Johnny Ramone has died. I know he wasn’t churning stuff out to the grave like Johnny Cash but this could mean the Beatles outlive the Ramones in a generational cheat. Sadly joins Frank Zappa with comic/tragic Prostate Cancer. Barking Pumpkins all round.

Vale and a big salute for proving it doesn’t get better than simpler and faster and it’s better to be smart dumb, than dumb smart.

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Busy

Here you go, cute kid in Shanghai. Anybody says “corny” gets a slap.

Chicken Salt

Chicken Salt[.][!][?]

I’ve added a link, pain, on the side to my all new counter-blog, vanishing pointless. It’s a training log for the Melbourne Marathon. Yes, I know this is the site of the soft pleasures but it’s hand on the skillet time – you’ve had virtual drinking and dining, now I bring you virtual exercise. The idea is to publicly shame myself into training. Feel free to offer manliness questioning encouragement there.

The race will be, funnily enough, the day after the Australian Federal elections. For my efforts I’ll get a trip east, a medal, and chaffed nipples; battlers of ideas get a change of government and to say farewell to the present dissembling bunch of fuckers. Here’s hoping for the lot of us.

They are many but here they are my long term inspired 5 election bloggers to follow over the next 5 weeks:

At ‘em.

Ah! wasureta!, mo hitotsu: Quiggin

mo ikkai mo hitotsu: Foodgoat’s got the politics-food crossover just right.

Bluffet

Bluffet n. v. tr. to deceive by appealing to perceived unlimited wants rather than well provided needs: They bluffeted me into thinking I wanted everything but really I just needed a well poached egg with some hollandaise.

Observation City’s always been a sore point with me, but good to catch up with the old boy and a happy Father’s Day to all Dads out there tomorrow.

Milkmaids of Human Kindness

This is what I came home to at 8:45 last night.

Saint Susan of Tagine dropped this around while I was at work because she felt that the christening dinner party was insufficiently Moroccan. It was magnificent with the olives leaving contrasting traces of bitterness to counterpoint the sultanas, with the beef having perfect slow cooking falling apartness over fluffy couscous. Cheers.

Furthering… Sister Natalie of the Order of Sporty Vehicles is a physio (and my actual sister) and is plugging a campaign for the Cerebral Palsy Campaign of WA. If you’ve got a mobile phone you don’t need anymore or just confiscated one off a twat in the cinema or a dickhead driver, here’s the deal. Nat?


I know that most of you love your mobile phones and like to update them regularly either at your own or your employer’s expense. I ask you to get involved in a fundraising initiative for my employer, The Cerebral Palsy Association of WA. It is a not for profit organisation that relies on fundraising to provide equipment for people with cerebral palsy (CP).

 

In this case all of the funds will go towards specialised communication devices for children and adults with CP (is this irony or destiny?)

 

All you have to get that warm fuzzy feeling of doing something good is follow this [Mobile Phone Recycling WA] link and you can register to to get a reply paid pack to send your unwanted phone to the supplied address and The Cerebral Palsy Association will get a donation.

That’s it. If you’ve got a mobile spare; or food you need eaten and reviewed, you know what to do.

Disclaimer: obviously these last two are my personal good ideas and not those of the CPA of WA

Bonus Altruism:Bertrand Russell, Dalai Lama, me… at womanchild’s natty site.

Not a lot of restaurant reviews of late and little wonder. The other month I had a lovely meal at Jacksons, punctuated by a sweary row over what constituted torture (“nobody was &%$#! &%$&# at #$%&% boarding school! oh hi ahhmmmm yes I’ll have the apple and walnut risotto for entree and the ahhh rabbit for main”) and then had a great meal at Cream where my sister and I managed to break or upend at least three glasses between us. Perth’s a small town, word gets around. I now book in my wife’s name.

Mojo’s in North Fremantle is a top bar and I’m old enough to remember when it was The Stoned Crow, they sold Kirup Syrup, and I was stunned as a green 17 year old to see a white rastafarian skinning up. Anyway, I got off to an early start on Friday and what I vaguely remember is here.

A quiet night was in order for Saturday so we went to my fave Japanese restaurant in Perth, Shige . I went there by farm Landcruiser and discovered the CB radio scene in Perth is alive and well – sample convos

Channel 1

1:ba’&$%d

2:f%&$#ff

1:ya sleeping in the &%$& shed tonight

2: yeah well at least my wife wasn’t f&%#& by my best mate.

3: Steve ya there?

Channel 5

1: to the hip hop the rhythm and the method…

2: I was sc&%$& today

3: Yeah

2: went to bed at 3:30 and woke up at 6:30 and chucked me guts up over me bed.

4:Steve ya there?

Anyway Shige was great once again, we took a bottle of Corr inspired Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon/Chardonnay 2003, which Toni enjoyed but I’d hoped for something a bit drier as a sake facsimile. Skuttlebutt is part of the extremely good Stella Bella family of Margaret River. For eats we had gyoza, fried oyster, tempura moriawase, and the grilled pike – all good. We were at the counter and watched the owner quietly and effortlessly just churn out plate after plate of food. Reminded by a Japanese couple of the very good Japanese piece of etiquette of offering a glass of what you’re having to the chef.

Sunday morning was an even more relaxed brekky at the Left Bank Bar & Cafe in Fremantle along the Swan River. The Left Bank is a bit disorienting as it looks like a pub but doesn’t have any beer taps, just bottles. Breakfast is good – scores big on (q*v)/$ – hollandaise, eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast with a long mac. Flawlessly sunny what a place to live winter morning enjoyed and then back to the Australian dream.

Update Ahh Skuttlebutt, what a satisfyingly prescient choice – only one bottle though, didn’t want to go overboard.

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Hot Sauce

Bastards!!! Parenting and hotsauce via uggabugga

In addition, Whelchel offers the following: “For lying or other offenses of the tongue, I ‘spank’ my kids’ tongues. I put a tiny drop of hot sauce on the end of my finger and dab it onto my child’s tongue. It stings for a while, but it abates. (It’s the memory that lingers!)”

Vinodiversity

Australia – diversity and the constant struggle against obscurity.

Very interesting stuff on our national drink at Vinodiversity.

OI! International new world wine blogging day September 1st. At

Lenndevours. (via Dave at Weber_cam.)

Freud on Food

When I started this blog, I thought that if just one young man read it and made something nice for someone special then it would be mission accomplished.

Wishful thoughts. The food has become mere day residue for the unbewusste. A recent run on thanos, eros, and fungus has led to this condensation.Mark is playing at Mojo’s next Friday, go see.

I’m off to the country support a few friends chase their obsessions in this weekend’s Avon Descent so apologies for no adventures in food, instead an unfinished post from Augusta that was lying around.

Love Beer?

Enough, enough to kill?

The mystery mushroom is a giant oyster mushroom (domo domo santos for woah! MushWorld). It reminded me of the $30 a pop matsutake and how in ad world they’d be grilled over charcoal, amongst autumn leaves, and washed down with Kirin Ichiban Shibori.

No such time luxury so second choice was that I really liked enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon. Handily I still had some venison prosciutto from my trip down south that I could use instead. This left me choosing between Italian and Japanese for the additional flavour and I settled on olive oil.

Cooking

Wrapped the mushrooms with the prosciutto, a bit of oil under in the dish, a little more on top and then put in a 170C oven, letting the prosciutto get crispy for 10 minutes. It was then covered with foil to keep the moisture in and cooked for another 25 minutes.

Eating

Mushrooms have very characterstic tastes and seem to have their own unique textures. They gave off a lovely honey smell but the taste lacked enough meatiness to counteract the sponginess. I’d like to try them just with soy but I think the answer lies in a smaller bite, perhaps by slicing them lengthwise.

Desperate Restaurant notes: The Asian mushroom is given a fresh Italian fusion approach with the use of prosciutto and extra virgin olive oil. Venison gives that perfect dash of huntsman exotica with a bold stroke of antler virility. Linear forms match with curves. Earthy tones hint at winter. Crunch meets mush.

Tags:

Fungible

Got these mushrooms at the Subiaco Station Street markets on Sunday. The last time I threw caution to the wind, I found myself sitting on my own a photobooth in Yokohama at 4 in the morning. Sensible me therefore asks if anybody has got any idea what they are and the best way to cook them?

If these people can cook as well as they blog, I’m ruined. Some quality Friday arvo Australian food reading for you…

Excellence in amusement with Sedgwick with As the legendary chinese philosopher Darrell Lea once said … every Rocky Road contains marshmallow and at ALBINO -()- NEUTRINO -() there is “Tiger Prawn Jambalaya”.

More info truffles at Barista with the pie resurrected and gigantic

Mark bleeds for science and commerce in Guinea Piggery – it’s all for science, and a free box of wheaties.

Canadians are simply the lost Northern tribe of Aussies What the Wagyu?. They are eating Sydney as we speak.

Finally, neither Australian nor food related but mandatory reading at fantastic planet in case you never realised that saying the food was “surprisingly good” is the logical fallacy of Accent.

Update: I’m in bigger trouble than I thought, at Tug Boat Potemkin (thanks Rob). And there’s more at Soul Pacific with Sak zako bizin protez so montayn.

Shanks and Faro at Clairault Winery

A late posting but visual content buzzers were buzzing

Had lunch while at Augusta at Clairault Wines. My veal venison shank was exceptionally enjoyable but I’ve just realised I can’t remember whether the shanks were vension or veal [venison!]. I was thrown by the use of faro . Thought it was barley, which I’ve not had for quite a while. Enjoyed it so I might use it instead of Puy lentils some time in the future. It was the pick of the bunch as the other meals were a shade miserly and three tortellini for a main was taking liberties my son.

The wines are good but no notes as I’d shut down my wine sensors as I was skipper. Aye bloody aye.

Update:got on the blower and the nice lady at Clairault told me it was venison. Cheers.

Reader’s Funky Appliance Fiesta (rFAFi)

If you’ve a digital camera and a tendency to hoard, you might want to have a rattle around in the cupboard and get into this at umami.

Sister said she fell in love with her husband at a party because of his cowboy boots and his blender. Go figure.

No.

Tags:

Ethically deficient, any “good” action by myself has been shaped by my earliest reading experience with Beano comics. The rules in this universe are as such:

  1. Good actions shall be unimposing or unwitting
  2. They will be followed by “Zoiks! A fiver!”
  3. Followed by either a large serving of bangers and mash, a large serving of fish and chips, or a large pie with horns coming out of it. (The last may be the Dandy outcome).

This windfall approach applies in cooking:

  • In-season fruit and vegetables are best and are at their cheapest.
  • Animals ranged freely and killed humanely taste better.
  • A diverse diet is interesting and better for you.

Anyway this is a hideously roundabout way of suggesting that there may be fewer such windfalls in the real world but Robert Corr of Kick & Scream‘s Time for action on Sudan compels “doing” and “something”.

Margaret Riviera in Cowaramup is a one-stop wonder shop for my version of essentials (you can use vinegar and newspaper for the others) when down South. Picked up some ostrich pate, Yallingup wood fired half-rye, chorizo, and some Cloverdene pecorino. The latter two I later used in a risotto.

The place in the photo is a little further south out of town . I botched their veges but their mandarins near blew my mouth off – I’ve grown accustomed to the should-have-been-here-yesterday flavour of most. Go, you will be trusted.

oyasumi

Box of books from Mainly Books, box of beer from IBS and I’m off to Augusta busta.

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo Paw will be keeping an eye on things while I’m away. Look carefully and you can see him grow.

Mainly Books, 201 Bulwer St, Northbridge. Ph (08) 9227 6422 – near the scooter shop. Superb for second-hand books but if you’re after cookbooks from the 50′s and 60′s, you’re too late.

The Abominable Shellfish

Food and religion beautifully presented at slacktivist.

The writing exercise Spiceblog is now 1 year old. This is a very good time to say thank you everyone. As neither a writer or a cook, I’m grateful for and humbled by your attentions. They’ve been a constant source of pleasure and pride.

[very deep bow] Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Found this the other day, don’t know if this is the definitive “how far we’ve come” moment but it made me smile. Norway!

Everything thirsty cartographers need to know about beer is here. Lacks only a Z axis for quality to round it out and a “here be dragons” bit.

Blogbrief streching here but a brilliantly obsessed American friend in Japan just sent me a link to his latest set of speakers.

I should also mention, for those with a large living room and deep pockets, that they are for sale (postage and handling not included).



Happy to see a post by Hawaiian food blogger Reid at ‘Ono Kine Grindz on the Kua ‘Aina Sandwich Shop.

Whether it was luck or the peculiar retail density of Tokyo, I had two within walking distance of my office and grateful for it. More than any other burger chain I’ve been to they made the transition to exceptional without sacrificing the essential dumbness of burgers like [ rock band name pending further thought]

While here we have the burger chain diversity of carp and blue green algae, Japan had a pretty rich and creative ecology of burger chains. A triumph of adoption, adaption, and innovation. Morinaga Love has long gone, but its ika burgers will long be remembered. Squid patty, between two fresh rice “cakes” with a sauce that had a hint of wasabi. Three favourites remained and Freshness Burger has thrived. Have a look – the websites are a delight.

Freshness Burger

Mos Burger

First-kitchen

Happily watched Casablanca today and marvelled at its moral complexity in dire times and that Kevin Spacey is Peter Lorre. 20th Century classic as it was, it was outdone by the next DVD – Once Upon a Time in Mexico – by having a “10 Minute Cooking School” with Robert Rodriguez as an extra. Marinating in Zip Lock bags, coffee grinder for spices, deveining and seeding chillies – man’s a genius.

You can’t eat with two spoons. Kosovar saying

Thanks Besimus

Bugger modesty, I can’t say I was anything but capital C Chuffed to see this on IMBB5.

I forgot to mention – the three fish ceviche used Eagle Vale EVOO. Made up in the Chapman Valley near Geraldton, not sure about local stockist down here but I’ve heard they are available at a Roadhouse somewhere between Dongara and Geraldton. Their green olives they sell in a plastic bucket are great too.

Update Cook sister!: Oil’s well that ends well.

As well as the 5CD Johnny Cash Unearthed Music Collection for me to work my way through, my sister also brought these little treats from a bakery. I haven’t been there, but now will. Sensitive woodworkers, try not to look too closely at the joinery on the table, or the countersinking for that matter.

Barret’s Bread 19a Broadway Nedlands

The five great Japanese virtues I consistently fall well short of are: obligation, perfectionism, modesty, forgiveness, and generosity.

It’s a sad foody that sits alone with their own creations and sharing is one of the great pleasures of cooking. Enviably talented Pim, of chez pim, has taken the food principle one step upwards and has set up a Spare us a grain of rice campaign on her page for Médecins Sans Frontières. Go!

Also, BARISTA, generous himself, points to a cunning scheme of generosity so Australian taxpayers can play bearded goodness [itself via bearded goodness in Queensland -John Quiggin]. I’m slow,be quick.

Odd email problem regarding bogus return address on main account (thanks Rob and Chris). It should be fixed now but, if not, try the hotmail address on the right.

Blog Boiler Room: Visual Content gauge is reading a little low.

This should fix it.

Monastically made Belgian Chimay Triple/Tripel is one of a few things keeps me an agnostic and Occam’s razor tucked safely away in the back pocket.

Describe it – oh not worthy. You’ll have to go buy yourself one. Now.

Still here? Don’t worry I’ll still be here, there’s a Brune and a Blue still in the pack.

Off you go, go on…

…it must be Wednesday monthly Perth blog meet-up.

Robert Corr wasn’t the first, but he’s got the pics and if they aren’t too scary for you, follow the bouncing ball for the blogging equivalent of Rashomon.

Much thanks to all for a good chat and high quota of laughs, though not enough discussion about chocolate pavlova and oven temperatures.

Didn’t blog this when I got home because I was distracted by rather lewd late night television – no that’s not it. I was distracted by the very happy news that my friends Heath and Yumiko McCabe now have a new son. He’s obviously a bit young to read this but given that their first one is such a clever clogs, it should only be a few more blog meet-ups before he can.

Oh, the chips were good and plentiful, things just keep getting better. Next month!

…a fine tang of faintly scented urine

Happy Bloomsday.

To celebrate, I will now confess to once getting about fifty pages into Ulysess, giving up, and then just going out and buying the T-shirt.

I don’t know what to make of this story. Too much a mini tragedy.

It’d be fair to describe Perth as a make your own fun kind of place but some others have kindly made the task easier.

First up Robert Corr of Kick & Scream has breaking news on TONIGHT’s Cargo for Congo fundraising gig in Perth.

More good deeds on Saturday night at Freo via Graeme at Middle Path with Circus Saloon – a cowboy themed fundraiser for Cirque Bizirque.

Those with Nor’ Westers can pop over to Rottnest on Sunday to see Mark at twisted hamster in a musical tribute to post dissertation freedom.

Finally, if you’ve been having lessons, enthusiastic or, like me, just downed enough Cuba Libres – a plug for my next door neighbour’s site Perth Latin Dance Scene

Decisions, decisions and with two projects to be finished.

Lapse! Ronnie* would have wanted me to forget something important.

Next Wednesday is the Perth Blog Nite meet-up. I’ll be there and, in spite of this, so should you.

*Must…not…break…prime…directive…Oh look bugger it – here and here. There, that’s better.

There’s probably [hopefully?] a missing apostrophe but the name actually has a quainter history than amusing those who sniggered when they first heard the word Bishopric.

I have though discovered something very unusual, it’s so sharp and dry I can only describe this as a beer which makes you thirsty. I’m trapped in an Escher diagram…

I’m a bit alarmed by the sag in my shelf.

Victory

A dismal week for the local footy teams and I believe the Socceroos drew against the Solomon Islands. For fellow Australians in search of a hero I would like to put my own triumph on the international stage forward. When’s that honours list?

Demanding contest conditions here.

Chicken

I don’t know if I’m either intellectually or morally committed enough to have something as grand as an ethical system for food shopping. I do have a rough guide for non-taste/price decisions though. Mt Barker Chicken – chicken of choice here -ticks a few boxes justifying me digging a bit deeper into my pockets.

  • local
  • humane treatment of animals
  • product as an end
  • market diversity

I did have some reservations about their claim to being hormone and antibiotic free. Not that I thought that they weren’t, but that they might be being cute as apparently it’s illegal to use hormones on chickens in Australia. I sent them an e-mail asking them about this and here’s part of their response.



In regards to your question the law states that: –

1.) It is illegal to use growth hormones or steroids in poultry, thus all chicken producers should not use them.

2.) Antibiotics may be used to treat sick chickens under veterinary supervision.

Mt Barker Free Range Chickens differ from standard chicken as extra time and effort are put into rearing the free-range chickens which we believe lowers disease and thus the need for antibiotics. Our chickens are NOT force-fed. They have 24-hour access to food and drink, which is checked several times a day.

I was impressed they responded, quickly and directly as this was my first concerned consumer letter. My hunch on this is that problems in food production comes when industrialised answers (antibiotics) are used to solve problems of the producers making (crowded production). Mt Barker Chicken seems to have tried to jump out of this spiral even if it isn’t the cheapest option. Good for them.

I don’t think this is the final word on chicken but I might try and put the subject on the “to blog about” list.

DISCLAIMER: No they haven’t sent me a years’ supply of chicken.

Ella finds a field mushroom while we wait and wait and wait for coffee.

Crayfish Ravioli with Crayfish Shell Sauce

My first time to make ravioli but, as I was using fresh packet lasagna sheets, this was more of an assembly. The sauce was courtesy of a new book I bought Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson- a guide to cooking basics which has been humbling me for the past two days. I bought it with an eye to picking up a few tips and have either learnt something new or realised I was doing something wrong, every other page.

Crayfish Ravioli

Two cooked crayfish; 2/3 cup of ricotta; 6 sheets of “fresh” lasagna pasta; 1tsp of dill tips.

The first thing was to remove the crayfish meat – made easier with a pair of kitchen scissors. I kept the red shell for the sauce later and disposed of the head internals. There is a part of it that is edible, but if there was, I couldn’t find it.

I kept 6 narrow slices of the tail for garnish and chopped the rest of the meat up. The ricotta was added to the meat and choppped togther – somewhere between paste and “bits” – crunchy peanut butter if that’s any help. A few dill tips for colour.

Next I lay out a sheet of pasta and , mentally mapped out six zones, and put a teaspoon of the mix in each. Placed the another sheet over the top and cut it into six squares.

It’s crucial that the two sheets stay together, if the water gets in, it breaks apart and it’s rooted. Unfortunately the lasagna sheets were fairly unyieding as they’re packed not to stick together and it took some water and numerous trips around the outside with a fork to get the two sheets to stick together. Made 18 ravioli and hoped for the best.

Cooked in salted water for 6 minutes.

Crayfish Sauce

Soften half a chopped onion, with a chopped carrot in some butter then add the crayfish shells and let them cook for 10 minutes with a sprig of parsley and two small twigs of thyme.

Stage two was to take it off the heat and grind the mix down with a Bamix. Return to the heat, stirred in two chopped tomatoes, then a glass of white wine, brought to to the boil then added 300ml of thick cream. Reduced the heat and let simmer for 40 minutes until it’s a strong orange colour.

Straining is done in two stages to speed things up. First in a wider holed sieve, then in a finer one – pressing down on the solids each time to get as much sauce out as I could. If you were feeling fussy, you could use a cheesecloth. Returned to the heat for a little thickening, seasoning, and a dab more butter whisked in.

Presentation

3 ravioli for each person, poured the sauce over them, and topped each plate with a slice of crayfish sauteed in butter with a bit of garlic.

Well?

A couple of casualties, but the rest of the ravioli stayed intact. The sauce was wonderful but the lasagna sheets would have been better replaced by handmade pasta. An effective way of stretching crayfish as an entree and the use of the shells was admirably frugal.

Enjoying a preprandial stoll while I work out what to do with two defrosting crayfish.

Groper and his Wife

Not just favourite food website that isn’t about food but probably my favourite website ever - Rice-Boy (find the hall of shame). What made me remember this long defunct site? I just tried the fish and chips from pricey gourmet local chippie The Groper and his Wife.

This Kiwi Monteith’s Black Beer is good though.


By today’s standards, Monteith’s Black Beer is distinctive, with a higher alcohol content than ‘mainstream’ beers and a crisp dark maltiness. This complex malty characteristic shines through from the use of five different premium malts. With biscuit, nutty, caramel, chocolate and coffee malt characteristics, it’s a special taste in beers that is truly akin to the rich black beers historically produced on the West Coast of New Zealand.

What they said plus ummmm smoky?

Dongara

Moby is getting a northward trip this long weekend as part of its Twilight of the Valkyries tour. We’re off to Dongara (aka Craytown). Though I think the crayfish season may be over there’ll be other fish aplenty I’m sure (subtle hint to hosts).

This means I’ll have to leave watching Supersize Me until next week. I’ve been itching to comment on it but thought it wise to actually see the thing first. Just in – did you know that to buy every single promotional toy from McDonalds you have to buy a “Happy Meal” every 3.7 days? No. Neither did I until yesterday.

Also news for me yesterday, in a not entirely unreleted point. Did you know coercion, as well as being straight arm twisting, can also mean getting someone to do something without clearly explaining the negative consequences?

Enough for now, I’ll save it for the review. In the mean time, I was a happy to see one of my all time favourite films getting a mention.

Now, must go fill up with oil and check the petrol.

Onigiri wa Uchi

Had a nice surprise when I came home, Toni had made onigiri for me. They are the rice balls pictured above and are a giant of Japanese portable food. They also function as a good use of surplus cooked rice and can be made in minutes

The name comes from oni which is a kind of demon, oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi means “demons out, good luck in” which is said once a year as the demons are scared away by tossing dried soy beans. giri means “obligation” as in “giri-choco” which is “obligation chocolate” and given by women to work colleagues on Valentines day. This would mean that oni giri means “demon obligation” but unfortunately it doesn’t. It actually comes from nigiri which means “handful, grasp, clutch” – describing it’s making. Onigiri are more common than norimaki which is nori “seaweed” and maki “roll” and what you usually see as sushi. As for harumaki, haru means Spring and you can work the rest out.

Onigiri were one of my earliest trials in Japan. They were cheap and filling when I was poor and illiterate. Good as they were, the filling ranged from tuna and salmon, to sour pickled plum and fermented/rancid soy beans. As I couldn’t read the packet, I’d just take a lucky dip and hope for the best. Pies were never this hard.

If you’ve got a bit of time go here to onigiri fortune telling. In the first box type your name, then select your blood type, finally your date of birth – year;month;day and then click the button underneath. Then you’ll have to either ponder your inexplicable future or find someone with far better Japanese than me.

Wooh! an answer to an earlier question about Koeksisters/Koeksusters from a South African living in the antipodes. Thanks to Cook sister! – go have a look, it’s good. This is my punishment for initially dismissing the internet as the CB radio for the nineties – such vision.

I haven’t had the chance to look at her recommended link for local supplies, but for homesick South Africans – and there are more than a couple here – it’s here. As for koeksusters, Jeanne has her own post on the subject here.

Also on her site is the news that Is My Blog Burning 5 is on. This is a one day global food blog linkup posting on a food theme. I was oblivious of until Graeme posted on it. That such a diverse group of people can unite and share their food creations from all over the globe does my heart good. That said, all this will be dropped in favour of parochialism as I go in hard to bat for this great state of ours.

Fish!

I try to keep this blog on my self-imposed straightjacket of food but since language is my bread and butter (no really), I thought this on Farsi street slang worth a link.

Farsi is the language of Iran (and Afghanistan- though called Dari) and I should comment on how the distinctions between formal and slang are used coercively in all cultures and that slang is often a response to some form of oppression but will have to defer to the book’s editor Fereydoon Fatemi “It’s just really funny”.

More cultural eye opening can be had here at Persian Slang . Excellent Language Log , which often has me runing to my copy of Swan, crashes the party – scroll down to “Just as Good for Hate” for a pessimistic backhanded compliment on the adaptability of language

To get this right has been a long standing quest of mine after being unable to reproduce the ones I had in the Indian Restaurants of Shibuya. Previous efforts left spinach and mutton together in an unhappy partnership, I wanted a thick mutton sauce. Desperate, I even troubled His Excellency the GG to corner a waitress if he had the chance. I decided to merge two recipes I found as they both had something I liked.

This one
one was interesting because it uses the meat as a stock. The other was a little more interesting in its choice of spices. Read both, as I’ve made a kind messy montage of both of them. It’s all a bit epic for a mid-week meal.

Meat

600gm mutton -cut into 3cm cubes

1/2 tsp grated ginger;1/2 tsp mashed garlic

Marinate together all three together for twenty minutes and then put in a saucepan and barely cover with water and cook gently for 30 minutes. Drain the meat, reserving the liquid.

Spinach

400gm frozen spinach – Place spinach in a covered saucepan and put on low heat until thawed. Break up and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the spinach is coarsely chopped, puree in a food processor until reasonably smooth.

The curry

1/4 cup oil ;1 cinnamon stick; 1 bay leaf; 2 cardammom pods; 2 cloves;

1/2 onion chopped;

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder; 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

4tbs butter

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy saucepan with the cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom and cloves. When the oil is really hot and the cinnamon leaf starts to fry, add the onions.

Fry for 15 minutes over a low to medium heat. Add the cumin and chili and cook a little.

Cook the meat in the butter until seared on the surface. Then add the yoghurt and cook until the yoghurt has been absorbed and the pan is almost dry, about 8 minutes. The yoghurt breaks down and it soon looks like you’re refrying it in butter. I kept stirring frequently to coat the meat.

1 tbsp almond meal ; 1/2 tbsp nutmeg; 1/4 cup cream

Add the spinach, almond meal, nutmeg and about 3/4 cup of the reserved lamb liquid. Cool [sic. I took this as cook] gently for 7-8 minutes, tightly covered. The mix looked exactly right and I was stoked. Stir in the cream and eat [sic. ditto - heat] gently.

Serve with pappadums – I forgot about rice.

Well?

No. The sauce was textured right but the taste was wrong. The mutton was too strong and had the taste of mutton fat – it’s worst feature. This may have been helped by using lamb or substituting the “mutton stock”with just water. Some of the spices could have been increased – especially the chili as it was far too mild.

So – not yet, but I’ll keep at it. Lord Sedgwick?


Fish Monday

Local blogger David was wondering what to do with a packet of polenta and this should do the trick. I’ve had the recipe for a while and it gets an outing now and then. It’s a Mrs Medici recipe – typically simple.

The first thing is the polenta. In case you’re wondering, it’s ground corn. Best viewed as one of the stodges – mash, rice, pasta, and cous cous. Unless you’ve got the quick cook version (check the packet) it’ll take a good 40 minutes (though a swift 20 in a pressure cooker). Not a big deal, just give it a stir now and then.

Polenta

300gm polenta; 1.25l salted water When the water reaches a boil, pour the polenta in, in a thin but steady stream, stirring constantly. Then put it on a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally. When the polenta freely leaves the sides, it’s ready.

Mushroom and Cream Sauce

Clean and 1/2cm slice about half a dozen large field mushrooms. Take two cloves of garlic and slice finely. Saute the garlic in three tbs of olive oil for two minutes and then add the mushrooms – they should take about five minutes. Then add 300ml of thickened or double cream and heat through until it bubbles. Add some fresh parsley and salt to taste. No pepper surprisingly.

Pour the sauce over the polenta and serve with the Mahi Mahi fillets on top.

Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi is a local fish and is also known as Dolphin Fish – nothing to do with our smooth mammalian friends. As I’d never had it before, I cooked it as simply as possible – dusted with a bit of flour and pan fried in a little olive oil. It’s a great white fleshed fish – a fine taste, not too sweet, and very juicy. Will have to try it battered. At nearly half the price of dhufish and apparently in season, it’s great value.

The polenta is warm and filling and the sauce livens it up considerably. The fish rounds it off nicely.

My Resentment Rules

It seems PERTH RULES!!!!!!!

I really do live under a rock.

I haven’t watched the reality show where young couples battle to start up the most popular restaurant or eaten at the winning Perth Surf’nTurf/Chocolate Fondue restaurant either so can’t comment. Have a look at – My Restaurant Bites,My Restaurant Endgame and Review of Room Nineteen.

Good on ‘em I guess. Looks like they rode a perfect storm of a populist/”real”/”down-to-earth” menu, which locals took to heart, which an evil food critic dared criticise, which everybody took personally in a city that’s a wee bit insecure, which fuelled their underdog status…

Important Public Announcement

Unless you want to make a 90 minute documentary of a sausage cooking, the Hyde Park barbies are rubbish.

Vented with my ill advised Grand Mal fit on pizza, I went to the Western Meat Packers-Roma Cup Italy Day races.

Horses – poor eating, poor adhesives, and poor investments.

Still, it was a beautiful sunny Perth day, an uninterrupted clear blue sky until somewhere in the hills appeared to catch fire. Swan draft middies tasted great and a few dozen of Perth’s Italian grandmother’s were kept out of mischief making traditional food. I had the Cotoletta Milanese roll, which was stupendous. A veal cutlet in a crunchy roll with cheese. I also bought some little doughy things, which I assumed were sweets but were in fact Zeppole. Zeppole is deep fried dough with anchovies in it. They make the ideal beer snack. Should be standard issue in pubs, see ya later chunky chips.

I’ve been enjoying a James Squire’s India Pale Ale every night this week and it made me wonder when relativist become a pejorative term. I mean the use of post-modernist as one is faintly ridiculous – like accusing someone of being a beatnik, but relativists?

I’d therefore like to argue that there are no bad beers only bad contexts. Slag off Emu Export as much as you like but if it were hot (the weather, not the beer -Jesus no!) and I were thirsty well then who knows what could happen. Actually, go back and read the Emu link – the intricate workings on the existentialist dichotomy of the human mind – justice for Emu.

I’m not the biggest fan of IPAs – too hoppy and I didn’t think much of the James Squires. I’ve since realised that this was because I was drinking it out of the bottle. Once I put it in a glass I ended up buying a carton of the stuff.

Rob at the IBS says


Firstly I never rate a beer direct from a can or bottle, use a glass and where possible make an attempt at using an appropriate clean glass. Of course having the exact glass recommended by the brewery is ideal but when I don’t have this, I use for example; a standard pint pub glass for lagers, stouts and English ales; a “chalice like” glass for Belgian Ales, and flutes or champagne glasses for Lambic beers. Make sure your beer is at the correct temperature and this does not mean “almost frozen”.

Here’s my possibly-read-it-somewhere-and-too-lazy-to-look-it-up theory. The flavour is too concentrated for the spout and hits the taste buds too hard – not unlike chugging a bottle of red. The glass gives it a bit of space. This would also explain why less challenging beers, like Corona or Miller, aren’t too bad out of a bottle at all.

As a sad footnote – apprently all the good beer glass manufacturers in Europe are closing down, so get them quick.

Good micro-shopping today. Kakulas Brothers on William Street in Northbridge ,with its barrels of staples with scoops, is a regular stop for me. It qualifies as one of my dream dictatorship state approved shops – forcing the masses to take account of what they’re eating from its basic form, not via some crap they’ve shoved in the microwave. Grabbed my regular [from left] Brazilian coffee beans, pistachio nuts and japanese peanuts. The coffee keeps me alive and the other two are handy if someone pops around for drinks and I’m caught short on food.

Jean-Claude Patisserie had just one tiny shop in Subiaco and often resembles the V.I. Lenin Electricity Plus Worker Power bakery with its queues. To remedy this, with impeccable Swiss logic, he’s found somewhere bigger and in a near invisible location. I went to the new one in 26 Oxford Close, West Leederville for the second time and bought some rye bread to try.

Much of the bread is organic. While I don’t regard organic as some magical talisman of goodness – it sends good signals. The first is it’s not easy to be certified organic as a farmer so the producer is making an effort. The second is that’s it’s more expensive so the baker doesn’t mind using quality as a marketing ploy. Now it could all be a fraud but you can only be so skeptical in life and it’s not hard to test the results.

The rye bread was gorgeous. Rye has a sour smell which doubles the sourness in butter. It also has a crunchy crust which takes longer to chew which means longer to sniff the aroma. Treat it like a wine and take deep breaths through the nose while eating.

3 slices – sated.

12 minutes shopping – happy.

Koeksister

What happened to Koeksisters? I used to love the sticky braided syrup dipped fritter things and then they vanished. Who knew they’re South African?

Anyone know where I can get some?

Were my house this easy.

Blogger keeps me in its grasp with the lazy man’s edict of – if you have a blog you don’t have to bark too.

Red Throated Emperor with Spinach

Monday fish day is back for me as a way of:

a) being healthy

b) stretching my fish parameters

c) observing the dictates of the Monday crucifixion sect.

The seafood market at Innaloo had already packed away the whole fish so I grabbed some Red Throated Emperor fillets. I’d never heard of it but may be related to Red Emperor via a breeding program with this guy.

This is from a recipe for Skipjack in the Western Angler Second Simple Seafood cookbook. The book’s proven indispensable for dealing with seafood over here. The recipes are easy, require few ingredients, build up a knowledge base, and only one has disappointed.

  • 400gm of fillets -chopped into 3x bite pieces
  • head of spinach (rinsed, rinsed and rinsed again and then roughly chopped)
  • 2medium onions – sliced
  • half a cup of water
  • 1tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs capers -chopped (didn’t have any)
  • salt and pepper
  • tasty cheese (used gruyere)

Grease a baking dish with some butter, put the spinach on the bottom, season, put the fish on, then the onion and then pour over the lemon juice and water. Cover the dish with foil and put in a 200C oven for 25 minutes. Take out the dish and sprinkle the cheese on top and return to the oven until the cheese has browned a little.

Easy and good. The capers would have added a little bit more flavour but the cheese was tops.

Shige

It’s been over a year since I’ve been back to Japan and I’ve been getting pangs of second-homesickness. Tsunami was full, Peko Peko closing early, and Yahachi too swish. Couldn’t be bothered with going into town so this left a small Japanese restaurant called Shige that I’d seen and wanted to try despite it being in Devil Devil country.

I wouldn’t be so exclusive as to call this a “real” Japanese restaurant but if your idea of a Japanese restaurant is some bloke standing behind a BBQ plate juggling, this would be an education. It’s very simple, a bar and a few tables but the cues are everywhere. The white-board with specials written on it, a counter-top sashimi case, the middle-aged owner-chef, and a clientele of friendly regulars. The menu made me all weepy with nostalgia.

Miso soup is a kind of bread test for my wife and passed. From there we had fried oysters kaki furai; dhufish tempura; fried tofu in broth agedashi doufu; the sashimi moriawase- with salmon, tuna, octopus, dhu-fish, and snapper; and finished with pickled cucumber and daikon (sob).

It was all very enjoyable – lacking only in a few of the more interesting Japanese garnishes. I tried the dhufish as it’s a local fish but good as it was, it’s too sweet for tempura. There were more things I wanted to try but you can only eat so much, so I’ll head back with a few more people before too long. Not too pricey and BYO with bottle-shop next door – go a dry white.

Very recommended, park under the Oyster Bar and you can enjoy a romantic after dinner stroll looking across the river.

Shige21 Mends Street, South Perth

Post dinner we stopped in at a party held by a bloke with a house with seemingly the same decor as when he was a student but with a 1000hp luxury speedboat he’d built in a shed out the back. Good to have priorities. Friends got their band together after 10 years. I’d assumed a jam but they’d decked themselves out with everything bar a rotating drum kit. Lights under bushels – they’d kept us from great 80′s style hard alt rock all this time – selfish bastards. Where’s Colonel Parker when you need him?

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

I’m knackered – no energy and multiple mouth ulcers – one photo you’ll be spared from this week. Soup.

The recipe is from the very useful Classic Chinese Cookbook by Yan Kit. I’m in no position to comment how Classic it is, but everything is well explained and the recipes pay attention to small things. The Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup is a good mixture of convenience and grading up – bit like buying a pizza base. The extra love comes in the chicken but could be skipped.

Chicken

Mince 400gm of free range chicken thighs -you can use a processer but a cleaver works out the rage. Mix in a pinch of salt and pepper; and 2tbs of sherry (out of Shaoshing wine). Sprinkle 2tsp Cornflour and stir in 6tbs water – 1tbs a time. Leave for 15 minutes and then mix in 2 tsp each of sesame and corn oil.

Soup

A can each of condensed cream chicken soup,creamed corn,and sweetcorn kernels – drained. Instead of the canned sweetcorn I used corn on the cob – slicing the kernel off with a paring knife. Gently heat the condensed soup mixing in 3 tins of water. When heated and mixed well, add the corn and creamed corn. Stir it in and bring to a low simmer.

Combining

Add a ladle of the soup to the chicken, mix and add it to the soup. Bring it slowly to the boil and then simmer for a minute.

Eggs

Two eggs lightly beaten with a pinch of salt . I used to try and create a raging vortex but it’s just as effective to pour the eggs in a thin stream, over the back of a fork, circling the soup. Turn off the heat and put the lid on.

Left to sit for a minute and then served.

I liked it but it could have been richer and a tin less of water might have done that. Didn’t make me feel much better, so popped down to the Herdies for a pint which did.

Check out the Ah Gu’s special surprise at umami. Best thing I’ve seen all week.

Berocca

What a week party people – Mary’s wedding, Jack’s birthday, Perth Blogger meet-up, and now our PM’s 30th anniversary! I’m running out of frocks.

Speaking of which, tomorrow’s the Bindaring Clothing Sale at the Claremont Showgrounds Gate 1 – proceeds go to the Australian Red Cross. Gates open at 9am. Be early and go hard – bargains to be had.

Update: Toni says the hot tip is to take a bag to shove your booty into. Also adds that her going has nothing to do with her being unable to buy clothing because of my boozing and recent string of bad luck at the dogs.

Wagged class last night to go to my first Perth blogger meet-up at the Criterion in town. The last time I was there I was a young barman wannabe doing a bit of work experience and distinguished myself by yanking out a tray of glasses from the rack and forgetting to grab the other end and so ended that career path.

Cheers to all who went for making it a much improved experience. Mark has the details of attendees at Twisted Hamster – follow the links – you’ll be glad you did.If this sounds like your bag and, these things are only the sum of their parts, go to the Perth Blog Wiki.

Also: the the free picture hosting service I use is not Picture Pail but Photo Bucket.

Finally, the potato wedges were good. However, my short arms kept the chips tantalisingly out of reach. Next time.

BTW: Richard coughed up for the ‘taters if I’m not mistaken. Good man.

Post Birthday

This is an old Keith Floyd recipe. A decade before the celebrity chef thing he was wandering around the world being a role model to impressionable young cooks. The important thing wasn’t flashy cosmopolitanism, or bold experiments but craftily knocking back two bottles of red while cooking. It’s little wonder he came up with this recipe which has been sitting in my recipe book, untested, for 12 years. The instructions aren’t too clear, which may have had more to do with me discovering bucket bongs than Keith’s cookbook. So it may not be a faithful reproduction and the original didn’t have black pudding.


  • 500gm of bacon – unsliced (ask the butcher) and cut into cm cubes
  • 6″ black pudding – cm slices
  • bottle of cheap red or leftovers if you’ve got them
  • 3 sprigs thyme; 1 sprig parsley; bay leaf
  • butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, i onion – chopped
  • a dozen free range eggs
  • a loaf of New Norcia rye bread-sliced toasted

Choose a big saucepan. Fry the bacon in a bit of the butter until nice and golden. Remove the bacon then and saute the onions and garlic until soft, pour in the wine and add the herbs and get it boiling. Put the bacon back in and keep boiling for about 15 minutes to reduce the wine. Meanwhile I fried the black pudding slices, adding it to the red wine a few minutes before it finished boiling – I didn’t want the salty blood taste to dominate.

Remove all the solids with a slotted spoon – keeping the bacon and black pudding warm in a tray in the oven.

Reduce the heat of the wine to a very gentle simmer and then add each egg with a ladle and leave to poach – I did 6 at a time.

Everyone got a piece of toast and one of the poached eggs, the bacon and black pudding was spooned over the egg and a bit of the red wine poaching liquid poured over. As this wasn’t quite unhealthy enough, I cooked up some excellent spicy Cacciatore sausages that I’d bought at the butchers at Herdies Fresh.

It was good hangover fare but the black pudding wasn’t to everyone’s liking and I may leave it out next time or just keep it for myself.

Jack’s First Birthday

A bit fuzzy in the morning but I’d been asked to help with the cooking so, no slacking. Wisely, Jack’s Mum and Dad managed to work in a grown-ups adult angle here so instead of having to make faces on iced milk arrowroot biscuits with jellybeans, I was given three legs of lamb.

I decided to do the butterflied shoulder… with them which would cut down on the roasting time and be easier on the barbie. If you saw me deboning the first leg you’d realise that butchers don’t deserve the verb “butcher”. The third one was better and I think the trick was to find the narrowest point of meat to bone and follow that, slicing and working the bone out. A bit of cutting here and there helps to flatten it out for a butterfly cut.

The marinade (olive oil; rosemary; parsley; thyme and garlic) and wrap in glad wrap is a great trick. The meat marinated for four hours before heading out to the barbie. Seared quickly on both sides, then each piece of meat put in a baking tray -kept off the bottom with some thick slices of potato and rosemary.

Problems started to appear. The barbie, even with the lid down just wasn’t getting hot enough. The top wasn’t roasting and, after 30 minutes, parts still weren’t close to being cooked. Half the problem was me opening the lid to have a look, but in a short cooking time you have to keep an eye on it and give it a basting with red wine and rosemary. I’d also explained to half a dozen people what I was doing and felt I’d built up some expectation that it wasn’t going to be a charred mess. The solution was to cut off the thicker bits and open them up; cook everything directly on the hotplate and then transfer what still needed cooking to the oven. Not smooth but it worked. Everything got a 15 minute rest under some foil. Meanwhile, no cornflour so just made a quick jus with the red wine, rosemary, beef stock and pan scrapings.

Butterflying the leg also has the advantage of being easy to carve. I carved up 2 legs in a couple of minutes ensuring it was perfectly rested, hot and ready to go. Could have picked a better time than half way through the second quarter of the Eagles game though. Bastards.

Doneness ranged from rare to medium, a little irregular, but offered a bit of choice. Other helpers came up with a whole ham, a heap of salads, roast vegetables, chicken drumsticks and 15 baguettes.

The lunch was great. Boozing continued, kids ran around in the vast yard. Young Jack proved highly amusing and I near as died with laughter as he got into the spirit of things with an I’m Jack Pollock, my paint is Heinz, and my face is my canvas routine.

Got a bit hungry later and discovered that the baguettes made by the Vietnamese baker in Kalgoorlie are excellent, and much later that the local pizza place does a good job with a crusty base and cheddar. Also lucky to have had the opportunity to try a bottle of 1990 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. I was full of it by then and described it as “wrapped in a thin layer of water which dissolves to reveal sharp lasting flavours”. I was probably right but shouldn’t drink so much if that’s what I’m going to come up with.

All in all a fantastic day cheers to Jack for a top party and his folks Ash and Moo for giving him a hand – may it be the first of many.

The Road to Kalgoorlie

I’ve had some good drives in my life – Vegas to LA in a Lincoln Town Car, winding seaside and mountain roads on Izu Penisula near Tokyo in a MX5/ Eunos Roadster/Miata, anything in my first few years of driving. The 600kms from Perth to Kalgoorlie at night wasn’t one. NOT to discourage people from making the trip, quite the opposite, but be prepared for a 100 mile no town scrubby stretch. Got things off to a good start with an intractable discussion on progressive tax rates but a few lollies, a dozen donuts and a few beers cheered things up.

The trip was slowed down by a 30 minute wait for a steakburger at Cunderdin as four of our orders plus a few phone-in takeaway pushed the kitchen to breaking point. Boredom reduced driver Greg to researching caffeine levels of drinks in the fridge while waiting. Good burgers though. Cunderdin has the distinction of having a real country pub built to look like a fictional one.

Got to Kal at 11:15PM. Our host, birthday boy’s Dad Ashley, not only stayed up for but kindly asked me at 12:30 if I’d like to go for a drink in town. Made it back two hours later having seen a stellar performance of young drunk dickheads v. hopeless bouncer. Only made it to two places – Kalgoorlie pubathon next time.

We stayed up to talk rubbish for while, keep everyone else awake, and finish off a bottle of very tasty Sam L Smith Organic Best Ale

Back from Kal with 13 hours in the car under the belt, so, knackered. Had a recuperative bowl of minestrone and made some apple. pear, celery and beetroot juice as penance. Mucho food and drink will post soon.

Here’s Saucy Jack -the birthday boy.

Kalgoorlie

Off to Kalgoorlie for the weekend, meaning a 6 hour after work drive possibly catching a steak sandwich at Merredin. Friend’s little one having his first birthday so I’ll be scoffing all the fairy bread, downing a few red cordials and then maybe see how many pubs I can visit.

Bolsheviks in the Bush

Interesting piece by Ross Fitzgerald on the winners and losers of the deregulation of food production. Place your bets then go have a look.

Search

Blog now officially outperforms the hardcover [paper] notebook I kept for years with recipes written down on it.

More convenience in the form of a search feature from Atomz. It’s just down there on the left. Marvellous. Now all I have to do is sort out why white on Mac is off-white in windows.

More pictures then I’ll settle down a bit. Photoshop brush seemed to have me in its grip as well.

As follows – premarination; improvised bookmarks; bouquet garni.



Vorsprung Durch Technic

I’ve long wanted to have pictures on my site and have been busy to that end. One of the major reasons was to give proper homage to this remarkable easter egg that one of my students made from scratch and then gave me to me.

Comments

Thanks to new facilities at blogger and a bit of prodding from Sedgwick I’ve now got comments. Mum, you know the drill.

The Naan who came in from the cold

More surprises. Apart from, with the exception of chicken teriyaki,having a taste at best OK, not being recommended for daily eating, misleading labelling, worrisome salt content and dodgy amounts of meat frozen Asian food is fine. Elsewhere in the Age, apparently you can’t make a few bad apples without breaking oranges. Twat.

Beef Bourguignon – home straight

Two and half hours – out comes the casserole pot, off comes the paper. Separated into three parts – meat, solids (veges, herbs, garlic), and juices.

Remove the beef with tongs. Next, in a fine strainer strain the juices into a bowl, pressing down on the solids to get as much juice out as possible. This time the solids went into the bin and beef and the juices were reunited in the casserole dish. The onions, lardons and mushrooms were added and the whole thing cooked over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

I ringed an earthenware pot with triangular wedges of toast, transferred the soilids and the poured the juices in.

Served with sourdough rolls and some thinly sliced and sautéed potatoes.

Friends come over and we had a few reds, some beers and, apropos of nothing, had an after dinner watching of my Led Zeppelin DVD. Need I say it was mint.

This is a long way about it all and needs time, but it was worth the effort and the weather was crap anyway. Must be chowder season soon.

Beef Bourguignon – raging lardons

A lardon is a cube of bacon and is one of the three garnishes.

Lardons The butcher kindly went out the back and got a length of bacon and cut me off a 250gn piece of bacon this got cut up into cm sized cubes. They were then put in a small saucepan and covered with cold water. Brought to the boil and simmered for an extra minute then drained and rinsed. Sauteed until golden brown..

Mushrooms350gm of small button mushrooms – wiped and stalk trimmed; 1tbs butter; 1tbs oil. Cooked over a high heat for about 5 minutes until the moisture had gone the seasoned.

Onions These were a bit more work and I could have handled a shortcut. 20 small pickling onions-peeled; 1tbs butter; 1tbs of sugar. Put the onions butter and sugar in the frypan and just covered them with water, brought to boil, simmered covered for 8 minutes. Then took the lid off and let it bubble away until the liquid went and then sautéed in a little butter until golden.

All covered with foil and then waited for the two and a half hours to be up.

Meanwhile made some French Onion soup. Actually the first dinner party dish I ever made many years ago as a first year Uni student. Had it with Trout Almondine and some bought Creme Caramel. Had to introduce myself to the neighbour and ask to borrow a corkscrew. You can find your own recipe but worth making your own bouquet garni and you don’t need stock – just water and white wine.

Beef Bourguignon has a little more to it than beef stew with red wine. I was hoping to get away with a link to an on-line recipe. Instead, I’m keeping as close to my, form of forms, Le Cordon Bleu cookbook as I can – the book bulges with years of dogged perfectionism and deserves respect. I stayed home last night to get the proper 12 hours of marinating. It’s now sitting in the fridge looking beautiful. Here’s what’s in there

1.5 kilograms of chuck steak sliced into 4-5cm cubes; 2 medium onions- sliced; 2 medium carrots – sliced; salt; 20 (yes 20) black peppercorns –crushed; 2 cloves of garlic –crushed; 10 stalks of parsley; 4 sprigs of parsley; a bay leaf; 3 sprigs of thyme; a splash of cognac; 1 bottle of clean skin cab sav.

Stage one done.

Old Swan Brewery

Clinging to the Swan River this weekend. I had lunch with my Mum at the Swan Brewery. It’s no longer the font of West Australian beer and hasn’t been for quite some time. For a long time it served as a fairly harmless shell of late Victorian Industrial Architecture with some lights that made the shape of a ship and a swan alternatively that was pretty interesting on my trips to Perth as a kid.

The development to it’s present state as a reconstructed complex of restaurants and million dollar apartments was as divisive a non-footy related local issue as I can remember.This piece from the time gives a rough idea of the mess. Was it worth it? Possibly if you’ve got one of those apartments otherwise, probably not.

The parking lot was built across the road after the original stables handily burnt down. So you cross over the busy two-lane road and into their beer garden. Service was slow and forget the cutlery type stuff. Brother-in-law had dhufish on mussels in a broth, which didn’t work, but my sister had Moroccan Chicken on tabouleh and eggplant, which was so excellent I didn’t get to have any of it. I had the salt and pepper squid – which was great for an entree size but the mayonnaise was a little heavy for a light dish. The weather was gorgeous and I enjoyed the pale ale, which they make there but don’t seem to have anywhere else.

Better pubs by the water in Perth but given the threat of them being stuffed up, ironically the same company that worked so hard to get this one built, we may have to take what we can get.

Meads – Mosman Park

Tucked in a quiet scenic elbow of the Swan river, Meads is one of the more highly rated Perth restaurants. It was supposed to be a small tea room where barefoot kids could buy ice-creams, but, against the protestations of the well to do in the area, became a place where plebs like me enjoy the area other than by faffing around on a surf ski.

A family get together post funeral, it got off to an unusual note with the Slovak beer I ordered coming a bottle with a page 5 girl on it, shielded only by scratch and win paint.I resisted the temptation to scratch and instead wondered if the intricacies of global logistics had left a Hooters restaurant in Texas short a pallet of beer. Despite the odd start and the sad pretext the meal went well.

I shared the blue cheese oysters with Toni – breaded and cooked in their shells. The wine, a second from the bottom choice, was exceptional – a local Stella Bella Semillon Sauvignon . Clear in colour and very crisp it got a second order. The menu looked straightforward and could have been blandly done but wasn’t. I had the Cajun Snapper on a potato cake with, what I think was a lemony hollandaise. I haven’t had anything Cajun for a long time but I was happy with my choice. Cajun spices provided one sharp note of hotness which lingered for a while – especially as I cleaned out the remnants from between my teeth. Of the 7 mains, all were enjoyed. The finish was a sticky date pudding, which, being faithful to it’s reinvention as nostalgic comfort food, had a strong but pleasant taste of Golden Syrup.

Not a cheap night out obviously but worth saving up for and as we walked out I saw a mum with her two pre-teen sons having dinner. Must have come for the ice-cream.

Plain Mushroom Omlette

Omlettes are my Roadrunner. I’m still yet to get there, but today I came closer to working them out.

I’ve been revisiting my copy of Le Cordon Bleue at Home recently and I discovered that they use neither milk nor water. I had to reread it to clear up my years of misapprehension and yes, no.

So the omlette became: 7 Golden Valley free range eggs, a tbs of melted butter, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper very lightly beaten and left. Meanwhile I grabbed a few field mushrooms and sliced them thickly and cooked them in olive oil until just yielding. The mushrooms would be added to the omlette half way through cooking.

This is as simple as it gets so I had time to think about the cooking. The secret is in the differential between the perfectly cooked base and the still a little runny top. The heat is crucial and so a thick pan helps to keep the heat steady. The runniness is enhanced by a quick shake of the pan while the omlette cooks.

Sadly the into thirds fold over and flip was a failure but the taste was good, I put that down to the eggs. The combination of heat and texture of the baked outside, the soft inside and the mushrooms was a happy one, perhaps the best yet. I’m getting there.

Jellied Eels Retraction

Sorry about the previous post. I was just introducing a colleague to the wonders of blogging and must have actually posted my example of how to post. I deny having had eels, jellied or otherwise in the past 24hrs and will vigorously pursue any allegations to the contrary.

Today I tried a

Nooooooooooooooooohhhhh!

Guh. 6 pack of Coopers discovered in the freezer.

Is there an enterprising young man or woman out there who’d like to develop the following: magnetic timer in bright yellow with a big red button that screams like a banshee after 30 minutes. I don’t know call it Beer Guardian or something – 15% that’s all I ask.

Had take away Thai the other night from Jariya’s Thai up the road on Cambridge and Birkdale Streets [good!]. The Massaman Beef was particularly good. This led to a chat about what makes stewed meat so tender and a doctor friend (saying that reminds me of the old joke about the Jewish mother “My son – the lawyer – is drowning”) mentioned collagen which intrigued me. So a quick bit of research led me to this wonderful site. Have a read.

If I’ve got this right, using older tougher cuts of meat for braising isn’t their last hope but ,rather, it is where they excel. Got a couple of half full bottles of red, I’ll have to experiment with Beef Bourguignon when current assignment is over.

Who are the people…

Noticed “a sites near me” link on Robert Corrs’ website and my curiosity led me to a feature called “Geo URL”. Apologies to these who’ve known of this for years but the little green button near the bottom of the left frame shows who is within a hundred mile radius that’s registered on it with a site. This reminded me that, while the net is global, our lives are local and I’m not the only punter in Perth with a computer and a phone line. Not to detract from anyone else, but one site fried my eyes with its quality of design. Karen Cheng’s site is a site which makes me wish I hadn’t seen it because I’ve just seem how high the bar can go on blogs and, on topic, she also has time to do good stuff with food. I’ve more exploring to do and will post local sites under the Corner Delis heading. Please take a look.

Chopper

Knives are what I enjoy most about cooking, as well as being functional and testaments to good work, they are penis substitutes non pareil. Just finished reading a collection of essays by Jeffrey Steingarten’s It must have been something I ate and in one of his essays he works to the conclusion that chastity is, not lost so much on the wedding bed, but symbolically in the cutting of the (white) wedding cake. Insecure Australian men thrilled when Paul Hogan triumphed with “That’s not a knife”. In the flicks, knives are also the weapons of choice of impotent sexual predators. I just use mine for dicing onions. Here’s me taking a break from julienning carrots.

A knife is worth saving for and one decent knife, can do the job of many. My Chef’s knife shares the same birthday as the Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo all those years ago and is still in immaculate condition. It could be all I needed but where’d the fun be in that.

In my kitchen-

  • 26cm Wusthof Trident French Chef’s knife – does everything. Long enough to get some good leverage when mincing. Precise and the tip is good for finer work.
  • #6 Brieto M11pro Cleaver – the other desert island choice, has the advantage of being able to be used for tenderising and is great for scooping up choppings to put them in the pan. It’s from Japan and quite a work of art, one piece with a dimpled handle like the Global knives. Not for chopping bones as I found out with some chops. Only just finished sharpening out the dents in it. I used to have just a cheap one from an Asian supermarket and that worked well for what it was.
  • Dexter Russel Butcher’s knife – good for boning (there we go again), trimming meat and carving. Evil sharp. Provides reassurance that however poorly my career goes I’ll always be able to eat.
  • 4″ Zwilling Paring knife – fiddly work – peeling Kiwi fruit etc.
  • Bread knife – doesn’t have to be flash but will still do a better job than a cleaver on a loaf of bread.
  • Japanese yanagi long sashimi knife – bought this in a small shop in Kappabashi in Tokyo. Sharpens quickly and rusts easily – that’s the trade off. Poetry when it slides through a piece of tuna in one fluid draw back motion.
  • Japanese deba fish knife – this is like a heavy wedge – the yanagi bocho doesn’t go anywhere near anything tougher than an unripe avocado but this will happily decapitate a snapper.
  • Steel – should be at least as long as the blade of your knife.

And that’s it. I regret not buying a Japanese usuba vegetable knife but I don’t know how long it would have taken me to peel a daikon (giant radish) into one long continuous sheet. It was a marvel to watch. I also wish I had an excuse to get a Global knife, they’re comfortable, sharp, and design classics. Maybe some steak knives.

What do you have in your cupboard?

As a rule of thumb, the less time up and down the aisles of a supermarkets, the better the home cooking. Not to bag the whole Woolies experience, keep to the edges and you’re less likely to feel like Chicken Tonight, Chicken Tonight.

Steve Gilliard strays from politics and has an interesting post on stocking up with food.

Anzac Biscuits

I thought I was doing my patriotic duty by having mutton but Helen at Blogger on a Cast Iron Balcony has the recipe for Anzac biscuits. Anzac biscuits were the fundraising biscuit of choice for the Anzac troops in WW1, hence the name.

While you’re there, have a read of this and then go bang your head against the wall until you feel better.

Roast Mutton

Mutton. Mutton. Mutton. It’s meat that tastes like meat.

I roasted a leg of it on the weekend and cooked it the traditional way with a few tweaks.

Take 1 leg of mutton and trim off any papery “skin” and excess fat. Use the knife to make about 8 holes the size of a quater of a clove of garlic in the meat.

Into each hole insert: a quarter of a clove of garlic; a sprig of rosemary;a sprig of thyme; and spoon in a bit of black olive tapenade if you’ve got it.

Then rub the leg with olive oil and season with pepper and sea salt.

Place in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes and then up it to 200C. This took me about 60 minutes all up, but there was a fair bit of messing about with the oven door open while I tried to squeeze in the potato gratin. After 40 minutes give it a poke with a skewer and as soon as the juices turn clear, yank it out. Cover it with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. This is important. The juices run in terror from the heat to the middle and then, when the heat has gone they creep back to the outer bits. It’s also important to make sure the leg has defrosted properly. This really means letting it defrost in the fridge but you can hurry the process by leaving it in the oven with the heat off but the fan on. The more constant the temperature through it, the more even the cooking. Also, while I’m on the hints, put the roast on a rack or rest it on some 15mm potato slices (what I did) if it sits on the pan, it’ll stew, rather than roast.

I made my usual jus/gravy – some spring onion whites chopped and sauteed in butter, followed by some chopped mushrooms. When cooked, add a cup of beef stock, and a cup of wine, bring to the boil. Drain the fat off the roasting pan and add the stock etc. to the pan, deglazing. Reduce the stock over a high heat and thicken with cornflour mixed in a little water.You can whisk in a bit of butter at the end.

The dinner was served with roast potato and sweet potato along with brussel sprouts. The womens weekly cookbook told me to cut a cross in the stem and then boil in lightly salted water for 8 minutes. Making sure to peel the darker leaves off the outside. I also made a potato gratin. Can’t be arsed typing it up but I didn’t have enough milk so I substituted some buttermilk and it wasn’t too bad.Think potatoes and sour cream.

Down South

More roving about. This time we headed north towards Dunsborough and drove around until we magically found ourselves at the Bootleg Brewery. It’s well designed for spending an afternoon there and they’re quite serious about their beers. I just had time for their new Pale Ale. I enjoyed it and thought it was a good choice for anyone who thought the Little Creatures Pale Ale was a little on the sweet side.

I should have taken my time. The second brewery, Wicked Ale is a work in progress I hope. The wheat beer was watery and the dark beer they had was like one of my own home brews on an average day (not good). Novelty beers like chilli beer can’t do it any favours. Ah well.

The good thing about this was stumbling across Yallingup Woodfired Breads. There was a sign on the road and we turned and pulled in only to find the place deserted. We walked up to the door to find some bread on a table with the note “back at 3, please try the bread”. There was a small jar for money, a few more loaves for sale, and two loaves for tasting with a board and a knife. Snatching the money, we jumped back into the Volvo, snapping the car into the reverse and tearing down the road with a rooster tail of dirt pluming behind us. Ha! Actually, no we found both of the anonymous breads fantastic, one, I think, was a rye bread and the other was a pumpernickel. I can’t remember the last time I had bread this good, maybe I haven’t. The bread is organic and free of artificial additives and obviously made by somebody who has made their bread the result of their principles and outlook. I can’t recommend the bread highly enough. We bought two loaves and left our money in the jar. The bakery is on the corner of Biddles and McLachlan Road, Dunsborough.

In the afternoon we got a Barbie going out the front with some wood and a steel plate on some bricks and cooked up our sausages, a few lamb chops, sweet potato, salad, and some red snapper cooked in foil with parsley, butter, and a few slices of lime.

Down South

South is the cooler woodier part of Western Australia. Usually I bludge a spot at the beach town of Dunsborough but this time I’m staying at the small village/town of Cowaramup. It’s about 300km south of Perth and slightly inland. It seems further than the than the three hours it takes. I blame the removal of such former interesting features as the drive past the tanneries and the need for a desperate 5 car overtake into the flashing lights of an oncoming truck. Now the trip is all housing estates and dual carriageways. Cowaramup is also about 10 minutes north of Margaret River. Which is pronounced -” We’re going to [slight pause][rise in volume]Ma[extended]garet River”. Margaret River is a nice little unassuming town, but for some people you’d think they were going to a gated enclave for the special. The town really could just be a stake in the ground with a strip of tape tied to it. What it signifies, is wine country.

Sitting here at the (wince) Udderly Divine in Cowaramup and watching the traffic go by, it’s obvious that the town, for most people, functions as a traffic calming device. This is a shame. Despite being small and surrounded by cows, it’s completely self sufficient for good food. The cafe I’m at has great coffee and the apple and walnut muffin were superb. It has a fudge factory. A Country Store (yes I picked up on the redundancy) with fresh local produce. A gourmet delicatessen with cheeses, breads, spreads, oil and so on- it’s range compact and superb.As well as a couple of wine tasting places. I’d add that it only lacks for seafood, but apparently the Meat Specialist here has fish Fridays. It’s a great town and the only thing stopping me from pushing it harder is the fact that I don’t have a large block of land to sub-divide here.

Cowaramup is also a good point to explore from and that’s what we did yesterday.

Olio Bello: Olio Bello is apparently owned by a wealthy American who liked it here and set up an olive farm. Olive farms have the whiff of tax scheme about them, but this one seems very earnest. The olives are grown organically, as are a number of others such as stone fruits, avocados, and macadamias. The oils are available for tasting, as are a few tapanades. Their Romanza Olive Oil is very nice and on the sweet side but I ended up buying their Nuovo Olio as something different. Most oils are allowed to settle and then are tapped off. This one is more or less pressed straight into the bottle. It’s rough,and tastes like you’re chewing leaves but very likable. We also bought some of their black tapenade which was strong flavoured and tasty for it.

Margaret River Venison: Along with grilled rooster testicles, one of my more memorable food challenges was raw Venison in the south of Japan. This wasn’t thinly sliced carpaccio but raw cubes that look like they’d been hacked off the hindquarters of a still bleeding doe. It was surprisingly nice and was closer to the tuna that I hadn’t expected it would have been like, than the raw beef it wasn’t. Maragaret River Venison probably doesn’t do venison sashimi and I wasn’t going to ask them for it but they do get a wide range of food products from their deer. All the usual cuts as well as sausages and smallgoods (are sausages smallgoods?) I walked out with their Venison Prosciutto – richly coloured and gorgeous, and some sage apple and venison sausages.

Tassell Park Wines I had gone off the Margaret Wine tasting experience shifting my loyalties further East, towards Mt. Barker. I found the tastings around here less than fun, just part of one long chain of cars pulling in, trying the range of wines, and maybe picking up a token bottle or two. The tasting hosts had that kind of glazed over tour guide feel “… and this is where Davy Crockett is said to have…”. I also had trouble finding anything I thought was particularly worth shelling out the bucks they were asking for. This put me in the dilemma of guilt for not having bought anything or annoyed buying something I didn’t really want.

This left me reluctant to pop into the wineries. I got lost somewhere East of Margaret River and then made a large loop back to Cowaramup. Just before getting back, I noticed Tassel Park Wines, had a good feeling and reversed the car 50 metres back down the road. We wandered in and the room smelled of mulled wine and the owner came out from the back in his wine stained pants and asked if we’d like to try some of his wines. He opened 6 bottles of wine for us for tasting and an hour later we left. It was really pleasant. He talked about his plans for a Port and a new variety of grape he’d planted. There was also a nice concern as to what we thought of it, like he’d just pulled it out of the oven. It was an education and we reciprocated a little by telling him what we knew about the Japanese wine market. The wines were good too – Toni liked the twin decked Cabernet Merlot. I find bargains unavoidable and bought a case of the 2001 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a great white, being both crisp and smooth but, after bottling, the batch suffered from small calcium crystallisation – tiny “diamonds” in the bottom of the bottle. They don’t affect the wine but cause trouble when selling it from bottle shops “-ere there’s bits in it”. I got what I thought was the best of their four whites for less than half of what they might have cost otherwise. I might offload half to some friends but will probably end up drinking it all. Myself. Alone.

We said goodbye to the husband and wife team, promising to come back for the Port, and went back to Cowaramup. We bought some baguettes from the deli and had them with the olive oil, the prosciutto, and the tapenade. We had met our makers.

For a bit of context – go here

This is an interesting spin by the Japanese on the pancake. Okonomiyaki roughly translates as “as you like it cooked” as there are a range of filling/toppings. This leads to it be wrongly imagined as “Japanese Pizza”. As a home cooking experience it really just stretches the parameters on pancakes but it’s much more interesting as an eating out experience. Many of the Okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan are do-it yourself. You sit down at a table with a metal hotplate in the middle, order from a range of the batter and ingredients mixes, and then cook it on the hotplate while drinking beer from big mugs. I know going to a restaurant and having to do the cooking is a little self-defeating but, then again, the Japanese also developed self-performed performances with Karaoke and made suicide and integral part of warfare.

Now we’re going to have to depart a bit from authenticity here. One reason is we don’t have a key ingredient – yamatoimo. Yamatoimo recently appeared as the surprise ingredient in Iron Chef last Saturday and is a kind of yam. Once ground down, it has almost no flavour, and the texture of phlegm. Another reason is that it’s a simple concept so it should be kept simple.

Batter: 1 cup plain flour; 1 cup of water (or weak dashi if you have it); 2 eggs; a little salt – mix as for any other batter. Adjust for consistency.

Things to add to the batter: chopped cabbage; chopped spring onions- greens & whites; corn – mix in with the batter but too much of these and it stops being battery and become more like batter coated vegetables and it’ll fall apart when cooked.

Features: chopped octopus and prawns are great but I used some chopped squid and some chopped pork – the fatty rib bits.

Heat up a frypan, with some vegetable oil, and then cook half a cup of squid, when it’s almost done, remove and then pour in some of the batter, and then scatter the squid on top. It should be ab out bread plate size and about 2cm thick.

Flip when cooked underside. Cook and then flip again. Smear some sauce* on top, cook for a little longer. Pop on a plate, and cut into pieces. Serve with more sauce and some mayonnaise on top and some crushed dried nori if you’ve got it.

Repeat with the pork and so-on until you’ve run out of stuff.

*The sauce is called Bulldog Sauce but you can make something similar with

1/4 cup of tomato sauce, 1.5 tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard, 1 tsp soy sauce

Heat gently, stirring, until it reaches a simmer and the remove from the heat.

How safe is that steak?

This article in the Age started off like it was going to be a “jeez we’re the best in the world” type article on Aussie beef production but push on and it comes up with some worthwhile stuff on hormones, chemicals, and clueless butchers. This part pleased me the most-



And finally, I’d make sure the beef I was eating was pasture-fed, not lot-fed. I know today’s chefs love the big, fat flavour of 300-day grain-fed Wagyu beef, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: Between 1999 and 2001, Queensland beef farmer Deb Newell ran a series of national beef tastings using farmers, restaurateurs, chefs and journalists (disclosure – I was one). During those three years we tasted countless pieces of pasture-fed and grain-fed beef. At the end, there was a unanimous preference for the flavours of pasture-fed beef.

Free the cows.

In the garden

Look it’s not that hard to make a herb garden and dried herbs have all the charm of petrol huffing. Currently in the garden are

  • Basil – size 14
  • Thyme – manageable
  • Sage – steady
  • Coriander – one of those depressing 19th Century tombstones with an infant on it
  • Rosemary- limping along, continents move
  • Blue Basil – barely made it out of the car
  • Italian Parsley- has been footy star
  • Mint – reappeared two feet away
  • Fennel – now gone lived well

Haloumi

Haloumi is a Mediterranean cheese that doesn’t melt*. This makes it interesting in itself but it also opens up a few interesting options for cooking. It cooks like meat and tastes like cheese so you can use it, for example in kebabs, or you can slice it and cook it on the barby for an easy entree.

I thought I’d treat it like tofu and pan fry it. First thing was to slice the haloumi into fish finger width slices and give them a quick rinse to lose some saltiness. Next was to mix up 2 parts flour with one part cornflour along with some fresh thyme and a bit of pepper. Then I heated up some olive oil in a pan with a chopped clove of garlic. Once the garlic started to colour, I dusted the haloumi in the flour mix and then put it in the pan and cooked it until golden.

Just served it with some toasted rye bread, tinned sardines, and a glass of sherry. To save on dishes, a neat trick is to take the lid off the sardines and cook them in the tin, on the burner, until heated through.

*I assumed that what made cheese melt was its natural quality of meltiness. A cheese that doesn’t melt contradicts this. The answer is, more or less here

Limoncello

After a few racy posts yesterday I needed a stiff drink and thought I’d try some of the Limocello I’d been given with the instructions to keep the bottle in the freezer and to drink it straight from a frozen glass. Making for a good aperitif, it tastes much like a sweet lemony vodka. I found out it is actually that and if you’re looking for a home project, you could always try this.

I attempted this kind of home made booze in Japan. This is the traditional plum wine called umeshu. You make it by putting green plums and rock sugar in a jar and then filling the jar with a kind of Japanese vodka called shochu and then leaving it for a few months. It’s like a beefed up sherry and you can eat the plums as well. With a 2 litre batch it also means you’re not going tofind yourself short on drinks around the house for a while. Pictures of making it are here.

Why thanks for noticing

New code a month. Handy

Well Bugger Me

My family name causes a few problems because of its obscurity. It’s actually Anglicised Bulgarian dating back to my Great Grandfather who came here from Bulgaria when the Bulgarians were allied to the treacherous Hun and therefore none too popular. A translation of Candide and a quick google with -what was I thinking-”Bulgar Buggery” took me to www.fact-index.com confirming that my ancestral homeland’s contribution to the language is


buggery originated in medieval Europe and was an insult used to describe the rumoured same sex sexual practices of the heretical residue around the Bulgar region (in what is today known as Bulgaria). The Bulgars were one of the last European tribes to hold “heretical” forms of Christianity and so because of the rumoured link between celibacy and anal sex they were labelled in this way.

I thought the expression “heretical residue” was a nice touch. If only we’d invented karaoke or algebra or something.

Coopers Heritage Premium Ale

I bought a 6 pack of Coopers Heritage Ale and found it one of the nicer locals I’d had of late. I was about to give it a write it up when a bit of research led me to stumble across Beer Ratings. A quick read took me back to my days as an horrendous music snob- if music writers are frustrated musos then pity the frustrated music writer. Anyone who’s read an indy ‘zine or Hi-Fidelity will recognise the features but it may be missed how much of a template they are for obsessive male behaviour.

If I weren’t so lazy I’d do a separated at birth type thing but the features should be obvious. Go here and have a quick game of bingo

  • lengthy noun clauses
  • accusations of selling out
  • accusations of cashing in
  • old stuff better
  • bagging imagined target audience
  • lack of perspective
  • invitations to acts of a sexual nature

Sad or, as Heath Sensei put it more sagely to a Ducati loving boy, “loving something very much is a good thing but it doesn’t mean you have to hate other things”.

Butter your Muffins

TBogg has a muffin recipe using Reeces Peanut Butter Cups. RPBC’s are easily the finest candy treats in the US, don’t know why they never made it over here, maybe a little on the sweet side.

Eggs Poached in Pasta Sauce

Easy brekky. This is kind of my bastardised manticore like version of Huevos Rancheros.

A bit of olive oil in a medium sized frypan and then a tub of garlic tomato pasta sauce with a couple of dried chillies in it. Heated through and then 3 eggs broken equidistantly on top of the sauce with a sprinkle of tabasco. Left to simmer for a while before I popped a lid on to speed things up. When the eggs were done, served on a couple of bits of toast.

Easter Smoked Cod Pie

I guess if pushed I’d have to line up as some kind of agnostic Anglican but, to be honest, Easter has about as much spirtual significance for me any of the number of other religious festivals that fall around this time of year. My funniest memories of Easter would be my Dad eating salami on Good Friday to provoke us into pleas of stopping lest he be struck down in front of the fridge. He never was, but as somebody who strictly observed “Smoked Eel Day” in Japan, I’ve a soft spot for food related traditions. Daytime telly pointed me in the direction on this recipe and a chance stopping at at Seafood Van with smoked cod on the way to the farm led me to this recipe .

It extends a very traditional recipe just far enough with the capers and the lemon. I only made a couple of changes. As well as smoked cod, I used some dhufish fillets and the meagre haul of yabbies we caught.

Became part of a very long and enjoyable lunch which stared about 11:30 with a beer and finished 12 hours later in a beanbag.

Footnote: Dhufish is also wrongly called Jewfish. So to help out with this this campaign the fish has nothing to do with Jews.

Catch-up

Trying to catch up on a few recipes after some light blogging so posts won’t have a lot to do with real time for a few days. BTW the satire’s a bit laboured but anything with rabbit in it has to be good from an Australian perspective. With the good people at Sadly, No! Cassoulet Lapin au Romarin

Raita

Easy peasy. My small contribution when a friend had cleverly made some curry which became a fallback for the Muntadgin Pub not opening its kitchen on Saturday.

5 lebanese cucumbers – chopped into grapes sized pieces; 2 crushed garlic cloves; 2tbs chopped mint; sliced whites of 3 spring onions; 2 cups plain youghurt

Kabli Channa – Curried Chick Peas

Margaret Fulton is to be thanked for this recipe. She is a kind of Grand Dame of Australian cooking and it was her slim book on Indian cooking that I bought many years ago after I’d promised to do an Indian dinner party for a friend. The book is detailed but amazingly impersonal, I don’t think there’s a single “I” or gushy reference to the romance of India in the whole thing, let alone an account of being violated, possibly metaphorically, in a cave. Regardless, the dishes work well. For some reason, the smell of bacon doesn’t do it for me any more, but for olfactory jollies , the cooking-spices-in-oil technique of Indian food is up there.

Chick peas are great and I should have them more often but getting my crap together and soaking them the night or the morning before is just too hard. Just give them a wash and soak them – apparently, the longer you soak them, the less of a danger you become in confined spaces.

Now

250gm Chick Peas and 3 cups of water with a little salt and simmer until the chick peas are tender. Drain but reserve the water for later.

Heat 2tbs oil (or ghee) and then add a chopped onion and fry until coloured. Add four cloves and an inch of cinnamon stick and fry for a few seconds before adding 2 crushed garlic cloves; 1 inch of ginger-chopped; 2 green chillies – chopped finely; and 2 tsp of ground coriander and fry for 5 minutes. Add one chopped tomato and cook until the liquid’s gone.

Add the chick peas and cook gently for 5 minutes. Then add the reserved water and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add 1 tsp garam masala and stir well. Top with some chopped coriander.

A bit dry on it’s own and could have done with a saucier accompaniment.

Cantillon Cherry Lambic

I picked this up from the International Beer Shop, henceforth IBS, on the recco that it was dry. Lambics are what people should be drinking instead of RTDs and are a little on the sweet side. This one was incredibly sour – not a common taste in our food lexicon and the sourest thing I’d had since umeboshi. I’m struggling to think of a food match with it but it is unique.

Chicken Liver Paté

Paté had been on my food-to-try list for a while and I’ve been having some great paté recently. A simple recipe came up in the latest Vogue Entertaining that looked worth a try. The only modification I ended up making was to marinate the livers in a little brandy for an hour before cooking and throwing in a few green peppercorns. Chicken livers are no fun but I enjoyed making the quatre epicés. Took me back to fussier days in cooking and and a reminder that it’s worth the effort for the aromas tossed up. It also resolved misnomer problems with this blog where I decided to call it. Spiceblog on a whim without thinking that I’m more of a herb person. Still, the name does scan well.

The paté was well received. It’s very understated leaving the cloves to dominate. A little more brandy may not have done any harm.

Anyway here’s the recipe

One onion -sliced thinly; and one clove of garlic – chopped. Both cooked over a gentle heat in 40gm of butter until soft and slightly browned. Put in blender but hold on blending just for now.

300gm of chicken livers – trimmed of their connective tissue. Marinated in a little brandy for 30 minutes – impatience prevented longer. I messed up a tad and seasoned the livers with 2tbs quatre epicés* and a sprinkle of salt just after adding them to another 40gm of butter rather than before pureeing. Cooked for five minutes or so on a medium heat, stirred often – should be cooked but pink in the middle. Add to the blender.

*quatre epicés 4 parts peppercorns and 1 part cloves – ground; 1 part ginger powder; one part grated nutmeg.

Increase the heat in the pan and add 1/4 cup of brandy cook for three minutes scraping the pan to “deglaze”. Halfway through I added a teaspoon of green peppercorns. Add to the blender.

Now you can blend until smooth. Put in ramekins with a layer of butter poured on top and then refrigerated for at least 2 hours.

Served with toast.

Au revoir toffee nut crunch

Half way through a bagel the other day, I noticed one of my molars seemed to be missing a bit and that I’d lost a filling. Off to the dentists to join the wait around and see what happens queue. Didn’t take too long but all the dentist could do was put in a temporary filling until I can get a root canal in two weeks time. Everyone was massively apologetic about the cost of it all, even with private health insurance. For a low post rebate $15 I could have had an extraction, saving myself $85 in the process. Dentists must be a sore point with people’s wallets here. No teeth, no mastication and with this in mind there’s little point complaining about a few bucks every and putting my back out every now and then.

Omlette with Sage and Asparagus

Went for the simple here and stuffed it by overdosing with pepper. That’s what happens when you get an electric grinder with a built in flashlight – too much excitement. As for the rest though, 5 eggs with a few sage leaves from the garden and a splash of milk and a bit less pepper than I used. Halved the asparagus lengthwise and cooked them in a pan with seom olive oil. Omlette cooked as per usual with the asparagus lain in the middle.

Sage didn’t really do it and may be better used elsewhere, also I’m thinking less is more with the amount of mix used. Too much and by the time the inside the cooked the bottom is overcooked.

Thirsty John’s wine choices bagged

Beef Stroganoff with Gnocchi

Beef Stroganoff was part of many a 70′s kitchen repertoire and I think it’s Russian although I’ve also suspected it may simply be a complete fabrication -made as part of a drive to culinary globalisation. It is in fact Russian and was made by Serge Stroganoff for Catherine the Great as a way of syncretizing French and Russian food. There you go.

This was an off the cuff supermarket decision after my promised attempt at a chick-pea curry was thwarted by forgetting to soak them again. The recipe that follows is a little compromised by my poor memory.

Topside steak thinly sliced and dusted with flour; chopped onion; butter. Onion goes in first and softened, followed by the beef, and then some sliced button mushrooms. When the beef is nearly cooked add a tablespoon of tomato paste and half a cup of beef stock. Once heated through, in goes a cup sour cream. well it would have gone in if I hadn’t bought normal cream by mistake. This can’t be the way to do it but I chucked a bit of lemon juice in the cream and it seemed to work. Heated through and peppered to taste.

Usually served with fettucine but I thought gnocchi would make a nice change and it did.

A neighbour appeared at my door to come good on a promise to get me a Kryptonics tape. I was chuffed and asked him to join us for dinner. The Kryptonics were a Perth band in the mid-Eighties and provided one of those rare brain is melting with how good this is type music. The song I’ve been hunting for years was “Oedipus Complex” which is burnt on my brain as

Baby [kwang kang] I’m not into bestiality,

but baby [kwang kang] you can be my sacred cow.

How did this band vanish of the face of the earth? A good chance for recommending the Spin exhibition at the Western Australian Museum. May write about it later.

Roux

Hot discussion on roux at Crooked Timber

Fonix

Apologies for an appalling attempt at spelling Mc Chouffe

Apparently La Chouffe is better still.

Belgian Cafe amongst others

Anniversary today and Toni was being a saint by looking after two little kids from 6am while their Mum was taking a break by doing the Rosie O’Grady triathlon. By the time she’d got back, we decided we should go for breakfast. This turned into a debacle after Cottesloe was filled by people scurrying westwards with a bit of sunshine. We then seemed to miss every other breakfast serving we tried and ended up on the docks of Fremantle eating overcooked eggs, listening to bagpipes just to stave off food rage. A slice of lemon brulee and a vanilla milkshake elsewhere later made up for it.

Dinner was a better effort with a trip to the Belgian Beer Cafe. On the beer front, I had the beer of the month Judas ,which was exceptional in its depth and length of taste; and the Duval which is often good but too sharp for dinner. Toni had the Hoegaaden Grand Cru which was a little blonder and a little sweeter than the Judas but just as exceptional and a better choice for her scallops. We shared some bread with chicken live pate and onions for entree. I had the pork knuckle for main. More like a shank, it had been smoked and then slow roasted with an apple and balsamic glaze served on stoemp – mash with bacon and cabbage. The pork had a strong smoky salty taste and it was a good match for a strong beer. A lager would have just been a palate cleanser.

Cooking breakfast myself next year.

Saturday night snacks

The plan was to have friends over, eat, and then head out to check out a band. Didn’t see the band but did eat though. A wok burner is very handy, it allowed me to both cook the satay sticks and deep fry the spring rolls outside thus remaining sociable. Friend brought over a bottle of Belgian Beer called Mc Choof (sp?) as strong as it was tasty. Comes in a champagne bottle and has a picture of Greg Sheridan on the front.

Satay Chicken

Marinade:2tsp grated ginger, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1tbs palm sugar, 2 tbs sesame oil, 2 tsp chili paste, juice of 2 limes

Chop two free range chicken breasts into small skewer sized pieces and then marinade for one hours. At the same time, pop the wooden skewers into some water to soak to prevent them burning later. Next skewer the chicken. I kept it to about an inch on each skewer for a couple of reasons. First, makes for easier dipping in the sauce and secondly, it makes for a better eat drink eat drink eat drink cycle and less like a meal.

Cooked on the BBQ grill and served with the peanut satay sauce which was half a cup of coconut milk with a couple of tbs of peanut paste and -this is important- the remaining marinade. Just heat and stir in a saucepan until thickened.

The recipe came from an anonymous Backyard BBQ Cookbook which has often proven handy. In retrospect I’d probably halve the number of ingredients to maybe just lime, chili and ginger but the marinade made for a more complex satay sauce so maybe not.

Spring Rolls in Lettuce

Too easy. Deep fry some spring rolls and some Thai Vermicelli Noodles and then everybody just grabs a lettuce leaf as a wrap with a bit of sweet chili sauce.

Sausage Bagel Brekky Burger

In serious need of greasy stodge after getting lost running around the paths in Bold Park.

Halved a bagel and then open topped it with the aoli I had left, some cheddar, halved chippolatas, and an egg fried in olive oil with a bit of pepper.

A life in balance.

Aioli

I’ve realised the last thing involving me getting off my arse and cooking was an age ago and this week I’ve done nothing ‘cept smoothies. I did though quickly make some aioli last Sunday. Commercial mayo is sugary crap and it takes 3 minutes to make your own.

Three egg yolks, half a cup of vingar (I used red having nothing else), two cloves of garlic and popped in the blender. Blender on I dropped in increasing doses a cup of olive oil and vegetable oil until creamy. Then a bit of pepper and salt. Had it with yabbies then and fish and chips tonight.

Cookbooks

Using cookbooks are great but they’re mostly “chunking”. By chunking, I’m referring to where language students have learn expressions as a chunk. Like in a phrase book – handy if used with care, but you get to the point where you are trying to combine “Can I see Mt Fuji from here?” with “I would like to buy a beer” to reach “Can I buy you a drink?” and ending up with “Here from Mt beer buy want”. So at some stage you need to go learn the basics and try from there. I picked up First Principles by Victoria Hansen at Woolies and really couldn’t ask for more in terms of mastering the essentials.

Plug

All the blogs I’ve listed deserve a visit. The political ones save me to rattle on about pesto, but sitting watching the disappointingly hammy ham fisted exploitation flick The Passion of Christ (don’t ask me how) has made me wander off to fantastic planet. Always a thoughtful pleasure and deserving of attention – much more so than watching Jesus being flogged by Jerzei Balowski

Paper? Tin?

The fine wedding I went to on the weekend reminded me of my wedding anniversary this Sunday. 6th is sugar and iron so I best get thinking as all I’ve come up with is glaced liver.

Rottnest

Named after what Dutch sailors thought were giant jumping rats, Rottnest is a small island 12 miles off the coast of Perth. Once a prison colony for Aborigines, filled with scrub, smeared with salt lakes, and is supposed to be a kind of worker’s Club Med but ends up being Peasantland for the elite. Aside from that it’s tops.Everything about the island is designed to make you focus on the the edge just as the void in the centre of a donut makes you appreciate the golden fried lightly dusted with sugar doughy ring that little bit more. The edges are made up of small bays filled with rocks and reefs rewarding anyone with flippers and goggles. I bought mine and could have snagged a couple of crayfish had they not been unaccessible physically (wedged under ledges) and legally (in craypots). All in all the beaches are stunning, especially with high 30C weather, all I could really want for was a bastard big boat just moored off the bay.

The food is standard restaurant coastal with no local specialties. With the cutesy factor of koala, combined with the unpleasant factor of a large rat, I can’t see anybody doing anything with the quokkas. I was pretty happy to see a scallop fried with the roe included and the wedding dinner was as good as I’ve had anywhere. Also notable was a sparkling shiraz a friend of mine brought, as tasty as it was poorly named- Rumball – in close running with Swagman’s Kiss.

Not a lot of cooking

Late nights getting back from classes have led to the closest thing to having cooked is toast this week. Off to Rottnest Island this weekend for a wedding. No cooking there either. Ah well at least we finally paid off the Smeg this week.

Benefit Gig at the Hyde Park Hotel / Phi Yen

Grabbed a bite to eat pre-show at the Phi Yen Vietnamese restaurant and was a bit disappointed. They’d previously been on Bulwer Street and were your classic knock up restaurant and almost always packed. They’d since moved down (up?) to Brisbane Street with swisho new decorations looking like they’d been set upon by TV renovators. The food wasn’t as good as I remembered, maybe the new decorations raised my expectations. Maybe the bitterness that they’d successfully redecorated and I hadn’t, turned the food to ashes in my mouth. Menu’s still pretty cute though. Meal was washed down with a Nuovo Rosso made in Adelaide which is another chilled red – went well with the meal with a bit of a hint of sherry there somewhere.

The benefit gig was a pleasure and reminded me to get off my arse and go out and see more bands. Hats off to all concerned.

Belgian Beer Cafe

My life has been a fortunate one rather than a lucky one. Not to be at all maudlin but I’ve lacked those moments which make other people go “bastard”. One exception came with a message from my friend as to whether I’d like to join him for a free lunch at the then new Belgian Beer Cafe.

Graham had won lunch for 6 at a guess the beer competition – richly rewarding his years of hard work and research. As we sat down on the day, my friend asked if beer was included in the “free” and we were told “yes” and they’d tell us when it would stop. I never made it to the stop point -the alcohol level of Belgian beers starts where others stop – and wove off on my bicycle somewhere through the second lap of the beer menu.

I popped in there again on Friday for a couple of cheeky ones and to eat their pommes frites. I had the wheat beer Hoegaarden and the Abbey made Leffe Blond. Both are such exceptional starters and such pleasant drinks that whoever ordered the bourbon and coke or the two bottles of Vodka premix should consider themselves lucky that my friend’s description of himself as a Beer Nazi is figurative rather than literal.

My adventures stopped at those two and I didn’t even get to try the topical beer special Judas. I’ll have to go back next time I’ve got a fistful of cash . The beers are well worth exploring. While wine tasters go on about the influence of the soil, one beer, an Orval I think, tasted of dirt.

And it was good.

Belgian Beer Cafe Westende – corner of Murray and King

Good deeds to be done in Perth this Friday…

There’s a benefit gig at the Hydey this Friday 12th March aiding the victims of the recent quake in Iran.

Have a look over at Rob’s site

Before I have to pick light airplanes out of it, I thought the basil in my garden had to be put to good use. Pesto was an obvious choice – a fairly straight forward one of roughly equal parts of pinenuts, basil, parmesan, with a bit of pepper and salt and two cloves of garlic – all pureed with enough olive oil to get the oiliness about right,

The tuna had been sitting in the freezer in sashimi size slices and was a low-carb alternative to pasta so out it came and cooked quickly on both sides in a little olive oil. A dab of pesto on each slice.

The zucchini was made up on the run. I started by cutting it into centimetre rounds and browned them a little in a pan with some garlic. I then saw some boccocini in the fridge. This became a small sandwich with the zucchini for the bread with a slice of boccocini and a couple of mint leaves in the middle. They went in the oven for about 10 minutes.

The two complemented each other well and the mint flavour settled down a lot.

Sharpening Knives

Blunt knives are useless and dangerous. Steels are great and make a great sound but really just maintain sharpness rather than sharpen so you get to a certain point and that’s it. The ones with the wheels take off too much metal.

I use a whetstone whenever the skin of a tomato starts to resist slightly. I use a japanese one which is two stones stuck together. The #1000 stone does most of the work and then the finer #3000 finishes the edge. They’re not hard to use, just soak for 10 minutes and then rub the knife back and forward at a 30 degree angle – moving the knife across and back to get and even edge, and then flip it over and repeat. Do the same with the #3000 side to finish.

I asked the old guy at the knife shop I bought it from in Kappabashi how long until it’s sharp and he told me “until it’s sharp”. True.

Should be…

Nookenburra hotel. For some reason I got it confused with the site of a pivotal land rights struggle in WA. Must have been the white settlers theme that threw me out in a kind of guilt reflex. If you’re reading Keith…

The Nookenbah Bistro

The Noonkenbah Pub Bistro in Innaloo is a gem and offers a clear choice. You can put up with the time tunnel decor circa.1983 and the plastic chairs OR go somewhere a little more chi chi and pay twice as much for half as good. The place hasn’t changed much since the days when I trekked down to the nearby Bucks Off bottle shop to buy some booze for the school ball. All red bricks and Fred McCubbin prints – waitresses call you luv.

My need for steak after a discussion involving the use of semi-colons had to be met. The $15 sirloin with mushroom sauce lives happily here. Mine was cooked how I wanted with a cut of steak that was tender and large. The salmon steaks were superb but for a little overenthusiastic application of hollandaise sauce. There was no trace of the Moroccan Lamb after my friend had her way with it. The salad bar was a little uninspired but hey. There’s also usually a good range of specials and they like their fish specials. Beer is pub prices and the wine isn’t much more than bottle-shop.

Handy alternative for your knife holder seen in a few Sushi bars is this:

Get last year’s phone directory and run some masking tape around the front and back from top to bottom making the pages nice and tight together. Then pop it amongst your cookbooks, spine to the wall and pop your knives in it. Apparently keeps rust from non stainless steel knives and may have a tiny sharpening effect.

Works well, just have to be carful not to walk into the handles and remember to ask a parent for help if using sharp objects

Squid Salad

Got my bearings on this from a Bill Granger cookbook, can’t remember the name but it’s the one with the bay shot on it.

The dressing is a quarter cup each of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar (comes in blocks and you shave off what you need) with a clove of minced garlic.

I was pretty happy with the mix of lettuce with some mint leaves and some basil from my feral metre high basil plant. Added some chopped spring onion and cherry tomatoes for a little more content.

The squid was some baby squid I’d bought, cleaned and scored. Just cooked in a pan for two minutes. Apparently for squid it’s either 2 minutes or an hour in what would be a longish trough shaped graph of tenderness.

Squid goes into greenery and is topped by dressing.

Good. Pretty straightforward so easily done on short notice, which it was.

Holy Smoke Smoked Trout Dip

from Pemberton is very good. I liked the texture, the flavour and it had a nice inconsistency which distinguished it from the more processed dips.

6 eggs and half a cup of milk, a toddler’s handful of sage, parsley, and thyme. Some pepper and let to stand for 20 minutes to let the herbs to work their way through.

The rest of the coppa was chopped up and so was a few sun-dried tomatoes. Both were cooked lightly in a pan followed by the mix. It’s better to cook scrambled eggs more slowly than quickly. A sturdy cast iron frypan on low heat provides a steady, low heat and with constant stirring, the eggs come out well.

Good.

Asparagus with Coppa

Bought some winnowy asparagus. Bunched them in threes then wrapped each bunch in a slice of mild coppa. Coppa works well for wrapping and you can give it a bit of a squeeze to tighten it up. Then put in a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of pepper and cooked at 190C until the coppa is crispy.

Boiling – The Devil’s Oven

Crabs were another part of my growing up. Sadly not a coital side effect but part of plunder down in Mandurah with the Blue Manna crab which roved around the estuary. I think then the limits were a plastic rubbish bin per boat and more often than not, we got that. The crabs were then boiled and then eaten with vinegar and newspaper. Simple pleasures but could have been more pleasurable had we done it simpler still – the naked flame.

I first had crabs on the BBQ in Wakanai. Wakanai is right on the tip of Hokkaido and we stopped there living every Japanese biker’s dream – the Summer tour of Hokkaido. The set-up was pretty simple – a bunch of BBQs near the harbour and you bought fresh seafood and BBQed it there. I can’t remember the crabs themselves as we had a stack of great seafood thanks to friendly locals. Yesterday at the Innaloo fish markets this memory was twigged and I bought a few fresh Garden Island Blue Swimmer crabs.

Cleaning is pretty easy. There’s a side argument in the argument to design based around the utility of the world for people – fish swimming close to the beach, apples in reach etc. which is supposed to prove an intelligent creator. Much bagged, of course, but if it ever has any hope then it has to be in the convenient underside tab of crabs which you peel back to take it’s top off. It’s like fish having zips or turkeys having breadcrumbs and sage for innards.

Once the crabs were cleaned I took of the claws and chopped the body down the middle. From here I heated up the grill bit on the BBQ and then just chucked the crabs on. They took about 10 minutes to cook, a bit hard to judge but the few on the side of caution didn’t suffer too much from being a little overcooked and undercooked crab is vile. The only garnish was to squeeze a lemon over them half way through cooking.

The taste was fantastic. The crab meat was sweet to the point where I could taste hints of honey. Better than crayfish.

Fried Rice

4 cups of cooked rice – dried by spreading on a tray and put in the oven with the fan on; 200gm of pork -roughly chopped; 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced; spring onion (white bit)- sliced; dried chili – deseeded and chopped; two mushrooms – chopped; leaves of a chinese green whose name escapes me – chopped; three eggs; oil; sesame oil; soy sauce

Too many noodle dishes and not enough rice ones. Bunged this up after a 12 hour day so not a lot of love but it went tastily enough in the end.

First beat the eggs short of one consistent colour. Heat a splash of oil and sesame oil in a wok. Pour the egg in, keep it moving – it should only be half cooked and then taken out. I believe that this adds as much moisture to the rice as the oil. There was a Japanese show once which explained how it was like mayonnaise but I wasn’t apying enough attention.

Next a bit more of the oil mix and then toss in the pork and stir until cooked. Remove.

Still more of the oil and in goes the garlic and chili to give the oil a bit of flavour, quickly followed by the spring onion. It was making a nice sesame smell by now. In goes the rice with constant flipping. As it starts to cook, follow with the greens and the mushrooms. Now’s a good time to pour a tbs or two of soy sauce. When the greens and mushrooms have softened, return the eggs and the pork. Stir in and serve.

Should add that what should have made this special was the unbelivably expensive organic garlic from Woolies that I unwittingly bought. Nearly $5 for 8 heads of garlic a little larger than a grape. Garlicky though.

Notice

This blog was half intended to be an solipsistic exercise in just getting a few words down but I was pretty chuffed to get a reference at Tim Dunlop’s fine blog.

Best lift my game.

Good Fortune Roast Duck House

I stopped in here Sunday night having gone past it a hundred times or so. The ducks can be seen happily hanging from hooks in the front window as can pork ribs, chicken and other bits. The pekin duck was great and about $130 cheaper than the last time I had it in Yokohama. We got out for about $15 dollars each for the duck, roast ribs and rice and some greens. It’d be well worth going back to try out the specials posted up on a bit of butcher’s paper and chips and an appetite less blunted by chips and burger rings.

344 William Street Northbridge – at least grab a menu for the picture of the smiling duck.

Roast Lamb with Mash and Gravy

I don’t know why I decided on a roast tonight. Roasts are communal things. Well at least I think they are. They seemed a kind of weak attractor to my Dad at the pub. A lamb roast kept Naomi Watts with her family and away from Tom Cruise. Although maybe it’s a talisman against Scientology. The household was cleft in two this afternoon after my wife knocked over the Chinese Shadow box and smashed half of my sake cup collection. I was gutted and went into the combo of the worst aspects of both my parent’s anger strategies – the raging sulk.

Anyway lamb roast OK. I unrolled and smeared with a stuffing of pureed olive oil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, breadcrumbs and garlic. The roast potatoes, I mashed. Made a simple gravy mint sauce is two parts mint, one part boiling water two parts vinegar and let it sit for 15 minutes. Thanks Woman’s Weekly Cookbook.

That’s it.

Mushroom and Bread Salad

From last night and worth adding here.

head of radicchio, 3 roma tomatoes, 5 smallish field mushrooms, half a loaf of italian bread, clove of garlic.

Dressing: juice of one lemon, 3 tbs olive oil, chopped parsley, pepper, some finely grated romano cheese

Tear up the radicchio, slice the tomatoes into bite sized chunks, and slice the tomatoes into ribbons. Slice the bread into toast width slices and toast in the oven Then pour olive oil over them and give them a rub with a clove of garlic. Tear up into bite sized pieces.

Mix all the ingredients together. Pour the dressing over it and toss.

Smoked Salmon Dinner

My Dad came back from a trip to Dover in Tasmania. With him, came one side of a salmon that had been caught and smoked by a local who goes out and rounds up some of the escapees from Salmon farms. I decided to share my good fortune and have a few friends for dinner.

Salmon Crumble

frozen quiche pastry, 5eggs, 300ml double cream, 2tbs chopped fennel, 1tbs blue cheese, pepper, smoked salmon

There were a few influences here. One was last night’s tart. Another, a salmon quiche I’d made when I was 17 for a Sky Show picnic. Finally, Dirt Yogo’s.

I got 6 ramekins and buttered the insides. I then cut strips of pastry and then tore little bits off, loosely filling each ramkin to a third and blind baking them for 10 minutes in the oven.

Mixed five egg yolks together with the cream. The recipe in the Cordon Bleue at Home said gruyere and for some reason I did a brain shift for gorgonzola. I realised this when I went to grate it and smeared it across the grater. It still went in, as did the fennel. I broke up the salmon and put it in the ramekins and then covered it with the mix. It went in the oven at 180c for 16 minutes.

It came out well, slightly convex at the top. The flavours worked well and the gorgonzola was enhancing rather than overpowering.

Salmon and Lemon Cream Pasta

fettucine for 6, 1 lemon, 300ml cream, cup of white, some butter, pepper, salmon

Small rind graters are well worth having. A few gratings went into some butter in the pan for minute followed by a cup of wine, simmered for a while. Next was the cream and the juice of one lemon. Bubbled away until the pasta was ready. Smoked salmon dries out quickly so it was added just at the end and then mixed in with the pasta.

I made a salad too but it’s late now so bed it is.

Dinner at Cream – East Perth

Valentine’s Day came at a handy time this year. One was to make up for lame festivities and gift giving for my wife’s birthday last month. The other, was to follow up a recommendation and a description of it as “very Melbourne” by my barber. So a self serving Valentine’s but if it worked out then there could be a retrospective justification.

The location has undergone somewhat of a transformation of late. 15 years ago I went to East Perth to get my car fixed and, had I been so inclined, found suitable accommodation as a junkie.

The decor’s been done well – red and furry which had me drifting back to the womb in a Straits of Gibraltar way. The effect was cozy and while the 30 other hand holding couples were apparent, they didn’t have to be. Waiters in civvies added to the effect.

Because it was Valentines day, it was a set menu. A choice of 3 entrees, 3 mains and two desserts. All seemed regular menu items and we were spared any themetisation of the menu, such as Ox Heart in Rose Petal Aspic.

The meal went as follows as far I can remember:

Tasting plate with a glass of Taltarni Brut (‘)Tache Sparkling – nice and two iconic nouns of 70′s sophistication in its name added to the effect. The plate had cheese sticks, kalamata olives, figs with prosciutto (nice and in season) and pate with an onion jam, which was exceptional. Wife overheard waiter telling a customer that there was no way the chef was going to do their meat well done. Chef is the man.

Entree. I was going to go for a NZ white to go with the meal but my eye was caught by the chilled Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent. It looked worth a try and I’ve got a soft spot for chilled reds, which comes from Japan where they’re not so dogmatic about their wines. It went down very well. I had the veal carpaccio on crostini. A nice simple start. My wife had the salmon and fennel tart. One taste was enough to wash away a thousand memories of mini quiches.

Main. Wife nicked the ducks legs so I went for the crispy skinned pink snapper. It was a lucky choice. The duck was a bit rich for a warm night and fell in the shadow of the snapper. I’ve never had such a harmonious combination of three items in a main. The snapper was fresh and clean tasting. The mash, creamy with a hint of garlic and the tomato and leek sauce punched up the flavour. I was sad to finish it.

Dessert. I not big on desserts but the chocolate “cupcake?” with ice cream was a valentiney pleaser. I completed the circle and finished with another glass of Tache which didn’t end up on my bill.

Exceptionally pleasant. More so as I’d been working myself up into what I thought would be a let-down. It could quite easily have been a pretentious washout but everything worked so well, I left with a feeling of being treated well in a nice place where they cared about food. A nice touch was the risotto doggie bag wrapped in a ribbon placed on the table as the next shift of diners were to move in. As kind and subtle see ya later as I’ve ever seen. I also wonder why more restaurants don’t just always do a set menu and if people can’t be flexible enough to fit in with a reasonable choice, then stiff. There’s an army of people out there who’d rather have shit they’re familiar with than something good.

Baklava

Is baklava good or what?

Got mine at Kostas [insert pun as necessary] across from the Brass Monkey.

Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Cashews

200gm pork fillet; half a cabbage chopped into inch squares; handful of chopped cashews; packet of egg noodles; 1/2 tbs toubanjan; splash soy sauce.

Marinade: knob of ginger finely grated; red chili- sliced; 2tbs Chinese rice wine; tbs oil.

I wanted to keep the pork fairly simple so I kept the marinade to three main ingredients. Thinly sliced the pork and left it to marinade for 20 minutes. With the wok nice and hot, added some oil, and then quickly cooked until it gained some colour. I decided to add some toubanjan to boost up the spiciness for the cabbage.

In went the cabbage and the cashews and stirred until the cabbage softened a little. Finally the noodles – microwaved for a minute- went and stirred for a minute.

Served.

Tasty. The cashews added a bit of crunch and hinted at a satay sauce that wasn’t there.

Pommes Veronique

I don’t know if this is general knowledge but this was a revelation at dinner a few weeks ago as the secret to perfect oven roasted potatoes.

The oil is first heated in the oven. I added some rosemary which handily grows in front of Herdies Growers Fresh and some cloves of garlic into the Le Creuset pot. Once the oil was hot, in went the pieced spuds and then rosted until golden, stirring occasionally.

Scotch Fillet in a Blue Cheese and Beer Marinade

2 scotch fillet steaks; 2 tbs blue cheese; splash of beer; 1 tbs olive oil

I had something similar to this at the Belgian Beer Pub on King Street a while back and wanted to replicate it without having any idea how to do so.

First stop was beef. Porterhouse looked good again. T-bone was tempting but seemed happier with a sauce than a marinade. Scotch has always been seen as a lesser cut of meat for myself. This may be a bit of amateur etymology combined with stereotyping of scots as frugal. It’s a beautifully fatty bit of meat though and fat means flavour and meltiness. Aussie beef is lean and never looked good to top shelf Japanese beef with it’s marbling of fat which looked more like honeycomb of lard filled with meat.

I chose a King Island Centenary Blue and then wondered how to get it’s flavour into the steaks. A bit of oil was the first thought and then for the liquid I thought red wine but chose beer instead for something different. I’m brewing again tomorrow at U Brew It and needed another empty bottle or two. The cheese, the oil and the beer went into the blender. What came out was an approximation of what a yeast infection might look/smell like but it had to be tried and the mix was smeared over the steaks and left for 40 minutes.

Quickly cooked to rare on the stove top griller and served with Pommes Veronique.

It was marvelous and if I was back in my only-need-three-good-recipes-day this would have been the special occasion one.

Respite

Busy teaching and studying late. Only recent effort was some sandwiches for the Big Day Out and an experiment with Jamaican Rissoles which were tasty yet lacking in efficacy.

Blueberry Pancakes with Cream

Most Saturday mornings are spent with a group of friends with a trainer who runs us around Cottesloe for an hour. I shouldn’t have been there today. Last night I was up post midnight trying a range of beers that a friend had and each one came back as a coat of sweat. This has nothing to do with pancakes.

2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, 2tbs melted butter, half a cup of blueberries, and enough buttermilk to get the consistency right

Mixed them all together and cooked. Served with whipped cream with a bit of vanilla essence in it and maple syrup.

Oyster Bar at the Beach

If you drive down the coast to the harbour city, just before you turn off is the Oyster Bar at the Beach. Best idea in Perth since the Sunday session. You can be swimming at the beach, pop your things on, climb over a two foot sand bar and there you are, drinking a beer, enjoying seafood, and listening to a DJ spinning tunes as the sun goes down. Then, after a few beers, run down to the beach, tossing clothes behind you, and into the surf to be eaten by a shark. This is perfect, a beach bar at the beach, food meets environment. How could they stuff this up?

And they have. It took us 10 minutes to order while the waitress mastered the intricacies of the cash register. I had to go up and ask where my meal was – the order had been lost. Traditional Greek salad is apparently from a time when only thing Greece had was lettuce. The barman had to look up how much a middy was. The glasses are plastic. Someone thinks the correct amount of worcestershire sauce on an oyster is a tablespoon. The keg of Bees Knees ran out and couldn’t be changed over because it was behind some stock. The only working class beer they’ve got is Carlton Draught. My mate had to become a freelance glassy and it’s expensive for what you get.

Most of this could have been put down to an unfortunate night, the flu with all the experienced staff leaving the management forced to hire staff from a modelling agency at the last minute so who knows. Staff! Food! not difficult things to sort out after dropping a few hundred thousand bucks on a place. Jeez they whinged about weekend pay loading on the menu – suck it in and cough up for some decent staff. Guh!

Perfect Omlette

Given I’m a way from winning the Paris to Dakar, this will have to do – the elusive perfectly cooked omlette. Deceptively simple it’s been a source of compromise for a while. One near attempt and the second was a text book folded in thirds and flipped. Less mixed helped. I’m hoping, like eventually getting up on a single ski, this will be effortlessly replicated.

Breakfast – French Toast

Time to pack up and head back for the start of work. Eggs, milk and bread left, so this was a no brainer, a tbs of maplesyrup in the batter for a bit of sweetness. Sure I could have done the patriotic thing and had US yeast paste on toast but this was a historical could have been treat. Cream would have been could, had aI had it and would have gone very well with the fresh blueberries we picked up the day before.

Sausages in Bread with Tomato Sauce

No grand finale on our last night of camping just sausages in bread with tomato sauce. Could have done much much worse.

Took a few deep breaths and bought Shake ‘n Make pancakes and they weren’t too bad at all and in camping circumstances, did the job really well. POP and then just crisped up the bacon and the poured a bit of maple syrup on top.

Chicken Mushroom and Asparagus Rissotto

Not going into too much depth here but perfect for one pot cooking and done in the traditional arm buiding style. Asparagus added crunch and flavour. The leftovers made for good, although crumbly, patties the next day.

Somerset Hill

Not bargainous but outstanding Pinot Noir here. Well worth visit and a try with a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable tasting tour. I went through my usual dilemma of saying noting and appearing rude or making a twatty comment I regret later. Apricots – Jesus!

Pinot can be cellared for 8 years – our one didn’t make it to 8 hours. Could get hit by a bus etc.

Breakfast – Bacon, Mushrooms and Tomatoes

One pot breakfast using the aforementioned camp oven. Bacon cooked first to near crispy, removed and replaced with 6 field mushrooms and some home grown tomato slices and some pepper and olive oil. Bacon then went on top and it cooked happily away with the lid on. Toast cooked on a handy four slice camp toaster from Canada that I picked up in Japan – worked a treat.

Camping in Denmark

A long weekend for Australia/Invasion Day so we headed down south with two friends to their block near Denmark. The block is a wooded block with no amenities so all I had to cook with was a burner and trangier but had the added bonus of a captive audience and the taste enhancement of fresh air. Sadly there was a total fireban but understandable due to the two deaths nearby from a bushfire barely a month ago.

Pork Belly and Potato Reduction

600gm pork bellies; 8 smallish potatoes; half a sweet potato all cut into bite sized pieces cooking oil; 3 cloves of garlic – chopped; onion -quartered; SAUCE: 500ml water; 60ml sake; 50gm sugar; 170ml soy sauce; 50ml mirin; and 1/3 teaspoon pepper

I’m not sure what to call this. It’s from umai izakaya menyu – Delicious Pub Menu from the good people at Orange Page . The only literal translation I could find was “dozy cook” , so either I’m missing an idiomatic interpretation or the writers having some fun. Anyway the idea is to cook the pork and potatoes in a sauce until the sauce is left just as a glaze. In context, it’s pot based Japanese pub food.

Not to absolve myself from being lazy with my Japanese study but translating recipes is hard. The chief problem is that dictionaries don’t really cater (‘scuse the pun) for food and, as seems to be the case everywhere, you can’t just have “sugar” but a certain kind of sugar that nobody knows. The end result is that most of my Japanese cooking is an exercise in archeology where I take fragments and try and make it into a meaningful whole.

This recipe seemed ideal for cooking in a cast iron camp oven. It could also be prepped in advance and the hour it took allowed for camp set-up and aperitifs.

The pork is lightly browned in some oil and then removed. The potatoes and sweet potatoes are also given a once over in the oil and removed. Now the garlic and onion are softened a little in the oil and then joined by the pork, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Then the sauce poured over, brought to the boil, and then covered with the lid and cooked for 10 minutes. Take the lid off and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has almost entirely gone. Then rest it for 10 minutes.

It went down well and not as sweet as I’d imagined with the mirin and the sugar. There was just enough for four hungry campers so some rice might have helped in the carbo department.

One thing I did neglect from the recipe was the use of paper towels. Pictured with the recipe they looked like they were used to soak up the oil after the potatoes and then cover the dish instead of the sauce. I didn’t think this was necessary but I’m hazarding a guess that this was to soak up the potato starch coming out of the potatoes. This left me with more of a thickened sauce than the glaze I wanted and would be worth a trial later on.

Beef Kebabs

1kg topside; baby squash; zucchini; haloumi cheese; cherry tomatoes; mushrooms; olive oil; thyme; mustard; red wine; basil; garlic; pepper

These were for a BBQ as a way of circumventing the need to make a salad. They could also be made fairly quickly as I had about 20 minutes to make them after running late from a 4WD/ skin diving adventure up to the wreck of the Alkimos where we bashed around the dunes scaping our way through sand tracks.

I wasn’t sure what to do for a marinade so I ended up with about 4 different ones

Meat Cut up into bite sized squares. The marinade was a bodge of what was available. To get the minced garlic working more quickly into the oilve oil I put them both into a bowl and zapped them for 40 seconds in the micro to save messing about with a pan. Then a tablespoon of thyme, a big teaspoon of mustard, and some some red wine. I sprinkled some pepper over the beef them mixed it in with the marinade.

Veges Cut the zucchini and squash to approximately match the meat in height. Also cut both ends off each squash so it fitted more snugly to its neighbour on the skewer and gave it a head start in the cooking process by microwaving it for a minute. Then I poured some olive oil and lemon juice over both of them.

Quartered two white onions. Cut the mushrooms to size and splashed some olive oil over them and some pepper. Haloumi cheese is new to me, but I got some because I heard it doesn’t melt like other cheeses, which would be a good thing. It’s a greek cheese and was like a smoother less salty feta. I cut it into slices and put it in with the tomatoes and some olive oil and basil.

Assembly Everything marinated away happily while we drove to the South Perth foreshore. For the skewers, I used long stainless steel jobbies which meant not having to worry about soaking wooden ones. Ingredient were skewered at random and cooked, free of charge thanks to the kind ratepayers of South Perth, on the barbie until the meat was dome.

I then just deskewered them and let people help themselves. They worked well as a tasty square meal on a stick with a Pemberton pinot noir and a stubbie of Pike’s Oakbank beer.

The haloumi didn’t melt.

Banana Smoothie

This starts most mornings and it’s healthier than toast and less effort than muesli. The key though, according to the banana man who visited my friend Nicole’s primary class, is to peel the bananas and then freeze them. This boosts creaminess by a factor of four and elevates it beyond pureed banana in milk. It also means that that there’s a store of them in the freezer.

Anyway, frozen banana, cup of soy milk, cup of ice, a few tbs of yoghurt, and some passionfruit pulp in a jar – blend. Frozen blueberries are great but they weren’t at hand.

eggs noodles; topside steak (cut into strips); 1 red chilli (chopped); 2 dried chillies; 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped); broccolini (stalks cut up kept aside from florets); oyster sauce

Made a meal from the fridge tonight and this is what turned out.

The wok needs to be nice and hot before putting in the oil. Left it for a few minutes and then in went 2 tbs of peanut oil. Next were the two dried chillies just to get a bit of heat through the oil. Garlic and chili came after for a quick stir; then the beef and the broccolini stalks. After the beef was almost cooked, in went the florets and a liberal does of oyster sauce and stirred ’til coated. Finally, in went the egg noodles a handful at a time to stop clogging and when heated, served.

A nice bit of chille bite to it and keeping the stalks and the florets apart kept the crunchiness of both.

* Also added a splash of Chinese wine after the oyster sauce to loosen it up a bit.

Stainless Steel Containers

are great. I picked up a few at Gib and Pat’s a while ago. They’re like mini bain maries and are great for prepping. Ingredients in each one and off you go come cooking time, They stack well and are indestructible. Larger ones with a rack make good for draining fried food like tempura.

Lamb Chops with Thyme

6 lovely little lambs chops sliced from a rack.

Marinated in 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, two finely chopped garlic cloves, and some red wine(ran out of olive oil).

Cooked on the barbie, the bones could have been wrapped in foil to stop it from burning but wasn’t. Tasted just dandy and made a change from rosemary. Dinner continued until 3am – good job.

Viewing

Better than the sequels but just as awful

Meatrix

Salmon wrapped in Nori

100gm of salmon is more than enough for 3 people for sashimi as part of a larger dinner. I had 200gm so I cut the rest into 3 cubes. Each cube was wrapped in a strip of nori, making racing stripe in the middle. They were the very quickly cooked on each side in some oil in a frypan. Just enough to cook the outside and keep the middle uncooked. One to each person.

Nice.

Fried Eggplant with Dengaku Miso

See below for how to make dengaku miso.

I really didn’t want to repeat the same strong flavour of the dengaku miso twice in one meal but I had a bit left and a few of the (long) finger sized eggplants so waste not.

Chopped up the eggplants into 1cm slices then fried in a pan ( if you boil them for a minute or so in salted water first they don’t soak up so much oil but I couldn’t be bothered) until golden, mixed with bit of the dengaku miso and served.

Scallops in an Orange

2-3 scallops per mandarin;

dengaku miso – 250gm of red miso; 50ml mirin; 50ml sake; 25gm sugar

This was pretty much taken from The Food of Japan by Kosaki and Wagner which has proven a good source of recipes and ideas. They use yuzu, which is a Japanese citrus fruit.Yuzu makes for a great cocktail, mixed with sugar syrup and shochu, but, sadly, isn’t available here. The book offers mandarins as an alternative but they were out of season so I used small oranges instead.

Easy to make with the dengaku miso being the only chore. It keeps for a month in the fridge so I had some on hand. To make it, put the miso, sake, mirin and sugar in a saucepan – bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut the top bits off the orange and scoop out the innards like making a jack-o-lantern. Keep the tops. Cut the scallops into quarters and pop in the orange mixed with enough dengaku miso to loosely fill (the scallops swell when cooked). Put in the oven for 15 minutes at 180c and then put its top back on to serve.

It’s a favourite of mine and another thing to do with underutilised scallops. Can’t recommend using an orange, the size of mandarins meant a better balance between the dengaku miso and the amount of scallops I used. Could always use more scallops tho’

Cold Soba

Dried Soba Noodles; Nori; Wasabi; Dipping Sauce – 1 cup of dashi; 50ml of dark soy sauce; 50ml of mirin

Soba is a Japaese noodle made with buckwheat and has a greyish colour. They can be served in soup, with tempura, or, as here, eaten cold with a dipping sauce. This is a perfect seasonal summer food in Japan. Tokyo can hit the mid thirties with near 100% humidity at this time of the year.

Soba

Boil the soba in plenty of lightly salted boiling water for about 4 minutes – forget about al dente but they shouldn’t be soggy. After boiling rinse in cold water and the I mix some ice in to cool them down. They can then be refrigerated.

Dipping Sauce

The dipping sauce can be bought which makes things easy. Failing that making it isn’t too hard. Make the dashi stock from dried dashi powder (Ajinomoto’s is the most popular), mix in the soy and the mirin and then chill.

Serving

Put the soba in one bowl with some ice to keep it cool. Each person has one bowl for their soba and another for the dipping sauce.

The sauce can go in a jug or just pour some into the dipping bowls.

Guests can add some narrow chopped strips of nori to their soba and wasabi and chopped scallions to the dipping sauce.

Grab some soba, give it a quick dip or two in the sauce and then slurp down. Holding the dipping bowl in the other hand helps.

Pasta salad is trash, as a cold summer carbohydrate loading this can’t be topped. As an added bonus if you eat some just before New Year you’ll have long life.

Crayfish Sashimi

Crayfish, known elsewhere as rock lobster, in Japan as ise-ebi, and is essentially a labster without claws is now cheap has been cheap for a while. I picked up a live one for $16 which is a mere two KFC Middle Earth packs.

Crayfish left two issues to be resolved. One was my teens in Mandurah where hugely illegal amounts were caught and then, for all this effort, boiled to fack en masse and then eaten with vinegar or something.

The other was with a dinner with clients in Japan where they had crayfish sashimi and the head tried to make a slow painful dash for it off the plate.

So, with crayfish available, I wanted to put to bed both issues. The crayfish would be as nature intended it and it would die a quick and painless death.

The finessing of the presentation of the lobster came from Hideo Dekura’s Japanese Flavours – Modern Classics.

Sweet Dreams Sweet Prince Lobsters have a very refined nervous system so I imagine their usual experience before death could be approximated by sticking your family jewels into boiling hot water. The humane way is this, pop them in the freezer to send them to sleep and gently pull them out and plunge a knife into their brain – ikijimi. The head was then dispatched with a cleaver.

I wanted to keep the top part of the tail intact and not having kitchen scissors, I managed to cut the underbelly out with a knife. The flesh didn’t want to get go anywhere. Probably retaining some post death sense of duty. Eventually I worked it out and put it in iced water for 10 minutes to firm it up.

Slicing was a disappointment. Rather than being beautiful round slices, the cray meat broke up into segments.

Presentation Used a square earthenware plate from Japan. Working from one corner to the other.

Small mound of wasabi.

Empty crayfish tail filled as follows: slice of crayfish, sliver of lime, slice of crayfish, sliver of lime, etc.

Line of salmon sashimi. In 5mm slices and then spread like a deck of cards.

Other corner: flowering bit of a Hebi – ornamental only and not for human consumption.

Taste Taste was exceptional with the pure flavours coming through clearly without the usual saltiness and toughness of boiled crays. Had with soy and wasabi. Sister in law Vic had never had raw fish before and wasn’t freaked out by it so AOK. I would easily take a third of a live cray raw than my own cooked one.

Japanese Dinner

Apart form a couple of steaks ona friends barbie, there’s been no cooking for a while here. This dinner was repay a debt to my sister in law for sparing me from having to do my tax return by myself.I chose Japanese because I felt the need to sermonise a bit due to her always ordering the teriyaki fish.

The dinner included – sashimi crayfish and salmon; daikon salad; scallops cooked in oranges with dengaku miso; daikon salad; eggplant with dengaku miso; and cold soba.I’ll try to post most of the recipes.

It looks a lot but cooking and prep time wasn’t more than an hour with most of that taken up by sauces. This is longer than many of the fabulously easy toss together type recipes floating around but time spent cooking is a way of showing appreciation to guests.

Nothing traditional here just my part of the Christmas festivities for my Mum and my sister and associated friends and partners. Cranberry juice was the sole concession here to Xmas mores.

Spinach and Eggs in Ramekins – in the archives .

Pancakes with Corn

Jamie Oliver breakfast recipe more or less. I’m pretty sure he didn’t invent panckes but credit where credit’s due I guess.

4 eggs – separated into white and yolks; cup of plain flour; teaspoon of baking powder; cup of milk; can of corn (not creamed but you knew that)

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.

From memory, two egg beating killers are; the bowl not being spotless, and any trace of yolk. O/w you’ll be beating ’til you’re raw.

Fold this in to the other mix which is just the rest of the ingredients mixed to a batter.

Mix in the corn and then cooked the pancakes in a non-stick pan with a dab of butter. Amused myself doing double flips.

Served with bacon and genuine Canadian maple syrup from my Quebecois brother in law. Never had this combo before but now it’s goodbye to berries and cream.

Oven Roasted Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Prosciutto

This is my own concoction.

Oven roasting tray.

Line the bottom with field mushrooms and this time, a very special guest, fresh shiitake. Not being precious but I picked up a punnet from a Japanese guy at the Margaret River street markets. He’s been growing them in wheat country Narrogin in abandoned underground WW2 ammo dumps – yes yes who would have thought.

Pour some olive oil over the mushrooms and I added a bit of butter for good measure. On top of the mushrooms went some fresh rosemary and thyme.

Next layer was some halves of tomatoes. Prociutto was mix around over and under the tomatoes. Finally a bit more olive oil and some freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of salt for the tomatoes though the prosciutto is nearly salty enough.

Into the oven at 150C, after 20 minutes I put some foil over the top to stop the prosciutto blackening. After an hour it was perfect, with the mushroom soft and the tomatoes nicely collapsed. A pool of grease on the bottom suggested lining the bottom with toast but maybe for another time.

All round good and easy, stuffing things in the oven allows time for other stuff like making coffee, squeezing juice, and flipping pancakes.

Breakfast got good wraps. Sydney friend gave it the blessing of best breakfast he’d ever had.

Merry Xmas

Szechuan Chicken/ Cashew Basil Rice/Broccolini

No-fuss meal for a hungry and lonely friend.

The Szechuan chicken recipe is earlier and well worth a look.

Rice – basmati rice cooked in a rice cooker.

2/3 of a cup of cashews were chopped up and stir fried in a little peanut oil until coloured -slightly black while I wandered out to get some basil.

A few chopped up basil leaves were quickly stir fired with any oil left in the wok then added, with the cashews, to the rice and stirred in and served.

Broccolini is the best.

Microwaved for a minute and a half, chilled in cold water to stop the colour. Fried a couple of sliced garlic cloves then added the broccolini until heated then served with some garlic-chilli-soy sauce.

Fish Green Curry

Local Cod, North Rankin or something. Easy curry.

Half a cup of green curry paste, stirred in a wok quickly and a similar amount of water then added. Left to simmer for five minutes then in with a can of coconut milk followed by the bits of fish in bite sized pieces and some fresh baby corn left to simmer until cooked.

A Donna Hay recipe idea meant adding a small handfull of fresh basil and a splash of lime juice just before the end of cooking.

The cod didn’t blend at all and, for a white fish, did its best to fight with the flavours.

Served on Jasmine rice.

Ocean Beach Hotel

$10 steak sanwiches with the lot and chips with a free view of the Indian Ocean. No idea why there aren’t a few thousand people down there.

Noodle House Pho Sydney

I miss Ramen. Ramen was always my single favourite Japanese foods and is usually the first thing I eat when I go back there. Ramen shops are everywhere, we has about half a dozen within two minutes’ walk of our apartment in Tokyo. Most places specialised in one or two varieties based around a pork broth, with either soy sauce – shouyu-, miso, pork bones -tonkotsu- being the main flavours. The rest of the variety came from the topppings – wontons, negi, BBQ pork, nori, corn, boiled egg and so on. I had about four favourite shops. One in Harajuku played Elvis all the time. Another, out on the Chuo line, was run by some Chinese from the North-East of China and specialised in hand-made egg noodles. The dough would be stretched out from hand to hand and then shaken and then folded until, somehow, it was a long strand of noodles. There was also be the occasional street stall that never failed to be good. Ramen is also the perfect post boozing food and I thought the liquid would ward off hangovers.

Short of going to Japan, you could do worse than watching Tampopo. Tampopo is a take on a stranger rides into town Western with a Magnificent 7 style posse to help a struggling female Ramen shop owner. Very funny and the scene with the laundry is as touching as they come.

The last shop I went to in Perth with ramen left me spending more time than usual in the gents so we headed in to Northbridge to find a noodle shop. The Hung Long has long gone but we found the Vietnamese Noodle House Pho Sydney on William Street. Of the many things going for it: it looked like a family operation, decor was not a priority, people inside seemed happy enough.

I had the spicy beef and pork soup and a not so spicy soup as well as some fried squid and fried stuffed chicken wings. All were good. I’ve had the stuffed chicken wings of a few nationalities and these ones, stuffed with chicken meat and rice vermicelli to look like little drumsticks were great. The broth was great and tasted of being cooked, not a couple of cups of stock powder. Side topping were bean sprouts, chopped green chillies, and lemon. The only downer were the wafer thin slices of meat. Well recommended for noodle soup and far better than the soup at the Han chain which has ranged from ordinary to vile.

Chorizo in Red Wine

Chorizo as in “ch”eese, not chianti as I”d wrongly assumed Spanish being a Romance Language and all. Soy un idiota!

This was an impromptu tapas evening inspired by a large bottle of Talijancich sherry that had been gathering dust.

The sausages came from a small Spanish deli in the Wembley food hall and come in standard or spicy. Both are great.

There is a slightly more elaborate way of cooking them but the simplest way is pricking them, letting them simmer for 15 minutes in red wine. Leave for a while and then slice into cm thick slices. Keep the wine.

One recipe called for a flambe in some brandy, I tried a bit of leftover bourbon but couldn’t get it to light up, so forget the booze. Just fry them up in a pan until a little browned and then add some of the reserved wine, cook a little to coat and enough for a bit of juice.

Served with some chopped parsley for garnish.

My parsley has seeded and is looking like a triffid at the moment – I half expected the lash of a stamen and then for it to crawl over and devour me.

I chilled the sherry and it was a little on the sweet side for what I wanted but tasty nonetheless

Mmmmmmmmmmeat.

It’s good to eat.

Its multidimensional flavour can’t be beat.

Meat.

Beef

It’s the chief

It comes from pasture’s leaf

Beef.

Two T-bone steaks rubbed with olive oil, pepper and some fresh thyme and left.

Broccolini and squash, micro-waved for 2 minutes and then left in cold water – keeps the flavour and crunchiness on the inside.

Jerusalem artichokes were peeled and zapped for a minute then sliced thinly (thicker than finely).

T-bones were cooked to medium rare on the stove-top-hot-plate thing, then rested and replaced on the STHPT with the veges which were cooked in a little olive oil until warm on the outside. JAs on top of the steak, others to the side and then the sauce on the steak.

The sauce: apropos of my previous post with what I had handy. A cup of beef stock half a cup of leftover champagne, reduced a little, half a cup of cream added and then a teaspoon of dijon mustard and reduced a little further.

Peppercorn Sauce update

According to my student with the credentials of being a French Chef in Korea for 10 years, adding cream to boiling stock and then reducing is no problem as long as it’s given the odd stir and isn’t reduced too much.

Also:

Italian teacher student explained bruschetta is pronounce with a hard K for the “ch” (like school and chianti) whereas proscuitto is pronounced with a soft “sh”. Now I don’t have to mumble at the deli.

Having just stepped out of a panelled job interview I thought booze and dinner was in order. Indian is an uncommon choice in Perth when compared to others and I’d posit it’s got something to do with perception of value. It’s more expensive than most Asian food and lacking the fine food cues like erm… large white plates? garnish? doesn’t justify it’s premium.

We ordered the rogan josh, a cheese curry whose name escapes me, naan, rice, and a few samosas. The small bowls were underwhelming and the sheer heat of spiciness puts Indian as the death metal of food. Once I got over this I realised I was very wrong. The carbos counter well and ,like death metal, time allows great subtleties to play out (or so I could have found out if I’d stayed at the Hyde Park for more than 20 minutes the other Friday for we’re young, angry, and have suspiciously nice equipment). I was full before I finished and when you pay close to $20 for a main for pub food which is mostly meat and garnish, the bill was fine. Service was great.

The place was packed on a Monday so my theory on the popularity of Indian food is crap and that’s a good thing. Will be back.

Swordfish With Salsa

Captain Billy noooooooo!

Two swordfish fillets the less cooked the better on a barbie then topped with a bit of salsa.

Salsa

2 chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped red onion, 1 tbs chopped coriander, chopped fresh red chili (seeds removed), juice of 1 lime, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Mix.

I’m not big into making cakes but I was given 6 mangoes (into a bar) by one of my students and,feeling catholic, took them but felt guilty and then decided to assuage my guilt by using them for a cheesecake which the class could eat for the final lesson. Good, not too sweet because of the lime juice. Recipe written down from somewhere a long time ago:

Crust:

250gm digestive biscuits (Granita)

1.5 tbs caster sugar

110gm butter

Crush biscuits and mix in with butter and sugar and line the base of a flan tin (with the springy side) with it.

Filling:

2 Mangoes chopped up real good

Juice of one lime

4tbs sugar

Refrigerate this for about half an hour, drain off some liquid, heat a little so 3tsp of gelatine can dissolve in it. Return to the mango mix.

Beat 350gm of cream cheese, stir in 175ml of sour cream and 1tsp of vanilla essence and the fold in the mango mixture and refrigerate until firm.

Students liked it because the lime and sour cream kept it from being overly sweet.

Mashed Potatoes With Pesto

Cook spuds, add some olive oil, add some pesto and mash.

Nothing brilliant but couldn’t be bothered doing anything more and for the effort OK I guess

The Middle Island Fishing Club

While Western Australia does have its orthodoxies with the rest of the world and its uniquities, it is one of the few places I know where people, without too much fuss, will drive for six hours to go to a party. This may say something of our pioneer spirit or pay speak of the poverty of other good social options.

Thanks to a couple of friends, I was invited to the annual seafood dinner of the Middle Island Fishing Club of Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie is part of the mysterious lands east of the Darling Scarp and is a straight 600km east of Perth.

I’d expected was a few blokes bringing a few fish back from their yearly salt-water sabbatical. My first job in the morning busy-bee was helping to shift an industrial double vat deep fryer from where it had been parked after last year’s dinner and, after that, make 20 litres of batter.

My small amount of help left others to lug the two whole legs of beef and rub them down with garlic and salt, shuck 100 dozen oysters, marinate a few hundred beef ribs, put a whole sheep on a roasting rack, get a few dozen fish ready for smoking and generally get things nice for the more than 400 guests on the former tennis courts of the century old Hannan’s club.

I volunteered/gatecrashed to help out on the deep fryer because I love the feeling of searing hot splashes of oil on my arm and find cooking the only type of work I find myself irresistably drawn to. A few hours dipping stuff in batter wasn’t a lot to do in the greater scheme of things and there were only a few minutes when we couldn’t keep up with the line of guests working their way through fried thai fish balls, crumbed sardines and “crocodile”, fish in beer batter and chips. The food for the night went seamlessly with only one professional, a local catering lecturer at TAFE. There were plenty of nice touches like the hams being carried out skewered on a pitchfork. This, happily, left hours for drinking and crap dancing.

This was all very rare. So much good food by so few for so many.

Bircher Muesli

Everything muesli promises and more without the masticative toil. The only trick to this is being able to prepare for events over 8 hours in the future. I often lack this skill so spend my mornings filled with regret.

The night before:

3 cups of rolled oats, 1 cup of OJ, two cups of milk and any chopped up dried fruits on hand. Mixed in a bowl, gladwrapped and left in the fridge.

In the morning:

Add a chopped banana, a grated apple, some yoghurt, a bit of honey, and some nuts ,one of which was sunflower seeds, for crunch.

Stir well and that’s it.

Tastier, healthier and easier to eat than muesli and day long carbo power.

Noodles with Beef and Oyster Sauce

I learnt two things today. Bruce Lee’s original name was a girl’s name in Chinese because his parents had already lost a son and wanted to fool the evil spirits – and this is seeming pretty stupid as I’m typing this but then again he’s the original Boy Named Sue. Anyway he was big on protein and would use raw beef in his smoothies which also seems a pretty stupid story, regardless, his favourite dish was Beef with Oyster Sauce. Quite reasonable no?

My wife who, with her two sisters, happens to have homophonic boy’s names because her father feared evil spirits would take away their car fixing and football playing skills, wanted noodles. Interestingly enough, her Dad is also called Bruce.

Beef: thinly sliced rump marinated in a splash of oil, sesame oil, and soy – purely out of habit

Flavour – one thinly sliced red chilli pepper, a tablespoon or so of ginger, crushed garlic clove and a few thinly sliced white ends of spring onions.

Greens – chopped bok choy

Heat the wok until hot hot, add some peanut (groundnut) oil, added the falvour bits and stir-fried for 30 secinds before adding the beef and stirring until almost cooked.

In went the bok choy for a quick stir and then in went a packet of egg noodles (microwaved for 90 seconds to soften although soaking in a boiling water takes out the oil) with a cup of beef stock. Covered and left for two minutes, then a tablespoon or two of oyster sauce, All stirred and served.

Crepes with Bananas

Skipped dinner and went straight to desert. Couldn’t remember how to make batter. Tsk Tsk.

So here it is. Cup of flour, an egg, teaspoon of baking soda, a cup of milk, a dab of melted butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Is the first pancake always a dud? The successful two had the slice banana put at one end with a line of golden syrup and rolled with some ice cream on top

Black Pudding with Poached Eggs and Mushrooms

More or less taken from a Jamie Oliver recipe in Delicious magazine

Not quite the fry up I really needed as most of the booze had worked its way off in the 3k walk home at 1:30am in the optimistic hope that a taxi would eventually come along. The beer drinking also tapered off after the 98th minute loss by the Wallabies to England. Not normally one for displays of nationalism, I kicked out the jams here and spent the last half of the game in a kind of anxiety usually reserved for those awaiting the outcome of a biopsy. No joy but had to be gracious in defeat and the only bum note was watching our spotlight mugging PM handing out the medals to the English team like a tubby kid being forced to share his Tim Tams with his friends. Shameful really.

Anyway nothing tricky here. Eggs poached as before, mushrooms fried whole in a pan, the black pudding sliced to about half a cm and fried until cooked then all put on a bit of lightly toasted rye bread. The black pudding distintegrated while cooking so it looked a mess.

Not bad, the pudding was mostly salty and probably gave me all the iron I needed for a month.

When’s cricket?

Porterhouse with a Green Peppercorn Sauce

Having my wish for pizza collectively declined we decided to go for steak and four bits of porterhouse sitting there at closing time at the butchers at Herdies.

A bit of olive oil and pepper chucked into the bag with the steaks and left while I made the sauce.

I think this is the first time I’ve made a peppercorn sauce and did a bit of guessing, not having the recipe handy. A single shallot very finely chopped and sauteed a little in some olive oil (no butter). A cup or so of beef stock was added and left to boil away until reduced by half, then a tub of (King Island Dairy on special) cream went in too. I also added a splash of lemon juice as I’ve got some idea in my head that it stops the cream from curdling when boiling. This may be complete rubbish but I’m too lazy to find out otherwise and it seemed to work. The cream was added a spoon at a time and whisked in.

I wasn’t sure when the peppercorns went in so I added a teaspoon, and then another later and kept tasting to see how it was going along. I ended up using about half of one of those tiny tins they come in. After about 5 minutes of simmering and whisking every the sauce was ready to go on the BBQ cooked steaks with the slices of eggplant, asparagus and yellow squash also cooked on the barbie.

I don’t know how similar it’d be with pedestrian cream but it was fantastic.

Black Pudding

Found some at Herdies Growers Fresh. Never had it, always wanted to after watching the

Goodies. Probably for Sunday fry-up after recovering from Wallaby victory in World Cup Rugby Finals.

Mushroom, Spinach and Polenta Lasagne

My grandmother told me off for talking about polenta like someone would, Fellini, as this charming peasant food was actual peasant food for her in the old country while she cooked for her two brothers as a girl. So this is not my grandmother’s recipe but was modified from Loukie Werle’s Splendido which I hadn’t looked at for a while.

This took about 2 hours plus all up so no not food for busy people but I had some time so why not?

A few parts:

-Polenta cooked (if you don’t know how, go and find out now and look up bechamel sauce while you’re at it) and spread out to a centimetre depth and left to cool in a shallow pan.

-Make some bechamel sauce.

-Swiss brown mushrooms cooked with some sauteed onion and garlic with some chopped FL parsley added at the end.

-Chopped spinach with some pine nuts goldened in olive oil for a bit of crunchy texture. Although my lazy spinach washing had already done the crunchy bit for me.

In a dish a layer of the cooled polenta, followed by a layer of the mushrooms , then half the white sauce, then another layer of polenta, then the spinach, then the bechamel sauce, then some Parmesan.

Cook covered in foil for 40 minutes at 180C then take off the foil and brown the top for 10.

That was it. It doesn’t have the neat layered look of the pasta lasagne, sort of spilling out into a kind of stew. Actually it reminded me of bread and butter pudding.

A nice enough substitute for time-rich people with a wheat allergy who hanker for lasagne.

Mmmm mmmm mmmmmm driving back from the Innaloo fish markets with two bits of salmon. A rare treat and while not thinking about this , I wondered what to do with it. Grilling is good but pretty pedestrian in Japan where it’s the breakfast equivalent of bacon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

First look was in my copy of Cordon Bleu at Home which offered salmon in a lemon butter. This was the fallback. Next was Donna Hay’s book which is always good but miso with tahini seemed contrived and the jar of tahini in my fridge had become a keepsake. Next was a Japanese Orange Page omnibus which led me to the following.

Two salmon steaks with a marinade of:

a tablespoon of red miso

a tablespoon of cooking sake

a teaspoon or so of finely grated ginger

and marinated for 30 minutes

They were then wrapped in foil and cooked in the oven for 12 minutes at 180C. Nicely largely sized they weren’t quite cooked so I finished them off for a couple more minutes on a stove top griller. Then served with the spinach and a bit of lemon.

The Spinach:

This was saved from the juicer and chopped with a couple of spring onions. The spring onions were gently sauteed until a little soft and then the spinach was added with a splah of sake, cooked until softened and then a splash of garlic chili soy sauce* was added and then cooked a little longer.

Both were great the spinach was saved from my usual butter and nutmeg combo and the salmon was exquisite (all gushiness aside), the miso just adding a hint of saltiness and sake is a great keeper of moistness.

* this is just some soy sauce in a jar with a few dried chillies and a few garlic cloves.

Poached Eggs

Poaching liquid was as follows:

Equal parts one week old bottle of white wine and water.

2 dried chillies

2 bay leaves

12 peppercorns.

When simmering gently in went the eggs and out they came when cooked.

Very good.

Penne with Mushrooms

Pretensions of making a simple pasta sauce here and although I had a bunch of spinach to get rid of, it could wait until tomorrow’s juice.

The sauce was a tbs of olive oil, heated in a fry pan with a couple of thinly sliced garlic cloves. Next in went four reasonably finely chopped field mushrooms and left to saute adding a bit olive oil here and a dab of butter there to keep it moist as well as some chopped flat leaf parsley and sage and later, some pepper.

Onto the penne went the sauce. There should be about a tbs or two of juices, oil, and butter to coat the penne and it was all topped with some romano cheese.

It was good, I was happy, simple is good.

Sino-Indian Kentucky Cobbler

Putting liquor stores aside for a moment, there are few stores with a higher figure for (desirable stock/stock) x (variety/average price) than a fishmongers. They do, therefore, take a while to get out of. There are also a lot of status issues. Do I get a small amount of a better fish and be aspirationally cheap or go for the mullet special and hope that I’m regarded as a kind of low cost cognoscenti such as with whitebait or tripe? Today was cobbler fillets, which translates as budget boho.

Cobbler is also known as catfish, which calls for cajun spices. I didn’t have any so it became sino-indian with Kentucky skin cobbler. This came about because of Mike Brady Obsessive Disorder. The MBOD is for anything where one success is forever transferred into other inappropriate contexts. The best bit of 1990s Brady Movie is where Mike unveils his plan for a recreation centre which looks just like his home. Hitler, Jimmy Barnes, and Economics Rationalists – all sufferers.

The first spice was ground cumin seeds, which I think is usually part of cajun spices, is certainly part of a lot of Indian dishes, and is good with fish. Out of cayenne pepper so I reached back to an earlier success and used dry roasted for two minutes and crushed szechuan peppercorns. A teaspoon of both went in with half a cup of flour. Fondly remembering how good the crispy chicken was, I added a couple of tablespoons of potato starch (hence the Kentucky Fried skin). Plates are always messy for dusting so I just chuck the flour mix into a freezer bag. The fillets then follow, having been dipped in a beaten egg, and then the bag is given a shake.

Butter in the skillet until getting to brown and then in went the fillets until cooked.

The result was tasty for my wife but perhaps she was being nice or just not biting the hand that feeds her. The mix is worth a try but the peppercorns were quite sweet and so was the cumin which didn’t sit well with the egg. Perhaps a dry dusting with the flour mix would have been better. Worth a try though.

Asparagus Steached in White Wine

Asparagus is $1.50 a bunch.

Another small experiment. Given the size of my lidded frypan and the amount of white wine I had, the half submerged asparagus got both a steaming and a poaching.

A cup of white wine, half a cup of water, a few peppercorns in a lidded frypan and then in go the asparagus for a gentle steamy simmering for about five minutes.

I then kept the asparagus warm, boiled the wine until reduced to about a half. I also should have kept it as a base floavour for research purposes but chucked a few sprigs of thyme from the erb garden in as well. No harm done.

Melted a tablesoon of butter add a tablespoon of the reduced wine, stirred and then poured it over the asparagus.

Oh I’d also quickly seared the asparagus in the remnant grease of the mutton chops I’d cooked on one of those oven top grilling plates. The chops had been marinated in some balsamic vinegar and rosemary olive oil.

Eggs with Spinach in Ramekins

or as somebody kindly pointed out – you could also use a muffin tray.

Eggs with Spinach in Ramekins

I saw something like this somewhere but forgot where so I reconstructed it from memory. It was triggered by breakfast on Saturday at the New Norcia bakery which is part of the bakery owned by Catholic Monks in New Norcia. I’m not sure of the degree of their involvement, but in the light of current theological debates about exclusion, that they could find a place in their hearts, and cafe, for the miserable of wait staff. To the point, they had a special which was a piece of toast with the corners turned up to make a bowl and then the eggs are baked in the toast bowl. Simple but nifty.

Come Sunday I dug out four ramekins. Cooked some chopped spinach in the microwave and added a bit of butter and some nutmeg. Meanwhile I chopped up some asparagus and field mushrooms into small pieces and cooked them in some olive oil until the asparagus was cooked but crunchy. I then evenly distributed the mix into the ramekins, leaving a large enough indent for a whole egg, plus a bit. Broke an egg into each one and then topped up with some cream and ground some pepper on top. They were then put into the oven until cooked which took about 10 minutes I think and then eaten with toast. Good and less of a hassle than poaching.

Garlic Chahan

Fried rice really. Cooked rice dried a little by spreading it out on a pan and then popping it in the oven with just the fan on.

Get a couple of eggs, beat them with a little slat and pepper and quickly cook in a wok and reserve.

Take four or five thinly sliced cloves of garlic and stir-fry until a little coloured, then add a few finely sliced spring onions, then add a handful of minced beef, stir until cooked. Add a tablespoon or so of extra oil and then toss in the rice, stir quickly until coated with the oil, throw in the eggs, then add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and serve.

Izakaya Food

Last night I made dinner for friends to raise a few bucks for Austcare and made a Japanese pub “Izakaya” food menu. Izakayas are one of the few non-specialised kinds of Japanese restaurants and make pretty much everything. In addition to the usual yakitori and nigiri sushi I made a few less well known here but quite common dishes. The dishes were served at regualr intervals throughout the night. Here are four of them and hopefully I can put the others up later.

Ika Geso Age – Fried Squid Legs

Squid legs are cheap and considering they’re all edible, unlike mussels and mullets, represent exceptional value as they’re as good as anything else in the sea. They’re not really substantial enough to hold a batter so potato starch is used as the coating.

Place the legs in a plastic bag, add a few drops of chili oil or tabasco and mix around. Then pour enough potato starch into the bag to coat the legs and shake the bag well.

Then just fry in 180C vegetable oil for about a minute and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Buta Kim-Chee Pork with Spicy Pickled Cabbage

Buta Kim-Chee – Pork with Spicy Pickled Radish.

Easy. Slice up some pork into bite sized slices, stir fry until almost cooked, toss in some kim-chee, which isn’t too hard to find at asian stores, and stir until the pork is fully cooked and the kim chee is heated through.

Saikoro Steak

I always wondered what the saikoro meant but just means “cube” which is pretty bloody dull really. Anyway cube meat, I used topside, into bite size cubes sprinkled it with salt and pepper and then marinated it in half of a mixture of equal parts soy sauce, sake , and mirin.

Once marinated I cooked it on a hot plate ’til cooked then topped it with finely grated daikon (giant radish) and then poured the rest of the marinade over it.

Kara age Chicken

This is the finest thing I make.
Chicken cut into bite sized pieces and then marinated in ginger, garlic with 2tbs each of soy sauce and sake plus a little pepper and salt

Having marinated the chicken, dust it with potato starch (used in chinese cooking as a thickener similar to cornstarch – the japanese use katakuriko which is translated sometimes as potato starch and sometimes dogstarch).

Then it’s deep fried at 180C until golden.

Tofu with Chinese Greens

Healthy and good.

Had some fresh Tofu. Popped it in the microwave for a minute to toughen it up and patted it down with some paper towels. I then sliced it into 1cm slices and dusted them with half flour and half potato starch which gives it a tasty “skin”. They were then fried on both sides with bit of oil. Meanwhile I’d snuck some thinly sliced garlic into the wok and let it colour slighty at the same time.

Meanwhile chopped up some chinese greens, can’t remember the name but one of the long “boks”, popped them in the microwave for a minute and a half and then colled them down under running water and left them to drain.

By the time the tofu had coloured I chucked in the greens, splashed in some Chinese rice wine, and a couple of tablespoons of oyster sauce and stirred well over heat for a minute and served.

This was taken from the very helpful Jpanese housework mag “Orange Page”.

Veal Tortellini with Mushroom Gravy

This was a happy experiment.

I had some fresh tortellini to be rid of. Actually it wasn’t fresh in the true sense just one of those sealed packs that last a couple of weeks. I was just going to have some mushrooms with a tomato sauce but I found some really nice small field mushrooms at the Subi markets on the weekend and was worried about swamping them with tomato so I yanked them out of the pan and chopped up the small piece of pancetta that I had in the fridge.

This I fried until it’s colour started to change then chucked in a thinly sliced eschallot – softened it and then in went the mushrooms with a splash more olive oil and some pepper. Stirred until softened and then I tossed in half and a bit of a glass of cardboard red and brought to the boil, them allowed to simmer.

Then I mixed in barely half a cup of tomato puree and allowed to simmer.

This went on top of the by now cooked tortellini and a mutton chop from the farm.

It was great. The sauce was very meaty, even without the assistance of beef stock and made a change from my usual pasta sauce combos.

Goya Champon

Goya is called bitter melon I think. It’s the size of a large cucumber, tapered at the end, light green, with deep knobbly ridges. It is amzingly bitter, well within the realms of quinine, but tasty in this recipe. This is a traditional Okinawan dish, Okinawa being part of Japan but a different culture and was part of the US from 1945 to 1973. They then had to switch the island from driving on the right to driving on the left. The ingredients for this are pretty basic – goya, tofu, bacon, and a couple of eggs

Anyway get a goya and slice it lengthwise and scrape out the pulpy inner. Then slice it crosswise into 3mm slices, they should look like narrow arches.

Mean while get a block of tofu or I just used the deep fried tofu. For deep fried tofu it’s not a bad idea to pour some boiling water over to rinse out the extra oil. Then slice it a bit thicker than the goya into rectangles.

Fry the Tofu in a frypan with a little sesame oil until it’s browned slightly. Then add some bacon or better still, thinly sliced pork belly, cook then remove.

Now add the goya slices and fry them in a little more sesame oil until they change colour. Return the pork and tofu add a tablespoon of soy, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then mix in two beaten eggs, stir until lightly set and serve.

It’s one of my favourites because of the unusual bitterness of the goya which brings out the natural sweetness of the pork and the eggs, The tofu acts as a texture juxtaposition as the goya should retain much of its crunch. There’s also the nice shape contrast of the round of the goya and the squares of tofu. A lot going on for such a simple dish.

Stuffed and Baked Baby Squid

A modified recipe as an entree. A dozen finger length squid hoods with the following stuffing.

A cup of cooked and finely chopped spinach (with a bit of nutmeg), half a cup of breadcrumbs moistened with milk, half a cup of ricotta, 2tbs of pine-nuts (goldened in a little olive oil and chopped), salt pepper.

Stuffed the squid hoods with the stuffing, fastened with a toothpick, and then put in a lidded casserole dish with half a cu of dry white and cooked for 40 minutes in the oven at 200C.

Then reduced the remaining juices and cooked in some diced tomato, pouring it over the squid.

Nice but I would halve the amount of pine nuts as they dominated the flavour too much, or as I saw elsewhere, use walnuts.

Steak Sandwich

This was done a while ago and went MIA

Monstrously good when done well and my servo favourite. Haven’t had a great one for a while. This may be the effect of no longer thinking Fried Meat thing in a Wonton Wrapper called a Dim Sum and Cheese Sausage is great servo food either. A steak sandwich has two things: steak and onions, and bread which is three but anyway two ingredients and nostalgia makes it pretty hard to replicate. A bit like reliving a Spring day in Paris with a piece of cheese and a bottle of red. Worth a try though.

Thought I’d try to push the flavour of the steak a bit with a marinade. The marinade was 2tbs oil, a tbs soy, and a splash of worcestershire, I also added a tablespoon of water with cornstarch for no other reason than I think Chinese do it to make the beef “velvety”.

Onions sliced and fried until softened. Seta aside. Steak, which had been cut into strips for quicker cooking. Seared on one side, turned, and the onions placed on top. Once cooked, placed between two buttered bits of toast.

The marinade made a small difference. The biggest one was, that for not having the steaks pounded down to their last existential thickness, there was a faint tang of blood. Good

Sunday night. Nothing on telly and a severe weather warning outside so home cooking it was. It was a top up between scotch fillet and porterhouse and porterhouse won purely on looks.

The sauce.

- Reduced a cup of beef stock by half and set aside.

- Cooked finely chopped field mushrooms in a dab of butter with a splash of the stock until soft and set aside.

- put a glass of leftover sparkling shiraz and reduced it with a couple of inches of rosemary and some peppercorns. Added the mushrooms and the stock and then reduced a bit further.

The Mash

Chopped up three big spuds and microwaved them until soft. Meanwhile I sauteed 3 cloves of minced garlic mourning that these ostensibly healthy things were drenched in fungicide. So much for colds but at it may at least give my tinea a run for its money. Poured garlic and butter over the spuds, added some milk and then pureed. I then mixed in some garden fresh chopped parsley.

The steak.

Sprinkled with pepper and then cooked quickly in a fry pan with some olive oil.

Broccolini

Steamed.

Mash went on one side of the plate, broccolini on the other, steak on top of the mash and then the sauce went over the steak and into the mash.

Enjoyed a great deal with a bottle of Goundrey’s cabernet shiraz.

Champagne Moussaka

Not enough gorgeousness in these recipes and not enough use of the verb swirl. I was at the supermarket and apropos of nothing, decided moussaka was the go. I guessed well enough that it had minced lamb, eggplant and nutmeg. A white sauce just needed milk. Several parts: eggplant, white sauce, meatsauce and cheese. The Womans Weekly cookbook from the time of ounces provided the basics.

Meat sauce:

A chopped onion, some minced garlic and half a kilo of beef, sauteed until the rawness. In then went a jar of italian tomato sauce, a tbs of tomato paste, a cup of champagne left over from the weekend in lieu of white wine, a tsp of nutmeg, salt and pepper, all left to simmer away.

White sauce:

50gm of butter, melted, taken off heat and then half a cup of flour whisked in. Salt, pepper and half a tsp of nutmeg. Returned to heat for a minute and stirred. Taken off heat 400ml of milk slowly mixed in . Returned to heat and to boil, stirred until thickened. Then a beaten egg was whisked in. Put aside.

Eggplants:

Salted, rinsed, dried, sliced, and then fried in olive oil.

Cheese:

Cheddar grated with some boccocini.

Potato:

Thinly sliced and microwaved until cooked.

Assembly:

In a greased casserole dish, the potato and eggplant is placed on the bottom. Half the cheese over that. The the meat sauce. Then the white sauce, followed by the rest of the cheese. Bunged in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Marvellous

Scuse

The frenzy of steak sandwich postings. Problem with the interface rather than blood stoked mania

Pasta Cabonara

I always imagine this has cream in it but it hasn’t. Am I mistaken or are there creamy Cabonara’s out here causing dismay to Mrs Medici. Cabonara is one of those small but tasty sets of foods where the eggs are cooked by the dish itself. The technique is used in Japanese cooking with raw eggs used as a dip for the cooked beef and used in rice bowls. My favourite snack was just a hot bowl of rice and then mixing in a tin of tuna and a raw egg with a bit of wasabi.

Three things are going on:

A. A handful of chopped pancetta, a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic, and olive oil are slowly and carefully fried. The thick base of a La Creuset pan does a good job with this. A bit of pepper didn’t hurt.

B. A couple of eggs with finely grated parmesan whisked together.

C. Cooked fettucine.

A goes on C and is mixed in , quickly followed by B.

Eggs cook parmesan melts. Good

Just something to go with this chicken and cheese thing I bought at the butchers.

4 chopped up potatoes and 1 small sweet potato. Microwaved for

8 minutes, then I chucked in some milk and a splash of olive oil. I then discovered the joys of a handhold blender after my masher vanished. Great. I expected this to go everywhere but it just slowly did its work.

Meanwhile I’d sauteed some chopped pancetta with two chopped up garlic cloves in some olive oil. This went in the mash and stirred in with some pepper.

Better than the chicken.

Pizza

Nachos were off the menu so a pizza base was yanked out of the freezer. Smeared with tomato paste and topped with coppa, sauteed field mushrooms, basil, some minced date olives, and feta, romano and cheddar cheese.

What made this good was putting it in a Bessemer handleless frypan, searing it with olive oil and frying it a while with the pizza in it to get the base crusty. It then went in the oven at 220C for 12 minutes.

Beef and Guinness Stew

Winter struck, snow in some parts of WA, which, for here, is the equivalent of raining frogs in novelty. Cold so a stew made sense before BBQ season hit.

First things, a kilo of chuck steak , diced and popped in a casserole dish in the oven at 200C to seal the outsides. Half an hour was too long, so maybe 15.

Meanwhile, fry a couple of chopped onions and, before they’re too fried, mix in a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of mustard. I used grainy mustard which left lots of tasty orbs floating around in the gravy. Kept stirring until caramelised.

Then, in went 500ml of beef stock and 500ml of guiness. 500ml of Guinness is too much for one draught can so the remaining 340ml can be put to good use. Additionally it’s better value to buy a four pack. Bring to a boil and then reduce to desired thickness.

Once that was done, in went the beef, rosemary and thyme, and a glass of red. I also added a couple of handfulls of mushrooms and a couple of diced spuds to counteract the inauthenticity of the mushrooms. Hate to upset anybody. The starch of the spuds acts as a thickener as well.

The plan was to let it simmer in the pot and drink until overcome by hunger. This took about two hours, by which time the budget beef was as tender as you could want. It was fun to just stick my head in the pot and breath in the aroma, it would have made for an interesting sauna and the smell stayed around until the next morning.

Served with New Norcia sourdough. It was facking marvellous – the flavour doesn’t hit at first but accumulates and then all the stew was gone. How sad.

Roast Chicken with Szechuan Peppercorns

Szechuan peppercorns are also known as red peppercorns. Here it was first roasted in a frying pan until it started to smoke.

One whole chicken with the backbone taken out and flattened. It’s then rubbed down with a tablespoon of dark soy sauce. On the chicken went the seasonings.

1.5 tsp of szechuan peppercorns, 1tsp of black peppercorns and 1tsp of salt – all ground in a mortar.

Left to sit for an hour, it then went in the oven at 220C. I didn’t have a rack that fitted so I put the chicken, bones side down on some bok choy instead. 20 minutes at 220C then another 30 at 180C. Rested it for a few minutes and tore apart. The recipe called for a sprinkling of coriander but there was no need as it was more than sufficiently tasty

Pasta with yabbies in a cream sauce

Yabbies are a kind of freswater prawn, they have a local name of djuligies – the spelling of which I’m not sure. They’re also known as kunacks, and in some European cookbooks as crayfish which is a clawless lobster here and known as ise-ebi in Japan and don’t the Americans call these rock lobsters and the British have no word for them. Anyway we’ve got yabbies on our farm and catching them is just a matter of chucking in a a trap and coming back the next day and chucking out the small ones. We kept 50 out of a catch of 200 or so.

Killing and Cleaning – the painless way.

1. Place them in a freezer in a bag. They will then drift off into a deep sleep so I’m told. Once they are sleeping deeply – twist their tails off and chuck away the heads. The heads, I believe, then go on to a more euphemistic kind of rest.

2. The tail has three “flippers” at the end, grab the middle one, twist it and then yank out the pooh tube.

3. Peeling is tricky raw so quickly blanch in some boiling water.

The advantge of this method is the meat’s taste stays cleaner, if you boil them whole, the head imparts a much muddier taste. The traditional method is simply to boil in salted water, peel and eat.

This is a marginally adapted recipe from Gourmet Traveller quite a few years back so has the temporal signiature of sun-dried tomatoes.

Chopped one or two scallions and a clove of garlic.

Sauted gently for a minute in the oil of the sundried tomatoes which I had also just chopped up two tablespoons of.

Added the sundried tomatoes, sauteed for a minute, I then added the peeled yabbie tails and stirred quickly. I left them in but you could yank them out and return them later.

Added one cup of chicken stock and half a cup of white wine, Brought to boil and reduced slightly.

I then added a cup or so of cream and a squeeze of lemon and reduce a little further. Added some pepper and then half a cup of parmesan and served over fettucine.

OMLETTE

Omlettes are bastards. They are humblers. Out there there are people who can make perfectly done omlettes, lightly browned on the outside, a tad runny in the middle, and folded into neat thirds with a tap of the handle. For them, a handful of herbs sublimates. I am not one of them, I suck at omlettes. The taste is just eggy and has the appearance of scrabled eggs left to cook too long on one sidea .

7 eggs, a splash of milk (maybe this is the problem), chopped parsley, chopped sundried tomatoes left to sit for 20 minutes. Melted some butter in the pan, poured in half the mixture, when set a little, a handful of chopped tomatoes, fold unsuccessfully, and slither out onto plate.

PINK SNAPPER WITH CHINESE GREENS

4 nice snapper fillets.

Wanted to try something other than frying in butter – nothing wrong with that mind.

Marinated them in some finely chopped ginger, two tablespoons of sake, a tablespoon of vege oil, and the juice of one lemon.

GENERAL WARNING – marinating for more than half and hour tends to make the fish crumbly. So marinated for less than half an hour then cooked in a frypan with the lid on to retain the moistness that I was hoping to get by steaming but couldn’t because it was poo-poohed by the others. Cooked and placed on some shortgrain rice and the chinese greens. Fancy bits were some lemon rind on the fish and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.

Greens – steam then cool quickly under cold water and just before the fish is ready, quickly stirfried in a little sesame oil and a tablespoon of oyster sauce.

This came about from an esky full of mutton from my Dad who happens to be a sheep farmer, a yet to be used boning knife, and a recipe from Loukie Werle’s Splendido book that I mentioned before. The recipe actually said lamb but lamb is grossly overrated. It’s wooly chicken, a vehicle for sauces, as my friend Greg said, if you’re going to have a Torana SLR5000 then have a bright green one. So anyway I had a shoulder of mutton sitting in my fridge and it was Sunday.

Boning is easy and, as a word, makes me laugh. Run the knife along the leg bone, cutting away the meat and then wrench out the shoulder – cutting as necessary. Not the tidiest job but aforementioned Greg’s dog didn’t mind. The shoulder is then a flat long piece of meat that usually gets stuffed and rolled but was left as is here.

I then olive oiled and peppered the meat. Into a mortar and pestle, I put the herbs I had in my garden – some rosemary, parsley, and a mangy bit of thyme and pestled them together with a couple of cloves of garlic. This gets smeared all over the meat and then the meat is wrapped tightly in glad wrap. This leaves the marinade with nowhere to go, rather than pool at the bottom of a dish. The book recommended 8 hours but I only had 4. The flavour gap was made up by sprinkling rosemary over it before roasting.

Popping in a roasting dish and roasted for 20 minutes at 200C. 180 after that – it was another 30. During this time I basted it now and then with red wine with some rosemary leaves that had been soaking in it. Rested it for 15 minutes wrapped in foil.

Gravy was made by deglazing the pan, reducing down some red wine, then adding some beef stock, followed by some cornflour in a bit of hot water to gravy it.

It was fantastic.

Accompanied by roast veges and broad beans

BROAD BEANS

I’m sure you’re supposed to soak these overnight but I can never remember to do this so I just rinse then and then chuck them in a pot with some chicken stock, a bay leaf and some parsley. Brought to a boil and then simmered until mushy enough to eat.

DAIKON SALAD

Part of a larger tempura dinner. Daikon is giant radish, called “geisha” at Coles . Further strides in such imaginative marketing will see wasabi renamed to ninja and nori to death by overwork. If it’s any help they are supposed to look like the legs of High School Girls.

Daikon is great for it’s refreshing radishy taste and its versatility and can be used grated on steak, cut into crudites for dips (miso and mayonnaise), cut into rounds and stewed, or grated into threads or shaved into strips with a peeler and used in a salad, which is the case here.

The dressing is 2 parts soy sauce, 2 parts (rice) vinegar, one part sesame oil as a base (adjust to taste). To this I added a crushed garlic clove, some lightly fried ginger and a couple of tablespoons of pan roasted sesame seeds.

The daikon shavings went in a salad bowl, had the dressing poured over it, and then broken up bits of death by overwork over the top (which can popped in the oven for a minute or two so it breaks up more easily. Canned tuna is nice in this but I was already having some nice squid and kingfish sashimi so the John West might have come a distant second.

LEFTOVER FRIED RICE

Which is a nice little tautology or should that be a redundancy.

Rissotoey gruel still left over after the nabe.

Chinese cabbage quickly stirfried in toubanjan. Smoking alleviatedby a splash of Chinese rice wine. Taken out of the wok and chopped up.

Egg beaten and then tossed into the wok, quickly scrambled and taken out.

A bit of oil and then was quickly stirfried, splash of rice wine, added some chopped spring onions, the cabbage, and the egg.

Served

LEFTOVER LAKSA

Stuck in my mind after being linked with an Islamic terrorist group by our PM. Laksa Jihad will no doubt join other revolutionary menu items such as the fearsome Bread Rigade and the Ultra Maoist Shining Parfait.

Some leftover fried tofu, chicken, chinese cabbage, and carrot.

The laksa paste is stir fried until “fragrant”. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant but the spices need to be cooked, so a few minutes seemed to be enough. Added a can of coconut milk and two cups of chicken stock. In went the rest of the ingredients, simmered for 10 minutes and then poured over some rice noodles.

Nabe

Short notice dinner party. Pronounced Nah beh and is the Japanese version of the Chinese Steam Boat which is a kind of stock based interactive casserole. It always amazes me that the closest Western food came to this is the Fondue as a way of letting the cook having a look in at the dinner table. The price to pay for this extra social interaction is the kitchen nazi must yield control of the cooking process to others and I have to confess that this is a difficult thing to do. I’ve almost lost a friend because they forked their sausages before they were cooked, taken mortal offense at somebody using salt, and so on…

Nabe is just shopping and chopping.

From the fish markets: some crabs, prawns, fish bones and, in lieu of salmon and cod, Spanish Mackeral Steaks.

From the markets: savoy cabbage (the big chinese ones), carrots, bamboo shoots, daikon (giant white radish/geisha), spinach, spring onions, deep fried tofu, shiitake mushrooms.

From the freezer: some chicken wings and breast.

All are chopped up into bite sized pieces. The larger they are the longer they’ll take to cook. Crabs peeled and chopped, prawns kept whole but the pooh tube wangled out with a skewer. Chicken wings – very tip of wings chopped off and separated into wing bit and drumstick bit. Chicken breast was defrosted in the microwave and stuffed up by crossing the razor thin rubicon from frozen to well done. Should have been raw. Gah

Gear: I’ve got the real deal, an earthenware nabe pot, and a table top gas burner to keep it bubbling. The latter is handy- take it camping. The basic need though is a heat source and something to cook the food in so Mum’s orange crock pot, an electric frypan, or a fondue set will do. Everyone needs a bowl, some chopsticks, and a spoon. Leave a bowl out for bits of prawn and bone.

STOCK: Water- the stock gets its flavour from the ingredients as it’s cooked OR a head start can be given by a piece of konbu soaked in the water for half and hour, bought to the boil and then taken out. Fish bones or head simmered for a while and also taken out. Or traditionally, some dashi and a splash of mirin.

DIPPING STUFF Lemon Soy: half a cup of soy and a tablesoon or two of lemon juice.

Grated Daikon and chopped spring onions.

That was it. Everything went on the table and the ingredients were put into the pot in dribs and drabs. They come out when cooked and dipped in the bowls with some dipping stuff in it. Once we’d had enough, a brief pause, and I added cooked short grain rice to make a (no really) tasy gruel.

ABRIDGED Version: Sorry this really shouldn’t look so hard. Chuck seafood, chicken, and veges in a pot, simmer and then help yourself maybe with some soy sauce with bit of lemon juice in it.

TOAST WITH CHEESE

Not cheese toasties. Sliced cheddar on a warm piece of toast is far superior to melty cheese with toast. Why? Well there’s a contrast between the hot toast and the cold cheese which accentuates the contrast between the sweetness of the bread and he sharpness of the cheese. The toast is the yan to the cheeses’ yin. Smooth peanut paste with wholemeal, and white with crunchy.

SCALLOPS

Dinner with friends in the bush last night so I found some scallops* in the shell and took them up with me. Half the shells I sprinkled some sake and a smidgen of salt over them and the other half I put some butter, some pepper** and a narrow strip of lemon rind for some placebic flavour. Cooked them under the griller for 3 minutes.

They’re better cooked from under on the BBQ, from the top tends to dry them out on the top too much without cooking them enough for most ( I like them raw best but anyway). The ones in the shell still had the orange roe on them which has a different taste altogether and not to everyone’s liking. The salt wasn’t needed as the shell and their cooking in their own juices imparts an oceany flavour.

*I used to assume, growing up in the country myself, that scallops, like all seafood had a skin of breadcrumbs which could be fried and eaten.

**Sarawak Black Pepper, if you can’t find this, ordinary pepper will suffice however blah blah blah….

TAN TAN MEN

This broth is from a Japanese book on sauces. It seems the easiest to do of the Ramen family – the pro cookbooks require a few kilos of pork fat and unrecognisable bits of innards for the magical taste. Anyway it’s better than most of the soups here in Perth, which taste like greasy water.

Anyway the broth – 6tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs of toubanjyan* (spicy bean paste), 2 tsp of rice vinegar, 2tbs sesame oil, salt/ pepper and 2tbs cooking sake. Mix them up and then add a couple of cups of chicken stock and another four cups of water and heat. A great and subtle mix of meatiness, sourness, and spiciness. I decide to add a teaspoon or two of powdered chicken stock and it then tasted like crap. So, needless to say, don’t add powdered stock.

As for the rest, I sliced up some fresh bamboo shoots and quickly stir fried them in sesame oil to be used as a topping later I diced up some fried Tofu, soaked a little while in hot water to get the oil out beforehand, and stir fried it with toubanjyan, ginger, garlic, spring onion whites and a bit of sake to stop it sticking. Mince could have been used instead of the tofu. I added the broth to this then the firm ends of some Chinese greens, later followed by the leafy bits and simmered them until soft. Poured this over some egg noodles, placed the bamboo shoots on top and ate.

* Not at all hard to get and very good for the addition of spicy oompf to stir fries.

POTATO, PANCETTA, LENTILS

Tasty, healthy, easy. These three so often have to apologise for eachother but no need. As a Volvo driver I can appreciate the quiet practicality of lentils and wonder at their malignment from burger munchin’ Falcon drivers. This is from a great recently purchased book by Loukie Werle on Italian cooking “Splendido” that had been popped into the discount. Undeservedly so as its only crime seems to have been a lack of pictures and a lack of catchy character pushing on her own behalf that would have helped her stick in my mind as firmly in my head as my favourite soap star of Big Brother contestant. This is a POP but takes some time stirring so I passed the time with a few snorts of sherry.

Diced up a carrot, an onion, a small carrot, some celery finely and sauteed in a casserole dish in olive oil with a couple of sprigs of thyme and some finely diced pancetta for 10 minutes. Added a cup of brown lentils, stirred, seasoned and added enough water to cover by a centimetre. It took me about 30 minutes to get the lentils cooked with the lid on and another half an hour to cook the four diced potatoes with the lid off in an additional cup of chicken stock. As an addition I fished an Italian sausage out of the freezer and fried it up, mixing it in with the dish.

Ate it with some tasty pumpkin and herb damper from the markets with some olive oil on it.