italian

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In Italy, a bowl was something special. Often given at special occasions such as weddings or christenings, they would become part of the family. Each scrape of the spoon; another mark on life to be noted and remembered. Una ciotola è come amici – pochi ma ben scelti. As bowls were few, dishes tended to very simple affairs – a lasagne, for example, would be a simple combination of ragu and white sauce.  A salad – some lettuce with ripe tomatoes.

In today’s industrialised society, we have lots of bowls.  So why not celebrate by using a shitload of ingredients and and a whole cupboardful of the hemispherical fuckers?

Tadah! The multi ingredient lasagne for hungry pre-Blackwood Marathoners.

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My lasagne had the following:

- silverbeet steamed and then lightly tossed in a pan with chopped walnuts
- tomato sauce. Quarter two kilos of ripe tomatoes place in a roasting tin with half a head of garlic cloves, olive oil and salt. Roast at 150C until soft. Breakup in a frypan and run through a colander. Return to the frypan to mix through a couple of tablespoon of tomato paste and to cook down to the right consistency.
- smoked chicken breast, sliced. This is what helps to bring the chicken flavours up in the mix rather than just sit there like sauce-coated chewable protein chunks.
- similar amounts of raw chicken - thighs or breasts or both. Cubed and then lightly browned and cooked with 8 sage leaves.
- eggplant. Sliced into cm slices, lain in a roasting tray coated in olive oil. Drizzle a bit of the olive oil on top and allow to soften in the oven at the same time as the tomatoes.
- broccolini, asaparagus, and something that looks a lot like broccolini but is purple. Steamed and chopped.
- white sauce.
- button mushrooms. Sliced and cooked in butter.
- mozarella, parmesan, and butter on the top with white sauce.

Layer as you see fit. I actually can’t remember what went with what and the more I try, the more confused I become. I think the smoked chicken went with the mushrooms and the eggplant and some white sauce. And the chicken with silverbeet. I hate doing white sauce. For one, it takes forever. For two, it doesn’t help with cooking through the butter and flour if you don’t turn the hotplate on. For three, it makes me think of a thousand failed Home Ec assignments – really, it’s like walking on the bones of the dead. Beautiful fresh pasta was very nicely hand made for me – class.

Our crack team ‘The Mescaleros’ went on to rag tag glory of 23rd out of 84 horseless competitors. I reached my own personal cycling leg goal of a time somewhere between 40-50 minutes, not having a myocardial infarction and heatstroke, and not being overtaken by a mountainbike. Other features included swimmer getting lost, our paddler having his boat the wrong way, and our runner wearing a heavier t-shirt than perhaps he could have worn given the hot weather (that’s not all that interesting but I had to round it out a bit).

Lasagne was great. All possible nutritional bases covered and a lovely mix of meaty, crunchy, earthy, cheesey, fresh and acid tomatoey. Sure it’s a lot of faffing around but friends are worth it. Rhubarb clafoutis for dessert.

Yes still alive. I suppose you want a picture of my blog holding up a copy of yesterday’s Guardian. Here’s a meal I made last night.

Pasta with Peas and Bacon.

3 eggs | 300 g OO flour | pinch of salt | splash of olive oil

Hard work done with a dough hook in the Kambrook and then a bit of kneading to get it soft and pliable. Rest in the fridge wrapped in plastic. Roll out to 6 on the pasta roller (dust liberally with flour as you go) and cut into rough triangly bits – no idea what I was doing, I think Matt Stone did this in the mag.

inch thick slice of bacon, cube | cup of peas | 2 cloves of garlic + inch of leek. finely chopped | 1/3 cup olive oil

Bought my bacon from Annie Kavanagh at Spencers Brook Farm. Free-range berkshire pigs make such a lovely ribbon of white fat across the top. Hope I’m not spoiling anyone’s fun by pointing out, you’re not going to get the same result with your one kilo plastic pack of bacon slices. Crisps up beautifully.
Shelled the peas with young E on the kitchen floor. This is a very nice thing to do.
Gently soften the leek and garlic in olive oil, add the bacon, brown a little and add the peas and cook through.
Cook the pasta in lots of salted water – I’m still impressed how it all manages to come apart. Top with the peas and bacon and some grated parmesan.

Really nice. Perfect light intro for a heavier mains.

Roast Pork with Cider, Veg

1.5 kg Rolled roast of pork, skin slashed, truffled honey and fennel seeds pushed into slices with a sprinkle of rock salt on top. Leave for an hour or so.

fennel bulb| carrot | 2 garlic cloves | 2 sticks of celery | leek

Just a bunch of aromatics that would, in theory, fill the roast and the eventually sauce with goodness. Chop into small pieces.
Brown the roast in olive oil in a cast iron casserole pot, add the aromatics and stir and place in a 170C oven. Let it cook down a bit for about 20 minutes. Add a cup of cider, cover and turn the oven down to 160C . Cook for 90 minutes.

parsnip, quartered lengthwise | sweet potato, cut into half rounds | apple chopped

Parboil the parsnip and the sweet potato and add them and the apples to the casserole dish. Check the level of cider and cover. Cook for another half hour and then remove the lid to brown everything up.
Keep the pork warm covered with foil, remove the veggies with a slotted spoon. Skim the fat off the top of the remaining liquids, add half a cup of cider and reduce, then add a half a cup of verjuice and a good splash of apple and balsamic glaze.

Cauliflower Puree
Half a cauliflower, boiled until soft in salted water. Drain and then cook in thick cream and butter. Puree and season to taste. Stir in some bacon cubes

Tuscan Cabbage
Chop into large pieces and sauteed in a pan with olive oil and bacon cubes until soft.

Rocket and Orange Salad
Just in case the pork got a bit much, something peppery and acidic. Segmented orange tossed with roacket and some olive oil.

Rhubarb Clafoutis
I was going to cadge out of dessert but I’d bought some rhubarb so hey. A clafoutis is basically a pancake batter pie or a yorkshire pudding without the dripping and with fruit. All you need to know is here.
Don’t overcook the rhubarb, you want it to keep some form. Rhubarb cooked in butter with caster sugar and orange zest. Splash of vanilla-soaked brandy in the batter and a 1/3 of a cup of almond meal.
Served with whipped Bannister Downs cream.

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Sincere congratulations to America. Coinciding with the feeling of having an old friend back, I had an actual old friend over for dinner, last week* The main course was a deeply symbolic with the zucchini, freshly flowering, representing birth and growth; the pancetta a tribute to that distinctly Chicagoan measure of value – the pork belly; and in turn the use of pork and shellfish as a triumph over religious constriction; and the linguine as a well-wishing metaphor for long life. I would have had I not simply decided to make this at the suggestion of an Italian chef and student during a particularly quiet and hungry moment.

Broad Beans with Cacciatore
Take the beans out of the pod and boil them in salted water for a minute. Drain and cool under running water. No need for second shelling.
Poach a pork and fennel cacciatore sausage in dry sherry and then slice thinly. Brown a little in olive oil in a pan and then add the broad beans. Stir well until the beans are heated through and the sausage is golden [hello Mark Faga] sausage IS GOLDEN![/hello Mark Faga]. Season and serve.

Zucchini Prawn and Pancetta Linguine
Dice a zucchini very finely and then finely grate a couple of tablespoons extra. This will spread itself more widely over the pasta. Cube cigarette packet sized block of pancetta. Chop up about 300 g of prawn meat and leave a few whole tails for garnish.
Heat a generous combination of clarified butter and EVOO. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned. Add the prawn meat, toss and then add the zucchini until it’s all cooked through.
Season and serve with linguini. Mix most through and then garnish the top of the pasta with with the remainder and place a prawn tail on top.

The zucchini was provided from the garden of the photographer who does all our wine shots for the mag (his site’s here). He’s also got one of these, which is pretty cool. They were supplemented by a few baby zucchini from my garden – they still have a way to go.

Tarte Fine aux Pommes
It’s my lazy favourite.
If prepping ahead, thinly slice apples and then mix in the juice of a lemon and some sugar to keep them going brown.
Roll out a sheet of sweet and cover with the apple slices.
Mix an equal combo of butter, sugar, and calvados and heat without burning.Pour over the apples.
It is, after all simply an apple pizza.
Cook in a very hot oven.

*[The parallels kind of stop there as I don't think my friend mounted a deceptive hostile invasion of a nation resulting in millions dead, displaced, or wounded; tried to bring torture back; validated gross levels of stupidity and anti-intellectualism; stuffed up an economy; behaved like an ass over international treaty efforts; or did stuff all while people drowned. And its part America didn't start going out with a really nice guy who used to be in cover bands]

A sauce for pasta

mosquito piggy
what a salmon and cream pasta might look like were it a pig-shaped mosquito coil burner


Olive oil, thinly sliced clove of garlic, two slices of chopped smoked salmon, juice of half a lemon, splash of sherry, finely chopped rind of a lemon and a handful of fennel leaves, 200ml of cream, and pepper. In that order in about 30 second intervals in a frypan. Mix in with linguine with parmesan cheese. Ain’t rocket science but you’ll like it.

Oh and facking right-wing Labor hacks:

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia

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venison pate with sourdough baguette and olives

mashed potato and hazelnut pesto with black pig prosciutto, asparagus and broad beans

duck, forest mushroom and chinese greens risotto

2002 Peacetree Cabernet Sauvignon in a Bulgarian crystal decanter

tart fine aux pommes

local cheeses with oatcakes and fennel crackers

laphroaig quarter cask with ice

Further notes:
Duck, being fatty, doesn’t really lend itself well to poaching but I thought I’d try and squeeze out a bit more stock for the risotto regardless. White wine, duck stock, peppercorns and thyme. Duck legs removed and then fried in leftover lard until crisp and then shredded. Using the soaking liquid for the mushrooms also provides additional stock.

Gabrielle Ferron’s risotto packet recommends a no-stir 15 minute technique and I have to agree to the point where I’m convinced that the whole stirring thing is an artifact of Italian patriachy.

Just the shiny green inner pods of the broadbeans. Blanched and then reheated in olive oil with some of the prosciutto. I ended up paying $10 a kilo for them because I was chatting with the farmer and he forgot to give me my change and I was too polite to ask.

nuzzling

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ducklava

Birthday necessitated dinner party as part of week long ‘festival of birthday’.

Ducklava
Don’t know where this idea came from. I guess if you read enough recipes, things start to click together. Ultimately it was the answer to a question that was how do you make one entree for seven people with one duck.
Where to start? The basics of it is that it’s [from bottom] filo pastry; pork rillettes; filo pastry; chopped pine nuts; filo pastry; duck rillettes; filo pastry; chopped pistachios and duck rillettes; filo pastry.
This is all baked in an oven for thirty minutes and then covered with melted butter and truffle flavoured honey. The pork fillet and pork belly and the duck were all cooked together in duck fat as a confit i.e. very slowly cooked submerged in duck fat. Pork and duck aren’t usually confited together but I like the pork and duck meat combo at Chinese BBQ places, so why not?

The pork belly was cubed and the pork fillet cut into one inch pieces. Delimb the duck with a cleaver and remove the breasts with the skin attached with a knife to cut through to the bone between then breasts. You can then work the breast out carefully.
To get the duck fat for the confit place any bits of excess skin and fat in a frying pan to render out the fat (you will be amazed). You can also render the bones (but be less amazed) and then use the carcass to make a duck stock (that gets used for the sauce).
In the bottom of a Le Creuset place a slice of orange, two sprigs of thyme, a star anise, and a sprig of rosemary. Tightly pack the duck peices in the bottom and top with the pork. Add the melted duck fat (or goose fat) and then top up with some vegetable oil to cover. It’s then covered with a sheet of greaseproof paper and cooked very slowly and lowly in the oven – it shouldn’t come to a boil. Once it cooled it’s just a matter of shredding the meat.
Line a small loaf tin with foil and then follow the procedure for baklava, three or four buttered sheets cut to size, topping, and so on up to the top. Cook at 180C for thirty minutes or when the top is nicely browned.
Melt a knob of butter and a couple of tablespoons of truffle honey (a jar from the Manjimup truffle farm that I managed to snaffle) and pour over.
Remove the baklava by lifting up the foil carefully and then slice.

For the sauce, reduce the duck stock down add a third as much port and then reduce down until nice and thick. Serve with grapfruit segments as something fresh and sharp to counter the fat and the richness.

Overall, it worked very well. Crisp, hot, crunchy, ducky, porky, and nutty – presentation could be tidied up a bit as the nuts are a bit unruly. Actually a lot of work for something that’s eaten in a few minutes but hey.

osso bucco ragout


Osso Bucco and Venison Shanks with home-made Saffron Fettucine
Osso Bucco is slices of beef shin and there’s one recipe for it and it seems to be osso bucco. Plenty of recipes out there but basically it’s a combination of diced onion, carrots, celery and garlic; followed by peeled and deseeded tomatoes, orange peel, thyme rosemary and bay leaves; then wine and beef stock. Make sure the meat is lightly dusted with flour (work quickly after you dusted it to keep the flour dry) and seared. Then it’s a couple of hours of tightly lidded cooking.

What results is a nice thick sauce and melted meat that you can shred for the sauce. Lots of shredding for this dinner. Just to loosen up the sauce a bit I cooked some field mushrooms in red wine and stock and the cream and added it to the meat and sauce.

The saffron fettcine is because saffron rissotto often goes with osso bucco milanese. It was only after four minutes of kneading that I wondered why my hands were red and then remebered I was allergic to handling saffron. The vegetable are strips of carrot ,zucchini , and leek; blanched and reheated in butter and then mixed through wth the pasta. It’s nicked form my Michel Roux Jr book as it’s customary to nick at least one thing for it for a dinner party.

It’s really well worth learning how to make your own pasta, if you learn properly then it’s quite straightforward and a good trick when guests arrive. My other trick involves slicing bits of my fingers off.

Apple Flan with Calvados Cream
As you’d imagine, thinly sliced (transverse to stem) apples on sweet shortcrust pastry. Served with cream with a bit of calvados whipped through it.

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hello old friend


I bought this Polaroid 690 maybe 10 years at a second hand camera store in Shinjuku for about ¥20,000. It folds down neatly into small booklet that hangs nattily over the shoulder. Reopening in another thing and I’ve forgotten how a few times and have been left looking like a monkey with a puzzle box. Polaroids in a way we’re a kind of precursor to photography as social activity that flickr is now. You could take one along to a party and document it as you went along. One version of polaroid film allowed you to draw in coloured pencil on it. Other than that they had their own special colour cast, were more boho than slide film, and you could chastise people for shaking them to get them to develop more quickly. Like teddy, it got stuffed in the cupboard when my first digital camera come along and there it sat until Saffy talked me in to getting a cartridge of film from KMart. (You should also check out the amazing Viv collection.)

[Polaroid SLR 690 which everyone respects – I’ve got to have a General Research 690 Case]

Oh yeah the risotto, it’s magnificent. Make a risotto as per usual with finely chopped onion and clove of garlic base with chicken stock. Meanwhile, take a couple of italian sausages brown them and the add a finely sliced fennel bulb (reserve a tablespoon of leaves for the end) and allow to gently sautee with the sausages. When the sausages are cooked, slice them and then return the slices to the pan and sautee a little longer. Add to the risotto at the finish along with the fennel leaves and a little butter. Stir through well, add some parmesan, season and serve. Really very good, should have cracked a bottle of wine with it. No pics though.

UPDATE
Polaroid of my (phwoarr) brekky at Sayers in Leederville. Good it was. Surprisingly nice depth of field in the photo, no?

sayers breakfast

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pork terrine


Duck Liver and Pork Terrine

A terrine is a nice enough way to get back into cooking and it gave me a good reason to give my 70′s moulinex a bit of a run. Porky joy yes and I decided to partner it with apples (sauce) and figs (always nice with prosciutto). Pork belly because it needs some fat. Duck liver because there wasn’t any pork liver available.

mincer

Ingredients are approximate: 500gm of pork belly; 500gm of pork meat (taken from chops); 500gm of duck liver; 1 cup of bread; 2 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and finely chopped); 5 dried figs (soaked in 1/3 cup of calvados) – not fresh sadly; 1/2 cup cream; a few chives and a few sage leaves (finely chopped); salt and pepper. 8 rashers of bacon. Sprig of thyme for non sequitur garnish.

Run the meat, liver, and bread through the mincer. Finish with the bread, it doesn’t make cleaning any easier but it does mean you don’t have to scrape out bits of viscera. Actually best keep the whole thing a bit quiet, I had it all packed up by the time Toni got back. Liver looks the mincer had an unfortunate incident involving some surprisingly cheap seafood.
Mix all the ingredients together. Line a bread tin (or a terrine if you’ve got one) with foil and then give it a good oiling. Line the tin widthways with strips of bacon, fill with the mix and then drape the strips over. Cover with baking paper – greased with butter.
Cook in a steam bath in a 180C oven for two hours.
To make a steam bath, get a roasting pan and fill it with warm water so it reaches 2/3 of the way up the terrine. Fergus Henderson has a nice hint to place a teatowel on the bottom of the roasting tin so the bottom of the terrine isn’t in direct contact with the oven heat.
Take it out, place a weight on it and leave for 2-3 days (yes you’ll have to wait).

Very rich, the amount of liver brought it close to being pate. There was room to be a bit bolder with the amount of fig. A very filling entree that will keep guest happy for an hour. Served with local Pickled Pink Apple and Roasted Beetroot Relish, which is very nice and offset the terrine nicely – too nicely in fact, you don’t want the thing you didn’t make outshining the thing you did.

lunch
Arrosto di Agnello al Ginepro

There is lamb and then there’s lamb. According to Marcella Hazan, my 80′s authority on Italian cooking, there the spring lamb, abbachio, taken straight from the teat and the there’s your regular ‘mature’ lamb which we usually have. For mutton, it must feel like not only somebody not knowing your fave ever band but then realising they hadn’t even been born – shoot me now.
So for the mature lamb, it gets the casserole in her recipe for Arrosto di Agnello al Ginepro – lamb roasted with juniper berries. Juniper berries seem quite the thing, or at least they were when I last checked. Anyway, this recipe is, as they say in Italian, unfuckupableio.

1 leg of lamb; 1 tbs chopped carrot; 2 tbs of chopped onion; 1 tbs chopped celery; 250ml dry white wine; 2 crushed cloves of garlic; sprig of fresh rosemary; 2 tsp juniper berries; salt and pepper.

Put everything into a heavy casserole and simmer covered on a low heat for 2 hours. Turn the leg every 45 minutes. Then increase the heat slightly, put the lid askew and simmer for another 90 minutes. The juices should reduce down to a nice thick jus and the meat should be cooked and very tender.
Let the leg rest under foil.
Spoon off as much fat as possible, strain the jus, and then you can extend it a bit by returning it to the casserole after you’ve deglazed the casserole with a glass of red.
Very tender and very understated on the juniper.

Served with sausage and black eyed beans and a salad.
The sausage and blacked eye beans is just the onion/celery/carrot/garlic mirepoix upstairs – sauteed in olive oil in a casserole dish. Tin of tomatoes added with juice and simmered for 20 minutes. Then 4 or 5 pricked continental sausages added and simmered for a further 15 minutes. Then 4-5 cups of black eyed beans. Top up with water, bring to a simmer, cover and leave in a 180C oven for 90 minutes – check liquid levels occasionally. Season.

dessert

Crostata di Uva

Thank you Mrs Medici – my 90′s authority on Italian cooking. A very uncomplicated tart – even the custard doesn’t bother with vanilla. Very dependent on getting beautiful fresh crisp and cool white grapes. Just a sweet shortcrust pastry made with the zest of one lemon and cooked into a tart shell. Then make a three yolk custard, adding a tablespoon of flour to the milk as a thickener. Pour the cooled custard into the chilled tart shell then fill with grapes

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lasagne

Lasagne. Potentially so much more than a vehicle for bolognese and cheese. I think it should be more regarded as a kind of baked pasta based dagwood opening up many opportunities for different fillings. This one was bechamel with parsley; tomato with majoram and basil; eggplant and mushrooms panfried in olive oil; spinach with ricotta and pine nuts; and then bechamel, parmesan and a few dabs of butter on top. Not a bit of meat to be seen. The lasagne sheets came ready to go in a plastic container. Bechamel is the only thing that takes a bit of care but I really can’t imagine lasagne with out it. Any thoughts on alternatives? Very nice and there was two or more days worth of food there which got better with each passing moment.

Back at Jackson’s hanging around and doing stuff again. Lovely to see everybody and my world has been rocked by the replacement of fennel salad on the menu by a peeled tomato and basil salad. Funny night, must have been international day of no seafood and gluten intolerance.

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deep fried peaches stuffed with mascarpone

I hate peaches. Their fuzz reminds of the cheap hard plastic toy animals from sideshow alley or cheap jewelry boxes. They also remind me of boarding school desserts and on that note, their association with buttocks creates psychosexual issues ill-suited to a food blog. I was going to use figs but sadly peaches are in season so use them it was.

The recipe is an original creation by Antonio Carluccio in his book Southern Italian Feast. In his recipe he uses the more humble ricotta and I’ve gone and spoiled the principle by using the luxurious northern equivalent of mascarpone. Much of southern Italian cuisine relies on this kind of humble alternative to northern ingredients. Instead of parmesan cheese, they’ll use breadcrumbs. Instead of tomatoes, they’ll make balls out of papier mache and paint them red with paint scraped from postboxes. Not a small point of opprobrium. Visitors from the North of Italy, dodging cars made from two vespas strapped together will shout out the windows of their Maranello sourced cars mangiatori della cassetta postale, abbiamo rinforzare! before roaring off into the trompe l’oeil that pass for tunnels. I feel somehow complicit in this cultural marginalisation by choosing this recipe just to change it, but the recipe does call for three hard boiled egg yolks to be mixed in, which is unusual I think you’ll agree and worth a try.

Here’s how it’s done with slight variations on the original:

Blend 150gm of caster sugar; 220gm of mascarpone, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and three hard boiled eggs yolks together to make a smooth paste and chill for an hour or two.

Slice four large white fleshed peaches in half and scoop out the stone and make an extra cavity, mix the scooped out flesh with the mascarpone mix. Fill the peach halves with the mix, levelling them off. Crumb in three steps of flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs. And then deep-fry in olive oil until golden. I’m not sure of the exact temperature but somewhere just below smoking point (which is lower for live oil than other oils) worked well. You can adjust with the heat or if it’s out of control a little more fresh oil.

Also from the book was vino cotto which they recommend as a sauce. Take 500ml of robust red wine, add 200gm of granulated sugar and reduce over heat to a third. Pour in a jar and chill. I used a Virgin Block 2002 Shiraz, which has a virgin on the label, which is quite refreshingly literal when you think about it. They should have a little caption box with “it’s not you, it’s just I’m not that kind of girl”.

For decoration I mixed equal amounts of mascarpone and cream with sugar to taste and added finely chopped vodka-preserved cumquats. They ended up being a bit dissapointing in appearance, just getting coated with cream rather than being interesting specks of orange. It looked a bit like lumpy toothpaste. My cack-handed use of the piping bag didn’t help matters and surely I can do better than a (punctuated) swirly spiral. Can anyone point me in the direction of a book or a site on doing nice patterns with cream and syrup on a plate?

Quite nice indeed, I think smaller peaches would help with daintiness. I did get my teeth set on edge by the peaches which took away some of the enjoyment. Maybe I’ll use figs next time.

dessert = 'appy punters


rolling pasta

Despite having had this pasta maker for over a decade, I’ve never made good pasta. Most of my rolled pieces looked like they’d been made love to by a small dog. As is often the case, we attribute this to some innate personal failing. This deficit could have been transferred as a credit to some kind of projected perfect noodly deity who for some reason is deservedly punishing me. The enlightened solution is that there are problems because I was doing it wrong. Michelle the sous chef, gave me a new task at work , asking if I could make pasta and I gave my standard response to these kinds of questions which is “erm ahm yes but I’m pretty crap so could you show me”. My main problem was not enough flour on the dough. Any wet spots should be dusted throughout the rolling process. Also remember to dust the pasta roller and NEVER WASH IT EVER. A few finessing points like folding the pasta up the arm and a quick flick of the pile and clumsy, clumsy, success. No magic, just technique. I try and repeat whatever I learn on the weekend, so pasta it was last night, with beetroot for a bit of colour.

pasta ingredients


I found some “00″ rated flour at the Boatshed Markets in Cottesloe. You can use plain flour. From here it’s just making a circular dam of flour and breaking the eggs in the middle. Work the flour into the centre with a fork until it’s combined and then start kneading, adding flour to keep it from being sticky. Knead, turn, knead, turn, for about five minutes until it’s smooth, shiny, and bounces back when you poke it. At some stage you should have remembered to add the beetroot you finely grated. A bit of a thought about this. You could run it through a juicer or just grate it and then press it through a seive. I used a plastic oroshi grater. It’s usually used for daikon or ginger but it gets a nice fine consistency with beetroot and leaves only one thing to wash up.

It’s one of those read somewhere and can’t verify things is you wrap the dough in glad wrap and put it in the fridge for half an hour. Is this necessary. Anyway you can keep it in the fridge or freeze it until you’re ready. Rolling it just before the meal is a nice trick.

I cut the dough in half. Squashed it a little, dusted it with flour and ran it through the widest “1″ setting twice. Then up to “3″ and then one run at each setting up to “6″, dusting as necessary. You cann fold the roll and rest it on your forearm, unfolding it as you go along. Then slice into appropriate lengths and run through the fettucine cutter. If you’ve used enough, there’s no need to leave it hanging over chair backs, it’ll sit happily in a pile and separate when put in boiling water. And there they are there.

beetroot pasta


The sauce was a simple cheese and cream sauce that used gorgonzola and cream. Slice up chicken breast and marinate in a few cloves of chopped garlic and half a red chilli, with some salt, pepper, chopped parsley and EVOO. Cook the chicken in a pan, set aside and keep warm, and deglaze the pan with a little chicken stock and white wine. Add a cup of cream and allow it to heat before adding a handful of cubed gorgonzola and strirring at a simmer for five minutes. Toss in a tablespoon of finely sliced basil and season and stir it in.

The pasta will only take a few minutes to cook in boiling salted water so keep a close eye on it. It’s important to remember that it’ll keep cooking after it’s drained. Plate the pasta, pour the sauce over, and top with the chicken.

chicken and gorgonzola sauce


Sadly the pasta looks like it’s drowning here, something to be careful of. The pasta isn’t colourfast so it settled to a pale pink and the taste was very mild. You may wish to up the amount of beetroot from about a third of a cup to a half, if pastel is less your thing. The sauce was so rich it had a large country manor, a discreet but expensive watch, and a yacht that it would use to entertain clients on sunny days. Use moderation in serving size. Anyhoo, home made pasta-good, and as always, if I can do it you can do it. Impress your friends and yourself.

And: I noticed the Boatshed Markets has green banana leaves, which made me think of Reid’s great summery series on lu’au. Follow the trail from Kalua Pig. Mmmmm butts.

lamb and risotto

This is post number 502. This would make number 500, me eating a frozen dinner. How auspicious, ah well. Doesn’t time fly.

Dinner for six on the Sunday was going to be a lasagne, being inspired by an emailed recipe from the Flute (been on the telly ya know). Not to be, I saw myself messing about with a pasta maker and settled for the thirty or so minutes of careful stirring of a risotto. It’s still seasonal for root vegetables and I’ve been impressed with celeriac of late, Brussel sprouts are also out and they were chosen for: I was shown how to remove and cook the leaves; they add a bit of colour; people don’t like them so I could set myself up for one of those magic “don’t usually like “X” but” moments and so huzzah!

Salmon Mousse:
Entree was a salmon mousse which I was happy with as it requires no gelatine, just whipping up some cream and then refrigeration.

1 salmon cutlet – the u-shaped one, fried or grilled until cooked. Let it cool and flake it apart, removing bones and skin. Add 4tbs of EVOO, juice of one lemon (actually have a bit of a taste on this and add as necessary, I may have overdone it a smidgen); a bit of rind scraping; a shake of chilli powder; and a dozen capers. Puree.

Take 300ml of chilled cream and before it sits out too long, whip it . Whip it good, until firm and then carefully fold in the salmon. At this stage I put it into 6 dariole molds but you don’t have to. I did it because I’ve just bought them. In reality they didn’t come out very cleanly so you could just make quenelle shapes with a couple of spoons. Or pop them in glasses maybe. Or serve them on a spoon. Or get yourself a fish mold. Anyway put it in the fridge for at least two hours. The flavours will mingle over time.

It was a bit lemony so I thought a tomato and basil sauce would be nice. Skin (hold the tomato over a flame) and deseed (scrape out) two tomatoes. Puree with a handful of basil and enough EVOO. To get it nice and runny. If you’re going to pour it in a piping bag, be sure to close the other end and ensure that end isn’t near an opened drawer.

Good good good. Creamy, fishy, tarty, and sweet.

Celeriac and Brussel Sprout Risotto with Lamb
Make some chicken stock – it’ll be better than anything you can buy. Go on make some. This weekend. It’ll take you 30 minutes of messing around, tops. Then you can freeze it. The kitchen will smell nice. Here’s a recipe, you might want to chuck a bit of white wine in there too. Free range chicken wings are a cheap way of adding more meatiness to the bones as well. You can use the celeriac stems instead of celery as an aromatic. They are a bit stronger so do lessen the amount accordingly.

Cooking: 1 cup of finely chopped leek, eschallot, and onion. Sautee in EVOO until soft, add 500gm of aborio rice and stir until it’s starts to go a little golden. Pour in a glass of white wine, and stir until absorbed, add another glass of white wine and stir until absored, add a glass of red wine and stir until absorbed, and then move on to the stock a cup at a time until the rice is cooked. It should still have a little bit of bite. This slow process coats the rice and makes it creamy.

Additions: Chop the ends off a dozen brussel sprouts and remove the leave. The outermost leaves are the bitterest so you can get rid of them, and you can toss the white bits too. Soften a little in a frypan with some oil. Reserve some of the leaves for garnish.

Peel one celeriac and chop into small cubes. Parboil then roast until soft. Mash a little. You want some mashy bits and some pieces.

Add these in about 5-10 minutes before the risotto is ready.

Lamb:
The lamb chops were in a rack and it’s lovely way of doing them. There’s a really nice feeling as you slice through it when it’s done. Shame mine weren’t as pink as I like them but, well, guests. Simply done. Marinated in some chopped rosemary, red wine, EVOO, and garlic and roasted on a couple of rounds of leek. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Stir a large dab of butter through the risotto, top with a chop, garnish with some brussel sprout leaves and serve.

Very nice. I had wanted to add walnuts but celeriac already had that nutty taste so not necessary.

That’s it. Just make sure if your jeans are a bit low, to bend at the knees when reaching down for the warming tray in the oven.

fini

And: hello and welcome to the good people of Sadly, No!

Also – how does it feel? A waffly defence of this dish in the moral realm to prove why I don’t write about these issues much – Veganism and civilisation


green tea ravioli with red bean paste

A quick apology for the rather low standard of presentation but I really can’t be arsed by the end of a dinner. Not that this is any excuse for a lack of skills in this regard. I should learn to do the swirly thing with the satay stick or something.

chotda pack uh oh

A little while ago I was lucky enough to receive a package from kindly Santos of Guam. Her generous efforts at a stretching my parameters were sadly confounded by our strict quarantine laws. I’m happy to announce Australia is still free of the scourge of banana flowers and medicinal bark. Apparently if you want to get food past customs you tell them it’s delicious with mayonnaise. Don’t bother with a Bhudda statue. The lesson is – send cash. Anyway I was left with rice paper and Korean green tea flower (which given my current embarrasing social habit, I was surprised I didn’t start chatting in Japanese with it). I could have combined the two but had a different plan.

My first one was to make green tea beignets and then stuff them but I thought the red bean paste I wasn’t to use wasn’t fluid enough for the task. Instead I was inspired by the fried chocolate ravioli I helped with on Thursday and thoought I’d go with a variation of that.

eggs and green tea flour green tea pasta roller ravioli cutter

The green tea pasta was your standard pasta recipe but with the addition of a tablespoon of sugar and the use of green tea flour. I’m not going to tell you how to make pasta, instead you can go here. The green tea flour wasn’t totally amenable but the pasta maker takes a bit of practice and I don’t think I’ve used mine more than twice this century. Ruggedy ragged edges aren’t too much of a problem if you’re just going to stamp it out anyway. Run it through to a 5 thickness.

The red bean paste – an freezes quite happily and was left over from IMBB#15 Mizu Youkan – detailed making instructions to be found there including showtunes.

Well then it’s rather easy. Cut out enough pasta for the ravioli stamp to fit comfortably, add a teaspoon of the bean paste, place another piece of pasta on top and, after squeezing out any excess air, stamp. Repeat. Deep fry until crisp at 180C and serve.

It was served with a gamache mix of half cream/half dark chocolate melted over a double boiler. Some cream for the plate and a slice of frozen custard apple as an afterthought. Santos has the goods on custard apple aka atis.

Well it was good. I would have liked a little more bean paste in my mine but it’s not to everyone’s liking. The green tea flavour was quite mild and the ganache nicely in unsweet unison. The custard apple, which I’ve never had before, and suspect it may not have quite been right.

Now as for the rest of the meal. I’d asked a couple of friends and a bit after 4 Toni asked me what I was making and I realised I had no idea. So a quick trip to the shops just before they closed at 5 had me sorted for guests at 6:30.

spanish mackeral

This is the spanish mackeral caught by Local Man Catches Large Fish who would be joining us for dinner.

The spanish mackeral was in cutlets and it’s just a matter of removing the skin. Using my tip from the Kaiaseki workshop, I coated it in salt for half an hour and rinsed to remove some of the fishy smell. Cooked in nice hot slab of butter with the addition of flat leafed parsley and tarragon and a splash of vinegar and served with aparagus mixed after cooked with lemon peel、parsley, tarragon, and butter.

A lovely piece of fish it was.

chicken and walnut fettucine with chilli pesto

Since the pasta maker was out, I made some plain fettucine as well. Not too hard but I hanker for a plastic pasta hanger as it was a bit of a tangle. Actually comes apart quite nicely when cooking which happens in about four minutes.

For the pesto – one chilli, deseeded and chopped; two crushed cloves of garlic; pinch of salt; handful of toasted pine nuts; and handful each of parsley and parsely; process, adding EVOO until it gets to the right pasticity. Stir in some grated parmesan cheese.

Chop us some chicken thighs, marinate in pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil and cook in a pan. Toast handful of walnuts. Add to the pasta and the pesto and serve.

A swell mix of textures and home made pasta really is better.

So that’s WTFDYWMTDWT kinda done for now, lasts month’s IMBB-fried has been done but a bit late; and with green (carbohydrate subjected to heat) eggs and an, I’ve done EoMEoTE#10.

Goodnight.

Hey! check out what’s at An Electronic Restaurant by Masterchef “Noodle Cook” and Oslofoodie has made pancakes.

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chai panna cotta

“But we brought cream…
and scones”

I hope someone else remembers that line from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, a 70′s British WW2 comedy set in India. A much less smug observation than the more familiar “but what have the Romans ever done for us?” on the give and take of imperium. And what else does tea make me think of? Not much. In the greater scheme of beverages, it wallows. Currently it’s serving as a kind of methadone to get me off unthinking reflexive coffee drinking. I’ve become rather fond of the tea, spice and milk combo of chai though. It’s my new king of milky drinks, without peer (yes including latte), and its spicey complexity seemed a good opportunity for translation into a not so sweet dessert.

chai ingredients

Good luck finding a definitive chai recipe. I don’t think there is one but this is with good reason, it’s endlessly variable. Chai would make for an excellent platform for appreciating spices and understanding what each one does. A lifetime of fine tuning could be done with possible variations for time, quantity, and grinding of spices to reach the right balance. The first challenge is to get the taste of the tea right as it’s the dominant flavour. After about 10 minutes of simmering, I got there and then strained the milk. To improve the spice flavour I let it continue to simmer longer with some more cinnamon and ginger until it was where I wanted it to be. Keep in mind also that the flavour will be diluted a third by the cream. The ball-park quantities of tea and spices you see were for 2 cups of full cream milk and 1 cup of water. The tea was Harrods (God bless you Ma’am) Empire Blend No. 34 a mix of Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri. I have no idea why I have this. The other ingredients form left to right in the pic are: peppercorns and allspice; star anise and ginger; cloves, cinnamon, and green cardamon.

To transform this into panna cotta requires 300ml of double cream, 2 cups of the chai, half a cup of sugar, and 4tsp of gelatine. Bring the cream, sugar, and the chai to near boil, turn off the heat and sprinkle over the gelatine and stir it in unti it has dissolved completely. Let it cool with the occasional stir and pour it into ramekins and refrigerate until set. It can be loosened for serving by resting it in hot water for a not very long time.

The syrup is a fairly standard Indian syrup and I thought it would be at least a good geoculinary (do you like this word? I just made it up, nice isn’t it?) match. It’s from a recipe for Gulab Jamun. The rosewater aspect fitted in nicely because I had a bunch of dried rosebuds that I had bought as wasn’t quite sure what to do with. Something unexpectedly romantic perhaps. Anyway two cups of water, one cup of sugar, and five bruised (just crush them a bit with the flat of a knife) cardamom pods. Heat until the sugar has dissolved, take off the heat and stir in two tablespoons of rosewater. Allow to cool before pouring over the panna cotta.

Tasty. Not too sweet at all and a lot of little background notes. I managed to do some justice to its looks with a bit of Saturday afternoon soft light messing about with the spare one I had on hand (like you do). The only odd result was a rougher “breadier” texture on the bottom (i.e. the top of the ramekin). I’m assuming some kind of separation occurred from the cream but if anybody knows any better, help. Nothing unpleasant though, an unexpected feature.

Thank you Clement for hosting and prodding me out of my usual food comfort zone.

chai panna cotta

gnocchignocchi

Noel Malcom’s not especially short but very informative Kosovo: A short history has put me in a Balkany mood. I remembered my grandmother, Dorrie (Dragica actually), telling me about her friend’s excellent “Yugoslav” gnocchi. It actually sounded remarkably like Italian gnocchi but I wasn’t going to push the issue. I got a request to cook something with noodles or rice for dinner for my sister-in-law – in from Darwin – and gnocchi seemed to fit the bill.

My last gnocchi meal was an exceptional sweet potato gnocchi with bacon, pear, and chicken at the Inglewood hotel 3 months back. I was impressed by the combination of textures but had no idea of how to make it, but I’d attempt something similar anyway. I had a few things to think about.

Gnocchi
I looked up my current love, The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan. Uncompromising and wise, here’s another quick sample for you:

We have all heard about the decline of the tomato. To judge by the plastic-wrapped examples in the supermarkets not even the worst reports are exaggerated.

Sweet spiky music. I followed her recipe but added sweet potatoes.

Boil an equal quantity of starchy potatoes(boiled in their skins and then peeled) and sweet potatoes and then mash. She recommends not adding egg yolks to keep them lighter and fluffier, but  I wanted a more robust gnocchi so I added one egg yolk.

Then mix in the plain flour – as an approximation use between a 1/5th to a 1/6th of the weight of the potato. The goal is to be able to knead it to “smooth, soft, and slightly sticky”.

Roll the gnocchi out into thumb-width cylinders, dusting with flour if it gets too sticky, and cut into 18mm pieces. To get the sauce grabbing ridges and the even cooking indent, place the piece on a fork and then press down in the middle with your finger and then let it drop off. They got better with a little practice.

Boil up a big pot of salted water, toss some in, and when they float to the surface, give them a few seconds grace, and scoop them out. Line the bottom of a baking diah with them.

The completely amazing thing about gnocchi is how a dish which comprises of two ingredients can involve so many factors influencing the outcome. Molecules eh!

porkgnocchiwok

Pork etc.
Pork and apples is an obvious choice but pears aren’t so different and juicier, nashi apples have the best of both. Just to make sure there was a completely crunchy fourth element, I thought of walnuts and the use of a walnut in devil’s on horsesback confirmed the relationship.

Small cubed four pork chops, and cooked in a frypan with butter and half a chopped chilli. Tossed in a tablespoon combined of fresh sage and thyme. The sage came about because of the tasty prosciutto and figs I had at Crafty’s.

A splash of white wine to get things moving along, then I decided I needed more room and moved to the wok. Lightly toasted a cup of walnuts and then added the contents of the frypan. Next was a diced pear and two diced nashi. Leave dicing of these to the last minute to avoid discolouration. Cook over a high heat to a stir fry ideal of hot and crisp, and then pour over the gnocchi.

Place it in a 180C oven while you make the sauce. The goal was to get everything a little crunchily roasted.

Sauce:
A few options, I toyed with a cream sauce for a while but remebered a recipe I cooked ages ago – quail with grapes and this convinced me of the merits of a chicken stock reduction. A cup of chicken stock into the frypan with another cup of white wine and a little more sage and thyme, scrape and stir until reduced by a half, and season to taste. Place the gnocchi mix in a plate and pour some of the sauce over it.

Eating
Toni and Vic were very happy with it. For me, I found the gnocchi a little gluey, and the pork and the pears a little overcooked. Omitting the oven stage and serving straight from the wok might have improved matters. The flavours were well balanced on the mild side but maybe a little more chilli for some bite would have added bite.

It’s an interesting dish because you could spend a long time trying to get it just right. Kneading though, hard to love. Interesting think piece¹, and tasty.

gnocchipork

¹ Speaking of which, a tale of everyday heroism and pig-headedness I’ve been following at apple of my eye. [via pixellated proveditor of fine things BARISTA]

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parmesanlambchops

Tim Dunlop had a fevered pricey lamb chop encounter epic stateside a little while back. Sharp, perceptive man, could strip apart a kilo of guff-stuffed neo-colonial expedition jingoprop in the time it’d take me to peel a carrot, but failed to mention how he cooked said chops. Maybe he stuffed them under the griller and wandered off to ponder something Wolfowitz said. I’m hoping in EVOO with a sprinkle of pepper but who knows?

Racks of lamb are great for roasty goodness and slicing it into little juicy pink centred chops is a great pleasure. However, friday night, I’d been having a few so simple and quick it was. The recipe comes from the 30 year old The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan. How good is it? A sample from this lovely matriarch:

Mayonnaise can make or break any recipe of which it is a part. The commercial variety is so sugary and watery that it is beneath discussion.[emphasis mine]

I’d pay good money for that kind of a culinary spanking so I could obviously trust her for a lamb chop recipe and here we go.

Slice the rack into chops and then it’s coated in three stages

  1. finely grated parmesan cheese
  2. beaten free-range eggs (shake excess)
  3. fresh breadcrumbs (shake excess)

This can all be done in advance. I defrost meat in my oven with just the fan on, a few slices of bread in there at the same time, gets the bread stale enough, to make good breadcrumbs. I make the breadcrumbs in batches in a blender.

Heated 5mm of canola oil to a medium heat in a frypan. You need to get the coating nice and golden while at the same time have the meat cooked. Adjust as necessary and if it does end up being a little hot, the “presentation side” hides a multitude of sins. Just before you flip the chop over, season it with salt and pepper, flip and then season the cooked side. Keep the chops warm in the oven while you do the others.

Hot cheesey crunch on the outside, juicy lamb morsel on the in. They’d be great for an outdoors lunch but we just ate them as was with a bottle of Caitlan Lenaghan Trust Fund Red and couldn’t have enjoyed them more.

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021405dinner

Avatar’s saved me having to bag Valentine’s day with a marvellously offensive spray. Yes Valentine’s Day is crapalapdap but it did get me thinking about chocolate and then that I hardly ever make any desserts, and how all this time I’ve been cooking for me, my wants, my needs, my ambitions, and leaving Toni to fend for herself with some Neopolitan ice-cream and tinned fruit salad that I’d nick the cherry out of…

So a mousse recipe I found it was. Doing this I thought dinner should be a wee bit special but still light and Veal Scallopini came to mind. Veal Scallopini made me think of Ruffino Chianti and as I pull out a couple of old champagne(?) glasses for the mousse, I realised the unifying theme was – romantic evening out circa 1972 extraordanaire. All I needed was an excuse to slip into my silky thigh length kimono with the tiger on the back.

lemonscallopini

Veal Scallopini with a Lemon Sauce

Two veal scallopini steaks (ask your butcher) pounded thinly then lightly coated with flour. Fry on each side in a heavy pan in 2tbs of butter and oil. Quick and hot! Remove the scallopini, and the deglaze with 2tbs of lemon juice and 1tbs of butter. Add a little chopped parsely. Return the scallopini to the pan to quickly reheat (don’t cook it) on both sides with the sauce.

Served on bought Cappelleti di Pollo with a simple white wine and cream sauce with a little of the lemon sauce and some lemon zest.

chocolatemousse

Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry Marinated in Port

Oddly more like creamy chocolate crunch as the chocolate turned into crunchy little bits. May have been my losing patience with incremental microwaving. Any idea people?

Melted 100gm of Cocolo Fairtrade milk chocolate with just under a tablespoon of butter until smooth (ideally). Allow to cool.

Whisk two eggs yolks and 2tbs of sugar whisked together over the improvised double boiler of a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. After four minutes it should be thick so remove and continue to whisk until pale and cool. Add to the chocolate and then mixed in with 100ml of lightly whisked King Island Pure Cream.

Added one strawberry marinated in port to each glass and then filled with mousse. I sliced the strawberries horizontally and the put it back together again so it didn’t have to be eaten in one go as slicing with a spoon in a champagne glass invites danger, no? A splash of port to fill the slight indent around the strawberry.

chianticlassico

Ruffino 2002 Chianti
Chianti so rarely disappoints me. Slightly chilled.

And?
The chianti had the filtered through a bag of socks taste that I love for some reason (repressed foot fetishism?). The mousse was not the saccharine fluff I’d had ages before but a solid amalgam of milk products and chocolate and a crunchy delight, an unwitting success. The veal and pasta was a little too lemony. I should have kept the pasta sauce just plain cream and wine to balance. Toni though, said that the lemon taste was just the thing to offset the humid weather. That and the 6-pack of Beck’s, what a doll.

And in the spirit of things, Santos has valentine’s music if you’re quick.

[I don't think I've had the "post as a redemptive journey" yet, so there ya go genre buffs - collect the whole set]

spinachbreadsalad

SB 16.11.04 spic malquoted lemon rectify

Wednesday leftovers and a coincidental alignment with tuesday nights dinner.

Tomato and Sausage Pasta

One onion, two cloves of garlic, one red chili all finely chopped and sauteed in EVOO until soft. One leftover cold sausage sliced and then fried a little. Add a handy bottle of tomato puree and let simmer for twenty minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Served on spinach boughtellini with grated parmesan.

tomatosausage

Spinach and Bread Salad

Croutons: cut leftover crusty bread into cubes, toasted in the oven, and then stir-fried in garlic and olive oil.

Spinach: washed, and washed again, shaken of water and then torn into pieces.

Field Mushrooms: chopped, and left for half and hour to sit in a dressing of EVOO, white vinegar (no lemons on hand), chopped flat leaf parsley, a finely chopped garlic clove, and pepper.

All mixed, a little more dressing of EVOO and balsamic and topped with grated parmesan.

Easy. Good. Leftovers + standbys.

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piccolo

A small Italian restaurant nearby when the planned meal at the Rosemount didn’t eventuate because of severe deadness is a good thing. It was cute, crowded, and Catalonian with a few Miro prints on the wall. Yes I know he’s not Italian , but come on – Miro.

It has $10 pasta mains. $10. Ten dollars. T E N dollars. Don’t pay anymore anywhere else. OK bad things out of the way, outside for the first half in the cold like the matchstick girl, but that’s not their fault and they empathised and got us an inside table as soon as it was free. The place runs at 15 to the dozen so the food is slow. No bad thing, but the good part of a bottle of wine on an empty stomach leads to boozy scoffing.

Had the bruschhetta – funghi and pomodoro and followed with the penne all’ arrabbiata (hot sausage, chilli, and tomato). Hot. Hot. All good with a home cooked feel and couldn’t fault it. Same for the bruschetta. Would have stayed for cake and coffee. Will go again. Neighbourhood good.

The wine was a NSW Arrowfield 2001 Shiraz occupying the dead centre of all considerations. Mid value value, inoffensive but not offensively so etc. Would recommend it, but not too strongly.

Finished with a bowling grudge match between the Floreat petit-Bourgeois Adventurers and the West Leederville Spartacist 3 (incl. left of centre ring in). Toni won best score and I won “player most resembling league bowler pre-game”. Winners are grinners. Shiraz gives me headaches.

rosemountbowl

rosemountdiscotime

Piccolo Italian Restaurant 44 Angove Street, North Perth; 9227-5250

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Bought 6 bottles of the Peter Lehmann 2002 Barossa Semillon yesterday at the low low price of $7.50 a bottle yesterday and had to give it a try before I bought bigger volumes for festos.

It is good, at first I thought oily but then , after another try it starts with a lemony buhwang and then sits there softly aaahhhooooohhhhhhwaahhhhh with a slight back of the throat cymbal work. Lager wine came to mind and, keeping that low low price in mind, I was happy.

The came the pasta. A dried and unusual looking pasta. filejia, that looks like a play-doh attempt at a cigarette. Lemon for pasta sauce is in tomatoes, a new world travesty, are out. Don’t argue. The sauce was:

one chopped red chilli and two chopped garlic cloves- sauteed in EVOO; followed by 150gm of proscuitto (not the paper thin slices but a couple of mill); and then a squeezed lemon and added its zest

Let’s see

…………….Chilliillilililililililililililililililililiiiiiiliiiiiiiilliil

…………….gaaaarlicky

…………….salty meaty salty salty

…………….llllleemmmonnyyyyyyyyyyyyy

buhwanggaaahhhooooohhhhhhwaahhhhh tsktsktsktsktsts

Good. Off they go those crazy kids.

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Jellied Cream.

Like it? Had it?

Thickened cream.

Never knew it.

Cream + Gelatine.

What a fraud.

Process for coming up with this:

Ubaldi Saccotini al Salmone -> Lemon-> Cream -> Fresh Parsley Fennel->Small Bottle of Pinot Chardy Sparklin’.

Saccotini al Salmone look like little wontons. Grated the lemon peel of two lemons finely, cooked in little butter for a minute or two. In went the sparkling, simmered for a few minutes. Cup of whipping cream. Simmer and stir for another two with a tbs of fennel leaves. Pour over the Saccotini and add some parmesan.

Fresh and tart creamy with the fennel adding an unexpected flavour disorient. Liked it a lot. A lot. Saccotini could have gone harder with the salmon, but why not just have fresh pasta with smoked salmon. Capers?

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Evolving dinner idea. Just some store bought ravioli. Had some fresh asparagus steamed them for a minute over the boiling pasta water and then sauteed with four thinly sliced organic garlic cloves and some EVOO. Decided to add a handful of sliced field mushrooms.

Then remembered I had some leftover cream from Saturday’s French Toast (use a bit of almond essence as well in the batter – does no harm at all). First just splashed a bit of sherry (bottomless bottle of) around in the pan then added the cream. Bit of a simmer while the ravioli was on, then seasoned to taste and garnished with parmesan.

Fresh and fuggintastic. Keep away from jars. No excuses.

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You’ve been here.

Stir, stir

You remember. You’re staying in a strange house and you have to cook dinner. Numbers go from 4, to 6, to 9 in an afternoon. You visualise the forequarter of lamb in your head. Enough? Risotto for entree, straightforward enough – there’s chorizo in the fridge. The one guest you haven’t met is the chief wine-maker at Vasse Felix. Now the forequarter, is it going to be able to be made into a rack. Chorizo and, and, and, mushrooms should be a safe enough bet. Vegetables with the main. The usual jus should do the trick – shouldn’t have left the bag of dried forest mushrooms back in Perth. Shallots would be nice in the risotto, forget and just get onions.

Stir, stir

Get back with a few hours before dinner. Lamb has defrosted, simple pestled marinade of nuovo olive oil, garlic and rosemary, crushed together. Open an MB. Try to tidy up the forequarter but bone structure unfamiliar. A simple clean up with one of the shanks taken off, remember to keep the offcuts and put them in the bottom of the roasting tray for a better gravy. Rub the marinade over and decide to add some olive tapenade. Cover and leave. Chop up vegetables, thinking small cubes, end up with the usual chunks

Stir, stir

Look for a saucepan for risotto. Find a seventies jobbie that looked ceramic but probably isn’t and has a solitary millimetre of metal all round. Have a sneaky peak in a Jamie Oliver cookbook to make sure you know what you are doing. Sautee the field mushrooms with butter. Crisp up the slices of chorizo with olive oil. Nicely done, set aside. Add the chopped up onion and garlic, sautee until soft in olive oil, add a bag and a half of risotto, stirring until it colours. Ask if anybody wants a glass of white (A Kalgoorlie Childcare Centre Fundraising Chardonnay I think), then chuck a couple in with the rice and stir. Open up the packs of chicken stock, spill half of one over the bench. Heat up in another pot. Open another MB. Go back to veges, dodge Mum making noodles, return to risotto. Keep stirring until wine is evaporated.

Stir, stir

Add the stock and return to vege prepping. Look for a rack ,there is none but settle for propping on veges. Go back to risotto. Rice has stuck ever so slightly, you work it loose with more stock and realise that if as much as one grain of rice sticks and burns, the dish is useless and it’s fish and chips for dinner. Toddler one discovers unstoppably noisy fire engine. Microwave vegetables. Another ladle of stock, more stirring, saucepan is filling in volume. About 30 minutes until ready if I take it easy. Toddler two eyes off my bright green portable stereo with destructive fascination. Return still firm vegetables to microwave. Phone rings, guests will be half an hour late. Turn heat down to murmur. Get given a Slovakian Nude Scratchy Beer. Add another ladleful and keep stirring. Turn away to put roast in the oven and veges underneath.

Stir, stir

Stock running low. Look at beef stockcubes, you decide against it and go for subtle over harsh, dilute stock with water. Nick another glass of wine. Look down to see how the oven is going and it’s slow. Last of the guests arrive. Think you can politely stretch the risotto out for another 15 minutes. Your arm throbs. Check the roast, it’s slow. Turn up head. Field a question about which wine to serve, you shrug shoulders and send out an order for plate and grated pecorino. Down to the last few drops of stock. Give the roast and the veges a quick basting. Look up people still sitting there, gesture to eat. Go back to basting, take a guess on time and back the oven off. Join the table and scoff down the risotto, not bad, someone says creamy, that’s good enough…

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Busy – so heavier postings on hold.

As a busy person you too could do much worse than a pasta sauce of thin slices of spicy sopresso cooked in some olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic.

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