salad

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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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obviously a rubbish shot but a startlingly accurate one

You know, you meet at the Subiaco farmers market to select food for the night’s dinner with friends, share in the fruits of the farmers toil by filling your basket with produce and then you go and drink several beers, a couple of G&Ts, a bottle of sparkling red (experimental Myattsfield), a bottle of Riesling (’09 Castle Rock) and a Shiraz (’04 Will’s Domain) [all local and great] and wonder why the room’s spinning while you’re carving the main course.

It’s a valuable lesson against starting early and then waiting for excitable kids to go to sleep before starting dinner but, that said, mission accomplished. Three courses from what we picked up earlier – pecans, snapper, organic sweet potato and potatoes, an eye fillet of beef, rocket and assorted lettuce, field mushrooms, snapper, bread, double cream and, as an added challenge for a nation troubled by fruit/meat combos, a tray of peaches.

So.

Entree
Snapper cooked and tossed in a peach salsa of a couple of diced peaches, handful of coriander, half a finely chopped onion, a finely chopped green chili, a squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of olive oil. Leave salsa for an hour to let the flavours mingle with each other and adjust flavours to taste.
Frozen snapper reacquaints itself with the sea with a sprinkle of salt and left for five minutes before cooking on the BBQ. Try also with frozen prawns.

Mains
Beef fillet seasoned, seared, brushed with eggwhite and truffle mustard and then covered with a mix of ground pecan and fresh breadcrumbs (2:1 ratio). Popped in a baking tray flanked by large field mushrooms cut in half and sprinkled with the pecan-bread mix and all splashed with olive oil. Pop a meat thermometer in the fillet and cook it in a hot lidded BBQ. Remove when the thermometer reads about 55C for medium rare and let it rest.
Jus made in from chopped mushroom stems and red wine reduced [actually I can't remember exactly what happened here]
Potatoes diced and parboiled to join the oven roasting diced sweet potato [slow roasting releases the sugars] and then roasted up with extra olive oil and some salt.
There was also a rocket and peach salad somewhere in there.

Dessert
Slice the cheeks off the peaches, brush with a little olive oil and grill on the BBQ. You can even go that bit further and manage not to cremate the skin. Extra points for crosshatched 90degree rotation on grill.
Serve with double cream and a few wavy lines of cream of balsamic .

I then walked through a screen door, demanded photos of myself, a few other things which I’ll be told in due season and then the autonomic defense system kicked in, found me a comfy chair and sent me gently to sleep. A perfect evening.

Pro Kitchen Drinking Tips!
1. Prep! Get all the tricky slicing stuff out of the way earlier on – nobody loses a finger stirring.
2. Cook and leave! High maintenance dishes take away valuable time spent socialising with a glass of something.
3. Desserts! You’ll be at the lowest level of your skills. Keep it easy.
4. Coffee! You’ll need one to make it from dessert to the cheese platter.
5. Manners! Nobody’s going to pour you a glass of something nice after an expletive filled rant on cycleways.

Public Notice: I’ll be speaking about editing a food mag, food blogging and related interesting things next Thursday as part of the Autumn UWA Extension Course. I believe there might still be a seat or two available. More details.

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7 day lamb

It looks a bit wrinkly but it's really very good and if you look carefully you can see the adjustment bolts on my hibachi cradle which are not at all a result of poor measuring. It's also a shoulder rather than your classic gigot.

This is a Michel Roux Jr recipe that I’ve removed a couple of minor convolutions from and kept the basic principles. One useful tool is a vacuum sealer because a piece of meat sitting in a bowl in a fridge for a week isn’t ideal for household harmony

- The marinade is your classic French marinade of onion, celery, and carrot (all in big chunks) and then some rosemary, peppercorns, and half a bottle of dry red wine and splash of brandy. Place it in the bad bag with the lamb shoulder, seal and leave in the fridge for a week.
- Separate the lamb, the vegetable and the marinade. Sear the lamb in butter and remove; then brown the vegetables with some chopped bacon; and then return the lamb with the marinade. Top with stock – I used chicken and white verjuice instead of veal. Bring to the boil and skim.
- Cover and cook in a 140C oven for seven hours or until the meat is flaking off.
- Allow the meat to cool in the juices. Here you would let it sit for another day but I just chilled it to the point where the fat had set on top of the liquid and I could just skim it off.
- Remove the meat, carefully strain the liquids and toss the vegetables out.
- Reheat the meat in the liquids, which are by now a lovely rich jus. Once heated the jus can be seasoned and/or reduced to taste.

I served the meat on polenta cooked in half water-half milk and ‘carved’ the meat with tongs.

Fig and Mozarella Salad
This is hiding behind the roast. Figs are gorgeous at the moment – soft, sweet and fleshy – and are quartered and combined with rocket and buffalo mozzarella. I’m not the biggest fan of pre-made dressings but Maloufs Pomegranate Dressing is just brilliant.

Right at the back are some steamed beans with chopped tomatoes, EVOO and sea salt.

Bottle of slightly chilled MyattsField ’08 Tempranillo hit the spot for red meat on a hot day conundrum.

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A home cooked meal

sunday roast

Quite novel of late.

Assorted extras while I’m at it:

- if you’ve muffed up your mayonnaise and it’s separated, it’s repairable. Just get another emulsion going with another egg yolk and a few small drops of olive oil, then gently add your previous failed FAILED! effort.

- a lot of potato salads are steering away from mayonnaise and going for a bit of vinegar and olive oil. Sounds nice and healthy but unless you’re using that sugary shit from a jar, all you’re adding to the olive oil by making your own mayo is an egg yolk.

- the mayonnaise was two egg yolks, a cup of EVOO, salt pepper, a tbs of truffled mustard and a splash of sherry vinegar at the end.

- in the salad was kipfler potatoes, chopped spring onions, roasted walnuts, crisped prosciutto, chopped sorrel and four eggs boiled for 8 minutes.

nannygai and watermelon


Just something quick that was going to involve squid but didn’t. A large toungue-like strip of nannygai was substituted and dusted in plain flour, (less) cornflour, (much less) chilli powder and (a little more) ground coriander. Ground coriander was added because it has a more interesting flavour profile than just chilli and has a hint of orange to it. The watermelon is a mix I nicked from Jackson’s of watermelon, finely chopped spanish onion, coriander leaves and mint leaves. A bit of gloss for the fish came from a hot vingarette which you can make by deglazing the pan with some wine vinegar and the some EVOO.

Nice. Although the watermelon had a bit of bought earlier in the week limpness about it which isn’t good.

ALSO

Assuming you haven’t spent all your christmas dosh on spice subscriptions and on-line ordering a reminder that Menu for Hope III is on and it’s a fantastic chance to combine christmas giving (the United Nation’s World Food Program), and getting (the chance to win some fabulous food prizes – they could always be belated christmas fan).
Big Bowie fan Santos has her head around it and is offering self-enabling DIY muffins and a bento starter kit and then get over to pim’s and helen’s for the full deal. You can check on the progress at the donations page.($18,000 $26,000 so far !!!)

AND
In the best thing for Perth since the Air Races, Matt is hosting food blog photo contest DMBLGIT. Entries close December 28th so rifle away through your November pics.

salmon salad


Salad salad salad. There are a lot of platitudes about healthy food but it does make sense. Every time we eat we have an opportunity to eat what will do us good or eat something shite. Better if it’s tasty shite, worse if it’s shite shite. If it’s good for you and tasty, then doubly plus good. Mucho macho delusion is at work. The movie running through the head is that unhealthy eating is vindicated by being oh so tasty and a willingness to stare death in the face to do it. In reality it’s a failure to develop reasonable adult tastes and an unwillingness to work beyond the hot, the salty, and the fatty as the pinnacles of food pleasure. The result is usually to work most of the way through it to justify getting it in the first place and then spend the rest of it wondering what you were thinking, case in point – the Whopper. Then it’s the useless loop of validation and the fruitless search for the taste that you thought you’d get. Not forgetting the whole forbidden fruit thing but it’d be nice if the forbidden fruit wasn’t forbidden froot, if you know what I mean. Perception: wildly pushing risk parameters on a thundering hunk of hot metal. Reality: riding Virago into back of vehicle while looking back at outrun Excel.

Why don’t I make more salads? I dunno. Salads are subordinate clauses to the controlling idea of meat and have the Tontoes about them. We rarely, if ever, make a course of them. The trick is to make them more like bongos and less like drum kits. Actually I hate bongos after many a perfectly good boho party in the early nineties was ruined by squads of percussionistas. Somebody had put a mirror on the lawn so you could like look at the stars and this vibe was demolished by a lumpen faux salsa chorus. Anyway this is a healthy salad and more meal in a bowl like the Vietnamese Beef salads and an amped up version of the token bits if browned bacony things in a Caesar, the Japanese do a nice line in a seafood salad. With the recipe I was looking for gone missing, I kind of made it up with repeated finger dipping tastings (not hygenic I know but better food poisoning than relying on some kind of palatal telepathy). As a meal you’ve got your meat, your veg, and your bread.

Wash and dry some lettuce – the further away from the nutritionally empty iceberg the better. Grape tomatoes and trimmed and steamed asparagus refreshed to a chill immediately after steaming in ice water.

Pan fry salmon cutlet in a little vegetable oil. I marinated the salmon in a little saké for 15 minutes. Flake it while it’s still hot (builds finger character) and make sure no bones get into the salad.

I was distracted and let the asparagus oversteam and become soft so I thought croutons would add a bit of crunch. Thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted in a toaster, and cut into cubes. The innovation was to quickly fry them in the pan I’d just cooked the salmon in to give it a nice coating of fishy flavour goodness

Dressing: 4tbs soy sauce; 2tbs lemon juice; 2tbs white vinegar; 2tsp sugar; 3 spring onion whites, finely sliced; 2tbs ginger, finely grated; 2tbs of white and black sesame seeds, lightly dry pan toasted. Pop in a jar and shake and pour over salad. The measurements are recollected guesstimates, accurately replicate it at your peril. If you want a bit of a guide, the soy sauce is salty, the lemon juice adds fresh tangy sourness, the vinegar a bit of spare sour fruitiness, the ginger and spring onions a bit of pungency, the sesame seeds add crunch and toastiness, and the sugar add sweetness to offset the saltiness of the soy. Adjust accordingly.

A fine addition to the mid-week warm weather repertoire that’s as healthy as it is tasty and as crusty as it is trusty with the cruton hitting the futon and the pisces balancing any nutritional crises.

Note: in a break from food photograph narratives, neither the book, garlic, watch, or mango were in the salad. Apologies for any confusion that may have resulted.

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kinda waldorfy caeserish salad


I don’t make a lot of salads, so it’s no surprise that I’ve kind of made several different salads in one. If it looks a bit busy, you’re right. All it needs is olives, avocado, and some rice. There are, however a few good tricks in there that can be applied generally.

Anchovy Mayonnaise:
If you’ve been paying attention, you should be able to make your own pasta, bone a chicken, dismember a rabbit, and make your own stock. Now I think you should make your own mayonnaise too. First reason is it takes about five minutes and second reason is that commercially available mayonnaise is sugary jellied crap. Plus if you’re making it yourself, you can mess around with different stuff.

The basics are an egg yolk, no more than one cup of oil per yolk, a teaspoon of mustard (helps emulsify), and salt and pepper. Try to have them at room temperature. For this one I used all of the above but the oil was a mix of 1/4 cup each of walnut oil, EVOO, and vegetable oil. Whisk the other ingredients together and then add the oil drop by drop, whisking continously. Build up to a thin slow stream but take a break before your arm drops off . Once it’s all blended in, whisk in a couple of teaspoons of hot water to thin and stabilise it. Season to flavour.

To this I added a teaspoon of anchovies, finely chopped and then smeared to a paste with the flat of my chef’s knife and whisked in.

Asparagus:
Cut off the tougher end – around the bottom fifth. These ones were quite thick so peel the bottom two thirds, slice in half down the middle, and then half again, and cook in butter. Keep warm.

Walnuts:
Roast in the oven (or in a pan). Keep warm.

Radicchio and Rocket:
Wash and drain and dry if need be. Those salad spinners are great but I don’t have one.

Croutons:
Chop bread into cubes and dry in a hot oven. Fry a couple of cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil and then toss the cubes in them. Keep warm.

Apple:
Core and then thinly slice. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them to prevent discolouration.

Goat’s Cheese:
Local stuff – Kytren. Very nice, you only need a little bit for that sour cheesy taste. Crumble over the top. I almost left it off for being a it gimmicky but no harm done.

Prep and Eating:
Mix the leaves, croutons and apples together with the mayonnaise. Then top with the walnuts, asparagus, and goat’s cheese and the flick a little of the mayonnaise over the top.

Great, it was a meal in itself and if it wasn’t the most harmonious of mixes, everything was well represented. Nice as leftovers with some bald-chin groper cooked in butter too.

And: Got my chef’s knife sharpened at Cut it Out on Murray Street (another bit of Jackson’s advice along with the mayonnaise and the smearing bit to make a paste). Well recommended, I had no idea my knife could be that sharp. Too scared to use it now, might slice the bench in half.

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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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