February 2004

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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.