May 2004

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2004.

Fish Monday

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

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

Polenta

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

Mushroom and Cream Sauce

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

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

Mahi Mahi

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

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

My Resentment Rules

It seems PERTH RULES!!!!!!!

I really do live under a rock.

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

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

Important Public Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob at the IBS says


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 slices – sated.

12 minutes shopping – happy.

Koeksister

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

Anyone know where I can get some?

Were my house this easy.

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

Red Throated Emperor with Spinach

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

a) being healthy

b) stretching my fish parameters

c) observing the dictates of the Monday crucifixion sect.

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

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

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

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

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

Shige

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

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

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

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

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

Shige21 Mends Street, South Perth

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

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

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

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

Chicken

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

Soup

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

Combining

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

Eggs

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

Left to sit for a minute and then served.

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

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

Berocca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post Birthday

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack’s First Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Road to Kalgoorlie

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s Saucy Jack -the birthday boy.

Kalgoorlie

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

Bolsheviks in the Bush

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

Search

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

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

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

As follows – premarination; improvised bookmarks; bouquet garni.



Vorsprung Durch Technic

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

Comments

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

The Naan who came in from the cold

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

Beef Bourguignon – home straight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beef Bourguignon – raging lardons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage one done.

Old Swan Brewery

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

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

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

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

Meads – Mosman Park

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

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

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

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

Plain Mushroom Omlette

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

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

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

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

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

Jellied Eels Retraction

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

Today I tried a

Nooooooooooooooooohhhhh!

Guh. 6 pack of Coopers discovered in the freezer.

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

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

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

Who are the people…

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

Chopper

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

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

In my kitchen-

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

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