June 2004

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Listen All of Y’all it’s a Pinotage

Listen All of Y’all it’s a Pinotage

Jeanne of Cook sister, has been horse whispering and lured me away from local wine and into trying a South African one – she’s right, think hemispherically. Check out Henley Wine Fair and realise why I’m more than happy to humbly take her advice. Always on the lookout for something new, a Pinotage (Hermitage and Pinot Noir) captured my interest.

To do it justice, I got a leg of lamb from the freezer. My Dad’s gone soft and become less of a mutton purist in his old age, Pah! Still, with him and a good friend up in Muntadgin – a steady supply of meat has been assured. Fear that lamb may become a specialist meat in the future, they’re hard work, the shearers aren’t there, there are other ways of restoring the soil (ploughing crops in) so more and more farmers are getting out of sheep.

Leg was done in a new marinade inspied by the simple but trusty “Best Backyard BBQ Cookbook”. The recipe called for a butterfly, but I was feeling proper Sunday Roasty. Cleaned up the fat and skin- cross scored it and coverered it with the marinade for one hour.

Marinade

2tbs Jingilli olive oil, 1tbs of green peppercorns – crushed, 3 cloves of garlic- minced, 2tbs of fresh mint mashed together in a mortar.

Veges

Three tubers of Jerusalem Artichoke, Sweet Potato, and Royal Blue Potatoes. All parboiled and roasted, with the late addition of some Broccolini splashed with olive oil.

Eating and Drinking

Loved the roast – served with a simple red wine jus. JA’s could have been more thinly sliced. Broccolini florets dry out very quickly. I often double cook the roast, just cooking the outside half and finishing the inside for later in the oven. I don’t know if there’s anything wrong with this – it means I get the right balance of doneness. Then again, it does scream too fast cooking and potential food poisoning.

The wine was very pleasant. It was much softer than I’d been warned and liked the non-jamminess…erm self-conscious alert. I’ll stop there and will promise to look West more often for my wines (as you Easterners should).

No pics I’m afraid- camera ate my memory card.

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A few years back now I used to enjoy stopping over at at Canadian friend’s tiny run-down apartment in Yokohama. We’d stop off at the su-pa- to get some beers and a bottle or two of French wine and drink until the small hours of the morning, listening to North Korean organ music on the radio, and getting through a few topics like the Russian language and four wheel drifting on ice. My getting my greasy fried chicken hands all over one of his immaculate copies of Car Magazine sparked a discussion on all food being good if fried. This led to the laughable idea of fried wine. My regular blog reads have been abuzz with things about food and health so I’ve been inspired to turn a 2am dream into reality

Theory

If deep fried ice-cream can work, then so can this. I’d turn wine into jelly (the gelatinous jesus) and then cover it with batter and fry it. It was wine with beer batter, then it was beer with beer batter (which made more sense but wasn’t “the dream”), and then I thought that instead of beer for fizziness, I could use champagne.

Jelly

I’d made jellied treats before but never with Agar-Agar . Agar Agar is used in Asian food and,as it’s a seaweed, by vegetarians.

Used two cups of dry red wine, 6 tablespons of Agar Agar

Brought the wine to a boil, and then put in the agar agar and let it simmer for 20 minutes and then strained (clean the strainer quickly as it sets). Put the wine in the fridge to chill. It’s incredibly strong, I remember waiting for jelly to set as a kid, but this was set as soon as it reached fridge temperatures.

Intermission

Went off to Chuntney Mary’s Indian Restaurant on the corner of Hay and Rokeby. We were actually on the corner, outside – Subiaco was heaving, it seemed to be half price drinks night for jailbait. Food was great again – go the goat. Brought friends back to share in the experiment.

Batter

Just one egg, SR flour and a half bottle of champagne lightly beaten.

Cooking

Used corn oil for frying and brought it up to 180c. Process was quite simple, a teaspoon of wine jelly dipped in the batter and the fried until golden. Well recommended to have a lid handy, any contact by the jelly with the oil sets of a shower of hot oil.

Practice

Disappointing but promising, the batter was great but the dry red was just too harsh. Under the guidance of a Doctor and an Engineer, I reduced the quantity of jelly, and added two or three tablespoon of caster sugar to the batter. This helped a little but the wine was still the problem – something gentler perhaps.

Possibilities

I’ve heard dusting helps the batter stick, I could dust with icing sugar to increase the sweetness. Breadcrumbs might bulk up the batter and make it a greater proportion of the flavour. I could add sugar to the wine but that’d make it more like a wine gum. Bitter chocolate sauce?

Daniel McNeil – thumbprints sorry.

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

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

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

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

Barret’s Bread 19a Broadway Nedlands

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbeer. This one’s to Bill – happier times.

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

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

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

Frittata are the inflexible predecessors of omlettes and the easiest of all egg things to make – including boiled. I had 5 eggs so instead of two skinny omlettes, I made this from a look in the fridge. What I had were some smoked salmon pieces*. I also looked at a tub of sundried tomatoes but decided it’d overdo things and applied the less is more rule.

Being

5 Margaret River Free Range Eggs, handful of chopped smoked salmon, 2 grated potatoes, chopped parsley, 4 chopped spring onions, pepper, olive oil

Doing

Separated the egg whites, gave them a good whisking to aerate. Reunited the yolks, mixed and added the parsley and seasoned with a little pepper. In an ovenable cast iron frypan, I gently fried the spring onions until soft. Then, a mild heating and stir of the potatoes and salmon. In went the eggs, making sure they covered it all. Cooked gently until browned underneath then finished in the oven under the griller.

Nothingness

It was very very nice. And I use nice advisedly, it made me feel homely, earthy – I saw bits of moss between logs. Good. Easy. If I were back in my three recipes are all you need days, this would have been one of them.

*Attention shoppers: Innaloo fish markets do a good price on smoked salmon “bits”.

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

I was given a copy of Denise Grieg’s excellent “the australian cook’s dictionary” yesterday by a dieting friend in a vicarious mood and it should go no end to helping the food vocabulary around here. So goodbye to my favourite dish “Cooked in an oven Cow Meat with a thingy poured over it” and hello – well I haven’t read it all yet. Two things have got my curiosity though.

The first is the sheer globalism of the entries, while still being representative of what we would consider “Australian” food. Although heavily weighted to French, almost every page is over 70% words of a non-English (and we could get into an argument over the definition of this) source. Eager social scientists or historians might make something of this and social changes of Australia.

My most ancient historical source is a 1970 copy of “The Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook”. Again, French features reasonably heavily but a quick cruise through the comprehensive index barely yielded a double figure amount of non European terms whereas “tacd” has 26 in the “A”s alone – with a high representation of Japanese terms (might be the influence of her son working at Tetsuya’s). Not many SE Asian food terms though and if you have a look through some of the blogs in IMBB you’ll realise something serious is amiss.

The second point is that the singular of choux is chou. This would explain the dual spelling – if I’m not mistaken, it should be the singular form in chou pastry.

If either of these points even slightly interested you, you’ll enjoy Cooking Verbs at Language Log. LL are F1 engineers, I am the bloke in greasy overalls at the garage saying “yeah well it might be the diff'”.

Finally – one thing amiss is that it doesn’t have pronunciation. This is a big issue for a man who spent more than a short time walking around saying chianti and korizo. Is there any difference in pronunciation between chou and choux?

Also, is “chop suey” a real Chinese word? I’d heard otherwise.

IMBB5 readers – hello and welcome. Regular readers unaware of the Is My Blog Burning event, here’s some background.

The unlucky guest, a Red Emperor,is one of the finest white fleshed fish available in the seas of Western Australia. A whole fish needs to be given its dues. More so for having been yanked out of a happier place and further still for being named like the missing link between Puyi and Mao. The result was simple but elaborate, or maybe vise versa. As much as I like my fish simple, it deserved a little more in it’s starring role than a dab of butter.

A nabe (nahbeh) is a kind of Japanese steam boat, or a fish stock fondue. Really it’s just seafood, tofu and vegetables cooked around a table in broth – popular for cold weather home parties. The ceviche is not really a ceviche at all but sashimi with dressing, catering for birthday guests who might have found raw fish a bit much. It was added to get the full value of the fish’s flavour and to do 3 things with the fish rather than just one.

“Traditional” cuisine in Australia is a head scratcher and my childhood fish experience was crumbed fish digits. The rationale was a menu that would make the best use of the fish, keep me out of the kitchen when guests arrived, allow me a bit of nostalgia, and be geographically specific as it’s winter down here -although a sunny 18C winter.



There’s all the gear – just missing food.

Red Emperor



The head and bones were for the broth, the wings for later to be put in the nabe dish for ongoing stock value. The best part of the fillets was kept as a strip to be sliced as sashimi for the ceviche. The rest was cut up into bite sized pieces. These pieces would be for the guests to put into the nabe pot, cook, and eat.

The Broth

An A5 amount of konbu seaweed left to sit in a couple of litres of cold water for 20 minutes and then brought to the boil. Just before it does boil, the konbu has to come out. Konbu is the base for dashi stock and I’ve recently learnt that it’s a natural source of the MSG like mysterious fifth flavour – umami. Into the pot went the fish head and the bones to simmer for 30 minutes. The resulting strained broth is what all the ingredients are cooked in at the table.

The Rest



not the definitive list by any means but here’s what we cooked along with the fish.

  • a dozen fresh shiitake mushrooms – stems removed

  • firm tofu – microwaved for 1 minute to firm – bite sized pieces

  • fried tofu -rinsed in boiling water – bsp

  • bamboo shoot – half cm slices

  • half a daikon -half cm slices and parboiled.

  • a dozen prawns – the body shelled, poo tube removed

  • a dozen crayfish legs

  • a dozen baby squid tubes- halved and scored.

  • kamaboko (fish cake) – half cm slices

  • chinese cabbage and spinach roll – both boiled and then as beneath, rolled then sliced.

Dipping Sauce

2 parts soy to 1 part ponzu(lemon vinegar). Guests just put a small amount into their bowl.

Three Fish Ceviche Entree



Sashimi grade, tuna and salmon and the fillet of Red Emperor with the skin removed. Sliced into half cm thick pieces, lain on a bed of thinly slice lemon, with the following dressing drizzled over it.

Half a cup of local extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbs white wine vinegar, 12 green peppercorns; and the juice of lemon. Crushed in a pestle and given a stir. The chopped green bits of spring onions provided colour.

Eating

The broth went in the nabe pot and then we all sat around dropping food in and arguing about whose was whose. The delicately flavoured pieces of Red Emperor were well served by a quick swim in the light broth. The standout though was the ceviche – tuna and salmon are my sashimi regulars but the Red Emperor was heaven. The citric acid test was passed. The cold glassy eye of the fish still stares at me, but this was the best I could do to say sorry and thank you.

Drinks

Without the following this may have not been possible.

Rummages around recycle bin..

Brandy and Dry – settle an upset tummy

Red Bull and Tequila – get things going a bit

Emerson’s 1812 IPA – an Indian Pale Ale from NZ – best thingout of there since The Datsuns

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout- wowly exceptional stout

Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbeer & Dunkel- world’s oldest brewery -free glasses!!

Alias Pinot Noir 2001 (Adelaide)- supposedly a cutely titled release from a winery that usually puts this stuff out at three times the price. Pat myself on the back bargain.

Became a bit of a blur after this, vaguely remember laughing at Robert Plant’s trousers again.

Footnote: In thanking the fish and the booze, I should have also thanked my guests, you know who you are, for the seafood, gifts, drinks, and good company. You all score 11.

Update: Wena has done a great job with the list of submissions. Go read.

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

This should fix it.

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

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

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

Off you go, go on…

Cognito ergo pod

Having popped out not long before man first stepped on the moon, I am 35 today. 35 – never had a truffle, never poached a whole salmon, never roasted a goat – but who cares I now have an iPod. An iPOD! did you hear that, an iPod, oh hello Mr. Tree did you know it can hold 5000 songs, Good Morning Mrs. Bird – look it can organise songs by genre…

I’m the luckiest boy in the world…oh no.

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

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

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

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

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

…a fine tang of faintly scented urine

Happy Bloomsday.

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

Photobucket is experiencing transmission problems. Do not adjust your set.

Quick crisper tray job this one.

Filling

one small onion -chopped, one clove of garlic-minced, 1 Zucchini -cubed, one tomato-diced, 5 mushrooms-sliced

In that order in some olive oil onion and garlic sauteed in a saucepan until soft, then zucchini and tomato. Cooked a little over a medium heat, finish with the mushrooms and season.

Omlette

6 free range eggs, 1 tbs of fresh tarragon – minced, pepper

Tried to beat a few egg whites for fluffiness but was having issues keeping the yolks out – poison for decent volumed whipping. I got them to a limp froth and folded in the remaining yolks and white. Added the tarragon and left for 20 minutes.

The tarragon was left over from the bernaise sauce. I’ve not had it in omlettes before but knew it was good for chicken so, well eggs, No? This may be a genetic fallacy.

The filling was added and covered with a single fold of the omlette. It was far better than I expected – best yet says in house critic. The tarragon added an element of unfamiliar familiarity which is no bad thing in food.

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

Meat and three veg – one being Dennis Hopper.

The vegetable you see is a cathedral broccoli which, frankly, scares the hell out of me – it’s the chameleon eye, a martian bosom, and the fractal shapes are too close to comfort to a couple of particularly nasty lysergic adventures of years past. Had not David at BARISTA set the tone, I may have missed the inspiration. It joins three regulars and a first attempt at bernaise sauce.

Cathedral Broccoli

Sliced carefully into horizontal thirds so I could cook it without boiling or roasting. Cooked on a stove-top grill with a little olive oil. When the grill marks were dark it went into the oven to slowly keep cooking.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Better than potatoes – only a little difficult to peel due to their knobbliness and you should peel them in water with the juice of half a lemon in it as it discolours quickly. Sliced into 5mm sliced and cooked the same way as the broccoli.

Field Mushroom

Two, stem removed and done very simply, just a sprinkle of pepper and salt and then cooked on the stovetop grill until soft and the put into the oven with the others.

Scotch Steak

Done until the red of the juices weeping out started to change to clear.

Bernaise Sauce

2/3 cup of white vinegar, small handful of tarragon, the whites of two chopped spring onions, salt and pepper

Heat these over a medium flame until it reduces to a few tablespoons of liquid -finely strain, pressing out the liquids and toss out the solids

4 egg yolks, 4 tablespoons of water

This part I enjoyed. Just put them in a saucepan and whisk them for under a minute and then put the saucepan over a medium heat. I kept whisking waiting for the precise moment for the sauce to “lose volume”. Three minutes and I thought I’d missed it and then suddenly it goes from frothy to creamy. Magical. Quickly off the heat, stir a bit longer and then add the reduced vinegar to taste.

Together

Very happy. Jerusalem artichokes have a gorgeous chewy texture – like bean paste. The bernaise sauce worked and the cathedral broccoli was no monster after all – a grillable green.

Synchronic Update What is it with these Melbournians – scaring the b’jezus out of me again.

Further Update Just…whimper…furgin…sob…stobbit. Don’t click on photos

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions, decisions and with two projects to be finished.

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

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

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

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

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

Went to Kitchen Essentials in Subiaco today, it seems to cater for people who find things not quite expensive enough at other stores.

I think it was in the short lived but brilliant satirical magazine Might. They noted that consumption for the nineties differed from the eighties in that all consumption would be ostensibly humble but essentially extravagant. A $2000 bike, a $5 coffee, and a $7 loaf of bread. And so it comes to Perth and I bought a 500gm packet of puy lentils for $6.50.

To put this in perspective, a ton of wheat works out to about 15c for the same amount. On the other hand, puy lentils are hard to find and have the quality of not turning to mush after being cooked. The could be called the Rolls Royce of pulses but let’s keep in mind we are still talking lentils here

Anyway, bought they were and then I had to work out what to do with them. I had a bad case of the illusory choices. This is where I have a clear idea of hundreds of options which promptly disappear when I try to access them. This has often occurred at a video store, and if I remember correctly, every time I made the transition to singledom. I could have sworn there were hundreds of recipes for them in my cookbooks and I found about 7. Most for lentil salad – joy.

Time considerations led me to compromise so I modified a very simple recipe from The Cordon Bleue at Home that I’d be meaning to try. The most counter-intuitive thing is the amount of garlic needed. It seems a lot but from experience with a Chinese beef dish, slow cooking mellows things considerably. I also substituted chicken breasts for chicken pieces which cause problems later. The lentils would be experimentally integrated into the dish.

All I needed

2 free range chicken breasts, 2 whole heads of organic garlic – separated but not peeled, 1tbs olive oil, small bunch of sage -finely chopped*, glass of white wine, salt and pepper

Season the chicken and heat a casserole dish to a high heat on a burner with the olive oil. Brown the chicken breasts, then add the garlic cloves – reducing the heat. Stir the cloves for 5-7 minutes – softening but not browning. Season again, add the sage, and stir in the wine. Bring to a boil and put in a 190C oven uncovered for 25 minutes stirring occasionally.

Put the lid on and cook for another 15 minutes.

After this, keep the chicken warm, and run the liquids and garlic through a fine sieve, working the garlic through. This will become the sauce.

Lentils

This was where the recipe diverged. I was going to cook the lentils in the dish but the requirement of straining, led me to try something else. The lentils were actually called French Green Lentils, but I was promised they were 99% the same as puy. Is this a “Sparkling White” thing?

Put a cup of lentils in plenty of boiling water, let simmer for 12 minutes, and drain.

Now,return the lentils to the saucepan and add the strained sauce. Let them cook together for about five minutes and pour over each chicken breast. Serve.

And?

Well we learn. The lentils were enjoyable the texture made me feel less like an invalid but they’re a pleasure that craves company. The garlic didn’t overwhelm, just subtle notes. The chicken, unfortunately, was dry and this shouldn’t have surprised me. The meat is lean, there were no bones or fat, and the largish casserole dish and my drinking needs meant they were awkwardly half poached, half steamed. A reduction in the cooking time would have helped and this may be time to time to buy that larding needle I’ve always wanted.

Were the lentils worth it? Well if you’ve aspired to a better lentil, then this is an opportunity to realise your dreams more cheaply than many others.

* I’ve learnt having dry (not dried) herbs assists in finer work as the bits don’t stick together – a quick shake over a burner after rinsing helps, though some could feasibly argue that it destroys the delicate taste but well…

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

Victory

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

Demanding contest conditions here.

Chicken

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

  • local

  • humane treatment of animals

  • product as an end

  • market diversity

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



In regards to your question the law states that: –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crayfish Ravioli with Crayfish Shell Sauce

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

Crayfish Ravioli

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

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

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

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

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

Cooked in salted water for 6 minutes.

Crayfish Sauce

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

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

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

Presentation

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

Well?

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

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

Groper and his Wife

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

This Kiwi Monteith’s Black Beer is good though.


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

What they said plus ummmm smoky?

Dongara

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

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

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

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

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

Onigiri wa Uchi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish!

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

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

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

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

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

Meat

600gm mutton -cut into 3cm cubes

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

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

Spinach

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

The curry

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

1/2 onion chopped;

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

4tbs butter

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

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

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

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

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

Serve with pappadums – I forgot about rice.

Well?

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

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