July 2005

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chai panna cotta

“But we brought cream…
and scones”

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

chai ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

chai panna cotta

kingfisher sashimi and seaweed salad

A bit of photographic redemption here. Had Kate and Jon over for dinner last night and made a nabe. You can read about them in a bit more detail in this post on Red Emperor Nabe. This one was a slight variation using chicken stock and gyouza as the main addition. Entree was kingfish sashimi with a seaweed salad – bought at the Innaloo fish markets. Main was the nabe with – gyouza, chicken dango, choy sum, tofu, bamboo shoots, and daikon. Dessert was the chai panna cotta. Mucho beer and wine to ease the anxiety of having guests from Sydney but they’re both from the country too so we sat around and said yip, yeah, and bewdy.

nabe greens

gyouza and chicken dango

The idea for this nabe came from the small and very beautifully presented いまどきのなべ (right now nabe?) by 松田(Matsuda)美智子(beautiful something girl’s name) here.


chai panna cotta - Mrs Medici's cookbook looks on in sadness

Erm yes. My unhappy affair with gelatine continues on it’s unfortunate course* with a chai panna cotta with rosewater cardamon syrup. Guests were sufficiently polite/liquored up to not recoil in horror. Tasty though, I have to say. Will try not to wander off while the ramekins are sitting in hot water and see how I can get the spare one looking.

run! it’s failed conceptual food project
unsuccessful anin doufu

Steak Sandwich

steak sandwich that way

Yeah I’m back and relaxed and in new digs. Mmmm roomy. Here’s a steak sandwich I made for rock power before going to an exceptional Queens of the Stone Age gig at Perth Metro/Mad Max Thunderdome (true Chook true). It gave me strength to assist boisterous youth at the edge of the mosh pit and not worry when they sang into my ear. One grateful lad in a blue t-shirt gave me a hug and then wouldn’t let go. Bless.

I have to face up to the fact that most steak sandwiches are not the ones of my dreams (Saffy also dreams) but are overdone bits of minute steak in a skinny bit of whitebread. This one is good.

A large bit of rump steak tenderised. Don’t use a tenderiser, use your fist, trust me it’s good , you’ll feel better. Sliced up into meaty fingers and marinated in oil, soy, chinese wine, chilli powder, garlic, something called BBQ bush blend (lemon myrtle, bush tomato, and mountain pepperleaf), and potato starch for chinese velvetiness.

Onions caramelised with a pinch of brown sugar and a splash of Monteith’s Ale when softened.

Lengthy piece of foccacia carefully sliced along the middle. Bits of blue cheese along the bottom. Rare bits of steak on top of that with the onions and pour some of the pan juices ove the top. Place some spinach leaves on top. Then the top bit of bread and into the sandwich press until the cheese is melty.


One, two

Via santos who found out via R4KK4 who got me leff‘s kind technical support, we have the added dimension of sound!:


Johnny One-Cup

“All you need for a movie is girl and a gun and a bowl of cooked white rice, a raw egg, a can of tuna, some wasabi, and sprinkles.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Extra Bonus: Ah hear ya go, bonus Cook sister!: EoMEoTE #8 – all the drama!! round-up is up release of original drafts:

Johnny Noguchi stepped off the Yamanote line smelling of booze. He didn’t care. His station was never what it seemed. Maybe it should have been more like it he thought it should have been like if he thought more about what it was like but the Lets Kiosk was long shut. A night not spent following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee

Johnny Noguchi stepped of the freshly opened doors of the Yamanote line. Fuck ’em if he smelt like booze. Following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee wondering why the manko singing yesterday got to chat to the college student and he got matronly comfort. Lets Kiosk shut a while back. No drinks from there. Up the stairs, were they always this high? No ticket.

Fuck! thought Johnny Noguchi as he looked at the bowl of hot rice he’d cooked earlier before going out to find a lead where he’d ended up again at Pub Honeybee where he’d drunk sho-chu while waiting get the attentions of the younger hostess who spent all her time with the blue suited manko who sung Yesterday. Mixing in the raw egg that he’d bought at the Lawsons

Johnny One-cup walked up the station stairs that he’d walked down earlier in the day. He might have thought about this some but he had too many other things on his mind like how he’d ended up at Pub Honeybee instead of following up leads and what to eat when he got back to his apaato.

Into the conbeni, past the racks of pudding breasted bikini cover girls, sweeping past the rows of snacks – cronky, blinky, spinky, and honk, and chocolates that looked liked mushrooms. He wondered why mushrooms never looked liked chocolates and then remembered the expensive autumn mushroom matsutake that looked like a penis, not a chocolate though, but good to remember. He grabbed two eggs in a plastic container, two large cans of Sapporo black label, and made his way to the counter.

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The AE86, aka Toyota Sprinter, aka Toyota Trueno is a two-door hatchback imported into Australia for just a few years from 1983. The appeal of it lies in it being a small light car with rear wheel drive. If you’ve ever had to resort to doing donuts in reverse (hello Holden Camira) you can appreciate the advantage. This has made the AE86 a supa- dorifuto car of culty choice. The engine is a DOHC four cylinder Toyota engine which has seen faithful duty in Corollas but now with the added charms of an after-market turbo. Small mammal sized exhaust is not mandatory but is recommended. It is fun because the tyres go sqolk! the turbo goes fwoooooooooshcha and away we go.

book signing tea and sandwiches

Crafty‘s fellow Chris asked me to come along on an AE86 cruise somewhere and I said yes for reasons stated above. First though was morning tea at theirs and the small matter of my first book singing for Digital Dish. Buy one and I will personally come to your house dressed like obi-wan-kenobi and sign your book. Two and I will maintain a distance of no less than 50m from you and your property. Crafty has flash new deco digs and a fountain and while having toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, tea, and brownies, I committed to building a deck at our place.

map lights

The idea of a cruise, is you meet up at a pre-designated spot and the get given a route to drive to with designated stops at shopping centre car park for modification related banter. A dozen or so AE86s showed up. It’s very easy to engage people in conversation when they have a topic at hand they’ll happily talk about in great detail. I always find enthusiasm interesting and much better than the usual circling around general topics for a common interest. East took us to the hills and from the hills along Mundaring Weir Road through the state forrests.

chocolate From the sunroof

Stop in another car park and then decide to leave the pack and go back for a beer at the century or so old Mundaring Weir Pub. The places heaves on a Sunday and time is needed to wait for food and the sad circular journey of the sheep on a spit had yet to reach the end of its journey. It was a beer and a packet of chips and out of there, getting a jar of home made pickled onions on the way out.

Pickle Man Chris's car

Guilford burger place (Alfred’s?) hadn’t opened yet which triggered not only hunger but my usual funk on Perth’s general lack of non-shite burger places. Over the Swan River and decided to give Bassendean a try on an off-chance there was something and there was – Pierre’s Kitchen. The pic doesn’t show the rest of the shop which resembles a lunch bar but the place is the golden standard on restaurant finds – kinda slummy, cheap, and delicious.

I had the buckwheat crepe with prosciutto and mushrooms for $8 and thought it was tops. And then the day was over and Chris dropped me home from where Toni and I met up with Rob and Manas for a bite to eat and a beer at Little Creatures . Manas then put us out of our misery [in joke] with her easy/very tasty home-made orange cake with marmalade sauce which we had with a Lamont’s cleanskin.

Little Creatures pizza oven Little creatures meal Carita's Orange Cake

[coda] umm we should get out more, learn new things, and recognise that you don’t have to spend big bucks to have a good time.


Goulash and Spaetzle

I don’t really want to tell you how to live your lives, but with the weather the way it is, you should be spending your Friday nights eating goulash and spaetzle and drinking red wine and strong Belgian beer. Jo and Robbie made the goulash but my contribution was the spaetzle.

Spaetzle is the Swabian stuff you see on the right of the plate which, after a few, looks like orzo and is your best mate etc. Well worth considering as a DIY sauce-soaking carbohydrate option. As easy to make as pancakes and a happier value for time and effort than gnocchi.

It’s a simple thick batter made of:
two eggs, two cups of flour and one cup of milk.

For flavour:
a pinch of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, and a handful of fresh thyme, basil, and parsley – finely chopped.

If you’re a gadget tragic, you could get a Spaetzle Press, but I used the stainless steel washing up gear container with holes in it to get an ahhhm similar effect. Get a pot of salted water boiling and let the batter drip in and scoop it out when it comes to the surface. It was finished in a pan with some/lots of butter and served with the kilogram of beef/kilogram of onions goulash. A very happy combo.

St Bernardus Tripel [Bonus Beer Nazi finishing move here!] at 8.5% is on the sweet side but it’s solid creamy consistency offsets any possible sickliness and leaves the impression of have bitten all the way through a large block of cheddar. Shiraz is better for decanting and easier drinking resulted in guitar-based hi-jinks. Go make your own fun.



Been noticing a few people wondering where EoMEoTE#8 is and I’ve been wondering myself. Last communication I had from Jeanne was an extremely cryptic part of an email:

Never had a craving for macarons but now I do.

Normally I wouldn’t think anything of this but the spelling of macaroons is a deliberate attention getter. She lives next door to the largest macaroon factory in the United Kingdom and would constantly tell me how she was never without macaroons. The missing “o” refers to the double ovoid of IMBB?#16’s Eggs and EoMEoTE#8. With the second “o” missing one can only conclude as thus

Never had a craving for macaro[removing EoMEoTE#8]n but now I do.

But the curious thing though is that the number of letters in macarons is eight rather than nine. Eight in Japanese is hachi, coincidence I think not – not only to hatch an egg but to hatch a plot. Eight is four and two, or shini which is also the verb stem “to die”. Eight is also the cube of two. Another word for a cube is a die. The two must die. But which two? Can two people be one? Well only if they’re a gemini. And there’s only one gemini in our EoMEoTE foundation duo, and that’s me. Fuck!

I’m a dead man. Only one place to hide. In the outback.

Ha! Come and get me Jeanne Horak with your murderous intent.

You picked the wrong man to mess with Jonty Terreblanche

Well, so much for feared Rhodesian Special Forces mercenary Jonty Terreblanche. The hunter becomes the prey. Winchester lever action .22, only rifle known to drop a charging rhino head-on. Didn’t know what hit him. Now I can get around to doing my EoMEoTE post.

And if you’re feeling Aussie, Saffron’s got the first Omnivoribus Australis up. Aussie Food Blogging, in one handy location. Go see.