May 2006

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Spanakopita [from the Greek spanos – spinach, and kopita – pie] it pretty easy. Lightly blanch a couple of bunches of spinach and chop up. Chop up a few field mushrooms, a clove of garlic and some spring onions and sautee in a little olive oil. Mix it all in with three free-range eggs, a grated block of feta cheese and a handful of chopped herbs – coriander, marjoram, dill, and parsely. Butter a baking tray, place three sheets of filo pastry brushed with butter on the bottom. Add the mix and then top with three more sheets of filo. Cook at 180C for about 40 minutes.

Jo’s moussaka added gravy like goodness with near dissolved eggplant.

Buggered if I can get a single sheet of filo pastry to not tear before just chucking the rest away in scrumpled digust. Is there a trick to this?

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How many blogs have a theme tune, hey? Made this yonks ago on garage band and it’s been sitting gathering dust on my lappy. Mercifully free of vocals or any actual playing of music. Although look out for “Spiceblog! – The Iron Man Variations.”

Or you just go and enjoy this via The Poor Man.

NEWS JUST IN! – filed by Crafty

smoked salmon cut

This is easy. Part of the lunch for the-mag-is-away weekend, the Michel Roux jnr lamb cooked in a salt dough was a little trickier, maybe I’ll explain that later.

1 cup of aborio rice, 1/4 cup raw sugar, and 1 tbs of darjeeling tea. It was supposed to be jasmine rice, brown cane sugar, and jasmine tea but well I fould out I didn’t have any of these and just made do. Place it on a sheet of foil (didn’t have that either) and then place it in a wok. Place the fish in a bamboo steamer and then place that in the wok and turn up the heat. It should begin to smoke and allow it to continue to do so for about 15 minutes or until cooked. Outdoors is probably a good idea. Sliced and eaten and enjoyed a great deal. The lamb was good too with the tarragon crumbs giving it a richness that felt at times like gargling hollandaise.

Trickier still and unlike gargling hollandaise is getting out a mag. Just got back from going over the proofs, the final stage before it goes to press and yes I’m happy. The whole thing looks great. Although (inevitably) I’m not that happy with some of my stories but happy with some bits, especially the ones that made me laugh. These are at my own jokes though so the experience may be somewhat different for the rest of you. A late night but a rewarding one seeing it finally all together. Most of my work (I’m editor now – yeah yeah well I just write it here, I don’t check it) involved sitting and looking at the very unmagical MS Word and printouts, there’s then a fantastic transition when I get to see it come together on InDesign by our designer Kate with the pics from photographic editor Jeff. But nothing like big bits of paper with lines all over the margin bits (as they say in the industry). It’s quite a few more involved than just us three – Kate found herself invaluably (for us) shanghai’d and of course my wife has gone from blog widow to mag widow (but both of these have a better ring to them than bike widow) and has given me more support than I deserved. Done. Out in a week or so, when I think I’ll be licking stamps or something.

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His pistol melted, Yamanaka tai-i had no choice but ancestral weaponry to defeat the iron beast

Is there a more stunning opening to a TV program, or a movie for that matter, than the 6 Million Dollar Man with its montage of different formats – the flashing lights of computers, the rotating precursor to autocad, the overlaid radar, the voiceover, the radio voice, the cut to the grainy footage of the crash, the string heavy music accompanied by a winding up to speed turbo following a soundtrack of beeps and ventilator wheezes. It also surprised me what an ambiguous character he was, obviously half-man half-machine, but also on the earth but yearning to be back on the moon, desirable to women yet with the unresolved question of how much he was damaged – if you know what I mean, a civillian yet under the control of the military, a man but defined only in terms of coin, a reluctant killer, and with powers that are simultaneously a curse. Smile at the jump-suits, chill at the anxieties of ’70’s modernity.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that immaculate Singaporean food blogger, Chubby Hubby is assembling a list of the objectively and (a nice touch) subjectively best Asia-Pacific restaurants and needs your help doing so. Have a good loook here – Asia Pacific Best Restaurants List


porc a l'orange with braised fennel

Obviously I don’t blog everything I’ve cooked for the past week but in this case, apart from poached eggs, this is everything I’ve cooked. A stretch of long days getting the mag ‘to bed’ (sounds more romantic than it is) haven’t been very helpful to fixing dinners (or a general sense of calm, for that matter). Anyway, winter’s been bedded, more news on that later, and I could get back to messing about in the kitchen. Sorry for the average pic but the meal was much enjoyed.

The recipe is taken from these French recipes that pop into my email box each day. It’s a nice way to pick up some French cooking . You just go to Cuisine AZ and then, and then I’m not sure what you do, you’ll have to ask a French person, but eventually you’ll get a pork recipe from someone called Emmanuelle and that’s good, no? So the recipe:

300 g of pork fillet, sliced into 2cm medallions; 3 oranges – one with the rind grated and juiced and the other two segmented ; one leek, cut into 1cm lengths (the recipe calls for small white onions); butter; salt and pepper

For some nice prep practice, instead of of grating the peel, peel it without the pith, slice it into fine strips and finely chop it. Chop the ends off the other two oranges, remove the peel with a knife and then segment it by slicing between the membrane, avoiding any pith. Segmenting an orange is one of the three things you have to be able to do well before you can be considered able to do anything in cooking school. I forget the other two. Ah well.

Sear the pork in butter until it’s golden and then add the leek and the juice and the peel. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, season, then add the orange segments and simmer for another eight minutes. Remove the pork, the oranges and the leek and keep them warm and reduce the cooking liquid into a sauce – glossing it up a bit with some whisked in butter.

Found this Donna Hay recipe to go with risotto while looking for a way to slow-roast fennel. This recipe calls for braising. A few changes – I replaced chicken stock with beer, vinegar with white verjuice and dropped the amount of sugar back a bit.

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered; 1 cup of Bitburger; 1/3 cup of raw sugar; 1/3 cup of white verjuice; 4 sprigs of thyme.

Then, in an eerily familiar fashion. sear the fennel in butter until it’s golden and then add the other ingredients. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Eight minutes isn’t enough for tender, so possibly go for at least 15.

Plate it and that’s it. The citrus cuts nicely against slightly sweet and fatty pork and braised onions and fennel are your winter heartiness right there.

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Guest Post

It’s Friday, I’ve got three days to get a mag to the printers, finally nail the ending for an article on a butcher (for the love of god give me a simile!), and just I’ve realised I’m dressed like Shakin’ Stevens. Activate group blog team nippon!

seaweed broth sample lady

Irrashai! I’m the seaweed broth sample lady. I’m here to offer you a sample of seaweed broth while there aren’t any postings. Oops here comes my supervisor.


I am a wrestler who grapples with things. These savoury snack sticks represent the burden I am carrying on behalf of Anthony. Am I being a bit obvious?


curry buffet

Friday bring-a-curry dinner for six. Rude amounts of food, if we’d ended up having the naan bread as well, we would have come close to meeting the entire calorific consumption of Bangladesh for 1973. Bloody marvellous with each dish having the full attention of each maker so there was no can’t-be-arsed fade off for dishes four and five. I made a Charmaine Solomon curried duck with potatoes and cabbage (I subbed the cabbage for silverbeet leaves for a bit more oomph) as well as a mint and spring onion chutney and half a litre of cucumber raita – bringing the total up to 1.5 litres. Strategy of eating a bit, waiting, and going back later, proved most successful in making a dent in it all. Passing the time was our host’s very good idea of everybody bringing a CD with their ten favourite songs on it, loading them all up, and then putting it all on random. Guess the person’s song was fun and it there’s much pleasure in listening to music that’s outside your regular tastes but carefully chosen and an education. There was no Jive Bunny, nor were there 60 Pixies songs.
Dire Straits appeared and that was AOK by me. Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus proved rarer towards the end of the evening in favour of fade out/in/out and through composed bits of Eighty’s epicdom. No fights either. Something very Rawlsian about it but I’m not sure what. Not an easy thing to pick 10 and I ended up with an undecisive set with a few hybrid songs to fill a few gaps and round it out a bit.
My eventual top 10 were AC/DC-Ballroom Blitz; Groove Armada – I See You Baby; Shake – Kristin Hersh;
Sonic Youth- Kool Thing ; Queens of the Stone Age – First it Giveth ; Butthole Surfers – Sea Ferring; The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog; Pixies – Here Comes Your Man; Anthrax and Public Enemy – Bring the Noise; Matthew Sweet – Evangeline.
No arguing.



she who eats and takes lots of pics

I guess it was only a matter of time before shewhoeats visited manthatcooks so I’ve just said farewell to Chika, who’s been staying at ours for the past five days. It was mucho fun having another food blogger staying over and great to have food photography outsourced. I can’t begin to describe the drop jawed pride I felt at having my dinner so generously documented (try not to look too hard at the chord I’m attempting there*). Go have a look, I have,
about 600 times – she who eats eats what man that cooks cooks.

* no actually it’s a C