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Before I was taught how at work, every time I’ve attempted to do anything with an artichoke, I’ve ended up with just a pile of leaves and bits.

I imagined that they’re a kind of bleak French existential joke for the rest of us. You know the one where at the end of our quest there is nothing. Not that socialist nihilism is doing them too badly according to Ahmed Bouzid [thanks Brian Bahnisch] . Although one has to ask if the assumptions are all wrong and France has insufficient teen pregnancy and too high maths skills to aspire to God’s chosen free market. But I wander off.

Artichokes are, in short, where one of the truck drivers in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear reveals to us, just before he dies, that behind the fence was nothing. (Nearly the finest moment in cinema) And what was it that Kurtz saw before his death? What does one see in the darkness? And if we cannot see it, is it there? Let me light a candle, dressed like Dorothy Lamour, and show you where the centre lies.

artichoke artichoke

First, make yourself a bowl of acidulated water with the juice of a lemon. This will stop the artichoke browning. Cut the stem of just as it begins to taper out to the base. Peel the stem back until the white is shown. Place it in the water.

artichoke

Lop the top third off. A bread knife makes it easier.

artichoke artichoke

Peel away some of the leaves and trim around the base to the white up to the part where it break up into individual leaves.

artichoke artichoke

Slice the rest of the top off and use a teaspoon to to scrape out the fibrous centre that is the choke.

artichoke artichoke

Trim the top. And tadah! Place it in the acidulated water and then do what you like with it. It’s traditionally tasty boiled and the placed on a steak with a bernaise sauce.

Unrelated but quite important: Thanks to Sue

and Saffy for pointing out I had a nice plug written for this blog in the Sydney Morning Herald. Hello if you’ve come from there. I’ll share one part: “tempting recipes that go well beyond the basics” . Which is kind of true but I’d hate to think people had the impression that they were difficult. I suspect it may be a lack of clarity in the instructions – so if you aren’t sure what I’m going on about, I’m always happy to explain further*. And cheers to whoever was responsible for the piece.


*assuming I know what I’m going on about.

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pork belly with cabbage and pears

Poor result with photos leads to a grittier feel and the shift from narrative to character driven food post.

Pork Belly: Porky! Fatty! Schoolyard taunts bounce off this delightful slice of meat. Trim the skin off for crisping later if braising. Chopped in to bite sized chunks and the bones left on, cut through with a heavy cleaver. Sealed in a frypan. Left to simmer for three hours, removed from broth briefy crisped up in the oven and glossed with venison stock and butter before serving. A kilogram.

Pork Crackle: Deeply cut into strips rubbed with salt and a little oil and crisped up in the oven. Chopped into small cubes and added to the cabbage.

Fennel: Suggested matching at time of wine purchase last year at Talijancich. As this dish was put into play, the aniseed flavour became a worry and with excess sweetness in the dish, would it taste of licorice? All other ingredients chosen with this in mind. Stalks removed and the bulb cut into small cubes. Two.

Cider: Substitute form of the ever-present matching of porks with apples. Dry dry dry to combat licorice effect, which it did. 500ml.

Venison Stock: No particular reason other than I’d made a reduction of it last weekend. Bold and meaty. 1 cup.

Onion:
Finey chopped and sauteed. One

Rosemary, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves
First two from the herb garden and are common pork accompaniaments. Peppercorns for bite, and bay leaves for bitterness. A few sprigs, a few sprigs, 12, and two.

Pears: Taken from a recipe from ¡Delicioso! The man at the shop assured me the Beurré Bosc were firm for cooking and none too sweet, whipping out a slightly menacing pen-knife to slice me off a bit. Peeled, rubbed with lemon juice to prevent browning and left to simmer for twenty minutes in their height in red wine and two cinnamon sticks. Left to sit. Heated through in with the pork for the last 30 minutes but taken out and kept warm in the oven, sadly giving it a dry faded exterior. Two chopped up into small cubes and added in with the dish. The other four, trimmed at the base and placed on the plate. Six.

Walnuts, Garlic, Thyme:
Also cribbed and modified from ¡Delicioso! Brown the walnuts in the oven. Mince with the garlic and thyme. Added 30 minutes before finishing adding a somewhat murky effect to the broth. One cup, three, and two teaspoons.

Savoy Cabbage: Driven by the past. Chopped finely yet never finely enough. Blanched and then cooked in a little of the broth with the pork crackle. One.

Talijancich 2003 Viognier: A local. Clear and crisp but with a sweetness that reached the sweetness that the dish never made on its own. 750ml.

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banana delight

Kate, who makes a very nice paella I must say, has tagged me as to who would play me. Trickier than it appears when I’m not even sure if I’m actually playing myself all the time. Michael Ironside seemed appealing. I think I’d be great with a robotic hand.

Also very tempting was Christopher Walken, he’s running for President you know. Personally I think this is an unnecessary ploy for my affections – Adam Sandler playing yet another idiotic yet loveable man-child would be a preferential candidate to the current idiotic yet dissembling and cowardly war criminal man-child. I’d love to have ludicrous hair yet retain dignity and be able to switch into a tap dance or a karaoke spot. Yet it wouldn’t be right, playing roles isn’t what he does best. What I’d love is Christopher Walken playing me in someone else’s movie so “I” could walk on say a couple of lines. People could go “wow! who the fuck was that” and then I could wander back to the kitchen and check my gravy.

So it’ll have to be Daniel Auteuil. Despite actors being some enhanced projection of self, he seems to be resolutely the everyman. Not handsome but interesting and prone to the absurdities of life, faced with a light and appealing touch. He also gets to throw knives But then again, I’ve seen barely a tenth of his films and I’d hate to pretend I’m an expert on his work, should my bluff be called.

So I’ll have to go with Owen Wilson for his good humoured faintly crap taoic ambivalence maybe and at the very least for his spectacular car crash in the Royal Tenenbaums. But then again the more anxious anal aspects of Ben Stiller certainly…

Ahh fuck it Michael Ironside will play me and if you want to caramelise bananas just slice them, coat them in a mix of raw sugar and cinnamon. Pop them in a very hot pan and turn when caramelised. You can release the sugar in the pan with some butter.

Oh tagging three people, if you would like someone to play you, let me know. First three.

Oi!; and speaking of Kate, she’s nicely remembered to remind us about Perth blogger awards at the Brass Monkey tonite! People will be there and speaking of whom, Crafty has just given me an idea. Oh wait java script polls don’t work in blogger posts – bugger! And it makes my text all small if I put it in the sidebar. Gah!

Two Words: Jackson’s and RODD.

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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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Look at it. What do you see? Do you see a sugary bun that yields like wettex to limp lettuce and grey beef that leaves a trace on your mouth like your toothbrush had been dipped in the fat trap? Would you get half way through it and wonder what you were thinking?

A dollar or two more than shit, and you’ll miss out on reconstituted salt and grease sticks and fizzy caffeinated sugar swill. We’ve lost a few great burger places in Perth through sanitised mediocrity. Well apostrophied Retro Betty’s is a blessing.

More good stuff that evening. You’ll not see a more violent, funny, tragic, thrilling, and beautiful film than Zatoichi. Kitano is a genius who loves his films and makes them how he wants with people he likes. I could go on and on about this but if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practice tap dancing in my geta.

Retro Betty’s, 127 Oxford Street, Leederville

Zatoichi is on at the Luna.

Evan Williams smokes goats.

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