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patriotic coriander and watermelon salad with fennel risotto stuffed baby squid

Australia Day. Why they chose a day that says a big fuck you to the people who’d just happened to be here at the time and had been for quite a while before that is a bit beyond me.

As is flag waving. I mean I think my wife is just the best but I don’t insist she wear a name tag to remind me what a great wife she is. Anyway that’s all neither here nor there because it’s also the day all the swearing in of new citizens happens and since my Quebecois brother in law was to become a citizen. We thought we’d do the right thing just in case he’d thought he’d signed up for some other country.

A big and tasty lunch was had and I brought the above along. I started with squid and worked my way back. Stuffing would be risotto and then I thought that just squid is a bit squiddy and then I saw the watermelon in the fridge and remembered Neal Jackson does a very nice fried squid with a watermelon salad. It uses coriander instead of the more traditional mint. The value of being exposed to ideas is that you can nick them later at an opportune moment of inspiration. Here’s a quick run through.

Baby squid tubes:
15. Already cleaned, too easy. Otherwise you’ll just have to clean them

Risotto:
One finely chopped white onion and a similar amount of similarly finely chopped white of the fennel bulb and four finely chopped garlic cloves. Saute in olive oil, colour the aborio rice (a cup and a half) and then continue with the slow process of stirring and adding liquid until al dente (won’t be explaining that today). I used a mix of about 80% white wine to 20% chicken stock. Can’t say I was overly impressed with the resulting flavour, as it ended up a bit vinegary like sushi rice. The effect was much more harmonious once inside the squid. About two thirds of the way through I started adding a small handful of parsley and fennel leaves as well as half a cup of sliced fennel stalks. Finished by adding pepper and stirring in a nice big dob of butter to keep it moist whilst cooking in the squid.

Another thought is I wasn’t exactly sure when to add the parsley and fennel leaves. I didn’t want to put them in at the beginning and have them end up as much but I also wanted to them to blend in a bit, hence the two thirds result. Curious to know how it might have worked out otherwise.

Watermelon and Coriander Salad:
A nice exercise in size and flavour. If the watermelon is cut into cubes a little smaller than a coriander leaf, the flavours balance out nicely. For the same reason the spanish onion shouldn’t be bigger than one of the smaller buttons on your remote control (no I’m not writing this on the sofa no). Mix together.

Cooking:
Stuff the squid tubes with the risotto and close each one up with a toothpick to prevent rice jizzing everywhere. Place them in an oven tray with a glass of white wine (I used cask Moselle), cover with foil, and cook in an oven at 200C for 40 minutes.

I gave the squid a bit of a sear on a griddle before putting them on the salad. The rice was nice and compact so I could have in fact sliced it up rounds which would have been nice. The fennel taste wasn’t strong at all and matched nicely with the squid. The watermelon salad is great and should be compulsory at summer barbecues.

And there we go, a suitably traditional and diverse dish that didn’t send acrumble our cultural mainsteam of the decent us with the culinary introduction of the them. As for my brother in law Jean [below], he is now an official Aussie: don’t think I’m happy about it, he is no doubt rooting my sister, watches ice hockey, and objectively has a much better motorbike than me. Anyway here’s to 218 years of hey how did you get in here.

Australia's newest citizen

Also:
恭喜發財!

and thanks to whoever voted me into second place as the 2006 Best West Australian Blog . I didn’t mention it as well I’m a bit iffy about comps, as Buddha says “a competition brings with it losers and with losers, unhappiness”. Pleased again to be nudged out by Robert Corr and congratulations to third place on preferences Tama Leaver – for those that aren’t familiar with preferential voting, it means he’s more popular but I’m less unpopular. If you missed out, tough! ahahaha, I mean I meant to say robbed!

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Another week. My fanciful blog life has become real and as you’re probably all thinking, it is like the uncontrollable materialisation of desires by a machine left by a long extinct ancient civilisation. So here we go:

Comestibles Kaiseki Workshop

Boiled daikon with egg tofu in dashi Peeling Daikon Grilled Salmon

I’ve always wondered what food workshops were like and I got to tag along to one as photographer for Spice mag on Monday. Good good good. Handy stuff from the kaiseki (Japanese gustation menu before gustation menus were around) chef at Yahachi. I never knew you should use the water from washing the rice when making dashi and salting fish like eggplant to draw out the fishy taste. We were treated to my favourite Japanese chef trick of shaving a long translucent strip of daikon with a knife. I’m sure if it had been the tearing a Minties wrapper competition he would have come in at 15 metres. I got to try all four courses of the various kaiseki menu items and enjoyed every last morsel. I’m inspired to tender daikon and crunchy lotus root. If that wasn’t enough, each course was matched with sake from the Australian brewery of Go-shu. Very pleasing to the tongue and better than any imported one I’ve tasted here. My favourite one, the Go-shu Nama, happened to be their cheapest. How very fortunate. Apparently it’s available at the Wembley Downs Shopping Centre (cue misty hazy memories) Liquor Store. We also got to try some Leaf (of Cottesloe and Mt Lawley) teas with a detailed explanation of each one reminding me of how ignorant I am in this area. Lapsang Souchong is now my smokey fave.

Yahachi’s site is here and Comestibles has a few more workshops this month. If you’re interested, I can email the details.

Perth Blog Awards

Kangaroo Steak Perth Blog Awards RODD

Wooh! Wednesday night at the Brass Monkey. After dining on a most tenderly cooked and deliciously seasoned with Szechuan pepper Kangaroo Fillet, I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of not one but two awards:

-Most Creative Blogger Currently Working in the Public Service
-Best Impersonation of a Giant Gnome

take that! Linus Pauling. And I was honoured to receive the RODD ancient knife of gnomic hammer and elfin tong. Legend has it, it will be used with all other trophies to serve at an afternoon tea, the likes of which can barely be imagined. Check out the others at the WA Blog Awards. More pics here.

Many thanks to Bret of Not The West for his organisations and as a shamefully late post for 3108 Blog Day, I would like to draw your attention to four new Perth blogs that have decided to enter into the fast paced and brutal world of food blogging:
-Cook & Eat
-An Electronic Restaurant by Masterchef “Noodle Cook”
-TeDAMENU Tuckertime Home
-chubby cat cooks
and because she’s a fave and spreads the good word with Omnivoribus Australis, Saffy of The Food Palate

Encore Night at Jackson’s Restaurant

service Vension chocolate ravioli

I was kindly let back into Jackson’s kitchen again. Much more settled this time. I wasn’t sweating when I got to the door. Advances were independent thinking when I prepped the veges in servings ready to go by myself without being asked; and multi-taskingin getting an order of veges out and deep fry 20 mini pappadums, albeit in laughable disarray. I also like to flatter myself that if I hadn’t noticed a small piece of styrofoam in the fennel salad I was preparing, disaster may have resulted. It was impressive to see how intense things can become with just a slight change in orders. Most of the service seemed a rattle of dishes, table numbers and controlled frenzy. You could feel the calm settle as the list orders dwindled towards the end of the night. On my modest front, I practiced slow patient cutting work with asparagus and learnt the benefits of working tidy and the efficacy of a few bowls and containers. I helped make the white bread rolls and the chocolate ravioli, as well as reprising the gremolata, and not burning my hands with the sauces I had to organise into flasks. Lots of counting things which turned out to be surprisingly tricky. There was a date and apple cake for afternoon tea and steak and frittata for dinner. A Clam Pho for a snack. I got to lick the frypan of the scrambled eggs with Western Australian truffles and try lamb cooked in a mind bogglingly complex Moroccan spice mix. Tiramisu to finish. If they’re wanting to be rid of me, they’re going the wrong way about it.

In other news:
Host-for-life Jeanne hosts EoMEoTE again, I clain (clain?); Clement continues and may have finished with the mammoth series IMBB 17 – Tea at A La Cuisine!; and money raised in the City to Surf went to Oxfam – many thanks all.

Why hello Anne, that’s a heck of a dress you’re wearing.

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girlsolive Ahhhh Bloggies. Not to be people.

Thanks for the nomination, kind words, support, and the votes(some go-getters as many as a dozen times!). Well done to Aus/NZ winner what’s new, pussycat and congratulations on her non-webby nuptuals. Consolations to fellow silver medal winners – locals and foodies. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a hot date with a cold bottle of sherry.

More: Have you hugged your noodlepie today?

And a thought: Tough call, but best blog in Aus/NZ in my opinion? Deltoid.

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abcradio

Gah! On the radio yesterday and given my state beforehand, I was amazed it worked out to more than 6 minutes of

meep…Anthony are you OK?…meep.

Room, other person, yellow foamy thing in front of me, and the invisible audience. Settled after a minute or two, garnering reviews from family members of “polite!”, “well spoken!”. Bernadette Young, the presenter, was very kind. Had it been Liam Bartlett , I may have run off in tears as he probed further into the feasibility of my bold plan to pipe sunshine from Madagascar. The interview was: Sting fades out; what’s a blog, what’s on your blog, lamingtons, what are the bloggies, good luck see you if you win, fade out to Neil Young (which isn’t bad, had the music been the other way round…).

Now there was probably a hundred other things I could have mentioned but given it’s a local radio program what I regretted most was not mentioning the local blogging commmunity. They’re all on the Perth Blogs Wiki and those involved in the marvellous initiative the Perth Blognite last year, and not forgetting my fellow WA nominees Karen Cheng and Nikita Kashner. This still leaves a wealth of talent sitting on the right column there, so go have a look. And if you haven’t tried this blog thing before, give it a go.

Now, on to more familiar ground. Since the ABC continues to get the squeeze, I thought it’d be nice to take some food along in case they were hungry. I chose another slight variation of this Chicken Liver Paté recipe.

mushroomchickenliverpate

Paté is good. It uses the bits that other folks leave behind (too good for cats), it’s usually just bought but home-made tastes so much better, and it’s easy. If you can use a frypan and make a smoothy, you can make pate. It’s also a good platform to test minor variations in flavours and there’s something special in the way the onions collapes into golden softness, the way the livers dissolve in the blender, and the release of freshly ground spices. Three parts-

Onions

One white onion, the whites of two spring onions, and one garlic clove all thinly sliced and fride until soft with 40gm of butter. This time I also added a chopped field mushroom for a different flavour in stead of green peppercorns. Add it all to the blender but don’t blend yet.

Liver

400gm of chicken livers, connective tissue cut off and marinated in brandy for an hour. Fry in another 40gm of butter, turining often until just pinkishly cooked in the middle. Add to the blender. Add a splash more brandy to the pan and deglaze the residue by scraping with a wooden spoon over heat. Add to the blender.

Spices

A scaled back quatre epicés of 2tsp parts peppercorns and 2tsp of cloves – ground and one tsp grated nutmeg. Put this in the blender and blend until smooth and refrigerate for at least two hours.

The taste is a little muted and those not enamoured with liver could, easily double the spices. Delicious with James Squire Pilsner, medicinally administered once safely home to sooth jangled post-interview nerves.

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Hey I’m in The Age. [blush, cringe]

newsstory

If you’ve come from there or the SMH or Stuff NZ, hello. Feel free to look around, the archives are down there on the right, perhaps October. What you should really do though, is have a good look at some of the other blogs listed here, they’re there because they’re good. Salut to fellow articlistas James and David and a heartfelt thanks to regular readers – the folks will be proud.

And from the mailbox… SMH Good Food guide is looking any recommendations of country restaurants and/or provedores with an emphasis on (and this is a very good thing) local produce in a non-”just passing through, my what an exceptionally well fried chiko roll” way. Pop your Country NSW tips/faves in comments for our commenty pleasure or you can mail James directly – jamesmayson[at]yahoo[dot]com.

ABC Radio! [runs out of shocked onomatopoeia] Looks like I’ll be on local (huzzah!) government radio station 720 ABC tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 2:45. Bikkuri!

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sbispf Go away for a week and find spiceblog’s on the Fifth Annual Weblog Awards for best Aus & NZ Blog. Welcome to those who swung by down here as a result, feel free to have a browse around. I’ll just be over here if you need any help. No! We’re all out of that, do you like octopus?

This is kind of surprising as I could point to at least 15 notable omissions in the shortlist. It’s all a bit like Swan Draft getting nominated for best beer in the world. I mean I’m pleased and all but you know, it’s just wrong when someone gets in just for their manly good looks and awesome thighs. Feel so damned guilty.

Ganbatte to fellow fooders Chocolate & Zucchini and noodlepie in their respective continental categories – go the gourmands! Good luck also to fellow West Australian Kitta – either way it’s the best thing for WA since the America’s Cup*.

Big thank you(s) for the nominations, there’s much fingerpointing as to who’s responsible, but yeah get out there and V O T E before the 31st of January 3rd of February and it’ll be hot bun cakes all round.

* Hey and go! Karen Cheng.

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I’ll have to be quick I’m in the middle of preparing a 6 dish Sino-Indonesian Pre Chrimbo table top BBQ with a special appearance from the kindly gifted from the Sedgwick family infusion ball for some out of town long time no see guests from Shidoney and Engerland up to my elbows in san choi bow and satay sticks and on top of this put in a full days honest labour from 6:30 this morning anyway happy seasons greetings whatever you’re doing well rounded christmas viewing is

here, here, and of course here oh yeah go vote for me for a post I did at the Food Blog Awards- Best Post and we can all go out and drink Mumms after I need enough people to balance out anybody else who has hinted for a vote plus the loss of those who are now not going to vote for me out of principal because of my vote whooring anyway take a look and vote for who you like best to the others but keep in mind two of my fellow nominees were involved in smuggling funds to the Contra in the mid eighties and another uses margarine, as I said up to you it’s a good thing because there’s good stuff to see, outta here and catch ya later mashed potato and remember, if you’re drinking, good on ya!

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