picnic

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chicken and mushroom quiche


Today is International Women’s Day. Spiceblog is well regarded as a leader in gender issues on the internet in Australia so I shouldn’t let this slip by. As is often said, where the mirror cannot be found, the dish will do. Last Friday I went to the outdoor movies and I made a quiche. For those around at the time, the quiche was a minor celebrity in the crisis of manhood in the early 80s – second only to the manbag. It managed to inspire a book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” with the punchline being “they eat ham and egg pie”. Hoohoo indeed! I’m not sure where this animosity came from, I mean it’s not as if half our language isn’t French already or that manliness is derived from an earthy literalness that would have us saying that’s not a carburettor, it’s a device to regulate the flow of fuel and air into the cylinder. Possibly it was a kind of no-nonsense response that played into a myth of the fall. The fall being the defeat in 1066 by the Normans which destroyed the priveleged position of good honest monosyllables and all things Arthury or something. So ingrained in me was this that there was a moment of hope that since I didn’t have a quiche tin and had to use a cake tin, the lack of scalloped edge and the relative heightiness meant that it would be a pie. It wasn’t

Get yourself some short-crust pastry, butter a tin, cut a circle of pastry out, place it in the bottom. Cut some strips out to go around the edge. Seal up any gaps and blind bake for 10 minutes at 220C. If you haven’t done this before, it’s just to get it nice and crusty. Place some dried beans on the pastry to stop it puffing up. I disn’t have any beans so I used some ceramic hashioki. Just put a sheet of baking paper under them.

Mix was one chicken breast which I left to marinate for an hour in Ras al Hanout spices. Pan cooked and shredded. About a cup of chopped field mushrooms and then a third as much chopped spring onions and a third as much of that in chopped scallions all gently cooked in butter. Mix together with the chicken and a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Four whole eggs, half as much cream, and half again of cheddar I had. OK alright there’s maths here but are you going to have the same amount of spring onions as mushrooms? No. Half as much mushrooms as chicken maybe. I wanted mix with eggy bits just holding it together and I got it. How much cheese do you want? Make a decision. Salt and pepper. Cook at 180C until you dip a knife in it and it comes out clean and then take it out and cool it on a rack. You can then pop it back in the tin for easy transportation to said French film.

Film of which was French film The Story of My Life – dealing with thirthysomething doubt regarding artistry versus commerce versus success versus failure versus risk versus identity versus vulagarity versus the woman you have versus the woman you want all mixed together in a second act snarl up with comedic result and character switchovers.

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Clement of A La Cuisine! went and made me all rambly nostalgic and in the process reminded me of one of my Uni era grand food projects, the muffuletta. A kind of delicatessen terrine, cached in a loaf of bread. The special occasion was an outdoor concert in King’s Park with Ben Folds and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Dining with Robbie and Veronique, and Robert and Manas.

muffuletta

It’s actually not that hard at all, most of it is brought. For heavy duty deli shoppping I usually go to the Contintal Supermarket on the corner of Fitzgerald and Roe. The only real kitchen work is the roasted red capsicums (peppers) and the fried eggplant. I roasted the capsicums over the burner until the skin bubbled, then picked the skin off, persuading a few recalcitrant bits with a paring knife. I think this can also be done by placing them in a paper bag in the oven, but I’ve forgotten how exactly. The eggplant was sliced to a 4mm thinckness and cooked in a pan with EVOO.

Next was the ricotta mix. A cup of ricotta with a handful of finely chopped basil, and an egg yolk and mixed. The dressing was a 1/4 cup of EVOO, 2tbs capers and a tbs of oregano.

Get a nice round loaf of bread, slice the top off, and hollow it out. The ricotta mix gets spread aound the bottom and the sides. Then it’s just a matter of stacking food up to the top. For this one is used – prosciutto, fried eggplant, roasted capsicum, coppa, rocket, green pesto, and stuffed olives with the dressing poured over. The lid is put back on, wrapped in foil and refrigerated for 8 hours.

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As for the concert. Situated on freshly cut lawns in a natural ampitheatre, surrounded by gums trees, with the stage in front of a small lake; it would have been good even if Frente had been playing. Ben Folds is a supreme human being. Talented, funny, humane, and just makes fantastic songs.

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Paw-paw marinated kebabs

Reid over at his site ‘Ono Kine Grindz has had more hot dinners than ahmm. Put it this way, if Hawaii were an atom and restarants were protons then it’s be ooh let’s say ununbium. Anyway, he got me thinking with a guava and pork marinade and, being a member of the reality based community, I thought I’d shore up the experimental method.

Instead of guava, I found paw paw and that’s a natural tenderiser. Just the thing to go with rump steak kebabs. Now when it comes to marinades you’ve got your olive oil and lemon ones; yoghurt; soy based; satay; and then coconut milk ones. Coconut it was and then it was a small tin of coconut cream with a cup of minced paw paw. A tbs of minced ginger for bite and one chopped red chilli for even further bite. Half a cup of shredded coconut for coating texture. All this was mixed in with a near kilo of rump steak – cubed. Left for 6 hours in the fridge.

Skewered and then cooked on a stove top skillet. Still seemed a bit pina coladery but turned it to advantage with an added angle of barcardi rum and flambéd (keep a lid handy in case things get our of hand) to finish. Left to chill in the fridge for an evening picnic.

What an evening. In the Quarry Ampitheatre, carved out limestone, just down the road. The night was clear, amongst the trees, with alluringly tasteful dancing demontrations of a latin nature. I could have well saved myself the skillet and seared them on the pearl underpants of a carnival dancer and grilled them on the exposed thigh of a tango dancer.

The kebabs were ok, tender but lacking a little something – maybe a sauce, but we have to try, and learn.

On topic: Science in the Kitchen. A La Cuisine! Clement does the post I should have done if I’d just stop messing about.

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