risotto

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venison pate with sourdough baguette and olives

mashed potato and hazelnut pesto with black pig prosciutto, asparagus and broad beans

duck, forest mushroom and chinese greens risotto

2002 Peacetree Cabernet Sauvignon in a Bulgarian crystal decanter

tart fine aux pommes

local cheeses with oatcakes and fennel crackers

laphroaig quarter cask with ice

Further notes:
Duck, being fatty, doesn’t really lend itself well to poaching but I thought I’d try and squeeze out a bit more stock for the risotto regardless. White wine, duck stock, peppercorns and thyme. Duck legs removed and then fried in leftover lard until crisp and then shredded. Using the soaking liquid for the mushrooms also provides additional stock.

Gabrielle Ferron’s risotto packet recommends a no-stir 15 minute technique and I have to agree to the point where I’m convinced that the whole stirring thing is an artifact of Italian patriachy.

Just the shiny green inner pods of the broadbeans. Blanched and then reheated in olive oil with some of the prosciutto. I ended up paying $10 a kilo for them because I was chatting with the farmer and he forgot to give me my change and I was too polite to ask.

nuzzling

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hello old friend


I bought this Polaroid 690 maybe 10 years at a second hand camera store in Shinjuku for about ¥20,000. It folds down neatly into small booklet that hangs nattily over the shoulder. Reopening in another thing and I’ve forgotten how a few times and have been left looking like a monkey with a puzzle box. Polaroids in a way we’re a kind of precursor to photography as social activity that flickr is now. You could take one along to a party and document it as you went along. One version of polaroid film allowed you to draw in coloured pencil on it. Other than that they had their own special colour cast, were more boho than slide film, and you could chastise people for shaking them to get them to develop more quickly. Like teddy, it got stuffed in the cupboard when my first digital camera come along and there it sat until Saffy talked me in to getting a cartridge of film from KMart. (You should also check out the amazing Viv collection.)

[Polaroid SLR 690 which everyone respects – I’ve got to have a General Research 690 Case]

Oh yeah the risotto, it’s magnificent. Make a risotto as per usual with finely chopped onion and clove of garlic base with chicken stock. Meanwhile, take a couple of italian sausages brown them and the add a finely sliced fennel bulb (reserve a tablespoon of leaves for the end) and allow to gently sautee with the sausages. When the sausages are cooked, slice them and then return the slices to the pan and sautee a little longer. Add to the risotto at the finish along with the fennel leaves and a little butter. Stir through well, add some parmesan, season and serve. Really very good, should have cracked a bottle of wine with it. No pics though.

UPDATE
Polaroid of my (phwoarr) brekky at Sayers in Leederville. Good it was. Surprisingly nice depth of field in the photo, no?

sayers breakfast

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duck egg risotto

There’s a food ritual in our house which goes like “(Me)What do you want for breakfast?”, “Anything”, “Nah go on what do you want?”, “Just some toast”, “Ah… just some toast?”, “Yes”, “Just toast?”, “Yes”, “Well was thinking of having poached eggs on rye bread with hollandaise.” There’s also my “would you like me to do the dishes routine” but that’s for another day.

lime hollandaise


So hollandaise it was, and it’s not that tricky, and I added the juice of half a lime and had with spinach which makes it Eggs Florentine and kinda healthy. Then off to Mr Snippy’s Barber Shop where he was kind enough to offer me a nice cold Coopers Red. Gorgeous day, smashing haircut, and a morning bevvy and I was in fine form for a bit of bicycle chain shopping “You know how to fit it” , “Yep”, “And you’ve got the right tools” “Ah yep”, “And one of these things (bit of loopy wire)”, “Yeah yeah of course”, “Make sure it’s not too tight”, “No No”. Of course these were complete lies but I find it hard to admit not being able to do stuff, especially manly mechanical stuff. And anyway I’m now the proud owner of a chainbreaker and a bit of loopy wire which I bought at another shop.

blue sheep cheese


On to the Ginger Pig in Angove Street to drop off a couple of mags. It’s a lovely little food shop and I came out with some Raw (unpasteurised) French Sheep’s Blue Cheese and some Morbier (which has a line of ash in the middle), two duck eggs (a nearby shop owner has ducks and they deliver them fresh), and a jar of local handmade OohLala Coconut and Lime Curd. I went to a cheese night at Herdies Fresh where Catherine Ferrari, whose family has been importing cheese for decades, talked us through some Italian, French and Irish Cheese so I was a bit evangelised on the two good cheeses and no fruit salad approach to cheeseboards. It’s also a complete pain in the arse to get cheese into Australia so show a bit of gratitude.

No point leaving it to sit it in the fridge so I took it over to a friend’s place for some drinking and spirited Play Station Guitar Hero playing (Iron Man/ More Than a Feeling/ Smoke on the Water/ Wanna be Sedated/ Take me Out – all with dab mastery of the maneuver dubbed “rooting the wombat”). I must have this game. The sheep cheese was strong like Black Sabbath yet delicate like Boston and creamy like erm Cream.

Dim Sum for brekky in Northbridge and a day of sloth. Toni went off to buy some folders which I took as “going to buy some folders but secretly going off to buy me Guitar Hero to surprise me and make me the happiest boy in the world” but she really was just going to buy folders and apparently the thought hadn’t even crossed her mind.

duck eggs


Now what to do with some leftover sheep’s cheese and duck eggs. Both were the stronger less popular siblings of the more popular cow’s cheese and chicken eggs so they made a good pair. I’d made some chicken stock the day before (nice one too – it’s always good when it turns easily to jelly in the fridge) so blue cheese risotto it was. Your standard risotto with chopped shallots and pancetta and some fried spring onion and the blue cheese and parmesan reggiano mixed in at the end.

The fired duck egg was on top was because I like Nasi Goreng and the yolk was kept runny and mixed in with the hot risotto. Lovely, a very fancy eggy rice.

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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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You’ve been here.

Stir, stir

You remember. You’re staying in a strange house and you have to cook dinner. Numbers go from 4, to 6, to 9 in an afternoon. You visualise the forequarter of lamb in your head. Enough? Risotto for entree, straightforward enough – there’s chorizo in the fridge. The one guest you haven’t met is the chief wine-maker at Vasse Felix. Now the forequarter, is it going to be able to be made into a rack. Chorizo and, and, and, mushrooms should be a safe enough bet. Vegetables with the main. The usual jus should do the trick – shouldn’t have left the bag of dried forest mushrooms back in Perth. Shallots would be nice in the risotto, forget and just get onions.

Stir, stir

Get back with a few hours before dinner. Lamb has defrosted, simple pestled marinade of nuovo olive oil, garlic and rosemary, crushed together. Open an MB. Try to tidy up the forequarter but bone structure unfamiliar. A simple clean up with one of the shanks taken off, remember to keep the offcuts and put them in the bottom of the roasting tray for a better gravy. Rub the marinade over and decide to add some olive tapenade. Cover and leave. Chop up vegetables, thinking small cubes, end up with the usual chunks

Stir, stir

Look for a saucepan for risotto. Find a seventies jobbie that looked ceramic but probably isn’t and has a solitary millimetre of metal all round. Have a sneaky peak in a Jamie Oliver cookbook to make sure you know what you are doing. Sautee the field mushrooms with butter. Crisp up the slices of chorizo with olive oil. Nicely done, set aside. Add the chopped up onion and garlic, sautee until soft in olive oil, add a bag and a half of risotto, stirring until it colours. Ask if anybody wants a glass of white (A Kalgoorlie Childcare Centre Fundraising Chardonnay I think), then chuck a couple in with the rice and stir. Open up the packs of chicken stock, spill half of one over the bench. Heat up in another pot. Open another MB. Go back to veges, dodge Mum making noodles, return to risotto. Keep stirring until wine is evaporated.

Stir, stir

Add the stock and return to vege prepping. Look for a rack ,there is none but settle for propping on veges. Go back to risotto. Rice has stuck ever so slightly, you work it loose with more stock and realise that if as much as one grain of rice sticks and burns, the dish is useless and it’s fish and chips for dinner. Toddler one discovers unstoppably noisy fire engine. Microwave vegetables. Another ladle of stock, more stirring, saucepan is filling in volume. About 30 minutes until ready if I take it easy. Toddler two eyes off my bright green portable stereo with destructive fascination. Return still firm vegetables to microwave. Phone rings, guests will be half an hour late. Turn heat down to murmur. Get given a Slovakian Nude Scratchy Beer. Add another ladleful and keep stirring. Turn away to put roast in the oven and veges underneath.

Stir, stir

Stock running low. Look at beef stockcubes, you decide against it and go for subtle over harsh, dilute stock with water. Nick another glass of wine. Look down to see how the oven is going and it’s slow. Last of the guests arrive. Think you can politely stretch the risotto out for another 15 minutes. Your arm throbs. Check the roast, it’s slow. Turn up head. Field a question about which wine to serve, you shrug shoulders and send out an order for plate and grated pecorino. Down to the last few drops of stock. Give the roast and the veges a quick basting. Look up people still sitting there, gesture to eat. Go back to basting, take a guess on time and back the oven off. Join the table and scoff down the risotto, not bad, someone says creamy, that’s good enough…

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