Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hey Look Guys -It's Me- And Creme Fraiche Potatoes

I have been a very slack blogger over here at Zarathust. And look at all the remarkable work my fellow bloggers have been doing.

God I love Chocolate Crackles. There is a poll over at La Nads place in relation to Cheese vs Chocolate going down and I urge all you chocolate lovers (i.e Good People) to go over there and vote for choc. After all, how could we have chocolate crackles without it?

So I am feeling foodie inspired by the return of my French friends, who sauntered in on Sunday with Strawberry Liqueur and within instants my fridge was once again full of 7 different kinds of brie and ham, and you couldn't move in my kitchen without risking serious injury by a baguette.

The petite femme half of the duo is Julie, who despite her tranquil qua gorgeousness has been rumoured to run with the toughest gang in Paris and can cook up a storm to stop a riot.

She does this thing with potatoes which truly makes my heart stop, and last night to celebrate her return I made damn sure she made it for me.

Julie's Potatoes avec Creme Fraiche Sauce

You can add this to most styles of potatoes. The best is with barbecued roasted potatoes wrapped in foil, but last night we boiled some first, then chucked them under the grill until they were crispy and golden brown on the outside.

Buy some good Creme Fraiche. It can be hard to find in Australia, but we have found this new one available by those people that do dips in the supermarket, I forget their name, but you can buy it in good supermarkets: UPDATE: The name of the brand is Wattle Valley. These Frenchies seem to adore it, and praise it over the one by King Island. Note: Sour Cream won't do. It has to be Creme Fraiche. We're talking something to do with milk fat percentages here, or summin'. It's important, taste wise.


Put the Creme Fraiche in a bowl.

Get some shallots, a couple will do. Chop finely. Add to bowl.

Take a sip of your Kir Royale (white wine or champagne with a splash of creme de cassis or in this case, strawberry liqueur).

Get some chives. Find some scissors.

Chop the chives into the bowl.

Add salt and pepper.


When you get your potatoes, cut them open and mash 'em up a bit with your fork. Add the Creme Fraiche Sauce, and drool.

Eat and be happy. We had ours with chicken fried in a wok with onion, red capsicum and herbs. It was amazing.

It's also amazing how many potatoes one can eat this way.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Sixteen Choc Cheesecake

½ cup milk chocolate biscuit crumbs (1)
½ cup dark chocolate biscuit crumbs (2)
50g melted butter
2 tablespoons orange chocolate flecks (3)
Generous pinch of ground cinnamon

Hard layer:
50g melted dark chocolate (4)

2 packs cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
400g sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs

For main:
200g melted dark chocolate (50-70%) (5)

Cookie Dough:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup castor sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ cup plain flour
50g melted semi-sweet chocolate (6)
¼ cup chopped milk chocolate (7)
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate (80%) (8)
¼ cup chopped white chocolate (9)

White chocolate swirl:
50g melted white chocolate (10)

Dark Chocolate swirl:
50g melted dark chocolate (70-80%) (11)


25g melted dark choc (70-80%) (12)
Splash chocolate liqueur (13)

Milk and white chocolate lace:
Melted white chocolate (14)
Melted milk chocolate (15)

Dark chocolate curls:
Dark chocolate (60-70%) (16)


1. Combine base ingredients, press firmly into pan.

2. Pour melted dark chocolate on top and refrigerate until layer is hard.

3. Cookie dough: Cream the butter with the two sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in water, flour, melted chocolate, chocolate pieces, and mix until combined. Set aside.

4. Main mixture: Beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth at medium speed. Add the condensed milk, vanilla and eggs (one at a time) and beat thoroughly at low speed. Reserve some mixture for the swirls.

5. Add chocolate to mixture and continue beating until mixed well.

6. Pour a little chocolate cheesecake mixture in the tin. Add cookie dough in small pieces. Add rest of cheesecake mixture.

7. Halve leftover cheesecake mixture and make swirls with melted milk and dark chocolate. Pour these into the mixture.

8. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour in a 180 degree preheated oven.

9. Turn off oven and rest cheesecake for 1 hour.

10. Refrigerate cheesecake for 3-4 hours.

11. To make glaze, mix together melted chocolate with chocolate liqueur and brush on.

12. Add chocolate curls and chocolate lattice. Chocolate lattice is made by melting chocolate, adding to piping bag and spreading a thin lattice pattern on a piece of baking paper which is on top of a baking tray that has been in the fridge.

13. Refrigerate for 30 mins.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Crizizzle ma Nizzle

The second the Copha comes out, they all want to know one thing. When are the chocolate crackles coming? Not when is the coconut ice coming, or when is the whatever else you make with a solid block of coconut oil coming, they all want the chocolate crackles. I don't know why those of us without kids, or fetes to attend, don't make chocolate crackles more often. They get enough of a nostalgic reaction from the crowd, and there's just something about the combination of melted vegetable fat, icing sugar and dessicated coconut melting onto your hands that just makes you feel safe, happy, and like you want to smear it on the cat.

Do I even need to give you a recipe? Do I? It's on the Rice Bubble's box for - oh, fine. 4 cups Rice Bubbles, 1 1/2 of icing sugar, 1 of coconut, a block 'o Copha, and three tablespoons of cocoa. Stir together the dry stuff, melt the Copha to make the wet, and fork the lot together before spilling it into cupcake papers and fridging 'til solid.

Makes far too many. You won't even be able to give them away.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Date Slice of Determination

Oh what a night. The moon is full, the air is blood heat and there's a light breeze. You can positively feel the shenanigans in the air, you can, and I'm at my desk feeling every ounce of energy drain away as I face yet another chapter revision. Just the night to give Kickpleat's restorative oat and nut squares.

I made a few alterations, of course, and the version I present to you below is not the version I used. I think my pan was a couple of centimetres bigger than the one she used, and so there were, ahem, gaps in the baked slice (and I am calling it a slice, because I'm Australian and that's what we do). I will definitely make it again in future using the below quantities. I didn't have any rum to hand, so I threw in the cardamom-nutmeg-ginger-cinnamon combination that goes into all my bakeables. Please note the apple sauce instead of oil or butter. Please also note that you'll have to fridge these after they're done as low fat things don't keep as well as their high fat counterparts.

Beat 2 eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Beat in 1/2 cup of apple sauce, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar until pale. Roughly fork in 1/2 cup self raising flour until just combined. Then fold in 1/2 teaspoon each of cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. To this you will add a 100g of walnuts (I figured this equals 1 cup) that you broke up a bit while still in the packet, a cup of rolled oats, and two cups of finely chopped, pitted dates.

Tip into a lightly greased 23cm square pan and bake in a preheated 180 degree oven for around 30 minutes 'til the edges are darkened and the centre is firm. Cool in the pan, slice, make a cup of coffee and get back to work.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Salmon Wrapped in Prosciutto

No pictures. Just imaginate, man.

Take some salmon fillets and take all of their bones out. Feel them. Make hand love to them. Search their essence for bones. Remove them.

Dry this baby salmons, wrap the pieces in prosciutto, sprinkle with a mixture of finely chooped herbs (mint, oregano, basil, parsley, etc) and some pepper, squeeze some lemon on top and put in a very hot oven for roughly 10 mins until the prosciutto goes crispy.

Top this with some yoghurt (plain, seasoned slightly with salt and pepper).

Get drunk on champagne that is served with it, blog the recipe, and you're done.

Monday, July 31, 2006

On Lentils, and the deliciousness of said legume

I cook a lot of lentils because I am a vegetarian cliche and I like them. Lentils are awesome. Some people think you need to soak them. You don't. You cook them just like pasta, 'cept for a bit longer, and they're tasty and you can add other tasty things to them, and what do you end up with? That's right, a taste sensation.

Anyhoozle, I had a few gustatorial delights swirling around my head for a while. 'Gee,' I thought to myself, 'I sure do feel like doing something with tahini. And garlic. And lemon! Because those things go together like Joan Collins and bitchslaps, Kevin Federline and pot.' And then I thought. 'Gee, I sure do feel like taking that punnet of mini roma tomatoes, alongside the mini cos and mini red lettuce and all the other mini vegetables I buy out of some misplaced maternal urge, and roasting them but good.' And then I thought 'Hey, due to a curious combination of security pass shenanigans and awkward hours, I can't leave the office when I'm at work, and I sure do get hungry sitting at my desk. Wouldn't it be nice to have something garlicky, tahini-ish, tomatoey and lentilly to nibble at while I'm sitting there, all efficient and good at my job and such?'

So I made myself some food. It goes a little something like this.

I took:
  • About a dozen mini roma tomatoes (if you wanted to replicate this, AND I STRONGY SUGGEST YOU DO, you could use cherry or something else little).
  • Two red capsicums
  • Around a cup of dried brown lentils
  • Two cloves of garlic. Actually, it was one fat clove and two of the skinny little pissy cloves from the middle of the head but, fmeh.
  • A fat lemon.
  • Around three tablespoons of tahini.

To start with I rinsed and picked over the lentils to make sure there weren't any little bits of non-lentil stuff floating around. There weren't, so I chucked them into a pan, covered generously with cold water and added a couple of bay leaves for good measure. I brought that to the boil and simmered for around half an hour until the lentils were cooked but still had a bit of bite to them. Meanwhile, I halved the tomatoes and chucked them onto a baking sheet with the merest drizzle of extra virgin and a good deal of cracked black pepper. I turned all the tomatoes to coat. Also, I made sure they were all cut side down to begin with. These were thrown into an oven preheated to 200 deg c, for how long, I don't know. I just kept checkin' them until they looked roasty, like this -

When they looked like that I turned them all cut side up and gave them even MORE roasting, until they were concentrated little nuggets of deliciousness. In the midst of all that I'd halved and seeded the capsicums and threw them under a hot grill for some roasting. Now, do I really need to explain how to roast and skin a capsicum? It feels rather patronising if I try. I can tell you, the attentive reader, how I do it. I grill those capsicum halves until they are good and blackened. Not just a little blackened, but blackened. I want to see some carbon on those pretty red skins, mostly so they're properly cooked and sweet and delicious. Then I take out the hot, peeling halves and throw them into a plastic bag for a few minutes to loosen the skins. After they've cooled a bit I take the warm, fleshy tongues of capsicum over to the sink and rub the skin off under running water, mostly because, while the warmness and fleshiness and deliciousness of roasted capsicum does make me come over all Nigella, capsicum skin clings like a little bitch.

Somewhere between the peeling of the capsicums, the turning of the tomatoes, and the draining and rinsing of the lentils I made the tahini sauce. To start I crushed and very, very finely chopped the garlic, which I then ground to a paste using salt. To do that I just generously sprinkled the garlic with salt and squashed it with the flat of the blade of a kitchen knife. Actually, it's more a wiping motion. You wipe the garlic out into a sheet of garlicky goodness on the chopping board, slide the blade under the sheet of garlic, fold it back into a pile, lather, rinse, repeat. It's quite hypnotic, really. This was put into a big 'ole bowl with the tahini, and then I grated the rind of half the lemon into it, and squeezed in the lemon juice. Fork briskly and you'll have a nutty, lemony, garlicky, pasty sauce.

At this point I rather vigorously forked in the lentils. At first it'll look like there's not enough sauce, but keep going, they'll all get coated. In go the roasted tomatoes and capsicum sliced into strips. And, let me tell you something, I got some jealous looks in the office with my gustatorial genius.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pastry Muffin Pie Things. Err….

Once upon a time my friends and I had an Iron Chef competition. Actually, we had three. On the third occasion we decided it would be a ONE DISH WONDER competition. Each person would bring one dish and the best would win. My dish—puff pastry in a muffin tin filled with shit like feta, basil, caramelised onions, balsamic, toasted pine nuts, oven-roasted tomatoes—ended up winning. Because of it, I had always liked that recipe and have used it many times since.

Today I saw some stuff in the fridge that needed to be used before it went to waste: bbq chook, leek, cream, anchovy butter. Why not make some pastry things, Jobe? You fucking genius. God I love you. Let us pleasure ourselves then we will cook. Oh yes. But we must wash our hands too. Oh course! But first pleasure. Yes.

So what you do is cut some puff pastry into circles that are a bit bigger than a muffin tin. Flour the muffin tin so the pastry won't stick then place the circles inside. Into the naked pastry shells you must add the following:

For the chicken and leek pastry:
- 1/2-3/4 of the white meat of a bbq chicken, shredded or cut into small pieces and about twice that amount of shredded leek. I had this massive leek and used about half of it, but I think it was a freak of nature.
- Cook this in a pan with the anchovy butter until the leek is done. Then add a splash of cream to bind. This will give you enough filling for about 15 things.

For the revolutionary stuffing pastry:
- Take a bit of the stuffing from the chicken and top it with a bit of pesto and shredded tasty cheese.

Cook these in an oven (or in an ambush, if you have one) until the pastry has reached its desired golden brown state. Let cool for a minute then run a knife between the pastry and tin to separate the tasty treats.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Threesome

After my success a few weeks back at the auction of the flesh, I was called in again to save some retarded kids or some shit. The auction was going well until the French lady from last time comes in and makes a massive bid for me. I was shocked! But it got crazier. This other lady who looks like the French lady appeared out of nowhere and totally outbid her!

I am then given to her and I find out that she is the younger, hotter, richer, Frencher, nicer-smelling sister of the French lady! She took me back to her place (same place as last time) and I saw the other sister sitting in the kitchen. The young sister said she had heard about what I did last week and wanted to give me a go. But this time would be different, she said. “Tonight we will be having a threesome. That’s right, a trio of French dishes. Trio is French for trio.

“Your beef carbonade was impressive last time, but now you will make boeuf bourguignon. Add about a kilo of well marbled beef (ie (<--French for ‘eg’) rump) that has been cubed and floured with about 100-150 grams of bacon into a large pot. Cook for a few minutes then add in 2 chopped onions and a clove or two of crushed garlic. Cook until the meat is browned. Then add a big slug of red wine (about 2-3 cups) and a cup and a bit of beef stock. Also add a bouquet garni that contains thyme or rosemary or chervil or some such. Reduce this to a simmer, cover and leave it for over an hour and a half. Then add some baby carrots and a tablespoon of tomato paste, return the cover and cook until the carrots are done (another 30-60 mins).

“Next, my little anglo kitten, you will prepare me a bouchee. What you do is cut a large circle of puff pastry that is about 10 cm in diameter. Then cut another 10 cm circle of pastry, but cut a 7 cm circle out of the middle of it, so you are left with a pastry ring. Brush some beaten egg around the area of the large circle where the ring will go then add the ring. Put this in the fridge for a while to set. Then you must put it in an oven preheated to 200 until it is golden brown. Remove this and cut the pastry that is in-between the ring so you have a sort of pie case. Keep the bit of pastry as a lid. For the filling just sauté leek, carrot, celery and half a clove of crushed garlic that has been sliced VERY thinly with some butter until it is soft. Add a little cream and a squeeze of lemon juice. Put this in the bouchee case and put the lid on.

“The threesome will then be complete with a pair of allumettes. Take a sheet of puff pastry and slice it in half. Then divide each half into 4 rectangles. Spread half of them with anchovy butter (made with about 200g of butter, 50g of anchovies and a squeeze of lemon) and top with an anchovy or two. For the other half I will leave it up to you.”

Awesome, I though. The older sister gave me no flexibility. I decided to top the other allumettes with smoked salmon, leek, camembert, toasted pine nuts and a sprinkling of lemon thyme.

“Not bad. Not French though. Silly boy. Cook that in the oven until the pastry is golden brown”

So I made all this shit for her then left. I’m tired. I hope it tasted good though.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Recipe With Potatoes, But No Pictures (How Arty of Me)

So I arrived to the blog the other day and notice, to my surprise, that Rach has redone the layout. She’s very talented and creative, our Rach. Anyway, to show my appreciation I decided that I would make her some nice food because she has earned it, and she has also seemed a bit down lately.

Rach fact: Rach is a vegetarian.

I decided to freestyle a dish for her (out of love).

I assembled the following:
- Medium block of firm tofu, cut into inch-sized cubes
- 1 large potato, cut into sizes similar to tofu
- Can of coconut milk
- Can of chopped tomatoes (fresh would be fine. I didn’t have any good enough for Rach)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 100g of cashews (unsalted)
- 1 T of sugar
- 1 t of paprika
- 1 pinch of curry powder
- 1 T of dried basil (didn’t have fresh. Bite me)
- 2 of the big, milder, red chillies. Deseeded and chopped.
- Half a medium onion
- Splash of soy sauce

I put the garlic, cashews, sugar, chilli and onion in my blender (of love). This was blended to a fairly coarse paste. Rach likes her curries with a bit of crunch in them.

This was then put into a pan on a medium heat and fried with a little oil. Paprika, curry powder and sugar is then added, stirred and then the tofu and potato is added. This is cooked for a bit until the tofu and potato pick up a little colour. But don’t burn the paste. I swear to God! Turn it down if it’s getting too hot.

Then we can add the tomato and coconut milk and a splash of soy, stir, then add the basil. You are now ready to reduce the heat to a bit of a simmer before leaving it until the potatoes are cooked.

So I took this round to Rach but she wasn’t in so I ate it myself. It was good for a freestyled recipe of appreciation.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Orange Thing - now with boobs!

I think the term 'comfort food' is a bit redundant because, ultimately, all food is redundant. Yes, even sprouts, says the girl who once made an emergency run to the supermarket for a chlorophyll fix. However, this mix of honey, orange things, chickpeas and spices is possibly one of the most comforting things I've ever tasted. I made it for one of my SuperLadyFriends the other night when we were in need of a bit of tea and sympathy.

Here is what I made it with. Do try it next time you're feeling fragile.
  • A parsnip. I'm quite the parsnip advocate. Cooked well they're sweet and delicious, and you really must toss one into this for full effect.
  • A smallish sweet potato.
  • A quarter of a butternut pumpkin, aka one half, uhm, halved.
  • A red onion, sliced.
  • A tin of chick peas
  • Around 350ml vege stock
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ginger and cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp balsamic
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp dried or fresh rosemary

De-skin and chop your veges, slicing the red onion. You'll want them in smallish pieces so they will break down in the pan quickly to feed your aching heart. Toss them all in to a big saucepan, or frypan with lid, with some olive oil and turn over a high heat 'til they're softened at the edges. Throw in the spices and turn 'til the spices combine with the oil. Add the stock then simmer, covered, for around 20 minutes.

When the 20 minutes are up and everything's soft throw in the drained tin of chickpeas, honey, vinegar and rosemary. Bring it to a good strong rolling boil until the liquid is reduced and syrupy.

I know this wasn't the best food writing ever, but I got it all out in the end and I think we all learned something. The avocado was SuperLadyFriend's brainwave, and what a brainwave it was. Then again, is there ever an inappropriate time for avocado?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Story I Call… The Winning Bid (featuring Beer)

So I’m a pretty handsome dude. Most girls who meet me think I’m one hell of a catch (no need to swear). This weekend I was persuaded to go in an auction OF THE FLESH to help raise money for some cause I don’t recall. To cut a long story short I went for a large sum of money and I cured a kid of diseases because of it.

Anyway, turns out the winning bidder was the gorgeous French woman. She was pretty perfect. Smart, funny, beautiful, refined, the works! The prize meant that I would be hers for an entire night (ooo suggestive). So I went to her house yesterday and she said there was only one thing she wanted. And she wanted me to do it for her alllllll night.

Cook a French dish for her. She would bark orders at me and I would follow them. TO THE LETTER. She warned me that this would take a long time to cook.

It began by slicing 4 pieces of bacon, 4 medium-large onions and about 750g of good beef (I think it was chuck or rump or some such). She ordered me to cook the bacon in the pan until the fat and rendered off and the bacon was cooked, making certain not to let it get too brown. After transferring the bacon to a plate with some paper to cut the grease, I then brown the pieces of beef which had been cut into smallish squares AKA chunks, a few at a time, until all done. Making sure not to have the heat too high so the beef doesn't get a crust. The beef was transferred to another plate and in the pan (with the heat now turned down to medium) went onions and a bit of butter since the pan was getting a bit dry. I also added a clove of garlic which had been crushed. The onions were cooked for approx 25 mins until they were caramelised but not brown and then removed.

The pan was still a little dry so more butter was added. Into this went about 1 tablespoon of flour. This was mixed together at a low heat to make a bit of a roux. Make sure the flour is perfectly dissolved into the roux before adding 1 cup of beef stock and 2 cups of beer. I had a bottle of Chimay Grande Reserve or some shit and found that good. Two caveats: 1) the flour will not dissolve once the stock and beer has been added so make sure the mixture is silky before adding, 2) the flavour of the beer is accentuated during cooking so do NOT use a bitter beer. Use a good beer with a bit of body.

She then told me to put this into a casserole dish. The oven had been preheated at about 150 degrees. Put in the beef, season it, add in the onion, then the bacon, then about 3 bay leaves. NOW. Add the beer/stock/roux mixture from the pan into this so it JUST covers the contents. If it’s a bit low then you can top it up with some more beer or stock.

Now. Cover this and put it in your oven for about 2.5 hours. After this time (or until the sauce is a desired thickness) she said to take it out, serve it on top of some boiled or mashed potatoes and top with carrots. I got lazy and just put potato and carrots on top.

After she ate it we had sex. I didn’t get to taste any.


Friday, July 14, 2006

The black bean soup of nostalgia

I've been reminiscing about this soup I used to order at the place that fed me most days in the 'States. As my nanna would say, it was black as the ace of spades and thick and satisfying, and they served it with lime wedges and that coriander/red onion/tomato mix you could buy in tubs from the supermarket. It was good and it was heartening and I've been missing it a great deal lately, so I decided to have a crack at it.

Here is what I used all up. I've heard it help[s if you can see a neat bullet point list at the beginning of the recipe so you know what you're in for.
  • 225g dried black beans. I bought mine from one of those bean and nut stalls at the Vic Markets, which I live very, very nearby so it wasn't no hassle or nothin. I imagine it might be more of a hassle if you're not so close to that big, stinky, rather seedy mass of food and good things.
  • A bay leaf
  • Three cloves
  • A generous amount of vege stock
  • A small brown onion, chopped
  • Four (count 'em) four cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 3 tsp(s?) fresh thyme, or one dried if you hadn't made minestrone the week before
  • Worcestershire sauce, quite a large amount (maybe 2, 3 tsp?)
  • Tabasco

What they don't tell you about black beans is they're an absolute bitch to cook. I started by soaking them overnight in a generous amount of water. I then drained them, whacked them in a pot with the bay leaf, and covered them with cold water. I then brought them to a good, honest boil, let them boil for about 2 minutes, then removed the pan from the heat, covered it and let it stand for an hour, hour and a half (the latter would be better).

After that I drained and rinsed the beans and turned the garlic and onion in the cleaned out pan with a hit of the 'ole olive oil 'til they were, well, cooked. I'm certain you've done it before, I don't need to tell you. From there I threw in the thyme, cloves and beans, added the stock (seriously, more than you think you'll need - probably around a litre, litre and a half at the beginning), Worcestershire and Tabasco, and a generous amount of fresh pepper. I brought it to the boil again, reduced the heat to a decent simmer, half covered it and walked away for two hours. Actually, I lie. I came back a few times and had a stir, maybe added a little more liquid if it was necessary. Check the beans by mashing one against the side of the pan with the spoon; if it's still chalky in the middle it's not done.

After the beans became mashable I did just that. I had a good crack at it with the potato masher 'till most of the beans were crushed. You should still have a goodly amount of liquid in the pan at this stage, so stir up the crushed beans, take the top off, reduce the heat right down and let it bubble for about 15-20 more minutes 'til it's thickened.

Now for the important bit. The soup at this stage is tasty, but you can't serve it all naked. It must be dressed. For this you'll need
  • A couple of big handfuls of fresh coriander
  • One big 'ole vine ripened tomato
  • A red onion
  • Lime wedges or, failing that, lemon juice

If I had a food processor I'd chunk the onion and tomato and whizz it with the coriander, but I don't so I chopped them all and forked them together. I then spooned the coriander/onion/tomato over the soup and hit it with lemon juice, an unmissable step.

All in all pretty damned tasty, and rather impressive looking, too.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

There'll be hot fruit

I think I'm developing an obsession with making fruit mushy. I posted my version of stewed fruit earlier, which I've since made again and am currently eating with a big bowl of porridge (mmm, nannalicious), and last night, the night when the SuperLadyFriends and I typically make a little sumthin sumthin to be schlorfed down in front of the OC, all I wanted was a crumble. A rhubarb crumble, no less, all tart and pink. Okay, I partly wanted to try my hand at taking some good, dirty food porn pictures. Take a look a this one.

Oh, yeah, that's the money shot.*

Crumble is very, very easy to make. You start by preheating your oven to 200 deg c. Then you make your crumble mix. The basic crumble mix is:
  • 125g melted butter (aka half a stick of Western Star - it really does have to be butter, too, not marg or anything else)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup plain flour

But, of course, you can gussy it up a bit, as I did, by adding pretty much anything that seems appropriate. In this case I added a good handful of pecans, chopped and toasted,** a handful of rolled oats, a decent amount of cinnamon, a little nutmeg and a moderate quantity of that mistress of spices, cardamom.

As for the actual fruit/baking part it couldn't be easier. Wash and chunk a bunch of rhubarb, being careful to cut away all the leaves because, as your grandma probably told you, they are poisonous. To this I added a punnet of strawberries, hulled and quartered, and while they were delectable plain rhubarb is pretty danged good, too. Tip all that into a pie dish, cover with the crumble mix, and bake for 35-40 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit is bubbling a little but still holding its shape. Eat and enjoy.

* You can see from the hard shadows that I was forced to use the dicky little flash on my camera 'cause the lone overhead fluoro tube cast a dim and bilious light. I tried bouncing the flash off my hand. DON'T DO THAT. It kind of sparked and made a scary, electrical malfunctiony sort of sound. My kingdom for a decent Speedlite/a better lens/hell, even one of Canon's stalwart 50mm primes. Oh, and a tripod. If any representative of Manfrotto is reading this I will cook for you for a year/show you my goodies if you coud hook me up.

** On toasting pecans: chuck them in a dry frypan over a high heat, stirring occasionally, until they smell real good and look all golden. It should only take a few minutes, but be careful not to let them burn. Of course you can skip this step, but it's no work at all and it makes a world of difference.


Monday, July 10, 2006

myth busted


it was once believed by the worst kind of la porchetta customers, that carbonara contained cream, bacon, chives and sometimes even mushrooms. this is a shameful lie. this is what you should make carbonara from:

eggs - obviously get the most precious ones from the chickens what run free
spaghetti - i always use barilla
parmesan - anything good but i've become enamoured of south cape
prosciutto - or pancetta if you want to be difficult, never bacon or ham
italian parsley - a big bunch from gangemi's at barkly square
cracked pepper - in quantities bigger than you would think is appropriate

gently crisp the prosciutto, lay on paper to defat-imify and get crunchy. grate the parmesan very finely, so it will melt into the eggy mixture later. chop the parsley however you please [i do it rough]. beat the eggs [see, told you i was rough] very aggressively, until they are full of air. chuck the pasta on and cook it a tiny bit less than al dente. once it has drained and isn't leaking water anymore, toss it back in the pasta pot on a VERY LOW HEAT. this couldn't be more important - go as low as you can. at this stage, i mix the parmesan in with the egg mix and then gently pour it on the pasta. from now on, the pasta may not have a rest. it cannot be still again until it's on the plate. turn it slowly and repeatedly [this is boring and should be farmed out as a task to guests so you can pash someone on your stirring breaks]. crumble the prosciutto into the pot and start cracking pepper in too. in goes the parsley and remember that the whole thing can't stop moving while you faff around with the extra bits.

this part takes a fair amount of time [compared to the relative ease and speed of preparation] so it will be a test of your patience. if you get impatient and turn up the heat, or nick off somewhere to feel someone up, your egg might cook into actual little scrambles and then you're fucked. well, you'll have a less than appetising meal on your hands anyway...THUS ENDETH THE HOMILY.

okay. when the mix is hot and the egg has become a silky, glisteny, creamy sauce you can remove the pasta from the heat and get it onto plates toot sweet.

more cracked pepper, more parmesan if you're a fiend, and a sprinkle of parsley on top if you're a show-off. this is even better with really good bread and thick wads of butter.

*with apologies to the fine photographers i share this site with. mea culpa. i was hungover and hungry.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

It’s a Tuna-stravaganza

Yesterday I came into possession of 2 tuna steaks. One sashimi-grade, the other just normal. Ohhh what to do with such creatures.

Let me tell you what I did.

The regular (non-sashimi-grade) steak was marinated in the following:
- Teriyaki
- Lemon Juice
- Garlic
- Chilli (I only had dried chilli flakes on hand. Fresh, chopped chilli would be ideal. Tabasco would be an acceptable alternative.

The sashimi-grade tuna steak was seasoned before toasted sesame seeds were pressed onto it. I only wanted to coat the top and bottom but I ended up getting the seeds fucking EVERYWHERE. This lady came in my kitchen at this point and was all “WTF?” and I was all “Delia you cannot keep coming here. No I do not care about Norwich.”

Both steaks were seared on a hot heat for approx 90 seconds per side.

To accompany my fishes, I thought a nice avocado salsa would go down well. I therefore combined the following in a bowl:
- 1 avocado
- Half a chopped red onion
- A handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- Some chilli flakes
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- Some caramelised balsamic vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon (lime would rock hard but I didn’t have any)
- Splash of olive oil
- Salt and pepper

This was then left in the fridge for an hour or two to allow the flavours to develop.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

WWRSD part II - it's soup-erlative!

Soup fixins

If you know me in the real life you've probably eaten this soup. Why? Because I probably walked a big 'ole container of it around to your house, thrust it into your hands and walked away muttering to myself. Without even realising it the recipe I'm about to outline made more minestrone than I've ever seen in my life, but fuck me if it wasn't tasty. I actually just devoured a big 'ole bowl of it with some toast and am now plump, fed and contented.

Do you want to get your soup on? Okay, well this is the way I made minestrone. I kind of just pulled the recipe out of my ass, and I think in future I'll chuck in a tin of tomatoes so the broth is more red and, uhm, tomatoey, but c'est la vie. Here is what I did: I peeled and chopped a large carrot, chopped a zucchini of Ron Jeremy proportions, shredded a quarter of a cabbage, cubed three ripe, knurbled tomatoes, sliced a fist-sized red onion, sliced three stalks of celery, leaves and all, crushed and chopped four cloves of garlic, and stripped the leaves off a third to a quarter of a bunch of thyme.

I then heated up a generous slug of olive oil in a big 'ole stock pot and turned the garlic and onion in it with a bit of salt until it smelt good. I stirred in the tomatoes until they began to break down, then tipped in the rest of the veges along with the thyme. After it all wilted a bit I threw in a good few litres of water with about four tablespoons of stock powder (yes, I know, real stock is better, but I'm a student, for chrissakes), a couple of bay leaves, three or four stalks of thyme, a couples of handfuls of brown lentils and a few handfuls small pasta shells. I brought it to the boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer while I showered and put my washing away.

That was it! I'm all souped up now. What's your favourite way to make soup/soup pun?

Good enough to make Rosemary Stanton blush

So I had all these oats from making cookies, as seen below in glorious technicolour, and I had a bit of a quandary. I don't want to waste my dry goods, but I don't want to be eating nothing but chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies for the rest of my life. And porridge, let's face it, is kind of bland.

So I asked myself what I often ask myself. WWRSD?

What would you do, Rosemary Stanton, Australia's best loved crispy-haired, wan, dyspeptic looking nutritionist? I suspect she would do any of the following.

(a) Eat some roughage.

(b) Eat some more roughage.

(c) Eat something that would make you poo.

(d) Cook up something delicious with lots of sugar and cinnamon and cloves but call it healthy because, even though every vitamin has been simmered out, it contains fruit, damnit.

I chose the latter option. Here is what I made and how I did it.


I got up very early (okay, 10) and removed a bag from the fridge containing two navel oranges, a punnet of strawberries, and four Granny Smith apples. I stemmed and quartered the strawberries, cut the orange into thin wedges, which I skinned and de-pithed, and wedged the Granny Smiths. These were put into a pan with two cloves, a cinnamon stick, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and a squirt of golden syrup for good measure. Then I added some water.

In retrospect I probably should have added a scant half cup, if that, but I got a bit carried away and wound up having to boil the lot vigorously to reduce the liquid. It's pretty damned tasty, but I suspect it would be better if it wasn't so damned water logged. Anyhoozle, I brought the whole lot to the boil, twiddled the gas until it settled to a nice rollicking simmer, and did the dishes. Once everything looked appropriately mushy and the kitchen smelt like nanna I turned the heat off, made some porridge and ate. I'll tupperware the rest and live like the happiest nanna that ever there was all week.

Rosemary would be proud.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Day At Work

Disillusioned with my current job in banking, I decided to pursue my other dream career as a careers counsellor.

My first clients arrived in the morning. It was a motley crew: 2 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of rice (long grain, paella or Arborio, I can’t be sure), 1 tin of tomatoes (tin sized), 1 tin of navy/kidney beans, 3 chorizo sausages, 1 litre of stock, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and basil.

Jobe, they said, make us tasty. We all want to be tasty. Oh and winterrryyyyyy. Because it’s winterrrrrr.

DREAM SEQUENCE: Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Said I Tasted Good

I set to work making them better people without getting too chizzy. I saw my role as the coach of the soccer team. They were a group of misfits, and I was a washed up alcoholic. Who put me in charge of these kids? No idea.

I started by going to the chopping board and cutting up the chorizo into small, round chunks. They were then fried until garlic and various herbs and seasoning was added. Pleased with how things were going, I relapsed into alcoholism. We were headed to the finals! Dammit! It was just one drink to celebrate!

Back on the wagon.

I decided to develop action plans for everyone (trick I learnt at career counsellor TAFE course):
- Add in the rice, stir.
- Add in everything else.
- Cook until stock is evaporated and rice is of appropriate consistency.

You know what? We won the league title or some shit!

Celebration Montage

Step One: Steal all underpants...

I wanted lunch. What I had was an experience of pure evil genius.


This involved: one rather stale piece of sourdough rye bread bought for a ginger bread and butter pudding that never eventuated, the last of the hydroponic tomatoes reduced to a pulp under the grill before assembly, one full half of an avocado lumpily smeared, the finest low fat cheese Bega has to offer, and evil genius.



Sunday, July 02, 2006

On cookies


When I was living in the 'States I didn't have much money for food, but I did have enough money for cookies from the campus bakery. Big, chewy, marginally undercooked cookies the size of my hand. I'd buy one of those and a flagon of percolator coffee in the morning and I'd be right 'til lunchtime. Then again, I was in a permanently hungover state, so my perspective on nutrition was not to be trusted. Still. Cookies, that is, big, chewy, sweet, crunchy bad for you American style cookies, are portable rounds of comfort and security.

I was not feeling right this afternoon. I was sad and the city was grey, cold and drizzly. My skin was wrong from the air conditioning at work and no one had understood my T-shirt. There was only one thing that could make this morose Sunday any better, and that was liberal doses of NWA and cookies.

I got home, cleared the benches of 7-Eleven bags and plates stuck with crumbs of pot, turned on the oven and gathered together my cookie stuff. If you would like to try the cookies I made, you will need the following. You will need 3/4 cup self raising flour (I used wholemeal because I think it tastes better), 115g soft butter, 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup white sugar, an egg, 1 1/2 cup oats (as in Uncle Tobys), 3/4 cup chocolate chips, a teaspoon each respectively of vanilla, ground ginger and cinnamon, and half a teaspoon of cardamom.

On account of the fact that I don't have a hand mixer I put the butter (and I do believe it really should be butter) in a Pyrex jug with the sugar and nuked it for fifteen seconds. I then turned it into a bowl and beat the lot as though it owed me money until it was creamily combined. I then beat in the egg and vanilla, followed by the flour, a good few shakes of salt and the spices, until it looked like cookie dough. I then dumped in the chocolate chips and oats and bashed, stabbed, winkled and poked until I had an oaty, lumpy, chocolatey dough.

At that point I baking papered some trays and laid out twelve neat, big lumps of dough (around 2 tbsp each), and baked them for 25 minutes at around 180 degrees. Afterwards I let them cool and, well, I think you can imagine what to do after that.