Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

18.12.03

Caesar salad.

I dunno why it's called Caesar salad (I've heard the reason but I forget), I dunno what the right recipe is, whether it has bacon, whether it should have croutons, whether the eggs should be hard, soft, crumbled, whatever.

I just make it every now and again, and I make it different every time.

Last night we were given cos from the school garden, so:

Rinse the cos, chop it in broad sections and arrange (or throw) in a large salad bowl.

Fry some bacon, chopped into small pieces, until crisp. Or until not crisp, doesn't matter, however you like.

Boil a couple of eggs. I boiled mine hard.

Toss the cooked bacon over the cos. Slice the eggs into sections and place over the cos - that's what I did. Or crumble them and do the same.

Make your favourite dressing. I already had some vinaigrette left in the fridge so I put half a teaspoon of mayo in it, added a little lemon juice and some salt and pepper, shook it up and poured it over.

Then I sprinkled a small handful of pinenuts over it. Wrong, but nice.

And then some parmesan cheese. It was already grated. Or you can shave really thin slices, that's nice too.

That was it - see, no croutons. Because I didn't have any.

I had it with a green bean and tomato stew (frozen leftover - recipe another time) over cous-cous.

15.12.03

Croquettes? Patties? Burgers?

I dunno what you call them.

Leftover blueye (about half a kilo) and leftover mashed potato means yummy fish burgers for lunch next day.

Flake the fish and blend it with the mash with half a cup of flour (I used rice flour because Tracy is having a wheat free stage except when visiting cafes and eating muffins), and egg and salt and pepper.

Fry the burgers in a general amount of olive oil (you might prefer a lighter oil) until crispy. Turn over and fry the other side. If you've formed the burgers well, they don't break. If they do, you've formed them badly. No matter, just break 'em up and turn it into fish hash. Yum.

When your burgers are cooked, set them on a plate and serve with warm tomato sauce and a squeeze of lemon over the top and a nice green salad on the side.

Blue Eye cutlets.

Fresh from the Victoria Market, Blue Eye cutlets.

With mashed potato and green peas. This is a great Friday night meal, simply and homely.

We had an entree of mango, green olive and fetta wrapped in prosciutto. Beautiful.

The fish grilled in butter and olive oil to a crisp finish.

Chilled white wine. Yum.

Sleep.

11.12.03

Curry in a heatwave.

The other night I didn't cook at all. The temperature was in the high thirties (celsius) so we had take-outs from Singh's Indian take-aways, one of the best around.

When they opened about fifteen years ago, their vindaloo was so hot people couldn't eat, so they toned it down for local tastes, but you can still order it cranked up if you wish. The guy who ran Singh's used to bring out people from India to cook and ran into a bit of trouble with the Immigration Department for using illegal migrants. They sure were the genuine item. The food was sensational.

I hadn't been to Singh's for quite a while, but I remembered what to order: mulligatawny, that hot, seedy, delicious Raj soup creation; Alu Chap, which is curried peas encased in mashed potato and deep fried; a beef vindaloo; a garlic naan and some pappadums.

The mulligatawny was redder and more dahl-like than I remember; we slice the alu chap in two and pour the mulligatawny over the top. Yum.

The vindaloo was large pieces of beef in a thick red sauce. incredibly flavour dense. One serve goes a long way, especially with the naan which is stuffed with garlic and deliciously soft and warm. Wipe up the curry gravy with that and you're in heaven. I also took away one of their hot pickles. Hot it was: I was gasping.

We sat outside enjoying the intense heat, the superb Indian food, cold beer and the bird chorus singing to the setting ball of fire in the Western sky.

The sun set at last and it was dark. We retreated to our lawn tent. Too hot to go inside.

Sleep.

Ragu.

The fluid, gravy, jus, mess, whatever you want to call it, left over from the beef and red wine stew below made a very nice ragu with the addition of a can of tomatoes and some frozen peas.

Dead simple. Cook it all up and serve it over pasta. Or you can just cook it into some risotto. Equally delicious.

4.12.03

Dinner's in the pot.

Following my immutable law about buying only what is in season or plentiful, I found some beef on the bone at $6 a kilo.

I made a very simple stew with red wine, garlic, a little butter, onions, carrots and potatoes, letting it cook away for a couple of hours until the meat fell off the bone.

Then I served it with braised red cabbage (there's plenty of that left in the garden - my family will be getting red cabbages for Christmas) and big gluggy egg noodles - yum. Kind of Alsace style I guess, where French meets German.

Goes well with beer. Of course.

2.12.03

Salade nicoise with a few additions.

The garden is exploding with several varieties of lettuce, broad beans, the last of the broccoli and more. I can't eat fast enough.

Take a salad bowl the size of a truck steering wheel and fill it with lettuce, quartered cold boiled potatoes, blanched broccoli, boiled broad beans, quartered hardboiled eggs, olives, rings of salad onion and crown it with a can of tuna and your dressing. (I used a simple, lemon, vinegar, olive oil and a touch of mayo.)

Beautiful with fresh bread and a glass of cold white wine.

Tomatoes not ready yet so I didn't use any. This salad needs good tomatoes and is insulted with inferior supermarket tomatoes.

The lesson is, if it's not good, leave it out.