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Pasta with smoked salmon, sour cream and capers.

Why all these different pasta shapes? I've cooked cylinders, squares, circles, items from nature (conchiglie, fiori, stellini, dinosaurs), automotive parts (ruote, rotelle, radiatori), human body parts (orecchiette, capellini, linguini), waiter's equipment (cavatappi), murder implements (strozzapreti) and animals (vermicelli, farfalle). It's about more than the taste of the pasta itself, although that is important. Greater significance attaches to how the shape carries its sauce or accompanying ingredients.  Such as the following recipe, which pairs cavatelli with smoked salmon pieces cut into a similar size and paired with sour cream and salty capers.  The recipe explains itself. It's merely an assembly job. Cook the cavatelli and toss in a little olive oil, slice the smoked salmon into pieces as described above and sear it for a few seconds in a non-stick pan and immediately toss through the pasta.  Top with sour cream and scatter capers over the lot. Chopped dill or
Recent posts

God rest her soul.

Melbourne songstress RenĂ©e Geyer, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, loved soul music so much she had the chutzpah to record James Brown’s 'It’s a Man’s Man’s World' on the tenth anniversary of its original release. Her voice was so soulful record company executives - intellectual giants that they are - recommended she release her US albums without her face on the cover, in order to hide her ethnicity. She subsequently -and sardonically - described herself in her autobiography as a 'white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man from Alabama'. Geyer, who was only twenty when she recorded the James Brown soul classic , died this week of complications following surgery.  

Heart full of soul: celebration of a baroque guitarist.

Jeff Beck is all over the airwaves. My 12-year-old started humming For Your Love when it came on the radio last night.  Times change: at the same age, my experience thanks to a much narrower range of radio airplay stretched back only fifteen to twenty years. A child of 2023 humming 1960s tunes would be the equivalent of me at twelve being familiar with a 1900 top forty (based then on sheet music sales). On air currently : Off the Record; Neon Sunset at noon followed by Twang and Stolen Moments in turn. A music lover's feast on a burning hot Saturday afternoon.

Lazy hazy crazy days of summer.

 9.30 p.m. Wednesday evening. Port Philip Bay at Rye beach, looking north-east towards Mt Martha in the dying glow of the below-horizoned sun. Still 27 Celsius on the beach. * Photo: Tom Kennedy 

Happy New Year's Mash.

 And so we arrive at New Year's Day, crashing onto its smooth glistening shores like a fifteenth-century barque thrown from a savage 2022 sea onto some unknown and unexplored island off Venezuela. Except we have social media such as Twitter, of which the least said the better*. I'd prefer a quill and ink; or a talking parrot named Poll, a dog and a goat. And friendly natives. The twitter-sphere is not a friendly place: take it back five hundred years and it would be a world of cannibals. It is deadly quiet here; even the usual traffic snarl from Sydney Road is muted. I spent the morning pruning in the hot silent mid-morning sunshine. The Queen Elizabeths are ten feet of rioting pink; the two Peace climbers are competing for height; and Just Joey, Gold Bunny and the three Lorraine Lees are all happily flowering, although rust has badly affected some of them this summer - no wonder with the sodden 2023. John F. Kennedy has not yet taken off since being planted two years ago, and

Dinner in ten minutes: creamy avocado and mushroom pasta.

Due to the time pressures of a high-powered career and various domestic pressures such as wife and children, I used to try to cook a meal in the shortest possible time. I wrote about it in a post entitled the  four-minute meal , a take on the four-minute mile. Heat was a mandatory factor, otherwise you could just eat cold pizza from the fridge. The following recipe is fast and easy but doesn't approach four minutes. You'll need at least ten. Just make sure the pasta goes on first, because everything else can be done within its cooking time. OK, pasta's on. Now peel and slice an onion and a garlic clove and put them in a pan with some olive oil on low heat. Slice some mushrooms, halve an avocado, remove the stone and slice and cross-hatch it. I do it in the skin and then carefully remove it.  Now slosh some white wine into the pan and check that the onion and garlic are softening, not burning. Now put in the mushrooms, lid the pan and turn up the heat slightly to soften the

No. 55.

I stood in the mid-morning silence in filtered sunlight watering potted plants. I didn’t know their names then, but they were orchids, geraniums, begonias, monsteras, lace-delicate ferns, and succulents in long hanging strands that looked like pale green jewels. The pots sat on cascading terraced boards in a west-facing outbuilding that was latticed for semi-shade.  The outbuilding was at the back of the house next door to mine. I was ten. The owner of No. 55, an old lady by the name of Mrs. Snaith, was away on her annual summer holiday. She paid me each year to keep her plants alive for four weeks. There were hundreds. I climbed the fence each morning and entered the kind of quiet I had never found anywhere else. Me, the plants, the gentle hiss of the hose, and the drip-drip-drip of the hydrated pot plants onto the cold concrete below the terracing. No. 55 was utterly, achingly empty under the clear, cloudless early summer sky, and life - mine - was pregnant with its unknown future. T