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Showing posts from October, 2008

What's white and delicious*?

Matt Moran in today's Australian Financial Review Life & Style section (subscription required) writes about the joys of tripe. Yes, joys. Yes, tripe. I grew up with the stuff, done in the traditional English way, with white sauce and parsley. And yes, I liked it. Along with tongue pressed in a bowl, sliced thickly and made into sandwiches with old-fashioned double-black-topped unsliced bread; lamb's fry and bacon; crumbed lamb's brains (especially delicious deep-fried) and roasted lamb flap from which you could peel strips of delicious melting-quality pink meat. Don't grimace, Generation X. Or Y. Or iPod. Or Facebook. Or whatever you're calling yourselves this week. After all, it is your generation that keeps coming up with buzzwords like nose-to-tail eating. But I still don't see too many packages of sweetbreads or calves' heart or lamb kidneys being casually tossed into inner-urban supermarket trolleys along with the Nudie juice or the Simon Johnson

Melbourne Cup menus go triple-A in truffle-driven oneupmanship contest.

Last week The Age previewed Cup food fashions, pointing out that having your finger food done by a proper chef can enhance the experience of placing what's left of your money on horses instead of in banks: At its best, this synthesis between chef and caterer leads to a dish such as Jake Nicholson's pastry cornets with parmesan custard and Tasmanian black truffle, created this year for The Big Group at Lexus and such a perfect - and unexpectedly light - example of modern finger food it might best be described as digitally enhanced. If you can decipher any meaning out of that paragraph at all, it may be that if you whack some truffle into a pastry cylinder, you're a chef and not a caterer. I'm not sure who would be more offended by that, chefs or caterers. No matter. But if you're at the Cup and you notice a bead of sweat on your Lexus salesman's brow while he's scoffing his truffle custard cornet, it might not be race five he's got on his mind but the do

A long day's journey into night.

Once, a long time ago, I had another blog on which I wrote about running and walking dogs. Then I didn't run so much and we didn't have dogs any more, so the blog stopped as well. But sometimes I still run, or at least walk very fast. I ran on Saturday afternoon. It was an unpleasantly hot day with a biting, blustery northwesterly wind. It was the kind of weather that dries you out like a Mildura raisin on a drying rack if you happen to be out in it for a longer time than you intend. I ran a few kilometres and the wind scorched my throat. Maybe I didn't drink enough. Later in the afternoon I was out in the heat some more, walked the few kilometres to and from Sydney Road. Why drive? * It stayed hot all night. I went to bed. I dreamed I was thirsty. These dreams are supposed to be about crawling through the desert on your hands and knees looking for an oasis, but I was in a Coles supermarket and the water and soft drink shelves were closed off and someone was pushing me out
I planted it two years ago on a north-facing timber paling fence in the back garden. It failed to grow in its first season. I cut it back, almost to the ground, at the end of that summer. It survived, producing one single bloom last summer. Something happened over winter and spring. My Climbing Gold Bunny took off like a rocket. It marched imperiously over the palings and now its hundreds of yellow blooms are a silent explosion of pale gold in the sun. The vines are approaching the old shed like hungry triffids with an appetite for timber and cement sheeting.

Extra virgin not so immaculate.

It has been one of the world's biggest health fads for years - if a fad can last that long - and now it is one of the world's biggest scams. The words 'organic' and 'extra virgin' may mean absolutely nothing on your bottle of olive oil. Even the word 'olive' is suspect. News Ltd's dozy Weekly Times carried this story last week (it is not news worldwide), following the ABC's 7:30 Report 's investigation a week earlier: HEATHER EWART: Are consumers being conned? LEANDRO RAVETTI, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, MODERN OLIVES: Big time. Big time. DR ROD MAILER, AUSTRALIAN OILS RESEARCH LAB: There are products on supermarket shelves we know of that shouldn't be there. Well, straight over to the consumer watchdog then: GRAEME SAMUEL, CHAIRMAN, ACCC: The law is very clear, thou shall not mislead or deceive, we will be honest. Thanks, Graeme. Sit down. HEATHER EWART: The local olive oil industry has long suspected foul play by some international olive oil

Whole baked fish.

It's hard to eat indoors when it's still light outside at 7.30 in the evening. Had the evening been a few degrees warmer, the following dish would have gone onto the barbecue for our first outdoor meal of the season. But it was cool, so I baked it in the oven and we ate inside. My local fish supplier used to be Lido Seafoods but has changed hands and is now known simply as Sydney Road Fresh Fish. It stocks a far wider range of quality fish than most fish shops and prices are no more than at the over-hyped, overcrowded Victoria Market. I chose a whole rainbow trout - already cleaned and oven-ready - from a tempting array of choices which included baby sardines that need only a dusting with flour and fast frying in oil. Next time. Rainbow trout roasted with leeks, red onion and lemon. 1. Chop a leek radially into thin rings. Rinse grit if necessary. Chop a large red onion into rings. Sweat the leek and onion in oil in a covered pan until they just start to soften. 2. In a bowl, c

It was all my fault.

It was the year 2000. The Millennium Bug had failed to bring the world crashing down. The bust came and went and everything was still fine, give or take a few billion dollars. House prices were like bread dough. They doubled in size every time you looked. Majority thinking was that financial disasters were just a media construct. Or a movie. Or a history book. Around that time, a relative of mine had a friend with a five-digit credit card debt. Interest payments meant the debt wasn't budging. I advised the relative that as a worst-case scenario, the friend's credit card debt could be folded into their mortgage at the then-rate of 4.99%, providing temporary breathing space and allowing the borrower to catch up before accelerating payments back into the mortgage to re-establish the previous equity ratio. The relative advised the friend along those lines. Kind of. The friend went to the bank and came back with no credit card debt, a smiling face, and a brand new car. I hit

Five to go on with.

We conclude National Vegetarian Week with five fast (except for the last one) knockout recipes from the Kitchen Hand Official Test Kitchens. Spiced broad beans with pine nuts. Saute fresh broad beans with chopped onion, pine nuts, crushed garlic, cumin and coriander seeds, chopped basil and a squeeze of lemon. Serve on basmati rice. Linguine with avocado and pesto. Cook some linguine, slice an avocado, toss it all together with pesto and optionally top with shaved parmesan. Delicious. Asparagus with blue vein cheese. Quickly boil asparagus and drain, place on plate, sprinkle with crumbled blue vein cheese, capers, cracked pepper and a dash of vinaigrette. Eat with sourdough toast. Green beans in coriander sauce. Blanch a few dozen green beans and drain. Grind a teaspoonful of coriander seeds and half that amount of cumin seeds, add these to a quarter cup of vegetable stock, simmer five minutes to reduce then add a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and pour over green beans. Sho

Blogger is unable to complete my request.

(Or so it says. Then it shows a code which goes like this: bX-w90v67. It happens all the time now; but I just ignore it, click on 'home' and up comes the dashboard. I hope it works for other bloggers. Or maybe I should just graduate to another weblog provider. But no fancy design. I like the anonymity of the Blogger template.) Caponata. Day Six of National Vegetarian Week sees us preparing this classic Sicilian dish which is often used as an accompaniment to grilled fish but is also excellent main fare. Cut two medium eggplants into one-inch (only 36 years after metric measured were introduced!) cubes, place them in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Rinse after twenty minutes and pat dry. In the meantime, slice two zucchinis into half-inch rounds; thinly slice two red deseeded capsicums and an onion. Puree two large ripe cored and diced tomatoes with a half-cup of red wine vinegar and two teaspoons of sugar. (At this time of year, just use canned diced tomatoes). Place eggpla

Day Five: spelt pasta with leek sauce.

Trim and cut two leeks ( allium ampeloprasum var. porrum family liliaceae ) into chunks. Check for grit, rinse if necessary, boil five minutes and drain. Combine the leeks with the zest of a lemon, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, two tablespoonsful of olive oil, a dash of sea salt and a dozen peppercorns. Cook spelt pasta - spirals - until done. Drain, combine with sauce in pan, add a tablespoonful of grated parmesan and stir over very low heat. Serve. This is one of those dishes that sounds kind of OK, looks not much better but tastes like a revelation. * (What happened to Day Four of National Vegetarian Week? It was Tracy's birthday, her mother was in town and we went out for dinner to a children-friendly place where I ate grilled trevally on mash with fresh vegetables, Tracy ordered the grilled whiting, her mother chose an excellent veal scallopini vino bianco that she reported was meltingly tender and the boys played with their spaghetti. Happy birthday.)

Another omnivore crowd-pleaser.

And so we near the end of Day Three of National Vegetarian Week , which will conclude on Saturday with a huge barbecue celebration featuring a goat on a spit. Just kidding. Today's recipe - another old favourite with which with long-term readers will be familiar is probably my favourite Indian dish of all time, apart from butter chicken, beef vindaloo, lamb korma ... Spinach Paneer Ingredients: One large bunch of spinach, washed and chopped. Oil. One tablespoonful of fenugreek leaves. 200g pack of paneer. Ghee. One teaspoon turmeric. One and a half cups just-boiled water. One half teaspoon black cumin seeds. One tablespoon ground coriander. One teaspoon chilli powder. One teaspoon finely grated ginger. One teaspoon salt. One half teaspoon sugar. One cup yogurt. Method: Paneer is made without rennet, and so is suitable for vegetarians. Put the spinach with the water that clings to it into a pan over a low heat, together with a dash of oil and the fenugreek leaves. While the spinach