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


A late dinner.

Easter Sunday’s status as a day of tradition and ritual, even if it just involves chocolate, makes subsequent Sundays feel conventional and routine, in a mundane village-life kind of way.

And now it is a week after Easter and instead of hiding eggs early in the morning, I am hauling half a kilogram of store catalogues out of the newspaper hole over the letterbox, reminding myself for the twentieth time to put up a No Junk Mail sign, although I would prefer the words Letters Only, Please. An hour later, Tracy leaves the house to walk to Bunnings and chop onions at the kindergarten fundraiser sausage-sizzle stall set up at the entrance to the hardware store. (Yes, W. is at kindergarten now. It seems only yesterday that he arrived, noisily.) Then it is lunchtime and I am standing at the sink mixing water and a tablespoonful of Keen’s mustard in an eggcup - just like my late father did for years - for the sandwiches of corned beef left over from two nights ago, and wondering whether the Keen's mustard tin is one of the last original pack designs still available, and deciding that it is, along with Vegemite and Pecks Anchovette.

Woven through all of this, yelps and cries and laughter of two small boys; and then silence, first as they eat (no, not the mustard) and then as they sleep, and after that just the Sunday afternoon sounds of faint traffic on Sydney Road and the horn and distant thunder of a down-line train.


So now it is time to read some books that have waited patiently on the table beside my armchair, in a pile getting dangerously high. Where do they all come from? I don't know. I wish the publishing of books could be halted until I read all the old ones. But first, here's what I cooked last night.

Pasta with chicken, pesto, avocado and green beans.

Saturday afternoon had been spent chasing Wm. and Thos. all over Wheelers Hill, a windswept park that looks across a valley at the Dandenongs. Now we were home and the boys were asleep, exhausted; and a glass of wine and uninterrupted conversation and a leisurely dinner was all that stood between now and Sunday.

First, I ran outside and picked some basil and a lot of parsley and brought it back in and processed it with parmesan cheese and two cloves of garlic and olive oil and walnuts. Then I boiled the pasta. Fettucine works well with this dish, but any type will do. When it was almost done, I added four quartered Brussels sprouts and a dozen green beans.

In a lidded pan, I poached a chicken breast in a very little wine wine, several good shakes of pepper and a clove of garlic on low heat. You want tender chicken that is just cooked. You can cube the chicken first, but I took it out after it sealed, quickly cubed it and returned it to the pan. Then I peeled and cut an avocado into cubes or slices, added this to the pan and did the same with a ripe tomato. They will warm through as the chicken cooks.

When the pasta and vegetables were done, I transferred them to serving bowls, folded through the very fresh pesto and added the chicken, avocado and tomato. (If you turned your nose up at the mention of Brussels sprouts with pasta, reconsider. They bring a soft nuttiness that works well with the contrasting tomato and pesto tang.) The key thing with this dish is never to overcook the chicken. If it gets to the chewy stage, just reserve it and use it cold in tomorrow's sandwiches.

Serve with flaked parmesan, cracked pepper and chopped parsley.


GS said...

Isn't mixing mustard powder in an egg cup the only way to do it? I guess, err the "younger generation", don't use mustard powder at all now.

Let alone own an egg cup.

kitchen hand said...

AOF, we even have a set of egg spoons, smaller than a teaspoon and once commonly used for eating the breakfast boiled egg.