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Showing posts from February, 2015

A short history of comfort food, part two.

After cheese mac, the world's second favourite comfort food - according to a recent authoritative survey of two people - is meatballs. When you add cheese to the recipe, the desirability of the recipe reaches stratospheric levels. Dishes such as these were frowned upon for years but, recently, 'experts' have decided that cholesterol is no longer harmful. All that wasted energy avoiding cholesterol has probably cause stress-based heart disease in millions of people. So the biggest health tip of all is: never listen to health bureaucrats' warnings. Meatballs with cheddar and mushrooms. Place a large fist-sized ball of pork and veal mince into a large mixing bowl and, with your hands, fold into it two or three very finely chopped button mushrooms, half a cup of grated cheddar, half a very finely diced small zucchini, one very finely chopped spring onion, a chopped clove of garlic, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoonful of oatmeal, a sprinkling of polenta and a

Macaroni cheese or a carrot?

Nothing beats macaroni cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food. Would you rather go home to macaroni cheese or a raw carrot? My case rests. Macaroni cheese is usually made with short pasta, for no better reason than convenience. It's the kind of food people eat while watching television. You can stick a fork in it and not have to avert your gaze from the screen. But I use fettuccine instead, and this one small change takes the dish to a whole new level. As you turn your fork to unfurl the long strands of fettuccine from the unctuous clutches of the creamy cheesy sauce in the bowl, it adheres; producing a combination of texture, taste, aroma and culinary sensuality unmatched in fine dining. You just can’t watch TV at the same time, or you’ll flick cheese sauce all over the couch. Dreamy fettuccine with three cheeses. Melt 60g - just guess - of butter in a saucepan. Move saucepan off the heat and add enough flour to make a roux, stirring. Once combined, add two cups of mi

Greek-style baked prawns with tomato and garlic.

Prawns on the barbecue can be boring, especially if they're cooked even a few seconds too long, because they dry out. Baked with white wine, they stay moist and have an enhanced flavour. Just make sure you buy Australian ones, because you never know what the Chinese ones have been swimming in, but I'm sure you can imagine, given recent news stories . Peel, devein and clean two dozen large prawns, retaining heads and tails, and fry quickly in olive oil, barely a minute each side. Throw in four diced garlic cloves at the same time so that they will fry briefly but not burn. Now tip in a cup of white wine, shake pan, cook another 30 seconds and then put the lot into a casserole. Speed is the essence. Tip half a dozen finely diced, very ripe truss or roma tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes) into the same frypan, add a few torn basil leaves and a good shake of cracked black pepper. Warm through. Cut a piece of fetta cheese into a dozen cubes of the size you would add to a

A woman ahead of her time.

My first mother-in-law collected 1970s trash, which is cool today, but she collected it while the 1970s were still going. Now, her house would be a collector's gold mine. It was an old bloated Queen Anne style with bay windows and draughty hallways and return verandahs; plenty of space to fill up with useless knick-knacks. The living room could have filled a copper mine. Or was it brass? On one wall was a life-size brass rubbing of a medieval knight, taken from some castle in England. Next to that was a massive copper pan hanging by its three-foot wooden handle on a very large hook. You could kill a burglar with it, if you could lift it. One another wall was an imitation knight's shield with an image of an English village pressed into it, showing a church spire, a farmer wheeling a brace of pigs to market, and a curved bridge over a river. It was the kind of thing you'd sit in your chair and look at once, and then wonder why anyone would go to all the trouble. Next to the

He Won’t Need It Now, by James Hadley Chase.

January 8, 2015. A large apartment hanging off a hill overlooking one of the world's most beautiful vistas, the sparkling cerulean waters of Sydney Harbour. "This time we’re going to get him." Grenville turned to Archer, who was gazing at a small craft cutting a wake across the water. Both men were by the glass wall overlooking the harbour, whiskies in hand. "How?" "If you’ll listen, I’ll tell you." Grenville was short, dark, moustached, and ageing. His kidnapping days were long gone, but he still did a little freelance hacking, and he harboured ideas like some people keep pet chickens. "I'm all ears." Archer was tall and slim, with a eagle-like nose. Grenville sipped his scotch and began. "You’ve met my attorney, Shapilo." Archer nodded. He had. How could he forget? Shapilo had been active in the Griffith area in the seventies, which had been a good time for a lawyer with Calabrian connections. "Shapilo ha

In 2015, this kitchen will be more collegial than ever before.

I'll ask my children what they want for dinner and get agreement. If that doesn't happen, I'll call an election. Just kidding. This household is a benevolent dictatorship. * On another subject, underpinning those Australia Day lemonised meat balls was the following rice dish. Spanakorizo: rice with spinach and leek. Chop a leek into quartered rounds. Cook it with two crushed cloves of garlic in oil until soft and fragrant. Add a cup and a half of rice – I used long grain – and stir to coat in oil. Add three cups of water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over the lowest heat for 10 to 15 minutes. The rice is done when steam holes form in the rice and the grains stand on end and beg to be eaten. Well, that's what it looks like. Meanwhile, cook a chopped bunch of fresh washed spinach in its retained water – or thaw 500g frozen spinach – and then fold it through the cooked rice. Finish it off with quarter of a cup of chopped parsley and the juice of a
Various extended family members, Queen's Park, Moonee Ponds, last week. Photo credit: a passing stranger. My cousin can be quite persuasive.