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Showing posts from February, 2016

Pasta nicoise for the last day of summer.

The hottest summer on record, they said. What a fizzer. Here in Coburg, we did not get through the half-price twenty-visit family ticket for Moreland aquatic centres. Five visits left. Barely any days over 40C. Hottest on record? Hardly. (Incidentally, that 30C-plus day last week was described by several newsreaders as a 'heatwave'. A heatwave used to be a run of high temperature days, but its meaning has been manipulated to indicate a single day of hot weather.) * And here we are at the last day of summer. Tonight: a dish I call warm pasta nicoise, because it contains some of the ingredients of the classic salad. I use linguini for the pasta. Pasta nicoise. Cook the linguine, drain it, and reserve a tablespoon of the liquid. Sear a slice of fresh tuna keeping it still pink in the middle. Cut into cubes. Return the pasta to the heavy pan with the liquid, a dash of olive oil, some very finely sliced onion rings and a crushed garlic clove. Add the tuna, some sliced tr

The egg and I.

I got off to a bad start with eggs. I was nineteen, out of home, and cooking for three. I started with an egg. (Another time I cooked five sausages by placing them into a red hot pan to which they fused. Ten minutes later I had ships of raw sausage meat decks over carbon holds.) I placed the egg in a saucepan and placed the saucepan on the stove and lit the stove. So far so good. Then I went into another room and did something else. I don't know, putting clothes away, reading the sports section, making a landline phone call. Could have been anything. Eight minutes later I came back into the kitchen. I sniffed the air. But it was too late. There was a sudden explosion, like a light globe being shot out. Something hit the ceiling. In fact, a lot of things hit the ceiling, and the upper parts of the walls. And they were all pale yellow. I had forgotten the water. The egg had heated up and exploded. It took me a day to clean the ceiling and I was still finding bits of egg a

Pasta with onions: a dish to cry over.

Pasta with onions raises eyebrow; but veal parmigiana stole tomato sauce and cheese, so why can't pasta hijack something more commonly associated with meat dishes? Pasta with onions, red capsicum and anchovies . Chop two large onions into fine rings and saute them in a pan with olive oil. Add a little sugar to help brown them. Meanwhile, bake a red capsicum until the skin chars. Remove from oven, and place in a paper bag to cool. The skin will now be quite easy to peel away. Cut the flesh into strips. While the onions are melting into soft, fragrant brownness, cook the pasta. Slinky, slippery fettuccine works well with this dish. Check the onions again. Do not allow to stick, let alone burn. Add a squeeze of lemon for a dash of acid and give the onions a stir. Drain the pasta. Twirl it into a large serving bowl, add strips of roasted red pepper, several anchovies; and then top with the fried onion.

Pigeon Post.

Yet again we delve back into the archives of Kitchen Hand's head, from his ongoing life as a copywriter in advertising. Every one of these stories is 100% true and accurate, even the slightly exaggerated ones. Only the names have changed. Reminder: language warning, but no worse than in every agency - or construction site for that matter - across the land. * Another morning in the advertising agency. Another awards night over. Another trophy in the cabinet. Another lost night. Another hangover. Another growing feeling of dread about what happened, where it happened, and who it happened to. Another hamburger with the lot from the café over the road, cooked to order on the greasiest part of the grill to soak up as much brain-soothing fat as possible. Another account service person walks into Leopard's office without knocking. Leopard is the creative director whose name was Leonard until he got into advertising. Thinking his name a little tame for a creative director, he emp

Melting cheese makes pasta dish unsurpassable.

Home made gnocchi makes the manufactured variety taste like footballs. Used footballs. Tough and leathery. Simply fold some flour and an egg through mashed potato, roll into cylinders, flour them and cut them into one-inch lengths. Place on a floured tray until cooking, by dropping them into boiling water. Simple. Never buy the packet ones again, unless you like chewing on old footballs. I made a roux of flour turned through melted butter, added a cup and a half of milk and warmed it on a low heat until thickened. Then I added half a cup of grated cheddar, a large knob of very mature blue cheese and half a cup of parmesan. Add milk if it gets too thick. The resulting bubbling lava was poured over cooked gnocchi which was flecked with chopped parsley and cracked black pepper. The plate was then placed under the griller until the cheese started developing a very appetising golden crust. Probably the finest pasta dish on earth.

Keeping up with the corporate responsibility bullies.

January is a good time to work. I often pick up a week or two of freelance work at a number of advertising agencies when their writers are on holidays. Sometimes the agencies are busy, but often there is not a lot to do apart from checking proofs, signing off artwork, advising account executives on basic points of grammar or spelling, going out for coffee at Brunetti's in the city square, browsing the collectable books in Kay Craddock's; that kind of thing. A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in a large agency with not much to do. While I was waiting to be briefed on a job, I was idly reading through the agency's mission statement. It was a Monday morning and the job, a six page brochure for one of its financial advice clients, would be briefed in at the work-in-progress meeting at ten o'clock in the boardroom. Mission statements are merely long-winded expressions of a strange blend of political correctness and the latest business management fads; and this w

Meatballs with parsley and mint: a tribute to the long-gone corner butcher shop.

Once upon a time, butcher shops had blue tiles on the outside, an inwardly slanting main window for easier viewing of the displayed product from the street, and sawdust on the floor. The sawdust, combined with the smell of fresh meat, produced a curiously sweet aroma. The butchers used curly-leaf parsley to decorate the meat trays. The rich green of the parsley muted the sea of red meat and made it more appetising. My mother's parcel of mince steak from R. J. Gilbertson in Puckle Street Moonee Ponds would often contain a few sprigs of the green herb, which would be cooked into the resulting patties. Later, parsley was made obsolete as a garnish after the butchers invented those green plastic edging things. These days, the butcher's window itself has all but disappeared from the streetscape. Greek-style meatballs with parsley and mint. Put 600g of lean minced steak into a large mixing bowl with a cup and a half of finely chopped parsley, half a cup of finely chopped mi