more fewd

Last night we went to Fish in North Hobart. The father had the stripey. The mother had flounder. The Squeeze and I said ‘no thankyou’ to interesting fish dishes, opting instead for the glutton option. I love seafood more than anything and simply can’t pass up the opportunity to stuff myself on it when we’re down here. So we ordered a platter thing. It had giant fresh prawns (of course) half a dozen oysters (of course – huge and awesome and fresh, though a bit gritty for my liking. I take that as a sign they didn’t do an excellent job shucking them), some calamari in an interesting batter, some giant, lovely white fish in a light batter, some interesting fish cakes (sort of shaped like fat little sausages and very tasty), some awesome smoked salmon and… it all came with their house salad – rocket + pear + parmesan.
All extremely awesome.
Tonight we had some family friends around for dinner, and because The Squeeze loves ham, we baked one for him. The mother and I had had a minor miscommunication and she’d ended up scoring a raw ham. From a butcher in the glorious Eastlands shopping center. Now, a raw ham is a rare beast (ahahhaha… sigh), and I had to ask for advice from the butcher about what to do with it. He suggested simmering it (ie boiling it) for 2 – 3 hours, then roasting it. So I did. In fact, we over cooked it a bit, so it was kind of falling off the bone when we took it out of the pot. I can assure you, there is nothing so unappealing… no, so utterly gross as a giant, boiled ham joint with the fat still with a few bristles in it and kind of slobbering away from the meat. And the smell…
So the father and I quickly peeled away the fat (though, in retrospect, we should have left it on to keep it moister… but I don’t like to cook ham with the fat on), poked in a few dozen cloves, and popped it in the oven with the glaze. The glaze is an orange and mustard one from Gourmet Traveller 2004 and is very very lovely. It cooked longer than it should have, looked a bit dry to me, but tasted quite spectacular.
We really like that glaze – it’s very tasty. And while the boiling was a pain in the arse, it sure added to the depth of taste (like I know what that means).
We had it with a nice big green salad (our standard – baby spinach, rocket, tomatoes, red capsicum, a few boiled eggs, some pieces of cheese, fresh mushrooms and with a dressing of olive oil + red wine vinegar + garlic + honey + seeded mustard) and the potato salad with the red onions, capers etc (though not the chilli – :( ). It was all very lovely. After that we had some blueberries, raspberries, assorted other fruit and some King Island Dairy yoghurt (insanely expensive but very lovely) and/or mascarpone. It was quite lovely.
We also put together the mincemeat for the pies yesterday, so had some contreau left.
I don’t drink, ordinarily, but the father has such good taste in wine, I’m always tempted to a half glass of something. This time it’s been a few nice New Zealand wines – Vavasour savignon blanc last night at Fish. And tonight a guest brought another nice New Zealander. Then we had a spot of contreau.
The food has been really bloody ace so far. And I haven’t even mentioned the pies we had at Jackman and McRoss yesterday lunchtime.
But here’s the ham glaze recipe. I thoroughly recommend it if you’re doing a ham this festivus.
Cider-mustard glazed ham (serves 15-20 as part of a buffet)
560ml dry apple cider
100g firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2tbsp cider vinegar
40ml port
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/4 tsp each ground allspice, ground mace, ground cloves
5kg leg of cooked ham rind removed and fat scored in a criss-cross pattern
cloves to decorate
1. Combine 1 cup cider, sugar, mustard, vinegar, port, rindand spcies in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer for 2 minutes.
2. Stud ham with cloves, then place on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with cider mixture, then pour remaining cider and cider mixture into base of pan and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 1 hour or until glazed and golden, brushing frequently with pan juices. Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
I often cut off as much as the fat as I can and it’s plenty moist enough. The layer of fat can be really quite revolting, and I say this as the sort of person who quite likes a bit of fat on meat. As I said, the boiled ham was far tastier than the usual supermarket one we cook (we prefer a ‘boneless ham’… though it disturbs us to think of the boneless piggies on the farm – all that fat comes from an (understandable) lack of exercise on their part), but it was a pain in the arse. If you’re up for that action, just boil it on a low heat for 2 – 3 hours.
We also find that there’s a lot of the sauce left (make sure you baste regularly, btw), so we pop it in a little jug on the table, just in case people are after a little sauce. The Squeeze prefers to add his own mustard, though.
And, of course, this ham action is perfect for sandwiches the next day.

some more salad recipes

Here is a ‘salad’ I’ve been making a lot lately. It’s one I ripped off Maria in Brisvegas taught me and it’s very nice.
Basically, you make some couscous (I just rinse it under warm water, then sit it in a bowl with some warm water til it gets fluffy. I usually have to nuke it to make the consistency right as I’m crap at making couscous).
While that’s sorting itself out, you chop up some tomatoes (I’ve found just slicing cherry tomatoes in half is good enough), chop up some fresh coriander and fresh basil and put it all in a bowl. Add a can of rinsed chickpeas (of course, avoid brands like master food – use a decent brand). Make a dressing of vinegar, olive oil and crushed garlic. Mix everything together.
I like to make enough dressing to make everything taste nice.
I’ve made this a few times lately, serving it with barbequed sword fish (my most recent passion) and another salad:
dice one green apple
dice a small cucumber (you know the type – not the giant ones, but the small ones)
slice some mint finely (not too much, but not too little)
add a generous handful of bean sprouts (the usual type – mung bean sprouts I guess)
and mix in a bit of white vinegar to give it all bite
This is an awesome salad to have with fish. I often make it with pineapple instead of apple, though I simpy can’t bring myself to pay more than a dollar for a pineapple… and when they never seem to get below $3 in Melbourne… It sucks, because I have a few really good recipes which use pineapples, but they were so cheap in Queensland, I just can’t bring myself to spend up big on them.
Anyway, these two salads go awesomely with fish. Especially big, fat swordfish steaks.

the Great Barbeque Effort of 2006

I had considered blogging each of the photos from the cooking efforts last week, but decided flickr was the appropriate tool for this job.

I suggest beginning with this photo in flickr, then following the ‘more’ arrows to the right.
Duh me for uploading in the wrong order.
NB: for recipes consult the Gastropod Wednesday entry.
NB2: Thai sent me an email with the following:

This cookbook that has all the recipes that I made on Wed:
How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques (Paperback)
by Steven Raichlen
Via Amazon’s search-inside-the-book feature, I believe you can just
search for “asparagus rafts”, “corn on the cob”, and “portobello
mushrooms” to see the recipes in the book without needing to buy it:

Sneaky googlers.
NB3: I believe Thai is mistaken.

quick fewd update

The quails were $10 for 4, so I ditched them (after scaring myself at the green grocer with the bill there – but really, veggies are the important thing). Buying a dozen awesome rolls for $3 made up for it.
Otherwise I picked up some cute mini sausages, chicken wings and chicken thigh.
I’m off to the supermarket now (only the safeway, not the mediterranean supermarket as I really can’t be arsed) as I forgot my list before.
Then I’ll put meat in to marinate, cook some rice for the salad, and then sit about on my arse for a while.
If we plan to eat at about 8-8.30pm (provided all the planes arrive on time (around 7.30) I will do the potatoes for the salad about 6pm, and get into the fish salad about 7.30.
Who knows, re the meat cooking times. I need Crinks to think of that.
But I have added corn to the bbq list, and bought some medium-sized mushrooms as well.
…I am half tempted to do a delicious brown rice salad. Quick post your favourite brown rice salad ideas!

gastropod wednesday

We are organising a barbeque for our houseguests and selves (and a few others) tomorrow night.
Here’s the menu:

  • Fish and Herb Salad
  • Orange and Spinach Salad
  • Kumara Salad
  • ‘Mexican’ Potato Salad

and assorted meats, including these possibles:

  • chicken-on-sticks (thigh meat marinated in coriander, garlic, lemon, etc)
  • chicken wings (in soy, ginger, etc)
  • quail (possibly a la Maggie)
  • Nino and Joe’s sausages
  • possibly ribs

As you can see from my lack of decisiveness on the meat front, the salads are the main focus.
Here are the recipes I’ll use:

Fish and Herb Salad
300g smoked cod
3 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup cooked and cooled jasmin rice
1/2 cup chopped fresh Vietnamese mint
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
8 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander root
2cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped lemon grass (white part only)
3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut oil

1. place the cod in a large frying pan and cover with water. Add the lime juice and simmer for 15minutes, or until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool slightly before breaking into bite-sized pieces.
2. Brown the coconut. The recipe reccommends doing this in the oven, but I dry-fry it. Discard if it burns.
3. Place the fish, coconut, rice, Vietnamese mint, mint, coriander and kaffir lime leaves in a large bowl and mix to combine.
4. To make dressing: place the coriander root, ginger, chilli, lemon grass and basil in a food processor and process until combined. Add the avocado, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and peanut oil and process until creamy. I find that just smooshing it in a bowl is enough. Or you could use a barmix.
5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

This salad is AMAZING. But it doesn’t keep, so eat it all on the day – it’s very ordinary cold.
(this recipe is from this useful book).

Kumara Salad
1kg cubed orange sweet potato (kumara)
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp
1/2 tsp yellow asafetida poweder
3/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp seeded, finely chopped green chilli
2 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely shredded coconut
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, powdered
1 tbsp sesame seeds, preferably unhulled, dry-roasted and powdered
2 tbsp fresh coriander leavs for garnish.

1. Boil sweet potato until tender but not overcooked. Remove, drain and keep warm.
2. Pour 2 tsp olive oil in a wok or large pan over moderate heat. When hot, add the yellow asafetida powder, stir briefly, then remove the pan from teh heat. Allow the oil to cool a little, then add the garam masala, cayenne and chilli. Mix well, then add the lime juice, salt and the rest of the olive oil. Fold in the potato and stir gently to coat with the spices. Add the coconut, peanut powder and toasted sesame seed powder and stir gently to combine.
3. Allow the sald to cool and the flavours to mingle, then serve with a garnish of fresh coriander leaves.
I don’t bother powdering the peanuts and seeds, I just smash them a lot with the mortar and pestle.
This is a tasty salad that I make when we do Indian feast. It’s especially nice as a sweeter accompaniment (ditching the chili) with hot curries.

(This recipe came from this great veggie cookbook which you can pick up all over the place – I got mine in Community Aid Abroad. I don’t think they sell it at the ABC/SBS shop any more).

Mexican Orange Salad
6 oranges peeled and all white pith removed, sliced crosswise
2 red onions, sliced
90g/3oz toasted almonds, chopped
2 medium fresh chillis, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
4tbsp fresh mint leaves
1/4 bunch/125g/4oz English spinach, leaves shredded

Place oranges, onions, almonds, chillies, coriander leaves and mint in a bowl, toss to combine and stand for 30 minutes. Line a serving platter with spinach then pile salad on top.
This salad is really nice and fresh. I find it’s a good idea to keep the juice which spills when you slice the oranges. I can’t remember if I add a basic vinegrette (sp?), but I doubt it. I usually ditch the chilli if I’m doing the following potato salad as well.

(This recipe is from this book which I picked up somewhere cheaply. It has some really neat recipes in it, including some fairly detailed descriptions of bean dish preparation. It doesn’t, though, have a recipe for tortillas and other breads from scratch :( We are fond of Mexican type foods in our house)

Potatoes in Chilli Vinegar
2 kg baby new potatoes, halved
2 red onions, sliced
3 jalapeno chillis, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

1. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and put in a serving bowl.
2. To make dressing, place onions, jalapeno and red chillis, garlic, sugar, capers, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, vinegar and water in a bowl and mix to combine. Pour dressing over warm potatoes, toss to combine and stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.
This potato salad rocks. We are a bit over creamy spud salads (though I do make a good one with kalamata olives and ham and a mayo/yoghurt dressing), and this one is really nice – really fresh and sassy. I have found, though, that timid guests who don’t eat chilli very often find it a bit scary – it’s pretty bitey for noobs. It’s important to let the warm potatoes sit in the dressing for a while at room temperature – they suck up the flavours.

(same souce as above).

I’ll see if we can get some preparation photos as we go along, but it’ll depend on whether or not The Squeeze is around and interested. You can see some of the dishes we cooked last year for the Bandidos party here.

Gastropodry: bunny and Jay

Right now I have a bunny (on) the oven… oh, look, I’m sorry. That was far too desperate.
To restart: I’ve finally succumbed to the temptation and am cooking my first rabbit. It’s the perfect opportunity: The Squeeze (who loathes meat on the bone, and finds the thought of eating bunnies distressing) is out, it’s Friday night so I can stop worrying about all the things I have to do – until tomorrow, and my new Jay McShann album arrived today. Gotta love that Kansas City action.
I’ll report back later on the bunny.

nutella bad? no!

I’ve just stumbled across choice, the mag produced by the consumer affairs association. I’m not sure how I feel about it, beyond the fact that it’s perfectly suited to generating low level anxiety about rather inconsequential things.*

Perhaps the most upsetting thing I read in this mag was that nutella has so much trans fat it’d be banned in Denmark.
This distresses me because nutella is the one sweety we buy at the supermarket and keep in the house. All other lovely sweeties are bought spontaneously and randomly.
And what is trans fat? Bad. And it’s in manufactured foods. Here, read:

Trans fat is found mainly in deep-fried fast foods and processed foods made with margarine or shortening. It’s created by a process called hydrogenation that’s used by food manufacturers to improve the stability of vegetable oils and to convert liquid oils into the solid fats needed to get the right consistency in foods such as cakes and pastries.
Trans fat is also created naturally by micro-organisms in the rumen (or forestomach) of cows and sheep — so beef, lamb and dairy foods also contain small amounts of trans fat, depending on the overall fat content.Trans fat is bad for your heart. Weight for weight, it’s probably worse for you than the saturated fat that we all know to avoid.
Trans fat increases the level of bad LDL cholesterol in much the same way as saturated fat. And worse, it seems to also lower the concentration of good HDL cholesterol that’s protective against heart disease.

(from this page)
I guess the bottom line is, eat organic fruit and veggies, if you’re going to eat cakes and biscuits, make your own (using butter or olive oil) and don’t eat shitful takeaway food. Not really big news, is it?
*no, don’t be silly. of course i’m not implying that the consumer affairs people are carp. i’s just being picky.


I’m really trying to think of the last thing I cooked…
oh yeah, right. Corned beef. I’d only had this a few times, in central Queensland, where a sandwhich with ‘corned beef’ in it at a country pub or cafe has nothing to do with cans, but more to do with hours in a pot of simmering water. It’s a country thing, I guess. Anyhoo, I came to corned beef as an adult, and decided I liked it. Not every week or even every month, but every now. And as Sylvie said, it’s a good way to feed hungry farm hands when you live in a beef-farming area.
I’ve made it a few times, because The Squeeze likes it, and I try to source one made by a local butcher (because they’re better, and our local butchers rock), and I use the Stephanie Alexander eggy saucey thing (look, I can’t remember what it’s called, ok? I just know it involves boiled egg yolks, capers, taragon, parsley, chives, virgin olive oil, is wonderful with cold meats and basically rocks). This time I used a supermarket one, neither The Squeeze or nor I was impressed (which is difficult to achieve, seeing as how I love to eat and The Squeeze loves corned beef more than anything) and we didn’t even bother with sandwiches the next day (which is, of course, the point of it all).
Other than that, I had dinner at Singapore Chom Chom last night with The Squeeze and Woobs, which was good (cheap, tasty ‘Sinagaporean’ food – which is like saying ‘Australian’ food – kind of general. In this case, it’s a combination of Indonesian, Singaporean, ‘Chinese’ and Indian dishes. About perfect for my tastes. And with many noodles). I had prawn noodle soup, Woobs had BBQ pork noodles, Squeeze had that silken tofu/pork mince dish with rice and beans and an extra fried egg. At $7 a dish you can’t really go wrong, can you? We try not to spend more than $10 each on dinner on these pre-dancing meals, so we seem to spend a lot of time in Asian greasy spoons (or should that be greasy chopsticks?). Which pleases me. Though I have to say I’ve had enough of dodgy Japanese. Woob’s obsession with Japanese food and The Squeeze’s endorsement of said obsession has left me in Minority Seat, but still…
We tend to compromise on Malaysian as The Squeeze loves laksa, I like Nasi Lemak (even if it is breakfast food) and Woobs eats whatever. Though eating Malaysian or Singaporean is like meat and three veg for a skip, as Woobs’ family is from Singapore.
We need a compromise cuisine. Or a sponsor, so we can go to decent Japanese.
Food this week, otherwise: take away Wednesday. Something stir-fried Tuesday. Beef Monday. A chicken salad at Nandos on Sunday, nothing, but a hamburger at 1am on Saturday for me, and …something on Friday that I’ve forgotten.
Oh, the shame. It’s been a bad week, really – business plus for us here in the ‘wick. I promise to do better next week.

simple pleasures

The best part of looking at site stats today was finding my site was a hit for a search for “how nanna would make pumpkin soup”.
That pleases me.
I wish I had more to offer in the gastropod way of things. But I don’t. Buggered if I can remember what I’ve eaten this week. I’ve been so busy with the thesis, and I DJed three nights straight over the weekend (Thu, Fri, Sat), including my first after party. Which I was happy with, though I guess it’s hard to stuff up a 45 minute set, isn’t it?
My DJing issues are continuing with a search for a media player to which I can drag songs from itunes (using itunes as my library), but which also produces useful play lists. I mostly want to be able to preview songs on headphones before I play them, and for this you need two media players as macs can’t understand why you’d want to have two versions of one application open at any one time. Sometimes this rocks, but sometimes it sucks. This is one of those times. I think I’ll settle for a combination of DJ1800 (about $AU70) for previewing (no sensible playlist option), the usb headphones (plugged into the imic I need to buy from Brian, or into the usb directly) for listening to the DJ1800 songs, and itunes for actually playing to the sound system, searching, creating playlists, etc.
But if you’re looking for gastropod action, I have a little tub of nice bocconcini in our fridge atm, and some nice hydro tomatos on the window sill (I was in bed when the potato man came this week – 8am is TOO early!) and some sweet rocket in the garden. Make of that what you will. I choose to make nice salad.
I am also going nuts with mandarins and apples at the moment. It’s that time of year. We have a bowl full on the coffee table, and I push segments down The Squeeze’s neck every evening while we watch Buffy and Angel. Soon he will have strange Buffy-citrus dreams.
Meanwhile, I had a dream where I was stabbed by a platypus with its poison spur. It was also a dream about the house I lived in in Brisbane, and also about houses generally. I know that if I’m having house dreams, it’s anxiety season. And of course, the source of this anxiety would be the thesis. And the fact that my supervisor goes away 2 weeks from now, for 3 weeks. Arriving back one week before I’d planned to submit. Yes. Isn’t that nice?

gastropod Saturday

In the spirit of practicality, I think I’m going to declare Saturday or Sunday gastropod day, seeing as how we only eat crappy food on Friday nights. This time it was an awful ‘middle eastern’ chicken and cous cous dish which I once knew how to cook but now, obviously, can no longer manage.
Thank god I followed it up on Saturday with an easy ‘Moroccan chicken’* dish which was delish.
Basically, you grate up some ginger, crush some garlic (however much you dig), chop up an onion, fry it all til the onion is transparent, then add an overflowing tsp of ground cumin**, 2 massive tsps of ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika, fry for a minute or til it smells good, then add some water, stirring or whisking to get the stuff combined well. Add some chicken legs and cook for 20 mins. Then pop the chook legs in the oven for 20-30mins (til they’re done), simmering the wet stuff on the stove top til it thickens and reduces. Plop the cous cous on the plate, pop the chook on top, stir some fresh parsley and coriander (I add quite a lot as I really like this bit) into the wet stuff and serve immediately (rather than dropping the herbs on top – this way they flavour the wet stuff nicely) with lemon wedges and fat olives. And a salad of greens, mint, tomato and cucumber with an olive oil/lemon juice/garlic dressing.
ROCK the kasbah!
*I’m not quite sure what ‘Moroccan’ means in this instance, but heck.
**That’s pronounced ‘kew-min’ in our house, thanks. None of this ‘kumm-in’ rubbish.
how much chicken? as many drumsticks per person as you can manage. That’s eleventy for me and 0.5 for The Squeeze, who is revolted by meat on the bone.
how much water? ti it covers the chicken.
what’s reduced? when the wet stuff is thicker, and there’s enough to wet the cous cous on the plate properly, but not drown it.
how do i make cous cous? now you’re scaring me. put some in a bowl. take it out and rinse it in a sieve til the water runs clear. put it back in the bowl. cover with hot water, stir. let it sit til it’s absorbed. stir with fork. if the grains are soft, rock on. if not, add a bit more water. or follow the instructions on the box. or google.
how do i make the salad? get a recipe book, or get a CLUE.