Happy endings in the kitchen episode 6: Tandoori chicken salad & mango lassi

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It’s not ok…ok?

Are you suffering from dating exhaustion? Tired of swiping right to disappointment? Kissed too many amphibians in princely clothing?

Well then there was JustinBlacks.

Yes, JustinBlacks. This time it was an online connection on one of the more respectable dating websites, where they take your money and match you with people whom you have nothing in common with. It was like at first sight. A giant smile adorned his model like face, dark skin glowing, and after an instant chemistry we chatted at length. A couple of phone conversations and texts back and forth later the first date of many was arranged. He was debonaire, well spoken, owned an adorable dribbling Beagle, was of Punjabi background and looked a little like an exotic prince, loved good food and wine, owned a very chic city apartment, cooked a mean curry, kissed like a god, and smelt of comfort. Note: he also laughed like a hyena, said ‘ok’ at the end of practically every sentence, only wore black clothing, still spoke to his ex most days, wore his collars up, had a habit of shooshing me during conversation, and drove a BMW with a sports exhaust.

And so, it was a slow burn. Rather formal dinner dates where we would critique the food in a slightly pretentious bordering-on-wanker way, drink plenty of wine to feel less like pretentious bordering-on-wankers, and encouraged by the wine I would attempt to provide the entertainment while he laughed hyenically. It was three weeks of structured, formal, and rather awkward exchanges with a little light-hearted banter in between. Somehow two people who clicked so well initially were unable to relax and just be. But in the third week of our fire stoking we had an intimacy breakthrough. A night of dinner cooked in, deep conversation, much laughter and sustained gazes of passion…it was mutual adoration that felt like the beginning of our very own love story. And he felt it too, expressing his amazement at the “mind-blowing” connection that we shared that hadn’t been compromised by rushing things….in fact we hadn’t even moved past first base, not one article of black (or otherwise in my case) clothing had been removed. It was great. It felt like that rush of acceleration before takeoff. But then the rocket never quite launched. In fact things came to a grinding halt when he called a couple of days later and said “”I’m just not feeling it”. Imagine my surprise after his protestations of excitement only days before. I had the feeling that perhaps another in the running girlfriend potential had beaten me to the punch. But there it was. Rejection. Mind-blowing indeed. Only he was messaging me days later begging for an opportunity to explain. Did I dare take the time to listen? I dared. Stupidly. But there was no explanation. Instead I was greeted with a giant smile, a bottle of wine, a drooling Beagle that missed me, and a bowl of just cooked curry. Not entirely undesirable. Yet when I mentioned that I was feeling vulnerable about the situation and it would take some time to relax he responded with “Shhhhhhhh, I dumped you, get over it…ok?”

No, not ok. Really. Not. Ok.

And as I reeled in my temper and politely left JustinBlacks to shoosh his Beagle and ponder on which combination of blacks to wear the next day, I became acutely aware of a very bad taste in my mouth. There was one way to put the behaviour of such an insensitive, self serving, colour discriminating, ‘ok’ abusing dumper to rest. Create. Cleanse. And so I’m turning up the music, sorting through my collection of spice, and singing along at full voice, no shooshing allowed…ok?

A taste of Pakistan

 

IMG_2041.jpgTandoori Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

The chicken:
1.5 kg chicken thigh fillet
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbs finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste

The salad:
1 bag of spinach leaves
1-2 punnets of cherry tomatoes
3 lebanese cucumbers, sliced
1 red capsicum, roasted
1/2 cup of walnuts
large spoon of mango chutney

Directions:

Score the chicken thigh fillets with a sharp knife. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together and add the chicken pieces, coating well. Leave to marinate for as long as possible, overnight if you can. Tandoori chicken is traditionally cooked in a high heat wood oven which cooks the chicken crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I chose to grill the fillets which worked well too, resulting in crispy flavoursome grill marks and soft, succulent meat.

For the salad, roast the capsicum under a hot grill until the skin starts to blacken. Remove, cool slightly, cover with cling wrap, and place in the refrigerator. Once cooled, remove the cling wrap and peel the skin off the capsicum, remove seeds and cut into thin strips. Toss all the ingredients of the salad and a large spoon of mango chutney together well. If mangoes are going cheap I suggest making your own chutney. As mangoes are well pricey at the moment I opted for a supermarket bought chutney. You can also add fresh mango for some extra colour. Cut up your chicken fillets into edible pieces and serve over the salad. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and salt to taste.

 

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Mango Lassi

Ingredients:

1 large ripe mango
150 mls cold whole milk yogurt
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Serve chilled and dust with a little ground cardamom. Add a little ice to the blend if you want it super chilly. Flavour bomb!

Sufficiently satiated. So much flavour in my mouth. Bad taste gone.IMG_2050.JPG

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 5: Chocolate fondant

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Blalerrrlalalerr

Are you suffering from dating exhaustion? Tired of swiping right to disappointment? Kissed too many amphibians in princely clothing?

Well then there was First Kiss.

Yes, First Kiss.  We met at church youth group.  He was in grade 11 and I was just finishing my year 12.  He had eyes the colour of turquoise, an infectious laugh, was tall, gawky and lanky, and was always up to mischief.

And so, it was teenage love.  We held hands in public, I went to watch him play basketball after school, we sat next to each other in church and stole glances during prayer time.  It was all foreplay.  Foreplay to the kiss.  It had been 3 weeks and my lips were burning at the thought of losing themselves to his.  It was a balmy December evening.  I had just watched him sweat it out on the basketball court and, whether he had or not, lead his team to victory.  We didn’t talk much.  Nothing needed to be said. The soft breeze caressed our quivering bodies as we came all the more closer.  As he leaned in towards me he smelt of salt, unbridled testosterone, and warm rubber.  My head tilted, my lips anticipating.  I was Sleeping Beauty ready to be awakened, a flower ready to bloom, a cherry ripe to be plucked.  Until……blalaalerlaalerlalallerlalala…lerrrrrr…his tongue violated my mouth, and ravenously took my first kiss virginity in one violently sloppy, spit drinking, tonsil quaking swoop.  My flower wilted.  I politely wiped my mouth and said goodnight, escaping to my toothbrush and teddy bear. Luckily my next kiss was an entirely different experience and my nightmares of being eaten by a giant tongue slowly receded.  Over the years I’ve discovered there are many types of kissing offenders.  And while some might learn after a carefully worded request, other offenders are unforgivable and need a lesson they won’t forget.  For example:

The kiss with accidental extras:  Have you ever found yourself mid kiss with an oral floatie that has been delivered on the tide of your kisser’s exertions?  Solution – Thank him for the unnecessary gift and offer him a glass of water, some floss, and a tic tac.
The darting in and out tongue kiss:  Have you ever had a tongue take you by surprise? It’s in and it’s out in a second, often with multiple repetitions?  This kisser hasn’t been tongue trained.  Solution – Try and grab on to his tongue with your teeth or if unsuccessful, batten down your lips and refuse entry.
The kiss followed too soon by the touching of the golden clam:  I find it remarkable how some guys have barely locked lips and they are already fiercely burrowing for treasure in our nether regions.  And usually through many layers of material that don’t feel so sensual pushed up and squished into our delicate bits.  Solution – In this instance one might slap that fossicking hand away, bite down hard on his lower lip, and ask him if he’s lost something.  Honestly, the Holy Grail deserves nothing but maximum respect.
The redirection kiss:  Now this is just rude.  Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an enjoyable pash only to feel your kisser’s hand spreading across the back of your head with a slow but steady application of pressure towards his peepee?  And the more you resist the more pressure is applied?  This perpetrator is only interested in your mouth being in one location.  Solution – Accidentally redirect the palm of your own hand to apply a good amount of downwards pressure to his crown jewels.

Further note: If someone is kissing you and you don’t approve of where the kiss is heading, remember it’s ok to say ‘no more’ to his mouth.  And if he doesn’t listen then make a move for the nearest exit.  It’s your mouth, it’s your body, it’s your decision.

So, how to get rid of the taste of that kiss gone wrong?  Put something warm, gooey, sweet, and deliciously evil in your mouth.

A taste of Chocolate

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Chocolate Fondant

Ingredients:

120 grams of butter, cut into small pieces
120 grams of dark quality chocolate
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
100 grams caster sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
cocoa powder to coat

Directions:

Heat up your oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Butter up the inside of 4 ramekins well. Place a teaspoon or so of cocoa in the ramekin and coat the butter by covering ramekin and giving it a good shake. Remove excess cocoa by tipping into next ramekin.

Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Melt, stir, and leave to cool a little.

Beat together the eggs, yolks, sugar and a pinch of salt until it turns pale and fluffy. Combine with the chocolate mixture and add the flour. Divide the tempting mix amongst the 4 ramekins. Don’t fill to the top as they will rise when cooking. If you are not planning on eating them immediately they can be refrigerated until cooking time.

Get them in the oven and cook for approximately 10 to 12 minutes….depending on the level of goo factor you are desiring. If ramekins are cold they will need a little longer. Once done, serve as quickly as possible as they will continue to cook. Perfect served with vanilla ice-cream. Now open it up and watch the tantalising eruption unfold before you.

Suggestion: Add a bit of orange zest to the mix if you want a touch of citrus.

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Bad taste gone.

happy endings in the kitchen Episode 4: Jerked Chicken

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You can do it baby

You know how some guys really get you down? How some dates and relationships can leave you feeling naked, afraid, and oh so confused? You know how some guys are just those guys? Those guys?

Well then there was Basic Vegan.

Yes, Basic Vegan.  We met in a bedding store.  We were vertical.  He was the salesman and I was the clueless customer.  And while he didn’t make a sale as such he should have been selling charm because he had it in abundance.  He accompanied me out of the store and descended the escalator alongside of me, staying close and attentive.  He remarked on my sparkling smile and compared the summer sun to the brightness of my eyes.  And by the time we were at the bottom of the escalator he had asked for my number and complimented me into a daze of submission.  He was a Jamaican raised in Britain, tall and manly with brooding eyes, had played football professionally, owned lips that looked soft and beddable, had long beautiful fingers, a wicked sense of humour and an unusual imagination, and knew all the right moves on the dance floor. Note: He also ate a strictly basic pH vegan diet (carrots were prohibited), religiously followed the teachings of a quack doctor who claims to have the cure for HIV and cancer, would say hello to passersby but only if they had dark skin, showed up late for everything, said ‘innit’ a lot, believed mucus was the cause of every known disease and cause of death, constantly reminded me of the evil of anything that went into my mouth that wasn’t basic or vegan, and liked to provide commentary and ‘cheer me on’ during intimate moments.

And so it was, something.  And so we started the game of will we or won’t we, a date here and a date there, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…. 6 weeks of a sort of relationship, innit!  Until….he disappeared.  The night had been planned and the scene had been set. He was to pick me up and take me to his place where he would make us dinner and it would be our very first official sleepover. He’d told me in detail about the romance that was to come on the phone that day and I’d eaten it all up.  And thoughts of those promises kept me warm while I waited alone in the cold on a Saturday night, for at least the first 15 minutes anyhow.  One hour passed.  No call was answered.  No text was acknowledged.  Perhaps basic Vegan had eaten a carrot and been hospitalised?  Or perhaps he had met a girl with eyes as sparkling as the ocean?   Or maybe he had sneezed and been caught in a volcanic eruption of his own mucus and couldn’t swim his way out.  Whatever the case I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth.  But I wasn’t going to spend my time grieving over a carrot fearing, bs preaching, pillow talking nutter.  And so, into the kitchen I escape to turn my unrealised Jamaican fantasy into an edible reality.  And yes, I can do it baby.

A taste of Jamaica

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Jamaican Jerked Chicken

Ingredients:

5 pounds chicken thigh pieces
2 cups distilled white vinegar, plus 1 teaspoon
2 cups finely chopped spring onions
1 Habanero or Jalapeño chilli, deseeded
1 red capsicum, hulled
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 teaspoons ground allspice
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Jamaican Barbecue Sauce:

1 1/4 cups tomato ketchup
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 spring onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
2-3 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons Jerk marinade (reserved from above recipe)
Jamaican hot chilli sauce, to taste

Directions:

Rinse the chicken pieces in the two cups of distilled vinegar.  Once rinsed thoroughly place the pieces in a resealable bag and set aside.

Put the remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar, spring onions, chilli, capsicum, soy sauce, allspice, allspice, bay leaves, garlic, salt, sugar, lime juice, thyme, and cinnamon in a food processor and give it a whizz.  Put aside 2 tablespoons of the marinade for the Barbecue Sauce recipe.

Rinse chicken pieces in cold water and dry off with paper towels. Return the chicken to the resealable bag and add the marinade.  Massage the bag to coat the chicken with the marinade, and refrigerate.  Leave overnight if you can to let the chicken absorb those flavours.

Grill the chicken on a barbecue or grill pan.  Serve with the Jamaican sauce, rice and a fresh salad.

The making of the Sauce:

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce the heat and stir over a low heat until the sauce thickens up a little, for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.  Leave to cool before serving.

There is a reggae working through my body.  Bad taste gone.

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This recipe is an adaptation of Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.

Happy endings in the kitchen episode 3: Spanakopita

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My name is not Dolores Jones

You know how some guys really get you down? How some dates and relationships can leave you feeling naked, afraid, and oh so confused? You know how some guys are just those guys? Those guys? 

Well then there was Beach Dick.

Yes, Beach Dick.  An online connection, I first saw him in his European speedos, honey coloured skin glowing, a grinning Greek god, stretched across the unspoilt sand of some exotic paradise, the waves seductively lapping at his groin.  Another profile picture captured the moment as he stepped off a yacht in a freshly pressed suit.  Wanker alert!  However, upon reading…and reading…and reading his rather wordy self description I took the risk to chat.  He insisted on taking me out to dinner and in spite of my reservations Cupid set up the first date.  He was 40 years young, was a bit of a babe, well traveled, seemingly educated, had lived overseas, enjoyed the arts and the finer things, loved good coffee, fancied himself a builder and part-time sketch artist, and lived on his own in one of the more hip suburbs of Melbourne.  Note: He also used the word ‘meretricious’ within the first five minutes of our date, corrected my pronunciation of an ancient Egyptian word within the first ten minutes, laughed a lot(!) at his own jokes (which weren’t even bordering on smile worthy), revealed that he had closed his online profile and expected that I would do the same, talked over the top of most of what I attempted to contribute, and looked at me rather resentfully when he mentioned for the second time that he would get the bill and it was his pleasure.

And so, it was hate.  I said no to the offer of a coffee catch up and thought the worst was behind me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  After a period of time away from the internet dating scene I decided to reactivate my account to see if things had improved in the world of endless choice.  Within a day I had an inbox from Beach Dick.  And it wasn’t a friendly hello.  It was a character assassination.  According to him I was a fraudulent, physically and emotionally unavailable, jaded harpie that was just looking for a free meal and an ego boost…After responding with a question as to where cocks like him were manufactured I blocked Beach Dick, hoping to never hear from him again.  But unfortunately only days later I received a message on my phone from an unknown number.  “Hello, I saw your profile and would like to spend some time with you.”  I promptly rang unknown number to enquire as to how he had contrived my personal details, only to discover that an online profile had been created under the username of Dolores Jones, advertising the services of Escort/Masseuse and detailing my real name, photo and mobile number.

I could feel the vomit rising and knew immediately that Beach Dick was responsible.  But I decided that I wasn’t going to waste any more energy on a wordy, self-important, psychopathic, loud-talking, misogynistic, bitter and twisted excuse for a man.  Retribution would be by food.  Victory in creation.  And so it is to the κουζίνα I escort myself to massage nothing more than a spinach leaf or two.

Further note: If someone degrades you, bullies you, attempts to threaten your dignity, or harasses you in any way  it isn’t of course as easily solved by cooking up a delicious meal.  In this case the best action is to report the offender to the police.  You don’t want this person to keep repeating such inexplicable behaviour or give them any reason to think it’s ok

A taste of Greece

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Spanakopita

Ingredients:

Filling:

2 lb. fresh spinach, washed, dried, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped                                                                                                                                                              10 spring onions, white and light-green parts only, finely chopped
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

15 to 20 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 tbsp milk

 

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade.

Mix it: Heat a 10-inch pan over medium heat.  Cook the spinach in batches until it is wilted and bright green in colour, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the spinach to a colander and squeeze out the excess moisture.  Now heat the oil in the pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until transparent.  Add the spring onions and cook until soft.  Stir that spinach in and then leave the mix to cool.  Once cooled stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt to taste.

Assemble it: Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil.  Place your first sheet of filo in the dish and lightly oil it with the pastry brush.  Layer the filo to cover the bottom of the dish and continue to lightly baste each sheet top with olive oil.  Continue to layer, using up to 8 sheets of filo, with a concentration towards the centre of the dish.  Top with the filling, spreading evenly over the filo base.

Finish it off: Now place remaining filo sheets over the filling, continuing to brush the top of each sheet lightly with olive oil.  Enclose that treasure of a filling in by lightly folding the edges of the filo pastry down the sides of the dish with the oiled basting brush.

Score the top of the pastry with a sharp knife into the size of the pieces you desire without cutting through to the filling.  Brush the scored edges with milk and it’s ready to bake.  Cook in pre-heated oven until the top is golden.  Cut out as scored and serve with fresh salad.

Eat that cheesy green goodness.  Bad taste gone.

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