happy endings in the kitchen episode 9: Pulled pork burgers

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Put it away

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

Well then there was SelfieJunkie.

Yes, SelfieJunkie.  There he was.  Online and looking fine.  Swipe right.  Match.  His photos showed him living life large in various states of larrikin action with friends.  He was tall, as statuesque as the David, with lucent skin, looking as though he had just stepped out of a male magazine shoot, and in his bathers he looked as though he had been chiseled for a Nike advertisement.  My breath was taken.  And so the conversation began.  It was nice.  A what-do-you-do?, what’s your favourite movie/food/music/colour? kind of getting to know each other, with a little mild flirtation.  It was safe.  Respectful.  Not too naughty or suggestive.  Not ringing of ‘guy seeking one night stand’ or ‘one hour stand’ as seems to be more on offer these internet dating days.  He was an engineer from America working in Australia on contract, loved cheesecake and staying in for movie nights, was funny and intelligent without being too cocky or self-important, seemed quite humble about his achievements, seemed expressive without being too poetic, manly without being overly macho, and very interested in planning our first let’s-get-together-and-eat-cheesecake date.  Note: He was also gym mad, spent 10 hours a week working out, and sent 8 selfies during our first conversation.  But it felt like he had most of the material to make a great fitting first date, at least.

And so, it was anticipation.  Hours passed.  Days passed.  A week passed.  Two weeks.  Deciding to take this bull by the horns I messaged SelfieJunkie to see if he still existed or if he lay trapped beneath a bar weight after eating too much cheesecake.  His response was immediate.  It started with a simple message “I’ve been thinking about you”.  But what followed was altogether unexpected.  SelfieJunkie was rather forward.  SelfieJunkie was standing to attention.  SelfieJunkie was missing his underwear.  I wanted to scream “Put it away!”  But it didn’t stop at just one blatant sexual image.  Unfortunately they kept on arriving, culminating in a photo of SelfieJunkie in the shower, hand on joystick in the middle of his own lonely climax. Human intimacy had reached a new low.  I had been visually violated.  Was this a mistake?  It certainly wasn’t a conversation, at least not one I started.  I felt like SelfieJunkie had taken his wang and slapped me into a state of nauseous disbelief.  Clearly the lets-get-together-and-eat-cheesecake was no longer an option.  But I didn’t know how or if to respond.  Would a middle finger salute suffice?  Or perhaps better to ask where he had been mugged, so an ambulance and fresh underwear could be organised.  Maybe I could make a set of coasters out of the photos and sell them online, or make a missing person’s poster with the headline “Have you seen this penis?”  Instead I sent a reply message “Well that’s a shame” and left him to ponder my meaning.

In what world was this ok?  As beautiful as he was I didn’t ask for a naked viewing and I most certainly didn’t ask to accompany him for shower handies.  Where is the respect or human dignity in plying someone with sexual images without their consent?  It’s not ok. It’s.really.not.ok.  Seeing him so aggressively stripped bare had left a very bad taste in my mouth.  This was going to require time, flavour, and beauty through creation. And these words, my own personal protest against selfie sexual harassment.

A taste of America

Pulledporkburger.jpegPulled pork burgers

Ingredients:

The pork:
2 kg pork shoulder
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 brown onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1.5 cups good quality lager
1.5 cups chicken stock

Barbecue Sauce:
2 cups tomato ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar

Coleslaw:
1 cup whole egg mayonnaise
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp celery salt
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 carrots, julienned
2 celery sticks, julienned
1 red onion, diced small
1/2 red cabbage, sliced thin
salt to taste
Burger buns to serve

Directions:

Remove excess fat from the pork.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Combine the cumin, mustard powder, coriander powder, brown sugar, and a good amount of salt and pepper to taste.  Rub over the pork, cover, refrigerate, and leave for a couple of hours.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  Heat vegetable oil in a roasting pan.  Seal and brown pork on all sides.  Remove and add onions and garlic.  Once onions are cooked add lager to the pan.  Reduce a little and then add chicken stock.  Return the pork to the pan over and cover with a good amount of aluminium foil.  Place in oven and cook for at least 4 hours and turn every hour.  When cooked the pork will pull apart easily with two forks.  The pan drippings can be used to moisten and flavour the pork further if you prefer.
For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer and thicken for an hour, stirring occasionally so the base doesn’t burn.
To make the coleslaw combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, zest, celery salt and salt to taste.  Mix through vegetable ingredients.
Grab some fresh burger buns or cook your own.  Layer the pork mixture, sauce and coleslaw on your bun and you have created a little bit of heaven for your tastebuds.

Loving my selfie with this one.

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 8: ricotta cheese & ricotta cheese tart

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I love to cock

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

Well then there was Facebookcheat.

Yes, Facebookcheat.  It all started with a simple friend request.  I had no idea who he was but his photo had me intrigued.  Confirm.  He was an actor, a ridiculously good looking version of Roberto Benigni, made a 3 day growth look desirable, had wild curly hair that was come-hither disheveled, used adorably incorrect grammar, wanted to chat about everything and anything, was inquisitive about my life and the workings of my mind, plied me with praise and encouragement, and was funny, witty, and so wonderfully creative.  Note: He lived in Rome, made grammatical errors that were sometimes bordering on ridiculous and seemed to be a convenient segue into a sexually charged conversation (eg during a conversation about culinary delights he revealed “I love to cock”), only ever called from the holiday apartment he managed, seemed uncontactable during his evening hours….and did I mention he lived in Rome??

And so, it was infatuation.  Texting to the late hours, waking up to good night messages, Skype calls that went on for hours lying side by side, and the beginning sketches of a European holiday and first time meet up.  I found myself humming ‘That’s Amore’ a little too often, started drinking copious amounts of stove-top coffee, ate Nutella with everything, and watched ‘A Roman Holiday’ and wept.  It had all the romance of a steamy novel and was all yet to be fully realised.  I was walking on marshmallow clouds, the world was full of new colours, my senses seemed to multiply and I spoke Italian in my dreams.  It was the kind of thing I’d been waiting for, unexpected, a little crazy, and exotic.

Five weeks of blissful absorption until I logged onto Facebook one morning to discover him tagged in a wedding album….and he was the groom.  What the f*#king F**K!!  I felt like projectile vomiting nutella vom all over his wild curly hair and 3 day stubble.  I was in such a state of shock I didn’t know how to react.  Part of me wanted to channel my inner Glenn Close of Fatal Attraction and really screw things up for him bunny boiler stylin’.  Instead I wrote a rather terse message about how the truth can set you free and clicked ‘unfriend’.  Because why would I waste any more time on a cheating, story-telling, social media stalking, big-haired, cock talking cazzo?!?  Time to make a Roman holiday of my very own, in my mouth.  Flavour awaits in la cucina.

A taste of Rome

IMG_0729.JPGRicotta Cheese

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt in a saucepan.  Using a food thermometer heat the milk to 190°F, stirring slowly to make sure milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Remove the pan from heat and add the lemon juice, stirring it through slowly a couple of times.  Leave it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheese or muslin cloth and place it over a large bowl.  Pour pan contents into the colander and strain for a few hours.  Store strained curds in an airtight container and keep in the fridge until use. Use the whey to make a stock, a milkshake, a hair rinse, or feed it to your plants.

 

IMG_0728.JPGRicotta Tart

Ingredients:

The crust:
2 cups plain flour
half cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 egg yolk
The filling:
1 pound ricotta
1 cup honey
3 eggs
half teaspoon lemon zest
A good squeeze of lemon juice
To serve:
Toasted pine nuts
morello cherries

Directions:

Combine sifted flour, sugar and salt.  Add the butter and rub through until it becomes like breadcrumbs.  Beat the egg and egg yolk separately and pout into the dry mixture and mix until combined.  Add a little cold water if still crumbly.  Wrap in cling wrap and place in refrigerator for an hour.
Set oven at 180 degrees Celsius.  Remove dough after chilling and roll out on a floured surface.  Aim for it to be an even thickness and larger than the dish you are transferring it to.  Transferring is the tricky part and don’t beat yourself up if it breaks into pieces when you do. Moisten your fingers with a little water and smooth into pan and up to the edges.  Return to fridge to cool for another 15 minutes.  Once cooled cover the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking stones or something that distributes weight across the pan evenly (I used dried split peas). Blind bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove paper and weights once done.
Whilst the pastry is blind baking make your filling.  Whisk the eggs separately.  Combine the ricotta, honey, juice and zest in a large bowl.  Add the eggs and stir until combined.  Pour mixture into your pastry case and return to oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the top is golden.  Serve with toasted pine nuts, morello cherries and double cream.

Oh!  Dio mio!  My tastebuds are singing.  Now that’s amore.  Bad taste gone.

 

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Happy endings in the kitchen episode 7: Rustic little Pasties

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 The trumpets shan’t sound

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

Well then there was FauxBF.

Yes, FauxBF.   I was but 22.  I had just made a fresh start with new housemates and a new home, a rustic little settlers cottage with loads of character and a shitty extension constructed of plaster board and corrugated iron.  Life was good.  An ideal blend of work, friends, and fun.  But I was pathetically forever aware of the gaping hole in the almost perfect picture that could only be satisfactorily filled by a suitable boyfriend. 

At the end of my first week in my new abode I decided to venture out to see a pianist friend performing in a concert.  And therein I spied and was introduced to a rather attractive man.  He was tall, thoroughly handsome, was majoring in trumpet, had an adorable left-sided grin, was passionate about music and motorbikes (meaning he was in touch with both his masculine and feminine side), and was a cool blend of charming and laid back flirtatious.  Note: he had also just broken up with his once ever only girlfriend, and hadn’t traveled outside of Adelaide his whole life, but other than that he seemed flawless through my rose-coloured fogged up senses. He also happened to be a close friend of my ivory tinkling friend. Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!  And before I knew it the three of us were headed to my rustic little cottage for after concert glasses of wine. To my shock and horror I found the place freshly burgled on our arrival. Suddenly rustic with character was more like squatter with trampy. And as I melted down into varied states of anger, grief, loss, and girlish fear I became even more aware of FauxBF’s manly, protective, comforting, and incredibly sexy presence. Apparently in my heightened emotional state Liberace had left the building.  It was just me, FauxBF, and his trumpet.  

And so, it was an instant relationship.  He moved in that night.  The man of the house.  No burglar alarm required.  I had my very own scarecrow.  Only he was a dream.  We’d go to work, arrange to be home at the same time for microwave dinners, listen to each other’s music, laugh a lot, have random water fights, and plenty of enthusiastic, youthful love-making.  I was in heaven.  My housemates were in hell. 

It had been two weeks of undeniable bliss and during the morning routine of discussing the day ahead, amidst cuddles and heavy petting, FauxBF mentioned that he had to make a stop by his once only ever ex-girlfriend’s place to collect some of his belongings.   As he kissed me tenderly on the tip of my nose goodbye I didn’t for a second imagine that it would be the last touch we shared.  But when he failed to return for toasted sandwiches, Villi’s pasties, and Neopolitan ice-cream that evening it became clear that I was just the bridge music before the key change and he only blew his born for once ever only. 

FauxBF never apologised or gave an explanation.   FauxBF never returned his freshly cut key.  FauxBF and his average trumpet were never to be seen again.  FauxBF clearly had testicles the size of a grain of sand.  But here, within these words, lies my opportunity to cleanse myself of such a smarmy, boyfriend faking, hero feigning, key stealing, hornblowing git.   So, in not so loving memory, to the kitchen I go to create a much improved version of a Villi’s pastey whilst listening to the god-like trumpet of Miles Davis, hmmm, a much improved version indeed.  

A taste of home

  
Rustic little pasties

Shortcrust pastry

Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour

125g butter, cut into pieces

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon chilled water 

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Mix the flour, salt and butter in a food processor.  Whizz until it turns into coarse crumbs and butter has blended through.  Add the egg yolk and water and whizz again until it forms a not too sticky dough. Add a little more water if not combining.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth.  Wrap in cling film and place in fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

The filling

The ingredients:

1 large sweet potato

1 potato

1 parsnip

1-2 carrots

2 onions, finely chopped 

1-2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Feta or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Egg for basting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Cut vegetables (minus the onion and rosemary) up into small cubes and place in baking tray.  Toss through a good slug of olive oil and season well. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until vegetables soften and crisp at the edges.

Meanwhile sauté the onion and rosemary in a pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil until translucent.  Add to the baked vegetables.

Reset oven to 180 degrees centigrade.  Divide pastry into half and roll out first batch on a floured surface.  Roll to a thickness of about 3 mm.  Divide into squares, as small or large as you would like your pasties.  Place a mound of vegetable mixture in the middle and fold over. Press edges together with a fork.  Baste with beaten egg and cook until golden.

Note: You could also add zucchini or red capsicum to moisten up the mix. I also added crumbled feta for a bit of sharpness. 

Little bundle of goodness in my mouth.  Bad taste gone.