HAPPY ENDINGS IN THE KITCHEN: Episode 19 – Ricotta and Blueberry Muffins

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The Elephant in the Room

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

Well then there was Mr Wheezy.

Yes, Mr Wheezy.  I was fresh out of university and in my first year of working as a nurse.  It had been a shock to the system.  10:30 pm clock-offs and 7 am starts.  Collecting mucus specimens, and inspecting prolapsed orifices.  I survived on coffee, bed-time port and an essential warped sense of humour.  And my newly acquired sisters.  All of us living the crazy life together.  So every now and then we needed to cut loose, and if anyone knows how to have a good time it’s an apron of nurses.  No, a better collective is required.  A hoot of nurses. 

On one particular summer’s night we gathered at a local Latin themed bar to drink our cares away.  We were a howling clutch of hens, under-slept and overstimulated, impregnated with alcohol, gossip, and mutual affection.  And as we relaxed into our second or fifth beverage a rather handsome couple of young men innocently wandered past. And so we heckled them into flirtatious conversation.  One rooster in particular caught my eye.  It was Mr Wheezy.  He was slight yet appealingly athletic, a trained gymnast with startlingly blue eyes, and a smile that would begin shyly at the corners of his mouth and spread slowly across a beautifully chiselled countenance.  Note: Even though he was well and truly legal he was a generation gap younger than my 31 year old self, so I attempted to quieten my hormones.  But as I gawked shamelessly our eyes met and a virtual message was exchanged.  We were swiping right in the flesh.  My temperature was rising.  Mr Wheezy and his friend retreated slowly, perhaps overcome by such a resplendent rabble of nightingales.  As I watched my new crush slip away into the peopled street I gushed uncontrollably.  I desperately wanted to kiss those slowly spreading lips.  And so my gang of sisters urged me to catch him up and lock lips.  Injected with a large dose of lust, emboldened by sangria and with very own cheering squad roaring, I tipsily pursued.  And upon reaching him I breathily expressed my desires.  Mr Wheezy consented.  There in the unflattering fluorescent street light with an audience of rowdy unknown restaurant goers, he kissed me.  And he kissed well.  His hand cupped my face and pulled me in closer.  I was gone.  Lost in the moment.  High on the ecstasy of the risk worth taking.  We exchanged phone numbers and I danced the air back to my now shrieking brood of nursies.

And so, it was seduction via sangria.  Within a few minutes the first text message was received.  And as my bevy and I danced into the night the message relay gained momentum and temperatures continued to rise.  I had to kiss those lips again.  It was as though the sangria had possessed me.  I had become ravenous for his gymnastical  body.  A crazed, horny, slightly stupido senorita.  Si.  So when I received a message  saying that he was exhausted and heading home, and that I was welcome to join him, I couldn’t contain my drunken libido.  Farewelling my knot of nurses I tumbled into the back of a taxi and headed to the address that Mr Wheezy had so kindly forwarded.  I was overflowing with happy excited excretions, my blood vessels dilating, my body lighting up like a pin ball machine.  I had visions of him lying naked across his bed while I sponged him into a state of delirious intoxication. 

When I arrived at his address I was surprised to discover a very dark and rather uninviting house.  I clumsily removed my hot and sticky self from the taxi and nervously sent a message to my host.  A screen door creaked and I saw the outline of my beckoning orgasm maker.  The symphony in my body returned with even more passion and I plunged into the darkness after him.  As I followed him he motioned for me to stay quiet.  “My parents are sleeping” he whispered.   My hormones screamed silently.  I ignored them.  He led me to his room where one candle glistened provocatively.  We fell onto his bed and started rocking and rolling and dipping and crashing….it was a water bed.  This time my stomach protested.  I ignored once more.  As the waves swelled our bodies paralleled the transformation, opening up to each other, ready to discover the ocean within.  But as I whispered in my not altogether stupid Sangria bitten state “Do you have a condom?” and he replied with the negative his ship was refused entry to port.  The thrashing waves lulled almost immediately into a disappointing ripple.  Mr Wheezy hadn’t thought ahead and neither had I.  This certainly did seem unfortunate.  A few frustrated caresses were exchanged as the weight of our alcohol induced exhaustion settled over our unsatiated bodies.  He blew out the lonely candle, whispered goodnight, kissed my lips once more and a hush entered the room.  There was a quiet pause.  But as my eyelids drooped I was suddenly interrupted by the most resonant and industrial snore I had every heard.  As it continued I gently nudged Mr Wheezy.  This only prompted the snore to become an incredibly high pitched wheeze, only to then transform into a whistle, then a rasp, a grunt, a snuffle, followed by a periodic stretch of teasing silence.  And then repeat.  What a disaster.  My fantasy had become an apnoeic nightmare.  I felt my nursing conscience tempted to wake and educate Mr Wheezy on his need for a sleep review but self preservation at this point was paramount.  I hatched a plan to escape the bellowing blackness.  A taxi would be my saviour.  But as I reached for my phone I discovered that it had like me also run dry.   

I lay there bobbing and pitching, an insomnolent island, as the remaining hours passed.  At the first kiss of the sun’s rays I roused Mr. Wheezy from his thunderous slumber.  As he dialed for a taxi I heard the creak of trodden floorboards.  Apparently the nightmare wasn’t yet over.  Bleary eyed and probably smelling like a moulding vineyard I accompanied my failed fantasy to the front door, only to be intercepted by his mother.  If ever there was a moment to define awkward.  I could feel her gaze burning through me, assessing my hungover, cradle-snatching self.  After a quick introduction I followed my toes to the front door and freedom.  As I gulped down the cool morning oxygen I vowed never to touch sangria again.

I sometimes think of Mr Wheezy and wonder if he still spends the night on a construction site in the middle of a raging ocean.  I hope for his sake that he is safely strapped to a CPAP machine atop a latex mattress.  Reliving this hot summer flunk has left me feeling dehydrated and low in blood sugar.  So enough tossing, heaving, hurling, deoxidising, rumbling, and wheezing!  Time to make a hangover fix.  And after that a nap on my very comfortable bed in my own peaceful house.

Blueberry and Ricotta Muffins
 

Ingredients:
Blueberry Muffins
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose or wholemeal flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup ricotta, preferaby freshly made, at room temperature
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose or wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3-4 tbsp soft unsalted butter
Instructions:

Bring the eggs and ricotta to room temperature.  Melt the butter and set aside.  Combine all the topping ingredients.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  Grease a muffin pan with butter.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla, and then the butter.  Add the dry ingredients and the blueberries to the wet ingredients and fold them through gently without over working.

Divide the batter into the muffin wells and then top each with the crumble topping.

Bake for 5 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius and then lower the heat to 180C for another 10 to 13 minutes. The muffins should  be golden on top and a knife that goes in and comes out cleanly.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out on a rack.

 Oh my happy days.  The crumble and blueberries are playing a symphony on my tastebuds.  These disappeared before I could even think about taking a photo of one escaping into my cakehole.  No disappointments here.  Just orgasmic flavour.  Yes, yes, yes!

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HAPPY ENDINGS IN THE KITCHEN EPISODE 18 : DARK CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY BROWNIES

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Some day my Prince will cum

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

Well then there was PorntobeAlive.

Yes, PorntobeAlive.  It was back in the day.  Back in the day when mobile phones were the size of a small dog and the internet was not yet a thing.  Back when happy pants and MC Hammer were a hot combination.  When I believed in the archetypal love of Juliet and Romeo, and Cinderella and her Prince Charming.  I believed with no shred of doubt in the existence of unicorns.  I was fresh out of a strict Christian upbringing, where “friggin’” was regarded a swear word and Harry Potter was the spawn of Satan.  A virgin to almost everything.  While all the cool kids were watching Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I was watching Anne of Green Gables, attending progressive dinners, and learning bible verses.

But all of that changed when my first year of university and first taste of alcohol coincided. For a fledgling singing student who sang Kumbayah for her entry audition, I very quickly became acquainted with a world I had never known.   A combination of new friends, ideas, expressions, beliefs, tastes, sounds, and feelings had me in a heady spin.  I was in love with life.  Completely born again.  Baptised by the arts.

By my second year of university my eyes were well and truly open, my skin shed, awakened from my slumber.  And there in the second row of my first class awaited my Prince Charming, PorntobeAlive.  He was dashingly handsome, confident and self-assured, and wickedly humorous.  A 6 foot 6 footballer turned operatic baritone with an affinity for puffing the magic dragon and knocking back bottles of whisky, he was the life of the party I had never been to.  And within weeks the party had truly started and it was wild.  And I had never experienced wild.  Long nights out with even longer mornings in.  We just lived and breathed each other.  Our long limbs entangled in a new and intoxicating language.  It was the closest I’d ever come to tasting rainbows.  Perfect harmony.

And so, it was true love. 

And it was the first true love.  The first in every sense.  I’d never “been” with a man or exposed my privates to anyone.  So for all I knew Porntobealive was a god in the bedroom with the sex drive of a flipping dolphin.  The truth was that we would roll around for approximately 20 minutes in a charged and increasingly excited state, after which he would spend about 2 to 3 minutes poking around with his love tool, and then, and then, and then…..…well that was it.  And I didn’t know any better.  At that stage I was indifferent to the existence of the clitoris.  All I knew was that he made me feel warm and fuzzy in my lady bits and I ignorantly thought that was enough.  Ha!

So within months we were living together.  Life became a little more subdued as we worked, studied, and discovered the more mundane things.  Friday night football on the box tv as he gesticulated wildly and I stared blankly at the tiny shorts running after the funny shaped ball.  Videos hired from the corner shop and ordered in barbecue chicken pizza.  It was our little heaven in a two and a half room cream brick.

On one particularly lazy evening PorntobeAlive was watching an episode of ‘The Footy Show’ whilst I picked at my toenails and extracted fluff from my belly button.  One of the featured stories was an interview with a female porn star promoting her latest Penthouse centrefold.  My inner church girl recoiled at the sight of her wasp stung lips and flotation device breasts.  I knew nothing of this culture.  PorntobeAlive also showed obvious disdain, declaring her “a turn off”, amongst other less eloquent things.  So imagine my surprise when I came upon a freshly purchased Penthouse hidden not so inconspicuously amongst a pile of sheet music.  And there was “turn off” lounging also not so inconspicuously across the centrefold in all her plastic glory.  Well I never.  Seriously, never.  All of that skin.  All of that bursting breast.  All of that hairlessness.  All of those neat and tidily nipped lady bits.  Sex and flesh slapping me rudely and unashamedly across the face.  I was shocked, repulsed, yet strangely curious.  This was another new world that I had stepped into.   Was this the kind of woman PorntobeAlive favoured?   Were vaginas supposed to look like that?  Should I book in a XXX wax asap?  Could I tuck my flaps in to make my vagina look like that?   So many questions.  So many insecurities.

When questioned regarding said Penthouse PorntobeAlive simply stated that he had bought the magazine out of curiosity.  In fact he hadn’t even looked through it and was surprised as to how it even ended up fraternising with his collection of Schubert art songs.  (Said Penthouse was in far superior company.)  According to him I was foolish and untrusting to suggest that he would be interested in such a thing.  Somehow I was at fault.  I mean I should have just been happy with my 2 to 3 minutes of penetration and zero climax, right??

Holding tightly onto my slippery Cinderella story I attempted a return to normality but a number of events that followed saw my palace come crashing down.  Firstly, on return from a weekend choir practice I discovered a wad of semen soaked tissues lying like a little gift atop my dresser.  How delightfully thoughtful.  Clearly PorntobeAlive had been thinking of me.  Hmmm.  That same day during a cleaning frenzy brought on by his little gift I noticed a number of dirty fingerprints on the wall leading to more dirty marks at the manhole.  Peekaboo.  My heart racing, my insecurities compounding, I made a dangerous ladder out of unsteady furniture and poked my head through with pocket torch in hand.  There!  In the dusty corner lay a guilty pile of magazines.  I precariously made my way up and grabbed the dirty hoard.  And after making it down with my neck intact and my dignity shattered, I perused the not so freshly purchased pages and reeled at the images of nude ladies in countless compromising positions.  So many exposed orifices, so little decency.  And as I tore through his mecca of quick fix pleasure, pink bits flying, I felt like I was choking on the growing silt cloud of our falling kingdom.

Well PorntobeAlive had some explaining to do.  And long story short, he admitted to his weakness for porn, begging for my forgiveness and promising to never use again.  In a state of bewildered and pathetic insecurity I stayed.  But true love had changed.  There were intruders in the bedroom.  Dozens of big bosomed women were amongst the bedsheets performing lewd acts whilst PorntobeAlive pointed his 2 minute tackle at them and sprayed forth like a hose to a fire.  At least that is what was happening in my mind.  Intimacy was dead.  The taste of rainbows gone.  And when I returned home one evening to discover the ceiling surrounding the manhole had caved in I realised I was in a battle that wasn’t worth fighting and was never to be won.  I abandoned the scene of the crime for a corner store chocolate fix.  As I was paying at the counter the owner mentioned that PorntobeAlive had a long overdue video that needed to be returned asap.  Upon asking him the title he looked up from the loans notebook with a smirk and uttered the unforgettable words “Debbie does Dallas: The Next Generation”.  As I consequently inhaled the chocolate I realised my prince had turned back into a frog, and felt a strange longing for a world of Anne of Green Gables and  Kumbayah.

Now these days I am a little more wise of the world and realise that porn is a very present theme in many people’s lives and I have no judgement of that.  I also have a much better understanding of a man’s penchant to fiddle with his fiddle.  But wouldn’t it save a lot of time and emotional wastage if people were upfront with their desires and sexual habits?  If PorntobeAlive had come clean about his need for 30 second intimate moments with naked paper ladies it would have for me.  But enough of this pencil pulling, seed spilling, smut hoarding, early ejaculating, clitoris failing, unicorn slaying, fantasy obliterating fool.  Time to put him and all of his demons to sleep for an eternity.  He shall be ‘Sleeping Ugly’.  In the meantime I will set to constructing a palace to dizzy my tastebuds and create a real and satisfying foodgasm.

 

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies


Ingredients:

300g Green and Black’s 70%  dark chocolate broken into pieces

250g salted butter

400g light brown sugar

4 large eggs

50 g cocoa flour

140 g plain flour

200g fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20 x 30cm baking tray tin or line with baking parchment. Place the chocolate, sugar and butter in a saucepan over low heat, and stir through once melted. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs and slowly stir into the melted chocolate mixture once it’s cooled. Fold through the sieved flour and cocoa. Stir in half the raspberries, empty mixture into the baking tray, and then scatter the remaining raspberries across the top. Bake for 30 mins on the middle shelf until the edges are looking crunchy and the middle is still moist.  Cook a little longer if you prefer a brownie that is firmer than moist.  Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

OH GOD, OH YES, GIVE ME MORE.  These are so good that I’m tasting rainbows whilst  flying through the sky on the back of my very own unicorn.

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Happy endings in the kitchen episode 17:Brazo de Reina

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Preach not to me

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

Well then there was LookingforRecruits.

Yes, LookingforRecruits.  We met online.  A tranquil Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do than shop for a boyfriend.  His picture caught my eye first.  Cheeky smile, three day growth, dimpled, playful dark eyes.  And the conversation flowed like cheap easily drinkable champagne.  Within an hour a first date of pub beers and live metal was arranged, with the odd request that I wear flat shoes.  Height envy alert.  But the date was locked in and I arrived comfortably wearing a vintage sequinned mini and tee with my newly acquired pair of Mexican flat-heeled ankle boots.  He was funny, sweet, a little wicked, Colombian in background with a fierce determination to teach the greater community to spell Columbia (ie Colombia) correctly, a tanned and dishy Latino with a ridiculously sexy accent, he was a musician who had traveled through Melbourne and couldn’t bring himself to leave, and now worked in construction fitting music in around the edges, and his slightly shorter stature was negligible considering the electric energy he exuded and the buzz that vibrated between us.   Two or three jugs of beer, many hysterical laughs and increasing flirtatious banter later we moved on to the next pub for a two person thrash band and a couple more cold ones.  Ecstatic, full of yeast, slightly deaf, and lustfully clinging to each other we finished the night in my bed making thrash music of our own.

And so, it was beer and music fuelled infatuation.  The following morning, groggy and dry-eyed, we recovered with a fatty breakfast and strong coffee.  Good conversation, affectionate touch, and sugar replacement.  Bliss.  Within a couple of days he was again at my abode and this time for dinner.  We listened to music for hours while he strummed his guitar, we danced to bachata, and fell asleep entwined in the summer heat.  Our third date was a lazy Saturday afternoon of couch lying, sorting through favourite musical tracks, and discussing all sorts.  During the afternoon LookingforRecruits broached the topic of conspiracy theory and it soon became clear that it was more than a casual interest to him.  In his world such phenomena as the Illuminati, fluoride mind control, chemtrails, and the possibility of hanging with Elvis and Princess Di were more real than reality itself.  Being a little naive on the subject I agreed to watch a documentary recommended by LookingforRecruits.  It was fascinating if not a little far-fetched and led to many more discussions on a number of occasions, interspersed with copious amount of music, food, laughter and mutual like.  But as the weeks passed by there seemed to be less flirtation, less affection, and nearly zero mattress dancing.  A little confounded I decided to bring up the ‘what is this?’ subject the next time we met.  And when I did I became even more confused.  LookingforRecruits suggested that we move in together.  And when I asked under what circumstances we would co-exist he replied “good friends that have fun”, expressing a really vague position on commitment.  Even though it was foolish, part of me entertained the idea.  Clearly I was crazy about this guy as my brain had ceased to function.

A little perplexed on what to do next I accepted an invite to join LookingforRecruits and his friends on a Saturday night out.  It was a blast.  And I felt like his girlfriend.  He held my hand, we danced together, he stroked my leg as I sat beside him, regularly checked in to see that I was ok and happy to stay, and ended the night entangled once again.  But then on the next few occasions there were again mixed messages.  A cuddle here, a handhold there, but no more kissing or clotheless sleepovers.  A consistent theme did remain however.  Conspiracy theorising in conversation abounded, and LookingforRecruits seemed on a mission for me to become more of a believer.  I knew the time was approaching to put an need to this non-relationship as it was ripping my heart out and Romeo was leaving me so unsatisfied.

On our final meeting we met at the beach together with a couple friends of his.  It was unbearable.  His friends were all over each other in love and there we were with a proverbial pillow wedged between our half naked bodies.  I felt ridiculous.  Time. to. quit.  But when I poured out my heart to him, revealing my inability to friend zone him he didn’t seem upset.  Just disappointed.  And not a ‘disappointed to see you go’ kind of disappointed.  It was more of a ‘I’m disappointed in you’ kind of disappointed.  And then it dawned on me through my infatuation drugged haze.   I had failed him as a student.  He believed himself the messiah and he had lost his disciple.

But enough of this conspiracy preaching, intimacy abusing, accent flirting shortass. Time for a real Columbian, I mean Colombian treat.  I’m going to whip and beat and smear and bake and create.  Ah, the religion of food.  The divine.

A taste of Colombia

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Brazo de Reina

Ingredients:
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain flour
400 mls cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
10-15 strawberries, sliced
1 tsp honey

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a buttered lipped baking tray with baking paper and grease the paper.
Separate the eggs into two small bowls. Beat the yolks until pale and then slowly add the sugar whilst beating. Then beat the whites until stiff. Slowly add the flour to the yolk mixture and combine. Now fold through the whites. Spread evenly across the buttered pan. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Leave to cool.
Whip up the cream and icing sugar until thick. Slice the strawberries into a bowl and drizzle the honey over the top of them.
Spread the cream over the top of the cooled sponge and scatter with the strawberries. Slowly roll the sponge from one end to the other. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

I served this cake with fresh fruit tea. To make the tea boil 3 cups of water in a saucepan and add a cup of fresh strawberries, half a cup of blackberries and 15 fresh mint leaves. Let the concoction simmer for a few minutes and then take off the heat. Add honey to taste.

Deli!  I’d consider worshiping a strawberry if it preached to me.

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My housemate, who has an insatiable appetite, gourmandised my Colombian treat before I had the opportunity to take my food porn selfie.  Oh well, another strawberry will do me just fine.

happy endings in the kitchen episode 14: Beef Panaeng

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In control

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

Well then there was MyOwnPersonalSlave.

Yes, MyOwnPersonalSlave.  I had been traveling though Europe and had found myself on a train from Milan to the soul of Germany, Berlin.  The sky was endless blue and the view from my lowest class window was spectacular and ever-changing.  At some point I became aware of the gentleman sitting opposite me who was partially committed to reading the book in his hand between taking frequent glances at the same accelerating landscape.  At one point our captured glances met and a timid but fascinating conversation ensued.  “Your strongly featured face is really quite captivating, I’d like to paint it” he said shyly.  It makes my gag reflex spring into action when I say it out loud now but at that moment I was flattered and intrigued to know more of my traveling partner.  He was of Thai background but had lived in Europe since the age of four, an artist resident in Berlin, he was a painter and photographer with a passion for mixed forms and the animalistic representation of the human body, in love with nature and untamed environments, he was articulate to a tee, with beautiful eyes that held a gaze so intensely, a smaller frame that suggested kindness and gentility, and expressive, creatively driven hands.  Note: I wasn’t entirely sure if his hair was real or if he was wearing a hairpiece and felt an uncomfortable urge to tug at his hairline for most of our conversation.

And so, it was curiosity.  We ordered bad train coffee and delved into each other’s minds, discussing our love of travel and culture, the smell of rain on freshly cut grass, our mutual excitement at lightning storms and cracking thunder, and our shared delight of custard tarts and anything that comes with pastry.  It was sweet and engaging and never once crept into flirtatious or suggestive territory.  And as we chattered on he once again referred to being captivated with my ‘strong’ face and requested to paint me if I would so do him the honour.  I was inwardly glowing at the offer and gave him my phone number so we could arrange a time to meet once in Berlin.

But from that moment on the conversation seemed to take a different direction.  It felt disconnected and tangential, as though he was pre-occupied with other thoughts.  He asked questions about Australian wildlife, expressing his fear of spiders, snakes and most of all crocodiles, whilst pointing his toes and waving his hands fearfully, suddenly turning Broadway.  His voice seemed to have risen in pitch and volume and he was gesticulating all over the place.  I wondered if it was the coffee or perhaps something else had made him nervous.  But after a slight pause he posed a rather brash and altogether unexpected question.  “I have to ask, are you a domina?”…”I’m sorry, a what?” I queried.  “A domina, BDSM?, dominatrix?”  When I responded with a quick negative he looked thoroughly downcast.  “Why?” I asked, slightly aghast.  “Because you look like one and you would be so good at it, and I would like to be your slave”.  I laughed and spluttered a little coffee spit, and felt my gag reflex spring into action.  Excusing myself immediately I rushed to the bathroom and hid there for the rest of the journey until it was safe to disembark.

My mind boggled.  At which point did the mood turn from custard tarts to chains and bondage?  Was my face betraying my emotions and was it constantly set in a steely, whip-yielding countenance?  I certainly had trouble looking in the mirror for a few days following the strange encounter.  But thankfully he never called and I escaped any further contact with someone who only envisioned me in latex, thigh highs and ready to deliver a world of pain and suffering.  My slave indeed.  Although, I still do find myself wishing that I had given that hairline a good tug, so perhaps there is a little domina in me after all.  Enough said.  The only thing I’m interested in dominating is a knife, some delicious ingredients, a couple of pans, and the hand that feeds me.

A taste of Thailand

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Beef Panaeng

Ingredients:
1 kg beef oyster blade, beef cheek or chuck steak
4 cups coconut milk
3 cups coconut cream
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 to 3 long green chillies, deseeded
3 kaffir lime leaves
Thai basil leaves to garnish
Paste:
4 tbsp peanuts
7 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked & drained
1 tsp finely chopped coriander root
1/5 tbsp chopped galangal
1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
2 tbsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp chopped red shallot
1/2 nutmeg, pounded and roasted
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Slice the beef and rinse in cold water. Pat dry. Bring 4 cups of coconut milk to the boil and add the beef and reduce to a simmer. Leave to simmer for two hours until tender.
In the meantime get the paste done. Boil the peanuts in a saucepan of water for about 30 minutes. Combine with all of the other ingredients in a food processor and blend to a paste.
Once the meat is cooked heat the coconut cream in a deep pan and add 4 tablespoons of the paste and stir through. Once fragrant add the sugar and fish sauce. Now add the braised beef. Add a little of the braising coconut milk to taste and season with salt, palm sugar and fish sauce to taste. Add the chilli and lime leaves and leave to heat through for another couple of minutes. Add vegetables that you might like to accompany the beef. I used red and yellow capsicum, and broccoli. Serve with a garnish of thai basil leaves, roasted peanuts and a bowl of jasmine rice.

Exotic flavours in my mouth.  Love you long time Beef Panaeng!

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This recipe is a take on David Thompson’s Beef Panaeng

 

 

 

happy endings in the kitchen episode 12: Irish Guinness Stew

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No luck with this Irish

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

Well then there was NearlyKilledMe.

Yes, NearlyKilledMe.  Saturday night and it was a party.  For a one year old.  Hosted by a close friend it was one of those gatherings busy with screaming children, family, friends of family with more screaming children, and an endless supply of fairy bread and creaming soda.  I felt naked childless, and nervously aware of my tendency to use crass humour and drop the f-bomb.  Not a good mother figure.  I was standing alone, avoiding soda-foaming-at-the-mouth children, a piece of fairy bread in hand and a glass of wine in the other when I heard a humoured voice from above, “interesting combination”.  I looked up and up and up to where the voice fell from.  He was tall.  Very tall.  He stood at 6 ft 7, a gentle giant and a work colleague of the host, a chef by trade who preferred eating toast and yogurt on his nights off, he was a motorbike enthusiast and dog lover with shoulder length sun streaked curls and clear celestial blue eyes who spoke lovingly of his family and desperately longed to have a family of his own, and spoke proudly of his Irish heritage but had sadly lost any trace of an accent to the Australian surf at the age of eight.  Note: He had just been in an on-off-on-off relationship with a woman with two small children, and his eyes may have sparkled a little and his brow may have creased a tad when he talked about them.  But we talked and laughed and made our very own party.  And before we knew it there was not a frankfurter, party hat or screaming child in sight.  There was a spare bed though and we decided to share it, fully clothed, still full of conversation and slightly in awe of what we were discovering.  It was a largely sleepless night but I awoke entangled in his long branchlike arms feeling invigorated with a heart ready for love.  And with details exchanged we planned to meet again within the week.

And so, it was the beginning of something special.  My phone became my heartbeat in the days that followed as we shared practically every living moment with each other by text, counting down the seconds until we saw each other again.  He even opened a Facebook account so we could have another point of contact.  Ah, infatuation.  And the date was to be a surprise.  He would pick me up at six and take me to an unknown secretive destination.  I was dizzy with excitement.  So when he arrived on his motorbike with an extra helmet I nearly lost my pelvic floor.  I’d never pillioned before but I was so willing to try for my Irish giant.  Little did I know of the journey ahead and how unprepared I was for it.  It was nearly two hours on an open road in 56km/hour winds wearing no more than a pair of jeans and a lightweight jacket, nearly being blown into oncoming traffic, chilled to the very core, and clinging on for dear sweet life.  And our point of arrival was the same place we had met.  Only this time there were no screaming children and there was a hot meal and a bottle of wine waiting.  The first words out of NearlyKilledMe’s mouth were “man, I thought we were going to die”.  My heart pounding I was in a state of wired shock, almost convinced by the joyful adrenaline coursing through my body that I’d just had a good time but realising as my heart slowed and clarity returned it was just because I was simply still alive.

It was no surprise that the wild weather inhibited us from returning until the following morning, and so another sleepover was on the cards.  Heart rates normalised, nuzzled by wine and good food we found ourselves lying once again in the same bed.  But the rough ride had created an awkward tension between us and sleep was preferable to talk.

The ride home was far less chaotic but memories of the night before still made me cling a little desperately by the knees.  We parted on good terms and he scooped me into his branches, promising to think of a way to eclipse the memory of our first nightmarish bike ride.  Would he cook for me?  That could potentially put us back on the love track.  Or perhaps a trip to the beach with his dog followed by home-made cocktails and a massage?  My mind was running with it.  But then I noticed as the day went on that my phone had lost it’s heartbeat.  And the following day it was flat-lining.  I checked Facebook and discovered that NearlyKilledMe had acquired a number of new friends.  Trying to resist the panic that was setting in I stayed busy for another day before attempting to make contact.  After writing and deleting multiple text possibilities I went a little stalker and checked in on Facebook again.  Only this time he had some fresh action on his page.  It was a simple message, four little words, but those four little words eclipsed the memory of that nightmarish bike ride.  “I love you babe”.  Apparently the ex was not so much of an ex anymore.  Her message seemed to confirm it.  All I can say is in that moment I hoped that all of that clinging for dear life by my knees pillioning had ruptured his testicles and rendered him sterile.  But I’m not going to let a rebounding, date spoiling, slightly balding, toast eating, promise-failing L-plater get the better of me.  He needs to be sent to the jacks.  But first I need to get me a pint of Gat and escape to the kitchen to create something tasty to put in my mouth and warm my belly.

A taste of Ireland

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Irish Guinness Stew

Ingredients:

800g chuck steak
3 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 sprigs of thyme
1.5 cups chopped mushroom
8 small shallots
butter for cooking
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup Guinness beer
2 cups beef stock
sugar to taste
1/2 cup extra beef stock

Directions:

Cut up your steak into large cubes and toss with flour, salt and pepper.  Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to a deep saucepan and brown off the beef in batches.  Once cooked set aside and add onion to the pan allowing it to soften.  Add four sprigs of fresh thyme and heat until fragrant.  Then add the carrots and tomato paste and stir through.  Pour in the Guinness, stock, and worcestershire sauce.  Leave to cook on a low heat until the meat softens.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add a little sugar if you would like it sweeter.

In a separate pan sauté the mushrooms with a little butter and olive oil and the remaining sprig of thyme.  Season with some salt.

Place your shallots and a little butter in another pan and cook over a low heat until just browning.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup beef stock and cover with a lid.  Cook until soft.

Add the mushrooms, shallots, and celery to the beef mixture.  Leave to cook for another 15 minutes.  Serve with hot potato mash.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  That is good.  Bad taste gone.

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Happy ending in the kitchen episode 11: Empanadas

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Always ask or you’ll never know

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

Well then there was FailedtoDeliver.

Yes, FailedtoDeliver.  I first spied him at my local markets.  It was a 1 pm brunch kind of day.  I was weary from a boozy night out and probably still smelling a little beery.  But then there he was, silver jug in his right hand, left hand firmly gripping the foaming knob, masculine energy abounding, dominating the espresso machine.  As I approached the counter to put in my order his gaze lifted and I was zapped by his undeniable electricity.  “Hhhello, hhhow are hhhyou today?”  His voice was thick with a sexy Spanish accent, his eyes like pools of rich dark chocolate that I wanted to dip my senses in, lips that looked both angelic and devilish, tousled playful hair that was tempting me to be tugged, and wore a simple  blue T-shirt with jeans that promised a rippling, pulsing world of beauty beneath.  Blood pressure behave!  I could barely muster a reply in my state of unexpected arousal.  “Hhhello”….oh shit no, I’d just done the completely unacceptable empathetic accent thing.  Clearing my throat I tried to reclaim the moment and put in my caffeinated order, blushing wildly.  But he seemed strangely curious and we chatted coyly over the squeal of the frothing milk, and within five minutes it felt like we had given each other the green light.  All systems go.  He was from Madrid, a masseuse by trade, was yoga mad, loved festivals and didn’t go anywhere without his guitar and cahon, and had a real passion for cooking, and worked at a weekend market stall that sold his culinary creations.  Note: He also used the words universe, soul, energy, spiritual, shine, and peace at least twice during our first encounter.  But as I wrote my number on a scrap of paper and passed it to him as requested, I could feel a surge of some kind of supernatural spark pass between us.  Had I been converted so quickly?

And so, it was sexual infatuation.  Our first date was spent in a corner bar that sold boutique wines and encouraged intensely spoken, low-toned conversation that occurred within a centimetre of each other’s body.  Wrapped up in his smell, his sweet breath on my face whilst the wine hummed through me.  It was bliss.  Our second date was a 9 course meal, cooked by him in his eclectic messy kitchen.  I was in tastebud heaven.  My senses were flying off the charts.  It was the best aphrodisiac I had ever experienced.  And I may have given him permission to enter my kingdom of heaven as a result.  And he came to glorify me.  I was his goddess and he devoutly worshipped at my temple all night, returning again and again to satisfy me.  But in the midst of our intimacies he never quite managed to finish….er, go to heaven, deliver his future children, get over the mountain, serve up a protein shake, had his ‘oh shi…’ moment.  It was new to me but I let it go and happily took my 6 or so orgasms without questioning his empty share.  But as we continued to see each other so his manhood continued to refuse to ‘deliver’.  Three weeks and counting, I was starting to feel selfish and oddly unsexy, in spite of my constant stream of orgasmic sustenance.  So I asked.  His answer was more of a set of conditions.  As it happened he practiced orgasmic abstinence with “all” of his sexual partners, revealing the only way he could truly climax was through the act of domination.  Then and only then could we be exclusive, as I would truly belong to him.  He then went on to describe the various acts and devices he liked to use on his chosen submissive but by then I could hear nothing but a buzz in my head.  My blood pressure was once again elevated but not from wild excitement.  More, nauseous panic.  My well had dried up and my vault was locked.  It seemed odd to me that a yoga loving, laid-back, guitar strumming type could only really want me hanging from a ceiling.  I made a hasty goodbye after expressing my inability to comply and went home to watch Disney films and hug my hot water bottle.

How had I missed this?  Or perhaps I had subconsciously known I was toying with fire and wanted to warm my fingers.  Each to his own.  He had his preferences and I had mine.  But the image of being tied and spanked and whipped into submission had left a rather rancid taste in my mouth.  Hmm, culinary gods I’ll need you on this one.  And this time I expect a happy ending.  Olé!

A taste of Spain

Empanadas

Ingredients:

The dough:
1.5 cups plain flour
1 cup corn tortilla chips, blitzed
1 tsp baking powder
salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water

The filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound beef mince
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1/2 cup stuffed green olives, chopped
1 red potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1.5 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock

Egg wash for basting

Directions:

Blitz the corn chips in a food processor until they are ground down. Mix together with flour, baking powder and a good dash of salt. Add the softened butter and mix through thoroughly. Slowly add the water until the dough reaches a good consistency, not too dry or too sticky. You may not need all of the water or you may need a little more. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.

Heat olive oil in pan and fry onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Now add the beef mince and cook through. Place the remaining ingredients in the pan and cook through, adding the chicken last. Season the delicious mixture to taste.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide to roll out. I used a large freezer bag which I cut down the sides and then placed the dough in between the folds to roll cleanly. Or you can just use a floured surface. Roll out to around 1/4 centimetre thick. Press out circular pieces of dough. Place some of the beef mixture in the centre of each and fold pastry over, pressing the edges together. Brush the tops of each pastry with egg wash, ie one egg and 2 tbsp of water beaten together. Cook in an oven at 180 degrees centigrade for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until golden. Serve with a lime and coriander mayonnaise or just some good old fashioned tomato sauce. ñam ñam!

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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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