happy endings in the kitchen episode 15: Pizza!

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Pleasure me not

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

Well then there was Badpickupline.

Yes, Badpickupline.  Now I’ve heard some pick up lines in my time but this one really takes the prize.  It was a regular kind of Friday night and a group of friends and I had ended up at our favourite local Italian eatery, ravenous post university.  Our boisterous, hungry behaviour seemed to catch the attention of one of the baristas.  A particularly cute barista.  And when I approached to order a second round of drinks he made sure he was there to take my order and flirt with an abundance of charm and sweetness.  He indicated that he had seen me many times previously and had hoped to get to know me better.  Dinner arrived but our eyes often met across the room whilst I was stuffing my face with pizza and laughing operatically over second glasses of wine, and by the time dessert arrived I had been invited on an after dinner digestiv.  Now while it was bordering on inappropriate first date conditions I decided that 9:30 pm was just acceptable and what harm could one more alcoholic beverage really do?

And so, it was a cosy glass of getting to know you wine.  He was of Italian background, born in Australia, came from a large family, loved his soccer and his mamma, worked as a tradesman when he wasn’t playing the charming barista, enjoyed festivals and any music that made him want to dance, and embraced any opportunity for travel and adventure.  Note: He also said ‘fully sick’ and ‘ohmagod’ at regular intervals.  We shared a particular love of Italy and spoke at length about our travels there.  Some of Badpickupline’s family still resided in Naples and he coyly hinted at taking me there for a holiday.  His eyes sparkled like the waters of Porto Vecchio as he talked of his nonna, endless days of sun and sea, giant plates of home cooked pasta, and family together under one happy roof.  The memories played out lovingly over his fine face and I was swept away to the Italian coast.  It was all very lovely, relaxing, and a little bit romantic.

So when it came to midnight and the clock struck twelve I regretfully murmured that it was probably my time to go.  Looking a little forlorn he offered to drive me home to save on the taxi fare but I declined, thanking him for the offer.  He then attempted to coerce me into another drink with all the charm and persuasive tone he could muster.  Even though I was wildly tempted, I resisted.  And as I reached forward to pick up my purse he took my face and kissed me, softly at first but then with such an intense passion it put my head into a disorienting whirl of joy.  I was still spinning when I realised he had spoken just after our kiss and I giddily asked him to repeat himself.  I noticed something new was lurking behind his eyes, as though he was an animal approaching it’s prey, and as he repeated himself it looked as though he was about to pounce.  “If you give me a head job, I could pleasure you” he said……..I beg your pardon??  I was speechless, mystified, clueless.  I silently wept as I saw the tide wash over the promise of my romantic Naples holiday.

I was confused.  In what world had that line ever worked for him?  And how could it immediately go from a passionate kiss to a sexual business proposal?  And why in that proposal was I having to do the job first?  Ladies pleasured first.  Please.  But I’m certainly not taking any favours from such a sweet-talking, prey hunting, slang dependent, romance dispelling mamma’s boy.  Time to pleasure myself…..in the kitchen…in a completely non-sexual way.

A taste of pizza

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Napoletana dough with topping of choice

Ingredients:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
230 mls water
olive oil for work surface

Directions:

Add all the dry ingredients and mix to distribute, with a spoon or electric mixer with paddle attachment.  Add water and stir through until all the flour is absorbed, for 1 to 2 minutes.  Let it rest for about 5 minutes and then mix for another minute.  Add a little more water or flour as needed.  It should feel soft and tacky to the touch.

Rub your work surface with a little olive oil.  Scrape out the dough mix on to the surface.  Imagine the dough as a square shape.  Take one corner and stretch it out and away from the centre of the square and then fold it back into the centre.  Repeat with each corner, so it becomes a ball.  Take the bowl and place it upside down over the dough and leave it for 5 minutes.  Repeat this process of stretch and folding and resting three times.  Each time the dough should become firmer and less sticky.  After the fourth stretch and fold return the dough to a bowl and cover until it doubles in size, for approximately 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees centigrade.  Once ready take a third of the dough and turn out on to lightly floured surface.  Stretch the dough out carefully using the backs of your hands and turning in a circular motion, manipulating the edges of the dough outward with your thumbs.  Let it rest a minute or so once it starts to feel tough to stretch.  Continue until the dough is approximately 25 cm in diameter.

Take your pizza base and carefully lay it on a pizza stone or an overturned baking tray.  Cover it with the ingredients you so desire and place in the oven and cook until golden brown at the edges, for approximately 15 minutes.  Delizioso!

Topping suggestions: As a base for my first pizza I used a tomato sauce.  I whipped it up in a saucepan using a little olive oil, half a clove of garlic, a tin of tomatoes, 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar, a sprinkle of dried oregano and basil, and salt and pepper.  I smeared the sauce (not too generously) across the pizza base.  For the topping I used a combination of bacon, tomato, mozzarella, kalamata olives, onion, and roast capsicum.

For the second pizza I smeared cream cheese across the base (goats cheese would be yum too).  For the topping I mixed a little olive oil, a crushed garlic clove, and chopped mushrooms in a hot pan.  I then added some spinach until it wilted and seasoned to taste.
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Um, this is the kind of flavourful favour I enjoy!

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 13: Cinnamon scrolls with bacon and maple syrup icing

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Secret Mission Fail

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

Well then there was SecretAgent.

Yes, SecretAgent.  I had been traveling around the world and had recently arrived in Toronto, Canada to visit and stay with a close girlfriend, her husband, and two small children.  They were situated outside the city in a beautiful log cabin nestled by trees of every glorious colour, and surrounded by bulbs bursting forth with happy flowers.  We spent a relaxing few days or so catching up, talking life, drinking hot chocolate, and being entertained and exhausted by small children.  But on the last day of my stay we weren’t to stay in by the fire.  My girlfriend’s husband was an army officer and I had been invited to join them in Toronto for the annual army ball.  It was a big, posh event with fancy food, flowing champagne and visiting English royalty.  Dressed to the nines in borrowed black velvet that clung to every part of my terrain I was feeling excited for the night ahead.  And I had a pre-arranged date.  He was the best friend of my friend’s husband, personable and charming, attractively sharp and debonaire, looking like a newly initiated member of the rat pack in his his freshly pressed Italian suit, he worked as an undercover agent and had just returned from a mission in Afghanistan, his disguise beard shaven off only that day, and his liveliness and vigour for life was infectious to everyone around him.  Note: He was also married, and had left his wife and newborn baby at home for the evening.

And so, it was nothing.  The night started with all of us sharing a glass of champagne, engaged in great conversation and eating any of the hors’d’oeuvre that wandered past temptingly on a plate.  But as we sat down at our designated table and found ourselves next to each other SecretAgent unveiled his secret agent.  He was full of wild stories, devilish humour, and the energy he was giving out was anything but that of a taken man.  He paid keen attention to my wine glass, making sure to refill it if it started looking thirsty, always keeping his focus entirely on my person. And as we started on dessert his focus only intensified.  “Where did you come from?”, “you are breath-taking”, “where do you travel to next? Maybe I could meet you there?”.  Thinking that SecretAgent was being a little forward and perhaps forgetting the existence of wifey I had a quick word of concern with my friend.  She expressed surprise at SecretAgent’s bold manner but was convinced that his intentions were friendly, and promised to keep an eye out for any frisky naughtiness in the meantime.

By this stage I was feeling very tipsy and slightly euphoric, so I decided to relax and keep having fun.  But at some stage not too long after I went from feeling tipsy to drunkety drunk drunk.  Perhaps I hadn’t been paying attention to how often my glass had been refilled.  And from then on the details of my memory become a little sketchy.  Although I do recall SecretAgent running his hand down my back whilst whispering “I can’t wait to take this dress off you…”.  Frisky naughtiness indeed.  But from there my memory fails me completely.  It’s a black hole.

However, thankfully my friend had been keeping an eye out as promised as she happily informed me of the missing details the next day.  Apparently her husband had come to the rescue and man-handled SecretAgent and I away to the safety of the shared hotel room that we were all intended to sleep in.  I was put to bed and SecretAgent was banished to sleep on the other side of the room.  But when the lights were out I proceeded to remove my top and attempt to climb “like a tiger” on all fours across the obstacle of each bed, including one containing two small children.  My mission was to get to SecretAgent.  Word was that I put on ‘quite the show’.  Perhaps there had been something other than wine fuelling my obscene antics?  Never before had I behaved in such an uncontrolled lascivious fashion after a glass of wine or five.  And I can’t help but speculate that SecretAgent may have had a ‘briefcase’ of antidotes that could assist on such occasions.  But by the next morning the only thing in my head was a will to survive the most incredibly painful hangover I had ever experienced.  That and the feeling of relief to have avoided being poked by such a danger seeking, drink spiking(?), marriage faking, ingenuine, non-valiant, similarly short but not so attractive try-hard version of Tom Cruise.  Time to put this one to bed, with a clear head.  I’m getting me some maple syrup and bacon and turning up the oven.  This one has to be tasty, for sure.  And this time I’m going to remember every moment of it.

Further note: I was lucky enough to have had a friend looking out for me on this particular occasion but drink spiking is no laughing matter and certainly can’t be forgiven with a plate of fatty goodness accompanied by a story shaming.  If this happens or has happened to you the best course of action is to seek medical advice and emotional support, and report any suspicious goings-on to the police.  I have no proof if I was a victim to such foul play but am so grateful that I didn’t fall victim and become his foul prey.

A taste of Canada

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Cinnamon scrolls with Bacon and Maple Syrup Icing

Ingredients:

7 g package dry or instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
76 grams butter
2 eggs
4 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
76 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
5-10 pieces middle bacon, thickly sliced
Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
50 grams butter
3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:
Combine your dry yeast with the warm milk and leave for 5 minutes.  If using instant yeast you can just add it to the flour.
Beat 76 grams of butter with the white sugar.  Add eggs and whisk.  Add in flour, yeast and milk and combine.  Knead the dough until it’s a good consistency, so it’s not too tacky to the touch and it binds smoothly.  Place in bowl, cover, and leave to rise until dough has doubled in size, for an hour to an hour and a half.  Make sure the room is at a suitable temperature for this to occur, around 27 degrees if possible.
In the meantime cut up the bacon into strips as you like.  You can either pre-cook to make sure they are crispy or leave to cook inside the scrolls when they go into the oven.
In a separate bowl combine the other 76 g of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.  When risen adequately roll out your dough on to a floured surface until it’s approximately 20 inches by 16 inches.  Once rolled spread the cinnamon butter evenly across the surface.  Now scatter the uncooked or pre-crisped bacon over the dough.  Carefully roll the dough until it is a log.  Cut into 2 inch pieces with a hot knife and place side by side on a well greased baking tray.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until risen and golden.
Prepare icing mixture by combining icing sugar, butter and maple syrup.  Add maple syrup to taste or if you prefer your icing a little runnier.  Spread across the top of each sweet, cinnamony, bacon loaded treat.

Um, think I may have cardiac issues if I keep eating these but right now I have no conscience.  This is a taste memory worth keeping.

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 10: Schnitzel with Green Sauce

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No glove, no love

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

Then there was Holidaymance.

Yes, Holidaymance.  But then Holidaymance wasn’t one of those guys.  He was magic.  But the story needs to be told all the same.  It was a Monday night in my favourite dingy, dimly lit pub.  The midnight sausage sizzle had been and gone and I was beginning to consider home time until I saw him.  Our eyes met across the smokey overcrowded beer garden.  And with our gaze locked we weaved our way through the drunken mass towards each other.  The rubble subsided and it was just he and I in our own magnetic bubble.  He was a German backpacker, tall and long with blonde curly hair and blue eyes, a Utopian prince, with a mind full of youthful wisdom and a passion for renewable energy, positive action, and a kinder approach to the world that we live in.  Note: he was only visiting for two days before disappearing to other exotic parts of the world.  But I wasn’t deterred.

And so, it was a 24 hour relationship.  We visited my favourite local destinations, talked about all that made our minds tick, ate delicious food , lay naked together until the late hours, sweating liberally and shouting out each other’s name in unison, falling a little bit in notreallylove love together.  It was intense and precious and over all too soon.  I dropped him back at the backpackers the next evening with tears forming.  Email addresses, phone numbers, and body fluids exchanged we promised to stay in touch as I regretfully watched his beautiful long shadow disappear into the night.

Had he just been an illusion?  He proved he wasn’t when an email arrived a couple of days after our whirlwind romance, inviting me to join him in Bali for a week. My heart aflutter, my answer was of course ‘ja!!’.  Yet the next day I was feeling a little itchy and generally uncomfortable in my nether regions.  You see, during our intense 24 hour relationship there may have been an intimate moment in which my German knight failed to armour himself with the necessary protection for such occasions. Unsheathed, without raincoat, minus naughty bag, sans rubber, missing a penis hat.  Bare skin against bare skin.  My bad.  And his.  So off to the doctor I trotted to get my flange peered at and to pee in a tiny container (and all over the hand holding said container).  But just out of curiosity I decided to take a vagina selfie, just in case I could spot any funny goings on.  To be fair it was my first proper viewing of my pink bits and I wasn’t quite prepared for the confronting fleshy image.  No blemish uncovered but in a state of shock all the same I put the camera away.  After some contemplation I thought it was best to notify Holidaymance of my concerns and suggested that he also be screened for stds.  Although a little confused, my German went and got his bratwurst perused and prodded.

Our exotic getaway was still full steam ahead and in spite of our itchy little hiccup we found ourselves in Bali a week later, given the all clear, and ready for copious amounts of sweaty love-making, with and only with the presence of a penis hat.  After reacquainting ourselves sufficiently in the bedroom we headed out to see some sights, eat a whole lot of spice, and behave like right proper tourists.  Happy snaps.  In front of a temple, sitting next to a potentially rabid infested monkey, with a cocktail, photo of dinner, photo with dinner, photo post vomiting dinner.  Later as we reclined on the bohemian, potentially flea ridden mattress at our 2 star resort we looked back through the photos we had taken.  And horror of horrors, there amongst our enthusiastic loved-up holiday photos was my vaj selfie.  In my state of initial fright I had forgotten to delete the image. #awkwardsilence

Now if this is not a good enough reason to always use a condom I don’t know what is.  After the awkward pause we resumed our holiday, him quietly bemused, me pretending as though it never happened.  And while I am loving my labia these days, as it is just how nature intended it to be, reliving the whole embarrassing incident has left the taste of humiliation in my mouth.  So, yes, I can feel a cathartic session in the kitchen coming on.  Ja wohl!

A taste of Germany

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Schnitzel with Green Sauce

Green Sauce:

Ingredients:
2 cups parsley
1 cups watercress
1 cup finely chopped chives
1 cup spinach
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1⁄2 cup sour cream
1 hard-boiled egg yolk
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until bright green and creamy.

The schnitzel:

Chicken thigh fillets
breadcrumbs
plain flour
egg, whisked
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

I prefer chicken thigh to breast as it’s tastier or if you prefer a more traditional version use veal. Pound out your chicken fillets to about 1 to 2 cm thick. Roll in flour, and then egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Season well. Heat up your pan and add a good slug of olive oil. Cook schnitzel both sides to a golden brown. Drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil and keep the crispy. Serve with potato mash, vegetables, and plenty of that green sauce.

Well that definitely is a cleanser.

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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.

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.

  

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.

 

IMG_2038.JPG

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