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

Guinness stew.JPG

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 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