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.  Che bello!  Note: He lived in Rome, made grammatical errors that were sometimes bordering on ridiculous that 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  lying side by side with only oceans dividing us, and devising 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’ in anticipation.  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 deliciously foreign.

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.  Mamma fkn Mia!!!  I felt like projectile vomiting nutella 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.  I  definitely wanted to break his coglioni!  Instead I wrote a rather terse message about how the truth can set you free and clicked ‘unfriend’.  Uffa!  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. Ok, 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. It was ok.  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. It was better than ok.  And he felt it too, expressing his amazement at the “mind-blowing” connection that we shared that hadn’t been compromised by rushing things….in fact we hadn’t even moved past first base, not one article of black (or otherwise in my case) clothing had been removed. It was great. It felt like that rush of acceleration before takeoff. But then the rocket never quite launched. In fact things came to a grinding halt when he called a couple of days later and said “”I’m just not feeling it”. Imagine my surprise after his protestations of excitement only days before. I had the feeling that perhaps another in the running girlfriend potential had beaten me to the punch. But there it was. Rejection. Mind-blowing indeed. Only he was messaging me days later begging for an opportunity to explain. Did I dare take the time to listen? I dared. Stupidly. But there was no explanation. Instead I was greeted with a giant smile, a bottle of wine, a drooling Beagle that missed me, and a bowl of just cooked curry. Not entirely undesirable. Yet when I mentioned that I was feeling vulnerable about the situation and it would take some time to relax he responded with “Shhhhhhhh, I dumped you, get over it…ok?”

No, not ok. Really. Not. Ok.

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

A taste of Pakistan

 

IMG_2041.jpgTandoori Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

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

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

Directions:

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

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

 

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Mango Lassi

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

happy endings in the kitchen episode 5: Chocolate fondant

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Blalerrrlalalerr

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

Well then there was First Kiss.

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

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

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

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

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

A taste of Chocolate

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Chocolate Fondant

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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Bad taste gone.