happy endings in the kitchen episode 16: Sichuan Pepper Chicken with Noodles

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You Like?

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

Well then there was AfternoonHandDelights.

Yes, AfternoonHandDelights.  We met at a dress up party with a bad taste theme.  I was wearing a virgin stained wedding dress.  He was wearing red fishnets and a dead animal jacket.  Good conversation starters.  It was a boozy fun-filled night with plenty of raucous inappropriate behaviour and neighbourhood complaints, and within a few days following I found myself in a relationship.  He was a construction worker, looked damn good in a dusty paint-spattered singlet, loved hiking, rock climbing and being outdoors, had a thoughtful mind and enjoyed a good debate, idolised the poetry and music of Tom Waites, had traveled extensively through and loved North-East Asia, and cooked the best stir fry I have tasted to date, and could always be found at a his favourite city pub at 5 pm on any week day with a cold pint in hand surrounded by fellow dusty paint-spattered friends.  A stereotypical Australian guy with a soft edge.  Note: After a few weeks of dating I became increasingly aware that during intimate moments AfternoonHandDelights didn’t seem to enjoy spending time in my nether regions, ie. discovering my pearl, having a boxed lunch, kneeling at the altar, dining at the Y….let’s just say he told no climactic tales with his tongue.  Ah, you win some, you lose some.  But apart from that he was an Adonis in the bedroom and I felt very lucky all wrapped up in his bronzed, sun-loved limbs.

And so, it was love with one less benefit.  Breakfast in bed, weekends away camping, games of beery pub darts, and summer afternoons of lying in front of the fan listening to Tom Waites drawl whilst deep in each other’s minds.  We even had family visits  only 5 months in.  It was all very serious, picture perfect, and just fantastic.

One evening not too long after meeting the parents I was invited for dinner at AfternoonHandDelights’ abode following a long day of online study.  I had a few documents that needed printing and as I had no printer of my own my bronzed tradie kindly offered that I use his.  When I arrived the heavenly smell of some delectable Chinese broth was pervading the air and with my tastebuds tingling I sat down at his computer to finish my work.  He set everything up for me and left me to print away while he attended his delicious concoction.  Now, having never used a MAC before that moment I went to click on the icon that I imagined would enlarge the screen.  Incorrect choice.  It was instead the icon which unfurled a long sordid list of recent downloads of the pornographic kind, and their rather descriptive and transfixing titles.  “Bare-backing”…”ladies with balls”…”my well hung girlfriend”.  Waaaaaaaaah!!  And as I goggled, unable to look away from the detailed captions I noticed an alarming theme.  Each involved transexuals of the Asian male kind who had not yet committed to sex reassignment surgery.  Coincidence?  Perhaps he had just a momentary afternoon curiosity?  I lost all feeling.  This wasn’t how I imagined the evening beginning but it also potentially explained his lack of attachment to my lady parts, his love of South-East Asian cuisine, and those red fishnets.  And each to his own taste but unfortunately being intimately involved with this man made me wonder if perhaps he might prefer if I came with a dingdong.  Hurt, confused and somehow strangely relieved I discussed my findings with AfternoonHandDelights.  Even though in a state of awkward denial, it became clear that the Asian transsexual fantasy was his thing.  And thus apparently to me, I wasn’t.  A sayonara was in this case the only option, my only grievance being that I also had to say goodbye to dinner.

After some reflection I considered myself lucky to have discovered that I wasn’t the fantasy that AfternoonHandDelights ordered.  Imagine if I was to have gone along for years without ever knowing.  And I understand the fear that he must have had at revealing his innermost desires but also found it sad that he couldn’t express them and perhaps live them out a little more openly, and honestly.  And even though I wasn’t comfortable with his preferences I reckon there would most definitely be someone in the world who would be just A-OK with it.  But enough about this wang tugging, broth spoiling, vulva fearing man in tights.  Time to create a broth and fill my kitchen with a heavenly smell all of my own.  A taste fantasy that I am willing to share.

A taste of North-East Asia

Sichuan Pepper Chicken with Noodles

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Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts
2 cm slice of ginger
2/3 cup light soy sauce
1.5 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 star anise
1/2 cup spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame paste
3 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
1.5 tsp caster sugar
Egg noodles to serve
3 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 tbsp rice vinegar
Coriander leaves to garnish

Place 1/2 cup of the soy sauce, ginger, 1 tsp peppercorns, star anise, chopped spring onions, and chicken in a pan.  Add water to just cover, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and leave to poach in the broth for half an hour.  Then take the chicken out and reserve a cup of the broth.
Slice the cucumbers and salt.  Set aside to drain a little for 10 minutes or so.  Rinse and pat dry.  Add the rice vinegar.  Combine the black vinegar, sesame paste, caster sugar, remaining 1/2 tsp peppercorns crushed, and reserved broth.  Toss through with the noodles and place sliced chicken over the top.  Garnish with cucumber, coriander leaves and sesame seeds.

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Once again I ate everything in sight and only had some dry noodles left over.  Well satiated.

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 14: Beef Panaeng

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In control

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

Well then there was MyOwnPersonalSlave.

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

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

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

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

A taste of Thailand

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Beef Panaeng

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

happy endings in the kitchen episode 12: Irish Guinness Stew

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No luck with this Irish

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

Well then there was NearlyKilledMe.

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

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

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

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

A taste of Ireland

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Irish Guinness Stew

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy ending in the kitchen episode 11: Empanadas

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Always ask or you’ll never know

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

Well then there was FailedtoDeliver.

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

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

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

A taste of Spain

Empanadas

Ingredients:

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

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

Egg wash for basting

Directions:

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

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

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

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 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 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 6: Tandoori chicken salad & mango lassi

Standard

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.

 

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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