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 riverdance in my mouth

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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 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 I felt connected to my higher self.  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.  Perhaps he was exhausted from one too many downward dogs?  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 urged me to open up, discover my truth, and trust in the power.  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!

Si, Si, Si

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!

I’m practicing gratitude thatthe  universe aligned me with this flavour bomb.  And you too are worthy!

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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.  Aufwiedersehen.

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.  Achtung!  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.  Jawohl!

Humiliation Forgotten

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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. This selfie is a keeper.  Guten Appetit!

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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.  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 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 2: Varutharacha Goat Curry

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Sunny Days

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

Well then there was Mr Snufalupagus.

Yes, Mr Snufalupagus.  An internet whirlwind.  I first saw him shirtless with skin the colour of burnt caramel.  He wore dark sunglasses and a religious tattoo adorned his right bulging bicep.  Although clearly a gym bunny and selfie buff I was drawn in nonetheless by the one line statement that accompanied his partial nudes…’looking to meet positive people’.  It was a match.  Thank you Tinder.  And upon chatting I discovered that this spicy SriLankan version of Mr. T had a softer side.  He owned two dogs, loved talking about his family, was passionate about animal welfare (with a particular penchant for breeding fish), had a cheeky sense of humour, and was looking for a ‘relationship’.  Note: He also had a love of wearing skin tight cleavage-sporting T-shirts, spent a lot of time in front of the mirror, was a full body shaver, occasionally dropped a chauvinistic line or two, owned eight times as many perfumes as I, had a strange fascination with my digestive system, owned a schlong that looked like a hello to Mr Snufalupagus, and had a particular penchant for breeding fish (!).

And so, it was lust.  I mean, love.  Weekends spent in bed with nothing but DVDs, takeaway food and burnt caramel skin, walking dogs and staring into fish ponds.  They were sunny days keeping the clouds away.   The spice was just right.  Pounded to perfection.  Sweet, exotic, fragrant, aromatical, fiery, peppery and piquant.  Six weeks of unadulterated, explorative, burning bliss.

Until he booked a cruise.  And I was invited!  Now I know it sounds like romance and I was almost taken in.  But when he added “we don’t have to remain exclusive” an unexpected pungence invaded my tastebuds. “Why don’t we travel and experiment with what we have?”, and he went on to make a number of suggestions including an offer to ‘tag team’ me with an unidentified Brazilian guy (?!)  I could no longer tolerate the flavour.  My palate was dry retching.  Hmmm, very fishy indeed.

Well of course I suffered agonisingly in my resultant single state, for approximately thirty seconds.  But that empty feeling remained, that wanting to be filled up again…but not by a weight-pulling, woman fearing, fish worshipping, snuffle-trunked Mr. T wannabe.  Food would again be my salvation.  I needed a whole lot of spice in my mouth to get this bad taste out of my system.  And the food gods said, let there be curry.

Heavenly Flavour

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Varutharacha Goat Curry

Ingredients:

1 kg kid goat or mutton, diced into large cubes
1 tsp Turmeric
2 Bay leaves
4 Cardamom pods
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 medium onions
7 cloves Garlic
2 inch piece of ginger
5 shallots, diced
3-5 green chillies, to taste
2 tbsp Coriander powder
2 sprigs of curry leaves
1 tsp Garam marsala
1 tsp Fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
3 tomatoes
Half cup of water
Salt to taste
Roast and grind:
Half cup shredded coconut
1 tsp black peppercorns
Sizzle:
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
a sprig or 2 of curry leaves

Directions:

Brown off the goat pieces in a deep frying pan in a little vegetable oil.  Add half a cup of water, turmeric and salt to taste and leave to cook on a low heat until the goat is just soft and tender.  Separate the stock juice and keep aside.

Meanwhile add grated coconut in a pan and dry roast it until golden brown.  Remove from the heat and add black peppercorns.  Grind to a smooth paste with a mortar and pestle.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan and add onion, cook until becoming transparent, and then add ginger, garlic, shallots, green chilies and salt to taste.  Saute until aromatic.  Add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.  Continue to cook for about 10 minutes on a low to medium heat, until it turns golden.

Reduce the heat and add coriander powder, garam masala and crushed fennel together with 2 tbsp water.  Heat through until oil separates.  Now add the goat and stir until combined.  Add the coconut paste, tomatoes and reserved stock.  Cover and cook until thickening.  Add salt to taste and divide into serving portions.

Finally heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, sizzle, and listen for them to pop.  Add curry leaves and shredded coconut.  Saute until golden and garnish your servings.  Serve with basmati rice.

Heavenly Flavour, for what we are about to receive may our mouths make us truly thankful…..amen.

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Unfortunately the curry was so mouth watering, if I do say so modestly myself, that I inhaled it.  The only remaining ingredient I had lying around to signify that it ever existed was this sad looking curry leaf sprig.  Curry eaten, cleansing complete, bad taste gone.

Acknowledgements: Varutharacha goat curry recipe adapted from http://www.kurryleaves.net

Happy Endings in the Kitchen Episode 1: Eggplant Parmigiana & Poached Figs in Alcohol

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Now look…

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

Well then there was Needle Prick.

Yes, Needle Prick.  We met in a hospital.  I was the nurse.  He was the patient.  I was holding the needle.  He was writhing in pain. But perhaps not as much pain as he at first appeared to be in, as he managed to memorise my full name from my nursing badge and discovered me on Facebook a few days following the needle’s prick.  Now I don’t make a habit of dating patients but on this occasion my head/heart/lady bits won over my professional judgement.

And so, it was love.  Unexpected, all-consuming, makes no fucking sense, probably have nothing in common with each other but are convinced we do, earth shattering, thrush-making love!  He was of Calabrian background, made an exquisite omelette, told me I was beautiful, stroked my face and spoke sweet nothings, shared his dreams and listened attentively to mine, and devoutly worshipped my body.  We were hungry only for each other.  Note: He also had an ex-wife who cheated on him for three years of their marriage, two young children, was an ex Jehovah’s Witness, had only just lost about 60 kgs thanks to a lap band surgery accompanied by a subsequent mass of loose skin and a teeny tiny appetite, and had a pecker that felt like it was pronged once inserted.  But it was love!  And red flags are just a bit of extra colour when you are on the joyride of non-sensical adoration.

And I was whipped into a state of love-induced ecstasy.  We became steeped in each other’s lives, glazed in tender words, and caramelised with the sweetness of affection.   He urged “stay at mine every night….in fact, why don’t you move in…you can use my car…I’ll cook for you…we’ll holiday somewhere exotic together..”  Five weeks of uninhibited, inspired declarations of love.  Until he moved to the mines.  Yes, he landed a job driving a compensating over-sized truck and I was left with a break up text message, which started with “Now look, I just don’t think this is going to work…”  No face to face, no tender words, no explanation or sentiment of pained disappointment.  I was stunned.  Reduced.  Simmering.  Boiling.  Burning.  If only I held the needle to his prick in that moment.  All of that talk, history exchanged, future plans made, body fluids shared, love drugs administered…all climaxing in a text that began with “Now look…”???

And so I stewed over the events agonisingly in my abandoned state for approximately 48 hours until I began to clarify.  I was left feeling empty, and ravenous to be filled up again. But not by weak promises, pronged whangs, or any other kind of bullshit fed to me by a mining, hairy ex-JW with unfettered skin accessories.  I needed to be satiated.  I needed to be cleansed.  I needed to be baptised.  Rendered.  By food.  And so I got to thinking, what better way to take the bad taste of a bad relationship out of my mouth than fill it with something abounding in flavour.  So herein lies the chronicles of my dating disasters and relationship nightmares that find a happy ending in the kitchen and a desirous conclusion in my mouth.

 

Praise be

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Parmigiana di Melanzane

Ingredients:

2 medium eggplants
Salt
extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup bread crumbs (slightly stale bread is best), seasoned with 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
Tomato Sauce, as below
1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Basic Tomato Sauce:
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Wash and dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle the slices with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes in a colander. Drain and rinse the eggplant, squeeze out any excess moisture, and towel dry.

Sauce: In a medium sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce. Season with salt.

Spread fresh breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown. Sprinkle with a little olive oil once ready and toss through.

In a frying pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking.  Cook eggplant in batches until golden brown on each side, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  On a baking sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and then a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing finally with a layer of parmesan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, and the mozzarella is beginning to ooze.  Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and serve.

Tips: Choosing the best eggplant – There are some qualities to look for when seeking out the sexiest of this nightshade. These include a green stem end without signs of mould or mushiness, a smooth and shiny skin with even colouring, and it should be firm but not hard to the touch.

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Poached figs in alcohol

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1.5 cups water
juice of whole lemon
half vanilla bean, split
15 figs
100 mls Cognac
Double cream to serve

Directions:

Place sugar, water, lemon juice and vanilla bean into a large saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the figs and cover. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until tender, and then leave to cool in the syrup. Add the cognac. Stir through and let sit a little longer. Serve with double cream.

Get that juicy fig in your mouth and stimulate your tastebuds into a Calabrian climax that will bring only joy and satisfaction.  Bad taste gone.

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