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 15: Pizza!

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Pleasure me not

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

Well then there was Badpickupline.

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

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

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

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

A taste of pizza

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Napoletana dough with topping of choice

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.