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 13: Cinnamon scrolls with bacon and maple syrup icing

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Secret Mission Fail

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

Well then there was SecretAgent.

Yes, SecretAgent.  I had been traveling around the world and had recently arrived in Toronto, Canada to visit and stay with a close girlfriend, her husband, and two small children.  They were situated outside the city in a beautiful log cabin nestled by trees of every glorious colour, and surrounded by bulbs bursting forth with happy flowers.  We spent a relaxing few days or so catching up, talking life, drinking hot chocolate, and being entertained and exhausted by small children.  But on the last day of my stay we weren’t to stay in by the fire.  My girlfriend’s husband was an army officer and I had been invited to join them in Toronto for the annual army ball.  It was a big, posh event with fancy food, flowing champagne and visiting English royalty.  Dressed to the nines in borrowed black velvet that clung to every part of my terrain I was feeling excited for the night ahead.  And I had a pre-arranged date.  He was the best friend of my friend’s husband, personable and charming, attractively sharp and debonaire, looking like a newly initiated member of the rat pack in his his freshly pressed Italian suit, he worked as an undercover agent and had just returned from a mission in Afghanistan, his disguise beard shaven off only that day, and his liveliness and vigour for life was infectious to everyone around him.  Note: He was also married, and had left his wife and newborn baby at home for the evening.

And so, it was nothing.  The night started with all of us sharing a glass of champagne, engaged in great conversation and eating any of the hors’d’oeuvre that wandered past temptingly on a plate.  But as we sat down at our designated table and found ourselves next to each other SecretAgent unveiled his secret agent.  He was full of wild stories, devilish humour, and the energy he was giving out was anything but that of a taken man.  He paid keen attention to my wine glass, making sure to refill it if it started looking thirsty, always keeping his focus entirely on my person. And as we started on dessert his focus only intensified.  “Where did you come from?”, “you are breath-taking”, “where do you travel to next? Maybe I could meet you there?”.  Thinking that SecretAgent was being a little forward and perhaps forgetting the existence of wifey I had a quick word of concern with my friend.  She expressed surprise at SecretAgent’s bold manner but was convinced that his intentions were friendly, and promised to keep an eye out for any frisky naughtiness in the meantime.

By this stage I was feeling very tipsy and slightly euphoric, so I decided to relax and keep having fun.  But at some stage not too long after I went from feeling tipsy to drunkety drunk drunk.  Perhaps I hadn’t been paying attention to how often my glass had been refilled.  And from then on the details of my memory become a little sketchy.  Although I do recall SecretAgent running his hand down my back whilst whispering “I can’t wait to take this dress off you…”.  Frisky naughtiness indeed.  But from there my memory fails me completely.  It’s a black hole.

However, thankfully my friend had been keeping an eye out as promised as she happily informed me of the missing details the next day.  Apparently her husband had come to the rescue and man-handled SecretAgent and I away to the safety of the shared hotel room that we were all intended to sleep in.  I was put to bed and SecretAgent was banished to sleep on the other side of the room.  But when the lights were out I proceeded to remove my top and attempt to climb “like a tiger” on all fours across the obstacle of each bed, including one containing two small children.  My mission was to get to SecretAgent.  Word was that I put on ‘quite the show’.  Perhaps there had been something other than wine fuelling my obscene antics?  Never before had I behaved in such an uncontrolled lascivious fashion after a glass of wine or five.  And I can’t help but speculate that SecretAgent may have had a ‘briefcase’ of antidotes that could assist on such occasions.  But by the next morning the only thing in my head was a will to survive the most incredibly painful hangover I had ever experienced.  That and the feeling of relief to have avoided being poked by such a danger seeking, drink spiking(?), marriage faking, ingenuine, non-valiant, similarly short but not so attractive try-hard version of Tom Cruise.  Time to put this one to bed, with a clear head.  I’m getting me some maple syrup and bacon and turning up the oven.  This one has to be tasty, for sure.  And this time I’m going to remember every moment of it.

Further note: I was lucky enough to have had a friend looking out for me on this particular occasion but drink spiking is no laughing matter and certainly can’t be forgiven with a plate of fatty goodness accompanied by a story shaming.  If this happens or has happened to you the best course of action is to seek medical advice and emotional support, and report any suspicious goings-on to the police.  I have no proof if I was a victim to such foul play but am so grateful that I didn’t fall victim and become his foul prey.

A taste of Canada

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Cinnamon scrolls with Bacon and Maple Syrup Icing

Ingredients:

7 g package dry or instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
76 grams butter
2 eggs
4 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
76 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
5-10 pieces middle bacon, thickly sliced
Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
50 grams butter
3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:
Combine your dry yeast with the warm milk and leave for 5 minutes.  If using instant yeast you can just add it to the flour.
Beat 76 grams of butter with the white sugar.  Add eggs and whisk.  Add in flour, yeast and milk and combine.  Knead the dough until it’s a good consistency, so it’s not too tacky to the touch and it binds smoothly.  Place in bowl, cover, and leave to rise until dough has doubled in size, for an hour to an hour and a half.  Make sure the room is at a suitable temperature for this to occur, around 27 degrees if possible.
In the meantime cut up the bacon into strips as you like.  You can either pre-cook to make sure they are crispy or leave to cook inside the scrolls when they go into the oven.
In a separate bowl combine the other 76 g of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.  When risen adequately roll out your dough on to a floured surface until it’s approximately 20 inches by 16 inches.  Once rolled spread the cinnamon butter evenly across the surface.  Now scatter the uncooked or pre-crisped bacon over the dough.  Carefully roll the dough until it is a log.  Cut into 2 inch pieces with a hot knife and place side by side on a well greased baking tray.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until risen and golden.
Prepare icing mixture by combining icing sugar, butter and maple syrup.  Add maple syrup to taste or if you prefer your icing a little runnier.  Spread across the top of each sweet, cinnamony, bacon loaded treat.

Um, think I may have cardiac issues if I keep eating these but right now I have no conscience.  This is a taste memory worth keeping.

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 9: Pulled pork burgers

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Put it away

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

Well then there was SelfieJunkie.

Yes, SelfieJunkie.  There he was.  Online and looking fine.  Swipe right.  Match.  His photos showed him living life large in various states of larrikin action with friends.  He was tall, as statuesque as the David, with lucent skin, looking as though he had just stepped out of a male magazine shoot, and in his bathers he looked as though he had been chiseled for a Nike advertisement.  My breath was taken.  And so the conversation began.  It was nice.  A what-do-you-do?, what’s your favourite movie/food/music/colour? kind of getting to know each other, with a little mild flirtation.  It was safe.  Respectful.  Not too naughty or suggestive.  Not ringing of ‘guy seeking one night stand’ or ‘one hour stand’ as seems to be more on offer these internet dating days.  He was an engineer from America working in Australia on contract, loved cheesecake and staying in for movie nights, was funny and intelligent without being too cocky or self-important, seemed quite humble about his achievements, seemed expressive without being too poetic, manly without being overly macho, and very interested in planning our first let’s-get-together-and-eat-cheesecake date.  Note: He was also gym mad, spent 10 hours a week working out, and sent 8 selfies during our first conversation.  But it felt like he had most of the material to make a great fitting first date, at least.

And so, it was anticipation.  Hours passed.  Days passed.  A week passed.  Two weeks.  Deciding to take this bull by the horns I messaged SelfieJunkie to see if he still existed or if he lay trapped beneath a bar weight after eating too much cheesecake.  His response was immediate.  It started with a simple message “I’ve been thinking about you”.  But what followed was altogether unexpected.  SelfieJunkie was rather forward.  SelfieJunkie was standing to attention.  SelfieJunkie was missing his underwear.  I wanted to scream “Put it away!”  But it didn’t stop at just one blatant sexual image.  Unfortunately they kept on arriving, culminating in a photo of SelfieJunkie in the shower, hand on joystick in the middle of his own lonely climax. Human intimacy had reached a new low.  I had been visually violated.  Was this a mistake?  It certainly wasn’t a conversation, at least not one I started.  I felt like SelfieJunkie had taken his wang and slapped me into a state of nauseous disbelief.  Clearly the lets-get-together-and-eat-cheesecake was no longer an option.  But I didn’t know how or if to respond.  Would a middle finger salute suffice?  Or perhaps better to ask where he had been mugged, so an ambulance and fresh underwear could be organised.  Maybe I could make a set of coasters out of the photos and sell them online, or make a missing person’s poster with the headline “Have you seen this penis?”  Instead I sent a reply message “Well that’s a shame” and left him to ponder my meaning.

In what world was this ok?  As beautiful as he was I didn’t ask for a naked viewing and I most certainly didn’t ask to accompany him for shower handies.  Where is the respect or human dignity in plying someone with sexual images without their consent?  It’s not ok. It’s.really.not.ok.  Seeing him so aggressively stripped bare had left a very bad taste in my mouth.  This was going to require time, flavour, and beauty through creation. And these words, my own personal protest against selfie sexual harassment.

A taste of America

Pulledporkburger.jpegPulled pork burgers

Ingredients:

The pork:
2 kg pork shoulder
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 brown onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1.5 cups good quality lager
1.5 cups chicken stock

Barbecue Sauce:
2 cups tomato ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar

Coleslaw:
1 cup whole egg mayonnaise
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp celery salt
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 carrots, julienned
2 celery sticks, julienned
1 red onion, diced small
1/2 red cabbage, sliced thin
salt to taste
Burger buns to serve

Directions:

Remove excess fat from the pork.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Combine the cumin, mustard powder, coriander powder, brown sugar, and a good amount of salt and pepper to taste.  Rub over the pork, cover, refrigerate, and leave for a couple of hours.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  Heat vegetable oil in a roasting pan.  Seal and brown pork on all sides.  Remove and add onions and garlic.  Once onions are cooked add lager to the pan.  Reduce a little and then add chicken stock.  Return the pork to the pan over and cover with a good amount of aluminium foil.  Place in oven and cook for at least 4 hours and turn every hour.  When cooked the pork will pull apart easily with two forks.  The pan drippings can be used to moisten and flavour the pork further if you prefer.
For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer and thicken for an hour, stirring occasionally so the base doesn’t burn.
To make the coleslaw combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, zest, celery salt and salt to taste.  Mix through vegetable ingredients.
Grab some fresh burger buns or cook your own.  Layer the pork mixture, sauce and coleslaw on your bun and you have created a little bit of heaven for your tastebuds.

Loving my selfie with this one.

happy endings in the kitchen Episode 4: Jerked Chicken

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You can do it baby

You know how some guys really get you down? How some dates and relationships can leave you feeling naked, afraid, and oh so confused? You know how some guys are just those guys? Those guys?

Well then there was Basic Vegan.

Yes, Basic Vegan.  We met in a bedding store.  We were vertical.  He was the salesman and I was the clueless customer.  And while he didn’t make a sale as such he should have been selling charm because he had it in abundance.  He accompanied me out of the store and descended the escalator alongside of me, staying close and attentive.  He remarked on my sparkling smile and compared the summer sun to the brightness of my eyes.  And by the time we were at the bottom of the escalator he had asked for my number and complimented me into a daze of submission.  He was a Jamaican raised in Britain, tall and manly with brooding eyes, had played football professionally, owned lips that looked soft and beddable, had long beautiful fingers, a wicked sense of humour and an unusual imagination, and knew all the right moves on the dance floor. Note: He also ate a strictly basic pH vegan diet (carrots were prohibited), religiously followed the teachings of a quack doctor who claims to have the cure for HIV and cancer, would say hello to passersby but only if they had dark skin, showed up late for everything, said ‘innit’ a lot, believed mucus was the cause of every known disease and cause of death, constantly reminded me of the evil of anything that went into my mouth that wasn’t basic or vegan, and liked to provide commentary and ‘cheer me on’ during intimate moments.

And so it was, something.  And so we started the game of will we or won’t we, a date here and a date there, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…. 6 weeks of a sort of relationship, innit!  Until….he disappeared.  The night had been planned and the scene had been set. He was to pick me up and take me to his place where he would make us dinner and it would be our very first official sleepover. He’d told me in detail about the romance that was to come on the phone that day and I’d eaten it all up.  And thoughts of those promises kept me warm while I waited alone in the cold on a Saturday night, for at least the first 15 minutes anyhow.  One hour passed.  No call was answered.  No text was acknowledged.  Perhaps basic Vegan had eaten a carrot and been hospitalised?  Or perhaps he had met a girl with eyes as sparkling as the ocean?   Or maybe he had sneezed and been caught in a volcanic eruption of his own mucus and couldn’t swim his way out.  Whatever the case I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth.  But I wasn’t going to spend my time grieving over a carrot fearing, bs preaching, pillow talking nutter.  And so, into the kitchen I escape to turn my unrealised Jamaican fantasy into an edible reality.  And yes, I can do it baby.

A taste of Jamaica

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Jamaican Jerked Chicken

Ingredients:

5 pounds chicken thigh pieces
2 cups distilled white vinegar, plus 1 teaspoon
2 cups finely chopped spring onions
1 Habanero or Jalapeño chilli, deseeded
1 red capsicum, hulled
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 teaspoons ground allspice
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Jamaican Barbecue Sauce:

1 1/4 cups tomato ketchup
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 spring onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
2-3 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons Jerk marinade (reserved from above recipe)
Jamaican hot chilli sauce, to taste

Directions:

Rinse the chicken pieces in the two cups of distilled vinegar.  Once rinsed thoroughly place the pieces in a resealable bag and set aside.

Put the remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar, spring onions, chilli, capsicum, soy sauce, allspice, allspice, bay leaves, garlic, salt, sugar, lime juice, thyme, and cinnamon in a food processor and give it a whizz.  Put aside 2 tablespoons of the marinade for the Barbecue Sauce recipe.

Rinse chicken pieces in cold water and dry off with paper towels. Return the chicken to the resealable bag and add the marinade.  Massage the bag to coat the chicken with the marinade, and refrigerate.  Leave overnight if you can to let the chicken absorb those flavours.

Grill the chicken on a barbecue or grill pan.  Serve with the Jamaican sauce, rice and a fresh salad.

The making of the Sauce:

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce the heat and stir over a low heat until the sauce thickens up a little, for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.  Leave to cool before serving.

There is a reggae working through my body.  Bad taste gone.

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This recipe is an adaptation of Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.

Happy endings in the kitchen episode 3: Spanakopita

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My name is not Dolores Jones

You know how some guys really get you down? How some dates and relationships can leave you feeling naked, afraid, and oh so confused? You know how some guys are just those guys? Those guys? 

Well then there was Beach Dick.

Yes, Beach Dick.  An online connection, I first saw him in his European speedos, honey coloured skin glowing, a grinning Greek god, stretched across the unspoilt sand of some exotic paradise, the waves seductively lapping at his groin.  Another profile picture captured the moment as he stepped off a yacht in a freshly pressed suit.  Wanker alert!  However, upon reading…and reading…and reading his rather wordy self description I took the risk to chat.  He insisted on taking me out to dinner and in spite of my reservations Cupid set up the first date.  He was 40 years young, was a bit of a babe, well traveled, seemingly educated, had lived overseas, enjoyed the arts and the finer things, loved good coffee, fancied himself a builder and part-time sketch artist, and lived on his own in one of the more hip suburbs of Melbourne.  Note: He also used the word ‘meretricious’ within the first five minutes of our date, corrected my pronunciation of an ancient Egyptian word within the first ten minutes, laughed a lot(!) at his own jokes (which weren’t even bordering on smile worthy), revealed that he had closed his online profile and expected that I would do the same, talked over the top of most of what I attempted to contribute, and looked at me rather resentfully when he mentioned for the second time that he would get the bill and it was his pleasure.

And so, it was hate.  I said no to the offer of a coffee catch up and thought the worst was behind me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  After a period of time away from the internet dating scene I decided to reactivate my account to see if things had improved in the world of endless choice.  Within a day I had an inbox from Beach Dick.  And it wasn’t a friendly hello.  It was a character assassination.  According to him I was a fraudulent, physically and emotionally unavailable, jaded harpie that was just looking for a free meal and an ego boost…After responding with a question as to where cocks like him were manufactured I blocked Beach Dick, hoping to never hear from him again.  But unfortunately only days later I received a message on my phone from an unknown number.  “Hello, I saw your profile and would like to spend some time with you.”  I promptly rang unknown number to enquire as to how he had contrived my personal details, only to discover that an online profile had been created under the username of Dolores Jones, advertising the services of Escort/Masseuse and detailing my real name, photo and mobile number.

I could feel the vomit rising and knew immediately that Beach Dick was responsible.  But I decided that I wasn’t going to waste any more energy on a wordy, self-important, psychopathic, loud-talking, misogynistic, bitter and twisted excuse for a man.  Retribution would be by food.  Victory in creation.  And so it is to the κουζίνα I escort myself to massage nothing more than a spinach leaf or two.

Further note: If someone degrades you, bullies you, attempts to threaten your dignity, or harasses you in any way  it isn’t of course as easily solved by cooking up a delicious meal.  In this case the best action is to report the offender to the police.  You don’t want this person to keep repeating such inexplicable behaviour or give them any reason to think it’s ok

A taste of Greece

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Spanakopita

Ingredients:

Filling:

2 lb. fresh spinach, washed, dried, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped                                                                                                                                                              10 spring onions, white and light-green parts only, finely chopped
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

15 to 20 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 tbsp milk

 

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade.

Mix it: Heat a 10-inch pan over medium heat.  Cook the spinach in batches until it is wilted and bright green in colour, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the spinach to a colander and squeeze out the excess moisture.  Now heat the oil in the pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until transparent.  Add the spring onions and cook until soft.  Stir that spinach in and then leave the mix to cool.  Once cooled stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt to taste.

Assemble it: Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil.  Place your first sheet of filo in the dish and lightly oil it with the pastry brush.  Layer the filo to cover the bottom of the dish and continue to lightly baste each sheet top with olive oil.  Continue to layer, using up to 8 sheets of filo, with a concentration towards the centre of the dish.  Top with the filling, spreading evenly over the filo base.

Finish it off: Now place remaining filo sheets over the filling, continuing to brush the top of each sheet lightly with olive oil.  Enclose that treasure of a filling in by lightly folding the edges of the filo pastry down the sides of the dish with the oiled basting brush.

Score the top of the pastry with a sharp knife into the size of the pieces you desire without cutting through to the filling.  Brush the scored edges with milk and it’s ready to bake.  Cook in pre-heated oven until the top is golden.  Cut out as scored and serve with fresh salad.

Eat that cheesy green goodness.  Bad taste gone.

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