Friday, September 28, 2007

More Mum-ism

Mum: I want to see A Mighty Heart.
Me: Me too.
Mum: What does 'mighty' mean?
Me: You know, big, powerful...
Mum: Like Mighty Mouse?

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I finished espanol this week and have enrolled in level 3 at UNSW. I've really enjoyed this course thanks to the language-loving, if typically eccentric, teacher and a good bunch of classmates (rare). We even had a class dinner at The Spanish Club last night which was quite enjoyable. I love the language and I love learning it and speaking with a Catalan lisp and it's exciting that we'll be able to say more than just 'dos canas por favor' next time in Spain.


Movies In My Head

Tonight in my head I made the movie I've always wanted to make, or, in my pre-Osho thinking, was destined to make. Everything...the scenes, the soundtrack, the script, the ending - that perfect ending.

And it's heartbreaking because I know it will almost never be made, let's face it. I've never sewn a pocket onto a towel and sold it as the Tocket, or the Powel, so it's likely I'm not going to get a movie written, starred in, produced, distributed. It's sad, because I think it could've been something great.

PS God I love Tiesto.


Meet The Dutchies: Part One

With no-one knowing about working holiday visas or replying to our email queries, we decided to apply for our visas sooner rather than later. So off we went this morning to the consulate armed with the required documents, ready for our first official encounter with the Dutchies.

Except we didn't have an appointment, which apparently you need, which we didn't see anywhere on the application. But maybe we could still have the interview today? No, you have to make an appointment. We could come back tomorrow, or Tuesday, or any other day, but not today. We couldn't imagine they were that busy, I mean, what does the consulate actually do? Regulate the import of poffertjes pans?

Oh and our passport photos are wrong. They have different passport photos to everyone else. Of course they do. Much smaller ones, like those Japanese sticker booths, which only a few photo places do, and cost $25. Hair must be tucked behind the ears, and you can smile but no teeth.

And you have to show proof of where you're staying for the first four weeks. To rent a place, you need a letter from your employer and/or a payslip. But to get your sofinumber, like a tax file number, you need an address, so it's a wonderful case of dog-chase-tail. Hopefully we've found a gorgeous place to rent privately, so that could be a big help.

So we're coming back next week for part two of a process that I'm sure will have many, many installments.

On the way back to work we were treated to a council worker jerking off his water bottle for our viewing pleasure. Thank goodness not everyone is politically correct, including this creep.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Vic's Meat III

I never cook chicken. I can't remember the last time I did because in those days-be-gone it always turned out dry and tasteless. But my recipe folder had a few chicken curry recipes that were singing out to me, so I ordered some La Ionica chicken from Vic's. And yesterday the weather couldn't be more perfect for a curry, grey and autumnal.

I chose Gordon Ramsay's Malaysian Coconut Chicken Curry from his cookbook Sunday Lunch (or you can find the recipe here) and I'll just get to the point - it was absolutely delicious. You make the aromatic curry paste (easily with the food processor) and then simmer with beautiful star anise and cinnamon. The chicken was so tender and flaked at the fork. Wonderful! I'm back to being healthy so I was careful to skim the fat and when it cools you can skim the solidified fat even more.

Verdict: The chicken tasted incredible and is chemical-free and free-range - I'll definitely be ordering La Ionica from Vic's again.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vic's Meat I + II

I'd always wanted to try meat from Vic's Meat - supplier of meat to the top Sydney restaurants - and not just because of a crush on owner Anthony. So when I saw you could order retail, we put in a trial order, trying not to get carried away. I went to pick it up yesterday - all nine kilos of our order, including an outstanding-looking 4.6kg rib eye rack - the offices smelling nicely of raw meat and everyone super lovely. In my haul were 120-day aged scotch fillets, free range lamb mince, quail eggs and a share of a wagyu rare roast beef.

What a jinx then, to find Anthony, Vic's and the best Aussie butchers exporting to China as the cover story in yesterday's Good Living.

So, is the meat all it's cracked up to be? As for the prices, they're about average - some things more, some things less than what you'd pay at other butchers. But it's the quality and variety that I'm interested in. Let's put it all to the test.

Scotch Fillet With Chimichurri, Pan Fried Potatoes And A Simple Salad

When I feel like tucking into a good steak I usually don't want much else - maybe a little salad or a little mash. No sauces, nothing masking the meat. But I felt like a herby accompaniment and I wanted to try making chimichurri. Like salsa verde, it's zingy and fresh and brightens the dish and the palate. Pan fried potatoes and a simple salad of rocket, tomato and bocconcini round out this steak dinner.

Squeeze a little lemon juice and sprinkle sea salt over rocket, sliced tomatoes and bocconcini.
Parboil or microwave potatoes for two minutes on each side. Slice in quarters lengthwise.
Season the steak. Heat a little oil over medium-high heat and add the steak. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Medium-rare for me please. Rest the steak, covered in foil. In the same frypan heat a little more oil and add the potatoes. Cook on each side until golden. Sprinkle with sea salt. Tuck in.

Verdict: The scotch fillet was good, hardly any fat. I ate the whole 300g steak before Spanish and usually a steak would sit in my tummy like a brick for the rest of the night but I didn't feel a thing with this. Maybe it was because there wasn't much fat that the meat was quite mild in flavour and I was hoping for a meatier punch, especially being 120-day aged. I'll try again.

Wagyu Rare Roast Beef

We bought a two kilo whole wagyu rare roast beef for something a bit special. It's seasoned and best taken out of the fridge 10 minutes before, and sliced thinly. We've been enjoying it in wraps with vegies and I'll be trying my share warm in pasta and salads.

Verdict: Delicious, perfect for something different.
Speaking of meat, best mum-ism to date:

Mum: "I watched a documentary on obituaries last night. I ate the last of the lamb and then said I would never eat meat again!"
Me: (slightly confused, nothing more than usual, chatting away, then) " you mean abitoirs?"
Mum: "Yes".

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Was Walking To The City And Found A Lime In My Handbag, And Other Weekend Photos

Monday, September 17, 2007

Great Friends

...make great conversation:

J says: Can't wait till I come to NY.
R says: Me too...we'll eat cookie dough together.
J says: ...and then go to Whole Foods.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dear Diary

Last night I found my two diaries that took me from 12-17. I couldn't put them down and they've left me feeling quite strange. "The core", as Celine says in Before Sunset, hasn't changed much at all. I was suprised to find so many similarities to then and now. My dreams were to travel, to be an author and to work in fashion. At 15 I lusted after Chanel boots (similarly how I love the new Chanel 'boots'). I was obsessed with boys, and interestingly had a wandering eye. I really believed in god too - a major stark contrast to now.

And the forward to the diary says that I hope to look back as an adult to the person I was back then, the same reason I write this blog.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New Caledonia

Tonight, New Caledonia is on my mind. My heart is thumping harder thinking about this place, that time. Certain instants flash to the forefront - the childish delights of ice slushies in that shop in the city; taking off to Mare and leaving a note on the door that I'd be back tomorrow; walking around the tinshed of Lifou airport; the lights and the colour of dusk that night that I'll never forget, coming home in a taxi, "en face de Boite a Pizza" I could say.

It was my second home, my love. At that time, I yearned for it. And right now, I have those same pangs.

I remember thinking after that disastrous last trip with A that this would be the last time I would ever be here, that why would I return, I'd been so many times, the rest of the world waited. I should never have taken him there. We brought our crap to a place that is not for sharing, not for others to get. It was so different to my earlier days there, and I was so different. It was a horrible week (except for the massive BB documentary on the tele).

I thought that was my last time. Now, I know I'll go back.

More than 10 years ago...

Friday, September 14, 2007


Loves umbrellas

Loves the phone

Learns to twirl

And finally smiles for aunty!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not All Martha

It's true I've been doing not much else apart from cooking cooking cooking and I've been very happy indeed * Spanish is almost at an end and I'm looking for another school to continue to the next level. My new thing is swearing in Spanish, I love it * To my grand dismay I'm feeling the guilty effects of what happens when you slide off the exercise wagon and desperately am willing myself to climb back on * We've passed the three month mark till we leave. Dad is talking to me again. We're learning that the Dutch are completely crazy (and the world's tallest people) and we can't wait to be amongst it. The bureaucracy sounds like it rivals France's (the pastries better be just as good) and the customer service is so far non-existant - no-one replies to email queries and even the consulate (open 10-1) just fob you off. It's disheartening at times but you can only laugh it off * 12-year-old models at Gold Coast Fashion Week, none of that sounds right. And she's no stunner, or is that not the point? I forget * Speaking of fashion, way to go Lover, one of the hottest Australian labels! Hawt with a capital WTF.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You Know

You know when you have something in the fridge that you really should use up today or it's heading for the bin, but you really feel like a curry from that not-so-great Thai place up the road? Or when you've opened a carton of stock and only used a little and can't think of anything else you could possibly use it for?

Like today when I took out some lamb fillets from the freezer before work and all day was saying to myself that I just didn't feel like lamb. I felt like anything but lamb. And I love lamb, adore lamb. Except today. I even searched for recipes, nothing inspired.

So I came home and seared them. That's all you should ever do with lamb fillets, because that way they're better than anything in the world, juicy, buttery. And I love when something you exactly feel like suddenly dawns on you, and you have it all in front of you. Lamb pizzas. Lavash bread smeared with marscapone. Sweet love bite tomatoes, mushrooms cut chunky so they still have bite. Quickly caramalise some onions, slices of bocconcini. Sliced lamb, two slices on the pizza, one slice for me, repeat. Happy days.

I Cured My Own Salmon Mofos

I've already said how much I love the ABC's The Cook and The Chef, and a few weeks ago Simon prepared an ocean trout, vodka soused. It had me written all over it, so my recent fixation with the fish markets yielded some extra salmon for me to try. Here's my version.

2 fillets of salmon or ocean trout of even thickness, about 250g each
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 Tablespoon sea salt
1/2 garlic, crushed or sliced
4 Tablespoons vodka (I used Grey Goose but then I'm like that)
Zest of half a lemon

Clean the fillets and pat dry. Fit the fish into a container that will snuggly hold the fillets and add the fish skin side down. Mix the sugar, salt and garlic together and pat over the top. Carefully spoon over the vodka and flake over the lemon zest. Wrap in clingfilm and weigh down with something quite heavy - I used my butter dish, or a plate with a jar does fine. Leave in the fridge for a day or overnight, then turn over and leave for the same, 2-3 days all up.
Since this is a light curing there's no need to rinse the fillets, just pat away the flavourings with a papertowl.
Slice against the grain and enjoy. I like to take the salmon out of the fridge 10 minutes or so before eating to release the flavours of the fish.

Download And Donate

Barilla has created a free celebrity pasta cookbook and for every download they will donate $1 to the Children's Food Education Foundation.

There's easy, after-work recipes from chefs and cute Aussie-Italian footballers alike so click here and download.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Masterfood Challenge

Saturday was my long anticipated turn for the Masterfood Challenge. There was no stress, great organisation, everything hot on the plate and achieved the goal of going beyond my usual repertoire.

Crispy Skin Snapper Over Mixed Mushrooms And Jerusalem Arthichokes, With Crispy Gnocchi And Leek Foam
1 snapper fillet, skin on, cut in half on the diagonal
1 bag, approx. of mixed mushrooms (I used portobello, Swiss brown and shitake)
1 Jerusalem artichoke, peeled
Small handful of parlsey
14 gnocchi
Half a leek, thinly sliced
250mL cream

For the fish: Wash and thoroughly dry the snapper on paper towel. Make sure the fish is completely dry as the skin will not crisp if there is any moisture. Lightly brush with oil, season well. Heat a little oil on medium-high in a frypan until the oil is very hot - if it's not very hot the skin will not crisp. Place the fish skin side down and press down gently with an egg lifter. Do not move the fish. After 30 seconds turns the heat down to medium and let cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. You will see the fillet cook through the bottom up. Flip the fish gently over, then turn the heat down to low-medium. Let cook for 30 seconds and turn off the heat.
Have the rest of the dish ready to plate up at this point.

For the mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke: Slice the large mushrooms into 1cm slices; for the smaller mushrooms slice into three or four. Slice the Jerusalem artichoke into 2mm slices. Heat a good lug of oil in a frypan and add the larger mushrooms; season. Cook over medium heat until they soften, and keep cooking after their moisture is released. When the moisture has cooked away, add the smaller slices and season again. Cook again until all the mushrooms are soft and the moisture cooked away. Add the Jerusalem artichoke and saute on low-medium for a few minutes. Add a handful of chopped parsley, warm through and take off the heat.

For the gnocchi: Cook gnocchi (never packet gnocchi, ever); drain. If preparing other parts of the dish cook the gnocchi first, drain, and set aside in a small bowl with a nob of butter so they don't dry out or stick together. When ready to cook, melt a nob of butter in a frypan and add the gnocchi in a single layer and do not move for 2-3 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Flip over and crisp on the other side for another minute or two. Don't overcook - you just want to crisp the outside and keep the gnocchi fluffy inside.

For the leek foam: Melt a good nob of butter and a little olive oil in a frypan and saute the leeks over low-medium heat for around 7 minutes, making sure the leeks do not start to caramalise. Season well (use white pepper). Add the cream and warm through. Puree until completely smooth; you can pass through a sieve for a finer, thinner cream. Plate up and when ready to pour, blend again with a milk frother until bubbly and frothy and pour in a thin stream around the centre.

Baked Donuts With Coffee Pannacotta (aka a twist on coffee and donuts)
I marvelled at the baked donut recipes doing the rounds and just had to try them for myself. And thought - why not do a twist on coffee and donuts? So, a coffee accompaniment - first I thought coffee jelly topped with a creme anglaise 'crema', but decided that creamy would be much more convivial with donuts than gelatinous and chose a coffee pannacotta.

I was apprehensive about the baked donuts - I've never used yeast in my life, and have baked only a handful of times - so did a trial run during the week, halving the quantities. It was a right royal mess and I only got to the dough stage. Sticky dough everywhere. However on the night I followed the recipe as described and it was flawless and completely easy.

Alright, but how did they taste? Oh. My. God. Almost exactly very much unbelievably like donuts. Yes. You take the little delights out of the oven and dip them in melted butter and a cinnamon sugar mix, and that smell is instant, that warming come-hither donut smell. And they are chewy and fluffy and as more-ish as the fried-in-the-same-oil-one-too-many-times kind. Except these are baked, so you can have you donuts and stuff yourself with them, too.

Recipe at the incredible Jen's blog.

And I was crossing my fingers for the pannacotta - just what is gelatine? I still think horses' hooves. Even if it's a ye olde thing, when these things get into my mind, they stay there. Plus it comes in sheets and powder. I'd made a pannacotta years ago using expensive-as-hell gelatine sheets and it didn't work, so it still had me spooked. Nevetheless it was beyond easy to make and tasted a dream. They looked cute-as-a-button in my Ikea espresso cups, bought a year ago and still in the wrapper. Ikea does that to you.

The photos aren't great - a quick snap for both dishes as I don't get
how my digicameras work at night, everything comes out darker.
For example the gnocchi and donuts were golden, not dark. Stupid digital.

Jo's Birthday Finger Food Party

D and I put on a finger food picnic for Jo's birthday that we held chez moi because of the drizzly weather. Finger food is the best. Anything in miniature form tastes a thousand times better. Fact. I made the savoury, D made the sweet and we went completely overboard - but this is why I love the girls because most of it was polished off in a blink. Along with pitchers of cocktails and Melrose Place, season one, disc two, we couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate.

There was...

Vietnamese rice paper rolls

Scottish oatcakes (from Borough Markets) filled with goat's cheese, caramalised onions and chives

Mini mushroom quiches (completely rolly polly)

Roast vegetable frittata

Of course, ribbon sandwiches. Three types: egg salad; cucumber with chive marscapone; roast chicken with cream cheese, almonds and baby spinach

Rocky road and delicious caramel slice

Strawberry and almond tarts and incredibly delicious chocolate tarts based on a Jamie Oliver recipe
And of course...

Happy Birthday cupcakes with candles!

Slow-Roasted Salmon With Endamame Potato Salad

I read about slow roasting salmon last week to coincide with my new obsession with the fish markets - last week alone I made three trips. The recipe had me intruiged, especially as by 'slow' it meant a whole 17 minutes. It described the texture of salmon cooked at a very low temperature for this short time as melt-in-the-mouth and luscious. I don't like the texture of baked salmon so I couldn't wait to try this method - and now I won't be cooking salmon any other way.

Salmon and potatoes are a wicked combination, as are salmon and sour cream or creme fraiche, so I decided to make a simple sour cream potato salad on the side. Endamame are a delicious and healthy addition.

Use a whole salmon fillet (usually 250g-400g each) even if just making one serving as cutting a fillet in two will dry it out, and enjoy the leftovers like I did - lox with a twist - piled high on a bagel, with cream cheese and watercress. Simply incredible.

Slow-Roasted Salmon
1 salmon fillet (see above)
A handful of chopped chives (optional)
Olive oil, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 110C. Clean the salmon and pat dry on paper towel. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush all sides of the salmon with a tiny amount of olive oil, and season generously. Pat chopped chives into the top of the fillet. Place in the oven and cook for 17 minutes exactly. Remove, enjoy.

Endamame Potato Salad, serves 1
Two small potatoes, peeled and washed
Handful of endamame in the pod (available in the freezer at Asian supermarkets)
Sour cream or creme fraiche
Dijon mustard
Salt, pepper

Place potatoes on a plate and microwave for 3 minutes. Flip potatoes over and microwave for 3 more minutes.* Remove, slice and season. Meanwhile cook the endamame - 2 1/2 minutes in the microwave - and pop them out of their pods into a bowl with the potatoes. Add a good dollop of sour cream and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and mix. Serve with the salmon.
* This is a quick and no-fuss way of cooking potatoes; boil or bake them if you prefer.

Under The Sound Of Helicopters II

A super lovely long weekend.

Jo's birthday lunch was a blast. Delicious finger food (sorry, finger food by it's defintion is delicious) and season one, disc two of Melrose Place (lame), unbeatable combination.

Then my turn for the Masterchef Challenge. I had half an hour to get it all ready after the girls left, and it was an amazing success. If I do say so myself, it was probably the best thing I've cooked so far, and I'm more impressed with being so relaxed yet organised and pulling it off. The verdict? We both gave each other top marks so no winner. Phew. Recipes coming up.

Couldn't sleep that night, like every other night this week, the helicopters were too much. Couldn't even sleep in the same bed - seems two people used to their own beds just can't get comfortable sharing one. It confirms that should I ever shack up with anyone again - own beds, preferably own houses, will be the way to go.

Joined D at the Silverchair concert, free tickets why not, and they were good, although it's the one band that I can never make out the words. Paul Mac was in the band, love Paul Mac.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Yoghurt-Simmered Fish Curry

I'm not a huge curry fan, but this recipe, from Anjum Anand - I think she must be England's new Nigella Lawson - caught my eye, and instantly became a favourite. It's healthy and so quick to make.
Yoghurt-Simmered Fish Curry, from Anjum Anand's column in The Times, serves 4
2 Ts vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, whole (I used one long red chili with most of the seeds and this was spicey enough)
2 ts garlic paste (I pounded 3 garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar)
1 rounded ts ginger paste (I pounded a 1cm piece of ginger in a pestle and mortar)
¾ ts turmeric powder
2 ts coriander powder
20g ground almonds
180ml yoghurt, beaten
1 medium tomato, cut into large pieces
4 x 175g portions of firm white fish fillets (I used bream)
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ ts garam masala
Handful of chopped fresh coriander, stalks and leaves
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and fry until golden and shrivelled, about 10 minutes. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add salt, turmeric and coriander powder and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the yoghurt and almonds, over a low heat and stir to incorporate. Add a splash of hot water at the same time. Simmer over a low flame for 10 minutes. If the yoghurt looks grainy, do not worry, turn the heat up and stir, it will come back together. Add tomatoes and cook until softened, about 6 minutes, adding splashes of hot water whenever the pan starts to dry out. Stir in 150ml water and bring to a boil*. Add the fish, bring the heat down, cover and simmer until the fish is tender, about 5 minutes, turning halfway. The gravy should be thick but not clinging to the fish. If the gravy is too watery, remove the fish and boil down the gravy until you have the right consistency.
Sprinkle over the garam masala and coriander and serve.
* I added a little water and a little lite cream for a creamier sauce.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I have sunken into the comforts of re-reading a beloved book, the script/story of The Best Intentions. The names of the streets, desolate towns, have always bewitched me. Tradgarsgatan. I love the sound the name makes as you say it silently. And then I realise that I will soon be able to visit Sweden, and other crazy places, and the instant feeling is of a vastness in front of me. It's exciting.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Under The Sound Of Helicopters

Too much eating on the weekend (Bodega; Mark Bittman's prawn ragu; hypocritcal queueing up at Bourke St Bakery for the lamb sausage roll, polished off with a lemon curd tart - verdict, the lamb is textural and delicious, but I prefer the pork and fennel; the curd is smooth and creamy, but I still want more of a pucker punch from the citrus; there was freshly squeezed blood orange Pims drunk in the park across the road under the sun; cold dumplings; gorgeous home-made curry).

There was The Bourne Ultimatum (prefer the first) and my beloved 5x2.

An absolutely awesome penthouse party the likes of which I haven't seen in Sydney, fortunately was on Sunday as it could have got very messy.

This week is nothing but cooking, cooking.

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