Monday, December 29, 2008

The Final Christmas (Gingold makes another special)

On the Sunday, more friends had a little barbecue and it was all a little impromptu. And yet again, we all got pretty tipsy.

It is strange when you keep running into the same group of people in the local stupidmarket/bottle shop and then see them at the party.

This is the beginning. There was a plate of grilled calamari before, but we ate it. We ate it good and with our fingers.
They are oven roasted tomatoes you see over there, stuffed sardines are on their way and that guy over there is eating vegan sausages.

Mr DaVa grilling off Haloumi and onions. This was the only good batch of onions as after that, people would throw lamb and beef on and then, the onions just tasted like animal-fat-special-combination. It reminded me of the meat in the kebab that I had when I lost my drunken food virginity.

The Golden Ging is starting to get a little drunk and cocky. They began to dance as they cooked and lost track of what they were cooking. They're kind of like the not-so-but-very-camp-Ainsley-Harriott-emulators.

The token gratuitous sausage-cock photo.

And the best face that Gingold has ever pulled. Note how he looks like Gargamel. Well, he always does, but he's skinny and not after little blue things, but finally people noticed. This is his face after watching DaVa chop his sausage cock in know, just to see if it was done.

And, if you're reading this Gingold...I still love you, but you have to know the truth.

Christmas part 2 and 3

After the first installment, I walked for fifty minutes to Box Hill north to drop Mr DaVa off at his parents. Struggling to even fit a beer in over there, he had to do the same thing all over again, but with porchetta (wog Christmas) immediately after. So, so sad.

Then, I headed off and got ready for the orphan's do at my place. I ended up cooking a lamb roast stuffed with spinach, pricked it all over and put in garlic cloves and sage, and more roast vegetables.

We wanted something we could walk away from and not think about as we gathered booze. My trusty housemate managed to score another couple of cases of free beer, and we bought a slab and a bottle of Tanqueray.
There were only 10 of us there and more people bought booze. I obviously couldn't eat any more, but we all got pretty plastered. The night is good to end with your real family.

The day after, my friends 1928 and his lady had drinks and nibbles at their place. It was a cold meats spread, with cheese and dip. However, with the cold-meat love that 1928 and I share, he brought out the salami he made after taking a Fleischmeister course and it was fantastic. Very garlicky, not too fatty, but surprisingly dry on the tongue...not in a bad way.
This was a small do with 6 people and yes, we all got pretty plastered.

I saw this little guy on the way over there, and it seems fitting, if not ominous of where my body is now.

Christmas part 1

Well, this is strangely the first family Christmas I have had and it went for the whole four days. I'm kind of tired.

Really tired. And I am working every day this week except for New Years day and I am ready to curl up and sleep. But alas, I shall post the meals.

This is the meal that I had at my brother in law's mother's place. She is currently housing her nephew and future niece at her house before they take off and get married three times. They're getting married in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Melbourne...just to make sure everyone in the family knows about it. But, the point was raised about whether or not you could run away at the second one if you got cold feet.

Anyway, I will shut up. Here is the food.

The future bride also did hospitality and she was very delicate with her presentation. This is also good for another reason, but I will get to that later.
(clockwise starting from top left)Salsa in a filo cup, soba noodles, grilled mushroom with cheese and bacon and a mushroom and zucchini kebab.

These oysters were really good. I asked my "aunt" where she got them from and surprisingly, Box Hill market.

Salmon sashimi. Was a little lack lusture, but we noticed that some of the plates were better than others. We make a joke that my "aunt" doesn't actually cook. She makes her famous phone call to the local fishmonger or sushi bar. Really.
Her interpretation of Italian is when you steam cauliflower, eat it with pasta and put a fried egg on top. Chinese is when you steam cauliflower, eat it with rice and put a fried egg on top. "Aussie-style" (as she calls it) is steaming cauliflower, eating it with toast and putting a fried egg on top.
This is actually not a joke and her son will confirm that.

This is a third of the turkey I made. I brined it overnight and roasted it with onion and celery in the cavity, salting the inside and outside and putting butter between the skin and the flesh. I roasted it breast side down, at 180 for 3.5 hours. Guess how much it weighed?
The reason why the future bride is so useful is because after transporting the fucker to my "aunt's" house, we were all trying to pass off carving the bird in fear that it would eat us. She thankfully has to carve one up every week when they serve at the TAFE restaurant, so she saw it as practice. It is also good, cos I would have otherwise treated it like a fucking giant chicken (well, that is how I cooked it, so meh).
Also, used the pan juices to make a gravy. Hmmmm, gravy. The condiment I missed during my vegetarianism.

The sides.
I steamed carrots in a foil bag with wine, butter, honey, garlic and almonds. I also roasted a pumpkin with chili flakes, brown sugar, garlic and sage.
Roasted potatoes and prawns. There was also a giant salad, but it is out of the frame.

This is my brother in law's cousin. My sister asked him for a knife to cut the pear and custard crumble cake that she made and he ended up giving her a butter knife.

Well done, Vincent.

The best part of this is how Honky my parents are. When I told them the bones of the bird would be good for rice porridge, as well as the meat, the literally collected it all, as well as the carcass and (also literally) fought my "aunt" for the bone attached to the drumstick she wanted to keep for later.
It was a Flinstones moment that was rectified when my "aunt" said that she promised she would bring the bone over to their house after she ate it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just a few questions

that I have for my people.

I was in Laguna the other day, the uber, mega, super, supermarket of Asia town and I usually spend it running around there with my friend Chargrill or one of the many Jennnnnnnnns I know.

I've spoken about the phallic fungi, and even though I could post a photo of it, it would only emphasise how childish I really am. So, I will only leave post what I really want to know.

Firstly. This candy is apparently so awesomely sour that it can give you an orgasm.
What happens if you don't? Do you get a refund?

Why is Pocky being a chauvinist cunt-bag?

And this is a question in 2 parts.
1- Does this pad actually make my basketball skills better?
2- Why don't Asian supermarkets stock pads? (This one is one that I really want to know. I mean, I want to know this before I die.)

This post has nothing to do with food.

Sometimes truth isn’t something that you want. I experienced that over the last few days and even though some people claim that I am too easy going or happy to live in denial, it is more about things not encroaching on my reality. I believe people can knock about doing whatever they do, vibrate in whatever direction and create the electricity they need to, but if they chose to go down a certain path, they should stick to it.
More often than not, there are certain things that I don’t want to know or things that come about and present themselves on my birthday.
Last year, I found out some truth.
The year before, I gave some truth and hid some for quite some time.
And before that, I rationalized some.
This year, I was involved in some strange happenings and due to the blank spot in my brain from excessive drinking; I was part of an untruth and partial-truth.
And truth be told, the truth of that night was told to me on the weekend (and not even by the person/people involved), and I am not sure what to make of it. It doesn’t quite make sense to me and I would rather leave that mess in the past.
It’s gone.
And it doesn’t change anything.
At all.
I have a friend who is filling in for my boss for the next three weeks and in that, it is hard to rationalize the friendship/boss difference and see how people are treated. We also spoke about relationships as he is going to ask his lady to marry him and he has just bought a house without telling her yet. In my apparent philosophy, he thinks I am strange, unique, or…whatever. But really, I just don’t believe in tradition. (But, I do believe in ritual.)
But really, it doesn’t matter what he thinks because he LOLed me. He aurally said LOL.
Even in an orifice space, I do not believe that was acceptable.
But, I am breaking my tone and that does not make for good writing.

My point is that in this crazy season where we tend to drink too much and watch the sun disappear and reappear with the people we are close to, some things should just be left unexplained and silent. There are certain things that don’t mean anything, contribute anything or need analysis.

Much like this pole I saw today on my way to work. Surely the bike would still be in that lock somehow, or maybe my brain just doesn't work that way.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The hangover for the baking love-times.

I don't like Christmas. In fact, I don't do Christmas. The only times I have done anything is when I have an Orphan's Christmas, and there is nothing Christmassy about it.

In fact, we're having another one this year.

However, I understand that even though I don't like Christmas, doesn't mean that other people don't do it, dig it, feel it, believe it...whatever. So, this year, I decided to make little packs for the people I actually give a shit about and would benefit from knowing that I am not just a sour bitch with an unfortunate last name for this time of year.
I am not the Grinch.
I am yellow, not green.

Last year, I made jams, dulce de leche such and gave them to a few people. However, this year, there appear to be no jars, and I refuse to hike it to Richmond to get those IKEA jars. Nope, not happening, nada.

It's a good thing that baking lends itself to hangovers, and today, I have been particularly hung over, after exiting a party at six thirty this morning. So, after a power nap and some coffee, I baked all afternoon.

Yeah, I'm awesome.

Rhubarb Friands
makes 16 large boys

2/3 a bunch of Rhubarb
lemon juice

1 1/3 cup of almond meal
2 cups sifted icing sugar
2/3 cup of plain flour
8 egg whites
150g melted butter
16 pieces rhubarb, cut in 2 inch lengths

Preheat the oven to 180.
Put the rhubarb, cut in 1cm lengths, a sprinkle of sugar, some lemon juice and water over a high heat and cook. Set aside.
Mix together the almond meal, sugar and flour in a bowl. Stir in the egg whites and then the butter and add the cooked rhubarb. Spoon into a friand pan, place the 2 inch lengths on top, and cook for 25 minutes.

Fig, Polenta and ricotta cakes
makes 12
fresh and dried figs, diced
1 cup medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup tepid water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 160.
mix the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
In another bowl, beat the ricotta and water till smooth, add the sugar,honey and zest and beat. Add the butter, followed by the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour mixture.
In a 12-hole muffin tray, grease and fill with the batter till it is a third of the way up. Scatter the figs over all of them and top up with the rest of the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or till it tests done in the middle rack of the oven.

Almond and Strawberry tarts
Makes 12

4 egg whites
150g caster sugar
70g plain flour
65g almond meal
190g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
vanilla bean, seeds
strawberries, halved.

Stir together the egg whites, sugar, flour, almond meal, butter and vanilla till smooth. Sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 160 degrees and grease a 12-hole muffin tray. Fill 1/2 way with the mixture and put half a strawberry on the top of each tart. Bake at the top rack for 20 minutes. It is ready when the tops are golden and spring back.

Check it, I even went to the trouble of wrapping it in cellophane and in my mindless organisation, wrote what they are and who it is for on a label and stuck it on each of them.

And with those 12 yolks...icecream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The night last

I spent in Richmond in an amazing set of apartments with hilarious women.

Two of these women looked very familiar. They would be the head of front of house and the owner/chef of the Commoner.

They were trialling a possible chef for a new project (Catherine's) that is opening on Smith St in March. They gave him a budget, let him loose in the kitchen and then asked him to cook for three people, three courses.

I was lucky enough to have the pear tart that he made, and the pastry is actually the best that I have had in over a year. I swooned, despite my predisposition to dislike sweets.
Another clever thing is that the chef is in a 2 person rock band, and they are called Stereo. Brilliant.

Then, we discussed how the Commoner is apparently lesbian central and the problematic nature of hiring decent staff and how to spot a hippie by their footwear. Funnily enough, Catherine looked at my boots and said, 'If you were to ask me for a job I would look at your feet and give them to you. They are no hippie boots. A on the other hand...'
And music festivals.
Dizzy, dizzy people.

Oh yes, and liquor licensing.
And the things missing from the Commoner.
And how it was started on a measly twenty-three thousand.
I was impressed.

Anyways, I am looking forward to March, and there was an agreement struck between the ladies of the Commoner that if a chef could not be found, the chef from the Commoner would lend her services.
And everything in this restaurant is going to be about wine. Wine in the glass, on the plate, on the walls.



French like Catherine.

Also, the Commoner is doing Christmas lunch, with wood-oven chickens and potatoes and everything very... Commoner.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh yes,

I made a Sezchuan eggplant, broad bean thing the other day which Lute described as 'flavour country,' but I didn't take a photo of it.

Needless to say, it, having used up half the ingredients of my pantry and had me roasting, soaking and pounding chilis and peppers, was friggin' awesome.


Another day.

And, I guess it would have been a first for this blog. Jess makes Asian food.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's that?

Last night, after Vulgergrad played at the Toff, my friend who built Von Haus took tho whole gang there. Now, if you have been there, you know that they serve all wine by the glass and only ever have four reds and whites open at any one time. So, with the bottles left, they must be drunk because they cannot be served the next day.

What happens is that everyone puts in a donation at the end of the night for what we had to drink.

Thanks Hugh...or rather, thanks Mike.

Anyways, if anyone has ever been to Von Haus, you will realise that it is a very small space, impressive, but small.
Also, did anyone else hear that one of the worker's father's got their hand stuck in the commercial meat grinder here a couple of weeks ago? He now has his hand attached to his stomach in preparation for a skin graft.
It's messy work kids.

Let's take a look in their 5x10 kitchen, shall we?

Ooooh, behind the service area, are we?

Despite their diminutive kitchen, they do have room for a microwave. A life saver in the meals they cook, which are mainly stews and soups, if not tarts and pastries, platters and such.

The glorious oven and a rice cooker.
I'm happy, I could live here.

A dishwasher for the ten thousand wine glasses which they have there.

Now, in such a small space, where is the pantry and bigger fridge?
It is in one of the many trap doors in there. So many condiments.
Well done, Buckles.

Going crazy with mirror pieced mosaics.
See the figs in the corner? I'm excited.
Also note the knives and the cling wrap.
From working in the Alexandra club, I have learnt that any kitchen, large or small cannot possibly function without cling wrap.
So, so true.

Coffee machine, wine glasses and things that everyone needs in their home.

And finally, the booze that is behind the counter and more condiments to the left, made in-house.
I stood there with Buckles looking at the Hendricks going, "Top-shelf, top-shelf." The way the boys say, "Top shop," in the first season of Boosh.

Good times.

She did what?

Yeah, totally got take out.

Everything tasted metallic, and by everything I meant water, because I took a few sleeping tablets last night.

I finally regained my ability to taste at 5pm, but I was too tired to cook.

There is this place called Nasi Lemak House on Grattan st, between Cardigan and Lygon. They're good, and constantly packed with slant eyes.

Anyways, even though this is my breakfast, lunch and dinner....buncher, lunchfaster, linnerfast...I could only eat half of it.

It is very good.

Nasi Lemak Sambal Prawns $13.60
Sambal prawns with ican bilis, roasted peanuts, cucumber and a fried egg.

The only complaint is that the fried eggs sit under the bain marie instead of being cooked to order, like the prawns, and have a firm yolk.

Who cares, it's Sunday.

Sucks to be you at Merideth, hey?

At risk of sounding like a weather report, before 9am today, we have had the most rain since February '06. Then, there is the rest of the day up until now.
I was wandering around the city on Thursday afternoon, along Elizabeth street and everyone had a pair of gumboots with them. I obviously had not put two and two together and checked the weather.
But, I am also not one for Merideth. To everyone who has asked me why, I will say it once again.

I hate nature, and nature hates me.

Apparently, by Friday morning, gumboots were sold out around Melbourne.
To that, I think a record has been set and everyone would be wearing the same footwear. It's like boot-camp without the boots, so to speak.

Funnily enough, this morning, nay, afternoon, my friend made baked eggs while I made a vegetable and lentil soup. I didn't get around to eating the soup since I had to run home, but for a change of pace, I made a stew instead.

I am sufficiently sated and full of gluten.

Mushroom and barley stew
Makes a fuckload

100g pancetta, diced
200g mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1 leek, finely sliced
2 ribs of celery, diced
4 stalks of silverbeet, ribs diced and leaves sliced
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
2 cups of barley
red wine
balsamic vinegar
vegetable stock

vegetable stock

Totally prep-bowl heaven.

Saute off the diced pancetta with the mushrooms, season and set aside.
Sweat off the onion, garlic, silverbeet ribs, leek and celery and season.

Then, add the tomatoes and zucchini and turn up the heat.

When everything is done, return the mushrooms and pancetta to the pan and add the barley. Turn the heat on high and add a generous glug of red wine, a glug of balsamic and enough stock to cover.

Make a cartouche, cover with a lid and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes. Stir in the silverbeet leaves in the last two minutes and season to taste.
Make the polenta by whisking the polenta into boiling vegetable stock for 20-30 minutes, making it dryer or as wet as you want. Season with black pepper and add some parmesan to taste.

Serve the stew on top of the polenta with freshly grated parmesan and herbs if you have any.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Homestyle therapy.

When life kicks you up the arse, it is best to bake. I think, I learnt patience and upped my zen by baking. I think this is my fourth night in a row with only a couple of hours sleep, and I have officially run out of sleeping tablets.
And, after working at the gallery yesterday and going to the night market against my body, I had to take the day off. I am convinced that I have an eye infection as I can't stop crying out of one of them so, it makes it hard to read.

I had intended to bake these and go to the SHAC free-free exchange, gathering thing today, but then I realised that I am not into uni life. I hate mingling with uni people and I would rather swallow glass while being lit on fire and defecated on at the same time.

When a poster says to bring something to exchange or a skill or a haircut, I can only imagine the majority of upper-middle class spawn documenting their beginnings of rebellion, hoping it will make it to the news for their parents to see. I can see a sea of green, blue and pink hair, as if a dairy product had gone off in the fridge, swarming through the length of Faraday St. Then, after they dissipate, the remaining few, who probably organised it and are too hungry to cook, will end up going to Threshermans for those awful baked goods and pub food, without the pub.

Savoury polenta muffins to mend what a leotard cannot
Makes 12
6 slices of prosciutto, diced (optional)
1 finely diced onion
1 large handful of decent olives pitted and diced
1 fresh tomato, diced
kernels from 1 cob of corn
1/2 barrel of La Luna Goats cheese, diced
150g plain flour
150g polenta
1 tbs caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
250 mL milk (I used soy, so it made the batter sweeter. If using moo, add more sugar)

Preheat a fan forced oven to 190 degrees.
Saute off the prosciutto if using, and transfer to paper towel. Sweat off the onion in the prosciutto fat or rice bran oil and set aside.
Mix the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Whisk the eggs and milk together.
Add the egg mixture to the flours and stir, halfway through, adding the other ingredients.
Divide into a 12-hole greased muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes or till it tests done.
Serve with a chili and tomato chutney.


(I assume if they're organic, they're also free-range. A little redundant here, hey?)

So, I was talking with one of the girls at the gallery today about her breakfast.

Girl: Oh, I had eggs with hollandaise on toast. Pity they gave me crappy white bread.
Me: I haven't eaten yet. You've made me hungry.
Girl: I love hollandaise on eggs.
Me: I know, eggs on eggs. Who would have thought that would go together? BRILLIANT!
Girl: You're a smart-arse, aren't you?




I've already given you a hollandaise recipe, but here it is again.

3 egg yolks
Juice from half a lemon
150g melted butter

Whisk the yolks over a double boiler and add the lemon juice till it is all nice and pale. Add the butter, keep whisking and season with salt and pepper. If it looks too thick, add a few teaspoons of water to thin it down.
Serve immediately.

I love how the chicken shit and feather are still stuck to the egg. Hell yes!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My sister totally rocks.

'nuff said.

But in all seriousness, they use the ribs or shoulders.

A few random things.

My parents just got back from HK and China and decided to bring back a few things.

Firstly, I love this stuff. If I were not so reflux-y or conscious about fitting into single-digit sized clothing, then I could probably eat around ten of these in one go. It is a glutinous rice ball filled with red bean and coated in coconut. Kind of like the Cantonese interpretation of mochi, but they are less sweet and solid.

I am not sure why my parents bought me so much candy, I don't like sweets. But, this is a bag of soft candies made with rice flour, nuts and lotus seed paste. Somehow, I don't think I will have much self control around these.

And, they made a trip to China and came back with this. It's Chinese fairy floss. I am not sure what it is like as I have never had it before, but it is very solid. VERY solid. The concept of fairy floss scares me though, I know it is just coloured sugar, but think about it. Floss. Floss covered in fairy teeth-cheese.

Of course I save the best till last. Now, who has had a mother not buy them underwear before? Now, I am not sure what makes HK underwear so much better, but she insisted. Funnily enough, I think the last time she bought me underwear, I was in primary school.
However, there is a slight problem here.
1- they are grey
2- they are HUGE
See how I have compared them to a fat pair of my underpants (you know, for the winter-time when you get that layer going)and they still dwarf them. They're a size 8. So, that means that the ones my mother bought are probably the equivalent to a 14.
Why the hell she thinks my ass is that big, I will never know. But, it is the thought that counts. Although, I am slightly disappointed that they're not from Japan...

And, completely unrelated. I went to the market this morning and after laughing with a friend's friend at an Oxfam table, taking photos of puppies with shoes on (yes, that is plural, 2 dogs, 8 feet, 8 tiny, tiny shoes), I bought some truss tomatoes. When I got home, I unloaded my bounty and discovered that the paper bag had this on it.


Grammar, people! Grammar!

Now, I may be a crass and unapologetic bitch who has a penchant for deconstructing language. However, I only endorse it when it makes sense, not when it is done out of complete stupidity.

One thing I have found to be common on blogs is people saying "flavourful." Now, let me demonstrate how WRONG this word is. (if you want to enlarge to see the red dotted/zig-zaggy lines, just click on the image to enlarge...obviously)

Ok, firstly Blogspot itself has something against the word.

Is it no surprise that Microsoft Word 2006 hates it?
Hell no!

Hmm, Gmail doesn't like it either.

Now, no surprises, but I don't have an English dictionary, but I can assure you it won't be in there. The German's don't believe in the word either. Now, as you can see, it is blurry enough, but I attempted to demonstrate how the Swedish and French don't believe in the word either.
And, thus, if the Swedes don't have a word for it, neither do the Norwegians or Danish.

So, why the hell do we put up with it?

Just to clear things up, the word is FLAVOURSOME. And I will not succumb to Americanised spelling. There IS a "U" in the word Flavour!

I also hate when people put "s" on the end of words that don't require it. Like...sheep. SHEEP IS PLURAL, there are no fucking sheepS! Also, there are no FISHES.

Speaking of fish, someone attempted to tell me that boogly eyed fish and what not are all bred that way from people wanting entertaining fish to look at, and that they're just all goldfish that have inbred, like incest babies.

Now, I have wikied it, and seeing as there are different varieties, they can't possibly be inbred fish, or perhaps I am mistaken. I am not a marine biologist.

Can anyone clear that one up for me?