Monday, March 22, 2010

If I ever wonder...

...why I'm obsessive about cooking, why I always over-cater, or why I always cook more dishes than necessary, I just have to look to my father. Describing his cooking skills as 'survival only' (pffft!), he whips up breakfasts involving fluffy banana pancakes, crispy bacon with maple syrup and rum-spiked fruit salad, and cooks his own farewell dinners consisting of homemade green pesto toasts; lentil, prawn and chorizo stew; salmon croquettes, tamarind-oyster sauce chicken wings, Texan-style pork ribs, grilled home-grown eggplant, rice and green salad.

Hey, Dad, I'll miss you when you go to Texas! Please bring back ridiculously decadent recipes involving bacon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Caramelised Red Onion and Feta Quiche

I found this in my drafts folder and thought, 'Hey! I never posted that!'.

This quiche was awesomely delicious but it never set properly (poor cream to egg ratio, I believe). The red onions were sliced thinly and cooked on a low heat for a very, very (painstakingly) long time until caramelised, and mixed with beaten eggs, chopped feta, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

I think I need to make this again!

Friday Night Pasta

Once I had tidied up my office on Friday afternoon, flicked off the powerswitches to my computer and printer and turned off the lights, I couldn't help but secretly jump up and down a few times. I was experiencing a mild case of Friday evening euphoria. I giggled to myself as I locked my office door and got the lift down to the ground floor. I could almost hear music that wasn't there! Next stop - King and Godfrey on Lygon Street to buy a bottle of Pinot Noir and something delicious to turn in to dinner. I pretty much skipped there!

I ended up with a 2008 Underground Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula (a delicious bargain at $15), two delicate, milky balls of buffalo mozzarella, four slices of local Italian-style prosciutto, and some De Cecco Orecchiette (little ears!) pasta.

With this I invented a very delicious, simple and indulgent version of carbonara. I have no idea whether it resembles anything traditional. I don't care. It was perfect.

Friday Carbonara - Serves 2

250 g Orecchiette pasta
100 - 150g prosciutto, cut into small strips
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thin cream
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoons salt
olive oil and salt for pasta water
2 small buffalo mozzarella balls
Extra pepper to serve

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons cracked pepper.
Meanwhile, boil pasta in a large pot (use one that has a fitted lid, for later) of salted water (be generous with the salt!) and a glug of olive oil. In a small pan, heat a dash of olive oil and pan fry the prosciutto until crispy. Set aside. When pasta is ready, drain and immediately return to pot. Stir through egg mixture, fit lid onto pot, wrap pot tightly with tea towel (to further keep heat in) and shake gently. Leave for 3 or 4 minutes, shaking pot occasionally. Whilst waiting, cut buffalo mozzarella into thin slices. After 4 minutes, stir through prosciutto. Dish up onto places and then arrange mozzarella slices of the top. Sprinkle with extra pepper.

Serve with delicious wine and some extra jumping around with Friday excitement.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Film Shoot Catering

On a recent Sunday, my house became inhabited by a film crew making a video clip for the semi-hiatused folk-pop-rock sweethearts Duckdive.

(The film crew takes over the living room!)

Let me make it clear to you from the get-go. I have no film making desire. I do not understand how films are made to any degree of clarity, and if anyone attempts to explain I usually wave them off and say 'I don't want the magic ruined!'. So, When it was suggested that Duckdive's first video clip be made at my house, it was not a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the workings of a film crew that got me excited. It was the possibility of cooking for these people!

I decided to work to the incredibly low budget of $20 - not including kitchen staples I already had such as flour, oil etc. Whilst the cool cats set up their equipment, turned my bedroom into a film set, blacked out windows and viewed and re-viewed takes in quiet determination, I was in the kitchen making the snacks.

I learned many things about films over those two days (whether I wanted to or not!). That they take an incredibly long time to make, and you have to be incredibly patient. That there is a lot of waiting around, filling in time until it's your turn to do your little bit of magic. And that groups of people, no matter how big or small, humble or important, can always be placated with food.

Golden cinnamon cookies

Chilli, olive, bacon and herb muffins

Chorizo, chickpea and vegetable soup

Sourdough sesame rolls (based on this recipe, minus the dutch oven and cut into eight pieces)

By far the most popular were the cinnamon cookies, which were munched enthusiastically over the two days of filming. But it all went down well. So there you go - if you aren't feeling particularly creative at the moment, but want to conjure up the feeling of being involved in dynamic, creative things, I'd suggest hosting a film crew at your house and cooking for them. All the vicarious excitement with only a smidgeon of the effort!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crazy Corn Quinoa!!

This is one of those throw together meals that actually worked. I've been feeling quite ill recently, which hasn't been helped by my diet which has consisted mainly of macaroni cheese and pie. This is super duper healthy and fast and fun and yummy. I don't really have a recipe for it, so I'll just sort of lay out the facts and you can follow them how you like.

So, I began by cooking the quinoa. Actually I lie, it's not quinoa. It's actually this neat grain mix I found at the health food store. It's a mix of different types of quinoa and amaranth. I've been using it a lot lately. I find it to be much tastier than the grains on their own.

Anyway, next I chopped up some green beans, a head of broccoli, half a red bell pepper, and two cobs of corn, into small pieces. I put these in a pan with some cumin, turmeric, chili and a little oil. While this as cooking, I toasted some pine nuts. When everything was nice I added the pine nuts and a hell of a lot of sesame seeds to the vegies and let everything mingle for a while. Just before I was ready to eat, I stirred through the grain mix and ta da, dinner is done!

You can use almost any veggies for this. I just happened to love corn and have a lot of it in the fridge. The corn and the pine nuts worked really well together though. xx

Monday, March 8, 2010

Choc Chip Cookies

This week my swing dancing class is having "Cake Break". What this essentially means is that after having our normal class, we all sit around and eat baked goods. This special event has mainly been created because our teacher, Steph, enjoys created excuses to bake. This sits very well with me and has given me the push I needed to get back into the kitchen. I wasn't really sure what to bake. I needed something that was pretty quick to make (as I have a ton of school work to catch up on), easy to transport and easy to share. The transport issue was extremely important due to the fact that it's been hailing like crazy the last few days. I eventually decided on the always perfect chocolate chip cookie. Practically everyone in the world likes them and they're pretty hard to stuff up.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar (I just use whatever is in the cupboard, dark brown sugar with some white sugar is nice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 whole egg + 1 yolk
2 packets of chocolate chips (I used one packet of Cadbury milk chocolate and one packet of Nestle white chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line baking trays with paper.

Mix flour, bicarb soda and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar.

Add the vanilla and eggs to the wet mixture and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and stir till just mixed.

Stir in the chips till it looks about right.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays. I usually squish them down a little with a fork, but I don't actually think this does much because of all the chips! Cook them for about fifteen minutes. I have to watch mine because my oven is screwed and doesn't heat evenly. For instance, this time I took out the bottom tray at 15 minutes and the top tray didn't come out till 30 minutes! Whatever tickles your fancy.

Take them out and EAT! They're not the prettiest things, but who has time to look when they're stuffing as many as they can in their mouth. yum yum x