Tuesday, 19 April 2011

One new thing...

OK, so I have done one thing new in the last month, and that's this lovely recipe for dark greens. These bitter vegetables are terribly good for you, and I love the complexity of the huge flavours you get with the bitter greens, acid lemon, hot chilli and fruity oil. The bitterness is much mitigated by a bit of acid - unless you're a super-taster, in which case there's no chance.

I started with this recipe from Serious Eats. Basically, you pan fry your greens with olive oil, onion, garlic and chilli until they are well done. This takes a couple of minutes for spinach, a bit longer for silverbeet, maybe 10 minutes for Tuscan kale (cavolo nero) and 15 minutes for regular kale. When it's cooked, add a little acid - a tablespoon or so of lemon juice or cider vinegar for a regular bunch of greens.

And then it's ready - a good side dish. Or you can follow the Serious Eats idea and make quesadillas with it. I've done this using multigrain wraps, and it worked fine. You do need to include both mozzarella and fetta, though, or they won't stick together.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Tweaking recipes, Using Things Up

One reason for my fairly sparse blogging has been a dearth of new recipes. When I'm busy at work, and travelling, and eating out, home cooked food tends to resort to the staples.

Now that it's colder at night, a hearty soup is a fine thing. The most recent one I made was a variation on this chorizo and lentil soup. I had a tomato glut, and used B1's mouli to turn it into passata, so instead of a bit of tomato paste and a litre of chicken stock, I used half a litre of chicken stock and half a litre of passata. And I blended the soup before adding the chorizo; the bloke likes his soups smooth. (Except laksa. The rules are complicated.)

Another variation came because I was out of cumin. I decided to use a 1/2 teaspoon of ground wattleseed instead, having discovered quite some time ago that this goes surprisingly well with tomato. It adds a dark caramel roast savouriness - but do be careful not to overdo it. The half teaspoon was plenty.

So that was good.

I've also been cooking a lot of old standards. This week's muffin was apple and cinnamon, with some older apples from the fridge. We've been eating keema and spag bol with mince from the freezer. There's been a chicken noodle stirfry, and a lamb curry with paste from the market and the last of the beans from the garden. Homemade pizza is good for finishing the odds and ends of ham, salami, olive, artichokes, etc. I've been roasting tomatoes to use in soup and curry and pasta sauce, and roasting rhubarb from the garden - the latest time with some plums and rosewater.

I've also cooked and frozen a batch of figs, with the intent of making jam later in the year. We're off on a big holiday soon, and have our usual Easter houseguests before then, so I have no time to be fiddling with pectin and jars. I can't believe I never thought of doing this before. It's B1's idea.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

OMG, online at last!

The Canberra Times is finally posting selected food and wine content on line, including reviews. Here it is. I tremble in anticipation.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sydney feature, with New in Town in Newtown

As I mentioned earlier, we recently had a weekend in Sydney. We stayed a night with some friends in Dee Why, who took us off to a Korean BBQ place up behinds the main street. It's called Let's Meat - and if you know Lizotte's, a kind of newish dinner-theatre style music venue, it's directly behind that. Lizotte's looks fabulous - they get some great shows through and have a classy sounding menu.

I can't (yet) vouch for Lizotte's menu, though I intend to try it sometime. But I can say that Let's Meat stands out above the usual Korean BBQ for their meat selection. The chef puts a lot of work into the marinades, including traditional Chinese herbal spiced pork and the classic beef bulgogi, as well as inventing his own. The plum sauce sirloin was terrific. It's a buffet style, with all the kimchi, salads and pickles you could want, and fried dumplings and spring rolls to start off with.

On our second night we stayed in a hotel in town, so we could easily walk home from the Tim Minchin concert - the main reason for this visit. Next morning we slept in until half an hour before checkout time, and went off to Newtown for breakfast. It's been ten years since we moved from there now, and North Newtown seems to have gone a step too far upmarket to be interesting. Enmore road and South Newtown is where the off-beat stuff happens now. As a rough generalisation, Enmore road is more goth and kink, while south Newtown is more retro and hippy.

We had breakfast at a place called "New in Town", located where the old Chocolate Dog cafe is no more. They did a decent coffee, and we ate fluffy ricotta pancakes (me, $11), and a lovely BLT in a crusty long roll (bloke, $7). They do Polish at night, says their sign, and there's Polish sausage options for breakfast if that's your thing. Then we went for a short stroll as the shop owners were blearily setting up for their 11am and noon opening hours. We browsed around some Turkish and Afghan importers shops, and picked up some amusing jewelry from Mink Schmink. There's a nice range there, mostly in the cheap and quirky vein. So, that was fun, and then it was time to go home.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Et tu, Flute?

I had to go out to Fyshwick to buy a new dishwasher hose, so of course I had to drop in at the Flute bakery. I got a lovely sourdough loaf, of course, and also picked up some of their Easter range - the hot cross brioche. This is cute, but I don't really recommend them. They're a nice enough little roll of rich dough, but sadly under-spiced to be a proper hot cross bun substitute. The fruit is just sultanas. No currants, and then there's the vexed issue of the mixed peel. Sadly, Flute have gone along with the recent trend to eliminate it. It's just not right having a hot cross bun without that little bitter citrus tang. For the first time, I am disappointed in Flute.

However, on a positive note, That Bagel Place is now making hot cross bagels! I queued up for them in the market this morning, and was not disappointed with them at all. Nicely spiced, and with the odd dot of peel. Yum! It was their "bagel of the week", so we can't count on a re-occurrence. But I do hope they continue baking these until Easter - that would make sense.