Today was such a good market day! It was the 5th Sunday of the month, and it’s late July, so I wasn’t expecting great things – this tends to be a combination that leads to a smaller number of stalls and fewer interesting vegetables, but the market organisers have done and excellent job of finding different people to fill the gaps, and I didn’t feel as though I was missing out at all. 5th Sunday also means that we are about to swap weeks and lose all those 1st and 3rd Sunday stallholders (including the lovely Rita and her husband), which is always sad, especially as I can never remember who is on in the 2nd and 4th weeks. We’ll find out soon enough…
Monthly Archives: July 2012
I had a couple of lamb mini-roasts from Koallah Farm, which I had planned for dinner when a friend was coming around… in the end, it was just me and Andrew that evening, so I had an entire mini roast, cooked somewhere between rare and medium-rare, leftover. I also had some rather nice flatbreads in the freezer, from a rather epic Scoopon which resulted in terrifying amounts of bread, and a bunch of long eggplants and tinned tomatoes on hand. After yesterday’s outing to Zaatar, I also had labneh, and a yen for more middle-eastern food, so I decided to play with eggplant yogurtlu (a Turkish dish that I am very fond of), flatbreads, zaatar and lamb.
Foolishly, I did not photograph the results, but I’m recording them here anyway, because that was one delicious meal, and I will definitely make it again next time I have leftover lamb.
Your Shopping List2 red onions olive oil – quite a lot, I’m afraid, because eggplants *drink* the stuff. 6 long eggplants 3 cloves of garlic, or more 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, or half a punnet of cherry tomatoes and one or two rather elderly tomatoes that got left out on a bench and forgotten when you had choir one night and Williamstown the next and basically didn’t do any cooking for a few days 400g tinned chopped tomatoes dried mint dried thyme 1 lamb mini-roast, cooked rare (I realise that you aren’t going shopping for this, really. Basically, leftover roast lamb of any kind would be fine, and you want about 300 grams of it) 100 g labneh or thick Greek yoghurt, I think. I really don’t know! It was several big spoonfuls, until the sauce got a bit paler and smelled right… 4 thick flatbreads more olive oil zaatar, to sprinkle on the flatbreads
For many years, there was a truckies’ café called Zorba’s on the corner of Sydney Rd and Munro St, which served cheap souvlaki, chips, hamburgers, and other food of that ilk until 2am weeknights (4am on weekends). In my more nocturnal days, these late hours were an absolute boon, though the souvlakis were occasionally… less than boonful.
Sometime in the last year or so, they closed down, and for a while there was nothing on that corner, but for the last few weeks, as I’ve been walking home of an evening, there has been a lot of activity in that old café. Every day has marked new developments… painting… refurbishing… black and orange café furniture… then some really gorgeous things like a feature wall of what looks like Moroccan photos and architecture, and four big, ornamentally-tiled tables pushed together in the centre of the space to form a communal table. Very attractive. The sign out the front says ‘Zaatar’, which I thoroughly approve of as a name, since it continues the ‘Z’ theme for this corner and is of course the name of a Lebanese herb, seed and spice mix, generally served on bread. (Indeed, their website, which I am already charmed by, tells us that “Zaatar makes you big and strong… and SMART!”)
Walking past this morning, I saw that they were actually open! (Yes, I really was that excited – remember, I walked 14 kilometres to Williamstown yesterday after work, and then went on a ghost walk – you can bet that I was ready for someone else to make my lunch today…) The late morning was set aside to help a friend with house-hunting, but I insisted we go there for lunch. After all, it’s our new local Lebanese place – we need to check it out!
Between work, singing and this allegedly-healthy global walking challenge, I seem to be in a constant state of exhaustion at present, which is not conducive to blog posts. It doesn’t help that I’m so tired I’m actually following recipes at the moment… However, I have a big excursion planned tomorrow for my walking team – we’re going to leave work at 3:30 and walk 13 kms to Williamstown, and then go on a Ghost Tour after dinner. My team is, in fact, the slowest of the three teams at work, but we are also the coolest, because we do outings! And surely that’s what really counts?
I’ve planned this outing in ridiculous detail – 8 weeks into the challenge, a lot of us are flagging or have minor injuries, so not only have I planned a very precise route, I have arranged it so that every kilometre or two, we get within shouting distance of a railway station or a bus stop, to allow anyone who needs it to ride the rest of the way.
And, of course, I am providing snacks – healthy, energy-giving snacks, to speed us on our way. I recently made Almost Vegan’s Five Minute Blondies with Hannah’s Raw Chocolate Icing (with avocado!), which were awesome, but a bit messy for my purposes, so I turned the blondies into truffles, and added a bit of ginger and cinnamon to suit their caramel goodness. But I couldn’t stop at one recipe, and I had leftover dried figs and dried apricots from a pilaf yesterday, and hazelnuts and pistachios also hanging around the house, and raw cacao, and before I knew it, I had two recipes on my hand.
Herewith, before I fall asleep on my keyboard, Nearly Raw Chocolate, Hazelnut and Fig Truffles and Raw Apricot, Orange and Pistachio Truffles. The chocolatey ones are kind of amazing – I didn’t think they tasted very chocolatey, but the chocolate sort of creeps up on you – you taste it for several minutes after you have one. The apricot truffles are a lot like those little apricot delight squares they used to sell at the canteen at my primary school, but with pistachios and orange-flower water giving them a lovely, perfumed flavour. And they are so healthy! Ish…
Your Shopping List for Hazelnut, Chocolate and Fig Truffles
Your Shopping List for Apricot and Pistachio Truffles300 g dried apricots (the soft kind work better) zest of 1 orange 50 g pistachios 1/2 teaspoon of orange flower water
You could roll the hazelnut and chocolate truffles in cocoa powder, if you liked. And, while it seems a pity to spoil the middle-eastern nature of the apricot ones, by doing this, you could roll them in coconut. Or dip them in white chocolate and the others in dark chocolate, which point you’ve pretty much admitted that you aren’t trying to be health-foody any more.
I’m still playing with my Nigella Lawson app. And yes, it’s 7:30 in the morning, which is a stupid time to be baking, but I woke up at 6:00 when I realised we hadn’t put the bins out, and once you’ve dashed in and out of the house a few times and trodden on something sharp and been tripped by rapidly exiting cats, there’s not much point in trying to go back to sleep. I thought I’d be super-organised and do mise-en-place for tonight’s dinner, but there’s only so much you can do when the supermarket didn’t have most of the ingredients last night. Also, I can’t face washing and dealing with greens at this hour.
So that leaves baking. I was going to just do Nigella’s Chocoloat Cookies by following the recipe (I know, I know), but I had this over-ripe banana waiting to be used, which meant I could replace the egg, and at that point, one might as well veganise things entirely. And then I didn’t have the right kind of sugar, so I changed that, too. Though now I’m kicking myself for not using the chocolate-ginger sugar I bought at Gewürzhaus on the weekend, because I can smell how good that would have been. These cookies also narrowly escaped getting smarties or chilli chocolate chunks (actually, the latter would also have been excellent), but I did eventually find suitable plain chocolate to put in them.
Anyway, they are very soft (a little fragile, in fact, though they hold together much better than I had expected), very chocolatey, and quite bananaish, but you can absolutely claim that they are healthy because they have fruit *and* oats *and* dark chocolate, all of which are very good for you (and we’ll just pretend we didn’t see all that butter / nuttelex and sugar)…
Your Shopping List100 g butter or Nuttelex (dairy-free margarine), softened 25 g brown sugar 100 g raw caster sugar with vanilla bean, or just raw caster sugar and add a splash of vanilla later. I’m not actually as posh as that sounds, I’m just currently keeping my vanilla beans in the raw sugar, so that they don’t get lonely. Also, you could go half and half caster and brown sugar if you don’t have access to raw caster sugar. 1 over-ripe banana 75 g oats (see! healthy!) 75 g flour 40 g cocoa 1/2 tsp bicarb 1/2 tsp baking powder 125 g chopped up chocolate, whatever you have around the house will work (ie, you could get away with chopped chocolate bars, or smarties, but good dark chocolate is great, and if it’s infused with something warm like orange or ginger or spices, that would be fabulous
This is a quick, promissory post, because I have been out basically all weekend with singing and visiting people, except for last night, when I was at home and might theoretically have been productive if I hadn’t had a very needy velcro cat attached to me at all times telling me that the house was on fire (she doesn’t like the pyrolytic oven cleaning cycle) and then wailing that her daddy had abandoned her (he had gone out for the evening and did, in fact, come back, just like he always does when he goes out, but Mystery still feels that operatic arias are called for in these circumstances).
So yeah, no blogging, and not much cooking either.
But I *did* accidentally discover recipe apps on my iPhone, and more specifically, Nigella Lawson’s cookbook app, which fills me with delight. And sugar. And she has this one, utterly beautiful, recipe, which I simply had to make this afternoon, in between two lots of choir and visiting a friend and trying to get dinner underway so that we would eat before midnight. It’s a recipe for macaroons, and it starts with the usual sort of instructions for mixing up sugar, almond meal, eggwhites and, in this case, cardamom, into a thick paste. And then comes the beautiful part.
You wash your hands in rosewater, and use your damp, rose-scented hands to shape the macaroons into balls.
How gorgeous is that? Not only do you imbue your biscuits with a gentle waft of roses, but your hands are perfumed with rose (and cardamom) for the rest of the afternoon. Yes, even after washing them. Though not after chopping garlic with them, alas.
I truly believe that all baking recipes should have a step like that in them. It embodies all the sensual beauty of cooking. And for me, it chimes with the way baking is somehow cleansing and relaxing and calming, grounding and peaceful and energising.
Of course you should wash your hands with rosewater in such a ritual. It’s a perfect instruction – it fits perfectly. I can’t believe I’ve never done it before…
(the macaroons were pretty good, too)
This time last year…Kitchen Chemistry Again Recipe: Grapefruit Pectin Jellies
I was going to stop with the slices, I truly, truly was, but then someone sent around an email this afternoon saying that she couldn’t bring cake for tomorrow’s Admin meeting, and asking if anyone could fill in for her. Really, what could I do?
Of course, a normal person might have stopped at one sort of slice. But then, I’ve never claimed to be normal.
Also, sparkly coloured sugar! This meeting is going to be very cheerful, because we will all be hyped up on sugar and food colouring. I’m sure this will enhance our productivity no end…
Of course, now it’s nearly 11pm, largely because in between making too much slice, I’ve been having a Masterchef Mini Marathon, so once again, I’m going to be totally sleep-deprived at work tomorrow. But it’s totally worth it. (I’ll post the recipe for honeyjoy slice in a day or two, when I’m less exhausted)
This time last year…
… hasn’t changed much since this morning, actually, but since it’s nearly midnight, I’ll skip ahead by a day…
1. Be seduced by the new Women’s Weekly Little Squares and Slices cookbook when out at lunch on Thursday. Accidentally buy it (this could happen to anyone).
2. Spend quite a lot of Thursday afternoon showing said cookbook to a randomly-selected sample of one’s colleagues. Conclusion: This cookbook is dangerous. Also, we are all hungry now.
3. No time for baking after choir on Thursday! Spend all Friday at work distracted by thoughts of slice. Spend Friday lunchtime methodically going through the cookbook working out which slice to bake first. Narrow it down to ten slices which need to be baked immediately.
4. Somewhat less-randomly selected sample of colleagues are all in favour of ten kinds of slice, and suggest others, too.
5. Get home rather late on Friday and immediately go shopping to get ingredients for the first three slices. Because moderation is important! But we do have friends coming for afternoon tea on Saturday, so slice is important too!
I accidentally bought a cookbook on Thursday. It really wasn’t my fault. I was having a very bad day, complete with cramps and a completely wasted lunch break looking (unsuccessfully) for display folder refill sheets, and as I left the fifth and last shop which didn’t have anything of the sort, I was accosted by a new Women’s Weekly book on slices. Which was completely unfair, because I’ve been wanting to make slices a lot recently, and none of my cookbooks really have the sort of slices that speak to me.
These ones spoke to me. In fact, they spoke to me so loudly that I’ve made five different kinds of slice so far this weekend – for no other reason but that I am in the throes of a baking frenzy – and am seriously considering making more slice after choir tomorrow. Because I’ll be taking some of the existing slices to choir, and then there might not be enough left for all my colleagues on Monday!
Anyway, I will be reviewing this cookbook shortly, but the very first slice I made was a chocolate crackle slice which, naturally, I took one look at and couldn’t resist making vegan… and gluten-free… and alcoholic…
There’s no Copha in this, and it definitely delivers a good hit of dark, dark, chocolatey goodness. It won’t fix your sugar cravings (which is why I then had to make caramel slice… and hummingbird slice… and popcorn slice…), but if you are looking for an adult-friendly version of a childhood treat, look no further…
Your (slightly pretentious for chocolate crackles) Shopping List370 g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely (ideally Lindt 70%. Pretentious, remember? You could substitute in 50 g of white chocolate if you are being particularly clever) 100g almond butter. Which might as well be organic. 175 g golden syrup 2 tbsp Kirsch liqueur (optional but good) 4 cups of puffed rice cereal (note that if you are avoiding gluten, rice bubbles will not be appropriate here – I found properly gluten-free rice puffs in our health food aisle)
This barely qualifies as a recipe. It has two ingredients, other than seasonings, and the method could be summed up in a single sentence. Except, this is me, Catherine McWordy, writing this, so we all know that I will rabbit on randomly about nothing in particular regardless…
Basically, I had this kaffir lime, and these avocadoes, and this vegetarian chilli in need of a guacamole, but I was too lazy to do anything elaborate, so I just made this, and then it tasted really good and really *interesting* – I love how perfumed and tangy kaffir lime is – and it was too late to take photos. You will have to imagine it for yourself. Or make it, of course.
Your Shopping List2 ripe avocadoes. If you know how to tell from the outside the point at which an avocado is ripe but not browning, you are a wiser person than I am. 1 kaffir lime salt and pepper to taste