Saturday, August 27, 2011

An ode to the death of smears and soils

Surely it’s not just me... is anyone else having issues with the rising food vernacular of smears and soils? Seems far too toilet inspired for my tea and a serious case of rampant (read unnecessary) food title inflation.

When did a crumble become a soil? Why did crumble not do it for you menu-writing aficionados?

“Crumble” and all its wondrous, instant connotations, is as beautiful and poetical as it needs to be. Fewer words in the food dictionary, other than ice cream so instantly signify dessert. And I beseech you, how does ‘soil’ replace that very physical act of crumbling yourself – firstly to your self control then the glorious state of your heart and soul as that crunchy, buttery sweet goodness slides down your throat….

Hmpphhhhh – I think you soil types need to get out more.

So in a rampant rejection to all things ‘soiled’ and a welcome celebration of all things humble and crumble, a few ‘dressed’ versions for us to enjoy during these last gasps of cooler days.

Apple and Ginger Beer Tea-cup Crumble

Apricot, molasses, white chocolate and rosemary crumble

Spiced mixed berry and chocolate star anise crumble

Crumble - Basic
65g plain flour
25g caster sugar
50g butter

For the ginger beer crumble add a healthy pinch of ground ginger

For the white chocolate crumble add 75g good quality white chocolate plus leaves of 1 small sprig fresh rosemary.

For the spiced chocolate crumble add 1 tablespoon of dutch cocoa powder and a teaspoon of mixed spice and a small pinch of ground star anise.

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix until a coarse breadcrumb consistency is achieved. Place into a baking tray lined with baking paper and brown in the oven until tanned and toasty. Usually about ten minutes at 180C.

Apple and Ginger Beer Filling
500 - 750g green apples peeled and roughly chopped
750ml ginger beer
4 tablespoons caster sugar (or to taste)
Squeeze of lemon juice

Add the apples and lemon juice to a large saucepan and cook down over a low heat until fruit has broken down to a compote consistency (lumpy cellulite liquid consistency)

In a separate saucepan add the gingerbeer and caster sugar. Over medium heat reduce the liquid until at least half and a syrup consistency is achieved. Pour syrup over the cooked apple and stir to combine.

Pour into oven proof teacups, top with crumble mixture and warm in a 180C oven for ten minutes or until browned on top and warmed through. Serve with a vanilla bean ice cream.

Spiced mixed berry and chocolate star anise crumble
500 - 750g mixed berries
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 star anise, ground

Add the fruit,spices and caster sugar to a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 - 15 minutes or until a nice compote, sticky fruity mess consistency is achieved. Pour into cooking vessels, top with the chocolate crumble and then cook in a 180C oven for 10 - 12 minutes until warmed through and the crumble is nice and crunchy.

Serve with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

The apricot crumble is about to be published in a magazine so I have to wait but will post as soon as I can.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A moment for peanut butter pie...

It's 2am and I cant sleep for the life of me and I've given up all hope for it now after discovering a truly lovely lovely story that singlehandedly defines why so many of us love food - its ability to communicate in a non verbal way how we care.

Food blogger Jennifer Perillo lost her husband suddenly to a heart attack last week and asked friends to make his favourite pie - a creamy peanut butter pie. Now I have always been a firm believer that if you make someone a pie then you have a friend for life. And right now Jennifer needs all the pies she can get.

Too often the food industry is labelled as bitchy and in a way it is - the jobs are scarce, the work hard to come by no matter your skills, and your reputation is often dictated by others rather than what you produce. The peanut butter pies being made the world over by the food blogging community shows the really lovely otherside to this world. The uniting, loving, all consuming force of food - something that all the other bullshit can never get in the way of.

I'm off to make 2am peanut butter pie for Jennifer. And for Mike.

Don't believe me? Check out this video made about the masses of pbp being made.
For Mikey

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An afternoon in the garden

Just a sneak peak from a great afternoon of styling done with florist Roberta Moberg and photographer Karen Buckle. Will post the rest of the shoot and the recipes I prepared soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A downturn in my market

Let's talk debt for a moment. Why not - everyone else is. Take my own personal pantry crisis and fridge deficits and it's a dire situation indeed peeps. And one made no better by my poor forecasting skills that led me to save a bunch of $2 heirloom carrots over my iphone from a near roadside ending. Oh and here's the kicker. My phone was run over by a Prius.

The damn carrots

The phone post Prius

Maybe if I send it to Apple to show it still sort of works they might send me a new one????? Puuullleeeaassseeee.......

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An A - Z of irksome foodie things

A few food irks to take you into your weekend

Last supper at El Bulli
A. Anorexia inspired actresses who score a seat at the final dinner of what has long been considered one of the most phenomenal restaurants in the world. El Bulli. Surely that was a hard seat to get - maybe they needed a few more fans of olive scented air and frozen bullshit before they at last closed their doors.

B. Bompas & Parr. Because they are on the otherside of the world and I am jealous to the pit of my oesophagous of their whimsical and fantastical events like outdoor cinema with Hendrick’s cocktails, hot food, crown making workshops, gypsy palmistry and the auction of a small boat. If you happen to live in London this is the kind of thing you get to enjoy so here are the deets.

C.Coffee Cupping. At first I was intrigued, now I'm just miffed. Like wine tasting this involves sniffing, swilling, tasting and then spitting (& the crowd is aghast). Anyone who needs coffee the way I do(hello friends)has no time for such niceties. It's more like - grind the damn beans man and get on with it before I become all freedom fighter on your shiz.

D. David, Elizabeth.
Holy shit Batman this woman created cookbooks that should, to this day, still be on everyone's shelves. She revolutionised the way people cook and inspired creativeness with garlic. Kudos. The bar has been set high for the rest of us recipe writing mignons.


E.Eggs that have been messed with.
The poor egg and the chickens that hatch them and the people that buy them have had it rough lately. Not only does it have to be free-range, laid only at dusk and plucked from ducted air-conditioned hen houses by the hands of virgins, but the poor little oeuf now has to come with a dinky little hat and how-to guide. When will it end. This is abuse people.

F. False promises on menus.
Menus - laminated, paper, or hugged in leather - no matter how they are housed, the lack of creativity, absence of spelling skills, and limited understanding of cooking terms can be horrifying. And what exactly does the prefix 'lightly' mean - lightly poached, lightly steamed - WTF? And why is it soup of the day...yawn. Where are the "specials of the moment" or dishes that are announced rather than stated. What I wouldn't do for a menu that said gird your loins people - this is lunch. It's time for menus that let the food get in the way so we can get excited about our tea instead of quandering the world of lightly poached and all its intricacies.

Gourmet Garden Basil 115g
G. Gourmet Garden Herbs. 
Lets be honest - they are not herbs, they are additive laden 
flavourings for lazy bastards. No herb that chopped stays green, it becomes very very black. And no herb, well certainly no herb I've ever met has a shelf life that, and I quote, "lasts for months".  

H.Homemade Soda in a jar.
Ok it looks cute and has been doing the rounds on the wedding blogs of late but have you tried to drink from a jar - its quite difficult and a touch too pedestrian - best to leave our drinking vessels to the likes of Reidel and friends me thinks.

I.Inside Insides.
Vegetable MRI's - they are kind of creepy and kind of cool and strangely close to those weird learn about sex informational videos we were forced to watch in our younger years by even weirder Phys Ed teachers. 

J. Japanese KitKat.
Now I normally go a bit silly for anything out of Japan - the design, packaging and inventiveness is generally second to none but this rancid coloured kitkat is just rude.
It is true sacrilege of the original.

K. Koelle Rebbe
The German Advertising Agency for creating the parmesan pencil and only making 500 of these beauties. A parmesan pencil that you can shave over your salad - this is pure genious. Why 500? This little darling has the potential to change the world. As far as I'm concerned this is up there with putting man on the moon. Oh and the lead was different flavourings such as truffle or pesto. Sigh.
Braised Lettuce with Bacon, Shallots, and Peas

 L. Lettuce. Grilled that is.
According to chowhound the fresh salad is out and grilled lettuce is in. Who on earth wants soggy, manky lettuce? Didn't we spend decades recovering from the overboiled vegetables only to turn around and get it all over again. Sometimes the fact that Australia is a long way away is a good thing - here is hoping it doesnt catch on.

M. Macaroons for real people.
These are genious. I've only included them because I'm dirty I didnt think of it myself dammit. Finally a macaroon that might last longer than a sniff.


N. Nooice Napkins.
I saw these and wondered if that lovely lady who decided to go postal with her on-chair urinating at a football match dare she miss a forward pass might find these somewhat delightful. Safer bet is she doesnt actually know what a napkin is but this might be a fitting introduction to napery.

O. Okra
The living vegetable of mediocrity. I'm not quite sure what this adds to a dish and I'm certain that its not exotic,it's just shit. I'll admit small okra pods have a much more involved texture than the large ones which, when cooked, can be sticky, gloopy, stringy and send a dish on its way out but I'm definitely not convinced this veg is worthy of the hype.
Photo by Tiger in a Jar
P. Pine Nut Syndrome.
Turns out pine nuts can poison your tastebuds and the after-effects of "bitter tasting everything" can last for months. It truly is a cruel world.

Q. Quasi-legal restaurant operations. Give it up peeps - the underground pop up novelty was so 2010. Leave the cooking to the professionals and stop being so skint by cooking dinner for your friends and asking them to pay for it.One has to question why you would strangers in your home rifling through your things...weird.

R. Rustic. If ever there was a word I despise, rustic is it. Love turned to hate when this reference to the delights of provincial cooking was used with reckless abandon. It's now akin to describing something as nice. And such a beige word in a world that gloriously suits words with multiple syllables, sexual innuendos, political incorrectness and names that explode off the tongue (think canapes and chateaubriand)make this a travesty.

S. Sandwiches.
Must we really talk about various sandwiches as if they are the most wondrous, novel thing - from sliders to Ruebens and now the southern inspired Pimento cheese. I think its time to accept that in any incarnation the bread and middle is pretty much awesome and if anyone gets a hats off moment it should be da man. The creator himself - the Earl of Sandwich.

T. Tacky food Ads.
This could have been funny and clever but unfortunately it reeks of Madmen 1950s mentality without Donald Draper, 9am scotches and those dapper suits. A big fail and thankfully one that was quickly recognised. Evidently this advert by California Milk only ran once before it was pulled.
I don't know what everyone else is having in their cup of tea but I did not know nor have I found that milk genuinely eases the symptoms of PMS - if it did the world would be a nicer place.

U Upscale Congee.
Whaaat? I've got a novel idea -lets leave the pedestrian foods, oh I don't know, on the streets where they belong, left alone to thrive rather than glorify them with unnecessary foodie wank and restaurant settings that take away that imminent fear of food poisoning which makes them so damn fun and risque to eat in the first place.
V. Voyeurism. Yep the newly designated art of armchair chef-dom has given me irrites up the wazoo. Cooking in your kitchen at home is easy. Under pressure in a kitchen with shit going wrong, people fighting for pans, lighters, knives and coriander is not. Its hot, hard, stressful and the pay is dire (some executive chefs excluded). So to those who sit on their asses at home all knowing about the finer points of a fluffy gnocchi and who think its acceptable to jump online and say that a Masterchef contestant "deserves to die" - get a life.Or a job in a kitchen. The show shits me too but those kind of comments have got to go.Didnt your mother ever tell you to play nicely?

W. Whoever invented the chef pant. 
Have you seen these badboys? The full extent of their ugliness is baffling.They are the kitchen version of that television camera that adds 10 pounds. Hideous. At least no one has to worry about too much tom-foolery in the kitchen because these pants are the anti-christ to any kind of sexual whim or desire.

Maybe just X on its own for being such a shit letter that I cant really attribute anything to because Asian languages are not my forte and they seem to be the only ones with food items and food trends starting with the dam thing. So letter X dam you. How does it feel to be the most unloved letter of the alphabet even if you do mark the spot??

Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic Energy Shots

Y.Yerba & strange energy drinks.
While I may have no existing medial knowledge to support my paranoia I just don't understand those strange liquids that claim they thwart the natural processes of the human body to artificially boost productivity. Boosts to productivity generally don't come in a can and I dont think you can buy them at the 7- Eleven either. In the carpark maybe but not instore.

Z. Zumbo.
And no not for the revered man himself - the guy is a frikkin genious but for the silly tots who line up for 3 hours on their Saturday morning for a macaron. For f*&k's sake peeps, its a biscuit and it looks like feeding time at the zoo.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A little Monday Morning Mantra

Photo via Yellowtrace

And some very wise words from the wonderful Nigella Lawson 

 "I don't like mess, but I can't do tidy."

 I just heard the collective sigh of understanding.