Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eating my fill

I think I've cooked less this Christmas than I ever have before, thanks to a combination of being invited to eat out, and having goodies brought to me (thank you all - you know who you are, and you know how much I enjoyed it all). On Christmas day night we had last year's pudding, doused  liberally with extra brandy and steamed for two hours. It was a great success - except that because Harvey wasn't here, we couldn't get the brandy to flame up around it (he was always in charge of that and got it right).
     
But one thing I did manage to make, or at any rate assemble, was a new kind of mince pie. Last year Ali had given me some of her mistressly home-made Christmas mincemeat, but because of the upheavals back then I hadn't used much of it, and still had plenty left. It's as different from bought mincemeat as magnificent home-made marmalade is from its supermarket equivalent.


I love Christmas mince pies, but while I'll happily eat the ones with sweet short pastry when I'm given them, I've always preferred them made with flaky pastry and served warm. This year I came up with a new idea that suited me perfectly. I bought little ready-made filo pastry cases from Tony Gamboni, carefully filled them with Ali's mincemeat and heated them up gently in the oven. But when I went to take a photo I discovered I'd used all the cases, so I'll get some more when the deli reopens and put a photo in later. We had them for lunch after our gathering for Harvey's plaque, and I made some more for myself on Christmas Eve. You keep the cases and mincemeat separate until you need them, so they're perfect for extra visitors.
             

Another very simple Christmas treat I've got used to is buying the Italian Christmas bread, panettone, and toasting slices of it for breakfast.  It's like a slightly solider brioche with crystallised peel and dried fruit, and the first time I had it was the year Harvey and I had Christmas dinner at Lake Como, when they served it as the last of six courses.
           This year I didn't have it on Christmas morning because I was going down the road for fruit and croissants, first with Paul's home-smoked salmon and then with Lesley's jam. But I've been happily tucking in ever since. One medium panettone lasts a long time if you keep it in the fridge, and the last of it makes amazing bread and butter pudding (see that post).
           On Wednesday I went up the coast to friends at their beautiful beach house for the afternoon and dinner outside (it was the last fine day). We had their home-smoked kahawai made into pate, and barbecued Middle Eastern spicy lamb fillets. I took the dessert - berries and lemon mousse (see that post too), which I decorated with more dried strawberries. I used all the pretty heart-shaped pieces, and kept the little side bits for myself. This morning I had them piled on toasted and buttered panettone, and it was absolute bliss, halfway between fruit and jam.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Moreish mayonnaise

Home-made mayonnaise comes in really handy at this time of year. The asparagus will soon be finished, so it's good to make the most of it. Then there's potato salad - those lovely little Jersey Bennes make a really good one - and mayonnaise is great for that too, or for any kind of salmon.
          The classic Julia Child recipe - not the tricky hand-made one, but the one you make in the food processor (she says it works much better than a blender for this) - makes quite a lot, and last week I wanted less, so I just adapted the recipe slightly and it worked fine.

Food processor mayonnaise (after Julia Child)
1 egg and 1 yolk
Process these together in the blender for a minute.

Pinch of dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh lemon juice and/or wine vinegar

With the machine running, add the mustard, salt, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

1 cup best quality salad oil (you can also use olive oil, but I think a lighter oil tastes better, though it must be fresh, not old. I used canola.)
More salt, pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar as needed

Put the oil in a jug. With the machine running, start adding the oil in a stream of droplets, until you've used half the oil and the mayonnaise is very thick. Thin it out with lemon juice or vinegar, then continue with the oil until the whole cup has gone in. Taste and season carefully with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar if required.

The way these very basic ingredients turn into such gloriously thick, glossy, delectable stuff always strikes me as a kind of kitchen magic. Bon appetit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Essence of strawberries

I wanted to make something special but very simple for a dinner tonight. Harriet Harcourt's blog Fridge Pie has an astonishing recipe for pink peppercorn meringues, lime curd and dried strawberries. I'll make the whole thing one day, but for tonight, all I wanted was the dried strawberries.
           The recipe is really simple, it just takes a little time. Preheat the oven to 100C (or a little lower fan forced - I put mine at 90C). Slice 250g strawberries into thin slices. I used large ones, and got two heart-shaped centre slices and two side bits out of each strawberry. Place a sheet of baking paper on an oven tray and lay out the strawberry slices on it. Sprinkle them with 3 teaspoons of caster sugar. 


Bake for an hour, or until dry. I found it worked best to turn each slice over carefully when the top side was dry, and leave them in for another 10-15 minutes to dry off the other side. 


When they're cool,. lift them off carefully and leave on a rack.






They leave little strawberry ghosts behind on the paper.
         We ate these entirely by themselves, after the cheese, but they'd also be very good alongside strawberry ice-cream, or on top of tarts... They look beautiful and give a burst of pure, intense strawberry flavour. There were three left, so naturally I ate them while I wrote this.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas pudding advisory

On 28 November last year I  wrote about our Christmas and making the pudding, and Deborah commented: "I'm hoping that next year you will put a Public Service Advisory on your blog, telling us it's time to make our puddings, and linking to this post."
          I'm sorry, I didn't think about it until today, but there's still time to make a pudding if you do it soon - it will taste fine, I sometimes didn't get around to making ours until early December.
          But I'm not making one this year. I don't, of course, feel festive anyway, as readers of this and my Elsewoman blog will understand. But in any case there's no need to make a pudding, as I still have the one I made last year sitting in the fridge - we never ate it then.           
           I was a little anxious about whether it would be okay, but I checked it today and it's fine.


So I and the friends joining me in the evening of Christmas Day, in time to watch the Queen's Message, as we've always done, will definitely have it this year. Provided I remember to make sure there's enough brandy, and put it on in time to steam for two hours.... 
        And we'll raise a toast to Harvey (it won't be the first that day) before we eat it. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Strawberries and salted lemons




My friend Jane P. brought me this clever strawberry huller from New York, and it works brilliantly. Last Saturday I hulled a whole lot of luscious little red critters ready to cut in half and steep in bitter orange liqueur for dessert.








But three of them - one each - were enormous, and deserved a different fate. I'd already taken their stalks out, so I couldn't easily dip their pointy ends in melted chocolate. Instead I used the chocolate to fill the holes in their tops. Not only do they look good, but you get more chocolate this way.



This week called for sterner stuff. Today I went to a friend's for lunch (my boursin with her French bread, a lovely light orange and chicken salad, strawberries, and her firmish, superbly chewy/melty brownies), to get our strength up for the afternoon's task: preserving lemons.
      I'm very keen on preserved lemons, but they're very expensive to buy, and often the bought ones have vinegar added, which is not good. They're one of the few preserves I'm happy to make. All you do is:
- Collect jars with lids - the mouths should be wide enough to push in a whole smallish lemon, and you'll want the jars big enough to get in around six lemons each - and put them and their lids through a hot dishwash cycle while you prepare the lemons. Make sure to keep the jars and lids matched.
- Get hold of enough smallish, firm, evenly yellow lemons (our Karori New World had really good ones this week, but they're even better fresh from the tree, if you've got one - mine is bravely struggling to survive).
- Either collect enough big juicy easy-to-squeeze lemons for juice to fill your jars, or cheat (as we did) and buy freshly squeezed lemon juice by the litre.
- Have ready about half a cup of salt for each jar, and enough olive oil to put a very thin layer over the top of each jar.
- Take off the stems and stem ends and cut the lemons almost in half lengthwise through the pointy end, then almost in half again the other way (so you get four quarters, still joined at the stem end)
- Put all the salt in a deep bowl and push each cut lemon into it, so that the salt goes up inside and more or less evenly coats each cut surface.
- Shake out any excess, or scrape it out with a teaspoon. (Of course if you're meant to be on a low-salt diet, you shouldn't make or eat these at all.)
- Push the lemons as tightly as possible into the jars - you can split some up into halves or quarters to fill awkward side gaps.
- Fill the jars carefully with juice, almost to the top. (My friend Ali says that instead, if you're patient, you can leave the jars in the pantry (not the fridge - see second comment below) and within a few days the lemons will have made lots of juice of their own, so then you just need to top the jars up - but we weren't patient.)
- Pour a very thin layer of olive oil over the top of each jar.
- Wipe the rims to get rid of salt, put the lids on, and tighten them.
- Leave the jars for at least four weeks. Once they've been opened, store them in the fridge.
- Eat the lemon skins (you're supposed to discard the flesh, but I often don't bother, I just eat that too) with grilled chicken, steak, chops, or fish, or use in salads. The salty lemony oily juice is delicious used sparingly in salad dressings or Middle Eastern stews or couscous. 
     Some recipes say you can use brine instead of juice, but this doesn't really work, they don't taste nearly as good. Our jars didn't look beautiful because the lemon juice was cloudy, not clear, and we weren't aiming for A & P prize quality, but I'm sure they'll taste fine.  



Friday, November 25, 2011

Nourishing scraps

We used to have a running joke about the lady of the manor descending on the poor with a basket of nourishing scraps. Much of the election hype has felt like that to me - leftover scraps for the poor graciously offered from the groaning tables of the rich, with gratitude expected in return.
            Tomorrow night I'll be having a few like-minded friends round, all of then guaranteed to be glued to the election results as I will be, and Harvey always was. I'll give them a hearty soup, I think, then nourishing scraps of cheese and fruit to nibble on - something like this:


Later on we might have a repeat of this very good strawberry and mango combo. Or/and the hokey-pokey ice-cream left over in my freezer from feeding Emily and Rachel, the two gorgeous young Englishwomen who stayed here last week...


A few chocolatey bits from my hidden stores (hidden from me, not from visitors) could be a good idea too - just to keep us going through what's bound to be a gruelling night.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kedgeree, meet risotto

 This week I wanted a light dinner. I'd found some good smoked fish, and often I make kedgeree, but this time I thought I'd create a risotto with it instead, because there was some very good fish stock in the freezer.
          The recipe was much the same as for the ham and cheese risotto I made last January, not long after Harvey died. I poached the smoked fish gently in the stock before I started the risotto. Then I took out the fish, removed the skin, and flaked it, checking carefully for any stray bones.
           I fried a little chopped bacon first, then added shallots instead of onions, and of course used the fish stock instead of chicken stock. No herbs - finely chopped parsley can go on when it's served - and of course no ham or cheese. When the risotto rice was almost ready, I added the small pieces of fish, pepper, and lemon juice. It was delicious, a good change from kedgeree. Serve it with extra lemon wedges and a  green or tomato salad.




The other bit of culinary excitement this week was the arrival of a parcel from Amazon. I buy very few books online, because I want to keep good local booksellers in business, but I found a hardback 50th anniversary edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol.1 - I don't think I've ever used Vol.2) for a very low price. I'm tired of struggling to read my ancient, falling-apart Penguin copy, so I ordered it, and it's gorgeous.
        I also got a very cheap hardback of Judith Jones' memoir The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food. She was the Knopf editor who published Julia Child. It's not as good as Julia's own memoir, My Life in France, but well worth reading all the same. For me, food and books are inseparable. They've just put Mastering the Art out as an e-book, but I'd rather have the real thing.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting it exactly right

So last night I went to Logan Brown for their bistro dinner ( we paid for that part ourselves, but it's a steal at $39.50 each), before going to the ballet on the tickets I'd won in their competition. Here's the menu.

Entree
Potato Gnocchi with Sorrel Pesto, Asparagus & Chorizo
or
Puy Lentil Cake with Halloumi, Rocket & Red Capsicum Relish
Main
Crispy Skin Gurnard with Sauteed Baby Potatoes, Lemon Spinach & Almond Aioli
or
Braised Lamb Shoulder with Israeli Cous Cous, Green Olives & Fetta
Dessert
Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Rose Strawberry Ice Cream & Honeycomb
or
Orange Blossom Delicious Pudding with Poached Rhubarb & Pistachio Crumble

Between us, Jenn and I covered every possible choice, and of course gave each other tastes of everything, while sipping our complimentary glasses of champagne. If this sounds ridiculously nice, believe me, it was. I had the puy lentil cake, the gurnard and the orange blossom delicious, Jenn had the alternatives. I forgot to get a photo of the entrees before we started to eat them, but here are our two mains and two desserts.





That last photo doesn't capture the beautiful shine and sumptuousness of the chocolate. I could rave on about how it all tasted, but I won't, you'll just have to imagine it. It's enough to say that one of the things I like most about Logan Brown is that everything tastes of itself, but the very best of itself, exactly as it should.
      So then they ordered a taxi to the ballet for us (we finished at 7 and the curtain rose at 7.30), and when we got out and tried to pay, we found it had already been paid for.
       The ballet itself was perfect, the only flaw was that Harvey couldn't see it. Sleeping Beauty is a hoary fairy tale, but they managed to make it both utterly romantic, like scenes out of an old picture book, and yet at the same time fresh and amusing and not taking itself too seriously. Right at the end, the happy couple kiss on the staircase, and immediately after that the two charming cats-in-charge (who have been sparring all night) also kiss, just before the curtain falls. Brilliant. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Golden

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again." George Miller

I usually try to post before the weekend, as I know that's when readers tend to look at this blog, but I had to wait until today to write about my friends' golden wedding anniversary. I think they're the only couple I know of my generation who've been married for fifty years. Of course they did start young, they were both just 20, but it's an impressive achievement all the same. To celebrate, they invited twelve friends to a long Italian lunch at La Bella Italia in Petone.




The antipasti were a meal in themselves.
Parma prosciutto, felino,
aged parmesan.
Buffalo mozzarella
with foccacia bread,
courgettes and peppers.


Then came the prima piatti, risotto and ravioli, followed by pork with prunes, hunter's chicken and salad.



I made a complete glutton of myself, but so did everyone else - and we did all take a long time, that was the whole point.




The crowning glory was the mimosa cake, covered in pretty yellow bobbles of sponge that looked exactly like mimosa. And on top was the bride and groom from their original wedding cake.



Friday, October 21, 2011

Green goodness


Asparagus time again. Such a simple thing to cook. This week I worked my happy way through three bunches (with a little help from my friends), and kept all the snapped-off ends and turned them into soup.    
        


Apart from gorgeous, incredibly calorific hollandaise, what I like to have with asparagus is another really simple green thing, salsa verde, deliciously sharp and tangy. Fortunately I've now got enough parsley in the garden to make it with - you need a lot.




Salsa verde (adapted from Claudia Roden's The Food of Italy)
Green sauce Emilian style

25g white breadcrumbs
1 large bunch Italian flat-leaved parsley, roughly chopped (she says 350g but I use about 200g)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Tbsp shallots or onion
1 flat tin anchovies, including oil
2 Tbsp capers
3 Tbsp lemon juice
olive oil

If you don't already have fresh crumbs, make them by processing the bread in the food processor. Take them out and set aside.
Process garlic and shallots or onion uintil finely chopped.
Add parsley and process until finely chopped.
Add anchovies, capers and lemon juice and process to mix well. Then add breadcrumbs and process again.
Add olive oil in a thin stream while processor is running until you get the consistency you want - thick or thinner.
Taste to see if it needs more lemon juice or a little salt.
Spoon into a shallow bowl and serve with asparagus -
or grilled chicken, or steak, or stirred into pasta.
Or you can spread it thinly on slices of toasted ciabatta and put sliced tomatoes on top.


Rummaging round the web, I found this very odd ad for asparagus. Stalking the American life, indeed...





Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rhubarb rhubarb

I thought I'd written before about the wonders of rhubarb, but there's no label for it so I can't have. It's one of the best things to buy right now, and last weekend, when I got back from a trip to Auckland (where I had rhubarb crumble), I found a beautiful bunch of slender deep red sticks at my local. I had friends comiing to stay to see Sirocco (more about him coming up on Elsewoman), and I knew I'd seen a rhubarb cake recipe somewhere in my Lois Daish folder. I reckon it's the best cake I've made this year.

Rhubarb and ginger cake (Lois Daish, Listener, 10 October 1998)

450g rhubarb (I had a bit less so I put in pieces of firm fresh pear as well - it worked perfectly)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 and 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup cooking oil (sunflower, safflower - I used canola)
1 egg
1/2 cup roughly chopped crystallised ginger
icing sugar for dusting

>Preheat oven to 180C. Line base of a ring tin with baking paper and lightly oil the sides. (I used a square one - it doesn't rise a lot but it makes nice square slices.)
>Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into 1cm lengths. Mix with the brown sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.


>Sift flour, baking soda and ginger into a large bowl.
>In a small bowl, beat the egg with the oil to mix and pour into the rhubarb and sugar. Add the crystallised ginger and mix well.
>Tip rhubarb mixture into the bowl of flour and stir carefully to combine. (This mixture is quite wet, but don't worry, it's fine.)
>Spread mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. (At this point I placed some extra, thin square slices of ginger on top.)


>Bake for 60-75 minutes until top is well browned and springy to touch. Cool in the tin before turning out. Dust icing sugar thickly over the top before serving. (I forgot to do this, never mind.)


We ate it for afternoon tea, and again for a late dessert when we got back from seeing Sirocco. With it we had Clearwater cream-top yoghurt with honey. Oh yes.
 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Of the earth, earthy - lentil and mushroom soup

In 2006, straight after I finished my PhD, I took off for France with a friend. Harvey had already decided he wouldn't travel to Europe again, but it was a book he bought that inspired me to go: Stephanie Alexander's magnificent Cooking and Travelling in South-West France.

We stayed at a farm estate five minutes outside Sarlat-le Caneda, about four hours from Bordeaux. Every morning Madame would tell us what her son was cooking that night, so we could decide if we would be in for dinner. Duck was often the centrepiece. Everything was "bio" (organic) - not because it was "green", she told us, but because it just tasted better. Over our seven-night stay we managed to eat there five times, and it was consistently the best food experience I've ever had.

It was early summer, so we didn't have anything like this rich dark soup, but in winter I'm sure something very like it would have appeared. Stephanie Alexander says that although it's her own invention, "I feel sure it would be welcomed by any resident of the south-west".

Lentil and mushroom soup (serves 6-8)

300g Puy lentils (the French grey-green ones)
2 cups chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large black mushrooms
2 Tbsp rendered duck fat or olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced

* Rinse lentils under cold water and drain. Put in a large saucepan and add 1.5 litres (6 cups) of water. Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until tender.
* Make a fricassee: Chop mushrooms (including stems) into small pieces. Heat duck fat or oil in a wide ffrying pan and saute onion for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, potato and mushrooms, cover, and sweat for a few minutes. Lift lid and stir well. Saute until potato is tender, mushrooms have started to colour, and there is a bit of a sizzle going on.
* When lentils are tender, tip the fricassee into the lentil pot and add the stock. Bring to a simmer and season to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool until warm, then blend in a food processor or blender (do not overfill - you may need to do this in batches). Reheat and serve very hot, garnished with a few fresh herbs and/or a little cream.


I found this turned out to be a little too thick, so I thinned it down slightly with a bit more stock and water. I was worried that it might be just too earthy and rich for my dinner guests, but they loved it. And it froze and reheated beautifully for a later lunch.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Slow and simple


On Friday we commemorated Harvey's birthday in fine style. I knew our mutual friend was bringing some magnificent beef for the main course, and a fine red to go with it, so I decided to splash out on Harvey's favourite entree - a dozen Bluff oysters. With them we had a very dry white Waimea wine I brought back from my trip to Nelson, made from a grape variety I'd never come across before: grüner veltliner.
            The oysters, of course, didn't require me to do anything, but it was also my job to come up with the veges to go with the beef. I made a potato gratin using stock instead of milk - it looked gorgeous with its overlapping thin slices, but I didn't take a photo, dammit - and a big yellow pepper, charred over the gas, put in a plastic bag so its skin would come off easily, then sliced and softened in the oven.
             These two went very well with the red onion confit I made that morning in the slow cooker. I haven't done it this way before, but it worked perfectly, and it was great to be able to leave it without worrying about it catching and burning. I adapted it from the caramelised onions recipe in Great Ideas for Crockpots and Slow Cookers, by Fiona Willison (2004).

Red onion confit
4 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Turn the slow cooker to high and allow it to warm for 20 minutes.
Put all the ingredients in the warmed cooker. Cover and cook for 2 hours on high. Take the lid off and cook for another 2-3 hours until the onions are very soft. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.

If you have any left over, it's very good warmed through and served on little pieces of toast, either on its own or alongside breakfast bacon. ( I haven't yet tried the amazing recipe on Hungry and Frozen for a kind of "jam" combining bacon and onion, but I can imagine it...)
               After all that, we had a suitably restrained dessert brought by another friend - a little cheese, then some delicate orange jellies (the recipe was from What's for Pudding). It was a beautiful evening, and I was grateful.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Parsnips instead of pudding


Yes, I know I promised a new pudding this week. I did make Alexa Johnston's Bavarian Coffee Cream, otherwise known as Bavarois au Café, but this is how it turned out. It tasted good, but I just didn't make it well enough, so I'll have another go later. I think I need some metal moulds...
        But that wasn't the only new recipe I made last Saturday. I got completely carried away and made a new soup and a new vege dish as well. The soup was great but I'll write it up later when I get a good photo - I've got some in the freezer. The veges were marinated and grilled parsnips, yams and peppers. They were meant to be grilled and served as kebabs, but as I was having them with beef that didn't seem necessary - it was much simpler to do them in a grill pan. They looked lovely and their slightly sticky sweetness was good with the tender beef.

Grilled parsnips, yams and peppers
(adapted from Brian Glover, Homes and Gardens Cookbook 1996)

3 large parsnips
4 medium pink or yellow yams
2 medium red or orange peppers
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

For the marinade
2 Tbsp clear honey
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
4 Tbsp light sesame oil
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
1 tsp ground coriander
2.5 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated

*  Peel and trim the parsnips and cut them into longish evenly sized pieces roughly the same length as the yams, cutting down through the centre of the thickest end.  Trim the yam ends if necessary. Bring a pot of water to the boil, salt it, and add the parsnips and yams. Boil until almost tender. Drain and cool.
* De-seed the peppers and cut into even pieces - about 6 pieces per large pepper.
Place all the veges in a shallow dish.
* Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over the veges. Marinade for at least an hour, turning the veges every so often. (I did them in the morning for the evening.)


* Turn the grill to high. Use a slotted spoon to lift the veges out of the marinade and spread the pieces evenly in the grill pan. Grill for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes and spooning over more of the marinade left in the dish. When cooked, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and put back under the grill for a couple of minutes.


Though we had these with beef, they'd be brilliant with chicken or pork too. They were the first things I cooked in my new oven. The old oven proved, when Julio was here and trying to use it for his baking, that it just wasn't up to the job - well, what else could I expect from a cheap, no-frills teenage Italian? There was a good special on a Fisher and Paykel one that would fit the old space, so I gritted my teeth and went for it.
            The good news is that it does seem to cook very well indeed, and of course that's the most important thing. But the controls are another story. They seem to have been designed by someone who has never attempted to use them for cooking in a real-life kitchen. The knobs are so thick (the photo doesn't really show this properly) that they make the already very small numbers and symbols even more difficult to read, and the tiny notch on them that has to be aligned with correct function or temperature is almost invisible (everything shows up better in the photo than in real life, because of the flash). They're also very low - probably designed for wall placement rather than under the bench, though that's where many of these ovens will go. So I have to bend right down to set them correctly, because otherwise I can't see the markings around them. And surely it would be much safer to have assymetrical knobs that showed at a glance if they were off or on? In my next life, I want to be a kitchen appliance designer...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Crunch time

Mystery of the Week: Watching the hype about New Zealand apples finally breaking into the Australian market, and setting aside the fact that a week later, some bright spark left a piece of leaf and a (reportedly dead) insect in a box of them, resulting in a new partial ban, I couldn't help wondering - where did the glossy, crunchy Rose apples shown in the news items come from?
        We saw one happy Australian after another biting into these lovely apples which were absolutely nothing like the somewhat soggy, distinctly UN-crunchy Rose apples currently on sale in the shops here. Is it the usual story - all the good stuff goes overseas, leaving locals stuck with the leftovers? And if you go to Oz and try to bring one back, you'll be hit with a $200 fine, so don't even think about it...

News of the Week: Not much cooking going on, because (a) Julio's gone (this sounds like that lovely old Harry Belafonte ballad, "Delia's gone..."), (b) I've got plenty of delicious little scraps in the freezer to eat up, and (c) I'm working very hard on my food memoir, because I want to have it all finished by November at the latest, so it's crunch time. But do not despair..

Promise of the Week: NEXT week I'll report on my first attempt to make one of the recipes in Alexa Johnston's new book, What's for Pudding? On Tuesday I went to hear her talk about it at the wonderful Marsden Books, and it was a delightful experience - almost as good as actually eating pudding - so watch this space...