Archive for March, 2009


Posh Nosh paella

March 28, 2009

Love Posh Nosh, with the Hon Simon & Minty Marchmont, from their lovely restaurant The Quill & Tassle.

The first of many episodes to appear here, I hope. Thanks to my witty mother-in-law for alerting me to this and bringing Simon & Minty back to us all..


The parsnip and the princess

March 27, 2009

parsnip1Last weekend my friend, who is publicity shy and thus shall be known only as the Princess of the Parsnip, cooked us a brilliant Middle-Eastern dinner of delicious slow-cooked lamb with pomegranate seeds and yummy various herbage. There was also a divine salad, and a **ing amazing fig cake, among other things, for dessert – but what really got me all aquiver (apart from the scintillating company – a particularly nice bunch of dinner companions) was the most incredibly good dreamy creamy parsnippy mash on which the lamb was served.

At first I thought it was an extra-fluffy baba ganoush or something – had a similar delicately smoky flavour (somehow), and sooo beautifully, lightly creamy. But no, it was the humbly delicious parsnip, whizzed with lots of other decadent goodness.

So, I begged the recipe from the PP, and here it is. Apparently it’s originally from Gourmet Traveller, don’t know when. PP says: “In the cold light of day, I see I forgot to add the olive oil, which would have made it smoother and creamier, I think, but clearly it can be made without that and still be yum.” I second that – can’t think how the oil would improve it, but you never know …

Parsnip cream

  • 4 large parsnips or 8 small, peeled, core removed (if woody) and finely sliced
  • 40g butter
  • 500 ml milk
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 100 ml olive oil

Melt butter and saute sliced parsnips until tender 12-15 minutes. Add milk and cook for 5 minutes, season to taste. Leave to cool, cool. Blend or process until smooth, add sour cream, blend again. With motor running, add olive oil in a steady stream. Serve warm. Excellent with lamb.

(I used less milk than given here because that seemed like a lot and I cooked it down a fair bit but I guess depends on how thin you want the finished cream to be and how big your parsnips are.)

Many thanks to the PP, and lucky us. If you make it before I get a chance to, tell me how it turns out.


parsnip-creamI just finished making the princess’s parsnip cream, as a side dish for dinner tonight.

Here’s a pic of it.

It is DELICIOUS and I now must put it under lock and key otherwise I shall scoff the lot before the guests arrive (I’m also attempting the umeboshi lamb rack suggested by Hamish under essential ingredients – yikes!) .

Anyhoo – make this. It is really easy and so goooood.


the White Man cometh

March 27, 2009

swplAt the Sydney Writers’ Festival program launch last night (where incidentally their catering sponsor The Roo Brothers gave away jars of chilli jam and some pretty good oyster knives – but I do believe our shucking instructions are better than theirs) I was very excited to hear that the Stuff White People Like man himself, Christian Lander, is coming out for the festival. I first mentioned him here, in a post about farmer’s markets.

Anyhoo -goody! I shall be there to listen and laugh, in all my bourgeois banality.

The full SWF program will be in the SMH paper and online tomorrow, I think. And as Sean is delivering 40,000 copies of the actual brochure to bookshops and libraries next week, we will be a pair of walking, talking SWF programs by next Friday – if you want to know anything about it just ask!


Your mother’s kitchen gear you wish you had

March 25, 2009

frypanIn a beachside holiday house recently I had the pleasure of using this rather spesh Sunbeam electric frypan – the kitchen was small, there were three of us cooking at once, and I needed to cook split peas. This sunshiny baby emerged from the cupboard and became my new best friend. Quite a flash version too, with very good thermostat and a half-lid-opening arrangement. It reminded me of my mum, who through the seventies seemed to cook everything in an electric frypan, from roast lamb to cheesy puffs.

Last year, reminded by a newspaper article of the joys of the CrockPot, I bought a slow cooker – the modern version – and now can’t wait for winter to get it humming again for curries, soup, casseroles and shanky brothy things (even caramelised onions in it once which worked amazingly well).

The other mainstay of my mother’s late 70s kitchen, apart from some dubious cork tileage and a lot of mushroom-coloured Laminex, was a Kenwood Chef mixer-cum-blender with forty thousand attachments, which weighed a ton. Not to mention the various trusty toasted sandwich makers that sealed the edges of the baked-bean sanger in a most excellently crispy way. But there was also the appliance cemetery, if I recall correctly, where all the useless Mother’s Day gifts were swiftly interred, such as the electric knife sharpener – and that most irrelevant of gadgets, the electric can opener, to name a couple.

Was it just my dad, or were all fathers obsessed with electrical kitchen gifts for their beloved wives in the 70s? What was the most useless gadget your mother ever had? And which ones do you still yearn for, even now?


The empress’s column

March 24, 2009

It’s a source of continual frustration to me that the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living online section does not include the regular ‘Three of a kind’ column by Stephanie Clifford-Smith, she of the chick pea majesty …

Anyway – if you are a Sydneysider, get today’s paper and check out the Empress’s three Miang kham recommendations, page 8 of Good Living. The pics alone will have you desperate for one of these delectable little wrapped-up morsels of spicy Thai goodness… not to mention the Empress’s always concise, witty and knowledgeable summations. Knows her miang kham from her tom yum, that one.


Having a gander at foie gras & hypocrisy

March 24, 2009


Hmm. This book review from proposes that foie gras production (that I mentioned in the post on David Foster Wallace’s lobster) is not inhumane, and that anyone who whines about it and yet eats other animal products is a hypocrite. No argument from me there. The argument runs thus:

Face facts: If you oppose foie gras, even if the only thing you’ve ever done about it is to make a dinner companion feel guilty, and you still eat conventionally raised meat, you’re a raging hypocrite and a silly one at that. The eggs you ate for breakfast, the cheese that came on top, and the bacon on the side, all of it is produced using methods more torturous than the ones employed on a good foie gras farm. Animals on a typical farm these days are confined in spaces so small they can’t turn around, much less do any of the things they’d normally do in nature. And in order to keep them at least somewhat healthy and functional despite those conditions, which tend to make them stressed and unhappy, their bodies are altered to keep them from harming themselves and their fellow animals — chickens have their beaks trimmed, pigs and cows get their tails docked. Read the rest of this entry ?


a currant affair

March 23, 2009

currants2Another new page is gasping for your attention – I want to know which surprisingly versatile life-giving ingredients you keep in your kitchen at all times? Check out the new essential ingredients page over there on the right – and then tell me all your secrets at once!

My first vote, as you’ll see,  is for currants. Mmmm-mmm. These little jewels will be closely followed by slivered almonds and pine nuts. And mustard. And ….


The happiness of getting it down right: cooking and books

March 21, 2009

recipesIan McEwan said a lovely thing in a long profile of him in the New Yorker the other day, about the deep pleasure of writing a good sentence  (what William Maxwell, I believe, described as “the happiness of getting it down right” in a letter to his friend, the short story writer Frank O’Connor – such a good phrase it’s the title of the beautiful collection of letters between them).

McEwan puts it this way:

“You spend the morning, and suddenly there are seven or eight words in a row. They’ve got that twist, a little trip, that delights you. And you hope they will delight someone else. And you could not have foreseen it, that little row. They often come when you’re fiddling around with something that’s already there. You see that by reversing a word order or taking something out, suddenly it tightens into what it was always meant to be.”

As I was copying this out for my noticeboard (I especially love the last line – exactly what it feels like, I reckon, when you get a bit down right) it occurred to me that perhaps this is a good description of the pleasure of cooking well, or any other kind of creative act, for that matter: that happy merging of skill, careful attention, luck, and discovery, as well as knowing when to leave things alone, that happens when you’re deeply absorbed in a creative task for no other reason than the pleasure of doing it.



Things on Toast

March 21, 2009

toastI’m thinking of another page or two – Things on Toast, to start with.  Along the lazy lunch idea, but lazier. Am brain dead after a long day, but what do you people put on toast – or Ryvitas (mmm) – that’s quick, easy and interesting (i.e. not Vegemite) and not toooooo laden with delicious fat, that you can pull out of the fridge when, say, you’re on a writing roll but hungry? If I ever find myself on another writing roll I will need this.

And also I need to know other things from your collective cooky wisdom reservoirs, like do mushrooms grow in seasons? This might be a kind of tech-support page for the kitchen.

Ok, seriously brain dead now. But do visit the things on toast page over there on the right, and tell me some ideas. I, meanwhile, will think of a better title.


In praise of salt

March 19, 2009

saltHave you noticed how, if you cook a meal for folks who like eating but aren’t as obsessed with cooking as One is, that they often rave about the incredible flavours you produce? I realised early in my cooking career that this has sadly little to do with how amazing the fish/snags/bombe alaska really is, and more to do with the fact that the said dish is seasoned. i.e., contains salt (and my second love, pepper).

I am frankly astonished at the number of people who don’t cook with salt at home but always find restaurant food and food at cooky friends’  houses delicious. It’s SALT, people. Delicious, crunchy, subtle or serious – it’s salt that underlines every bit of good cooking I’ve ever done.

I’ve been discussing with my chick pea empress friend Steph (the best all-round cook I know) the whole salt-scare issue. We are both firmly of the view that unless you have high blood pressure – when it really does matter that you cut down on salt – then one should go for one’s life on the salty goodness. Read the rest of this entry ?