Archive for May, 2009

h1

My favourite Marthians

May 30, 2009

marthaIt’s like some kind of schlock horror movie – shallow, nauseating, but so thrillingly ghastly you can’t help peeking through your fingers at it.

I’m referring, of course, to the The Martha Blog – up close & personal with the jail bird herself, Martha Stewart.

Check out “A dinner party at my house” especially for the simple, elegant table setting. Hooboy – gotta love those thirteen centrepieces and you just can never get enough ceramic birds and miniature tin buckets of Irish moss on a dining table in my opinion.

And then there’s “Betsy, my stable manager” described almost as lovingly as “my adorable French bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey!” Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Ladies, bring a plate

May 30, 2009

Delicious plattersYesterday I was invited to speak at a literary lunch fundraiser, which took place in a large boat shed overlooking a beautiful bit of the harbour, full of very nice women who all seemed to be uber-professionals (radiologists, MCA guides, painters, doctors, etc) and at the same time very warm and generous people.

They also made the food – or at least a small band of great cooks from among their ranks did – for the 130 gals in attendance. And even before those women were thanked I could tell, looking at the buffet table, that this food came from good home cooks rather than profit-making caterers – it’s the generosity, people. Quality ingredients, bounteous servings and good taste: perfect rare roast beef, succulent chicken marbella, mounds of silky smoked salmon & capers, gorgeous salads, good bread and real butter. 

I love a bring-a-plate* function myself, and I love that everyone has a signature dish or two. The Empress, for example, is duty-bound to lug a huge bowl of her incredible baba ganoush pretty much wherever she goes (I believe her secret is to smoke the aubergine first … mmmm). My own chart-toppers are a roasted carrot & mint salad, and a braised green bean, tomato & dill number for which I can never find the recipe and thus have to phone my sisters whenever I need it.

So I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Here’s the simplest carrot salad in the world, and always beloved by all. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Christian Lander in Newtown

May 28, 2009

landerDespite my admiration for Christian Lander and his Stuff White People Like I somehow failed to see him at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, even when he was appearing at the New Theatre, about five blocks from my house.

Luckily, that appearance is now available on Slow TV. It’s a two-parter; the first part is quite entertaining but largely about his astronomical 12-month rise to fame and the celebrities who now love him, which he’s very starry-eyed about so it gets a bit tedious.

But the second half, which I’m linking to here, is sharp and funny, like the work itself. 

h1

Holy cannoli

May 27, 2009

Missy Empress’s Good Living column this week is on cannoli – sounds too good.

h1

When your fingers do the baulking

May 26, 2009
  

Finger food fiasco - the kind of creation that ends with an olive in the cleavage (& a toothpick in the chef's eye).

Finger food fiasco - the kind of creation that ends with an olive in the cleavage (& a toothpick in the chef's eye).

Note to party caterers: when finger food can’t be eaten with the fingers, it’s not finger food.

 

Very enjoyable couple of hours at the A&U publishing party the other night, at which NSW Premier Nathan Rees gave a short and very welcome speech about his support for territorial copyright and opposition to parallel importation of books, and then enthusiastically nattered to writers. Imagine – a politician who likes to speak publicly about how much he enjoys fiction, and then wants to talk at length to the kinds of people who write it. All a bit of a shock.

Anyhoo, twas a great party all round, except the finger food was rather too frequently impossible to eat with the fingers – so that when a young woman appeared with a huge tray of food, a gaggle of starving people gathered round her and stared down at this big platter of something scattered with a wet-looking salad and what appeared to be lentils. Then everyone simply looked confused, then disappointed, said ‘ah, no thanks’ and stuck their noses back in their glasses.

It was the image of how one should eat it that put one off: just scoop up the bits in two hands, perhaps? Or tilt one’s face to the platter and bite it off the surface, like bobbing for apples? Bizarre. 

Then there is the mix-of-things-on-an-Asian-flat-spoon approach, which I have no qualms about, provided the mound of stuff is able to be got into the gob in one go. Having a big gob, I managed better than many more delicate guests who nibbled  round the edges of a high pyramid of squiddy-salady stuff, neck extended turtle-style to avoid getting food on themselves when bits of it inevitably began falling. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Some things beginning with ‘P’

May 25, 2009

pork chopAn oldie but a goldy for an autumn Sunday night – Jamie Oliver’s pork cutlets with parsnip, pears & potatoes.

It’s a very simple and heady and hearty dish – and best of all can all be cooked in, and even served from, one roasting pan.

Method is tres basic.

parsnipsMarinate some good thick pork cutlets (our butcher now only sells free-range pork, they reckon – hard to believe but I’m happy to have faith) in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic & heaps of rosemary and lemon peel for a good couple of hours, and then toss the peeled & quartered parsnips, halved peeled potatoes and quartered & cored pears in the same marinade.

Chuck in a hot oven with the chops on top of the veg for up to an hour, depending on the size of the chops. The best result is everything caramelised (from nice drizzles of chop fat) and slightly chewy and deliciously lemony.

(I think next time I would actually maybe just pan-fry the chops near the end, as mine ended up a tad too dry – but then you would miss out on the porky goodness in the veg though, so am not sure about that.)

pearsThe other excellent bit of this is the minted bread sauce – soak some day-old bread in red wine vinegar and oil, then whizz in the food processor with a bunch of mint  (or even just chop the mint very finely) and some Dijon mustard. Serve the sauce in a bowl at the table and smear all over the choppies. Very good.

 

h1

Quote of the week

May 25, 2009

brechtFood comes first, then morals.

– Bertolt Brecht