Saturday, July 23, 2011

mushroom identification

When the mist cleared this morning, there were no gorillas.

Only 'shrooms.

With the garden bed rebuilt with a tonne of mushroom compost the odd fungi popping up is inevitable.

Can anyone tell me what they are and whether they are safe to eat?

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Monday, July 18, 2011

...and finally a recipe, my ambivalent relationship with pasta meets my love of smoked eel

I groan when I read pasta recipes. And not in a good way.

Pasta is my junk food. It’s the meal of least resistance, code for – I’m tired and I want something to fill me up and in my tummy in 15 minutes.

When I was an accidental vegetarian (I’d stopped eating meat but couldn’t afford fish), too often the unimaginative and nutritionally negligent spaghetti Napoli was the only menu item on offer. I grew resentful of pasta and the arrogant chefs who made it their only vegetarian item.

But I digress. The following dish is neither boring nor vegetarian. It is deliciousness personified and has earned it’s place as one of the few pasta recipes on this blog.

Leek and smoked eel pasta

(Serves 2)

Pasta spirals

Olive oil
1 large leek, sliced in 2-3cm lengths
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tsp lemon zest
1 tab capers
8 cornichons (that’s mini gherkins to you Bridget Jones), roughly sliced
Large handful parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 a smoked eel, sliced into bite sized chunks
lemon juice
black pepper

In a large pan on low heat, slow cook the leeks in olive oil until soft. Ideally, cover a heavy fry pan and cook on a heat diffuser mat for about 30 minutes. While that gets underway prepare your eel. When the leeks are half cooked, add the garlic. Now put on the pasta (gluten-free of course). In the time it takes to prepare the pasta, turn your attention back to the pan. Add the cornichons, capers, parsley and lemon zest to the leeks. Cook for a couple of minutes and then stir in the eel. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a few grounds of black pepper, then stir though the cooked pasta.

The leek and eel combination is loose enough to moisten the pasta. Hold your horses with the salt, the smoked eel negates the need to add any. All up, this is a delicious, fragrant pasta dish, that boots the ubiquitous Napoli back into the sea.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

calling Time Team: vegetables from the Iron Age

Spied at Vic Market last week.

I know beans are out of season at the moment but this trader's managed to source some from the Iron Age. Hate to imagine the food miles for that.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

better late than never: macarons are not macaroons

I spend too many lunchtimes sitting in the window of Sushi Monger gazing out at the French bakery opposite. When I’m not imagining a flash mob breaking into song in an attempt to make the morose sushi man crack a smile (a hot topic on twitter) I’m desperately attempting to resist the urge to march across the laneway to protest at the patisserie. Surely they’d be laughed out of their homeland if they displayed a sign proudly boasting the myriad of flavours their “macaroons” come in.

I thought they only come in one?

The bakery is not alone, it’s a common mistake. Just the other day I was entombed in a waiting room with no phone for amusement and forced to read out of date Women’s Weekly’s. The 2010 edition I glanced at celebrated the “macaroon” and, you guessed it, there wasn’t a skerrick of coconut to be seen.

An artist after my own heart has taken the macaron/macaroon debacle a step further and turned it into an art form. Though published last year, I only found it on a recent expedition to the Sticky Institute, despite multiple visits to the illustrious zine cave in the meantime.

It’s a joyous (and unusually long) collection of memoir, recipes and collage by Becksley Felix celebrating the misrepresented crunchy sweet treat. Proving her stripes as a macaron aficionado, she comes to the conclusion that Duncan is the seminal authority on the subject. Though strangely, he’s not even seen the zine. (Hint @Becksley you might like to send one to him).

At a ridiculously low price of $4 Macarons Are Not Macaroons is a humourous and informative read. There were rumours of a sequel. Anyone seen it?

Not in Melbourne? The zine is still available via the Sticky Institute’s mail department.

While new to me, this zine has received a heap of mentions elsewhere, including:
Eat, Drink, Stagger complete with the ganache debate and comments from the zine’s author.

Happiness is a warm Simon Gray.

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Saturday, July 02, 2011

the time when masterch*f humbled me

My facebook feed featured a fellow Wellingtonian adrift in Melbourne lamenting how last night's Masterchef (Friday Masterclass) made her homesick.

Figured a MC episode shot in my hometown was worth breaking my program ban.

Here's a taste of some of my favourite cafes in Wellington...

...and yes it's very cold there in winter.

(p.s. sweetie it's Floraditas, not Florantinas.)

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