Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Making, eating, planning

Though semi-retired, this blog is still my cook's journal. A place to remind myself how I cooked something new. It's much easier to search this online repository, than hunt for scraps of paper. 

Notes to self:

Made

Vin de pĂȘche - Zoe visited my little community garden plot and me last month and spied a rather neglected peach tree in the far corner of the block (past where the redback spiders dwelling and whatever makes my skin itch, near the mulberry tree). Vin de pĂȘche! She exclaimed. I did a test batch with half a bottle of leftover, dry French rose. I followed the recipe to the letter, only halving the ingredients.
Result: Strong marzipan flavour (phew! right tree! You say almond. I say marzipan). Maybe my taste buds differ a little from Leibovitz's - I found it a little too sweet, though chilled right down with a load of ice this was less noticeable. Nor did I find it as potent as he and Zoe claim. 
Next batch: less sugar, more brandy. Will try 40 leaves (a bit less marzipan), 2 - 3 tabs sugar, 5 tabs brandy, in a fruity bottle of red.
Serve with a lot of ice. If too strong, douse with soda.

Vegan chocolate rough "cookies" - a variation on carnival cookies utilising 4 very ripe bananas and most of a 250 gm jar of 'hazelnut chocolate spread' (a very healthy organic, dairy-free alternative to Nutella and about 4 x the price - fortunately it was at use by date at the local coop so bought at wholesale price). Hacked the recipe by adding a couple of decent handfuls of shredded coconut instead of nuts (plenty of hazelnuts in the spread) and a heaped teaspoon of mixed spice. I had the remains of a block of 85% dark chocolate so whizzed them into chunks. With the added banana and the chocolate spread it was a wetter batch than usual so used closed to double the usual amount of oats, semi chopped. Taste fab.

Eating

Nori butter at Bannisters - I must work out to make this! I'm guessing toasted nori, blitzed to a powder and combined with good quality butter but will consult Dr Google before attempting. It's up there with the miso butter. I'd eat flavoured butter all day if my body could tolerate it!

Who knew Rick Stein has an Australian restaurant, in an unlikely location over three hours drive from Sydney? It's coastal but not on the beach, in a hotel/motel complex (calling it a resort would be going too far). Fortunately I was having a great weekend out of town with friends, just 20 minutes down the road. I think we've found our new Christmas tradition - the festive lunch you'd like to have if you didn't have to be with your family on the day. 

Food was delightful, relatively simple but the stunner was really fresh, good quality produce. The menu (except sides) is exclusively seafood. And at a premium price. The setting is lovely. The staff do their best. Don't think a city restaurant of this calibre would put someone on the floor with such an extensive skin condition but as she said in response to our "see you next year" - "Yeah I'll probably be here. There aren't many jobs down here" in a despondent voice. She was a good and attentive waiter nonetheless.

I ate: paprika dusted Kiama prawns (a special on the day), stupendously fresh marlin/swordfish/snapper/salmon sashimi, shoestring fries (not my choice but very more-ish) and Stein's signature Blue Eye Madras tomato and tamarind based curry. A lunch to remember with my wonderful Sydney friends. 





Planning

I'm back on Christmas duty with my dilutive New Zealand family. How to make breakfast/lunch/dinner for three adults remotely interesting? Suggestions please. On the upside - for the first time since the birth of the internet - there will be Wi-Fi at home! At least that's got the entertainment sorted.Any fish/veg friendly, simple festive food ideas? Things are a little limited over there, I'm so used to an abundance of fresh fruit and veg here I could outsource the entire day from the fish market, Marrickville market and the likes. Wellington, despite the holy grail of Moore Wilsons (not looking forward to the trolley crush there next week), I'm working in a limited kitchen with none of the basics I'm used to (including a sharp knife and a gas stovetop!).When I get back from the homeland - I know that Santa is bringing me a fermenting crock! The new year will be kimchi/sauerkraut and pickle central. Let me know if you have a dairy-free ferment fave to share.


I hope you have a good one and that 2016 is an inspiring year full of delicious experiences.

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