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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Master Farter turns 1 (and so does something else)

Just over one year ago we had a new addition to our grizzled old family - my little nephew Alby was born. Alby is the first grandchild for my parents and my sister-in-law's parents, and his arrival was quite exciting for everyone - particularly as it was a somewhat difficult pregnancy and he came out to say hello to us all a little bit before he was fully cooked.

Luckily for him, a healthy appetite seems to run in our family and he's been growing like a champion since that day. He also managed to figure out the whole walking thing before his first birthday, probably in order to get himself to food more easily.

One of the highlights of my trip up to Geraldton over the Easter weekend was Alby's first birthday party. I was beaten to volunteering to make the birthday cake by my sister-in-law's mother, and a first birthday party is perhaps not the ideal environment for a baking showdown so I agreed to bring along some cupcakes. I soon got planning.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Foodie Exchange - The Italian Job

I have a secret admirer. An Italian secret admirer. An Italian secret admirer who sends me kisses.

So, perhaps this person is more of a friend than an admirer, more female than I prefer my admirers to be, and not so much secret as openly talking about sending me things, but she is definitely Italian. And she definitely sent me kisses.

Elga from Semi di Papavero is a talented photographer, and her food posting skills are apparently as good as her blog posting skills if my latest Foodie Exchange is anything to go by. It's still as cool to receive a box of treats from far away as it was when I got goodies from Montreal and Arizona, New York and Toronto, and I was barely inside my front door before the parcel was greedily torn open.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

International Pizza Pie Incident - Poached Pear Pizza Pie

After the success of our the Gnocchi Party organised by Penny of jeroxie (addictive & consuming) we decided to keep our party hats on and Lambrusco (the party wine, don't you know) flowing and throw regular International ____ Incident parties. We already have parties lined up for dumplings, noodles and tacos, though I'm not sure if spaghetti is going to get a run (sorry Axl).

First up though, is the International Pizza Pie Incident!

"Pizza Pie" is one of those American terms that confused me when I was growing up. I was also confused about:
  • meatloaf (a loaf of meat? Everyone in books was always whinging when their "Mom" served them meatloaf so I figured it must be as crap as it sounds), 
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (jelly in a sandwich?! Surely that's just asking for trouble.. noone wants a lap full of jelly! - if you're not aware, jelly in Australia is what is referred to as jello in the US - we would call it a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and even then you have to admit it's kind of a weird combination, though not as messy as a peanut butter and jelly jelly sandwich), 
  • all the different types of "candy" that Claudia in the Baby-sitters Club had stashed around her room (Ring Dings? Tootsie Pops? Ding Dongs? Sounds like a whole pile o' euphemisms if you ask me),
  • and I always got a little alarmed when someone got a new haircut and ended up with "bangs".
Since growing beyond my Baby-sitters Club reading years, I have since discovered that "pizza pie" is just a longer, alliterated way of saying "pizza", though there are those crazy pie-like Chicago style deep dish pizzas that should come with a side order of defibrillator lubricant.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gingervitis and poppy seed teeth

Winter may well be coming, and thoughts are turning to slow braises washed down with enough red wine to bring a flush to your face, but please spare a thought for ice cream as the temperature drops. Too often it is neglected at this time of year, replaced by the sexy upstart churros or a seductively hot chocolate fondant.

Sure, you can argue that ice cream hogs the limelight through the summer, but this is all the more reason why it shouldn't be cast aside so readily - it's always a bad idea to burn bridges, and it won't be too long before you'll go crawling back to its clutches when the weather heats up again.

I for one intend to maintain a good relationship with ice cream over winter, and towards this end I made two different types the other day in my quest to find my ideal base ice cream recipe. After now having made this "Basic Vanilla Ice Cream" recipe from an old edition of delicious magazine, I think the quest may be over. Sure, it uses a lot of egg yolks but that just means more macarons later, right? The ice cream was rich, creamy, smooth and very easy to scoop though the downside of this is that it melted somewhat readily.

You can add all sorts of things to this basic recipe, and I added 25 g of poppy seeds, making sure I had a good stock of toothpicks around.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

John Street Cafe

I generally like to have a bit of fun with the titles of my posts. They might be a little groan-worthy at times but I figure it's best to start off how you aim to continue. For this review though, I aimed to spend as much time coming up with a post title as the owners of the restaurant did coming up with their business name.

John Street Cafe is located on John Street, in Cottesloe. It is a cafe.

Although it is not located on the water (it is about 400m up the street from the beach), it certainly has a beachy vibe with the blue exterior, alfresco tables, inside dining that is quite open to the elements, and of course the Norfolk Island Pine Trees which are quintessentially Cottesloe (though perhaps not so much as they are quintessentially Norfolk Island).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy belated Easter! Anyone else been visited by the Tight Pants Fairy as well as the Easter Bunny?

I have to admit I dropped the ball (egg?) with making Easter treats this year. Across the globe food bloggers have been..

There has also been a spate of Passover baking to add a bit of oy vey to my feelings of baking inadequacy.

I'd like to say I was too busy knitting socks for war orphans to bake delicious Easter treats, but the sad truth is that I was too busy eating. Sure, I also spent the Easter break catching up with my family and getting in a couple of good tennis matches with my sister, but the rest of the time was spent either eating or hurriedly digesting to allow for more eating.

The eating started off in fine style on Good Friday, with my family's traditional Good Friday seafood extravaganza gorgefest. Extended family members brought along a selection of salads and some fresh bread, while Mum and Dad put on an impressive spread of blinis, smoked fish, cooked cray tails and prawns, baked fish with lemon butter, fried whiting, pickled occy and some rosemary skewers of scallops and chorizo. The chorizo was a new addition to the Good Friday eating, and we felt quite naughty about it, though I'm sure God was too busy hanging out at all the church ceremonies to notice.

Despite my lack of Easter baking, I did at least contribute one dish to this meal - Salmon and Scallop Ceviche which I also made last Easter. There is such a delicious freshness to this dish, and it is worth any dribbles of juice down your arms as you bite into the fishy lettuce parcels.

Salmon and Scallop Ceviche
by Valli Little in the delicious June 2004 issue

Serves 6

400g salmon fillet, pin-boned
300g scallops, roe removed
1 cup (250ml) fresh lime juice
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (I used 10 baby romas)
3 long green chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
1/2 telegraph cucumber, peeled, chopped (I used 1 Lebanese cucumber, unpeeled)
1 avocado, flesh chopped
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil (I used around 40 mL)
Baby cos lettuce leaves (1-2 per person, depending on size), to serve

1. Cut seafood into small cubes, place in a bowl and pour the lime juice over top. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. Drain off juice, add tomato, chilli, spring onion, coriander, cucumber, avocado and oil, and season with sea salt and pepper.
3. To serve, place the lettuce leaves on plates and pile the ceviche on top. Garnish with extra coriander leaves and serve immediately, with extra lime wedges, if desired.

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About Me

My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

Read more about me here...

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