Monday, 27 December 2010

Fish & Chips

There are lots of things I love about Australia and one is Aussie fish and chips. Growing up I ate fish and chips about once a month - a  rare take out meal in our family. We drove to the local shop where they cooked the battered fish and hand cut potatoes in bubbling beef tallow - delicious memories. So, when I was back in Melbourne, my mother and I went to pick up dinner and let me relive my childhood. 

 

 As we pulled up I realized I'd forgotten the wonderful graphics these store have.......

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Legumes Oubliés

Do you know what vegetable this is? Neither did I, but luckily there was sign in my market telling me. Later in the week I saw it again packaged with a picture of two jolly men, the growers. This vegetable loves sandy soil and grows well in Brittany and Loire.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Silence is golden


Perhaps it is finishing a manuscript or seeing the movie Social Network, but I just needed to unhook myself from the noise of endless information that keeps coming in my direction. So I have stayed off my computer, giving myself time to smell the roses, or in my case, lemon blossom.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Cooking American in Paris

Just as I was finishing the first edit of my new cookbook ODDBITS:What to do with the rest, and packing to leave for Paris the request came - "Would you cook a recipe from James Beard's American Cookeryand blog about it?"

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Elections & Sausages

The Australian elections were held a week ago and the result is a hung parliament. Discussions are on going with the two major parties attempting to woo the independents. Although I am Australian I have been out of the country too long to vote, nevertheless I accompanied my friends to the local polling station, a school, and witnessed the famous Sausage Sizzle. I don't remember this at all when I was still living and voting in Australia, but it is now a popular tradition.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Finally Delicious Corn


It has taken the Japanese to make me love corn. I don't like corn on or off the cob and this summer in Toronto I just watched while my husband and friends delighted in gnawing it off the cob. Well here in chilly Melbourne in a Japanese restaurant Izakaya  Den  I had sweet corn kaki age - kernels of corn held together by a tempura batter, then deep fried and served with green tea salt. Fabulous.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Here and gone?



A photo of what I've been eating. No I haven' turned vegetarian it's just the salads look prettier than the grilled sausages.

This is hello and goodbye. The manuscript for my next book  ODDBITS went to the publisher this week and I leave for Australia on Saturday. I hope to post from down under and describe what I discover and even make use of my twitter account so watch this space. And anyone complaining about this hot humid summer remember that winter is just around the corner. Enjoy sweating while you can I'm off with my winter coat, long underwear and gloves to wintery Melbourne.
Au revoir et bientôt.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Still Eating


I may not be blogging but I am still eating and continuing to indulge my fava obsession. It is still hot in Toronto and I am discovering just how much heat my laptop can put out - way too much.
The secret to this salad is to put the dressing, Dijon, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper on the potatoes while they are still warm. Cook the potatoes whole, cut them into quarters and toss gently with the dressing. Add the blanched, skinned favas not long before serving with lots of chopped chives. Peas are good too, add a little shredded mint with them and their less work than favas.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Still Hot & Humid


Put a large pot of water on to boil. Shuck your peas, dice some  pancetta and a shallot. Add your pasta to your pot, and while it's cooking heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the pancetta and shallot gently, add the peas and about 125 ml of chicken stock and simmer until just cooked.
By now your pasta should be ready skim off some of the froth from the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan with the froth (it's starch), stir together and season with salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese - a perfect dinner for a hot evening.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Hot, hot, hot


Well summer has arrived, not only is it hot it is very humid. Where are the palm trees? I am working away on ODDBITS and am shocked at just how much heat my Apple Power book can emit. So at the end of the day trying to finish my book the last thing I want to do is tap away some more so I think this month will be a pictorial blogs. With the heat the heritage tomatoes have arrived and we've been slicing them up and topping them with buffalo milk mozzarella and basil. A drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and we have a starter - cooking is simple in the summer. No burrata yet, but I am saving up my pennies.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Where's Jennifer?


Yes I came back from Paris, and stayed in Toronto just long enough to do a load of washing and open the mail. Then I repacked my suitcase and left for Aspen. I'd never been in the Rockies before, just flown over them.
Aspen is a very small town wedged tight against a slope at some 8,000 feet /2,500 metres and it appears that in winter you could ski right into town. You can see some snow capped mountains in the distance but it's not until you go to the top of Mt Aspen, invisible from town, can you really appreciate just where you are.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Still in Paris


I'm still in Paris but not venturing out of the apartment . I am trying to pull together all the bits of information I've collected for my next book and finalize the recipes so I can finish it this summer. So no  time for surfing the net or blogging.
To let you know I am alive and well I am sharing this photo of a beautiful bunch of peonies. Once I come up for air I will relate some of my French adventures. A bientôt.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Coffee



This is how I start out  my morning with a large bowl of cafe au lait. I am not worth talking to until caffeine enters my veins. I use an Italian espresso maker and froth the milk. In Paris a baguette and raw milk butter accompanies my coffee it. I try to only eat a croissant on the weekends. I rarely have a coffee outside my kitchen in Paris. Why? Despite the fact there is a café on every corner most of the coffee is just plain awful. Of course spending time at a cafe is not about the coffee it is about seeing and being seen.  But for those who love to drink seriously good coffee there is the La Caféothèque.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Saint Honoré

               
The season, the venue, the caterer, the relatives, these are the factors that usually influence the choice of a wedding date. Not in our case, we chose the day because of what is inside this swanky box - a gâteau St Honoré.
May 16th is Saint Honoré's day and once the cake named for this saint was in every Paris pastry store at this time of the year. Alas no longer only le galette des rois seems to maintain it hold but then it is in every supermarket too for weeks before Epiphany. This year our friends told us to try a patisserie on the rue du Bac only a short bus ride from our apartment. And guess what? They have gâteau St Honoré all the time. While I like my cakes to be made for the special day and then to disappear, like Christmas cake I was thrilled to know I'd be eating cake on the day.

Monday, 10 May 2010

What do you think?


Before I left for Paris I cooked intestines, also called chitterlings. I bought them from pork supplier in the market and they had the mesentery attached. This is a photo of them soaking in cold water. I had read about the mesentery in Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery book but this was the first time I'd ever seen it. I thought it was quite beautiful, like some bizarre a sea creature, so I sent the photo to some friends and they found it horrifying,  perhaps I am just odd...... what do you think?

The intestines were delicious and quite mild. We ate them in a spicy tomato sauce with chickpeas. I didn't cook up the mesentery as Ms Grigson advises,  but I will the next time.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day


At Charles de Gaulle airport they were handing out sprigs of lily of the valley. In Paris lily of the valley was for sale on every corner.  It is a custom to give a sprig of this flower on the 1st of May.  After dumping our suitcases in the apartment we ventured out to see the changes in our neighbourhood and I bought a bunch of muguet de bois, the French for lily of the valley. The man selling it assured me it was from the forest, showing me his dirty broken fingernails to prove that he, and his wife, who was selling bunches on the opposite street corner had picked it themselves, although I didn't check her fingernails. Every year they drive all night to reach Paris and sell their harvest.  Even at 2 euros a bunch there must be enough tax free euros involved to make his trip and the necessary follow up manicure worthwhile. His lily of the valley was wonderfully fragrant and I joined all the other Parisians carrying home a bunch of lily of the valley.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

More beauty


I was lucky enough to be invited to see Berkshire pigs being broken down by skilled butchers. Just look at these magnificent rib chops. Alas most of that beautiful, tasty fat will be cut off. The butcher said that even a mere centimetre of this luscious makes some people believe that they are destined for a heart attack. Has no-one read Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes? The re-education continues.

Friday, 23 April 2010

How beautiful is this?

I love head cheese but this must be one of best ways to cook half a head. Braised, then glazed with a spiced honey mixture and finished with a blast of heat to crisp up the skin.  A perfect fatty, crunchy meal for 2 or maybe 3.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Sorry, pork again


These arrived at my door this week. Daffodils from the garden and have an odour not really a perfume but a pleasant fresh plant smell that my store bought daffodils never do. Even better accompanying the daffodils were three pig's heads cut in half and a big bag of kidneys. So it is more pork for me.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Pork, Pork and more Pork

As I like to complain about the weather I must tell you all how wonderful the weather has been for the last week - warm and sunny. It was warm enough to have our family Easter lunch on the deck, now that's a first for Toronto.  It was wonderful to sit outside and the suckling pig was delicious.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Deep in Tennessee
















I spent last weekend in Walland, Tennessee. Where you ask? Well I asked the same question. It's just outside of Knoxville and I had to look up both Knoxville and Tennessee on a map, my grasp of the geography of the centre of the USA is very weak. The US border official said " that's too bad, why do you have to go there?" He'd not heard of Blackberry Farm and neither had I until I was invited to visit this oasis of calm, comfort and elegance in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cheese and Rabbits


What is better than a grilled cheese sandwich? Almost nothing. I've eaten this every day for lunch this week. I have alternated the cheese, cheddar and Cheshire two great English cheeses, although cheddar is made everywhere and so cheddar refers to a style of cheese rather than the cheese from the town Cheddar. It is Cheshire, which is the choice cheese for Welsh Rabbit. Yes that is rabbit not rarebit. Check here. I would have made Welsh rabbit but you need a knife and fork to eat it and the sandwich can be easily enjoyed on the deck in the wonderful sunshine 18C today amazing.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Summer time and summer dreams


Yes I know it's not officially spring yet, but we have switched to summer time and the weather here is glorious. It's warm, 15 C and everyone has emerged onto the streets. Neighbours are cleaning up their gardens and we've even hauled our plants outside to give them some fresh air. The fig tree has woken up to the longer hours of sunlight and is sprouting leaves. It is still cool at night but if it stays above freezing we'll leave it, the bay trees, the olive and the lemon out on the deck. The forecast for the rest of the week is good, so all of us who are stuck in Toronto are not complaining. We're happy we didn't spend the money to fly to south for spring break.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Distracted by false spring

We've had several days of beautiful weather. Clear blue skies and lots of sunshine with "warm" temperatures, it went all the way up 12C today. I am always amazed how warm that feels after a long winter.  This false spring won't last, so when I have a spare moment I rush outside and soak in the vitamin D instead of blogging.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Leaf Lard and Other Notes


















Just what is leaf lard also known as flead in English cookery books? It is the fat from around the pig's kidneys. Fat from the veal and beef kidney is called suet.
How can you tell the difference between back fat and leaf lard? It is really quite simple it's all about texture. Unlike back fat that is a smooth, consistent piece of fat, leaf lard has a brittle texture and you can break it into small pieces with your fingers. It is firmer than back fat at room temperature because it found inside the animal's body not on the outside.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Dreaming of Paris


Winter in Toronto is bearable because we have clear blue skies but today is grey and overcast, very Parisian weather. So to keep up the theme I went for lunch at Union, a Toronto restaurant that models itself on Parisian bistro. To complete the theme  Kim Sunee joined me for lunch. Kim has spent a lot of time in Paris and in Provence. We had fun reminiscing about favourite haunts, life and bemoaning how little money authors make.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Pork


I was talking with Don Kerstens from Select Fine Foods about Berkshire pigs and pork fat and also cooking with pork blood - more about that later - which reminded me of a tasty sandwich I had in New York at Porchetta last month.  Porchetta is not a restaurant, but a small storefront with a counter, some stools and a short menu. The reason to go here is revealed immediately on entering - a wonderful piece of roasted crisp pork waiting to be carved - their version of porchetta.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Brussel Sprouts



I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and had dinner with Rony and Grant, the minds behind the Poetry of Food. Check it out and sign up. You'll see why I haven't been updating my blog, yes yet another excuse.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Year of Onion Soup?
















Perhaps this will be the year of onion soup? Despite its popularity  a really good onion soup is hard to find. Often under a lid of too much, not very tasty melted cheese that usually burns the roof of your mouth, is an insipid broth with too few onions.
However this is not the case at the Breslin in New York. There the onion and bone marrow soup is full of caramelised onions and rich with the flavour of marrow bones. The soup is topped with a simple toasted baguette slice lightly covered in melted Parmesan cheese. No need to hide the soup here.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

New York





















I've just come back from a great week in NYC. Serious eating plus some promotion for my book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes and catching up with friends. I plan to post about my trip when I finally catch up with everything I let slide while I was away. In the meantime you can read about one of my adventures here.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Truffles

















In my excitement over my galette des rois I forgot to post about New Year's Day. So here it is.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Epiphany and Blumenthal

Epiphany marks the visit of Wise Men to the baby Jesus. We all know they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I am happy to celebrate the event with a galette des rois but creative British chef Heston Blumenthal took it one step further, he created a dinner based on these gifts and much more.
Take the time to watch it here, it is fascinating and you'll discover just what myrrh is.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

2010

Well here it is January 2010 and almost Epiphany. One of my favourite days because it's associated with a cake. I think that there should be more holidays linked to food. I blogged about this day before, so I'm not going to repeat myself. I baked a galette des rois yesterday, early because today my French friends fly back to Paris.