Everything you see, I owe to pasta.

I mean, who’s going to argue with Sophia Loren?

There is no magic in this world quite like pasta. A staple of the family dinner table; the quickest dinner in any of our repertoires; the first thing we learn to cook. For something so simple (eggs, flour, salt, traditionally), you could go your whole life without making the same recipe twice.

Although I eat very little pasta in my day to day life, I get a kick out of making it when cooking for others. I weirdly feel the need to prove myself, that I can make more than mac and cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with mac and cheese!), or fusilli with a jar of pasta sauce and tinned tuna; my go-to uni student meal.

This is total restaurant quality stuff. It’s incredibly flavourful and moorish, and a great thing to plate up when you’re wanting to impress someone. Yeah, I’m calling it. Date food. Write it down.

Beef Short Rib & Mushroom Orecchiette

From Delicious

20g dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup sunflower oil
2.5kg beef short ribs (I only used 1.5kg)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
400g orecchiette
20g butter
200g swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oven to 180*c.

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2/3 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, keeping the liquid, and halve the mushrooms if they’re large.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large flame proof and oven proof dish. Season the ribs really well with salt and pepper, then add to the dish and cook for 12 minutes, turning until well browned. Place the ribs on a plate and set aside.

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Add the carrot, celery and onion to the dish and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until soft.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic and thyme. Cook for a minute, stirring, until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, cooking for a minute.

IMG_7997Add the wine, stock, bay leaves, porcini and the reserved liquid. Add the ribs and resting juices to the dish, then bring to a simmer. Cover the dish and place it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.

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Remove the dish from the oven, and remove the ribs. Leave them to one side to cool slightly. Place the dish over medium high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens a little.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in a pan of salted water. Drain.

In a large frypan, heat the butter, then add the mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes until golden.

Remove the meat from the ribs, throwing away the cartilage and bones. Tear up the meat into small pieces, then add the meat and mushrooms to the sauce, along with the pasta. Toss together thoroughly, then season with salt and pepper.


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Kitchen mixed tapes

I had the great joy of taking Frankie (if you’re new here – that’s my dad. Say hello!) to see Sound City recently. *side note: If you haven’t seen it – do so. Immediately. Awesomeness abound.

My dad lights up like a Christmas tree when you get him talking about his favourite music. The records he owned, the memories they trigger, the people he saw in concert. He tells a great story of getting to see Eric Clapton in concert in the midst of his downward spiral – Clapton was so wasted he could barely keep himself on his stool and play. He’s ok now, folks, don’t worry.

But of course, those stories aren’t exclusive to Frankie. The magic of music on the whole is that we all have these stories. Our own personal soundtracks, mixed tapes, whatever.

So, in the interest of sharing (and you giving me your recommendations so I can fill up my iPod), here are some of mine. Feel free to judge me, I don’t mind. I brought this upon myself.

The song that my dad taught me the words to as a little kid: Bad Medicine
The song I like to dance in my kitchen to: The Time is Now
The song I like to drive to when I’m roadtripping: Babylon. Or Thriftshop. Or possibly Run the World. Sometimes Horses.
The song I like to drive to on a Monday when I’m running late: Smells Like Teen Spirit
The song I like to play at late at night: About Today
The song that makes me want to dance in a manner that embarrasses everyone else around me: Chelsea Dagger (no, seriously. Don’t be seen with me in public)

What does all of that have to do with anything? Well, there’s nothing that brings people together like music. Except for food. The two common denominators for humanity; things that are good for the soul, that feed you.

See? Segue!

I loved this recipe, because it’s burgers but not as you know them. Vegetables! Which makes it good for you, right?! Also, it’s a massive, fresh flavour without much work. They do make great burgers, but I also ate leftovers with rice the next day (where I swear it tasted even better).

Ginger Pork Burger

From Food Republic

1 pound pork sirloin
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons finely grated yellow onion
2 tablespoons finely grated apple, skin on
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 ounces mushrooms, stems removed
1 small carrot, peeled
2 spring onions, green part only
1/2 small head lettuce
1 tablespoon canola oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
6 Hamburger buns

1.Thinly slice the pork against the grain. Mix together the Worcestershire sauce, honey, onion, apple, ginger, garlic, salt and sesame oil in a large bowl. Throw in the pork, turn to coat and set aside for at least 20 minutes to marinate.

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2. Thinly slice the mushrooms, spring onions and lettuce into strips. Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into long ribbons.

3. In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil, then add the pork (but not the marinade – but don’t throw it out) in a single layer and cook until golden, turning a couple of times. Transfer the pork to a plate. Add the carrot and mushrooms to the pan, and cook until slightly wilted. Return the pork to the pan, and add the marinade. Turn up the heat to high, and cook until the sauce thickens and coats everything. If you’re using the sesame seeds, add them now, and stir.

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4. Gently toast the buns. Divide the pork lettuce and spring onions between the buns.

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Grating the ginger/apple/garlic is fantastic because it’s on utensil (less dishes is good, remember?).
Grating the ginger/apple/garlic is awful, because I have a pathalogical fear of mandolins/peelers/graters because I hurt myself.
That’s right. I grated my nuckle while making this. But don’t worry, dinner was a flesh free affair. But it bloody hurt. Because ginger and garlic are not open wound friendly.

Let that be a lesson to y’all.

Getting toasty in Mexico

So, this whole Mexican food trend. It’s not going anywhere. Yay for us! There are fewer cuisines that are quicker, easier and more fun to eat and make.

For most of us, Old El Paso is pretty much about as Mexican as we know. I mean, taco night was always my favourite growing up, even though those taco shells snap clean in half at first bite, and the fragments are bloody sharp when they stab you in the gums. Am I the only person that has taco war wounds? Probably.

You can, of course, buy tortillas from the supermarket. I made my own, from here. It’s kinda like making pizza dough, and kind of fun. The original recipe is also completely vegan, so if that’s your thing, take a look.

Mushroom and Lime Sour Cream Tostadas

Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum

Six Corn Tortillas (use the mini tortillas)
Wild Mushroom Filling (recipe below)
Lime Sour Cream (recipe below)
1 Jalapeno Pepper, sliced thinly
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup grated cheese
Oil

Wild Mushroom Filling
340g mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Lime Sour Cream
8 Tbsp sour cream
1 Tbs fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 200*c

Finely dice the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to a fry pan over medium heat and after 3 or 4 minutes, add the salt, oregano and cumin, stirring constantly.

Once the moisture has evaporated from the pan, add the oil and mix. Set aside in a bowl.

Place the tortillas on a baking tray, and grease lightly. Bake for about 8 minutes, until slightly toasted.

Mix together the sour cream and lime juice, and keep in the fridge until ready.

Divide the mushrooms between the tortillas, then top with cheese. Place the tray in the oven and switch to grill. Cook until the  cheese melts into gooey cheesy amazingness.

Top each of the tostadas with a couple of slices of carrot, some jalapeño and coriander and a spoonful of lime sour cream. Enjoy!

Beaufort Street goodness.

Who’s excited for the Beaufort Street Festival? Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

It’s on November 17. Write it down. This year, they’re doing something a little different. Don’t worry! It’s still full of food, fun things, fantastic music and fortheloveofallthatsholypleasekeepthepettingzoo. Can I request that? ALWAYS HAVE A PETTING ZOO.

But this year, there is also a cook book. Yes! The book will be a compilation of recipes, along with stories from the community.

Recipes & Ramblings; A Food Journey from Beaufort Street and Beyond.”

I’ve been lucky enough to help out with recipe testing, feedback and last weekend, I cooked for the actual book. Yes, I cooked things (not my recipes) and they will be in the book. It was pretty fantastic, I can tell you that.

Of course, after a 9 hour day of cooking, I came home pretty damn knackered. But still, a girl’s gotta eat. And what does a girl eat when she can barely keep her eyes open? Something with minimal risk of injury, fire or death.

Luckily, I am exceptionally good at washing dishes.

Polenta is cruelly underrated. Creamy, easy and a great substitute for mashed potato – keep some in the pantry for a quick addition to meat or fish for dinner. I love this recipe for it’s ultimate comfort food status, plus it’s big on flavour, low on ingredients, effort and preparation. It’s all coming up Milhouse.

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta

From River Cottage Vege by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

2 tbsp olive oil
Large knob of butter
650g mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Few sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
150ml red wine
150ml vegetable or mushroom stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the polenta
400ml milk
1 bay leaf
Sprig of thyme
A few peppercorns
½ onion and/or 2 garlic cloves, bashed
150g quick-cook polenta
20g butter
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
20g parmesan, finely grated with extra to serve

To make the polenta, add milk, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and onion and/or garlic with 400ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to a good simmer, then remove from heat and set aside to let the flavours come together, about 20 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and half your butter in a large pan. Season half the mushrooms with a good dose of salt and pepper, and then cook, stirring regularly until the juices have evaporated. Throw in half the garlic and thyme and cook for a further minute.  Set aside. Repeat with the remaining butter/shrooms/garlic/thyme.

Throw all the shrooms into the pan, adding the wine and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half.

Scoop out the flavourings from the milk infusion, then bring to a simmer. Pour in the polenta, stirring until smooth. Cook for a minute, then remove from heat. Add the cheese, rosemary and butter, then season with salt and pepper. Go heavy on the salt (yes, you heard me right. Salt. Lots. Go.), it tastes amazing.

Serve the mushrooms on top of polenta, with lashings of extra cheese.

No Reservations

Everyone has their favourite celebrity chefs.

I find it impossible not to love Jamie Oliver, with his all-round-nice-guyness. My other great chef love is a man who is possibly Jamie’s polar opposite, the one and only Anthony Bourdain. If Jamie is the guy you bring home to your parents, Bourdain is the guy your parents warned you about. He’s loud, brash and honest; he drinks like a fish and swears like a sailor. He’s a dream meeting of food and being a goddamn rockstar (seriously – he’s friends with The Ramones and Josh Homme), and I love everything about him.

Wade and I have spent countless winter nights glued to the couch, burning through season after season of No Reservations, making lists of dream foods or destinations. The places he ends up, and the foods he eats, the crazy people he meets; it all makes for some seriously compelling viewing. Bourdain has made his career as a New York chef of French cuisine, rustic and honest, but his love of unpretentious street food as well as haute cuisine sets him apart from the

It’s no secret that Wade struggled a little in the MasterChef kitchen of late. Cooking food to please other people is always a tricky business, and one that has not been kind to him. So when this challenge was put in front of him, no one was more please than me (except maybe Wade himself) when he set about dicing mushrooms. This is a soup that is good for the soul on a cold winter’s night. Incredibly simple and deceptively delicious, this soup is a classic.

I know all this, because he makes it for me.

#teamwade

Anthony Bourdain’s Mushroom Soup

From Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

Ingredients
50g butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
340g button mushrooms, halved
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig parsley
2 tbsp sherry
salt and pepper

1) Over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter in a large pot. Toss in the onion and cook until softened.

2) Add the remaining butter and then throw in the mushrooms. Soften for 8 minutes.

3) Pour in the stock, add the parsley, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the temperature and simmer for an hour.

4) Pour soup into a blender or with a stick blender, and process until smooth. Return to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry, mix to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread (or cheesies!) and a dollop of cream.

My life is over.

On Wednesday night, one of my life-long-held dreams came true in spectacular fashion.

I had the opportunity to attend a dessert degustation at the utterly spectacular Restaurant Amuse in East Perth with 8 of my delightful foodie friends. It was an evening beyond compare, and everything I could have wanted from such an experience.

A rundown of the delights on offer include:

Caramel parfait in a white chocolate and wasabi shell
Chimay Blue 2011 sorbet, barley foam with a pretzel and salted cashews
Gin and tonic jelly with a drunken sponge, encased in a marshmallow with lime zest
Lychee three ways: as a mousse, a gel and freeze dried; served with coconut pastry creme banana puree and Gin Gin finger limes

10 tomato varieties as a sorbet with verjuice and balsamic pebbles with hyssop
Bee pollen milkshake with honeycombe crunchie
Hay custard, fresh blueberries and blueberry syrup with cocoa and coffee crumbs with hay smoke

Beetroot sponge, pistachio parfait, crushed milk biscuit and raspberries
Deconstructed Snickers – Chocolate and peanut butter mousse, coated in caramel with nougat ice cream
Apricot souffle with vanilla anglaise
Coffee macaroons with a baileys filled truffle

Let me tell you now. I like sugar. I can handle sweet things that people with more brains that me shirk from.
I have never been so sugar drunk in my life. The sugar hangover the next day… Headaches, an unquenchable thirst, salt cravings… Basically the worst come down you can possibly imagine. I sat at my desk, head in my hands, and wanted to die. I’d do it all again tomorrow. Yes. All 11 courses. 

But what does one do, once they’ve completed their immediate life goal? Seriously, I’m not kidding. This was one of my life goals. Don’t judge me, I could have happily died after that.

Well, life goes on. After that horrendous day at work, I still had to come home and cook dinner.  A dinner that attempted to start correcting the food choices I’ve been making.

Full of vegetables, eggs and with a little bit of salty chorizo to balance my laden palate, this did the trick.

Roasted vegetable and Chorizo Fritatta

Adapted from Taste

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 cup roasted vegetables roughly diced – I used mushrooms, cherry tomatoes red onion and garlic
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
Handful of grated cheese
Handful of baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup shredded basil leaves

1. Placed the diced vegies in a baking pan, toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a pan at 200*c until they begin to wilt, 15 to 20 minutes.

2.In a non stick, oven proof pan, cook the sliced chorizo until done.

3. Add the vegetables and spinach to the pan with the chorizo and spread them out evenly.

Whisk eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the pan and cook on low until they have almost set.

4. Sprinkle the shredded cheese and basil. Place the pan in a pre-warmed grill and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Slice into wedges and serve.

P.S. For a better run down of the evening, and much better photos, have a gander at the lovely jujichews. She makes awesome hats out of the fancy cloth napkins. True story.

A time for fuss. And probably wine.

There are nights where it’s completely acceptable to sit on the couch and eat baked bean jaffles. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, there are also times where you need to pull out the big guns.
A date, perhaps.
Meeting in-laws.
Rewarding someone.
Birthdays.
Just generally trying to show off.

All of these are completely legit reasons to bust some serious moves in the kitchen. And do you know what the solution is to your food dilemmas?
Risotto.
Nonononono, don’t be scared away, stay with me here!

I love risotto, but had always put it firmly in the too hard basket. I thought it was complicated. Let me tell you now, that there’s a difference between ‘hard’ and ‘takes time’. This is in no way hard, but trust me, it’s worth every minute.

I’m not a big one for making the same dish twice, I buy faaaar too many cooking magazines for that. I made this a little while ago and I loved it so much, that when I promised dinner to my favourite cousin and his gorgeous girlfriend, I knew this was going to be on the menu.

The recipe is simple, with few ingredients. Buy good brie, fresh mixed mushrooms (I like oyster and enoki – get them from The Herdsman or good grocers) and you have yourself one hell of a flavour punch.

This recipe is gluten-free, and, if you leave out the chicken, vegetarian, making it a great one to have in the reserves.
It’s rich, silky, indulgent. Buttery mushrooms, creamy rice, fragrant rosemary, the bite of brie. It’s beautiful, truly delicious and highly impressive.

Hell, if you made me this, I’d go out with you.

Creamy Brie, Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

Adapted from Delicious Magazine

Ingredients
1 tbs olive oil
60g unslted butter
2 leeks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 skinless chicken thighs, diced
2 tbsp rosemary leaves, plus extra to serve
1 1/3 cups arborio rice
100ml white wine
3 cups gluten-free vegetable stock (chicken works too)
100 ml pure (thin) cream
300g assorted mushrooms
150g brie, roughly torn

1. Place  oil and half the butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Cook leek, garlic, chicken and half the rosemary, stirring, for 6-8 minutes, until the leek is soft. Add rice, stirring to coat all the grains.

2. Add wine and simmer for a minute or two, or until almost evaporated. Stir in stock, a ladleful at a time, allowing each to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes or until al dente (you may not need all the stock). Stir in the cream, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until warmed through.

3. In another pan, melt the remaining 30g of butter over high heat. Cook mushrooms and remaining rosemary for 6-8 minutes or until mushrooms are golden. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve risotto immediately, topped with mushrooms, torn brie and additional rosemary leaves.

A word of warning about cooking risottos, however. I’m going to assume that you have to buy  bottle of wine to cook with, because, lets be honest, who has wine left over? The ladling schedule is pretty much perfect timing for polishing off the rest of the bottle.
If you’re trying to impress someone, this may not end well for you.
Just sayin’.