Archive for July, 2011

Earmuffs, lemon possets, etc

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Tedster and I are moving to Melbourne in 13 days. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!

… Let me take a short pause here to hyperventilate …

Fortunately, a couple of weekends ago we went to Christmas in July at the Chaddo, and Santa gave Ted a pair of furry earmuffs. We decided tonight that these were the Stress Earmuffs. You would put them on if you were stressed, and they would make everything better. Or perhaps they would just be the outward sign of your stress, so other people would see and treat you nicely. Either way, we have spent the last few hours donning the ‘muffs to express our angst. I have some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken, of Ted wearing the earmuffs and facially demonstrating his stress, but I will not put them on the internet because I love Ted like no other husband and every man deserves his dignity. And also because there are quite a few photos of me looking deranged too.

We’re clearing out our apartment, writing lists of the dozens of things that need to be done each day between now and when we leave, putting earmuffs on, making appointments with an accountant to get several years’ worth of tax returns done, arranging for the utilities to be disconnected, taking photos with earmuffs on, sorting out a couple of cupboards, deciding that this morning’s resolution not to drink any wine today was stupid and should be broken forthwith, and so on. It feels like we’ve been preparing to move forever, but no matter that I thought I was decently organised up until now, crunch time has made me realise how very, very wrong I was. Oh god, excuse me while I go and put something warm and fluffy on my ears.

Part of the moving process is seeing many of our friends for goodbye-for-now meals. There have been many occasions recently, at one or other of these meals, when I’ve looked around the table at the faces of my so, so dear friends and wondered what the hell we are doing leaving. (The answer is job-related.) The eating notes have chronicled many of these meals. The most recent of these was last Friday, when Ian, Lisa, Charly, Rich, Sal and Jim came over to our place. It was an awesome evening.

We started with olives and some saucisson that Lisa brought. Then onion, mustard and fennelseed tart, with a mixed-leaf salad. Then, a little while later, seven hour leg of lamb (more or less like this, just larger in size and cooked for the full seven hours at 120 C) , with mashed potatoes and green beans. And finally, while reclining on the couches afterwards, lemon possets for dessert. The possets are great: fairly small, rich but refreshing, and very easy to make. They also need to be made well ahead of time, which means that your effort upon serving is limited to getting up and getting them out of the fridge. Bonus.

 

Lemon possets

800 ml cream (see note below)
200 g sugar
finely grated zest of three lemons
180 ml lemon juice (from approx three lemons)

Combine the cream, sugar and zest in a saucepan. Bring to a moderate simmer, and cook for four minutes, stirring a few times a minute. Keep an eye on it!

Remove from the heat, let it settle down for a minute, then stir in the lemon juice. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Strain through a sieve into a jug, to get rid of the zest. Pour the strained liquid into eight ramekins. Refrigerate them for at least 4 hours, and preferably closer to 8 (or overnight). This tastes much better and has a more enjoyable texture after it has been really thoroughly chilled.

Serves 8.

 

Note: I used Barambah cream, which looks thick and slightly yellow like double cream, though it is only single cream (36% fat). Most posset recipes call for double cream.

Very briefly:

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

An excellent morning at the Powerhouse markets! Purchased: cauliflower, cavolo nero, parsley, goat cheese, saucisson, sourdough, mushrooms, duck eggs, apples, green beans and cherry tomatoes. The last seem not very seasonal, but they’re from a local farm, and after all this is the subtropics…
Plans for the week:

cauliflower soup with mustard and gruyere croutons

mushroom, rosemary and duck egg frittata

a replay of the grilled aubergines with tahini and yoghurt sauce from last week, this time with quinoa, chickpeas, and roast tomatoes, for Sunday dinner with Danielle

a minestrone with the cavolo nero, perhaps? or maybe braised cavolo nero with onions and garlic, on sourdough toast, with a super-soft-boiled duck egg broken over the top?

something – anything – with the spring onion kimchi in the fridge. Yum yum!
Fervent recommendation of the week:

Ponycat, a cafe around the corner from us on Brunswick St. This is one of the places in Brisbane I will really miss when we go. The coffee is usually spectacularly good, sometimes perfect, rarely average, never bad. And the staff are so, so lovely. I can’t convey just how warm they are. Going there makes my day better.

Tahini: I finally understand

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I had a Damascene conversion regarding tahini tonight. I had never quite seen the point of it before. Whitish paste, sticks your lips to your teeth, slightly bitter, sits untouched in the fridge for years till it goes rancid and is guiltily thrown away…

But no longer! I was in Mrs Flannery’s (a local organic and wholefood shop) a couple of weeks ago, in the mood for randomly trying things, and ended up buying a little take-away container with fairly fresh tahini made from unhulled sesame seeds. It’s quite a dark brown, and it tastes like the sesame-ish equivalent of nut butter. Delicious. It still sticks my lips to my teeth, but that’s ok when there’s a wonderful taste going on at the same time.

I used it tonight to make these grilled aubergines with yoghurt-tahini sauce and herbs, from Food Stories. They were great. Cooking the aubergine slices under the grill means they don’t get to absorb a litre of oil, they end up tender on the inside and golden (but not oily) on the outside, and the cooking is hands-off. We ate the aubergines and sauce over some white quinoa; a good combination as the quinoa adds a bit of body to the dish and soaks up any extra sauce nicely. What would be really spectacular though, I think, would be to add a layer of slow-roasted, garlicky, almost-cooked-to-sauce cherry tomatoes. I’d serve it on a big dish with a base layer of quinoa, topped with the tomatoes, then the aubergine slices, and the yoghurt/tahini sauce spooned over the top. The sweetness and intensity of the tomatoes would kick the whole thing up a final notch.

Anyway: go the unhulled hippy-shop tahini! It is the business.