Eating notes 2010

A log of dinners (and occasional lunches and brunches).

Fri 31 Dec 2010 A giant and delicious fondue, lots of wine, and watching fireworks from the balcony of Nico and Frieda’s place. Happy new year!

Thurs 30 Dec 2010 Duck larb, based mostly on this recipe, with lime, chili and fish sauce added gradually until it tasted right; next time I’d like to try this one. Green papaya salad, a mash-up of this and this recipe. Sticky rice: glutinous rice rinsed well, soaked in hot water for 90 minutes, steamed on a clean handerchief in a bamboo steamer for 25 minutes. The left-over sticky rice is currently in the fridge absorbing some coconut milk, to be eaten for breakfast tomorrow with a shaving of palm sugar, a pinch of salt and a chopped mango.

Wed 29 Dec 2010 Cold soba noodles with tamari, mirin, sesame oil, green onions and nori. Sauted tofu with ponzu. Made all in 15 minutes at 10 pm when we finally decided we were hungry enough for dinner. For future reference, this ulra-quick tofu tasted better than many previous long-marinating versions. Open pack of firm tofu, cut into 1 cm slices, saute in pan with peanut oil over moderate heat. Just before flipping to cook second side, slosh ponzu over the tofu and give it a quick shake to distribute. Takes about 8 minutes in total, and the tofu tastes good and stays tender.

Tues 28 Dec 2010 So lazy. Takeaway pizza: one field mushroom, one prosciutto.

Mon 27 Dec 2010 A belated christmas dinner at Melinda and Paul’s, with Billy, Mary and kids, my parents, and some friends of Paul’s. Lovely time!

Sun 26 Dec 2010 Stir fry of broccolini, capsicum and beef, with ginger, chili and sesame oil. Medjool dates for dessert.

Sat 25 Dec 2010 Christmas lunch of cold ham and chicken with salads at Les and Carol’s. Leftover salad for dinner.

Fri 24 Dec 2010 Scallion and kimchi pancake with spiced chili oil. Making orange zest and almond shortbread and speculaas to give for christmas presents.

Thurs 23 Dec 2010 Toast with peanut butter, banana and honey. That’s at least a couple of food groups, right?

Wed 22 Dec 2010 Peter and Judy at our place. Pasta with smoked salmon, spinach, sauted zucchini and red onion, creme fraiche, lemon juice and dill. Cherries, lychees and almond biscuits for dessert.

Tues 21 Dec 2010 A piece of gorgonzola, some leftover roast squash, and some cherries.

Mon 20 Dec 2010 The day before the summer solstice, but it’s pouring with rain (as it has been the last month) and cool. Pasta with roast butternut squash, zucchini, chard and gruyere.

Sun 19 Dec 2010 Toast.

Sat 18 Dec 2010 This can surely not be considered a food blog, by any standards, any more. Lunch of leftover black beans with some sauted vegetables. Evening snack of Lisa’s ice cream. Dill pickles later.

Fri 17 Dec 2010 The infamous Chaddo Christmas dinner. Thank you Charly, Richie and Sal! A stupendous array of different fondues – one cheese, one stock and one oil, with vegetables, meat and bread to be dipped in. Then brandy and christmas pudding ice cream, served with fruit.

Thurs 16 Dec 2010 Pizza at the Pizza Caffe as a final goodbye to Luciano and Eliane, who are flying home to Brazil tomorrow. Tears and large amounts of wine.

Wed 15 Dec 2010 Ted made zucchini, onion and capsicum fritatta.

Tues 14 Dec 2010 Late lunch of tortiglioni with eggplant pesto, followed by an evening snack of cherries.

Mon 13 Dec 2010 Soft tacos with black bean and chipotle chili, seared corn with lime, chili and mint, and avocado.

Sun 12 Dec 2010 A couple of taco-size tortillas with natural peanut butter, black pepper and chopped green onions. (The black beans took forever to cook, so the chili that should have been dinner tonight will be dinner tomorrow night.) Cherries and lychees for dessert.

Sat 11 Dec 2010 Penne with zucchini, garlic, pecorino and mint.

Fri 10 Dec 2010 Spaghetti, with tomato sauce unearthed from the freezer.

Thurs 9 Dec 2010 Ted’s work’s Christmas party, at Bamboo Basket. Lots of delicious dumplings, followed by hand-pulled noodles, seared green beans with pork, dried prawns and pickled vegetables, hand-made noodle salad with shredded duck, and other good things.

Wed 8 Dec 2010 Dinner at Tibetan Kitchen with Ted and David. Tofu and lemon curry, so so delicious. Glad for once to be amongst tofu-fearers, as this meant it was all for me.

Tues 7 Dec 2010 Dinner with Ted at Siam Samrarn. A good duck green curry, and a dish of crispy pork with a red ginger sauce and vegetables. I should have guessed that crispy was a euphemism for deep fried, alas. We cycled there and home, despite the intermittently monsoonal conditions, and I took a massive slide off my bike in the wet when we were about 300m from home. Better then than on the way to the restaurant, I suppose! I lay on the couch covered with ice packs for about an hour afterwards.

Mon 6 Dec 2010 A tragically unsuccessful hippie salad put together out of stuff from the fridge: red quinoa, with sauted grated zucchini, roast cherry tomatoes, spinach, little tofu cubes fried in achiote and a squeeze of lime, etc.  Lesson (among several): sauted grated zucchini just doesn’t work. Stop trying to make it! Also not really sure what was going on with the flavour combinations there.

Sun 5 Dec 2010 Late breakfast: almond pancakes with blackberries and maple syrup. Late afternoon desperation meal to rescue Ted’s blood sugar levels: slice of pizza at New York Slice. Later in the evening: dried moroccan olives, glass of red wine, strawberries.

Sat 4 Dec 2010 David (a friend from Dublin) is passing through Brisbane, so we had a pint at Lock and Load, a pint at Archive, and then dinner at the Indian restaurant I can’t remember the name of, on the corner of Boundary and Melbourne.

Fri 3 Dec 2010 Thai green curry.

Wed 1 Dec 2010 Majo’s in New Farm. Nice staff, shame about the food.

Tues 30 Nov 2010 Lovely surprise: Matt was in Brisbane and keen to meet up for dinner. We tried the tapas bar at Ortiga, where we shared a sampling plate of hams, another of sausage, and two cheeses. Fino sherry and a glass of excellent tempranillo/garnacha. For dessert, two creme caramels shared between the three of us. For possibly the first time in 14 years, it was Ted rather than me who suggested sharing a dessert. Shock!

Mon 29 Nov 2010 A slice of toast with avocado. Man I love avocado.

Sun 28 Nov 2010 Dinner was delicious snacks with wine at Charly and Sal’s, after a lunchtime barbeque with the lab in Orleigh Park to say farewell to Luciano and Eliane.

Sat 27 Nov 2010 Avocado on toast in the afternoon, then watched a DVD, fell asleep, and woke up too late to eat dinner. Meh.

Fri 26 Nov 2010 Frittata of zucchini, mint, parsley and feta, with a salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and oregano, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Thurs 25 Nov 2010 Left-over quinoa and veggies, and the last slice of Tuesday’s cake.

Wed 24 Nov 2010 Danielle is staying with us! We had red quinoa with pine nuts, chopped hazelnuts, parsley and mint; roast asparagus and roast cherry tomatoes; sauted lemon cauliflower; sheeps feta. Dates for dessert.

Tue 23 Nov 2010 Seriously, internets, Ted comes home from overseas and my eating habits go to shit. Tonight I had cake for dinner. At least it was incredibly good cake! This buckwheat, buttermilk and blueberry bundt cake from Molly.

Mon 22 Nov 2010 Nothing. Too lazy and not sufficiently hungry after pilates (me) and volleyball (Ted).

Sun 21 Nov 2010 The zucchini, herb and caper salad again, but this time with tinned sardines and good bread. It’s better with fresh sardines, but at least we had some good tinned Spanish ones (Cuca).

Sat 20 Nov 2010 Herby couscous with steamed zucchini and roast roma tomatoes, drizzled with leftover asparagus and spinach puree, sprinkled with crumbled feta. The puree was better in this context, when it’s not required to provide the main flavour of the meal. We also had roast asparagus on the side, because we just can’t get enough. The season is almost finished, alas!

Fri 19 Nov 2010 Linguine with asparagus and spinach pesto, based on this recipe from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. Good, but I love roasted or blanched asparagus so much and would rather eat it like that than in this puree where the flavour is more hidden. On the side, we had roma tomatoes sliced into thirds (for quicker cooking), roasted with garlic olive oil and sherry vinegar – delicious. The tomatoes are so good at the moment.

Thurs 18 Nov 2010 Ted is back in Brisbane after spending almost 6 weeks in the US! There was rejoicing across the land, or at least across our household. We made a lunch of slow-cooked red onions and peppers with mint, parsley and feta, some roasted asparagus, and a ficelle from Chouquette. We weren’t really hungry in the evening, so snacked on more ficelle and had an early night.

Wed 17 Nov 2010 Penne with onions, zucchini and garlic, cooked long and slow till soft and collapsed, tossed with mint, parsley and pecorino.

Tues 16 Nov 2010 Dinner with mum at Little Greek Taverna. Grilled barramundi and greek salad.

Mon 15 Nov 2010 Hot, sweaty and not terribly hungry after the ride home from pilates; a salad of perfect cherry tomatoes, crispy cucumber and fresh oregano, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Sun 14 Nov 2010 A continental picnic lunch in New Farm park, superbly catered by Jenny. Far, far too full of food and wine to want dinner.

Sat 13 Nov 2010 Fresh sardines with zucchini, herb and caper salad.

Fri 12 Nov 2010 Agnolotti with pesto, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

Thurs 11 Nov 2010 South Indian spiced cabbage with yoghurt, plus brown rice and dal.

Wed 10 Nov 2010 Leftover eggplant stew and ricotta.

Tues 9 Nov 2010 Roast eggplant, tomato and oregano stew with fresh ricotta. Inspired by (though deviating from) this post and the recipes it links to, especially Martha Rose Shulman’s method of roasting eggplants. Roasted 1 medium eggplant (400g) using that method. Chopped one large onion, fried over low heat 15 minutes till soft and brown, added 4 cloves minced garlic and cooked another minute. Peeled, seeded and chopped 5 large very ripe roma tomatoes, and added them to the onions; cooked 5 minutes over fairly high heat, along with chopped leaves from a small bunch of oregano, salt and pepper. Added roast eggplant chopped into 2 cm cubes, cooked a further 4 minutes. Served warm, with pepper, lots of crumbled cold fresh ricotta (great contrast to warm stew, especially on a summer evening) and extra oregano.

Mon 8 Nov 2010 Incredibly delicious cross-cultural mash-up: David Lebovitz’s korean scallion and kimchi pancake drizzled with a couple of teaspoons of Mark Bittman’s szechuan spiced chili oil.

Sun 7 Nov 2010 Char-grilled barramundi with excellent lemony horta, at Little Greek Taverna in West End with Nico and Frieda.

Sat 6 Nov 2010 Party at Jean and Edwige’s to celebrate their and Nouri’s 30th birthdays. I took a ravioli salad inspired by Heidi’s at 101 Cookbooks (this one and this one), though not as pretty as hers. It was ricotta agnolotti, cooked till just done, dressed with a sauce of home-made pesto thinned with hazelnut oil and lemon juice, then tossed with chopped blanched asparagus, wilted spinach, small cubes of roasted butternut squash and some toasted pine nuts.

 Fri 5 Nov 2010 Thai takeaway and quite a lot of wine with Charly, Sally and Lisa at the Chaddo.

Thur 4 Nov 2010 Tossed chilled noodles again (see last Sunday) – not as good as before, alas.

Wed 3 Nov 2010 Kimchi bokumbak with sesame-fried egg. Fantastic.

Tues 2 Nov 2010  Soft zucchini with harissa, olives and feta. This caught my eye both because of the harissa, and because I was interested to try cooking zucchinis without frying or roasting, the only two ways I normally prepare them. I had zucchini about 2.5 cm in diameter, and cut them into ~12 mm slices, and they were cooked but not soft after 7 minutes of steaming. I should have given them another minute or two, because the couple of slightly thinner slices that were softer were a lot nicer in this salad. The firmer ones would be great in a different dish, though. Just like last night, I’d give this dish a “fine” rather than a great – but this one had the very substantial advantage of being on the table 15 minutes after I got in the door. I can see myself making it again, but perhaps with quinoa rather than bread.

Mon 1 Nov 2010  Cauliflower with almonds, raisins and capers. Pro tip: you will be far less disappointed in your first couple of bites of this if you remember to salt it!  Even with salt, however, this was good but not sufficiently so to make it quite worth the palaver.

Sun 31 Oct 2010  Chilled tossed noodles (including the first cucumber I’ve eaten in 6 months, I think – summer is truly here now) and wakame salad. The noodles were excellent, with a well balanced sauce, though there was way too much of it and I drained quite a bit off. The wakame salad was strangely underwhelming; all those should-be-delicious flavours – seaweed, chili, rice vinegar – seemed to be sucked away into some black hole leaving very little remaining to taste.

Lovely lunch with mum at The Fishmonger’s Wife, followed by a visit to the East Brisbane croquet club to ask about joining fees and watch a match.

Sat 30 Oct 2010  Mark Bittman’s celery and tofu salad with spiced chili oil. I don’t think I managed to track down the right kind of tofu, so this wasn’t as great as I was hoping. However, the chili oil itself is truly fantastic. It’s got a phenomenal depth of flavour – very glad that I’ve now got 3/4 of a cup of it remaining in the cupboard to use up. Vera at The Hungry Tiger drizzles it over avocado on toast, which sounds divine.

Fri 29 Oct 2010  Feeling horribly sick. A piece of wholemeal toast with a scrape of vegemite, eaten very slowly and very carefully.

Thurs 28 Oct 2010  Ricotta and spinach tortellini with roast tomato sauce.

Wed 27 Oct 2010 Another extremely green frittata, this one with zucchini sauted with garlic, huge amounts of parsley, mint and tarragon, some small roasted tomatoes and a palmful of grated parmesan. It was so packed full of greenery, in fact, that it was a bit hard to get the egg in the middle to cook in reasonable time. I’m all for not-quite-set egg but this was really not-even-warm egg.

Tues 26 Oct 2010 A really fantastic dinner! Made even more fantastic by the fact that I was extremely dubious about it at various stages of the cooking. It’s this pumpkin, barley and miso braise from Gourmet Traveller, which I was put on to by Lucinda’s post (with entirely correct comments about the photo styling). It’s exceptionally delicious – the braising liquid is umami-ful and somehow uplifting (really!), and the contrasts of the chewy barley, smooth pumpkin and silky silky tofu keep things interesting. I made the recipe as originally written, except to use 3/4 cup barley and 300 g tofu (mmmm, tofu) and to be fairly generous with the miso, soy sauce and sake. Would make many times again.

Mon 25 Oct 2010 Asparagus and tarragon frittata, slightly modified from the original recipe. Take two bundles of asparagus (6-7 thickish spears in each), trimmed, blanched, and chopped into 4 cm lengths. In a bowl, combine two beaten eggs, the asparagus, a palmful of chopped tarragon, a palmful of grated parmesan, salt and pepper. Heat a very small slick of garlic-infused olive oil in a 20 cm diameter frypan over low heat and tip in the egg mixture. Let cook until done on the bottom, then finish under a low grill to almost set the top. Eat. Serves two with some roast tomatoes on the side, as long as you are not terribly hungry.

Sun 24 Oct 2010 Lunch: baked peas with tarragon, yogurt and pistachios, with bread from Chouquette. The peas would be great with fish.

Dinner: 5-kind dal (toor, chana, urid, masoor, moong) with silverbeet, sweet potato and zucchini, tempered with panch phoran, mustard seeds and chili flakes.

Sat 23 Oct 2010 Late lunch of spaghetti with roast tomato sauce; no dinner.

Fri 22 Oct 2010 Dinner with Lisa and Charly at the place that used to be Raun Thai (laab, green curry, stir fry with chili and basil), before going to see Gwen in Purgatory at La Boite.

Thurs 21 Oct 2010 Lemon-roasted chickpeas with silverbeet.

Wed 20 Oct 2010 Left-over braised tofu. Better the first night.

Tues 19 Oct 2010 Mark Bittman’s braised tofu with eggplant and shitakes. Result good, but the method is rather wack. Frying minced garlic, ginger and eggplant in a small amount of oil for 10 minutes over med-high heat until browned, without horrendous sticking? Really, Mark? If you require the use of a non-stick pan, then say so for the benefit of those of us who start cooking without thinking these things through. Recoverable though – I just made do with less browning and added the liquid pretty early.

Mon 18 Oct 2010 Black bean chili, made according to the recipe of August 30th. Excellent again.

Sun 17 Oct 2010 Linguine with asparagus, roast cherry tomatoes, and pecorino.

Sat 16 Oct 2010 Ottolenghi’s sweetcorn soup with chipotle and lime. Even after doubling the spices and chili during making, this was deadly bland before addition of the lime. After lime, it did come alive, but was still much lighter than I’d expected. It needs some kind of umami hit, or at least a bit more depth of flavour.

Lunch was good – pasta e ceci with some spinach wilted in it.

Fri 15 Oct 2010 Beers on the roof; a piece of smoked cheese at home; bed.

Thurs 14 Oct 2010 Pasta with smoky tomato sauce.

Weds 13 Oct 2010 I have to admit – a packet of Indomie mi goreng.

Tues 12 Oct 2010 Dinner with Judy and Peter at Taj Mahal, followed by chitchat and wine at our place. So lovely to see them.

Mon 11 Oct 2010 Roast capsicum, zucchini and butternut squash, couscous, smoky tomato sauce, yoghurt. Wanted to top this off with crispy onions but all the onions had gone off while we were on holidays. Perfidious onions!

Sun 10 Oct 2010 Grazing in the Qantas club in Adelaide, courtesy of Lisa, on our way home. We did it! Cycled just under 340 km in 8 days.

Sat 9 Oct 2010 Schnitzel at the Blumberg Hotel, Birdwood. Coopers before, during and after. After 60 km of cycling, 19km of that on unsealed roads, a woman deserves (and truly appreciates) schnitzel and beer.

Fri 8 Oct 2010 Breakfast of pastries at the excellent German Bakery in Tanunda. First winery of the day was Kaessler, whose vines adjoined our B+B. Their mid-range shirazes ($50-$80, including one called the Bogan) were great. Next on to Penfolds, were I finally worked out that although their Bin wines do nothing for me, I really like several of their Cellar Reserves. We were then on our way to Langmeil (recommended from many quarters) when, craning my neck to see behind me and check if Ted was following, I rode my bike into a tree and fell off. I scrambled back onto my bike and carried on but over the next couple of days the largest and most freakish-looking bruise of my life gradually developed as a result. AND THEN we arrived at Langmeil literally three minutes after the cellar door closed. Nooooo! Cheese, olives, mettwurst, etc for dinner.

Thurs 7 Oct 2010 Ian’s birthday. We started off by visiting Bethany (so many good rieslings) and Turkey Flat (we turned in here totally serendipitously and discovered a fantastic viognier/marsanne/roussanne blend, superb shiraz, and best of all The Last Straw, a sweet but not cloying marsanne). Then a game of tipsy croquet at Chateau Tanunda, a slightly wobbly cycle home, and later dinner at Vintners.

Weds 6 Oct 2010 After stopping off at the Mt Pleasant butcher (recommended for great mettwurst), we cycled on to Tanunda in the Barossa. We stopped for a late lunch of pizza in Anguston (mine was best – pumpkin, feta, garlic, mozzarella, very crispy and light), then had a relatively early night.

Tues 5 Oct 2010 In the morning we cycled out to Lobethal Road winery, only to find it closed. Devastated!  But wait: the owners live right by the cellar door, heard us, and the lady came out and opened up for us anyway. She was lovely, to the extent of selling us cheese and meat from her own fridge at cost price when we asked about where we could pick up some food for a picnic. Fantastic cheese, too. And the wines were great! In particular, the Bacchant unwooded chardonnay was a revelation – first chardonnay I’ve liked in about 10 years. Riesling (2006), this year’s pinot gris and the botrytis riesling were all also excellent.

At Springton for dinner. Only one pub and one restaurant, and neither does dinner on Tuesday nights. Fortunately we arrived in time to clear out the tinned tomato and pasta stocks of the tiny general store before they closed for the day, and when we discovered that the B+B kitchen contained 4 small frypans but no saucepan, we borrowed a big pasta pot from the pub for the night (“Just leave it on the verandah for us to pick up tomorrow morning, love”). Loved this town!

Mon 4 Oct 2010 Lunch was a picnic by the side of the road, after visiting a couple of wineries (Barrister’s Block and Bird in Hand). Sitting there with our glasses of wine, cheese, olives etc etc, bikes propped up against a fence, the cops drove past and gave us a wave. Apparently public drinking is entirely acceptable in the Adelaide Hills.

Dinner: A family sized super-supreme pizza from the Birdwood pizza shop. Contained: chicken, oysters, prawns, bacon, mettwurst, pineapple, tomato, cheese, anchovies, olives and various other things I can no longer recall. Once we had read the description, it was if we were caught in its tractor beam of horror and couldn’t escape. It was so monumentally over-the-top that it tasted of almost nothing other than pineapple. An experience to have once, and only once.

Sun 3 Oct 2010 One of the best meals of my life in Hahndorf this afternoon, after cycling up into the hills from Adelaide. A platter of pig (hock, belly, various sausages), sauerkraut, mustards and pretzels. Plus two steins of Oktoberfest beer. I may almost have died of pleasure. The platter was supposed to serve two; we split it between four and were well satisfied, despite the whole cycling-up-a-mountain bit.

Sat 2 Oct 2010 Flew down to Adelaide for Ian’s 30th birthday celebrations, otherwise known as winewinewine: an 8-day cycling tour of the Barossa.  Arrived in the afternoon, reassembled our bikes at the backpackers’, then dinner at the Coopers Alehouse: giant schnizels for most, ok pork belly with fantastic cassoulet for me.

Wed 29 Sept 2010 Smoked mackerel and spinach pilaf. Good! Slice two large golden shallots and fry till soft and golden. Add two teaspoons each black mustard seeds and nigella seeds and cook 1 minute. Add a cup of white rice and cook two minutes. Add 400 ml warm chicken stock (fairly dilute) and bring quickly to boil. Add to pot one fillet of smoked mackerel, flaked into chunks, clap the saucepan lid on, and simmer at very low heat (with simmer mat) for 20 minutes. All the water should be absorbed, and the rice done. Stir through several handfuls of baby spinach, put the lid back on, and rest 3 minutes. Serves 3. (We ate it with green beans, roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes – not terribly successful, wouldn’t do them this way again.)

Tues 28 Sept 2010 Fusilli with roast red and yellow capsicum, black olives, capers, marinated anchovies, garlic, parsley and mint.

Mon 27 Sept 2010 Orecchiette with roast tomatoes and asparagus, marinated anchovies and herbs. The roast veggies were leftovers from Saturday. Definition of true laziness: I couldn’t be bothered dirtying and washing a chopping board so I left the the veggies in their bowl and chopped them up with a pair of scissors. Edwin was a hard hard taskmaster at pilates tonight. Love that man.

Sun 26 Sept 2010 A slice of brioche from Flour Power.

Sat 25 Sept 2010 Dinner at our place with Beth, Scott, Edwige, Jean and Leonie. Entree: smoked ocean trout, my first attempt at home-made salmon gravlax (tasty!), cornichons, green beans, capers and creme fraiche. Main: ravioli stuffed with broad beans, ricotta, mint and lemon, and roast tomatoes (roasted at 90C for 2.5 hours) and asparagus (tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, roasted at 180C for 15 minutes). Dessert: lemon curd and mascarpone tartlets (with the pastry rolled much thinner than in that photo).

Fri 24 Sept 2010 Slow-cooked ocean trout with Israeli couscous, zucchini, chilli and bottarga. I think this is one of those fantasist versions of recipes for restaurant dishes. There are the obvious problems – like the fact that even with mandolin-sliced zucchini you’re not going to get the degree of wilting shown in the photo just by stirring them through hot couscous that’s been removed from the heat (and if you want the zucchini sliced paper thin, you should bloody well specify it). And then the should-have-been-obvious – how the hell is a trout fillet, even one of 90 g, going to cook in 14 minutes in water at 48C? Answer: it’s not. Maybe this is a typo? Surely one wouldn’t describe 14 minutes as slow-cooked? Verdict: couscous ok, fish not ok. Fortunately we were eating this with a pile of roasted new-season asparagus, which was great.

Thurs 23 Sept 2010 Trying to eat leftovers from earlier in the week without dying of boredom, more or less successfully. Puy lentils tossed with piles of wilted greens (always love this). A quarter of an avocado. And a salad of roast beetroot with a dressing of yoghurt, horseradish, aged red wine vinegar, chopped dill and baby capers. It was virulent pink and not quite the flavour I was after but I think I’ll keep playing around with this kind of combination.

Wed 22 Sept 2010 We went to see Beckett’s First Love at the Powerhouse with Flo, and ate at Bar Alto beforehand. Ted and Flo ordered the two dishes that most appealed to me (strozzapretti with squid, tomatoes and olives, and spinach tortellini stuffed with duck in an orange-flavoured brodo) so I was left tossing up between papardelle with goat ragu, and gnocchi with mussels, artichokes and white wine. I thought the latter was a weird combination but would be great if they managed to make it work. Didn’t totally work – all the components were fine but it remained weird. Fantastic evening anyway.

Tues 21 Sept 2010 Puy lentils, roast beetroot, sheep’s feta, herbs; green beans on the side.

Mon 20 Sept 2010 Pasta puttanesca (so yes, almost the same as yesterday, just anchovies instead of tuna, and penne because we were out of spaghetti).

Sun 19 Sept 2010 Spaghetti with tomatoes, chilli, garlic, capers and tuna.

Sat 18 Sept 2010 Chouquette baguette with some of Leonie’s Davidson plum jelly.

Fri 17 Sept 2010 Puy lentils tossed with slow-cooked red onions, wilted spinach, and parsley and mint, topped with a poached egg, plus two slices of toasted baguette.

Thu 16 Sept 2010 Hippy salady thing eaten while revising before Italian class. Put it together fairly randomly while eating breakfast this morning: a handful of mixed cooked red and black quinoas, chickpeas, sheep’s feta, spinach, steamed sweet potato, mint, parsley, lemon juice.

Wed 15 Sept 2010 Leonie’s beef cheek in red wine, courtesy of the magic chiller bag of wonderful food Leonie and Matt sent us back with, eaten with mashed Dutch cream potatoes and green beans. Delicious.

Tues 14 Sept 2010 Pan-fried tofu with peanut sauce; bok choi wilted with ginger, chili and sesame oil; steamed broccoli. The tofu was a bit overdone, but the peanut sauce was fantastic – as Ted said, “it tastes of peanuts, but not peanut butter”. It’s this recipe from Nourish Me, made with natural peanut butter, garlic, shoyu, palm sugar and black vinegar. Will definitely make again (and yes, it can easily be made without a food processor – I did it with a bowl and a whisk).

Fri 10 – Mon 13 Sept 2010 Incredible Mareeba adventure.

Thu 9 Sept 2010 Refec food is hell.

Weds 8 Sept 2010 Stir fry.

Tues 7 Sept 2010 Hell yes, madam: spring onion, coriander and besan flour fritters.

Mon 6 Sept 2010 Got home from pilates and ate left-over torta rustica and a slice of apple pie. My office flooded again over the weekend, as I discovered when I arrived for work this morning.  Merde.

Sun 5 Sept 2010 Another lovely afternoon in the company of lab-mates, this time on Tom and Flo’s deck, looking out over the river and UQ, eating fantastic food, including puff pastry tarts with red onion (slow-cooked with balsamic vinegar, thyme, sage and garlic) and goats cheese, tartines with pate and cornichons or salmon and creme fraiche, and chocolate mousse.

Then, dinner with my parents at our place, for which we made torta rustica, green beans and grilled aubergines. Mum brought apple pie, and also left us some fantastic red wine and fig cake. Dad is going off on Friday to walk the Camino de Santiago for a couple of months so it was lovely to get a chance to see them both.

Sat 4 Sept 2010 After spending the afternoon on Jean and Edwige’s verandah eating a superb four-course French lunch in wonderful company, the very idea of dinner was anathema.

Fri 3 Sept 2010 A bowl of bibimbap at Hancook in Princess Plaza, before going to watch my lovely Italian teacher Olivia performing in Fumo Negli Occhi at the theatre next door. I arrived early for my rendezvous with Ted before dinner, so wandered down Stanley St to check out the cafes there, when who should I see standing about on the footpath but my parents! They were booked in for the early sitting at C’est Bon. After chatting with them for a bit I went back to Princess Plaza to wait for Ted and naturally wandered into the Asian market on the ground floor there to check it out. It looks great – they have pressed silken tofu, interesting-looking brown glass noodles without any packaging, and a good range of fresh and dried greens. I am so going back on the weekend to stock up. So all in all an excellent evening.

Thu 2 Sept 2010 Leftover frittata.

Wed 1 Sept 2010 Frittata of capsicum, zucchini, spinach and smoked cheese.

Tues 31 Aug 2010 Spaghetti with bottarga, garlic, chili, parsley and lemon, with broccoli on the side.

Mon 30 Aug 2010 Soft tacos with black bean chili, roasted red peppers, avocado, coriander and a squeeze of lime. Both the chili and the peppers were great this time. About 4 cups of dried black beans cooked slowly with quite low water levels, to give a good tasty pot liquor. Then fried up a couple of onions, added garlic oil, a couple of heaped teaspoons each of cumin powder, cumin seeds and oregano flakes, and a good pinch of cayenne pepper, and fried another couple of minutes. Added a 7oz tin of chipotle (chopped up) with their sauce, two tins of tomatoes, and the drained beans, then simmered a further couple of hours, adding in ladlefuls of reserved pot liquor as needed. Towards the end, briefly wielded a potato masher in the pan to crush about 20% of the beans to thicken the chili. Smoky, hot, and flavourful. Three red peppers were just sliced into 1 cm strips, tossed with garlic oil, 2 tsp cumin powder, 2 tsp chili flakes, salt and pepper, and roasted at 180 till soft and going dark brown at the edges. Lime was the essential binding flavour for the tacos – had the first one without it and it wasn’t as great.

Sun 29 Aug 2010 No dinner; still full from the superb dosa thali plate we had in West End with Nico and Frieda for lunch, and the subsequent beer at the Montague in the afternoon.

Sat 28 Aug 2010 50 cm strands of spelt linguine tangled with mushrooms sauted with garlic, wilted spinach, crumbled sheeps feta and a few drops of truffle oil. Divine. Consumed with a glass of the Italian pinot grigio we finally picked up this morning after ordering 6 bottles at the Era wine tasting last month.

Also good today: brunch at Mondo in West End (white bean and fennel cassoulet with chorizo, spinach and gremolata, on a slice of toasted pane), followed by a visit to Samios where we spent an entirely worthwhile $105 on bottarga, a whole smoked herring, salted ling, large jars of anchovies and salted capers, various lentils and spices, olive oil soap, etc.

Fri 27 Aug 2010 Ahhh. Puy lentils with roast cubes of carrot, wilted spinach, crumbled sheeps feta, parsley and mint, dressed with seed mustard, cider vinegar and hazelnut oil. Beetroots, roasted on Wednesday night so eaten at room temperature, skinned, sliced into rounds, and dressed with a combination of sherry vinegar and aged red wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil, and tossed with lots of fresh mint and parsley (this was delicious). Then individual lemon puddings.

Thu 25 Aug 2010 Noodles from the refec before Italian class.

Wed 25 Aug 2010 Lamb rack with green beans and whole roast beetroot.

Mon 23 Aug 2010 Looovely dinner with Matt and Ted at the Sardine Tin. We shared a charcuterie plate, parsnip fritters with blue cheese, and toasts with sardines, eggplant caviar and celeriac remoulade. A couple of lovely glasses of wine too (the veltliner in particular). Finished it off by walking up to Fifth Element and sharing a “taste” (i.e. about 2 cm in the bottom of a glass) of 2003 Grange.  We let it breathe for about 20 minutes but it never opened up and tasted almost entirely of tannins. Glad we didn’t buy the bottle for $550.

Sat 21 Aug 2010 Orecchiette with broccoli, lemon, garlic, chili and pangrattato. Strangely tasteless, though perhaps this was also a reflection of watching the incredibly depressing federal election results. If we wake up tomorrow with that mentally deficient back-to-the-50s fuckwit as PM it’s going to be brandy for breakfast.

Fri 20 Aug 2010 Fettucini with swiss brown mushrooms, spinach, garlic, parmesan and Meredith Dairy marinated goat cheese.

Tues 17 Aug 2010 Matt’s delicious beef-and-beer rejig of the left-over osso buco. The meat rebrowned and set aside, small whole mushrooms sauted over high heat and set aside, lardons and pearl onions softened, then the pan deglazed with a bottle of Cascade stout and the meat, thyme and bayleaves added, and all simmered for a couple of hours, mushrooms added halfway through. Superb – far better than the original meal.

Mon 16 Aug 2010 Thai Wi Rat with Matt: duck laab, black pickled egg salad, pork with pickled bamboo shoots.

Sun 15 Aug 2010 Osso buco. I need to remember that this is never as great as I think it will be. I should just get some marrow bones from the butcher and cook those, since the marrow is always the most exciting part.

Sat 14 Aug 2010 Greens and feta pie with roast peppers.

Fri 13 Aug 2010 Dinner at Ceylon Inn with Ted after his office warming party.

Sun 8 – Thurs 12 Aug 2010 Memory fails me, but I’m sure there were a few nights of boring toast for dinner in there.

Sat 7 Aug 2010 Orecchiette with slow-cooked onion, garlic, anchovies, broccoli and chili flakes.

Sun 8 Aug 2010 On top of Mt Ngungun we ate a lovely lunch of Chouquette ficelle with cheese, avocado and rocket. On the drive back home, David Byrne sang prophetically, We used to microwave, now we just eat nuts and berries. Dinner was bread and butter. Good bread and good butter, but good grief, Meg. Get it together!

Sat 7 Aug 2010 Worked most of the day at uni, and stayed past productive time trying to get one last thing done. When we left at 9.15, everything was shut. Every restaurant we drove past was closed or mopping the floors. Brisbane, such an exciting city. We ended up getting takeaway pizza from Posh.

Fri 6 Aug 2010 No dinner. Worked late, came home and sat tiredly on couch, went to bed.

Thu 5 Aug 2010 Black bean chili.

Wed 4 Aug 2010 Drinks and dinner at Archive in West End, with Pete, Bron, Jeremy, Tom, Flo, Edwige, Jean, Anne and Arthur.

Tue 3 Aug 2010 Toast.

Mon 2 Aug 2010 Pasta with roast peppers, pine nuts and blue cheese.

Sun 1 Aug 2010 At Continental Cafe with Ted, after a long long weekend of talking about future plans. Rabbit and mushroom pie with suet crust for me, osso bucco for him.

After dinner, I made preserved lemons with half the lemons that Matt and Leonie brought us from Matt’s parents’ trees.

Sat 31 July 2010 Mmm mmm tofu and lemon curry at Tibetan Kitchen, with Francesca, Mike, Simone and Katrina, after seeing The Runaways at the Barracks.

Fri 30 July 2010 Ho’s birthday dinner at That Thai in Hamilton. The banana leaf chicken was good.

Thur 29 July 2010 Italian classes have started again! So glad. Leftover dal at my office desk while revising verbs.

Wed 28 July 2010 Ted made fettucine carbonara, using bacon given to us by Matt and Leonie, and eggs from our lovely Brookfield cousins Billy and Mary.  I would never, ever think to make this dish myself, but it was delicious. Ted merely rolled his eyes when he told me what he was planning to cook and I asked it it was revenge for all the chickpea dishes I’ve made him eat. After all these years of Let’s Eat with Meg and Ted, it’s amusing that our instinctive food preferences are still so divergent.

Tues 27 July 2010 Frittata of garlicky roast tomatoes and capsicum with coriander.

Mon 26 July 2010 Orecchiette with zucchini, peas, lemon zest, parsley, feta and creme fraiche.

Sun 25 July 2010 A  salad of barley, chickpeas, roast pumpkin and zucchini, garlic, feta, mint and parsley, with a dressing of garlic olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Sat 24 July 2010 It’s probably a reflection on (a) my poorly educated tastebuds and/or (b) the quality of takeaway Indian available in Brisbane that I always prefer the curries as leftovers, when I mix them together in a single saucepan to reheat.

Fri 23 July 2010 Palak paneer and chicken murgh from Agra. Eh.

Thurs 22 July 2010 Too slack to make dinner. True laziness.

Tues 20 July 2010 Spiced pumpkin soup with coconut sambal.

Mon 19 July 2010  CWA lemon cake FTW at breakfast.

Sun 18 July 2010 Matt and Leonie arrived on our doorstep carrying an esky full of fantastic food, including home-dried mango, tiny olives, a superb lemon cake from a CWA stall, aaaaand much good wine, including a white label Diamond Valley pinot. A snacky, chatty dinner of cheese (including an excellent soft pecorino from Tognini’s), bread, olives and wine.

Sat 17 July 2010 Dinner at Siam Samrarn with Ian, Lisa, Charly and Sally.

Fri 16 July 2010 Anise with Michael, Jenny and Ted.

Thurs 15 July 2010 A gigantic pile of tofu, cabbage and ginger, with soy, sesame oil, chili, etc.  Fantastic.

Wed 14 July 2010 A (free!) sit-down tasting of Italian wines, with canapes, at Era Bistro. We ordered a terrifying number of bottles on the way out.

Tues 13 July 2010 Pasta with capers, sun dried tomatoes, the very very last of the pangrattato and ricotta salata. Why yes, we haven’t been grocery shopping for ages.

Sun 11 July 2010 Dinner with my parents at a Singaporean restaurant in Sunnybank.

Mon 5 – Sat 10 July 2010 Ummm… I need to get back into the habit of filling this in every day.

Sun 4 July 2010 Braised savoy cabbage with Saint Marcellin cheese, from a recipe by Molly Stevens, eaten with a baguette traditionnelle from Chouquette. Perfectly good, and I would be extremely happy to eat this dish again if it were put in front of me, but I don’t think I’m likely to make it again – if only because it’s a crime to cook a Saint Marcellin as gorgeously ripe as the one I used.

Sat 3 July 2010 Spelt linguine with mushrooms, herbs and comté.

Fri 2 July 2010 Dinner with Ian and Lisa in Highgate Hill. We tried to get in to Lefkas but they were bursting at the seams, so we tried Thai Patcharin instead. How it has fallen since the glory days when the dominatrix used to work there and (rightly) insist that you chose the special red curry.

Thurs 1 July 2010 A giant bowl of veggies (braised capsicum, roasted garlicky green beans, cauliflower etc) mixed up with left-over pangrattato and grated ricotta salata. Nom nom.

Wed 30 June 2010 Ted made risotto with chilli, lemon and anchovy pangrattato. Odd but tasty.

Tues 29 June 2010 Pasta with all the non-wilted veggies left in the crisper, which worked out far, far better than I had any right to expect. Casarecce with sauted zucchini, mushrooms, left-over cubes of roast pumpkin and peas, with basil and garlic-infused olive oil, and ricotta salata grated over.

Mon 28 June 2010 Thai green curry.

Sun 27 June 2010 A daal and a so-so veggie curry, with litres of left-overs for lunches this week.

Sat 26 June 2010 Left over baked barley before heading out to watch roller derby!

Fri 25 June 2010 Baked barley and vegetables.

Thurs 24 June 2010 Toast with white miso paste and avocado.

Wed 23 June 2010 Ted arrived home with ingredients for pumpkin risotto, but was somewhat put off by the way I was insensate with jetlag on the couch. I woke up only to take myself to bed.

Tues 22 June 2010 Leftover lasagne (Barb’s recipe) from a dinner party Ted gave while I was away, plus a salad of broccoli, cherry tomatoes, basil and flaked almonds.

Mon 21 June 2010 The 21st was lost as I crossed the International Dateline on my way back from the US. I left LA just before midnight on the 20th, and arrived in Brisbane, 13 hours later, on the 22nd. Possibly an airplane meal of impressively overcooked salmon counted as dinner for this date?

Sun 20 June 2010 Ohhhh yes. Last meal in LA with Carolin, Dave and Andreas, at Casalinda on Abbot Kinney. Chicken tamale with mole, crispy shrimp taco, and fantastic halibut taco. Also a bite of D&C’s octopus ceviche.  Followed by a scoop of salted caramel ice cream from Nice Cream.

Sat 19 June 2010 Eclectic dinner at the Canal Club in Venice Beach, including duck confit chile rellenos, carne asada, eel tacos and spider roll.

Fri 18 June 2010 Summer solstice campout at Nelder Grove with D, C and J, and lots of their wonderful friends. Wonderful food amongst the sequoias, including Jon-Paul’s one dish bliss pilaf (rice, onions, pistachios and wilted greens), Ruth’s grilled zucchini with secret spice blend, and Dave’s mojitos made with feral mint picked from beside the creek in Merced.

Thur 17 June 2010 A day of excellent food from start to finish!  For breakfast, pancakes made with a combination of rye, chickpea and almond flour, eaten with berries and maple syrup. For lunch, before my seminar at UC Merced, a visit to a taco truck for two delicious tacos, one shrimp and one carnitas.  A visit to the Mexican market to buy supplies and ogle the organ meats, the fresh and dried chillis, and the hundreds of hanging pinatas. And for dinner, a birthday BBQ for one of Jamie’s friends.

Weds 16 June 2010 Eaten on the terrace outside Dave and Carolin’s house in Cathey’s Valley, in the gloaming, listening to cows in the nearby field and cicadas humming: dinner of a narrow and delicious rack of lamb, cooked in the oven for 15 minutes on top of a pile of finely cubed potato and sweet potato, with a salad of cabbage, carrot, radish and basil. A drizzle of ume plum vinegar makes the lamb sing.

Tues 15 June 2010 After a day of touring around Marin county with Devin, an unintentionally supersized but still excellent carnitas burrito in the Mission district, followed by a beer at the truly superb Casanova Club around the corner.

Mon 14 June 2010 A vegetarian mediterranean plate, and then (ta-da!) two scoops of ice cream from Ici: one basil and the other meyer lemon. Then the largest single shot of whisky I have ever been served, at the Graduate. Sorry about the hangover, Devin.

Weds 9 – Sun 13 June 2010 At the Asilomar conference grounds outside Monterey. High quality conference food, though monumental in size and ludicrous in the amount of meat used.

Tues 8 June 2010 Dinner with Ted at the Continental Cafe the night before I leave for the Wolbachia conference in the US. Wild boar ragout for me, beef cheek for him. Wild Earth pinot noir, which I love so much. Dessert of plum and rosemary tarte tartin, mmmm.

Weds 2 – Mon 7 June 2010 My first failure in this dinner logging.  I didn’t write it down at the time, and now I can’t remember.  The shame!

Tues 1 June 2010 A small piece of gorgonzola. A scoop of coffee and almond ice cream. A belated beer. Why yes, I am home alone working on my conference presentation for next week.

Mon 31 May 2010 Tarty and salady leftovers.

Sun 30 May 2010 A leek, thyme and smoked cheddar tart that needed more salt and much more mustard, with a mixed leaf salad.

Sat 29 May 2010 Pizza from the appalingly-named Posh Pizza, newly opened on Brunswick St. Surprisingly OK, though not as in the same class as Beccofino.

Fri 28 May 2010 After working stupidly late at uni, dinner with Tedster at Raum Thai. Food ok, company lovely.

Thur 27 May 2010 Yet another tupperware of dal excavated from the freezer – I think I will never, ever get sick of curried lentils.

Wed 26 May 2010 Casarecce (one of my favourite pasta shapes) with gorgonzola and broccoli. This was the last remaining bag of pasta I brought home from Italy last year, alas.

Tues 25 May 2010 Grilled parmesan on toast.

Mon 24 May 2010 Cursing myself for deciding that we needed to be slightly more frugal with food – there’s no way I would normally be forcing myself to eat leftovers of something as unappetising as last night’s curry! A small bowl of the spinach sauce with rice is more than enough.

Sun 23 May 2010 Goat and spinach curry – genuinely bad. Think the meat wasn’t great, and have serious doubts about the recipe too.

Sat 22 May 2010 BBQ at Charly and Richie’s. Excellent sauted mushroom and pumpkin salad!

Fri 21 May 2010 Dinner at A Night in India, at a table for 36 people, celebrating Rainer’s visit back to Brisbane.

Thurs 20 May 2010 Dal at my desk before Italian.

Weds 19 May 2010 Ted made gorgonzola and rocket risotto.

Tues 18 May 2010 Penne with garlicky tomato sauce, spinach and feta.

Mon 17 May 2010 Soup again.

Sun 16 May 2010 Soup of root vegetables, roasted with with cumin and coriander seeds, pureed with chicken stock and harissa.

Sat 15 May 2010 Stew take two.

Fri 14 May 2010 Sick with a disgusting cold, I finally understand what Kevin was on about when he said he craved beef stew when he was ill.  Made this one, cooking for 3.5 hours in the oven while I lay on the couch reading Nancy Mitford. The garlic/rosemary/lemon zest added at the end is essential.

Thur 13 May 2010 Pack of veggie crisps eaten at my desk before Italian class. Oh dear.

Wed 12 May 2010 Left-over eggplant pesto with fusilli.

Tue 11 May 2010 Dinner at Caravanserai with Anne, Jeremy, Tom, Flo, Tom and Becky to say goodbye to Anne (she’s leaving for Finland on Friday).

Mon 10 May 2010 Inspired by a delicious eggplant, walnut and tomato pesto with pasta I had for lunch at Lindell and Marcel’s on Saturday, I tried to replicate it for dinner. I cut the tops off two smallish eggplants and stabbed them a few times, roasted them at 180 till they were collapsing, then roughly skinned them and blended the flesh with a handful of walnuts, a cup or two of tomato passata, a couple of handfuls of finely grated pecorino, a dash of aged red wine vinegar, and a small bunch of parsley. It doesn’t taste anything like Lindell’s (alas), but it is ok, especially after sitting and melding for an hour or two. Served with fusilli and a shower of more finely chopped parsley, it was creamy and quite subtle.

I also pottered around this evening making two kinds of curry for lunches this week: a sweet potato and spinach dal, and a cauliflower, pea and tomato curry. The dal was excellent, as of course happens only when I’m randomly chucking in ingredients without paying much attention. Fried an onion, added approx 1 heaped teaspoon each garam masala, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, cumin seeds, salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, two cloves, and two bay leaves, cooked 2 minutes. Added a cup each of 2-hour soaked channa dal and mung dal, plus 1 cup of rinsed but not soaked masoor dal. Added several cups of water and simmered, stirring, keeping an eye on the water level. After 10 minutes added 1.5 cm cubes of sweet potato. Cooked a further 30 mins until dal and sweet potato were soft. Intended to finish off with spinach and a temper of mustard seeds, but it was so good as it was, I left it there.

Sun 9 May 2010 Back from Canberra in the afternoon, we went to a chinese restaurant in Graceville with my parents, grandmother, Les and Carol, Anthony and Louise for Mothers’ day dinner.

Sat 8 May 2010 Kangaroo stew on trenchers at Lindell and Marcel’s!  The trenchers (made by me) were not entirely successful but the stew (Lindell’s) was good.

Fri 7 May 2010 Antipasto and relaxation at L&M’s after a long week.

Thurs 6 May 2010 Solo laksa at Civic Noodle House to try and sooth my incipient cold and the wretched effects of three days of insomnia. Missing out on a posh dinner at the National Museum with the Governor General, but I am too wrung-out to talk science.

Weds 5 May 2010 ECR dinner at the Shine Dome. Scarily typical Australian conference meal – bread and butter, creamy white coleslaw, creamy potato salad, yellow rice salad, baked potatoes, three kinds of roast meat. A shame after the great lunch catering at this meeting.

Tues 4 May 2010 Laksa at Civic Noodle for Jess’s going-away dinner.

Mon 3 May 2010 In Canberra for Science at the Shine Dome. Indian at Taj Mahal with Jess, Rob, Tonya and Simon.

Sun 2 May 2010 Soup of cabbage, borlotti beans and speck.

And an excellent lunch at Beccofino – orecchiette with artichoke hearts, garlic, chilli, parmesan and pangrattato. I’ve never entirely seen the point of pangrattato before, but I think it’s because (a) I haven’t browned it enough and (b) mine usually isn’t so garlicky. Damn fine.

Sat 1 May 2010  Pasta. Eh.

Fri 30 Apr 2010 Bamboo Basket with my parents, for my birthday. Superb!  Sliced silken tofu with century egg to start, delicious. Then noodles with duck, chilli green beans, and incredible, silky, glossy, almost-too-rich pork belly in soy sauce with bok choi.

Thurs 29 Apr 2010 Left-over lunch curry before Italian class.

Weds 28 Apr 2010 Salad of puy lentils with sauted onion, zucchini, garlic and spinach, with roasted capsicums on the side.

Tues 27 Apr 2010 Birthday dinner at Enoteca! Two primi: peas, pancetta and cuttlefish again (not quite so spectacular as last time), then whiting with mushrooms and polenta. Being too full for dessert, I asked Sweet Baby Jesus (waiter and best wine-recommender ever) for an Italian equivalent of a calvados and he came through with Amaro Nonino – not something I would ever chose for myself, but it turned out to be precisely what I wanted.

Mon 26 Apr 2010 Erm… cacio e pepe again.

Sun 25 Apr 2010 Cacio e pepe.

Sat 24 Apr 2010 Toast and vegemite.

Fri 23 Apr 2010 Pasta e ceci.

Thur 22 Apr 2010 Stirfry of duck and vegies with chili and cashews at Renu Thai before Italian class.

Wed 21 Apr 2010 Mushroom and spinach risotto, again the work of Marcel (while the rest of us sat around reading stories to kids and watching They Might Be Giants’ kids’ DVD Here Comes Science).

Tues 20 Apr 2010 Vegetarian sushi, made by Marcel.

Mon 19 Apr 2010 Veggie curry and rice.

Sun 18 Apr 2010  Slow-cooked rabbit with red wine and olives. Delicious! Started with a rabbit bought from The Meat Palace that the cheery butcher cut into 8 pieces for us (on the bone). Browned in a wide pan in oil, then added about half a bottle of red wine, two tins of tomatoes roughly chopped, three carrots cut into ~2 cm dice, 10 golden shallots peeled and halved, pepper and a couple of cups of water. Brought to a simmer on the stove, and kept it at a very gentle simmer for about two hours, stirring occasionally. About half an hour before the end, threw in a couple of handfuls of fat black olives. By the end the sauce was fairly thick – almost more like a fricassee than a stew.

Sat 17 Apr 2010 Sausages from Cooroy’s Meat Hall (a.k.a. The Meat Palace – they have two smokehouses out the back of the shop and the butcher was serious about meat and seriously cheery), with mash and broccoli.

Fri 16 Apr 2010 Boring pasta, but it’s ok because I’m busy packing for holidays at Cooroy with Lindell and Marcel and the kids. I’m also baking this delicious-looking berry cake to take with us.

Thur 15 Apr 2010 The last leftovers of the aubergine dal.

Wed 14 Apr 2010 You can never have just one: salad nicoise.

Tue 13 Apr 2010 Salad nicoise.

Mon 12 Apr 2010 A dal with sauted aubergine and roughly chopped roasted tomatoes stirred through close to the end, riffing on this recipe. Turned out very well, despite my initial lack of enthusiasm about it while it was bubbling in the pot.

Sun 11 Apr 2010 Toast with peanut butter and a monumental strop about how crap we are about making sure we have fresh food in the house. Ugh.

Sat 10 Apr 2010 Penne with the last tiny skerricks of roast chicken, mushrooms, spinach, seed mustard, a dash of sour cream and parmesan. That’s the last of the chicken, apart from the stock I made from the carcass, part of which will probably go into soup tomorrow, and the rest into the freezer. Thank you for (I anticipate) five meals for two people, little chicken.

Fri 9 Apr 2010 Excellent pizza from Beccofino – one with eggplant and stracchino, the other a pizza bianca with porcini and thyme. Thin chewy crusts, speckled almost black on the bottom.

Thur 8 Apr 2010 Left-over chicken with green beans.

Wed 7 Apr 2010 A chicken roasted a la  Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, with green salad and good bread.

Tues 6 Apr 2010 Tragically oversalted and overcooked noodles with tofu, broccoli and black fungus.  Really pretty disgusting.

Mon 5 Apr 2010 The most incredibly satisfying piece of wholegrain toast with peanut butter, eaten at 11 pm after rearranging all our bookshelves (the new bright red bookshelves are finally in action).

Sun 4 Apr 2010 The first minestrone of the year. Autumn keeps threatening to arrive, but not quite following through. Although I suppose since it’s no longer vomit-inducingly hot I can’t say that summer is still here either. God I wish Brisbane had proper seasons, I hate their absence more than I can possibly convey.

Sat 3 Apr 2010 A late and boring pasta after a day of mattress-shopping and desultory snacking.

Fri 2 Apr 2010 Went to Southbank to watch the new Clash of the Titans in 3D, which did not deliver quality trash as hoped. Come back Harry Hamlin, I now appreciate your value!  At Bamboo Basket afterwards, had cold hand-pulled noodles with sesame sauce and chicken, and braised tofu and vegetables. My favourite dish here is still the spicy green beans we had last time.

Thur 1 Apr 2010 Aubergine, chickpeas and couscous, gobbled cold from a tupperware while sitting on the steps outside my Italian class, two minutes before it was due to start.

Wed 31 Mar 2010 Pizza at the pizza caffe to celebrate Anne submitting her PhD thesis.

Tue 30 Mar 2010 Toast.

Mon 29 Mar 2010 Pumpkin and spinach ravioli with brown butter and sage sauce; broccoli and peas with lemon and garlic oil.

Sun 28 Mar 2010 Indian takeaway from Agra. The palak paneer is not great; but I like the tarka dal and love the chicken in pickling spices.

Sat 27 Mar 2010 Judy produced a tour de force from the Spirit House cookbook. Everything superb. In order: a soup of duck stock with herbs, omlette and chicken dumplings. Salad of prawns and herbs with tamarind dressing. Salad of tea-smoked chicken with crispy vegetables and coconut dressing. Red curry of roast duck and lychees. I am fired with inspiration and admiration!

Fri 26 Mar 2010 Fled Brisbane for the weekend to stay with Peter and Judy in Pomona. I got out of the car at their house in the middle of the bush and felt the weekend open up to receive me. So very, very in need of relaxation. Perfect start to the weekend, a simple dinner of delicious greek-style stewed okra, onions and tomatoes, with good bread. I wish I could bottle this bliss.

Thur 25 Mar 2010 I failed in my mission to bring dinner to eat before Italian class, but did at least get an excellent mushroom pizza at the Schonell pizza caffe rather than crapola refec noodles.

Wed 24 Mar 2010 Dinner with my parents at an Eritrean restaurant, Mu’ooz.  Qulwa (lamb with tasame, rosemary and green chili), zighni (spicy beef curry with berbere, tomato and tasame), tsebhi kantisha (mushroom stew with berbere) and shiro (ground chickpeas), with wonderful enjera.

Tues 23 Mar 2010 Couscous with chickpeas, roast tomatoes and capsicums, and a pseudo-pesto of basil, mint, pistachios, a couple of almonds, pecorino and olive oil. Heidi Swanson’s unfussy apple cake for dessert.

Mon 22 Mar 2010 Roast tomato and basil risotto with steamed green beans. That is significantly more like it.

Sun 21 Mar 2010 You know, I really prefer the “lazy Sunday” where you put a slow-cooking dish on the stove to simmer all afternoon for a delicious dinner, rather than the “lazy Sunday” when you lie around all day and then realise at 7 pm that you are starving and have nothing in the fridge, leading to the purchase of bad Thai takeaway. Next time, Gadget, next time.

Sat 20 Mar 2010 Lovely night at Jean and Edwige’s with Inaki, Begona, Luciano and Eliane. Mushrooms stuffed with cheese and herbs and tiny peeled cucumbers stuffed with agrodolce mince; lamb cutlets with summer vegetable pie and potato; wonderful cheeses E+J brought back from Sydney (incl a particularly good St Marcellin – I’d forgotten how wonderful it can be); little molten chocolate cakes with orange sauce, and Eliane’s Portugese coconut pudding.

Fri 19 Mar 2010 A serendipitous second chance for the rejigged Raun Thai in Tooowong with Ian, Lisa, Sally and Charly. Much better! Very good: mussaman  curry, stirfried beef with green beans and chilli, chicken laab (possibly too much dried shrimp, but great heat). Good: drunken noodles, green chicken curry. Stirfried pork with mushroom and ginger was not very exciting at all, but 5/6 is not bad.

Thurs 18 Mar 2010 Extremely unsatisfying noodles from the noodle bar on campus before my first Italian lesson. I am going to have to implement a bring-my-dinner strategy for next week.

Weds 17 Mar 2010 Left-over frittata with a pile of sauted mixed mushrooms with a dash of sherry vinegar and wilted spinach.

Tues 16 Mar 2010 Frittata of leftover roast cherry tomatoes, capsicum and pumpkin, plus spinach, flat-leaf parsley and ricotta. The ricotta (tub form, not fresh) is a good addition; it lightens the frittata a bit.

Mon 15 Mar 2010 A small piece of saganaki with peppered baby figs, followed by sardines, roast cherry tomatoes and rocket salad.

Sun 14 Mar 2010 Springy hand-pulled noodles with duck, and extremely tasty green beans with pork mince, chilli and dried shrimp, at Bamboo Basket in South Brisbane.

Sat 13 Mar 2010 An experimental freeform closed tart, made with thinly rolled out galette dough, containing goats’ curd, caramelised onions, and wilted silverbeet with sultanas. OK but not totally successful – Matt suggested ground mace in the pastry, good idea. On the side, roast capsicums and pumpkin. Quince and mascarpone for dessert. Most extraordinary: the wines. We drank the two bottles of riesling we’d been hoarding since buying them in Alsace with Marie and Laurent and they were both spectacular. Also a bottle of Peregrine pinot noir which was exceptionally good.

Fri 12 Mar 2010 Matt is down staying with us for a couple of days. Weekend kicked off extremely well with dinner at Enoteca. Two primi, dessert and cheese. The absolute star: cuttlefish, green peas and pancetta. I still shiver delightedly when I think about it.  Sardines with glorious white polenta infused I think with onion and herbs. Canoli. Pecorino washed in red wine and a Brie de Nangis. Superbly chosen (by the staff) wine by the glass with each course. Would eat here thrice weekly if I could afford it.

Thurs 11 Mar 2010 Take two whiskies and call me in the morning. What a day.

Weds 10 Mar 2010 Inspired by a tweet of Shari’s, made Orangette’s broccoli soup with lemon chive cream. Soup good; could eat the lemon chive cream by the spoonful (and a bit extra was also great later spread on rye bread). 

Tues 9 Mar 2010 Salad of plums, gorgonzola, walnuts, rocket and spinach with a dressing of olive oil, champagne vinegar and honey, and some light rye bread.

Mon 8 Mar 2010 Monday-night Ted in the kitchen: wonderful mushroom and sage risotto with a transformative dash of truffle oil.

Sun 7 Mar 2010 Typically traumatic excursion to Ikea led directly to indulgent and fantastically enjoyable viewing of 1981 version of Clash of the Titans (Harry Hamlin, you utter, utter bimbo), accompanied by commercial corn chips and bad salsa. Late at night finally got around to making dinner and gallons of leftovers for lunches. Panch dal (do NOT attempt to skip 2 hour soaking step next time) and delicious spinach and pumpkin curry.

Sat 6 Mar 2010 To Burger Urge for an aubergine burger and a beer. Sat outside and watched a mixture of hipsters and young women wearing miniscule black dresses and teetering heels flow down Brunswick St towards the Valley.

Fri 5 Mar 2010 Oh Friday night I love you. Ted and I stayed home and made this onion, fennel seed and mustard tart (superb), eaten with a salad of baby spinach and Swiss brown mushrooms. The lovely lovely mood was helped along with a great bottle of red (a gift from one of my Perl students, Andrew), a closely-fought game of cards, good music and lots of chat. Now early-ish to bed. [Notes for next time for the tart: 2 tblsp of mustard was perfect; 1.4 kg of onions is enough; heat a pizza stone in the oven, cook the tart for full 30 minutes and just cover with foil if it's browning too quickly.]

Thurs 4 Mar 2010 Radical breakaway from Thursday night quinoa: this chopped cabbage/tofu/miso salad recipe from 101 Cookbooks, via Thus Bakes Zarathustra. Was a bit ad hoc with the construction; next time need seasoned rather than plain tofu, more (much, much more) of the delicious fried shallots, and less dressing. Ted came home without having had his usual apres-climbing Vietnamese dinner out and ate my leftovers intended for lunch tomorrow: FOILED. (This despite his look of frank horror when I cheerfully told him “it’s cabbage, tofu and miso! Bwahahaha.”)

Wed 3 Mar 2010 Goddamn it, food, we used to be pals. Why are you giving me this drama? Confit zucchini with mint and almonds (tasteless), white beans (mealy), ricotta (past its prime as I should have known perfecty well), roasted cherry tomatoes (fine but not enough to save an almost entirely unsatisfying meal).

Tues 2 Mar 2010 Full of dinner plans at mid-afternoon, by the time I am catching the bus home in the pouring rain at 7.30 I decide to skip grocery shopping and make pasta with a sauce of leftover veggies and fresh ricotta. Fine but uninspiring. I need to get back into the Saturday morning West End market groove so we have better starting material in the kitchen. I was fantasising about eating kilos of fresh spinach with that ricotta, a la the salad here.

Mon 1 Mar 2010 Ted made pizza dough while I was at pilates, aborted pizza-making at short notice to drive me to the doctor for finger-wrangling, drove me home again, resumed making dinner, and good-naturedly presented me with my fantasy zucchini/fresh ricotta/garlic pizza before making his own festival-of-salami pizza.  Best husband ever.

Sun 28 Feb 2010  A crapload of canapes, eaten during the NZ in a Glass wine tasting. Standout vineyards: Vynfields and Clos Marguerite.

Sat 27 Feb 2010 Dinner with Miffy and Simon at our place. Make-your-own pizzas, then green salad, followed by whisky chocolate cake with mascarpone.

Fri 26 Feb 2010 Oxymoronic Thai at Siam Thai Square. Friday beers on the roof appear to be 100% incompatible with actually cooking at home.

Thur 25 Feb 2010 My Thursday nights are becoming a cliche. I was not actually planning on the quinoa/avocado/nori thing but when I opened the fridge it was almost entirely bare except for a bowl of left-over quinoa and a nearly-too-ripe avocado. Fate.

Wed 24 Feb 2010 Take-away Indian from Agra for Vindaloo Against Violence. Peshawari channa, mmmmm. I love amchoor powder.

Tue 23 Feb 2010 Pumpkin and spinach ravioli with tomato sauce.

Mon 22 Feb 2010 Fairly unexciting pizza from Vespa.

Sun 21 Feb 2010 Baguette with blue cheese.

Sat 20 Feb 2010 A mix of black, red and white quinoa; roast capsicum, zucchini, fennel and some narrow baby carrots; pesto made with another huge bunch of basil from Ian and Lisa’s garden.

Fri 19 Feb 2010 Dinner at Raun Thai with Ian, Lisa, Jens and Alison. It’s changed hands in the last few weeks (after, what, 15 years?) and is alas not so good any more.

Thur 18 Feb 2010 Grilled parmesan on toast. Vegetables are a faint memory.

Wed 17 Feb 2010 Glass of champagne & an early night.

Tue 16 Feb 2010 Crackers with avocado and pepper at my desk at uni, trying to finish an analysis.

Mon 15 Feb 2010 Salad nicoise.

Sun 14 Feb 2010 P-p-pesto p-p-pasta.

Sat 13 Feb 2010 Dinner at our place with Tom, Flo, Jean and Edwige.  Awesome starter of saganaki with peppered figs (the original recipe was too peppery even for me; I filtered out about half the pepper before the final sauce reduction). Then pesto and veggie galette, with roast tomatoes and a true green salad (baby spinach, pea shoots, blanched fine green beans and peas, mint leaves, shaved fennel). Plums for dessert.

Fri 12 Feb 2010 Pasta with garlic, chargrilled eggplant, roast cherry tomatoes and feta.  Getting out of this pasta rut is going to take Olympic-level rappelling equipment.  Oh wait, rappelling is going down not up….    noooooooooooooo!

Thur 11 Feb 2010 The eternally delicious red quinoa/ponzu/sesame oil/avocado/nori bowl.

Wed 10 Feb 2010 A so-so spaghetti alla Norma at Arriva.  I knew I should have listened to that radicchio pizza calling my name! Good wine and chit chat with Brian though.

Tue 9 Feb 2010 Pasta with tomatoes, broccoli, chilli.

Mon 8 Feb 2010 Left-over curry and samosas from last night; thanks mum.

Sun 7 Feb 2010 Dinner at my parents’ place to celebrate Ted’s birthday last week and dad’s birthday this coming week. Mum made curries (goat, chicken and vegetable & paneer) and rice, and I made orange and cardamom cake. The cake was very good – perfect crumb, light but with good body.  I substituted the zest of two oranges for the orange extract.

Sat 6 Feb 2010 A great evening at Scott and Beth’s with Jean and Edwige. Prawns with lemongrass, reef fish with malaysian coconut curry sauce and rice, excellent cheese, and delicious pastry with raspberries.

Fri 5 Feb 2010 Feeling lazy after Friday beers on the roof, went to Yum Yum at Merthyr Village for tofu and asian mushroom hotpot with lots of lovely slightly bitter greens.

Thur 4 Feb 2010 Dinner at e’cco for Ted’s birthday.  Me: dukkah-crusted lambs’ brains with celeriac remoulade, rocket and spiced tomato pickle; sous vide ocean trout with parsley risotto, garlic emulsion and herb salad. Ted: pork rillettes, apple puree, frisee, fennel pollen (delicious!) and vincotto; lamb rump, chickpeas, chorizo, tomatoes, spinach and harissa. We shared a dessert, the absolute star of the meal: crushed orange and almond cake with orange caramel, fennel ice cream, and caramelised fennel.  Superb.

Wed 3 Feb 2010 Pasta with tomatoes, zucchini, oregano and goats cheese. Leftovers this tasty are perfectly acceptable.

Tue 2 Feb 2010 A piece of goats cheese with cherry tomatoes and rocket.

Mon 1 Feb 2010 Home-made pizza with tomato, oregano, zucchini and mushrooms, thanks to Ted the Monday-night chef.

Sun 31 Jan 2010 Corn chips at 5, pistachios at 10.

Sat 30 Jan 2010 Housewarming party at Edwige and Jean’s.  We took these rotolos of prosciutto, mascarpone, truffle oil and frisee.

Fri 29 Jan 2010  Dinner with Ian and Lisa at our place.  A galette of pesto, goats cheese, zucchini and capsicum, a bit burnt due to apparent brain damage on my part but still good, plus green salad.  Nectarines sauted with honey/muscat/bay leaves, with vanilla ice cream, for dessert.

Thur 28 Jan 2010  Thursday is Ted’s climbing night, and he’ll be eating out: my chance to eat the seriously hippie food this ex-vegetarian loves more than any meat ever, even anchovies.  Tonight, red quinoa dressed with ponzu, sesame oil and Sriracha chili sauce, with avocado and nori. Recipe from Tea and Cookies via Adventures in the Pointless Forest; it is every bit as good as they say it is. I put the first forkful in my mouth and everything slows down.

Wed 27 Jan 2010  Baguette traditionnelle from Chouquette, tin of good sardines, roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic, and a salad of finely sliced zucchini, basil and toasted flaked almonds. Spanish Albarino.

Tue 26 Jan 2010  Ultra-boring pasta with tomato sauce.  Waited till we were starving to start thinking about dinner, bad move.

Mon 25 Jan 2010  Stir fry of tofu, choy sum, capsicum, snow peas and ginger.

Sun 24 Jan 2010  Sunday lunch special at Curry Connection with Nouri, Nico and Frida.  Plain dosa and masala dosa, both excellent, plus good sambal and chutney and so-so mixed veggie curry.  No need for dinner!

Sat 23 Jan 2010  Dinner at Thai Wi Rat with Mel and Jason.  The ever-excellent duck laab, som tam and sticky rice, plus spicy Laos sausage, pork in red chilli, and vegetarian green curry. Then beers afterwards at Cosmo to continue the conversation.

Sat 23 Jan 2010  Brunch at Sassafras in Paddington.  Chilli corn cakes ok, not convinced about the combination with hummus. But Ted’s eggs were good, coffees fine, and it’s still my favourite cafe for atmosphere – friendly staff, jumble of big mismatched tables inside, and lovely back garden of plants, tables and umbrellas.

Fri 22 Jan 2010  Nothing for dinner – just back from  5 days on Heron Island with my compulsively-overcatering labmates.