Eating notes 2016

Sun 3 July 2016 Made this ragu, and ate it with gnocchi. Seared brussels sprouts with garlic and lemon zest on the side. Very good.

Sat 2 June 2016 Still snotty and tired. Made chicken soup: sauteed onion, lots of garlic and carrots, added vermouth, then thyme, 2 cups chicken stock, big pinch of chili flakes, a bit of water. Laid two chicken thigh fillets in the simmering liquid and poached until just cooked, then removed them and set them aside to cool a little. Added in a quarter of a smallish savoy cabbage, chopped, and a couple of palmfuls of orzo. Simmered 10 minutes. Shredded the cooked chicken and added it back in to warm through. Served in shallow bowl with lots of fresh parsley, finely grated parmesan, and black pepper.

Thurs 29 June 2016 Finally ate the oxtail! Fucking delicious. Had it with broken rice, steamed broccolini, and julienned carrots seared in the wok with rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Tues 28 June 2016 Stupidly, too tired and slumpy to do the last 5-minute step to make the oxtail ready to eat. Ordered Thai takeaway instead. Entering the third week of having a cold – or think it might actually be the flu – and cannot be bothered with anything.

Mon 27 June 2016 Made sichuan red-braised oxtail, but left it to rest overnight. Ate pasta with passata, peas, goats cheese instead.

Sun 26 June 2016 Lamb meatballs with feta and lemon, based on this recipe.Various changes, including using red wine rather than water, and cooked leftover rice rather than breadcrumbs since I was out. Ate with a dish of orzo, feta, lemon zest and juice, mint, parsley. Very good.

Mon 20 June 2016 Tossed together a warm salad of haloumi, zucchini, peas, mint, parsley, pine nuts, lemon and a handful of freekeh.

Sun 19 June 2016 Realised that the stock of various cooked legumes in the freezer is almost depleted so cooked up two dishes to pack into ziplocks and freeze for future lazy dinners: chipotle blackbeans, and a variant of these honey and vinegar white beans. For the latter, I used Tasmanian Christmas bush honey – a new favourite.

I also made a couple of dishes to eat for Sunday dinner plus lunches throughout the week. The first was a simple salad of grilled eggplant, freekeh, feta, mint, parsley, pomegranate seeds and a dressing of pomegranate molasses and olive oil.

The next was bloody fantastic: baked white beans, peppers and chorizo. Slice and sautee an onion until golden and soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and a tablespoon or so of chipotle in adobo and cook another couple of minutes. Next add about 3 cups of white beans, cooked from dry (I used great northern beans); four or five fire-roasted capsicums from a jar, rinsed and chopped into 1 inch pieces; 1 chorizo sausage (I used San Jose aged) peeled and cut into 1.5 cm pieces; 1 tin of tomatoes, roughly chopped, about 300 ml of passata. Bring to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes; season to taste. At this point there should still be some liquid but not a watery soup. Stir in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach to wilt. Tip it all into a baking dish, then sprinkle generously with fresh rough sourdough breadcrumbs. Bake at 180C for half an hour or so, until the breadcrumbs are golden and the stew has bubbled up a little through them. Remove from the oven and set aside to settle for 10 minutes before serving.

Tues 10 May 2016 Made these delicious noodles for dinner, with a couple of modifications: added sliced shiitakes before the pork mince, was very heavy-handed (perfectly) with the chili bean sauce, and used udon noodles because they were what was in the cupboard. Very good.

Sat 30 April – Sun 8 May 2016 In Medellin for a planning meeting (for three of the days; the rest were travel). Lovely to see the team there. Eating highlight was the last night – shared plates, all good, but especially a perfectly rare and tender piece of steak sliced and eaten with a lovely salad.

On the way back we missed a connection and had to spend a day in LA. We walked from the airport to the nearest hotel at 2 am (4 am Colombian time) and crashed. By the time we were all up, we had only a few hours so we caught a taxi to Manhattan beach, walked around for a while, then had a very long and very delicious lunch at Fishing With Dynamite. Everything fantastic. Particularly good were the various cold-water oysters – eating oysters in Australia, I’d almost forgotten why I loved them so much when I lived in Ireland.

Mon 25 April 2016 Made an excellent mushroom soup based fairly closely on this recipe. For two people: Quarter and slice an onion, then cook in a little olive oil until golden and soft. Add 500 g of sliced brown mushrooms and 3 chopped garlic cloves, and continue cooking until golden and softened. Deglaze the pan with a good slosh of dry white vermouth. Add half a cup of home-made chicken stock, 1.5 cups of water, 10g of dried porcini, salt, pepper and a palmful of fresh thyme leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and use a stick blender to blend, adding a little more liquid if necessary. Season to taste. Slice 150 g more mushrooms and saute over high heat in a heavy pan to get a good sear on them. Serve the soup with a spoonful of red rice, the extra mushrooms, and a good sprinkle of chopped chives. Very savoury and good.

Wed 27 April 2016 Dinner at Cutler & Co. Not as spectacular as I remembered from last time.

Tues 26 April 2016 Pasta with eggplant, tomato and crumbled fresh ricotta. I had forgotten how much I love eggplants cooked this way: slice into circles around 1 – 1.5 cm thick. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay slices on foil under a grill (broiler) and cook until the top side is golden. Turn and cook until other side colours and the slice is very tender. They can be eaten like this (e.g. on couscous with greens and pine nuts and tahini-lemon sauce), or torn into smaller pieces for tossing through pasta.

Sun 24 April 2016 Much more sedate evening. A little wine, then crackers, cheeses and salami.

Sat 23 April 2016 Staying the long weekend in the Yarra Valley with Ted, Janine, Al, Turley, Jess and Andrei. We drank all the wine, and then ate pizza.

Fri 22 April 2016 So tired. So very tired. Stayed for drinks and snacks with the lab, then piked on dinner and went home to sleep.

Wed 20 April 2016 Roasted sweet potatoes whole, then split them and topped with chipotle black beans, seared corn, quinoa and avocado.

Tues 19 April 2016 Ermmm… a nashi and two squares of 85% chocolate.

Mon 18 April 2016 Drinks and takeaway at Janine’s place. We ordered from Bheema’s indian – highlights were the home-style okra, chana masala, goat curry, and andhra kodi koora (chicken curry with gravy of coconut and poppyseed).

Tues 12 April 2016 Soup of potato, parsnip, cauliflower, with a little mustard and creme fraiche. Eaten with a tartine of sauteed mushrooms and melted swiss cheese on sourdough.

Mon 11 April 2016 Dinner of two tacos at Fonda on Flinders Lane: one prawn (the best – so good) and one fish. Then we went to see Rams at the Kino cinema.

Mon 4 April 2016 Lazily ordered takeaway for dinner from a new Nepalese place: goat curry, and a dish of tofu and peas with chili and coriander.

Wed 30 March 2016 Left-over tagine.

Tues 29 March 2016 Toast with miso, avocado and sliced tomato.

Mon 28 March 2016 Made a lamb shank tagine with figs, pistachios and pomegranate molasses. Ate with couscous and greens.

Fri 25 March 2016 Made lentil and vegetable lasagne, much to Ted’s horror. Innards included green lentils, cooked then mixed with sauteed onion/carrot/tomato paste; bechamel, chard, and some grilled eggplant.

Fri 25 March 2016 Pasta with a sauce of tomato, cauliflower and chili.

Sun 20 March 2016 For dinner, I made this lemongrass and turmeric curry paste, then used it as the base of a soup. I cooked a couple of tablespoons of the paste in a smallish saucepan, then once the raw flavour was gone I added a tiny tin of coconut milk and about two thirds of a cup of home-made chicken stock. Brought this to a simmer, then poured it over low bowls in which I’d placed various cooked bits and pieces: a palmful of red rice, a similar amount of mung beans, some steamed sweet potato cubes, a little bit of chicken, and some steamed, chopped kale. Warming and delicious.

Sat 19 March 2016 Cold and rainy day, and I still have hellishly streaming sinuses. For lunch, a bit of pasta with bolognese, and a large bowl of this kale and pecorino salad. A few changes: I used the zest of the lemon and a bit more juice in the dressing, along with chestnut honey and a little dijon mustard. Substituted the pecans with toasted flaked almonds. Finely grated rather than flaked the pecorino. The addition of pecorino is key – don’t leave it out.

Dinner: a slice of sourdough, lightly toasted, spread finely with Dijon mustard, pepper cracked over that, then a palmful of coarsely grated strong swiss cheese laid over the top. Under the grill for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbling. Eaten with the last of the left-over salad.

Fri 18 March 2016 Henry’s last Friday. Drinks at work then dinner at Gourmet Dumpling.

Thurs 17 March 2016 Drinks and tapas with Keyne at Carlisle Wine Bar. Two glasses of an excellent palomino.

Wed 16 March 2016 Sick and grumpy. No dinner.

Tues 15 March 2016 Fuschia Dunlop’s sichuan celery and beef mince, steamed rice, and blanched chinese broccoli with garlic.

Mon 14 March 2016 Left-overs.

Sun 13 March 2016 I loved that cauliflower, mushroom and chickpea salad I made last week, but was thinking of making it into something more to Ted’s taste. I prepared the cauliflower, mushrooms, onion and chard in the same way, then mixed it with 200 g of pasta cooked until very al dente, some scamorza affumicata, a couple of spoonfuls of creme fraiche, parmesan and fresh thyme, then baked for half an hour until golden on top. It was fine – but you know I much, much preferred the salad version.

Sat 12 March 2016 Brunch at Master of None – grilled sandwich of roast beef, beet cabbage kraut, mustard, strong cheese.

Early dinner before going to see Picnic and Hanging Rock at the Malthouse: soft corn tacos with chipotle blackbeans, zucchini roasted with bay, lemon and garlic, and roast capsicum.

I’ve been eating one or two figs off the tree most days for the last three weeks or so. I love this time of year.

Wed 9 March 2016 Turley and Jess took me out to dinner – a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event at Eureka 89. Five courses, each using a different local honey from backyard or rooftop hives. So good.

Tues 8 March 2016 Bowl of couscous, roasted roma tomatoes, grilled green beans, pine nuts, artichoke hearts and sardines.

Mon 7 March 2016 Dinner: salad of roast cauliflower, halved and sauteed swiss brown mushrooms, chickpeas, buckwheat groats, onions sliced and cooked until dark brown and sweet, torn leaves of young chard, parsley, and a dressing of white wine vinegar, seed mustard and olive oil.

Tues 2 February 2016 Good salad at St Ali for lunch: tofu larb with a Vietnamese salad.

Mon 25 – Sun 31 January 2016 In Yogyakarta for work.

Tues 19 January 2016 Asparagus, almond and ricotta ravioli, dressed with lemon-infused olive oil and fresh herbs.

Mon 18 January 2016 Felafel plate: felafels, baba ganoush, greens with pine nuts and currants, zucchini and eggplant with ras el hanout, sliced sour pickles, flatbread.

Sun 17 January 2016 Brunch with Sal at Wide Open Road: cauliflower and quinoa fritters with poached eggs, fennel, spinach, whipped feta, tomato relish. Sal’s just moved to Melbourne for a year to train as an air traffic controller(!!!).

Dinner: salad of fennel, green soy beans, ruby grapefruit, avocado, feta and smoked salmon.

I also did some cooking for the week ahead. First, two lunches of tofu, stir fried chinese broccoli, red pepper, onion and ginger, and brown rice.

Then a couple of vegetable dishes for a felafel plate I want to make for dinner tomorrow. One dish of onion, chard, pine nuts, currants and aged red wine vinegar. Another dish of zucchini and eggplant with ras el hanout. For this one, I sliced three zucchini and one eggplant into 1 cm sliced, tossed in oil and salt, and seared on the cast iron skillet until golden and just soft. In a separate saucepan, I cooked onion, garlic and a sliced long red chili until soft. Added a heaped teaspoon of ras el hanout. Deglazed with a dash of rose. Added four large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 cm cubes, and a heaped teaspoon of sugar. Simmered five minutes until breaking down into a sauce. Added the zucchini and eggplant (each piece cut into two), and simmered a further 5-10 minutes. Adjust salt, sugar, spice to taste.

Sat 16 January 2016 Lunch: sourdough toast with avocado, a fried egg and sriracha. Dinner: pasta with sauteed mushrooms, young chard from the garden, parsley, marinated feta, lemon juice, pine nuts.

Fri 15 January 2016 Stayed at the lab till 11 pm playing Cards Against Humanity and eating Thai takeaway.

Thurs 14 January 2016 So tired from not sleeping well last night in the heat. Got expensive but delicious takeaway from Babuji. Slow-cooked goat curry particularly good.

Wed 13 January 2016 42 degrees C while I was walking from uni to Huntingdale. Fortunately it was also only about 15% humidity so I arrived at the station comfortable and sweat-free. Still, we were in absolutely no mood for heating up the kitchen, so we had vietnamese rice-paper rolls for dinner, with marinated tofu, cucumber, capsicum, carrot, daikon, mixed vietnamese herbs from the garden and rice noodles.

Tues 12 January 2016 Got home from work late and tired. Had a slice of toasted sourdough with good ricotta and home-made marmalade for dinner. I love that combination – first had it at Peter and Judy’s place in Pomona many years ago and it always reminds me of them.

Mon 11 January 2016 Roast pumpkin and pinenut ravioli with a sauce of mushrooms, shallot, Meredith marinated goats cheese, ricotta, lemon juice and fresh herbs.

Sun 10 January 2016 Made two things for dinner with loads left over for lunches this week. Tomatoes stuffed with rice, pine nuts and currants from this recipe (minor changes: added an extra 100 ml of water to the rice while cooking, used fresh mint and parsley rather than dried, added the juice of a lemon to the rice just before stuffing the tomatoes, the rice was more than enough to over-stuff nine tomatoes rather than eight). A salad of blanched green beans, sauteed wedges of pattypan squash, chickpeas, herbs, feta, sumac.

Sat 9 January 2016 Lunch: salad of red rice, cauliflower roasted with paprika, cavolo nero, pine nuts, currants and smoked mackerel.

Dinner: soup of chicken, couscous, ginger and greens.

Fri 8 January 2016 Soft tacos: corn tortillas, chipotle black beans, roast sweet potato, sauteed zucchini, squeeze of lime. Every time I make an amazing dinner by pulling a ziplock bag of pre-cooked beans from the freezer, I think about how much I love past me.

Thurs 7 January 2016 Dinner: toasted rye bread with avocado, chili flakes and sliced tomato.

Wed 6 January 2016 Pasta with roast tomatoes, marinated goat cheese, herbs from the garden.

Tues 5 January 2016 Still sick; came home from work, lay down on the bed, and slept until 1 am, at which point I got up, brushed my teeth, and went back to bed. No dinner.

Mon 4 January 2016 For dinner, made a variant of this salad of potato, chorizo and spring greens. It’s past asparagus season, and we weren’t hungry enough for eggs as well as chorizo, so we just had a base of rocket, chives, baby basil and mint leaves from the garden, with peas, sauteed batons of zucchini, kipflers and chorizo. Good – though next time I would chop and steam the potatoes rather than boiling.

Sun 3 January 2016 Well, how horrified am I to have taken a look at the two(!) days’ worth of eating notes I wrote last year, and to see that at the beginning of January 2015 I was getting over a bad lung infection and starting in on loads of fermented foods. Deja hella vu. I hate my lungs sometimes. But I also know that I am getting sick a lot at the moment because I’m not letting go of work, and getting to stressed about things.

So, I have set up various reminders on my computer and phone to leave work at reasonable times, and have lunch with friends rather than at my desk, and do swimming and yoga and so on. And I’m necking kefir and whipping up more kimchi and lactofermented vegetables in anticipation of being prescribed more antibiotics at the doctors tomorrow.

Today I made a radish kimchi and a turnip kimchi. I’ve also got some wombok and tomorrow will make it into either my normal kimchi (Zoe’s recipe) or perhaps try something different like this one.

I also put together lunches to take to work Monday and Tuesday, out of bits and pieces in the fridge: red quinoa tossed with chives, parsley and dill with a little crumbled feta; roast Roma tomatoes; corn cut from the cob and seared, then mixed with mint, chili flakes and lime juice; and some hot-smoked salmon.

And amongst all this I made myself a little dinner while Ted was out eating Peking duck with the lab (I stayed home to cough and ferment vegetables): a handful of cooked brown rice, finely sliced cabbage and a couple of chopped scallions, all seared together in the cast-iron skillet, then removed from the heat and tossed with black sesame seeds, a dash of fish sauce, and some bottled kimchi I bought to tide me over until mine is ready. Sunny-side up fried egg on top, plus a final drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Fab.