So after all the excitement of tennis and tasty food in Melbourne, this week has been a bit, well boring. Boring can be good. We’ve been back to our normal routine this week (except for The Runner working ridiculously late nights and having a birthday on the horizon), but we’ve mostly been eating at home and cooking at home too.
Wednesday, January 27th– Martha Stewart’s Mussels with Corn, Cherry Tomatoes and Tarragon. I rarely if ever make mussels. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I hate the disappointment of having to throw away unopened mussels. It’s so frustrating when you have a pot of delicious mussels but can’t eat them all, so I tend to avoid making them. I would normally say that this will be one of two times that I make mussels this year, but of course, now that I say this, I’ll probably start making them a lot more this year. It’s like the opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy (a self-defeating prophecy?) Anyway, the point is that I rarely make mussels even though they’re easy, tasty and I like them. I’m pretty sure dinner was ready within 20 minutes, which is always a win. My Le Creuset Dutch Oven was the absolute perfect pot for them as well, however there were still a few that didn’t open which was a bit of a downer. Oh well, such is life. We enjoyed a 2014 Ballabourneen Semillon from the Hunter Valley, it went really well.
Thursday, January 28th– Steph’s Mixed Pasta Bolognese, Garlic Bread and Salad with Tintilla Tarantella. Is there anything better than Spaghetti Bolognese? I don’t think so. My Dad used to make amazing spaghetti with meat sauce on the weekends, there was no recipe and it was probably one of the only dishes he could actually make, but it was delicious. In the US, it’s called Spaghetti with meat sauce, in Italy they call it Ragu and it Australia, we know it as Bolognese. Every cook has their variation or special twist on how it is done. Red Wine, Milk, Herbs, Sugar, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots- you name it and I’ve seen it used. I have my own special touches and secret ingredients. This one was made with a blend of pork, beef and veal mince cooked with red wine and whatever herbs I could get my little mitts on. It was mixed pasta because we had a few different half boxes of pasta in the pantry so I chucked them all in and voila! Dinner! It was so good we had it on the 29th as well! I’d give you a recipe but I’m sure you have your own!
Saturday, January 30th– We went to Bills for brunch with one of my friends from high school who was over in Sydney. It was such a treat to have a visitor and Bills is somewhere that I highly recommend to locals and visitors alike. I LOVE Bill Granger and his eponymous restaurants. They are Sydney institutions and well worth a visit if you’re in Sydney. It is one of my favorite places to take visitors- I actually just use it as an excuse to go there myself. My favorite is the Surry Hills branch on Crown Street, Bondi is just a bit too Bondi for me, and the original Darlinghurst branch a bit too small. Apparently Bills has now expanded internationally- Tokyo, London, Seoul, and Hawaii, however for me, Bills will always be a quintessentially Sydney place. The food is fresh, uncomplicated and unapologetically delicious. His recipes are easy to make at home as well- I should know I have all 11(!) of his cookbooks (my favorite is Bills food or Bills Open Kitchen). Bills didn’t disappoint, I had a delicious burger and The Runner had a chicken salad sandwich.
Sunday, January 31st– Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing, BBQ Corn and Pickleback Coleslaw from Donna Hay Magazine #85- After receiving the cookbook, Fried Chicken & Friends for Christmas, I had been dying to make Fried Chicken. I was super excited to make it last week, so I took the cookbook off the shelf and was all geared up for my fried chicken extravaganza. The book, written by the team behind Hartsyard in Enmore, has two fantastic recipes for fried chicken and having been to the restaurant, I was excited to try to recreate their chickeny goodness at home. This is where forward planning comes in handy. Yes, there are two recipes for fried chicken- One of them takes 2 days to make- yes, two human days (48 hours) and the other (the quick version) takes 3-4 hours. This posed a small problem to my fried chicken plans. I didn’t really have 4 hours to spend making chicken magic happen, and I definitely didn’t have 48 hours. So I had to switch to Plan B- the most recent issue of Donna Hay- it still took two hours to make including refrigeration and frying time. The frying was the most difficult part, the first batch was amazing, but as my patience waned and the oil cooled, the results after the first batch weren’t quite as amazing as I had hoped. I think for next time I will put away my fear of burning the house down and just keep the oil on high. Or perhaps buy a Deep Fryer- what, who said that!?! An ice cream maker is first in line of the next useless/useful kitchen appliance I buy! Wait your turn, Deep Fryer! We’ll see, my quest for amazing fried chicken at home is only just starting!
Tuesday, February 2nd– Smitten Kitchen’s Lemon, Asparagus and goats cheese pasta with Tintilla Angus Semillon 2013. The wine was better than the food. That’s all I really need to say about this one. I LOVE the Smitten Kitchen blog but it was only meh. There are 365 days in a year, it can’t be Christmas every day.
Wednesday, February 3rd– Spoon Fork Bacon’s Sweet Corn Gazpacho. Spoon Fork Bacon, is a blog that I’ve recently started to pay more attention to, and with Sydney heading into the hottest, most humid part of the year, Gazpacho is suddenly on my radar. Seriously, it’s hot and humid and we don’t have air conditioning so gazpacho is a fantastic summer dish! There’s no cooking and with a food processor/ blender, there’s no real effort required either, just drop everything in, turn it on for a minute and pour into a bowl. I had never made a sweet corn one before, but it was fantastic! It was really flavourful and refreshing as well. Plus, I love sweet corn (or just plain corn for the non-Australians out there!) Easy to make + not standing near a hot stove or oven = winner!
Thursday, February 4th– Steak with Cos salad with buttermilk blue cheese dressing and kimchi potatoes with spring onions (Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine) with Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Red 2013. Where do I even start with this? So, The Runner can be a harsh marker at times but often his stinging criticism is both valid and fair. If he were an Olympic judge, he would be the one who gives out 9.9s but never 10.0 just out of principle. Readers, hold onto your hats, because he gave this dinner a 9.9999999999999999. His face lit up as he tasted each bite and my little heart sang with delight. I was onto a winner! The steak got a compliment, the salad got a compliment, the wine was complimented (I can’t take credit for that) but the crowning glory- the Kimchi potatoes were named “the best potatoes I’ve ever made”. That is a BIG call…. But pretty accurate if I do say so myself. I’ve made hundreds of potato side dishes in the last 7 years, but for these to win the title of “best ever”…Wow. Just Wow. I’m not going to lie, I nearly shed a tear and punched the air. I secretly high fived myself, patted myself on the back and gave myself a hug all at the same time. Do yourself a favour and make these. Right now. They weren’t difficult to make, there is more deep frying involved, but seriously, they were exceptional. The kimchi (which is Korean Pickled vegetables) really balanced out the potatoes and the kewpie mayonnaise. These are definitely going into a more regular rotation from now on!
So that was our week in food last week, The Runner’s birthday is today so stay tuned for next week’s post all about his birthday dinners including homemade cake!