Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Kitchen

The weather in Sydney has been really terrible for the last 2 weeks. It was alternating between rain and grey skies, slipped with misleading blue skies. Considering that December is fast approaching, the climate is nothing like the typical Australian summer. Grey skies make me want to cook and what better opportunity to experiment with a willing volunteer of an old friend from Brisbane.

Kormala and I met in first year Chemistry courses back in our undergraduate days in UQ . It was the first practical class where the task was to extract caffeine from instant coffee and the bond that we formed while sneezing on pure (to an extent) anhydrous caffeine lasted to now; she has since been a close confindant. It's so fantastic to have her close again in Sydney. She always complained that I never cooked for her and so I thought our Saturday afternoon meet up would be the perfect opportunity for her to sample and criticize my culinary obsession.
I made simple dinner rolls (and some other breads) and taking on the advice published in Dan Lepard's baking tips, in particular that from #16 from Eric Kayser, I let my dough ferment for a bit longer that I usually did. It worked so much wonder and I'm so pleased (as was dinner my guest).
I made a very simple and a never fail recipe of prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and decorated with cracked sea salt, pepper and dried chilli. You only need to grill it for a good 10-15 minutes and voila, it's a simple crowd pleaser. You could substitute the prosciutto for beef products if pork product is against your dietary requirement.
As for the mains, I have made a very-very simple spaghetti dish with porcini mushroom that I got from the farmers market in my area. The porcini came in dried form and all you need to do is to soak them in boiling water until the mushroom is plump. I heated some olive oil in the pan with some chilli and organic purple garlic (also from the farmer's market) and in went the mushroom. Toss in the spaghetti (cooked in boiling salted water) and add some cracked sea salt and a generous sprinkle of pepper. This turned out really well too and I'm so pleased with it.
Last but not least is the repertoire-concluding dish of potato gratin with my new experimental sauce. Admitedly, it wasn't only the sauce that I experimented with. I added some left over carrot that threatened expiring within the next few days, finely sliced, following the tips published in Dan Lepard's site: "En cuisine on ne jette rien," which happens to be my mother's life philosophy (actually she never throws anything out whether in and out of the kitchen, she's a pathological recycler :P).

After tasting, I was rewarded by a pleasant "Oui!"
Patience is indeed a virtue. :)

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