Tag Archives: flatting

Potage parmentier; cocktaile; croissant

It’s true you can’t live here by chance,
you have to do and be, not simply watch
or even describe. This is the city of action,
the world headquarters of the verb –
~ Lauris Edmond, quote inscribed on a plaque at Civic Square, Wellington, New Zealand

I didn’t mean to cook potage parmentier tonight. I had marched in to New World with Nish after we’d had a quick lunch in between work, picking up ingredients for an intended dinner attempt of ratatouille. Sometime between bagging the eggplants and tomatoes, I realised how much it would all cost (and let out an involuntary gasp). So much for knowing what’s in season and getting that – I have tons to learn yet!

I returned the royally-priced vegetables to their respective bins, then bagged leeks, potatoes, garlic – and later googled Julia Child’s recipe for potage parmentier.

If I was stressed at work and tired on the way home, I forgot about it when I hobbled into my flat, washed my hands and got to work. Essentially, I used Julia Child’s recipe except I measured out my ingredients by visual approximation, used hot water at the start, added in fried diced onion and chopped garlic, and added diced carrot. I even followed her instructions to mash the vegetables with a fork at the end – it felt like the right thing to do…

I have to admit it did not smell wonderful whilst it was cooking (the leeks are to blame for this), and was not very pretty at the end (though this is probably more my fault than Julia Child’s!) – Matt needed plenty of gentle persuasion to let it into his mouth; but hey, the taste, I think, made up for it. The soup itself – just onions, garlic, leeks, potatoes, water, salt, a dribble of cream, a sprig of parsley – takes a little time as most good things do, but it is wonderfully simple and satisfying. We had a generous serving of soup each, with crusty baguette slices.

A quiet evening with my 2 other flatmates out; Matt cleaned the house and we went grocery shopping after dinner, and then… I was in for a pleasant surprise at home – dessert! Matt prepared calypso coffee and croissants with banana & jam – delicious! I learned the method of pouring cream on to the back of a spoon to keep the cream in a neat little layer at the top of the glass too (see above).

We are now flopped on the couch like dehydrated frogs, I am just listening to Norah Jones and feeling very sleepy…

PS. Today, I tried bread with peanut butter & maple syrup for fun – well, I really tried this because (true story) – I was too lazy to take jam out from the fridge. Experiment paid off though, I feel; it was quite nice!

Time for a shower. Ciao!


Berry nice indeed

To invite someone is to take charge of his happiness during the time he spends under your roof.
~ Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Lizzie arrived yesterday afternoon to visit! She is golden-haired with twinkling eyes and a pure heart to rival Snow White’s. She has a wonderful way of drawing you out of your shell into who you are, and talking to her reminds me of what it feels like to bask in sunshine. She also makes me laugh – alot! – (in a good way, Lizzie, if you are reading this!)

We took a trip to Moore Wilsons in the rain to look at what to buy for dinner. As we studied baby beetroots, lemon verbena, the many types of olives, huge moon-sized (seemingly) blocks of cheese – I was drawn into a world just beneath the world we live in. A delicious world of memories, recipes, family habits/traditions, allergies (yes really!), etc… all this came forth as we conversed, remembered, thought about what would go well with what.

Groceries duly purchased, we shared an umbrella in the now pouring rain, and made a beeline for gelato. The best thing you can have when it’s raining.

Along the way, skipping over puddles and sitting aboard a cramped busy bus, we caught up on our lives.

I had prepared the cheesecake earlier in the morning, from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#53 Berry Cheesecake – Page 272

(I LOVE peeking into the oven in the final minutes of baking… it is like opening presents on Christmas morning!)

Sunny came over in the evening to join us in dinner preparations. On the menu:

Gingered Carrot Soup with Avocado – recipe from Orangette (a fresh cold soup with a nice touch of creamy avocado, slips down your throat like a dream)

Salad with pan-fried basil chicken, nashi pears, feta, mixed greens topped with lemon and a warm dressing of olive oil, olives, capers, sundried tomatoes, garlic (simple, elegant and tasty)

Grilled bread

We bustled around whilst John and Matt sat on the couch, trying to watch TV amidst the growing noise and slightly delayed arrival of dinner – poor boys! (Of note were Sunny’s patience with our temperamental blender and Lizzie’s super plating skills!)

Chocolate, cheese, action

A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.
~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

It strikes me now that I fed my flatmates and guests an overbearing amount of chocolate and cheese for dinner tonight… oops!

The first thing I started working on late this afternoon was the chocolate crust bit of this recipe from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#52 Ricotta Tart with a Chocolate Crust – Page 331

It looks like a thin pizza here, but really, it isn’t. It’s a comfy cake tin lined with a deep chocolatey pastry bed encasing some silky citrusy cheese mix (pre-baking).

I like starting dinner preparations with Dessert leading the way.

Now, lest you begin to believe it turned out to be a perfect success, it wasn’t. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I didn’t have a food processor and beat it all by hand, but it refused to set properly even after an excessively long time in the oven. It eroded with startling ease when one of my flatmates accidentally dropped the cake tin too (the tin landed on its bum, thank God!) Here is the remains of the eroded tart depicted, after everyone had a wobbly scoop of it:

Taste-wise, though, what can I say? You can hardly go wrong with the good flavours of ricotta, chocolate, lemon & orange juice and orange zest… ;-)

And this? No, it’s not a quirky dessert; it’s salad! Salad with arugula, feta, pistachio nuts, cranberry sprinkle, sliced almonds, plump dried apricots, onion, snow pea shoots, orange zest, and just for fun – chocolate bits (inspired by Molly Wizenberg’s book, “A Homemade Life”).

We also had filo parcels filled with chicken, apricots, brie, chutney, garlic, onions, cashew nuts, basil, parsley, salt & pepper… but I neglected to take photos of those.

I was a little sleepy as we sat in the lounge afterwards, so I missed out on quality engagement with the others… but it was an enjoyable night nevertheless and I’m glad everyone else got to see each other, eat, relax, spend time together. Super.

[edit] It is now Saturday morning, and I’ve just had a lovely surprise.

The ricotta tart has somehow improved greatly in taste and texture overnight (I just a small slice of it for breakfast). I’m not a fan of leftovers most of the time, but in making a few of Tessa’s desserts, I have been finding that they taste a million times better when they are given time to sit in the fridge or on the kitchen bench, depending on the dessert in question of course. [/edit]

In which Jono makes Kung Pao Chicken

You don’t sew with a fork, so I see no reason to eat with knitting needles.
~ Miss Piggy, on eating Chinese Food

This post is dedicated to Charlotte B. She’s a girl with a heart of gold and an intelligent mind, someone who knows how to have fun and who can make a stormy night smile. She is also Jono’s girlfriend (and Jono is the subject of this post. Well… to be exact, Jono and chicken are the main subjects.)

Jono is my cool flatmate, and he has a penchant for making Chinese food. Asian I may be, but he uses about 20 times more soy sauce than I do around here ;-)

Here are some of the chopped ingredients he used tonight:

I loved the sight of him in his apron buzzing around frying chicken, grating ginger, chopping up beans – almost like watching food TV live. (And, I don’t want to sound sexist here, but it’s also pretty exceptional witnessing 1. a guy cooking in an apron, and 2. enjoying himself in the kitchen!)

On the menu tonight was kung pao chicken on rice. Kung pao chicken, to my understanding, is a Szechuan dish originally comprised of seared chillies, peanuts, diced chicken, Shaoxing wine and peppercorns. I think we had a slightly westernised version which was not spicy and did not have Shaoxing wine… still good though!

Prego Rolls

Wine is bottled poetry.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

It started off like a lyrical poem… a bath of red wine, lightly smashed garlic, rosemary (I used dried instead of fresh, to help lower this week’s grocery bills!). It smelled like – hmm, I don’t know, romance? Music? Something wonderful, anyway… I slipped the beef rump steak pieces in to marinade for awhile.

Recipe from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#37 Prego Rolls – Page 232

This was relatively easy to cook, and I served it with a salad, lemon wedge and a little chilli oil (see previous post for the latter).

Sadly… the chilli oil was not well-bodied (being given too little time to mature), the bread became a soft gluten-ey wine-soaked rag, the beef was too rare and had to be re-cooked, etc… oh what would I do without kind flatmates to make it better (and smilingly eat my cooking even when it’s terrible)!

Sigh! It was a fun experience cooking it nevertheless.

Even though I will probably not try making this again anytime soon.

Like a sack of gold…

If rich food can kill, people live dangerously here.
~ Alice Furland

… rich food galore tonight in the Treehouse, with Matt, Jono and honorary flattie Ms Char :-)

From Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#34 Carrot Cake – page 259 (which Matt is taking to work, thankfully)
#35 Pan-Fried Veal Chops with Lemon, Sage & Mascarpone – page 315

Matt taught me how to ‘chop’ walnuts today: with a wooden ladle? Looked like fun too…

Carrot rain.

Getting ready to cook the ‘veal chops’ (ok, they are actually lamb chops because veal was nowhere to be found at Moore Wilson’s)

Rich, rich sauce…

Finished products:

A simple salad of carrot, capsicum, mesclun, lemon, mint
Brownies from Orangette: see ‘Best-Ever Brownies’ (mix pictured near the top of this post)

I’m a little lacking in prose tonight, the day has gone by so quickly… I am sleepy… goodnight…

Oh! Before I forget!…… 1. Thanks Matt for cooking some of the time with me! and 2. Last day of ‘Revolt of the Mannequins’… the dear ones escaped!

Alright, goodnight for real now. Au revoir.

Ugly Apple Cake

You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car.
~ Harvey Diamond

It’s often been said that women can multitask well. I can tell you now (pardon the pun), multitasking for this woman here is FAR from a piece of cake… this evening, whilst baking a cake and chatting on the phone with my friend Mandy I scored a flour bath, a sore neck and an ugly cake in the process!

To be fair though, it is highly possible that I could’ve somehow accomplished all the above three things even if I weren’t on the phone. :-/

But hey, it all worked out in the end.

The cake in question was birthed from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#33 Apple cake with toffee topping – Page 269

It involved filling a cake tin with a bed of apple slices and pouring on top of this a smooth batter of soft butter, sugar, milk, vanilla and all – a batter akin to the filling of the most delicious cream puffs your mind can imagine now… it was a sweet, relaxing process…

I had to bake it for 20 minutes more than the book said to do, with foil on top, because when I first took it out it was brown on the top and totally uncooked inside.

*The fork marks you see are the result of my getting carried away with confirming that the cake was uncooked inside when I first took it out.

So after nearly burning my fingers off while covering the cake tin with foil and shoving the brown and uncooked cake back into the oven, and waiting 20 whole minutes…… it was UGLY when I flipped it on to a plate! Look! Argh!!! Look! (Poor Flatmate Jono was here to listen to my argh-ing)… How dare it be ugly!

I also didn’t do the toffee topping, because I was too tired to take a 30-minute walk down to the supermarket to buy the cream we didn’t have. In its place, I sprinkled some muscovado sugar on the top… and in time I collected myself and saved two more presentable slices for my colleague (who inspired my cake-baking tonight in the first place).

Jono and I also ate some sweet moist apple cake with caramel ice cream… so all is well… and now it’s time to do the reading I meant to do about three hours ago. Bonne nuit!