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Someone mentioned pumpkin on mushroom caps and I had a food muse cascade and made all the things.

The mushrooms were simple but worked really well. A smear of pesto on the inside of a portobello mushroom cap, then stuffed with a mixture of steamed pumpkin and crushed hazelnuts. Top with a spray of olive oil, paprika and salt and grill. Win.

The polenta was cooked normally then had a generous amount of dijon mustard and honey stirred through it before being poured into a plastic container and put into the fridge to set into a rectangular block while I got on with messing about with pumpkin and hazelnuts. Smeared with a little sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds and a little salt before going into the oven on the same tray as the mushrooms. They developed a bit of a skin to the outside of them which was pretty much perfect for me. There was some really good texture to these.

A red capsicum got my usual charring trick before being arranged on the plate with rocket and feta and then getting a dressing of olive oil and an amazing raspberry infused vinegar that I was given a while back.
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Well that was interesting. There's no photo of this, nor should there be. This was one of the single least photogenic and more long-winded things I've ever made but I don't think that'll put me off having another go.

I made stock the other day. It probably doesn't matter too much what sort of vegetables go into the stock but for the record, this one had a lot of pumpkin, celery and fennel through it as well as quite a bit of spring onion so although the flavour was fairly delicate, it still had a definite character. I have no idea how much liquid risotto takes so I always always underestimate it. I put a bit over a litre of the stock into a saucepan and wrapped a couple of hundred grams of almond meal in a cloth with some freshly grated nutmeg, tied that closed and put that in the pan with the stock over a gentle heat, mooshing it about with a wooden spoon every so often.

Into my cast iron pot went some olive oil, two leeks, four cloves of garlic more grated nutmeg and some ground sage because I spotted it in the cupboard and it seemed like a good idea. I cooked that down until it was soft and swimming a bit in its own juices and added four portobello caps chopped small, a generous pout of balsalmic vinegar and a fairly random amount of brown rice. By that time the stock was nicely creamy so I removed the clothful of meal, squeezed it out and put it aside (in a jug in this case) and started ladling the stock in. One ladleful at a time stirred through and allowed to cook in until to no longer runs freely across the bottom of the pot if I clear a space with the wooden spoon. Yes, this takes a while, especially with brown rice but I wasn't in a hurry. By the time I was close to emptying the saucepan it was clear that I was going to need that much again so I put about another litre of stock in and returned the cloth to the pan as well. More ladling, more stirring. Near the end I just crumbled the wedge of blue cheese in, added the rest of the stock, stirred it into a gooey mess and let it sit on a very low heat for a while. I like this one a lot. The cheese was a bit over the top but I didn't mind that myself. Less would have been more balanced.

I ate the lot.
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No photo for this one although it wasn't the most photogenic thing I've ever made anyway.

Someone made mention of broccoli soup and with the weather just turning cool I sort of seized on it as a cosy idea. That may also explain the frankly ridiculous amount of dairy in this. Vegans should look away now.

This is what started my love of simmering spring onions in butter. Again, not sizzling, just a good sized slice off the long side of a block of butter in the bottom of my enormous Soup Pot of the Apocalypse™, barely melted and greedily absorbing the flavour of whatever you put in it. In this case, that was a good sized bunch of spring onions, garlic, thyme, marjoram, nutmeg and black pepper. Don't be too shy with the nutmeg. I let that go for quite a while. Them I gradually stirred in a litre (yes, I wound up just using the whole litre!) of milk a bit at a time so that it never wound up actually cold in the pot. As that simmered for a bit, a positively cheesy smell started to come up out of it. I mean that in a good way. From there it was just diced Pontiac potatoes and a chopped up head of broccoli simmered for ages and eventually made smooth with a stick blender.
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Sometimes this mood hits me. Like a lot of things I cook, there's a basic mental template and then I dance around it according to how I feel. This is the coconut cream enriched curry template.

So, as usual, spices warmed into oil. In this case it was cardamom, cumin, turmuric, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, fresh coriander, garlic and chilli with an onion sauteed in it, I added a package of frozen spinach, some cauliflower, steamed pumpkin and a mango because they were in the supermarket and shouted at me - that's what inspired me to cook this in the first place. I stirred through a can of coconut cream and let it simmer for a while. Coconut cream has a way of absorbing and transferring flavours into other foods so letting it go for a while is a good thing. I served it over basmati rice and put more uncooked coriander and flaked almonds that I toasted while the rest was simmering on top.
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Marinated olives, Montagnard des Vosges, camenbert, Shropshire blue, sourdough. Henney's Dry Cider. Utter indulgence.

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I almost passed this one by but on reflection it was actually good, if rather buttery food. (I do cook without butter sometimes, I promise)

The kipfler potatoes are cut in half lengthways and then sliced at about 5-6mm intervals but not quite all the way through so they remain as a piece. Rubbed butter all over them, covered with salt, rosemary and grana padana and onto a baking tray on a sheet of baking paper. The corn is simple wrapped in alfoil, leaving the husk in place. The whole lot goes into a medium oven for about 40 minutes. When it comes out the husk comes off the corn quite easily. Pepper and more butter because apparently I couldn't stop myself on this evening. The fresh green beans and snow peas were topped and tailed and steamed just to the point of being bright green but still very much crunchy and then quickly stirred through a pan with yet more butter, fresh garlic and a dribble of sesame oil. There wasn't actually a great deal of butter in the pan, once the greens were coated there was nothing left behind and the slightly browned garlic clung to the greens. I really liked this one as a slightly more enthusiastic version of my regular low effort roast tuber and corn dinner.
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This is really all about the bread. And the photo of omnomnoms.

So some of that is just plonked on a plate. I've done nothing with the bocconcini or the olives. The haloumi is just sliced and fried although anyone who's had it knows that there's no such thing as "just" fried haloumi. The rest of what's on the plate is some small home-grown tomatoes cut in half, some Swiss brown mushrooms, likewise just thrown into a pan with olive oil, black pepper, garlic and basil leaves, some of which were chopped fairly small but mostly torn into big pieces. I wound the heat up and waited until the garlic started to brown at which point it was all done. There's also one of my favourite things which is a red capsicum placed directly onto the gas hob until the skin is charred all over. I need to wind up the exhaust fan for this game or the smoke detector in the kitchen loses its shit completely. Once it's charred, let it sweat in a bag for a little while, After that the skin rubs off really easily if you run it under the tap. It gives the capsicum a wonderful smoky flavour and I love it either by itself, as it was here or as an ingredient in a dish.

The bread though...that was what I was really playing with here. I'd tried making herby bread and it was a bit tentative so I decided to try making it a bit more characterful. Basic bread is four parts flour to three parts water by weight, at least as far as mixing the dough to start with goes, so I put the requisite amount of water in a jug the night before, bruised a generous amount of basil and thyme and shoved it in the jug with a pinch of salt to steep. A day later, it looked like a swamp but smelt amazing. The water and flour was mixed up with another small pinch of salt, more fresh herbs (they were selling a packet of mixed fresh herbs at the supermarket that looked about right. Thyme, rosemary, sage and other things I can't remember) and a teaspoon of yeast and allowed to rise while I got on with shopping and otherwise faffing about. I'd ideally liked to have given this a couple of hours to rise but in the end it still worked out well. I kneaded it, divided it into four balls, put them onto a floured tray, let them rise just a little more and then into an oven at about 190° until they were brown and crusty and made bread smells. Butter for the bread, wine in the decanter. Decadent, slightly over-generous dinner for two.
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Ok, so people have asked me to blog the food I cook. I suspect that it's going to be more repetitive than people think but I like the idea that I have this as a record so that I can go back and take a look for my own reference later. At this point I'm scrolling backwards through Facebook and extracting all my food porn posts with a decent description and embellishing them slightly. Future cooking adventures might be better documented. Don't expect quantities of anything, I don't cook that way. I'll used the tag "foodporn" because I've already used the tag "food" and can't remember what's in there.

Ok, so barley pottage. Thanks to the lovely Steph for documenting the lunchpack I gave her because otherwise there'd be no photo for this entry. As it is, we have this:

This was partly inspired by a soup I made recently. It started with a bunch of spring onions and a small brown onion chopped small with a generous amount of garlic, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, oregano and sage all swooshed around in melted butter until it made smells. Really quite epic smells. This is a fairly typical mix for a lot of things I make – there will be repetition in a few of these posts. The thing with this, as with the soup is that it’s not sizzling, it’s warmed just enough to the butter to melt. Once it’s infused through and thoroughly aromatic with the onions getting translucent, you can throw in some chopped mushrooms – I used Swiss brown here but I also love portobellos in the same place, and then wind the heat up so the butter and onion just start to brown. At that point I poured in some red wine to deglaze (get the not-quite burnt bits off the bottom of the pot) and then toss in sun-dried tomatoes, silverbeet, veggie stock and rather a lot of pearl barley. Sub out olive oil for the butter and you’ll lose a little of the nuttiness but gain a little sharp fruitiness and it’ll be vegan. The stock in this case had inadvertent jalapeno offcuts as part of its contents and so this had a notable bite. It’ll work nicely with or without added chilli.


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April 2017

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