Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Tasmanian Christmas

I didn't have a "traditional" Christmas feast until I was 16 and went to my now late Aunt's and my cousin's home in Sydney. Every Christmas time before that had been in Hobart with my mum and siblings. My mum and her sisters had grown up in Papua New Guinea, and mum loved feeding us tropical foods when summer time came around. Pan fried fish and banana with a mango sauce, mountains of mangoes, fresh coconuts, lychees, paw paw, pineapple, and many more foods.
Her idea of a special Christmas feast was to give us all a glass platter filled with tropical fruits to graze on throughout the day- with occasional other types of food. It's kind of funny considering the amount of times the rain had been lashing down onto the windows on Christmas day, and there we were with our platters of sunshine. Others times it was hot enough to laze around outside.
So, it's at this year that my taste buds start desiring tropical foods, to go along with the hot sun and occasional humid day.
I do miss those "Tropical -Tasmanian -Christmas" times, and have experienced many a traditional Christmas since moving out of home...and yet if I don't see any of the fruits mum would give me, it just feels like something is missing.
So if you have me over at your home over the Christmas season, and you see me looking longingly at a mango in your fruit bowl, please just let me eat it so that I can feel like I'm home again- even if it is just for a few moments.

A Fragrant Chicken Curry For a Cold Day

After making curries for 12 years, I took a break of making them for the last two years. So I was surprised when I craved one this week.
I went down to my local Indian shop, and felt a little shy just before going in- I felt as if I was visiting an old friend who I hadn't seen for a long time.
My eyes scanned the once familiar spices and packages and I bought what I needed: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, ground tumeric, curry leaves, coconut milk, naan bread and basmati rice Back home I added fresh ginger, onion, garlic, chilli and fresh chicken to my small pile.
Crushing the seeds in my mortar and pestle, their freshly broken aroma was quickly released into my tiny kitchen.
After browning the chicken pieces, I then used the pan to heat up the crushed seeds, added the diced onion and grated ginger and tumeric and garlic. I poured in the tomato and coconut milk, curry leaves and finally the chicken. The colour was so vibrant.
The heady scent of the spices and the sweetness of the coconut milk filled my apartment which made me warm as the spring dusk was cooling down outside.
Sitting down to eat this dish, I found it to be refreshing, fragrant and light. Both my taste buds and belly were satisfied.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Younger Sister's Wedding

I arrived in Sydney with four hours sleep on a muggy hot Friday morning- with my cookbook tucked safely into my weekend bag.
My sister picked me up and we ran some last minute errands and went back to our older sisters home, which was looking like a chaotic scene from the TV show “Packed To The Rafters”, with my older sister and her husband and their two tiny boys, my mum, my younger sister and I all squashed into the home and having a million things to do.
My two sisters and I got organised in the kitchen to begin the wedding food preparation. First to be made was the Spanish tortilla. We shared the chopping and cooking of the egg, capsicum, onion, garlic, chorizo and potato. It was then popped into the oven to cook. After dinner, I then made Sushi squares of rice, nori, pickled ginger, cucumber, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. That was left overnight with board on it to keep it in a firm flat shape. Next was cooking the spiced prawn pappadums. I cooked the pappadums in the microwave- one of the few reasons I use one! After that I prepared the prawns and made their marinade of tandoori paste, yoghurt, lime zest and coriander leaves.
The next morning I sliced up the tortilla into squares, and also the sushi.
I then made candied tomatoes by making a sugar candy in a small pot and dipping the cherry tomatoes in, one at a time. I had them cool for a few minutes and placed them onto individual basil leaves.
After the wedding ceremony on the beach, I placed the prawn mixture onto the pappadums and sprinkled some coriander leaves on top before serving.

Green Spring Dinner

I was tired and uninspired but had to eat and too tired to go to the shops for ingredients for what was really on my mind.
I opened the fridge and there was some home made pesto, hmmm that’s always a good start! Rummage, rummage, oh some fresh baby spinach leaves, oh look some Granny Smith apples and fresh goats cheese- still unopened for a moment such as this:)
I put the spaghetti on to boil and made a simple salad of spinach leaves, grated apple and dollops of cheese. To finish it off I drizzled a little bit of extra virgin olive onto it and served it along side my pesto covered spaghetti.