Budino di riso –

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Rice pudding reminds me of winter. Mums version is topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, wobbly custard top, dense eggy rice bottom. Not gourmet in the least, but reminiscent of a big warm hug. Maurizio Terzini’s Budino di riso, from his book Something Italian, is a like a hug from someone more refined.

And a big warm hug is necessary, in winter. I know, I can’t complain about Sydney winters, where it barely gets cold enough to really be cold, but we have no heating infrastructure. By we, I mean Australians in general, but more specifically our household. The cold here is counteracted by doonas, hugs, extra layers, and when it is really frosty, a hot water bottle. And of course, rich hearty stews, spicy curries and rice pudding like a warm hug. That is really what gets me through the winter (that and the essential thermal underwear).

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I made this dish on a whim, and highly recommend it. Easy, if you ignore the pedantry of the original recipe, as I did. Gentle, sweet, nutty and filling, just as a winter dessert should be. And because i don’t know how to leave well enough alone, I tweaked a few things and straightened some others out.

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Cardamom and attempting to overcome inertia.

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I’m trying to get a good post together, but forces seem to be against me (dancing til 3am and crazy hair antics, mostly). An unplanned stop at Din Tai Fung on Friday night (mostly underwhelming) reminded me of my love of garlicy water spinach (on which I have already blogged) so that will be my dinner this evening.

Last weekend I bought some beautiful cardamom pods, but haven’t successfully used them yet – I think I need to give up on cakes until we move, the oven is just not up to it.

Instead, while I tweak the ingredients and alter the levels, I will just leave you with this appetiser (above).

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Step back in time, Beef Bourguignon.

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Decadent, meaty, rich dishes don’t normally come from my frugal kitchen. These dishes are reserved for special occasions, for meals eaten out, or as a treat.

Recently, however, food safari (along with Guillaume Brahimi, of Guillaume at Bennelong fame) convinced me that taking a step back in time (oh, the mp3 playlist at work is terrible) and making a meaty, rich and decadent Beef Bourguignon was the right thing to do. And in this freezing weather, there is nothing better than a house smelling sweetly of homeliness, and a steaming bowl of hearty winter fare while snuggling under a blanket and watching bad Sunday night teevee. The soft encouragement whispering from F. during the meal enforced that I had done a good thing – and how could cooking up a whole bunch of meats in wine with eschallots and mushrooms not be a good thing?

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Dulche de Leche – Jumping on the bandwagon, again

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In Australia we are somewhat shielded from the joys of latin culture. Sydney doesn’t have an expansive ‘Latin American’ town (oh, though I wish it did) and there is much media about the woeful quality of Mexican food here. We are just too far away.

So, yay for the internet, I get to read and learn about taco’s, plantains and dulche de leche.

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Caramel Slice was a big part of my more junior cooking education. I hated the grainy cloyingly sweet caramel and milk chocolate combinations that my contemporaries fawned over. I wanted thick, golden condensed milk caramel paired with dark chocolate. Mum would never let me boil the can for fear of explosion, so my caramel slice caramel was a mix of condensed milk, butter and brown sugar and was cooked on the stovetop til luscious and excruciatingly painfully hot – but that is another story.

I had seen and read the Dulche de Leche trend sweeping the internet and didn’t pay much attention until I realised just what it was – and how easy it is to make. I used the David Lebovitz oven technique and cooked mine a little less – see my pie pan (is from the 1970’s and) is brown glass, so it was difficult to see the exact shade – but it was wonderful nonetheless.

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But, I couldn’t eat this entire jar with a spoon (oh, though it was appealing), I decided to jump on the internet trend even more, and make some brownies.

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I changed the recipe though – mostly due to my depleted pantry, and came out with rich dark brownie, punctuated by unctuously smooth and at times chewy sweet sweet caramel.¬† The almonds seem a little over the top, next time¬† I will leave it to the dark chocolate and sweet caramel to speak for themselves. Continue reading »

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Faheem Fast Food – Bright Lights, Pakistani food.

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Faheem Fast Food, bright lights, squished in tables, ‘Australia’s funniest home videos’ on the teevee. All of these things draw immediate attention, but one thing overshadows all these detractions/distractions. The Tandoor In The Window grabs and holds me.

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The real life tandoor, blackened and sizzling churns out crispy, chewy and awesome naan breads, tandoori chicken charred around the edges, but tender and juicy in the centre. The smoky, earthy flavour that this style of cooking imparts is difficult, if not impossible to replicate and is difficult to find in my neighbourhood.

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The joy and beauty of this late night Pakistani curry joint is not in the curries, which aren’t mindblowingly good or even good value, but in the dishes cooked in the tandoor. The naan and chicken are so good, that we keep returning, despite the average curry and the stringent ‘no alcohol’ rule (FFF is 100% halal).

Next time, I will order the Garlic Chicken, or Lemon Chicken – but both will be from the Tandoor.

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Faheem Fast Food
196 Enmore Road, Enmore.

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