Photoessay: Dunedin Farmers Market

I’m having a break from editioning the first print of my Otakou Press residency in Dunedin and thought I’d share with you foodies the lovely market here. I heard about it from another blogger before I left Australia and made a vow to have breakfast there every Saturday morning to escape from college food. It’s a vow I’ll stick to faithfully! I also wish that I had the facility to cook the occasional meal for myself, because the produce is just so nice. My family are coming over at the end of my residency, so before we start travelling, we’ll stock up on cheeses, fruit and salami, etc to make our own lunches as we tour.

They also have a mobile classroom that teaches a new dish every week. A good idea for the Canberra market!

This was my first course: a fresh hot and enormous dumpling stuffed with roast pork, cabbage and vermicelli noodles.

And this was dessert: a fresh crepe filled with home-made pear and rhubarb jam. Mmmmm…

After that, I was  completely visually and physically satiated, so I went for a big walk and caught this view just before the skies opened and gushed down for the rest of the day.

Live blogging the after-party party

[By Ampersand Duck] Aloha from chez PDP, where Jethro is mushing up tinned tomatoes in the tin with a bread & butter knife whilst yelling like a ninja, Zoe is explaining how hard the Bhutanese neighbours can party to my lovely brother-in-law (S) who has been to Bhutan and loves it, all the other kids are battling at deafness level in the loungeroom, Best Beloved and Dr Sista Outlaw are quietly and tired-ly drinking their way through some of the Studio Warming leftover booze, and Owen is supervising the Pudding-Off boiling on a couple of gas burners in the front yard.

We are all high from a great afternoon, where I did not much more than stand and talk to most of the guests (I missed some, or pretty much anyone who didn’t push in and make themselves known)and take lots of kind and gushy compliments — but I was only able to do this because of this fabulous bunch of people. They cooked, chopped, plated (!), laid out glasses, poured, cleaned, washed and picked up. I’ve never been in the position to need that sort of back-up, and I can see how it could be pretty addictive [Naomi, aka Dr Sista Outlaw, requested that I mention that Underground Lovers are on in the background. Wow, so they are. The layers of sound in this room are amazing.]; I’m jealous of people who have agents and managers.

We are going to celebrate a successful celebration by eating. My initial thought was to go to a restaurant, since I thought everyone would be sick of kitchenwork, but generous Zoe wants to feed us all, so she’s whipping up a quick bacon & tomato pasta for the kids, and we’re having a mushroom and truffle risotto (she made me smell fresh truffle at the markets this morning… OMG). But we can’t eat too much because we have not one, not two but THREE full-size Christmas puddings to taste and discuss… three versions of the same pudding, cooked by BB, Naomi and Zoe, and the differences and quality will be taken very seriously.

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Duckie’s Mount Yum

[for meat-eaters, but can be converted to vegetarian]

In my (reasonably broad) experience of men, each likes to have their Signature Dish, a culinary piece that they’ve stumbled upon or invented (or mother used to make) and have tweaked to make it utterly Theirs. It is carried with them through the years, brought out to impress the chicks, and then served to the family proudly over the years and passed down from father to son etc etc… ok, maybe that last bit’s an exaggeration, but most of it rings true, no?

Best Beloved is a enthusiastic but slightly nervous cook. He travels widely in the foodie universe, but never without a guidebook. This following dish is one of the very few things he will cook without a recipe; it is a family favourite, and went nameless until I decided to blog it, upon which Bumblebee decided that it should be called Mount Yum. Before this, it was always know as ‘your/my chicken/nut dish’.

To celebrate the fact that it is made without a recipe on the bench, I will not be providing ingredient quantities. You need to think about how much each person can eat and provide enough of everything to divide between the number of people eating. There’s no right or wrong; substitutions are not only welcome, but encouraged. There are endless possibilities. Best Beloved rarely strays from his favourite combination, but the other day we had no pine nuts and I persuaded him to use slivered almonds rather than popping down to the shop. Lo! It worked! (Sigh.)

Please excuse the crockery, we’re waiting for it all to break. If BB had known I was doing this before he started, he would have brought out his collection of 60s Poole pottery!

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Introducing Ampersand Duck

Ampersand Duck is a book lover, book maker, book designer, artist and letterpress printer. Her beautiful website is here and her personal blog here. She also writes for Sarsaparilla.

She is my dear friend and close neighbour – exactly the kind of person you want living around the corner. Although she is a very good cook, she sadly cannot hold her piss.

Ampersand Duck presents – Duck Souper

pasta-bookNothing like inviting people around for soup on a chill Autumnal evening. Knowing that you’ve invited foodies adds a bit of pressure, but I chose soups that had been tried and praised before, so the only pressure was to cook them well: Lamb Shank & Penne Soup, and Spinach & Dahl Soup.

The Lamb Shank soup comes from one of those generic newsagent cookbooks: the Family Circle Pasta & Noodles Book. I’ve been trying to remember when I got this, and whether I inherited it from my mother when she had a clean-out, or whether I bought it from a garage sale. It’s quite a dull book, but there’s a couple of winner recipes that I’ve discovered and treasured. This is one of them.
 

The Spinach & Dahl soup was bought as a packet mix of spices produced by a fab little family company called The Saucy Spice Co., based in Pambula on the Far South Coast of NSW. They peddle online, but also have a stall at the Canberra Bus Depot Markets every Sunday. I highly recommend their spice mixes. They buy fresh supplies, and their simple packages are always marked with a use-by date so that they are never stale (unless you stash them in the back of a cupboard and forget them).

They sell packages of spice mixes for specific recipes, and you provide the rest of the ingredients. The ingredients needed are listed on the label, but the actual recipe is inside the packet. Their curries and soups are superb. I can’t include the recipe for the Dahl soup here, mainly because they tell you which spices they’ve used, but not the quantities, so I encourage you to buy a packet or two of their wares and enjoy. The heat of each recipe is always indicated, and they have some fantastic mild recipes that kids will love. I highly recommend their Javanese Chicken, my son loves it.

The Dahl soup needed blending at the 2/3 point of cooking, and I’d given my stab blender away to my mother years ago, once I’d stopped making my own baby food. I just never seem to need one. So I asked Zoe to bring hers… talk about the awesome power of the blend! It had a life of its own, with scary suction action…

I forgot to take a photo of the finished soup on the night, but I managed to catch one of the bowls when we had leftovers a couple of nights later:

Yum! Coriander garnish, and we added yogurt on the leftover bowl (both of which, stupidly, I forgot to offer during the dinner party. Sorry guys.) There’s a drip on the bowl, too, for which you can mentally slap me on the wrist.

Now, the Lamb Shank Soup. I’ve been promising Zoe this recipe for years. Here it is.

PENNE, PEA AND LAMB SHANK SOUP

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour, 15 mins
Serves 6 (just)

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lamb shanks (about 1 kg), well trimmed of fat
2 medium onions, cut into strips
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 dried bayleaf (I used fresh)
4 cups water (I added more later)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup penne pasta
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh or frozen broad beans
1 clove garlic, crushed

1. Heat oil in pan. Add lamb, cook over high heat for about 3 minutes each side or until well browned. Remove from pan, drain on absorbent paper.

2. Add onions to pan, cook over medium heat for about 3 mins or until well browned.

(This browning of meat and onion is essential, because it dictates the colour of the soup. It becomes a lovely rich brown soup instead of a pale broth.)

2 (cont) Return lamb to pan, add wine, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, bay leaf and water; bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered, 1 hour or until lamb is tender.

3. Remove lamb from pan, discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick from stock. Add soy sauce and tomato paste to pan, stir until combined. Bring to boil, add pasta, simmer, covered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. meanwhile, cut lamb into bite-sized pieces; discard bones. Return lamb, peas and broad beans to pan, simmer, covered, a further 5 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Stir in crushed garlic just before serving.

Yum! I forgot to photograph this one before serving as well, so here is the cookbook version, followed by the result of happy eating: