Thursday, 28 May 2009

Sunday 22 July 2008: Liquorice all-sorts

It’s been a while since I’ve update this secret diary, not for lack of cooking on Sarah’s part, or lack of eating on either of our part, but due to my own inherent laziness. This weekend was a bit of a messy one and I was feeling a bit under the weather, nursing my self-inflicted physical and mental wounds on the couch, while Sarah was toiling away in the kitchen (I still feel kinda bad about that). I don’t know how she did it because she couldn’t have been feeling much better than I did. Anyways, she came up with something really good.
Now, I like a fat juicy steak as much as most South Africans (or Australians for that matter), and wouldn’t naturally flick to the vegetarian section of a menu, but this veg meal was awesome. In my torrid state, my only job was to mash potatoes (which I messed up wholeheartedly – the mash was more like milky porridge peppered with olive-size cancer tumours). Sarah, on the other hand, totally outdid herself. She hollowed out some eggplants (the skinny, long Vietnamese kind, not the fatter Western variety) and then mixed up and fried some chopped onions, tomatoes, capsicum, pine nuts (yum), garlic, fresh coriander and the innards of the eggplants and laid it out nicely inside the skin. Supposedly you’re suppose to use parmesan, which we didn’t have, so Sarah substituted it with cheddar, which was grated, sprinkled over the top and baked in the oven. When it came out, it looked so good, really visually appealing with the different colours and the layering inside the eggplant skin. It was also super tasty, exactly what I needed in my degraded state of being. The best part was that we also got to eat it again the next day!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Tuesday 3 June 2008: Pasta Amatriciana ala Sarah

I play football on Tuesday nights so I come home pretty late and pretty exhausted, so it’s awesome when I see Sarah and she’s cooked up something super ngon (delish – this is actually more of a mental note when I reread this in years to come and can’t remember any of the Vietnamese phrases I’ve learnt). Well, this Tuesday was no different. Pasta Amatriciana ala Sarah. Awesome tricolore pasta again, with bacon, shitake mushrooms, which, even though Sarah had her doubts, turned out to work just fine in this Italian dish – and a whole bag for only 20 0000 vnd! Lots of fresh tomatoes, mixed herbs and pitted olives, and some grated cheese to finish it off. This was so good with a nice green salad of capsicum, tomatoes, lettuce and capers drizzled with some balsamic vinegar. The special thing about this meal was that Sarah cooked it all out of her head and knew what to add from her own experience, which as she says, is how really good cooks do it. They just know what goes with what and what goes in when. Our gastronomic future, my friends, looks as shiny as a cooked, glazed leg of ham.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Sunday 1 June 2008: Marinated Chicken drumsticks and fried rice.

This was another first. It was an experimental recipe which Sarah adapted from Ina Paarman’s book my mom got her and fried rice her friend Bich showed her how to cook. The chicken should be marinated hours (preferably a day, I guess) before the time in soy sauce, honey, garlic and some other stuff I can’t remember. The honey makes it nice and sticky so when it gets cooked in the oven it creates a great glaze that causes you to reflexively lick your fingers off after every bite. The fried rice is another awesome concoction. Sarah boils some normal rice, and at the same time boils some frozen veggies – your standard peas and carrots mix, and fries a bunch of garlic and some other stuff. Traditionally you’re supposed to add some Chinese sausage but we had the chicken so Sarah went veg this time. When it’s all cooked you throw it together with nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) and soy sauce and fry in a pan. Also, as we did two nights later with the leftovers, you can fry an egg for a Vietnamese stodge meal. Anyways, no egg this time as the gas decided to run out just before frying! Luckily everything was still hot and the chicken was ready so Sarah just mixed it up the fried rice served with the sticky drumsticks and we had a killer meal. We did manage to get another gas canister delivered after what sounded like a ridiculous conversation in Vietnamese between Sarah and the gasman (turns out “gas” is not “gaz” in Vietnamese as I previously thought.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Monday 26 May 2008: Tuna Cheese ‘n Pasta

I’m like a kid on Christmas when it comes to this one. Sarah doesn’t often cook it anymore due to the unhealthy intake of white sauce, pasta and well, more white sauce, but when she does I push the veggies aside and gobble it down like a Jew in a concentration camp. This is one in her repertoire of “stodge meals” – i.e. stodgy meals being cheap and filling – like when you’re a student scraping together whatever cash you got to go buy a kilo of rice and some cans of tuna, but usually end up spending the tuna money on a few ciggy’s and a litre of cheapest booze you can get your grubby paws on so you end up just eating the rice! The best is when she cooks it with the shell pasta as they act as little pails in which the tuna and white sauce get caught creating little bubbles of joy. Three more vital ingredients – spring onions, garlic and a lot of black pepper. Need I say more?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sunday 25 May 2008: Vegetable Soup

Yum. Without sounding like that guy on Bizarre Foods who claims everything is “his favourite” or “definitely on his top 10”, this is definitely up there with my favourite hearty meals. Sarah brews up all kinds of veggies with aplomb and makes enough for a few days, which is awesome because it just gets better with time. The soup seems to suck up all the flavours so, where it started out as quite a clear broth, which alone is really healthy and tasty, but after a day or two it turns murky – especially if you add more stock – and explodes with veggie flavours. But wait, there’s more: the ultimate garlic bread! A French baguette, fills with creamy butter, garlic and parsley (or, on occasion, mixed herbs) and toasted to perfection in the over. You know the kind – crunchy and crispy on the outside and fluffy and buttery inside. Perfect for dunking. Damn, I can’t get enough of this.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Friday 23 May 2008: Tuna Pasta

Okay, this sounds simple, but the way Sarah makes it is awesome. This is another one she’s made once before for me (I think once before that for herself too), and it’s super healthy (except for the cheese and pasta bit). I think it’s also quite cheap to throw together – we’re a bit deprived of monetary funds this month as we’re saving – so it also fits our pockets well. I think Sarah steams some veggies – carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, tomatoes that sort of thing – cooks some tricolore pasta, and throws them together with a bit of butter. Then she adds capers, the shredded tuna (just your everyday from-a-can tuna), a lot of balsamic vinegar and gives it a toss. Finally some grated cheddar cheese over the top and viola! Not only is it really fresh and tastes damn good, but the different colours of the pasta and veggies makes it aesthetically pleasing too. Yum. If she’s gonna make this every time we run out of money, I’m gonna start spending like a fiend.