Get Behind Me, Santa!

Yes, I am excited about Christmas, but December seems to be going too fast. It’s difficult to focus on each day as it goes by, when you do that get up-go to work-come home-get up for work again thing too often. I realise this sounds horribly patronising coming from a student, but as Jamie Cullum said in his eponymous song, “blame it on my youth,” because uni in no way prepares you for the “real world.” I guess what I am try to say, in my bungling way, is that I don’t want to suddenly wake up and it’s Christmas and I have completely forgotten to enjoy the buildup. And go shopping.

By the way – and I can’t think of any better place to say it than here – it is one of my greatest regrets in life that I can’t sing. It’s not like something you can work for in a New Year’s Resolution kind of way – you either have it or you don’t. You may wonder why I begin my post like this, but I was singing loudly along to the Rent soundtrack today while doing the dishes and as I listened to myself caterwaul it struck me that no matter how much I love to sing, no one would ever hire me to star in a Broadway show. Sigh.

Anyway, enough grumbling! There is lots to catch up on! And I sent Tim on a mission to find tinsel after work, so I can feel more seasonal. The $2 Shop mini tree on top of the microwave just isn’t cutting it.
Above: Tomato Rice, a recipe from Nigella’s How To Eat, which I made for dinner the other night. This is a perfect example of Nigella’s genius. Seriously – please make it!
Tomato Rice (The title is thusly because I can’t decide if this is more of a soup or a risotto.)
  • Take a jar of tomato pasta sauce. Empty into a pot, then half fill the jar with water, put the lid on, give it a shake and tip the contents into a pot. Biff a teacup or so of long grain rice into the sauce, and add more water if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid. Cook at a lowish heat for 20 or so minutes, stirring so it doesn’t stick, until the rice is cooked. Pa-dah!

It is warm, and comforting, and transports even the most low-rent jar of pasta sauce into something seriously delicious.

To go with this I made Nigella’s potato and onion hash, from Feast. It is basically cubed potato, fried till crispy with onion, topped with a fried egg. The perfect supper.

Above: Ahem. You don’t need me to point out that I’m not so good at cracking eggs into a pan. But still – it tasted great and is easy as to make. I recommend microwaving the potatoes for about 5 minutes first though, otherwise they take forever to cook in the pan.
Another dinner we had recently was a chicken curry. It was probably more Indian than Thai, despite the presence of a kaffir lime leaf. It’s funny, we hardly ever have chicken breasts – they are just so expensive, and thighs taste much better – but they are versatile. So, I thought that I’d have it made when I found some drastically reduced in price the other day (their best before date was looming.) But I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything to do with them. Anyway, I ended up making a kind of free-form curry. I fried an onion, and added cumin seeds, ground coriander, tumeric, garlic, and a spoonful of coconut cream, to make a kind of paste. To this I added the diced chicken, a tinful of chopped tomatoes, and a kaffir lime leaf. This simmered away and then I swirled in some more coconut cream and frozen beans before serving over rice. To be honest I was rather impressed with myself – it tasted really good!

Above: The curry bubbling away.

That night (Monday, by the way) I decided to make the Canadian Cake, from my great grandmother’s Aunt Daisy cookbook. This title amused me endlessly, I suppose because there is no explanation given for its nomenclature, and because we had a Canadian friend around who was equally amused (it doesn’t even have maple syrup in it!) I really had no excuse not to make it.
I made the whole thing in the food processor, which helped for the slightly unusual aspect of this cake – it had a whole orange biffed in it. I should have put the orange in sooner though, instead of at the end once the flour had been incorporated, as it took a while for the chopper blades to wear it down. Nonetheless, it was very easy to make, and despite the fact that we spontaneously decided to drink a lot of red wine on our courtyard outside I managed not to botch it up in any way.

Above: If you were wondering, this is what a Canadian Cake looks like. Tastes good too – a light, moist sponge with a distinct orange flavour and sultanas strewn throughout. Another winner from Aunt Daisy!

Last night’s dinner was something altogether different, the Spaghettini Al Sugo Crudo from Nigella’s Forever Summer. In layman’s terms, it is pasta with a sauce made from chopped tomatoes, steeped in olive oil and garlic. The only difficult thing about this recipe is actually finding decent inexpensive tomatoes. Luckily they are starting to fall in price – I can’t remember the last time Tim and I bought some – and we got a bushel of healthy looking ones at the vege market on Sunday. You have to peel them for this recipe but it’s really a doddle – just pour over boiling water and let them sit for a bit.

Above: This pasta is so delicious – very simple flavours, but elegant and summery. In a move that Aunt Daisy surely would have approved of, I used the water that I’d poured over the tomatoes to blanch the brocolli and cauliflour, and then used the same water to cook the pasta in. Could I be any more environmental right now?

Finally – I swear, this is the last thing – I made the Blackberry and Apple Kuchen from Nigella Bites. Nigella’s version is a sweetened slab of bread which has apple, blackberries, and crumble tumbled over before baking. I had found a punnet of blackberries at the local Four Square for $2.50, and so taken was I with how cheap they were that I had to buy them. This recipe is very easy, the dough is silkily easy to knead and roll out into its tin, and then all you have to do is dice the apple and make the cinnamony crumble. It’s a miracle that I didn’t muck it up somehow, as the final of Outrageous Fortune was starting when I put it in.

Above: Kuchen in the kitchen. This stuff is sooo good!

Am now off to make a list (and check it twice, I know) of ingredients for all the Christmas presents I’m going to be cooking over the next two weeks. Am also hoping that I get paid soon -eek!

2 thoughts on “Get Behind Me, Santa!

  1. Kay says:

    Just to let you know that I’ve read your latest blog….. Flat out Christmas wind-down. Every day another farewell morning tea or end-of-year get together. So much to eat – so little time.


  2. Sarah says:

    Hello!Lol, I thought the tomato rice in HTE was supposed to just be a soup with a few grains of rice thrown in. Mmm… but your risotto-soup-rice dish looks soo yummmy! Must try it.xox Sarah


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