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The Backyard Boil-up

The first time I saw live crays they were scarpering in all directions on the main editorial floor of The Age, just before deadline. Aaah, those were the days.

2 L water
stock vegetables (carrots, celery, leeks, or whatever)
1 live crayfish (about 1 kg)
herbs, bay leaves, chillies, lemon grass
black pepper

Pour the water into a stock pot, or [...]

Chicken On A Stick

Whenever I see the word kebab, I think of the left bank of the Seine, and all those Middle Eastern restaurants with huge, alluring kebabs lined up in the window. Prawns, beef, chicken, crays, and so on. Trouble is, it’s generally a con. Those inside are about a third the size, and the bill singes [...]

Mussels In Almond Butter

I’ve never quite understood why they sell mussels preserved in jars. Of all seafood, this is the easiest of all to cook, and possibly the one with the most options to play with.
Mussels are the seafood for those of us who are still looking keenly at our weekly bank statements. A kilo of mussels will [...]

Silver Beet In A Sesame Oil Dressing

When nothing else seems to work in my garden, silver beet grows and grows. Dunno why, or how. Its cousin, rhubarb, steadfastly refuses to do anything, and its other relative, beetroot, bolts to seed before the root is rooted.
Silver beet is commonly known as the spinach you grow when you can’t grow spinach. It’s unfair [...]

Pasta With Spinach and Fresh Tomatoes

Spinach is as popular in my household as carrots. Bugs Bunny and Popeye were not as silly as they looked.
Not all tomato sauces are made from cooking tomatoes for hours until they are desperately thick and all but free of any excess water. We don’t always have the time, and the freshness you get from [...]

Squid In Its Own Ink

Squid cooked in its own defence mechanism might seem like the ultimate indignity for this aristocrat of the sea. It’s also supremely delicious, and so surprising and takes so little effort.
Squid in its own ink is one of the great slow-cooked dishes of the world. Most often considered a staple of Italian cooking, particularly around [...]

A Pilaf With Smoked Salmon

Risotto or pilaf? Who cares? This is one of my favourites. The gentle joy of the infused rice, with the magic flavour of smoked salmon draped over the top, like a red robe.
There’s a flash brand of risotto rice labelled Ferron. It’s worth the extra. Try the Carnaroli type for this dish. It is truly [...]

Winter Tomatoes Stuffed With Memories

I started to feel needy for my version of this dish after Katerina Plastaras, a dear friend of Greek heritage, brought some stuffed tomatoes to work, and we re-heated them, and swooned, and paid unstinting praise to her mum, who had created these marvels. This is for ‘The Mother’.
A slimy little jerk did me a [...]

Oysters Toofey

Oyster lovers are allowed to take their oysters cooked, despite what the toffs might think. This recipe came from Toofey’s, one of my favourite seafood joints.
Toofey’s chef, Michael Bacash, is one of the true fanatics of the business. Aiming for one thing: perfection. Perfection in his produce, perfection in his cooking, perfection in his service. [...]

A Simple Butter Cake: One For The Fridge Door

This heralds a change of life or, at least, a grasp of commonsense while baking. The rules you learn baking can apply to the rest of your life. The beauty of this recipe is that once you make the measures, the whizzer performs all the hard work.
I hate making cakes. This is cooking by routine, [...]