Goldilocksing Vitello Tonnato

Dear People of the Internet,

Have you ever been utterly obsessed by a recipe?  So much so that even when it confounds you time and time again, you have to keep trying to cook it to perfection? Just as Nic Silver is obsessed by Tanis, so have I been consumed by a search for a, no THE, perfect Vitello Tonnato.  My obsession started during the 2015 (2014?) season of My Kitchen Rules when Ash and Camilla made it.  Veal with Tuna Mayonnaise?  Really girls?  Really? But no. Despite my initial misgivings, the judges loved it!  And it’s kind of kooky and very retro.  Which are pretty much my criteria for food obsession.

vitello-tonnato4

They say the course of true love never runs smooth and so it was with my adventures with Vitello Tonnato.

Vitello Tonnato – The Bad

The first Vitello Tonnato I made came from, yep, you guessed it, The A-Z of Cooking, 1977. From the chapter entitled N is for Night Before to be precise.  It looked good enough but oh…..that veal.  That  veal was so stringy and fatty and revolting it was damn near inedible!

vitello-tonnato vitello-tonnato2This was a huge fail on the veal but props to the A-Z of Cooking, the tonnato was good!

Vitello Tonnato – The Ugly

Next up, I  went super modern.  This version of Vitello Tonnato came from a Tasty Reads Book club choice from earlier in the year which espoused the virtues of “clean” living.  The author has apparently lost quite a bit of weight eating this food and I am not surprised.  Pretty much everything I have made from it has been singularly awful. 

 The vitello tonnato was no exception.

The surprise was that the Tonnato was made from tofu.  And I’m not going to go on a tofu bashing rant because, as with everything, tofu has it’s place – miso soup, vegan curries? Awesome, brilliant, the more the better!  It just does not belong in Vitello Tonnato!  I made this to take to a Tasty Reads Cookbook Club meeting. 

Here is what I took:

almond-butter-prawnsWhat?  I hear you say.  That looks like the weirdest Vitello Tonnato in the world. It looks more like almond butter grilled prawns.  And you ‘d be right.  If they gave gold medals for things that tasted flipping disgusting and smelled like sick, that Tofu Tonnato would win hands down.  And the roast veal was again dry and fatty.  The veal went to the dogs, the tonnato went in the bin and I went down to the supermarket to buy the prawns for the dish you see above.  Incidentally, the prawns were one of the handful of decent recipes I have cooked from this book!

Vitello Tonnato – The Good

Normally, after two fails at a dish I would give it up as bad job.  But obsession is obsession and I still not done with Vitello Tonnato. And so, I turned back to the initial inspiration for making this dish – The MKR website.

vitello-tonnatoAnd you know what?  The third time was a charm!  This Vitello Tonnato was everything the other’s weren’t.  The veal was lovely and tender, the tonnato was tasty and the accoutrements – pickles, fried capers and micro herbs were perfection!

It was also the gift that kept on giving – it made a lovely dinner, and the next day, wrapped in lettuce leaves it made a super tasty lunch!

vitello-tonnatoHere is a link to the MKR recipe for Vitello Tonnato

The only problem with the MKR Vitello Tonnato is that you poach the veal in a gorgeous stock made with herbs and vegetables and white wine and stock.  And then presumably throw it out.  Not on my watch!  I kept it in the fridge over night and the following evening I roasted up some tomatoes, added this to the stock mix and voila, I had a super quick, easy and delicious tomato soup! Add some grilled cheese and it made the perfect work lunch!

tomato-soup-work-lunch-2

So tell me.  Have you ever been obsessed by a recipe?  And how many times do you try something before giving up on it?

And have a super week! Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2  Related articles

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Tanis Inspired Cocktails #4 – Sex on The Breach

With my love of puns, there was no way I could resist this.  The Sex on the Breach is my Tanis inspired version of a variation of the classic Sex on The Beach. sex-on-the-breach

And now for the PSA. If you are in the PNW and you are contemplating having sex in the breach? 

Don’t.

Cease.

Desist.

Stop. It. Now.

At best The Breach contains mutant cuttlefish, psycho squirrels, TARDIS like cabins, strange creatures lurking in the shadows, Eld Fen, and has sent more than person totally loopy….Lord only knows what kind of hellish offspring would result from any sort of hanky panky within those grey pancake walls.

sex-on-the-breach2

I found this version of a Sex on the Beach on Drinks Mixer and was really interested to see how the mix of Chambord, Midori and Pineapple juice would turn out.  In my head I wanted it to have a more murky tinge.  In reality, the lovely deep red was a lot more pleasant to the eye than the colour I had in mind!  Also, the original called for Cranberry juice.  I had Pomegranate juice in the house so I made it with that.  Feel free to sub in cranberry juice in your version if that’s how you roll. It is totally delicious too!

Here’s the  recipe:

Sex on The Breach
Celebrate the Season Finale of Tanis with this super tasty cocktail!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 part vodka
  2. 1/2 part Midori® melon liqueur
  3. 1/2 part Chambord® raspberry liqueur
  4. 2 parts pineapple juice
  5. 4 parts pomegranate juice
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients with ice.
  2. Stir gently, strain and serve.
Notes
  1. You can substitute cranberry juice for the pomegranate juice
Adapted from Drinksmixer.com
Adapted from Drinksmixer.com
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
With the Season 2 Finale of Tanis imminent (this week?), why not make one of these to sip on as you listen.  Unless, of course you listen in your car.  In which case, read my PSA above. 

There are so many questions that the finale may answer. 

  • Will Nic find Tanis?
  • And if he does….then what?
  • Who the fuck is Mike?   Solved.  See below.
  • Will Nic find Sam Reynolds and Morgan Miller?
  • Can Nic trust CameronEllis?  Will anyone ever be able to separate CameronEllis’ first and second names?
  • Should Nic trust Nathaniel Carter and Veronica Pillman?
  • Will they ever stop calling Karla or is it Patrcia Corrie, Marcus Corrie’s widow?  The dude is still alive.  Batshit crazy but alive and incarcerated at Tesla Nova.
  • Did Nic and MK do it in S2E10? (Yes, they totally did).

And the most burning question of all.

@TanisPodcast WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE TO MY IMAGINARY INTERNET BOYFRIEND GEOFF VAN SANT?

He better be boozing in a bar somewhere and not have been lured into the breach by someone/ something only to  end up eating his own arm or gouging out his eyes with a spooky Tanis rock like….Oh!  That’s who Mike is.

sex-on-the-breach-3OMG, I can’t wait for the S2 finale….so excited!  And whilst it is sometimes incredibly frustrating to have to wait for the next instalment, I actually kind of love that in a world where everything is on-demand this is something you have to wait for! 

I have had a fabulous time doing this series on Tanis and I hope that you have also enjoyed both it and the cocktails! 

I don’t think I have said this before but to the makers,writers, actors of Tanis, THANK YOU for making one of the best podcasts, actually the two best most original, creative, well produced podcasts around.  I could not love your work more and I hope you view this tribute as my way of saying thank you for the amazing work you do!   And thanks for the retweets!

Hmmmm…what next I wonder?  Maybe a Black Tapes series?  Who knows?

Stay tuned.

And keep looking.

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Mag of The Month – Super Food Ideas – September 2002

fish-with-tarragon-salsa

Given that September is almost over, I thought I would quickly squeeze in a mag o’ the month.  If the month was September 14 years ago. However take a step back in time with me as we flick through the pages of Super Food Ideas.

super-food-ideas

Flavours of The Month – September 2002

Peaking  in September 2002 were

Apples

Here is my Salted Caramel Apple Pie:

Salted Caramel Apple Pie3Grapefruit

Here are two cocktails using grapefruit:

The Navigator

rp_The-Navigator3-802x1024.jpgThe Mexican Standoff

Honeydew Melon

AKA the worst melon.  I have no recipes.  I wouldn’t have it in my house. 

Pear (European).

Here is my Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  Now, that was delicious.  I think I need to make it again.  After all, pears are peaking!

Pickled Pear & Blue Cheese Salad

Brain Teaser

This alphabet soup was featured in the August 2002 edition of Super Food Ideas.  Can you solve it?

alphabet-soup

The Food

I made four recipes from this Mag starting with:

Ricotta Wafers

ricotta wafersThis came from the Weekly Menu Section and was classified as an entrée.  I ate mine for lunch and it was a great quick lunch idea.  Ricotta with herbs mixed through served on crackers with tomato and avocado. 

Another lunch idea was this:

Ploughman’s Lunch

ploughmans-lunchNow, without wanting to seem too smug.  That ploughman’s lunch you see above?

I made that bread. From scratch.

I also made the chilli jam that you can see between the bread and the lettuce. 

And those pickled onions?  I made them too. 

Because I am fucking awesome. And because we’re doing preserving this month at Tasty Reads. 

See?  Not smug at all.

Quick Sushi

quick-sushi2Ok, before anyone tries to stage an intervention, just know that I haven’t started boozing on brandy in my lunch hour.  That Remy bottle was just  the right size to put my soy sauce in. 

Chargrilled Fish With Tarragon Salsa

The only thing I made that wasn’t a lunch was this lovely dinner.  The fish and salsa were really good.  Not so much the potato thing I had with it which was from that horrible Mexican book.

fish-with-tarragon-salsa

Here’s the recipe for the fish:

Char-Grilled Fish with Tarragon Salsa
A light and lovely dish, packed with flavour
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Ingredients
  1. 1 slice day old bread, crusts removed
  2. 1/4 cup tarragon leaves
  3. 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  4. 3 tbsp lemon juice
  5. 2 tbsp water
  6. 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  7. 1/4 cup olive oil
  8. 4 bream fillets
  9. Additional olive oil
  10. salt and pepper
  11. Lemon quarters to serve
Instructions
  1. Tear the bread into small pieces.
  2. Place into a food processor with tarragon, parsley, water, lemon juice and garlic.
  3. Process until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. With the motor running slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture forms a thick sauce.
  5. Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook on a hot char grill for 3-4 minutes each side or until cooked through.
  7. Top with tarragon salsa and serve with lemon quarters.
Adapted from Super Food Ideas - September 2002
Adapted from Super Food Ideas - September 2002
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Next time, we’re getting classy and taking a step back in time with a look at Vogue Entertaining (Australia) from October 1989.

Have a great week!

PS, if you want any of the other recipes featured above, drop me a line and I’ll email them to you.

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Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

 Hey People of the Internet,

I’ve been making cheese.  Actually I made cheese a long time ago and then totally forgot to post it.  But, I am thinking of stepping once more into the breach and it inspired me to hunt this down and get it out.

mozzarella2 To get me started, I bought a Mad Millie Italian Cheese Making Kit which came with all the bits and bobs, you need, the cheese cloth, the thermometer, a ricotta mould, citric acid, rennet, steriliser, etc as well as recipes for mozzarella, ricotta, salted ricotta, burrata and mascarpone.   You can of course do it without the kit and there are some recipes below but I found the kit was very useful in pulling together all the items listed above. 

mad-millie italian cheesemaking kitAll I needed to buy was the milk. They recommend you buy unhomogenised milk –  i.e milk where the milk and cream are still separate.  I thought this might be difficult to find but my local supermarket stocked it.

Now make way for a super thrilling picture of milk heating.   Here it is, if you can stand the heat, milk in a saucepan. Oh, the cream blobs I’ve circled?  Are actually blobs of cream.  That’s about as exciting as the first part of cheesemaking gets!

mozzarella-making1Once your milk gets up to temperature, pop in your rennet and citric acid.  And wait a bit. Your milk mix will thicken into gel like consistency. 

mozzarella-making3Now  get your knife  and slash away.  If you want to make that noise from Psycho, go right ahead.  After all, you’ve just spent twenty minutes watching milk heat.  You deserve it. 

And now you have…no, not a dead girl in the bathtub but some slashed up curds and whey.

mozzarella-making4You then stir some more, heat them some more until they start to look kind of like melted cheese:

mozzarella-making5Next up, pour the entire mix into a colander lined with cheesecloth.  The whey will run off and the curds will remain in the cloth.  I deft you not to think of Little Miss Muffet when you are separating curds and whey. 

Tuffet optional.

mozzarella-making6Now take a handful of curds.  Drop them in hot water to let them melt a bit.

Now stretch.

Not like this:

stretch

Like this:

 

mozzarella-making7And when you’re done stretching, form a ball. 

mozzarella-making8Then drop your balls in ice-cold water….

And you’re done!  Fresh delicious mozzarella.  Perfect for your next pizza or why not try my cheesy eggplant and salami sandwiches?

mozzarella2I also made some ricotta:

ricottaUntil I made it,  I never realised how much milk you need to make cheese.    I think I used  two litres of milk for the mozzarella and I got five fairly small balls (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball) of mozzarella.  With the ricotta, I used a litre of milk and got the cheese shown above which even taking my huge man-sized  hands into account, is not all that much!  Still, it is a great experience and not at all hard to do – the ricotta was even easier to make than the mozzarella. 

In a few weeks, I will be trying my hand at goat’s curd but shh don’t tell my book club, it’s a surprise!

Have a wonderful week!

PS…you didn’t think you were getting a post on cheese making without this did you?

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Tanis Inspired Cocktails #3 – The Navigator

The huge reveal of Tanis Episode 209 was that The Navigator is…

Yeah right, as if  I’m going to spoiler that! 

No way!  You have 21 fascinating  episodes of murder, madness, conspiracy and stray right feet washing up on beaches before you can get to that reveal.  Having said that, there’s no need to be daunted, the Tanis back catalogue is still small enough that you could binge listen to it all in a weekend. 

So get onto it. It is actually one of those things that is also worth a second (or third ) listen. 

You could have a Geoff Van Sant moment and grab a beer while you listen. Or, even better,  make this super dry, super citrussy cocktail called The Navigator. 

the-navigator3The Navigator & Clues to Tanis

The Navigator is to Eld Fen what the runner is to Tanis. Basically,  to get there you need one.  And you also need a map. 

the-navigator4But maybe not a map like this. 

Because even when you have a Navigator / Runner, you can only get to Eld Fen / Tanis when the stars don’t align.

As soon as I heard about the stars not aligning my first thought went to the line from  Space Oddity,  “And the stars look very different today”.   I don’t think it’s at all relevant but except maybe for the writers tipping their hat and giving a little nod to the late, great Mr David Bowie.  I hope it’s that and the twist about to come is not aliens. 

The Navigator Cocktail

I found this on the ever reliable, always excellent Difford’s Guide.

Dry Gin, Limoncello and Pink Grapefruit Juice…three of my favorite things!  I added some additional lemon juice to mine.  I figured that if I was going to cut open a lemon from the garnish, I may as well use some of it in the drink too!

the-navigatorThis is so good!  The stars all align with The Navigator.  It is:

  • Lipsmackingly dry from the gin
  • Sweet from  the limoncello
  • Sour from the lemon juice
  • Bright with a hint of bitter from the grapefruit.

It’s like a flavour explosion in your mouth. 

The Navigator could easily become one of my favorite cocktails!

The Navigator
A refreshing dry and tangy citrus cocktail
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Ingredients
  1. 2 shots dry gin
  2. 3/4 shot Limoncello
  3. 1 1/4 shot freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  4. 1/2 shot freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. Lemon wheel to garnish
Instructions
  1. Shake all the wet ingredients with ice.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with the lemon wheel.
  4. Enjoy!
Adapted from Difford's Guide
Adapted from Difford's Guide
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

Tanis Speculation

I have no doubt Nic is about to go into the forest again but with whom? Per the first series, you need four.  So, Nic, The Navigator and two others. 

If I was Nic, I’d take Geoff Van Sant and MK.  But then, given the choice, I’d probably take GVS and MK anywhere with me.  They’re the best.  I think GVS is my secret podcast crush.  What can I say, I happen to have a thing for guys with messy hair and alert eyes who like a drink or two.  And in my head he looks like Paul from Orphan Black.  And that is never a bad thing!

And MK is just the best.  She may also be my secret podcast crush!

I can’t wait…the series two final is fast approaching….I will try to align my fourth (and final) cocktail with that happening!  

Breaking News!

Ladies of the PNW who need a thrilling secret conspiracy to liven up their lives?  GVS is trying dating again.  Why not have a beer with him?

‘kay people of the internet, we’re done. 

Keep looking!

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