Friday, March 26, 2010

Announcing April

Rachel caught shopping for soup "supplies" at the Woolies Soup Shelf

This month we have an extra thing to announce. Drew and Daniel are excited to be visiting the De Bortoli family for dinner at the Yarra Valley in Victoria on Easter Monday (4 April). They will report back next week after their wine country encounter with the De Bortoli dynasty.

This April for Cooking your Calendar we are all taking our pots and pans on the road again to our friend, Holly Williams's place in Annandale. Even though Eastern Suburbs dwellers are notorious for refusing to leave their hood, we love the Inner West and are really looking forward to taking over Holly's kitchen.

We have upped the numbers again this month, inviting five guests to Holly's pad for a cosy autumn night of soup and shenanigans. Two of our guests, children's book author Tristan Bancks and partner creative director Amber Melody-Bancks, are old school friends of Drew's and Rachel's who have just moved down to Balmain from Bangalow in northern NSW. Luckily the recipe is vegetarian because, like most hippies from the Byron Bay region, Tristan and Amber are both vego. Then, of course, there is our fun hostess Holly and her plus-one. Holly is an artist and works at UTS as Assistant Curator. Last but certainly not least, is Cash Brown, artist and curator of Artereal Gallery in Rozelle.

Rachel is in the kitchen on her own this time, but the recipe Zucchini and Potato Soup is a straightforward one, so she is feeling pretty confident. So long as she doesn't get stuck into De Bortoli's Windy Peak before dinner, then things should be fine. Lock in the date: Saturday 17 April...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's Good Living article proves that we're onto something!

Now Here's a Recipe - Media Tarts

Well, it's good to know that we're not the only people that think our project is cool. Today the Good Living section of the Sydney Morning Herald featured an article on our Cooking Your Calendar project which is worth a look if you can get your hands on a copy. Drew's twin-brother, a longtime chef, read the article and promptly sent Drew a text, joking "I have been chef for 16 years and never got reviewed in the Herald... Stuff the lot of ya!!" That's brotherly support for you. Maybe we can make amends by inviting him to the May 2010 De Bortoli dinner when Drew is in the kitchen with Rachel?

Hmm, being judged by a chef. Now that could be interesting...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cooking March

Look up dumplings in a cookbook and it probably describes them as small balls of bread, egg, and meat; and broth as water, stock and chopped vegies. So the task seemed simple enough. Pete was expecting to knock March's recipe, Canederli Di Pancetta in Brodo (Dumplings in Soup), over single-handedly and in no time at all. Well you know what they say about best-laid plans. Before too long he had Rachel and Drew furiously hand shredding sourdough, chopping herbs and overseeing the delicate alchemy of broth making. Daniel assisted by having a lie down.

We had envisioned this month’s De Bortoli dinner to be a cakewalk; small meal, small guest list, but it was fast becoming a precision operation. Pete was sweating over his broth, testing the prototype dumplings to see if they really would float to the top when cooked, just like Emeri De Bortoli says in her recipe. The issue of using pancetta in the dumplings and chicken stock in the broth when catering for a vegetarian was cause for minor debate. To improvise, we made a vegetarian option with sun-dried tomato and basil. But we were now faced with both a culinary and ethical dilemma; could both dumpling types be cooked simultaneously in the same broth? What would happen if a rogue pancetta chunk hitched a ride on a vego dumpling during their little swim in the broth? Some of life’s questions are just too big for a Saturday afternoon.

We had to then carry the large pot of scalding broth through the streets of Kings Cross, to Rachel’s place nearby. An afternoon rainstorm had provided a dangerously greasy path underfoot and negotiating the four flights of stairs up to Rachel’s door was a potential OH&S apocalypse. Visions of months in an intensive care burns unit were eventually allayed as we set about tackling the evening’s simplest of tasks once our guests Katie Dyer and Daniel Joyce had arrived: cracking open a bottle of Windy Peak Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay.

We sat around for an hour or so, while Pete tinkered away in the kitchen, preparing the dumplings and a few simple side dishes of bocconcini salad and cooked asparagus and baby carrots, to be served with the recommended De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Grigio. We all surmised that the dumplings may not have been filling on their own. How wrong we were! Small parcels of big fun, a few dumplings later and we were all bursting at the seams.

After dinner, Rachel attempted a rather lame game of film-themed Charades. Drew humoured her for about five minutes because it was an opportunity to pay homage to eighties teen star Corey Haim, who overdosed a few days ago, and not on dumplings. You can just imagine how The Lost Boys was acted out. Later Rachel was more successful at group participation when she turned on Fleetwood Mac's greatest hits CD and turned her lounge room into a makeshift dancefloor. Daniel went off to the kitchen to sneak a few more cold dumplings, while Pete explained to Katie and the other Daniel how without seeing Fleetwood Mac at the Hunter Valley last December we wouldn't have dreamed up Cooking your Calendar. Pop culture references kept being amplified throughout the evening as everyone got more and more tipsy while outdoing one another with 'broth' puns. Among them were David Lee Broth, Philip Seymour Brothman, Broth Whitlam, and The Brothman Prophesies. Rachel even suggested Broth as the new name for the eighties pop group Bros. But the hands-down winner and perhaps a new name for our project, should we need a more glamorous stage name: New Kids on the Broth.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Announcing March

What image to use this time?
Type Dumplings into Google Images ... and presto!

Difficult to believe that it's March already, but all of a sudden we are planning our third De Bortoli dinner with Pete in the kitchen once again. The recipe this month is Canederli Di Pancetta in Brodo (or Dumplings in Soup which is a lot easier to pronounce...) Sensibly we are holding our March dinner party on a Saturday night this time which means we won't have to front up to work, half asleep the following morning. No more Sunday nights for us, if we can help it! So, the date is set for Saturday 13th March and the venue is Rachel's apartment. Thankfully Rachel has finally had an electrician over to fix the lights in her kitchen and loungeroom, otherwise things would have been really interesting. While we all support Earth Hour and love candlelit dinners, cooking by candlelight for two years is frankly stupid, Rachel. So, thanks go out to sparkies everywhere for making this month possible.

For a change, we have decided to host a smaller, more intimate dinner party inviting Katie Dyer who is Curator and Gallery Manager at the National Art School Gallery and Daniel Joyce who is a Lecturer in International Human Rights Law at the University of New South Wales. As well as her regular gig at the National Art School Gallery, Katie is also curating Primavera this year at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art so she is really going to be earbashed by us wanting to know all about how it is coming along. As Katie is vegetarian Pete will be preparing special vegetarian dumplings for her. But for us carnivores, the pancetta stays. And what a relief for Daniel - all he needs to do again is pick the music and pour the wine! Roll on Saturday 13th March...