Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cooking August

Drew's "Labour" pains result in a rash

"Repay the debt, turn back the boats, end the waste and stop the big new taxes. And make mine a shandy with light beer and 70% lemonade" - Tony Abbott

"Let's move this country forward. I'm for jobs. Don't risk waking up with Tony Abbott as PM. Yes we will. I'll have a schooner of stout, ta" - Julia Gillard

Last night’s Cooking Your Calendar dinner party coincided with Election Night 2010, so as we walked down to our host Christie Cooper’s beautiful Rushcutters Bay apartment, we had these catchphrases (and a jumble of other well-worn and now annoying pre-election slogans or "Tweets") ringing like bells in our heads. And even though we’re pretty cynical when it comes to politics, there’s still something exciting about a federal election. It’s a bit like watching a sporting match, and in Sydney there was definitely a buzz in the air. Like so many other Aussies around the country, it was time to get together to watch the election over dinner and a few glasses of wine.

Tiga for PM!

In our case, last night’s dinner party was also to celebrate Sydney artist Kendal Murray’s birthday. So when we arrived at Christie’s apartment, we were greeted by our bubbly host Christie, birthday girl Kendal, a bunch of friends including Julia, Ash, Juliana, Susanna, Matt, Paul, Alison and Julia’s fluffy dog Tiga.

Tiga on quality control

After wishing Kendal happy birthday and catching up over a glass of bubbles, we couldn’t resist turning the TV on. From that moment on, the conversation was dominated by politics. And we were asking the big questions too. For instance, would 20 year old parliamentarian Wyatt Roy's first post-election initiative be to install a skate park in his hometown of Coochin Creek? Why does Senator John Faulkner insist on wearing eye-glasses that make him resemble a seventies porn star? Is Bob Brown healthy enough to spend another three years in Canberra, and why doesn’t he eat a big steak now and then? Will Bronwyn Bishop go to the grave wearing that "helmet-head" hairstyle? Why wasn’t Channel Nine’s broadcast in 3D? Surely that would have given them an edge over the other networks? How does ABC election analyst Anthony Green earn a crust between federal elections? Daniel and Ash amused themselves by adding silly election commentary to Daniel's Twitter and Facebook feed. The "well hung" double entendre never got tired!

Julia with birthday girl Kendal (right)

These and more questions were relocated to the dinner table when our election feast was served. It was a truly awe-inspiring array of dishes that included Julia’s amazing baked chicken with rustic gravy (special nod to her inspired use of a tea strainer), Christie’s homemade meatballs done “two-ways”, barbequed gourmet sausages, a selection of delicious salads and a mountain of freshly baked bread from the Blue Mountains.

After our main meal, we took a break while Rachel cooked Jen De Bortoli’s Pudding Chômeur. As the recipe says, it is a very simple dessert to make. It’s just a matter of preparing the cake batter, then separately melting butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a pan. Simply pour that sweet liquid over the top of the batter in a large dish and you are ready to go. Rachel was a bit alarmed when she saw the amount of liquid that goes onto the pudding mixture but the cooking process does the trick. Forty-five minutes in the oven, and hey presto, a delicious self-sauced caramel pudding emerges. All the liquid had dropped to the bottom of the pudding, and thickened into a gorgeous sticky hot syrup. Perfect with ice cream and a glass of De Bortoli’s dessert wine, Noble One, which is a dessert in its own right.

The proof is in the pudding (to quote a fine cliché!)

But dessert didn’t stop with the Pudding Chômeur and Noble One. Like in the federal election, we had a choice of candidates with Christie putting forward an equally delightful pavlova with rose-water flavoured cream and strawberries. Paul offered a box of artisan chocolates. Every dessert received votes, including Tiga's who normally only supports meat.

No, not a hat for the Melbourne cup, but Christie's epic pavlova

Unfortunately we have to wait to find out how Australia voted, since the election was too close to call on Saturday night. In the words of Julia Gillard, we are now “moving forward” to September’s Cooking Your Calendar dinner party. See you then!

Daniel takes Julia Gillard's "moving forward" slogan literally

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