Meatballs, Thai-ish…I hope I can get away with that.

I’ve used both a mixture of pork and lamb mince for this, and, yesterday, just lamb.

Puree the following:

Shallot, maybe one large
Fish sauce
Coriander (fresh)
Grated carrot
1 tablespoon of mango chutney (maybe even more? Heaped!)

and add to the mince. Mix it all thoroughly. For 1kg of lamb I used a bunch of coriander (including stem) and one carrot.

Form into small balls, maybe about walnut size, and roll in flour.

Heat ghee in a non-stick frying pan and fry until cooked and caramelised on the outside. Yesterday I used grapeseed oil and let them sit on paper towels to cool and drain after frying.

Really good cold/room temperature for picnics. Yesterday we had them with chicken wings in killer BBQ marinade, and rice salad.

Killer BBQ marinade

BBQ marinade

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark Chinese soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, ie the thing one would put on a pie.
  • 1/4 cup Mirin. Sherry would do.
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 (1-inch) cube peeled fresh ginger, smashed

Stir together in bowl until sugar is dissolved.

Marinate, marinate, marinate. And in the fullness of time, your guests will genuflect, genuflect, genuflect.

Eggs and potatoes, mucked-about Spanish style

I hate that thing in Spanish recipes where they say and now you flip it onto a plate. So this is what I did instead.

Ingredients for two

  • potatoes peeled and diced quite small, no more than 1cm. Enough to approximately cover the bottom of the pan
  • 6 large best eggs you can get
  • seeded and finely diced tomato: only if they are good
  • a few tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • parsley chopped
  • shallot finely chopped
  • butter and/or olive oil


  • Fry the potatoes in the pan, stirring frequently until brown and cooked, I used a combination of butter and olive oil.
  • Mix the eggs and add the tomato, parmesan and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the shallot when the potatoes are almost cooked, you don’t want it to burn. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan and jiggle it about. Tip the pan as necessary to get the uncooked egg on top to run down to the bottom.

I cut this into quarters when the egg was just a bit runny on top still, the heat will mean it keeps cooking as you serve. It was brown and a little crunchy underneath.

Serve with a salad.

This is a perfect lunch and it tolerates whatever is in the cupboard. Asparagus is going in my next one since it’s the season. Anchovies maybe. Cheddar cheese for a different texture as well as taste. Sardines. Different herbs and spring onions would be good. We ate this hot, but I think it would be good cold/room temperature. I can see taking it on a picnic.

Spaghetti with olive and bacon sauce

Made up this tonight:

Ingredients for two

  • bacon rasher chopped
  • shallot finely chopped (I used one large)
  • garlic finely chopped (I used three cloves)
  • olives stoned and chopped (I used small black olives from the Stirling market)
  • dry white wine
  • tomato paste
  • cream
  • cheese for serving


  • while the spaghetti water is boiling
  • take the fat and rind from the bacon and render in olive oil, then eat
  • fry the chopped bacon, shallot, garlic and olives until shallot is soft
  • add white wine and bring to boil to burn off and reduce
  • add tomato paste and cream, simmer gently
  • mix spaghetti when cooked into the sauce

Serve. We had both parmesan and romano on the table. I didn’t think it needed cheese at all.

Verdict: worth preserving

Improved Rogan Josh

The road to improvement is paved with mistakes. In this case I started out intending to make my normal Rogan Josh, but it had been so long between visits that I forgot what I was doing.

Usually I fry the finely chopped onion and then add the garlic-ginger paste and finally the dry spices. Totally makes sense since you are adding the ingredients in order of how long they need to cook…

But instead I added the onions to the garlic and ginger, turned the whole thing into a paste. Then I added the dry spices to the ghee I’d cooked the lamb in, and shortly thereafter added the paste. Totally upside down in other words, but it turned out great. I did not cook the onion paste mix in that Burmese way which takes forever, partly because I was worried about whether the dry spices would be up to it. Definitely cook until the onion has lost its raw smell, and if some oil starts peeking out as you are constantly stirring, so much the better.

At that point, having a pan that wasn’t really big enough to vigorously beat and mix yoghurt if full of meat, I did the yoghurt adding step next and then water, before, finally, the lamb which had been browned at the first cooking step.

Not surprisingly, the sauce was a bit thicker – at the end, having put in enough water to make sure the meat was submerged, once the meat was cooked, I reduced the sauce through an energetic boiling down.

It was really good!


traditional Rogan Josh as Madhur Jaffrey has it

Rogan Josh

This was one of the first curries I learned to make. MJ made me look like I knew what I was doing, even though I didn’t feel like that was the case. I can’t say enough good things about her books.

Rogan Josh

2 1″ chunks fresh ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups water
10 tablespoons ghee or grapeseed oil
1.5 kg boned lamb shoulder or leg cut into 1″ cubes. Please include some bone, it makes all the difference.
10 whole cardamom pods
2 whole bay leaves
6 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon
2 medium onions, peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seed — ground
2 teaspoons cumin seeds — ground
4 teaspoons red paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon garam masala (see elsewhere in this chapter for this)
1 dash fresh ground pepper to taste

Put the ginger, garlic and 4 tablespoons of water into the container of an electric blender. Blend well into a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a wide, heavy pot over a medium-high flame. Brown meat cubes in several batches and set aside in a bowl. Put the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon into the same hot oil. Stir once and wait until cloves swell and the bay leaves begin to take on color. This just takes a few seconds.

Add the onions. Stir and fry for 5 minutes or until the onions turn a medium-brown color. Put in ginger-garlic paste and stir for 30 seconds. Then add the coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and the salt. Stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the browned meat cubes and the meat juices.

Now put in 1 tablespoon of the yogurt and stir and fry for about 30 seconds until yogurt is well blended. Add the remaining yogurt, a tablespoon at a time in the same way. Stir and fry for another 3-4 minutes.

Now add 1 1/4 cups water and bring the contents of the pot to a boil, scraping in all the browned spices on the sides and bottom of the pot.

Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour or until meat is tender. Every 10 minutes give the pot a good stir to prevent burning.

When the meat is tender, take off the lid, turn the fire to medium high and boil off some of the liquid, stirring all the time, until the sauce is thickened.

Sprinkle the garam masala and black pepper over the dish and mix them in just before you serve it.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Kashmiri Rogan Josh

When I looked for my Rogan Josh recipes on this blog recently, I discovered I’d never put them up. Several posts over the next few days!

Kashmiri Rogan Josh

This is an incredibly delicate dish, I guess that is obvious from the ingredients. MJ explains that in Kashmir they do not use fresh ginger. Hence the very – for this part of the world – unusual addition instead of powdered ginger.

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 1/4 pints natural yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1.5 kg stewing meat (with bone) from lamb shoulder and neck , cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons bright red paprika mixed with 1/4 -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala


Grind the fennel seeds in a spice grinder until fine.

Place the yoghurt in a bowl and beat with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Heat the oil in a large pan and ,when hot ,add the cinnamon and cloves.

Add the lamb and salt. Stir and cook over high heat for about 5 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne and give the meat a stir.

It is really important to add the yoghurt a spoonful at a time, and beat it in thoroughly before adding another. It is this that stops the yoghurt curdling. Keep cooking on a high heat till liquid is absorbed and meat is well browned.

Add fennel and ginger and stir, then add 500 mls water, cover but leave the lid slightly ajar. Reduce the heat and cook for half an hour. then cover completely and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Make sure there is always some liquid in the pan.

Remove the lid and add garam masala. You should have a thick reddish-brown sauce. Reduce by boiling with the lid off if the sauce isn’t thick enough.

Chocolate mousse vegan style from Fleurieu Pantry

Or let’s just call it a yummy chocolate cream dessert that can be made in a few minutes and doesn’t have to set.

Ingredients for two

  • 3 tblesps cocoa powder, I used Cadbury’s premium
  • flesh of 1 ready to eat avo
  • 1 very ripe banana, peeled
  • 1 tblesp maple syrup: I used honey
  • 1 teasp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teasp ground cinnamon

You can puree if you want it smooth, but I don’t think mashing is so bad.

We had it with plain yoghurt and that would have been cream if we’d had any….but we aren’t vegan.

Thanks, Fleurieu Pantry which shared this online yesterday.






Chicken stew with fennel and olives

What I had on hand…..I though fennel and olives sounded weird, but it tasted good.

Not so much soup as soupy.


  • 4 pieces of chicken, not breast, free range/organic if you can afford it
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, discard the coarse outer layer. Dice the rest.
  • a few carrots, peeled and diced
  • a few zucchinis washed and diced
  • potatoes peeled and diced, I used some kipflers
  • a large onion peeled and chopped finely
  • a few cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • white wine
  • olives: I used good quality black olives, stone them
  • ghee or some other frying substitute


  • fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and stir a few times
  • add maybe a cup of dry white wine and burn off the alcohol
  • add everything else and water to cover

We had three meals from this, two with chicken and one with the vegetables left in the stock. It was more or less soupy with the chicken, we had fresh bread with it. When we were down to the vegetables, I added slightly underdone short pasta, covered the pan while the pasta soaked up some of the stock. Served with spoons, parmesan and salt/pepper to taste.

This got a yum rating from us.

On the tactility of listening and reading

I want to make a note of two articles.

The first is ‘Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound.’

Karin Littau and Andrew Piper have noted another dimension: physicality. Piper, Littau and Anne Mangen’s group emphasize that the sense of touch in print reading adds an important redundancy to information – a kind of “geometry” to words, and a spatial “thereness” for text. As Piper notes, human beings need a knowledge of where they are in time and space that allows them to return to things and learn from re-examination – what he calls the “technology of recurrence”. The importance of recurrence for both young and older readers involves the ability to go back, to check and evaluate one’s understanding of a text. The question, then, is what happens to comprehension when our youth skim on a screen whose lack of spatial thereness discourages “looking back.”

and the other is an interview with David Sax in The Technoskeptic:

This was a point of time when I really moved most of my music collection, which was largely CDs at the time, and iTunes. I had got rid of all my physical music and moved to streaming. And then as a consequence of that, almost stopped listening to music. When it wasn’t there as a physical thing, music just kind of disappeared. And then shortly after that, a couple months later, my roommate at the time got his parents’ old record collection, and we started listening to this stuff and I became really sort of intrigued at what it was about, the records were pleasurable and it wasn’t the sound quality. And it wasn’t that it was such a great record collection, because it wasn’t really.

It was around the time that everybody I knew started getting their first smart phones. And really seeing the behavior of people changing in such a fundamental way, people suddenly ignoring you in the midst of conversations. Going out for dinner and everybody was just there with their heads down, responding to messages, which is something we now take for granted…. But at the time, it was just really stark, stark change. And also, at this time there was sort of the green shoots of what I was writing about, which is that these supposedly obsolete analog things were starting to see kind of new life and find new audiences and find a different sort of value in what they were, compared to what they were in the past.