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In My Kitchen… May 2014

Hard to believe that it’s May in this part of the world. Officially the third month of Autumn, I only moved into a cardie last week and even today, with a full blast of wind straight from the Arctic, it’s sunny and still 22c degrees. Beautiful Brisbane! Meanwhile, the temperatures are lot cooler in other parts of Australia. Readers and tweeters would know that I visit Canberra on a regular basis for work so I’m sure I’ll get a shock the first time my stockinged ankle leaves the door of the airport on my next visit. It’s a strange time of year to be cooking. I hanker after a few slow cooks and bakes but there still an awful lot of salads and grills on the menu at the moment. In My Kitchen is hosted on a monthly basis by one of Sydney’s Top Food Bloggers, Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. It’s an opportunity for bloggers to talk about what’s happening in their kitchen and their lives and maybe include a few things that they haven’t had time to blog about. If you visit Celia’s blog, you can read about other In My Kitchen enthusiasts. But for now, let’s visit my kitchen.

In my May Kitchen…

IMK Scorched Eggplant 2

IMK Scorched Eggplant 1

…are these scorched smoky eggplants, waiting to be peeled. I write regularly of my love of eggplants. So versatile and a great vehicle for other flavours. They take a bit of time and care but produce rewarding dishes. After a few false starts, I grow eggplants in my garden but after a hard dose of rain, the most recent flowers were knocked off so these are from the shop. This batch were cooked on the barbecue until they were blackened and collapsed. Once peeled (try to remove as much skin as possible though some is inevitable) and mashed, these are a key ingredient in many Ottolenghi dishes. There are many recipes in Jerusalem and Plenty, such as these delightfully smoky Aubergine Croquettes that I made. Delicious! The scorching process is simple but does take upwards of 40 minutes to ensure they are fully cooked through so if you’re going to cook one eggplant, you may as well cook a bunch as they collapse down to quite a deal less. As explained in my croquettes post, you can successfully freeze any extra cooked eggplant, just making sure than when you defrost, you press out excess liquid in a colander.


In my kitchen…

IMK May Bourdain

…is this Anthony Bourdain omnibus that I bought at the local op shop. I have never read Kitchen Confidential but know that at the time, it set the food world alight with its no holds barred approach and insights into what goes on behind the scenes in commercial kitchens. I find Bourdain quite boorish on screen but perhaps this won’t translate to his written work. Either way, it was an absolute bargain at $3 for two books in one. I start reading on the bus tomorrow!


In my kitchen…

IMK Middle Eastern Groceries

…is a top up of Middle Eastern groceries. I go through sumac like it’s salt or pepper. So lemony and tangy, it brightens up just about anything, not just Middles Eastern dishes. Try it sprinkled on a chook before you roast it. The large box is zaa’tar – something I also freely fling about as a useful ingredient when crumbing, in dips or smeared with oil on good Turkish or Afghan bread. The real reason for popping down to ‘Paradise Market’ though was to pick up some Barberries/Berberies. These sweet but tart little berries are a staple in Iranian cuisine and also appear in quite a few Ottolenghi recipes. They are a good source of vitamin C and whilst dried cranberries can be used as a substitute, as I can get the real thing, I have. These are going to be used in a slow cooked dish I am making this afternoon after writing this post.

….also in my kitchen as some great new serviettes that I received from Michelle, Tony and Oscar for my birthday. Their vibrant pattern is the background for these shots.

IMK Barberries


In my kitchen…

IMK Tea Candy

IMK Tea Markers

…are some tea candies from my Mum who recently returned from China. Longjing and Chrysanthemum Candy, she bought them whilst visiting a tea plantation. I would have preferred an entombed warrior for the garden but beggars can’t be choosers… She also bought these adorable little wine glass markers with symbols for wealth, luck prosperity and more.


In my kitchen…

IMK Pantry Chaos

…is pantry chaos! Regular readers may recall I talked about feeding the pantry moths to the geckoes. Well the pantry moths got to plague proportions so it was time to clean out the whole cupboard and start again. I started well but had a bit of an accident when I lifted a container and there was a gecko underneath. I got a scare, it got a scare, I dropped the container and it probably dropped it’s tail. Unfortunately, at that very moment the step I was standing on chose to break so I fell backward into the kitchen and landed very heavily on my right arm, putting me out of action. As is always the case, I was halfway through making hommus and tabouleh so whilst I sat on the lounge with bags of peas wrapped around my wrist, Anthony finished things off, under my tuition. God bless him, he thought four sprigs of parsley would be sufficient for tabouleh. Pantry cleaning had to cease until I had the use of my arm again but three weeks on I no longer have strapping, everything has been cleaned out and it’s time to start again. Yes, I’ve tried bay leaves. Yes, all of my packets are stored in sealed containers. Yes, I put dry goods in the fridge or freezer when I can. Still, they are endemic. So for the moment, the pantry is on the table whilst we clean, and scrub and wait to see if we have missed any eggs that may hatch. Everything will go back in this week. Who knew I had quite so many bottles of hot sauce. But that’s surely the subject of another post…

Finally, in my kitchen preparations are in full flight for our annual Eurovision Party, to be held next weekend. Each year a group of 10 of us get together to watch the show and enjoy cuisine of the country that is hosting. We draw for countries and the (un)lucky winner has the joy of seeing their country win but the duty to host Eurovision the following year. Last year Denmark won by a landslide so it’s my turn to host. There’s venison on the menu and lashings of Danish butter. Each year after the event, I post a recipe. You can catch up on prior years here: 2011 – Bracken Ridge   2012 – Holland Park   2013 – Witta. The real master of Eurovision though is Don’t Boil The Sauce, who is an IMK regular. He’s so keen, he even does heats and voting for dishes, leading up to the event. I suggest a visit to his ‘Chow Down To Eurovision’ posts to have a laugh and wonder at the committment of crazy Australians who celebrate an event that is held half a world away. Let’s hope the team I draw this year gets ‘Nul Points’

Eurovision 2010


43 comments… add one
  • Mel @ The cook's notebook May 4, 2014, 2:01 pm

    giggling over the pantry moth story – but I know how much it hurt, so sorry! I need to do some cooking from my Ottolenghi books as I LOVE HIM! Also, where is Paradise Market? Have fun at your Eurovision dinner 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 4, 2014, 5:06 pm

      Hi Mel – Paradise is on Logan Rd at Stones Corner, almost directly opposite the pub. For all your Middle Eastern needs. Have the most fab Afghan bread as you walk in – flat and squishy and very cheap. Baked in Acacia Ridge. I’ll keep you posted on Eurovision.

  • Lizzy (Good Things) May 4, 2014, 3:00 pm

    We are as one, yet again (on the smoky aubergine, the Ottolenghi style of cooking and Persian ingredients). I am pleased to report that I didn’t find a gecko in my larder. I hope you are on the mend. Brrrrrrrrace yourself for your next visit to my neck of the woods. It’s freaking cold!

    • Fiona Ryan May 4, 2014, 5:07 pm

      Hi Liz – yes wrist is fine. I’d rather a gecko than moths. Yes, it’s funny re: the eggplants. I left a similar note on yours. I’ll be down in a fortnight….

  • celia May 4, 2014, 3:14 pm

    Fi, you and Jason are a pair, with your Eurovision parties! 😀 On a more sober note though, I’m so sorry to hear you hurt your arm. Glad to know you’re better, but three weeks strapped up is no laughing matter. Bloody pantry moths, if only they knew the trouble they cause!

    Did you know that we Chinese take chrysanthemum tea to cool our systems? Or more specifically, to help with sore throats (according to my mother). And barberries – I’ve never seen them for sale before, I’m going to look out for them next time! xx

    • Fiona Ryan May 4, 2014, 5:03 pm

      I didn’t know that abour chrysanthemum tea – maybe I’ll have to give those ones back to my mum as she always has a throat that’s ‘catching’. Just used the barberries this arvo – they are certainly sweet/sour and frankly, I think raisins would be a good substitute. Still it doesn’t hurt to look and stock up! Thanks for your well wishes.

    • Glenda May 4, 2014, 11:55 pm

      Celia, I brought barberries at Herbies when I was with you!!

  • Ardys May 4, 2014, 4:19 pm

    Very fun, except the part where you fell and injured yourself! I was recently surprised by a gecko, which promptly dropped it’s tale… such an awkward experience!! Hope you are all good now.

    • Fiona Ryan May 4, 2014, 5:08 pm

      I haven’t found a tail and have seen it running along the ceiling so all is well as far it’s concerned. Thanks for your wishes and comment Ardys. Fiona xx

  • Jason May 4, 2014, 10:21 pm

    Following on from your comment on my blog, I love you too! hehe
    Hope the arm is doing ok now, I would mostly likely die if there was any form of reptile in my pantry, totes brave I am not!
    can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for your party, and also hear more about your grand plans…………
    Thanks for the plug Fiona, very kind, it’s most appreciated!

    • Fiona Ryan May 5, 2014, 2:05 pm

      No problems Jason. You really are the master when it comes to Eurovision. Next Monday we can go back to our normal blogging lives. : )

  • Glenda May 4, 2014, 11:58 pm

    Hi Fiona, Everyone is doing a pantry clean out. I hope it is not my turn. I am lucky, I have a cool room where I keep all my flours so moths are not the problem they used to be.

    • Fiona Ryan May 5, 2014, 2:06 pm

      I’m not convinced they cam in the flour/dry good Glenda. I think they cam from outside but decided to stay. Hopefully in my kitchen makeover (some way off yet) I’ll have a bigger fridge/freezer to put things in.

  • Lisa May 5, 2014, 8:43 am

    I love the look of those eggplants! You’ve just inspired me to dig out my Ottolenghi books and get cooking!
    Sorry to hear about your wrist and I do hope that those pesky moths are finally gone.
    I do love those little wine glass markers. Very cute.

    • Fiona Ryan May 5, 2014, 2:07 pm

      The eggplant always tastes great with a bit of smoke in it. Thanks for your kind wishes.

  • Hotly Spiced May 5, 2014, 2:31 pm

    What a lot of things in your kitchen. I’d love that cookbook! And even though you didn’t get a warrior, at least you got those wine thingies – they look lovely. Sorry to hear about your accident with the gecko! Clearing out the pantry is a dangerous job! I did mine recently because of the bloody moths as well. I wiped the shelves with eucalyptus oil – that’s meant to help keep them at bay. It has helped but once you get the moths, they’re so bloody hard to get rid of xx

    • Fiona Ryan May 5, 2014, 10:35 pm

      Good Tip! I will do that now, before I put everything back in. Thanks.

  • Francesca May 6, 2014, 8:22 am

    Love to see that others have been plagued by the pantry moths. I just did my pantry out , covered the shelves in diluted lavender oil and have crushed bay leaves everywhere.

    • Fiona Ryan May 6, 2014, 10:15 pm

      First shelf of pantry has been re-packed. It’s the ‘test shelf’. I also have some traps but won’t be putting them inside as I don’t want to attract them to the pantry. Yours in unity…Fiona

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef May 6, 2014, 5:32 pm

    We must shop at some of the same places because I swear if there’s a pantry moth within a mile of here, it comes to visit and brings all the rellies. I just cleaned it out not two weeks ago and there in the kitchen today I saw one flying around. I freeze all the flour for several days, I don’t keep a much ‘stuff’ they’d eat but then who knew they’d eat a bag of hot chillies? Bastards, the lot of them.

    The Bourdain book is a bargain, well done. I like sumac too so I must go to Paradise Markets for a looksee.

    Sorry about the fall off the step, poor you.

    • Fiona Ryan May 6, 2014, 10:17 pm

      I hear you Maureen – they ate my pasilla chillis. I agree – Bastards! The arm is all better now and Anthony knows how to make hommus.

  • My Kitchen Stoires May 6, 2014, 7:20 pm

    Can’t wait for your Eurovision post and must pop or to don’t boil the sauce to check out his program. Sorry to hear you had an accident. Those moths have been here too. I just don’t like all the waste. I love sumac too I have a giant bag

    • Fiona Ryan May 6, 2014, 10:18 pm

      Hi Tania – I usually get a big bag from the Indian grocer but I’m ‘moth wary’ at present. Where have they come from? It never used to be like this. In the olden days… cheers!

  • Mandy - The Complete Book May 7, 2014, 12:18 am

    These IMK posts are my favourite. I love popping into everybody’s kitchens and yours is filled with lovely stories and goodies. Thankfully we don’t have a moth problem although ants on the other hand….
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan May 7, 2014, 11:44 am

      Thanks for your kind words Mandy. Well I’m glad I don’t have ants then!

  • Joanne T Ferguson May 7, 2014, 2:16 pm

    G’day! Love roasted eggplant and your photos today Tiffin, true!
    What a buy re Anthony’s book…be a heaps good fun food read too!
    Thanks for this month’s kitchen view too!
    Cheers! Joanne

    • Fiona Ryan May 7, 2014, 6:56 pm

      Hi Joanne – yes, I’m quite pleased with that photo of the eggplants. All eaten now. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime May 8, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I love everything in your kitchen, even the chaos but especially the barberries 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 9, 2014, 6:19 pm

      Hi Tandy – the barberries will be doing double suty this weekend – substituting for fresh cranberries in a Danish Eurovision recipe.

  • Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas May 10, 2014, 4:35 pm

    Thank you!! I just had a major revelation reading this post. I did not think to substitute barberries for cranberries in anything. I don’t like to use cranberries because they are always sweetened but I can occasionally find barberries. Next time I see them I am buying up big. I’m a huge fan of sumac as well. As to the pantry moths, it seems you can never find all the eggs but I find the pantry moth traps do help to keep numbers at slightly less than plague proportions.

    • Fiona Ryan May 10, 2014, 5:50 pm

      Hi Tania – I like craisins but yes, they are always sweetened. There are no fresh cramberries in Australia and went I contact a wholesaler of frozen cranberries on the Gold Coast they didn’t get back to me. So, barberries in the Danish dessert tomorrow night. The pantry has at last been restored to normality. We have set a trap on top of the fridge rather than pantry as we want to attract them away from there! Thanks for visiting.

  • Andrea Mynard May 11, 2014, 7:04 am

    So many tempting things in your kitchen! Now I’m craving Middle Eastern spices and fancy reading Kitchen Confidential.

    • Fiona Ryan May 11, 2014, 10:21 am

      Bourdain won’t win any literary prizes but it’s an easy read. Cheers!

  • Taryn @ The Wooden Spoons May 11, 2014, 10:22 am

    Hi Fiona. I love the look of those eggplants all soft and shrivelled up. I bet they tasted smoky and fantastic! Great tips on freezing the paste as well. I have never thought to do that.

    Sorry to hear about your arm, I’m glad you are on the mend 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 12, 2014, 10:44 am

      Hi Taryn – if you follow me for any length of time you will find that I freeze nearly everything. Not only does it cut my waste but with only two of us, it gives some variety. Thanks for joining in the IMK fun.

  • Moya May 13, 2014, 1:22 am

    I can almost smell the smokiness for those wilting aubergines and I love cooking them this way. Sumac and zaa’tar all fabulous ingredients with great flavors and very popular here in Bahrain. Good luck with putting the pantry back together again and hopefully you will stay upright this time. Many years ago my Irish uncle Pat Mc Guigan took part in the Eurovision song contest and sang “Chance of a Lifetime” we were so proud of him. Thank you for the peek into your kitchen 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 14, 2014, 10:17 am

      Hi Moya – yes the Irish are the Eurovision masters aren’t they? How lucky you are to have Eurovision Royalty in your family! Cheers.

  • Fran May 14, 2014, 7:04 pm

    So, you’ve had a week to read Tony’s books, is he has boorish in the written word as on telly? I quite enjoy him, but haven’t seen a program in years since we shut off paid tv 🙁 Your pantry items look like mine, except mine are shared between 2 pantries and a set of drawers!

    Nice peek into your kitchen 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 14, 2014, 9:03 pm

      Well yes, he’s a bit “I know everything blah, blah, blah. Those people are soooo hopeless but I’m sooo good’. It’s still an easy read on the bus though. I’ve only ever seem him on SBS – he pops up regularly on SBS1 & 2 so keep an eye out. Thanks for patrolling my blog Food Marshall!

      • Fran May 14, 2014, 10:11 pm

        No worries, I’m enjoying your blog 🙂

  • Glenda @ Healthy Stories May 27, 2014, 9:17 am

    I’ve been planning on doing a pantry clean out, but now you have me a bit scared. I’ve been noticing a few moths but just one or two every few days. I think it would be good to dig out the old tins at the back of the pantry though and start using them up instead of just buying more of what I already have.

    • Fiona Ryan May 27, 2014, 10:47 am

      I thought it was just a few moths every so often but obviously it was a far bigger issue. I do have things on pretty good rotation but I suppose there’s always something you forget. Since the clean out we have sprayed (something I don’t really like to do but drastic times…), wiped the shelves with eucalyptus oil, sealed a gap at the bottom of the door and re-installed everything. We have a moth trap but have put that on the fridge to attract the moths away from the pantry – not towards it! The traps only attract the males though so we are obsessive about checking the cupboard now. Hope all goes well in your kitchen. Thanks for dropping by Glenda.

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