Friday, June 3

Setting the table for one

Fourteen squared meters.

There is a lifestyle in this world that challenges the practice of eating being about the process of sitting down around a table together.

When there is actually only one chair at the table because the place on the other side is filled with the space where you stand to cook from, and when you turn away from your hot plate and place your meal on the table and then shuffle into the chair to eat it, there is not really any room to be together with anyone.

And so sometimes, sometimes, perhaps more often than desired, one has to eat alone.

This is the fate of a fourteen squared meter apartment in Paris, a life from August onwards, which we can only be constructive about. And not for any moment at all does this mean that we cannot eat well in these times.

When you’re standing there in your kitchen (or beside your kitchenette), and you realize that you don’t need to consider how your brother dislikes broccoli, the fact that your best friend finds a plate of only green a peculiar sight or the absolute insanity that your sister can not stand the texture of mashed food; a weird sense of creativity is absorbed into the parts of your mind that categorize food. And for a brief second you imagine a luscious plate of pureed avocado mingled in with blanched broccoli.

Viola! Brilliance in your mouth.

Broccoli with Avocado Mousse

1 broccoli head
1 avocado
juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil

Simply cut the broccoli into florets. Blanche the broccoli.
Blanching is the process of cooking something in salted boiling until that something is tender but firm. Run the cooked food under cold water until it becomes cool. If the food remains hot, it will continue to cook, becoming soft and undesirable (in my opinion).
In this case, blanche the broccoli for 2 minutes, drain and run under cold water until cool. Set aside.

Peal the avocado and remove the stone. At this stage you can either mash the avocado into a bowl with a hand held masher, or you can put it through a food processor. Personally I think a hand held masher is sufficient, unless you are making this for a mass amount of people. Once the avocado is at a mousse consistency add the rest of the ingredients and mash or process until fully incorporated.

Place the avocado mousse and broccoli into a bowl and mix well until the mousse is woven into every piece of broccoli.


Mexican Mince

For those times when you just want protein and you just want flavour…

beef mince
1 onion, diced
3 garlic gloves, diced
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 can crushed tomatoes
½ tsp mild chili
½ capsicum/red pepper, chopped small
1 carrot, grated
corn kernels (cut off a fresh cob or from a can)
sour cream
fresh mint

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a heavy based saucepan. Add onion and garlic, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown. Once the majority of the oil has been absorbed by the onion, add the red wine vinegar, making sure to continually mix while it bubbles rapidly.

Once the bubbling subsides, add the mince and brown for 1 or 2 minutes. Then add the tomato can, chili, capsicum and carrot and allow to simmer until the sauce starts to thicken and no longer holds a consistency resembling water. This is your time to season with as much salt and pepper as you desire.

Once it tastes good to you, spoon the mince into a bowl. Top it with the corn, a dollop of sour cream and some fresh mint.

Grilled Beef Pattie with Gruyere and Guacamole

beef mince
½ white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 egg, lightly whisked
a form of bread crumbs (I only had crackers so I put them in a bag and crushed them. But you can also use dried bread or store bought bread crumbs)
1 tsp grated cheese (gruyere, parmesan, cheddar)
herbs (I only had mint sauce in a jar so I used 1 tsp, but fresh chopped mint, basil or parsley works best)
2 tsp of any chutney or tomato puree
my sister Rachael once suggested adding chopped olives, which go incredibly well
sliced gruyere or any hard cheese for the top

1 ripe avocado
¼ red onion, diced
¼ tomato, diced
lemon juice
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°

For the patties, add all the ingredients except the sliced cheese into a bowl. With your hands mix it all together very well. Shape the meat mixture into balls, the size of a fist.

For the guacamole, in a bowl mash the avocado, tomato and onion together. Season and add a little lemon juice and oil until it is at your desired consistency and taste.

Heat some oil in a skillet (very important: the skillet must have an oven proof handle). Once the oil in the pan has just started to smoke slightly, add the patties and press down with a fish slice. Brown each side well, then put the skillet into the oven for around 6 minutes. Using a tea towel remove the skillet from the oven and top the patties with sliced cheese. Put the skillet back in the oven until the patties are cooked through, probably only 2 or 3 more minutes.
Use the tea towel to remove the skillet and place the patties on your plate with a side of guacamole.

I made three patties and only cooked one for that night, freezing the other two for a later date.

Lemon and Avocado Salad

1 egg
½ avocado, diced
½ tomato, diced
½ carrot, grated
lettuce leaves, whole or chopped
¼ red onion, diced
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp cider vinegar

Bring a small pot to the boil. Add the egg carefully, not to break it on the bottom of the pot. Allow to boil for 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until the egg is cool. Peal the shell off, slice in half and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, place all the other ingredients into a plastic bag, including the liquids. Seal the top of the bag and mix the salad together by juggling the bag with your hands to incorporate all ingredients well.

Carefully pour the contents of the bag into a bowl, top with the egg.

This is seriously a good time.

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