Iluka and a damn tasty bowl of white curry mee

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Beach side getaway. It’s real and it’s name is Iluka.

When it comes to a weekend away, hanging out near the ocean, plenty of fresh seafood and booze on hand and a refurbished old school fisherman’s shack to keep you safe and warm and night Iluka, on the New South Wales north coast, ticks all of the boxes… and it’s nice and it’s close to where we live to boot. So this mythical Iluka joint is indeed a place we try to visit as often as possible.

This time away though, I must confess I was feeling a little under the weather. But I had a plan. A plan to make me strong like ox once again. I would be looking for my time in Iluka to rejuvenate the metaphorical worn grass and naked fields of the landscape of my life. And then I shall call upon the almost mythical three hit combo that is the fully charged power animal, the centered and sexually satisfied chi and the ginger minge to piss that under-the-weather type feeling right the heck off.

I hope you’re paying attention.

Iluka turned on the happy smily weather for us
Iluka turned on the happy smily weather for us

Iluka.

I think one of the highlights of my time in Iluka was (and please don’t think any less of me for saying this… bahahahaha. Any less of me? As if that could actually happen, ay. I just made myself laugh a fair bit) a pack of white curry mee. I don’t even know what white curry mee is or even where the hell they came from, but I do know these instant noodles were one of the pinnacles of my day. Cheap, easy, fast and somehow they kinda left you feeling just a little bit dirty, these things were not dissimilar to a three buck hooker… but they certainly were a whole heap tastier… a whole heap tastier.

I realised pretty quickly that is was indeed “taking a little break” AKA a holiday, so I found it very appropriate to obtain myself a glass of some fermented red relaxedness enhancer. Oh yes. That relaxy-dinky-donky-doo feeling.

Feel it?

When staying near the ocean I find it essential to purchase local seafood food sustenance as well as enjoyment
When staying near the ocean I find it essential to purchase local seafood food sustenance as well as enjoyment

Later in the afternoon I felt it appropriate that I should make soup. A little chickpea and vegetable number would be the go I reckoned as that would be good for me plus it would also be good for my friend Ainsley – who is one of my top 2 favourite vegetarians in the word (yeah Gitana, you’re up there too) – as it would not contain meat thus would be deemed edible by said vegetarian friend, Ainsley. Little did I know that Ainsley had also considered it a worthy day to make soup so had brought with her an offering to the soup eating vegetarian gods of her own, clevery disguised as a pot of pumpkin soup… or actually just straight up a pot of pumpkin soup.

Needless to say, much soup was enjoyed by everyone present.

The next morning I awoke at a time that I could only call ridiculously early… or maybe ridearly… or possibly even earliculous… but I certainly wouldn’t stray too much further than that. But I did get up early. Like, the kids weren’t even awake and the sun was still sleeping too.

We ate the meal often called breakfast for sustenance as well as enjoyment. I smiled at everybody’s morning hair as I find morning hair quite entertaining. This is a little known fact about me.

The day was filled with all of the activities you might expect from some kind of lakeside summer camp. Except we were all keen participants and not ostracized step-children, ditched by our families for the holidays because of our annoying belching habits and yet undiscovered skin conditions. We played scout-esque, sickeningly feel good family bonding games, skateboarded, shot hoops, went walking, blah-di-blah-blah.

And then we did that all over again some more.

That’s all.

White curry mee in all of it's glory. Props by Iluka Beach Shack Co
White curry mee in all of it’s glory. Props by Iluka Beach Shack Co

WHITE CURRY MEE

Packet instructions seemed to work fine for me.

Flood goals: all I wanted was a cheese and kimchi toasted sandwich

cheese and kimchi toasted sandwich
To be absolutely honest, a cheese and kimchi toasted sandwich is something I think about quite regularly. The only problem with my cheese and kimchi toasted sandwich dreaming is that it doesn’t always hit me at the most practical of moments. Sometimes I will be driving my car, other times I will already be in bed and damn near falling to sleep and other times I will be midway through beating my carnie sex slave: all very inconvenient moments I think you would agree.

Today I woke up thinking about a cheese and kimchi toasted sandwich which, as it turned out, was to be very convenient timing.

I quickly discovered that today I would not be leaving the house. Housebound. Placed under house arrest by the unstoppable force that is Mother Nature. My case was unappealable, my sentence unquestionable: I had indeed been put on lock down by the powers of Mother Nature through broken river beds, submerged bridges and the formation of vast inland lake positioned exactly where I vaguely remember yesterday was a field containing a few cows, an old tracker and a farmer who was doing something very strange with his Lismore Agricultural Show Society blue ribbon winning crop of root vegetables…

This is our back yard. The river is normally chilling at the base of the tree line in the back ground...
This is our back yard. The river is normally chilling at the base of the tree line in the back ground…

So yes, we were indeed flooded in. I took this rare moment of incarceration to take it upon my own self to make said cheese and kimchi toastie* and it was bloody delicious. As I ate my toasted bread bound treat I pondered what it would be that I would be cooking for our dinner – as is often the case on any given day of my life but certainly personified when I am house-bound – and I quickly remembered I had stashed a chicken that was gifted to me by my friend Andrew who grows chickens** in a field in the hills behind Byron Bay.

But that’s up next. Here’s your cheese and kimchi toast for a rainy (really rainy) day.

Get on it.

Load it up. Pretty simple eh.
Load it up. Pretty simple eh.

Golden brown is a pretty good colour for a toasted sandwich.
Golden brown is a pretty good colour for a toasted sandwich.

CHEESE & KIMCHI TOASTED SANDWICH (per sandwich)

2 slices of your favourite bread – I used a cheese and jalapeño loaf I get from Jordan’s Bakery in Mullumbimby
2 slices of your favourite cheese – I used jack cheese but anything cheddary works very nicely
1/2 cup kimchi (recipe here if you’re keen to make your own. It’s pretty bloody easy and tasty and really offing healthy I’ve heard)
Olive oil and butter to cook
Tomato ketchup to serve because I pretty much have tomato ketchup with every single toastie I have ever eaten ever

• Put one slice of cheese down on your first slice of bread, cover it with kimchi, put more cheese on top and cover with the other slice of bread to form “a sandwich”

• Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan on low flame. Add sandwich to pan and brush a little oil over the bread on the top side of the sandwich. Fry sandwich for 2 minutes or so each side

• When sandwich is starting to brown rub top side with a little butter, flip and repeat process on other side. i do believe the butter helps it brown more evenly and also makes the sandwich extra tasty with it’s amazing buttery powers

• When sandwich is browned and cheese is melted it’s time to eat that bad boy. Usually I like eat my toasted sandwiches with a splash of tomato ketchup and you best believe that’s what I did today

*Toastie. Also a very feasible name for the toasted sandwich around these parts.

**He doesn’t grow them like people might grow corn or marijuana crops, but I still feel I can use the term in this instance. He does let them live in large enclosures though, which I think is pretty good because then they get to eat bugs and grass and shit which is stuff that chickens like eating.

Harissa paste and then harissa marinated olives

harissa olives
Harissa is one of those condiments that is going to be a hell of a shock for your white bread, margarine and mayonnaise sandwich eating ass. Yeah, you probably won’t try it… it’s one of those things you “just wouldn’t like”. That is possibly one of my least favourite lines ever – “I just wouldn’t like that”. How do you know if you’ve never tried it? The satisfaction I get when I can make someone eat those recklessly spoken words is unfathomable… back to the harissa though.

Harissa is a spicy condiment commonplace in the kitchens of Tunisia, and for good reason.

Roughly about as subtle as the underwear display at Mardi Gras, this is a 4-hit combo straight to the top of your dome. Aromatic with garlic, sweet with roasted capsicum, heady with cumin seed and fresh coriander, and spicy with chilli… very similar to an Arabic bazaar in your face, complete with belly dancers and monkeys with funny little hats.

Yes it has a good strong flavour, perfect to stir though steamed mussels, or maybe with some slow roasted lamb with yoghurt, or even mixed with a little mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich, or, as in the recipe I will be sharing with you today, used as a marinade for olives.

Get it all roasted off and then blitzy blitzy
Get it all roasted off and then blitzy blitzy

Looking good
Looking good

Just like a bought one, in fact
Just like a bought one, in fact

HARISSA OLIVES

3 capsicum (bell peppers), it really doesn’t matter too much what colour they are… unless they are brown. Brown generally means they’ve gone a little past their use by date
5-10 long red chilli, depending on how spicy you like it
5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed, roasted & ground
½ bunch coriander, stems and roots and all, washed and then roughly chopped
60ml extra virgin olive oil

• Heat oven to 200C
• Place capsicum in an oven proof dish, rub with a little of the olive oil and season with a little of the salt. Whack it into the oven for 10 minutes
• Add chilli and garlic to oven dish, toss a little and whack it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes (you should have a few charry blistery bits going on by now)
• Allow to cool for a few minutes until you can get in there and peel back some of the charred bits of skin. Kind of a get of whatever you can be assed ripping off at the time type mission… much like having sex with your socks on. You can be as frugal or as frivolous with your own charry skin pulling as you please
• Now your roasted goodies can go into a food processer or blender with all of the other ingredients and then blitzed to form a paste, smooth or coarse, it’s your call
• Check seasoning
• Stir harissa through 1-2kg of your favourite olives, leave for at least a day to marinate before eating
• Remaining olives will last for 3 or so weeks in a sealed container in the fridge
• If you decide you like harissa you can double or triple this batch and freeze it down in take away tubs

Olive sexy time
Olive sexy time

Middle Eastern inspired chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and citrus gravy

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This was one of those dinners I set out to cook with a recipe. Yes that is correct, a recipe. Yes, even chefs use recipes believe me, but read on and you will see, as is often place in my kitchen, the whole thing can stray quickly and massively off course.

So one ingredient that was definitely happening tonight was chicken… and Jennee was really keen on cauli-cous (the blitzed faux rice or cous-cous substitute for peeps who don’t like the grain, and maybe for those amongst us who love the cauli)… and this was leading me very quickly to cooking a recipe of Middle Eastern origins.

I flicked through a few books by Greg Malouf, Yotam Ottolenghi and some other inspiring dojos of Middle Eastern cookery and found a chicken tagine recipe that was going to sort me out. I had the chicken and a few other ingredients in front of me and then bam, that’s where shit went pear shaped. One second I’m making a chicken tagine with really herby and lemony cauli-cous, next second it is chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and lemon and orange gravy.

No explanation – just happened. And let me tell you it’s happened before and I dare say it will happen again… damn aliens and their anal probes… um… I mean damn mind and it’s lack of ability to cognitively convey to me what the fuck it is doing.

Anyway, this is what I cooked. I’m going to call it Middle Eastern inspired chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and citrus gravy.

Hell of a story, I know.

I call this one "the indecision of a child of the modern world"
I call this one “the indecision of a child of the modern world”

Garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper getting smashed
Garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper getting smashed
That chicken getting a bit of love from the spice rub... chicken loves a good spicy rub
That chicken getting a bit of love from the spice rub… chicken loves a good spicy rub
Orange and lemons with a pretty antique filter
Orange and lemons with a pretty antique filter

Someone fill that glass would they
Someone fill that glass would they

MIDDLE EASTERN INSPIRED CHICKEN WITH GARLIC & SPICES, & CITRUS GRAVY (serves 4)

The citrus gravy was the winner on this day. It may strike you as being a little weird but heck, I think you’re a little weird and I don’t go on about it all day so maybe you should just give the citrus gravy a try.

1 whole chook (1.6-1.8kg), quartered, or 4 chicken marylands. Make it free-range ay
8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon each black peppercorns and sea salt
5 bay leaves
1 long red or green chilli, sliced
2 lemons, juiced
1 orange, juiced
Kipfler potatoes roasted with olives and tomato, and herby lemony cauli-cous (recipe below) to serve

• Smash garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper and a splash of oil together with a mortar and pestle to form a rough paste. A really rough paste. A paste that is as rough as the 42 year old “lady” at the club who is still trawling the floor when the lights come on at 3am
• Place the chicken pieces into a baking dish and rub with garlic mix. Add the bay leaves to the tray
• Place into a pre heated 180-190C oven and cook for 20 minutes
• Baste with citrus juice and add chilli. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until cooked – you can pretty easily check by cutting into a piece of chicken at the joint. Do it on the under side to keep it discreet
• Pour the juice into a saucepan and reduce over a medium heat until slightly thickened and sexy looking. Check seasoning
• Serve chicken with cauli-cous, potatoes and citrus gravy, garnished with reserved herbs and you know what? Scatter a few edible flowers around the plate too, if you have some. Half a flower garden as a garnish seems to be the trend these days… and maybe a small outdoor setting and a fishpond with a few gold fish just to complete the picture…

The cauliflower cut into florets right before I cous the heck out of it
The cauliflower cut into florets right before I cous the heck out of it

Herby, lemony cauli-cous
Herby, lemony cauli-cous

REALLY HERBY & LEMONY CAULI-COUS

3-4 cups cauliflower florets (from ½ large cauliflower)
½ red onion, diced finely
1 lemon, zested
2 big handfuls of mixed herbs (parsley, basil, mint, rosemary, thyme), chopped
½ cup each pistachios and almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Seasoning

• In 2 batches pulse cauliflower florets in food processer. Pulse is the operative word here as you do not want to let the blades of your choppy choppy mixy machine loose on the cauliflower as that is going to end in a cauliflower mush and quite probably tears. Pulse it a few time to achieve a coarse texture and everyone’s going to be happy
• Combine all ingredients except herbs
• Heat a splash of oil in a wok or large pan over a high heat. Add cauliflower mix and toss/stir for a minute or two
• Toss through most of the herbs, reserving a small handful for garnishing purposes, and check seasoning
• Serve with the chicken and potatoes that you just cooked too

Get into it
Get into it

NB that cauli-cous is also cracking with a nice piece of lamb, yoghurt and tahini dressing, and some fresh pomegranate

Stir fried water spinach and store bought dumplings for #easytastygood dinner


Oft times when it is really warm out I don’t do much.

I might sit in the pool for a bit, tighten a screw or oil a hinge (not a euphemism) and maybe watch a show, but that’s pretty much it.

I can’t even be bothered to write very much words.

I just cannot be assed.

But let’s face it; I’ve still gotta eat. Me going a day without food is like a Quentin Tarantino film without Samuel L. in it – highly fucking unlikely.

So, when it inevitably comes time to prepare our evening meal on said days I like to stay in character and stick with the whole “not doing much” theme.

This dinner is classic “not doing much”; store bought dumplings and sauces steamed and served with a really quick stir-fried water spinach number.

Piss easy enough for even you to not work up a sweat on a day like today.

Water spinach AKA morning glory, AKA kang kong, is one of my favourite things to put in a hot wok. It is quite simply just some tasty tasty shit. When we were in Vietnam and Laos it was sold as “morning glory” and was available at just about every restaurant and roadside stall we came across. Now I have a little trouble admitting this but I loved it. There you go. Never once in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be admitting to the world that someone’s morning glory was one of my favourite things ever to put in my mouth… but it was.

This shit is damn well addictive. Even if you don’t like greens just try this… at the very least it might give a little life to your pasty little poster-boy-for-serving-fruit-and-vegetables-in-the-school-canteen demeanor and maybe get a little blood flowing down stairs so that poor little thing can get a little rigid again.

Eat it.

I’m out.

The ubiquitous "before" shot
The ubiquitous “before” shot
Get it on the table
Get it on the table
One more quick look before totally destroying it
One more quick look before totally destroying it
A better view of the water spinach number. Pretty sexy shit, eh
A better view of the water spinach number. Pretty sexy shit, eh

STIR FRIED WATER SPINACH WITH OYSTER SAUCE, GARLIC AND SOY (serves 4 as a side)

1 large bunch water spinach (this shit will wilt down a fair bit), sliced into 4-5cm pieces
2 spring onions/shallots, sliced into 2cm lengths
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat edge of a knife
½ tablespoon each oyster sauce and light soy sauce
vegetable oil for frying

• Add a splash of oil to a wok or decent sized pan and get it plenty hot
• Add the water spinach, spring onions and garlic and toss for a minute
• Add the sauces and toss for another minute
• Have a little taste to check for seasoning, add a little more soy if you need some more salty
• Put it on the table with a few steamed dumplings, those sticky rice and pork parcels wrapped up in banana leaves (possibly one of the sexiest of items on the dim sum trolley… the banana leaf , once gently and seductively pulled aside, reveals a sticky, soft, yielding mound of ricey porky goodness… dear good lord I’m getting myself excited…) and a heap of condiments; sriracha chilli sauce is a good start, soy sauce, chilli in soy bean oil, kimchi, something else that you can’t read the label of but grabbed anyway, etc. you get the idea.
• Go fourth, eat water spinach and dumplings and be happy

A close up of the glutinous rice and pork in banana leaf porn
A close up of the glutinous rice and pork in banana leaf porn

Oops, I did it again… cooked pork again that is, but this time with a cracking warm salad that is great for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, and will most certainly impress the heck out of Laura’s Mess. Is that title too long?

roast pork shoulder
I have accidentally cooked pork again.

When I say accidentally, I mean that I wanted pork, have been thinking about pork and 100% consciously premeditated this cooking of pork days ago when I handed over a sum of cash to purveyor of said pork and started contemplating how I would be cooking it, and there is not a court in the land that wouldn’t convict me and quite frankly I would convict me too… hmmm… I’m not sure whose side I’m on right now but I can see my lawyers’ stare as he frantically gestures the “shut the fuck up” signal, so I feel it is most definitely time to move on.

Now that I have established the fact that I definitely planned to cook the pork, the only remaining question to be answered was how that piece of porky was going to be cooked.

The porky in the pizza oven
The porky in the pizza oven

The porky coming out of the pizza oven
The porky coming out of the pizza oven

Ummm, at this stage I can't believe I am still taking photos...
Ummm, at this stage I can’t believe I am still taking photos…

(Just a little PS before I go on, although it may seem to the more astute amongst you that I only cork pork and eat burgers, I do cook and consume other things… just not that regularly…)

Enter my friend Andrea.

Andrea is Italian so obviously he owns a wood fired pizza or pasta restaurant. Andrea opted for the mobile wood fired pizza business as his career path, and recently he asked if we would like to look after one of his pizza ovens for a wee bit. Well quite frankly I was almost insulted that he thought that was even a question but I regained my usual composure quickly when he rocked up with pizza oven in tow. It is now parked happily in my backyard with it’s new friends; the fire pit, spit, bonfire and smoker. What a happy little oven it is now…

Andrea is friends with benefits.

Anyway, that’s clearly where the pork ended up along with a little roast vegetable number that is a ripper of a salad in its own right. The tahini coconut dressing is also a cracker and you should give it a go even if you think you don’t even like tahini. You are wrong and you will love it!

That salad with the tahini-coconut dressing
That salad with the tahini-coconut dressing

It is seriously worthy...
It is seriously worthy…
Yes
Yes

Just hurry up and eat it already
Just hurry up and eat it already

ROAST PORK SHOULDER with PUMPKIN AND BROCCOLI and TAHINI-COCONUT DRESSING

For the pork

1 pork shoulder roasted quite simply with a heap of salt and pepper and garlic.
I like to buy pork from Australia because quite frankly that’s where I live. You can be instructed how to roast a pork shoulder if you view this post right here… also, you can be instructed on how to make tantric sexy-time love by Katherine, the 64 year old dominatrix just down the street. I dare you to give that a try…

ROAST PUMPKIN AND BROCCOLI SALAD (serves 4)

• Cut however much pumpkin and broccoli you think you need to feed your crew
• Season and roast the pumpkin with a little oil
• When pumpkin is half cooked add the broccoli and a splash more oil
• When pumpkin is pretty much ready to go add a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach, chard or kale, and a handful of mixed nuts and seeds (I used almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds) and roast for another few minutes or until greens are wilted and nuts are toasty
• Serve with a lump of roasted pork and a good splash of tahini-coconut dressing

TAHINI-COCONUT DRESSING (serves 4 plus heaps leftover for other things)

2 cloves garlic
50g sugar
120g tahini
¼ cup soy sauce (gluten free soy is a good option to make this nice for your gluten intolerant belly)
200ml coconut cream
125ml lemon juice
250ml light oil

• Combine everything except oil in a food processer and blitz for 20-30 seconds
• While motor is still running, slowly add oil to emulsify
• Pour dressing all over everything because it tastes so damn good
• You like tahini now, eh?
• You’re welcome
roast pork shoulder