Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Parkville Ladies' and Gentlemen's Club- ponderings and plannings

Leith and I are having a some guests over next week for an evening of well-dressed reclining with some good drinks and tasty morsels. Naturally, I am spending every spare moment planning a menu. I just want a few canape-type things. I don't want to over cater, as it's not supposed to be dinner, but I also don't want there to be too little (always my paramount fear when cooking for guests) and of course, I also want everyone to be suitably impressed.  Add to that mix a guest list including vegetarians, a few vegans, and a birthday, and a window of about 2 hours after work on the evening itself to prepare anything and shower and dress, and I'm dithering over what to make to an entirely unnecessary extent. The emphasis is therefore on things I can pre-prepare.

So I thought I'd get my short-list out of my head, and onto the internet.  Please feel free to throw in suggestions if I'm getting this all wrong.

  • Cake: A Black Forest Gateau, replete with cherries and cream, the works (I'll make the cake on Thursday night and just fill it after work on Friday);
  • Tuna savouries (delicious little tuna and cheese pastry parcels) - these can be made this weekend and frozen;
  • An enormous cheese plate with crackers and fruit - this requires getting to the Vic Market, lord knows when?.. but is an essential part of my imagining of what an elegant evening requires;
  • Tofu rice paper rolls - these are the only vegan savouries I think there will be. Is it enough?
That's it. That's all I've got so far. I think it's missing one thing - and that thing is a sweet that is vegan-friendly, but I can't think what it is. Maybe it's just chocolate coated strawberries?

Is it enough?

P.S. Recipes to be posted as I get cooking over the next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rice Paper Rolls

In the last year I have, how do you say, porked up. So I'm trying to eat better.  In truth, what I should be doing is eating less, but I've opted for eating better. So today, I made a healthy dinner. I made rice paper rolls. I love this meal. It's quick to make, it's tasty, and it's messy and sticky and fun to eat.


  • Rice papers
  • Vermicelli noodles 
  • Ice-berg lettuce, shaved
  • Cucumber, julienned 
  • Coriander
  • Mint
  • Beef (I used porterhouse steak)
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Chilli
  • Soy
 Amazing dipping sauce
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Soy
  • Sesame oil
  • Ginger
  • Chilli
  • Brown sugar

Ok, so here's what you do. Prepare your salad ingredients. Shave your lettuce, chop your cucumber, pluck the tasty little leaves from your herbs.

Then soak your vermicelli in hot water and drain them. Grate a generous lump of ginger and finely chop the chilli and garlic. Trim any fat from your steak, and finely slice into stir fry pieces. Heat some sesame oil in a wok and toss the garlic, chilli and ginger with the beef. Add a splash of soy and cook the beef until the all the pink has just disappeared.

Finally, prepare your sauce. Put all the things into a pot. If you measure them, you're doing it wrong. Just go with what looks good, until it becomes a sticky dark mass and tastes delicious on your finger.

Put everything into appropriately sized bowls. Fill another large bowl with hot water. You'll need this to soak your rice papers one at a time. Then assemble all the yummy elements and roll it all up nice and tight, stick some sauce on it, and shove it in your face.

NB These can easily be made using any kind of filling you like. Prawns are excellent, and puffed tofu makes a beautiful vegetarian/vegan version.

Further NB I ate six. That's not so many, right?... Right?