Saturday, January 15, 2011

food lover's cleanse: week two round-up

Life just happens, I guess. The past week has been both chaotic and sad; I became really unwell (not food related, bien sûr) and was stuck at home in bed feeling hopeless as I watched chaos unfold outside on my little television screen. Thousands upon thousands of homes in Queensland disappeared under water, bushfires tore through parts of Western Australia. As humidity here in Melbourne hit record highs, the carpet began to feel sticky to walk on and food in the kitchen began to rot. So I couldn't make borscht, or baked chutney-stuffed fish. Instead I ate muesli with rice milk, leftover lentil soup and crackers. I drank lots of water and a couple of gin and tonics. I really feel like an adult now that I can honestly know and understand that there's no point beating yourself up when plans go awry - for it's taken many years of feeling guilty and disappointed in myself to get to this point. So cheers to that.

So in lieu of my two-day summaries, I thought I'd post today about some of the highlights from the cleanse recipes I did manage to put together. Despite the strangeness of the week, I discovered another handful of recipes that I'd gladly make again. Take that roasted salmon with avocado and pink grapefruit salad pictured above, for instance. This is not the kind of thing I'd usually make for myself at home; single-portion pieces of salmon always seem sort of sad to me, like if I ate one on a Friday evening watching television, I'd be joining hundreds of health-conscious late-20s, early to mid 30s single girls all around the country in this moment of culinary simultaneity that ends with a pregnant and melancholic sigh. Yes, you've done something good for yourself, but YOU. ARE. ALONE. Or maybe that only happens when you serve it on steamed bok choy? Because this was nothing like that; it was bright and punchy and juicy and zingy. It was the kind of thing you might eat before you go out for a night on the town, or while you're crazily typing away, wrapped in the excitement of a new project. The fillets of juicy grapefruit punched through the richness of the roasted fish, while the avocado provided little slivers of luxurious creaminess to balance it all out. I used the citrus shallot vinaigrette to tie the whole lot together and it was excellent. I'm now wishing I had a grapefruit - and a single-portion of salmon - for dinner this evening.

This sweet potato hash with poached egg was gooooood. Another one I didn't expect to enjoy so much, though for less existential reasons: look, sweet potato is just not my favourite thing in the world. I quite like it melted into a curry or smooshed up into a pie filling, but I can't get the knack for roasting or frizzling them into something delicious and I was sure that these home fries were going to be a little bland, annoyingly sweet and lacking... something. But actually, once you carefully place a poached egg on the top of these babies the dish is complete - and completely delicious. I used a golden sweet potato (to trick myself into liking it more) and boiled the cut and peeled chunks until just tender. They were then thrown into the pan with olive oil and red onion, a little brown sugar and some pumpkin pie spice mix. Dear lord! What is this magical stuff? I looked up a recipe online and made my own - and now I can't wait to try it out in other recipes. Anyway, the potatoes went all golden and crispy but a bit sticky and formed the perfect starchy base for the runny egg. It was ace.

Third, here's the soup I mentioned the other day: Molly's (of Orangette) Curried Lentil Soup. I didn't make it for the specified day, but had made a big pot only a couple of weeks ago and so understood the power of its awesomeness already. When things started to go haywire health-wise, I (in a rare moment of clarity and foresight) made another big pot and froze the soup in batches. I've been eating it whenever the weather has allowed since. It's a spicy and creamy-thick soup, but doesn't contain dairy, unless you add the little bit of butter at the end. Instead, it's richness comes from the addition of a can of pureed chickpeas that are stirred through the lentils towards the end, fortifying the soup and lending a comforting density and creaminess to the texture. I LOVE this soup. I hope you'll try it. When I took the picture above, I was eating while reading the latest edition of Gourmet Traveller, planning what to cook in the brighter days ahead.

There are a couple more recipes I wanted to tell you about, but perhaps tomorrow. Right now the sky is blue, pretending that the last week never happened. It's a strange trick that almost works.


  1. In defense of early-20s single girls, it's not always horrible to be alone! :D That said, I never cook salmon for myself, but that's more because it seems too extravagant for just me on teh PhD budget. Off to explore the chutney baked fish... and well done for being kind on yourself and taking the time to rest up!

  2. Haha! I AM a late-20s single girl - and I love it! So funny: the REAL reason I don't cook things like this more is exactly the same as yours: I'm also on a PhD budget - and it sure don't allow salmon very often! I guess I'm just bitter and twisted from living like this for a few years and like to poke fun. Really, I'm JEALOUS.x


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