Sydney summers are a trigger event for me which I attribute to being born in December 1972. It held the dubious honour of being the hottest month on record as well as host to the hottest Australian day on record. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday the national average temperature was 40.3THOUSAND degrees Celsius. At the moment weather forecasters in Australia are talking about a DOME OF HEAT which is COVERING THE ENTIRE CONTINENT. Just writing that sentence caused me to stop, shake out my hands, take a deep breath and reassure myself I am not going to die. (SHE LIES! DEATH IS IMMINENT)
There are not enough words for me to adequately express my comprehensive dissatisfaction with the concept and reality of summer. The word itself is a fine example of latin, greek, gaelic and chinese derivatives coming together as not one of them could generate a word off their own bat to truly describe a three month period that delivered sweat, chaffing and clothing with inadequate skin coverage. It is unacceptable.
As we approach summerhell Australians have a competition to see which broadcaster or media outlet will use the phrase “tinderbox” first. We have a record of savage bushfires which are remembered decades later with a reverence normally reserved for the horse race, remembrance and invasion day. It was Tasmania’s turn last week with more than 100 houses razed and 100 people still unaccounted for. One death is too many due to a bushfire but Tasmania is not a big state. Such loss is profound.
In the midst of our own Hades Day yesterday I somehow mustered energy to make a proper dinner for the first time in what felt like months. I know it hasn’t been months but it occurred to me that about 80% if the boys’ diet in the last month has been Fruit Loops* and 2-minute noodles. As my mate Jane said, palm oil and sugar, the food stuffs of champions.
I instagramed the shit out of because, quite frankly, that’s what I do and if we’re NOT instagraming the shit out of dinner then did we really have dinner at all?
A lovely follower @clareanna01 left a message on the pic:
Please tell me that you made this and that you will add it to your recipe list on your blog? It’s been a sh*thouse [isn't that adorable, she did that asterix] couple of weeks down in Tassie and for the first time since last Thurs (when the bushfires started) you’ve made me hungry.
I promised her I’d post the recipes that night and then promptly fell into a codeine induced coma (until I woke up and read from about 1am to 4am because I AM READING AGAIN, thank you Nexus table that I got for my 40th!). Nice work Kim, bring someone traumatised back to the table, make promises and then leave them hungry.
So here we go, a day late but here. A dinner for hot summer nights.
Lime and mint chicken
- 1kg chicken thighs, cut into strips (depending on how big they are)
- 1 lime, cut into rough wedges which you then, using your hands, squeeze the juice out of over the chicken and then add the rinds to the bowl
- couple of garlic cloves you’ve just smashed with the side of a knife so you can lose the skins
- handful of sprigs of mint you’ve roughly torn up or chopped
- pinch of salt, couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a few lugs of olive oil
- Get your hands in there and smoosh it all together then let it marinate for as long as you’ve got – I gave it a couple of hours in a rare moment of foresight.
- Cook on the bbq until done.
I have no idea if this salad is an Australian invention. It smacks of something that Americans would go giddy over and I really don’t want it to be something this country can claim ownership of. It is NOT in the league of the lamington, the pavlova or the ANZAC biscuit although granted it is just as addictive.
It’s officially called Chang’s Noodle Salad I call it The Bogan Salad because COME ON, the ONLY salad ingredient in this is the wombok cabbage. There are shallots in it as well but let’s face it, that we’re listing that as evidence it is a salad is evidence THIS IS NOT A SALAD. What it is is a vehicle for fried noodles, toasted nuts and a dressing made of a LOT of oil, sugar and some more oil.
Hence, bogan salad.
- 1/2 wombok cabbages, finely shredded
- 125g packed slivered almonds, toasted
- 4 shallots, finely sliced
- 1 packet Chang’s fried noodles
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2tbsp soy sauce
- 2tsp sesame oil
- Combine the “salad” ingredients in a bowl
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t try to see if you can reduce the sugar amounts or the oil, just embrace it for what it is and don’t make it every day.
- Combine and eat until your head falls off.
Jamie Oliver’s quick pickled cucumber salad
Now, there’s a cucumber salad in the same vein in both Jamie’s 30-minute and his 15-minute meals books. The 30-minute meal one is better and this is the recipe from that book.
- 1 telegraph cucumber that you’ve peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
- a thumb size piece of ginger, about 2cm – although use less depending on your love of ginger
- 3tbsp olive oil (I don’t bother with this at all anymore)
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- 1tsp sesame oil
- 1 lime
- fresh coriander
- fresh red chilli – if you want to
- Mix the dressing stuff together – and have a taste – add a bit more soy or lime depending on how it tastes. I tend to hold back on the ginger and then add more if it needs it.
- Just before you’re going to sit down to eat, toss the ribbons of cucumber in the dressing and sprinkle with coriander all fancy like.
Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals coconut buns
OK, I have to fess up. Someone posted a pic of these on Instagram the night before and all of the above was made basically so I could make – and eat – these. Offering up these little puppies shifts a pretty tasty but fairly normal dinner in this house to fancy, fancy, fancy, f-fancy. And look, I know I say these things are a snap and those of you less comfortable in the kitchen roll your eyes and say on the inside, like I’m ever going to make that.
You need to make these. They’re not that coconutty which I found disappointing. I suspect it’s because he uses light coconut milk but I’m really just guessing. Next time I am contemplating putting a few drops of coconut essence in as well. We shall see.
Now, Jamie whips the dough up in a food processor which is just madness. I LOVE my food processor but hate having to wash it up with a passion I normally reserve for Mythbusters. It’s a ridiculous avoidance-inducing hatred because really, it’s not that hard to wash up. I think it’s a shape thing. Let’s file this under #notsane and not mention it again.
Basically the dough is a SNAP – very similar to that I use for the spring onion (or shallots) pancakes and you can whip it up by hand in minutes without having to wash up weird food processor bowls and lids with funnels. They’re doughy – you’re going to tear a bit off, whack a bit of chicken on it with a piece of gingery vinergary cucumber and forget that it’s still 38C at 7:30pm.
- 400ml tin of lite coconut milk
- 2 tinfuls of SR flour
- pinch of salt
- Combine everything until it comes together and knead it slightly until it’s smooth. This is not like a bread or pizza dough, I’m talking like a minute or two. In hindsight I probably could have kneaded mine for a minute or two longer but seriously, COCONUT BUNS!
- Roll it into a log, cut it into 8 pieces and roll them into balls.
- Place each one inside 2 muffin cases then in an Asian steamer – I didn’t have muffin cases so just bunged them in the steamer that I’d lined with baking paper. Worked a charm.
- Then steam them for about 7-8 minutes. You’ll know if they’re done by just pulling them apart slightly and seeing if they’re cooked or still doughy.
It actually feels criminal calling that a recipe.
So there you have it. The perfect dinner for hot summer nights.
*only ever purchased in the holidays and this time around conveniently on special. At last count I think we’d gone through eight boxes.