Tag Archives: summer

Haloumi: The Official Food of Australia’s Crappy Athletes

Haloumi 1Photography by Asia Upward, Styling by Ali Nardi

Admittedly that post title is not technically %100 true. Haloumi is not the official food of anything other than the following salad recipe, and Australia’s athletes are not %100 crappy. In fact, only Australians, particularly the Olympic commentators seem to think their athletes are crappy.

I love living in Australia mainly because the quality of life here is so great. High work wages, free health care, good weather, lots of space, the list goes on. And because Australia has all of these high standards for quality of living, I find that frequently on occassion Australians whine get mildly upset when they don’t get something they feel entitled too. And no where has this attitude been more apparent then the consistently negative and critical coverage of their own athletes in the Olympics.

A typical interview tends to go something like this (fictional discussion based on my own perception of commentators interviewing athletes):

Commentator: “How does it feel to get fourth when you were so close to getting on the podium?”

Athlete: “I’m so proud. It feels great to get to be at olympics and I gave it my all.”

Commentator: “Yes, but how disappointing is it not to get gold?”

Athelete: “I’m just so excited at what I accomplished and I’m looking forward to the next olympics in 4 years.”

Commentator: “Ok, but how does it feel to totally suck for not winning the gold, which is the only thing that matters,” and so on a so forth.

I’ve also never witnessed Olympic commentators who are so eager to see fellow competitors fall, crash, or slip so their athletes can gain a spot on the podium. I mean, is that really how you want to win? Hoping your opponent takes a fall trying something daring and worthy of gold while you play it safe? I don’t think so, and I don’t think Australia’s Olympic athletes do either, but hey, I can only speak for myself…

So this post is in dedication to Australia’s Olympic Athletes who I think are doing a pretty swell job in the most prestigious athletic competition in the world. Chumpy might have gotten wiped out in border cross, but man is he good looking. And David Morris didn’t win the gold, but he dressed in bright yellow for his follow-up interview which is just as good.

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Australia loves haloumi, they support haloumi, they believe in haloumi. They should probably start treating their athletes more like haloumi short of eating them, and make this awesome Haloumi, Rockmelon (Cantalope), Almond and Basil Salad instead. Cook time is minimal, so you don’t have to linger by the heat on a sweltering Melbourne day, and it’s super simple to prepare so you can reserve your energy for things like walking down the block, or getting the lid off your water bottle which you have probably refilled at least ten times when Melbourne is at it’s worst. I serve it as a main–it is refreshing and filling, and won’t bog you down. It’s definitely worthy of a gold :)

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Ingredients:

  • 12  1/3″ thick slices haloumi cheese (it’s the “meat in this dish” so i don’t skimp!)
  • 1/2 rockmelon/cantalope, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 french shallot, thinly sliced
  • a handful of basil, leaves picked and large ones torn
  • a few handfuls mixed salad greens

For the dressing: Mix olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sald and pepper to taste

1.Over medium high heat on the BBQ/grill, or on a grill pan or regular fry pan, cook  haloumi pieces in a bit of oil until golden brown on both sides (if doing this directly on the BBQ, just brush haloumi with oil). This only takes a few minutes on either side.

2. Combine remaining salad ingredients with dressing,  lay haloumi pieces on top and drizzle with a bit of extra dressing. Simple as that. Enjoy!

Possum Wars and Indian-Style BBQ

Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Tamarind

Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Tamarind

I’m in the middle of moving (arrgggg) but I won’t bore you with that. Hearing about the ups and downs of someone’s move is just about as interesting as hearing stories about airport delays or how your cat really is the cutest cat ever (impossible, because mine are)…. But, made some rad food for a farewell barbecue, and got the thumbs up from my guests to post my Indian barbecue recipes to the blog (not authentic Indian food, just some stuff I made up). These recipes are great on the barbie in summer, but could also be moved from the barbecue to the oven for a hearty winter m. They were a hit, thank goodness. Wouldn’t want to leave on anything but a tasty note!

The Barbecue: Anders and I had a “farewell barbecue” to see our friends before we head south. Everyone got along great, except for our resident possums, who were duking it out.  The neighbors recently cut down some well established trees and the possums that used to dwell in that territory are now trying to move in on the possums living in the branches above our roof. Possums are anything but stealthy, and we could hear them tumbling around overhead. Pictured below is a possum that couldn’t hold it’s ground and joined our barbecue for a while. Unlike those fangy looking, pink-eyed possums in the US, possums in Australia are adorable, except for when they are in your kitchen nibbling on leftover salad, and refuse to budge even when you are waving your arms like a mad man and shouting at them.

Just want to say the friends I have made in Brisbane are fantastic people, and I will miss you (but we’ll be all up in your face when Anders and I are back to visit family). Take care and enjoy the recipes!

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Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Tamarind
Recipe by: Alexandra Nardi

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons tamarind paste*
  • 1 tblspn honey
  • 2 tsp melted coconut oil (or oil of choice)
  • 6 lamb chops (from the shoulder, a few more if you are using lamb loin chops)
  • 1 lime (optional)
  • Raita to serve (recipe follows)

Raita Ingredients:

  • 3/4 grated cucumber
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • good handful of fresh mint, chopped (plus a sprig for garnish)

*You can find tamarind paste in Indian/Asian grocers

  1. Grind coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in mortar and pestle until the seeds are broken down (but not yet a powder). Transfer to a bowl, and add paprika, salt, garlic, ginger, tamarind paste, honey, and oil. Add lamb chops and toss well to coat. Cover bowl and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
  2. Heat grill (barbeque) to high, and cook lamb chops a few minutes on each side (I like them medium rare, so about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cook a few minutes longer on each side for medium or well done).
  3. Squeeze lime juice over lamb chops and serve with raita.
  4. For raita: Grate cucumber and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Allow to rest for a few minutes than squeeze out and discard excess liquid. Mix cucumber and mint into yogurt. Add salt to taste. Garnish with a sprig of mint

Indian Spiced Yogurt Chicken

Recipe by: Alexandra Nardi

Indian Yogurt Chicken

Indian Spiced Yogurt Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes, more if you like it spicy
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala (see recipe below)*
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (fresh coriander), including stems, and a few sprigs for garnish
  • thumb size piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (I use Greek yogurt)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
  1. Grind cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle until broken down (but not into a powder). Pour into a medium bowl and add turmeric, salt, chili flakes, garam masala, cilantro, garlic and ginger. Add yogurt and stir to combine. Add chicken pieces and coat with yogurt mixture. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to four.
  2. Heat the grill (barbeque) to medium heat. Cook chicken for about 20-25 minutes, turning over once (wings and drumsticks will cook faster than the breast and thigh pieces).  Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.

*You can of course buy garam masala, which is a blend of different spices in powder form. I like to make my own, as I have found that it really makes a difference if you use fresh spices. So, if i plan to cook with garam masala, I make the garam masala myself and keep it in a jar, where it stays potent for a few months. I use one of the garam masala recipes from Indian Vegetarian Cookery, by Jack Santa Maria. This no frills book (no pictures!) is a really good book to use as a launch into cooking Indian food, and it has been a great learning tool for me.

Garam Masala (by Jack Santa Maria)

To make your garam masala, in a mortar and pestle grind together:

  • 4 parts black peppercorns
  • 4 parts coriander seed
  • 3 parts cumin seed or fennel seed (i just do both)
  • 1 part cloves
  • 1 part cardamom seeds (just crush the pod to release the seeds)
  • 1 part cinnamon

Hipster Gripe: Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Syrup

DSC_0267 While winter is hitting hard back in the US with a massive snowstorm included, summer will be over in a  few weeks in Australia, and because we are off to Melbourne on the 1st of March (now that a date is set it’s the real thing!), that means it is actually going to get cold (Yay!)  And we get to do cold people things, like…being depressed and miserable. As a New Yorker, I am entitled to claim weather prone depression as a condition!

Cold weather and creativity generally go hand in hand, as there are no beautiful beaches to frolic along, or tropical fruits to binge on. You have to make your own fun. I’m going to need a creative boost so hopefully I absorb those creative craft brew winter vibes through what will be my terribly pasty white skin and chapped lips, as I am hoping to start my own little food business (key word “hoping”). The food scene in Melbourne is awesome, and people are into it, and that makes me happy.

People also seem to be into pirates and mustaches, which sort of makes me feel like I am moving to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which scares me a bit, as I can’t seem to walk through that neighborhood without experiencing some sort of hostile encounter. But all of the young people in Melbourne wearing granny clothing and riding vintage bikes that I spoke to were actually really nice and genuine, so I think they are an evolved brand of hipster down there that knows how to smile and say please. Not the type you have to have a brawl with at Fette Sau BBQ joint in Williamsburg to get a chair (thanks for protecting me Sikorski!) And let’s be honest– Anders wears wayfarers, tight jeans, and sports a big ol’ beard when he isn’t doing the Aussie board short and shirtless look, so I am dating a hybrid hipster anyway. He will be my link to their world.

That cold weather means summer salads will be off the table for a while to, so I made a Grilled Eggplant and Cherry Tomato Salad on the barbie to really celebrate the vibrant colors of summer veg and herbs. Produce is so lovely in summer you don’t have to get fancy. I just prepare the veg simply and let it speak for itself.  I know the timing is a bit cruel for those of you back in the states, but perhaps it will help you visualize the warmer days to come, as over the next couple of months, that cold weather feels like it will never end!

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Do you have any hipster friendly summer salads to recommend? I’m going to need to win them over, as hipsters know good food, and they will be my target customer base. Please share!

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Grilled Eggplant and Cherry Tomato Salad with Balsamic Syrup

Recipe by Alexandra Nardi

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds/ 450 grams eggplant sliced crosswise about 1/2 inch think
  • 3/4 pound/ 350 grams cherry tomatoes (I used a variety of small heirlooms), sliced in half or in quarters for bigger tomatoes
  • 1 cup bocconcini (baby mozzarella), halved or sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Balsamic Syrup (recipe below)
  1. Several hours ( up to 12 hours) before you are ready to make your salad, line a baking tray with paper towel and lay eggplant slices in a single layer on tray. Sprinkle generously with salt and place in fridge. (Salting the eggplant helps it release water, but if you don’t have time to do this step in advance, it isn’t the end of the world. Just season your eggplant slices with a bit of salt before you throw them on the grill.)
  2. Pre-heat grill (barbecue) to medium. Remove eggplant from fridge and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with a clean dish cloth/ tea towel, or paper towel. Brush olive oil onto both sides of eggplant slices. Place in a single layer on the grill, and cook about 6 minutes on each side, or until eggplant are tender.
  3. Place eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella, and anchovies on a large platter. Drizzle balsamic syrup over salad to taste, and scatter with basil leaves.

Balsamic Syrup

  • I make balsamic syrup at home cause it is easy and cheap but it takes a bit of time and it makes your kitchen smell like vinegar. If you don’t want to make it, you can usually find it at specialty grocers. Also, in this recipe I give measurements to end up with 2 tablespoons of reduced balsamic which is plenty for this salad, but you can do a whole bottle if you like, as just like vinegar it will keep indefinitely.
  • Place 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a small skillet over very low heat, and swirl the pan occasionally. The vinegar shouldn’t be simmering, it should be slowly evaporating. Reduce the half cup vinegar down 1/4 of what you started with (takes about 40 minuted for this quantity but longer for larger quantities). Pour into glass or ceramic bowl or cup and set aside until ready to use. To store long-term, store in a glass jar or bottle  with lid and leave in cupboard.