Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for December, 2011

Best Ever Toasted Cheese Sandwich

December 15, 2011


Gooey melted cheese and crispy fried bread with a hint of garlic. Need we say more?

Makes 2 sandwiches. If you’re feeling virtuous serve with green salad.

30g butter, softened

20g mascarpone cheese

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 thick slices sourdough bread

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

40g gruyere cheese, thinly sliced

40g mozzarella cheese, grated

olive oil

salt and pepper

Mix together butter with crushed garlic and set aside. Combine mascarpone and mustard and spread on all slices of bread. Top 2 slices with cheese and season with salt and pepper as desired. Sandwich slices together and press down firmly.

Heat the garlic butter over a low heat in a large, heavy frying pan with a dash of olive oil to stop the butter burning. Place the sandwiches in the pan and cook for approx 2 mins on each side, until golden brown. Enjoy immediately!

 

 

Season 4: Episode 15

December 13, 2011

The champagne arrived and Willow held her breath as the waiter expertly popped the cork. It was all she could not to squeal in excitement. What a wonderfully perfect evening! Well, it would have been far more perfect had Robert actually been able to join her, but it was as close to perfect as she could imagine without him.

She was about 99.99% sure that she had fallen head over heals in love with Robert and was 99.98% sure that he had undergone a similar, dizzying and wonderful transformation. Just thinking about him sent butterflies exploding in her stomach and shooting through every last inch of her body.

They’d tiptoed around the L word, neither of them being quite brave enough to just come out and say it; Willow still smarting from the last time she’d let her feelings get the better of her and Robert not having felt anything even remotely close to this since his wife had died many years earlier. Willow was pretty sure that Robert was going to tell her tonight how he felt and she would have no hesitation letting him know that she felt exactly the same way. She smiled giddily as she took a sip of the champagne and let the bubbles roll over her tongue and down her throat.

“Can I get you something to nibble on?” the waiter asked.

Willow shook her head. He smiled and vanished back into the main restaurant area, leaving Willow alone again. She checked the time, frowning slightly; Robert should have been here by now, surely.

***

Robert looked up and down the street for a taxi. He tapped his foot impatiently and looked at his watch. He’d been waiting at least ten minutes on this stretch of road. He momentarily contemplated calling his driver, but the gridlocked Friday night traffic wouldn’t have been conducive to a quick trip. He wondered about getting the tram. It had been years since he’d caught public transport. He checked his pockets and found a five dollar note. He guessed that a tram ticket would be about a dollar or so and that the conductor would have change. It had been a long time since he’d been on a tram, but they couldn’t have changed that much, would they? He checked the road and stepped out to find a tram stop.

***

Robert’s secretary, Claire, returned to her desk and sighed. She was meant to be having dinner with friends tonight, but had called and said that she’d meet them for a drink later because she was stuck at work. Her half eaten takeaway had congealed so she threw the container in the bin. The meeting room door was still closed, which meant they were still slugging it out over the details of the merger. If only Robert would just leave so she could go home. She was pretty sure that he didn’t even need to be there for the final negotiations, but in typical Fortescue fashion he liked to be involved in every part of the deal.

“How can I expect to run a successful company if I don’t understand everything about it?” he’d said to her on many occasions.

She contemplated sticking her head in the door to see how much longer they were going to be, but decided against it. If she broke the flow it would probably take six times as long.  She picked up the phone again and dialled her friends. May as well just reschedule completely. It didn’t look like she was getting out of here anytime soon.

***

Willow was getting impatient. She had passed the threshold of excited and was moving into pissed-off territory. Seriously, she thought, don’t organise something like this if you’re not even going to be here! She knew Robert was busy and had a lot of work on at the moment, but really, this was getting ridiculous. She sighed and took another sip of the champagne, drumming her fingers on the table.

***

The trams were packed and Robert hadn’t been able to get on the first one that had come past. Some kind of sporting event was going on and the tram was filled with people wearing team jumpers and sporting scarves, even though it was summer. He’d never understood the Melbournian obsession with all things sport. He stepped out and looked down the road again, not seeing another tram anywhere. Dammit. Over the other side of the road a taxi stopped and a gaggle of girls got out, tottering on their towering platform heels. Robert held up his hand.

“Hey!” he shouted, waving to the taxi. “Hey, wait!”

The taxi driver started to pull out, but then saw Robert and stopped, motioning for him to cross the road. Robert grinned and waved his thanks waiting for a break in the traffic. He ran out into the road. There was a screech of brakes and the stomach curdling sound of crunching metal and smashing glass. No-one heard the dull thud of Robert’s body being tossed into the air and then landing in the middle of the road.

***

Robert wasn’t answering his mobile. As a last resort, Willow dialled his office number. She’d spoken to his secretary once before, but didn’t want to come across as one of those girlfriends and therefore never phoned him at work. His secretary answered after two rings.

“He’s still in a meeting I’m afraid,” she said apologetically. She knew about Robert’s plans tonight and felt bad that this girl was waiting. She seemed nice. Still, if she was going to date Robert, she’d better get used to evenings of cancelled plans.

“But he called and told me… Oh, never mind,” Willow sighed. Robert must have gone back into the meeting after he called her. Was it so hard to pick up the phone and let her know?

***

The ambulance rushed Robert to the Alfred hospital. He was unconscious and every part that could be broken, was. The paramedics looked at each other grimly. This one didn’t look good. Not good at all.

***

Finally, at 10:30pm everyone filed out of the meeting room. They looked exhausted. Robert’s secretary waited for him to emerge.

“Where’s Robert?” she asked one of the lawyers who had been in the room.

“He left hours ago.”

Claire groaned and packed up her bag. It was unlike Robert to leave her hanging unnecessarily at her desk.

***

After several more fruitless attempts at getting hold of Robert, Willow finally gave up. She tipped the last drop of champagne into her mouth and stood up, quite drunk by now from the lack of food and the copious amounts of champagne. She apologised again to the waiter and left an overly generous tip, slinking out of the restaurant feeling embarrassed. As she was leaving her phone rang. She snatched it up, her heart sinking when she saw it was Ana – not Robert – calling her. She let the call go to voicemail. She was too grumpy and tired to talk to Ana now.

The house was quiet when she got home. She wasn’t tired and padded into the kitchen to make a toasted cheese sandwich. On any other day she would have laughed at the irony of making a cheese sandwich dressed head-to-toe in a brand new Chanel outfit, but not tonight. Not now.

The pissed-off feeling had gone and was replaced by gut-wrenching worry. Where was he? What if something had happened to him? She didn’t know who else to call; she didn’t know any of his friends yet and when she’d tried the office again it went to voicemail.

Even the molten cheese and fresh sourdough that was sizzling in a pan – thanks to a generous nob of garlic butter – didn’t help her shake the feeling that something had happened.

She’d only been asleep about thirty minutes when her phone rang at 2:30am. She answered without properly waking up.

“Willow? It’s Claire.”

Claire? Who the hell was Claire, Willow thought sleepily.

“Robert’s secretary,” the women said, as if reading her mind.

Willow sat bolt upright in bed. She suddenly felt sick. Her heart was beating fast and her palms started sweating uncontrollably. She didn’t want Claire to be calling her at this time of the morning. She didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

“What is it?” she managed to whisper.

“It’s Robert,” Claire said, her voice catching in her throat. “He’s been in an accident. They don’t know…” she started sobbing, unable to talk. “They don’t know if he’s going to make it,” she finally managed.

Willow ran to the bathroom and vomited before throwing on some clothes and rushing to the hospital.

Fettuccine with Roast Pumpkin and Mascarpone

December 8, 2011


A superb meal for a warm early summer evening. The pumpkin and macarpone combine to give a beautiful creamy flavour and the chili adds a tiny kick at the end.

Serve with fresh, green salad and a crisp white wine.

4 cups chopped butternut squash (pieces about 1/2 inch big)

1.5 tblspn olive oil

2.5 cups chicken stock

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

1 fresh chili, chopped finely

500g fresh futtuccine

Freshly grated Parmesan

Handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 220°C. Toss pumpkin with olive oil in large bowl to coat. Transfer pumpkin to baking sheet. Bake until pumpkin is tender and beginning to brown, turning once (about 30 minutes).

Transfer pumpkin to processor and add 2 1/2 cups chicken stock. Puree until smooth. Add mascarpone cheese, ground cinnamon and chili. Process to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Transfer fettuccine to large bowl. Add sauce; toss to coat. Garnish with a generous amount of parsley and black pepper and serve, with Parmesan separately.

Season 4: Episode 14

December 6, 2011

Ana threw her phone across the bedroom. It hit a pile of clothes in the corner so didn’t quite have the smashing into smithereens effect that she had hoped for. Still, she would probably be grateful for that next time she wanted to use it.

Another cancellation. It was the fifth client in the last week who had phoned and told her they no longer required her services.

Sofia wasn’t kidding, Ana thought wryly. Since accusing Ana of stealing from her, she had wasted no time getting in touch with her extensive network of nouveau riche cronies to make sure that Ana would never work in Melbourne again. It would have been better in a way if she had just pressed charges; at least then Ana could fight back. Ana had tried to exonerate herself by getting the security camera footage from the store, but unless there were criminal allegations, they wouldn’t release it.

Ana felt fat tears rolling down her cheeks. She was going to have to tell Tom about this. She had put it off for as long as possible. Losing one client was part of business, two was bad luck, but five? That was career suicide.

She wiped her eyes on her sleeve. What she needed was a drink. She pulled open the fridge looking for a bottle of white wine. They always kept a stash in the house for cooking or surprise guests. Where was it all? She vaguely recalled having a drink – or was it two? –  yesterday afternoon and then maybe another few the day before. She couldn’t really remember. Tom must have finished off the rest of it and not bought any more.
She grabbed her keys, threw a jacket over her leggings and oversized jumper and headed out to the car. The bottle shop was only a couple of blocks, but she couldn’t be bothered walking. She just wanted to be tucked up at home with a bottle of white as soon as possible.

When Tom came home some time later, Ana was already halfway through the second bottle. He eyed her sceptically. He knew that Ana liked to have a drink after work to calm down, but he’d taken six or seven bottles out to the recycling in the last few days alone. He walked over and kissed her on the cheek. His eyes fell on the case of wine that was on the floor next to her.

“It was on sale,” she said, following his gaze. Her voice was thick and the words sloshed together a tiny bit. “Want some?”

Tom nodded slowly and got a glass from the kitchen. “Have you eaten?”

Ana shook her head. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten anything substantial. She’d picked at bits and pieces over the last week, but a meal…?

“I’ll make some dinner,” he said.

***

Ana barely touched the roast pumpkin and mascarpone fettuccine that he made. She didn’t have the same problem with the wine though.

“What’s going on?” Tom said lightly

Ana burst into tears and filled him in on everything that had happened.

“Are you sure you didn’t accidentally use her card instead of your own?” he said, when she was done.

“No,” Ana moaned. “I paid cash.”

“Can’t you just show her the receipt?”

Ana shook her head. “I didn’t get one,” she said sheepishly.

“What if someone took the card from her,” he said suddenly. “Instead of you. She could have lost her one.”

“I thought of that too,” Ana said, “But each card – even the one she got me – has a unique number.”

“Oh.” Tom was stumped. Still, it wasn’t a huge deal, surely? If she didn’t do anything wrong, she didn’t do anything wrong, it was as as simple as that. She’d get more clients and then everything would be back to normal. He didn’t think Ana would appreciate this optimism right now though, so he kept it to himself.

“You haven’t organised any work to be done here – plumbing or anything – have you, while I’ve been out?” Ana said suddenly.

Tom shook his head.

Ana sighed. “I didn’t think so. It’s just so weird. No one else has even been in the house except us.”

“Yeah,” Tom said. “The only other person is Sar…” His voice trailed off. Shit. He hadn’t meant to let that cat out of the bag.

He saw Ana’s hand tighten around the wine glass. “Who?” Her voice was icy.

Tom gulped. “Sarah. When she came to pick up the contract. I told you about that,” he said, knowing full well that he hadn’t. He didn’t want Ana cracking it over something that wasn’t even an issue, especially now when she was in a heightened sense of…drunk.

“Sarah was in this house,” Ana said. “Alone?”

“Ana, I know what you are thinking, but there is no way she would have done anything like that.”

“How do you know?” Ana said.

Tom sighed. “I just know. She isn’t that kind of person.”

“Why do you keep defending her,” Ana hissed.

Tom slammed his glass down on the table. He had had enough. “Why are you so goddam nasty to her,” he said angrily. “She told me about your little run in the other day. I was so embarrassed that my wife would behave in that way.”

“See!” Ana shouted. “She was at David Jones! It was her!” Amongst everything that was going on, she had forgotten that she had even run into Sarah that day.

“She bought Christmas present for her parents,” Tom shouted back. “That’s why she was at David Jones. I saw them.”

Ana clenched her jaw.

“Why are you trying to make her life difficult?” He said, sighing.

Ana started at Tom, her mouth open. She was making Sarah’s life difficult? Suddenly Ana had an idea. She picked up her keys and threw the last of the wine down her throat.

“Where are you going?” Tom said suspiciously.

“I’m going to see her,” Ana said, pulling on a jacket. “I’m going to make her confess.”

“Ana, don’t be such a drama queen.”

Ana fixed him with her icy blue stare.

“You can’t drive,” he said wearily. He pushed himself off the couch and pulled on his own jacket. At least a small confrontation might make Ana see sense.

***

Sarah was sitting at home on the couch. Willow had left earlier that evening for her surprise date with Fortescue and Mia had just gone out to tell Johnny that she loved him. Or something.

Maybe that will free up John, Sarah thought. He’s cute. He could be a good distraction until Tom finally comes to his senses and leaves that stupid cow of a wife that he got landed with.

A frantic knocking on the door startled her. She peered through the peephole, surprised to see Ana standing there. She almost pretended no one was home, but then she saw Tom, behind Ana and looking annoyed. She smoothed her hair and pinched her cheeks, opening to door with a flourish.

“Ana? Tom? What are you doing here,” she said, eyes wide. She was pleased to note that Ana looked like shit. Her eyes were red and her skin was blotchy. Her normally perfect hair was a mess.

“I’m so sorry,” Tom said. He looked embarrassed as he closed the door behind them. “We didn’t mean to disturb your evening….”

Ana cut him off. “You little bitch,” she growled. “You stole that card and now my life is ruined.”

Sarah looked from Tom to Ana, confused. “What are you talking about?”

“I saw you in David Jones,” Ana continued. Her voice was getting more high pitched and she was gesticulating erratically. “You bought lingerie so that I would be blamed!”

Tom tried to put his hand on Ana’s arm Ana, but she shrugged him off.

“Where is it?” she shouted. “Give it to me.”

“What is she talking about?” Sarah said, turning to Tom. Her voice was wobbly, like she was about to start crying.

“You are a liar and a thief,” Ana shouted,  jabbing her finger in Sarah’s face.

Sarah burst into tears, covering her face with her hands. Tom looked at Ana, appalled, and put his arm around Sarah, comforting her.

Ana stormed up the stairs before either of them could stop her and threw open Sarah’s door. She pulled drawers out and started flinging clothes across the room.

“Ana!” Tom appeared in the doorway, shocked. He went to stop her, but Sarah held up her hand.

“Let her do whatever she wants,” she said stoically, between tears. “It’s the only way she’ll know that I didn’t do whatever she thinks I did.”

Ana went through every cupboard and drawer, throwing clothes and jewellery everywhere. When there was nothing left to empty, she stood there, panting.

“Ana,” Tom whispered to her, putting his hands on her shoulders. “Stop this. You’ve embarrassed me and you’ve hurt Sarah.”

He pulled her into his arms. At least she seemed to have calmed down a bit. Ana glanced over towards Sarah, who had been sobbing in the doorway. She looked up and caught Ana’s eye. A small smirk spread across her face as she wiped the fake tears from her eyes.

Ana exploded. She pushed Tom aside and walked up to Sarah. Almost involuntarily, her hand formed a fist and swung around, catching Sarah square in the face. Sarah screamed, her hands flying to her eye. Tom pinned Ana’s arms to her side and forced her out of the room. He marched her to the front door.

“Get out,” he hissed.

“But Tom…”

“No.” He cut her off. “I don’t want to hear it. I want you to go home and pack a bag and go at stay… anywhere. I don’t care. I need a break. I can’t cope with this anymore.”

Ana watched the door slam in her face in disbelief. Her hand was aching from where it had come into contact with Sarah’s cheekbone. She felt numb, as though she were watching her own life happening in front of her, but she wasn’t really living it. She could hear the sobs subsiding and Tom’s soothing voice as he led Sarah down the stairs to the kitchen. Ana turned and slowly walked down the path away from the house.

Banana Crumb Muffins

December 1, 2011


These are pretty spectacular muffins and your guests (or those you’re trying to impress!) won’t think that you’ve just made them to use up the banana’s that have been rotting in the fruit bowl for a while. The crumbly topping gives a great texture. Sure to be a hit with everyone!

Serve with tea or coffee and fresh fruit (either in bed or out). Makes approx. 12 muffins

Muffin Batter

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup honey

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

1/2 tspn nutmeg

Crumb Topping

1 tablespoon butter

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp brown sugar

pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

 

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Lightly grease 10-12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, honey, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy warm or allow to cool on a rack and keep in an airtight container.