Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for April, 2012

Homemade Goat’s Cheese

April 26, 2012

You don’t have to break the bank every time you have a goats cheese craving. This cheese is remarkably easy to make and can be flavoured any way you fancy (chopped herbs mixed though, rolled in pepper or chili, or try experimenting with sweet goats cheese – cover with homemade jam or berries or pear or…anything you want!)

Makes about 3/4 cup goats cheese.

1 litre of pasteurized goats milk (don’t use ‘ultra’ pasteurized)

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

sea salt, to taste

1/2 clove finely grated garlic

herbs of your choice (i.e. chives, parsley, dill, rosemary etc.)

You will also need: a candy thermometer and cheesecloth

Pour goat’s milk into a medium saucepan. Heat gradually until it reaches 180°F (about 15 mins). Make sure you watch the milk closely and don’t overheat! Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Leave for about 20 seconds, until the mixture starts to curdle (if nothing happens in about 20-30 seconds try adding a few more drops of lemon juice).

Place about three layers of cheesecloth over a colander and stand in a large bowl. Ladle the milk mixture in and then pull together and tie the four corners of the cheesecloth and hang it on the handle of a wooden spoon. Balance this over a large saucepan or bowl.

Allow to drain for about 1.5 hours, until the mixture inside is soft (like ricotta). Transfer to a bowl and mix in the garlic, salt and any herbs you desire. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Eat with absolutely everything. Yum!!

 

Seaon 6, Episode 2

April 24, 2012

Mia drained the last drop of champagne from her flute and set it on the table, sighing contentedly. “Another?”

“I’ll go,” Ana said, standing up. “You went last time.”

“Get snacks too,” Willow called after her.

The three of them were sitting the business class lounge waiting for their flight to be called. The lounge was fairly quiet, a couple of people plugged into their laptops desperately trying to finish off last minute reports, and a group of three guys who had been monopolising the space by the bar for ages. Willow, Mia and Ana had made a snap judgement that they were arrogant, misogynistic losers, which was confirmed as soon as Ana returned with the champagne glasses balanced in one hand and a plate of crackers and goats cheese in the other. She was fuming.

“That guy just said to me ‘great legs, what time do they open’.”

Mia and Willow turned around subtly to get a better look at the guy, feeling justified in their previously unfounded assumption of him.

“Oh my god. I know him,” said Willow, taking a bite of the luscious, creamy cheese. “I mean, I don’t know know him. But I recognise him. He’s that actor who was in that bad dance movie – about the girl who falls in love with the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. You know the one.”

She received blank stares from the others.

“Oh come on,” Willow exclaimed. “You know it. We watched it together. In the end they save the dance school and her parents finally accept him and they win the competition.”

“Willow, you’ve just described every dance movie ever made,” Mia said.

“Yeah, but this was the really bad one.”

“Oh, I remember that one,” Ana said. “It totally sucked. In fact, it might have been the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”

“I read that he only got cast in it because his mum is some big-time producer,” Willow said in a low voice.

“Well he couldn’t dance, act or sing,” said Ana, “so I suppose that explains it.”

“Shit,” Mia said, ducking. “Don’t look. He just caught me staring.”

Of course, Ana and Willow immediately swiveled around in their seats and stared directly at him. They saw him nudge his friends, pick up a fresh glass of champagne and saunter over to where the girls were sitting.

“I noticed you were staring at me,” he said, a playful grin on his face.

“We were looking out the window behind you,” said Ana. “There was a… er… plane that was interesting.”

Blake laughed. “It’s OK. You recognised me. I get it all the time.”

“No we didn’t,” said Ana stubbornly, crossing her arms across her chest. “Should we have recognised you? Are you famous?”

“I’m an actor,” he said.

“What have you been in?”

“Oh, a few big movies,” he said waving his hand dismissively.

Ana smirked. Obviously he realised how bad the dance movie had been too.

“I’m Blake,” he said, sitting down uninvited on the couch next to Ana. The two friends stood behind him, looking menacing.

“Ana,” she said reluctantly, shaking his hand with disdain.

“That’s Chuck,” he said pointing to one of the silent friends, “and that’s Norris. They’re my bodyguards.”

Mia suppressed laughter by faking a spontaneous coughing fit.

“Willow and Mia,” Ana said. “They make sure I don’t get accosted by losers at airports.”

Blake threw back his head an laughed. “Hard to get. I like that.”

Ana went red. “I’m not playing hard to get, I’m genuinely…”

She was cut off by an announcement over the loud speaker, asking Blake to come to the first class lounge.

“Meeting the pilot,” he said. “Apparently he’s a huge fan.”

Blake stood up and blew Ana a kiss, walking away before she got a chance to give him a piece of her mind.

“I swear,” she muttered, “if those… idiots… are sitting near us on the plane I am switching to economy.”

***

Ana craned her neck from her seat to see if she could see Blake and his ‘friends’. Thankfully she couldn’t. She let out a sigh of relief and settled back into the huge seat, closing her eyes and waiting for take-off.

“Excuse me.”

Ana opened her eyes.

“A gentleman in first class wondered if you and your friends would like to join them after take-off,” a pretty flight attendant said, almost apologetically.

Ana groaned.

“They wanted me to let you know you could be a good luck charm for their in-flight poker game.”

“Good luck charm?” Mia chipped in. “That’s outrageous! What makes them think that we want to sit there and watch a boring game of poker while they oggle…”

“We’re in,” Ana said, cutting her off. “On one condition.” She paused, a smile curling her lips. “That I can play.”

***

As soon as the seatbelt sign was off, the flight attendant led them upstairs to the first class private suites, where Blake and another couple of men in sharp suits were already seated at a round table. Their various entourages stood back, looking bored. Chuck and Norris were drinking beer and trying to get the attention of a very striking woman who was busily writing something on a laptop and ignoring them. Blake didn’t bother introducing anyone.

“So you want in,” he said coyly. “Have you ever played poker before?”

Ana cocked her head to one side and twisted a piece of hair around her finger. “It’s the game where you put bets and have to guess what other people have?”

Blake smirked and the other two men ducked their heads so she wouldn’t see the laughter in their eyes. They was going to enjoy taking her money.

“That’s the one, sweetheart,” Blake said. “It’s ten thousand buy in. Still interested?”

Ana nodded. “I don’t have the cash on me though.”

“Got a bank card?”

Ana paused and nodded again.

“She can do the transaction for you,” said Blake nodding towards the woman with the laptop.

“Willow, can I use your card,” Ana said quietly. “I don’t have enough in my account.”

“You’ve got to be joking,” Willow hissed. “Ten grand? No way!”

“Please,” she whispered. “I’ll pay you back. Promise.”

***

Willow and Mia watched horrified as Ana lost pile after pile of chips. The other players didn’t say much – preferring to sip their whiskey and play in silence – but the girls could see them smirking to themselves, wondering why such a pretty – but obviously stupid – woman would want to play poker against pros like themselves.

“I’m going to kill her,” Willow said though clenched teeth, glaring at Ana.

Ana looked up and gave Willow and almost imperceptible smile and a nod of the head.

“Your deal,” Blake said, giving Ana the cards.

The three men, Willow and Mia looked in obvious surprise on as Ana began to distribute the cards as efficiently and effectively as a Vegas dealer. Blake glanced at his hand and shoved a huge pile of chips into the centre of the table, smiling confidently. The other two men folded. Ana looked at her cards and pushed everything she had left into the centre, rapping the table with her knuckles. Call.

Blake turned his cards over, smiling. He had a full house. Ana frowned, and Blake started pulling the chips towards him.

“I don’t think so,” she said, slapping her cards down, face up. “Four of a kind.”

***

The rest of the game was fantastic. Ana ditched the ditzy schoolgirl persona and showed her true colours as a serious card shark. She won every single hand and fairly soon controlled the majority of the chips. Willow and Mia were laughing and high-fiving each other, watching on in delight as the three men squabbled, not understanding how this girl was getting the better of them.

“You’re a lying bitch,” Blake snarled. “You said you’d never played before.”

“No I didn’t,” said Ana, as she placed a straight flush face up. “And that, gentleman, is the game I believe.” She scooped up the huge pile of chips in front of her. “I’d like to cash out now.”

Blake scowled and downed the rest of his whiskey. He muttered something derogatory under his breath, but nodded towards the laptop woman, who handed Ana several wads of cash.

“Well Blake,” Ana said, standing up from the table. “I suppose you’ll need to call your mummy and see if she can get you cast in another truly terribly dance movie in order to pay for your losses tonight.”

Blake visibly brightened. “Ha! I knew you recognised me,” he shouted after Ana as the three girls left the cabin.

***

A few hours later they landed at Heathrow airport. Ana linked arms with her friends as they stepped out into an unseasonably sunny London morning.

“Well ladies,” she said. “Breakfast is on me.”

Gin and Tonic with Mint and Lime

April 19, 2012

There is no better way to welcome in the evening than a gin and tonic. Add fresh lime and mint for an amazingly refreshing zing.

 

Put a generous splash of your favourite gin in a tall glass. Top up 3/4 full with tonic (fever-tree is my fave brand. Yum!). Squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice into the glass and add a wedge or two to taste. Gently rub some mint leaves in the palm of your hand to release flavour and add those. Top off with ice cubes. Enjoy!

Season 6, Episode 1

April 17, 2012

Willow let her hand trail lazily through the cool water, sun patterns dancing across her lightly closed eyelids. The frantic sounds of the late afternoon traffic barely traveled up to the roof deck of Mia’s parent’s modern penthouse apartment, which was located in a particularly swanky area of central Singapore.

The last few weeks had been a total blur and Willow was glad to have some time to do nothing but sleep, eat and lie by the pool. Once the girls had decided to leave Melbourne, there had been no messing around. Within a week they had packed up their house and Ana had handed it over to an agent to rent out. They got tickets, told their respective families and friends, and were on the next jet plane out of there.

Because Mia hadn’t been back to visit her family for many years, her parents invited the three girls to come and stay with them for a few days to break up the trip. They had been in Singapore a week now, and every time the girls brought up the notion of leaving soon, Mia’s parents would say “Just another day or so. We haven’t shown you such and such yet.” Ana and Willow hadn’t put up a fuss. Lying by the pool and drinking cocktails certainly wasn’t a horrible way to spend a bit of time, but Willow was beginning to wonder if they would spend the next year living in the guest wing until they had exhausted every sightseeing opportunity Singapore had to offer.

And then, of course, there was the added difficulty of Dan.

The sound of footsteps padding around the edge of the pool distracted Willow from her thoughts and she opened her eyes to see Ana, a loosely knotted sarong thrown over her bikini. In her hands she held two tall glasses, stuffed full of fresh mint, lime wedges, gin and tonic, beads of perspiration running down their sides.

“It’s cocktail o’clock” said Ana grinning.

Willow paddled her blow up air mattress to the edge of the pool and took a glass, resting it in the built in cup-holder.

“Where’s Mia?” said Ana. “I haven’t seen her all day.”

“Out with Dan.”

“Again?” Ana said. “That’s, what, the seventh date in a week?”

“Eighth,” said Willow. “But who’s counting?”

“I don’t like him,” Ana said. “I get the feeling he’s got a hidden agenda or something, you know what I mean?”

Willow did know.

Dan had turned up – a little too conveniently – at Mia’s parents house the day the girls arrived. Mia had been immediately tongue tied, explaining to the girls later that he was a family friend who had been a year ahead of her at school. She’d always had a crush on him, she told them, but he’d never even known she existed.

Looked like something had changed since those days.

Dan was charming and polite and got along well – too well – with Mia’s parents. He said and did all the right things; wore the right clothes, drank the right whiskey, went to the right clubs, but he was… boring. For some reason though, Mia stubbornly refused to acknowledge that very simple fact, and instead was doing all kinds of crazy things to impress him: wearing dresses, working on her tan and complaining about the humidity making her hair frizzy.

“She’s gone all weird,” Ana said, taking a long sip of her gin and tonic. “Yesterday she asked me which fake tan would be best with her skin tone.”

“What?” exclaimed Willow, horrified.

“Next thing we know she’ll be getting Mani-Pedis in complimentary shades of fuchsia,” Ana continued.

“No way. Mia so isn’t that type of person.” At least, she never used to be, Willow thought.

“I don’t know,” said Ana, “I’ve seen these changes in people before and…” She trailed off suddenly as the door to the roof deck opened.

“Hi,” Mia said. She looked dazzling in a white low cut halter dress, her bobbed hair sitting perfectly. In her left hand she held a beautiful royal blue leather handbag that she definitely didn’t have earlier.

“Is that a new Marc Jacobs?” Ana said, gasping

“Yeah, Dan just bought it for me,” Mia said. “Want to look at it? Although, don’t get chlorine on it. It might damage the leather.”

Mia held it towards Ana, who, instead of taking the bag, grabbed her wrist. She looked down towards Mia’s feet that were daintily clad in a pair of gold sandals.

“I knew it!” she said, pointing accusingly at Mia’s toes. “Mani-Pedi!”

Mia looked embarrassed. “Dan gave me a voucher for a day spa…”

“I wonder what’s next?” Ana said, a tad more nastily than she meant to. “Boob job voucher?”

“Is it so impossible for you to just be happy for me?” Mia snapped. “He’s the first guy who seems to actually give a shit about me and what I want.”

Ana snorted. “He doesn’t care about what you want!” she exclaimed. “He cares about turning you into a trophy girlfriend and keeping your parents happy. Can’t you see that?”

Mia looked as though she’d been slapped, but quickly regained her composure. “I hardly think that you should be the one dolling out relationship advice,” she said cooly. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get ready for dinner. Dan’s picking me up in three hours and taking me to Au Jardin.”

She turned and stalked away from the pool, Marc Jacobs bag clutched tightly in her manicured fist.

***

A few hours later, Ana and Willow had moved to the outside deck that ran around the circumference of the apartment. They weren’t hiding from Mia and her family per se, but they knew no-one ever came out here, preferring to sit inside in the air conditioning. They were onto their fourth gin and tonic each as they formulated an escape plan. They heard the doorbell rang and Mia’s father answered the intercom.

“Dan, come in, come in,” he said. “Mia’s not quite ready yet.”

Minutes later the front door opened. “I wondered if I might have a word with you before we leave for dinner,” they heard Dan say. “In private.”

“Of course,” Mia’s father replied. “Come into my study.”

Ana and Willow looked at each other, horrified. This did not sound good. Ana grabbed Willow’s hand and dragged her around the balcony until they were outside the study, hidden behind the air conditioning unit. They both strained their ears to hear the muffled voices behind the door.

“…makes perfect sense…”

“…a union like this would be best for both companies …”

“… would position us at the top of the market…”

They moved a bit closer, hardly daring to breath.

“…Mia and I should get married as soon as possible.”

They heard Mia’s father laugh in delight. “I can’t think of anything we’d love more than to have you as part of the family,” Mia’s father said. “And it will get rid of all these silly ideas she has of gallivanting around the world with those other girls.”

“I knew there was something suss about him,” Ana hissed.

“Mia can’t marry him!” Willow whispered. “He doesn’t love her.”

They heard the study door open and close, laughter ringing out through the halls as the two men congratulated themselves on a good decision. A few moments later, Mia came downstairs and she and Dan left.

“We have to stop this,” Ana said grimly.

“The restaurant!” Willow exclaimed. “We have to get the the restaurant before he proposes.”

“Wait!” said Ana. “There’s something we need to do first.”

***

The Maitre’D hadn’t let the two girls in the building without a reservation, so they were hidden outside behind a tree, peering in the huge glass windows, searching for their friend.

“There they are.” Ana pointed to a secluded table towards the back.

“What are we going to do?” Willow said. She’d tried Mia’s phone, but it was switched off.

Just at that moment, Dan stood up and walked away from the table. Ana picked up a handful of fallen bark and tossed it at the window next to where Mia sat. Mia looked around startled, wondering what the noise was. Then she caught sight of two people outside, waving their arms like maniacs. She flushed an alarming shade of red, and stood up, quickly walking outside.

“What on earth are you doing?” she said. “Are you trying to humiliate me?”

“No, listen,” Ana said breathlessly. “We overheard Dan telling your Dad that he wanted to marry you because it would make good business sense. And your Dad wants you to accept because he thinks your life is silly and that Dan will talk some sense into you.”

“What?”

“Dan wants to marry you so that his company will do better,” Ana said, slower this time. “He already asked your Dad.”

Mia looked from one girl to the next, confused. “He’s going to propose to me?”

Ana nodded. “But he’s doing it for the wrong reasons.”

“But he wouldn’t ask if he didn’t actually want that” Mia said in a small voice. “People don’t propose unless they really love the person, right?”

“People get married for all kinds of wrong reasons,” Ana said gently. “Besides, would you really be happy with him? You’d have all the fancy handbags and clothes and manicures you could ever want, but is that enough?”

They watched as Mia’s face went through a range of emotions, until she finally dropped her head into her hands. “Oh, I’ve been such an idiot,” she sobbed. “I just wanted someone to love me.”

“Lots of people love you,” Ana said, wrapping her arms around her friend. She and Willow exchanged a glance. Where had that come from? “And we love you more than anyone else.”

“I know,” Mia said, wiping mascara over her face as she dried tears.

“Come on,” said Willow. “Lets get out of here before you change your mind and end up saying yes.”

“Where shall we go?” Mia said. “I don’t really want to go back to my parent’s house.”

“Anywhere we like,” Ana said grinning. “We have a taxi waiting and our luggage in the back.”

***

They tore through the vibrant city, heading towards the airport.

“Stop the car!” Mia suddenly shouted.

“What? Why?”“We just went past a chemist.” Mia said urgently. “We have to stop. I need nail polish remover. I need to get rid of this goddam Mani-Pedi.”