About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, May 29, 2006
Herb Me Up Scotty
I must be in a herb phase. After my first entry to Weekend Herb Blogging, it seemed that all weekend, herbs were somewhere or another. Last Thursday, my wife D asked me to bring a bunch of parsley home after work. When I got home she asked me to make Aglio E Olio sauce; well actually she didn't use the beautiful sounding Italian, rather the more prosaic parsley with garlic and chile sauce. It is one of our favourite quick sauces that can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta, traditionally spaghetti.

Put 500 g (1 lb) spaghetti to boil in salted water. If your pasta pot is not too big, it's very important to stir and separate the spaghetti in the first couple of minutes, otherwise it clumps together and doesn't cook properly. Take half a bunch of parsley, strip the leaves and finely chop or process, finely chop one clove of garlic, then warm, oh maybe four or five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pot with the garlic; no frying, only warming. Turn the heat off and add the parsley and as big a pinch of chile flakes (peperoncino) as you like, season with salt and pepper. When the spaghetti is cooked drain and reserve a cup of the water. If like us you have young kids that don't eat hot foods, set some pasta aside and mix with butter and parmesan cheese. Place the rest of the spaghetti in the pot with parsley and oil and mix through. If it's a little dry, add some cooking water.

On Saturday herbs featured again in our very Polish dinner. I had bought some Polish white sausages from Gruner Meat & Smallgoods in St Kilda. Why they are called white sausages I'm unsure, certainly a German weisswurst is white as the name implies, but the Polish white sausage looks more like a bratwurst. It is strongly flavoured with majoram and this is what gives it a Polish identity. D decided to precede the sausages with a soup course right out of the Polish cooking manual. Zurek is the Polish name for the liquid made from fermented rye bread and also the generic name of a soup, otherwise known as White Barszcz. The fermented liquid is a common ingredient throughout Eastern Europe and gives a pleasing sourness, not as strong as vinegar. Another feature of the soup is that it's also flavoured with marjoram, but after that anything goes, with the two most common versions containing either mushrooms or kielbasa (sausage).

Sunday saw us out mushrooming. Mushrooming seems to bring out either the best or worst in people. At one spot we were picking, a man was walking his dog. I felt he was watching, so gave him a friendly hi. He responded, so I showed him what we had got, then we exchanged recipes and he told us of another spot not too far away. He said there were some field mushrooms (Agaricus spp.) in the area where we had just picked. I had seen them, but when they are young there is no difference in the colour of the gills between them and death caps (Amanita phalloides), discretion is definitely better than valour!

Later on, at a different spot, we parked our car on a grass verge in front of a property, being careful not to block anyone's access. After picking for five minutes, I felt we were being watched, and sure enough a women was looking at us from near our car. Rain was threatening, so we were making our way back and the women walked off a little still watching, so I said hi. She started to complain about our car being parked badly. I asked if it was in her way and she said no, that it was just a bad spot and walked off without another word. Sheesh.

Anyway we got home rather late with no particular idea about dinner. I looked in the kitchen and saw the leftover bunch of parsley from Thursday, looked at D, D looked at me, Aglio E Olio it was.
  posted at 10:18 am

At 2:25 pm, Blogger Ed said...

Snap I picked mushrooms too – although I only know how to spot the dodgy ones.

At 7:43 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi ed, the dodgy one are easier to spot because they haven't been picked, especially big red ones with white spots that are featured somewhere or another.

At 1:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an old biddy.

I picked a bunch of mushies in the backyard last week, they looked perfect but smelled dreadful when cooked so I threw them out.

At 10:18 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

I think the white spotted ones were once eaten by various ancient warrior clans mainly in Scotalnd and England against the Romans as a way of gaining the upper hand in battle, sort of sent them crazy, which is weird, because they were bound to not care who they hacked at in their hyper-stupor. Nowadays you can have the same effect just by going to a Rave party, lol

At 9:44 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchen hand, last year we picked some field mushies that were as bitter as all get out; we threw them out too.

Hi pentacular, that reminds me of that old Monty Python English joke, "What did the Romans ever give us, lets see... sanitation, roads, education....!!!"


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