Friday, February 12, 2010
I'm hot. Very hot. Smoking hot. But before you get the wrong idea about me completely, let me reassure you that it's not just me. The kids are hot. The dog is hot. The house is hot. Even the cold water is hot. I'm not joking. Weather wise, February is my least favourite month in Sydney. because it is so stinking hot and humid that to walk anywhere feels like a swim. Picture a city that is completely sweat-soaked, and breathing hard, and you have a good idea of what I see around me.
Poet Les Murray describes this much better than I ever could in "A Retrospect of Humidity":
"the Lycra-bulging surf drips from non-swimmers
miles from shore, and somehow includes soil.
Skins, touching, soak each other. Skin touching
any surface wets that and itself
in a kind of mutual digestion.
Throbbing heads grow lianas of nonsense."
So that's what my head has been full of: lianas of nonsense. Unrelenting rain last week only made matters worse, as the evaporating puddles on the ground have added to the dampness in the air. I know in a couple of weeks, temperatures will subside, the humidity will lift and we will all feel better, but for now, we are all flattened by a steamer.
No surprises then that I am currently drawn to salads. Salads for dinner have been a welcome development in the last few months, made possible because my children have finally moved beyond the "er yuk it's green" stage. (If you listen carefully, you can hear wild cheering from me). I used to find myself picking the finely chopped parsley off pasta in a restaurant because the kids thought green was so contaminating that nothing could be eaten with even a green fleck in it. I slowly eased them into iceberg lettuce ("hey kids, it's just crunchy water"), and from there gradually started expanding the variety of leaves. They don't love it, but they will eat it. The stronger bitter leaves are still a bridge too far, but one they will eat is baby spinach. In case you were wondering, when I first gave them spinach, I didn't tell them it was spinach. I was worried that the word "spinach" would sound kid alarm bells, in a way that the taste would not. I just said it was a "new leaf" for them to try. Worked for me, anyway.
This salad caught my eye in the latest Donna Hay Feb / Mar 2010. It is quick and easy, and with the potatoes, it really is sufficiently filling for dinner. Smoked salmon fillets are available in the supermarket, so your only cooking is the potatoes and beans. The rest can be thrown together. Even the pesto - just use store bought and stir in some horseradish, if making your own seems like torture in this heat. Incidentally, Donna's horseradish pesto was tasty, although I upped the amount of horseradish to give it a bit of extra zing. You won't be surprised to hear that the kids wanted to have theirs without the pesto. No complaints from me: you've gotta walk before you can run.
If you are cooking anything from Donna Hay Feb / Mar 2010 this month, email me or Melinda from Melbourne Larder. We'd love to have you join us on our We Made It challenge.
Salmon and Potato Salad with Horseradish Pesto
adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Feb/Mar 10
750g baby potatoes
300g green beans, trimmed
2 x 200g hot smoked salmon fillets
60g baby spinach leaves
Horseradish pesto, recipe below
Boil potatoes until tender (12-15 mins). Remove from water and cool slightly. Boil beans for two mins until tender (you can use the potato water). Drain and cool slightly. Slice potatoes and place in a serving bowl with salmon, beans and spinach leaves. Drizzle with pesto, and some extra olive oil, if you would like to use it. Serve.
Horseradish pesto: (you can use store bought and stir in some horseradish)
2 1/2 cups basil leaves
2 -3 tbls bottled horseradish, depending on taste (not horseradish cream)
2 tbl pine nuts
2 tbl finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
To make the pesto, put all ingredients, plus salt and pepper in he bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth.