What I’ve been up to lately and what’s on my fridge.

My last week has been very busy with cooking.  I’ll be having some friends of French descent over this Friday night as a pre-Bastille Day celebration.  There will be 10 of us in total, and I want to make sure that the food is of a standard that my friends have come to expect from me.  I usually don’t make meals of the same ethnicity as my guests as I know that they will be comparing what I’ve made to what they grew up with. 

One of my pet peeves is the way how Italians crap on about food and their mother’s cooking.  So many Italians, I have met seem to think that not only their mothers are the greatest cooks in the world, but also that Italians are the only ones who know how to cook.  I am so over the idea of the integrity of ingredients and the simplicity of flavours that I hear so many celebrity chefs on television harp on about.  This Eurocentric chauvinism about food seems to deny the validity of complex flavours developed in the east, such as Indian and Thai cuisine.  I just won’t have it.

To all you Italian guys out there, who were always going on about your mother’s food, get over it and move out on your own!

This now brings me to the French. Sure enough, some French food is fantastic but to be quite honest, I’m not interested in eating so much offal and saturated fats.  I remember being quite shocked when I first looked in the bible of French cuisine “Larousse Gastronomique” at how much butter, cream and guts there was in so much of the so-called traditional French cooking. 

I keep on hearing about how the French eat these high saturated fat meals, and that they have a low incidence of heart disease in their country.  Some say it’s the red wine that is drunk with the meals that is helping ameliorate the effect of such a high-fat diet.  I think the reality is, that years and years of eating high fat food has killed off all the generations of the people who can’t metabolise so much fat and what is left is a country that is populated with people who are genetically engineered to efficiently process fat.

As for me, I have been genetically engineered to efficiently accumulate fat so my body can produce cholesterol and store it for hard times by lining my arteries with it.

Since I am getting together with my friends for, what is essentially a French celebration, I thought I’d put aside some of my fears and prejudices and cook them a French meal.

Whenever I cook a dinner for a large group I always test the menu two or three times beforehand to make sure I don’t have any surprises on the night. Since I wanted to avoid fatty foods I thought I’d cook fish dish of John Dory with shellfish, saffron and merguez broth. Sure enough there was cream in the recipe, but I used about a quarter of what was specified.

Quelle horreur!

John Dory with shell fish saffron and merguez broth on wilted English spinach

The end result wasn’t bad, but I felt that merguez overwhelmed the lightly flavoured fish.

Since trying my hand at the French sea food meal, I was asked by a friend of mine who is a professional chef to help him with the preparation of some Indian dishes that he wants to serve at his wedding in November. So I spent the whole of Saturday with Mark at his place, cooking enough food to totally stuff 20 people.

The Razzbuffnik at the food processor

 The idea of the dinner was to trial a variety of foods and then give a questionnaire to our 20 guests to see what they liked and didn’t like.

The food for the main course

 There will be about 150 guests at this wedding and it looks like Mark has made quite the rod for his back considering that he wants to do all the cooking. I have foolishly offered to help. It looks like it’s going to be one hell of a day.

Mark, his friend Ed and Sonia the bride to be

On Sunday, my wife and I had a really lovely day sitting out in the backyard reading the weekend paper and drinking vodka martinis. Although it’s winter here in Australia, it’s not that cold, and since we light up the chiminea, it’s quite comfortable to sit outside all day.

A perfect Sunday

Because I have discarded the idea of serving fish for my French friends, I’ve latched on to the idea of preparing poulet chasseur (hunter’s chicken). I spent Monday, trying out a combination of recipes, and I think I’ve come up with something that my guests will hopefully like. I’ll post photos and the recipe after the dinner.

Over the weekend I’ve been listening to Bebo & Cigala on their album Lágrimas Negras

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This last picture is in response to Pat Coakley’s question, What’s On Your Refrigerator?

what is on my fridge

The stuffed toy is the amazing, everlasting and very cantankeous “Magic Pudding” character from Norman Lindsay’s children’s book of the same name. The black dancing figure, magnet, is of Kokopelli a South Western American fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player who is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music

7 thoughts on “What I’ve been up to lately and what’s on my fridge.”

  1. I’m in Provincetown library three stories up overlooking the harbor with wireless! Yea! I can see I’ve got some readin’ to do when I get back and have more time. But, for now, my my my Chef Razz. And that Magic Pudding character looks like something you’d see INSIDE my refrigerator.

  2. Sweetiegirlz

    Consider yourself invited.

    It’s tomorrow night (10th of July at 7:30 pm, don’t forget about crossing the dateline and how it affects the calculation of time), not much time to organize tickets and pack but if you turn up I’ll make room for you at the table.

    For diner we will be having Celeriac Bisque as entrée
    Poulet Chasseur as main
    Pomme Galettes Flambé with Calvados Sorbet for dessert.

    My oenophile friend suggests that a pinot noir would go well with the meal.

    Be there!


    Be some place else.


    Yes you do have some reading to do. I always look forward to your comments. By the way, feel free to drop around for dinner tomorrow night as well.

  3. Razz,

    what can I say? I love your theory about the French fat genetics. Classic. Can’t wait to tell the ever-growing-Monsieur!
    Dying to hear how dinner goes tomorrow. Sorry I wasn’t able to be of more help… La Belle Mere was in town and that can be very high-maintenance indeed. Just coming back down to earth now. Anyway, the menu looks FANTASTIQUE, et Bon appetit to you and your friends.

  4. I don’t get an invitation? I suggest a dessert flambe for my favorite pyromaniac and I get no love in return? I think you might be forgiven (MIGHT) if you posted a list of your favorite world music pieces. I enjoy widening my horizons and you seem like the man who might be able to help me along those lines. How about it? Classical music works too.

    I feel strangely hungry… I wonder why.

  5. I am simply taken with the care you put into this meal. The testing it beforehand, the tailoring the menu to your guests and the pre-dinner thought that goes into it. You look like a happy, happy man in your apron. Your guests must feel every bit of this care. PS. That John Dory thing? That looked wonderful but I have no idea what Merquez broth tastes like. I think you explained it in a prior post, but I forget. All I know is that if I’ve got this Australia vs. Eastern US time thing right, it is just about dawn on your dinner day.

    I know this shall be a success, just on spirit alone. But, I think your guests are in for a grand evening. I am going to catch up on your other posts while you and Mrs. Razz are twirling and swirling those magic plates. Enjoy. I speak for all your blogger friends: WE CAN”T WAIT TO SEE PICTURES and Post party tidbits. And, oh, yes! We wish we were there, too!

  6. Epic.

    I’ll put some photos up tomorrow. I just bought a new camera so I’ll be trying it out. I’ll just have to stay away from too much wine (a nice little pinot noir from Tasmania) and calvados.


    You didn’t get an invite because you said you can’t leave town because of a geriatric dog. As for the music, I’ll be posting much more in the future. I will give it to you a little at a time which will give people time to assimilate it and think about it. Lists are here today and gone tomorrow. One of the intentions of this blog is to turn people onto things that I think are good.


    My friends deserve good treatment for putting up with all my bad behaviour in the past. They also know better than to try and be slack when they invite me around for dinner. All joking aside, most of my friends are very good cooks and I’m just trying to keep up with them.

    Merguez are spicy but not all that hot. I put up the recipe a little while back,


    If you read the ingredients you may be able to imagine the flavour. Think Moroccan or north African flavours.

    And hey yeh! I’d love to have you three over for dinner sometime.

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