Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jam Dougnuts and African Food - PMG loves the Queen Vic Market

I live in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I love my city. I love it for lots of reasons but I'll start with just two of them - The Queen Victoria Market and jam doughnuts. The fact that you can buy the doughnuts at the market makes the whole deal even better. And once you bite into the golden, chewy, sugar drenched dough and feel the lava like strawberry jam blister your lip you will be smitten - guraranteed. And you will agree with me that these are the best jam doughnuts IN THE WORLD!

Feel free to argue but my mind is made up, and has been for a very long time. Besides, I'm sure there are lots of jam doughnuts out there but none of them would be made in such a great looking van. I'm convinced that the van adds something to the flavour, I wish they made mini replicas of them. It's such a familiar, comforting sight every time I go to the market and always makes me feel good, even when I'm in a long queue and praying that the doughnuts won't disappear before it's my turn at the window. When this happens, (and it will unless you are always up with the larks), you will actually elicit genuine sighs of sympathy from fellow Doughnut Van Fans when you regale them with your sad tale.

For those of you who don't consider doughnuts to be real food I did buy some other goodies, including these beautiful chillies for $2.00 the lot. Their shine and colour conned me even though I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with them. I'm thinking of some type of sauce. Any ideas?

I also found some red palm oil, an ingredient I had never heard of until last week and when I did I thought 'where the heck could you buy that?' What a dummy - finding an ingredient in Melbourne is pretty much as easy as pointing your nose in the right direction. In this case I practically fell over it.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Mr PMG gave me Maeve O'Mara's Food Safari Cookbook for Christmas. Oh my - within a few pages I was itching to get cooking. If you find your cooking is a bit jaded or you're in a bit of a creative rut then this is the book for you - it will really fire your imagination. With recipes from thirty four different countries it really is like a bit of a treasure chest and every time I look through it I'm constantly trying to put the different flavours together in my head, wondering what a completed dish tastes like. It's inspiring.

Countries are listed alphabetically so the book begins with recipes from Africa, a cuisine that I knew nothing about. Along with some herbs and spices, Red Palm Fruit Oil is listed as an essential flavouring which is how I recognised it when I saw it in a little shop called Tribal Tastes, situated in the food hall at the market.

The very friendly and knowledgeable owner, (whose name I am sorry I didn't get), gave me lots more information about the palm oil and told me that her husband featured on the Food Safari series, contributing the recipe of Jollof Rice. How serendipitous was that! I bought a bottle of the oil for $15 and am planning to make the Jollof Rice soon, it sounds delicious. It's a dish from Senegal, containing fish, rice and vegetables with a chilli, tomato and capsicum sauce - maybe that's what I can do with those chillies.

If you don't have the Food Safari Cookbook, you can find the recipe on both the SBS and Tribal Tastes websites. Tribal Tastes also has an online shop if you want to make it and can't get to their shop.
All this talk and still no dinner. I bought some fresh flake fillets (say that quickly) and capsicum, zucchini and potatoes. I might just flour the flake and fry it (I know, too many effs) and then cook the capsicum, potatoes and zucchini but I don't want them all mushy so I might cook them separately and then sort of stew them together with some wine and olive oil. And hope that works.
From the food hall I also found these great little herb and garlic dinner rolls which were priced by the kilo, something I have never seen before. For $3 (half kilo), I got ten rolls - good deal.
I guess with all those types of flavours we're probably looking at a bit of an Italian inspired dinner, something that nobody could complain about that's for sure.
I am now officially starving. Something about the words fish and fry in the same sentence. That and the fact that it's been several hours since I ate an undisclosed quantity of my favourite jam doughnuts. Fan that I am of their many restorative and recuperative powers, one of their limitations is that they do not ever qualify as dinner - but only because they've shut up shop by