A few weeks ago I invited some of my best humans to come over and break in my new couch. Even though I had moved in months ago I’d kept delaying making the Facebook event because once things are Facebook official there’s no turning back. Most people wouldn’t stress this much over having friends over but I didn’t want to do the whole chips and Coles dips and BYO poison of choice affair. I’d always wanted to cook on a grand scale for a large group of people and this was shaping out in my mind’s eye to be the perfect opportunity. I had grand visions in my head of trying my hand at slow-cooked beef ribs made into gua baos, of even making the dips and of revisiting my own personal hell that is dessert baking. The week prior to it, I was even suckered into buying by a $100 (RRP $200) Baccarat Roast and Grill by a pushy middle-aged sales lady at House in Broadway Shopping Centre for the slow-cooking – can you smell the desperation of how badly I didn’t want to suck at this? Thankfully it all went off without a hitch and thank the heavens for my favourite, favourite Natalie who came over around midday and really brought everything together. To the seasoned chef, this post is going to be absolutely ridiculous as I marvel over obvious kitchen revelations and whinge like a greenhorn over things like having to be standing and cooking for close to seven hours. Please humour the amateur.
I’d staggered buying ingredients over the course of the week because of work and because I didn’t want to cave in under kilograms of groceries that I should’ve been able to carry if I didn’t skip weights at the gym so often. . The biggest haul was on the day itself where I woke up 6-7 am and trekked it to Broadway. After stopping at Target for a quick homewares purchase, hitting Coles for almost everything and chatting up the butcher for some great beef ribs, my arms are carrying at least 20 kilograms of items. If I was experiencing cognitive dissonance over the gym bag I had bought last week, it instantly dissipated when I realised it could carry a cupcake tray, 2 kilograms of beef ribs, cans of stock, tomato puree, 2 kilograms of potatoes and a bag of onions. It was only my back that was crying just a little bit. I actually ended up cabbing home which is something like a three-minute drive by car but an excruciating and never-ending crawl if I were to lug it all home on foot.
Once I arrived home, what basically ensued was being in and around the kitchen from the hours of 9 am to about 4 or 5 pm. I definitely dramatised my experience by propping up a large drawing pad and writing down the times I would be cooking what and my rough idea for their presentation. It was almost like Masterchef except I was my own contestant and judge.
I first started off with desserts because the ribs were going to take up the oven for the rest of the afternoon. While the desserts baked, I moved onto the dips. Shortly after this Nat arrived and we made a lunch of eating residual dip left in the hand-mixer jar, before she started on the potatoes and I, the ribs. The ribs were going to be the centrepiece of everything, I had insanely high expectations for it to turn out well. If it did fail I would probably just call Eagle Boys for seven cheese pizzas – one for my guests and six for me and my feelings. Hours later, you can check out the results of our hard work below!
I made an avocado salsa dip and basil pesto dip. The initial plan was to complete the trio with a french onion dip but I realised very quickly that ain’t nobody got time for that.
Nat’s rendition of Jamie Oliver’s lengendary thrice cooked roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary as the flavouring. I bought the roasting potatoes at Coles but these turned out to kind of shrink and be a bit crumbly? Never the less I think they were the most amazing carb dish that night, two kilos of this disappeared way before anything else.
Nat’s Asian slaw! Super tangy and delicious, I’m not sure what she put in it but it was all to taste so there is actually no recipe. I love slaws that are sweet and a little bit sour but also very, very crisp and not ladened down with mayo or cream.
Nat’s turmeric rice. Really fragrant and delicious, it was such a fluffy bundle of joy to open this up when the rice cooker finally buzzed.
And lastly, my pride and joy and baby about to be eaten, slow-cooked beef ribs. Butchered (ba-dum-tss) a Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver recipe to pull this together. It involved searing, stewing and four hours of roasting in the oven before it got to fall-off-the-bone texture. The boys definitely appreciated the meat to fat ratio.
The final feasting also had these steamed gua baos which we bought frozen from an Asian grocers (never making them from scratch again), and a roast chicken that Kevin thoughtfully stopped off early to buy to boost the offerings on the table. Nat also brought a Thai curry she made the day before, actually the best curry of hers I’ve ever tasted. She makes her own spice pastes, going at it with a mini pestle and mortar on her kitchen floor.
People are eating! And having fun! I could have cried.
More eating happening on the other side of the room!
Photo by Robert Newey
One of the desserts that night is Nat and I’s super easy, super awesome lemon tart. I don’t mean to toot our own horns but seriously, this is the second time we’ve made it for a big group and it always gets positive reviews!
Photo by Robert Newey
I also made boozy vanilla and peach vodka cupcakes. Some people laughed at the alcohol content but I assured them some went into the batter and some also went into the icing. My piping skills are obviously shot but I swear everyone on the internet lies when they say a ziplock bag does the same job as a piping bag and nozzle. Icing also kind of melted a little from the heat of the kitchen before I had the sense to pop them in the fridge.
And that concludes all the food bits of my housewarming! We ended the night stalking people’s attractive relatives on Facebook and watching every single episode of Rich Asian of Vancouver. Once again, muchos gracias to Nat the best chef partner-in-crime and calmer of Sam’s hysteria I could ever hope for. Our Kitchen Rules!
I used to wonder what often possessed my grandma to religiously cook large dinners every single day for the family. She would slave over various stoves for hours in her afternoons, producing at least three dishes plus soup for an average weeknight meal. For the special occasions you can expect six or seven and sometimes two soups, one more kid-friendly than the other. My grandma truly does enjoy cooking but more than that she loves the family and the people she cooks for. And I think years of consuming her labour of love has ensnared me into the kitchen as well.
It’s really a wonderful feeling to see people eating and enjoying something that you’ve made. I am really glad that I finally committed to this event. With food being such a main focus on this blog, you can bet I’ll be trying to up the ratio of homemade eats to plain eating out restaurant reviews. Because aside from working at a food stall, I think cooking also really informs me of the intricacies behind the practice, basically that it is serious freaking hard work. People shouldn’t just celebrate the pretty Instagram-worthy result on their plate, but the labourious process of creating food. To everyone who attended my housewarming, thank you so much for coming guys! To everyone reading this and wasn’t invited, awks.