I am aware that “hate” is a harsh word, but here I go.
I hate greed...greed in its many guises; guises that fail miserably at disguising greedy behaviour in all its repulsive forms.
Base greed, impure and disgusting is on display at its lowest and ugliest level every time we see media footage of break and enters; of hooded, masked low-life dimwits who are far too cowardly to show their face as they leap counters grabbing what is not theirs; greedlyraiding cash registers; of staff and shop owners being terrorised.
The gut-churning actions are examples of greed at its worst perpetrated by lazy, ignorant wastes-of-space who are too dumb to get off their bums to earn a living and live a decent existence. They are leeches who live off the blood, sweat and tears of others who have personal pride. Bums who assault and rob from those who care how they lead their lives; persons who care about how they treat those around them.
“Respect” is a powerful word.
Having worked in the hospitality industry for years often I experienced, first hand, greedy patrons. In particular, witnessing the way ill-mannered gluttons behaved when they came face to face with a buffet, turned my stomach. From their actions, I swore they’d never seen food before in their lives.
Staggering back to their table under the weight of plates piled higher than the Empire State Building, unable to wait to begin gobbling the food, so they could race back and do similar all over again, was not a pretty sight, I can tell you!
Hot food, cold food; food that didn’t go together...it mattered not what they heaped on their plate. Greedily, they took as much as they could.
Food, glorious food! Terror alert! Quick - take a load of that; a pile of this! Someone else might get more than they did! Steal the lot!
To make matters worse, it became a competition to see how much food they could put into their mouth in one go.
The image of one particular diner gorging on a buffet at a venue in which I was cooking back in 1997 has, unfortunately, remained embedded in my mind.
More than once he’d been back to load up, but when he noticed the buffet tables and bain maries were being cleared away to allow for the arrival of myriad, deliciously-tempting desserts, with food dangling out of the side of his mouth, I swear, he began to have a panic attack.
Chewing and slobbering, grabbing his plate that still had food on it he raced, at break-neck speed, back to the buffet to see what else he could scrounge.
Was a famine to begin the next day, or was he readying himself to hibernate for the winter? Did he know something I didn’t?
There was no fear of leftovers that evening, not with him present.
He almost fainted when the wide variety of desserts arrived.
Regrouping - another race was on! Off he flew!
When I was cooking at the Town & Country Hotel-Motel, Collinsville, up in the Bowen Basin, the rich, coal-producing area,” Happy Hour” was popular with our regulars, but never as in-demand as it was for one particular couple - both of whom reminded me of garden gnomes!
Every afternoon, without fail, they arrived on the dot of 5 pm; and left promptly at the stroke of 6, after having had more than their share of the abundant, free bar snacks.
My offerings of bar snacks, which were served throughout “Happy Hour” were always plentiful, varied and delicious.
Spending very little money during their on-the-dot afternoon visit, the couple only ever had one drink each while they greedily stuffed their faces.
Their behaviour didn’t go unnoticed.
Fed-up with their blatant, miserly greed, one afternoon, for the fun of it, I decided to bring “Happy Hour” and bar snacks forward an hour.
Upon arrival at 5 pm, the couple got the shock of their lives. Their mouths fell open, but not for the intake of food.
Tsk! Tsk! For them to have missed out on their daily free feed was a tragic disaster!
My purposely not-so-subtle hint managed to hit home, though. It was the last time they partook in “Happy Hour”; no more feeding at the free trough for them
It doesn’t take much to amuse me – then or now! (I'm the clown in my own circus)!
Stuffed Mushrooms: Place rack in centre of oven; preheat oven 200C. Remove stems from 10-12 large mushrooms; chop stems finely. Heat 2tsp olive oil in pan; cook stems, 5-6mins, until reduced by about half. Combine half block cream cheese, 1/2c packed chopped spinach, 1tbs minced garlic, red chilli flakes, to taste, 2 finely chopped shallot stalks, cooked mushroom stems, salt and pepper. In bowl, combine 2tbs breadcrumbs, 1tbs grated Parmesan, 1tbs finely chopped parsley and 1/4tsp granulated garlic. Arrange mushroom caps on baking sheet; spoon filling into cavities; sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over each; drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake until mushrooms are tender and filling is heated through, and golden on top, about 12mins.
Spinach Balls: Preheat oven 204C. Drain 300g drained steamed or thawed frozen spinach; set aside. In pan, heat 2tbs olive oil; sauté 1/4c finely chopped onion until translucent. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves; sauté until fragrant. Add spinach; toss to combine. Remove from heat; place in a bowl; allow mixture to cool slightly. Add 2c herbed breadcrumbs/panko, 1c grated parmesan, 6 beaten eggs, 3/4c soft butter, salt, pepper, 1/2tsp chopped thyme; toss until well combined. The mixture will be wet. Scoop mixture into heaping tablespoons; roll into balls. Place on a greased baking sheet; bake 25-30mins or until the balls are golden.
Kumara-Avo-Bacon Bites aka Sweet Potato Avocado-Bacon Bites: Preheat oven, 200C. Bake 4 thick-cut bacon rashers; drain; dice. Increase heat to 218C. Line 2 baking trays with foil; brush with olive oil. Cut 2 unpeeled kumaras into ½ to ¼-inch slices. Arrange slices in single layer on trays; brush tops with olive oil; season; bake 20-25mins, until gold underneath. Flip slices over; roast further 8-11mins, until golden. In bowl, combine 2 avocados, diced, 1tbs fresh lime juice, 1/4tsp salt and 1/2tsp smoked paprika, or cumin; mash lightly, leaving slightly chunky; set aside. Transfer kumara slice to serving plate; top each with dollop of avocado mixture, chopped bacon and chopped coriander; serve warm or at room temp.
Parmesan Sun-Dried Tomato Palmiers: Lay sheet/s of ready-rolled, thawed puff pastry out on a well-floured board; and then sprinkle evenly with drained, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely, grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves and plenty of black pepper. Carefully roll up both of the long sides of the pastry until they meet in the middle. Brush the area between the two parts of the roll with a little egg; push the two parts together so they stick. Chill whole roll/s for at least 30mins. Heat oven 200C. Remove the pastry roll/s from fridge; slice into roughly 1cm-slices with a big sharp knife. Carefully place slices on baking tray/s lined with non-stick baking paper; brush tops with egg. Bake 10-15mins until palmiers are puffed and golden. Cool slightly on the tray; serve warm.