Wednesday 24 November 2010

Leonard Cohen, rice salad and the great outdoors

We went to see Leonard Cohen perform a superb outdoor gig at Hanging Rock on Saturday night. Such a relaxing evening. Good food, beautiful surroundings and evocative music. It was wonderful to see the legendary singer-song-writer enjoying performing so much.

All in all it was a busy weekend. We started by visiting Coburg Night Markets on Friday. They are on in Fridays in November and it was such a lovely night I had to go. Unfortunately so did all of Coburg and surrounds. It was so busy that there were huge queues everywhere.

While E and Sylvia queued for potato chip twists, I queued for tofu and vegetable dumplings. It did occur to me after standing in queue for ages and ages that it would be terrible to get to the top of the queue and discover they weren't vegetarian dumplings after all. The stall had sesame seeds, soy sauce and different vinegars to pour over the dumplings but I just put a bit of soy sauce on the side in the (vain) hope that Sylvia might try them.

Sylvia's dislike of a sauce is a challenge when eating out. I find myself asking for sauce and accompaniments on the side. No fancy swirls and drizzles. We also bought waffles with strawberries and cream but again had everything on the side. You should have seen how pretty everyone else's looked. Sylvia wouldn't eat the waffles but had some berries on the condition that we let her eat them with the fork.

The queues at the market were a good lesson for us the next day, when preparing to see Leonard Cohen. E and some of the menfolk of my family were off on a beer brewing jaunt so my dad picked up Sylvia on the way home and took her to stay with my parents overnight. This left me time to prepare the picnic. It is a rare pleasure to spend time in the kitchen with no child under my feet nor an ear cocked towards the bedroom wondering when she will wake.

I had already bought some falafels from Half Moon Cafe, some corn chips and a block of chocolate. Inspired by recent successes, I made some rice paper rolls and rice salad. The rice salad was inspired by Lisa's Brown Rice and Two-Bean Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing.

Lisa's lime and chilli dressing was quite different to that on my recent rice salad. Hers seemed a little bit Mexican. With this in mind, I bought avocado at the market. When I came home and found the recipe didn't have any avocado, I just followed my own idea of what a Mexican salad might look like. The chipotle chilli pepper that I included in the dressing was very spicy but added a nice smoky flavour. I added some sugar because the dressing was so spiky but it made no difference. Once the dressing had mingled with the salad a few hours it was delicious and it got a big tick of approval from E.

We arrived late to the Leonard Cohen gig. That wasn't so bad. We missed the traffic jams. But it did mean that we only saw half of Paul Kelly's set and everyone else had chosen their seats. However it was quite good sitting high up at the back of the arena where we could see Hanging Rock behind the stage. The volcanic rock was lit up with coloured lights and just added to the atmosphere.

Having all our food in our picnic trolley made for a relaxing evening. No queues. No highway robbery. No eating rubbish. (NB These comments are based on previous experiences because I didn't get close enough to the food stalls at the gig to know what it was like.) The corn chips were a good accompaniment to the rice salad. The spring rolls were refreshing and the falafel was satisfying.

I also brought dessert. As well as a block of chocolate, we had choc chip cookies and fruit salad. The cookies were made without the dried cherries I used in the recipe the first time and substituting a bit of LSA for some of the oats. If you are looking for an excellent recipe, try these. The fruit salad was really made because I had bought a pineapple and then added some strawberries, passionfruit and nectarine. It was all delicious, washed down with classic songs such as Sisters of Mercy, Suzanne and Hallelujah!

Our weekend was finished with a visit to my folks on Sunday to pick up Sylvia. She had had a wonderful time playing with her cousins and being doted upon by her grandparents. You can see by the above photo that their garden is full of colourful flowers - thanks to all the rain we have had this year. Just the place for little girls to pitch their tent! I took some leftover choc chip cookies which was appreciated after my mum's lovely gnocchi in eggplant sauce. A busy weekend and a delicious one!

I am sending the salad to Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen (yes she who originally inspired the salad). Lisa is hosting My Legume Love Affair in November, the event founded by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook to encourage bloggers to to share leguminous recipes.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Mexican Lasagne and our Jetset Baby
This time two years ago: Nut roast with chestnuts
This time three years ago: Novelty Cakes from the Archives

Mexican Rice Salad
inspired by Lisa's Kitchen
serves about 4

½ cup raw brown rice
400g tin of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
kernels from 1 cob of corn
½ red capsicum, seeded and chopped
½ green capsicum, seeded and chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
6-7 large cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 avocado, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp olive oil
juice from 1 lime
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Cook brown rice in boiling water for about 30 minutes or until soft. Rinse in cold water. Add kidney beans, capsicums, spring onions and tomatoes. Make dressing by lightly whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl (or shaking in a screwtop jar). Toss salad with dressing to coat well. Add avocado last and gently mix into the salad. Serve at room temperature.

On the stereo:
Greatest hits: Leonard Cohen


  1. yum!! the cookies particularly!!

  2. It isn't even 9am in the morning here, but my mouth is watering after reading your post. Dumplings, yum, waffles and strawberries, double yum, your rice salad, triple yum! Can I put in a request for you to post your mum's gnocchi and eggplant sauce? I really fancy trying that too :) Hugs to Sylvia xx

  3. what a perfect weekend. I envy you your salads and going to outdoor events. It's sooooo chilly here in England at the moment that it's hot, stodgy food all the way at the moment. And not wanting to leave the comfort and warmth of the sofa in the evening!

  4. How wonderful to see Leonard Cohen in action. Some friends saw him here in the UK last year and said, although in his 70s he was still leaping about all over the stage. Glad you had a good weekend, sounds good and the picnic does too.

  5. Oh, thank heavens there was chocolate involved here somewhere! :P I haven't found chipotle chilies here in Canberra yet but I do love the stuff, so am happy to hear that it exists somewhere in Aus!

    A friend of mine saw Leonard Cohen this year and my mum and brother saw him last year... everyone has said he's amazing, and that he's really generous with his time. Not bad for an older dude at all! :P

  6. What a wonderful evening indeed!!!!! Great music, great food, great company :)

  7. Sounds like you had an amazing weekend! Definitely jealous about the Leonard Cohen concert!

  8. Sounds and looks wonderful. Thanks for your submission and I am flattered that you liked and adapted my recipe. You lucky duck, getting to see Cohen, live.

  9. That looks like a fun night and yes bringing your own ensures that you eat very well! :D

  10. Thanks Carla - yes the cookies went rather quickly

    Thanks Jacqueline - dumplings, waffles and gnocchi is not bad for a weekend's work - and of course I would put the gnocchi in the post to you but customs would probably snaffle it :-) My mum does know how to cook eggplant till it is nice and soft so it was a wonderful sauce too.

    Thanks Nic - I hear it has got very cold in the UK - it was actually very cold once the sun went in because there were so few clouds and that part of Victoria is up high - we weren't as prepared as we should have been and we ended up piling newspapers on E's knees because the rug wasn't covering us enough. Does that make you feel better :-)

    Thanks Choclette - Leonard Cohen's energy was amazing - he did two sets and skipped off the stage at the end of both of them

    Thanks Hannah - had to have chocolate (cadburys black forest if you must know) - and if you have time to seek out chipotle chilli peppers in adobo sauce in Melb (or your brother might) then I think I got them as casa iberica in Johnston St Fitzroy. I hope I have as much energy as Leonard Cohen when I am 76

    Thanks Lisa - indeed

    Thanks Peggy - am glad I had an opportunity to see Leonard Cohen

    Thanks Lisa - as soon as I saw that recipe I wanted to try it and am very glad I did

    Thanks Lorraine - yes a great night and all the better for a well stocked picnic hamper

  11. This is a lovely spread - and the rice salad looks especially tempting.

  12. It's been a little while, but I love the salad and the summer sun (as it's getting cold here). Glad S is doing well despite her sauce aversion. Hope you are too.

  13. Thanks Cakelaw - yes the salad was particularly good with corn chips!

    Thanks Maybelle's mom - nice to hear from you - and happy to share a bit of warmth with you (though today I only have rain to share with you unfortunately) - all good and busy here!

  14. Friends of ours saw Cohen in Vancouver and said it was phenomenal. Love the crowd scene! And your picnic looks delicious, too--I can't remember the last time I had a picninc.

  15. Yumm the picnic you put together looks amazing. Especially the cookies mm.

  16. Oh and rum and yogurt in baked beans?? That sounds so interesting! Too bad it wasn't delicious.


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