Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roasted venison served with herb and garlic infused potato au gratin

Something different tonight, thanks to my father in law coming home with packs of venison for dinner and it was very nice too, very easy to cook also, which is always a bonus!
To compliment the venison I prepared a potato bake consisting of both nadine and sweet potatoes, these were baked in a creamy sauce infused with thyme, rosemary, garlic and roasted pine nuts, and I also served the meal with green beans.
The meat was taken from the rump of the deer, and it was very lean and dark red in colour.  Before cooking I patted the meat dry with paper towel to remove any excess liquids.

The creamy sauce for potato bake takes about an hour to prepare, and then a couple of hours to bake the completed dish, though you can do this earlier, and then reheat as when you need it.  To make the sauce combine 2 cups of milk, a cup of cream, 6 garlic cloves (bruise them first), a sprig of rosemary and a couple of sprigs of thyme and a quarter cup of freshly roasted pine nuts in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for twenty minutes, and then set aside for 30 minutes to allow flavours to infuse.  The creamy sauce smells fantastic at this point, it had my mouth watering!  Whilst the flavours infuse, slice the potatoes thinly, use a mandolin if you have one, I don’t so I just sliced as evenly as I could.  I almost forgot, you must remove the solids from the sauce before using in the baking dish.

Prepare the baking dish by greasing it with butter, then layer with potatoes alternating with the nadines and sweet potato, adding a little of the cream sauce to each layer and seasoning as you go with salt and pepper. I used 4 large nadine potatoes and 1 large sweet potato, which gave my about three layers of each.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 90 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C, then remove the foil and bake a further 30 minutes.

Once you have removed the foil from the potato dish, it is time to boil the water for your beans and heat you ovenproof pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and 50g of butter.  Once the butter begins to foam in the pan, add the meat cooking it 2 minutes each side, and only turn it once.  When the second side has been cooked place the pan into the oven and roast for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven, cover and rest for ten minutes.  Whilst the meat rests add the beans to the boiling water and remove the potato bake from the oven, allow to cool for a couple of minutes before plating up.
Slice the meat on the diagonal and place on a warm plate with the potato bake and beans, spoon a little of the buttery sauce over the top and sprinkle with a few pine nuts.

Bon appetite! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Roasted capsicum and tomato antipasto salad

In 2007 Jo and I hosted Christmas Day for the Murphy clan for first and only time, it was also the first time we had invited the entire family to our new home, which had just turned a year old the month before.
Now the Murphy clan is large, well huge in fact, in 2007 we numbered around 96 including Mum, her 12 children, their spouses, children and grand children.  As luck would have it, there were only 30 unable to attend lunch that day, leaving 66 of us to share in what we all hoped would be a lovely and memorable day.
I don’t think I need to explain the amount of work and preparation needed to go into hosting lunch for 66 people, to make matters worse, I let Jo talk me into having her traditional roast lunch, which meant having both the oven inside and the BBQ outside fully cranked churning out roasted meats and vegetables, nothing like a hot lunch on a summers day, right!
As it turned out, this Christmas Day 2007, turned out to be Perth’s second hottest on record at 41 degrees, it felt more like 46 with the heat generated by the oven and the BBQ , it was insanely HOT, we sweltered as the air-conditioning could not keep up inside and with so many people, we had tables set up outside on the patio for lunch, the heat all but ruined the day, it was dreadful.
Being as hot as it was, as well as the roasted vegetables, we had salads mostly brought along by my sisters and sisters in law, but there was one that I recall making myself that was so popular I have been requested to make it each Christmas since, as well as for other family gatherings we have enjoyed.  And really it is not meant to be a salad at all, but an antipasto dish which is meant to be eaten with crusty bread and sliced ham or salami, but I make it as a salad to complement both roasted and BBQ’d meats, as well as hams and salami’s, it is my roasted capsicum and tomato antipasto salad and it truly is to die for!
There are so many layers of flavour in this salad, the way it is put together ensures a good combination of flavours, so when you are spooning some onto your plate, take that second spoonful you were thinking to take, just to ensure you get to experience all of them.  The following makes a large salad so if there are only a few of you half the quantities, but then again there is nothing like tasty leftovers is there?
For salad
4 large red capsicums
2 large yellow capsicums
4 vine ripened tomatoes, the riper the better
6 semi dried tomatoes, patted dry of oil and thinly sliced
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp capers
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 garlic clove very finely sliced
A bunch of basil, try and get young leaves

For dressing
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil
1tsp lemon juice
Some chopped fresh herbs
Salt and pepper

To make, start by roasting capsicum in an oven set to 200C for 40 minutes, I make it with 4 large red and two yellow, you can use green to, but the flavour is a little on the bitter side.  Once the capsicum is roasted place them in a plastic shopping bag, tie the handles off and set aside until they have cooled off, once cool remove the skins and break the flesh into ¼’s removing the seeds as you go.
Whilst capsicums are roasting prepare all other ingredients, the herbs I use for the dressing include 1-2 teaspoons each of fresh oregano, basil, mint, chives, sage all of which are finely chopped, it is best to put the dressing on an hour or two before serving, this allows he flavours to intensify throughout  the dish.
Now everything is ready it is just a matter of putting it all together, in the past I have just combined it all in a bowl, mixed and then spread out on the serving plate, but I find it is better for both presentation and flavour development to layer the ingredients starting with a row of tomato, then red capsicum a little bit of this and a little of that, then a row of tomato, followed by yellow capsicum and so on.  If you make the salad early, leave adding the dressing until a couple of hours before serving.
Be warned, once you make this for family and friends, they are going to want it again and again!

The Murphy Clan since 2009, celebrate Christmas as a family the week before Christmas Day, gathering at one of the siblings houses, this year we are celebrating at my sister Cecilia’s and her husband Tony’s home, this evening in fact, we are expecting a small gathering of 73, yes I am taking my roasted capsicum and tomato salad, just hope I get some before it all goes!
Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hoi sin pork salad

Driving home from work on a Friday evening when my wife rings to see where I am and to inform me she still has to shop for dinner and is not sure what to have, just by the tone in her voice I could tell she really did not have her heart in preparing the meal, it has been a long week after all!

So much so that I really was not in the mood for spending a lot of time in the kitchen either, but I offer to do the shopping and see where we go from there. Walking around a well stocked grocery store full of the freshest vegetables and a great variety of quality meat selections, it was not hard to find some inspiration and in a matter of a few minutes I had shopped and was on my way home with all the ingredients I needed for a very easy Friday night meal, which took 40 minutes to have on the table, the oven done all the work and I was left with only one pot to clean and a couple of plates, way to go Jack!

Preheat oven 200C
500g pork fillet
6 chat potatoes
4 ripe vine tomatoes
A bag of mixed salad leaves
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp good quality hoisin sauce

Cut and quarter the potatoes length wise, pat dry with paper towel and coat with olive oil, spread out evenly on baking paper in a roasting dish, place tomatoes in corners of the roasting dish, then place on middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes.

During this time lay the pork fillet out, pat dry with paper towel and brush with hoisin sauce, bring the pan out of the oven add the pork and cook for 12 minutes, then turn pork coat with a little more hoisin and return to the oven for 12 minutes. Rest pork for a few minutes whist you place the salad leaves on the plates, crush and spread roasted tomatoes over the top then the potatoes, finally slice the meat and pour some of the pan juices of the top, bon appetite!

Tomato Frittata

Best thing about Saturday morning is having the time to potter around the garden doing a bit of watering, then coming in to make a scrumptious breakfast that is just what I did this morning, very lay back and relaxing and a great start not only to the day but to a five week break from work!

I, like most people loved Saturday mornings as a kid, at the time there used to be a song played almost religiously by most radio stations it had line that went “It's a Saturday morning confusion, If you think you can sleep, it's an illusion”

That song pretty much summed up my childhood home in East Perth, a very averaged sized house which bulged at the seams on Saturday morning with 12 kids running riot, playing the Stones on the record played, jumping and yelling and dancing and fighting, dogs getting underfoot, Mum yelling from the kitchen that breakfast was ready, trying to get her voice over the record player and now the TV that someone has just turned on, total mayhem, chaos in fact, but oh so much fun.

All the same, that said, I am so thankful for the easy going, peaceful Saturday morning such as the one I have enjoyed today, even the bloody dog over the back fence has been hushed, hopefully for good!

Frittata, for the uninitiated is basically an omelette that has savoury stuff in it which is baked in the oven, it is very easy to make and so very yummy to eat. Obviously the main ingredient is egg, then after that you pretty much throw in whatever you like or have on hand. I threw in whatever I had on hand this morning which include a French shallot, ½ a red capsicum finely sliced, a tablespoon of fresh oregano, all of which I cooked in a little olive oil until soft, I then added six tomatoes which I had cut into quarters and a tablespoon of chives. I cooked the tomato until it started to breakdown and lay a little flat, at this stage I plucked the skins away from each quarter and added a good sprinkling of salt and ground pepper and a little more oil. Whilst the tomatoes were cooking I prepared 6 six eggs whisked in a bowl with a ¼ cup of cream and a ¼ cup fresh chives, after spreading the ingredients in the pan out as evenly as I could I poured the egg mix over the top and cooked that on the stovetop for about a minute, then the pan went in the oven for 7 minutes, just long enough to set the egg and make it golden on top. Served with toast and coffee, it is a great start to any day!

Funny thing that happened at breakfast today, I always cook Jo 2 slices of toast and she always eats one and puts the other on my plate, which I usually don’t want, today I did however and I even went to the point of asking for it, only to be told “no you can’t have it, these tomatoes are so yummy I want the toast for myself!”, they were good!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Caramelised pork with five-spice broth

There is something about Asian food that heightens the senses, walking down Williams St in Northbridge or any other area where there is a high density of Asian peoples and restaurants, gets the old tastebuds going and has my mouth watering.  The aromas and sights, the people moving hurriedly along the streets as they go about their business of sourcing the best products for the evening meal, men on the sidewalk calling the price of broccoli and onions at a yell, cars parked haphazardly along the street and in driveways, all of this just adds to the experience of eating and enjoying good quality simple food, so full of flavours.  These are some of the memories that I enjoy when I cook something like caramelised pork with five spice broth, one of the simplest meals to prepare, but one where all you can think of is sitting down to eat it each step of the way.  Pork basted with hoi sin sauce roasting in the oven, whist ginger, garlic and five-spice are sauté on the stovetop herald the senses into expecting something good, something special, it is time to eat!
Caramelised Pork fillet is the champion of this dish, the hoi sin caramelised outer and juicy succulent flesh is superb, then that simple broth adds so much more depth, the fresh spring onions, coriander and chillies round the meal out as they add a bit of crunch, spice and flavour.  Just sitting here writing about this dish makes me want more, but then it really is one of those meals, that will always have us come back for more.
For 2 people you’ll need
300g pork fillet
1 ½ tbsp hoisin sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand is the best!)
Brush pork all over with hoisin sauce and place in oven which has been preheated to 220C, bake for ten minutes, then turn over, brush a little more hoisin and bake a further ten minutes, rest for 5 minutes in a warm place before slicing.  Prepare 100g flat rice noodles as per packet directions.
For the broth, heat a teaspoon of sesame oil in a pan, then add 20g sliced ginger, a crushed clove of garlic and a ¼ teaspoon of five-spice, cook for about a minute.  Add about 50g of coriander stalks along with 1 litre chicken stock and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, bring this to the boil and simmer for five minutes.  Strain the broth to remove ginger, garlic and coriander stalks, return broth back to the pan and add a bunch of baby bok choy and cook a further two minutes.

Divide the noodles, bok choy, broth and pork between two bowls, top with coriander leaves, finely sliced spring onions and sliced chillies, then enjoy whichever part of the world the wonderful flavours and aromas take you too!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beef Wellington, for one or two!

I have been wanting to try doing Beef Wellington for some time now, but most recipes I have seen have been to cook a big lump of meat, which means having a few people over and then I would worry that it wouldn’t turn out too good etc etc
Anyway today I happened across a blog which inspired tonight’s dinner, Individual Beef Wellingtons!  Wished I had thought of that, but no matter I have been inspired by other’s ideas before today!  Whilst the blog I read had a recipe, I thought it needed a bit more than what was listed, so I took the meat and mushrooms from it and then made my own version from there and it worked out not too bad, made a bigger meal than I intended but it was full of great flavour and yummy crispy pastry on the outside, teamed with a gravy packed full of flavours, some mash potato and green beans, we were in Jo’s idea of heaven!

If you want to have a go at my version, here’s how I went about it.
2 Scotch fillet steaks, about 130 grams would be good
2 sheets puff pasty
300 grams field mushrooms
1 tbsp lemon thyme
1 clove garlic, sliced
30 gram butter
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 cup stock
2 shallots, sliced
2tbsp mustard, I used Australian mustard, but think Hot English would be better had I been able to get it, you could use either Dijon or horseradish cream also, whatever you prefer.
1 tbsp gravox
1 egg
Preheat oven to 220C (200 fan forced)
Melt butter in a pan over medium heat, cook the mushrooms with the shallots, garlic and thyme for a few minutes, then add ½ cup of the red wine, continue to cook until wine has reduced or evaporated.  Transfer mushrooms to a bowl, lined with a few sheets of paper towel, bundle up and squeeze as much juice out as possible, reserve juice and put mushrooms into a food processor with the parsley and blitz for a couple of minutes to form a loose paste.
Reheat the pan and brown the steaks all over on a high heat, just enough to seal the meat, remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Lay a sheet of pastry out on a cutting board and spread ¼ of the mushroom mix over the centre, about the size of the steak.  Spread mustard of one side of a steak and turn over and place on top of mushies.  Now spread mustard over the top, then the other ¼ of the mushie mix. Wrap the steak up with the pastry, trim away the excess and seal the ends well.  Use the left over pastry to put a little motif on the top, I did a leaf design, which turned out to look like a mull leaf!! (now there’s a thought) , brush the pastry with beaten egg and place in oven on middle shelf, cook for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Meanwhile, pour the mushroom juices back into the pan and add the other ½ cup of red wine and the stock, cook over high heat until reduced by half, thicken with gravox, add more water if required as needed, I used the water from the green beans to add further flavour.  (You could use plain flour or cornflour instead of gravox as there is enough flavour as it is, gravox made it a lot richer)

Serve immediately, with vegetables or salad

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lamb roast

Lamb roast, Tom Cruise eat your heart out! I had my wife eating out of my hands tonight and you wouldn’t have even got a look in if you know how my wife loves her roast & gravy – excuse me...I meant gravy & roast!
Well I only left the PC to go pick my sisters up from the airport and my wife seems to have taken over writing my blog for me, thanks darling, I’ll take it from here!

I had the best afternoon cooking, apple pie, cauliflower au gratin and a yummy roast, enjoying a few Corona’s and Michael Bubble` in the background, great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Yep did a lamb roast tonight, and quite differently to the traditional roast my Mum makes, and it turned out amazing, the lamb was super tender and the gravy was outstanding.  I cooked the roast in my big scan pan oven, with the lid on and with a half cup of stock and a kilo of tomatoes around the meat. 

The meat literally melted in your mouth and the juices made the best gravy ever, once the meat was cooked I poured the juices through a sieve, to remove the tomato skins and seeds, this also puréed the flesh of the tomato.  I then put the pan on the stove and brought to the boil and let it simmer a few minutes to reduce to a little and added 2 tablespoons of gravox mixed in a cup of water, to help thicken it a bit more.
To accompany the lamb I roasted, Potato, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Baby Carrots, I steamed some Beans and made a Cauliflower and Broccoli au Gratin, which has a very tasty cheese Mornay sauce.  The Potatoes were dusted in a curry based dukkah, which made them awesome!

I have a very big belly now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baked barramundi with fennel, mint and capers

I was sitting at my computer eating lunch today and chatting with my work mate Dave, when I asked what was for dinner tonight, he answered he did not know, and then went on to say he had been to the fish monger in Fitzgerald Street to try the barramundi I had told him about a couple of weeks back.  The memories come back to me of the meal I cooked and I got to thinking I wouldn’t mind having that again and I knew Jo would be happy to have it as she raved about it last time.
I could not remember all the ingredients I would need to do the dish so I googled “barramundi, white wine and capers” which produced no less than 24,300 pages, the second or third one down grabbed my attention and upon opening and reading the recipe and seeing the content of the pages within, I thought, bugger it I am going to give this one a go, the fact the blog started out with the sentence “Here's a dish you can make in half an hour flat from prep to dish”, sealed the deal.
There was no photo of the prepared dish, apparently the food was devoured before the cook got a chance to rattle off a couple of snaps!, after eating it I understand why, but you don’t need photo’s to cook do you?
Oven ready, looks great already!
The dish as the author had stated took no more than 30 minutes to prepare, cook and plate, I took a couple of minutes to get the snaps and as you can see it made a great looking meal, but better yet it was a great tasting meal, just the thing for a Friday night after a very busy week.

Fish on a Friday night used to be common place, now most, only follow this trend through Lent, if at all, which is a pity because fish really is so easy to prepare and so good to eat!
The recipe for this dish can be found here, the site is well worth having a look through, enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pho Gai

In the past few weeks I have made a go at a few Pho Gai’s and actually commented to Jo after the last one that I would like to find a good recipe to really nail it and I have come pretty close tonight with this dish.
Pho Gai for the uninitiated is the Vietnamese equivalent of chicken soup, pho meaning soup and gai chicken, bo is beef and thit cho, dog meat, good one to avoid, though I know a dog close by that I would like to put in a pot of broth!!!
I found the recipe whilst looking for the actual recipe Bella wanted yesterday, which I am still to find, and found it like last night’s recipe on the junior masterchef site.  I find that a little funny because I am a big MC fan, but did not watch much of the junior series as I don’t think kids that young should be in the kitchen and put under so much pressure, let them be kids for God’s sake I say!  But here we are and I have now had two fantastic recipes from the show, two nights running, so it might be worth having a little bit more of a look see, maybe it is that these kids were cooking a little closer to my level!
Anyway back to the pho, I was really wrapped with it, the flavours were absolutely spot on, and as Jo said with her first mouthful, “that just took me back to Ben Thanh Markets in Ho Chi Min City”, the only thing missing was the humidity, the noise, the smells and the beggars!  But it was nice to back there, even if only for a fleeting moment in our memories!
This was a bit more effort than what I have gone to in the past few weeks, having started the chicken stock from scratch, but it was great to put it together and see where and how these fantastic flavours come from, though for when I want to come on a week night and make a quick bowl of Pho Gai, I intend to make a mega proportion of the stock next time and freeze until it is required, then it will be just a matter of throwing a few vegies and noodles in a bowl and ladling the heated stock over the top, now that’s an easy mid week meal!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Herb crusted lamb with stuffed mushrooms and roasted potatoes

I actually asked my wife to cook me dinner tonight as I was feeling a little worse for the wear from a late Tuesday night, but unfortunately for me my wife was a little worse for wear than I, so it seems and I got told “no way”.
Funnily enough a few minutes after this conversation had taken place my sister Bella phoned me with a few PC problems and one thing lead to another as it does, and I was then asked if I could find this recipe for herb crusted lamb.  I found the recipe, quite easily and having seen it decided that we would have that ourselves tonight, so I sent Jo the shopping list for the ingredients , so all I needed to do was put it all together on arriving home.

I phoned Bella after dinner to let her know the recipe was a beauty and the lamb was the best, absolutely to die for, as were the mushrooms, it was then she let in on the fact that I had sent her the wrong recipe after all!
But I am far from disappointed, it was so tasty, the herb crust really was delicious and the lamb so tender, I could not stop myself from cleaning up the herbs on the baking tray, this is one meal that will become a regular in this household, and the mushrooms are perfect for an entree or as party food, and it was so easy a kid could do it!
If you'd like to make it part of your repertoire, you can find this very simple recipe here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Amuse` ( I think)

Just home from a long awaited event, an evening dining on the creations of Hadleigh Troy @ Amuse (there should be one of those little French things `over the e, but I am not clever enough to do that, yet) and now I know.., no understand what all the talk has been about, in a word unbelievable, truly, unbelievable!

I booked our place at this event some months ago, keeping it as a surprise for Jo, and right up until we entered the restaurant she had no idea of where she was going, or what to expect, I on the other hand knew exactly where I was going and only dreamed of what I might expect! 
But then I have dreamt of dining at this establishment for some time now, I walk past the doors to this restaurant every day and I look to see if I can see anyone that works there, it is bizarre, but I do.  I have been taken by the place since the neon sign out the front first appeared, in the most unsuspecting place you could think of.
I have known this place since I was a child, and since that time it has been of such little consequence, an old terrace house from my earliest memories and later in life, the location of a really good Indonesian restaurant, that I cannot name, but the food was good.
Then one day this sign Amuse` (I think that might be it) appeared and it has had me intrigued ever since, right up until I learnt what Amuse~ (I think that might be it) was really all about, well that is an overstatement really because I really didn’t learn what Amuse` was all about until this evening, and even now I think I have only learnt half the story!
Ok, I have had a few wines and probably not enough food to absorb that what has been drunk, but I think what I have said is true, I will explain, if you give me the time!
You see the food at Amuse` (I am just going to go with this from here on in, you can laugh if you so desire) is the most amazing food you could ever imagine, true there is not a lot of it on each plate, which is so delicately placed in front of you, but there is so much on that plate it is truly unbelievable and I am phucked if I know how they do it!  But by Geesus, I cannot wait to go back!
This evening was a promo sort of thing by others outside of Amuse`, parties interested in good food and good wine, the wine in fact was provided by those interested parties, and damn good wine to, from a winery steeped in family tradition, wines that my own true love enjoyed so much that I sit here by myself eating last night’s left over’s (and they weren’t bad either) whilst she is setting a crescendo of ZZZZ’s in the background whilst I tap away at the keyboard!
I really am finding it hard to put into words what I have taken from tonight, which is strange, because what I have taken with me will be with me forever, and as of yet I have not yet mentioned the company to which I got to enjoy, to experience, this wonderful event with, and before this evening I had not met these wonderful people before, I can only hope I have the privilege of meeting them again, with a little luck, no I think we would need a lot of luck, it would be sharing a table at Amuse`.
Thank you Hadleigh and Caroline for a wonderful evening.
Thank you Franklin Tate for the wonderful wines.
Thank John Maiorana for the wonderful opportunity.
Jack and Jo x
Restaurant Amuse on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chicken mushroom parcel

Decided to try something a little different tonight and I am not entirely happy I did, mainly due to being very frustrated thanks to being unable to separate sheets of filo pastry, very annoying.  I did manage in the end with some help from my gorgeous wife Jo, and once separated it became quite easy to do.  Was a little surprised with the amount of butter used to spread between each sheet of filo, I don’t think this recipe would make it between the cover of a Weight Watchers magazine!

The filling of chicken breast, mushrooms, Romano cheese and thyme was very nice, though I think I will use a different cheese if making again, maybe substituting with gruyere or better still fontina.
I roasted potato, sweet potato and carrots to go with the meal along with some steamed green beans and asparagus.  Whilst I was happy with the end result and combination of flavours, Jo would have preferred a little gravy over the top of her chicken parcel, but these few things I will take on board and maybe incorporate into the next effort, if I can bring myself to battle against the filo pastry again!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Midweek Dinner for Two

Crispy skinned Barramundi and King Prawns with a Capers and White Wine Sauce

A few months back a mate told me about this fish monger in Fitzgerald St, North Perth, saying it was a pretty good shop with great seafood, I said I’d have to stop by and try them out, shouldn’t have been too hard after all, I drive past the front door three nights out of five on my way home!
Well it has taken me a few months to actually pull over and go check out their wares, but tonight I did and I was happy I had, they do have some great stuff, a large variety and it is all nice and fresh.  After examining the several display fridges I decided on a couple of fresh barramundi fillets and a few fresh king prawns, because they looked so good.
Having brought the fish I spent the rest of my drive home wondering how I was going to cook and what to have with it.  Several ideas sprang to mind, but it wasn’t until I pulled into Balcatta Fresh on Karrinyup Road that I formed a better idea of what I would do, and that was only after lots of toeing and throwing! 
I walked out with a bunch of white asparagus, a head of broccoli, some fronds of dill, a carton of cream and the idea that I should be able to knock up something half decent with the ingredients I had in hand.
Jo had a big day, up at six to start in on a few orders for work, before getting out amongst her customers, and then called in to accompany her Mum to her specialist’s appointment, and then she rang me about 6:30PM to say she would be a bit late as they had been held up.  Which was fine by me as I had everything prepared by then, so all I needed to do was cook the seafood and finish the sauce when she got home, I was also able to clean up, do the dishes and set the table whilst I waited for her.  Given her big day, I decided to make it a bit nicer than usual, put a bottle of wine in to chill and played a little music, I think she was pleasantly surprised when she walked in and was instructed to sit ready for dinner.

I actually felt a bit like Hadleigh Troy cooking this meal, I was so prepared for a change, and the white wine and capers sauce turned out a treat, even Hadleigh would have been chuffed with that!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beef pot roast

In the year 2000 I was living with my 20 year old son in Thornlie, and relatively new to coming home to cook each night, to say we had some interesting meals would be an understatement, but at the same time we had some humdingers too!
One such meal was beef pot roast, the first time I tried this I arrived home with a piece of beef and no idea how to cook it, so as I often did I rang my Mum and asked how do you cook pot roast, after her explanation I set about cooking my first pot roast, but couldn’t help thinking it sounded a bit plane Jane.  To jazz it up a bit I decided to put some onions into the pot, then some capsicum and then celery, a drop of wine and a pinch of this and a pinch off that.  That was ten years ago now, my son turns 30 in a couple of weeks, my doesn’t time fly when you are having fun!
Tonight I decided to try and recreate that tasty meal, and I have come pretty close to it, if my memory serves me well, I know I have done a few things different, but then who can remember exactly what I did 10 years ago when nothing was written down, there wasn’t time it was all we could do to get a meal on the table, eaten and cleaned up before bed time!
The first thing different tonight was the cut of meat, a 750 gram Virginia Roast, it was labelled and it was completely fatless, now I know fat is not good for you, but it does carry a lot of flavour!  The next major difference was the use of red wine, something never thought of back in Thornlie, didn’t quite make the shopping list due to budget constraints!  The last thing I can remember that I did differently, was not thickening the pan juices tonight, but rather had them just as they came out of the pot.
The overall result was great, very tender meat, in some very tasty juices, even the slightly burnt roast potato and sweet potatoes couldn't detract from what turned out to be a great meal, very yummy, not much room for apple pie tonight, best have a smallish slice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dusit Thai - Green Curry Chicken

Back in March 2005, Jo and I had meal in celebration of my twin sisters birthdays, at the Dusit Thai restaurant in Northbridge, Perth.  It was a very memorable night for many reasons, for one the food at the restaurant was some of the best Thai I have ever eaten, the restaurant has won several Gold Plates and many other awards.
Then there was the bottle of wine we took along to enjoy with our meal, I gave the bottle to the waiter and he seemed to take an eternity to come back with it, when he did he had mentioned it was very hard to open.
The wine within was divine, one of the best Cab Sav's I have ever enjoyed, it was only after my nephew read the label that we realised the wine to be over 15 years old, and it had aged beautifully, and a bottle gifted to me from Jo's sister for Christmas 2004.
The other memorable thing from that occasion was my being so taken by the Green Curry Chicken, always one of my favourites and this one, if not the best, was definitely amongst the best!  I had mentioned this to our waiter and commented that I would love the recipe, he responded by telling me that I could enrol for a cooking lesson and not only get the recipe but be shown how to cook it perfectly.
So on that last day in March 2005, I enrolled for the one and only cooking lesson I have had in my life, I cannot remember what it cost me, but it was worth ever penny, not only for that recipe, but for the knowledge of what exact ingredients to use and where to buy them in Perth, and the place to buy them is still my favourite Asian store, fantastic store run by fantastic people!

I cooked that recipe a number of times in the next few months after my lesson, then we packed up and moved house, three times before settling in our current home, and somewhere along the way with all the packing and unpacking I lost that recipe, devastated as I was, I had faith and believed that one day it would come back to me.  Jo was going through some stuff recently and she come out with the recipe in hand asking "do you still want this or shall I bin it?", I quickly took it from her and put it back in it's rightful place and very happy to have it back, stains and all, ... it has been laminated now and so I should have it forever more!
I brought that recipe out tonight and made that curry for dinner and it was just as I remembered it, fantastic!  Though, I followed the recipe a little too closely, so it was a tad too spicy for me, and so much so for Jo, she could not eat all her dinner, so next time I will leave the red chilli's out all together!
Dusit Thai March 31 2005 - there was a lot less of us back then!
Dusit Thai on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rigatoni, pork sausage, sage, tomato, garlic and chilli

Playing catch up today, after a week of not feeling on top of the world, thanks to my Sydney flu!

 I loved making this dish, the flavours whilst cooking had my mouth watering from start to finish, and it was so awesome to sit down and eat.
It always seems the simpler the pasta sauce recipe the better the pasta sauce, and this one makes no exception, the flavours from the sauce are incredible and very it is very hard to say no to a second serving.
I made a slight adjustment to the recipe, pulling back a little on the chilli flakes, I only added about ¾ teaspoon, instead of the 2 listed in the ingredients, and am glad I did as it was quite spicy and had it been any hotter, would have been too hot for our liking.
The pork sausages come from our local IGA store and they are the best, we will often have them just panned fried on a weekend with a light salad, they are very good tasting sausages, put them in a fantastic sauce like this one and you have to end up with a great meal, just be sure there is plenty of crusty bread on hand

Roast pork chops with apples, onions and sage


Found this recipe interesting due to some of my favourite ingredients, pork, sage and apple.  It also reminded me of a Donna Hay meal I blogged a couple of weeks back “cider glazed pork” and I somehow expected it to taste much like it, but it was quite different really.

I think this dish is an ideal summer meal, the flavours were light and refreshing and great for the fact that it was an easy meal to prepare and quick to cook.  I served the meal with Brussels sprouts and green beans and these went well with the apple and pork, I really enjoyed mopping up the tasty sauce with some crunchy Italian bread.

If you would like to try it for yourself you will find the recipe here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicken and Pasta

It was nice to be home again tonight after having a lovely weekend away in Sydney for a wedding.   For the past four days it seemed like all I did was eat food, read about food and eat some more, and the food at the wedding was amazing, plenty of it and very well done from start to finish.
We started off with a huge antipasto plate, followed up by a very tasty mushroom tortellini and for the main it was either a rack of lamb or a chicken breast with camembert cheese.  
I had the lamb and it was so tender, table etiquette went out the window a little though when I picked up and chewed the bones, it was very nice.  Jo had the chicken, which she enjoyed very much, the dessert included spearmint ice-cream, chocolate mousse, a chocolate coated strawberry and a little lemon curd tart, to say we were full after all that would an understatement.
We stayed with our friend Princess Mary’s, at her place in Willoughby, which is a great location being close to the city and surrounded by fantastic cafes and restaurants.  Mary has a library full of cook books, which kept me busy and I was able to nick a few recipes from the wonderful collection of books, just hope I can read my writing ok now!
As nice as it is eating out and being waited on is, it was great to get home tonight and prepare dinner for Jo and myself, it was nothing to fancy though, as we have not shopped and there is little in the house.  I made a very simple tomato sauce, following a recipe I pinched out of an Italian cookbook, unfortunately I cannot remember what it was called, but the recipe looked simple but tasty and that is exactly what we got.  I crumbed some chicken to go with it, using fresh breadcrumbs and adding a tablespoon of fresh lemon thyme, salt and pepper, a ¼ cup of grated pecorino cheese, a tablespoon of dried Italian herds.  For the sauce I minced a small onion and cooked it in oil over a moderate heat until it was translucent, then added a minced stick of celery, a handful of chopped parsley and a crushed clove of garlic, mixed in with the onion and cooked slowly for 10-15 minutes.  Whilst the celery was cooking I dice up ten very ripe tomatoes, these where added to the pan along with a generous sprinkling of salt and cracked pepper, after mixing the tomatoes in with the other ingredients, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once the sauce is cooked remove from the heat and stir through a handful of freshly torn basil. I cooked up some spaghetti and once cooked drain the water off then stirred through half the sauce, then placed the chicken on the pasta and spooned more sauce over the top.  A very simple but tasty dinner!
Thanks for having us Mary, and for the fantastic recipes, can't wait to try them out!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken wrapped in prosciutto with roast veggies

Dinner tonight was inspired by a Donna Hay recipe I found on her WebPages, I say inspired because I did not have the correct ingredients and so improvised a little here and added a little there, the result was a very tasty, easy to prepare meal, just the thing for a Wednesday night when you have a bag to pack and a few odd jobs needing attention.

Donna’s very simple recipe called for a few sprigs of thyme, not having any I went with some freshly picked rosemary, which is simply placed on the chicken breast, which is then sprinkled with salt and pepper and finally wrapped in a slice of prosciutto. 

The breasts are then placed in a dish and, doused with a little olive oil, I also sprinkled a little dukka and fresh parsley over the top, the dish then went into an oven preheated to 180C for twenty minutes.   To accompany the chicken I roasted vine ripened tomatoes, potato and sweet potato, which I coated with some olive oil then coated in a little French onion soup mix, this is a great way to have roasted veg and for some green I steamed Brussels sprouts.

For a sauce I brought a quarter cup of dry white wine to the boil to which I added a tablespoon of red currant jelly, then lowered the heat to simmer, reducing the wine by half.  Added a cup of chicken stock and brought it to the boil before reducing to a simmer and adding a heaped teaspoon of eggplant chutney.  After the chutney has cooked for a few minutes, mash with a fork, then thicken sauce with a paste made from cornflour and water.

My father in law watched on as I prepared the meal and was very excited to see we were having that stuff again, because he enjoyed it the last time he had it, he was speaking of the prosciutto and I can’t blame him for getting excited as the flavour is awesome!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strawberry Shortbread

Surprised myself this morning when I entered the world of baking again so soon after a very trialling day yesterday, but I did have some strawberries I brought to do this shortbread tart and with having guests for dinner every night I haven’t been venturing to far of the beaten track in the kitchen, staying with tried and tested meals such as prawn saganaki (Sept 7) and kotopoulo tava (Aug 3).

I have found it funny redoing these meals, my memory does not serve me so well and I have been reading and reading recipes thinking “I can’t remember that”.  It really shouldn’t surprise me that much as I had a dance teacher once who would often pull aside his more advanced students before a class and ask them to show him the steps to one dance or another, as he could not remember the sequence of steps.
Well I danced around that kitchen this morning, cooked up a yummy breakfast for Jo and myself and then started in on my shortbread crust for my strawberry tart, and it was quite simple really, though I seemed to have made a lot of mess for such a simple little tart, so I hope it tastes good enough to be worth the effort, but it won’t matter really, because this was more about the cooking than the eating, nice way to spend Sunday morning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

I have never made lemon meringue pie before, as a child I watched as my Mother would make it a hundred times over, and I never got tired of watching the meringue coming out of the oven, all fluffy and looking so good all you wanted to do was eat it.  I have never tired either of the way a lemon meringue looks when cut into a slice ready to be served, the crunchiness of the crust, the bright yellow of the lemon and the fluffy white meringue with brown tips on top, amazing looking dessert.  Having said all of that, I can never remember being a big fan of eating lemon meringue pie, odd but true, it is a bit like people who love to fish but hate to eat seafood, could never understand that.

Just as I could never understand why I was overcome this afternoon with a blonde moment, it came a few minutes after what looked like the perfect pie crust came out of the oven, I was very proud of it, it looked so good, brilliant really for a first ever effort, well I thought so anyway!

Then came that blonde moment, I thought to myself, “self, that looks great, but it would look even better if it stood alone, without the pie dish to hold it in place, as it sort of gets in the way of its visual beauty” so I proceeded to turn the pie dish upside down, gave it a gentle tap, and yes you guessed it, I had one smashed up mess on my workbench!  Lesson learnt!

A new pie crust is in the oven and it is going to look great in the pie dish, right where it is meant to be, just hope it tastes as good as it is going to look, as I am baking it for my Mother in Law, who is in hospital recovering from brain surgery, funny, half an hour ago I was thinking I needed brain surgery! Move over Mother!  Anyway, since deciding to make Mother a lemon meringue pie, I have learnt that she makes a mean pie herself, so mine better be good!

Part 2

I learnt another thing this afternoon, if you drink three cups of brewed coffee and then eat the left over meringue straight out of the bowl, you are going to be jumping out of your skin, hyper man is what I am!

Pie crust take 2
Anyway it is ok to make mistakes, this is how we learn, and the second pie crust looks even better, and should be better too, as I found the original not to have been cooked all the way through.  I also learnt a new setting on the oven which ensures the base of the pie dish gets more heat than the top, and I left it in a little longer too, so fingers crossed it will be perfect!

The recipe said to let the lemon filling cool before filling pie, mine was very cool, not sure what the go is with the meringue though, seems to be so much of it, nice and fluffy though, it is looking great!

Apart from the 3 cups of coffee and the sugar hit from left over meringue, this had me jumping out of my skin, looks awesome, I have never seen a meringue this high before!  I am HYPER MAN!

Straight out of the oven, not bad!
It was looking pretty good straight out of the oven too, then I took to it with my new toy, a gas torch my SIL Pammy gave me as a gift this morning, guess I had to try it out, was a bit shocked when me bloody meringue caught fire though! I can tell you, but all was OK I blew it out quickly and the end result was not too bad for a first attempt I am happy!  

Mum's never looked like this!  Where did all that meringue come from?

All that is left now is to taste it, but unfortunately that is going to have to wait till after dinner tonight!

Well it was a fifty fifty verdict with the taste, some said spot on, whilst other said it need to be a little more tart, for me it was spot on, but then I don't get to vote!

The pie crust was awesome!