We have had very busy days since Christmas and yesterday was certainly no exception. We drove to the northern suburbs, to Bayswater, to a furniture factory to order a new chair. Diane did the driving of course so after that outing the idea of the impact on the kitchen was too much so a simple pizza was the call.
We always try to keep a Dr.Oetker in the freezer for circumstances like these and he provided a perfect meal with a green salad.
My dear Mother-in-Law, Wanda, refers to yesterday’s dinner as Spa Cuisine because it is so elegant, thanks to her lovely daughter’s superb cooking but it is just the old 2–5 quasi diet that we have only been on these past two weeks.
Diane counts our calories and we eat lightly during the day and finish with a low-cal evening meal in order to keep our count at the 500/600 daily limit; so far it has worked out well.
For dinner Diane fixed us her fried vegetables: capsicum, onion and mushroom. With these vegetables she sauteed in very light oil a small amount, three I think, of prawns (weighed of course) and about six small scallops, also weighed.
It is a nice way of eating because you never feel hungry; the food intake can be varied according to what is in the pantry regardless, broadly speaking, of what it is as long as you keep to the count.
Yesterday evening, after the wonderful FCO concert at the Town Hall, Diane and I plus two old friends went down to the Cappuccino Strip and had an excellent meal outside La Tabella. It was the perfect cap to a perfect afternoon of delicious FCO music.
We did not over order as we were wont to do in times gone by; rather we each ordered one dish. Diane and Joelle ordered the Gnochi finished with a tomato sauce while Kevin ordered garlic sauteed prawns with chips and I ordered Saltimbocca alla Romana. My dish was flattened veal topped with prosciutto and sauteed in a butter/wine sauce. My dish was and interesting take on the name because alla Romana means that the veal is rolled and then gently fried but the chef decided to simplify the dish and keep the veal pieces flat.
Joelle suggested that we order an Australian version of the classic Tuscan Sangenovese and that proved to be a perfect accompaniment to our meal.
Everybody was satisfied with their food and the Freo weather cooperated with a clear, warm evening so a delightful time was passed by all.
Yesterday arvo Diane’s old teaching friend Shelly came by for a BBQ with her husband and two children.
Diane, as usual, fixed a standout meal consisting of three courses with dessert. The First Course: her own dukkak with olive oil and fingers of toasted Turkish bread.
A Second Course of: Chopped Tomato and Crushed Garlic Bruschetta.
A dessert of: Diane’s own homemade Lemon Wattle Ice Cream.
The beverasgesd were varied by light because they must drive home to the hills. The guests and the chef pronounced it a total success.
Last night was quite a rare meal around here; it was a package food which virtually never sees the light of day around Leeming but I wanted to eat what I had ordered several months ago from USA Foods and I managed to convince Di that it was not too caloric.
When I fix dinner it is usually a simple affair and last night was no exception: it was a one course meal with salad.
I have found that Zaterain’s various New Orlean’s food products (there are many of them) are good and I do not think that should I attempt any of the recipes that I have for Rice and Beans or Hoppin’ John as it is known in the southern part of the States that the outcome would be as good as Zat’s.
Although Hoppin’ John can be made with any kind of beans, Dorinda Hafner in her cookery book United Tastes of America, specifies that Black Eye Peas (beans) are the traditional legumes used in the recipe.
Although very traditional I am not sure where it deviates from the Zaterain New Orlean’s version because Hafner’s recipe only calls for brown sugar, butter and parsley besides the rice and beans. I love the New Orlean’s version in a packet because it is so flavourful but of course they do not indicate the spices used in the mixture.
Rice and beans as a mixture and served as a main course is the common food of the islands of the Caribbean; it is the national dish of Cuba so there are many varieties and this New Orlean’s version is just one but as with all traditional food of that city it is particularly flavoursome.
I made a simple green salad to clear the palate afterwards and we had two glasses of a Chardy as an accompaniment.
Friday night is Party Night (2 person party) around the Leeming Johnson’s and last night was totally in keeping with that tradition set many years ago, albeit under considerably different circumstances.
As always Diane was the Chef/Barkeep and I the lucky customer. She began the evening with a superb Maker’s Mark Sidecar with some toasted Turkish bread “fingers” and oil oil and dukkah for dipping. The dukkah was the same mixture that she had made earlier from the native spices that we purchased some days ago in Walpole.
The main course was a simple affair but as with most simple food it was memorably delicious. Diane made her own tomato sauce flavoured with onion, basil, majorum and a sprinkling of chili flakes, served over spaghetti; it was superb.
Accompanying this great main was a perfect bottle of the Illuminati family’s Riparosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
After dinner we enjoyed a nip of Strega, an old (historically speaking) yellow coloured herbal Amaro; the legend is that if two lovers sip it with interlocking arms then they are bonded for life. It sure worked for us!
Last night was the second T of our 2–5 Diet, Thursday, and we had one of Diane’s brilliant, very tasty but low cal meals: female’s get 500 calories and males get 600 per day and we came in right on spec ( the IRA has made me hate the word target for obvious reasons).
Our meal tonight was: grilled capsicum, mushroom caps and halved chicken breast.
They were dressed at the table with chopped chives, parsley and a sauce of Greek yogurt flavoured with Dijon Mustard and all was accompanied by clear water.
Low cal diets are wonderful if an excellent chef like Diane is in the kitchen!
As part of our date at the Northbridge theater last night we enjoyed another great meal at the Saigon Cafe and Noodle Restaurant (you can tell they are not migrants to Australia from Vietnam).
We started with or regular beginners: Fried Wantons and a serve of Prawn Toast (the best I have ever had).
For mains Diane ordered # 93: Saigon Lemon Grass Chili King Prawn and I ordered # 96: Saigon King Prawn in Spicy Garlic &Chili Sauce. We ordered a two person serve of steamed rice to have with the sauce of both dishes that was as good as it was abundant. The Saigon is generous with the prawns in the dish; both of us had about a dozen in each of our dishes.
As a beverage, and no decent meal can pass without it, we enjoyed a bottle of McWilliam’s Chardonnay.
This is an eating plan suggested by Dr Michael Mosley (BBC2 Horizon show) with the purpose to reduce weight and improve general health (cholesterol, blood sugar etc). On this plan we eat normally for 5 days however on two days each week we restrict our food intake. That means 500 calories (2092 kj) for gals and 600 calories (2510 kj) for guys. The two days are not consecutive so we have chosen Tuesdays and Thursdays but we will adjust that to occur on days that we mostly stay home. This plan will suit our lifestyle and allows us to eat sparinigly but well on the diet days. Our first day was January 22nd, 2013. We will report on the results as we notice them!
This evening meal consisted of 100 gr (3 oz) chicken breast each, marinated in crushed garlic, smoked paprika and lemon juice then grilled along with an assortment of vegetables. We used mushrooms, eggplant and capsicum. A tiny portion of a Greek Yoghurt sauce made it taste quite delicious.
Tim built a charcoal fire in our little Weber Smokey Joe. When ready put the paeilla pan on the rack and heat Olive oil. Then add the onion and capsicum.
I like the chorizio hot and spicy.
I cut chook breast into fairly small pieces
Take a break, have a drink and a bit of grilled bread
In this case I use my own homemade fish stock
Have another quick rest. Apply more mozzie repellent
Ah, the cook is happy with the process
The prawns only need 5 minutes so add them when the rice is al dente
If I don’t have fresh mussles I add black olives for the colour
Last evening was a special BBQ; Diane made her signature BBQ meal: paella.
She goes to great trouble to level our little fire-BBQ and I don’t get upset by using too much charcoal for a short amount of BBQing time because the paella needs quite a bit of time considering the initial slow sauteing of the vegetables and then the stock absorption by the rice. Levelling the BBQ is very important because Diane says that it is important so that the rice cooks evenly when this stock is added.
Diane uses as ingredients: olive oil, her fish stock, sliced onion, chorizo, capsicum/bell pepper, prawns/shrimp and small pieces of chicken breast or thigh all flavoured with smoked paprika, saffron and crushed garlic. It sounds a little pretentious but we also use Spanish rice because, I swear, it tastes better than any other that we have tried. The stock she uses is her own seafood stock if she has it but commercial vegetable stock works just as well. For me there is so much flavour in the dish that the stock loses out but the rice is different because its texture is different not the taste.
This dish is perfect for a BBQ because you do not need any sides; it is so filling and flaoursome that they just become extraneous and unnecessary.
The wine accompaniment was the remainder of the previous night’s Languedoc red.