Last night Diane made us a cracker of a diet menu although a person would never know that it was a low-cal meal.
She started the meal with an old favourite: asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. The prosciutto imparts a delicious flavour to the spears as well as giving the asparagus a little moisture from the small amount of fat surrounding the meat pieces. She very lightly fried the wrapped spears.
The salmon was poached in a light Vegeta stock which made the steaks very moist and very tender (even for salmon pieces.)
As a wine we enjoyed two glasses of local Swan Valley Chardonnay which is, in my opinion, under priced for its quality.
Last evening Diane fixed a delicious meal: Nodini di vitello con sughetto di acciughe. We had gone into Perth that afternoon and she stopped at Torre Brothers Butcher in Northbridge and purchased some of their great meat and last night it was as good as their reputation.
This is a Marcella Hazan recipe whose origins, as you probably have already guessed, is Sicilian because anchovies are favourite ingredients in southern Italy, particularly in Sicily. The sauce for this recipe is those Sicilian favourites: garlic, anchovey fillets and chopped parsley.
As an primo piatto Diane made up a serve of sauteed mushrooms followed by cubed sauteed pumpkin.
As a wine that befitted the Italian food, she served a robust Pasqua Valpolicella from Verona, Italia.
This place is always good for a satisfying meal especially on a cold, crisp winter’s evening like tonight.
To begin we always have six Fried Wantons and two pieces of Prawn on Toast accompanied by two generous dipping sauces.
Our mains were Ga Xao Lang (Chicken in Red Bean and Coconut Milk) and Diane had Thai Green Currry Chicken. We also ordered a bowl of steamed rice to marry with the ample sauce served with both dishes.
We had a bottle of McWilliams Chardonnay to complete a delicious meal.
FOOD DIArY: first evening back, Tomato Salsa
Our cruise to Indonesia ended early yesterday morning after three weeks of modest over-indulgence resulting in several extra kilos as well as a desire for Diane’s Leeming cooking. This desire for the simplist of meals resulted in her Tomato Salsa which was the perfect counter to the rich onboard food available on the Dawn. She paired this spaghetti with a full refreshing salad so back to normal!
We have had to slow down with our cooking because we will not be doing the diary for some time and in recognition of that fact last night was a simple affair. Diane just made a pantry (fridge) meal using a sugo that we already had in the freezer; it was just a simple affair of Italian canned tomatoes with chopped black olives plus the juice of the can: simple yet so good on a winters evening.
With this we had the usual salad plus some dregs of wine unfinished from previous meals.
Friday night is Party Night around here.
We tend to eat similar meals fairly close together and we do that because buying our meat at the Fremantle Market means that the packets are larger than normal supermarket packaging. About the smallest that we buy contains enough for four portions over two meals. Therefore, last night Diane used what was left of the package so all of it is now finished and we will be ready to buy more when we restock the fridge later. Here in Australia what the Americans call Round Steak is termed Rump Steak and after all these years I had not worked out where I could find the Round Steak that used to be a standard for college kids and later those of us who love Steak Diane.
As hors-d’oeuvres Diane fixed a little plate of pickled mushrooms, toasted bread and crackers spread with tapenade; all of this was to accompany a perfect Rye Manhattan.
After this delightful entrance into the home of her great evening meal, Diane served us delicious Roasted Fennel topped with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and parmesan.
The next course, because both of us enjoy eating one thing at a time rather than having a plate filled with different items, was a serve of cubed fried pottoes (my Irishness comes out because I love this dish.)
Now the main course: Steak Diane. Diane said she was diosappointed in the finished taste but you could not verify it by me: it was delicious.
Our wine was another West Australian wine from the Great Southern; Old Kent River ’09 Pinot Noir. We bought a few bottles at the winery which is also the local marron restaurant. For those that don’t know, marron are a fresh water crayfish found only in Western Australia and they are superb. It is worth the trip down to Walpole just to enjoy them at this restaurant.
Diane is still on a cooking binge and I an certainly not objecting. Last evening she made an old favourite: Salmon Linguine. I am sure that other areas of this planet have the same product available, salmon off-cuts or small pieces that do not fit in any other product marketed by the company. These pieces are perfect for making a delicious pasta sauce which is exactly what the resident chef made.
We are trying to eat up the bits that are in the fridge before our little holiday and this was a perfect example of what a good chef can do with a minimum of available ingredients. Diane can make this dish blindfolded: she just adds the salmon pieces, saffron and a touch of cream to make the sauce.
We enjoyed, because this is quite a rich dish, the accompanying cleansing salad.
As a beverage we enjoyed a Western Australian wine from the Great Southern: a “He Said She Said” wine that was purchased at the Lake House winery in Denmark this past summer. Denmark is right on the south coast and therefore quite temperate because of its proximity to the winds coming up from Antarctica so their whites are particularly tasty. They call it a Premium White and it was an excellent accompaniment to Diane’s wonderful meal.
Diane made a truly superb meal last evening for our enjoyment.
She began the meal with fried haloumi cheese dusted with smoky paprika and served on Turkish bread; it is hard to imagine a better beginning to a Greek meal.
In my opinion one of the great recipes of world cooking; Garides Mi Saltsa, it has been cooked in our house for close to 40 years and I will anticipate it until the day that I no longer care about food (which means never–I hope.)
It is a simple dish of a tomato sauce where the prawns (shrimp) are sauteed with the feta and wine plus a few fresh herbs: oregano and parsley. I prefer the strongest tasting feta available to you, generally the Bulgarian variety if you can locate it.
Although Diane made this dish last evening, I also always serve it with rice but never potatoes. The rice soaks up that sauce and adds greatly to the deliciousness of the dish. Diane’s rice is slightly different from my method; she adds to the rice while it is cooking while I fry the rice before adding the stock but both methods yeld a great side for the garides.
As a wine Diane opened one of the Greek wines I bought earlier: Mantin Tselepos Classic Mantinia from Rizes, Aecadia. It was a dry white wine that married perfectly with garides. I admit to a great fondness for these Greek wines that are new to me. They taste very different from the other European wines that share our table with various foods; they are like a home after having sold your old one after many years; they just taste different than what your palate is expecting–not worse or better just different.
Diane is still on her cooking blitz and last night she used the remaining puttanesca sauce and again used some remaining eggplant to create a very filling and delicious easy meal.
We had the ever present salad and a few glasses of the remaining wine whose origin I know not but it was red and strong and held its own against the strong south Italian pasta sauce.
Diane is on a cooking blitz and I am happy for her (particularly for me!) Last evening she still had tomato sauce that she had made the night before and I asked her to turn it into a puttanesca by adding some chopped capers, black olives and some chili flakes. We had bought a small carton of olives on special because there were none left except that one but if you read the label they were Genoese small olives much like the small olives from southern France. They were delicious and now we wish that the store, Woolies, would continue stocking them but I think that is a slim hope.
We used the same brand of Italian penne which we both thought was the best pasta that we’ve tasted. I know that sounds strange but with this pasta you can tell the difference from the other pastas that we buy.
The sauce was fairly liquid so it lent itself to being paired with the penne because the sauce was able to penetrate into the pasta as it is supposed to.
Diane sauteed some eggplant rounds then cut them into dices and added them to the sauce. She measures the dry pasta and gives us about 80 grams each which makes a very filling amount for our main course. On cue the mandatory salad followed as a palate cleanser.
Our beverage of choice was a Coonawarra Taster’s Choice Cabernet Sauvignon, inexpensive but a perfect match for the food.