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.
Last night Diane treated me to a marvellous French dinner: Braised Fennel, cubed fried potatoes that was followed by the delicious pork.
The braised Fennel was a delight; she first braised it in a little stock, then finished it in the oven then sprinkled the top of the fennel with Parmesan; it was as good as it sounds.
We like to serve courses rather than piling the plate with different foods. I am not sure where this serving/eating model came from but we find that it fits our dining. It probably comes from our dislike of always trying to finish cooking a meal where the separate dishes need to be timed differently, too much trouble
After the vegetable course Diane fixed a delicious serve of cubed fried potatoes flavoured with chopped garlic and parsley and they were music to my taste buds.
The main that she fixed was an excellent loin of pork that we bought at the Fremantle Markets some days before. It was not the whole loin but the best, most tender section at the very top of the animal’s back. She wrapped this long, narrow piece of meat in bacon and roasted it while basting it several times. That section of pork loin is tender and moist with added flavour coming from the wrapped bacon.
As a beverage we kept the French theme alive with a very drinkable Maison de Parnasse Cabernet Sauvignon.
Diane had prepared an exceptional meal for our enjoyment!