FOOD DIARY: The saigon Cafe & Noodle Restaurant

We enjoyed the entree’ that we always order and always anticipate because they are so good: the  especially the Prawn Toast  and the Fried Wontons.

As a main Diane ordered #37 Vietnamese Fried Kway Teow and I ordered #115 Ga Xao Lang (Delicious Chicken in Red Bean and Coconut Milk.

As a beverage we also sprang for a bottle of McWilliams’s Chardonnay.

The food was as good as the play.

FOOD DIARY: Roasted lemon and bay scented cod

There isn’t a salt water cod in cooee of Western Australia but thanks to people’s desire to make money we can buy flash-frozen North Sea cod at our local frozen fish shop and last night it proved its worth as a meal delight.

It was my turn to cook and it wasd day two of our 2–5 Diet and Diane asked, very reasonably, if we could vary our choice of fish on these diet days.  In Ainsley’s great low fat cookbook he has this recipe which we first tried on 5/11/04 and we should have been eating it faer more regularly since then but alas there are too many good recipes in too many cookbooks but I will try to return to his recipes far more often.

His recipe is very easy: Diane noted when she first made it in ’04, “Out of this world aromas!” because of cooking the cod pieces on a bed of lemon slices covered with fresh bay leaves (of which we have in the back).  The meal began with Di’s sauteed sliced fennel which wasd a superb accompaniment.

Our beverage of choice was a second bottle of that wonderful Houghton’s Chardennay Verdelho that graced a previous meal.

FOOD DIARY: Asian Stirfry

Last night was a non–Diet meal but we still returned to a low–cal diet book that we bought years ago:  Ainsley Harriott’s, Low Fat Meals in Minutes which is an excellent source of diet meals with strong flavour   Last night Diane made “Prawn, Mushroom and Bean Sprout Noodles and it will be a normal meal all the time, at least if I have much to say about it!

At 497 calories this barely fits under Di’s whole day calorie allowance but Monday is a non-diet day so all is well and the meal tasted wonderful!

We shared the remains of a bottle of Houghton’s Chardonnay Verdelho which matched the stir fry perfectly.


FOOD DIARY: spaghetti bolognese with gigli pasta

Last evening Diane used the ragu bolognese of which she had made extra to marry with that robust pasta shape that we had tried for the first time several weeks ago: pasta gigli the shape of which, at least to me, marries better with a heavier pasta rather than spaghetti. The upshot was that I thought the marriage was extremely successful; the ragu clung very well with the ins ‘n outs of this pasta shape.

I was wrong when I wrote several days ago about the fact that ragu bolognese had no tomatoes in it–in fact it has two full cans of chopped tomatoes with their juice. After the five hours that the sauce cooked I could not taste any tomato. This time at my request Diane added some pasata to thin the ragu and I thought that it tasted better than the original ragu.

Real ragu bolognese is too rich for my taste but when it was thinned out as she did it worked a treat.

As always she made an excellent cleansing salad and we had two glasses of a “Clean Skin” inexpensive red wine as our beverage and an excellent meal completed an excellent day.


FOOD DIARY: Naked Pizza, San Daniele

I took the easy way out last night: Diane’s delicious ragu the previous night meant that an easy option was the only reasonable route to take as a follow-up to her meal.

We tried to our sorrow this different pizza but the good Doctor’s pizza has become the staple in our house and the one by which all others are measured.  The toppings were good but as you know there is no way to mess up good ingredients; ah, but the true measure of a pizza is the dough for the bottom and the Naked Pizza missed the boat on that account and that mistake sealed its fate.

Diane’s cleansing salad was fulsome and the two glasses of unremarkable red wine completed the post-dinner parts of the meal very well.  

FoOD DIARY: ragu Bolognese

Our eating of ragu Bolognese can be attributed to the Queensland meat market in the Fremantle Market because they sell the best minced beef in Western Australia and had it not been for their excellent beef mince we would not have enjoyed one of the great dishes of Bolongna.

Diane  studied cooking in Bologna some years ago and she recounts that their ragu is very dry because tomato passata has not made its impact in the north as much as it did in the south so tomatoes do not play the role that they do in northern Italian cooking. Italian cooks can tell from a recipe’s ingredients whether the dish is from north or south.  This was a classic Bolognese recipe and it was a little too dry for me; I much prefer the wetter southern Italian sauces but Sunday Diane or I will use her sauce but with a little added tomato liquid to thin it out slightly.

Because Friday night is our Party Night she began the festivities with a delicious Wild Turkey Rye Manhattan and a little plate of nibbles: pieces of toasted bread, pickled mushrooms, and dried olives.  She found an inexpensive but none-the-less satisfying ’11 Chianti: Borgo SanLeo from Gambellara, Tuscany which was a wonderful accompaniment to her Ragu Bolognese!



FOOD DIARY: baked salmon

Last night was the second night of the 2–5 Diet so we had a piece of salmon rather than the normal white flesh fish.  The method was the same: a bed of sliced mushromms upon which the salmon pieces rest; then the chopped shallots are sprinkled over and heated stock is poured into the bottom.  The baking generally takes about 15 to 20 minutes at 180 degrees depending on the thickness of the piece of fish.

There is always a green salad with the fish with all the tasty bits removed: olives, croutons, avocado but it is still a cleansing end to the meal.  The beverage is lemon flavoured water that is very good.


FOOD DIARY: Pantanella Gigli pasta (lily shaped)

Last night was Di’s night to cook and she used a new pasta shape that we had never seen before; it is Tuscan pasta, gigli, shaped according to Wikipedia, like the lily that is the symbol of the Tuscan city of Florence. It is worth seeking out because not only is the shape interesting but the Pantanella brand of semolina pasta tastes very good to me better than the other brands of dried pasta available.

The few references to gili pasta that I can find in my cook books indicate that it should be served with penne sauces or sauces that are substantial. For instance last night Diane made a delicious sauce of salmon pieces, cream and saffron and it married perfectly with the gigli. This sauce is fairly robust and therefore adheres to the rather interesting shape of the pasta; it has a surface that is more conducive to the adherence of the cream much like a farfalle rather than a penne which would be better suited to a tomato based sauce which would be more liquid and thus penetrate to the interior of the pasta.

This main course was delicious and Diane served it with a robust cleansing salad.

She selected a bottle of Sicilian white which we had never tried but now that we have we will certainly be returning to it.  This wine was a 2011 Mandoleto Catarratto; the name Mandoletto derives from the fact that groves of almond (mandorlo) trees share this area of Sicily with the vineyards.  A wonderful accompaniment to the delightful pasta!

FOOD DIARY: Orange Roughy

Last night was my night to cook and because Tuesday is the first of our 2—5 Diet days I made the Orange Roughy in the freezer on a bed of mushrooms in stock with chopped shallots sprinkled over the top.  It is a very common diet day meal because it is both very tasty as well as being very satisfying and low cal..

The Roughy is very soft and we have eaten it enough to know that it is only slightly more textual than the Toothfish from much colder waters.  It really is a coin toss about which is better, however, we both enjoy the extraordinary delicacy of the Toothfish.  Tomorrow night I will use some Sailfish that we have in the freezer and do a little comparison.  I enjoy experimenting with different fish so that a decent feeling for what a person likes can be determined.

After the fish I made the ever—present salad which tasted as good as anybody’s salad always does.  We had some delicious water flavoured with a squirt of lemon juice as our beverage.

FOOD DIARY: Bistecchine di Maiale con Olive

Diane made the same recipe that she made earlier but this time I got the good chop and the difference in the farmer’s product was amazing.  It really does pay to buy top shelf products and spend a little extra for organic products because we have found them superior to the products sold under the super market’s name.

This recipe calls for chopped tomatoes; we use Italian chopped canned tomatoes, and black olives.  She also served some cubed baked pumpkin on the side.

We had a delicious Sicilian white wine with the pork: BABO 2009 from Bianco L’isolano.