Bitokes a’ la Russe (Hamburgers with Cream Sauce)

Because Friday night is Party Night (if two people constitue a party) The Bar Master, Diane, made us a pair of her other signature drinks, a Sidecar served with a few potato chips.

After this excellent beginning she made new asparagus wrapped in slices of prosciutto and fried.

Next came a side of cubed fried potatoes.

Served with the Bitokes  were a few large field mushrooms that I sliced and fried.  

Julia Child has many superb recipes in her Mastering The Art of French Cooking but this one is one of my favourites.  It is a reasonably easy recipe and does not need many ingredients: a little cream, some fresh herbs, some stock and, it is French after all, butter. 

Just fry the patties in a little butter and olive oil;  put them on a heated plate and keep in your oven on very low heat (if the oven is too warm the meat will continue cooking and dry out), deglaze the frying pan with some stock, after it has thickened and reduced add a spash of cream, away from the heat swirl in some butter and the chopped herbs and serve.

It is important not to cook the meat to long or it will dry out too much.  It is a delicious way to have some meat that can be cut with a fork and is juicy; the sauce is a perfect accompaniment.

We had the vegetable so there was no need for a salad but we did have an excellent wine: Domaine De La Baume (Vin De Pays D’OC.)  Our wines are always inexpensive even if they have Frecn names like this one.  The wines from Languedoc in the southern part of France are very good but they do not attract the high prices of the more well known wine regions of France.


Fish Tagine Take Two

Last night I just reheated the tagine sauce and added the remainder of the fish fillets that had not been cooked with the previous fillets. If anything the fish tasted even better than it did when it was fresher; the sauce had matured and become more enriched so the dish, as I said, tasted better than the first night.

We had a cleansing salad and a glass or two of wine of a forgotten origine so a great meal was enjoyed by the Leeming Johnsons. 

Pizza and wine

Yesterday was a soft cooking day becase we crossed the street and had a lunch at the Bully: a tavern that has replaced the old Bullcreek tavern.  For lunch they offer a $15.00 lunch and I always order the Fisherman’s basket which is a nice (read generous) selection of battered fish: prawns, scallops, squid and a nice piece of fish.  That and a  Vic Bitter does a nice lunch make.

So because of this good and filling lunch we decided to go easy with our evening meal and we just had one of the good doctor’s pizzas and an excellent salad with a glss of leftover wine of an indeterminant origin.

Penne with Chianti

Last evening Diane cooked us a wonderful serve of penne pasta  with the simplist of sauces:  a can of diced tomatoes with a minimum of seasonings.  It sounds sort of dull but you would be surprised at how refreshing and satisfying a dish like this can be.

She also prepared a cleansing salad after this main course.

As a berverage we enjoyed, as befitting the pasta, an excellent bottle of Borgo Sanleo Chianti.  It was an inexpensive wine but it had the DOCA appelation and tasted wonderful.

Fish Tagine with Preserved lemon and mint

Last night I made one of my favourite dishes because it links fish with the spices and cooking techniques from Morocco.  The spices and herbs are very pronounced so I believe that delicate fish like Orange Roughy   or Patagonian Toothfish have flesh too delicate to be married to the spices and herb combination of this dish.

I took the recipe from a cook book simply called Tagine by Ghillie Basan.  The recipe calls for chermoula which is a traditional Moroccan spice and herb mixture that is mixed into many different tagines of any kind be they meat, fish or poultry.  For the chermoula alone the ingredients are:  garlic, chilli, salt, fresh coriander, saffron threads, cumin, olive oil and the juice of one lemon.  The main dish contains: large chunks of fish, olive oil, onion, preserved lemon, can of diced plum tomatoes, fish stock and white wine. 

We enjoyed a bottle of Houghton’s Classic White with this delicious dish.

I always forget to mention Diane’s contribution to a meal because it is enjoyed many times after one of these very savoury ethnic meals; she makes her own ice cream (which is not really an ice cream because she uses low fat milk rather than cream) and flavours it with native bush spices and nuts which are also native Australian: macadamias.  

Scallopini with French wine

Last night Diane fixed one of my favourite dishes: Scallopini made with good chicken breasts. It is a very economical dish because one breast will make four serves after you flatten the meat. Diane dusts her version with a flour and ground parmesan combination and then shallow fried the flattened pieces in olive oil.

Along with this delicious dish she made us a cleansing green salad.

As our beverage of choice we had a bottle of inexpensive French white wine: J.P. Chenet’s Sauvignon Blanc fron the languedoc region of southern France.

Diane’s Seafood Pasta

Last night was a particularly good meal even by Diane’s standards. She made us a wonderful seafood spaghetti pasta in a light cream sauce that had been flavoured with saffron. The seafood was a combination of scallops cut in half horizontally thus doubling the amount of scallops with the prawns. Needless to say the meal was outstanding!

We also had a salad of greens, feta and croutons with a balsamic dressing.

Our wine deserves special attention because it was a Lacryma Christi (Tears of Christ) which we used to drink in the weeks after we were married (1973) and living in Albany, USA which was a little north of Oakland. At that time the wine cost $1.50 before it was discovered and the price rose proportionelly. It is one of those delicious white wines found in southern Italy. Its full name is Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio which may give a clue as to just how far south the wine originates. It is delicious and recommended.

Diane’s friend’s meal brought to the house

Diane’s old techer friend Shelley brought over a meal to make life a little easier for Di after the difficult month we have had.
I can only describe the dish because I have no name for it. Shelley has a recently purchased a Thermo Mix and she made a delicious mixture of flavoured mincerd meat over a bed of rice and we finished every bit of it.
Diane began the meal with one of her signature Manhattans because Friday night is party Night.

Yesterday and the day before: leftover slices of lamb and the day before the Saigon before the play

The day before we ate at the Saigon on James Street as we do before any play at the Heath Ledger Theater in Northbridge.  The Saigon has a very large menu of Asian foods and every dish that we have had there is very good.  We always begin with Prawn on Toast and Fried Wontons before our mains which we generally change every time we eat there.  This time Diane had Deep Fried Squid With Garlic, Pepper and Chilli.  For a main I had Mi Xao Thp Cam hoac Do Bien (Seafood Chow Mee.)

Last night was Leftover Night becase we had the remainder of the delicious boned lamb leg from several nights before.  Diane served the excellent pan-juice sauce over the lamb slices as welll as the rice side that she made with the lamb.  I asked for a bottle of the Houghtons Chardonnay Verdelho;  an inexpensive table wine from our own Swan Valley that goes down very well!  I know that, basically the colour of the meat should match the colour of the wine but in this case I broke the fundamental rule because I like the Houghton’s white so much.

Greek Roast Lamb

Last evening Diane made a superb roast of a boned leg of lamb.  There are many cooks who decry removing the bone from virtually any cut of meat because they believe that leaving the bone in the cut of meat means that the resulting piece of meat will be less flavoursome.  In general I accept this idea but sometimes it looses out because cutting meat without the bone means less effort on the part of the cook; such was the case last night.

Diane began the meal with an exellent hor d’oeuve plate of new asparagus wrapped in slices of prosciutto served with slices of Cypriot haloumi fried cheese with some small fried toasts.  A marvellous beginning to our Greek meal.

Next came the main course of the roast lamb.  The original recipe came from a cook book called the Coking of the Gods which was a 1973 wedding gift from an old friend in the States.  Diane has made the recipe so often that she has memorized it.  She marinated the lamb in wine, lemon juice, garlic and oregano before baking it for about 40 minutes.

As our beverage we enjoyed a wondedrful bottle of Greek wine.  It was a 2005 bottle of Nemea Reserve from Agiorgitiko grapes from the wine producing area of Nemea in the northern region of the Peloponnese.  Greek wines are very interesting and both Diane and I think that Greek food suites Greek wine perfectly.