We had a superb dnner last night.
It started with a Chicken Pistachio Terrine from the Upper Swan here in Perth; they do more in the Swan Vally than make wine.
The second course was a side of cubed fried potatoes.
The main course was something that we have spasmodically through out the year: it is the very tender and very moist Pork Scotch Fillet Steak from the Brumar company. Diane makes a sause from the frying liquids in the pan and then enriches it with a spash of brandy. We decided last night to forgo the fried potatoes and make rice instead to soak uip the sauce.
We have decided to switch from lettuse
to coleslaw. We ejoyed a delightful inexpensive Cotes du Rhone produced by Chemin des Papes.
Although last night’s meal was only pizza and salad Diane turned it into something more involved and, as happens when using that modifier, a real Friday party was enjoyed on a Sunday night.
Due to Diane’s subtle rearranging of the contents of our old Taverna (really just a third bedroom) we now have a place for our slide projector (remember those things?) so we can look at trays of slides taken during the Badia Years (upper case used on purpose) and Party Night was the perfect night in which to try the new arrangements. She picked out a box of slides from an archaeological discovery from the Turkish area near Nicaea (modern day Iznik). She also showed some slides of the Byzantine mosaic decorated church Karri Cami, in Istanbul, and a place called Hosias Lukas near the modern city of Levadia where you must get off the train and get a room and negotiate a taxi for the hour long journey out to the old Greek Orthodox Church with its Byzantine mosaic covered walls.
You can’t have a real party without a little libation so our in-house bartender, Diane, prepared a Wild Turkey Old Fashioned for me and a Manhattan for her. Along with these drinks we had some Cashews and her signature nibbles: Hen tails which have nothing to do with neither hens nor their tails. They are superb and made with: flour, butter and grated cheddar cheese.
Our main course was the Good Doctor’s pizza shipped all the way from England.
With this main we enjoyed a definite change from the lettuce/spinach salad for a coleslaw salad that was a change but tasted very good.
As usually happens around this Leeming house we planned a meal of remains. Leftovers sounds too pedestrian to describe the meal that we enjoyed last night.
The meal began with the remains of the excellent Duck Terrine from a previous night’s dinner. This terrine was made in the Barossa Valley in South Australia and it seemed as fresh as one would make for ones self.
After a serve of this terrine (accompanied by little toasts) Diane made a more than usual salad composed of all the usual suspects: spinach, lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, olives–pitted black for Di and gree filled for me, walnut pieces and feta with a balsamic dressing.
We opened a fine bottle of Moulin De Gassam Guilhem from the south of France in the Languedoc region. The wines of this region are not expensive but the largest seller in France comes from this region.
It was a meal of great food and excellent wine
I had visions of leftover Sloopy Joes dancing in my head plus lots of leftover potato salad and apple cake with the remains of whipped cream in a can but all was to no avail because my lovely, generous wife gave most of the leftovers to Pete, Shelly and the girls. You know: tis the season to be jolly and generous. Diane made it so: it is hers to do with as she pleases because she made it.
Ah but last night Diane made us a unique and very good minced lamb burger with the buns spread with tahini while the lamb was a flattened version of Ainsley’s meat balls. It was a wonderful way of using what was in the fridge.
The lamb burger was accompanied, after it was eaten, with a delicious salad. The wine of the evening was the remains of two bottles of red the identity of which is know only to the gods of the grape.
Diane fixed a beautiful table of food for us plus two adult friends and their two lovely daughters.
We began the meal with a platter of various deli meats, a bowl of macadamias and a tasty savoury spread with breads and crackers to spread it on. There were beers for the boys and sweet ciders for the girls. It was not a hot day, anything in the 80s at this time of year is considered moderate and in my 39 years in WA I cannot remember such a mild Christmas or Boxing Day.
After these preliminaries Diane brought out two of her mother’s recipes: Sloppy Joes and Apple Cake. She had made a large bowl of potato salad and a smaller one of slaw. The Sloppy Joes were a natural hit and the salads were a wonderful finish to a delicious outdoor meal.
Ah, but the meal was not yet complete; she brought serves of her mum’s delicious Apple Cake that perfectly rounded out the meal and I anticipate the leftovers tonight.
It is kinda hard to outdo our Christmas Eve dinner because it was so special time-wise and taste-wise! Therefore we could not just let our Christmas day dinner sputter into nothing so we had to dress it up in something more than sausage and beans; Diane decided to get a dozen oysters, some Frech andAustralian cheeses and open the Duck Terrine that we had purchased some days earlier.
Our first course was a dozen Tassmanian oysters. Diane likes them because they have always been plump when we have gotten oysters before and tonight was no exception. I on the other hand prefer thinner oysters, if you can use that term to descibe oysters, such as Sydney Rock Oysters but who is quibbling: oysters are delicious from wherever they come. I use only a smear of Hot Sauce as a flavour because, obviously, you do not want to mask the flavour ofthe oyster.
Our main course was the delicious Duck Terreine; I love Terreines of any kind but my one great problem is I am unsure of how to eat them. I have read that a small bit can be cut off the loaf and easten with a small cracker or a bit of bread. Other references have said to treat it as a cold meatloaf and just cut off pieces and eat them by themselves. I admit that I have always tried, with modest success, to spread the terrine like a pate’. My references say that terreines started as inexpensive worker’s fare but now I still have pictures in my mind of beautiful terreines in shop windows in France and Diane and I always gave in to their obvious temptation.
This wonderful meal ended with a selection of Australian and French cheeses.
Our wine of choice was a very inexpensive bottle of J.P. Chenet’s Cabernet Syrah from the Languedoc region of southern France. It is as delightful as it is inexpensive.
Diane and I Have, virtually since we migrated, celebrated our Christmas on Christmas Eve when we empty our stocking and open our presents and have our Christmas dinner. That dinner has been the same since Terri Tsugi sent us as a first anniversary gift a set of her favouite menus. One of the recipes was for a seafood salad which was very approriate because Christmas dinner in Australia is univerally seafood, usually crayfish in some form. Our seafood salad which Diane has always made is simple using only crab meat and prawn flesh with a flavoured mayonaise holding it together with some pitted black olives thrown in . We only have it once a year on Christmas Eve so it remains special.
Last night, with a nod towards Italian cooking, Diane made a special Christmas meal which was Tortellini alla Panna (Tortellini with butter and parmesan cheese.) Again it is a special dish only eaten at Chistmas in many Italian homes.
Both dishes are simple in preparation but as I always say it is the simplicity that makes for a difficult dish unless you are very careful with the preparation.
As a wine we had a Tenuta Ca’Bolani Prosecco; a celebratory wine for a celebratory Christmas Eve meal.
Last night Diane made us a little party in anticipation of Friday; you can tell the past days have been more difficult than smooth.
She made us her signature Cosmopolitan with some nuts to deburr the appetite (I am sure deburr is in the dictionary somewhere.)
After the Cosmo she brought us a small plate of stir fried broccoli with garlic that had also been heated with the broccoli (a wonderful way to enjoy this vegetable.)
The main course that Diane served us was our old favourite: a chicken breast (or thigh) wrapped in a slice of prociutto. The chicken pieces have had part of the garlic butter placed in the hollow of the thighs or into an incision if they are breasts. The rermainder of the butter is smeared over the prociutto.
As a beverage we had two glasses of the Houghton’s Chardonnay Verdelho.
We decided that we needed a small party meal because things are a little hectic around here so tonight became the night.
Diane started us off with a glass of Sparkling Wine that had been given to us by a Cabin Attendent on a recent 40th wedding anniversary trip to Broome.She brought some fried flat bread and olves as nibbles with the wine.
Her next course was a winner also: she fried a punnet of Swiss Brown Mushrooms and they were worth the extra cost over other types.
Di’s next course was a side of cubed fried potatoes.
Her final course was the peak of this of this wonderful dinner: Steak Diane is a wonderful menu item that unfortunately has rapidly declined in popularity because restaurants do not do table cooking as they did in revious decades. It is too bad because the dish has much going for it: small pieces of meat rather than plate sized steaks today, quickness of preparation and the romance of seeing your steak prepared at tableside.
Our wine is a Lanuedoc wine from southern France: Moulin De Gassac, Guilhem.
I was back in the kitchen last night and I made my favourite sauce to go with the spaghetti. The books say that puttanesca sauce is a 1950s invention of southern Italian cooking but I find that hard to believe because the southern Italians have always used olives, anchovies, garlic and capers to flavour a tomato passata. I guess they had not thought of combining these flavourings in one sauce but the combination seems natural to me. Anyway we made enough for three meals so we have one more in the freezer which comes in handy because of the Christmas rush that is happening now.
The sause is quite liquid so any pasta that reacts well with these sauces: penne, even orecchiette, olive leaf, cappuccino.
Of course I had to make a cleansing salad after this powerful pasta dish.
We also had to marry this strong pasta with an equally strong wine and Diane produced a superb Chianti from Borgo SanLeo–not expensive, very reasonable in fact, but the marriage with the sause was wonderful (the marriage was very happynd long-lived.)