Friday night is Party Night and we started it in the usual fashion with a Wild Turkey Manhattan that would do the barkeeps at any first class hotel very proud. Diane, besides being the best barkeep in Perth, makes a mean antipasto of her own pesto spread on New Norcia sour dough bread after the bread has been fried on our grill pan.
Diane bought a punnet of Swiss Brown mushrooms in her shopping that day and I sliced the entire punnet and Di fried them in butter the French way. They tasted superb and they are one of my fasvourite side dishes.
Things have been a little active (read very active) around here and the chef picked up a local package of lasagne with minced beef between the layers. She divided the contents into two and we enjoyed a very tasty and easy meal for the overworked chef.
The beverage for the meal was an inexpensive Borgo SanLeo Chianti. We do not know why the wine is priced so low. It is DOCG Chianti and we can only relish our good fortune that it is available here for a reasonable price; it certainly suited the meal.
Last night brought to the table an excellent old standby with a new substantive twist: Diane’s trip to the Fish Monger meant that we baked cod rather than my two old favourtites. The cod brought a different taste that I think is more suited to fish an’ chips than to my French recipe but everybody to their own I guess. I made the dish as in the past with a layer of mushies on the bottom of the baking dish, followed by a scattering of tomato pieces (I tear apart cherry tomatoes to get the juice as well as the pieces) and completed it by a further scattering of chopped shallots. The final preparation is simply to fill the cooking dish with hot stock to the level of the thinnest mushroom and bake from 12 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish fillets.
This night also happened to be the second night of the 2—5 Diet so I only had the fish as well as a salad. I enjoyed, and oh how I enjoyed it, a full glass of cold water.
I must go back to Wednesday evening when we had some old friends over for dinner and they brought, unexpectedly two Crayfish that their son had given them that he had dived for in a secret spot that he knows about. I had decided after living many years in Western Australia that Crayfish are over-popular and that to my taste they did not live up to their reputation: how wrong I was! Because they had been taken very recently and not frozen for a long time the taste was truly excellent and I will ask our friends for more if they become available.
Diane started the meal with some delicious local New Norcia Sour Dough bread that she cut thinly and upon which she spread her own Pesto.
Next arrived the main of our friend’s Cray Fish served with a simple Hollandaise white sauce. She served this with rice that had been flavoured slightly.
Diane opened a bottle of All Saints Estate Moscato: which is slightly sweet and fizzy. A delightful beverage for the evening.
Last night we enjoyed an excellent meal that was another of our 2—5 diet meals. We monitored this excellent way of watching our calorie intake throughout the day by just cutting down two days out of seven with the other five days normal eating. Supplementing this 2—5 method of eating is an eating plan that we have been using named the Mediterranean Diet. It is not a diet but a way of eating and for decades and it has served us well except when we do not follow its very minimal food guidelines which are: fish and poultry, vegetables and green salads and olive oil. There are books of dinners to be made around these ingredients so lack of dinner makings is certainly open.
Diane made a dish that I have made numerous times last winter and spring; it is very easy and providing the fish is fresh and of quality your dinner will be superb. The type of fish is a prerequisite for an excellent meal. I limit myself to Patagonian Toothfish and Orange Roughy because of the flavour. I just fill the bottom of a medium baking dish with sliced mushrooms then pieces of tomato and finally I chop a shallot which I sprinkle over the mushroom tomato mix before laying the fish fillets on this bed. The final step is to heat some stock which is poured over the fish just covering the mushrooms. Cook in our oven at 180 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
Diane made a side of peas and corn mixed and a spinach leaf salad to finish. As a beverage we “enjoyed” a glass or two of water.
Tonight Diane brought to the table the remainder of the wonderful Spanish meal that we so enjoyed two nights ago: artichokes filled with very finely chopped vegetables and then topped with mayonnaise, a special dish of Spanish fried bread pieces called Megas de Pan and the main course, Paella.
The artichokes are a special treat for me and Diane prepares them first rate. I have never made them; there are dishes that are mine, few in number and dishes that are hers, many more in number. I am not sure how she prepares it but she uses pickled artichokes, easier that way, finely chopped vegetables sprinkled over the mayonnaise that fills the centre of the choke. I would think that this dish is a Tapas dish but that is only speculation.
The Migas are roughly the American equivalent of the toasted and flavoured bread pieces that are used as Turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving. They are pieces of day-old bread (half inch or 1cm) that have been fried in flavoured olive oil. The only disagreement Diane and I have is the size of the Migas. We ate breakfast at a Parador in northern Spain and as I remember the Migas were much larger an inch and half (3 cm.) but that may just have been at breakfast.
The remainder of the meal was the delicious Paella that we had eaten earlier in the week. It was even better this time!
She followed this meal with her usual salad.
The beverage imbibed was our usual De Botolli box wine of chilled white.
Friday night is Party Night and we enjoyed ourselves to the max. It started with Diane’s favourite: a Wild Turkey Manhattan with a purchased appetizer: a Spinach and Feta Spanakopita. Not necessarily all from the same country but the internationalism spreads its wings even more later.
After this welcome to dinner we are set for the main course which becomes a little more country centred. Diane has made paella so often that she has got it down pat and that is exactly what we enjoyed as our main course last night. Paella is a hearty Spanish dish that we married to an inexpensive ‘09 Spanish Termpranillo that is punching far above its weight. I am certainly not knowledgeable about wine but this Spanish wine should sell for more. I will look for more of the same Torres family Coronas in the future.
Diane makes her delicious paella using whatever fowl we have in the fridge with whatever prepared meat we might have: sausage, salami, etc. But it is important that there be some sharpe flavour in the meat to transfer to the paella. Beyond that your choice of vegetables is open but again within bounds: peas, artichokes, asparagus, caulie are just a few of the possibilities. With regard to seafood we commonly use prawns, clams, mussels or squid but that last one is infrequent. A handful of olives can be added at the last minute with the prawns so that they do not get mushy. We were lucky enough to find a package of Spanish rice to use as a base for the paella and you can notice the difference; it is definitely worth the search.
My return to the kitchen last night was followed by a diet dish that I have made a number of times in the past. It is a low cal dish but an easy one and one that allows fish to take centre stage in a meal.
It is so easy; just take several mushrooms and slice them, crush some tomatoes allowing the juice to go onto the mushrooms with the fish fillets placed on top of those ingredients. I rubbed the fillets with a little olive oil. After this I diced a large shallot and distributed the shallot pieces over the tomatoes and mushies. The ingredients were in a baking dish and baked about 108 degrees for about 20 minutes depending how thick the fillets are. The only problem with the dish that came from the resident chef was that there was not enough of both the mushrooms or the crushed tomatoes.
After this main I served us a salad of cos lettuce accompanied by sliced mushrooms and quartered tomatoes. We had some cold water as a beverage. Bring it on if this is a weight loss meal.