Diane fixed us a brilliant meal last night: one that deserves to be remembered.
We started with one of her signature Gordon’s dry martinis accompanied with sour dough toasted bread covered with her olive tapenade.
The main course was the product of our Fremantle Day: a purchased organic Rack of Lamb from the lovely woman’s butchery shop in the markets. Diane completed the rack by using a French mixture of: Mustard, Garlic, Rosemary and Bread Crumbs spread on the surface of the lamb as a crust.
The vegetable side was roasted Butternut Pumpkin Squash.
We also had the now required green spinach leaf salad with the usual suspects but also including her own croutons.
As a finale we enjoyed, purchased at the cheese stall in the markets: an Italian goat’s cheese, a soft French cheese both of an indeterminate origin but very tasty and served with Maggie Beer’s Fig and Fennel Paste.
As a beverage accompaniment Diane pulled a select bottle of red wine covered with layers of accumulated dust from its four years in the rack awaiting its turn to delight the awaiting palates of the two invited guests. It was 2008 Chateau Lamothe de Haux. The somewhat haughty chef (as most chefs feel they must be) rated the musty long-awaiting-opening Bordeaux as ”lacklustre” enough said. The guest was happily pleased by the offering of the rack.
Last night was a fish diet night for dinner; however, I cannot tell you the variety of fish but it was truly remarkable: light, easily flaked and very tasty. We will have to go back to the monger’s shop in order to ask the attendant if she remembers the type of fish. It was West Australian because the owner will not sell any imported fish. The attendant told Diane last week that the owner has sold wholesale fish during his business life but has always wanted to have a retail business. He took over another fish shop in the same premises that had gone bust; he seems to be doing quite well though.
Our meal was on the light side because it was a diet night: still delicious though. Diane prepared this unknown fish using a Cajun recipe that she now just works it as it happens. The recipe will be known by any Southerner or anybody who cooks Cajun food or even New Orleans’s food: it is called Blackened Fish. The recipe for the seasoning is one those “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”. However, Diane’s special mixture is even easier: she uses a Table spoon of flour with a Table spoon of store bought Cajun spice. She puts it in a bag, shakes it well and fries the resulting fish in a hot skillet for just minutes. We have enjoyed it often in the past but this particular unknown fish type was the best. I also had a bowl of corn and peas while Diane enjoyed some sliced fried zucchini .
Diane enjoyed a glass of the finest box wine while I enjoyed a glass of the clearest Tap water.
Once again Sweet Diane prepared a delicious meal for our benefit last night. It was a penne pasta dish with a straight forward sauce of cubed can tomatoes with added olives and crushed garlic. It could not be simpler nor could it be better.
The meal was started with some excellent thin sliced bread; a full slice cut into fours, upon which was spread a thin layer of her olive tapenade; it would be hard to have anything more delicious.
The main course was her marvellous tomato sauced penne pasta. A small bowl of this spread liberally with grated parmesan makes a wonderful meal; with that we had an inexpensive but wonderful bottle of Mandoleto Nero D’Avola red wine from Sicilia (about four years old) and the meal steps from the ordinary into the garden of memory.
Last night was a return to our 2—5 Diet with Tuesday being the first night of the two diet days. I have found that eating fish on these diet days is very good as a low cal main meal for dinner as well as cutting back to modest eating during the day. We enjoyed the Ling Cod fillets last Thursday so we repeated the same fish type yesterday after a stop at the local fish monger. Although this Ling was local Australian fish and not deep sea cold fish like our previous type it still tasted as good and will definitely be one of our regular buys.
I prepared the fish as I have in the past but using Diane’s “tweaks” to the recipe to bring out flavour as well as easing preparation. She would prepare the mushrooms and tomatoes as I had done but she would add a mixture of wine and stock and cook the resulting mixture for ten minutes in the oven before adding the fillets on top of the mixture then cooking for a minimum of 15 minutes adding more time if the fillets are particularly thick.
Before the main course I had a small bowl of frozen peas & corn that only needed heating; Di had a bowl of broccoli if my memory is correct.
She also had a glass of box wine while I enjoyed a glass or two of cold water.
An Indian evening of curry, pickle, chapattis and lentils was the Johnson’s delight last night. We repeated the Goan fish curry of some meals previous with the other half of the ingredients therefore (obviously!) giving us two meals from the packet and the fish. It makes for a reasonably cheap meal but not, as you might think, an easy meal. Diane has taken it upon herself to prepare this Indian meal and finds organizing the ingredients in the various packets plus the needed additions to be more than a little daunting. She is such a good cook that she either knows the various recipes or she simply invents the dish as she goes; the difficult part for her is bringing all of these various parts together.
We used an ingredient that we have been leery of simply because we did not understand the word: pickle does not mean a cucumber that has been “pickled” for a certain amount of time, rather it means a sauce that is an addition to whatever dish you want to flavour up a bit. However, it is not a dry spice that you can shake out of a jar: it is wet and can either be thick or thin and of many different flavours and best of all they can be purchased so they need not be made at home. They can also come very hot or much less so depending on your taste.
As a beverage I would recommend a soft drink or a beer; wine plays no role in Indian cuisine.
We enjoyed a Chinese restaurant meal last night so the kitchen was quiet here in Leeming. Diane and I went out with her very good friend from her last school, her husband and her two young children one in grade three and the other not yet in school. The restaurant was the same one that Diane and I had Peking Duck at some weeks ago only this time it was a weekend Dim Sim evening meal. The kids were perfect and the adults enjoyed the carts that somehow made their way through the throng of a packed restaurant. I am afraid that I would not let any serving dish be returned to the kitchen if it contained anything that could be eaten: I blame my now departed parents for instilling the idea of never allowing anything to go to waste. It was as good an idea then as it is now.
Last night was a wet and windy Friday night. Diane and I enjoyed a particularly nice meal. We started with a sidecar and a small plate of nibbles which we enjoyed while watching a new TV show starring Bryan Brown and Sam Neil. We had missed this episode so we watched on Diane’s laptop using the Tv stations website. After that we moved to the table and Diane made her usual small diced fried potatoes followed by succulent lamb chops and roast pumpkin with a cleansing salad. We drank a bottle of wine called a clean skin, a hidden label which therefore carries a much lower price but it was a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra region, Diane’s favourite red wine region of Australia. It did not disappoint.
We had a nice, easy day yesterday with a little shopping for other Indian cooking items, some scrutinizing of the offerings of a new fish shop at Southland’s Centre and a lunch at a new Japanese lunch/dinner shop that seems to have gained a clientele in just the few days that it has been open.
Therefore last night was a reasonably easy old favourite with us: Diane made a small but tasty hors-d’oeuve plate of her tapenade spread on the delicious sour dough bread that she has frozen since its purchase several days ago, some small pieces of prosciutto, small pieces of cheese whose origin and kind I do not know and some of those delicious dried black olives. As a note: I tried some store made oven dried black olives the other day and they did not make the grade in any way.
Our main course was a coloured, olive impregnated green, pale red from tomatoes and normal pale olive leave pasta with broccoli and a stock sauce.
Diane’s salad was spinach leaf with stuffed green olives for me and black ones for her (still pretty dietary).
The first night of the 2—5 Diet began (Tues. & Thur.) this week and Diane made the meal which was a favour to me; she claims, and I believe her that she enjoys cooking and the fish I have on the two T days and the dish is very is straight forward. Therefore she baked two fillets of New Zealand Deep Sea Ling with her sautéed mixture of sliced mushrooms and tomatoes with a sprinkling of chopped shallots all in a light bath of warm stock.
She prepared an excellent spinach salad with none of the goodies that catapults a salad into becoming a main rather than being a mere side dish. We enjoyed a glass of liquid with our meal: Di a glass of box white, me a glass of cold water.
It was an easy night last night; Diane has declared Sunday night a pasta/pizza night because TV is full of good shows that take us very late. Therefore we had a small dish of agnolotti with pesto and a Dr. Oedtker’s pizza. His pizza’s are on the small side so I asked Diane to include a little pasta to flesh it out a little which she very kindly did; it was a very tasty meal!