Yesterday was a vegetarian lunch with friends and a pizza dinner

Yesterday was an interesting day food-wise; we eat at a vegetarian restaurant with some friends who live on the scarp in a suburb called Roleystone near this restaurant. I have never eaten at a vegetarian restaurant before. The food was not too bad but they wanted, by my standards too much for what we received on the table.

When we returned home after this late lunch we were tired and not hungry enough to fix a meal (or at least the Chef was.) Therefore we decided to order a pizza and have it delivered. Sometimes less is more.

PENNE with CHICKEN, CAULIFLOWER & CHEESE

Last night after virtually an all day lightening storm (I am a day behind because we did not want to turn on computers) we had a delicious meal that we have enjoyed only eight times since buying the book in ’00. The recipe is in one of those inexpensive supermarket books that generally don’t last beyond the holiday for which they were marketed. This one was called Cooking with Pasta and it contains some good recipes therefore it has been gingerly handled in these 14 years.

The Chef started the meal with an excellent drink: (she has a number of signature drinks and this is one of them) a Sidecar made with French brandy, Triple Sec and lemon juice. With this marvellous drink she served several small pieces of toast with her olive Tapenade; it is a perfect accompaniment for a perfect drink.

Our main course was equally delicious: the penne with smoked chicken in a cream sauce with grated parmesan and cauliflower florets. Using thickened cream means that the liquid is not as watery as the picture on page 68 would indicate which is far better to my taste and the cauli which I normally do not care for becomes delicious when mixed with the cream and cheese and smoked chicken pieces.

We enjoyed a marvelous Australian Verdelho Hanwood Estate.

You may well ask why we have not fixed it more if Diane and I like it so much and the answer easily enough is the number of other good recipes out there.

Tues. Nov. 25th Nannagai (Australian fish), Spinach-Croutons-Mozzarella Salad

Tuesday night we had a particularly good French meal from Anne’s 40th anniversary gift to us of Jacques Pepin’s recipe cookbook, Essential Pepin, from which the first and second dishes were taken. He claims there are over 700 favouite recipes in this book and these are only two.

His main ingredients are the fish fillets; he calls for Catfish but we used this Nannagai and added his interesting secondary flavours: garlic, croutons, nuts (walnuts or pecans), chives or parsley among other minor ingredients. The chef makes delicious croutons and when added to these other ingredients and the fish Pepin has created an interestingly unusual dish.

The second Pepin recipe is a delightful salad again with Di’s very tasty croutons plus a remarkably good Dressing. The salad is straight forward with Spinach, Mozzarella and Croutons but the dressing has the usual plus one tablespoon of Soy Sauce which Diane didn’t care for but I found interestingly good.

We had a cheese and fruit dessert with a Maggi Beer Fig and Fennel Paste. The cheese was a very good Normandy Camembert, called Le Rustique from Jean Verrier.

Our wine that evening, keeping with the French theme, was an inexpensive yet fulsome Paul Mas estate Chardonnay from Pays D’OC in the southwest of France.

OYSTERS and TROUT SALAD

Last night was a delicious low cal meal that formed itself as we shopped yesterday afternoon. We needed some good fish so we went to the fish shop at Southlands Centre. Indeed we found the fish; they also have a good supply of oysters from South Australia’s Franklin Harbour. I prefer all Australian oysters except Tasmanian ones which are too plump or “fat” for my taste as these oysters are referred to here and I suppose in other oyster farming areas. These thin oysters like Sydney Rocks or the ones from South Australia or from here in Western Australia at Albany are “thin” and delicious. They are referred as such because they do not take as much space in the shell and as a result are flat when shucked.

The other half of last night’s meal was another excellent trout salad. Diane built the salad on top of a good handful of spinach leaves with: sliced mushrooms on top along with olives, toasted croutons and sliced cheese pieces. It was a wonderful dish and with the oysters a marvellous meal.
Our wine tonight was as gentle as the meal: we just enjoyed two glasses of box white.

Sunday Night is Pizza/Pasta Night

Last night, Nov. 23rd, Diane and I had our regular Pizza/Pasta night except we sort of indulged and had both; the Good Doctor’s Pizza and Diane’s Gnocchi with the simplest of sauces: melted butter with fresh whole sage leaves. Of course spoons of grated Parmesan completed what could barely be called a sauce. If the butter is pure, the sage leaves fresh and the parmesan of good quality then the dish is complete.

The meal was excellent except for the Good Doctor’s Pizza; it was edible but only because I was very hungry. This arvo while shopping the subject of the meal came up and I said the pizza was “off.” At this point the chef admitted that she had accidently sprinkled vinegar instead of olive oil on the pizza: I do not recommend this pizza variation.

Bitokes ‘a la Russe (Hamburgers with Cream Sauce)

Last night I returned to the stove with much help from Sweet Diane and we had another little party just because we enjoyed Friday’s so much. Diane made another of her signature Old Crow Manhattan’s with two of those Boag Appetizers.

After this beginning she fried some delicious cubed potatoes and served them as a separate dish because they taste so good.

We enjoyed this dish on the first of January and the second of May plus 31 times before. It is the premium method of cooking mince and if you get the sauce right it becomes premium plus and that is what happened last night. There seems to be a truism among food writers that the French love wet food while Italians love dry food. The French use sauces, at least in earlier recipes; for instance on the facing page of Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking she offers six alternative French sauces for this recipe or other suitable meats. True the Italians have many, many pasta sauces; those sauces, however, can only be used with pasta and are made particularly for that shape of pasta. I have made this recipe so often that I sort of know what happens next. Julia devotes about a whole page to this recipe and if you get it right it becomes restaurant quality; if you get it wrong it still tastes good.

Basically you fry the mince patties that Diane has shaped and had onion mixed into the mince. After these patties have cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side take the patties out to a dish in a heated oven until the sauce is finished. Deglaze the pan juices with stock, boil it down to a syrup, add your cream, mix and reduce before enriching with butter, add fresh herbs and when it is a good consistency pour over the mince and enjoy.
We enjoyed two glasses of box red and each other’s company.

A Quiet Night with a Favourite Pasta Dish, Thur. Nov. 20

We decided for no particular reason to have a quiet dinner night the evening of the 19th so Diane found in the fridge a tomato sauce that she had made earlier and with the addition of some penne pasta a meal was made.
This sauce is an old favourite with us and it only varies with the flavourings slightly because of what is in the cupboard. As a rule we try to flavour the sauce with: broken/chopped olives (either red or green,) capers, anchovies, red or green peppers, several garlic cloves (I like mine crushed rather than chopped) a shake of chilli pepper and just about anything else that will add flavour. Now this sounds very much like Pasta Puttanesca or whore’s sauce (Diane would prefer me not to use this title in public but….) The dean of Italian pasta’s and their sauces, Giuliano Bugialli in his 1988 book Bugialli on Pasta, writes that this is a Napoletana sauce that should have tomato paste as well as no peppers or capsicums as they are known here in Australia.
Diane served a good salad with the usual ingredients.
As a beverage we had two glasses of red box wine.

Tues. Nov. 18th Diane’s Delicious Spaghetti with Prawns and Saffron

Last night was not an original night but one that appears infrequently due to the expense of the ingredients. You would think that such a simple dish would not fall into this category but Australian Prawns and Scallops flavoured with saffron, although delicious, does not appear often on our dinner table.

Diane made a tasty nibble’s plate with: olives, pieces of Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese with her olive spread on Ciabatta Bread.

The wonderful pairing of the Prawns and Scallops with a light cream sauce with that remarkable flavour of saffron in background is so extraordinary that it should not be eaten often but saved for lingering meals. She also used finely chopped Shallots with the cream. The odour alone will entice any person to the table to discover the origin of such a delight.
The libation of the evening was only a little less delicious than the seafood course: it was a particularly good wine from Rome called Frascati. It is denigrated by anyone who considers themselves knowledgeable about wine but I love Italian white wines from Rome south and I buy Frascati whenever I see it on the liquor store shelves.

Nov. 17 A Lebanese meal at The Prophet with Colleen

On Monday the 17th we had a marvellous meal, as always, at The Prophet in E. Vic Park and again the place was packed. It is not a large restaurant with an aisle down the centre and tables in a single line off to the wall. It is one of those places that you hope people will not find because it is so good but Foodies in Perth have known about it for years. It might be apocryphal but Diane read some years ago that the restaurant made the best Kibbeh in Australia but by our taste they certainly are a contender. We sat outside until about nine pm and just before we left two cars pulled up and the proprietor moved his car forward to give them more room. Now these were not ordinary cars; one was a Ferrari and the one behind was Maseratti. Agreed, Ferraris are seen on even Perth streets a reasonable number of times but to seen a Maseratti pull up behind a Ferrari outside a cafe in E. Vic Park, not the most salubrious of neighbourhoods (I use the word to mean well-off not healthy) even in Perth. I mention the incident only because people with that kind of money can eat anywhere but they choose The Prophet because of the quality of the Patron’s (Old French) food. Oddly, whenever I go I always order an Egyptian dish called Fool Beans which arrives at the table in a shallow soup dish containing Broad Beans in very shallow broth with a floating of Olive Oil and flavourings. Diane and Colleen always order Ladies’ Fingers which are minced lamb and pine nuts wrapped in filo pastry with salad. We share but we really must try some different items in the future.