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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We decided to try Chin’s Take Away last night and were not disappointed in the least.
We ordered as a double appetiser: Prawn Toast and Fried Won Tons.
Our main course was nothing out of the ordinary as were the appetisers: Beef with Black Bean Sauce and a serve of plain rice. We both thought the meal was filling and tasty.