Not inside enough!

I seem to have not posted anything about the reno for ages, probably because we haven’t had a lot to add. With Christmas, being away for holidays, dreadful weather and a little issue of needing to sell another property to free up cash flow, has meant we have been focussed on working outside on garden and landscaping projects more than on inside jobs. The domino effect is huge inside, can’t fit skirting board back until floorboards are sanded and waxed, can’t do floorboards until majority of painting is done, can’t paint until plaster is repaired etc, and so it goes. Just have to run with what we can and make the most of it. Mr ATMT has this weekend been, filling grooves between panelling in the hall so we can cover with thick heritage style paintable Anaglypta wallpaper.

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Back into the kitchen – The one I don’t have!

My favourite butcher Wayne The Great had a special on Legs of Lamb the other week so I  bought 2 and knew the opportunity to decide what to do with them would arise. They came cryovacced, so there was no rush to decide. With a plentiful supply of lemons (thanks Melissa for the Eurekas!), garlic, tomatoes and parsley, I thought lamb marinated in garlic and lemon, tabouli salad and some pomme frites would make a nice dinner. I de-boned the leg of lamb,

deboned lambCut the boneless (butterflied) joint  into three and put 2 sections into the freezer for future use. The remaining section was marinated in some olive oil, 3 cloves crushed garlic and juice of 2 lemons. A few sprigs of rosemary went into dish too and that was that, ready to sit for a few hours in the fridge.

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I love tabouli, it is  a great way to use up a surplus of parsley and tomatoes and it has such a fresh, clean flavour  I never tire of it! I would NEVER buy this in a deli as it must be fresh to avoid that musty, almost dank off taste that comes with more than a day old parsley and mint. Added bonus that every ingredient (apart from the burgul) came from the

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garden. I don’t think you need to follow a recipe too closely as far as proportions of ingredients goes in a tabouli salad, but I do like a LOT of parsley. Just go with what you have to hand.

My recipe tonight was roughly:

  • 1/3 cup bulgur grain (soaked in equal quantity of boiling water)  sit in fridge till ready to assemble.
  • 2 large chopped tomatoes (if juicy strain juice off)
  • 2 cups chopped parsley
  • good handful chopped mint
  • juice of 1 or if you like tangy 2 lemons
  • good generous drizzle of olive oil (get out the good one!)

Fired up the barbecue and threw the lamb onto hotplate on medium heat, fat side down and seared for 3 minutes, turned heat down to low, turned meat, shut the lid and cooked for another 10 minutes. Turned heat off keeping lid shut to rest while I assembled the tabouli and cooked the pomme frites (fancy chips!).

I had peeled the potatoes, cut them into chunks the size I wanted, then cooked them in the microwave for about 6 minutes. Took out and shook jug so the cooked potato had a roughened surface. I then turned potatoes out onto another plate so they dried off really well ( I had actually done this step earlier).  Lit the gas ring on barbecue, placed  a pan with some olive oil on to heat, when hot enough I added the cooled potatoes and continually turned and moved around until nice and golden all over.

Plated up the tabouli, some fresh cucumber, the pomme frites, a dob of greek yoghurt and the carved lamb. So tender, I know why I don’t shop at supermarkets for fresh produce!

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And for dessert!

We are not dessert people. I have however put my hat in the ring to try and seek out everyone’s favourite lemon tart recipe. With this in mind I set forth to test a recipe that was recommended on my Facebook page ‘Worlds Best Lemon Tart’. The tart this week was a recipe from Alice Medrich’s book ‘Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts‘. I will add a link to the recipe over the next few days. After a disastrous beginning with the pastry (not Alice’s fault I assure you)  got it together and as a result enjoyed a beautiful tart.

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Another one bites the dust!

Well that’s another Christmas that snuck up far too quickly done and dusted. I had not really thought too much about it this year and quickly had to do some mind resetting to come to terms with time frames. Luckily we are not into the present thing too much, our priorities are definitely about making an effort to be with family and friends and to relax and enjoy great food, drink and company. This we did manage to achieve tenfold.

Christmas Eve Food

It has become a bit of a custom that we host a little gathering on Christmas Eve for our closest friends. I really look forward to cooking for this as I don’t get much of an opportunity these days to cater for a crowd. We keep it relaxed and casual and welcome with open arms anyone who can manage to turn up. While planning the menu for what I was going to serve, it struck me as to how much exposure to different cultures, races and technology has influenced our eating and cooking. I think back to when I was a little kid when savouries, Hors d’oeuvres (affectionately called Horses Doovers) and appetisers comprised things like cabana and cheese (fake) cut up into cubes and stuck on toothpicks which were inserted in an orange as well. Good old Savoy or Jatz biscuits (Australian owned and made then) with sliced tomato, vol au vents with tuna mornay or chicken and corn filling. If it was really grand, out came the canned asparagus which was served in bread that had had the crusts removed, folded like a Bunnings snag and tooth picked. It was no wonder I hated asparagus for many years! My husband keeps throwing extra items at me as I write this, none of them offering much flavour.

With no working kitchen to speak of this is what I served.

  • Smoked trout thanks to Wayne the Great at Trafalgar Butcher Shop. I have had a lot of smoked trout over the years and this was by far the loveliest I’ve ever had. Simply served with mini toast and lemon, dig in and help yourself!IMG_2512Some tiny little pancakes made in the morning, spread with lemon cream cheese, topped with a little smoked salmon and a sprig of dill. Yummy!Smoked Salmon with creamed cheeseMushroom Bruschetta. I had planned doing an Annabel Langbein recipe but decided to wing it. I find mushrooms are great cooked in the microwave. I finely sliced mushies and cooked for about 10 minutes. When cooked I added some olive oil, garlic and parley to mix, stirred and let sit till needed. I had earlier made some bases by thinly slicing a day old bread stick and drying in my ‘toy oven’ (gee, that took forever only managing about 10 slices a pop). When serving, a light spread of goats cheese onto toasts, topped with mushroom mix and more parsley sprinkled over.Mushroom BruschettaI mentioned earlier the difference having exposure to different cultures and technology has made to us. Two of the items I made Christmas Eve came from the marvel of sharing resources. Annabel Langbein’s Roast Capsicum Pesto and from Lisa over at The Gourmet Wog, her sensational  Garlic Toum both came from the internet (I have since bought Annabels books because I just love her style). The way so much positive information can be shared over the internet is astonishing. Keeps our minds expanding, learning and developing.IMG_2503Spring Rolls-A couple of years ago I purchased a little deep fryer just for these occasions. I cannot for the life of me understand how people fry things (even shallow fry) regularly. I reckon it stinks! This little fryer does do a great job, I set it up in the laundry and made both these beautiful spring rolls with pork again coming from Wayne the Great. Mix mince pork with some finely shredded cabbage, a good dose of grated ginger and a splash of soy. Mix REALLY well and roll into rice paper sheets. Keep covered to prevent drying till cooked.Spring RollsAnd the highlight of the menu, some Indian Pakoras. Golly these were beautiful, I used cauliflower, carrot and peas as the vegetables. Nearly didn’t happen as I couldn’t find any chickpea flour down here and had to get my son to bring some from Melbourne. So glad he did. The pakora were served with a mint sauce made from a spice blend we brought back from India earlier this year and greek yoghurt. Mmmm, Mmmm. So much nicer than canned Asparagus in soggy bread!Cauliflower pakoraChristmas Day.

I am a lover of traditional Christmas dinners, love the roasts, the veg, the pudding and everything in between.  Due to the lack of kitchen I was thankful we own a Weber kettle cooker, although with only 7 of us, all was easily managed.

Prior to Christmas day I planned and organised as much as I could, including:

  • making of gravy (no Gravox thanks very much) roasted vegetables, added stock and apple cider and reduced till ready. Blasted with the Bamix, sieved and stored ready to go.
  • Prepared the veggies, par boiled the spuds, shook them to roughen up their outsides so they crisp up nicely when roasted. Pumpkin and sweet potato cut up and ready.
  • Turkey stuffed. I have the easiest and most flavoursome stuffing that I use for any chicken or turkey. Into the food processor throw in 1 green capsicum (roughly chopped), enough bread for however big your bird is (for a chook I use 3-4 slices), 1 egg and salt and pepper to taste. Blast till pepper is chopped but not minced. Done. I put this into turkey breast cavity, covered with foil and tied the foil on. Into Roasting bag in fridge till Next day.
  • Picked up Pork and ham from butcher, yep Wayne again! Pork was beautiful, stuffed with apricot and macadamia. Ham was and still is amazing. Smoked by Wayne who supports local producers ASMAP!
  • Made the crumb topping for my tomato and onion casserole which to me IS Christmas Dinner!
  • Set up the boiler in the laundry for the pudding

All that was to do on Christmas morning was light the weber, put the pudding on to boil and assemble the tomato & onion casserole. When Weber ready, throw in the meat and the veg was roasted in the BBQ with the lid closed. Also of course, priority was to have a few laughs and set the table.

Didn’t take any photos, was too busy enjoying the day. We did however sadly miss doing something that has been a tradition for many years. Smashing the gingerbread house! Not sure why or how we managed to miss this but over the years there has been some very innovative ways used to bring about its demise. Stay tuned for what evolves!

Gingerbread house 2013

Thankyou to all the fellow bloggers out there who have given me great ideas and been inspirational in so many ways. May you all have a great festive season leading into a wonderful 2014.

 

 

First bite of the cherry!

The cherries I have been eagerly awaiting to ripen seem to be ready for picking, so tonight I had a shot at the first target.

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Just lovely!

Missing my kitchen 😦

It’s coming up to a year since we moved into the ‘new old house’ and I am really struggling with not having a kitchen. Not so much from an appliance point of view but I am going nuts not knowing where things are. Several different boxes in many different places and it’s frustrating the life out of me. With it being time to doing the Christmas Puddding and no stovetop to use I set up a gas burner in the laundry,

IMG_2071Mixed up the beautiful recipe of my mum’s (without raisins, thanks to bloody Coles). Which went into pudding bowls andIMG_2068

IMG_2070because our numbers are low for Christmas lunch this year I put some of the pudding mix into my Fowlers Vacola Pudding jars. Here the jars are sterilising in my majestic oven! All turned out well. IMG_2065While the puddings were bubbling away in the laundry I was caramelising some onions for an onion and goat cheese tart I was making the following day. This was happening in the lounge room on the camp cooker while watching a DVD.IMG_2073

Last of the garlic harvested.

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Great crop of garlic this year. plenty for us and for using as gifts. Smells fabulous!