Lest We Forget

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Today I will take time to remember those who gave all they had so that we may live the lives we do today.

We, in Australia, breathe free air. We can walk our children to school without fear. We can sit side by side with supporters of the opposition at a football match and engage in friendly banter.

We can wear what we choose. We can have an opinion and, more importantly, we can express it in public safely.

We have so much to be grateful for in this beautiful country. Today, be grateful for those men and women who never made it home to see the reward of their bravery and ultimate sacrifice.

 

Lest we forget.

 

20140411_123010(in the process of getting our Pappa’s medals and service photo framed)

Footy food and tiny carrots

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So it turns out I didn’t need to do any cooking for Fish Friday, my bloke’s parents had us over for dinner and it was delicious! I’ll save my cajun swordfish for another post…

It’s Saturday night and my Saints are on telly, so I thought it would be good to crack out some footy food for Wee Man and myself to consume as we cheered! Enter Jamie Oliver’s Korean chicken wings.

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Jamie uses whole chicken wings, I used wings already jointed from my butcher tonight. You can really use whatever you like best. For little kids the drumettes are perfect, for big kids go nuts and use whole wings.

  • 1kg chicken wings
  • 2 heaped tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp low-salt soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli
  • Chilli oil (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan forced. Toss the chicken wings in the five spice and a pinch of salt. Spread out on a shallow baking tray and cover with foil. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, grate the ginger, garlic and chilli into a small bowl. Mix in the ketchup, soy and honey and set aside. If you’re feeding consenting adults and not small people, feel free to add a generous shake of chilli oil to the glaze.

Remove the wings from the oven and take off the foil. Coat the wings with the glaze, sprinkle over sesame seeds and return to the oven. Cook for a further 30 minutes, tossing the wings every 10 minutes or so to coat evenly with the sticky glaze.

Once the wings are done, dig in! I usually serve these with rice if they’re for a meal rather than finger food. Tonight we had them with steamed veg, mostly because my fridge can’t handle a big bowl of leftover rice right now…

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So this is the finished product, of course we started eating them straight away so there are decidedly fewer wings than in the before shot.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter, and spare a thought for the Easter Bunny, nothing but tiny carrots from us tonight!

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Fish Friday

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I’m starting to think of fish recipes for dinner this Friday. I’m thinking swordfish steaks with a lovely Sri Lankan curry sauce, or my favourite crispy skin salmon with scalloped potatoes, or even Thai fish cakes. We’re very lucky to have a great fishmonger a couple of towns away, and when I’ve got a bit extra I pay him a visit. His produce is a bit more expensive than the supermarkets, but the quality is obvious.

So, lovely readers, is there anything that you would like to see for the Fish Friday recipe? What do you have to eat on Good Friday in your homes?

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Two great chefs, two great recipes

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I borrowed my fabulous neighbour’s Karen Martini Where the Heart Is cookbook last week, and the first thing to catch my eye was the bitter chocolate torte. Dark, rich, sticky and decadent, perfect for these cooler nights.

Karen Martini’s Bitter chocolate torte

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  • 125g butter
  • 435g bitter dark chocolate, chopped, plus extra grated chocolate for lining tin
  • 5 free-range eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) espresso coffee
  • 100ml brandy
  • 130g plain flour, sifted (I used white spelt flour)
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 165ºC. Brush a 26cm round spring-form cake tin with butter and line the base with baking paper. Coat sides of pan with grated chocolate.

Combine the remaining chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth, then take off the heat and set aside to cool. Stir egg yolks into chocolate mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add coffee and brandy and stir. Add flour and mix until smooth.

Place egg whites in a bowl with salt and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually pour in sugar and beat until thick and glossy. Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture in three batches, folding until mixture is smooth.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for one hour or until top is crisp and a cake skewer comes out moist. Remove torte from oven and gently press down edges. Turn oven off and return torte for 1 hour to cool slowly. Allow torte to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before unmoulding.

Perfect, served with berries and cream.

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Of course, a warming main is usually the precursor to a delicious dessert.

Queue Jamie Oliver’s perfect roast beef!

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I can assure you, the crust was crisp and flavoursome, the meat was tender and juicy, and the red wine sauce I whipped up to go with it was perfect. The garlic cloves were delicious squeezed over the beef.

For the red wine sauce, sauté 3-4 eschalots and 2 garlic cloves in a knob of butter until translucent. Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup tomato paste. Stir for 2 minutes continuously, then stir in 2 1/2 cups red wine. Simmer until sauce has reduced by 2/3. Taste for seasoning, then strain into a bowl. Return to the pan, then stir in a further 4 tbsp of butter. If you want to, you can add 1/2 tsp beef stock powder for a richer flavour. I added the beef juices from the baking tray.

Simple supper

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I only had to worry about feeding myself last night, so it was time for a simple supper!
My prosciutto and gruyere tart came courtesy of Rocksalt (http://www.rocksaltfoodco.com.au) here in Ocean Grove, all I had to do was make a side.
A quick exploration of the kitchen revealed a nice ripe avocado, vine tomatoes and a cucumber. So one of the tomatoes went into the oven with herbs while Wee Man was getting bathed and put to bed, then all it took was a quick assembly.

Quick, delicious and guilt-free!

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Roast tomato salsa

  • 1 large tomato
  • Half a small cucumber, diced
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • Small handful basil and thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 160ºC.

Slice the tomato into thick slices. Strip the leaves from the herbs and scatter over the slices, then season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or longer on a lower temperature.

Remove from oven and let cook for 10 minutes, then roughly chop and toss through the cucumber and avocado.

*You don’t have to roast the tomato, but I find it adds a wonderful savoury flavour that you won’t get from fresh tomato.

Winning the neighbour lottery

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I think in the great neighbour lottery, I definitely came out a winner. I have fabulous neighbours! CC and AB live at the back of my house and B lives next door, sharing my fruit tree fence.

They’re the type of neighbours who pop over with fresh veggies from the garden and have a chat, the type of neighbours who have you over for dinner and a drink and swap cookbooks. Our three dwellings form a cosy little triangle of laughter, good food and good conversation.

Last night, at one such neighbour dinner, Wee Man played on the floor with lego as the four of us adults ate a wonderful meal. I tried to coax Wee Man to the table, but he was having none of it.

CC spent a good number of years as a kindergarten teacher. She offered the observation that Wee Man might do better to have his main meal in the middle of the day as most kids his age are not that hungry after 5pm.

She’s right! Come dinner time, Wee Man usually has a few bites of his meal and then we have the inevitable battle of trying to get a few more mouthfuls in. So this post is for CC, lunchtime pasta with a tuna sauce.

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Tuna sauce

  • 185g tin tuna in oil
  • 4 spring onions, sliced up to dark green bit
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 chargrilled pepper, sliced (I use piquillos)
  • 4 artichoke hearts, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 2 yellow summer squash, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A handful pasta per person (I used gluten free animal shapes for Wee Man)

Pour a tablespoon of the tuna oil into a frying pan, add the spring onions, garlic and squash and sauté until the squash begins to soften.

Add the drained tuna and the rest of the ingredients to the pan and mix, cook on a low heat while the pasta cooks.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the tuna sauce. Toss to combine and serve. Enjoy!

*You can use any veggies in this sauce. Corn, peas, carrot, whatever your kids like. Mine is just weird and loves olives…

*If you like a bit of spice, you can add some chilli to your tuna sauce after you’ve served the kids. I added a tablespoon of the jalapeño sour cream from the other night’s mexican chicken wings to mine for a nice chilli kick. And I will put up the mexican wings recipe very soon!

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As usual, always happy for comments and suggestions 🙂

Birthday dinner

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My brother has his birthday on Thursday. He has a particular fondness for slow roasted pork. Crunchy crackling, generously seasoned with fennel salt. Meltingly tender meat that shreds compliantly at the touch of a fork. Browned roasted vegetables and apple-scented gravy…

So, brother, dinner this weekend?Image