Friday, January 28, 2011

Hahn White Lie

There is a new beer released onto the market this summer called Hahn White and through some market research we became Hahn White Summer Ambassadors. The idea was that we would be given a carton of beer to share with friends at an Australia Day BBQ. We invited a few of our beer loving mates, including 2 soon to be citizens, over for an Australia Day Eve BBQ to show them some real Aussie hospitality! The beer, which is to be served with a slice of orange, was supposed to arrive last week, but despite being a no show, we planned a great menu with an orange theme to compliment the flavour. We prepared a dijon mustard, honey and orange juice marinated and BBQ'd butterflied lamb and pumpkin, feta sausages served with a beetroot, orange and feta salad. All we needed was the beer! Monday - nothing. Tuesday evening came around with a guarantee that the beer would arrive. We stocked up on ice so that when the courier delivered, it could go straight on ice in the esky to chill. By 8 o'clock we carried on without the star of the show, disappointed we didn't have the "matching beer" for our meal, but content nonetheless digging into the amply filled wine rack for an alternative tipple and enjoying a fabulous Australia Day lamb barbie with our mates, who had just about forgiven us for inviting them round on false pretences! No beer for Australia Day - "Un Australian!"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jamie Oliver's "90 Minute Meals"

I love the concept of Jamie's 30 Minute Meals, and I love the results: great family style dishes impressively served. We have been so pleasantly surprised by the delicious flavour combinations with fresh ingredients. The biggest challenge is the timing! The beauty of the book is how Jamie sets you up to work on different parts of the dish so your finished products appear on the table all together.   Following Jamie's instructions and the flow of the meal is so simple but I take way more time than the allotted 30 mins! 

Take the Kimchee slaw for example. It was 15 mins by the time I had fished out the cabbage, radish and onion out of the fridge, found the shredder attachment and assembled the food processor, let alone making the salad, chicken, sauce and plati g it all up! My chicken also doesn't seem to cook as quickly as Jamie's! Maybe the Aussie chooks are bigger breasted!

Green Curry, Crispy Chicken, Kimchee Slaw, Rice Noodles
After several tries, my fastest was 45 mins (featured in my earlier post: Give thanks...) My next challenge is going to be a timed Masterchef "Pressure Test" style attempt, where I'll be under the pump (and maybe have the ingredient I need out on the bench beforehand!)

I'm determined to live up to Jamie's expectations and be able to produce his stunning and delicious dishes in better time!

Practice makes perfect I guess and so far no one is complaining - they'll come back for more!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Shaked Truth

The sad truth about being a foodie for me, is that I'm not immune to a bit of bulge in the tummy (or many other places for that matter) when I've been enjoying the fruits of my meal planning, it's execution and most importantly sampling. My latest strategy, that my friend (and colleague) embarked on  to battle the bulge, is breakfast protein shakes. Euuugh! I hear you!

At first it was a bit of a struggle. My first experience was of a gloopy mess of lumpy powder and milk. I did get a bit handier with the shaker and was able to make a fairly scullable concoction. Recently, however, it's come a long way with the introduction of a blender. What a difference! Now, not only are we able to have the dairy and protein components, but add in daily fruit requirements, and much needed flavour. And, our offers to be share have been taken up by our office with one especially nit-picking male colleague, so they must be pretty good!

Now, there's a menu of many smoothie options - banana, blueberry with banana shake mix? mixed berry with strawberry shake mix, fresh mango, strawberry and vanilla shake mix - all with a hit of extra protein.

I guess the real question - is it working? Well, it works for me right now. It's quick and satisfies my hunger, I easily make my fruit allocation for the day, I skip the toast from the coffee shop on the way to work. If nothing else, it allows me continue to enjoy my yummy menus in the evening, and I can keep my favourite delicious breakfast recipes for brunch with my husband or friends on the weekends!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Buck's Fizz

Even on New Years Day we managed to pull together our creative energies and come up with a theme for our New Years Day dinner party for 8 - Buck's Fizz. And what better way to start 2011 that with a Champagne inspired meal.

We started with a seafood entree - Oysters with Cava Dressing - a fabulous recipe by Jane Lawson in her book Cocina Nueva - which delighted our British friends who had never had oysters before and BBQd Balmain Bugs marinated in orange juice and chili oil.

Main was a whole barramundi with a fresh herb rub (from our little herb garden), wrapped in foil with Cava poured in which keeps it moist and caramelises beautifully. We love cooking whole fish, so the next challenge is to be able to elegantly serve it at the table! Luckily there was plenty of meat to go round despite the somewhat hapharzard carving style!

Finally, we pulled an old favourite from the Readers Digest Cookery Year, but adapted for the ice cream maker. I picked this cooking bible up from a 2nd hand book stall in a market for $4.00. Bargain! It's filled with classic recipes that my Mum cooked for us as kids, but also has sections on cuts of meat, descriptions of produce, and basic techniques.

Champagne Charlie is an ice cream inspired by the cocktail, and was a scrumptious and glamorous but light way to finish our Buck's Fizz inspired menu.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Delicious Every Day of the Year

Today, now that the holiday rush is winding down and we are back into routine, I pull out my Delicious 2011 Diary for the first time. Most people use their favourite diary for their plans and To-do Lists. I do too! But it's for my meal plans and grocery shopping lists. The diary has pride of place in the kitchen and identifies what we're eating for the week and the page number and Date of the Delicious Mag, or Recipe book in which to find it (omission of this would mean I could never be surprised by dinner prepared by my husband when I walk in after work!) It's not a well kept diary, but a well used one! It goes with me to the grocery shop with the shopping list scribbled down the side, and scored out as items land in the trolley; the menus are scrubbed out if a better recipe comes along, arrows pointing to different meals on different days when we've changed our plans.

People think I'm crazy knowing what we'll be eating for dinner next week, but for us it cuts our supermarket time down and we go in on a mission, rather than aimlessly wandering the aisles for inspiration; it cuts our food wastage down, so much so we often wake up on a Saturday morning with nothing but eggs and our condiment jars staring at us when we open the fridge door, and it means throughout the weeks we rarely eat the same thing twice (unless it's a special favourite or one that was good enough to serve for our next dinner party!)

So, as I open my diary for another year, I am excited to fill it with meals plans of more delicious healthy food, some of it to share in the blog :-)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Merry Christmas "Elliott" Style

Christmas Day came around and we finally got to our first Elliott Christmas feast - with the wine to match (Elliott Semillon from Glandore Estate in the Hunter Valley!) And what a feast it was. We had a very relaxed afternoon drinking Pimms, playing games, chatting, handing around delicious canapés and preparing dinner. Sitting down to eat the magnificent spread was fabulous, with lots of wine and champers flowing shared with friends and family and of course delicious tasty food!

The menu:
3 canapés - Double Smoked Salmon Mousse served in individual shot glasses with Grissini Sticks; Proscuitto and Basil wrapped Marinated Bocconcini and Oysters with Tetsuya's Oyster Vinagrette.
The main event - Poached Turkey and Prawn Salad, Maple Glazed Ham, Dad's Gravadlax (whole fresh salmon marinated in Filipino Tanduay Rum, Brown Sugar, Lemon and Dill), Jamie Oliver's Yummy Dressed Potatoes and Green Salad.
Dessert - Tropical Mango Pudding with Mango Ice Cream and fresh Mango.
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