Monthly Archives: August 2016

A lovely holiday with family

We have not long returned from a wonderful family holiday. Gary and I, together with a friend from France, flew to Brisbane for a couple of nights to visit with some very dear friends. While we were there we travelled to the Gold Coast and dropped into a wild life sanctuary to catch up with some of the locals.

The trip home was crazy… What should have taken a little under an hour, took more than three hours! And they say Melbourne traffic is recidulous!!! We all had a bit of a laugh about it and needless to say some of us weren’t too keen to sit down for a while after we arrived home. Thanks to Krys for a wonderful roast leg of lamb with loads of veg on the first night, it was absolutely delicious.

Back at Brisbane Airport we met up with our son, his fiancée and our grandson, who had been up since the wee small hours of the morning in order to be there. We then all travelled to Townsville together. From Townsville we took a ferry to beautiful Maggie (Magnetic) Island. Maggie Island is a special place for all of us, and we soon settled into our accommodation, stocked the fridge and picked up some local seafood. During our stay on the Island we got to walk the beaches, watch some stunning sunrises, enjoy a little reading, and for some there was a little swimming.

Of course there was a little cooking happening. Fresh fruit platters, salads, and some pretty good breakfasts as well.

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Tropical Prawn Salad

A few days later we all packed up and headed back to the mainland where we picked up a couple of hire cars and headed of on a 5 ½ hour drive to Port Douglas. We had rented a house for four nights, and during our stay here we made a trip to the Daintree (getting ourselves terribly lost along the way to the Ferry),

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we had breakfast with the birds at a local wildlife sanctuary,

the younger generation went Bungy Jumping!!!

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5-4-3-2-1 BUNGYYYYYYY……

and we all went shopping.  Those that wanted to, spent time in the pool and there was fund cooking (and eating), using some wonderful fresh seafood. I loved having the opportunity to cook with our son, Chris, and friend, Fabien.

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A collaboration – Surf and Turf cooked by Chris, Fabien and me

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Now we are back home, there has been some serious work happening in the garden.  We have planted 31 fruit trees.  Now we have to trim and train them espellier style, then be patient and allow them to settle, grow and hopefully provide a little fruit in the years to com.

There has also been time for cooking – Chris introduced Fabien to Chicken Parmigiana during their time together, and Fabien wanted to know how to make it. He now plans to introduce his friends, back in Paris, to my version of Chicken Parmigiana!

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Chicken Parmigiana

While we have been working hard in the corner patch, we have also taken a little time to explore our bigger back yard, this time we discovered Lake Tyers Beach, it was a lovely afternoon, the men enjoyed some local fish and chips while I had a gluten free burger with the lot – that is without the bun. Then we went for a nice walk to the beach.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Chicken Parmigiana

Tropical Prawn Salad

The Corner Patch

Glossary

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Aussie’s 18th Birthday Celebrations.

Last weekend we hitched up the trailer, packed up some food, a couple of birthday cakes, bedding and a little wine and hit the road. We had a six hour drive ahead of us, as we headed to central Victoria for a weekend of camping, birthday celebrations and loads of fun. When we arrived at camp, those that had already arrived had settled in around the camp fire and were enjoying pre-dinner drinks, so instead of unpacking we decided to join them. But finally thought it prudent to get unpacked and set up so that we could start thinking about dinner.

In planning for the weekend, Dave, Sonnie, Aussie and I had prepared a meal plan so that we knew what food to bring. The main thing was to keep it as simple as possible…

  • Friday night – pizzas cooked in the camp pizza oven that Dave says was inspired by me. (apparently I suggested that a pizza oven would be great at the camp site, so Dave googled and then set about making one, a few years ago) we would also cook sausages cooked at the camp fire.
  • Saturday lunch – homemade bread cooked in the pizza oven, rissoles, potatoes cooked in the camp oven with toppings, and coleslaw.
  • Breakfasts – everyone to look after themselves.
  • Saturday night – birthday dinner at the Logan Pub

13939407_10208694780598884_8744332955621302759_nAs we unpacked and set up, Sonnie, Cath and Aussie prepared the pizza toppings, and when I got our Esky out I sent down the food that I had bought to add to the evening. Everyone got to make their own pizzas selecting from the toppings available, and Dave was in charge of cooking them in the pizza oven – What a treat… What an eye opener for Fabien, a friend and chef from Paris who was visiting with us for six weeks. With the sausages cooked at the camp fire, we all sat around enjoying some laughs and catching up on recent happenings. The night was freezing, everyone was tired, so we all decided to head off to bed for the night.

The next morning we were up nice and early, the DSC03986night had been a very cold one, and the campfire was inviting, as was a nice hot cup of tea. Brekky for our family was bacon and egg sandwiches. The fun was beginning. There were quad bikes and motor bikes to ride, a drone to fly, the camp fire to keep burning, the pizza oven to get fired up, wood to cut, more people arriving etc. etc. While the men, or should I say, boys, hooned around on the bikes, and cut wood, Cin learned how to ride the quad bike and she and Chris took our grandson Cooper to see the bah bahs (AKA sheep). For the rest of the day that is all he wanted to do – go see the bah bahs…

As the morning wore on it was time to make the bread, so, using bread mixes, I added the yeast and water, and worked the dough making it ready to set it aside for its first rise – I did this by placing the dough into very large, floured pots and setting them close to the camp fire. When they had proved and doubled in size, I knocked them down, formed them into loaves and set them on trays, again, covered by the large pots and put them back by the fire for their final rise before they went into the pizza oven. While this was happening, I sat and individually wrapped a stack of potatoes in foil ready to be cooked. When everything was ready, Sonnie and I jumped on the quad bikes and took off while Dave, Jan and I’m not sure who else looked after the cooking of the bread and the potatoes.

When we come back the bread was cooked, and all that was to be done was to cook the rissoles that I had made, put out bread, the amazing coleslaw that Sonnie had made, and

the toppings for the potatoes, and let everyone help themselves. It was a late lunch and I can tell you, there was not much left at the end of the meal.

Late afternoon we took to whatever mode of transport was available and went and watched as the sunset on what had been a wonderful day…

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Sunset Perfection (Photo by Chris Malyon)

But all was not finished.   There were cakes (Chcolate Mud Cake and Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake) to be decorated before we set off then we set off to the Logan Pub Aussie’s 18th birthday dinner. (They sent a bus to pick us up from the middle of a paddock, in the middle of nowhere, and took us to the pub.) We settled in and had a great meal, cake and a lot of banter before we all headed back to the camp site. After more time around the camp fire, it was time to turn in and get some rest.

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The next morning we had to break camp fairly early, as we had to get back home and prepare for the next trip in a couple of days time. There was a lot of work to do and very little time to do it in…

Happy Birthday Aussie, we hope it was the best one yet!

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

BBQ Beef Rissoles

Thai Flavoured Pork Rissoles

Our Mum’s Dressing for Coleslaw

Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake

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What to cook????

We had visitors coming for the weekend from Melbourne, and I just couldn’t come up with a menu for their visit… I knew that I had to cook fish, as Ora eats only seafood, Claude only eats meat when he is not at home, or has others to cook for. So I wanted to cook some form of meat also. But what to cook????

Friday afternoon we headed to Lakes Entrance, which is where we go to buy our fresh. So grabbed a couple of favourite recipe books and while Gary drove, I scoured the books. I come up with a few ideas… But needed to wait to see what fish was available.

So what did I buy… I got salmon – maybe for cold smoking, or gravlax, I got a whole duck fish – just because I thought it looked really cute, I also got some fillets because we love duck fish, so it wouldn’t go to waste, some flathead, again, if I don’t use it, I’ll freeze it. Then I spied some mussels and coffin bay oysters, added them to the bag, along with some local prawns, paid for my purchases, and then we headed back to Sale to the fruit and vegie shop. I was finally coming up with a plan…

We would have duck fish with oysters or mussels or prawns and a nice creamy sauce. I would smoke or cure some salmon and pair that with some asparagus. For dessert I would make some little meringues and make some berry sorbet. Now for main – should I be brave and serve a French man Confit Duck??? I decided to put my fears aside, and prepare a duck tasting platter with Confit Duck.

When I got home, I did a bit more research DSC03902and discovered that I didn’t have enough time to cold smoke the salmon for the next day, but still salted it, so that I could get the process underway. But I did have time to cure salmon for Gravlax.   So entrée would comprise of blanched asparagus topped with thin slices of gin cured salmon, a small quenelle of fish cream (poached off-cuts from the salmon and duckfish, a little double cream and horseradish pureed to a smooth consistency and put into the fridge to set a little) There would also be a little drizzle of truffle oil and Fig Vinegar, together with a sprinkling of Egg MImosa.

The fish main would be Duck Fish with Coffin Bay Oysters, Prawns and a Champaign Sauce. The duck tasting platter was going to be made up of Confit Duck, mini duck and quince tarts, slithers of air dried duck, duck neck sausages and a simple green salad with air dried duck cooked until it was crispy – of course there has to be a sauce, so a jus would be made from duck stock (taken from the home store), port and Fig Vinegar.

Vegetables would be served at room temperature. Blanched greens (brocollini, little green beans, sugar snap and snow peas), black olives and sundried tomatoes, with a light dressing. It looked so bright and vibrant, but I dressed it too early and it changed the colour a little, which was very disappointing. Fortunately it didn’t change the flavour though! The other dish was of mixed mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil with white wine, garlic and a little thyme.

Saturday we were up bright and early, a lot of work to do. Gary took care of the yard and the house, while I set to in the kitchen. I got the Duck Confit on, and left it to cook on the stove for several hours. The duck neck was stuffed and put into the fridge, the salad and vegetables were all prepared, and the jus was made. Then there were the meringues for the dessert. The first batch was a disaster, the next, however, were really good. I made mixed berry sorbet and raspberry sorbet. Then prepared the Champaign sauce for the fish.

Our guests were due to arrive at around 4 o’clock, and they arrived just as we finished cleaning the benches down. Dinner was ready to for the final preparation, so there was little else to do, but show them the home and our garden, and then sit down and chat – and we did plenty of that. The meal was further improved by the beautiful French wines and French cheeses that our friends bought to the table. Unfortunately by the time that we had finished the cheese, there was no room for dessert. But that will keep for another day. Again another great meal, with wonderful friends, great wine and fantastic conversation.

The next morning I was up early to make everything ready for breakfast, and we enjoyed a simple leisurely meal before taking time to relax, talk and view some photos that they had taken on a recent trip to China. Unfortunately their visit with us was over way too soon and they headed back to Melbourne.

Now, what else has been happening…

I decided to try cold smoking the salmon that I had prepared. I had a new little cold smoker, that you put sawdust in and allow it to burn slowly for about ten hours. Unfortunately I don’t think the sawdust that I had was fine enough, so it became a battle of the wills…. I won, DSC03943and eventually got my salmon smoked. Let me tell you it is delicious. Quite delicate and soft too. I also have another goats cheese done, and ready to share, and I used up the left over prawns to make Thai style prawn and corn fritters.DSC03933

In the garden, the camelias are putting on a stunning display, and Gary and I got to work and finally finished cleaning up the Grand Old Dame of the Garden. There was another load to the tip, just from clearing that area. Then 12 roses arrived, and they needed to be planted into the round magnolia bed (6 Delbard “Cote d’Azur” and 6 David Austinn “Tranquility”. The bed was all ready, having been prepared two months ago, and the places had been marked, so it wasn’t quite such a difficult task.

Finally, we had another trip to Melbourne to pick up a friend from France who will be joining us for the next 6 weeks. DSC03946So made homemade takeaway and once we had finished our shopping, we took the food to share with our son and his family, and had a lovely visit before heading to the airport and then driving back to Maffra.

Also Gary has bought me a new bicycle, but I haven’t had time to go for a ride yet!! Oh well, hopefully soon.

Well my friends, I think that’s about it for now.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Confit Duck

Port and Fig Vinegar Jus

Fig Vinegar

Blanched Greens with Olives and Sundried Tomatoes

Simple Berry Sorbet

Glossary

Camillias

Grand Old Dame