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!


Confit Duck

Port and Fig Vinegar Jus

Fig Vinegar

Blanched Greens with Olives and Sundried Tomatoes

Simple Berry Sorbet



Grand Old Dame

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