Sunday, April 29, 2012

155/656 - Maggie Beer's barbecued kangaroo with anchovy vinaigrette and soft polenta

What an impressive name for a Sunday night dinner at home! I usually leave the kangaroo cooking to Trev, but thoroughly enjoyed doing it myself tonight using Stephanie's directions and my trusty stopwatch. 45 seconds each side in a hot pan, 2 minutes each side in a raging hot oven and then 5 minutes rest. 

The meat turned out beautifully, very rare, which is how we like to eat our kangaroo. The polenta was magically smooth and wonderfully cheesy and the vinaigrette added the most incredible flavour to the meat. It was a sour and salty little dressing which included my two favourite salty things; anchovies and capers.

I realise it's not a very humble thing to do, but when my plate had been wiped clean, I declared this meal to be one of the best I had eaten in a long time. 

Lucky for me the family agreed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

154/656 - Garlic prawns

I experienced mixed emotions when I first realised that our eldest child had developed a love of seafood to match my own. On one hand I was proud that he was adventurous enough to eat virtually anything that came out of the ocean, regardless of its appearance. On the other hand I became acutely aware of the extra little pair of hands grabbing for the last crayfish leg or marinated octopus.

Needless to say, Henry was at the table, sleeves pulled up and fork at the ready when these garlicky little babies came out of the oven. It might seem amazing that I have only just cooked this simple recipe. The truth is I have gone to cook this many times and am always gazumped at the first step, which is to marinate the garlic in oil overnight. I can never wait that long!

We enjoyed the marinade on this dish so much we threw it over the chicken that is busily barbecuing itself for our main course enjoyment. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

153/656 - Washday pudding

Oh what a fabulous way to end the week!

I bought myself a pudding tin a few weeks ago and have been dying to try it out. Imagine my disappointment when I tried to drop it into my largest saucepan tonight, only to find it didn't fit! In the end I managed to tip it in sideways with one of the pesky wide handles pointing downwards, deep in the water.  

I assumed that the pudding would only cook on one side due to my lopsided steaming effort and so was very pleased to find the pudding evenly steamed. Learning for the day; puddings are foolproof!

The honey sauce I made earlier was nice and thick by the time the pudding was steamed, and turned out to be a lovely topping, teamed with a few dollops of thick cream for good measure. 

152/656 - Simple coconut-milk fish curry

It has been an enormous day of cooking in my kitchen today! Pancakes, dinner rolls, honey sauce, pudding and this little gem I found hiding in the fish chapter.  

As the title of this recipe states, this is a wonderfully simple dish to make. The fish is poached in coconut milk spiced up with spring onions, SIX cloves of garlic (yes six!), lemongrass, chillies, kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce. We ate this on rice with piles of carrots and beans and the very tasty dinner rolls I created today which were fabulous for soaking up the extra juices.

151/656 - Honey sauce

I made this sauce in readiness for tonight's pudding. 

Made from honey, vanilla, cream and butter, this sauce will be at it's best when cooled and thickened. 

Pudding post to come!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

150/656 - Mary's rabbit pie

It's a rabbit-fest at our house! 

Another wild rabbit from our Yarra Valley food tour was consumed tonight in this wonderful, although very time consuming, pie. I have mentioned before that I am not a fast cook, but four hours to prepare a mid-week dinner has to be a record even for me. 

The first step was to poach the rabbit. For two hours. Damn. I didn't start cooking until 3:30 having spent the afternoon chatting to my Dad, but having promised rabbit pie to my boys for dinner, rabbit pie it was going to be.  

Step 2 - Make shortcrust pastry. I realise that making pastry is not for everybody but I am completely hooked on the taste and I am getting good at it too! Stephanie would have been VERY proud of tonight's effort. My best yet by a mile. As my friend Emma would say, I am getting my pastry hands!

Step 3 - Sauté bacon and mushrooms, then sear liver and kidneys. My little rabbit came sans liver, but I was amused frying my first kidneys to find that they bounce like superballs. 

Step 4 - Toast almonds and mix with everything else cooked so far to make the filling. Add parsley for lovely green colour and as it turns out, fantastic flavour. 

Step 5 - Make decadent, creamy white sauce mixed with rabbit stock, lemon juice and cream. Mix with rabbit and other bits. 

Step 6 - Roll out pastry and bake blind. 

Step 7 - Make breadcrumbs. Thank you Thermomix. 

Step 8 - Put it all together and bake until lovely and brown. 

Looking back I am not as embarrassed at the four hour cooking time as I thought I might be. As well as being a fantastic dinner, tonight's effort also represented recipe number 150 (hooray!) and also my first completed chapter. Only 506 recipes and 113 chapters to go. 

It's OK, even I think I'm mad. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

149/656 - Rabbit with prunes

When we cook wild rabbit I always feel like we are doing our bit for the environment, supporting the eradication of the little pests. That is until I read that rabbit shooters would need to snare approximately 150 million rabbits each year to begin to reduce the size of the population. Not sure that my thrice annual wild rabbit purchase is going to make a whole lot of difference there!

This revelation, however, does not change the amount I enjoy eating a well cooked Flopsy. I loved this recipe, the generous amount of bacon, the meat of course, but most of all the prunes which were always going to taste divine after soaking in French brandy and a hefty glug of Shiraz. 

I did not serve this on mashed potato as was suggested, but all the better for my family. I reserved rather than served most of the juices which means rabbit risotto for Sunday lunch. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

148/656 - Grilled spiced Indian quail with fried coconut

So I have finally had a go at grilling dainty little quail.

I was quite surprised at how robust these little birds were, finding it easier than expected to separate the skin from the breast. The lovely smelling spice paste was rubbed under the skin, all over the fleshy side and finally over the wee little legs. 

The birds took only 9 minutes to grill, talk about fast food! I skipped the boning step because we were really hungry and scattered some of my lovely fried coconut over the toasty birds. Ten minutes later we had devoured this tasty little entrée. 

In my opinion the meat tasted a bit like duck but nowhere near as fatty. This of course means that quail has now jumped to a very lofty position on my list of favourite things to eat. Cooked the Stephanie way of course!

Monday, April 9, 2012

147/656 - Quail eggs in coconut sauce

How cute are quail eggs! 

We picked up these little beauties on the weekend at Yarra Valley Game Meats who have the most amazing range of products. The minimum purchase was two dozen eggs so apart from the few that we could not resist eating, I decided to dramatically increase the egg to sauce ratio in this recipe. 

The first step was to boil the eggs and interestingly I could not find cooking times for quail eggs in my Cook's Companion. Of course I found the info on the web (5min boiling compared to 8min for a chook egg) but am wondering if this information might have been included in the new "rainbow" version of the book. It is of course possible that I just missed it so would be happy to hear from anybody who can find it in either one. 


I used some of my lovely fried coconut in this sauce, along with onion, tomato (seeded and peeled), a very Indian array of spices (heaven) and coconut milk. The smell of the sauce cooking took me back to the early days of my marriage when I went through an extraordinarily long spell of preparing Indian food on an almost daily basis. I am still quite partial to Indian food but prefer a wider variety in my diet nowadays. 

I will definitely make this again and think I might even give it a go with chicken eggs given that we have them on tap at our place. Whether it be a disaster or a success I will be sure to add a post script to share the result.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

146/656 - Fried coconut

I am preparing to embark on a journey filled with all things quail. In preparation, I have made this incredible smelling concoction which will adorn both my quail eggs and my first ever grilled quail. 

Who knew coconut could smell so good? And I am not even hungry after stuffing myself silly with fat, juicy goat sausages from the lovely Ken at Yarra Valley Game Meats who we visited yesterday as a part of our family foodie day trip.   

This gorgeous smelling pile of coconut was fried with garlic, spring onion, coriander and freshly ground cumin and should last for about a week. I have already boiled and peeled my quail eggs ready for the next recipe but after a day of egg hunting (Easter eggs that is) I am wondering if it might be time to test out some of our wine purchases instead. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

145/656 - Popcorn

Popcorn means several things to me; going to the movies, lolly gobble bliss bombs (which I actually haven't eaten in years) and a really cool song that was big when I was small.

Tonight I made popcorn the Stephanie way and it was quite a different experience. There were two choices to be made when making this recipe and it was all about the seasoning. Olive oil or butter? Cayenne pepper or cumin seeds? 

I chose the oil and the seeds.

The olive oil was lovely and of course healthier than butter in it's raw form, and I liked the cumin seed flavour, although more would have been nice. The boys absolutely loved popcorn done this way which was not at all a part of my late night snacking plan.

Sadly for them their pilfering has left me hungry and I have spent the last half hour searching for their Easter eggs. I am not sure what is worse, stealing Easter presents from my children* or the fact that my husband knows well enough to hide them from me.

*Fortunately for my children my searching proved fruitless. And eggless. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

144/656 - Leeks à la grecque

I love to find new ways of cooking my vegetables and these leeks were the highlight of our dinner tonight.

Cooked "in the Greek way" with olive oil, tomato paste, herbs, garlic and lemon juice, the leeks finished up beautifully tender and well flavoured. 

Apparently this method of cooking also works well for other vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini and okra. I particularly like the sound of cooking mushrooms this way and will be trying this out with my breakfast eggs in the morning. Yum.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

143/656 - Kangaroo tail soup

It's been a gamey week in our house. Venison pie, venison steaks and now roo tail soup. 

The kangaroo tail was easy enough to find at the Queen Vic market (in the deli section if you are interested) but the venison was a different story. I don't have a problem with being a meat eater, but as we travelled down the very long driveway of the Venison Farm in Bass I was trying desperately not to catch the eye of any of the beautiful deer that ran to the fence to have a look as we passed. The thought that we might be taking home one of their parents in our esky was almost too much for me.

Almost, but not quite. The pie and the steaks were delicious and I am quite keen to tuck into the venison roast currently residing in our freezer.

Needless to say I was pleased I did not have to eyeball a kangaroo in order to obtain my tail. The soup needed to simmer for four hours and stupidly I decided to cook this on an evening when a better decision would have been to curl up in bed with a good book. I dutifully simmered and skimmed for about an hour, and then my energy flagged and I ended up on the couch with a glass of wine.

Unbeknownst to me my soup started to boil and a good amount of it boiled away before I finally came back to do another skim. So what we ended up with was a lovely rich soup with deep flavours, but much less of it than there should have been. I am so glad I caught it when I did, and saved enough of the soup to make Skippy losing his tail worthwhile.