Mango Sorbet- a David Lebovitz recipe (from his book The Perfect Scoop) and it couldn’t be easier. Blitz the flesh of two lusciously ripe mangoes, with the juice of a lime, 2/3 cup of water, 2/3 cup sugar, and a little rum (Malibu works fine), chill in the fridge, then churn. A perfect finish to a summer’s day.
Pork Cotelleta- We headed down to Red Velvet Lounge for a celebratory meal for two. We ate pork terrine on slices of sourdough, a lovely quail entree, real fish & chips, but I have to say our favourite was the pork cotelleta. Although we ate it last time as soon as we saw it on the menu there was no other choice. It was served with an aioli, red cabbage, mint and peas. The crisp crumb coating slices to reveal juicy and tender pork, and the marriage with the lemon, cabbage and mint was perfect. It even looked seasonally appropriate with the vibrant colours of the cabbage and the peas. As Rob finished, he did admit that he probably wouldn’t be able to resist ordering it every time it was on the menu!
Coconut Pavlova topped with softly whipped cream, mangoes, raspberries and coconut flakes- It breaks my heart when I see people buying those horrid boxed pavs from the supermarket, I can’t understand it, a pav is so easy to make! Nigella’s tip is to add a little Malibu to the mix. Pavlova is one of my favourite summer desserts, the combination of fresh fruit with cream, and the crunchy carapace of meringue revealing the snow white marshmallow centre. I know it’s an Australian cliché, but I find it a completely seductive one. I’m sure this won’t be the last one I make this season.
Roquefort- we found a creamy wedge of this mould speckled cheese for nibbling on before Christmas lunch, I had to keep reminding myself that the actual meal was yet to come.
Ocean Trout Tarator- a favourite mass catering option for us, a Greg Malouf recipe we saw on Food Safari. It can be prepared hours in advance, and I think it actually is better when it’s cold. We wrapped and baked the ocean trout (could have been salmon) fillet in the oven for about half an hour until it was just cooked. Whilst that was happening we combined Greek yoghurt with tahini, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Once the fish is cooked, and cooled this mixture is spread on top. The final stage is to chop roasted walnuts, fresh coriander, mint, chillies, and red onions and combine them with olive oil, lemon juice and sumac. This is then spread over the top of the yoghurt. It is quite a beautiful dish, and the combination of flavours is balanced, so no one flavour overpowers another. This was our contribution to the family Christmas lunch, certainly a low stress one!
Roast Rib of beef- our butcher never disappoints, this year he presented us with an aged rib of beef. This we shared with friends on Boxing Day. Rob roasted it with rosemary and onions gently for a bit over an hour then a quick blast to finish it off. You know it’s perfect when the blood oozes out as it’s sliced. Carnivore-like, the four of us squabbled over the bones- where the best bit of meat is- whilst the true carnivores, Nigella and her boyfriend Genghis, had to settle for our chewed bones. For dessert, of course…
Christmas pudding- we tried a new recipe this year from the December issue of Gourmet Traveller. The fruit, a mix of prunes, dates, cranberries, currants and raisins, was soaked overnight in warmed muscat, brandy, quince jelly and cumquat marmalade (our tweak cause we don’t like mixed peel). A lighter pudding than our normal recipe, we thought the cranberries and prunes were a successful addition, so it may just be our new pudding recipe. We have a spare that we will mature over the next few months, and we’re already looking forward to a mid-winter taste test.
Duck stuffed with veal, pork, pistachios & apricots- a boned duck with a stuffing of onions, veal and pork mince, pistachios, apricots and herbs, cooked and then eaten cold the next day. How the house of duck received its name, and why Nigella (the dog) loves to stay at Rob’s parents place in Launceston.
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes- I was dobbed in for dessert duty at the work Christmas bbq, so we cooked 60 of these babies. Nigella’s recipe is a winner, but what’s not to love about a cake that combines Guinness and chocolate with a cream cheese frosting? The cake is surprisingly light (when you know how much sugar, butter and sour cream goes into it) and the stout adds a spicy flavour, almost like gingerbread. We topped each of the cupcakes with a single jaffa and a couple of green fondant icing holly leaves. The BBQ went strangely quiet when dessert was consumed.
Cherries from our tree- I think this may be my favourite. Our precocious Stella cherry tree in the orchard at the block produced a respectable crop of cherries this year. We netted it before Christmas but they weren’t ripe until the 31st, when we made a flying visit to the block before the heat (38deg!) forced us inside. We plucked the deep red fruits from our little tree, juicily munching before spitting out the pips- then stood in a moment of quiet pride looking at our orchard with cherry stained lips and fingers.
Nigella in the orchard with our Mulberry Tree