Tag Archives: fish

a most memorable dinner at our favourite cafe

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The daughter & I have been going to Scotts Epicurean pretty much since it opened back in 2000. Sometimes we drag the husband along as well. The friendly, welcoming service & the great food just keep us coming back – usually for Saturday brunch. However, every now & then they put on a dinner: 4-5 small, perfectly formed courses with accompanying wines, & we’ve thoroughly enjoyed those too. (Although the husband did feel that perhaps he should have dressed for the occasion when we went along for a meal the night Hamilton’s Riff-Raff statue was unveiled. It was a cold night, but somehow he felt somewhat overdressed in his polar fleece ๐Ÿ™‚ ) So, when I saw the flyer for their latest dinner, I bought a couple of tickets on the spot! (The daughter never wants to come to these; she is never quite sure that she’ll want to eat everything on offer.)

And as usual, we were not disappointed. (I am not going to talk about the wines here as a) I didn’t try them all & b) I can’t remember the names anyway. Suffice it to say that all those I sipped complemented the food rather well.)

First up, polenta chips with a lovely thick garlicy aoli. I rather like polenta & the last time I made it I did keep some over for chips, but couldn’t get them crispy enough. Will have to have another go, for those we ate on Friday were rather fine.

Next, kingfish, pan-fried & served with saffron rice, finely diced chorizo & red pepper, & ‘crackling’ of chicken skin. Which worked well & was apt, given that I’ve often heard kingfish described as the chicken of the sea. I’m not huge on fish but I cleaned my plate up.

The soup – served in a glass – was a creamy carrot soup made special by the use of star anise. It had a little scoop of what the menu described as black olive sorbet on the top, which was visually attractive. Being not a fan of olives (you can see where the daughter gets her fussiness from) I passed most of mine across the table to the husband; in retrospect this was perhaps foolish as the little bit left behind showed me that the flavours went together extremely well.

This was followed by Angus steak (fillet, I think), served medium rare on kohlrabi puree with smoked leeks & several types of mushroom. The husband, who also has his little food foibles, originally said that I could have his mushrooms, but I noticed sadly that he changed his mind after sampling them. The only part of this course we had reservations about was the leeks; the smoking led them to present as slightly fibrous, although they tasted good. The rest was scrumptious.

After this I have to say we were feeling comfortably full, although not over-so – which was just as well as dessert was still to come. This was a delightful free-form pie (on the menu, aka crostada) of feijoas on a bed of ground hazelnuts, served with a citrus-y cream. I enjoyed working out the ingredients as I savoured it, & checked with Jason Scott (owner/chef) afterwards that I’d got them all. “Yes,” he said “- & you can find the recipe on-line, on my sister’s blog.” So I did – & made it myself for friends the following evening.

All in all, a great evening ๐Ÿ˜€

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garlic prawns & fried rice

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When I went past the ‘fish’ section of the supermarket the other day, I noticed that they were selling raw prawns for $9.99 a kilo. (I can’t for the life of me see why they don’t just make it $10 or whatever; is anyone really fooled by the .99???) Now, the daughter dislikes prawns intensely but she was away in Taupo, so I bought a kilo & popped the bike saddlebags along with the things I’d actually gone there to buy. (At this point I must say that I hadn’t really thought about the effort entailed in peeling the things, but anyway ๐Ÿ™‚ )

It’s been barbecue weather here for what seems like ages, so that’s how I intended to cook my little crustaceans. After shelling them – there were rather a lot but everyone seemed hungry – I mixed together: 2 egg whites (left over from the brioche the other day), 2 Tbsp cornflour, a good grind of salt & pepper, & several (small) heads of garlic, crushed. That was then stirred through the prawns, & I left them in the fridge to soak in that garlicky goodness while I contemplated the rest of dinner.

Salad? That went without saying; we have lettuce & cucumbers & tomatoes in abundance, & there was still a nice avocado from last weekend’s market trip. I decided on a fruity, spicy dressing as that would go well with both salad & prawns: into the blender went the contents of a 450 g tin of peaches in fruit juice, along with 3-4 Tbsp of sweet chilli sauce. (It would have been mango dressing but I only had peaches in the cupboard.) Yum!

We also had about 2 c cooked rice in the fridge, left over from the previous night’s dinner. So I chopped a red bell pepper into eensy little pieces & added that to the rice with a handful of chopped garlic chives & a Tbsp or so of grated root ginger before beating in a couple of eggs.

At which point the husband fired up the barbecue: the rice/vege mix went onto the hot plate in large spoonfuls (I got about a dozen little cakes from that quantity) & the prawns went in batches onto the grill until their heads & tails were pink & their flesh white & cooked through. It took us a while to get through them all, but somehow we managed it ๐Ÿ™‚ And the peach-&-chilli dressing wentย so well with everything.

lunch for nana’s birthday

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My mother-in-law turned 85 yesterday, & tomorrow we’ll be having lunch with her & Poppa. While they’re both getting on now (Poppa is 93 & very frail), they’re still in their own home & enjoy pottering in the garden, watching sport on TV, & cooking for themselves & any visitors they might have (ell, these days Nana does most of the cooking). But tomorrow, I’m providing the birthday lunch.

I had to think carefully about what to cook, because Poppa prefers soft food these days. In the end, I decided on a smoked salmon roulade – because she loves fish, with new potatoes, steamed brocolli florets, & lemon thyme hollandaise. And a chocolate mousse to follow (they both love puddings ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Some salmon roulade recipes are basically a cream cheese mix rolled in strips of smoked salmon, but I knew neither of the old people would enjoy that version. So I made a thick bechamel sauce, starting by melting 50g of butter & stirring in about 1/2 c of plain flour. You need to stir this for a minute or so once the flour & butter are combined, over a gentle heat, as the flavour of the sauce is much better. Then, with the pan still on the heat, whisk in 500ml milk – I usually do this a bit at a time as it seems to minimise the lumps – & continue to stir until it’s very thick. Remove the pan from the stove, season the sauce, & let it cool for about 5 minutes before beating in 4 egg yolks. Finally, beat the egg whites until stiff & dry, & fold them into the mix before pouring it into a swiss roll tin that’s been lined with baking paper, & bake at 180 degree C until golden & set. After which, turn the sponge out onto foil or baking paper on a cake rack, & let it cool. Which is what’s happening at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚

Then I’m going to spread the top of the sponge – leaving an inch or so at one short end – with cream cheese that’s had a cup or so of finely chopped herbs blended into it: chives, garlic chives, lemon thyme, & parsley. And on top of that will go 200g of flaked smoked salmon. Next I’ll roll it tightly, beginning from theย otherย short end & using the baking paper to help, put it on a pretty dish, & refrigerate until an hour or so before lunch, as I think it’ll be nicer at room temperature.

The mousse? That’s already in little glass serving dishes in the fridge. I bought a 520g block of Whitakers 72% dark ghana chocolate, when I did the grocery shopping this morning, & melted about 400g in a glass bowl in the microwave. (I know the books all say this should be done over hot water, but I find the microwave works just fine – you just have to be careful to heat in short bursts & stir well each time.) Into the molten chocolate I stirred 50g of butter, a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier, and about 100ml of cream, before stirring in the yolks of 4 eggs. The final step was to fold the stiffly beaten egg whites through the mix, before dividing it between the serving dishes & hiding them in the fridge to set.

And warning the husband Not to Touch, or else There’ll Be Trouble!