When we travel, even if only an hour and a bit from home, a main goal is to explore the areal and discover, taste and utilize the local produce.
The second week of the new year we took a break and explored the peninsula area to our south.
An area of boutique wineries and fruit farms/orchards and close to the sea.
The local produce that grabbed our attention on day one was some farmed mussels for $10 a kg. Not the cheapest mussels , but uber fresh.
I knew of a local cidery from a previous visit, so the plan was to have mussels in local dry cider. It was fabulous.
In our travels we discovered a cherry orchard, so 1/2 kg of sweet and 1/2 kg sour cherries were purchased to later be pitted and encased in a sweet shortcrust pastry- a very cherry pie. I was thrilled with the outcome as I basically made up the pastry and pie recipe.
Very Cherry Pie
2 cups plain flour
170 g cold butter, diced2 tbs white sugar
Stir sugar into flour.
Rub cold diced butter into flour until the consistency of bread crumbs. Mix in egg and a wee bit of cold water until a pliable dough.Shape into a disc and rest dough, covered, in fridge for 30 mins.
Roll dough and place into greased pie dish.
Freeze pie case for 20 mins. Roll a circle of pastry for pie lid.
1 kg pitted cherries( a mix of sour and sweet. Sour cherries reall y boost the cherry flavour)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbs sugar
3 shortbread biscuits, crumbled.
Mix drained pitted cherries with cinnamon and sugar.
Place crumbled shortbread biscuits onto base of pie crust. Top with cherries.
Top filling with rolled pastry. Make steam vents in pie top and decorate as desired.
Bake in pre heated 200 C oven for 30 mins or until fragrant and golden.
For a foodie, the worst way to start a new year with the potential for lovely food experiences would be to have a wicked case of gastroenteritis for a week.
Any way- all good now and I look forward to not so many RLC’s as teenagerdom changes ones use of time, but maybe more anecdotes and recipes from my travels and catering experiences.
Welcome to Lick The Plate Clean 2015.
They are considered weeds. Their fine prickles are enough to make one cry really.
But the intrigue of using a bunch of stinging nettles I saw at the market today was so intense, that I claimed victory over the sting.
I was toying with nettle tart or risotto as a vehicle to let the nettle have it’s say, and intense negative reaction to the suggestion of risotto left me with nettle tart. It could also have been a soup, but soup sucks according to 1/2 the household.
Along side the cleaned, blanched* and chopped nettles, we had eggs, some left over ricotta cheese and some creamy fetta that I could marry together with some spring onion and smoked garlic, baked in a puff pastry tart case.
$8.00 allowed for a tart that was packed with flavour and nutrients. It was rustic and flavoursome.
I think I need to go and do some backyard weeding as it has been confirmed, there are tart ingredients growing freely out there!
*blanching the nettles removes their fine prickles.
Being nearer to a market we don’t usually frequent last Saturday led us to choose to shop there instead of our regular–and delightfully organized and familiar in comparison–market.
Well, as I battled my way around through the crowds, I let boys loose to find something for RLC.
With a mixture of positive anticipation and some concern about what was chosen, I looked into the bag intrigued.
Weird things in tins, and as it turned out, some very disturbing things in a jar. Yes, boys had trawled the Asian grocery shop.
Grilled eel, braised pork with bamboo shoots and sorba noodles were all relatively tasty components of our lunch, but the pickled tofu in a jar was disturbing to the extreme.
If smellavision existed in this blog, you would be retching at it’s sick smell and squishy, pasty texture. Alright! enough! No more on that and NEVER again. It was deemed immediately as NOT TO BE CONSUMED and went straight to the bin.
On reflection, I suggested that they be a bit more conservative in their selection of weird things in tins and jars. And they totally agreed.
The second most recent RLC to involve a friend occurred today.
A crisp, winter day that begged for a warm substantial something.
Our church friend wanted to join us for a market explore and the inevitable invitation to join us for the RLC was put out there.
I did warn him that we could end up with anything. He assured us that he eats anything.
It was a little tetchy between players again today, but on spying some packaged onion and sage stuffing mix ( 3 boxes for $2) a meal idea was developed.
The stuffing would be prepared and baked like a bread, then topped with a mixture of fried diced speck ($3) and a bunch of chopped spring onions ($1.49).
Quality controller suggested maybe stuffing some huge Portebello mushrooms he saw with the mix, but RLC boy decided to have them as a side to the topped stuffing ($5.50 for 700g).
The mushrooms were pan fried with a wee bit of oil until tender and juicy. A wedge of baked stuffing was topped with a scoop of specky spring onion and 1/2 a huge mushroom sat proudly next to it.
The flavours were full and it really was a warm substantial “$12 for 5 people” something.
It gives me a real buzz when friends want to join our family market shop and resulting Random Lunch Challenge.
I like that they are enthusiastic to explore the markets, get some of their own produce and be both observer to and participant in the Random Lunch Challenge process.
I am really happy that they find some level of enjoyment and satisfaction just being with a family–in all our un-glory, angst and argy bargy of teenagerdom . I love that these friends seem to roll with the punches and just appreciate the time and often eccentric/interesting lunch that they are presented with.
We had two such Random Lunch Challenges recently–
A friend from our church community/bible study group was eager to join us in our weekly shop and RLC, so finally pinning down a mutually available Saturday 2 weeks ago we had a wonderful adventure…
Having an idea, in fact a researched list, of what is seasonal and how different foods can be paired and cooked, 2 weeks ago led to the utilization of cheap red capsicum as the bulk of a recipe. Tom thought of pan frying strips of capsicum and onion in olive oil to make a lush mixture to top some light rye bread slices. A cheap protein was thought about and pan fried chicken livers fitted the bill “With a balsamic glaze…with some of that mulberry syrup” thought Tom.
So, 7 red capsicums for $2.00, 650g chicken livers for $3.00, 2 red onion $1.10 and a “yesterday’s loaf of Rye” for $1.50, with a few pantry staples were the makings of a truly delicious ‘bruschetta’, even in the opinion of our friend who had never had chicken livers before. Say about $8 for 5 people. We thoroughly enjoyed her enjoyment of this family tradition (and her eagerness to have more than one coffee with us.)
I am thankful for the maturity of my family members’ palates.
Because I love brussels sprouts and they do too.
So, utilizing 600g of cute sweet baby sprouts on sale, the base of RLC was formed. Boys were keen to try the idea of a sprout salad. But with meat of course!
Shaved streamers of vivid green sprout was oh so lightly pan fried in the residue of 3 sliced and fried kransky. A washed and sliced leek was similarly braised and the three delicious ingredients were tossed together with a can of drained water chestnut slices. A lemony dijon mustard and olive oil dressing provided an unctious bringing together of elements. About $8
The textural and taste differences made it a winner.
Even as a salad–No doubts about sprouts.
I came back from a Saturday morning meeting, not expecting the Random Lunch Challenge to have been “deployed” so to speak.
I was delightfully proved wrong.
Boys had run with the challenge and had decided to use less than $10 to buy the ingredients for their deliciously lip smacking version of the crunchy Vietnamese BBQ pork rolls.
Seasoned and spiced pork mince was shaped into sausage shapes and grilled to juicy “doneness” and placed into a crunchy baguette with carrot, cucumber, spring onion, lettuce and a made up Hoisin type sauce.
Really tasty lunch boys–your cooking is on a roll!
It’s the sort of weather today that justifies something nice and warm for lunch and an idea that had been toyed with for a meal was gladly utilized today by one of the boys.
Savoury stuffed baked apples.
Mmmmm. Quality controller thought the idea held great potential, too. The “Other Boy” was somewhat dismissive.
The easiest way to stuff the apples, we thought, would be with gourmet sausage meat. I know gourmet sausages at $10 a kg push the boundaries of the Challenge criteria, but the other ingredients would allow for this.
Including something to have with the savoury apples.
Which was chosen to be wet polenta.
RLC chef chose lamb, honey and rosemary sausages–not his favourite, but because he was thinking of his brother’s favourite (Awww) and of a recipe he discovered in his researching British cuisine for his Home Economics class at school. He had read about a “squab pie” that was made out of mutton and apple–not actual squab. Anyway, that was his decision making reasoning.
4 gourmet sausages cost $5.
8 Granny Smith apples cost $4.
Polenta from the pantry at home would have been about 60 cents worth.
The apples were cored widely enough to push the meat in (1/2 sausage for each apple), place in an oiled baking tin and just enough water to cover the bottom of the tin.They were baked in a moderate oven for about 20 mins.
Placed on wet polenta and served with Dijon mustard and home made tomato and red capsicum chutney, they were a really tasty package that left us after 2 each, well, shall I say……very full.
I would do this again with a pork based gourmet sausage and serve on creamy mashed potato.
(Sorry about photo quality–I dropped our little digital camera and I think that has messed with it’s pixels. And I am no professional photographer but desire to one day do a course in food photography.)
10 fat, autumnal figs at 40c each and 400g of freshly cooked sweet little local prawns at $9.99 a kg plus creamy, salty feta were some of the goodies that I bought at the market.
I love these foods and they were good value.
And they then became the center of RLC today.
I had free reign.
Boys chose to sleep in and I went a bit crazy in my pairing of flavours. Originally fritters were going to be the medium for the fig and feta, and then me thinks “Prawns go with feta. Feta goes with figs. Let’s see if prawns go with figs… and feta..and fold them into – muffins.” Just because.
I wanted a meal in a muffin. Savoury muffins.
Now, savoury muffins need a little herb or spice to lift them.
I had some left over homemade basil pesto. So some of that went in the mix, too. And some was mixed with soft butter to spread onto the fresh hot from the oven muffins.
15 crunchy on the outside and savoury, flavour packed gooey cheese moist in the middle muffins with bursts of figgy sweetness were proudly revealed to boys. They “oohed” and “ahhed” their way through at least 2 “interesting but delicious” muffins with pesto butter. (I did too.)
With measuring out to make the muffins, in the end 15 prawn, feta and fig muffins with pesto butter cost about $10.