Planning for lunch DownUnder

This has turned out to be much more interesting that I thought it would be. Yes, we’ll have vegemite sandwiches and fairy bread (both on white bread, of course), and party pies to keep the kids happy, but there are so many great things to try.

While browsing through some of my Gourmet Traveller magazines this morning, I found a Kylie Kwong recipe for Wallaby sang choi bau. Gotta try that one!!!

But with kangaroo and emu already on the menu, and now wallaby, sourcing good quality game meats could be problematical. Until I found Yarra Valley Game Meats. Ken was fabulous, and I came away with exactly what I needed.

So, apart from the kids’s food, the protein for our lunch will be:

  • emu kebabs
  • kangaroo kofta with warrigal greens (not too sure where to get those babies!), beetroot and fetta
  • wallaby sang choi bau
  • chicken parmigiana – Rob tells me that only Aussies do chicken parma, so this is a great option for people like me who are very unadventurous about trying non-standard protein (I am still more than a tad traumatised by being tricked into eating my pet duck when I was a child).

Being the good Aussies that we are we really should have lamingtons but,  not being much of a cake lover, lamingtons do not inspire me very much. But lamingtons in a tiramisu sound yum. So we’ll have lamington tiramisu with our tim tam and raspberry tarts.

And perhaps we could finish off with some good King Island cheeses.

And booze. What type of booze will we have? Much as John Elliot wanted to foster-ise the world, and the ads are still fairly common in the UK, I do not know anyone who drinks Fosters. Bundy rum is an obvious choice, but it is a very strong flavour.

I think that the feature Aussie tipple for the day will be a North Shore cocktail. We had these on the cruise. We had a  lot of them, actually. Assuming that it is named after Sydney’s north shore, it is a good Aussie choice. They comprise blue curacao, bacardi, coconut milk and pineapple juice. And they’re very blue. And very easy to drink.

And it’s off to Uncle Dan’s we go.

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch in Australia

 

flag_austalia

Oh my oh my, it is ages since I’ve had a chance to add to this blog!

During June, I moved house and had the most relaxing two weeks away with Lauren and the kids, and there was just no time for our next international lunch.

But for now, it’s back to normality, whatever “normal” is.

And we’ll do lunch in Australia in July. At first glance lunch in Australia seems more than a little unexotic, but I promised Lani she could choose a country, and Australia is a country, so lunch in Australia it is.

Lani is looking forward to vegemite sandwiches and fairy bread but, hey, we can do better than that in the land DownUnder!

Sunday 30 July will see us enjoying modern Australian cuisine. I’ll have a go at emu kebabs and kangaroo kofta, and I have found a recipe for Tim Tam tarts with raspberries. My god, how good does that sound! Tim Tams and raspberries is a match made in heaven!

Deep in the recesses of my pantry I have some pepperberries that I bought in Milawa, and I recall the Masterchef judges going into raptures about a beef and pepperberry pie a couple of seasons ago. I might have to look that one up as well.

There will not be any damper, there will not be any burnt sausages on the barbeque and there will be no drowning everything in tomato sauce.

So, off to the planning board I go, with a promise to be a more regular correspondent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madagascan delights

Wow. The Madagascans certainly know about good food!Madagascar table

Our, quite large, lunch was full of yummy food. I fear the I let the varenga (shredded beef) dry out too much, but it was still worth a sample. This is one recipe that I’ll definitely do another time. The clafouti was a bit rubbery, and next time I think I would make it with self-raising flour rather than plain. And we ate it with good quality vanilla ice-cream of course. The peanut soup was, well, peanutty. Nice but quite rich.

The bonbon coco, which was so resolutely refusing to cooperate last night, came good after a night in the fridge, and was able to be rolled into balls and then flattened.  Just like coconut ice!

The Madagascar Sour cocktail was very, very nice. The first couple of sips made you think about what flavours were spinning around in your mouth but, after that, it was yummy. Another very refreshing cocktail that would be perfect on a warm lazy Sunday afternoon.

Liam was very good about trying the different flavours on offer, which is good to see. Lani had cocktail frankfurts and vanilla ice-cream. Elysia took all the photos (thanks, Elysia), and Viv was the Quizmaster. Interesting quiz, that!

Maybe it was because I did all the cooking yesterday and today was just about heating up (which, I know,  is not the ideal way to prepare and serve food), or maybe we had exactly the right number of people there, but I found today to be the most relaxing of our international lunches. Or maybe it was because we had the cocktail before lunch.

A selection of photos is below (thanks again, Elysia).

Liam was allowed to choose the country for May because it is his birthday month. Madagascar was a great choice, Liam. And because Liam was allowed to choose a country for May, Lani had to be allowed to choose one for June. Lani has just turned five. Lani doesn’t know a lot of countries. Lani has chosen Australia.

Australia! What can we do with Australia?

I guess there are two choices. We can go boring and have what we have most other days of the week. Or we could do a modern take on classic Australian dishes. OK. There’s only one choice. Modern Australian food, here we come.

So it is a fond “veloma” to Madagascar and a trepidatious “g’day” to Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing in Madagascar

Today has been a day of cooking and prep for tomorrow’s lunch in Madagascar.

I’m  not sure that all the recipes are going to be resounding successes. The varenga (shredded beef) is amazing, as is the coco crevettes (prawns in coconut sauce), but I’m not sure about the Malagache fillet of pork – the flavours seem at odds with each other. I don’t know if it is the powdered mustard (normally I would use my fave Milawa mustard) or the brandy.  I very rarely use alcohol in my cooking, and invariably end up deciding that it would have been much better on ice (the alcohol that is, not the food).

As I write this blog, I’m watching the bonbon coco steadfastly refuse to set. It is supposed to be coconut candy, but it looks like it wants to be coconut ice. I think it might be up to Coles in the morning to get some sweetened condensed milk to turn it into what it wants to be. Which, I’m sure, is coconut ice.

On the upside, I’m really looking forward to testing the cocktail I’ve chosen – Madagascar Sour. It is made of lime juice, rum, vanilla liqueur and vanilla syrup. I’ve tried so many places for vanilla syrup with no luck, so asked at my local café. What a brainwave that turned out to be! Brodie and Liss were more than happy to help me out, and I’ve come away with plenty of vanilla syrup to make plenty of cocktails. Thank you, Brodie. Thank you, Liss. Thank you Highside Café in Bayswater. If any readers of this blog are in or near Bayswater, call in and get the best iced coffee you’re gonna get in the eastern suburbs – here’s a link to their facebook page. Go there. Now.

All that is to do now is make the clafouti, which I’ll do tomorrow.

Oh, and test the cocktails.

I’ll do that now.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Madagascar!

Flag MadagascarIt’s May, so off to Madagascar we go.

Lunch in Madagascar is on Sunday 21 May. Apart from Lauren and Will and the kids, we’ll also have Will’s parents (Viv and Bill) and my friend Jan. Jan and I worked in our very first job together as fresh-faced 17 year olds, and have recently reconnected. I cannot believe that 40 years have gone by, but we have been able to catch up as if it was only 40 days. It’s been wonderful.

Our menu is looking great – peanut soup, curried beans, shredded roast beef, vanilla bean fruity clafouti are just some of the choices. I’ve never made a clafouti before, but it looks easy enough.

Our primary tipple will be Madagascar Sour, which contains rum, lime juice, vanilla liqueur and vanilla syrup. I thought that vanilla liqueur would be the hardest of these ingredients to source, but a trip to good old Uncle Dan’s saw me come out with vanilla Galliano. It’s the vanilla syrup that is proving difficult to get. With none to be seen in any local shops, and my refusal to order it online and pay $16 for delivery, I’m going to have to get creative.

And some interesting facts about Madagascar? We know that it is one of the world’s main suppliers of quality vanilla, but it also supplies the world with cloves. And it provides half the world’s supply of sapphires. Who’d have thought?

Oddly enough, Madagascar was settled by Asians (from Borneo) before it was settled by mainland Africans, and its ecology is truly unique. Lemurs are found only in Madagascar, and a huge percentage of wildlife and plant species are unique to Madagascar. And it has the third largest coral reef system in the world.

Madagascar sounds both amazing and intriguing. I think I might have to add it to my travel wish list.

The Madagascar factsheet and placemat are attached below. The factsheet is only two pages this time – I could not find any famous people from Madagascar. It’s obviously all about the vanilla and the lemurs!

Madagascar_factsheet

Place-mat_Madagascar

 

 

 

 

 

Portuguese delights

Melbourne, you have outdone yourself! The weather for our lunch in Portugal was perfect. Again! We put a gazebo up this time to make it a little more festive, and to shelter us from the warm sun. It’s the end of April and we need shelter from the sun. Oh, how we love you, Melbourne.

Thirteen of us enjoyed lunch in Portugal – my two daughters, two sons-in-law, all five grandchildren, and my nephew and his wife and son. OK, Liam and Lani had cocktail frankfurts and, at eight months old, Eden didn’t really try too much (although he did make a decent fist of a party pie). But hats off to Lili who, at two and a half, tries everything and enjoys most of it. Well done, Lili.

It could not possibly have happened without Rob’s amazing help in the kitchen, as we churned out caldo verde (kale soup that tastes much nicer than you think kale could), marinated mushrooms (the star dish of the day), spicy broad beans, pork and mussels, peri peri chicken, beef spiced with ginger and curry leaves, baked cod, and sardines. The marinated mushrooms were scrumptious, but the sardines were a little confronting for most of us. Karma and Rob, who have been to Portugal quite a few times, liked the sardines, but the look and smell of them did not endear them to the rest of us.

Dessert was a great hit. I’ve always loved Portuguese custard tarts, and they were yummy. The almond tart was delicious, and definitely a winner.

Our Portuguese tipple of choice was green wine, which was different but very, very nice.

Elysia wrote the quiz this time, which was absolutely hilarious with Will and Scott getting themselves right into the spirit of taking quizzes seriously. Or not, as the case may be. My favourite answer was by Haiden. Elysia asked when the oldest bookstore in the world was established. Haiden’s answer was “the good old days”. Love your work, H.

Liam turns nine in May, so he has chosen our May country. What other country would an eight-year-old choose but Madagascar. So Madagascar it is. And no, Lauren, we will not be having roasted lemur. I’m looking forward to making something with vanilla! No. Not lemur with vanilla sauce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Portugal

Portugal flagAnd so, the planning for Portugal has begun.

We will go to Portugal for lunch on Sunday 23 April, which is two days before Karma, Rob, Lili and Eden go back to London after being DownUnder for five weeks. It’s REALLY scary how quickly five weeks can go.

Anyway, back to Portugal. The lovely Scott and even lovelier Lara are coming to Portugal with us, so it will be a fairly large family affair.

The Portugal factsheet and placemat are attached below. Did you know that:

  1. Portugal was the first colonial power to abolish slavery, which was  50 years before France, Spain, Britain or the US.
  2. Portuguese is the sixth most-spoken first language in the world, and is the official language of nine countries.
  3. The oldest bookstore in the world is in Lisbon.
  4. Portugal is the oldest country in Europe. It has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe.

And the food. mmmmmm! Grilled chorizo sausages, piri piri chicken (the Portuguese invented piri piri sauce!), grilled sardines and, of course, Portuguese custard tarts. Portuguese green wine is worth trying as well, apparently. Dan Murphy’s, here we come!

It’s going to be quite a crunch timewise, so I’m very glad that Rob will be here to help. The only word to describe Rob is the kitchen is amazing.

Tchau for now

Portugal_factsheet

Place-mat (Portugal)

 

 

 

 

Jamaican delights

Welcome to Jamaica and have a nice day. Yes, it’s an oldie. But it’s a goodie.

Eden_Liam
My two boys – Liam and Eden

On yet another day of perfect weather we went to Jamaica on our virtual tour of the world in 80 cuisines.

Rob did a fabulous job in the days beforehand while I was caught up at work, and marinated the chicken and cooked the goat curry, which was awesome, as was the jerk chicken (two recipes!). The pork chops with coconut rum and caramelized pineapple sauce were delicious, due largely to the fact that I used fresh pineapple rather than the sugar-loaded stuff you get in cans.

Karma and Rob liked the salt cod and tomato fritters, but they were too salty for my taste. And I had skipped over all the Jamaican rice and peas recipes, due to my life-long and never-to-waver intense dislike of peas. But, they’re not peas! They’re kidney beans!! This is more than a little confusing for someone who runs a mile at the thought of peas. But wow, the rice and peas were yum, yum, yum.

Karma had cooked a Jamaican ginger cake that used fresh ginger. It was delicious.

And the cocktails. Wow, the cocktails.

The coffee cocktail was everything perfect.  Jamaican rum, Kahlua, coffee and cream. Except that we were supposed to use hot coffee and whip the cream. We had the coffee cold, the cream not whipped, and we added ice-cream for extra creaminess. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

And when we were coffee-cocktailed out, we moved onto pina coladas. Thank you, Will – they were fantastic as well. And thanks for leaving the leftover Bacardi at my place – much appreciated!!!!

So with all that alcohol, we didn’t actually get to have any rum and coke. Which was, perhaps,  very un-Jamaican of us.

Thanks again to Elysia for taking the photos.

Lauren, Liam and Lani drew up the quiz for us, which, by tradition should only be drawn from the factsheet and place-mat, but we let Lani (who has just turned five) add her own question even though it was not particular to Jamaica. The question was “which is bigger out of cats and dogs”. That’s a great question, Lani!

It was so very wondrous to have my whole family together in one place. And we’ll all be together next month for Portugal. Rob and I are already hunting down Portuguese recipes. Any suggestions are welcome …

Place-mat (Jamaica).1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamaica, here we come

Jamaican rumResearch and planning are well under way for our lunch in Jamaica. This is going to be very exciting because Karma, Rob, Lili and Eden will be here. The Aussie branch of the family is so excited – they’ll be here for five weeks, so we’ll have lots of opportunities for baby cuddles with Eden (who is eight months old) and playing with Lili, who is two and a half. Karma chose Jamaica for March, and Rob has chosen Portugal for April.

As is becoming the custom, when planning for our culinary virtual tours, my mind turned to what alcohol we should have. OK, it’s Jamaica. It’s a given. We’ll have rum. And off we go to Uncle Dan’s in Ringwood to check out their stocks. James was amazingly well versed about what was worth getting and what was not. I ended up with a bottle of Appleton Estate Signature blend rum. Given that we’ll have five adults at this lunch, I’m sure there will be another visit to Uncle Dan’s.

So, some interesting facts about Jamaica?

  • Jamaica is one of only two countries in the world that does not have red, blue or white in its flag. Do you know what the other country is?
  • There are hardly any snakes in Jamaica (mongoose were introduced to kill the rats in the cane fields, and after the mongoose took care of the rats, they turned their attention to the snakes). The ones that are there are not venomous (unlike Downunder!)
  • Ian Fleming wrote ten of his James Bond novels in Jamaica. He designed his dream home, had it built in Jamaica, and called it Goldeneye.
  • Jamaica was the first country in the world to impose economic sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa.
  • Jamaica has made significant contributions to two of the most important things that make the world go round – music and sport. We love you, Bob Marley. We love you, Usain Bolt.
  • The movie Cool runnings is not an accurate  depiction of Jamaica’s entry in the 1988 Winter Olympics. In fact, after reading the real story, the movie is rather cringe-worthy.

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan delights

Oh, Morocco. How you amazed us with your flavours, your subtlety, your variety!

Our lunch in Morocco was wonderful. On another perfect Melbourne summer’s day, we decided to eat outside under the shade of the neighbour’s trees.

I was worried during the menu planning stage that it would all taste the same. Every savoury dish seemed to have dried cumin and coriander in it and fresh coriander and parsley on it (as a garnish). But I should have known that I could trust centuries of Moroccan cooks – every dish was deliciously different, and each complemented the other perfectly.

I would never order soup in a restaurant, but decided to make Harira (lamb and chickpea soup) as a mark of respect to Islam. According to my recipe book, harira is served to break the fast during Ramadan. It was the most hearty, delicious soup I have ever eaten, and will most certainly go into my list of favourite recipes. I suspect that harira is a bit like spag bol, in that there are many different variations – all of them good, but all of them subtly different. The version we tried could not be improved, I’m sure. It was simply wonderful.

Another recipe to keep is beyssara, which is broad bean dip. Except that it needs dried broad beans, and I left it far too late to source non-traditional foods like dried broad beans! I used canned butter beans instead, but the result was delicious. Maybe even better than homemade hommous.

And the filled savoury pancakes! Homemade pastry filled with savoury minced beef then rolled and fried. So very yummy!

The slow-roasted lamb with cumin was easily one of the best roast lamb dishes I’ve had. It was even better than the slow-roasted lamb shoulder at Cumulus Inc. And if you’ve ever had the slow-roasted lamb shoulder at Cumulus Inc, you will understand what a big call that is. It was impossible to stop picking at it.

And if you try nothing else from these pages, try this. Cut the skin and rind off a chunk of watermelon, cut the flesh into 2 cm cubes, put them into a bowl, sprinkle with rosewater, refrigerate for one hour, then sprinkle with chopped mint before serving. This is seriously pimped-up watermelon, and it was even more impossible to stop picking at than the lamb was. In fact, we didn’t stop picking at it, and managed to eat half a watermelon between us.

And the mint tea at the end of our feast settled our stomachs nicely, just as it is supposed to do.

It was so very hard to pick a favourite out of this menu.

I had said that Chile would be a hard act to to follow. Move over, Chile – Morocco is now the benchmark.

And next month, it’s off to Jamaica. The land of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, jerk chicken, reggae music. Planning starts next week. Watch this space …