Oysters with Rhubarb Mignonette

Whilst in England earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit the Oyster Festival at Whitstable.  This is a 3 day celebration of all things oyster, dating back to Norman times.  It was a great day, there was a market and music, a fun fair and as much seafood as you could poke a stick at!  The seaside town of Whitstable is also lovely with some great shops and eateries.  Well worth a visit even if the festival isn’t happening. 

Oysters with Rhubarb MignonetteHow to best to celebrate this day and the humble oyster but with another quintessentially English ingredient… rhubarb! 

Whitstable Then and NowWTF??? Yep, rhubarb.  Sounds weird but bear with me…it really works.  Meantime, here’s some pics from the Oyster Festival.

Whitstable Oyster Festival6Whitstable Oyster Festival12While we were in Whitstable, we had our oysters with a traditional mignonette which is chopped shallots, red wine vinegar and cracked black pepper.  I jazzed mine up with some very finely chopped rhubarb.

Rhubarb MignonetteRaw rhubarb has a sharp, clean, crisp, sour taste  – imagine sour green apples mixed with celery which mixes perfectly with the red wine vinegar and shallots in a traditional mignonette, plus it makes it a glorious pink colour!

Rhubarb Mignonette2Of course, if you want a traditional mignonette, you can use this recipe from Bon Appetit.  But why not take a teeny step into the wild side and try this?  It is really lovely!

Rhubarb Mignonette3Any leftover mignonette can be used as a delicious dressing for any salad greens!

Oysters with Rhubarb Mignonette
A fresh and tangy take on a traditional mignonette.
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Ingredients
  1. 12 freshly shucked oysters
  2. 1/2 stick rhubarb, finely chopped
  3. 2 French shallots, finely chopped
  4. 80ml red wine vinegar
  5. Pinch of sugar
  6. Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except oyster in a small bowl.
  2. Leave for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
  3. When ready to serve, spoon rhubarb mignonette over oysters.
  4. Enoy!
Adapted from Skye Gyngell in Delicious Magazine
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Leftover rhubarb can be used in:

The Dishiest Dish – Rhubarb, Rose and Passionfruit Sorbet

Dishiest Dish – Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts

Future Classics – Australian Table – August 2001

Whitstable 14

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Profiteroles For Very Special Occasions

You might think that five and a bit years into this that I would cease to be surprised.  Both when things go awry and when by some stroke of mad luck things work out just as they should.  Such was the case with the Profiteroles I made on the weekend from the Very Special Occasions Chapter of The A- Z of Cooking (1977).  When the profiteroles came out of the oven looking like, well, profiteroles, there were whoops of joy, squeals of excitement and a bit of spontaneous kitchen dancing!

Yep, in this house, this:

Equals This:

http://www.laughinggif.com/view/ew0vxmklkk/56.htmlBut let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.  First.  Hello V.  And whilst we’re on the subject let’s’ all note the name of the chapter.  Not just Special Occasions.  Very Special Occasions.  Requiring very special dancing apparently.  And also requiring several goes at making something that was worthy of posting. After all, it’s a very special occasion. 

First up there was a go at Carpetbag Steak.  Now, if you lookup Carpetbag Steak anywhere on the interwebs, you will more than likely read that it is a famous  Australian recipe.  I’ve lived here virtually all my life and I have never head of it.  However, I really liked the idea of steak and oysters.  I made the recipe and it looked and tasted meh. 

Then I made a Beef Stroganoff.  Tasted good.  Looked terrible in all the photos.  I think it’s that thing that Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers told me about where brown food just doesn’t photo well.  This was about the best…

So then I made Carpetbag Steak v2.  A modern recipe this time.  Still looked and tasted meh.

I was left with a choice.  Champagne and Orange Juice.  Or Profiteroles.  And believe me . You came so close to having Champagne and Orange juice as your very special occasion meal.  Because this is what happens inside my head whenever pastry is mentioned:

https://giphy.com/gifs/bored-room-clean-clWd5ft31I23KThe profiteroles only happened because the very special occasion was a long weekend due to the Football Grand Final being the next day.  I know right.  Who has a holiday BEFORE the big day?

“It’s the dumbest reason for a holiday ever” I said.

“Come to work then” said my boss.

“It’s the best holiday ever.  Better even than Jesus being born.  Or dying.”

So anyway, on the holiday for best/ worst reason ever I got a little bored in the evening and thought that I would have a flick through The A-Z of Cooking, to plan V-Z.  The profiterole recipe caught my eye and  I realised that I had every ingredient.  And a whole heap of bravado due to being about 3/4 of a bottle of a wine in. 

Don’t judge.  That produced these.  Light as air, melt in the mouth, boozy cream filled and shiny chocolately pastry balls of deliciousness, 

The basis for profiteroles, and the reason for my hissy fit is pastry.  Choux pastry to be exact.  I have made choux pastry exactly once before.  For a recipe called Cherry Fritters from The A-Z of Cooking.  Don’t bother searching the archives for them.  They were a total disaster and I didn’t post them.

But choux starts with a roux…actually no. According to The A-Z of Cooking choux pastry starts with 63g of flour.  Yep.  63.  Not 60.  Not 65.  63.  And seeing as this was a very special occasion, 63g of flour it was.

Profiteroles5This became this:

Which became these.  I couldn’t find a piping bag and my piping skills are non-existent so I just blobbed spoonfuls of the pastry onto the tray.  Also, I wasn’t really expecting this to  work.  And need I remind you about that bottle of wine that was now 5/6’s gone?

Well, slap my arse and call me Charlie if those funny looking blobs didn’t turn into these.  They’re shall we say  “rustic” but on a scale of one to ten of  being recognizable as profiteroles, they have to be at least an eight.

Profiteroles 10So then fill and ice and sprinkle and you get these: (even more profiteroley).

Profiteroles 11

Here’s the recipe direct from The A-Z of Cooking:

Profiteroles 12I tweaked the recipe by swapping out the rum for Amaretto and adding some sprinkles.

Make, eat, enjoy, do a little dance of sheer pleasure. 

http://www.laughinggif.com/view/ew0vxmklkk/56.html

And have a great week!

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One of Us Is Lying & Spicy Hot Edamame

Let’s all imagine the typical American High School.  Five teenagers have been called into detention.  And they are:

  • A beauty queen
  • A star athlete
  • A straight-A brainiac
  • The local bad boy motorbike riding drug dealer and,

Okay I know by now most of you are SCREAMING….Yes, we all know the plot to The Breakfast Club.  Is there a point to this?  And can we get to it?  Maybe like today?

Spicy Hot Edamame (2)

Well hold your horsies because this is not The Breakfast Club.  Because the fifth member of this little team is not an introverted Ally Sheedy but Simon who is the creator of a malicious but hugely popular gossip app.

And wait for it, this is where it gets AWESOME….Because, by the end of the detention, Simon is dead. 

Murdered.

By peanut oil.

Peanut oilThe beauty  queen, the athlete, the brainiac and the bad boy are our main suspects. Because they all have something to hide. Something that somehow Simon has found out about.  Something that he is about to publish to the entire school via his vicious little app.

Did I hear someone say motive?

Welcome to “One of Us is Lying” by Karen McManus.

I loved this book. As much or maybe even slightly more than I love The Breakfast Club.  Which is immense because I adore that film.   I read this in one sitting, on route from Melbourne to London earlier this year and believe me, if anything could make that hideously long journey more enjoyable it was this.  . 

BC One of us is lyingAs soon as I began reading One of Us is Lying I knew I wanted to blog about it. And I wanted to blog about with a recipe that featured our killer ingredient peanut oil.  The Spicy Hot Edamame from the Itsu Cookbook  fit the bill perfectly.  It’s Edamame stir fried in peanut oil with garlic, ginger and a splash of soy sauce.  Quick, simple delicious!

Spicy Hot Edamame 3

One of Us is lying is an immensely enjoyable read.  There are so many reasons to love it – the Breakfast Club type plot, the murder  mystery element, the well drawn characters, the speedy pace, the foody murder weapon.  It is smart, funny and will keep you guessing.  And this is a debut novel!  I cannot wait to see what Karen McManus does next.  This is the best book I have read this year by a mile.

BFclub3You can find the recipe for Itsu’s Spicy Hot Edamame here.

It is a delicious snack or side whether or not you read the book.  But you should definitely read the book. And the edamame make a great reading snack!

Spicy Hot Edamame (2)Breakfast Club / One of Us Is LyihgLet’s end this in the only way possible – a John Bender fist pump and the strains of Simple Minds “Don’t you forget about me in the back ground. 

Have a wonderful week.

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The Sherry Cobbler – A Crazy Gold Rush Cocktail

The Sherry Cobbler is an American cocktail probably first made in the 1830’s.  It was hugely popular in its native land but was, also incredibly popular in Melbourne during the Gold rush years, between 1851 and through to the end of the 1860’s .  Gold brought both a vast increase in the population and in the wealth of the population. And where there are miners and money?  There will be booze.

Sherry Cobbler2.jpg (2)

Nowadays, sherry is seen as an old lady’s drink.  However, this was not always the case.  Back in the 1960’s all the cool kids were drinking it. 

Vintage advert in 1960s magazine dated 1964 for DRY SACK Spanish sherry. Image shot 1964. Exact date unknown.And 100 years before them it was the turn of these boys.

MinersDry Sack sounds more like a painful affliction than something I would want to drink so I used a Fino Sherry for my Cobbler but you can use but you can use whatever you have. The Sherry Cobbler consists of Sherry, sugar, fruit and a little sprinkle of nutmeg.

Sherry Cobbler4Now, I can quite easily imagine our 1960’s poolside pleasure seekers enjoying a Sherry Cobbler or two.  But the miners?  Surely not.  Least of all because you would think all the fruit would get stuck in their beards.  But apparently back in the 1850’s it was the most popular mixed drink in the world.

However, those miners were pretty wily.  Is it a pure coincidence that the Sherry Cobbler, according to this article, was the drink that popularised the use of the straw. Or was it just a solution to fruit in beard syndrome?

Sherry Cobbler3But right from the start I promised you crazy and miners sipping sherry through straws is not crazy.  It’s adorable but not crazy. 

So let’s get crazy.  The Sherry Cobbler is poured over crushed ice.  Except back in the day there was no ice in Melbourne.  We are a temperate climate and Melbourne’s first iceplant didn’t open until 1860.  But dammit if those miners didn’t want their Sherry Cobblers served as the Good Lord intended them.  So, ice was imported from America.  Specifically, huge ice cubes were cut from the frozen lakes in Massachusetts, packed in sawdust and shipped to Melbourne to satisfy the Sherry Cobbler yearnings of the miners.

Not crazy enough?  In a land where there was no ice, how common do you think those new fangled devices called straws were?  Pretty damn non-existent apparently.  So how did those quick witted miners get around that little dilemma?

They used pieces of macaroni as straws.

Yep. For real. 

For serious.

Sherry Cobbler5 (2)

Macaroni.

Can you imagine anything more delightful than the five gentlemen above out on a night on the tiles sipping their Sherry Cobblers through macaroni straws?

The Sherry Cobbler is a lovely tipple too.  It would be a great day drink as it’s not too boozy.   And certainly not a drink just for your maiden aunt

Ditch the macaroni straw though.  It was useless. 

Sherry Party (2)

Sherry Cobbler
A classic American cocktail took a turn for the crazy in Mebourne's gold rush years.
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Ingredients
  1. 100g Sherry - I used Fino
  2. Crushed ice - about half a tray of ice blocks
  3. 1 tbsp caster sugar
  4. 3 strawberries, 2 chopped, one left whole for garnish
  5. 1 orange
  6. Nutmeg, to sprinkle
  7. Macaroni (optional)
Instructions
  1. Slice the end off the orange, then slice a round from it to form the garnish. Segment the rest of the orange, removing the pith.
  2. Stir the sherry with the caster sugar until the sugar melts. Add the chopped strawberries and orange segments.
  3. Fill your cup with crushed ice, pour the sherry and fruit mixture over the top.
  4. Garnish with the whole strawberry and orange slice.
  5. Sprinkle some ground nutmeg over the top.
  6. For authenticity, drink through a macaroni straw.
  7. Enjoy!
Adapted from Flavours of Melbourne - Charmaine O'Brien, Wakefield Press, 2008
Adapted from Flavours of Melbourne - Charmaine O'Brien, Wakefield Press, 2008
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Unless otherwise indicated, all the facts in the above about Melbourne, ice, straws and macaroni come from a wonderful book called Flavours of Melbourne by Charmaine O’Brien (Wakefield Press, 2008).  This book is awesome.  There will be more recipes from it for sure.

Any errors or omissions and all the hyperbole are mine alone. 

The weekend’s coming – what are you up to?

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A Not So Speedy Omelette – A RFFMT Recipe Revamp

The  original recipe for a Speedy Omelette comes from the “Unexpected Guest” Chapter of The A-Z of Cooking. Two things, first I’m not a fan of the unexpected guest and would more than likely not feed them at all.  It would be Deliveroo at best. Second, we, me, all of us are up to U…the end of the A-Z is nigh.  Not long to go now….let’s celebrate with an omelette.

In many ways, the chapter on how to feed your  Unexpected Guest is actually a primer on how to punish your unexpected guest because the recipes are almost singularly yecchhhh!!!!  The speedy omelette is by far the best recipe in the chapter but then again the chapter contains these delightful titbits so that’s not saying much.

Appetizer – Chilled Ten Minute Potato Soup

Made from dehydrated onions and Smash.  Served chilled.  Did someone say runny, cold fake mashed potatoes?

Talk about revenge being a dish best served cold.  This is quite clearly a dish for the passive aggressive host.  “Oh, I do so like surprises.  And I hope you do too.  Have some soup”.

I always find ads where something is encouraging you to eat itself kind of  creepy.  Is anthrophomorphic-cannibalism-phobia a thing?  Because I think I have it.  As off-putting as this is, I would still much rather eat Potato Pete’s soup than the ten minute chilled variety.

Main – Storecupboard Casserole

Yippee – more Smash! This time a revolting combination of spaghetti sauce mix, tinned tomatoes, canned ham, canned corn and green pepper. So the only fresh thing is the worst vegetable ever.

The recipe also contains the following sentences:

“Add the ham with some of the jelly from the can.  Don’t add too much jelly or the sauce will be too thin”.

No shit don’t add too much.  You know how much canned ham jelly is too much? 

Any. 

Those three words should not even exist together.  Urgghhhhhh!!!! 

This lady advertising this canned ham looks as miserable as hell. Probably because she’s’ thinking “Not only is “If it were a tomato you could squeeze it” about the dumbest advertising slogan in the entire  world but that can better be sealed correctly.  Because they are not paying me enough to get leaked on with canned ham jelly”.

Then there is:

Make up the mashed potato according to the directions on the packet, but add a little milk so that it will be soft enough to spread.

What texture is it normally?  Rock?  I honestly don’t know.  I had a proper mother who only ever made mashed potatoes out of potatoes.  Let’s just be thankful they didn’t tell you to thin out your fake mashed potatoes with some canned ham jelly.

Wow right?  That’s casserole is not even passive aggressive. It’s had a few too Stellas and is just flat out SCREAMING in the street,  “Don’t ever fucking come to my house without an invitation again.  Because I have canned ham jelly and I’m not afraid to use it”.

 

Dessert – Ice Cream with Jam Sauce.

The first time I typed this I wrote Ice cream with ham sauce.  That is how traumatised I am by the preceding recipe. 

This is actually ok.  Hot jam with a bit of oj.  On ice cream. 

Boring.

But not disgusting. 

Which given the rest of the meal is a huge bonus.

The Original Speedy Omelette

Speedy Omelette recipe

Admittedly, even in it’s original state, this is not as vile as the above recipes.  It probably won’t send your unexpected guests screaming from the building and unfriending you on Facebook.  On the downside, it may also not teach them that turning up unannounced is totally obnoxious. 

he Speedy Omelette Revamp

However, let’s drift into the realm of fantasy and suppose that your uninvited guest is actually someone that doesn’t have you gritting your teeth and wondering if you can put ground glass into their drink.  Maybe it’s that cute guy, you know the one from the bar / cafe / work / gym.  The one with the eyes / smile / butt / six pack.  And you want to do a bit better than the speedy omelette?  Why not try my non-speedy omelette?

Cut a potato into a small dice, heat some oil in a pan and panfry until golden. 

Speedy Omelette2Meantime, lightly steam some asparagus and grate some cheese.

Make your omelette and pile in your filings, reserving the asparagus spears for the garnish.  Warm through so the cheese goes melty, flip and serve!

Speedy Omelette5This will take a little longer to make than the Speedy Omelette above but hey, if he’s that cute why would you not want him hanging around for as long as poss?  Hell, crack open a bottle of wine, Elizabeth David style and make a night of it!

Speedy Omelette6

Not So Speedy Omelette with Potatoes and Asparagus
A delicious modern spin on a 1970's recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large potato peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  2. 1 bunch asparagus
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1 tbsp water
  5. 50g Cheddar cheese, grated
  6. butter or oil for pan
Instructions
  1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and allow to dry completely.
  3. Heat oil or butter in a non-stick pan.
  4. Add the potatoes.
  5. Stir and toss occasionally as they cook.
  6. When they are golden brown on all sides, place on kitchen paper to drain.
  7. Chop the tips of the asparagus off and then slice lengthwise.
  8. Steam over boiling water for 2 minutes
  9. Plunge into cold water and then place on kitchen paper to drain.
  10. Whisk the eggs with the water,salt and pepper.
  11. Melt more butter into the pan the potatoes were cooked in. Cook until it sizzles.
  12. Pour in the egg mixture and tilt the pan so the mixture covers the base.
  13. As the omelette starts to set, loosen the mixture from around the edges and tilt the pan so the liquid egg flows underneath.
  14. Spoon the filling onto the omelette whilst the top is still a bit runny (it will continue to cook after you fold it).
  15. Fold and serve garnished with the asparagus tips.
Notes
  1. If you don't have or don’t like asparagus, sub in mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, ham, rocket or crabmeat. You can also swap out the Cheddar for Gruyere, feta, goat's cheese, mozzarella or your favourite cheese!
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking (1977)
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking (1977)
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

Have a fabulous week.

And remember, if this blog was a tomato, you could squeeze it. 

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