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.
How to best to celebrate this day and the humble oyster but with another quintessentially English ingredient… rhubarb!
WTF??? Yep, rhubarb. Sounds weird but bear with me…it really works. Meantime, here’s some pics from the Oyster Festival.
While 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.
Raw 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!
Of 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!
Any 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.
Remember how I said I had a fab idea for a whole new series of blog posts whilst on holiday? Here’s the thing, along with hundreds of cookbooks, I also have a huge collection of food magazines, most of which sit on shelves in my back room doing nothing. Once a year, I grab a handful of the oldest, take them on holiday and cut out the recipes I want, throw away the magazines, and cook the recipes over the next 12 months.
Currently I have a few mags from the late 1990’s but they are most from the early noughties onwards. So they are not quite but well on their way to becoming formally vintage. My thought on holiday was….”These are the things that will shortly become the vintage recipes of the future. So, instead of ripping them up, I’m going to start cooking from them. Once a month, I’ll revisit one of these magazines, cook a thing or two and decide if these are future vintage classics – or just junk taking up space in my backroom. Here are the early years to 2013:
And here are 2014 to the present day:
so, to start, we are stepping back in time 15 years to the August 2001 edition of Australian Table:
I also thought it might be fun to revisit some of the content of these magazine as well as the recipes, so without further ado, here are the:
Flavours of The Month – August 2001
This section spoke about what was in season. I thought I might give it a little Retro Food For Modern Times Twist!
Huh….my plan here was to insert a recipe or two from the blog. However, apparently I have made nothing with sweet potatoes. I’ll link to some recipes below.
Baby Bok Choy
Or anything with Bok choky. What have I been cooking in for the last four years?
Hooray – Finally!
Click here for my Four Kumquat Canapés For Four Food Heroes recipes
Oh man. August 2001 was a GOOD month for movies! I would quite happily watch Bridget Jones’s Diary or Along Came a Spider today. I don’t recall ever seeing Evolution but I am definitely putting that to rights, pronto. I know it’s probably a little late with the picky picky however, Australian Table, I would like to point out that the chocolate-voiced, sloe-eyed maverick investigator is actually called Alex Cross. The ACTOR is Morgan Freeman. And what a difference a letter makes. Slow-eyed which I typed at least a dozen times in the above paragraph makes you sound like you should be taking special classes. Sloe-eyed…hello sexy!
Music Of The Month
Well, I guess you can’t have it all. I listened to none of these at the time nor do i have any real desire to seek out any of these. Maybe the Elvis Costello.
I chose two recipes from an article on fool proof party food starting with:
Vodka with Crushed Limes
These are my flavours…this was so good! Tangy, sweet delicious!
Crispy Duck with Green Scallion Pancakes
No, these are my flavours! Spicy, seductive!
Berry and Rhubarb Crumble
This recipe came from an advertisement for a 3 in one hand blender. Crumble is pretty much already a classic but the addition of rhubarb instead of the more traditional apple? Genius!
Everything I made from this mag was SUPER! My view is that this is a definite future vintage classic!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down memory lane! I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a mag from September 2001. I hope it’s as good as this one!
We are having a lovely spurt of late summer…OMG, it’s autumn now….warm weather, just perfect for enjoying this delicious rhubarb, rose and passionfruit sorbet.
Let’s talk about it shall we?
It’s fruity, tangy and not too sweet so incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
It is the most glorious shade of pink.
The passionfruit and rose water make it smell like a summer garden.
It has a Rhubarb Almond Shard
And is sprinkled with Rhubarb Crumble Dust
And for the cherry on the top, it’s got…well…a cherry on the top.
I based this recipe on the Rhubarb and Rose Sorbet in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage, Light and Easy which was my selection when we did a stint on Celebrity Chefs for Tasty Reads. I usually find Hugh very engaging, hence choosing the book, however I admit I have struggled with it a bit. I’m all for dairy and wheat free however it just seemed like a bit of a chore, not to mention expense to have to buy new ingredients for just about every dish – this one has buckwheat flour, that one had chestnut flour, the other had chickpea flour. Never even mind the expense. Who has the space?
But I pretty much had everything for the sorbet, except the rhubarb already. I also had a little passionfruit left over from the Valentine’s Day Soufflé so I popped that in as well.
6 Week Challenges
These have been a bit of a disaster. I downloaded an update to my phone weekend before last. And it killed it. #epicfailnexus5 The phone would no longer read the sim card. So after spending the weekend trying every fix available on Google on Monday I got a new sim card, even though I kind of already knew it wasn’t the sim card. On Tuesday the phone went in for a service. Then there was a WEEK of daily calls of “Is it fixed? “Is it fixed? Is it fixed?” Then after seven days they said “Oh, we now know it’s not hardware, it’s software” and they got a “I KNOW IT’S NOT HARDWARE I TOLD YOU IT WASN’T HARDWARE ONE WEEK AGO. YOU HAVE SPENT A WEEK WASTING MY TIME AND YOUR TIME. JUST PUT IT BACK TO WHAT IT WAS BEFORE THE UPDATE” And an hour later it was fixed. Seriously I hate being such a bitch to service people. But really. A week.
A week where, I was without my meditation app and my flexibility app. So they fell by the wayside. I downloaded some mediation podcasts to my ipod. Which promptly broke.
Oh and my car wouldn’t start this morning.
Technology hates me.
On the more positive side, my March resolution of 6 weeks without Candy Crush is going amazingly well!
I’m starting a new challenge today:
The Persiana Project
As of now, I have 32 dishes left to cook from the very many I marked as “Want To Cook” in Persiana. Sabrina Ghayour’s new book comes out in 50 days. Technically, I can cook them all between now and then. Realistically, it is unlikely however, to raise the stakes, I have made a deal with myself not to by Sirocco until I have cooked the 32. And I REALLY want that new book.
We’re going to be eating a LOT of Middle Eastern Food over the next few weeks. I can’t wait!
The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer
Loved it – a great thriller about a missing child and a suspect psychic.
When We Were Invincible – Jonathan Harnisch
I feel really bad about saying that I am not enjoying this because it seems quite ungrateful seeing as I got it for free off Net Galley. But I am half way through and I ‘m really struggling. The plot…what there is of it….revolves around a teenager who suffers from Tourette’s and his life at an elite prep school. I’m finding it all bit too stream of consciousness-y; with not nearly enough context for me to be able to enjoy the story.
Ummmm….let me think of some positives….
It’s very likely a very real description of being in the head of someone who is mentally ill.
I love the cover.
I watched the movie Compliance and it totally ooked me out. Seriously, watching it made me feel dirty. Several times I wanted to turn it off because it was painful to watch. Having said that I would actually recommend it. But be warned it is TOUGH going. It will also make you question every person who ever calls you on the phone. Not a bad thing really seeing as it is based on true.
Then I watched The Breakfast Club. Damn, I love that movie! And it made everything all right with the world again. And I spent about three days walking around singing “Hey, hey, hey, hey….”
I’m still not trusting anyone who calls me who is not on my speed dial though.
I haven’t been cooking much as I have been working all the hours! I have been living on toast or things from the freezer. Hopefully things will slow down soon because next week I have marked out to cook:
Margaret Fulton’s Quail in Vine Leaves with Muscat Grapes
Sabrina Ghayour’s Safavid style beef pastries
Laurie Colwin’s Broccoli Salad
Ok, here’s the recipe for the Sorbet:
Rhubarb, Rose and Passionfruit Sorbet
A lovely light, refreshing sorbet, not too sweet with a glorious pink colour.
18 Rhubarb Crumble boiled lollies (or any fruit flavoured boiled lollies)
100g flaked almonds
Ice Cream Cones
Trim the rhubarb and cut into 3-4cm lengths. Place in a large saucepan with the caster sugar and the orange juice.
Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the rhubarb is completely soft. Puree in the pan until smooth.
When cool, stir in the passionfruit.
Taste and add the icing sugar as required.
Stir in the rosewater. Start at about 1/4 teaspoon and add it gradually until you get your desired level of rosiness.
Chill until cold and churn in an ice cream maker until soft set, then transfer to a freezer container and freeze until cold. Alternatively, pour the mixture into a freezer container and freeze for an hour. Then remove from the freezer and break up the frozen sides, pushing them into the softer centre. Return to the freezer and repeat every hour until the mixture is soft-set.
Then let it freeze solid.
Rhubarb Crumble Dust
Place the boiled lollies in your blender and grind into a powder.
Remove a third of the mixture to sprinkle over the top of your sorbet as your dust.
Heat your oven to 180C
Line a baking tray with baking paper and lightly grease. I used coconut oil.
Sprinkle the paper with the almonds, then with the remaining crushed lolly powder.
Place in the oven until the lollies melt.
Remove from the oven and all to cool.
Break into shards
Place two scoops of sorbet into an ice cream cone.
Sprinkle a teaspoon over the Rhubarb Crumble Dust over the icecream, stab with an Almond Shard and top with a cherry.
It’s been a while since we have had a dishiest dish – I thought it was timely that we had look at some I had cooked successfully! I made these Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts over the break. They were pretty easy to make and tasted delicious!
And who says you can’t play with your food? These are perfect for a little game of tic-tac-toe!
Or you can give them to people you like as little kisses and hugs. Valentine’s day’s a-coming. Why give someone flowers when you can give them some delicious almondy fruity deliciousness?
Who doesn’t love
Crisp buttery pastry – no soggy bottoms here!
A lovely sweet almond filling
The apricots and rhubarb, both of which have a natural tanginess help to make the tarts not too cloying or heavy.
An amaretto and apricot glaze
Never mind saying it with flowers. Proclaim your love with pastry!
My Six Week Challenges
This year, instead of setting a series of resolutions, I was inspired by my friend Ali to try a series of smaller challenges over the course of the year. I started mid-January with 6 weeks of no alcohol. The start of February sees me trying to build a meditation practice! I am aiming for 42 days straight of meditation. I haven’t figured out what I will pick up in mid-Feb but that’s half the fun – deciding what to do next! Hopefully some things I will stick with and some things I may do another six weeks later in the year!
I have been on a reading binge – I have had a real spurt of books I have enjoyed.
Disclaimer by Renée Knight
Imagine if you started reading a book that had mysteriously appeared in your house only to find out the book was about you. Specifically about you and an incident from your past which you have kept hidden from everyone – and the only other person who knew about it is a long time dead….
I would give this one a 7/10. The plot required a hefty suspension of belief on a couple of major points but all up, a fast paced enjoyable read.
All These Perfect Strangers – Aiofe Clifford
I loved this. But I am a big fan of the mystery set in academia. The Secret History is one of my favorite books and there are some similar themes here. This is not released until March – I was given a free copy for review but it is certainly one I can heartily recommend.
Funnily enough, the book in Disclaimer was called The Perfect Stranger. It was a really weird but totally cool coincidence!
The Grown Up – Gillian Flynn
This short story (it’s just over 6O pages on my Kindle) has more twists and turns than a spiral staircase. I loved it. And you can read it from start to finish in about an hour!
Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
Another outsider goes to posh school – mayhem ensues book. I did tell you I had a thing for them. Do not read this if you are one of those (annoying) people who has to like the main character in a book. Tifani/Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive is awful! She’s shallow and self obsessed, snarky and mean. I am about three quarters of the way through this and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I hope the end is not a let down.
I just noticed three out of the four of them mention Gone Girl. And have black, white and yellow covers. I’m sensing a zeitgeist.
Come Dine With Me
I started watching old episodes of the British Come Dine with Me on the telly over the break and am now utterly obsessed with it. I soon exhausted all the episodes available and am now mainlining episodes on You Tube.
The best part is the narrator. He is hilarious.
Oh and there was a series of episodes with my girl-crush Sabrina Ghayour of Persiana fame.
Another British show. This is like a reverse Family Feud where people try to guess the least popular answers to a question, the goal being trying to get an answer that whilst correct, no one in the studio audience chose. It would be a fairly run of the mill quiz show if not for the hosts – host and co host who are just delightful. Charming, witty. Smart. I could watch the two of them banter all day!
So excited about this. We were a week behind the States so are only two episodes in. And it’s been great. Even though I have been watching the classic episodes, when I heard that theme music and saw that they had kept the old intro I got almost a little teary….
And speaking of getting a little teary, I went to see Nigella Lawson in conversation. She was brilliant. There a not many people for whom I would stand in line for and hour and a half just to get a book signed by she was worth every minute.
Now, how about a recipe for these babies?
This week I am looking forward to cooking:
Chicken, Feta and Zucchini Meatballs from my latest Tasty Reads Choice, Life in Balance by Donna Hay. We have our meeting in a few weeks and I feel I have not done this book justice. Time to get cracking!
A Biscotten Torte from the A-Z of Cooking
Tomato, Peach, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Salad. I am the only person in my family who likes fruit mixed in with salads that are not fruit salads. Does that make me weird? Or them?
Time to share. What are you enjoying reading / watching / doing?
Och aye laddies and lassies, today we are moving from the lowbrow fish finger to the highbrow as we celebrate the life of poet Robert Burns with a breakfast version of a Scottish dessert, the cranachan.
tomorrow, January 25th, people all across Scotland will be celebrating the birth of Robert Burns with Burns Night Suppers. The traditional Burns night supper is an elaborate affair with a strict ceremonial order including pipers piping, many toasts and, of course, a haggis. A traditional cranachan is often served as a dessert at these functions.
We are not making a traditional cranachan today because it would normally be doused with a liberal dram (or two) of whisky. Sadly, I am still on my January cleanse so I did not want to include booze in mine.
And before anyone can cry “But that’s not how you make porridge”….we’re eating my cranachan for breakfast. And I’m hoping that even the most patriotic Scotsperson may be happy to forego the single malt for the first meal o’ the day. And whilst I’m certain whisky would be awesome, oats and fruit and nuts are an equally fabulous breakfast combo!
Burns’ love may be like a red, red rose but this girl’s heart skips a beat for ruby, red rhubarb!
Rhubarb is one of my favourite fruits. I love it’s tanginess, and its gorgeous colour.
I cut my rhubarb into pieces, washed it, and sprinkled it with some sugar then popped it in the oven to roast.
Next into the oven was some rolled oats, mixed with a little maple syrup to give them almost a slightly crunchy granola effect.
Whilst that was in the oven, I whipped some cream then added an equal amount of coconut cream and whipped that in, then added some plain Greek yogurt and stirred that through with a little bit more of the maple syrup.
Traditionally it would just be the cream and whisky here, maybe with a little sugar to sweeten it up a bit. I pretty much threw in the coconut cream on a whim because I had some leftover in the fridge and had no other use for it.
Then I roasted some pecans in yes, you guessed it, some maple syrup. (It feels a bit like I am also celebrating Canada this post).
The rest is assembly. Start with a layer of fruit – I had some blueberries as well as the rhubarb. Then a layer of the crunchy oats, a layer of the cream mixture – repeat. Finish with a layer of oats and sprinkle this with more blueberries and the maple candied pecans.
This is delicious!!!! You could alter the fruit for whatever is in season but I really liked the combination of what I started calling “rhu and blue”.
And that my friends, IS how you make cranachan!.
And for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, here is an ad for oats that was on Australian television back in the day:
A fabulous and delicious breakfast to fortify yourself on the morning of Burn's Night or any other day.