Monday, February 28, 2011

something different - bbq'd birds

Like a lot of other things in our lives, I find that it is really easy to fall into a rut in the kitchen... Too often we find ourselves cooking the same things over and over.  Whilst the things we cook to death often fall into the 'family favourites' bracket (because there is good reason that we cook them as often as we do), it is time for us to broaden our horizons!!!  In the search of a new 'family favourite' mother and I have made a promise.  We will cook something new and exciting each week.  

And so last week I found inspiration from the February installment of Gourmet Traveller magazine.

While over at Straddie last weekend, we cooked our take on marinated Spatchcock (and Poussin - there is a difference I have now learnt, Poussin is a smaller bird which is juicier and has a more delicate taste) with homemade flat bread and a simple tomato and rocket salad...

I couldn't (and still can't) believe how simple it is to make flat bread - flour, warm water and butter creates this!!!  I have found (now that I have cooked it multiple times!) that the trick is to roll the dough until it is really thin then spray with oil and fry quickly on a very very hot plate or grill... If you leave the bread on the heat for too long it will become too crispy (and like cardboard), too short and it will be too doughie.  For me, the bread needs to be soft enough to fold with a slight crustiness.

We didn't have a basting brush to keep the birds hydrated while they were on the BBQ so we improvised with a bunch of thyme.

The marinade for the birds was a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon rind, garlic and thyme. These flavours were simply perfect for the hot weather, especially when paired with a cold Peroni. 

A simple salad of cherry tomatoes (halved), red onion (finely diced) and basil (thinly sliced) splashed with white wine vinegar, good quality olive oil and a pinch of sugar served with a bunch of rocket adds another level of freshness to finish off a great combination!

Mum and Dad's back deck was the perfect backdrop for yet another great family lunch. 

The BBQ'd birds and the flat bread ticked all the boxes and are now the latest additions to the favourite's list. True to form, I have cooked them both on multiple occassions since last weekend and have enjoyed them each and every time!  It is exciting when you cook something new that you (and the people you cook for) really enjoy.

Happy Eating!!!


Friday, February 25, 2011

it's the weekend!

We have arrived.  Ice cold beers.  Beautiful lamb chops.  And plenty of red wine.

Can't wait for a cracking day tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Happy eating!!!!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Buon Compleanno!

Today is a special day for our family. 

Today marks the joint birthday of my older brother (Nick) and our older cousin (Benno - aka Youngie)...  We are lucky to be able to celebrate a special day all together...

Tomorrow we are heading to Youngie's beach house for a weekend full of wine, food, beer, music, good times and happiness!!!  I simply can't wait.

Happy birthday Youngie.  You are the glass half full man and always the life of the party.  I can't wait to celebrate with you this weekend!!!

Happy birthday my brother!  You are my best mate and the most inspirational and apsiring mentor anyone could ever hope to have.  Your generosity never goes unnoticed.  I couldn't place a value on everything you do for me.

The weekend that lies ahead is full of promise and I can barely sleep tonight... I feel like a 10 year old on Christmas Eve... The last thing I want to do is go to sleep, yet I know the sooner I fall to sleep, the sooner tomorrow will come!  Perhaps I should start counting the sheep as they jump over the fence....

Here is to a fabulous weekend ahead.

Cheers Nick and Benno.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

late night snack

Tonight I had a massive sweet tooth craving!!! Luckily Dora had made her take on apple crumble last night.  I reheated a serve in the oven and added way too much thickened cream.  I savoured every mouthful....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

family favourites

Given that much of the inspiration for my cooking comes from my family and their specific likes and dislikes, I thought I would start a series of posts titled 'family favourites.'  These are the recipes that we have cooked over and over, time and again (as we often do when we get onto something we love) and despite this we continue to savour them on every occasion. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

family favourite # 1 - fresh pastsa tossed with prawns, chilli and garlic

You'll need:
  • Your choice of fresh pasta - our favourite is spaghetti, but angel hair will do
  • 1.5kg green prawns, peeled and butterflied (always use more than you need as you will always lose some to the vultures in the kitchen as you are cooking...)
  • 3 x large red chillies, finely chopped (you can add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 2 x white onions, finely diced
  • 3 x cloves of garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 4 x punnets of mixed cherry / grape tomatoes
  • large bunch of basil, torn in pieces
  • 4 x large glugs of olive oil
  • grated parmesan + a handful of rocket to serve

  • sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to season

Preheat oven to around 200 degrees Celsius.  Meanwhile, add tomatoes, chilli, onion, garlic basil and olive oil to a large baking dish. Season well with salt and pepper.  Bake in oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to break down slightly.  I prefer for the tomatoes to retain their structure but other people like them sloppy, either way works.  It just depends on your own preference.

Whilst the tomatoes are doing their thing in the oven, shell the prawns completely (i.e. don't leave their tails on - I really prefer to be able to dig into the end result and not have to worry about the tails), devain and butterfly. 

Then fry in a wok, with a splash of oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Remove tomatoes from the oven and stir through cooked prawns, slightly squishing the tomatoes as you go so that the juices ooze out.  Then add fresh pasta to a pot of salted boiling water and cook for around 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, set the table and crack open a bottle of your favourite vino - mine at the moment is a good pinot noir from either Tasmania (Australia) or Central Otago (south island of New Zealand). 

Once pasta is cooked, drain and toss through the tomatoes and prawns.  Reserve a splash of the water that you cooked the pasta in to help when tossing the pasta as this assists in binding the sauce and keeps the pasta silky.

Serve with a couple of rocket leaves, lemon wedge and freshly grated parmesan. 

This has to be one of the simplest dishes I have ever cooked.  Surprisingly, it is also one of my all time favourites.  Perfect for summer time, especially at the beach around the table with a large group of friends and family.

All that's left now is to clean up.  Thankfully this is a job that Dora actually enjoys... I know, this concept is foreign to me too but I am not complaining.

I would love to hear about some of your family favourites if you can bring yourself to part with the secret.

Happy eating!!


Monday, February 21, 2011

the hair of an angel (or so I'd like to think)

What a weekend! Magical weather. Swimming at the beach. Drinking cold beer.  Eating tasty treats.  Solving the world's problems over a glass of delicious Pinot. General mucking about. 

Now for this week...

Have you ever made fresh pasta? If not, you must give it a go - it's just the best and it is so simple!! 

On the weekend we had homemade angel hair tossed in a family favourite – prawns, chilli, tomato, garlic, basil and olive oil.

Things you need:
5 x Large Eggs
500 grams of type ‘00’ Flour (super fine flour)
Pinch of Salt

This ratio will give you enough pasta for 6 - 8 hungry people.  The general idea is to use one large egg per 100gms of flour so you can simply increase or decrease the ingredients as you need.  For a more funky colour, you can simply add more egg yolks. 

Although the traditional method is to mix the dough by hand I cheated by using the KitchenAid Mix Master.  I don't think it makes too much of a difference to the taste but it makes the clean up easier and minimises the risk of a 'blow out' where you are confronted by a torrent of eggs and flour surging across the kitchen bench.

It starts like this – cool, calm and collected

Then goes a little like this – controlled chaos

And ends up like this

Check back here tomorrow to see what we did with the prawns.

Happy eating!


Friday, February 18, 2011

heading east on friday (its a family thing)

Things you need to know:
  • I am a Brisbane CBD fringe dweller (too far west of the coast for my liking);
  • From the moment I opened my eyes this morning all I could think about was travelling east to the coast;
  • Come knock off time, I headed east to catch the barge with mum, dad (aka didds), GF (Jenny) and dog (aka Gus) from Cleveland to Straddie.  This is what I saw:

on my way to this:

then mum and I cooked this:

which ended up looking like this:

Family response:
  • Didds - asleep on the couch
  • Jenny - asleep in bed

All too much for the two of them - they obviously don't get the excitement of the photo shoot / blog experience....

Mum and I on the other hand are still here at the table enjoying a glass of vino making Friday last as long as we possibly can.

Happy eating!!!!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

cookbook obsession

It all started with this Jamie Oliver book and has now grown into an obsession! Now I can't even walk past a book shop without dropping in and heading straight to the food and drink section for a look around.  At least this means I am easy to buy for at Christmas.

The recipe shown from the Jamie Oliver book is for a marinated leg of lamb cooked over open coals.  I must try this on the beach at Straddie.

Because my collection is ever expanding I would welcome some new ideas.  What is your favourite cookbook?

Happy eating!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mid-week Marinade

Craving something quick and easy, tonight we had an old faithful. Lamb chops. All meat eating Australians love lamb chops!  

To mix it up a little I picked some rosemary from my crazy rosemary bush and created a simple lemon, rosemary and garlic marinade.  What a simple yet effective way to brighten up an old favourite!  

Simple Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic Marinade:
- 3 x Sprigs of Rosemary
- Rind from 1 Lemon
- 3 x Garlic Cloves
- 3 large glugs of good quality Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper for seasoning

Grind rosemary in pestle and mortar until suitably mulled.  Add remaining ingredients and grind to infuse flavours.  Add to meat and leave to marinade for at least 1 hour.  

After leaving the flavours to do their thing I threw the chops on the BBQ and grilled for a couple of minutes.  Served with a simple salad, they were v. delicious.

If anyone has any other simple marinades I would love to hear suggestions....

Happy eating!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Food of Love....

Given that I haven't really got on board with the whole Valentines Day thing this year, I thought it would be good to have my first guest post here at Sam's Table from someone who has.  My Sister, Anna Spiro who has the amazing blog Absolutely Beautiful Things, has certainly embraced the spirit of the day...

"Tonight I cooked Brad his favourite Spaghetti Bolognaise.  It is so simple and basic but he loves it.  As it is Valentines Day I set the table and placed the flowers he sent me today in a vintage willow patterned teapot I recently picked up at a flea market in New York.  We sat, we ate, we chatted and then we cleaned up.  I probably wouldn't have chosen this dish for dinner but he loves it so I made it. 

Happy Valentines Day."

It's great to see that food brings us all together . . .

Friday, February 11, 2011

Holiday Favourites

Every Christmas our family heads to Straddie to Mum and Dad's beach house where we over indulge in wine, food and loud music.  Each year I end up with a large pile of cook books for Christmas and we (mum and I) spend our holiday working through the endless recipes until we settle on a favourite, which we then cook over and over until we can't bear to think of eating that food again.  This year it was curries out of Phaidon's latest release - 'India'.  The above photos are of the curries that we cooked on New Years Eve - curries are great for a crowd as you can cook them hours in advance so that you can enjoy the night rather than spending it slaving away in the kitchen.  I have to admit - mum's prawn's stole the show!