This year for Mum's birthday my treat was to cook all day. Not sure if it was more of a gift for me or her ... I got to stretch my skills a bit, discovering cooking for 6 is not as simple as cooking for 4 or 2. Preparation time for each dish suddenly becomes more important, and the last 30 minutes before we sat down to the starter at lunch were a bit stressful. Looking back it was a bit of a rush, akin to what I sometimes experience at work. Thankfully, everyone (except Mum) stepped in as a willing sous chef, swallowing their pride and eagerly following my snappy instructions. There was a lot of 'don't touch that', 'chop this', 'garnish those with basil', 'no, wash the basil first' ... and my favourite 'stop eating the fondant mixture' ...
I learnt something new with this exercise. Making delicious food, even if it takes all day - Easy! Photographing it in all it's glory - Not So Easy! Hope that explains the not-so-great photos, but I was just too excited not to share them.
I started the day recreating Bill Granger's ricotta hotcakes
to much acclaim. We substituted the honeycomb butter with Vermont maple syrup
(my brother's girlfriend praising
it above the Canadian version).
Lunch kicked off with Mushroom Stacks. A recipe I found in an old Marie Claire cookbook. Eggplant, fennel, field mushrooms spread with pesto, topped with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. Stack all ingredients in that order and bake at 200C for 30 mins. Sprinkle with black pepper and fresh basil. Serve immediately. (I cheated a little and first baked the eggplant pieces by themselves for 30 mins.)
The main event lemon and basil chicken accompanied by Roasted Peppers topped with Halloumi. The recipe I found in a yellowed page from the SMH Good Weekend dating back to the mid 1990s. I used roasted peppers (drain well or even better go for a variety not marinated in vinegar, if available), layering with halloumi, topping with 2 finely sliced cloves of garlic, black olives, capers and parsley. Sprinkle with olive oil. Bake for 20 mins at 200C. Serve immediately.
The crowning event was Chocolate Fondants with Dulce de Leche
of The Stone Soup
via Initiales JB
. Finally got to put my Pavina
glasses and JB's Avanti
serving dish to good use. Thank you, JB
! Not only for the gifts, but for the inspiration.
Ta - Da