We don’t always go out for dinner, but when we do we go ALL out!
For those of you not familiar with Perth, Western Australia, there is generally only one way to describe this time of year: bloody hot. And it will stay this way for at least a few more months yet (not that I’m complaining). As a result, one does not usually feel like heating up the house any further by switching on the oven, or slaving over a hot stove after a long day out in the searing heat. Enter the Australian summer staple: the barbeque.
Over the weekend we decided to fire up our barbeque for the first time after an unintentionally extended hibernation (read: we just hadn’t gotten around to tidying up the outdoor area yet). We had some lovely pork steaks itching to be marinated and grilled…and I had recently stumbled upon an idea for a novel summery side that I couldn’t wait to try.
Long story short, I had heard snippets of a recipe that contained ‘peaches’ and ‘whipped feta’ on the radio earlier in the week, and I was instantly intrigued. When I couldn’t find THE recipe in question on the radio station’s website, I did what any self-respecting twenty-tenner would do and ‘Googled’ it.
While I still wasn’t able to find the exact recipe I was looking for, I did manage to come across an equally tempting recipe by The Scrumptious Pumpkin for Peach Crostini with Whipped Feta. The exotic combination of grilled peaches, whipped feta and honey-balsamic glaze sounded almost too good to be true, but I was determined to give it a try.
For the pork steaks I made a quick Donna Hay-inspired marinade using fresh thyme (direct from my fledgling herb patch), homemade garlic oil (part of a very thoughtful Christmas gift from some very good friends) and Dijon mustard (regular jar variety, but tasty just the same). I then passed these on to the Man of the House to grill – along with the peaches – while I followed The Scrumptious Pumpkin‘s recipe, substituting the bread for rocket (arugula) to turn it into a salad.
In the time it usually takes for the oven to pre-heat, dinner was ready. Was it any good? I’ll let you judge for yourself (if you do, I highly recommend partnering it with a fruity, summery Rosé). All I can say is…long live summer!
Brits and Europeans are so lucky. The opportunity to simply ‘pop over’ to another country for a few days is a luxury Western Australians will never experience – one of the pitfalls of living in the world’s most isolated capital city (Perth). A girl can still dream though. As they say, “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed…”
A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a taste (albeit brief) of cooler autumn temperatures amidst our seemingly endless summer – it even rained for the first time in 150 days or so (fancy that)! It was the perfect opportunity to dust off the casserole dishes that had been relegated to the back of the cupboard – forgotten – for 6-7 months, and revisit equally-neglected recipes that called for hours of slow cooking.
Enter my trusty French cookbook, which I picked up for under ten dollars through one of those Social Book Clubs at work several years back. It didn’t take long to decide the weekend’s menu – I’ve always wanted to try making a Bourguignon, so all that was left to do was choose a chicken dish that looked tasty (and not terribly complicated). Spotting a classic mix of thyme, tarragon and white wine, I instantly settled on Chicken Chasseur.
As hard as it was to bid farewell to all that wine (it was for a good cause, after all), I took great pleasure in preparing the marinade for the Bourguignon – right down to making my own bouquet garni – while the Chasseur simmered away. And the warm, delicious scents wafting through the house on Sunday afternoon while the wine-soaked beef cooked were to die for! Comfort food, indeed.
While it’s not quite the same as enjoying a weekend in Bordeaux, or a Provencial mini-break, it’s nice to know I can still enjoy cuisine française…without the need to travel for 20 hours!