Sunday, January 22, 2012

Impromptu Dinner and a Perfect Sunday

She can't help herself - an impromptu dinner by phone call late this week to friends to join us and she makes what I call a big production.Well really not for her!!!!
Me, I can hop on the bike for a casual 100 kms with my mates - for Sue it's hop into the kitchen to entertain friends with a fabulous meal, in my opinion anyway.
But really, its about enjoying the company of like minded people. Without mentioning names (Darren. Al and Tracy - shhhhh, I didn't say that) we started the evening on the deck in the backyard with nibbles, olives, dips and the odd beer and wine - sparkles and rose. Very nice on a balmy summer evening.

The wind came up a little so we adjourned to the dining room for the mains.
Oh, by the way, my tall friend brought the most magnificent Coonawarra Cab Sav/Shiraz/Merlot blend, 2002, a very special red. My other friend, not so tall brought a delightful Rose. (how do you do that thing with the apostrophe for Rose?)

I'll let Sue as usual describe the meal as I'm now in the middle of clearing the debris - remember the rule in our household - The Cook, Never Washes.
Oh no, she's gone to bed. OK, she'll post in the morning.

Our dear son when in Morocco this Christmas sent me this wonderful tagine. Some postage bill!! It is the sort you can cook in. The brightly coloured ones have lead paint and can only be used for serving.
One of our crew only eats fish so I decided to try a fish tagine. Most of the recipes I found were very Angloish (?) so I kept looking. I love the internet. Found a moroccan based site and a recipe on it for a fish tagine with chermoula, potatoes, tomatoes and various other veg.
I didn't feel very confident as it called for the lot to be cooked over a low to medium gas flame for 1 1/2 hours! Still, in the spirit of following a recipe for the first time you use we went.
I had previously seasoned the tagine, by immersing it in water for 24 hours, airdrying it, painting the unglazed surfaces with oil and leaving it in a coolish oven for an hour. We were ready to rock.
I bought some thick pieces of rockling and a few prawns from my wonderful fish man. Made a chermoula paste from the recipe and slathered it over the fish and popped it in the fridge for a couple of hours. A bit of olive oil on the base of the tagine, and then layered it with carrot batons, sliced onion, fish on top. Potato slices sprinkled with more spices then go around the edges to be overlapped with tomato slices. Remaining chermoula over the veg, salt and pepper, then slices of roasted red capsicum, olives and preserved lemon, lid on and on the heat. Fingers well and truly crossed! Popped in the prawns with 15 minutes to go. They weren't in the recipe and I couldn't imagine prawns after 1 1/2 hours! By the way the pic is before it was cooked. There was a heap of liquid after. (Just right for sopping up. Mmm)
Roasted some red onion, sweet potato and pumpkin, and later put that through cous cous with more of the capsicum and preserved lemon and lots of coriander. Made a salad of red onion slices, fresh tomato, chick peas and lots of parsley. Slices of sourdough baguette and ready to go.
When we took the top off the tagine the smell was amazing! Looked great too.
Well folks, I have to say the recipe was right. The fish was moist and delicious. Spicy, but not overwhelming flavours. I was thrilled it had all worked out so well. I now want to know Why it works. Can't just be the shape surely? Anyone know?
Anyone interested in the site with the recipe, let me know and I'll look it up again. I didn't keep it. Duh!
We finished with chocolate meringue nests with cream, strawberries and blueberries. Nice.
We have guests coming over on Wednesday night and I feel a tagine coming on! Mmm...maybe lamb with apricots and...something. It's so exciting to discover a new cooking medium that is not only easy but delivers such great results and LOOKS terrific too. OK Leon, I'll stop now. I know I tend to get a little over excited about these things.
By the way, we still have a cooking pan unwashed Mr Perfect!

My mate - the tall one said he'd bring a special bottle of red to dinner - he loves Sue's cooking and this was agreat way to show his appreciation. With a little age on it (2002), the Jamieson's Run Cab Sav/Shiraz/Merlot blend was decantered and allowed to breath for some time - It was beyond description. Sorry we couldn't share it with you.

Sunday's Ride
After Saturday night's dinner be agreed a late morning start to roll the legs was a good idea. The day was a most pleasant summer Sunday morning with people enjoying our Bayside Playground. Walking, cycling, sitting in cafes and watching life go by.
We rode down to our local bike shop/cafe. A coffee to start the morning was agreed by the five of us and then we decided to head north towards the city along Beach Road, taking in the beautiful views of Port Phillip Bay.
As we arrived at Port Melbourne we discovered that a huge cruise ship had docked - its passengers about to enjoy a few days in Melbourne.

As you can see - just a picture perfect day. Seagulls are well fed, people take a leisurely stroll along the St Kilda pier to the cafe at the end to enjoy a meal and possibly a wine.

It burnt down in the early 2000s and the Government made good to rebuild it as it was.

Palm trees, street lamps and a cruise ship at Victoria Dock.
Station Pier Port Melbourne 2012

And 1871
As I write this the day is still in the 20s and not a cloud in the sky. The thought of fish and chips on the beach sounds very inviting.


  1. Oh! Imagine a tagine from beautiful Morocco Sue - and your meal looks simply scrumptious great when a recipe goes to plan ......I'm sure you and your guests were pleased.

  2. What a coincidence - Nick's sister gave us a cookbook on tagines for Christmas. We tried a recipe using a regular frying pan with a lid and it was absolutely lovely. So much so that Nick went and bought us a beautiful, 2-person sized tagine.
    It seemed completely wrong to put an earthenware item on the hob but we followed the instructions and now we are hooked.
    I think it's the shape and the long slow cooking that does it. Our favourite recipe is with lamb, dates and almonds. So we're working our way through the book.

  3. I have never cooked with a tagine, this sounds so fantastic I will be on the outlook for one now.
    Your bike ride sounds like heaven in that weather. We both will have to start slowly as not a lot of cycling was done last year, and now my cough is still bugging me. As soon as spring arrives it will be short rides as often as possible to get the legs and the lungs working again. Looking forward to viewing France on two wheels again. Diane

  4. The food looks very tempting! I like the idea of the cook not doing the washing up.

  5. Hi Guys - Sue has just gone to bed so I thought I should answer the comments - only last night while about to start cooking, her true delight as most of you know, a knife fell from the bench and landed in her foot. Blood everywhere. She's fine but still recovering.
    So in answer to CW's comment, I cooked (under instruction) and washed up.
    So to Dianne and Diane,Jean and Cheshire Wife (CW), thanks for your interest on Sue's behalf. She'll be back soon.


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