Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another wedding

I'm sitting here at the end of the week feeling drained and looking forward to cracking the Verve in the fridge and spending what I hope will be a relaxing Saturday night with some of our best friends. Tim thinks I'm nuts because I want to make pasta from scratch, but since he doesn't cook, he has no veto powers. It's actually not that hard or time consuming and I'll share my recipe for spelt pasta next week. It's also highly satisfying to plop your pasta into a pot of boiling water and watch it cook without falling apart. But I digress...

In a few days, Tim and I will have been married for six months. Six months! When did that happen? It feels so much longer. I still haven't gotten my dress back from the shop and I'm only hoping they've managed to repair the damage they did when they attempted to clean it. Sigh...

On the other hand, our godparents, Ali and Dave, have notched up 25 years! That's right folks, a whole quarter of a century. A silver wedding anniversary! And these two still act like teenagers in love. (It can be a little sickening to be honest.) Congratulations!!!

To celebrate, we threw a party and they renewed their vows. It was a really beautiful day with wonderful weather and wonderful friends , some of whom were at the first wedding. Ladybug doubled as flower dog, complete with silver tutu, and she was great (although she had to be dragged down the aisle) and the food was well received. Champagne flowed and the mostly white chocolate and berry cake didn't melt. I burned myself on the oven, but champagne's a great anaesthetic. I can only hope I can still cook for 35 people without batting an eye for Tim and my silver anniversary in 24.5 years!

[Ali is the stylish lady in red in the middle of the top photo and David is the old bloke (who also scrubbed up pretty well) talking to me in the bottom photo.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sausage rolls

Sausage rolls are another Tim favourite. I remember being able to eat them - the tasty, salty, meaty filling with just the right amount of fat and all encased in light puff pastry and beautifully enhanced by a good splash of tomato sauce. Sigh...

My mother's are brilliant. Tim raves about them and she knows it. I sometimes get the question from him on a Friday night: "I wonder if Christiana is making sausage rolls this weekend?" How would I know?

I also get calls from her when she has made them and they've just gone into the oven. It's a sort of sausage roll alert system, if you will. I can be at work, or scrubbing the bathroom or out with friends and if that call comes through, it's usually followed by "now, can you come and pick some up for Tim while they're still hot?" Of course mum. I'll just leave my job/chores/friends right now and come get some sausage rolls for my under-fed husband. (!) Neither of them think this request is unreasonable.

Last weekend I decided to whip up some of my own. They're super easy and much healthier and tastier than anything you'll get at a shop. If you make the large variety, one (or four in Tim's case) will make a good meal with some salad.

I was pretty happy with these. I still can't eat them, but Tim tells me they worked for him, although they weren't the same as Christiana's. Not better or worse, he tells me, just "different." I'd be concerned, but then being different didn't stop him from devouring the whole batch!

500g beef mince
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 eggs
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 sheets puff pastry
sesame seeds
tbsp milk

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for one of the eggs, the milk and the pastry. Mix well with your hands, making sure everything is properly combined. Wear disposable gloves if your squeamish about touching meat because this is one occasion when a wooden spoon won't cut it,

Make up an egg wash by beating the second egg and the milk together. Brush each sheet of pastry with the egg wash and cut in half.

Divide the meat mix into four equal amounts. Place one quantity of the mix into each of the four pieces of pastry and roll. You may need to flatten the roll out so it makes a large, cafe style roll. Brush each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 30 minutes (or until golden and puffy) at 180ยบ C.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dinner with Maggie Beer

Earlier this week, Tim casually suggested we go somewhere nice for dinner on Friday night. He said he'd make a booking and I thought we'd probably go to one of our favourite places in town. Yesterday morning, I asked him where we were going and after mentioning things like 'that pizza place' he said we were going to dinner with Maggie Beer. I didn't really believe him.
Anyhow, it became clear last night, once we were rounding State Circle that we were headed for Old Parliament House and Maggie's Table.

Pre-dinner drinks with friends in the courtyard were nice, followed by a Maggie-inspired three course meal. There was a live band, nice wines and Maggie and Janet Jeffs regaled us with some funny stories and Janet's vision for food in Canberra. Maggie and Janet then went from table to table to thank everyone for being there. It was a nice touch. I also managed to meet Maggie on the stairs and she graciously agreed to let Tim take our photo.

The Kitchen Cabinet is officially opening today and once the hysteria of a Maggie opening dies down, I'll go and have a look. I love the idea of having another outlet for regional and seasonal produce that supports local growers. The notion that Canberra can become a Barossa-style centre for food is one that appeals to me and was a theme of last night. Canberra is quite capable of making its mark as a great food destination. The region has so much to offer in culinary terms and I for one will be making more of an effort to support our local industry.