Festive Highlights

The last two weeks have literally been a blur of cooking,eating,friends and relatives, and forays into the stunning part of the world that is now our home – Cape Otway. If I may just relive,recap and bathe in the lingering culinary deliciousness of the festive season by sharing the following highlights:

Guava paste

I love quince paste. Love it. Make it every year. Hunted all over town and stood in front of my stove for 8 hours while 39 weeks pregnant and in the grip of some bizarre hormonal quince madness making the damn stuff. You know what? I’d give it all away for guava paste. This sweet, crazy goodness came in a satisfactorily large tin from Casa Iberica in Fitzroy. Oh and it brought friends – a truly gorgeous hard goats cheese that completely lacked that sometimes confronting goatiness, some lovely ham and (bliss!) chorizo. Wrap it small goods, smear it on bread, cuddle it up with cheese, feed slabs of it to your kids. Think of it constantly and try to resist its sweet, sweet siren song. Dare you.

Prawns stuffed with pork

The tastiest wee creatures of the sea stuffed with the tastiest wee creatures of the land.These delights were stuffed with a very simple paste of pork mince, coriander, black pepper and fish sauce, dredged in a mixture of rice flour and plain flour,dipped in egg and deep fried. Smear them in a commercial sweet chili sauce – good, good,good. I served these up with a zinging and blisteringly chili-hot green mango salad and an incredibly simple sweet and sour pineapple curry. One of the best all round spreads I’ve plated up in a while -we sweated and giggled for a solid half hour.

Campari and orange

My drink of the season. Not much to say- it’s the taste of summer. The Campari is dusty and bitter and strange and the orange is refreshing and easy and it won’t get you too tanked. My husband doesn’t like it. I try not to be judgemental about this.

Sage and onion stuffing, Christmas cake and flaming puddings

As my northern English grandparents start to age and I evidently start to mature (!!), certain secrets are being passed down. I witnessed the making of the Christmas cakes and now know the sage and onion stuffing that for me is the only thing worth putting up a turkey’s bum. Grandad’s piece de resistance is always the Christmas pudding, however. It is dense with fruit but somehow maintains that spongey soft steamed pudding texture. Drenched with brandy and ceremoniously set on fire before being bathed in custard and hard lumps of mum’s brandy butter, I’ve never had better.

Tim and Jane’s leftovers

My brother and his family arrived at our folks house from Singapore on boxing day and stayed a week – great to see them.  They are GOOD at food. I rocked up at mum and dad’s on new years eve, hungry and with a lot of  cooking to do. And,  joy, they had heaps of leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. All very middle eastern – lovely strips of polenta crumbed calamari, tartare sauce made with yoghurt and tahini instead of mayonnaise (therefore kind of healthy and easy to eat lots of) and a yummy salad. There is little more delightful than a fridge full oflittle bowls of fantastic leftovers that need to be eaten.

I haven’t even got to the balinese seafood satays, the lentil salad or the five spice roast chicken but I’m spent and the guava paste is calling…

Chinese New Year soon – better get my skates on!

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