Monday, January 5, 2009

Boxing Day cooking in Potts Pt

After staying in Potts Pt for a few weeks (a mini holiday for me) I decided to make the most of it and try many new recipes with ingredients I haven't used before.

So for dinner with a friend I decided that instead of just one main, I'd do three salads instead. Although I will admit that I recycled a salad my Mum made for Christmas, but I just loved it so much I stole some as I left home that evening. It is her special braised octopus, parsley, garlic salad with cherry tomatoes olive oil and lemon juice. It is die for! I had to fight my cousin for the right to take home the left overs.

Well as also claimed some fresh prawns I wanted to use them Thai style. So I looked through a variety of Thai books to get an idea of the flavours that were in a classic Thai Prawn salad and then I went shopping which sounds simple, and in theory it is. I did get most of the ingredients between going to both Coles in Kings Cross and Woolworths in Potts Pt, but the one ingredients I just couldn't find was shredded I had to buy a fresh coconut It seemed like a good idea at the time but even following the directions I found it impossible to crack the shell.

The directions said pierce it with a skewer and drain out the juice (well a sharp knife did zilch so I have no idea how a skewer would have worked). I didn't know what to do. I started hacking away at it, in a little kitchen, but nothing was happening. OK. Step 2 directed me to place it in the oven for 10 minutes to dry out the inside so the shell would crack, after I had drained out the juice. It seemed like a good idea to dry out the shell anyways, maybe it would have been easier to crack it with a knife later. After about 25 minutes and an enormous amount of hacking I obtained a small slit in the shell and then used a knife to make a hole large enough to finally get the juice out.....then another 20 minutes in the oven to dry it out enough to crack about 1/5 of the shell off. It was enough for my salad but honestly the hardest ingredient I have ever worked with....literally. I was told after to just use a hammer next time.

So I combined the coriander, mint, Spanish onion, prawn, capsicum, coconut and dressing in a lime, fish sauce, palm sugar sauce. It turned out really lovely and fresh.

The last salad I wanted t make, a bit of a favourite of mine, was a fennel, red ruby grapefruit and Pecorino salad. Although I usually use a mandolin, this time I was without so it tested my knife skills, and it turned out ok, but the paper thinness of the fennel really changes this dish especially once it takes up the lemon juice and olive oil dressing. The difference this time is that I used Pecorino as opposed to Parmesan, which is a huge difference in flavour. Being sheep milk it has a much stronger and saltier taste but due to the sweetness of the grapefruit and the citrus in the sauce it was balanced so it did not overpower.

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