Category Archives: Starter

Retro Food For Modern Times: Lessons Learned From Masterchef and Two Ways with Oysters

“It’s a brave man who first ate an oyster”

Jonathan Swift

Oysters

Oysters

I had a dilemma this week.  I was reading  “The Party Cookbook” and found a recipe for a little dish called Osborne Oysters.  Now, it just so happened that with the half dozen oysters we buy as a little treat each Saturday, I had all the ingredients on hand to make this dish.

But, let’s face it. Oysters aren’t cheap.  And this recipe consisted of a few ingredients that I would never have put together – what if it tasted as bad as it sounded?  On the other hand, what if it turned out to be a magical combination that would have the likes of Heston Blumenthal lamenting “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Just to be clear on what I was up against, here are the ingredients for Osborne Oysters:

Oysters Osbourne Ingredients

Oysters Osbourne Ingredients

No, you don’t need to adjust your screen….that is an oyster, a banana and some Jarlsberg.  Now you see my dilemma?  My gut instinct is that those are three things that should never even be seen together (which is why one lives on the land, one in the sea and one on a tree) let alone combined into a dish.   I was still torn though, a little Heston Blumenthal devil on my shoulder was urging me to do it.  Then a tiny angel looking suspiciously like Marco Pierre White jogged my memory of a more recent seafood – banana melange.

Early in the current series of Masterchef: The Professionals, one of the candidates made a name for himself by serving Marco Pierre White a fish stew with a banana flavoured aioli.

That name was buffoon.

Marco described it as one of the worst things he had eaten. Ever.

So the big question.  Did I make and eat Osborne Oysters?

Not on your life.  I listened to my inner MPW and ate those oysters in my preferred fashion…with lemon, Worchestershire sauce and Tabasco.  And they were delicious!

Oysters My Way

Oysters My Way

My preferred Oyster mix (although I don’t usually measure it out) is:

½ teaspoon lemon juice

3 drops Worchestershire sauce

1 drop Tabasco

Et Voila…down the hatch!

Oysters My Way - Good to Go

Oysters My Way – Good to Go

I always follow this up with some bread and butter.  I have no idea why but Oysters make bread and butter taste even better than normal!

Oysters My Way With Bread and Butter

Oysters My Way With Bread and Butter

For anyone more stupid braver than me…here is the recipe for Osborne Oysters:

Osborne Oysters Recipe

For everyone else, if you take one thing away from this week’s post it’s to always listen to your inner Marco.

Enjoy your week.

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The Australian Vegetable Cookbook (1972) – The Redemption

After harping on about the awful recipes contained in this book last time, it was only fair to showcase some of the better recipes.  Three of them will be included here (I actually made 4 however this week is all about being positive so we won’t mention the Asparagus Italienne.  Ever.)

I chose the Stuffed Celery Curls as my first course.  This was jam-packed with flavours I love – celery, walnuts, chives, cream cheese and Tabasco so there was everything to like.  I chose not to add the red food colouring.  I’m hyperactive enough without it and I could see no earthly reason why it should be there.  I think the “au naturel” version looks much prettier anyway!

Ingredients

Sadly, my celery did not curl as per the picture in the book.   I read the recipe as saying you needed 15 pieces of celery 5 cm long.  Which is what I did.  In retrospect, I think it may mean an unnamed number of pieces of celery 15 cm long by 5 cm wide.  Although that doesn’t seem quite right either – 5cm seems too wide.  If you really want your celery to curl, here is a link:

http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/articles/authored/how-to-make-fun-garnishes-from-vegetables

It didn’t really matter though because whilst mine did not look as fun, they tasted amazing!  We had these as our starter however they could just as easily be a lunch box snack or as finger food.  Blue cheese would be an amazing variation.

Original

Mine – with obligatory knife but no curls 

Next up, for our main dish I made a Farmhouse Potato Bake.  This dish contains potatoes, Hungarian sausage (I used salami), sour cream and paprika so I guess is Eastern European in tone.  It was damn good wherever it came from.  If you weren’t fond of salami you could make this with ham, bacon, or left over roast beef or chicken or for a spot of luxury some smoked salmon.  As you will see from the picture, I subbed in basil for the oregano.  I think it is one of those recipes that you could pretty much use whatever proteins and herbs as you wanted. You could layer in other vegetables as well.  Asparagus, green beans, spinach would all be great!

Ingredients

Salami and Onion Sauteing, Potatoes Par-Boiling in the background

Layering

Crumb Mixture

I made a Panama Radish Salad from the book to go with this.  Well, I sort of did.  There is no intended slur to the recipe for my changes,  I think you could follow it absolutely and the result would be delicious.  I just happened to have no red onions and a bucketload of chives and rocket that I needed to use.  So I swapped these in.  I also used my favourite Black Russian tomatoes so my salad is probably “greener” than it should be….it still looks pretty good though.

Ingredients

Panama Radish Salad

These worked really well together, the pepperiness of the rocket and the radish in the salad, the freshness of the mint and the lemon in the dressing cut through some of the creamy, potato, salami induced richness of the Farmhouse bake.  Two big ticks here, will definitely be making both of these again.

The Meal – Delicious!

Bon Appétit.

The Italian Cuisine I Love – Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes 

These would be great for lunch or a light summer supper.  They are perfect for a hot day as there is no cooking!!!!

They would also be really cute if you made them for a tea party or as a finger food using cherry tomatoes and piping the mixture in.


4 firm ripe tomatoes
1 cup canned tuna
3/4 cup pimento stuffed olives, chopped
2 tbsp grated onion’
1 tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp capers, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, mashed
1 tsp lemon juice
mayonnaise
1 tbsp chives

Cut the top off the tomatoes, hollow out carefully.

Mash tuna  and combine with all oth er ingredients except mayonnaise and chives.

Mix well.

Add enough mayonnaise to bind the mixture.

Fill the tomato shells and sprinkle with chives.

Chill before serving.