Friday, August 25, 2006

What's For Dinner?

It's that time of the week, again. I love my Saturdays and Sundays, more than is normal, probably. I guess it's after years of being in the hospitality industry, working through both days and nights, mostly (24/7 filled with long, tiring, oft times stressful hours) or sometimes only having Sundays off and trying to make the best of the few hours I had to myself. That is no longer the case and here I am, continuing to relish my weekends. Sometimes, like next Saturday, I invite friends over for a long, relaxed lunch. A leisurely afternoon spent grazing over a tempting, delicious array of foods. The weather here at the moment is perfect for lazy picnics beside a creek or somewhere overlooking the ocean...minus the crowds! On that note, I'm going to share with you a couple of ideas for picnics.

Marinated Lamb Cutlets: Place 16 trimmed lamb cutlets in a large bowl. Mix together 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly, 1 tablespoon each orange and lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 cloves garlic, chopped, 6 sprigs thyme and freshly ground pepper to taste. When well-combined pour over the cutlets. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Allow the cutlets to return to room temperate before cooking on a barbecue grill or a ridged heavy pan. Baste with the marinade, until the cutlets are cooked to your liking, but please don't over-cook the lamb. Allow to cool. Place into a sealable container with any left-over marinade. (Of course, you can cook this for a home meal, too and serve it hot if you wish)

Beetroot Dip: Preheat oven to 200C. Scrub 3 medium beetroot, stalks trimmed. Dry and wrap in foil. Roast for about 1 hour. Peel the beetroot. Place in a food processor with juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste together with a pinch of sugar. With the motor running, add enough extra virgin olive oil in a slow stream until the mixture forms a thick puree. Serve with dill pickles, crackers or crunchy bread.

Gala Pork Terrine: Remove, in one piece, the rind (and reserve) from 1.5kg boned loin of pork. Reshape the loin into a log shape. Using a sharp knife, cut about 8 even slices without cutting all the way through. Season each slice with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a 29cm x 10cm x 7cm deep terrine. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add 6 cloves chopped garlic and 2 large onions, diced. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until softened, translucent, not brown. Add 1-1/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon thyme leaves. Stir until heated through. Place in a bowl with 1/2 cup slivered pistachio nuts, a bunch of flat-leafed (Italian) parsley, chopped and juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix well and season to taste. Place 8 thin slices bacon, rind trimmed (or slices of pancetta), parsley stuffing and a pitted prune in between each pork slice. Push the pork back to its original shape. Carefully place into terrine (fitting snugly one would hope!). Rub some smoked paprika over the top and place 3 bay leaves on top. Pour over 120ml white wine to just cover the pork. Trim reserved pork rind to fit the top of the terrine. Place on top of pork. Cover with lid or foil. Cook in preheated 150C oven for 2-1/2 hours. Remove from oven. Cool and refrigerate overnight. Remove the pork rind and discard. Remove any fat from the top. Run a knife around the edge of the terrine. Invert it onto a plate. When ready to serve cut the terrine into slices and serve with its own jelly.

Pack a rug, throw in some wine (or gently place it in your car!), a few cushions, napkins, plates, cutlery, water, flask of good coffee and off you go to find a suitable spot to enjoy your picnic. I wish I was coming along!

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