Tuesday, March 26, 2013
LET’S NOT SPLIT HARES! I’M NO RABBIT, BUT I AM A RABID CREATURE OF HABIT!
Beware the hare! There will be lots of dem wascally scwewy wabbits wunning awound over Easter weekend. One that won’t be wunning awound is my chocolate Lindt wabbit. He’s still enjoying west and wecweation in my fwidge. (Nods to Elmer Fudd)
Firstly, an update; or, perhaps, this is the first time you’ve heard about my chocolate bunny! If that be the case here is his tale.
My Lindt chocolate bunny remains intact in my fridge; his ears didn’t even droop during the lengthy power outage we experienced a while back. Nothing has changed in his contained world. Over his years in residence, my fridge has become his home away from home. Clad in gold with a dark brown ribbon wrapped around his neck more as a fashion statement than for warmth, he has no escape plans. He just chills out.
My “Peter Chocolate-tail” feels secure in the knowledge that I’m a big sook. He knows I’m a softie who hasn’t the heart to eat him; not after all this time! I’m sure he wriggles his whiskers, flaps his ears and gives me a wink each time I open the fridge! I think he has Stockholm Syndrome!
If you believe all of that, you’re as crazy as I am! But, go with the flow...humour me!
Colourfully-wrapped chocolate eggs; elaborately-decorated sugar eggs; myriad bunnies of all sizes and mouthwatering hot cross buns have been tempting us on our supermarket shelves in the lead-up to Easter. We may niggle about the lengthy pre-Easter sales-marketing processes; nonetheless, we still willingly indulge in the variety of delightful delicacies on offer. I confess...I do!
When we were kids, my brother and I waited impatiently for Easter Thursday to arrive. Bursting with excitement we were unable to contain, home from school we’d race, ripping off our school clothes upon arrival. Quickly donning our “gad-about” attire, we’d grab a couple of Mum or Nana’s hats on our way out to the yard to gather grass and leaves. We’d then build nests in the hats for the Easter Bird to deposit its multitude of colourful eggs. No wascally wabbits visited us in those days of old when we were young and bold and did as we were told! The bird was the word in our household! No money was expended on the bunny!
Our Easter bird was an early bird; he filled our nests on Good Friday. No waiting around for a tardy bunny to belatedly arrive on Easter Sunday for us!
Anyway, you pundits of restraint shouldn’t criticise our eagerness to receive our Easter treats. Nowadays, hot cross buns and other Easter treats appear, without excuse, rhyme or reason upon supermarket shelves before we’ve had time to discard our Christmas gift-wrapping paper and ribbons; long before we’ve had time to exchange Aunt Clara’s set of flying ducks for something useful; or use them as target practice! I’m sure hot cross buns sometimes arrive on the shelves before Santa has given his sleigh a grease and oil change, let alone found time to polish Rudolph’s nose; or change the bulb in that very nose!
When Hinchinbrook Island was my home, my chef, David ordered a whole suckling pig – it was a big fellow (both the chef and the suckling pig) - to feed the resort’s hungry guests as part of our Easter Saturday night’s fare. Come Saturday afternoon David and my second chef, Ken readied the spit roaster on the deck surrounding the pool. Donning their somewhat risqué barbecue aprons, the description of which I shall not give here at the risk of offending those of more genteel natures, the preparation of the suckling pig began.
With curious interest, many of the holiday-makers gathered around to watch the activity out on the deck.
David had/has a mischievously wicked sense of humour. The previous evening, returning to the restaurant after dressing for the evening festivities, I popped into my office before spending time with my guests around their dinner tables and at the cocktail bar. Entering my office, I received a surprise.
Hogging my office chair was the bald beast (again, the swine, not my chef) displaying a demeanour of piggish authority. David had dressed the Frau sow in a colourful T-shirt. Smugly, it sat with a sun hat on its head, sun glasses on its snout and a glass of Scotch taped to its front right trotter! Harumph! I burst out laughing; grabbed my camera and took a photo. I must go in search of said photo! It is here somewhere amongst all my memorabilia...
Come Easter Saturday night everyone was in high spirits; guests and staff alike. When the suckling pig was cooked to perfection, my two chefs became engrossed in a battle royal as they tried to dislodge it from the shaft or vice versa. There were bits of pork flying everywhere! Who said pigs can’t fly? Often we put on free entertainment for our guests; it was part of the package deal; one they weren’t aware of when making their bookings.
After much hilarity dinner was served. Peace descended; appetites were sated.
7 am each morning on the island, from the end of the jetty, we tossed our perishable food scraps out into the ocean; excellent burley for the fish population. Like clockwork, a wide variety of fish gathered, having synchronised their watches to meet daily at 6.57 am; scales ironed; fins polished. They never disappointed they always turned up, with their friends and neighbours in tow.
Sly, the resident 300lbs-plus Groper, cruised regally among his fellow Pisceans.
That particular Easter Sunday morning following the previous night's festivities, with no fuss and one big gulp; and nary a sound of a burp, Sly swallowed the carcass immediately it hit the water. I then tossed Sly a packet of Quick-Eze, figuring he might need them for being such a pig!
A safe, joyful Easter to you all!
Pecan Pork with Balsamic Pears and Onions: Process 100g pecan until coarsely chopped; add 1/3c fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1-1/2c fresh breadcrumbs, 2tbs fresh sage and 2 garlic cloves; process until combined; season. Grab 2kg boned loin pork; score rind. Turn pork over; cut slit into thick end, not all the way through; open end to sit flat; place pecan mixture down centre of pork; roll, starting at thick end; tie securely at 2cm intervals; rub cut lemon over rind; and then rub salt into rind and cuts; place rind side up in pan; roast in 220C oven, 25mins; remove from oven; reduce heat to 190C. Toss halved 4 red onions; cut into 3 wedges, 3 pears halved, stems intact in 80g melted butter, 1/4c balsamic and 1/3c brown sugar; place in single layer around pork. Roast hour or so; rest pork before serving. Add spinach leaves to pear-onions; gently toss until spinach wilts; serve with pork.
Broccoli-Cauli Salad: Combine - 1 small cauli, broken and cut into small pieces, 1 large head broccoli, broken into small pieces, 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, 185g pitted black olives and 220g crumbled feta; add enough Italian dressing to coat; toss; chill overnight.
Hasselback Potatoes: Thinly and evenly cut through unpeeled potatoes; don’t cut all the way through. Place on baking sheet; drizzle liberally with olive oil and melted butter infused with garlic; fan out slices to get in between layers; sprinkle with Italian herbs and seasoning; sprinkle salt and pepper on outside of potatoes. Roast at 200C until golden; drizzle with oil and butter as needed. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
Easter Lamb with Feta Dressing: Roughly chop 1 rosemary sprig, 1 bunch of oregano, chopped, 2 bay leaves and 8 garlic cloves. Pulverise in mortar and pestle with a little oil, zest of 2 lemons, pepper and salt; add 3tbls Dijon mustard and 1/2c almond meal; transfer to bowl; mix in 1/4c olive oil and juice of 2 lemons. Massage mix into boned leg of lamb; marinate 2hrs; bring to room temp before cooking. Cook in preheated 230C oven 25mins; reduce heat 180C; cook until desired doneness; rest lamb 20mins before carving; serve with this hot feta dressing – combine 120ml red wine vinegar, juice of ½ lemon, 250ml ex-virgin oil, 1tbl Dijon mustard, salt, pepper in pan; warm; pull off heat; add 1250g drained feta, crumbled and fresh oregano; spoon over hot lamb.
Green Beans with Hazelnuts: Coarsely chop 1/3c hazelnuts; in pan, stir over med-heat until lightly toasted; season; set aside. Melt 1/4c butter in pot; add 700g cooked green beans and 2tsp rice vinegar; toss to coat and heat through; season; transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with hazelnuts. Easter Brunch Punch: Combine 4c cranberry juice, 2c orange juice, 1c pineapple juice, 1/2c lemon juice, 1/2c water, 1/3c sugar, 1tsp almond extract; stir until sugar dissolves; add finely-chopped punnet of strawberries or other fruit of choice; chill.
Easter Pie: Process 3/4c icing sugar, 3 eggs, 2tsp vanilla, 1tbs orange zest and 450g ricotta until smooth; stir in 1/2c cooked short grain rice and 1/3c toasted pine nuts; set aside. Lightly butter 9-inch pie dish; lay 1 phyllo sheet over base and up sides, let pastry hang over sides; brush with butter; layer another sheet in opposite direction; repeat process using up 6 sheets. Spoon in ricotta mix; fold the pastry over top of filling, enclosing it completely; brush with melted butter. Bake until golden and set. When cool, sift icing sugar over pie.