Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Please tell me I’m dreaming! It can’t be THAT time of the year again! Surely not, Shirley! We’ve not had Easter yet, have we? Didn’t we just celebrate New Year’s Eve? I must have slept through my alarm! Does this mean I have to start planning my Christmas fare - again?

“Fare” - a word of various meanings, one of which describes what awaits us just around the corner following a few more sleeps! How come one little word is allowed many meanings? Is that fair? I might charge a fare for a place at my Christmas table, and then I’ll fare well. Will you feel it’s fair if you have to pay a fare to share my festive fare? I have to find a way to pay for the appetising fare, somehow! It’ll be a grand affair, I promise! Charging a fare may not fare well with you, however, if that be the case, I bid you farewell!

I believe I’m offering a fair deal! All’s fair in the fare game, or all fare is fair game!

My Christmas cake is already made. For the past few weeks I’ve pretended that it’s not sitting just over there on my table, its deliciously rich aroma torments me, say and night. It beckons me wickedly when I pass by! Desperately I’m trying to ignore its siren call, and not succumb to temptation. Unconsciously, my hand reaches out for the nearest knife, but I have to sit on it (my hand, not the knife) to stop me from attacking the cake! Oh! Willpower, do not forsake me just yet!

Already the licorice allsorts I bought have gone by the way of all delicious licorice allsorts! They just don’t keep these days, do they? I have to buy more, but I’ll leave that chore until Christmas Eve - to be on the safe side! It’s a sticky situation when I can’t trust myself!

I bought a pair of blinkers to wear each time I venture into IGA between now and Christmas! They were on sale after Melbourne Cup Day! If you run into me at the supermarket and I start neighing, just give me a nudge or a whack on the rump!

No matter how often I tell myself that I’m not going to go overboard on the fabulous fare on offer, my resolve dissolves when I spy the exquisite goodies - hence the need for blinkers!

Fare thee well my co-conspirators! Sweet dreams until Santa's visit - the countdown has begun!

Barbecued Mud Crab: Cut 2x1kg mud crabs into four; crack claws; place quarters in air-tight container with 190ml olive oil, 70ml lemon juice, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 sliced red onion, 1tsp chilli flakes, sea salt and freshly-ground pepper; toss to combine; cover. Marinate in fridge 1hr; toss occasionally. Heat barbecue to med-high; cook crab 10-15mins; turn regularly. When cooked sprinkle with lemon-salt: Combine 1tbl sea salt with 1tbl finely-grated lemon zest.

Seafood Salad: Remove and discard heads of 250g baby octopus; rinse well the rest of the baby octopus in saucepan over med-heat briefly. Bring 3/4c white wine to boil with 9 peppercorns and 6 parsley sprigs; add octopus; cook 1-2mins; add 300g peeled green prawns, tails intact and 10 scallops; cook 2-3mins. Remove seafood from liquid; cool in bowl; reserve liquid. Toss 12 oysters through seafood; drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and 1-2tsp reserved liquid; serve with garlic-rubbed grilled sourdough.

Baked Pickled Pork: Ask your friendly butcher politely to pickle a 3kg rolled joint or leg of pork (give him a few days notice - it’s a cheaper substitute for ham). Put pork into pot with 2 onions, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots, peppercorns, cloves; add a mixture of water, vinegar and dry mustard just to cover pork; cover pot; bake in 170C oven – 3 hours; turn after 1-1/2hrs. Cool in liquid 1hr; transfer to bowl; put greaseproof paper on top, then a weighted plate; chill until next day.

Walnut Ginger Shortbread: Preheat oven 135C. Cream 340g butter and 150g sugar until pale; add 420g plain flour, pinch salt, 150g very finely-chopped crystallised ginger and 200g very finely-chopped walnuts; mix until just combined; don’t overwork. Roll out to 4mm thick on lightly-floured surface; cut into shapes; place on lined baking trays; bake 15mins; cook without colouring; cool on racks.

Mango Daiquiri: Put 50ml white rum, 2tbs sugar syrup, juice of ½ lime and 2 pureed mango cheeks into shaker with crushed ice; shake well; strain into tall glass.


  1. Lee,
    Fare-thee-well back atchya Lee, today and through-out the coming year.
    Merry Christmas!
    Nice to see you under the microscope.

  2. Nice to see you in my kitchen, too, Rel! :)

  3. Hi Lee! Happy holidays from wintry Michigan. You can walk by a fresh cake for three weeks without sampling? What willpower. The seafood salad looked tempting till I saw the octopus heads.

  4. Hi there Dave...I rephrased the bit about the octopus (sorry - I didn't explain it clearly enough first time around)...the heads are removed and discarded...then the rest of the baby octopus is used in making the dish. You could substitute with squid (calamari) if you wish.

    Nice to see you, Dave...Merry Christmas!! :)

  5. A very Merry Christmas to you Lee and may 2011 bring all sorts of good things.

  6. The food looks wonderful! Merry Christmas, Lee, and a joyous New Year.:)

  7. Thank you Peter and Serena. I intend to have a relaxed one, but, as usual, I have far too much food!!!

    Merry Christmas! :)

  8. Peace. Happiness. Lots.

  9. Thanks, Lee!

    I'm not talking to myself - to those of you who think otherwise! There is another "Lee" out there!

  10. Best wishes for 2011 – I hope you’re not washed out by the floods!!

  11. G'day, Lindsay...best wishes of the Season to you, too. It's nice to hear from you.

    No...no flooding here where I live although one of the roads up to the mountains is cut off. Everything is so, so wet, though...my floors feel wet to walk on...everything is damp. The mould will set in soon. We've (and still are having)had an incredible amount of rain.

  12. Lee. You're alive. Good news indeed. I for one will pay a fare to eat from your holiday table.
    Happy New Year. BTW, I fixed a large prime rib for Christmas and it was judged the best any of us had ever had. (pretty good for folks as old as me) I thought of you. Later

  13. That prime rib has my taste buds in overdrive, Cliff! Sounds great!

    Happy New Year to you and your family, too.

  14. It's over, Lee and a New Year has started...albeit a rather damp one.

    Your Christmas fare sounds delicious and fair go, it makes the mouth water.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what 2011 brings...it can only be good and I'm the eternal optimist!

    I have actually posted today...wonders will never cease, and my blog is faint with shock.

  15. I've a feeling it's more than damp, Robyn!

    We always have hope in our hearts regarding a New Year, but those hopes always seem to be swiftly smashed! Boy! I do sound pessimistic but Queensland certainly hasn't had a good start to 2011!