41 was not a birthday that was ever going to get much attention (especially after a big 40th last year!) and I hadn’t planned on doing anything beyond thinking Elvin and I would go out for dinner. However my Mum and Dad invited us to their beautiful house in the Barossa Valley for lunch (and also took Lola overnight so we could go out later should we so desire). It was a sunny autumn day and we ate lunch looking out at their gorgeous garden rich with the changing colour of the leaves.
I’m lucky to have my birthday when I do as I often get a public holiday for it and this year was one of those years. So there was an extra note of indulgence in having this beautiful food instead of working on a Monday afternoon!
This was one of those meals which was definitely more than the sum of its parts. The main course, consisting of three dishes, brought together perfectly matching flavours and textures that set my taste buds tingling. I wasn’t the only one either. There was much oohing and aahing and other very contented sounds from everyone. The dessert was divine and featured some of my Mum’s quinces that I posted on recently.
The star of the show was a pair of succulent boned fillets of mulloway, tied together with thin slices of lemon tucked inside and roasted in the oven, drizzled with plenty of olive oil.
The fish was accompanied by individual tomato balsamic tarts with my Mum’s signature melt in your mouth short crust pastry
And a crunchy, full of flavour winter salad of pancetta, cos and pecorino. The whole plate was a marriage made in heaven
Mum was inspired for the mains by a meal from the Australian Gourmet Traveller ‘Food for Friends’ cook book, but with her own spin on things.
Finally we were treated to a luscious dessert of yoghurt, honey and vanilla panacotta served with deep pink baked quinces.
What a birthday treat!
Mum has supplied me with her recipes for the mains (see end of post) but we will have to wait for the panacotta and baked quince recipe as she and my Dad have taken off on a little jaunt to Port Elliot for a few days (nice to be retired!). Watch this space for an update.
If you’re from Adelaide you’ll already know that Port Elliot is a fab place for a short break on the coast with many foodie and other attractions. However, if you’re visiting from elsewhere or haven’t ever made your way down there check out this link to get you started.
Two whole boned fillets of mulloway, well seasoned inside and out, with very thin slices of lemon placed inside the two fillets which I tied together at intervals with string. I slashed the outside of the fish on both sides before seasoning the outside, and then rubbed olive oil over the skin. I placed it on baking paper in a roasting pan and roasted it at 220C for about 40 mins.
Tomato Balsamic Tarts (adapted from Tomato Tarts recipe, Gourmet Traveller: Food for Friends)
1 quantity of short crust pastry (home-made or bought)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
500g cherry tomatoes
small handful of baby basil leaves
salt and pepper
Line four loose bottomed individual tart tins with pastry then blind bake for 10 mins, cool.
Preheat oven to 200C. Melt butter in the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce until syrupy. Toss through tomatoes, season then divide among the pastry cases. Scatter with most of the basil leaves. Bake for 10-15 mins or until tomatoes have softened and pastry is golden. Remove from oven and scatter with remaining basil leaves just before serving.
Pancetta, Cos and Pecorino Salad (adapted from Radicchio, Coppa and Pecorino Salad, Food for Friends)
3 baby cos lettuce hearts
125g piece of pancetta
3 Tbl olive oil
1 1/2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
100g Pecorino, shaved
Finely chop pancetta and fry until crisp, drain and cool.
Toss all ingredients except cheese together in a bowl then, season and gently mix through pecorino shavings, taking care not to break them up too much.