Hi guys! I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas. I’ve taken loads of photos over the past few days!
My sister Juji and her boyfriend Jay came over for dinner on Christmas eve. Since we knew we’d be consuming lashings of ham, turkey and other meats the next day, we decided to have a seafood barbecue.
Jac was keen to make garlic prawns. She tailed the raw prawns (they came de-veined) and poured olive oil over them while I chopped up lots of fresh garlic. Even raw like this, they looked so plump and juicy.
While the prawns marinated in the fridge, Jac tied strips of bacon around the scallops. She made sure the bacon strips all had at least a little fat on them – for extra tasty flavour, of course. :) Jac wrapped only half the scallops with bacon – a dozen, enough for three per person – I suggested she cook the rest of the scallops using the garlic butter we had in the fridge. Jac had made up a batch of garlic butter recently so we could make garlic bread, but never around to it. Scallops in garlic butter seemed a like a perfect way to use it up.
Juji and Jay arrived, and Jac got to work cooking the seafood on the barbecue. Once the barbie was cranked up, it didn’t take long at all. It smelled absolutely heavenly – the combination of some of the best smells in the world – barbecue, garlic, bacon and seafood, yum!
As Jac cooked the barbie, Juji and Jay put together a caesar salad. They’d brought along all the ingredients and the dressing. And to make it even more lovely, Jay fried up the bacon and croutons just before combining them with the cos lettuce, dressing and parmesan cheese.
Juji placed the bread on a dish. It was one of our favourites – Pane di Casa loaf from Baker’s Delight. It’s wonderfully chewy bread with a lovely crust.
Here’s the seafood, fresh off the barbecue. At the bottom, the scallops wrapped in bacon; in the middle, the garlic prawns; in the top corner, scallops cooked in homemade garlic butter.
Jac had cooked the prawns to perfection – they were bursty and succulent and utterly pleasurable to eat.
She’d also cooked the scallops perfectly – with tasty caramelised edges, they were firm but not hard, moist but not mushy, and so very sweet. Bacon and scallops make an awesome combination, but the garlic butter scallops were beautifully tender and juicy, and were my favourite of the two.
My plate, round one. The bread was just perfect for mopping up the garlic and juices. This was one of the most perfect and delicious dinners I’ve eaten at home – I think it’s wonderful that I have these photos to remind me! :)
The prawns and scallops were bought frozen from South Perth Seafoods, but they tasted fresh, sweet and juicy. Personally, I love frozen seafood. As long as the seafood itself is fresh and of high quality when frozen, is kept frozen at the right temperature, defrosted slowly and then cooked correctly with high quality ingredients, it should be delicious, as our prawns and scallops were – sweet, tender and bouncy. We’ve bought fish from the supermarket that was labeled “fresh”, but as it turned out, had been frozen, defrosted by the supermarket and then sold as fresh; because we didn’t know this at the time, we brought it home and stored it in the freezer, not realising that we were freezing the fish for a second time. The result was fish with a dodgy texture when cooked – a waste of money (“fresh” fish is not cheap!) and a disappointing and unsatisfying dinner! We stick to frozen unless we know for sure that “fresh” really does mean fresh.
Juji brought dessert too – just a little something she’d rustled up! She gave me the recipe to share with you guys.
Last minute trifle-style pud
By Juji, TFP’s sister
1 block Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla
2-6 tbsp icing sugar (to taste)
juice of 1 lemon
250 g cherries – stones removed, halved
250 g strawberries – hulled, chopped
juice of 1 orange
icing sugar to taste
1 packet Savoiardi biscuits
flaked almonds – toasted, to garnish
Use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese, lemon juice, cream, vanilla and icing sugar.
In a separate bowl, use a spoon or spatula to mix the cherries, strawberries orange juice and icing sugar.
Layer all items in your serving bowl.
Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.
Tip: You can toast almonds in the microwave on High for 3 mins, stirring frequently until toasty! Make sure they’re cool before garnishing the pud with them.
We sank onto the couch and dug into our bowls of pud. It was really lovely! My favourite part was the toasted flaked almonds and the sweetened cream cheese. I love the smell of toasted nuts. I’ve never been a big fan of cherries, but I may have found a way to enjoy them in this dessert! You could probably also soak the Savoiardi biscuits to soften them up a bit if you wanted, in a similar way to trifle – some sort of booze like sherry would probably be very nice. That would create a mushier pud though, which I know is what puts some people off trifle.
Feeling happy and full of fantastic food, we then exchanged gifts and Jay and I played with one of my presents* from Jac – Wii Music! I know hardcore gamers are quite critical of this game, but I think it’s great fun. Trying out all the different instruments is cool (the dog suit and when you’ve unlocked it, cat suit, are disturbing, but the castanets are cute – you get to hear your mii voice shouting “ole!”), and conducting the orchestra is a scream (especially if you’re Jac and slow things right down to a stop – the response of the orchestra members is hilarious). The virtual drum kit that incorporates the Wii balance board is excellent! Unfortunately, Juji and Jay couldn’t stay very late, as we all had an early start the next morning with breakfast at my parents’ house; Juji was head organiser for the event. :)
As we enjoyed our dinner, two very delectable chunks of meat were cooling in the kitchen – the Inghams turkey thigh roast and turkey breast roast, for Christmas lunch the next day with Jac’s family. They take a couple of hours to cook, and since we wouldn’t have time on Christmas morning, the plan was to cook them on Christmas eve and then reheat them the next day. Jac had cooked them in the oven earlier that afternoon, and since coming home from work I had been tortured by the mouthwatering smell, knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat them for hours to come. :) The darker roast on the left is the turkey thigh. The instructions on the box tell you to baste the turkey roasts with oil which will help brown them, but Jac drained off the drippings to use as a baste instead. There’s more than enough fat content in the drippings to help brown the meat, and of course, there’s a lot of flavour in the drippings too.
The turkey thigh roast is my favourite – I love the dark meat, it’s just so tender and full of flavour. It’s quite fatty, which of course is what makes it so tasty! I couldn’t wait to eat this the next day. I was drooling with anticipation with each photo I took. When the roasts had cooled down completely, we simply covered them with silver foil and popped them onto a specially cleared shelf in the fridge overnight, still sitting on their rack on the oven tray.
*I’ll be writing more about some of my/our gifts later too – the food and cooking-related ones, of course!