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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tapas, Sangria and Girls!

It was so much fun to have my home filled with gals, chatting and noshing away.  I had 17 ladies including myself and I made seven savoury tapas and then had some sweets to finish it off.  One of my favorite things about getting ready for tablenosh is the grocery shopping...I know a lot of people really don't like this, but I love it.  Going to the different shops for different things, ticking off my list as I go along and looking at all the different food there is that I could be making.  I am really beginning to see the value in making sure I get just the right ingredients of good quality.  The only bad part about shopping this time was me forgetting my groceries at one of the shops...filled with some of my finest purchases!  Note for next time, make sure I actually put the bag in the shopping cart!
I am having a lot of fun with this tablenosh stuff, last night truly was a highlight having our home filled and there was lots of good cooking action.  Most of the tapas I was making needed to be served warm, so I was keeping very busy.  Fortunately my wonderful friend Christine was my sidekick for the night and helped serve things and host while I stayed busy in front of the stove. 

The menu: Vegetarian Empanadas (filled with spinach, roasted peppers, mushroom & gruyere), Crostini with a Spinach & Chickpea sautee, Pan fried Chorizo, Spanish Meatballs, Garlic Prawns, Pinchitos Morunos (spicy spanish kebabs) and pan fried squid.  I will have to let the guests tell you which were the favorites...hopefully they will leave some comments!

As for the sweets I made a very interesting spanish cheesecake known as Flaó, it was basically a mint and lemon cheesecake with an aniseed crust.  You ground the mint leaves with lemon zest and sugar and then blended in the cream cheese and eggs.  The other dessert were bite sized cakes called 'Magdalenas', they are small sweet cakes that are rich-tasting, but light and fluffy. The Spanish traditionally eat them at breakfast with café con leche, and they are said to have originated in Aragón.  Along with those I served some fresh strawberries and chocolate.

Oh and I almost forgot...the SANGRIA!  I made both red sangria and white sangria, both I found yummy and refreshing.  Such a beautiful looking drink, I primarily used oranges, lemons and limes as the fruit but you can use all sorts of different fruit to saturate the wine.  I let me soak overnight and then at the last minute added sparkling lemonade to make it fizzy.  I would definitely make this again for a party....maybe that means I should make it next weekend for my 4th of July party...

As for the next Tablenosh dinner, it will be on July 24th and the theme is 'Christmas in July'!  A delicious hearty American style Christmas meal...does it get any better than this...a real treat for you aussie's...pumpkin pie and more!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Cheeky Spanish Cooking Class

Today I went to my first cooking class!  It was put on by the 'cheeky food group' in Surry Hills and was a Spanish Tapas and Paella class.  It was great!  I picked up some very helpful new tips, realized there is a LOT that I do not know and I tasted EVERYTHING we made (very impressive considering this included, chorizo, meatballs, musells, octupus, squid and a few other things.)

I am very excited about the new chorizo tapas recipe, the scrumptous pork meatballs and the paella.  I am not so excited about retraining myself to use a knife while chopping, but I am sure it will be helpful in the long run.

I also met some really fun people and at the end of the class made a little announcement about who knows maybe a few will come and check it out!

Another 'noshing' night

Another busy day in my kitchen as I prepared for tablenosh.  Thank goodness for Chelsea who came over to help and be my 'sous' chef.  We had lots of fun prepping and cooking together and of course tasting the food.  I realized I should probably taste most things before I serve them.  I think our favorite may have been the Creamy Roasted Garlic and Parnsip soup...oh my goodness it was so good (definitely reccomend this recipe). 
The menu for the evening was my own vision and consisted of:

Aperitif: Champagne Cocktail
Appetizer:  Onion Foccacia served with fresh basil pesto and labna (a creamy yogurt cheese)
Entree:  Creamy Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Soup
Main:  Dukkah Crusted Salmon w/ cous cous salad, green beans and a lemon garlic yogurt dressing
Dessert Trio:  Chocolate Creme Brulee, Brandy Snaps w/Raspberry Cream and Strawberry Mint Compote
Tea and Coffee
I was also very pleased with the main, as it was my first time cooking salmon and I think the dukkah worked really well.  And I might add the chocolate creme brulee was also pretty good...extremely rich but good.

Overall I certainly enjoyed the night and hope the guests did too!  It looks like next Saturday Tablenosh 'girls' is all booked I just have to figure how to rearrange the house so everyone can fit!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

open to the public

I just wanted to make it clear that Tablenosh is open to anyone! You do not need to be invited by me or anyone else, but you do need to book in because seating is limited. 

The way it works is, I post the dates under 'tablenosh events' and then you email me requesting a seat and how many people are in your party.  That's all, if I have space then you are booked into come. 

At this stage there is no set cost for tablenosh, but a donation to help cover the food cost is suggested (you can leave this in the tablenosh jar when you come).

Easy as making a mango tart...hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

fish for friday?

Tablenosh number 3 is on Friday and my imagination is spinning as I try to envision what to serve...I think I will do fish.  I have not really cooked fish all that much and usually just make up the recipe, so this time I am trying to really educate myself with some ideas.  I really want to try some type of crusted fish (maybe herb or dukkah crusted) and am thinking I will serve it over an orzo salad.  I just came across a recipe for an oro, cherry tomato and baby spinach salad that sounds nice, so maybe that with some type of salsa or sauce on top? 

My friend Chelsea coming to help me in the kitchen this week ( my sous chef), which will be great because Pete will be at work and unavailable to help me with things.  Hopefully I will be a good teacher and pleasant to work with in the kitchen.  I am trying to dream up some scrumptious dessert ideas, maybe I will finally make an attempt at chocolate creme brulee or a chocolate souffle?  I do not really have a cuisine theme for the evening so it is nice an thinking foccacia and dips for starter, creamy parsnip & leek soup for entre and fish for main, followed by some yummy dessert.  There are just too many options out there. 

Really I just hope the guests will enjoy the food and the company,  I am still waiting for this 'in-home' concept to take off...the 'girls night' is filling up so that is encouraging!


and the cooking continued.  kayla and i made eggs benedict served over fresh buttermilk biscuits.  she said it all tasted good, i don't actually like runny eggs or hollandaise sauce.  but the biscuits were good!

Monday, June 14, 2010

candles, cooking and kayla

my eleven year old niece, kayla, came to stay with us for the weekend so we got up to a little candle lighting and cooking action.  i nearly burned the house down on friday and we are still recovering from the smell of smoke, this is why we needed candles to help with the smell (kayla seems to have a candle lighting obsession so she was in charge of that).   

we came up with the idea that dinner would have a taste of a few different cultures, so we had corn chips with sour cream & sweet chilli as an appetizer.  then we made our very own sushi rolls as the entre.  this is a bit of a process but was fun and interactive.  first we had to make the sushi rice and cut up all the things we wanted to go in the sushi.  we had avacado, cucumber, chicken, carrot and capsicum.  then we all sat down and went to work.  kayla decided she would put wasabi in her sushi roll, so she did not have to put it on afterwards, the funny part was she put a little too much...needless to say her mouth was very hot!  she did a good job eating it anyway.

the main was a bit of australian culture a new recipe from Bill Granger, chicken and leek pies.  first you lightly toss the chicken in a bit or cayenne pepper, white pepper and flour.  then you fry it in oil until enclosed on both sides.  then remove the chicken from the pan and add leeks and garlic, sautee that for a few minuted add some white wine, chicken broth and cream.  next comes the peas and then put the chicken back in, i also added some extra flour to thicken the sauce.  we dumped it all into little ramekins and put a pastry cover on top, making sure to brush it with egg yolk so it would look nice and shiny.  they were delicious and i will definitely make these again!

by the time dessert came around i was losing at our epic game of monopoly and we were also all pretty full!  so although we had originally had lots of good ideas, we ended up having good old vanilla icecream with a homemade chocolate mint sauce.  nice and refreshing....the sad part was i went bankrupt just after i served it :(  it looks like kayla is going to win this time around, she is slowly destroying pete! 

what a lovely weekend it has been....just contemplating if we should make some buttermilk scones for breakfast???

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

slow going

It's true I have not exactly been plugging away at this is truly slow going and so is 'tablenosh'.  I did do a couple new recipes over the weekend.  One was a chicken tagine and the other was a lentil veggie soup.  Nothing too special but nonetheless I did use a recipe from Bill Granger.  The tagine I dropped off for a friend, but we did have some of the soup and it was lovely.  I think Pete's favorite part was garlic parmesan toast I made to go with it, at least he makes it easy for me!

Tablenosh 'girls night' is filling up...I am thinking I will make the cut-off about 14pp.  So far I am at about eight.  I am looking foward to the cooking class and hopefully learning some new skills.  I am not sure if the winter weather is doing much for my cooking and go figure the chickens have stopped laying!  And I need to pick the rest of my herbs before they all die, I think I am gonna attempt making coriander pesto and freezing it and some basil pesto too.  Yum, how good is pesto!

Okay just wanted to write a little something so I still feel like I am going somewhere.  Hopefully will have some new recipes up soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tablenosh Happenings

The next two tablenosh events are on the calendar, to book in for one of these dinners simply email me at (space is limited so book in early):

Friday, June 18th
(cuisine to be confirmed)

Saturday, June 26th
'Tablenosh Girls'
(A tapas and sangria girls night, so ladies find a friend to bring and book your seat now, this is gonnna be fun!)