With so many blogs it is almost impossible to know them all. I didn't know Sher at What Did You Eat until this week when news of her passing dominated Twitter and other blogs. She knew my blog and even said nice things about me. I'm sad I didn't get to thank her for her kind words. I'm pleased to be able to participate in this tribute to Sher organised by her food blogging friends with a link to Sher's family provided by Glenna at A Fridge Full Of Food.
I chose a pasta recipe Sher posted on 17th July 2007. I love this passage from the post.
I want a dish that's easy to prepare, with as little cooking required
as possible, but the taste shouldn't be compromised in a quest for
simplicity. And I want to use some of the tomatoes that are piling up
from my garden. Otherwise, I'll use them for one tomato sandwich after
another, winding up face down in a gutter with tomatoes, bread, and a
mayonnaise jar clutched in my hands. I'm in a 12 Step Program for
Tomato Sandwich Addicts, so I know of from where I speak.
I can see Sher had a great sense of humour and I agree with her sentiments - "we should not compromise taste for simplicity".
I have altered the recipe by using grape tomatoes and parsley. Here is Sher's original recipe she adapted from a Marcella Hazan recipe.
1 pound of spaghettini, (thin spaghetti)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic finely chopped red chili pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 pound very fresh plum tomatoes (or substitute other variety)
a small handful fresh sweet basil leaves
1. Cook the pasta in well salted boiling water. As it does so, core
and skin the tomatoes, using a blade peeler--or hold them over a flame
briefly until the skin blisters and it can be peeled off. It might be
difficult to use the blade peeler if you aren't using plum tomatoes.
(Regular tomatoes have thinner skins, using the burner or blanching
them for about 20 seconds in boiling water might be better.) After
removing the skins, cut in half and seed and juice them, then cut in small dice.
2. Put the olive oil, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, the tomatoes, hot
pepper (if using it) and garlic into a large bowl. When the pasta is
cooked, drain well and add to the bowl. Add the basil, torn in smaller
pieces if the leaves are big. Toss the pasta well, adding more salt
and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
After the two weeks of birthday celebrations I wanted a Tiramisu that was a little lighter in calories. This recipe is for two people. If I share with Bryan I can't eat one today and none tomorrow.
There is no set recipe. I used 1/4 cup mascarpone mixed with 1 tablespoon icing sugar, 2 sponge fingers, 1 orange and dry marsala. You could replace the fruit with strawberries and a favourite liqueur.
Peel and segment an orange.
Mix icing sugar and mascarpone.
Pour your favourite liqueur into tiny glasses
Eat how you like - maybe a bite of liqueur soaked sponge finger , then a little mascarpone and orange, more sponge finger...a sip of liqueur.
This was so delicious and so easy to make I'll be making it again.
The best meals are often the most simple. We used two different methods to cook the prawns. The ones with shells on were barbecued.
Barbeque green prawns.Top a slice of bread with a lettuce leaf dipped in seafood sauce.Top with shelled prawns.Add another slice of bread. Eat.
Follow up with a glass of pinot gris.
Shell green prawns and remove digestive tract. Saute in butter and garlic with a dash of white wine thrown in at the end to create a sauce for dipping bread in. Drink more pinot gris.
We enjoyed lots of foodie experiences over the 10 days of celebrations. Here are a few of them. Seriously good hotcakes for Sunday breakfast at the Surf Club.
Breakfast at home in the sunshine. Clafouti is so easy to make.
Beach picnic at Byron Bay.
Late night pizza at home.
Thai take aways at home when we too tired to go out.
Of course everyone was in town for the big birthday party.
The Main Event - The Party.
Set the scene with candles
Invite some friends and open the champagne.
Presents for the birthday boy.
Hire taxis to take everyone to the restaurant where the room is decorated with tea lights and a sea of yellow daffodils in blue bottles.
Provide place names so everyone sits where they are told. We used CD's of some favourite music.
After the main and before the dessert came the official speeches.
The funny one from Michael.
The more serious one from Chris.
Then the toast. Believe it or not I'm drinking water. I didn't drink any alcohol until dessert. Someone had to stay in control.
I had some help on choosing the wines to accompany the meal from my favourite winosapien.
He made some excellent choices for us. The big hit of the night was the Seppelts DP33 Muscat which was served with the desserts. Other favourites were De Bortolli Shiraz Viognier, Sandalford Verdelho, Mt Langi Ghiran Billi Billi 2005, Thorn Clark Shotfire Quartage.
The weather was fabulous. There were a lot of walks on the beach.
and drawing in the sand.
And indoor events. Boys and their toys
- playing games and checking emails.
Girls having fun without boys
- doing a jigsaw puzzle.
And finally after 10 days I think we've eaten enough, drunk enough and crammed a lot of living and laughter into the time with our family and friends.
Thank you to everone who sent birthday wishes here and at Twitter and Facebook. I apologise if I didn't send a personal thank you.
Bryan and I almost share our birthdays. His is the 15th and mine is the 16th. As from the 15th July 2008 his age will end in a zero. Once you get past 21 any birthday with a zero means a party. My age will not contain a zero for another couple of years. We may need that time to recover from the next two weeks.
We have friends and family flying in from France, New Zealand and Lindeman Island. All on different days, different airports and different times.
Bryan and I kick off the celebrations with a dinner on Monday 7th at Restaurant Two in Brisbane. We need to be at Brisbane airport by 7AM on Tuesday morning to meet the crew from France. I t seemed a good idea to stay in Brisbane, rather than get up really early and drive up from the coast. The 7th just happened to be the Vogue E & T 2008 Champagne dinner. Nice coincidence don't you think.
Everyday that week someone will arrive and by Friday everyone will be here and the partying proper begins.And by the 18th of the following week they will have all gone home.
The main event will be held at Bumbles restaurant on the Saturday night. They don't open in the evenings so we will have the restaurant to ourselves, with Kate cooking exclusively for us. The menu has been chosen and guests will have a choice for their entree and dessert. For the main we decided to have a selection of dishes on the table and everyone helps themselves...as you would at home.
Some days are planned and some days we will wing it and go with the mood. I won't be blogging for a couple of weeks although I'll be dropping into Twitter so I don't miss everyone.
I found local vanilla beans. Earlier this year when we spent a weeks holiday in Port Douglas I saw big bunches of locally grown vanilla beans in the fruit shop. The heaviest rains in 70 years prevented me from getting through the flooded streets to buy some on my last day. A bit of googling when I arrived home and I found the grower....and they sell online. So I placed my order and I now have two big bundles of vanilla beans in my pantry. After placing a bean in all my sugars, vanilla flavoured olive oil was first on my to do list. It is made and sitting in a cool spot waiting to be used. I have no idea what I will use it for. I like Garrett's vanilla olive oil ice cream. Anyone have any suggestions?
UPDATE 17th July 08
Since writing this post I've been told the vanilla beans from Vanilla Plantations of Australia are actually imported from Papau New Guinea. I'm attempting to confirm the origin with the owners of the site but it isn't proving easy. I apologise to anyone who bought the beans under the impression they were locally grown in Australia. Australian grown vanilla beans can be purchased from Daintree Vanilla and Spice.