It had been far too long since I got together with some of my favourite gals – Maree and Lisa – for a gathering of our cooking club, J’dore Cuisiner. We hadn’t managed to get together since our Thanksgiving cook-up in late November. Wow time just goes so quick. But here we were, Saturday morning in late April at 11.30am all ready to hit the shops. We’d sent around a few emails with ideas, but our first challenge was to finalise the menu and write out all the ingredients we would need…and it was a long list given our ambitious menu.
We decided we would start with 7 tapas style startes:
- Chorizo and Kalamata Olives
- Spanish Pizza
- Jamon Potatos
- Prawn Fritters
- Veal Meatballs
- Salt and Pepper Calamari
- Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme
Then for mains:
- Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- Slow Cooked Rabbit with Root Vegetables
And finally dessert we were going to try our hand at Churros with a few different dipping sauces. So we had a big challenge to get this all prepared as much as we could before dinner time which was scheduled for 7pm.
So our first stop was Mondos to pick up the rabbit. I had been to Mondos once before, but never really had an opportunity to have a good look around. What a completely amazing place! Every animal you’d ever want to cook! I had to push past the crocodile fillets to get to the rabbits. They even cut them into pieces for us. We also needed jamon fat for the potato dish that we were cooking, but they didn’t have any of that, so we decided to use pork jouel (cheek) instead. Would work just as well we figured.
From there we headed to Eighth Avenue in Maylands firstly to visit the Indian Supermarket to find some chickpea flour…. we ended up with 2kg bag, despite only needing like 2 tablespoons. Good to be prepared I suppose :) And from there we walked to the corner where the fruit and vegie shop is to stock up on all our requirements there – a potato, some brown onions, carrots, parsnips, etc. Then from there it was a quick drive to Mirrabooka Square to get the seafood we needed – prawns and a few squid tubes. Then a quick scoot through Coles for our final lot of ingredients and we were headed home. Our only drama was that we couldn’t find pork mince, so we had to settle for a veal and beef blend… which ok isn’t the most dynamic combination but with a good sauce it would work a treat.
Will you look at all these ingredients!! Herbs and spices galore!
My first job was making the fish stock that we needed for the prawn fritters…. cooking up prawns heads wasn’t the most pleasant smelling task, but I got stuck in and got it done.
Will you look at these lovely ladies working hard, prepping it up.
Lisa set up the slow cooker for our rabbit dish…. we sort of made up the recipe. Rubbed the rabbit in a little olive oil and salt and pepper and also a bit of paprika, the Spanish spice of choice it would seem. So we threw the rabbit in the pot with white wine and also some carrots and parsnips and celery. With the lids on, it was set to be a taste sensation in only 6 to 8 hours.
For the potato dish we had to render the pork cheek…. again not the best job, but it least smelt like pork crackle.
It was an epic session of preparation….. Maree set records for garlic cutting – cloves were flying!
And Lisa got to work on the meatballs
We cooked up the meatballs and added a tasty tomato sauce that Maree that whipped up.
Lisa then went to work on the Spanish pizza – plenty of dough resting and it was good times having the Kitchenaid mixer and its dough hook.
The calamari was as easy as throwing a little flour and salt and pepper into a bowl, slicing the squid tubes into rings and mixing it through so the rings were coated.
So with the majority of things sorted for the tapas – we turned out attention to the drinks. Being a Spanish night we had to have Sangria! A few bottles of cheap merlot, a splash of orange juice and a little triple sec, mixed together with some slices of fresh oranges and it was quite the tasty (and dangerous) beverage :)
Also back in the day, GG and I had won this double magnum of red so we thought being a special occasion we’d give it a run. Not a bad drop, which was good given its 2001 date stamp. It was an impressive looking bottle and it took some careful pouring to get it into decanter.
So our guests soon arrived around 7 as instructed, so we fried up the chorizo and squeezed on a little lemon juice and there was our first offering, along with the olives.
The one other dish we prepared was a tomato salad, ‘Ensalada de Tomate’ - truss ripened with some spanish onion, a little oregano, olive oil and salt – tasty!
Hats off to Lisa and Maree on some incredibly tasty meatballs and sauce – loved them! Hard not to have more than a few…. but knew there was a lot of food ahead!
Then it was time for a slice of the Spanish Pizza, ‘Coca de Recapte’ (Catalan Flatbread) - light and crispy base with tasty toppings – another of my favourites!
This was also when we had the potatos but I ate them so quickly I didn’t have time to take a photos. Entirely delicious, soft and a little mashed and topped with crispy pancetta. Perfect with the spuds were a few of the mushrooms – one of the more delightfully easy dishes – sauted in a little butter with garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper – ‘Setas a la Plancha’. Given our meat heavy menu we figured it was wise to include a few vegetable dishes.
And seafood also seemed in fitting with our Spanish theme so the calamari was fried up and I was pretty happy with how it turned out, given that my first effort in cooking squid was a very chewy affair! The other seafood dish we had were prawn fritters – ‘Tortillas de Camarones’….. quite an involved recipe that ended up in tasty fritters made from prawns, fresh herbs (parsley, chives and coriander) with egg and chickpea flour. They were fairly light in taste, but with a little of the tomato sauce from the meatballs – worked a treat. Always good to mix and match.
By the end of all these tapas everyone was rubbing their bellies and honestly wondering where they were going to fit more food! I was definitely concerned. But the challenge had been extended and we were going to see this menu through! So Maree headed outside with her passive paella pan and set it up on the bbq top. She’s done it before so she knew what she was doing. It took a little time, but it was oh so delicious!!
So there we were with our giant pan of paella (which we had tried to reduce the recipe size of) and also a giant dish of slow cooked rabbit.
As mentioned I was already fairly full, but it all looked and smelt so delicious I just couldn’t help but pile it up on my plate…. I didn’t really know where I was going to fit it but can’t say no to food!
What a night it had been! It was close to 11ish when we started working on dessert… I was almost ready to say no we don’t need it. But I was really glad we didn’t! Super easy recipe, thanks to taste – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/2469/churros+con+chocolate and so tasty with the Baileys dark chocolate and also vanilla custard dipping sauces. The only change we made was to coat the churros in sugar and cinnamon instead of icing sugar. Sure cooking with hot oil that late isn’t my favourite thing, but to have a homemade version of this tasty treat – worth it!!
It was an epic day and night – Lisa and Maree are incredibly skilled ladies. We cooked up the biggest feast in our club’s humble history. And despite the fact we all had a total ball and ate plenty we decided that at our next outting (expected to be Modern Australian themed) that we would scale back the menu – make it a little bit more chilled.
Cooking is a joy – good food, good company – a delight!
PS: If you fancy any of the recipes just shoot me an email.