July is a big birthday month for the blended ‘Croftswald’ family, with 4 of our 5 children having birthdays on the 15th and 16th. Unfortunately, as we are spread across three States, Sarah in W.A, Luke and Rachel in Victoria and Josh and Bella in N.S.W, we are unable to celebrate together, but none the less we keep connected and lots of love and good wishes are liberally shared via social media & phone. This year we have the added excitement of our middle daughter, Bella, turning 21, so not only a family dinner celebration with the Grandparents for eldest son Josh & Bella, but also a themed 21st Birthday Party.
We always start any family celebration with an antipasto platter. The French favourite chesses were all there – the tangy blue, St Argur, the double cream soft cow’s milk D’affinois and the nutty delicious Comte, as well as a Tasmanian double brie. Also on the plate were some mixed olives, quince paste and some pan fried air dried chorizo….I love the red pepper oil which is rendered from a quick pan fry of these tasty little morsels. I made some tasty cheese sables which went down very well…recipe below.
For the family dinner we started with Pissaladiere and a lightly dressed green salad which was followed by beef and/or fish as well as homemade egg fettuccine topped by a simple pesto sauce, creamy potato puree and steamed green beans which were finished off in a hot pan in butter with crispy lardons of prosciutto
For the beef dish I made Boeuf Bourguignon using as a base a Serge Danserau recipe for Burgundy Style Beef, altering it by marinating beef cheeks in red wine, sliced onion, eschalots, garlic and herbs overnight. When ready to cook, I removed the beef from the wine, dried it with paper towel, using the reserved wine and herbs as per the standard recipe.
Adding back the reserved wine and herbs before cooking down
The fish dish was steamed salmon cooked in paper with fresh ginger, garlic, spring onion, soy sauce, mirin and a dash of sesame oil. It is such an easy and tasty dish and a great standby to serve with salad and either rice or a variety of potato sides.
A large chocolate cake with shiny ganache icing served as both birthday cake and desert, served with homemade vanilla bean and coffee ice cream.
The following weekend, Aron and I hosted an early family dinner at Bills 2 on Crown St Surry Hills ahead of the Tarantino Themed Party at Mr Fox Lounge, also on Crown Street. The food was extremely good and the service friendly and helpful.
We started with a few small plates to share;
Fresh goat’s cheese, tarragon, dill, chilli and grilled flatbreads $13.50
Tempura prawns, red eye mayo $14.50
Fried calamari, green papaya, nuoc cham, herbs, peanuts and crispy shallots $14.50
The mains included;
The evening was off to a good start and we all wandered up Crown St to the ever so cool Mr Fox Lounge dressed in our Tarantino inspired outfits, Pulp Fiction (several Mia Wallace’s and a Butch), Inglorious Bastards (Shosanna) and True Romance (Alabama Whitman & Floyd)…..what a hoot. Bella’s friends all came suitably attired and it was a wonderful night.
As a finale from Kill Bill, the cake came dressed as that infamous ‘car’ made by the exceptional Sam who is ‘The Cake Man’ from Lane Cove
Family, friends and fun!! Thanks go to Aron, Josh, Bella, Sheryl, Rachel, Deb, Mum and Dad for another fantastic food adventure, this one with a Tarantino twist at the end.
Spicy Cheese Sables: Jane Webster (At My French Table)
200g unsalted butter at room temp
200g cheese – can be one cheese or a blend of parmesan and another hard cheese
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (more or less to your taste)
200g plain flour
Squeeze of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 200 degrees ©
Make a ball of dough by pulsing all ingredients in a food processor. Half the dough and roll into 2 lengths.
Lightly flour the surface before cutting the dough into rounds, I cut mine thinner than the recipe called for (which was 2cm)
Bake on a lined baking sheet for 12 – 15 mins. Don’t over crowd, particularly if you cut them thin like I did as they will spread. Allow to cool on a baking rack.
Store in a tin/air tight container lined and topped with baker’s paper. These freeze very well in uncut shape for another occasion.