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Birthday Special: Yum Yum Fer My Hubby’s Tum Tum

Clockwise from left: ‘Rack of roast pork with salsa verde’, ‘Torn mozzarella, prosciutto, pear, basil, mint & sourdough crouton salad’ and ‘Porchini Gnocchi with celeriac, peas, asparagus & baby spinach’

J turns 29 today! Apart from a no-surprise gift which was the second installment of Star Craft 2 (tsk tsk tsk!), I decided to feed him a special meal last night comprising of Italian fare inspired by recipes in the Australia Gourmet Traveller ‘The Italian Cookbook; Collector’s Edition”. I am not sure how I managed to deviate from the initial seafood theme; I wanted to make chef Guy Grossi’s ‘Fettuccine Al Aragosta’  (lobster) and also the ‘Triglie Ripieni Al Cartoccio’ which is stuffed red mullet in baking paper by chef Eugenio Maiale of Sydney’s A Tavola and Omerta, but I got sidetracked by 340 other equally tantalising dishes all depicted in drool-worthy photos. I was especially drawn to the classic ‘Rack of Pork with Salsa Verde and wanted a lovely well-balanced salad to go with it so I picked out the ‘Torn Fig, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Salad’ crowned with toasted shards of sourdough sprinkled with parmesan and fresh basil and mint leaves; I had to replace the figs with pear since figs are not in season at the moment. The salad was really lovely; the softness and creaminess of buffalo mozzarella contrasted by the saltiness of prosciutto, the sweetnes of the pear and then that crunch of the toasted sourdough. For something different from the usual hearty tomatoey goodness of pastas, meatballs and ragù that I love so much, I’ve decided to make ‘Porcini Gnocchi with Salsify, Peas, Asparagus and Baby Spinach’ by chef Tim Bourke when he was at Kangaroo Ialand’s Southern Ocean Lodge. Salsify is a type of root vegetable which resembles parsnip and since I have no idea where to source this or maybe I was just blind at the market, I went with the recommended substitution of celeriac which I love too especially when pureed. The entire dish was flavoured with beurre noisette (burnt butter) sauce where butter is taken to the nut brown stage giving it a hint of caramel nuttiness; it gave the dish a flavour boost although I thought the quantity of butter used was just way too much. 

As for dessert, I initially wanted to make ‘Lattaiolo with figs and lavender honey’ from James Hird and Todd Garratt of Sydney’s Buzo. Lattaiolo is a traditional custard from Tuscany baked in terracotta dishes; the photo in the magazine depicts a custard sprinkled with nutmeg, topped with grappa-marinated prunes, half a fig, drizzled with lavender honey. I just borrowed pictorial inspiration from this dessert but did not use the recipe at all since figs are a no show this time of the year, secondly, I didn’t want to buy lavender honey as I still have a stash of unopened jars of honey in the pantry and thirdly, I didn’t make the custard as per the recipe. I used my chilled two day old nearly-split creme brulee custard which resulted in a slightly grainy texture; it was supposed to be dessert for my sisters when they cooked us dinner last Tuesday. And since it pains me to just discard it in the bin, I decided to turn it into dessert for last night’s dinner (hehe..dear, you married me so you have to eat everything I make..DENG DENG DENG). The custard was dressed with prunes marinated in whisky, and a poached pear and half a strawberry to replace the figs. What we liked about it? Certainly not the grainy custard but the creamy flavour went well with the alcohol-soaked prunes and poached pear. J didn’t quite dig the whisky prunes but I quite enjoyed it.

So apart from a strange dessert, the meal turned out really good and J must have either enjoyed it tremendously or he was completely ravenous after work, for even after almost a year of being married, my jaw dropped when I saw him devouring the rack of pork with such fervour, a rib in one hand while he polishes all the meat off the bone and a parmesan crouton in the other, waiting for its turn to be gobbled up. What a sight! I had fits of laughter snapping away the moment in poor lighting. As I’ve spent the entire afternoon cooking, I didn’t really eat much so sitting across the table and looking at the ‘eating machine’ work in front of me was gratifying enough. We had plenty of leftovers which was the intent so I won’t have to cook for the next two days. We sliced off the leftover roast pork with crackling, tossed it through the salad and I just had it for lunch; it was delicious!

Well to my adorable eating machine, Happy BURP-Day!

Love,

Your Wife

Roast Pork seasoned with crushed fennel seeds, rosemary and salt

Roast Pork served with salsa verde

Porcini Gnocchi with celeriac, asparagus, spinach & peas in  beurre noisette (burnt butter sauce)

Porcini Gnocchi

Pear, Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Herb & Parmesan Sourdough Salad

To Drink: As inspired by Maha Bar & Grill’s House Blend, I concocted a cold Darjeeling tea mixed with pomegranate juice, mint leaves and pinenuts

Dessert: Custard with whisky soaked prunes, poached pear and strawberries

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