Sea mist, happy memories and Porcini's

Monday, April 21, 2014

We are sometimes greeted with a sea mist of a morning as it rolls over the Pittwater and when it does it's spectacular.  We watch it as it envelopes Scotland Island and wait for the morning sun to pierce through as it recedes as the temperature warms up.  Our usual weekend swims turn to walks along the beach with the promise of a warm nourishing breakfast afterwards. 

I often find myself drifting back to past experiences when I'm looking for inspiration to know what to cook sometimes.  Certain times of the year or the weather can trigger a wonderful memory or flavour.  

We had had a wonderful holiday one Autumn staying just outside the lovely town of San Gimignano in Tuscany.  On our arrival we had passed some of the local village folk early in the morning mushroom picking.  They were dressed beautifully in their country attire, cane baskets and walking sticks in hand.  I didn't want to bother with the usual sightseeing, I just wanted to leap out of the car and join them.  

The following morning, with the morning fog deep in  the valley and the sun just peeping through, I set off to do some mushroom picking of my own.  I will never forget the joy of finding fresh porcini mushrooms in the forest,  it was such a treat as I had never had a fresh one before.  The owners of the auberge, where we were staying, kindly cooked them for us that evening it was so special.

One morning recently we awoke to a foggy morning and my thoughts went immediately back to that morning in San Gimignano and the wonderful flavour of the porcini mushroom.  Despite the lack of forest to forage in and the fact that they don't grow here in Australia, I wasn't to be deterred.  Fortunately we can purchase dried porcini.  Frankly I find them more fragrant than the fresh ones and once rehydrated, work so well in omelettes.  They didn't disappoint, even as I removed the lid from the jar they were stored in, the aroma was intoxicating.  

Porcini omelette

3 organic eggs
knob of butter, ghee or coconut oil
dash of water
small handful of fresh parsley and basil
1 clove of garlic
a handful of dried porcini mushrooms 
boiling water
grana padano parmesan cheese

Place your porcini mushrooms in a heatproof bowl or jug and cover with boiling water and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.  You should allow 15-20 minutes for them to fully hydrate, then drain and reserve the liquor to add to soups or stocks for another dish.  Peel and thinly slice the garlic and fry lightly in butter together with the drained hydrated porcini and a pinch of salt, then set aside.  This should be enough for 2 or 3 omelettes depending upon how generous you wish to be.

Crack three eggs in bowl add a dash of water and whisk until light and frothy.

Heat the butter in a small frying pan until sizzling but make sure you don't burn the butter.  Pour in the eggs and using a spatula move the egg mixture from side to side gently allowing the eggs to cook.  Reduce the heat to low and add the porcini and garlic, then add chopped parsley and basil on top and then grate a generous quantity of grana padano parmesan cheese.  Fold in half and serve immediately with a further grating of cheese ... enjoy!

sardines and morning swims

Saturday, April 5, 2014

When autumn refuses to accept that it isn't summer and crisp days refuse to appear as the leaves start to change colour, an indian summer is upon us.  On the northern beaches of Sydney we are lucky enough to enjoy this kind of weather more often than not.  This year though appears to have been hotter and more humid than ever.

The frangipanis and hibiscus are still in flower along with the last of the gardenias and ginger.  They fill the warm afternoon air with their perfume, there is a false sense of the cooler weather approaching.

As the crowds disappear, the beaches become our own again.  The locals who have stayed away through the busy summer season are back and the rhythm of life continues again as normal.

Saturday morning and we head to the beach early to have a walk and a swim.  We arrive in time to see the sunrise over the ocean, a special part of the day and not to be missed.  We linger, longer than we intended and find that we have missed breakfast so, salty from swimming and hungry, we choose a home cooked brunch over the lovely cafes, which at this time of day are a little too busy.

Sardines are one of our weekend treats.  Fond memories of my childhood are responsible for this tradition.  My father would make breakfast on the weekends and it was always something warm and nourishing.  Sardines on toast with lots of black pepper and a spritz of lemon is a recurrent memory.  Fresh sardines were not easy to find in New Zealand, so the tinned variety was used instead.  Living in Sydney, they are more readily available.  I rather enjoy the fresh slightly smoked ones, they have a lovely flavour and are filleted ready to go.

Samphire is a succulent and is also known as sea asparagus with a slightly salty flavour and is a perfect accompaniment with fish. It's best eaten in the summer when the leaves are bright green.  If you are buying frozen sardines make sure that they are butterflied.  I made the mistake of buying them whole and, as they are so fragile, they fall apart once handled, never again.

Sardines + Samphire

sardines whole or butterflied 3-4 per person
1 large knob butter
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
500 grams samphire
1 lemon

Prepare the samphire by washing it thoroughly in cold water and checking carefully for any roots or woody pieces.  In a large pan bring fresh water to the boil then add a teaspoon of salt and add the samphire and cook for three to four minutes.  Remove from the heat and drain immediately returning the samphire to the pan, add a big knob of butter and ground pepper and toss so the butter and pepper coats the samphire.  Place on a serving platter.

Place scaled and gutted whole or butterflied sardines on a baking paper lined baking tray.  Sprinkle with salt, paprika and little knobs of butter.  Place under a hot grill for five to six minutes then turn your whole fish over and continue for a further four to five minutes or until golden and crispy. If you have chosen butterflied sardines they will only need to be cooked on one side and for only five to six minutes or until golden and crispy.  Remove immediately from under the grill and place on the bed of samphire and serve immediately with lemon or lime wedges on the side.

This is a perfect recipe for those, like myself, who follow a paleo or beyond paleo lifestyle, enjoy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Pop in for tea All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger