Sunday, May 20, 2007

His Mum's Day

What do you call someone who cooks lunch for the boy friend's mum on Mother's Day but not for her own Mum?
A traitor?
Nooooooo........!!! But.. but.. me mum said not to bother coming home that day coz.. coz.. she wasn't doing anything....
That's the 64 million dollar question that's been on my mind the whole week. I saw mum on the Thursday before Mother's Day and asked if we were celebrating on sunday. She replied no and that she doesn't mind if I come home next weekend instead.

Now my mum is a very simple woman. She cares not for all the Valentine Day's, Mother's Day and what not days that the retail world seems to make a hoo-hah out of. So when she says she doesn't care, she usually means it. But I can't seem to get rid of this guilt that has been haunting me this whole week. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I (for some stupid reason) offered to cook lunch for Mother's Day for Alv's mum.

My colleague Jules teased me when I told her that I was cooking Mother's Day lunch for Alv's mum. She said.. "you mean your mother-in-law" to which I replied.. "NOT YET she isn't!"

To be honest, I've never ever cooked my own mum lunch or dinner. It's mainly because I moved out of home when I got my first "real" job and haven't been back since.. and that was years before I started being so interested in cooking and baking. My brother was the one who was gung-ho into cooking since he was young. My mum was priming him for work in the kitchen, until he turned his back on her and decided he wasn't interested in the hard slog. Lazy arse!

I've tried making up for it by bringing home some cakes and bikkies that I've baked on the odd occasions or when we have family dinners with my cousins and aunts... heck I even made her a really awesome birthday cake last year. But I guess it's kinda not the same, especially on a day like Mother's Day when you're suppose to be celebrating your own mum's day, not someone elses. Hmph...

Anyway, for "His Mum, His Sister-in-Law and His Aunt's Day", we had 8 big people and 1 little person over for lunch. The Menu for the Day was:
Tomato and Goat's Cheese Tart
Cajun chicken and Pear salad w/ Raspberry Balsamic dressing
Green beans and Sweet Corn Salad
Greek Salad
Marinated Mushroom salad


Mixed Fruit Pavlova
Green Tea Sponge Cake (from Cake World)

The great thing about offering to cook lunch is.. I get to decide (selfishly) what sort of new recipes to try. *evil laugh*

Mother's Day Lunch

New recipe No 1.
I've been dying to try Tamasin Day-Lewis's Tomato and Goat's Cheese tart since I saw it in the Accidental Foodie and just never found an occasion for it. Not to mention that I needed enough people to help me finish it since Alv is not a big fan of cooked tomatoes or goat's cheese for that matter. This was 1 of the 2 things that caused me the greatest grief that day since a) I stupidly decided to make the shortcrust pastry myself (ie. without using my trusted food processor) and b) I had to settle for goat's cheese chevre (I used Milawa) when I should've been using goat's camembert. I couldn't find any at the delis The Glen nor Macro and it wasn't my Prahran Market day so I wasn't able to get any.

I haven't had much luck with making shortcrust pastry these days and that day was no exception. Let's just say I spent hours on trying to make the pastry and ended up with a crumbly mess (see above photo for crumbs). It was edible but a mess...Note to self: STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW BEST.

Apart from the mess I made, the rest was simple. Finely chop up some herbs (rosemary,thyme, oregano or sage) and 1 clove of garlic. Mix it in with 1/4cup of extra virgin olive oil (plus some salt and pepper) to create a sort of herb infused oil mix. Leave it over night to infuse. The next day, make your favourite shortcurst pastry (Tamasin suggests substituting the water component for some good olive oil.. this is where things went bad for me!). Slice up your tomatoes (about 6 small sized tomatoes) and goats camembert (about 4 x 125g blocks). Roll out your pastry into a tart pan and arrange layers of tomatoes and goat's cheese onto the tart. Brush with herb infused oil and bake in a 120deg oven for about 1.5hrs. Before you serve the tart, brush it again with the herb oil and serve with your favourite salad (in this case.. salads..)

Tomatoes & Goats Cheese Tart

New recipe No 2.
Bill Granger's Green Beans and Sweet Corn Salad from Everyday.

This has got to be my favourite salad of the day. One that I ate the most! It's the easy to prepare, simply heat up equal amounts of butter and olive oil (1 tbsp or so), toss in some spring onions (x 3, thinly sliced) and cook until it's soft. Add 1 clove of garlic (crushed) and stir, add corn into the pan and mix well with the spring onion and garlic mix. Finally, add in the chicken stock (125ml), toss in the beans and then cover the pan and let it cook for about 5 mins or until the beans are cooked. Season with salt and pepper before serving. It tastes absolutely delicious.

The cajun chicken, greek salad and mushroom salads were the only oldies on the menu. The Cajun chicken salad was one that I made two christmases ago. The idea with the pear and balsamic dressing came from my old housemate who had something similar at a close by cafe. The only twist this time round was rasberry balsamic vinegar instead of the usual balsamic vinegar. Mainly because Claire 'borrowed' my bottle of BV and never returned it.

The mushroom salad was simple sliced mushrooms marinated with some extra virgin olive oil, dash of white wine vinegar, 1 clove of garlic, chopped parsley and seasoned with salt and pepper. Pour it onto the sliced mushrooms and let it marinade for about 15mins before serving. The mushrooms just soaks up all the marinade, it's fabulous. And the greek salad. Well.. it's kinda obvious isn't it?

Mother's Day Salads
clockwise from Left to Right. 1. Greenbeans and corn salad, 2. Cajun Chicken and Pear Salad, 3. Marinated Mushroom Salad, 4. Greek Salad.

And the pavlova? Well, it's one of Bill's. Also from Everyday, it's a pav with yoghurt cream. Here's where disaster no 2. happened. Guess what I did/didn't do??? The biggest "NO NO" in making pavlova and meringues. I forgot to let the pavlova cool in the oven! Derr...!!

Did I hear you say "O.M.G. How could you not have known that..??"

Truth is, I knew but I forgot. And everyone was rushing me for dessert. I had left the pav to cook whilst we ate lunch and when lunch was done everyone was raving on about dessert. In the midst of the rush, I took it out and then forgot about it until I got all the fruits out and was about to slather on the yoghurt cream.. and saw the pav cracking .. Lets just say there were some bits of gentle (gentle because I was muttering under my breath) obscenities flying around for a while. In the end, I caved and served it cracked and all. Hah.. it all got eaten up amidst the complaints that it was too sweet.. hmph.. (I'm sure if you look carefully on the bottom left corner you can see some of the cracks I was talking about)



6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp arrow root
2 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 180deg.

Whip egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Then add in the caster sugar 1 tbsp at a time while beating until the meringue is thick and glossy. Stir in cornflour, arrow root and vinegar and pile meringue onto a lined baking tray*.

Place pavlova in the oven and turn temperature down to 120deg. Bake pavlova for about 120minutes until the outside is firm but not browned. Turn oven off and leave pavlova inside to cool.

For the yoghurt cream, whip 250ml of cream and fold in 125ml of natural yoghurt.

Spoon yoghurt cream over the pav and top with your favourite fruits.

*Bill suggests drawing a circle on the baking tray for convinience.

Green Tea cake

Mother's Day cake courtesy of Auntie H.