Another Saturday afternoon in the kitchen

We were supposed to be going to a 21st birthday party last Saturday night.  However, we are not party animals, unless it is a party involving three or four courses of delicious food, up to six guests and several bottles of wine and San Pellegrino!  Besides, I had been through a tough week of looking after family members, so we chose to stay home.

In lieu of attending the party, Maggie called in mid-morning to catch up with Nicole, a daughter of one of her cousins, admire her party finery, enjoy a chat and giver her a hug and a kiss from both us.  On her way home, Maggie dropped in to our butcher and came out with the pieces of pork belly and Scotch fillet of beef foreshadowed in the previous post, as well as some bacon for the chicken pies we plan to make later in the week.

The beef was set aside for Sunday and the pork was placed flesh-side down in a marinade with Chinese flavourings to be roasted in the Weber on Monday evening.  (Let me know if you would like the recipe for the marinade.)

Meanwhile, we had thawed some pieces of raw Atlantic salmon and some escallops of veal.  The salmon was destined for a pie that would do me for lunch and general grazing over the following days; the veal would be the basis of some veal parmigiana.

Before we prepared these savoury items, we cooked a batch of toasted muesli (or granola, depending on where you live). The recipe for the toasted muesli is nothing special – there are any number of recipes at least as adequate as the dated one I use – so I won’t take up time and space adding it to this post.  I also make a raw muesli, including dried fruit; for breakfast, I combine equal quantities of the two with some milk and, occasionally, some yoghurt.  Yes, I should include the latter more often!

Next it was time to prepare the savoury items.  (In truth, we first took a break to watch some of the highlights of Day 2 of the US Masters at Augusta, accompanied by a glass each of a Chardonnay from Chile.)

Much as fresh Atlantic salmon provides high-value nutrition, it can become a tad boring if you only have one or two ways of preparing it. This recipe began as one for salmon croquettes (rissoles) published many years ago by a Tasmanian salmon producer.  By reducing the quantity of  breadcrumbs by half and adding an extra egg, we converted it into the filling for a very tasty pie made using fillo pastry.

Atlantic salmon pie

Ingredients

20g butter
½ cup chopped spring onions
1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
500g of salmon fillet (no skin or bone), coarsely chopped into ½cm cubes
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley (a small amount of dill could be included)
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
3/4 tsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp Tabasco sauce
zest of a whole lemon or 2 tsp finely chopped rind of preserved lemon
packet of fillo pastry sheets
olive oil

Method

  1. Melt butter in a medium-sized pan, add spring onions and celery and sauté gently for about 8 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool briefly.
  2. Add salmon, breadcrumbs, parsley and lemon and mix well.
  3. Place the eggs, salt, pepper, mustard and Tabasco in a small bowl and beat to combine. Add to salmon mix, stir and then use a spoon to combine thoroughly.
  4. The baking dish will need to be at least 20cm x 20cm in size and 8cm deep.  Lay a sheet of fillo over the bottom and up the two longer or opposite sides. If the sheet is too big, you can either fold it to fit or trim it roughly with kitchen scissors. Using a pastry brush, lightly grease the sheet with some olive oil. Repeat until you have 6 to 8 layers.  (You can use a spray can of olive oil rather than a brush.)
  5. Spread the salmon mixture evenly over the fillo. Top with another 4 to 6 layers of fillo, oiling each sheet lightly. Oil the top sheet a bit more generously.
  6. Place the baking dish in a cold oven, bring the heat up to 150-160C and bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until the top sheet fillo is honey brown.  (This technique ensures that the filling cooks through without overcooking the pastry.)

Veal parmigiana

Sometime early in 2012, we were browsing The Australian Women’s Weekly Great Cooking Classics cookbook. One of several recipes that caught our attention was for Veal parmigiana. The recipe included the somewhat elaborate preparation of a tomato sauce. We decided to replace this with Maggie’s homemade sauce (see below), to which we added some of the basil-in-olive-oil that we store in our freezer. We have made other modifications but we are indebted to the original recipe.

The quality of the veal is critical to how much you will enjoy it.  If not satisfied, shop around until you find a butcher who can help deliver a good result consistently.  I’ve just had some leftovers from what we prepared on Saturday and I’m already looking forward to coming home from Europe and making it again!

Ingredients

We use enough veal to yield dinner for a middle-aged couple plus lunch for a middle-aged woman. Younger adults will need a good deal more!

1 cup tomato sauce
250g veal escallops
salt and black pepper
plain flour
1 egg, beaten
breadcrumbs, 50:50 fresh and packet
olive oil
100g grated mozzarella
a few basil leaves, chopped
50g grated pecorino

Method

  1. To make the tomato sauce, Maggie peels some ripe tomatoes, chops them coarsely and adds them to a saucepan with a little butter, salt, pepper and sugar (quantities determined by trial and error, apologies for the imprecision).  She brings the tomatoes to the boil and then simmers them until the volume is reduced by at least one third.
  2. Cover veal with cling wrap and use a rolling pin or similar to pound it thin. Cut veal into pieces about 12-15cm long. Season pieces of veal well on both sides then toss them in a some flour and shake off the excess.
  3. Dip veal in egg then coat with breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
  4. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook veal in pan until just golden on both sides. Drain on paper towel to remove excess oil.
  5. Place the veal in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the meat. Stir basil leaves in tomato sauce and pour over veal, then sprinkle evenly with pecorino.
  6. Place dish in an oven pre-heated to 170C and bake for 20-25 minutes or until pecorino is golden brown.

We serve the veal with wilted green leaves or a green salad.

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About rmgtravelsandfood

Maggie and I are both in our mid-60s and live in Melbourne, Australia. This blog is devoted to our shared passions for travel and fine dining at home. As cooks, we are skilful and adventurous within a framework of mainly traditional ingredients and techniques, and we aim to prepare nutritious food that looks good and tastes delicious. Our evolving repertoire is influenced by both our travels and Melbourne's vibrant food culture. While we are young enough, our priority travel destinations are overseas, although we do spend a few weekends each year exploring south-eastern Australia. As travellers, we are most comfortable with a combination of organised and independent touring. Our first overseas journey together was to Italy in the northern autumn of 2008. We later travelled in France (2009), Spain (2011), Singapore and Cambodia (2012/13). All trips from 2014 onwards are documented in this blog.
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