A Dinner for guests from Singapore

and once I got this right the rest was downhill

Mr Chubby d’Hubby of Singapore was in town for a wedding a little while ago and I insisted, *insisted* that he come over to my place for dinner in the spirit of bloginess and a sense of regional friendship that seemed to have been lost since Australia decided we’d be part of the Anglophonic Superfriends. If you haven’t been over to his blog ‘Chubby Hubby’, then off you go now. Great isn’t it? But eeek! from a I’ve got to cook dinner for this person perspective. On top of this the other three guests, his wife and two friends were all heavily involved in food in both work and leisure. The other thing is that Singapore is a very cosmopolitan and outward looking place so there was no – ‘as you may not be familiar with Bulgarian food type’ dodges. (sorry this isn’t making any sense is it?)

To cope with my I’m a bloggin’ fraud angstiness about these things, the plan was to have something which was really good but didn’t look like I’d tried to hard just in case it didn’t work out because I was like being all casual and all in a kind of faded jeans and cowboy shirt way (actually that’s what I wore).

Cold entree prepared in advance, rack of lamb (‘cos it’s Aussie), and rhubarb ice cream for dessert.

Cold entree ended in the bin, lamb rack became pork rack and rhubarb ice-cream became rhubarb ice-cream (but with cardamom – oooeee).

Pains to Spain
The entree was a facking disaster – a combination of orange roughy roe, ocean trout, and crayfish horns. Unfortunately I was working off a few different recipes so it was a cross between a terrine/mousse/parfait. The orange roughie roe did work, it’s not much raw but did make for a very nice pate – cooked in orange juice and then cream. This was the top row.
For the next part I smoked half my stash of ocean trout. Pan fried the other half and pureed them both. It then became apparent I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and ended up making a mousse and had a brief naff sixties flashback. Crayfish horns filled the inside.
Tried it the next morning and realised there is indeed a significant difference between smokey and acrid and this was the latter. Toni concurred and in the bin it went (not something I do lightly).
What to do. I still had some bits of fish and crayfish left and a fish stock I’d made; thinking I needed it for the terrine that became a mousse.

So, a kilo of mussels, and some smoked chilli squid legs and it was a paella with alioli. I’m pretty sure this was my first paella so being all experienced ‘n all – the secret is a good stock, chopping and deseeding the tomatoes yourself, and making sure you sautee them until they’re dryish. Do this and the lady from the cover of Surfer Rosa will appear as if by magic and dance the special dance for your entertainment for making such a fine paella.

The alioli was – one egg, four garlic cloves, salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp hot water – pureed and then EVOO added drop by drop then a stream while the wand is going until the consistency is right.

Went to Jeremy’s Butchers thinking lamb rack and instead saw a lovely 10 chop rack of Spencer’s Brook Organic pork and was sold. Did I mention butchers were good? Jeremy half cut the chops to allow better cooking, scored the top, and sent me away with the wisdom.
Oil it and salt the skin to dry it out the day before and let it get to room temperature. Raost at 220C to get the crackle crispy and then cook at 160C for about an hour and a half. And then rest in foil for 45 minutes. This seems a long time but it will retain a lot of heat and continue to cook the meat.

The ironic thing, actually more coincidental, but you don’t get a lot of ironic opportunities in food blogging is I swore I’d give the La Gavroche cookbook a rest, but found a recipe for rack of pork ribs that I resignedly followed – accepting the book is stamped on my brain in much the same way that every song I know play ends up sounding like I Wanna Be Sedated.
(And I’ve just realised that I’ve done virtually this whole dinner before *with* rhubarb ice-cream as well. Help! I’ve got dementia.)

The pork is cooked over root veges – in this case – 5mm slices of kipfler potato, parsnip, and white sweet potato. Along with garlic, sliced scallions, rosemary and thyme. The traditional way is to pour a cup of chicken stock as well and baste regularly. You can get the veges up to appropriate crisp while the pork is resting.

Apparently, legend has it, that in olden days, the ladies would use the local baker’s ovens and to save messing about – they’d do it all in one dish. Hence the songs of the time like:

Bad cooking woman
Given’ away her lovin’
That’s mah roots
In another man’s oven

[played to the tune of I Wanna Be Sedated – adagietto ]

The accompanying La Gavroche gravy was a tomato-based Charcutière sauce

Rhubarb on my brain
Rhubarb ice cream was this recipe for the rhubarb:
Rhubarb and cardamom tartlet
and then the rhubarb added to the creme anglais in the ice-cream maker and the juices and sticky used as a sauce.

rack of pork

The Meal
Well the meal was a lot of fun. Excellent wine was brought and the conversation was lively. CH & S actually got married in Perth and have a knowledge of the food and wine here that had me struggling to keep up. There’s something very nice about guests who are simultaneously very serious about their food but also very casual about the whole thing.
The paella was right tasty and the alioli managed to settle down from being like the breath of satan because of the much stronger local garlic – to something a bit more palatable. I was asked for seconds!
The pork was a bit dryer than I would have wanted, having left it cooking a little long, but the pork itself was great and the ribs proved very popular with at least one guest.
And then it was dessert and sticky and the night was over and away they went on their long journey north to Joondalup.

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  1. cin’s avatar

    Anthony, I’m thinkin’ that you’re a pretty brave man to undertake a mission like this! I would’ve been quaking in my boots…

  2. Chubby Hubby’s avatar

    Anthony, it was a fantastic dinner. Thank you so much for hosting us and for allowing me to bring along those 2 extra guests. Speaking of them, weren’t you going to post that oh-so-embarrassing photo of one of them gnawing on the pork bones?

    Again, the combination of great company, really, really good food and good vino was perfect. Thanks again and I look forward to cooking for you and Toni in Singapore.

  3. S’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    I’d like to chime in and reiterate that we had a fabulous time. Oh, the things one discovers about what went on behind the scenes make blogs such special reads. I am so sorry we put you through such culinary trials. It was a real treat to sup at your dinner table (the ‘your’ encapsulating both Toni and you, of course). We truly appreciate your spending your weekend in the kitchen for us.

  4. Barbara’s avatar

    See there’s your problem. You should never have smoked the trout. Next time don’t smoke until after dinner. Or at least until after the main and before dessert.

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    I was shakin’ in me Birkies

    Too kind and very happy you could all make it. I wouldn’t dream of posting that pic, I’m keeping it in my wallet to show people on the bus.
    Careful we might just take you up on that offer- we were pretty sold on Singapore by the end of it.

    Many thanks. Nothing like blogs to catalogue the disasters of the everyday kitchen. Not at all on the trials, I do it to myself and I suspect I enjoy it and if I wasn’t in the kitchen I’d be out vandalising telephone booths or something.

    True, nothing like a good trout with cognac.

  6. J’s avatar

    hi anthony, c.h. described your awesome meal in sufficiently delicious detail it had me seriously considering buying a ticket to perth and knocking on your front door ;)

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    Cheers J. Always welcome, it’s not that far you know – but maybe a few days notice and you can bring dessert.

  8. wedding blog’s avatar

    nice photos of food..:P yummy….
    how i hope i can post ur photo in my wedding blog at http://www.romance-fire.com

  9. Anthony’s avatar

    Yeah I don’t see why not – link, attribution, non-commerical use etc etc

    Good luck with the wedding!

  10. Gracianne’s avatar

    You are lucky that Perth is just too far from here to catch the bus and come knocking at dinner time. What a meal!

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    And well the bus would get wet.

    I swear I tried to keep it simple but no such luck.

    We have a plan! France in the next three years so maybe I can pop in for dinner (and a ride of the MZ)

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