Thursday 10 April 2008

farewell, my stinky

Today is a sad day because my little sister, Stinky, is flying away. She will spend 2 weeks in the wilds and waters of Borneo (Malaysia) before moving to Amsterdam (Netherlands) where she’ll be living for who knows how long. She hasn’t got any firm plans, she just wants to live in another country and experience a new culture. Again.

A few weeks ago I had a “sisters feast” where Stinky, Shamu and I got together and since I promised to cook a multicourse Italian meal as one of my food resolutions and since Stinky loves Italian food, Italian is what I ended up making.

Il Menu
Bresaola di Cervo al Caprino - Venison Bresaola w Goats Cheese Dressing
Brodo Piccante con Fregola e Gamberi - Spicy Broth of Fregola & Prawns
Bistecca con Gorgonzola e Fichi - Steak w Gorgonzola & Figs
Melanzane al Forno - Baked Eggplant
Pesche Ripiene – Baked Peaches Stuffed w Amaretti

I was really pleased with the outcome of this meal. Everything was truly scrumptious, even if Stinky and I got extra when Shamu couldn’t overcome the psychological barrier of eating Bambi, no pun intended (mind you, the following week she devoured deer with relish at a restaurant!).

Although the venison smallgoods manufacturer claimed the product was prosciutto, there was no classic fat lacing that appears on prosciutto and instead was clearly a lean, bresaola style cured meat. I suspect the manufacturer thought no one would know what bresaola was and so chose “prosciutto” for marketing purposes.

The venison bresaola was served with a goats cheese sauce, the recipe coming directly from Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Italy cookbook, which I promised to cook from as another foodie resolution. In the cookbook, Locatelli uses the same dressing on beef bresaola, providing a nice alternative from the traditional lemon juice accompaniment, while still retaining the necessary acidity. I have since used this dressing on other small salads.

The seafood broth was a wonderful, light dish plumped out with sweet scallop and prawns as well as beads of fregola tostata, a type of Sardinian pasta. I plan to share this recipe tomorrow for Presto Pasta Night.

Next came the rich, tender steaks that I bought from the David Jones Food Hall. They were 27 day aged and sublime: the flavour in these steaks is simply amazing. I’d rather eat sublime meat like this once a week than average quality every day. I pan-fried the steaks and melted a layer of creamy gorgonzola dolce on top, a salute to a similar dish cooked by Australian chef Danny Russo. Served with sliced fresh figs and dressed rocket, it is a truly wonderful recipe that functions as an impressive meal on its own.

The side dish of baked eggplant was a bit of an afterthought, but was still surprisingly good. Using the same principles as eggplant parmigiana, I baked chunks of eggplant with a Napoli sauce and a layer of parmesan cheese.

Finally there were the baked, stuffed peaches served with ice cream. These were sweet with textural contrast and were a light, warming end to a very filling meal. I plan to focus on peaches for Weekend Herb Blogging this week, so I’ll post the recipe over the weekend.

Bresaola di Cervo al Caprino (Venison Bresaola w Goats' Cheese Dressing)
Recipe from Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli. Serves 4 as starter.
20 slices venison bresaola
4 handfuls of rocket
100g soft, fresh goats’ cheese
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
1. Mask cheese with a fork until smooth.
2. Combine with white wine vinegar and 5 tablespoons of olive oil and create a coarse blend
3. Mix the remaining tablespoon of oil with the lemon juice and dress the rocket. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Just before serving, arrange bresaola slices on serving plates, spoon over dressing then top with a little rocket.

Bistecca con Gorgonzola e Fichi (Steak w Gorgonzola & Figs)
Anna’s recipe inspired by Danny Russo. Serves 4.
4 steaks
100g gorgonzola dolce, thinly sliced
4 large fresh figs, thinly sliced
Olive oil, for cooking
Salt & pepper
1. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper then brush with olive oil.
2. Heat a little more olive oil in a frying pan then cook steaks for 3-5 minutes then turn and cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Top steaks with cheese slices and cook for another 2 minutes or until cheese melts. This could also be done under a grill if preferred.
4. Plate and serve with slices of fresh figs.
Note: steak cooking instructions are for medium-rare but you can adjust depending on tastes. Just remember to give the cheese at least 2 minutes on the steaks to melt accordingly.

Melanzane al Forno (Baked Eggplant)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4 as a side.
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes
375ml (1½ cups) passata
1 small onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 long red chilli, chopped finely
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¾ cup finely grated parmesan
Olive oil, for cooking
1. First preheat to oven to 180’C.
2. To make the sauce by frying the onion with olive oil until soft, then adding the garlic and chilli and frying them until soft also.
3. Next add the tomato paste and fry until bubbly and a little thickened. Then add the passata and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and toss eggplant through the sauce.
5. Transfer to a baking dish and bake until eggplant is soft, about 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and mix through some of the parmesan and sprinkling the rest on the top. Return for 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts.

That's three of the five recipes I made for my sisters. The other two will be posted over the next few days.

By the way everyone, don’t forget that I’m hosting Mixology Monday next week, so get your fruit liqueur cocktails ready for blogging!



  1. A sumptuous meal to send off your sis (who I'm sure is so delighted that you shared her nickname Stinky to the world).

    As for the prosciutto/bresaola of venison, it depends on what cut of meat he used. If it was made from the leg, then he's in his right to call it prosciutto (like the ham leg) but venison is very streaky fat anywhere.

  2. that's a good point peter. not sure whether it was leg or not. i think it was so i think you might be right: bresaola is usually made from the animal rounds.

    i'm sticking with bresaola. it makes me happy :)

  3. What a fabulous feast! If I ever get to come to Australia you must promise to cook something like this for me. (Who knows, I'll soon be retired - well in a year - and I have big hopes for traveling!)

    What an adventure for your sister, but I can imagine how you'll miss her. (Now you must travel to Amsterdam. I hear it's a wonderful city.)

  4. Everything looked fabulous! What a great thing for you to do before your sister leaves. Although she'll be missed, the adventures she is about to get!

  5. Anna, I want to be your sister so you can cook me multi-course gourmet meals ;)

    Oh...that steak!! (drools) :P~~


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