Monday, May 22, 2006

Which wine do you think we drank?

For those of you who have read my posts, see if you can guess which wine we drank with dinner on Saturday night.

I, and the rest of my staff, are still recovering from the last few weeks of trying to beat the last tax lodgement deadline of the year (May 15). I dragged myself through to the end of the week and decided that I was not going into the office on Saturday. The better-half thought I might be ill!

Realising I was too weak to fight and was going to spend the day at home, the better-half grasped her opportunity, bid me farewell, handed me the keys to our two kids and said "See ya!! Be back around lunch time. Try not to damage the children" - Ouch!

After waving goodbye to the wife I lay back down on the bed for a while. The two boys came in and jumped up and down on me for 45 minutes or so which led me to the conclusion that they were trying to get my attention! (I am really quick on my days off!). I got up, built the best train track in the universe to enable Thomas, Donald, Douglas, Percy, Gordon, Daisy, Diesel et al (expertly guided by the two boys - 4.5 and 1.5 years of age) to traverse the Island of Sodor in bliss and harmony - well, the harmony lasted about 3 minutes. So it was off downstairs to the sandpit and the swings.

When I got outside I realised it was a wonderful day! Autumn in Brisbane has to be the best time of year. Eventually the boys went off and did their own thing which allowed me to go back to the kitchen, find some books and start planning dinner. So I sat on the deck watching the kids run around the yard with the dog and planned afternoon tea, dinner and dessert (I was feeling hungry). I didn't sit down to plan all three - it just happened.

I started by looking for a chicken recipe for dinner but instead found a really good recipe for apple pie (not just any semi-flat apple pie) but one that ends up looking like a cake and stands around 12-13cm (5-6 inches) tall. I love hot apple pie (and NO not because of that movie)! Please forgive me! The pie turned out great but the top and the edges look like the moon's surface (see photo) - hey! give me a break! I am an amateur and it was my first attempt. Making the pastry almost drove me insane!!! I did have one good idea though, which wasn't in the book. Once I had cooked down the 8 green apples (skinned, quartered and sliced - yes part of me wishes I had listened to my better-half and simply bought tins of pie apple, but that takes away part of the fun) with a cup of water and half a cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon, the recipe said to drain the apple and add in sultanas - which I did. However, I kept the liquid that I drained off (it was a great mixture of green apple tartness and the sweetness of the sugar and apple juice and slight cinnamon fragrance). Later on I reduced it slightly and stirred in some cornflour to thicken and it made a wonderful pouring sauce over the pie and ice-cream.

In my rummaging around the pantry to see what ingredients we had I noticed a packet of dates and couldn't remember the last time we had eaten some. So I came up with an idea for a date and walnut loaf for afternoon tea. This turned out great (no photos because we ate most of it warm with some butter). The boys enjoyed licking the spoon on that one!

I eventually found a chicken recipe - herb and parmesan encrusted chicken thighs. This was made by mixing butter, some chopped dill, chives and mint with a small amount of grated lemon rind and a teaspoon or two of lemon juice and then stuffing the herb butter under the skin of each thigh. The thigh was 're-sealed' with toothpicks. It was cooked in a moderate oven with the grill on for about 10 minutes each side. The last two minutes being skin side up and sprinkled grated parmesan cheese on top. The result is a very crispy top.

To go with this I made up a mixed gratin with potato, zucchini, onion and garlic (and seasoned with just a little oregano, salt and pepper in around the second zucchini layer) and topped with some shaved parmesan. Add some cream and milk almost to the top layer and bake in oven at 150C for an hour.

Now, what wine to have?A Penfold's 2001 Yattarna, a Tyrrell's Stevens 1995 Semillon, or a Knappstein 1999 Cab Merlot? Which do you think?


Anonymous The Wine Commonsewer said...

Searching for some wise guy remark to make about it being illegal for Aussies to make Apple Pie--you know how ethnocentric we Americans are. How's it go? That's as American as apple pie? I dunno maybe it's Ma, the flag, baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet? Anyway, there's a joke there somewhere I just can't find it so I guess I'll just move on and say that........

The pie looks delicious. Might try that chicken myself. What a fabulous spread. Dude, you are good, and what makes it work is that you aren't married to THE RECIPE. Improvisation works well in cooking and jazz. I am duly impressed and like I said last time, I'm on the next plane for dinner at your house.

I'da gone with the cab/merlot because lips that touch white wine shall never touch mine. However, I'm betting you went with Stevens--and then drank the other two bottles. :-)

I bought a Barosa Shiraz while I was out just now. Looking forward to it but it remains unopened. Grant Burge. Don't know anything about it except the winery has been around for a while.

So you tax boys get all the way until May 15 to wrap it up? That's nice but somehow I have a feeling that it is still just as stressful. Our deadline is April 15 but you can get an extra 6 months to file (not to pay though. There's a surprise).

3:17 PM  
Blogger Shel said...

I make countless apple pies and cobblers every year, as they're easy to give as gifts, take to gatherings, etc. My life was made significantly easier this year when my best friend gave me something like this. In addition to useful, it's also sort of entertaining to use.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Mal said...


Thanks for the tip! I have seen these before but didn't know where to get them and, I must admit, I didn't think of it last Saturday. Peeling, quartering and coring only 8 apples was a chore.


6:56 AM  
Blogger Mal said...


I appreciate your comments and am glad that there was no smart remark about the apple pie! Even if it was your national and most revered symbol we Aussies would still eat it. Why not? - We already eat our own national fauna symbols and the animals on our coat of arms - kangaroo and emu. I believe we are the only country in the world where it is legal to do that - go figure.

I am also glad you chose the cab/merlot, because that's exactly what we drank!! Red is best!! Although, I do like the way you think and maybe we should have had a go at all three?

Well done on the Grant Burge. The Barossa is a great wine region and Grant Burge has been around for a while and is well respected. My favourites of his are his Shadrach Cab Sac and the Meshach Shiraz. Both of these are two of his "Icon" wines. The other of the "Icon" trinity - Abednego (of course - for those that remember their Bible stories of the three men in the fiery furnace)is a Shiraz Grenache Mourverde and I have not tried it yet. Recently the Shadrach was on sale here for $38 (about USD$28.50) which is not much over half of what I was paying for it 3 years ago. In case you haven't heard there is an enormous over-supply problem in Australia at the moment. So keep watching the Aussie wine prices - you should see them falling and be able to pick up some good bargains.

7:17 AM  

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