Calm before the storm
Yesterday, down in beautiful coastal Coledale, we held our second last Cooking Your Calendar event of the year with Margot De Bortoli's Salmon, Mascarpone & Dill Crepes and Spinach & Filo Tarts on the menu. To take advantage of the summer sunshine, we decided to host a classic long leisurely lunch, kicking off with the crepes and tarts as starters, then progressing into a relaxed BBQ later in the afternoon. Our guest list included graphic designer David Corbet, Art in Australia's Managing Editor Michael Fitzgerald, interior designer Sean Morris, art teacher Iain Wallace, architect Craig Casey, artist Michael Keighery and his partner Vic, Wollongong City Gallery public program coordinator Vivian Vidulich and Memphis the dog. Most of our guest list are, what Vivian describes as, "art casualties" living on the south coast, as well as a couple of Sydney friends who'd made the drive down from the city.
The wheels fall off!
Trashing the "cretattas"
With our guests arriving at 1pm, we began our preparations mid morning. All we had to do was whip up a batch of crepes, make a few filo tarts, then knock together a few salads for the barbie. How hard could it be? Well, thanks to Rachel's vagueness, very difficult as it turns out. At about 11am, Rachel started on both Margot's appetizers. Dutifully following the two separate recipes, Rachel first prepared a batter for the crepes, then set that mixture aside for the required half an hour to allow the batter to bind. In the meantime, she started on the filo tarts. After placing the filo pastry into muffin trays, she mixed the eggs, spinach and two cheeses for the tart filling. Everything was going to plan. Still an hour till our guests arrived... easy. But that's when things went very badly wrong. Instead of pouring the eggy-cheesey tart filling into the filo cases, Rachel inadvertently used the crepe batter instead. She protests it was a simple enough mistake. After all, both mixtures looked much the same, sitting there side-by-side on the kitchen bench. Happily unaware of her mistake, Rachel popped the "crepe-tarts" into the oven and watched them cook. Then she turned her attention to Step Two of the crepe recipe: frying lovely thin crepes that any French cook would be proud of. And that's when, with horror, she realised her error. No more crepe mixture, a batch of wasted filo tarts, and all she had left was a bowl full of raw egg, spinach and cheese. But, as Daniel pointed out, she had invented a totally new recipe: "cretattas". Panic set in and with only one hour to go, we had to cook another batch of tartlets, another batch of crepe mixture and still finish all our side dishes for the BBQ. Yes, Rachel does get the prize for being the biggest space cadet in Coledale, and perhaps the entire eastern seaboard of Australia.
Spinach and Filo Tarts
Salmon Mascarpone & Dill Crepes
Amazingly, everything came together quite literally at the last minute. When our guests arrived we had elegant salmon crepes and delicious warm tartlets plated-up, with chilled De Bortoli's Rococo Blanc de Blanc ready to pour. We were certainly in need of a glass of bubbles by that stage. After catching up with friends over drinks, we headed to the table for a BBQ feast where we lingered for hours. Very generously, our guests had brought with them a mouthwatering selection of cakes. So dessert was a "cake off" of a beautiful custardy fruit flan, a dense banana and mango gateaux and the most spectacular white chocolate mousse cake that looked like some sort of sculpture. Lunch turned into dinner as we kept grazing and drinking well into the evening.
Calculating the calorie damage
Michael contemplates cake