The only thing that we forgot to do yesterday was harvest the basil. Bad idea.
Last night we had our first frost of the year, -4°C. Oops.
This week we have had some wonderful meals using mussels that TB smoked at home.
The mussels came from Fishco Downunder at the Belconnen markets, our favourite place to buy seafood in Canberra. First TB steamed the mussels open, then brined them overnight in the fridge. The brine solution was 100gms of salt, 100gms of sugar to one litre of water.
After the brining TB took the mussels out of the brining solution and put them on a rack in the fridge to dry out. Once dry the mussels went into the smoker for three hours. The mussels were ‘cold smoked’, meaning that the smoke only gave flavour to the food, rather than cooking the food. After smoking we stored the mussels in canola oil in the fridge. They will keep for several weeks this way.
The next bit is where I came in. I consulted my favourite Italian cook , Marcella Hazan, and found a simple recipe for mussel and basil pasta sauce (in her book Cucina). We had all the key ingredients, tomatoes, basil, parsley and onions from our garden; with just the oil and chilli powder from our cupboard.
Wow what wonderful flavour! (Oh when will blogs come with smell and taste included?) This recipe surpassed our expectations and will definitely be on the menu again.
With the start of the frosts this week we sadly saluted the last of our summer veg with some Italian inspired dishes. The last ripe tomato picked from my sole, sort of surviving, plant in ground, and along with some ‘I’m not dead yet’ basil was used in a classic Pizza Margherita for our lunch – buffalo mozarella, tomato and basil (representing the colours of the Italian flag).
Our friends who came over for dinner on the same day were offered an entree platter of the same ingredients along with some fried anchovy-stuffed and bread-crumbed green olives, all dressed with olive oil and some of Maggie Beer’s Seville Vinacotta.
What a way to go!