Category Archives: Finger Food and Nibbles

Broad Bean Salad, and Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

Broad Bean Salad

Broad Bean Salad

Last week, we had a busy time catching up with family and friends, entertaining grandsons and (shock, horror!!!) a couple of shifts of work for me.

My youngest son Daniel works at Cafe Aura in Traralgon so with one chef on holidays, and the boss off sick, they are very short staffed and got me in to do some prep work.

The first shift I worked was at really short notice-I had to take up a pair of black pants and get myself organised for a 9 am start after a 7.30 am wake up call from Daniel. I worked just over 5 hours and most of the shift was spent with my fingers either cramping up or threatening to. Not much fun.

Work

Work

The second shift I worked on Tuesday night was much, much better. I had lots of warning and did a nice mix of cooking on the grill and prep.

Saturday, Russ, grandson Rooke and I went to Melbourne for a family get together. Everyone took along either an appetiser, salad or dessert to share and meat for themselves to our Niece Yvonne and husband Stuart’s place. It was a fantastic afternoon catching up with everyone. Russ made us a crab dip using some of our picked frozen crab meat. It was really popular!

Family get together

Family get together

Sunday, we took our grandsons Kobie and Rooke to an open day at the Traralgon fire station. It was great-they got to use the hoses, sit in the fire truck, try on the breathing apparatus, we watched as they burned off a gas fire and saw the Skylift rise 42 metres in the sky. The boys got a free sausage, sticker, tattoos and cardboard cut out fire truck to

Fireman Kobie

Fireman Kobie

make.

This week’s been more of the same.

Wednesday I did kinder duty at Rooke’s kindergarten. I’ve done it once before and really enjoy it. I was in hospital as a new mum (of son Michael) with one of the kinder aides Di, so it’s been great to meet her again after maybe 24 years.

Zeus

Zeus

Thursday, we took Daniel’s beautiful big bull arab pup Zeus(he’s 10 months old) to the local car wash/dog wash for a bath. He was shampooed, rinsed, conditioned, flea rinsed and blow dried til he looked squeaky clean and smelled sweet.

Thursday night we went to a bbq with friends. I made a broad bean salad using our home cured bacon, and another crab dip.

Friday I worked 10 hours and today (Sat 22nd) I’m home now in the middle of my two shifts, so I’ll do another 10 or so hours.

Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

  • 1 cobb loaf (I really love Woolworths Onion and Parmesan one)
  • 1 cup crab meat (about)
  • 250 g block light Philly cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup low fat whole egg mayo
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • a slug of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 400 g can of artichokes, drained, then squeezed really dry, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

    Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 c
  2. Cut a lid from the cobb loaf, then carefully scoop or cut out most of the soft bread from the loaf and the lid.  Slice the scooped out bread into dipping sized pieces and put them and the loaf and lid on a baking tray and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients together and heat gently in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  4. Increase the heat of the oven to 180 c, then pour the mix into the cobb loaf shell and put back in the oven for about 15 minutes or until bubbling and browning on top.
  5. Serve with the dipping pieces, and the lid torn to bits.

Broad Bean Salad

  • 500 g packet frozen broad beans, cooked per packet instructions, cooled in cold water
  • 125g bacon, diced, cooked crispy, reserve rendered fat
  • 200 g feta cheese
  • 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • oil, extra, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Broad Bean Salad

    Broad Bean Salad

Method

  1. Peel the cooled broad beans (gets rid of the tough khaki green outer skin to revel bright green inner flesh)
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring gently to combine. I use the bacon fat, making it up to two tablespoons with extra oil.
  3. Chill to allow the flavours to meld.

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Edamame and Mint Dip

Edamame and Mint Dip

Edamame and Mint Dip

I bought an edamame and mint dip in an English supermarket to take with us on our cruise on the Norfolk Broads. I enjoyed it so much, I kept the packaging so I could attempt to recreate it at home. I bought pre-cooked, frozen edamame pods at an Asian grocer in Perth and the rest of the ingredients are stuff we always have on hand.

The wind here in Streaky Bay today would blow a dog off its chain, so with no fishing for us, I thought I’d give the dip a go. I reckon my version is waaaay better than the commercial one we bought, so I’m blogging the recipe so I don’t forget about it.

Apart from being a relatively healthy and very tasty dip, I reckon it would be great on boiled spuds or as a different dressing over a potato salad. We’re having it tonight over the boiled spuds with fish and a salad.

Edamame and Mint Dip

    • 450g packet frozen, cooked edamame pods, defrosted, shelled
    • 1 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
    • 1 420 g can cannellini beans, drained
    • 1/4 cup low fat Greek Yoghurt
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup light cream cheese
    • Good pinch of salt
    • Good grinding of black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint (I would use fresh but dried is what I had. You can use more if you really like mint)

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, crush with a potato masher
  2. Process with a stick blender until smooth, but still with a bit of texture
  3. Drizzle with a little olive oil (mine was garlic and chilli) and sprinkle with a little mint.

Fried Quail with Spicy Salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Monday we put the boat in at Fowlers Camp and headed out to our fishing spot off Eagle Bluff. We’ve been fishing there for years always catching heaps of just undersized pink snapper and the occasional size one that we can bring home. It’s a beautiful spot that we often have to ourselves apart from the dolphins there fishing for the small pinks. We came home with 2 pinks and 1 black snapper and a big flathead-something we’ve never caught there before. I cooked one of the snapper whole in the oven, stuffing the cavity with lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and coriander stalks. Simple but good food!

Snapper on the plate

Snapper on the plate

It was so nice out there Monday, we headed out again Tuesday but couldn’t even catch the bottom!

Today, we spent the afternoon out crabbing at Monkey Mia. We had to wait for some dimwits on the boat ramp-they couldn’t back a trailer then pulled out and did all the tying down of their boat while we waited for them, then we only got 6 crabs and soaking wet in some promised rain that finally arrived. It was lovely to get home to a hot shower.

Before we left, I made the spicy salt and marinade, while Russ split the quail for tonight’s dinner. We didn’t shoot these quail, but bought them in Perth to enjoy one night in the future on our trip north. Tonight was the night. After an average day at Monkey Mia dinner was a feast!

I like my quail treated simply so the flavour still comes through-I think intense marinades kill all that-this recipe is one of the best. We ate the quail with a Green Papaya salad made with some of our last Carnarvon ingredients. It amazes me how long this good, fresh produce actually lasts; even now one week and 5 days after purchase the stuff is still better than if I’d brought it “fresh” at a supermarket today!

This recipe comes from a book Taste of China I bought years ago and is a family favourite for quail. I save the rest of the spicy salt, sieve it and use it on fish (especially sand whiting) and squid.

Fried Quail with Spicy Salt
Salt and Pepper Mix

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

Quail

  • 4 quail
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper mix
  • (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 -3 tablespoons plain flour
  • oil (for deep frying)
  • lemon wedges, to serve
Fried quail with spicy salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Method

  1. To make the spicy salt and pepper, combine the ingredients and dry fry over a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic.
  2. Split each quail in half down the middle and clean well. I like to remove the back bone with my knife and pull out the ribs, breast bone and wishbone with my fingers.
  3. Marinate with the teaspoon of spicy salt and pepper, sugar, soy and rice wine for 2-3 hours, turning frequently.
  4. Coat each quail piece in flour, dusting off the excess.
  5. Fill a wok to 1/4 full with oil and heat the oil to 190c.
  6. Fry the quail for 2-3 minutes each side then remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side.

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Too Windy to Fish

Just about gone

Just about gone

It was really windy here yesterday-way too windy to be out in our little tinny so we just hung around the van for the day making a batch of our favourite pickled fish going down to the bay for a swim, then heading down again with a bottle of wine at sunset. After lingering there for an hour or so, it was time to go back and cook our dinner.

I took a couple of photos in the morning to show just how quiet it is here right now. The quietest we have ever known it! We are parked up in our favourite spot by the road, close to the ablutions block and I reckon there would normally be 20 other vans surrounding us. Right now there’s two and it’s been that way for a week. Those two vans belong to some guys building a new pub across the road and they reckon it’s them and the possible noise keeping the sites vacant, but in a busy year, management would just say “suck it up” to anyone who needed to stay but didn’t want to stay here. NO, it’s super quiet is the truth.

Vacancies at Coral Bay 2

Vacancies at Coral Bay 2

We caught 5 spangled Emperor the other day, so I had Russ save me a frame when he filleted them to make stock. I have plans to make a fish soup along the lines of  our favourite Tunisian Fish Soup (fish stock, tomatoes, saffron, cumin, paprika, garlic, potatoes) but will look for something a bit different this time.

Cooked and ready to eat. Cheek meat was amazing

Cooked and ready to eat. Cheek meat was amazing

We’d kept the smallest fish caught Tuesday to cook whole. No recipe as such, but I mixed equal amounts (about 2 tablespoons of each) of soy and black vinegar, added in grated ginger, a big dollop of jarred garlic, a chopped chilli and a half teaspoon of 5 spice powder. Then wrapped the fish in foil and baked until he reached 60c. Rested him while I finished off the fried rice. Both of us reckon it’s one of THE best dinners we’ve eaten in ages and well worth staying home for.

Fish Stock

  • 1 fish frame-inc head, should be a white fish like snapper or emperor
  • 1 onion, chopped small, (leave skin on for a richer colour)
  • 1 carrot, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (supposed to release the calcium from bones)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (supposed to balance the vinegar out)
  • A few stalks of parsley ripped up
Fish Stock

Fish Stock

Method

  1. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes Any more and the proteins in the bones start to break down.
  3. Strain and discard the solids.
  4. Wash out the pot and return the strained stock to the heat.
  5. Reduce over high heat until about a third remains. I do this for a stronger stock and to cut down on freezer space (if that’s where it’s going). Can always add in more water if you want to when you defrost.

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Cerviche

Cerviche

Cerviche

Always on the lookout for new fish recipes, I decided as we love pickled fish so much, it was time to make my own fish cerviche. I’ve eaten it made by my good friend Chris Whitmore years ago, and I’ve eaten yabby cerviche, but never made my own.

I looked at a few recipes, then took what I liked from them to make my own version-some used avocado and that would be nice, but at $6 each here, it was never going to happen, some used capsicum (bell pepper) but that texture seemed wrong. My daughter-in-law put me onto Ayam coconut milk powder (as opposed to the tinned stuff we usually buy). It’s cheaper and I can make up smaller batches, control the strength (milk or cream) and can add it direct to curries where I want a coconut flavour.

Reduced Coconut Milk

Reduced Coconut Milk

Marinating Charlie

Marinating Charlie

We caught a number of fish yesterday, but decided our favourite Charlie Court Cod would be good for this. It’s a lovely sweet flavoured, delicate fish, but small and not so easy to deal with. Russ does deal with it though as we’ve yet to find a fish we reckon has better flavour or texture. Most recipes said the fish should come from the fishmonger as fresh as possible. We caught these yesterday but over the years have decided that fish rested in the fridge for 24 hours seems to be the best. Some might argue, but that’s how we like it. Charlie fillets are only small so I just cut into squares (rather than cubes as you would with a fatter fillet) and marinated for 1.5 hours. It worked really well in that time.

Cerviche

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 200g white fish, diced into 1cm chunks
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced length-ways (julienned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 small bunch coriander (pick the leaves off)
  • (optional and would add if cost was better) 1 small avocado, diced
Cerviche

Cerviche

Method

  1. Put the coconut milk in a small pan over a low heat, and reduce by half. Drop in the mint leaves, cool then remove the mint leaves and discard.
  2. Place the diced fish in a non reactive (glass or ceramic) dish and pour over the lime juice. Refrigerate for between 1/2 hour (rare) to 3 hours (well done).
  3. Pour off most of the lime juice and discard, then add the coconut milk and other ingredients-check the salt and sugar is in balance then serve garnished with coriander and/or mint sprigs.

Serves 2

Luscious Limes

Luscious Limes

Doing what we love doing the most.

Crab Bruschetta

Crab Bruschetta

Janette and David left us Sunday morning and flew back to Melbourne after a night in Bunbury. It was a great visit and we really appreciate the fact they made such a big effort to come see us and spend some time together. It’s just a pity the weather was not so nice. I laughed when David christened Walpole Yowie country, but that’s what it felt like in the misty rain that seemed to fall for most of their visit. We still managed to do quite a bit of sight seeing and ate well over the week.

Monday we fished and caught enough to pickle a big jar full, and smoke some too. I’m always happy when I have pickled fish in the fridge as it’s now one of my all time favourite foods to snack on.

On Tuesday, Russ and I drove to Perth so I could see the dentist at 10 am on the Wednesday. I broke a tooth while we were over in Victoria but got it smoothed over until I could see our dentist over here. The Victorian dentist recommended crowning the tooth, so I booked two appointments accordingly. However, when I saw my dentist (To Tam Nguyen at Osborne Dental Clinic) she recommended I have a filling instead and promise never to eat pork crackle again!. That recommendation saved us around $1300 and a second visit to her. Funny, between talking about Vietnam to her, holidays in general with the office manager Janelle, and chatting to Petra the Dutch dental nurse, I’ve decided I love going to the dentist. We spent Tuesday night with Blair and Leah and enjoyed a great dinner out at a local Cambodian restaurant Tamarind (one of our favourite cheap and cheerful places to eat in Perth).

We drove back to Yowie country after my appointment, stopping to buy avocados, pumpkin and tomatoes at farm gates, then did our grocery shopping at Manjimups’ very, very new Woolworths. I love new supermarkets-they are always stocked to maximum capacity in the first few weeks and therefore full of specials. We walked away with quite a few!

Today, we decided to go and fish. Once again we came home with plenty of pickling and smoking fish (love to have the next lot in the fridge) a big feed of flat head (Russ caught the biggest he’s ever caught today) and he caught a huge blue swimmer crab on his fishing line so there was much joy over that! We’ve been here 6 times in 8 years and in the early years, we were told that there used to be crabs in the inlet but they’d been long “gone”. Read “over fished” here!

We arrived here this time to have our neighbour tell us the crabs are back, and they are BIG. Sure are. We came in at lunch time, then headed out with our crab nets. Sadly we caught a female with eggs, so released her and another I couldn’t be bothered cooking and picking. All our baits had been mauled, a couple went missing and one bait holder got ripped right out of the net, so they are there. It’s just a matter of time before we catch some (I hope). We have 18 more days here to do what we love doing the most-fishing and crabbing.

Tonight I’m making crab bruschetta with the first crab we’ve actually caught in 2 1/2 years.

Crab Bruschetta

  • 1 large crab, cooked and picked (ours was a blue swimmer crab)
  • 2 tablespoons whole egg mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • few drops Tabasco
  • 4 slices sour dough bread (ours was olive and rosemary), brushed with olive oil and grilled
Crab Bruschetta

Crab Bruschetta

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the toasted bread) together.
  2. Divide between the slices of toast, then pop under the griller and til heated through and golden brown.

Squid

Spiced and Salted Squid with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Spiced and Salted Squid with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Much excitement at our place with the capture of three squid today. We did catch a small one the other day but these ones are big.

We don’t actively target squid, but will sometimes drop a jig over the side of the boat if we think we’re over likely squid territory and today we were. The first one I caught managed to get his revenge by covering me and the boat in ink, but I wised up after that and held the other two in the landing net until they’d finished squirting ink. It’s dreadful stuff and will stain the fishing clothes I was wearing today forever-like a badge of squidding honour.

Our squid jigs are attached to bits of flotation noodle (like nanas use at aerobics). At one stage I wasn’t taking any notice of mine and it suddenly went overboard. It was so funny to see three big squid attacking it at the surface rather than the jig but I caught one after we retrieved it from them. I’d say if you were a very keen squidder, there were heaps of them out there today but three is enough for us.

One squid will be used tonight for our entrée of spiced squid and wasabi mayonnaise, the other two will go into the freezer to be eaten at a later date and all their wings, heads and tentacles go into the bait bucket.

We also caught a few fish, but will freeze them and have a poached chicken and papaya salad for our mains tonight.  It was lovely. out there today, we saw heaps of turtles (maybe a dozen) two sharks (one I wouldn’t want to swim with ) and dolphins  as we fished.

Salted and Spiced Squid Rings with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Salt and Spice Mix

  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup rock salt

Wasabi Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Coles low fat whole egg)
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi paste (or to taste)
  • fresh squid rings
  • ¼ cup rice flour
Spiced and Salted Squid with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Spiced and Salted Squid with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Salt and Spice Mix

  1. Place the chilli flakes, cumin, fennel, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a small food processor or mortar and pestle. Grind until coarsely broken up.
  2. Add the salt and continue to grind until the salt and spices are finely ground.  That was too much for my little blender so I finished the mix with my mortar and pestle.
  3. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Wasabi Mayonnaise

  1. Mix the ingredients together and refrigerate until you serve the squid.

Squid 

  1. Toss the squid rings in the rice flour.
  2. Heat enough oil in a wok or deep pan to deep fry the squid rings a few at a time, cooking for about 2 minutes until golden and just cooked. Drain on absorbent paper.
  3. Sprinkle over the salt and spice mix and serve with Wasabi Mayonnaise.