As I’ve been cooking a lot with meat lately I thought why not give the guests something a little different this week and decided to go with fish. When it comes to deciding exactly what to make I am very easily influenced by what I see around me, i.e. cooking shows, magazine covers, someone else’s plate who’s sitting opposite me at a cafe – so when I saw a picture of fishcakes I thought ‘well, everyone likes fishcakes’ and decided to go with that. Another deciding factor, if I’m to be completely honest, is that I thought they would be pretty easy. Pick something straight forward and then I can go a bit nuts with the veg and things you know? Well, let me tell you, if I thought that putting a bit of mash potato, some salmon and a bit of herbs into a bowl, forming them into patties and frying them would be easy – I was definitely mistaken. It wasn’t exactly the technical difficulty that I struggled with, it was more the time that I thought it would take. For one my mix that I ended up with was way too mushy and soft to form nice patties, and after tampering with it and adding bits and bobs I couldn’t quite get it right. They also, despite my flouring effort, kept sticking to the plate and my hands and looked more like prodded bits of play-do as opposed to tempting cakes. After letting them rest in the fridge for a good hour I still wasn’t happy with them so thought that crumbing them might help them take shape. This process once again took far much longer than I had anticipated and so I was frantically catching up with myself as the guests trickled in. For once I was glad of Melbourne’s crazy weather as it was adding to the traffic and also to people’s tardiness. Thank you thunderstorm!
I wanted to create a really colourful plate this week too so picked carrots, beetroots and baby gem for the veg – also because fishcakes contain potato so your filler is already taken up there which leaves a lot more room on the plate for extras. I did the carrots with thyme and cumin and marinated the beets with some balsamic before roasting them both. They both turned out good. The baby gem I decided to wilt in some chicken stock with some peas - a surprise to everyone who kept asking if they could put the lettuce in a salad bowl... ‘You’re cooking it??’ But actually I thought that something a bit hot and brothy was quite fitting for the wet weather. I don’t know if I converted everyone but it seemed to work ok. The only other extra thing I did was fry up some bacon and leeks with half a cabbage I found in the fridge that needed using. So it was certainly a full display of vitamins when we were done with it. If the fishcakes hadn’t taken so friggin long to prepare I would’ve happily thought of it for a future attempt – but I think I’ll leave them alone for the minute. I’m sure they’re supposed to be simple but I just couldn’t tame them.
Now dessert on the other hand – that was fun. Not only did the recipe seem fairly straight forward but the fact that cooking time was 16-20 minutes meant that people wouldn’t be waiting around for two hours while I got my act together(!) I was making a chocolate and orange clafoutis (normally done with cherries) with some caramelized oranges on the side. The clafoutis itself was delicious – rich, creamy and all gooey in the middle. Yum. My ‘caramelized’ oranges were more like oranges with syrup and I am still bamboozled why all my attempts at making caramel from sugar is failing. (I’m sure we used to cook sugar up in science class to get toffee... why couldn’t I do it now? Back to the drawing board for that one) But it all worked out good in the end. I mixed some cream with sour cream to get a crème fraiche equivalent ($7 for a tub of it from coles seemed a bit steep to me) and topped it with shaved chocolate flakes. There was none of that left at the end of the night.
The company once again was great and I think everyone left with slightly rounder tummies than when they came. So mission accomplished there. Definitely a learning curve once more and I am wondering how long those extra patties will remain in the freezer before I face their mushy little selves for a second time. Not too shortly I’m sure..!