January 27, 2010

Australia Day picinic

Yesterday was the perfect day for some summer frolicking. I can't really remember the last time I celebrated Australia Day as an adult. When I was a kid, mum and dad use to throw legendary Australia day parties in the back yard. Friends would come in the mid morning and not leave until the wee hours of the evening. Children were all tucked up in bed exhausted with pool hopping, games of cricket and general mucking about while the adults kicked on in the back yard. My sister and I would wake up the next morning to left over pavlova and the classic chocolate mints......the good old days!
The night before Australia day Nic was due home around 11ish so I had to stay awake to let him in- I thought what better time to whip up a pav shell?  Making a pavlova really isn't that hard you just need zero humidity and control of your oven- two things I didn't have.
Sydney is constantly wrapped up in a blanket of humidity and while my gas oven is very good, I am still not to sure of the real temperature as someone has come along and painted on dots to tell me the approximate temperature before 200 degrees. The pavlova turned out fine. Ok so it was browner than I would of liked but the shell was crisp and the middle soft so I went to bed happily knowing I'd at least accomplished one task.
Waking up the next morning I had to begin my prep for the rest of the picnic. Chicken wings with a soba noodle salad. I used a favourite marinade of mine- coriander (cilantro) roots and stems pounded with whole white peppercorns, a fresh chilli, garlic, fish sauce and palm sugar. This is a wonderful Thai style marinade that works beautifully every time. Although I do have good little eaters, Max and Alex are not interested in this, so I marinated their wings in Chinese black vinegar, honey, garlic and soy sauce, this marinade is a family favourite and works every time, the wings get all brown and sticky and you can't help but lick your fingers even after the wings are all gone.
The soba noodle salad is a wonderful, easy, healthy and delicious salad to whip up. I first got shown this salad by a fabulous chef I use to work for- Anthony Green who is now part owner of Fabulous fine foods  in Melbourne. We use to whip up batches of this salad and finish it with sweet soy and black sesame seeds- crowds would devour it in seconds. My version was slightly different but the concept is still the same- quick and flavoursome.
Once you have cooked the noodles (following packet instructions), strain and toss through sesame oil. I use about 1 tablespoon per two bunches of noodles. Pop in the fridge to cool while you prepare the salad of cherry tomatoes, ripped mint and coriander (cilantro) leaves, spring onions, chopped shittake mushrooms- (I soak these but I'll let you in on that tomorrow) and shredded snow peas.
When all your ingredients are ready combine with noodles, pour on some sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), toss and serve.

Within two hours I had a delicious picnic ready to go. A friend from Melbourne was up so we headed down to the beach for a wonderful day of sun and surf. The picnic was devoured in seconds while the sun burn still lingers on but hey, we got out there showed the kids a true Aussie tradition of making the most out of your public holiday and now it is back to business, school uniforms to buy, work to be done and leftover pav to be consumed for breakfast!


Bryan said...

Looks beautiful! I love a good picnic! We are in the middle of that snow, ice season here so I really miss it. That Soba noodle salad is going on for the summer.

TKW said...

Dreaming of summer weather over here while I watch the snow fall...

I love that noodle salad, and the pavlova is a show-stopper!

Camilla Baker said...

Thanks guys, it's a bit rude to show off our summer while you are all buried in snow- dare I say I actually do miss the snow?