PRAWNS THE SECOND WAY

Dear Amelia,
More prawns! It’s the promised second recipe and it’s called Prawn and Prosciutto Ravioli.
I suppose it’s really a special-occasion dish because even though it’s not difficult, it does involve a bit of faffing around.
It’s also a Nanna creation, in that I combined about four different recipe ideas.
The garlic butter recipe is pinched from a top New Zealand chef called Adam Newell, who has won a Michelin star for his restaurant, Zibibbo.
Like all celebrity chefs worth their salt, Adam has an “absolute passion for food”.
At least that’s what it says on the fly-leaf of his cookbook, A Consuming Passion, which was given to me by your Great Uncle Gerard and his partner, Mignon, and is an excellent read.
In case you’re thinking of being a celebrity chef when you grow up, I should warn you that you will have to have “an absolute passion for food” every minute of every single day.
When you’re a celebrity chef, you’re never allowed to say things like, “I’m really tired and I couldn’t give a shit about the confit.”
Or, “Fuck seasonality. I want to eat strawberries in winter.”
You’re only allowed to say things like that when you’re like me and all you want to do is cook something nice, then eat it, then fall asleep in front of the telly.
A word on pasta machines.
I bought one 10 years ago and have never used it.
So, every time a chef on TV uses one to make pasta, your Grandpa says, “There’s a good idea, Michele. Why don’t you buy one of those?”
He thinks this is funny, but after 10 years it’s wearing a bit thin.
So I’ve decided that when I do use the pasta machine for the first time, I’m going to put your Grandpa’s fingers through the rollers.
In the meantime, I make ravioli with those wonton wrappers you buy in Chinese supermarkets (or, if you live in Albany, at Mariella’s Deli).
For this recipe I use the round gyoza skins so you get a nice half-moon shape, but if you can’t get hold of any, just use the square wonton wrappers and fold them into a triangle.
The ravioli are dead easy to make and just about everything is done in a food processor.
You can also make the garlic butter a day or even a week ahead.

PRAWN AND PROSCIUTTO RAVIOLI

Makes about 32 (enough for 4-6 people)

For the garlic butter (don’t panic, you won’t use all of this)
100g butter, softened
100ml extra virgin olive oil
handful flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
For the ravioli
Packet of gyoza skins or wonton wrappers
500g raw king prawns, peeled
50g prosciutto (about 4 slices), chopped
1 spring onion
salt and pepper
Other stuff
20 or so grape tomatoes (Nanna grows her own)
Another handful of parsley, chopped finely

To make the garlic butter, put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is chopped.
You won’t use all the garlic butter, so put what’s left in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
It will keep for a couple of weeks and is great for garlic bread or on top of spuds or barbecued steak or fish.
To make the ravioli, wipe out the food processor bowl and drop in the prawn flesh and chopped prosciutto.
Pulse it until it’s all chopped up.
Finely chop the spring onions and mix them into the prawn mixture along with a little salt and pepper.
Fill a big pot with salted water and bring it to the boil while you’re assembling the ravioli.
To do this, first put some water in a small bowl.
Next, lay a gyoza skin on your chopping board and put a heaped teaspoonful of prawn mixture in the middle (see pic at end of recipe).
Dip your finger in the bowl of water, wet around the entire edge of the skin and then fold it over and press the edges together tightly to seal, pressing out any air as you go.
Repeat until all the prawn mixture is used up.
Cook the ravioli in the pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes.
While they’re cooking, fry the tomatoes in a big frypan in a little of the garlic butter.
When the ravioli are cooked, fish them out with a slotted spoon and put them in the frypan with the tomatoes, along with as much of the garlic butter as you think your arteries will stand (basically you need just enough to coat the ravioli).
Heat everything up for a couple of minutes then serve in big bowls sprinkled with the extra chopped parsley.
This is really nice eaten with broccolini.

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DONNA HAY, SUPERSTAR

Dear Amelia,
I recently saw a restaurant menu that listed a dish called Prawns Two Ways.
In our house that would mean putting them in your mouth with your right hand AND your left, which we usually do anyway because we love prawns your Grandpa and I.
But it made me think that I should give you two of my favourite prawn recipes.
They’re my favourites because they both involve enough butter to harden every single artery in your body by bedtime, which is why they taste so good.
The first is a recipe for Garlic and Tarragon Prawns that I came across in a Donna Hay magazine I was reading at the hairdressers.
I didn’t feel comfortable tearing it out because I knew I’d probably get caught, so I had to hunt around town for my own copy.
It was in the 10th Anniversary edition, which unfortunately was sold out, but on the up side I now know exactly how many newsagents there are in our little corner of the Great Southern.
I eventually found the mag for free, would you believe, as part of a Donna Hay app for the iPad.
It was obviously in my stars that this recipe and I should be together so I cooked it for all of us for Christmas lunch while you were sitting in your high chair pushing bits of banana in your ear.
The prawns were so totally amazing that despite the fact I think Donna Hay looks disturbingly like Neil Perry (could they be the same person, do you think?), I wrote this grovelling little song for her.
You have to sing it to the tune of Hosanna, one of the hit songs from that old musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.
If you want to check out the original on YouTube, you’ll find it here.

Donna Hay Superstar
Ho Donna
Hey Donna
Donna Donna ho
Donna Hay
Donna ho
Don-naaaa
Hey DH, DH
Can I use crème fraiche?
Donna ho
Donna Hay
Superstar
I was telling a friend in Perth that I was cooking the prawns again on the weekend and she said, “You’re turning the OVEN on? TOMORROW? Are you INSANE?”
Seeing as the summer temperatures here in the deep south are always somewhere between marvellous and exceptional, I’d forgotten it’s so hot in Perth at the moment you could fry an egg on Eric Ripper’s head.
So I reckon if you’re suffering through a heatwave you could always cook the prawns in the garlic butter in a frypan instead of baking them (OK, you’d still have to turn on the oven to roast the garlic but it’s a small price to pay for such deliciousness).
By the way, I grow my own tarragon because that’s what Nannas do.
Feel free to substitute the dried variety, I’m sure it would be fine.

GARLIC AND TARRAGON PRAWNS

Serves 4

1 head garlic, unpeeled
1 tbsp olive oil
60g butter, softened
4 or 5 sprigs of French tarragon, chopped
1 tsp Spencer’s crushed chilli/dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste
24 raw king prawns, peeled, with tails intact
lemon wedges to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C.
If you’ve forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge, microwave it for 10-15 seconds to make it soft.
Place the garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with the oil and roast it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft when squeezed.
While the garlic is roasting, butterfly the prawns by cutting down their backs (but not all the way through) and removing those stringy bits that are their intestinal tracts.
Spread the prawns out flat and put them in a single layer in a big shallow roasting pan (see pic at end of recipe).
When the garlic is cooked, increase the oven temperature to 220C.
Slice the top from the garlic bulb and squeeze the roasted garlic from each clove into a bowl.
Add the butter, tarragon, chilli, salt and pepper and mash everything together with a fork.
Top each butterflied prawn with some of the garlic butter and roast for about 8 minutes until cooked through.
Serve with lemon wedges.


CHANNELING ELVIS: SPINE CHILLING

Dear Amelia,
Down here in the land of purple utes and visible bum cracks, Australia Day celebrations are taken very seriously.
You’re buggered unless you have at least two Australian flags attached to your car roof, four cartons of Crownies in the boot and a Staffie whose upper body is hanging out the car window.
If you don’t own a Staffie and can’t borrow one from a mate, you could probably avoid being called a poofter by having Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh blasting out of your car radio while you lay some rubber in the Middleton Beach car park.
Or, if you’re looking for something slightly more sophisticated, you could stay home and make an Echidna Pavlova.
I think every boy and girl should have an Australia Day recipe up his or her sleeve and this Echidna Pav is perfect.
It comes from the book Sheridan Rogers’ Food Year, which is very good but now out of print.
You can visit Sheridan Rogers’ website here.
The pav is supposed to serve 6, but the way I make it, it feeds 35.
This is because it’s so sweet, you can’t eat more than a couple of mouthfuls.
That said, it’s perfect for those Australia Day barbecues where everyone is as smashed as rats and is likely to throw up anyway.
Sheridan Rogers’ version probably isn’t as sweet as mine because she uses fruit (nectarines, apricots or peaches) cut into 5mm batons for the echidna spines.
I used After Dinner Mints – the ones shaped like sticks – because it was easier.
Sheridan doesn’t put eyes on the echidna’s face either but I had some dried cranberries in the pantry and thought what the hell.
Currants or sultanas would be just as good.
Blue M&M’s, I think, would be really special because you could tell people they were a metaphor for our iconic, wide, blue Australian sky.
Very patriotic and less hassle than borrowing a Staffie.

ECHIDNA PAVLOVA

Serves 35 drunk people

4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
400ml thickened cream
box of After Dinner Mint sticks
2 eyes of your choice

Preheat the oven to 120C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until they’re stiff and shiny.
Fold in the rest of the sugar along with the vanilla essence, vinegar and cornflour.
Put dots of this meringue mixture under each of the four corners of the baking paper to “glue” it to the baking tray.
This is so it doesn’t slide around when you’re fashioning the echidna’s body.
Spoon the meringue mixture on to the baking paper in an oval shape, stretching it out at one end to make the pointy echidna face (see picture after the recipe).
Bake it for one hour, then turn the oven off, but leave the pav in the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.
Whip the cream until it is quite stiff. If you don’t, the “spines” will slide off the echidna’s bum.
Put the echidna on a platter, cover it with whipped cream and stick the After Dinner Mint “spines” in the body section.
Place the eyes of your choice on its creepy little face.


A TALE OF TWO NOODLES

Dear Amelia,
I’ve been making Duck Noodles forever.
The recipe is adapted from a Women’s Weekly recipe for Duck Kway Teow, where “kway teow” means “rice noodles” (or if it doesn’t, blame Ask.com).
You can make it in a wok or in a big electric frypan, the electric frypan being useful if you ever have to cook in the spare bedroom for two months because your kitchen has been gutted.
(You may have noticed when you visit that the scent of oyster sauce still lingers around the chest of drawers in your room).
Duck Noodles tastes truly spectacular when you make it with half a roast duck from a Chinese bbq shop, which I can’t do any more because Chinese bbq shops are thin on the ground down here (actually, they’re non-existent).
I use the Luv-a-Duck vacuum packs instead and they work really well, plus they keep in the fridge for months.
Your Grandpa loves Duck Noodles so much, we used to do the 106km-round trip to Denmark (the town, not the country, more’s the pity) to buy the Luv-a-Duck Chinese-style Roast Half Ducks in the supermarket there.
Bloody ridiculous, even for us.
Luckily, you can now get the Luv-a-Duck duck shanks here in Albany, and they’re fine.
If this hadn’t happened, we would’ve had to investigate the wildlife down at Eyre Park.
Yes! The ones you like to feed.

I’ll soon be using Erawan brand dried rice noodles to make this because I can no longer get Wokka vacuum-packed Cantonese flat noodles, which are really quick to prepare AND they actually separate when you pour over boiling water and stir with two forks.
Unfortunately, in keeping with its policy of giving its customers the shits whenever possible, our local Woolies no longer stocks Wokka flat noodles and I’m down to my last packet.
Two words of warning before you go any further: duck farts.

DUCK NOODLES

Serves 3 adults

½ roast duck from a Chinese bbq shop
or
1 Luv-a-Duck Chinese-style Roast Half Duck
or
1 Luv-a-Duck Chinese-style Roast Duck Shanks (2 per pack)
250g dried rice noodles – medium thickness
1 tbsp oil (peanut or vegetable)
1 bunch spring onions
½ bunch English spinach
2 tbsp (40ml) soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp sambal oelek
bunch of chives (optional)

Remove duck meat from bones and slice into smallish bits.
Chop off the top half of the spring onions and put them in the bin. Slice the rest thinly.
Wash the English spinach well and squeeze dry. Bunch the leaves together, roll them up and slice roughly.
Prepare/cook noodles according to packet directions, strain into a colander and rinse under cold running water until cold. Leave them to drain.
Put the soy and oyster sauces, the brown sugar, garlic and sambal oelek into a small bowl and mix well.
Heat the oil in a wok or electric frypan on high heat.
When it’s smoking, add the duck meat and spring onions and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
Next add the spinach and stir-fry until just wilted.
Lower the heat a little and tip in the noodles and the bowlful of sauce ingredients, stirring everything around until it’s combined and nice and hot.
Ladle into bowls and snip chives over the top. Serve immediately.