Seeing as you’re only 17 months old, you won’t be aware that Ella the Wonderdog has an inverted vulva.
You also won’t know what a vulva is and I have no intention of explaining it here except to say that when a dog’s vulva is inverted it sometimes involves ointment (or Vulvalene, as one of your Mum’s exes once put it).
We’re going through an ointment stage at the moment and for the first time EVER, I’m not the one pulling on the rubber gloves twice a day.
Yes. Your Grandpa is applying ointment to the dog’s bum.
As rarities go, this is on a par with unicorn sightings.
Sometimes I have to lie down just so I can grasp the enormity of it all.
Anyway, here’s another picture of Ella looking at some Salmon Puffs.
It was taken ages ago when we lived in North Perth.
I’ve been making Salmon Puffs since your Mum and Uncle Paul were little kids.
They love them and so does your Grandpa.
I love them too but they give me crippling heartburn, so I had to take a break until a nice Swiss drug baron invented Somac and changed my life.
I also make these pies with chopped-up leftover chicken and – for me at least – they are heartburn free.
The original Salmon Puff recipe was copied from a magazine (I can’t remember which one) about 25 years ago.
It contained two tablespoons of canned green peppercorns. So 1980s.
Feel free to add them back in if you like living on the edge.
Makes 6 pies
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
¾ cup milk
¼ cup salmon liquid from the can
a few grinds of black pepper
415g can John West red salmon
3 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Melt the butter over low heat, add the onion and cook until it’s soft but not coloured.
Stir in the flour and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the milk and salmon liquid, grind in some pepper and cook, stirring, until it boils and thickens.
Leave until cold then fold in the drained, flaked salmon and mash it in well with a fork.
Defrost the puff pastry sheets for 5 minutes then cut each into quarters so you have 12 equal squares.
If you want, flute the top of six of the squares with a blunt knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way through the pastry. Poke a hole in the middle.
Divide the salmon mixture evenly between the six remaining squares, brush the edges with beaten egg, top with the fluted squares and press down well to seal.
Place a Chinese bowl (about 12cm diameter) over the top of each pie and cut around it.
Put the pies on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush the tops with beaten egg.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.
You can put all sorts of fillings in these pies, so long as they’re not sloppy.
Because there’s only your Grandpa and me and we’re leg and thigh people, the chicken breast is always left over when I roast a chook.
So I make this same white sauce, using one cup of milk and leaving out the salmon liquid.
Then I take the skin off the breast, chop the meat into small cubes and stir it through the white sauce with some seeded mustard and chopped parsley or with just a bit of chopped thyme.
It’s very nice indeed.
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
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.
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
Donna Donna ho
Hey DH, DH
Can I use crème fraiche?
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
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.