It’s Challenge Day– Don’t Freekah Out….

Sorry about the bad pun, but there’s no need to Freekah out about this challenge…. Coogee is apparently a Freekah free suburb, so we’re already off to a bad start.  No Freekah in Randwick yesterday either.  Don’t get me started on a rant about Coogee, because 90% of the time it’s ok, but every now and again it lets me down and I miss Thomas Dux, and I miss living in the city.  We’re not going to go there today-  we won’t talk about the illegal hostel next door with loud backpackers or the fact that earlier this week there was not a black bean in sight or the lack of parking.  We’re going to ignore the fact that for the second time this week, not a single store in Randwick or Coogee had what I needed and think positively- Our local Maloney’s normally has lots of lovely, special, gourmet ingredients (and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream- even though they are $13 a pint) and generally speaking I can find what I need in Maloney’s or in Randwick….not so with Freekah, not so today.    Grrrrr.  Annoying!  OH well, no need to freekah out completely, according to Google I can substitute buckwheat, cous cous or bulghur which is what I’ll do, but I am slightly bummed about it.  Oh well, the challenge is on!

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I start with the “Tabbouleh” with Preserved Lemon, very easy, and actually much quicker since I’m using Buckwheat which takes 20 minutes roughly to cook instead of Freekah which takes 50. Image

It’s all very easy, the buckwheat is washed and then put into boiling water to simmer covered for 20 minutes, and in the mean time I chop parsley and coriander in my handy Tupperware easy chopper.  (No, I’m not sponsored by Tupperware, but I am a big fan of a few of their products!)  I measure 40g of raisins and dump them into a bowl with the coriander and parsley.  I then grab a quarter of a preserved lemon, which I’ve actually never cooked with before.  I turn to the note on p.140 for helpful hints, and then I realise that p.140 is a recipe in the lemon chapter for making my own preserved lemons….  Really George and Gary?  Really????  Do people do things like this?  Preserve their own lemons?  Did George and Gary really think this would come in handy for people?  Does anyone who bought this cookbook think   “Great, preserved lemons, a really handy recipe for future use”—yeah right, I can’t imagine any situation where I would preserve my own lemons,  not when I can buy a whole jar for like $5 even in Coogee.

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So the tabouleh is mostly done except for combining everything and waiting 13 more minutes for the buckwheat to cook.  Onto the broccoli and egg….

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A special note on Broccoli.  Broccoli and I are not best friends, we’re not even mates, we sort of stare at each other from across the room and give each other the evil eye.   On the other hand, The Mom and broccoli are BFFs.  In fact, The Mom might even own shares in broccoli or sit on The Broccoli Appreciation Board, she loves it so much.  I rarely, if ever, eat broccoli as an adult, probably because I was force fed it at least 5 or 6 times a week growing up.   Ok, I exaggerate slightly, it probably wasn’t that often, maybe only 3-4 times a week, possibly only 1 or 2, but it felt like more.  A lot more.  The Mom LOVES broccoli, I remember being 4 or maybe 5 years old and being forced to eat broccoli for dinner and getting in trouble with my babysitter because I spat it out into my napkin, because as vegetables go, it’s a bit gross.  Yes, it looks like a tree, yes it’s harmless enough, unlike other vegetables like beetroot, yuck but it’s not in my top 5 vegetables…  Artichokes, Asparagus, Zucchini, Corn, and peas—those are all fantastic vegetables….. Broccoli?? Not so much.   Anyway…..I digress, but the 4 or 5 year old me sitting at the table staring down at the rainbow shag carpet crying and not wanting to eat another spec of broccoli has still not made peace with broccoli and generally speaking doesn’t let the 32 year old me buy it, cook it or eat it in most circumstances.  Broccoli and I have had a love-hate relationship for years.   The Mom loves it, I hate it.  Without a doubt, there is broccoli in The Mom’s fridge right now ready to be steamed and eaten, and for one of the only times in my adult life, there is broccoli in my house about to be cooked….

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I pretty much know this escapade is going to end in tears already, not just because of the broccoli but because the first step is to put the broiler on a high heat.  Our wonky oven door which has been broken since November could be on its last legs and could be the undoing of me today….  I’m also going to bake/broil the lamb which could also end in tears for the same reason but let’s just keep our fingers crossed for the moment…

The lamb I’m hoping will cook itself- it’s in a dish with salt and pepper, cinnamon and vanilla balsamic, and rosemary and oregano olive oil and a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary.  I’ve also worked out the exact place to put the kitchen step so that the wonky door can semi rest on it, thus reducing (or increasing) the likelihood of a serious accident.  Just ignore the sound of the other door hinge about to give out every time I open the oven door.

I throw the lamb in for about 20 minutes and while I do that I start the broccoli concoction.  It’s pretty straight forward.  I dice the onion and sauté for about 7 minutes, and then add bacon.  That cooks for a couple of minutes and then I put the dreaded broccoli in to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Everything is fine, but of course this is when the doorbell rings.   I believe there are laws of entertaining, and one of them is that inevitably everyone will arrive at the same time that there’s loads to be done.    Tonight was no exception, literally just as everything needed to be sautéed, stirred, etc. people turned up!  For once in my life, I was ahead of schedule (very rare) and when the doorbell rang, I was only one step from being ready.  I just had to separate the egg and whack the broccoli with the egg under the broiler….that and chop and macerate the strawberries for dessert.    The broccoli and egg was actually really easy to make and quite tasty considering it was broccoli!

Overall, I would make both dishes again, and possibly even branch out into other things from the book.  Both recipes were really easy to follow and not nearly as intimidating as first imagined.    Even the broccoli wasn’t half bad!  Granted, I didn’t make my own preserved lemons, but still, it was pretty easy, simple and not confusing.  Dessert was simple, although The Runner wasn’t convinced on it, Store bought meringue with strawberries soaked in balsamic vinegar, blueberries, and cream.  I loved it.  We served wine from the Hunter Valley with dinner, Ballabourneen’s Three Amigos and Tintilla’s 2011 Sapphira Sangiovese.

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