Birthday Feast

It was Mr.’s Birthday yesterday, and in honor of the occasion, I made a fancy-pants dinner. I decide I could fit it in with the theme of the week, and create a ‘Modern Australian’ feast.

Modern Australian is basically jut modern restaurant food – either the use of native foods, traditional food with different ingredients, or fusions of other cuisines. Think wattleseed cake, pear, beetroot and cheese in salad, or quinoa with citrus and tofu.

The plan was to make: olives, olive oil and bread; asparagus with lemon myrtle dressing; stuffed mushrooms on mountain pepper potato rosti; macadamia-crusted smoked tofu with a pumpkin, leek and eggplant medley;  panna cotta with rosella coulis.

I ended up changing it a little, as I couldn’t find any rosella or jam thereof, I didn’t feel like eggplant, and I had a tamarillo to use, so i made a sauce and didn’t stuff the mushrooms. In the end, the menu looked like this:

  • Parmesan bread with olives
  • Asparagus with lemon myrtle dressing
  • Grilled mushrooms on potato and parsnip rosti with tamarillo sauce
  • Macadamia-crusted smoked tofu with a pumpkin, leek and capsicum medley
  • Almond panna cotta with berry compote

It all turned out yum, with the panna cotta and potato rosti with mushrooms being the favourites. The tamarillo sauce was tart and tangy, but went well with the more sedated rosti and subtle mushrooms. The panna cotta fell apart, as I didn’t give it long enough to set up, but tasted divine. The lemon myrtle dressing was a little too tangy for me, but mr loved it.

I enjoyed using some new ingredients  – lemon myrtle and tamarillos are new to me – and it was fun to play with some “Aussie” ingredients.

And now for the recipes and photos! I just made these up on the spot, but here’s an idea of what I did.

Olives and Parmesan bread

This is just bread slices in the grill, then brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with vegan parmaggiano.

Asparagus and Lemon Myrtle Dressing

  • Asparagus spears, steamed
  • 1 tbs Tofutti cream cheese
  • 1 tbs Plamil vegan mayo
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (I’ll leave that out next time though)
  • About 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon myrtle (i used dried and powdered).

Place all ingredients except asparagus into a small frying pan. Stir with a wooden spoon, removing and lumps by pressing with the spoon. Over low heat continue to stir until sauce is warm and homogenous-looking. Spoon over asparagus and serve.

Parsnip and Potato Rosti

  • 2 potatoes
  • 1/2 a parsnip (the large end)
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbs olive oil, for frying

Place the whole potatoes and parsnip into a pot of boiling water. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove, and allow to cool completely. Once cool, grate the potatoes and parsnip into a small bowl. Add pepper, yeast, and any other flavourings. Mix with fingers until combined. Shape into balls with hands, and flatten into patties (I made two large ones, but you could make smaller patties). In a wok or frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the patties and fry, over medium heat, until the bottom is golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Turn over gently, and repeat on the other side.

I served this with basic cooked mushrooms.

Tamarillo Sauce

  • 1 tamarillo, chopped finely, skin on
  • 1 tomato, chopped finely
  • pinch cayenne pepper (i really mean just a tiny bit)

In a small saucepan, add all ingredients. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Serve.

You could add various flavours to this. It would go well with a little pomegranate syrup, some lime leaf, or a little mango chutney. If your tamarillo isn’t ripe it may require some added sugar. The sauce is very tart, but that’s how its supposed to be.

Macadamia crusted tofu

  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamias
  • 4 smoked tofu ‘steaks’, about 8cm x 4cm x 0.7cm
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs corn flour
  • 1 tbs non dairy milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. In a small bowl, mix macadamias and pepper. In another, very small bowl, mix the cornflour and milk until there are no lumps. Place the tofu on baking paper on a baking tray (the baking paper is really essential here). Brush the tops of the tofu with the cornflour mixture. it should be about 1-2ml thick on the top. Cover with the macadamia mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Gently place steaks onto plates. Serve with vegetables (i used stir-fried pumpkin, leek and green capsicum, with no sauce).

Almond panna cotta

  • 1 tsp agar agar
  • 20 ml boiling water
  • 250 ml almond milk
  • 125 g soy yoghurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • contents of 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/6 cup sugar

In a cup, add agar agar to boiling water, and stir to begin dissolving. Add all other ingredients to a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, until it feels almost hot to the touch. Add the agar and water. Continue to heat, stirring until the mixture almost boils (it should have movement on the surface, but no big bubbles). Remove from heat and pour into ramekins. Allow to cool on bench, then refridgerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, turn desserts out of the ramekins, onto plates. Serve with berry compote – I used frozen berries, left in a bowl to defrost for 2 hours, with 1 tbs sugar and 1 tbs water.

Mine fell apart, as mentioned above, but I have since updated the, you know, don’t let this image scare you off giving it a go 🙂


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Hannah says:

    If only I’d known (and we lived near each other…) I could have given you the Rosella jam in my fridge! Love the vegna panna cotta recipe – bookmarked!

    1. Keira says:

      Yum, thanks for the thought :). Did you make it or buy it? I’ve been on the lookout for a while, but haven’t found any.

      1. Hannah says:

        Bought: this is the one we have It has a “where to find” link, although interestingly ACT isn’t on it, so apparently I found it via magic! 😉

      2. Keira says:

        Yup, that’s the one I was looking for, but couldn’t find in any of the shops near me. I’ll just have to keep looking…. maybe some magic will happen here, too 🙂

  2. Hannah says:

    *vegan. Silly me.

  3. Johanna says:

    I always think that modern Australian food is fusion food – we do East meets West well! Great birthday menu. That tofu looks excellent!

  4. Carla says:

    this looks FREAKING BRILLIANT!! as a side note… its nice to see someone else with a large format layout! xo

    1. Keira says:

      Thanks, both of you

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