Saturday, March 11, 2006

A low-key lunch

It was quiet at work yesterday, so I thought I’d better get started on my pledge to assault my friends with invitations to eat. I messaged Mark…

Yo. U free tomorrow? Wanna come over and eat lunch? Nothing special or fancy. (Seriously)

He was free, and he did want lunch.

Later that night, we caught each other online…

Sarah says:
Hey, u like prawns yeah?
Cos i'm thinking either steak or prawns but steak is dependent on my finding tarragon at safeway tomorrow

Mark says:
u are FUNNY

Sarah says:

Mark says:
"low key lunch"
in ur words i believe
and now its turned into surf or turf!

Sarah says:
nah it's low key because the COOKING is easy
in fact, i could probably just sit back and make you cook the lunch...

Mum and I went to Box Hill this morning, and based on the available ingredients, this is what I cooked for lunch. (Sadly, I couldn’t bring myself to force Mark to cook the lunch).

292. Mashed potatoes, truffle oil and warm Santa Barbara shrimp (Basics etc.)
293. Baked figs (Fast Food)

The prawn dish (in Australia, “shrimps” are miniature prawns) is inspired by one that Nigella once ate at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Simply, it comprises whipped potatoes, topped with barely poached tiger prawns and drizzled with truffle oil. Easy. The recipe appears in the "Freezer" section of the Basics etc. chapter, and is one reason why we should all keep raw tiger prawns in our freezer.

The figs need 15 minutes in the oven, so I put them in just as we were sitting to down to lunch. What you do is arrange the figs in a dish, “cut each one as if in quarters, only leaving the base intact”, and then pour over a syrup made of honey, red wine, cardamom pods and butter. From here they go into the oven.

raw ficchi

And then we ate!

sarah & markii

This dish was really nice, and an unusual combination. I would never have thought that simply pairing mashed potatoes and prawns would result in such a satisfying and complete meal. The final drizzle of oil does help, though. (I used a combination of extra virgin olive oil and truffle oil).

After lunch, my mum took all the leftover prawn heads and shells and used them to make a fragrant, vibrantly orange stock.

Now, dessert. I was a bit apprehensive about the baked figs, for two reasons. First, I’d never eaten cooked figs before. Whilst, nominally, they seemed very appealing, I was unsure about how I’d react to the actual taste. Second, the wine-cardamom-honey combination was used in the baked wine spiced plums, which I didn’t really like.

But I needn’t have worried. These figs were fabulous. Check out Mum and Mark’s reactions after I put the figs down on the table.

yum! figs!

The syrup was absolutely lovely, and after eating dessert, Mum suggested that we go out and buy more figs (at $9.99 a kilo!) just to use it all up. It was also a great light dessert, considering the warm weather and the heavy mash that preceded it.


I served it, as Nigella insists, with Greek yogurt. I do love that authentic Greek taste. The creamily tangy yogurt is the perfect foil for the soft and sweet figs.

Yumm close up

We finished the meal with coffee…

It was a lovely warm and sunny day today, the cooking was easy, and the company was (as always) lovely. What a fab lunch!

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