Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Kids weekend seafood fiesta

After 3 solid weeks of winter illness that knocked a couple of us flat (Mr.9 and me) I am back!!

I realised how attached I have become to my blog in such a short time!  I have really missed writing it......happy to be back in action!

Towards the end of last week Mr.11 asked Hubby G to go to the market.  We live in Melbourne and are so lucky to be blessed with several fantastic fresh food markets.  But Queen Vic Market was on Mr.11's mind.

Hubby G used to treat us all with his weekly dawn trip to "the Vic".  It was like winning the lottery for me every Saturday morning.  He hasn't been doing it for a while but Mr.11's request has him back in the swing!

He would dissappear in the dark with his double trolley to fill it with wonderful loveliness of all sorts. When he came home, the kids and I would eagerly await what treasures he had found for us all hidden in lovely crunchy brown paper bags!  Then I would busy myself with ideas about what to do with all of our bounty.  My idea of heaven!

I just loved the surprise of finding out what I would have to play with that week! A bit like a mystery box challenge really- only without the judges breathing down your neck and with time on my side to do a bit of research!

 So it was here that Mr.11 wanted to accompany his dad.  

Shopping without a list is not for everyone- as a tragic bargain queen from way back I love it!!  I am happy to make something up from what I have available and take great joy in 'buying a bargain'.  Equally there is nothing at all wrong in shopping with a list.

Mr.11 loves to have a list.  He was ready armed with his list to cook - OCTOPUS! That was what he really wanted to cook.  And I certainly wasn't about to argue! Funnily enough in the midst of Mr.9's terrible illness two weeks ago he asked me if "we had any octopus?"- as you do! I don't know what it is with my kids and octopus.....

Mr. 11 had done some research and found a recipe for Octopus cooked in red wine- which my lads renamed 'SQUIDWARD STEW' - being big fans of Spongebob Squarepants obviously.  The recipe looked great- simple ingredients, simple method and we chatted about how we could make it even simpler.  It was a one pot wonder- MY FAVOURITE!

So off trotted my little piggies to market to market to buy a baby octopus........

They came home with beautiful bounty! A kilo of beautiful opalescent baby octopus, some beautiful fresh whole sardines (more on that later......), one bulging ruby pomegranate- just because we love them, some beautiful puy lentils , fetta cheese, some glorious blue cheese (surprising tasted and chosen by Mr.11) and some amazing fresh organic Royal Gala apples and some fresh bread from Franks bakery. So so good. Simple, delicious, quality fresh produce.  That's what it's all about.    And although these are beautiful exotic seeming ingredients- the seafood was well below $10 per kilo each- you can't buy any meat for less than that, so we weren't talking about bank breaking eating here- just delicious and unusual.

So Mr.11 was keen to get started.  He read the recipe through and get out what he needed.  For my kids cooking I usually always replace the bit where it says - finely chopped/diced onion- with an instruction to 'blitz baby blitz'!  It takes away the problem of finely diced fingers being added to your beautiful food and it is just as effective- if not more!  SO when you read that in any of my recipes for kids you can assume we are doing a 'blitz baby blitz'!

So here is the recipe.  I can say it was an ABSOLUTE pleasure to watch him cook so confidently and competently! And the result was DIVINE!


What you will need:

  • 1kg baby octopus (make sure they are debeaked before cooking)
  • couple of tablespoons on olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups of red wine
  • 1/4cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato passata or equivalent canned chopped toms
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp sugar

Firstly 'bltiz baby blitz' the onions, garlic and fresh herbs.  So easy!!!! You may never fine dice again!

Mr. 11 harvested the herbs fresh from the garden- these are added into the blitz mix.

Add olive oil to heavy based pan.
Add blitzed mix.
Stir till caramelized slightly.

Then add baby octopus and stir.

Cook for a couple of minutes and then add all other ingredients.

 And then stir with love- it makes it taste better I promise!

 Simmer gently for 2 hours- or until octopus is tender.  Mr. 11 left it for 3 hours- just to be sure!

And the final dish was mindblowingly DELISH!!!!
Check it out!!!!

 My sole contribution was a salad.  I used the puy lentils, pomegranate and fetta cheese together with coarsely chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and loads of basil.  Then tossed it all with a dijon mustard vinaigrette.  It went very well with the unctuous rich octopus as it was crunchy and fresh.

We also served it with HAIRY MASH- our family term for mashed potatoes cooked and smashed with the skins on.

What a meal! SO I dare you to get your kids in the kitchen. Mr.11 has only been cooking for a couple of years and that is what he can do- if he can you can too!

I'm happy that my kids are growing up understanding about where food comes from and how to treat it with love.  Cooking for them is exciting and fun and through it their palates have become quite adventurous.  And their very busy mumma gets to have a bit of a break and enjoy the fruits of their labour- I ain't gonna argue with that!

Next time I will tell you what Mr.9 and Mr.7 did with the whole fresh Sardines......AMAZING!

And to cook with love you need to be listening to music you love- Mr. 11 chose....

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