Monday 25th September – Aussie Dinner

The only thing on the agenda today was cooking. Peter had cleared the kitchen for us, we were taking over his territory for the day. I had a vague plan in my head of what had to happen and a very dedicated Su chef who was willing to follow my every word. After our usual breakfast, we got started.

The Menu
Appetiser – Guacamole Pie (my Mother’s specialty)
Main – Meat Pie with Chips and Salad
Dessert – Phoenix Pavlova
Backup Dessert – Lamingtons

I got the meat pie mix going while Dan used the sponge cake to make lamingtons. He cut the cake in half, then coated both sides in strawberry jam. He then whipped up some cream and put it between the two halves. Debbie was feeling much better and joined us in the kitchen, sitting at the bench keeping us company as we cooked up a storm.

When the meat pie mixture was done, I instructed Dan on making a chocolate sauce and grinding up some coconut for the lamington icing. He worked away without needing much input from me – the perfect helper. I procrastinated my next task by doing some washing up then, when I couldn’t delay any longer, I started on the Pavlova. Pavs scare me because they are hard to get right and require lots of patience and a good oven. I definitely had the latter but wasn’t so sure about the former.

While Dan took a break, I got whipping on some egg whites, carefully adding the sugar once they were at the right consistency. My arm was buggered by the end of it, having had to hold the beater for so long. I arranged the white goodness onto a baking tray then put it in the preset oven.

Time for a break, we walked away from the kitchen a while to reset and have lunch. We watched some late night comedy on TV while we shared a ham and cheese wrap. Just as the pavlova was getting to the done stage, we got started on the pastry for the pies. We worked together on the first batch so Dan could learn the consistency needed for a good shortcrust. We did a couple of batches of shortcrust, then worked together to make a cheat’s puff pastry.

With the pastry setting in the fridge, Dan chopped up the potatoes for our chips while I prepped the salad and ingredients for the guacamole pie. When the pastry was ready, we worked together again to form the pies in our dishes. Dan had a go at rolling but it didn’t work out so well since I put too much flour down on the bench. I had another go at reforming the dough while Dan pushed the pastry into the base of the pie dishes. We got a system going before long ad our last couple of pie bases were the best. Dan spooned the meat mixture into the prepared bases now while I rolled out the puff pastry. I provided him with perfect circle tops and he did a sweet job of forming them onto the top of the pies. We’d made a perfect amount of dough, only having a tiny bit left to make an experimental sweet pastry.

With the pies done, our jobs in the kitchen were done for the day. Now we just had to wait for Peter and Debbie to come home and we would put on the dinner. It had taken us most of the day but it had been easy work, especially with the two of us. With the lovely temperature from the sun, I found my way out to the sunning lounges by the pool and stretched out. Dan soon joined me and so did Cleo. If only the weather was this perfect all the time in Phoenix.

We found out Debbie was going to be late home so I proposed a board game and Dan came through with Cranium. We made up our own rules, moving around the board playing charades and giving each other “true or false” questions. It was enough to keep us entertained until we heard the garage door open, Signifying that Debbie was home. With that warning, we hopped to it.

While Dan started frying up the wedges, we started the pies in the oven and I assembled the guacamole pie. The appetiser only took a few minutes and we ate it in the kitchen with some taco chips while Dan was still frying. Everyone agreed it was delicious and I finally understood why this was my Mum’s favourite thing to contribute to parties. It was demolished in minutes.

Twenty minutes later, Peter, Debbie, Dan and I all sat down at the set table with a plate of meat pie, salad and chips in front of us. We toasted with stubbies of Coopers and glasses of Jacob’s Creek wine to all the good times we’d had since meeting and dug into our food.

he commendations came flowing out of my American parents pretty soon and I kept my tough criticisms to myself. Honestly, I was pretty happy with how everything turned out. Us girls couldn’t finish our plates, but the boys mostly cleaned theirs. We chatted at the table a long while, sipping our drinks until Peter retired to the TV for an NFL game.

Dessert was served on the couches and on Dan’s suggestion, instead of dressing the whole Pavlova, we cut it into slices then added the fruit and sauce. I’d used strawberries, golden kiwis and mango for the orange and red colours that are so common of Phoenix and pureed a few of them up as a sauce. No one in the house had heard of a Pavlova before yesterday and it was a hit. Peter labelled it a very ambitious dessert and commended me for it. I told him it was the least I could do considering all the beautiful food he’d cooked while I’d stayed there.

After dessert, Debbie instructed us to remain seated as she cleaned up what was left of the dishes and we graciously did so. I’d gotten into our second bottle of Aussie wine called 19 Crimes and was loving it. With our bellies full of food, we went to bed sure we wouldn’t be looking for breakfast in the morning.

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