Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Treats from Canals!

I am not by nature an early riser but one of the the things that I like to do to pamper myself on a Saturday morning is roll out of bed and head off to do shopping at Piedimonte's. This means that I can bring home a freshly baked almond croissant for breakfast. Sometimes I go slightly further afield to Canals in Nicholson St, the best fish shop in Melbourne.

Today I had a craving to cook a sardine recipe based on one by Lorenza di Medici but I wasn’t sure whether sardines were around. It was very cold and raining but I got myself out of bed and to Piedimonte’s, and thence to Canals. And guess what was in the Canals window? Filleted and flattened sardines just like I wanted! I was also tempted by the Pacific oysters and cooked prawns as I waited my turn. So I went away satisfied!

After I dropped off flowers to a friend for her birthday and devoured the almond croissant, housework and fighting with my modem intervened. Lunch was my reward (even though there was plenty more housework and I still couldn’t get a connection on the modem): Philippa’s luscious green olive bread with the oysters and prawns and lime juice. I normally use lemon but had been given some limes. The lime juice added a great touch, as I fought off the kokkinaki from the seafood. The greedy aspraki was asleep near the heater and missed the battle.

And the sardines? I wanted to cook an old favourite which involves baking the sardines with breadcrumbs, oil, orange juice, pinenuts and currants. There were a couple of obstacles. First, the pottery dish I have always used had cracked and was unusable for baking. Second, I couldn’t find the Lorenza di Medici recipe book anywhere amongst my cookbooks. I didn’t need the recipe book to cook the sardines but, so that I could discuss it here, I wanted to see what her recipe involved as opposed to mine which I know I have varied from Lorenza’s. Finding another dish proved less of an obstacle than finding Lorenza di Medici’s The Renaissance of Italian cooking which remains mislaid.

Hmm! After a good start my Saturday was not going well: broken dish, lost cook book, no internet connection and an overwhelming amount of housework. Use another dish, just cite the recipe book as a source, start inputting my blog post in Word for uploading later (@#$% internet connection), and do more housework (or put on my raincoat and go for a walk in the beautiful rain).

Things didn't get better. The modem was on its last legs so I dashed out to buy a replacement and still the washing wasn't done! And when I started cooking the sardines the quantities were not quite right for the dish I was using and required a bit of playing with quantities. However, the final product was delicious and well worth the effort. And the new modem is still working and the first load of washing is completed!

Baked Sardines with breadcrumbs and orange juice

12 sardines (headed, filleted and flattened)
3 heaped tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon currants
1 tablespoon pinenuts
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees. Place the sardines in a circular arrangement in a round dish that is suitable for oven to table use. Sprinkle the currants over. Add breadcrumbs. Pour on orange juice to cover and dash with olive oil. Toss pinenuts on top. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Serves four as an entree and two as a main meal. For a main meal serve with salad or vegetables.

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