Saturday, July 4, 2009

Slow cooking with too hot an oven, bad Burgundy and other disasters

Ok - I am a good cook - but not always.

It was slow roasted chicken with grapefruit - but it cooked way too fast. Served normally with polenta except the kid is not so keen on that - so it would have been dutch cream potatos mashed.

Two salads - one blanched beans and dijon mustard and one with rocket parmasan, olive oil and balsamic. Nothing complex.

Roman artichokes like you get in a good provincal restaurant out of Rome or in the Jewish quarter in Rome. I like but the wife does not.

Good meal - but not fantastic. Cooked way too fast.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Fish and Fennel again

I had guests for dinner last night - and apart from a little too much of the Vino (Howard Park Reisling 2001, Mitchell Watervale Reisling 2002) - it went well.

Quite a lot too it - but it presented simply.

Started with the desert (at least I started cooking there). It was quince - six of them - peeled and cored and sliced into segments. Put in bottom of Le Cruset pot. Place a muslin cloth over it - and all the peel and core and two star anise and two cinnimin sticks above. About a cup and a half of dilute sugar syrup. Put on lid. Oven for four hours at 120c.

Yum - and served with store bought ice cream.


Mains was a potato and caremelized onion gratin, fennel in vegetable stock, french beans with mustard and mayonaise.

Prepare the vegies first - and take the scraps and boil them up for a vege stock.

Then caremelize two spanish onions - low low heat and some butter for 45 minutes stiring every 5-10 minutes. They should go brown and not burn.

The beans you top and tail, blanche in boiling water then an ice bath. At the end reheat in some butter serve with mustard and mayonaise. Simple really.

The potatos are peeled and sliced (mandolin time). They are layered with potato and caremelized onion, salt, pepper, more potato, more onion, more potato. Stock in the bottom. Little butter on the top. Browns nicely in oven.

The fennel is prepared and then grilled. It is then baked with the rest of the stock.

The fish done as per the previous recipe - except this fish did not fit in the oven - so the barbeque was used as an oven. Then you can say you are serving barbeque fish - which hardly seems so pretentious.

Good food was had by all.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Barramundi and fennel

Barramundi is an estuary fish from Northern Australia.  Fabulous fish.  I guess you could use any high quality white flesh estuary fish.  Maybe a big perch.  

I do this for 6-8 people.  

I am a fennel addict.  Here is a simple one which I kind of like…

Get yourself a big grill – something like this Le Cruset one.  Grill some fine slices of Fennel.  Take them off.  Let them cool.

Take your whole barra, cleaned but with head on.  Cut 3cm wide slices in the side.  Stuff the centre with butter, fennel and parsley.  Rub parsley and butter into the cuts.

Grill both sides for 6 minutes.

Put in oven on a low temperature (say 145c) till it is cooked.

Serve with a green bean salad (blanche beans in boiling water then ice water – reheat in butter and mint).  

Also some potatos.  Potato salad is fine.

Just fabulous.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The potato salad is a triumph

We were invited to a barbeque a few weeks ago at the house of a professional chef.  Simple barbeque – two salads and sausages – and indecent amounts of fine red wine.

The most memorable thing though was a potato salad which contained caramelized onion.

The chef would not give me the recipe.  She never does.

So I found a recipe on the web.  Here it is.

Simple – but modestly time consuming as you need to fry the onion very gently for 45 minutes.  Also it is kind of important to have everything warm – so do the sauce immediately, then put on the onion and the potatoes only towards the end.

Highly recommended.  

Better to do simple things really well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My wife's present to me

Its a rotisserie for the BBQ. First tried a lamb leg - had it on a little high and the fat fires burnt the outside of the leg (blackened it). But the meat was fabulous.

Now need to control. Chicken.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mum is coming to dinner

Trick here - something that is impressive - but requires that I can disappear to the kitchen whenever the family stresses arise.  

But I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen because if mum is in good form I don't want to miss out.

We didn't have Chrissy with my parents (the Goddess's parents got the guernsey).  So this is make up.  Impressive is required.


Take one neck cut of bangalow pork, some fat still on, no skin, cut 2.5cm thick.  Brown.  Boil up some shallots (1 minute).  Cool under cold water.  Peel.  Pink Eye potatos cut into rounds 1cm thick.  Raisins, sage.  Cover stock.  Star anise (I know I am addicted).  Cover wet paper and foil.  Low temperature 2.5 hours.

Take out the stock about 10 minutes before serving.  Cool suddenly and skim fat.  Then reduce, reduce, reduce, touch of Balsamic V.  

Serve with steamed greens.  


Easy enough.

Then I got to do another Soufflee and custard.  Trying to get these perfect.  Working well now.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Well the guest came to dinner

And I went off in the morning to my favourite butcher to buy two ducks.  He wasn't there.  So it was a fish barbeque.  (Trusty Sydney fish market).

The entree was not a salmon/salt/honey cure but a kingfish orange juice cure - a duplicate of Stefano.  Quite nice too it was.

I was also going to do a second course - the Carpacio.  Went the way of the butcher.

So in all braveness I decided to do mango soufle for desert.  What is more - I made it up as I went along.  Admittedly said Michelin chef gave me a few hints at the final stage - but everything was more or less done by the chef got there.

Here goes.

1).  Clean copper whisking bowl with lemon juice and salt.  Wash off salt, reclean with lemon juice.  Chef said it has to be sterile.  I am not to disagree.  NO FAT is the critical thing.  Should also clean the whisk but I did not.

2).  Separate out six eggs.  Leave the whites in mixing bowl.  Should be left for a few hours.

3).  Blend yolks with sugar.  Heat 300 mls of milk and 200 mls of cream to about 85c (trusty thermometer).  Mix about a quarter (slowly) with the yolks whisking as you go - part cooks the eggs.  Mix the lot back together and put on stove stirring with wooden spoon.  Something about coating - but all I wanted to do was get back to the trusty 85 centigrade.  Mix in vanilla as you go.  Let custard cool.

4).  Cut up about 1.5 mangos.  Put in small pot with sugar and slowly cook.  Do not let candy a much - just a touch will do.  Put in juice from a quarter of a lemon.  (The rest went with fish barbeque).  Blend.  As it cools at 50mls of cream.  


Have guests to dinner.  Preheat the oven to 180 C.  No fan and USE AN OVEN THERMOMETER.  

5).  Whisk egg whites till fairly stiff.  The chef wanted me to do that by NOT beating but rather moving the whisk around in a very smooth manner.

6).  Fold in a third mango mix, then the rest, gently.

7).  Buttered ramkins (smally times 6) and the residual in a half litre ramkin.  Put the stuff in GENTLY.  No bubbles but no shaking.  Ramkins on tray.

25 minutes in the oven.  Let it brown on top (clear oven door) and then 5 minutes more.

Serve quickly with vanilla custard in jug.



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guests for dinner

I am having a guest for dinner.  Won't say which restaurant the chef is from - but Michelin hat material.

Sort of puts the wood on me to cook well.

Now to be inventive.

Having loved Stefanos so much I thought I might try Italian.  But I want it to be 'first-time-I-have-cooked-this-warts-and-all".  Just pressure myself really - but last two times I have cooked for said-chef I cooked set pieces - and that is just not trying.

Course 1:  honey cured ocean trout.  A cup of honey, and about 50grams of salt.  Handful of ground coriander seeds and fresh coriander.  Mix the honey, salt and spices together.  Lather over a side of pin-boned ocean trout.  Leave in fridge for 24 hours.  Wash, slice finely.

Course2: beef carparcio and caper mayonaise.  Ok - I am cheating - pure Stefano.  Now the trick is usually to freeze the beef and use an industrial slicer.  Try to work out how to do this at home.  Will report back.  I think I sear the outside of the beef - or alternatively get the friendly butcher to do it for me.  Stefano suggest serving with witlof - which seems inventive for me (especially as it is not my idea...)

Course3: its summer here - duck breast with cherries.  Need to work out how to do the potatos.  Thinly sliced with lots of butter I guess... but still a need for perfection here.  Will buy two ducks and confit 4 legs for later.  And bones for stock...  

Course4: here I am getting ambitious - strawberry icecream and meringue- as per Seans Panaroma.  Fortunately the recipe is in Sean's book.  But I have never tried it - and nothing in that book is easy.

That looks like Saturday spoken for!

Now - suggestion - masterchef is doing an Australian show.  Should I try out?