Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kingfish with Avocado salsa on Sweet Potato Rosti

Whenever anyone asks me what they should do with a piece of fish, I generally say, "cook it", or in the case of some fish, especially kingsfish, the answer might be "keep some cool, raw, thinly sliced, and dip in soy and wasabi", anyway, the rule here that I have learnt to follow with fresh seafood is to preserve the flavour of the fish, and I find the best method is to cook the fish on its own and serve accompaniments that compliment the fish's flavour.

This is probably one of my favourite ways to eat kingfish or any other gamey type fish and I like to think of it as being a fancy "fish and chips with lemon" as it still embodies all those characters.

For the fish, when filleting I portion the fillet into single serves, removing any red/blood, and keep the steaks nice and thick, this allows you to keep them nice and juicy. Using a hot pan, a bit of olive oil, season the fish, and sear on one side until you see the white start to travel up the side of the fillet, then turn, remove from the heat once there is just a little bit of opaque in the middle of the fillet and place in a warm dish and put aside in a warm oven, the residual heat from the fish will continue to gently cook it through, leaving it really juicy inside.

For the Rosti, grate one potato(I like golden delight as they give a delicious crunch) to one equally sized sweet potato, half a diced spring onion, one egg (perhaps two depending of how much you make or how wet/dry the mixture is) season well and combine, using your hands, put hand fulls into a pan covered in canola oil or veg oil and fry until golden on both sides, place in the oven paper towels and some extra salt to both absorb the oil and to continue cooking them inside.

Now for the salsa, this is so simple its not funny, finely dice the other half of your spring onion, a handful of grape tomato's, half an avocado. The zest of a lime and the juice from half of it, salt and pepper and a good lug of olive oil so it's nice and wet, put aside so the avocado and lime 'flavours' the oil, this will make for a delicious zesty drizzle for the plate.

Its that simple and best of all showcases the individual flavours of your ingredients.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meat and two Veg with Bernaise sauce

This was a lunch a couple of weeks back that I thought would be a great way to show off just how easy a splash of Bearnaise sauce is to make. Be warned though, do not let your guest watch as the amount of butter used will scare them back to their personal trainers.

I used piece of eye fillet and cooked it as per usual (see steak section) accompanied with some brocollini, pan seared then removed from the heat and covered to allow it to steam through and some sweet potato wedges (recipe coming as they are a whole other[tasty] beast).

So, for the Bearnaise, I know this scares some people (cause it used to scare me) but i have devised an almost foolproof method.

you will need, for four people;

one egg yolk
half a stick of butter (bout 180 grams and don't even think of using margarine)
tablespoon of dried or fresh tarragon(the heart of Bearnaise)
Minced- one clove of garlic and one white section of shallot
about half a cup of white wine vinegar
two tablespoons of hot water
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, add the Vinegar, tarragon, garlic/shallot, reduce by two thirds, pour into a glass bowl, now you want your glass bowl to fin neatly into the top of the pot to act as a double boiler, fill enough water into the pot so that it is touching and well covering the bottom of the bowl, bring the water to the boil and turn the heat off.

put your butter into a pan and heat it until it foams and is liquefied, remove from heat.

Put the bowl with the vinegar reduction on the pot with the water so the water in the pot starts heating the glass bowl, add your egg yolk and using a stick blender on low, whizz the mixture, while you are doing this, in one slow continuous dribble, pour the melted butter into the whizzing mixture, it will begin to emulsify, and the amount of butter is proportional to the level of thickness with not much butter being thin. If your sauce doesn't seem thick enough, melt more butter in the microwave and continue pouring. Once desired consistency is achieved, serve immediately.

whilst it sounds like a complex procedure, it really is easy to do while your meat is resting in the oven and takes all of about five minutes.

Jamie's "Epic Churro Lamb" from "Jamie's America"

I was recently given a copy of "Jamie's America", having watched a couple of the episodes on TV, i was stoked to receive this gift as it also represented the passion for food that i obviously reflect on others, so i was pretty chuffed.

The book is awesome, Jamie Oliver has his critics, but i cant fault him in this instance and readers of my blog will know that i am quite a fan, so take my praise with a grain of salt (and some cracked black pepper).

Apart from the wonderful flavours that Jamie describes and imagines, I think it is also his food fundamentals and strict principals that is the main appeal to me. He manages to display a great respect for all the produce he uses and this is regimented in the book by asserting the importance of using the best quality animals, as this is a direct reflection on the treatment of the Pig, Cow or Chicken during its farming stages. Also the manner in which he articulates his love of fresh unpackaged ingredients is instantly absorbed by the reader and encourages the budding home cook to venture out and source the best freshest and healthiest options.

In a time where there are so many different weight loss diets, nothing is as important as providing your body with a wide range of fresh un-adulterated produce. Jamie has the gift of engaging his readers to garner as much enjoyment from hunting out and gathering the best ingredients, as actually cooking and eating it. And I believe this to be the heart and soul of good cooking.

So, to the food, i took one look at some of the Navajo Churro lamb recipes and had to do this.

The lamb was dripping with the flavours of the marinade and the fat is instantly cut through by the sharp zangy salsa of jalapenos and oven roasted bulls horn peppers. I served it up with a side of butter beans that I fried in some fresh cut tomato, red wine vinegar and the juices from the lamb, let the beans tenderise in the oven with the lamb resting on top, as suggested in the book, i accompanied it with some Navajo flatbreads which like a piece of Naan, mopped up the plate pretty damned well.

If you are of the thinking that American food is big, fatty and sugar coated, then you are surely wrong, the massive diversity of the landscape allows for a huge range of different takes on classic peasant ingredients, which is my favourite manner of cooking. Enjoy.

PS. Thanks Jamie.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spiced Lamb Rump on Mint Yoghurt Sauce with a Chorizo and Quinoa stuffed Tomato

All I can say is that I was pretty chuffed with this little idea of mine, juicy cumin flavoured lamb with the cool mint sauce followed up with the surprisingly tender tomato flesh with savoury chorizo stuffing, the Quinoa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa)which is a super food on its own with numerous nutritional benefits has a light fluffy texture with a nutty flavour and was a perfect accompaniment.

As usual, these are just ideas thrown together on a plate, so I'll run through the bits a pieces and you can use it for your own wacky plans.

For the lamb rump, I trimmed all the suet, even if t meant doing some deep tissue surgery and made a rub of oven toasted cumin seed, coriander seed, black peppercorns and some salt. Grind it into a powder and rub it over the meat, roll the rump and tie it up. Brown in a fry pan on all sides and place in the oven on a baking tray at about 150 (there's some sinew that needs to be broken down) until nice and pink.

For the stuffing, mince one chorizo and add to a pan with a diced shallot, one minced garlic clove, about half a cup of chickpeas (cooked) and half a cup of cooked quinoa (cooked as per packet directions), fry off until chorizo is cooked and all moisture has been absorbed, add pepper to taste and juice of half a lemon. Spoon into gutted tomatoes and place in the oven with the lamb. When you bring the lamb out to rest, fire the oven up to get some colour on the tomatoes.

Mint sauce is the easiest, I put a garlic clove with skin on in the oven with the lamb on the tray, when its coloured and soft, remove it and peel of the skin, chop and place in a bowl with a handful of torn mint leaves, 3 or so tablespoons of natural yoghurt some pepper, and whiz it up with a stick blender. Yum.

So that's it, experiment and have fun. Stuffed anything is sure to impress guests and it makes a great side to serve up on a platter at a BBQ.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rabbit Ragu with Thyme and Fettuccine

I love winter cooking, where you put a bunch of fresh ingredients into a big ol' pot, cover it with stock, wine and herbs and simmer for hours. The smell alone warms the house and comforts those within.

A friend of mine brought me home some rabbit from a hunting trip and I wanted to feed many with one bunny, Ragu it is. After tasting probably the best ragu I've tried at Pendolino at the Strand in Sydney last weekend, I based my recipe on that.

1 White rabbit, portioned
1L veg stock (use beef if you want but i wanted the rabbit to shine)
1 Leek (diced)
2 Cloves Garlic (smashed over salt, diced)
1 Cup white wine
1 Good handful of fresh thyme (Pendolinos ragu used Marjoram but i decided on thyme for rabbit)
2 sticks of celery (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
flour and pepper for dusting of rabbit portions
Bay leaves
Olive oil

Lightly dust your rabbit segments in some flour and pepper ( i add any salt at the end as rabbit is salty enough so as to avoid it being to salty) and Brown in oil and butter in a thick bottomed Pot, once browned, remove from the pot and put aside, add the celery, leek and garlic, sweat in the butter and oil until translucent, deglaze with the white wine, simmer for a minute or two then return the rabbit and any juices, cover with stock, tie your bunch of thyme up with some twine and dangle into the pot like a teabag so you can remove it later add around 4 bay leaves and simmer for an hour and a half or until the meat falls from the bones, add more water if necessary. Once the meat is falling off the bones, remove the rabbit pieces and place on a chopping board, remove the bay leaves and thyme and put aside, using a bar mix, pulse the liquid in the pot until mildly consistent but not a puree', using forks, shred all meat from the rabbit bones and return to the broth, discard the bones. Simmer with the carrots, bay and thyme for a further 30 minutes, adding more water if it gets too thick as it might start to stick. Cook your pasta but time it well, you want your sauce to thicken to its optimal point as the pasta is finished, remember also that the sauce will thicken as you add the pasta. Once combined stir the sauce through the pasta with a tablespoon of butter, serve garnished with fresh thyme leaves and pecorino, or your favourite sharp Italian cheese.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Seared Stuffed Cuttlefish with Chorizo and Chickpea salad

I bagged a medium sized cuttlefish yesterday whilst freezing my butt off all day in a spearfishing competition. All was not lost however as I'd picked up a tasty delight for tonight's dinner.

Again, I wont go into all the detail, as I'd be here for ever. I will go through however the essentials for all the bits and pieces, I stole little bits from here and there when googling for ideas of what I wanted.

Once your Cuttlefish is cleaned and you have a big slab of meat, cut it into big rectangles so you can roll up the stuffing and shove some skewers through it to hold it all together. I scored the outside in a diamond pattern to help get the flavour through it and I also marinate in kiwi fruit first for about an hour as this really helps marinate the flesh, so the scores allow for kiwi juice to get right in there. The rectangles for this were about 10cm X 25cm.

For the stuffing, I nicked a bit from master chef and whizzed up some sour dough bread for crumbs and diced up all the off cuts (also tenderised) from the cuttlefish, two shallots, one garlic clove and three anchovy fillets (even if you think you don't like em, put them in, they lend such an important part of the flavour) fry this off in a good helping of olive oil until the cuttle goes opaque and put in a mixing bowl, oil and all. Add the rind of one lemon and the juice of half it, a handful of chopped parsley, mix and season to taste, should be tangy with a good seafood flavour from the anchovy and cuttle.

Lay the cuttle out flat with scored side down and place a few heaped tablespoons of stuffing inside, then roll it and prop it like a barrel, put one skewer in the bottom and keep spooning mixture in the top, gently push down to make sure its all firm but don't over stuff, put one more skewer to hold it in place and leave to sit for a bit.

The salad was easy, chop up the chorizo, fry it off in some olive oil (again, a good helping) and when they start to go golden add the chick peas to get some heat through them and turn the heat off, using a slotted spoon, strain out the chorizo and chick peas leaving the oil in the pan and into a mixing bowl, add a handful of chopped coriander, juice of the other half of the lemon, some diced oven roasted capsicum and couscous. Season to taste. And add a dollop of natural plain yoghurt to serve.

Sear all sides of the cuttlefish in the red chorizo oil, this is a bit of an art as you have to move the skewers from side to side to get access to all sides, i didn't really think about it very long so if you figure a better way lemme know, i was going to use kitchen twine but didn't know how that would go in the fry pan. You want heat through the whole thing but just golden on all sides so adjust your heat accordingly.

That's it really, dress with some of the red chorizo oil and enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cumin Lamb with Apricot and Tomato Chutney on Couscous

Hi All, This was a dish I had been imagining for quite some time, and I finally said, stuff it, I'm going to just throw it together and see what happens, and boy was I happy I did, zesty Moroccan spices on tender roasted lamb thigh, topped with sweet n sour tangy chutney, the couscous was a logical choice I figured and seemed to compliment the dish well, next time I'll probably incorporate a Herby type sauce to dress the plate, perhaps mint and basil, but I'm not sure how it will go with the chutney.

Anyway, I simply smashed up some whole peppercorns with about a teaspoon of cumin seed and a teaspoon of coriander seed with some sea salt and rubbed it into the lamb leg pieces (they come from the thigh, butchers sometimes call it a mini roast, if you have the $$$ get the back strap) and set aside while you make the chutney. I'll list the ingredients used;

4 medium ripe tomatoes (oven roasted until skins are dry and split, cool, de-seed and dice)
1 Red pepper (grill whole until all sides are blacked, set in a covered bowl for 10 minutes and peel away black sin and discard, de-seed ad dice)
half a cup of dried apricots (diced)
juice of one lemon
one cup of good apple cider
a splash of red wine vinegar
sugar to taste
about 3 cloves (or a half teaspoon of ground cloves)

Simply place all prepared ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, cover to prevent too much evaporation (you're not trying to boil off as much as you are trying to get the apricots to absorb the liquid and the vinegar and cider should almost liquefy the tomatoes into a sauce)

See the how to cook a steak section on my blog for directions on cooking the lamb and it is fairly similar, you need to sear all sides in a pan, them place in a baking tray to finish the roasting.

I strayed from the couscous packet instructions a bit and fried off some red onion and a clove of garlic in the pot before adding chicken stock and bringing to the boil, turned off the heat and added the couscous, left for 10, and stirred through some butter, YUM.

Seeing as I used cider in the chutney I figured it would be a nice accompaniment to the finished meat, turns out I was right, Some good Tasmanian Apple cider over ice in a big glass seemed to wash the meal down well, giving the hot dish an almost summertime feel!