Friday, August 29, 2014

HOLMBRAE CHICKEN WITH ROASTED FENNEL, CHOKO AND DUTCH CREAM POTATO

Ever since returning to Australia after a couple of years in México, I have searched for a chicken with the real chicken flavour the Mexican chooks have. I had tried all the likely contenders from the Barossa, Mudgee, Alstonville, Kangaroo Island. They are good, but none had the taste I remember from childhood - and had forgotten until the memory was rekindled in México.

Well, I think these Holmbrae chooks from the NSW Southern Highlands come closer than any other Australian chicken. This one was rubbed with rosemary salt (from Salt, Meats, Cheese) and simply roasted, along with wedges of choko, baby fennel and Dutch cream potatoes.
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

FENNEL RISOTTO

If you live in the north of Italy, this is comfort food. Soft, gentle, subtle risotto. Home made chicken stock, fennel bulb, a touch of Pernod, Lurpak butter, parmigiana reggiano.
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CHICKEN THIGH WITH TWO SALADS

This is simple school night food. I could have described each salad in detail, but writing 'two salads' is simpler - and it's a simple school night dinner, after all.

So, chicken thigh with two salads it is.


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

BRAISED WAGYU RUMP CAP WITH BABY KALE, RED CABBAGE & AIOLI
















Australia produces some great wagyu (Kobe) beef. A lot of what's labelled wagyu here is a cross - usually wagyu and black Angus. The best pure wagyu gets shipped to Japan or snapped up by top-end restaurants. The big demand is for the premium cuts - porterhouse, eye fillet, rib fillet, rib. The rump cap is one of the unloved bits. Treated with love, it produces deliciously satisfying meals.

The piece I bought (about 1.25 kg) was braised whole in red wine, veal stock, with garlic, bay etc. It had about 6 hours cooking at 130C. Braised red cabbage underneath with baby kale leaves tossed in a tablespoon of walnut oil and a little red wine vinegar. Roasted garlic aïoli. Heaven.
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BARBEQUED LAMB SHOULDER WITH CAPSICUM JAM
















I love lamb shoulder. It needs & deserves long slow cooking. This one was rubbed with rosemary, mint and garlic. I roasted it at 140C for 3 hours, then finished it on the BBQ.

Red capsicum jam is delicious, easy and versatile - gently braised in olive oil, with smoked paprika, cumin seeds and red wine vinegar. Then palm sugar added to caramelise.

Maple glazed heirloom carrots from the weekly farmers markets are so packed with flavour.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

ADOBO PRAWNS WITH ROASTED CORN AND CHIPOTLE SALSA
















I realised I haven't been cooking as much Mexican food as I used to. One dish doesn't make amends, but it's a start.

So, classic flavours here. Prawns dusted with a seasoning of ground chipotles and other goodies. Roasted organic corn, tomato, local avocado, black beans and coriander under it. A chipotle salsa reclining to the side and a clutch of microherbs on top.
















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Thursday, July 31, 2014

ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH ROAST GARLIC AIOLI
















To my devout carnivore friends, I'm sorry. There's no meat in this picture.

To my devout vegan friends, I'm sorry. There's egg in the aïoli.

To the rest of you, here's something delicious for those times when you don't need flesh.

You can use all combinations of vegetables for this. Root vegetables are especially good - parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac. I've used chokoes (I hate them boiled, but love them roasted), fennel and Dutch cream potatoes.

The roast garlic aïoli is a Christine Manfield recipe I have been making for years - and it always works and tastes brilliant.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

STIR FRIED MINCED KANGAROO WITH CHILLI AND CORIANDER
















There's a bit of faith required here. This dish is much tastier than it looks. Trust me.

It looks like a pile of chopped brown stuff with the occasionally green coriander leaf and a few pieces of fried eschalot. What you have to imagine is the richness of kangaroo, the sweet unctiousness of coconut oil and the marriage of garlic, chilli, soy sauce and palm sugar - with chopped coriander and a couple of tablespoons of fried eschalot added before serving. So good I want to cook it again. Now.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

BARBEQUED BABY OCTOPUS WITH SQUID INK RISOTTO
















I've always liked the visual drama of squid ink risotto. There aren't enough black foods in the world - and this is one of the few. This is true black. Black as jet. Black as #000000.

There are two ways to get the squid ink you need for this. You can squeeze it from the ink sacks of fresh squid or octopus. Or you can buy it in jars from specialty grocers.

Once cleaned and cut into pieces, the octopus was marinated in olive oil, chilli and garlic before cooking. Just a light squeeze of lemon juice over the plated dish and that was that.
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

STIR FRIED CHICKEN WITH SNOW PEAS AND MINT















Stir fries aren't pretty. You can't beautifully plate up a stir fry. It is what it is - a bunch of ingredients flipped and slapped and stirred around a wok over a fierce heat.

So here is this version with chicken thigh meat with ginger, soy sauce, chilli bean paste, snow peas and mint.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

GRILLED QUAIL WITH PUY LENTILS, RED CABBAGE AND BABY SPINACH
















There used to be a restaurant south of Sydney that specialised in birds - duck, pheasant, guinea fowl, quail, spatchcock and pigeon. It was a great place for a slow weekend lunch. The birds were raised on a nearby farm - called, surprisingly, the Game Farm. The introduction of random breath testing killed business in the restaurant - as it did for other out-of-town restaurants.

Luckily, the farm continued. These quail come from The Game Farm. I've take some of the work out of eating quail by removing the breast and legs from the carcass (which I used to make quail stock - which I used to cook the lentils).

The Puy lentils have a wonderful nutty flavour, enhanced by the stock in which they cooked. The cabbage was braised with red wine vinegar, sugar, quail stock, garlic, star anise and bay leaves.

The baby spinach leaves were barely wilted in a covered pan over low heat.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SPAGHETTI AL PANGRATTATO

















Have you been to the opera? Did they have surtitles? Have you read the story line of an opera? Or the libretto? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then answer the next question. Did the words strike you as silly?

They did for me - in many operas at least. Sublime music, glorious singing - but singing about something inane in an improbable story.

Well the name of this dish reminds me of opera. Spaghetti al pangrattato sounds so much sexier than wheat strands with fried breadcrumbs.

Like a lot of Italian pasta dishes, this is really simple, but delicious. Basically breadcrumbs (home made from sour dough) shallow fried until golden, then mixed with cooked spaghetti, extra virgin olive, a little chilli, saltand garlic. That's it.
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