Monday, September 15, 2014

SALMON ADOBADO WITH BLACK BEAN, AVOCADO & FETTA SALAD

Simple Mexican fare. Salmon rubbed with a dry adobo of smoked paprika, cumin & chipotle. The salad is one of classic Mexican ingredients - except the fetta. However a sheep's milk fetta isn't a bad substitute for one of the traditional cheeses used in México.

What great culinary gifts México gave us with avocado, tomato and black beans. Come to think of it, we could add chocolate and corn to the list.
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

RICE NOODLES WITH CHICKEN AND LAP CHEONG

I like to have rice noodles once a week. I'm not addicted. I don't have a physiological need for them. I just like them, the slippery smoothness of them, the way the slither down my gullet. More often than not I'll cook them with either chicken or prawns. Sometimes both. Sometimes with the addition of another meat. In this case, fine slices of Chinese sausage.

The usual suspects as far as flavourings - garlic, soy sauce, chilli bean paste, ginger, fried eschalot, fish sauce, sugar, fresh chilli, coriander leaves and ground roasted rice.
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

MOROCCAN LAMB WITH HARISSA, CHICKPEAS AND SPICED ROASTED

It's not really Moroccan lamb. It's Australian - just given some Moroccan spices. Come to think of it, it mightn't be Australian lamb. Well, it was raised here, but it's probably Dorper, which is an African breed. So multicultural lamb - which is suitably Australian.

Home made harissa, pumpkin from our neighbours' farm and organic chickpeas cooked in chicken stock (home made). All this home-made start-from-scratch stuff makes me feel kind of Amish.
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Friday, September 5, 2014

WILD BARRAMUNDI WITH QUINOA & KALE SALAD

In my mind there are three grades of barramundi. Farmed is grey and dull when raw, and tastes that way when cooked - even a little muddy. Wild is bright and white, sometimes with a bluish tinge and with flashes of red. The best is wild line-caught, with the brightest, clearest colour and cleanest taste of all.

Nothing but fish flavour here. Pan seared, a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of sea salt.
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

QUAIL WITH STREAKY BACON, PUY LENTILS AND POLENTA

There used to be a restaurant near Picton, south of Sydney. The French owner raised quail, pigeon, guinea fowl and pheasant on a nearby farm. It was a great place for a long Sunday lunch. Unfortunately, random breath testing killed the idea of long Sunday lunches - especially ones that required a fair drive. Luckily, the game farm continues to this day and these quail come from there.

The streaky bacon comes from a family of Italian immigrants. It's not too salty and lightly smoked - just perfect. Remarkably (or encouragingly), both of these products come from supermarkets - not a place I normally shop for food.

Continuing the Franco-Italian theme, there are Puy lentils and polenta, both cooked using home-made quail stock.
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Monday, September 1, 2014

LAMB SHANK WITH CELERIAC MASH

Nothing delicate about this dish. A Flintstones plate of food. Chunk of meat on a bone, admittedly tasty lamb gently braised in red wine with star anise, bay leaves, garlic etc. And I suppose I'd have to confess that celeriac, which looks like a weapon when whole, cooks into a genteel subtle bed for the shank. Still, it's a bone and a bulb.
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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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