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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Monday, July 21, 2014

POT AU FEU
















I don't know if history books record how many wars started over food. My guess is quite a few. Some might have started because a city's food supply was cut off. That's enough reason reason to go into battle. I wonder how many battles started over a recipe. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a lot of them.

I remember a Rick Stein TV program where Carcassonne and neighbouring Castelnaudary battled over what goes into a true cassoulet. I remember Jamie Oliver cooking in an Italian village in which the local women almost beat him out of town for the liberties he was taking with a traditional pasta dish.

So it is with this humble French country stew. It seems that recipes for pot au feu are treasured family secrets and each is the only true way to make this dish. So at risk of upsetting French families with their firm beliefs about what should and shouldn't go into a pot au feu, here's mine.

This one started when I bought a nice piece of wagyu topside at the local markets. I immediately thought of a slow braise. I used red onions, parsnips, potato, tomato, celery - because I had them all on hand. I used bay leaves and thyme - also because I had them on hand.

It cooked for 5 hours at 140C. It was delicious. Was it authentic enough to satisfy a French country woman? I don't know. It satisfied me and our guests and worked a treat with a 1982 Chateau Léoville Barton.
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

OCEAN TROUT WITH GINGERED SNOW PEA TENDRILS & ROE
















Ocean trout is possibly my favourite eating fish. I write possibly because there'll be times when I might name yellow fin tuna or line-caught wild barramundi or coral trout as my favourite. And if I included crustaceans, I'd definitely include Western Australia scampi, Balmain bugs and blue swimmer crabs to my list.

When I can, I buy it with the skin on because the fat just under the skin adds extra flavour. So this piece was simply sautéed skin-side down in coconut oil. I tossed some snow pea tendrils with ginger, soy sauce and fish sauce and heated them just enough to take some of the unruly springiness out of the stems. Rice underneath and fresh unpasteurised roe on top. Embarrassingly simple and oh so healthy.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

GRILLED CHICKEN WITH SMOKED ORANGE CAPSICUM SAUCE AND CORN SALSA
















I like flavour in food. I lived in Mexico for a couple years. The first chicken I ate there had flavour, flavour I had forgotten. I took one bite and was immediately and magically transported to childhood and the flavour of a roast chicken on Sunday. I had forgotten that this is what chickens taste like - when they're free to graze on wild grasses and seeds, when they aren't encouraged to grow abnormally fast.

I occasionally taste chickens with real chicken flavour here in Australia. They invariably come from small producers and are sold by old-fashioned butchers.

Because I like flavour, I buy chicken on the bone and with the skin on (unless doing an Asian stir fry). Here's a thigh from a local butcher. He gets his chickens delivered on Tuesdays and cuts them up for sale. One of my favourite pieces is this thigh, which he calls a chicken chop.

It's simply brushed with olive oil and dusted with salt and chilli. The organic corn (organic because I suspect that most non-organic corn in Australia is genetically modified) is roasted and mixed with lime juice, coriander and a drizzle of maple syrup.

The orange capsicums are sweated with onion, smoked paprika and turmeric in olive oil. I then add a little chicken stock and purée smooth. It's delicious with chicken, fish and pork.

So there it is - vaguely Mexican. And full of flavour.
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CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH ROASTED TWEED VALLEY PECANS



I don't know about you, but I sometimes just crave a soup. Even in summer, when gazpacho is a favourite. So here's a cauliflower soup that I do now and then. The recipe varies according to my mood - which varies according to my emotional recipe.

This one is based on home made chicken stock. The cauliflower is slowly roasted to deepen the flavour. Then the two are introduced and blended with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. I sometimes roast hazelnuts and drizzle hazelnut oil on top. This time I stirred in a little roast garlic infused olive oil and sprinkled some roasted local pecans.
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

WATCH THIS SPACE

You might have noticed no posts for 2 months.

This is because I couldn't upload images. I got sick of trying and so simply posted onto the Behind The Burners Facebook page.

However, I have decided to have another go after 2 months off.

If you see a blur of posts over the next week or so, you'll know that all's well again.

If you see nothing, well, you'll know why.

Fingers crossed.


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

BRAISED OXTAIL WITH CELERIAC PUREE

Do you know an old song about love and marriage? How they go together like a horse and carriage? And you know how Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers worked so well together? And how Tom and Jerry just went together? And Abbott and Costello? Bacon and eggs? Well here's another marriage that just works. Maybe it's the star anise I used in the oxtail. Whatever the reason, this oxtail and this celeriac purée feel like they were made for each other.
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BEETROOT RISOTTO WITH QUARK

The first time I had beetroot risotto was in a restaurant in L.A. It was some time in the late 90s. Henry Winkler was on the next table. I remember being surprised at how old he looked. Mind you, I don't think I'd seen him in anything since Happy Days. I was also surprised by how conservatively he was dressed. You just don't see many tweed coats in L.A. Anyway, even though I'd been eating risottos for about 18 years at that stage, I'd never had one flavoured with beetroot. I loved it. It has since become one of my staple risottos (along with fennel, pumpkin, porcini and crab). I usually add a dollop of goat's cheese, but I had bought some quark a couple of days ago, so this added the finishing touch. Worked a treat, too.
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