Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fruit and Marmalade Stuffed Baked Apples with Crème Anglaise

This is a bit embarrassing to admit, being a person who loves food and who cooks lots of food, but, here we go. I’ve never, ever had baked stuffed apples before Janet made this dish a few months ago. Janet claimed it was too simple to be impressive, but she’s wrong. Her use of marmalade with the dried fruit was brilliant – and I don’t like marmalade at all. Add some crumbed almond biscuit on top and serve with crème anglaise and it’s a dinner party worthy dessert.

You could use other types of applies such as Granny Smith, but I'm a fan of the Pink Lady and just love the colour of the apples when it comes out of the oven.

Janet’s Fruit and Marmalade Stuffed Baked Apples with Crème Anglaise

Recipe  Fruit and Marmalade Stuffed Baked Apples

6 Pink Lady apples
¼ cup currents
¼ cup sultanas
¼ cup flaked almonds
2 tbs orange marmalade
2 almond biscuits

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a bowl combine the currents, sultanas, flaked almonds and marmalade, mix well.

Core the apples and stuff with the dried fruit.  Add a teaspoon of butter on the top of each apple. Place in a ceramic baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the apples are tender.

To serve, pour over the Crème Anglaise and top with crumbled almond biscuit. Also a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side is delicious.

Serves 6.

Recipe  Crème Anglaise

1 cup full fat milk
1 cup thickened cream
½ vanilla bean, scraped
5 egg yolks
100gm caster sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cream and vanilla bean. Stir to combine and just bring it to the boil. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until very thick and pale. Pour the hot cream mixture, slowly into the egg mixture, whisking continuously to combine, then return to pan and stir continuously over low-medium heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly, 4-6 minutes.

Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl placed over a bowl of ice or ice water and allow to cool – this stops the cooking process.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chicken and Duck Ballotine Stuffed with Black Rice, Pistachios and Cranberries with Rosemary and Garlic Confit Potatoes

Christmas in July multiplied by three. Yes I’m doing THREE Christmas in July dinners this year. There is a FOURTH dinner, but we are going away with friends and I only have to prepare the entrée, so that doesn’t really count.

This dish was fun to make and present. My mum volunteered to help roll the ballotines, which made the task soooooo much quicker.

The cooking times (boiling, frying and baking) will vary depending on the thickness of your ballotine. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make an extra one or two and do a test cook first to see what time works best for yours. It’s pretty easy to overcook this dish and find yourself serving dry chicken. The times below reflect thinly pounded chicken and duck breasts.

I recommend you start this dish the day before and refrigerate the ballotines after you’ve boiled them. They will be much firmer and easier to handle when cold.

So I had all the flavours of Christmas on the plate, chicken, cranberries, potatoes and rosemary. But what about the cherries? I had this idea that I could incorporate cherries in a jus. A bit of googling and I found that it wasn’t a ground breaking idea, in fact, many people use Amarena cherries in sauces. I had a jar in the cupboard - cheers Sandhurst for my competition winners hamper which is still coming in handy. It was a gutsy move I thought to choose this path, but you never know, something amazing might be born. Personally, I wasn’t sold on the end result. But if you’re adventurous and Amarena cherries are your thing, give it a shot.

Chicken and Duck Ballotine Stuffed with Black Rice, Pistachios and
Cranberries with Rosemary and Garlic Confit Potatoes

Recipe  Chicken and Duck Ballotine Stuffed with Black Rice, Pistachios and Cranberries

4 large skinless chicken breasts
2 duck breasts
1 cup black rice, cooked and cooled
50gm pistachios, shelled
½ cup dried cranberries
Sea salt
Black pepper
8 rashers streaky bacon or Serrano ham
1 leek

To prepare each chicken breast, cut through the breast horizontally so you will have 8 pieces of chicken.  Place one piece of chicken between two pieces of cling wrap and gently pound it with a small saucepan, or a rolling pin until it’s about 5mm thick. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

For the duck breasts, remove the skin and slice horizontally, so you have 4 pieces of duck. Again, place between cling wrap and pound until thin. Then cut these slices lengthways so you will have 8 slices of duck.

In a bowl add the rice, pistachios and cranberries, season with salt and pepper and mix.

To assemble the ballotines, lay a slice of duck in the center of the chicken, spoon some of the rice along the duck. Roll the chicken carefully and tuck in the ends as you roll. Wrap the chicken in a rasher of bacon or slice of Serrano ham. Place the ballotine on a piece of cling film and roll into a tight sausage and twist each end. Then roll each sausage in some tin foil, again twisting the ends.

Bring a large pot of water to simmer. Cook the ballotines for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the water. If you are making this dish ahead of time you can refrigerate the ballotines at this stage for up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a large fry pan, over medium heat add a little butter.  Remove the foil and cling wrap from the ballotines and fry for about 10 minutes. You might have to do this in batches. Transfer to a baking dish and cover. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Turn the heat up on the oven. Thinly slice the white part of the leek lengthways, you want match stick thickness. Place on an oven tray and put in the oven. Bake until the ends start to blacken. Keep an eye on it as they will burn very quickly. Remove from the oven.

To plate the dish, slice the ballotine, top with some charred leek and serve with rosemary and garlic confit potatoes, green beans and hazelnuts.

Serves 8.

Sous-vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath. You don’t need any fancy machine to do a simple vegetable dish like these potatoes. But I do recommend if using a domestic zip lock, sandwich type bag, to double bag the potatoes.

I love the taste of potatoes cooked this way and don’t forget to retain and reuse the duck fat.

Recipe  Rosemary and garlic confit potatoes

8 waxy potatoes, such as Kipfler
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup duck fat
Sea salt

Peel and slice potato into 1cm wide discs. Place the potatoes, rosemary, garlic, duck fat and a pinch of salt in a zip lock bag (or divide between two bags). Expel excess air and place bag in a pot of simmering (not boiling) water and cook for 35 minutes.

Recipe  Pinot Noir, Mushroom and Cherry Jus

2 chicken carcasses
50gm butter
1 brown onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
100gm Shitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
750ml Pinot Noir
10-12 Amarena cherries, drained and halved
Black pepper
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roast the chicken carcasses in the oven for approx. 30 minutes.

In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent but not browned. Add the chicken bones and red wine, reduce temperature to the lowest setting and simmer with the lid on for 3 hours. Make sure that the liquid does not totally evaporate.

Strain through a fine sieve into a container. Refrigerate until the fat has solidified on top. Remove and discard the fat. In a small saucepan, over medium heat bring the sauce up to temperature, add the cherries and simmer for approx.. 5 minutes.  Season to taste.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemon

Another Moroccan classic from my recent Moroccan food binge. Don’t worry if you don’t own a tagine, a heavy-based saucepan works just as well. I have a clay tagine which, unfortunately these days is only for show after I neglected to soak it for several hours before using it once. I have to say my Scanpan tagine does the job on my induction cooktop these days.

You can pick up preserved lemons at many good grocery stores these days, or make your own. I used Sandhurst Sicilian Green Olives – available in Australia, because of their great taste and amazing colour that really pops in this dish. Sandhurst also produce preserved lemons.

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemon

Recipe  Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemon

3 garlic cloves, crushed
1cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of saffron
2 tbs olive oil
4 Chicken Marylands, separate the leg from the thigh
1 Spanish onion, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
2 large potatoes, quartered longways
2 tbs fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra
1 preserved lemon
½ cup green olives
Sea salt
Ground black pepper

To prepare the marinade in a small bowl mix the garlic, ginger, cinnamon and saffron. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, put in a zip lock bag (or in a bowl covered with cling wrap) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours – overnight if you can manage it.

Over medium heat, add the oil to your tagine or a heavy-based saucepan and fry the chicken for a few minutes each side until lightly browned – do in batches if necessary. Remove and keep warm. Add some more oil if required and fry the onion for 4-6 minutes until it is translucent.  Return the chicken to the pan.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, potatoes, coriander and parsley and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Rinse the preserved lemon and discard the flesh, keeping only the peel. Cut into slithers. Add the lemon and the olives and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste. Garnish with some fresh coriander and parsley.

Serve with couscous.

Serves 4.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bisteeya (Moroccan Chicken Pie)

A few weekends ago I went on a Moroccan food binge. I think on some subconscious level, part of my brain was not happy with the Moroccan holiday being put on hold in favour of house renovations. Funny things, brains.  Without realising it I had made a chicken tagine one night and then the next night it was a Moroccan pie. I was making broad bean dip and cooking up batches of couscous. There was no stopping me.

This week I’m blogging a Moroccan pie called Bisteeya (known by many names including bastilla, b'stilla or bstilla). Traditionally made from pigeons - luckily for the pigeons in my backyard, most people these days make this dish using chicken. Everyone talks about how exotic it is and how daunting it is to cook.  At first my guests were a little unsure of the combination of meat, cinnamon and icing sugar. The combination actually excites me and the Greeks (and others) cook many meat dishes with cinnamon. In the end my guests were more enthusiastic than I was about it. I think I was a bit underwhelmed by the flavours. Would I recommend that you give this recipe a go? Yes, you should always try new foods. Would I cook it again? Probably not, but I’m looking forward to trying it in Morocco. Maybe a Kickstarter project to get me to Morocco to investigate fully!!!

I served this pie with some roasted aubergines with a paprika oil.


Recipe  Bisteeya

2 tbs vegetable oil, plus extra
2 tbs butter
3 chicken Marylands
1 ½ Spanish onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp saffron
2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra
4 tbs flanked almonds
1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
175gm filo pastry
2 tsp icing sugar, plus extra
Sea salt
Ground black pepper

In a large flameproof casserole dish, heat the oil and butter. Add the chicken and brown all sides.  Add the onions, ginger, saffron, ½ tsp cinnamon and enough water to braise the chicken. You don’t want to boil the chicken. Season well.

Bring to the boil and then cover and gently simmer for 40-45 mins or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Meanwhile, dry fry the almonds until golden and set aside.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and cut the flesh into pieces.

Stir the coriander and parsley into the pan and simmer the sauce until well reduced and thick. Add the beaten eggs and cook over a very gentle heat until the eggs are lightly scrambled.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Oil a shallow round ovenproof dish – about 25cm in diameter. Place one or two sheets of filo pastry in a single layer over the bottom of the dish, so that it is completely covered and the edges of the pastry sheets hang over the sides. Repeat this twice more.

Place the chicken on the pastry and then spoon the egg and herb mixture on top.

Place a single layer of filo pastry on top of the filling and scatter with the almonds. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and the icing sugar.

Fold the edges of the filo over the almonds and then make another four further layers of filo, brushing each layer with a little oil. Tuck the filo edges under the pie and brush top layer with oil.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden. Invert onto a plate and dust the top with icing sugar and use the extra cinnamon to make criss-cross or diagonal lines.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rizogalo with Salted Caramel, Pistachios and Shortbread Crumbs

UPDATE: thanks to a reader to tried the original recipe I posted and found that I had the wrong quantities listed, I have now updated the recipe below.  Apologies for anyone who tried it and is now in a sugar coma...

We recently had a fabulous dinner at Hellenic Republic - but you know, dinner there is ALWAYS fabulous, everything we had was mouth-watering and delicious, saganaki with peppered figs, slow cooked lamb shoulder, but it was the dessert that I was thinking about on the drive home. I desperately wanted to have it again and the easiest way would be to make it myself. Below is my extremely humble version.

On the web there’s a recipe for George Calombaris’ Risogalo, which, of course, would be divine, my recipe is a little simplier. I’ve used mandarin peel in mine but you can easily use lemon or orange. It makes 4 small serves, it's extremely rich so you don't need huge portions. Having said that, there's a time and place to surrender to your inner glutton and double the quantities, this may well be it.

The kourabiethes - Greek shortbread, for the crumbs could be made from scratch or to save time, just buy them.

Rizogalo with Salted Caramel Sauce, Pistachios and Shortbread Crumbs

Recipe  Rizogalo with Salted Caramel Sauce, Pistachios and Shortbread Crumbs

100gm Arborio rice
900ml full fat milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
260gm caster sugar
1 piece of mandarin peel
60gm butter
1 cup thickened cream
1 tsp sea salt
100gm unsalted, shelled pistachios
4 Kourabiethes – Greek shortbread biscuits

For the rizogalo.  Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear. Combine the rice, milk, vanilla bean, 60gm of sugar and mandarin peel in a medium saucepan. Bring it to the boil, Reduce the heat and cook for 20-25 mins until the rice is soft. If the rice has absorbed too much of the milk, add a little more.

Once cooked, remove the vanilla bean and peel, allow to cool. Place a piece of cling film on the top and refrigerate.

To make the salted caramel sauce.  In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add remaining 200gm of sugar and stir constantly. The sugar will go lumpy but then melt to an amber colour. Once all the sugar has melted, add the butter. Be careful as it may bubble and splatter. Stir the butter into the sugar until it has combined, this will take a few minutes.

Drizzle half the cream into the mix, again being careful as it will bubble and splatter. Stir and cook for 1 minute. If your sugar lumps haven’t dissolved fully, strain the mixture into a small jug.

Remove from the heat, stir through the salt and let cool to room temperature.

To construct the dessert, stir the remaining ½ cup of cream through the rice pudding, this will help loosen the mix, divide the rice pudding between 4 glasses, spoon over the caramel sauce, add a tablespoon of pistachios and top with some crumbled shortbread biscuits.
Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Steamed Buns with Slow Cooked Pork Belly and Kimchi

This dish is a Chinese/Korean mash-up. It’s a combination of three things I love, steamed buns, slow cooked pork belly and kimchi. Our friend Alison came to stay for the weekend and she is, unashamedly, a lover of all things produced from the Sus domesticus
You can buy steamed buns from select Asian grocery stores or have a go and make them. I suggest you put aside an afternoon and try making David Chang’s Momofuku's steamed buns. A version of which can be found on the Australian Gourmet Traveller site. Apparently, this recipe makes 50, I managed 32 out of the mix. You can freeze any leftovers after steaming, for months without losing the quality – so they tell us.
I followed a Kylie Kwong technique for the slow cooked the pork belly. Which, after 3 hours of cooking, leaves you with falling apart meat and crispy crackling.
For the Kimchi I used my faithful, can’t go wrong, tastes great recipe. But remember, Kimchi needs to be made 2-3 days before you want to use it. Of course, you could cheat and buy a tub of it from an Asian grocery store. So really, you could make life easier for yourself and buy prepared steamed buns and kimchi, leaving you with only the pork to cook.
These buns with fantastic served with Sriracha hot chilli sauce.

Steamed Buns with Slow Cooked Pork Belly and Kimchi

Recipe  Slow Cooked Pork Belly
1.5kg boneless pork belly
500ml boiling water
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs salt flakes
Place pork belly, skin-side up, on a wire rack over the sink. Pour over boiling water to scald the pork skin – this will help the skin crisp up into crunchy crackling.
Pat rind thoroughly dry with kitchen paper and place pork, uncovered, in refrigerator for two hours.
Preheat oven to 150°C.
Remove pork from fridge and place, skin-side up, on a chopping board. Using the tip of a sharp knife, stab the pork skin repeatedly until the surface is covered with holes, being careful not to go all the way through. Turn the pork belly over and make cuts about 2cm apart and 1cm deep.
Transfer pork and wire rack to a roasting tin. Rub skin well with the sesame oil, then scatter salt all over. Roast for 1½ –2 hours or until tender (to test, pierce the meat with a skewer – you should meet no resistance). Increase the oven temperature to 220°C and continue roasting for 15 minutes. This final blast of heat will crisp up the skin, turning it into crackling.
Remove pork from oven and allow to rest, uncovered, in a warm place for 15 minutes. To serve, cut into 1cm slices.
Serves 4.

Recipe Kimchi

1 large Chinese cabbage
4 ltrs water
100g rock salt
5 tbs finely chopped garlic
1 tbs finely chopped ginger
¼ cup fish sauce
1/3 cup Korean chilli paste (Gouchujang)
1 bunch spring onions, cut into 3cm lengths
1 medium daikon radish, peeled and grated
1 tsp sugar
Sesame seeds

Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise into 3 sections. Throw away the tough core.

In large glass bowl, mix salt into water. Add cabbage and weigh down with large plate to submerge the leaves. Soak for 5-6 hours.

Rinse in cold water and squeeze out excess liquid.

In a large bowl, mix garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chilli paste, onions, radish and sugar.

Add cabbage and coat with seasoning mixture. Wear rubber gloves if you are going to mix by hand.

Pack the mixture into a large airtight jar with a lid.

Let the Kimchi ferment for 2-3 days at room temperature before serving or putting in refrigerator.

When serving, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Use within 2 weeks.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Shiraz with Soft Polenta and Brussels Sprouts with Burnt Butter and Hazelnuts

People are crazy for slow cooked beef cheeks these days. You'll find them everywhere, tv shows, menus, blogs…. I’m now a devotee of the cheek. I’ve cooked them twice in 10 days (different groups of people). Rich, melting and aromatic, they are fabulous and immensely satisfying. You might have to ask your butcher to order some in for you. And remember, you need to start this recipe the day before.

I'm also a fan of instant polenta when I want to serve it soft like in this recipe. It takes just a few minutes, compared to standing and stirring for 20 minutes. Follow the instructions on the packet and replace the liquid with chicken stock and add a few tablespoons of butter.

Brussels sprouts are optional as a vegetable for this dish, but served with burnt butter and hazelnuts, it should make even an ambivalent sprout eater return for seconds. I cheat and buy skinless hazelnuts because 1. I'm lazy and 2. Because I have a shop that sells them skinless. However, if you are not so blessed, just toast them in a 180°C oven for 10 minutes and then rub the skins off using a clean tea towel.

Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Shiraz with Soft Polenta and Brussels Sprouts with Burnt Butter and Hazelnuts

Recipe Slow Cooked Beef cheeks in Shiraz 

1.5kg beef cheeks
Olive oil
1 large brown onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sticks celery, diced
750ml beef stock
2 star anise
2 sprigs rosemary
250ml Shiraz extra
Sea salt
Cracked pepper

500ml Shiraz
2 sprigs rosemary
3 fresh bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 ripe pears 

For the marinade, blitz the pears (core and all) into a purée. Place the beef cheeks and marinade ingredients in a large container, making sure the cheeks are covered in liquid and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Dtrain the beef cheeks – retaining the marinade mix. Pat dry the beef cheeks with paper towel. Place a large volume, ovenproof casserole dish on medium heat. Then add a little olive oil and cooking in batches, brown the beef cheeks on both sides. Remove from the dish and cover.

Add a little more olive oil and add the onion, carrot, garlic and celery. Cook until they start to soften.

Turn the heat to high. Return the beef cheeks to the dish and then pour in the reserved marinade liquid and the beef stock. If there is not enough liquid to cover the cheeks, use the remaining Shiraz – if you haven’t knocked it back yourself. Season to taste, add the star anise and fresh rosemary. Bring to the boil.

Put the lid on the casserole dish and place in the oven. Cook for 5 hours. Check every hour to make sure that you have plenty of liquid and turn the cheeks over. Add additional stock if needed.

Serve with soft polenta. 

Serves 4.

Recipe Brussels sprouts, burnt butter and hazelnuts

8 Brussels sprouts
100gm unsalted butter
1/3 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Steam the sprouts until soft. Remove from the heat and slice in half and cover to keep warm.

In a small saucepan add butter and heat until butter begins to foam. Then add hazelnuts and continue to cook until the hazelnuts start to colour.

Just before serving, pour the burnt butter over the sprouts. Season.

Serves 4

Friday, May 16, 2014

Passionfruit Soufflé

Soufflé … lots of people shy away from making this airy French favourite, thinking it’s something only to be attempted by the most confident of cooks. That’s rubbish. Take this recipe for passionfruit soufflé, it has half a dozen ingredients and takes about 20 minutes to get to the table. Anyone can whip it up and impress their friends or family. What you need to remember is to treat your egg whites with care, make sure you don’t have any yolk in your whites, don’t over whip the whites and gently fold through your whites. It’s also handy to have a reliable oven with seals intact. Are you reading this Mother?

Passionfruit Soufflé

Recipe  Passionfruit Soufflé
Melted unsalted butter, to grease
1 tbs caster sugar
3 organic eggs, separated
1/3 cup caster sugar, extra
1 x 170g can passionfruit juice, strained
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Brush the inside of four 250ml ramekins with a little melted butter. Sprinkle with caster sugar and shake out the excess.

Whisk together yolks, half the extra caster sugar and passionfruit pulp in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Gradually add the remaining sugar a spoonful at a time until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over whip the whites.

Fold 1/3 of the whites into passionfruit mix and gently fold through until well combined. Fold through the remainder of the whites.

Spoon into the ramekins, place onto a baking tray in the middle of your oven and bake for approx. 12 minutes, or until golden on top.

Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with fresh cream and raspberries.

Serves 4.