Wednesday, August 20, 2014

6 hour Slow Cooked Lamb

Finally, we made it to the end of a month long celebration of ‘Christmas in July’.  I survived hosting three Christmas dinners and supplying a trio of bruschetta for 8 people at another.

I think this last Christmas feast was my favourite and not only because it was the easiest - throw a piece lamb into the oven for six hours and serve with some roasted potatoes. Or the smell of slow cooking lamb that permeated the house Sunday morning. It was serving it all up on a large platter and watching everyone get stuck into it and really enjoy it.

Originally I thought I’d do a 10hr slow cooked lamb, but running the numbers, I realised that I would have to get out of bed at 3am and start cooking. Yeah, this black duck is also renovating and sleep is currently topping the list of priorities. So I opted for 6 hour cooked lamb and did all the prep the day before. You will probably have to ask your butcher for the lamb shoulder as it's difficult to find in supermarkets. The size you need will depend on how many people you want to feed.

Serving roast potatoes cooked in duck fat was a given and the rocket and fennel salad (just tossed with a little olive oil and salt) helped cut through the richness of the meat.

You will need to start this recipe the day before.

6 hour Slow Cooked Lamb, Duck Fat Potatoes and Rocket & Fennel Salad

Recipe  6 hour Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder

1 lamb shoulder
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
50ml Ouzo (Optional)
3 bay leaves, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt
Black pepper

In a bowl mix the crushed garlic, 125ml olive oil, lemon juice, Ouzo – optional, bay leaves and the oregano (Greek if you have some). Mix to combine and pour over the lamb. Place in a non reactive bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hr before roasting.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Place the lamb into a large roasting dish. Add a little salt and pepper. Pour about 2 centimetres of water to the dish.

Cook in the oven for 3 hours, making sure you baste the lamb every hour with its juices. Cover the dish with foil and continue to bake for a further 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.

To serve, squeeze a little lemon juice and a good slug of olive oil over the top and spoon some tzatziki on the side.

You can cheat and buy a good quality tzatziki to accompany the lamb, but I prefer to make my own. The shop bought stuff is never thick enough or creamier enough for my liking. It’s best if you make this the day before to let the flavours fully develop. There are plenty of instructional videos and web pages out there that can show you how to strain the yoghurt.

Recipe  Homemade Tzatziki

500gm yoghurt, strained
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 telegraph cucumber, seeded and grated
Juice from ½ a lemon
Sea salt
1 tsp fresh dill

In a bowl, using a spoon, combine all the ingredients until well mixed. Refrigerate until needed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Jelly and Spiced Crème Fraîche

It's blood orange season here in Victoria. This means I spend a good bit of time thinking about what I can make using this amazing fruit. Dark chocolate and orange is a no brainer, add a little spiced crème fraîche, chopped honeyed macadamias on top and you have a wonderful dessert.

Of course you don't have to add the spiced crème fraîche, ordinary cream would be fine, but I wanted to incorporate the warmth of winter spices as this dessert was for a Christmas in July dinner. 

Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Jelly and Spiced Crème Fraîche

Recipe  Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Jelly

200gm Lindt 70% dark chocolate, chopped
190ml full fat milk
185ml pouring cream
100gm caster sugar
4 titanium-strength gelatine leaves
375ml blood orange juice
1tbs caster sugar

In a heatproof bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Do not stir. Remove from the heat.

Soak 2 gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 mins until soft.

In a saucepan add the milk, cream and caster sugar. Bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir into the chocolate.

Squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add to the mixture, whisk well until dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve.

Pour into 4 glasses and allow to cool completely. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until firmly set.

For the blood orange jelly.  Soak 2 gelatines leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes until soft. Whisk the orange juice and sugar in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved.

Heat half of the orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add to the hot orange juice.  Whisk until the gelatine has dissolved, then strain through a fine sieve into remaining juice. Stir and allow to cool completely but not set.

Take the set chocolate panna cotta from the fridge and gently pour the jelly mix onto the chocolate. Cover and return to the fridge for at least an hour to set.

To serve, top with spiced crème fraîche and roughly chopped honeyed macadamias.

Makes 6 (small) or 4 (large) serves.

Recipe  Spiced Crème Fraîche

185g crème fraîche
30ml milk
30gm pure icing sugar – sifted
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

For spiced crème fraîche, combine crème fraîche, milk, icing sugar and spices in a bowl and whisk until smooth and just combined.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Duck Pâté with Pedro Ximénez and Vincotto

Every festive occasion I find myself drawn to the bottle ... of Pedro Ximénez Spanish Sherry. Not for it's fortifying properties, but for cooking. I just adore it's flavour in food. In winter it goes into my spiced dumplings, at Christmas it goes into the eggnog and I've now discovered how well it works in my Christmas in July pâté.

 Duck Pâté with Pedro Ximénez and Vincotto

Recipe  Duck Pâté with Pedro Ximénez and Vincotto
1 large onion diced
Olive oil
500gm duck livers, cleaned thoroughly and roughly chopped
10 anchovy fillets in oil
2 tbs capers in vinegar
½ cup Pedro Ximénez sherry
2 tbs Vincotto
½ cup cream
Sea Salt
Black pepper
125gm Unsalted butter, melted
Over a medium heat, fry the onion in a little olive oil until transparent. Add duck livers and brown quickly. Turn down the heat. Add the anchovies, capers and the Pedro Ximénez. Continue cooking until livers are cooked through 10-12 mins.
Pour the mixture into a food processor, add the vincotto and blitz until smooth, add cream and blitz again. Season well.
To make a smooth pâté pass the mixture through a fine metal sieve. Or leave it for a more rustic, country style pâté.
Pot up 8 small (or 4 larger) ramekins or whatever you want to present the pâté in. Smooth the top and pour over a thin layer of the melted butter to seal the pâté.
Place in the fridge to set and then cover with cling wrap until required. The pâté will keep for up to 5 days.
Recipe  Parmesan and Rosemary Biscuits
100gm unsalted butter, chopped
100gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbs rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
¾ cup plain flour
Sea salt
Black pepper
Preheat oven to 180°C.
In a food processor, mix the butter, parmesan, rosemary, flour and a good pinch of both salt and pepper. Pulse until it forms a dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead for a few minutes. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Line 2 trays with baking paper.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper to approx. 4mm. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out rounds of the dough and place on the try leaving a little space between each.
Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
Makes approx. 36 biscuits

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.