Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Black Pepper & Kaffir Lime Beef Wraps

These black pepper and kaffir lime beef wraps are one of those mid-week dinner options that inspire blind devotion. Easy, quick and tasty – the busy week hunger antidote – with left overs that make perfectly acceptable work lunches the following day. Jamie Oliver has sold us all on the idea that you can have a dinner sorted within 15 minutes. And when you know how to do that, why wouldn’t you do it as often as you possibly can? Ok, not all of us are Jamie with a bevvy of minions to chop, plate and pretty our dinner, we’re more likely to be concerning ourselves with a glass of wine, or kids homework than a 15 minute timeframe but it helps to know this number is not going to take you more than 20. The recipe is also up over on Daily Life

If you don’t like the hit of pepper, just add to taste.

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 tbsp ginger
3 long red chillies, deseeded, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
3 eschallots, peeled, roughly chopped
3 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
4- 6 kaffir lime leaves, deveined, roughly chopped

800g steak, cubed
2 tbsp palm sugar
5 tbsp sweet soy sauce
5 tbsp soy sauce sauce

100g vermicelli noodles
16 small to medium inner leaves of romaine lettuce
1 cup bean sprouts
1 red onion, finely sliced
Vietnamese mint leaves pulled
Thai basil, leaves pulled

It helps for this recipe to have all the “additions” – the mint, basil, bean sprouts, onion and pulled lettuce leaves ready to go. It’s usually easiest to pretend this is a version of taco night and line each ingredient up in bowls for people to help themselves.
Add the ginger, chillies, garlic, eschalots, peppercorns and kaffir lime to a blender and process to a coarse paste.
Place a fry pan over high heat until smoking. Add the oil and when hot add the paste and cook until fragrant. Add the beef and fry until browned and cooked to your liking. Mix the soy sauces and palm sugar in a bowl. Add to the fry pan and toss the beef to coat. Add the beef to a bowl and serve with the accompaniments for people to make their own wraps.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A few recipes for Straya Day

As a general rule of thumb Australia Day is hot (although who would know with the weather at present), it requires trips to the beach, flip-flops, flaming Al impersonations and barbeques spread over the long weekend.
It works well to keep the food light and fresh so here lamb cutlets have been incorporated into an aussie-fied fattoush salad followed by a lamington inspired dessert. I refuse to use the word deconstructed anything when it comes to food – that is a lexicon reserved for academics – so lets just keep it as being loosely based on the humble lammo. there is chocolate, there is sponge, there is jam and there is toasted coconut and a gentle and humble nod to the foodstuff that joins a nation.
Lamb fattoush with mint and sumac yoghurt dressing

Lamb fattoush with mint and sumac yoghurt dressing
Serves 4- 6

¼ cup (60mls) olive
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lemon, finely grated and juice
16 lamb cutlets
3 rashers bacon
3 sheets brik pastry, baked in the oven until crisp, coarsely torn (use mountain bread if unavailable)

½ cup freshly podded peas
½ red onion, finely sliced
¼ cup dill, coarsely torn
¼ cup basil leaves, coarsely torn
2 cups mixed lettuce leaves
250g cherry tomatoes

Yoghurt dressing
½ cup Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons buttermilk (or normal milk)
1 tablespoon dried mint
2 tsp sumac

Combine olive oil, herbs, garlic, rind and juice in a small bowl, season to taste. Place lamb in a single layer in a non-reactive dish, pour over oil mixture, turn to coat, set aside to marinate.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stir to combine and set aside.
Combine all salad ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss to combine
Preheat a char-grill or frying pan over high heat. Remove lamb from marinade and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked to your liking (4-5 minutes each side for medium-rare). Add the bacon to the grill while the lamb is cooking. Transfer the lamb to a plate and season to taste. Cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Finely chop the bacon and add to the salad. Just before serving, add the lamb cutlets to the salad and toss gently to combine. Scatter over the pieces of crisp brik pastry then pour over the dressing and serve.

A Lamington of sorts

A Lamington of sorts
Serves 6

Chocolate stout cake
1 cup (250mls) stout beer
250g dark chocolate
175g butter
¾ cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups plain flour
½ cup cocoa powder

Rhubarb jam
2 tablespoons rosewater
¼ cup caster sugar
1 bunch rhubarb, stalks trimmed, fibrous outer removed

Ice cream
1 litre good quality vanilla ice cream, softened
180G white marshmallows
1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 150C. Grease and line a 30 x20cm high-sided baking tray and set aside.
To make the ice cream, add the ice cream to a large mixing bowl with the toasted coconut. Add the marshmallows to a separate bowl and use a blow-torch to toast the marshmallows. Alternatively, hold the marshmallows with a pair of tongs over your stove hob to toast or grill very quickly over a bbq. Add the marshmallows to the ice cream mix, stir to combine then return to the freezer to harden.
For the stout cake, add the chocolate and butter to a metal bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Stir to combine and remove from heat to cool. Add the stout and stir. Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the surface begins to crack and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Spread the rhubarb in a roasting pan, scatter with remaining ingredients and pop in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool and gently mash with a fork to a thick compote consistency. To serve, add a slice of stout cake to a serving plate, add a spoonful of rhubarb and top with a scoop of the toasted coconut and marshmallow ice cream.

Parlans Stockholm

Feeling a little wistful for one of my favourite pitstops last year, Parlans in Stockholm. This gorgeous little store sells toffee caramels - made on site by hand, wrapped and boxed by hand in the most amazing flavours. The packaging is enough to make you swoon but the salted caramel or the passionfruit and raspberry and's like eating heaven. Anyone going soon, and could you pop a few extra boxes of caramels in the suitcase for the trip home? I know most of Stockholm is "try -and-shove-in-the-suitcase" worthy but these little delights are the perfect gift, just make sure you buy more than you think you need. Plan B, anyone willing to open an artisanal caramel and toffee store?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cooking the Books... A Girl and her Pig

Oh my lordy. Be still my beating heart. When I heard rumours a little while back that April Bloomfield - woman wonder chef - was releasing a cookbook I tried to contain myself. One of my favourite restaurants in New York was the Spotted Pig; the philosophy, the food, everything about it. It was the place you wanted to go when you didn't feel like "going out to dinner" and then you'd eat the sort of food you'd always be happy to eat. She's since gone on to open an oyster bar The John Dory - damn I need to get back to NYC for a visit. Anyway, here it is. It's here. In a book. In my hands and jeepers its a goodin. And the title is possibly one of the most delightful "A Girl And Her Pig". 
This is the book that shows you what you want for dinner before realising that want existed. There are lessons - new dishes to discover, like English faggots. Not sure I'm going to eat them but good to know about them all the same. And I think this is where the book really excels, its the little lessons along the way - its a book that extends your repertoire and gives you a strange and to be honest overwhelming desire to cook a whole pig. Immediately.

She's a chef but one that cooks for the people who eat her food I think rather than any kind of ego which can sometimes be a downfall of chef led titles. She gained her stripes at the time that gastro pubs became the choice de rigueur and worked at the River Cafe. And she's friends with Fergus Henderson and Ruth Rogers and Jamie and all those uber amazing foodie nerdy cheffy people that give you goosebumps because of their amazingness. And I'm not sure why, perhaps its because by page 76 she's up to her elbows in a caesar salad but you get the sense that she'd be a nice person to cook with. And in an ideal scenario have her cook for you...or just share that damn delicious looking salad.

Obviously for me, it would have to be the carnal delights of roasting an entire pig. But I realise there are a few more less equipment heavy recipes in this tome worthy of your cooking time. Simple, beautiful, fresh dishes like these marinated strawberries which have kindly been shared with us here. The addition of lemon and pepper with the balsamic really elevates the sweetness of the strawberries. And it seems we are in the midst of a strawberry glut so its our obligation to make these. And then make them again. There are farmers to help out after all.

I also think the mozarella and speck sandwiches are perfect hangover fodder, or be just the thing when you need something to eat to protect you from the world.

To be honest, all strength to you if you can give this one away without swindling it onto your own shelf but I think this is one for those with a love for gastropub style food. Its for those that appreciate gutsy flavours and food pairings that work well not because the food has been overworked but because premium, quality ingredients work best. Its an interesting intersection of really "British" food with some American influences - a great hybrid of styles. 
I've found the bookstores to be hit and miss in Oz - best to try the larger ones as they seem to have the shelf space for more titles. And of course its online at all your usual suspects, Amazon etc. etc. And you can find out more about April on her website here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Individual Bounty Bombe Alaska

This coconut, ice cream and meringue concoction from the culinary wonderland of the 50s is like eating a holiday. For those of us feeling more than a little glum about our return to work and the indoors, this is a culinary antidote; perhaps the edible equivalent of afternoon naps, walks on the beach and drinks at dusk. And it’s a dessert, which automatically makes anyone feel better. I’ve kept to the convenience ethos here, skipping the oven cooking of the meringue component of a traditional Alaska and just used a blow-torch to crisp the meringue. You could take this one step further and sidestep the making of the sponge and just use a good store bought version. If you haven’t set your eyes on a bottle of Malibu since your 18th birthday use a light white rum or skip this altogether for an alcohol free version.

Serves 8

2 eggs
1/3 cup (75g) sugar

1/4 cup (60ml) milk

30g unsalted butter

2/3 cup (100g) self-raising flour

1 1/2 tbsp cornflour

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

750g vanilla ice cream, softened
1 tsp coconut essence
1 cup shredded coconut
750g good quality chocolate ice cream
60ml Malibu

5 eggwhites
350g caster sugar
1/2 tbsp liquid glucose

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan with baking paper. Beat the eggs with electric beaters for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly, until dissolved. Set aside. Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Sift the flours and cream of tartar into a bowl. Fold half the flour mixture into the egg mixture, then fold in the milk mixture. Fold in the remaining flour mixture, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Cool the sponge cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Slice the cake in half lengthways.

Grease and line 8 x 1 ½ cup capacity moulds with cling film. I just used small 12cm diameter kitchen bowls for this. Cut circles of sponge to fit the base of each mould and press down gently. Do not discard the rest of the sponge.

Combine the vanilla ice cream, coconut essence and shredded coconut in a bowl and stir to combine. Divide the ice cream between the moulds, filling them about half way then place the moulds in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to harden. Combine the chocolate ice cream and Malibu in a bowl and stir to combine. Pull the moulds from the freezer and scoop the chocolate ice cream mixture over the coconut mixture. Return the moulds to the freezer. Place the remaining sponge pieces over the top of the chocolate ice cream mixture.

To make the meringue, add the caster sugar and liquid glucose to a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally for at least 15 minutes (or if you have a sugar thermometer it reaches 120C). Whisk the eggwhites until soft peak. Drizzle in the sugar syrup whisking continuously. Continue whisking until the meringue reaches room temperature.
Before serving remove the moulds from the freezer and carefully invert them onto serving plates. Spoon the meringue over the top of the mixture. Use a blow-torch to lightly brown the meringue and serve.