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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Crab, Blue Cheese and Ricotta Ravioli

Man this was good. If you don't have a pasta machine and want to try this see if you can buy fresh pasta sheets from a deli. As you will see from the pictures, I fortunately have a ravioli press thing, it makes life much easier. If you can't get or make pasta sheets just mix the filling through some freshly cooked pasta and top each bowl of pasta with some of the butter gear. The amount of butter I used in this seems excessive but really, how regularly do you cook crab ravioli? The filling itself including chopping only took about 10 minutes to make and required no cooking. The order I completed this all in was to make the pasta and rest in plastic in the fridge - make the filling - roll out 1/3 of the pasta at a time and turn into ravioli - allow the ravioli to dry on a rack until ready (up to an hour) - boil water, cook ravioli and make butter sauce - eat. To make this go further, serve this with some salad or some nice crusty bread. Enough for 2 adults and 2 kids plus some left over crab gear.

220 gms crab meat (Phillips Bay)
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbs shredded basil leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 shallot in fine dice (1/2 a small onion)
3 tbs ricotta
2 tbs blue cheese
Salt and pepper
40 gms butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 and handful of parsley minced
Basil leaves for tearing
Pasta sheets (enough pasta for 3)
A ravioli tray or similar

Combine the ricotta, 1/2 of the blue cheese, shredded basil leaves, shallot, salt and pepper, 2 cloves of freshly minced garlic and 1/2 of the lemon juice. Taste and add the remaining blue cheese (if you want), more lemon juice or salt and pepper as necessary. Add in the crab meat and combine breaking up the crab as you go. Add more ricotta if necessary.
Lightly flour the ravioli tray and lay over half of a long sheet of pasta, press in the pasta using the mould. Spoon in 1 tsp of filling into each mould, lay the other half of the pasta sheet over the top and roll with a rolling pin to cut. Turn each out carefully onto a biscuit rack. Alternatively form the ravioli by hand.
Boil enough salted water. When the water is boiling add in the ravioli and cook for 4 to 5 minutes after the water returns to the boil. While the ravioli is cooking melt the butter over a medium high heat with 1 tbs olive oil. When melted add in the garlic, remaining lemon juice, some salt and freshly cracked pepper and cook. By the time the garlic is fragrant the ravioli should be cooked. Drain the ravioli into a colander using a slotted spoon. Add half of the parsley into the butter and toss, add in the ravioli and toss to coat. Pour the ravioli into bowls, sprinkle over the remaining parsley and some torn basil. Eat straight away.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pork Loin With Sage and Lemon Zest

Same principal applies in this as to a thick piece of steak or even a roast, smack it with some heat and finish it in the oven. You can also do the same flavour combination with pork chops; pork, sage and lemon work very well together. If you wanted to in this recipe you could easily deglaze the pan with some wine or stock while the meat is resting to make a sauce and bung in some cream or butter or just reduce it. I opted tonight to finish this dish with a balsamic reduction I bought from a deli.

1 piece pork loin (mine was 1kg)
Sage leaves
Zest from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Baked mushrooms (I went basic)
Steamed broccoli
Bought balsamic glaze

Preheat an oven to 180C. Season the pork loin with lemon rind, salt and pepper and coat lightly with oil. Add the sage leaves to one side of the loin, pressing them into the oil to make them stick. Heat some oil in a large frying pan to medium high. When hot add the pork loin, sage side down and sear until it has good colour, Carefully turn and repeat. When seared place on a lined baking tray (easier cleaning) and into the oven to roast for an hour. If your piece of pork is heavier or lighter, adjust the cooking time. Cook for 20mins per 450gms plus 20mins. Remove the pork to a clean plate, cover and allow to rest. I also cooked my mushrooms at the same time. I found that I needed to add a little more oil to the mushrooms toward the end to stop them from drying out.
When ready to serve, carve the pork to your desired thickness then spoon over a little of the resting juice. Arrange the pork on plates and drizzle over some balsamic glaze (or even a squeeze of lemon). Serve with baked mushrooms, pan roasted potato and steamed broccoli.

Pan Roasted Potato With Thyme

Nice and simple, very little stuffing about. I used this basically in my Crispy Skinned Chicken Breast recipe. Use different herbs if you like but always aim for fresh herbs as bottled herbs taste like they have come out of a bottle.

New potatoes
Thyme sprigs stripped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Halve the potatoes lengthwise. Boil the potatoes until just, just cooked. Heat some oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add in the stripped thyme and toss about to flavour the oil. Place each potato in, cut side down and cook until it has nice colour. Turn over and repeat. 5 to 10 minutes approx.

These were also cooked with some butter

Butterflied Pesto Chicken with a Mushroom and Chorizo Sauce

Easier than it sounds and a heaps shorter cooking time than regular roasting. I have done butterflied chicken a stack of times and it is easily worth the effort. Don't be afraid, give it a go - just try and buy the smallest chook you can or you will get a varied result with juiciness. It is possible to cook butterflied chicken on the barbecue but you will need to cook over a low to moderate heat and cover with foil loosely to gain even cooking. To be honest though, the real winner here was the chorizo sauce. I went off chorizo years ago because I found the product generally made here was overpowering and I recently decided that I would like to try it again. Chorizo, mushroom and wine are good. The cooking times will vary so you will need to keep an eye on it. This was enough for 6 adults with leftovers.

3 small chickens butterflied
4 tbs pesto
6 slices prosciutto/Serrano ham
1 lemon halved and in 1 cm slices
1 red onion in wedges, broken up
3 cloves garlic in slices
Olive oil
15 or so small button mushrooms
1 chorizo sausage in medium sized chunks
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 handful of cherry tomato quartered
Salt and pepper
1 cup white wine
1/2 a handful of parsley chopped
Rosemary new potatoes
Steamed greens

Preheat an oven to 200C. Scatter the onion pieces on roasting trays about the size of each butterflied chicken. Top the onion with slices of lemon and the sliced garlic and pour over a little oil. Lay the chicken on the onion mix and smear pesto over each. Lay the prosciutto over the chickens and then place in the oven. Roast at 200C for twenty minutes then reduce to 180C. Should take about 45 minutes but check after 35. Stick a skewer in the widest part and it should run clear if it is cooked. Just to be sure at the end, I carved each chicken (removed the leg/thigh in one piece) then placed them all back in the oven for 5 minutes. Reserve the cooking juices and keep the onion mixture.

While the chicken is roasting, heat a little olive oil to medium in a frying pan and fry off the chorizo pieces. When the chorizo has some colour, add in the garlic and mushrooms, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the mushrooms are becoming soft and have some colour. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by 2/3. Pour in any reserved cooking liquid and reduce until you reach your desired consistency. Stir through the tomato and chopped parsley and check for seasoning.
Spoon some onion mixture onto each plate and place some chicken on top. Pour over some mushroom/chorizo sauce and serve with rosemary potato and steamed greens.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Whole Beef Shank Slow Cooked with Sage Tapenade

Not as complicated but easily as tasty as it sounds. Can't get a whole beef shank? - use osso bucco slices. Don't like olives? - leave 'em out (its no longer close to a tapenade however). I fully plan to use this method again but I think that next time I will use a slow cooker or add an hour of cooking time. To be true to the result that I created tonight I will use the cooking time here I used. My recommendation to you however if you want to try this would be to use a slow cooker. As this is a large chunk of meat full of sinew, it needs more love than it would in slices as in osso bucco. What I did was tender but didn't melt.
Should be enough meat for 6 adults. As for the pictures, annoyingly I could not rotate the first 2 no matter how hard I tried...

1 whole trimmed beef shank (see pic)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 stick celery in small dice
1 capsicum in small dice
1 carrot in small dice
1 onion in small dice
5 medium sized field mushroom in slices
1/2 bottle red wine
4 tbs oven roasted cherry tomatoes
1/2 bunch sage
3 cloves garlic chopped
3 large green olives minced
Extra virgin olive oil
3 or 4 tbs gremolata
2 bunches broccolini halved
2 bunches asparagus halved
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Parmesan cheese
Some great mash
Some great bread

Olive oil, salt and pepper the shank and sear it on all sides over a medium high heat in a dish with a lid large enough to cook it in, remove and allow to cool for a bit. Combine the chopped olive, sage, chopped garlic and enough extra virgin olive oil to lubricate the mixture. Rub the olive/sage mixture on the outside of the shank. Reheat the cooking dish then toss through the diced carrot, onion, capsicum, celery and sliced field mushrooms through the left over shank seared oil. Deglaze the pan with red wine, nestle in the shank, scatter the cherry tomatoes around the shank, cover and slow cook at 130C for 3 hours.
Prep the rest of the vegetables, and heat the water etc. Make the mash and cover. Remove the shank to a clean plate and cover with foil. Spoon off as much fat with a spoon as you can and discard. Add half the gremolata to the shank sauce and cover for 5 -10 minutes while you finish everything else off.
Steam the greens for 5 mins starting with the broccolini then adding the asparagus 2 mins later (depending on thickness). Drain the greens, allow to steam out for a minute then dress with the extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon juice and as much Parmesan as you like.
Try to carve the shank off the bone in 2 or 3 large chunks then slice as thick as necessary (I went for 1cm thick slices). Spoon some shank sauce/vegetables onto clean bowls or plates, add some mash and top with slices of meat, more gremolata and greens with pieces of bread on the side. My mash had horseradish in it.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Crab Lasagna with Blue and Ricotta Cheeses

I haven't cooked crab lasagna for a couple of years now and I am glad that I have here again. I think that there is room for manipulation in this recipe as long as the crab still has the opportunity to shine through. For example, I think next time I may try to make the tomato sauce a little lighter and sweeter by using blanched and skinned fresh tomato. In any case the component of this that has worked the best was the ricotta with lemon rind and blue cheese. The blue worked well as a background flavour and the lemon really refreshed the whole dish. Finally, if you can, try and make the lasagna sheets yourself, you end up with a much lighter result. I also think that some baby spinach or rocket added into the cooked tomato gear would be great. If you want this to taste better still, use twice the amount of crab - it will be expensive though...

V 2.0 Update
I basically followed this recipe however I made the tomato sauce the day before using a full bottle of passata. I used fresh crab and infused some of the shell and two fish frames into it and didn't add any sugar. I had some sauce left over after making the lasagne so I reduced the remaining tomato sauce, added 1 tbs sugar and some quartered cherry tomatoes and poured this over the top at the end. For the white sauce I also made 1 cup of bechamel to mix with the cheeses. Nice.

220 gms crab meat (I use Phillips Crab Meat)
1 handful chopped parsley
2 tsp garlic oil
Salt and pepper
1 tbs chopped fresh herbs (I used sage and thyme)
Olive oil
5 or 6 mushroom in small dice
2 shallots in fine dice (or 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup white wine (I used Riesling)
1/2 bottle tomato passata
2 tsp sugar
500 gms ricotta
1 handful of basil leaves
Rind from 1/2 a lemon (more if necessary)
1 tbs chopped blue cheese (more if necessary)
1 bunch asparagus finely sliced, tips reserved
3 tbs oven roasted cherry tomatoes
Lasagna sheets
Grated cheese

Preheat an oven to 180C. Saute the onion, minced garlic and chopped herbs over a medium heat in some olive oil until translucent. When soft add the mushroom and saute until soft and with some colour. Add the wine and allow to absorb. When the wine is almost gone add the passata and reduce until quite thick. Mix in the sugar and check for seasoning.
Combine the crab, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and garlic oil.
Roll the basil leaves together and thinly slice. Combine the ricotta, lemon rind, some pepper, the sliced basil and chopped blue cheese.
Build your lasagna. Layer in some crab and top with sliced asparagus. Spoon over a generous amount of tomato sauce. Add a layer of lasagna sheets and top with a healthy amount of ricotta mixture. Repeat the layering process until you run out of gear finishing with a lasagna sheet and ricotta mixture. On the top layer scatter about the oven roasted cherry tomatoes and place the asparagus tips down the centre in a line. Top with the grated cheese of your choice (I use mozzarella and Parmesan). Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check to see if it is cooked with a skewer (there should be no resistance) and serve with some nice bread and a garden salad.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Herb and Pimenton Rump, Prawn and Haloumi Kebabs

A touch on the fiddly side but no more fiddly than any other kebab threading experience. The marinade was easy to make and was very tasty and I can see this being worthwhile as a marinade for steak, Portugeezer style. To thread the skewers for this I used rosemary branch as I have a mate who has a brilliant rosemary bush that I could attack. Instead of wasting what I had stripped off to obtain the sticks, I have kept the leaves in a bowl for later use. The herbs I used for this were sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary. I tried adding potato to these skewers but they kept splitting...

2 tbs garlic oil
1 handful fresh mixed herbs, chopped
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp pimenton (smoked paprika)
Salt and pepper
500 gms diced rump
1 packet of haloumi in large dice
500 gms prawn shelled and halved
1 capsicum in large dice
7 pieces prosciutto
1 preserved lemon chopped finely
Olive oil
10 small button mushrooms halved
10 kebab skewers (or rosemary branches)
Lemon wedges for serving

Combine the garlic oil, chopped herbs, salt and pepper, vinegar and pimenton in a mixing bowl. Toss the rump through the marinade and allow to sit for 30 mins, turning occasionally. Prep all of the vegetables and haloumi while you wait. Combine the haloumi and preserved lemon with some olive oil. Tear each piece of prosciutto into quarters then roll each piece. Preheat a barbecue grill to high.
Thread the ingredients onto skewers in sequence. Barbecue the kebabs turning occasionally, basting with any of the leftover marinade. When cooked, squeeze on some lemon. Serve with lemon slices.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cacciatore, Basil'd Chicken and Blue Cheese Risotto

Not very many ingredients (for me), little prep, lots of flavour. Both the cacciatore and blue I used in this recipe I bought from a local deli on a whim and I was really impressed with both. Cooking the chicken and toasting the grains in the rendered cacciatore oil was the key to this recipe and, the blue made it really luscious. The cacciatore was Tomewin Farm Mild Cacciatore and the blue Tarago River Shadows of Blue. The blue was not too pungent (enough for my wife to actually like it) and was really creamy. The cacciatore was similarly not overpowering, unlike a lot of small goods I find to be. If you can get your hands on them, you won't be disappointed.
As always with my recipes, if you don't have something, substitute or leave it out but, whatever you can include however will add to the risotto's depth.

1/2 a cacciatore in thin-ish slices
4 chicken thigh fillets
1 tbs chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper
1 tbs oven roasted cherry tomato oil
2 handfuls basil leaves
2 shallots in fine dice (or 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 clove garlic bashed a bit
2 cups risotto rice
1 cup white wine
A mushroom version
1 litre chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
Olive oil
2 tbs chopped parsley (stalks reserved)
2 or 3 tbs blue cheese (will depend on its severity)

Combine the chicken thigh fillets, salt and pepper, rosemary and oven roasted cherry tomato oil. Line the bottom of a plate with the basil leaves. Add the chicken stock to a small saucepan, add in the parsley stalks and bashed garlic and heat until simmering.
Heat a little olive oil to a medium heat in a large heavy based saucepan with high sides. Add in the cacciatore slices, frying both sides until they have some colour, remove to the plate with the basil, cover and place in a warm place. Add the chicken thighs to the same pan and cook in the same oil until it has colour and is cooked through. Remove to the basil/cacciatore plate, covering as many basil pieces as possible, cover and keep warm.
Saute the onions and minced garlic in the cacciatore oil until translucent then, add and toast the risotto grains for a couple of minutes. Deglaze with the white wine, scrapping up any bits. From this point add 1 or 2 ladles of stock at a time when each previous one is almost absorbed. When the stock is almost all gone, try a few rice grains, if they are still quite uncooked add more stock to your saucepan and continue until cooked. This should take about 18 - 20 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking process, chop half of the chicken and dice all of the cooked cacciatore. Discard the basil but reserve the resting juice.
When adding the final ladle, add the blue cheese, juice from the cooked chicken, the chopped chicken, the cacciatore, parsley, check for seasoning and add the lid and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 4 for 5 minutes.
Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls, top with sliced chicken pieces and a squeeze of lemon.

mushroom version again

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Garlic Thyme Kipflers

Was simple - cook salmon, toss precooked potato in salmon flavoured oil with some more flavours. The thing I love about salmon is, although it is expensive its really rich so you don't need much. One salmon fillet was enough for myself, my wife and some for the kids for dinner the following night, about $10. To serve the salmon in this dish I didn't make a sauce which I normally would, I used a store bought balsamic reduction. They seem expensive at about $13 a bottle but I have only used about 5ml so far for about 10 meals.

Salmon fillets with skin on
1 tbs stripped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Kipfler potatoes cut into large bite sized pieces
Garlic oil
Handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
Barbecued corn with feta and lemon
Parsley leaves to serve
Balsamic vinegar glaze

Boil the kipflers until just tender, keep warm. Heat a large frying pan to medium high. Using a sharp knife make a couple of length ways incisions a couple of mm deep into the skin. Oil the salmon fillets, season with salt and pepper and stuff the cuts in the skin with about half of the thyme. Add a little olive oil to the frying pan then place in the fillets skin side down. Cook the salmon until it is white-ish halfway up the thickest part of the fillet (about 5 minutes, maybe more). Carefully (so as not to damage the skin) flip the salmon and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove to a clean plate, cover and keep warm.
Add some garlic oil to the frying pan and the thyme leaves and toss about. When fragrant add in the potato, white balsamic, salt and pepper and quartered tomato. Toss through the flavoured oil.
Slice the salmon into portions and add to serving plates skin side up. Serve with some potato, barbecued corn, some more cracked pepper and some parsley leaves. To finish add a little balsamic vinegar glaze to each salmon fillet.

Barbecued Corn with Feta and Lemon

2 minutes prep, a few minutes to cook, about 30 seconds to eat. Barbecued corn is also radical with Parmesan and, if you like use limes instead or as well.

Corn on the cob, husk removed and silk stripped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Marinated feta
Lemon wedges

Heat the grill on a barbecue to high. Rub a little oil on each cob and season with salt and pepper. Cook the corn until it has nice colour all over then remove to a clean plate. Add the feta to the cooked corn (you don't need much) and squeeze in a little lemon. Toss about to coat evenly. Serve with more cracked pepper and lemon wedges.