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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Thai Braised Fennel

The picture for this features a half eaten portion. I wasn't expecting this to be as amazing as it was - new best ever thing I have cooked. As I just throw these things together, I am guessing about the amount of fish sauce so, the best advice I can give here is adjust as necessary. This was cheap and quick to bung together and I plan on regularly recreating this.

1 bulb fennel in 8th wedges
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
2 stalks lemon grass bashed
1 thumb ginger sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 star anise
1/3 bunch coriander
1 handful basil
1/2 tin coconut milk
2 tbs teriyaki sauce
1 tbs mirrin
1 slice prosciutto 
Juice of half a lemon

Heat the oil to medium high and sear the fennel on as many sides as possible. Add in the garlic and ginger and bashed lemon grass stalks (halve them if necessary) and fry till aromatic. Pour in the teriyaki, mirrin, juice, the stalks from the coriander, the star anise and the coconut milk. Mix about, add a lid and reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 2 hours. Grill the prosciutto until awesome then allow to cool and crisp up. Chop the herbs and prosciutto together. Check the fennel for seasoning. Spoon some fennel and sauce into clean bowls and top with the herbs and prosciutto and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Sage and Thyme Pork Belly

Only because the crackling was perfect. The crackling was still crispy the next night cold from the fridge.

1 piece pork belly, skin scored
1 handful sage leaves
handful thyme leaves
1 tbs salt
1/2 an onion sliced
4 or 5 mushrooms sliced
1 carrot sliced thin-ish
1 cup sparkling white wine
1 cup stock (or more if desired)
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 lemon in quarters
2 tsp (or more) sugar
Olive oil

Chop the herbs. Spread the onion on the bottom of a roasting tray, top with the sliced mushroom and carrot. Pour over a little oil. Place the pork belly on top, pour on a little oil, add on the salt and chopped herbs and rub into the skin. Pour the wine in, avoid getting any on the skin, add in 3/4 of the lemon quarters and cover with foil. Cook in a preheated 170C oven for 1 hour then remove the foil, roast for a further hour then remove from the oven. Place the veg (pulp of the lemon only) and liquid from the roasting tray in a small saucepan with the stock and garlic. Simmer while the skin crackles then blitz with a stick blender. Check for seasoning, add some sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
To crisp the skin stick the belly under the griller, two shelves down so it doesn't burn, on high, rotating it every few minutes to get an even, super crispy result. 
I served this with blanched asparagus and a sweet potato and potato mash with some marinated feta mixed through.

Cacciatore Risotto Stuffed Sweet Chillis

I bought some long sweet chillis from some farmers markets and some great cacciatore and well, it just made sense. Capsicums work just as well. Easy and full flavoured.

1 cup risotto rice
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 clove garlic thinly sliced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 stick celery finely diced
1/3 cacciatore sausage finely diced
Splash of wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 or 3 long chillis
1/2 bottle passata
Lemon juice and rind
3 tbs grated parmessan
Some basil
1 tbs butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Heat the stock in a saucepan to simmering, flavour it some sliced garlic and celery stick ends. Melt the butter over medium high in a medium sized saucepan. Sauté the onion, celery, minced garlic and minced cacciatore. When translucent and fragrant add in the risotto grains and toast, tossing for a minute or two. Splash in the wine and when almost absorbed add in a couple of ladles of stock, stirring occasionally until almost absorbed, then repeat until you are down to the last couple of ladles worth. Should take about 18 minutes. Turn off the heat, ladle in the last of the stock and add in the parmessan, as much lemon rind as you think (maybe 1 tbs), a good squeeze of juice and stir. Check for seasoning and and add more of whatever is missing (salt and pepper or lemon juice). Add the lid, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Heat an oven to 180C.
Remove the top of each chilli or capsicum and carefully remove the seeds with a sharp paring knife. Fill the chillis with as much risotto as you can and secure the lid with tooth picks.
Pour the extra virgin into a small roasting dish, pour in the passatta, sliced garlic and some sliced basil. Stir to combine. Add in the stuffed chillis and rub with a little oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the chillis are softening and a little coloured. Remove, slice on an angle, place on plates and top with a little sauce and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sage, Lemon, Garlic and Anchovy Butter

Delicious to say the least. Most people turn their noses up at anchovies but as I have said before, once they cook - they do not taste like hairy fish - they taste like awesomeness. I used this to stick under the breast skin of a chicken I was roasting to allow it to self baste and the result was mouth wateringly good. Not only did the butter melt down through the meat and crisp the skin giving it colour and a deep flavour but it also soaked into the vegetables (portabella mushrooms, leek and garlic) I had underneath which I blitzed to form the basis of a gravy. A ridiculously tasty gravy. The remaining butter I rubbed over the outside of the bird. I can see after having made this that rolling it in cling film to form a butter sausage and freezing it would be brilliant for topping cooked steaks, a marinade for prawns/chicken thighs, finishing sauces or as a great way to maybe start a risotto. Less than 5 minutes work and perfect for ingredient experimentation.

3 tbs softened butter (or more if required)
1 handful sage
2 cloves garlic
Rind of 1/2 a lemon
3 anchovy fillets (less if you are scared)
Cracked pepper

Finely mince the garlic, sage and anchovy fillets with a knife. Add in the rind and mix through the butter with a fork. Done.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Individual Beef, Mushroom and Guinness Pies

So cheap, so easy so good.

500 gms gravy/slowcook/stewing beef diced
2/3 tin Guinness
300 or so gms mushrooms in chunks
2 cloves garlic
3 tbs flour
1 onion in small dice
1 sprig rosemary finely minced
2 tbs tomato paste
1 capsicum roasted, skinned, blitzed
Salt and pepper
Chilli tomato sauce
Olive oil
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
6 ramekins
Butter for greasing
1 egg beaten
Sesame seeds

Season the flour with salt and pepper and rosemary and coat the beef. Heat the oil to medium high then sear the meat in batches until they have nice colour then remove to a clean plate. Sear the mushrooms (more oil may be necessary) then remove to a clean plate. Saute the onion until soft and transparent. Add in the tomato paste and stir, mix through the beef and mushrooms then deglaze with the Guinness. Bring to the boil then reduce to the lowest setting, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. Stir through the roasted capsicum.

Preheat an oven to 200C. 
Grease the top of each ramekin with butter. 3/4 fill each ramekin with beefy goodness then top with pastry, cutting away excess, make a couple of small cuts in the top of each pie for steam. Place the ramekins on a baking paper lined tray and place any un-used strips of pasty on the tray as well. Prick the strips of pastry with a fork so they rise equally. Egg wash all pastry and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Oven bake for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it until golden and crispy. Serve with chilli tomato sauce. Rad.

Smoked Rainbow Trout and Mushroom Pate

This is simply mushroom goo with smoked trout through it. Wow. The piece of fish from the markets cost $11 and made 2 1/2 pots and left enough trout for pasta for 2. Bargain. As you can tell by the photo, this was served with some caramelised onion, beautiful cherry tomatoes from the same markets and some brie. A nice snack for us and a decadent dinner for the kids.

500 gms mushrooms finely minced
2 cloves garlic minced
100 gms butter
1 tbs chopped sage
A few whole sage leaves
1 good splash of white wine
4 or 5 tbs natural or Greek yoghurt
1/2 a smoked rainbow trout flaked
Salt and pepper

Heat half of the butter over medium high until foaming, add in the garlic and chopped sage. Cook until quite fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until very soft, add in the wine and reduce until almost absorbed completely . Season with salt and pepper, stir through the smoked trout and remove from the heat. Allow to cool a bit then mix through the yoghurt, check for seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper or yoghurt or if too rich, a squeeze of lemon.
Heat the remaining butter over medium high until foaming then spoon off the white stuff on top and discard. Once clarified, add in the whole sage leaves and toast. Fill ramekins with your pate and level out then pour over the butter and sage leaves. If you can wait, refrigerate until the butter sets. 

Simple Chilli Tomato Sauce

I make this all the time and even the kids (all under 5) love it. Do the whole thing for less than $5 and in less than 5 minutes easy. This is the same sauce that I use when making patatas bravas but I feel as though it needs it own recipe as I use it so freaking often. It gets used with breakfast, through pasta, on barbecued goods, alter it by adding blue cheese and sun dried tomatoes and sage, add it to burgers and use it on pizzas.  So so so so good. Amazing with prawns and prawn pasta.

1 bottle tomato passata (1/2 is good too)
2 cloves garlic  minced
1 chilli minced
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 handful basil leaves

Heat the oil to medium high, add in the garlic and chilli and when very fragrant, pour in the passata. Allow to simmer for 2 or 3 minutes then tear in the basil and a little salt. Allow to cool and refrigerate or just use straight away.