Monday, November 29, 2010

Beef Wellington, for one or two!

I have been wanting to try doing Beef Wellington for some time now, but most recipes I have seen have been to cook a big lump of meat, which means having a few people over and then I would worry that it wouldn’t turn out too good etc etc
Anyway today I happened across a blog which inspired tonight’s dinner, Individual Beef Wellingtons!  Wished I had thought of that, but no matter I have been inspired by other’s ideas before today!  Whilst the blog I read had a recipe, I thought it needed a bit more than what was listed, so I took the meat and mushrooms from it and then made my own version from there and it worked out not too bad, made a bigger meal than I intended but it was full of great flavour and yummy crispy pastry on the outside, teamed with a gravy packed full of flavours, some mash potato and green beans, we were in Jo’s idea of heaven!

If you want to have a go at my version, here’s how I went about it.
2 Scotch fillet steaks, about 130 grams would be good
2 sheets puff pasty
300 grams field mushrooms
1 tbsp lemon thyme
1 clove garlic, sliced
30 gram butter
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 cup stock
2 shallots, sliced
2tbsp mustard, I used Australian mustard, but think Hot English would be better had I been able to get it, you could use either Dijon or horseradish cream also, whatever you prefer.
1 tbsp gravox
1 egg
Preheat oven to 220C (200 fan forced)
Melt butter in a pan over medium heat, cook the mushrooms with the shallots, garlic and thyme for a few minutes, then add ½ cup of the red wine, continue to cook until wine has reduced or evaporated.  Transfer mushrooms to a bowl, lined with a few sheets of paper towel, bundle up and squeeze as much juice out as possible, reserve juice and put mushrooms into a food processor with the parsley and blitz for a couple of minutes to form a loose paste.
Reheat the pan and brown the steaks all over on a high heat, just enough to seal the meat, remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Lay a sheet of pastry out on a cutting board and spread ¼ of the mushroom mix over the centre, about the size of the steak.  Spread mustard of one side of a steak and turn over and place on top of mushies.  Now spread mustard over the top, then the other ¼ of the mushie mix. Wrap the steak up with the pastry, trim away the excess and seal the ends well.  Use the left over pastry to put a little motif on the top, I did a leaf design, which turned out to look like a mull leaf!! (now there’s a thought) , brush the pastry with beaten egg and place in oven on middle shelf, cook for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Meanwhile, pour the mushroom juices back into the pan and add the other ½ cup of red wine and the stock, cook over high heat until reduced by half, thicken with gravox, add more water if required as needed, I used the water from the green beans to add further flavour.  (You could use plain flour or cornflour instead of gravox as there is enough flavour as it is, gravox made it a lot richer)

Serve immediately, with vegetables or salad

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lamb roast

Lamb roast, Tom Cruise eat your heart out! I had my wife eating out of my hands tonight and you wouldn’t have even got a look in if you know how my wife loves her roast & gravy – excuse me...I meant gravy & roast!
Well I only left the PC to go pick my sisters up from the airport and my wife seems to have taken over writing my blog for me, thanks darling, I’ll take it from here!

I had the best afternoon cooking, apple pie, cauliflower au gratin and a yummy roast, enjoying a few Corona’s and Michael Bubble` in the background, great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Yep did a lamb roast tonight, and quite differently to the traditional roast my Mum makes, and it turned out amazing, the lamb was super tender and the gravy was outstanding.  I cooked the roast in my big scan pan oven, with the lid on and with a half cup of stock and a kilo of tomatoes around the meat. 

The meat literally melted in your mouth and the juices made the best gravy ever, once the meat was cooked I poured the juices through a sieve, to remove the tomato skins and seeds, this also puréed the flesh of the tomato.  I then put the pan on the stove and brought to the boil and let it simmer a few minutes to reduce to a little and added 2 tablespoons of gravox mixed in a cup of water, to help thicken it a bit more.
To accompany the lamb I roasted, Potato, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Baby Carrots, I steamed some Beans and made a Cauliflower and Broccoli au Gratin, which has a very tasty cheese Mornay sauce.  The Potatoes were dusted in a curry based dukkah, which made them awesome!

I have a very big belly now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baked barramundi with fennel, mint and capers

I was sitting at my computer eating lunch today and chatting with my work mate Dave, when I asked what was for dinner tonight, he answered he did not know, and then went on to say he had been to the fish monger in Fitzgerald Street to try the barramundi I had told him about a couple of weeks back.  The memories come back to me of the meal I cooked and I got to thinking I wouldn’t mind having that again and I knew Jo would be happy to have it as she raved about it last time.
I could not remember all the ingredients I would need to do the dish so I googled “barramundi, white wine and capers” which produced no less than 24,300 pages, the second or third one down grabbed my attention and upon opening and reading the recipe and seeing the content of the pages within, I thought, bugger it I am going to give this one a go, the fact the blog started out with the sentence “Here's a dish you can make in half an hour flat from prep to dish”, sealed the deal.
There was no photo of the prepared dish, apparently the food was devoured before the cook got a chance to rattle off a couple of snaps!, after eating it I understand why, but you don’t need photo’s to cook do you?
Oven ready, looks great already!
The dish as the author had stated took no more than 30 minutes to prepare, cook and plate, I took a couple of minutes to get the snaps and as you can see it made a great looking meal, but better yet it was a great tasting meal, just the thing for a Friday night after a very busy week.

Fish on a Friday night used to be common place, now most, only follow this trend through Lent, if at all, which is a pity because fish really is so easy to prepare and so good to eat!
The recipe for this dish can be found here, the site is well worth having a look through, enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pho Gai

In the past few weeks I have made a go at a few Pho Gai’s and actually commented to Jo after the last one that I would like to find a good recipe to really nail it and I have come pretty close tonight with this dish.
Pho Gai for the uninitiated is the Vietnamese equivalent of chicken soup, pho meaning soup and gai chicken, bo is beef and thit cho, dog meat, good one to avoid, though I know a dog close by that I would like to put in a pot of broth!!!
I found the recipe whilst looking for the actual recipe Bella wanted yesterday, which I am still to find, and found it like last night’s recipe on the junior masterchef site.  I find that a little funny because I am a big MC fan, but did not watch much of the junior series as I don’t think kids that young should be in the kitchen and put under so much pressure, let them be kids for God’s sake I say!  But here we are and I have now had two fantastic recipes from the show, two nights running, so it might be worth having a little bit more of a look see, maybe it is that these kids were cooking a little closer to my level!
Anyway back to the pho, I was really wrapped with it, the flavours were absolutely spot on, and as Jo said with her first mouthful, “that just took me back to Ben Thanh Markets in Ho Chi Min City”, the only thing missing was the humidity, the noise, the smells and the beggars!  But it was nice to back there, even if only for a fleeting moment in our memories!
This was a bit more effort than what I have gone to in the past few weeks, having started the chicken stock from scratch, but it was great to put it together and see where and how these fantastic flavours come from, though for when I want to come on a week night and make a quick bowl of Pho Gai, I intend to make a mega proportion of the stock next time and freeze until it is required, then it will be just a matter of throwing a few vegies and noodles in a bowl and ladling the heated stock over the top, now that’s an easy mid week meal!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Herb crusted lamb with stuffed mushrooms and roasted potatoes

I actually asked my wife to cook me dinner tonight as I was feeling a little worse for the wear from a late Tuesday night, but unfortunately for me my wife was a little worse for wear than I, so it seems and I got told “no way”.
Funnily enough a few minutes after this conversation had taken place my sister Bella phoned me with a few PC problems and one thing lead to another as it does, and I was then asked if I could find this recipe for herb crusted lamb.  I found the recipe, quite easily and having seen it decided that we would have that ourselves tonight, so I sent Jo the shopping list for the ingredients , so all I needed to do was put it all together on arriving home.

I phoned Bella after dinner to let her know the recipe was a beauty and the lamb was the best, absolutely to die for, as were the mushrooms, it was then she let in on the fact that I had sent her the wrong recipe after all!
But I am far from disappointed, it was so tasty, the herb crust really was delicious and the lamb so tender, I could not stop myself from cleaning up the herbs on the baking tray, this is one meal that will become a regular in this household, and the mushrooms are perfect for an entree or as party food, and it was so easy a kid could do it!
If you'd like to make it part of your repertoire, you can find this very simple recipe here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Amuse` ( I think)

Just home from a long awaited event, an evening dining on the creations of Hadleigh Troy @ Amuse (there should be one of those little French things `over the e, but I am not clever enough to do that, yet) and now I know.., no understand what all the talk has been about, in a word unbelievable, truly, unbelievable!

I booked our place at this event some months ago, keeping it as a surprise for Jo, and right up until we entered the restaurant she had no idea of where she was going, or what to expect, I on the other hand knew exactly where I was going and only dreamed of what I might expect! 
But then I have dreamt of dining at this establishment for some time now, I walk past the doors to this restaurant every day and I look to see if I can see anyone that works there, it is bizarre, but I do.  I have been taken by the place since the neon sign out the front first appeared, in the most unsuspecting place you could think of.
I have known this place since I was a child, and since that time it has been of such little consequence, an old terrace house from my earliest memories and later in life, the location of a really good Indonesian restaurant, that I cannot name, but the food was good.
Then one day this sign Amuse` (I think that might be it) appeared and it has had me intrigued ever since, right up until I learnt what Amuse~ (I think that might be it) was really all about, well that is an overstatement really because I really didn’t learn what Amuse` was all about until this evening, and even now I think I have only learnt half the story!
Ok, I have had a few wines and probably not enough food to absorb that what has been drunk, but I think what I have said is true, I will explain, if you give me the time!
You see the food at Amuse` (I am just going to go with this from here on in, you can laugh if you so desire) is the most amazing food you could ever imagine, true there is not a lot of it on each plate, which is so delicately placed in front of you, but there is so much on that plate it is truly unbelievable and I am phucked if I know how they do it!  But by Geesus, I cannot wait to go back!
This evening was a promo sort of thing by others outside of Amuse`, parties interested in good food and good wine, the wine in fact was provided by those interested parties, and damn good wine to, from a winery steeped in family tradition, wines that my own true love enjoyed so much that I sit here by myself eating last night’s left over’s (and they weren’t bad either) whilst she is setting a crescendo of ZZZZ’s in the background whilst I tap away at the keyboard!
I really am finding it hard to put into words what I have taken from tonight, which is strange, because what I have taken with me will be with me forever, and as of yet I have not yet mentioned the company to which I got to enjoy, to experience, this wonderful event with, and before this evening I had not met these wonderful people before, I can only hope I have the privilege of meeting them again, with a little luck, no I think we would need a lot of luck, it would be sharing a table at Amuse`.
Thank you Hadleigh and Caroline for a wonderful evening.
Thank you Franklin Tate for the wonderful wines.
Thank John Maiorana for the wonderful opportunity.
Jack and Jo x
Restaurant Amuse on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chicken mushroom parcel

Decided to try something a little different tonight and I am not entirely happy I did, mainly due to being very frustrated thanks to being unable to separate sheets of filo pastry, very annoying.  I did manage in the end with some help from my gorgeous wife Jo, and once separated it became quite easy to do.  Was a little surprised with the amount of butter used to spread between each sheet of filo, I don’t think this recipe would make it between the cover of a Weight Watchers magazine!

The filling of chicken breast, mushrooms, Romano cheese and thyme was very nice, though I think I will use a different cheese if making again, maybe substituting with gruyere or better still fontina.
I roasted potato, sweet potato and carrots to go with the meal along with some steamed green beans and asparagus.  Whilst I was happy with the end result and combination of flavours, Jo would have preferred a little gravy over the top of her chicken parcel, but these few things I will take on board and maybe incorporate into the next effort, if I can bring myself to battle against the filo pastry again!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Midweek Dinner for Two

Crispy skinned Barramundi and King Prawns with a Capers and White Wine Sauce

A few months back a mate told me about this fish monger in Fitzgerald St, North Perth, saying it was a pretty good shop with great seafood, I said I’d have to stop by and try them out, shouldn’t have been too hard after all, I drive past the front door three nights out of five on my way home!
Well it has taken me a few months to actually pull over and go check out their wares, but tonight I did and I was happy I had, they do have some great stuff, a large variety and it is all nice and fresh.  After examining the several display fridges I decided on a couple of fresh barramundi fillets and a few fresh king prawns, because they looked so good.
Having brought the fish I spent the rest of my drive home wondering how I was going to cook and what to have with it.  Several ideas sprang to mind, but it wasn’t until I pulled into Balcatta Fresh on Karrinyup Road that I formed a better idea of what I would do, and that was only after lots of toeing and throwing! 
I walked out with a bunch of white asparagus, a head of broccoli, some fronds of dill, a carton of cream and the idea that I should be able to knock up something half decent with the ingredients I had in hand.
Jo had a big day, up at six to start in on a few orders for work, before getting out amongst her customers, and then called in to accompany her Mum to her specialist’s appointment, and then she rang me about 6:30PM to say she would be a bit late as they had been held up.  Which was fine by me as I had everything prepared by then, so all I needed to do was cook the seafood and finish the sauce when she got home, I was also able to clean up, do the dishes and set the table whilst I waited for her.  Given her big day, I decided to make it a bit nicer than usual, put a bottle of wine in to chill and played a little music, I think she was pleasantly surprised when she walked in and was instructed to sit ready for dinner.

I actually felt a bit like Hadleigh Troy cooking this meal, I was so prepared for a change, and the white wine and capers sauce turned out a treat, even Hadleigh would have been chuffed with that!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beef pot roast

In the year 2000 I was living with my 20 year old son in Thornlie, and relatively new to coming home to cook each night, to say we had some interesting meals would be an understatement, but at the same time we had some humdingers too!
One such meal was beef pot roast, the first time I tried this I arrived home with a piece of beef and no idea how to cook it, so as I often did I rang my Mum and asked how do you cook pot roast, after her explanation I set about cooking my first pot roast, but couldn’t help thinking it sounded a bit plane Jane.  To jazz it up a bit I decided to put some onions into the pot, then some capsicum and then celery, a drop of wine and a pinch of this and a pinch off that.  That was ten years ago now, my son turns 30 in a couple of weeks, my doesn’t time fly when you are having fun!
Tonight I decided to try and recreate that tasty meal, and I have come pretty close to it, if my memory serves me well, I know I have done a few things different, but then who can remember exactly what I did 10 years ago when nothing was written down, there wasn’t time it was all we could do to get a meal on the table, eaten and cleaned up before bed time!
The first thing different tonight was the cut of meat, a 750 gram Virginia Roast, it was labelled and it was completely fatless, now I know fat is not good for you, but it does carry a lot of flavour!  The next major difference was the use of red wine, something never thought of back in Thornlie, didn’t quite make the shopping list due to budget constraints!  The last thing I can remember that I did differently, was not thickening the pan juices tonight, but rather had them just as they came out of the pot.
The overall result was great, very tender meat, in some very tasty juices, even the slightly burnt roast potato and sweet potatoes couldn't detract from what turned out to be a great meal, very yummy, not much room for apple pie tonight, best have a smallish slice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dusit Thai - Green Curry Chicken

Back in March 2005, Jo and I had meal in celebration of my twin sisters birthdays, at the Dusit Thai restaurant in Northbridge, Perth.  It was a very memorable night for many reasons, for one the food at the restaurant was some of the best Thai I have ever eaten, the restaurant has won several Gold Plates and many other awards.
Then there was the bottle of wine we took along to enjoy with our meal, I gave the bottle to the waiter and he seemed to take an eternity to come back with it, when he did he had mentioned it was very hard to open.
The wine within was divine, one of the best Cab Sav's I have ever enjoyed, it was only after my nephew read the label that we realised the wine to be over 15 years old, and it had aged beautifully, and a bottle gifted to me from Jo's sister for Christmas 2004.
The other memorable thing from that occasion was my being so taken by the Green Curry Chicken, always one of my favourites and this one, if not the best, was definitely amongst the best!  I had mentioned this to our waiter and commented that I would love the recipe, he responded by telling me that I could enrol for a cooking lesson and not only get the recipe but be shown how to cook it perfectly.
So on that last day in March 2005, I enrolled for the one and only cooking lesson I have had in my life, I cannot remember what it cost me, but it was worth ever penny, not only for that recipe, but for the knowledge of what exact ingredients to use and where to buy them in Perth, and the place to buy them is still my favourite Asian store, fantastic store run by fantastic people!

I cooked that recipe a number of times in the next few months after my lesson, then we packed up and moved house, three times before settling in our current home, and somewhere along the way with all the packing and unpacking I lost that recipe, devastated as I was, I had faith and believed that one day it would come back to me.  Jo was going through some stuff recently and she come out with the recipe in hand asking "do you still want this or shall I bin it?", I quickly took it from her and put it back in it's rightful place and very happy to have it back, stains and all, ... it has been laminated now and so I should have it forever more!
I brought that recipe out tonight and made that curry for dinner and it was just as I remembered it, fantastic!  Though, I followed the recipe a little too closely, so it was a tad too spicy for me, and so much so for Jo, she could not eat all her dinner, so next time I will leave the red chilli's out all together!
Dusit Thai March 31 2005 - there was a lot less of us back then!
Dusit Thai on Urbanspoon