Friday, April 29, 2011

Spanish baked potato with Lamb Chop au gratin

Well this week we have been very fortunate to have eaten very well, very well indeed. I started the week out with a roast lamb, as I had purchased a beautiful enamel roasting dish whilst we were away in Busselton on the weekend, it is red in colour and is the covered type, handmade in Romania and I love it, though I need to rethink how I do my potatoes as they were more or less boiled rather than roasted, but the meat, MY GOD it was so moist and tender absolutely beautiful! I had half a cauliflower in the veggie box, so I accompanied the roasted meat and potatoes with a cauliflower au gratin and it went very nicely.

Wednesday saw us dining out at my favourite restaurant, catching up with friends, where I had the most awesome wood fired roast duck, it was delicious and went beautifully with the Swan Valley Shiraz by Talijancich Wines, must go for a drive out to the valley this weekend to pick up a few bottles!

Which brings us to Thursday night, I was back in the kitchen and tonight I wanted to try out a Baked Spanish Potato dish, I planned on teaming this up with some grilled lamb chops and in looking through the manual for my oven to work out how to do this, I came across a recipe for Lamb Chops Au Gratin, it look pretty easy and I thought it sounded like a plan so I went with it. The result had Jo Girl oohing and ahhing all through the meal, I had envisaged having some leftovers for lunch, but no, Jo hoed into four chops and a fair serving of the potato, unbelievable!

And the potato was just so good, so Moorish, I can see this being the way I cook potato bake well into our future, I have never eaten potato that was so delicious, it was so creamy smooth to bite into and so full of flavour, magnificent.

To make the potato begin by peeling and slicing potatoes into 1cm thick slices, which you then dip into beaten eggs and coat with flour. Heat olive oil in a pan, and shallow fry the potato in batches, 2 minutes each side until golden, once cooked layer into a casserole dish. Once all potato is browned, add a finely sliced onion to the pan and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, then add the tomato (flesh only) and cook a few more minutes tossing as it cooks, season with salt and pepper, cook until tomato begins to break down then sprinkle a teaspoon of flour over the top, mix in well, then pour over the potato. Add the tomato juice to 400 ml of chicken or beef stock, mix and then pour that over the potatoes gently until they are just covered, season well and put the cover on the dish and bake in a preheated oven (160C) for 45 minutes, then remove the lid and bake a further 15 minutes. Once cooked remove from the oven and stand for 5 to 10 minutes, you’ll find during this time the potatoes will absorb any juices and you will be left with the most amazing sauce.

3 large potatoes
3 eggs, beaten
Cup of flour
300ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
400g can whole tomatoes, drained and flesh separated out
Salt and pepper

If you want to try the Lamb chops au gratin you will need
50g butter
1 onion, finely diced
50g flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
Salt and pepper

Sweat the onion in butter over low heat for 10 minutes, then add flour and mix in well, turn the heat up a little and cook for a minute or so, season well with salt and pepper, I used a lot of pepper, then mix the milk and water together and pour over the onion, mix in well and bring to the boil, once boiled turn down to a slow simmer and let it cook for 10 – 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Meanwhile mix a tablespoon of fresh herbs, I used thyme, with 2 cloves of garlic crushed, a ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and about 50ml of olive oil, mix well with a whisk, then massage into your chops and let them sit at room temperature until you need them. When your onion sauce is cooked let it cool down, I put the whole pan on a cork in the fridge until needed.

So your ingredients for chops are
9 – 12 lamb loin chops
1 tbl spoon fresh herbs, thyme or rosemary or mix of both
50ml olive oil
Salt and pepper

When you have taken the potatoes out of the oven, leave the door open a few minutes and let it cool down a bit, then crank up the grill, place chops on a wire rack, be sure to have a tray a shelf or two down to catch the fat and any mess, place the chops under the grill and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the wire rack, turn the chops and coat with the onion mix, I used a piping bag and this worked well, be generous with the sauce, replace back under the grill for about 7 minutes, or until the sauce has a golden colour.

Serve with Spanish Potatoes and a good red!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Italian sausage and pea risotto

I have mentioned here before my passion for shopping at Drovers in Joondalup, it is a fair drive from home but I love going there, especially on a Sunday.  Whenever I enter the massive butcher shop my first stop is at the closet fridge to the entrance, this fridge is packed full of chicken carcasses, beef and lamb bones etc which are ideal for making stock.  I usually grab a bag of 4 chicken carcasses, for the princely sum of $2.00/kilo, they are fantastic value.  Once in the fruit and veg section I’ll grab a few extra veggies to make stock when I get home.  It has become the tradition to start chopping veggies and roasting the carcasses even before I have unpacked and put away the rest of the shopping.  Once the stock s made and placed in the fridge to cool, I am absolutely delighted, as I know I have got such a great base for so many dishes and sauces, so much better than brought stocks.  Tonight as I took the last of the Steak and Kidney pie from the fridge I noticed I still had 4 or 5 cups of stock from my last lot I had made, all through dinner I was wondering what to do with those 4 or 5 cups, no way was I going to throw it out, and it was a bit late for freezing it, there was no choice but to cook something.  Being that I did not have to cook dinner, I did not want to do anything to difficult, so I asked Jo if she would be interested in a risotto for her lunch tomorrow, she was very keen.  So once dinner was over I set about cooking risotto, this will be easy I thought, as I cut up onion and measured out butter, I decided I would add some Italian sausage, so out with the sausage, cut that up and start melting butter.  In with the onion, cook for 3 – 4 minutes till nice and soft, smelling great already, then decide to add the Arborio rice next and commence stirring, mixing well with the rice and onion when I notice dark brown grains in there, not happy Jan, I start to pluck the dark gains out when I notice the grains have legs and little faces, bloody weevils that’s what they are!!! So in the bin with that lot and off to the pantry to get a new packet, well you guessed it there is none in the pantry, bugger!  Quick phone call to my sister, but no luck there, no I have to go and find a shop at 7:45, not a happy chappy.
I did manage to get a packet, and did not have to go that far, so that was not too bad after all, so off we go back home to cut up some onion, measure out some butter etc …
As it turned out on the second go I decide to add the Italian sausage with the onion and I think this worked well, then added the rice after a few minutes and then the wine a couple of more minutes before starting to add the hot stock.  I love risotto, though I will never order it at restaurants anymore, as I am a bit biased and am very critical of others attempts to make a perfect risotto.  I learnt the secret to making risotto from a big bald headed Italian, who looked more Russian to me, but who am I to judge, he’d be too hard to fight in a dark alley!  This guy has won numerous awards for his risotto, it is supposed to be pretty good, and his secret is that you do not stir it once the white wine has been added, but shake the pan vigorously instead, I have used this method since and I believe it works.  Apparently if you stir the rice, you knock the guts out of it and it deflates the grains, shake it and each and every grain is nice and plump and full of flavour, well mine is anyway, my secret is the stock, it has to be home made, made with love from chicken carcasses and fresh veggies and a little drop of wine!

I actually took some amazing photos of my ingredients, all cut up and precisely measured out, but as Murphy’s Law goes the storage card was not in the camera so I only have the finished product, bugger!

50g butter
1 onion
150g Italian sausage, halved and thinly sliced
275 Arborio rice
150 ml dry white wine
4 – 5 cups chicken stock, boiling
225g frozen peas
50g Parmesan cheese
Melt butter, add onion, cook 3 minutes, add sausage cook 1 minute, add rice cook, stir well and cook until it starts to pop, add wine allow rice to absorb, then add a ladle of hot stock, shake the pan vigorously, when absorbed add another ladle, shake pan vigorously, continue until all stock is used up.  Add the peas just before last ladle of stock, shake in add the stock, bring back to boil, shake some more, take off heat, add butter flip through the rice, now add the Parmesan and gently stir through, grab some bread and a glass of vino and bon appetite! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

BIG weekend, BIG steak and kidney pie!

Wow, what a full on weekend, almost all about food and wine too, which has been a great way to spend time with family and friends. Started out Friday with a family night at‘s place for a catch up with Jo’s Mum, she had been down for check up’s etc after her brain surgery last year, she is going great and giving as much cheek as ever, thanks for a great lamb hot pot Dot!

Saturday saw me being house bitch in the morning whilst my wife was pampered at the hairdressers and then by the nail technician, living in the lap of luxury whilst I battled away at home doing the washing, gardening, and shopping for the week, preparing lunch for Jo girl, after lunch I decide sod this and took myself to Joondalup for some ground roots footy at the West Perth v East Perth game. Unfortunately due to very biased umpires the game went to the garlic munches, but what can you do with so many cheats in the world? But had a great day with Michelle and Mark Gregson and their family, was a good day out.

Saturday evening was spent wining and dining with Kev and Annemarie Sparks at Cream in East Perth, a very nice night indeed, the food was great, the wine was fabulous and the company, well that was the best! Had a fantastic slow cooked beef dish, which melted in your mouth and was quite a large meal, so walked out feeling like a stuffed pig.

As if that was not enough great food for one weekend, Sunday morning after a bit of a sleep in , we were up and off to Northbridge with some more great friends for Yum Cha, would love to tell you the name of the restaurant, but I could not say it, let alone spell it, I know it started with Xia… and it is in Francis St, it was in fact my second visit to this restaurant, as I had been taken there for lunch on Thursday, and it is awesome, the food is amazing and it keeps coming out of the kitchen on the little trolleys, each one laden with different delicacies, funnily enough the first thing to hit the table was something I thought I would never eat, but did try on Thursday, that being Chickens Feet and they are so yummy! Never thought I would eat them, yet there you go, first dish chosen today! The best dish though was the roast pork, it was divine and the crackle was the best, I wish I could name everything we had, but firstly there was so much and secondly, I wouldn't have a clue with much of it, I just point at the stuff that looks good and it is passed to the table. Love Yum Cha!

After lunch we went and had coffee at Loreto (I think) which was actually the first place where Jo and I sat and ate together, so it was nice to stop by and have a coffee there. Sylvia and Harley kept us well entertained as usual, it was great to catch up with them again. After coffee Jo had to do a spot of shopping, as there was a shop open, the only shop we had to pass on the way back to the carpark by the way, but stop and shop she did, picking up some new jewellery and a new cookbook for me, so expect to see some Spanish delights here soon!

We managed to get home in time for the start of the footy, which was also great fun, and was great for me because Jo now understands that it is not only me that gets excited at the game, thanks for that Harley!

I had promised Jo a roast lamb dinner, but decided it was a bit late to start after the footy, so I went with something I had not made before, and I have had a hankering to make since a conversation I had with my Mum when I took her out for dinner last week. Mum had told me of some of the things Grandma would make her as a child, things like Jam Rolly Polly, Treacle Tart, Date Puddings and one of her favourites Steak and Kidney Pie, the dish I went with tonight. Though Grandma made hers with suet pastry and then steamed it for hours, I have opted for a simpler recipe and have used shop brought pastry, I do want to try the suet pastry and steaming method when I have some time to do both the research and to make it all the old way, but that will have to wait till another day, the pie we enjoyed tonight was big on flavour and made a hearty meal, Jo has requested leftovers for tomorrow night’s dinner, anyone want to join her?