Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leek risotto with lemon fish

Whilst leafing through one of my new cook books this morning looking for some inspiration for dinner, I asked Jo what she had in mind, when she said fish I was very pleased as I had been thinking I’d like to cook risotto and rice is a perfect accompaniment to go with fish.  A few pages into the book later and I had found the perfect recipe, leek risotto with lemon fish, it was perfect because it not only combined the two ingredients we wanted, but it was doable in a little over 35 minutes, the perfect dish for a Thursday night. 

The fact I had all but one ingredient in the house was also a big plus, the missing ingredient being a leek, I knew would be easy to source, so need to go out of our way to any speciality shops, although as it turned out there was a small catch in the end, as the shop I chose to go to now has a new shoe shop next door and whilst I did use a little will power and walked straight past on my way to the grocery store, I could not resist having a little peek on my way back.  I now have a lovely new pair of shoes, well they are boots in fact, at least I got out of it reasonably well, last time this happened I had Jo with me, we were going for coffee, 4 pairs of shoes and $600.00 later, well that was an expensive coffee!

The star ingredient tonight though, was the fish, and that was in fact a beautiful fillet of shark, Bronzy, I think the chap that gave it to Jo said it was, whatever, it was top quality, had been caught and preserved by someone that knew what they were doing when it came to fish, outstanding product and one that was perfect for our dinner.

Leek Risotto
200ml white wine
5 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
2 tbl spn olive oil
1 very large leek, or 3 very small, sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbl spn lemon juice
cracked black pepper
Lemon fish
60g butter
2 teaspoons shredded lemon rind
2 tbl spn chopped parsley
4 x 180g firm white fish fillets
2 tbl spn lemon juice
Place stock in saucepan on medium heat and bring to a steady simmer
Heat oil in pan and add leeks, cook until golden, about 6 minutes
Add the rice, stir in well and cook for 1 minute
Add the wine, cook until all wine has been absorbed, then add a ladle of hot stock, let that cook until totally absorbed before adding another ladle of stock, continue until rice is tender, soft and creamy.
Add the Parmesan and lemon juice and mix in well.
To make the fish, heat the butter, lemon rind and parsley in a pan over medium to high heat, add the fish and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until tender
add the lemon juice.
Serve rice in a bowl with fish on top, add a little more Parmesan and parsley.
Bon apetito

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pork fillet, wrapped in procuitto with goats cheese and asparagus

I couldn’t wait to get home from work tonight to cook dinner, I have been thinking about doing this dish for a few days, it is one I love and whilst I have done similar before there are a few elements on tonight’s plate that lifted it from a really good dish to an outstanding dish.

I had trouble deciding which cheese to go with there were so many to choose from at Balcatta Fresh, where I had stopped on my way home, after much deliberation I chose a small block of Caprakaas 100% Goat’s Cheese.  I had never eaten goat’s cheese before and it looked so interesting being as whit as it is, the flavour is amazing, it has a nuttiness about it, it cooked up nicely too and was still quite firm when I plated up.
Another element which really packed a punch was the apple sauce, again outstanding flavour, sweet and spicy which went beautifully with the saltiness of the prosciutto.  To finish the meal off, I made an apple cider and sage sauce which brought another level of tanginess to the end result.

I was really pleased with the end result, it was a dish that brought a new level of excitement with every mouthful, Jo rarely rates the food I prepare, however she decided to tonight, which confirmed to me just how much she enjoyed her dinner, and that to me is the most important thing of all!

As it turned out I had cooked enough for three people, which gave me the opportunity to practise my plating up skills, something Jo is always after me to improve, that was fun in itself, though I did not get as much time at it as I’d like, as Chef came on and when that happens it is time to sit and relax, to work on what’s for dinner tomorrow night!

Now, this might be a little bit silly, but I tell you what, leave me a comment at the bottom of this blog, and if I think your’s is the best, then we'll arrange to have you over and I'll cook this for you, deal?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vietnamese Clay Pot Chicken

I have for some time been yearning for an Asian styled clay pot to cook with, I have eaten and enjoyed food cooked in such a way several times and it has always appealed to me, they’re a simple, rustic looking implement and I have felt that it would also be that way when it came to cooking with them.
Then on Sunday when I ventured back to the same shopping centre to where I had enjoyed a Vietnamese lunch on Friday, I visited one of the best Asian markets in this part of the world.  As we walked along the sidewalk memories of the Benh Thanh Markets came flooding back, the only thing missing was the little old lady down on her haunches cleaning fish and yelling and waving her knife about when you got too close!  Whilst poking around the store and having a look at all kinds of things I found this beautiful little clay pot, short and shout, partly glazed, just perfect for cooking a yummy meal for two, I have been planning tonight’s dinner since.

And just as I anticipated, the cooking of this meal was so easy, I had prepared the meat last night before bed, which took me all of 7 minutes to prepare a marinade and cut the meat, plonk it in the fridge overnight.  On arriving home tonight, I chopped up some Asian greens and an onion, these were added to the meat, now in the little clay pot, poured a cup of stock over the top and into the oven with it for an hour, that easy!  During the hour we had time for a chat and a beer, put on some rice and check a few emails, very relaxed way of cooking indeed.

 The resulting meal was absolutely yummo, beautifully cooked meat and vegetables, piping hot perfect for a chilly night, the only extra work was to slice a chilli and pluck a few coriander leaves for garnish, so happy with my little clay pot, so very happy.

As it was a brand new pot I had to soak it overnight, apparently after the first use it is only necessary to soak for fifteen minutes.  I was fascinated by the streams of bubbles  leaching out of the porous clay.  When the wet pot heats up in the oven steam pours out of these same tracks, which is what helps to cook and tenderise the meat, love it, love it, love it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Roasted stuffed chicken breast wrapped in the prosciutto

Having a day off on Friday is the best thing, nice bit of a sleep in, then a short drive to my massage appointment, was a nice way to start the day.  On my drive to Wanneroo as I passed Marangaroo Drive, I thought to myself I must venture down that road on my way home to see if I could find the Vietnamese restaurant I keep hearing about.  Funnily enough during my massage, the naturopath actually asked if I knew where that good little Vietnamese restaurant was in Girrawheen, it is uncanny how things like that happen.  Anyway I took the detour on my way home and I found a little bit of Perth that would be equally at home on the outskirts of Ho Chi Min City and that is one part of the world that I would revisit in a heartbeat, so I was pleased to have taken that left turn off Wanneroo Rd.  There are a number of noodle houses in and around the small shopping centre, not knowing the name I was looking for I chose to try the place that had the menu written out in Vietnamese all over the windows the VIET LONG.

I ordered the Goi Cuon (Pork and Prawn fresh spring rolls) and Pho Tai (Raw Beef Hofun Soup), I was surprised when the spring rolls came out as there were three on the plate, I am used to getting two and they were so fresh the first one I ate the noodles were still warm.  The Hoi Sin dipping sauce that comes with it did not excite me when I saw it, it looked so different to anything I have had before, but once I took my first bite I was satisfied and pleasantly surprised all in one, it was delicious.  Typical of the way the Viet’s serve their food, I had no sooner taken that first bite and my soup was placed in front of me, piping hot and oh so fragrant it looked amazing, even though the beef was raw, I hadn’t realised I had ordered the raw meat dish, not that it mattered I have had it before and by the time I had added the fresh mint, bean shoots, chillies and lemon, the meat was perfectly cooked, very tender and the broth was full of flavour, Star Anise and Fish Sauce were prominent on the first taste, but this mellowed as the chilli and mint flavours infused.
I entered the restaurant at 11:35 and there were two gents at the table in the corner, by the time I left well fed and watered at 12:10 there was only one table available, all patrons were of Vietnamese decent and most were dressed as they do in HCMC, little black cap and all! My only disappointment over this lunch was the fact I did not have my camera and as luck would have it my phone was dead, so I could not take photos, so I have had to borrow a couple from the web and it really was not hard to find very similar looking dishes!  Once I arrived home I was able to get in touch with my friends that had told me of the place they go to, I had of course gone to the wrong place, so I will now have go back, like I needed an excuse!

I spent my afternoon paying my Dr My a visit for my biannual check up and after a quick look in a shirt shop afterwards, I was flapping about with nothing to do, so I headed home and decided to knock something up for Jo’s dinner.   I had a couple of ingredients in the fridge waiting for me to have an opportunity to use them and tonight I had the time, so I pulled 6 slices of prosciutto and the block of fontina cheese out and put them on the bench, looking for inspiration as to what to put with them, then on checking the pantry and finding some dried porcini mushrooms, I decided to go with roasted stuffed chicken breast wrapped in the prosciutto.  Once I re-hydrated the mushrooms I added them to a cup of shredded Chinese cabbage, a red capsicum which I charred on the gas burned, a few sprigs of thyme, crushed garlic clove and the cheese which I grated.

Needing a sauce for the dish I decided to use up some truss tomatoes I had and prepared Neil Perry’s roasted tomato sauce with them, given that it takes 90 minutes to cook this sauce, I got started on it first up, then half way through deciding I was not going to have enough sauce, I added a can of roma tomatoes to them and the left over juices from re hydrating the mushrooms, this made for a very rich sauce, a lot darker in colour and thicker in texture than I expected.  To accompany the meal I roasted carrots and capper berries in maple syrup, and pan fried asparagus and broccolini in some olive oil with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Curried Sausages and Apples

I always find it funny when I shop, every now and then I will buy an ingredient, just because I like that ingredient so much, such was the case the other day when I was at the deli bar and I saw my favourite big thick Italian sausages, just the sight of them made my mouth water!
It was only after buying four of those big boys and placing them in my trolley that it occurred to me that I would have to now cook them in some manner, but by the time I got to the checkout I had made my decision and I have been hanging out to cook my very own recipe for Curried Sausages and Apples since.

I had to make my very own recipe because I could not find anything like what I wanted to do with these big boys, I wanted the curry to be similar as that my Mum would make, and I also wanted to include apples in the dish, after that all I wanted was a nice balance between spicy n hot rounded out with a little bit of sweetness.
My only concern with the result was always going to be what Jo thought of it, as this dish contained two of her least favourites, yellow curry and sweetness.  That is why I had to laugh when she sat to eat her dinner and exclaimed with a surprised voice “Oh I thought we didn’t have any potatoes” and then a little latter after I mentioned something about the sausages, she began to laugh as she had thought she was eating chicken!
With that I had to think to myself, job well done!

Curried Sausages and Apples
4 thick Italian pork sausages
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp grated ginger
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
½ red capsicums, julienned
2 tablespoon madras Curry powder
2 tablespoon plain flour
1 ½ cups chicken stock
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and quartered and halved again
½ cup sultanas
¼ cup coriander
8 cherry tomatoes
1 red chilli, sliced diagonally
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, drop the sausages in and reduce to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool, once cooled remove the skins, slice thickly on the diagonal, set aside
Heat oil in a heavy based pan, add onions and cook until tender 3-4 minutesAdd the ginger, chilli, garlic and celery cook until fragrant
Add the carrots and capsicums, cook for a couple of minute
Add the curry powder and flour, nix well with other ingredients and cook 1-2 minutes until very fragrant and grainy looking
Remove pot from the heat and slowly add the chicken stock stirring to mix in well, return to heat bring to the boil, stirring occasionally
Add the meat and cover with lid, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for ten minutes
Add the apples and sultanas, cook covered for a further 15 minutes

When you add the meat to the pot, get the rice on, to do so first rinse rice thoroughly, then place in a saucepan to which you add  cups of water for every cup of rice.  Place the lid on top and put the pot onto the hotplate, bring to the boil, once it boils, turn the heat right down as low as it will go and simmer for 15 minutes, I start a timer as soon as the heat goes down and it is important not to lift the lid at all.  Once the 15 minutes is up remove the pot from the heat and sit it somewhere safe, again do not lift the lid, leave it there for another 15 minutes, pt the timer on again!  Once the time goes off the second time you will have perfect steamed rice, now take the lid off and break u a little with a fork, then serve with the curry on top, garnish with coriander, chilli and cherry tomatoes, enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beef and Vegetable Pies

Sometimes this blogging has you asking yourself, do I blog or don’t I blog?  I know I am constantly wondering this to myself, just as I did tonight whilst I prepared dinner, especially being that I really wasn’t  preparing anything overly special, Beef and Vegetable Pies, but then I opened the oven and saw the results and thought no I have to blog that because they look so awesome!
The other thing was, there really wasn’t a lot of actually cooking to be done, just brown some meat and fry of some onions, throw a few veggies in the pot and then pour my home made pasatta over the top and bung it in the oven, the hard part had already been done.  It was just so too when it came to the pastry, all I had to do was roll it out and bung it in the pie tins, as I had it ready to go from the last time I baked a pie!
The only sad thing was, and I did not realise this until it was too late, I had just about emptied the veggie draw out in making the pie, so there was little to put with the pies, luckily I had some frozen beans in the freezer, and as Jo said there is plenty of veg in the pie anyway so the mashed spuds weren’t really missed.
Opening the oven and sliding out the rack and seeing six beautifully cooked pies was a great feeling, I was so chuffed, but then I was keen to try them and they actually hit the table a few minutes earlier than they should have, they were very hot, patience Jack patience!

They actually did taste as good as they looked however, so much so that I offered Jo another half when I had finished my first, but there was no way apparently that she could go another one, well not until 20 minutes after she left the table and snuck back into the kitchen to finish one off that is, yes they did taste good!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

nothing to blog really, just a little chit chat is all I got!

Seems like ages since I blogged last, and really don’t have a lot to blog tonight!  It has been a busy week, with a 4 day trip away to Geraldton to visit family and busy days since our return, but the time away was nice!  Not to say there hasn’t been a bit of cooking n that time but mainly tried and tested favourites.
Had a couple of young fans praising me for some food I prepared for them a few months back, that really surprised me, did not expect a blue eyed, golden haired little angel of five years to greet me with “Hey uncle Jack did you make apple pie?”, nor for her 6 year old brother, that is not big on eating, exclaim “your chicken nuggets are the best!”  I was gobbed smacked, and I would loved to have said yes there is an apple pie in the oven but the truth was I had run out of time to cook one, but I did arrived prepared with six Granny Smith’s tucked away in the box with my Nespresso machine, no I cannot leave home without it!!
In actual fact I was blown away at how much I enjoyed cooking with a couple of young kids shadowing my every move, watching the joy in their faces as they helped sift flour, or peel apples the excitement in the look on their faces when the hot pie cam e out of the oven, priceless!
It was funny also how the weekend ended just as it started, in the kitchen, due to the fact that  I picked up 8 kilos of Roma tomatoes for $7 at a roadside stand, and then we stopped at Drovers on the way home, where Jo just happened to find some very nice beef shank cutlets, just perfect for osso bucco! 

The tomatoes I cooked up as soon as we walked into the house, so I now have some beautiful home-made pasatta in the fridge, waiting for a pasta dish, I have been given an ultimatum by Jo Girl that I have to make Spaghetti con Polpette, just like I made for her Mum, now it just occurred to me that I am still to make my first meal with home-made pasta, so looks like I have something to do this weekend after all!
The little B would not let me get a decent photo!

Loves Uncle Jack's Chicken Nuggets!

Tonight's dinner, couldn't blog steak n veg again, but loved the photo!!

I also found an interesting recipe whilst in Geraldton for a Pork Stew, just what I have been looking for, we had some for dinner last night and it was fantastic, oh so tasty, I will do it again soon and share some with you here, so that is one to look out for, if your in the mood for something different!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A day off (not)

Spaghetti Polpette part 2
Jo and I are off to Geraldton to visit her folks, Mum has not been the best the past year and we have not seen her for a while so being a long weekend it is a good opportunity to get up there.
I have taken the day off today to cook a few things for her and Dad, starting off with the Spaghetti Polpette dish, I blogged here a few weeks ago.  I have cooked this dish one other time since, but on that occasion being short for time, and curious to see how it would turn out, I cooked it using shop brought passatta, and I can tell you there is no comparison.
So this morning has seen me spend three hours putting together a passatta sauce and the meatballs, that’s just to get it in the oven, it I in there now to cook for an hour more.
Doing my usual thing, having cooked the dish a couple of times I have branched out from the recipe and added a little bit of me to it, so the sauce has a few more ingredients.  As it turned out the dish was ready right around lunch time, and I was certain there was 1 more meatball than I required, so that became lunch, and man I cannot believe the difference in the sauce, truly outstanding.  To my surprise, there were actually two more meatballs then I required, and I did not find this out until Jo walked in to the room, so Jo got lucky, then paid me a huge compliment by telling me it is the closest Italian flavoured dish to those she enjoyed from dishes her Nona fed her on visit to Wokalup years ago.  I was very pleased with the result myself, that just made it that much more worth the trouble I went too, to produce those flavours!
It turned out to be an enormous day in the kitchen, on top of the polpette, I prepared a Streak, Kidney and Mushroom sauce, which went into a pie, now this is something I am extremely proud of, having made the pastry from scratch using my Mum’s recipe, which was passed to her by my Grandmother, the pie looks fantastic, can’t wait to try it, it will be the only dish we will share with Jo’s Mum and Dad.
I have also done another of our favourites, my Kick Arse Lamb Hot Pot, having tasted only the sauce, I know it is going to be hard to part with, because I now the meat is going to be so tender and I have used Kipfler potatoes, and they are fantastic in this dish, great flavour and they stand up so well to the long cooking time.
Having cooked all that I was not in a hurry to do too much for our dinner, So I took an easy way out and cooked a one pot dish, Garlic Roasted Chicken with baked tomatoes and Olives, but you can’t leave it at that of course so I added some torn Italian bread, capper berries and roasted kipflers, such an easy meal, but boy the flavour is outstanding!
Just reread the first paragraph and had to laugh at the bit where I say I took the day off!!!! Hilarious!!!  Oh well, there another four days to come, bring it on!!
For any one that may be interested to make my passatta here goes,
Step 1
2kG ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh herbs if you can, if not dry will do, or a mix
Oregano, sage, rosemary, basil
Salt and Pepper
Cut tomatoes through the equator, make a crisscross on other end, with cut side up sprinkle herbs, salt and pepper over r the top and drizzle with oil, then place cut side down on a tray lined with baking paper, drizzle a little more oil over the top and  tray in an oven preheated to 160, cook for one hour.
Remove tray from oven, remove skins from tomatoes, and then place into a blender and blitz them for a few seconds.
Step 2
1 tbl spn olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
4 golden shallots
1 – 2 roasted capsicum strips
8 medium button mushrooms, sliced
Blitzed tomato sauce
200 ml Chicken Stock
Heat the oil in a pan, then add garlic and chilli, cook for a minute or so until fragment
add the shallots and capsicum, cook until shallots soften
Add the blitzed tomato sauce and stock, bring to the boil then add mushrooms and lower to a simmer, cook for an hour or until sauce has thickened
Once cook return to the blender and give a quick blitz, set aside until polpette is ready for the sauce and follow that recipe from that point. 
The crisscross makes it easier to get the skins off, take note I should have cored them first

That is the roasting done

Saute the garlic, chilli, shallots and roasted capsicum

Tear the basil leaves, dont use a knife

Beautiful rich passatta sauce, this is ready for the oven
 It is a bit of wok, but try it once and you will never use shop brought stuff again, it is that good!

Check out that pastry!

Delicious Steak kidney and Mushroom filling

The finished product, note the brown nosing!