Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fontina meatballs on brioche

Meatballs. Fontina. Brioche. I’ll say write that again. Meatballs. Fontina. Brioche.

Why? Because its cold and I really really felt like meatballs. And when do you ever need a reason for meatballs? Or fontina. Or brioche? Thought as much....

This number begs to be part of your Sunday night ritual. You. This meatbally, cheesey brioche and a pinot. Most undoubtedly more than one (that applies to both the meatballs and the pinot). Easy to make, this is big fisted stuff, the enemy of prissiness but definitely a friend to epic flavour and without doubt the best possible, start to your week ahead.`

Meatballs (this makes more meatballs than you need*)
400g pork and veal mince
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted until fragrant
1 pinch chilli flakes
salt and pepper to season
1 egg
3 tbsp sourdough bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin cherry tomatoes
1 onion, peeled, chopped
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup red wine
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

330g (2 ¼ cups) plain flour
30g panella sugar
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
100ml warm milk
1 egg and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together, at room temperature
200g butter, softened, chopped

To serve
Sea salt flakes and pepper to season
Flat leaf parsley stalks, coarsely torn
Fontina cheese, shaved

To make the brioche combine flour, sugar, yeast, and a hefty pinch of salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix well. Whisk milk, egg and yolk in a separate bowl then, with mixer on low-medium speed, add egg mixture and mix to combine, there will still be some flour muck at the base of your bowl. On medium speed, gradually add butter, mixing to form dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and glossy (4-5 minutes). It will be quite tacky to the touch. Transfer to a buttered bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1½-2 hours).

Preheat oven to 200C. Meanwhile combine the mince, spices, garlic, egg and sourdough crumbs in a bowl. Using your hands mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. Roll into golf ball sized balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place in the oven and cook for ten minutes or until the balls are just starting to colour.
In a large frying pan, fry the onion in a little olive oil until starting to colour. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for fifteen minutes or until the mixture is starting to reduce. Add the meatballs, turn the heat to low and simmer for a further fifteen minutes until the sauce has reduced again, turning the meatballs often to coat them in the sauce.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface then roll out to a 28cm-diameter round and line the base and sides of a buttered 24cm-diameter fluted tart tin. Cook for ten minutes in the oven until a crust is just starting to form. Remove and smear over some of the tomato sauce and meatballs to just cover, leaving an approximate 3cm edge for the brioche to rise slightly and act as border protection for the sauce and meatballs. Season and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to finish cooking the brioche. Remove, sprinkle over shaved fontina and parsley and serve immediately.

*Leftover meatballs are great with fresh pasta, on fresh baguette.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Teriyaki Salmon Bowl

Teriyaki Salmon Bowl
You should make your own teriyaki sauce. Seriously. Why would you douse a delightful bit of protein in the packaged stuff that tastes like something you’d use as weed killer in your garden?
Cast aside your memories of the “chicken tezza” you had circa 1990s when the supermarket foray into “international” foods was just beginning because Teriyaki, when done well (aka made by you) by marinating, and re-coating in several glorious thick lashings, then served with the appropriate range of tastes and textures is like a ballet being performed inside your mouth.  A perfectly constructed Donburi (rice with food on top of it) like this one ensures every bite is rich, light, soft, crispy, deep, shallow, high, low, spicy, bland, sweet and sour. Served with the sanctimonious glow that comes with knowing you made it all yourself. Just the way it should be.
Serves 2
2 salmon fillets
Teriyaki sauce
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
½ cup rice malt syrup
½ cup brown sugar
pinch ground ginger
¾ cup wild rice
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
grapeseed oil for frying
½ avocado, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, peeled, shredded
¼ small bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped
¼ small bunch mint leaves, roughly chopped
Toasted black sesame seeds to serve
Finely sliced nori to serve
To make the teriyaki sauce, add all ingredients to a saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened. You want it to be a smooth glaze consistency but not so thick that it coats the delicate fish too heavily. Allow to cool then pour about 1 cup into a bowl, reserving left over teriyaki for another use. Add the salmon to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place a saucepan of water over medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Add the wild rice and cook for 30 minutes or until rice is just cracked, then drain.
Remove the salmon from the fridge, reserving the marinade.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Add the salmon and spoon over a few tablespoons of teriyaki sauce. Place in the oven and cook for 3-8 minutes or until cooked to your liking, basting the fish as it cooks. Depending on the thickness of your fillets and how “well done” you like your fish, the cooking time will vary quite significantly. As with any fish, watch it closely as it cooks.
Whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl. Place a small frying pan over medium heat and pour in the egg, swirl gently to coat the base and cook for 1-2 minutes until the omelette has cooked through. Remove and cut in half.
Toss the carrot and herbs to combine.
Add the rice to your serving bowls. Top with a salmon fillet and spoon over any residual sauce from cooking. Add a piece of omelette, sliced avocado, and carrot salad. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and nori. Serve warm.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A newly appointed chopping god

Oliva Elite 7 Inch Kullenschliff Santoku Knife
Ok so thankfully from the get go we decided that the giveaway winner had to be picked at random - thank god because some of the stories are simultaneously stomach turning and completely awesome. Its nice to know that there are other people out there with forever changed fingers, nails, wrists and forearms thanks to a little accidental hokey pokey in the kitchen. But we are all still cooking, which is a seriously wonderful thing.

The winner of the two amazing, totally beautiful Olive Elite knives thanks to the generous folk at Messermeister is......(cue drumroll)...JN.

Here is her hilarious account of a knife injury. Hilarious only because she is obviously a-ok to tell the story.

I left my chef’s knife standing upright in the drying rack with the intention of drying it after closing the sash window in front of me. While closing the window, my left hand slipped and I stabbed my left forearm with the knife (it was so sharp I didn’t feel it!). The force was great enough to get the end of the knife embedded in my forearm bone (ulna), which then broke off and shattered into several pieces in my arm. A trip to A&E, a few X-rays, several hours and four cosmetic surgeons later, they had managed to remove all the pieces of shattered knife from my arm – except for the piece that was lodged in the bone. A visit to the orthopaedic surgeon the next day concluded that the only way to remove the remaining piece of the knife was to break my bone. I declined, and endured another few months of weekly X-rays so the surgeon could monitor that the bone was successfully knitting over the knife. It’s still there to this day (as is the scar), and I do sometimes set off metal detectors in airports! Most amusing part of the whole story – my partner arriving at A&E wielding the rest of the knife (why?!) resulting in a security commotion. The worst part of the whole story – losing my beautiful chef’s knife :(

There is some more info on the knives here if you are keen to see the full range. 
The steak knife and the Santoku most definitely are on my birthday wish list. Seriously ahhmmazing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A chat with a professional flavourologist and a chocolate tart to soften the blow

So it turns out that being a flavourologist is a thing. Yep bugger the astronauts, racing car drivers and ballerinas, I want to be a professional flavourologist at Cadbury when I grow up. Seriously, where was that memo at all those bullshit career days and planning sessions we all endured growing up. Teenage angst would reduce dramatically if we even knew such jobs existed.   I get to chat to Carla Filia – Cadbury Dairy Milk Flavourologist and probably the happiest person on the planet. This woman is involved in just about every aspect of the way Cadbury Dairy Milk blocks are made, advertised, packaged and sold in Australia.

Describe what you do in 3 words.
Experiment. Create mess. Listen.

Where does your inspiration for flavour come from?
It’s a little bit research, a little bit listening to fans and little bit messy creative process where we get in a room with a bunch of raw ingredients and liquid chocolate and test crazy (and sometimes brilliant) ideas.
Has the success of any flavour combination ever surprised you?
Jelly popping candy and beanies in Marvellous Creations is a totally different way to experience chocolate. You have the noise and crackle from the popping candy, chocolate within chocolate with the beanies and a really surprising and delightful ‘mouthfeel’ overall (which is some Flavourologist lingo for you).

What would you call yourself? Scientist? Chef? Artist?
I’m a marketing manager who doubles as a Flavourologist because the process of creating flavours is central to what I do. I have research and science teams that feed information into the creative process so that a select few of us Flavourologists can lock ourselves away in a secret bunker and eat chocolate all day. So I would say I’m a chocolate eating athlete slash artist slash connoisseur.

Describe the elements of the ultimate chocolate flavour combination?
With my Cadbury Flavourologist hat on I’d say a good flavour has to surprise and delight, but also appeal to a reasonable sized group of people. That’s where we have to be smart with our research and try to put ourselves in the shoes (or tastebuds) of a particular group. You pick up quirky insights as you do that. Personally I’m an absolute Black Forest tragic (like a lot of our Facebook fans). There’s something very satisfying about the juicy jellies that have a little bit of chewiness and the crunchy biscuit pieces that surprise you after you work through the delicious outer chocolate layers…. This is making me hungry by the way.

Mint, pop rocks or caramel?
Everything! Let’s see if it works.

How much chocolate do you eat per day?
That’s for me and my personal trainer to know and for no one to find out.

How long does it take to develop a chocolate bar from concept to customer's belly?

It can range from 12 to 24 months.

Are you looking for any chocolate eating interns? If so how would I one apply?

Only if you’ve got some bright ideas for us! We have a yearly graduate program that people can apply for via

Advice for anyone wanting to become a flavourologist?
Our Flavourologists come from different backgrounds, but mainly from research, scientific and marketing disciplines. My advice to anyone wanting to work with flavours is to a) go for a job where you’ll get exposure to the flavour creation process and b) get creative and trial things at home. Then make sure they’re good ideas, bring them to work and hopefully others will agree. You might want a friend to help you filter out the crazier ones along the way. I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends that began, ‘what if we mixed…how does this this genius or am I crazy’?

Chocolate hazelnut soufflé tarts
1 x portion chocolate pastry (I used Careme)
225g hazelnut chocolate
110g butter, chopped
2 small eggs
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
Melted good quality dark chocolate for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 190˚C (fan-forced). Grease and line 4-6 individual loose bottom pie tins. Roll over the chocolate pastry, cover with a piece of baking paper and fill with baking weights (or dried beans or rice), and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 180˚C (fan-forced), remove the weights from the pastry shell then bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the shell is just dry. To make the filling, heat the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir every now and again until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove and set aside to cool.

In another heatproof bowl, add the eggs, yolks and caster sugar, and place the bowl over the saucepan of just simmering water. Whisk the mixture until it’s thick and holds a trail when you move the whisk through the mixture. Pull the bowl off the heat and gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated.
Place the pastry shells on a baking tray then pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry shells. Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes or until just set – you want the centre of the tart to be slightly soft and fudgy. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over melted chocolate if using. Alternatively serve with whipped cream or ice cream.