Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The book is here.

Agghh it is here. Ever since I received the Julia Child scholarship two years ago I have been working on a book. A book on bistronomy. A French (well loosely french) food philosophy that combines the technique, rigour and creative wonder of Michelin with a more casual cafe environment. With more than 100 recipes from chefs spanning the globe the book also delves into the type of chef, terroir, wine and the philosophies behind it. It has been a fascinating, hugely entertaining, stressful and awe inducing process. I signed the contract for the book in the throes of terrible morning sickness - anyone on Sydney's lower north shore who witnessed a woman vomiting in the street bin just outside Allen & Unwin/Murdoch Books - I apologise. Deeply. 

While writing the book I renovated a house and at 39 weeks pregnant had no bathroom to speak of and no desk to write. But somehow I submitted on time. I'm still not quire sure how. Challenge seems to be the subtext of the book though and I managed several photoshoots with chefs, ingredients being confiscated at airports and all sorts of fun things with a 14 week baby along for the ride.

Perhaps not my finest hour (s) but I live to tell the tale and guess what, I think its a pretty fine book. I hope you do to and I'd love to know what you think. Here are a few sneak peaks and I will be putting more up soon with some great behind the scenes to give you an idea of what was involved and how we went about shooting so many different chefs and styles. The photos below are from a recent Broadsheet review of the book. There will be recipes and giveaways and all sorts of book pimping kind of posts to follow. But only good ones I promise. xo

 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Chorizo Panzanella Salad with Poached Egg and Black Lava Salt


Spring is almost here - you can sense it, despite what the great outdoors are trying to convince us of late. We might not be entering full salad territory, the residual cold begging for something a little more boisterous and filling, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bridge the gap and this salad does just that.
It’s hearty with the poached egg and chorizo elements and boisterous enough to stand alone as a meal from breakfast through to dinner, or equally as a side note to a roast chicken or lamb. Basically, this humble number is the dish that keeps on giving and we can’t ask much more than that from a salad.
 Serves 6
Ingredients
Half a sourdough loaf, roughly torn
160 ml red wine vinegar
160 ml olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
2 large chorizo sausage (spicy), sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large cucumber, roughly chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
350g mixed tomatoes or about 4 medium ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
20 Sicilian (or green) olives
3 tbsp chopped coriander, parsley and basil
3-6 organic, free range eggs (depending on whether or not you want one per serve)
1 generous tbsp fig vincotto
Black lava salt to serve (optional)

Method
Place the bread in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, cumin, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle mixture over the bread. Leave for 10 minutes for the flavours to combine.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread out the bread. Place in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.
Meanwhile place chorizo on an oiled grill plate of a barbecue or frying pan over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool slightly and reserve the oil in the pan for serving.
Bring a large shallow saucepan of lightly salted water to just below the boil over high heat, reduce heat to low. Carefully break eggs into saucepan and poach, spooning water over eggs, until cooked to your liking (3 minutes for soft-poached). Gently remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm.
Mix remaining ingredients, chorizo and bread, in a large bowl and top with the poached eggs. Spoon over a little of the reserved oil and the fig vincotto and a sprinkling of black salt and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cooking the Books: Tasty Express by Sneh Roy



You could say that I have a bit of a foodie crush on Sneh Roy. Much like her, her food is gorgeous, warm and inviting. I don't adore social media except for the opportunities it creates to cross paths with the likes of Sneh. We are twitter friends, if there is such a thing. And I believe I may have met  my match when it comes to obsessing over cookbooks and feeding people from the heart. 
After cooking from her book, Sneh is, as I had always suspected, a bloody genius. Cripes it's tasty. I've had a rough time on the home front of late and wanted simple, soul fortifying fresh and tasty food. Sneh delivered. So I suggest you allow her to do the same for you. But if I can't convince you - the roasted milo granola (yes I did just say milo granola) most certainly will.
Sneh Roy probably needs no introduction here. She is the food blogging force behind Cook Republic - easily one of the most prolific food blogs out there. She also writes for Elle magazine and her work generally seems to pop up all over the place. Normally I have stayed away from bloggers, focusing here on cookbooks from chefs but Sneh really holds her own and this is a book I feel needs to be celebrated. 
Sneh Roy Granola made then photographed by me before it was eaten in five seconds flat
Sneh's Roasted Milo and Choc Chip Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup rice bubbles (I used puffed rice from the local healthfood store)
1/2 cup milo (plus the one or two teaspoons you know you'll eat while preparing it)
1/2 cup raw shelled peanuts (I used raw cashews because that's all I had)
1/4 cup maple syrup
40g butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of white, milk and 75% dark)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients except the chocolate chunks in a bowl and toss to combine. Place the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool to just warm. Toss the chocolate through the mixture and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Although it won't last that long I promise.
Epicentres of culinary good taste of course! As always I try to champion the local bookstore or the author direct here or Sneh also lists suppliers for you to go to. So helpful.

Failing that the usual online suppliers will bring the book to your door.
There is a substantial commitment to breakfast and supper. In other words - exactly my kind of book. And the fact that you are here reading I'd safely say its yours too. From smoothies to masala omelette jaffles (seriously spectacular) to the wholemeal japanese pancakes and kachumber pappadums - the list is long and glorious.
Because this is one of those books that you know you'll go back to again and again to cook from. Simple, tasty and different enough to keep you excited, super excited in fact. I tend to find the best cookbooks are those that are lustworthy - that you want to curl up on the couch with while sipping a fantastically oversized glass of red - or totally kitchen stained - go to kind that you leaf through again and again when dinner choices have you beaten. My copy is already stained with the toils of my dinner and the book wears my stains gloriously. Its a perfect gift for the keen cook and time poor alike. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dark chocolate peppermint brownie with chocolate mint

How did that happen. Somehow 3 weeks have passed between the last blog post and today. Sorry. Life intrusively (and inconveniently) got in the way.  But I'm hoping you'll forgive me. I come with gifts, specifically gifts of the brownie variety. Surely, surely that means you'll let it pass this time.



I like to think of this as a safe place. One where I can openly admit to liking peppermint slice, aero or the odd sneaky peppermint cream. There is something intoxicating about mint and chocolate. Add brownie into the mix and well, that seems self-explanatory.

People divide – some like brownie dense and fudge like, some prefer it to be more like cake with a flaky crust. This version seems to sit happily across the two. Its middle gives way while the crust and flaked top gives some resistance. And it’s fresh despite being rich thanks to the addition of a good quality dash of peppermint oil. Make sure you add the oil slowly and it is worth the extra dollar or so to use an oil rather than the peppermint essence which is mouth cloyingly sweet. I like to add it at the very end, depending on the bitterness of the chocolate, it can dull the peppermint so taste, taste, taste. There you go, I just provided the ultimate excuse to eat brownie batter. Enjoy. It’s a party in your mouth. A very minty, chocolatey and amazing party.

Serves 12

Ingredients
280g butter, softened
500g caster sugar
5 eggs
30g dark brown sugar
125g good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
185g dark chocolate, chopped
185g plain flour, sifted
1-2 drops good quality peppermint oil
Icing sugar, sifted to dust
Chocolate mint leaves to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 30cm x 23cm x 4cm baking tin with baking paper.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix in the brown sugar. Sift the flour and cocoa together and fold into the mixture. Stir through the chocolate and carefully add the peppermint oil stirring until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin.
To serve cut the brownies into large squares, dust with icing sugar and scatter over the chocolate mint. Best served at room temperature.

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.`

Ingredients
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

Brioche
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

Method
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
Ingredients
2 salmon fillets
Teriyaki sauce
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
½ cup rice malt syrup
½ cup brown sugar
pinch ground ginger
Salad
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
Method
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.