Wednesday, 23 December 2009

??

Yes, I've been slack & unmotivated lately in regards to posting anything or even cooking anything exciting. I guess its just this time of year that does it.
Anyway here are a few things that I've come across recently & have captured my imagination....



Thursday, 3 December 2009

Paper Chef Ingredients are up

The lovely Jenny from I could even eat a baby deer! has selected the ingredients for the December challenge.
You can find them
here

Monday, 16 November 2009

Shadow of Me

Just because I can.....

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Paper Chef time.... (#46)

Its always interesting when Paper Chef throws a tricky one at you. Like this month. Dale from Home on the Range was the winner last month so she had the honour of selecting this month's ingredients. The first random ingredient was Pasta - I guess that can be any type or style. next was Chevre - Goat's cheese, a nice smooth creamy cheese which I love. The final random ingredient was Beetroot - a safe versatile ingredient. So far endless possibilities. Then Dale threw in the fourth ingredient of her own selection, Peanut Butter - stunned silence when I read that. What the f&^k am I meant to do with that?? A look at the ingredients of a supermarket Peanut Butter provided no inspiration or clues: peanuts, oil, emulsifiers, sugar, salt, food colouring, preservatives. The Health food store was better. They grind their own peanut butter & the only ingredient was dry roasted peanuts, but the texture was very coarse. Then I remembered that the juicer I have can also (apparently) grind peanuts to a pulp to make peanut butter. Well, at least I would know what's in it.
But what to make to combine all the ingredients?
I settled on Ravioli stuffed with Chevre & roasted Beetroot with a burnt butter & peanut butter sauce. The trick was to meld the flavours without having the peanuts dominate. And, surprisingly, it worked! The peanut butter sauce combined well with the beetroot to give a nice earthiness to the dish.
Note to self: don't leave the finished ravioli out in warm weather - the pasta dried out too much between the trial run & the photo run, cracking & leading to crappy photos.....

Ingredients
100g Chevre
1 medium beetroot
pasta dough (recipe can be found here)
1 tbls smooth peanut butter (homemade or health food store)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
30g butter
2 tbls chopped Coriander

Method
Coat the beetroot in a bit of oil & roast until tender.
Let cool until you can just handle it, & peel.
Grate the beetroot & weigh out about 100g.
Combine the Chevre, salt, pepper & nutmeg in  a bowl then gently fold through the grated beetroot.
Chill while you make your pasta dough (see here).
Use about a small tsp of the mixture for each ravioli, & once sealed set aside until ready for cooking.
Melt the butter in a saucepan & add the peanut butter.
Cook until its a nice light golden brown colour, but watch it as it can go an unappetising dark brown very quickly.
When ready, add 1 tbls of the chopped coriander.
Coat the cooked ravioli in the sauce & serve immediately topped with the remaining coriander.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Awe & Fear

I love the water, the sun, & the surf. But these waves off the coast of Tasmania I'm in awe of, and would never go near them, unlike these surfers.


(photos from The Age website)

Friday, 30 October 2009

What to do........


Have you ever been in the situation where due to circumstances where all you had to cook with was in your pantry or in the fridge? I think most people have found themselves in that situation - working late, lack of funds, forgotten the shops are closed due to a public holiday?
And its happened to me recently. I was left looking in the cupboard and found a pack of dried porcini, a leek in the fridge, some dried pasta, onion, garlic. Fair enough I did have meat in the freezer, but that would take too long to defrost.
So here is a Porcini & Leek pasta creation.

Ingredients:
1 pack (20g) dried porcini
200ml boiling water
1 leek
1/2 onion, finely sliced
30g butter
olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
200g pasta (I used fusilli)
salt
Pepper
2-3 fresh sage leaves
1/2 tbls dried thyme
Grated Parmisan to serve

Method:
Soak the porcini in the water for about 20min.<
Strain the liquid through some kitchen paper to catch all the impurities & reserve the liquid.
Thoroughly clean the porcini under running water to remove any grit.
Finely chop the porcini.
Melt half the butter & 1 tbls of the olive oil in a pan over a low heat.
Add the garlic & gently fry for about 2 minutes.
Add the porchini & fresh sage leaves.
Add the porchini liquid a tbls at a time stirring & letting it evaporate before adding the next spoonful, until all the liquid is used.
Cook the pasta as directed.
Meantime slice the leek into 1cm disks.
Heat the remaining butter & a little oil in a seperate pan.
Add the leek & onion & fry for 2 minutes.
Add the dried thyme & 2 tbls of boiling water & cook until the leeks & onion are tender but not mushy.
Add the leek & onion mixture to the porchini & season to taste.
Toss in the pasta.
Serve with grated parmisan.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Randomness..




Just some random photo's on my way home from work.......


Monday, 12 October 2009

Paper Chef #45

Hmm... A month has past since the last Paper Chef & what have I blogged about in that time?
Nothing.
Zero.
No Street Art.
No food.
No recipes.
No enlightened social commentaries.
Maybe I've just lost the blogging mojo or have no inspiration but what ever is missing I hope it does return. It frustrates & annoys me to see just one post for the month.
But Paper Chef is here again & that always seems to stir my imagination!
This month is no different with the ingredient chosen by last month's winner Janie from musingri.
So what do you make with Chicken, Yams, Lentils, & Green Tea?
Well you rule out the Yams & invoke the substitution clause. A trip to the markets and no yams were to be found. A quick google on the mobile revealed that Taro was a close relative of Yams. Another lap of the markets & no Taro. So I had to settle for another root tuber - Sweet Potato, although it was from the otherside of the world & not related to Yams as Yams & Taro are from the South Pacific & Sweet Potato was originally from Haiti.....
The change in an ingredient didn't force a change in idea though. I had thought about it & discarded various ideas before settling on a fairly simple dish of Green Tea marinated Chicken with with Lentils & Sweet Potato (or Yam) crisps, which turned out quite well.
I'm only going to write the recipe for the marinade & chicken. Lentil you can prepare in your favourite way & the Sweet potato crisps were simply finely sliced on a mandolin & then dry roasted. The Green Tea can be brewed from either teabags or leaf. I used teabags only because it was easier.

Ingredients
2 chicken marylands
125ml freshly brewed Green Tea, cooled to room temperature
1 clove crushed garlic
1 thumb sized grated ginger
1 tbls soy sauce
1/4 tsp chili powder, more or less depending on the kick you like

Method:
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl & then add the chicken
marinade for 2 hours
remove from marinade & roast in a hot oven until the juices run clear, basting occasionally if you feel its drying out too much.
I served the chicken on a bed of lentils with the crisps, with a bit of orange zest for colour & tang.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Paper Chef #44

"So many choices!!!!"
That was my first reaction to reading the ingredients for this months paper chef. The first three ingredients as selected by Deeba from
Passionate about Baking were Ricotta, Ginger, and Chocolate. Pretty easy so far, but the fourth ingredient was actually a theme: Autumn. Hmmm might be Autumn on the wrong side of the world but we're heading into spring here, so its a bit hard to cook out of season but I tried.
The ingredients lend themselves to a dessert type dish. I did briefly think of doing something savoury with them, possibly ginger ricotta fritters with a chili chocolate sauce. Chili & chocolate go well together, try it sometime if you haven't already.

But I scuttled that idea and went with a sweet instead.
Ricotta fritters with a ginger chocolate sauce? Non!
Chocolate cannoli filled with ginger ricotta? Hmm maybe next time.
With time running out I settled for a Ginger Cheesecake with a Chocolate base.
The ginger I used was Baby Stem Ginger in syrup from an Australian company Budrim Ginger.

Ginger Cheesecake with a Chocolate base
Ingredients
Base
150g chocolate biscuits, crushed
40g dark chocolate, grated
80g melted butter
Filling
600g ricotta
150g castor sugar
40g preserved ginger, chopped
Ginger, shaved chocolate & mint leaves for decoration.

Method
Mix the crushed biscuits, chocolate & butter and press into the bottom of the dish. I used individual dishes, but the choice is yours.
Place in the fridge to set.
Beat the ricotta and sugar with a mixer until smooth. You can pass the ricotta through a tamis for a really smooth mixture if you wanted to.
Add the chopped ginger, more or less depending on taste and stir through the mixture.
Spoon into your prepared dish, smooth off the top, cover & refrigerate until ready to serve.
Decorate with shaved chocolate, ginger & mint leaves.

And the Autumn theme? The shaved chocolate represents the dried twigs & crushed fallen leaves, with a little sprout to celebrate Spring..........

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Spring

1st September. Spring is here & the trees are starting sprout leaves.

Feels like we never had a winter.....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Mushrooms


I love shopping at Victoria Markets in Melbourne. You never know what you'll come across. Today, for instance there were these wonderful fresh mushrooms, Chanterelle, Morel & Oyster.


They are about to go into a Coq au Riesling.... Tasty!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Sausages

This is a very very quick post & no pictures of the finished product. Why? Because it took less time to prepare this meal than it did to write this post. Seriously. The only preparation is slicing the onion & garlic.
This is my take on the classic sausage casserole with a Japanese theme:

Wagyu Sausage & Asahi beer casserole.


Ingredients:
4 Wagyu Sausages (about 450g)
2 onions
1 clove garlic
1/2 can diced tomatoes (200g)
1 bottle (330ml) Asahi Extra Dry beer
oil.

Method:
Slice the onions roughly.
Roughly cop the garlic.
Brown the sausages in a bit of oil & remove the sausages.
Add a bit more oil if required & add onions & garlic & cook until softened, a few minutes at most.
Place the sausages back into the saucepan on top of the onions.
Add the tomatoes & beer.
Cover & simmer until the liquid has reduced, about 45-60minutes.
Season to taste, but you may find that it will be fine.
Serve with some creamy mashed potatoes.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Chicken & Leek Pie

Have you ever woken up in the morning with a craving for a particular dish or food?
Well that's what happened to me Saturday morning. I woke up & wanted to make a Chicken & Leek pie. Wasn't interested in any other type of pie, it had to be Chicken & Leek. With a shortcrust cover. Not puff pastry - shortcrust.
A quick rummage through some recipe books to get an idea of quantities & I was on my way.
Fresh Leeks, free range chicken thighs - do not use breast as it will dry out & be horrible. Unfortunately I had to use dried Tarragon as I couldn't find any fresh. Some lard & a nice glass of white wine (for myself) & time to start having fun.
Ingredients
Filling
500g boned free range chicken thigh or leg
150ml chicken stock
150ml water
150 ml white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 tbls Tarragon
salt
cracked black pepper
200g sliced washed leek
20g butter
1 tbls water
2 tbls plain flour
1.5tsp Dijon mustard
3 sprigs fresh thyme
100ml cream
Crust
100g plain flour
100g self raising flour
100g lard
30ml approx cold water
1 egg, beaten, for glaze

method:
Add the stock, water, wine, half the tarragon, sprigs of thyme & chicken to a saucepan & bring it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer & simmer for 20-25 minutes until just cooked.
In a separate saucepan add the leeks, butter & water, cover & sweat down till just tender.
Remove the leeks from the saucepan with a slotted spoon allowing all the liquid to remain in the saucepan.
Add the flour & mix in to form a roux. remove from the heat.
Remove the chicken from the pot & set aside to cool.
Add the remaining herbs & cream to the poaching liquid & bring back to the boil.
Allow to boil for a few minutes to reduce the liquid.
Cut the chicken into rough 2cm pieces.
Whisk in the roux & allow to thicken slightly
Add the chicken & leeks & combine with the sauce.
Season to taste & remove from the heat & allow to cool.
Sift the 2 flours together & rub in the lard with your fingertips.
Add just enough iced water to form a dough.
Form into a flat dis, wrap in cling film & chill for 20 minutes.
Roll out to a thickness of 5mm and cut to a shape slightly larger than your pie container.
Place the cooled chicken & leek mixture into the pie dish or dishes.
Cover with the pastry & crimp the edges with a fork.
Slice a couple of air vents into the pastry & brush with beaten egg
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown & you can hear the filling bubbling.
When ready remove from the oven & allow to cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Surfing

I found this clip on the net. Not sure who it is or who filmed or where, but its pretty amazing.

video

Monday, 10 August 2009

Paper Chef #43


As soon as I had read this month's ingredients for the Paper Chef (number 43!) i knew what I was going to make. A sweet spicy couscous. But Paul suggested a Tagine! Actually his idea was better so I went with it.
The ingredients selected by Silejeng of
Javaholic were: couscous, fresh chilies, rosemary and her selection of peaches.
A Tagine is a slow cooked, North African dish that is braised at a low temperature. From what I have read there is no set guidelines as to what goes into a Tagine.
But they all do contain a mixture of herbs and spices that produce a very aromatic & tasty dish.
I decided to use pork even though its not a "traditional" North African meat, as it goes well with peaches, chili & other herbs & spices.
I've used dried peaches as fresh peaches aren't available (apparently its winter in Melbourne therefore the wrong season for stone fruits) and that dried fruit hold their shape better & release a more concentrated flavour to the dish.
Ive also used a combination of both fresh & dried Chili in the dish, Dried for the kick & fresh for the subtle flavour.
Couscous is another north African staple, I think of couscous as a "filler" to which you add the flavours and textures you want.
In this instance I've added dried peach, dried mint & pistachio nuts. Its all about the flavour & texture.

Pork Tangine with Peaches
Ingredients
For the Tagine
500g pork neck, cubed
1 small red chili, seeded & finely sliced
1/2 red capsicum, peeled & cut into strips
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
1 clove garlic, cut into quarters
6 cherry tomatoes, peeled
6 dried peaches roughly diced
1/4 tsp dried chili
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt to season
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup stock
1/4 cup water
1 sprig Rosemary
Coriander

For the Couscous
100g couscous
100ml stock
1 tbls oil
1/2 tsp dried mint
10g pistachio slivers
1 dried peaches, finely diced
1 tbls butter

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 160c
Place the pork, onion chili, capsicum, garlic & peaches into a lidded oven proof dish.
Sprinkle all the dried spices over
Toss the ingredients to coat them in the spices
Add the tomatoes, rosemary & liquids
Cover and put into the oven for about 2 hrs


When the tagine is almost done, start the couscous.
Bring the stock & oil to the boil in a lidded sauce pan & remove from the heat.
Add the couscous stirring until it start to thicken & cover.for 10 minutes
Add the butter & fluff with a fork & then add the remaining ingredients & toss.
Sprinkle the coriander over the tagine and serve.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Peeler


Yes, its a photo of a vegetable peeler. How boring you may say. But this is no ordinary peeler. If you look closely at the slightly blurry photo you may see that it has a very fine serrated edge, in effect dozens of tiny sharp knives.
Why?
This one is made by Zyliss & is designed to peel soft fleshed fruit & vegetables like capsicum, tomatoes, peaches, plums etc.
I thought it was a gimmick till I tried it & now I love it! No more roasting the capsicums to remove the skins for me.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Ginger

Fresh ginger anyone?


One of the stalls at the Victoria Markets had an abundance of fresh ginger....

Monday, 27 July 2009

Purple Gnocchi with Tomato, Rocket & Crispy Bacon

Purple Congo - its a variety of potato that has a dark blue skin & dark blue flesh. I'd always been curious if the colour would remain after cooking. Well it does (see previous post). Being a floury type of potato the Purple Congo is ideal for gnocchi and the colour would add another dimension to any dish, so if you can find some try them!

Ingredients:
Gnocchi
500g Purple Congo potatoes, peeled
150g plain flour
1/2 beaten egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Sauce

1x 400g can tomatoes
100g Wild rocket, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 stp dried chili flakes
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbls olive oil
Pinch sugar
Salt
Pepper
Sprig thyme
Fresh grated Parmesan to serve
Crispy Bacon

2 rashes bacon roughly diced
Sprig Rosemary
1 tbls goose fat

Method:
Cut the potato into equal sized pieces & place into a steamer.
Steam until just cooked
Pass through a fine mouli or potato ricer & allow to cool
Add egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg & flour & combine to form a dough.
Taste for seasoning & adjust.
Rollout into a long sausage shape & cut into 2cm (1") pillows
Set aside until needed

Add goose fat, bacon & rosemary sprig to a fry pan & gently cook over low heat, stiring occasionally until bacon is crisp
Drain, remove Rosemary sprig, & scatter bacon over paper towel to absorb excess fat
Heat the oil in a saucepan & add onion, garlic & dried chili
Sweat until the onion is tender
Add thyme sprig & tomatoes, sugar, & red wine & simmer
Season to taste
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil & add salt
Preheat oven to 200c & warm a heatproof serving dish in the oven with a large knob of butter
Cook gnocchi in batches removing from the water when they rise to the surface.
Place the cooked gnocchi into the heated dish, toss in the melted butter & return to the oven while the next batch is being cooked.
Add the chopped rocket to the sauce & stir in until just wilted
Spoon the sauce over the gnocchi & sprinkle with the crispy bacon
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Purple & Green...

Just a very quick post..
I steamed some Purple Congo potatoes, & yes the flesh remained a nice purple colour. But what amazed me was the colour of the water....
It had turned green!
Possibly the coloured starchy liquid from the potatoes had reacted with the stainless steel?


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Street Art

There is always a debate as to what is considered "art".
To some people street art is vandalism. When it ruins property and that property needs to be replaces or repaired, yes that is vandalism. But if it's a blank wall, shows some style & technique,  and nothing else is damaged is it still vandalism?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Paper Chef non-entry

Well it was Paper Chef time the weekend just past.
We had some wonderful ingredients selected by last month's winner Kristina of
Former Chef
they were:
Almonds
Chicken
Corn
& her selection of: Fish Sauce.
My initial idea was a type of Chicken Kiev dish, but with an almond butter center seasoned with Fish Sauce and rolled in polenta. But I was talked out of this & into a Korean style Chicken & Corn soup with chicken, prawn & almond dumplings.
Good idea, bad execution. :(
Dumplings were delicate in flavour but became overwhelmed by the soup which tasted fine while cooking but ended up way too rich. And to cap it all off the photo's were bad.
If that wasn't bad enough for the first time ever,I even managed to stuff up a Creme Anglaise later that day!

The stars must have been wrong that day......

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Paper Chef Challenge

This months paper chef ingredients were all surprising complimentary. The lovely Alison from Local Lemons selected them on a very unusual randomiser :) You'll have to checkout her blog to see how she chose them.
Her random ingredients were: asparagus, artichoke, tuna, and her final selection of vodka.
All the ingredients were readily available, especially the vodka (its always in the freezer at our place) and its starting on artichoke season.
My local fishmonger always has fresh sashimi grade tuna available and while its not asparagus season, thanks to climate controlled greenhouses its always available fresh.
So what to make? I decided on vodka cured tuna on a bed of asparagus, artichoke and jicama. The last ingredient I came across at the market. Its a Mexican yam with a flavour and texture similar waterchestnut or nashi, and I decided that it would make a nice contrast to the other ingredients. The cured tuna becomes very tender & delicate with a slightly translucent quality. Even Paul, who's not a fan of raw fish loved it.

Ingredients:
1 tbls coarse salt flakes
1 tbls caster sugar
1 tbls vodka (more if you feel in need of a shot for yourself)
1 tbls coarsely chopped dill
1 clove crushed garlic
200g fresh tuna fillet
4 fresh artichoke, prepared & halved
12 fresh asparagus spears
Fresh jicama, finely julienned
Fresh fennel finely slices
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Cream
Salt
Pepper

Method
Mix the salt sugar vodka garlic & dill in a bowl and spread all over the tuna fillet.
Place the fillet on a plate and pour any remaining mixture over it.
Cover with cling film pressing down on the tuna making sure its cover with the film.
Place another plate or board on the tuna and weigh it down with a weight.
Leave overnight or 24hr in the fridge to cure.
Steam the asparagus & allow to cool to room temp.
Make a simple dressing of the lemon juice, olive oil & cream and season to taste.
Toss the jicama, fennel, asparagus and artichokes in the dressing and plate.
Remove the cure tuna from the fridge and scrape off any dill or garlic.
Very thinly slice the tuna with a very sharp knife.
Arrange on a plate to your liking and serve.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Potatoes

A few days ago, I was rummaging around in the cupboard for some potatoes for a mash that I was making, and was surprised by the variety that seems to have mysteriously accrued in the cupboard.

The dark purple (almost black) skinned variety are called Purple Congo. They have a floury texture and a purple flesh. Apparently they make great Gnocchi, so guess what I will be making this weekend....

The other varieties are (if I remember correctly) Kipfler, Pink Eye, Desiree, Toolangi Delight, & Dutch Cream. They all have different characteristics, flesh colour, texture, & even flavour. And there are alot more varieties out there!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Pizza

There's a new Pizza store that's just opened near us in Carlisle St called The Green Light.
I haven't sampled their pizzas yet, but if this chalkboard special is anything to go by it could be very interesting...





Saturday, 16 May 2009

Street Art

Modern technology.
Wondering the streets of Melbourne.
See something interesting?
Take a photo with the trusty mobile phone...

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Another Paper Chef entery...

I think I'm going through an un-motivated cooking stage as looking back through my blog, the Paper Chef entries seem to be the only recipes that I'm posting.
This month's ingredients were selected by Bron from
Bron Marshall with a some help from her little fairies.
They selected: Prosciutto, Floury Potatoes, Thyme, and (just for something different) a theme of Mother’s Day for the fourth ingredient.
No stuffing around with wild ideas for this one, I went with my first thought: Gnocchi, with herbed butter and crispy fried prosciutto. And the Mother's Day theme? Flowers, vivid blue Rosemary flowers, both colourful & eatable. If you're looking at the photo you maybe wondering what the black specks are. Well my partner Paul suggested adding some crushed dried truffle to the butter sauce. We had a pack of them sitting in the pantry & they hadn't been used for anything as yet.
The recipe for the gnocchi can be found
here. It was my first ever blog post which I had initially posted on Paul's now closed blog Eat Me! which I moved onto here when I started Spikey Mikeys.

Ingredients:
1 portion
gnocchi
100g unsalted butter
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
Rosemary flowers
5-6 fresh sage leaves
scraping fresh nutmeg
1 tsp dried truffle, crushed (optional)
salt
fresh ground black pepper
100g prosciutto
Olive oil
Fresh grated Parmesan

Method:
Fry the prosciutto in a little olive oil till it nice & crispy.
Remove & place on paper towels & allow to drain of any excess oil.
Melt the butter of a low heat & add thyme, rosemary, nutmeg & crushed truffles and allow to gently infuse.
Cook the gnocchi as instructed.
Gently toss the gnocchi with the butter sauce and place into a serving dish.
Crumble the crispy prosciutto over the top of the gnocchi.
Sprinkle with the rosemary flowers and serve with the grated Parmesan.

Happy Mother's Day Mum!!! x

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

What The ......

I was at Melbourne Markets yesterday & came across these....

They were the size of an apple, a wonderful vibrant shade of red and had me intrigued.
What were they??

Would you believe they are plums!!
Unfortunately the stall assistant wasn't able to tell me what variety or what the were like but if they are there tomorrow I'll be getting some!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Hot Cross Buns

Have you noticed that when you go grocery shopping at this time of year all the stores are full of different varieties of Hot Cross Buns? I've seen so may types out there: traditional, plain, wholemeal, choc-chip, chocolate, chocolate & choc-chip, mocca (coffee & choc-chip), blueberry (??) and would you believe I even saw a savoury one! I guess some bakers imagination s run riot at times.
Anyway, with all these "interesting" varieties out there I thought I'd make my own Hot Cross Buns. I based this recipe from British Food by Mark Hix. This is a half portion that makes 10 buns.

Ingredients:
325g strong plain flour (I used tipo 00)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground mixed all spice
1/4 tsp fresh ground mace
1/4 tsp salt
33g caster sugar
45 g butter
1/2 sachet dry yeast
100ml warm milk
100ml boiling water
1/2 large beaten egg
50g raisins or sultanas
33 g mixed candied peel
To finish
The other 1/2 of the beaten egg
20g plain flour
Few drops of almond extract (I used bitter Almond)
33g caster sugar

Method
Sift flour, spices & salt into a mixing bowl.
Add sugar & rub in the butter.
Add the dried yeast.
Add the milk, water & egg & mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface & knead for about 10 minutes.
(At this stage I let my dough rise in a covered bowl till it had doubled in size - but the recipe doesn't state to do this, so you can skip it).
Add the dried fruit and knead in.
Roll into a long sausage shape & cut into 10 discs and shape into buns (I couldn't count - I made 9).
Place on to a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper, at least 2cm apart.
Cover with cling wrap & leave them to prove for about 30min.
Preheat the oven to 230c.
After they have risen, remove the cling wrap & buns with the remaining beaten egg.
Mix the flour, almond extract & a little water to form a thick paste.
Pipe this paste over the buns to form the x.
Bake in the oven for about 15min then transfer to a wire rack.
While they are still warm, dissolve the caster sugar in a little water & glaze the buns and leave to cool.
I like to eat them while they are still warm, dripping with melted butter

Yes my buns did end up looking almost identical to the picture in the book.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Paper Chef #39

How time flies..
Its that time of month where my creative idea's start running wild & my part just starts running, scared, away from what ever concoction I dream up. Ah yes, the joys of The
Paper Chef.
This month's ingredients were selected by Adrienne from
Hungry Bruno. Adrienne's friends randomly selected three ingredients: Blackberries, Artichokes, Bulgar. The fourth ingredient was her own selection: Salmon. This was going to be fun!
First up, its the wrong season for artichokes & blackberries have just finished. So I had to rely on tinned artichokes & frozen blackberries. Now, what to create :)
I was toying with the idea of a bulgar salad with the artichoke petals, flaked salmon & blackberries, but was worried that the blackberries would turn it into a black mess... So I tossed around a few different ideas & did a bit of googling and decided on pan fried salmon with a blackberry sauce. I was tempted to use the bulgar as a coating on the salmon before frying, but decided against it, maybe next time. The bulgar you can treat like Couscous and is one of the main ingredients in Tabbouleh. My partner Paul decided to pilfer some of the bulgar & artichokes and make a salad (in case my concoction was inedible?). I decided to use the bulgar to coat the artichokes & roast them. Did it work?
Sort of...
The salmon is very hard to get wrong, the blackberry sauce was a complete success & I'll be making it again (Paul says it will be perfect to accompany pork), the texture of the cooked & roasted bulgar was good, but even after repeated rinsing the tinned artichokes tasted of vinegar. So while the ingredients may not have all been in the one dish, they did all work well together.

Ingredients:
for the blackberry sauce:
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup red wine (I used Shiraz Cabernet)
1/2 tbls finely chopped fresh ginger
5-10cm stalk of bruised lemongrass
2 tbls vincotto
2-3 tbls sugar
Pinch salt
pinch ground black pepper

Salmon fillets
seasoned flour
400g tin artichokes, thoroughly rinsed
1 cup prepared bulgar
20g butter
Olive oil
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1/2 finely chopped onion
salt
pepper

Method:
For the blackberry sauce:
Place the blackberries, wine, ginger, lemongrass & 1 tbls of the sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat & simmer until its reduced by about half
Remove the lemongrass stalk and pass the remaining contents through a mouli or fine sieve to remove the blackberry seeds.
return to the heat & balance the sourness of the wine with some sugar
Season to taste.

Halve the tinned artichokes & rinse thoroughly.
in a saucepan, melt the butter and a dash of olive oil. and soften the onion & garlic.
When softened add the bulgar and season to taste.
Add the artichokes and toss to thoroughly coat the artichokes.
Place the artichokes into a greased oven proof dish & spoon the blugar mixture over them
Place into a pre-heated oven (200c) & cook until the bulgar starts browning & crisping up.

Rinse & pat dry the Salmon fillets
Coat in the seasoned flour
Quickly shallow fry on both sides
remove & drain on paper towel.
Serve immediately with the blackberry sauce.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Look Up


You don't know what you will see above the streets of Melbourne...