pastry

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melton mowbray pie
The good thing about Melton Mowbray is not only that it sounds like a place in Leicestershire, it actually is a place in Leicestershire. It’s also modifies the noun ‘pie’ to make a pie from said town that uses fresh rather than cured pork. The addition of eggs makes it a ‘gala’ pork pie and if the first thing you thought of was Dali’s wife, you’ll probably enjoy this.

Melton Mowbray pie has EU Protection of Desginated Orgin protection so this, technically, isn’t that.

The model recipe I used is the V-Tol Veal Ham and Egg Pie Recipe, which was made by Gordon Bedson, who also designed aircraft and the Mackson. Anyone like to drive a car built by Nigella Lawson? Didn’t think so.

The recipe isn’t hard but it does require doing several different things correctly. They are – making a hot water paste, boiling some meat, boiling eggs and making a jelly. The V-tol recipe explains the technical details well.

As I was using fresh pork (a bit of fillet) rather than ham, to bump up the flavour I marinated it for a few hours in white wine and a mix of bay leaf, thyme, parsley, rosemary, juniper berries and peppercorns.

The pork went into a saucepan with the marinade and herbs along with a small rack of veal and a pig’s trotter. It was then filled with water to cover and simmered for 30 minutes – skimming as necessary. After removing the pork, I kept the veal bones and the pig’s trotter in there to make a heartier stock and boost the natural gelatine. I let it simmer for another 30 minutes before filtering the stock in a seive with some paper towel in it and then reducing the filtered stock to just two cups.

By this stage you should have a pile of cubed pork and veal. Allow it to cool.

Take the reduced stock and add a leaf of gelatine that you’ve dissolved in a little heated sherry and white wine (actually it might have been calvados and white wine but I can’t remember).

Make the hot paste. It’s actually very similar to a choux pastry but with lard instead of butter, and no eggs in it. The boiling water/lard combo smells, but kneading the warm fluid dough to smoothness is surprisingly relaxing. Roll out and line a greased springform pan with it – reserving some dough for the top of the pie.

Boil the eggs – 10 minutes in boiling salted water and cool them under cold running water to stop the cooking.

So… a covering layer of meat, then encircle the eggs around the middle and fill with meat. Place pastry on top, seal the edges with a back of a spoon. Decorate suitably with the excess pastry and brush with an egg wash. It’s important to make a couple of breathing holes. Put a foil trumpet in them to allow steam to escape while cooking. These holes become useful later.

Place it all in a 200C oven for 80 minutes – just keep an eye on it to make sure the pastry doesn’t burn.

Now you just need to pour the stock into the pie via the breathing holes. It’ll take a couple of goes as it settles. Leave the pie in the fridge to cool and then serve as part of a low maintenance all meat cold buffet as illustrated below.

cold buffet

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croquembouche


Back when I was catering in the early nineties, my business partner Nic would always talk about making a croquembouche one day. “It’s gonna be three feet high,” he’d say. “Yeah Nic, it’s going to be three feet high and sparkle like gold,” I’d respond knowing there was no way we’d ever be able to afford to make one with the money we had. But I didn’t want to to crush the dream that kept him going.

After a while it was all he talked about, croquembouche this, croquembouche that and it all got too much and I just had to tell him straight that there was never going to be a croquembouche. I’d never seen him so angry as he pushed past me and ran out the door, grabbing the keys to the limited editon Group A Walkinshaw Camira I’d been working on to try and raise some more money. He was half was down the street before I could get my shoes on. Back then, during the recession and before flexible home equity financing, there was only one way you could get your hands on money quickly – speedway racing.

I must have used all 10 speeds on my bike getting to the track, only to hear the sound of metal. Pushing my way through the pits, I got to Nic just as they were pulling him out of the crushed body of the Camira. “I guess I screwed up pretty badly this time,” Nic whispered, trying not to put pressure on his broken ribs. “No Nick, you did great. Now try to relax.” “It’s gonna be three feet high…” and with a smile Nick said his last words. And in the middle of the track I cried hot tears that day, fifteen years ago – so this one’s for you Nic, we finally made it.

Some notes:
- choux pastry is, funnily enough, like a roux but with egg yolks incorporated.
- crème pâtissière uses milk rather than cream. For this one I flavoured it with passionfruit pulp passed through a sieve to remove the seeds and dark chocolate.
- if the chocolate isn’t melted properly it will block the pastry bag and cream will come out the other end, onto the bench and cookbook and then floor.
- melted sugar is facking hot so wear shoes
- for fine golden threads, put a little of the hot caramel on a puff and pull the spoon back and stretch the thread.
- you don’t need a cone, although it helps
- I’d like to try a savoury one with pate.

beef wellington


Ha! The French, inventing a dish that used the favourite meal of the English, the rosbif, and then naming it after
a waterproof boot. Touché! as they say

This is an exercise in deciding how much faffing around you want to do with a meal, and in this case I had a day to idle away. Busier folk could simply wrap a log of spam in store bought puff pastry and then place it in the bin.

The recipe is a combination of a few recipes from my handy Le Cordon Bleu at Home and on the internets. This was actually one of my first fancy dinner party meals when I was at uni and for some reason I decided to make it in the middle of summer. Moving the table out to the back garden helped matters. Although I managed to offend two guests by describing new railway stations their friend has designed as “a large superphosphate shed and a greek temple for the gods of suburban blah”. Would I offend again? The weather was better though.

Features!
-homemade puff pastry (not something I do often/ever)
-shiitake duxelles
-a herb crepe wrap

welly wrap


I’m not going to tell you how to make puff pastry, I just diligently followed a cookbook but it is doable and give yourself a fair amount of time as it needs a couple hours of refrigeration in the process of making it. What is made is a large number of buttery layers with six rotations of a triple fold. So I guess it would be something like- three layers, nine layers, 27 layers, 81 layers, 243 layers, 729 layers.

Beef
I got the beef eye fillet (1.2kg for seven people) from Jeremy’s (and nice it was). Tie it in five places to keep its shape and sear on all sides for about five minutes. Place it on a chopped carrot and a sixthed onion and cook in a 200C oven for 20 minutes. Remove the fillet and allow to cool and then cool in the fridge. Roast the carrots and onion for another twenty minutes and then deglaze the tin with brandy and port. Keep the liquids and the solids to make the sauce later and scrape off any fat that appears on the surface.

Duxelles
I used a combination of 300gm of fresh shiitake and fresh field mushrooms and cooked in a pan for 15 minutes with two finely chopped scallions. Add half a cup of cream and a couple of tablespoons, chopped, of fresh herbs – parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme (stoppit) . Puree to smooth. It ends up looking like a pate which is interesting because one alternative to duxelles is to coat the fillet with pate (as in the liver paste) or fois gras and then warp it in pastry. Chill in the fridge

Crepes
I saw this on the net and then couldn’t find it again but then I found another recipe which suggested using rice paper so the pastry doesn’t get soggy. So I thought the crepe would do the same trick.
Just your basic crepe batter with the aforementioned herbs mixed in. I was going to add porcini dust but they didn’t have any at Herdies so no to that.

Assembly and Cooking
Remove the string from the beef fillet.
Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and trim. Place crepes in the middle and spread a layer of the duxelles and place the fillet on top. Spread duxelles over the fillet. and top with a crepe. Fold the pastry over lengthwise. Seal the ends with a roller and fold the ends over. Turn the beef wellington over with the seal down and brush with egg wash. You can decorate with strips of spare pastry if you like and brush again with egg wash.
Allow to cool in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Place a metal cone (from a pastry bag or bong) in the middle to allow steam to escape and prevent it going soggy.
Place in a buttered baking tray. Cook in a 180C oven for 40 minutes and then allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Sauce
Strain the deglazing liquids and then reduce in a pan with beef stock and red wine.

Parsnip, Sweet Potato and Leek Cake
A large roti that seemed to resemble coleslaw. Not as successful as I’d hoped as a cake tin dooesn’t allow for the right amount of crisping without burning that a pan does.
Julienne the sweet potato and the parsnips and parboil for a minute. Julienne a leek and cook in goose fat until soft and then add the parsnip and sweet potato. Mix through and season and add to a cake tin and cook along with the roast.

welly stovetop


Tasty although I don’t know what I was thinking with the application of the jus, Decided to go all Jackson Pollock, who liked a drink or two I hear.

Topless Seafood Pies


seafood things


These came to me in a dream. Not a very well detailed dream with a complete recipe and I can’t remember if in the dream the shortcrust shells were supposed to look like an ashtray made in year 3 art class. But the idea was pastry in a dariole mould and filled with prawns and scallops. The prawns and scallops and red emperor fillets were chopped into bitey bits.
Wan’t sure about the sauce but I found a crayfish head in the freezer. I removed the shell and the legs and crushed them. The flavour of the shells isn’t soluble in water, only alcohol and fat (mmmm) so the shells were sauteed with some celery as an aromatic, flambeed with brandy and then simmered in cream for 40 minutes.
I then added a few strands of saffron and seasoned. A small amount kept as a sauce and with the rest, an egg yolk and some finely chopped parsley and then poured over the seafood in the shells.

Rice Pudding
rice pudding

The rice to milk ratio is very small 4tbs of short grain rice to 800ml of full cream milk. Bring to a boil in a Creuset dutch oven with a vanilla pod and 2tbs of caster sugar and cook in a 150c oven for 90 minutes. Keep an eye on it or you’ll, as I did, run out of milk and scald the pot.
You’re supposed to then stir in some whipped cream but I forgot that bit at this blurrier end of the eveing but did manage to remember to mix in some fresh passionfruit pulp and decide to caramelise some caster sugar on top with the kitchen torch.

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lamb with tart


Yeah sorry not the best pic but hasn’t it been a while? A brief respite while the mag pops into a bit of a canter. Lamb backstrap, don’t know exactly which cut it is but it’s great – looks like a giant tongue.

Lamb backstrap rubbed down with olive oil and ras al hanout and left for thirty minutes. Seared in a cast iron pan on both sides. Popped in the oven to cook through – a mere 8 minutes, it could have almost made it in the pan. Rested, sliced.

Deglazed the pan with Manzanilla Deliciosa sherry, add a little beef stock, reduce, add cream, reduce and add a few strands of saffron.

The spinach tarts came about because of some short pastry in the freezer. Blind bake, For the filling – gently sauteed garlic, pine nuts, and torn prosciutto with blanched and finely chopped english spinach then added and cooked in a little butter. Mix in a little cream and add to the tart shells and cook for 8 minutes.

Tomatoes oven-roasted with olive oil.

That’s it – extremely good. Mental note of dark plate with light sauce.

Cocoa sabayon and berries for sweets.

spanakopita

Spanakopita [from the Greek spanos - spinach, and kopita - pie] it pretty easy. Lightly blanch a couple of bunches of spinach and chop up. Chop up a few field mushrooms, a clove of garlic and some spring onions and sautee in a little olive oil. Mix it all in with three free-range eggs, a grated block of feta cheese and a handful of chopped herbs – coriander, marjoram, dill, and parsely. Butter a baking tray, place three sheets of filo pastry brushed with butter on the bottom. Add the mix and then top with three more sheets of filo. Cook at 180C for about 40 minutes.

Jo’s moussaka added gravy like goodness with near dissolved eggplant.

Buggered if I can get a single sheet of filo pastry to not tear before just chucking the rest away in scrumpled digust. Is there a trick to this?

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tain provencal

Fack! A perfectly good post down the cyberhole after a frozen firefox. I think I’ll go and sulk and fill in the bits later when I get a moment/cheer up.

Scallop and asparagus tart with saffron sauce


Scallop and Asparagus Tart with Saffron Sauce


Leg of lamb medallions with garlic and tarragon cream sauce

Butterflied Leg of Lamb Medallions with Garlic and Tarragon Cream Sauce.
Served with a Tian Provençal (up top)

This was going to be a saddle of lamb trimmed into noisettes but a “didn’t have” became a “how about” and and I came back with a large piece of butterflied leg of lamb (the bone is cut out and the meat opened out, great for quick cooking after marinating). I trimmed it a bit and made some O in an OK sized rolls which I tied up with string. Seasoned, seared in a pan, cooked in a very hot oven to rare, and rested.
The sauce was made by roasting two heads of garlic then adding the pulp to double cream in a saucepan and reduced with fresh tarragon added. Roasting removes much of the garlic’s pungency and accentuates its sweetness.

This was served with a Tian Provençal which is kind of like a rataouille pie but without the capsicum, which is fine by me. It is also completely vegan, which is rather special. The eggplant is peeled into strips and blanched to make the lattice and fried strips of eggplant make up the sides of and the base. The filling is small cubes of zucchini sauteed with finely chopped onion, garlic and mint. A bit of baking paper in the base of the cake tin (or a tian if you’ve got one and then cooked covered with foil, like a creme brulee, in a water bath for 20 minutes in a hot oven. For a cooking note you might want to consider the effects of having a water bath while roasting something else. No? Inverted onto a plate. The topping is skinned and deseeded tomatoes and finely chopped spring onions cooked in a frypan until thick with the liquid gone. It looks a little like a chocolate cake which makes it perfect for disappointing children.

pear tart with fig and brandy ice cream

Red Extravaganza Pear Tart with Fig and Brandy Ice Cream

Jules in comments asks how I did the ice-cream. Righty ho then, by the looks of it, Jules knows her way around a kitchen but I’ll make a kind of general publicky kind of explanation. Custard was never meant to be the lumpy shite from a packet that you had on apple turnover but the starting point for ice-cream.

Creme anglais + ice-cream maker = ice-cream.

The inspiration for this came from J and her Macadamia Tart. As is quite clear, I wasn’t inspired, obviously enough, to make an immaculately presented dessert but noticed that if I made a batch of custard, I could use it for the the tart and then use the rest for the ice cream and save myself a valuable bit of arsing about time.
To make a creme anglais you split a vanilla pod down the middle, let it simmer in a cup of milk in a saucepan. Meanwhile whisk two egg yolks with 100grams (yeah yeah I bought a scale) of sugar until “it forms ribbons when lifted”. Take out the vanilla pod and then add the milk to the yolks in a steady stream stirring constantly. Put it all back in a saucepan and heat gently until it thickens “until you can draw a finger down the back of a spoon and leave a clean line”, stir constantly. If you don’t, and it never ever has, and you get some lumps, just run it through a sieve. That’s your custard/creme anglais.
Add a cup of thick cream and put in the fridge. If it’s cold it’ll work more quickly in the ice cream maker. Now for the brandy fig bit. Chop up two ripe figs and macerate them in enough brandy to cover for a few hours. You can then work off the alcohol by bringing the mix up to the boil in a fry pan. Add this to the creme anglais in the ice cream maker and watch it go round until ice creamy. You don’t have to watch it, but it is kind of compelling – more so than Dancing with the Stars.

The tarts… ahh pate sucree, bit of custard, chopped pear, in the oven blah blah blah.

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chicken and mushroom quiche


Today is International Women’s Day. Spiceblog is well regarded as a leader in gender issues on the internet in Australia so I shouldn’t let this slip by. As is often said, where the mirror cannot be found, the dish will do. Last Friday I went to the outdoor movies and I made a quiche. For those around at the time, the quiche was a minor celebrity in the crisis of manhood in the early 80s – second only to the manbag. It managed to inspire a book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” with the punchline being “they eat ham and egg pie”. Hoohoo indeed! I’m not sure where this animosity came from, I mean it’s not as if half our language isn’t French already or that manliness is derived from an earthy literalness that would have us saying that’s not a carburettor, it’s a device to regulate the flow of fuel and air into the cylinder. Possibly it was a kind of no-nonsense response that played into a myth of the fall. The fall being the defeat in 1066 by the Normans which destroyed the priveleged position of good honest monosyllables and all things Arthury or something. So ingrained in me was this that there was a moment of hope that since I didn’t have a quiche tin and had to use a cake tin, the lack of scalloped edge and the relative heightiness meant that it would be a pie. It wasn’t

Get yourself some short-crust pastry, butter a tin, cut a circle of pastry out, place it in the bottom. Cut some strips out to go around the edge. Seal up any gaps and blind bake for 10 minutes at 220C. If you haven’t done this before, it’s just to get it nice and crusty. Place some dried beans on the pastry to stop it puffing up. I disn’t have any beans so I used some ceramic hashioki. Just put a sheet of baking paper under them.

Mix was one chicken breast which I left to marinate for an hour in Ras al Hanout spices. Pan cooked and shredded. About a cup of chopped field mushrooms and then a third as much chopped spring onions and a third as much of that in chopped scallions all gently cooked in butter. Mix together with the chicken and a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Four whole eggs, half as much cream, and half again of cheddar I had. OK alright there’s maths here but are you going to have the same amount of spring onions as mushrooms? No. Half as much mushrooms as chicken maybe. I wanted mix with eggy bits just holding it together and I got it. How much cheese do you want? Make a decision. Salt and pepper. Cook at 180C until you dip a knife in it and it comes out clean and then take it out and cool it on a rack. You can then pop it back in the tin for easy transportation to said French film.

Film of which was French film The Story of My Life – dealing with thirthysomething doubt regarding artistry versus commerce versus success versus failure versus risk versus identity versus vulagarity versus the woman you have versus the woman you want all mixed together in a second act snarl up with comedic result and character switchovers.

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Lamb Rack with potato salad, slow roasted tomatoes, onion jam, and jus


Fucking great, really great. Yes it was.

There’s not anything particularly original or new here but I liked how a lot of different things came together making it a very personal dinner party menu for two good friends from England. Tasty too.

dhufish in phyllo


This is the dhufish wrapped in phyllo pastry. Jo gets Gourmet Traveller and didn’t know what dhufish, which is a great shame, so I chose this for the entree. I like it with just butter but this recipe fancies it up without overwhelming the fresh sweet taste. The recipe is pretty much taken straight out of the Second Simple Cookbook by Athol Thomas. The book has been a great help in cooking Western Australian seafood.

Make a herb butter out of 125gm of butter with one tablespoon of green peppercorns and the juice of one lemon. Place the butter on each fillet and wrap each one with a sheet of phyllo pastry, sealing underneath with some melted butter. Put in a well buttered baking tray and cook for 15 minutes at 200C.

The sauce is a reduction of white wine with a tablespoon of tarragon and then whisked some cream in. I’d made a bisque earlier that day (like you do) and added a tablespoon to the sauce and then added a few small pieces of butter.

Lamb Rack with potato salad, slow roasted tomatoes, onion jam, and jus


I revisted this recipefor the lamb rack. I left out the mushrooms as being summer something cooler would be nice. To accompany it I made a warm pea and potato salad with a tarragon, parsley, and chive two yolk mayonnaise. Thinking of bernaise sauce, I briefly boiled the vinegar for the mayonnaise with a tablespoon of tarragon before adding it to the egg yolks. Once the mayonnaise was made I added a tablespoon of the parsley and the chives. The kipfler potatoes were cut into small cubish shapes, they do this at Jacksons with a higher order of precision but it’s a good idea. Several smaller pieces will have more surface ares than one larger area [I'm sure there's some way of working out how much more but ermm help - no wait if it was four cubes it would be the existing area plus the addition of two sides of area for the horizontal and vertical cut so additional area=a x (n-2) where a=the area of one of the original sides and n=the number of new pieces] and this means more area for the mayonnaise to rest on. The size also balances nicely with the peas. Peas are in season at the moment so I shelled and cooked them until cooked without being soft and refreshed under cold water. [ Slight digression I made a nice pasta sauce for rigatoni the other night with freshly shelled peas, pancetta, EVOO, asparagus, garlic, and plum tomatoes] Alll Mixed together with a couple of chopped spring onions.

Instead of cooking the red onions with the lamb, I made a relish out of it. Cook the onion until golden and add 3tbs of raw sugar and 3 tbs of white wine vinegar and cook, stirring, until thick.

The cherry tomatoes were cooked with EVOO, salt, and rosemary in a 200C oven for 10 minutes and then cooked at 150c.

The sauce is a mix of beef stock, red wine, and a little cream whisked in for colour.

For cooking the rack, sear the sides in duck fat and then roast in an oven at 180C for 12 minutes on each side. This allowed it to be cooked evenly through but cut back to maybe 20 minutes for a rare finish. Allow to rest in foil for 10 minutes.

Watermelon Mojito Sorbet


A break from ice-cream due to non dairy dessert preferencing guests. Get about four cups of watermelon, puree it and take a cup and heat it with a third of a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of basil. Heat until the sugar had melted and strain. Add to the rest of the puree with the finely chopped rind and juice of two limes and a third of a cup of white rum (I’m not sure how much exactly – just what was left in the bottle). Popped in the ice-cream maker until nice and frosty. You can alternatively use the freeze stir and bash method. The alcohol is what gives it a bit of mushiness, maybe a little too, no just right.

Apparently in England, if you hit an animal with your car you can’t claim it, but the following car can.

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Bastani Akbar-Mashti on Baklava


It is, sadly, not enough to just have ice-cream anymore. There has to be an extra carbohydrate bit so I thought I’d lump the Middle East together in one handy package and use a baklava as a base for this Persian variation on vanilla ice-cream.

I almost stuffed the ice-cream completely by just giving the ingredients a quick glance and not looking at the instructions. To clarify, the stages are
1. Heat milk with split vanilla pod
2. Whisk sugar with eggs
3. Pour hot milk slowly into sugar and eggs while stirring
4. Add cream when cooled.

and not pour all the ingredients except the eggs into a saucepan and start heating and then wonder that the eggs looked a little lonely in the bowl and have another look at the recipe. But, as Mark at work kindly pointed out when my line of tapenade had a slick of olive oil around it making it look like an overexcited black slug – ‘all can be fixed.’

There was nothing I could do about the getting the cream or the sugar out of the milk, so I just added a little sugar to the eggs and whisked, and then just poured the milk/cream slowly in as if nothing had happened. I then added two teaspoons of rosewater, as part of my quest to finish the bottle, which was to taste. It is strong so advance a little at a time. I also added two teaspoons of honey, which I regretted as it provides an overly harsh note of sweetness. Put in the fridge to cool, before adding it to the ice-cream maker. You can then chuck little neatly cut cubes of turkish delight in as it goes around and marvel as they get drawn into the icy vortex.

Place in three dariole moulds, smooth over the top and leave in the freezer until ready. If you had some kind of tube thing, that would be quite good too.

Baklava is easier than it looks and is no harder than making a lasange, a tricky dagwood, or a voltaic pile. Phyllo pastry can be a bit fiddly but if you work with small amounts, it shouldn’t give you too much trouble. I wanted it to match the ice-cream so I cut rounds out of a similar size to the dariole moulds three or four sheets at a time by using a cutter ring and giving it a good whack with a rolling pin. I used (buttered) ramekins for each individual one and you stack it like this. You’ll need to brush each round of pastry with butter as you stack them. A lovely assistant is a boon.

4 rounds of phyllo pastry
nut mix nut mix nut mix
3 rounds of phyllo pasty
nut mix nut mix nut mix
3 rounds of phyllo pastry
nut mix nut mix nut mix
5 rounds of phyllo pastry


Heat sugar the sugar syrup over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the allow to simmer uncovered without stirring for five minutes to get it syrupy. Pour over the baklava and then bake for about 30 minutes in an 180C oven or until goldened. Allow to cool in the fridge – time does help the flavours.

Assembly:
Remove the baklava from the ramekin, heat the dariole’s in warm ater briefly and place carefully on topon the baklava, top with a little of the nut mixture, decorate with turkish delight and serve.

Well it was fantastic, really fantastic. Ice cream makers are the best. Admittedly I wanted it a little sharper than a slighty tilting truncated pine tree but not to be. I’m convinced Keiko has some kind of robotic lathe that she picked up from an outsourced Japanese precision engineering firm, it defies my competencies. Nevertheless project Become Quite Good at Dessert progresses well.

Bastani Akbar-Mashti:
250ml of full cream milk; 100gm sugar; 2 eggs; 400ml of thick cream; one vanilla pod; 2tsp of rosewater.
Baklava:
packet of phyllo pastry. Nut mix: 1 cup of chopped cashews and walnuts; 1/2 tsp each of ground cinnamon, allspice, and cloves; 100gm butter (plus extra for the pastry). Sugar Syrup: 1/2 cup of caster sugar; 1/3 cup of water; juice and finely grated rind of half a lemon.

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confit of rabbit with beetroot wontons, rabbit liver pate, celeriac mash, parsnip, and a mustard cream sauce.

This is the main course for An Extremely Good Dinner Party

Let’s get the bits I didn’t like out of the way. Technically it’s not much harder to assemble than a double cheese burger and looks like it. Not happy with the bits hanging over the side, the mash is hard to see because the wontons are too large, what you can see looks too lumpy. The strips of parsnip could have been much crispier – temperature was too low. The chops also look a bit pale and more of a zap with the blowtorch could have helped. A little more consistency with the shapes of the pate would have been better too.

In the end that didn’t matter too much because within a few minutes it was in bits over the plate. There was a lot I liked about it. Firstly there was about three days of idle thinking about it in order to get a cohesive dish out of a number of factors hinging around a rabbit carcass. This is why there was an eep and, apologies in advance, when guest number five was going to be a vegetarian and a huzzah when they weren’t coming. There was also a good measure of serendipity in having stuff around like chicken stock and pasta dough. The other good thing was every last bit of rabbit that I had was used in some way. If I’d skinned it myself, I could have made an attractive hat.

Just to make things more logical in a Cooking For Engineers kind of way, I’ve done a flow-chart to simplify things [see also: Cassoulet de Castelnaudary flowchart]

rabbit confit map

Cutting up the Rabbit
Four is a difficult number for a rabbit as about 60% of the meat is in the hind-legs, which leaves an unbalanced serve if leeping it in pieces and two rabbits are to many. I decided to shred it. Stuffed was too wintery and boning it is too fiddly. To dismember a rabbit:
-remove the forelegs by cutting where you think the “shoulder” would be. There isn’t one.
-the rabbit has a kind of double backbone, so run your knife down either side of the middle. Then start trimming off the skin to get to the fillets, you should get four of them.
-dislocate the hind-legs and cut them off. You can shorten the excess bone at the end.
- for this I kept the rib cage intact and worked out double ribbed chops with a cleaver. You can french the ribs, which I believe is to work the meat off.

Marinate the legs and fillets overnight in EVOO, parsley, marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper. The rest gets saved for stock- including the kideys but not the liver, this becomes pate.

Confit of Rabbit
A confit is poaching meat in oil or fat. Originally the confit would have been preserved after being salted but these recipes are hard to find. More common are the unsalted recipes which will keep sealed in the fridge for a month. I was thinking a possible Christmas present but nah.

You’ll need:
1 onion (minced); 3 garlic cloves (minced); sprigs of thyme, marjoram, and rosemary; some sage leaves (chopped); two star anise; 10 peppercorns; white wine; 150ml of goose fat; and enough olive oil and vegetable oil to cover the rabbit.

Get a casserole dish or a dutch oven. Brown the rabbit pieces in goose fat, remove, sautee the onion and garlic and deglaze with a splash of white wine. Add the herbs and spices and place the rabbit pieces on top. I added a chopped stalk of celery form the celeriac as an aromatic. Cover with vegetable oil and olive oil and bring to a very slow simmer (i.e. a couple of lazy bubbles) and then place in a 150C oven.

The exact amount of time varies but mine took 40 minutes plus the time it took to cool. The goal is to get it cooked to the point where it will flake off and shred. Drain the oil and reserve and put the meat to one side and shred. Ideally you’d leave it to the last minute but I reheated it before serving in a little of the oil.

Mustard and Cream Sauce
Make a stock with the rabbit leftovers, bones and kidneys. Usual chopped carrots, onion, celery, parsley, peppercorns and white wine. Add a cup of chicken stock and cover with water. Simmer for a couple of hours. Strain. Refrigerate the stock and scrape the fat off the top when chilled. Reduce and season.

Add a heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard to the stock (adjust to taste) and then whisk in about half as much double cream. Allow to simmer for five minutes, stirring.

Rabbit Paté
Luckily the carcass included a bag with the liver in it. Trim the liver. Sautee half a chopped onion and a couple of chopped cloves of garlic in 50gm of butter and put aside. Sautee the livers until pink inside, add to the onions. Grind 6 cloves, 10 peppercorns, a teaspoon of ginger powder, and a teaspoon of szechaun pepper. Deglaze the frypan with a splash of tequila (no brandy) and then heat the spices though and add it to the liver and onions. Puree. Season to taste. I thought it was a little lacking so I added a splash of port which added a small amount of sweetness and filled in a few gaps.

Celeriac and Parsnip Mash
Boil one celeriac cut into pieces. The pieces should be the same size as the ends of the parsnips*. When soft, mash the celeriac and the parsnip and stir in about a cup in total of milk and butter. Season to taste.

*The remainder of the parsnips can be peeled into strips with a peeler and deep fried in the oil as a garnish.

Wontons
It’s not really a wonton but it also got the name pink pappadam which it isn’t either. All it is, is the other half of the beetroot pasta dough that I had sitting in the freezer, rolled out to a “7″ and then cut into circles. The they’re deep fried individually in the oil and fat from the confit. I used a potato masher to hold them flat while frying.

Assembly
I think that might be all of the ingredients. The timing meant I cooked the confit before leaving and taking it in the pot to Andrea’s place, leaving it to sit. The wontons can be done and kept warm once the oil is drained and it’s best not to leave the mash sitting around. All a bit hard to keep them all together and hot and that’s why it’s handy to have a few trays to pop in the oven.

Make a ring with bits of paté. I diligently tried to shape them with two teaspoons but ran out of time so just shaped them with my fingers. Wonton in the middle, top with wash, another wonton, then the shredded rabbit meat, another wonton, then the parsnip strips, then the rabbit chop (just cook them in the oil), and top with a thyme flower (which happens to be happening in my garden). Pour the sauce along the ring of pate, take a piccy, and serve.

Eating
Very good, once the niceties of presentation had been smashed it was all scraping up bits of rabbit and mash, catching some crunchy wontons and a little bit of pate with the sauce. I couldn’t have been happier with it. A lot of work but mucho satisfaction in thinking about how it all came together.

Also
A rocket salad and spinach made with a vinaigrette of EVOO, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and red horseradish (found it at Elmars).

Ahk that’s it. I’ll proof this later.

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green tea ravioli with red bean paste

A quick apology for the rather low standard of presentation but I really can’t be arsed by the end of a dinner. Not that this is any excuse for a lack of skills in this regard. I should learn to do the swirly thing with the satay stick or something.

chotda pack uh oh

A little while ago I was lucky enough to receive a package from kindly Santos of Guam. Her generous efforts at a stretching my parameters were sadly confounded by our strict quarantine laws. I’m happy to announce Australia is still free of the scourge of banana flowers and medicinal bark. Apparently if you want to get food past customs you tell them it’s delicious with mayonnaise. Don’t bother with a Bhudda statue. The lesson is – send cash. Anyway I was left with rice paper and Korean green tea flower (which given my current embarrasing social habit, I was surprised I didn’t start chatting in Japanese with it). I could have combined the two but had a different plan.

My first one was to make green tea beignets and then stuff them but I thought the red bean paste I wasn’t to use wasn’t fluid enough for the task. Instead I was inspired by the fried chocolate ravioli I helped with on Thursday and thoought I’d go with a variation of that.

eggs and green tea flour green tea pasta roller ravioli cutter

The green tea pasta was your standard pasta recipe but with the addition of a tablespoon of sugar and the use of green tea flour. I’m not going to tell you how to make pasta, instead you can go here. The green tea flour wasn’t totally amenable but the pasta maker takes a bit of practice and I don’t think I’ve used mine more than twice this century. Ruggedy ragged edges aren’t too much of a problem if you’re just going to stamp it out anyway. Run it through to a 5 thickness.

The red bean paste – an freezes quite happily and was left over from IMBB#15 Mizu Youkan – detailed making instructions to be found there including showtunes.

Well then it’s rather easy. Cut out enough pasta for the ravioli stamp to fit comfortably, add a teaspoon of the bean paste, place another piece of pasta on top and, after squeezing out any excess air, stamp. Repeat. Deep fry until crisp at 180C and serve.

It was served with a gamache mix of half cream/half dark chocolate melted over a double boiler. Some cream for the plate and a slice of frozen custard apple as an afterthought. Santos has the goods on custard apple aka atis.

Well it was good. I would have liked a little more bean paste in my mine but it’s not to everyone’s liking. The green tea flavour was quite mild and the ganache nicely in unsweet unison. The custard apple, which I’ve never had before, and suspect it may not have quite been right.

Now as for the rest of the meal. I’d asked a couple of friends and a bit after 4 Toni asked me what I was making and I realised I had no idea. So a quick trip to the shops just before they closed at 5 had me sorted for guests at 6:30.

spanish mackeral

This is the spanish mackeral caught by Local Man Catches Large Fish who would be joining us for dinner.

The spanish mackeral was in cutlets and it’s just a matter of removing the skin. Using my tip from the Kaiaseki workshop, I coated it in salt for half an hour and rinsed to remove some of the fishy smell. Cooked in nice hot slab of butter with the addition of flat leafed parsley and tarragon and a splash of vinegar and served with aparagus mixed after cooked with lemon peel、parsley, tarragon, and butter.

A lovely piece of fish it was.

chicken and walnut fettucine with chilli pesto

Since the pasta maker was out, I made some plain fettucine as well. Not too hard but I hanker for a plastic pasta hanger as it was a bit of a tangle. Actually comes apart quite nicely when cooking which happens in about four minutes.

For the pesto – one chilli, deseeded and chopped; two crushed cloves of garlic; pinch of salt; handful of toasted pine nuts; and handful each of parsley and parsely; process, adding EVOO until it gets to the right pasticity. Stir in some grated parmesan cheese.

Chop us some chicken thighs, marinate in pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil and cook in a pan. Toast handful of walnuts. Add to the pasta and the pesto and serve.

A swell mix of textures and home made pasta really is better.

So that’s WTFDYWMTDWT kinda done for now, lasts month’s IMBB-fried has been done but a bit late; and with green (carbohydrate subjected to heat) eggs and an, I’ve done EoMEoTE#10.

Goodnight.

Hey! check out what’s at An Electronic Restaurant by Masterchef “Noodle Cook” and Oslofoodie has made pancakes.

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Goulash and Spaetzle

I don’t really want to tell you how to live your lives, but with the weather the way it is, you should be spending your Friday nights eating goulash and spaetzle and drinking red wine and strong Belgian beer. Jo and Robbie made the goulash but my contribution was the spaetzle.

Spaetzle is the Swabian stuff you see on the right of the plate which, after a few, looks like orzo and is your best mate etc. Well worth considering as a DIY sauce-soaking carbohydrate option. As easy to make as pancakes and a happier value for time and effort than gnocchi.

It’s a simple thick batter made of:
two eggs, two cups of flour and one cup of milk.

For flavour:
a pinch of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, and a handful of fresh thyme, basil, and parsley – finely chopped.

If you’re a gadget tragic, you could get a Spaetzle Press, but I used the stainless steel washing up gear container with holes in it to get an ahhhm similar effect. Get a pot of salted water boiling and let the batter drip in and scoop it out when it comes to the surface. It was finished in a pan with some/lots of butter and served with the kilogram of beef/kilogram of onions goulash. A very happy combo.

St Bernardus Tripel [Bonus Beer Nazi finishing move here!] at 8.5% is on the sweet side but it’s solid creamy consistency offsets any possible sickliness and leaves the impression of have bitten all the way through a large block of cheddar. Shiraz is better for decanting and easier drinking resulted in guitar-based hi-jinks. Go make your own fun.

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beef and mushroom pie

If not by now, at least by the end of this post, you should be of the same opinion as me. Mother Winter is not to be hidden from at the door like some collector of charity but invited in and given a warm embrace for the opportunities she brings.

I made this for lunch during my long weekend holiday down South using the leftover pot roast from the night before. It is a dish of great ease. An account, vary at will:

Sauteed a finely sliced leek in some olive oil, added a chopped carrot, added some chopped field mushrooms, added the chopped up leftover beef from last night (if you don’t have this just chop up and brown some uncooked meat), added half a couple of glasses of red wine, a bay leaf, a sprig of freshly chopped rosemary, and a dozen peppercorns. Brought to a boil. Covered ingredients with beef stock and allowed to simmer for 10 minutes (or water just leave to simmer a little longer – it should bemore or less how you like it before you put it in the oven). Heated half a cup of stock and added teaspoon by teaspoon of cornflour until it became a paste. Added to the mix, stirred in well, and added to the pot. Taken off heat and transferred to a ceramic dish. Cut out a circle of puff pastry to fit, placed on top, made an half-arsed attempt at a decoration with the leftover bits, brushed with the very last scraps of butter and placed in a 180C oven for 30 minutes (until the top is golden), and served.

Yes I enjoyed it. A thicker crust would have given greater gravy soaking joy and more butter would have given a more golden glaze but otherwise, it would be hard to go wrong here.


Foodists! Tired of preaching to the converted? Buck Fudd has a “kitchen cupboard full of healthgiving but unfulfilled grains and pulses” and is in need of advice. Go! Share! – Buck Fudd’s Blues: Bucking Hungry.
[thanks Robert Corr]

volauventAs we discussed, you knew you were at a very special 80′s Perth party when the mini vol au vents came out. If you were lucky, you may have washed them down with now defunct Swan Premium. I’ve never made them before due to the difficulty of obtaining vole but decided to go with chicken instead.

To be frank, vol au vents are kind of a drag. I was going to just buy the shells but felt guilty so I compromised with bought puff pastry and then went from there. Cutting out the base and then the ring shape to go on top is dull, dull, dull. There’s a brief moment of magic when they spring up in the oven, but that’s about it. The filling was classic menu wank that I chose for no other reason than the combo of pistachio, chicken, and blue cheese sounded good. Quite tasty but the time taking fiddliness could have been put to better ends and the filling was an uncomfortable compromise between chunky and creamy.

Served at my sister and brother-in-law’s decade of being together do. Good on ‘em I say. Stopped in, pre-party, at the drive-through bottle shop at Steve’s for a bottle of ’95 something (bad year for France?). Wandered downstairs to have a look at their vintage-wine filled cellar. Very impressive and on a completely unrelated note, anybody out there with tunneling experience. POWs? Coal miners? Get in touch OK.

Winter goes, a day that turned bastardly and dinner with friends allowed me to try this wintery inspiration from my “50 if it’s a day” Cook a Good Dinner by Ann “Many housewives are not interested in the baking of cakes or making of preserves, instead they would rather…(creative readers can make suggestions in comments)” Mason, to make a pot pie with a scone crust.

I used a recipe from a post a year ago on Beef and Guinness Stew with two modifications. One was to use Cooper’s Extra Stout instead of Guinness and to add a bay leaf. All the stout went in the pot this time, every last beautiful drop. I held it tight, the ball of my hand resting on the cool smoothness of the glass, my fingers brushing against the label. This will be a long month.

The scone mix is easy to make and uses the following ingredients:

4 cups wholemeal SR flour; 60gm butter; 1tsp dried mustard; 1tsp salt; 1.5 cups milk/water mix

Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs and then add the other ingredients – kneading lightly on a floured surface.

Rolled out the scone mix and trimmed to the size of the dish. To stop it going soggy from the stew, I gave it a quick and very light toasting in the oven.

Well?

It was little more bitter than the the last time, a little too much for me and I’m not sure if it was due to changing the stout or the addition of the bay leaf that did it. The scone was great, doubling in thickness. Simplicity. Meat, gravy, stodge all in one. The season’s passing here but Northern Hemisphereans, tuck this one away

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