seafood

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A moustache is like a skeleton key that opens doors to social circumstance.

I don’t know what the above means, or even what it has to do with this post but it was said on the day of the happy occasion of the wedding and moustache insights are auspicious.

This all began at a Dumas talk and dinner for 16 I did at regional food champion Taste of Balingup, which was pretty much as good a mix of fun and nonsense I could have hoped for. One of the friend guests (as opposed to complete stranger guests) asked if I did wedding and if I could do cocktail food for her wedding in Pemberton and I said ‘sure!’ and banged up my bona fides. Normal people might ask a details question like ‘how many people?’ They probably also ask questions like ‘is this thing on?’ or ‘it this pan hot?’ and the like. So it turned out to be 130 and while I’d say I was anxious and wildly out of my depth, I also get anxious making what I’ve trumped up to be ‘a nice sandwich’.

I’m also not an especially good and organised self-motivator so my self improvement strategy is to commit to something out of my league, and do it. Anyway the only way I could get through this is with my smarts and what it would require was strategy and tactics – something you don’t forget when you’ve spent 5 years in the jungles of Afghanistan fighting Maoist rebels.

First thing – staff of me and maybe somebody else.
So – couldn’t be faffing around with ovens, fryers, or carrying around lots of trays.

Second thing – I imagine a hungry mob devouring everything in seconds in a great fury of feasting and then turning on me.
So would require some kind of choke point and delaying device. Essentially funnelling a wall of guests into a smaller space – essentially what we refer to as a ‘kill zone.’

What I eventually come up with was a series of tasty foods in jars that I could prep in advance and then, basically, when I could there, just crack open some lids. Prep was also key as the budget can be hauled in nicely if you cook things from scratch. It takes more time, but the results are there.

Very handy was the use of a professional kitchen at a lovely winery in a lovely place. I don’t know if they want to associate their kitchen with my faffing about but lets just say ‘mislaid body of water’. Professional kitchens, as well as making you feel all professional like, are great because they have big hot ovens, lots of wipeable stainless steel, big sinks and everything is hanging up or out in the open so you don’t spend half your time searching through kitchen draws for where somebody’s put the ladle. Lots of tea towels too.

Also very handy was help from a somebody who knows what they’re doing and daughter and a home ec student on the morning and during the day. You can never underestimate the value of being able to ask someone to do something and having people there so you don’t ‘lose your shit’ and ‘start sobbing uncontrollably.’ Also handy if someone forgot to put two soft eskies full of sauces and jellies in his car when moving over to the venue.

Results

Well, very well, if I might say so myself. Nobody died and the food was well-received, eaten, complimented on, and some said they ‘loved me’. The food lasted through the hour or so of drinks and this was because people could come over and leisurely help themselves to little bits of food. Food that was carried around on trays (pfffft so old school) – the gougeres – was scarfed down in short order.

The wedding as a whole, I couldn’t fault (apart from the short 80s pop dance set) – the weather was gorgeous, the avacado farm it was on looked stunning, the lovely couple more so, the flash mob ceremony was inspired, they played Franz Ferdinand, there was meat and cake, the company delightful, the booze didn’t run out and the bus left at 2am.

Food notes below.

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Smoked and Cured Salmon in a Jar

Salmon. I’ve you haven’t had, or aren’t planning to have, a child of your own then four freshly filletted 1kg slabs of salmon is as much a source of home arrival pride as one could ask for. If you’ve used a knife, you’ve never enjoyed it so much as seeing thin orange and white strips peeling off under the gentle pressure of a yanagibocho. If you’ve eaten salmon off a shiny gold bit of cardboard and not coated in light but complex flavoured olive oil, then my condolences.

The salmon was the inspiration for the whole jar strategy, having seen salmon in a jar in French Saveur a couple of years back. I couldn’t find the copy but I did find this recipe on the internets.

Half the salmon was ever so lightly smoked with soaked hickory bark in a smoker box in my lidded barbecue. Basically just keep the smoke ticking along for 15 minutes or so to infuse, but not cook, the salmon. After that it’s on to the gravlaxing.

For the gravlax part, I combined a few things but this recipe is pretty much it + some juniper berries, which end up make it more gin cured.

 

Duck Liver Paté

Pretty much this recipe from Vogue Entertaining without the slightly gauche gold leaf; the addition of some chicken livers; and the replacement of vinocotto with some sherry to deglaze the pan. Four kilograms of it – good grief. Terrible to get into jars when hot – goes everywhere.

The bread that went with it was par-baked baguettes and they’re great. 15 minutes at 180C with a bowl of water in the oven for some moisture and they’re beautifully crisp and hot. The alternative was taking baguettes up with me and having them two days old for the wedding so, no.

Albany Oysters with Champagne and Virgin Mary Jelly

Albany oysters are small and sweet and I had 13 dozen delivered to my home. They’re still alive when delivered and keep well in the fridge with a wet towel over them. They’re designed to live a while when the tide drops down. This does mean they’re alive when you shuck them, which is a little sad. But given they don’t write books about shagging lots of younger lady oysters as a way of dealing with their own impending mortality, I don’t think they dwell on it too much.

Make sure you use a tea towel to hold the oyster down so the shucker doesn’t go through your hand. Force should be required as really all you’re doing is severing a couple of tendons at the pointy end. Albany oysters seem a bit trickier to open and it’s not just operator error. Not a big deal with a dozen but with 13 dozen, it did add up. Given them half an hour to open up a bit out of the fridge.

A trick I learnt is if you don’t want to spend all the event shucking oysters. Shuck, them and tip the oyster and the juices into a container. Pop in the fridge and then just pop some oysters and collected juice back into the shell. It avoid oysters sitting around drying out on an open shell and as an added bonus, grit settles to the bottom.

The jelly is just dry sparkling white with gelatine and the other mix up a virgin mary. 3 titanium leaves of gelatine per 500ml of each. No need to heat the wine or the virgin mary but do soak the leaves for a few minutes in cold water. Then put them in a small amount of hot water to dissolve before stirring through, allowing to set and cutting into small cubes.

Marron with Shaved Fennel, Chilli and Garlic

Marron, if you, don’t know, are freshwater crustaceans about 8 inches long, tip to tail. They have claws on the ends of their legs and beautiful, sweet, delicate flesh. Pemberton is famous for them. These were freshly caught, purged, cooked and shelled and delivered to me. Sweet.

These were a worry because if you cook something that’s a local specialty, you can only really fuck it up. So a light touch. A dozen or so marron. A big mason jar with olive oil. A few crushed cloves of garlic. A red chilli and half a finely shaved fennel bulb. Just doled it out to smaller jars at the wedding.

Enormously popular and well received – may have been out of towners but chalking it up as a win.

Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with White Anchovies

Nothing graceful about making these. Hull and stuff with a quarter to a half of a white anchovy. Coat in some of the white anchovy marinade. Interesting because they look like the peppers stuffed with goats cheese but aren’t so ahhh surprise!

Martini Olives

Vodka, vermouth as per usual. Soak whole green olives for a few hour. Drain and keep marinade and serve olives. Shake marinade with ice and serve  to yourself with twist of lemon.

Gougere with Smoked Tomato Sauce

Recipe from the very good cookbook, Mr Wilkison’s Favourite Vegetables, from the very genuinely talented and funny chef Matt Wilkinson of Pope Joan, Melbourne fame. Buy it.

Gougeres are like savoury cheesey profiteroles. The fantastic thing about them is that they freeze very well. Bake, pop on a tray with greaseproof paper and covered with clingfilm, and then once they’re frozen, pop them in a zip lock bag. When you’re ready, just put them frozen on a tray, eggwash them, sprinkle some parmesan and cook until golden in a 180C oven.

I smoked the tomatoes by soaking hickory chips and putting it at the bottom of a wok. Place a rack above the chips, place the tomatoes on the rack and cover with foil. Then heat outside on a portable burner. The tomatoes will only lightly cook but the smoke will pervade.

They’re pronounced goo zhair but will  inevitable be referred to ‘cheesy puff things’

And don’t overfill your pastry bag. Ever

Celery dunked in Virgin Mary

Yeah , yeah, crudites. But they’re crunchy, clean the mouth and palate and look lovely piled in a glass with a few leaves and the green offset with the bloody mary red. I think 3 sticks were eaten. Tsk.

Smoked Almonds

I bought these, aren’t I clever?

Truffle Popcorn

Easy and bulky carbs for the hungry. Make popcorn. Toss with truffle salt and place in large mason jar. Great and just a hint of truffles. Got through two jars.
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Or as we can say in the rough and rumblous new world of social media, ‘a fuckload’. Just shipped up from Albany for me.

Doing drinks food / aperitifs / nibblies / amuse bouche / whore’s dwarves* / snacks for a wedding of 130 souls on Sunday. There will be adventures, maybe there will be stories.

Did you know that they’re still alive as they’re able to live outside of water to allow for tidal fluctuations. Anyway things to do, jars to fill.

*Plot spoiler for GoT

Also: half of quite a bit of salmon for some ‘gravel relax’.

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avacado soup with scallops

Had a progressive dinner party the other weekend (not the Progressive Dinner Party) and apparently they were the thing when people were kids. In Muntadgin, we had people over for dinner and even then I can’t really remember us having anyone over for dinner. I guess if you have one shop and everyone raising sheep, there weren’t going to be a lot of opportunities to wow people with a persian fairy floss becovered daifukumochi. Actually the collective food effort was always ‘a plate’ and this would be at dances and would involve the same cheese being used in several different ways – free ranging cube, cube on toothpick, square on sao …

Anyway I had the role of entree, which was nice because it restrained me from going batshit crazy and cooking a dozen things. So I need something that was impressive because I’m all alpha like, something that could be cooked in about 10 minutes and still engage people for an hour or so of eating.

So. Soups are great for pre-prep and suffer little for it but then you want a bit more than that and scallops are your perfect bit of quick cooking flash. French Saveur came to the rescue with an avacado ‘velouté’ with scallops wrapped in ham.

The fish stock was made with the standard stocky stuff and snapper fish heads and bones but the helpful tips are to soak the bones for four hours (Michel Roux Jr) and that even if it’s not strong enough, you can always finely strain it and reduce it. I always like it at just the the point where the watery disappears. It’ll keep in the fridge, so I made it the day before. Then it’s just a matter of heating 800ml of fish stock. Adding two chopped avacados and 200ml of creme fraiche,  heating it through and then pureeing it with a stick blender.

The scallops were wrapped in proper speck that I’d gotten with the proper bacon in the previous and lovingly sliced with a sashimi bocho, which worked surprisingly well. As an added bonus, I made a third of them with Irish black pudding. It quickly turns to shit when you cook it in delicate rounds, so I mostly cooked it to make sure it was done enough when served for gentle souls and the kind of patted it onto the bottom of each scallop before wrapping it in the speck.

The interesting part of the recipe is chopped hazelnut, which I supplemented with salmon roe for a bit of colour, a different texture and to remind people of the fishy base of the soup.

The original plan was to serve the soup in a jug so the cutlery and the bowl was in place and then I thought I could put in in a thermos and that’s make a nice travelling theme for a progressive dinner. This led to the toasted ham and cheese sandwich digression. I had these ready-basted with clarified butter and filled with black pig prosciutto and pecorino cheese with the greaseproof paper ready folded and string at the ready. Anyway, I couldn’t find the thermos and went back to the jug but hey, who doesn’t like a toasted sandwich, and toast is great with soup and avacodo is excellent with ham and cheese.

So here’s how it went
-freshly ground pepper, salt and smoked paprika on the table.
-bowl of chopped hazelnuts and bowl of salmon roe. EVOO in little pot thing.
-soup reaheated and transferred to jug
-scallops cooked on hot griddle which was transferred to the table
-toasties toasted, chopped into four and wrapped and tied

Everybody then helped themselves and then bundled off to the next place.

Success.

obviously a rubbish shot but a startlingly accurate one

You know, you meet at the Subiaco farmers market to select food for the night’s dinner with friends, share in the fruits of the farmers toil by filling your basket with produce and then you go and drink several beers, a couple of G&Ts, a bottle of sparkling red (experimental Myattsfield), a bottle of Riesling (’09 Castle Rock) and a Shiraz (’04 Will’s Domain) [all local and great] and wonder why the room’s spinning while you’re carving the main course.

It’s a valuable lesson against starting early and then waiting for excitable kids to go to sleep before starting dinner but, that said, mission accomplished. Three courses from what we picked up earlier – pecans, snapper, organic sweet potato and potatoes, an eye fillet of beef, rocket and assorted lettuce, field mushrooms, snapper, bread, double cream and, as an added challenge for a nation troubled by fruit/meat combos, a tray of peaches.

So.

Entree
Snapper cooked and tossed in a peach salsa of a couple of diced peaches, handful of coriander, half a finely chopped onion, a finely chopped green chili, a squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of olive oil. Leave salsa for an hour to let the flavours mingle with each other and adjust flavours to taste.
Frozen snapper reacquaints itself with the sea with a sprinkle of salt and left for five minutes before cooking on the BBQ. Try also with frozen prawns.

Mains
Beef fillet seasoned, seared, brushed with eggwhite and truffle mustard and then covered with a mix of ground pecan and fresh breadcrumbs (2:1 ratio). Popped in a baking tray flanked by large field mushrooms cut in half and sprinkled with the pecan-bread mix and all splashed with olive oil. Pop a meat thermometer in the fillet and cook it in a hot lidded BBQ. Remove when the thermometer reads about 55C for medium rare and let it rest.
Jus made in from chopped mushroom stems and red wine reduced [actually I can't remember exactly what happened here]
Potatoes diced and parboiled to join the oven roasting diced sweet potato [slow roasting releases the sugars] and then roasted up with extra olive oil and some salt.
There was also a rocket and peach salad somewhere in there.

Dessert
Slice the cheeks off the peaches, brush with a little olive oil and grill on the BBQ. You can even go that bit further and manage not to cremate the skin. Extra points for crosshatched 90degree rotation on grill.
Serve with double cream and a few wavy lines of cream of balsamic .

I then walked through a screen door, demanded photos of myself, a few other things which I’ll be told in due season and then the autonomic defense system kicked in, found me a comfy chair and sent me gently to sleep. A perfect evening.

Pro Kitchen Drinking Tips!
1. Prep! Get all the tricky slicing stuff out of the way earlier on – nobody loses a finger stirring.
2. Cook and leave! High maintenance dishes take away valuable time spent socialising with a glass of something.
3. Desserts! You’ll be at the lowest level of your skills. Keep it easy.
4. Coffee! You’ll need one to make it from dessert to the cheese platter.
5. Manners! Nobody’s going to pour you a glass of something nice after an expletive filled rant on cycleways.

Public Notice: I’ll be speaking about editing a food mag, food blogging and related interesting things next Thursday as part of the Autumn UWA Extension Course. I believe there might still be a seat or two available. More details.

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The good people at Enjoy WA Wine asked me to match up a bottle of local wine with a dish, which was really rather nice of them. You can find the recipe here.

It was a few things I’m enjoying at the moment – lemon, chilli and garlic as a flavour combo, wrapping things to cook them, and the snapper is such a magnificent beast to have whole on a table. Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends are my hot day sessional favourite and I could drink them all day long before I decide that maybe I’ve had a bit too much to drink but then manage to remind myself that I’ve got a nice bottle of fortified somewhere.

And if you haven’t tried Western Australian wine because of poor distribution networks or a misplaced sense of regional pride, please do. One of the great opportunities afforded by the mag had been the chance to taste some stunning local wines. I’d like to say I used that opportunity to become an expert but there’s still much more work to be done.

If you’ve got to the point where you’re not entirely sure if you’ll be OK just slicing off a piece of Xmas ham, you could always make a stock out of it. It’s also prawn season in Australia so heads aplenty as there’s no gratis fry-em for me that they’ll do in Japan (mind the horns).

Chop what ham you’ve got into cubes, add enough cold water to cover by an inch or so, bring to the boil and skim off anything on the surface. Add half a dozen white peppercorns and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Take your prawns and stir-fry them in a small amount of oil until they turn pink. Add them to the ham and water. Return the pot to the boil and skim the surface. Add a whole red chilli or two and a bruised stick of lemon grass. And simmer for another 15 minutes.

Strain through a fine muslin cloth and taste, it may need to be reduced for a  stronger flavour if that’s what your after or just consider adding a few lemon wedges and some chopped chilli to your served broth.

For this I put two raw scallops, a prawn tail, and some watercress in each soup bowl and poured the boiling stock over it – this should very lightly cook the meat. Garnish with coriander leaves, some sliced red chilli and a wedge of lemon.

crayfish tail

The crayfish/western rock lobster  man of human kindness came last night with two fresh crustaceans. This provided a golden opportunity to do a post that didn’t involve potatoes.

This was very much an experiment that started with the simple technique of en papillote – wrapping in, literally, parchment and cooking. If you can get your hands on a piece of treated goatskin, good luck to you. I used baking paper.

  1. remove the crayfish tail (humane method) and then remove the poo tube by inserting a skewer at a join near the end of the tail and lifting it out. Run some kitchen scissors up the inside to open up the bottom part of the shell – this will expose the flesh (phwoar!)  and make removing the meat easier.
  2. I used a combination of chopped basil, tarragon leaves (handily flowering), butter, wedge of lemon, and a finely sliced clove of garlic. What you do next is wrap the tail around them and then secure it with a wooden skewer.
  3. place this on a piece of baking paper, bring the sides up, give them a twist to seal and tie with a piece of string.
  4. cook in a 170C oven for 20 minutes [ this may of course vary wildly but the paper turning brownish isn't a bad cue for doneness]
  5. cook some pappardelle (always makes me think of this) and mix through a bit of EVOO and basil leaves.
  6. now, plate the pasta, remove the string on the package and then place it in the middle of the pasta.
  7. you (actually since you had two crayfish, with someone you love) remove the paper, dump the buttery herby goodness onto the pasta and get your hands dirty cracking the shell open while you eat the meat with the pasta. It’s fantastic.

I opened up a bottle of McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos 2007 Marsanne, Chardonnay, Roussanne. It sounds like it should be layered in a shot glass but is, in line with their track record, very good. It’s got that fine dining feel of a chardonnay but a lot of freshness built in and some lovely aromatics. If I were pushed I’d say it’s like a nice sofa made of lemon and soda water but that’d be nonsense so I’ll settle for – was perfect with a monday night bit of seafood slap-up fancy.

cray plated 2

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Well that was tasty. A providence dinner of sorts – I was given some freshly-picked broadbeans and some freshly-dug potatoes. I’ve actually, and this is both a personal embarrassment and an indictment of how stuffed up things are with food generally, never had a fresh potato.

The two make a nice pairing for a few reasons; colour contrast, different textures, slightly bitter and slightly earthy. I thought a mayonnaise would bind them together as a lush potato salad but then worried that the fresh taste would get swamped in fatty goo. So olive oil it was and some chopped leek for an aromatic and a bit of chopped coppa for the taste element meaty. And so…

4 fresh potatoes, diced
a cup of broadbeans (velvety pod goes but don’t strip it down to the inner pod)
a couple of inches of leek, finely chopped
a few slices of coppa, torn into small bits
EVOO

Boil the potato to cooked but firm and while you’re doing that you can steam the beans on top – they work out about the same time. Remove and rinse in cold water.
Sautee the leek in a good solid splash of olive oil and then add the coppa and cook until lightly brown but not crispy. Add the beans and potato and stir through until heated; gently mind, it’s not a stirfry.
Season and serve.

Meanwhile, in the freezer was some mackerel from my brother-in-law in Darwin. Being not quite so fresh, a bit of ornamentation was in order so it became a gratin.

two bits of mackerel, defrosted, skin removed and chopped into several pieces
a small red onion, sliced
clove of garlic
glass of white wine
a cup of panko breadcrumbs (redundancy noted)
tsp of paprika
a reasonable bit of feta cheese, cubed

Gently soften the onion and garlic in a suitably sized casserole dish. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the fish, cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes in a 190C oven. Meanwhile, toss the breadcrumbs with the paprika. Remove the casserole from the oven and top the fish with the breadcrumbs and the feta. Return it to the oven and cook until the top is lightly browned.

Serve the two together next to each other on a plate and you can combine at will. It’s really rather good.

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Vince Garreffa tells us that you should cook every dish twice; once for yourself and then for your guests. Such careful hospitality is lost on me. I’m a ‘sharing the journey’ host.

Plan
One large salmon. Instead of merely poaching it, I’d make a court bouillon, freeze the court boullion, place the frozen boullion in a vacuum sealer bag with the whole salmon, vacuum seal the bag and then cook it sous vide. Remove gently cooked salmon from bag, remove skin and cover with cucumbers to resemble scales.

The logic was impeccable. The salmon would be gently poached in water but trapped in a sealed bag with a smaller volume of flavoursome stock. The genius part was freezing the court bouillon so it didn’t end up being sucked into the pump of the vacuum sealer. It also meant it could be done well ahead of time without the fish marinating.

salmon sealed

Reality
In retrospect, when the salmon was sealed in a bag with what looked like a pink urinal cake, it should have been a sign of trouble to come but it all came with sound reasons. The carrots, red onions and the white wine turned the court boullion into a pinkish shade. It was just unfortunate that I chose a flat bottomed pudding bowl to freeze it in.

Moving on. Three kilogram salmon are long. Long than any pot or dish you’ll own and longer than any commercially available disposable roasting tray. I used the disposable roasting tray and it looked like a tall man who’d mistakenly booked in for a night at a hobbit bed and breakfast. The weight of the salmon slowly pushed down the sides and simmering water would leak out onto the burners until they filled with water and made a sad gurgling sound.

At this point I realised I had to either change tack or accept the fact that guests would have to suffer food poisoning. It was a tough call but I eventualy wrapped the half poached salmon in foil and tried to fit it in the oven to finish it off. It fitted at an angle, once I snapped the tail off and was eventually cooked at a gentle temperature.

Redemption
The good bit was that I sliced a whole burpless cucumber on a mandoline without losing any bits of fingers. Skin taken off the salmon and the grey bits gently scraped off and the cucumber ‘scales’ added – they hid the ‘join’ on the tail.
It was also damned tasty.
poached salmon

Notes: the court bouillon I used comes from here and adjusted – half a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a cup of water, a handful of parsley, a twigs of thyme, half a dozen peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a chopped red onion, one sliced carrot, one sliced stick of celery with leaves, juice of half a lemon and a tsp of salt.
Simmered for half an hour and then strained.

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unagi don


  • Unagi looks like the hiragana character for ‘U’ in Japanese, making it a handy mnemonic. There’s no equivalently useful food in English.
  • There’s a special day reserved in Japan for eating stamina-giving eel, which I referred to as ‘unagi day’ but is in fact called doyo no ushinohi. If you wanted to make a joke, you could call it doyo no ushirohi, which is eel buttocks day, which is actually pretty funny. This site not only has much more information but also has an amazing number of tiny gif characters.
  • There’s a handy hole punch like thing that you use to nail the eel’s head on a board so you can fillet it.
  • In a three stage process the eel is grilled, steamed and grilled again.
  • This removes much of the eel fat, which instead drips down onto hot charcoal and is transformed into smells. Tasty ones.
  • Above is an unagi donburi (or unagi don (or unaju-). It’s grilled eel with a sweet teriyaki style sauce on rice.
  • Japanese don’t use teriyaki to anywhere near the extent that we’ve been led to believe they do.
  • The rice has been mixed with a kind of sushi vinegar, which was sugar, rice vinegar and dashi. It’s also good plain.
  • The black things are soft konbu furikake.
  • I bought the eel ready-to-go at Seafresh in Innaloo.
  • Yes it is on the floor, but they’re nice floorboards, no?

OBSERVATION Has this blog got skinnier or have screens become wider? Because there’s like all this space on the sides.

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First in a series of recipe cards from around the world - the souffle


Keith Floyd – he’s alive! ALIVE!! Sure we were curious as to what happened to that large boulder and were dead impressed when he offered us to pop our fingers in the wounds all the while casually emptying a couple of bottles of Pouilly Fume but really we were just happy to have him back. What we really liked about him (apart from being the only person apart from Mark Oliver Everett that can wear a bowtie and not look like a berk) was his humanity. A weakness for booze, rubbish at finances, and a deep and sincere need to be loved. He also had the improbably rock star name shared with greats such as Keith Richards, Keith Moon and Keith Urban.

So the Keith Floyd tribute dinner of Smoked Trout and Cucumber Souffle with Rice Pudding based on second-hand Cornish scuttlebutt was not so much a time for mourning but celebrating. He had, much more so than my souffle, risen. While the miracle of birth is one thing; forgetting what it was like being a kid and being genuinely surprised when you actually woke up is another; it’s to have, to lose and to get back that’s the real trick.

Here’s his Real Rice Pudding recipe – it’s simple so don’t skimp on the vanilla pod, the milk or the cream. It’s an unseemly luxury for its simplicity.

3tbs short-grain rice; 600ml full cream milk; 1 vanilla pod; 25gm caster sugar; 150ml of double cream – whipped until softly peaky

Bring all the ingredients, except for the cream, to the boil and then put in an ovenproof dish with a lid and cook at 150˚C for 2 hours. Remove the pod, allow to cool slightly and then fold in the cream.

UPDATE

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Monday has been declared Marine Monday (or ultramarine monday if you like New Order).

My two serves of Red Throated fackmeIhadnoideaitwouldcostthatmuch Emperor unexpectedly had to stretch to three people. This causes issues; not because I’m a stingy bastard but because the more you’ve spent on a piece of fish, the less you want to clutter it up with other plate filling distractions and stodge. I thought the best way was a kind of Thai-ish noodle salad, with the nice fresh flavours lifting the fish rather than bury it. Here’s the result and bugger me if it isn’t fantastic and something you should make and enjoy.

400gm of white-fleshed fish – I used red throated emperor.

200gm packet of sen yai noodles (flat white rice noodles), cooked/softened to packet instructions

1 red chili, finely sliced
a handful of coriander leaves
a smattering of mint leaves
half a red onion, very thinly sliced (VERY)

2-3 tbs of brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce
juice and finely grated rind of a lime

two free-range eggs with dash of fish sauce and a pinch of salt – made into a thin omlette and sliced into thin ribbons
a cup of unsalted peanuts, pan roasted (and can I for once not burn the bastards)
2 lebanese cucumbers, julienned and drained of excess liquid
one lime, eighthed

1. Cut the fish into chunks, stir-fry in oil and then put into a bowl with the chili, coriander, mint, and onion; allowing the hot fish to mingle with the flavours – possibly handing out a few business cards and asking them to get in touch. It should be warm.
2. Give the noodles a quick stir-fry to heat through a little – not to cook
3. Put the noodles in a bowl, add the contents of the bowl with the fish , cucumber, peanuts, and egg. Add the fish sauce/sugar/lime dressing
5. Garnish with lime and extra bits of coriander.

Fabulous.

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of it, so here’s a photo of Eva being opinionated:

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oysters and trout

Can you knock off work, get to the shops, attend to jobs like bathing child, and bang out a very respectable 10th anniversary dinner? Yes you can.

Get oysters from reputable fishmonger (shucked – unless spending that special night with a DIY stigmata is your thing).
Get a lime. Lop the ends off. Segment. And then trim off the central pith.
Buy goat’s cheese and leave to soften on the bench.
Buy reputable smoked ocean trout. (tetsuya has just got some out)
Lay evenly on a piece of glad wrap.
Spread goats cheese over it.
Place it on a bamboo sushi mat and roll. The trick is peeling the glad wrap out of the way, for obvious reasons. Place it in the fridge to chill. And then slice into rounds.

Easy – impress your friends. In fact, if you had a nice bottle of sparkling chilling in the fridge and maybe cooked a few asparagus in butter to have on the side; you’d have a pretty special meal all in itself.

carpetbagger steak

We had a bottle of 1998 shiraz (the fourth of six) so the match was a rib of aged Dandaragan Organic Beef. I stuffed this with few oysters by making a pocket with a boning knife and then sealing it with toothpick. Seared, then put in the oven to cook. Quick wine and cream jus made in pan. Zucchini flowers cooked in a little butter. Green things (radish sprouts? can’t remember) tossed with a little very good EVOO and salt and pepper. And that’s it.

Memo to me for dessert: use foil when blind baking tart shell to avoid having to dig out dried broadbeans.

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doesn't get much better than this? no I didn't think so


If the apotheosis of the Australia Day weekend is wearing the Australian flag like some kind of gormless synthetic textile superman, then it officially does dingoes. However, there is fun to be had on the back of a boat moored off Rottnest, where the captain pops off and comes back with crays. Most decent, very Australian.

Crayfish/Western Rock Lobster with Garlic Butter
1 large boat
1 obliging friend
3 crayfish
2 local purple garlic clove, crushed
some celery leaves, chopped
splash of hot chili sauce
1 fistful of butter

Send crayfish to sleep in the chest freezer then slice in half. Clean out the head.
Allow butter to melt in the sun and then smoosh in the garlic, celery, and sauce.
Pop crayfish meat down on the BBQ to sear, then flip over and liberally baste with butter. Eat with mango salsa and frosty cold beer.
I don’t recall enjoying crayfish this much since I was in Playas de Rosarito with a mariachi band for accompaniment.

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nannygai and watermelon


Just something quick that was going to involve squid but didn’t. A large toungue-like strip of nannygai was substituted and dusted in plain flour, (less) cornflour, (much less) chilli powder and (a little more) ground coriander. Ground coriander was added because it has a more interesting flavour profile than just chilli and has a hint of orange to it. The watermelon is a mix I nicked from Jackson’s of watermelon, finely chopped spanish onion, coriander leaves and mint leaves. A bit of gloss for the fish came from a hot vingarette which you can make by deglazing the pan with some wine vinegar and the some EVOO.

Nice. Although the watermelon had a bit of bought earlier in the week limpness about it which isn’t good.

ALSO

Assuming you haven’t spent all your christmas dosh on spice subscriptions and on-line ordering a reminder that Menu for Hope III is on and it’s a fantastic chance to combine christmas giving (the United Nation’s World Food Program), and getting (the chance to win some fabulous food prizes – they could always be belated christmas fan).
Big Bowie fan Santos has her head around it and is offering self-enabling DIY muffins and a bento starter kit and then get over to pim’s and helen’s for the full deal. You can check on the progress at the donations page.($18,000 $26,000 so far !!!)

AND
In the best thing for Perth since the Air Races, Matt is hosting food blog photo contest DMBLGIT. Entries close December 28th so rifle away through your November pics.

and once I got this right the rest was downhill


Mr Chubby d’Hubby of Singapore was in town for a wedding a little while ago and I insisted, *insisted* that he come over to my place for dinner in the spirit of bloginess and a sense of regional friendship that seemed to have been lost since Australia decided we’d be part of the Anglophonic Superfriends. If you haven’t been over to his blog ‘Chubby Hubby’, then off you go now. Great isn’t it? But eeek! from a I’ve got to cook dinner for this person perspective. On top of this the other three guests, his wife and two friends were all heavily involved in food in both work and leisure. The other thing is that Singapore is a very cosmopolitan and outward looking place so there was no – ‘as you may not be familiar with Bulgarian food type’ dodges. (sorry this isn’t making any sense is it?)

To cope with my I’m a bloggin’ fraud angstiness about these things, the plan was to have something which was really good but didn’t look like I’d tried to hard just in case it didn’t work out because I was like being all casual and all in a kind of faded jeans and cowboy shirt way (actually that’s what I wore).

Cold entree prepared in advance, rack of lamb (‘cos it’s Aussie), and rhubarb ice cream for dessert.

Cold entree ended in the bin, lamb rack became pork rack and rhubarb ice-cream became rhubarb ice-cream (but with cardamom – oooeee).

Pains to Spain
The entree was a facking disaster – a combination of orange roughy roe, ocean trout, and crayfish horns. Unfortunately I was working off a few different recipes so it was a cross between a terrine/mousse/parfait. The orange roughie roe did work, it’s not much raw but did make for a very nice pate – cooked in orange juice and then cream. This was the top row.
For the next part I smoked half my stash of ocean trout. Pan fried the other half and pureed them both. It then became apparent I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and ended up making a mousse and had a brief naff sixties flashback. Crayfish horns filled the inside.
Tried it the next morning and realised there is indeed a significant difference between smokey and acrid and this was the latter. Toni concurred and in the bin it went (not something I do lightly).
What to do. I still had some bits of fish and crayfish left and a fish stock I’d made; thinking I needed it for the terrine that became a mousse.

So, a kilo of mussels, and some smoked chilli squid legs and it was a paella with alioli. I’m pretty sure this was my first paella so being all experienced ‘n all – the secret is a good stock, chopping and deseeding the tomatoes yourself, and making sure you sautee them until they’re dryish. Do this and the lady from the cover of Surfer Rosa will appear as if by magic and dance the special dance for your entertainment for making such a fine paella.

The alioli was – one egg, four garlic cloves, salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp hot water – pureed and then EVOO added drop by drop then a stream while the wand is going until the consistency is right.

Mains
Went to Jeremy’s Butchers thinking lamb rack and instead saw a lovely 10 chop rack of Spencer’s Brook Organic pork and was sold. Did I mention butchers were good? Jeremy half cut the chops to allow better cooking, scored the top, and sent me away with the wisdom.
Oil it and salt the skin to dry it out the day before and let it get to room temperature. Raost at 220C to get the crackle crispy and then cook at 160C for about an hour and a half. And then rest in foil for 45 minutes. This seems a long time but it will retain a lot of heat and continue to cook the meat.

The ironic thing, actually more coincidental, but you don’t get a lot of ironic opportunities in food blogging is I swore I’d give the La Gavroche cookbook a rest, but found a recipe for rack of pork ribs that I resignedly followed – accepting the book is stamped on my brain in much the same way that every song I know play ends up sounding like I Wanna Be Sedated.
(And I’ve just realised that I’ve done virtually this whole dinner before *with* rhubarb ice-cream as well. Help! I’ve got dementia.)

The pork is cooked over root veges – in this case – 5mm slices of kipfler potato, parsnip, and white sweet potato. Along with garlic, sliced scallions, rosemary and thyme. The traditional way is to pour a cup of chicken stock as well and baste regularly. You can get the veges up to appropriate crisp while the pork is resting.

Apparently, legend has it, that in olden days, the ladies would use the local baker’s ovens and to save messing about – they’d do it all in one dish. Hence the songs of the time like:

Bad cooking woman
Given’ away her lovin’
That’s mah roots
In another man’s oven

[played to the tune of I Wanna Be Sedated - adagietto ]

The accompanying La Gavroche gravy was a tomato-based Charcutière sauce

Rhubarb on my brain
Rhubarb ice cream was this recipe for the rhubarb:
Rhubarb and cardamom tartlet
and then the rhubarb added to the creme anglais in the ice-cream maker and the juices and sticky used as a sauce.

rack of pork

The Meal
Well the meal was a lot of fun. Excellent wine was brought and the conversation was lively. CH & S actually got married in Perth and have a knowledge of the food and wine here that had me struggling to keep up. There’s something very nice about guests who are simultaneously very serious about their food but also very casual about the whole thing.
The paella was right tasty and the alioli managed to settle down from being like the breath of satan because of the much stronger local garlic – to something a bit more palatable. I was asked for seconds!
The pork was a bit dryer than I would have wanted, having left it cooking a little long, but the pork itself was great and the ribs proved very popular with at least one guest.
And then it was dessert and sticky and the night was over and away they went on their long journey north to Joondalup.

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clear soup mackeral

My significant other-in-law Chris runs a charter fishing boat out of Darwin. He has five top fish and not only refuses to keep any fish outside of the five for himself, but refuses to give them away either. Picky to be sure, but it meant we got five bags of immaculatey packed and filleted pieces of Darwin’s finest when my sister in law came to stay.

Mackeral in a Clear Soup
Mackeral is a strong tasting fish so the idea was to place it in a milder context of the mild fishiness of dashi stock. The dashi has mirin added to it for a bit of sweetness and soy sauce to fill in the gaps with a bit of meaty saltiness. The amounts of the latter two need to be tested with tasting. Dashi has a short cooking time so there’s more variance than with a stock that has a longer cooking time and a greater margin of error.
I was also happy to find katsuoboshi in a pack of 50gm bags at the small Asian deli next to Herdies Grower’s fresh. All that seemed to exist before were two kilogram bags, which is quite an amount of of dried bonito shavings. 50gm is also exactly the right amount you need for 1.5 litres of dashi, along with a 6x4cm square of konbu. Konbu is a large sea grass that contains glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is used as a neurotransmitter but also stimulates the umami receptors of our tongue. Umami is the mysterious fifth dimension of taste, which I find personally relevent as Age of Aquarius was the number one single in the year of my birth. It’s also the source of the much maligned MSG.
Traditionally, dashi is made with the water used to rinse rice but untraditionally, I didn’t have rice so normal water had to do.

Dashi
- Add the konbu to 1.5 litres of water and heat over a medium heat. Just before it comes to a boil, remove the konbu from the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil. Add 50gm of katsuoboshi and just as it starts to sink, strain the stock. I’m not sure of the exact degree of sinking and whether it’s as soon a one flke heads downward. Just don’t go wandering off.

Soup
The soup is based on a bamboo and prawn clear soup recipe from Kosaki and Wagner’s The Food of Japan. Theinteresting thing in this is the prawns are dusted with cornflour and quickly cooked in boiling water and then chilled. I’ve no idea what the cornflour does, it’s usually great for coating chicken for frying though. In this case, it did wrap the fish in an interesting texture.

- Add 5 tsp each of mirin and soy sauce for every three cups of dashi.
- Cut the mackeral into manageable pieces and cook as for the prawns above (there aren’t actually any prawns or bamboo in this in case you’re confused, because I replaced it mackeral didn’t I? And try getting fresh bamboo shoots at 6pm on a Sunday night in Perth).
- Add the mackeral pieces to the soup and heat through.
- Distribute the soup and mackeral pieces to the bowls and garnish with sliced chilli, steamed asparagus, and bean shoots that you’ll have spent 15 minuted trying to tie into four neat bundles with a lightly boiled bean shoot stem.

golden snapper


Golden Snapper with Artichoke Barigoule
Yet another Michel Roux Jnr recipe, I’d explain it in detail but I really think you should just go out and buy Le Gavroche Cookbook and get the Food of Japan while you’re at it. Artichoke barigoule is actually quite an old French dish. This one is best described as a mirepoix of roughly equal amounts of fennel bulb, onion, carrot, and diced and browned parma ham cooked in olive oil with thyme and garlic with two peeled artichokes in sixths added and then simmered covered with greaseproof paper with a glass of white wine, 60ml of warm water, and the juice of half a lemon for 15 minutes. Think of it as a nascent stock.
The fish is cooked in a very hot ovenproof pan in a very hot oven with olive oil, rosemary and thyme.
Serve on mash with the barigoule, garnish with freshly shredded basil leaves, a splash of olive oil and some of the barigoule juices.

Very nice. The snapper is fantastic and the only thing that can be “done” to it is stuffing it up, but a careful eye should prevent that. I liked the barigoule too, the finely diced pieces blended together without any particular one being dominant with the citric aspects of the wine and lemon juice matching the fish.

Bonus Motor Reviews:
00 V6 Holden Commodore Executive
If you’re an executive that makes his or her own cup of coffee and brown bags their lunch then you’ll appreciate the modest touches like non-electric windows and a cassette player. The steering wheel feels surprisingly like a stress ball, handy for times of refuelling, and connects to competent enough if uncompelling handling. The treasure though, is the engine which throttles the loaf-like sedan at a rudely entertaining pace, which, when couple with underperforming tyres allows for many squeal like a pig moments.

’06 620 Ducati Monster
Traditional no fuss naked home of gentler Ducati engines makes for simple biking pleasures accompanied by a beautiful Termignoni note. Sit up and beg riding position with wide handlebars allows for confident drop in cornering. Slipper clutch avoids traditional Ducati requirement on manly bear grip but does make for uncertain starts. Lower power requires more judicious gear selection than with larger torquier twins. Apparently the front shocks can’t be adjusted , so firmer springs and a bikini screen a good accessory choice.

’06 Volvo XC90 D5
Smooth spinning and with a creamily compelling engine howl, it handles as effortlessly as it does seat five with ample luggage space. Quick, quicker with autotronic, but be soothed by Nordic utilitarian design and soft lights.

Next Week! 240 series redux

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trout bound in pink


Four caught trout given to me by a friend on return from a trip down south, wrapped in silicone ties sent to me by a Flickr friend in California in return for sending a song with the same name as her by a Japanese punk band which was downloaded by shareware from somebody with that particular song on their computer somewhere. Eaten with friends who bought beer and wine while we faffed around with a guitar that had been given to me in Japan with a distortion pedal that my brother in law loaned to me when I had birthday breakfast with my Dad who had given me two boning knives previously, one of which I gave to our guests at the end of the evening.

trout


Trout rubbed with ras al hanout and stuffed with almond, date and orange couscous. Served with an orange and fennel salad, and kipfler potatoes with fennel and mustard mayonnaise.

And speaking of good stuff, Chika reviews my ahmmm house さようなら、おうちレストラン. Kind of like Hello! magazine but not naff.

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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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scallops and beef with beer

I’m doing a cooking workshop next month on cooking with beer and have been doing a bit of experimenting to find something that’ll work. This is an attempt at something simple. The steak sauce being not dissimilar to the 60′s bachelor piece d’resistance Steak Diane with a deglazing fluid having cream added. I don’t know how impressive beer being that fluid would be, personally I think the retrograde element would have been as impressive to potential dates as a quick tour of the Chiko Roll poster collection but who knows, maybe we’ve moved on.

The steak is a bit of beef fillet, seasoned and seared on all all sides then popped in a hot oven until medium-rare. The cast iron pan is deglazed with a glass of Emerson’s Oatmeal stout with some chopped spring onions and some rosemary and reduced. It was reduced by a about half but still a bit gappy and the rosemary didn’t fill so much as kind of loiter there wondering what was going on. Strained and then 100ml of cream whisked in and simmer for a couple of minutes. Much nicer but still I feel it’s a bit of a creamy cheat. The mushrooms we’re already in the oven, doused with a bit of stout, waiting for the steak to join it.

The cabbage is steamed until soft in a saucepan with a glass of Jarrah Jack’s Pale (a new local brewery down in Pemberton). A bit of crisped up speck mixed in and a sprinkle of carraway seeds. The carraway seeds weren’t all that helpful, amplifying the bitterness that was already there enough with the beer.

The scallops, and I like putting scallops on things, were the nicest surprise. I reduced down a little rasberry lambic and before it was about to vanish, put the scallops in. There’s that nice red caramelised look and the sharp sweet matches well with the fleshy sweetness of the scallops.

Dessert was (summon the insirational powers of Le Gavroche) a rhubarb compote made using Leffe Blonde and a vanilla bean and topped with a raspberry lambic sabayon. Sweet, tarty and luscious with a faint whiff of beer elements – go you 60′s bachelor!

AND: Steph is entirely not happy at the fact that only two blokes have shown up at the last 10 parties. I know the internet is the last place you’d find single guys but come on fellers. With the above and the fact I drank the uncooked beer in a fancy glass, it’s not strictly within the rules but this post is indisputably – Man Food.

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smoked salmon cut

This is easy. Part of the lunch for the-mag-is-away weekend, the Michel Roux jnr lamb cooked in a salt dough was a little trickier, maybe I’ll explain that later.

1 cup of aborio rice, 1/4 cup raw sugar, and 1 tbs of darjeeling tea. It was supposed to be jasmine rice, brown cane sugar, and jasmine tea but well I fould out I didn’t have any of these and just made do. Place it on a sheet of foil (didn’t have that either) and then place it in a wok. Place the fish in a bamboo steamer and then place that in the wok and turn up the heat. It should begin to smoke and allow it to continue to do so for about 15 minutes or until cooked. Outdoors is probably a good idea. Sliced and eaten and enjoyed a great deal. The lamb was good too with the tarragon crumbs giving it a richness that felt at times like gargling hollandaise.

Trickier still and unlike gargling hollandaise is getting out a mag. Just got back from going over the proofs, the final stage before it goes to press and yes I’m happy. The whole thing looks great. Although (inevitably) I’m not that happy with some of my stories but happy with some bits, especially the ones that made me laugh. These are at my own jokes though so the experience may be somewhat different for the rest of you. A late night but a rewarding one seeing it finally all together. Most of my work (I’m editor now – yeah yeah well I just write it here, I don’t check it) involved sitting and looking at the very unmagical MS Word and printouts, there’s then a fantastic transition when I get to see it come together on InDesign by our designer Kate with the pics from photographic editor Jeff. But nothing like big bits of paper with lines all over the margin bits (as they say in the industry). It’s quite a few more involved than just us three – Kate found herself invaluably (for us) shanghai’d and of course my wife has gone from blog widow to mag widow (but both of these have a better ring to them than bike widow) and has given me more support than I deserved. Done. Out in a week or so, when I think I’ll be licking stamps or something.

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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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Poached salmon with kang kong scrambled eggs


OK here we go. Deboned and skinned salmon cutlets poached in white wine, pepper, bayleaf, and parsley with scrambled eggs with cream and mushrooms with kang kong sauteed in olive oil with thin pieces of pancetta. Topped with a reduction of the poaching liquid with cream and chopped capers. Gotta do something about that glare. Any questions?

…..
Saffy asked how I poached the salmon. The roundlet of salmon is how they prepare it at Jacksons for the confit. You cut the cutlet down the middle, take the bones out, skin it, and then make a ying-yang shape and tie it up. This was the point where I found out I didn’t have any string so I secured it with a couple of skewers. Couple of big glasses of wine in a saucepan with peppercorns, bay leaf and parsley and bring it to boil. Place it on a heat mat/diffuser to get it down to a very low simmer (almost no bubbles) and then add the salmon. Top up to cover the salmon with water and poach until cooked. If you don’t have a diffuser, a very low heat will do.
…..
Seems to be trouble with the commenting, if so just email me – spiceblog at gmail.

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cold soba and crab salad

A very special first time ever treat for you all,

************a spiceblog original joke!!!!!!!!**********

Noodle: Another vodka tonic and make it snappy!
Barman: Are you always this rude?
Noodle: Well if you think this is bad, you should see me when I’m soba.

************* : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : )**********

Soba is a greyish Japanese noodle made either mostly or entirely of buckwheat (soba) and water. Friend to vegetarians and the gluten intolerant, it also makes for a great train platform or highway service area snack and is marvellous cold with a soy/dashi/wasabi based dipping sauce.

Quite easy to buy dried but flush from successes with making fresh pasta, I thought I’d make some. The gear used to make it is fabulous. Traditionally the soba dough is rolled out with a long wooden pin on a large wooden board. They also use large red and black wooden bowls for mixing. All very stylish and the soba knives are the coolest things ever and it saddens me they aren’t seen more in hand to hand combat with heads fortuitously rolling into soba mixing bowls flecking buckwheat flour with crimson or perhaps a show tune with the rolling pins as canes. Alternatively you could say hello to the BandoTaro. I used my pasta roller.

Not the best occasion to make it, back from the shops at 5:15, unshowered from a run, and having decided barely an hour area that we’d be having a BBQ for 10 for Toni’s family at ours at 6. She came back in after sweeping the outdoors area to find me covered in flour, what was I doing, “making noodles”. I got the look. Ah well it was just a matter of bunging out a coleslaw as well.

The crabs are Shark Bay blue swimmer/ blue manna crabs after our crabbing trio in Mandurah didn’t eventuate due to conditions inclement.

Soba:
The mix of buckwheat to wheat flour can vary but commonly it’s 80/20 respectively with the gluten in the wheat binding it together. Pure buckwheat soba is possible but this site recommended starting with 50/50. My balance was about two thirds to one third and then alternating between buckwheat and wheat flour to get the dough to sufficient dryness. Start with a third as much water as flour and mix and then add water until it’s “as soft as an earlobe”. Knead for five minutes, wrap with gladwrap and put in the fridge for an hour.

It’s a beautiful thing to work with. The buckwheat has a strong smell which makes it feel more alive than dough and it feels softer and pliable. This may be an illusion caused by its stone like appearance.

As with pasta, make sure the dough is well coated with flour to prevent it sticking in the roller. You just need to roll it out to a “3″ and then pass it through the spaghetti cutter in foot long lengths.

Cook in plenty of boiling water for two minutes or less, it shouldn’t be soft, and refresh under cool water and chill. You can actually drink the cooking liquid as a tea and it’s quite refreshing.

Dressing:
This salad came into my head, the sources of which are unknown but I had a vague feeling from somewhere. What convinced me it wasn’t the whispers of malevolent demons or mischievous faeries was that lemons are good with seafood, chilli has made a fine partner with lemon in previous pasta sauces, and the oil would add a certain slipperiness. I had thought nuts and coriander but decided against as the latter would have made it too busy and that buckwheat is already “nutty” of sorts for the former.

Remove the flesh from 4 crabs and flake into small pieces. Finely chop half a largish red chilli (remove the seeds). Finely chop the rind of one lemon (you can use a zester or grate it). Add the juice of one lemon and an equal amount of EVOO. Mix together the soba, crab, and dressing and serve.

Refreshing but really I prefer more traditional combinations of Charcoal Cooked Crabs, Cold Soba, and assorted Tempura. I also felt the noodles had been cooked too long and lacked that bit of chewiness that makes really good soba, thicker noodles would have helped here. A good start though and if you used dried soba, this would be extremely quick and easy to make.

Many thanks Amy for hosting.

Roundup! More noodles: Cooking with Amy: A Food Blog: IMBB 22 Use Your Noodle Part 1, 2, 3 & 4

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patriotic coriander and watermelon salad with fennel risotto stuffed baby squid

Australia Day. Why they chose a day that says a big fuck you to the people who’d just happened to be here at the time and had been for quite a while before that is a bit beyond me.

As is flag waving. I mean I think my wife is just the best but I don’t insist she wear a name tag to remind me what a great wife she is. Anyway that’s all neither here nor there because it’s also the day all the swearing in of new citizens happens and since my Quebecois brother in law was to become a citizen. We thought we’d do the right thing just in case he’d thought he’d signed up for some other country.

A big and tasty lunch was had and I brought the above along. I started with squid and worked my way back. Stuffing would be risotto and then I thought that just squid is a bit squiddy and then I saw the watermelon in the fridge and remembered Neal Jackson does a very nice fried squid with a watermelon salad. It uses coriander instead of the more traditional mint. The value of being exposed to ideas is that you can nick them later at an opportune moment of inspiration. Here’s a quick run through.

Baby squid tubes:
15. Already cleaned, too easy. Otherwise you’ll just have to clean them

Risotto:
One finely chopped white onion and a similar amount of similarly finely chopped white of the fennel bulb and four finely chopped garlic cloves. Saute in olive oil, colour the aborio rice (a cup and a half) and then continue with the slow process of stirring and adding liquid until al dente (won’t be explaining that today). I used a mix of about 80% white wine to 20% chicken stock. Can’t say I was overly impressed with the resulting flavour, as it ended up a bit vinegary like sushi rice. The effect was much more harmonious once inside the squid. About two thirds of the way through I started adding a small handful of parsley and fennel leaves as well as half a cup of sliced fennel stalks. Finished by adding pepper and stirring in a nice big dob of butter to keep it moist whilst cooking in the squid.

Another thought is I wasn’t exactly sure when to add the parsley and fennel leaves. I didn’t want to put them in at the beginning and have them end up as much but I also wanted to them to blend in a bit, hence the two thirds result. Curious to know how it might have worked out otherwise.

Watermelon and Coriander Salad:
A nice exercise in size and flavour. If the watermelon is cut into cubes a little smaller than a coriander leaf, the flavours balance out nicely. For the same reason the spanish onion shouldn’t be bigger than one of the smaller buttons on your remote control (no I’m not writing this on the sofa no). Mix together.

Cooking:
Stuff the squid tubes with the risotto and close each one up with a toothpick to prevent rice jizzing everywhere. Place them in an oven tray with a glass of white wine (I used cask Moselle), cover with foil, and cook in an oven at 200C for 40 minutes.

I gave the squid a bit of a sear on a griddle before putting them on the salad. The rice was nice and compact so I could have in fact sliced it up rounds which would have been nice. The fennel taste wasn’t strong at all and matched nicely with the squid. The watermelon salad is great and should be compulsory at summer barbecues.

And there we go, a suitably traditional and diverse dish that didn’t send acrumble our cultural mainsteam of the decent us with the culinary introduction of the them. As for my brother in law Jean [below], he is now an official Aussie: don’t think I’m happy about it, he is no doubt rooting my sister, watches ice hockey, and objectively has a much better motorbike than me. Anyway here’s to 218 years of hey how did you get in here.

Australia's newest citizen

Also:
恭喜發財!

and thanks to whoever voted me into second place as the 2006 Best West Australian Blog . I didn’t mention it as well I’m a bit iffy about comps, as Buddha says “a competition brings with it losers and with losers, unhappiness”. Pleased again to be nudged out by Robert Corr and congratulations to third place on preferences Tama Leaver – for those that aren’t familiar with preferential voting, it means he’s more popular but I’m less unpopular. If you missed out, tough! ahahaha, I mean I meant to say robbed!

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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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There is a time

Fish Fingers


Ah yeah fish fingers, best thing in the whole frozen food section that I can think of. No? For a bit of magic, make yourself some tarragon and basil mayonnaise. A general guide to mayonnaise here.
[I'm looking forward to the time when I can just have this blog completely self-referential so I can sneak out the back for a vanilla slice and a soda pop.]

Winosandfoodies
I’ve met quite a few bloggers, all good folks but I’ve never met another food blogger in person. This has since changed. I got to meet Barbara from winosandfoodies on Monday. She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and bring me a bottle of wine and an egg whisk and hang out with me for a few hours. This is after I drew a complete blank on Sunday morning when she called and stringing out the phone call until I realised who she was. My generally guilty conscience assumed it was a call from work over something I’ve ignored. Had to scratch my head for a lunch venue but it was a lovely day so I suggested we have a picnic. We stopped in at the Boatshed Markets for some cheese, marinated sardine, honey and soy chicken, Holy Smoke trout paté, marscapone stuffed figs, and a baguette. Grabbed a bottle of Alkoomi Sauvignon Blanc, dodged a reversing 4WD, and set up camp under a tree by the river in Freshwater Bay. I’d say good food begets good company but I’d imagine she’s just as smart and charming with a can of spam and a warm glass of Bacardi Breezer.

Who wants second chances?

Moira has lost most of the piccies for DMBLGIT? – 11th Edition. If you’ve sent her one, please send it again. Perhaps we should make her draw them all from memory. What say you people? Yes! Shame on you, she’s a nice lass and did a top notch job on EoMEoTE#12

The circle of life
This is a time of transition. I feel that as summer approaches in the south, it leaves the north, like two trains passing in opposite directions on a circular line. I was also reminded of the interesting phenomenon of how water will spiral in different directions in the commode depending upon the hemisphere. This intriguing fact got me thinking. Before dispatching the contents with a flush, what if bloggers from around the world were to take a photo beforehand and then compare the differences between, for example meat eaters versus fish eaters, or what about where people mostly ate brown bread or white rice? Or what if it was the same shit all over the world wherever you went? And wouldn’t it make a great meme, I thought. Unfortunately, I’ve been beaten to it.

Coopers
Point
Yay! – Australia’s Coopers says rejects raised Lion Nathan bid

Counterpoint
God forbid that we should prevent the flogging off of Australia’s last large independent brewery to a company that specialises in bland tasting lagers and protect a bit of culture and competition and leave some shareholders with a bit less jingle in their pocket! – Treatment of Coopers shareholders leaves a sour taste

[Note: It's lambic that's sour by the way]

Food
No cookies this weekend, I’m off to Kalgoorlie for “research”.

tuna swordfish and a mango salsa

This is the entree for An Extremely Good Dinner Party. I left Andrea to decide on the seafood for the entree so I could do a daring last minute menu decision. The sheer drama. Actually I’ve decided that the less done to seafood the better and it was unlikely it was going to be geoduck. After much no I’m not telling you what to buy to and fro text message around four said “bought nice pieces of tuna and swordfish”. Can’t think of a particular reason I chose a mango salsa to make but mangoes are just in season and it would go better with both the swordfish and tuna. The combination of cooked and raw was a daring riposte to food hygiene and a combination only previously possible in microwave pies. Make your own:

Salsa:
1 mango chopped (it’ll mush anyway); juice of 1 lime and half its peel very finely chopped (no pith); half a red chilli finely chopped (no seeds); small handful of coriander leaves; half a red onion finely chopped; one spring onion white finely sliced; and a large splash of EVOO. Mix to blend but retain some ingredient integrity.

Slice the tuna steak and the swordfish steak into equal sized cubes. Mine were a bit over half an inch. Swordfish mixed in with some olive oil. Technically the proper word with tuna is seared but the pan wasn’t hot enough because I was showing off by taking the wok off the heat and giving it a flick. The tuna was left raw and as was.

Spead some salsa around the plate in a circle, reserving a little. Stack the tuna and the swordfish, pour the remaining salsa over and garnish with coriander.

Looks real purty with a nice mix of colours (the tuna and the swordfish are matched in the red onion) and I really did enjoy the contrast of the two fish.

oyster shucking

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

More skills and thrills. 50 oysters to clean and shuck. Hold the oyster in a folded tea towel and then fold the tea towel over your hand to avoid pointy repercussions. Using the oyster knife work down just to either side of the hinge point, it should just pop and then run the knife along the top to detatch. If you have to use force, you’re doing it wrong, soft power, smartly.

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lamb and risotto

This is post number 502. This would make number 500, me eating a frozen dinner. How auspicious, ah well. Doesn’t time fly.

Dinner for six on the Sunday was going to be a lasagne, being inspired by an emailed recipe from the Flute (been on the telly ya know). Not to be, I saw myself messing about with a pasta maker and settled for the thirty or so minutes of careful stirring of a risotto. It’s still seasonal for root vegetables and I’ve been impressed with celeriac of late, Brussel sprouts are also out and they were chosen for: I was shown how to remove and cook the leaves; they add a bit of colour; people don’t like them so I could set myself up for one of those magic “don’t usually like “X” but” moments and so huzzah!

Salmon Mousse:
Entree was a salmon mousse which I was happy with as it requires no gelatine, just whipping up some cream and then refrigeration.

1 salmon cutlet – the u-shaped one, fried or grilled until cooked. Let it cool and flake it apart, removing bones and skin. Add 4tbs of EVOO, juice of one lemon (actually have a bit of a taste on this and add as necessary, I may have overdone it a smidgen); a bit of rind scraping; a shake of chilli powder; and a dozen capers. Puree.

Take 300ml of chilled cream and before it sits out too long, whip it . Whip it good, until firm and then carefully fold in the salmon. At this stage I put it into 6 dariole molds but you don’t have to. I did it because I’ve just bought them. In reality they didn’t come out very cleanly so you could just make quenelle shapes with a couple of spoons. Or pop them in glasses maybe. Or serve them on a spoon. Or get yourself a fish mold. Anyway put it in the fridge for at least two hours. The flavours will mingle over time.

It was a bit lemony so I thought a tomato and basil sauce would be nice. Skin (hold the tomato over a flame) and deseed (scrape out) two tomatoes. Puree with a handful of basil and enough EVOO. To get it nice and runny. If you’re going to pour it in a piping bag, be sure to close the other end and ensure that end isn’t near an opened drawer.

Good good good. Creamy, fishy, tarty, and sweet.

Celeriac and Brussel Sprout Risotto with Lamb
Make some chicken stock – it’ll be better than anything you can buy. Go on make some. This weekend. It’ll take you 30 minutes of messing around, tops. Then you can freeze it. The kitchen will smell nice. Here’s a recipe, you might want to chuck a bit of white wine in there too. Free range chicken wings are a cheap way of adding more meatiness to the bones as well. You can use the celeriac stems instead of celery as an aromatic. They are a bit stronger so do lessen the amount accordingly.

Cooking: 1 cup of finely chopped leek, eschallot, and onion. Sautee in EVOO until soft, add 500gm of aborio rice and stir until it’s starts to go a little golden. Pour in a glass of white wine, and stir until absorbed, add another glass of white wine and stir until absored, add a glass of red wine and stir until absorbed, and then move on to the stock a cup at a time until the rice is cooked. It should still have a little bit of bite. This slow process coats the rice and makes it creamy.

Additions: Chop the ends off a dozen brussel sprouts and remove the leave. The outermost leaves are the bitterest so you can get rid of them, and you can toss the white bits too. Soften a little in a frypan with some oil. Reserve some of the leaves for garnish.

Peel one celeriac and chop into small cubes. Parboil then roast until soft. Mash a little. You want some mashy bits and some pieces.

Add these in about 5-10 minutes before the risotto is ready.

Lamb:
The lamb chops were in a rack and it’s lovely way of doing them. There’s a really nice feeling as you slice through it when it’s done. Shame mine weren’t as pink as I like them but, well, guests. Simply done. Marinated in some chopped rosemary, red wine, EVOO, and garlic and roasted on a couple of rounds of leek. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Stir a large dab of butter through the risotto, top with a chop, garnish with some brussel sprout leaves and serve.

Very nice. I had wanted to add walnuts but celeriac already had that nutty taste so not necessary.

That’s it. Just make sure if your jeans are a bit low, to bend at the knees when reaching down for the warming tray in the oven.

fini

And: hello and welcome to the good people of Sadly, No!

Also – how does it feel? A waffly defence of this dish in the moral realm to prove why I don’t write about these issues much – Veganism and civilisation


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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deporte del sangre

A reader shares a moment of triumph. Details at ten.

Elsewhere: Those looking for a handy dandy node of culinary things Auskiwian should get over to Omnivoribus Australis – Edition II

From London: That old black magic has me in its spell That old black magic that Jeanne weaves so well
End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza#9 round-up is up. It’s like giant easter egg with eggs inside it and inside those eggs, more eggs.

kingfisher sashimi and seaweed salad

A bit of photographic redemption here. Had Kate and Jon over for dinner last night and made a nabe. You can read about them in a bit more detail in this post on Red Emperor Nabe. This one was a slight variation using chicken stock and gyouza as the main addition. Entree was kingfish sashimi with a seaweed salad – bought at the Innaloo fish markets. Main was the nabe with – gyouza, chicken dango, choy sum, tofu, bamboo shoots, and daikon. Dessert was the chai panna cotta. Mucho beer and wine to ease the anxiety of having guests from Sydney but they’re both from the country too so we sat around and said yip, yeah, and bewdy.

nabe greens

gyouza and chicken dango

The idea for this nabe came from the small and very beautifully presented いまどきのなべ (right now nabe?) by 松田(Matsuda)美智子(beautiful something girl’s name) here.

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fish and chips

For those away from Fish and Chip shops, I hope this picture brings you some vicarious joy. Just imagine me having a couple of cheeky hot chips or a squid ring before breaking off the end of the fish and stuffing it my mouth. Then deciding whether to have the fish and the batter together of deal with them separately. What you see here is cobbler and some squid rings with salt and vinegar and some of the shop’s tasty lime tartare sauce. Missing is the deep fried pineapple ring with cinnamon on it. It’s from my fave local fish and chip shop, Cirripeds. They wear the gourmet tag nicely by doing their food well without sellout lillygilding or tumbling into overpriced wankery. They became more of my fave by rightly chiding my outfit for being “busy” – yellow checked lumberjack coat grabbed on the way out over green and orange checked shirt. And by offering to lend me an umbrella – for the rain, not to shield passerbys from the glare of plaid. Oh and cirrepeds is fancy talk for barnacles.

Cirripeds Gourmet Fish & Chips: 38A Grantham Street, Wembley (08) 9387 1702

lychini pork bean curd wraps crayfish and spring onion
szechwan pepper chicken garlic beef and tofu unsuccessful dessert

I like Chinese. The problem is that it’s an open ended dinner that doesn’t necessarily have to stop at three dishes, particularly as I usually decide that all major meat groups must be addressed, so it became five. They were:
Pork and Mushroom Steamed Bean Curd Rolls; Crayfish with Spring Onion; Szechwan Red Pepper Roast Chicken with Chinese Sausage Stuffing and Chinese Greens; Slow Cooked Beef and Tofu with Fried Rice; Unsuccessful Annin Dofu.

Afraid I won’t be listing all the recipes (I do have a life you know, no really, well lazy’s a bit harsh, I did make a garden bed the other week, no I know it’s not finished) but would like to point you in the way of Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. It’s comprehensive, well detailed, and most of the recipes follow similar principles so it’s easy to adapt and improvise to use what you have. This allows you to have a rough idea of what you want to cook, go shopping with a bit whimsy, and nlow you’ll be able to make something. A few points.

Tapioca chips are great for pre-dinner snacks as an alternative to prawn crackers. All natural Maxi from Indonesia.

The pork and bean curd rolls were my own creation after I noticed some sheets of bean curd at the Asian grocery store and thought I could do something. It was pork cut into “matchsticks” and marinated in rice wine-splash, peanut oil-splash, sesame oil-teaspoon, soy sauce-splash, and potato flour-teaspoon. Next was a couple of sliced chinese sausages. They come in plastic packs and are sweet and tasty. Very roughly chopped Straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and spring onions. All ingredients cooked together in a wok with some cooked glutinous rice mixed in for volume. Now lightly steam or moistened the bean curd sheets and cut into 15cm x 15cm, place a heaped tablespoon of the mix in the middle and roll like a very fat spring roll. Steam in a steamer for 10 minutes and serve. Very tasty but the mix of chewy, crunchy and soft textures is marvellous.

Hmm think I’ll finish this later. Tata! back later
….
Ah yes. The Szechuan chicken recipe is here. However this time I kept it whole and gave it a stuffing of chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, glutinous rice, garlic, and spring onions. Cooking it flat seems to get a better response but the stuffing was good. Forgot to put oyster sauce on the bed of steamed chinese greens which made them a little dry.

Glutinous rice is great but needs to be soaked for the good part of a day so keep that in mind. Otherwise leave to soak in hot water. I cooked one lot in the steamer to go with the beef and tofu, just wrap it in a towel. After drying a batch out on a tray and stir-fried it with garlic and spring onions in the fat from the chicken’s roasting tray. Yum. Beef cooked slowly with garlic for two hours, well you can imagine how good that was. And the fried tofu held up well.

Crayfish (from Rottnest from Doctor A) matched well with the spring onions, ginger, and rice wine and I like the idea of deep frying the crayfish pieces for 10 seconds before stir frying them.

Finally the Unsuccesful Annin Tofu started as a simple condensed milk and almond essence “tofu” became coconut milk thanks to the free banana giving shop lady’s persuasive powers. Then layers of kiwi fruit and passionfruit but I read that agar agar gives a tougher jelly so I backed off a little and ended up more on the soup end. Ah well.*

As for the dinner, well it was fun. Chris and Crafty came along. As did the doctor and Anna. A thank you to them all for the drinks, gifts and company. A diverse night of chat, neighbourhood yoof threatening (bone tweezers!), and an altercation with a coffee plunger.

dinner party seating

* feck!
Note: Those paying attention will have noticed that many of the ingredients are remarkably similar. Hey? Hey? See what I’m getting at here?

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Cajun Snapper

cajun snapper

Sorry. I’ve been neglecting my midweek easy meals. This one was cake. A pan sized snapper scaled and gutted at the fish shop. Make diagonal slashes across the fish at half inch intervals. Rub each side with at least a tablespoon of cajun spices, making sure to rub some into the slashes. Leave for an hour, place some lime slices in the cavity. Get the pan as hot as you can and cook quickly on both sides. Had with sweet potato roasted in foil with EVOO, sea salt, and tabasco.

Very enjoyable just picking at it. Make a fish stock when you’re done.

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daikonsalad

Precision is a bad thing. Unless specifically stated, I wouldn’t trust any of the measurements I give. Not that I said there was garlic when there wasn’t, but two teaspoons could have a margin of error of +/-1tsp. Can’t remember the last time I leveled a spoon. And it’s not that I’m cavalier about the whole thing either, but I don’t want to convey the impression of great science. If I say 1¼ cups of something, then it says that 1 cup was too little and 1½ is too much and because of the accuracy you’d think it was. “One and bit” and the authority dissolves and you can make your own mind up.
This frees us from the dictatorship of the recipe.
So, next time you’re at a friend’s house, take a marker pen and block out a few measurements in their favourite cook book. They’ll be angry at first, people fear autonomy and are reluctant to trust in themselves, but they’ll thank you later.

A few people turned to nearly a dozen on a Friday night I’m back catch-up. That was OK because I had an an easy prep in advance grazing plan. Charcoal burner in the middle of the table, pile of meat, guests cook it themselves, no problem.

Buy some Korean pork and beef marinade and then marinate some pork ribs and finely sliced matchbox sized pieces of rump. This left the chicken and an extra pile of beef that I’d bought as numbers grew.

The beef marinade was a combination of Korean chilli bean paste, vegetable oil, soy, and sake. The chicken was the same but with a splash of sesame oil and two crushed cloves of garlic. I bought one meat dipping sauce and made another of a simple ponzu by mashing in a mortar a couple of limes in 2 parts soy sauce and 1 part sake.

For vegetables, I thinly sliced some pumpkin and made a salad out of daikon. The daikon was thinly sliced on a mandoline into thin rounds with a dressing of rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and a small amount of the chilli bean paste and sesame oil.

Home straight. Cook up some koshi hikari short grain rice in the rice cooker. Put some kim chee and nori on the table and then fire up the charcoal. Leaving just drinking, chatting, and the steady cooking of small bits of meat.

koreanbbqtable

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orangegrass

Orange. This month’s theme by Foodgoat of “Orange you hungry?” for Is My Blog Burning? #14 nabbed my attention because orange is my favourite colour. I can’t say if the colour’s link with schizophrenia go further than anecdotal but it’s hard not to feel some kind of disconnect with reality as we see the gains of the last century being frittered away and the kitchen.. what’s that Mr Smeg? I should go on? Very well.

orangejsbxorange

Ikura (salmon roe) are spherical wonders. The pleasure of the translucent orange and the glossy sheen is matched only by the slight resistance to the bite of the membrane before it releases the amniotic fluids. They are like Paul Smith cuff-links in bubble wrap. Tobiko (flying fish roe) is nearly as pretty but has a grittier texture. I would have been happy just to pop them on a spoon, take a piccie and be done with it but since I’ve cooked about three things in as many weeks, I’d best do the thing with heat.

Blinis are fine slavic treats to have with roe and I’ve been feeling very slavic of late, no idea why. They are yeasty pikelets for people with too much time on their hands. I would adapt them by using buckwheat as a Japanese influence (it’s what’s in soba noodles) but soon find a recipe with buckwheat already in it. Nori then.

Blini Mix

orangeblini

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast; 1 cup milk (warmed); 1 cup all purpose flour; 1 cup buckwheat flour; 3 free-range eggs; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/2 cup milk.

Let the yeast dissolve in with the luke-warm milk and them mix in it with the flour. Cover with a tea-towel and leave in a warm place for two hours. Punch it down and then mix in the egg yolks and the rest of the milk. It should be smooth, but still light. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat to stiff peaks and fold into the mix.

The nori was three toasted sheets rolled together and cut into narrow strips with kitchen scissors and then mixed in. From here you need a blini pan but as I don’t have one, I used a biscuit cutter as a mould. Browned a little on both sides, you could see the thin strips of nori just below the surface.

orangeside

To stop the roe rolling off, I bought some King Island Crème Fraîche. The intention was to blend it with uni (sea urchin). No luck getting any so I thought I’d try just a sprinkle of wasabi powder and mix it in. Unwilling to gamble completely on this taste combination, I made a trio of wasabi, plain, and mixed wiith the tobiko. Finally I thinly sliced up some sashimi salmon for extra orange credentials and because it’s nice to eat and added some garnish of orange rind.

The eating was simplicity and the verdict is pleasant and interesting. Neither the nori or the wasabi overwhelmed but perhaps needing a splash of something citric or a nice bottle of a dry sparkling white. Yes.

orangefullsetting


That was quick:Foodgoat … something tasty every day: Is My Blog Burning #14: Hot Orange on Orange Action!!

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guildertonhills

Wonder where Rob and Carita are; discuss industrial relations for two hours; enjoy cold Emu Bitter; try to remember lyrics of Buenas Tardes Amigos; make smoked cod chowder; forget to bring smoked cod; greatly enjoy Garbin Estate 2004 Chenin Blanc; attend local Art and Craft exhibition; buy ceramic plate and bowl and zucchini pickles and fig jam; Save Moore River; visit West Coast Honey; regrettably buy Carlton Draft at improbably decorated yet very likeable Gingin pub; engage in Gingin Catholic Church 12 Stations of the Cross drive-through; have tasty steak pie at Gingin cafe; watch 3.5 hours of the League of Gentlemen; marinate lamb roast in tapenade, EVOO, and rosemary; lard with garlic, tapenade, rosemary; cook to satisfaction with acoustic accompaniment, gravy, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and potatoes; wonder why a 750ml bottle of wine is too much and a 1.5 litre bottle never enough; open up Rob’s bottle of 10yo Bushmills; go for a canoe paddle; find friend with plastic zodiac craft instead; catch nothing; try to launch boat on beach through surf; lose bung; struggle to get on; release cray pots; try fishing again; release undersized fish; enjoy home grown pesto with garlic toast for dinner; wake up early; execute flawless beach launch; find cray post empty; make panckes; drive home.

Chowder:
Look, make one. It’s cheap and easy and all you have to do is know how to make a fish stock and you should know that. Yes you should. And chicken. And veal/beef.

Anyway, finely chop up an onion (smaller as the stock only takes 30 minutes) and toss in the outer skin as well for colour says the nice man at the Innaloo fish shop. Then add garlic, celery, and a couple of spring onions and sautee in butter.

Add the fish heads/ bones, enough water to cover, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and salvage any tasty looking bits of fish.

Now the chowder.You can fry some more garlic and onion if you like. Add the fish stock and anything extra like parsley or a whole chilli. Add some chopped boiled potatoes, and let simmer (the potatoes will  help thicken the soup).

Make a quick roux by cooking flour in a similar amount of butter, add a little of the soup to the roux, stir, and then add the mix to the soup. Add any fish bits you’ve got or the mussels you’ve just carefully cooked. Heat. Stir in some cream. Season and serve over a piece of rye bread. Cheap and yum. No excuse for not making this, none. Pop quiz next semester.

chowdermooreriver lambroastmoooreriver mooreriverlambafter

Oi! Less foodly obsessed nice piccies over here.

morgenhofcheninblanc2001

I know it may seem , having got past the initial step of being able to identify wine as wine, that I stumbled at the next stage of distinguishing between red and white. I could ask for pity as I suffer from the debilitating genetic illness of partial red-green colour blindness and subsequent humiliation at the hands of Ishihara test administrators. I’m also prone to the “hardware store effect” as well double-entedric distraction. As a result, I humbly submit to Wine Blogging Wednesday #6 heads down south – South African Reds, a chenin blanc.

The occasion was Greg Manthatcatchesgreatfish was bringing over some dhufish fillets from said great fish for cooking. Joining us was Anonymous of Floreat, glorying in topping the sales figures for Supermart and handily bringing an Australian chenin from a winery bought by a South African. How apropos.

halinabrookchenin

First off was the Halina Brook Estate 2003 Chenin. Unusually north for a West Australian wine with a vineyard near Bindoon. I can only tell you what I wrote on my kitchen whiteboard and that was “densely packed citric bite in an oily enteric coating“. Thinking back it was better than that sounds, a sharp hit that grabbed the tongue with a heavyweight refreshing linger.

Unusually further west was, from Stellenbosch South Africa, the Morgenhof Estate 2001 Chenin Blanc (or “Steen” as they say on the veldt). Immediately noticeable, even to me, was the richer gold colour of the wine. A shade over $20 a bottle, it’s midplaced between equivalent budget bests and lower premiums in price which sets up certain expectations. It has a simple trick and I fell for it. Like any song with a cow-bell, any wine that can tranport its flavour across my tongue in a sherbety fashion will have my love. And it does. Nothing else interfered with it, not the stone fruitiness or the warm nose. If you like this effect I don’t need to tell you any more, in fact I can’t. Thank you South Africa.

dhufishfillet

As for the meal. The dhufish fillets were cooked on a stovetop griddle just in butter. They are not to be messed around with. I found “done” occurred just as the fillet looked like it was going to flake. For a simple match I had Pommes Veronique without the garlic and good dab of goose fat; oven roasted asparagus; and a bernaise without the sorrel tarragon sauce on the side. It’s a magnificent piece of fish, sweet and unfishy without being bland. A West Australian must have.

Egg whites to be rid of led to the soufflé omlette. The combination of 4 egg yolks with 115gm of caster sugar, whisked until pale and creamy with 30ml of Cointreau added once done. Egg whites whisked until stiffly peaked with a little extra caster sugar added slowly for extra hold and gloss. A third mixed in with the yolks and then the rest folded in. Baked in a long baking dish in the oven at 150C for 10 minutes, some strawberries dropped in and then warmed brandy and Cointreau poured over. Light the match and ….. oh well, must have gone straight to the bottom. The dessert that wasn’t there, sugar and booze mysteriously appears in the mouth.

Rest of the meal spent with readings of The Philosopher in the Kitchen. Hilarious. Best thing since the Scarlet Pimpernel.

dishes

Typically well written red round-up from Jeanne at A barrel of South African reds – WBW#6 round-up, Part I and Part II

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gregandthegiantfish Because of his optimism, fishing with Greg has always been a pleasure. A few were always a feed, small fish always good eating, and an empty catch bucket always due to some resolvable variable. This makes this photo he took of his catch last week all the sweeter.

His dhufish is simply awesome. 20kg of Indian Ocean deliciousness caught in a runabout 11km of the South-west coast. It would be a pub talk contrariness to argue that this isn’t the best tasting fish out there.

There are still fillets. A bottle of white and a dab of butter should do it.

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coldsoba

Let’s see if the reviews are in. Oh good a generous one, but then again, I do know where she lives.

As slow and easy a Japanesey dinner party as there could be. The starting snack was edamame, boiled and salted soy bean bean pods, which were bought ready to defrost and go. An excellent summer snack if you remember not to eat the pod.

bluemanna

Next was a few blue manna/ blue swimmer crabs detopped, delimbed and cut in half and then cooked at the table over a charcoal burner. Cooking this way with the shell makes for sweeter taste and the the flesh is cooked in its own abundant juices.

Finally a classic summer matching of tempura and zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles). The two use the same dipping sauce so this saves time.

1 cup of dashi*, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of mirin, and 2 tablespoons of sake. Brought to the boil and allowed to chill. I use instant dashi as it’s very much in the background but do add to the quality by placing a piece of konbu in the water. You place a mobile phone sized piece in the water, bring it to a near boil, and remove and discard the konbu. Konbu imparts the enigmatic 6th metaflavour umami, artificially associated with MSG powder.

The zaru soba was cooked, ran under cold water and then placed in a bowl with ice. Some of the aforementioned dipping sauce is placed in a bowl, with crushed nori, wasabi, and chopped spring onions. The noodles are dipped in and eaten – it’s not a soup.If the sound of cold noodles doesn’t do it for you, this may change your mind.

Also dipped in the sauce was the tempura. I used a Japanese premix tempura batter for the combination of wheat and rice flour and used very cold soda water instead of water and added a couple of drops of tabasco. The key to making tempura instead of fritters is to ensure that the mix is very cold, I add some ice. And keep the mixture lumpy. These make for an impact with the hot oil and a much more textured and lighter batter. It’s also good to make small batches so every piece is eaten hot. Getting the oil temperature right is difficult but I find it easiest just to do a test piece, too hot and it will burn quickly, too cold and it absorbs too much oil. Under a minute seems about right.

The tempura ingredients were thinly sliced sweet potato, sliced baby eggplant, swiss brown mushrooms, scored baby squid hoods, and spring onions with scallops. The last were my favourite and you can by putting some chopped spring onions and scallop meat in a chinese soup spoon, covering it with batter, and then easing the mix into the oil. It’s a perfect amount of time to cook scallops.

Thanks to Natalie for coming over, being an anvil for my culinary hammer, keeping a cracking conversational pace, and making all the right compliments. I look forward to cashing in my Melbourne dinner credit.

tempura

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grandvewecheese

Into the undersprung oversteering Mitsubishi Lancer rental and upwards out of Dover. Winding inland past orchards along the Huon river which opens out into a long channel that feeds into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, defined by cattle filled Bruny Island. Turn down at the apex made by Huonville with Mt Misery flanking the left. Stop in at Panorama Vineyard. Disappointed with the whites and the pinot but found the merlot suitably smooth and full bodied. Along the Huon River, mandatory stop at Eggs and Bacon Bay and then around Port Cygnet, past Mt. Grosse and then stopping for cheese. Firstly, Grandvewe is a terrible pun, beneath even me but their cheeses are excellent. All good, the manchego interpretation, the sheeps cheese pecorino, pungent brie, and creamy roquefort. Dried mutton sausages were an inspiration.

pattycakebandebay ketteringsteaksando

Lunch called. Stopped at the flash and new Peppermint Bay resort but crowded so settled for the Kettering Oyster Bay Inn. View. Steak sandwich not up to Quairading Roadhouse standards but flathead is a much underrated fish. Round and back picking up a couple of $3 bags of cheeries and forgoing the 50c bags of donkey poo.

bagofcherries

Home to Dover to cook up some scallops and prawns. Scallops* cooked in Cascade Export Stout – not too bad at all.

doversunset

*Update: For scallops in stout, marinate scallops in white wine for 15 minutes, fry up garlic and a small amount of chilli in EVOO, do two sauteed batches of scallops (just a handful or the temperature will drop too much) and then run out of white wine. Notice glass of stout in hand, add scallops to EVOO sizzle a little and then add a splash of stout and allow to reduce as scallops are just cooked.

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salmonprep

A quick one I’m tired. Next door’s the oyster farm but some algae in the bay has shut things down so nae oysters. Ah well. Back up to Geeveston for a lesson in fly fishing. Hard back, pause, release, forward, repeat, or something. Didn’t catch anything and didn’t deserve too. Oh no that’s a lie, caught my left bum cheek – twice!

chowder salmon

Dinner. Chowder. Cray legs and shells, salmon, salt dried, salmon, prawns and scallops. Thickened with potatoes, cream and roux. A whole salmon. Wanted to poach it but nothing to do it in so foil wrapped. Local guests, one had been a chef for twenty or so years, Ahm erm ah yes I’m a ah foodie I am. All aok though, Could have done the salmon a little less longer but handicap for dreaded non fan forced electric oven. Over and out.

oysterroad

poachedtrout

From two trout comes this Monday night fanciness. I relied heavily on James Peterson’s Essentials of Cooking. An excellent buy if you’re interested in learning the basics to mess around in the kitchen.

Poached Trout

The trout were cleaned and some chopped parsley and fennel put in the cavity. Tied up with a softened shallot (you can wrap them in cheesecloth). The poaching liquid was half semillon, half water with a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, a bay leaf, and a shallot. Brought to a very gentle simmer and then the trout added and poached for 7 minutes. Removed the head and tail and peeled off the skin. It would have also been a good time to remove the bones.

Beurre Blanc

2 chopped spring onions with white wine and white vinegar and reduced to a near glaze. Add some cream – simmer and then whisk in cubes of cold butter. Don’t let it boil and whisk constantly until it’s smooth and creamy. Season. I added some fennel but saffron is a possibility.

The snake beans were steamed and the artichokes were boiled and went through the whole elaborate artichoke preparation routine which I can’t be bothered to explain. Am I missing something but are artichokes overrated?

A success. Poaching is easy and the beurre blanc can be done and adapted for future variations.

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Fish Monday. Tasmanian Salmon.

It’s hot and I’m not a salad person.

Daikon(giant radish -Dai means “large” and kon is “root”, not to be confused with la petit mort), has a good bite to it and is sharp and refreshing finely sliced or grated. I got one of these as well as smoothy fruit and then walked over to the fish markets and bought two pieces of Tasmanian Salmon. Salmon says creamy or buttery or asparagus so daikon was an unusual pairing, but the thought of the cold daikon with hot salmon was appealing.

Orange Page gave a rough thumbs up to the pairing and it was as follows:

Oroshi Daikon

1 cup of finely grated daikon; 1 tsp soy; 1/2 tsp of icihimi / togarashi (sub with cayenne)

Salmon

2 salmon fillets; juice of one lime; 2 tbs semillon (standing in for sake); 1 tbs soy; 1 tbs rice vinegar;

Marinate for half an hour, dry with a paper towel. Heat vegetable oil on a hot plate and cook and the flip, pouring a tablespoon of the marinade over. Serve with the daikon and half a lime.

Extra good.

!My Adventures in the Breadbox: Alaskan Wild Salmon

Fast ‘n Bulbous

Impossible to resist stuff this good – canaries cuties creeps cindies & cut rate cats – its jelly on the cuff from FX Holden and fat freddies first friday

Cats – don’t like ‘em. Squid, now there’s a pet

Scanned colour reversal taken in Nagasaki and while I’m at it, go say hi to Craftapalooza – mango soap! made! a sweary child’s dream! Fackity Fack. Bum. Poo. Not yet?

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Bouillabaisse

‘allo can you go

Much discussion about authenticity on this one but authenticity is a much more contrary beast than some would have you believe. There is petty authenticity and great authenticity. Wear the right mirkin buckle at a Mediaeval Fayre and it’s bouquets. Run a sword through Sir Gallahad, brickbats.

I’m not channelling poor Marseilles fisherfolk here so it’s what looks good at the fish shop in the three categories of shellfish, firm fleshed, and soft fleshed. Had in my company, authentic French woman, Veronique, who had the requisite three categories of a french name; the ability to pronounce rouille; and willingness to put up with me going haw haw haw haaaaw. We chose

Blue Manna crabs and Crayfish legs

Fillets of King Snapper and Mangrove Jack

Whole Whiting and Garfish

Dinner would be good. At Tate Estate on newly upholstered chairs and Kiwi Robert was going to the International Beer Shop to get a selection of fine beers.

C’est une tables

6 seeded and chopped tomatoes; two chopped onions; half the whites of a leek; 8 small cloves of *pounded* garlic; a sprig of fennel; a bay leaf; three sprigs of *bruised* parsley; three sprigs of thyme; and a piece of orange peel.

On top of this goes the

Crustaceans

Then with the firm fleshed fish on top of this and a cup of olive oil; salt; pepper; and crumbled saffron. All covered with the quick and easy fish stock I’d made with the whiting and garfish bones. Extra water to cover.

Strategy

We had about four cookbooks open but settled with the Larousse Gastronomique version. I’ve got 643 recipes requiring the aromatics to be sauteed first so this wouldn’t be 644. Just cover, turn the heat on and get it boiling. The boiling is important as it blends the oil in properly. After 9 minutes put in the soft fleshed fish and cook for another 7 minutes. It should take no longer than 15 minutes in total.

Served in bowls with simple bread and rouille.

The meal

Great mussel starter. The bouillabaisse’ stock was superb, especially with the hint of saffron. The crayfish legs were no great shakes but the local crabs topped it. Heavy duty beers were in action all evening. A Spanish beer, Alhambra Reserves 1925 that was more Belgian than Belgians – 6%. Hoegaarden’s as breathers, and the Leffe Brune and the Leffe Radieuse. A great Spanish Basa 2003 Blanco – no citric stilettoes here, smooth with a hint of olives. Hey, how tight are the Dead Kennedys? Didn’t make it to the other one – off my game.

Next Month: Duck a L’orange! Rescued from the 70′s.

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Whiiiiiiiitebait

Whitebait; Jailbait; Jail Break and there ends a little associative journey that ends not in some elaborate international conspiracy but at a certifiable rock classic. What does AC/DC have to do with whitebait? Nothing except they’re both suffered from not being taken seriously and ………………. come from around Fremantle.

Whitebait was a serious “food good” moment on a diving trip as a teenager near the Abrolhos Islands. One of us reached out of the back of the boat and scooped up a catch bag full of them and dumped them straight on the BBQ plate. I don’t think we did more than scoop them up and eat them.

Not quite as simple but little more difficult is deep fried whitebait. Dusted in a plastic bag with equal parts flour and cornflour with a dose of pepper and chilli powder. Deep fried in a wok in canola oil.

Served with a lemon and a cooked salsa with the following:

a finely sliced onion; 2 chopped garlic cloves; 1 deseeded finely sliced chilli -sauteed a little then simmered with 4 chopped tomatoes with the lid on for 10 minutes.

A handful of parsley, half a cup of fresh breadcrumbs, and some pepper added at the end.

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Prawn dumplings for IMBB7

Dumplings have been mentioned in the context of love, and I can’t argue with that. Dump, for being given permission to be friends; and ling for that rat Nazi bastard Quisling . The Japanese understand this and have named them gyouza. The gutteral “Gyou” for building power from the diaphragm and “za” to punch through the ribcage to extract the still warm heart.

This is no such sadness but a reconstruction of ebi gyouza which I bumped into in a small Ramen shop in Bandoubashi in Yokohama near 10 years ago and never saw again. I travelled Japan, thinking I’d seen them but all had the prawn as a mashed up non-entity rather than as a whole tail. We meet again and discuss how our lives have changed since we last met as the clock ticks towards our inevitable parting.

I referred to jibun de tsukuru puro no ra-men (Make Professional Ramen by Yourself) for the base recipe. The book’s a great one and I often flick through it, dreaming of the day I finally make puro no tonkotsu ra-men.

Ingredients:

  • 30 small raw prawns: peeled with the “sand tube” (ha!) removed, but the tail left. Slashed the meat across the tail to stop it curling when cooked.
  • 300gm minced pork:
  • quarter chinese cabbage: blanched for 30 seconds then chopped
  • bunch of chives: should be nira – garlic chives but I balanced with more garlic
  • 4 garlic cloves: minced
  • wonton wrappers; or the thicker gyouza wrappers if you can find them
  • plus – 1tbs of potato starch; tsp soy sauce; tsp of sesame oil; one eggs; tsp oil; salt and pepper.

Assembly:

Everything except for the prawns and the wrappers goes into a bowl and mixed together. You may need to adjust the amount of cornstarch and eggs to get the pastiness right. You may also like to vary the flavourings. A quick whiff of the mixture will tell you if you’re on the right track.

Now just place a prawn in the wonton in your hand with the tail slightly protruding. Then add about a teaspoon of the mix and seal the wonton by making small folds. Repeat until you run out of prawns. You may also like to keep a towel over the wontons and the gyouza to keep them from drying out.

And off my school of gyouza went to a friend’s house for dinner.

Cooking:

This is the clever bit. A combination of frying and steaming. Ramen shops have specialised cookers but all is needed is a frypan and a lid.

First you need to fry the gyouza in a little oil for about 30 seconds to get the bases just golden.

Then add a ladleful of boiling water to the pan and then cover. The right balance is for all the water to vanish in 5 minutes which will leave the gyouza perfectly cooked (remember it’s got pork in it).

Serving

I’m a bit fond of the dish I bought in Japan you see on the top which has the dipping bowl built in. The dipping sauce is half soy sauce, half rice wine vinegar and a splash of chili oil.

Time consuming rather than difficult, the recipe was a success with the prawn providing that extra element of texture to the softness of the skin and filling and the crunch of the base. No ramen but they make for tremendous lager accompaniments. The night continued with steak and, for lovers of understated reds, the 2001 Wave Crest Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia. We’ve had Fish meets Dish, Lamb meets Dam, and now East meest Beast.

Thanks again to the IMBB host.

Sidenote: small Japanese children who don’t burst into tears can be amused by folding your ear forwards and saying “gyouza“.

Update: A vast global melancholy of dumplings now up at life in flow – many thanks to all involved.

Apropos: Language Log – gotta love it.

Foodovers: leftover fillling mixed with some kim chee, fried as a patty and eaten wrapped in lettuce with some chili sauce. Not bad at all.

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Octopodes

Beasts. Of all the creatures there are few less like us than but even fewer that are our betters. More than just extra limbed or different skinned they are our lean-running adaptable betters – heads with limbs, bisexual, and cannibalistic. Our competitors for food, with exquisite taste in seafood, they plunder crayfish pots. Masters of unspeakable acts, they are, according to Hokusai, after our women [ not worksafe ].

Only one choice for our species, pickle the brute. You don’t have to thank me.

Unsure of how to go about this I went to here and here .

You may want to save yourself the grief and buy pre-boiled octopus. Mine was fresh and headless and weighed a kilo. Put it into a large pot of simmering water and left it there for a little over an hour, when the tentacle could be pierced effortlessly with a skewer. I then went about the nasty work sloughing off the skin and chopping the tentacles into small pieces.

Marinade half a cup of olive oil; half a cup of white wine vinegar; 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar; 4 cloves of garlic; about 20cm of fresh thyme; salt and pepper

Put the octopus into a jar, putting the thyme somewhere half way, and then pouring in the marinade, giving it a stir, and leaving it in the fridge. Three days later, it could still settle a bit more, but nicely tender, might have it tomorrow.

Invaluable was Pharyngula with Octopus Sex and Octopuses and, amusingly, The Cephalopod Page – FAQ

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I found two fist sized pieces of mackeral at the fish markets and it made me think of Japanese stews. I had a recipe in mind but couldn’t find the one of was thinking of/imagined so I used this recipe from Yoko Arimoto’s book of combined Japanese and Western food “New Basic Menu“. Recipes in Japanese are always a combination of reading, guessing, pictures and dictionaries for me so the dish is a little on the interpretive side.

Ingredients

800gm of Mackeral (saba) tail; 4tbs miso; 2tbs sugar; 3tbs mirin; 2tbs sake; 4tbs water; 2 knobs of ginger

Place everything except the ginger and the fish in a saucepan and heat up on a moderate heat until it just comes to a boil. Thinly slice one of the knobs of ginger and add it, then add the fish and cover it all very loosely with foil and simmer until the mackeral is cooked, turning occasionally. Served on a plate with the sauce and finely julienned ginger for garnish.

The sauce was a little on the sweet side and the pieces of mackerel were too large for too little liquid to cook properly and it all made me wish for a wider range of Japanese dishes to go with it, even some pickles. It was enjoyable though with both of us picking from the same plate with chopsticks.

Rounding off the evening with the film made from Kurosawa’s unmade screenplay Umi wa Mitteita-The Sea is Watching. Set in the Edo-era, it’s very charming, the film could be about Japanese tax law for all I care, the design (period) and colours (think low speed colour reversal film) are beautiful.

footnote: ni means to boil or simmer and is usually a verb but here it is just in its root form as a reading of the kanji.

Frittata are the inflexible predecessors of omlettes and the easiest of all egg things to make – including boiled. I had 5 eggs so instead of two skinny omlettes, I made this from a look in the fridge. What I had were some smoked salmon pieces*. I also looked at a tub of sundried tomatoes but decided it’d overdo things and applied the less is more rule.

Being

5 Margaret River Free Range Eggs, handful of chopped smoked salmon, 2 grated potatoes, chopped parsley, 4 chopped spring onions, pepper, olive oil

Doing

Separated the egg whites, gave them a good whisking to aerate. Reunited the yolks, mixed and added the parsley and seasoned with a little pepper. In an ovenable cast iron frypan, I gently fried the spring onions until soft. Then, a mild heating and stir of the potatoes and salmon. In went the eggs, making sure they covered it all. Cooked gently until browned underneath then finished in the oven under the griller.

Nothingness

It was very very nice. And I use nice advisedly, it made me feel homely, earthy – I saw bits of moss between logs. Good. Easy. If I were back in my three recipes are all you need days, this would have been one of them.

*Attention shoppers: Innaloo fish markets do a good price on smoked salmon “bits”.

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IMBB5 readers – hello and welcome. Regular readers unaware of the Is My Blog Burning event, here’s some background.

The unlucky guest, a Red Emperor,is one of the finest white fleshed fish available in the seas of Western Australia. A whole fish needs to be given its dues. More so for having been yanked out of a happier place and further still for being named like the missing link between Puyi and Mao. The result was simple but elaborate, or maybe vise versa. As much as I like my fish simple, it deserved a little more in it’s starring role than a dab of butter.

A nabe (nahbeh) is a kind of Japanese steam boat, or a fish stock fondue. Really it’s just seafood, tofu and vegetables cooked around a table in broth – popular for cold weather home parties. The ceviche is not really a ceviche at all but sashimi with dressing, catering for birthday guests who might have found raw fish a bit much. It was added to get the full value of the fish’s flavour and to do 3 things with the fish rather than just one.

“Traditional” cuisine in Australia is a head scratcher and my childhood fish experience was crumbed fish digits. The rationale was a menu that would make the best use of the fish, keep me out of the kitchen when guests arrived, allow me a bit of nostalgia, and be geographically specific as it’s winter down here -although a sunny 18C winter.



There’s all the gear – just missing food.

Red Emperor



The head and bones were for the broth, the wings for later to be put in the nabe dish for ongoing stock value. The best part of the fillets was kept as a strip to be sliced as sashimi for the ceviche. The rest was cut up into bite sized pieces. These pieces would be for the guests to put into the nabe pot, cook, and eat.

The Broth

An A5 amount of konbu seaweed left to sit in a couple of litres of cold water for 20 minutes and then brought to the boil. Just before it does boil, the konbu has to come out. Konbu is the base for dashi stock and I’ve recently learnt that it’s a natural source of the MSG like mysterious fifth flavour – umami. Into the pot went the fish head and the bones to simmer for 30 minutes. The resulting strained broth is what all the ingredients are cooked in at the table.

The Rest



not the definitive list by any means but here’s what we cooked along with the fish.

  • a dozen fresh shiitake mushrooms – stems removed
  • firm tofu – microwaved for 1 minute to firm – bite sized pieces
  • fried tofu -rinsed in boiling water – bsp
  • bamboo shoot – half cm slices
  • half a daikon -half cm slices and parboiled.
  • a dozen prawns – the body shelled, poo tube removed
  • a dozen crayfish legs
  • a dozen baby squid tubes- halved and scored.
  • kamaboko (fish cake) – half cm slices
  • chinese cabbage and spinach roll – both boiled and then as beneath, rolled then sliced.

Dipping Sauce

2 parts soy to 1 part ponzu(lemon vinegar). Guests just put a small amount into their bowl.

Three Fish Ceviche Entree



Sashimi grade, tuna and salmon and the fillet of Red Emperor with the skin removed. Sliced into half cm thick pieces, lain on a bed of thinly slice lemon, with the following dressing drizzled over it.

Half a cup of local extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbs white wine vinegar, 12 green peppercorns; and the juice of lemon. Crushed in a pestle and given a stir. The chopped green bits of spring onions provided colour.

Eating

The broth went in the nabe pot and then we all sat around dropping food in and arguing about whose was whose. The delicately flavoured pieces of Red Emperor were well served by a quick swim in the light broth. The standout though was the ceviche – tuna and salmon are my sashimi regulars but the Red Emperor was heaven. The citric acid test was passed. The cold glassy eye of the fish still stares at me, but this was the best I could do to say sorry and thank you.

Drinks

Without the following this may have not been possible.

Rummages around recycle bin..

Brandy and Dry – settle an upset tummy

Red Bull and Tequila – get things going a bit

Emerson’s 1812 IPA – an Indian Pale Ale from NZ – best thingout of there since The Datsuns

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout- wowly exceptional stout

Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbeer & Dunkel- world’s oldest brewery -free glasses!!

Alias Pinot Noir 2001 (Adelaide)- supposedly a cutely titled release from a winery that usually puts this stuff out at three times the price. Pat myself on the back bargain.

Became a bit of a blur after this, vaguely remember laughing at Robert Plant’s trousers again.

Footnote: In thanking the fish and the booze, I should have also thanked my guests, you know who you are, for the seafood, gifts, drinks, and good company. You all score 11.

Update: Wena has done a great job with the list of submissions. Go read.

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