November 2005

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SPICE


It’s officially out. The launch was on Monday night and a deserved success for Jeff Atkinson, Kate Lindsay, John Loss, and Claire Kaylock. A fun night in lovely weather, attended by around 300 people, who ate local food and drank local beer and wine all supported by local businesses in the Western Australian food industry. Thanks to those that came along and those that posted about it.

The magazine is brilliant and a testament to what people can do with a sound set of principles, ideas, skills, and hard work. It manages to perfectly encapsulate the local producers it set out to represent.

Relatively speaking I’ve played a minor part and was fortunate be as much in the magazine as I am. There are a few of my photos, an inteview I did, a story I assembled, and a piece I wrote on ermmm me (yeah I know I still feel a bit of a knob about this). My feelings about this are equal parts pride and urk. Hasn’t stopped numerous – oi look I’m in this mag incidents though. Many thanks to the Kate, Jeff, John and Claire and to all the readers here who have encouraged me with my writing and thus making the transition from this little digital experiment to analoguey wood based stuff. My esky appears on page 8.

Out now in the newsagents.

Kalgoorlie

capers

If I were to tell you that I’d flown to a place where I’d eaten Macadamia Nut Chicken Kiev, been served drinks by an East German woman in her underwear*, enjoyed a performance by an acoustic guitar playing female singer supported by a cellist and a harmonica player over vodka tonics, went gourmet food shopping where we bought unpastEurised French cheese, attended a seafood dinner for 500, drank French beer with lamb cutlets, and had capers and olives with Little Creatures in a sunny beer garden; where would you say I’d been?

Oh hang on I just told you where I went in the title, didn’t I?

Must work on these “well think again” travel show style intros.

*there’s a set up for a rejig of an old joke for the taking.

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”.

Faux-Filet Henri IV

This is straight offa page 266 of the Cordon Bleue at Home. It seemed like a nice idea at the time for Sunday dinner but it took forever because of poor planning and timing and a desire to keep the number of pots and pans to three. You’ll notice that the béarnaise sauce has de-emulsified because I had to reheat it and wasn’t paying attention – tsk.

The artichokes were prepared as per The Tart Heart of the Artichoke Folk and boiled in salted water for 20 minutes. The potatoes were parboiled and then roasted in a very hot oven in preheated vegetable oil and goosefat. The steak was scotch fillet and you can make the marks by cooking it on a very hot grill plate and then turning it 90 degrees and that’s it.

It’s actually called Coeur de Filet Henri IV. I would tell you what the name would be in French for using a scotch fillet but it was all too hard and frankly (if you’ll excuse the pun) Henry IV of France was much more interesting. Twice the man Henry VIII was and, in addition to helping end the religious war with admirable tolerance and dedicated to public works, was quoted as such:

Si Dieu me prête vie, je ferai qu’il n’y aura point de laboureur en mon royaume qui n’ait les moyens d’avoir le dimanche une poule dans son pot.
(If God allows me to live, I will see that there is not a single labourer in my kingdom who does not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday)

Huzzah!
Sadly, killed by a loon.

pizza

A voice in my head said “make a pizza” on Friday night while driving home from Fremantle. It also said “make your own dough too“, “sleep no more” and “look out that car’s braking in front of you” as well as “mmm mmm black betty bambalam, mmm mmm black betty bambalam“.

I’m afraid you have to make your own pizza dough too. It’s not that hard: Basic Pizza Dough – Recipe Pizza Dough. It’s really good and you’ll never want for a prepared base again much less something on a piece of pita bread. Lovely little airy bits all the way through it. Make it nice and thin while you’re at it. Four a sauce I just used a jar of pasta sauce with some onion and garlic and marjoram. Toppings were mozzarella, basil, proscuitto, tomato, field mushrooms, eggplant, and anchovies in various combinations.

The trick, and this is why people use wood-fired ovens, is to get the base nice and crispy without overdoing the top. This requires a very hot base. What I do is use a cast iron bessemer pan that my Mum bought in the seventies from a woman that was convinced she was reincarnated from Mary the Queen of Scots that I get really hot* on a wok burner to get it crisp and then finish it off in the oven as hot as it goes.

Reviews are in: “delicious”

*the pan, not Mary Queen of Scots, or the woman.

Henry IV en admiration devant le blog de épice

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

This is the main course for An Extremely Good Dinner Party

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

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

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

rabbit confit map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahk that’s it. I’ll proof this later.

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wagin ram

While I’m writing up the recipe for the rabbit thingy I thought I’d open up some new digs for the Mingénew Country Chat Room to have at it.

Also opening the comments for – long time readers first time commenters saying hi; album reviews; Rupert Sheldrake; personal questions; the crisis of masculinity as portrayed in mid-strength beer ads; embarrassing things done with fruit or cider; erotic kitchen poetry; and Mario 64.

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.

champange and a celeriac

I’ve had bigger, messier, unlikelier, more fractious dinner parties but this one, and Toni will back me up on this, was the best one ever. Not in the world mind, although the cheese board was voted best on globe at 1:30am – in Perth of all places, who would have thought? But the best I’ve ever done. So I’m just basking at the moment and grateful that a shitty, rotten week for a friend gave me this opportunity – so hooray for misfortune.

The deal was a sweet one. I’d come over and cook and bring mains and dessert and she’d provide the nibblies, the seafood for the entree, the cheese and the booze. The resulting menu was this:

Apéritifs
Dolmades, stuffed peppers, baba ganoush, marinated artichoke, and pickled onions (really good, from the Boatshed) with Champagne and Lillet (never had it before but it’s quite lovely and looking like number one sunny afternoon refresher-nicer with a bit of lime, is this wrong?)

befores

Entree
Tuna and Sashimi Tuna with a Mango Salsa
paired with a Beaujolais which didn’t quite work but was interesting and the Louis Jadot was tasty enough for me not to care less)

Main
Confit of Rabbit in a stack of beetroot wantons/pink pappadams with celeriac and parsnip mash, fried parsnip, and a rabbit paté with a mustard cream sauce.
There was a Chianti there but I can’t remember which one, and a Spanish wine and a local Harewood 2002 Pinot Noir.

20 Minutes of Clubbing and a Double Espresso

quick boogie

Dessert
Pistachio and Rosewater Crème Brûlée
with a Vasse Felix Semillon Dessert Wine

stickies

Cheese Board
I’m struggling here – a blue, a goats cheese, quince jelly, dried grapes, a brie, chocolately pistachio things, a Capel something and bottle of Miranda Golden Botrytis.

messy cheese platter

This was my first real attempt at full blown foot to the floor fancy and it’s rewarding that it worked out, especially after a day moving furniture. The entree and the dessert were pretty straightforward, the mains a little more complex but I’ll post the recipes over the week.

dirtydirty

I love choice. The steak or the fish? A lighter bottle of merlot or a more robust cab sav? Flat white or long macchiato? Eat shit or fuck off?

Ah yes the last one. Welcome to WorkChoices the latest in a long history of wanting an underclass of working poor that can be shafted at will. If you’d prefer a country where working Australians have half a chance of not being done over, have a catch up on the travesty of these new laws at Red Rag. Robert Corr’s been doing an exceptional job of cutting through the crap.

You can also get out there in a show of solidarity next Tuesday at the National Day Of Community Protest – 15 Nov. 2005. Decency demands it.

kinda waldorfy caeserish salad


I don’t make a lot of salads, so it’s no surprise that I’ve kind of made several different salads in one. If it looks a bit busy, you’re right. All it needs is olives, avocado, and some rice. There are, however a few good tricks in there that can be applied generally.

Anchovy Mayonnaise:
If you’ve been paying attention, you should be able to make your own pasta, bone a chicken, dismember a rabbit, and make your own stock. Now I think you should make your own mayonnaise too. First reason is it takes about five minutes and second reason is that commercially available mayonnaise is sugary jellied crap. Plus if you’re making it yourself, you can mess around with different stuff.

The basics are an egg yolk, no more than one cup of oil per yolk, a teaspoon of mustard (helps emulsify), and salt and pepper. Try to have them at room temperature. For this one I used all of the above but the oil was a mix of 1/4 cup each of walnut oil, EVOO, and vegetable oil. Whisk the other ingredients together and then add the oil drop by drop, whisking continously. Build up to a thin slow stream but take a break before your arm drops off . Once it’s all blended in, whisk in a couple of teaspoons of hot water to thin and stabilise it. Season to flavour.

To this I added a teaspoon of anchovies, finely chopped and then smeared to a paste with the flat of my chef’s knife and whisked in.

Asparagus:
Cut off the tougher end – around the bottom fifth. These ones were quite thick so peel the bottom two thirds, slice in half down the middle, and then half again, and cook in butter. Keep warm.

Walnuts:
Roast in the oven (or in a pan). Keep warm.

Radicchio and Rocket:
Wash and drain and dry if need be. Those salad spinners are great but I don’t have one.

Croutons:
Chop bread into cubes and dry in a hot oven. Fry a couple of cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil and then toss the cubes in them. Keep warm.

Apple:
Core and then thinly slice. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them to prevent discolouration.

Goat’s Cheese:
Local stuff – Kytren. Very nice, you only need a little bit for that sour cheesy taste. Crumble over the top. I almost left it off for being a it gimmicky but no harm done.

Prep and Eating:
Mix the leaves, croutons and apples together with the mayonnaise. Then top with the walnuts, asparagus, and goat’s cheese and the flick a little of the mayonnaise over the top.

Great, it was a meal in itself and if it wasn’t the most harmonious of mixes, everything was well represented. Nice as leftovers with some bald-chin groper cooked in butter too.

And: Got my chef’s knife sharpened at Cut it Out on Murray Street (another bit of Jackson’s advice along with the mayonnaise and the smearing bit to make a paste). Well recommended, I had no idea my knife could be that sharp. Too scared to use it now, might slice the bench in half.

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In the name of God, think what you're doing!

Thanks Moira

Busy

making pasta

[insert thoughtful piece later]