August 2006

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spring spice

Spice Spring is out and it is arguably the best Spice ever. Frankly it’s a stonking good read and damnably good looking with pastry stuff and things on cheese, pics of cars and bikes, ill conceived pic of editor, at least four sentences which only make any sense to me, bananas, butterflied pigs and so much much more. Go get one, get two even. Tell your friends. Subscribe!

Available at good newsagents or Fresh Provisions (Mt Lawley), Sealanes (Freo), Kakulas Sister (Freo), Wine Liasons (Freo), The Home Provedore (Freo), O2H (Nedlands), The Grocer (Nedlands), Lady Kitchener (Claremont), Black Duck Pantry (Albany), Blackwood Kitchen (Bridgetown), Seashack (Esperance), Get Stuffed Olive Company (Gingin), Loose Produce (Como), Margaret Riviera (Cowaramup), Picobello Patisserie (Bicton), Swansea Street Markets (East Vic Park), Gourmet Centro (Subiaco), Vanilla (Fremantle), Angelo Street Markets (South Perth), and Food for Me (East Vic Park), Kitchen Warehouse (Osborne Park), Margaret River Venison (Cowaramup)

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.

-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.

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.

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

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.

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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final proofing spring

Spring Spice mag is off to the printers and a word I thought of was jubilant. Not a word I use a lot, probably due to it’s a associates with Pascall Fruit Jubes – and what horrible things they were, especially when compared to Clinkers. Anyway I was happy but I can’t say it’s been the easiest of experiences unless I’m overstating the effects of wild mood swings. I’d like to think it was the steady application of effort but it seems a constant emotional hurdy gurdy thing. Some days I’m Eliza Doolittle, others I’m Don Knott the Reluctant Astronaut.

I swear there were moments when I though ‘perhaps I can just drive my car North until I run out fuel and money and then wander around the dessert until found months, if not years, later. I think this was the time of neeeeeeeed advertising and mag is a pile of word documents with unresolvable sentences and there’s a six page spread that is still completely unsorted, no pic for the cover, and somebody’s just emailed to say they’re not going to be able to do the story they promised. Not that it was all due to drama, sometimes you wake up and think what the hell am I doing running a magazine? And I guees this is to be expected in something that you have a financial and emotional commitment in, there’s a lot of self inveested in these things. But then there’s not too much analysis needed for the feeling involved in apparently losing two photo shoots and then ripping a hinge off my powerbook on a Friday evening just before heading off home.

But it picks up. Usually around the time pages start appearing on InDesign. Things that need to be written turn out to be much less the drama they’re anticipated as. Stories get finished, proofing work turns to quibbling over commas, more ads come in and you can start to see where it ends and can have a bit of non-manic laugh.

And it’s done and it’s away at the printer. And it’s great, not perfect but great and I’ve got a weekend. And I’m going to cook my little heart out.

Mental notes for next issue
-get new coffee cup
-not laugh at own jokes
-ask fellow directors if they’re bothered by sailor-like levels of swearing
-learn to say barista properly
-save untouched raw photos in a special place
-get microphone that doesn’t make interviews sound like Mr Noisy meets the Mud Men.
-institute floggings for use of ampersand

Postscript: Bah what moany nonsense. Sure it blows at times but it’s tops to be out there and doing it.

The bureau

Could someone do me a favour and send me an mp3 of Bureau’s “Only for Sheep”. It’d cheer me up immensely.
spiceblog at the g thingy for mail.

and go give some money to Médecins Sans Frontières or something.

In:Many thanks to a Ms. G.Banana of Guam for sending in said tasty ska pastiche.

lamb with tart

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

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

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

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

Tomatoes oven-roasted with olive oil.

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

Cocoa sabayon and berries for sweets.