oyster

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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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iced berry sorbet

Following on the heels of last year’s New Year’s Eve Dinner party for 11 we thought we’d try again with 16 and a n extra course in there. Sue and Chook hosted and I did the cooking. This took a good two days – the idea was to prep before so I could sit down and enjoy the meal now and then. There was also the essential martini testing. It was a great deal of fun and it’s lovely to have an opportunity to cook for that many friends on an important night of the year. Not all went to plan but ah well. I think what I was happiest with was that there were a few things people hadn’t had before without alienating anybody.

All the photos are here on flickr and many thanks to Kate for taking pics for me.

Things kicked off well with a pre-guests-arrive bottle of Veuve Cliqout, which I could get used to.

quail and chorizo
Apéritifs
Assorted Martinis
Quail Eggs on Chorizo with Aioli

Chook became Mr Martini as guests arrived. They’re a great way to get things rolling. I mumbled stuff about them putting people into a state of deep booze, like REM sleep. The reality is, they’re just a respectable way of drinking straight booze. Oh I couldn’t drink a glass of vodka, oh what’s this? and olive. Popularised in the 50′s as a salve for losing the McClusky Sporting Goods Account and a pot roast not quite up to standards.
Peeling quail eggs is a complete bastard. Boiling them is easy, just pop them in a pan of water, bring it to the boil, and remove after one minute.
As seen at Maggie Taberer’s birthday party.

oysters

Appetizer
Oysters
with
Lemon-Lime Hollandaise
Crème Fraîche and Salmon Roe
Chilli Coriander Champagne Sorbet

Oysters are the best. Lemon-lime hollandaise is the one from summer from Forrest Hill winery. Crème Fraîche and salmon roe is a reappearance from last year.The chilli coriander champagne sorbet is completely made up and I was thinking of a frozen pho with champagne as the sour stock, a bit of sugar for sweetness and then chilli and coriander added. I was ready to ditch it but it actually worked well.
Nice thing was, every one of them was at least somebody’s favourite.

asparagus and gazpacho

Soup
Gazpacho with Crayish Mousse and Asparagus Bavarois


This was my – I will attempt something classically french and overly ambitious thing.
The gazpacho was for summer and was easy (peeling and seeding tomatoes does take time). Because it was dinner, I pulled back on the cucumber, and the capsicum as it didn’t want it too spicy. A few chopped tomatoes mixed in before serving added texture.
The plan for the bavarois was that I’d place a crayfish mousse in the centre. Initially I thought I’d go for a loaf shape and slice it but that shape was taken by the vegetable terrine.
A crayfish mousse is similar in principle to a salmon mousse. Steaming it in a tiny muffin muffin tin, it went to crap, I’m not sure why, maybe not enough egg white. Tasted alright and it would be covered up by the bavarois. Slightly flavoured with a simple bisque made from the head of the crayfish.
The asparagus idea came from dinner at Bouchon Bistro in Wembley, which is extremely good, and I couldn’t believe it’s just down the road from me and I hadn’t been before. A useful guide was in the Age. Gelatine is still a dark art and I feel it may have been a little on the soft side, although a busy fridge is less than ideal for setting. I use leaf gelatine because it’s got German on it.
Very tasty. It’s be a nice thing to master.

table setting

Vegetables
Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Vinaigrette


Sue made this and it was lovely. There’s nothing like the natural sweetness that comes from roasted vegetables.

champagne speck and scallop risotto

Entree
Scallop with Champagne and Speck Risotto


This was going to be a pork cheek and scallop salad after I got Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail Eating but Wing Hong was all out so Toni suggested a risotto.
Made my own chicken stock to go with the champagne and it had a slighty smokey taste. It could have been the pork trotters but I think not straining it was have caused a few bits to catch and burn when reducing. No bad thing.

borscht sorbet

Breather
Borscht Sorbet


Beetroot is sweet so it’s not going to freak people out and it’s also savoury. Can’t remeber how I did this. Ahhmmm. Roasted beetroot for sweetness then peeled and grated it. A cupful cooked in some chicken stock, added back and them pureed with cucumber and a splash of vodka to keep it a bit runny and give it a bit of bite.
Remember to remove from freezer a little before serving.

wagyu

Main
Eye Fillet of Wagyu
Several Mushroom Clafoutis
Cannellini Bean Puree
and Jus


This is from down south in WA and I was a bit handy because the Graeme from Dorper Lamb dropped it off at my place. It was a monster piece – 3.4 kilograms. I wasn’t sure quite how to approach it so I divided it into three roughly equal pieces, one slightly smaller for the better done crowd.
I’d sear it and then cook it in the oven at a very high heat. The spell in the oven wasn’t quite enough because I was overly worried about over-cooking it so I sliced it into 16 portions, researed it, and then sliced each piece for serving.
Canellini Bean Puree was from Summer and is beans pureed with sherry vinegar and olive oil.
The clafoutis had field mushrooms, porcini and the ominous trumpet d’mort.It was like the cherry clafoutis earlier but without sugar.
I reserved the soaking water and added a little to the jus, which was a beef stock I made and then reduced with pan scrapings after deglazing with red wine.
A bit of crayfish on top for extra flash.
Time slipped away and thanks to the magic of Time Fixer -always fixin’ time – the clock mysteriously stopped for 20 minutes.
Sparklers, Poppers and Moet. More Martinis!

Cheese

I know french is poor form at New Year but it does make sense in meal sequence.

frozen berry souffle

Dessert
Frozen Berry Souffle


This is a Michel Roux Jr recipe (Le Gavroche is pretty much my where I end up in how to do things these days) and it’s kind of tricky. A kilo of berries pureed with 150g sugar, 80ml of whipped to soft peaks cream folded in.
Tricky bit was the egg whites. They’re beaten to bubbly and then 250g of sugar is boiled with 500ml of water up to 120C and then poured into the whites while the beater is running until the egg white has “cooled”. I had no idea what was supposed to be happening here but it did work. Fold in to mix.
Kind of interesting is that it takes ages to reach 120C. I thought the thermometer had stuck at 100 but realised it wasn’t until the water boiled off that the boiling point could rise – there’s a lesson in there somewhere. Keep in mind it’s facking hot and sticky – proper shoes, don’t lick the spoon etc.
It was supposed to pop up over the rameking with a wrap of greaseproof paper for the purpose but I miscalculated the volume not allowing for the volume of water boiling off.

I drank, bummed cigarettes and chatted to the sound of happy dishwashing before finding a sofa on which to relax and then that was that. Happy New Year all.

souffle finished


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tapioca

Sinful. Unless it refers to torturing chickens to save a few cents off the price of an egg (and I’m not sure that actually is a sin), it’s a naff word to use in regards to food. And if a supercreamy tapioca pudding is someone’s idea of a ticket to their own circle of hell then we all have much to worry about. Actually I’m sure the high point of my own stygian repose would be being able to listen to wails of “But Lord, it was but one Milky Bar!” as they reached up to a particularly smug group of lactose intolerants. The circles of dairy hell are:

low-fat milk
havarti cheese
cafe latte
prurient thoughts regarding milkmaids
milk
chocolate
600ml choc-milk
whipping cream
chocolate mousse
double cream
double brie
triple brie
mascarpone
Nestle Infant Formula


Anyway tapioca, in the hunt for a recipe sometimes you think it’d been invented by ‘Grandma’ who had a prediliction for jello and cool whip (They still talk about it in Normandy). The others involve eggs and I don’t remember tapioca involving eggs. Well there’s a recipe
here, that’s merged it with zabaglione,hence the marsala, and that made sense. I also learnt what ‘half and half’ is when it’s not half lager, half ale. I substituted vanilla and port for the marsala

- soak 1/3 cup baby tapioca pearls for two hours, drain
- add to 2.5 cups of half cream and half milk and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring often with a whisk (or constantly if you can be bothered and you’ve got a heater and a telly in the kitchen)
- add 1 tsp vanilla essence and a shot of port. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
- whisk one egg and one egg yolk with 4 tbs of sugar until combined and light in colour.
- add 1/3 of the tapioca mix to the eggs, stirring constantly.
- return to the saucean and over a low heat, stir constantly for five minutes.
- pop in a glass and top with berries and whipped cream.

Sadly you can’t see the multi-coloured eyes of tapioca gazing out and the $1.50 ikea glass looks like a $1.50 ikea glass (and I didn’t iron the placemat) but it was independently assessed as ‘the yummiest tapioca ever…creamy and dreamy’ . So there you go.

Bonus pic is the Kylie Kwong steamed oysters that I had in a not very successful thai dinner. They tasted nowhere near as nice as they looked – largely due to a poor decision between Malaysian cooking wine and a four day old of bottle verdelho (it was fine on Tuesday before POTC). I chose the latter and as a further blow, the oysters weren’t steamed enough to be hot, but rather not quite cold.

steamed oysters

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