Saturday, June 19, 2010

roasting meat

Roasting large pieces of meat to the correct doness can be fairly difficult at times and once the roast is too much done, there is no turning back anymore.

The easiest solution to avoid disappointment is to use a meat thermometer. I prefer this “scientific” approach much better than how i learnt many years ago by “poking” a meat fork into the meat and establishing the doness of the meat by trying to judge the cooking temperature by the color of the juice that sipped out of the whole where the fork was removed and/or the temperature of the needle held against the lower lip ( which if well done can burn). This might be the “old fashion method” but it still works just as well especially when one is experienced in using this method.

What you'll need
* Meat thermometer, digital or analog
* Meat fork or stainless steel needle

What to do
While one can leave the thermometer inside the joint/roast while roasting, this is not always advisable as, especially when roasting meat on a BBQ grill, due to the basting with liquid or marinate.

Stick you needle into the meat, so that the needlepoint reaches the middle of the thickest point of the roast. Depending on the type of thermometer used, ensure that you allow time for the needle to come up to the final reading.

All meat should be well rested after roasting
This is done on a warm (below 60C or 140 F) place; 10–20 minutes depending on the size of the roast will be sufficient. This will help in equally distributing the juices throughout the meat and the meat will be equally done rather then very bloody on the inside and grey around the edge of the meat.

In general the meat will “heat through” a bit during the resting period, one should calculate approximately 10% additional “cooking” during the resting period.

As a general guideline to determine the doneness follow these temperatures:

Very Rare / 45C (113F) / blood of meat will be cold
Rare / 50C (122F) / deep red to purple, “bloody”
Medium Rare / 55C (131F) / dark red
Medium / 60C (140F) / pale red,
Medium Well / 65C (150F) / light red to pink, almost clear
Well Done / 71C (160F) and above / clear, no blood visible

beef and red wine jus

Ever wondered how to make that dark rick sauce that nearly every restaurant serves with their meat dishes, while it is best to make your own stock, there is nothing wrong with the good commercial ones you can by from the supermarket.

What you'll need
2 litre Veal or beef Stock
1 litre red wine
2 shallots (eschallots) peeled and halved
4 sprigs tyme
3 bay leaves

What to do
Place all the ingredients except for the veal stock in a sauce pan over a low flame and reduce by ½ (I usually make a little pen mark on the outside of the pot, so I know when it is half).

Add the veal stock and reduce that amount by half again.

Strain, portion and freeze and use as required for your next dinner party.

A little more than a tablespoon is all that is needed per serving of beef, lamb etc; so you should have enough here for a few dinner parties.

prawn oil

Next time you prepare a dish that leaves you with a lot of left over shells do not throw all those wonderful bits out, instead make up this oil and you will regret every time you did throw them out. With this oil in your fridge you will be able to add a beautiful richness to a large range of dishes.

What you'll need
1 kg of any or all of the following: prawn, crab, lobster or bug heads & shells
1 brown onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
carrot (peeled and roughly chopped)
stalk of celery (roughly chopped)
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp tom paste
1 litre (1 quart) virgin olive oil

What to do
Crack, break or chop the shells into pieces (approx the size of a thumb nail).

In a large heavy based pot over high heat add a few tbs of olive oil and sauté the carrot, onion and celery until soft.

Add the shells and tomato paste and continue to cook a further 5-8 minutes.

Carefully pour in the remaining oil, add the bay leaves and thyme, make sure that all the ingredients are covered in oil, you may need to add more than a litre depending on the shape and size of your pot.
* Leave on high heat for 5 minutes and then reduce to low and allow to cook for at least 3 hours.

Turn off and allow to cool for at least 2 hours.

Once cooled strain though a colander and allow solids to drain of all the oil.

Discard the solids and strain the liquid through a fine chinois (sieve) at least twice.

Once oil is completely cooled down transfer it to a bottle and it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

chefs tip
When using the oil in recipes you will need to remove it from the fridge about an hour before you need it so it can become liquid again.

Use it as the oil called for in any seafood pasta dish. Toss it through any al'dente pasta along with a little chopped parsley. Drizzle it on top of any soup. Cook scrambled eggs with salmon in it. Once you understand the flavours in it, let your imagination run wild.

Monday, June 14, 2010

parmesan and herb crumbed lamb

This dish, although inspired by the abundance of herbs in late spring, is a wonderful dish to have any time of year. I find it a great choice for entertaining, as you can crumb the lamb hours before. All you'll need to do when your friends arrive is cook the lamb, let the wine breathe and sit down to dinner.

what you need
12 lamb cutlets (ask your butcher to French, slightly tenderize and flatten them)
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
4 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 cups plain flour
4 eggs
1 cup milk

For the lamb
Lightly beat the egg and add the milk.

Place the flour into a wide bowl or dish and season with salt and pepper.

Place the crumbs, parmesan and herbs into a wide bowl or dish and mix in the pesto, (it may become lumpy but keep mixing it until you have an even texture.

Dust the cutlets in the flour, keeping the bone clean.

Then one at a time, moisten them with the egg and milk wash, again keeping the bone clean.

Allow the egg wash to slightly drain off and crumb them with the pesto bread crumb mix.

Place in the fridge if you are preparing ahead of time, or move right onto the next step.

Over medium-high heat, brown them off in a little butter mixed with extra virgin olive oil and transfer them to the oven for 5-10 minutes depending on whether you want well done or medium-rare cutlets.

I recommend a medium bodied red such as a Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the lamb.

Great as party food or serve as a meal with Caponata and mash potatoes and crusty bread.

peach and buttermilk muffins

what you need
2 cups rolled oats (regular oats not instant or fast cook)
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
415g can peach slices in natural juice, drained, diced

what to do
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease three 6-hole, 1/3-cup capacity muffin pans.

Place oats, buttermilk, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Sift flour and cinnamon over oat mixture. Add sugar. Stir gently to combine. Fold in peach. Spoon mixture into muffin holes to completely fill (muffins won't rise much, due to the oats).

Bake muffins for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve muffins warm with cream cheese.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

tomato dust

This is perhaps the simplest of recipes and one of those that sound so fancy on a restaurant menu
But, tomato dust or powder is a handy thing to have around the kitchen. Use it as simple decoration sprinkled on the rim of plates or dust a little on top of the mascarpone that I like to top a creamy pasta with or to sprinkle on a savory souffle.

The same process can be applied to slivers of beetroot or carrots, citrus peel (peel only, all the white pith needs to be removed) and slivers of sweet potatoes to achieve different flavors and colors.

What you'll need

Tomato peel - the peel that is left and dis-garded when peeling tomatoes

What to do

Spread out the tomato peels on a baking paper lined sheet pan, or rack and dry in an oven at 80 C (175 F) for approx 2 hours, until the tomato skins are completely dry and crisp.

Place the crisp tomato peel into a coffee grinder or blender and turn it into a fine dust.

Store in a dry shaker for usage anytime when needed.

rich chocolate brownies

What you'll need
500g butter
1Kg flour
120gr Sugar
8 Eggs
70g Cocoa Powder
50g Dark Chocolate
250g Roasted Hazelnuts (Chopped)

What to do
Heat the chocolate and butter until melted, don't boil. Pour into a large bowl and whisk in the sugar, adding the eggs one at a time, then sift in the flour and cocoa and chopped hazelnuts.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper and pour in the mixture, Bake at 150*c (302 F) for 35 minutes.

Remove the brownie from the baking tray, trim the edges off and cut into portions.

Top with some vanilla bean ice cream and a rich chocolate fudge sauce.

braised duck tagliatelle

what you need
duck marylands
1 large onion and 1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup (70g) tomato paste
1 tbs plain flour
2 cups (500ml) dry red wine
300ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves and 2 tbs thyme leaves
Pared rind and juice of 1 orange
500g tagliatelle or any wide pasta
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley

what to do
Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Place a large flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add duck, skin-side down, and cook for 6 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 4 minutes. Remove duck and drain fat, leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a further minute.

Sprinkle with the flour and stir to combine. Add the wine, stock, herbs, rind and juice. Bring to the boil and season. Return the duck to the pan, cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.

Remove the duck from sauce, skim as much residual fat from the surface as you can. Place casserole over medium heat. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly. When duck is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat. Return meat to casserole.

To serve, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions, then drain. Return to the pan, add the sauce and toss to combine. Divide pasta among plates and serve sprinkled with parsley and grated parmesan, with a watercress, fennel and orange salad.

Note :
You can use ready made pasta, or you will find a recipe for fresh pasta on my site.
A maryland is the leg and thigh of the duck

Sunday, June 6, 2010

pumpkin and date mufins

what you need
2oz butter or margarine
6oz brown sugar
125mls water
1 egg (well beaten)
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
100gr cooked and pureed pumpkin
6oz pitted dates cut into thirds and soaked in hot water

what to do
Preheat oven to 180f
Melt butter and brown sugar in the water and place into fridge to cool.
Grease muffin tray with butter or margarine
Beat the egg well and add pour the sugar/butter/water mix in and stir well
Sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl make a well in the center and
pour the liquid in and stir until smooth add dates and spoon into tray and bake for 25 to 30 minutes

warm pumpkin and goats cheese salad

what you need

1/2 small jap pumpkin (skin on), cut into thin wedges
100ml olive oil
1 tbs thyme leaves
150g firm goat's cheese, cut into rounds
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 cups mixed baby salad leaves

what to do
Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Toss pumpkin with 2 tablespoons of the oil and thyme. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, turning once, until cooked and lightly caramelised. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, brush the cheese rounds with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and coat in the breadcrumbs. Place on a separate greased baking tray and chill until just before you're ready to serve the salad.

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the goat's cheese in the oven for 5-6 minutes until crumbs are golden.

Toss the salad leaves and pumpkin in half the vinaigrette and pile onto plates. Add the warmed goat's cheese and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

note: you can substitute panko crumbs for dry breadcrumbs

Saturday, June 5, 2010

orange and poppy seed muffins

what you need
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/3 cup extra-light olive oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
2 large oranges, rind finely grated, juiced
100g cream cheese
1/4 cup pure icing sugar

what to do
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place twelve 1/2-cup capacity extra-strength muffin cases on a baking tray (see note).
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in sugar and poppy seeds. Make a well in the centre.

Whisk oil, buttermilk, egg, 2 teaspoons orange rind and 1/2 cup orange juice in a jug.

Pour into well. Gently fold until just combined. Three-quarter fill muffin cases with mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand muffins on tray for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Place cream cheese and icing sugar in a small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, beat until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind and 1 teaspoon orange juice and stir until well combined. Spoon mixture on top of muffins.

pumpkin, ricotta and sage lasagne

what you need
1.2kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbs chopped sage, plus 12 whole leaves to serve
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
350g ricotta
1 egg
1 cup grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
8 fresh lasagne sheets
100g unsalted butter
2 tbs chopped walnuts

what to do
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Place the pumpkin on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with chilli flakes and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 25 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Allow to cool slightly.

Puree pumpkin in a food processor with the chopped sage and nutmeg. Set aside. Clean processor, then process the ricotta, egg, parmesan, salt and pepper.

Lightly grease a 24cm-square baking dish. Lay 2 lasagne sheets over the base and spread with half the pumpkin. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, then spread with half the ricotta. Repeat process, then sprinkle final layer of ricotta with extra parmesan. Lay a sheet of baking paper over surface, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden. Stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter, sage leaves and walnuts in a pan for 1-2 minutes over medium heat until the butter starts to foam. Remove from the heat.
Serve the lasagne drizzled with sage butter, scattered with extra parmesan.