Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pepper Eye Fillet with Red Wine & Anchovy Reduction and Pommes Puree

The first time i can remember feeling like i was actually cooking and taking a joy in it for the process itself, was when i made what quickly became my specialty: kangaroo with red wine jus and 'smashed' potatoes.

Well slowly my tastes have changed, and my signature dish has changed with it. So many things in this dish today i would have thought were completely wrong when i first started out cooking. Like
  • how could you ever use beef instead of kangaroo! Kangaroo is like paying $5 for a prime rib! Well, i still love my kangaroo, but the marbled fat in a good beef steak is a luxury unmatched by kangaroo.
  • Anchovy in my sauce? Disgusting! I've become a complete convert to the little anchovy- but only when i can't see the damn things. Anchovies i consider to be a seasoning agent; use sparingly to add a bit of depth to the dish
  • How can you not boil down a bottle of wine to one 30ml shot glass worth! Ok this one took me a while to learn. For so long i would reduce my jus until it was a as thick as possible, and i would flesh it out with beef stocks and pepper. Now, i  follow the credos Keep It Simple Stupid. I want to taste the wine. 
Anyway! This is a dish to impress. Especially if you can find those fancy vine tomatoes (hint: if you can't find those, then use dutch carrots for looks)

Kaju Chicken in Kaala Masala

I lifted the original version of this recipe from a great cookbook i got titled '50 great curries of india'. I can make a decent curry, but i still haven't managed to make a curry that tastes quite as strong and flavour packed as what you can get in any Indian restaurant.

The most important thing in making this dish is to ensure that you blend the ingredients as finely as possible. Failure to do so will result in an unappealing texture, and a visual that suggests the curry sauce has curdled. Not good peeps!

Also, go out and buy some ghee! Ghee is a clarified butter used commonly in Indian cuisine. Because it's clarified it means it has a much higher smoke point than regular butter, but still imparts a flavor to foods that vegetable oils can never match. You can pick up ghee in the international section of a good supermarket. 

Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 1 kg skinless thicken thighs
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • 100gm grated coconut (fresh if you keep it around)
  • 1 2cm cube of ginger, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbs coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 dried chillis
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200gm raw cashews
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 tbsp ghee or oil 
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 175 degrees and toast the cashews for 10 minutes then set aside.
In a large frying pan free of oil or fat, roast the coconut, garlic, chillis, ginger, and spices for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Add the onions and half of the cashews and saute for a further 10 minutes.

Once cooled slightly, process this mixture. This is the part where you must get the paste as fine as possible.

The above is NOT fine enough!

This is much better. We want smooth peanut butter, not crunchy.
Heat the ghee in a pot on medium heat and add the cashew spice mixture and fry for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken thighs and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add 600ml of water and the conver and leave to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, and continue to cook until the sauce thickens to the desired level.
When close to serving, stir through the remaining cashews.

Serve with safron rice and cachumber.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quiche Lorraine

Again, using ingredients i had lying around. And again, one of my favorite foods that my mum used to make for me! Of course, i took the lazy option which my mother never did; i went and picked up a premade flan base from the supermarket. At $3 each these things make life so easy!! But in a recipe soon i'll show you how to make one yourself.

After a very large, very filling christmas dinner, i came home toting a freezer full of leftovers, and two other ingredients: cream, and eggs, leftover from egg nog. This is the first dish that came to mind.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 flan base (premade pie crust)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 short rashers bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Par-cook the flan base as per package instructions. Remove, set aside and leave oven preheated to 165 degrees.
Set a frying pan over medium heat, and throw in a touch of oil.
Add the chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes or until softened (try not to brown them)

Add the chopped bacon and saute for a further 10 minutes.
Set bacon and onion aside on paper towel to soak up extra grease.

In a large bowl, whisk together cream and eggs.

Add the parsley, cheese and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
Place the bacon and onion on the bottom of the flan base and pour over the cream/egg mixture.

Set into the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the centre of the quiche does not jiggle when you shake the tin.

Serve at room temperature with a light salad.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Chocolate & Pistachio Truffles

This morning we had a staff christmas morning tea, and everyone was asked to bring a plate. I piped in straight away (maybe a bit too excitedly) 'TRUFFLES!!". I ended up bringing two types, the dark chocolate and raspberry ones i have made before, and these ones. These ones i absolutely adored! Nuts and white chocolate, delicious.

Curried Carrot & Chickpea Soup

Today it's 36 degrees. What did i decide to cook last night (and therefore have for leftovers today)... soup! I love my soups, but in 36 degree heat, yeah coulda thought that one through a bit better.

Nonetheless this is a soup i whipped up from my head to get rid of the chickpeas in my cupboard. My aim over the next few weeks is to cook stuff that uses what's in my freezer/pantry and doesn't add anything to it.

The culprit: Chickpeas.

I originally used natural yoghurt in this recipe instead of the cream, but found that cream works better in this case. Coconut milk would probably work even better.

  • 2/3 cup thickened cream
  • 500gm carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 heaped tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp Ghee (oil can be used instead; ghee is a clarified animal oil)
  • Salt and pepper to season

Thinly slice the carrots and leeks.

Heat large pot over low heat; add ghee.
Add the leeks and allow to sweat for 5-10 minutes.
Add the carrots and garlic and turn up the heat to medium. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add chickpeas and curry powder and saute for 2 minutes, stirring powder through the vegetables.
Add the stock, and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a blender in batched and puree finely.

Season to taste.
Just before serving, add the cream but be sure not to bring the soup to a boil (save a little bit for garnish)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chocolate Ganache Puddings with Spanish Nougat

As yet another addition to my Movida cookbook tests, this one is my favorite to date! Sure i've had chocolate puddings before, but this one suits my tastes! The puddings are slightly bitter if you use the right chocolate, which makes them rich and a great counterpoint to Vanilla ice cream. I was happy to see that each pudding turned out cooked on the outside but gooey on the inside.
Ingredients (Makes 3; yes i do make unusual quantities)
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 200gm the darkest good chocolate you can find; cropped finely
  • 1/2 cup of pouring cream
  • 2 tbs butter, diced and at room temperature.
  • 1 tbs spanish nougat per person
  • Vanilla icecream, for serving
  • Flour to dusk ramekins
  • Extra butter to coat ramekins

Brush the inside of 3 125ml ramekins with butter and then coat lightly with flour. Place in fridge to chill. 
Place eggs in a large bowl and whisk lightly.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (bowl sitting over, but not touching, simmering water.)
Whilst the chocolate is melting, bring the cream to the boil in another saucepan, and then immediate turn off and set aside for 5 minutes.
Add the chocolate to the eggs, a bit at a time, mixing well with each addition.
Add the now warm cream and the cubes of butter, and continually stir until the butter has melted.

Refridgerate this mix, covered, for 1 hour.
Spoon the mixture evenly across the 3 chilled ramekins and return these to the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Bake the ramekins straight from the fridge for approximately 15 minutes or until the puddings are cracked slightly in the centre.
Leave on the bench to cool for 5 minutes then run a knife around the outside edge to loosen.
Turn the puddings out onto a plate.
Scatter with nougat and a dollop of good vanilla icecream.


How come i had never heard of these before??? These are the best racion!! Think about it. Spanish jamon and manchego sheeps cheese wrapped up in pork and then crumbed and fried? Hangover heaven!! Alas i did not have the heart to make these when i was actually hungover (pizza pockets are much easier to er heat, admittedly). Trust me, two is enough per person.

PS Check out the amazing plates my parents got me for my birthday!! (The black one at the end)

Ingredients (makes 8)
  • 4 pork loin steaks (probably about 80 grams each)
  • 1 slice of jamon cut about 5mm thick and cut into 8 strips
  • 1 slice of manchego sheeps cheese or other hard sheeps chease, again about 5mm thick and cut into 8 strips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (japanese bread crumps available from the deli)
  • Flour for coating
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying. 

Place the each pork steak between 2 pieces of cling wrap and bash the heck out of it with a mallet until you get an even 5mm thickness across. Cut each piece into 2 strips.

Place 1 piece of jamon and 1 piece of cheese onto each pork fillet, sprinkle with thyme.
Roll up each pork piece with the cheese and jamon inside like a cigar.

Lightly whisk the eggs and place the eggs, breadcrumbs and flour is separate bowls.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Dip each piece into flour, then egg, then roll in breadcrumbs.

Bring oil to heat in a saucepan and test heat with a piece of bread. We want the bread to take 30 seconds to go golden.
When ready, add the flamenquins 2 or 3 at a time and cook until golden brown.

Transfer the flamenquin when cooked to a baking tray, and when all ready, put in the oven for 5 minutes.
Scoff scoff scoff whilst hot. Goes great with an aioli dipping sauce.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chilled Almond Soup with Grape Granita

My lovely sister got me the Movida cookbook for my birthday, and this is the first recipe that i have made from it. I think it's also the first cold soup that i've ever had. I had no idea how the ingredients were going to combine, but it looks like i realise why Movida is so popular. Everything in this soup is very well balanced and it makes a great, refreshing palate cleanser that is very light but full of clean flavors.

250gm red grapes
1 cup water
100gm castor sugar

Almond Soup
150gm blanched almonds
1 2cm thick slice day old bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon aioli (can be purchased at a specialty deli, or its quite easy to make which i did!)
450ml chilled water
1 clove garlic, crushed

Remove the grapes from their stalks and process into a puree in a blender
Pass the pureed grapes through a sieve.

Heat the water and sugar together in a saucapan to a boil and then simmer until reduced by 1/3
Add the sugar syrup to the grape mix and pour both into a container for the freezer.
Every 3 hours, break up the granita with a fork. When it begins to completely set, you can form the flurry ice crystals by raking a fork up and down it.

Almond Soup
Cover the blanched almonds in water overnight.
Soak the bread in water for 1 hour.

Drain the almonds and bread and transfer to a blender or food processor with garlic and process into a puree.
Slowly add the chilled water whilst continuing to blend. Should take about 3 minutes in total.
Pass this 'almond milk' through a fine sieve.

Place the aioli into a large bowl and slowly add the almond milk, whisking constantly.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, loosely fill the serving glasses with 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the granita.

Pour in the almond soup, approximately an equal amount to the granita.

Zucchini & Haloumi Fritters

Last Sunday i met up with a friend for a quiet picnic at Fitzroy gardens. Amongst proscuitto wrapped asparagus, bruschetta, soggy cannoli and a bottle of red, sat these fritters. I'm thinking he must have liked these, because they were the only dish that was pretty much polished off.

The lemon and dill really pick up the flavors in these fritters and make the dish alot lighter and fresher than your standard zucchini fritter.


  • 300gm zucchini, seeds removed, and then grated
  • 200gm haloumi cheese, grated, available at the supermarket near the feta. 
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tbs fresh, chopped dill
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • Oil for frying

Squeeze as much excess liquid from the zucchini as possible.
Place in a large bowl with the onion,lemon zest, haloumi, dill and eggs.

Mix through, and then add the flour and stir until well combined.
Add a bit more flour if needed though the mix should be kind of goopy.
spoon the mixture onto a floured baking tray in heaped tablespoon sized balls. 

Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to help firm.
Heat enough oil in a frying pan on medium heat to come about 2cm up the sides.
Add the fritters, a few at a time, and cook about 2 minutes on each side until golden.
Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel to drain.

Serve warm, with sea salt and aioli.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


 Ok so this one was a bit of a throw together. My lunches for this week are rosemary lamb fillets with tabbouleh. The rosemary lamb was pre-marinated so not much to show you there! So i thought i'd put up the tabbouleh i made. Sorry about the shocking photos.

Ingredients (per serve)
  • 1/4 cup bourghul (in the health food section of your supermarket, or go to a health store or specialty deli)
  • 3/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped.
  • 1 large scallion, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a large lemon
  • About 2 inches of cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato, diced


Soak the burghul in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour then drain well.
Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Note: It should look a lot greener than this; when i made it i used too much burghul so i have already adjusted the recpe. 


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