Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Lemon Thyme Roast Vegetables


It's so difficult for me to decide whether my favorite meat is pork or lamb! Sure, if it was for every day, i would probably pick pork with it's added versatility in small goods but i don't think there is a meat so irresistable to me as the lamb roast! I am always getting into the roast early, trying to wrangle the lank shank from my mother/aunt/grandmother before my dad or cousin does. Something about the roast shank with it's sticky fat and stringy tender meat is just about the best thing in the world to me! And when you get a cut like shoulder and cook it properly, the result is an entire plate full of that succulent fatty meat! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cauliflower Soup

It seems like such a short time ago that i stopped doing my weekly soup recipes! And now I'm back, but i don't think i'll be making new soups every week like I'm used to: I'm simply running out of recipes!

It's strange that before today i'd never made a cauliflower soup. It was such a staple of my family's dinner table when i was younger, and it's beautifully simple in it's flavor. This one errs away from cheese and into a slight depth of flavor from the addition of the curry. But i make no pretense that this soup is anything of my own invention, the recipes comes very closely adapted from Australian Woman's Weekly!

Ginger Scallion Noodles with Grilled Chicken

I have great respect for the work of David Chang. I don't really want to write too much about him, lest i become another blogger who rants about the great respect they have for the work of David Chang. Whoops...

Anyway, one of my favorite cookbooks is the Momofuku cookbook. The story it tells, the detail it goes into, is just phenomenal. I really feel that if i go to the effort and obey his directions in the recipe, the dish will definitely turn out amazingly. Unfortunately those directions are often quite laborious and involve difficult-to-find ingredients!

This second dish that i have made from his cookbook is much simpler than the pork belly buns. Really, it's just the sauce for the noodles, and then you layer what you like ontop. My mum normally doesn't like egg noodles like this, but because the sauce does not weigh down the dish, and is quite light, she was converted.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mars Bar Steamed Buns

o I've been dwelling on creating a different type of bao for a while now... trying to make my own twist of the epitome of steamed buns, the char siu bao that is obligatory at any number of yum cha establishments. The fluffy bun with the salty sweet pork, mmm, so delicious! But i was looking for something a little more refined, a little more savory, a little more, complex...

So how did i end up at mars bar steamed buns! I was so set on making bao using a filling i'd normally use in sang choy bao, with complex textures of crisp, crunchy, soft, etc, but then i was looking over a fish and chip shop menu and saw it there, my muse... the deep fried mars bar! Like a lightning bolt to the brain my synapses lit up at once and rather than funneling the energy into some sort of craving-induced coma it exposed itself as an idea - mars bar bao! And so it began.

The result was mixed. The Snickers bao i made first didn't carry that unctuous gooey deliciousness i wanted. But the mars bars, with their cavalier disregard for the nut, had the right texture. The buns themselves were fluffy but not sweet enough, so for the recipe below i've doubled the sugar content in the bun.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Niu Rou Mien

I am told that niu rou mian, or Taiwanese beef noodle soup, is one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan. As with all such popular dishes, there are devotees out there who will probably scowl at this recipe and say 'thats not how you do it!' I've seen versions that cook the broth and the serving meat seperately, similar to the pho i made, and i can see benefits to both courses of action. In this case i've opted for simplicity. With it's spicy ginger and star anise it reminds me of a less refined, more hearty version of Vietnam's eponymous beef pho. My dad actually preferred the richness of this dish. 

There is a school of thought out there that devotes possibly too much effort to the making of a clear broth. Unfortunately i am of that school! And whilst i'm yet to get to the obscenely clear broths of some of the experts out there, i can offer some handy hints to newbies on how to make their broth not cloudy:
  • Always start with cold water and raise the temperature of the broth slowly
  • Try not to bring a broth to the boil as this is rough on the proteins in your food and causes clouds
  • Skim the surface of your broth regularly. You might think you can do this later but by that time the scum would have reintegrated back into the soup in tiny particles.
  • When draining your stock, do so gently and do not press out the liquid, just let it sit

There are more methods incorporating freezing, egg whites and much more! I'll let you know when i try them. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Penne with Lamb Shank & Swiss Brown Mushroom Ragout

In case you can't tell, i'm really getting into mushrooms lately. There' something in them that you cannot substitute, something in the rich umami flavor that has lately stuck in my mind, drawing me to make more mushroom dishes! And this comes from a guy who, in his younger days, could not stand mushrooms. Years of eating only your standard field mushrooms, always reduced down to a ridiculously strong flavor through grilling, or pizza toppings, made me detest the humble mushroom. Since then my palate has grown but i still never use regular mushrooms in cooking, finding their flavor to be a bit too harsh.

And so in comes the swiss brown. Whilst i normally gravitate towards mushrooms suited to Asian cooking, such as enoki, shiitake (my favorite) and oyster, these mushrooms simply aren't well suited to the Italian richness of a ragu. Swiss browns are a close relative to the standard mushroom but with a more earthy flavor. Their texture is also a touch firmer so they stand well to the rigor i put them through in this dish.

Note that in this dish i take the meat off the shank before i cook; this is simply because i forgot to get them cut to fit in my dish! In an ideal world, put the whole shank in the pot. 

Caramelized Apples with Crushed Toasted Almonds and burnt butter sauce

Sometimes, you just need some lovin'! And when the bareness of the fridge makes you frown, you turn to the fruit bowl and sigh. Fear not, salvation is at hand. This dish is so easy to make, and has ingredients that are typically floating around the home (double cream, maybe not - i was lucky!). If you like apple crumble, this is the simpleton's version for when you want crumble and you WANT IT NOW.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Braised Beef Cheeks with Beetroot Gnocchi

This recipe came originally from a website dedicated to the brilliance that is Canberra, can you believe it? I originally found it when trawling the web to find a good recipe incorporating beetroot gnocchi! This dish certainly looks fancy and is sure to impress, but it stressed the heck out of me in the kitchen! Lots of stuff going on at once. Don't attempt without at least 3 burners!

Beef cheeks are available at many butchers if you don't ask. A secondary cut of meat that is gaining in popularity, it is rich and riddled with tendons and marbled fat and obviously requires extended cooking to bring out it's succulent beauty.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moqueca de Peixe

I've only really tried making Brazilian cuisine once before, but have certainly noticed as trend in Brazilian food for fresh tangy flavours, almost always incorporating lime. This prawn stew is no exception, and leans closely on the Asian flavors that i adore (coconut, chilli, etc).


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