Friday, 29 November 2013

deconstructed ' CARROT CAKE .'

Traditional Carrot cake , cream cheese frosting , walnuts & carrot ribbons , Deconstruction - Carrot sponge , Spiced cream cheese , Walnut gelato , Cinnamon shortbread , Walnut praline and Candied carrot strips.

                   Quite often the quota of weekly bananas don't all get eaten in our household and a humble banana loaf gets baked to use them up and gives us something to put in the kids lunches. Well this particular week we seem to have eaten the bananas but doubled up on buying carrots and along with the orange dutch carrots and the purple heirlooms, we have near 6 kg of carrots in the bottom of the fridge. So I thought carrot cake, then I thought carrot sponge and the idea ran from there. Traditionalist versus Modernist in a carrot cake bake showdown, it was a pleasant surprise to find that when I shut my eyes to taste the elements of the deconstruction, I had succeeded in getting the carrot cake flavour despite the textural differences between the two comparatives. Then again I shouldn't really be that surprised as a carrot cake really only has four layers of flavours to capture those being carrot, walnut, cinnamon and cream cheese.                                                                                                                                
                    The preparation of this plate was done in different stages and the first was the walnut gelato which was made the night before allowing enough freezing time. To make this I first soaked walnuts in cold water for half an hour before draining and blending them to a meal. In a saucepan I added milk, cream, eggs and sugar whisking to dissolve the sugar, this was then stirred on simmer for fifteen minutes. The custard mixture was then removed from the heat and the walnut meal added before being poured into a glass container and placed into the freezer, forking to mix every 2-3 hours. While the gelato was freezing I made the candied carrots by thinly slicing carrot placing into simmering sugared water for about ten minutes. These were then drained spread out onto a tray lined with baking paper and oven dried at 100 deg.c. until crisp (about 2 hours).                                                                
                    The next morning I fired up the oven to 160 deg.c. and made a quick batch of shortbread using the trusty recipe I learnt from school (150g flour, 100g butter and 50g sugar), once the cookies were cooked they were allowed to cool before being pulverised and cinnamon sugar added to complete the cinnamon shortbread crumb. In a bowl I creamed eggs and sugar until pale and thick, to this I added vegetable oil, grated carrot and chopped walnuts until well incorporated. To this I then gradually worked in flour, salt,cinnamon, bicarb soda and baking powder, before pouring into a lined loaf tin and baked at 180 deg.c. for about 45-50 mins. Next was to make the carrot sponge, in a bowl I creamed eggs and sugar adding carrot puree, flour and baking powder to make a batter, this was then poured into a lined tin and baked at 160 deg. c. for about 20-25 minutes. Both cakes were cooled on wire racks before being prepared to plate.                                                                                                                  
                     The traditional carrot cake was sliced to portion size and frosted with cream cheese and topped with chopped walnuts. In a small saucepan I quickly blanched off some thin carrot strips, removing them from the heat and placing into an ice water bath. The spiced cream cheese is just simply a little dutch cinnamon swirled through some cream cheese and using a piping bag to present on the plate. The last preparation was the walnut praline of which I simply placed chopped walnuts on to a lined tray, heated some caster sugar in a heavy based saucepan until the sugar dissolved and became an amber colour of which I poured the toffee over the nuts and allowed to cool and harden. This was then smashed into pieces to serve. The carrot sponge was torn into bite size chunks and all the elements were plated and the dish was finished with a little cinnamon sugar.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

' TOMATOES and CHEESE .' appetiser.

Tomato & Cheese Three ways - Sungold tomato roe with basil pesto & parmesan crisp , Smoked red cherry tomato with buffalo milk mozzarella , Sun-dried tomato tapenade with lemon ricotta accompanied by a Chilled tomato consomme. 

                    The tomato totality with three cheeses, is a great opportunity to experience the humble tomato in four different preparations accompanied by three different cheeses. The influences for this dish firstly the fact that fruit is falling off the vines here in abundance, as tomatoes grow particularly well at this time of the year. The second influence is a recipe for 'tomato consomme' that I collected over time coming from the Brett's Wharf kitchen here in Brisbane an iconic seafood restaurant which closed its doors in 2012. This is one of those recipes I've wanted to try but always brushed it off. I've heard of this recipe being done with orange and lemon juice but I quite like Chef Alastair Macleod's version using white wine. Below is a list of all the preparations in executional order.                
     Tomato Consomme - Diced tomatoes were placed in a bowl with a little white wine, golden shallots thinly sliced, a small bunch of basil, salt, sugar and cracked black pepper. The tomato mix was then mushed with my hands to get as much juices out of the tomatoes, this was then strained through layers of cheese cloth into a bowl and repeated several times skimming until the consomme was clear. This was then poured into a shot glass, garnished with skinned, finely diced tomatoes, finely chopped chives and micro basil and thyme leaves, before being chilled in the fridge until plating.                                        
      Lemon Ricotta - In a saucepan I gently heated some milk to just before boiling point then added some freshly squeezed lemon juice to form curds and whey, these were then removed from the heat and the curds were strained through cheese cloth and placed in the fridge for later.                                            
      Tomato Tapenade - To make this I used store bought sun-dried tomatoes as our sun-drying gets done in the summer months our stocks are deplete as we are at the end of the sun-drying calendar year. In a blender I mixed together sun-dried tomatoes, caper berries, black olives, lemon juice, anchovy fillet, cracked black pepper, salt and a little olive oil to form a loose blend (roughly chopped). This was served accompanied by the lemon ricotta.                                                                                                    
       Heirloom tomato roe - This is simply the pulp scooped out of a Sungold heirloom variety, strained of its juices and chilled in the fridge until plating.                                                                                            
        Basil Pesto - This was a late autumn preparation and was made by blending sweet basil, olive oil, toasted pine-nuts, grated parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper until a smooth paste. This being the accompaniment of the tomato roe and served with a parmesan crisp.                                                              
         Parmesan Crisp - This was simply shaved parmesan melted on a baking paper lined tray in a medium to hot oven until colour just started to show and then removed and allowed to cool and harden.                                                          
        Smoked Cherry tomato - The tomato was tea smoked for 4-5 minutes in a combination of green tea, jasmine rice, brown sugar, orange zest and peppercorns, removed from the heat and served along side a thick wedge of buffalo milk mozzarella.                                                                                              
         Tomato powder - This was used to top three of the presentations and is in the photos for individual preparations but it has not been used for the main photo.
          I simply plated the four elements in the four corners of the plate having the two taller preps opposite each other and as to the two shorter preps, this was done to maintain a visual balance.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


Roasted Grass-fed marrow , green oak , dark green oak , baby tatsoi , beetroot leaves , sweet basil , olive oil leaf herb , radish , purple carrot , green shallot and Lemon vinaigrette.

                       So now that we're back in line with the seasons in regards to posts I've been meaning to put this one together with baby leaf salad in abundance, there is no better time. We always have marrow bones on hand, one because of our family jack russell and the other reason is it is such a valuable ingredient in the kitchen to have for finishing sauces making them velvety and rich. Most places serve marrow roasted and plated still in their bones, but marrow still cooked the same way but removed from the bone and accompanied by a vinaigrette pairs well. The acidity of the vinaigrette cuts through the fatty richness of the marrow therefore presents well in a baby leaf salad. Eating marrow from animals bones is very primal and dates back to our pre-human ancestors. Anthropologists believe brain and marrow were one of the first animal proteins consumed regularly, before our distant relatives learnt how to hunt they were scavengers making the most of what was left behind by more skilful predators. Often just a pile of bones with a fat dense interior of rich proteins providing a high calorie food source. This survival techniques in the present day could be considered another way of eating sustainably by using as much of the kill as we can, which makes sense. Just as grass-fed beef tastes better than grain-fed conventionally raised beasts so to the marrow within its bones, so this was my option for this dish as it was to be eaten fairly unadulterated I wanted superior flavoured marrow.              
                          My local butcher stocks the marrow bones and I have them split for me to access the marrow easier. A very simple plate to put together I simply rubbed the bones in olive oil and seasoned them wit salt and pepper before roasting in the oven. Once they were roasted I scooped the marrow from the bone and re-seasoned toping with persian blue salt and finely sliced green shallots. The greens for the salad were washed and tossed in olive oil arranged on the plate with the marrow and some thinly sliced carrot and radish. To compliment the dish I made a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and some cracked black pepper which was drizzled on to the plate to finish.


Saturday, 23 November 2013


Tea smoked Salmon with Soy & Ginger glaze , Soba noodles , shitake mushrooms , Sugar-cane fed Golden oyster mushrooms , pea shoots , wakame shiro miso and toasted sesame seeds.

                        Flavour explosive is how to describe this asian noodle dish. Exploring the flavours of Japan as you go from smokey and saltiness in the cured tea smoked salmon to the sweet spicy soy and ginger glaze and the Unami flavour of the wakame seaweed white miso to the subtle sweet nutty flavours of the oyster mushrooms. I came across the technique of tea smoking or wok smoking about 10 years ago from an article I kept out of the cooking section of the weekend paper. I've seen variations since with different teas and barks and the original recipe had jasmine tea, I used plain green tea for this dish. Tea smoking in my opinion is the quick, practical, and not messy way to smoke food and can be done in a kitchen with hood extraction with just a stock pot or wok with a fitting lid and a wire rack on a stand or legs to fit midway in the pot or wok. The flavour is very close to a cold smoked products if the balance of curing time is right to the size of the product as this effects the overall saltiness and the smoking time as this process is hot smoking or direct smoking the product can become dry if over smoked. For a general rule a 150g portion (15mm thick) should cure between 2-3 hours and be smoked for 6 minutes with 3 of those with heat still on and the remaining 3 minutes with no heat source.
                      Curing the salmon was the starting point to this Japanese flavoured dish. After washing and cutting the fish in to serving size portions I rubbed the salmon in a 50/50 mix of sea salt and sugar and then placed the fish and the salt sugar mix in a ziplock bag in the fridge to cure for a couple of hours. Meanwhile I made start on the soba noodles which are Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour and can be served hot or cold and have a chewy texture if cooked right. The noodles like pasta takes a bit of time, and a began by bringing together one part wheat flour to three parts buckwheat flour with water to form a dough. I then kneaded the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth and then I wrapped the dough in clear film placing in a cool spot to rest for half an hour. Once rested the dough was rolled out using potato starch to 2 mm thick folded in two and cut with a sharp knife into 2 mm strips. The strips were then cooked in batches in a simmering stock of shitake mushroom, miso paste and ginger until just tender before being removed, drained and coated in some sesame oil and set aside for later. To make the glaze I reduced some soy sauce, mirin, sliced ginger and sesame oil until thick, the ginger was removed and the glaze was set aside. Next was to smoke the fish, I set up my smoking vessel over a bbq burner. I do my tea smoking outside and I have a portable hooded charcoal barbecue I use which has legs and can put on any heat source indoor or out. I then made a boat from foil and inside I put the smoking ingredients which consisted of jasmine rice, brown sugar, green tea, peppercorns and the zest of an orange before placing the boat at the bottom of the dry smoker. With the lid on tight I turned the heat on high and filled the vessel with smoke, during this time I rinsed the salmon under cold water removing all the salt brine and pat dry before placing on a rack. Once the smoker was full of smoke I placed the rack of fish in the smoker so it sat about 15 cm from the boat, I then smoked the salmon for 3minutes presentation side down before turning the heat off, flipping the fish and smoking with no heat for a further 3 minutes. The fish was then removed to plate. Just before plating I toasted some sesame seeds in a dry pan to bring out the oils in the seeds and pan fried some shitake and some of my own grown sugar cane fed golden oyster mushrooms in a little peanut oil which is light and used in asian stir-frying.  
                      To plate I made a brush stroke of the Soy and ginger glaze placing the salmon in the middle on a diagonal. The fish was flanked either side with the soba noodles and topped with the glaze, a squiggle of wakame seaweed white miso paste and toasted sesame seeds. The plate was then finished with the mushrooms and a garnish of fresh crunchy pea shoots.


' INSALATA CAPRESE .' antipasto.

Capri style salad of Heirloom Cherry tomatoes , Fresh Buffalo milk mozzarella , Smoked Crostoni Bagnati , Smoked Cypress sea salt , cracked black pepper and micro sweet basil leaves.

                    Theres this little Italian grocers in a neighbouring suburb to my work that I'll sometimes visit. They have great fresh produce, seasonal and top quality along with that a deli with the lot and a section for imported goods mainly Italian for example I get my sherry vinegar from there but they also stock shiraz vinegar, pear cider vinegar, champagne vinegar etc. So to cut a long story short I went there last week to purchase the ingredients for this caprese salad. Insalata Caprese meaning 'salad in the style of capri', which is a part of tuscany, Italy. The caprese salad is sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, basil leaves and served mainly as an 'antipasto' (starter) and not as a 'contomo' (side).        
                 The heirloom cherry tomatoes varieties used in this dish were ( Sungold, Orange roma, Cherry roma, Black cherry and Gardeners delight). To prepare this I simply halved the tomatoes before dressing them in olive oil and seasoned with a little smoked cypress sea salt and cracked black pepper. The mozzarella is made from fresh buffalo milk, the cheese has been imported from Italy frozen in a brine. There was no preparation with the cheese other than slicing to serve. The crostoni bagnati came seasoned with Italian herbs and to give it another flavour layer I tea smoked the bread with a smoke boat made of foil containing green tea, jasmine rice, brown sugar, peppercorns and the zest of an orange for about 5-10 minutes.            
                  To plate I placed some buffalo mozzarella in the centre of the plate, placing the tomatoes and its juices along one side of the cheese and the smoked crostoni on the opposite side garnishing the dish with micro sweet basil leaves.


Friday, 22 November 2013


Tortellini filled with Sand Crab , Queensland Blue pumpkin & Lemon ricotta with Lemon butter sauce , sun-dried tomatoes , salted caper berries , sage leaves and shaved parmesan cheese.

                           I've seen this combination done years ago with these great local Queensland ingredients but only served as a lasagne with a béchamel sauce and without the sun-dried tomatoes, capers, sage and the lemon butter sauce. This is a light tasty treat to serve, show casing Queensland or should I say encasing the Queensland filling in an egg pasta fused with Mediterranean flavoured sauce.
                           To make this I began with the pasta dough bringing together '00' flour and eggs to form a dough, kneading until smooth before wrapping in clear film and placing in a cool place to rest for an hour. While the dough was resting I wrapped cut pumpkin pieces in foil and placed into a 200 deg.c. oven until soft and tender, I then removed the pumpkin from the oven and the foil and mashed them, then setting aside for later. In the mean time a batch of lemon ricotta was made using my usual technique explained in earlier posts, this was then placed in the fridge to chill. For the sand crab, which was bought cooked already I simply de-shelled the crab removing all the meat of which I rinsed in water and shredded. In a bowl I mixed the crab, pumpkin and the ricotta together and set aside. I then rolled the pasta dough out to around 2 mm thick and cut out some rounds with an upturned glass, in the centre of each pasta round I placed a teaspoon of filling and brushed the edges of the pasta with water. Folding the round in my hands in half to form a semi circle and pinching the edges together to seal. The two bottom points of the half circle were then bent around and joined to form the tortellini. I did this with the remaining pasta circles before placing them into salted rolling boiling water and cooking for 3-5 minutes, the tortellini were then drained and set aside. In a saucepan I melted some butter with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and chopped sage. To this I added the tortellini and some lemon juice and coated the pasta.                              
                          To serve I placed three tortellini in a row in the centre of the plate with the middle pasta laying own flat. I then spooned the lemon butter sauce over the top making sure to dish out some of the sun-dried tomatoes and chopped sage. I then scattered some persian blue sea salted caper berries, shaved some parmesan cheese and on the middle pasta placed fresh sage leaves on top to garnish.


Spaghetto of Vodka & Caviar with Sweet Onion & Parmesan cream sauce , Black Lumpfish Caviar , and Green shallots.

                             This my take or should I say my re-construction of Rome's little light and simple, yet elegant after theatre midnight pasta 'spaghettini con vodka e caviale' which translates as 'spaghettini with vodka and caviar'. The concept of the traditional dish came from a book I own 'Fish & shellfish' by Linda Doeser and is a comprehensive seafood bible. I've made the traditional meal a few times before and the combination is exquisite, so with some left over lumpfish caviar floating around the fridge (the true inspiration for this dish) I wanted to try a modern cuisine interpretation of this plate.Traditionally the meal is made by tossing cooked spaghettini through a sauce of saute shallots, caviar, vodka and cream before being plated and topped with more caviar and shaved parmesan cheese. My version consists of vodka and caviar molecular agar spaghetti and sweet onion and parmesan cream sauce to mimic the entire flavours of the traditional dish with a different construction and presentation.          
                             To make my dish I started by preparing the agar spaghetti, using the method described for molecular spaghetti in previous post 'Heirloom tomatoes part 2'. In brief I blended vodka and caviar together to for smooth liquid to which I added agar agar at 1.6% and placed in a saucepan. This was brought to the simmer whisking to dissolve the agar and removed from the heat, skimmed of any froth or solid matter. The vodka caviar liquid was then pumped into a coiled half meter length of 5 mm clear plastic tubing with a 3 mm nozzle syringe and once filled placed into an ice water bath to set. The spaghetto once set (after 3-5 minutes) was extruded out of the tubing by blowing air up one end of the tube with the same size syringe, expelling the spaghetto in one piece to be set aside for later. The sauce was the next preparation and this was made by sweating some finely chopped shallots (white end) in some butter before removing and blitzing to a puree and returning to the saucepan adding some cream and this was brought to a simmer and reduced. Once the sauce had reduced I seasoned with salt and pepper, added some grated parmesan cheese stirring to melt the cheese through the sauce.                  
                             To plate this after theatre elegance I swiped some sweet onion and parmesan cream sauce onto the the plate with the back of a spoon placing some chopped green shallots in a pile at one end of the sauce and spiralling the vodka and caviar spaghetto at the other end filled with lumpfish caviar and garnished with some sliced green shallots.


Egg pasta Ravioli of Beetroot & Fresh milk Ricotta with Poppy Seed Butter , pickled beets , baby beetroot leaves and shaved parmesan cheese . 

                         This is the last of my winter catch up posts with this one using that fantastic root vegetable full of sweet earthy flavours that pairs up with almost anything. This dish can be put together in around an hour and makes a great little Italian appetiser for a lunch or dinner menu. Although very quick and easy to put together, there are a few preps that require an hour or so.                                                      
                          So for this little appetiser I began by washing and wrapping some beets in foil and placing in a 200 deg.c oven for about one hour or until they were soft before un-wrapping and allowing to cool. The beets were then peeled and grated and set aside reserving some of the beet to pickle. While the beets were steaming I made the fresh milk ricotta by heating some milk until just before boiling point then adding lemon juice to form curds which were then drained and strained through cheese cloth and placed in the fridge to chill and firm. The pasta dough was next and I made this by bringing together '00' flour and eggs to form a dough, kneading until smooth and then I wrapped the dough in clear film and placed in a cool place to rest for an hour. The dough was then rolled out to 2 mm thick and the ravioli circles were cut out using  a dough cutter, a mixture of the beets and ricotta were placed in the middle of each round and the edge of the dough was brushed with a little water before placing another round on top to form the lid. The edges were pressed together and using a fork I sealed the edge making fork indentations around the trim. The pasta was then cooked in rolling salted boiling water for 3 minutes before straining and setting aside to plate. To make the sauce I melted some butter with poppy seeds in a saucepan.                              
                           To plate this I placed the ravioli in the centre of the plate cutting one in half for presentation, I then spooned over the poppy seed butter on top of the ravioli. I dressed the pasta with a few baby beetroot leaves and shaved some parmesan cheese, with some of the reserved grated beet I pickled them in white wine vinegar, salt, sugar and water and garnished the plate.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Chocolate & Vanilla Quinoa milk panna cottas , Chia & quinoa milk pudding , chocolate sauce , granola of  (chia seeds , quinoa flakes & honey) , shaved chocolate and chia seeds. 

                             The building blocks of a healthy inca diet has made it to our plates here in modern civilisation and has been all the rage. In particular Quinoa for its gluten free option in grains but the little  tiny blotted seed they call chia is packed with nutritional reasons why it should be the 'be all'. Below is a chart pictured with some comparisons of chia to other nutritional foods, this is at least 9 reasons listed why we should all eat the chia seed. My first experience with chia seeds was in a restaurant back in the early 90's , turning up to shift hung over was not un-common and one particular saturday morning my restaurant manager Pushbinder gave me a sachet of seeds and said "next time you want to drink have these, one spoon in water and soak before you drink this will help you, but for now pleasure is pain I am sorry Robert." The seeds worked very well as a stomach liner they swell and become gelatinous when soaked in water. But at the time were extremely rare, expensive and only available from an indian grocer 100 km. away. Last year I had a go at growing the plant (pictured below) with some great success. The plant grows to about 2m tall and can take over the area its growing in. In terms of post harvest this is a very finicky process which starts with the threshing of the seed heads and then the removal of debris from the seeds. The seeds used for this recipe are some of the rewards of last years harvest. The inspiration for the lego blocks was an extension of the idea of having building blocks of nutrition and where I sit and think in the back room of the house I'm surrounded by blocks from the sons lego collection.
                             I began this dish by first making the quinoa milk and the chia and quinoa milk pudding which was simple made by soaking chia seeds in quinoa milk over night. To make the quinoa milk I cooked the grain in water until all the water had absorbed. The quinoa was then placed in a blender with more water and blended to a milk consistency, this was then strained through muslin cloth and chilled. To make the panna cotta I first had to make the lego mould which was done by boiling 4% gellan gum in water and pouring into a container. Just as the water starts to set I placed the pieces of oiled lego into the surface of the gel, this was then placed in the fridge to completely set around the lego. Once the mould was firm to touch the lego was removed leaving the imprint in the gel. To make the panna cotta I heated some cream, quinoa milk, sugar and 1% agar agar to a simmer whisking to dissolve the agar , before removing from the heat and dividing in half. A paste was made from a little quinoa milk and cocoa powder this was then added to one of the panna cotta mixes these were then poured into the lego gellan gum mould and placed in the fridge to chill and set. The granola which adds a little crunch to the taster was made by combining quinoa flakes, chia seeds and honey, spreading the mix on a baking paper lined tray and baked at 200 deg.c. until golden before being removed to cool and harden. Once the biscuit had hardened I broke it up into pieces to serve. The chocolate sauce is simply chocolate with a little melted butter.                                                                                                                
                              To plate up I began by painting some sauce on the plate with a brush before placing the panna cottas on top with the chia pudding to accompany garnished with a cinnamon myrtle flower. Next I scattered the granola and chia seeds, topping the lego with shaved chocolate. The building blocks of three ancient civilisations the mayan, aztecs and incas. Chia, Chocolate & Quinoa.

Friday, 15 November 2013


Chocolate doughnut with Blood orange glaze & jam filling , Blood orange baked in syrup , Plain Chocolate doughnut , Orange Chocolate truffle & milk chocolate shavings , Blood orange syrup , gel & candied orange peel.

                   This the third in 'chocolate pairings' was another impulse buy that sparked the construction of this dish. Wondering through a grocers on the inner north side of the city a stumbled across these late season blood oranges from Western Australia. So I grabbed one and saw some early season figs with a price tag of $59.99 / kg., and walked straight pass them. My doughnut recipe is based on an the old portuguese doughnuts called Malasadas, introduced to Hawaii by labourers of the Madeira Islands. This is yeast risen dough with the addition of chocolate and a blood orange glaze.                                          
                     I started by making the dough by culturing some yeast in a little warm water and sugar for about 5 minutes, until frothy and bubbly. I then placed eggs in a bowl and whisked until pale and thick, to this I added the yeast mix, melted butter, milk, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and mixed to combine. I then gradually added '00' flour to form a moist but not sticky dough before being wrapped in clear film and set a side to double in size (about 2 hours). The dough was then rolled out to 10 mm. thick and portion into small rounds and deep fried, drained, cooled then injected with blood orange gel and triple dipped into blood orange glazing. The glazing was made by thinly slicing 5 mm. thick slices of orange and they were kept aside for a later preparation, with the rest of the orange I juiced keeping some for the gel and with the rest I combined with icing sugar, corn syrup, melted butter and thick cream to form a slurry for the doughnuts to be triple glazed. To make the gel I mixed the reserved juice and some gellan gum in a bowl to form a paste. The blood orange slices were blanched in simmering water before being placed in to a saucepan of simmering simple syrup for about 20 minutes until a little transparent, the slices were then placed on tray lined with baking paper in a 140 deg. c. oven to candy up and the syrup reserved for serving. The chocolate truffle was made by mixing together some melted butter and chocolate with a little blood orange juice and some thickened cream, this was then formed into a ball and chilled in the fridge. The candied peel came from my stores, leftovers of another dish.
                     To plate this I started smearing some blood orange syrup and the glaze on the plate, placing the bake blood orange at one end and the doughnut at the other, each topped with candied orange peel, with the truffle in between. The plate was then garnished with torn up plain chocolate doughnut pieces, candied peel, shaved milk chocolate and the blood orange gel.



Saturday, 9 November 2013

' mauritian TABLE HORS D'OEUVRES .'

Mauritian Hors d'oeuvres of Pate de foie poulet, Achard de legumineuses sur une baguette and Mazavaroo avec riz cuit a' la vapeur. ( Translates :- Mauritian hors d'oeuvres of Chicken liver pate, Pickled vegetables on a baguette and Chilli prawn paste with steamed rice. )

                     Where do I begin with this one, this is my roots, my food history, the culture passed on from generations. My mother being Mauritian born from a rather large family that migrated to Australia in the 60's and this Mozzie ( Mauritian-Ozzie ) family filled with culture, language and food was my up bringing as a child. As I spent portions of my early childhood being looked after during school hours by my grandparents, it wasn't 'close the door' it was 'fermer la port', or 'eat' it was 'manger', most lunches had achard in it and a jar would go home with me for mum. Granddad  was the cook and for the big family do's, the lunch table always had mazavaroo and achard. The main reason for my passion for food and cooking is my Mum, she was my one and only influence and drive. My admiration for her self taught repertoire of recipes, her want for knowledge and her ability to cook any style. I've seen Mum make the most divine of profiteroles to the most freshest of thai dishes. My my is a food lover at its best and has traveled for food in the past, on her last trip she brought me back a jar of Tartufella from a town called Assisi in Italy. Tartufella is a mix of minced mushrooms, truffle, truffle oil and olive oil. This dish of table hors d'oeuvres, called this as you sit down to eat them, as appeased to being 'butlered', is my take on the families cultural food heritage in honour of Mum.                                                                    
                        All three of these preparations have been made in advance and as for the achard (pickle) this was made around july-august some time. This like sauerkraut are fantastic preserving methods of the winter harvest that have been passed to me from both my paternal and maternal blood lines.                  
     Achard de legumes- to make this I prepped the vegetables first, thinly slicing cabbage, julienne of carrot, french beans were sliced lengthwise and I broke up cauliflower into tiny florets. Then I blanched the vegetables in salted boiling water, drained and set aside. In a bowl I blended together mustard seeds,  turmeric powder with crushed garlic and a little water to form a paste. I then heated some mustard oil frying finely diced onions until transparent, to which I added the paste and some salt, stir frying for a minute before adding the vegetables, small whole green chillies and mixing until well coated. I then removed this from the heat, allowed it to cool added a little vinegar before I spooned the mix into sterilised jars and sealed placing in the fridge to mature for at least three weeks.  
      Mazavaroo- this traditional mauritian condiment served with rice was made by de-stemming and roughly chopping some red chillies and onion. I then soaked dried prawns (chevrettes) in hot water until soft, draining all the water and discarded any shells. In a blender I added the prawns, chillies, onion, some crushed ginger, lemon juice and a little white wine vinegar and mixed to form a paste. In a pan I heated some oil and stir fried the paste, allowing all the moisture to evaporate then cooking for a further minute, stirring constantly so it didn't burn the paste. This was then allowed to cool before storing in the fridge in sealed jars.            
       Pate- this chicken liver pate is delicious and fairly cheap, picking up livers for about $2. First I washed and trimmed the livers of any fat as this is where the animal stores toxins, in the fat cells and I also removed any discolouration. These were then pat dried and sautéed in butter and minced garlic until brown and caramelised on the outside but slightly pinkish in the centre. Allowed to cool, the livers and all its buttery cooking juices were placed into a blender and mixed to a paste. With the motor still running I poured in some cream and then some champagne, and blended to incorporate. I then seasoned with sugar, salt and pepper before pouring into moulds, covering with clear film and placed in the fridge to chill and set. I then melted some butter and poured this over the pate to seal placing back into the fridge overnight to fully set.
                    To serve I sliced some baguette and with some I simply buttered to go with the achard, and with the rest I toasted with olive oil drizzled on top and a little persian blue salt, this went with the pate.  To accompany the mazavaroo paste I steamed some white rice, and added some little green chillies, fresh thyme and pink salt to garnish and finish the dish.