Thanks Campion and Curtis!

Thankyou to Allan Campion who included a link to this blog in his most recent Newsletter.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Tempura Battered Fish with 3 Soy Dipping Sauce, Taro Chips and Sesame Salt

This recipe is the on the front cover of the book. Probably because it's so visually impressive and looks so slightly unusual. This is basically Fish N Chips, but as usual, Ezard puts his on twist on it to make it completely different and his own.
To start off with, your fish isn't fried in any old batter it's Tempura batter. For that matter, it's not actually your regualar Tempura batter, either the batter contains lemon juice and lime juice, instead of soda water to give it a definate zing!

Your chips aren't normal chips, but they're deep fried Taro chips, which are finely shredded our julienned. You've also got nice little Taro chips to Garnish. These taste almost exactly like potato chips, but look amazing! The whole dish is seasoned with sesaame salt, which you make yourself by toasting some sesame seeds and pounding them up with sea salt. You also sift a small amount of icing sugar over the top of it all, which gives it a hint of sweetness, balancing out the saltiness and sourness from the lime served on the side.
The best fish to use for this one is Flathead tails as they are a nice short shape and are quick to cook when deep fried.
This dish is outstanding, I've made it on a number of occassions and everyone has loved it. Note the limes, which have been wrapped in muslin, so that when you squeeze it, it stops the pips from going into your food. Brilliant!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cured Salmon Stack with Lattice Chips, Yarra Valley Salmon Pearls, Creme Fraiche and Citrus Oil

This is one amazing looking dish! Not only does it look amazing, but it's certainly a treat to eat! So many different flavours and textures, all on one plate, but they all mesh together so well.
To be honest, I didn't know exactly what 'curing' was or what it exactly involved before making this dish, but now I understand completely and am kind of annoyed that I hadn't ever tried it before.

To cure your Salmon, you need to be prepared and start the process 36 hours before you want to serve the dish. Basically you just mix together Rock Salt, Rock Sugar, Vodka and Dill and pat it onto the flesh side of the Salmon. Then place the Salmon, flesh side down on your plate and cover with glad wrap and maybe put a plate on top to keep some weight on there and place in the fridge. When you come back in 36 hours, you'll find that you have a plate full of liquid. This is because the salt has drawn a great deal of the liquid out of the Salmon flesh. You need to rinse your fillet under running water to remove the curing mix and then slice the Salmon, finely at an angle. You will find that the Salmon has dried out slightly and tastes perfectly seasoned. You'll also taste a hint of sweetness and some Dill.

For your Citrus Oil, you'll need to dry out some Lemon, Lime and Orange peel in the oven overnight and then blend it up with some Olive Oil.

The recipe calls for Lattice Chips, but unfortunately I didn't really want to spend $20 on a new attachment for my V-Slicer, just for this recipe, so I just used the thinnest setting on my slicer to slice the chips instead. Once sliced, you just deep fry them until crispy and golden.

From here, you just Zig Zag some Creme Fraiche on your plate, place a potato chip on the plate and start alternating with Salmon pieces, Creme Fraiche and Dill, then repeat 3 or 4 times. Drizzle some Citrus Oil around the plate and scatter some Yarra Valley Salmon Pearls.

How beautiful does this dish look! It's so tasty too! The crunchiness of the chips, the saltiness of the salmon, which is balanced out by the softness of the Creme Fraiche and the tangy, pop of the Salmon pearls are all outstanding! This dish has to be one of my favourites.

Roasted Barramundi with a Red Salad of Baby Beets, Grapefruit, Radicchio, Capers and Marinated Goat's Fetta and Fresh Herb Dressing

Well, that's got to be the longest name for a dish, ever! You'd think with a name like that, the dish would be so intricate and detailed to put together, but not this one. This is a very wintry dish, not because it's warming or comfort food, more because all the ingredients are available around the cooler months.

You start off by roasting your Baby Beets in a dressing of Olive Oil, Balsamic and Brown Sugar. Roast them until soft, sticky and almost caramelized on the outside.

Your red salad is made up of things that are all pretty much red. The Baby Beets, Shredded Radicchio, Ruby Grapefruit and then the non red ingredients, Capers and Marinated Goats Fetta. Instead of Goats Fetta, I substituted Yarra Valley Marinated Persian Fetta, my favourite!

Unfortunately, not one seafood stall at the Vic Market had any Barramundi at all, which was a little unusual. It wasn't that they were sold out, it was just that they didn't have any anywhere! So, I had to make do with another firm, white fleshed fish, the trusty old Blue Eye.

The final part of this dish is the fresh herb oil. You basically just blitz some Parsley, Basil and Mint with a few Capers. This is just to drizzle around the plate at the end.

The colours of this dish are amazing! The green of the oil, the red of the salad and the white of the fish, it's just gorgeous! Unfortunately, the flavours aren't as exciting as I'd hoped. Of course it's tasty, but it's one of the more uninteresting dishes featured in this book. A lot of the other dishes smack you around the head and wake your taste buds right up! But this one is much more mellow and if anything it's the marinated cheese and the Balsamic on the Beet's that give this dish it's kick.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Five Spice Creme Brulee with Pear Chips and Spicy Sugar

This one took me two goes, because the first time I made it, I made put too much liquid into each bowl, so they never actually set. On the second attempt, I halved the amount I put into the bowls and it set perfectly! I actually had to make the pear chips twice as well. The first time I made them, they were perfect, however, I left them out too long and they went soft again. When I made them the second time, I left them overnight in the oven, but it appears this time it was too high and the pears went dark brown. A little too dark, but not quite burnt. Unfortunately I didn't have time to make them again, so I just used these ones.
The Creme Brulee tasted great. Even though the idea of a Five Spiced Creme Brulee probably sounds weird to a lot of people. It really does work quite well.
I even went out and purchased a domestic blow torch which works a treat! The Creme Brulee had the perfect amount of toffee on the top.
It took a couple of goes, but it really was a success!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Cheddar-Grilled Blue Eye with Panzanella Salad and Olive Oil

Since we're still somewhere near Italy after our delicious Gnocchi and Slow Cooked Lamb, I thought I'd try this nifty little salad with some delicious Blue Eye.
Nothing too out of the ordinary here. This is pretty much your standard Panzanella Salad, but the little tip that Ezard offers, is when you fry your bread cubes, also fry some Rosemary and Garlic in the same fat, to help infuse the flavour into the oil and therefore the bread.

You need to make sure all your Tomato, Cucumber are chopped in nice little cubes. This is where your knife skills that you've been learning will come in handy.

Your fish will require a bit of cooking. You need to fry it first, to crisp up the skin. Then you need to transfer the fish to the oven, until just cooked. You then need to top the fish with the cheddar and grill it til bubbling and golden. I wasn't sure which side to put the cheese on and the recipe didn't specify. So, I made the executive choice of putting it on the flesh side. Normally I would put it on the skin side, but I thought the flesh side up would look a little rounder and different on top of the salad. That's all well and good, but when I grilled the cheese most of it melted off, into the pan.
Place your Panzanella in a large round ring to shape it on the plate. I like to use a little cake ring, without the base. Place the grilled fish on top of your salad and garnish with some parsley. Drizzle some olive oil around the plate and you're done.
Blue eye is a very flakey, soft fleshed fish, so use your delicate hands when moving it about, flipping it over and plating it up, otherwise you could end up with your fish in lots of pieces.
I have to say, that while this fish was tasty, it was the least interesting of the dishes I've made so far. It's a very quick one to put together, so it's handy for impressing at a last minute dinner party. Also, it's pretty cheap to put together, I think it cost approx $30 to serve three people.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks with Creamed White Beans, Gremolata and Watercress Salad

So, what do you cook when you're staying in a modern Farmhouse on acres of farmland in the Yarra Valley? Lamb Shanks of course! Especially when the temperature drops to 7c outside and you have a roaring fire going in the next room - there is nothing better than some slow cooked meat to give you that warm comforting feeling inside.

Before we left for our few days away, I stopped off at a butcher shop in Victoria St, Richmond and picked up 4kg of Beef Bones ($4.50). The recipe calls for Veal Bones, but hey, beef was the best I could do in a hurry. To make your Veal stock, you need to boil and simmer your bones, carrot, celery, onion, etc, for 6 hours. I left this on ticking over on the stove, whilst I was taxi-ing the others around to some gorgeous wineries.
I sourced my Lamb Shanks from Kitchen and Butcher in Healesville. The butcher there raved about them, so I couldn't wait to taste them!

Once you have made your stock, you need to strain it and leave it to cool, removing any fat and scum that rises to the surface. You then need to brown your shanks in a fry pan and then place them in the oven, covered with stock and cook for 3 hours at a low heat. That's about 10 hours of cooking all up for this dish, if you include the stock making.

Instead of Mash, Ezard uses Creamed White Beans. He suggests to use Haricot Beans, but they were nowhere to be found in Healesville, so I just used Cannelini Beans. You basically need to soak them, then boil til soft and then push through a sieve to remove the skins, then mix with cream to make a mash type consistency.

You will need to make a Aioli as well. If you've never made your own mayonnaise before, it's quite easy. Aioli is basically just a flavoured mayonnaise.

If you watched Jamie Oliver's most recent show, where he's in his Country Garden, you would have heard him talking up Gremolata, which is basically herbs, mixed with garlic and lemon zest. Ezard uses this in this dish to coat the Lamb shanks once cooked.

Once you've cooked your Lamb Shanks for the required 3 hours, you'll need to take out some of the liquid and strain it again, then reduce it right down. Once it's reduced, you'll need to add a little cream and reduce again. Be careful, because the sauce is extremely rich at this point. I added a little salt to season and it turned out to be too much. I had to add more water to the sauce to get rid of the saltiness, but once the sauce is reduced, it's hard to get rid of the excess salt, so it's either deal with the saltiness or deal with a runny consistency. I chose the latter.

Finally you'll need to roast some Tomatoes, which are part of the 'Watercress Salad.' It's not really a salad as such, just a Tomato with some Cress on top. Now you're ready to plate up all your ingredients. Basically it's just one on top of the other here. Place some Creamed Beans on the plate, then a Shank, which has been rolled in Gremolata. Place half a Tomato on top and then some Cress. Drizzle some of your sauce around the plate (hopefully it's not too runny like mine!)

As expected, the meat was so soft and tender, it was a struggle to keep it on the bone long enough to make it to the plate! The dish was delicious and perfect in our beautiful country setting. Unfortunately, it did make it a little hard to look the sheep in the eye the next day, that were wandering around the farm!

Potato Gnocchi Gratin with Taleggio, Pear and Roasted Walnuts

Yes, occasionally Ezard does stray away from Asian cookery and on this occasion we venture across to Italy. This dish always seems to be on Ezard's menu at his restaurant, probably more than likely because it's vegetarian. However, there's more to this dish than just being vegetarian, the tastes and textures are fantastic!
Admittedly, I had my doubts about this recipe from the first time I read it. Mainly because there is so much liquid in the Gnocchi dough, which usually makes for a heavy and gluggy finished product, because you need to use so much flour to keep it all together. The flour also enables you to work with the dough without it being too sticky. It wasn't until I made the dough and took it out of the food processor, that I realised how soft and light this Gnocchi was going to be! Here's how:

Boil your potatoes til cooked. I roasted mine, so that I could minimise the liquid in the potatoes(sorry for doubting you Teage!). Then push the potatoes through a sieve to remove all your lumps.

Now, the secret to this recipe is a Roux type mixture of butter, milk and flour.

I then put this Roux mixture into a food processor, along with the potatoes and added some eggs, one by one. This will create a fairly sticky dough. You will need to flour your work surface and your hands and roll this dough into even sausage lengths, similar in thickness.

Cut your sausages of dough into similar bite sized pieces, as I have below.

Now you'll want to make your Taleggio sauce. Mix together Cream and Taleggio Cheese and slowly melt the cheese into the cream over a low heat and reduce slightly. Now you might have noticed that I haven't mentioned Walnuts as yet. Well, that's because I burnt them. Yep, I forgot about them, they were meant to be in the oven for 3 mins, but I left them in for 15. They tasted like burnt popcorn and were unusable, so I left them out of this recipe. I didn't have any spare.

Boil your Gnocchi in salted boiling water, until they rise to the surface. They will puff up slightly when cooked.

Gently mix together your Gnocchi with your Walnuts (if you haven't burnt them), and sliced, peeled pear and place in individual serving dishes or one large one. I only had a large one, so I just used that. Drizzle your Taleggio sauce over the ingredients and then sprinkle some chives over the top and then some Parmesan cheese.

Place your plate under a hot grill until the mixture is golden and bubbling on top and you're done. Garnish with some parsley.

These soft and fluffy pillows of goodness is the best Gnocchi I have ever tasted! If you like Gnocchi, I recommend going out an buying this book, just for this recipe, it's seriously amazing! The best thing is, it's so easy!