Saturday, 30 April 2011

Waitete Bay -Coromandel

We spent the Easter break away with friends at Waitete Bay in the Coromandel Penisula.  What a devine spot.

All the kids had a great time, as you can see.  The girls on the paddle board.

Ben successfully launching a beach start with 1 ski.  Georgie waiting patiently, or not for her turn.

Some of the kids in the spa.  What a tough life.  Awesome view.

The big boys went out fishing and caught trillions but brought back 26 snapper beauties.

Chris enjoying the filleting.

We ate some sashimi style with tamari soy sauce and fried up the rest with panko crumbs, butter, seasalt and lemon.  Just heavenly.  Unfortunately didn't take any pics as completely forgot,  must have got side tracked with the anticipation.  It was just heavenly.

And to top it all off a magnificent sunset to boot.

Hope to go back soon.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Quince Jelly

This is the first time I have cooked with quince.  I have always been intriqued and have often bought them when they are in season.  They have just stayed on the bench till they become unsightly and get thrown away eventually.  This time I made the effort and definately well worth it.

Take 3 medium sized quince wash the skins of there downy texture and chopped and core.
I added enough cold water to cover them about an inch.

Bring to the boil and them simmer for about 45mins to an hour or once they get squashy with a masher.
Then mash.  The consistency should be a little thinner than stewed apple.

Strain through several layers of muslin.  It takes about 4 hours to get out every last drop.

Ball up and twist the muslin and add some weights to get out every last drop.
I used the mortar and pestle among other things.

This is the lovely nectar that results.

Measure the amount, as for every cup of juice you have, add 1 small cup of sugar.
Bring to the boil and simmer.  It takes about 1 and 1/2 hours.  The longer it simmers the more it reduces and the colour intensifies.  After awhile the sugar liquid ratio becomes just so and it starts to bubble like lava.  This is a good sign that it is nearly there.

I had just over 4 cups of quince juice and it reduced to 2 cups of quince jelly.
The quince jelly I made below is really intensely red and clear.  The texture is very firm but still has a sticky quality.  Now that I know what I am doing (sort of) I would not have left it is long.  I would have preferred it to be less firm (more like a thick runny honey) and a softer pink colour.  The darker it becomes the sweeter it gets.

I love to eat quince jelly with cheese and crackers.  The flavour is just heaven and the colour like no other.  I will find other uses for it.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Pumpkin soup

I used the beef stock that I made in the last post as the basis for this soup.

Use 1 whole buttercup pumpkin.  Remove the skin and seeds and roughly chop.

Chop 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic and gently saute using garlic oil  or any other oil you feel like, along with 6 kaffir lime leaves and some maldon salt.  Cook for about 15mins.

Then add enough beef stock to just cover the pumpkin.(probably 2 or 3 cups).  Bring to the boil and simmer till the pumpkin is soft.  Add 1 cup of rinsed red lentils.  I only added them because I had them.  I don't know if it really added to the flavour or not,  I guess it added some texture.  Simmer for further 20mins to cook the lentils.  Then add one teaspoon of brown sugar or palm sugar, if you have it to bring out the sweetness of the pumpkin.  I also add a few shakes of fish  sauce.

Once all cooked and cooled a little ,blitz in a blender to get a nice smooth consistency.
Serve with some coriander flowers and a squeeze of lime.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Beef stock

From this to...

this...     Beef stock is not hard to make but it is time consuming.  I love making it and chicken stock as well.  The slow cooker is perfect for making stock as it doesn,t evaporate like cooking it on the stove top.
The slow cooking extracts all the flavours from the meat and vegetables.

Roast some beef bones, I think I used about a kilo, with 1 to 2 carrots and 1 to 2 onions. I used one of each as that is all I had.  Add some tomato paste, some olive oil and lots of salt.  Roast for about 30 mins in a 180 degree oven.  Turn over and baste bones half way through.

Once cooked (should be nice and golden and carmelised) put the beef bones and vegetables and all the good bits left in the pan into the slow cooker.  Add enough water to cover and put on high for 6 hours and then another 6 on low.  Preferably overnight.  I also added some celery at this stage.  You can also add some herbs, like thyme, parsley and bay leaf.  I didn't as I had none on hand.

Strain the stock and extract as much of the juices from the meat and vegetables using a sieve.  Put into a container and then into the fridge overnight so the fat can rise to the top and solidify,  making it really easy to get rid of all the fat.  The stock itself will be quite gelatinous.

If you want an extra clear broth like consomme, put the stock back into a pot and gently heat till the stock loses its gelatinous quality.  It should be still  cold. At this point I taste and check the seasoning and add some salt, it doesn't really need much as there was salt added to the bones at the roasting phase. Whisk 4 egg whites till frothy and add to the cold stock.

Bring the stock to a gentle simmer and let it do its miraculous stuff for about 30 mins.  It starts to look quite repulsive and lava like.  Don't worry as all the goodness is under the egg white raft.  Do not disturb the raft as its simmering.

After the 30 mins, strain the scum of the top.  I strained it a couple of times finishing off with a piece of muslin to filter out the fine bits.

And viola... beautiful clear golden stock.  Now, what am I going to use it for....endless possibilities..

Probably for pumpkin soup.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mexican inspired pork stew

I sort of just made this up as I went along.

I bought a piece of pork shoulder from the 'Pork Butcher' skin on approx. 1.5kg.
I chopped it into bite sized pieces and sauted till nice and golden in olive oil in batches and removed from the pan.  Keep the heat at medium as to not create any burnt spots as this will spoil the overall taste of the stew. 

Then  finely slice 3 to 4 medium sized onions, 4 cloves of garlic and 3 peppers chopped widely into strips,  salt and pepper and brown off with olive oil till softened.  Cook this in the same pan that the meat was cooked in.  Cook on a gentle heat.  Deglaze with whatever you have on hand.  I used red wine, but white wine, stock or water will do the trick to release the tasty sticky bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add 2 cans of tinned whole or chopped tomatoes, 3 to 4 Chilpotle chillies in adobados sauce.  I have just discovered these.  I love the heat and the smokiness of these potent chillies.  I use the 'Morena' brand. 
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and some more salt to balance the sauce.   Also a bay leaf or 2 would n't hurt either.
Return the pork to the vege mixture.
Meanwhile you have pre heated the oven to about 150 degree C.
Bring the pan to a vigorous simmer and place into the oven with the lid on.
Let braise for an hour and bring out and give it a look and a stir.. then put it back in the oven for about another hour.  By this time the meat should be beautifully tender and the sauce will sticky and unctuous.
Taste and fine tune the seasoning.
It should be meaty sweet and smoky hot.

Any green herb on top, basil, coriander,parsley will work heavenly.  I used parsley as that was at hand.  Considering it now I probably should have gone out to the garden and  picked some coriander.
You could serve this with rice or buttery mashed potatoes.  I could n't be bothered peeling potatoes so we went with some ciabatta bread, not particularly Mexican but nonetheless yummy, especially when accompanied by guacamole and sour cream.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Garlic Confit

Garlic confit is so delicious and as always really easy to make.. Chop the tops off 4 or 5 bulbs of garlic depending on the size of the pot.

Cover the garlic with a plain flavoured oil, I have used canola oil.  Just enough to go over the top.

Gently bring to the boil on your lowest setting on the stove top and then turn it off.  Turn it back on again and let it bubble away very slowly for about 3 to 5 minutes.  It will colour really quickly if you are not careful.  Turn it off again.  Repeat the the process several times over a couple of hours.  You want the garlic to cook and to develop the flavour really slowly.

Once you have the desired colour which is a deep golden and the cloves are still soft, not little rocks, turn off the heat and allow bulbs to cool in the oil.

Once cool, pop the clove out of the paper using the end of a teaspoon.  Find a small jar and pour a little of the oil to cover.  Strain the remaining oil using a fine sieve and store in a clean bottle.
The garlic and the oil are sublime, mellow and extremely moorish.

Use the garlic as part of an antipasto plate, spread it on a sandwich, add it to soups or stew or eat straight from the jar.  I use the garlic oil in Finns stirfries that I make for his school lunches.