Friday, November 18, 2011

Fish and Prawn Cakes with Macadamias and Mint Yoghurt

Fish and Prawn Cakes with Macadamias and Mint Yoghurt

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Skills needed: Intermediate

Serves 4
100g (2/3 cup) roasted macadamia nuts,
finely chopped  
500g uncooked king prawns  
400g boneless fish fillets      
½ small onion, finely chopped  
1 tbs green curry paste   
2 tbs lemon juice  
2 tbs chopped coriander leaves 
1 tbs olive oil
½ cup plain yoghurt
1 ½ tbs chopped mint



Method

Peel and devein the prawns. Chop the prawns and fish roughly. Combine in a food processor and blend until roughly chopped, remove.
Add the nuts, onion, curry paste, lemon juice and coriander to the fish mixture. Press the mixture together, divide into 8 and roll into patties.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add 4 of the patties and cook on medium for 1 minute on each side or until just cooked through. Repeat with the remaining patties.
Serve with combined yoghurt and mint.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Delice with Salted Caramel


Alright, so finally I found the time to recreate my 10/10 dessert from the Celebrity Master Chef Series.
The main reason I wanted to put this recipe up was because I heard a lot of people tried the recipe off the Master Chef website, and that it didn't work. 
After checking the website it turns out they had missed a few key methods and mixed up some ingredients! So lets get the record straight! This is what you will need to do.... Don't be afraid by the amount of things you need to do, you do it all one at a time and bring it all together at the end. Just time consuming! On Master Chef I got it done in 2 & 1/2 hours, but I was using a blast chiller (very quick at cooling down). When I made this recipe it took roughly 6 hours on and off, there is a bit of down time while you wait for things to freeze and set. You could always do a few things the day before too, which I will let you know in the steps! Also make sure you read the full recipe first and understand how it goes together to get best results. Happy Cooking!!!

Ingredients:

Creme Brulee:
375g Thickened Cream
135g Milk
1 Vanilla Pod
7 Egg Yolks
1 Whole egg
60g CSR caster sugar

Biscuit Base
250g Plain Flour
150g Unsalted butter
100g CSR caster sugar
1g Salt (big pinch)
1 Egg

Choco Cream
190g Thickened cream
190g water
150g CSR caster sugar
60g Dark cocoa powder
125g Dark Chocolate (64% - 70%)
15f Leaf Gelatine (I used standard leaf from a gourmet super market, could use gold or titanium strength)

Base Delice
400g Choco Cream (Made as above)
350g Whipped thickened cream

Chocolate Glaze
340g Dark Chocolate (64% - 70%) chopped
230g Thickened cream
165g Light corn syrup (can substitute glucose syrup if you cant find corn syrup)

Toasted Almond Flakes
75g Almond flakes

White chocolate stripes
150g White chocolate buttons

Salted Caramel Sauce
250g CSR caster sugar
25g water
150ml Thickened cream
150g Unsalted butter
Maldon salt to taste

Special items needed:
Cookie cutters and cake rings of the same size (mine were about 12cm in width, but it is still the same process regardless of size - you will just have more to eat!!)
Blow torch - will make things easier but you can get away without it.
Bain Maire - A smaller pan that fits inside larger pan and acts as a water bath. see pics below

Example of Bain-Marie
Step 1 - Prepare the Creme Brulee:


Preheat the oven to 140c

Bring the cream, milk and vanilla pod (cut in half and seeds scraped out) to the boil.

Whisk eggs and sugar together.

Remove the vanilla pods from the cream mixture and slowly whisk in to the egg and sugar mixture. Make sure it is just a little cream at a time 
Fill creme brulee pan and pour in
boiling water to 3/4 up the side
otherwise the eggs will scramble.

Strain the creme brulee into a shallow pan (the mix should be no deeper then 1cm - you can trim off excess if need be).

Bake in Bain-marie (water bath - smaller pan inside a larger one with boiling water surrounding small pan) for about 30-40 minutes             or until firm and cooked in the centre.

Once cooked, chill immediately and freeze.

Once frozen, cut out 4 discs with cookie cutters that match the size of the cake rings and put back in the freezer until ready to use.
circles cut which stay in freezer until
ready to put together
*Note - You want the layers of biscuit, creme brulee and chocolate cream to be even. So make sure that the creme brulee circles are thin enough that once you have it sitting on the biscuit layer, there is still room for chocolate cream on top whilst it still staying flat. You will see what I mean when you get the the assembly part. So make sure you read the whole process so you understand how thick things should be!




Step 2 - Choco Cream Part 1

 In a heavy based saucepan, bring the cream, water, sugar and cocoa to the simmer stirring regularly.

Soak the gelatine in cold water until it has softened (Make sure it is cold otherwise it will melt and you will not be able to use it! I put a few ice blocks in the water just to make sure)

Add the dark chocolate and bring back to the simmer and all the chocolate is melted.

Take the simmering chocolate cream mixture off the heat and whisk in the softened gelatine.

Now it is all combined, pass it through a sieve into a bowl and place in a bigger bowl full of ice in the fridge to let the gelatine set. I put glad wrap over the top of the mix to stop a skin forming over the top. This stops bits of hard skin mixing in with the soft, velvety cream.



Step 3 - Biscuit Base

Preheat oven to 180c

Process the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles dry bread crumbs. Add the egg and process further until the mixture starts to come together.

Transfer to a clean work bench and knead for a few minutes until it forms a nice ball.

Wrap with plastic and rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Rollout pastry with rolling pin until about 2-3mm thickness.
Cut out 4 circles of pastry with the same cookie cutter you used for the creme brulee.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, bake for 5 minutes until golden and set aside until needed.




Step 4 - Choco Cream Part 2 (Base Delice)



Before you start this process make sure that the Choco Cream Park 1 has set in the fridge. It should be thick enough that you can turn the bowl upside down. You can see in the first picture just how thick it is.


All you have to do is whip the cream until soft peaks form and it stiffens up.


Then gently fold in the Choco Cream part 1 until it is all combined.
Dont mix it too hard as you will knock out all of the air.
Once it is mixed in get ready to start some assembling!




Step 5 - Assembling Part 1


To start assembling the chocolate delice place 4 cake rings on some baking paper. Place the cooked biscuit bases in the centre of the rings, then place the frozen creme brulee on top of the biscuit.
Note - I like to use a bigger ring than the size of the biscuit and the brulee so that the chocolate cream surrounds the biscuit and brulee.



Then simply spread the prepared choco cream on top of the stack of biscuit and brulee, making sure that they stay in the centre of the ring. The video below shows how they should look. You want it to be reasonably flat, but with just a tiny slope so when you glaze them  the chocolate mixture rolls down. Excuse the extremely long video for something that could of been covered in 4 seconds, but I was using one hand with the camera and one with the spatula! Who says men can't multi task?!
When you have covered all 4 rings, put back in the freezer until they are frozen.

video


Step 6 - Salted Caramel Sauce


While the first part of the Delice is setting in the freezer, get started on the caramel sauce.
For this put the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Raise the heat and cook without stirring until the sugar mix becomes a rich, deep golden brown. As seen below, you can see how much the colour changes. Because of the heat generated the sugar will continue to cook even after you take it off the heat, so I took it off at the stage below on the right and it continued to get a bit darker. You don't want it to be too dark otherwise it will be bitter.


 Note - Keep a glass of water and a pastry brush beside the pan. So that is any crystals of sugar start to form on the sides of the pan you can wash them away with the brush dipped in water. If the crystals get in to the sugar mix it can crystallise the whole mix and ruin it.


Once the sugar has become a deep rich brown, take it off the heat, pour in the thickened cream and whisk very well until the mixture has combined completely. Make sure you whisk well, as if not it might split. Be careful when adding the cream, as it will spit - wear a shirt.  


 After the cream is incorporated into the sugar (photo on the left), slowly whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Then start mixing in a pinch of Maldon salt at a time and tasting until it is to your taste. I think I ended up putting in around 5 decent pinches of salt. Don't be afraid of salt, there is that much sweetness in this dish that it works perfectly with it.


Step 7 - Making the Chocolate Glaze


video

The glaze is simple, bring the cream and corn syrup to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Stirring until a thick consistency is reached. I actually add about a 1/3 of a cup of water to thin the mixture out, so that when I spread it over the prepared delice it will drip and cover all parts. A good way to do this is just add  a bit of water at a time and test on the back of a spoon. It should run off the back of the spoon but leave a thin coating.


Step 8 - Toast the Almonds


Preheat the oven to 180c and toast the almonds on some baking paper until they are lightly golden. It should only take a few minutes so keep an eye on them!


Step 9 - White Chocolate



Gently melt the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a saucepan with boiling water in the bottom (another way to do a bain-marie) and transfer to a piping bag.
*Piping bags can be bought in the baking isle in supermarkets usually




Step 10 - Final Assembly


By now the delice should hopefully be frozen. If not make sure that it is otherwise it will be very hard to keep the shape of it when decorating it. The salted caramel will be able to sit around for a while, and if the white chocolate starts to set, simply keep the piping bag in hot water... Not boiling otherwise it will melt the plastic!

For this part you can use a blow torch as pictured below, but it is not necessary. All you need it for is to warm up the cake ring on the sides so you can slide it off without damaging the delice. If you don't have one just use your fingers and trying to rub away the cold and generate some heat.

video

Demo on how to blowtorch the sides. Please be careful if you do have one! And see if you can spot my dog!

Delice with the cake ring removed. Perfect shape.

The next step is to glaze the delice with the chocolate glaze prepared earlier. To do this put them on a wire rack and spoon a generous amount of the glaze on top of the delice and if it is the right consistency it should cover the whole delice without much help. If it is close just use a knife to spread it around the edges. (the almonds will cover the side so it will cover up any blemishes) 

Glazed Delice's

Next step is to drizzle the delice with the white chocolate. Carefully cut of the tip of the piping bag so that it is a small hole and not big enough for the white chocolate to just fall out. Do a practice run on something or even just in the sink so you get the idea. The carefully pipe the white chocolate on the the 4 chocolate delice's.

taking shape - white chocolate on
The last step is the most painstaking! One by one grab a whole almond and place them around the sides of the delice, making sure you still do it while the glaze is not fully set. So move fast, but don't let your fingers ruing the glaze!

TO SERVE:

Place a pool of salted caramel on a serving plate and carefully use a thin spatula to transfer the delice to the middle of the caramel!
 All the is left to do is ENJOY!

Finally!

The centre

Hopefully that sets the record straight and breaks it down enough for people to attempt! It really isn't that hard, it just takes planning and a lot of time and patience!

I am trying to think about what I should do next.... I recently went up to the Macadamia farms in Byron Bay and brought back some Macadamia Oil, some Macadamia nuts and also some macadamia paste. So thinking something along those lines?!

But happy to hear suggestions on something you might like to see?

Until next time!









Thursday, February 24, 2011

What did I tell you??!

FYI - An article in this months Gourmet Traveller Australia, about how good and easy making your own tortilla/tacos are!
http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/tortillas.htm

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here is my first recipe!

TACO'S AUSTRALIANO

So after returning from Mexico, I had the biggest cravings for slow roasted meat after visiting that local taco stand. I love bringing dishes back from overseas and putting my own twist on them, so I figured a slow roasted lamb would be a perfect substitute to the pork or beef they had in Mexico. This dish requires a bit of patience and thinking ahead, but it is so simple and I GUARANTEE  it will not disappoint. I have made a recipe for and 8 hour slow roasted lamb, and have done a home made taco and salsa to finish it off! You can always buy pre-made tortillas, but if you give this homemade recipe a go you will never go back. I made 12 tortillas from only 2 cups of flour, which makes it WAY cheaper and WAY more delicious. Seriously I can't stress enough how important it is to give making your own tortilla's a go, you wont regret it. So here it is!

Ingredients:

1.8kg Lamb Shoulder (marinated for 24 hours before cooking in below marinade)

Marinade (made 24 hours in advance of cooking):
2 Red finger chili's
2-3 Birdseye chili's (Depending on how hot you like it!)
5 Sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves
8 Sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
1 Big handful of fresh coriander
The zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Heads of garlic
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Teaspoons of salt

"Masa Harina" Yellow corn and white corn flour
Tortilla/Taco Recipe
2 Cups of Masa Harina
2 Pinches of salt
1&1/4 cups of water
*I bought the mexican flour from http://www.fireworksfoods.com.au/ You could subsitute for plain flour if you don't want to go to the effort, but I would if I were you! Or try to find a mexican supplier in your home city.


Salsa
3 Tomato's
1/2 White onion
1 Avocado
Handful of coriander
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method



1. 24 hours before you are planning to serve the Taco's, make the marinade by putting all the ingredients for the marinade in a blender or a mortar and pestle and blend/pound until a chunky paste is formed. Gently score the fatty side of the lamb shoulder and rub the marinade into the lamb well, cover and refrigerate overnight.


2. 8 Hours before you want to serve the taco's, set a fan forced over to 120, or 130 for conventional.
In a heavy based pot with a lid, place the lamb shoulder in the oven for 8 hours. Making sure you baste the lamb with its own juices every half an hour after the fat starts to melt at around 3 hours time.

3. To make the tortilla's/taco's add 2 pinches of salt into 2 cups of flour and pour on a clean workbench, and carve out the middle so that the you are able to pour the water in slowly without any water coming through cracks. Slowly add bit by bit of water and mix in the flour from the inside out. You may need to add more water if it is too dry or add more flour if it is too wet. The dough will not be like a normal flour dough (unless you substitute the Masa Harina for normal cooking flour), it comes together well, but is not as elastic as a normal flour dough. You don't want it to be too sticky or runny, you want it to be held together but not crumbly at all.

4. For the salsa, deseed and dice the tomato's, white onion and avocado. Finely slice the a handful of coriander and add all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Juice 1 lime and season with salt and pepper and mix well. Taste the salsa, and add more or less of what your taste requires. I like a zing from the lime and a bit of salt to lift the flavour a bit.


5. As the lamb shoulder enters it's last 30 minutes of cooking you can start pressing/rolling out the taco's. I actually bought a mexican tortilla press to make things easier, and managed to break it after doing about 3 or 4 tortillas!

Brand new

Broken!


But I figured a lot of people wouldn't go out of the way to buy one, so its probably happened for a reason! So this way is a bit easier..... Basically you find a small plate that has a ridge in a circle on the bottom that is about the size you want. You roll a walnut size ball of the dough, put in in between 2 pieces of baking paper so it doesn't stick. Then use the plate to flatten the ball, and a rolling pin to smooth it out until it is about 2mm thick. Making sure you move it around so that you keep the nice circle shape! I made this video so you see what I mean!

video

6. Then all you need to do is cook them. Cook them on a good heavy based non stick fry pan without any oil, for about 1 minute each side. Or until the firm up but don't go crispy, you want them to be cooked but if they go too crispy then they will crack when you try to fold them up and eat them! Too keep them soft I like to wrap them up in a moist tea towel, then microwave them when ready to serve (in the moist tea towel) so they are nice and soft!

Authentic taco's (no deep fried stuff here!)
7. Now that you have everything ready, all that is left to do is get the meat out and tear it up! It is that easy. Here you can see the difference between when it was marinading and when it has finished cooking.... All of the garlic has caramelised, and the marinade is nice and sticky!

Nice and sticky!

Just grab a pair of tongs or two forks and remove the bones, then just shred the meat apart... It's honestly the best way to eat meat. The best part is that sticky marinade gets broken up into the meat, it adds such incredible flavour! Just so you know how soft the meat becomes, I had to upload another video..

video

Now the fun part... Eating it.
8. To assemble, just grab a taco fill it with some meat, then salsa, fold it up and shove it in your mouth!!
guarantee it will satisfy, and it is totally worth the time involved! Authentic mexican at home with a bit of an Australian twist! My recipe made about 12 taco's... But I had a lot of meat in each one! You can always make more! I hope you enjoy!!!!

The torn up lamb shoulder...

The finished product!

PS - Apologies if there are any mistakes, I'm not an english major ;) 

I am thinking my next recipe should be the real recipe for my Chocolate Delice ?!!!! The ones on the internet are wrong! Time to put a stop to that!






Friday, January 28, 2011

Arrriiiiba! Viva Mexico


I have just arrived home from a 3 week, high altitude training camp in Mexico. I was in a little town called San Louis Potosi, which was about a 3 hour drive from Mexico City. The locals called it a small town, but with 2 million people I didn't think it was that small! But in comparison to the 27 million just in Mexico City, I guess that is a fair call!
Out of the 3 weeks I was in San Louis Potosi, I was only able to get in to the town once which I was pretty devastated about! The rest of the time I was being served up mass produced food at the cafeteria next to the pool and sleeping 200 metres away, not a vacation by any means.

But the one and only day I spent in the "Old Town", I managed to came across some fantastic food. I think Australian's (me included) have absolutely no idea what real mexican food is, it couldn't have been more confusing for me! I was expecting to get over there and be up to my neck in big flavourful burritos, crispy tacos and cheesy nachos. But what I thought I knew on the menu was completely different!
So off I went with my poorly attempted version of the Mexican Moustache , ready to try and blend in with the locals...


A variety of Taco's

The first example is what on the menu read as "Taco's", definitely not what you would of expected right?! And to be honest I didn't really enjoy the dish at all. It consisted of corn tortilla's filled with very bland cheese rolled up like italian cannelloni, topped with lettuce, spiced potato's and a sheep's milk sour cream. They definitely were not deep fried, and no beef mince to be seen like the packets in the supermarket or Mexican take aways in Australia. It was a bland dish, certainly not my favourite of the day, but a great example of how westernised our "tacos" have become!


Fruit anyone?!


Fruit was fresh and delicious, not to mention a bargain! This guy was walking around for a long time, with what seemed to be very heavy pale's of strawberry's and grapes. My mates and I bought 1kg of strawberry's for 40 peso's, which worked out to around $4. Wouldn't that be fantastic if you could get 1kg of strawberry's for $4 in Australia, and even better they come to you! Talk about service.




Next was the Gordita, which means "little fat one" in spanish. The size and shape of Gordita's vary depending on which region of Mexico you are in. In central Mexico they are small and round like a child's fist and in northern Mexico they are larger and flatter. I had the larger and flatter variety, which was filled with pork ("migajas"). There are a lot of different flavours around, the most popular being minced pork, beef or cheese. I really enjoyed the Gordita, the dough was crispy on the outside but soft in the middle and the pork filling was to die for.

video

The Gordita dough is made out of a white corn flour called "Masa Harina", then the filling is put inside and rolled into balls. They then use a Tortilla press, which is a must in any mexican kitchen. It is pressed out flat then grilled on a hot flat pan until golden brown. If you are interested you can have a look at these web sites that sells them in Australia, they also sell a lot of mexican foods that I will talk about. http://www.montereyfoods.com.au http://www.fireworksfoods.com.au 




The next thing I stumbled across was a delight, Pork Rind. Although at first I had no idea what I was looking at, I thought they were baskets of some sort! I had never seen pork rind in that size or quantity, it was amazing. I was told by a local to give it a go, and for around 12 cents $AUS I didn't need much convincing! All the man did was cut off a bit of rind with a scalpel, dip it in his bucket of salsa and hand it to you.




It was delicious. The Pork Rind didn't really offer much flavour but it was the perfect carrier for spicy salsa, which tasted heavily of coriander and chilli. And the crunch in your mouth was spectacular, it was so airy and easy to eat. But something tells me not too good for you!


My favourite savoury dish of the day belonged to the a closer version of the Taco we are used to in Australia. You would be surprised but this street vendor pumped out the most famous Taco's eaten by the locals here in San Luis Potosi, I could of eaten about 50 they were that good!


The simplicity of this dish was what made the experience so fantastic. From the moment I made my order of "una pig, una cow", it was less than 30 seconds before the Taco's were sitting in front of me ready to eat.

Although it seemed all to easy to get on a plate to serve, I could tell there had been a lot of preparation in advance to make it easier for themselves to pump out enough Taco's to meet demand. The Pork and the Beef had both been slow roasted, and after talking to a few of the vendors in broken english they said the meat cooks overnight.


The one vendor who spoke english said that the secret was the tortilla's were home made, there was a secret recipe of spices that the meats were marinated and cooked in and most importantly a good spicy salsa to top it all off.


What was interesting were the tortilla's, I have been  so used to crispy shells as opposed to the soft home made tortilla's that were used here. They could even use 2 tortilla's layered as a shell and it was like biting through air.
I have to say the flavours of the meats were incredible, both the Pork and the Beef could of been eaten with a spoon it was that tender. A far cry from the overcooked chicken and beef mince we are used to in Australia. All that needed to be added to the Taco was some fresh white onions that were finely chopped, fresh tomato's and coriander and the beautiful salsa.

Hopefully no Mexican have seen our Old El Paso mexican ads with "Mexican's" trying to solve the age old question of how to make a taco stand up! They obviously haven't solved how to make their Taco's stand up because quite simply; they aren't supposed to!

Here I was pulling out my wallet ready to throw a few peso's for this fantastic feast, and the grand total.... $25 Peso's. Australian equivalent of about $2.50 for 3 Taco's and a diet coke.... If only a stand like this would make it's way to Australia! 



There was only one way to top the food I had experienced today..... Beer, corn chips and guacamole! If only the super bowl was on, it would have been an ideal day!
I have been drinking Corona's (on the right) for years, paying $50 here and there for a carton. Not only did I find out it is not the favourite been among the locals, it ended up being about 0.90c Australian per bottle! Apparently it is like the VB of Mexico?! Hard to believe, I would be more than happy if VB went down as smooth as a Corona!
The Victoria Beer (On the left),apparently is the favourite among the drinking folk of Mexico, and I am not surprised. It doesn't need any lemon or lime and it tasted like a cross between corona and a Haan super dry, pretty handy after a long day walking and eating!

So after that experience it leaves me disappointed at how westernised our mexican has become over here, even though I enjoy a big dirty burrito from time to time nothing will compare to the real Mexican experience.
I am no on a mission.... Create my own version of the tradition Mexican Taco's!

Stay tuned for my first Recipe "Lamb Taco's"

'Till then

Eamon