Corn cakes, maple syrup and home made smokey bacon

•June 24, 2013 • 1 Comment

I’m not big on sweet flavours for breakfast but there is something rather nice about maple syrup and bacon. Accompany that with the sweet/savoury aspect of sweet corn fritters and breakfast is on it’s way.

Dash of olive oil
2 shallots – finely sliced
1 cup of corn kernels
2/3 cup plain flour
3 eggs – whisked
1 tbspn milk

Mix ingredients together then fry in a shallow based pan on medium heat until just done. Serve with lightly fried bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.

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The holy grail of takeaway chicken

•June 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The buzz has died down somewhat on this newish local hot spot which leaves me less inclined to want to keep it a secret. The Hub House Diner in Dulwich Hill was overflowing when it first opened it’s doors in the last 12 months and with good reason. The menu is hip, comforting, delicious and changes to incorporate seasonal ingredients whilst keeping a staple of favourites the locals have grown to love, such as the cheeseburger and the crunchy southern fried chicken. The main purpose of this blog post is to talk up the hickory smoked chicken. I can’t get enough. It’s moist, not greasy and so loaded full of flavour it’s easy to over indulge. And at very reasonable prices this has become my fall-back option when on the inevitable occasion there is no time for a home cooked meal. Throw together a salad and you wonder why you bother cooking some days. Feeling naughty then add on the fries. The crunch factor is out of control.

I highly recommend checking it out. Added points for the most gorgeous boxes with my favourite food quote from George Bernard Shaw.

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Hearty mushroom breakfast

•June 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Is there ever an end to how many ways you can cook breakfast with a small number of ingredients? It never ceases to amaze me the number of different combinations that arise when you hunt around for a bit of inspiration.

I was on a bit of a mushroom tangent recently and decided to bake some giant mushrooms coated in my usual thyme, garlic, balsamic and olive oil mix (shake in a plastic bag for best coverage). I pan fried some halloumi with a drizzle of lemon juice then served the mushrooms and halloumi with two eggs (fried in a non stock pan with no oil), lots of mint and a drizzle of greek yoghurt mixed with tahini sauce. Oh, and a slab of really good toasted bread. Brasserie Bread’s New York rye loaf in this instance.

So easy. So good.

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Heavenly winter mushroom soup

•June 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve been a been quiet for a while. Food stuff has been happening but so has a mountain of course writing. After diving in the deep end of teaching Graphic Design and writing my own course from scratch, blogging has had to take the back seat for a while. Something’s gotta give, right? Wonderwoman could do it all. I’ve been channeling her with vigor and the results have been sporadic but the course has kicked along and that’s really the main focus for the moment.

Meanwhile, the food happenings have been nutritious, luxurious, quick, laborious and all things in between, so I do have a bit of a stockpile of kitchen adventures up my sleeve to catch up on and with the weather as it is I’ll hopefully have plenty of time by the fire (read heater – fire sounds so much more writery romantic though doesn’t it?) to get everything I’ve been up to down in cyberspace.

This mushroom soup was adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. I must admit I’m not a massive fan but I do find the odd recipe that’s a good source of inspiration from him. I also have a giggle about his, ‘dash of this’, ‘handful of that’ because I have trouble being precise about my ingredients a lot of the time.

Serves two.

1 small handful of dried porcini – soaked in a small amount of boiling water
Olive oil
150 grams oyster mushrooms – set aside a few
150 grams swiss brown mushrooms – set aside a few
1 large field mushroom – halve and set half aside
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 spanish onion – finely chopped
1 small handful fresh thyme – leaves picked
600ml chicken stock
freshly ground salt and pepper
Greek yogurt
1 lemon
Dash of truffle paste
1 small handful chopped parsley
Crusty bread

To a heavy based soup pot add a good couple of pours of olive oil then add fresh mushrooms (except the ones set aside). Stir for 1 minute then add garlic, onion and thyme. Once it starts to sweat add the porcini and liquid. Cook for about 20 minutes on a medium to low heat. Season to taste then add stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove half from heat and blend to a puree then add back in.

Meanwhile add a dash of olive oil to a smaller pot of pan and sautée the rest of the mushrooms.

Add the zest and  juice of half a lemon to a couple of tablespoons of greek yoghurt. Add the parsley to the soup, stir then serve with a couple of slices of toasted good quality bread, the sautéed mushrooms, a dash of truffle paste and the yoghurt mixture.

Seriously good mushroom soup.

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Marvellous minestrone

•May 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Winter is on it’s way. We had our first real weekend of heater and ugg boots weather and the desire for stodgy winter food is rising. I find the perfect combatant to this is to steer towards healthy soup options, because nobody wants to come out the tail end of winter with a couch shaped bottom.

I’ve always liked minestrone but never LOVED it. I’d probably prefer a pea and smokey bacon or roast garlic and pumpkin but a few special ingredients really added some oomf to this one and I think I nailed it. Having a freezer full of beef and veal stock made to the Eleven Maddison Park stock recipes probably helps a bucket load.

1 medium/large potato – diced
2 medium carrots – diced
1 large onion – finely chopped
2 celery stalks – diced
3-4 rashers of bacon – finely chopped ( I used a chunk of leftover smoked lamb loin from making bacon)
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups beef stock (highly recommend home made)
2 cups veal stock (highly recommend home made)
1/2 cup small pasta pieces
1 small handful fresh oregano – chopped
1 small handful fresh basil – chopped
1 small handful fresh parsley – chopped
Grated parmesan

Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based soup pot and add potato, carrots, onion, celery, bacon and garlic, cooking on medium/high heat for 7-10 mins, stirring occasionally.

Add tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, kidney beans, beef and veal stock and simmer for about 30 mins on low heat.Then about 5 minutes before serving add pasta, basil and oregano, simmering until pasta is cooked.

Serve with parsley, grated parmesan and your favourite rustic bread.

Note: The home made stocks and bacon really took this minestrone up a notch from the usual vege/pasta soup.

Enjoy and stay warm!

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Makin’ bacon, yeah!

•May 1, 2013 • 4 Comments

I can’t recommend making it highly enough!

We’ve been delving into the art for a couple of years now and we will never go back to store bought bacon. It just doesn’t even come close to the flavoursome meat product that you can produce yourself with minimal time and effort.

This post is less about recipes and more about encouragement. We have used a variety of recipes now(maple flavoured is my favourite)and all of them beat any bacon I’ve bought at a shop, hands down.

My tips.

Although a lot of recipes call for the pork belly we just found that generally there wasn’t enough meat on it and you’re almost always eating fat, making it not really worth it, so we have stuck to the loin for some time now with great success and are very happy with our meat yield.

Don’t be afraid of it. Once you make the cure and bag the pork you just leave it for 7-8 days. Too easy. It cures itself. Then you take it out, rinse it and dry it off and leave it for 24 hours to dry. Too easy. It dries itself. Then you smoke it for about 11 hours. Set and forget. Too easy. It smokes itself.

And did I mention that it’s too easy?

We also kryvac small batches because the texture of the meat is too wonderful to destroy with freezer burn.

If you’re sick to death of thick flavourless bacon that oozes water, I seriously encourage you to seek out some recipes and give bacon making a go. It’s much easier than you think and you get the added bonus of chunky bits of speck for adding to soups in the winter. WIN!

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Herb crusted salmon confit with dill potato cakes and steamed spinach

•April 30, 2013 • 2 Comments

I’ve often felt a little deterred from making confit due to the sheer amount of oil involved –  just from an economical perspective, but after recently reading a number of recipes for salmon confit that use an oven instead of a pan and only require the fish to be basted rather than swimming in oil, I decided to give it a go. If you don’t like your fish really rare then this is not for you. If done just right the meat should still look raw but is warmed through via the slow, low temperature cooking method.

Herb crusted salmon confit

1 small handful parsley – very finely chopped
1 small handful chives – very finely chopped
1 eschallot – very finely chopped
1 large salmon or ocean trout fillet – halved lengthways
1/4 cup of oil – 80% grapeseed 20% olive oil

Mix herbs and eschallots together well. Brush salmon fillets liberally with oil and top with herbs. Preheat oven to 150ºC and cook salmon for about 20 minutes. As I said, it will still look raw but it should be warmed through and just done.

As an accompaniment I boiled some roughly cubed potatoes (with skin – because I love it), mixed in some finely chopped dill and a drizzle of olive oil then shoved (yes I do mean shoved) the mixture into ramekins and popped these in the oven as well for about 10 mins prior to and during cooking the salmon. The result is they stay warm and have a chance to take the shape of the ramekin.

Finally I served the potatoes turned out onto a bed of steamed spinach next to the confit. Voila.

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