May 30, 2011

Mini Hotdogs with Caramelised Onion and Horseradish Cream

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was looking for a recipe that I could make for a girls night.  We were having a 'high-tea' night, but instead of tea there would be cocktails, more specifically, a punch fountain.  It was pretty amazing, I must admit - the whole night was spent admiring the peach coloured liquid pour from three levels.

But anyway, because of this punch and theme, I needed something filling and small.  I've had this book, Picnic Hamper from Kitchen Classics, for sometime.  I've cooked a couple of things from it, but the recipe I wanted to cook the most was the Chipolata Sausages with Horseradish Cream.  They were ridiculously cute and I just love hotdogs.  So I made them.  And they were delish!

The best thing about them though was the caramelised onions.  This simple recipe of three ingredients was perfect.  I don't know why I've never made it before, the leftovers went so well in rolls for the following week.  It's definitely something I will continue cooking.

I have to make a little shout out to my friend good Anjulee for hosting such a lovely night.  You see, Anj has a bar built at the back of her house, inside a shed.  This is no ordinary bar or shed either.  It has a beautiful custom made Jarrah bar, in a shed with a wood fire and furniture.  It has Foxtel coming through the TV, a dart board, and a large array of bar 'materials'.  It's the perfect place to escape really.  So thank you once again Anj!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
100g cream cheese
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
2 tablespoons thickened cream
12 chipolata sausages
12 mini bread rolls
Large handful rocket leaves
Sea salt for seasoning

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot, then add the onion, stir, then place the lid on to cover.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft.  Add the sugar and vinegar and continue cooking until thick.  Remove form the heat and keep warm.

In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, cream and horseradish and mix well.  Season with sea salt.

In a fry pan, add a little oil and fry the sausages for around 10 minutes or until cooked through.  Drain on paper towels.

If using par-bake bread rolls, heat up in the oven on around 180C for 10 minutes.

When ready, cut the rolls three quarters the way through, and spread on the horseradish cream.  Place a few leaves of rocket, a sausage and top with onion.

Makes 12.

May 23, 2011

Roast Pork Belly with Honey Glazed Carrots

This past week I’ve been feeling a bit off – the flu has been around my work place so it was only a matter of time before I got it.  Friday I woke up feeling particularly sick, so had a nice day at home to rest and get better.  I even had dinner made for me! 

I had always wanted to cook pork belly, especially the crackling bit, so Colin went and bought “a beautiful piece of pig”.  Together we cooked roast pork belly with honey glazed carrots and potato mash.  We found a recipe from the Taste website (original here) and only had to alter it slightly.  The carrot and potato idea came from a restaurant in Perth, BarOne, where I had a similar dish.  I’d never made honey glazed carrots before so looked around a bit, got the jist of it, then just made the rest up.  The sweetness of the carrots really cut through the salty-fatty taste of the pork.  And the potatoes were lovely balance too.  I’ve included how to make the carrots, but potato mash is pretty standard so I’ll leave that up to you.

So first time making pork belly – any dramas you ask?  Of course.  I have a really old oven.  It’s electric and heat only comes from the bottom, and there is no fan.  Cooking things where the top needs to brown can be a little difficult.  Getting crackling on roast pork, almost impossible.  After the pork had been in the oven for an hour, the skin was still soft and jelly like – Colin almost threw in the towel.  I’ve had stuff ups in my oven before, so I was determine to not waste this amazing meat. 

I remember seeing a chef on TV peel skin off a roast pork and placing it back in the oven to crisp up.  I also remember Jamie doing it to the skin on a piece of salmon.  So we pulled the roast out of the oven, carefully peeled the skin off with a knife, put it on some paper on a flat tin and placed it under the grill.  Hallelujah!  The skin came out amazing.  It was so crunchy and salty and just delicious.  I was so relived it work, not to mention we had successfully cooked our first pork belly.

2.5kg piece boneless pork belly (skin on)
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Zest of a lemon
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (500ml) dry white wine
2 onions, thinly sliced

Clean the pork and cut off any bits of hair or extra skin.  Score the pork length-ways, without cutting into the meat.

Place the pork on a rack over the sink and pour over a full kettle of boiling water.  This will give you a nice crackling.  Dry the meat with a clean towel.

In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, crush the rosemary, fennel, lemon zest, garlic and oil until you have a thick paste.  Rub the paste into the skin, making sure you get into the cuts, then cover and refrigerate overnight is possible.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Place the pork in a roasting pan and pour over the while wine.  Then rub the sea salt into the skin, and place in the over for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 160°C, take the pork out, scatter the onions around the pan, then place the pork back into the oven and cook for a further 1 hour until skin is crisp and juices run clear.  Take the pork out of the oven and let it rest, covered, for 15 minutes.

If the skin doesn’t crisp up, carefully cut the skin off and place under a medium grill for 15 minutes.

Strain the juices from the roasting pan and bring to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Remove from the heat when it becomes thicker.

Slice the pork and serve with baby carrots and potato mash.

Serves 6.

2 bunches of Dutch carrots or baby carrots
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon honey
Olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

Clean the carrots well and cut off the green ends, leaving around a centimetre still intact.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, then add the carrots and cook for 2-5 minutes, longer for large ones, shorter for little ones.

In a medium saucepan, add a splash of olive oil and the butter.  When the carrots are ready, add them to the saucepan, and then add the honey and pinch of salt.  Toss the carrots in the sauce for 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and serve immediately with the pork.

May 18, 2011

Food through a lense

A couple of months ago I did an 8 week photography course with my friend Sarah.  I had bought this amazing, specky DSLR but was unsure about how to use half the functions.  The course overall was really helpful – I learnt about how to use the manual setting (and more importantly why I couldn’t previously use the manual setting) about lighting, lenses, aperture, shutter speed and the list goes on.

Taking great food photos is really important in creating that ‘want’ feeling – you don’t buy a cookbook with bad food photos.  In some way, and stick with me here, cookbooks are like a Playboy magazine – to some.  Most of the time I buy them for the photos (cookbooks, not Playboy), not because I like collecting photos, but I like to look at them, admire them, drool a little.  That’s where the similarities stop.

It’s going to take time before I get all the right equipment to be able to take perfect photos – it is an expensive hobby after all.  But in the meantime I thought while I have this blog going and sharing my hobby of cooking and photography, I would share some random photos. 

I have put up a few from Europe and recently Melbourne, and now I would like to introduce Pinchy.  He was down in Fremantle markets, waiting to be purchased.  By the look on his face I think he was more scared than anything.  For one split second I felt sorry for him, then remembered how AMAZING he tastes.

The little guy below was in the tank next to him.  To me, he was like the evil cousin of Pinchy.

It's possible that I've gone a little mad in my feelings towards these two crustaceans.

A few weeks ago we went to a Chinese restaurant in Northbridge for my brothers girlfriends Birthday.  We asked a knowledgable friend to order for us, not really knowing what we would get.  20 minutes later the waiter brings out a massive, and I mean massive, crayfish to show what we will be soon eating.  Yep, he was a alive and kicking, and he looked exactly like Pinchy!

May 16, 2011

Chicken Curry Soup

This weekend was one of those that I like to define as a ‘fail’ weekend.  It started off on Saturday morning.  I was writing a grocery list at home, looking through the pantry first, then the fridge.  As I open the fridge door, a bottle of red wine that usually sits on top of the fridge, fell off, down the back of the fridge, smashing.  There was red wine and glass everywhere.  Normally I would just swear a little, and then start cleaning.  But behind the fridge?  That’s one of the most disgusting places in my house.  There is dust and bugs, and when mixed with glass and red wine it becomes particularly annoying to clean.  I stood still for a while looking at the mess, contemplating how I was going to clean it.  I could barely move the fridge forward because glass was getting stuck in the little wheels.  The smell was another thing –after an hour cleaning, woo, needed to go outside for a breather!

The rest of the day was like this too, one fail after another. 

The only non fail of Saturday was my soup.  I don’t think soup can ever be a fail – there’s something so simple and calming about it.  This soup was inspired by my recent trip to Melbourne, where on a cold afternoon at 3pm the only thing I felt like was soup.  There’s this awesome soup kitchen on Degraves that I love, and it was there I tried their Chicken Curry Soup.  Taking notes as I was eating it, I realised this wouldn’t be so hard to make myself.

So Sunday lunch, just before setting off to watch the Eagles and Dockers game, I ate a big bowl of soup with some fresh bread. 

I have amended the recipe slightly to the one I made, only because I felt the soup didn’t need curry powder.   I also pre-cooked the chicken completely, but I think you could just poach it in the soup.  I used the chicken stock from my Chinese Chicken Stock recipe that I had frozen.  You can use any stock made from scatch or just used a stock bought stock.

400g chicken breast
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 capsicum, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garam marsala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 litres chicken stock
Sea salt

In a large pot on a medium heat, add a splash of oil and cook the chicken breast enough to seal the outside and add a bit of colour.  Remove the chicken from the pot, then add the spices and onion, and cook until fragrant.  Add the diced celery, carrot, capsicum and zucchini, and stir to coat the vegetables in the spices.

Add the stock and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and place the chicken back in the pot.  Add a good seasoning of salt, then continue simmering for 1 hour.

When the soup has become thick and the vegetables have cooked, remove the chicken bread and shred the meat.

Take two cups of the soup and blend until smooth, then return to the pot, along with the shredded chicken.  Give it a good stir, taste for seasoning, then serve.

Serves 4.

May 10, 2011

A little bit of a break...

Last Tuesday I set off to Melbourne for five days - two spent attending a conference and three galloping the streets with Colin, my other half. It had been two years since I was last in Melbourne (too long in my books), and going back to re-confirmed why I love that place so much.

First of all, the food. Such great food, no matter where you go - there is always something simple and tasty, and affordable, around every corner. Living in Perth, the options for an affordable, great meal is not that easy to find. Nor is a good coffee, which there is an abundance of in Melbourne.

Then I guess there's just the whole vibe of Melbourne - the lane ways, the graffiti art, shopping, culture, bars, pubs, the list goes on.

I took my camera with me but over the days only snapped a couple of photos (one amazing pasta dish in particular that I took with my iPhone). So I thought below I would just show you a bit of my trip.

And on another note, I hope to have a recipe post for you soon, but bare with me, my fridge is currently empty and I need to stock up!

Didn't take many food photos, but I did get a nice one of
Ian Curley in The European,
waiting for his staff to send out dishes.


This would have to be one of my favourite things about Melbourne - the street art.

Bit of sight-seeing here and there.  My favourite was seeing this beautifully
dressed lady, all dolled up, watching Fox Classics in Federation Square.

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