Monday, 28 May 2012

Sweet Little Piggie

I know you're not supposed to get attached to your food, but this little piggie was so sweet. Kristine bought her and brought to a yearly Hootenany. It took 5 hours to roast her (the pig, not Kristine) slowly over white hot coals. Just salt. I thought the huge wooden stake was a good idea, though covered in foil so it didn't ignite. Two piles of rocks on either end held it up. Best of all: I cut it up as quickly as I could and it was litterally grabbed and gobbled up within a few minutes. About 60 pounds. There's only a little ziplock bag left, which I think will have to be pulled and sauced for dinner tonight.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Stir Wars - The Photos

I was supposed to be publishing a witty little post about a lovely lunch I had with my good wife at Pizarro on Food Urchin today. But due to unforeseen circumstances and possible human error, the farking piece which I spent lots of time farking writing, wrangling and rambling over seems to have farking deleted itself causing much untold grief and farking apoplexy. FOR FARKING FARKS SAKE!

Thank God there were no cats around to kick when that happened this morning.*

So by way of composing the blogging equivalent of a test card (please do not adjust your sets) I have decided to put up some lovely photos from the charity Stir Wars event wot I was involved with at the start of the month and to give some long overdue thanks to our sponsors.

The night, though stressful in parts, was a roaring success. Well everyone who came to dine, dress up and exercise their grey matter over a very tough Star Wars quiz (courtesy of Big Spud) seemed to have a good time. But then again, front of house Jedi Masters, Osh and Phil from The Ship did keep everyone well plied with booze. All in all we managed to raise £1600 for Make A Wish Foundation which is an excellent achievement and may well prompt the Stir Wars crew to do another night in the not so distance future. Although next time it might come in the form of Indiana Jones tribute. Monkeys brains anyone?

For the record, my most memorable and personal moment of the evening came when a real life and slightly rotund Darth Vader came striding into Tsuru with a bevvy of Stormtroopers. At that precise moment, the little boy inside, the one who cherished his VHS copies of the original trilogy, all taped at Christmas, who used to spend hours in the garden re-enacting the final Ewok assault on Endor and who used to jump about the sofas in the living room with a home-made, cardboard and ultimately flimsy light saber, well, he did a little wee of excitement in his y-fronts.

As for when the deep fat fryer which died on him during service, well he shit his pants when that happened.

Big thanks go to all these sponsors and donors, without their help, we could not have made the night happen.

And an extra big thanks to the official Stir Wars photographer, Ozzy............I have forgotten your surname........for taking some most excellent pictures of the evening and for letting me replicate them here.

(There are more here btw.)

* I have not and never would, ever kick a cat in anger or frustration. Maybe a chinchila but never a cat.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

UNDERGROUND – the food dept digs below the surface of the earth, uprooting, baby beets, parsnips, spuds and more. Have a peek at our recipes created with root vegetables.

Roast beetroot bruschetta with roast garlic aioli
Serves 4 – 6
Dive into the vibrant winter colours of purple and rich gold with these super baby beets. This makes a lovely light meal or snack.

3 bunches baby beetroot
2 bulbs garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ bunch thyme sprigs
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup walnuts
1 loaf sour dough
1 quantity, roast garlic aioli

1. Preheat oven to 190˚C (375˚F). Trim the beetroot, leaving a small amount of the stems attached. Halve any large beetroot so that they are all similar sizes. Place the beetroot and garlic in a roasting pan and drizzle over the oil and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with the half the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes or until the beetroot are tender when tested with a skewer. Sprinkle over the walnuts and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, to roast the nuts.
3. Chargrill or toast slices of sourdough. Serve with the roasted beetroot, garlic and walnuts. Garnish with remaining thyme sprigs and a dollop of roast garlic aioli.

Roast garlic aioli
Makes 1½ cups
Turn your extra roast garlic cloves into a delicious roast garlic aioli. 

1. Place 6 cloves of the roasted garlic in to a motar and pestle. Add ½ teaspoon salt flakes and crush the garlic and salt into a paste. Add in one egg yolk, pound and stir until the egg, garlic and salt are well combined.
2. Gradually drizzle in 1 cup of light olive oil while continuing to stir with the pestle until all of the oil has been incorporated. Season to taste. 

Egyptian carrot salad with pita, almonds and olives
Serves 6 – 8
A beautiful salad to share with friends

• 3 bunches of baby carrots, use a selection of heirloom varieties
• 2 tablespoons dukah
• Sea salt and pepper, to taste
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 big handfuls of baby rocket leaves
• ½ cup toasted almonds, sliced lengthways
• 1 cup kalamata olives
• 1 quantity Preserved Lemon Dressing
• 2 pieces toasted pita bread, broken into large shards (see below)

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F). Trim the carrots, leaving a small amount of the stems attached. There’s no need to peel the carrots when they are young. They roast beautifully with the skin on.  Cut any large ones in half lengthways, trying to make all the carrots roughly the one thickness.
2. Toss the carrots in a large bowl with the dukah, salt, pepper and olive oil. Massage into the carrots so that each carrot is well coated. Place into a large baking dish so the carrots are in a single layer and bake for approximately 30 – 35 minutes until the carrots are golden and tender.
3. Arrange the baby rocket leaves on a large platter and top with the roasted carrots. Sprinkle over the almonds and olives and just before serving drizzle with the dressing. Serve alongside the shards of crisp pita bread.

food dept fact: To toast the pita bread, separate the 2 layers of the bread into 2 discs and place onto a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in a hot oven, 200˚C (400˚F) for approximately 10 minutes until golden. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Have these beautiful crisp breads on hand to serve with your favourite dip, yum.

Preserved lemon dressing
Makes 1 cup

• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
• ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice,
• 1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind, pith removed and julienned
• 1 tablespoon honey
• Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine, use as required.

Lemon roast chicken with parsnip puree
Serves 4
This succulent lemon chicken balances perfectly with the sweetness of the parsnip puree.
 It's a marriage made in heaven, and a great alternative to roast chicken and potato mash.

• 1 x 1.5 kg free range chicken
• 2 lemons, thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, sliced
• 1 bunch lemon thyme
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and black pepper, to taste
• 1 cup good quality chicken stock
• 1 quantity Parsnip puree

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F). Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the lemon slices, garlic and ½ bunch of thyme sprigs. Tie the chicken legs together to keep the lemon slices, garlic and thyme in place.
2. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and rub the skin with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over remaining thyme sprigs and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until the skin is golden and the juices run clear when tested. Remove the chicken from the oven and place onto a warm platter. Loosely cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place until ready to serve.
3. Place the pan and pan juices over a medium heat, deglaze the pan with stock and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until glossy and syrupy, approximately ¼ cup.
Serve the chicken with the pan juices, parsnip puree and some steamed green beans.

Parsnip puree
Serves 4

• 750g Parsnips, approx 6 large, peeled
• 30g butter
• 1 small onion finely diced
• 1 clove garlic crushed
• 2 cups good quality chicken stock
• White pepper to taste

1. Cut the parsnips into quarters lengthways, removing the woody core, as it makes the puree stringy. Roughly chop the parsnip into chunks and set aside.
2. Heat butter in a large saucepan until bubbling, add the onion and garlic and saut̩ until onion is softened but not browned. Add the parsnip chunks and saut̩ for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes, remove the lid and simmer for a further 15 Р20 minutes or until most of the stock has evaporated.
3. Blend the parsnip with the remaining stock from the pot until smooth. If you would like the puree a little thinner adjust with a little extra stock or cream. Season to taste and serve hot.

Caramelized balsamic onion tarte tartin
Serves 4–6

• 1kg, approximately 12 small red onions, 5–6 cm in diameter
• 60g butter
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
• Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
• 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
• 1 sheet good quality butter puff pastry
• Extra, thyme sprigs for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F). Peel the onions and set aside. Place butter and brown sugar into a 20cm, ovenproof frying pan. Cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and season the pan with salt and pepper.
2. Place the onions root end down into the pan, packing them in tightly. Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes and then carefully turn the onions over so that the top of the onion is down and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes or until onions are soft and caramelized. While still on the heat, pour over the balsamic vinegar and give the pan a swirl, continue to simmer for 1–2 minutes.
3. Cut a 24cm circle of pastry, don’t worry too much about the measurements just make sure that you cut the pastry with enough to be able to tuck in around the onions. The idea is, when the tart is cooked, you turn onto a plate and the pastry becomes the pie shell. You’ll need edges to catch all those delicious juices. When the onions are all tucked in, bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
4. Turn the tarte tartin onto a serving plate and top with extra thyme sprigs.

food dept fact: This can easily be made into bite size tartes to serve as an appetizer with drinks.  Cook the onion as suggested above and then place them top end down into well greased small muffin pans. Spoon over any pan juices.  Cover with a circle of pastry, tucking in the edges and bake until pastry is golden and puffed. Turn out and garnish with thyme leaves.

Root vegetable chips
Serves 6–8
These chips make moorish little nibbles at your next drinks party or they are a yummy accompaniment to steak and salad.

• 250g sweet potato, peeled
• 250g beetroot, peeled
• 250g potatoes, peeled
• Vegetable oil for deep frying
• Sea salt flakes

1. Using a mandolin on the thinnest setting, slice the root vegetables and set aside. If using any vegetable that browns on standing immerse in cold water until ready to fry. Drain well and pat dry with paper towel as any moisture with cause the hot oil to splatter.
2. Heat the oil in a large pot to 190˚C (375˚F). A wok works well for deep frying. The large opening allows the food to move about in the oil and not stick together. To test that the oil is hot enough drop in a small cube of bread, it should instantly sizzle rise to the top and turn golden brown within seconds, otherwise dip the tip of a wooden spoon handle into the oil, if the oil is hot enough the handle will sizzle.
3. Working in batches of a handful at a time carefully drop the dry vegetable slices into the oil. Gently move them around so they don’t stick together and lift out when golden brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle liberally with sea salt while hot. The chips will crisp up as they cool. Once cold store in an airtight container – if you can resist eating them, then and there.

food dept fact: Any root vegetable can be used for this recipe. Carrots and parsnips can be cut into ribbons for frying with a vegetable peeler.

Best ever rosemary roast potatoes 
Serves 6
Gorgeously golden potatoes from the gods, salty crunchy spuds. there are so many varieties of beautiful potatoes that are great to roast, look for the starchy varieties rather than the waxy ones. We love the good old fashioned brushed (Sebago) potatoes.

• 1kg Sebago potatoes, peeled
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
• Sea salt flakes

1. Preheat oven to 200˚C (400˚F).   
2. Cut the potatoes into quarters, approximately 5cm pieces. Place into the large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. 
3. Drain well until potatoes are dry and return the potatoes to the pot, give them a good shake in the pan to roughen up the edges. This helps to get a beautiful crispy outside.  
4. Place the oil into a heavy baking dish and heat in to oven for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and carefully move around the pan to coat in the oil. Sprinkle over the rosemary leaves. 
Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and continue to roast for a further 30 minutes until golden brown and beautifully crisp. 
5. Remove from oven and while hot sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.

Kumera pie
Serves 8
This is the food dept's Australian answer to the tradtional American pumpkin pie. So try kumera instead of pumpkin, for a little aussie twist on Independence day.

• 700g kumera
• 1 quantity sable pastry
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 ½ cups cream
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• extra, 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• Double cream, for serving
• Maple syrup, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 180˚C (360˚F). Cut the unpeeled kumera in half lengthways. Wrap each half in foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Measure 2, firmly packed cups of kumera puree and set aside.
2. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper. Line a 23cm (9inch) pie plate with pastry and pinch the edge to make a decorative rim on the pie. Chill for 1 hour. Reserve the remaining pastry. Line the pastry shell with baking paper and fill with pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside, increase the oven to 200˚C (400˚F).
3. Combine the kumera, brown sugar, eggs, cream, salt and spices in the bowl of a large food processor. Process to combine, set aside.
4. Roll out the remaining pastry and using a maple leaf cutter and or a small knife cut out a variety of different size maple leaf biscuit shapes. Place on a lined baking tray, mark in the veins of the leaves and sprinkle with extra brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes or until brown.
5. Remove the pie weights from the pastry shell, pour in the kumera mixture and bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 180˚C (360˚F) and continue baking for 30 – 40 minutes or until the sweet potato custard sets. Cool and serve with double cream, maple syrup and maple leaf biscuits.

Sable pastry
Makes enough pastry for a 23cm (9inch) pie and decorative leaves.

• 250g  butter, softened
• 125g caster sugar
• 3 egg yolks
• 350g flour

1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until creamy.
2. Add the yolks one at a time through the feeding tube of the processor. Add the flour and pulse the mixture until it comes together to form a dough.
3. Remove from the processor and flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
4. Bring pastry back to room temperature and give it a very gentle knead. Line the pie plate and refrigerate again for 1 hour or until ready to bake.

Thanks to Lauren Chant our photography assistant for helping us on the day of this shoot.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Chicken Rotisserie

It's been a long while since I last used the rotisserie in my oven. A long, long while. When I first bought the oven in fact, about 4 years ago. One of the principle reasons for the purchase was that it came with the means to spit roast chickens and other large lumps of meat. And yet, when I tested out the damn thing for the first time, the whole experience left me feeling rather unnerved and all unnecessary. You see in eager anticipation to get things going, I made a bit of a hash securing my test flight chook to the metal spit which resulted in a queasy display of lolling and tumbling. I hadn't tied up the chicken's legs with string properly so after a couple of revolutions they sprang free and splayed out, thighs akimbo, causing the action of the rotisserie to judder. As it turned round and round, in some staccato fashion and began to sweat and drip from the convective heat, I felt this deep well of sadness, this was no fitting end for a fine, free range bird. Peering through the glass with my face illuminated by the soft orange glow of the oven light didn't do me any favours at all. There I was, reduced to the status of a peeping Tom, lasciviously watching this poor creature's last, awkward dance and I ended up feeling rather sordid and sick. The fact that Careless Whisper was playing on the radio didn't help either. I never did eat that chicken.

So yes, I have left the rotisserie well alone for the last few years. But then I spotted a tweet on Twitter from Helen of Food Stories, bemoaning that a flat she was hoping to rent had fallen through. Not so much worried about that the fact she needed a roof over head, Helen's main beef was that the prospective new accommodation had an oven with a rotisserie and that all the various opportunities for rotisserrisationing has been snatched away from her. Well, that is indeed a fine display of foodie credentials. Here is someone who couldn't give a flying fig about where she lived, just so long as she had a spit to cook with. Bravo to that cave woman.

And it got me thinking, I really should have another crack at using my rotisserie again. So I went out and bought another chicken this weekend and this time, made sure that everything was fastened in place. The result? Well it reminded me just how brilliant a rotisserie can be. Who needs to worry about dried out, cardboard flesh when you have a device that enables continuous basting, keeping everything succulent and moist? Why did I let that first time put me off? Sure, my guilty feet have got no rhythm and though it's easy to pretend, I know I'm not a fool. Especially when I came up with the idea of sticking some spuds to roast underneath to catch all those lovely juices. No, I am now going to expand my repertoire of rotisserrisationing and am already thinking about recreating one of those elephant leg, lamb doners that you lust after on a Saturday night. Using quality meat of course, although I might have to up end the oven.

This is just the beginning.

Securely fastened this time

Let's get rotisserrrrising!

Sizzling spuds in chicken juices


Perfect roast potatoes

Je t'aime mon poulet chaud (NSFW)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

MEDIA – HOT OFF THE PRESS – we have made it into delicious magazine

We are all super excited today, as we have a small story (snippet really!) in Australian delicious magazine which hits news stands today.
We love they have chosen our chocolate layer cake image, because it has been really popular with all of you. 

Our next food feature is looking great and is almost ready to go live, so we better get back to work.

Cook create + laugh!
the food dept.