Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A pretty cous cous salad

Time to call a spade a spade and be honest about one thing. Cous cous is two minute noodles for grown-ups. It’s just a bit of weirdly rubbery, but rewardingly tasty stuff that gets boiled in water, lathered in seasoning and inhaled at warp speed with a kind of undimmed fury.

I’ve embraced the notion of dressing it up here with salad that is as close as you might get to eating a bunch of flowers from a plate. Pretty non? There is an emphasis on fresh herbs and some zingy fruit pieces which lightens the whole proposition and if you were wanting to make a real meal out of it, serve it with a silky hummus whipped up with tahini and lots of fluffy, warm flatbread washed down with icy cold white wine. Yep that is definitely a meal for grown ups.
 Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
170g Israeli cous cous
500ml chicken stock
pinch saffron threads
1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled, segmented
saffron threads
1 small handful of cranberries
1 small handful of watercress leaves
6 tbsp Persian feta
1 tbsp dried flowers*

Dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Method
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add couscous and stir to toast and coat (1-2 minutes). Add chicken stock, saffron threads and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until tender (8-10 minutes). Drain off any excess liquid and set aside. While the cous cous is still slightly warm, add the Persian feta and stir gently to combine. Turn out into a serving dish and top with remaining ingredients.
Mix the dressing ingredients, stir to combine and dissolve the sugar then drizzle over the dressing to taste, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


* Available from the Essential Ingredient or the Melbourne Food Depot

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Golden Rough

I had what can only be described as an epic craving for a golden rough – that delightful disc of milk chocolate and coconut. No such luck. I feared it wasn't meant to be – they exist on Ebay in boxes of 100s yes but at any of my local food stores, no.
So I took it upon myself to make a dessert that would quell any current and future needs for all things chocolate and coconut. This is it and you are going to want to get face deep in it immediately. It's a hedonistic mix of coconut chocolate and buttermilk cake, vanilla and chocolate ice cream and coconut macarons. It will see my coconut chocolate fix (and yours) into the next millennium.
Obviously you are going to have more cake than what is needed but when is too much cake EVER a problem? Exactly. My thoughts also. You're welcome.
This also works just as well if you create your own 'mix ins' combining everything into a crunchy, cakey chilled mix to eat at warp speed causing cold headaches and the need to lie down immediately on the couch under the fan post consumption. The only way summer desserts should be consumed.

Ingredients
Chocolate coconut buttermilk cake
130g butter
225g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g plan flour
75g dutch cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
300ml buttermilk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 x 250g block of coconut milk chocolate, broken into chunks
coconut macarons (about 2 per serve)
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate ice cream
Method
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugars until pale and creamy. Add the eggs slowly, beating well after each egg is added. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate soda and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine before adding to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla seeds. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are mixed but be careful not to over mix. Gently fold through the chunks of coconut chocolate then pour into the cake tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to col completely.
Cut the cake and crumble about a quarter of it into a bowl. You want about ¼ cup of cake crumbs per serve so cut the cake according to the number of serves you require. Reserve, covered, until ready to serve.
To serve, place the cake crumb in the base of serving glasses. Top with a scoop of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, a few more cake crumbs and then one or two coconut macarons. Continue layering until you can't fit anymore in. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shredded duck dumpling with spiced hoi sin and green onion crunch


Makes 40

This is a quick, cheating version of dumplings where the craving outweighs the desire for a trip out for your secret local best; particularly so when that secret local seems to also be everyone elses and the idea of a line up or quick n dirty yum cha leaves you cold. 
The need for dumplings often comes on hard and fast – they are easily one of the most intensely powerful comforting foods ever devised by a species – silky skins barely containing a bolus of what one can only presume is meat and vegetable in varying degrees – quite simply they are ahhhmazing.
Despite the shortcuts of bought bbq duck  – there is still the folding and steaming effort involved here but the payoff is legendry. The sweetness of the hoi sin combined with the softness of the meat and the odd surprise crunch of crisp duck skin you accidently/purposefully left in there make these little pillows of goodness belong in the bedroom of your mouth. Immediately.

Ingredients
Dumplings
200g BBQ duck meat, coarsely shredded
2 egg yolks
1 carrot, peeled, grated
¼ cup Chinese cabbage, finely chopped
½ red onion, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon freshly shredded ginger
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 x 40 pack wonton wrappers (I used square wrappers)

Topping
2 green onions, finely chopped
fried shallots

Dipping sauce
½ tbsp. Aleppo pepper
½ cup hoi sin sauce or dark sweet soy sauce
Juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon sesame seeds


To make the dumplings mix the dumpling ingredients (except for the wrappers) in a bowl.  Arrange 4 wrappers on a work surface; keep the rest covered with a damp paper towel. Brush the edges of the wrappers with water and drop 1 tablespoon of the filling in the centres then fold all four corners to meet at a peak in centre and squeeze edges to seal. Place peak-side-up on a lightly floured tray and continue with remaining wrappers and duck filling.

Heat oil in a large frying pan, add dumplings, peak-side-up (making sure they don’t touch one another) and cook in batches over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a large bamboo steamer placed over a wok of boiling water and steam until skins are slightly translucent and filling is cooked through (4-6 minutes).
Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Toss the fresh and cooked shallots. Top dumplings with the shallots mixture and serve with the dipping sauce.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chocolate Vino Cotto Pavlova with Balsamic Strawberries and Basil


Chocolate Vino cotto Pavlova with Balsamic Strawberries and Basil 
This is the dessert that defines a season. Nothing beats a sneaky pav in the warm weather, one groaning with fruit and mascarpone cream whipped into submission.
This version is smooth, creamy, tart and sweet all at once – the refreshing meringue crunch and balsamic tingling on the tongue create a gustatory high worth savouring. I remember Maggie Beer adding vino cotto to chocolate pavlova as a way of cutting through the richness and adding a background sweetness. It’s genius. I also adore the similar flavour profiles from Anna Del Conte’s uber traditional balsamic strawberries so this dessert is simply two legends, coming together for a dessert that has big busty flavours stomping all over your tastebuds. I love combining macerated, fresh and dried strawberries – just to up the ante on the party in your mouth.
Obviously I always need to up the chocolate quota (story of my life) so I’ve pressed both milk and dark chocolate chunks into the meringue but feel free to leave this out if you don’t suffer the same affliction.

Ingredients 
Pavlova
6 free range egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups caster sugar
¼ cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
1 generous tablespoon vino cotto (or balsamic vinegar)
Handful of milk and dark lindt chocolate chunks (about 50g)
Balsamic strawberries
500g strawberries washed and hulled
1 ½ tablespoons caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

500g Crème fraiche or mascarpone (to your taste)
250g wild strawberries (with stems if available)
1 handful dried strawberries
Balsamic glaze and basil leaves to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C.Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the salt then very gradually add the sugar, ensuring the sugar has dissolved and fully incorporated after the meringue has reached full peak. It should look stiff and shiny and if you rub some of the mixture between your fingers you shouldn’t feel any sugar granules. Sift in the cocoa and gently stir to combine – don’t worry if its not entirely uniform. Mound the meringue mixture onto the baking paper in a rough circle shape then smooth the sides and tops gently with a spatula keeping in mind the peaks and troughs keep it interesting.
Gently push the chocolate chunks into the meringue then place in the oven and cook for 60-70 minutes. Allow to cool.
To prepare the balsamic strawberries halve or quarter any larger strawberries. Sprinkle the strawberries with the sugar as soon as the meringue goes in the oven and gently toss to coat. About 30 minutes before serving pour the vinegar over the strawberries and toss again.
Plate the meringue and smear the crème fraiche over the top. Scatter over the balsamic strawberries then top with the fresh strawberries and the dried strawberries. Scatter over the basil leaves and drizzle any balsamic glaze if using then serve immediately.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Kitchen Kit Roadtest: Proline Series 5 Speed Cordless Hand Blender

This is not a paid post. Just wanted to clarify that up front. I thought it would be good if I was doing a giveaway with Bistronomy French Food Unbound and a KitchenAid hand blender that I give you a bit more info on what that actually entails.
A 5 speed cordless hand blender with 5 attachments and 2 blending arms so you can puree, chop, shred, froth and whisk your life away. It is charged using a lithium rechargeable battery and the battery life is really good.
Quite a few I've got to say. I am really impressed with the quality and useability of this blender AND the attachments are actually relevant to use. Too many times have I bought a 'kit' only to find the majority of attachments complete crap and a waste of my treasured cupboard space. Finally a product in tune with your needs in the kitchen.
  • The parts come in a container. Yes it looks a little bit like a briefcase but its handy. It means you aren't rummaging around your kitchen swearing profusely while you try to find the damn whisk attachment.
  • Its cordless. Such a big plus for mobility around the kitchen and it comes with a lithium-ion battery for charging. In other words it actually works and this machine holds power. I cannot tell you how good it is to be able to run around the kitchen without having it attached to a powerpoint. FREEDOM!
  • Pan and blade guards. If you want to froth a sauce reducing in the pan you can without fear of scratching your cookware. Genius right? 
  • Extended blending arms so you can blend in deep pots or bowls. Genius again.

The unit itself is pretty sleek while the box of attachments is a little bulkier but it is still streamlined and very very nice to use. It feels weighty in your hands but only in the sense of quality rather than any kind of cumbersome piece of equipment and usage is very intuitive - the controls exactly where you'd expect them to be on the unit etc etc.


Some of the parts are dishwasher safe and some are not. I feel like I am fighting the inevitable. Either handwash them all or live in fear of putting the wrong part in the dishwasher #storyofmylife.

I guess cost is also a factor. At $499 it's not something you are going to purchase on a whim but perhaps that's a good thing. Save yourself from the $80 crap and put the money towards something that will last. I have learnt the hard way many times before, you really do get what you pay for. And at least with this you can really see where the money goes. So yes it might pinch but you will be happy about it once you get into the kitchen with it.

So far I've used it for pureeing, smoothies, chopping and making emulsions and sauces. My final test (this weekend) will be using the whisk attachment to see how it battles eggwhites for meringue but so far so good. It is fast, precise and not noisy at all. Unlike other units where some attachments/components work better than others I really can't fault these and my pet hate - those blenders that screech like nails down a blackboard  - is thankfully not a concern. 



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WIN Win WIn wiN WIN WIN

We're feeling our feelings and would like to give you something. For kicks. We being myself and the delightful peeps at Kitchen Aid Australia. Would you like a signed copy of Bistronomy: French Food Unbound and a $500 Chef's Proline Hand Blender kit? Thought as much. Get involved right here - leave us a comment and let us know you are interested. Like us on facebook or include @kcoquette in your twitter feed. Enter as much as you like. The winner will be drawn at random. It's that easy. I'll be doing a much more detailed review of the hand blender on the blog in coming days so you can see it in action.


Epic Rhubarb Madeleines


Woohoo. Another Bistronomy installment of the baked delight variety from a wonderful chap from over the pond, Dan Pearson.
Dan was one of the very first chefs to come on board for the book project and he is so delightful its ridiculous. So is his recipe for rhubarb madeleines. This version is so light, with just the right amount of butter to give you an outer crust that indulges and caves into light sponge-like submission.
Proust loved them, and given he is far more articulate than I am in conveying their amazingness I leave you with his words on the power of a madeleine and a cup of tea... and no doubt an insane desire to get your cook on, rhubarb madeleine-style. 
“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me... “
—Marcel Proust, In Search Of Lost Time
Rhubarb madeleines
  • Use metal moulds. The slipmat variety of moulds just never give you the same crisp external texture.
  • Buttered and heavily floured moulds add a nice effect during the cooking process, adding flavour and helping to achieve an even golden colour.
  • The key is in the buttery aroma and flavour from the beurre noissette. Take your time with this process.
  • The way I was taught how to make a 'burnt butter' was to put butter in the pan, pan to flame, then when it starts to turn to a caramel colour take it off the heat.
  • Use fridge temperature butter so it doesn't cook so quickly in the pan and risk burning.
  • With a small whisk, constantly whisk the milk solids that caramelise on the bottom of the pan into the fat to accentuate the flavour. The aroma is magic and should smell like buttery toasted nuts. Be sure to scrape all of the milk solids into the mix as it's all flavour that shouldn't be lost.
Makes: 25 large or 40 small madeleines
You will need to begin this recipe one day ahead to marinate the rhubarb.
Ingredients
500g (1 lb 2 oz) rhubarb
1 orange, zest and juice
3 heaped tablespoons raw (demerara) sugar
20g (3/4 oz) fresh ginger
300g (10 1/2 oz/1 1/3 cups) caster sugar
300g (10 1/2 oz) egg whites (approximately 10 eggs)
120g (4 1/2 oz) cake flour, sifted
120g (4 1/4 oz/1 1/4 cups) almond meal, sifted
300g (10 1/2 oz) butter
icing sugar, to dust
Method
Put the rhubarb, orange zest and juice, sugar and ginger in a bowl. Cover tightly to seal and leave overnight in the refrigerator to marinate. Remove the rhubarb, discard the marinating liquid, and dice the rhubarb into 2 cm (3/4 inch) cubes and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220C, grease the madeleine moulds and set aside.
Mix the caster sugar and egg whites in a standmixer until soft peaks form. Add the sifted flour and almond meal a little at a time to prevent the mixture from clumping. Make a beurre noisette by heating a frying pan over medium heat until hot, add the butter and cook, swirling constantly, until it turns a nut-brown colour. Allow to cool before folding the brown butter gently through the madeleine mixture. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and place in the refrigerator until firm (about two hours before use).
Pipe the madeleine mixture into the moulds until they are three-quarters full. Gently place a piece of marinated rhubarb in the centre of each madeleine and bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes or until they are golden brown and spring back lightly to the touch. Turn out, dust with icing sugar and eat.
Chef Dan Pearson’s tips for epic Madeleines

  • Use metal moulds. The slipmat variety of moulds just never give you the same crisp external texture.
  • Buttered and heavily floured moulds add a nice effect during the cooking process, adding flavour and helping to achieve an even golden colour.
  • The key is in the buttery aroma and flavour from the beurre noissette. Take your time with this process.
  • The way I was taught how to make a 'burnt butter' was to put butter in the pan, pan to flame, then when it starts to turn to a caramel colour take it off the heat.
  • Use fridge temperature butter so it doesn't cook so quickly in the pan and risk burning.
  • With a small whisk, constantly whisk the milk solids that caramelise on the bottom of the pan into the fat to accentuate the flavour. The aroma is magic and should smell like buttery toasted nuts. Be sure to scrape all of the milk solids into the mix as it's all flavour that shouldn't be lost.