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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The book is here.

Agghh it is here. Ever since I received the Julia Child scholarship two years ago I have been working on a book. A book on bistronomy. A French (well loosely french) food philosophy that combines the technique, rigour and creative wonder of Michelin with a more casual cafe environment. With more than 100 recipes from chefs spanning the globe the book also delves into the type of chef, terroir, wine and the philosophies behind it. It has been a fascinating, hugely entertaining, stressful and awe inducing process. I signed the contract for the book in the throes of terrible morning sickness - anyone on Sydney's lower north shore who witnessed a woman vomiting in the street bin just outside Allen & Unwin/Murdoch Books - I apologise. Deeply. 

While writing the book I renovated a house and at 39 weeks pregnant had no bathroom to speak of and no desk to write. But somehow I submitted on time. I'm still not quire sure how. Challenge seems to be the subtext of the book though and I managed several photoshoots with chefs, ingredients being confiscated at airports and all sorts of fun things with a 14 week baby along for the ride.

Perhaps not my finest hour (s) but I live to tell the tale and guess what, I think its a pretty fine book. I hope you do to and I'd love to know what you think. Here are a few sneak peaks and I will be putting more up soon with some great behind the scenes to give you an idea of what was involved and how we went about shooting so many different chefs and styles. The photos below are from a recent Broadsheet review of the book. There will be recipes and giveaways and all sorts of book pimping kind of posts to follow. But only good ones I promise. xo

 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Chorizo Panzanella Salad with Poached Egg and Black Lava Salt


Spring is almost here - you can sense it, despite what the great outdoors are trying to convince us of late. We might not be entering full salad territory, the residual cold begging for something a little more boisterous and filling, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bridge the gap and this salad does just that.
It’s hearty with the poached egg and chorizo elements and boisterous enough to stand alone as a meal from breakfast through to dinner, or equally as a side note to a roast chicken or lamb. Basically, this humble number is the dish that keeps on giving and we can’t ask much more than that from a salad.
 Serves 6
Ingredients
Half a sourdough loaf, roughly torn
160 ml red wine vinegar
160 ml olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
2 large chorizo sausage (spicy), sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large cucumber, roughly chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
350g mixed tomatoes or about 4 medium ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
20 Sicilian (or green) olives
3 tbsp chopped coriander, parsley and basil
3-6 organic, free range eggs (depending on whether or not you want one per serve)
1 generous tbsp fig vincotto
Black lava salt to serve (optional)

Method
Place the bread in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, cumin, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle mixture over the bread. Leave for 10 minutes for the flavours to combine.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread out the bread. Place in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.
Meanwhile place chorizo on an oiled grill plate of a barbecue or frying pan over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool slightly and reserve the oil in the pan for serving.
Bring a large shallow saucepan of lightly salted water to just below the boil over high heat, reduce heat to low. Carefully break eggs into saucepan and poach, spooning water over eggs, until cooked to your liking (3 minutes for soft-poached). Gently remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm.
Mix remaining ingredients, chorizo and bread, in a large bowl and top with the poached eggs. Spoon over a little of the reserved oil and the fig vincotto and a sprinkling of black salt and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cooking the Books: Tasty Express by Sneh Roy



You could say that I have a bit of a foodie crush on Sneh Roy. Much like her, her food is gorgeous, warm and inviting. I don't adore social media except for the opportunities it creates to cross paths with the likes of Sneh. We are twitter friends, if there is such a thing. And I believe I may have met  my match when it comes to obsessing over cookbooks and feeding people from the heart. 
After cooking from her book, Sneh is, as I had always suspected, a bloody genius. Cripes it's tasty. I've had a rough time on the home front of late and wanted simple, soul fortifying fresh and tasty food. Sneh delivered. So I suggest you allow her to do the same for you. But if I can't convince you - the roasted milo granola (yes I did just say milo granola) most certainly will.
Sneh Roy probably needs no introduction here. She is the food blogging force behind Cook Republic - easily one of the most prolific food blogs out there. She also writes for Elle magazine and her work generally seems to pop up all over the place. Normally I have stayed away from bloggers, focusing here on cookbooks from chefs but Sneh really holds her own and this is a book I feel needs to be celebrated. 
Sneh Roy Granola made then photographed by me before it was eaten in five seconds flat
Sneh's Roasted Milo and Choc Chip Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup rice bubbles (I used puffed rice from the local healthfood store)
1/2 cup milo (plus the one or two teaspoons you know you'll eat while preparing it)
1/2 cup raw shelled peanuts (I used raw cashews because that's all I had)
1/4 cup maple syrup
40g butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of white, milk and 75% dark)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients except the chocolate chunks in a bowl and toss to combine. Place the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool to just warm. Toss the chocolate through the mixture and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Although it won't last that long I promise.
Epicentres of culinary good taste of course! As always I try to champion the local bookstore or the author direct here or Sneh also lists suppliers for you to go to. So helpful.

Failing that the usual online suppliers will bring the book to your door.
There is a substantial commitment to breakfast and supper. In other words - exactly my kind of book. And the fact that you are here reading I'd safely say its yours too. From smoothies to masala omelette jaffles (seriously spectacular) to the wholemeal japanese pancakes and kachumber pappadums - the list is long and glorious.
Because this is one of those books that you know you'll go back to again and again to cook from. Simple, tasty and different enough to keep you excited, super excited in fact. I tend to find the best cookbooks are those that are lustworthy - that you want to curl up on the couch with while sipping a fantastically oversized glass of red - or totally kitchen stained - go to kind that you leaf through again and again when dinner choices have you beaten. My copy is already stained with the toils of my dinner and the book wears my stains gloriously. Its a perfect gift for the keen cook and time poor alike. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dark chocolate peppermint brownie with chocolate mint

How did that happen. Somehow 3 weeks have passed between the last blog post and today. Sorry. Life intrusively (and inconveniently) got in the way.  But I'm hoping you'll forgive me. I come with gifts, specifically gifts of the brownie variety. Surely, surely that means you'll let it pass this time.



I like to think of this as a safe place. One where I can openly admit to liking peppermint slice, aero or the odd sneaky peppermint cream. There is something intoxicating about mint and chocolate. Add brownie into the mix and well, that seems self-explanatory.

People divide – some like brownie dense and fudge like, some prefer it to be more like cake with a flaky crust. This version seems to sit happily across the two. Its middle gives way while the crust and flaked top gives some resistance. And it’s fresh despite being rich thanks to the addition of a good quality dash of peppermint oil. Make sure you add the oil slowly and it is worth the extra dollar or so to use an oil rather than the peppermint essence which is mouth cloyingly sweet. I like to add it at the very end, depending on the bitterness of the chocolate, it can dull the peppermint so taste, taste, taste. There you go, I just provided the ultimate excuse to eat brownie batter. Enjoy. It’s a party in your mouth. A very minty, chocolatey and amazing party.

Serves 12

Ingredients
280g butter, softened
500g caster sugar
5 eggs
30g dark brown sugar
125g good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
185g dark chocolate, chopped
185g plain flour, sifted
1-2 drops good quality peppermint oil
Icing sugar, sifted to dust
Chocolate mint leaves to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 30cm x 23cm x 4cm baking tin with baking paper.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix in the brown sugar. Sift the flour and cocoa together and fold into the mixture. Stir through the chocolate and carefully add the peppermint oil stirring until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin.
To serve cut the brownies into large squares, dust with icing sugar and scatter over the chocolate mint. Best served at room temperature.