Salmon Ankake

20180328_200521When we began Recipe Road, we listed our favourite cuisines that we hoped to explore. We’ve presented some French dishes, and plan to explore Italian cuisine after our travels in Italy later this year. Japanese is our other love, and we know we’re not alone here! Who can resist the delicacy of finely sliced sashimi or sushi with a side of soy sauce, wasabi and some pickled ginger? For us it’s using the flavours of sake, mirin, soy sauce and rice vinegar in various combinations that keeps us inspired; whether it’s creating a simple teriyaki dish or something a little more complex like this salmon dish. The joy of this dish is the beautiful sauce, which enhances the natural flavour of the salmon fillet and vegetables.

We have adapted this recipe from Adam Liaw’s wonderful book The Zen Kitchen.

Serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small salmon fillets, skin removed
  • ¼ cup cornflour
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 10g bonito flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into batons
  • 4 spring onions, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sake
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 100g enoki mushrooms, trimmed and broken into clumps
  • 2 spinach plants, washed and cut into 5cm lengths
  • ¼ tsp chilli oil

Method:

  1. Dust the salmon in cornflour and shake off any excess. Pour the oil into a wok or pan to a depth of 2cm, and heat to 180°C. Shallow-fry the salmon for about 2 minutes each side, until barely cooked and just beginning to colour. Keep warm in a very low oven until ready to serve.
  2. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from the heat. Add the bonito flakes and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, discarding the solids, and set aside.
  3. In another saucepan, heat 2 tsp oil over a high heat. Add the garlic, carrot and half of the spring onion and fry for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the ginger and cook for another minute. Add the bonito stock, soy sauce, sake, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar, and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, then add the cornflour mixture in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Add the remaining spring onions, enoki mushrooms and spinach and cook for one more minute, until the sauce thickens to a silky consistency and the vegetables wilt slightly. (We prefer the vegetables just slightly wilted, if you’d like the mushrooms and spinach more cooked, add them to the saucepan with the ginger and before the liquids are added.)
  4. Place each salmon fillet in a serving dish and arrange the vegetables across the fillet. Spoon the sauce into the bowl around the fillet. Finish with a few drops of chilli oil, if you like.

 

Bourbon and Maple Glazed Pork Ribs with Smoked Corn Salad

20180331_203118This week we continued to draw inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Nopi cookbook. As always, we were inspired by the flavours these chefs use, and this recipe contained a new technique for us, smoking the corn. This was surprisingly easy, there was no fancy equipment required. Simply place the corn cobs in a colander or steaming basket (we used a bamboo steaming basket) inside a large pot sealed with a lid. The smoke comes from burning the husks of the corn in the base of the pot. If you struggle to find corn with the husks still attached, you could use rice instead. Just line the base of the pan with aluminium foil and spread 200g of uncooked rice across the base. If you do this, the cooking time will need to be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. The cooking times for smoking need to be precise: cook for too long and the smoky flavour can become overpowering.

The real star of this dish is the ribs though, be prepared to get messy and enjoy the delicious glaze and tender pork ribs!

Serves six people.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg pork spare ribs, cut into 12 equal small racks of 2 or 3 ribs per rack.
  • 80g coarse sea salt
  • 35g ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • 100ml Shaoxing rice wine
  • 100ml rice vinegar

Smoked Corn Salad:

  • 4 large corn cobs, with husks
  • 15g lemon thyme sprigs
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 20g coriander leaves
  • 20g mint leaves
  • 20g parsley leaves
  • 2 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced

Glaze:

  • 130g shallots, thinly sliced
  • 350ml bourbon
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup
  • 1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

 

Method:

  1. Place the ribs in a large bowl with the salt. Rub the ribs all over with the salt and set aside for an hour.
  2. Rinse the salt from the ribs under cold water, then pat dry. Put the ribs into a large saucepan for which you have a lid, and add the ginger, onion, garlic, star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns. Pour over the stock, Shaoxing wine and rice vinegar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for an hour.
  3. Remove the pork and set aside. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids and return to the pan. Place on a high heat and reduce the liquid to 200ml. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Remove the husks from the corn and use them to line the base of a large saucepan or wok which is deep enough to fit a colander or steaming basket inside, and for which you have a lid. Add the sprigs of thyme and place the pan on a high heat. Once the husks begin to smoke, place the the corn cobs inside the colander or steaming basket, and place this inside the pan. Seal the pan with a lid and smoke for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, still covered, for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and set aside to cool.
  5. Stand each corn cob on a cutting board and use a large knife to shave the corn kernels from the cob. Make sure you cut deeply enough that some of the kernels remain in clusters. Set the corn kernels aside and discard the cobs.
  6. About 45 minutes before you are ready to serve, place all of the ingredients for the glaze, along with 100ml of the stock reduction in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced to 200ml and has the consistency of a syrup, about 20 minutes. Return the pork ribs to the sauce and stir gently so they are coated in the syrup. Cook for about 7 minutes more, until the ribs are warmed through and sticky.
  7. Just before serving, prepare the salad in a large bowl by whisking together the lime juice, maple syrup, olive oil, chilli and salt. Add the corn kernels, herbs and spring onion and mix well.
  8. To serve, on each plate lean two small racks of ribs against each other and serve with the salad alongside. Garnish with a few sprigs of lemon thyme, if you like.

Grilled Figs with Almond Crisp and Verjuice Sabayon

20180331_221618Figs are in season here in Sydney and every store seems to have plump, juicy figs on display. We couldn’t resist any longer, and decided to try Maggie Beer’s grilled fig recipe. Simply glazing and grilling the figs is a great way to highlight the great quality produce. The Almond Crisp and Verjuice Sabayon add texture and tartness respectively, but don’t detract from the real star of this simple dessert.

We have adapted this recipe from one in Maggie Beer’s Maggie’s Verjuice Cookbook.

Serves four people.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe figs
  • 3 tsp vino cotto
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • mint leaves, to garnish (optional)

Almond Crisp:

  • 60g flaked almonds
  • 35g brown sugar
  • 25ml verjuice

Verjuice Sabayon:

  • 1 cup (250ml) verjuice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°
  2. Place the Almond Crisp ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 18 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the cooking time. Watch carefully in case the sugar burns. Once the almonds are a pale golden colour, remove the tray from the oven and set aside to cool. Break into shards.
  3. To make the sabayon, simmer the verjuice in a saucepan until reduced to 100ml. Set aside to cool. Fill a saucepan one-third full of water and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl that fits over the saucepan without touching the water. Whisk the yolks and sugar together, slowly adding the cooled verjuice a little at a time. Continue whisking for around 8 minutes, or until the sabayon thickens to the point where it forms ribbons and holds its shape when lifted with a spoon. Remove from the heat and cover the surface with cling film.
  4. Preheat a barbecue plate or chargrill pan to high heat.
  5. Mix the vino cotto and olive oil together. Cut the figs in half lengthways and brush the cut surface with the vino cotto mixture. Place the cut sides down on the very hot chargrill pan, and cook until well caramelised, around 2-3 minutes.
  6. On one side of each plate, arrange three fig halves and a shard or two of the Almond Crisp. On the other side, place a dollop of sabayon, and smear across the plate. Alternatively, serve the sabayon in a ramekin on the side.

 

Glazed Chocolate Mousse and Cherry Sorbet with Almond and Pistachio Crumb

20180307_213757Here’s another Recipe Road invention we created for our friend’s birthday party a few weeks ago. We wanted a rich chocolate dessert to finish the night, but hoped to cut through the richness with something fresh and light. As we had featured cherries in our main dish (Roasted Pork Rack with Cherries and Onions), we decided to link the two dishes by making a cherry sorbet. The combination worked beautifully, with the sorbet cleansing the palate between each bite of the rich chocolate mousse. The almond and pistachio crumb adds a bit of texture and crunch to the dish so it has everything, really! We hope you enjoy.

Serves 6 people.

Chocolate Mousse:

  • 225g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
  • 160g butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 90g cocoa powder
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 90ml thickened cream, whipped

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Once melted and combined, set aside to cool. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the egg yolks with a spatula. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into the chocolate mixture, and stir well to combine. In another bowl, beat the egg whites and sugar to make a soft peak meringue. Gently fold the meringue and then the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into a 1 inch-deep baking tray lined with cling film and transfer to the freezer to set.

Cherry Sorbet:

  • 100g raw sugar
  • 300g cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 egg white
  • 550g ice cubes

Pour sugar into a sturdy food processor (we used a thermomix). Mill on a high speed for 10 seconds (Thermomix speed 9). Add the cherries, egg white and 350g of the ice cubes and blend for 20 seconds, starting at a low speed and gradually increasing to maximum speed (Thermomix speed 10). Add the remaining ice and blend for around 1 minute more, until the mixture has reached a smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.

Golden Honey Glaze:

  • ½ tsp gin
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp gold powder

Mix the gin and honey in a bowl, once the mixture becomes thinner, add the gold powder and mix well.

Toasted Golden Almonds:

  • 42 whole almonds, halved lengthways
  • ½ of the Golden Honey Glaze

Toast the halved almonds and then brush with the golden honey glaze. Set aside on a tray to dry.

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 2 gelatine sheets (8g)
  • 50g water
  • 85g sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 45g cream

Bloom the gelatin by soaking it in cold water. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cocoa powder, and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat immediately. In a separate saucepan, warm the cream, then combine it with the chocolate mixture. Add the gelatin, stir to combine and set aside. Cool the mixture to room temperature to glaze.

Glazed Chocolate Mousse

  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Chocolate Glaze
  • Toasted Golden Almonds

Once the mousse is set, use a 6cm round cookie cutter to cut 6 rounds from the mousse. Rinse the cutter in warm water between cutting each round of mousse. Set the rounds on a cooling rack and pour a little of the glaze over each one, making sure the sides are fully covered. Remove the rounds from the cooling rack and set on a tray lined with baking paper. Decorate the sides of each mousse round with the Toasted Golden Almonds.

 Almond and Pistachio Crumb:

  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup pistachio kernels
  • 5 savoury crackers (we used Eton crackers)
  • A handful of cornflakes

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a rough crumb consistency. Set aside.

To serve:

  • ½ of the Golden Honey Glaze
  • Almond and Pistachio Crumb
  • Glazed Chocolate Mousse
  • Cherry Sorbet
  • 18 micro mint leaves

Across one side of each plate, paint a 4cm stripe of Golden Honey Glaze. On the opposite side of the plate, place a small pile of Almond and Pistachio Crumb, and create a small well in the centre of the pile. Place the Glazed Chocolate Mousse on the stripe. Quenelle the Cherry Sorbet and place in the well of the crumb. Decorate with 3 micro mint leaves and serve.

Recipe Road’s Waldorf Salad

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Recently we cooked a 4-course dinner for a friend’s birthday, and this salad was the first course. We wanted something light to whet the appetite, which was visually striking and delicious. We decided to create our own unique version of the classic Waldorf Salad. One of our core ingredients for the night was good-quality buttermilk, so we incorporated this into the salad dressing in place of the traditional yoghurt. To create some different textures, we kept the crunch of the witlof, celery and toasted walnuts, but added the surprising element of an apple and celery jelly. We were really happy with the result and we hope you give it a try!

Serves 4 people as an entrée or two as a main course.

Apple and Celery Jelly:

  • 250ml cloudy apple juice
  • 2 sheets gelatin (10g)
  • 3 celery leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt and cracked pepper

Bloom the gelatin by soaking it in cold water until it softens. Heat the apple juice in a saucepan over a medium heat until simmering. Add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves, then strain into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Add the celery leaves, salt and pepper, stir and refrigerate overnight.

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1½ Tbsp good-quality red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 80ml canola oil
  • 2 tsp good-quality buttermilk

Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar, and shake until well combined.

Salad:

  • 1 celery stalk, julienned
  • 2 witlofs, leaves seperated
  • Vinaigrette
  • Apple and Celery Jelly, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 100g toasted walnuts

Combine the celery and witlof in a bowl with the Vinaigrette. Place the dressed witlof leaves on the plates, overlapping in a crisscross pattern. Top with dressed celery sticks and the cubes of jelly. Scatter with the toasted walnuts and serve.

 

Roasted Pork Rack with Onions and Cherries

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One of the most inspiring restaurants in the world right now is Eleven Madison Park in New York, which last year became the No.1 restaurant on San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. We love the ethos of chef Daniel Humm, who strives to balance modern techniques with classical flavours. One day we hope to travel to New York to dine there, but for now we have to settle for recreating some of the dishes from the cookbook at home. This week we set aside a day to create our first dish from the book, and chose one which doesn’t have too many unfamiliar ingredients or techniques. Although the number of elements in this dish is daunting, there was actually nothing very difficult about the recipes, and we had fun creating our own spin on the incredible plating in the book.

We have to be entirely honest, though – we did simplify a few things here. For instance, rather than spending 6 hours making a chicken jus (which we’re sure would taste amazing!) we cheated by using chicken stock and pimping it up with some tomato paste. We also changed a few ingredients we couldn’t source, such as particular varieties of cherries and cured pork. If you don’t feel like tackling the whole thing, just making the cherry pork sauce to go with your favourite cut of pork would be totally worthwhile. Similarly, the pickled mustard seeds and pickled cherries were delicious and could be used in so many dishes. Let us know if you give it a try!

We have adapted this recipe from Eleven Madison Park – The Cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara to serve 4 people. You’ll have some extra pickled mustard seeds, onion puree, cherry sauce and brown butter to use another day.

 

Pickled Yellow Mustard Seeds:

  • ¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds. Strain through a fine sieve and refresh with cold running water. Add the vinegar, salt and sugar to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Transfer the mustard seeds to a bowl and pour over the liquid. Cool to room temperature, then cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Roasted Onion Petals:

  • 1 white onion
  • salt
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Toss the onion with salt and olive oil and wrap in aluminium foil. Roast in the oven for 2 hours, or until the onion is soft but still holds its shape. Cool to room temperature. Quarter the onion, remove the skin and separate the onion into individual petals. Trim the ends and cut each petal into half-inch thick strips. Set aside until ready to serve.

Onion Puree:

  • 3 ½ cups thinly sliced white onions
  • ½ Tbsp salt
  • 3 white peppercorns
  • 1 ½ Tbsp butter, plus ½ Tbsp cold butter
  • 3 Tbsp white wine

Season the onions with salt and set aside. Tie the peppercorns in a small piece of cheesecloth. Heat a pan over high heat and add the butter, onions and peppercorn parcel. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute, being careful not to let the onions begin to colour. Add the wine and 1 ½ Tbsp water, cover with a cartouche of baking paper, and cook until the onions are tender, adding more water if the onions begin to dry out. Once the onions are cooked, remove the cartouche and reduce any liquid that is left in the pan. Puree in a blender with the ½ Tbsp cold butter. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois and cool over ice. Set aside until ready to assemble the dish.

Brown Butter:

  • 250g butter
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 clove garlic

Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer slowly for about 40 minutes, until the butter is clear and a light caramel colour. Continue to cook, whisking vigorously until the butter becomes a walnut brown colour. Place the thyme and garlic in a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Strain the Brown Butter over the thyme and garlic, and set aside until needed. Discard the thyme and garlic.

Pork Rack:

  • ½ pork rack (4 chops when sliced), frenched and skin removed
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed but still intact

Preheat the oven to 150°C and place a roasting pan and rack in the oven to heat. Season the pork with salt. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat and then sear the pork, fat side down, until it is evenly browned (about 2 minutes). Add the butter, thyme and garlic and baste for another 2 minutes. Transfer to the preheated roasting rack and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, basting with butter every 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cherry Pork Sauce:

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/8 cup of speck or bacon, diced
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 475g cherries, pitted
  • 3 pods star anise
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • salt

In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the speck. Render the fat for 5 minutes, then strain the oil to remove the solids.

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar to a dark caramel. Add the cherries and star anise. Cook until the cherries are soft, then deglaze with the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Stir to dissolve all of the sugar. Reduce to a glaze and then chill over ice.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken stock and tomato paste, and reduce to 1 cup of liquid. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the glaze. Stir in the rendered fat and season with salt to taste.

Pickled Cherries:

  • 5 Cherries
  • 75ml white balsamic vinegar
  • 75ml water
  • 2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, stir together the vinegar, water and salt, until the salt dissolves. Pit and quarter the cherries, and add to the pickling liquid. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Onions and Cherries:

  • 1 scallion/green onion, white and light green parts only
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • Roasted Onion Petals
  • 4 baby scallions/green onions
  • 8 cherries, pitted
  • ½ Tbsp butter

Shave the scallions into shards with a vegetable peeler, and dress them with the olive oil and salt. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan over a medium heat. Just before you’re ready to serve, add the onion petals, baby scallions and cherries. Toss to combine and add the butter, tossing to glaze.

To Serve:

  • Pork Rack
  • Brown Butter
  • Sea Salt Flakes
  • Cherry Pork Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Onion Puree
  • 8 Pickled Cherries
  • 4 tsp Pickled Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • 4 slices shaved Prosciutto di Parma
  • 12 mizuna leaves

Slice the pork rack between the bones, giving you 4 pork chops. Brush the sides of the pork with brown butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Place a few spoonfuls of the Cherry Pork Sauce on one side of the plate, and top with a pork chop. Beside the pork chop, place a baby scallion. Warm the onion puree in a small saucepan over low heat and spoon 3 small blobs onto each plate above the pork chop. Top two of the piles of onion puree with glazed cherries, and the other with a pickled cherry quarter. Arrange two more pickled cherry quarters, some onion petals, some shaved scallions and a few strands of prosciutto around the plate to your liking. Scatter some pickled mustard seeds around the plate, and garnish with 3 small mizuna leaves.

Lime Yoghurt Cake with Rosewater and Pistachios

IMG_5344We were so impressed with this cake that we decided to include it on our blog even though we hadn’t originally intended to. Ian baked this to take to work for a morning tea, and it was not only easy to make but such a pretty cake that it was almost a shame to eat it. The Middle Eastern flavours of pistachio, rosewater and lime are a great combination, and the yoghurt keeps the cake moist. We had some leftover ground pistachios from making our Madeleines a few weeks ago, but if you’d rather use almond meal that would work just as well. The cake was a hit at work, by the way!

This recipe is adapted from one by Rachel Allen

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 75g ground pistachios or almonds
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g honey
  • 250ml natural yoghurt
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 40g chopped pistachios
  • rose petals, to decorate

For the syrup:

  • 150ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tsp rosewater

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, and grease a 22cm round springform cake tin.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the ground pistachios or almonds and caster sugar, and mix together.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, honey, yoghurt, sunflower oil and lime zest.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and gradually pour in the wet ingredients, mixing together with a whisk until just combined.
  5. Add a few of the chopped pistachios to the mix, if you wish, or retain all of them for decorating.
  6. Pour the cake mixture into the greased tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer stuck into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the tin. Turn out onto a wire rack.
  8. While the cake is cooling, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small pan and bring to the boil. Once the syrup has reduced by half, about 5 minutes, add the lime juice and boil for another 2 minutes. Set aside, and once it has cooled, add rosewater to taste.
  9. Using a skewer, make holes all over the top of the cake, then spoon the syrup across the cake. Scatter the pistachios across the top, and then leave to sit for an hour.
  10. Decorate with rose petals just before serving.

Spinach crepes with goat’s curd and zucchini and pea salad.

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This week’s recipe would be a great dish for a lazy weekend brunch, or an easy midweek dinner. We have adapted these crepes from a recipe by Donna Hay, whose food is always easy but delicious, and who is a master of food styling. We love the freshness of the zucchini and pea salad, contrasted with the creaminess of the goat’s curd and the acidity of the lemon juice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchinis, shredded
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 cups watercress
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 200g goat’s curd
  • lemon slices, to serve

spinach crepes:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups (500ml) almond milk
  • 3 cups (75g) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. To make the spinach crepes, place the flour, eggs, milk, spinach, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a hand-held stick blender, blend until smooth. Heat some of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over high heat, then add 80ml of the mixture, swirling to coat the base of the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the pan and set aside, keeping warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and batter.
  2. Place the zucchini, peas, watercress, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Divide the crepes between plates and top with the goat’s curd, salad and lemon slices. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to serve.

Octopus and Stir-fried kale with black olive and golden raisin salsa.

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Two of our main reasons for starting this blog were to find ways to challenge ourselves, and to cook with ingredients we haven’t used before. This week’s recipe certainly achieved those two goals! We were both a little scared of cooking octopus, but it turned out to be not very difficult and the results were delicious. This would be a great dinner party dish as you can do almost all of the work in advance and leave the octopus to marinate in the fridge overnight. This recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi and Scully’s Nopi cookbook, and like all of Ottolenghi’s recipes, the flavours of each component is perfect. We’ve never found kale particularly tasty, but this stir-fried kale is delicious and would work well as a side dish to any of your favourite mains. If the octopus challenge is too much for you, the salsa and kale would also work well with some fried fish fillets.

We took Ottolenghi’s advice and bought a frozen octopus, which we de-frosted before cooking. This helps to tenderise the meat and prevent it becoming chewy. If you buy a fresh octopus you could tenderise it by bashing it with a rolling pin, or by blanching the tentacles a few times in boiling water. We watched some helpful youtube videos on preparing the octopus (we recommend the videos from Sydney Fish Market for any kind of seafood preparation), as we were unsure if ours had been prepared or not. In the end all we had to do was cut out the eyes and we were ready to start cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large frozen octopus, with head and tentacles (about 1.5kg)
  • 1 small celery stick, roughly chopped
  • 1 small fennel, trimmed and stalk removed, roughly chopped. Reserve the fronds for garnishing.
  • 1 small leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 500ml white wine
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp harissa
  • ½ tsp rose water
  • 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt

Salsa:

  • 50g golden raisins
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced (110g)
  • 100g pitted kalamata olives, finely sliced into circles
  • 1 ½ Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 10g mint leaves

Kale:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 10g unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 300g kale, stalks removed and discarded, roughly chopped
  • 80ml vegetable stock
  • 80ml white wine

Method:

  1. If you need to clean the octopus, cut the head from the body just below the eyes and discard the head. Remove the beak from the top of the tentacles by turning the tentacles inside out and pushing the beak through. Peel and discard any excess skin, leaving the tentacles intact and still held together at the top.
  2. Put the celery, fennel, leeks, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, white wine and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large deep pot. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium low heat. Using a pair of tongs, plunge the whole octopus into the hot water for about 5 seconds. Lift out, then repeat this process twice more. You will see the tentacles beginning to curl up with each plunge. This will also prevent the skin from peeling during cooking. Return the octopus to the water and submerge completely. Cover with a cartouche (a round of baking paper the same size as the pot) and cover with a large plate to ensure the octopus remains submerged. Simmer over a medium heat for 40 to 50 minutes, until the octopus is cooked through. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the octopus, you will know it is cooked when the flesh is tender but retains a little bite.oct2
  3. Remove the octopus from the pot. Set it aside to cool and then transfer to the fridge for an hour or so, until chilled. You should now have about 650g of cooked octopus. Discard the stock and vegetables.
  4. Slice the octopus, leaving the tentacles untouched and cutting into the body to make 2cm thick slices. Place the octopus in a bowl with the olive oil, harissa and rose water. Stir to coat everything well, then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  5. To make the salsa: place the raisins in a saucepan with 80ml of water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour. Drain any remaining liquid and place the raisins in a bowl with the rest of the salsa ingredients, except the mint. Add a grind of black pepper, mix well and set aside until ready to serve.
  6. To cook the kale: add the olive oil and butter to a frypan and place on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until just brown, stirring constantly. Add the kale and keep stirring while you add the stock and wine. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper to taste. Cooke for 3-4 minutes, until the kale has wilted. Drain the kale, shaking it in a colander to dry. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  7. Just before serving, place a griddle or frying pan over a high heat. Toss the octopus in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the griddle is smoking hot, add the octopus and grill for 1-2 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan by working in batches if necessary. Once the octopus is charred and warmed through, transfer to a bowl and toss immediately in the lemon juice.
  8. Shred the mint and stir it through the salsa.
  9. To plate: place some of the kale in a small circle on each plate. Add two small circles of the salsa to each plate. Gently place a piece of octopus over each of the little piles of kale and salsa you have created. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and some halved Kalamata olives (optional).

Banana Napoleon with Coconut Snow and Banana Caramel

FullSizeRenderThis week’s recipe is a challenge for all of you who are scared of fancy looking desserts with multiple components! With Pat’s background in making pastry, this is easy for him but Ian was a little daunted by this recipe. A Napoleon or Mille-feuille is a layered French dessert consisting of alternating layers of puff pastry and pastry cream. We have adapted a recipe by Antonio Bachour, from his book Bachour. His version substitutes filo pastry (so store bought is fine!) brushed with caramel, topped with coconut snow. What’s not to love? Be brave and give it a try, you’ll be surprised how easy it is and you’ll impress everyone with how pretty it looks.

The coconut snow uses tapioca maltodextrin as a binding agent, which can be hard to find. We found some at a specialty store in Sydney, but you could also buy it online if you have trouble finding it.

This recipe yields 12 serves.

Banana Pastry Cream

  • 7g gelatin sheet
  • 2 cups full-cream milk
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 55g corn flour
  • 100g egg yolks
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 55g unsalted butter

Soak gelatin in cold water until softened (this process is called blooming), then squeeze out excess water and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk and sugar and bring to the boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and corn flour. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, a little at first then in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Have an ice bath prepared to set the bowl over if the mixture looks like it’s beginning to split. Once the egg and milk mixtures are combined, return to the saucepan and set over a medium-high heat until thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl set over the ice bath. Add the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Add the butter and banana and stir until the butter has melted. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least an hour, or until set.

Caramel Sauce

  • 114g thickened cream
  • 90g caster sugar

Bring the cream just to the boil in a saucepan, then remove from the heat. Add the sugar to another saucepan with a splash of water, mixing so the sugar is moist. Cook the sugar slowly over a medium heat until it becomes a light amber colour, shaking or stirring the pan every now and then. Once the caramel has reached the colour you like, slowly add the cream in small batches. Be careful as it will splatter and could burn you. Once all the cream is incorporated, cook for another minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Filo Pastry Sheets

  • 8 sheets of filo pastry dough
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup Caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place a sheet of filo on the tray, brush with butter and drizzle with caramel sauce. Repeat this process with six more sheets of filo pastry, then add a final sheet of filo and brush with the butter. Trim the edges of the filo with a paring knife if necessary, and cut into 2 by 4 inch rectangles. Cover with baking paper and top with another baking tray, then bake for around 12 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Set aside and once the pastry is cool, remove from the tray and store in an airtight container.

Coconut Snow

  • 40g tapioca maltodextrin
  • 60g coconut oil
  • 15g icing sugar

Add all ingredients to a food processor and combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally. Set aside.

Banana Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup thickened cream
  • 95g caster sugar
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced

Make the caramel in the same way you made the Caramel Sauce earlier. Once you have combined the sugar and cream, stir in the banana. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Alternatively you could transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Assembly

Brush some of the banana caramel sauce across a plate and top with one rectangle of the prepared filo pastry. Put the Banana Pastry Cream in a piping bag and cut a 1.5cm opening. Pipe the cream onto the filo pastry in two rows of small dollops, and top with a layer of filo pastry. Repeat the process to form a second layer, and top with a final piece of filo pastry. Dust the top layer with Coconut Snow and garnish with edible flowers or micro herbs to serve.