Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas holiday break and not overdoing it too much with the food and drink. I got given a couple of great books to add to my ever growing cookbook collection Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman, Brian Polcyn and Thomas Keller; and Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan. So Boxing day will be a nice relaxing day reading my new books, along with recovering from sun burn and overindulgence.

I made up another batch of Garlic Confit and got a video of the jars just as I pulled them from the pressure cooker, the jars are sealed and still under pressure, the boiling stopped as soon as the lids were removed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pressure cooked mustard

I've been meaning to make pressure cooked mustard seeds ever since I got my hands on a pressure cooker. The original method by Dave Arnold can be found on Cooking Issues (about half way down the page).

Get a couple of pots on to boil.

Blanch 1/2 a cup of mustard seeds in 3 changes of water. Strain the mustard seeds and add to the pressure cooker with 1 litre of cider vinegar. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.

Strain the mustard seeds and season. I used some honey, whiskey and flaky sea salt.

Monday, December 19, 2011


The slow down is coming, last day of work tomorrow and then three blissful weeks of nothing. Hopefully these cold winds will die out and give way to some summer sun so the barbecue can be fired up again and large pieces of meat can be grilled.

The above salsa is great on grilled red meat (or even a nice filling for taco). Grilled corn cut off the cob, red cabbage, spring onion, confit of garlic, chipotle (with some of the adobo sauce that comes in the can), a good splash of cider vinegar and olive oil, season to taste and let it sit for at least half an hour.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Summer Soup

It seems like only last week that the bean stalks only had a few lonely pods hanging from them, but now they sag heavily laden with plump broad-beans ready for picking. The herbs also have had a massive growth spurt in this strange hot but humid weather, especially the parsley. The potatoes I planted, what feels like an age ago, should finally this coming weekend be ready to harvest (fingers crossed).

It was all feeling quite green, lively and summery, the type of day you either chuck a huge piece of red meat on the barbecue sit out side with a cold beer (cocktail or wine) and get heat stroke, or, as I did, go the other direction and have a warm (not hot) aromatic, take advantage of all the great produce, soup.

I had some home-made chicken stock in the freezer and a couple of chicken thighs in the fridge. I defrosted the stock on the stove and then gently poached the chicken in the simmering stock, making sure to skim of any scum that formed.

While the chicken was cooking, I set about preparing the vegetables, a red onion; bunch of asparagus; carrots; confit garlic (again, a staple for the fridge); spring onion; celery; olives; parsley; broad beans; and peas.

The carrots, asparagus stalks (not tips), onions, celery, and garlic were set aside in one bowl to cook first, as they take a bit longer to become tender.

And the remainder in another bowl, ready add at the last minute.

I gently sautéed the first lot of vegetables on a low heat, to soften slightly. As they cooked, I took the chicken out the stock and shredded the meat off the bone, then strained the stock. I added the stock to the pan, a small handful of fusilli pasta, and let it simmer gently for about 8 minutes.

After about 8 minutes the pasta should almost be cooked. I then added the rest of the vegetables, herbs, shredded chicken, and a squeeze of lemon. Tasted and adjusted seasoning (and added a small shake of chilli flakes).

When the pasta is cooked (about 3 minutes more) take it off the heat and let it sit to cool down a little, this soup shouldn't be eaten piping hot.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pasta for one

Home alone for dinner tonight, and I felt like cooking, but not overdoing it as I usually do. There was an amazing pasta dish (cacio e pepe, pasta with black pepper and pecorino) on the latest episode of Anthony Bourdain's The Layover, and it put the idea of making pasta in my head.

With Ratio by Michael Ruhlman in hand, I set about making the pasta dough. The ratio for pasta dough is 3 parts flour to 2 parts egg (by weight). I weighed my egg (60 grams) and poured 90 grams of flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and start working in the egg. When a dough forms tip it on to the bench. Kneed until smooth and no longer sticky (5-10 minutes).

Let it rest for 30 minutes (or a minimum of 10).

I used a hand cranked pasta machine to roll the dough out into a sheet and then passed through the cutter. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes

While I didn't prepare cacio e pepe, I did still keep it simple. Minced black olive, black pepper, parsley, garlic confit and a little extra olive oil. Toss through the cooked pasta with a little of the cooking water, and serve.

A great little tool for mincing leafy green herbs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Sophie and I spent Friday afternoon picking up some Christmas shopping and enjoying the Wellington sun. After the hard slog of trudging shop to shop we finally sat down and relaxed with a cold glass of wine on Oriental bay. With our glasses drained, and contemplating another glass or moving on, we decided to try out Kaede which we had wandered past on the waterfront (22 Herd St). Arriving just as the restaurant was opening, we thought to wait awhile and take in the view on the dock, when we had seen the second boat being hoisted up to dry dock we headed inside. Lucky we didn't wait too much longer as we managed to snag the only unreserved table.

The décor is eclectic and staff could of been a bit friendlier. But we were there for the food, so unperturbed by the less than friendly welcome, we set about eyeing up the menu. There is a diverse selection of dishes, and a happy change from the standard Japanese restaurant menu I'm used to seeing.

We ordered a variety of dishes rather than going for a appetiser and main. Takowasabi(diced raw octopus with wasabi); Smelt(small fish air dried then grilled), you eat the whole fish head and tail; Air dried whole squid finished on the grill; Takoyaki(fried octopus balls), I am an addict of these and if they're on a menu I'll order them; Fried soft-shell crab; Edamame, yet another addiction that is ordered at any opportunity; and seaweed salad (an addiction of Sophie's).

I don't eat or cook a lot of seafood, so Sophie was a little shocked with some of my ordering choices, but everything should be tried at least once. The only thing I found challenging was the raw octopus, but I think it was served far too cold, and was enjoyed more near the end of the meal when it had lost the icy edge. I absolutely loved the squid, very tender and very tasty.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal there, despite less than perfect service, it did not detract from what was very tasty food which came out quickly and was cooked wonderfully. The 7 dishes, 1 large beer and a large jug of sake came to only slightly more than $70 which is an absolute bargain.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


A few new additions to the bookshelf, I had to restrain myself at Unity books yesterday as there are so many books I want and are pretty reasonably priced.

I picked up Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson, there are so many recipes in this I have to make and as I read them I wish I was already making them; Larousse Gastronomique: Meat Poultry and Game a great reference book; and A Day at elBulli full of amazing photography and lots of information, it does contain recipes but I doubt they will be attempted, it was purchased unashamedly as food porn.

All in all Friday was a successful day, hot sun, cold wine, some Christmas shopping done, great books bought, an awesome dinner at Kaede and icy refreshing Caipirinha cocktails outside at home as the sun set.