Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Well, you would've thought after two days of food food food, the last thing I’d feel like is getting a little complicated in the kitchen, especially after a five course lunch! Simple intentions, nice 100% pork sausages in a roll with some sauerkraut, easy dinner. The thought of poaching sausages in beer sounded pretty good, but that would require a too much beer for a couple of dogs, beer I had plans on drinking! So then it happened, out came the zip lock bag, couple of sausages placed in there, and half a bottle of beer, now the trick is to fill up the sink with water, do up the zip lock bag except for one corner, then submerge almost to the top, forcing out the air, then seal the corner, you should have a decent air free bag of sausage and beer.

Fill a large pot with water, larger the better, as the more thermal mass you have the easier it is to maintain a constant temperature, it’s also a good idea to fill it with hot water, I know the water out of my hot tap is about 55°C, so it’s a pretty good starting point, as I want to cook the bagged sausages at 62° for an hour, with such a short cooking period and a large enough pot, you shouldn’t have to babysit too much.

The rest of it is pretty simple, slice open a couple of rolls, toast the interior with plenty of butter in a frying pan, heat up some sauerkraut with a little butter, make a bed of cheese in the rolls, brown the now cooked sausage in a hot pan with butter, and then place it in the roll, stuff one side with sauerkraut, pipe on some sour cream and mustard, and sprinkle with a little nigella seed.

It may all seem a bit too much effort for a humble hot dog, and I guess you’d be right, if like me you were only preparing one or two, but ramp up the numbers and this method will save you a lot of time and hassle, as you could prep the sausages early, have them pre-cooked and sitting in the fridge ready to pull out and finish in the pan.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pecha Kucha: Images

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was one of the presenters for the City Market Visa Wellington on a Plate event, Pecha Kucha: Imbibe. The others were Tom Scott, Bella Kalolo, Barry Soper, Rex Morgan, Howard Greive, Nick Churchouse, Steve Joll, Angela Meyer, Katherine Smyth, Helen Masters, Nigel Greening, Paul Sinclair, and Mayatita Southerwood. Apparently there will be a video of each presenter put up on youtube, and I'm sure I'll reluctantly post it on here too, whether or not I can bring myself to watch my own video is another story. But until then, here are the 20 images I used for my presentation, so click the 'read more' to see them all.

1: The Crap Kitchen

Monday, August 20, 2012

Broccoli Quiche

Quiche done right is velvet smooth custard that practically evaporates when eaten, but cooked too long or too hot, the soft gel breaks, curdling and squeezing out the moisture ending up with a soggy acrid mess. So it is important not to cook it in too hot an oven, and keep an eye on it when the edges begin to puff up, once the centre just barely begins to puff, remove it from the oven, it usually takes about thirty to forty minutes in moderately slow oven (170°C), so it will require a little attention for the last ten minutes.

For the Pastry
200g Flour
100g Cold butter
2 tbsp Cream
  • Mix the flour, salt and butter together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs, a food processor is handy, but not necessary.
  • Incorporate enough cream to form a dough.
  • Wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Roll out to about 2mm thick.
  • Place the pastry in a quiche pan.
  • Line the pastry with baking paper and add some weights (rice, dried beans etc).
  • Blind bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the baking paper and bake for 5 minutes more.
  • Remove from the oven and trim the edges.

1 Broccoli cut into bite size florets blanched for a couple of minutes
1 Onion Sliced and sweated in a pan until golden
A handful of grated melting cheese, havarti works well

For the Custard
4 Large eggs
300 ml Cream
200 ml Whole Milk
Salt to taste

Mix together being careful not to add too much air to the custard, but making sure to fully homogenize the ingredients.

The egg custard has just set.

To Assemble
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Line the pastry base with the onion.
Arrange the Broccoli florets.
Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Pour in the Custard, giving it a little shake to make sure it gets in every little gap.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, keep an eye on it near the end, as soon as the middle begins, or even looks like it’s thinking about rising, take it out of the oven. Let it rest on the bench for a few minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Popcorn Grits

Well I managed to stumble my way through my allotted 20 slides, when my turn came up at the City Market Visa Wellington on a Plate event, Pecha Kucha: Imbibe. I won't lie, I was a bunch of nerves standing on stage, all eyes on me, and my slides, mouth dried up, but words managed to flow, I think, although it is a haze, I managed a joke or two, wasn’t booed or humiliated, not suffering from PTSD, in the end it was a lot of fun, and quite proud to be part of the 14 presenters who took to the stage that night. Well on to the regularly scheduled blog post.

I hate waiting for packages, the ten days between seeing “item dispatched” on my orders and the package arriving, I find myself checking the mail daily with growing anticipation followed by soul crushing depression, until it finally turns up. Having a magazine subscription, I get to go through this cycle regularly. The termination of the latest hope-sadness cycle was with Lucky Peach finally landing on my desk, and trying so hard to not to flick through it during work hours, but as soon as I got home I started devouring it page by page.

Flicking my way through the lastest issue, with Americana recipes inspired by the film Diner, which I have ever so vague recollections about, I came across Daniel Patterson's popcorn grits (Lucky Peach, Issue #4, page 83), and I knew I had to make it.

½ cup Popcorn Kernels
¼ cup Oil (something neutral, such as rice bran, rapeseed or canola)
3 cups Water
7 Tablespoons Butter, unsalted
Salt, to taste

  • Over a medium heat, pop the corn in the oil. Be very careful not burn it, sacrifice a few kernels if you have to, but if you burn it, or it smells slightly acrid, bin it.

  • Bring lightly salted water and butter to a simmer.
  • Add a third of the popped corn to the water and simmer for 1 minute.
  • Strain through a sieve, reserving the liquid.
  • Pour the liquid back into the pot, bring back to a simmer.
  • With the back of a spoon press the simmered popped corn through the sieve, scraping the underside into a bowl.
  • Repeat with the other two thirds of the popped corn.

  • Put the purée into a pot loosen with some of the popcorn ‘stock’, I used almost all of mine.
  • Season with salt.
It sounds like it’s a more effort than it actually is, it really only takes a few minutes to prepare, and it’s totally worth it, there’s something odd about eating something with the texture of loose polenta and tasting exactly like buttered popcorn, odd but damn delicious. I sautéed chorizo and field mushrooms to pile on to the grits, spicy earthy flavours to cut through the rich buttery grits.

Corn and mushrooms are pretty good friends on a plate together, corn sweet and nutty, mushrooms earthy and can be meaty and nutty, heck even nature puts it together, and man puts it in a can, à la huitlacoche the fungal infected swollen corn kernels.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pork Skin Puffs

Less than successful in my last attempt at a puffed snack, I was determined to get the next attempt right, I had a plan, well a couple, chicken puffs and prawn puffs, but then I saw a big packet of pork skin sitting in the butchery shelf, and I knew the next puff goodness would be, Chicharrón. Puffed pork skin, made by first boiling the ever loving crap out of the skin in salty water, chill it, scrape off all the fat, the better job of scraping the better the puff, then dehydrating the skin, and finally deep frying.

Boiling the skin is the easier step in the process, just bring a pot of heavily salted water to the boil, add the skin and boil for about an hour. The boiling process gelatinises the collagen in the skin.

Allow the pot to cool down before attempting to handle the skin, when it’s finally at a temperature that’s not going to give you 3rd degree burns, careful lay the skin on a sheet pan, and place in the fridge overnight.

Slice, and scrape off all of the fat from the skin, it’s a bit of a messy process, but the better job you do of removing all the fat the better puff you’ll get.

Slice the the skin into bite size pieces, remember that they shrink a little when dehydrating and will triple in size when puffed. Place a rack on an oven tray and line with some baking paper, and then lay the pork skin on it, leaving room for air to circulate.

Preheat the oven to 50ºC, place the tray in the oven and leave for a couple of hours, then turn off the oven, keep the door shut and leave it alone for another 10 hours. This will need adjusting depending on ambient temperature and humidity, in the end it should almost resemble plastic. You may have to deep fry a couple of test pieces to check if they are dehydrated enough.

Finally, deep frying, heat up oil to about 190ºC, and carefully place the skin in the hot oil and cook until puffed and golden. If they don’t puff too much and have a chewy center, you will need to dehydrate for longer, if they drop to the bottom, don’t puff and burn, I’m sorry but you’re screwed, they’re over dehydrated.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


There is something therapeutic about making risotto, taking very simple ingredients, rice and stock, and turning them into a velvety pile of soul warming goodness. The more attention you give, the better the results, taking time to finely dice and slowly soften the onion or even better shallots, then toasting the rice, slowly stirring in stock one ladleful at a time, patiently waiting for each dose to be absorbed, helping release the starch from the grains making a smooth sauce.

Risotto is best simple with uncomplicated flavours, but it can be embellished to your hearts desire. I have two favourites I like to make at home, extra cheesy with a good squeeze of lemon, or like the one I’ve made recently, mushroom. I don’t always finely mince the mushrooms, as I have in this recipe, if I had something other than field mushroom I would make a simple lemon risotto and top it with mushrooms sautéed in butter. However, it was the ever so common field mushroom I had my hands on, so they got minced.

I don’t have any real quantities to give you for the recipe, but the ratio is simply 1 part rice to 3-4 parts of stock, plus whatever else you’re flavouring the dish with, in this case a handful of mushrooms. So, get a pot on the heat and pour in some stock, my stock comes from the freezer and I like to ‘refresh’ it by simmering with the stems and peelings of the mushrooms, maybe a handful of herbs and let it steep for a while.

While the stock warms up, finely dice an onion or a couple of shallots. Peel the mushrooms and remove the stems (putting them in the stock), place the mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until very finely minced, tip into a bowl and stir in a spoonful or two of crème fraîche.

Add a knob of butter to a sauté pan over a medium heat, add the diced onion and sweat until translucent, make sure not to brown the onions. Next stir in the rice, gently toast the grains, they will become translucent, but still have a solid white core. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, when evaporated add a ladle of stock and stir, when the stock has been absorbed repeat with another ladle of stock. The rice will take 15-20 minutes to cook, it should still have a bite and not be mushy. Stir through the mushroom mixture and heat through.

Serve in warm bowls, I topped mine with some thin slices of cacciatore sausage, but served plain is good too, or topped with some chopped herbs, or a few sautéed mushrooms.