Thursday, February 28, 2013

Miso cured egg

I've certainly posted my fair share of egg related posts, cured in salt, brined, cooked under pressure, slow cooked and this one is no different. I've been curious about using miso to cure food for a while but have never taken that next step beyond curiosity, in fact the idea for the whole thing had been sitting in my head for a good two years, ever since reading a post on one of my favourite blogs, Playing with Fire and Water, the author had written about Egg yolk cheese, the idea was intriguing and promptly filed to the dark recesses of my brain never to be heard from again, well until recently and then there was some rather frantic googling and trying to figure out where I saw the method.

The egg yolk is still encased in miso, sitting in my fridge just waiting to be released from it's fermented tomb, the egg was first cooked at 65°C for about an hour then placed in an ice bath until cool and the yolk carefully separated from the albumen. So I don't know yet what it's going to taste like, but my experience with salt cured yolks (which was cured raw) tells me it's likely to be pretty damn delicious, and miso really only makes things better, well most things anyway. So another week in the miso, and probably a few more weeks hanging in the fridge to dry out, I'm sure another post will pop up, I just need to figure out what I'm going to have with it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Warm bean and citrus salad

This recipe was originally created for Urban Harvest, do go check out their website for some great produce and other recipe ideas.

This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, take advantage of the abundance of beans available at this time of year and utilise the citrus on offer. It’s not too complicated and definitely not time consuming to make, I used a variety of beans to profit from the various sizes and textures, but if you prefer green beans will do. The salad makes a satisfying light lunch or a ideal salad to accompany a BBQ, the weather giving us all an excuse to dine al fresco.

400 g Beans
2-3 Oranges
2-3 Lemons
Ewes milk feta
Olive oil
Dijon mustard
Mint (optional)

Put a pot of decently salted water on to boil. Pinch (or cut) the stem end of the beans off and discard. When the water is up to the boil, blanch the beans for about 4 minutes, you want them to be almost cooked, still have a good bite, as we’re not shocking them in ice water the beans will continue to cook once strained.

Peel the oranges with a knife and cut the segments by running the knife down each side membrane, or in other words supreme the oranges.

In a bowl combine 1 part lemon juice, 3 parts olive oil, a spoonful of dijon mustard and whisk together, the mustard helps emulsify the oil and juice together to create a homogeneous sauce. Season well with salt and pepper.

When the beans are cooked, drain off the liquid and tip into the bowl with the vinaigrette along with the orange segments, toss the beans and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Arrange the beans on a serving plate, scatter some finely sliced mint over top, crumble over the feta and finish off with any remaining vinaigrette.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hot Wings

It just happened that our national day fell on a Wednesday this year, and of course just by chance Superbowl Sunday, happened to fall on the Monday before it, so it seemed liked a good excuse to take a 5 day weekend (or is that a 2 day week?), plus who needs a reason to pull out the nachos, wings, and other Americana food and blob out in front of a 60 minute game that lasts 4 hours, not dissing, I quite enjoy the game. Anyway the plan was hot wings, I was thinking of my crunchy, spicy, deep fried wings, but as it always seems to happen best laid plans and all, someone tweeted a link to a recipe for Buffalo Wings by the Good Eats man himself, Alton Brown, these were oven baked and intriguingly steamed before hand, well that was going save me a lot of hassle deep-frying.

So, get a pot of water on to the boil, and load up a steamer with some chicken wings, set the steamer in the pot and let it bathe in the vapour for 20 minutes, it’s quite nice to add a few aromatics to the water, such as garlic and the like.

Set up a baking tray with a rack and line with paper towels, when the wings have steamed transfer them to the tray and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C, swap out the paper towels with baking paper and transfer the baking tray to the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes, then flip and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Toss the wings in hot sauce and serve, a finger bowl is a good idea. Alternatively, like the original recipe, you can toss them in a mixture of butter, garlic and hot sauce, which is nice, luxurious etc, but needless calories in my opinion.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ginger Beer

I have well and truly caught the brewers bug, I’ve just bottled the fourth batch, three of which were traditional ales, for the fourth I decided to try my hand at a dry boozy ginger beer, perfect for a hot day, well it threw me a few curveballs along the way, mainly that I think the yeast I chose was a wee bit too efficient and my nice mellow 4-5% plan ran rampant to a killer dry spicy 8%, fortunately it doesn’t have that ‘alcohol’ taste you can get when with some higher percentage beverages.

The below recipe is for a 20 litre batch and for those interested in giving it ago but lack the equipment (fermenter, hydrometer and sterilizer) I’d advise to skip the $100 starter kits you can get at supermarkets and brew shops and buy the components separately it’ll save you a considerable amount of money, a fermenter (with airlock, thermometer and tap) will cost about $30 and hydrometer will set you back about $10. Go chat to your local brew shop and I’m sure the staff will be happy to set you up, if you’re in Wellington The Brew House in Newtown is excellent.

You should be able to buy all of the ingredients for this in a supermarket, the only iffy one is dextrose, but most larger stores usually have a little brew section near the wine and beer these days. Dextrose is used instead of common sugar (Sucrose) as yeast can convert it more efficiently.

10 Litres of Water for the boil
2 Kg Dextrose
1 Kg Brown Sugar
500 ml Lemon juice (and the rinds from the lemons)
Yeast (I used Vintner's Harvest CL23 Wine Yeast)

I imagine if you had a juicer it may be easier to tackle the ginger but I don’t, so in a blender with water in batches whiz up the ginger to make a coarse paste and dump the contents into a large pot (16 litre or bigger). Add the remaining water along with the lemon rind and bring to a simmer, let it bubble away for an hour or so until you have a very strong ginger tea and the pulverised ginger has given up its flavour.

Pour the liquid into the fermenter, using some cheesecloth to strain out the solids. Give the pot a quick rinse out and pour the liquid back into the pot and put on the heat. While stirring add the lemon juice, dextrose and brown sugar, bring to the boil. Let it boil for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile wash and sterilise the fermenter (follow the instructions on of whichever type of steriliser you have).

When the 15 minutes is up pour the liquid into the fermenter and top up to 20 litres with cold water. It needs to cool down to about 20°C before its gravity can be tested. When it’s finally cooled down, take enough liquid to fill up the hydrometer testing tube three quarters of the way up and test, it should read about 1.054, take a note of the result as this is the Original Gravity (OG) and will be used later to figure out the ABV (Alcohol By Volume). Stir in the yeast and put it in a not too cool dark spot for 2-3 weeks, I keep mine under the stairs and it’s a pretty constant 15°C.

The brew will be ready to bottle once the hydrometer reading has been constant for 2-3 days, which means the fermentation has stopped. I expected this brew to be ready after 10-14 days and have a Final Gravity (FG) reading of 1.014, I was very very wrong and it ended up taking 22 days at ended up at 0.992. To figure out what the ABV of your brew is use this formula: (OG-FG) x 131.25, so (1.054 - 0.992) x 131.25 = ABV of 8.14%.

When it finally stops fermenting it’s time to bottle, now you can syphon the brew off to another bucket with 130 grams of dextrose and then bottle from there, or if you want the quick easy method, use carbonation drops (most supermarkets will have in the same section as the dextrose, or get from a brew shop) which are essentially dextrose tablets, use 2 per 750ml bottle. Once you’ve had the pleasure of cleaning, sterilising and filling 25 bottles, store them in the same place you kept the fermenter and leave for 2 weeks, at which point the they should've carbonated and be ready to drink, if not don’t panic and just wait another week, it will happen it sometimes just takes a little extra time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pork and Fennel Meatballs

I love meatballs, versatile great little flavour carriers, great on rice, pasta or even in a bread roll, but I’m not talking about those abominations stuffed full of breadcrumbs and egg, no a decent meatball shouldn’t need any binders, get your hands dirty and knead the meat, that's all it should take for the minced protein to bind itself together.

Pork mince (500g)
Fennel bulb, finely diced and frilly fronds added too
Garlic, crushed
Paprika, salt and pepper

Red Onion
Cannellini Beans

Knead the pork, fennel, garlic, paprika and salt together for a couple of minutes and then form meatballs, brown in pan and cook until about 50% done, remove and set aside. In the same pan, saute diced chorizo and red onion until the sausage has given up its fat and the onion has softened, season with some salt pepper and paprika, deglaze with a touch of vinegar and add passata, cook until quite thick and then add the meatballs to the pan, along with any resting juices, as well as a handful of cooked cannellini beans, cover the pan and cook until the meatballs are done. Really nice served on some steamed rice.