Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wheatberry salad

I feel I may be taking inspiration yet again from the same source, but it has been a good few months of eating rather too healthy and no drinking so I'm enjoying heading out now and then, and I am a creature of habit, when I find somewhere/thing I like I tend to stick to it. If you're unsure where I'm talking about I suggest heading over to my Twitter or Instagram feed.

Toast one cup of wheatberries in an oven set to 170°c for 10 minutes, transfer to a pot and cover with 3 cups of water and a good dash of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a minimum. Cook for 30–35 minutes, or until the wheatberries still have a bit of a chew but are generally tender. Drain the wheatberries and transfer to a bowl, toss through some good olive oil, I also like to adjust the salt levels now too, a few flakes of a good smoked salt does wonders.

Gently poach a chicken breast in stock with a couple of bay leaves, fennel fronds, parsley and chilli, oh and salt. Leave the cooked breasts to cool in the liquid until it can be safely handled, shred the meat, don't go overboard we still want decent prices of meat, keep the shredded meat in the cooking liquid until ready to serve so it remains moist.

The rest is all just mise en place, finely dice a red onion and fennel bulb, get some sprouts out, sango is a nice spicy choice, a decent portion of micro herbs, very finely chop some parsley and fennel fronds, thin slices of radish make a nice addition, make a dressing, high acid content is the goer for this, good dash of a quality cider vinegar and a nice peppery olive oil seasoned with a bit of smoked salt.

Now it's just a matter of assembly, as with most salads containing leafy greens leave it to the last minute, set aside some of the sprouts and micro herbs to garnish, toss the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl, add the dressing and moisten with a little of the poaching liquid, taste and either season or dress as required. Transfer a portion to a dinner bowl and garnish with some of the herbs and sprouts set aside.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Almond sponge with figs

It often surprises me when baking what a difference technique has, take a sponge cake for example, the basic being equal parts egg, sugar, butter and flour (a little baking powder, salt and vanilla). Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and flour and you have a pound cake, Whisk the eggs and sugar together, then add the flour and melted butter and voilà a sponge instead. Two quite different cakes, the same ingredients, same ratios, just put together differently.

This recipe should ideally be done by weight, but if you can’t be bothered weighing your eggs the minimum weight (NZ) for size 6 is 53g, 7 is 62g, and 8 is 68g.

200 grams Egg (3 size 7 eggs)
200 grams Sugar
200 grams Butter
150 grams Flour
50 grams Almond meal
6 grams Salt
1 tsp Baking powder
10 ml Orange blossom water
Jar of preserved figs (or fresh), quartered
Raw Sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Line the base of a spring-form cake tin with baking paper and coat the whole interior of the tin with butter. Sprinkle the base with raw sugar and arrange quartered figs.

Whisk the sugar, orange blossom water and eggs together until they have become pale yellow, and tripled in volume.

Sieve in the flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder. Gently fold through.

Melt the butter and stir in.

Pour the batter into the tin, tap the tin on the bench to remove any excess air bubbles.

Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin on a rack until it can be handled without burning yourself, remove the springform and turn out on to a serving plate.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Creamy rice with pork sausage and thyme

Well I should start with a slight disclaimer, the idea of this dish is completely and utterly ripped off, or humble homage to the original, from Loretta on Cuba St. It makes a hearty dinner or a filling warming lunch it can be tweaked and tinkered with to your hearts content. It's a little less labour intensive than risotto, and a little more forgiving, as we're not aiming for al dente but well cooked rice, not falling apart though.

1 Cup arborio rice
1 Litre chicken stock
2 Good pork sausages, removed from casings
1 Medium fennel bulb, finely diced
1 Medium onion, finely diced
3 Cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp chilli flakes
1/2 Tsp bay leaf powder
6 Sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped off
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Anchovy fillets

If you feel like being a little more indulgent, add 3 tbsp of cream or butter and a third of a cup of grated parmesan to the ingredient list.

Place a pan over a medium heat and add a slug of good olive oil. Soften the onion, garlic and fennel, add the pepper, chilli, thyme, bay leaf powder and cook through.

Add the sausage and anchovy fillets, sauté, breaking the sausage apart, try not to colour too much.

When the sausage has given up its fat, but not browned too much, tip the rice in and stir through. Give it a chance to get coated in the fat and cook a little.

Pour in the vinegar and cook it off.

Tip in a third of the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, cook until almost absorbed, about 5-7 minutes, add another third and cook for a further 5-7 minutes.

Repeat with the last third, you don't want it too thick, the rice should of given up a lot of starch so the liquid should be lush and glossy, while the rice is still loose stir vigorously to release more starch from rice and make the liquid more creamy and homogeneous. Taste and season.

To really gild the lily, beat in the cream and parmesan cheese.

Serve a generous ladleful in a bowl and drizzle over a little peppery olive oil.