Tuesday, September 30, 2014


We’re not ones to keep ice-creams, cookies, cakes, biscuits and other sweet treats in the house, usually they’re bought with the intention of immediate consumption, and even if we did, I doubt they’d last. So when that sweet tooth craving happens upon me there’s usually nothing at hand, apart from the occasional candy, so I have a couple of go to recipes for a quick and easy sugary treats, cookies and fruit sponge are main culprits. I especially like the cookie solution as I can make up a batch and have a cling-wrapped log of dough in the freezer ready to slice off a few cookies to bake, rather than have a big batch of pre-cooked cookies, knowing my will power the entire batch would get demolished rather than enjoying one or two.

300 g Flour
200 g Butter
100 g Sugar
6 g Salt
  • Cream the butter, sugar and salt together. 
  • Mix in the flour. 
  • Roll into a log shape using cling-film. 
  • Refrigerate for half an hour. 
  • Slice discs, thin or thick, up to you, arrange on a sheet pan.
  •  Bake at 180ºC for 10 minutes or so, depending on thickness.

Well that’s the basic cookie recipe, this latest batch I took about 100 grams of “burnt” hazelnut praline I had made a few weeks early and blitzed it until I had a good mixture of powder and chunks and combined that with the dough base. I also sprinkled the sliced cookies with some smoked salt before baking them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Alkaline noodles

400g Flour
200ml Water
12 g Baked Soda*
  • Dissolve the Baked soda in half the water (warm) then add the other half (cold). 
  • Add the flour and knead for 5 minutes, it’s tough work rather like kneading a brick. 
  • Wrap in cling-film, leave for 20 minutes at room temp. 
  • Knead for another 5 minutes, it’s a little less brick like but still damn hard work. 
  • Re-wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour. 
  • Cut into 5 portions and run through a pasta machine getting it down to the 2nd thinnest setting.
  • Either slice by hand or run through the fine cutter.

Cook for 2–3 minutes in plenty of salted water and give a quick rinse in cold water once cooked.

*Cook baking soda in a 120ºC oven for an hour.

Pork Cheek

Pork Cheek
Chilli flakes
Oyster sauce
Cider vinegar
Soy sauce
Rice wine
Red onion
Star anise
  • Heat a heavy based oven proof dish over a medium high heat, brown the cheek all over.
  • Add the vegetables, large dice, and all the liquids & spices, add enough water to almost cover everything. Place on a lid and braise for 2.5 hours at 130ºC.
  • Cool, remove meat and refrigerate in a tight fitting container with some of the cooking liquid.
  • Strain the remaining cooking liquid and refrigerate, when cooled the fat will solidify on the top, use this to crisp up the sliced pork cheek.

  • Put 3 Litres of water in a pot, add 4-5 six inch pieces of kombu to the pot, bring to the boil cover and turn off the heat, leave it for an hour. 
  • Add a packet of dried shiitake mushrooms, simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • Scoop off the mushrooms and put in a container, cover with soy sauce, cool and place in the fridge (soy pickled shiitake). 

  • Add a good portion of katsuobushi, about 1 cup heaped, simmer for about 30 minutes. 
  • Strain, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Soup base

Add a 50/50 mix of Dashi and pork cheek cooking liquid to a pot and bring to a simmer, adjust seasoning with vinegar, chilli flakes and salt.

13 minute egg

  • Bring a pot of water to 75°C, using a large volume of water will make maintaining a constant temperature easier. 
  • Place eggs into the water and cook for 13 minutes, don’t use eggs straight from the fridge. Transfer the eggs to an ice bath to cool. 
  • Reheat the eggs at 60°C for 10 minutes (run under the hot tap), or store in the fridge for up to 2 days. 
  • Crack around the fat end of the egg, remove the shell and pour the egg out.

Build the bowl
Add the cooked noodles to the bowl and lay on slices of the pork cheek, either sliced thinly cold or sliced thicker and grill to give it a nice caramelised side and warm through, pickled vegetables (ginger, daikon), soy pickled shiitake, chilli flakes or fresh slices, scallions, nori sheets and 13 minute eggs, up to you really. Gently pour over the soup base.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cavatelli with beef

After completely busting my pasta machine, fingers and sense of humour when making alkaline noodles (recipe to come) for a nice tasty bowl of Ramen, I headed online looking to replace the cursed finger shredding hell beast, much to my pleasant surprise they are considerably less expensive than when I first purchased the pile of scrap metal. Ultimately I got completely distracted and ended up buying a Cavatelli machine from Amazon rather than one of the pasta machines from Trade Me, which I should really get around to sometime. Shipping speeds being rather good these days I didn’t have to wait long to get my hands on the machine and start playing. Ratios, recipes and advice is a little hard to find online if you’re not that interested in trying out non-ricotta cavatelli as I was, but after a bit of research, piles of books, and finding a curry cavatelli in Lucky Peach issue #1, I felt comfortable I had a decent basic cavatelli dough (not ricotta or egg pasta).

Little did I know that was just the start of the trouble shooting, making the dough is pretty straight forward, it’s a little like kneading a brick much like making alkaline noodle dough, but by the end it’s pretty pliable and easy to handle. The main cause consternation is getting the strips of dough the right thickness and width to run through the machine, they have to be wide enough to take up most of the roller, but not so wide than when compressed they get caught in the side, and has to be thick enough to be compressed when pulled through so it curls and makes a dense piece of pasta, too thin and it’ll just pass through and the texture is all off. Well I still have a lot of practice to get consistently good cavatelli, but I’m sure it’ll be one of those light-bulb moments when I nail the perfect thickness and width.

1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Cups Flour
1/2 cup Hot water
1 tsp Baking powder
Big pinch of salt

Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the water and oil. Mix together, and form into a ball. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to hydrate a bit.

Knead, it will be very stiff and a lot of hard work, after about 5 minutes wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Knead again for about 5 minutes, wrap it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out and cut into strips ready to roll through the Cavatelli machine.

Once passed through you can freeze in a single layer (and then transfer to container) or cook straight away, in plenty of salted water boil for 4-5 minutes.

Braised Beef
This is a pretty versatile sauce, loosen it with a little of the pasta cooking water before tossing it through the cavatelli. Leftovers are great when reheated with some sautéed cavolo nero.

Stewing beef, cubed
Celeriac, diced
Carrot, diced
Onion, diced
Fennel bulb, diced
Chicken stock
Bay leaves
Parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Heat a decent glug of olive oil in an oven proof dish and brown the beef all over, add 4 or 5 anchovies, cook until they have melted into the oil. Toss in the onion and fennel, cook until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, adding enough stock so the liquid is almost covering everything. Place on a lid and cook in a slow oven until falling about, about 130ºC for a few hours.

Spoon out about a third of the sauce, and as much meat as possible, pass the remaining sauce through a mouli, pull the meat apart with a fork, stir everything back together, taste and season.

Take enough sauce for the number of portions, I’m a nerd and usually do a portion at a time, if it needs reheating place in a pan on a medium heat, loosen with some pasta water and toss the cavatelli through the sauce, serve up. To add a little extra dress with a little lemon-chilli oil* and parsley.

*Lemon-chilli oil: 1 part peppery olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, chilli flakes, and salt.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Israeli couscous & smoked fish salad

There's something I love about making a salad, I think it's because I love prep work, chopping, dicing, getting everything in place. Also they are usually pretty forgiving, you can fix mistakes and the flavour pay-off is immediate so you know if a wrong turn has been made.

Israeli couscous cooked in savoury stock
Small fennel bulb, shaved and fronds picked off
Garlic clove, grated into the lemon juice to mellow
Cumin and chili toasted and ground
Smoked tarakihi (white flakey flesh)
Parsley, finely chopped
Hard boiled egg, passed through a course mouli
Habanero or Tabasco sauce
Lemon juice and rind
Olive oil
Smoked salt

This is pretty much pure assembly once you have the easy prep done. Toss everything together, reserving some of the toasted spices, fish and herbs for garnish. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lemon juice. Make a nice pile of the salad on a plate and arrange some nice large flakes of fish around, scatter over the herbs, dust with the spices and add a couple of drops of the hot sauce for piquancy.