Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sopressa puttanesca

This is one of those get it all into the pot and let it see to itself for a couple of hours, fats and oils mingling together, textures softening, flavours intensifying. When you’ve finally had enough torture and can’t hack the mouth watering aromas filling the house, you just need to give a final adjustment to the seasoning, get it off the heat and devour, spaghetti is fine if you can’t be bothered with the gnocchi, but the fluffy pillows of potato really do lend themselves well to this sauce.

Sopressa puttanesca
Olive oil
Olives, stoned
Chilli flakes, to taste
Garlic, diced
Capers, rinsed
Sopressa, grated!
Capsicum, diced
Red onion, diced
Tomatoes, 1 can
Cider vinegar
  • Get a generous glug of olive oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat, add a bit more, put in the grated sopressa and gently let it come up to temperature and release it’s oils.
  • When it’s all sizzling away add in the garlic, onion and capsicum, cook until translucent.
  • Splash in a little vinegar, and cook out.
  • Add the chilli, capers, olives and tomatoes, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for a hour or two.
  • Adjust the seasoning, salt, chilli, vinegar, and let cook out for a few more minutes before double checking.

60g potato flakes (1 cup)
300 ml water
1 egg
4 g salt
  • Mix well, transfer to ziplock bag and let rest for at least half an hour.
  • Get a large pot of salted water on to boil.
  • Nip of the corner of the bag and use scissors or a knife to cut of portions as you pipe into the water.
  • Cook until floating on the surface and transfer to an ice bath.

Getting it all together
  • When ready to serve, get a sauté pan on a medium heat with a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter.
  • Sauté the gnocchi until beginning to crisp, ladle in some sauce and toss through, repeat until enough sauce is added.
  • Serve in bowls with a generous grating of hard cheese.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Salt baked swede

Swedes, rutabaga, or whatever you choose to call them, I'm guessing you fall into one of two categories, love them or hate them. Much like the often maligned brussels sprouts there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground or indifference to them, you’re either excited to have them on your plate or someone will of offended you greatly. Unlike the sprout, which on inspection you have reasonably good idea of what flavour it’s going to be, it looks like a mini cabbage and is probably going to taste a bit like one too, the swede however is a root vegetable carefully hiding its true flavours, which is pretty pronounced cabbage, so yay for Brassica lovers.

It’s a pretty versatile vegetable, it works well raw, grated with some garlic hot aioli as a remoulade, sliced thin and stir fried, baked in fat with a roast, steamed or as below baked in salt to really intensify the flavour, sliced into wedges and served with some peppery hot olive oil.

Salt crusts are reasonably straight forward, dump a lot of salt into a bowl and crack in a couple of egg whites, mix together to make a wettish sandy mixture. Make a layer in the bottom of the roasting dish, nestle in the peeled swedes and firmly pack with salt making sure there are no gaps. Bake at 170ºC for about an hour, a little longer won't hurt. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes or so. With the back of a knife, crack the crust open like an egg and gently wrestle the swedes free.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Potato croquettes

4 Large potatoes
2 Slices of bacon
Parsley, finely chopped
Dijon mustard
Cayenne pepper
red onion, finely diced
Parmesan cheese, grated
Edam cheese, grated
1 egg

Bread crumbs
1 egg

Dried Morita Chilli vinegar
Garlic, crushed

Oil for frying
I use a mix of rice bran (or canola/rapeseed) and olive

Dried Morita Chilli vinegar
Blitz dried Morita Chilli (chipotle) with cider vinegar, store in an airtight container. Makes for a hot addition to dressings, or adding a bit of zing to dish.

First things first, get the dressing made, mix the chilli vinegar and garlic with the mayonnaise to taste, place in a container and keep in the fridge until ready, the longer you leave it the more the flavour will develop and the raw edge of the garlic will mellow.

Prick holes all over the potatoes and bake for about an hour, or until tender all the way through. Leave to cool on a board.

While waiting for the potatoes too cool, place the bacon on a tray and in the oven, you don’t want to cook it crispy, just enough to get the fat rendering and take the raw edge off. When cooked, finely dice.

Carefully peel the skin off the potatoes and pass through a fine mouli, or thoroughly mash if you don’t have a mouli or potato ricer.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, taste and adjust the seasoning, salt, pepper, mustard etc.

Take heaped tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls, arrange on a tray, having slightly damp hands helps. Cool in the fridge for about an hour.

Get a breading station ready, one bowl with seasoned flour, one with beaten egg and the final with breadcrumbs, I suggest using bog standard crumbs, not panko.

Dip each potato ball in the flour then egg then breadcrumbs, be gentle as they are a little fragile, place back on the tray and refrigerate for at least half an hour, this helps the coating stick.

In a heavy based pan heat a couple of inches of oil to 180–190ºC. Set up a rack near the pan to transfer cooked croquettes to.

In batches carefully place the balls into the hot oil and cook for a minute or two, don’t over cook otherwise molten cheese will erupt into the oil. Transfer cooked balls to the rack.

Serve up with the mayonnaise sauce to dip into and an ice cold beer.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cheat sheet

I keep a list of handy measurements and ratios in the front of my kitchen notebook, a cheat sheet of sorts, I probably know them all by heart but it is a handy reference to keep. So I thought I'd start keeping them online, I'll add to this as things pop up, and there will be a link at the top of the page next to the recipe index. I'll also try to put an example recipe link to each item.

Bread (recipe)
1,000 g flour
600 g Water
10 g Salt
10 g Yeast

No more than 5% fat if adding.

Quiche custard (recipe)
2 eggs per 250ml of milk

Roux (recipe)
1 part flour
≥1 part fat

Pasta dough (recipe)
(by weight)
3 parts flour
2 parts egg

Roughly 2 eggs per 180–200g

Semolina pasta dough (cavatelli, orecchiette etc) (recipe)
1 part flour
1 part semolina flour
1 part salted water*

* 5% salt by weight, for example 170 g water and 10 g salt, 180 g flour, 180g semolina.

Hand pulled noodle dough (recipe)
5 parts flour
3 parts water
1 % salt

Form dough, rest 15 minutes; knead 15 minutes (roll into log, fold in half repeat); rest 60 minutes; Shape cut, oil.

Alkaline noodle dough (ramen) (recipe)
2 parts flour
1 part water
2% Baked soda (baking soda cooked at 120ºC for an hour)

Knead 5 min; rest 20 min; knead 5 min; wrap and refrigerate 1 hour; run through pasta machine.

Rough puff pastry (recipe)
1 part flour
1 part butter
0.5% salt
Milk to bind

Blitz half the flour with butter; add remaining flour and salt; add splash of milk, for dough ball; wrap and refrigerate; roll, fold into thirds and repeat 3–4 times, placing in fridge to cool down now and then.

Hot fat pastry (recipe)
5 parts flour
2 parts water
2 parts fat (lard or dripping)
0.5% salt

Heat water gently with fat in it; mix with dry, form dough ball; wrap and let rest 60 minutes; roll and fold in thirds, repeat until smooth.

Short pastry (recipe)
2 parts flour
1 part butter
0.5% salt

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kefta mkaouara (tagine)

I never need an excuse to fire up the tagine, it’s a great cooking vessel and it’s always nice to come across new recipes to try rather than getting stuck in a rut. This recipe is based on a Rick Stein one which stuck in my mind from one of his various television shows, so this may not be his exact recipe, but how I remembered it and adjusted for my tastes.

500g Lamb or beef mince
Cumin, ground
Paprika, hot smoked
Chilli, flakes
Parsley, finely chopped
1 Egg, per portion
Tomatoes, 1–2 cans
Garlic, 3–4 cloves sliced
Onion, diced

In a bowl, combine the mince, a couple spoons of cumin and paprika, add chilli to your taste, salt and a handful of parsley. Mix together, but don’t overwork the meat. Use a tablespoon to scoop even portions of meat and roll into balls. Set aside.

Heat the tagine over a medium heat, when up to temperature add a good glug of olive oil and start browning the meatballs. When lovely and brown all over, spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the tagine and sauté until translucent. Add a spoon or two of cumin, paprika, salt and chilli to taste. Gently cook the spices out. Add the meatballs back to the tagine and stir. Pour in the can of tomatoes, and add some liquid if needed, you want the liquid to cover at least half the meat ball. Place the lid on and cook for 5–10 minutes.

Taste and season. Make little wells where you want to place the eggs and crack them in. Place the lid back on and cook for about 5 minutes, depends on the size of your eggs.

Serve with some good flat bread and strained yoghurt.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Greens and Brisket

I guess I have never really jumped on the kale bandwagon, I’m no vegetable hater, I just never saw the appeal, so it’s purchased pretty infrequently, but this latest side dish I whipped up has changed my view on it, the hearty texture and flavour stand up well against this spicy garlicky tomato braise.

Braised Kale
Kale, woody stems removed, roughly torn
Garlic, sliced thinly
Chilli flakes
Red onion, finely diced
Tomatoes, a good quality tin
Chicken stock
Olive oil

  • Sauté garlic, chilli flakes and onion in olive oil until translucent.
  • Add kale, stir through until beginning to wilt.
  • Pour in a splash of stock and, then add the tomatoes.
  • Cover and cook on low for 20–30 minutes.
  • Taste and season.


Dry Rub
Garlic powder
All spice

  • Grind all together.
  • Coat Brisket in dry rub and let rest for a couple of hours to overnight.

  • Preheat oven to 200ºC .
  • In a large oven dish with lid, put in a layer of onion chopped in wedges, place the brisket on top. Cook uncovered in the oven for an hour.
  • Lower the oven to 170ºC.
  • Remove from oven and pour in a cup of hot chicken stock, place lid on and put back in the oven for 2–3 hours depending on the size of your brisket.
  • Rest for 20–30 minutes with the lid on, remove and slice.

Serve up with a good portion of greens, and cooking liquid from the brisket. Grits, buttermilk semolina, polenta, kumara (sweet potato) purée all make excellent sides too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Baking soda spuds

It’s a hard road finding the perfect roast spud, but this method works pretty well, there are a few steps, but you can prepare ahead of time and whack them in the oven when ready. The three main steps are, boiling, cooling (refrigerating), roasting.

1% (of water) Baking soda
2% (of water) Salt
Small roasting potatoes, peeled
  • Add all to a pot and bring to a simmer, cook for 15–20 minutes, or until well cooked but not falling apart, the baking soda in the water will form a skin on the potatoes enabling them to be cooked for longer than normal.
  • Remove the potatoes to a rack and let cool to room temperature.
  • Place the rack, uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • Place the potatoes in a pan with oil and put into a hot oven, roast until crispy and golden brown all over.
  • Devour.
Adapted from Ideas in Food

Friday, August 28, 2015

Waldorf Slaw with fried spicy chicken

I do believe I have thoroughly covered fried chicken on here previously, so excuse the gloss over, this isn’t too different from previous versions, apart from the fact that white meat is used.

Waldorf Slaw
Savoy Cabbage
1 Apple, granny smith or lemonade are good
Walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
Red onion, thinly sliced
Lemon juice
  • Remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage, peel off enough leaves for the salad and blanch in boiling salted water for a minute, transfer cooked leaves to an ice bath until cool, thoroughly drain and pat dry, slice thinly.
  • Slice the apple thinly into matchsticks and toss in a bowl with lemon juice. Add a dollop of mayonnaise. Toss through the cabbage, onions and walnuts, taste and season with salt and lemon juice.

Fried Chicken Strips
  • Place buttermilk, 1% salt, cayenne pepper, hot sauce into a zip-lock bag.
  • Cut chicken breast lengthways into 1cm slices, place in the bag and massage, put in the fridge and let it rest at least 4 hours.
  • Add to a bowl, by weight, 1 part wheat starch, 1 part tapioca starch, 1% salt, 2% garlic powder, 1% cayenne pepper, 1% baking soda. Mix well.
  • Tip the chicken out into a colander. Set up a rack over a sheet pan. Take strips of chicken, knocking off excess buttermilk and toss in the starch. Arrange the coated chicken on the rack. When done refrigerate for 30 minutes, remove before heating the oil.
  • Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy based pot, I usually use rice bran or canola, but any frying oil, or fat, is fine.
  • Set up a rack to transfer the fried chicken to, near the pot is good. I usually have a rack with raw chicken on the right, pot in the middle and rack for cooked chicken on the left.
  • When the oil is at 190ºC start carefully laying strips of chicken in the oil, don’t overcrowd the pot, you’ll need to do it in batches.
  • Cook for 2–3 minutes, remove to rack and drain.
  • Toss the cooked chicken in your favourite hot sauce and serve in a soft bun with Waldorf slaw and most importantly crinkle cut pickles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cheese Scones

There’s nothing easier and crowd pleasing to throw together when expecting company than cheesy scones. Best served warm from the oven with lashings of butter smeared on the flaky scone melting down the sides. My method is a little different to most I’ve seen, nothing drastic, the most important thing is not work the dough too much.

320 g Flour (2 cups)
188 ml Milk (¾ cup), plus extra for brushing
½ cup grated cheese*
75 g Butter (cold and cubed)
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
6g salt (1%)
Dash of Cayenne or mustard powder

*The cheese should be a mixture of melting and flavour, so Edam and Cheddar for example, the quantity does not have to be precise.

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a sheet pan with non-stick paper.
  • Add half of the flour, all of the butter and cheese to a blender and blitz to a coarse breadcrumb texture, you could do this by hand if you wish.
  • Mix together the remaining flour, spice, salt, baking soda and powder in a bowl. Tip in the blended mix and combine.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the milk. Roughly bring together to form a dough mass, there will still be wet bits an unmixed flour, don't worry.
  • Tip the mixture out on to the bench and pat the mixture into a rough rectangle, fold into thirds, get the dry and unmixed sandwiched between the layers. Pat out again and fold into thirds once more.
  • Pat, and roll the dough out to about 10–15mm thick. Using a 6cm round cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on the sheet pan. roughly push the scraps together so you can cut out the remaining dough.
  • Brush the top of the scones with milk and place in the oven for 10–15 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool when done.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rough Puff Pastry

I’ve been revisiting pastry recently and making more than my fair share of pies, cheese and chard, custardy bacon and egg, and the most recent a vegetarian pithivier, a round pie made by putting a filling between two pieces of puff pastry. Not one to buy something when I can make it, I set about taking another look at easy at home puff pastry, my previous version was worked by hand to ensure large chunks of butter remained, so when rolled and folded you’d end up with good lamination, I wasn’t completely satisfied with how this pastry turned out, and I figured there had to be an easier way.

Super Simple Rough Puff pastry.
200 Flour
200 Butter
2g Salt
Milk, ice cold
  • Make sure everything is cold before you start.
  • Blitz half of the flour with the butter in a blender until a fine breadcrumb consistency.
  • Tip out into a bowl and add the remaining flour and salt.
  • Adding a splash of milk at a time, work into a dough ball, don’t overwork the dough.
  • Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Lightly flour the bench and roll out the dough into a rectangle (about 20x30cm).
  • Fold into thirds and roll out again, repeat and then wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • Roll and fold the dough 3 more times and refrigerate, repeat this step once more, for a total of 9 folds.
  • Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate until needed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fried Chicken

There’s something comforting about a plate piled high with fried chicken, a side of slaw, potatoes and gravy, and a few pickles. It’s not the healthiest dinner in the world, but cooked correctly the chicken should be anything but greasy.

This is a pretty good base recipe, if you want to kick the heat up a notch or ten add cayenne to the brine, and up the percentage to three in the dredge, don’t go overboard in the dredge though as the higher percentage spice likely burn when fried.

I’ve used wheat starch as it’s gives a crispier coating that keep crunch for longer than plain flour, but there’s no reason you can’t use flour if you don’t have any at hand. Potato starch could be substituted also. Wheat and potato starch can readily be found at any asian market in Wellington.

Chicken portions
Oil for frying, canola or rice bran

4% Salt
6% Hot Sauce

Wheat starch
1% Salt
1% Cayenne

Mix together the brine ingredients and pour into a ziplock bag, place in the chicken portions and seal, removing as much air as possible. Place the bag in a bowl in the fridge overnight.

Half an hour before cooking remove the chicken from the bag, shake off any excess brine and arrange on a rack, allowing any excess brine to drip away.

In a heavy based pot, I use an enameled cast iron pot, pour in a couple inches of oil, enough to cover the chicken. Place the pot on a medium heat and monitor the temperature, you want it to get to 180-190°C and then maintain it at about 160°C when cooking.

Combine the dredge ingredients together in a bowl, mix thoroughly. Toss the chicken in the dredge, shake off any excess and place back on the rack.

Get a rack set up ready for the cooked chicken, if you’re doing a large batch you could put it in a warm oven, but if you’re only cooking up half a dozen pieces the bench will probably be fine.

Carefully lay a piece of chicken, away from you, into the hot oil, don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook for about 5-10 minutes for a drumstick, or until the internal temperature has hit about 65°C, it will rise while resting, if you’re a bit worried cook to 70°C. As the chicken cooks you’ll notice that the oil starts of vigorously bubbling and slowly subsides, this is the moisture in the chicken turning to steam and escaping, it’s also a good indicator that the chicken is getting near done when the bubbling starts to calm down.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Garlic parsley mayonnaise

I have quite the collection of containers and jars sitting under the stairs, pulled out whenever needed, mostly for mise en place or temporary storage, but there are a few jars, usually pickle jars, that have a different purpose and aren't grabbed for any old use, they are just the right size and shape for my stick blender. These jars are ideal because the opening is just bigger than the wand of the blender, widens slightly and there isn't too much of a bulge at the base to interfere with the blade. When it comes to making mayonnaise these jars make it a cinch, you don’t have to be gentle with oil addition, usually I just get the emulsion started and then dump in a few slugs of oil at a time rather than a dribble, or drop by drop.

Garlic parsley mayonnaise (for a 670g pickle jar)
1 egg yolk
Juice of a lemon
2–3 Garlic cloves
Mustard, Dijon
Olive oil
Sunflower oil
Cider vinegar

This method can of course be adjusted for plain mayonnaise, just leave out the parsley and garlic, the lemon juice can be substituted for vinegar, or vice versa, however mustard is a must as it’s an important emulsifying agent.
  • Put into the jar the lemon juice, parsley, garlic, a spoonful of mustard and egg yolk.
  • Insert the blender and whiz on high speed until everything has been puréed.
  • While the blender is running, slowly pour in about a quarter of a cup of olive oil, this is the only slow addition you should have to do, it’s important to get the emulsion started otherwise it wont happen. It should be thick and homogeneous.
  • Add another quarter cup of oil and blitz until incorporated. Taste and add salt, go a little heavy as more oil is being added, and splash in 2–3 tablespoons of cider vinegar, depending on taste. Blitz again, it will loosen but don't worry it will thicken up when more oil is added.
  • With the blender running start pouring in sunflower oil, keep going until the jar is full.
  • If you’re worried about it being too thick, splash in a little vinegar or water, but be careful a little will drastically loosen the mayonnaise.
  • Taste and adjust the salt and acid if needed, blitz. It should be nice and thick and have a good wobble to it. Screw on a lid and store in the fridge until used.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Corned beef potato cakes.

Corned beef is one of those truly filling, soul warming meals, the kiwi version of Pot-au-feu. Slices of tender simmered cured meat, salty and sweet, with vegetables, often cooked in the same liquid, and a creamy mustard sauce being the more traditional. Now I like a few vegetables in the cooking liquid, a few stock basics such as carrot, celery and onion, but these are destined for the bin as they are well and truly spent after the long simmer, that is if I don’t cheat with the pressure cooker, fresh vegetables are added nearer the end so they are still vibrant and only just touched with the salty goodness of the stock. Other additions are important too, pimento, clove, garlic and ginger, some people add sugar or vinegar I forego these. My ideal dish is a plate with a few slices of beef, a smear of hot english mustard, poached baby fennel and carrot, and a baked potato that has been sliced in half and had some cooking liquid spooned over it.

When preparing a meal that you know, with a little self control, there will be substantial leftovers it’s always nice to prepare a little extra to make the next meal a meal to itself rather than just a rehash, so it’s always ideal to roast a few extra spuds or vege, even if it’s to throw together a spicy hash for brunch the next day, add in some bok choy, chilli and fish sauce topped with a fried egg you have quite the meal.

This recipe, however, was more the cart before the horse as I had plans for leftovers that didn’t exist yet, so we had a nice corned beef dinner and extra spuds were baked in the oven.

Corned beef, shredded or chopped
Baked potatoes
Cheddar, grated
Panko breadcrumbs

While the potatoes are still warm, peel or scoop the flesh out of the skins and pass through a mouli, or fine sieve. Add the beef, a dollop of butter, handful of chopped parsley and cheese, stir through with a spatula. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Press down into a dish lined with cling film, you want it to be about 1–2cm thick. Cover and place in the fridge to firm up overnight. If you don’t feel that your potato mixture is going to hold together add in a spoon of flour and an egg, it’s nicer if you don’t though.

Set up three bowls, one with seasoned flour, one with beaten egg mixed with a little water and the third with panko crumbs. Remove the potato mixture from the fridge and cut into rounds, you should be able to mash and scraps together to form patties. Gently coat a round in flour then egg and cover in crumbs, arrange on a tray and when all done place into the fridge for at least half an hour.

Heat a heavy based skillet on a medium heat with a centimetre of oil in it. When hot, place the rounds in the oil and cook until golden brown all over. Transfer to a rack to drain.

Serve with watercress salad and fried egg, oh and plenty of hot sauce.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Arnold Bennett, kind of…

Well maybe not, Arnold Bennett would probably be rolling over in his grave at this version of the omelette that he most famously became enamoured with at the Savoy, and insisted upon its serving on his travels. As Nigel Slater put it, "Stick with the classic interpretation unless you want the wrath of Arnold Bennett's ghost upon you". Well I've yet to feel it, and even so switching away from a béchamel to cream infused with horseradish, lemon rind and dill is well worth the risk of a little otherworldly wrath. Oh and not to push my luck, tempt fate or anger the spirits, there is no parmesan in this either, I'm more than sure the lack of smoked haddock will be forgiven as it is not readily available in this part of the world, smoked hoki is a fair substitute though.

You will need
20 cm heavy based oven proof sauté pan
3–4 eggs (per person)
Smoked Fish, Hoki (or haddock to appease the spirits)
Cream (thickened slightly)
Lemon (zest only)
Dill (if you have it)
Bay Leaves

  • In an oven proof dish, just big enough to hold the fish snugly, lay a bed of parsley, some of the dill, bay leaves and peppercorns. Deposit the fish on top, pour over milk so it just covers the fish and firmly secure with tin foil. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
  • Whilst the fish poaches, mix together the cream, horseradish, lemon zest and a good portion of the dill (chopped). Set aside.
  • Flake the fish off the skin into a bowl and set aside.
  • Crank the oven to a high setting, around 200ºC, move the rack to the upper third position. When the oven is at temperature you can begin. Before starting to cook, switch your oven to the grill (broil) setting, fan forced if you have it, and increase the temperature slightly (220ºC).
  • Get the pan onto a medium high heat and with abandon dollop in butter.

  • Beat the eggs together. When the foaming has subsided pour the eggs into the pan. Working from the centre with a spatula move the eggs outwards.

  • When set around the edges and the middle moving towards half done, spoon over the cream, three or four large spoonfuls should do it, spread it out as you go so it covers the egg.

  • Drop flakes of the poached fish over the cream and move the whole pan into the now hot oven. Cook for five minutes, until golden and souffléed.
  • Slide the omelette on to a waiting plate, garnish with dill, shaved red onion and salad of watercress.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Spaetzle and Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a definite guilty pleasure, it’s a highly unlikely the following recipe is at all authentic, but it’s an easy throw together meal. The rich mushroom-beef creamy stew was ladled over a bed of slightly crisp buttered noodles called spaetzle.

Spaetzle get made now and then when, I feel the urge and am willing for the clean up that follows, using a spaetzle press (or ricer) is no clean feat. The other method is scraping off noodles from a board one at a time into boiling water, a skill I have very little desire to practice and no one to show me anyway, plus it looks far messier than the noodle press. To compound issues, I also managed to misplace my recipe (or list of quantities) and as I haven’t blogged previously about it, I had to start from scratch.

I guess I may of put you off, all this talk of mess, well don’t worry I have solved that problem. All you need is a zip-lock bag, no need for spaetzle presses, colanders dripping over pots or ninja knife board scraping skills. Just a simple bag that you can nip the corner off and a large pot of boiling water. You don’t end up with one long noodle, as the dough hits the water they break into perfect lengths of noodle. The noodles can be made ahead of time and chilled in an ice bath before being stored in a container in the fridge, just remember to toss them in a little oil so they don't stick to each other.

250g Flour
195ml Milk
8g Salt
2 Eggs (130g)

  • Combine the dry ingredients together and form a well in the centre.
  • Whisk together the eggs and milk, pour into the well and beat well, you really want to work the gluten.
  • Allow the mixture to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
  • Get a deep pot with salted water on the boil.
  • Transfer to a piping bag with a thin nozzle, or as I do, a zip-lock bag with the corner lopped off.
  • From a height steadily pipe the bag into the simmering water, it will break up into noodles an inch or two in length, this will need to be done in batches (2-3 depending on pot size).
  • Cook for a minute or two, or until floating on the surface.
  • Scoop out and transfer to a colander set inside an ice bath (or to a waiting pan to sauté in butter).
  • Once cooled, toss in a little oil and transfer to a container. Refrigerate until you're ready to cook.
  • For the above, I sautéed the spaetzle in butter, crisping it around the edges then added arugula until wilted.

Beef Stroganoff
  • 400g of beef schnitzel sliced into half centimeter strips tossed in flour seasoned with garlic powder, mustard powder, hot paprika and salt.
  • Sauté in a hot heavy based pan with a good dash of butter and oil until crisp and golden, remove and set aside.
  • Generously dollop in another knob of butter, when foaming add in half a finely diced onion and generous amount of sliced button mushrooms. When cooked down, and colored, Stir through a couple of minced garlic cloves, paprika, Dijon mustard and tomato paste.
  • Pour in some beef stock, about 400 ml in total, when all has been incorporated and begun to thicken add the beef back to the pan.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Splash in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, lower the heat, and stir, reduce slightly.
  • Before serving fold through some chopped parsley. Serve up with some spaetzle sautéed with rocket.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bath Oliver biscuits

Inspiration comes from many different places, I've recently finished rereading Brideshead Revisited, a book that regularly comes back in to my reading rotation, and for some reason Bath Oliver biscuits stood out to me, even though they are only mentioned in a passage in passing (below), so I set about finding out about and how to make them. I ended up finding a recipe I liked the look of on Ladies a Plate and adapted that for my use. These crackers store very well, which is what bought them to fame, not needing to reheat purchased crackers to get the desired crunch.

"We had bottles brought up from every bin and it was during those tranquil evenings with Sebastian that I first made a serious acquaintance with wine and sowed the seed of that rich harvest which was to be my stay in many barren years. We would sit, he and I, in the Painted Parlour with three bottles open on the table and three glasses before each of us; Sebastian had found a book on wine tasting, and we followed its instructions in detail. We warmed the glass slightly at a candle, filled a third of it, swirled the wine round, nursed it in our hands, held it to the light, breathed it, sipped it, filled our mouths with it and rolled it over the tongue, ringing it on the palate like a coin on a counter, tilted our heads back and let it trickle down the throat. Then we talked of it and nibbled Bath Oliver biscuits and passed on to another wine; then back to the first, then on to another, until all three were in circulation and the order of the glasses got confused and we fell out over which was which and we passed the glasses to and fro between us until there were six glasses some of them with mixed wines in them which we had filled from the wrong bottle, till we were obliged to start again with three clean glasses each, and the bottles were empty and our praise of them wilder and more exotic."
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Bath Oliver biscuits
30 ml warm water
3g dried yeast
50 g butter
150 ml milk
5g salt
340g flour

  • Combine the yeast and water and set aside to bloom.
  • Gently heat the milk and butter together over a low heat, keep the temperature down, just warm enough to melt the butter.
  • Combine the yeast and liquid in a bowl and add half the flour.
  • Mix well, cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Combine the rested batter with the remaining flour and salt to form a ball of dough.
  • Knead the dough until smooth, allowing it to rest now and then.
  • Place into a clean bowl and cover tightly, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 160ºC, and set up a rack in the top third and another in the lower third.

  • Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 2cm thick.

  • Fold into thirds and roll back out, repeat this 8 times. You will need to rest the dough every 2–3 folds as it will be resistant to re-rolling.

  • Roll the dough out to 5mm thick, dock the pastry all over, then using a cutter press out large circles.
  • Arrange on lined trays, spray the rounds with a light misting of water and sprinkle over some flaky salt.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, swap the trays over halfway through, until golden and crisp, this may take a little longer sometimes.
  • When cooked move the biscuits to a cooling rack and then store in an airtight container.

This recipe is based on one from Ladies a Plate

Monday, May 18, 2015

Crabapple jelly

Well if you follow my Instagram or twitter you'll know this has been quite the week, my son was born on Tuesday the 12th, a healthy 4.4 kg. So all my attention has, of course, been on him rather than blog posts.

Just before he was born we were given a hefty bag of crabapples from Sophie's mother which brought back fond memories of youth in Hastings living next to an apple orchard with a generous crabapple tree on our property and my mother cooking up batches of the sweet sour jelly. It's a versitle product, great spread on toast with lashings of butter, used as a glaze for roast duck or used to enrich a sauce. The jelly is a relatively straightforward, but it will take two days, only about 80 minutes of cooking though.

  • Pick over your crabapples removing the stems and discarding any overly bruised fruit. 
  • Place the apples in a pot and cover with about an inch of water. 
  • Put on medium heat and bring to the boil. 
  • Cook for 30 minutes on a brisk simmer. 
  • Pour through a muslin cloth and let drain naturally overnight do not be tempted to squeeze the fruit or push the liquid through otherwise you'll get a cloudy jelly.
  • Measure the strained liquid and pour into a pot.
  • Add 70 percent, by weight, of sugar and the juice of a lemon to the pot.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes skimming off any scum that forms. Check the jelly sets by placing a spponfull on a chilled plate.
  • Pour the hot jelly in to sterilised jars and screw on the lids. 
  • Allow the jars to cool on the bench before transferring to a cool dark place to store.