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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 37, Hearty

Beef Provencale

Recipe: Beef Provencale
From: Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is hearty, and to paraphrase Ange: almost everything I'm cooking at the moment could be classified as hearty. It's this damned weather - why oh why when Alastair and I left Wellington didn't we move to a tropical country? Or Queensland? (Oh yeah, because it's Queensland.)

For the theme this week I made beef provencale - well sort of. Normally when I make a beef stew I don't follow a recipe. I just throw in whatever vegetables I have (normally carrots and celery) along with copious amounts of onion and garlic, plus whatever spices and seasoning I feel like.

Beef Provencale

For this beef provencale I read the recipe, and then.... well let's just say I used it for inspiration purposes only. Marinating the meat? Didn't do that. Followed the instructions for cooking? Didn't do that. Used the same ingredients? Yep, didn't do that either.

Anyway, it's a beef stew. As long as it's cooked low and slow, it all turns out edible and delicious. I did add the anchovies, capers and vinegar near the end of the cooking, which gave it an interesting salty, sour element. And I made a large pot of garlic mashed potatoes to eat with the stew - definite hearty winter fare.

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Beef Provencale

Beef Provencale

From: Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course

Serves 8

1.3kg lean stewing beef (I used gravy beef)

2 tablespoons olive oil
300ml dry white or red wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme, sage or annual marjoram
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
110g carrots, peeled thinly sliced
110g onions, peeled thinly sliced
Two sticks of celery, thinly sliced

450g bacon, cut into 1cm lardons
1 x 400g tin tomatoes, chopped
150ml homemade stock (I only had chicken, though the book says beef)
175g sliced mushrooms
10 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, mashed

Cut the beef into chunks about 3-4cm. Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the meat. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the meat to a plate. Reserve the vegetables and the marinade.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon until crispy. Remove and then brown the marinated meat in batches.

In a large pot or casserole, add the fried bacon, browned meat, tinned tomatoes, reserved marinated liquid and vegetables, and stock. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow the meat to simmer on a gentle heat until the meat is tender - about 1.5-2 hours.

When the meat is tender, liquidise the anchovies, capers, parsley, wine vinegar and garlic. Add to the casserole with the sliced mushrooms. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. If necessary, thicken the sauce by whisking in a little roux (cornflour mixed into water).

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Christmas in July pudding making workshop at The Langham

Pudding making class at the Langham

Disclosure: I attended this event courtesy of The Langham and Media Moguls.

So it’s July, and you know what that means, don’t you? Time to think about Christmas! Okay, perhaps it’s not quite time to plan for Christmas, but it will be right about the corner before you know it. Isn’t that a scary thought?

Last week I headed to the Langham with several other food bloggers and food media for a Christmas in July event. I was particularly excited by the fact that we would be having a Christmas pudding making session.

After a series of canapés and glasses of bubbles (I didn’t take pictures of the canapés, but check out some of the other bloggers linked below for details), we put on aprons and chefs’ hats and headed down to the pastry kitchen. Being a food geek, I was very excited at taking the big elevator down and checking out the commercial kitchen. Oooh. It was so shiny! And clean! And bright! And shiny! Plus you should have seen the massive commercial mixer – ahhh. It was almost as tall as me – which is not saying much, to tell you the truth. I wish I had thought to take a photo of it!

Pudding making class at the Langham Pudding making class at the Langham

We were split into two groups and into two different kitchens. My group were introduced to pastry chef Zara, who talked to us about tempering chocolate and about chocolate truffles.

Pudding making class at the Langham

Zara dipped pre-filled truffles in melted white chocolate, and showed us how to make the spiky pattern – by rolling it around on the rack with a fork. Easy! Well, she made it look easy anyway.

The white chocolate truffles were filled with elderflower liqueur and raspberry ganache. I always say that I don’t really like white chocolate... but I made an exception for these truffles! They were delicious and the sweetness of the white chocolate really highlighted the elderflower and raspberry.

Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

Zara had also prepared some rum balls that she dipped in Lindt milk chocolate and decorated with cocoa nibs. She confessed that she put rather a lot of rum in them. She certainly did! Wow wee. They were great!

Pudding making class at the Langham Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

And… can you believe she told us we were free to taste the items on this bench?!

Pudding making class at the Langham

I would have loved to have spent more time listening to Zara but we had to move on. We swapped with the other group and headed into the kitchen next door to make pudding. Chef Anthony Ross was in charge of this session, and he started things off by tipping a large amount of butter, almond meal and hazelnut meal on to the bench.

Pudding making class at the Langham

He told us to get our hands into it and start rubbing the butter into the almond/hazelnut meal. (Yes we washed our hands first!)

Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

After the butter and almond/hazelnut meal were well mixed, the fruit was tipped in. The fruit had been prepared earlier, and had been macerating in a brandy mixture. When it was tipped out, a heady scent of brandy and spices wafted around the room. It smelt amazing!

Pudding making class at the Langham

After more mixing, it was all piled up and a well was formed in the middle, into which liquid was poured – I think it was a combination of juice, milk, eggs and spices.

Pudding making class at the Langham

Plus a couple of cans of stout and a touch more brandy.

Pudding making class at the Langham

After more mixing, we had pudding! Well – almost.

Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

We each selected a charm to put into our puddings (the charms were wrapped in tinfoil for hygiene reasons) and then the pudding was placed on top. For some reason I selected a ballerina (?!).

Pudding making class at the Langham

And look – all the puddings ready for steaming! They were taken away to be steamed for a couple of hours, and we’ll receive our puddings in about five months time. Pretty cool, huh? I’ll let you know how it tastes in December!

For more posts see:

Sarah Cooks
Iron Chef Shellie
I Eat Therefore I Am
Addictive & Consuming

The Langham
1 Southgate Avenue
Phone: 03 8696 888
Web: The Langham – Melbourne

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 36, Comfort Food

Lemon delicious

Recipe: Lemon delicious puddings
From: AWW Bake

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is "comfort food". After a rather busy week, this weekend has been incredibly lazy so something comforting and puddingish sounded good to me.

I have rather a lot of lemons (due to Maria giving me 5kgs from her tree) and I've been doing my best to cook and bake my way through them. So for this week's theme, I decided to make lemon delicious in an effort to use up more lemons. If you don't know what lemon delicious, it's a classic - a baked pudding that ends up with two layers: a light sponge on top of a tangy sauce.

Lemon delicious

My puddings were well risen when I took them out of the oven, but by the time I got around to taking photos they had deflated. Well, they still tasted good! I loved the lightness of the sponge layer, and the almost custardy sauce. But next time I make it, I would reduce the sugar - they were a bit sweeter than I wanted.

It's such a great pudding - warm, but not too heavy. And well named too, since it really is delicious!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here

Lemon delicious

Lemon delicious puddings

From The Australian Women's Weekly Bake

Serves 6

125g butter, melted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1&1/2 cup (330g) caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice
1&1/3 cups (330ml) milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease six 1-cup ramekins.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, lemon rind, caster sugar and egg yolks. Stir in the sifted flour and lemon juice.

Gradually add the milk, stirring until combined and smooth.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold a third of the egg whites into the lemon mixture with a large spoon. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and divide the lemon mixture among them. Add enough water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the puddings for about 35 minutes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Campari House: a toast to Campari House roasts

As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival June roast dinner series, the Boys and I headed to Campari House with Maria and Daz, where we were treated to five grazing courses accompanied by five wines.

Campari House

When we arrived, all the glasses had been lined up on the table, and we were advised that all the wines would be poured at once. This was so we could taste each one with the different courses and make our own mind up about the wine and food matching. Which was a great idea, with the only problem being that it was a school night... and the wine pours were VERY generous and our glasses were topped up whenever they were nearing empty.

The five wines were:

Blue Pyrenees NV Brut, Blue Pyrenees Savignon Blanc 2009, Sticks Chardonnay 2009, Red Claw Pinot Noir 2008, and Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz 2008.

I’m not hugely knowledgeable about wines so I won’t talk about them – except to say that the more I drank, the more I enjoyed them. Isn’t that always the way? Hah.

Campari House

Our first course was a braised black trevally on wild mushroom rissoni and pistachio dust. I don’t remember tasting the pistachio dust, but I can tell you that the rissoni was AMAZING. It was indulgently buttery, strongly mushroom flavoured and cooked just right. The fish was also very good, with a crispy skin, but this dish was all about the rissoni.

Campari House

Next up was a rabbit ballontine, with caramelised pearl onion and game jus. The jus was made with rabbit and quail (bones, I’m assuming) and the rabbit had been boned, stuffed and then rolled up into a bundle. Around the outside of the rabbit was bacon – mhmmm bacon.

Campari House

The third course was a cauliflower gratin with truffled white polenta. At first glance and first taste, this was a simple dish and not terribly impressive. The cauliflower was covered in a cheese sauce, and initially we couldn't find any polenta because of all the sauce. But when we dug to the bottom, we found the polenta – and lordy the polenta was fantastic. Cheesy and grainy (but in a good way), and really really moreish. We all gave up on the forks and started scraping out as much polenta as possible with our knives (classy, I know). At least we didn’t lick the plates, though I was tempted.

Campari House

And for the last savoury course, there was a slow roasted mustard beef with sticky winter mushrooms. As you can see, The beef was served quite rare with a hint of mustard and the sweetish mushrooms were hidden underneath the beef. It was a nice dish without being a stand out.

Campari House

Dessert was a chilled strawberry soup with basil foam and a shortbread straw. It sounds odd, but it tasted great and I think Maria will be trying to replicate this one! It would be a perfect summer dessert – it was very sweet and fragrant with the flavour of strawberries and a touch of basil. Sadly the shortbread straw wasn't a proper straw though it was nice and buttery.

I really enjoyed the evening at Campari house, and it wasn't due to all the wine! I was impressed with the food, with the standout dishes being the polenta and the risoni, followed by the strawberry soup. We spent the night on the ground floor, but I believe there's several levels, including a roof top bar which I'm sure would be great in the summer. Judging from what we ate, there's some good food coming from the kitchen at Campari House, and it's definitely worth another visit.

Campari House
23-25 Hardware Lane
Phone: 03 9600 1574

Campari House on Urbanspoon

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