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Everything posted by TheCulinaryLibrary

  1. Addicted to fondant potatoes ...still......with anything or nothing.... with beef fillet and a compound butter of sauteed leek/shallot/ herb/horseraddish
  2. Deciding what to cook is equally enjoyable for me browsing a stack of my books (old & new) or searching google images for visual inspiration. I use my e-reader for most stuff but not cookbooks, too messy having electronic devices in the kitchen. The problem with writing recipes from the computer is I loose them afterwards, like one particularly fabulous pineapple coconut mousse cake recipe I made but haven't found again. Amazon, which is far from evil and the exact opposite infact, has its 'look inside' feature which I find is great because lets me try recipes before I buy, like Tartine etc. 90% of my stuff and 100% of my books I buy online now because I can't stand the much higher retail shop prices and all that rude inneficiency anymore. I might see a cook book in a store but I will aways buy it online. No surprises retail malls are failing. I guess books and food blogs, forums, magazines etc are like clothes for me, sometimes I find something, accidentally usually, and wonder how I ever lived without it, then I use and abuse it till it's ragged, soft and splotchy. And please don't worry about food/cookbook authors because when you have a passion you just can't help yourself and speaking from experience (of both the old and new systems) the publishing process and author royalties just keep get better and better thanks solely to the big online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. and certainly not to traditional publishers/editors who are also packing their bags for shopping mall heaven or going to work for Amazon, same thing really. Melbourne Artshub, an online Mag, which reaches 30-40,000 readers weekly just published an article I wrote ( see it at theculinarylibrary.com) , about my experience of being an author in both systems. I know people are thinking about and interested in this issue because so far its been the most red article of 2012.
  3. I grow pomegranates commercially (as well as walnuts). The concentrated juice is not the same as molasses and is reduced further, usually by half, to become what we call pomegranate molasses. Commercial molasses usually has more depth of flavor than you can make at home. But using the concentrate to deglaze and then make a reduction sauce can give a close approximation to commercial molasses. I'd use concentrate with drinks/desserts etc or if you want to make a reduction sauce use it to lacquer meat or try my: POMEGRANATE LACQUERED DUCK RECIPE Score the skin side of free-range duck breasts ( or chicken thigh if you prefer) but without going as deep as the meat layer. Season with pepper only and brown, skin side down in a medium heated pan for 7 minutes, reduce the heat and after 2-3 minutes more flip and cook 4-5 minutes on the second side, the exact time will depend on the size.and be more for chicken thighs. Add a splash of cognac/brandy if you have it and flame off the alcohol then remove meat and rest covered with foil. Pour any excess fat from the pan and deglaze with equal amounts of pomegranate concentrate and honey. Reduce to a syrup, remember it will thicken as it cools ,taste, adjust seasoning adding salt if necessary. Remove from heat and add some chopped nuts (wal, hazel, cashew or pecan) and some orange slices &/0r pomegranate avrils. Lacquer the duck skin with the sauce, slice and serve on a bed of steamed greens, spooning over the captured juice and some extra sauce. ( also indulgently luscious served on creamy mash, but we won't go there...)
  4. In April this year I did a blog posting where I reviewed all liquid, powder and cubed commercial stock available on the Australian market. One of the interesting finds, to me, was the most expensive liquid stock retailed at $24/L! or the equivalent of spending $100 on ingredients for the home stock pot (assuming around 5L of end product!). Obviously home cooks can't bulk/buy food like restaurants to save costs on stock making but sometimes your local Asian market or China Town is just as cheap. Organic and freerange are often available( or just ask the suppliers to order you some), as are various cuts/carcassses/feet etc all at great prices and much cheaper than super or local markets.
  5. All the plant is edible, below is the entry from my book on Edible Flowers & Leaves: ARUGULA ….……………………………………………………………........................................................................................................................ Eruca vesicaria. Also known as Arrugula, Rocket, Roquette, Rucetta, Roqueto, Tira and White pepper leaf. High in Vitamin C and Potassium, the Ancient Romans considered the whole of the arugula plant an aphrodisiac and ate the leaves, flowers, young seedpods and mature seeds. In India arugula seeds are called Gargeer and in Slovenia their flowers, seeds and leaves are added to the traditional philo-wrapped cheese and greens called Burek (find the recipe at theculinarylibrary.com). If you ever travel to the Gulf of Naples and visit the Island of Ischia, try their unique alcoholic digestive made from arugula, it’s called Rucolino. In Egypt’s Sulk or spice markets, fresh arugula flowers and leaves are eaten for breakfast with stewed fava (small brown broad) beans and in Italy rocket is widely grown in Veneto and the flowers and baby leaves used raw in salads, with feta, pizza and pastas. Flowers taste nutty, slightly spicy-peppery, have 4 long club-ended petals the palest yellow-white in color and spidery crimson or violet veins. Both the form and savory flavor are exquisite.
  6. Arugula is also known as 'Rocket' in Australia, which is a good description of its flavor when it's mature, but it's sold mainly here as baby leaves (Am currently publishing a book on Edible Flowers & Leaves, so have done lots of research, tasting and growing over the past couple of years!). If you love Arugula you may also like Mizuna, the Japanese equivalent, same shaped leaves only longer and more feathery, same hot peppery-mustardy taste but with that distinctly big Japanese Wasabi hit on the back palate. Easy to grow and self seeds year after year. I like both in salad with finely shaved bulb fennel & citrus segments, dressed with reduced balsamic, oil and sauteed nuts (hazel, wal or macadamias). And I'm with the pizza lovers, can't beat fresh arugula atop a pizza blanc drizzled with nut or truffle oil..
  7. I'm not a fan of the over-stirred-small-curd scramble that oozes whey because its been cooked too hot and curdled. If you're like me and prefer the large and luscious soft scramble variety it's pretty easy to achieve. Just lightly beat up some eggs, add a splash of cream and black pepper and into a medium heat non-stick pan or saucepan.....no salt at this stage as it will toughern the protein and make the eggs go rubbery. Once the egg begins to set , a quick stir and cover with a lid (preferably glass so you can see what's happening). Cook slowly letting the steam cook the eggs until it aerates them and literally puffs them up. A final quick stir as soon as they rise, folding in some butter and herbs and then add your favourite flaked salt.
  8. No, have never managed it, just oven toasted for that lovely nutty, crisp, crostini type bread. I don't think the maillard reaction (browning) works with bread slices without a direct radiant heat greater than 315F. But Brown bread absorbs radiant heat faster than white, so too does dryer bread. And brown and wholemeal breads have more sugars and proteins than white which means the maillard reaction is quicker and darker. Maybe try brown, sliced, day old or more, for a couple of minutes each side in a pre heated oven and experiment with temps from 315-500F?
  9. Vadouvan Vadouvan, also known as Vaudouvan, Vadovam, or Vadavam, is sauteed shallots, onions and garlic flavored with an Indian Masala spice mix and oven roasted until sticky and smoky. Traditional Masala Curry is a mix of garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, mustard & fenugreek, nutmeg & cloves. The French bought a small fishing village in Pondicherry from a local sultan in the 1600’s quickly converting the small fishing Village into a prosperous trading port and staying until 1954. The French Colonials, just like the British during the reign or Raj, began a fusion cuisine by flavouring their sautéed onions, garlic & shallots with Masala spice mix, drying it in the oven and calling it Vadouvan. There doesn’t seem to be a root word for Vadouvan so we assume some French colonial cook invented it. The Culinary Library Recipe for Vadouvan: Is it any wonder you begin making Vadouvan the same as if you were making French Onion Soup? Slowly sauté 1 kg of sliced/chopped onions, ½ kg of shallots and 1 full head of chopped garlic cloves, in a good quantity of butter or ghee until golden brown and soft. Then add in no particular order, 1 heaped tablespoon of ground cumin and a generous teaspoon each of ground cardamom, brown or black mustard seed, fenugreek seeds bruised in the mortar & pestle, turmeric, salt & pepper, (maybe the fat luscious Tellicherry pepper from the opposite coast of India if you have it!). Then add ½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, red pepper flakes and ground clove. Spread the mix onto a flat tray and roast/dry in a 180C (350F) oven for about an hour until browned but still a little moist. When cool add finely chopped curry leaves if desired. Flavor: rich, savory, alliumy, sweet, smoky. Pair with: Meats of all kinds, root vegetables, soups, sauces, grains & legumes, dairy. Cook: Best fried first in rich fats like butter or duck fat to bring out the rich smoky flavour. Store: refrigerate for a couple of weeks or Freeze.
  10. Always good in fruit salad
  11. Add potato, the experts insist; it must be baked not boiled, skinned not peeled, waxy yellow not white, riced with a ricer not mashed and no doubt is only perfect when baked, dancing naked around the kitchen, under a full moon. Like all nonsensical professional vanity, it’s just not a very good idea, dancing naked in a hot kitchen or adding potato to gnocchi. These same experts tell us to add squash, sweet potato, chopped bread, béchamel sauce, choux pastry, milk, spices, spinach, semolina and even truffles. They forget that adding potato and all this other stuff to gnocchi is a new innovation and not a very good one, because in my opinion, some recipes are best left alone. The Ancient Romans had the idea first. Weary soldiers, at the end of a long, cold, hard, day tromping about Europe and Asia, wanted something hot for dinner, something that would fill them up and stick to their ribs and they wanted it now. The legions cook, low on supplies and even lower on ideas, must have put a big pot of water on to boil, thrown in a handful of salt and wracked his brains. He had no meat, no vegetables, scant flour, certainly not enough for bread or pasta, a few scavenged eggs and some sour fermenting milk in goat skins that had churned itself to soft cheese during the days march. In his desperation he threw his three last ingredients together, dropped knobs of the resulting soft dough into his pot of water and presto, invented not pasta, not bread, not noodles, but the soft-hearted plump little darling dumplings we call gnocchi. This original gnocchi was made right up ’til the 1300’s before chef’s got hold of it. In a last gasp of common sense a Tuscan dialect cook urges us to “take some cheese and mash it, then take some flour … mix it with egg … place a pot of water over a fire …when it starts boiling … slide it in the pot with a spoon… when cooked …top them with a lot of grated cheese.” I think the Ancient Romans and Tuscans had the right idea of keeping their flavourings for the sauce, so my recipe, like their original one is still the softest, cheapest, easiest and the best. If you want to try my recipe for the original gnocchi is on my food blog at TheCulinaryLibrary.com
  12. An unresolved question for me from a past post, is when it's best to Salt Meat? There seems to be no concensus. Do you get the juciest, most tender result from salting a few hours before cooking or at the time of cooking or afterwards? or a combination?. I'm watching Matt Moran on Masterchef Australia salt his meat just before cooking and it's making me absolutely cringe in disbelief !! It flies in the face of everything I've been taught (Cordon Bleu London & Elizabeth Russell's) and everything I've read since. Can someone convince me with the science?
  13. Try dipping your bread in buttery Avocado oil before dipping in Dukkah. "Avocado Oil ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... One of the few oils extracted from the fleshy pulp rather than the kernel or seed of the fruit (along with palm oil). It has the highest smoke point of the edible oils at 520°F. This would usually mean a good oil for frying; however, this is not the case, as avocado oil turns bitter when heated. It has a pale, delicate, green-yellow color and a sweet flavor and is an excellent carrier of both sweet and salty flavors." Alchemy of the Mortar & Pestle, Vol.1. The Culinary Library, chapter, Athereolea.
  14. I agree with the Kumquat Marmalade Idea. I make it every year and it is amazing. It you like it a little darker and bitter just let it cook out a little longer until the sugar syrup begins to caramelize.
  15. We have a fantastic local beach with perfect oval smooth stones. Maybe a seafood chowder?
  16. For perfect Basmati or Jasmine Rice try the ratio of 1:1 . Because most Basmati & Jasmine Rice is polished with talc powder these days I like to rinse mine 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear. Then I give it a pre-cook soak for 30m in clean water, drain again and then cook in water in the ratio of 1:1.
  17. Just remembered Perilla leaves( sometimes sold in Asian shops as Shiso). Great for wrapping up cooked meat fillings and around cold rolls and their spicy, pungent, minty-cinnamon flavor jumps out when you tempura them whole.
  18. Pandan leaf wrapped chicken thigh is popular here as is Laab served on Betel leaves. Both are highly aromatic but whilst the Betel is soft and edible, the Pandan is tough and used to cook in but not eat.Even adding Pandan leaves to rice while its cooking imparts a wonderful flavor.
  19. I've been experimenting, trying to make the perfect sponge, trying to get that balance between flavor and lightness. I stick with butter for flavor and loose a little lightness, so I add potato or arrowroot starch to my flour to get it back again, I try an egg/sugar aeration, a fat/sugar aeration and a sugar/fat/yolk aeration with the whites peaked on the side. I fold flour in last as gentle as a lamb and cook only between 175-190C to avoid peaks(head too high) or troughs (heat too low) and cook in a dull, not shiny, not black, buttered but not papered pan.It's still not perfect, the texture crumb is light, flavorsome but too big to be melt in your mouth soft. I think I need help on the ratios of sugar/flour/fat/egg or any other tips if anyone has cracked the code.
  20. Just reading the hummus post reminded me of the two best secrets to a perfect hummus. Water-hulled tahini, which is paler and sweeter than non water-hulled and the addition of water which gives the light soft creaminess. Never use the brine liquid from the canned chickpeas or the boiling juice from dried chick peas, use fresh pure water, and adjust the lemon ,salt and pepper afterwards.
  21. Apart from the basics of chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, a little onion, parsley and olive oil an essential edition, if you like the light creamy version is to use only water hulled organic tahini and once all the above ingredients are blended and seasoned, add water a little at a time, tasting as you go. Your hummus will take on a lighter, paler texture and then you can taste and adjust the lemon, salt and pepper.Don't worry if it seems too soft because once transferred to a serving dish and refrigerated, the oil will make the set firmer. We always reserve some whole chickpeas and oil for drizzling into an deeply indented decreasing spiral groove. Sprinkle finally with a hot or sweet smoked spanish paprika.
  22. Just to get back to the tricky question of "to salt or not to salt".........If any one has followed this thread, you might be interested in taking a quick look at Cooking Issues, the food tech blog of the French Culinary Institute where they put their case.
  23. Saffron cream sauce with ricotta or feta gnocchi,is great. Ditch the new addition of potato to your gnocchi, which destroys its soft-pillow like texture. The ancient Roman army invented gnocchi. So go back to the basics with just eggs, flour and mushy fermented soft cheese. For the sauce, just add infused saffron to a light bechamel + cream ( = Classic Cream sauce). Fresh French tarragon is subtle enough to add depth but not to interfere with the saffron.
  24. I'm not one to admit defeat or the inability to select good produce in its prime , but more and more I'm tempted just to buy the pre-peeled, sliced, pre-packaged, fresh pineapples, because at least I can see what I'm getting.
  25. Foraging fills me with horror zefer81. I live in rural Australia and see people collecting sheep's sorrel on the side of roads! Looks like normal sorrel but isn't. I wouldn't be game. Even when I collect wild mushrooms from the natural forests on my property they still make me nervous enough to check the books. Foragers are either brave or clued-up. I confess I am neither, having been spoilt by reliable food suppliers. Have to agree though about beers, there are so many boutique ones here it's hard to choose. Sparkling Pear cider ( at 4.5% alcohol ) is a really new thing here, and has just hit the shelves in the last couple of weeks. At a family spring barbie (BBQ) last Saturday it was a huge hit under the fragrant wisteria arbor, even with the two 80+ grans who don't normally drink alcohol. Slightly sweeter than dry apple cider and delicious.
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