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eG Foodblog: nickrey (2011) - Classical/Modernist: It's all Jazz i


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Welcome everyone to my week of cooking.

Talk about hard acts to follow: coming straight after the very successful blogs of Shelby and Chris Amirault. I hope I can provoke a fraction as much discussion and interest.

For those people who tried to guess my identity, Pam asked for photos that would make it somewhat obscure. Seems I did too good a job. Let’s go through them.

teaser4.jpg

This first photo was not actually a sauce as some guessed. It was Crème Anglaise and it is sitting in an ice bath. The colour is not a photographic mistake. It was made using Joël Robuchon’s recipe, which uses twelve egg yolks. Along with the cream, sugar and two vanilla beans, this mixture went on to be a delicious ice cream that we enjoyed with Chistmas pudding.

Teaser3.jpg

The second photo is the view from Balmoral Beach through Sydney's heads. Yes Erin, you got that one right. The tree that seemed to stump people is a Eucalyptus. Australia has over 700 varieties of Eucaplyptus and it is one of our most common trees. This beach is a five minute drive from my place, which in turn is only a few kilometers from the centre of Sydney. I try to go walking at Balmoral most days.

teaser2.jpg

teaser1.jpg

The third and fourth photos are of a small part of my cooking bookshelf and my sous vide rig. Those of you who read the sous vide thread will know that I am a sometimes contributor.

This brings me to the subtitle of my blog. I use many different types of cooking styles from classical to modernist. It’s really a matter of what gives the results that I want to achieve. The jazz part of the title comes from Charlie Trotter’s analogy of food with jazz and creative music in general. This concept took my fancy.

Now on with the trip.

As a note for those of you in North America, we are 19 hours ahead of the West Coast. That means it is 6.30pm here on Sunday and 11.30pm there on Saturday. If it seems like I’m posting at odd hours, that should explain it. Also, please bear with me if I don’t reply to your posts in what seems like a timely fashion: I may be sleeping.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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The second photo is the view from Balmoral Beach through Sydney's heads. Yes Erin, you got that one right.

Aha! I've only been there the once, but they've stuck in my head. They're so distinctive. And that tree - I love the Eucalyptus.

What sort of native foods will we be seeing this week? Any sous-vide barramundi?

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What sort of native foods will we be seeing this week? Any sous-vide barramundi?

No sorry, I was at the fish markets today, which you will see in a later post. I saw some barra there but am actually not that into it as a fish as it can taste quite muddy. In fact, this (entirely personal) bias of mine extends to most river fish. I grew up near the ocean and my father was a keen fisherman, which meant I went along as well. To me nothing beats fish fresh out of the ocean.

People asked Snadra about the native foods as well and she was brave enough to do kangaroo. Growing up in South Australia we had kangaroo available for human consumption when a lot of the other states would only allow it for pet food so I'm quite familiar with it. But again, the taste is not always to my liking unless it is accompanied by a pretty strong berry, or similar, sauce.

I'm very much free floating this week so we'll see where the journey takes us although I would like to give you an insight into my normal cooking process.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I'm sorry about this. You're going to get a bit of a posting blitz.

Because of the time differences, I didn't want to start the blog first thing this morning while Shelby was still doing hers. It's now after 10pm here though, so I'm going to put up the posts in the sequence that they would have occurred had I started this morning.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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First some things about myself.

I first developed an interest in cooking when I read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at school and saw the recipe for Monsieur Bon Bon's secret fooj. It is telling that I wrote out the recipe without remembering which book it came from. This information came to me from the Internet when I looked up the recipe. In my later years I did read many more books by Ian Fleming but did not remember that I owed him the origins of a lifelong obsession.

The interest continued through my teens with the mandatory cooking of cakes and sweets. A friend's mother did some catering and I enjoyed discussing cooking with her. She recommended that I buy the "Cordon Bleu Cookery Course" as it gave detail as to why you did things rather than just giving instructions. She felt this would reflect a more male style of cooking. Judging from my continued interests in such matters, she read me well.

cordon bleu.jpg

I worked my way through the eighteen books in the series (and two supplements) and just really continued cooking (and collecting cook books).

Living in the city, this blog will be a change of pace from Shelby's rural adventures but as I do tend to make things from scratch, the week will not be entirely bereft of such things as making home-made bacon. Some is curing ready for next weekend.

Over this week, weather permitting, I'm going to take you on a tour of some of my local providores starting today with the Sydney Fish Markets.

On Wednesday, my wife and I are going out to dinner and I've already got permission to take the camera so you'll be able to share our meal at Bentley Restaurant and Bar.

If the weather clears, we'll try to go to North Sydney produce markets next Saturday.

So stick around and check the updates. Hopefully you'll find something of interest.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Sunday breakfast. I love the weekends because they allow me to take some time to make something nice rather than eating something before racing out the door.

Most weekend mornings, I indulge in poached eggs and various fried accompaniments.

You know, it's funny when people refer to someone as not being able to cook by saying that they "couldn't even boil an egg." As our own Maggie the Cat showed in her wonderful piece eggs and enough time, this is actually a deceptively hard thing to do.

Poaching eggs is similarly difficult.

It took me many years until I decided to perfect poaching eggs. Then it took many months for it to happen. I'd like to take you through my method, with pictures.

First start with a large pot of water. Do not add salt to it but do add some vinegar. I tend to work in "splooshes, pinches, and drops" so it is hard to give a recommendation but I suspect I put around 50ml in this pot.

Bring the pot up to a low simmer with just a few bubbles breaking the surface. Have your whisk handy.

1. whisk small.jpg

Next move the whisk around the outside of the pan in a circle. I go counterclockwise but then I'm left handed so I'm not sure if this is of any bearing at all to the process.

I swirl the water and then let it settle into a tight whirlpool. The bubbles from the simmer will focus in this pool if you've done it right.

2 swirl small.jpg

Break your egg into a small container from which you can easily pour it into the whirlpool. Lower the container next to the whirlpool and add the egg all at once.

3 egg drop small.jpg

If, as in this case, the white (albumen) was a bit less cohesive that it should be, you may get a somewhat large tail, as I did here. Just use your slotted spoon to cut through the tail and remove the excess.

4 egg with tail small.jpg

The next photo shows two eggs that were added in quick succession. When they are becoming cooked, they will float to the top (see photo). At this stage, you can take them up on your slotted spoon and press the egg gently to check how cooked it is. This really comes down to experience but if you like your yolks runny, there should be some resistance but not a large amount.

5 eggs floating.jpg

If you don't want to serve them straight away, you can put them into a bowl with iced water. They can then be reheated by placing them back into the water for a brief period.

7 eggs in water.jpg

This allows you time to cook your fried stuff. I had black pudding and bacon this morning.

8 breakfast uncut.jpg

And the moment of truth, the cutting of the egg.

9 breakfast.jpg

I like my eggs runny but as you check the yolk in an earlier step, you can get it to any texture you like reliably and repeatedly.

Along with my breakfast, I also have a cappucino made with my Rancilio Miss Silvia

10 rancilio.jpg

11 cappucino.jpg

Note the clever pattern. I call this one the apple. I also do the mushroom cloud and the blob. Must get my daughter to show me how to do patterns one of these days. The microfoam is good, it's just an operator deficiency.

After a while, the second coffee of the day is had. In this case, it's a ristretto. To get this, you stop the flow just before the coffee starts to blond (at around 20ml of a 30ml pour. My daughter has spent last year being a very busy barista before starting University this year. I showed her the difference between a ristretto and an espresso by pouring the first 20ml into one cup and the next 10ml into another. The ristretto is almost sweet compared to the bitter last bit of an espresso pour. She's been converting a number of her clients to ristrettos since.

12 ristretto.jpg

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Looking forward to it Nick, can I request some uniquely Australian fish like yabbies or moreton bay bugs? I don't think i've ever seen them on the forum.

Hi Prawncrackers. Will be going to the fish markets again later in the week so I'll see what I can find.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Hi Nick,

I'm really looking forward to this. As someone who is new to Sydney's Northern Beaches I'm looking forward to hearing about where you like to shop!

Hi Chris,

It's going to be mainly concentrated around the lower North shore but it may give you some ideas if you want to venture in.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Sunday morning every few months is also stock making time. I mainly use chicken stock in my cooking so that's what's being made today.

I know it's extravagant but I always use a free range chicken for the stock.

1 free range chicken.jpg

Not being totally extravagant, however, I take off the breasts and tenderloins.

2 breasts removed.jpg

They are going into brine and then into vacuum bags for a meal later in the week.

Having a chicken is a good chance to practice cutting one up so here goes:

3 dismembered chook.jpg

I also added some chicken necks.

Using Heston Blumenthal's technique, the chicken went into water which was brought to the boil. It was then drained and filled again with cold water, which was then drained again.

The stock starts off with some aromatic vegetables. In this case, it is carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and celery.

4 mise en place stock.jpg

All are chopped and then added to the pressure cooker and gently sauteed in butter (do not brown).

Next I add white wine to cover and increase the temperature. Boil it until the vegetables are still moist but most of the wine has evaporated.

Next add the chicken and water to cover. This is a little bit above the recommended liquid line but as I keep the pressure at a low hiss, it seems to work.

5 stock pre cooking.jpg

The stock is heated sans lid at this stage and skimmed.

The stock was then cooked for 1 1/2 hours, allowed to cool until it could be opened and then some wings were added (also boiled and drained as before).

Another half an hour of cooking under pressure and once again it was allowed to come off pressure until the lid could be opened.

Aromatics were added (bay leaves, parsley stems and stalks and thyme). This was then allowed to infuse for 1/2 an hour.

The stock was then strained through muslin.

It gave this much stock.

6 stock.jpg

Just bought some new canning jars to try out with the stock. Because we lack freezer space, canning is the best solution. The product is shelf stable but you have to follow proper canning procedure.

7 new jars.jpg

I use one of those fat separators for filling the jars (the one with the spout from the bottom), which seems to minimise the amount of fat in the stock.

It made more stock that I thought so had to bring some old jars into play. You can also see that they were filled later in the process when the fat was harder to keep out.

8 stock jarred.jpg

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Lunch was some home made tagliatelle with tomato, salmon, olive, caper, chilli, onion, and garlic sauce.

tagliatelle.jpg

pasta.jpg

I have a confession. My camera played up so the early pictures of this were lost. I redid one lot of home made tagliatelle for the shot (hence the sparse pasta hanging from the rack). My wife is taking this dish to work for lunch tomorrow.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Where'd you get your black pudding? It looks luscious.

I purchased it at one of my favourite butchers, AC Butchery in Surry Hills. I think they get it in rather than making it themselves though.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Next off to the Sydney fish markets.

fish markets.jpg

This was where my camera was playing up so I don't have as many good shots as I wanted but we'll try to make do with what I have.

"SFM is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the world's second largest seafood market in terms of variety outside of Japan, SFM auctions over 100 species daily. A working fish market, SFM sources product both nationally and internationally and trades over 14,500 tonnes of seafood annually." (direct quote from their website)

They have fish shops, restaurants, a bakery, a fruit and veg shop, a kitchenware shop, a bottle shop and some of the best seafood you'll get anywhere.

There are a number of shops outside the main complex but my pictures will concentrate in there.

First a picture down the main corridor inside.

markets.jpg

To the left is an oyster bar where you can buy many different varieties and watch someone shucking them live in front of you.

oyster bar.jpg

Each of the shops also has little dining areas where you can buy freshly cooked fish done to your liking.

eating.jpg

I also went into Blackwattle deli where I got some greek tarama (for taramsolata), some salt dried anchovies from Lesbos, and some of my favourite cooking salt. I'm going back there!

deli.jpg

There is an outside eating area where you can take your cooked fish from one of the shops. The bridge in the background is the Anzac bridge which goes from the city across to the inner west.

outside eating.jpg

I lost most of my shots of the actual fish (grrr) but managed to retrieve one of one of the fish shops.

fish shop.jpg

I bought some oysters (more of those tomorrow), some calamari, and some tuna. The tuna is for dinner tonight (next post).

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Tonight's dinner was tuna, bought at the fish markets.

tuna.jpg

I just bought Janni Kyritsis' book "Wild Weed Pie." One of the recipes caught my eye. It was tuna with a herbed crust (coriander, group coriander seeds, parsley) poached at a low temperature in olive oil. He served this with eggplant and garlic chips.

My local store didn't have coriander when I went down there this evening. Time to improvise.

I wanted to try the herbed crust in a sous vide bag with some olive oil. Ok, Mediterranean. How about pesto? I've got basil at home...

Bought some zucchini, eggplant, mushroom, and tomatoes to go up a grilled vegetable salad to go with it.

Chargrilling vegetables outside on grill pan over wok burner on BBQ to stop the house from filling up with smoke. A gentle drizzle starts, oh well.

The pesto was done in a mortar and pestle and put on the tuna. I then put this in a bag with a few ice cubes of olive oil (my daughter lives in fear of having a cold drink with an ice cube of olive oil, duck fat, sauce, or lemon juice or whatever else I have floating around in the freezer).

Here is the vacuum packed fish with "crust." Hope it doesn't come off in the cooking process.

bagged tuna.jpg

Cooked it at 68C for seven minutes.

Snipped corner of bag, drained liquid. Cut around edge of bag to allow for bag to be peeled from tuna and "crust."

Phew, it worked.

tuna.jpg

Goodnight one and all.

Work day tomorrow. I'll try to reply to posts as soon as possible.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I'm sorry about this. You're going to get a bit of a posting blitz.

Because of the time differences, I didn't want to start the blog first thing this morning while Shelby was still doing hers. It's now after 10pm here though, so I'm going to put up the posts in the sequence that they would have occurred had I started this morning.

Awww, Nick, you didn't have to wait, but I appreciate your kindness!!!

I'm revved up and ready to read your blog!!!

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Sunday breakfast. I love the weekends because they allow me to take some time to make something nice rather than eating something before racing out the door.

Most weekend mornings, I indulge in poached eggs and various fried accompaniments.

You know, it's funny when people refer to someone as not being able to cook by saying that they "couldn't even boil an egg." As our own Maggie the Cat showed in her wonderful piece eggs and enough time, this is actually a deceptively hard thing to do.

Poaching eggs is similarly difficult.

It took me many years until I decided to perfect poaching eggs. Then it took many months for it to happen. I'd like to take you through my method, with pictures.

First start with a large pot of water. Do not add salt to it but do add some vinegar. I tend to work in "splooshes, pinches, and drops" so it is hard to give a recommendation but I suspect I put around 50ml in this pot.

Bring the pot up to a low simmer with just a few bubbles breaking the surface. Have your whisk handy.

1. whisk small.jpg

Next move the whisk around the outside of the pan in a circle. I go counterclockwise but then I'm left handed so I'm not sure if this is of any bearing at all to the process.

I swirl the water and then let it settle into a tight whirlpool. The bubbles from the simmer will focus in this pool if you've done it right.

2 swirl small.jpg

Break your egg into a small container from which you can easily pour it into the whirlpool. Lower the container next to the whirlpool and add the egg all at once.

3 egg drop small.jpg

If, as in this case, the white (albumen) was a bit less cohesive that it should be, you may get a somewhat large tail, as I did here. Just use your slotted spoon to cut through the tail and remove the excess.

4 egg with tail small.jpg

The next photo shows two eggs that were added in quick succession. When they are becoming cooked, they will float to the top (see photo). At this stage, you can take them up on your slotted spoon and press the egg gently to check how cooked it is. This really comes down to experience but if you like your yolks runny, there should be some resistance but not a large amount.

5 eggs floating.jpg

If you don't want to serve them straight away, you can put them into a bowl with iced water. They can then be reheated by placing them back into the water for a brief period.

7 eggs in water.jpg

This allows you time to cook your fried stuff. I had black pudding and bacon this morning.

8 breakfast uncut.jpg

And the moment of truth, the cutting of the egg.

9 breakfast.jpg

I like my eggs runny but as you check the yolk in an earlier step, you can get it to any texture you like reliably and repeatedly.

Along with my breakfast, I also have a cappuccino made with my Rancilio Miss Silvia

10 rancilio.jpg

11 cappucino.jpg

Note the clever pattern. I call this one the apple. I also do the mushroom cloud and the blob. Must get my daughter to show me how to do patterns one of these days. The microfoam is good, it's just an operator deficiency.

After a while, the second coffee of the day is had. In this case, it's a ristretto. To get this, you stop the flow just before the coffee starts to blond (at around 20ml of a 30ml pour. My daughter has spent last year being a very busy barista before starting University this year. I showed her the difference between a ristretto and an espresso by pouring the first 20ml into one cup and the next 10ml into another. The ristretto is almost sweet compared to the bitter last bit of an espresso pour. She's been converting a number of her clients to ristrettos since.

12 ristretto.jpg

Oh my, I could possibly be drawn away from my Mtn. Dew in the morning if I had Miss Silvia. That cappuccino looks soooo yummy. I also love that polka dot cup!

Edited by Shelby (log)
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Hi Nick,

Can't wait to follow along with you! I also am proficient at the "blob" option for decorating the tops of espressos, much to the chagrin of my husband. We usually just cheat and have regular coffee. Can I ask why you freeze your olive oil?

Looking forward to seeing what else you have to share this week from somewhere warm and sunny, that last bit being said with a not-incosiderable amount of envy...

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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On Wednesday, my wife and I are going out to dinner and I've already got permission to take the camera so you'll be able to share our meal at Bentley Restaurant and Bar.

Very interested to read about and look at this meal, Nick. Have you been since the remodel? or at all?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Looking forward to a week of wonderful food and sights. That tuna looks great. I may become a sous vider yet.

Can you tell us a bit about your shopping routine? My sister lives in Sydney (Castle Cove) and it sounds like there is much more specialty shopping versus the big supermarket. For instance going to the greengrocer for produce, the butcher for meats, the bakery for bread.

I will chime in (beg actually) for another visit to get photos at the seafood market :biggrin:

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      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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