Category Archives: Cooking Lessons

Attitude Magazine – Crumbed Lamb Recipe


Sauteed Mushrooms, Toasted Sour Dough, Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce

I think that breakfast can be the most enjoyable meal of the day.

There is nothing better than waking up on an “early-ish” Sunday morning, going to the farmers market and shopping for fresh ingredients like fresh mushrooms, freshly baked bread, eggs fresh from the farm and herbs straight from the farm garden. It’s a peaceful start to a day, no rushing about and you can really enjoy these wonderful stress free moments and for me, to enjoy that part of the day is rare because it is usually the busiest time of my normal day. You can really let your mind wonder and relax.

I have been asked to show people so many different recipes but none has fascinated people more than the old poached egg. That one request continually amazes me. Even when I cook breakfast at work, people are always amazed at how we can cook a perfectly poached egg. I guess it is because we have done it a million times and we forget that we did find it all a bit of a mystery once upon a time.

One secret to the perfectly poached egg is the egg itself. It must be fresh so that it can cook in the perfect round and egg like shape as opposed to the whispy broken and flattened egg that non-fresh eggs give out.

The second thing is the pot. Use a pot with long sides and deep. This allows the egg to drop at a distance so by the time it hits the bottom, the outside would set slightly, helping form that perfect round shape.

The third and most important is the temperature of the water. It mustn’t be too hot or it will break up the egg too much and it mustn’t be too cool or it will sink to the bottom too quickly and stick to the bottom of the pot. The bubbles from a prefectly heated pot of water help it form the round shape by forcing the heated water and bubbles up and around the egg and it also helps it by not allowing it to sink and stick to the bottom of the pot. Too hot and it will break up the egg but the right temperature keeps it buoyant, preventing it from ever touching the bottom, sticking and over cooking.

The vinegar is there to also help set the egg. The acid makes the protein harden.

Photo by Jun Pang

Sautéed Mushroom on Grilled Sour Dough with Hollandaise Sauce

Serve 4

For the Hollandaise

4 Cloves of garlic

1Tspn Black Peppercorns

1 Bay Leaf

2 Cups White Wine

3 Eggs Yolks

500gr Butter – melted over a double boiler

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

For the Mushrooms

2tspn Vegetable Oil

100gr Butter

100gr Shitake Mushrooms – finely sliced

150gr Shimeji Mushrooms – stalk removed and individually picked

100gr Oyster Mushrooms – ripped into this strips

200gr Button Mushrooms – finely sliced

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

Sea Salt

Ground White Pepper

Poached Eggs

2 Liters Water

¼ Cup Vinegar

8 Fresh eggs

1 Loaf Sour Dough Bread – cut on angle, 4 pieces 2cm thick

Olive Oil

Method

For the Hollandaise

  1. Place the garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaf and white wine into a small pot and reduce to a third and set aside to cool
  2. Put the 2 Liters of water you are to use for the poached eggs on simmer and place a mixing bowl large enough to cover it on top, acting as a double boiler
  3. Place the egg yolks and wine reduction in the bowl and whisk vigorously until fluffy (this is fluffy egg mixture is called a sabayon). Make sure to not allow any of the egg to sit too long on the sides and to incorporate all the eggs mixture into the bowl. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water at any point in time
  4. Once really light and fluffy, slowly “stream” the clarified butter into the sabayon whilst vigorously whisking, incorporating all the mixture back into the centre of the bowl as often as possible
  5. Do not get any of the butter fat into the hollandaise, just the clear, golden butter mixture. If the mixture gets too messy, take off the pot and stir through so as not to over cook
  6. Once the clarified butter is mixed through and resembles the thickness of a light mayonnaise, set aside

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For the Mushrooms

  1. Heat up a large frying pan on high heat for 1 minute
  2. Add the oil then the butter to melt through
  3. Add all the mushrooms and sauté until slightly browned and soft
  4. Add the chopped parsley off the heat
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside briefly

For the Poached Eggs

  1. Bring the water back to a slight simmer, if you have a thermometer, about 85ºC, “rolling” simmer and not breaking the surface of the water
  2. Add the vinegar and allow to mix through for about 1 minute
  3. Slowly crack your eggs into the pot, the bubbles of the “rolling” simmer will avoid the eggs from sinking to the bottom and sticking and it will also envelope the outside of the egg around the entire egg, forming a harden/cooked egg white around the outside and soft on the inside
  4. Allow to cook out for about 1-2 minutes and scoop out with a slotted spoon and onto paper towels to drain

To Finish

  1. Oil the sliced bread and grill or pan fry until golden brown and crunchy
  2. Place the mushrooms evenly on all four slices of bread
  3. Place two poached eggs on top of each serve
  4. Scoop hollandaise on top

Photo by Jun Pang


How to Butcher and Truss a Lamb Loin Roll Ready for Roasting

1.  Start with the spine of the carcass facing you.  If you are right handed, face the legs away from you and spine facing you.  Place the tail end to your right, it is much easier to start this way.

2.  Measure the first spine joint from the hind quarter (tail end), usually this is in line with where the flap joins to the top of the outer thigh; make a mark with your knife so you know where to start the cut cut.  On the fore quarter side (head end), feel where the third and fourth rib is (start your count from the tail end) and make a mark in between the third and four rib with your knife squared to the spine bone.

3.  From the hind quarter, cut through the flap and through the loin until you hit the spine bone with the tip of your knife flush square to the spine.  If you have made your first mark correct, you should not be cutting into the hind quarter at all (any part of the legs or rump).

4.  Do the same with the fore quarter, this time keeping your knife blade flush and square on the rib.  The rib should not be square to the spine which means you shouldn’t be cutting through the ribs.  Continue your cut down until you hit square onto the spine.  All your cuts should be one, smooth cut.  When butchering try not “dab” at the meat with your knife, it ruins the finished product and makes the surface of the cut look jagged and shredded.

5.  From the cut you made at the hind quarter, place the tip of your knife through until it hits the spine.  Using the spine as your guide, run your knife in one smooth and firm action through to the cut you made at the fore quarter

6.  The belly flap should come loose.  Run your knife flush against the ribs and cut stopping just before where the loin starts.  Fold the flap toward you to expose the start of the loin.

7.  Pulling slightly on the flap with your left hand, it exposs the loin and start running your knife with long strokes left to right, keeping the knife flush and tight onto the rib side of the spine.

8.  Keep pulling with your left hand (keep it tort) on the flap and keep running your knife with long strokes and flush against the rib side of the spine until you hit the centre of the spine

9.   If your knife is sharp and you use long strokes, you should end up with a clean cut.  This exposes the spinal joint where you will cut off the quarter (first spinal joint above the hind quarter) and where you will use a saw to cut through to the fore quarter (in between the third and fourth rib, square to the spine)

10.  As you can see the spinal joint is exposed and the third and fourth rib making the job of breaking the whole carcass down a but easier.

11.   Trim the inside of the flap.  Try to get rib of the fatty bits and sinew.

12.  Square off the loin on the spine side.  This will have the most sinew, so trim the sinew off.  There is also a yellow coloured strip, rubbery in texture may be attached to the loin, trim this off.  Usually you won’t need the knife, you simply grab on it and pull, with a little dab of the knife to loosen it perhaps from if it grabs on the meat

 13.  Trim the bark.  When aging or hang meat, the outer “skin” dries.  If it dries too much, it wont allow the fat to render effectively, forming that nice crispy skin.  Trim the thinest layer of this dried skin off by starting at a corner, grad the loosened bit with your fingers and pull gently using your knife to loosen it if it sticks.

14.  Roll the loin onto the flap tightly to measure how much to cut off.  The flap will always be too big.  You don’t want to over lap too much but you do want a little overlap so when is cooks and shrinks a little, you still have the loin nicely covered.  You want about 2cm over lap.

15.  Cut any excess flap off square.  Use the cut flap into mince.

16.  Ready for trussing.  At this point you can choose to stuff it.  In this case, we have just seasoned the inside with salt and pepper.  If stuffing leave a longer piece of the flap.

17.  Using butchers twine, tie a knot in the middle.  trussing is important, it not only keeps the meat together and cooks it evenly but it also lets you know where to carve.  In each case, truss the portions size you want and you will cut in between the truss marks, giving you exact portions for portion control

18.  Truss the end but not too close to the end or the meat will force it off the ends as it cooks

19.  Tie the opposite end

20.  Tie in between the end and middle strings

21.  Do the same on the opposite side.

22.   You have perfectly butchered and trussed lamb loin ready for rendering then roasting


Chefs Dinner – Pigs Ears & Speck Pasta

Every now and again my chefs and I treat our selves with a meal before service. Usually it’s left over stuff that would normally hit the bins from specials that might not have performed too well or change of menu and we’re left with ingredients we can’t incorporate into the new menu.

This particular occasion, we had pigs ears.  I love pig ears, you can do so many things with them.  I like them really crispy on the outside and the cartelidge in the middle adds to that texture.  Crispy fried pig ears, tossed in salt served with a chili, soy and vinegar dipping sauce –  priceless!

Try to really cook out the pig ears and speck in a dry pan until they crispin up, the oil from the speck will render out and start frying both the ears and the speck leaving you a texture crunchy texture that is fantastic.

If you like carbonara, you’ll like this.  Deep in mushroom flavour predominately from the dried porcini’s and the speck gives that lovely smokey bacon flavour, the two in combination are just a match made in heaven.

Pigs Ears, Speck & Mushroom Pasta

Serves 4

500gr Packet Penne

200gr Speck                          cut into tiny strips, 1cm thick

4 Pigs Ears                             boiled for 20 minutes then cut into strips

1 Onion                                 peeled & finely diced

½ Bunch Thyme

200gr Swiss Browns               finely sliced

200gr Button Mushrooms       finely sliced

200gr Shitake Mushrooms      finely sliced

150gr Dried Porcini                 processed to powder in spice grinder

100gr Butter

1 Cup Cream

1 Bunch Parsley                      finely chopped

Sea Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

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Method

  1. Place about 5 litres of water on the boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt into the water
  2. Add the pasta to the water and cook until aldente, with a little resistance when you bite into the pasta but with no crunch
  3. Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat up a large pan on high heat for 2 minutes(in my case a wok)
  4. Add the pig ears and speck and cook pan fry until ears are crispy and bacon starts to brown
  5. Add the onions and garlic and sauté through, stirring at all times until onions are clear and cooked
  6. Add the all the mushrooms including the dried porcini powder, butter, thyme and sauté through for about 2 minutes or until the mushrooms starts to soften and colour slightly
  7. Add the cream and turn the heat right down to low.  Stir the cream through an continue to cook for about 4-5 minutes, until he cream slightly thickens
  8. By this time the pasta should be cooked, strain then put the pasta in the pan
  9. Toss the pasta through the sauce
  10. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  11. Add the chopped parsley and toss through.

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse

5 litres

Mirepoix (vegetable usually used for stock)

1 Bunch Celery                                  roughly cut into 2cm cubes

3 Brown Onions                                  peeled & roughly cut into 2cm cubes

4 Carrots                                            peeled & roughly cut into 2cm cubes

2 Large Fennel Bulbs                            roughly chopped into 2cm cubes

2 Garlic Bulbs                                       halved, no need to peel

2 Fresh Bay Leaves

1 Tablespoon White Pepper

For the rest of the soup

¼ Cup Pernod

¼ Cup Brandy

¼ Cup Vermouth

1 litre White Wine

1kg Whole Snapper                          chopped into smaller pieces, bones & all

1kg Whole Barramundi                     chopped into smaller pieces, bones & all

2 Cups Tomato Paste

10 Tins of Tomato

5 Litres Fish Stock

1 Tblspn Fennel Seeds

1Tspn Saffron

1 Tblspn Star Anise

¼ cup Jasmine Rice

 

Method

  1. Heat up a large 20 litre pot on high heat.  If you do not have a pot large enough, halve this recipe
  2. Once the pot is hot, add the butter to melt and once melted, add the mirepoix
  3. Sauté the mirepoix until it is soft.  Control the heat so that it cooks with out colour
  4. Deglaze the pan with pernod, vermouth and brandy.  Burn/cook (take care at this point) the alcohol off and reduce by half.
  5. Add the wine and further reduce b half
  6. Add the chopped fish bones and stir through, continue to cook for at least 5 minutes
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook whilst stirring for about ten minutes
  8. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about ten minutes
  9. Add the fish stock, fennel seeds, saffron, star anise and rice

10. Simmer for about 2 hours, stirring every thirty minutes or so

11. Blitz with stick blender or a food processor to fine, thick soup consistency.  Include everything that is in the pot, this adds body and flavour

12. Strain through a fine chinois/strainer.  You will get some small fish bits into the soup, just keep the bones out though.

Usually we use a mouli to press the bones through the sieve to get extra flavour in the soup but you can afford to just push the soup through with a ladle to help get extra juice out of the stock and bones

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Note:

Mirepoix –      is the vegetable flavours that are put into stocks.  There are many variations to a mirepoix, depending on what stock you are making but generally, the basic ingredients are celery, onion and carrots.  Addition of other ingredients are possible such as fennel in this case.  Used either fresh, roasted or sautéed depending on the outcome intended of the stock whether it be brown, white, meat, poultry, fish etc.

Deglaze –       cooking technique used to remove caramelized residue off the surface of the pan to add flavour.  Adding liquid at high heats straight onto the cooking surface allows this to naturally occur and some times with the help of a wooden spatula to scrape the more stubborn residues. Usually, alcohol is the liquid used in this process.

Chinois –        a conical strainer used mainly in professional kitchens.  Comes in different grades of fine, medium and coarse.  Chinois is French which means Chinese, to describing the conical shaped hats the Chinese wear and the similarity in the shape of the strainer is where the correlation comes from

Mouli –           a hand operated food mill usually used for pureeing food such as mashed potatoes.  It works as a press that mills food through thousands of fine, tiny holes


Fish Stock

Fish Stock

10litres

Mirepoix (vegetable usually used for stock)

1 Bunch Celery                                  roughly cut into 2cm cubes

3 Brown Onions                                peeled & roughly cut into 2cm cubes

4 Carrots                                            peeled & roughly cut into 2cm cubes

2 Large Fennel Bulbs                                    roughly chopped into 2cm cubes

2 Garlic Bulbs                                                halved, no need to peel

2 Fresh Bay Leaves

1 Tablespoon White Pepper

 

For the Stock

200gr Butter

½ Cup Pernod

½ Cup Brandy

1 Litre White Wine

4Kg Fish Bones                                  chopped into smaller pieces

10 litres Water

1 bunch Parsley

2 Lemons                                           halved

Method

  1. Heat up a large 20 litre pot on high heat.  If you do not have a pot large enough, halve this recipe
  2. Once the pot is hot, add the butter to melt and once melted, add the mirepoix
  3. Sauté the mirepoix until it is soft.  Control the heat so that it cooks with out colour
  4. Deglaze the pan with pernod and brandy.  Burn/cook (take care at this point) the alcohol off and reduce by half.
  5. Add the wine and further reduce b half
  6. Add the chopped fish bones and stir through, continue to cook for at least 5 minutes
  7. Add the water and take to simmer and allow to simmer for 2 hours
  8. Skim the scum that floats to the top first for every five minutes then eventually as the stock becomes cleaner, every ten minutes or so
  9. Add the parsley and allow to simmer for a further ten minutes

10. Turn the heat off and add the lemons to the stock and allow to sit for about ten minutes

11. Strain through a fine chinois/strainer with a muslin cloth inside to further retain the finer residue out of the stock

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Note:

Mirepoix –      is the vegetable flavours that are put into stocks.  There are many variations to a mirepoix, depending on what stock you are making but generally, the basic ingredients are celery, onion and carrots.  Addition of other ingredients are possible such as fennel in this case.  Used either fresh, roasted or sautéed depending on the outcome intended of the stock whether it brown, white, meat, poultry, fish etc.

Deglaze –       cooking technique used to removed caramelized residue off the surface of the pan to add flavour.  Usually alcohol is used.

Chinois –        a conical strainer used mainly in professional kitchens.  Comes in different grades of fine, medium and coarse.


Cooking Lesson from Sri Lanka – How to make Roti Bread

Making “roti” bread is still definitely an art.  Like the ancient art of noodle pulling, roti’s have that sense professionalism about it, that sense of mastery.  We as chef’s learn our trade through years of practice and experience.  For all you young wannabe chefs out there, there are no short cuts what so ever, not even winning Master Chef will get you any where near some ones ability who has been cooking for many years, not in the commercial world!

When I was showed how to make roti from my friends in Sri Lanka, I was reminded of how much I still had to learn about cooking.  Cooking is a never ending lesson, you do keep on learning way beyond the years one will spend in this industry.  Even the great chefs are reminded sometimes that they too have a lot to learn.  I watched a video the other day with Gordon Ramsay being taught how to make noodles by hand, he failed miserably!  A great chef by all means but with still a lot to learn.  Which brought the focus on me, just shows I much I still have to learn!

If you want a challenge, try making roti!  And if there is any one out there who is willing to teach me how to make hand pulled noodles, I will be willing to be your dedicated student.

Chef Ravi teaching his young apprentice and also giving me a lesson

How To Make Roti

2Kg Plain Flour

125gr Butter

50gr Sugar

3 Eggs

50ml Milk

2 Litres Water

Salt to taste

Oil

  1. Place butter, eggs, sugar in a container
  2. Place the flour in the bowl and add water until doughy
  3. Add the milk
  4. Add the butter mixture
  5. Oil the surface of a a tray with oil and allow to rest with oil rubbed on top, then cover with cling film for at least 30 minutes
  6. Once rested break the dough into 100gr balls
  7. Oil a smooth work surface (in the picture it is an up turned metal tray) and flattened the ball of dough with the palm of your hand.  Use oil to make this easier and smoother
  8. Flatten out forming a circular surface about the size of dinner plate
  9. Place your left, palm facing up, fingers under the dough and thumb on top and the right hand with palm facing down, fingers on top and thumb under the dough
  10. In one swift movement, flip your right hand over your left and allowing the dough to slap on the oiled surface.  Continue to flip this dough until paper thin.
  11. Oil a hot flap top and grill until crispy, toasted and golden brown.
Follow the step by step slide show but please take note that this recipe is a quarter of the recipe the slide show is showing

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