Category Archives: Vegetarian Recipes

Grilled Corn with Roasted Garlic Aioli & Parmesan

It never ceases to amaze me that the simplest thing is often the most enjoyed by many people.  I guess I have had my head in the clouds for far too long, thinking that top end food is the key to success in this field but I am constantly reminded that people just want “good food”.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of cooking for Eat.Drink.Blog conference.  I nervously cooked for seventy odd bloggers.

When I was approached to cook for this event, I didn’t really think about the bloggers, I was more thinking about having fun with the food, cooking the food I enjoy cooking and more importantly, cooking the food I enjoy eating!  My mind raced away with so many ideas but in the end I was hooked on a South American fiesta.  I have never been to South America and it is a wish of mine to one day do a food safari there but I have tasted so many flavours from that part of the world.  I have been taught by people from these countries how to cook these things authentically and only stayed within the “flavour” realms I know and was comfortable in.  But I had a vision – fairy lights on the pool deck, an outdoor fiesta away from the stiffness of a restaurant, open to the elements, with shared platters of Latin American flavours, lamb on the spit, meat off the grills and the theatre of it all being done right in front your eyes!  I imagined the smells, the noise and all of it being played out in front of guests mingling and enjoying the atmosphere and I  was instantly excited at the idea of cooking this “fun” meal.  I thought about me, I thought about how much fun I was going to have, to be free to cook, until that night  when I had to actually cook!  I was so stressed out.  It dawned on me that I was cooking for people who “write” about food and have probably been to millions of these things and upon realising this, the pressure was on!

So many things went through my head, what if they don’t like it, what if I don’t say the right thing, what if I mucked it up and so on and so on!  I have cooked for presidents, princes, movie stars and rock stars and never have I been more nervous.  In my mind, it was like having seventy food reviewers about to review my restaurant but instead of waiting for that review in weeks time to be published, it would be written about and  published with every bite they take, horrible thought for a chef!  WORST NIGHTMARE!  But alas, the night was actually fun.  People enjoyed them selves and more importantly the food.  I met passionate foodies with so many stories to share and for an amateur blogger like me, I was keen to find out more about their expertise, I could only wish that perhaps next time I will be a guest at this function (that was a hint by the way).

This is the a recipe of the grilled corn served that night.  As mentioned, it is easy but very tasty.  I hope you enjoy it as much as the bloggers did!

Grilled Corn with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Parmesan

Serves 10

Grilled Corn

20 Corn on the Cob                   steamed for 15minutes husk on

For the Aioli

2 Whole Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

1 tbspn Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup White Vinegar

500ml Vegetable oil

¼ Cup Garlic Cloves                peeled

3 Limes                                       juiced

Sea Salt

White Pepper

To Finish

200gr Parmesan Cheese

1 Bunch Coriander                  finely chopped

6 Limes                                     cut into cheeks or wedges

Method

For the corn

  1. Once you have steamed the corn, pull the husks back and tie them back using raffia, clean off the corn “hairs”
  2. Grill on the char grill until evenly darkened, slightly black.  Try not to grill the husks and make sure the husks are always wet, so it doesn’t burn
  3. Once grilled, place on a platter ready for the aioli

For the Aioli

  1. Pre Heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius for the garlic
  2. Meanwhile, place the eggs, egg yolks, mustard and vinegar into a mixer and blend on high for about 30-45 seconds
  3. Slowly add or “stream” the oil into the mixer whilst it is still on high speed.  Add about 50ml then allow it to blend for another 30-45 seconds with out adding any more in
  4. Once the added oil is fully emulsified, add the rest by slowly “streaming” it in.  Adjust more or less oil depending on the thickness of the end product (some eggs are bigger, fresher etc which will change the amount of oil needed) then turn it off in readiness for the garlic
  5. Heat up an oven proof pan for 1 minute on high
  6. Add a little oil and brown the garlic evenly on all sides
  7. Place into the oven and roast until almost black
  8. Cool then puree in mortar and pestle
  9. Add the garlic to the mayonnaise then blend until evenly mixed through
  10. Finish by adding freshly squeezed limes and check seasoning
  11. Place the aioli in a squeezie bottle

To Finish

  1. Squeeze the aioli over the corn relatively high up to form thin a strip and zig zag all over the corn until well covered
  2. Micro-plane the parmesan into whispy thin shavings all over the corn until completely covered
  3. Sprinkle the chopped coriander on top of that
  4. Serve with lime cheeks or wedges
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Baked Sour Dough with Brie and Chive Butter, Green Tomato Chutney

Photo by Jun Pang

So, we have been through compound butters before.

If you can’t remember, a quick re-cap.  It is basically “flavoured” butter.  Simply put, you take softened butter, place it in a mixer and add flavourings such as nuts, herbs etc.  Depending on what you are going to use the butters for will depend on the ingredients you put into the butter for flavour.  For example, chopped herbs with lemon zest will go great with flavouring fish, a little bit of Jus (refined juices from a roast, most home cooks would call it “gravy”) and some type of fruit jelly with chopped herbs would go great with grilled beef and so on.

Most compound butters acts as a sauce in essence.  This type of compound butter is the flavouring agent and adds moisture to the bread.  The butter used for “garlic breads” is a type of compound butter.

I have added cheese to this butter for an extra element of flavour and goes well with aged sour dough bread.  If you exchange the cheese from brie to a blue cheese or a “stinky” wash rind cheese like a talegio, then you can perhaps use that in pastas.  Simply blanch pasta, a fusili perhaps, add to a heated pan with a little normal butter, add garlic and broccolini, toss the pasta through then finish with knobs of this “stinky” cheese  compound butter with lashings of herbs and you have a flavoursome and quick meal.

Make plenty of this butter as mentioned in prior blogs and freeze it in small batches and when ever you have limited time to make a meal, take a protein, add this on top and simply bake in the oven, grill or toss through a heated pan and there you go, a meal in seconds.

The chutney can also be used in many ways.  In this recipe, the acidity from the green tomatoes simply counter balances the richness of the compound butter, really smoothing out the palate.  The vincotto is also great for sweetness with a type of “prune” flavour  finish.

This dish does act as a great starter to a meal but it can also be a meal in its self.  Add some sliced parma ham, some dressed rocket and you have a complete and appetising light meal.

Photo by Jun Pang

Baked Sour Dough with Brie and Chive Butter, Green Tomato Chutney

Enough for 4 people

1 Sour Dough Loaf

For the green tomato chutney:

1kg Green Cherry  Tomatoes

300ml Cider Vinegar

400gr Brown Sugar

1 Brown Onion – diced

1 Cinnamon Stick

5 Star Anise

For the compound butter:

300gr Brie – softened

200gr Butter – softened

1 Bunch Chives – finely sliced

To Finish:

2 Punnets Baby Herbs

Vincotto

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Method

For the green tomato chutney:

  1. Place the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, onion, cinnamon stick and start anise in a pot.  Cook for about 3 hours on low heat, continually stirring until it breaks down and looks and states like a chutney.  May need to adjust sugar quantity depending on the tomatoes.

For the compound butter:

  1. Place the butter and brie in a mixer and mix using a paddle on low until it blends together.  It does not have to be super smooth, then add the chopped chives.
  2. Cut deep slits into the loaf on a slight angle but do not cut through.
  3. Butter the slits with the brie butter and cover with foil.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius in an oven or Webber for about 10 minutes.

To finish:

  1. Serve with tomato chutney on top and garnished with herbs.
  2. Drizzle the vincotto and EVOO for dipping.

Vincotto – is cooked grape must.  Simply put, it is the residue that is left from pressing grapes then that residue is cooked for a long period of time until it is slightly caramelised.  The end product is thick, dark (almost black) liquid, similar to reduced balsamic.  The flavour is much like prunes but it can also be infused with flavourings such as fig and orange on production.  Great to finish a dish such as duck with high level of sweetness but can also be treated much the same way as a vinaigrette, emulsified with EVOO, salt and pepper and used in many salads.


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


Vego Pasta with Broccolini & Goats Cheese

Pasta is one of those items you should always have in the pantry.  Instant pasta is so easy to cook and there are so many good quality “fresh” dried pastas in the market, you can really have a good choice between almost every type of pasta from your normal spaghetti right through to lasagne sheets.

There is another use for lasagne sheets other than in lasagne’s.  When I was a young apprentice, I remember how much it surprised me when I was shown another use for lasagne sheets.  The chef cooked a chef’s meal by simply heating a pan really hot, cooking lasagne sheets, ripping it into smaller strips and browning it in a pan until it’s slightly “crispy” then adding all the other ingredients through for flavour such as the shallots, garlic and chilli.  Simple dish, quick and using only the ingredients available in the kitchen.

Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult.  You make it as easy or hard as you want.  The recipes in this blog are a mixture between simple, right through to the adventurous.  This vegetarian recipe is definately on the more simple side of the scale.  In later blogs, I will go through making fresh pasta, a skill that is so useful to have for an aspiring home cook!

Photo by Jun Pang

Rag Pasta with Forrest Mushrooms, Broccolini, Peas, Almonds & Goats Curd

Serves 4

300gr Lasagne Pasta Sheets

100gr Butter

2 Shallots – Peeled and Sliced

4 Cloves garlic – Peeled and Minced

1 Large Red Chilli – Deseeded and finely sliced

60gr Dried Forrest Mushroom Mix – Reconstituted in boiling water, strained

100gr Button Mushrooms – Sliced 1mm thick

100gr Fresh(frozen) Peas

120gr Fresh Broad Beans – Blanched and peeled

2 Bunches of Broccolini

120gr Goats Curd

30gr Almonds – Roughly Chopped

100gr Pecorino Cheese

Extra Virgin olive Oil

Seas Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

Method

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil with about 2 table spoons of salt in it.  Once boiling, place the pasta sheets into the water.  Cook until al dente or with a little “firmness” when you bit into the pasta.
  2. In the meantime, heat up a large pan and add a little olive and all the butter on medium high heat.
  3. Add the chillies and shallots and cook until the shallots turn slightly clear.
  4. Add the garlic and stir through, cooking for a further minute.
  5. Add all the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes, continually stirring.
  6. Just before you strain the pasta, place the peas, broad beans and broccolini in the same pot as the pasta and cook for about 30 seconds.
  7. Strain the pasta, peas, broad beans and broccolini.  Slightly rip the pasta into smaller strips.
  8. Once drained, add the pasta and vegetables to the pan.  Toss the pasta through the mushroom mix.  At this point you may want to add cream if you want to be lavish!!  Once mixed through, turn off the heat and season with sea salt and black pepper.
  9. Using a fine grater or micro plane, grate the pecorino into the pasta.  Stir the cheese in.
  10. Divide the pasta into four equal serves and dollop goats curd on top with a sprinkling of chopped almonds.

Photo by Jun Pang


Vegetarian Green Curry

Photo by Jun Pang

Lets not forget about the vegos hey!!

it seems that there are more vegos out there in the world.  I don’t know why and hey, it’s not a bad way of eating, it’s just that the world doesn’t really accommodate for them as easily as we would expect.  I’m not a vego but I can sympathize for them though.  So many times I’ve been out at a restaurant and the choices for vegos are very limited.  I like to change that as much as I can in the restaurant, I mean why wouldn’t you do it, there’s so many fresh indgredients grown from the ground that it would be sacrilege not to use them.

If you’re not vego, turn this into a chicken Thai green curry by adding a little gupi or Thai shrimp paste into the curry paste.  Use chicken stock instead of water for that added flavour and season with fish sauce instead of salt.  With these flavours, you cannot get any closer to the original thing.

There is nothing like making curries, it is by far my favourite thing to cook.  The thing that gets me all the time is the balancing act in all the layers of flavours that are in the curry like salty, sweet  and hot.  This alone is a skill in its self.  The right amount of palm sugar versus the right amount of fish sauce and cut with enough lime for acidity.  It really was how I learnt to look for, balance and describe flavours I am tasting.

The paste can be frozen so you can make double the paste and you can freeze half for later use.  The green comes from the all the green ingredients like green chillies and coriander roots.  The oils will turn bright green when you saute the paste, this is a good indication that the paste is ready for the addition of the other ingredients.

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry with Coconut and Pandan Jasmine rice

Serves 4

For the Curry

4 Brown Onions – peeled and quartered

2 Bulbs of Garlic – peeled

60gr  Galangal –  outer husks removed

60gr Ginger –  outer husks removed

¼ Cup Green Scud Chillies – use large green chillies for alternative

1 bunch Coriander with roots – roots washed – leaves reserved

2 Bunches Lemon Grass – outer husks and tops removed

2 Tblspn Ground Coriander

4 Lime Leaves

4 Tins Coconut Milk – refrigerated overnight

60gr Palm Sugar

1 Lime

1 Eggplant – cut into 2cm cubes

1 small Packet Mung Bean Sprouts

1 Packet Oyster Mushrooms – ripped into smaller pieces

1 Bunch Bok Choy – quartered

1 Packet Fried Puffy Tofu – halved

1 Packet Golf ball Eggplant – halved

1 Packet Pea Eggplant – strip off the stalks

For the Rice

1 Cup of Jasmine Rice

1 Pandan Leaf

1 tin Coconut Milk

¼ Cup of Boiling Water

Method

For the Curry

  1. Heat up a large pot, enough about 8 litres or bigger on medium/high heat
  2. Make a curry paste using onions, garlic, galangal, ginger, green chillies, roots of the coriander and one bunch of lemon grass.  Either grind or use a food processor to make a smooth paste.
  3. Add oil to the pot and allow to heat up.
  4. Split the coconut milk by refrigerating it over night.  Place the thick coconut cream into the hot pot and reserve the thin milky residue
  5. Add the paste to the pot and sauté the paste.
  6. Cook the paste continually stirring so it does not stick on high heat.  The paste will start out pungent and light in colour, this will take about 15-20 minutes.
  7. When it turns “sweeter” in aroma and a little darker, stir through the coriander seeds then add 2 litres of water.
  8. Reduce the “stock” with the remaining lemon grass (slightly bashed to release the oils) and lime leaves.
  9. When reduced by half, add the coconut milk 9reserved from the tins) and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  10. Season with palm sugar, salt and fresh limes if needed.  Use fish sauce instead of salt if you want it non vegetarian
  11. Add all the different types of eggplant and cook for ten minutes
  12. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a further ten minutes

For the Rice

  1. Place the rice in medium sized pot with a lid
  2. Wash the rice with cold water and continue to wash until the water no longer turns white
  3. Tie the pandan leaf in a knot
  4. Place all ingredients into the pot and cook on low heat for 16 minutes with out lifting the lid.

Photo by Jun Pang

Gupi – Thai shrimp paste.  Very punget, fermented shrimps used in many Thai dishes.  This shrimp paste is a lot more potent in flavour and aroma than any other Asian fermented shrimp paste.  It is also a lot less solid and more soluble.

Fish Sauce – There are many type of fish sauce out there.  If you are going to make this non vegetarian, add fish sauce that is from Thailand, it is a little less salty and a lot rounder than others.  The best brand is Golden Boy Brand.


Pumpkin Soup

Photo by Jun Pang

Roast Pumpkin Soup in Bread Roll

Serves 6

1 Large Butternut Pumpkin                peeled, deseeded & roughly chopped

¼ Cup Vegetable oil

1 Large Brown Onion                         peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes

200gr Butter

3 liters Water

2 Cups Cream

1 Bunch Parsley                                  finely chopped

6 large Kaiser Rolls

Sea Salt

Fine White Pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius
  2. Toss the pumpkin in vegetable oil until well coated.  Sprinkle it with sea salt and pepper then place in roasting pan and roast until soft, about 20 minutes
  3. Heat up a large pot for about 2 minutes on medium heat then add butter and heat until completely melted
  4. Add the onions and cook through, stirring continuously until it’s translucent but with no colour
  5. Add the roasted pumpkin into the pot and stir through until well incorporated through
  6. Pour the water into the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it from catching
  7. Add the cream and off the heat using a stick blender, puree until smooth.  You can also use juice blender
  8. Season with sea salt and fine white pepper to taste
  9. Hollow out the Kaiser rolls and baked it in the oven for about 5 minutes until slightly crispy
  10. Pour the soup inside the hollowed out roll and garnish with chopped parsley.  You may also want to sprinkle a small amount of nutmeg on top.

Photo by Jun Pang


Making gnocchi is quite relaxing!

Potato Gnocchi with Blue Cheese, Olives and Tomatoes

Serve 4

800gr Sebago Potato

1 Whole Egg

300gr Plain Flour                              a little extra for dusting

100gr Butter

1 Cup of Kalamatta Olives                 Deseeded

5 Ripe Tomatoes                               Deseeded and flesh cut into 2cm cubes

200gr Soft Blue Cheese

1 Cup Fresh Peas                              Blanched and refreshed

1 Cup Cream

1 Bunch Chervil                                Leave Picked

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Method

  1. Pre heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius and boil about 3 litres of water with about 3 table spoons of salt in it
  2. Place potatoes whole with skin on to roast, cook until soft.
  3. Once cooked, take skin off and grate through a microplane or grater to create a mash.
  4. Make a well in the potato mash and work the eggs in by folding the mix in half mixture at a time until well incorporated
  5. Dust the potato mix with flour and work in by kneading the mix
  6. Take out a ball of potato mix at a time and roll into 2cm thick logs then using a palette knife cut the log at every 3cm intervals to make the gnocchi pillows
  7. Blanch the gnocchi in the boiling, salted water until they float then place on an oiled tray.
  8. In separate pan, heat some butter until it starts to froth on medium heat.
  9. Add the gnocchi to brown slightly evenly on all sides
  10. Add cream and bring to boil then cheese and cook until it melts through.  Evenly coat the gnocchi
  11. Season and serve on a plate.
  12. Garnish with peas,  tomatoes, olives and chervil

I love blue cheese and coupled with potato gnocchi, it’s absolutely unbeatable!!  It may be hard to make gnocchi for the first time but trust me, once you know the “feel” of how it should be, you’ll be making gnocchi every week end!!