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Smoked Salmon, Parmesan Filo Wafers

Photo by Joanna Sellick

Photo by Joanna Sellick

Not many words to say here really!

In Adelaide, summer is in full flight and eating gets a little harder!

No one wants “difficult” especially when it’s hot out, people just want “easy” and this recipe is simple, tasty and appetising on a hot Australian summer day.

The use of the filo here is add texture and flavour of parmesan wafers, slightly cramelised and crispy with a slight salty flavour.  The honey counter balances the salt nicely and the cucumber cleans the palate so you can experience the next mouthful cleanly.

This filo wafer can also be used on cheese boards, just add an extra layer or two.  If you change the filo to puff pastry, cut it in long strips and twist it for bread sticks and eat it it with Parma ham and rock melon for a nice summer snack.

Smoked Salmon, Parmesan Filo, Cucumber & Cress Salad, Yoghurt Dressing

Serves 6

720gr Smoked Salmon

15 Sheets of Filo Pastry

150gr Melted Butter

150gr Parmesan Cheese

1tspn Aniseed – toasted on dry pan, slightly ground

1tsp Fennel Seeds – toasted on dry pan, slightly ground

1tsp Cumin Seed – toasted on dry pan, slightly ground

250ml Greek Yoghurt

100ml Creme Fraiche

1tbsp Honey

250gr Watercress – washed, long stems picked off

1 Cucumber

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Method

For the filo wafers

  1. Turn the oven on at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. On a clean bench, spread out the one layer of filo pastry
  3. Brush the pastry completely with melted butter using a pastry brush
  4. Micro plane the parmesan cheese until a thin layer completely covers the surface of the filo
  5. Place another layer of filo on top of this, comepltely covering the first layer
  6. Repeat this process on the new layer of filo
  7. On the top of the third layer, brush with melted butter until completely covered, then sprinkle a little of each of the aniseed, fennel seed and cumin seed, evenly
  8. Place on a buttered roasting pan and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  It should come out in sheets, break it into smaller wafers ready for service

For the Dressing

  1. Place the yogurt, creme fraiche and honey in a bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula
  2. Taste for balance and see if needs extra honey.  Should be honey sweet, no sweeter!

For the Cucumber

  1. Cut the ends off the cucumber the cut it in half so you end up with two even lengths
  2. Using a mandolin, slice the cucumber lengthways until you hit the seeds, then stop slicing (do not slice into the seeds, it juices out to much and does not hold it’s shape)
  3. Stack the cucumber neatly, one on top of each other as they come out of the mandolin
  4. Finely slice the cucumber across the length, ending up with match stick like batons of cucumber

Plate up

  1. You are going to layer the ingredients starting with a layer of filo wafer on the bottom
  2. Followed by a layer of slightly folded salmon (for height)
  3. Then some water cress
  4. Then a dollop of dressing
  5. Then another layer of filo wafer
  6. Another layer of salmon
  7. Then dressing and finally, the cucumber match sticks for garnish
  8. EVOO around the plate

Buttermilk Chicken, Polenta Crumbed Okra with House Made Tartare Sauce

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

I have talked about “Dude Food” several times, I just have a huge fascination with it.  To me, it’s about comfort.  I love cooking and eating food that’s tasty, easy to eat and easy to recognize.

More and more people are looking for food that is “easy”.  I feel that these days, no one seems to have the patience or time for “uppity” type food in stiff restaurants.  People are looking for a place that’s comfortable, light, fun and accessible to most people.  Atmosphere plays a huge role, served by people who are knowledgeable but approachable, relaxed and easy going.  The food has got to be easy but packed full of flavour.  People have got to know it because they don’t have the patience of a long winded explanation of what they’re about to eat, they just need to be enticed quickly by recognizing it quickly on the menu or by orders being walked to tables by waiters.  Fancy food is out people, mark my words and it is also why I believe food trucks in Australia much like the food trucks in America will do so well, why you say, well for many different reasons.  The trucks are so accessible to many people, they’re cheap, fresh and they produce really tasty meals and these days, what else does one need?

There are many recipes here, from the spice mix, the okra, the chicken and tartare sauce.  Try them separately in other dishes, for example, try the spice mix with fish or baked potatoes or even on rice, paella style.  With the buttermilk chicken, try it with thin strips of beef or even fish using the same methods, it works out really well.

Buttermilk Chicken, Polenta Crumbed Okra with House Made Tartare Sauce

Serves 8

For the Cajun Mix

¼ Cup Salt

2 Tbspn Ceyenne Pepper

2 Tbspn paprika

1 Tbspn Onion Powder

1 tbspn Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbspn Freshly Ground White Pepper

1 Tbspn Garlic Powder

2 Tsp Dried Basil

1 Tsp Chilli Powder

¼ Tspn Dried Thyme

¼ Tspn Ground Mustard

1/8 Tspn Ground Cloves

For the Buttermilk Chicken

1kg chicken Wings

500ml Buttermilk

250gr Plain Flour

2litres Vegetable Oil

 

For the Okra

1kg Okra

200gr Plain Flour

6 Eggs

200mls Milk

200gr Plain Flour

200gr Polenta

2 litres Vegetable Oil – for frying

For the Tartare Sauce

2 Eggs

1Tspn Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup White Vinegar

600ml Vegetable Oil

1 Lemon – juiced

1tblsp Worcestershire Sauce

100gr Cornichuns – finely chopped

80gr Capers – finely chopped

I Brown Onion – roasted in skins until soft then peeled, finely chopped

5 Cloves garlic – roasted in alfoil until slightly brown and soft, finely chopped

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

Method:

For the Cajun Mix

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly

For the Buttermilk Chicken

  1. Mix 2/3 of the Cajun spice mix together with the buttermilk
  2. Place the chicken wings into the buttermilk mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes, over night is better
  3. Once marinated, strain excess buttermilk and dust with flour
  4. Heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius using a thermometer
  5. Deep fry the wings until golden brown and cooked through, test by cutting one open
  6. Once cooked, toss in a bowl seasoning with remaining Cajun mix

For the Okra

  1. Whisk the egg and milk to together
  2. Create a crumbing station by placing the egg and milk in one bowl – whisked together, flour in another then polenta in a another bowl.
  3. First, place the okra in the flour, roll around until well covered, dust excess
  4. Then place flour dusted okra into the egg and milk mixture, making sure it is well covered, shake off excess
  5. Finally, roll the okra in the polenta until well covered
  6. Using a thermometer, heat up the oil to 180 degrees Celsius in a large, deep sided pot
  7. Fry the okra until golden brown, strain using a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen paper to absorb excess oil

For the Tartare

  1. Place the eggs, mustard and vinegar in a food processor and turn on high for one minute
  2. Add about ¼ cup of the vegetable oil in the food processor and process on high for about 30 seconds until it is emulsified into the egg mixture
  3. Slowly “stream” the rest of the oil into the egg mixture until all the oil is emulsified into the egg
  4. It should now form a thick mayonnaise, if not add extra oil.  Thickness will depend on size of eggs etc
  5. Add the lemon juice and Worcestishire until completely mixed
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients whilst still on high
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang


Chili Con Carne Mac and Cheese

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my dreams is to one day own a mac and cheese food truck!

You can just about make any flavour and then toss it through macaroni and bake it.  Imagine all the things you like, then mix it in with macaroni.  For example, I love chili and chili con carne, mix it in with macaroni, put cheese on top and and bake it in the oven and you have chili mac and cheese.  You can also have it cold like a salad like they do in the Philippines.  There they have a salad with macaroni, its usually with pineapple, ham, palm seeds, cheddar cheese and coconut dressed with mayonnaise or sour cream, sounds weird but bloody tasty stuff.

Flavours are endless really, vego’s can have Napolitana sauce and cheese or use three types of cheeses and mix it with some mustard and a little cream and bake it with some nice cheddar on top.  My favourite flavour that I’ve come up with is roasted, crispy pork belly all chopped up and tossed in a dry pan to crispen up a little more, finish it some strips smokey roasted capsicums (peppers for non Aussies), roasted red onions and chipotle sauce, toss through macaroni and bake in the oven with some stinky cheese like an Epoisses or Taleggio.  Decadence with all the good things in one plate!  Served with crushed avocado on top and sour cream and boy, you’ve got a dish no one will turn their backs on.

Try this out for starters and see what the fuss is all about.  I am using the chili recipe from the a previous blog to make things a little easier or if you make that chili recipe and wonder what you can do with any left overs.

If you cook up a braise dish like osso bucco or lamb shank or even a curry, try cutting the meaty bits down a little more and toss it through macaroni, add cheese that closely fits its flavour profile on top and bake it and who knows, maybe you can come up with your original mac and cheese!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8

 

700gr Raw Macaroni

100gr Salt

500gr Alexandrina Cheddar Cheese – grated

1 Recipe of Chili Con Carne Recipe – previous articles

 

Method

For the Macaroni

  1. Place ten litres of water to boil with the salt
  2. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook until al dente.  This is when you bite into a pasta, it has some resistance to the teeth but no crunch
  3. Staring in a colander and run cold water through, set aside until needed

 

To Finish:

  1. Pre Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Using a large pot, place the chili con carne sauce and heat up until simmering
  3. Add the blanched pasta and stir through for about 5 minutes
  4. Place into a baking dish
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top until “all” the surface area is covered, this will inhibit the pasta from getting dry
  6. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven or until the cheese is golden brown
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang


Chili Con Carne, Tortilla, Salsa, Guacamole

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my favourite things to eat is chili!

I have grown up eating chili since I can remember.  As a kid, I remember eating our meals around a huge table which my grandmother would cook for.  I had aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters around that table, including my grandmother, who would share a chair with me.  As I ate, I remember the many condiments that accompanied every meal.  These included things like, finely chopped garlic and crushed white pepper in cane vinegar, fish sauce and chopped chili and garlic in a mixture of soy and cane vinegar all in little separate dishes for every one to share.  Amongst that were little, bright, shiny red chilies left whole.  These were for the “game” people, the slightly more chili crazy members of the family.  They would take one of these deadly, birdseye chillies and place it on the side of their plates.  They would break off a tiny bit of this deadly hot chili and add to their next mouthful of food.  I always cringed at the pain they put themselves through as they breathed in through their tightly gritted teeth then puckering their lips as they suck in air to cool their lips.  It was a slightly amusing ritual, mouthful of food followed by chili followed by their attempts to cool their lips and then a sip of ice cold water then back to the start.  They would do this over and over again with sweat beading off their foreheads and as soon as the last mouthful of food is consumed, they rush off away from the table and walk around to try and cool down.

I began eating chili by eating slightly tamer chillies than the deadly birdseye chili.  I slowly climbed up the “chili” scale, attempting the hotter chillies as time went on and my palate got used to flavour and the heat.  Now, I can eat chili just like the aunts and aunties I once watched in amazement as a child.  I love chillies in just about everything like pastas.  Some red sauces in pastas just need that heat especially in alioli sauces.  Curries must have chillies, and some refreshing tropical Asian salads must have chillies in them like a Thai Larb or Vietnamese salad with Nuoc Nam dressing.

In the Philippines, chili is a huge part of our cuisine but more as a condiment.  Mixed generally in soy and cane vinegar along with chopped garlic.  In dishes like sinigang, chillies are sometimes added half way through their cooking to impart flavours and once cooked the chillies suck in the flavours of the broth and become plump and flavoursome themselves.  The chillies are then fished out and added to fish sauce where the chillies are crushed and then used as a condiment for sinigang.  Usually we would add a few to stat with because it is a prized surprise for most Filipinos!

I love this recipe because you can control the amount of heat.  I love to use as many different chillies as I possibly can, the hotter the better.  The secret here is to make sure you saute the vegetables off well to get the natural sugars to come out.  Secondly, seal the meat “hard” on a really hot pan and thirdly, cook the chili for as long as you can, adding water to the pot if it gets too dry.  The longer you cook it the better.  And no secrets here when I say it, but make it two or three days in advance.  The longer you allow it to sit, the better the flavours get, allowing it time to develope just like you do with curries, casseroles and other braised dishes.

Enjoy this recipe and in following recipes, I will show you how to use the chili in other ways!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Chili Con Carne, Tortilla, Salsa, Guacamole

Serves 8

For the Con Carne

2kg Lean Beef Mince

100ml Vegetable Oil

2 Brown Onions – finely diced

1 bulb Garlic – finely chopped

5 Large Red Chillies – finely sliced

3 tblsp Ground Cumin

4 tblsp Chili Flakes

2 tblsp Chili Powder

1 tblsp Smoked Paprika

2x140gr Tomato Puree

2x800gr Tin Chopped Tomatoes

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

For the Salsa

4 Large Ripe Tomatoes – diced 1cm cubes

½ Red Onion – peeled & diced ½ cm cubed

1 Bunch Coriander – finely chopped

2 tblsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

Guacamole

4 Avocados – peeled, slightly mashed with a fork

½ Red Onion – peeled & diced ½ cm cubed

1 Lemon – juiced

1 tsp Tabasco Sauce

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

 

For the Tortilla

16 Tortilla Wrappers

1 Cup Grated Cheddar

½ Iceberg Lettuce – finely sliced

1 Cup Sour Cream

Method

For the Con Carne

  1. Heat up a large pot on high heat for one minute, then add a third of the vegetable oil
  2. Place half the minced meat into the pot, seal and lightly brown the meat, set aside.  Repeat with the remaining meat
  3. Heat the pot once again on high for thrity seconds and add the remaining vegetable oil
  4. Add the onions and sauté, continuously stirring for one minute then add garlic and sauté for another minute
  5. Add the chopped fresh red chillies and sauté for another minute
  6. Add the cumin and stir through then chilli flakes, chili powder and smoked paprika and stir through
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook whilst stirring for another minute, cook out the puree
  8. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil then once at simmer, add the sealed meat and stir through
  9. Cook for one hour on really low, making sure to stir it every 5 minutes or so

10. Season to taste

For the Salsa

  1. Place tomatoes, red onions and coriander in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  2. Add EVOO and season to taste

 

Guacamole

  1. Place the avocados, lemon juice and red onion a bowl and mix through
  2. Season to taste then add the Tabasco sauce

For the Tortilla

  1. Toast the tortilla on a dry pan.  If you are doing large batches, toast then place it on plate then cover it with a towel moistened with warm towel
  2. Place con carne on the tortilla, cheese, salsa, lettuce and sour cream

Make cooking easy but tasty.  Use this recipe and I’ll show you what you can do with the let overs in the coming editions.

Photo by Jn Pang

Photo by Jn Pang


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.


Crispy Spatchcock with Pineapple & Capsicum in Shaoxing

Photo By Jun Pang

When I was a kid, I used to eat a lot of Filipino food.  I found that they used to fry a lot of food like pork belly, fish and chicken until it was really crispy, so crispy that you can eat the entire thing, bones and all.

There is nothing like eating crispy fried fish heads and fish bones, seasoned nicely with a little salt and a dipping sauce made with crushed garlic, chilli and cane vinegar and eaten with hot, gluggy steamed jasmine rice.  Top that off with some chopped, ripe tomatoes, red onions and fresh coriander dressed with a little lime juice and fish sauce and boy, I’m in heaven.

In the Philippines we have a dish called lechon kawali.  Simply put, it’s pork belly that has been boiled in aromatic stock then deep fried for a long time until its slightly browned and really really crispy.  Served with a similar cane vinegar dressing and gluggy steamed jasmine rice and the same tomato salsa but this time add a little crumbled, hard boiled Chinese salted egg and again, I bet no one would complain about this meal (except, of course, if you can’t pork for what ever unfortunate reason)

This chicken dish has similar flavours.  I love using spatchcocks for this dish.  The bones are not so dense and when fried, you can really get everything so crispy that you can eat the bones as well as everything else.  Flattening out the bird also helps because one, you don’t have to use so much oil and secondly you can the get the bones crispy.  Don’t be afraid to try new things.  You can eat bones, get it so crispy and you can eat the entire thing, it truly is a flavour sensation.

The capsicum braise is fantastic with this dish because you do need a  little moisture and the sweet and sour tones to capsicum braise is fantastic.  Similar to the Filipino dishes I mentioned prior, it really cleans up the palate, allowing you to enjoy or in my case devour the entire dish with absolute ease and yes, this capsicum braise does go with the pork and fish dish mentioned before hand.

Then all you need is the San Miguel beer and life would be bliss!

Photo by Jun Pang

Crispy  Spatchcock with Pineapple & Capsicum in Shoaxing

Serve 4

4 Spatchcock

1 Bunch Spring Onions

1 Thumb of Ginger

1 Cup Light Soy

½ Cup Dark Soy

¼ Cup Chinese Black Vinegar

10gr Liquorice Stick – form Asian grocer

2 Cinnamon Quills

5 Star Anise

2 Tspn Chinese Five Spice

2 Sea Salt

1 Litre Vegetable Oil – for frying

 

For the Pineapple & Capsicum

¼ Cup Vegetable Oil

1 Red Onion – peeled & finely sliced

6 Cloves Garlic – crushed and finely chopped

1 Red Capsicum – deseeded & sliced 2mm thick

1 Green Capsicum – deseeded & sliced 2mm thick

1 Yellow Capsicum– deseeded & sliced 2mm thick

2 Large Carrots – peeled & sliced into 2mm thick, 4cm long batons

I Bunch Spring Onions – cut whites into 2cm long stems & greens into fine long strips iin ice water until it curls

¾ Cup Shaoxing – Chinese cooking wine

1 Cup Light Soy

¼ Cup Rice Vinegar

½ Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cinamon Stick

3 Star Anise

1 Acid Free Pineapple – cored, peeled & cut into 1mm thick, 4cm long wedges

1 Bunch Coriander – leaves picked

Method

For the Crispy Chicken

  1. Using scissors, cut the spine out of the spatchcock allowing you to “open” the chicken out and flat.  Do this by cutting on both sides of the chicken’s spine using scissors.  Start from the tail end and work your way toward the head
  2. For the Marinade, pound the ginger and spring onion in a mortar and pestle until it forms a paste
  3. Add the light soy, dark soy, black vinegar, Liquorice, cinnamon and star anise to the paste and stir through
  4. Marinate the chicken in the soy mixture for at least one day, but 2 days is best, making sure the chicken is fully sub merged in the liquid
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot to 180 degrees Celsius using a thermometer
  6. Drain the chicken and pat dry.  If you have a fan, place the chicken on a wire rack with the fan on right on it to dry it right out for about 2 hours but patting it dry with a paper towel really well would be ok
  7. Shallow fry the chickens in the hot oil for about 8 minutes on each side at 180 degrees Celsius or until evenly browned and crispy on both sides
  8. Strain and allow to drain on paper towels
  9. Make a seasoning with salt and five spice and sprinkle it on the chicken whilst it’s still hot.

For the Pineapple & Capsicum

  1. Heat up a large pot on high heat for one minute then add the oil
  2. Sauté the onions stirring at all times, try not to colour it
  3. Add the garlic and sauté with out colour, stirring at all times
  4. Still at high heat, add the all the capsicums, carrots and spring onion stems and sauté for about 4 minutes on high heat, still with no colour
  5. Add the shaoxing, soy, rice vinegar, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks and reduce the liquid by half on high heat, stirring at all times
  6. Finish with pineapple wedges and turn heat off, check seasoning
  7. Place the capsicum on the plate, followed by the crispy chicken then garnished with spring onion curls and picked coriander

Photo by Jun Pang