Saturday, December 12, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The festive season only means one thing for the hospitality industry: rampage.

It's based on the 'cause and effect' theory; people want to celebrate, and we are here to accommodate! How we manage to feed over 2500+ people a week in a table-clothed restaurant is beyond me; but we manage to keep a relatively high level of quality, because the turnover of food is so fast that everything is fresh! - It's because no matter how much food we seem to order, it never seems quite enough to feed you lot! I laugh when I see the 30 boxes of vegetables, 15 boxes of meat and ducks, 6 body-length Styrofoam boxes of fish that come in - then try to fit it all in a coolroom barely the size of my bathroom!

I'll tweet a photo of it soon, but imagine playing a game of Tetris... and you are losing.

But at the end of the day, as long as you are happy with your food and your experience at the restaurant I work at; I don't mind the ridiculous roster and hours. Just as long as someone doesn't forget that I also need a good feed and lots of good booze this time of year.

Here's a pic of some pork belly I've been experimenting with during the season (trying to perfect my recipe):

Mmmm new improved crispier skin w/ seared Hokkaido scallops

Brined belly from a suckling pig, marinated with sechuan peppercorns and boiled, then coloured on the grill

Sunday, November 29, 2009

For Charity

The festive season in a successful commercial kitchen does not allow for basic human necessities like sleep and a half descent staff meal (hence very short-tempered chefs; who still have to feed the mass hoarde of hungry customers - 270 in 3 hours), making Mondays and Tuesdays seem like Fridays and the weekend to feel like about the 3rd or 4th layer of hell (bearable, but cannot be survived without screaming) I did however found some time to cook with love; giving out some soup at my local church to support a missionary.

Of course, as a proud chef, it can't be just any soup:

Roasted Garlic soup & almond soup w shredded white chicken, blood orange and herb salad

This dish is fairly simple, but very fiddly, having 3 parts: soup, chicken and salad.

8 whole garlic bulbs
1 white onion, finely diced
1L chicken stock
270mL thickened cream
1 ciabatta loaf
large handful of slithered almonds

Roast the garlic in a 200 degree oven for 30 mins, or until the cloves are soft enough to squeeze out the insides. Meanwhile, sweat the onion in some olive oil for a couple of minutes (don't forget: season!), then add the stock and the cream. Bring to the boil, reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Tear out the insides of the ciabatta and toss it in. When the garlic is ready, squeeze out the insides straight into the pot, add in the almonds, then blitz with a hand blender.

White shredded chicken:
2 chicken breast fillets
3 coriander root
2 large knobs ginger
3 shallots, white only
1L water

Bring water, coriander root, ginger, shallot whites and a handful of salt to the boil. Reduce to simmer and in with the chicken - 7 minutes; check if it cooked by making an incision in the fattest part of the breast, if yes, shock in ice water. The leftover liquid can be used to make awesome chicken soup.

Shred the chicken, making sure to tear it along the fibres, not tearing through them. You'll see what I mean when you start shredding. If you need a video demonstration let me know.

Blood orange, coriander, mint, salad:
Segment the blood oranges, pick and wash the coriander (lots of dirt in these things), pick the mint. Mix some of the orange juice with olive oil and whisk to dress the salad.

Serve the whole thing hot or cold. Good either way.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to work to feed the next wave of guests.

Monday, November 9, 2009

scallop boudin recipe

Scallop Boudin w/ pea puree; salmon roe

You may or may not have seen this on the menu at Manu Fiedel's L'etoile bistro in Paddington; but a French head chef taught me how to make this long before it appeared on any menu in Sydney!

I would like to share with you the recipe:

500g FRESH scallop meat (roe off)
300g cream
3 egg whites
handful of chives
salt to taste (read method)

Blend the scallops, then pulse in the 300g cream, egg whites and a teaspoon of salt- Be careful not to overblend it, creating bubbles! Bubbles = no good. At the same time, make sure all the ingredients are well combined (you'll end up with a white paste-like consistency).

Fold in the chives.

Put a small amount in the microwave for 10secs, to test whether there's enough salt in the mix, adjust salt in mix as necessary.

Wrap up about 5 tablespoons of mix in glad wrap;
then wrap that over with cling film, ending up with a christmas cracker looking thing.

Poach in simmering water for 15 mins.

Slowly remove the sexy thing out of it's shell, then serve with:

- Blue swimmer crab miso soup
- Cauliflower puree or soup, salmon roe, truffle oil
- pea puree
- (how Manu does it) a bisque or crustacean jus
- Parsley risotto, fried garlic/eschallots
- Let your imagination go wild

Hope you can use this simple but elegant dish for your next dinner party ;)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Exclusive Look

All the bosses weren't around so I snuck in a couple of happy snaps in the kitchen:

3 pots of milk/cream heating up to make anglaise; all at one time! Ultimate multitasking: Ice cream, cardamon anglaise and a creme patissierre

No wastage: every part of any ingredient can be used

Breakfast from a chef mate next door (adjacent restaurant): French toast and crepe with fresh fruit and berries; whipped cream and maple syrup - even the staff meal looks classy!

Our breakfast: Korean pancakes! as the Koreans say: mmm yeeaaamm

Hmm this mix is on it's last days...

But as long as no one is going to shit themselves it's ok... just don't give any to me to eat O.o

This is how clean I like to keep my section: if you don't like it that your food takes an extra minute to arrive because I'm wiping down and don't want to work in a dirty, chaotic warzone (and your food to be made in one) - go to macdonalds.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Schnitzel Mix Recipe

Lamb Backstrap w. crumbed lamb's brains; mash, ratatouille.

You can crumb and fry literally anything; chicken, beef, fish, brains, potatoes and even pancakes:

This time, I'll stick on the savoury side and give you my (Alsatian) restaurant version of a schnitzel mix; instead of the ol' flour and egg, mix:

100g flour
16g paprika
pinch of cumin
5g sea salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs
pinch of pepper
shot of cognac
3g tobasco
20g dijon mustard
16g milk

(don't be afraid to double the recipe if you think it's not enough)

Whisk all that together really well (especially watch out for powders that aren't mixed properly) - mixing it in an electric mixer is best if you can be bothered cleaning up after.

Coat your desired product in the mix, then into panco (Japanese) breadcrumbs and into the deep/shallow fryer. If you're not sure how hot the oil should be? if it sizzles when it enters the oil, it's good, if it's smoking, it's not.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Food Crawl!!

A couple of days off can only mean one thing: Food Crawl!! Load your wallet, wear elastic-wasited dress jeans, make sure the SLR memory card is empty and mates that have conversation that won't end in awkward silence after prolonged exposure (and can handle their wine).

Let's start with @ Manta Restaurant with mixed oysters; Clare De Lune, Bateman's Bay; Coffin Bay Pacifics; Sydney Rocks from forgotten location. Nothing beats a freshly shucked oyster... Except 3 different kinds of freshly shucked oysters.

House-made fries with black truffle, parmegianno regianno - ohh, the sexiness.

A whopping 1.5kg 5+ Wagyu rib eye on the bone w/ bone marrow and field mushrooms

Steamed blood orange pudding w/ lemon curd ice cream - needed something light after all that heaby meatness and truffleness.

Next, it's off the a fellow chef's house for more steak...

...with roasted veg, "Chef's Salad" (Beetroot, green beans, honey-glazed carrots) and of course cafe de paris!

Then for 2nd dinner, to the dark dens of El Bulli, Surry Hills: 6 tapas to share and Paella!

...And Churros with Dulce de Leche! Needed the Spanish chocolate and honey nougat ice cream from Subsolo; mmmmm...

Then it was time to get up for brunch at the Alliance Francaise Centre for some Parsley soup...

...And Cassoulet (if it had garlic breadcrumbs it would have been the best one I've ever tasted).

Finished it with Citron Muelle-Fuille

A stopover @ David Jones Foodhall oyster bar for more Sydney Rocks and Chandon NV Rose

Then head over to Lunch at:

To have some crumbed lamb brains with a corn fritter and fennel and broad bean salad

Blue Eye on Mussel broth, potato gnocchi and (more) broad beans

Duck confit with beetroot puree, baby spring onions, braised red cabbage

And now I am broke, but happy and full. Stomach can take more, but probably should have cut down on the wine consumption...


Care to join me next time? Up for the challenge? Let me know.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mi Paella

Are you ready...

Ah, Paella! Only the Spanish are able to have a dish so full of colour and expression!
Remember; just like stir fry, prepare everything before hand - especially because there are so many ingredients, you are bound to forget something! (In these photos I forgot the peas, and I ran out of saffron - sad face)

1 onion, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 kg calasparra rice (or Arborio if you're at woolies)
3 truss tomatoes, cut into chunks
handful of chicken tenderloin
handful of scallops
handful of prawns
baby squid
2 whole chorizos, cut into 1cm rounds
1/2 kg mussels
handful of frozen peas, or blanched green beans
kitchen spoonful of smoked paprika
3 pinch saffron
300mL chix stock
salt, jap chilli flakes, 1/2 bunch parsley (finely chopped)
*for a 24cm paella pan (serves 4) - alternatively, use 2 saute pans

First, using olive oil: sear the chicken, scallops and prawns - then keep aside in a mixing bowl. Don't forget to season the food!

Then, cover the base with more oil and start to sweat off the onions, garlic and chorizo (flavours the oil). Season with a pinch of salt.

Once the aromats start to caramelise, it's time to add in the rice; stir it around to coat it in the lovely flavoured oil.

Meanwhile mix the meats and seafood mixing bowl with the paprika;

Then add the tomatoes with the rice, letting it cook down just a little, then in with the stock.

Also, in with the meats and seafood (And all the paprika'd resting juices) spread evenly. The peas and saffron should go in now, too.

And also the Mussels - the juices these guys release? oohhh baby.

Let those mussels open up, and the liquid reduce down; have a taste once there's not much liquid left - rice still crunchy? add a bit more water. Smell burning? Turn it off!

Once all the liquid is nearly evapourated and the rice is al dente (not soggy), take it off the stove and wrap it in foil - letting it rest for at least 15 minutes!

Voila! Smell that! Hope you got that crusty (but not burnt) bottom! Top it off with chilli flakes and parsley flakes (Was too pov to pay for parsley this time)

Optional: serve with a side of scotch fillet.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Poor Man's Food #1

So I've made a few expensive purchases; we all splurge a little now an then.

The only problem is that on a chef's salary, it means making a few sacrifices. Like not having money for food on my days off!

Fortunately, I planned for this day and stocked on the bare essentials before running out of dosh:

Fried eggs with smoked paprika, soy sauce and pickled veg on rice

Pickled veg is the original poor man's food; used to preserve vegetables that's about to die - it keeps, and is so versatile with any rice dish: it is what the pickles is to the hamburger; it will add flavour to that simple dish that just needs that extra layer of flavour to stimulate your senses.

So, my pickled veg recipe:

2x Lebanese cucumber - halved, deseeded, cut into shards
1/2 carrot - peeled, cut into shards
1 knob ginger - thinly sliced
1 wom bok leaves - roughly chopped into shards
400mL jap rice vinegar
100g Sugar
pinch of salt

Salt the sharded cucumbers and leave to drain for 2 hours (to draw out the moisture). Meanwhile, heat the sugar and vinegar together until bubbles appear, then cool. Combine everything into a jar, and voila - ready for that next emergency!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Young and Reckless

A bunch of guys and girls are in for work experience, and they're hanging around the deep fryer.

These things hold up to 20 Litres of oil ranging from 160 to 220 degrees.

These 16 year olds are having a conversation on whether it's hot or not.

"there's no bubbles or smoke how can it be hot??"

"but it can cook stuff!"

"I'll show you it's not hot!"

*proceeds to dip his hand into the oil and back out*

"see? not hot!"





Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hosting a Paella Party

You bought that big paella pan. Now what? Have a party around it!

The number one lesson in cooking paella? Patience. Same with steak; searing and resting are the most important parts. Make sure you sear the meats to a nice caramel before taking them off, and returning them to the pan during the braising stage. Rest that Paella for at least FIFTEEN minutes; covered in foil to keep the heat in.

Cooking time (including resting) will end up to about 40 minutes! So what can your guests eat until then?

Salad of baby cos, radicchio, parmesean and free range bacon

How about sautee'ing a handful of king prawns with lots of garlic (about 8 cloves), smoked paprika (a tablespoon), chilli flakes (a pinch), flamed off with a shot of cognac and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice - you don't even need a picture to make you drool over that image!

Before you start your Paella, grill off some chorizo with some olive oil and finished with lemon juice - serve with tomato sauce; that and a loaf of bread is enough to stop worrying about your guests complaining about being hungry.

The secret to Paella Prep? Do it the night before! (especially if it's for lunch the next day) Cleaning and scoring that squid, chopping up the onions, capsicums, cleaning the mussels, splitting the beans, cutting chorizo - there's a crazy amount of chopping to do, and unless you're a pro - it'll take you forever! Do it up to 24 hours before, and you'll be cruising.

Speaking of day before, Sangria!

My sugar syrup recipe: 200ml water:200ml caster sugar, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick

Sangria: Cut up strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit and apples - top off with a bottle of wine, some tequila, brandy and rum to taste. Add spiced sugar syrup to taste as well - leave to soak overnight. To serve, balance with schwepps lemonade to desired alcoholic strength.

Stay tuned for an in-depth paella recipe!