Top Food Blogs

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fresh garden snails......hmmm very interesting study

Hello everyone,
It's been a while since my last blog and this one is very different as well, those who know me know how passionate I am about everything food related! This new little adventure has taken me down the path of fresh snails, little do people know that most of the snail if not all the snails you eat in restaurants and buy in tins are just plain brown garden snails.

I have been researching it a little.and found that in south Africa our garden snails are amoung the best flavoured snails to eat. So I have managed to get together 50 snails and I am busy getting them ready to eat, its a bit of a mission but I am sure that it is going to be worth the time spent.

(they really seem to enjoy their "shower" they all come out and are really alive after it)

So now it starts off with "washing" them which involves cleaning them out of any poisonous leaves or pesticides that they may have eaten, so usually they starve them for 10 days, but I have chosen to feed them a diet of fresh organic rocket and organic fennel, I take them out of their habitat every morning and wash them lightly with water, funny thing that because it gets their stomachs working, then I put them back into their habitat with food, I will continue this for 4 days, after day one the poo has already changed from black to dark green, then after the flushing of the system I will starve them for 2 days by only washing them in the mornings.

(this is them in their habitat for the last time, tomorrow i will start with starving them for a day or two)

After that I will make a mixture of salt, cider vinegar and flour, this will kill them, then they will be boiled for a couple of minutes and them taken out of their shells, there is a little black area on the end of their tail which needs to be taken off if it has developed, other wise leave it, this is usually the "pancreas", you can eat it but in the case of larger snake it doesn't taste great. At this point they are good to eat, I will then try a coupe of recipes with them, I will be sure to of that too, just remember whenever you order snails you can do at at home or free

Friday, November 4, 2011

A little photo blog of all the things i have created recently

Hello i am not blogging a recipe today, i am just going to post a couple of pictures of works lately

This was my recipe of the day this last week in the St Francis Village News, it's cheese and herb crusted hake with sauteed potatoes and cherry tomatoes and sweet 'n crunchy veg

This is Smoked Salmon on potato rosti with creme fraisch and balsamic reduction

This is plating starter for a wedding of 120 people

This is one of the most original wedding cakes that i have done thus far, it's an amazing drunken pecorino, dolce latte gorgonzola, french brie and camembert

Classic eggs benedict

Rustic coal roasted peach salad with Mediterranean vegetable pasta

Light dessert of strawberry and short bread stack

a fairy cake that i done for a little girls birthday, talking about birthdays it is my eldest daughters on the 13th November and i will be making 2 fairy cakes, i will blog those.... until next time...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Classic Eggs Benedict

Hello to all the avid readers and those of you that are ready for the first time

Today i decided i will do a wonderful little breakfast that i think is still one of the best classic breakfast of all time, and you have to try it at least once in your life, once you have i am quite convinced that you will try it again and again and again, there is just something about the marriage of poached eggs and hollandaise sauce that is so wonderful.

so here we go first for the hollandaise sauce
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending of how spicy you like it)
salt (to taste)
1 TBSP White wine vinegar reduction (read below recipe is there)
(if you do not want the hassle of doing the white wine vinegar reduction the you can use the same amount maybe a little more lemon juice)
240g Butter
1 TBSP warm water

White wine vinegar reduction you will need 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar and 1/2 a medium onion finely diced,

 place into a small saucepan and reduce until there is only 1 TBSP of Liquid left, strain and retain the reduction for the hollandaise, the onions you can toss.

Now take the butter and clarify it in a small saucepan this is done by simmering it on a medium heat until you get a froth on top, you need to skim it off, and you will see sediment stick to the bottom don't stir it up leave it there, now you will notice that the butter has gone translucent, this means it is clarified, leave it to cool slightly, i would say if it burns your cuticle as you put your finger in it, it is still to hot, you should be able to hold your finger in it your around 3 seconds before it burns the cuticle. that is the right temperature.

Now put the egg yolks, water, cayenne pepper, salt and vinegar reduction into a bowl that you can place on a pot of simmering water

now you can start to whisk it together, you will notice that it starts to lighten in colour and will first go runny and then start to thicken, please be very careful not to over heat the eggs as they will split and you will get a bowl of sour scrambled eggs.

once it starts to thicken you will need to slowly drizzle in the clarified butter, very slowly whilst whisking all the time it will then start to emulsify everything together, carry in until all the butter is incorporated into the mix.

Okay if you have been intimidated to make it by now i do understand i have seen chefs of mine that have been making it scratch for 3 years now still split it on the odd occasions so just don't give up, it is not the easiest sauce to make.

But now for the rest
1 big slice of Gypsy Ham
1 Egg
1 English Muffin
spring of parsley
1 TBSP spirit vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cherry tomato
1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil
Easy from now on out.....
take the vinegar and pot into a small pot of water that is just before the boiling point, you need to keep it there, now stir the water to create a whirl pool in the middle

Now drop the egg into the middle of the whirl pool and leave it

It takes around 4-6 minutes for soft egg. depending on how hot your water is.

Now cut the English muffin in half and put ham on the one half, don't skimp on the ham.

Now put the other half of the muffin on top of the ham, it is better to keep the crumb on top, as this will stop the egg from falling off.

Now this is where all the magic happens, spoon the hollandaise over the top of the egg and let it run over everything, then garnish it with a spring of parsley, and sprinkle the paprika, quarter the tomato and place neatly around the plate and drizzle with olive oil.

Hmmmmmm yummy yummy - now there are so many different things that you can do with this, at St Francis Links we do a Egg St Francis with in place of the ham has some garlic, lemon & herb sauteed mushrooms, pickled jalapenos, smoked back bacon and grilled cheddar cheese, and then topped with the poached egg and hollandaise sauce. We call it Eggs St Francis if you ever pop in and would like to give it a try....

Until Next Time happy cooking

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Gruyere at Home

Hello all, here is something that i have been working on and it has taken some failures in the making and that is to make Gruyere, i think i have finally cracked it so i am going to share the entire process with you from beginning to almost the end, that would be the eating but we will not no that for another couple of months.

so here we go.......

First and most importantly when making any cheese and especially aged cheeses is hygiene, i wash all my utensils with hot soapy water and then i boil them for around 20 minutes in a pot on the stove, things that are to big to put into a pot, i place in my oven and steam them for 30 minutes.

Cheese making is all about bacterium so you only want the correct ones to grow not the "bad" ones.

So now that everything is sterile we can start (everything includes the pots used to make the cheese).

I am using 2 x 20lt pots in this recipe and this should yield around a 4,5kg Gruyere at the end depending on the milk.

40lt of pasteurized milk (if you use fresh you must use it within one hour of milking and it is best to pasteurize then your self buy getting it to 63 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.
1 tsp - Thermophilic culture - i use CHR Hansen ST-M5 DVS
1/8 tsp Propioni Bacterium
1.5 tsp calcium chloride
2 tsp liquid rennet (i use animal rennet)
(here are some guidelines if you want to make a smaller batch, thermophilic culture you use 1/3 tsp per 10 lt's of milk, rennet you use 4 drops per liter of milk and Propioni is a tip of a tsp per 10 liters of milk and calcium chloride is 3/4 tsp per 20 liters of milk)

i used 2 pots and a tilting pan filled with water (most of you will not have a tilting pan so make a bain marie using another pot.
you now have to bring the milk up to 32 degrees, i find that this usually takes me around an hour, as you don't want to go over that temp because you'll have to bring it back down again and that takes even longer, so i slowly heat the water in the bain marie, in my experience thus far, the milk in the pots is usually around 4 degrees colder than the water in the bain maire.

So now once the milk is up to 32 degrees i sprinkle the thermophilic culture on top of the milk along with the bacterium and leave it for 5 minutes to rehydrate, then using a sterile ladle i slowly pull the cultures into the milk but trying not to break the surface of the milk.
 Leave it to "ripen the milk" this is where the culture turns the lactose into lactic acid, this then in turn helps the rennet create the curd, so leave it to ripen for 10 minutes at this point you will add it the calcium chloride which you must dilute with 50ml of water, this just helps obtain a "stronger" curd if the milk is of "poor quality. You must mix it in the same way as the cultures by pulling it in.

Now add in the rennet also dilute it with 50 ml of cool water first and do exactly the same as with the calcium.

Now you need to keep it covered and do not disturb it for about 40 minutes - 1 hour until you can get a clean break, this is when you insert your finger and pull it up the curd breaks cleanly off your finger.

If you have not achieved a clean break, leave it for another 10 minutes.
Once you have got a clean break you then need to cut the curd, i cut the curd using a wire whisk, the curd needs to be evenly cut up into "rice" sized granules. once you have cut the curds leave them to settle for 5 minutes.

Then this is the hardest part of all, you now need to bring up the heat of the curds to 46 degrees but this has to take our hour to do and you have to stir constantly and softly for the entire hour.

This is where it can go wrong, you have to let the curd temperature increase by 1 degree every 5 minutes, and then the last 10 minutes they must increase 2 degree's.  Trust me when i say that if it isn't done like this it will go wrong in every way possible. i thought that it couldn't be that important and ended up waisting an entire batch.

You can see in this picture i have a large stick blender that just keeps the water rotating so that i don't get hot spots, also under the pots i have large slotted trays so that the pots aren't directly on top of a hot surface.

After the curds have reached 46 degrees, let them settle for 5 minutes, in the mean time place a colander over the mould that you are going to use and line it with a cheese cloth
Once the curds have settled pour them into the colander, the whey will warm up the mould, the actual mould i am using to press my cheese with is an old bucket that i have made holes in and sterilized it, it is onside the yellow bucket.

Once the curds are strained you can put them into the mould with the cheese cloth and press them either in a cheese press or with some weights above it. This is a homemade cheese press and it works wonders, really easy to make wouldn't cost you more than R200

Now you need to prepare a brine solution of 18% this basically means you need to dissolve 18grams of salt into 100ml of water, i used 10 lts of water and 1,8kg of salt, you have to boil the water first and stir in the salt whilst it is boiling.

then take the Gruyere and float it in the brine for 12 hours turning it at 6 hours.

Then place it on a cheese mat to drip dry for around 2-3 days at room temperature, then place it in a fridge that is sitting between 10-15 degrees to age the cheese, now you need to wipe the cheese with a sterile cloth dipped into the brine every 2 days for 1 month, and turning the cheese each time, after a month you can change to washing it once a week, after 2 months you can stop, then just rub the cheese with a cloth once a week to help form a rind, and turn the cheese once a week, age for a minimum of 6 months, better if you can do it for 12 months.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Roast Pork Belly

Today i am going to blog one of my favorite dishes that is roast pork belly stuffed with apple and celery, this is the ones i done for this evenings R65 two course monday easy dinner at the links, so it's nothing over the top just "GOOD FOOD MADE GOOD"

......for the stuffed belly
1 Pork Belly (ask your butcher to take the bone our, but tell him you would like it as this makes really good spare ribs)
4 granny smith apples
1 bunch of celery (leaves removed)
2 TBSP caraway seeds
2 TBSP crushed garlic
coarse sea salt
black pepper

....for the roasting pan
1 TBSP Juniper berries
2 bay leaves
2 onions
4 carrots
1 cup dry white wine
1 bunch celery
1lt water
oil for frying
1 TBSP sugar

Peel and cut the apples into thin cubes, slice the celery thinly, mix together with all the other ingredients for the pork belly.
Score the skin of the pork belly and rub with salt and extra caraway seeds. Then turn it over and lay the stuffing down the middle of the belly and roll it up tighly.

Best of all is, i didn't even tie the belly, but these were some really good quality pork belly's i see by the stamp on them that they are imports from Germany, we don't get such big & wide pork belly's locally though so you might have to tie it with some butchers twine.

To get the roasting tray ready, cut all the vegetables into big chunks - you don't need to peel anything.
put the stove on and get the roasting tray smoking hot then add the vegetables and then the oil and stir quickly - if you add the vegetables first there is less chance of the oil splashing up and burning you, when the vegetables start to blacken slightly add in the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes, now add in the rest of the ingredients including the wine and water and take it off the heat, put the rolled pork belly ontop of the vegetables and place in the oven at 200 for 2 hours, then put the oven up to 230 for another half hour.

Make sure that the pan doesn't run dry, you always want the same amount of liquid in it that you start with. so top it up, then you can take the liquid with all the vegetables in it and blitz it either with a stick blender or a food processor and then pass it through a sieve and you have a beautiful gravy, if it is to thin add a slice or two of brown bread and blitz again.

and that's it bon appetite.

I served it with roasted potatoes and country vegetables with butter and fresh oregano

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Limoncello & Duck ham

I know that the title sounds strange, and i think the 2 together would be, but the blog is about making home made limoncello and about making duck ham, a continuation of my last blog.

Firstly lets do limoncello, for those of you who don't know what it is, it is a lemon liqueur made by the Italian's it is used as a digestive to be drunk ice-cold after a meal, it has the beautiful flavour of the lemon but not the bitterness or sourness, this is achieved by extracting the lemon flavours from the zest and not the inside of the lemon.

12 large organic lemons (this one is kind of important as non-organic lemons tend to have wax added to the rind as well as chemicals which are not good. so if you cannot get organic lemons then take your lemons and wash them in cool water with a fine scourer and scrub the lemons, be sure not to take off the rind as this is where the flavour lies)
1,5lt Vodka - i used Smirnoff triple distilled (good vodka, good drink)
800g White sugar
700ml water

You need to peel the zest off the lemons, but you really only want as much of the yellow rind as possible and not to much of the white pith as this can give you drink a slightly bitter feel on the month. then cut this zest into as fine as possible strips, pour all the vodka over them and place in a glass container tightly covered for 3 days, stir it once a day if possible.

Then add the water and sugar to a small pot and bring it to a boil while stirring, do this until all the sugar has dissolved, then let this cool down to room temperature and add it into the vodka with lemon, mix in and let it stand for another day, then strain it through a muslin cloth and pour into bottles and place in the freezer, after about 5-7hours they will be ready to drink, it is as good as it will ever be at this point, so don't think that if you leave it longer to "soak" the flavour will get better, i promise it is at it's prime.


Now the duck ham......

i have made my spice rub and i have rub my duck breast and placed them in the fridge for 3 days, they now look like this......

Now they have to be washed off under some cold water and patted dry until completely dry.

Then they are wrapped with cloth and hung up to "ripen" for 20 days in a cool dark place, i put them into my dry store at work because it is dark and my walk in fridge's door is in the dry store so it is the coolest place in the kitchen.

After 20 days it will have the same appearance as Biltong.

When these are ready, my Camembert will be ready, and my fig preserve......sounds like an awesome sandwich to me!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese......

Believe it or not, but not only have i been studying and practicing "molecular Gastronomy", but i have gotten involved in making some really awesome "artisan" stuff as well, this picture above is my current cheese collection that i started about 4 months ago.

Wow has this been fun, i have made Pecorino, Drunken Pecorino, Camembert, Grande Brie, Parmesan, Provolone, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Haloumi, Feta, Cream cheese, Tomme de Lullin and gorgonzola's thus far, and next week monday i am getting cultures to make real cheddar, Gruyere, Emmenthal, Raclette and many many more.

So now on this blog, i am going to feature something that i am working on for my December menu here at the Golf Club and that is a totally in-house made Gourmet sandwich with the following: Camembert, Duck Ham, Green Fig preserve on a pickled onion & peppadew bread with farm style butter.

This means that the Fig preserve will be made in house (i have a massive green fig tree, that is starting to fruit now after the long winter) the duck ham i started yesterday, will post a picture lower down, the bread is made in-house with no additives or preservatives and good stone ground flour, the Camembert i am making already, just getting my timing right now for it to be mature, and the butter is real unsalted farm butter that comes in a ball and smells almost cheesy, this is made by a dairy just down the road, have made my own butter cost is too expensive, and this stuff is the real deal, much better than the conglomerates stuff, and then lastly some good quality organic rocket from an amazing little organic farm down the road.

So first the Camembert, this is not the hardest of cheeses to make, i actually think it is one of the easiest in my own opinion. it starts off with milk (pasteurized is ok to use, as long as it is not more than 24hrs old), a mesophilic type cheese culture, bacterium candidum, and liquid rennet, i am not going to post the entire recipe if you would like it, comment on the page and i will give you my email address and i can give it to you like that.

(Also if anybody is looking where to get cheese cultures contact me and i will put you in contact with the right people who deliver any where in the country!!! and it is real cheap!!!!!)

Here is a picture of one of my Camemberts, this one is now 16 days old and can be eaten from about 21 - 28 days.

The duck ham is soo super easy to make as well, i have made a small batch before to try it out and it worked wonders so i made a big batch yesterday, the basics of the ingredients are duck breast, preferably fresh, i used maldon sea salt, but Sel Gris would be better or even a pure non-iodize sea salt, organic coriander seeds, organic thyme and black pepper, it is best to use organic stuff as it does not have harmful chemicals in it that may cause bad bacterial growth on the ham, and fresh garlic (not the bought crushed stuff PLEASE)

this is what the duck ham looks like whilst in the cold room
it sits in the spice mixture for 3 days, which ends up being a pool of liquid, then it is rinsed off with water and patted dry, then wrapped in muslin and hung in a cool, dark place for around 20 days, hey presto that easy.

Anybody who has made preserves knows how easy that is, for my green figs, i will macerate them with fructose for a couple of hours, then add sugar, water and the macerated fruits to a pot and cook slightly, then into sterilized jars, leave for a couple of weeks and ready to use, it is that easy, if you don't macerate the fruit it is normally equal parts fruit and sugar to make good preserves.

And then lastly the bread, to me it is of utmost importance that people stop using flour that is bleached, it is bad for you, the stone ground flours are only a rand or two more but the health benefits are exceptional.
Bread is a really easy thing to make, we always make our dough the day before and then leave it in the fridge over night and then in the morning shape it and leave it to proof again and then bake it. Basics in bread making are 1 pkt instant yeast per 800g flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 TBSP olive oil and around 450ml water. this will yield a nice big bread. we change our bread on a daily basis and make things like sun-dried tomato and herb, olive & feta and so on and so forth the combinations only end were your imagination ends.

So anybody who is interested in either cheese-making, or baking bread or making duck hams, feel free to contact me through my blog and i will drop you any information that you may require.

I will be posting in the next week again, i have an amazing cream cheese recipe to make your own cream cheese and then a cheesecake from your cream cheese!!!!!!! awesome stuff

Happy cooking,
 This is my Gorgonzola - at 3 weeks
 My Drunken pecorino at 4 months
 Gouda at 2 weeks - will get waxed in 3 days time
Tomme de Lullin at 3 weeks