Top Food Blogs

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

These springrolls are my favourite, I prefer them over deep fried springrolls and they are super easy to make and the fillings are totally up to you, the ones that I am going to do today are filled with prawns, avo, apple, celery, fresh coriander, fresh basil and them served with a sweet chilli, I have done ones with kudu carpaccio, roasted peppers and blue cheese also a winner, you can do them with cos lettuce, smoked salmon and horse radish spiked cream cheese with balsamic reduction and capers, you really can explore your creative side with these, so here is how to make them.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 minutes
Serves 2

1 ripe avocado cut julienne
2 sticks of celery cut julienne
1 red onion very finely sliced
1 apple cut julienne
Small handful of fresh coriander
Small handful of basil
A couple of cos lettuce leaves shredded
4 rice paper springroll sheets (Village Square Super Spar stocks them or other wise most Asian stores do as well, like rice bowl in P.E)
12 Prawns 26-30 is the best size to use, if not you can use shrimps. Pan fry them with a little butter, garlic, salt and pepper

This is soo simple, all you need to do is soak the rice paper in cold water for about 30 seconds, take it out and let it drip dry, arrange the ingredients onto the bottom 3rd of the rice paper, do not make them go all the way to the sides as you will need to fold the sides in over the ingredients and then roll everything up, its that easy, I have served them here with a little julienne vegetables on the plate, balsamic reduction and sweet chilli sauce.

I am very picky about the ingredients that I use so the sweet chilli sauce that I use it a real Thai one that I get from P.E it is the best sweet chilli I have ever come across, but you will only find it in specialty Asian stores, the brand is Madame Wong Sweet Chilli Sauce for Chicken, you can use your favourite brand, some tips with sweet chilli sauce is that you can personalize them to be unique, pour the sweet chilli into a food processor and put in a couple of peppadews and basil pesto and blitz it all together and you will have a beautiful sauce that all you friends will be asking where you got it, and if you like it a little spicier add some more chilli to it and blitz. Hey pesto, you can literally do this will any of the store bought sauces, change them a little, make them your own.

Bon Appetit.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Stocks ooh beautiful Stocks

Today's a day where i am making stocks, i have a wedding tomorrow night and i need stock to make Fondant potatoes and well as gravy, i also need chicken stock to make pie fillings for our halfway house so i am making chicken stock as well, so i am going to blog both, and as an added bonus i am busy steaming 6 rumps in our rational oven at 63degrees C i put them in the oven yesterday afternoon and will only take them out tomorrow morning so that is a full 36 hours in the oven, they are going to be absolutely amazing, it's based on sous vide, except i do not have a sous vide bath so i steam them in the oven. i rubbed them with a mixture of garlic, black pepper, salt, rosemary and then vacuum packed them.
for those of you who don't know what is really happening, i will explain, you see the different "doneness" of all meats and poultry is based on temperature, so now i am cooking these at a temperature that would give me Medium, so it doesn't matter how long you cook it for as long as the temperature doesn't go higher the meat cannot overcook, but i will have the added benefit of the collagens and connective tissue in the meat breaking down, therefore the meat will become extremely tender!!!!!!.

Now back to the stock making.......Basic Beef Stock
as any chef or cook will tell you the only thing that is going to make one chef's food that much more different to another is his stock, it is the foundation to soo many things in the kitchen from sauces to soups, stews and many more things, so if you have a really good tasting stock, your halfway to a good meal already. Despite popular belief stocks are not cheap to make, and they are time consuming.

2kg Carrots roughly chopped
10 medium Onions roughly chopped
2 bunches of Celery roughly chopped
2 Bunches of Leeks roughly chopped
10 fresh ripe tomatoes
big handfull fresh parsley
small handfull Thyme
small handfull Rosemary
3 star anise
3 heads of garlic cut in half
100g whole black pepper corns
500ml Ghee (clarified butter)
30kg meaty bones

 above is all the vegetables, without the tomatoes chopped up, everything has been washed but nothing has been peeled as this is where alot of the flavour lies.
 All the herbs are separate to the vegetables as you need to start by frying off the vegetables in ghee first, until you get a nice dark roasting colours on them.
 Whilst you are frying off the vegetables roast the meaty bones in the oven at 220 for about 30 minutes until the are nicely coloured
 Once all the meat is done and the vegetables are browned off add the meat the the vegetables along with all the herbs and tomatoes, the reason for not using the tomatoes in the beginning is that they have to much water and will cause the other vegetables to stew instead of frying.
 Now this is something that i have picked up in some of the books that i have been reading lately and that is the fact that when you are making a stock, you are looking at concentrating flavours, but as the stock cook, they let off steam and this in turn is valuable flavour, so i now cover my stock with a heavy duty clear refuse bag, to stop any steam from coming off it, and trust me, it most definitely works!!!
The stock shouldn't boil or simmer, i keep it at a temperature just where there would be bubbles forming on the bottom but it never boils. i will have it like this for a minimum of 24 hours,now the next step is to strain all the liquid off, press the meat to get any juice out that are in them, then place the liquid in the fridge and let it get cold so all the fat sets on the top of the stock, you can then scrape them off. That is basic beef stock, now from here i will melt it down again because it sets into a jelly in fridge, then when it has melted down i will strain it through a Chinios strainer and then again through a muslin cloth, this is to remove any impurities that may be in the stock, then it gets put into 1lt bags and frozen until needed.

Brown Chicken Stock
is very much the same as making beef stock except it doesn't  take as long to make and it doesn't have the tomatoes in it.

1kg Carrots roughly chopped
5 medium Onions roughly chopped
1 bunches of Celery roughly chopped
1 Bunches of Leeks roughly chopped
big handfull fresh parsley
small handfull Thyme
small handfull Oregano
1 head of garlic cut in half
25g whole white pepper corns
150ml Ghee (clarified butter)
2 whole chickens

Now the process is exactly the same as the beef stock, fry off the vegetables first and roast the chicken in the oven, once the vegetables have got nice colour to them add the whole chickens and the rest of the ingredients and cover with water and let it cook out for a minimum of 4 hours, strain it, then place the liquid in the fridge and let it get cold so all the fat sets on the top of the stock, you can then scrape them off. Now from here i will melt it down again because it sets into a jelly in fridge, then when it has melted down i will strain it through a Chinios strainer and then again through a muslin cloth, this is to remove any impurities that may be in the stock, then it gets put into 1lt bags and frozen until needed.

Happy cooking guys, hope this is informative

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cooking Truly is the most amazing art in the world, this is why.....

Hello to all readers, well it's been a couple of months since my last blog, so this one is basically about everything that has been happening since then, i have gone through a couple of culinary changes, i have gone through a couple of professional changes as well, most of you that have been reading my blog will know that i have been experiment with a little molecular gastronomy, and enjoy it thoroughly, well nothing has changed on that front except for the fact that i have put the experiment on the back burner for a little while for two reasons the first being my kitchen really needs more of my attention as i want to grow more professionally, and then i came to a realization that i went about it the wrong way, i guess that is the beauty of life.

So what i am doing now is starting from the basics that i needed to from the start i am currently ready a book titled ...On Food and Cooking, the science and lore of the kitchen by Harold Mc Gee for those of you who don't know who he is, he is one of the prominent figures in the molecular gastronomy movement he was inspired by a quote from Nicholas Kurti that is "I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus we do not know what goes on inside our soufflés." and after reading that he started his research into what happens in our food, and has inspired the likes of Heston Blumenthal and many other chefs, his work is not easy ready however as it is all about the "why's" on everything in cookery, but i can say it is a must read for any chef who wants to further the skills as when you start to understand the why in cookery you can start to figure out the how in what you are doing, it is the building blocks that any good chef should have behind them, i remember always saying that cooking isn't rocket science, well now i have realized that it isn't, it's more detailed than that!!

i have now ordered another book by Herve This (pronounced Thess) to back the book from Harold Mc Gee, i feel that after that as my backing and start to what i want to accomplish i should find the experimenting alot more fun and interesting, and will have the knowledge that i need to do it professionally.

Now what alot of people don't realize is that this is study the chemistry of food, the molecules in food and how the react to certain ingredients, etc etc it is really hectic, i have been trying to read Mr Mc Gee's book as fast as i can but realize very quickly that it is not a quick read as you need everything to makes since in your own mind before you can carry on to the next thing.

In my studies thus far i have come to realize 2 things, Milk and Eggs are the most amazing natural ingredients on this planet, like seriously mind blowing, the reason why i say only 2 things i have only covered 2 chapters in this book and they are on Milk and Dairy products and eggs!!!! Mind blowing when you know How and Why!!!!!!

Any way as i keep ready my books i will keep my blog updated, if you would like some recipes i do a recipe of the week in the online so go to that site and you will still get some good recipes of mine.

Bon appetit  

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!!!!!!!!!!!