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Friday, August 3, 2012

Pancetta, Parma Ham and Bacon

A little something that i have been playing with this winter is cured meats, very interesting thing this, i have played around with some bacon, I made my own smoked streaky bacon, absolutely wonderful, totally totally different to any store bought stuff that you find. I have now got curing some savoury bacon, maple bacon, parma ham and my second batch of pancetta, I have had my first batch an almost failure and have researched it a little more and found out where I went wrong so no it is off to making the parma and a second batch of pancetta that is going to be much more successful. All of this is in aid of being able to offer as much food on our menu's that is produced in house without artificial curing agents and extra added preservatives and all the other stuff that your body 1) doesn't want 2)doesn't need 3) wasn't designed to use. Salt curing of meats and the use of nitrites in curing meats has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, it just seems that of late "my generation" is losing touch with all of these wonderful and amazing crafts like making cheese, eating organic vegetables straight out of the garden eating meat that doesn't have growth hormones and antibiotics injected into them on a regular basis.

I put this all down to people becoming more driven by money and the lust for it that globalization has reigned supreme, i know for a fact that my grand parents used to grow all of these things and produced all of these things on there own, and this was not the way that they only lived my gran father still had a job on the gold mines, but it was the norm back then to have your own chickens, a big vegetable patch, some pigs and sheep. Now all we want it live is convenience and ease of living hence nice big houses with small gardens. So it gives me great pleasure in being able to do something that is now classed as Artisan, i love making sour dough breads, my own sour dough culture i have been using for 4 months now and is thriving, I enjoy making my own sausages so much so i do not buy any in anymore, it is too easy to make and a heck of a lot cheaper. I really enjoy making my own cheeses and have now found a way to make REAL ricotta instead of throwing the whey away, so it costs me nothing to make just a little time, and then i have the advantage of using this ricotta in making some pasta dishes, which I also make my own pasta as well.

I can see by December offering a Ploughmans platter with Homemade sour Dough Bread, Homemade pork and beef sausages, homemade pickles and preserves, pancetta, parma ham and homemade cheese, and all of this in an upmarket restaurant setting. I couldn't think of anything better to be doing other than something that has been forgotten over the years, it is the same when it comes to my cooking, i love to recreate old restaurant classic - again because these things are being forgotten.

Now i know i have gone a little off the beaten track here in this blog as the main aim was to talk about the productions of hams. So let me get back to the point........

The basics of making any hams and cured meats the most important thing is hygiene and sterilization of everything used in the production process, then secondly is good salt that is free of any additives, and then thirdly is good quality pigs!!

Now this last one is the hardest one to find, i am battling tremendously to find naturally reared pigs that have only been feed on raw vegetables and natural proteins and not fed on pellets and old restaurant scraps, i have been battling so much so with this that i have now decided to rear my own little porkers to make hams and bacon and so forth with. I have a supplier and friend who i get all my organic produce from and he would love to rear them for me, the area he has for them is probably around 30m x 5m and is it totally free range, with some citrus trees on on of the boundary fences (that means lots of lovely windfall fruit for the piggies) and then it has a beautiful roofed area that we will concrete for them to sleep in, now i know that are might not sound big but it is if you consider that i only want to rear 3 pigs at a time. they will be fed on all the off cuts of the organic produce, i also have alot of vegetables peels that i keep for a worm farm at the moment that i can fed them, and also the left over whey from my cheese making to give them as protein, so it seems if all goes according to plan that i will be growing some really good A-grade pork soon.

Ok now to get back onto track again, so if you have these essentials you're more than half way to making good ham, the last thing that you need is a storage area that is around 15c and about 80% humidity, this is a lot easier than you think, I have used a double door standing fridge that has been set to 15c, and i have a  couple of buckets of water in there to create good humidity, you can buy a simple humidifier that can be set.

Now you have everything you need and you want to make ham, lets start with the most famous of them all the Parma ham, who you can only call Parma Ham if it comes from certain parts of Italy and has been through all the strict checks, so for ease i am going to call it prosciutto, which is the same thing.

You will need 1 Pork back leg whole with the trotter still attached
2kg additive free salt
500g black pepper
500g pork lard (you can buy some pork back fat from the butcher cut it up small and cook it gently for a couple of hours to render out all the fat) now if you are rearing your own pigs, this would be something to use instead of just throwing it away.

Firstly you need to cut out the aitch bone, so that the only bone that is visible is the ball joint of the hip, any exposed bones poses a higher risk of spoilage, now you must liberally salt the leg, and especially concerntrate on the exposed meat section of it, them place this into a non reactive container cover with cling film and place 10kg weight on it, you need to leave it in the refridgerator or 1 day per 500g weight, i started with a 8,2kg leg so i left it in for 17 days, you will need to check it every day and if there is any liquid at the bottom of the container you will need to pour that out, dry the container and re-salt the meat.

Once you have done this process so can wash off all the salt and pat the meat dry with some kitchen paper, once it is dry pack the exposed meat part with lard and then black pepper, the black pepper stops bugs and insects from sitting on it exposing it to bacteria.

Now comes the fun part of all of this, you need to hang this for about 12-24 months at 15c at 80% humidity.
it will lose about half its original weight when it is ready. then slice super thin and enjoy!!!!!!!!!

here is a quick little interesting thing that i am sure more people dont know about,
Proper Bacon the way it is meant to be made takes around 8-10 days to cure, commercially produced bacon from the time of starting the curing to being sliced and packed ready for resale is about 3 hours!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

last chance to book

Hey everybody,

This is just a last reminder to book for my winter warmer special 3 course meal with a cooking demo and a gluhwein for only R150 and kids will be accommodated with a movie, meal and shake/hot chocolate for R35.
Bookings close 9:00am on Friday morning.

Everything is produced in house, all meat is hung for a minimum of 21 days by myself, sausages are made and smoked by myself. it is a offer you cannot miss, so make sure you are a part of it!!!!!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Easy Monday Dinner at the Links tonight

Crispy Pork Belly with Stir-Fried Vegetables.

Tonight is our easy Monday dinner consisting of a choice of mains and a dessert for only R68 (for the youngsters older than 65) and R78 for family and friends younger than 65.

Today is Delicious Crispy Pork Belly with Vegetable stir-fry and a Sweet Potato and Carrot Rosti and Pan Jus, or Madagascar Pepper Steak Pot Pie with creamy Garlic & Thyme mashed potatoes and a onion gravy.
and then as the saying goes the proof is in the pudding, there is a decadent chocolate brownie with vanilla scented cream for dessert.

for a reservation please call 042 200 4500.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Tonight is curry night at The Links, i will preparing 4 delicious curries ranging in heat from aromatic to hot!!!!
The Hot Curry for tonight is a Chicken Madras Curry, this is a basic Pakistani curry from the northern region of Baltistan in Kashmir, it is quite heavily spiced but just as aromatic to help cope with the heat.

Next up is an aromatic Cape Malay style fish curry, this has the traditional fruitiness of the Malay curries but slightly more spicier than normal, really good fish curry!!! one of my favourites.

Diwali Vegetable Curry is the 3 mildest curry tonight and this one comes from my Sous Chef Angie, she introduced this one onto the curry menus a couple months back and it has been a hit every time, it is a nice mix of aromatics along with a little spice and complimented with coconut milk a must have!!!!

Then the mildest curry tonight is a Sri Lankan Lamb curry, strong Lamb flavours to this curry, this is a very "curry" flavoured curry, most people in South Africa will comment and say it tastes like a "Durban" curry, i hail from Durban and i love Durban curries so it goes without any saying that this is on top of the list for me when it comes to good curries.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Beautiful Venison & Sausages

Today's blog is a little different it is about my venison that i have been hanging now for 15 days.

I was fortunate enough to get 3 beautiful bucks from a friend and i decided that would make a wonderful winter special, so i have hung them in a cold room, the springbucks are still happily hanging there, the funny thing about hanging meat is how much we have lost doing it!! i have been researching it and some 100 years ago, it was the norm to hang meat anything from 3 weeks to 3 months, and during this time that the meat is hanging, there are little enzymes at work breaking down the connective tissue and collagen, these are the 2 protein structures that give meat its toughness, after around 1 to 3 hours of being killed rigors mortis sets in and then the muscles of the animal contract and stiffen, after 12-24 hours of being dead the enzymes that break it down start to work and the longer they are left the more is broken down. Furthermore if it was a healthy animal there are no microbes/pathogens in the animal to cause it to go rancid, therefore the only place on the animal that would start showing signs of spoilage are those that have been exposed to air, i.e the surface of the meat, and in my studies of this matter I have realized that all you need to do is trim away these rancid pieces of surface rot, as it will not affect the meat internally. i have notice that there is some mould developing on the surface of the meat but i have wipe it a solution made up of sodium nitrate and salt which is used in the curing of meat and hams as it inhibits the growth of unwanted microbes/pathogens.

This is the venison 15 days ago when i got it.

venison 15 days later

close up of a blesbok shoulder

I have also learnt in my 1 year of cheese making now that certain surface moulds are beneficial and are not of a concern (if you know which ones) however i am not willing to take to make risks when it comes to this hence the nitrate wash. over the past 2 weeks there has been a serious change in the colour of the meat as it loses moisture and the meat becomes more intensified, it is amazing to watch, it has gone from a dark red colour in the beginning to a deep dark purple now.

I have still not tasted any of it yet except for the blesbok that i cut up to make sausage from which is really really tasty i have made a spicy smoked sausage from them, if you would like to taste be sure not to miss our winter warmer special at the end of this month the 29th June 2012.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Hungry Chef: My New Little Winter Warmer Special

The Hungry Chef: My New Little Winter Warmer Special: Please come and join us at the links for this amazing winter venison special, all families are welcome with kids been entertained with a mo...

My New Little Winter Warmer Special

Please come and join us at the links for this amazing winter venison special, all families are welcome with kids
been entertained with a movie, meal and a milkshake or hot chocolate for only R35, there will be someone to look after them as well, while the parents enjoy a live cooking demo and a 3 course menu (and a glass of gluhwein on the house),  please be sure to book to avoid disappointment. hope to see everyone there!!!!

Pictured here is the springbuck and blesbok busy hanging in preparation for the evening of the 29th, they will hang like this for 14 days, wrapped with clingfilm in our coldroom at 4˚c, this allows the meat to soften and develop a much better flavour, then i will start the butchering process and make the sausage as well!!!!

Cannot wait to get started!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Venison, got to love winter...

Got some springbucks and blesbok in today, got shot yesterday.... Hanging it for a week or two and then going to make something special, keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming specials at The Links kitchen.

Roasted Butternut and Gorgonzola Risotto...........mmmmmmmm

This really is one of my favourite risotto's to eat, it is pretty simple to make, does take a little time but them again, what in life that is really decadent and mouth watering doesn't. What i like about this recipe is that it becomes really easy for home cooks to make as it doesn't have any stock in it, i know that some people are going to say but the basis of risotto is stock, but not this one, this one is a little unique, but i am not going to spill the beans yet on why i will rather let you read the recipe through until you get you Eureka moment.

Serves 4
2 Large Butternuts, peeled, seeded and cubed
4 sprigs of thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBSP butter
50g Grated Parmesan
240g Gorgonzola (if you buy the fairview cheese buy the Blue Tower not the Blue Rock, the Blue Tower is the creamy gorgonzola styled blue cheese)
2 cups Risotto Rice (i like to use Arborio)
1 medium onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely sliced
olive oil for cooking
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
40g Panchetta (optional)
1 cup good chardonnay or good dry white wine
pumpkin seed oil (optional)

First start off by dividing the butternut into 2, one part you are going to boil in some lightly salted water until soft, then puree it, the other half you are going to roast in the oven with the thyme, salt, pepper and drizzled with olive oil, roast for around 25 min at 200˚c, until slightly crispy on the out side and soft on the inside.

Now you can start with the risotto itself, firstly fry off the onion in olive oil until translucent, add the garlic and Arborio rice and carry one frying, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until the rice is evenly coated with the olive oil, now add in the white wine and let this simmer until it is almost all been absorbed by the rice.
now add in 1/2 cup of hot water and stir until absorbed, you need to repeat this process until you can see the white of the rice is only a tiny little line through the middle, then you need to add in the puree'd butternut, seasoning, butter and Parmesan cheese, stir rapidly until all the cheese has melted (the reason for using Parmesan and Gorgonzola in this recipe, is that the Parmesan holds the risotto together because it is sticky when it melts) Now you can add in 200g of the Gorgonzola and the roasted butternut, stir in, check for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Take out now while there is still a little slit of white in the rice, this will be served "Al Dente" once on the plate/bowl you can garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, Gorgonzola, panchetta and pumpkin oil like the picture above or you can take some butter and on a medium heat fry some sage leaves until the butter starts to turn golden, and drizzle this over the top of the risotto...yummmmmmy my favourite.

Now for those of you who didn't get the hey presto moment from above, the reason for not using stock in this risotto is because i have used a butternut puree to give it the full flavour that i want it to have, and then the roasted butternut adds in a different dimension into the overall mouth feel and flavour.

Bon Apetit.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Hungry Chef: Authentic French Baguette

The Hungry Chef: Authentic French Baguette: This is one of the most beautiful breads in the world, and also on of the most misconceived breads to make, it is not a simple little task ...

Authentic French Baguette

This is one of the most beautiful breads in the world, and also on of the most misconceived breads to make, it is not a simple little task of mixing together flour, yeast, salt and water, leaving it to proof and then baking it, it has a lot more to it than that, firstly you have to make a poolish, which is short is a preferment of yeast, salt and flour that needs to sit for 12-18 hours, once you have made the poolish, then the work starts, so here we go, this is my interpretation of an authentic FRENCH BAGUETTE.

Ingredients for polish:
250g Stone Ground White Bread Flour
10g Fresh Yeast
200ml Tepid water

Mix the yeast with the water and leave for 10 to 20 minutes until it is all foamy on the top, then mix this into the flour until combined place in a bowl that is quite high as this is going to rise very high over the next couple of hours, sprinkle a little flour on top of this and cover with a very damp tea towel and leave in a draft free place for 12 to 18 hours, it will have a slight sour beer aroma to it when it is fully prefermented.

Ingredients for Baguette:
750g Stone Ground White Bread Flour
25g Fresh Yeast
400ml Tepid water
1 ½ TBSP good quality salt (I use Oryx Desert Salt as it has no additives at all)

Place the flour and salt on to a work table and make a well in the middle, mix together the yeast and water and leave to sponge as before, then pour the yeasty water into the well.

Now mix the flour in with your fingers going around and touching the sides to bring the flour into the middle. When you have brought in most of the flour and the mixture starts to get pastey, then you can scrape in the rest of the flour.

Now gently work this for about 1 minute and then add in the poolish.
Now you need to knead this for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, it is a very “sloopy” dough so don’t be tempted to add more flour, the more you work it the less “sticky” it will become.

Once you are finish kneading the dough you need to place it in a larger bowl that has been oiled so that it doesn’t stick, sprinkle a little flour on the top and cover with a tea towel, and leave in a draft free place for about 1 hour to proof.

Once it has proofed for an hour you now need to fold the dough, you do this be gently removing it from the bowl, lightly stretching it and folding it in 3.

Then place it back into the bowl and leave for another 45 minutes, then you will repeat the process and leave it for 30 minutes.

After leaving it for 30 minutes, you will now cut the dough into 6 equal pieces,

Then leave it to rest for another 10 minutes. Now you can start to shape the dough into the shape of the baguette and place onto a oiled baking tray and, sprinkle with flour cover with a warm damp tea towel for 35 minutes until double in size

Then make a couple of slits on the top of the breads with a very sharp knife, be careful not to “knock out” any air

Place in a pre-heated oven at 200˚c with a bowl of steaming water in it and back like this for 15 minutes, then take out the water drop the heat to 180˚c and bake for a further 15 minutes. It will be ready when you knock it on the bottom and the bread sounds hollow.

And there you go, what may seem as a simple little bread has just transformed into something so magical and special, the smell, texture and mouth feel like you’ve never had before.

Bon Apetit.

Chefs Tips: I make these without using measuring equipment, and it time you need to learn the feel of the dough as some flours absorb water differently to others.
Also always sprinkle just a little flour on top of the dough every time you are going to cover it with a tea towel so that it doesn’t stick to the tea towel.
Preheat your over 20˚ more than any recipe tells you because this is the heat that you are going to lose when you open the door, then drop the temp to the correct temp.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recipe of the week 15 May 2012 ……Chicken Enchiladas

This is such a tasty, quick, easy and impressive little Mexican dish, there are any different ways of doing and a you can use anything to stuff them with and cover them, but this is one that I like to do as it suits most palates.

Serves 4-6
Difficulty easy
Cooking Time 1 hour
Prep Time 30 Minutes

Enchiladas Ingredients
1kg Chicken Breast Fillet
250g Cheddar cheese
30g chopped coriander
2 large onions finely sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 chopped jalapeno’s (optional)
1 packet corn Tortilla’s (mexicorn brand at Spar are great)

Enchiladas Sauce Ingredients
15g crushed garlic
2 onions roughly chopped
15g fresh oregano chopped
30g chopped coriander
2 tins whole peeled tomatoes
300ml fresh cream
1 TBSP brown sugar (or white, personal choice)
Salt and peppers to taste
2 TBSP crushed Chilli (optional)
1 TBSP ground Cumin (optional)
250g cheddar cheese

Guacamole Ingredients
1 Ripe Avocado Peeled
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP Tabasco sauce
Small handful chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa Ingredients
2 Tomatoes seeded and finely cubed
1 cucumber finely cubed
1 small onion finely diced
1 tin whole kernel corn (don’t use creamed corn, not nice in salsa)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of vinegar
10 mint leaves finely chopped
Small handful chopped coriander

Start with the sauce by sautéing the onions in a little olive oil until they are translucent, then add in all the other ingredients except the cream and cheese, and let this simmer for about 45 minutes then add in the cream and leave to simmer for a further 15 minutes, then blitz it up in a food processor or with a stick blender.

Now for the chicken, boil it in some salted water for about 25 minutes until cooked all the way through, then strain it and shred it up with 2 forks, leave to cool slightly then mix it together with the rest of the ingredients, except the tortilla’s

Now take the chicken filling and divide the mixture into 8 equal parts, spoon the mixture onto the tortillas and roll it up nice and tight.

Place the tortillas into a baking tray, pack them nice and tight next to each other, then spoon over all of the enchiladas sauce, sprinkle with the left over cheese and bake at 180˚c for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and has started going crispy.
To make the salsa, mix all the ingredients together, same for the guacamole.

Now to serve, lay down some shredded lettuce, cos lettuce or baby gem lettuce works best here, dish out 2 enchiladas on  top of the lettuce and garnish with some sour cream, guacamole and salsa and serve nice and hot.

 There are many different variations that you can make with this dish from different fillings and sauce, if you would like some ideas feel free to contact me via my facebook page The Hungry Chef, this blog or come and visit me at St Francis Links Kitchen.

Bon Apetit

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"It ain't easy being cheesy" 

Here is a picture of all my cheese's to date, there are a great variety of cheese's including 10month old gruyere's, Monterey Jacks, Cheddar & Gouda's, 11 Month old drunken pecorino, Racelette, tomme de lullin, Emmenthaler, Limburger, camembert, gorgonzola, stilton style blue, and still growing daily.

If you would like to taste these Artisan Cheese come up to St Francis Links and order a cheese board, all the cheeses on there are from this collection, ask to speak to myself and i will come and do a little talk on the cheese for you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beignets with apple butterscotch
These are one of the first “fried” dough desserts that originated in France in the 1600’s, there are links to it with the Celtics and the Islamic influence of Spanish cooking who used to make something very similar but with deep fried choux pastry, however the beignets as the rest of the world knows them to be are thanks to the French once again….

They came long before the doughnut so I do still prefer to make them, and you can always fill them with a nice fruit puree or sauce like i do in the recipe below.

Difficulty Medium
Prep Time 15 minutes (2 hours proving time)
Cooking time 30 minutes
Serves 6

Beignets Ingredients
250ml tepid water
75g fresh yeast or 3 pkt’s instant yeast
½ cup melted cooled butter
1 cup of sugar
1½ tsp salt
500ml boiling water
500ml evaporated milk
5 eggs beaten
2 kg’s bread flour

Mix the yeast in with the tepid water, 3 tbsp of the brown sugar and 125g of the flour, leave for between 5-10 minutes to sponge.
In a separate bowl add in the butter, salt, rest of the sugar, boiling water and evaporated milk and leave to cool until tepid, then add in the yeasty water and beaten eggs, mix and gently mix in the remaining flour, until the dough starts to form balls, take it off and cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Take the dough out cut into 2 equal pieces and roll out until about 1 cm thick, then cut into diamonds about 2 inches x 3 inches. And then deep fry in hot oil for around 3-5 minutes until nicely puffed up and golden brown. Take them out of the oil and dust them with castor sugar.

Apple Butterscotch Ingredients
3 granny smith apples, peeled, seeded and cubed
250g butter
250ml fresh cream
250g brown sugar
Pinch of coarse salt

Place all the ingredients into a pot and leave to simmer for around 20-30 minutes until the apples start to break down, at this point puree everything with a stick blender and strain through a coarse sieve to get out any hard bits. (if you like you can add some Brandy into this mixture or Calvados, or a small amount of Stroh rum, lifts it to a new level.

Finishing the dish
Take the beignets and inject them with the apple butterscotch until full, serve with some freshly whipped cream or a good vanilla ice-cream.

Enjoy these as a nice weekend breakfast or dessert at a dinner party, or on a lazy Sunday afternoon best with some hot chocolate or strong coffee!!!!!!!

Bon appetit

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