Saturday, 21 December 2013

Extreme Refreshment

Miramar Semillon 2012

Sniffling and coughing away as I write this note, at least it will remind me of the aroma and taste of wine. No one likes a cold, but in the summer heat and being unable to taste properly I really hate it. The upshot is the chance to write up some jottings, of which this is one.

This is a wine for the hot weather, lovely and bright with great refreshment. This is also reflected in the pale brilliant colour. Nose of lemon, herbs and some tropical guava hints, even a grassy touch. This follows through on the palate with superb balance. There's more lemon zest on the front with grassy green, followed by the waft of tropical fruit and lemon grass. It's all nice and restrained and with underlying acid and minerality, has nice length and balance. There is even at this early stage a whiff of honey/lemon lolly peeking out, so you can expect this to age with elegance and interest.

It seems the winemaker is deft as ever, really approachable and easy to enjoy with hidden depths. 11.5% alcohol is also a big plus in the warm weather. 91 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Sweet In The Evening

Strawberry Lemon Brulee Tart

I thought it looked rather alright, despite the rustic photo!
I cannot lay claim to being an experienced or even competent pastry cook, so this recipe was somewhat of a leap for me.  It is rather easy to follow a recipe or create a dish where technique and process are familiar despite difference of ingredients or style, but then of course we would never get better or try new things in the kitchen.  This would be rather sad and the pleasure of new food, success and achievement would be missed.

It was decided I would attempt a sweet pastry dessert, recipes were perused examined and discarded; it's hard to decide what to make you know and always advisable to get a sense of the prevailing taste of your audience.  Chocolate, baked ricotta and fruit tart were considered, but in the end you just can't go past a Creme anglaise right!?  The recipe used appealed because I'm not the sweetest of palates and I like the lemon playing off the richness of the custard.  The strawberries were my own addition to the recipe I used, courtesy of sbs and Matthew Evans.

The recipe is available from the link, so I will detail my slight alterations and observations, rather than the whole.  The first of these being that I should have started earlier as I had the most interrupted afternoon!  Aside from this:

I topped with strawberries.  A 100g almond meal substitution was made in place of flour to the base, I always love the texture and flavour this gives.  A little vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon were added to the custard, as it's such a lovely accent with the strawberries.  The berries were also added after removal from the oven then grilled with icing sugar, I simply must buy that blow torch! 

For a first go I'm pretty pleased and I hope those who tried it were too.  I must also say thank you to my friend Catherine, for her sweet inspiration.

Close up on the plate...


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Pukka Tukka In Rather More Than 15 Minutes...

New Orleans Chicken, Corn Salad with Sweet Mash and Beans

Thanks Jamie
Over the holiday season a lot of eating and drinking has been taking place, however it hasn't been until January that I have really gotten back in the kitchen seriously.  Apart from the usual baking, the time previously has been dedicated to organising the space after moving house, a task which is always good when the space is better, but also a pain in the neck with the difficulties of missing utensils and unfamiliarity with stoves, storage and layout.

In celebration of the new domestic arrangements and co-inhabitants I tried one of Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals.  Hmmm.  Both the 15 and 30 minute tomes grace our shelves but I hadn't used them previously;  jokingly as I was cooking away I stated an extra 0 would be a good addition to the title, exaggeration, slightly, but you would need an assistant and slave to get all the prep and cooking done in 15 minutes.  Cooking times would also have been an issue.  The disclaimer may be that I used the framework of the dish rather than following it to the letter and really made the marinade my own, also using beans and not Okra as they were available.  We also barbecued the meat on coals and so on...  In short it was quite different but similar in spirit, with the bbq imparting a wonderful smokiness to the dish.  Thankyou for the recipe and inspiration Mr Oliver.

I felt it took more like at least 90 minutes to get the meal done allowing for prep, cooking and serving, but let us delay no more, to the dish!

Chicken breast (halved or cut into thirds, depending on size.  It's also good to ensure they aren't too thick, as the marinade works better and they cook evenly and quickly.)

Olive Oil
White Wine
Lime zest and juice
Fresh Red Chillies
Dried Chilli

Soaking it up
Fish Sauce
Brown Sugar
Polenta, mix this in just prior to cooking
White Pepper
Black Pepper

                           Mash & Beans
                           Sweet Potato
                           Green Beans
                           Feta Cheese

Corn Salad
Fresh corn
Spanish Onion
Cherry Tomatoes
Parsley (Coriander originally)
Slivered Almonds
Lime Juice

The corn is dry fried on a hot griddle, a little char is good.  This can be done while you boil the sweet potato which has been chopped into smallish chunks.  While that's happening you can combine all the marinade ingredients finely sliced or blend it all in the food processor.  Reserve a little for the mash and pour the rest over the chicken and leave to marinate.

Once the potato is done, remove the pieces and throw the bean in the water for a minute or two to cook.  Mash the potato and combine with the reserved marinade, season.  Set aside, then drain and cool the beans in water, again set aside with the mash somewhere warm until ready to serve.

Thanyou Mr Sommelier
Cook the chicken in a pan or on a grill till cooked and coloured nicely.

Whilst that's happening and when the corn is done, run a knife down the cob to remove the kernels, combine with the halved tomatoes, parsley and finely diced onion.

To serve I went with a single platter.  The salad is dressed with the lime juice, almonds and maybe a little oil whilst the chicken sits on a bed of mash, topped with the beans and fetta.  Season all to taste.

Thus I present a tasty, simple dinner, not revelatory but pretty tasty and a crowd pleaser, which I think is Jamie Oliver really and I mean that as a big compliment.  Pukka Tukka! 

The tasty wine match