Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuna Tataki

This was so simple, yet so delicious.  Tuna, caught the day before, rolled in soy sauce, then black sesame seeds, and quickly seared on each side.  Avocado puree, spicy chilli sauce, and a crunchy salad, with crispy slices of garlic. 

The avocado puree was simply avocado, lime juice and salt, topped with basil tops. 

 I was surprised at how delicious this all actually was!  I was also surprised at the mess I had made in the kitchen, and how I am finding black sesame seeds everywhere - the following day!  But it was worth it.  

The dipping sauce was a simple mix of light soy, sesame oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, and ginger.

The salad was just some salad greens, steamed and refreshed bok choy, julienne carrot and ginger (placed in an ice bath before draining to keep it crispy), and finely sliced red onion, sitting atop more of the avocado puree.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A salad of sorts

I had planned to make a fairly healthy dinner of grilled chicken and salad, however this plan nearly didn't come to fruition.  Upon opening the fridge, I discovered a distinct lack of green, leafy, salad-y type ingredients -  it's shopping day tomorrow!.  No matter, I thought, I'll quickly blanch some frozen green beans.  Wrong again.  Strangely for our household, the vegetable supplies had dwindled almost down to the standard staples of potato, onions and garlic!  They were accompanied by a few lonely spring onions, some forlorn fruit, and some cabbage that had just placed ads in the personal section.  In light of the situation, I decided to quickly throw together a 'salad', comprising of just grilled potatoes, marinated and grilled chicken, red onion, herbs, crispy prosciutto and salsa verde.  I was surprised at how nice this combination was - I thought it would be a little more austere!  I would be lying if I said a little more greenery wouldn't go astray, but it was still delicious.  You could jazz it up (spellcheck tells me 'fancify' is not a word - it should be) with some chorizo, endive and goats cheese. 

Here's what you need:

Par boiled, then grilled potatoes, seasoned
Thinly sliced red onion
Grilled chicken, sliced (this was marinated in garlic, lemon juice, paprika, oil, salt and pepper)
Crispy prosciutto, torn into pieces
Fresh mint and basil scattered on top

Assemble the above on a plate, top with the salsa verde, and finish with some olive oil and salt. 

For the salsa verde, I created something that was along the lines of this, but I omitted some of the herbs, and added garlic and two anchovies.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

The last of the tomatoes

Yesterday was a sad, sad day.  I used up the last of the beautiful heirloom tomatoes from our garden.  Unfortunately for the rest of the year we are going to have to put up with those poor excuses for tomatoes available in the shops.  You know, those perfectly round, bright red, un-blemished things that you could stub your toe on if you left one on the floor.  

I do have some slight reassurance in the fact that I was able to prolong their life (a little) by turning them into relish.  Chutney.  Sauce.  I don't know what to call it - lets just say yummy tomato, chilli and capsicum relished saucy chutney stuff.  I decided not to go for plain old tomato, as we have a reliably delicious and available source of this from my Mum.  So I added some chilli, ginger, fish sauce, and lime juice to give it my relish a little kick.  

2013 Relish

Approx 750g tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 tin of crushed tomatoes
1 capsicum finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 brown onions, chopped
1 green apple, peeled, cored and grated
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp minced ginger
1 small red chilli, sliced very finely
1 tsp chilli flakes
1.5 tbsp fish sauce
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

Gently sweat the onions until softened in a heavy bottomed saucepan with some oil.  Add the garlic, ginger and capsicum, and saute until the capsicum has softened.  Add all the other ingredients, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for around an hour.  Once it has reached the consistency you like, pour into sterilised jars.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Make your own Huxtaburger

While I don't wish to insult the kitchen intelligence (from here on in known as 'Burger IQ') of anyone reading, goodfood.com.au has today put up the recipe for the now infamous Huxtaburger - now available on Smith St and in the CBD.  Click here for the recipe. 

If the recipe seems incredibly simple and straightforward, that's because it is.  However I highly doubt that I will be able to recreate these perfect little burgers at home.  For starters, I'm a big believer in the 'context' of food - a burger is always going to taste better after you have spent an hour waiting for it on Smith St, in the freezing cold with your mates, watching the 'unique' inhabitants of Collingwood amble along muttering obscenities.  It's the same phenomenon that occurs when you visit a winery, usually in a beautiful setting, with great company and more than a few 'samples' under your belt - only to return home and buy the wine from your soulless local boozer, take it home and discover that it wasn't really that good after all.  Call this phenomenon the 'terroir' of the food in question if you will (if you're prone to using wine-snob language), as apparently this roughly translates to 'sense of place'.  

I will also note that while the recipe on the surface appears very exact - for example measuring the salt and pepper in grams - it doesn't specify what sort of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and even cheese are to be used.  I understand though - chefs have to keep some secrets.  After all, if you could make it at home, why would you go and wait for it.  Well I suspect that the key to making it the same as the original lies in those sauces, the cheese, and the bun used.  Who knows - perhaps they are importing a ketchup usually un-available here (or making it in-house), and I'm pretty sure their not just squeezing Kraft mayo onto those delicious buns.  It is no doubt some kind of delicious house-made aioli.  

So for those whose burger IQ is on the lower end of the scale, remember this - all successful burgers have a formula!  From the Big Mac, to the Raph Burger (of Beatbox kitchen fame) to the Huxtaburger - they all need a consistent supply of quality ingredients, and they're all put together in a certain order.  No doubt all of the above-mentioned purveyors of burgers have agreements with suppliers to supply them only the softest of buns, the ripest of tomatoes and the crunchiest of lettuces - not to mention meat with a certain fat content (clearly I'm not talking about Maccas any more).  The buns at Huxtaburger seem to be some kind of delicious brioche bun (from Breadtop according to the link) - they are not your usual sorry and soggy burger bun.  So while I am going to try and replicate a Huxtaburger at home, and while it may capture the essence of the burger to which it is paying homage, I am under no illusions that it will be as good.  Happy burger making!