Monthly Archives: March 2012

Maltastic Leavenation

I’ve been getting a bit tired of the multigrain flour from the supermarket, which seems to have a lot of linseed in it. As far as I’m concerned, linseed should only go near cricket bats, I really don’t see there is anything favourable to be said about it from a culinary POV.

This made me hanker for some granary bread and in the absence of Hovis Granary flour, how about a home effort? Shona found out that the grains are malted wheat or barley. The other flavour essential is malt extract itself, a tin of which we happened to have lurking. I picked up a bag of wheat and we soaked a handful for a day, then placed on damp kitchen paper until sprouted 5-10mm.

Then heated on a highish heat in a thick small saucepan until dark brown as shown, stirring constantly to get an even tan and prevent burning.

The final breadmix was

  • 3cups flour- 3/4 white flour, 1/4 rye (I had no wholemeal, maybe 1/2 next time)
  • a dessertspoon of malt extract,
  • the handful of wheat,
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 300ml water

Into the breadmachine on multigrain setting.

Butter, marmalade, yum.



Avoiding Descent of the Crimson Mist

“Making a Hollandaise sauce is really just like making mayonaise with melted butter”. These words of wisdom failed to impress one of my registrars, who to be fair, is trying to cram into his brain the small topics of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology for the upcoming Emergency primaries.

But it’s true, it really is the same. And the cucumber Hollandaise above was the first thing my dear friend and gastronomic mentor Ferdinand wrote in the recipe book that started this nonsensei n 1993. It really is suited to wild salmon or sea trout in particular, but any fine flavoured and textured fish will be a good partner. Shona had bought some Crimson Snapper and some asparagus.

I’m consistently confused by the seasons up here nearish the equator. Thirty years of UK living tell me what months are associated with a season. Living in ‘normal’ Australia reverses that and then we have five seasons here where the most pleasant one (cool dry) actually mirrors summer in blighty. New season apples the other day really flumoxed me. So the asparagus isn’t quite right, is it???

  • Peel one small cucumber, de-seed and chop into small cubes, 3-4mm. Lightly salt and drain on kitchen paper
  • Meanwhile, melt 100g butter until just too hot to put our finger in
  • Separate one egg yolk into a clean bowl
  • Spoon in a teaspoon or so of butter, leaving the liquid at the bottom (It doesn’t matter if using salted butter as the salt comes out in the water when melted)
  • Whisk with a balloon whisk
  • Keep adding small amounts of butter until it thickens
  • Wash the cucumber in cold water to get rid of excess salt
  • Pat dry in more kitchen paper
  • Add to sauce

Meanwhile I steamed the fillets on foil. When done I added the cooking juices to the Hollandaise to loosen, though some water comes out of the cucumber anyway, so take care. For this reason I don’t add lemon juice to this hollandaise, where I might normally do so.

New potatoes and asparagus, and a rather good Menetou Salon, Loire.

If the sauce splits, swear loudly, throw the sauce across the room and get a take away.

Or, start again, with another yolk, adding your split sauce again, a little at a time, whisking like a dervish.

Coq and Bull

There has been a deplorable lack of output from ironchefnt of late, possibly due to the intervention of bored gods, who knows. Anyway, poor Cockie the ex-cockeral has been hibernating for way too long at -19c in the bottom of the freezer. So before a natural disaster forced a thaw, he was exhumed from his icy grave.

I’ve been wondering what to do with him for a long time, and have been wavering between coq au vin and a Mexican Mole. Though a mole might be more appropriate to our similarly tropical climate I have failed to find any of the dried peppers essential to a good mole. A pity, since a Oaxacan (chocolate based) mole in particular is one of the finest expeditions an ex-bird can make off the table. However, I had three bottles of Tasmanian pinot noir to choose from and two from Bogong estate to put to good use. Coq au vin it was.

In the end I plumped for a recipe from Simon Hopkinson over Robert Carrier, though saying that I adjusted it as usual. Even though I accidentally invited a vegetarian to this blood fest, one coq wasn’t going to be enough so a rump ‘tri-tip’ joint was added to the mix. In fact when I had this thought, I wondered about doing more of a pot au feu. Interestingly this is the cut the Austrians use for Tafelspitz; slow simmered and with dumplings, apple  horseradish sauce- very tropical(?), but sounds divine. Add to this was the revelation of a bag of pigs trotters in the department freezer. Previously these had been used for suturing practice under the auspices of a vegetarian specialist friend and colleague. I am abhorrent of waste and this is the second time I have had to rescue bits of pig that have been used for medical training.

It is obvious now why it has taken me so long to decide what the hell to do with Monsieur Cockie.

One bottle of Bogong Estate Pinot Noir reduced to half volume with

  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion stuck with 2 cloves
  • 2 chopped celery sticks
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 4 cloves garlic, bruised
And then strained.
The following dipped in flour and fried in butter in batches till golden
  • M. Coq jointed to 8 pieces, breast still attached to bone, and skinned. I left out the wings and spine and made a stock with these and a pigs trotter.
  • 1kg tri-tip rump cut into large chunks

Wine and meat combined and simmered exceedingly slowly until tender, adding a little stock for richness. This might have been time to use the slow cooker. Next time. Simon seems to add small onions, button mushroom and bacon/ pancetta lardon for the entire cooking. I thought these were meant to be cooked separately and served as a garnish. Failing to find a source of small onions, I jut cooked the mushrooms with my homemade pancetta.

Kipfler potatoes, parsley and my Romanesque walnut, mustard and lemon condiment.

A fitting exit indeed.

And I have half a turkey for a Oaxacan Mole…….