Unrecipe: Rhubarb and Strawberries

Rhubarb&Strawberries

I had rhubarb in my fridge, and I had strawberries a little past their prime in my fridge; so I made rhubarb and strawberries!

The unrecipe is to chop rhubarb (about 5 stalks, in my case) into bits and put at the bottom of a saucepan and give it a sprinkling with a couple of tablespoons caster sugar (Normal sugar would probably work just as well; but I perceive the colour of rhubarb being nicer when I use caster sugar). Add just a little bit of water – a couple millimeters deep, so that the rhubarb has a chance to let go of it’s juice before burning becomes a problem.

In unrecipe land, I put quartered strawberries on top; and everything worked out fine.

In hindsight land, give the rhubarb a head start (over medium heat) before adding quartered strawberries.

In either case, cook the fruit over a medium heat until it’s pretty and pink; and the rhubarb has softened up.

Yum yum yum.

Vue De Monde, Melbourne

When I was in Melbourne, I managed to get along to Vue De Monde for lunch. It was really great (:

Bread, and also butter First, there was bread and butter..
Preemptive Strike Amuse Bouche! warm Ham consommé with a ball of melon (which, I’ll have you know, explodes in your mouth with a burst of deliciousness in a way which makes it impossible to not smile); topped with a wafer and greenery-puree
Main #1:  Offaly Cubes of terrine / ox tongue / foie gras; served with dinky bread circles, along with a fruity jam and little piles of spices (which you can’t see). This was on absurdly wide plates which caused the wait-people to dance about shuffling everything around on the table so they’d fit (:
Main #2:  Moooo Seared Wagyu on top of a sweetcorn puree, with salady greens. The noodly thing on the right is made of soy, and apparently made in rubber tubing(!)
Science!
Science! It’s what’s for lunch.
Main #3:  Porkstravaganza Pork and Apples. Whee! There’s belly pork, a galette (I think? – kinda a pate of pork with pastry) and the interestingly textured porkstrands; On the apple front, there’s a thing with peel, a lil apple filled with tasty, and the green sauce was a green apple sauce (as opposed to something vegetably). There’s also a glaze type sauce hanging out that was brought to the table in individual test tubes, and poured over the plates by wait-people. Which was, another interesting little dance.
Melopops This was the course betwixt the savoury and sweet – kinda frozen melon in a fruit jelly of some description.
Dessert #1 This was the first dessert Рstrawberry souffl̩, with a frozen-strawberry-thing on top, with a strawberry powder, which was delicious.
Dessert #2 The second dessert was like a tube of cakey-biscuity, filled with molten chocolate ganache. So tasty.
Petit Fours
Last of all, petit fours.

I’d totally go again; although maybe for dinner next time. Although that will probably involve making dinner reservations before booking flights (:

Pumpkin Soup

Soup+Bacon

It’s cold! And I don’t like it.

I made soup, yesterday! It’s marvellous. Tonight, I had it was bacon instead of toast (and added a splash of cream). I highly recommend it. Anywho, a recipe!

I did a pile of chopping, then a pile of cooking. I’m pretty sure the two can overlap; but not entirely.

I had 1 leek, 1 bulb of fennel, and three red onions chopped into slices; 1 red capsicum diced relatively finely; half of a pumpkin chopped into 1-2″ chunks*; about 8 medium-small potatoes, quartered and a half dozen slices of bacon roughly chopped up.

Bacon goes into a pot first, and is cooked until browned; then the capsicum is added and cooked until it softens up; then the leek/fennel/red onions join in. Once those have cooked down (uh, they 2/3 filled the pot when I added them, and when they were down to about 1/3 I continued onwards..); add the pumpkin and potatoes, and add enough water to just cover the potatoes/pumpkin.

Cook it until the potatoes and pumpkin are cooked; then point a stick blender at it until it’s smoooothish.

Yuhm.

*I peeled the first half of the pumpkin with much suffering; and cut the other half into chunks and roasted it in a 200°C oven until the pumpkin was just starting to soften up. It made the skin vastly easier to get off; and probably helped make the soup tastier. Next time, I’d roast all of the pumpkin to avoid the pumpkin peeling.

SupSupSup

The weather is being very unseasonal at the moment;  therefore:  soup for dinner.  Made from summer vegetables.

In the beginning,  take two capsicums, peeled and finely diced and saute with about a half dozen crushed garlic cloves over a medium-low element.  Once it smells like it’s “getting there”,  get three spring onions, slice, and add to the pot.

Next, take five tomatoes, and chop coarsely.  Once you’ve finished chopping, add those to the pot, too.   Lower the temperature just a little.
Next-next, take a head of broccoli,  and chop it so there are teeny little florets.  Big florets are no good in unpureed soup.  Trust me.

Almost finally, add a can of cannellini beans which have been strained.  Continue heating until the beans have been warmed through.

Finally, assault the soup with salt and pepper until it is just so;  then serve with grated parmesan on top (You can grate the parmesan while waiting for the beans to warm through.  Efficiency at its finest).  I made a line of parmesan across the middle of bowls.  It looked extra-swank.  However, my dig’ camera is missing at this time.  So you will just have to imagine it.

Ginger Poached Pears with Vanilla Custard and Walnut Praline

Pears w/ custard and praline

This was dessert last night. It is pears, halved and poached in a simple-syrup with ginger; sitting on vanilla custard with walnut praline in the cored holes of the pears. I served it in wide Martini glasses (they’re oh so pretty, but so easy to spill your drink out of); and it tasted even better than it looks.

For The Pears
I halved and cored four pears (handy hint: use a melon baller to do the coring); and put them in a wide saute pan with one cup of sugar and about four cups of water (enough to cover most of the pears), along with a finger of peeled ginger sliced up. The pears were then cooked over a low heat for an hour, being flipped over every twenty minutes or so.

For the Custard
I have a favourite custard recipe (: It’s nice and reliable, so I haven’t investigated others. I use the custard part of this recipe for Mille Feuille; but instead of orange blossom water, I added vanilla essence (I use the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla essence. It’s..magical..when the bottle is opened).

For the Praline
I covered the bottom of a small saucepan with sugar, and added just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Before you start cooking the praline, it’s important to have somewhere to put it when you’re finished (: Usually, I’d use a silicon baking sheet; but alas, my one has seen better days. Instead, I used a sheet of baking paper inside a roasting pan. This is the caramel cooling zone.
I heated the sugar+water over medium heat until it turned amber; then added a handful of walnut pieces. Next, jiggle the syrup around so all of the walnut pieces are covered. Then, pour the caramel on to your caramel-cooling-zone.
Give the praline 10-15 minutes to cool down and solidify. Once it has hardened; break it into smaller pieces, then use a pestle (pounding stick from a mortar and pestle) to reduce it down to little pieces.

To Assemble
Place the custard in the bottom of glasses. Put the pear halves on top of that. Fill the cored holes with praline.

Woo!

Consumption

We had great delivery food for dinner! It does produce a lot of garbage, though.

We ordered in pizza and tiramisu (for me, at least) from Pizza Pomordoro. Last time, we ordered a Carne off the menu; this time, we opted for what was effectively a Pollo without avocado but with pepperoni.

Pizza was delicious – they are cooked in a manuka-fueled wood oven; and the tiramisu was also gorgeous.

Yum.

Smoked Salmon is Delicious

First, make a delicious cure: 1/3c of flakey salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, the finely grated zest of a lemon, lime and an orange (optionally, half a grapefruit as well) and a bit of white pepper are combined together. The zest has enough moisture to sorta damped the sugar and salt. Next, take a piece of salmon fillet, and press the cure mixture on to the non-skin side. Gaps are okay (: Don’t panic if there are gaps.

Wrap the salmon in a sheet of tinfoil, then put it in a dish in the fridge (You want the dish because a bunch of liquid will be pulled from the salmon, and while foil usually does an admirable job of containing the liquid; it’s better to avoid having it dribble through your fridge if it doesn’t (: ). Leave the salmon for 2-3 hours.

Once it has finished curing, remove the cure mixture. I usually put it under cold running water d: Pat it down with paper towels so that it’s dry. It sure looks delectable at this point.

Almost finally: Preparations for smoking – Get a disposable foil roasting pan, and put a layer of wood-pixie-dust in the bottom (I got a bag of manuka-pixie-dust from the supermarket a while back..) It doesn’t need to be super-deep. Put the salmon on to a wire rack (like a *cough*uncoated cake cooling rack*cough*); then put the rack on the roasting pan (I have a rack which is longer than the roasting pan so that it’s nicely supported, about 4cm above the woodchips). Then build a tent to loosely cover the salmon from more tin foil (Another foil roasting pan, upside-down would probably work pretty well too).

Finally: Smoking – put the roasting pan on the barbecue for 15 minutes.