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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