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Slow Cooked Rabbit

So it has been a fair while since I have posted. Lots has happened in the past couple of months including adjusting to my new job, breaking my wrist and trying to do anything with my cast on, and also getting through Greek Easter, graduation and Flaounes making which all happened on the same weekend.

It seemed as though when I cooked it was only quick dinners as time got past me, or the limited time to prepare anything for a party left me feeling ashamed of the non creative plate I was bestowing on the host. Finally though, a dinner party where I not only had time to cook, but also time to prepare something unique and delicious.

I had a week to devise something impressive but also something challenging to myself. Recently I have been going down to my local butcher, Pino’s Dolce Vita, and choosing something new to cook every week. They are specialists in sausages and cured meats but they also have a huge range of meat, poultry and game to whip up. I had a look at what was in the window and there were things like beef cheeks, veal cutlets and other more common meats, but I really did want something less seen, so I asked if they had rabbit……OF COURSE they do, but it is brought in fresh to order, and let me tell you, when I got my rabbit the flesh was so pink that you could tell how incredibly fresh it actually was. I was so excited at the challenge.

Rabbit is an animal I have wanted to cook again since my first attempt, which was a very “good effort” was overcooked and dry as I did  not know how to work with this delicate meat. When cooking the meat it requires your full attention because like poultry or other white meats, it is so easy to overcook and be dry and tasteless.

I have continually come across recipes which stated rabbit stew, rabbit terrine or even assiette of wild hare. There are many ways to cook rabbit more than simply applying to a heat source. I really wanted the meat to keep its juices and be succulent and flavoursome. I therefore decided to treat the meat as something I could slow cook, something that can soak up all the flavours from the juices it was in.

So I did just that, cut up the rabbit, threw it into a casserole dish with tomatoes, garlic, sausage, white wine and cinnamon quills. Simple. Lid on. Bake for 6 hours on 150 degrees  and ta da! Soft rabbit meat falling off the bone. DELISH!! I was so happy with my dish, I could not wait till my friend tried it. Finally something different I could take to a dinner party, something you won’t find commonly at restaurants and overall a very cheap meal.

The response was fantastic, and we even found a wine that matched perfectly, although a very unexpected pairing, an 2010 Arbois “Trousseau” from Jura mmmmmmmm

Slow Cooked Rabbit

serves 4

1 rabbit cut into 6 pieces (with bone)

1 can crushed tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 chorizo (or similar sausage)

2 cinnamon quills

2 cups dry white wine

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C

2. Roast for 6 hours, turning every hour (if there is not enough liquid add some more wine and tomatoes)

to serve

3 large parsnip

50g butter

1 cup milk (use cream for a richer taste)

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

2 bunches dutch carrots

knob butter

golden syrup

1. Peel parsnip then chip into cubes. Roast until cooked through and slightly browned on outside.

2. Put cooked parsnip into a blender with the milk, butter and Parmesan. I wanted a texture that was not completely smooth, but if you wanted it to be smoother, add more milk. Set aside)

3. Peel carrots then boil until cooked (note that they will not all be the same size so you will have to constantly take out the cooked ones individually as you don’t want some to over cook). Once cooked put in a bowl of cold or iced water to stop cooking them.

4. When ready to serve put carrots into a pan with butter and golden syrup and cook until they start to get crispy.

5. Portion up the rabbit, parsnip puree and carrots onto a plate and enjoy with a glass of Trousseau.

 

Pino’s Dolce Vita

45 President Avenue

Kogarah NSW 2217

(02) 9587 4818

http://pinosdolcevita.tumblr.com/

www.pinosdolcevita.com.au

Mondays to Fridays  – 8:00 am -5:30 pm
Saturdays                  –  8:00 am – 2:00 pm

They have a full breakfast and lunch menu and beautiful coffee and sweets.

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Gluten Free Lemon Bars

For those of you who have stomach problems I highly recommend looking into the FODMAP’s diet. It has saved me and I can assure you it is not a fad diet, but a life changing diet. I used to have  stomach pain every day, bloating, indigestion and constant discomfort. I went to doctor after doctor and it wasn’t until I saw a particular Gastroenterologist that he int

For those of you who have stomach problems I highly recommend looking into the FODMAP’s diet. It has saved me and I can assure you it is not a fad diet, but a life changing diet. I used to have stomach pain every day, bloating, indigestion and constant discomfort. I went to doctor after doctor and it wasn’t until I saw a particular Gastroenterologist that he introduced me to this diet. Within a month I was not sore, I wasn’t constantly complaining and I was actually happy and enjoying food again.

There are a lot of foods that must be cut out but I won’t go into that, it is easy enough to find information about it, however what I will say is that I had been searching for a book on FODMAPs written by Dr Sue Shepherd who is a specialist in this area. Recently I found it while holidaying in QLD and had to buy it. The great thing about this book is that is explains clearly what FODMAPs is, how different foods affect different peoples and then it gives suggestions on how to make such a diet part of your life even if you are also gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, vegetarian or vegan. There are a range of great recipes at the back which I really wanted to try out.

So this easter I thought I would make a dessert so I could enjoy it without feeling sick and decided that the items I had on hand were sufficient to make the lemon bars. It was really easy to make and actually didn’t require as many as I expected.

It is as easy as making the base then pouring over a lemoney mixture, baking and cooling. Done. Easy peasy! It is even a great one for the kids to help with!

Gluten Free Lemon Bars 

(recipe slightly adapted from “Food Intolerance Management Plan, Dr Sue Shepherd)

3/4 cup rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tsps grated lemon zest

125g unsalted butter

topping

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

6 tbsps lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

3 tbsps rice flour

1.Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

2. Mix flours, sugar and zest in a food processor to combine. Mix in butter until it starts coming together in a ball.

3. Press into a lined tin and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned on top.

4. In the meantime beat eggs and sugar in an electric mixer then add lemon juice, zest and flour and mix until well combined.

5. Pour over the top of the base and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

6. Let cool then dust with icing sugar to serve.

Valentine’s Dinner

In recent months I haven’t been cooking as much as I have started working full time and have not had my own space to experiment without interruptions. I knew that my whole family would not be home this Valentines Day so it was the perfect opportunity to satisfy my huge desire to cook up something special. Last year I had to work on Valentines so I haven’t cooked up a celebratory dinner like this for a while, and I know post Valentines it will have to wait until September until we move into our own apartment with our own custom designed, absolutely fabulous kitchen (now christening that kitchen will be a dinner to remember). But we are not there yet so I just have to make do with my electric cooktop in the crowded kitchen I currently have at home.

I have been dying to cook Waygu every since a friend of mine made it for me at his house, although his was from Victor Churchill’s in Wollahra and costs ~$180/kg. I could not afford this yet, but one day, so I shopped around and found another well known butcher, which has a huge meat market in Glebe. Glenmore’s is just next to Wentworth Park and has been there for years. As it is a wholesaler the meat is ridiculously cheap, I mean I was able to get waygu for ~$55/kg, and although this was the lowest level of waygu I did not mind as I could handle having to work of that amount of fat but not a piece or fat with meat through it as some of the higher levels seem to resemble.

I had also planned to get some oysters for entree but the thought of buying them from David Jones after work and transporting them on the train home seemed like a less than pleasant experience, and not only for me but all the other train goers. SO I resorted to something very simple and quick to prepare which everyone loves, fried cheese mmmmm My family had bought a large wedge of Kefalograviera, which is a hard and salty Greek cheese traditionally supposed to be made from sheep’s milk, but the stuff we get here does not taste like sheeps milk. It is traditionally used in Saganaki which is a dish that has so many variations but basically is a thick chunk of this cheese fried and sometimes topped with prawns. It works well as it does not melt easily but goes stringy like mozarella.

We both enjoyed this entree and it only wet our appetite for the dish to come. I was not sure if the flavour would be enough to enjoy, as it hung on the fact I’d cook the meat perfectly and this was something I was scared I would not achieve. 10 seconds to long could be fatal and result in overcooked meat. I have had a lot of practice recently and learnt how much meat continues to cook off the pan, so I was confident but just in case I also made some paprika chips, green beans and diane sauce (on the side, this is not blasphemy with waygu).

My complete concentration was on the meat as it cooked and because one steak was thicker than the other it was easy to achieve medium rare and medium steaks. One thing I must say right here is that recently I have started cooking steak in butter rather than oil, I just find that the flavour is a little richer, and really a little butter wont kill anyone, but you will enjoy the meal a lot more.

While the steak rested I plated up the sides, the sauce and pouring the wine. We enjoyed a Katnook Estate 06′ Founders Block Cab Sav which was aired for hours, super super smooth and paired perfectly to this delicious piece of meat.

Here is just another one to tease you because it was INCREDIBLE, and you know you have done it to perfection when your partner who is not the biggest foodie but loves a good steak continually compliments you and says it was the best dinner ever and because it was so good now feels bad he hasn’t contributed to dinner.  Of course he knows he couldn’t have helped as I would have been a complete Nazi telling him he was doing his task wrong, probably after he was distracted by something else. Cooking is not his thing, as as I tell him, it makes me so happy to cook for him…..so really the way into my man’s heart I have learnt over the years is a good steak and then a nice simple dessert, like ice cream!

A couple of months ago I introduced my partner to Maggie Beer “Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel Ice Cream”. Big Mistake! Whenever he is left with a container it disappears withing a couple of days so that I am not able to enjoy it. Well this obsession with ice cream had led me to in the past learn to make passionfruit semifreddo, ice cream millefuelle and chocolate strawberry ice cream cake. This year I wanted to try a recipe my Thea whips up for all family funcitons, and it is quite funny that now ice cream sandwiches are in fashion at many restaurants! It only required 4 ingredients and is very simple, so I thought, well I did manage to stuff it up by getting the quantities wrong so that the mixture was not dense enough to keep the biscuits on the bottom when poured over, they rose to the top and so I don’t have a sandwich but rather an ice cream slice with all the heavy chocolate bits sunk on the bottom.

Did we really mind? NO. It still tasted delicious and the best bit were all the crunchy pieces of “malt o milk” cookie, violet crumble and chocolate. We gobbled it up very easily and were now very very full.

I was so happy at how the dinner turned out as it was perfect and my partner was really in awe as he could not stop saying thank you thank you thank you. Definitely one of the best dinners I have ever cooked and the best Valentine’s meal we have had together. See no need to go out to restaurants, eat not so good food in a bad atmosphere, probably 1m away from the next table and with a long drive home. I much prefer home cooked dinners anyways which are simple and with good produce.

Happy Valentine’s Day mi amor.

 

For recipe of Steak Diane click here

Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 can condensed milk (400mls)

1 x thickened cream (600mls)

2 x crunchie bars, crushed

Malt o milk buscuits

1. Line a dish with baking paper at then line the malt o milk cookies flat so they resemble tiles (remember the direction you have placed them)

2. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over cookies.

3. Place remaining cookies in same tessellation pattern as on the base then freeze overnight.

4. To serve lift the baking paper out and cut off rectangular sandwiches.

Momofuku’s Crack Pie…..with Nutella

I have been wanting to make Crack Pie for such a long time. We have all heard the rave about Momofuku even before it hit Sydney with their famous Pork bun’s and crack pie, but now Sydney ciders are lucky enough to experience it all on home turf…..at a price. For me, I am not that into asian cuisine, but I do have a very very sweet tooth and this pie is known to be the epitome of sweet pies and one that you will become addicted to. I think it is something about the base, it is basically a cookie that you bake then make into a tart base, similar to cheesecake (and if you wanted to cheat you could just do so with pre made cookies). The filling is somewhat like a custard or creme brulee as it is smooth and thick but rich. I assure you, if you give this pie to kids they will be running around for hours and not sleep that night, that is how much sugar there is in this tart.

The perfect opportunity arose with the 18th birthday of a close friend from work. Not only does she love desserts but is a huge chocaholic. I did end up finding a recipe for Crack Pie with a twist or nutella and thought it’s a done deal….Sure some people would this this would bastardize the original recipe but isn’t everything better when you add nutella??

I have seen some versions of this recipe which required days of cooking, cooling and setting, and during the week I just didn’t have time for that so this version is perfect as you can do it in one night, over 3 hours and then cool it overnight and it will be perfect the next morning. The only thing that you need to consider is how you will transport the pie to your destination as it needs to be kept cold. I was lucky and it was a particularly cold Summer’s day in Sydney town so it did not melt even though it was nearly two hours between fridges at either end.

Once it came time to cut the tart it came out of the fridge at the last minute as it must be served chilled as it does melt and goo all over the plate after a while. In the end was it a success? DEFINITELY but one thing I noticed is that once it did start to warm up it tasted sweeter which was a little bit too much. If I made it again I think you would get away with no brown sugar at all. Nutella is sweet enough as it is and with the amount of sugar in the filling and brown sugar it is a little sickening, so omitting brown sugar all together would be fine….there was so much filling left over that you don’t need it.

But now I am so happy I can say “I have made Crack Pie” and even if people did not know what you were talking about the name is still pretty cool, give it a try!

See ShowFood Chef’s recipe here. (but remember no brown sugar in the filling)

Adriano Zumbo “Tanzanie” cake

I have wanted to try something from the Adriano Zumbo cookbook released only a couple of months ago. We have all seen his crazy cakes on Masterchef and in his stores but to actually make one, I am sure many of us would not even dare. For me it is a challenge that will test me and these are the types of things I love giving a go. I know it will not be perfect and like he would do, but for your average run of the mill kitchen I think I did ok.

I wanted to give this cake a try as it involves many layers of chocolate, which I love, and it has so many contrasting textures I thought it would be really interesting to eat. I must admit that I only ‘got’ the idea of the cake half way through cooking it. Although you created each layer and froze it individually to set, it ended up being a sort of ice cream cake. The thing I did not get was how 7 layers of frozen goodness were supposed to merge into one cake…..

The first time it was served it fell apart into its layers, but after a few times it had melted a little then was refrozen it set into one form. It was very hard to cut the bottom three layers but all in all a success. The result for the best layer was unanimous too….creme brulee was so delectable, perfect by itself or with some of the chocolate mousse, which does look more like choc chip mousse as I did do a boo boo while making it. The recipe states that when you have the melted chocolate and the cream you  must cool the melted chocolate so it does not melt the whipped cream, but too cold and it will set into chips rather than turn into silky chocolatey creme……so cold melted chocolate equals what I produced. I actually like the look though as it breaks up the rest of the intense chocolatiness and makes it look not as rich.

So three days and seven layers later I used up 2 dozen eggs, 4 blocks of chocolate, over a litre of cream and blocks and blocks of butter……do you still want a piece?

There is one layer which I made but did not include in the cake which was a chocolate meringue. Since the cake had not moulded very well at first the meringue layer would have just completely separated the cake in two. It was very tasty and took the longest out of every layer to prepare (nearly 4 hours) but it did not go to waste and was subsequently eaten by my family. The mirror glaze would have been the trickiest as it depended a lot on temperatures and having particular ingredients which I did not have, so I made do with what I had and it was shiny, but a little thick. The rest were all straight forward and just required patience. Overall I do think it is a marvellous cake, and definitely the best ice cream cake I have ever had…..would I ever make it again? Probably not, unless a close friend requested it for a special occasion.

Was it worth it you ask? YES I made a Zumbo cake and it nearly worked, that is an achievement in itself!

[I have decided not to put up the recipe as it is extremely long. If you would like a copy, email me and i’ll send it to you.]

Chocolate Souffle Cake

Mum’s birthday. What do I cook??? She has recently deemed a new cake cookbook she purchased as her favourite thing since sliced bread….well maybe not that much, but she is very excited, so I thought I would do something out of that for her. I did think however maybe the choice should be her’s and I am glad I did as she told me to make one of her favourite cakes which I forgot I was saving to bake for this day.

I lie actually, I made it a couple of weeks ago but that recipe was stupid, or maybe I was the stupid one to listen, as it instructed to put a springform tin into a waterbath to cook the cake. It is evident that the bottom half of the cake was absolutely soaked! Straight to the bin it went….

I researched and found many recipes for souffle cakes which did not require a waterbath and decided on one. The key to this cake is creating as much air as possible and being very delicate and careful when you do finally fold everything together as you want it to be as light and airy as possible, so if you are too rough or stir rather than fold, you will get rid of a lot of the air bubbles.

Once you pout it into the springform tin (no waterbath this time) you bake it slowly for a long time. If you cooked it fast the outside would cook and the inside would remain raw, so be patient and it will turn out like this…..

Crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy, to the point of it melting in your mouth, on the inside. It is for this that it is so appropriate for any event as it is rich yet light and wont leave you feeling like you just ate a brick, you might even go back for a second one.

When I served this to my Mum she was just in heaven and did, like most girls, continue to cut slithers to make themselves feel better about not having a second slice. My twin brother was convinced it was just too rich and did not understand why I was putting a large scoop of ice cream to have with mine….some boys just don’t know how to enjoy decadence!

All in all Mum loved it, which is the most important thing. We had a simple do for her birthday this year, but I know she did not mind as she got exactly what she wanted…..the best chocolate cake in the whole wide world.

Chocolate Souffle Cake

(slightly altered from Dolcetto Confections)

400g dark chocolate, chopped
175g  unsalted butter
7 large eggs, separated
¾ cup   sugar
ice cream to serve

1.Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and grease a springform tin.
2. Over a double boiler melt the butter and the chocolate together then take off the heat and cool slightly.
3. Beat the egg yolks with half the sugar  until pale orange, light and fluffy, and so that the beater creates ribbons through the mixture.
4. Using a rubber spatula fold the chocolate with the egg yolk mixture. Set aside.
5. In a ‘clean’ bowl with a clean whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until you reach thick glossy peaks. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites (be careful not to loose a lot of air out of the mixture)
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is just browning and it has risen up substantially.
7. Refrigerate while still in the pan for at least 3 hours (as you might break it if you took the springform off while it is still hot) then serve at room temperature with ice cream.

Beetroot Ravioli with goat’s cheese and sage butter

Finally the day had arrived. I organised a lunch with my capoeira girlfriends at least a month ago, although admittedly I cancelled and rescheduled twice, so in a way it is my fault, but it worked out for the better as today was a beautiful day and really the start of summer!

I woke up early for anyone’s standards of a sunday morning, 7am, and was out of the house by 8:30 for a morning coffee and to buy groceries. By the time I got home I had already prepared the pasta I had planned, which worked out quite well considering I had never made a flavoured pasta before, and by 11am all prep was done. Now at this stage I would have been stupid not to swim and tan in my pool since the sun was out and I hadn’t gotten any vitamin D in a while.

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Once I was a lightly darken shade of brown and the girls were almost here I finished the ravioli. I had wanted to make a beetroot pasta for a while as the colour is quite pretty and I flavour goes particularly well with goat’s cheese, which I love, and I was certain the girls would love it too. To prepare the filling I just mixed a marinated goat’s cheese with a goat’s chevre and powdered sage, but I left it until just before they arrived to finish as I did not want to leave the pasta in the fridge to toughen up, but did not want to leave the cheese out in the heat to ruin.

The girls actually timed it perfectly and arrived all at once not too long after I had finished the ravioli. I heated the water, made the sauce and then we served up and sat on the balcony where the sunny Sunday afternoon turned into a stormy, thundery afternoon. It did not dampen the lunch though as it made sitting out on the balcony, overlooking the water that bit more relaxing…..especially with a glass of wine or two.

The one thing I love about burnt butter sauces is that they go with so many fillings, and do not have to be heavy as many people might think, you only need a drizzle and the beautiful nutty flavours go through the pasta beautifully. I also this time bought fresh sage which fried while the butter was cooking away and really enhanced the dish. All in all I got the thumbs up from the girls and showed them that fresh pasta is not so daunting to make, you just need a good pasta maker, strong arms and patience because if the dough is not springy enough, it will rip in the pasta maker or your pasta will be tough and not enjoyable. A key I would say is to allow at least 10 minutes for constant kneading, and I’m talking full elbow grease, not just wimpy kneading, and your pasta will be delicate silky strips of pleasure.

Beetroot Ravioli with goat’s cheese and sage butter

(serves 6)

pasta

400g ’00’ flour

2 eggs + 2 egg yolks

100g beetroot puree

1. put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

2. Put eggs and puree and beat lightly with a fork to combine.

3. Using your hands mix to form a dough and knead until springy and silky. Leave to rest for half an hour.

4. Separate the dough into6 balls. Using the largest flat setting on your pasta machine, then close the gap by 2 notches and feed the dough through again. (each time coating the dough with a little flour so it does not stick and rip)

5. Put the setting to the thinnest you can get and slowly and carefully feed the dough through. Lay flat on a towel (do not fold over, I did this and they all stuck together even though I had rubbed flour onto them. In the hot weather they just fused)

6. Repeat with all the dough and lay flat.

 

filling

300g marinated goat’s cheese (drained weight)

300g goat’s chevre

4tsps powdered sage

1. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth paste.

 

sauce

250g butter

fresh sage

parmesan (to finish)

1. To make the ravioli add dollops (about a tsp) along the dough leaving at least a 5cm gap. Put a sheet of dough over the top and press around the filling to make the dough stick together. Using a ravioli cutter cut into squares and place on a clean tea towel until ready to cook.

2. Once all done and ready to cook, boil a large pot of water and add some salt. Carefully place the ravioli into the water and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook as the sauce will continue to cook it.

3. While cooking make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan and add the sage leaves. Cook until the butter is bubbling, has turned brown and the sage leaves and fried.

4. Once cooked strain and make sure you get as much water off as possible.

5. Plate up and then using a spoon pour the burnt butter over the top of the ravioli and then place the fried sage leaved on top.

6. Grate parmesan over the top and serve immediately.