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Savour's Chocolate Petit Gateau

Savour's Chocolate Petit Gateau

A wise woman once said: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”  I find it inspiring that these words were attributed to someone who learned to cook at the age of 37 and yet managed to change the face of cooking, Julia Child.

My passion of course, is food and I’ve found the best way to feed this passion is to learn as much as I can on it.  Among the most valuable of my experiences have been my time at the Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School.  I wanted to tell you about my time there so I thought I would copy down a few words I had written in a previous post about a two day Pastry course I attended last year:

This school was a natural choice because (1) I wasn’t aware of any such intensive course for non-professionals (i.e. people like me who didn’t want to give up their day jobs) in Sydney and (2) I had such great success with my macaron class a few months back that  I vowed to one day come back and when a spot opened for a two day course in Petit Gateaux Level 1, I knew I had to sweet talk my husband into allowing me to go. Kirsten Tibballs owns and manages the Savour school and upon entering the premises I know I am in good hands.  Browsing through the store infront of the the kitchen I spot a couple of international pastry magazines and books featuring some of Kirsten’s creations.  Upon meeting her, I am in awe.  Not only is she super nice and approachable, she is also a walking encyclopaedia of chocolate and patisserie!  Plus, the best part, is that she is totally willing to share everything she knows.  Everyone in the class feels immediately at ease.

As a testament to how popular the Savour classes are, many of those in the class have been to other classes before and are already familiar with some of the techniques she briefly discusses in the introduction.  Apart from your baking enthusiasts, a number of those in the class are graduates from Le Cordon Bleu, others are pastry chefs at top restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne.

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When people ask me about what I miss most about the Philippines – there is no doubt that the answer will always be “the food”.  My mouth waters when I remember the Lechon Kawali (Crunch Pork with Shrimp Sauce), or Kare Kare (Oxtail Stew with Annato Peanut Sauce).  I reminisce over my Mom’s Beef Tenderloin with Onions, or the egg and glass noodles (Bam-I Guisado) we used to have during family celebrations.

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Quay's Confit of South Australian Squid

If you were curious enough to read the About Me section (which needs some serious updating!), you would have seen I spend my days working in a bank and the rest of the time I like to think of myself as a frustrated cook.  Who would have thought that these two seemingly opposite interests would one day marry?  This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I was invited (along with two other coworkers) by an investment bank for the first ever private lesson with Peter Gilmore at the kitchen of Quay Restaurant!

Free Range Chicken cooked with Truffle and Early Spring Vegetables

Peter Gilmore is the executive chef of  Quay Restaurant and has been running the kitchen since 2001.  Recognized as one of Australia’s finest restaurant, Quay has been awarded Restaurant of the Year for two consecutive years by both the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and the Australian Gourmet Traveller for 2009 and 2010.  Additionally, they have been named as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants awarded by S. Pellegrino for 2009.

So you can imagine, being one in a group of only six people to watch Peter Gilmore cook  was somewhat like a child being invited to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

Confit of Shaved South Australian Squid, Garlic Custard and Roasted Squid Consomme

The first part of the class was a three hour session where Peter demonstrated three of his signature dishes.  The first dish was the his Confit of Shaved South Australian Squid, Garlic Custard and Roasted Squid Consomme.  I asked Peter how he got the squid so finely shaved.  Apparently they stack layers of squid, freeze them and then pass them through a slicer.  At this point, I am already adding slicer to my Christmas wish list!

I think this dish epitomizes Peter’s philosophy of looking to nature for inspiration and letting natural produce speak for itself.  Decorated with baby radishes and native violets, the dish is so beautiful I am hesitant to taste the finished product – but do anyway – and what can I say – it’s love at first bite!

The next dish up was the truffle poached chicken with early spring vegetables.  To prepare this dish does take some skill.  The first the skin of the chicken is removed, and then the dark meat is separated from the breast (the dark meat is not used in this dish), the skin is then laid on a flat surface and the breast meat and truffle butter is laid on top of the skin and rolled with cling film like a sausage.  The meat is then allowed to rest in the refrigerator for four hours to allow the protein to set.

Free Range Chicken with Truffles and Early Spring Vegetables

Once the chicken is ready, it is cooked in a temperature controlled water bath set at 68c for around 40 minutes.  Simultaneously, the vegetables are prepared and cooked in boiling salted water and dressed with butter.  Once the chicken is cooked and rested (around 5 minutes), more truffle butter is added and the chicken is finished in a moderate oven.

Plating the Chicken with Truffles and Early Spring Vegetables

If you are so inclined to try Quay’s signature recipe ( I am still working up the courage to try it myself!) here it is.

Gently Poached South Australian Squid, Garlic Custard, Baby Radishes, Native Violets, Roasted Squid Broth

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 1 kilo whole Southern squid
  • 2 Chinese red core radishes or 4 regular red radishes
  • 500 mls clarified butter
  • 16 small cherry bell radishes
  • 16 native violet flowers (optional)
  • 12 social garlic flowers (optional)

Garlic Custard

  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 20 grams unsalted butter
  • 180 mls full cream milk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk

Roasted Squid Broth

  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 500 grams squid trimmings
  • 500 grams chicken wings
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 golden eschallots
  • 2 stocks white celery
  • 50 grams shitake mushrooms
  • 1 small carrot
  • 200 mls dry sake
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • salt

For the Roasted Squid Broth

In a heavy based saucepan heat the olive oil and add the squid trimmings, and chicken wings.  Roast in the oil until the squid and chicken wings are golden brown.  Moving them around with a wooden spoon as much as possible will help.  Once they are browned, finely chop all the vegetables and add them to the pot.  Saute for a further minute or two, add all of the sake to deglaze the pot and reduce until the sake has almost reduced completely.  Add the litre or chicken stock and simmer gently for 1 hour skimming any scum that comes to the surface using a ladle.  Turn the heat off and allow to infuse for 1 mor ehour.  Pass the broth through a fine muslin cloth lined strainer, discard the solids, keep the liquid, skim any remaining fat from the top, adjust the seasoning with sea salt.  You should have approximately  1/2 a litre or liquid left.  If you have more, reduce until you have 1/2 a litre remaining.  Place in the refrigerator until needed.

Garlic Custard

For the garlic custard, melt the butter in a small saucepan and chop the two garlic gloves roughly.  Gently sweat the garlic in the butter but do not allow it to colour.  Add the 180 mls of milk and bring the liquid to the point just before simmering (about 90c).  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the garlic to infuse into the milk for about 15 minutes.  Strain the milk and discard the garlic.  Season the milk with sea salt to taste.  When the milk has cooled sufficiently, whisk the milk onto the egg and egg yolk in a stainless steel bowl.   Place the egg and milk mixture into 4 ceramic containers, approximately 50 mls in each.  Cover the container with cling film and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Squid and Radishes

Clean the squid, removing all the guts.  Cut the tubes in half and with a clean kitchen towel, rub off all the skin.  Slice the squid tubes into 1 cm wide strips – put aside.  For the red core radishes, peel the radishes and slice into fine discs.  If you are using regular radishes do not peel them, just slice into fine discs.  Cut the tiny cherry bell radishes in half and put aside.

To Complete

Place the garlic custard ramekins into a steamer and steam on high for approximately 8 minutes.  In the meantime blanche the radishes for 1 minute in boiling salted water and in a shallow fry pan heat all of the clarified butter on a medium heat.  Quickly saute the sliced squid for less than 1 minute, you are just looking for the squid to turn opaque and slightly curled.  Drain the squid on kitchen paper.  Reheat the squid broth to just before boiling point.

To assemble, place the sliced radishes in a ring around each bowl.  Place a spoonful of each garlic custard in the center of each bowl.  Top the custard with the squid slices.  Garnish the squid with cherry bell radishes, native violets and social garlic flowers in using.  Pour the squid broth into a jug and pour a little onto the dish at the table in front of your guests.  The idea with this dish is that you have a spoonful of lush garlic custard, hot silky squid and roasted squid broth all at once.

The last dish was the Vanilla Mousse with Raspberries.  The recipe can be found here.

Which restaurant kitchen would you want to spend a day in?

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Bizou and Baci - my two girls helping to celebrate cupcake day!

Bizou and Baci - my two girls helping to celebrate cupcake day!

I am pleased to report that my family and friends raised a total of AUD 272.10 for the RSPCA.  (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).  We had cupcake day at Mort Bay in Balmain on Sunday (16th of August) which also corresponded with my dog’s 4th birthday (Baci).  Along with raising a decent amount of money (also toys, beds and treats), I am also happy to report that we had lots of great fun and managed to create awareness for this organization.   All dogs must really go to heaven because we were blessed with great weather and an amazing number of people turned out (we sold out in 30 minutes!).  Note to self:  Start Early and make more cupcakes next year!


The pink dog - don't worry I was told it was food colouring

The pink dog - don't worry I was told it was food colouring

The cupcake day is really a great way to raise awareness for this organization.  Unfortunately, sometimes even I am guilty of using it as a way to practice my baking skills so I thought instead of sharing with you a recipe for my cupcakes I’ll use this airtime instead to share with you the five reasons I think the RSPCA is truly a worthy cause.

1.  Animals love us unconditionally – well, not sure if all of them do – but definitely my dogs do.  They are always waiting at the door ready to give me a big tail wag and kiss, no matter how late I come home.

2. They provide second chances – the RSPCA rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes unwanted animals.  They receive over 144,000 animals each year and these animals deserve a second chance at having a better life.

3. They make me uncomfortable – sometimes the way we change things is to be uncomfortable with the way things really are.  The RSPCA raises awareness for some of the following causes:

DUCK HUNTING - Unfortunately, there are four states in Australia that still allow duck hunting, despite strong evidence of the extreme suffering involved. The RSPCA opposes the recreational hunting of ducks because of the high level of cruelty. Every year, during the government-declared ‘open season’ many thousands of ducks are shot over the wetlands of Australia in the name of this ‘sport’. Some of these ducks will be killed outright. Some will be wounded, brought down and killed on retrieval. Many others will be crippled or wounded and will die within a few hours or days. Some will suffer prolonged pain before they die.

LIVE EXPORT – Every year some five million Australian sheep, cattle and goats are sent on gruelling voyages overseas just to be slaughtered once they get there. This meat may then sit on the supermarket shelf right next to Australian meat that was sent there in a box.

4. They get me active – The RSPCA has teamed up with the Heart Foundation to encourage people to walk their dogs.  I absolutely hate it when people get dogs and don’t even bother walking them.  They sometimes think that having a big yard is enough – well guess what – a big yard is nothing but a big cage… please, take your dog for a walk… or don’t get a dog at all.

5. They are non-profit – These guys are volunteering their time and effort for a worthy cause – so should we!

Okay… now on to the great Cupcake Day pics!

Baci helping out by giving moral support...

Baci helping out by giving moral support...

The cupcakes all decorated for the big day!

The cupcakes all decorated for the big day!

Bizou, Misty and Digger all waiting for some leftovers

Bizou, Misty and Digger all waiting for some leftovers

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