Thursday, October 30, 2008

Distractions

Hello Friends,

It's been a hard week, full of distractions which has meant my blog has suffered as a consequence, so sorry for that, I'll make up for it. There's been lots of Dive Planet meetings, lots of recipe testing and restaurant reviewing.

Many of you will be familiar with the "yum char" concept of dining, but for those of you who aren't it is a Chinese style of food and presentation which involves the wait staff coming around with trays of food, usually in small round baskets, constantly, which you either accept or decline. It's loud, intrusive and stimulating. I don't have a favourite yum char restaurant as it is fairly generic in food and service, the latter being usually poor, especially if you are looking for extras like drinks and condiments.

The reason I am bringing this up is I do enjoy going, it is a lunchtime concept, and I went yesterday. I wouldn't recommend going to discuss business as you are constantly interrupted. Having said all this I really do enjoy the variety and selection and you do get the best if you are in a group of three or more people, in fact the more the better, in that situation I get to sample my favourite chicken feet dish, prawn and coriander dumplings, rice flour roll with dried shrimp, spring onions and topped with soy and peanut sauce to mention just a few.

There are many yum char restaurants in Auckland and I have been to 8 of them, if any of you have a favourite one in Auckland or indeed anywhere in the world I would be pleased to hear about your experience.

Next blog I will discuss one of my favourite recipes, so ciao for now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chef Jules, Fishing and Friends


Hello Friends,
Reporting back on the fishing trip with my great friend Carlo, from Sapori d'italia. With only 4 hours sleep it was a very difficult start to the day. With all the goodies packed, I even managed to cook some breadcrumbed veal and make a thermos of freshly ground coffee, I made my way to Carlo's house. We then picked up our friend Luca from the hotel and made our way to the marina.
It turned out to be a beautiful day, and I got a nice singlet tan. I want to pre-empt the success of the fishing trip by saying that if you were to calculate the costs involved it wouldn't be a viable business proposition. I bet right about now your thinking we caught nothing, but no, your wrong, we caught one. Actually Luca caught a small shark that he got close to the boat, only to snap the line at the last minute. Carlo caught a Trevally, which he mercifully spiked in its brain then gutted, only to lose over the side when it " jumped "out of his hands, too much vino I suspect.
Yes Friends, it was Chef Jules that came up with the goods, a 50cm Snapper.
In Auckland you are never sure of the weather, but, we were very lucky as it improved throughout the day and the only event to mention, was at the end of the day, when berthing the boat. Luca fell off the pier, blaming Carlo, and witnessed by many amused onlookers, one even saying that Carlo saved Luca's life. That's probably overstating the case but it was hilarious them yelling at each other in Italian, creating even more attention. Great times, great friends. We had to supplement the lack of seafood by popping in to my favourite seafood market and buying some tiger prawns and some broadbill, well there is no broadbill in the Hauraki Gulf, or tiger prawns for that matter!
I cooked the snapper whole , on the chargrilled barbeque, stuffing the cavity with lemon, Italian parsley, salt and pepper and plenty of olive oil, for approximately 40 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking process. I was lucky enough to have removed and kept the large egg sack which I cooked for 5 minutes on the hot plate with a knob of butter and seasoning. This turned out to be the most delicious part of the meal, in my opinion. Well I'm going to catch up on some sleep now. Check out my snapper, ciao for now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fresh Fish

Hello friends,

A quick catchup as I will be up in 6 hours to go on a fishing trip, depending on the weather of course. I'm going with my good friend Carlo, from Sapori d'italia, and an associate over from Italy, hoping to catch lots of fish in Auckland's beautiful Hauraki Gulf.

As usual we will go well prepared, Salami, Proscuitto, Cheeses, Baguettes, Olives and a glass or two of wine. Crap, I suppose I should take some bait as well, yeah I'll grab some tomorrow.

So next time, I will be reporting back on all the fish we have caught and how we will cook it. If I don't mention anything about it next posting you'll know we didn't do too well.

Ciao for now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chef Jules Catchup

Hello friends,

I've been a bit slack lately just trying to get on top of a few things, talking to the Dive Planet website builders, really nice people but reminiscent of dealing with politicians which is quite topical at the moment with an election coming up in New Zealand in November.

Been doing the usual chef things. Bought some really nice lobsters yesterday, live naturally, we call them crayfish here, averaging 800gms each. I cooked them for 20 minutes, cut them in half lengthways, put some dill butter on each half and in the oven to reheat for 10 minutes. I then spooned some tomato flavoured hollandaise on top and garnished with fresh watercress. They turned out really nicely and everyone loved them.

Will be going fishing on Sunday, weather permitting with my good friend Carlo and an associate visiting from Italy so hopefully we will have plenty of fresh fish to cook, I'll keep you posted on that one, so ciao for now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Satisfaction



Hello Friends,
Another morning in the garden, filling the big hole left by the stump and digging another two holes and filling them with Strelitzia nicolai's, a nice palm type tree that will grow to hopefully 4 metres. Hard work but satisfying. Shower and on to seafood market, I like to go every day to check out any new fish that has come in.

Finally a chance to go out to dinner and relax this time trying a Thai Restaurant in Rothesay Bay, North Shore, Auckland, 5 minutes drive from where I live.

I find Thai food quite generic and unless you know what to order you are very often disappointed, but I think I nailed it this time, and ordered the above meal which consisted of boned roast duck, green beans, red capsicum in a fragant lemongrass red curry, you could really taste the coconut in this delicately flavoured sauce. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

No points lost for being overcharged $50 as I picked it up straight away and the maitre'd was so apologetic and nice, a keypad problem compounded by her not wanting to wear glasses.

It's encouraging to see you guys following the postings, feel free to comment. Ciao for now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just Another Day

Hello Friends;
I'm giving you an idea of how Chef Jules spends his time. Well today it started when Paul Morris, the researcher and developer of the Dive Planet website came round to my house for a meeting, with his chainsaw. Yes that's right it wasn't the usual boring meeting. We attacked a 10 metre tree and an old tree stump that had to go, and make way for new plantings. Things were going well but the stump took longer than expected, so a large tow rope and my car was used to to extricate the large stump from the ground, with shrieks of delight from Paul on final success. I'm sure my gearbox will never be the same again. I do enjoy gardening, sometimes, and think I could really get into it, perhaps when I'm 70.
Anyway, on to the seafood market, where I bought some beautifully fresh Groper fillets, by the way we call it hapuka in New Zealand, and live paddle crab from the tank. On preparation of the crab I got nipped by the claws on my hand but that was alright, it was no match for my trident knife, and I survived.
Back home I couldn't help myself and doing what I love most. I cooked a nice meal consisting of a flattened chicken breast stuffed with pea puree, feta cheese, roasted capsicum, rolled, and wrapped in bacon, then grilled and served on a bed of steamed bok choy. See photo below. It was great with a glass of Simon Gilbert, Australian Cabernet Rose 2005.
Soon I'll go into how I became involved with dive planet and providing my best seafood recipes for the site, so ciao for now.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Chef Jules Essential Pantry List

Farinaceous Products
-A selection of dried pastas including; fettuccine all'uovo (egg fettuccine), lemon infused pasta, squid ink
  infused pasta, angel hair pasta.
-Orzo
-Japanese Soba noodles
-Carnaroli rice, for all your risotto dishes
-Bomba rice, for paella
Pulses
-400g tins fagioli bianchi di spagna lessati (boiled butter beans)
-400g tins lenticchie lessate (boiled lentils)
-400g tins chick peas
Condiments, Spices and Preserves
-Smoked ground paprika, "la chinata" brand 70gm tin sweet or hot is great
-Saffron threads. I buy 1g boxes from my Indian food supplier, it is reasonable quality at a good price.
-Granulated bonito stock, available from Asian supermarkets, obviously dried, in sachet form,   usually written in Chinese with no English description, which makes it a little hard to find but does have a fish on the label. Makes a reasonable fish stock substitute.
-Flaky sea salt, I'm using a flaky sea salt from Marlborough, New Zealand.
-Rock salt
-Black whole peppercorns, for your grinder.
-Kalamata, greek black olives.
-Sicilian green olives.
-Capers in brine
-Caper berries in brine.
-Sun-dried tomatoes.
-Whole-peeled roma tomatoes, usually 400gm tins.
-Dried porcini mushrooms. Go for the smallest packet possible, from your local delicatessen or Italian importer.
-Cajun spice, small packet ground.
-80gram tin or jar of flat fillets of anchovy.
-Pacific Harvest, citrus seaweed seasoning, or seaweed powder.
-Pre-mixed Pickling Spice.
-Vanilla pods
-Star Anise
-Juniper Berries
-Kikkoman soy sauce
-Worcester sauce
Oils
-Extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
-Sunflower
-Black Truffle
-Sesame

Sunday, October 5, 2008

1.45 am New Zealand time Catch up.

Hello Friends;

I'm relaxing after a hard nights work in the kitchen, enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio. I have also been working on my recipes, and I would urge all of you to check out http://www.diveplanet.co.nz/ [cuisine section] its growing, and exciting recipes are planned, I'm working on a Snapper recipe served on a bed of of green pea risotto, topped with a dill hard butter sauce. It's gorgeous!
Also my next posting will include my pantry list, a list of ingredients you should have in your pantry to enhance your culinary experience and impress your friends.
So ciao for now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Beginnings

Hello my friends, being a master chef and new to the internet, is not a good combination, but I'm getting there and determined to share my thoughts, musings and restaurant experiences. I was born in Brisbane, Australia, and moved to New Zealand in 1970. After a short stint in Wellington, we all moved as a family to the North Shore, an east coast seaside district of Auckland.

At an early age my Mother noted that I wanted to be a "cooker". So here I am. I started in the kitchen when I was 15, washing dishes of course, and at 22 I was in partnership running my own restaurant, and at 25 , owned my own restaurant. I am still in the hospitality industry and also am a consultant for diveplanet.co.nz, handling the cuisine section, which I love.

I am a fully-trained chef to London City and Guild standards, and due to my step-father, who was Italian, I happily followed in a direction of Italian cuisne.

The hospitality industry is vibrant, full of strange people, that work hard and play hard, good food, wine and friendships.

So, there are lots of things for me to share, from my different associations, opinions of restaurants I visit, the markets, my favourite products, secrets and tips that have enabled me to have a succcessful career for over 30 years in this hard and unforgiving industry.

So keep posted.