Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fruits Of The Sea

Hello friends;
You all know my love of fresh seafood and scuba diving.
The photo shows the scallops which I simply opened, washed in sea water and drizzled with extra
virgin, cold pressed olive oil, chopped parsley, lemon juice and flaky sea salt(just before serving) Don't be put off by the scallops being raw, they are sweet, delicious and have a firmer texture than oysters.
On the left we have some skate wings and radicchio which were both barbecued and on the right my  octopus salad , a great summer dish.And of course a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio to wash it all down with.

Ciao for now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Honorary Chefs

Hello Friends;
Having attended my sisters birthday party the other day, with a large and varied selection of food, created and displayed by my brother-in-law, David, led me to think about what makes a great chef. Of course there are those that have never had formal training and still do a wonderful job, in fact I have known people in that category that are more accomplished than their qualified counterparts. The former mentioned, usually refer to those people as "cooks". I for one do not subscribe to such snobbery and pretension. What is important I feel, is a love and passion of food and cooking which David certainly has, my brother Barry is the same. People that love food,
wine and cooking for family and friends.

I think the essence of what makes a great chef is being able to cook for a large number of people at one time, obviously under extreme pressure and keeping quality and consistency of the finished product. Also knowing and experimenting with ingredients and products that create a harmonious taste sensation, after all that's how all the great recipes were created in the first place. Every now and then I like to test myself by creating a meal by using solely the ingredients I have on hand, ( I must have got that ability from my mother) Also knowing the structure and composition of the food available and cooking it appropriately to a high level, thus empowering you to be able to cook anything.
Here are some of the birthday dishes, created by David, which I felt moved to capture. The first photo is an oven baked salmon dish, garnished with dill and lemon, served on a bed of prawns with a dark coloured sauce made from the prawn shell, (Rick Stein apparently).
Next is a Roast Lamb Salad, combined with pomegranate and mint leaves. And below we have steamed Bok Choy with a combination of barbecued and crispy pork.

One of the many desserts available was Rocky Road which is marshmallow, chopped peanuts, smothered with melted chocolate and set.

Over the years I have come to realise that not everyone is comfortable cooking a meal for a chef. I want to reassure you that generally we are appreciative of someone else doing the cooking, once in a while, in fact I have known many chefs that have far too many take-out meals.
So I salute David and everyone like him, or her, that makes the effort. For that you deserve to be made Honorary Chefs.
Ciao for now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chef Jules Twice- Baked Cheese Souffle Recipe

Hello Friends;
As mentioned before I now have the Twice-Baked Cheese Souffle recipe for you. To be precise it's Goat Cheese Souffle. As any Chef will tell you, cooking souffles, in an a la carte restaurant situation can be tricky. There are a lot of factors involved in creating one which will rise sufficiently and stay risen. Well Chef Jules has taken the guess work out for you in a recipe which you can make at home and impress your diner guests.
Goats Cheese Souffle Ingredients
8 ceramic moulds (120-150ml)
100 grams butter
8o grams flour
500ml milk
120grams Goats Cheese, cubed
50grams grated Parmesan Cheese
4 eggs, separated
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
24 berry tomatoes
500 ml   Durian sauce
Preheat oven to 180 deg Celsius
Take 20g of the softened butter and grease the moulds. Place the rest of the butter in a small heavy bottomed saucepan and melt on a moderate heat. Add the flour and stir continuously with a wooden spoon without colour for approximately 8 minutes. Take off the heat. Heat the milk to just before boiling point and gradually add to the flour/butter. Stir to make a smooth, lump free paste and cook this out for 8 minutes taking care not to burn the bottom. Take off the heat, add both cheeses, stir till melted and combined. Cool slightly then stir in the egg yolks one at a time and add the pepper, parsley and salt if necessary. Take a baking tray big enough to hold all the moulds and boil a jug of water.
In a bowl whisk the egg whites till stiff and gently fold into the above mixture. Fill the greased moulds and stand them in the baking tray. Gently pour the boiling water into the tray till it comes half way up the sides and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Once out of the oven they will deflate, but don't worry. Cool slightly, loosen from the moulds and turn out into a greased baking tray. Pour over the sauce, return to the oven and cook for 15 minutes till puffed and golden. Serve immediately and pour some of the sauce over each souffle. Garnish with lightly roasted berry tomatoes and parsley.
Chef Jules Tips
After the first cooking process the souffles can be cooled, covered and refrigerated until needed, after which just follow the final steps.

A tomato based sauce, i.e my  Napoletana, can be used instead of the durian sauce or simply cream.

Separate eggs carfully so that there is no yolk present in the whites and ensure utensils are clean and free of grease before whisking.

Fold in the stiff egg whites into the mixture gently with a slotted spoon just before filling the moulds and placing in the oven.

Thats it, hope you enjoy it, ciao for now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chef Jules Durian Fruit Recipes

Hello Friends;

Chef Jules always keeps his promises, so I now have the Durian recipes for you to try. I want to let you know that all the recipes I share with you, are tried and tested, many, hundreds of times, over my 30 year career. These Durian fruit recipes, however, I created very recently and in both cases am extremely pleased with the result. To learn more about the Durian fruit go to my post titled "Chef Jules King Of Fruits and Luca"

We will start with the Durian Dessert recipe first. I have called it Durian Bavarois, although, technically it's a cross between Bavarois and Panacotta, light and fluffy with that rich, distinctive Durian tangy after taste.

Durian Bavarois

Makes 8 portions


200 grams durian flesh

200ml milk

6ooml cream

1 vanilla pod, cut in half, length ways

2 tablespoons sugar

10 grams of powdered gelatine

3 egg whites


Place the gelatine in a small cup and pour over 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Stir till dissolved and keep warm.

Add the Durian flesh to a saucepan, gently heat and stir till smooth. Pour 400ml of the cream, milk, vanilla pod, sugar into the saucepan and bring to the boil. Take off the heat, scrape out the vanilla, and discard the pod. Blend with a stick blender, return to the boil and add the gelatine. Take off the heat, strain into a large bowl and stir occasionally till cool and the gelatine is just starting to set. Meanwhile, lightly oil 8, 150ml moulds.

Whisk the remaining cream in a bowl till lightly set and mix into the above.

In another bowl whisk the egg whites till stiff peaks are formed. With a slotted spoon gently fold in the egg whites to the mixture and spoon into the moulds, cover with cling film and refrigerate for a few hours.

To serve, warm the mould and turn it out onto a plate, decorate with tamarillo coulis and serve.

Chef Jules Tips

A 2kg fresh Durian will yield approximately 1kg of flesh. Some Asian fruiterers sell the flesh, prepacked and frozen at half the cost of the fresh, whole fruit. As always I recommend buying fresh.

When whipping the egg whites, ensure that there is no egg yolk present and that the utensils used are clean and free of any fat or grease.

When folding in the egg whites use a slotted spoon, folding and shaking gently, no tapping the sides or top of the bowl. This creates a very light and fluffy mousse.

Durian Sauce

This is a very easy and quick sauce which I used for a beautiful Goats cheese souffle. The combination worked very well.


200 grams Durian flesh

20 grams butter

Teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

200ml vegetable stock

400ml cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Italian parsley, chopped


Place the butter and oil in a saucepan and heat till foaming. Add the durian and cook over a low heat, stirring and mashing the flesh. Add the vegetable stock and cook for 5 minutes, reducing slightly. Slowly pour in the cream, stirring continuously and reduce to a sauce consistency. Add the seasoning and parsley to taste.

Chef Jules tips

You will find this recipe requires quite a bit of salt to bring out the savoury flavour of the Durian.

This sauce could work well with King Prawns. Just thin it out with more stock and perhaps add some Kaffir lime leaves. Gently cook the raw prawns in the sauce and serve on a bed of fragrant Basmati rice.

Hope you enjoy these recipes. Next post I will bring you my never fail, twice baked goats cheese souffle recipe. This is one which will impress your dinner guests.
Ciao for now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chef Jules, King of Fruits and Luca

Hello Friends;
Before you all get the wrong idea, Chef Jules is not the king of fruits, what I am referring to is the Durian. This amazing fruit grows in the South East Asia region and is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and also Brunei. It has a formidable spiky outer casing and must be one of the few fruits that can be fatal, i.e, it's not recommended to have a nap under one of these trees. When you handle a Durian, which vary between 1 and 4 kilos, you begin to understand the fact that every year there are fatalities from falling fruit. I purchased the Durian from my local Asian fruiterer in Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand. At approximately NZ $15 per kg, it's not a particularly cheap fruit. Some interesting facts that set this fruit apart are as follows, 65% water content (very low for a fruit), 22% carbohydrates, 7% proteins, high in fat and many different minerals, vitamins, notably the B- complex group.

There is one aspect of this fruit that can not be denied and that is, it's unusual smell. I regularly frequent the before mentioned fruiterer and as I entered one day, my senses were alerted. Observing other visitors to the shop it was interesting to see the varied reactions at coming across the Durian, from shrieks of delight to shrieks of revulsion. This polarization pricked my curiosity so I bought one. Little did I know my life would never be the same again. Placing the precious cargo in my vehicle and going about my business, in and out of the car, I was never in any doubt of its presence, rather like a silent baby with a soiled nappy on a hot day. Every time I re-entered the car I was assaulted by the odour and my brain was trying to process the information my nose was delivering. What was that smell ?, pleasant yet strangely disturbing, familiar yet foreign, I struggled to describe its aroma. I finally returned home and placed it on the kitchen bench. It usually takes me a while to get myself together in the morning, but not anymore with Miss Durian in the house, it was like having a manic house keeper cleaning all surfaces with my well used gym socks. On returning to the house from being away all day, BANG, there it was again ! I describe the smell as being sweet, over ripe paw paw with a hint of cheese. It comes as no surprise to learn that in Thailand, Durian is banned from many public places including hotels and buses, due to the pungent smell. Cutting 10mm into the spiky outer and pulling it apart reveals 5 light yellow cambers or pods, which should be carefully lifted out and the large brown seeds removed. The flesh is now ready for eating, which I describe as again, overripe paw paw, mild cheese with a faint after taste of onion thrown in for good measure. The texture, especially when heated is very custard-like with a glutinous smoothness that I found incredible. The brown chestnut sized seeds can also be eaten, once boiled, roasted or fried. My brother in law, no stranger to fast foods, in a moment of verbal creativity, described it as thus, "a cheese, onion and pineapple toasted sandwich". There are those whose descriptions are not so complimentary, rotting, decomposing matter, vomit and even worse !

I have created 2 recipes using this wonderful, amazing and unique fruit, one being a savoury sauce, which I used with a goats cheese souffle and the other is a dessert, which I called Durian Bavarois, which I will share with you in my next post.

Incidentally my dog, Luca was drawn like a magnet to the discarded husk and eventually had to prise it off him as I wasn't sure the effect it would have on his digestion.

Ciao for now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chef Jules appetite for the unusual

Hello Friends,

Sometimes I have to keep my passion for food and my experimental nature under control, and unleash it at the appropriate moment. I had some guests over for dinner the other night and decided to start with an entree of rabbit ragout combined with mafalde pasta, which is long, broad ribbon with a curly edge, similar to lasagnette. For the main, I decided on beef tongue, capers, with a dubonet jus and served with fresh artichokes.
The Rabbit was tender, flavoursome and went down reasonably well, by most people. However, once the tongues identity was exposed, it was down to my friend and myself to consume it. Well you can't win it all. It was absolutely gorgeous and I would urge you to try it. Just as an aside and speaking as a male, I would have to say, without putting too fine a point on it, that if your girl friend or partner was happy to at least try the tongue, she's a keeper. There's a lot to be said for having an experimental nature. I was soo impressed I will now give you my Beef Tongue Recipe.

Feeds 2 hungry guys, lunch and dinner for 3 days, or 10-12 adventurous people
2 beef tongues, approximately 2kg

pickling spice

salt, pepper

3 bay leaves

50g capers, washed and dried

4 fresh artichokes (small size)

1 lemon

1tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

4 parsley stalks

30ml extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed)

500ml beef stock

50ml dubonet
40g butter

Wash the tongues, place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, take off the heat and run under cold water, i.e change the water. Cover again with warm water and add the salt, pepper, pickling spice, bay leaves. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer very gently for 3 1/2 hours.

While they are cooking, prepare the artichokes;

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the parsley, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon pickling spice and half a lemon. Cut off the stems close to the leaves and cut off 20mm across the top of the leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes and refresh under cold water. Drain, cut in half length ways and scrap away the furry inside part. Cut in half again and drizzle with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Now prepare the capers;

In a fry pan add 1/2 the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, heat till foaming, add the capers and cook till crispy. Drain on a paper towel and keep to one side.

For the sauce, reduce the stock by half, add the dubonet and keep warm.

Preheat oven to 180deg Celsius.

Once cooked, remove the beef tongues from the cooking liquor and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Peel the skin off and trim the dark meat from the underside of the tongue and cut into 10mm slices.

In a baking tray add the dubonet jus and arrange the tongue on top. Place in the oven and heat for 20 minutes. To serve, take a large platter and place the warmed artichokes in the middle, arrange the tongue slices, overlapping, around them. Add the rest of butter to the tray, mix into the sauce and pour over the tongue. Sprinkle the capers and parsley over the top and serve immediately. I really hope you give my beef tongue recipe a try.

Chef Jules Tips
In New Zealand, it's becoming very difficult to get hold of tongue without pre-ordering it. You are more likely to find it in the freezer section of butcher shops. As always I recommend buying fresh, however, if you follow my suggested method of defrosting i.e, 24 hours in the fridge, probably longer for a large, dense cut of meat, the finished meal, in this instance will be quite acceptable.

The pickling spice can be purchased from supermarkets and contains cinnamon, mustard seed, allspice, dill seed, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander, juniper berries, mace, cardamon and chilli.I specified using small artichokes, i.e smaller than a tennis ball, because there is no furry part to remove once cooked and therefore a little quicker to prepare.

Another sauce option would be a caper cream sauce, using a chicken or veal veloute base, but I much prefer the jus for this dish.

Reveal the meals contents after everyone has eaten it.

Hope you enjoy it, ciao for now!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chef Jules at large

Hello Friends;

It was another beautiful day in Auckland, New Zealand and to
make the most of it I decided to conduct a restaurant review by the water. After a 15 minute drive to Devonport, a small coastal town, a 10 minute ferry ride into downtown Auckland, then a short stroll, we arrived at Euro Restaurant, 22 Princes Wharf. It is self described as a place the "glitterati go to be seen and not heard"and New Zealand's first restaurant to make the worlds' top 60 according to Conde Nast magazine. Euro is owned by Richard Sigley and is one of approximately 7 restaurants/ bars, in Auckland and Wellington that are part of the Nourish Group. Simon Gault, who has quite a high profile, is the groups Master Chef and oversees kitchen operations and puts his stamp on each.

There was was evidence glitterati, albeit pseudo, unfortunately close by and audible. A couple in their 30's with a 6 month old baby and the lady's parents. Everything about the mother was designer, including the baby. I couldn't help wondering what route the infant had taken to emerge into this world and finally decided it must have been an elected cesarean. I have never seen a woman juggle a large glass of wine and a baby's bottle with such aplomb, the performers of cirque du soleil would have been impressed.This baby was never going to interrupt a lifestyle that they have become accustomed to and there is a part of me that admires that philosophy, anyway back to the food.

I must admit, more than the reputation, stunning location, and tastefully executed decor I was lured by the Alaskan King Crab, which I have eaten overseas. After seeing a documentary by Discovery Channel titled "Deadliest Catch" a few years ago, I was interested in the seafood. The documentary followed the lives of the fishermen that risk life and limb to catch these crabs and is clearly one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.A. There are 300 fatalities per 100.000 people and over 80% are caused by drownings or hypothermia, not to mention crippling injuries caused by gear and heavy machinery. Put another way the fatality rate is 90 times greater than that of the average worker. The crabs are fished off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutians Islands in the Bering sea. Due to over fishing, warmer seas and increases of predatory fish creating imbalances, there are strict quotas and a very limited season, at one point as low as 4 days, but now 2-4 weeks in the months of October and January are usual.

I ordered the special crab platter, which was served with 3 different infused butters. Chipotle, ginger and garlic, all of which could have done with a stronger flavour. The crab was served with french fries, which I feel detracted from the dish, a gourmet potato salad with mustard aioli would have been a better choice. It was well cooked and helpful to have the shell partially removed but the flesh had suffered from the freezing process and I certainly would not order it again. I note that they had crab cake listed as an entree, which might have been a better choice. A plum tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto pizza was also ordered, which was pretty good, along with a side salad. Although the food was average it wouldn't put me off returning as I know these guys can cook and perhaps next time I will try the "six course tasting menu", and advertised at NZ $65, seemingly good value. Actually I was surprised at how reasonably priced the whole meal was. The front of house staff were attentive, given we were one of two tables seated outside( the majority were inside) and very professional.

With the meal I chose a bottle of I Masoletti 2007 Pinot Grigio from Venice, which was unlike any Italian Pinot Grigio I have tasted. Darker in colour, sweeter and a mature taste, more like a Viognier I felt, but pleasant enough.

My score for Euro is 7/10, a disappointing score,
let down by the Alaskan King Crab, but as I said I'll be back.

Well that's all for today, so ciao for now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chef Jules Birthday

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Chef Jules blog. I had intended to bring you a restaurant review, but it didn't quite work out as planned. On arrival at the Chinese restaurant it was determined that they were serving shark fin.  I personally do not condone or support the importation, harvesting or sale of shark fin. Once this was conveyed to the owner, we left.

I have no doubt that if the information was widely known concerning the barbaric practice of shark finning, the market for such products would be socially unacceptable and the people dealing in them found to be morally repugnant. I urge you to check out my "Food for Thought" post.

On a happier note, I have created a delicious recipe of stuffed baby squid tubes. Basically the tubes are stuffed with pureed snapper, scallops, anchovies,capers, shallow fried and served with a saffron, white wine cream reduction.

It's now my birthday, 27 July, and it was a beautiful day in Auckland, New Zealand, as the photo of my local beach shows, not bad for the winter season, 16 degrees Celsius. At night it has been a cool 2 degrees however.

I want to share a really nice, easy recipe with you now. It's great for luncheon, part of an antipasto or as a starter and I often serve it for family gatherings. Here goes;

10 slices of ciabatta bread

200g ricotta cheese

1 table spoon toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper

20 small vine ripened tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6 fresh basil leaves, torn or rough chopped

40g grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place the tomatoes in an oven tray, season and sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and cook for 6 minutes, till soft but still holding their shape.

Turn the oven on to grill, and preheat to 220 degrees. toast the bread on both sides and drizzle with olive oil. Now prepare the topping by mixing the cheeses, seasoning, basil, pine nuts and oil in a bowl.

To assemble, spread the cheese mixture over the bread and top with the tomatoes, 2 per slice and place back in the oven to warm, only 5 minutes, and serve. I enjoyed this with a very pleasant a bottle of Italian Rose, Castel Del Monte(Rivera) 2007.
Ciao for now

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chef Jules Hibernation

Hello Friends;
I have been rather slack lately but have resolved to make postings on a weekly basis. For myself it's always been more important to provide quality content, nice photos, than a constant stream of mindless diatribe, or crap.
I have been very busy, in business and pleasure terms. I will touch on the pleasurable side, that being Fishing, Diving and of course cooking. Tairua is a small town on New Zealand's East Coast of the North Island, Coromandel Peninsula to be precise. We stayed with Linda and Tony Lanzi, a great couple who own Tairua Dive & Fishinn. We headed out from the marina, over the bar and travelled approximately 28 kms to one of his favourite fishing spots. Within an hour of jigging we had 3 magnificent King Fish, averaging 17 kilos each. We then headed to the Aldermann Islands and had a dive from which we bagged some Crayfish. . When we returned to shore Tony very kindly cleaned and portioned the Kingfish for us to take home, and if time permitted he would have barbecued some as well ! Tairua Dive & Fishinn is a company I highly recommend, and Tony's maritime experience and hospitality is second to none.

On to matters culinary, Prosciutto! I came across
some really good prosciutto the other day, which as the photo shows, I combined with fresh figs, provolone and stuffed vine leaves. This is a great way of starting a meal,"antipasto style". For those of you that aren't familiar with prosciutto, it is air cured leg of pork. Not all prosciutto is created equal however, and only the product that carries the ducal crown emblem signifies a tradition and history that goes back 2000 years, and that it is the original product of the region. Prosciutto crudo di parma is processed from selected, prime hogs of a minimum weight of 144 kgs and minimum age of 9 months. The meat is treated, spiced and seasoned for 2 months under pressing. It is then washed several times to remove the salt, and then hung in a controlled environment for 18-24 months. The unique micro climate of Parma, encompassing the regions of Tuscany and Emilia (Central and Northern Italy), gives Parma ham world wide acclaim and recognition. Consistency and quality control is achieved by a consortium of farmers and producers, totalling approximately 200 enterprises.
I purchased the proscuitto di Palma from Carlo at Sapori d'italia , and retails for $200 per kg (us $126 ), already sliced and layered. Whole and half legs are available at approximately $80 per kg (us $50 ). As the ham must be sliced paper thin, unless you have a commercial slicer I recommend buying pre-sliced. Sapori d'Italia is a great company and  has a wonderful range of top quality Italian wines, so follow the above link to see more.

Ciao for now.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Zealand Lamb, Cute, Prolific and Tasty.

Hello Friends;

In New Zealand Lamb is an important part of the export industry and worth approximately 3 billion dollars per year.With 9 sheep to every person, they are a familiar sight in rural New Zealand. We export to 95 countries, Europe receiving 51% of our export volume and half of that goes to the United Kingdom. China is an emerging market and with the possible volumes involved is a very exciting prospect, as well as promising signs of a free trade deal with the U.S/ Obama administration, but its not all that rosy. Despite lamb prices climbing 6.4% to a new high and continuing a rising trend since mid 2007, low prices for more than a decade have resulted in a shift to farming deer, beef, dairy and forestry. This trend coupled with harsh climatic conditions, i.e, droughts, has seen the national flock fall from 57 million sheep to 34million since 1990, numbers not seen since the 1950's. Obviously the export market is vulnerable to currency fluctuations and the sizable gains made for lamb have been erased by the rise in the New Zealand dollar.
New Zealand lamb has a very good reputation and can be found in many top international restaurants and supermarkets. Here is a lamb recipe which is simple, quick to prepare and very tasty.

The recipe serves 2, and is as follows;

2 lamb racks, skin on and approximately 260grams each.

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.

2 sprigs of lemon thyme, or rosemary.

2 anchovy fillets

Freshly ground pepper and flaky sea salt.

100ml olive oil

400g tin of boiled lentils (Divella) 240g net weight.

100g round green beans

Preheat your oven to 200 deg Celsius. Season lamb and lift up the skin flap and stuff with the anchovy, thyme and garlic. Pour half the oil in a roasting tray and place the lamb, skin side up in the tray. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, reducing the temperature to 180 deg after 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to rest.

In a small pot of boiling, salted water, add green beans and cook for 2 minutes, add contents of lentil tin and bring back to the boil, take off the heat and strain. Put in the lamb roasting dish and mix in the cooking juices.
Arrange the lentils/ beans on serving plate and place the rack on top, serve immediately.

Chef Jules Tips
Roast the lamb with skin on to keep the meat moist while cooking. You can always remove it after for the fat conscious diners.

If using tinned lentils or beans I like to reheat them by plunging into boiling salted water, this also removes the thickened brine.

Instead of Lentils you could use mashed potato, mushroom risotto or polenta.

Just a reminder that I am continually adding to the Pantry List, click on pantry photo, above right.

Well that's it till next time so ciao for now!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Food for thought!

Hello Friends;
Food is my passion, and there are times when I really enjoy testing my skills by creating a meal from what I have available or the simplest of ingredients. Unfortunately for many people this method of cooking is a necessity and a daily occurrence. Most cultures have favourite recipes that are derived from a era when the general masses of people were extremely poor, relative to today's standards and expectations.
I have to say that some of the best meals I have had has been of an ethnic, home made nature. Everyone is aware enjoyment of food is the result of harvesting a crop or killing an animal, but I believe that this process should be done with care, consideration and in the case of animals, as humanely as possible. To cull humanely and utilise every part, for example as the Italians do with their pork, is surely the least we can do as guardians of the planet and top of the food chain. I am by no means a greenie, but I do recognise that the foods we source must be sustainable, lets face it, no one wants to be responsible for the extinction of a species. Which brings me to the point of this article.
Shark fining is a process whereby sharks are caught and their dorsal, pectoral, and tail fins are cut off. In most cases the shark is returned to the sea while still alive and endures a slow death of up to 6 days. 173 million sharks per year are processed this way, mainly for the Asian markets insatiable appetite for shark fin soup. Hong Kong is the worlds largest shark fin trading centre and accounts for 50-75% of all fins traded and it is a growing trade.To compound the problem sharks grow slowly, mature late and give birth to their pups after a long gestation period. This barbaric practice is, made worse by the fact that the fins represent 5% of the sharks body weight, talk about wastage! With 110 species listed as threatened and another 95 as near threatened we must stop and consider whether we need shark fin soup from the local Chinese restaurant. I guess the US$700 per kg that sets of fins can fetch, is an incentive for fishermen to target sharks. Demand however dictates the price, so vote with your feet I say.

Whaling is another example of financial reward and tradition blinding nations to the serious consequences of their actions. Japan, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark are still involved in whaling, often under the guise of research. I have a video clip which I want you to see, entitled "Speed Cooking" which is again relevant to this post.

Just as an aside, the oceans apex predators i.e fish which are typically larger and at top of the food chain tend to contain a high level of mercury. Shark, Swordfish, Broadbill and Marlin fit into this category, and as such are not recommended to eat more than 2 portions per week. Whale and Dolphin are considerably higher still! And I was surprised to learn that Dolphin is still being hunted in parts of Japan, at the rate of approximately 23,000 per year, and sold in supermarkets. A 100gram pack which contains a balance of meat, skin and fat, at the time of writing costs approximately 170 yen or US1.72 I will leave it up to you to make up your own mind, after all it's just food for thought.

I promise the next Chef Jules post will be more light hearted and have one of my favourite recipes, so Ciao for now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thinking like a Chef

Hello Friends;
It's amazing, as a chef you're always looking at food sources and products wherever you go and often in the most unlikely places. Whilst at my physiotherapist, enduring the painful and agonising manipulation of my shoulder injury and with nothing else to do but gaze out the window, my attention was drawn to two magnificent fig trees, needless to say I now have an abundant supply of figs, when in season.

The same can be said of herbs, rosemary and fennel to name a couple, you begin to rekindle and fine tune your hunter gather skills. It's just as well there are no wild boar, deer, ostrich or goat roaming around suburbia!

Well the figs were put to good use.
Firstly I made a late night meal using pork loin cutlets, which I shallow fried in olive oil, and sage.
Halfway through the cooking process I added the quartered figs, pinch of brown sugar, a knob of butter, chopped garlic, teaspoon of of balsamic vinegar and white wine. Arrange the pork on a serving platter, top with the figs and drizzle with the sauce. I garnished with watercress dressed with extra virgin olive oil. Very quick and easy!
Yesterday I made a fresh fig tart using an old family recipe which I will share with you now.
Fig Tart Recipe
Prepare the pastry as follows;
200g flour
50g sugar
125g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 egg
Sieve the flour and salt. Add the cubed and room temperature butter.
Incorporate the flour and butter by rubbing with your fingertips, should be a sandy texture. Whisk the egg and sugar, make a well in the flour and add. Mix gently to form a paste. Keep cool and allow to rest. Grease a 26-28cm tart tin, preferably a loose bottom one, roll out the dough and line the tin. Prick the bottom with a fork and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and bake "blind" the pastry case for 15 minutes.

Fig Tart Filling
18 fresh figs, wash well, cut off stem and cut a cross on the bottom, flatten them out gently.
260g ground almonds
60g plain flour
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 vanilla pod, cut length ways and seeds removed
1 tablespoon brandy, strega or galliano. Choose just 1, not all 3.
3 sprigs of lemon thyme
grated zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 170 c (fan bake)
Whisk the softened butter and sugar till white, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking continuously. Add the rest of the ingredients and fold in gently. Spread mixture into tart case, push figs into case, cross side up and bake in the oven for 1 hour or until centre is set.

Chef Jules Tips
Wash the figs very well as the birds enjoy them too!

If you make a sugar syrup with the juice and rind of 2 oranges, more lemon thyme, boil for 15minutes and drizzle over figs just before placing in the oven it enhances the flavour.

Serve the tart warm with a dollop of cream fraiche.

Hope you enjoy this my friends and let me know if there is any particular recipe or food you would like to know about or cook. And remember to be conscious of whats available around you, and utilise fresh produce when in season.

Ciao for now.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2009 Welcome to all !

Hello Friends,
It's been a while since my last post. For those who have just joined me, I am Chef Jules and have been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years.
I've been busy creating recipes, reviewing, and of course entertaining.

Despite the negativity concerning the economy in New Zealand and globally, I feel 2009 is going to be a good year. Lets make it a good one, plenty of gourmet food and wine I say ! 
I had some friends over last week and decided to serve lamb sweetbreads as an entree, followed by ossobuco on a bed of risotto, with a side dish of green flat beans in garlic butter.

Now, there is a bit of confusion among people as to what sweetbreads are. Basically they fit into the offal category and are glands located in 2 sites of the body, connected by a tube. The Thymus sweetbreads are elongated in shape and located in the neck region. The pancreatic sweetbreads are more spherical and are located closer to the heart. The later are more flavoursome and tender, in my opinion. Unfortunately when I purchased them, they came in a mixed bag, so I got both types. If you have the opportunity ask your butcher for the Pancreatic sweetbreads.
The Sweetbread recipe is as follows;
800-1000grams Lamb sweetbreads
Cracked pepper, salt, parsley stalks, 3 bay leaves, 1/2 lemon
500ml chicken veloute sauce
100grams butter
40ml cream, 1 egg yolk whisked together
2 tablespoons capers
24 button mushrooms, "Turned" or decorated (optional)
Tablespoon chopped parsley
Tray of flour

Prepare the veloute sauce following the standard recipe. In a medium sized pot, fill with water and add the pepper, salt to taste, parsley stalks, bay leaves, and lemon. Bring to the boil, add the sweetbreads, bring to the boil again, skim, remove from the heat and leave in liquid to cool.
In a large fry pan add 1/2 the butter, heat till foaming and just starting to turn brown, add the drained and floured sweetbreads cook for 2 minutes per side, remove from pan. Place remaining butter in pan and add the capers and mushrooms, cook till softened
Reheat veloute, add the drained sweetbreads, mushrooms and bring to simmer, take off the heat and add the yolk and cream, do not reboil. Serve immediately and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Chef Jules Tips
If fresh sweetbreads are unavailable and you are set on creating this dish, frozen are usually available. Just remember as with all frozen foods, defrost in the fridge overnight, it lessens the detrimental effect freezing has on the meat fibres.

Make sure the veloute is not too thick, if so, then thin with chicken stock at the reheating stage.
Well that's it for now, ciao !