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.