Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chef Jules Is Back Along With Summer!

Beautiful Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Buffalo
 Mozzarella and Figs drizzled with x.v olive oil
Hello Friends,
Chef Jules is back, and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays. A lot has happened since my last posting. A trip to the Chatham Islands, to see my friend Val Croon of Hotel Chathams, and sample the unique landscape, culture and of course the local produce. Being a seafood lover, it was nirvana for me, abundant crayfish, Paua (Abalone), Blue Cod, Kina (sea eggs) and much more! I will talk more about the trip in the future, but suffice to say it was quite an experience, made great by Val's hospitality.It's always great to get back to Bosco Verde Epsom and try out some new recipes with things you learn along the way.

Chatham Island Great White Shark playing with our tuna,
 10 minutes before I jumped in the cage.

I made numerous dishes from the Chatham Island produce, just a couple are below. Firstly there is an eye fillet tournedo, wrapped in bacon on a bed of tomato, fennel compote and topped with Chatham Island crayfish/rock lobster tail and drizzled with hollandaise sauce. Below that, I have breaded Abalone, simply served with lemon and Pinot Grigio.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chef Jules Duck Recipe and Savory TV

Hello Friends;
We are in the middle of the duck hunting season in this part of the world, (May to June). In New Zealand we have more than 20 species of game birds, introduced by our European settlers. Mallard ducks and the Canada Geese do particularly well and are well established. Bearing this in mind I have one of my favourite Duck recipes for you. I could pretend that I shot them, but I confess that the Ducks were procured, minus the buckshot, from my Asian butcher,from whom I also buy a few other products for Bosco Verde Restaurant Epsom. Duck is suited to either long, slow cooking or fast and served medium rare, rather like calamari, and what I like about this recipe is that everything is utilised, even the duck fat! Chef Jules following duck recipe is for 8 people.
For my Duck Recipe you will need,
2 whole Ducks(approximately 2kg's each)
Mirepoix of veg (1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped)
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of pickling spice                                                          
6 parsley stalks
1 teaspoon of salt
200ml fresh orange juice
100ml soy sauce
2 oranges, segmented, or one 300g tin of mandarin segments
100ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier liqueur
30g butter
Wash and pat the ducks dry, season and stuff each cavity with the mirepoix.
Take a pot large enough to to fit both ducks, side by side and add water to just below the top of the ducks. Add the bay leaves, pickling spice, salt and parsley stalks. Bring to the boil, cover with the lid and simmer for 1 hour, turn the ducks over, add the soy sauce and orange juice and continue simmering for another hour, take off the heat and leave to cool in the liquid.
Take out the ducks, remove the carcass, lay flat, cover and refrigerate. Place pot with the stock back on the stove and reduce by half, strain and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat fan grill oven to 180 deg celcius. Remove the fat from the stock and keep to one side. place the stock in a small saucepan and reduce by half, add the mandarin segments and cointreau and reduce to a sauce consistency. Take a roasting tray and put 1 ladle spoon of the stock on the bottom and place the duck on top, season, drizzle with a little olive oil and reheat for 30 minutes, making sure the skin is crispy. Reheat the sauce and finish with a knob of butter, stirring off the heat until incorporated. Portion the duck as required and pour over the sauce.
I served the duck with vichy carrots, fondant potatoes, sauteed, just to colour using 1 tablespoon of the duck fat, and baked, using 1/3 duck stock. Some garlic flat beans also accompanied the meal.
I finished the meal with  Pears stuffed with dried fruit, walnuts, aged cheddar and baked with apple cider, fantastic! I did change the recipe slightly by substituting the aged cheddar for blue castello cheese in the stuffing, and using the aged cheddar for the cut top of the pear, melting part at the end.

Chef Jules Tips
This is a very easy recipe as it's broken into 2 stages, just takes a bit of planning.
Normally, I would use fresh oranges, but to make this recipe easy for you, I suggest using tinned mandarins.
I prefer to have the sauce naturally thickened by reducing the stock, rather than using a starch product, may appear thin for some, however more flavoursome.
With the duck I served a lovely New Zealand Pinot Noir, Craggy Range, Central Otago 2008. For the baked pear, Rose Tree Cottage, Noble Riesling 2007, from Malborough which worked very well with the dried fruits present in the recipe and wasn't overly sweet, with a nice citrus blossom bouquet.
Hope you all enjoy the recipes.
Ciao for now!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chef Jules visits Bracu Restaurant

Hello Friends,
I had an invite to a very special 85th birthday party luncheon the other day, held at Bracu restaurant. The restaurant, a Kauri Villa, renovated in 2005, by Ivan and Branka Simunovich, is located in 43 Main Road Bombay, rural south Auckland. With over 40.000 olive trees on the estate it is the largest privately owned olive grove in New Zealand, and makes for a very pleasant vista whilst dinning. The name "Bracu" is derived from the Adriatic Island of Brac, and is the third largest, (48km long, 14km wide) in the Croatian group of Islands, and is where the owners originate.
Our large group were seated on the veranda and given a 2 course set menu. To start we were given  freshly baked bread, accompanied by their own extra virgin olive oil and was enjoyed by all. The oil was so good I ended up buying 2 bottles to take home, so I guess it was a good marketing strategy. To follow we had a choice of;
Pan Fried Scallops with tomato passata, basil oil and black olive crumbs, or
Grilled Scotch Fillet Steak cafe de Paris butter, watercress salad and hand cut chips, or
Crisp Roast Duck Breast with baby beetroot, orange and watercress salad and apple dressing, or
Grilled Fillet of Snapper with roast garlic, chorizo, white bean, steamed clams, pea cassoulet and olive tapenade.

I chose the Snapper dish, which read very well, the ingredients, individually, are favourites of mine and together work very well and was cooked to perfection.
I also sampled the duck which tasted very good but was let down by not being crispy enough. The main courses were served with Bracu garden salad, Banyuls dressing and Sumac, rosemary fried potatoes. Overall the meals were great, the setting fabulous and the service very attentive without being obtrusive.
The wines, which I had tried before, didn't disappoint. 2008 Cable Bay Merlot Malbec Rose from Waiheke Island and 2008 Atarangi Pinot Noir, "Crimson" from Martinborough. Prices are $55 and $68 respectively.
We all finished with a special birthday cake for this very special occasion. Chocolate cake layered with berry mousse served with gelato and fresh berries, which was very nice and reminded me to update my chocolate mousse recipe at Bosco Verde Restaurant Epsom.
The 2 course luncheon menu is $65 and the 3 course is $75. The olive oils I purchased were natural extra virgin olive oil and lemon infused extra virgin olive oil, both 250ml and $13.75, $15.40 respectively. Both oils are extremely well priced considering the quality. Looking at the dinner menu, you will find entrees around $20 and mains averaging $36 with side dishes i.e. potatoes, vegetables $7.50 each.
A special thanks to Jenny, Peter and the birthday girl, Mini for a great day.
Ciao for now

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chef Jules Vitello Tonnato Recipe

Hello Friends;
I want to share one of favourite veal recipes with you, it's really easy and quick if you have all the ingredients at your disposal. Infact it's so quick to prepare and cook that I often have it as a late night meal. Vitello Tonnato, or veal with tuna, is a great combination, and this is Chef Jules a la carte version of this popular recipe, and one which I occasionally serve at Bosco Verde Restaurant Epsom. Traditionally Vitello Tonnato is served cold, using a different cut of veal to that used in my recipe, and a mayonnaise based sauce.
When talking of Veal, different names are given related to the age and what the animal was fed, and can become confusing for some. Basically Veal is produced from very young cattle, mostly male calves and the meat should be very pale, finely textured and lean. The fact that the animal has never had the chance to frolic in green pastures and taste the green grass, and often as a consequence, is confined to a small space, has surrounded the veal farming industry with controversy from animal welfare and animal rights activists. For my views on animal welfare and sustainability, check out my "Food For Thought" posting.
A few names you may come across when searching for veal include, Non-formula-fed veal, Red or Grain-fed veal, Rose veal or Free-raised veal and shouldn't be confused or passed off as white veal. For myself, veal only deserves to be called veal if the calf is under 30 kilos  and approximately 2 weeks old when slaughtered and has had a diet consisting of entirely milk or milk products. This veal is known as Bobby Veal or White Veal.
Vitello Tonnato Recipe Ingredients (serves 2)
320g White Veal loin, cut into 6 pieces and flattened to 8mm thickness
160g yellowfin tuna, cut into 6 pieces, 5mm thickness
6 caperberries, stalk removed and sliced
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon hot English mustard
50ml white wine
30ml olive oil
knob of butter
250ml cream
6 teaspoons salmon "caviar"
1/2 cup of flour, for dusting
salt and pepper
Method for Vitello Tonnato
In a large frypan, add the oil, butter and heat until foaming. Place the flour in a tray and coat both sides of the veal, shake off excess and place in the pan, season and cook 2 minutes per side, turning once. Remove from the pan and keep to one side. Add the garlic, caperberries, cook for 1 minute, add the wine and reduce, then the mustard and cream. Reduce a little and place the tuna in to poach, 1 minute per side. Finally put the veal back in the pan to heat through and reduce to a sauce consistency.
To Serve Vitello Tonnato
On the plates, place the veal, then the tuna and spoon over the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and top each slice with 1 teaspoon of the salmon caviar.
That's all there is to it, hope you enjoy it. Also check out the best pizza epsom, recipes at boscoverde
Ciao for now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chef Jules Talks About Bluff Oysters

Hello Friends;
Bluff Oysters are one of Chef Jules favourites and one of natures little gems. Bluff Oysters latin name is Tiostrea Chilensis, is a bivalve mollusc and is of the Ostreidae family. Other names include; Mud Oyster, Dredge Oyster, Foveaux Strait Oyster, Flat Oyster and Deep Water Oyster. Common to Chile and New Zealand, Bluff Oysters have a firm flesh, creamy luscious texture, medium oil content, with a delicate crisp taste of the sea, and for that reason, is one that I recommend if one is a little unsure of oysters or never tried them before. I have prepared and sampled Bluff Oysters many different ways at Bosco Verde Espom, but the best way is "au naturale", i.e, freshly shucked, lemon wedge and accompanied by a glass of Champagne, Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc, although my preference is still a creamy, buttery Australian Chardonnay.
Oystering began at Stewart Island in the 1860's and shifted to the cooler, deep waters of Bluff where they are dredged by the oyster fleet at a depth of approximately 60 metres. It is not uncommon for each vessel to have 60 sacks of Bluff Oysters on return to port, each sack containing 800 oysters, each oyster having a minimum length of 57mm. Sometimes helicopters are used to expedite the delivery process, so that seafood markets and up-market Auckland restaurants can have them on the dining table, as soon as the season begins, (March to June). With past problems concerning the oyster parasite, Bonamia Exitosa, resulting in disruptions of supply from 1985-93 and again in 2000-05, the authorities and fishermen recognise the importance of seasonal quotas and at time of writing is 7.5 million oysters. Apparently  Bonamia is still present in certain areas, but stocks are growing well and it is hoped the cooler water temperatures will discourage the disease from spreading further. I had some last night and they were exquisite, and worth every penny! Retail prices for 1 dozen are around, NZ $22  in the South Island and up to $30 in the North Island. If you are sampling them in an Auckland restaurant expect to pay $25 for half a dozen and $50 for 1 dozen.
The anticipation and excitement at the start of each season is further encouraged by the  Bluff Oyster and Food Festival. Started in 1991, it is truly a celebration of this magnificient mollusc and other food from the region, wine stalls and entertainment. Tickets are purchased 9 months in advance for this popular event. Along with the best pizza epsom at Bosco Verde,I have added this great crusted baked Hapuka recipe with braised bok choy to the menu.

Ciao for now

Monday, April 5, 2010

Creating The Best Tiramisu Recipe

Hello Friends;
Creating the best Tiramisu Recipe is a bold statement and a very subjective thing.There are thousands of Tiramisu recipes out there and many variations, e.g different cheese and liqueurs used, whether to use the egg whites, to cook the yolks or use raw, to serve in individual glasses or to cut and serve as you would a cake. Chef Jules tiramisu recipe is one which I have been making for 31 years at Bosco Verde Epsom Restaurant and it is extremely popular, and since I promised Tommaso from italianrecipesblog.com, that I would reveal it in my next post, here goes.
I want to preface my Tiramisu recipe by saying, particularly to traditionalists, that the reason I use half Mascarpone and half Philadelphia cream cheese is that the Philadelphia gives a nice tange and firmness to the recipe. I also use Chocolate Liquor, which is only 13.9% alcohol, to mix with the coffee. Many people use Kahlua or Tia Maria, which is ok, but I prefer the Chocolate Liquor as I use quite a lot and there is already a strong coffee flavour from the espresso. I also add Brandy or Grappa in the cheese mixture.
For this Tiramisu recipe you will need tray like container approximately 22cm long, 32cm wide and 6cm deep. I use a tupperware container, with lid which is perfect for this, ceramic or glass would be fine, just don't use aluminium, in fact throw away all aluminium cooking vessels and containers right now! Tiramisu must be made in advance and kept in the fridge overnight before serving. My recipe makes 14 generous portions and can be halved if required.
Best Tiramisu Recipe Ingredients, (14 portions)
6 egg yolks
250g caster sugar
500g philadelphia cream cheese
500g mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brandy or grappa
700ml cream
48 savoiardi biscuits
600ml strong coffee
100ml chocolate liquor
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
Method for making best Tiramisu recipe
You can start by making the coffee, which needs to be cooled. I use my espresso machine, but a Napoletana stove-top coffee maker or Vesuviana is also good. Once you have 600ml, add the brown sugar, chocolate liquor and cool.
Now make the cheese mixture by softening the Philadelphia, a microwave on low power for 3 minutes is good for this. While you are doing this, whisk the yolks and sugar until white. Add the Philadelphia, Mascarpone and keep whisking until smooth, add the vanilla, brandy and keep to one side. Whip the cream, in a separate bowl to a firm stage but taking care not to overwhip and add to the cheese mixture, mix and combine well with a spatula.
Now assemble the tiramisu by taking the savoiardi biscuits and dipping them in the coffee mixture, shaking off the excess and placing in the tray, move quickly when doing this and don't leave the biscuits in the coffee or they will disintergrate. Once you have done 1 layer, spread over half the cheese mixture and then repeat with the coffee soaked savoiardi biscuits and the rest of the cheese on top to finish. Cover and refrigerate over night.
To serve the Tiramisu
Take out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. Whip 200ml of cream to a similar consistency as before and spread on top, sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve.
That's all there is to my Tiramisu recipe, hope you enjoy it.
Ciao for now

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chef Jules Talks About Japanese food

Hello Friends,
My interest in food is universal and includes many different ethnicities. Italian will always be number 1, but I also love Japanese, Thai, Chinese and French cuisine, and usually in that order.
I want to talk about Japanese food in this post. With a population of 4.7 million in New Zealand, Japanese people make up approximately 0.6% of that total. Koreans, virtually all from Southern Korea, out number Japanese, so it shouldn't come as any suprise that many "Japanese Restaurants" are owned by Koreans. Therefore authenticity cannot be guaranteed. I certainly have my favourites, in fact I often decide what I feel like on any given day, or night and go to the place that I know will deliver the best result. For example, it is usually one place for poached eggs, another for omelettes and yet another for Bagels, and that's just for breakfast! Talking of Japanese food, I break it down even further by going to one place for Sashimi and Sushi, another for tempura and another for Unagi or eel. It's the curse of being a chef. I am lucky enough to live within walking distance to a Japanese takeaway/cafe, situated off the main street in a courtyard. It's called  Wild Onion, a rather unlikely name for a Japanese place, is very casual and only opens during the day. It is a one man operation, run by a very stressed Japanese man, often seen hurrying towards the main street with his sandwich board, obviously running late. He is friendly enough, shows pride, attention to detail in his work and certainly makes the best Unagi Nigiri, ever! He assured me the eel was imported from Japan and is extremely tender. The rice is well cooked and sticky, his miso soup is also very good. He has 4 tables and one gets the impression that the owner prefers to have customers take the food away, for example, even when dining on the premises the food is served in a takeaway container and the miso soup comes in a cardboard cup. He also acts as the waiter, thereby inconveniencing and slowing his food preparation.
The eels are fresh water (Anguilla Japonica) and are pre-cooked and finished off when required. I have tried eel in many places and usually it is very tough, but not at my favourite.
Eel is commonly available in Japanese supermarkets, usually a Chinese product, boned, filleted, glaze-grilled and vacuum sealed, or frozen, known as Unagi-no-Kabayaki. Kabayaki refers to the sweet basting sauce which is similiar to Teriyaki sauce. This product is available from Tokyo Foods . Evidently, in Japan eel is cooked differently, the East being more tender as the eel is grilled, steamed and grilled again, as opposed to the West where it is simply grilled. I have also tried eel without the basting sauce, which is called Unagi
Shira-yaki, "shira" indicates the whiteness of the eel.
My other favourite Japanese dishes include, Edamame; which is young green soy beans, boiled in salted water and served in the pod. Great as a side dish to stimulate the appetite. Gyoza; dumplings filled with minced vegetables, ground meat and fried. Tempura; apparently introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th Century and is basically  fish, prawn or vegetables, coated in a very light batter and deep fryed. Soft shelled crab; deep fryed and served with a sweet chilly sauce. Sushi; a roll containing rice, and a variety of other ingredients wrapped in Nori (seaweed sheet) and sliced. Sashimi; thinly sliced raw fish, shellfish or crustacean.Yakitori; a variety of meats skewered and char-grilled. Nigiri; hand moulded rice, with a touch of wasabi paste and topped with a thin slice of raw fish or cooked eel and sometimes wrapped with a thin strip of seaweed. There are many more favourites, too numerous to mention and I haven't even talked about the Sake, hot and cold, of varing qualities!
Japanese food is all about freshness, quality ingredients, simplicity and presentation, which is why  I love it. In the photo we have Chef Jules favourite eel nigiri on the left and on the right there is a tuna sushi roll. As much as I love different cuisines I am still drawn to creating new Italian, food at boscoverde, epsom.

Ciao for now


Friday, March 12, 2010

Chef Jules Stuffed Pig's Trotter, Zampone Recipe

Hello Friends;
As promised I have the Zampone recipe for you. Basically Zampone Ripieno, or stuffed Pig's Trotter, is the foot and shin of a pig, boned and stuffed with a highly seasoned mixture of ground pork and herbs. I also like to add lamb sweetbreads to the stuffing, braise them in the oven for hours and serve the Zampone on a bed of lentils or Fagioli di Spagna, (butter beans). Zampone ripieno con lenticchie, is a favourite of Modena and is often served New Years Eve, when it is thought to bring good luck. You may also come across a Cotechino recipe, which is basically a sausage casing filled with ground pork, taken from the trotter, with herbs and spices added. When researching this recipe it became evident that most  Zampone recipes are assuming that you use a pre-prepared, commercially made product, I was shocked and incredulous. I believe that you should know how to do a recipe the traditional and correct way, before you take short cuts, so let's do it !
Zampone Recipe Ingredients (serves 8)                                              
8 pigs trotters
350g pork mince
200g lamb sweetbreads
30ml olive oil
30g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water, drained and chopped
1 small onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic chopped
parsley, thyme, sage, teaspoon chopped of each
1 heaped tablespoon of pinenuts, toasted and crushed
1 egg
1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
Method for Zampone Recipe
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add 1/2 lemon, parsley stalks and sweetbreads. Cook for 2 minutes and run under cold water, drain and roughly chop in a processor.  
In a frypan add the olive oil, onion, garlic and cook without colour.
In a bowl add all the above ingredients, excluding trotters, mix well, cover and refrigerate.
With a very sharp boning knife, take the trotters and make a cut, underside and carefully remove the bone without cutting through the top skin, (as in top photo), working your way to the toe,which you can leave in.
Fill with stuffing, making sure not to overfill, and tie with butchers string, as in above photo. Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees celcius.
To cook and serve the Zampone
You will need;
1 litre of beef stock
1 cup of red wine
4 star anise
6 juniper berries
1 tablespoon of pickling spice
3 bayleaves
500g lenticchie di Castelluccio or Puy Lentils.

In a baking tray add the trotters and  enough beef stock to come 3/4's of the way up the sides. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil on the stove top, check for seasoning, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 3 hours and 30 minutes, turning over once during the cooking process.
Now prepare the lentils by washing a few times and place in a pot with salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 20 minutes, drain and add 300ml of the liquid from the cooked trotters and cook further till the lentils have absorbed the liquid and keep warm.
Remove the string from the stuffed pigs trotters, slice through 3 or 4 times up to nail and serve on a bed of the lentils. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of black truffle oil just before serving to greatly enhance the flavour.
Chef Jules Tips
Other recipes, suggest that you cook the Zampone first, de-bone, and then fill it.
It really is worth trying my Zampone recipe, it may take a little more time initially, but the end result is far better.
Boning the trotter is a job best done at a leisurely pace,i.e not rushed and preferably with a nice glass of wine to sip on throughout the process.
Tell your guests what the dish is, after they have eaten it.
I hope you enjoy my Zampone recipe, it's well worth the effort. For those who might turn there nose up at the thought, I suggest you disassociate yourself from them, lol.
Ciao for now.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chef Jules Essential Pantry List

Hello Friends,

Back to culinary matters, I have compiled my essential pantry wish list, a list of things which you wouldn't necessarily think of buying, but items which will keep for a long time in the pantry and will make your culinary experience more interesting, and impressive for all. I use most of these ingredients, obtained from Sapori d'Italia, consistently in my recipes and every once in a while I will be updating, if I come across new and interesting products. You can access the list by clicking the Pantry Photo, above right.
I also have an amazing Zampone recipe for you in my next post, for those who are not sure what Zampone is, it's different, unusual, unique, amazing, wonderful with an incredible flavour and yet the thought of the ingredients revolts many people.
I look forward to sharing it with you.
Ciao for now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Superb, Stuffed Sweet Capsicum Recipe

Hello Friends;
We all had a nice picnic yesterday, using my brother-in-laws portable barbecue. My contribution was the middle part of an eye fillet, well seasoned and studded with sliced garlic and rosemary and cooked whole, turning frequently on the open grill part. It was amazing and I recommend cooking the eye fillet in this manner rather than slicing it into steaks, as it is too easily overcooked and ruined.
I also brought along some stuffed capsicums, or stuffed peppers, which I had prepared earlier in the day. I use " Little Sweeties" capsicums which come in trays, 5 to a tray and a mixture of red, orange and yellow. I want to share this recipe with you because it's so popular, loved by all (except vegetarians) and easy to prepare.
Stuffed Capsicum Recipe
20 small capsicums (small peppers, 80 mm long)
400g pork mince
20ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Thyme, parsley and sage (tablespoon of each, chopped)
1 cup of grated tasty cheese
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of Worcester sauce
1 egg
1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Place olive oil in a large fry pan and heat. Add the onions and garlic, cook for a few minutes, increase the heat and add the mince, stirring occasionally. Pour in the wine and cook for 10 minutes.
Take off the heat, add the cheeses and cool slightly. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with your very clean hands. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Take your capsicums, cut the stalk end off to create an opening, remove the seeds and fill with the mixture to just below the top of the capsicums. Place in an oiled baking tray and cook for 40 minutes.
Chef Jules Tips
Once oven baked you can serve straight away, or as I did, reheat on the barbecue. They are also nice cold.
For a vegetarian option you could replace the mince with pre-cooked rice or orzo pasta and delete the breadcrumbs.
There will be some mixture left over which, if made drier with the addition of more breadcrumbs makes fantastic burger patties.
Hope you enjoy my stuffed capsicum recipe.
I have also just published a Seafood Ravioli Recipe for Dive Planet, check it out!
Ciao for now

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chef Jules Gets A Little Fancy

Hello Friends;
Every now and again I want to give you a recipe that is a little fancy. It's my mission to provide that recipe, simplified and with ingredients that are readily available.
I cooked a Duck Breast last night that fits the bill, so here goes.

Seared Duck Breast, Mushroom and Broad Bean with Berry Jus.

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 Duck Breasts, approximately 220grams each
8 Swiss Brown Mushrooms, sliced
1 Shallot, chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Sage Leaves, chopped
50ml olive oil
1 Tablespoon of breadcrumbs
Salt and Pepper
50g Blackberries or mixed berries
100g Broad Beans, blanched and shelled
400ml Beef Stock
60ml Marsala Wine or Sherry
20g butter
Take a frypan, add 30ml of the oil, onion and garlic, sweat in the pan, then add the mushrooms, sage and seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes, take off the heat, cool, finely chop in a food processor and add the breadcrumbs. Keep to one side.
Blanch the broad beans in salted water for 2 minutes, drain, shell and place in a microwavable bowl, season, cover with cling film and keep to one side. (Reheat for 1 minute, just before plating)
Pour the beef stock and Marsala in a small saucepan, reduce by half, check seasoning and keep hot.
Take the Duck Breasts, trim and carefully score the skin, 5 times each, don't cut into the flesh and season.
Wash the frypan, (I always keep dirty pots and pans to a minimum, lol ). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat. Place the breasts, skin side down and cook for 7 minutes per side, turning once and basting frequently while cooking. The duck should be cooked medium i.e, a little pink in the middle, and the skin should be brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and rest for 5 minutes.
To Serve
Reheat the jus, add the berries and  take off the heat, add the butter, moving the pan until encorporated. Pour the jus, minus the berries on your 2 serving plates. Place the mushroom mixture on the plates, to one side. Slice through the breast a few times and fan out on top of the mushroom. Arrange the broad beans and berries on the plate and serve.
Chef Jules Tips
Although I don't normally recommend frozen foods, the broad beans and the berries, as used in this recipe, turn out well.
It's important to shell the beans as their outer is very tough. It's a bit fiddly, but for this quantity it shouldn't take long.
Jus or Jus-lie, is basically, "chef speak" for thickened gravy, you have to admit it sounds a whole lot better than gravy. Normally I would use a demi-glace base for the sauce, but just use the best beef stock you can get your hands on.

Hope you enjoy my duck breast recipe.
Ciao for now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Profiterole Tower with Chef Jules

Hello Friends;
I have a dessert recipe for you that never fails to impress, has that real wow factor with no  plastic or cardboard cone in sight ! Chef Jules Profiterole Tower, has 3 elements to its composition. The Creme Patissier (Pastry Cream), Chocolate Sauce, both which can be made a little in advance, and the Choux Paste, to make the Profiteroles.
For the Pastry cream you will need
700 ml milk
130g sugar
6 egg yolks
80 g flour
1 vanilla pod, cut in half lengthways
In a bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until white, add the flour and mix to a smooth paste. Bring the milk and vanilla pod to the boil and add to the paste, gradually at first, whisking continuously. Place in a saucepan and bring to the boil as quickly as possible, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon so as not to catch on the bottom. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film. When cool place in the fridge until required.
Chocolate Sauce
800g dark chocolate buttons
100g soft brown sugar
50g butter
250ml cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint essence (optional)
Heat the cream in a medium sized saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients. Gradually bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Cool and refrigerate until required.
Choux Paste, for the Profiteroles (makes 60)
500ml water
200g salted butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
250g high grade white flour
Approximately 8 eggs, (beaten)
In a saucepan, place the water, butter, sugar and slowly bring to the boil. Take off the heat and add the sifted flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, return to the heat for a couple of minutes and keep stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Add the eggs in 4 stages, beating in between, checking before you add the last stage that the mixture is of "dropping consistency", i.e, if you lift the spoon up, the mixture should drop and not flow in a constant stream.
Heat your oven to a medium/hot temperature. Pipe the mixture, walnut size on to a lightly oiled trays, as in the above photo, you will need two large trays or four smaller ones. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, don't open the oven during this process. Once cooked, cool on wire racks.
Assembly of the Profiterole Tower
Take a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle and fill the Profiteroles with the Pastry Cream mixture, (vanilla pod removed). Choose a large, round platter and pipe some mixture, in a circle on the bottom. Place the Profiteroles on top, use more Pastry Cream to "cement" another layer of Profiteroles, slightly reducing the circumference as you go higher and continuing until you have 1 Profiterole on top. 
Heat the chocolate sauce in the microwave for 1 minute and stir thoroughly. Drizzle this over the Profiterole Tower and serve immediately.
Chef Jules Tips
If you don't have the time or inclination to make your own profiteroles, they can be bought from all good supermarkets, usually in the biscuit section. They are drier and crisper than home made, so you will have to cut them in half to pipe in the Pastry Cream, and then push them together

This dessert is better assembled 20 minutes before serving. I have taken this to a friends house, Profiteroles already filled, pastry cream in the piping bag for "cementing" and the chocolate sauce in a bowl ready for microwaving to add just before serving.

The Peppermint essence is optional, I always add it because it's not overpowering and softens the sweetness.

I recommend using digital scales, particularly for baking.

This recipe is a lot easier than it sounds, and will amaze your guests. Hope you all enjoy my profiterole tower recipe.

Ciao for now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Coltivare Pomodori in Nuova Zelanda con Chef Jules

Hello Friends;
Coltivare Pomodori in Nuova Zelanda or "growing tomatoes in New Zealand" is what I have been attempting to do. I was given seedlings by a good friend 2 months ago, grown from Franchi seeds of Italy. They were a mix of Costuluto Fiorentino (Beefsteak) and what looks like San Marzano Follia or San Marzano Nano, I'm not sure. I am still learning when it comes to gardening, so it was with great excitement and satisfaction when I spotted a cluster of red Tomatoes, as pictured, amongst a sea of green.
Every now and again I come across a company or website that really captures the imagination. Franchi Sementi spa, Bergamo Italia, just North of Milan is one such company. Established in 1783, and now the oldest family run seed company in the world. Just to put that time frame into perspective, in 1783 a peace treaty was ratified between the U.S and England and only 14 years earlier New Zealand had been discovered by captain James Cook on his first voyage in the H.M.S Endeavour, extraordinary!
Franchi Sementi are certainly the best at what they do, have passion, dedication, tradition, pride and are progressive in in their G. E free policy as well as recognising the importance of a harmonious working environment for employees. Franchi seeds of Italy are responsible for the maintenance of 70 important heirloom varieties and saved them from extincion. Navigating the website, Seeds of Italy , you will find 350 varieties of vegetable,herb and flower seeds with advice on growing, plus recipes. Definitely worth a look and have suppliers in most countries, that promote Franchi seeds. I have already decided next season to grow the Cuor di Bue, or "ox heart beef" tomatoes and perhaps some more Costoluto Fiorentino. Any tips for growing tomatoes feel free to email me.
My next posting will include Chef Jules Profiterole Tower recipe.
Ciao for now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cooking a Hangi with Chef Jules

Hello Friends;
I mentioned in my last post of cooking a Hangi. For my international friends, a Hangi is New Zealand's indigenous peoples, (Maori) traditional method of cooking food underground and has been used for hundreds of years. In fact this method of cooking was used throughout the Pacific and also Chili, The Balkans, certain parts of North Africa and the Middle East. Basically a hole is dug relative to the size of the number of people being catered for. A fire is lit, volcanic rocks are placed on top and heated for two and a half hours. The various foods were placed in flax baskets or leaves, covered with more leaves or flax matting and earth and cooked for three to four hours.
I have been trialling the hangi pot, pictured above, which simulates this method and has all the elements of a traditional hangi, i.e. the hard wood fuel source, the volcanic rocks, the leaves all cooked under  pressure with that unique smokey flavour. The difference is that you don't need to dig a hole, is a great deal quicker, can be used anywhere, even in suburbia, and as I did, you can experiment with different flavours, traditional Maori herbs and spices. For people living in New Zealand I can see a real market for this product in that any overseas visitors one may have, could be treated to a taste of ethnic cooking from the home of the kiwi and the All Blacks, our national rugby team. Because of the design, the heating of the rocks takes 45 minutes and cooking time is 90 minutes. Whist waiting, enjoying a nice glass of Yatir 2004, my thoughts turned to the steaming pot and the contents therein. Rather like an expectant father waiting for the birth of a child, I formed an attachment to the contents. You know it's developing, changing, but you do ask yourself, what will it look like, will it be underdone or overdone?. All culminating in the lifting of the bundle, you need not have worried, perfectly done!. There are quite a few imitations on the market which are made of stainless steel and use gas as the fuel source, but can't compare to the traditional Maori method of cooking and the Hangi Pot.
The photo below shows some of the food I cooked in the hangi pot, kumara, sweetcorn, potatoes, cabbage, chicken. The capsicums I stuffed and cooked separately.
Ciao for now.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Worlds Best Zuccotto Recipe

Hello friends,
Worlds Best Zuccotto Recipe may be a tall order, but Chef Jules always lives up to his promises. There are many Zuccotto Recipes out there, every time I make this one, there is never any left over. This famous Italian dessert gets its name from the resemblance of a cardinals skullcap, or " zuccotto", in Tuscan dialect.This zuccotto recipe is basically liquer flavoured sponge, covering chocolate hazelnut mousse and ricotta fruit cream. It is adapted from my "nonnos" recipe and is one which I make on special occasions, such as Christmas and Easter. So without further pomp and ceremony here goes.
There are 3 elements to my Zuccotto recipe,which I have tried to keep as easy as possible. The orange syrup, hazelnut chocolate mousse and ricotta fruit mixture.
Zuccotto Recipe Ingredients
500g plain unfilled vanilla sponge cake
Orange Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of orange juice
60 ml Strega or Galliano
Take a saucepan and boil above ingredients, excluding sponge, for 20 minutes. Leave to cool.
Hazelnut chocolate mousse
500g of your favourite chocolate mousse recipe
60g hazelnuts place on a tray and gently toast, cool, place in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin
40ml frangelico liquer (optional)
Mix above ingredients and refrigerate.
Ricotta fruit mixture
800g ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
100g candied orange and lemon peel
60g glace red cherries, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix all the above well and refrigerate till required
Take a 22cm (2.5 litre) glass or stainless steel bowl, cut the sponge into 3 cm strips. Line the bowl, botttom first, then the sides. Trim the sponge to the level of the bowl. Spoon the orange syrup on the sponge as in the above photo.
Spread the ricotta cheese mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the sponge and leave a hollow in the middle. Quickly add the hazelnut chocolate mousse to the hollow, cover with more sponge to completely encase the filling and tightly cover with cling film. Refrigerate overnight.
To Serve
Take a flat serving platter, remove cling film and turn the zuccotto upside down onto the plate, remove bowl, dust with cocoa powder and serve.
Chef Jules Tips
You can prepare the orange syrup, Hazelnut chocolate mousse and ricotta fruit mixture well in advance.
Savoiardi biscuits can be used but I think the sugar coating adds too much to the overall sweetness of the dessert.
I usually candy my own organic citrus fruit, also organic  for the orange juice.
If you get stuck on the chocolate mousse, email me for my own recipe.

I hope you enjoy my very special, worlds best zuccotto recipe.
In my next posting I will be talking about a real slice of Kiwiana. A method of cooking that you can do in your backyard that simulates the way our indigenous people cooked, called "Hangi". I trialled this for diveplanet and was very impressed with the results.
Ciao for now !

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chef Jules is back !

Hello Friends;
welcome to Chef Jules blog  for 2010. My appologies for the technical difficulties experienced in gaining access to my blog at the beginning of the year, but it's all sorted now and I'm ready to go, bigger and better with more frequent postings. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and your new year is going well. 
For myself Christmas was spent with family and friends at Lake Pupuke, in Takapuna, North Shore, Auckland. A freshwater crater lake, formed approximately 150,000 years ago with a circumference of 4.6km, depths of 58 metres plus and enjoyed recreationally by many people. Trout are released periodically and other species include Perch, Rudd and Carp. As you can see the weather was stunning, as was the food.
 In my next posting I will share a Zuchotto recipe from my "nonno". A traditional Italian dessert which I have adapted to make it as easy as possible for you to make. Most of you will be familiar with the Guylian seashell chocolates. There is also a New Zealand company operating from Mangawhai, north of Auckland making high quality chocolates, which my sister brought on Christmas day, http://www.bennettsofmangawhai.com/  a husband and wife team, Belguim trained. The seashore collection particularly appealed to my love of seafood. Ciao for now.
Red Cherries on Foodista