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.