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, 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.
On the subject of seafood I have a new  Hapuka Recipe  pictured below, on the Dive Planet website, so check it out!
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 26 years 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