Beef Short Rib Ragu

Beef Short Rib Ragu

Just before Christmas we had a family dinner at my brother-in-laws Aunt’s house. Zia Sonia is an amazing cook and when I heard she was making her famous gnocchi for dinner I volunteered to bring along the sauce and asked if I could come early to learn how she makes her pillow-soft gnocchi. I’ll share her technique and recipe in my next post but for now here is the ragu I made. The recipe is from Australian Gourmet Traveller and it’s a real keeper. Whilst it’s not difficult to execute it does take a lot of inactive cooking time – six hours to be exact but it’s worth it for the depth of flavour the sauce develops. I also like the quite unusual method of adding the stock in small batches and letting it cook down between each addition, creating layers of intense flavour. If you can, try to make the sauce a day in advance of when you’re going to serve it, not only will the flavours develop more but it’s also easier to skim off the fat once it’s been cooled in the fridge overnight. Gnocchi is a great accompaniment for this ragu but it would also be very good with pappardelle or fettucine.

Ingredients – Serves 8 generously & freezes well   Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
You’ll need to start this recipe the day before

1.8 kg beef short ribs
2 cups red wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
onions, finely chopped
garlic cloves, minced
1 each carrot and celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups beef stock
800gm canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
rosemary sprigs
bay leaf

Method

Place beef ribs in a non-reactive container that fits ribs snugly, add wine, cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat, remove ribs from wine (reserve 1 cup), pat dry on absorbent paper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden (5-7 minutes). Remove ribs and set aside, reduce heat to low, add vegetables and tomato paste and stir occasionally until tender (12-15 minutes).

     Beef Short Ribs for Ragu Beef Short Ribs for Ragu 

Add reserved red wine and cook until reduced by half (5-7 minutes), scraping residue as you go, then add half the stock one cup at a time, reducing completely after each addition (10-12 minutes).

                Beef Short Rib Ragu Shredded Beef Short Rib for Ragu

Add tomato, rosemary, bay leaf, remaining stock and ribs, cover and roast in the oven, turning ribs occasionally, until meat is falling from the bone (4-6 hours). When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat with a fork (discard bones, fatty sinew and herb stalks), season to taste and serve tossed with gnocchi (or papparadelle/fettucine) and scattered with freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.

Perfect Easy Roast Duck

Easy Roast Duck

A lot of people think of duck as a difficult cut of meat to cook at home and roasting a whole duck in particular seems to cause a lot of anxiety. But in actual fact roasting duck is very simple and straight forward and given  its high fat content very forgiving as far as cooking times go. Speaking of fat, this seems to be the other reason that many may steer away from duck, and sure it’s not something to indulge in every week, but if cooked correctly most of the fat seeps away during the cooking time leaving you with very moist, tender meat and lots of lovely duck fat for the next time you’re roasting potatoes.

Easy Roast Duck

There are a lot of different methods and techniques for roasting duck with the most popular being the twice cooked method where the duck is first steamed then roasted. In my opinion there isn’t enough difference in the end result to warrant the extra effort. This easy one step roasting method is much easier. The only things to make sure of are that your duck is at room temperature, that it’s super dry and that the skin is lightly pricked all over with a fine skewer. Follow the steps below and you’ll be guaranteed crispy skin and succulent meat every time.

Ingredients – serves 3-4

1 whole duck weighing approx 2kgs
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Variations
Five spice powder for an Asian flavour
Half and orange and some thyme or sage leaves for stuffing into the cavity of the duck

Method

As soon as you bring your duck home from the market remove it from its packaging, pat it dry, place on a plate and leave it in the fridge uncovered. Leaving it overnight is best but if that’s not possible then for as long as you can.

Take the duck out of the fridge an hour before you need to roast it and preheat the oven to 220C. Once again pat it with paper towels to ensure it’s very dry. Cut away any large fat deposits near the cavity of the duck and with a fine skewer prick holes all over the skin, not deep enough to penetrate the flesh, just the top layer of skin. This will help the duck release it’s fat as it cooks.

 Fat from Roasting Duck Easy Perfect Roast Duck

Generously season the duck both inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the duck on a rack in a baking tray – it’s important to use a rack so as air circulates around the duck and also so the duck doesn’t sit in the fat it releases as it roasts. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After this time reduce the heat to 180C and continue to cook for a further hour. Your basically cooking the duck for 45 minutes per kilo (so adjust according to the weight of your duck) with the first 30 minutes being at a higher heat. Halfway during the cooking time I like to remove the fat in the bottom of the tray. I use some of it to baste the duck and the rest I put aside for roasting potatoes (duck fat keeps well in the fridge for a number of weeks). When the duck has finished cooking remove it from the oven and allow it to rest uncovered for 15 minutes before carving.

 Perfect Easy Roast Duck

Chinese Braised Eggplant with Garlic, Ginger & Chilli

Fuchsia Dunlop's Fish Fragrant Eggplant

I adore eggplant and can’t get enough of it any shape or form. A particular favourite is this Szechuan side dish which is normally referred to as eggplant with fish fragrant Sauce. Not the most appealing of titles but rest assured the recipe does not include any seafood; the term “fish fragrant” referring instead to the style of sauce that is most commonly served with seafood dishes. And what a sauce it is, full of strong flavours and aromas which make the eggplant really come alive. One key ingredient in the recipe is the Chilli Bean Paste or sauce. It really makes a difference and whilst you can substitute a different type of chilli sauce and still produce a memorable dish I recommend you go to your nearest Asian grocer and buy a jar of this as it imparts a wonderful vibrant red colour and a rich savouriness which is hard to replicate. Some recipes call for minced meat to be added to this braise but to be quite honest it’s savoury and full flavoured enough without it. Traditionally the eggplant is deep fried and if you use a wok you actually don’t need too much oil but you can also shallow fry the eggplant, although it may not hold its shape quite so well or retain it’s texture. Whilst I don’t like deep frying at home I find with eggplant it really is an easier option than shallow frying. Eggplants are like a sponge when it comes to oil and I find you use an awful lot of it when you shallow fry, with all the oil being absorbed by the eggplant whereas when it’s deep-fried I find the eggplant absorbs much less oil.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish  Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop

600g eggplant
Salt
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying  (if you are using a round-bottomed wok you won’t need much oil but you can also shallow fry, see not above)
1½ tablespoons Szechuan chilli bean paste
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
⅔ cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons sugar
1 scant teaspoon corn flour mixed with one tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese black vinegar, you can substitute with young balsamic vinegar)
4 tablespoons finely sliced spring onions, green and white sections

Method

Cut the eggplant lengthways into three thick slices, then cut these into evenly sized batons. Sprinkle them with salt, mix well and leave in a colander for at least 30 minutes to drain.

In a wok, heat the oil for deep-frying to 180˚C. Add the eggplant in batches and deep-fry for three to four minutes until slightly golden on the outside and soft and buttery within. Remove and drain on paper towels. If you prefer you can also shallow fry the eggplant until golden.

Fried Eggplant

Drain the deep-frying oil, rinse the wok if necessary, then return it to a medium flame. When the wok is hot again, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and fragrant, then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir-fry until you can smell their aromas. Take care not to burn these seasonings; remove the wok from the heat for a few seconds if necessary to control the temperature (you want a gentle, coaxing sizzle, not a scorching heat).

Chinese Braised Eggplant Eggplant with Fish Fragrant Sauce

Add the stock and sugar and mix well. Season with salt to taste if necessary. Add the fried eggplant to the sauce and let them simmer gently for a minute or so to absorb some of the flavors. Then stir the corn flour mixture, pour it over the eggplant and stir in gently to thicken the sauce. Add the vinegar and spring onions and stir a few times, then serve.

Fuchsia Dunlop's Fish Fragrant Eggplant

Rockpool’s Date Tart

Lorraine Godsmark Date Tart

The iconic date tart served at legendary Sydney restaurant Rockpool was originally created by Lorraine Godsmark and whilst Lorraine has long since departed Rockpool to start her own Patisserie (where she also sells this date tart) it’s still on the menu at Rockpool and I couldn’t imagine ending a meal there without it. There’s a good reason why this tart has gained such culinary cult status – it’s unbelievably delicious and if you’ve ever tasted it you’ll know that it’s one very special tart. Trying to fathom the recipe is no easy feat as it’s a closely guarded secret and whilst this version may not be the exact recipe Lorraine created it’s pretty darn close. The list of ingredients and the concept is pretty simple but I think the real trick is in the cooking time and temperature. In order to achieve the incredibly silky, just set custard, of the original you need to really monitor the oven heat. After various attempts I found that starting in a pre-heated oven at 180C and then lowering the temperature by 10 degrees every 10 minutes produced the best results. The one thing you don’t want to do is to overcook it or cook it at too fierce a heat. It should be taken out of the oven whilst it’s still wobbly in the centre as it continues to firm as it cools. This tart is prefect on its own and doesn’t need any accompaniments but if you need to make the tart stretch out to feed a large number of people, like I did a few weeks ago, then I can highly recommend pairing it with coffee ice cream – I made a batch using a David Lebovitz recipe and it was amazing, I’ll post the recipe shortly.

Ingredients – makes one large (28cm) tart, serves 8-10

Pastry – this makes slightly more pastry than you need for a 28cm tart shell but you can freeze the leftovers or turn them into cookies
270 g cold butter, cut into cubes
35g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
375g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt

Filling
10 – 12 fresh soft dates, halved, stones removed
6 egg yolks
60 grams sugar
600 ml single/pouring cream
The seeds of one vanilla pod

Method

To make the pastry, place the butter, sugar, egg and milk in a food processor and pulse until the butter is in small pieces, then add the flour and process until the pastry just comes together. Remove from the processor onto a lightly floured surface and bring together into a ball. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the dough on a floured surface or between 2 sheets of baking paper until large enough to fit a 28cm tart tin. Place the pastry into the tin and lightly press it in to the base and sides. Trim off any excess and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I often make the pastry a day or two in advance and place it covered in cling wrap in the freezer. Once the dough has rested in the fridge, cover it with some baking paper and fill with pastry weights or rice and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 10-12 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden. Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, Place the halves of the dates around the perimeter and centre of the pastry.   Press the dates down so they squash a little to ensure they don’t poke out of the custard later.

Pastry for sweet tart Lorraine's Date Tart

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Use an electric beater or stand mixer to cream together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the cream and vanilla and beat to combine. Pour the filling into the tart, making sure the dates are covered. I find it easier to place the tart on a baking sheet in the oven and the pour in the filling. Make sure you don’t let the filling over flow.

Rockpool's Date Tart

Bake for a total of 30-40  minutes, reducing the oven temperature by 10 degrees every 10 minutes until the tart is golden brown but still has a slight wobble in the centre, it will become firmer as it cools and it’s important not to over cook the filling. If you feel that it needs more time it’s safer to turn the oven off and leave it in the oven for a little extra time. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Lorraine Godsmark's Date Tart

Thai Grilled Pork Neck with Spicy Dipping Sauce – Ko Mu Yang with Jaew

    Thai Grilled Pork Neck Thai Spicy Chilli Dipping Sauce for Grilled Meats

If you’ve had your fill of Christmas fare and can’t face leftovers of ham or turkey then this is a delicious punchy dish to try that is as far removed from festive-season food as possible. Thai cuisine has some amazing grilled meat, poultry and seafood dishes. Simple marinades bringing out all the sweetness of the meat and the accompanying spicy chilli dipping sauce making every bite explode with flavour. Jaew is a northeastern Thai dipping sauce that is made using dried chilli flakes rather than fresh chilli giving it a wonderful smoky aroma which is very addictive, I could slather it on anything! Pork, and pork neck in particular, is a great cut for this type of grilling as it remains moist and tender, don’t be tempted to try tenderloin or fillet as it would dry out too much. I like to buy a whole pork neck and cut it into thick slices to marinade. After it’s been grilled I cut it up into more manageable size pieces, ensuring even more moistness. This is great served with rice (coconut rice in particular is very good) and sliced cucumbers.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6

1kg pork neck (pork collar), cut into wide slabs about ½ inch thick

Marinade
3 tablespoons grated palm sugar (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons whisky, optional

Jaew Dipping Sauce  Adapted from She Simmers
¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon galangal powder, optional
⅓ cup fish sauce
Juice of one lime
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon of toasted rice powder, optional
1 tablespoon of dried red chilli flakes

Method

Place all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well to combine, making sure that the sugar gets dissolved. Add the pork slices and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 – 6 hours.

To make the jaew, mix everything together in a bowl. Adjust the taste with more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar, if necessary. The sauce should be predominantly sour and salty.

Pork Neck for Grilling Thai Grilled Pork Neck

 

To cook the pork, Remove the pork from marinade and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Grill the pieces of pork over a medium heated grill/barbecue, until meat is tender and the surface is charred, about 30 minutes, turning the pieces regularly and basting with a little of the marinade. You could also cook this on ridged grill pan indoors. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve with the jaew on the side.

 Thai Grilled Pork Neck - Ko Mu Yang

Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Ultimate Comfort Food - Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Cooking a classic lasagna can be a real labour of love – making a ragu, making béchamel, boiling lasagna sheets and then layering everything together can take a lot of time and effort. Sure it’s delicious but due to the amount of time it takes it’s not something I cook very often. When I crave lasagna but don’t want to spend a day in the kitchen preparing it this is the recipe I like to make. The meatballs are made using Italian sausages so there’s not meat mixture to prepare and I use a mixture of ricotta and parmesan to replace the béchamel sauce. I also use fresh lasagna sheets so there’s no pre boiling. The sausages are braised in a very simple tomato sauce which doesn’t need to be simmered for hours to develop great flavour. This lasagna has a slightly different flavour profile to a classic Bolognese lasagna but it’s just as flavourful and quite substantial with those cute little meatballs really packing a punch.

Ingredients –  Serves 4 generously

1kg Italian sausages, or any well flavoured sausage (beef or pork)
Olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 x 400g tins Italian diced tomatoes
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt, pepper
½ cup roughly chopped basil leaves, as well as 1 cup of whole basil leaves
300g ricotta
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
250g grated mozzarella
1 egg
Fresh Lasagna sheets

Method

Remove the sausages from their casings and roll the meat into small meatballs. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy based saucepan. Add the meatballs in one layer and cook turning until they are slightly golden. Remove and repeat with remaining meatballs, adding more oil as necessary, until they are all browned.

      Sausage Meatballs  Sausage Meatball Sauce

To the same pan add the onions and cook until they are soft, about 8 minutes. If you find the onions are catching add a little water. Add the garlic and cook for a another minute. Add the tomato paste and stir it through the onions well then add the diced tomatoes, plus one can of water, the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the simmer and add the sausages back to the pan along with any accumulated juices.  Bring to a simmer again and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes on low heat. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

       Sausage Meatball Lasagna Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Preheat oven to 180C. Whilst the tomato sauce is cooking place the ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan, the egg and the chopped basil into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. To assemble the lasagna, pour a few spoons of the tomato sauce, without any meatballs, onto the base of a rectangular oven proof dish and spread it out. Add a layer of the fresh lasagna sheets, cutting them if need be to fit and cover the pan snuggly. Add a small amount of the ricotta mixture and spread to cover the pasta. On top of the ricotta mixture add a layer of meatballs with some sauce, a few basil leaves and a handful of the grated mozzarella. Repeat the process until the pan is filled, pressing down lightly after each layer. I like to finish with the ricotta on top followed with just a small smear of tomato sauce and then cover the top with a scattering of grated mozzarella and the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is bubbling and golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Ultimate Comfort Food - Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey

Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey If they sold I heart Ottolenghi t-shirts I’d be queuing up for one. Israeli born Yottam Ottolenghi is one of the hottest chefs at the moment and it’s no wonder as his recipes and approach to food and flavours is like a breath of fresh air. There hasn’t been a dish I’ve tried out of Ottolenghi’s numerous cook books that hasn’t been spectacular. This is the first one of his recipes I’m posting as I normally make his dishes for our weekly family nights and there’s just too much chaos in my small kitchen to try and capture any worthwhile photos. I loved how easy this dish was to throw together, perfect for a mid week meal but special enough for company. This dish has a wonderful balance of flavours and in classic Ottolenghi style the hazelnut, honey and rosewater paste, which is added to towards the end of the cooking time, gives a wonderful and unexpected texture and flavour hit that transforms the whole dish.

Ingredients Serves 4  Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

1 large organic or free-range chicken, divided into quarters, or chicken pieces – I used legs and thighs
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A generous pinch of saffron threads
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Scant ¾ cup (100 g) un-skinned hazelnuts
3 ½ tablespoons  honey
2 tablespoons rose water
2 green onions, coarsely chopped

Method

In a large bowl, mix the chicken pieces with the onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Chop coarsely and set aside. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate everything comfortably. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up and put the pan in the oven. Ottolenghi says to cook the chicken for abut 35 minutes but I didn’t find that to be enough time and preferred to keep my chicken in for about 45 minutes until it was a nice golden brown.


While the chicken is roasting, mix the honey, rose water, and nuts together to make a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven, spoon a generous amount of nuts paste onto each piece, and spread it to cover. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the nuts are golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped green onions.

 Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey

Chocolate Angel Food Cake – A Fat Free Cake

A Fat Free Cake - Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Yes, that’s right, fat free! I’ve made Ina Garten’s black and white angel food cake before and just love the idea of a cake that doesn’t incorporate any fat – no butter, no oil, no egg yolks. In fact you shouldn’t even grease the baking tin. In this version even the chocolate is fat free as it’s made using cocoa powder. Of course if you wish to ice your cake with some ganache as I’ve done then a small amount of fat is going to creep into the equation, but to be quite honest this cake is so incredibly moist it doesn’t need it. This is a great recipe if you’re looking for ways to use up a lot of leftover egg whites, and I mean a lot – 14 of them! I always have a lot of leftover egg whites in my freezer from making ice cream and I hate throwing them away and there’s only so much pavlova and egg white omelettes we can eat. So I was thrilled to find angel food cakes which clear up my freezer of all the little bags of egg whites in one hit. The other bonus if you’re an egg white hoarder is that stale egg whites whip up much better and retain more air than fresh ones.

Ingredients  Adapted from Serious Eats

14-16 large egg whites (2 cups)
4 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups white sugar, divided
1 cup sifted cake flour – you can use plain flour, remove 2 tablespoons and replace with corn flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Method
Pre-heat oven to 180C (not fan forced) and place rack in centre of oven. Have ready a 10-inch two piece angel food cake (tube) pan. Don’t grease it as it will stop the cake from rising. Bring the egg whites to room temperature.

In a small measuring cup or bowl combine the cocoa powder and boiling water and stir until smooth. Stir or whisk in the vanilla extract. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together ¾ cup of the sugar, the sifted cake flour, and the salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.

Remove 1 cup of the beaten egg whites and whisk it into the cocoa powder mixture to lighten it. To the remaining egg whites, gradually sift the flour mixture over the egg whites (about ¼ cup at a time) and gently but quickly fold the flour into the egg whites. I find a large metal spoon works best. Once you have incorporated the flour mixture into the egg whites fold in the cocoa powder mixture. (It is important not to over mix the batter or it will deflate.)


Pour the batter into the pan (it will be almost full) and run a metal spatula or knife through the batter to get rid of any air pockets. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes. It is done when a wooden skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed. The top of the cake will have cracks.

Immediately upon removing from the oven invert the pan. Suspend the pan by placing the inner tube on the top of a soda or wine bottle or onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for about 1½ hours.

When completely cool, run a metal spatula or knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then remove the cake from the pan. Next, run a metal spatula or knife along the bottom and center core of the pan and remove. Place onto a serving plate. Serve plain with some fruit or ice with chocolate ganache.

A Fat Free Cake - Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Miso Creamed Kale with Shiitake Mushrooms – A Great Side Dish for the Festive Season

A Fantastic Thanksgiving Side Dish - Miso Creamed Kale with Shiitake Mushrooms
If you’re looking for a new side dish to grace your Christmas table, or a great side dish for any meal for that matter,  then this is a recipe you’re going to want to try. Ten years ago the word umami was something only the Japanese were familiar with but now it’s become part of our common food language and is basically used to describe food that has a moreish savoury taste, with some people referring to it as the fifth taste after salt, sweet, sour and bitter.  This dish is packed full of umami  thanks to the inclusion of miso, soy and mushrooms. I was expecting the kale to have a slightly Asian slant to it but it actually didn’t at all – the miso just comes across in the same way as, say anchovies would in a sauce, you can’t pick they’re in there but you just know something very tasty is going on. The cream mellows things up a bit and the shiitake mushrooms add a nice meatiness to the kale. You could pair this with anything from steak to roast turkey or chicken and it would also work well with salmon. Next time I might serve it on it’s own with a fried egg on top for a meat free main course.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish   Adapted from Food 52

3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
large shallot, thinly sliced
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
250g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced thickly
tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup dry vermouth, you can substitute with white wine
½ cup cream
tablespoon white (shiro) miso, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the shallot and garlic. Cook over low heat without letting the garlic and shallots colour, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kale and continue to cook for a few more minutes until wilted. If it won’t all fit in the pan, just add what’s left after it’s cooked down a bit.

Meanwhile, in a small pan set over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and cooked through, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms become too dry, add another tablespoon of butter. Stir in the soy sauce, cook another minute and turn off the heat.

        OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  

Once the kale is wilted and soft, increase the heat to medium high, add the vermouth or wine and cook until it’s just evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and miso, stirring until completely incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 more minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and tightens up the around the kale. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if you like (but don’t forget the mushrooms have soy sauce). Gently stir through the mushrooms and serve hot.

A Great Thanksgiving Side Dish - Miso Creamed Kale

Veal Cutlet Parmigiana

Ultimate Veal ParmigianaParmigiana here in Australia is a bit of an iconic dish. There isn’t a pub bistro worth it’s salt that doesn’t have this retro classic on its menu. I can totally understand the allure – what’s not to like about a breaded piece of meat covered in an Italian style tomato sauce and lots of cheese! But like all such dishes there are the great, the good and the very mediocre. There aren’t too many ingredients in a Parmigiana so it’s important to use the best quality items you can. In this recipe I’ve used a veal cutlet which makes it a little more “fancy” but I also find the meat to crumb ratio is more satisfying on a thicker piece of meat. The tomato sauce also plays a starring role, so the extra step of making your own is worthwhile. Now onto the cheese. I like to use a mixture of fresh mozzarella, buffalo if I’m feeling flush, and parmesan. If you want to make this ahead of time you could have the meat breaded, the sauce made and the cheese sliced but I would only assemble it just before baking. As far as side dishes go I like to continue down the retro route with some spaghetti. You can serve it plain, with some extra tomato sauce stirred through it or as I’ve done here, make a fonduta of butter, cheese and some cream – hey, I never said this was going to be a lean meal!

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 veal cutlets
1 cup bread crumbs – I like to use half fresh and half panko
A pinch of chilli flakes
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
½ cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten with a little milk
Olive oil
1 medium size ball fresh mozzarella, or about 10 bocconcini, sliced thinly

Tomato Sauce – makes more than you need but freezes well
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
¼ cup diced pancetta or speck
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of chilli flakes
2-3 medium size, ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ cup tomato passata
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon sugar
A pinch of dried oregano
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

To make the sauce, place a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot add the onions and pancetta along with a pinch of salt and cook until lightly golden. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook stirring for a few minutes until they start to break down a little. Add the passata, tomato paste, sugar, oregano and a good pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook on low heat for at least 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside to cool.

Parmigiana Sauce

To make the veal, place the breadcrumbs on a large plate with the pinch of salt, chilli flakes, half of the parmesan cheese and the parsley and mix well to combine. Place the beaten egg and milk in a large shallow bowl and the flour on another plate. Season the veal well with salt and pepper. Place the cutlets first into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the milk mixture and finally into the bread crumbs, making sure to press down well and cover both sides generously. Place a large non stick skillet or frypan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the base. When the oil is hot add the veal cutlets and cook until each side is golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Veal Cutlet for Parmigiana Veal Parmigiana
Veal ParmigianaBest Ever Veal Parmigiana

To assemble the dish: preheat the oven to 180C. Place the fried cutlets onto a baking sheet and top each one generously with the tomato sauce. Then lay the sliced mozzarella over each cutlet making sure to cover the entire area. Finally sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbling.

Veal Cutlet Parmigiana