Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pancetta and Panko Midnight Trail

Late night on the job trail and I needed carbs. A really quick pasta throwing together everything I had left in my kitchen. I was hungry, so this served for one only, but it would be a great accompaniment to a meat main for two.

Serves two

Rigatoni pasta
½ cup diced pancetta
½ small onion diced
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼   cup walnuts
3 tbps olive oil
1 garlic clove
Cumin, salt and pepper to taste

Start by frying the onions and smashed garlic in olive oil. In separate pan, boil pasta. Soon follow with pancetta frying until brown. This is the ideal time to flavour the meal with cumin, salt and pepper. Quickly ad d panko breadcrumbs, stir and remove from heat after a minute. The excess oils will be taken up by the breadcrumbs, leaving everything rich and crunchy. Combine with pasta and finish with walnuts.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nolita Clam, Mango and Gorgonzola Pasta

It’s a throwback Thursday, whip-lashing back to my earlier months in New York. This is a recipe that I had put together in the spring of last year. Walking through Nolita, everything was new, fresh and inspiring. The streets of Little Italy were crowded with tables full of sun kissed diners, enjoying seafood, pasta and wine. What more could anyone ask for? With this In mind, I made my way to the busy markets in Chinatown wanting to capture my day, the images in my head, all in a meal. I wanted spring in a bottle.
Chinatown in a strange way always provides some kind of nostalgic comfort; the markets, the grocers, the people, hell, even the smell. I’ll come back to that when I post on some of my Chinese go-to dishes. I made my way through, buying fresh clams and mangoes. I wanted to match this freshness with something a little more Italian, so I decided on pasta.

I chose Gorgonzola cheese and asparagus to pair tart with the sweetness of mangoes, butter and wine poached clams and cherry tomatoes.

Serves four

1 pound of Clams
½ Mango
1 bunch of Asparagus
1 punnet of Cherry Tomatoes
3 tbsp chopped Parsley
½ cup Gorgonzola Cheese
2 tbsp Salted Butter
1 cup of White Wine
Truffle Sea Salt and Pepper
In a pan, heat wine and butter until lightly boiling. Add clams, one tablespoon of parsley and a pinch of truffle sea salt. Cook for eight minutes. Cut cherry tomatoes into halves and add during last moments of cooking. Blanch and shock asparagus in cool water, then grill on a high temperature, charring the stalks lightly. Slice mango into small pieces, set aside. Cook the pasta quickly, al dente.

While the pasta is warm, add clams and 2 tablespoons of reduced wine broth. Follow with chopped parsley and mango pieces. Toss and season with truffle salt and pepper to taste. Plate pasta in swirls on top of a bed of asparagus and top with gorgonzola cheese. 

New Orleans

Possibly one of the greatest cultural melting pots in America.  Food, culture, history and architecture meet to overload the senses!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Piri Piri Clams

Piripiri clams is a Portuguese blend of many national favorites; heat, seafood and pork. Piri piri sauce can reach unbearable heats. As a national staple, piri piri is splashed on meats, used to marinate, glaze and dunk. Few households and restaurants serve this sauce with pão (jaw working bread), as a starter. Also, anything BBQ'd with piri piri will have you crying and sweating at the same time. It's a must!
Before coming to the states I was a chilli wimp, a weakling. I could not take the heat. But easing my tastebuds into Hispanic pepper based dishes has given me a HUGE tolerance. But anyway, if heat isn’t for you, watered down piri piri sauces are available everywhere, which is what I did to start with. Break the dish down with a light beet and goat’s cheese salad. The dairy broke up the heat and sweats. A side of starchy potatoes also makes as a great side.

Serves four
1 pound of clams
½ pound female pork belly
¼ cup piri piri sauce
1 tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Beet and Goat’s Cheese Salad
½ cup walnuts
1 cup diced baby beats
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

Pan Fried Potatoes
1 pound red creamy baby potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp mustard powder


Female pork is better for cooking; it is less pungent than male pork. Dice pork belly and marinate in half the piri piri sauce for one hour. On a high heat, pan fry pork belly until crisp and brown. Shortly after, add the clams and remaining piri piri. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
 Halve potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. Straight after pan fry potatoes in butter, dousing in mustard powder, salt and pepper. Fry until crisp. For the salad, combine ingredients and add combined olive oil and lemon juice. The acidity from lemon juice keeps everything fresh and zesty.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bobby's Chilli-Stew

I am really thankful that I have at least one non abusive crutch when I get down and stressed. Being in the kitchen and cooking comfort food will always be my go-to when I’m down and out. Today that dish was a cross between a chilli and a stew. I kind of adapted this from a Two Fat Ladies recipe that I LOVE. It was originally a peasant’s dish, throwing together a lot of cheap, accessible and long lasting meats and vegetables to feed a whole household.

Serves four

1 cup of diced salted and cured pork
½ pound of diced beef
2 small chorizo
5 small creamy red potatoes
1 capsicum/bell pepper
½ large onion
4 cloves of garlic
½ cup tomato paste
1 cup canned whole tomatoes
1 cup red kidney beans
1 cup black beans
2 cups of water
½ cup port wine
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp mustard powder
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
5 bay leaves
1 crusty loaf


Start with all of the prep work. Cut meats into small pieces, dice onions, parsley and keep potatoes whole. In a hot pan, heat olive oil and seal beef. Set aside and quickly add salted pork, onions and whole garlic cloves. Next, add port. Using alcohol will lift the flavors from the pan and using port will add warmth. Cook until brown and oily. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, all beans, potatoes, parsley and herbs. Stir and transfer to a large oven proof baking pot also adding beef and one cup of water.
Set aside the baking pot and char grill the bell peppers over a gas stove top or in a broiler. Sweat and peal back burnt skin. Once diced, add to pot and stir. Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 Celsius. Be sure to stir regularly and add remaining water if liquid reduces too far.

Serve with a crusty loaf. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

French Onion Soup

The art of perfecting this dish isn't overly difficult; it’s all in the timing.

French onion soup is a dish that dates back as far as Roman times. The modern day version, as we know it came to life in France, originally as a peasant’s dish, as onions were cheap and in surplus.

Combing butter, sugar, wine, cheese and bread, this dish marries many pleasures and creates a decadent dish that nobody will ever say no to!

Serves four – six people

1.5 Pounds of Onions
1 Cup of Salted Butter
½ Cup Raw Brown Sugar
1 Small Garlic Clove
½ Cup Sherry
¼ Cup Bourbon
3 Cups of Beef Stock
Stale Crusty Bread
2 Tbsp Flour
2 Cups of Gruyere Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste


As important as the flavors are, texture is equally important; when dicing the onions, cut them in half, the slice long ways to achieve long pieces. As the onions do soften and break down and being the only ingredient, it’s quite nice to have the longer pieces.

Melt the butter into a pot, once heated, cook onions and garlic for 15 – 20 minutes. The onions must be well browned. Do not add salt at this point, there is enough in the butter and despite much debate about the pros of sweating the onions, it’s better for a long cooking process for them to retain as much juice as possible. After this add the sugar and caramelize the onions. Onions have a naturally occurring sugar and caramelizing with brown sugar adds a wonderful mellow flavor that pairs well against the saltiness of the remaining ingredients.

Once caramelized, add both alcohols and cook for 5 minutes until the initial alcohol has cleared. After, add the flour to the onions and cook through to remove the taste of flour. Once done, add the beef stock and stir well and leave to stew for an hour on a low heat. This is one of the most important things to pay attention to, the soup flavors need to meld and good soup takes time.

Grate the cheese and slice thick pieces of crusty bread. Gruyere cheese has the consistency of mozzarella with the taste of a full bodied cheese; it’s a win-win. If you don’t have Gruyere, mixing mozzarella with a strong cheese of your choice is a perfect substitute. Next, toast the bread until it is crisp.

After an hour of cooking, the soup should be thick and rich with texture and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste then place the soup in soup ramekins that are oven friendly. The soup should be thick enough to hold the bread and cheese on top. Once dished, melt under a grill or broil until the cheese is well browned and melting ridiculously over the edges.