Monday, April 28, 2014

Creole Herb Battered Flathead with Parsnip and Wilted Spinach Puree, served with Charred Corn.

Part of growing with my blog and keeping myself interested and not overwhelmed by endless culinary technique is to keep learning myself. Today I learnt the art of the Parsnip Puree.

Parsnip is a root vegetable, closely related to the carrot. It’s creamy, rich and woody in flavour. It’s really complementary with meat and seafood and a perfect way to welcome winter eating.

The key to a perfect parsnip puree is to remove the woody core, which I had overlooked for a very long time. I didn’t even notice there was a core in parsnip, but it came out quite easy. By removing, you stop the puree from being grainy.

The hero of this dish is the Creole style battered flathead. Flathead is a firm, meaty fish without an overly fishy flavour, perfect for battering. Some people would argue that a battered flathead should be flathead in flour and lightly cooked in olive oil, and this is perfectly fine also. The idea of my heav(ier) batter was to pair this with the Creole seasoning, an ode to the warmth and opulence of the Deep South. Finishing the dish with fresh lemon really lightens the meal, however.

Yields 2 servings

Parsnip Puree
2 large parsnips
1 cup chicken stock
¼ brown onion
4 tbsp butter
1 garlic love
2 – 3 tbsp thick cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Creole Battered Flathead
4 flathead fillets
2 tbsp Creole spice mix
¾ cup plain flour
¾ cup ice cold water
½ tsp baking soda (as recommended by Rick Stein)
¾ cup olive oil
Fresh corn, char grilled

Start by cutting each parsnip in 2 halves. Starting from the bottom, with your hands and a knife, remove the core. Finish by cutting into quarters.

Sauté onions and garlic in half the butter, until just softened. Add the chicken stock and parsnips, cooking for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. In a pulsar or blender, add the parsnip and reduced stock with the remaining butter and cream.

In the hot pan, wilt spinach until a dark, emerald green. Add to pulsar and blend until soft and creamy.

In a separate pan, or on a grill, cook corn rubbed in olive oil. Do not turn often, as the corn needs to char. Once evenly cooked and charred, using a knife, shave downwards, taking off corn kernels.

Coat each flathead fillet lightly in flour. Combine flour, water, Creole spice mix and baking soda, mixing well. Coat fillets in batter and cook in heated olive oil on medium to high heat. Depending on the fillets, they do not need to be cooked for too long.

Rest for a minute on paper towels and serve immediately to keep the crunch.

To plate, smear puree on plate, topping with corn kernels. Serve with battered flat head and finish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Roti Pizza with Kale, Anchovies and Bocconcini

I have just returned home from a trip to New York and am withdrawing from NY pizza. There is a beautiful difference in taste between NY pizza and pizza we have here in Australia. Not to mention you can find slices at Papa John’s for $1.00. That’s right, $1.00.

I’m going to share a food story with you that may be akin to food porn, without the violent slapping of salami onto chests and the sort. I had a horrible habit of having ‘pizza parties’ with my other half, the day after a big night, hung over and regretting my choices from the night before. ‘Pizza party’ was really euphuism for this, as the party had well and truly ended. I recall demolishing an 18 inch pepperoni pizza, with a couple of hot wings thrown in for good measure, all in the space of 24 hours.

So, I’ve decided, moving forward there needs to be an alternative solution lined up that’s a little cleaner, leaner and healthier for such times and to keep my addiction at bay. The answer – Roti Pizza.

They are incredibly easy to make, you know the quality of ingredients you’re ingesting and it will cost you a small fraction of the price. You can really chuck anything you have at home spare, onto the pizza.

Yields 7 – 8 pizzas

Roti Dough (recipe from                                              
2 cups plain flour
1 cup water
½ tsp salt
30g butter
Vegetable oil (for cooking roti)

Ground Tomato Topping
2 – 3 roma tomatoes
¼ small onion
¼ red chilli
Coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove
3 - 4 basil leaves

4 – 6 kale leaves, without stalk, massaged in olive oil
Anchovies to taste
6 – 8 bocconcini balls
Basil leaves to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees C.

Roti Dough

Start by combining flour and salt in a bowl, making a well in the middle and adding water.  Knead dough for 5 – 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Melt butter and divide dough into 7 – 8 even pieces. Flatten each piece out with your hands and brush one side with butter. Role into a scroll shape and complete all rolls.

Heat a flat fry pan to high. Take the first ball, knead again, ensuring butter is worked through the dough. With a rolling pin and extra flour, roll out the dough and drop into frypan with a little oil. Try to keep the oil to a minimum as you want the roti to be charred and cooked without too much help from oil and butter.

Ground Tomato Topping

Finely chop all ingredients and combine with a pulsar or mortar and pestle, adding coarse salt to help break everything down.

Final Toppings

After each piece of roti has been cooked, place the ground tomato topping over each piece, dressing with the additional toppings listed.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until bocconcini is melted.