Brinner | Pea + Ricotta Fritters

Nothing pleases me more than the world realising what we’ve always known: No one breakfasts better than Australia. But while Sydney and Melbourne get all the glory, make no mistake – Perth is no slouch on the brunch front.

When my beloved Bitchez Who Brunch posted this beauty from Sayers Sister, it was an instant yes moment – everything I was craving in one go. Except, it was 4pm on a Tuesday, and who can wait until the weekend?

Enter: Brinner.

(brin-ner) adj. breakfast eaten at the time in which you eat dinner.
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This dish is full of spring goodness, and hits all the flavour points – sweet, salty, creamy and sharp, with plenty of green for smug. Perfect for your weekend’s brekky with the girls, or you know, tonight’s dinner. I’m not going to judge.

Pea + Ricotta Stacks with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Adapted from Donna Hay

400g fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons self raising flour
2 egg whites
3/4 cup frozen peas
8 slices prosciutto
Handful shaved Parmesan
Handful rocket leaves
2-4 eggs (depending on the number of people/how hungry you are)

In a frying pan over medium heat, fry the prosciutto until crispy, a couple of minutes each side. Set aside.

For the fritters, mix together the ricotta, flour, and mint in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the eggs into the ricotta mixture until just combined.

Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan (non stick, if you can, they’re sticky bastards), and spoon a couple of tablespoons into the pan and cook for 3 minutes each side until golden.

While the fritters cook, poach your eggs to the required doneness (if you need help).

Stack as follows: Fritter, prosciutto, rocket, Parmesan and repeat. I went 4 fritters high, and topped with a runny poached egg.

For extra fancy, I also drizzled with basil oil (recipe here), but that’s up to you.

Dinner in a brisket

I’m going through a phase. We all go through them. Sometimes it’s a black lipstick and creeper shoes-wearing thing. Or bad boys with leather jackets and motorbikes. Scuba diving. Knitting. Dance classes, because you marathoned all of the Step Up movies in a weekend, and you can totally do that.

At the moment, I’m obsessed with Jewish cook books. The transition into winter is probably the catalyst, following on from all the Lent-inspired recipes. Jewish cooking looks so comforting. If any kind of food felt like a warm hug, it’s definitely this. A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Monday Morning Cooking Club: The Feast Goes on. I liked it so much, I immediately picked up their other book. We’re going to come back and talk about this another day, but the important thing to note is: brisket. These books love brisket. I was immediately inspired.

Brisket, if you’ve never come across it before, is cut from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. It’s a tough piece of meat which benefits from some super slow cooking to render it tender and melty. I picked mine up from the magical team at Gingin Beef at the Subi Farmers Markets. Ask your local butcher for it, because you won’t find it at Coles or Woolies.

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Now I know what you’re thinking. This looks like a lot of work. I mean, brisket sounds fancy and complicated. But fear not! It’s incredibly simple, I promise. Would I lie to you?

The barbecue sauce is made up from stuff that you’ve probably got in your pantry. The spice rub is super easy to throw together, but if you’ve got a pre-made rub in the back of the cupboard, feel free to use it. Mac and cheese can be thrown together is 10 minutes. The recipe can even be doubled, or tripled, and divided up and frozen for future can’t-be-assed-cooking nights – and with the impending cold weather, we all know there are plenty of those comin’.

Now. The recipe that follows serves 6-8 people, so feel free to halve it all. The piece of brisket I used was 900g, which was a touch small for 4 people, so maybe aim for 1.2kg for 4 people.

Beef Brisket and Mac and Cheese

From Daily Life

Beef Brisket

A piece of brisket, about 5kg

Barbecue Sauce
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
500ml tomato sauce
100ml Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp chopped thyme
Spice Rub
2 tbsp each chilli powder and mustard powder
1 tbsp each paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, ground black pepper, castor sugar
1 bay leaf, crushed

To make the barbecue sauce, cook the onion and garlic in the oil, in a large fan over medium heat. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and blend with a food processor to form a smooth puree.

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Heat the oven to 150*c. Mix all of the spice rub ingredients together with a good pinch of salt, then rub all over the brisket.

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Add the sauce and two cups of water to a roasting tray, pop in the brisket, then cover tightly with baking paper and then foil. Place in the oven and roast for at least 4 hours (maybe 5 if it’s a big piece), until it’s fork-tender.

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Once it’s done in the oven, grill the brisket in a hot frypan for a couple of minutes each side, until lightly charred. Cut into thick slices and serve.

 

Mac and Cheese

500g macaroni
olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely diced
4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
600ml cream
150g grated aged cheddar
350g grated gruyere
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp seeded Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
100g  breadcrumbs

Place the pasta in a large pot boiling salted water, and cook according to packet instructions until al-dente. Drain well and set aside.

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Heat some oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then cool the onion and bacon until the onion is soft and the bacon is golden. Remove from the pan and leave to drain on a paper towel. Return the pan to high heat and add the cream, brining to a boil. Lower the heat and add the garlic, mustard, paprika and cheese.

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Simmer for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted and sauce thickens. Return the onion and bacon to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
In a large baking dish, add the pasta and sauce, stir until the pasta is coated, then top with the breadcrumbs and parsley. If you’re prepping the mac and cheese in advance, refrigerate until the brisket comes out of the oven, turn up the heat to 200* and cook until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

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In the interest of your arteries, serve with some kind of token salad. It definitely cancels out.

Those summer nights

There are some days where it’s pure torture to drag yourself into the kitchen. Even food bloggers aren’t immune to this.

Maybe it’s 38* outside.
Maybe you’ve had to do a lot of cooking lately.
Maybe you’re just too damn tired, and flopping on the couch with a season of Vikings and a bottle of wine is a much better idea.
Maybe it’s all of these things on the same day (last Monday, if you wanted to know).

These are all perfectly legit reasons to eat from the instant/delivered section of the food pyramid. BUT, if you stay with me, I can present to you a dinner that takes less time and effort to cook than it takes for Chinese to appear on your doorstep, with the added bonus of being good for you. I promise.

Lamb Skewers with Mint Pea and Feta Salad

From Good Food

500g lamb rump
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and black pepper
300g frozen peas
1 bag mixed lettuce greens
1/3 cup torn mint leaves, chopped
1/3 cup parsley leaves, chopped
150g marinated Persian feta
Flatbread, to serve

Dice the lamb into bite size chunks. Toss together in a bowl with oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. Soak wooden skewers in cold water, if you’re using them, to prevent them from burning.

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When you’re ready to eat, cook the peas in a pot of boiling water until tender (5 minutes, or whatever the packet instructions say). Drain, and refresh in cold water. Add the peas, herbs, greens and feta together and toss to combine.

Heat a bbq or frying pan. Thread the lamb onto the skewers evenly. Grill the skewers for a couple of minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking.

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Serve lamb with salad and flatbread.

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I used the flatbread to make everything into little wraps, because everything tastes better in a wrap. Duh.

Everything tastes better when it’s round.

If there’s something that we can all agree on, there is nothing more delicious than pork belly. It appeals on so many levels – it can be roasted all sexy and crispy, or slow braised until it melts. It also works across the entire flavour spectrum, making it completely versatile.

But, let’s be honest, it’s also a little bit done. Everyone, everywhere, has done it to death. 

Enter your new Big Love – LAMB BELLY. It’s all the deliciousness of pork belly, with the additional awesome of lamb! You’re welcome, Kosher eaters.

Let me tell you – nothing makes you feel more cheffy than learning to tie something with kitchen string. Plus, everything tastes better when it’s round, which has been documented by science. Think about it, pizza, Wagon Wheels, scrolls, cheese burgers, doughnuts. You know it’s true. That is why this dish ticks all the boxes.

Crispy Stuffed Lamb Belly

Adapted from Food 52

3 tablespoons oregano, finely minced
1 cup feta, finely crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil
900g lamb belly, off the bone
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef stock

Preheat the oven to 180*c.

Mix the feta, oregano and olive oil in a bowl (I used my food processor) and combine until it forms a paste.

Lay the belly out flat on a cutting board, fat side down.  Spread the feta paste evenly across the belly, leaving a small border around the edge.

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Start at one of the short edges, and roll the belly tightly, then tie every inch or there abouts with kitchen string. Rub the outside with the combined minced garlic, salt and a splash of olive oil.

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Place the rolled roast fattier side up in a heavy bottomed oven and stove top proof dish. Add the wine, stock and juice, cover and roast in the oven for 2 hours.   Increase the heat to 230*c and roast for a further 15 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

Note: As my piece of belly was only about half the size called for in the recipe, it was done in 45 minutes.


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Serve with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes and a green salad.

Double up

There are many great pairs in this world.

Mac and cheese. Romeo and Juliet. Ten and Rose. Peas and carrots. Siegfried and Roy. Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Homer and Marge.

There are probably fewer great ‘threes’. All I could really think of was Eleven, Amy and Rory. Maybe Crosby, Stills and Nash. Destiny’s Child. Or Harry, Ron and Hermione.

But right along side them should be scones with jam and cream. Who doesn’t love them? I’m a sucker for a good Devonshire Tea, and decades of nanas, well, I’m not going to argue with them.

So when the email announcing the next Secret Cake Club meeting hit my inbox, I couldn’t resist. I love jam and cream, but knew that I wouldn’t be the only one thinking of them.

I love love love this recipe from Julia Taylor (you know, MasterChef 2012 dessert queen) for it’s simplicity, as well as its make-in-advance-ness. I had a busy few days in the lead up to Cake Club, and all the components of the tart could be made upfront, and then put together right before serving.

 

Strawberry Jam Tart with Ricotta Cream

By Julia Taylor via MasterChef Magazine

250ml thickened cream
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 orange, zested
400g firm ricotta
1 punnet strawberries, hulled, halved if large

Dough
200g plain flour
30g almond meal
55g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg

Strawberry Jam
500g strawberries, hulled
300g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 granny smith apple, peeled and grated

To make the dough, mix together the flour, almond mean, icing sugar and butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add an egg and combine until it just comes together. Shape the dough into a rectangle, then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the jam, over a medium low heat, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook for 50 minutes or until at setting point. Tot test for setting point, spoon a teaspoon of jam onto a cold plate, then freeze for 5 minutes. When you run your finger through the jam, it should wrinkle and the line should still be there. Then eat the jam from your finger and marvel your handiwork, because it’s delicious. Set aside to cool.

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Heat the oven to 180*c. Roll the dough out thinly, then line a loose bottomed pie tin. Freeze for 15 minutes. Line the shell with baking paper, fill with baking weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and paper, then bake again for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool.

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For the cream, whisk the thickened cream until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sifted icing sugar, orange zest and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth, then add the cream mix and beat until smooth and combined.

Spread the jam evenly over the tart shell. Spoon the cream over the jam, and then decorate with extra strawberries and any extra jam.  Serve immediately.

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But what do you do when you accidentally buy a kilo each of ricotta and strawberries, because you forgot to write down the amount you need on your shopping list? You make this, the most foolproof and forgiving cheesecake in the world.

See what I did there? Two recipes, using similar ingredients – but with completely different results. BOOYA.

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A day in the life…

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

Now, there are a few things you must know about this girl. She’s accident prone, for one. Has a short attention span for another. Those two things are directly linked. This day, in its entirety, did actually happen recently. I wrote it down to cheer up a friend, and reading it back amuses me, only because otherwise that’s the only choice I have.

Also, I swear I did Real Work, but that’s nowhere near as interesting.

6:30 – Alarm goes off. Without opening my eyes, or lifting my head, I smack the snooze button dead on, first time, go back to sleep. 
7:05 – Actually get out of bed. Curse myself for running late, promise myself I won’t do this tomorrow. I say this every day. 
7:20 – Out of shower. Attempt make up, still half asleep and shivering, with… Interesting results. 
7:40 – Peek out the window, it’s rained overnight. This cheers me up, as I really enjoy puddle jumping. Curse my housemate for not letting me buy wellies. 
7:50 – Definitely late now. Arrrrgh. 
8:16 – Try to sneak into the office. Bash my hand on the elevator door. Curse loudly, and literally run into my boss, who is now second guessing the decision to move the woman who used to sit next to me, as she was the team’s first aid officer. Apparently, I’m the best form of training anyone could ever hope for.
8:30 – Burn myself with boiling water making my first coffee for the morning. I work for the government (kind of), it takes me 5 minutes to convince the OH&S officer that I don’t need to file a safety incident report, and that I’m just clumsy. She now thinks I’m an idiot.
8:40 – Score a hazelnut latte from a buddy, as our barista made two by mistake. The vast amount of sugar in my system is starting to numb the throbbing in my hand. 
9:00 – Finish latte, and the coffee I just made. Not sure how smart that was. Seemed like a good idea at the time though.
9:25 – Heart palpitations and hand shakes are normal in a young person, right?
9:38 – I think I’m dying. Maybe salt would counter the sugar/caffeine. I’m going to pretend chips are a breakfast food. Owwwww…
9:50 – Google sonic screwdrivers while I wait for the chest pains to subside. Wonder if you can order phone boxes on the interwebz. Wonder where in my house I could fit it. Decide that I don’t care, I’ll make it fit if it means I have to cut a hole in the roof. Landlord be damned!
10:23 – The sharp caffeine come-down is making me cranky, and I growl at one of my minions for asking a really stupid question. He now won’t look me in the eye, and I get the feeling he’s afraid of me. As all minions should be. I consider this to be good work.
10:30 – Begin the daily ‘what’s for lunch’ debate. This goes on for some time.
10:52 – Get caught by my division manager doing my t-rex impression. I want to put a bell on this man, where did he come from? This is going to take some explaining…Bollocks.
11:00 – Google ideas for dinner. I’m really really hungry.
11:27 – Rock out at my desk with one of the girls to the Foo Fighters. Whip myself in the eye with my hair though, which really hurts.
12:30 – Return from lunch with various snacks. Proceed to get myself covered in crumbs, and when my boss wanders over to ask me a question, I discover I have cheese on my face. Quietly die of shame.
1:30 – So full, trying not to fall asleep at my desk. Can’t actually fit more coffee in my stomach. Resort to poking myself with a pin to stay awake. Stupid carb coma. Debate the validity of bulimia as a lifestyle choice when you eat as much as I do. Decide it has merits, but I’m too lazy.
2:15 – Get sent on an errand for my boss. Stacked it in the middle of an intersection. In front of many, many people. I think someone clapped. 2:30 – Discover one of the girls I work with doesn’t know who Michael Bolton is. This results in much facepalming, googling lyrics and youtubing ‘How can we be lovers‘ and ‘I said I loved you but I lied‘. Also involves some passionate, overwrought sing alongs, complete with power ballad fist pumping.
3:15 – Try to retain a sense of decorum while I try to explain to a friend that it’s probably a bad day for her to start her new diet, considering we are going out for Italian for dinner tomorrow night. Which was her idea in the first place. Give up.

After an exhausting day, there are few things quite like coming home to an easy, comforting dinner.

This is, without question, one of my all time favourite things to eat. Who would have thought a ham and cheese sammich could be made so fantastic? Uh, the French. They take everything and inject it with awesome.

So, when all else fails (and I fail at life regularly), keep this recipe in mind. It makes everything better.

Croque Monsieur

From Esquire

1 tbsp butter, plus softened butter for bread
1 tbsp plain flour
3/4 cup milk
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 tbsp Parmesan, grated
85g Gruyère cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup).
4 thick slices good bread
Dijon mustard
170g thinly sliced ham,

1. Preheat oven to 180*c.

2. To make béchamel sauce: Melt butter until foamy in a small saucepan on low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes until smooth. Stirring continuously, slowly add milk, and cook for 2 minutes or until it thickens. Add the nutmeg and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper. Stir in Parmesan and 2 tbsp grated Gruyère, remove from heat and set aside.

3. Lightly butter the bread slices on both sides and toast in a pan until they turn just golden brown.

4. Spread the Dijon on one side of each slice of bread. Place the ham and ½ cup Gruyère cheese on two of the slices of bread. Top with the other slice of bread, mustard side down.

5. Spread a layer of béchamel sauce across the top and sides of the bread, sprinkling with remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on a tray covered in baking paper and bake for 5 minutes, then place under a grill for 3 minutes, until the cheese bubbles and turns golden layer  brown.

P.S. SUNDAY! This. It’s going to be amazing, and you should be there. Fact.

P.P.S. Come back Friday. I have an announcement. You could win stuff, and winning stuff is AWESOME. Fact.

Beaufort Street goodness.

Who’s excited for the Beaufort Street Festival? Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

It’s on November 17. Write it down. This year, they’re doing something a little different. Don’t worry! It’s still full of food, fun things, fantastic music and fortheloveofallthatsholypleasekeepthepettingzoo. Can I request that? ALWAYS HAVE A PETTING ZOO.

But this year, there is also a cook book. Yes! The book will be a compilation of recipes, along with stories from the community.

Recipes & Ramblings; A Food Journey from Beaufort Street and Beyond.”

I’ve been lucky enough to help out with recipe testing, feedback and last weekend, I cooked for the actual book. Yes, I cooked things (not my recipes) and they will be in the book. It was pretty fantastic, I can tell you that.

Of course, after a 9 hour day of cooking, I came home pretty damn knackered. But still, a girl’s gotta eat. And what does a girl eat when she can barely keep her eyes open? Something with minimal risk of injury, fire or death.

Luckily, I am exceptionally good at washing dishes.

Polenta is cruelly underrated. Creamy, easy and a great substitute for mashed potato – keep some in the pantry for a quick addition to meat or fish for dinner. I love this recipe for it’s ultimate comfort food status, plus it’s big on flavour, low on ingredients, effort and preparation. It’s all coming up Milhouse.

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta

From River Cottage Vege by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

2 tbsp olive oil
Large knob of butter
650g mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Few sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
150ml red wine
150ml vegetable or mushroom stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the polenta
400ml milk
1 bay leaf
Sprig of thyme
A few peppercorns
½ onion and/or 2 garlic cloves, bashed
150g quick-cook polenta
20g butter
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
20g parmesan, finely grated with extra to serve

To make the polenta, add milk, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and onion and/or garlic with 400ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to a good simmer, then remove from heat and set aside to let the flavours come together, about 20 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and half your butter in a large pan. Season half the mushrooms with a good dose of salt and pepper, and then cook, stirring regularly until the juices have evaporated. Throw in half the garlic and thyme and cook for a further minute.  Set aside. Repeat with the remaining butter/shrooms/garlic/thyme.

Throw all the shrooms into the pan, adding the wine and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half.

Scoop out the flavourings from the milk infusion, then bring to a simmer. Pour in the polenta, stirring until smooth. Cook for a minute, then remove from heat. Add the cheese, rosemary and butter, then season with salt and pepper. Go heavy on the salt (yes, you heard me right. Salt. Lots. Go.), it tastes amazing.

Serve the mushrooms on top of polenta, with lashings of extra cheese.