Breaking Bread

So, this is Christmas. And what have you done? If you’re anything like me, you’ve been run off your feet with Christmas parties, shopping, wrapping, planning, cooking, shopping, drinking more shopping (what is with all these little last minute presents?!) and a million catch-ups.

It’s well documented that I’m a grinch, however, I can’t hate everything about this time of year. I mean, it’s the best time to get out and try all the places that you never got to during the year, under the guise of merriment and quality time with friends and family!

The one place I still haven’t gotten to is Fremantle’s Bread in Common. The brain child of Nic Trimboli (you might of heard of him – his other ventures include Balthazar, Duende, Gordon St Garage – oh, and a little place called Little Creatures) is buzzing on Packenham Street, away from the myriad of fairly average cappuccino and pizza/pasta tourist pleasers that has rendered Fremantle a culinary wasteland for far too long.

The hero dish (aside from the bread) that I’m dying to try are the mint lamb ribs with black garlic; there is nothing about that dish that doesn’t sound amazing to me. Luckily, I happened across the recipe in the current Delicious Magazine, and was ecstatic that I don’t have to wait to try them!

Lamb ribs are all kinds of fantastic. They’ve been living in the shadows of the more popular pork and beef ribs; but are increasingly taking centre stage on restaurant menus. The good news is, lamb ribs are a ridiculously cheap cut of meat (unlike pork and beef), and you can buy a kilo of ribs for around $10, making this a great dish to make for a group of people, or maybe even leave out for Santa! Actually, don’t do that. If you leave meat out overnight for Santa, you might just kill him.

Black Garlic & Herb Lamb Ribs

From Delicious Magazine

1.2kg Macabee Dorper lamb ribs
3tbsp peanut oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1tbsp chopped thyme and rosemary
375ml white wine
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
6 cloves black garlic
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
Coriander leaves, to serve
Marinade
1/2 bunch each of mint, rosemary and flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 long green chillies
2 tsp each coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and whole black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves
Blitz the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor with 2 tsp salt until coarsely chopped.

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Rub the marinade into the ribs, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if time allows.

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Heat your oven to 140*C. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a roasting pan. Add the carrot and onion to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the ribs, thyme, rosemary and wine to the pan, then add enough hot water to cover the ribs. Bring the pan to a simmer, then remove from heat and cover with baking paper and foil and place in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat is tender.

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For the dressing, mix together mint, black garlic, chilli, sugar, vinegar and last 2 tbsp oil until combined.
Remove the ribs from the roasting pan, and discard the liquid. Season the ribs and char-grill in a pan over high heat, for 6 minutes or until golden.

Place the ribs on a plate and serve with dressing and coriander.

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Black garlic can be bought in tubs from supermarkets, and is simply fermented garlic cloves. They’re sweeter, less pungent than regular garlic and the dramatic colour adds interest to the plate. If you can’t find it, substitute roasted garlic cloves.

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Get steaked

March.

Is anyone else really looking forward to this month?

  • First things first, there’s the cool weather change which I’m welcoming with open arms. Jumpers! Knee socks! 
  • The State Election. March 9, AKA this weekend. VOTE. 
  • Eat Drink Perth – A spectacular Perth food festival. Check here, herehere and here for details
  • The return of not only Doctor Who, but also Game of Thrones (nerd alert!)
  • EASTER. The festival of chocolate and long weekends!
  • St Patrick’s Day! WEAR ALL THE GREEN!

Writing all these things down makes me realise just how busy I’m going to be… Ugh. I love all the things that I have on, but I’m a bit of an introvert so I don’t always love being run off my feet.

I’m a known lover of comfort food, and this is one of my current favourites. This is a really easy way to level up what is essentially steak and salad. Throw in some crusty bread to mop up the oil and juices, and hell, you can eat without cutlery. Who doesn’t love less dishes?

I know the oil stuff sounds a little fiddly. It’s not, really. You could also just steep the garlic and rosemary in oil for a couple of hours, tasting occasionally. Alternatively, you can buy flavoured oils from good food stores, which pretty much takes out all of the work. I see no problem with this.

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

From BBC Food

400g cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves , chopped finely
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 

Heat the oven to 180C.

Cut a cross into the bottom of each tomato. Toss the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a small roasting dish. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

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Garlic-Rosemary Steak

From Bon Appetit

3/4 cup plus 7 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 cup rosemary sprigs
4 steaks
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
6 large garlic cloves, sliced

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat 3/4 cup of oil and the rosemary for a couple of minutes or until it bubbles. Set aside to steep for a couple of hours, then strain and discard the rosemary. Set aside.

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Rub the steak with 1 tbsp oil, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan over high heat, and quickly sear the steaks on both sides then set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining 4 tbsp oil and garlic to the pan, turning to cook until the garlic is brown but not burnt. Strain the oil into a bowl and discard the garlic.

Slice the steaks against the grain. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp garlic oil in the pan until it shimmers. Add half of the steak and turn once, cooking until done to your liking. Add 1 tbsp of the rosemary oil and toss. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining oil.

Season the steak with sea salt and more oil if you like.  Serve on a platter with the roasted tomatoes and crusty bread.


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Shortbread n not-so-sweet

Savoury treats. They exist! Who knew? Not me, because I like sugar. But there are people, those strange, puzzling people who like salt and they deserve treats too. I feel bad for those people because I just don’t think about them when I’m baking. Given that I live to cook for other people, I feel terrible when someone is left out.

There is only one girl on my team at work who has no sweet tooth. She politely smiles at me when I bring in cake, when I know she’s really wishing I had brought chips. When I stumbled on a recipe for savoury shortbread while trawling the archives of Raspberri Cupcakes, I made a mental note to make them immediately.

What I love about this recipe, is that you split the dough in half and chill prior to baking. One roll made at least a dozen biscuits, so the other roll can be frozen for use another day – great when you have surprise visitors and nothing to eat! I love having things stashed away in the freezer like that, ready to whip out at a moment’s notice; it makes me feel like a Supremely Organised Martha Stewart-esque Domestic Goddess. Functioning adult FTW!

I loved these with a little roasted garlic and a gorgeous Camembert from Over the Moon. The garlic is simple – peel half a dozen cloves of garlic, throw them in a roasting dish with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, roast for 20-30 minutes at 200*c until soft and lightly browned. Mash with a fork, add a little more olive oil until a paste forms, taste; add more seasoning if required.

Kalamata Olive & Black Pepper Savoury Shortbread

From Raspberri Cupcakes

100g well-drained, pitted and finely diced kalamata olives
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
280g unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp white sugar
1 large egg yolk

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, bicarb soda, salt and pepper then set aside. Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the egg yolk and combine thoroughly. Mix in the flour slowly, then fold through the chopped olives.

On a floured bench top, bring the dough together. Halve the dough and roll them into logs, about 4cm. Wrap them up in glad wrap and freeze for an hour to firm up.

Heat the oven to 180*c. Unwrap the dough, and cut into half centimeter slices.

Place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges gently brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack, and store in an air tight container for up to a week.

Womaning. I’m doing it wrong.

According to social research, 49% of women under the age of 30 can’t roast a chicken. Apparently, this makes us bad women. Also, only 20% of women can bake a lamington, but we’ll tackle that another day.

Every Christmas, I throw my friends a pre-Christmas dinner catch up. We do presents, wine, dinner, wine, ridiculous desserts, more wine. It’s fabulous and delicious. It’s also a great excuse for me to buy many, many cookbooks in the name of ‘research’. Winning!

This year, I wanted to do something I’d never tried before.
So, in the name of impressing my friends and being a ‘better’ woman, I learnt how to spatchcock and roast a chicken.
Want to know what’s brilliant about this technique? It’s stupidly easy. It looks really impressive. And once you’ve prepped the chook, it just needs to go into the oven. That’s it!

Spatchcock, or butterflying, a chicken is very simple. It’s just a matter of cutting out the backbone, flipping it over, and pressing the chicken until the breast bone breaks. I followed this video from Food Wishes (Chef John sounds the way I imagine one of those jolly fat chefs you see would, he’s fantastic), all you need is a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, and away you go.

Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Chicken

1 whole fresh free range chicken
1 wedge of preserved lemon
2 small/medium whole lemons
7 cloves of garlic, 2 roughly chopped, the rest whole and in their paper skins
Bunch of rosemary
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 200* c. Place spatchcocked chicken into a baking dish. In the cavity under the chicken, place half a lemon, and a couple of whole garlic cloves.

2. Make up some garlic butter, combining the two chopped cloves of garlic with some slightly softened butter (roughly 30 grams, depending on the size of your chicken). Insert garlic butter under the skin of the chicken, massaging the skin to spread it evenly.

2. In a small bowl, pour enough oil to cover chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Zest the rind of half a lemon into the oil. Discard the flesh and pith of the preserved lemon, and finely chop the rind. Combine into the oil mix, and give a quick stir to mix evenly. Pour the oil mix over the skin of the chicken, massaging the skin to make sure its evenly spread.

3. Place remaining lemon wedges, garlic cloves, and a couple of sprigs of rosemary into the baking dish. Roast for around an hour. You can, if you like, squeeze the juice from the roasting lemons over the chicken half way through. The internal temperature of a properly roasted chicken should be 165*c (check this with a meat thermometer) or when the juices run clear when the meat is cut.

4. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The chicken wasn’t dry at all (the garlic butter takes care of that), and makes for awesome leftovers in a sammich the next day.
Wham, bam, thank you mam’. Easiest Christmas dinner ever.
Best woman ever? Well, not yet. I still need to learn lamingtons.