Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Flathead Fancying

It's bizzarely chilly here at the moment. And for February in Australia that's a little bit wrong. It would normally be swelteringly, stinkingly HOT.

I am in no way complaining. I've had socks and docs and a cardie on! AND I lit the fire. Lovely.
It also inspired me to get in the kitchen and create something.

I am participating in a little game along with others over here at The Mum and The Chef to create something fab using a nominated core ingredient. This time it's "local fish".

Well, for me, that's a bit tricky as there's not much local fish up my way, in Central Victoria, so I chose fresh flathead from Port Phillip Bay.

I raided my garden for some things and bought a couple of things, but mostly thrown together from what was in my fridge and pantry.

I made up my recipes, except for the cucumber salad, which I borrowed from my "boyfriend" Jamie x ; )

Jamon and Sorrel rolled Flathead
Pumpkin, Whitebean and Coriander Mash
Shaved Cucumber Salad

Here are my ingredients...

Flathead fillets with skin and bone
white beans/cannellini beans
preserved lemon
a lime
sorrel (so lovely, like lemon flavoured English spinach)
prosciutto or, as I used, jamon serrano
not in shot are the all-important salt, pepper, lime, evoo, ginger and chilli flakes.

First, pick out all the bones from the Flathead, doesn't matter if it gets a wee bit mangled it will be wrapped up soon!
Lay 3 pieces of prosciutto on a board and along the top edge spread some thinly shredded preserved lemon skin, then place the fish skin side UP, on top of the preserved lemon.

Now lay enough sorrel leaves on top of the skin of the fish to cover and then drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top of the leaves.

Now carefully roll the fish towards you and wrap it up nice and snugly, like below. Then pop it on a lightly oiled tray in an oven pre-heated to about 350F/180C. It should take about 15 minutes.

While that's happening, chop pumpkin in to chunks (as much as you want for how ever many you are cooking for) and pop into some boiling water with as many peeled and slightly squashed garlic cloves as you like, I used 4.

While this is cooking, you can make the cucumber salad.
Grate a small knob of ginger into a small bowl, add a glug of olive oil, the juice of half a juicy lime, a little bit of soy sauce and about half a teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix it up well and taste to see if it needs adjusting or any salt. Now, with one of those flexible vegie peelers, peel the cucumber on to a plate, in full-length ribbons, discarding the outer, all-skin, ones and stopping as you get to the seedy centre. Roughly chop some coriander leaves and put aside with the cucumber ribbons. Don't add the dressing until you are ready to serve.

When the pumpkin is almost soft, add roughly the same amount of cooked white (cannellini) beans and as soon as they have had a chance to warm through, turn off and drain. Return to the saucepan and let dry out on top of the stove for a couple of minutes. Then add some very finely chopped coriander, roots and all (see below), a splosh of olive oil and some salt and pepper and MASH away until it's to the consistency you like.

Right, now get your fish out of the oven and start assembling everything.

Add enough dressing to the cucumber to coat and toss it together with the chopped coriander, then pile and arrange it on your serving plate and sprinke with some chilli flakes or fresh thinly shredded red chilli.

Then place your mash on the plate and carefully lay the fish on top

And then...VOILA! Ta-Da! Hey Presto! It's done.

I am very pleased with how it turned out and the flavour mix was just right.
It was fun plotting and planning what to do with my choice of "local fish" and now I'm looking forward to the next challenge!

Have a look at what some of the others came up with...here are the links to their pages.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Garlic Jewels, Spuds & Upside-down Cooking

I thought I would show you a couple of things I have successfully (if I may say so, myself) whipped up in the kitchen lately.

Whilst checking out The Hungry Girls Cookbook website, I found this delicious recipe for an Apricot, Almond & Spice cake and as there is an abundance of affordable stone fruit around, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I'm not normally a baker, but I do love the resurgence of pride in home baking. As it is a culinary art that very much depends on accuracy and recipe following, it just doesn't suit my "what-have-I-got?, let's-just throw-it-together-and-see" style of cooking. Also, I have very warm hands which means that dough and pastry handling are set for flop-dom around me, because they love a chilly environment for success.

I gave it my best shot, but as it is genetically impossible for me to FOLLOW A RECIPE to the tee, I foophed with it a teeny bit. I added some lemon zest and swapped one of the three tablespoons of golden syrup for one of agave syrup. I also used ground cardamon. Getting the kernels out of the husks was hysterical - I have a monster mortar and pestle, but every time I tried to smash one open it would fly out across the room.

When I laid my apricots in the tin, I popped them in the opposite way to the recipe, and was originally upset about this, but I was very happy with the end result.

We have been eating it with some very decadent Gipplsand pure double cream...Mmmmmmm

Amazing how mixing together bits of these ingredients (plus some lemon zest!):

gives you this:

Last week, I popped down to Daylesford Organics to buy some of their scrumptious, flavour-ridden garlic and scored a BOB-bonus.

As they like to let their garlic grow its flower heads, or bulbils, these come still attached to the garlic hands. Although the day I was there, they were starting to drop off, so we popped them all in a paper bag so they didn't end up all over the floor of the you-beaut-ute. The bulbils, in themselves, are teeny, little, purple bursts of intense garlic flavour. I renamed them "Garlic Jewels" because of their precious-ness and their glossy, purple colour. You can see some photos of what they look like still in flower-head form, here.

Here are the ones I brought home.

I bought some free-range chicken maryland pieces and when I got home, went out to the vegie garden and dug up some spuds. I have no idea what variety as they came up unexpectedly!

I scrubbed the potatoes and chopped them up so they were all roughly the same size and threw them in a heavy pot with a small handlful of the garlic jewels, about 15 peeled and squashed garlic cloves, 3 fresh bay leaves, zest of half a lemon, salt, pepper and about a cup of white wine and a cup of chicken stock.

Then I popped a half almond meal, half wholemeal flour mix with salt and pepper in to a plastic bag and chucked the chicken in to coat it. Then I fried off the chook pieces until golden and when they were done I rested them on top of the spuds, popped the lid on and put them in a medium (about 350 f/180 c) oven for about 40 minutes.

And THIS was the result.

It was scrum-diddly-umptious!