Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Febrewery 2012

Today welcomes in the 2nd official celebration of Febrewery.

What is Febrewery? It’s a celebration of craft brews (and an excuse to drink more of them) during the month of February. It’s NOT about getting wasted, it’s about enjoying the fruits of those that take pride in their brews and are about quality rather than mass producing a product to get drunk off.

How do I celebrate it? There are numerous ways you can celebrate… grab a craft brew from the bottlo and enjoy it with friends, visit a brewery, enjoy a tasty beverage from a pub that micro brews, have a tasting event by having some friends over and make them each bring a brew that they’ve never tried before, etc, etc, etc

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fish Tacos

This a great summer dinner, the lightness of the fish, the refreshing hit of the salsa, and the heat and smokiness of the mayo. Now all we need are a few more hot summer days to enjoy it in. Fortunately it still tastes great in any weather.

What you’ll need
Firm white fleshed fish that’ll flake nicely, deboned and cut into strips
Small tortillas
Iceberg lettuce, chiffonaded* (use the white parts too for some nice crunch)

Fish marinade
Juice of 1 orange
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
½ a red onion roughly sliced
4 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other fairly neutral tasting oil)
A handful of roughly chopped coriander
Salt and pepper

Tomato, cucumber and coriander salsa
1 roma tomato, deseeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled and grated
A handful(ish) of coriander, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp of rice wine vinager
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of caster sugar
Salt and pepper

Chipotle mayonnaise
1 can of chipotle chillies in adobe sauce*
Good quality mayo*

First up mix up the marinade and get your fish into it, about 40 min to an hour is good, you don’t want to over do it time wise because the citric acid in the marinade will start to cook the fish.

Dissolve the sugar in the rice wine vinegar and fish sauce and then mix with the rest of the ingredients, season to taste.

For the chipotle mayo, finely chop up a couple of the chillies and mix to taste, I like to start with roughly equal quantities of the chillies and sauce with the mayo and adjust from there. Make more than you need cause you’ll want to use it on everything…

Get a cast iron griddle pan on the heat (or better yet, a bbq) and once it’s at a medium heat, pull the fish out of the marinade and get it in the pan. There should be enough oil in the marinade to stop it from sticking too much. Cook it a couple of minutes a side until it’s just opaque and flakes easily.

Once the fish is cooked, pull it out and flake it up a bit. Take the pan off the heat and warm up the tortillas in the residual heat of the pan.

Tortilla, lettuce, fish, salsa, chipotle mayo, crack open a nice hoppy pale ale and enjoy.

*what the French and people trying to sound fancy call rolling the leaves up and slicing them into ribbons
**smoked chillies in a chilli sauce, available at schamcier grocers and specialty food stores, super tasty and well worth seeing out
***or better yet, home made if you’re not feeling as lazy as me

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rendering Pork Fat/Making Lard

So you’ve made yourself some awesome pulled pork, but what do you do with all that fat you cut off? Don’t chuck it out, render it into lard*. It’s easy, just make sure you’ve got a whole day and start earl-eye in the morning.

First of all you want to do is to cut off any of the meat that may have come off with the fat, then remove the skin as any meat or skin left on could unwanted flavours in the lard when using it in things.  Next cut it in to smallish rough cubes, put it into a heavy bottomed pan and cook at a very low heat, stirring fairly regularly, at least at the beginning so that the fat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. After a while the liquid fat will dominate and it’ll sizzle, keep it on the very low heat and cook it for hours, and hours, and hours until it stops sizzling. Once it’s done, the liquid will be slightly yellow, don’t worry, once it cools it will turn white like the lard we all know, strain it through a doubled over muslin cloth into a sterilized container, let it cool, wack a lid on it and and it will last for ages in the fridge. DO NOT throw out the crackling you’ve strained off, wait until it’s cooled, add a bit of salt and it’s full of crunchy, artery clogging deliciousness. 

 *Never really used lard? It’s got heaps of uses, from frying with it to using it in pastry and (apparently) it’s not as unhealthy as most people think (at least that’s what Google tells me)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pulled Pork

Cooked but not pulled...
Rule number one when planning on blogging a recipe – take a photo of the final product… oops.

While it’s based on one, I by no means claim this to be an authentic southern US version, if I did I’d probably get some angry overalled trucker named Bubba hunting me down with shotgun on charges of blaspheme.

I’ve been deliberately vague with the quantities of the spice rub because it depends on the size of the pork shoulder that you use and to be honest, I didn’t measure so I can’t be much more specific. Once you’ve mixed it, smell it and try it and make your own adjustments.

What you need:

A pork shoulder
1 tsp Liquid smoke (available at BBQ shops and specialty food shops)
Good quality BBQ sauce

For the spice rub:
Equal amounts of (maybe a tablespoon?)
Garlic powder
Onion Powder
Ground cumin
Smoked paprika
Cayenne pepper
A bit less of (half a tablespoonish?)
Ground fennel seeds
Ground coffee
Mustard powder
A heap of (1/4 cup maybe?)
Brown sugar

Put all your spices in a takeaway container and shake it up to mix it, press out most of the lumps that form from the brown sugar but it doesn’t matter if there are still a few lumps left in there.

Preheat the oven to 110°C. Cut the skin and fat layer off the pork shoulder. If your shoulder’s anything like mine, you’ll end up with quite a bit of fat, don’t chuck it though, render it down into lard and use it in other stuff. Once you’ve trimmed the fat, rub about a teaspoon of liquid smoke into the shoulder and then lather on the spice rub, be generous. Whack the shoulder into the oven for 3-4 hours per kg, mine took about 7 hours. If you’ve got a probe thermometer, you want the meat to be about 85-90°C in the centre of the thickest part. If you don’t, it’s easy enough to see if it starts coming apart just using a fork.

Once it’s done, pull it out, let it rest for a bit and then pull it apart using two forks. You can either mix the BBQ sauce* through it or serve it in rolls with the BBQ sauce on top of the meat.

*but please, PLEASE use a good quality one… preferably homemade. I made a stout based one from Paul Mercurio’s** book, Cooking with Beer
** Yep… that Paul Mercurio, apparently not only does he judge C grade “celebrities” trying to dance, he’s also done some judging of A grade beers

Thursday, September 8, 2011

North Coast Brewing Co – Brother Thelonious

Brother Thelonious. Named after the great (and unique) piano master and jazz legend Thelonious Monk and in conjunction with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz* comes this unique take on a Belgian strong ale.

The first thing that jumped out at me was a cidery aroma, a bit of rumminess and some brown sugar in there too. To taste, it’s quite sweet, some spice, caramel, pepper and with a green apple-like tartness on the finish. A tasty and unique take on a Belgian strong ale; worth a try, but not my favourite.

Just wanted to show a close up of the awesome label...

*the brewery makes a contribution the institute to support jazz education for every case sold, so your not only getting good beer, but supporting good music too

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unibroue - Trois Pistoles

You know you’ve got a beer snobbery problem when you pack your backpack with a $20 bottle of beer and a couple of very, very carefully newspaper wrapped brandy snifters in order to jump on a train and catch up with friends. It also makes for a very weary journey, knowing that walking too roughly turn the beer into champagne in the hands of an F1 winner* or at the slightest wrong movement you’ll be picking splinters of glass from the brandy snifters out of your backpack for weeks and just when you thought it was all out, you reach in for something and come out with a handful of gashes. Fortunately that didn’t happen… The snifters survived, my hands are unscathed, the beer didn’t turn into a fountain, and more importantly, it was delicious.

The beer in question was a 750 ml bottle of Trois Pistoles, a 9 percenter from Canadian brewers Unibroue. It’s a strong Belgian style ale, very dark with lots of spice, chocolate and caramel on the nose. The flavour is slightly sweet, almost port like, with dark fruit, molasses and the spice, chocolate and caramel continuing on in flavour. Very smooth and mild on bitterness. Would be a great dessert beer and would match well with a rich fruit cake or moist flourless chocolate cake.

Unibroue do some pretty special brews and are not exporting to Australia at the moment, so if you spot some, make sure you grab it.

*which is even more likely because it has a champagne cork…

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5 Random Links

Like any sane person, I enjoy a good cheeseburger, and it turns out that one of the greatest websites in existence is dedicated to them,the Burger and Cheese Society. If you feel like you're not being abused enough from your food blog reading... try Cooking for Assholes. Awesome playable Angry Birds cake here. Need some tunes to cook to? Don't forget to start wearing purple.