butter

Poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce

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If you asked ten people what Eggs Benedict was, I am sure nine and a half of them would tell you it was poached eggs sitting on smoked salmon with hollandaise sauce.

Which is what happens when restaurants (and some food writers) are sloppy with their naming. A similar situation exists with Eggs Florentine.

Nevertheless, I just love eating this, whatever it is called.

4 thick slices of sourdough bread
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
A generous quantity of smoked salmon
8 poached eggs (these can be poached in advance and reheated, as they would be in a restaurant situation)
Hollandaise sauce
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A sprig of dill or tarragon, to garnish

Brush both sides of the sourdough slices with a little olive oil and place under a hot grill for 1 – 2 minutes each side, until crisp and golden. Rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove.

Top each slice of sourdough with a generous quantity of smoked salmon, top the smoked salmon with 2 reheated and well-drained poached eggs. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs.

Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper if using, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Garnish with a sprig of dill or tarragon and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Variation: Cook some spinach in a little butter to wilt, then chop finely. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and, using the back of a spoon, press out as much water as possible. Season the spinach with salt and freshly ground pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Top each slice of sourdough with the spinach, add the smoked salmon, the poached eggs, then the hollandaise sauce. Garnish as above.

Almond Christmas Wafers

christmas almond wafers

185g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
250g plain flour, sifted
100g ground almonds

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and almonds and mix to a firm dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until very firm.

Divide dough into 4 portions, roll out one portion 5mm thick and refrigerate the remainder until required. Using biscuit cutters in Christmas shapes cut out the dough (Christmas trees, angels, stars, etc.). Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake on a greased and lined baking tray at 180C for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden.
Store in an airtight container. Dust some of the shapes with icing sugar before serving.

Shortbread

Shortbread

Everybody loves shortbread, especially at Christmas, and each cook swears by her own recipe. (I’m sorry if that is sexist!) I find shortbread made only with plain flour rather cloying and much prefer it made with the addition of some ground rice or semolina to give it some crunch. Don’t confuse ground rice with rice flour, although you can use rice flour too. Rice flour is quite fine whilst ground rice is more gritty.

250g butter
2 cups plain flour
½ cup semolina or ground rice
1/3 cup caster sugar

Sift the plain flour and add the other dry ingredients. Rub butter into the mixture and knead lightly until they can be transferred onto a floured board and kneaded until smooth.

Alternatively, put the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, chop the cold butter roughly and add to the bowl. Process until the mixture forms a ball around the blade.

Press the mixture evenly into a greased lamington tin (28cm x 18cm), mark with a knife into squares or rectangles for cutting later. Prick the surface of the shortbread with a fork.

Preheat the oven to moderately slow (160C) and bake for 35 –40 minutes. Remove from oven and using a very sharp thin knife, cut right through along the pre-marked lines. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

The shortbread can also be made in an 18cm diameter flan tin with a removable base. Mark into wedges of the desired size and prick with a fork. Alternatively use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes as above!

Warm Thai Beef Salad

Warm Thai Beef Salad

Annie Douglass made this for Opening Day on ‘Nerang’ one year, beautifully presented on a huge serving dish, right down to the chilli flowers, one of which Dad actually ate! Or it can be simply tossed.

The salad ingredients vary enormously from the mundane to the exciting. Warm roast fillet of beef tastes wonderful at any time with a Thai dressing, but the dish should contain some more exciting ingredients than tomato, capsicum, onion and chilli. Snake beans, if in season, are perfect, chopped peanuts almost a must. Snow peas are good too. Think about adding some grated green papaw, some ruby red grapefruit segments with their membranes removed so that you get little droplets of red grapefruit through the salad. Coriander and mint are, of course obligatory. Without them you might as well leave out the beef. Above all it should taste fresh.

Essentials:
750g piece of eye fillet of beef, well trimmed
1 clove garlic, crushed
Peanut (preferably), or canola oil
1 cup fresh coriander leaves, shredded
½ cup fresh mint, shredded
½ – ¾ cup chopped peanuts
2 baby red chillies, seeded and very finely sliced
6 shallots, finely sliced

Dressing:
¾ cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 dessertspoon oyster sauce
Sugar to taste

Salad Ingredients:
Choose from the following, trying to make the selection as interesting as possible:
Snake beans
Snow peas
Water chestnuts
Cherry tomatoes
Salad onion, sliced
Cucumber
Bean sprouts
Red capsicum, sliced
Garlic chives
Grated green papaw
Segmented ruby red grapefruit, membranes and seeds removed

Rub the beef with oil and garlic and roast in a pre-heated oven to rare or medium rare (about 20 minutes, depending on thickness). This should be done as close as possible to serving time so that the beef is still warm when served.

Blanch the snake beans in boiling water for 1 minute, drain and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking further. Strain and cut if desired. Top and tail the snow peas and remove strings. Blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking further. Strain and combine with the snake beans. Slice the water chestnuts and the capsicum. Chop the garlic chives as coarsely as you like. Grate the green papaw if using, outer part of the fruit only. Peel the grapefruit, divide into segments and carefully remove seeds. Ease out the little ‘capsules’ of grapefruit, trying not to squash them as you do so.

Slice the beef as thinly as possible. Either arrange on plates or place in a bowl with other salad ingredients. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, coriander, mint, chilli and shallots. Pour dressing over the whole salad.

Photo by: http://soojerky.blogspot.com.au

Whiting Cooked in Rice Flour with Lemon and Garlic

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This is our preferred way of cooking whiting on the boat for breakfast. It is simple and quick, but the flavour of the whiting comes through beautifully. The whiting must, of course, be very fresh. Be generous with the lemon juice. It caramelises a little in the pan and the whiting are tossed in it after they have cooked.

20 whiting fillets
Ground rice
Butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of finely chopped parsley or thyme leaves
Lemon wedges, extra, to serve

Dredge the whiting in the ground rice. Heat the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan and add the garlic. Add the whiting fillets, in batches, and cook for about 1 – 2 minutes before turning and cooking the other side. The fillets should be almost breaking up. Keep warm whilst remaining fillets are cooked.

Remove the fish from the pan and add the lemon juice. Allow the lemon juice to caramelise a little, then return all the whiting fillets to the pan. Turn them so that all the fillets are coated with lemon.

Fish stock (fish fumet)

Fish and other seafood must be treated differently from meat or chicken when making stock. It cannot be simmered for hours as meat can, or the resulting stock will be bitter, and quite toxic. Fish fumet always contains white wine, but you can make it without and add the wine later, when you are using the stock in a soup or sauce.

For years we have used a scaled and cleaned whole bream or whiting frames as the starting point for fish fumet, but fish frames, particularly reef fish frames are usually available very cheaply from any good fishmonger. I have used red emperor, nanagai, coral trout and even Tasmanian salmon, although the salmon frames give a distinctly salmon taste.

50g butter or a little grapeseed oil
3 sticks celery
1 medium onion, chopped
Sprigs of parsley and thyme
½ bay leaf
½ bottle of dry white wine
Whiting frames and/or scaled and cleaned whole bream, or
1 or 2 white fleshed reef fish frames
Water to cover

In a large stockpot, melt the butter or heat the oil and add the herbs, onions, carrots and celery. Cook over a gentle heat without browning. Add the fish frames and /or the whole bream and allow the frames to saute briefly, turning them to ensure even cooking.

Add the white wine. Cover the pot and increase heat to high. When the wine has reduced to half its previous volume, put in enough cold water to cover the fish. Bring back to the boil, reduce heat, skim and simmer the stock for no more than 30 minutes.

Strain the stock through a coarse sieve, pressing the fish and vegetables with the back of a spoon to release as much flavour as possible. Return fish and vegetables to the pot, add a little boiling water and stir well, but do not cook any further. Strain this into the stock. Discard the frames and the vegetables and re-strain the stock through a fine sieve.

Refrigerate stock so that the fats rise to the surface, then skim. (Fish frames do contain fat.)

Fish stock will keep well in the freezer.

Bechamel sauce

Bechamel-sauce
Many recipes will tell you to use hot milk when making a bechamel sauce. In fact, I don’t know of anybody who does. Do try not to use milk that has come straight from the refrigerator.

50g butter
50g milk
600ml milk

Melt butter in a saucepan and add the butter. Stir to combine. Cook the roux over gentle heat to cook the flour. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add a little of the milk. Stir well, pressing any lumps out with the spoon. Add a little more milk and repeat. You must eliminate the lumps before returning the pan to the heat. When the mixture is smooth, return to heat and cook until it thickens. Remove from heat again and add more milk. Stir vigorously until the sauce is again smooth. If any lumps are left in the sauce in its early stages, they will be almost impossible to remove later. Remember that it is the addition of a cold liquid to a hot base that causes the lumps to form, so the saucepan must always be off the stove when the milk is added. Continue to stir until there are no lumps, add more milk then cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Sauce Creme
Sauce Crème is a white sauce made using some cream to replace some of the milk. Obviously it is richer than béchamel sauce.

(Photo: Heraldsun.com.au)