Saturday 22 October 2011

October 2011 - Vietnamese Steak with Watercress

Finally getting around to posting October's delicious magazine recipe. I made this a week ago but just hadn't gotten around to writing any posts the past week. It was a long week this past one, I hope that the next one will be better. 

There were a number of recipes that I was interested in making from this issue and I hope to go back and get them made over the next little while. The first of these is Ben O'Donoghue's Yoghurt-marinated fish wrapped in zucchini. Such an unusual sounding combination. It says to use firm white fish fillets but I wonder if it could be made with salmon. I might try it out and see what happens. 

I was also interested in two different dishes in the Tuesday Night Cooking feature. The first is a Thai Pork Vermicelli Salad. Made with marinated pork tenderloin and vermicelli noodles it will be a wonderful meal during summer and will be just as good cold as warm I am sure. I have made a number of different salads using vermicelli in the pasta and they are always very light and refreshing. I am sure this one will be also. 

The other recipe in the Tuesday Night Cooking feature was the Middle Eastern Lamb Tart. It is a free form tart using filo spread with hummus and then topped with a spiced lamb mince mixture. It looks like it would be easy to make even though I have never had a lot of luck with filo pastry. Perhaps with something like this it would be okay since I am not having to try and line a dish with it. I think that you could probably do your mince mixture ahead of time to make the final cooking even quicker. 

In the end though I decided to go with Bill Granger's Vietnamese Steak with Watercress. It was a very simple meal to make that had a lot of flavour. It was a tad oily for me so I would probably cut down on that a bit next time but it was definitely very good. I added some blanched halved sugar snap peas as well as the asparagus to up the vegetable content a bit. 

Vietnamese Steak with Watercress

  • 600 g sirloin steak, cut into 4 cm x 4 cm pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 
  • 2 tsp white sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light olive oil 
  • Pinch ground white pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp) 
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, sliced on an angle  (blanched)
  • handful sugar snap peas, trimmed, halved on an angle (blanched)
  • Large handful watercress
  • 1/4 c white wine 
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 20 g softened unsalted butter
  • Crush garlic with sea salt in a mortar, combine with garlic, sugar, 1 tbsp oil, white pepper, 1 tsp salt and steak. Cover and let marinate for at least an hour. 
  • Heat pan over high heat and add remaining oil (I used grapeseed here).
  •  Cook beef and marinade, without touching for 1 minuted. Turn beef and cook for a further 1 minute. Shake the pan for 30 seconds to cook the sides. Remove beef from pan, keep warm. 
  • Add wine, soy & fish sauces and butter to fry pan and cook until reduced and thickened. 
  • Combine asparagus, snap peas and watercress on a plater, top with pieces of steak and then drizzle with the sauce. 

Saturday 15 October 2011

Cake Decorating

So my latest cake was a lot of fun to make. What made it even better was that I got paid for it. Not just paid for the ingredients but paid for ingredients and time, so some pretty decent money. It added some pressure but I was so pleased with how it turned out. The birthday party had a Hawaiian theme. I was given a photo and asked to do something similar. I was so pleased with how it turned out and my client was overjoyed with it. 

The cake is a double layer of my standard chocolate decorating cake. The breasts are also chocolate cake baked in a couple of large tea cups. The cake was filled and coated with dark chocolate ganache then covered in fondant with fondant accents. I was particularly pleased with how well the Wilton flesh-tone colour paste turned out. I even managed to colour almost exactly the right amount of fondant to cover the cake which has got to be a first for me.

Friday 14 October 2011

Fish with Lemon-Roasted Potatoes and Fennel Chilli Relish

This is another recipe I made ages ago. Bill's original recipe was for baked snapper. However, I didn't want to cook a whole fish so I just pan-fried a fish fillet. Unfortunately the fish I picked, I can't remember what now, was just awful and I didn't end up eating the whole meal. I guess that my opinion of this recipe has been coloured by inferior ingredients. Perhaps I will give it another go with a whole fish. The potatoes were very good though. 

Fish with Lemon-Roasted Potatoes and Fennel Chilli Relish

  • 2 fish fillets
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • Heat olive oil over a medium heat. 
  • Season fish with salt & pepper. 
  • Pan fry for a few minutes each side or until cooked through. 

Lemon-roasted potatoes

  • 300g chat potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1/2 lemon, finely sliced 
  • 1 bay leaf (optional) 
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 clove garlic, unpeeled, crushed  
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss until potatoes are coated in oil. 
  • Spread on a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  • Remove foil and bake a further 20 minutes or until golden brown. 
  • Serve with freshly ground black pepper.

Fennel chilli relish 

  • 1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped to 5mm dice
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped 
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon   
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped 
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in a bowl and combine. 

Lemon Souffle Cakes

I made these ages ago. The lemony flavour was great but the batter was difficult to work with. It was really runny and produced a really soft "pancake". I suppose that was the way it was supposed to be given the name soufflĂ© cake. However for me all that meant was that they were really hard to flip while cooking. I think I would prefer to just add some lemon zest and juice to my mum's pancake recipe or to Bill's ricotta hotcake recipe.  

Bill Granger's Lemon Soufflé Cakes

Ingredients :

  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 c plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • Combine buttermilk, egg yolks, lemon juice, zest and vanilla essence then add melted butter and mix well.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the wet ingredients until they are just combined.
  • Whip the egg whites to soft peaks then fold them into the buttermilk mixture using a large metal spoon.
  • Melt a small amount of butter in a fry pan over a medium heat. Add a couple spoons full of batter and cook until golden brown on the bottom, flip the cake over and cook until golden brown on both sides. Keep warm while cooking the rest. 
  • Serve with halved strawberries tossed in a little honey.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Pecan Maple Pie

Well, my cold decided to hang on a lot longer than I had expected it would. I had hoped to get all sorts of things made and done over the past week however it was not to be. It is a long weekend here and finally today I started to feel like I was getting back close to 100% although I have all of a sudden gotten very tired tonight. Perhaps I will manage an early night. 

Lately I have found myself in a little bit of a slump when it comes to my plans for my little blog. I haven't made anything from Bills Sydney Food in ages. I think it started when I had a couple of things that I did make (yet to be posted about) that just did not work. I am also finding myself in a position where I have made most of the things that I really wanted to and am now left with the others that I am either ambivalent about or and really unsure about making. There are also two recipes that I did make but the photos are not up to scratch so need to be remade. I have still been cooking and have so many things that I want to post about but just haven't done the posts as yet. I may yet do a few posts of just the recipes and pictures to get them up, a bit lazy, but at least it would let me catch up. Every time I post something that I have only just made I feel a little bit guilty as there are so many other recipes with their hands sticking up saying pick me, post me! LOL. 
Anyway, this is something that I did just make, well last night anyway. I just wanted to make a pie this weekend. I sat down with my mum's old recipe folder and handwritten cards and came up with a recipe for pecan pie that sounded perfect. I did make a few changes though, reducing the sugar as I usually find pecan pie too sweet. I also substituted the golden syrup in the recipe for maple syrup. I thought that this might be an interesting little twist on the regular recipe, plus I find maple syrup less sweet than golden syrup, not sure if it is or whether that is just psychological. It all came together really quickly and easily. I think next time I would use a tart tin that is a little deeper or a little bigger as I couldn't fit all the filling in although there was only about 1/2 c left over. I served the pie with a drizzle of cream today with lunch.

Pecan Maple Pie


1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoon Jim Beam (or other bourbon) (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup pure cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pie crust (see below)


Combine sugar, syrup, bourbon and butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and bring to the boil stirring occasionally and then remove from the heat and allow mixture to cool.
Beat the eggs with the cream and vanilla and then add to the cooled syrup.
Spread the pecans over the bottom of the pie crust.
Pour the syrup mixture over the pecans.
Bake at 170C for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Pie Crust 
1 1/2 c plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
125 g butter, cut into chunks
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 small egg

Combine flour and salt in a food processor, add butter and pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Place egg in a 1 cup measure and lightly beat, add vinegar and top up with water to 1/2 cup.
Add to flour mixture and little at a time until you have a soft pastry.
Roll out to size required, line tart tin. Prick the base with a fork and then place in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes.
Line the pie shell with baking paper and fill with pie weights, rice or dried beans and bake at 190 C for 15 minutes. Remove the baking paper and weights from the pie shell and return to the oven for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned.