Archives for June 2016

Finding Burger part 10 – Is it all about baste?

Burger part 10

It’s all about the baste

It is essential to have a little bit of smoke on the beef patty when grilling, this is why it is essential to use a charcoal grill with open flames, the juices and fat run off onto the exposed coals causing puffs of smoke that is essential in creating a taste profile that is true. So, is it all about baste? Or can we leave it off completely? In the past we have always added a little basting. Our thinking was based on trying add an extra dimension and the rest based on nostalgia of when we were young and we frequented our favourite burger shop. What we were ultimately after was an umami burst to lift everything. What we ended up with, was a dirty grill!

We found that the basting we used, almost like a monkey gland sauce would burn almost caramelise slightly which in its own is pleasant…..but to sweet.

We have always said that we do not garnish imperfection, putting a basting on the patty is in a way hiding perfection. We need to steer clear of adding sugar, it messes with the brain. The tomato chutney is sweet, caramelised onion is sweet and so is the basting.

So just like that, it was gone. But it has still left a void. So now Sven is working on a more savoury approach juts short of emptying a bottle of soya over the burger. Perhaps the answer lies with caramelised onions.

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Where did the fish go?

Trout 3

Trout

This time of the year we do not see a lot of trout on our menu’s. I went to go investigate. Through the Huguenot Tunnel all the way to Fizantakraal, nestled beautifully between the Du Toits Kloof mountains.

With the most spectacular views next to the trout raceways we inspect the facility. What struck me at first was the amount of fish in the raceways, or rather the freedom to move around. Often I have this picture with the fish tucked in fin to fin in a race way with hardly enough water to swim. Farming fish has got some pro’s and cons. What is the ratio of feed to final weight, what feed is used? Where is the feed from. But this is for another post.

All the water used at this facility come straight out of the mountain and flow through the trout facility and then back into the stream.

So what is the deal, the trout eggs get milked or rather harvested this time of the year, a process that needs to be gentle with the trout as the eggs get massaged gently out of the fish. The fish is then returned unharmed back into the ponds. This is seasonal and happens normally May to June every year as it is farm these eggs need to be kept for the nursery and for the years production as well as for the sale of trout roe.

I was given an opportunity to harvest roe from one fish, which looks a lot easier than what it really is. Tendency is to be very gentle with the fish, this does not exactly pay off, the trout is strong and requires a very form grip without harming the fish. Holding the fish in my left hand and securing the grip against my leg, I gently message the belly with my right hand, until the roe runs freely into a bucket. It is not uncommon that one fish can yield up to 700g of roe. The roe is cured lightly after the milking process and we head home to sample our own.

So until the end of the month when all colour has returned we can put trout back on the menu.

There is also a lodge if you need to breakaway from city living nestled in the valley. Sleeps eight people with all necessary luxuries. You will need these after a day out in the cold mountains.

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ORRECHIETTE WITH BACON AND BROCCOLI

 

pasta8 (1)

ORRECHIETTE WITH BACON AND BROCCOLI

This is one of those dishes that are so simple as long as if you do not have to make your own pasta.  The dough contains no egg with only flour, semolina and water and originates from Puglia. It is tricky process where a quick hand is required. Dough is rolled into a long cylinder then sliced with a sharp knife and at the same time ‘little ears’ are formed with the same knife being pulled across the pieces of dough to form little dome shaped pasta. Note that not all of them will look the same, the centre is softer than the thicker edges. If all this seems like too much work, dried, store-bought orrechiette will do just fine. This combination is always going to work, pasta, broccoli, bacon and Parmesan. Some recipes use peas, sausage in its origins rapini was used which is a lot more bitter.

Serves: 4-6

Difficulty: moderate
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS
150 g bacon, diced
1 small chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed
200 g broccoli florets, blanched
¼ C (60 ml) white wine
¼ tsp (1.25 ml) lemon zest (optional)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped parsley
1 tsp (5 ml) black pepper
salt
400 g orrechiette, cooked
approximately 100 ml reserved liquid from cooking the pasta
finely grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

METHOD

Sauté the bacon in a sauté pan until cooked and slightly browned. Add the chilli and garlic.
Add the broccoli florets and deglaze with white wine (it’s OK if the broccoli is slightly overcooked, as this will result in small pieces breaking off and sticking to the pasta). Add the lemon zest (if using).
As soon as the orrechiette is cooked, strain (retain the cooking liquid and set aside) and add to the bacon and broccoli mix.

Move the ingredients continuously in the pan, making sure that the mixture does not stick to the pan. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to loosen. Add the parsley and the crushed black pepper.

Adjust the seasoning and finish with parmesan before serving.

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The Cook Off

Cook-Off Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge (1)

Nick Showcook entry

 

The 14th & 15th saw the final two days in the Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge

The young chefs nervous and ready all started at 7:00. Nicholas never gets rattled, Tuesday morning we could see the nerves start showing as everyone started unpacking their ingredients at the kitchens at The International Hotel School. It was too late to back of now. Cooking in a strange new kitchen is not funny, nothing is familiar, fridges seem warm, gas is slow. With everyone watching, it is like being in a gold fish bowl, with everyone poking at the bowl.

By 12:00 all seven contestants presented their first six offerings, by now you could feel the excessive tension, no one was smiling, no one was laughing. In a competition like this judges generally take their time. It is exactly like cooking in a normal restaurant kitchen. All the youngsters forget this, we anticipate the curve ball every customer gives us. Yet at the competition they all seem to forget. The mains get picked up much later. By this time if your timing was out, disappointment was showing adding to the already charged environment.

Nicholas presented a great compilation that was a nice balanced meal any punter would have payed good money for, with smoked seabass starter, roulade of pork fillet and a beautiful and refreshing lemon and granadilla dessert.

Now in it’s fourth year all the results is compared from all the cook off’s. But we still have to wait for

All the work has been done, all the 21 judging sheets complete, all we can do is wait for the glamourous evening at the end of July. This year it will be held at the Belmond Mont Nelson Hotel

We will be holding thumbs for – Nicholas Loubser and for Edward Mtonga

Lastly we are rooting for the best bread section, as this title needs to stay at home.

Mount Nelson_May 2014_LR_056

Bread Selection

 

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