Posts Tagged ‘fennel’

24
Feb
2007

Duck Sausage Curry

Duck Sausage Curry

What do you do when you have a hankering for something different, as a curry, without breaking the bank ? You buy duck sausages ! (of course).

Last time I went to my local butchers (The excellent Meat the Butcher in Dog Swamp Shopping Centre), to find duck for my curry. The friendly chap on the other end of the meat cleaver suggested I try their duck sausages as an alternative. I decided against it at the time, as I wanted the gaminess that duck breast provides that time around… but then found myself strangely drawn back there the following week (I have a certain attraction to butchers, kitchen supply stores, and bottle shops, which I’m sure that puts me in a certain category I should be concerned about).

So I bought three lovely duck sausages at a pittance (compared to duck breast) and rushed away gleefully to find a recipe for them. But what do you know… in a first for food nerds the world over…the internet failed me… Searching for all manner of terms including “duck sausages” “duck curry sausages” “curry sausages” “+sausages +curry +duck -sweetandsour” etc provided nothing that I could easily steal and proudly claim for my own. So it was up to my wiley self to come up with something suitable.

My thinking cap firmly on, I raided the spice rack for every conceivable thing I could think of that might go well with duck sausages, and came up with this.

Duck Sausage Curry

  • 3 Duck Sausages
  • 6 baby potatoes halved
  • 1 bulb baby fennel
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder (less if you’re a weeny)
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • handful of curry leaves
  • 100 ml coconut cream

So basically I do my curries in a similar style most times, whether it be right or wrong. I started off by dry roasting the dry spices (fennel, coriander, and fenugreek) for about 30 seconds in a hot pan, then taking them out and putting them into my mortar and pestle to be ground finely.

Then add some butter/oil/ghee (whatever you like to cook with) to the pan and fry the chopped onions, fennel, and garlic at a relatively low heat until translucent and soft. At the same time (and this is probably cheating), I have the potatoes boiling in their own pot of water, so I don’t need them to cook in the curry itself, which saves a bit of time.

So once the onion mixture is nice and soft… add all the dry spices, the turmeric, chilli powder, and other stuff that was ground up, and coat the onion mixture with it nicely, so all the turmeric is absorbed into the mixture, and it colours it. Now add your duck sausages that have been sliced up into pieces (as chunky as you like them). Stir them all around and get them coated in the onions and spices too, and perhaps add a little water if the mixture is starting to stick to the pan and dry out.

Once the sausages are nicely coated and basically cooked, add the potatoes (which should be cooked but still firm), and the coconut cream and curry leaves, and then stir it all through so the sauce is nice and thick and the colour has absorbed all throught the coconut cream. Taste it and see if it needs anything else at this point, like more chilli or salt/pepper, and if not, turn the heat down, put a lit on the pan, and let the flavours absorb for a little while.

When you’re happy with how it’s looking, and all those wonderful flavours have pervaded every corner of your kitchen. Spoon it out over a pile of steaming hot rice, and dig it. One of the tastiness creations I’ve made in a long time.

And introduce yourself to your local butcher. You never know what great things they may have in the back of those fridges just waiting for you to discover them.

17
Oct
2006

Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Backstrap of Lamb

Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Rare Spiced Lamb

I think learning to make my first risotto was one of the steps that launched me into the world of real cooking. I’d seen so many TV chefs making fancy looking dishes and thought they sounded so involved and elaborate as to be out of reach to the common home cook. So when I first decided to throw caution to the wind and have a go myself, It was with great delight and virtual high fives that I managed to make something actually come out the way it looked in the books.

These days though, I’m almost reaching risotto overkill. It’s still my goto dish when I can’t think of anything else to cook, but it doesn’t hold the same interest as it used to, to the point where it’s almost getting a little passe. I whip out my usual set of ingredients, follow the standard mantra of onions, garlic, leek, butter, rice, wine, and stock, and away we go. Add a bit of this, a bit of that… more stock, and it’s all done.

So I won’t bore you with the details of how I made this dish, other than to say check out any of my other risotto recipes for a more indepth explanation of the process. I think the name says it all really…

Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Rare Spiced Backstrap of Lamb

Points of interest are that I used backstrap of lamb, which is one of the tenderest, juiciest, most deliciousousest (I just wrote that you make you all sound like freaks while you’re reading this) cuts of lamb you will find. It’s not cheap mind… It comes in long thin pieces and was $35/kg from Mondo’s in Inglewood… I have yet to find a cheap Chinese butcher equivalent because apparently they aren’t so keen on lamb.

I basically seasoned the lamb strips with my normal quasi-middle eastern spice profile of olive oil, cumin, fennel, coriander seeds, and lots of salt and pepper. Then seared it quickly in a hot pan with a little butter on both sides… Not for too long as it’s quite a lean piece of meat, and should be served towards rare (in my carnivorous opinion).

Other notes were the lime and fennel in the risotto. I added quite a bit of lime zest and then the juice of a whole lime to lighten the risotto up. I didn’t want it to be too heavy as the lamb would be there for that. The fennel was added later on so it didn’t break down entirely, just got quite soft, and then some Tatsoi was stirred through right at the last minute. You might be familiar with Tatsoi as a salad ingredient. It’s a leafy asian green related to bok choy somehow (I think she married his uncles second cousin)… and it has a real peppery kick to it. Something a bit different anyway.

It all turned out so nicely that I made it twice in the same week :) When food tastes this nice, you can call me passe anyday…

30
Aug
2006

Roast Pork Belly with Caramelised Red Cabbage

Fennel Roasted Pork Belly on Parmesan Mash with Caramelised Red Cabbage

Just a quick one because I am terribly behind in a lot of these posts. This was a pretty simply meal I thought up after coming across a great little Chinese butcher called Wing Hong, around the corner from where I work in Northbridge (the studious among you might be able to work out where that is now). They sell more parts of a pig than I knew existed, and so I eventually braved the language barrier, headed in, and managed to buy myself a pork belly. The fact that I was actually asking for chicken is irrevelant, and we’ll all pretend it was a great idea from the start.

Pork Belly is a pretty trendy cut of meat of late, or at least it was up until a year or so ago. So maybe I’m behind the times, but that’s never stopped me from jumping on the bandwagon. So what to do with it…I heard you whispering excitedly… thanks to the bugs I’ve installed in EVERYONES house ! Ahem…

Honey & Fennel Rubbed Pork Belly

Well, for some reason the words “roast pork belly with fennel” jumped into my head… perhaps from a recipe I’d seen before, perhaps from a dream (albeit a sad one) I had once… who knows… but the inspiration was secured.

So after scoring the top of the belly and rubbing a bunch of fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and olive oil into the top, it was time for oven. (oh and some sliced fennel to go with it, but don’t do what I do and leave it in there for 40 minutes to burn unmercifully into little fennel crunchy charcoal chips).

Le red cabbage

The next part was another dream like idea that came to me… Caramelised red cabbage, which had been sitting in the fridge for too long and needed to be given a good home. Fortunately cabbage is a good hardy vegetable, and can withstand the long periods of neglect that it is often forced to endure in the dark recesses of my fridge.

So sliced up into strips and sauteed in a little white wine vinegar and sugar, til nice and soft and caramelisedly looking.

The rest was pretty basic, a garlic mash made by crushing a couple of cloves of garlic into boiled potatoes and mashing with salt, pepper, and cream, for smooth texture and consistency.

Slice the pork belly up into thin pieces and layer daintily on top of the cabbage and mash.

Score one for breaking language barriers the world over. You never know what you might find.

26
Jul
2006

Rack of Lamb with Honey & Balsamic Sauce

Lamb Rack with Sweet Potato Mash and Honey Balsamic Reduction

There’s something about a nice rack of lamb that makes it hard for me to pass by, when idlely drifting through butchers shops, purveying their cuts. Lamb is one of my favourite dishes full stop, but to be able to combine it with a ready made handle AND have it look classy on a plate at the same time, is just genious.

So this was a pretty simple dish I made up on the spur of the moment (read: spent all day thinking about and scouring the web for ideas), which I think turned out just dandy.

Lamb Rack

  • Rack of Lamb (or two)
  • Olive oil (a given really, just buy a few gallons of good quality olive oil and you will be doing yourself a big favour)
  • Rosemary (Is it possible to do a lamb dish without rosemary ?… I think not)
  • Salt (do yourself another favour and go and get some Maldon Salt… beautiful texture and flavour for cooking)
  • Cracked Pepper (do yourself a huge favour and buy a pepper mill, and load it up with peppercorns)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Red Wine (nothing specific, but preferably something drinkable)

To Serve With

  • Sweet Potatos
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Rosemary
  • Fennel

How I made it

So firstly, cut down into your lamb rack a little and stuff every concievable orifice you can find with fresh rosemary, salt, black pepper, and libations of olive oil. Score the fat on the back of the rack, and rub that down with salt and pepper too. Now crank your stove up to high and sear your lamb rack in a healthy dose of olive oil in a hot pan. Make sure you give it a good covering so that the tricky parts all receive a fair amount of heat, and then when it’s looking charred to perfection, drop the heat, and put it into the oven to continue cooking through til done. Keep the pan juices as we’ll use those for the sauce.

Once the lamb is away in the oven, peel and slice your sweet potato and fennel. Get the sweet potato boiling in a pot of salted water, and braise the fennel in a little white wine and butter over a low/medium heat so it softens up. Once the sweet potato is cooked, but not mushy, drain the water and mash with extra rosemary, butter, cream, salt, pepper, and a little grated parmesan.

Next the sauce… Pretty simple really… Into the pan juices goes a good few dashes of balsamic vinegar and a good squeeze of honey (I’d give you measurements, but i really didn’t use any… I generally cook to taste and measure things by eye). Give this a taste and you have a lovely sweet balsamic flavour coming through… which I then pulled back to savoury land with the help of a splash of shiraz and dash of beef stock. Reduce the sauce down, and keep stirring to make sure the honey doesn’t seperate, and perhaps thicken with some corn flour and water… and you’re done.

If God didn't want us to eat animals... he wouldn't have them out of meat.Lamb Rack

At this point I cut all the lamb racks up into french cutlets (if thats what french cutlets are of course… ) and attempted to pile it onto a plate in some sort of attractive formation. Sadly failing… after taking some photos, I heaped the rest of the lamb on top and Sharon and I devoured them as best we could.

Delish.

06
Jun
2006

Lamb Roast

Roast dinners were my staple when I was growing up. Every Sunday without fail, that magical smell would waft out of the kitchen, lamb, parsnip, pumpkin, potato, peas, carrots, mint sauce, and lots of gravy. We looked forward to it every week, perhaps the one meal we never got tired of (God knows tuna mornay and macaroni cheese had their day).

So this meal was a bit of change to Mum’s original method for cooking a roast. I found a nice leg of lamb at the butchers, and feeling industrious, decided to bone it out and butterfly it myself. A relatively simple procedure, although it’s just as easy to ask the butcher to do it for you.

Once I’d got the bone out, and scored the outside and butterflied the inside… It was all systems go with herbs and spices. A good slosh of nice olive oil and a solid covering of maldon sea salt and cracked pepper, then push as much rosemary as will fit into every little gap you can find. I also made up a spice mix in my funky new mortar and pestle, it was coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns.

My secret crush

So a coating of the spice mixture went over the seasoned lamb, which was then thrown into a roasting dish and plied with libations of a spicy shiraz I happened to have somehow forgotten to finish.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb

The flavours were already building, and so into the oven it went to cook on a medium low heat (about 150 C) for around 3 hours or so. A covering of aluminium foil (or aluminum of you’re North American, or tin if you’re from NZ), to keep the heat in and stop it from drying out too quickly, and off to get the veges ready.

Dan and Mabes turned up soon enough, with more lovely Shiraz procured the day before from Sandalford in the Swan Valley, and so we cracked the bottle while we waited for the rest of the vegetables to cook.

I had some really nice Kestrel potatoes that are perfect for roasting. I also had some japanese pumpkin and a nice bulb of fennel.
(I’ve just realised I’m using perhaps the worst adjectives in history here. Why do I keep refering to everything as ‘nice’ ? Hrmm, like you need justification that I haven’t been using rancid vegetables or something… anyway)

So sliced it all up into roastable chunks, onto a roasting dish, did the usual mantra of adding olive oil, salt, pepper, spices, and then into the oven for as long as it takes to get them nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (Actually I cheated and preboiled the potatoes a bit).

The rest was simply waiting and watching and smelling. A glass or two of Shiraz all round and an account of how much effort was involved in getting it, and it was time to dish up.

The lamb was amazing. Lamb is perhaps one of the most luscious comestibles I can think of, when prepared just right. Encrusted with herbs and spices, wallowing in a rich red wine marinade… waiting to soak up every precious little bit of flavour…
The meat was done to a perfect medium… soft delicate and moist. I took the lamb out of the pan and sliced it up, then putting the roasting dish back on the stove top, adding a little cornflour and thickened up the red wine and pan juices to make a delicious gravy.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking, but in a word… delicious. A lovely relaxing night with close friends, great wine, and great food.

My Lamb Roast

Lamb Roast

Pink is the new black