Thursday, 30 October 2014

Uma mistura hambúrguer se fecha o circulo (a burger mix comes full circle)

 New school Thai
A recipe I have been making for over ten year has now come full circle.This is a characteristic recipe from Nigel Slater. It's a combination that plays a bit with authenticity, but doesn't seem like that much of a major departure. The left-field ingredients here are  an integral part of Thai cooking.Lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, (Nam pla) fish sauce and birds eye chillies (piri piri in Portugal).I know that lemongrass and lime leaves are sometimes hard to find, but the unmistakable flavour adds something extra. I started off all those years ago making the mix into quarter pounder burgers and afterwards realised their potential for being served as meatballs with a sweet chilli dipping sauce or fresh salsa.These make a great starter, part of a tapas or as canapés.These two applications of the same basic pork mince mix ran alongside for a few years before I picked up a handy hint of adding tomato purée into the mix.This made perfect sense. Meatballs are traditionally served in tomato sauce,but take the sauce away and introduce the tomato flavour into the meat mix and it lifts the spicy pork mixture.You will however need some breadcrumbs as well to maintain the right consistency without damaging the overall flavour ( breadcrumbs like potatoes absorb flavour so be careful with the quantity you use).Now having noticed the arrival of NY slider outlets in Portugal´s two major cities I thought it was time for Nigel´s taste sensation, now less than recognizable from the author´s original incarnation, to be served up in miniature version. Welcome Thai pork sliders in miniature artesan buns, served with chili coriander chutney, a bit of salad foliage, cornichons and artesan potato crisps.The NY slider concept as recreated for the Portuguese market by chef Francisco Meireles is somewhat like a fast food tasting menu ( now there´an idea ).The menu consists of the customer´s choice of three different mini-burgers allowing the possibility for the recipient to taste a variety of flavours in the same meal.

 a selection of three NY sliders comprises one portion

Thai pork basic mix
makes four burgers, four patties, six sliders or 30 meatballs
500g organic pork mince or minced porco preto
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 tablespoon Nam pla( thai fish sauce)
2 small hot birds eye or piri piri chillies,deseeded

Large handful of fresh coriander
2 sticks of lemongrass trimmed and roughly chopped or 6 Kaffir lime leaves
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 shallot peeled and finely chopped
hamburger  buns,baps or mini rolls
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
Get your butcher to put the pork through the mincer twice.Put the minced meat in a bowl.Add the soya and fish sauces.Put the chillies,coriander,chopped lemongrass,garlic and shallot in a food processor and chop as finely as you can.Add this mixture to the pork and season with salt and pepper.Mix all the ingredients till well combined and then shape into burgers patties,sliders or meat balls.Warm the oil in a non-stick frying pan.When the oil is hot,put the burgers or sliders in the pan and let them cook for aminute or two until the underside is golden,then flip them over carefully.Continue cooking for aminute,a nd then turn the heat down,cover the pan and cook for afurther four minutes.Drain on kitchen paper and serve

JUST FOR THE PURIST: The perfect patty can be a thing of simple perfection if your meat is of the best and the seasonings are correct.Don´t skimp and use any old mince.You need to buy finely ground ("duas vezes", as we say in Portugal, literally twice through the mincer).You will then have finely ground skeins of silky pink meat speckled with white fat to make the perfect burgers, sliders or meat balls.

JUST FOR THE HISTORY:According to the earliest citations, the name may have originated aboard U.S. Navy ships, due to the way greasy burgers slid across the galley grill while the ship pitched and rolled. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hendricks Gin and Fever tree jelly shots, the perfect tonic


Everywhere I go these days I seem to be bombarded by gin menus and gin bars.What is it with Gin? it seems gin is the new vodka.Well actually it is. I only recently learnt that gin is actually vodka  up to the point  when the juniper is added.Don´t get me wrong I love a gin I but what a lot of fuss.
So why is mothers' ruin back in fashion? For decades gin was dismissed as a rather fuddy-duddy drink, to be drowned in tonic and consumed by maiden aunts and grandparents.Even that was a marked improvement on the spirit's reputation in the 18th century, when gin was blamed for a whole host of social ills. It became known as "mother's ruin" and the artist William Hogarth did the drink no favours in his print Gin Lane, which depicted a babe falling from the arms of an addled woman.London,once famous for its gin palaces is again up there on the gin wagon.It is not only London it seems that is being hit by this revival.In recent years it has become hugely popular across Europe and beyond, with takes on the classic drink that would have the Queen Mother turning in her grave.A new wave of spirited enthusiasts is embracing and imbibing gin and getting excited about new artesan distillers such as  Sipsmith.It seems we are in the throes of a global gin craze,and nowhere is this more apparent than in Spain. If you’ve been to the Iberian peninsula in the past five years, you’ve probably been handed a “gin-tonic” in a glass the size of your head. “Spain is gin paradise, and the biggest market for gin in the world per head of population,” says Geraldine Coates, the editor of Gintime.com.
The craze for gin-and-tonic means Madrid and Barcelona are positively fizzing with new gin bars,spurring high end publications like Conde Nast Traveller to publish guides to where to get the best gin and bear it juniper fix.


Gin and tonic jelly Spanish style en copa de ballon

 The most marked difference between a Spanish G and T and a British one is the glass – in Spain’s case a large, balloon-shaped stemmed glass, the copa de balon.
The Spanish have taken gin and tonic to their hearts: “Even in the smallest bar in the smallest city, they’ll have glass cabinets stocked with a whole host of never before heard of brands and a choice of different tonics,”
The Spanish may be drinking their gin-tonics in big glasses, but that doesn’t mean they’re falling down drunk in the calle. The typical measure is 50ml gin to 100-200ml tonic, and plenty of ice. It comes with anything from cinnamon sticks to rosemary to grapes, it seems the Spanish are getting bored with “fruit salad floating in their drinks”. The copa de balon trend has also spread to Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Oh dear, gin used to be straightforward: spirit, tonic, ice and a slice. Or - if we're harking back to Hogarthian times - a pint pot dunked into a tin bath tub of the stuff, followed by a nice lie down in the gutter.Now thanks to new independent distilleries and a whole new molecular mixology gin is attracting a much younger audience.

Hendricks Gin and Fever tree tonic jelly shots
Makes 10 shot glasses
It's the perfect tonic,but the question is before or after the meal?

150ml (¼pt) water
150g (5½oz) caster sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
125ml (4fl oz) gin
200ml (7fl oz) tonic water
5 gelatine leaves
Lemon and lime wedges

Pour the water and the sugar into a pan, bring to a gentle boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Pour into a measuring jug. Add the lemon juice, gin and tonic - top up with more if it does not reach the 600ml (1pt) mark.
Place the gelatine in a shallow bowl and cover in water. Soak for 4 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water, then whisk the gelatine into 30ml (1fl oz) hot water. Stir this into the lemon syrup until combined.
Pour into individual shot glasses and leave to set for 6 hours.













Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Nuts about an algarvian satay

I am a glutton for peanut butter,but have never thought of making my own. - See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

I am a glutton for peanut butter, but had never thought about making my own until Rachel Kelly aka Marmaduke Scarlet showed me how easy it was. I made it and have never looked back. I am now on my third batch.Tried and tested, it is just as she says, infinitely superior to the shop-bought varieties and can be made in a matter of minutes,well 3 to be precise.I was on a roll and there was no stopping me now.


Home made peanut butter reminded me of a scrumptious Nigel Slater Chicken satay sandwich I used to make back in the day.Could I re-work this idea for our tasting menu? Yes I could. Chicken satay skewers (above top). It was only when we piloted the idea on a tasting menu for friends that it occured to the thespian that this was not very Portuguese, and our tasting menu should really be a showcase for modern Portuguese and Spanish food.Would it be possible to put an Algarvian twist on something essentially Asian?  By replacing the peanuts with almonds we would have an have an almond satay, maybe served with Iberican Porco preto.It was all starting to make sense.
Now my work was cut out.I would have to make home made almond butter.If I´d churned out successful peanut butter I figured I could churn out an almond version. Patience would be a virtue  and I’m not a very patient person, which probably explains why I haven’t made my own almond butter up until now.Are you patient? Because trust me you’ll need it if you want to make your own homemade almond butter.
Patience, almonds, and a food processor. That’s all it takes.But first a word of warning and a couple of tips.Peanuts and other softer nuts like cashews and macadamias turn to butter easily and very quickly.Not so almonds.They take much longer to release their natural oil and start breaking down.Make sure your food processor is powerful enough for the job.I thought mine was but when I smelt burning, the warning lights were telling me the motor was overheating and about to give up the ghost.It did and I had to give up and call on the help of a second processor.
Depending on the size of your food processor, you can grind up to 4 cups of almonds at a time. I recommend sticking to about 2 cups, to make the process move a little faster.You can use raw or roasted almonds. Raw almonds take a little longer, and freshly roasted almonds break down into nut butter faster, if added to the food processor while still warm. (You can dry-roast your own almonds for 10-12 minutes at 350F).




Home made peanut butter
500g raw peanuts (ready roasted in their shells )
peanut or ground nut oil
2tsp Flor de sal
1 tbsp honey (optional)

Split open the peanuts and discard the shells ( this is a lengthy process and should be saved for time in front of the TV when the particular programme does not require full concentration
Place your nuts in a food processor( ouch!!!) add the Flor de sal and process in short bursts.
for the first 10 to 20 seconds or so your nuts will look like ordinary ground nuts.Persevere.
After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil is released from the nuts.The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together.At this point you will need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
After 90 seconds you should get something that looks like a clump of nut paste.You still need to keep going.After 3 minutes the mixture will start to take on an oily gloss ,like peanut butter should. It will still be very thick,so add some ground nut or peanut oil to loosen the mixture.It will then become smooth and creamy.

Home made almond butter
A creamy almond butter that's more affordable than the store-bought versions!
Not only is homemade almond butter cheaper than commercial brands, it also gives you greater control over the quality of almonds you’re eating.

2 cups almonds

tip the almonds into the bowl of your food processor, fitted with an “S” blade.
Snap on the lid, get the food processor running, and let it do all the work!
Be prepared, the food processor will be running for a while. You’ll notice that the ground almonds will start to collect around the edges of the bowl, so be sure to stop and scrape down the sides every few minutes, just to keep everything blending evenly.
Depending on the amount of almonds you use, and the size of your food processor, you’ll notice a change starting to happen after about 10-15 minutes.
As the oils are released from the almonds, they’ll start to stick together and form a large mass that moves around the bowl. You’ll also notice that the almond butter is getting rather warm.
After about 20 minutes of consistent processing you think you’re never going to end up with almond butter– then it all suddenly starts to come together.
You’ll finally have a grainy-looking almond butter.
Don’t worry, you’re almost there!
After a couple more minutes of processing, your almond butter will become smooth and creamy.
Transfer the almond butter to a sealed glass jar, and store in the fridge for best shelf life.

SATAY
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic,peeled and crushed
a small thumb of ginger peeled and grated
1 stem of lemongrass, tender part only, shredded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 small hot piri piri chillies,seeded if you wish ,finely chopped
1 teaspoon good quality curry powder
150g peanut or almond butter
3 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
teaspoon sugar
Soften and very lightly brown the chopped shallot,garlic,ginger and lemongrass in the oil over a moderate heat.Stir in the chillies and curry powder and continue cooking for acouple of minutes.Add the nut butter and 250ml water and bring to the boil.Season with coriander and sugar to taste.serve as a dipping sauce for Iberican pork skewers or chicken. Alternatively toss some grilled chicken strips in the sauce and with a few salad leaves put in a floury bap to make the sandwich above.


SOME EXTRA TIPS WHEN MAKING NUT BUTTER
Feel free to add salt or spices, to your own personal taste. 
Don’t use soaked almonds (without thoroughly drying), or add liquid, for longest shelf life. It might be tempting to add something like vanilla extract, but added moisture will reduce the shelf life greatly.

All you really need are peanuts and a good food processor or spice grinder. Of course there are a few things that you can add to your nut butter, so think of this as less of a recipe and more of a series of suggestions.

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

All you really need are peanuts and a good food processor or spice grinder. Of course there are a few things that you can add to your nut butter, so think of this as less of a recipe and more of a series of suggestions.

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more



All you really need are peanuts and a good food processor or spice grinder. Of course there are a few things that you can add to your nut butter, so think of this as less of a recipe and more of a series of suggestions.

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

All aboard for bruschetta Todos a bordo mais uma refeição para os todos gostos

 Come aboard come aboard.It can go all night if you want it to
Cooking for friends customers or clients can be serious work. Don´t I know it. We often have guests coming in on late flights who want a form of sustenance on their arrival but not necessarily a full blown 3 course dinner. In a more relaxed scenario it might be that you have put it upon yourself to throw an  impromptu gathering that can suddenly become a culinary labour of love.You haven´t got the time and  you don´t want to spend the entire day slaving over a hot stove, so here´s how you take the pain out of prep.- a little or no cook bruschetta board .Its a variation on the theme of tapas.Prepare a wooden board with griddled garlicky bread, add an assortment of charcuterie, cheeses, roasted or grilled vegetables, sauces, pestos, tapenades, dips, and like magic, Fay presto....dinner´s done.Your key ingredient is griddled bread,after that flexibility and creativity can take you where you want to go.You dictate the toppings and your guests relish it.You choose and chop,they pick and mix.Get a little bit fishy if the mood takes you and push the prawn out.Yes prawns,chopped octopus,tuna,anchovies and cod´s roe pate would all work well here.Are you on board?I think you will be.You can delegate too; get your friends to pitch in and bring aboard a  bit of pot luck surprise.Once aboard here is how its done....

Heat a grill over medium high heat.
Generously drizzle the bread with olive oil on both sides. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the slices of bread to the grill and grill for a few moments until grill marks are present. Flip and continue to grill the bread on the other side for a minute more. Remove and set aside.
Rub the garlic on the toasted bread to give it an extra layer of flavor.
Arrange the toppings on a large platter or table and serve with the grilled bread.

    Friday, 3 October 2014

    The return of the Bounty hunter

    Bounty was always sold as two pieces in one package

    For many the Bounty bar was the chocolate bar of disappointment.It induced the same despondency that being the last kid to be picked for the football team at school did.For me however, the excitement of Bounty hunting was always the rattling through a thoroughly pillaged box of Celebrations  to find what my superiors in the family had already rejected in their search for the rich pickings of Galaxy or Snickers
    Thank heavens it was always the Bounty bar that was left by the time the box finished its round on my lap.
    It was my grandmother, or should I say step-grandmother to be precise, that introduced me to Bounty bars.As a child I was fascinated by the coconuts  that were balanced on wooden poles at the local fair´s coconut shy. Oh how I hurled those wooden balls in vain attempts to conquer a coconut to take home.And oh how I screamed when I didn´t get one. Later in life it was Rick Stein´s coconut sambal that I would serve up as an antidote to the torrent of chilli that assaults the back of your tongue when eating a Beef Rendang.More recently while trolling the tinternet for vegan recipes I stumbled across a recipe for "Raw bounty bars." A bit worthy I have to say but with a bit of work on the recipe I produced something that was far less healthy.That childhood craving during shopping trips with nanna had come back to haunt me.Being a precocious  child, I would always  ask "have you got your purse with you nanna? before we had even left home.I knew that if I behaved myself I would get nanna´s reward for being dragged round the shops.She could hardly say no when she was indulging in one herself.

    Nanna, Betty as she was known,was a bit of a trendsetter.Mars had only introduced the Mars bar into England in 1951, so for me to be eating a grown up Bounty bar before the age of 10 was somewhat of an accolade.My own personal preference, the dark chocolate(red wrapper version,also my mother´s favourite ) was introduced later.

    Home made Bounty Bars with flor de sal
    Makes 6 bars

    Coconut Filling
    2 cups / 175g unsweetened desiccated coconut
    ¼ cup / 60ml coconut oil, melted
    2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
    ¼ tsp. Flor de sal
    1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
    1 Tbsp. water


    Chocolate coating
    1/4 cup / 60 ml melted coconut oil

    100g melted cocoa butter or good quality (Callebaut) couverture with vegetable fat
    1/3 cup / 30g cocoa powder
    1/4 cup honey
    a couple pinches flor de sal to taste
      In a a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt coconut oil. Remove from heat and add the honey, sea salt and vanilla seeds, whisk to combine. Set aside.
      Place dessicated coconut in a large bowl and sprinkle the tablespoon of water over top, stir well. Pour the coconut oil mixture over and fold to combine, using your hands if necessary. Taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary.
      Line a 7×7” (18x18cm) baking pan or ceramic dish with plastic wrap, leaving plenty of extra to hang over the sides. Press the coconut mixture firmly into place, especially around the edges. Wrap edges around coconut and place in the fridge to firm, at least 30 minutes,preferably overnight.
      In a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt coconut oil and cocoa butter. Add honey and whisk to combine. When completely uniform, remove from heat and sift in cocoa powder, and add sea salt. Taste for sweetness and saltiness, and adjust accordingly.
      On an open work surface, place a piece of parchment paper underneath a cooling rack. Make space in your fridge for the rack to fit.
      Remove coconut from the fridge, unwrap and cut into 6 bars of equal size. Round off the ends by slicing off the corners if you like for authenticity. One by one, place a coconut bar into the liquid chocolate and turn over a couple times to coat. Remove with a fork, allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl, then place on the cooling rack. Repeat with remaining bars. Once all the bars have been done and they re no longer dripping, place rrack in the fridge for the chocolate to harden, about 15 minutes. Remove from fridge and repeat the process, giving each bar with one more coat of chocolate. Return bars to the fridge.
      Return to the freezer to firm up completely, at least one hour. Remove bars from rack and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two months.



        Thursday, 2 October 2014

        Tonka -a missed opportunity

        Seductively aromatic, somewhat toxic, and celebrated 
        by many for its intriguing qualities

        Where was I when everybody was talking Tonka? It seemed a culinary craze has passed me by. While modern haute cuisine worked overtime to add scents to our plates I must have been working hard at something else.What plonka could have bypassed Tonka? Perhaps it was my aversion to ever reading about the revival of cooking with hay and "Parfum de barnyard",when all one heard of was Grant Achatz's pillows of vapourized fresh mown grass and José Andrés bowls of smoke seeping from under hay brulée. I acknowledge that in "avant-garde cuisine" drama and novelty are important but the FDA in America considered drama can sometimes be deadly.How exciting is that?
        Enter the Tonka bean, a flat, wrinkled legume from South America with a larger than life flavour that the US federal government declared illegal.(I have to say that on the two occasions I have used it I have experienced very vivid dreams,and on one occasion a mild nightmare,so be warned ) Nonetheless, somehow it has proliferated on elite menus. The tiniest shavings erupt like Arthurian legend in a myriad of mystical aromas.
        Tonka beans are an unusual spice that you don’t see in everyday cooking, but have a very unique flavour. In all likelihood,this is probably the one most versatile ingredient you’ve never tried. Like vanilla, the flavour of the Tonka bean can be very complex, but can also be very subtle when it is used in a recipe – which means that it can be difficult to pinpoint the origin of those flavours unless you know that the tonka is in there.
        The taste of the Tonka bean is linked strongly to its scent. Scents, I should say, as the Tonka bean has many at once. It does not come as much surprise that the fragrance of the Tonka bean, was once also used in the manufacture of perfume.One´s palate can register aromas of cherry, almond, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves with sometimes with hints of caramel and even tobacco.The Tonka bean has been adopted countrywide by the Portuguese as a flavour enhancer in Arroz Doce, Portuguese Rice pudding.
        When served cold—say, in ice cream, the taste is like a vanilla caramel with dark honey. When warm, perhaps shaved (it's almost always shaved) over scallops, it moves toward spiced vanilla.
        While the flavour has its own dependence, it adds a unique dimension when paired with chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and the like. Wrinkled and black in appearance, the inside of the hard bean is a dusty chocolate brown that can be applied to dishes in the same way as nutmeg; easily grated as needed.While the tonka bean has savoury applications (such as in certain regional French stews), its more popular applications are sweet:ice cream,  panna cotta, crème brulee, chocolate desserts, truffles and many other dishes.
        With such a uniquely appealing aroma, one smell of a tonka bean will have you inventing recipes and imagining delicious applications for this underused ingredient.I would keep my eye out for the opportunity to try it if you haven’t encountered it before.It might not be common, but you won’t forget the flavour once you’ve had it.
        Tonka bean panna cotta
        makes 6 ramekins 

        500 ml good quality yoghurt
        500ml half and half mixture of single cream and mlk
        225g sugar
        1 teaspoon grated Tonka bean
        4 leaves gelatine

         
        Beat the yoghurt lightly with a fork until smooth and creamy.
        Combine the cream and milk mixture, sugar and grated tonka bean in a pot over a medium flame until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is nicely warm to the touch.Remove from the heat. Dissolve the gelatine in 4 tablespoons of water and add to the cream and milk mixture. Stir to mix, ensuring the gelatine is completely dissolved.Beat in the yoghurt.
        Strain through a sieve into the ramekins and chill for several hours or overnight until set.