Saturday, April 30, 2011

The perfect rainy day!

My favourite kind of day is one when the rain is heavy; the girls are quiet and cosy watching Brady Bunch re-runs snuggled together on the couch; the baby sleeps long and hard; I have a pile of food mags and new cook books ready to read, whilst a pot of soup slowly bubbles on the stove.
This weekend all my wishes came true!


                 This is my favourite soup for a cold rainy day and cold and rainy Sydney has definitely been

You’ll need:

1 ½ kilos of corn off the cob about 8 large cobs of corn – de-kernaled

Before and after

1 litre of stock (chicken or pork) or water

Garlic – I like about 4 – 5 cloves

A handful of rosemary and sage

25 g butter and a little olive oil

Pinch of chilli

Milk – about 250ml, add this after the soup is finished to thin it out

Cream – to serve as much or a little as you like

Chives - to serve as much or a little as you like

Bacon crumbs – at least a tablespoon per bowl (I would have more)

Brown rice – optional

 To make:

Melt your butter in a heavy based pot and gently fry your garlic and rosemary for a couple of minutes

Add your corn kernels and cook with the garlic for a further 10 min

Then add your stock – Chicken or pork, which is what I used only because I have a freezer full. As you can see mine was frozen, not ideal but it worked just fine (usually I’d just use water)

Once the stock melted and started coming up to the heat, I added a handful of sage

Cook for about 45min – 1 hour

Let the soup cool slightly before blending and sieving it

1. plain                                     2. cream                                       3. chives & bacon                               
 Once you pushed it through a sieve, with the help of a wooden spoon – (this is to remove all the fibres from the delicate creamy soup) and put back in it’s pot, add your milk and extra seasoning if needed and bring up to temp again

Serve with cream, bacon crumbs, chives  - a must!

Optional extras that are delicious – a little brown rice or delicious bread rubbed with garlic and oil

©Michelle Schoeps 2013
All photos taken by Michelle Schoeps

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's all about comfort food over the Easter weekend! #2

On Sunday, after the Easter Bunny had done his usual drop in our garden, we had my girlfriend Rochie her partner Thomas and their baby Hiro over for lunch and I attempted that pork dish I almost died over.

I have made the stock, using the most beautiful free range organic pork (happy pork)
(I made the stock on Friday)

How to make Pork stock:

Depending on the size of your pot, you'll need a couple of kilo's of pork bones (I used ribs)

You don't need to brown them in the oven, but I did on 220c until they coloured around 20 min

Then I put, celery (tops and all), carrots, parsnip, parsley, pepper corns and salt along with the bones
(check for salt once finished)

I filled my pot with water and bought it to a simmer, then turned the heat down to the lowest and left it on for the day

Making sure to turn it off just before bed

 Then strained it the next morning
(making sure to keep any meat - without bones for mazzy)

My pot is massive so I made enough stock for a small army
I popped it in tubs and froze what I wasn't going to use

 The slow cooked pork I prepared on Saturday, so all I had to do on Sunday was make the polenta and re-heat the pork – Oh and desert!

Luciana’s recipe goes like this:
Should feed 6 people 

1.5kg pork neck – cut into small pieces

150g unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves

handful of sage

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 bay leaves

100ml dry white wine (nothing very over powering)

500ml of stock

150ml milk

150g polenta –(not instant polenta)

salt and pepper

Place 100g of butter in a cast iron pot and once hot (not burnt) add your meat

Brown meat on all sides, then remove from the pan and set aside
(Do not use oil!)

Clean the pan and place the remaining 50g of butter along with the garlic into the pan and cook until the garlic is translucent

Then add your already browned meat back into the pot and pour in your wine

This is the wine I used

Let the wine evaporate (Luciana said when the alcohol smell is gone it's ready for the stock to go in)

Now add half the stock and the herbs and let it cook really slowly for 2 hours or until the
 meat is so tender you can squish it with two forks (I added a little more stock after 2 hour as it was evaporating - about another 200ml of stock and I cooked mine for almost 4 hours on 160c with no fan) the cooking time really depends on the quality of your meat, the pork I used was a heritage breed - free range with lots of fat marbled through it.

I left it in the fridge over night

For the polenta:

To start, boil the remaining stock and 100ml of the milk – check for salt

When measuring my polenta – I decided that there wasn’t enough so I used 400g 
polenta and on top of the liquid that was already boiling, I added another pork stock from the freezer and a little extra milk at the end

Add the polenta and whisk like your life depends on it (literally) – you don't want any lumps!

Do this as it comes to the boil (remember children should not be near the stove as the polenta is like molten lava and it spits as it gets hotter, stirring consistently reduces the spitting).
Rochie and I did this together she poured, I whisked - we made a good team.

Once the polenta is spitting (or bubbling), reduce the heat a little and keep stirring with a wooden spoon

When the polenta is almost done about 5 minutes of stirring should do it, add the remaining milk and sauce (liquid from your warmed pork) and stir well 

Then finally add the meat, give it a final stir and then pop the lid on and in the oven it goes for 15min so the flavour can all combine

Serve on plates with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese


This region of Italy only uses butter to cook with – DO NOT USE OLIVE OIL OR LUCIANA WILL HAVE MY HEAD!! (you can use oil on your salad)

Also do not add your garlic to a very hot pan or it will brown to fast and become bitter (wrecking your meal) add by removing your pan from the heat and letting it cool just a little

She also said not to use a special wine it will over power the dish, I used an organic / chemical free wine - which cost me $15 (I don't drink, but I'm guessing that's an OK price for a bottle of wine))

Can I just say my polenta was as good as Lucianna’s – she would have been proud! 
It was everything I remembered and better still I got to share it with my family and friends. 
I served massive portions (as I’m known for doing) and nobody left a crumb. 
Thomas even had seconds. It was warm and comforting and absolutely moreish
I served it with a salad, just leaves and balsamic vinaigrette.

It was hands down the easiest dinner I have ever made for a special occasion, if only my toilet had decided to behave it would have been a stress free day.

For dessert I made: 
Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding

It was time to clear out the freezer so I could find room in it for the pork stock.
In it I found these delicious organic spelt chocolate chip hot cross buns, no chance I’m wasting these.

So I sliced them up, spread them all with butter (real butter - not the stuff out of a tub) and good quality apricot jam and baked in the oven till golden and crunchy served with custard made by Rochie, delicious!

Will serve 6
Preheat your oven to 180c

You will need:

a packet of hot cross buns – slice each one in three - (I used organic spelt choc/chip hot cross buns) 


Apricot jam

And Cinnamon

For the custard you’ll need:

6 eggs

500ml of whole milk

100ml cream

a slug or not of brandy or something like it

200g fine sugar – (I used vanilla sugar)

1 teaspoon of vanilla – (extract or powder is fine a vanilla bean would be the best)

½ a teaspoon of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

Demerara sugar to sprinkle on top

To start:

Whisk all your custard ingredients together till well combined

Then get your sliced hot cross buns and butter each one well

Then spread every other one with apricot jam
(see picture above or below)

Prop them up like my picture – one layer with jam the next without
Repeat till all done

Pour your custard over evenly and sprinkle with demerara sugar

Then bake in a the oven for 50min or until golden brown on top and crunchy

Serve with homemade custard  or good quality vanilla ice-cream

Faces only mothers could love!
After our mammoth meal (the unbelievable super extraordinary polenta) we went for a walk around the neighborhood to let our food settle. 
I had put the pudding on to bake while we were gone, but we were gone for a little bit longer than expected and I thought for sure the pudding was going to be burned and  it was a little browner than I had originally planned but not burned and super crunchy and custardy, topped with the custard Rochie had made it was heaven.

The custard Rochie made was by Stephanie Alexander it goes like this:

1 cup of whole milk

1 cup of cream

1 vanilla bean – split and scrapped

All in a saucepan and bring to simmer

In a separate bowl

Whisk ½ cup of caster sugar with 5 egg yolks till light and fluffy

Slowly whisk in the milk/cream until just combined

Then pour it back into the cleaned out saucepan and stir on low heat for approx 10min
until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon

then add the rest of the vanilla bean and a final stir

serve hot or cold

I would just like to say it was a fair exchange I got to keep the left over custard - which I ate yesterday all to myself and Thomas and Rochie got to take home the leftover pudding
(I think I got the better deal!)

The next day all we did was relax!

‘Cueste di Purcitin Tal Brut di Polente’- The pork and polenta recipe by Luciana Sampogna
Rochie's Custard recipe by Stephanie Alexander
All photo's by me
Remember to click once then twice to enlarge all of my pictures
©Michelle Schoeps 2013
All photos taken by Michelle Schoeps

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's all about comfort food over the Easter weekend! Part 1

This year we are going a little un-kosher.

We are a very non-religious family and my kids have always known that they are allowed to believe in whatever takes their fancy. So when it came to deciding about their scripture classes at school they are given options on what religion they would like to learn about.
Last year it was Jewish classes (because by birth the kids and I are Jewish and therefor  it was time someone learnt about the Jewish religion). This year it was decided we’d learn about being a Buddhist. 
Anyway, Frank came to me after a couple of weeks of Buddhist classes and told me she’s was not interested in being a Buddhist,  that she wants to return to Jewish scripture, maybe it had something to do with the grape juice and lollies the teacher gave them and the fact that she loves hallah - classic! 
So back to Jewish scripture it was.

So in honour of Frank's beliefs I thought it only fit that we celebrate Passover as well as Easter.

My Jewish princess will celebrate her Jewish ancestry with Matzo ball soup (minus the matzo balls) and veal schnitz crumbed in fine matzo meal served with salad and that special wine (grape juice). These are all of Frank's favourite foods together in one meal – Jewish heaven! 
She will be joined by Ines and her only Jewish friend Sasha (at least I know Sash will eat my matzo ball)!

We, of course, will all enjoy this meal with them, and maybe they can teach us a thing or two about Passover.

You will need:

Homemade chicken stock or a good quality one from a good butcher – enough for as many people as you need to feed – about 1 litre will feed 6 as an entrĂ©e.

To make your Matzo balls:

Will make 4 medium sized matzo balls per bowl of soup

200g or ½ a packet of Matzo bread – finely blitzed in your whizzer (food processor)

You'll need to do your Matzo in batches as it wont all fit in at once
6 eggs

6 tablespoons of olive oil or schmaltz (chicken fat)

2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 cup of water

How it’s done:

In a large bowl whisk, eggs, oil, salt, pepper and parsley

Add your matzo flour and mix to combine

Slowly add the water a little at a time, each time mixing till you have the consistency of slightly sloppy porridge

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 – 3 hours

When you’re ready to serve, take your mixture out of the fridge and clean your hands ready to roll your balls

Get a heaped teaspoon of mixture and roll it into balls in the palm of your hand, repeat

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil, pop your rolled matzo ball in (careful not to over crowd the pot – saying this in you can cook quite a few at a time if your pot is quite wide)

Once they come to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and place the lid on

They will take around 10-15 min – to test if they are cooked cut one in half and if they are easy to cut through they're cooked

Heat your soup – pour into bowls and divide Matzo balls evenly – also delicious is a sprinkle of parsley and carrot cooked while the soup is warming up.

With the Schnitzel, I used veal from my new favourite place Grass Roots Urban Butchery (that’s a whole-nother post in itself).

Anyway this is how I did my veal schnitzel:

Again you will need veal to feed the number you have for dinner – I had 6.

You’ll need:

1 tablespoon of garlic granules – put in a mortar & pestle and ground down to a fine powder (if you can’t find the dried garlic just use fresh and add it to the eggy mixture)

1 tablespoon of sweet paprika – mix together with the garlic

The other half a packet of matzo around 200g ground down in your whizzer till fine

2 large eggs

½ a cup of milk

salt and pepper to lightly season each step

Whisk the eggs, milk and seasoning together

How I do it:

Step 1: sprinkle each piece of meat with the garlic/paprika, making sure each side has a good amount

Step 2: dip each piece of meat in the eggy mixture and then directly in the matzo crumbs

Step 3: Press down on each piece being sure to make sure they are coated all over with the matzo – place on a plate, putting a layer of greaseproof paper between each layer

Step 4: In your skillet bring your grapeseed or olive oil to a high temp (test this with a piece of bread- when the bread colours it’s ready) 

Place your schnitz in carefully and brown on each side only turning your schnitz once – this should take at longest 1 ½ minutes each side, depending on the thickness of your veal (mine were very thin)

Once cooked place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Serve with salad and lemon wedges.
Dinner was a success – Passover finished – now to Easter.
Part two tomorrow x

©Michelle Schoeps 2013
All photos taken by Michelle Schoeps