Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nicoise Summer Tart with Moneky Bread

Nicoise Summer Tart.
Photos by Steve Shanahan

First published Canberra Times,  26 November 2014.

The thing that’s so lovely about these warm, summery evenings in Canberra is the gorgeous luminous light that highlights the bright, new soft leaves of the trees. I believe we appreciate our seasons, as they are so incredibly extreme.

This association with light, summery evenings, easily translates to serving lighter, fresher foods incorporating the new seasons delicate vegetables, so easily accessible here. Tarts are perfect for entertaining and ideal fare for Christmas celebrations as they can be served warm on plates or passed around as finger food.

This particular tart is reminiscent of the French bistro classic, Nicoise Salad, however instead of serving it with tuna, I opted for the richer, more decadent flavours of salmon.  The tart holds up well for left-overs and can be made a day in advance. The beauty of a tart is that you can prepare and par-cook the tart shell in advance and the filling combinations are endless.

This tart was served alongside the wicked and indulgent Rosemary Monkey Bread, swimming in butter and honey.

Serves 8

2 cups flour
130 g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3 medium sized eggs
½ head of butter lettuce leaves, torn into 5cm pieces
10 green beans, cut into 5 centimetre lengths
1 medium potato, peeled and sliced
1 95g good quality tinned salmon
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 anchovy fillet
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 small red shallot onion, peeled
2 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
½ cup pitted black olives

Place the flour, butter and salt into a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles course breadcrumbs. Add six tablespoons of ice-cold water and mix with a knife until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it until smooth. This should take about two minutes. Form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Boil the potato in salted water until tender, then add the green beans and cook for a minute more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl of ice-cold water, then drain and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the lettuce and salmon to the vegetables and set aside.

Blend together the milk, cream, oil, mustard, eggs, anchovy, garlic, shallot and salt and pepper until smooth and add to the vegetables and salmon. Stir to combine and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Roll the dough into a thirty-two centimetre circle and transfer to a greased twenty-six centimetre spring form tart tin with a removable base, pressing the dough gently into the base and sides of the tin. Place the tin on a baking tray.

Prick the dough with a fork and cover with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake until slightly firm, about fifteen minutes. Remove the paper and beans and spread the filling into the crust. Arrange the tomatoes and olives on the top and bake at a reduced oven temperature of 150C for approximately thirty minutes, this may vary and take longer depending on your oven. Check for doneness in the centre of the tart, it shoudl not be runny. Let the tart cool slightly before removing from the pan to serve.

Rosemary monkey bread
Rosemary Monkey Bread
180g unsalted butter
4 cups flour
1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup of milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
¾ cup honey
2 packets or 14g of dried yeast

Grease a twenty-five centimetre bundt tin with butter and then dust well with flour. Whisk the flour, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and set aside. 

Heat two tablespoons of the butter with the milk and one-third of a cup of water over medium heat until warmed. Do not overheat the milk as you will damage the yeast. Transfer the milk mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Stir in the sugar and yeast and allow to sit for about ten minutes until the mixture is foamy. With the motor running slowly add the dry ingredients to the yeast,  beating until the dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the honey and set aside.

On a lightly floured benchtop, pat the dough out into a twenty centimetre square about two and half centimetres thick. Cut the dough into two and half centimetre pieces and squash together into the prepared bundt pan, layering as you go. Pour the melted butter and honey mixture over the dough. Bake until golden and a skewer, when inserted into the middle of the bread, comes out clean. This should take about thirty minutes. Let the bread cool slightly before upending onto a plate and serve with the Nicoise summer tart.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Siam Twist Hackett

Thank you Siam Twist for another great night. Food was superb, service spot on and reasonably priced. Keep this up Siam Twist and you will be competing with the big gun restaurants of Canberra.  Blessed to have you as our "local". Well done Andrew and co.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smoking with Broadbeans

Smoked Lamb with smashed broadbean and spiced pumpkin salad

Photos by Steve Shanahan

Apologies in advance are probably in order here, as I inflict the well worn cafĂ© and restaurant mantra of fresh, local, seasonal produce, on you again to describe these dishes. This concept is not new or unique and producers from the world over have been working with seasonally available produce for ages, actually, forever.

In these recipes I also incorporate one of the most basics of preservation techniques, smoking, used to preserve the spring produce through leaner times. In this instance, this is not used to preserve, but to add flavour.  In making the most of the sweet spring produce available at this time of year and the smoking for flavour, makes for a light, spring lunch, evocative of the Mediterranean.

As in the Mediterranean, I was fortunate to produce my own backyard crop for the choicest and sweetest peas, broadbeans, mint and citrus that were ready to harvest, bang on time for a family birthday feast. 

While preparing the vegetables, I am captivated by the soft, fluffy green papoose of the broadbean pod that protects its offspring, keeping it in perfect condition. And the verdant greens of the mint, coriander and peas have not yet been yellowed off by the sun. This time of year really is the height of food perfection. 

For a low fuss feast, throw together these ingredients with some smoked new season lamb, and few embellishments are needed for a gorgeous Mediterranean inspired spring lunch.

To smoke the lamb and lemons I used a simple smoking technique using a kettle barbeque with hot coals and hickory chips available at most hardware shops. 

Smoked lamb with smashed broad bean and spiced pumpkin salad
Serves 4
800g butternut pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and diced
¼ tspn ground allspice
salt and ground pepper
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
500g broadbeans, unpodded. If fresh broadbeans are not available use frozen.
12 lamb cutlets
100g marinated feta, crumbled
½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
Hickory wood chips
Olive oil spray

1 tbsp olive oil
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped coriander

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an oven tray with baking paper and place chopped pumpkin on the tray drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with allspice, salt and pepper to taste.

Bake for thirty minutes and then scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top and bake for another five minutes or so until the seeds are roasted. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the paste, heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium to low heat. Add the cumin, ground coriander, paprika, turmeric and garlic. Cook, stirring for one minute. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, fresh, chopped coriander and parsley. Stir to combine. Smear half of the paste onto the cutlets to marinate and set the remainder aside.

Prepare the broad beans by cooking in a medium saucepan of boiling water for three minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water and drain and cool. When cooled, peel off outer shell and reserve the inner beans. Gently smash with a potato masher, still leaving a coarse texture.

Any smoker can be used to smoke the lamb cutlets. I use a simple kettle barbeque using hot coals cooked down for a few hours with the kettle lid placed on it. Spray the cutlets with a light spray of olive oil. Place the cutlets on a greased wire rack that sits over a disposable foil tray with a handful of hickory chips spread over the base. The foil tray should sit on the kettle rack in the barbeque with the hot coals underneath it. Place the lid on the preheated kettle barbeque and leave the vent slightly open. The cutlets should take about thirty minutes to cook. They will turn a dark red on the outside and just pink on the inside. For well done lamb return to the heat for about another ten minutes or cooked inside when checked for doneness.

To assemble the dish, combine the pumpkin, broad beans, fetta and coriander in a bowl with a dash of olive oil and the lemon juice. Divide among serving plates and top with the lamb cutlets and dolloped with the remaining paste.

Smoked Lemon, pea and broadbean on flatbread

Serves 4
4 Lebanese flatbreads

olive oil spray
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tbsp olive oil
800g broadbeans in shell, alternatively use frozen broadbeans
250g fresh peas in shell, alternatively use frozen peas
1/3 bunch fresh mint
2 lemons, halved
100g pecorino cheese, grated
salt and ground pepper

Smoked lemons
Preheat smoker or barbeque and place lemon halves over a grill with a smoking wood below. I generally use hickory chips. Smoke for fifteen minutes or until the lemons appear golden and caramelised. They should be softened. If you are cooking this complete meal with the smoked lamb, you can smoke the lemons at the same time as the lamb.

Broad bean and pea topping
Shell the broad beans from the outer pod and cook the beans in a pot of boiling water for two minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and reserve the water for the peas and set broad beans aside. Shell the peas and cook for two minutes in the broad bean water. Drain the peas and set aside. Shell the cooked broad beans.

In a food processor, pulse the broad beans, peas, mint half the pecorino cheese, garlic, olive oil and juice from one smoked lemon in a food processor for only a few seconds to achieve a slightly chunky mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 200C and spray the flatbreads lightly with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with a little salt and the herbs. Cook in the oven on a rack over an oven tray for about ten minutes or until golden and crisp but not burnt.

To assemble, break the flatbreads into shards and pile on the broad bean and pea topping, serving with extra grated pecorino, a further drizzle of olive oil and the remaining smoked lemon cut into halves again.