Archive for category Cooking classes

Taste and Travel – twin passions

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Well it is time for a change and since I do not have time to keep this blog updated I wanted to let you know before I took the website down. What with Facebook, Instagram and another website – and its accompanying blog to maintain, my Taste Travel blog has taken a back seat for many months.

Please use the link I have provided above before March 7 as it is the date of the change of this website. It will no longer be known as tastetravel.org – however it may be accessible for some time as tastetravel.wordpress.com

But put simply, I am not renewing the shortened (org) domain name of Tastetravel nor the extra space I normally need.

Kiss A Fish was born once we moved to Tasmania permanently, that was just over a year ago and I decided to concentrate on our coastal environment and its seafood for inspiration.

If following blogs takes up too much of your time, then consider just liking my Facebook page as it is the most instant and informal way of staying in touch.

Thank you for your interest over the years and I trust you will understand my need to make a change in the way I communicate. My best wishes to you all Roz

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More cooking classes in Paris

IMG_0207This year I returned to Paris again and headed straight back to my friend Paule’s cooking school. Even though I ran a cookery school myself for several years in Brisbane I still find attending another cook’s classes stimulating and there is always something new to learn. Every time I have gone to Paule’s school I discover not only new recipes but entirely new techniques.

The class started off with an escorted tour to the food shopping district close to the former Le Halles market. Paule’s business name is not named Promenades Gourmandes for nothing. Paule was one of the very first people to organise walks and shopping trips to the best food arrondissements of Paris.IMG_0222

The famous family pie crust. A very different technique of making pastry that I have documented in earlier posts. If you want to know more about a different and easier way of making pastry do look up her website, or better still put in a request if you are going to Paris.

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The starter menu for today was goats cheese and shallot tart but of course the French would have a better name Quiche au Chèvre et Échalottes Confites.

IMG_0235One of the students did not eat goats cheese so we made a lop-sided tart, that is one with the rounds of goats cheese to one side only.

IMG_0213Some patience required for the slow cooking of shallots for the quiche and ratatouille.

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The fabulous Lacanche stove.

The Le Creuset cocotte is an indispensable piece of equipment in Paule’s kitchen.IMG_1747

You don’t see the range in various sizes so often in Australian kitchen shops but you would easily be able to order one at a cook’s shop. I took these photos in Paris’s Galerie Lafayette where they offer cocottes in several sizes.
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The ice on top of the cocotte of ratatouille before it goes into oven – Paule left of picture  in stripes.IMG_0242

At the end just before serving the ratatouille in goes a little crème fraîche, a little something extra that most cookbooks don’t include.

IMG_0228The Tournedos de Saumon – fillets of salmon were coated in herbs and wrapped in slices of smoked salmon. The foil held the shape whilst it was being cooked. I was quite impressed by this dish and re-created when we went down to our rented farm-house in Provence.

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Salmon ready to be lightly cooked on both sides before being finished in the oven.IMG_0248

The salmon cooked and ready to serve. Love the wild patterned plate.IMG_0251

Sauce Vierge to go with the salmon. This was a reminder for me to make this sauce more often, it goes so well with fish and pasta.IMG_0223

Paule serves the most stunning best cheese always. On the board are Crottin de Chavignol, Saint-Marcellin, Brie, Saint-Nectaire and Comté. This year I learned that the crunchy taste in hard cheese are the fats in the milk that crystallise. Another tip this one is alarming for those that think it is the soft cheeses that are highest in fat, it is in fact the harder cheese that has more fat.  You will also learn as we did the ideal wine to drink with cheeses.

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Flourless chocolate souffle with the arty name of Léger Moelleux au Chocolat.IMG_0255

I did not get a photo of the higher inflated version as it came out of the oven. It had settled whilst we ate the other courses.

IMG_0247Paule always lays a beautiful table.IMG_1459

Here’s a pic of us on a wine tour in Beaujolais. I cannot wait to return to France and return to Paule’s kitchen.

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Revisit to Mae Sa Valley Thailand

IMG_0044I am sorting through thousands of old photos but it is time to throw most of them away to reduce enormous amounts of storage creating far too much clutter, and what time it takes as you get bogged down looking through them all. The memories return but I have to be ruthless, they will only deteriorate in storage. The photos are a bit hazy, they weren’t that fabulous in the original. IMG_0041

At the time we visited Mae Sa Valley Craft Village it was owned by a woman in Thailand whose name I can only recall as Chinda.  We were both members of the same international organisation of women entrepreneurs. Chinda if I recall correctly was the head of a bank in Bangkok, much more illustrious than my role in Australia at the time as former contemporary art gallery owner and freelance writer.

The little resort was quite rustic in its accommodation but it offered a range of activities and I opted for the cooking class and the paper making.
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It turned out Chinda’s nephew is Vatcharin Bhumichitr and was quite famous back in the 90’s having run a Thai restaurant in London, published cookbooks and had designed the cookery school and course at Mae Sa Craft Village.

English: Vatcharin Bhumichitr, the author of d...

English: Vatcharin Bhumichitr, the author of dozens of books on Thai cuisine, in the kitchen of his house in Mae On, near Chiang Mai. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not sure if he is still involved or if Chinda still owns the village.  I found his picture on Wikipedia and the craft village seems to still be operating but I could not find a website for them however plenty of people have left comments on Trip Advisor recording their visits.

IMG_0042Paper making was quite therapeutic.

IMG_0045The finished product drying. I still have the sheets of paper sitting in a handmade paper tube.

IMG_0038The cooking school is housed in an outdoor kitchen.IMG_0046

I like the design of the circular benches.IMG_0039

Chinda came in to see what we were making. It was a private lesson for me and plenty of helpers to do the prep.IMG_0040

I am making a Chiang Mai sausage here.  I remember after this experience going to the butcher at West End and asking Adrian who was the butcher at the time to let me make sausages with the aid of a commercial machine. I also made the Chiang Mai sausages again a few years back at Steve’s organic butchery the Meat-ing Place in Paddington. He was going to trial them to sell but this type of sausage is best made by hand in small batches.

At the school we simply used the cut off top of a plastic drink bottle as a funnel and stuffed the meat in by hand. They are not hard to make and here is a print friendly copy of  Spicy Thai Sausage

There is one other dish I learned here that I make regularly – its short name is Ong – a pork and chilli sauce or dip and I whip it up just as quickly as you might make an omelette. I make it very spicy so I serve it with steamed Jasmine rice. We never eat savoury minced meat like our parents used to make, dreadfully bland compared to Ong.

Here is the recipe for my quick favourite pork dish Ong – Pork and Chilli Sauce

In the market I was confounded by this packet of soup mix – it comprised dried ingredients as a base for Tom Yum but I was not convinced about adding lemonade.

Recipe Thai soupThe memories are kept alive in the food we cooked and ate on our travels and in the friendships made. After our stay at Mae Sa Valley village we were collected by a driver and guide for further travels north to Laos and in the car were two people from Switzerland who have become life long friends.  We meet regularly around the world and this year we meet again in Belgium.

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La trouchia a French way with Chard

IMG_9228My generous neighbours gave me some freshly picked chard and I decided to use it two ways. I decided on La trouchia, a Provencal recipe using the leaves and the stalks for an au gratin dish. In Nice you can buy slices in the streets as a snack. It is pronounced ‘troo-sha’.

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This is how thick the chard mixture looks in the pan, a very thick mix

It is a flat green omelette using chard from the southern area of Provence, a close cousin of  the Italian frittata. I found a good version of La trouchia in Robert Carrier’s Feasts of Provence.

I stripped the leaves and washed it well, then finely sliced and drained it well. Then I added a big bunch of chopped parsley, also another gift from our neighbours, basil from my garden. I whisked up 8 whole eggs stirred in 50g grated parmesan cheese, a generous pinch of cayenne pepper (you can detect it in the background so don’t leave out, a ground of white pepper and sea salt. I heated 4 tablespoons olive oil in my large frypan  and added all the mixture at once.

Slid onto flat plate

Cooked one side and slid onto flat plate

At first it looks like there is too much chard but you just keep pressing it down with a slotted spatula and the egg begins to come through to the top. I put a lid on top whilst cooking so it would not dry out.

first cooked side up

Back in the pan and the first cooked side up

When it was cooked on one side I slid it carefully on to a flat cake serving plate and then flipped it back in the pan to cook the reverse side. If you have made a Spanish potato omelette it is very similiar technique.

IMG_9237Turned out on the cake plate before going back in the pan.IMG_9238

Finally returned to the cake plate and served a slice or two.

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We had it as a light dinner and the rest went into the fridge for lunch. My suggestion is to serve it with Nicoise olives.  This could be wonderful in a lunch box for children and adults. I gave a piece to my tiler and he could easily eat it in between slathering cement gunk on the back of tiles.

IMG_9244This is the chard au gratin I cooked with the stems.

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Could not resist ending with my lovely kitchen view.

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Tasmanian walnuts in Date Nut Loaf

Tasmania produces fresh large walnuts so I looked for my old cylindrical Willow brand tins I had found years ago in a charity shop and looked for some recipes. The tins are different designs although both Willow brand. This one is easier to fill but harder to clean.IMG_9166

The tricky tin, I defy anyone else to fill it with one hand whilst holding it upright with the other hand, unless someone is around to help it just falls apart. I doubt a ‘patent pending’ ever became legal for this tin design.IMG_9167

Looks OK when closed. My grandmother made these regularly and I recall they always made an appearance on the ‘take a plate’  morning and afternoon teas back in the fifties and sixties. 

You simply must slather the round thick slices with cold butter as it is not called a loaf for nothing. If you don’t eat butter at all don’t bother to make it.

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I consulted all the old-fashioned community recipe books in my possession and they all have the same measurements for ingredients and tin size which is doubly perplexing because they all say, ‘use two cylindrical round tins’. They are all misleading – the ingredient measurements are wrong. The mixture quantity they give is not enough for two of the traditional tins, therefore I doubled the recipe and since I could not manage the second round tin that kept falling apart, without a helper I used a conventional loaf tin. You can see that by doubling the mix I would have had a little left over if I had used the two round tins.

The walnuts are Tasmanian, fresh and whole, not like the supermarket ones that are all broken into bits, and if you add up the cost of those small packets the price exceeds the health food price where I get these fresh Tasmanian nuts. No one is growing dates in Tasmania to my knowledge so I could not boast it is entirely Tasmanian.

DATE AND NUT LOAF

Preheat oven to 180c

If you use fan forced then turn the oven down to 170 degrees C.

1 cup dates, chopped

1 tsp Quatre Epices, four spice blend (this is my little improvement)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup boiling water
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten

Place dates, walnuts, sultanas, sugar, bi-carb and butter in a bowl.
Pour one cup of boiling water over contents of bowl.
Mix well, then add flour, salt and beaten egg.
Mix only till well blended.
Placed in two greased round nut loaf tins, replace top caps and stand upright in oven (or place all mixture in greased loaf tin).

Bake in moderate oven for 50-60 minutes.

Here is my printer friendly Date and Nut Loaf recipe

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Luke Mangan’s Apricot Ricotta Cake

I am a big fan of using ricotta in cakes and my travels to Italy have rendered me a cache of ricotta recipes from its regions.  But I have just come across this recipe in the Australian chef’s Luke Mangan at home and in the mood cookbook and I just had to try it.

Ready for the oven

The cake’s filling of dried apricots lends a certain tartness to it and if you serve crème fraîche alongside as Luke and I have, it is almost a savoury dessert, sounds like an oxymoron but you have to try it for yourself to taste what I mean.

When the recipe said, butter a cake tin and coat it with raw sugar I thought to myself  ‘if it does not come away from the tin I will be very very cross’.

In my trove of cake tins, mostly the spring form type with removable sides I searched for the recommended circumference, Luke did not provide much detail so I assumed one with high and straight sides.

There is a school of thought in cookbook publishing that you keep the recipe methods short and concise so when people pick them up to browse they look easy to make. Sometimes that leaves you with some guesswork.  After years of using parchment baking paper to line tins or lining with butter/flour, I took on the butter-sugar lining risk. So Luke if you are listening, I never doubted the recipe would not work but was preparing in the event I had to slice it out of the tin.

Scientists say that if something does not work the first time, they just quietly work away at it until it does. Time is not an issue for them, but for chefs, they move on when something does not work the first time. They look for instant results and I am in that category, if it does not work there are other recipes to try.

To make life easier click here Apricot Ricotta Cake for easy printing.

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Persian baked yoghurt chicken in rice

The Persian name for this dish is Taheheen – e morgh and I found it in the book Saraban by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I have never had a recipe fail from this duo.

The yoghurt and chicken in the marinade ready to be covered and placed in the fridge.

When I turned it out it reminded me of a big fat rice Timballo, the Italians would be impressed.

Now think ahead for this dish as you should try to marinate the ingredients in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Well if you are entertaining then you normally plan ahead, don’t you? I have changed their recipe slightly but only in some of the measures. This is a good looking dish with a moist filling seeing the crispy brown rice crust on this dish was worth the effort.

Baked Yoghurt rice with chicken or Taheheen – e morgh

Serves 6

350g thick natural yoghurt

3 egg yolks

4 tbsps Saffron liquid

(soak 20 threads of saffron in 4 tbspns boiling water)

1 tspn orange flower water

finely grated zest of 2 oranges

1 tsp sea salt

½  tsp freshly ground black pepper

500g boneless free-range chicken (breast and thighs) cut into 2cm cubes

400g Basmati rice

2 tsps sea salt

80g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing baking dish

Thick natural yoghurt and fresh herbs to serve

 Method

Beat the yoghurt with the egg yolks, saffron liquid, orange flower water, zest, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Add the chicken to the yoghurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or ideally up to 12 hours ahead of time.

Wash, soak and parboil the rice.  (I use a rice cooker and as soon as it the rice comes to the boil I turn it off and drain the rice).

Preheat the oven to 190c and butter a 2 litre ovenproof dish. (I use a cake tin with straight sides) Remove the chicken pieces from the yoghurt marinade. Mix half the parboiled rice with the marinade and spoon it into the base of the ovenproof dish. Spread the rice over the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Arrange the chicken on top of the rice, spoon in the rest of the rice to cover, and smooth the surface. Cover tightly with a sheet of lightly buttered foil and bake for 1½ hours.

Remove the dish from the oven and dot the surface of the rice with bits of butter.

Replace with the same piece of foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Turn the rice out onto a warm serving platter.  Serve with a bowl of creamy yoghurt and a selection of chopped fresh herbs – tarragon basil chives and parsley would be lovely.

Click here for a printer friendly copy of the recipe Baked Yoghurt rice with chicken

 

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