October 29, 2013
My family are definite Carnivores
Most main meals include a certain amount of meat. It doesn't have to figure prominently, but it must at least give the illusion of inclusion for BigJ to be happy
A few months ago we were watching a cooking program when a certain item was mentioned that made BigJ's eyes widen... a Burger! But not just any burger- the Ultimate Burger! This one was made up of half Beef and half Bacon, thus promising double the dining pleasure and double the meat- his idea of Joy.
I figured if I had to go ahead and make this Perfect Burger, then I might as well do it properly. I read up on some of Heston's hints for burger greatness, and pulled out my trusty mincer- would you like to join me in my journey?....
The Star Ingredients
Fifty Fifty Burgers
for 6 decent sized patties
500gm diced Beef
500gm Streaky Bacon
Roughly chop the bacon and add it to the beef. Add a decent pinch or two of salt, scrunch it together and pop in the fridge for an hour or so. This lets the salt work on the meat proteins and helps it bind together and draw out some of the moisture from the meat
After an hour or so I popped the meat into the freezer for a while to firm up. This will help make mincing easier and also stop the bacon fat from going pasty and mushy as it grinds
Just for the sake of experimenting, I decided to try two methods of mincing my burger meat.
For some, I just chucked it all in and ground it up to a nice coarse mince
Beef and bacon all snuggled up together cosily
For the rest though, I wanted to try Heston's method of keeping the mince strands long and straight. You catch the strands as they come out the mouth of the grinder and then wrap them firmly in cling wrap and chill to let them set. You then slice the mince into rounds across the strands, so as you bite through them they break away naturally, resulting in a much more tender burger. OK.... it was a bit fiddly, but not to hard to accomplish if you're not in a rush for dinner
Form your meat into nice round patties, and let them set in the fridge for a while to firm up
While your meat is chilling it's time to get to the other Fancy Fillings!
I chose Butter Lettuce leaves, ripe juicy Tomatoes, sliced Dill Pickles, and good old tinned Beetroot rounds and slices of Pineapple
Fry the meat off in a hot pan until just cooked through. The patties will be a bit pink in colour due to the bacon in the mix, but don't worry about it
The smaller patty is Heston style and the larger one is plain
Toast your gluten free bun and load it up with goodies while the meat is cooking
Pop on the patty and pineapple and dig right in!
I served my burgers with some baked Sweet Potato Fries and a variety of sauces and mustard for slathering- Yummo!
Ok, what did I think of the different patty styles?
In the front is the plain burger. The pink bits are just the bacon, it's definitely cooked through don't worry. The taste was great, with the coarse mince allowing you to get a definite mix of both beef and bacon without the two blending totally together. It wasn't tough, but nice and toothsome with just a bit of resistance. If they were overcooked I think they would go quite sawdusty though.
The back patty is Heston's. It was most definitely a gorgeously soft texture to eat. Your teeth just slipped through the strands and the meat seemed to require hardly any chewing at all. If you want to impress, or if you have the time to go to the effort I would certainly recommend trying this technique. The whole family voted it to be the winner hands down! I guess maybe he really does know what he's talking about :)
What did I think of the burger as a whole though? Was it worth the Big Build Up? Well.... it was OK. There was a nice bacony overtone to the whole thing and the fat kept the lean beef nice and juicy- but you missed the crispy, browned, rim of fat, wholeness that a rasher of bacon gives. I think having that slice on top of your burger patty makes it seem a bit more luxurious as a topping, rather than just being an extra ingredient.
That's just my opinion- BigJ loved it and said we could fix that by just adding lots of extra bacon on top of our Fifty Fifty Burger next time!
So Dear Reader, are you a fan of bacon and what do you like to put on a burger?
October 22, 2013
One of the things I really enjoy about travelling is trying out all the new foods- and I'm especially a big sucker for a good breakfast buffet!
When we were in Asia the choices were awesome, not just boring cereal and toast, but Japanese, Chinese, Malay, European and Indian foods were all on offer. Some places even had dedicated Gluten Free options, but I found a lot of dishes were also naturally gluten free if I asked the chefs and explained what that meant
One dish I came across for the first time and really enjoyed was Appam, a delicious type of pancake made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk- crispy on the outside and softly spongy on the inside, yummo!
They're cooked in a small wok style pan called an Appachatti which gives the appam a nice bowl shape. The batter is swirled around the hot pan clinging to sides, then any excess drips to the centre to make the softer middle. A lid is clapped on top, and the appam steams gently until done. They are usually served with an egg in the centre or with a sweet palm sugar filling.
An expert at work, the lovely chef at our resort who made delicious appam to order
Ok, so I just had to try and recreate these at home- even though I didn't have a nice smiling chef to make them to order for me. He did however, give me the basic recipe outline so I could experiment
1 sachet (7gm) Dried Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1 cup of tepid Water
2 cups Rice Flour
good pinch of Salt
1 cup or so of Coconut Milk
Add the yeast and sugar to the cup of tepid water
Set it in a warm spot until it's risen, bubbly and alive!
Mix it into the rice flour, salt, and coconut milk. Cover it loosely and let it sit overnight to slightly ferment
Wakey, wakey! Time to start cooking !
Stir the batter thoroughly and thin it out with some more coconut milk or water if necessary. It should be the consistency of crepe batter- fairly thin
Ladle some into your hot pan and swirl it to evenly cover the edges. Don't worry if you don't have the right type of pan, you could use a wok if you like or even a frypan with a decent lip
Cover the pan, and let the appam steam set for just a minute or so
If you would like a savoury egg appam, crack an egg into the centre just before popping on the lid and let it steam set- delicious
Place a generous amount of fillings along the centre of your appam
Roll it up and......
Oh not quite as perfect as my professional Appam Chef's :(
But pretty darn good all the same!
I have to say that these are a really nice change from the usual type of gluten free pancake you probably make at home. There's a slight tang and yeastiness from the fermentation process and the crispy edges give a nice textural contrast to the dish. I would definitely make them again- especially the egg version- for a breakfast that's just a little bit different, and very definitely delicious!
So Dear Readers, what do you like for breakfast when you travel, and are you a fan of the Breakfast Buffet?
October 14, 2013
Hello my Lovelies- I'm back!
I missed you, I really, truly did, but I'm back now Nearly-Good-As-New and ready to get into the blogging groove.
It was a bit hectic there for a while with medical bits and pieces, with the worse part being that while I was in the Operating Room having surgery, BigJ was down in the Emergency Room with a ruptured disc in his back. The hospital certainly got a double whammy from our family that day! It's just as well that we've got such wonderful girls as MiddleC and littlej did a great job helping us, and littlej didn't even mind staying home from school to play Nurse for a while :)
Thank you all for your kind thoughts and well wishes, especially Lorraine, Celia, Charlie, and Tania who cheered me up so much and made my day with their emails and phone calls xox
Anyway, today's recipe is Violet Meringue
It's still Spring, and despite the bizarre Mid-Summer temperatures hitting so early, I have had some gorgeous little violets shyly peeping through the greenery in my kitchen garden. I've mentioned before that I just love floral flavours and violet is one that is so soft and subtle that it matches well with the light, billowy clouds of meringue that remind me of Spring skies and warm weather
My basic rule of thumb recipe for meringues, is for every 1 Egg White to use 1/4 cup of Castor Sugar
I also add a tiny splash of white vinegar for acid to strengthen the protein and a good pinch of gf cornflour to prevent any weeping- just in case there are a few stray sugar crystals
You can also add a small amount of liquid flavouring- for this 2 egg white quantity I used 1 tablespoon, and some colour as well. Just make sure that they aren't oil based or the mixture won't whip. (The oil based essence you can see here, I added carefully after beating and quickly marbled through just before baking)
I also used some gorgeous candied violets to add extra yumminess and a bit of texture on top
Make sure your egg whites are nice and clean without any specks of yolk, or they won't whisk. Your bowl and beaters need to be spotless too
Whisk the whites until they froth, then add in the sugar, vinegar and cornflour
Then beat until thick, white and glossy
Add in your violet flavouring syrup and mix through
I mixed the paste colour and violet oil together in a little bowl so it would distribute well
Placed some on the mixture
Then folded it through for a marbled effect
Dollop nice, generous piles of the mixture on baking sheets
Sprinkle with candied violets
Then bake in a 120*C oven for half an hour until the outside is nice and crispy, then turn the oven off and let them cool down inside it to dry out without humidity
I know the photos are a bit different, but I started this post pre-op and have finished it post-op, so a new batch of yummies were required. I should have been clever enough to check my first photos to make them match...but I wasn't :( oops!
Nice and crispy on the outside, with a softer, fluffy middle tasting so beautifully of violets and Spring time- Yummo
So Dear Readers, what's your favourite taste of Spring and who looks after you when you're sick?