A week in the life of Paul’s Caul… Experimenting with men…

What a week of experimenting, playing and generally just having a red hot go…no this has nothing to do with what went on with that boy at school camp, this was last week at work for me and I really do count myself extremely lucky to be able to describe a weeks work in such a way.

I’m back working with another great friend and chef compatriot much like ‘old G McFilthy mouth’. Herb and I have been lucky enough to work together all around Australia and several places here in Perth, so when he asked me to become the head chef in his company I jumped at the chance. And yes you read correctly his name is Herb, possibly the best chef’s name ever!

Leaving behind an amazing kitchen team and heaps of really good friends at Il Lido was the only negative thing. I just spent a year at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe and it changed my opinion of Italian cuisine, it truly is magnificent when done right and believe when I say it generally isn’t. It also took me the best of a year to finally appreciate my bosses sense of humour, but I now finally admit it – yes Alex, you are very funny. As for Vic, Mon, Stefano, Nic, John, Matty moo and the Geordie version of Adriano Zumba my old mate Gav, I already miss you all. So if you ever get a chance when in Perth pop in and say hi to the team there, go straight up to the pass and say gday to all the chefs, they may look really busy but they love it when people chat to them (this may or may not be true).

Back to my week of food adventure, so we had several things on last week with a new spring menu tasting on Thursday and a big winery lunch to cater down in Margaret River on Saturday, so plenty of new dishes to play with and tweak. The best thing about being a chef is that every chef you work with does every thing differently; this however is ironically also the worst thing.

Local crab, rice noodle, fresh wasabi, white tea, wakame
Local crab, rice noodle, fresh wasabi, white tea, wakame

Herb likes to play with lots of different products in the kitchen always looking to find a new way to thicken a sauce, set a gel, make a foam foamier, make a foam less foamy… you get the idea always looking at ways to get the exact texture or consistency in his food. His food is very texturally based, this is quite far from how I create food, which in turn is why I’m having so much fun and learning so much.

Iberico ham, broad beans, buffalo mozzarella, gazpacho essence, smoked almonds
Iberico ham, broad beans, buffalo mozzarella, gazpacho essence, smoked almonds

So we where up to our armpits in Agar Agar, Xanthum gum, fizz powders and some other shit I cant even pronounce plus sous viding the shit out of everything that wasn’t nailed down… we were thickening, blending, setting and running round the kitchen like a couple of mad scientists. This is a nutshell is why I’m still a chef and still loving every god damn minute, that and I love big fuck off knives.

 

Cauliflower yoghurt, vine ripened tomato juice, fried broccolini (awaiting the 24hr lamb)
Cauliflower yoghurt, vine ripened tomato juice, fried broccolini (awaiting the 24hr lamb)

Simple things like making rice noodle roll from scratch, making Turkish delight, pressing terrines but at every step adding a little extra love and in turn creating food that is born from love and tastes of it, food that you look forward to people eating and hopefully getting to see them eating it, hearing a grown or watching an expression of surprise as the dish you’ve spend days creating finally passes the lips of an unsuspecting diner. Its fucking food porn for chefs and foodies in general, even the fruit and veg on arrival is an exciting bonanza of under used vegetable gold (Just to clarify, an unsuspecting diner most likely is aware they are a diner, otherwise getting food in their mouth would just be weird and intrusive).

Soft set chai milk, almond dacquoise, orange blossom, salty caramel
Soft set chai milk, almond dacquoise, orange blossom, salty caramel

There is no end to how much fun can be had with food, a lot of it takes hours of monotonous tedious work, but this is needed to produce consistency in the obscure, symmetry in the uneven, perfection in non perfect, like anything to make things continually unpretentious and naturally, one generally has to work extremely hard to achieve this simplicity. So next time you get served a dish which screams simplicity and rocks your world flavour wise, then know much work has gone into the dish and savor it even more.

Amen my brother. Amen… G

Paul’s Caul… Cheesy fucking goodness. That’s right, I said fucking

Cheesy Effing Goodness

There has been a renaissance of late as far as comfort food on menus, and by comfort food I mean food from your childhood that warms not only your belly but also the cockles of your heart. By no means does comfort food reflect how the food feels when worn as clothing, this would be a rookie mistake that I believe would end in the polar opposite of comfort.

This new wave of dishes has come at us in the form of sliders, nacho’s, Reuben’s, chicken Parma’s, cheese fries and to be honest I love it all, who wouldn’t? I’ll tell you who, people that haven’t tried them… because all of this artery clogging, cheese encrusted goodness is delicious, it’s not subtle or refined but fuck it nor am I and I’m also delicious (if I do say so myself)

But without a doubt my favourite of this genre is the ‘Mac & Cheese’ the granddaddy of cheese based dishes, this dish has been done in every which way possible and is just at home on a fine dining menu as it is being served by a buck sum whench in the local tavern. Its simply pasta and cheese but to allow more cheese to be injected into you, a sauce is made and cheese is added to that then pasta is tossed through it and finally more cheese is layered over the top, of course you could deconstruct the shit out of this dish and create some absurd dish…
“Ravioli filled with Nepalese midget churned cheese served on a bed of brioche crumbs with 1000 year old salt from the lost world of Atlantis”

But this dish definitely doesn’t need to be fucked with that much… by all means change up the cheeses that go in and the kind of pasta but keep the essence of the dish true to its ridiculously unhealthy and delightful beginnings.

Sometimes trying to be healthy when making comfort food is quite simply wrong, it detracts from the point, it can start to remove fun from the process and definitely from the flavour. So all you health nuts out there just chill the fuck out put your almonds down for just one second and get some cheese into you.

In the words of my good friend Carla Da Bruce…

“Its like going to see a whore for a cuddle” you will get it, but at what price?

Wise words there kiddies…

Here’s how I made my Mac & cheese the other night…

Mac & Cheese
50g butter
50g plain flour
250ml milk
250ml cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 ¼ cup grated parmesan (something real not that shit in a green shaker)
1 cup grated cheddar (a nice bitey one)
1 ¼ cup grated mozzarella
100g stilton cheese
¼ cup torn basil leaves
½ cup breadcrumbs (make your own, you know how by now or use panko crumbs, you get them in a shop J)
2cups of macaroni pasta (follow instructions on packets and cook this then chill under cold water and set to one side)

• In a medium sized pot melt the butter and stir in the flour, this is a roux, cook whilst stirring for a minute
• Now slowly and on a low heat add the liquid gradually making sure to get all lumps out, then add the Dijon
• Cook this on low heat until it thickens slightly, it may only take 2 minutes or so
• Now slowly add 1 cup of each of the cheese and all of the stilton cheese, stirring as you go, continue stirring until all the cheeses have melted
• In another bowl mix the remaining cheeses ( ¼ cup parmesan and ¼ cup mozzarella) with the bread crumbs
• Now mix the cheese sauce around the cooked off pasta, add the basil leaves and check to see if it needs any seasoning (most likely will need pepper and not much salt)
• Spread this mixture into an oven proof dish with high sides, sprinkle top with the cheesy crumb mix and bake in an oven until its brown and delicious
• How hot should the oven be? I reckon you guys can work that out all by your self’s, and if you can’t just eat the mix

Feel free to add bacon, ham, tuna, corn, peas, asparagus, zucchini… the list just goes on and on, as this shit makes every thing taste good.

You can do individual serve in small oven dishes you can fill vegetables with the mix and bake them, in fact I reckon you could use the mix to put wall paper up… how’s that shit for versatile… take that rice!

Big assed risotto with chicken, chorizo and prawns to impress a crowd

aaaah, glorious
aaaah, glorious

When I pulled myself out of bed this morning I was met with the lingering smell of smoky goodness from our adventures the previous evening (just to clarify they were cooking adventures) and they memories came flooding back. No, that’s a lie. The memories sporadically trickled in like David Hasslehoffs fan mail.

A fuck off big paella pan screams out that you are not messing around in the kitchen tonight. Even if you are pan-frying two small children, you’re still not messing around. And this evening our paella pan screamed out to me.

So for the last day of work in my current employment, I decided what better way to say “fuck you life is going to be shit without me”… or maybe “thanks for having me, it’s been swell”, then to bring out my paella pan and cook a couple of small children (not local of course) if front of their very eyes. Now I don’t know if they came to say good bye, wish me well or just celebrate the fact I was getting out of their lives, but the thing is they came so I thought I should maybe put something a little more aesthetically pleasing on the table.

mis en place ready to go
mis en place ready to go
get Zac to cook
get Zac to cook

 

a good salad is a good accompaniment
a good salad is a good accompaniment

 

mmmm
mmmm. It tasted really good

Big assed risotto with chicken, chorizo, prawns, fennel and pickled chilli for a crowd

5 chicken marylands, free range fool, cut into three pieces. Roast that shit!

4 chorizo sausage, sliced

1kg king prawns

2 brown onions, diced

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

5 cloves garlic, bashed in a back alley brawl

1 quarter preserved lemon, flesh and pith removed, bruniose

1 lemon myrtle leaf, chiffonade

1kg risotto rice (aborio etc)

4lt hot stock – chicken or vegetable is good

5 guindillas (Spanish pickled chillis)

  • First you get one of your guests, say Soraya, to light the chiminea on the verandah
  • Once the smoke has died down get the paella pan hot, splash a little oil in the pan to heat up, then tell Zac the kitchen hand that he is going to start cooking dinner now
  • Get your self a beer and start instructing Zac on his culinary adventure
  • Sauté the onions, fennel, garlic and chorizo until fragrant and the chorizo is starting to free itself of its lovely red oil
  • Season
  • Add chicken, preserved lemon, lemon myrtle and rice
  • Cook out for a couple of minutes
  • Add stock and cook for 10-ish minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes, until rice is almost done
  • Add prawns and, if the risotto has taken all the liquid, add a little more stock (hot water will do because you’ve probably already used all of your stock) and cover with alfoil
  • Cook for another 5 minutes until this prawns are done
  • Garnish with guindillas, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil
  • Serve straight from the pan at the table, just so everyone remembers how OG you are
  • Get another beer and sit back and bask in your glory

 

Mole flavoured dukkah

IMG_3854

No, this is not dukkah flavoured with a small, blind animal or a nasty looking girl you met playing pool at the local bogan pub (not today any way), but in fact a dukkah made with the spice, nut and seed mix I was about to add to my Mexican mole (pronounced mol-ay) sauce.

I will start the story… Now.

I happened upon this quite by accident, which, if you have your cooking wits about you, will become a regular occurrence in your kitchen. If you are toast burner and a pot fuser, it is quite probable this will not be the case. It is also quite probable that you can’t read either so you won’t be trying this out any time soon. Or maybe you could get your carer to read it to you and see how you go from there. Or even just get your mum to make it for you, that’ll be heaps easier. Oh, you’re still on the boob… It all becomes clear now. Well, you won’t need anything else to eat then will you?

So as I was smashing up my toasted spices and seeds for the mole sauce for Mr Awesome (see previous post) I looked into the mortar and thought to myself; that looks and smells like dukkah. Olive oil and a crusty loaf of bread were on hand so I did the sums and decided this shit was going to happen.

The result was nothing short of magic. I am a genius I said to myself. To which self quickly agreed.

My job here is done.

IMG_3856

MOLE FLAVOURED DUKKAH for a heap of people drinking booze before the main event…
Roughly ¼ cup each of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, whole blanched almonds, cumin seed, coriander seed (these can be adjusted a little to your liking)
• Toast everything in the oven or in a pan…. Biggest to smallest. That means the pepitas and almonds go in first, then the coriander and cumin seed, and the sesame seeds last. Or toast them all separately if that seems like it’s going to be a bit to hard to handle.
• Roughly crush spices in a mortar and pestle, you don’t want a powder, it should still have a bit of texture and crunch
• Add a little salt
• Devour that shit with good olive oil from the Italian guy down the road and bread you just made.
• What a wanker I am…

*this could happily be paired with Paul’s warm olives, which you can find here, for a bit more excitement on your antipasto…

Salami, zucchini pickle, tomme and anchovy sandwich

 

Ok. I know I’ve been lacking a bit on the blogland post front a bit for the last week or so but don’t think it’s because I don’t love you. I’ve just been hella busy a work and also discovered I have a new best friend – Barmah Forest Virus*. Which goes a little like this… We love and hold each other until she decrees that she will release me from this organised marriage of which I wanted no part. We hang out day and night. We go to the park together, we eat together, heck, we even shower together. We’re not actual besties though… more like conjoined twins with a raging dislike for each other (mostly due to the fact that one of us is a compulsive masturbator)… Not unlike the 80’s classic Wedlock. Electronic collars containing explosive devices remotely connect Rutger Hauer and Mimi Rodgers. Fucked. I do not like her and wish she would go away never to return. So the short story is, I’m shit at the mo’. But whatever. I’m sure if you wanted to listen to whiney bastards weekly you wouldn’t have subscribed to this blog!

 

Food.

 

That is what I’m on about. Food to sooth the soul and revitalise the head face. Food that is the best shit ever. A damn good sandwich. So on with it kid…

 

My new favorite sandwich; Salami, zucchini pickle, Tomme goat’s cheese and anchovy. Even as I write this my hand is glistening with anchovy oil. I am excited! And not just because my hand is lubed up and ready to go. This is a damn good sandwich and you should try it some day for sure.

 

These are the things you need;

 

ready for the grillin'
ready for the grillin’

Zucchini pickle

I thought I’d given you a recipe for this previously but I haven’t. That, to me, is just plain rude, so here it is…

 

Zucchini pickle

3-4 medium zucchini, slice into thin rounds or diced

salt

1 brown onion, sliced

3 Tbls castor sugar

3 Tbls red wine vinegar

  • Sprinkle the zucchini with a tablespoon of salt an let it sit for 15 minutes while you start getting a little pickled yourself. You’re going to need to calm yourself a little. This sandwich is going to rock your world…
  • Sauté the zucchini and onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 10-15 minutes. You want to get a bit of colour on it, and it’s not a biggie if it starts to stick. That just means it’s time to get the other ingredients in
  • Add the sugar and vinegar and cook out on a medium heat for another 5 minutes, or until caramelised and syrup-y

 

 

Salami from someone who knows how to make salami. I do not know how to make salami but am keen to learn.

 

Tomme goats cheese = good shit. Try it.

 

Anchovies are in the back of your fridge. At the front of mine though.

 

Jen made the bread this morning.

 

Sandwich press available from Kmart for ten bucks.

 

White wine that Jonathon the wine merchant left in your fridge – free (I think this may have been what made my head sore the next day. In hindsight this was probably not the most calculated plan I have ever devised, but it was a plan none-the-less so I ran with it).

 

I am sorted!
I am sorted!

 

 

*a mosquito born virus not unlike Ross river. Look it up, it’s awesome.

Goulash in all it’s glory (Pauls Caul)

Goulash in all its glory

Well winter is definitely upon us and it’s cold, wow there’s a revelation… and with the cold come a serious need for two things that help with warming up the cockles of your heart…
1. Setting fire to your girlfriends cat (it will warm all parts of any room it is lit in)
2. Making goulash

Making goulash warms you on many levels (as does the cat thing). It will fill the house with an amazing aroma sure to bring a smile to your face, it will warm your belly when you eat it at a table with your loved one’s, and if you happen to spill some on yourself it will be sure to burn your skin right off your bone.

I first starting making this magical brown liquid in Thredbo circa 2000 and boy did I make a lot, on average I used to make thousands of litres every year (that fact is at probably at least 80% exact). On a snowy winters day there is nothing better then a bowl of goulash, well nothing legal anyway.

This soup originates from the ancient lands of Germania, some say “Hungary” and to that I respond “yes I am, can I have some goulash please”. Fables tell the story of a pretty young girl and a big bad wolf, to that I ask was it a wolf or a dodgy uncle? But fables aside goulash has been getting made since caveman first invented a saucepan, gas stove and small tins of paprika.

I often make this soup just to remind me of the great times I had in Thredbo, that’s what food does it transports you to the time you first had it, or the time you had the best version or most likely the time you where having sex with a couple of Swedish models and you tried their grandmothers meatballs (that is not a euphemism) regardless of what filth your mind conjures up, its always nice eating goulash ☺

Beef goulash
500g diced beef (chuck, rump)
4 large onions sliced
4 garlic cloves sliced
6 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon chilli powder
2 bay leafs
2.5 beef stock
• Cook off the onions in a large pot until they are translucent, then take out and set to one side
• Brown off the meat in small batches then when all browned add the onions back in as well as all other ingredients
• Simmer away for at least 2 hours or until the meat is tender
• Check seasoning and serve, some people like potatoes in their goulash if you are one of these so called people then simply add quartered chat potatoes 20 minutes before the end of your simmering.
If you’re thinking to yourself this sounds remarkably simple, well you’re right it is… remember it was a German caveman that came up with this recipe so don’t over think it.