Sole Meunière – when Julia Child first came to France

I have always been intrigued with the idea of cooking Sole Meunière, the classic French dish first tasted by Julia Child on her arrival in France in 1948. However, I always thought the dish might be a bit too simple (a piece of fish pan-fried in butter!) and also thought it would be difficult to photograph to look good on the plate.

However, after re-reading my copy of Julia’s book, My Life in France, I realized that this recipe was much too important to pass by. After all, this was the dish that re-awakened her gastronomic senses to transform the experience into “the most exciting meal of my life.” Prior to this meal eaten at Rouen’s La Couronne restaurant, Julia had experienced only mundane fish dishes of “broiled mackerel for Friday dinners and codfish balls with egg sauce.”

However, Sole Meunière became a real epiphany for Julia. As she ate the sole “perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top,” she experienced “fish and a dining experience of a high order than I’d ever had before.” After reading this, I realized that I now had to take the plunge and try this recipe.

In French, a meunière is a miller’s wife, so Sole Meunière literally means sole cooked the way a miller’s wife would prepare it. More prosaically, it refers to fish that has been floured and fried in butter. If you can’t find any sole, you can use other thin fillets such as flounder, John Dory, trout or whiting- I used John Dory fillets.

There are a few tips and variations for this recipe. Julia Child recommends using unsalted clarified butter for frying the fish. This is butter where the milk solids have been removed, thus preventing the butter from burning. You could also use a combination of cooking oil and butter (1:3 ratio) to achieve the same result, although I prefer the clarified butter option.

In order to test whether the fish is cooked, Julia recommends pressing your finger tip against the fish; it should feel ‘springy rather than squashy.’ If it has turned flaky, it is over cooked. She also recommends seasoning the fish with ground white pepper, otherwise it might look like the fish has ‘fly specks.’ You can use black pepper if you wish, but just season the ‘non-presentation side’ to avoid viewing the fly specks.

After you have readied all of your ingredients, this dish is very quick to prepare. The decorative lemon pieces are optional, but I recommend including them; they really dress up the plate. And as for my previous comment about Sole Meunière being too simple a dish to try- this is not true. It turns out that the simpler dishes are often the most delicious!

In order to make this dish, I recommend starting by preparing the decorative lemon slices, using a ‘channeller’ to make grooves in the lemons. First you carve grooves in the lemon going vertically, spacing the grooves about 1/4 inches apart. Then slice the lemon in half horizontally to make ‘star shapes’- then slice these in half.

After preparing the decorative garnish, the rest of the recipe goes quickly. Please note that the recipe says to fry the fish in 3-4 tbsp clarified butter. The amount you use depends on the size of your frying pan and the amount of fish you cook; obviously you would use a smaller amount of butter if using a smaller fry pan, etc. Bon apetit!

Sole Meunière
Serves 4
This classic French dish transformed Julia Child from a person who loved to eat into a woman who loved to cook!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 – 6 Sole fillets or other thin fish fillets without skin
  2. Salt and white pepper for seasoning
  3. 1 cup or so white flour
  4. 3 – 4 tbsp clarified butter for cooking the fish
  5. 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  6. 4 – 6 tbsp additional butter for the sauce
  7. Juice from ½ lemon for the sauce
  8. 2 lemons to decorate the plate
Instructions
  1. Prepare the decorative lemon slices as illustrated in the photos above.
  2. Season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and lightly coat each side of the fish with the flour; shake off any excess.
  3. Over high heat, place enough of the clarified butter in a fry pan to form a thin film about 1/16 inch thick. Heat the butter until it becomes very hot, but not turning brown. Reduce the heat slightly and then fry each fish fillet in the butter for about 2 minutes each side; cook only as many fish at one time that will easily fit into the pan. The fish should feel ‘springy’ to the touch when finished rather than ‘squashy.’ Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm while the remaining fish are cooking.
For the sauce
  1. After all fish have been cooked, wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Over high heat, add the 4- 6 tbsp unsalted butter (not clarified) and heat until it bubbles and starts to turn a nut brown color. Be careful the butter does not burn and turn black. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the juice from ½ lemon. Pour the sauce over the fish fillets, sprinkle with the diced parsley and then arrange the lemon slices decoratively around the plate.
Notes
  1. The amount of butter used in the recipe should be adjusted to both the size of your fry pan and also the amount of fish you are using. If you don't want to use clarified butter, then use a combination of 1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable or olive oil) to 3 tbsp unsalted butter.
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Chocolate + Peanut Butter Molten Lava Cake

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake (akaEasy Chocolate Fondant’) was my very first blog post over three years ago. I keep on coming back to this recipe since it is rather easy (only 5 ingredients) and it’s also awe-despairingly delicious. At that time, I didn’t know much about photography: I just pushed the ‘automatic’ button on the camera and hoped for the best:

My first blog post- February 2013

Chocolate Fondant

To experiment further, I thought, “What would happen if I added a dab of peanut butter to the cake batter?” Well, the ‘molten lava’ continued to flow from the cake, but this time it was even more rich and decadent, with the peanut butter weaving through the flow of chocolate.

To make the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Molten Lava Cake, the process is the same; first you prepare your molds by brushing the insides with melted butter then dusting with some cocoa powder. The butter and chocolate are then melted together over a pan of simmering water and the eggs and sugar are beaten together until frothy. The flour is then folded into the combined ingredients.

To get the special peanut butter and chocolate lava effect, you first fill each mold halfway with batter, then add a dab of peanut butter, followed by more batter. In other words, the peanut butter is ‘sandwiched’ in the middle.

Note: for my molten lava cakes, I used a rather large mold: about 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep. This helped to create the effect of the center of the cake ‘collapsing’ inward. You could also use the smaller dariole type molds, although the effect will not be as great.

Also, baking time depends on the size of your molds; for my larger molds, I baked them for 13 minutes and only 11 minutes for the smaller dariole molds. To test for ‘doneness’, the center of the cake should spring back when pressed with your finger.

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Lava Cake
Serves 8
Chocolate and Peanut Butter lava flowing from a decadent chocolate cake
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
13 min
Total Time
43 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
13 min
Total Time
43 min
Ingredients
  1. Melted butter for greasing – Cocoa powder for dusting the ramekins
  2. 1/2 cup butter (110 grams)
  3. 200 grams (7 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  4. 1/2 cup white sugar (100 grams)
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 4 egg yolks
  7. 1 cup plain flour (110 grams), sifted
  8. 1 tbsp peanut butter for each mold
  9. Thickened cream to serve, icing sugar to dust (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360 °F (180° C). Grease ramekins (pudding molds) with melted butter and dust insides with cocoa powder. Place on baking tray.
  2. Place a round piece of baking paper to fit the bottom of each ramekin to ensure the fondant lifts out easily after baking.
  3. Combine the butter and chocolate together and place over a saucepan of simmering water- stir until melted.
  4. In a separate bowl, add together 4 eggs and 4 separated egg yolks with the sugar- mix on high speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and foamy (but not stiff).
  5. Now gradually add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, folding in small amounts at a time until glossy and smooth.
  6. Fold in the flour until smooth. Fill each mold half-way with the batter, add 1 tbsp peanut butter, then finish filling the mold almost to the top. Place the molds in fridge for at least 1/2 hour or until ready to serve.
  7. Bake for 11- 13 minutes on a tray – fondants should appear to be cooked on top but do not over-cook. The center of the cake should spring back slightly when touched.
  8. Remove from oven and let stand for several minutes – then run a knife gently around the rim of each mold and turn each fondant out onto a serving plate or bowl.
  9. Sprinkle with white icing sugar; add thick cream on the side if desired, for extra ‘yumminess.’
Notes
  1. This recipe will yield about 5 serves if you use the larger molds and about 8 serves if you use the smaller dariole molds
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mini Chicken Enchilada Bake

Arriving back last week from tropical Darwin to our home in chilly Adelaide (see my post Darwin Chili Mud Crab), I was ready for something hot and spicy- what better way than to whip up some mini Chicken Enchiladas!

The tomato sauce for the enchiladas is spiced with chili, cumin, Mexican chili powder, corn and an optional splash of white wine. Already I can feel (taste) the heat!

I filled the enchiladas with shredded chicken breast: I normally think chicken breast is too dry for my taste, however after I poached it in water for several minutes, the meat was nice and tender. I used mini-tortillas since they are ‘cute’ and easy to handle.

Mini enchiladas ready to go into the oven

A friend of mine once said that she doesn’t cook Mexican-inspired food at home since “there are already so many Mexican restaurants and fast-food places around.” But it’s ‘game on’ for me- I’ll take the heat anytime!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Mini Chicken Enchilada Bake
Serves 8
Easy chicken enchiladas made with mini tortillas
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
For the sauce
  1. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  2. 2 garlic cloves, diced
  3. 1 long red or green chili, chopped
  4. 1 tsp cumin
  5. 1 tsp Mexican chili powder
  6. 1 small can of corn
  7. Splash of white wine (optional)
  8. 1 can (14 oz or 400 g) diced tomatoes
For the chicken mixture
  1. 2 cups (280 g) shredded cooked chicken breast
  2. 1/2 cup (115 g) sour cream
  3. 2-3 tbsp of the sauce (from above)
  4. 1 cup grated extra tasty cheddar cheese
  5. 1 fire roasted red pepper (from jar), diced
  6. Salt to taste
  7. 8 mini tortillas
For the garnish
  1. 1 sliced avocado
  2. 1 spring onion, sliced
  3. Coriander (cilantro)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Add a little olive oil to a fry pan and sauté the onion, garlic and chili over medium-high heat until soft. Add the cumin, Mexican chili powder, can of diced tomatoes, corn and splash of white wine (optional); reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened and set aside.
  2. Prepare the shredded cooked chicken breast (see Notes below). In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chicken meat, sour cream, 2-3 tbsps. of the sauce, cheddar cheese and chopped fire-roasted red pepper. Add salt to taste.
  3. Place each mini-tortilla onto a flat surface and top with several tablespoons of chicken mixture. Roll up each tortilla and place seam-down into a rectangular baking dish. Add the sauce and then top with the cheddar cheese. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the enchiladas turn golden and are cooked through. To serve, add the sliced spring (green) onion, avocado slices and coriander.
Notes
  1. To cook my chicken breast meat, I first chopped the breast up into 3-4 pieces, then poached the meat for 6-7 minutes in a saucepan filled with water, several pieces of crushed garlic and a splash of white wine and some chicken stock. This made the meat tender and flavorful.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Darwin Chili Mud Crab

Mud Crab

As my plane landed in Darwin on a recent holiday, I couldn’t wait to try making one of the local traditional recipes: Chili Mud Crab. Mud crabs (called “muddies” by locals) are found in the estuaries and mangroves of the Northern Territory and are known for their huge claws, which produce ‘bucket loads’ of tasty meat. The crab that I used for my dish weighed about 2.6 pounds (1.2 kgs). 

Crab

Darwin’s food is highly influenced by Asian flavors due to its proximity to Southeast Asia, therefore giving birth to dishes such as Chili Mud Crab. One interesting fact: during the gold rush of the 1880’s, there were more Chinese living in the Northern Territory than European-born people!

To prepare your Chili Mud Crab (you could also use Blue Swimmer or Dungeness crabs) , you first need to remove the legs and claws from the crab’s body, then crack the claws open at several places to make it easier to eat the meat later on.

Remove legs and claws from crab’s body

Crab (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

Next, place your thumb underneath the triangular-shaped abdominal flap and lift off the bottom part of the crab’s body. You will now see the crab’s spongy lungs; remove these and any of the ‘gooey’ roe.

Remove the spongy lungs from the body

Crab (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

Chop the crab’s body into four sections using a cleaver. Then, chop the onion, chili, garlic and ginger and you’re now ready to assemble the dish in a wok or large pot.

Crab (4 of 4) (1 of 1)

For the final assembly, sauté the veggies in hot oil in the wok or pot, then add the tomato purée, chili sauce and white wine. Pop the crab pieces into the wok, cover with a lid for about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat until the meat is cooked and the crab shells turn red. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) and prepare to get your fingers a little dirty as you eat!

Crab

I loved visiting Darwin with the balmy tropical air, the Asian influences and the proximity to national parks such as Kakadu and Litchfield. I was sad to leave Darwin and the beautiful sunsets, however I will return again one day to make more dishes using their wonderful mud crabs!

Darwin Sunset

Darwin Sunset

Chili Mud Crab
Huge chunks of luscious crab meat cooked with an Asian influence
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Mud Crab, segmented (or other type of fresh, uncooked crab)
  2. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, diced
  5. 2 tbsp ginger, diced
  6. 1 red chili, seeded and diced
  7. 2 cups (500 ml) tomato purée (passata)
  8. 3-4 tbsp chili sauce
  9. ¼ cup white wine
  10. Coriander (cilantro)
Instructions
  1. Separate the crab into pieces; first remove the claws and legs of the crab by twisting and pulling them from the crab’s body. Using a cleaver, separate the claws at the elbow joint then crack them open in several places to reveal the meat.
  2. Lift the abdominal flap on the underside to open the crab’s body; remove the ‘spongy’ lungs and clean the roe from the shell. Using a cleaver, chop the body into quarters. Set all body parts aside.
  3. Set the wok or large pot over high heat; add the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and chili several minutes until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato purée, chilli sauce and white wine; let simmer for several minutes. Add the crab pieces and turn with a spatula until all pieces are fully coated with the sauce. Cover with a lid and let cook for at least ten minutes until the crab meat is fully cooked and infused with the chili sauce. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) - goes well served on a bed of rice.
Notes
  1. Adjust the seasoning to your individual taste- if you like more heat, add more chili or chili sauce to your liking.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mango and Banana Caramel Tart

 

Tart 10

I could smell the caramel a mile away when making this recipe. This tart has a calypso feel to it- tropical mangoes and bananas steeped in a rich caramel sauce, then ‘baptized’ in a splash of rum and nutmeg and then anchored in a flaky buttery crust. I’m already howling for more!

I came across this recipe while reading a food magazine near Portland, Victoria in Australia. We had just returned from a ½ mile walk to see a colony of seals and a kangaroo had bolted across our path on our return back. What a great way to finish the day- a close encounter with seals, a kangaroo and now a delicious caramel tart recipe!

The recipe is pretty easy. First, you heat sugar and butter in a fry pan to make a caramel flavored with rum, nutmeg and vanilla bean, then let the mangoes and bananas simmer in the sauce until soft.

Then roll out a pastry dough and place it on top of the caramel mixture- bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Final step- place a serving plate on top and then invert the tart onto the plate. Serve warm, plain or with a scoop of ice cream.

THE PARTY

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Mango and Banana Caramel Tart
Serves 6
This recipe is like a 'Tarte Tatin' but made with mangoes, bananas and a touch of rum.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Pastry
  1. 1 1/2 cup flour
  2. 2 tbsp sugar
  3. Pinch salt
  4. ¾ cup cold butter, cubed
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 tbsp iced water
Tart Filling
  1. ½ cup caster sugar
  2. 3 tbsp butter
  3. 2 mangoes, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  4. 1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped
  5. 1 tbsp dark rum
  6. Pinch nutmeg
  7. 2 bananas, halved, sliced lengthwise
For the Pastry
  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture. Rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the egg; mix well with spoon or spatula. Add the iced water and continue to mix; turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until mixture holds its shape. Form into ball, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for one hour.
For the Tart filling
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Place the sugar and butter in an oven-proof fry pan (about 9 inches wide). Over high heat, occasionally shake the pan until the mixture starts to bubble and turn brown, forming a caramel. This should take about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the mango, vanilla bean, rum and nutmeg; reduce the heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and the mango caramelises. Add the banana slices and cook for another 5 minutes, turning the bananas gently to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick, then shape the dough so that it is 1 inch wider than the diameter of the fry pan.
  4. Lay the dough over the fruit mixture in the pan and tuck the ends under a bit. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Place a serving plate over the fry pan and invert the tart onto the plate. Serve warm plain or with ice cream.
Adapted from Feast Magazine
Adapted from Feast Magazine
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Tagine

Three years ago I bought a tagine, mainly to be used as a photographic prop. It sat in storage for several years, until I decided to take it out to cook a Moroccan chicken stew. Now I am absolutely hooked- I’ve been cooking lots of stews in them, including lamb, chicken, beef and fish. The conical lid of the tagine allows the steam to rise to the top and then fall back down and circulate along the bottom, locking in the moisture and flavors. No pre-heating of the oven is required- just place your tagine on low heat and the cooking takes care of itself.

Most traditional tagines are made of clay and are not designed to be cooked on top of a modern gas or electric stove, unless used with a diffuser. However, some companies like Emile Henry make glazed ‘flame top ceramic’ tagines that can be used directly on an electric or gas hob.

Émile Henry Tagine- can work directly on electric or gas stove top

Emile Henry tagine

My recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives uses a chermoula marinade flavored with preserved lemons, ginger, cumin, ginger and saffron threads. Green olives, chopped potatoes and tomatoes are then added to the base, creating delicious Morrocan flavors! You’ll only need a small amount of liquid to cook your tagine stew; after a few minutes you’ll start to hear your tagine start to bubble away, but no peeking! It’s best to keep the lid on during the cooking.

It took me three tries to get this recipe perfect. The first time, my husband said that this “was not his favorite dish.” At first, he said there was too much lemon taste (I then cut back on the amount of preserved lemon). He also said the taste was a “bit too bland” (I then added a bit more chili and ginger) and I later decided to brown the chicken beforehand to caramalize and lock in the flavors of the meat. On the third try, he said the dish was great and he went back for seconds. It’s great to have a resident taste-tester available!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

 

 

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives
Serves 5
Chicken marinated with delicious Moroccan flavors and slow-cooked in a Tagine
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
For the Chermoula Marinade
  1. 2 diced garlic cloves
  2. ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and finely sliced
  3. 1 shallot bulb, diced
  4. ½ red chilli
  5. 1 tbsp diced ginger
  6. 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  7. 1 tbsp ground cumin
  8. 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  9. 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  10. Pinch of safftron threads soaked in a little water
  11. ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
  12. Salt
Main Ingredients
  1. 5-6 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks with bone in)
  2. 2 tomatoes (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  3. 2 medium onions (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  4. 2 potatoes
  5. 10-12 pitted green olives
  6. 1 cup (250 ml) water combined with the remaining marinade
Garnish
  1. Chopped coriander
  2. ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and cut into thin strips
Instructions
  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Rub ½ of the marinade on the chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours (longer if possible).
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown in a separate fry pan, using several tablespoons of olive oil. Drain the pieces on kitchen paper and set aside. Chop one tomato and one onion and spread the mixture over the base of the tagine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the base). Place the chicken pieces on top.
  3. Cut the potatoes into wedges and arrange around the chicken. Top with the remaining sliced tomato and sliced onion and then push the olives into the gaps. Combine the water with the remaining marinade and pour over the mixture. Decorate with the preserved lemon strips.
  4. Cover the tagine with the lid and cook over very low heat for one hour. Do not lift the lid or stir during the cooking. Garnish the dish with some chopped coriander; serve with couscous or rice.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mussel Saffron Soup

Mussell (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

I really like cooking with mussels because you can get that real seafood experience  without the usual hassles of removing fish bones and skin. And it only takes about 5 minutes to cook the mussels on the stove top- full of flavor but so easy to make!

Living in South Australia for part of the year, I’m lucky to have access to wonderful mussels and oysters from the Port Lincoln area, located on the Boston Bay.

Boston Bay, South Australia

Boston Bay

Boston Bay Mussels

Mussels are ‘filter-feeders’, which means they filter organic matter from the surrounding sea waters. They are very high in iron, protein and omega 3 vitamins. Most mussel recipes caution you to discard any mussels whose shells have not opened after cooking. ‘Murray the Mussel‘ from this little video clip shows you this is a myth!

 

My recipe for Mussel Saffron Soup has a white wine and chicken stock base, flavored with a bit of curry powder and saffron. Mussel broth can become quite salty, so I use some cream to cut the salty taste. Garnished with some chopped parsley, this makes a quick tasty dish for lunch or dinner!

Mussel Saffron Soup
Serves 3
Tender mussels served in a slightly spiced white wine broth.
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Cooking liquid for the mussels
  1. 1 kg (2.2 lbs) mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  2. Olive oil/butter
  3. 2 shallots, finely chopped
  4. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  5. 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  6. 1 leek, white part- chopped
  7. 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  8. Thyme/bay leaf
  9. 1 tsp curry powder
  10. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  11. 3 cups dry white wine
  12. 2 cups fish or chicken stock
Thickening and finish
  1. ½ cup thickened cream
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. Saffron threads- a ‘pinch’
  4. Chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Soften the shallots, garlic, celery and leeks in a little oil and butter on the stovetop.
  2. Add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, curry powder and cayenne powder, white wine and stock. Add the cleaned mussels, place the lid on the saucepan and cook several minutes until the mussel shells open.
  3. Remove the mussels from the pan. Pass the remaining liquid broth through a strainer.
  4. Reduce the mussel cooking broth by about 1/3, then add the saffron threads. Combine the egg yolks with the cream in a separate small bowl, then gradually stir the mixture into the broth to thicken. Pass through a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Remove the meat from the mussels, retaining some in their shells to garnish the soup. To plate, place the mussel meat on the bottom of a serving bowl, cover with the hot broth and garnish with several mussels in their shells. Garnish with some finely chopped parsley.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
 

Banana Cupcakes with Butter Cream Icing

 

What to do with a batch of over-ripe bananas that have been sitting on the counter for way too long? Why, use them to make some banana cupcakes, of course! And adding the butter cream icing on top makes them even more delicious.

I recently finished my course in ‘US Foreign Policy’ at Flinders University in Adelaide; after sweating through the exam, I no longer have to think about concepts such as the Cold War or ‘communist containment’- thank goodness I can comfort myself with these banana cupcakes instead!

Banana Cupcakes with Butter Cream Icing
Yields 9
Cupcakes flavored with real banana pulp and topped with a delicious butter cream icing.
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
40 min
For the Banana Cupcakes
  1. ½ cup sugar
  2. ¼ cup (60 g) softened butter
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. ½ cup mashed banana pulp
  5. 1 ¼ cup white flour
  6. 1 tbsp baking powder
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. Sprinkle of cinnamon powder
  9. 1 tbsp poppy seeds or chia seeds (optional)
  10. ½ cup milk
For the Butter Cream Icing
  1. ½ cup (125 g) softened butter
  2. 1 ½ cup icing sugar
  3. 2 tbsp milk
  4. 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cream together the sugar and softened butter using electric beaters. Add the egg yolks and banana pulp and continue to beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds and cinnamon. Add this dry mixture to the banana pulp/egg mixture, then add the milk and combine all ingredients using electric beaters.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with patty pan (cupcake) liners. Fill each liner ¾ full with the cupcake mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on top. Let cool while preparing the icing.
For the icing
  1. Combine the softened butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl; mix using electric beaters until smooth. Place mixture in a piping bag and pipe onto each cupcake. Optional: sprinkle a few poppy or chia seeds on top of each cupcake.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Whole Baked Snapper + How to Carve it Like a Pro!

Whole Baked Snapper

Having a whole baked fish presented to you on a plate is such a grand experience, with the fishes body shimmering before you, the succulent pan juices dripping on the plate and the tender meat falling off the bone. But how do you eat a whole baked fish- where do you begin? Do you start hacking at it with your knife and fork or approach it like a medical procedure, gently removing bones and tissue?

I first came across this dilemma in Viet Nam several years ago when I ordered a whole baked fish. I took my fork and plowed into the fish, but immediately hit bone. Luckily the waiter came to my rescue and dissected the fish for me.

This post will show you how to successfully carve a whole baked fish (and not die trying!) This is especially useful if you are serving a large fish suitable for several people, and you need to divide the fish up in a tidy manner without encountering any bones.

But first let’s talk about why some of us lust over whole baked fish. The answer is easy- by cooking the fish in its bones, the flesh becomes nice and tender and the pan juices oozing from the fish are wonderful!

Whole Baked Snapper Recipe

The recipe for my Baked Snapper is easy- you simply place some coriander, lemon slices and kaffir lime leaves in the cavity of the fish. Then you make three diagonal cuts on both sides of the fish and rub a chili, garlic and lemon mixture into the skin. After you sprinkle some salt and olive oil onto the fish, it’s baked in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. And then the fun starts of carving and eating the fish!

If you want to skip the part on how to carve a whole baked fish, then please flip to the bottom of the page to view the recipe. And by the way, if you haven’t already done so, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

How to Carve a Whole Baked Fish

Step 1: Make an incision with your knife along the head and along the tail to release the flesh.

Carve Snapper 1

Step 2: Peel back the skin, then make an incision down the middle of the fish

Step 3: Using the edge of your knife, scrape the small ‘pin bones’ away from the top edge of the fish.

Step 4: Repeat on the bottom part of the fish: scrape the small ‘pin bones’ away from the bottom edge of the fish. Then, using the edge of your knife, gradually scrape the top half of the fillet off the bone.

Scrape the small pin bones away from bottom edge of fish

Carve Snapper (15 of 15) (1 of 1)

Gradually scrape the top half of the fillet off the bone

Step 5: Continue to slide the fillet off to the side of the fish, then transfer onto a serving dish.

Step 6: Repeat with the bottom half of the fish: scrape the fillet off the bone and to the side of the fish.

Step 7: Then transfer to the serving dish, along side the other piece of fish. Important: for each step, please test for any remaining pin bones and remove them along the way.

Step 8: You’re not done yet! You still have to deal with the bottom half of the fish. But you’re almost finished. The fish skeleton is now easily visible- simply grab the tail end and lift the skeleton off the fish.

Step 9: Divide the remaining fish into two fillets and then transfer onto a serving dish. You can either add them onto the same dish as the other two fillets, or place them onto a new dish.

To finish: add the pan juices, coriander and lemon slices onto the serving plate with the fish and serve.

Whole Baked Snapper
Whole Baked Snapper with a slightly spicy lemon chili rub. You'll love the juicy pan drippings and tender flaky meat!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. Kaffir lime leaves and several lemon slices
  2. Coriander sprigs
  3. 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  4. ¼ preserved lemon , diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  6. 1/2 lemon, juiced
  7. 1 whole Snapper, gutted and cleaned
  8. Drizzle of olive oil
  9. Salt
For the garnish
  1. Coriander, chopped
  2. Lemon slices
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Make sure all scales are removed from your fish.
  2. Place some Kaffir lime leaves, coriander sprigs and several lemon slices in the inside of the fish cavity.
  3. Mix the chili sauce, preserved lemon, garlic and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Score the skin of the Snapper on both sides using a sharp knife (3 cuts on the diagonal on each side) and then spread the chili mixture all over, working it into the score marks.
  4. Drizzle olive oil generously on both sides of the fish and then season with salt. You can bake the fish immediately, or let it marinate for up to 20 minutes.
  5. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the flesh is cooked and the skin is rather crispy.
  6. To serve, carefully remove the flesh from the top part of the fillet, removing any pin bones. After the top half of the fish flesh has been removed, it is very easy to then lift off the skeleton of the fish to reveal the bottom half of the fish. Remove all pin bones. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and drizzle with a bit more lemon juice.
  7. Serve the fish pieces on a plate and top with the pan juices and lemon slices.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Strawberry Chocolate Box

Chocolate Box

I haven’t posted anything for awhile since I have been busy finishing up my French paper on Émile Zola’s book The Belly of Paris (Le Ventre de Paris). The story is set in mid-19th century Paris in the old market of Les Halles, the giant iron structure that housed meat, poultry, fish, flowers and charcuterie for sale. In his book, Zola uses vast descriptions of the market- whole pages to describe the vegetables, cheeses, ‘stinking fish,’ and freshly-killed calves ‘swaddled in blankets with just the four bloody stumps sticking out.” If I were to die tomorrow, I feel like those images would still remain in my brain into the after-life.

Unfortunately, Les Halles* was torn down in the early 1970’s and I never got to see it. My husband got to visit there and Julia Child describes the market in her biography. Now, the old market has been replaced by a multi-level sterile shopping center, although new renovations are happening there now.

* For those of you wondering how to pronounce the words Les Halles, the ‘h’ is silent, so you would pronounce it as ‘Lay Alles’.

The old Les Halles– Paris

Les Halles

To celebrate my marathon experience of reading and writing about Zola’s book, I made (and ate) a dessert called Strawberry Chocolate Box. Melted chocolate is first formed into a square box-shape, then filled with some chocolate mousse and then dotted with cointreau-glazed strawberries and whipped cream.This dessert would have fitted in well at the old Les Halles market! It’s not too difficult to make- just getting the edges of the ‘chocolate box’ to form a straight line can take a little bit of effort.

To make this dessert, first you place two pieces of foil cross ways inside a square pan (this makes it easy to lift the dessert out of the pan at the end). Then the pan is lined with a thin layer of melted chocolate, coming to about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.The chocolate mousse filling is then poured into the chocolate ‘box’ and placed in the fridge until set. After removing the foil, glazed strawberries and whipped cream are then added.

Adding the chocolate mousse to the chocolate-lined pan

Chocolate Box

I don’t mind getting my face smudged with this chocolate dessert!

Chocolate Box

And by the way, if you haven’t already done so, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Strawberry Chocolate Box
Serves 4
Cointreau-glazed strawberries placed inside a chocolate 'box' filled with chocolate mousse
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Chocolate Box
  1. 5 ounces (150g) dark chocolate
  2. 2 tbsp butter
  3. 1 punnet strawberries
  4. 1 cup thickened cream (to make whipped cream)
For the strawberry glaze
  1. ¼ cup strawberry or cherry jam
  2. 2 tsps Cointreau or brandy
For the Chocolate Filling
  1. 2 ounces (60g) dark chocolate
  2. 1 tbsp Cointreau or brandy (optional)
  3. 2 eggs, separated
  4. ½ cup cream
To make the chocolate mousse filling
  1. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl placed on top of pan of simmering water (i.e. double boiler). Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in the two egg yolks and Cointreau or brandy (optional). Beat until mixture is smooth and thick. Whip the cream lightly with a fork, then add to the chocolate mixture. Using electric beaters, whip the two egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the chocolate mixture. Set aside.
To make the chocolate box
  1. Place two sheets of foil in a square pan, overlapping cross ways. Bring the foil up over the top of the pan to allow easy removal of the chocolate case when set.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl placed on top of a pan of simmering water. Pour into the foil-lined pan and spread thinly along the base and sides; the chocolate should come about 1 ½ inches up the sides of the pan. Try to keep the top edges of the chocolate as straight as possible to form the box shape. Place pan in fridge for a few minutes until set.
  3. Remove from fridge and then pour the chocolate filling into the pan and spread evenly. Place back in fridge until the mixture sets. Remove from fridge and gently peel the foil from the chocolate- you should now have a square box-like shape. (Don’t worry if the edges of the box are not real straight- try to smooth down the edges by running your wet finger along the edges).
  4. In the meantime, heat the strawberry jam and Cointreau (or brandy) together on the stovetop until the mixture becomes like a syrupy glaze. Hull the strawberries and then coat them with the glaze. Whip 1 cup of cream using electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Place the whipped cream inside a piping bag.
  5. Place the strawberries inside the chocolate box and then pipe in some of the whipped cream around the sides and center of the chocolate box.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/