Truffle Shot - Charity Dinner Amuse Bouch

I've mentioned this recently but as part of a charity auction for Assistance Dogs Australia, for $2,400, I was bought to cook a degustation meal for twelve of my work colleagues. To put it mildly, the pressure is on! I only have two weeks until the dinner so this weekend was all about practice. First up, a truffle shot amuse bouche.

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To be honest, this was pretty simple to make. Only a couple ingredients but the flavour was amazing and the look was eye-catching. You'll need (makes 4): 

  • 100g Shiitake mushrooms
  • 50g Enoki mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp duck fat
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 100ml thick cream
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche (preferably Pepe Saya
  • 6 pinches truffle salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil

Heat the duck fat in a non-stick pan until melted. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the garlic and Enoki mushrooms are browned and the Shiitake mushrooms are soft. Turn the heat off and add the cream, two pinches of the truffle salt, and pepper.  

Once the ingredients are mixed, add the creme fraiche and pour everything into a food processor or use a hand blender and blend until smooth.  Test the temperature to make sure the mixture is hot. If not, 15 seconds in the microwave will do the trick.

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Add to individual shot glasses and top with a pinch of truffle salt, two drops of truffle oil, and the tops of a couple Enoki mushrooms. Serve!

If you make this let me know what you think. I'm keen to discover new variations as this really is one of the better dishes I've invented. The more the merrier... 

Slow Egg and Potato Risotto

I have been dying to try to slow cook an egg and include it in some sort of decadent recipe for some time. So recently, when I was doing some flavour pairing research, I found that eggs go well with rosemary, potatoes, and mushrooms, and that inspired me to modify one of my earliest dishes, my potato risotto.

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Slow cooking eggs involves getting a big pot water to 60C (140F) and maintaining it there for about an hour. So, in addition to a large pot, you'll need a cooking thermometer to measure the temperature and maintain 60C. I used my large Scanpan pot and put it on my smallest burner on low and it took about 45 minutes to get up to temperature.

Once you've reached 60C and it has been stable for a few minutes add enough eggs for the portions of risotto you are serving. I'd actually recommend cooking a couple extras, just to be safe. Monitor the temperature every few minutes - if it starts to rise you'll need to add some ice cubes to keep things stable. Let the egg cook for an hour.

In the meantime, start preparing the potato risotto. You should start to cook the risotto about 30 minutes after you have started cooking the eggs.

Once the risotto is complete and the eggs have cooked for an hour, plate individual portions of the risotto, making a little well in the middle. Then gently crack an egg per serving and slide the soft egg on top of the risotto. Sprinkle some fresh parmesan and top with truffle oil. This is an easy-to-make but fun dish. And it's definitely decadent... mission accomplished!

Advanced Cooking Class at Urban Graze

A couple years ago we were introduced to Urban Graze by a close friend and his wife. Urban Graze (www.urbangraze.com.au) is based in Sydney and, amongst other things, conducts a wide variety of cooking classes. We love them because they are very hands-on and the owners, Tarrah and Joel, really get involved and ensure that you are doing things correctly and learning.

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Back in February, after three classes, we were feeling that we wanted to be challenged as the courses were interesting and tasty but we felt like we weren't learning much technique-wise. So we contacted Tarrah and discussed the potential for an advanced class. To our delight, they agreed that it was worth a try and we quickly booked a place for the inaugural Cooking Challenge class in August. Originally it was going to me and the Gourmet Female, along with a good mate and his partner. But when we realised she had a birthday party to attend my friend called a ring-in, his brother, who had never been to a class at the school before. Imagine our laughter when Joel opened the class with, "Now, we created this class for those who have been here a few times before and want to be challenged"! 

So while we think we have been a few times we were floored to understand that a couple of the other students (there were 10 of us in all) had been to over 100 classes! That's nuts. I'm just jealous...

The menu for the evening consisted of:

  • Mushroom and Goat Ricotta Tart
  • Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
  • Boned Stuffed Rolled Chicken with 5 Spice Sauce
  • Orange Roasted Pears with Brown Butter Ice Cream

I was lucky enough to get the dish I wanted to create, the "Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce". Technically, I think it was the toughest dish on the menu but we were up to the challenge - or so we thought! I've made pasta before so that wasn't so difficult. What was very hard was including just the right amount of filling and then resting a single egg yolk in the middle, then closing the ravioli without any air inside and without breaking the yolk! In the end, it took longer than planned but we delivered a dozen beautiful raviolis and a gorgeous sage brown butter sauce. It was very satisfying. 

Now, in the heat of the moment my photo came out horrible. So, pardon the poor shot - I'll hopefully replace it once Urban Graze puts up their shots from the night. UPDATE: Tarrah and Joel have put up their shots from the night so thankfully this is a much better shot of our dish. Thanks, guys!

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And it was oozy, as intended...

The mushroom tart was fantastic but unfortunately I didn't get a shot in as I was frantically trying to finish our raviolis. After our dish was the chicken, which had a depth of flavour that I didn't expect.

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Now while I took a great deal of personal satisfaction from our ravioli dish, I was equally as happy that the guys were really enjoying themselves while creating their dessert. And the cooking class rookie was really smashing the pears out of the park. Everyone was impressed!

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To be honest, it's through things like this that I really expand my skills and cooking toolkit. You may not be ready for the advanced courses yet but I'd suggest every guy should get to a cooking class once a year. You owe it to yourself and your family to at least have some basic skills and know some tasty dishes to impress your friends. And they serve wine!

For what you would spend on a nice dinner out you can not only eat food that's probably better tasting, but also learn some things that you can take home with you.

Next up, I've got some cayenne peppers mashing to make hot sauce and some sourdough starter beginning to bubble away...